Tag Archives: politics

And the next president is…

7 May

…no one you know. We’re still three years out from the next presidential election in America, but that doesn’t keep people from placing bets on it. However, I know that all of these are sucker bets.

Just for the record, you can’t bet legally in the US on political races. Lawmakers put that under the list of “bad things” that casinos can’t do, but the UK has no such scruples. The belief that voting odds can change elections is… not unprecedented.

Of course, the big question will be “Is Joe Biden running again?” The smart money says no, because he’ll be 81 and is already looking like he’s not sure where he is. So common belief is that he will step aside in favor of his VP, Kamala Harris. Despite all the hoopla that she gets for being the triple threat (black, Asian, and a woman), she’s not that impressive when she’s actually running. She didn’t even make it to Iowa. So despite the great step-up that gives her, she’d get trounced in the primaries.

The next question is… is Donald Trump running again. Despite his massive negative backlash, he’s still got a solid positive rating among Republicans. Compare to him to the list of “who cares” in the Republican primary and he wins easily. Whether he could win the big race depends on whose running against him. However, Trump himself will be 77 years old, and he’s starting to look his age. So I doubt he’s going to do it again.

Then this UK list hits names that are exciting, but doubtful. Nikki Haley is exciting, but front runners rarely win the primaries, because they appeal to a wide range of voters… not the diehards who vote in the primaries. Mike Pence appeals to Christian fundamentalists, but only in a “yeah, he was VP to Trump, right?” sort of way.

But the list gets more difficult to put your finger on. Ron DeSantis (governor of Florida) I believe could run, and he’s got a good track record, but he’s not very exciting. Alexandra Osasco-Cortez certainly has a huge Twitter presence, and shouts a lot, but I think she will fail in more conservative places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Then you get the first ladies–why on Earth would they run? They know what a presidential campaign is like. Then they list celebrities; again, they have enough money to run, but the second they announce, every single bad mistake in their lives will be scrutinized. I think Dwayne Johnson likes being everyone’s favorite uncle; why would he give that up? Jeff Bezos would have to give up his comfortable billionaire lifestyle to have people yell at him for being a rich bastard? Nah…

The ones at the end of the list are the most likely. Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, recently making a name for herself among Republicans. Tim Scott, senator from South Carolina, a black Republican who gave the response to the presidential address… very articulate. For the Dems, Pete Buttigieg, current Secretary of Transportation, might make another shot. He’s more experienced, gay, and Midwestern. Not quite the same triple threat as Kamala, but a lot more appealing on the stage.

But it’s just as likely at that point to be some governor or senator you’ve never heard of, which is why it’s foolish to speculate at this early in the process. But election pollsters have to eat just like the rest of us. What do you think? Is my analysis missing a critical point? Let me know in the comments below! Then vote with you wallet and buy one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too much for your vote, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’m Marcus Johnston and I approve this message. 🙂

Once We Win, Kill Our Allies

2 May

After winning any revolution, the new victors first step is to kill their allies. Not all of them, but enough that they don’t have to share the power with them all. If they can’t, this leads to civil war. This is also true in any election, though not as bloody.

What do I mean? Let’s start with the bloody examples first. In Germany, Hitler came to power on the backs of his party apparatus and his paramilitary, called the SA (Assualt Division) but better known as the Brown Shirts. It was the SA that beat up people at opposing political rallies, caused Kristallnacht, the destruction of so many Jewish businesses, and the Reichstag Fire, which finally gave Adolf his emergency powers. How did Hitler reward them? With the Night of the Long Knives; where he sent his more trusted goons (the SS) out to kill every single leader of the SA on charges of sodomy (which were true) and treason against the state, and then dismantled the SA entirely.

Why? Because Ernest Rohm was a threat to his leadership; an alternate charismatic leader with whom he didn’t want to share power. So he and hundreds of his followers had to go.

When you don’t do this, you get something like the Irish Civil War of 1922-3, where the former revolutionaries, united on the cause of Irish independence, suddenly couldn’t agree on the form that independence would take. Eamon De Valera and his Fianna Fail refused to accept the “limited sovereignty” that Michael Collins and his Fine Gael had negotiated from the British. So Eamon withdrew his support, and eventually, his followers (the second version of the Irish Republican Army) started fighting the Irish Free State. Collins was killed, De Valera was defeated, and Ireland… eventually became a republic anyway ten years later.

On the whole, it seemed like a pointless exercise–except it wasn’t. They winners couldn’t afford to let their allies get in the way of ruling. They didn’t want to, but egos get in the way, and… well, as James Madison once said, “If men were angels, there’d be no need for governments.”

On a less bloody version, voters often wonder why politicians go back on their campaign promises once they get into office. The truth is… because they can’t. They promise so many items that they can increase their voter bases, because something they say will have to appeal to you. However, once they get into office, they finally understand the limits of their rule. So when a politician gets elected, they can either a) conveniently ignore that promise, b) give lip service to that promise, or c) fulfill it to some degree, because that ally’s support is still useful.

So “killing your allies” in the modern sense is simply cutting them off from your support. Ted Wheeler, Mayor of Portland, was perfectly happy to let the Antifa protestors burn his city to the ground… until the election. After all, they were on his side, right? But once he was reelected, defeating the opposition (who said, “I am Antifa”), suddenly the protests weren’t as charming anymore. After the New Years’ Eve Riots, they are being put down a lot more harshly. He didn’t need them anymore AND he realized that they weren’t on his side. BLM is getting tired of Antifa at their rallies, the moderate Democrats are tired of the progressives, and the whole cycle of purging your allies begins all over again.

Of course, I could just be talking about speculation, not facts. What do you think? Are the parties more unified than I believe? Is there coalitions that stay functionally together after victory? Let me know in the comments below! Then vote with your pocketbook and get one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too steep for your vote, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I am Marcus Johnston and I approve this message.

“I didn’t change, the party changed!”

9 Apr

We’re in the midst of a party realignment–what it means to be Democrat or Republican in the 20’s is not what it was even ten years ago. How will this end? Well, we can see what happened in America when this happened at least twice before.

It’s a common fallacy that how things are today are how things have always been. America tends to be a two-party state, although it wasn’t designed that way, it’s a consequence of having single-member districts. When you can only elect one representative for one area, you need to have a large enough party organization to cover multiple district races in order to promote change. You have to convince enough voters that “we have the votes to get you what you want,” and that’s a lot easier if you can get a majority in the legislature.

In India, they’re able to do this by creating coalitions of like-minded parties. When they talk about the BJP gaining a majority, what they’re really saying is the BJP and its allies, which are regional groups that can enact change in their individual states. Britain has its Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, Sein Fein, and Unionist Party that all have seats in London… but only because they dominate their local legislatures. In America, Bernie Sanders is a Socialist senator because Vermont had a Socialist Party organization… it’s now divided into Progressive Party and Liberty Union Party, but Bernie’s been popular enough he can just call himself “independent.”

But in America, the Republicans weren’t there from the beginning–they only arose in 1850–in reaction to the rising anti-slavery movement. Many Northerners were disgusted by the Whig Party’s compromise in the expansion of slavery into the western territories. As a result, the Whigs divided into the new Republican camp, went back to the Democratic camp, or created a new party called Constitutional Union. The Whigs themselves were a compromise of people disgusted by Andrew Jackson’s domination of Democratic politics… which at the time, was the only political party.

When enough of the elected officials decide to break away from their party to form their own, it tends to be effective. Take the Progressive Party in 1912. Theodore Roosevelt, probably our most badass president, broke away from the Republican Party to create his own party because he (and others like him) needed to purify American politics. This involved radical ideas like equitable worker compensation, improved child labor laws, minimum wage legislation, a limited workweek, graduated income tax and allowing women the right to vote. Contrary to what you might believe, modern “progressives” have nothing in common with these pioneers. Minimum wage laws were there to protect white workers against the wave of cheap immigrant labor. Child labor ban meant employers couldn’t scam their regular workers out of jobs. Women’s votes came with the prohibition of alcohol.

In areas where one-party dominates, but doesn’t split off and form another party, candidates are labeled differently. They don’t dare let go of the party title, because only a godless heathen / racist pig would vote for the actual opposition party. In Chicago, it’s Machine Democrats and Reformist Democrats. In national politics, we talk about Progressive Democrats and Old-School Democrats, because Americans won’t vote for a Progressive Party candidate… after all, “they have no chance of winning.”

What happens to the splitters is what happened to the Progressive Party back in 1916… some of their ideas were absorbed in order to get the voters back into the party. For those who didn’t think they went far enough, they joined the Democrats, which is why the Democrats in the 1920’s stopped being the party of big business and became the party of organized labor. The Tea Party Republicans got absorbed into the Old School system. Nowadays, there’s a Liberty Caucus within the GOP that fights against the big business emphasis of the Old School.

So what will happen? The Democrats will absorb some of the progressive’s aims, to keep the wave of college-educated younger voters, but if they absorb too many, they will lose their regular base voters, and have to realign back to the middle. Republicans are starting to become the voice of the working class, but if they focus too much on the Old School views, they’ll lose voters again. So I imagine a massive Democratic loss in the 2022 mid-terms, which will force them back to the middle again.

Personally, I would like a multiple party system–make political parties more ideologically honest–but I don’t hold out much hope. But what do you think? Do you think there’s a chance that either the Dems or GOP will split into a competing parties? Will we keep going to the extremes? Let me know in the comments below! Meanwhile, vote with your paycheck, and buy one of my books. However, if $1.99 is too much of a risk with your vote, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. I’m Marcus Johnston and I approve this message. 😀

Bend Your Ear A Tick

6 Apr

A decade ago, I ran for public office, and I learned two things. One, everyone has a cause. Two, everyone just wants to be heard. In a democracy constitutional republic, if you want to represent, you must also listen, and yet, it is the hardest thing in the world to actually do.

Think about your own life–social media and the twenty-four news cycle has generated so much talking that it has become background noise. When I see CNN or Fox News on the screen in a bar, the volume is turned down, and I might barely read the captioning… but I see the headlines. The news agencies have realized that. They need to get your attention first, and then, pump out content going to keep your attention on the screen. Hence the public discourse has moved to the extremes, to either get you interested or outraged.

If you read this blog, you know that I fall right of center… or at least, I used to. By modern standards, I’m an arch-conservative. But what I’m grateful for is that you bother to read these words. You bother to “listen.” Now that doesn’t seem like much to ask, but ask yourself, whom in your own family do you actually listen to?

Take my own–my wife tunes me out when talking about my writing projects, I tune her out when talking about her research. When my son hit superheroes, I just patiently wait, and when my daughter mentions her friends at school, I just wait as well. At extended family dinners, there was one uncle that you never talked religion around (kinda difficult with two ministers in the family), because frankly, that’s ALL he wanted to talk about.

So when I ran for office, I would run into the person who was passionate about gun rights, then next minute, the person who was fired up about abortion. After that, I would run into the person who wanted to repeal half the amendments to the constitution. Who do you actually listen to?

This last year, with people unable to listen to each other, they’ve become angrier than ever. Some even go out into the streets. When I’ve gone to a march or a rally in the past, what I’ve learned is that everyone is there for very different reasons. When I write my congressman, I get a form letter back, and I do not feel respected. Then again, he represents hundreds of thousands of people. When I wrote my state reps, I was pleasantly surprised that I got a personal letter back–he disagreed with me, but he was very polite, and I appreciated the effort.

Even with folks I would mark “crazy,” you can sometimes get something out of it. “Repeal half the Constitution” guy changed my mind on the popular election of senators (17th Amendment). In case you’re curious, short version: the people should be represented by the House, states (by their legislatures) in the Senate. However, I marked the guy as “crazy” from the beginning, so it was so much easier to tune him out.

My wife’s pet peeve is not being listened to, and so in a world that progressively doesn’t listen, she’s pissed off a lot more often. My own boss has “yelled” at me to slow down, not just immediately answer/correct a problem a client has to get it off my plate, and research what the real trouble is. (Usually because I screw it up worse when I fix it quickly.) When we’re told to “work hard, play hard,” slowing down to actually listen to someone and do it right is the hardest of all. When we slow down, you might be surprised what you learn.

Of course, what you might learn is that “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.” Or that, “Gee, maybe I shouldn’t talk religion around my uncle.” Is it worth listening to everyone? How do you determine when you tune someone out or not? Let me know in the comments below! If you still like “listening” to my voice, check our my books. However, if $1.99 is too rich for your blood, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. But thank you for reading either way; it’s good to be heard.

There’s a Loophole for Every Law

27 Mar

We all get frustrated with our elected officials and really hate professional politicians. So someone brought up the standard refrain: “We need term limits!” The problem is–like any law–there’s a loophole.

The problem with elections is that people tend to vote for what is familiar–that’s why signs are important for political races. If you’ve seen their name several thousand times before Election Day, you’re more likely to vote for them, even if you know nothing about them. Incumbents get reelected constantly, because they have greater name recognition–after all, you’ve seen them before. The US Congress has a 91% retention rate among its members. So term limits are the solution to stopping professional politicians.

Except they don’t… and we have evidence that they don’t. We focus on the national assemblies so much, but the great thing about America, is that we have lots of little “experiments in democracy” that we call states. For the sake of amusing myself, let’s call it “minor league politics.” No two states work the same. Nebraska has the only unicameral legislature in the country (established in 1937), every one else has a state senate and house of reps, just like the national government. Texas, Maine, Arizona, and Wyoming have “citizen legislatures,” where the members only serve part-time. Because people have called for term limits for decades, some states have implemented them, with… interesting results.

Let’s take Maine, which passed a term limit referendum back in 1993. The poster child for this push is John L. Martin, who had been the Democratic Speaker of the House for 18 years (at that point). The referendum kicked him out of his job the following year, but six years later, he served for eight years in the state senate, and is currently serving for six years back in the House of Representatives. Why? Because these “citizen politicians” found a loophole. The law says you can’t serve more than eight years in consecutive terms in any branch of the legislature. So he simply jumped to the Senate, then jumped back to the House. This is also the case in Ohio, where you can only serve two terms in any one branch, and many of these full-time politicians simply jump from one branch to the other with their party’s blessing.

I hear you say, “the limits aren’t the problem, it’s the way it’s written!” So here’s where I both praise and degrade my home state of Arizona. We also have term limits–no more than three terms in EITHER house. Also the state senators serve two year terms, same as the house reps. Okay, problem solved, right? No–what that means is that no particular politician gets enough experience or clout to be independent of their party, so the political parties actually have more power, and it encourages lockstep thinking.

It also forces these part-timers to think about higher office, and think less about doing their job there. We have a multitude of state offices that are elected, none of which are term limited. In fact, George Hunt, the first governor of Arizona, served seven terms… and the only reason those weren’t consecutive, was because he was appointed Ambassador to Thailand just to get rid of him. That is certainly not a worry today, because governors are more likely to run for US Senate, or get picked up as a cabinet secretary. Even Governor Hunt (mocked as “King George VII”) was only sent to Thailand to prevent him running for US Senate!

So although everyone says, “We should throw all the bums out,” voters also say, “But my congressman is great!” Term limits doesn’t solve the problem. Politicians write the laws, and therefore, they’re the ones best suited to take advantage of the loopholes. So what is the solution? Simple–vote for the challenger, even if what they stand for disgusts you. Because if you keep turning out dysfunctional legislature after dysfunctional legislature, even the stupidest politician is going to get the message. “Oh, we need to do something.” And that’s the most important lesson our elected leaders need to learn.

But I could be talking out my back end here; what do you think? Could term limits still work? Let me know in the comments below! Then after that, pick up one of my books. Or if $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download one of my stories for free!

Somewhere Beyond the Barricade

14 Mar

A couple posts ago, I talked about the problem of D.C. Statehood. One of my readers suggested we just give independence to all those American territories and be done with it. As much as I like this solution, this is easier said than done.

Take the United States, for example. We can track the first Plan of Union back to 1754, the first plan for a united American colonies twenty years before the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord. Why did it take so long? Because the consequences of independence (in one form or another) cost more than the people involved wanted to pay. The Plan of Union was rejected by the colonial legislatures; it never went to the Crown. The idea of losing some of their rights to a national government was anathema. It was only when they saw that control already being taken away from them that the colonies were willing to “hang together or hang separately.”

If you ever have the chance to see the HBO miniseries John Adams (or read the book), it emphasizes this problem clearly. Even with clear proof that the the British were going to increase their control, and didn’t give a damn what the colonies thought about it, it was still barely a majority vote in the Continental Congress to sign the Declaration of Independence… one year after the war had started.

Let’s move a little closer to the present. The Republic of Texas is much glorified today, but the reality was a little more… well, gritty. American colonists in Mexican territory lead a revolt against their government and win in 1836. The newly freed Texans decide to join the United States and are told, “Thanks, but no thanks.” So for the next ten years, the thinly populated, geographically huge state barely held together. The Mexicans weren’t happy about letting them go and frequently ignored the border. The Comanches were raiding the hell of their outer settlements. The Texas Rangers had to buy their own guns and frequently weren’t paid. The Texan Republic had to sell off chunks of its claims to the US to pay the bills, until finally, it was admitted to the Union in 1846.

Let’s take the Philippines, which is the most recent example of an American territory becoming an independent country. It was ceded to America back in 1901 after the Spanish-American War and ended up finishing the fight the Spanish started against the Pinoys. Even then, the next thirty years were not the most stable for the American administration, and had to deal with lesser degrees of violence. In 1935, the Philippines became a commonwealth, which is a fancy term for “state in name only.” They were supposed to be on a path to independence in 10 years, but WWII intervened, and after being occupied by the Japanese, finally were granted independence in 1946.

Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands are also both American Commonwealths. PR became American in the same war that got us the Philippines (NMI after WWII), however PR is a LOT closer to the US. However, it’s the fact that it’s not on the mainland makes it difficult. Hawaii was annexed back in 1898 and it took WWII to make the US realize, “We really need these islands,” and it still took Alaska going first to get Hawaiian statehood in 1959.

So even with all those obstacles, PR doesn’t want independence, it wants statehood. The 2017 referendum was overwhelmingly in favor of statehood, although only 23% of voters showed up due to the PPD party boycotting it, since they like the status quo. The previous referendum five years earlier still wanted statehood in a clear majority over the current situation. Should they get it? In my opinion, yes. Will they get it? Eh… probably about the same time we solve abortion and immigration. 🙂

My point is that independence or statehood has always been a highly politically charged and difficult to resolve issue… and that’s just the American examples! 🙂 But what did I forget about? What would make things easier? Let me know in the comments below!

While you’re at it, why not check out my books and buy one! If $1.99 is too rich for your blood, download one of my free stories. You’ll be glad you did.

Voting with your Feet

12 Mar

There is one survey that is one hundred percent accurate and is a great indicator of how you’re doing–regardless if you’re a business, as a city, or a nation–how many people are trying to get in the door.

So I ran across this article about people leaving San Francisco, California and the SF Chronicle explained that they looked at postal data and found that most people just left the City, not the State. Since numbers can be manipulated to suit any agenda, it’s important to be examine what people are saying. The conservative argument is that people are leaving California for other states because of the flawed policies. The Chronicle is liberal publication, so they’re fighting against that spin.

The article makes very good points–regardless of policies, San Francisco has insanely high rents, because up until recently, people really wanted to be there. So a lot of people simply changed apartments in the City to get a cheaper one. But most important, they just left the City for the burbs in the Bay Area.

However, they are leaving, and in record numbers. 50,000 people last year out of the City proper–in 2019, the population was 874,961–so one out of 17 people left in last year ALONE. 100,000 out of the Bay Area–7.7 million–so a much less robust one out of 77, helped a little by the SF exodus. Why? The biggest reason is because it’s a real pain in the butt to change jobs. So unless your job is guaranteed remote, you CAN’T live anywhere you want. You have to be able to commute to work. Of course, that doesn’t include the problem of selling your house, packing, leaving your friends and family (which might also be your childcare), and pay a lot of money to shift to somewhere better.

My job IS remote and as much as I love it here, I can’t move to New Hampshire, because my wife’s school is here in Arizona. (We probably could leave, but honestly it’s not bad enough to leave. See: “pain in the butt.”) To take another example, we are seriously pissed off at our son’s school. They dragged their feet at reopening, resisting a governor’s executive order to open their doors, and it took yelling at five different state agencies to get them to finally budge. Even then, the principal was determined to point out as they’re slowly reopening, “the order is not mandatory!” BS it is.

When my son burst into tears (starting last August) when we told him he couldn’t go back, we wanted to leave it THEN. But our son LOVES that school. Loves it. We had an option that had a in-class education and he rejected it because he loves that school. Our daughter wants to go there next year. And that greatly reduces our ability to tell the principal to *$&% #$*# &$*@$.

So with all that baggage, imagine how upset you have to be at your living situation to leave town? Assuming that it’s optional–if you don’t have work or can’t afford being there. This happens to people all the time, but not in numbers that you can count to a negative output in the thousands. Yet… is the city and county of San Francisco about to clean up its homeless, tackle it’s massive crime problem, and it’s anti-business attitude? Not yet. Give it a few years and those who are left will finally vote in harsh measures and tough officials (see New York City in 1990), but since the City has been slowly collapsing for a decade, I’m not going to hold my breath. But I imagine it’ll affect redistricting next year, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco itself… but that’ll just be a larger Democratic district. All the Republicans are moving to Idaho, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico… they’re not moving to Democratic strongholds like Oregon or Washington State.

Just to be clear–any time you get a one-party government it’s a disaster. Wyoming (Republican stronghold) is considered one of the most corrupt state in the US, although that’s listed because they have no mechanism against corruption. People are not dying to emigrate to China, they’re dying to leave. So when you can vote with your feet, people do. A business that treats you like crap when you enter the door if not a door I will return to.

Man, looking back, this post is a little more rambling than usual–my apologies. Where did I go wrong? What juicy example did I miss? Let me know in the comments below! And while you at it, if you like my writing style, check out my books. If the $1.99 is too high an obstacle for you, download my stories for free!

Taxation Without Representation

8 Mar

I’m driving home through Phoenix when I see this billboard, “D.C. Statehood is a Civil Rights Issue.” It’s unusual for a city on the other side of the country to be advertising about the nation’s capital, but it’s an issue the advertisers are right, but for the wrong reasons.

For those not aware, our capital city is in the District of Columbia, which is not in either of the two states that border it. It is a federal territory, which means that Congress controls the budget and many of the authority in the District… Which means the mayor and city council are weaker to solve their problems than any other metropolitan area in the country.

However, the activists who paid for this sign don’t give a hoot in hell for DC solving their own problems. They care because Washington D.C falls into a loophole in the US Constitution. When the document was ratified in 1787, the capital city was New York. It was moved to Philadelphia two years later, and eight years after that, to the swampy land asking the Potomac River. Because there was no clause outlining a capital city, it’s not mentioned in the Constitution, they weren’t treated like a state, just as part of the federal government. They didn’t even get to elect their own mayor until 1974!

Only states could vote for president, due to our strange electoral system, so it took the 23rd Amendment passing in 1961 so that the people living just down the street from the White House could actually vote for the person who lives there. However, they still don’t have votes in Congress, just a non voting delegate.

If DC becomes a state, that means it gets two senators and at least one representative, just like any other state. However, DC has always voted solid Democrat since it got the vote. What that means is that with the numbers in the Senate so close, the Democratic Party will have a majority that will be nigh impossible to overturn. Add Puerto Rico as a state and you’ve got a four seat majority that is secured until the Dems implode or civil war erupts.

And that’s the sad fact. I think DC and PR should be states! Add Guam and American Samoa while you’re at it. However, doing it now will cause a chain reaction you don’t wanna go down. Because if the other half of the country feels they have no voice in the federal government, red states will rebel (in courts), and either the feds will have to crack down into an authoritative state or back down and become weaker… and no one wants to go down either road.

Now I could be too pessimistic here, but it’s a real concern. But where am I getting it wrong? Is PR not as hard core Democrat as I think they are? Should we return DC to Maryland (Virginia already took their half back in the 1840s)? Let me know in the comments below!

While you’re at it, take a look at my books, and pick one up! If you’re not ready to take that $2 plunge, read one of my free stories and see what you think!

Rules for Thee, Not for Me

27 Feb

It used to be great to be a celebrity–you could drive drunk and the cops would escort you home without a ticket. Well, this new reality has come home to politicians in the United States–that you can make a rule and think it doesn’t apply to you.

Before I start blasting both parties, let’s start with a recent celebrity who made the news: The Boss. Now I’m not a Bruce Springsteen fan. I kinda like his music and I -really- hate his insufferable political rants. It must have been the Vietnam War when we started caring what politics a movie or rock star had. (Sidenote: Vietnam vets STILL hate Jane Fonda.) However, I have a problem when a park ranger decides to make an example out of Bruce by daring to defy his orders. He took one shot of tequila–still below the legal limit–and then got on his motorcycle. But because the ranger specifically told him to not do it, this woods cop got his butt hurt, he arrested him.

What I find even more insufferable is that this happened in November, and some a-hole decided to use it to blast him for his super bowl ad in February. I kinda liked the ad, but when I realized it was the Boss talking, I thought, “How are we supposed to meet in the middle when you claim loudly that everyone to the right of Trotsky is evil?”

In the end, I don’t mind celebrities getting away with rule breaking because their actions don’t affect me. I don’t buy the Boss’ music, I don’t go to his concerts, I don’t fund him–but enough people do that allow him to rant all he wants. He gets to do that. Politicians thinking they can do the same thing DOES disturb me, because these people DO affect my life.

Take Gavin Newsom, governor of California, who has maintained the highest level of lockdown in his state due to the COVID outbreak. I’m not here to argue whether that was a good idea; I know that Gavin thinks its stupid because he decided to go out in public, in a large group of people, unmasked. He supports keeping public schools closed for “safety,” because it doesn’t apply to his daughter, who goes to a private school which has been open. The rules for you people, who don’t how to run your lives, but Gavin is smart enough to run his own… so why should he follow the rules that he himself wrote.

Hypocrisy runs on both sides of the aisle, say when Senator Ted Cruz decided to take his Cancun vacation while his state froze and had unbelievable power shortages. Now you might say that Ted is a US Senator and really doesn’t have much direct action that could help his constituents, but he could have been on the phone, bugging the president, and making an effort to help them. I don’t need him to fly back to Texas and hand out cups of soup, but staying in his office in Washington would have sufficed.

But to go on vacation is really tone-deaf. Plus there was the lame excuse of “oh, I was just escorting my daughter.” Sure, once you get to Cancun, the resorts are like little fortresses, and they’ll be safe, but your daughter has a daughter has a mom that could escort her just fine. Were you gonna jump back on a plane to Texas? Hell, no–so own up to it! Say, “I planned this trip to Cancun months ago and I’m going to go. I can call the president from there!”

But that looks bad and it should. You can’t preach against gay rights and then have gay sex in an airport terminal. You can’t send elderly folks back to infect their nursing homes and then claim you are a paragon of leadership. Own it and let the voters decide if you’re the person they want to represent them.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox, but what do you think? Did I hit both sides equally? Should politicians be accountable to the same laws? Let me know in the comments below!

Non-Political and Totally Educational

21 Feb

I listen to a lot of commercials, so naturally, I hear a lot of BS. So when I hear a pro-life non-profit suggest that they are “non-political and totally educational,” I have to question that statement. But maybe it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it.

This is not a post about abortion; this is about the messaging of abortion. The folks who put out this radio ad are called Pro-Life Across America. Now I don’t like this ad, not because I’m pro-choice, but because it’s so cutesy. You’ve got either a sister or a mom talking to their five year old about how you can hear a heartbeat at 18 days, or moving at 10 weeks, or smiling at 12 weeks. Then Mary Ann Kuharski, the director of PLAA comes on and tells you that they are “non-political and totally educational,” and how you can help.

Now my initial thought was, “the second you promote pro-life, you are political,” but when I thought about it… they’ve got a point. Take the more activist version of the pro-life movement. The old guys who stand outside of abortion clinics with giant signs, usually VERY graphic, and shout at women who try to go into the building. To quote a great song:

Mary got pregnant from a kid named Tom that said he was in love
He said, “don’t worry about a thing, baby doll I’m the man you’ve been dreaming of.”
But three months later he say he won’t date her or return her calls
And she swear, “god damn, if I find that man I’m cuttin’ off his balls”
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walking through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose

Everlast, What It’s Like

PLAA is not marching in front of the Supreme Court building (although some of their members might), their job is reach out to scared, recently pregnant young women, and convince them to keep the baby. They do this through ads and billboards. In my town, there’s a place near Arizona State University called “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” which I know is a pro-life center, but most people don’t. Politics aside, they are totally educational. They’re not going to provide you any drugs, no medical visits, they’re going to point you to folks who will help you through the pregnancy and beyond.

There is a whole network of services out there to support new mothers, shelters to live, day cares to help with the baby, ways to help pay for medical care… but you need a way for these young women to find this information out. So yeah… the more I look into it, the more I respect their approach. I disagree, but it takes away one of my arguments: “You care about having the baby, but don’t give a damn what happens to the baby after that.”

Doesn’t mean I like the cutesy approach any better, but at least, I can see that they’ve thought this through beyond putting up billboards. But what do you think? Is better messaging the key to avoiding political blinders? Is my definition of “political” too broad? Do you get annoyed at cutesy ads too? Let me know in the comments below!

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