Saturday, May 18, 2013

On Republicans And Scandal, or "Open Letter To A Wingnut"

A friend of mine on Facebook asked my I considered Republican criticism of President Obama to be racist. Here's my answer.

It's actually fairly easy to justify most conservative criticisms of President Obama as racist. Why is that, you ask? Because in so many words, almost all of those criticisms are pure, unadulterated bullshit, and swept away with little or no effort, which leaves you with white people being critical/disrespectful/hateful towards a black man for no reason whatsoever. Using Occam's Razor, the only logical answer is that those criticizing are racist. Let's debunk the major hysteria points:

“He's not a Real American”

Horseshit, people. Like it or not, Barack Obama was born in Hawai'i in 1961, with two separate Honolulu newspapers announcing the birth. Even WorldNet Daily eventually accepted that he's an American citizen. The ultimate irony is that Orly Taitz, the high priestess of the Birther movement, is not a natural-born American – she was born in France, and is a naturalized citizen. What it all boils down to is older white people frightened by the concept of an empowered black man. Although let's be honest for a moment: Bill Clinton was the first 'black' president. I would go so far as to suggest that Obama is actually our first nerd president. Ironic side note: Texas Senator Ted Cruz is rumored to be considering running for the Republican nomination for POTUS in 2016. Cruz is not legally eligible to become President, because he was born in Canada, regardless of his parents being Americans. Where do you think the nickname 'Calgary' comes from? An irrational love of Stampede Wrestling?

“He's not all that smart”

Uh, I don't recall Harvard Law School accepting just anyone, let alone handing out degrees to anyone. Please note that had it not been for politics, his career track as a constitutional law scholar had him pointed towards a career in jurisprudence. Which leads to the next point:

“He's a commie/nazi/socialist/librul”

Remember Harvard Law School? Obama was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, which has never been known for having a liberal bias. In fact, many of his more liberal colleagues were quite upset with him for not taking the Review in a more liberal direction, and for his surprisingly close associations with more conservative members of the Review.

Now let's look at those buzzwords for a moment. We've already eliminated 'librul', so let's move on to 'commie'. What makes him a communist? Is he, for example, making you stand in line for bread, or shoes? No. Do you even know what communism is? In its purest theoretical form, communism is democracy on steroids, as every person in the community (that's where the word 'communism' comes from, after all) has a say in everything the community does. Which is also why communism is simply unworkable at any level beyond say, a group of a hundred people. Lenin tried to install the collectivist principles of communism, but his stroke and eventual death from said stroke in 1924 pretty much ended the communist experiment, and Josef Stalin dressed up a megalomaniacal state-controlled apparatus replete with a massive personality cult centered upon himself (something Marx, Engels and Lenin found abhorrent) in Lenin's old suit and called it communism. Conservatives bring up this buzzword (as well as 'socialism') as the Obama administration has attempted to re-regulate the various sectors of the economy, something actually applauded by no less than the grand poobahs of deregulation and supply-side economics that set America on the path to economic collapse under George W. Bush.

Now let's look at 'socialism'. Do you even know what it means? Conservatives use it like they do 'communism', to paint the illusion of a megalomaniacal President trying destroy our freedoms. The funny thing is that the word 'socialism' is actually a put-down of states and governments that either fail to implement collectivist principles, or only go part-way in doing so. The term was actually created by communists to mock states and governments that didn't have the fortitude to finish the job.

And now, let's look at 'nazi'. People who call the President a 'nazi' make me laugh. No less than Rush Limbaugh has called the President a nazi, his reasoning being that the Nazis were socialists. I almost pissed myself laughing at that. Let's explain the fat guy's lunacy for a moment. “Nazi” is actually a diminutive word, essentially a nickname. Here's the full name of the Party (pardon my sucky German):

National-Socialist Deutscher Arbeitung Partei

That translates to “German National-Socialist Worker's Party”. Of those five words, the only two that accurately described the party were “German” and “Party”. The rest, to use the words of Geroge Carlin, was a marketing decision.

Let's go back in time a bit, to the time between the World Wars. The defeated Imperial German government was recast into a constitutional republic, with the organizational meetings held in the city of Weimar – hence the term for the period's government being the 'Weimar Republic'. The Republic was under threat almost immediately from communist agitators from within and without, as German communists attempted a coup d'etat in 1919. Hitler attempted his own coup (or putsch, in German) in 1923, and was promptly arrested for it. The governments of the Republic were usually left-of-center, mildly socialistic, and the German people generally liked the idea of 'socialism', though not really aware that the word itself was actually a perjorative as I mentioned above. Hitler came upon the idea of branding his party as “National-Socialists” in order to attract voters to his party, while portraying the actual Socialists as being secret tools of a foreign power trying to keep Germany down – any of this sound familiar?

The ironic thing is that this false branding isn't without precedent. In post-Czarist Russia, there was actually a brief attempt at democracy, with Communists winning a majority in the Russian legislative body known as the Duma. However, a split developed between the Communists, with a tiny minority breaking away from the larger bloc. This breakaway group contained all the major players of what was to come – Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Molotov, etc. - and they had the balls to declare themselves Bolsheviki – Russian for “majority”. And in a response that doomed them to history – not to mention firing squads – the larger bloc of Communists declared themselves Menesheviki - “minority”. Stupid, no?

But why use such words in the first place, when none of them are remotely true? Welcome to politics, Lee Atwater-style. Atwater's first rule was that if enough people repeat the lie often enough, eventually people will believe it to be the truth, no matter how audacious the lie is. Look around the darker corners of the conservative blogosphere, where you'll see bloggers making the most ridiculous accusations against the President, the First Lady, even their children. These accusations eventually bounce around the blogosphere, and those that gain the most traction among the faithful eventually move on the biggest manure spreader of all, FOX News. Case in point being the President's trip to India last year, and the accusation that this one trip alone cost the American taxpayers two billion dollars, when the reality was that the trip cost a tiny fraction of that. Calling the President a 'communist' and such is merely red meat thrown out to an audience conditioned to believe anything told them. And it's also safer than using the word many on the right wing prefer to use – you know, six letters, starts with an 'n', rhymes with my favorite resident of the Hundred Acre Wood. And we're not talking about Eeyore.

But here's the funny thing: if Obama is an unintelligent socialist/communist/nazi, then why is the economy improving? Why is unemployment going down, the Dow at record levels, corporate profits at all-time highs? If he's a socialist, he's the worst socialist ever. If you actually look at his voting patterns and policies, what you've got is an Eisenhower-era Republican, business-friendly and all about getting Americans back to work repairing our crumbling infrastructure. If only the party in opposition didn't consider putting Americans back to work in something other than minimum-wage jobs (oh, and the Republican-controlled House just voted to eliminate the forty-hour work week and overtime pay for hourly workers – remember that) to be part of some evil plot to destroy America.

“He's Coming To Take Our Guns!”

This is the current lie in vogue. Believe it or not, there actually are people on the Left who wish that somehow the President could just snap his fingers and presto! No more guns. We have words for people like that: ridiculous, silly, unrealistic. And here's the one that's most important to the current debate: IGNORED. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the public to bear arms, that is without question. The problem is that conservatives consider this right to be God-given. God didn't write the Constitution, folks. The people who wrote the Constitution lived in a world where a trained marksman could maybe get off three or four shots a minute (I do count black-powder rifle enthusaiasts among friends, and I'd hope you all saw old Lou Huber demonstrate his love of muzzle-loaders in school). Modern military-grade weapons can fire dozens of shots in a second. Does the average American need access to military-grade firearms, or more importantly, why does the average American need access to such weapons? Is an invasion imminent? Are Chinese paratroopers descending upon us, like in the recent remake of Red Dawn? Oh, I know, the writers of the movie crossed out any references to China in the script, and wrote 'North Korean' over the top of those crossed-out references. But that's who they were thinking about.

So if there's no invasion a-coming, why on earth does Joe Sixpack need an M-16 and a thousand rounds of ammo stashed in the basement? Fear, people. Fear and paranoia. The commies are gonna get you! They're gonna steal your guns! ATF agents are going to parachute into your house and steal your guns, then those dirty libruls are gonna make you have gay sex and abortions, and.... and.... read books from people other than Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity! Yeah, that's right!

But why? Why be so afraid? Here's why. The genesis of the current gun hysteria actually has very little to do with the recent mass killings in Colorado and Connecticut. What it does have to do with is a United Nations arms treaty cracking down on the illegal arms trade that the current Administration is in support of. Now mind you, this treaty is about rogue nations (North Korea, Iran, et al) selling arms to terrorists, or arms dealers selling to backwater hell-raisers with armies of child-soldiers. But since this treaty is about restricting sales of arms, the NRA (who really is a mouthpiece for the arms industry and not you, Mr. Responsible Gun Owner) created the lie that this treaty will somehow make private gun ownership illegal, and is busy pushing the lie to any and all who will listen – even if they aren't interested. Here's the rub though – the UN matters about as much as a bag of beans when it comes to orderly democracies, and said treaty means exactly zilch in this country. But the NRA would rather you not know that, so instead they stoke the fear and paranoia, because making people think that the President will be personally parachuting into your front yard tonight with a hundred ATF agents in tow to steal your guns and rape your wife and daughters.

I wish I was kidding when I said that. But such is the state of the wingnut id, where darkest nightmares have become feverish, fetid reality. The funny thing is that no less than Ronald Reagan said that the American public had no need to own assault rifles, and as recently as ten years ago Wayne LaPierre himself said that extended background checks were more than copacetic with the NRA, to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But now? THE BOOGEYMAN'S GONNA GET YOU!

So what does it all mean? It's trust issues for the most part. When their guy was in office, they figured that kind words would be enough to placate the masses without actually doing anything. Now that their guy isn't in charge, and the big scary black guy that isn't their guy in office might actually do something, it must be part of some commie plot to enslave the populace, right? Now that the other guy is in office, suddenly law enforcement is irrelevant if not in on the conspiracy, and that 'the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun'. That's the job of police, not of paranoid vigilantes.

And even if somehow private gun ownership were to be banned in the US, how could it possibly be enforced? According to best estimates, there are over three hundred million firearms in the hands of private owners – which would probably make the American public the single largest army in the world. It would require an inconceivable amount of manpower to somehow go house to house and physically remove every firearm from every home, needing every soldier and policeman in the entire world and then some. Which – let's be honest here – is completely ridiculous, let alone unrealistic. This was why during World War II, Germany or Japan never even considered the idea of invading the continental US. When the great Japanese naval strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was asked in 1942 if an invasion of the continental United States would be successful, he was quoted as saying that an invasion would be doomed to failure because 'there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass'.

“But, but.... what about....”

Oh yes, you and your scandalmongering. Everything, every last little perceived slight is some sort of 'scandal' to you. Do you even know what a scandal is? Watergate was a scandal, a sitting president's plan to undermine his political enemies by quite literally stealing their secrets – never mind the fact that Nixon would've won the 1972 election regardless of whatever dirty laundry G. Gordon Liddy and his cohorts might have found. Iran-Contra was a scandal, selling weapons to repressive regimes and brutal insurgents (you know what they say, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter), and financing the entire scam by inventing crack cocaine and turning it loose upon America's inner cities. Reagan only survived the scandal because in all likelihood, Alzheimer's Disease had robbed him of any serious mental capacity. By those standards, the 'scandals' of today's wingnuts are tempests in teapots, and for the most part they only exist in the minds of those who invented them. Obamacare is a scandal! The nerve of that idiot Marxist Kenyan usurper, how dare he propose legislation that might help us all, let alone get it passed!

“What about Benghazi, you librul prick?”

What about it? It might not have ever happened had GOP intransigence forced budget cutbacks – especially for embassy security! And what about the e-mails that suggested a cover-up? Well, it turns out that ABC – those who broke the story initially – they didn't even read the fucking things all the way through. Turns out that there was no cover up.

“What about the IRS investigating Tea Party groups?”

Gee, where was your manufactured outrage when your President let the IRS investigate liberal groups? It's okay when your guy does it, but it suddenly isn't when someone else does it, right? Hey, give Obama credit: he fired the head of the IRS when the incidents became public.

“What about the Marines?”

Oh, don't make me laugh. For those unaware, there are wingnuts out there claiming that the President somehow violated the rules of the Marine Corps by having Marines hold up umbrellas when a sudden downpour interrupted a joint press conference between himself and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. Uh, I hate to break this to you, but the Presidential cadre of Marines are under the President's personal control – if he asked them to start doing improv comedy for the crowd of reporters, they'd do it, because he's the fucking President, that's why!

It's just like I said in the beginning, when you boil away the lies and bullshit, you have white people hating a black man for no reason other than being told to. Sounds like naivete, fear, paranoia, and racism – a toxic mixture at that. And that's exactly what the people controlling you want from you, wingnut. They don't want you to think. They want you to be scared of the intelligent black man. They want you to be so scared of him, they created the lies they want you to believe. Never mind that the House Republicans just voted to end the forty-hour work week and eliminate overtime pay for hourly employees. Never mind that those same people are hard at work trying to eliminate voting rights. Never mind that they're busy undermining the rules and regulations that keep your food safe, your air and water clean, the products you use in every facet of your life safe for use. Never mind that they think it's perfectly okay to anonymously purchase weapons of mass destruction and thousands of rounds of ammunition for those weapons – weapons then turned on innocents, on children! None of that's important to you, is it? Not when there's some other imaginary scandal about!

I pity you, wingnut. I pity the people around you, the people who have to live with such a paranoid lunatic. But there is a cure for you. Turn off FOX News. Quit listening to Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck. Quit reading Drudge, Breitbart, Malkin – you do know that they're using you, right? The only reason they want you watching, listening and reading – aside from keeping you stupid and scared, of course – is to sell you things, sell you rip-offs and scams like credit-monitoring services and scrap-gold buyers that will give you maybe one-fifth of what your scrap gold is worth, all the while telling you that you're getting 'the best price available'.

I pity you. And if you don't like what I have to say, then fuck you. You're what's wrong with this country – not me, and certainly not our President.