Recording Devices #atozchallenge

R: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Devices That Record and the Letter R for Recording Devices 

There’s a common saying that just before death, our lives flash before our eyes. I can’t confirm from experience but I have a very good memory so, chances are, if you said something to me, I remember. I have so many lines and words streaming through my brain, if anyone were to plug in to listen, it would sound like white noise. I like it that way. For some of you who enjoy metaphysical ponderances, who’s to say we aren’t all living the flashback of life that has already happened, anyway? Maybe what we think is reality is just each of our lives flashing before our eyes. If we’re in that experience or not, how would we know?

But I digress fR June Cleaverar too far to make a simple point about being able to hear and see what was said and done with recording devices, and its great value. Thank goodness we have them or no one would believe how life used to be. Yes, old TV shows were depicting the fact that families lived comfortably with one person earning money and one staying home.

Cheesy, but it was true. We had a thriving middle class and people didn’t have to work their butts off to have it.

Joseph McCarthy R McCarthyreally did try to stir up hate for Democrats or those on the political left by branding them Communists, which fueled the Cold War.  We have that excellent, exasperated remark on recording devices from Joseph Welch, US Army’s chief counsel who finally spoke up to this jerk:

Thank goodness we have that entire debacle on tape. Same goes for prohibition. Whew, glad I didn’t live through that time – but I know about it.

And the Founding Fathers wrote down their philosophies and ideas for our government, although I wish they hadn’t been so clunky with the Second Amendment. But to expound on that would mean another digression.

The country didn’t used to have freeways from coast to coast or even phone service, plumbing and electricity in rural areas. It took work and laws and government jobs. Thank goodness we have written and filmed proof because I swear many people alive today seem truly oblivious to how we got the society we have. We worked together. Our government was our partner. We paid for it with muscle and capital.

All of this is important. I wrote over a year ago a blog I titled “Born Contempt,” (https://debrastrege.com/2015/01/24/born-contempt/ ) because I was hearing too many millennials saying too often about far too many important issues, “I wasn’t born yet,” as if to dismiss the importance of knowing something or a dismissal to its relevance. And now we have a kind of rhetoric in the presidential race discourse that Germany heard in the 1930s. You bet history is important to remind us to keep vigilant.

R Doomed quote

 

L Is For, “I Am a Liberal” #atozchallenge

You damn right, I’m a liberal. And damn proud of it. Unabashedly so, thank you very much. I marinate in my liberal philosophy. I bath in its war, milky, all-encompassing, pool of equality for all and we the people.

I don’t know about your upbringing, but Mom and Dad talked about Jesus’ philosophy when I was small. He turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple. He told folks not to judge others because no one’s perfect. He was peace-loving. He fed folks and healed the sick. It wasn’t until I was ten years old that my friend Leslie and I asked my folks if we were Democrats or Republicans and Dad said, “We’re Democrats,” that I began to understand that Mom and Dad really practiced what they preached in loving thy neighbor, being kind to those less fortunate and favoring equality for all. And that all just felt right to me at ten and I have lived that philosophy since.

I have already written about conservatives and asked what they conserve. And I certainly can’t wrap my head around their form of Christianity with their nauseating prejudice, hate and belittling of any “other.” And while I understand the intentions, I don’t understand the motives of the folks on left or the apathetic non-voters who scream how no announced presidential candidate is ever good enough. And if I hear, “Both parties are the same,” I am going to scream! You can’t be serious or you must have an agenda to give Republicans more power because I can guarantee while folks on the left standing in their circular firing squad, the Republicans will vote and march in lockstep. (Nazi analogy intended.)

No one in Washington is far enough to the left for me so I share the discontent. But politics is the art of the possible, to quote Otto von Bismarck, and the perfect of the enemy is the good, to borrow from Voltaire. And, Lord, don’t make me quote Dr. Phil. “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Do you want to see the next president appoint up to four Supreme Court justices to the right of Attila the Hun, I mean Samuel Alito? Or do you want to help this country move back to sanity? This is a massive cruise ship, not a schooner. Redirecting takes time and nuance and politics!

Are the Democrats the Republicans of the 1970s? Absolutely. But they didn’t magically sprout out of the ground overnight like Jack’s planted beans. While the Republicans have been building their corporate power and messaging to magnetize all the bigots and zealots to their voting block, our entire political system was corrupted by K Street lobbyists and obscene amounts of money. Democrats either went along or were forced by the outrageous influence of money in our system. It’s a mess. But it’s our mess. We the people are this government, unless we let them take it. Sitting out is not an option. Making ourselves a voice to be reckoned with to leaders who will listen is. President Obama listens. In 2016, Hillary will listen. Ted Cruz or Rand Paul won’t.

Republicans have done NOTHING for the 99% since Eisenhower got the highway system built. Do you know what liberals have done for you? Here’s a quick ,short list:

Workers’ rights like the 40-hour work week, the right to form unions, workplace safety laws, child labor laws and vacations; Social Security, voting rights for women and minorities, civil rights, public education, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, food support, infrastructure including massive dam projects and railways, the postal service, local police and fire, the EPA, the FDIC, libraries, unemployment insurance, defeating the Nazis, saving democracy and declaring independence from England to form these United States of America.

And every one of these things from which you and those you love benefit can be taken away. As a citizen in this country, apathy is not an option.

F Is For Fascism #atozchallenge

Fascism is a word first coined in 1919 by the Italy’s former Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. In school I learned Fascism meant the combining of government and big business, because Mussolini defined it that way and ran Italy so. Further defining fascism by Mussolini’s Italy, it is an extreme, totalitarian government on the far right end of the political spectrum, if Communism is on the far left. A political “spectrum” is more of a circle, which is why there are similarities between Fascism and Communism when it comes to restricting speech and dissent under a strong authoritarian power. The distinction lies in ownership, however. Under Communism, the government owns business and industry, while under Fascism, business and industry own the government. For the purposes of this post, I will use this definition.

     The Nazis are Fascists, as well, although they deliberately named themselves the National Socialist Party (“Nazi: being its acronym). Calling things the opposite of what they are is not new in politics. Bush’s “Clear Skies Initiative” released more toxins into the air so unless he meant clearing the skies of birds (attribution to Senator Al Franken), the title of that initiative is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, Nazis are an extreme right-wing group, regardless of what they are called.

     When I hear the word “Fascism” thrown around, it seems it has taken on a popular definition of authoritarian-style government or dictatorial leader, without the distinctions I noted above. I imagine that is why the term Fascism and Communism are often used in the same breath. There is some merit to the evolution of politicla terms, as different groups embrace them. For example, many racist, Neo-Nazi and skinhead groups call themselves Fascists. But I think I is dangerous to ignore the original and fundamental distinction, which is how power is granted to the government and by whom.

Hitler

 

     I mention Nazism because it is the quintessential textbook example on how an extreme political entity can take over a country. Hitler transformed Germany slowly with his charisma, repeated phrases and small and seemingly positive and innocuous laws. I compare it to the frog placed in a pot who does not notice the water slowly heat to boiling until it is too late. It works on humans, too, if they are all diverted by mass distractions like sporting contests, new technology and thoughtless entertainment. If our fifth estate, journalism, is not doing its part either, a lot can happen in plain sight.

     Most Americans pay very little attention to the politic in this country. Perhaps in another blog I will lay out why I believe the diversion is deliberate. European counties with much longer history leave their citizens with a greater cynicism, which I believe is healthy and keeps them more engaged. They think we are naive to think our way of life or our current government can’t be drastically changed overnight or that our leaders would never try to destroy our democracy. They know better because their countries have lived though it.

     The Internet has had its share people posting concern over the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United case, which, building upon the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, grants personhood to corporations (from any country), thereby granting them the First Amendment right to free speech and free and unlimited permission to donate to campaigns, even anonymously. Since the 2010 decision, it is now a near certainty the interests of the wealthiest 1% will be put into law, verses virtually zero chance for the interests of the majority.

     Yet the majority of people polled say they favor the right for workers to bargain collectively, the importance of manufacturing jobs staying here, that college education should be free, that the rich should pay more in taxes, that health care should be a right for all, that the government should improve our roads and bridges, and yet many of our states and Federal government votes against these majority opinions. This is even more that case in recent years. Demos.org lays out how money in politics has stacked the deck against the rest of us.

     Most of the corporations influencing Congress and our presidential and even state candidates with fat stacks are not even American companies but according to the Supreme Court, all corporations are people. And we are not even allowed to know who these donors are. But this didn’t happen overnight. It’s been happening gradually and not enough of us are paying attention. It might not be Fascism but it sure is Fascism-adjacent. I don’t know about you, neighbor frog, but I think the pot is heating up.

Fascism: Not Funny and Never Leftist #atozchallenge

Fascism is a word first coined in 1919 by the Italy’s former Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. In school I learned Fascism meant the combining of government and big business, because Mussolini defined it that way and ran Italy so. Further defining fascism by Mussolini’s Italy, it is an extreme, totalitarian government on the far right end of the political spectrum, if Communism is on the far left. A political “spectrum” is more of a circle, which is why there are similarities between Fascism and Communism when it comes to restricting speech and dissent under a strong authoritarian power. The distinction lies in ownership, however. Under Communism, the government owns business and industry, while under Fascism, business and industry own the government. For the purposes of this post, I will use this definition.

     The Nazis are Fascists, as well, although they deliberately named themselves the National Socialist Party (“Nazi: being its acronym). Calling things the opposite of what they are is not new in politics. Bush’s “Clear Skies Initiative” released more toxins into the air so unless he meant clearing the skies of birds (attribution to Senator Al Franken), the title of that initiative is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, Nazis are an extreme right-wing group, regardless of what they are called.

     When I hear the word “Fascism” thrown around, it seems it has taken on a popular definition of authoritarian-style government or dictatorial leader, without the distinctions I noted above. I imagine that is why the term Fascism and Communism are often used in the same breath. There is some merit to the evolution of politicla terms, as different groups embrace them. For example, many racist, Neo-Nazi and skinhead groups call themselves Fascists. But I think I is dangerous to ignore the original and fundamental distinction, which is how power is granted to the government and by whom.

Hitler

 

     I mention Nazism because it is the quintessential textbook example on how an extreme political entity can take over a country. Hitler transformed Germany slowly with his charisma, repeated phrases and small and seemingly positive and innocuous laws. I compare it to the frog placed in a pot who does not notice the water slowly heat to boiling until it is too late. It works on humans, too, if they are all diverted by mass distractions like sporting contests, new technology and thoughtless entertainment. If our fifth estate, journalism, is not doing its part either, a lot can happen in plain sight.

     Most Americans pay very little attention to the politic in this country. Perhaps in another blog I will lay out why I believe the diversion is deliberate. European counties with much longer history leave their citizens with a greater cynicism, which I believe is healthy and keeps them more engaged. They think we are naive to think our way of life or our current government can’t be drastically changed overnight or that our leaders would never try to destroy our democracy. They know better because their countries have lived though it.

     The Internet has had its share people posting concern over the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United case, which, building upon the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, grants personhood to corporations (from any country), thereby granting them the First Amendment right to free speech and free and unlimited permission to donate to campaigns, even anonymously. Since the 2010 decision, it is now a near certainty the interests of the wealthiest 1% will be put into law, verses virtually zero chance for the interests of the majority.

     Yet the majority of people polled say they favor the right for workers to bargain collectively, the importance of manufacturing jobs staying here, that college education should be free, that the rich should pay more in taxes, that health care should be a right for all, that the government should improve our roads and bridges, and yet many of our states and Federal government votes against these majority opinions. This is even more that case in recent years. Demos.org lays out how money in politics has stacked the deck against the rest of us.

     Most of the corporations influencing Congress and our presidential and even state candidates with fat stacks are not even American companies but according to the Supreme Court, all corporations are people. And we are not even allowed to know who these donors are. But this didn’t happen overnight. It’s been happening gradually and not enough of us are paying attention. It might not be Fascism but it sure is Fascism-adjacent. I don’t know about you, neighbor frog, but I think the pot is heating up.

Conservatives, What Do You Conserve?

Recently there have been a couple scientific studies on the behavioral and biological differences between the people who align themselves as political conservatives or liberals (using US terminology). Both the University of Nebraska study and the U.C. Berkeley study pretty much confirm the classic definition for both. Liberals tended to filter new information through current conditions, formed new opinions and reacted less emotionally to change, which aligns with its classic definitionConservatives tended to have stronger, negative reactions to perceived change and preferred static conditions, which also fits the classic definition. DiversitySignFor me, as a liberal, I like to just think of conservatives the way Peter Griffin from The Family Guy put it while riding and elephant in a parade: “Hey, Lois, look. The two symbols of the Republican party: an elephant and a big fat white guy who’s threatened by change “

     The definitions for liberal and progressive are the same as our stand. We believe in progress, moving forward with society as it evolves with laws that protect us fairly and equaly, that a smarter, wealthier and healthier greater good is best achieved by including everyone, by collectively helping those who need it and tolerating unpopular as well as popular differences.

     So, conservatives, what do you conserve?

     The best I can figure is you conserve what the greediest among the 1% wealthiest have gained in the past 34 years, since Ronald Reagan tipped the scales toward them and the rest of us got trickled down upon. If you are within that tiny group of the greediest of the 1% wealthiest and call yourself a conservative, I understand why. But to the rest of you, what do you conserve? You don’t conserve raw materials, which is what “c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t” means. Your motto is. “Drill those fossil fuels, baby, drill.” You don’t conserve money because the combined debt under the last three conservative Republican presidents is higher than the combined dept of every administration prior to Ronald Reagan. Your don’t want to fund road or bridge maintenance so you don’t want to conserve infrastructure. You oppose Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, tariffs, organized labor and the minimum wage so you don’t want conserve the economic and physical safety of babies, children, sick, working or retired people. (Notice how the Frank Luntz two-term buzz phrase of “compassionate conservative” has become but a quaint footnote.)

      Many conservatives in Congress and presidential candidates say they want to take our country back. Is that historically back before most of our laws were established, back from this president because he is illegitimate to you or back from me and people like me? Because we disagree on most things and this is my country, too. Taking back implies you have an ownership or it’s a football game, neither of which is the case. Going back also implies the use of a time machine. If you have one, please use it and leave the rest of us to the country we have. No taksies backsies, either. But I am a helper so if you think 1960 is the place you’d like to go, watch a couple episodes of Mad Men and see how women, persons with disabilities or people of color were treated before you dial it back. (Or maybe that’s your template.)

     I understand conservatives want to conserve their beliefs and thoughts and that is a difference between us because I am open to changing as I become more educated and gain understanding. And I know I have made some cheap jokes at your expense here but it’s my blog. But in the context of trying to understand what conservatives conserve, I could be more respectful if there was any validity to your intolerance of people who don’t share your political view, religion, sexual identity, socio-economic status, race, national origin or skin color. I could respect you more if you didn’t think you owned the words “liberty” and ”freedom” because neither is granted at the expense of mine, according to the Constitution. You don’t own that either or get to use just the parts you like, kind of like you use the Christian bible.

     There just seems to be a lot of rage, hatred and bigotry from conservatives about most “others,” including but not limited to citizens of color, brown-skinned immigrants, LGBT citizens, Muslims, Jews, atheists, women, urban areas, environmentalists (or c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t-s) and vegans. And even if you don’t see it or deny it, there are a whole lot of racist remarks about President Obama. There is a level of disrespect to the office that is breath-taking and an absolute denial or outright lies about his record. Like John Fugelsang said about the conservative news’ channel, Fox so-called News: “Not racist but number one with racists.” If your bigotry is real, just own it because holding onto your beliefs, antiquated or not, is part of your brand.

     I know the hot social issues for conservatives get a lot of media attention and ballot initiatives. Monopoly guyBut while your conservative politicians and the super rich donors have been tipping the tax and corporate laws in their very lucrative favor, they’ve been playing the rest of you who are fired up by your one issue, whether it’s women’s reproduction, guns, marriage or immigration. The people funding the conservative politicians don’t care about your well-being, they just can’t win a democratic election without you.

     But we liberals care and because “liberal” also implies liberating, I’d like to offer you liberation from your corporate overlords. I’d like to liberate everyone from the shackles of international corporatists, students from college debt, absolutely everyone from hiding their true selves, money from D.C., the tax burden from the working people subsidizing multinational corporations, and liberate our taxes to build roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and parks, and liberate everyone from the lack of food, shelter, education, medical care, clean air and water.

 

 

C Is For the Other “C Word;” Conservatives #atozchallenge

Recently there have been a couple scientific studies on the behavioral and biological differences between the people who align themselves as political conservatives or liberals (using US terminology). Both the University of Nebraska study and the U.C. Berkeley study pretty much confirm the classic definition for both. Liberals tended to filter new information through current conditions, formed new opinions and reacted less emotionally to change, which aligns with its classic definition. Conservatives tended to have stronger, negative reactions to perceived change and preferred static conditions, which also fits the classic definition. For me, as a liberal, I like to just think of conservatives the way Peter Griffin from The Family Guy put it while riding and elephant in a parade: “Hey, Lois, look. The two symbols of the Republican party: an elephant and a big fat white guy who’s threatened by change “

     The definitions for liberal and progressive are the same as our stand. We believe in progress, moving forward with society as it evolves with laws that protect us fairly and equalDiversitySigny, that a smarter, wealthier and healthier greater good is best achieved by including everyone, by collectively helping those who need it and tolerating unpopular as well as popular differences.

     So, conservatives, what do you conserve?

     The best I can figure is you conserve what the greediest among the 1% wealthiest have gained in the past 34 years, since Ronald Reagan tipped the scales toward them and the rest of us got trickled down upon. If you are within that tiny group of the greediest of the 1% wealthiest and call yourself a conservative, I understand why. But to the rest of you, what do you conserve? You don’t conserve raw materials, which is what “c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t” means. Your motto is. “Drill those fossil fuels, baby, drill.” You don’t conserve money because the combined debt under the last three conservative Republican presidents is higher than the combined dept of every administration prior to Ronald Reagan. Your don’t want to fund road or bridge maintenance so you don’t want to conserve infrastructure. You oppose Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, tariffs, organized labor and the minimum wage so you don’t want conserve the economic and physical safety of babies, children, sick, working or retired people. (Notice how the Frank Luntz two-term buzz phrase of “compassionate conservative” has become but a quaint footnote.)

      Many conservatives in Congress and presidential candidates say they want to take our country back. Is that historically back before most of our laws were established, back from this president because he is illegitimate to you or back from me and people like me? Because we disagree on most things and this is my country, too. Taking back implies you have an ownership or it’s a football game, neither of which is the case. Going back also implies the use of a time machine. If you have one, please use it and leave the rest of us to the country we have. No taksies backsies, either. But I am a helper so if you think 1960 is the place you’d like to go, watch a couple episodes of Mad Men and see how women, persons with disabilities or people of color were treated before you dial it back. (Or maybe that’s your template.)

     I understand conservatives want to conserve their beliefs and thoughts and that is a difference between us because I am open to changing as I become more educated and gain understanding. And I know I have made some cheap jokes at your expense here but it’s my blog. But in the context of trying to understand what conservatives conserve, I could be more respectful if there was any validity to your intolerance of people who don’t share your political view, religion, sexual identity, socio-economic status, race, national origin or skin color. I could respect you more if you didn’t think you owned the words “liberty” and ”freedom” because neither is granted at the expense of mine, according to the Constitution. You don’t own that either or get to use just the parts you like, kind of like you use the Christian bible.

We the People

     There just seems to be a lot of rage, hatred and bigotry from conservatives about most “others,” including but not limited to citizens of color, brown-skinned immigrants, LGBT citizens, Muslims, Jews, atheists, women, urban areas, environmentalists (or c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-o-n-i-s-t-s) and vegans. And even if you don’t see it or deny it, there are a whole lot of racist remarks about President Obama. There is a level of disrespect to the office that is breath-taking and an absolute denial or outright lies about his record. Like John Fugelsang said about the conservative news’ channel, Fox so-called News: “Not racist but number one with racists.” If your bigotry is real, just own it because holding onto your beliefs, antiquated or not, is part of your brand.

     I know the hot social issues for conservatives get a lot of media attention and ballot initiatives. But while your conservative politicians and the super rich donors have been tipping the tax and corporate laws in their very lucrative favor, they’ve been Monopoly guyplaying the rest of you who are fired up by your one issue, whether it’s women’s reproduction, guns, marriage or immigration. The people funding the conservative politicians don’t care about your well-being, they just can’t win a democratic election without you.

     But we liberals care and because “liberal” also implies liberating, I’d like to offer you liberation from your corporate overlords. I’d like to liberate everyone from the shackles of international corporatists, students from college debt, absolutely everyone from hiding their true selves, money from D.C., the tax burden from the working people subsidizing multinational corporations, and liberate our taxes to build roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and parks, and liberate everyone from the lack of food, shelter, education, medical care, clean air and water.