This Republican Decade: Snatching Victory from Jaws of Defeat

How have the Republicans – who took us into a war in Iraq under false pretenses, and basically caused the Great Recession – been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? How did they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat? It isn’t all about backlash to global change. It also may be about a Party that seized a moment and a movement.

It seems as if the Republicans have been obstructing government forever but by the numbers the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until 2011 (until the election in 2010 actually), then they still had control of the Senate until 2013 when Republicans took control of both houses until 2019.

Of course, we remember that Mitch McConnell swore to obstruct Obama in every way. People like to blame Obama for the Republican’s obstruction saying that he passed the ACA in secrecy in the middle of the night without any Republican votes and that the rest of the obstruction was just payback. But clearly this obstruction was the result of a nexus of Conservative activity by a number of different actors and we know this because every Conservative used the same reasoning right down to the same words. There were no original answers to media questions. Every Conservative had the same talking points reiterated to the same script and it was freaky, bizarre, and in the end, a sign of behind the scenes organizing on a grand scale.

So we ask again, how have the Republicans, who basically caused the Great Recession, been able to grab so much power in the intervening decade? They have done it by being willing to trash norms long accepted as informal protocols and even by boldly forcing Democrats to change rules like the filibuster threshold to try to get anything done. Although Dems technically had the numbers they did not have the 60 votes needed.

It seemed that everything Dems did backfired. When Harry Reid lowered the threshold for the filibuster to a simple majority it set up the future parade of approvals of Conservative judges that are the current daily agenda (and the only agenda) in the Republican-controlled Senate. (It is not like Dems didn’t foresee this possibility but they took the risk anyway for immediate gains.) The Hastert rule took hold in the House where no business hit the floor unless it could pass with all Republican votes.

I contend that Republicans got radicalized by the Tea Party and Talk Radio and Fox News. This is not exactly news. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh had a rabid audience for their constant propaganda demonizing Obama and the Democrats. Beck and Bill O’Reilly wrote popular books that reinterpreted history from a fairly extreme Conservative viewpoint. It was all a giant mash-up of Koch Brothers pushing Capitalism and fossil fuels, Confederate flags waving on the back of gas-guzzling trucks all over America, the patriotism of arming yourself because the communist, socialists, gangs, immigrants are coming for you. Add in a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution (refight the Federalist papers), Evangelical expectations of the Rapture and a full-throated Biblical approval of rich folks and the Conservative Way. Then there was a pledge made to a Libertarian group (against their duty to the Constitution) to never raise taxes, and a celebration of the audacity of Republicans in Congress who showed their party “purity” by obstructing Dems in ever newer and more creative ways (with good-old-boy grins on their faces).

Today the highs of those giddy days have disappeared and there is just the mean tough slog of a government deadlocked by a Republican Party that no longer has any impetus to be at all bipartisan. They will have their way. The Republicans got to this place, and they also got us to this President Trump who tramples all our norms with impunity.

Dems seem much too polite to dig us out of this hole, but they do have policy on their side and they want to save our Republic. The modern Republican Party has no members in Congress who seem motivated to save the Republic as it was before the Tea Party/Conservative extravaganza. Conservative extremists are so far winning the tug of war to pull the whole nation to the right. But that frightening torch-lit white supremacist show of power in Charlottesville has put a much more serious light on where Conservatives might be planning to take America.

Progressives may have the energy to pull the nation back towards the left, even if they don’t make it as far left as they would like. If the Dems don’t win, where will four more years of “to the right, to the right” leave us. Perhaps in a dictatorship huddling together in the few places without extreme weather.

An article in Salon from 6/17/2019 echoes my sentiments, although with greater political depth.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search  – WKAR

Limited Government – A Terrible Idea

Limited Government: The “nanny state” and Political Correctness

Republicans love to talk about limited government. It is always at the top of their wish list. But limited government is code for many different things. To some who feel that the government has become too invasive in our private lives, the old “nanny state” meme blames bleeding heart liberals for trying to wrap people in a protective bunting of rules and regulation. Perhaps it began with seat belts or car seats or work safety oversight (OSHA) but, according to some, it turned into one of those rubber band balls that stay small for a while and then grow more rapidly in size and complexity. Doesn’t really matter how it began, there were Americans who felt that these rules made them feel like they were living in a “petty” dictatorship, Authoritarianism Lite. This all seems a bit hyperbolic now given the real authoritarianism which is a constant risk in the administration of 45.

Lumped in with these safety laws were the increasing admonitions to use language that is “politically correct” or inoffensive to all of the diverse groups that make up America. Independent-minded Americans have lost it. They do not want to “knuckle under” to the free speech police. They don’t care if it serves the interests of civility and kindness and the humane treatment of others. They already agreed to call Indians “Native Americans”, but now they were supposed to say “indigenous people”. It was a bridge too far for some. These linguistic battles have not served to unite us, that’s for certain.

Now we are in a battle, fomented by GOP propaganda, of “real Americans” versus other ethnic groups, which could easily end with various “tribes” retreating to separate corners, leaving Americans with a prolonged culture war. Our electoral college gave us a President who flaunts his right to be politically incorrect, but it is taking the word civil out of civilization.

Federalism, Constitutional Purity and States Rights

However these things are not what other, often more powerful, Republicans are saying when they talk about limited government. And there are two sides to how limited government would look if Republicans actually got their wish. Idealistically Republicans say that this is about restoring Constitutional “purity”. They believe we have wandered too far from the intentions of our forefathers. The Constitution gives the federal government the right to write laws, pass laws, and pass judgment on the constitutionality of those laws. But purists (fundamentalists) say that the Constitution gives the federal government the right to rule the nation only in a few areas, mainly military concerns and foreign relations, and that all rights not designated to the federal government belong to the states.

They know the Federalists (state’s rights) faction lost their original argument to make America a loose affiliation of strong states under a weak national government back in the 18th century. Although our forefathers did decide to go with a stronger federal government today’s Republicans are reviving the old Federalist arguments, and they would like to ditch the conclusion our forefathers reached and become strict Federalists. Of course this means throwing out about two centuries of law and tradition and basically starting from scratch. It also means that states would begin to look more like independent nations. You might need a visa one day to travel to another state. It seems like a pretty extreme way to avoid public health care (and a few other things Republicans don’t like).

The first order of business of modern Federalists was to get Republicans in control of the United States government so they could dismantle it. They were aided in this by having some very rich industrialists on their side who stood to benefit from all the deregulation which would accompany this reorganization. These industrialists either formed a web of think tanks and Conservative groups or found ways to connect groups that already existed and were like-minded. Right wing groups met at yearly gatherings and eventually formulated an ideology and a plan of action to implement that ideology. Their machinations have been amazingly successful. The Republicans now own all three branches of our government.

Trump has been surprisingly helpful in this endeavor to tame the sprawl of the federal government. He has done this inadvertently because he wants to save America all by himself. He needs to be a hero. Even if he is perceived by many as incompetent or as a villain, if he just concentrates on his own followers he is the hero he aspires to be. He must have to delegate tasks within his businesses, but he does not want to delegate tasks in government. He doesn’t trust civil servants. Out of tradition and law they pursue objectives set by previous presidents. He likes to lead through placing his henchmen, who have pledged their loyalty to him and him alone, in offices that have the names of real American agencies but which no longer function as the original entities did. These agencies and offices are now are part of the Trump spiderweb and do Trump’s business. As a result he does not need to fill positions in these agencies or offices. Staff numbers are going down. It is becoming impossible to rely on civil servants completing routine tasks to keep government as we have known it functioning. Fewer government employees equals limited government. Et voila. Winning.

More About State’s Rights

State’s Rights was a battle cry of Democrats when the Democrats consisted of the people who are now Republicans, and is still the oft-repeated refrain of the Republicans since the Civil War and Reconstruction. Americans who cry the loudest about restoring the rights of states seem concentrated in the Southern and the Western states. People claim to love the rights of the poor usurped states whenever they want something that is opposed to what the majority of the nation wants.

Southerners were beaten in the Civil War but, in a sense they felt a terrible anger about it and their spirits refused to accept it. They loved their general, General Lee, they loved their Southern plantation culture; they loved their wealth and their lifestyle. They knew that the end of slavery would be the end of the plantation system. There were plenty of examples in the nearby islands in the Caribbean. That pride was so strong that it has been kept alive to this day and even romanticized by many Americans.

Justice was done but it has always been an uneasy and contentious justice and we have still made no real peace with it for many, many reasons most of which fall under the heading of racism. But when Southerners lost the Civil War and lost “their property” they went crazy and lost all humanity in a lust for vengeance and punishment. Whenever freed slaves tried to use the freedoms they had recently won, especially to vote or hold public office or own land, they were terrorized, viciously attacked and often slaughtered. Freedom has been won piece by tiny piece with spilled blood and dashed hopes.

Posse Comitatus

The Southerners balked under Federal attempts to control Reconstruction in the South. They argued that state and local government should have control over what was happening in the South. The federal government, experiencing some scandal and turmoil of its own, capitulated and gave local sheriffs power to rule their own domains. The rest of the nation then turned their backs on the mayhem that ensued.

Once that battle for power was won it has used precedent to justify some fairly rebellious behaviors. Most recently it reared its ugly head in the Cliven Bundy matter. Westerners resent that so much land has been designated as federal land, although there has not been any big rush to develop most of the land the government protects, or hoards (depending on your point of view). When the government decided to clamp down on Mr. Bundy, a rancher who grazed his cattle for free on government land that others paid a fee to graze their cattle on, Mr. Bundy refused to accept the power of the federal government and appealed to the superior power of the local sheriff that hails back to those very post-Reconstruction days that we have been talking about.

During Cliven Bundy’s confounding stand Rachel Maddow went over the historical basis for this claim written in the Posse Comitatus Law. The militia movement, which has similar roots, and which has been growing in America along with the stubborn power of the NRA, revealed itself when people showed up with long guns, lying prone on US highways pointing those rifles through concrete road barriers at federal officers. It was a shocking stand-off and the federal government backed down to avoid escalating the matter with killings. That’s some of the ideological background on limited government. Behind the bizarre ideological rationale is an ersatz economic argument for limited government

The Ayn Rand Justification/Rationalization for Limited Government

With the advent of the Tea Party we began to hear new arguments for limited government. These arguments were based in money, economics, finance. America was changing. The factories which gave people good salaries without a college education had flown the coop, gone on a World Tour. People were not feeling quite so flush. Then they lost their houses in what was a scandal of bad risks by banks and the stock market, a bid for short-term profit over long-term fiscal health. The victims got spanked but the big dogs, for the most part, got off with a hand slap. They are already at their scams again.

People decided that they were unhappy with the way their taxes were being used. They had a little help from Republicans who supposedly backed the Tea Party folks, Republicans like Paul Ryan who read a seminal book by Ayn Rand in college or high school and decided that spreading Rand’s gospel suited the dilemma of those in the Tea Party and, incidentally, the goals of the Republican Party re limited government. A marriage made in one man’s mind.

I don’t like or respect Paul Ryan but even I must admit that his message caught on like a wildfire and is, even now, changing America beyond recognition. What he said that appealed to so many, was this – social government programs do not help people who are down and out, they actually hurt them. These programs keep people down and turn them into permanent dependents. We need to stop funding social programs (which would, in theory, cut taxes) – no welfare, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no Medicare, no Social Security, no federal control over or funding of education.


I always say that you can’t have socialism in a democracy because we the people pay our taxes and we say how the money will be used and that makes social programs democratic, not socialist. But the new truth is that we the people don’t contribute enough taxes to pay for the enormous military that “patriots” clamor for and for the social programs that serve as safety nets for we the people in times of trouble or need.

Without the 1% Americans are basically poor. If these miserly folks no longer want to pay taxes that will be used for people who don’t work (or can’t work) then we the people are screwed. Why we have given all these wealthy people all our money is now a moot point. The deed is done and they will use any reasoning necessary to claim that they are entitled to it. They do not mind turning America into a third world country because they plan to live above it all. All of America has now become colonized by these rich few. The right has managed to push the left to the far left and when they express fears of socialism now it is because socialism may be our only way out of  all this planned inequality.


We are clearly on a path to limited government in all its manifestations. I am guessing that we will not like it one little bit if it comes to pass. That dangerous mob, the vociferous left, created as backlash to an extreme right wing, may someday save us from the chaos of running each state as an independent entity and each local government as a fiefdom. Pick the Dems (the Dims) to save us from having to take a sad detour into “limited government”.  (I’m confused, how can you be dim and a dangerous mob at one and the same time.) “Limited government” is an outdated concept and it belongs in the oubliette of history.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – Medium,

Trump Demographics

As Americans were watching their fortunes dwindle, their jobs
disappear, their pension agreements getting rescinded, and their homes lose
value or get taken back by the same corrupt banks that granted the mortgages –
there were voices speaking in their ears, in their cars, in their man caves and
media room blaming “others”. These voices said that these beleaguered Americans
were giving people who refused to work money through “entitlements” like
welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and that they were actually wasting their money.
The whispers and vein-popped shouts from right-wing media claimed that giving
poor people money actually keeps them down, turns them into dependents. Those
who hammered away at middle class Americans in shock at their losses had no proof
for their theory. Paul Ryan, a Congressman, cited a fiction book, The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand as proof
that these takers are slackers, rather than needy people whose children will
suffer if taxpayers harden their hearts.
If you want some other evidence, also from fiction, and far
more believable, read Charles Dickens. You don’t have to have unselfish impulses
to disavow social Darwinism. You can be quite selfish about it because if the
poor live in squalor, that squalor affects us all, especially our health and
our mood. People used to walk through London holding a scented handkerchief to
their noses, stepping in offal, and even having chamber pots emptied over their
Some people got sold on this short-sighted approach to social
concerns. They started to think that small government was a good idea. After
all the government kept intruding into their lives, especially in schools. No
prayer in school was touted as the root of all moral evil. Teaching Creationism
was shouted down by those who felt that science belongs in public schools,
religion, not so much. Christians felt they should have the right to teach
Creationism. Pundits started to suggest that Republicans would help the middle
class get rid of social programs and turn schools into private entities
vouchered to the states who could allow state residents to decide on curricula.
Those disembodied voices, avidly attended to over the air waves,
eventually made their listeners aware and incensed that minorities would be the
new recipients of the American Dream. White folks said “hell no”. Keep America
white. Keep America Christian. Americans speak English, they said. Eventually
the Republican Party, not in so many words perhaps, but in code, promised that
they could make it so. Even as those radio pundits graduated to TV – lo and
behold, a Black man, possibly a Muslim, possibly a henchman for someone named
Saul Alinsky, got elected to be the President of the United States of America!
It turns out the GOP lied. It lied to the middle class about
everything. As long as Obama remained the U. S. President they could not
deliver any of their promises. The social programs were cut but not eliminated.
In fact Obama, in stealth, in the dead of night, pushed through the Affordable
Care Act with no Republican votes, making social health and welfare programs
bigger than ever. The government did not pass a huge school voucher program or
close the Education Department thus giving states more autonomy in schools. The
government doubled down on national standards and the Common Core curricula.
The Obama government did not take to Republican obstruction real well and the
GOP was now in thrall to the “Tea Party” that coalesced because of the radio “whisperers”.
These folks believe that America will be white again and that
white America will be able to eat as much white bread as it wants. America will
once again have secure factory jobs for life with pensions that are solid and
generous. They believe America will stop this nonsense about fossil fuels and
the environment because Big Business doesn’t like it. We will build a wall so
no more people can come here from Mexico without documentation and so we will
not have to learn Spanish. Life will be like the 50’s – we will freeze forever
at a mid-century modern lifestyle – before the pill, before women’s lib, before
gay people, before hippies, before Civil Rights, way before 9/11. That’s what the
GOP was supposed to produce for their “base”, and that is what the election is
about, a Renaissance for white America. These are Donald Trump’s people.
Disappointed by America and then disappointed again by the Republicans. Donald
Trump comes as close to the hope that the middle class can set things straight
as anyone has and they don’t really care how he does it. He seems like someone
who truly could turn America into a mid-fifties theme park from sea to shining
But the problem is that white America is tired, old or
addicted to bad substances. White America is not the dynamic demographic it once
was. We are not reproducing fast enough to prevent our numbers and prospects
from dwindling. Even many of those very Republicans riding herd over Obama are
ancient artifacts of distant eras (such as the 1950’s). Without the energy and
the thirst for freedom and success of our young immigrant groups we will very
likely just turn into a fusty, dying social experiment with a Dream that was
cancelled for lack of interest. A vote for Trump, or any Republican, is a vote
for national stagnation and decay.
By Nancy Brisson

Rubbing Elbows with the Tea Party

I have a friend from out-of-town who comes to my neck
of the woods to ice skate at the local ice rink. Then we meet to play
Scrabble. When she came to meet me this week she had a newspaper in tow, a
newspaper called The Patriot: A
Grassroots Newspaper
.  A headline on
the front page immediately caught my eye The
UN is Preparing to Manage Mass Casualty Events Under Jade Helm
.  I had not thought that this kind of wingnut
Conservatism was popular in my central New York area. But I was wrong.
There are many code words of Conservative conspiracy
(gossip, made-up nonsense, fear mongering, choose a noun) talk in this 16 page
edition of The Patriot for July,
2015. It is an actual newsprint newspaper and is available for free at the ice
rink where my friend enjoys skating. She also seemed shocked to find this here.
The UN is an organization that Conservatives suspect is a front for a new world
order and they fear that the UN will usurp America and corral us all into dense
urban habitats in the interests of sustainability which, since they don’t
believe in climate change, they see as a very bad thing. This is directly
related to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who demonize the UN, sustainability and
Agenda 21. I have written about paranoia and Agenda 21 before.
Another term these folks like to throw around is
Illuminati, again expressing a fear that there are sinister powerful forces
plotting to destroy America and turn us into what? Russia perhaps. This article
is entitled Ukrainians Dispossessed:
Americans are next.
On the facing page is an enumeration of the powers of
the Federal Government as delineated in the original Constitution and an article in which the
newspaper editor asks members to be sure to elect people who will bring us
back into line with our founding documents. Next article is a lengthy
discussion of human exceptionalism which I confess that I just could not read.
Next up is Ready or Not…Here Comes the Antichrist!
Ready or Not…Here Comes the Lawless One! “The antichrist is also called the
Lawless One. Lawless… contrary or without regard for the law. Wow, you don’t
have to look far for that. Baltimore? Ferguson? Businesses burning, looting, no
self-control…police being shot. On a world scale…Isis beheadings, children and
women being raped, murdered…we have never seen a time like we’re seeing today.”
(scriptures follow).
On page 11 we have in big bold caps SOVIETIZING OF AMERICAN SOCIETY (here
we are talking about preschool education) followed by THE NEW WORLD ORDER (41) THE ULTIMATE CONFLICT.  This is where we are introduced to The
Luciferian Church of the U.N.
I’m sorry…to me this is doo-doo-doo-doo territory and
yet people also advertise in this newspaper. I do believe in free speech, but
sometimes I wish I didn’t.
Here is their mission statement:
Mission Statement Our mission is to organize, educate,
and inform our fellow citizens for the purpose of securing public policy
consistent with our core values. We will unify and we will exercise through all
legal means available, our power to effect the election of local, state, and
federal candidates who espouse our core values but we can not endorse any
candidates through the CNY Patriots website. Principals of the CNY Patriots CNY
Patriots as an organization believes in the Constitution of the United States,
Free Markets, Limited Government, and Fiscal Responsibility. We recognize and
support the strength of grassroots organization powered by activism and civic
responsibility at a local level. The CNY Patriots is a non-partisan grassroots
organization of individuals united by shared core values derived from the
Declaration Of Independence, the Bill Of Rights, the Federalists Papers and the
Constitution of United States of America. Core Values • Uphold the Constitution
• Free Markets • Limited Government • Fiscal Responsibility 
America is getting weird, don’t you think this might be part of the reason?
This is
the view from the cheap seats.
Nancy Brisson

Democrats: Wusses or Saviors of our Nation?

Democrats are being shafted because they are unwilling to give up on the
Constitution and the American government. Who knows better than the Democrats
how seditious the Republicans have been. They have damaged our Constitutional
government by grinding it to a halt, or nearly a halt. They have done this by
refusing to bring any important bills to the floor of the House. Since the
filibuster rule was relaxed (somewhat), some judges have been sent to fill
federal benches. However, the filibuster rules were not relaxed for important
bills, so not many things have passed the Senate either. If a bill happens to
get through the Senate it can’t even get considered in the House because John
Boehner will not bring it to the floor for a vote.
This is not
some temporary strategy. It has been in force for the past four years, since
the Democrats lost the House in 2010, and if the Democrats are unable to turn
things around this strategy will be in force for the next two years. The
Democrats could probably bring Republicans up on charges of sedition, but they
have held back. They believe America can be saved and that when the Tea Party
fever breaks the country will go back to having two parties that agree once
more to wheel and deal and compromise.
I respect
the Democrats for pretending that everything is fine, for holding back, for
protecting our history as a great nation, but I am afraid that the Republicans
have no such compunctions and will go for the juggler if they get a clear
chance. Perhaps they will try to impeach Obama if they win the House and the
Senate in 2014. I believe that this would be a terrible mistake for all
Americans and the fallout might bring about that very civil war we seem to be
headed for. If we cannot reconcile the agenda of the left and the agenda of the
right, if one party will risk nullifying the Constitution because either they
want their power back or they believe so strongly in their ideological policies that they will trash the Constitution and commit seditious acts to get
their way, then we are screwed.
believe that the next election is their ticket to having everything they ever
dreamed of and they believe that they have stacked the deck enough to ensure
that the election outcome will go their way.

Should the
Democrats keep backing off the Republicans to save America? Will backing off
the Republicans save America as we know it? Should we finally just go ahead and
get tough, shake the stuffing out of these folks, bring charges against them
and have the whole argument hauled right out into the open. The Republicans,
especially the Tea Party Republicans, have been waltzing really close to the
treason line and Democrats have cut them lots of slack. Republicans have even
gone over the line a few times or why would we have the militias. 
So either we
need to give the Democrats props for keeping to regular order as much as
possible or we have to disparage them as wusses and throw in our lot with the
right wing crazies. Since the entire world is full of nations warring over
internal political divisions why not just join in rather than pretending that
we are saner than everyone else. This is a very sad chapter in our nation’s history.

By Nancy Brisson

Out to Pasture

On Meet the Press this past Sunday,
October 20, 2013, Round Table guests talked about the need for Obama to find a
way to isolate the 40 or so “renegades” in Congress, to corral them and negate
their influence, and the fact that he has not been able to do this is what has
made him look weak. Does Obama have any allies who could help him do this? Is
this even possible? This seems like a highly desirable outcome if it could
succeed. Then the Democrats and the more moderate Conservatives could get some
things done for America and the American people.

If the Republicans, through effective obstructionism
are able to prevent Democrats from trying any of their solutions for empowering
the middle class, stimulating the economy, improving infrastructure, and
lowering our carbon footprint to levels that may effectively halt global
warming, then we will have wasted eight years and we will not ever know if
those policies would have succeeded. Better to let us try our solutions out;
then if they fail I guess that Republicans can have their way with us, but they
haven’t given the American people that chance.

These experts at the Round Table felt that the
Immigration Bill might be the legislation that would give Obama the opening, if
he had a good game plan, to cut the most extreme right wingers, the tea
partiers if you will, from the herd. If that highly desirable goal could be
achieved then we might not have to pin all our hopes on the 2014 election
(although the Democrats should still put their energy into winning whatever seats
they can) and we would have a valuable new Immigration Law in the bargain.
Almost every economist tells us that passing the Immigration Bill would have a
very positive effect on our economy.

My little heart goes pitter-pat with hope as these
political analysts raise the possibility that Obama could find a strategy to
defuse the Tea Party and send them into far pastures from which their bellowing
cannot be heard. President Obama, could this really happen? I guess we can’t
arrest them for sedition because they sort of backed down (not really). We don’t
have a great “cattle dog” who could herd those tea partiers up to the back
forty. Who would that cattle dog be? My brain has nothing. Perhaps some of
those really smart people out there can come up with a clever idea.

If not then we must elect Democrats in 2014. This
does not mean we need to send all of our Representatives out into the cold. We
can’t just throw the bums out. We tried that before. We need to be smart about
this. We need to study the electorate and get a Democrat elected wherever we
possibly can.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This blog post is also available at


Basically A Rant


The correct strategies for America are not always
the most selfish ones. It’s not all about us all the time. Sometimes we must
look at the big picture because everything is interconnected. Some string that
is pulled somewhere else can unravel or re-knit our future.

And, then there is the truth that, at this point in
time, the Republicans will not allow Obama to pass any new laws that improve
the economy, the infrastructure, or jobs. If we don’t elect Democrats in 2014
we have almost 3 long years to concentrate on foreign affairs. If we truly do
not want to get involved in any more wars, I would trust Obama much more than I
would trust the Republicans to admonish a dictator without getting us involved
in a foreign war. The only way the war in Syria can escalate and suck in the
world is if a powerful force like Russia joins in. If Putin is serious about
helping get rid of the chemical weapons in Syria, then he probably is not
interested in starting World War III. If we stay civil and Russia stays civil
then perhaps we can pull this off. Americans do not appear to be too fond of
civility right now, sad to say. Instead all the little voices fall in line
echoing the charge that Obama is a weak President. I repeat; if Obama can end
the use of chemical weapons in Syria without starting a new war, then he is
anything but weak.

If there is anything this President does that is
weak it is to give Republicans another opening to tout his weakness and force
him to bargain when these Republicans know all along that they will say “no” to
him again and again and again. This does not make Obama seem weak to me. It
makes him seem like a President who respects the Constitution and who tries to
give Republicans every opportunity to cut out the partisan politics and do
their jobs as outlined in that very Constitution that describes how our
government is supposed to work. Nowhere in the Constitution I read does it say
that people outside the government should be promised a stronger allegiance
than is given to a fair consideration of the laws that build a stronger

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Grover Norquist and the
Koch brothers should be like the rest of us. They are citizens with one vote
each. But they have found ways to pull the strings of large numbers of
Americans turning them into disenchanted citizens and puppet voters who repeat,
like mantras, arguments drummed into them by skillful pundits. These pundits
know the fears some Americans hold in their hearts and minds and they stoke the
fires lit under these fears, bank the coals, and then stoke them again. They
have fostered a bunch of conspiracy junkies and they will ruin America if we
let them. These pundits have been primed to serve the interests of Grover
Norquist, the Koch brothers, the Tea Party and whatever other shadowy figures
are in the Conservative Cabal.

So we have plenty of time to take the big view, the
long view, while we wait for America to wake up and throw off the strings of
the mind controllers who have taken over the GOP.

What would we like to see happen in the Middle East?
Perhaps we would like to see strong, healthy Middle Eastern countries where
government and religion are separate. Perhaps people in the Middle East will
chose peaceful coexistence and tolerance over hate and aggression; these
nations’ peoples will find a balance that will allow the citizens to live
stable and productive lives in which there is no dictator holding on to all of
the nations’ wealth. What can we do to encourage this? Wouldn’t such an outcome
have a profoundly positive effect on us and the world? Playing a bit of referee
doesn’t seem too much to ask from the rest of the world community. After all we
have plenty of time right now to keep an eye on the violations of war behavior
which result in the horrors of genocide. If we allow these practices we will
never achieve that real peace, tolerance, and prosperity we wish for the Middle
East and the world.

If you want Obama to accomplish our goals for our
domestic future then you had better raise your voice and tell Republicans to
stop obstructionism in Congress, to stop encouraging red states to pass laws
that challenge the current laws in America, and to stop brainwashing and
scaring gullible Americans. We need to elect Democrats in 2014.

This is the view from the cheap seats.


This blog post is also available at


Who’s a Patriot?

I realize that lots of activities that occur in an election
cycle are suspect as tactics that skirt legality. I also realize that both parties
probably engage in these kinds of behavior. To have the losing party, guilty of
their own departures from polite governance (gerrymandering, manipulating voter
laws), focusing in classic sour grapes fashion on possible “dirty tricks” of
the opposite party is normal for a short period of time after an election, but
we expect the pouting and posturing to die down after a brief period of venting
and we expect proper legislative behavior to ensue.

I also admit that the IRS should not use its prodigious powers
of intimidation against any particular group to manipulate political outcomes
or as a way to target a political group. This could be used to move a democracy
towards tyranny. However, if one political party twists the intent of a tax
classification for purposes of moving illegal money into a campaign, since this
is a tax classification, it would fall to the IRS to investigate whether there
was abuse, in this case of 501(C)(4)’s. Since the Democratic Party did not rely
heavily on 501(C)(4) groups, but used a new digital approach it is possible
they did not invite the same level of scrutiny as the same tax forms did on the
Republican side.


If the President ordered the IRS to make the process of approval
as a 501(C)(4) group more difficult, then that would be very wrong, of course. Would
it be worse than the strategies employed by the other party? I guess we will
answer that question when and if we have to. In the meantime, this still looks
like a case where IRS employees used certain “search” terms to zero in on the
forms that might be political as opposed to social and therefore ineligible for
501(C)(4) status. And that is what I want to address, those search terms and
who they “belong” to.


If you look up patriot online you get this definition:


patriot n. 1. A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. 2. An automated surface-to-air missile system designed for early detection and interception of missiles or aircraft.


Or you might get this definition, basically the same without
the mention of enemies and detractors:


: one who loves his or her country
and supports its authority and interests


If you type “images of American Patriots” into a search line
some inspirational images pop up, but so do a pretty fair number of references
to insurgencies and even some rather disturbing images which some people
apparently see as satire or commentary. Here are a few of the images I found:


I always think of myself as an American patriot because I
love my country and I support its authority and interests. I don’t blindly
support everything that is done by every single American, but I am proud that
America has shown the way to respect freedom and equality and that so many
governments around the world have grown to celebrate similar values.

So when a group of Americans usurps the word Patriots and
uses it to set themselves above other Americans and to exclude Americans who
don’t agree with them, I feel that I have to remind them (Conservatives) that,
contrary to contemporary usage and Fox pundits, the right wing does not own the
term Patriot. These people, our neighbors, have a mental weakness that accepts
the brainwashing of someone like Glenn Beck who is using them to foment some
kind of “patriot” revolution, 1776-style, and to scare the bejeezus out of the
rest of us. Nothing has happened in America that necessitates the raising of a
militia to defend us from tyranny. The tyranny being discussed has been created
to drum up ratings in the entertainment arm of the news business. Any one of us,
even the most extreme Liberal, is a proud American Patriot, but perhaps just
not as easily hypnotized by hysterical rhetoric.

Therefore it follows that just because the IRS searched for
the keyword “patriot”, doesn’t mean that they chose that word to zero in on
Conservatives. Maybe the IRS thinks that there can be Liberal Patriots also.
The Tea Party does not own the word Patriot either. They don’t really even own
the words “tea party”.