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Member since: Fri Mar 12, 2004, 10:06 PM
Number of posts: 22,174

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Perspective from a Jaded Old Democratic Feminist Person

I can see DU is all in a lather about the primaries, and I've seen it all before.

Philosophically, I am as "lefty" as left can get, but defined by "who you support" -- like a Tiger Beat FAN thing -- I can understand that you (especially if this is your first rodeo) might declare that I'm "third way" or "DINO" etc. I've heard it all before.

(For the record, I've also been called a Commie Pinko Feminizi Socialist Hippie Libtard, but enough bragging.)

The first vote I could make was for Jimmy Carter, but I wasn't great at picking winners. I was fierce about Mondale/Ferraro, I loved Michael Dukakis, and Paul Tsongas was my preference over Bill Clinton -- but I voted the straight Democratic ticket always, and doubt that will ever change.

I was dumbfounded that Reagan could win twice. I could not BELIEVE Bush II managed to get into office in 2000 over Al Gore, and 2004 is beyond explanation -- history will take a long look at that one.

That's the election that brought me to DU. I was a regular at MWO ("Media Whores Online") and a "Clarkie" who didn't dare join DU until he bowed out. We had a lot of primary candidates that year, and a big, nasty brouhaha happened here on DU arguing over the TRUE leftist liberal who'd take the fight to the rightwing vs. the pragmatic "electability" approach. Did I mention that it got nasty?

There was a lot to learn that year, and no way to unlearn it.

A few observations:

1. Democratic candidates, at least, are neither as perfect nor as horrible as they seem from any perspective.
2. The distance between policy positions of Democratic primary candidates are microscopic compared with their differences with Republicans.
3. It shouldn't be a game, but IT IS. The media is on the side of ratings, not truth. The RNC machinery feeds the media sensational "scandals" with tidbits that add up to "narratives," like "Al Gore is a serial liar" and "John Kerry faked his wounds."
4. In the primaries, you can count on the media to drum up drama for the same reason, happily echoing anything the rightwing drums up. The front runner is always AWFUL, and someone better is always right around the corner.
5. The front runner is the front runner for a variety of reasons, and will always be the target of the RNC as well as the other Democratic candidates. That can create bitter fights within the party, and I am so PROUD of Sanders and Clinton, as our front-runners, for staying focused on issues and not getting into the mud. This is the most civil primary season I can remember.
6. For the same reasons, the RNC will always attack the person they don't want to run against, and stay silent (or feign "Let's hope he/she doesn't get into the race!") in regard to anyone else. They propped up John Edwards to the bitter end, as an example.
7. We want to believe THIS candidate is really different; THIS one is starting a movement, a revolution, a grassroots campaign of the people that will change everything about politics as we know it!!! THIS one at last knows what has to be done, what we need to fight, how to win that fight, and how to get young people energized and engaged!!! I've seen it over and over again. Guess what. In Washington DC, where we have this messy mix of representatives with so many strings attached, it just doesn't happen. It can't, it won't, it's not where the battle is really fought. And I am as sorry as you are.
8. There is money in politics. Money and fear of death basically rule the world, and that won't change. All we have as a country, when you get right down to it, is a few people in black robes who are SUPPOSED to uphold basic principles above all else.
9. Pragmatism might seem like "compromise," which equals "going over to the dark side!" I understand that -- it feels really good to fight for your convictions with a strong commitment to what's right vs. what's wrong, imagining a clear line of battle. That's also the reason it's so easy to impugn the motives and characters of your fellow Democrats. Been there, done that. "THIS time" it's different, every time.
10. As I write this, it just seems I should have a "10." I will just share an opinion here about a dimension of this election nobody really wants to talk about -- after all, it's playing a "card," it's being a "victim," and it's very, VERY unfashionable. And that is the long history of Hillary Clinton as a woman.

I know, I know!! "The Clintons!!" I've heard it for so many years now, I'm too old to count them. (All together now: "The Clintons think there are different rules for them and everyone else.") It has become fashionable and "smart" to echo rightwing memes and malign her, accuse her, paint her as a greedy, dishonest, corporate shill warmongering beast. To the extent life in politics makes anyone a beast, okay -- she's earned a strong shell. And yeah, she wouldn't make the best talk-show host in the world. (Who among them would?)

She's not been my favorite person on the political scene, but I do know that she is smart, strong, hardworking and pragmatic. I have seen her fight back against rightwing attacks since she first appeared on their radar in Arkansas. She is smarter, feistier and more liberal (oh gasp!) than her husband, and she has had to harden her shell as she's fought back against bogus attacks, one after another -- How dare she have a career and accomplishments of her own? What does she have against baking cookies, against women who stay home? What's with her hair and outfits? And her annoying habit of having a mind, and speaking it!!

The nature of human psychology makes it easy from there to gather together, point at her and decide, "We don't like her." "She is a warmonger." "She is all about money." "She lies." Hating her is the smart, fashionable, popular thing to feel. It's easy to overlook how deep the social prejudice goes, so soon after her arrival as the dreaded "liberated woman" target in DC, and not so long beyond the time we got the vote.

(I can hear it now -- "I'm a woman and I hate her." "You're playing the 'sexist' victim card." "It's all about the issues." "He's just better." "Warmonger!" "Goldman-Sachs!") Spare me. It is simply easier to hate -- and I mean HATE -- women, and this woman in particular, because she's pushed against it for decades, on her merits alone.

I LOVE Bernie Sanders and I always have. I have no big disagreement with anything he says. There is no conflict, in my mind, between cheering him and supporting her. She too is breaking ground -- it's just harder to see that, mired in this political culture.

If you skimmed this to see which flag I'm waving, mine is just DEMOCRATIC. (I also walked to school, uphill both ways... Someday you'll see.)

Rightwingers suffering another freakout!!

Of COURSE the media is in hair-on-fire mode. It's what they do.

Of COURSE the low-information folks are hiding under their beds. It's what they do.

(In 2004 they were still in such a frightened stupor, they re-elected the shrub -- even though the regions that were actually attacked went for Kerry, remember? Facts be damned.)

So it only makes sense that they're freaking out about Ebola, suddenly whining that the much-maligned Big Government didn't ignore the Constitution, override states' rights, interfere with civil liberties and spend a whole lot more money on a level that would blanket ALL possibilities..

Once again, a frightening-yet-remote possibility has them in a tizzy while they remain complacent about things like:
- Eating junk food
- Smoking, drinking, prescription drugs
- Traveling in cars
- Gun violence/accidents

These are far more likely to kill them, and they're more within their own control. But some remote possibility they don't even understand has them hiding under their beds. (Especially when there's an "African" disease from an "African" guy and an "African" president and -- of course! -- the "African" nurse! Cue the Hitchcock horror music.)

They are just as sure that the Ebola virus is airborne as they are sure that global warming is fiction -- science be damned, in both cases. But why has no one (that I've heard, anyway) suggested that the nurses became infected BEFORE Mr. Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola!??

(Not to excuse any lax standards at the hospital in Texas, but just to say that the guy was seen twice while sick, before there was any diagnosis calling for nurses to cover their every inch of skin.)

Like HIV, the Ebola virus seems to require direct contact with body fluids -- such as a cut in the skin being met with vomit, feces or blood -- and here we have people freaking out that they might have been in the same airport with someone who was infected, and OMG that guy with the clipboard!!!

Let's just wait a few weeks and keep some perspective. Meanwhile, tell the askeeeeered right-wingers to get their guns and hide under their beds... (They're even afraid of FANS, for cryin' out loud!)

About Memorial Day...

This "holiday" is supposed to be a remembrance of the Americans who died in combat. Most, in our history, had no choice.

They were 19, 20, 21 ... Consider what we expect of people that age now. (Not much.)

Many who returned became our fathers and grandfathers, and it's worth remembering what they suffered, too -- watching people they'd become extraordinarily close to die in an instant; killing people themselves...

So who are we now, as a nation? What did they fight and die for -- the United Multinational Corporations of America? The Global Shareholders of the Worldwide Reserve? A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of MONEY?

You might be with me so far, but here's where I get all socialist nationalist radical.

I believe America needs:

1. So-called "indoctrination rituals" like the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs in every school, every day; plus a big deal pageant on "Flag Day" to remember what that symbol stands for. (Does that strike a dissonant chord?)
In any country, the flag and national anthem are symbols of unity. The more the GOP/multinational interests are intent on dividing us, the more it matters that we stand as ONE people, ONE country, with ONE flag, representing liberty and justice for all. (They hate that.)

2. Serious, comprehensive, respectful recognition of the labor that built America. Invoking "Our Founding Fathers" has become a catch-all cliché for the infallible, perfect design of America -- skipping over the people native to the continent who were doing just fine, thank you very much; and worse, ignoring the blood, sweat and tears of captured, enslaved Africans. There is a reason their communities are impoverished, and it's not because they're "lazy." Hate food stamps? Join the fight to make 40 hours a week = a living wage.

3. Conscription. Yes, it means a requirement to make some sacrifice for your country, serving a duty bigger than any one individual. It means having some skin in the game, no matter what your socioeconomic circumstances thanks to Mom and Dad. It means serving in the military or serving seniors or veterans or children or cancer patients or just picking up trash alongside people you'd never have met otherwise. It means having a small sense of the "entitlement" being American means -- a little perspective. A little gratitude. A little acknowledgement that there are no Fairies granting our luxuries.

For all those who went into battle, willing and not, from sheer sense of "duty"... these are small sacrifices.

Post your Republican GAME SHOW idea!!

After this week's fun, I'm sure the networks are looking for ways to make rightwing Republicans even MORE entertaining, and profitable. I'd watch!

A few game show ideas that come to mind:

- "Are Republicans Smarter than a 3rd Grader?"

- "Hilarity" - Republicans try to outsmart Hillary Clinton!

- "Please Proceed, Governor" - Republicans try to outsmart President Obama!

- "Wheel of Desperation" - GOP Contestants have 30 seconds to invent the next new 'scandal!'

- "BZZZZt -- You Lose!" - Watch Faux-Newzers come up with new excuses for the last election!

Post your own suggestions for exploiting Republican idiocy for entertainment value!

It's been a pretty good week!

Monday - President Obama gave a great "liberal" inauguration speech, freaking out the punditry.

Wednesday - Secretary of State Clinton took the Republicans in Congress to school, embarrassing them.

Thursday - John Kerry spoke at his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State, smacking down as necessary.

(Friday - A snow day in Maryland, finally!)

Yeah, I know there've been some downers too -- filibuster brick wall, new ways for GOP to steal elections, decision making Congressional "In/Out" gestures block appointments. But it's also worth enjoying moments like those we had this week, and remembering them.

Romney as President = Necessary Catastrophe.

How do Republicans, when in power, manage to destroy the economy and send the debt soaring, and most voters barely even notice?

Then a Democrat takes office, and suddenly people discover those problems and get outraged?

It's never been as stark as the presidential sequence of Bush-> Clinton -> Bush -> Obama. All the things they blame on Obama were set in motion under Bush (and Bush I and Reagan), and it's hard to stop a moving freight train, let alone reverse it. But it's recent history. Did so-called "conservatives" not NOTICE what was happening as recently as 2001-2008?

Apparently not. That's because they were busy being scared of terrorists, and indulging in the great Patriotic Stupor. If you said "economy," they said, "We can't think about that now! There won't be an economy at all if we're all destroyed!" That's why the Iraq invasion was ready to go even before 9/11. (It was the Cold War before that.)

There is only one way Romney could take office with an economic plan that doesn't add up -- the same way his Republican predecessors did: Scare the Bejeezus out of people, start a war, put the survival of the country itself on the line (or make it seem so), and distract. It won't take long before they'll be back to "Deficits don't matter."

The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the defense contractors get happy, multinational corporations get fatter, the debt gets bigger, people become get so freaked out they'll give up freedoms for security... and we all get a few steps closer to the REAL threats to America.

Five thoughts, One lesson.

1. Having a job matters. The debate showed the difference between being a full-time campaigner and a president. What else does Romney have to do? The man has no work. He had plenty of time to memorize a smooth pack of lies, vague defenses, and feigned empathy for the plight of the 47%. President Obama has been working at his job rather than the "retail" stuff, but he's got to take the time to hone his chops as a campaigner. Now that he's an incumbent under attack, he needs to fight back the way he did in the 2008 primaries.

2. The "liberal" feedback can help. If the more liberal side of the media (MSNBC) seems critical of Obama tonight, maybe it can be constructive in reining things in before they spill out of control. The campaign should listen carefully.

3. The jury is still out. Many of us want the president to be more aggressive in the next debate. On the other hand, although Kerry and Gore won all three of their debates handily in every way (as I saw it), the Chimperor got the bounce as "more likeable." The CNN tracking showed that Rmoney's favorability went down when he quoted percentages and technicalities about benefits for the wealthy. He was smirky and smarmy. So who knows -- wait for the poll results.

4. A change can do one good. Maybe David Plouffe (or whoever is Obama's main advisor now) is as great as, well, David Boies, Jeanne Shaheen, and other disappointments. There's time for corrections.

5. History is a great teacher. It's not enough to be right, to be honest, to be smarter, to have better policies. We learned that from Al Gore's campaign in 2000; we learned it again from John Kerry's campaign in 2004. We know Obama has long been a uniter, a bipartisan, a reacher-across-the-aisle. That worked in a race without an incumbent, but now that he is the incumbent, he must take on the rhetoric -- the LIES -- point by point. He can do that while staying dignified and laid back, and without falling into the trap of being "angry" (we know what they're after there).

The lesson: Never overestimate the intelligence of the American populous. Yes, many ARE stupid enough to believe anything. There's no other choice, Mr. President. Take the gloves off.

There's just one thing I don't understand...

Why now?

Why is the media suddenly responding to outrageous remarks from the GOP, and why are people in that party distancing themselves?

I've seen them call a war hero a traitor, a 4-star general anti-American, the President of the United States a terrorist infiltrator, just to name a few.

I've seen them exploit the tragedies of 9/11 as if it were their greatest accomplishment, equate Democrats with Al Qaeda, and use the deaths of American soldiers as political fodder.

I've seen a president make jokes about sending Americans to die in a war based on lies, or at best, sheer stupidity.

What Romney said was bad, no question -- but why are such egregious remarks noticed now, at long last?

What we've known for years about BushCo backing off Clinton/Gore's counter-terrorist efforts and ignoring warnings about 9/11 is now news in 2012?

The fact that the GOP will exploit ANYthing, accuse their opponents of ANYthing, and even risk national security, the American and world economy, and bloodshed here and abroad for power -- this is just getting noticed?

What Romney said is outrageous, but it's typical. (And no doubt the knuckle-draggers will add it to their litany of absurdities -- "Obama apologized to terrorists" -- just like "John Kerry lied about his injuries" and "Al Gore said he invented the internet" and "Bill Clinton was offered bin Laden's head on a silver platter and backed down," blah blah freakin' blah...)

Seriously -- why is this one actually resonating, when so many others didn't?

This Honda-lover bought a Ford.

Ford has been in the news for having lost sales in Europe.

I helped Ford a little bit here at home. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, here's the story.

I like little cars that sip gas, and have always been partial to Hondas. I have a 50-mile commute 2-3 times a week, and have owned a 1996 Honda for 12 years. Cars like that give you no excuse for buying a new one, but I wanted to give it to my daughter, so...

A Fit seemed perfect, or a used Prius or Civic; but Fits are virtually sold out, and prices at the used car lots equal -- and some cases at least, exceed -- new cars of the same model! (And the Prius interior didn't feel right; didn't like the Honda Insight, either.) I've always gone by the old adage that a new car depreciates by $3,000 as soon as you drive it out of the lot, but the equation is different right now.

I was thinking of waiting for the Chevy Spark (coming here in August)....

But I decided on a brand new Ford Fiesta. The European version has been very successful, and the Focus and Fusion have shown themselves to be reliable. It's great on gas; it's smoother and quieter than most other small cars; and it has this bluetooth "sync" feature I wasn't even expecting. I was hoping for a basic port or something for my iPod/iPhone, and this is a lot more.

Fits are flying off the lots here, so it seems Ford is working harder for business. Free car washes forever. Free oil changes forever. Engine warrantied forever.

Given my penchant for Hondas, people who know me are surprised I got a Ford. (Yes, I'll let everybody know if the transmission goes bad in a few years.) But I kind of like getting off the bandwagon. I know six people who have a Fit; I don't know anyone else with a Fiesta, and now I like being a cheerleader for Ford (even got a "Built Tough" Ford t-shirt!).

Yeah, I know all cars are somewhat "international" these days. But there is an "American car industry." There is a Detroit, Michigan. And there is something a bit priceless about driving my little Ford right now.

A short lesson in Religious Liberty for all you heathens out there.

1. Some people believe homosexuality is against God's will according to the Bible. Other people have a different belief. The first group should have the right to impose their belief on the second group. This preserves religious liberty.

2. Some people believe (despite facts) that America was founded as a "Christian nation" and therefore Christianity should be part of public laws and policies. Others, of various religious persuasions, believe in a founding principle to worship or not as one chooses. The first group should have the right to impose their belief on the second group. This preserves religious freedom.

3. Some people believe abortion is murder. Others believe abortion is not murder. Since this is a matter of faith and belief rather than science, the first group should be able to make their belief the law of the land. This is religious tolerance. It's so important to preserve our individual rights and keep the government out of our lives.

From these examples, you can extrapolate the meaning of "religious liberty," "religious tolerance," and "religious freedom" as they apply to Christian prayer in public institutions, Biblical monuments in public places, and the importance of Christian beliefs among political leaders.

Now then.

Some people, such as a huge majority of women, use or have used contraceptives; this is okay with their religious beliefs, so they think a healthcare law to make sure insurance companies cover it is fine.

OH MY GOD!! What if some people in some institutions don't believe the insurance company should cover it because they believe God said so, somewhere?!? I mean, a bishop has every right to make sure the church secretary is not having sex with contraception that she didn't pay for out of pocket!! This insurance company policy thing is a terrible, intolerant reach into religious freedom and liberty!!

You're welcome. I'm glad we've cleared this up.
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