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Loose Lips Sink Ships-The Closing Democratic Window Of Discourse

“Shut up, be happy”-Jello Biafra

It’s taken me a little while to figure out in which “skin” I belong in as far as left of center politics goes. There are many hashmarks between say, moderate and communist. You can be a moderate, a liberal, a progressive, a social democrat, a democratic socialist, a socialist, a libertarian socialist, all the way to communist. I’m sure I’ve missed some.

I have done some thinking about all these waypoints along the left side of the axis. I have found that progressive suits me best. I’m not looking to overthrow the capitalist system (not yet at least). I am searching for fairness in this one. I am searching for forward movement, the continual betterment of the common man’s condition.

There’s 101 of us in the federal government. I hate to break it to the moderates, but we are the future of the party. The young generations will sweep status quo candidates from office in due time. I will probably help them, if I see we can win.

Now there are definitely problems as we transition to new generations of voters. The youngest are angry, confused, scared and think the system doesn’t care about them. Who can blame them? To them, the old guard just sits back, tells them to be quiet, watch the planet burn, see the cost of living skyrocket so high that they can’t see a way to live independently, see corporations and the filthy rich take over every facet of life with their money, witness a culture where they have to worry about being shot at any given place and time, observe militarized police who will beat you if you assemble improperly, worry about wars and international beefs we may not have an existential stake in, and see civil and constitutional rights disappearing because of an out of control white christian authoritarian minority…you’re all reading the news. I could go on.

I have criticized the Do Something mentality in the past, but the more I learn the more I see why it exists.

They say that perception is reality. While that maxim is flawed, it does mean that leadership must pick up its tin ear and listen to the concerns of its potential constituents. It is especially important now seeing as how we Democrats are on track to lose the House and we’ll be needing the lefty vote and the young vote to get to the place where we can spring into action and remove this cursed filibuster, expand that wreck of a Court, and legislate back the rights we’ve lost over the past ten years.

So it really doesn’t make much difference at this point to continue to list the positive things that Joe Biden has done, of which there are many. He has done what has needed doing to repair the damage done by Trump. For that, we should all be grateful. But unfortunately, politics and time moves on and has a “but what are you doing now” and a “what are you going to do” vibe running through it, and now that the honeymoon is long over, the Biden administration and other leadership are short on ideas and even shorter on enthusiasm. Everyone is asking the administration and other Democrats questions about what it can or will do about this or that. And we often get no good answer. The brilliant flak-catcher Jen Psaki is gone, leaving the White House short on professional ass coverage. The president is not taking questions from a querulous press and when he does, he’s grumpy about being challenged. All we get are angry Biden apologists teeming on social media, and those apologists don’t want you to speak a single ill word about the president or the party.

This will not fly. No matter how hard you tell Democratic Biden critics/questioners to shut up, it will not go away. This is not the Republican Party; we don’t have a hive mind. We are a coalition of diverse thinking groups, and those groups are increasingly at odds with each other. And we need to work together, not hiss and spit. That is how Republicans win. Moderate Democrats will have to give air to the more left element’s grievances, and the more left among us will have to understand better our limitations. We need to talk, not throw slime. Share wisdom. Exchange knowledge. It will make us much stronger if we have a healthy dialectic.

Discourse should be acceptable within our ranks. I don’t like the idea that questioning things is bad for the party. There’s something…undemocratic about it.

Biden must give succor to both wings. That is part of his job description, keep the party together. Especially now that democracy itself is on the ballot.

This post basically evolved from my increasing irritation with the mass blowoff of the more left wing of the party. And that blowoff is translating into poll outcomes like this:

I was repeatedly told not to share that poll because it would help depress turnout and lose us the ’22 election. I simply thought the numbers were eyebrow-raising to say the least. But I am also repeatedly being told I have some sort of “agenda” (a paranoid Republican babbleword), accused of helping Republicans (or in some cases, being one) if I even so much as acknowledge fucking reality. Sorry. I will call balls and fucking strikes like I see them. If we tell ourselves and others lies about the current efficacy of the administration we risk our integrity. That poll ain’t my fault. The truth is still out there whether I share it or not.

There was also this stupid statement from the White House recently:

Oh, so the people who marched and protested and screamed for answers to a severe crisis are “activists”? This is the kind of bullshit that chafes voters. This rhetoric will lose Democrats more votes than any poll. Does anyone know what the mainstream even stands for at this juncture? If our “activist” values aren’t theirs, what business do they have calling themselves part of The People’s Party? What intrinsic good is there in just being the Not-Republican Party?

That’s just taking the slow train to hell instead of the express. I find this increasingly unacceptable, and avoidable.

We can stop blaming “the media” right about now and making up screwy conspiracies about their aims. Again, that’s another dumb Republican idea that we’ve somehow assimilated into our yaksacks. We’re cutting our own throats with the message (or lack of one), not the coverage. Papers of record are awful right now, but not for the reasons we think. Personally, I’d rather read the muckrakers who don’t give a good god damn what either party thinks. Generally, they don’t shade the truth.

To a great degree, this next election is an all hands on deck moment and it’s important to understand that Republicans have gamed ’22 and made a circus of the electoral system. I am working hard personally to GOTV in my county and make sure as many Democrats as possible show up to vote. I run media on several social platforms for the party and maintain the county website. I will soon be tasked with phonebanking and canvassing. However, what I share as a private citizen with my followers that I find interesting is my business and you can fuck off if you don’t like it. Last time I checked, that account is mine, not the Democratic Party’s. I barely have 1100 followers. I have no influence. Go crawl up David Hogg’s ass, who, while perhaps well-intentioned, has literally discouraged people from voting and donating to the party. Millions of people see him online daily. He’s a spokesperson for the young whether he knows it or not and he has to get smarter quickly.

Let’s just keep the conversation and the reality free and flowing. Telling people to be quiet will not make more Democratic voters, nor will sharing uncomfortable truths make less. It will just make people think and consider, and we need that more than ever in America.

And be fucking polite out there. I am still learning this one myself, but if you know something that someone else doesn’t, share it. Don’t be a dick. Save that shit for Republicans.

Pick It And Stick It

It’s an interesting time to be a comedian. Donald Trump’s daily utterances and actions are just sitting there, waiting for someone clever to pick them up and run with them.

If you ask the more successful ones, you will find that they consider themselves very serious people with a job to do. They may not be journalists or historians, but they believe they are on the front line of the culture wars. They have Something To Say.

Push the envelope. Say out loud what people are only thinking. Step over the line and cause a reaction. Ridicule authority. That’s what the good ones are privileged to do.

It’s a tough call when you have to produce an opinion on whether a comedian has gone too far. Are they protected wildlife, no matter what they say?

There’s an artistry to a good jab that makes people think. And the size of the pass we give to a comedian is roughly proportional to how good the jokes are.

Yesterday, Bill Maher, a white man who is a comedian, dropped the N-bomb on TV. It’s going to be a pain in the balls to keep this clip up, but here goes:

 

Now, in fairness, I may need to watch this whole interview for better context, but it wasn’t really funny-a big leap for a bad joke. I’m about 99% sure that it’s just not OK to use the damn word if you are white, and this wasn’t part of the 1% of the time when it might be OK. That’s just the way it is, and most white jokers can do without this word in their set.

Chances are Bill Maher’s career will survive a bad racist joke. He’s far too important to cut loose, if you ask me. I’m of two minds on Bill, as most of us are. Bill Maher’s show, Real Time, is an amazing environment for no-holds-barred political discussion that is not easy to come by. Some of the shows are truly electrifying. As for my love for Bill Maher himself? I don’t have much. In places, he’s the worst part of the show. I have to sit through 5 minutes of predictable stand up, he’ll stop a great debate to do unfunny bits with lame props, and then we have to endure “New Rules”.  On the other hand, he finishes typically with a very good common sense rant. He’s also shown himself to be a good discussion moderator with a low tolerance for bullshit, and he has his facts right in front of him in case anyone tries to make things up in an argument. He’s an out atheist too, and that’s another reason I still think we need him.

It should go without saying that it’s not for me to pardon Bill Maher for using the word. I’ll be interested to see how black comedians respond.

But I don’t really want to tarry on Bill Maher too long. What I really want to know is what the hell is wrong with Kathy Griffin.

She’s come seriously undone, and it’s embarrassing for all of us Trump haters.

As I said, I haven’t found Kathy Griffin funny for decades now, and there certainly wasn’t anything funny about her photo shoot, even though she did it as a comedian and sure, I’ll be charitable, as an artist. But I supported her right to go there anyway. Presidents are not sacred cows, and that goes tenfold for a petit tyrant like Trump. That’s not how it works here, or anyplace else that respects free expression.

What I don’t really understand is how Kathy didn’t see the reaction coming. I think it’s safe to assume that she’s a liberal, just like you and me. We have studied the antics of the right wing and know that they’re a violent bunch, obsessed with guns and convinced they are God’s wrath on this earth. So you know going in when you’re about to take a hard shot at their president, they’re likely to threaten you with harm. Why wasn’t she ready? She reacted to the ugliness like a puppy who got hit on the nose for shitting on the carpet. It was an ignominious retreat. And it was totally unnecessary.

So she’s sorry. Very sorry.

No, wait.

Now she’s a victim of Donald Trump, who is trying to ruin her life. “He broke me,” said Kathy several times. She has a lawyer friend now, and she sounds recalcitrant instead of penitent. Which is where she should have been in the first place. But it’s a weird sort of fire that’s in her belly right now that I’m not sure I can follow.

“If you don’t stand up, you get run over,” Griffin said. “What’s happening to me has never happened in this great country. A sitting president of the U.S. … is personally trying to ruin my life forever.”

That first sentence is quite true. But history is probably littered with examples of “powers that be” attempting to ruin people’s lives. Dick Cheney tried to jeopardize Valerie Plame’s life because her husband called bullshit on the Iraq/uranium connection that he and his flunkies had worked so hard to lie about to start their horrible little war. Richard Nixon’s goons were looking for evidence that Daniel Ellsberg was mentally ill to discredit what would become the Pentagon Papers. So give that shit a rest, Kathy. It’s the kind of histrionics I expect from Donald Trump, who thinks that no politician has ever been treated as badly as he has.

Bloom said the comedian was contacted by the U.S. Secret Service and said she has retained a criminal lawyer.

OK. Not surprising, really. This might actually be unnerving, but again, I’m not sure why Griffin wasn’t prepared.

“As a result of the first family bullying her, she has been vilified, getting death threats, fired from multiple jobs and had multiple events canceled,” Bloom said.

Donald Trump does not need to tsk-tsk Kathy Griffin in public for the death threats to fly. Even if he said nothing, every right wing bigmouth with a TV show, blog or radio station would still have gone up her ass and sent their flying monkey audience after her.

And she got fired from her goofy gig for New Years. Duh. All of these things could have been telegraphed.

Griffin and Bloom believe the comedian has received harsher backlash because she is female.

Hmmm, it’s certainly possible, but this would not have been well-received no matter who did it. I think there’s a lot of doughy keyboard kommandos that got off on debasing a woman out there, but if a guy did this the opprobrium would still be there.

It just seems like she was not ready to take her “art” to the next level at all. I did read somewhere that she said that she and the photographer gave the shoot five minutes of thought. That sure seems clear.

I really should give her breathing room, because it was a powerful statement of defiance against a dangerous head of state, a statement that if made in some corners of the world would get her boiled or stoned. I just wish she hadn’t shrunk away, and I wish she didn’t have to compose herself in public or cry victim.

So, epilogue:

“I’m going to make fun of him more now,” she said.

Good, Kathy. Hit ’em hard, hon. Please don’t be afraid anymore, your country needs the laughs and the jabs. Parlay this thing you did into something great.

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