The Republicans Need a Huckster



If you’re peddling junk, you need a huckster. If you have a rival with a better product you also need a smear campaign. This explains what America has been getting from the Republican Party for the past 6 years at least, and what is on offer in this 2016 election.

Republicans have been desperately trying to recycle old policies that don’t work and that aren’t good for America. Their “clients” are wealthy people who want to make the future-America conform to their idea of the “perfect” society, a society that lets them lead a nouveau aristocratic existence with plenty of grateful peons to do their bidding.

They keep trying to sell “small government”. Small government is not some pure fundamentalist vision for recapturing the original America that our forefathers described in the Constitution. Small government is a way to free up tax dollars that we now use to help the less fortunate among us; tax dollars we spend on welfare, food stamps, school lunches, health care, seniors, education, and many other social welfare programs.

Republicans could then use those “freed up” tax dollars to fund a bigger army, navy and air force, to produce newer nukes, to pay for fossil fuel fracking and pipeline operations. Then the whole wide world would fear America and we would be the most powerful nation in the world in perpetuity.

They would also be able to cut taxes on their wealthy “clients” so that they can turn America into a manufacturing giant once again without pesky environmental rules to make production more expensive, without switching to new energy sources. The money would supposedly trickle down to their factory workers in the salaries they would be paid. Corporations are paying about $2/hr. to workers in Asia and Mexico and elsewhere right now. What will American salaries look like if our factories come back right now? If the head huckster applies so many tax penalties on corporations that they are forced to bring the factories back do you think they won’t come up with ways to get even?

Republicans pretend that they can turn back the clock. They pretend that if there is climate change it is not caused by men and cannot be reversed by men, so, they reason, it is fine to continue pumping fossil fuel waste and CO2 into our atmosphere. We can send those guys back into the coal mines.

Small government means that states will no longer be subject to “helicopter” governing by the Federal government. People can take off those seat belts that have saved so many lives; they can throw out the car seats that keep so many children safe in cars.

States will be able to control education within their boundaries. They can require school prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and that schools teach Creationism. Republicans say they believe that when these things were erased from schools the moral fiber of our nation began to rot, families fell apart, and crime escalated out of control. If we can just get these religious family values back in our schools moral slippage will miraculously be reversed.

The GOP has absolutely convinced many Americans that immigrants who came to this country illegally have stolen their jobs and their tax dollars and have made Americas who were born here or who came legally poorer. Our minds feel righteous anger when anyone has committed a crime. These people “stole” a little piece of America. They sit on that piece illegally and they must pay for their crime.

The problem is that there are 11 million of these folks, or more. The fact is that our immigration system is so unregulated that these people could come here without documentation and stay here and make a life here. It is our fault that our system cannot find a way to stick to both our democratic ideals and check documentation of our citizens and our immigrants to separate those here legally from those here illegally.

It violates the rights of citizens to ask them to carry documents to prove their citizenship and to show those documents at various checkpoints in order to catch those who have no documents. Can you imagine having to show your papers every time you left one state and entered another, or got on an airplane or a train? We see visions of a Nazi state in this. It’s a tough one to solve and walls will not do it.

Republicans constantly smear the Democrats. All may be fair in love and politics, but this time they have turned the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, the first female candidate for the Presidency, into a monster. She has been made the apotheosis of all that is evil. She cheats, she lies, she topples governments, she is (and this is stressed as the worst of all her sins) dishonest and untrustworthy. Not many actual examples of her lack of character have actually been proven, but the whispers are still out there and almost impossible to disprove. And if you say anything often enough people repeat it as if it is true because (circular reasoning) everyone says it.

I could go on and on but I will not even speak about what the Republicans are letting their con man try to sell us about foreign policy and trade agreements and NATO and every other topic that matters to America, however, my point is that the Republicans have not offered us any policies that will be helpful to America over the past six years and they are not offering anything valuable now. Which is why they must smear Hillary Clinton and all Democrats – which is why they had to get a huckster to sell their snake oil to America.

Charlotte Perspectives and Figure Ground Experiments


Sometimes it is brought home to me so clearly that we really do live in more than one America right now. It is as if we are all looking at one of those old Psych 101 lessons where we are shown a diagram and asked what we see. Maybe it’s the one where you see either the Grecian urns or the profiles of two people. Some people see the “figure” first, some the “ground”. My psychology class never talked about which view was preferable as an indication of mental health, or intelligence, or personality. The demonstration simply shows that we don’t all see the same thing when we look at something as static as a still picture. Obviously this changes even more when we are looking at complex human interactions in the real world.

But if I take my Facebook page as a little microcosm of America, which it is not, because it is only family and old friends, I can see how most of my peers see and interpret the news of the day. Today the situation we see differently is the shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. These folks that I love with all my heart do not see any other side but the side of the police. They see these black folks as criminals and they honestly believe that the lives of these policemen were in jeopardy. They have no empathy for the dead. They don’t question the actions of the police. Their reverence for our police officers is laudable. Law and order gives us a society that allows people to worry about creating positive outcomes in their personal lives rather than fighting to survive. Here is what I saw on my Facebook page today:



I look at what happened to Keith Scott in Charlotte and I am filled with grief and I despair that we will ever recover from what I see as our bias and our fear. I know that we have a Second Amendment right to bear guns but I also see how the belief that everyone has a gun changes policing. I worry that there are people who hate black folks and who are also police officers, that they are killing black folks on purpose under cover of their badge. I cannot help but suspect that as soon as one of these bad arrests begins that I will soon hear someone say, loudly and clearly, that the “person of interest” has a gun. The problem is that I do not always believe that the person does have a gun. I think guns are being planted. The only way I will ever know whether this is true or not is if we see unedited video of the entire arrest. How will that ever happen? Maybe a camera in a drone could follow each police car or hover over officers on a beat. I don’t know the answer but we sure need one, because what is happening is awful. It is not one isolated incident. It is happening over and over.

I do not understand how the people I grew up with could watch and hear the video that Mrs. Scott made as her husband, who had done nothing, was being apprehended and then killed and only see this from the point of view of the police officers. I cannot imagine having to stand with a cell phone taping the death of my husband, but that is the thing that Americans of African Descent are being told by their peers to do, to make a video record that can fact check the video accounts that are eventually released by the police. (In the case of North Carolina a law will go into effect on Oct. 1 that will no longer allow the public to see these videos. Why are we spending tax dollars on body cams if the public will never be allowed to see what the camera saw?)

This was just one of the saddest things I have ever seen. This woman had to stay very calm and she had to stay off to the side because if she didn’t she could very well end up dead also. Why don’t my near and dear peeps see this side of things also? Must we blindly admire everything our police officers do in order to deserve their protection? It is a difficult job, but we are not supposed to turn a blind eye to any injustice in a free society. How would we ever be able to recognize and rebuff a police state if all we are allowed to feel is total admiration, to never be critical? We know very well that all policemen and policewomen are not perfect. We know there is always the possibility of corruption and cynicism in people who associate so closely with desperate or bad people. A free society requires that we speak up when things do not seem right.

People who are shown figure-ground experiments and who subsequently are able to see both images are never again fooled by that particular stimulus. If people don’t see both sides of this issue it is, apparently, a sign that we live too much in our own bubbles; that we have come to see black folks as others (and perhaps they see us as others also). These terrible injustices could not happen over and over again if there was not still racism at work in 21st century America. Separation may be responsible. So are our perspectives.

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst – Book


Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst is a modern story, a story of today’s America and beyond. The Hammonds fall in love and marry and have a child. They name her Matilda Grace (Tillie). As time goes by, as their child grows older, they realize her brain may be wired differently (my words). She is a very bright child, but she has obsessions. Right now she is obsessed with massive monuments like that Buddha that was destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. She is also fascinated with inappropriate language, swear words. This may or may not be Tourette’s syndrome, but it sounds more willful than automatic. She has serious meltdowns over situations that seem small, insignificant, and unpredictable. No school has been able to keep her for long in spite of mainstreaming laws.

Iris Victoria, the second child, born two years after Tillie, does not have any of these issues but, of course, Tillie’s eccentricities affect Iris’s life in many ways. Family members take turns being the narrator of this story but often Iris is giving the running commentary of these key moments in the Hammond’s life when they follow Scott Bean, a seeming visionary in the treatment of children who don’t fit within the parameters of acceptable behavior in their neighborhoods or their schools. Josh and Alexandra love both of their daughters. They wend their way through modern theories which blame problems like autism or Asperger’s on things like junk food, or pollution. Alexandra says about her pregnancy, “You’ll struggle to remember details that seemed inconsequential at the time: Did you drink tap water? Did you eat any fish that might have contained high levels of mercury?”

Alexandra tells a tale that is familiar to every parent with a “special” child. She and her husband consult doctors. They consult the internet. They get an alphabet soup of diagnoses. They talk to other parents. They talk to schools every time Tillie does something a bit too violent to tolerate. They do not know what school they will enroll her in next. That is when Alexandra sees one of those flyers with the tear off telephone numbers on the bottom posted by a man named Scott Bean who seems to have insights into how to help these children. She checks him out on the internet and he seems quite legitimate. Finally the family buys into a camp that Bean is setting up for families whose children seem to be modern medical mysteries. He calls the place Camp Harmony.

This is a novel, but it straddles a line somewhere between fiction and nonfiction. Any family who has been through trying to raise a child who does not conform to the developmental expectations of our culture will probably recognize the trajectory of the Hammond’s experiences. They will nod in affirmation at the discussions of possible environmental factors that could be causing these “disorders” to occur more frequently. They will feel quite familiar with the emotional stages these parents go through, with their quest to find a “treatment” that will give their child more positive experiences out in the world. They will try medicines hoping to find one that brings their child’s behavior back within the parameters of normalcy. Will they try something as desperate as the Hammonds who sell everything and move to Camp Harmony? How did that work out anyway? Well, of course, that I cannot tell you. Carolyn Parkhurst”s novel, Harmony, for me, does not make the cut as literature, but as a cautionary tale to folks in modern societies who find themselves in a similar situation it is well done.

The Deplorables, the Republicans, and the Media



The Deplorables, The Republicans and the Media

I will eventually get to the “deplorables” but you must be patient while I make all the connections I need to make in order to make my points believable. Bear with me while I fill in the backstory. Even though it sounds overly familiar, follow along with it one more time. Recent events have their roots in the past, as is usually true with all human endeavors.

Strange Bedfellow Reprise

I once painted a word picture of a bed full of strange bedfellows with the hardworking average Americans on one side of the bed with their corporate bosses who either still employ them or who have abandoned them on the other side and as the pillow that separates these two normally adversarial groups is the Republican Party.

Nestled in with those hardworking average Americans are some right wing fringe groups of Americans, the militia folks who turned out to start a war over Cliven Bundy, and yes the haters, the misogynists, the xenophobes, the homophobes, the anti-Semitics, the racists, those who never accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and even perhaps downright fascists and neo-Nazis. I made it seem to be mystifying that these folks were in the same bed but it really isn’t all that surprising.


Republican Media and the Strange Bedfellows

The ideological glue that holds these people so unnaturally together is what the GOP has been sending out over the radio waves (the radio!) in those Talk Radio shows of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and others for more than a decade. Republicans certainly knew their audience. They did not aim for Big Business, they colluded with Big Business. Their party was dwindling in influence and size. They needed voters. So the GOP through their media began saying the things that they knew would resonate with truckers on long distance trips, displaced workers tuning-in in garages or in their cars.

They began to say that America was being ruined, that America was being downgraded to a second-rate nation; that our leaders were knuckling under to China and at the mercy of Islamic terrorists. They took little or no responsibility for our factories relocating to the East. They took no responsibility for helping to pass laws that took away penalties, or at least did not levy penalties on companies who took their factories elsewhere where there was cheaper labor and lot of fresh consumers.

They blamed the Democrats for trade deals and high taxes and too many regulations, for being in cahoots with demanding labor unions, and for environmental regulations, although many of these measures had appealed to our officials on both sides of the aisle. They seduced their listeners by speaking back to them the things that they said when they gathered together. For the most part this was guy stuff, although now husbands have brought their wives along with them and many single women who lost employment have also joined the movement.

Once Fox News went on TV and said in living color, in a format that looked exactly like news (but wasn’t) what the Talk Radio people had been whispering in American ears in black and white, the GOP realized that they had hit on a formula that could well put them back in the White House. When they added in the Patriot talk, the veneration of the flag, and took to the airwaves as the sole protectors of our veterans American was theirs, at least the white, immigrated in the 19th century, bunch.

I watched them grow their influence and it did look like the waves of grain that symbolize the American heartland (another word they latched onto with everyone sending each other little hearts on Facebook.) They hypnotized America, they brainwashed America and they turned workers who had no work into pod people. They occupied their brains and promised them exactly what they wanted. They said they would get their jobs back and they made sure that everyone could own a gun just in case they could no longer trust their government.

That is how people who did not wear suits ended up in that bed with all the suits.


How Republican Media called out to the Deplorables

The Republican Party has been using their own media to demonize Democrats. Media once tried to go for a balanced approach that sort of gave credence to the policies advocated by either side. The Republicans created a deliberately partisan media that spouted anti-Democrat messaging 24 hours a day. It is probably why the new idiom “24/7” was invented.

The GOP made the Democratic Party the party of immigrants so they could blame job loss on immigrants, especially immigrants who did not enter America through legal channels. They told workers who had to take jobs that paid far less than their old jobs that their tax dollars were being given to these illegal immigrants. Their tax dollars were being given to people who had never held a job or never would, and they painted those people’s skins as black. That is how they fed into and strengthened an image of the freeloading “other” that already existed.

Too bad the intelligence we have about terrorists is not as good as the intelligence the Republicans have about the American middle class. Of course the Republicans are the party that created the NSA with the Patriot Acts. When a black man became our President that was truly serendipity. Implying that he was not a true American, that he was not a Christian, that he belonged to a church that spewed hate about white folks in America – bonanza!

Are all of the white Americans who have been wooed and won by nonstop propaganda deplorable? I don’t think so. Are there deplorable individuals who climbed aboard the GOP train because the rhetoric resonated with their own narrow-minded beliefs? Absolutely. Are there quite of few of them? Sadly it seems that there might be. Do people who are not deplorable hold to some deplorable ideas? I would have to say that that is true.


Is the tribalism that defines the American social landscape deplorable? Will it lead us to anything positive if we are at each other’s throats? Can you make a better future when people are so invested in their own mindset that they want to lash out at anyone who thinks differently? Will dividing America into tribes who defend their territory, separating us all with hate and bile, eventually produce an America that links arms and unites to produce a more peaceful world in which we all can live? How can dividing into separate camps ever lead to unity, tolerance, and the creative spirit we need to meet the challenges of our tiny planet hurtling through space.

The Republicans have exploited our differences and exaggerated our differences in order to gin up votes because they want, they desire, they must control all three branches of our government. They must truly believe that they can restore America to a former glory that has never really been lost. Although we may be in a down cycle right now and recent developments abroad have given us more competition we are still a great nation and a world leader.

The Republicans profess their policies in almost biblical tones. They are trained to repeat talking points, to talk over their opponents, to obliterate foes with data even if the data is made up. They must think that “trickle-down economics” and cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations on business and investment, privatizing everything and building our military while cutting the size of federal government, that all of these strategies are the Holy Grail to reproducing the America that used to be so powerful and so productive.

But the GOP did not trust the American people to understand how successful their policies might be because so many of us do not agree that these policies will improve America. They still had to use propaganda to win. If you have right on your side why would you create this whole matrix of mesmerizing mind games?


Will Donald Trump and his band of Deplorables Make America Great Again?

Now the GOP is the party of Donald Trump who is the pied piper of the “deplorables”, regardless of how shocked the Republicans act about what Hillary said. In the future qualities like xenophobia, racism, and misogyny will not help us create the global society, which is evolving whether we like it or not. These feelings are backward and really don’t belong in a nation that espouses equality. They will only produce a more primitive American, not a futuristic America. The fact that these people have found a home in the Republican Party with Donald Trump at its helm is the best reason of all to elect Democrats in 2016. We need to fight these feelings in ourselves not give them free rein.


Time for Single Payer Health Care


It’s time for Single Payer Health Care. Obamacare has had some great moments. Many people who could never afford insurance now have it. People with preexisting conditions, once excluded from health insurance to assist them with their health expenses, now have coverage.

Obamacare has also been hard on some people in the middle class. You do not have to be in the upper middle class to be faced with these hardships. Retired couples are being faced with huge yearly fees for their health care and high deductibles and high copays.

Someone on my Facebook feed, someone who worked all her life, with a husband who worked all his life said that they have to pay $6000/ year and that this does not cover office visits and tests. This couple is not poor, but neither are they wealthy. Whatever they have was earned through hard work and smart financial management. So they have a house, not a McMansion, they have a camp, not exactly a Hamptons Beach house, and they have a small boat. They have grandchildren and a dog and they live modestly, not flamboyantly. This is just one story but I have heard it over and over again from family and friends.

Obama dealt fairly with the insurance companies as far as I can determine. He did not go for Single Payer Insurance. He got the health insurance companies to accept some compromises and he designed a plan that featured a private/public partnership. But insurance providers like Aetna and United Healthcare are no longer happy with the compromises they negotiated and they are backing out of the deal. They say that their stockholders are not pleased, or their profits are too low, or even that they are losing money. If the insurance companies back out Obamacare is basically dead it seems to me.

America accrued some important benefits from Obamacare that are not health related. Lots of people who work for private health insurance providers kept their jobs and I do mean lots of people. If the insurance companies vacate the deal that allows Obamacare to function then Obamacare will eventually go away and lots of Republicans will open champagne.

But there will be a backlash. All of those who were once uninsured and who have had pretty good insurance for a while will not, I think, quietly accept having it snatched away. Although the insurance companies may believe they can go back to their old ways of doing business I do not think that will fly. What other option will we have to try except a Single Payer Health Care Plan for which there is already a considerable drum beat? People who are paying giant fees for their insurance may be quite willing to pay higher taxes to allow the federal government to back such a plan, perhaps modeled on that in England or in Canada.


Single payer may also be the only plan that will offer enough public leverage against the pharmaceutical companies to bring down the prices of the meds we use. And a single payer program will offer lots of jobs. Those who lose their jobs with private health insurers (and there will be many) will be most prepared to take the new jobs, although they might have to accept lower wages. Doctors, health professionals and hospitals, clinics, etc., already living with the lower wages offered through Medicare will find that their wages will be lower across the board. That could make for some pretty unhappy health care providers. Will they move to China? Probably not. Will the quality of our health care go down? That is a possibility. Some single payer systems seem to involve longer wait times.

There is plenty for both the insurance providers and the insured to think about here. A for profit health model seems unsuited to maintaining health or treating those whose health is challenged because the model is too focused on profits to do tasks that are basically humanitarian in nature at affordable rates. And yet the people who are somewhat overburdened right now in terms of paying more for health care than they should have to pay may not be willing both to pay higher taxes and get less quality through a Single Payer Health Care system.

Who’s More Racist?/Dems Broke Our Inner Cities?


The Recent ‘Who’s More Racist’ Meme

Donald Trump, a man who is running to be President of the United States, can apparently say any racist thing he wants and still pretend to have the interests of those he maligns at heart. Our jaws are constantly dropping because nothing sticks to this guy. The media, cold one day, critical and willing to announce that this is a man who should never be our President turns around on the next day and conducts campaign business as usual. They interview him, play videos of his statements, broadcast round-tables full of media commentators from both major political persuasions and by doing so normalize his campaign once again, all of their hyperbolic complaints set aside to be revisited on another jaw-dropping day.

It is obvious that the press has no idea what to do in an unprecedented situation such as the election of 2016, although they have no trouble beating up on Hillary Clinton every day. I guess because she is not holding press conferences, where they can beat her up in front of a camera crew to be stored on video for all eternity, they are driven to destroy her in absentia. Hillary is being made famous by the Donald for making one tone deaf statement about African American young people in the 1990’s, which does sound bad and brings forth a wince when repeated in 2016, but is still only one statement no matter how many times it is repeated. Meanwhile Trump has hired a roster of advisors who don’t mind rubbing shoulders with White Supremacists or even members of the Ku Klux Klan, or who are prominent White Nationalists. And yet it seems we are supposed to be deciding who’s more racist?

His new campaign advisor has perhaps pointed out to Donald Trump that he cannot win the Presidential election unless he embraces at least one minority group. It looks like Americans of African Descent are the chosen ones because he just burned his bridges with Hispanics and probably Latinos also. Donald Trump, a man who knows next to nothing about history is now trying to rewrite American history for an electorate that also either knows and cares little about history, or has been entertained for the last decade by the twisted versions of American history as told by Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

The Discovery of the Bigoted Democrats of the 60’s by the Republican Right Wing

These same media right wing guys have been so excited since they learned about the Democratic Dixiecrats — a group of Democrats who were virulently anti-integration in the South both before and after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the President at the time was Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat). It delights these grown men to crow about all of the segregationists with their whiter than white skin and their thick Southern accents who were members of the Democratic Party during the Civil Rights Movement. It is proof, they craftily contend, that Democrats are racists. Except that the Democrats were so inhospitable to Strom Thurmond, et al that the Southern wing of the Democratic Party (those very Dixiecrats) eventually left the Democrats and joined the Republicans where they found a better fit, and the Republicans became the party of Southern accents and perpetual bitterness at their loss in the Civil War, kept alive by the Confederate flags flown throughout the South, and on many a Republican truck bumper.


The Democrats Broke the Inner Cities (or Did They)?

Now Donald Trump has his people blaming Democrats for the fact that not much has changed in our inner cities. He is saying that 50 years of Democratic programs have done nothing to ameliorate poverty or to bring prosperity to Americans of African Descent. Sadly, in the absence of data, that does seem to be the case. There is some data available but Donald Trump is not a data miner. It is also true that Democratic programs have never been consistently funded and have been modified whenever Republicans had the votes. These programs have been under constant attack from the right who have made several very familiar arguments against such programs.

1) Giving people government support makes them dependent on that support and they will like the free money so much that they will never want to leave that support system or do anything to become self-supporting members of our society, so the very support government gives, turns people into the perpetually poor and dependent.

2) A strong central government is anti-American and will lead to authoritarianism or Communism; furthermore it is against the intentions of our forefathers as written in the US Constitution which gives more rights to the individual states than to the central government. This section of our Constitution is actually very brief and open to interpretation, so much so in fact, that our founding fathers wrote the Federalist papers to try to reach a consensus interpretation, which I believe they were unable to do.

Neither of these arguments represents more than a point of view. There is no proof that all people will see government assistance as a comfortable hammock in which to while away their lives or that having a very small federal government will insure our continuing freedom as a nation.

It does seem clear that societies without any support for those who are poor suffer more social chaos and economic inconvenience and health and hygiene challenges than those societies who do prop up their poorest citizens with at least minimal dietary and health initiatives, and that things improve even more when education, training, and work are offered also. We know these things because we have documented histories from societies that did not offer these thing to those who were at the bottom of the social and economic heap. (England, for example)

Do Republicans Have a Better Plan?
So when we have someone like Rudy Giuliani claiming that Democrats have failed Americans of African Descent for the past 50 years – after I get over my outrage at such a statement

[Would it have been better to have done nothing?

[Would tough love and state’s rights have produced better results?]

– it becomes important to look back over the past 50 years to see if Democrats really are the culprits who we should blame for the seeming stasis in our inner cities and if it is truly time to give Republicans a go.

However, I warn you, almost the only thing that the Republicans have to go on is that tricky time we already discussed when Civil Rights hung in the balance, when half of the Democratic Party (the Southern half) was a 60’s version of Dino’s or Democrats In Name Only, men so bigoted that the Democratic Party eventually could not contain them. It is the tale of those very Dixiecrats who eventually fled to the open arms of a Republican Party, a party which has obstructed social programs vehemently ever since (whenever they could get away with it and still get elected to public office) that is providing Donald Trump with his opportunity to “zap” Democrats.

Throughout the Obama years we have heard their spokesman, Paul Ryan, hailed by the party until recently as a truth teller, repeat the wisdom he gleaned from multiple readings of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand — that we are destroying the character of the poor by propping them up and that the poor are takers who will demand more and more from the middle class until they too join the ranks of the poor – the story of the takers and the makers. It has been a compelling story, but is it true?

It seems to me that we lose more as a society by not helping poorer citizens than we do by helping them. The jury is still out on determining what positive and negative effects the past 50 years of programs offered to the poorest Americans have had. If the same families whose grandparents were poor are still as poor as that previous generation, then why is that the case? Is it the failure of the programs, or the failure of the modifications to the programs, or some other factors altogether that are responsible for the lack of change, of growth? Whatever the reasons I do not believe that the Republicans have mentioned any approaches that will help inner city communities in any way.

My Conclusions

Neither party is blameless when it comes to the stubborn stasis in our inner cities and so when Donald blames this on the Democrats he is being disingenuous and the most obvious reason is because it is politically expedient to do so. He has no insider knowledge that will help us unravel this stubborn problem and the Republicans sink or swim approach is a way to deny any blame for the current state of affairs and wash their hands of dedicating any more tax dollars to improving the situation. At this juncture I would say that actually going into our cities and asking residents what they believe would help the most and what their particular needs are seems as if it would be a great start.

Some of the Information and Historical Evidence I Reviewed

In order to refresh my own memory about the history of this argument about which party is more racist and which party has “broken” our inner cities I researched a number of topics.  First I looked at the roots of welfare which are older than you might think.

Welfare and Social Security programs began during the Great Depression with the New Deal of FDR and, says Wikipedia, ended when Bill Clinton (Democrat) faced with a majority Republican Congress passed the Welfare to Work bill in 1996.

If is instructive to watch some of the video record saved on You Tube and elsewhere on the internet. When you hear the question “which party is more racist” and then you watch the evidence you are likely to be confused. Some of these men were saying racist things as members of the Democratic Party because they were from the South and they were vehemently opposed to integration. But this view was not typical of the Democratic Party overall. Lyndon B. Johnson, prime mover of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was also a Democrat. Eventually these immovable Southern men had to take their anger and hate and huffily leave the Democratic Party. When they did that they found their new home with the Republicans. So when you listen to Strom Thurmond and Bull Connor and George Wallace talk on these videos they are Democrats. But not for long.

strom thurmondbig

The Confederate Flag

Bull Connor and Civil Rights

George Wallacebig

George Wallace

Segregation forever –

And even the Republican hero President, Ronald Reagan, appears very different when seen from a more liberal point of view:

Bill Maher on Ronald Reagan on Ronald Reagan

Rachel Maddow on Reaganomics and how it hollowed out the middle class

Black folks and Reagan

Republicans may also try to convince you that the War on Drugs belongs to Democrats but the War on Drugs began in 1914 and has been a fairly consistent policy in the US since that time. It is true that Americans of color have been pursued and incarcerated at a much higher rate than white Americans or even than guilty Americans, but Democrats alone are hardly to blame in this regard.

War on Drugs

Actually began in 1914 – A Democrat and a member of the House of
Representatives named Harrison proposed the first bill in Congress which passed

Nixon (Republican) used the name War on Drugs

Drug Czar appointed under George H W Bush and raised to cabinet level status by Bill Clinton

Drug free media campaign act of 1998

Sentencing disparities have been well documented

Nixon creates War on Drugs

Stop and frisk

Lately we have also been made aware of how real estate practices like redlining (used by Donald Trump to avoid renting apartments to people of color) also made it difficult for some minority citizens to leave inner cities.




The Red Line -Syria Then and Now

the red line big2


What I said then:

What is it with men? Do women draw “red lines”? I have never heard a woman draw such a line, a line in the sand, a line on the playground; a line which everyone understands means “cross this line and there are consequences”, physical consequences, unpleasant consequences (well maybe women do that with their offspring and their partners). Netanyahu drew a red line about nukes and Iran. This red line has not been crossed yet but Israel lives in the hood and is used to lobbing bombs at neighboring aggressors. Obama also drew a red line that implied America would punish Assad in Syria if he used chemical weapons against his own people. Is this a testosterone thing? But in the case of Assad, a totalitarian monster who will fight in the face of millions of refugees (his own people), and who will make them flee their own country; a little thing like a “red line” won’t stop a man like this. It acts like a red cape acts on a bull. But the red line has been drawn, the gauntlet has been laid down, and Assad has challenged Obama to a duel. Dueling has been illegal for a long, long time. A red line can be redrawn. That is one option. Just redraw the damn line. It doesn’t really matter if we look weak because we aren’t weak. It shows wisdom to be able to back down from a position when someone is baiting a trap, baiting a trap with dead children. How does a decent man beat a monster? He uses his brain, not his muscle.

What I say now:

Obama has been criticized again and again for not enforcing that red line. The Republicans have told America that the fact that we did not do something, some unknown ninja move, proves that Obama is weak and because he is our President it makes America look weak. It invites other nations to challenge us to see how wimpy we will be. But, realistically, short of war, what were Obama’s choices? Our soldiers were still traumatized by too many tours of duty in a row in Iraq. Americans had no taste for sending our guys into Syria to fight Assad. Assad’s government was and is backed by the power of Putin in Russia. Going to war with Assad could have been interpreted as an act of aggression against Russia, although I doubt that Putin wants an all-out war with America right now. Obama’s deal with Putin to make sure that Assad’s chemical weapons were destroyed was probably the best deal we could get at the time. Congress was busting Obama’s chops for being too involved in places like Egypt and Libya. He could not have pleased the GOP no matter what he decided to do. News sources are suggesting that not all of Assad’s chemical weapons were destroyed and that he may, in these late summer days of 2016 be using them again. I still like my suggestion from the days immediately after the red line was crossed.


What I said then:

If you can remember back far enough to remember the movie Dangerous Liaisons then I think we could find a way to register our deep, deep disapproval without lobbing bombs at a leader who is just waiting to have us lob bombs at him. (What if all hell breaks loose?) If you remember, in the movie, an aging countess (Glenn Close) had learned to use men as pawns to give to herself the independence and the power to well live without a husband. She had affairs, as many as she wanted and she manipulated the guilt and the fear of exposure the men felt in such a way that when she ended the affair, they found they could not tell. She lived above gossip and although women knew she was not quite the thing, they had no proof and she was accepted by society. Until she fell in love.

She sent that young man (John Malkovitch) on his way too, but as the film opens we meet a woman who is now showing her age. She is still handsome, but not beautiful. When that young man she fell in love with comes back and implies that he is still interested, she plays her last and most dangerous game, which she loses, rather badly. She still thinks that she has kept her secrets and has enough social cachet to go on. When she appears at the opera and everyone boos her, her reaction is visceral and I’m sure that from that time forward her social isolation is complete.

Maybe we could all; in every city and town all around the world, play, over very large loudspeakers,  at a certain time, like midnight at the Prime Meridian on Monday, a sound track of people booing with all of the loudspeakers pointed in the direction of Syria. I wonder if the sound would carry all the way to Syria. Then everyone in the world could turn his/her back on Assad and send Assad into a social isolation that would put him out of commission for the rest of his life. Now that would be retribution and it would feel really fine. I don’t imagine words or even world-wide condemnation could affect someone like that. You know what; I don’t even think bombs will do it.

Syria4What I think now:

Obviously we are way past the days when social shunning will put even a dent in the entitled arrogant man with the heart of granite who leads Syria. Here is a man who lives in bubble of comfort and privilege and who will not abdicate power even though his “kingdom” has been reduced to rubble around him and his “subjects” have had to flee or die. Here is a man whose every little hair on his smarmy head is glued in place and whose wardrobe costs more than it would take to feed the starving children in the nation that is unlucky enough to be ruled by this egomaniac. But what will finally oust this guy from his palace? Will we declare war on Assad and let the repercussions in Russia fall where they may? What if this becomes World War III and this time Russia is not on our side? I don’t know anyone who really thinks that we shouldn’t tread carefully, harden our hearts against letting grief and empathy dictate policy.

What I said then:

I don’t really know what Obama should do on behalf of America anymore than it sounds like anyone else does, but this situation seems to call out for a creative and global strategy. People who do monstrous things often have very hard shells.

What I think now:

If some of you think you have the perfect answer publish it so we can all see it and consider it. If, as I believe is true, no one is sure about how to handle Syria beyond what we are already doing, then our only choices are to continue to give Syrian refugees room to catch their breath and raise their children and to continue the air assault on Syria, the one that is further complicated by the presence of ISIS.

This is the view from the cheap seats.

This article appeared in my blog at on 8/30/2013. You can also find in the the archives on this site. It was called What is it with men?