Archives For Politics

2014-03-27_14-59-31We all know that yelling “FIRE!!” in a theater is against the law and can cause a lot of harm. We are told even as children not to do that sort of thing.  Another area of this type are those that try to incite a riot by prodding and encouraging violence. That one isn’t quite as well published as the first.

The school yard bully gets a lot of attention these days. We, at least most of us, have little tolerance for him. But another type of threat that is perhaps just as bad is the instigator. You might know him by other names like provocateur, agitator. This is the guy who tries to get two people or groups who disagree on something to attack each other verbally or physically. He wants to see blood.

As I have mentioned before I am by my very nature a very non-violent person. I have only physically attacked one person in my life and that was when I was about six years old.  I think I gave my opponent a black eye but I am not sure. I can’t even remember what we fought over but I do remember the kid who instigated our brawl. I soon made up with my friend but never had much to do with the guy who caused us to fight.

Now to the core of this post. There are people out there that make millions of dollars as professional instigators. They try their best to incite a virtual riot. They egg people on to keep them on the edge of their emotions. They purposefully pit one group of people against another. The most visible of this type of bully is Rush Limbaugh and the Fox and MSNBC news channels.

These folks make millions of dollars every year screaming about the opposing party. They spend hours trying to dig up anything they can find to raise our ire. Sadly there are millions of people who have one of these outlets on throughout the day. They are thoroughly brainwashed with a very partisan message of their agitators. No, I don’t think brainwashed is too strong a word for this tactic.

I will admit that I was once at least to a small degree one of those folks who would tune them in. I got my daily dose of how those in a particular political party are nothing but hateful idiots who are set on destroying our freedoms.  When I finally reached “critical mass” on politics and decided to give it up almost entirely I did not realize the emotions these instigators caused me.

Now that I am limiting my exposure of politics to a brief morning glance at somewhat neutral websites and the PBS Newshour I have come to know a much more peaceful and satisfying lifestyle. Now don’t get me wrong here. I realize that there are folks in the political realm who have very different worldviews than I do. I will continue to oppose their tactics but without the vitriolity that comes along with these news sources.

 

Any Similarities???

March 10, 2014

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I can’t help it. I’m dabbing my toes into the political arena here. When I saw the picture on the left recently I was immediately struck by how similar these two guys appear. Except for one having a little more hair than the other they could be brothers.  And the effect they have on the country is almost identical. They both use fear as their prime motivator. They both are extreme narcissists who care very little for the good of their country. They seek personal attention above ABSOLUTELY everything else. They are two peas in the same pod. Now if only we could dispose of the one like we did the other the country would be better off….

Politics and Karma…

January 24, 2014

Part of the reason conservatives have historically opposed the growth of the welfare state is the belief that it grants people a sort of karmic exemption, allowing those who are lazy or irresponsible to draw resources from those who are more industrious (see Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment). Hence conservatives agree that the world would be a better place if we “let unsuccessful people fail.” That also includes unsuccessful countries (like Greece) and companies (like GM).

Liberals, by contrast, would prefer to live in a world governed by compassion. They are more likely to give people second and third chances.  For example, they are more likely to endorse this statement: “It is generally better to show mercy than to take revenge.”

The law of karma is not real. In free-market societies, hard work does pay off much better than laziness, yet cancer, unemployment, and other forms of bad luck can strike anyone. And cheaters, exploiters, and law-breakers do often prosper…

SOURCE: Your Politics and Your Personality: Take the Quiz | TIME.com.

I can see some truth to the thoughts above but I think the article paints with too broad a stroke?  It basically says conservatives align with karma and Liberals with compassion. That may be generally true but other factors certainly come into play in how we react so differently under the same conditions. I think fear is an even more dominant emotion in discerning this difference.

But the purpose of this post is to talk a little about the idea of karma.  Karma is actually believed to originate in India and is an integral part of Buddhism and Hinduism beliefs but generally the phrase has a different meaning in its western interpretation. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

Karma — The  Western interpretation

Many Western cultures have notions similar to karma, as demonstrated in the phrase what goes around comes around. Christian expressions similar to karma include reap what one sows (Galatians 6:7), violence begets violence and live by the sword, die by the sword.In Hinduism, God plays a role and is seen as a dispenser of its version of karma. The non-interventionist view is that of Jainism and Buddhism, the latter originally a non-theist religion. Generally, Western popular culture portrays karma as more of a supranatural mystical force than a perspective on causality. This is more similar to Hinduism’s concept of karma than Buddhism’s.

To state it as simply as possible I don’t put much credence in the idea of karma.  I don’t think there is some supranatural mystical force that I have little or no control over that drives me to be what I am. We are not destined to be a certain thing.  The other aspect of karma is living with the consequences of your actions. Of course we must live the with consequences but that does not mean that one mistake at some point in our lives should doom us to an eternity of grief and inhumanity.

Social scientists find many questions about values and lifestyle that have no obvious connection to politics can be used to predict a person’s ideology. Even a decision as trivial as which browser you’re using to read this article is imbued with clues about your personality. Are you on a Mac or PC? Did you use the default program that came with the computer or install a new one?

In the following interactive, we put together 12 questions that have a statistical correlation to a person’s political leanings, even if the questions themselves are seemingly apolitical. At the end of this (completely anonymous) quiz, we’ll use your responses to guess your politics.

SOURCE: Personality Quiz: Can TIME Guess Your Politics? | TIME.com.

Here is an interesting article that asks you twelve questions seemingly unrelated to politics but will attempt to guess your political leanings. You might want to try it out to see where you fit.

2014-01-09_10-40-47This article starts out a series of posts about what makes a person conservative or progressive. I know I have sworn off the vitriol politics of Washington but this is a different matter. It is widely acknowledged that our country is pretty much split down the middle by the conservative/progressive feelings.  I am currently in a study of trying to discover the different views of what it means to be in these two categories and how did each of us get into the mindset we are in.

Soon you will be seeing some more news articles about this topic here at RJsCorner. I am also reading a book entitled The Great Debate by Yuval Levin. Mr. Levin attempts to go back in history to try to discover where the sources of the conservative/progressive divide started in this country. He has decided that the debates between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine soon after our country’s founding is where the divide started.  In the forward to this book the author states up front that he is on the conservative side in the debate. I am just now starting this book and trying to keep an open mind about what he proposes but still have to be aware of the political leanings of the author. This will be an interesting study of why we might be so divided today.

2014-01-09_09-14-26Getting back to the topic about Time guessing your politics, My results of the questions are shown on the right. I came out as a moderate leaning slightly liberal. I really consider myself more liberal than conservative. My score leans that way but not as far as I imagine myself to be. But as always I suspect that this divide is more complicated than a single twelve question survey can cope with. More on this topic in coming posts.

Run Elizabeth, Run….

November 29, 2013

2013-11-20_09-04-16On the Senate floor Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren argued for the need to strengthen Social Security benefits, now that cuts to the program seem more likely.

“With tens of millions of people more financially stressed as they approach retirement, with more and more people left out of the private retirement security system, and with the economic security of our families unraveling, Social Security is rapidly becoming the only lifeline that millions of seniors have to keep their heads above water,” Warren said. “And yet, instead of taking on the retirement crisis, instead of strengthening Social Security, some in Washington are actually fighting to cut benefits.”

SOURCE:  Warren wants to strengthen Social Security, not cut it | MSNBC.

Maybe I am falling into the same trap as I did in 2007 but I don’t think so. I see the words and actions of Elizabeth Warren as inspiring. She seems to be very much aligned with my socially progressive but fiscally conservative views. She just seems to see the world as I do.

The last thirteen years have spun retirement reality 180 degrees and a lot of that had to do with ultra-poor decisions by your leaders in both government and private industry.  Greed seems to be the underlying factor in both cases.  I loved it when Elizabeth put those banking leader on the hot-seat before her senatorial committee. She grilled them unmercifully.  I think if she had been president in 2008 things would have been quite different.

Thirteen years ago the country was in a euphoric mood. The stock markets were booming. Retirement portfolios were bursting at the seams. Everyone was talking about early retirement. Yes, I understand that much of that time was built on a bubble but I think how we dealt with that bubble could have been ameliorated quite differently.

I think it is time for us to have a woman’s touch in the White House and even with the inherent fear of many as our “commander-in-chief”. Guys just don’t seem to put as much value of human life as women do and we certainly need that quality when deciding to put our young men and women in harm’s way.

I am keeping my eyes on Senator Warren during these intervening years till 2016. While Hillary would probably do a good job I kind of think Elizabeth might do it much better.

But I’m just simple “guy” so what do I know…

GOPBe forewarned that in this post I am attempting in some meager way to come to the defense of the Republican party that I seem to rail against so frequently.

It is a mistake to link the current right-wing ideologues to the conservative movement or even the Republican party in general. They are not the same. The core of the Tea Party is libertarian in nature and focused on shutting down all forms of government and to destroy the American safety net that has been in place for the last century or so.  The conservative movement, of which in some respects I am a member, is about waste and fraud and doing things economically without growing the debt.

Ideologues scream we are destroying their freedoms but never defined just what they mean by freedom. It seems they mean whatever takes money out of their pockets is taking away their freedom. As shown in the picture just to the right of this post they don’t believe they have any obligation to the society that sustains them. They think that somehow all the services they take for granted such as police/fire protection, good roads, infrastructure, safe food and work environments and a myriad of other things should not cost them any of their time or money. That is not at the core of the past Republican party that I once voted with.

The next couple of years are very important to the GOP. Will they continue to implode into a very narrow philosophy of “us vs. them” or will they start broadening their base and jettisoning the right wing-nuts currently dominating attention.

  • Will they go the way of the Whig party?
  • Will they finally ease up on their obsession with “below the belt” issues?
  • Will they jettison those in their party who see government as an evil instead of the people’s representatives doing the people business?
  • Will they jettison those who espouse white supremacy who joined them when they abandoned the Democrats in the 1950s and 60s due to the Civil Rights movement?
  • Will they quit their eternal obsession of fear and anger and instead move on to compassion and love?
  • Will they finally quit being “anti-women”, “anti-immigration”, anti-this and anti-that and instead start proposing solutions to  current problems
  • Will they finally come to celebrate the diversity of our population instead of scorning it?
  • Will they finally stifle those like Ted Cruze who have become their face and get back to being about focusing on fraud/abuse and fiscal responsibility?

A two party system such as our own depends on two healthy party to counter each other. In order to balance out the ever abundant spending of the Democratic party we need a countering party to emphasize sound fiscal policy. The current Republican party is a far cry from what it has been in the past and I hope the current trends are an anomaly instead of a shift in party direction. If it is not then maybe the GOP should go the way of the Whigs before them…

When the votes are tallied in Virginia’s race for governor on Tuesday, over 300,000 citizens will be missing from the voting rolls – including 20% of the state’s black population. The reason is not low turnout or voter ID, but a growing and often invisible barrier to voting that is upending elections around the country.

Over 5 million Americans are barred from voting because they have criminal records, according to a report this year from the Sentencing Project.

The crackdown on ballot access is so intense, a majority of states actually bar former convicts from voting even after they are released from prison.

SOURCE:  Presumed guilty: Ex-felons face barriers to voting rights | MSNBC.

Except for my fellow blogger Bob Lowry I probably know more felons than most who pen blog pages.  And for the most part these guys are no different from anyone else except for the fact that they made a stupid decision in their lives and paid for it by spending time behind bars.  Our society used to say you do the crime you do the time and then everything is square.

One of the most fundamental rights in a democracy is the right to vote. One person – one vote is critical to maintaining a democratic system.  Most, even in the GOP, recognize that the demographics are constantly being skewed away from the Republican party of mainly WASPS.  But instead of trying to broaden their message to include this new demographics many Republican dominated States are trying to maintain power by restricting the vote.  They figure they can hold off the tide for a number of years by keeping others outside their base from being able to vote. The main way to do that is by eliminating those who might vote against them.

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It is alarming to see that over 300,000 citizens in Virginia have been purged from the voting rolls because of having served time in its prison system.  Over 5 million have been purged nationally.  Of course studies have shown that when you restrict voting by this group you “tend to take more votes from Democrats than Republicans. If you look at the map of total exclusion it should come as no surprise that the majority of State who take away voting privileges are in the solid red category.

Prior to the Civil Rights period many of these same States had restrictions of African-Americans from voting. So voting restriction is not a new thing; it is just being taken to a new level by a political party desperate for holding power.

I just don’t think that many people actually are aware how fragile  a working democracy is.  While none of these current attacks on voting rights would probably result in crossing the line, when taken together do jeopardize our country.

Corporate Welfare….

November 12, 2013

Living Blue Header

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A Sign Of Things To Come???

November 5, 2013

2013-11-02_08-39-24Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wants his old job back. This time, he’s running as Democrat.

Crist filed paperwork on Friday, and plans to make the official announcement Monday in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Republican-turned-Democrat is considered a front-runner for the Democratic ticket. He would likely be up against current Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican. Scott represents a far more conservative version of the GOP than Crist ever did…..

“I’m an optimist but let’s face it, the last few years have been tough: government on the fringes, donors in politics above you the people,” said Crist in the video. “You’ve seen the attacks against full-time working people and their health care; against women and their doctors; against teachers, public schools and college affordability; And even against the simple act of casting your vote. It’s not working.”

SOURCE:  Charlie Crist running for Florida governor as a Democrat | MSNBC.

I have been following politics for a long time now. When the national conventions actually meant something I was a gavel-to-gavel viewer. I stayed up very late into the mornings to see who would eventually be the party nominee. I watched both the Republican and Democrat conventions with the same fervor. There was some pretty rough politicking going on but unlike today is was mostly civil.

One thing I have noticed is that politics as the State level is quite different from at the national level. And politics at the local level is down right weird :)   At the State and particularly at the local level the “sticking to principles” concept is played much more loosely. It is more about getting things done than beating the other guy.

So when Charlie Crist turned from a Republican to a Democrat I was not terribly surprised. He no longer fit into the mold of a Republican so he moved on to the next party.  I wonder if that will be the fate of more moderates, that is those who want to actually accomplish something.   Will they fight to take back control of their party from the present wing nuts or will they simply abandon it? For me, that question is still very much up in the air but I hope they fight to keep their brand.  We have lost too many once noble institutions already in this country. I really don’t relish losing another one.

Yes, I am a social progressive but I am also a fiscal conservative. As long as there is a balance between my political choices I freely switched back and forth depending on which candidate could best accomplish the compassionate balancing act between those two worlds.  It has been several years now since that balance has been near the center.  I pray that someday it will level out again.

But I am just a simple guy so what do I know…..