A Dagger At The Heart Of Our Democracy

I recall as a late teenager, in a conversation with a relative, stating there were certain foundations of knowledge that all Americans needed to attain so to be solid citizens. I also recall the odd reply.

“We can’t all sit around reading.”

That memory came back to me this week as the debt ceiling mess grew larger and we heard still more outrage from some parents regarding safety measures at public schools so as to ward off the virus causing a pandemic. If we took the view at 30,000 feet over our nation there is only one thing that would be uttered.

‘What has happened to the people?’

Throughout life many of us have had political opinions, some of them strongly held. As history proves repeatedly such varying views and perspectives are what democracy requires to grow and strengthen. But what has been added in a larger dose to the mix is out-and-out liers and demagogues both in our elected offices and others adding such voices in our national dialogue through social media.

In the past on this blog, I weighed in on results, such as from the Annenberg Public Policy Center where it was found that only 26% of Americans could name all three branches of the federal government. Stunningly, 33% could not think of one! To add to the sad data 37% could not name a single right protected by the Bill of Rights.

That type of polling is telling regarding our educational failures as a nation. What has resulted from such a disregard for holding students accountable with a foundation of information before they graduate is now playing out. A wanton disregard for facts has been unleashed, as evidenced by the election-outcome deniers in 2020 and the anti-vaccinator crowd, underscoring the toxic nature of what is eating away at the very fabric of democracy.

Especially since 2008, we have witnessed the use of our poorly informed citizenry by partisan interests, who have the skills of messaging through social media, to place a dagger at the heart of our democracy. From Sarah Palin and the Tea Party to Donald Trump’s overt messaging of continued lies and twisted meanings, a direct line can be traced across the body politic. From disregarding the need for any wisdom to be elected, to the undermining of national institutions a theme emerged from conservatives.

That threat was presented in real-time to a nation on January 6th where it was clear the rule of law, our political institutions, and the election processes of our nation were no longer understood, or cared for.

I have never had a personal conversation with anyone who thought dinosaurs and people lived at the same time. But I have had online discussions with people who feel that the pandemic is a hoax with inflated case numbers and that five ultra-rich families control the world’s finances. I wish I was joking.

So how do we reverse course and head towards sanity and a stronger foundation as a nation? Well, let’s begin where this post started.

It is clear every person has a very busy life. We start out with different abilities and sets of interests. No one should be expected to master the Federalist Papers. But in allowing for that we can not, must not, accept the almost complete lack of knowledge that runs shamelessly through a wide swath of the electorate. The impact from that under-educated class is having a dreadful impact on both the political health of the nation and physical health of our populace.

Because of too few strict standards in our education system and the broad acceptance of ‘any view is valid’ even from the most outlandish right-winger, we now must ponder the survivability of our democracy.

It is simply imperative that the rest of us stand up and speak out for the needs of the nation.

And so it goes.

White Right-Wing American Extremists Primary Threat To Nation

What took place on January 6th when terrorists stormed the United States Capitol and postponed the process of counting the Electoral College votes, as mandated in the Constitution, was the latest and most chilling example of the greatest threat our nation faces. The threat did not come from outside the nation, or from a faith not predominant in the land. Rather the act of violence, death, and terror came from white Americans who can not seem to understand the nation in which they reside.

As I watched the hours of coverage as the hordes marched, shouted, and committed all sorts of crimes my mind flashed to the long-ago Phil Donahue shows that would feature a right-wing extremist or group as to demonstrate the shocking ignorance that still existed in the nation.  I recall as a teenager, and young adult, watching such guests and wondering how they could be so uneducated. So to see the crisis unfold at the Capitol at the age of 58 was a reminder of how much remains the same. If anything, the vileness seems to be on the increase.

Over time I have written about my concern that since 9/11, as anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric increased in volume, and in turn policies such as the Donald Trump administration’s horrible travel-ban became the focus, the areas that truly needed law-enforcement’s attention were being side-lined. The threat which required utmost attention was the far-right lunatics amassing weapons and hate-filled ideology. The foreign threats were of real concern–do not get me wrong–and needed to be assessed by our homeland security officials, but so did the white Americans who were fostering their hate in small groups and connecting via social media. Jihadism was the sparkling object too many wanted to pay attention to when it was the racism of the Tea Party that should have been a focal point.

For too long there was a continual stoking of resentments by conservative agitators to rile up the white men about alleged grievances in the nation and to get them to believe they were being treated unfairly. Ann Coulter, as a prime example, described her version of the Democratic Party on Fox News.

I mean you have the Muslims and the Jews and the various exotic sexual groups and the black church ladies with the college queers … you must hate white men. It’s the one thing they have in common.

This was the vile racism being openly promoted on a major network and aimed at the easily-led demographics. A large segment of that viewer base was soon lulled into Tea Party politics. Meanwhile, the rest of the nation fully understood that white males in America had lived on a rainbow in this nation.  Always have. The entire power and governing structure were designed, from the drafting of the Constitution, to accommodate white males.

So what gives with all the anger and nastiness that has permeated our politics for several election cycles and went into bizarro land since the general election in 2020? There is no doubt in uneasy economic times that all sorts of ugly fissures open in society and ooze stuff that in better times are kept in check. That, in and of itself, is not a new phenomenon. And yet, the volume of disgusting actions and words that have erupted in recent weeks make that simple attempt for an answer inadequate to what we all witness.

When we dig down into the extreme nastiness of those who shout and break into federal buildings we see and hear the fear that reaches beyond basic economics which is often seen as the fault line. Rather, at the heart of the anger of these white people, is the fact that when they looked at President Obama or now see soon-to-be Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris they are looking at the future.  And it gets them all unsettled. While there are other cultural issues or economic matters (such as large banks and bailouts) that stir the rage of these people, the heart of it is always about race.

After all, a white majority population in America is not the future.  The world is brown, and the trend lines have this country moving in the same direction.  And quickly.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Embracing what makes us diverse has always been the way for social progress, and it also allows for personal enrichment.  But it also allows for a certain segment to lash out and act in ways that society, or a democracy, can not abide.

There was no way not to laugh at the Tea Party types when they disparaged Obama because he was Black, or tried to paint him as a Muslim, or not recognize he was a constitutional scholar. If only they could tarnish him enough and bring this ‘uppity black man’ down a peg or two they then could feel so much better about their own lives.

I have no way to understand the fear and anger that consumes these types of people, but we all can agree that the way they were handled on January 6th, and in the days since underscores again how whites do get preferential treatment. Had it been Muslims who had conducted the terrorists attack on the Capitol they would have been shot on the spot. In the following days, mass arrests would have occurred and those who incited the riot and participated in it would not be out on bail or offered organic meals.

Toxic beliefs have been brewing in the minds of some white Americans for a long time, and have been stirred and fomented by Donald Trump and a large segment of the Republican Party. They must be combatted and it is imperative that just as we moved aggressively after 9/11 we now also act with new powers modeled on those crafted to fight Islamic terrorism. The reason is clear, The majority of deadly extremist incidents in our country are motivated and conducted by far-right ideologies, especially those with their primary allegiance to white supremacy. But, as I noted above, it is the threat of Islamic radicalism that commands a far greater share of government resources.

That must change.

January 6 taught that lesson in frighteningly tragic detail.

And so it goes.

Tell Me Civics Is Not Needed In Schools! Or That a Segment Of This Nation Is Not Just Plain Stupid!

Yesterday at lunch I talked with a county employee about the state of affairs in this country.  We agreed that the degree to which civics is taught in our schools or understood generally is awful.  We also found it most troubling how the lowest common denominators have taken this nation to new lows.

The latest news headline in my feed this morning underscores both points.

Among Republican and Republican-leaning likely voters, 45% said they might not accept the election as legitimate if their candidate doesn’t win, according to a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.  It was also reported that 18% said they would definitely not accept the outcome. A majority of Republicans — 53% — said they would accept the results of the election if their candidate loses. An overwhelming majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters — 82%– said they would definitely or probably accept the election.

It all comes down to education and like it or not this nation has a large percentage of truly uninformed people who drag the rest of us down.  That might sound harsh or even elitist.  Too bad if it does.

There are many citizens–and I am one of them–who are sick and tired of the mentally lazy taking our country into places we have never been before.  This election season is but one example of the embarrassment that has befallen us.  The world looks to us for leadership–economically, diplomatically, militarily–and what they have seen for the past year is a segment of the nation too stupid to not understand or appreciate the basic foundations of even basic democracy.

At first I laugh at those who gather and rally for Trump but then it turns to embarrassment that this type of news video circulates the globe and others somehow will think these bumpkins are a reflection of all those who reside here.

I love those who have differing political opinions than mine as long as they are based on fact.  But I can not countenance allowing this nation to drift away from sanity and reason due to the low-life types with their lack of education and bad manners.


Donald Trump Playing To Teabaggers–America The Victim

This morning at 8:23 A.M. Donald Trump, the troubled sexual predator who is also the GOP presidential nominee, was in the midst of another snit with just about everything.  He sent out on Twitter the following.

“Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election”.

That tweet illustrates a concern a lot of Republicans and Democrats have.  Trump is saying our presidential election system is not on the level. That’s an unprecedented charge in the manner he presents it and stresses it over and over.

When John McCain lost to Barack Obama in 2008, he called to congratulate him “on being elected the next president of the country that we both love” and said “this campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life. And my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend, Sen. Joe Biden, should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.”

Can anyone see Trump saying anything like this if he loses?

If he doesn’t, that could upend a bipartisan American tradition and a bedrock of any democracy, that being the peaceful transition of power.

This is something that top officials in both parties have been seriously worried about for months. Trump’s recent tactics on the trail have heightened this concern. Republicans who think Trump will lose want to quickly move on if Clinton is the victor. And Democrats know Clinton will be hobbled if a swath of Americans think she is illegitimate.

Trump is using the uneducated in this country to further his own selfish and mean-spirited motives.  He does not care if he rips the nation apart and his three-thumbed followers are too stupid to understand what he is using them to do.

This is dangerous for the nation and it needs to be stopped.

Trump Supporters Show Lack Of Understanding About Role Of A Free Press

Give me a few solid reporters to help keep my nation free as opposed to a battalion of soldiers.  I have often stated the real heroes are the ones who use ink and shoe leather to shine a light on the truth.  Those reporters have always been the ones I most respect.

Thomas Jefferson perhaps said it better than most.

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Trouble is we have too many in this nation who show a disdain for knowledge and facts.

For a society to be responsible and powerful, it must be informed. But this election cycle has proven a loud and unruly segment of the electorate is just too darn stupid to grasp the fact our free press, which is protected by the first constitutional amendment, plays a critical role in ensuring that every American has constant access to important news and information.

It is no mystery who these cranky ones are when it comes to denouncing the press.  Just look at the demographics of a Trump rally and it is clear who these people are–they are easy to point out.    Many of these have been shown to statistically not have a solid education.  Therefore it is then clear why they so readily swallow what they are fed by Donald Trump.

This week the nation has been treated to see the Trump lifestyle.  It is a trashy life that is being reported to the electorate.  As such the GOP nominee has claimed that mainstream media outlets no longer conduct journalism.

“Reporters who work for these outlets like Washington Post or The New York Times may think of themselves as journalists, but they’re actually just cogs in a corporate, political machine.”

He spoke of reporters as  “Third rate people. I’m telling you. Third rate. Bad people. Bad people. Sick people!”

I know that in the nations where Trump finds dictators and despots that he so admires it is easy to have censorship reign.   Not being kind to the press is a long running narrative in this nation but the tone and degree to which Trump is now taking it makes the Spiro Agnew bombast pale in comparison.  There is a real danger to what is being ginned up in this nation by a demagogue running for president.

Yesterday in my news feeds came the following tweet.

Seema Mehta (@LATSeema): “Press at Trump evening rally getting escorted to motorcade under watch of cops in riot gear, per pool. This is getting increasingly scary.”

That is not how our free press should need to be treated in a nation that has a First Amendment.

I know a segment of lower educated whites are the ones being riled up by the Trump campaign and as the election looms and his defeat nears these types of ingrates scream louder and even resort to violence.  But I also trust that the majority in this nation who still respect our constitutional rights will also rise up and defend the role and responsibility of the press.

After all it is the newspapers and the reporters they hire who keep as free as Jefferson so well knew to be the case.

Donald Trump’s Lasting Stain On America

You probably have imagined, as I have, what type of person would be a ‘birther’.  They have to be white men of course with low self-esteem who can only feel better when trying to take  others of stature down.  “Birthers’ have to be insignificant in their towns and workplaces, and most likely in their own homes, too.   These men are best summed up in books and movies who paint the dim-witted and gullible as tragic figures.

But who stirs the cesspool of hate and bigotry so to attract the ones who do not know better?

In the case of trying to spin lies about the U.S. citizenship of President Barrack Obama the one with the spoon is Donald Trump.  He actually made a political name for himself with his shameful actions.  I am not sure who needs to get more blame. The man with low morals and lack of character or the uneducated masses who would rather look for someone to hate than work on their own shortcomings.

No matter what Trump says now–as with his statement that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.” there is never going to be anything in the pages of history other than a dark stain associated with Trump’s name.

Trump used smears and out-right bigotry to attempt t0 delegitimize our first black president.  The whole center of his outrageous lie was to somehow make it seem this nation did not make a legitimate social step by electing American-born Obama.    History of course has been made by Obama and Trump is relegated to his place in it, too.  As a scummy person who failed at being a man of character.

There is no way for Trump to reclaim any high ground on this matter as he ceded that away when he took the dark path of conspiracy theories and unleashed his biases.

The Freedom Caucus Needs To Be Brought To Their Knees

Every now and then the Wall Street Journal has an editorial that I simply applaud.  Today was such a read.

The Huelskamp Mistake”

Why did a conservative lose in one of the most conservative districts?”: “The lost opportunity is that [defeated Kansas GOP Rep. Tim] Huelskamp is the kind of principled reformer who might have made a difference in Washington. The GOP needs Members willing to stand up to lobbies like the U.S. Chamber that support business subsidies. His mistake was getting caught up in the Heritage Action-Ted Cruz phony political rage to the point that he refused any compromise. In 2012 he voted against Paul Ryan’s budget that included Medicare and tax reforms and cut discretionary spending by $20 billion below levels agreed to in the sequester. Mr. Huelskamp claimed it didn’t cut spending enough.

By denying the House GOP a working 218-vote majority for budgets and other reforms, Mr. Huelskamp and the Freedom Caucus have too often handed power to Democrat Nancy Pelosi and made conservative reform impossible. This caught up with him at home. His defeat should be a lesson to the rest of the Freedom Caucus that reforming and shrinking government require more than fanning populist anger.

Republicans Face Perfect Storm In 2016 Election Season

Pointing out the obvious as to why the GOP is just fit to be tied.   Ted Cruz as the nominee would be the modern-day Barry Goldwater and Donald Trump has the power to make the GOP implode.  This is the perfect political storm.

Bet the GOP is wondering now how they ever let the teabaggers have a seat at the table.

One growing worry about Trump or Cruz, top party officials, donors, and operatives across the country say, is that nominating either man would imperil lawmakers in down-ballot races, especially those residing in moderate states and districts.

“At some point, we have to deal with the fact that there are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We’d be hard-pressed to elect a Republican dogcatcher north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi.”

What will save the GOP?

A moderate Republican–anything less than that and we will not be counting electoral votes on Election Night but how many Republicans are swept way in the storm.