Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Palin’

As I emerge from my post-election funk, the blood slowly returning to my face, I survey the damage done to the world by Fox News and half a nation gone nuts, and ask the only appropriate question… “WTF?”

We’ve elected to the Senate a guy who publicly condemns the Civil Rights Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act; we have put in Congress a passel of people who believe that Obama–the centrist’s centrist–is actually a covert Muslim/Communist bent on world domination, and we’ve emboldened an Alaskan female, secular version of Elmer Gantry into thinking she has a chance at becoming president.

So what on earth is there to be thankful for?

Culture Wars

If you believe, as I do, that the culture war is the 500-pound aardvark in the room–the reason that ostensibly sane voters would elect utterly unqualified people to lead the country, the reason for the Tea Party’s successes, and the reason for the strange disconnect between Americans’ self-interest and their votes, then raise a glass this Thanksgiving for Generation Y,  AKA the “Millennials.”

On almost all the culture war/wedge issues, the current crop of Americans under 30 are trending far more progressive than X-ers or Boomers did when they were pups. When it comes to reproductive choice, acceptance of homosexuality, role of government, the environment and race–this group is turning out to be Pat Buchanan’s worst nightmare.

Nowhere are this generations’ progressive leanings more evident than in its acceptance of homosexuality. According to the 2010 Pew survey, Religion Among the Millennials, 61% believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, compared to 51% of Americans aged 30-49; 48% of ages 50-64 and 35% of those over 65. Though every modern generation of young Americans has increasingly turned its back on bigotry, the Millennials seem to be running from it at light speed.

Staying Power

With this group, the old, “sure, they’re liberal now, but wait until they get older” bromide doesn’t wash. Hard data and the nature of today’s young adulthood suggest that this group’s rejection of socially conservative politics is different than that of earlier generations, and is more likely to last. Additionally, their desire for more government services suggests their progressive leanings may not be limited to social issues.

According to the L.A. Times’ “Walking Away From Church,” young people are leaving their churches at five times that of previous generations, and the number-one stated reason for leaving is the conservative political orientation of their church. It’s not that they are running out to dance with the Devil, mind you–Millennials tend to hold on to their Christian faith–they just can’t stand the us vs. them poison spewing from the pulpit and from older parishioners.

This phenomenon is not lost on the Christian press. Drew Dyck writes in Christianity Today, “…the life-phase argument may no longer pertain. Young adulthood is not what it used to be. For one, it’s much longer. Marriage, career, children—the primary sociological forces that drive adults back to religious commitment—are now delayed until the late 20s, even into the 30s. Returning to the fold after a two- or three-year hiatus is one thing. Coming back after more than a decade is considerably more unlikely.” Though Dyck is probably correct about losing young people for good, he misses the fact that Millennials’ commitment to religion is still very much alive. They’re just taking it away from what they see as non-Christian influences.

Young Americans to the Rescue

So this Thanksgiving, think of your turkey’s  wishbone as the letter “Y” and give thanks for the Millennials. Yes, four years with our new ultra-right House of Representatives will be difficult to stomach, but remember there’s a whole new crop of young folk out there who have refused to drink the conservative Koolaid and will soon be flexing their political muscle. Like a lethal gene diminishing within a family line, the old, intolerant, Calvinistic mentality seems to be heading for well-deserved extinction.

Who knows, after a few years of seeing this new Congress in action, the Millennials might even become politically active (be still my heart). But for now, I’ll be grateful for their votes.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­It seems Republicans have decided the U.S. Constitution isn’t so great after all. It’s been bothering them a lot these days, and they’re betting the farm this November that you don’t like it much either.

Evidently, their ongoing call to muddy the First Amendment’s protection of political speech with a flag-burning amendment, their 2006 habeas corpus slight of hand (Article 1, Clause 2), and their ongoing attempt to chip away at the wall dividing religion and government with demands for prayer in public schools, official designation of America as a Christian nation and the overturning of Roe v Wade on religious grounds were just warm-ups for the frontal attack on the Constitution Republicans are now waging.

Fourteenth Amendment

The GOP’s “We Don’t Need no Stinkin’ Constitution Month” began with House Minority Leader Boehner’s call to hold a hearing on the possible repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment and its guarantee of birthright citizenship. Talk about throwing the “Anchor Babies” out with the bathwater! The Fourteenth also contains some rather important protections, like our guarantee of equal justice under the law–the basis for the historic Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, and sure to be the foundation for future rulings on same-sex marriage.

First Amendment

It’s the First Amendment, however, that always seems to be the thorn in the GOP’s side. The amendment that protects dissent, the press and freedom of religion just doesn’t seem to work well with traditional Republican ideas, like “You’re either with us or with the terrorists,” the “liberal” press as enemy, and the current Republican opposition to the building of a New York City mosque and community center. Their opposition to the mosque, of course, begs the question, which part of the Constitution’s “…prohibiting the free exercise of religion” do Republicans not understand?  They do understand it, of course, but who cares about the founding principles of our nation when there are people to scare and votes to be had? Tragically, with the help of Fox News, Republicans have managed to whip half of the country into a lather about this non-issue, enlisting them as accomplices in undermining one of America’s most cherished tenets.

Palin to the Rescue

Republicans did have one defender of the Constitution this month: Sarah Palin. In response to the sad saga of Laura “N-word” Schlessinger, Palin tweeted Dr. Laura: “don’t retreat…reload! Steps aside bc (because) her 1st amend. rights ceased 2 exist thx 2 activists trying 2silence. isn’t american, not fair”

Someone ought to tweet Palin back: “b4 u run 4 pres. sb (somebody) shd tell u 1st amend. rights only apply 2 restriction on government.  activists cn (cannot) give or take them aw (away)”

The GOP assault on the Constitution is the clearest sign yet that Republicans are in the throes of a power lust unprecedented in modern American politics.  While 14% real unemployment continues to cause untold misery to millions, a stubborn recession teeters on the brink of full-blown depression, and our education system graduates half of its high school students, the Grand Old Party sits smugly on its hands, hoping the country’s ills will be blamed on Obama and the “Democrat” Party [see “How the ‘Democrat’ Party Lost its “ic”]. Too bad about those American tears in the meantime.

Check out ‘Ten Biggest Republican Lies #2: The Party of “Family Values”’

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Hey Chuck –

Both of your recent forwards read like companion pieces. The New Yorker column shows us how nuts we’ve become, and the Houston Chronicle piece suggests a way—albeit a dangerous way– to sort us all out (I mean, Palin could win, then we’d all have to move to a commune in Norway).

Both are terrific reads.  The Surowiecki piece is terrifyingly accurate, though I think he’s a bit too forgiving of our countrymen.  “The anger is understandable,” he says, but what I find hard to understand is Americans’ refusal to invest even the least bit of intellectual effort to go past the soundbites and slogans to get a better fix on what’s really going on.  I can’t remember who said this, but his perfect answer to “I’m not really into politics ” was, “Oh yeah?  Well, politics is really into you, my friend.”

No wonder we don’t make sense; we don’t have any.  There is a long list of things pundits tend to blame for “The Dumbing Down of America”–TV, bad schools, busy schedules, blah, blah–but the real culprit here is a populace that is content to have reduced its political outlook to three categories: “Things That Save me Money,”  “Things That Piss Me Off” and “Things I Don’t Understand”–with the third category being the dominant influence on the first two. That’s why Tea Party types can call Obama a Nazi and a communist, and not get laughed out of the room.

However, there was an encouraging turn in the mid-2000s (for a discouragingly short period) when people became politicized during Bush’s reign.  He had scared the hell out of them. They began to look up terms like “fascism” and “unitary executive.” Friends who had never had a political thought in their lives began emailing me with their takes on the latest outrages of Bush and crew.  Sadly, many of these political tyros had zero grounding in modern American or world history so they were easy pickings for lunatic, politics-as-entertainment theories, like Bush planned 9/11, etc.  Their enthusiasm continued all the way up to Obama’s election, but then sort of petered out when, I suppose, the next season of American Idol began.  But other political novitiates really began to do their homework, making a real effort to wade through the crap to find out what was actually going on.  I still get email from them–sensible, thoughtful stuff.

There has always been a trace of anti-intellectualism flowing through our American veins, which I suppose began during our revolution against the sesquipedalian, be-wigged, English elite.  But, today, dumb seems to have grown into a movement, or at least an important part of what Surowiecki calls “the new populism.”

Though education does require effort, it is also naturally rewarding.  Evolution has hardwired us to fill our brains with new stuff– unless something gets in the way, like defeatism, hopelessness and good, old apathy.  A documentary called “The American Ruling Class”  suggests much of that hopelessness and defeatism felt by so many “average American Joes” is the result of a concerted effort by the American oligarchy to regain control of the nation from the grassroots movements of the 60s.  I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but so many of this film’s premises–from the successful corporate attack on organized labor in the private sector, to the continuing, destructive status of corporations-as-citizens are convincing enough to make me believe that a lot of the mess we find ourselves wallowing in is no accident.

I better go before this letter gets long.

Too late,

RB

My determination to find out why and when Republicans decided to lop off the “ic” from “Democratic” and begin referring to the loyal opposition as the “Democrat Party” led me to discover the minutes of a secret strategy session held by the Republican elite a few days after the party’s dramatic defeat at the polls in 2008.

Strangely, the minutes were written in verse.

A meeting was held in the town of DC
The Party’s elite were invited
There was Palin and Cheney and Sean Hannity
Their leader Rush Limbaugh presided
Rush called to the crowd, “We’re in trouble, my friends
We’re shrinking with each day that passes
We need new ideas for two thousand ten
Or the Dems will again kick our asses
We can’t argue issues – they win at that game
And just saying ‘no’ has grown old
Drowning them out makes us look quite insane
We need something clever and bold”
“How ‘bout a catchy new phrase?” Palin said
“That says what we’re really about
Like, ‘If you’re not worth millions you oughta be dead!'”
“Sarah, sit down!” yelled the crowd.

So they thought and they thought ‘til their heads throbbed with pain
You see, thinking – for them – was exotic
Then a pudgy guy called out, “Karl Rove is my name
And by George the Second, I’ve got it!”
He ran down the aisle like a man on a mission
And snatched the mic from Limbaugh’s hand
The people fell silent – when Rove speaks, they listen
He smiled a big smile then began
“That name, ‘Democratic’ is simply unfair!
It gives such an edge to our rival
As a name, sure it’s only a noun – fair and square  –
But the voters think it’s adjectival
It makes them sound more democratic than us
A typical liberal plot
The fact that they’re commies is hidden because
Their name makes them sound like they’re not

Well, I’ve got a plan that will end all of that
And recharge the great GOP
We’ll change ‘Democratic’ to just ‘Democrat’
We’ll chop off their ‘ic’ at the ‘T’”
The crowd was ecstatic, and shouted “Hooray”
“You’ve done it again, Mr. Rove
You’ve given to us a sure-fire way
To get back the voters in droves”
Yes, that’s how the “ic” was removed from our name
Believe it or not, you still hear it
It seems everyone to the right of McCain
Is completely insane, or darned near it
They’re down to just one out of five voters now
Soon it will be one of seven
And those who remain will be in Idaho
Storing food for Armageddon

So, when you hear “Democrat” Party these days
Please try to restrain your laughter
It’s just a Republican’s final hooray
On the way to his party’s hereafter

When not playing footsie with men in next stalls
Or at presidential talks, yelling
They campaign with tea-bagging Neanderthals
Who don’t like black folk…or good spelling
They ran Sarah Palin, they outed Ms. Plame
They green-lighted torture to our lasting shame
Compared to all that, the mere change of our name
Is not something to go to war on

We’ll just put our “ic” back where it’s always been
And hope for their sake that this childishness ends
Then as a gift to our Republican friends
We’ll shorten “Moronic” to “Moron.”
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