Archive for November, 2022

The On-Going “Hate” Campaign

The other day I got a couple of spam-type political emails, claiming that “The Left Hates Thanksgiving.” And before long, it will doubtless be “The Left Hates Christmas,” because that also occurs every year.

Both of which are follow-ons to a whole slew of far-right initiatives to portray both centrists and liberals as the evilest people in the United States. The right also engages in far greater personal attacks with virtually no regard for the truth. All the vicious right-wing rhetoric about liberals eating babies and running child porn operations from beneath pizza parlors [that don’t even have basements] is fairly indicative of the disregard that the far right has for the truth.

For years, the right has claimed that the left wants to take away the right’s guns, but the left only wants to get rid of military style mass-killing weapons, and they couldn’t outlaw all guns if they wanted to, not without a Constitutional amendment, which isn’t politically possible now and never will be.

The left certainly has no love of the far right, but for the most part, the left tends to attack individuals for their policies and for trying to take away personal freedoms. There’s a huge difference between minorities who’ve been oppressed for centuries wanting fairer treatment under law and right-wing nutjobs who attack the Capitol because they don’t want to accept an election that didn’t turn out the way they wanted.

All across the country, election officials have been threatened, and politicians who have pointed out the illegality of the January 6th insurrection have had their lives and those of their families threatened, hundreds of times.

I’ve been in and around politics for almost fifty years, and I can only recall four instances where possible “leftists” targeted Republican officeholders with armed attacks and/or violent threats. While there are likely a few others as well, the numbers of officeholders threatened by the far-right is in the hundreds, if not the thousands, and includes Republicans whose actions the far-right doesn’t like, all of which strongly suggests that the Republican Party is not only the Party of No, but also the Party of Hate.

And what’s even worse, none of the GOP leaders even seem to care that some of their officeholders and far too many of their supporters are lying hate-mongers.

Commercials and the Odds

I have to admit it. I do tend to get my news from CNN. But I’m getting less and less enchanted with CNN, not because of the “slant” of the news, because all news sources have a slant, but because, with the new head of CNN, not only are there layoffs, but there are more and more commercials. That’s likely because CNN’s parent company – Warner Bros-Discovery – wants to squeeze more revenue out of CNN at a time when fewer people are watching CNN. That’s despite the fact that Warner Bros-Discovery’s gross profits for the fiscal year ending in September were $11.4 billion, an increase of 58% over the previous year.

Now, I don’t see that cramming more ads into a profitable news network that’s already losing viewers is going to do anything to increase viewers. If you’re looking for news and only finding more commercials, that’s not going to maintain viewership.

But this trend is everywhere, the latest being Netflix and Amazon Prime cutting commercials into movies that used to be commercial-free. Supposedly, one of the attractions of Netflix and Prime was the lack of commercials.

I’m not a sports fanatic, but on brief breaks from writing on Saturdays and Sundays [yes, I write on Sundays and every other day], I’ll channel-surf the football games or in basketball season, the college games, but I’m doing that less and less as well.


Because even though my satellite system may have three or four games on at the same time, there are more and more times when all four games have a series of commercials on at the same time, and there are more of them that last longer. How the various networks manage to synchronize this inability to avoid commercials I have no idea, unless it happens that they’re paying the athletic bodies for more commercial slots. And if I’m seeking a brief look at a game in progress, I’d like to see a game in progress, not a series of commercials, especially since the satellite service is already charging me for access (not that I have much choice, living 200 miles and a mountain range from the nearest metro area).

But then, the biggest corporations are locked into a mindset of grubbing for higher and higher profits, even when it’s counterproductive… and possibly likely to precipitate greater government regulation, about which they’ll bitch even when their actions have invited it.

The Republican House

If early statements and promises are any indication, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives will continue being the Party of No, with meaningless investigations of any Democratic member of the Biden Administration that they feel they can target, as well as quite a few legislative initiatives [which will likely go nowhere] to undo any laws and policies that the Republicans don’t like. So far, I’m not aware of a single constructive suggestion from the Republicans, and I don’t consider tax cuts for corporations and the wealth as positive, not given the state of both deficit and debt.

It’s not as though Kevin McCarthy has much choice, given the size of the “Freedom Caucus” and the number of election deniers within the House Republicans and the fact that Trump, the biggest liar and election denier of all, has announced he’s running for President again.

The Freedom Caucus appears likely to make it somewhere between difficult and impossible for McCarthy to come up with and pass a unified and constructive Republican agenda, even though there are areas, such as immigration reform, that could gain enough Democratic votes to pass. But because there’s so much anger among Republicans, it’s likely that “revenge” actions against the Democrats and President Biden will take up much of the next year, and the year after that will be consumed by pre-election positioning.

All that suggests a singularly unproductive Congressional session, and I could be wrong (I certainly have been before), but the anger and negativity of most elected Republicans will make getting anything done beyond the bare minimums (if even that) extraordinarily difficult.

Now What?

A slight majority (or a near majority, depending on how you view it) of the American people decided last Tuesday, on the whole, that they did not want to be governed by people who lied and who tried to restrict their freedoms. It was, at best, a reluctant decision, but a great many Americans decided that the more liberal party was less of a threat than a party dominated by election-deniers and would-be autocrats.

Even as I write this, not all elections in the House or Senate have been decided, but assuming that the Republicans do end up controlling the House, it’s likely to be by a very slim majority, and I would not wish to be Kevin McCarthy, because, as I learned many long years ago as a Republican staffer in the House and later as a Republican appointee at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan Administration, the people who can hurt you the worst aren’t the Democrats, but other Republicans.

With something like 150 election deniers among House Republicans, McCarthy will have a very hard time getting much of anything done except dead-end investigations, contentious hearings, and attempted impeachments, and those won’t suffice to keep the Trumpists and ultra-conservatives happy, not for long. That doesn’t even consider the additional divisiveness of another Trump campaign for the presidency.

Sooner or later, McCarthy may well have to threaten to shut down government to try to obtain what the far right wants, if indeed he becomes and remains Speaker. This likely won’t set well with most Americans, at least if Biden portrays the situation accurately to the people.

All in all, the next four years look bumpier than the previous four, unless the Republicans melt down into bitter feuding fiefdoms or some Republicans defect to the Democrats out of sheer self-defense, and none of that seems likely to me. But then, again, like many political pundits, I didn’t see the election turning out as it did, and given the political instability, nothing is certain at this point, except for ever more bitter rhetoric and recriminations from the far right… and, possibly, after the shock wears off, more unwanted stridency from the far left.

Simple Laws = Stupid Laws

Too many Americans (and all theocrats and dictators) have a fondness for “simple” solutions: Ban All Abortion. Stop all immigration. Kill the Unbelievers. Defund the Police. Stop the Steal. Insist that the only love be between a man and a woman. Balance the budget, no matter what. A college education is the answer.

The list of simplistic absolutes is long, both now and throughout human history, and all of those absolutes, including the many that I haven’t named, have one thing in common. They can’t work, at least not without massively increasing human misery and suffering.

Why do free or even semi-free nations have justice systems and courts? It’s just not to determine guilt and punish the guilty. It’s also to determine whether the absolutes apply and to what degree. Our legal system attempts to take into account shades of gray. It’s far from perfect, but those who created it understood that absolutes are too often tyranny.

The problem politically is that too many people don’t like complexity, and, as well, that too much complexity is unworkable. Just try to install solar power in some parts of California.

So law has to strike a balance between simple beliefs and unworkable complexity.

Unfortunately, the majority of the Republican Party seems to back tyrannical faith-based absolutes and far too many liberal Democrats opt for “woke” complexity.

What the Democrats don’t understand is that they’ve lost support by pushing complex extremes, while the Republicans don’t understand that their beliefs will result in the majority losing their freedom.

And, of course, the extremes on each each side thinks they have the only acceptable answers, which is why the election is turning out the way it is.

Corporations Are Anti-Democratic

Or at the very least, profits come above democracy and its values for almost half of the Fortune 500 companies, who contributed more than $14 million to the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 election results. The five largest defense companies — Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics — contributed a total of nearly $2 million to Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results, and that doesn’t include contributions to so-called Super PACs that can fund independent campaigns for or against issues or individual candidates.

After brief “pauses” in contributions, by early 2022, the political arms of these corporations were back in business supporting those Republicans, because they need those government contracts, which is something I don’t quite understand, given that, in many cases, there’s almost no one else who could develop and build those expensive defense procurements.

Corporate donors and billionaires have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Political Action Committees theoretically not affiliated with any political party or candidate, but that’s a legal fiction. The PACs spending millions of dollars and running night-and-day attack ads here in Utah against the independent candidate for Senate [Evan McMullin] while endorsing the far-right incumbent [Mike Lee] might as well be called GOP auxiliaries.

Add to that the fact that such PACs can spend millions on advertising pushing blatant misstatements and outright lies. In McMullin’s case, he’s actually a moderate Republican and member of the LDS faith who’s anti-abortion – but the PACs portray him as ultra-liberal and pro-abortion because he said he voted for Biden over Trump.

In just the mid-term elections, oil and gas industry Super PACs have poured over $300 million into ads supporting Republican candidates to the House and Senate. Eight Republican billionaires, all with ties to corporate, finance, or tech industries, have poured nearly $400 million into supporting Republican candidates.

At the current pace of spending, campaign spending for the mid-term elections will exceed $9 billion, the vast majority of that money coming from Super PACs.

Why all that spending? Because profits come before people or the national interests…and they’ll continue to do so as long as corporations and billionaires can spend unlimited amounts on their so-called unaffiliated campaigns.

Republicans Remain the Party of No

Less than a week before the mid-term election, the Republicans have yet to come up with a single concrete principle or legislative agenda for how they’ll solve anything. Their only message is, effectively: The Democrats caused everything that bothers you, and we’ll do better, because, after all, the last election was stolen, but we don’t have the faintest idea how we’ll do anything, except be against everything the other guys support.

The message isn’t surprising. It’s the same message that the GOP has had for years. The only real achievement the party has made in the past decade was to enact a massive tax cut that primarily benefitted the wealthy.

Yet it appears likely that the Republicans will take over the House, possibly the Senate, and will accomplish almost nothing on the federal level, while Republicans on the state level will do their best to undermine government credibility at all levels.

Why will the Republicans likely win? Because too many Americans are angry, and they need someone to blame, despite the fact that conditions here in the U.S. are far from as bad as they believe, and most of what’s going wrong isn’t because of what the federal government is or isn’t doing now, or for that matter what it’s done for the last two years, as I’ve pointed out earlier.

But today, facts don’t matter, only feelings, and those feelings, especially anger, Trump [negative pun intended] facts, common sense, and even enlightened self-interest.

And screaming “no” and echoing lies isn’t going to make anything better, not that the screamers will listen to anything, because then they’d have to take some responsibility, and far too many Americans don’t have the faintest idea what electoral or even personal responsibility entails. Besides, following simplistic lies and screaming “No!” is so much easier.