Monday, November 19, 2012

"Urban" vs "Rural"

Two articles I've read recently  from The Atlantic and The Republic have made it clear that the reasons for GOP going down is linked to geography and population. I have gotten really angry in the past at certain GOP remarks about "real Americans" obviously pointing to rural Americans of a lighter hue as being somehow better than those city slickers. Democrats seem to own urban centers in America. One reason is because you can't get too crazy if you got to pick up the trash, clean and police the streets, educate the populace(though there some crazy's in city government right now concerning this, but that's another story), and transport masses of people to and from work daily. There is no right or left wing bus system.

The main points of these articles is that Republicans have ceded the cities to Democrats because their ideology of rough and rugged individualism doesn't really work there.  I don't know about that, as it simplifies their platform a little too much, but it does bring up the fact that they are not using their ideas in dealing with the challenges that occur in city environments. As more and more people live there from a variety of economic and cultural backgrounds, they cannot be ignored and demonized if one wants to win national, regional, and of course, local elections.
If Republicans are ever going to earn real votes in cities in the future, though, they'll have to do more than just talk about them differently. The real problem seeps much deeper. As the Republican Party has moved further to the right, it has increasingly become the party of fierce individualism, of "I built that" and you take care of yourself. Cities, on the other hand, are fundamentally about the shared commons. If you live in a city and you think government – and other people – should stay out of your life, how will you get to work in the morning? Who will police your neighborhood? Where will you find a public park when your building has no back yard?
However, as usual, it's the comments section below that gets the blood boiling.  It started off with welfare queens of all things, and how living in a city you see that that stereotype doesn't exist, and then it does exist, and then people have babies just to get more money, and then….sigh.

No one seems to ask the right questions. There are people who game the system yes. Why would they do that? Are they just naturally degenerate? Could there be some reason for it beyond their  "degenerate nature"?  The delusion of moral superiority due to geography has to end. We need to look at issues in our democracy square in the face and devise the best solutions for them. These surface bogeymen distract from the issues of making society work so that the gamers of the system have less to game.  The point is that the GOP needs to get their feet into population centers so that there is a vibrant debate which can lead to better governance for all. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Death of White Supremacy

With the election over and Obama re-elected, my brother, who is my political pundit cohort in the family, had a really interesting conversation. What we both came to as a conclusion is something that we as "post-black" "modern" adults have difficulty saying because it's of our parents generation. It's a phrase that is generally associated with sweaty baptist preachers, street-i-fied black academics from ivy league type universities, and red, green and black clad afro-centric protesters. But we came to this conclusion because the blindness is so obvious, so delusional, that there's no other way to say it:

We are watching the death throws of White Supremacy.

Twitter and Facebook are good for something because there was no way to avoid seeing the hysteria in the first few days after the election.  There are all sorts of people tweeting their upset that we are re-electing a "Nigger" back to the white house. Trump called the election illegitimate and said people should march on Washington. Later, Cable TV spewed all sorts of stuff. Bill O'Reilly spoke about the death of "traditional" America with its "Traditional American Values." The Five on Fox News just kept saying over and over again that half of America just voted a certain way so they could get free stuff. When Fox news called the election for Obama, the news anchors interviewed their own election data crunchers because they just couldn't believe that Obama actually won Ohio. 

With the beginnings of political parity in America of people of non-european ethnicity, no longer can others point of views be shunted to the side.  No longer can people believe only what they want to believe, just because it "seems right".  One of my older white Jewish friends basically said to me, now everybody else's voice can be heard! When the delusion is seen by white people themselves, you know it's on it's way out. 

Let me say quite clearly that the Republican party and all white people are not racists. Most people have no problems individually with anyone. However, white privilege has been so much a part of the American zeitgeist for so many years it has been the natural order of things. Privilege is not just about money and opportunities. Its also about seeing what one want to see because there are enough people like you to block out other's reality.  White supremacy is frankly the best way I can put what Americans of primarily Northern European descent have lived through in America, whether specific individuals oppressed another individual or not.  

Let me explain my view on this further. Part of White Supremist thought is the ability of white people to be completely wrapped up in their own world view thereby negating other's experiences. If other ethnic groups do better economically or politically, or want something different than what white people want, they have difficulty dealing with that reality and either destroy that thing or become delusional and just make up the reality that suits them. In the past destruction was fine (anyone remember the real town of Rosewood. A movie was made  about the destruction by burning of a black town in Florida by whites).   When the Declaration of Independence was written, in order for the statement, "All men are created equal" to make sense while having slaves, the white power structure had to make black people three-fifths of a man and not a "real" man.  You can't enslave another man if all men are created equal.  They created a delusion in order for their world view to make sense. That "fact" was made up to fit a situation.

Fast forward to the 2008 election. Republicans thought Obama's election and turnout was a fluke. A moment in time, not repeatable.  The media was in the tank for Obama. All their pundits believed that minorities would not vote in force again. Not only that, the polls were also in the tank for Obama and were wrong. Nate Silver was wrong. He was an ideologue. By the way, Nate Silver is just an aggregator of polls. He looked at the math that was available to everyone, and said Obama had a much better than 50% chance of winning. But the polls were skewed, so said the Republicans. There was a website, created by Dean Chambers, dedicated to "unsckewing" polls simply based off of belief that the polls were wrong. 

“Most of the polls I ‘unskewed’ were based on samples that generally included about five or six or seven percent more Democrats than Republicans, and I doubted and questioned the results of those polls, and then ‘unskewed’ them based on my BELIEF (emphasis mine) that a nearly equal percentage of Democrats and Republicans would turn out in the actual election this year,”

What did he expect? That blacks, hispanics, and asians would just magically disappear after the last election? This especially after the Republican party did literally everything they could to piss them and women off? The voter id laws essentially energized people that may not have been energized because they knew what it felt like to not be able to vote. My mother grew up in the segregated south and told me flat out that what was happening now felt just like that time. However, the delusion doesn't come from the desire to have an id to vote. The delusion comes from the "fact" that there were significant cases of voter fraud to cause this plan to need go into effect. The delusion also comes from not understanding how people might feel about this especially when it's put into effect right before a major election, and basically disregard and deride the anger it might cause.

The engagement strategy of pandering to delusional thinking had unintended side effects. The most recent one is the Todd Akin debacle.  Todd Akin listened to "a doctor" who just made up what a women's body's does in order to bolster his pro-life argument. The "legitimate rape" statement falls in the white supremacy category because it's nonsensical, equating pseudo-facts with actual facts to back up a skewed world view. Let me be clear: the pro-life argument is not skewed, Akin's argument concerning rape and it's "legitimacy" is.When Akin's delusion was laid out this bluntly, people recoiled in horror.  Yet, many still embraced him. How does one consider sending someone to congress who doesn't understand basic biology?  In the 21st century? He was defeated.

So now that Obama is president again, what the country is learning that we are not a melting pot where all ethnic groups' identities merge into one zeitgeist, but a tossed salad of ideas and concerns. The strategy of delusional thinking and blindness to others interests won't work anymore. You cannot win elections by deciding to kick everyone else's concerns to the curb. White people's concerns are as important as black people concerns, which are as important as hispanic people's concerns…and so on. You cannot pick and choose which facts you are going to choose to believe and still win elections.

Here is Erik Erickson of trying to step away from white supremacy by embracing the facts without laying down his ideals. 

…Romney made a conscious decision to blow off Hispanic voters. Yes conservatives, we must account for this. The Romney campaign to the hispanic community was atrocious and, frankly, the fastest growing demographic in America isn’t going to vote for a party that sounds like that party hates brown people. That does not mean the GOP must offer up amnesty. It does mean that a group that is a natural fit for the GOP on social issues, must in someway be made to feel comfortable with the GOP…. 
As for you conservatives who are convinced today that suddenly we are a socialist nation, sober up and pay attention... Republicans who, overnight, were screaming about the country headed toward socialism are, if we are honest, not yet deprogrammed from defending Mitt Romney. The Romney campaign, truth be told, has been pathetic at defining a real, right-of-center alternative to Barack Obama. It’s hard to say Americans embraced, overnight, socialism, when Americans delivered back the status quo — including the “crazy” tea partiers in the House of Representatives — rejecting only Mitt Romney’s brand of “I’m going to do what the President is doing, but with more tickle.”
Here are the comments underneath and you'll see the delusional thinking.

Commenter #1: The electoral problems do indeed go deeper because Obama has created a very socially liberal urban based coalition, a coalition that is at odds with a large part of the American cultural tradition. Limited government requires a people of self-reliance and moral fiber; without that, our vision of governance is not just unpopular, but kaput.

So…"socially liberal urban based people" don't have self-reliance and moral fiber? They are at odds with "american tradition"? What is that tradition pray tell?  And you know this information how….

Commenter #2: A nation that can RE-elect a man as unqualified as Barack Obama is in deep trouble." We are stocking up on guns and ammo in Texas - on the outside chance Perry decides to defend our border.

So now because Obama has been elected again, you're going to get some guns and secede from the union?! What year is this?!  Watch as someone tries to detach and move into reality.

Response to Commenter #2: Are we going to retreat into wild fantasies of succession? That is not going to solve the basic structural weaknesses in the Republican party. We need to be looking forward and deciding how we can change to become America's inclusive party. Any other course will navigate us unto the shoals of despair.

Do you see it? How does the passage of Obamacare, the bank bail outs and just Obama himself move into a violent hostile federal takeover of a state? Why does one, all of a sudden, have to buy some guns? If it does not fit into the world view they would like to see, they just make up something, some fact to just make themselves feel better. That's how white supremacy works. When someone tries to detach from it, they are being blind to the realities of the "true" situation and are banned from the conversation. Literally.

But with the discovery that there is now an emerging political parity of ethnic groups in America, the blinders are being taken off.  But more importantly, the what's underneath the blinders are being seen and believed!  On CNN's State of the Union, Carlos Gutierrez tries to tell Gary Bauer of American Values that the reason Hispanic voters did not vote for the GOP was because they were frightened of them. Bauer tried to say there was a lot of fear mongering because of the TV ads Obama put out. Gutierrez just kept hammering home that these are people he spoke to and knows. They are afraid! Listen to me!  Bauer refuses like a woman who has been in multiple bad relationships refuses to see a jerk coming a mile a way.

The election also proves is there is no more delusion without consequences. The republican party cannot put a token black, hispanic or asian up and say, "Hey look! We're diverse and we understand you!"  There are already small amounts of those constituencies present in the party. However, they can no longer be used like show pieces.  Their ideas must be taken into consideration and used to reach out to the rest of the electorate. This means that the ideas of small government, low regulation, market supremacy must be translated into practical ideas that relate specifically to their experience. Cultural and religious differences cannot be discounted or dismissed.  Using phrases like the " death of American tradition" to signify change in the party does not feel like a positive shift. Calling the group who did not vote for you "takers" will not inspire those outside the party to vote for you. The GOP must release and repudiate the dog whistles that speak to white supremacy. No more food stamp presidents or welfare queens or socialist or sharia laws scares. This is a delusion. It is not real.

Our two party system should have all people on both sides. But one cannot make up one's own reality because the reality doesn't fit their desired outcomes. One side can have it's own set of interests that they can rally around and fight for. They can come together with other ethnic and cultural interests that may share their beliefs and ideals. But if others don't believe in your ideas, you don't paint them as other/evil. Each way is A way not THE way. We're all just trying to live on the planet as humans. There are philosophies that are dangerous and there is rhetoric everywhere that is over the top. But the delusion that is White Supremacy is dying. Children are growing up with everybody in the sandbox and everybody wants use the digger cause it's cool. Each kid makes up why they should have the digger first, but what ends up happening is they take turns because it's fair. They are equal. They are all human beings. Ding Dong, White supremacy is dead.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Global Warming: The New Normal

Ok everyone. You might not even read or hear this because you my not have any electricity in your home. But I'm going to say it anyway: I can't stand global warming and those who think it's not happening. We just went through a storm that has affected 50 million people across the entire eastern seaboard, flooded New York City, destroyed the New Jersey coastline and caused A BLIZZARD IN THE MOUNTAINS!!!  When I grew up in the Washingon, DC area, there was this large snow storm in the late 70s and it was rough with a couple of feet of snow on the ground.  But it was just one blizzard, it didn't happen that often, and no power was lost. Since I moved back to the DC area we have had thunder snow, blizzards, tornadoes, durechos, extreme draught, heat advisories and hot weather in February (regularly). I have gone thru power outage after power outage and trees falling down on my car and house. The mid atlantic states are supposed to have relatively tame weather. All of these weather incidents happened in the last 4 years. This is what we have to get used to in the future; the new normal so to speak. Face it: global warming is blooming. The chickens are coming home to roost.

Though the science is in concerning global warming, it's the weather that should make us believe.

[Nobel Laureate Mario J Molina, PhD] emphasized that there is no "absolute certainty" that global warming is causing extreme weather events. But he said that scientific insights during the last year or so strengthen the link. Even if the scientific evidence continues to fall short of the absolute certainly measure, the heat, drought, severe storms and other weather extremes may prove beneficial in making the public more aware of global warming and the need for action, said Molina. 
"It's important that people are doing more than just hearing about global warming," he said. "People may be feeling it, experiencing the impact on food prices, getting a glimpse of what everyday life may be like in the future, unless we as a society take action."

However, this is where the internet and it's openness goes horribly wrong and why it's so easy to deny climate change. As we all know, any crackpot with a computer can put any theory up on youtube. And those voices can seriously muddy the waters of common discourse. Who do you believe? With hurricane Sandy, those voices have everybody under the sun but mother nature herself creating it. This Salon article nicely lists all the theories out there. 

The one I hate the most is the HAARP program and chemical trails one. The government controls the weather. Really?! Then they are doing a really bad job! The problem with this theory is that if they created this storm, why didn't they stop the heatwave that destroyed crops all over the US? My favorite is that the gay's did it. God doesn't like gay people and so He sent this storm to chastise us for supporting for gay marriage. This is like when I tell my two year old why it's raining: it's just a giant crying. We can't tell you why it's raining, but it is and here's a nice little story about it to make you feel better.

This stuff is ridiculous. We can debate about why the weather is changing and whether it's man made climate change or not,(but it is, so those crazy scientists say) but the weather is changing. I've experienced it. We've all experienced it. There will always be freak storms and freak times, but we've had a lot of freak storms recently at freaky times. The truly freaky part is that these freaky things happen all the freakin' time now. We better freakin listen and do something about it.