Just shut up and sing, Willie!!

Twain - fool peopleFacebook is a very interesting place at times. Well, okay, most of the time. Or maybe I just tend to hang out at the more “interesting” places. Sometimes the cognitive dissonance is so thick I have trouble seeing my hand well enough to scroll through the screen on my smartphone.

Case in point: Willie Nelson’s Facebook page posted an article recently which quotes the country music great saying how atrocious it is concerning what’s happening on our southwest border. You know, kids being stolen from their parents and all. Now, a good majority of Willie’s fans are southern redneck right-wingers, so they’re a bit more slow to rip into him than they are to other entertainers, but rip into him they do. And sometimes in the most entertaining of ways:

So sad you decided to bring ‘your politics’ in here. I am no longer following, Willie. Why is it entertainer’s don’t get that most of us, while loving your music, don’t want to hear your politics.

Umm… HELLO!!! Apparently you have the gift of “loving” Willie’s music without actually “listening” to it. Many of Willie’s songs throughout his career have been rife with political commentary. In fact that’s true of most singers and entertainers. Artistry in general is usually dripping with political and social overtones. So it’s nothing but sheer idiocy when someone insists that an entertainer just “entertain”, and leave their political views out of it.

Of course, that’s only if they happen to disagree with the views entertainers are expressing. Robert DeNiro is the latest to come under attack of course. Along with Jim Carey, Rob Reiner, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and a myriad of others both lately and in past instances. How funny it is that whenever it’s a “left-leaning” point of view, or heaven forbid anyone DARES say something negative about their newfound right-wing “messiah”, well, it’s so easy to just dismiss them as the “Hollywood elite” who couldn’t possibly understand or have any connection to the “common” people.

They seem to have no problem whatsoever though with Charlton Heston standing up on stage at the Republican National Convention defiantly proclaiming they can take his gun when they can “pry it from my cold dead hand”. Or when Clint Eastwood gets up on stage and has “imaginary” conversations with Barrack Obama. Or when Bruce Willis, during the campaign between Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr, sheepishly mentions he asked his wife the other day, “Honey.. Which one of theses guys would you trust with the kids?” Let’s not forget that in 1980 the right wing put an actor in the white house. And not to mention we currently have a fucking reality TV star as our commander in chief!!

Disagreeing with someone’s political view is one thing. Dismissing that view because someone is just a member of the “Hollywood elite” who should just entertain and shut up about politics is preposterously hypocritical. Or else they’re smoking something Willie hasn’t even heard of yet.

Another page I follow on Facebook is a page called “Thomas Jefferson”. (Not the real one, of course.) When I first started following it, it was a very libertarian-based outlet, which usually contained some very straight-shooting information about how the founding fathers would view current happenings. Lately however it’s just morphed into just more right-wing hypocrisy. Recently one of the moderators posted a video that’s been making the rounds on the internet prominently displaying a joint statement made by all the news stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group. The original poster went into a frenzied hissy fit, mistakenly assuming that this was a bunch of LIBERAL news stations all spouting the exact same script. A great many commenters of that post followed suit. Sinclair Broadcasting is a conservative media group that fervently supports Donald Trump.

Eventually it was delicately explained to the OP that this was actually a conservative news group that mandated the joint statement by all of their stations, but it’s okay because.. well.. it’s a conservative news group that’s doing it! And her source for this obvious conclusion? An article by Rush Limbaugh.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of hypocrisy to be found from the left-wing. I even touched on just a bit of that in my last post. But the right-wing Republicans have turned it into a fucking art form.

Maybe Willie could write a song about it.

some people without brains

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Fish In A Barrel

enough of you two

Okay, the question just begs to be asked:

What the fuck is wrong with Democrats???

Or more precisely – What the fuck is wrong with the Democratic party leaders??

The DNC added a new rule to their bylaws last week, its basic purpose designed to help prevent another “Bernie Sanders” incident from happening. On the surface, the new rule sounds pretty “common-sense” in its own way: To run for president under the Democratic ticket, you must officially declare yourself a Democrat.

Here’s the problem with that – A vast percentage of those who participated in the Democratic primaries/caucuses indicated that they didn’t necessarily want an “officially declared” Democrat to represent them in the upcoming presidential election. Hence Bernie Sanders making such an amazingly strong showing. The DNC of course didn’t like that. What the DNC does basically is they “anoint” the candidate they want to run under their ticket and then make sure the primaries and caucuses are skewed just enough so that this “anointed” candidate is all but assured of winning.

Here’s what the Democratic party leaders don’t seem to get about Democratic party voters, and a lesson Bernie Sanders should have clearly taught them: Democrats don’t vote the same way Republicans do. All Republicans need when they walk into that voting booth is to see that nifty little (R) beside the candidate’s name, and they know which button to push. It doesn’t matter who’s name it is. How outrageous they are. How toxic their rhetoric or how outlandish their points of view. That little (R) is all they need to make their decision. Not only that, but Republicans vote religiously (figuratively and literally), and they are fiercely loyal to their party. They may not be loyal to their communities, the tenets of their proclaimed religion, or even necessarily their wives, but loyalty to their party is uncompromising. It’s how a vitriolic son of a bitch like Steve King keeps getting sent back to congress for over a fucking decade and a half now.

It seems like the Democratic party leaders are under the impression that Democrats do the same thing. Or at least should. That little (D) beside the name should be more than enough to get that little button pushed in the voting booth. Or at the very least, they should see it as an “anti-(R)”. I’m sure many of them do, but a sizeable percentage of Democrats don’t vote that way. The Democratic party leaders need to understand that while Republicans vote for party, Democrats vote for principle. While as a libertarian I have serious issues with more than a handful of those principles, that is one thing I admire most Democrats for. They genuinely want to go into that voting booth and feel like they just helped make the world a better place. While Republicans are more than content walking into that voting booth and voting “against” something, it’s infinitely less palatable for a Democrat to do so. The ruling class of the DNC would like nothing better than to get Democrats to vote like Republicans do because that helps ensure they retain their power, but the DNC needs to get it through their thick fucking heads that most Democrats just aren’t going to do that. If you don’t give them something to vote “for”, rather than “against”, a great percentage of them will just stay home. Or vote for another party or candidate. Those are just the cold hard facts, nimwits! Implementing these stupid new rules just to try and maintain your fucking status quo only ends up making your party of “inclusion” look a whole lot more exclusionary. Not to mention making them feel even further like their vote doesn’t really fucking matter. You may be able to fool most Republicans into feeling that’s not the case, but most Democrats have this little thing called “being informed” going for them. Or at least more informed than most. I know it sucks having an electorate that is actually decently “educated”, but that’s the card you drew when you decided to be a part of the Democratic leadership.

freedom out of reachAnd speaking of third parties, I know many have this tendency to say, “Well, why don’t they just start another party of their own?” To me that sounds like a WONDERFUL idea, and some of them have, but the DNC, along with the GOP, have rigged the system so fucking bad that a third (or fourth, or fifth) party is all but doomed to failure, and you’ve done an excellent job, along with your GOP brethren, of convincing a vast majority of the electorate of the dismally inaccurate concept that if you don’t vote for one of the two major parties, you’re just “throwing your vote away”. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my own mother say that, and she was an otherwise extremely intelligent and strong-willed person. I’m sure many Democrats would have LOVED to have gone along with an alternative party option, with Bernie leading the charge, but alas a good portion of them stayed home also out of sheer frustration.

I would love to see a more Libertarian policy in place in this country. However, I’m realistic enough to know the country probably isn’t quite ready for that at this point. Until then, a balance of power and a more firmly entrenched system of checks-and-balances is the only hope we really have. I have NO desire whatsoever to see the Republicans retain their power in the upcoming midterms or next presidential election. But in order for the DNC to assure that from happening, they seriously need to start looking at their constituency as individuals and not as demographics. If I hear one more Democrat spouting endlessly about how they’re “in it to help the working class of this nation”, I think I’m gonna fucking puke. You may be able to get away with putting most Republicans in a box, but if you do that with Democrats they’re gonna start punching holes through them. “Group-think” works well with most small-minded Republicans. With Democrats, not so much. If you keep trying to do with your constituents what the GOP does with Republicans, all you’re going to end up with is more gerrymandering, more laws passed that only favor the small minded bigots and richest one percent, and more stacking of the deck of justices in our federal appellate courts who will find bogus and unconstitutional reasons to keep those laws in place. Pretty high price to pay for that feeling of power you so desperately crave by getting to “anoint” the next presidential nominee.

Here’s a novel idea: How about letting your actual fucking constituency decide?

Unseating a vast number of Republicans in the upcoming midterms and defeating Donald Trump in the 2020 election (should he even decide to run again) should be like shooting fish in a barrel. In trying to retain their status quo, the Democratic leadership seems damn determined to empty that barrel right into the middle of the fucking ocean.

 

fear these two

 

Okay, let’s get this party started!

everyone can do somethingTaking the first steps has always been somewhat of a difficult process for me. I have a nasty tendency to find a spot, settle in, and make myself comfortable. Whether it’s a place, a mindset, a situation or just getting off my ass to start a new project. There comes a time however when staying put becomes more uncomfortable than trying to gear up and do something.

For those of you who have been paying attention, you might have noticed I just recently had another birthday. I had intended to use that landmark as a jumping off point to rekindle this blog, as well as a couple of other writing projects floating aimlessly around in my head.

That was two weeks ago. So…umm…. yeah. Like I said…

I should start out by saying thank you to the reader who took the time to respond to my last post. And offer a sincere apology for taking so freaking long to approve it. One of these days I’ll write out a list of why I tend to procrastinate.

Anyway, I found your reply very well thought out, articulate and thought-provoking. Except for a couple of minor points, I found very little I had any major disagreements with. I still stand by my position on the Electoral College for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that doing away with it would take just one more power away from the states and giving it to the central government. And there’s been way too much of that shit already over the last couple hundred years. Yes, every other elected official is determined by popular vote, however this was not always the case. Each state was able to determine for themselves how to appoint their Senators to congress until the 17th Amendment told every state that their Senators had to be appointed by popular vote. Senators are supposed to represent their states, not the people directly. That is the House of Representatives’ job, to represent the people directly. It’s the same with the Executive branch. The President is supposed to represent the states, not the people directly. If we do away with the Electoral College, we just as well erase every state border on the map. The lines would be all but useless. (That however is an argument that can be expanded on in another post.)

One of the challenges I’m finding myself with in trying to maintain this blog is choosing topics on which to write about. There are many things wrong in the world today. Of course there are many things right as well. Hopefully I will be able to touch and expand upon both.

I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t believe anybody does, in spite of the many who seem to claim otherwise. After all, the main mantra of this blog, and in my life is general, is “Question Everything”. Hopefully in the process, minds will be expanded, beliefs will be challenged, and people will think in ways they hadn’t considered before. Myself included.

In many areas -most of them actually- we seem to be having the wrong conversations. We seem to be talking at each other a lot more than we’re talking with each other. And many of the viewpoints seem to be based on a lot of assumptions and misconceptions that have little or no basis in fact or evidence.

Hopefully my work here will help to change that. In any case, it may prove to be a wild ride.

Fasten your seat belts.lets go

The Electoral College and the Tyranny Of the Majority

will rogers - ammendment

A couple of days ago I reposted on my political-themed Facebook page a video post by Robert Reich entitled “How Do We Abolish the Electoral College”.

This may be slightly misleading as to my personal political views, as I am in no way against the Electoral College, and am fervently against “abolishing” it. In spite of how “antiquated” people think it is, the Electoral College did what it was supposed to do. It gave a voice to those who ordinarily wouldn’t have one within a purely “democratic” system.

You see, in spite of what BOTH major political parties try to ram down our collective throats, the USA is not a “pure” democracy, nor was it designed to be so. There are many fallacies I could get into here, each as important as the rest, but the main one I want to focus on right here is the founding fathers of this nation had some rather nasty first-hand experience in dealing with what they called the “tyranny of the majority”. They knew the dangers that the majority could impose on the minority, including the taking away of individual rights they felt each person had bestowed upon them¬† simply because they were born a human being.

As I sit here writing this, I find myself a bit overwhelmed at the complexity of this issue. Not so much the issue itself, but people’s lack of understanding of it. It seems almost asinine for me to sit here and try to explain it, as this should be drilled into the head of every kid before he or she ever receives a diploma, but the office of President of the United States was never set up to represent the people directly. The office is set up to represent the States. The Senate was designed that way also. Only the House of Representatives was designed to represent the people directly. This was designed so that the more populous states did not have as much “control” over the less populous states. The Electoral College assures that each STATE gets an appropriate voice in the role of government, not necessarily each PERSON. If we do away with the Electoral College, we just as well erase all the lines on the map indicating individual states. The elimination of the Electoral College would make the concept of “states” a totally useless concept altogether. And the concept of “states” was one of the tools the founding fathers set up to help prevent this “tyranny of the majority”. In a major way, that’s what the entire Constitution was set up to do. It was set up to protect the minority. The majority very rarely needs protecting.

There is nothing wrong with the system of the Electoral College. As I stated previously, it did what it was designed to do. Yes, Trump beat Clinton because of the Electoral College process, even though Clinton won the popular vote. The problem, however, was not the Electoral College. The problem was a grossly uninformed electorate. That, along with an obscenely apathetic electorate. The founding fathers also knew the importance of a well-informed populace in our political process. Along with a populace that actually gives a shit. In fact, had our electorate actually been adequately informed and involved, neither ONE of these “candidates” would have even come close to rising to the level of consideration for the office. The very fact that there are so many factions out there right now trying to eliminate the Electoral College is in and of itself proof of the level of ignorance within our population. Many people don’t even understand the concept of why we have an Electoral College, let alone the importance of it.

That being said, the main reason I posted the video by Robert Reich wasn’t because I agree in the slightest with his concept of eliminating the Electoral College.¬† However, I DO agree with his idea for rendering it “useless”. Mr. Reich is totally correct in his assertion that states can allocate their Electoral votes in any way they wish. States can indeed make laws that state that their Electoral votes can automatically go to whoever wins the popular vote. It is well within each state’s right to do so under the Constitution. Ironically, this would not end up making the Electoral College “useless”. It would do exactly what the Electoral College was designed to do. Let the states do with their Electoral votes whatever they wish.

Just like the founding fathers intended.

american patriot

Griffin, Nugent, and Information Overload

paine-secure libertyOne of the first things I should put out there is that I am a staunch First Amendment advocate. Some might even say to the extreme. While it’s understandably easy to want to succumb to the temptation to squelch speech or expression that one disagrees with or finds offensive, even vulgar, it always makes me cringe whenever I hear anyone say to the effect, “They shouldn’t be allowed to say that.”

As far as amendments go, this one seems to be a little crowded. It’s almost as if they tried to stuff too much ideology in right off the bat. While it could be argued that all of these ideologies are interrelated at least to a certain degree, this amendment could have easily been split into three, maybe even four individual amendments. While I consider all of the aspects of the First Amendment of great importance, this particular post is mainly focused on the free speech/free expression aspect.

A shining example of the freedom of speech issue lately is the news and social media buzz concerning an image floating around of comedienne Kathy Griffin holding up a fake severed head of Donald Trump. In bad taste? To say the least. Vulgar? Most definitely. Illegal? Absolutely not!! Should it be illegal? Well, let’s think about that a moment, shall we?

It’s been pointed out, and rightly so, that numerous images were abundantly distributed of Obama being hung in effigy, set on fire, or otherwise alluding to harm of the former president, not to mention well known rocker Ted Nugent on more than one occasion alluding to a desire to fatally injure our first black commander in chief. And in spite of what the media would like most of us to believe, these two were absolutely not the first presidents to be subjected to such extreme dislike. Should all these people be penalized or incarcerated for such heinous displays of discontent?

Perhaps a lot of people think they should. Hell, maybe even a majority of people think they should. But that’s one of the great things about our Constitution. When it comes right down to it, it really doesn’t give a shit what a majority of the people want. In most instances, that’s what Constitutions are designed to do.

One of my favorite movies was “The People vs Larry Flint”, where the Hustler magazine publisher released a story so vile that he was sued in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. One of the main messages of that story was, if we don’t believe in free speech for even the most heinous and despicable among us, then we don’t believe in it for anyone. If we allow the government to pick and choose what is “protected” as free speech and what isn’t, where would it end?

A number of years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that “obscenity” was not speech or expression that was protected under the First Amendment. In my opinion, this was one of worst rulings in the court’s history. (As I said near the beginning of this post, my views on this would probably be considered extreme.) It is small consolation, although consolation nonetheless, that the court also made the definition of “obscenity” so broad that most forms of speech would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fall under that category. That same broadness, however, does make it dangerously subject to interpretation. “I’ll know it when I see it” is just a downright piss-poor way to make a legal determination.

This is not to say in any way that speech or expression should not be free of consequences. If Kathy Griffin’s employer wishes to fire her for what she said or did, they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Same if her fans wish to boycott her performances, or if people refuse to buy any more of Nugent’s records or protest his performances. Those also are forms of speech and expression.

One of the reasons I stayed away from Facebook for so long was because I tend to get addicted to the neverending barrage of posts and articles I come across. Once again, that addiction is starting to rear its ugly head. Not only the posts and articles, but I also quite often delve into the comments sections of those posts out of curiosity as to the general public’s reactions to them. In many instances, it can end up broadening my mind, and possibly making me think in other directions or consider aspects that might not have occurred to me from just reading the post or article. I quite often find myself in “information overload”, sometimes ‘force-feeding’ myself even more information before I’ve had a chance to fully absorb all that I’d taken in so far, until eventually I reach a point where I have to just pry myself away.

Unlike many people, I don’t mind in the slightest having my beliefs or conceptions challenged. It will either solidify my position or broaden my perception. Either way I win. But there is a lot of mindless crap one has to dig through as well. Some of it vile, some of it disgusting, some of it even what I would consider “obscene”, some of it just juvenile in nature. You have to take the good with the bad. Even if some of that “bad” pisses you off. Sometimes even because it pisses you off.

There are two main dangers to censorship and the squelching of free speech and expression: One is that if a person has a view that he or she knows would be “unpopular”, they would curtail expressing it even if it was a valid point, or may lead to an advantageous conclusion. And two, unpopular views, especially the ones considered vile, “obscene”, or even downright dangerous would just be driven underground, festering and unchallenged. At some point, social or political conditions would make those viewpoints ‘safe’ to surface again, and they would be unleashed with a vengeance, taking most of society completely by surprise.

Sound familiar?

The answer to hateful, vile, ‘disgusting’ or otherwise negative expression is MORE speech, NOT the curtailing of it! Censorship does not “protect” anybody. It doesn’t change a person’s heart, nor does it broaden a person’s mind. All it does is bury the “bad” and give people an EXTREMELY false sense of security. So… especially these days… we could use a few less people saying, “They shouldn’t be allowed to say that”, and a few more of the people who used to say, “I may not agree with what you say.. but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yes, sometimes people can say some really hurtful, hateful and very scary things… But more often than not, what they don’t say is even scarier.

False Premises

speak the truth-copsOkay yeah, so the world is pretty messed up right now. Not that that’s a NEW thing, but we do seem to be in a rather turbulent tailspin. Corporations seem to gain more and more control over our politicians and media, reality TV stars inhabit the White House, everybody’s blaming all the wrong people for the ills of our society, and the “dumbing down” of America is progressing probably even more successfully than the designers themselves even imagined.

I’m somewhat at a loss to even know where to begin to even define the problems, let alone offering any substantial input as to how to solve them. It’s almost like trying to unravel a huge jumbled pile of kite string. It’s usually best to try and start on one end and carefully unthread through the maze, but it seems most people can’t resist wanting to start in the middle somewhere. But loosening one section just ends up tightening another.

One of the main purposes of this blog (once I get it actually up and running) is to hopefully shine some light into some darkened corners. To make people think in ways they might not have considered before. Or maybe even start thinking, period. It’s amazing to me many times how often people take what they’re told at face value without even considering looking into the origins of what they’re told, or verifying what others present as facts. As a result, I seem to be constantly barraged by statements I know not to be true, or at least cannot be verified.

I’ve also come to the understanding, more times than I care to recount, that most people don’t like having their beliefs or assumptions questioned. And most times attempting to do so does little more than piss them off. Plus the more you talk to them the more you come to the realization just how ingrained their beliefs and assumptions are, how interwoven they are with other beliefs and assumptions, and you find yourself once again attempting to unravel that tangle of kite string from the middle outward.

So, for the longest time I’ve chosen to just stay silent. Perhaps it’s just utter arrogance of me to wonder at times whether my silence might at least be partially to blame for all the bullshit that’s going on in the world right now. Back when I was an “anonymous” activist, I did see, or at least feel, the results of my participation making a difference. Some in small ways, a few in larger ways, but I didn’t feel that my contribution to the discourse was in vain. My input, even if it didn’t outright change someone’s mind, at least got the wheels in their brains spinning, and I felt my words were at least being considered, even if they weren’t outright accepted.

Part of the reason that I stopped participating in open discussions concerning social issues was because of personal issues going on at the time, but mainly because the “climate” had started to change. I think for my own mental health and well-being, I reached a point where I just had to step back. In many ways, it felt like my efforts were all becoming just one big Monty Python sketch.

“Maybe things will get better at some point,” I told myself.

They didn’t.

In fact if anything it’s even worse. There seems to be little if anything even resembling “debate” anymore. Last year’s political debates were atrocious. In fact, to even call them “debates” is laughable at best. And no one seems to notice. In fact, this seems to be the preferable option for most people. Pick a side, blare your anthem, cheer your team, and close your mind.

Facts? Who the fuck needs ’em? Different perspectives? That will only confuse the issue. Argue, argue, argue. Rah rah rah. Make your point the only one that matters, or worthy of any validity. Even if it means spewing out a bunch of name-calling, burning a few crosses, slamming a reporter down to the floor, or even cutting a throat or two.

I’m desperately waiting for John Cleese to appear at some point and say, “And now for something completely different…”

Well, a wise man once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

So… Let’s see if we can’t unravel a few strings.

believe in your ability

Cause By Cause They Fight – One By One They Lose

i didnt break the rules

Yesterday was my birthday. As I sit here now firmly entrenched in the middle of my sixth decade of this particular incarnation, I feel now is a good time to finally get this particular blog up and going. I’ve had the foundation of it sitting idle for weeks now as I continued to unjumble all the voices in my head screaming about the form it should take. But there comes a time when you just gotta sit down and let it take shape.

This isn’t the first blog I’ve started or managed. It is, however, the first blog I’ve decided to make so “public”. The others were all hidden behind ID names and email addresses with very little information attached to them. And that’s a scary concept.

I start this blog because I feel that there are just some things that need said. Words, ideas, personal truths, observations, sometimes even expressions of anger or sadness. Hopefully there will be some bright spots along the way as well. Mainly things in my head that are just screaming to get out.

Many of these things will not be popular. It’s easy to express unpopular ideas when you’re hidden behind an alias. To let the words you say matter more than the person saying them. I can handle the scrutiny of a bunch of strangers. The scrutiny of friends and family is often another matter, however. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Suess goes, “Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who matter won’t mind. And those who mind don’t matter.” But sometimes they do matter. And it hurts when you’re ostracized by someone who you love or admire or respect. That’s what makes this endeavor the most scary.

To those friends and family who decide to follow this blog and pay attention to the words I say and ideas that I express, my apologies beforehand if I end up making you feel uncomfortable, embarrassing you, or even outright offending you. Please keep in mind, these are my MY thoughts, MY personal truths, MY observations and conclusions. My main goal is not to make everyone think like me (that’s a scary thought in itself), but hopefully it will make you think. Your beliefs and personal truths WILL be challenged. I know many people just don’t like that. But I will try to keep any arrogance, real or perceived, down to a bare minimum.

I think my main purpose in this endeavor is to hopefully let people who DO think like me know that they are not alone. I know there are millions of voices out there right now. I suppose it’s arrogance in and of itself to think that one more -mine- is going to matter or make one iota of a difference. Maybe that’s one of the things I’m afraid of most of all. Not making a difference. But going day to day, seeing and hearing all that’s going on around me, the desire for the words in my head to get out and be heard is becoming increasingly stronger than my fear of saying them. All I can do is just let them fly and hope the angels blow them toward those who, for whatever reason, need to hear them.