Dependency in the Age of American Fascism

President Donald Trump poses with one of his many cabinet picks who doesn’t believe in the validity of the government agency they’re about to lead.

Conservatives harbor an aversion to all-things “public.” They tend to see the world through a deeply individualistic lens in which there’s no public interest, only private gain. Their world is one in which capitalism is not a system created by human beings that’s subject to human flaws and shortcomings, but a sanctified doctrine received from atop Mount Sinai for the purpose of separating the worthy from the unworthy via an unassailable “market” that capriciously decides who shall rot in shantytowns and who shall lord from golden penthouses.

Of all the ideas that come together to “make” conservatism, chief among them is that the pursuit of material wealth and social power through capitalism constitutes the ultimate human purpose on this earth. In other words: it’s the money, stupid. For the Right, wealth is both the means and the ends to measuring human worth. This is why, during the long buildup to the 2016 presidential election, protests from warbling scribblers like Charles Krauthammer, Cal Thomas, and Peter Wehner that Donald J. Trump was “not a conservative,” did little to damage Trump’s appeal to legions of Republican voters.

The Big Orange Tyrant now sits in the Oval Office as the leader of a conservative party that dominates American government at the federal, state, and local levels. Either Donald Trump isn’t a conservative, or he hoodwinked millions of conservatives into supporting his lurch towards the presidency. I’m willing to give conservative voters more credit than are conservative pundits. Voters know that Trump is conservative. His wealth is all the proof they need.

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What in the Heck Does it Mean to be a Democrat?

The 2016 Democratic PArty ticket. I guess it's better than the End of the World.

The 2016 Democratic Party ticket. I guess it’s better than the End of the World.

On Halloween night, 1936, incumbent Democratic president Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a riveting speech at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The United States was in the eighth year of the Great Depression, and FDR was fixin’ to tout his smorgasbord of government programs known collectively as the New Deal.

FDR acknowledged that Americans “wanted peace of mind instead of gnawing fear.” To offer this piece of mind, he promised to protect currency, ensure fair wages, reduce working hours, end child labor, and crush financial speculation. Moreover, The president directly addressed the business and financial interests and their Republican allies who opposed his administration: “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” Democrats used to talk like that. They ought to again.

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Why Liberalism Matters in the 2016 Election and Beyond

Bernie Sanders yells at those damn kids to get off his lawn, while Hillary Clinton smiles thinking about her next check from Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders yells at those damn kids to get off his lawn, while Hillary Clinton smiles thinking about her next check from Wall Street.

Hey, you, the person reading this. Do you know what it means to be a liberal? Depending on your own political persuasion, being liberal might make you a firm believer in liberty, equal opportunity, and the right to pursue an economic system that distributes the benefits of capitalism more broadly across the citizenry. Or, being a liberal might make you a Stalinist, Marxist, atheist, pantheist, freedom-hating, abortion-craving, tree-fondling, Chick-fil-A scorning, queer-o-sexual menace to Jesus and the Constitution that He wrote.

Either way, liberalism inspires passionate opinions in American society.

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Crash and Bern: The 2016 Iowa Caucuses

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz crusied to victory in IOwa by Trumping Trump.

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz cruised to victory in Iowa by Trumping Trump.

Every four years, the Iowa Caucus allows Iowa to be just a little bit more than that Field of Dreams state. The 2016 Iowa Caucus was an interesting affair, to say the least.

First off, there was the not entirely unsurprising second-place finish of marmot-domed billionaire braggart Donald Trump. The Donald got thwomped fairly decisively by immigrant Ted Cruz, proving that the universe does indeed have a sense of humor. Trump’s defeat was predictable: his entire campaign has been long on foamy-mawed resentment but short on real-deal, right-wing meat and potatoes. The policies he’s mouthed – building a Mexican border wall; banning Muslim immigration, and shoring up Social Security for cranky old honkies – have ranged from the absurd to the frankly liberal, hence the disdain he’s engendered among GOP establishment Grand Poobas.

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The Very Real Death of White Working-Class America

The NEw Deal labor policies of Frankline Deleno Roosevelt were a mixed bag, but his understanding the needs of those who work is sorely missing in 21st-century America.

The New Deal labor policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt were a mixed bag, but his recognition of the Forgotten Man is sorely missing in 21st-century America.

On June 28, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation in one of his regular “Fireside Chats.” The Great Depression had left millions of Americans languishing in unemployment and despair, and with these circumstances heavy on his mind, FDR used his Fireside Chats to offer some level of comfort by informing the citizenry on the progress of his New Deal recovery plan.

On that particularly sweltering late June day, the subject was, among other things, conservative criticisms of Roosevelt’s policies. After rattling off some parched statistics about how his programs were boosting the economic recovery, FDR ceased the dusty policy wonkery and went right for the emotional jugular. “The simplest way for each of you to judge recovery lies in the plain facts of your own individual situation,” the President stated. “Are you better off than you were last year? Are your debts less burdensome? Is your bank account more secure? Are your working conditions better? Is your faith in your own individual future more firmly grounded?”

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Hillary, Bernie, and the Democrats’ Conservative Shadow

Hillary and Bernie: Who's the real Democrat here? It's a perennial question regardless of who's runnnig for the donkeys.

Hillary and Bernie: Who’s the real Democrat here? It’s a perennial question regardless of who’s running for the donkeys.

It’s tough being a Democrat. Every election cycle, donkey club members must go through the excruciating process of endless spinal implementation surgeries just to muster enough backbone to mouth the liberal platitudes that ostensibly constitute the foundations of America’s only major “progressive” political party. But let’s be honest: it’s hard being a liberal when the foamy-mouthed wingnuts are nipping at your tucked-back tail and the empathy-starved financial sector is flooding your coffers with Federal Reserve chicken feed.

The perpetual question-asking about what it means to be a liberal is once again in full swing amidst of the early primary campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The major issue at hand is just how much punishment the next potential Democratic president ought to reign down — Sodom and Gomorrah-like — on that craven nest of Sherif of Nottinghams known as the American Financial Sector.

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Social Security: America’s Longest Legislative War

President Barack Obama delivers the 2015 State of the Union Address. Behind him, Vice-President  Joe Biden thinks about capturing Bigfoot while Speaker of the House John Boehner imagines constructing a tanning salon in the House chamber.

President Barack Obama delivers the 2015 State of the Union Address. Behind him, Vice-President Joe Biden thinks about capturing Bigfoot, while Speaker of the House John Boehner imagines constructing a tanning salon in the House chamber.

The State of the Union Address is typically an annual demonstration of frictional political masturbation, in which the sitting Chief Executive uses up an entire bottle of presidential speech-writers’ lube in an attempt to assure the American public that the future is bright and that they aren’t getting royally screwed from every possible angle by a sweaty, panting, Viagra-popping combination of sociopathic plutocrats and re-election-obsessed government drones. As a result, the SOTU usually ends up as a crusty rhetorical sock in the national bedroom’s unattended hamper: forgotten, unacknowledged, a source of necessary shame.

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Obamacare: The Ultimate American Wedge Issue

The pro and anti-Obamacare protesters at the the Supreme Court epitomize the ultimate divide in American politics.

Obamacare is dead; long live Obamacare. Or maybe not. Early in 2015, thanks to incessant conservative teeth gnashing, the Supreme Court will once again gird up its robe-covered loins to make a major ruling on Barack Obama’s signature law.

The plaintiffs in the upcoming King v. Burwell case claim that, according to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) statute, the IRS exceeded the limits of its regulatory powers by allowing for both state-run AND federal exchanges. It’s a classic right-wing “states’ rights” argument. 22 states have already balked on setting up exchanges, and conservatives are betting that weeding out the federal cash that’s picking up the slack in red states will undermine the entire structure of Obamacare. No matter that blocking federal subsidies could yank insurance coverage away from upwards of 11.8 million people: after all, are there no prisons, no poorhouses?! Continue Reading

Unemployment Insurance and the Southern Roots of Modern Conservatism

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the unemployed occasionally recieved donuts and coffee, while the GOP deemed them parasitic moochers.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the unemployed occasionally received donuts and coffee. The GOP, of course, deemed them parasitic moochers.

If there’s one thing that characterizes the pit of drooling, addle-brained wampas known as the 133th United States Congress, it would be inactivity. Dominated as it is by the Republican Party faction of obnoxious brats known as the Tea Party, the so-called “Do-Nothing Congress” and its only mildly less insane Senate counterpart is once again engaged in the now traditional ritual that involves deciding whether or not long-term unemployment benefits should be extended.

Republicans in the House and Senate are, as in the recent past, opposed to unemployment insurance, and the welfare state in general, on ideological grounds. For example, arch-conservative Wisconsin rep., and failed vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan claimed on the 2012 campaign trail that welfare policies of all kinds had “created and perpetuated a debilitating culture of dependency, wrecking families and communities.” Indeed, the idea that millions of Americans take advantage of welfare as an incentive to simply not work is standard dogma on the American Right.

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Rush Limbaugh, the Marxist Pope, and American Anti-Catholicism

This 1870 cartoon by Thomas Nast depicts the Pope and his minions eyeing America from Rome.

This 1870 cartoon by Thomas Nast depicts the Pope and his minions eyeing America from Rome.

The United States is, in theory, a secular nation. Despite the occasional verbal hat tips to a supernatural watchmaker by some of the more deistic leaning founders, all of America’s founding documents are secular: they embrace no official state religion of any kind and maintain a strict separation between church and state. This political structure has, in turn, made the U.S. one of the most religiously pluralistic societies in the world. After all, having  freedom of religion ensures that all religions can be practiced openly.

In practical terms, however, for much of its history the U.S. has been a majority Christian Protestant nation. The first European settlers (with the exception of some pesky Spanish Catholics in Florida and out west) to America were Protestants, and a Protestant religious tradition has shaped much of American history. And, of course, the violent, sectarian brouhaha that is Christian history ensured that a predominantly Protestant United States would also have its fair share of Anti-Catholic sentiment.

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