Monday, February 04, 2019

Oh, Fer Cryin' Out Loud ...

Republicans have taken up a new battle cry, that Bernie Sanders was screwed out of the election in '16 by the DNC. This apparently is being used as proof of how corrupt Democrats are, to which I will offer the following rebuttal.

Well, duh.

What is interesting is that GOP bleating about Bernie ramps up a notch every time new information about how crooked, devious, corrupt, and generally evil the current administration is. Almost as if they were trying to deflect attention  away from something ...

But that's not the point of this, so anybody looking to get their knickers in a twist ... well, settle down. I'll get to it.

Gallons -- tanker loads -- of ink has been spilled, from both left and right, talking about the polarization in our politics of late. And these people are correct. However, there is another aspect to this unsavory business that isn't getting as much attention, and that is this scorched-earth approach taken by many commentators, from top-tier folks such as Andrew Sullivan, Ana Navaro, Robert Reich, et al on down to random Twitter screechers from their respective shriek factories.

It's getting to the point that folks are getting nervous about saying anything because any error, any deviation from the norm, is immediately weaponized and hammered back at them relentlessly. Even innocent typos are being thrown back in peoples' faces as proof that they are somehow "less than."

It's absurd. It's not only counter-productive, it's non-productive. It does not open the door for debate; rather, it forces everyone into a defensive crouch in their respective corners.

It doesn't have to be this way, though. Recently, one of the conservative members in a Facebook group in which I participate semi-regularly posted a thought experiment about offering health-care professionals a way to get their medical education paid for in exchange for public service. Usually this would elicit the following responses:

  • Since it was a conservative who posted it, liberals would immediately start shouting about how it's all going to the 1% and trump is an ignorant dolt and all conservatives are mindless bigots (in fairness, if the original poster had been a liberal the shrieking would have been about how all liberals are idiots and full of hate and have no understanding of how the world really works).
  • Conservatives would respond by shouting about how the liberals were being intolerant and refusing to be objective.
  • One or two people might make a token stab at bring things back around to a "reasoned debate" level, but would fail miserably because of the endorphins produced by shitting on peoples' heads.
  • At some point the topic would shift from the health care debate to Russian election interference and whether it really happened or is just a fever dream of liberals, and trump/Pelosi/Schumer/McConnell being completely amoral hacks, and on and on and on ...

However, in this instance, what transpired was shocking. Stunning, even. Instead of the usual shriekery, name-calling, diversion, digression, personal attacks, and general demagoguery, I saw:

  • One commenter saying that the proposal was flawed in that it wasn't offering a high enough salary for the medics. Not in an accusatory way, but in an "hey, this is a good idea, but it needs this tweak" manner.
  • Another suggested that we could used the National Guard as a model for this, using a volunteer force that serves on a periodic basis instead of asking people to make a full-time commitment that would last years (possibly decades).
  • A third pointed out that, while this was a good idea, it was going to be a drop in the bucket unless we got price-gouging from Big Pharma under control.

And many more ... the thread went on for hours like this. And what was even more surprising is that, when someone did state something in error, instead of the folks on the other side using it as ammunition to try to destroy that person, they were instead politely corrected ... and the debate moved forward.

It was beautiful. And what we ended up with was multifold: on the concrete side, an eminently sensible and workable way to bring down health care costs, and a "softer" accomplishment of making everyone in the group feel like they had been given a respectful hearing ... even if, ultimately, their suggestion was not adopted.

Look, unless we stop with the back-stabbing, punching, kicking, eye-gouging, unless we quit trying to turn peoples' own words into weapons to be used against them, we will make absolutely no progress in this country. Sure, in 2020 we may get rid of trump, but in this sort of polarized atmosphere all this means is that we'll get another one. It could be another Republican, it could be a Democrat, conservative or liberal. It doesn't matter ... we will end up with yet another full-of-shit demagogue, and our country will teeter ever more precipitously on the brink of democratic ruin.

So, people. Instead of yelling at each other, talk to each other. Neither side has a monopoly on the truth. Both sides are as guilty as the other of obfuscating facts, engaging in spin, and being apologists for their standard bearer (whoever he or she might be at that particular moment). The thing is, despite these flaws, there are good ideas on both sides as to how to (to borrow a phrase) make America great again.

And no, this does NOT mean I support trump.

I gotta lie down.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

My Farewell

Well, it's finally happened. The end of my life approaches ... not with a bang, but with a cough, wheeze, and whimper.

For those of you who don't yet know, I have contracted HTVPFMDFFH (Highly Toxic and Very Probably Fatal Martian Death Flu From Hell1). The prognosis is not good ... I will probably be dead within days.

Once that day comes, I have a few simple requests:

  • My wife is going to need all the help and comfort she can get. I ask that this assistance arrive primarily in the form of small, unmarked, non-sequentially numbered bills.
  • When planning the state funeral, please be aware that I do NOT want any R&B acts like Rihanna performing. I prefer J. D. McPherson.
  • I do not want to lie in state in the Capitol Building; I am more than content to be memorialized with a national holiday and a bridge or two.
  • Flags only need be flown at half-staff for a few months.

So it's been real, kids. I'll catch you on the flipside.

I gotta lie down.

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1My wife says it's "just a cold," but then again she isn't a doctor and has absolutely zero training in dealing with HTVPFMDFFH, so what does she know?

Friday, January 04, 2019

Let's Do This

I will never lie to you.

This rather ordinary-looking fellow in the rather fuzzy photograph (taken at my wedding on a cell phone) is me. Dave Naples, aka the Blowhard Pundit. For a couple of years now I have been venting my spleen on the internet, throwing shade at various and sundry failings of our government and our society. These have run the gamut from issues as trivial and unimportant as "how annoying is this new trend of just dropping ads in the middle of videos in much the same way my dog drops a deuce in the backyard" to such things as trump's emboldening of white supremacists, the failure of Congress to do their friggin' jobs and hold him in check already, and the fact that our nation has, for all intents and purposes, been completely taken over by corporate interests.

While there is a certain visceral satisfaction to making conservative heads explode by forcing them to deal openly with the cognitive dissonance of championing smaller government and states' rights while simultaneously advocating for a suspension of First Amendment rights (screaming about kneeling football players) and doing everything short of crowning trump king in their efforts to shield him from being held accountable for his own dumbassery, I got to a point where I just couldn't deal with the unprecedented levels of stupid. And so I came to a decision: I was going to check out.

Which I did. For about a month, with the exception of eulogizing John McCain. And I gotta be honest ... it was kinda nice to step away. I didn't have to deal with idiot conservatives screeching about "Make America Great Again." I didn't have to deal with semi-intelligent conservatives whose main method of "debate" is to wait until the other guy makes a mistake -- no matter how trivial -- then attempt to weaponize that mistake and use it against them for the next 18,000 years. I didn't have to deal with intelligent conservatives who were able to muster good, logically sound, internally consistent arguments in favor of policies that were just so horrible they weren't worth arguing about. I was able to watch every episode of every series of Star Trek (including the animated series) as well as every Star Trek movie ever made (well , except for the last two ... I'm waiting until they emerge from behind the paywall).

I also didn't have to deal with liberal brainstems who demanded that I agree with whatever idiot thing they came up with, then getting angry when I asked simple things like "Why?" and "Who are you, again?"

The problem is, me checking out doesn't help anyone else1, and quite frankly we need all the help we can get at this point. I had considered other means -- volunteering for local candidates, writing op-eds, and so on, but the problem with all of these avenues is that they simply perpetuate a broken system. So I have reached a decision.

I am running for President in 2020.

I am running as a Democrat.

I am running as an unabashed, unashamed, profane, proud liberal.

Right off the bat, this is going to be dismissed as a vanity project, as nothing more than a way for me to get some attention2. To some extent this is true; I have no illusions about my chances of actually getting elected. But, believe it or not, I am using donald trump as my inspiration: if a backward, intellectually incurious, bigoted, shallow, narcissistic, angry, mean, narrow-minded, arrogant, unintelligent sociopath can be elected President, then why not a big goofy-looking middle-aged dad from Pennsylvania?

For the past two years, we have had to put up with with a serial fabricator in the Oval Office, someone who thinks we are the only nation that allows birthright citizenship (to be fair, we are the only country in North America that isn't Canada or Mexico that does), or that three million people voted illegally in 2016 (they didn't), or that Mexico is going to pay for a wall spanning thousands of miles to stem the flood of illegal immigration across our southern border (they won't, and mainly because it's a stupid idea but also because we have had net zero immigration across that border for years), and who routinely conjures up various wild distractions to divert attention away from the real damage he and his cronies in Congress are doing.

I could go on and on listing the various ways in which trump has fallen down on the job, worked against the interests of the country to line his own pockets, etc. etc. None of that is news. Everybody knows it already. What I will do, however, is to make a very solemn promise to you.

I will never lie to you.

Sure, in the future I will be laying out policy objectives, detailing my plans to address the issues of the day -- everything from economic inequality to the water in Flint, Michigan, to the Middle East, to climate change -- but for now I am merely introducing myself and telling you that, regardless of the issue, I will not lie.

I will not prevaricate.

I will not spin.

I will not fabricate.

The American people deserve a President they can trust. They need someone they can take at face value, without having to parse the President's words looking for hidden meanings. Above all, they need someone who isn't in it to line his own pockets, who doesn't view the United States treasury as his personal ATM, and who thinks the Constitution actually has some validity.

I gotta lie down.

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1I know of several people in a certain Facebook group who would disagree with this statement, and who would maintain that me going away is actually quite beneficial and I only need to give it more time to see the salutary effects. Those people are wrong.

2If nothing else, slogging through the bureaucracy to get on the ballot everywhere is a mind-numbing exercise in tedium, and I am more than happy to accept a volunteer who wants to handle that for me. Just sayin'.

Oh, Fer Cryin' Out Loud ...

Republicans have taken up a new battle cry, that Bernie Sanders was screwed out of the election in '16 by the DNC. This apparently i...