Cultural Bible-Thumpin’

The cast of 666 Park Avenue

Television is so much crap these days, and that’s by design. In the last few years I haven’t watched much TV aside from a few programs on premium cable and AMC. I tuned out during the years that reality TV was in vogue; it was just not even remotely entertaining to me. Mostly, if I watched anything at all outside of Showtime shows or Mad Men and the Walking Dead, I’ve done it on Netflix in recent years. My intolerance of stupidity and time-wasting has grown as I’ve aged, and Netflix allows for the elimination of both. There are no commercials and you can streamline your viewing to your particular tastes. For me, that’s been a lot of documentaries, foreign flicks, and old-school shows.

The problem with that is that I’ve lost touch with cultural trends that reveal themselves through the medium of TV. When my daughter brought a Smart TV into our home earlier this month, I got to see what I’d been missing. In addition to streaming Netflix directly through the TV’s wi-fi, we decided to try the free trial of Hulu. I wouldn’t recommend it because the service is very commercial heavy and the content is hugely progressively oriented. But reviewing the drawbacks of Hulu is not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to begin to dissect what the masses are being exposed to, the culture that’s being stitched into their lives via what’s popular on television. Somewhere along the way while I was tuned out, a sort of cultural Bible-thumpin’ has developed on TV and is being beamed directly into the living rooms, dens, and bedrooms of America. I have no idea when or where it started (though I suspect it may have begun with the popular show X Files), but supernatural and conspiratorial narratives have dominated dramas in recent years. Medium, Lost, Heroes, Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and the new 666 Park Avenue are some examples. Continue reading

The Parental Majority

As we watch the continued media meltdown, it’s important to remember the dynamics and real evidence in this race. To briefly recap the basics: Obama is a disaster of a president and recently has added even more disastrous events to his column, namely 9/11 2.0; he is much, much weaker than he was in 2008; the economy is still in the tank, despite the fudging in the media and from governmental sources, and voters still know it; Obamcare is still extremely unpopular, so much so that the CBO was sent out to make the “See, it really is just the freeloaders who will get hurt” argument yesterday. In other news, Fast & Furious crowned, but with so much else going on, the report was buried. Benghazi, it turns out, was a terrorist attack, though the cover story to save Amb. Rice’s lying face is that al Qaeda just took advantage of an opportunity as a result of the Mohamed film. If you believe that, of course, you’re probably still a registered Democrat.

But there is evidence that disputes the media findings. Some of it is anecdotal, of course, though some of it factual. For example, factually speaking most pollsters are using the 2008 voter turnout model for their polls this year, and that’s why what you’re seeing in these polls is so conflicted with what you’re seeing in real life. Rasmussen is actually the only pollster using voting and party registration trends to compliment his data, and that’s why Rasmussen is likely closer than any other poll you’re seeing. He’s showing a 1 point race across swing states today. His latest presidential tracking poll shows Romney with a 2 point lead nationwide.

Anecdotally speaking, we can use my Romney/Ryan t-shirt and the local reaction to it as some evidence. Now, I live in Indiana, which has traditionally been a red state, but I live in the capitol, Indianapolis, the 11th largest city in the United States, and it is more blue than red. It looks like America circa 2006, where the party representation is roughly split with a slight advantage to Dems. Our city council is majority Democratic and our Mayor is Republican. Despite this breakdown, like a lot of urban areas, Democrats are some loudmouthed, outspoken people. Republicans here, in contrast, have been in the habit of keeping their heads down and not talking politics too much.

Enter the Romney/Ryan t-shirt. I wear this shirt out at least twice a week just because I’ve grown accustomed to and love the reaction. It silences Democrats and opens up Republicans. Last week I wore it into Penn Station to order my dinner and the college-aged cashier looked at me with such venom I was glad they made their food out in the open. But the biggest, most frequent reaction I get is from Romney supporters, whom I presume are largely Republican or independent. I’ve been stopped at yard sales, at the bank, on the street, at the grocery, and in restaurants by people who just want to have a friendly conversation about the Romney/Ryan ticket. In this town where people are nice but not too friendly, it’s been an amazing experience for me.

But there’s other anecdotal evidence out there. Continue reading

Social Media & Amplification

Thought we’d talk about social media today and maybe share our account info so we can connect better via these amplification sites. That’s what social media is for: amplification. For the last several years I’ve been getting more involved in an attempt to have a larger online presence, and it occurred to me that readers might like to know some of the tips and techniques.

Facebook

Did you know that most online news orgs now freely allow Facebook comments, no registration required? So you don’t want to share your name? Is that it? No problem. Create a Facebook page and you don’t have to. Here’s how it works.

Here’s my page for this blog. Here’s a screenshot:

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See that red circle in the right upper hand corner? That’s a link to create your own page. When you create your own page, you can leave comments under the name of the page. Here’s how. Check out this screen shot from Buzzfeed:

Click to enlarge

I’ve smudged out my last name and some professional pages I run. But you can select to post as your page at most places. Then you don’t have to worry about your name being associated with political discourse and you can say things you wouldn’t if you had to put your name on it and run the risk of some vengeful person reporting you, since if you list your place of employment, that information often posts with your real name. It doesn’t post with your page. There is no way to link YOU to this page unless somebody knows you and knows you have the page. As you can see from the screen shot, you can also click a box to post the article link to your page along with your comment, thus informing your readers of what you’re reading. Sharing is a big part of amplification.

I have several pages, including two professional pages I use to keep in contact with students, and two political pages (P&L and RomneyDemocrats) , as well a humor page. You gotta laugh sometimes, and a ton of funny stuff is shared on FB, so I use the humor page to share without clogging up my friends’ timelines. Trust me, they appreciate this. If you’re sharing a ton of funny stuff on your timeline, you’ve become the social media equivalent of the constantly-emailing-aunt-or-uncle we all used to hate and send to the spam folder.

Leaving gratuitous comments and harassing your political opponents is not the only reason you might want a FB page, though. It’s also a great way to let your readers know when you post to your blog, if you have one, and it helps build audience as well. Some people even do it as a business. If you REALLY want to build your audience you can even buy FB ads for it for pennies per click. That’s how I built up Romney Democrats to over 700 members now in just 8 weeks. You can also coordinate your WordPress settings to automatically post your blog posts to your Facebook (and Twitter) accounts, so you can skip that extra step.

Twitter

Where would be without the raucous time-waster that is Twitter? Well, it doesn’t exactly waste time, but it can if you spent too much of it there. But it is a great way to get the word out about your blog and your blog posts, and your WordPress account can be configured for auto-posting, just like Facebook.

Twitter is also good because you can create multiple accounts and then use Tweetdeck to amplify your message. You want to have your personal account, and at least a backup in case the unthinkable happens and you get put in Twitter jail. That’s when someone reports you for something and Twitter suspends your privileges. Intolerant people are constantly reporting people gratuitously, even when they do not violate any rules. It’s an attempt to silence the tweeter, to shut down their noise. If you have a back up you can still communicate while waiting for Twitter to reinstate your privileges. Having one for your blog or FB page is also a good idea. As I said above, you can use Tweetdeck to retweet stuff to any and all your accounts, and to make retweeting to all your accounts a cinch. Here’s a screenshot of my Tweetdeck: Continue reading

New Republican Liberalism

There are some who say the the two main political parties are no different, that both have been captured by the capitalistic forces of business enterprise. (Never mind that capitalism is the economic system we’ve chosen to compliment our political system of republican democracy, or that capitalism itself is the most liberal economic system there is.) In this you have the disaffected Democrats of the Obamacrat years, and the Paulbots of the GOP, as well as a scattered group in the middle. Folks who subscribe to this point of view, however, miss the entire point of our republican democracy as it was envisioned by the founders, who laid out our values in the Declaration of Independence, and set the rules in our Constitution. The purpose of our government is to meet the compromise of the mainstream, to deliver what it is the middle wants while accommodating the extremes on both sides. This argument that the parties are the same does not resonate more broadly because it is false.

Recently, the parties have been subject to a realignment process. Democrats have adopted a New Conservatism, while Republicans have adopted a New Liberalism. The Democrats’ change has centered around the development of orthodoxy and dogma, as I outlined here. The Republican’s changes are of a more dynamic variety, bringing a much needed opening up of the stale Republican focus of the past. Once a staunch Democrat myself who was poised, like so many, to buy into the orthodoxy and dogma of the Democratic Party, I have spent four years evolving my thinking and having a series of revelations about the nature of politics and the changes happening within it.

But what has changed? Is it me, or is it Republicans?

The short answer is both. Yes, I’ve had many “click moment” in the last four years, moments where I questioned my own assumptions as all critical thinkers must do. While others have returned to the progressive borg, effectively unseeing what they once saw (so much for that theory), I have continued to forge ahead with clear eyes and more thinking, leading to those continuing revelations. And what I have seen coming from the Republican Party in those years has been a radical shift from what they were about in the 1980s, 90s, and much of the first decade of the new century. The adjective “radical” is employed deliberately, for it is the nature of this action that allows me to ascribe the other adjective, “liberal,” to their side. In their case, and in contrast with Democrats, it is both the ideas and the methodology that have changed. Before we start, let’s get a couple of definitions down on this one, too.

The broad definition of liberalism, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a broad political ideology or worldview founded on the ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as capitalism (either regulated or not), constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free press, free and fair elections, human rights and the free exercise of religion.

The first things likely to jump out at you as you read that is that capitalism is the first idea in the constellation of ideas, and free exercise of religion is last, and that neither of these are tenets of what we today call progressivism. So again we’re getting a look at how the leading forces within the Democratic Party are abandoning liberalism in the broad sense. But there are other, more defined definitions of liberalism, and since I will be referring to them, it’s important to get an understanding of them.

Classical liberalism is a political ideology, a branch of liberalism which advocates individual liberties and limited government under the rule of law and stresses economic freedom. (Source: Wiki)

Modern American liberalism is a form of liberalism. It includes Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. It combines social liberalism with support for social justice and a mixed economy. (Source: Wiki)

Neoliberalism is a label for economic liberalizations, free trade, and open markets. Neoliberalism supports privatization of state-owned enterprises, deregulation of markets, and promotion of the private sector’s role in society. In the 1980s, much of neoliberal theory was incorporated into mainstream economics. (Source: Wiki)

It is in the employment of these more specific definitions that things get tricky. It is the first, Classical Liberalism, that defines much of the shift happening in the Republican Party. But there are roots of the third definition as well, as suggested by the last line. These ideas about deregulation and free markets were espoused throughout the second half of the 20th century and gained a full head of steam during the Reagan years in the 1980s. They penetrated so deeply that by the time the 1990s rolled around, even President Clinton was willing to sign a bill like The Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act of 1999, which effectively repealed The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

The second definitions is particularly intriguing to me, because of what it suggests about the modern Democratic Party. Here we clearly see a couple of things. One is that Teddy Roosevelt pops out as the bridge between the subordination of the old Republican Party, the one that fought and won the Civil War, and that the ascendency of the Democratic Party that has been shaped by the formulaic foundations laid by Franklin D. Roosevelt, which he himself learned from his distant cousin, Teddy. It was then codified by the forces of marketing, as suggested by the related rolling names of various Democratic presidents’ “New” and “Great” programs. These are akin to the heraldry of the ascendant Democratic ideas of the 20th century.

What I see happening with the Republican Party, then, is a hybrid shift of liberalism and libertarianism taking hold. Continue reading

Obama & The Feminist Chorus

OMG, I am hot under the collar right now. Have to get this out before I blow a blood vessel because if I stroke out, there goes P&L. We wouldn’t want THAT now would we? What am I hot about? The rising voices once again of the Obama Feminist Chorus. Internal polls for women voters must be making them sweat, because the only time we see this utter bullshit is when they get scared. I’m not even waiting for the morning to post this. I’m writing it up and going straight to press with it.

It all started when Sandra Fluke published this piece of claptrap on the HuffPoison today. Because, like the rest of us, she has very little professional opportunity even with her degrees, she’s pimping herself out to Obama’s campaign for the summer.

President Obama is in Denver today to outline the choice in this election and how it will affect every woman in America. This election decides whether years of struggle for basic health care rights that so many women fought for will be rolled back. I’ll be standing with the President in Colorado because I believe we must defend those rights — and that means reelecting a President who stands with us.

This choice is personal for all of us because it will impact each of our lives. But for me, it’s intensely personal. Earlier this year, I was publicly attacked by Rush Limbaugh and others for testifying before members of Congress. I had shared stories of my friends and other young women, stories no different from those I’ve heard from women who also worry about having the health care they need.

First of all, you don’t speak for me, you self-righteous little <censored!>. But I was content to leave my little meager comment on your article and leave it at that.

Then I got a little excited about this from the Romney campaign. “Yay!” I said. Smart move, I thought. A civilized approach to appealing to women, run by actual successful women, finally. And to put Ann herself in charge of it? “Aaaaaawesooooome,” I sang!

But then I saw this. WTF? I thought. 1950s? Really? That’s all you got? But I read it, because y’all know how much I just eat up written stuff about women. And it was a blood pressure spiker, for sure.

President Obama on Wednesday accused Republicans of wanting to take the nation “back to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century” during a campaign stop aimed at securing support from women.

Stumping on a two-day, four-stop swing through Colorado — a state where Obama needs strong turnout from women in November — the president sought to hammer home the benefits his healthcare law includes for families, such as free mammograms and contraception and cancer screenings with no copay.

But the president also emphasized the differences between him and his opponent, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who he said would take the Affordable Care Act and “kill it dead” on his first day in office.

And I thought, really Day one, huh? Then he’s DEFINITELY getting my vote. Next up was this:

Targeting Romney specifically, Obama said, “He said he’d ‘get rid of’ Planned Parenthood,” as the crowd booed.

And I went, “Planned Parenthood? Who CARES? NOTICE TO OBAMA & FEMINISTS: I have all the reproductive freedom I need. I need a good job! And economic security! Guess who can deliver that? ROMNEY.” My poor daughter, wondering why her mom was yelling at the computer screen. So then I read more Fluke, who was quoted thusly:

In brief remarks, Fluke credited Obama, who she said “defended my right to speak without being attacked.

“Mr. Romney could only say those weren’t the words he would have chosen,” she said. “Well, Mr. Romney, you’re not going to be the candidate we choose.” Fluke also chastised Romney, adding, “we know he’ll never stand up for us and he won’t defend the rights that generations of women have fought for.”

And of course, that’s when my blood pressure spiked. Because you know what? If Sandra Fluke doesn’t have the ovaries that ALICE PAUL had, she doesn’t deserve to be speaking for any women, let alone claiming to speak for all of us. You remember Alice freaking Paul, right? The one who spoke out despite the fact that she was attacked, verbally and physically, and finally delivered voting rights to the whole damned country because she was willing to do it? Yeah. Exactly. We don’t need some precedent set where women can say whatever they want and no one can address them back unless they do it in nice, flowery language. We had that: it was called The Victorian Age, fatherfuckers. And it got us jack shit.

Pardon my language, but that one really burns my buns. Continue reading

Cuomo Aide Professionally Stalks Woman Reporter

Liz Benjamin (via: capitaltonight.com)

The story broke last night at Buzzfeed, and of course I was up to catch it. You know it’s my job now to track and speak out against injustice against women. Meet Liz Benjamin. She’s a New York journalist who’s been working for a number of years, and now she’s Editor-in-Chief at a big New York political blog run by NY1 called State of Politics, and has a weekly show by the same name on YNN. The story, according to Buzzfeed, is that Cuomo aide Richard Bamberger (it’s always Dick, ain’t it?) assembled a 35-page dossier of Benjamin’s work that was construed as critical of the Gov. That’s bad enough, but then this is what happened to that dossier:

Bamberger said the document was prepared for a meeting last fall between Bamberger, generally viewed as the most media-friendly of Cuomo’s aides, and a top Cuomo confidant and campaign pollster, Andrew Zambelli; and senior executives at YNN, a Time Warner Cable subsidariy [sic] that provides local cable news programming to most of New York State, on which Benjamin hosts the public affairs show Capitol Tonight, also the title of her blog.

Bolding mine. The paragraph, like the article, is sloppily written (and filled with typos) and it’s necessary to parse what actually went down. He took this dossier to her bosses so he could go over and complain about every inch of it with them. To what purpose, we can’t know right now. Was it to get her fired? Or just reign her in? I’m calling this as a significant case of sexism and an example of why Obama and his brand of Democratic politics must be stopped in its tracks. Don’t think this was a case sexism, huh? Think maybe there are other dossiers on other journalists, some of whom might be male? We have a confession straight from the horse’s mouth:

Bamberger said that there are not files on other reporters. He also denied that the Benjamin document constituted a “file.”

So, if this is true, we have a case of a male-heavy, jocular New York governor’s team going after one woman in a sea of male journalists. How does that sit in your craw today? It’s sticking all up in mine.

Even if you aren’t convinced it’s sexism in action, you must admit that it’s a rather authoritarian, bully thing to do. And it paints Cuomo in a creepy light. His team is pushing back hard, with Bamberger simultaneously suggesting it’s a garbage file he threw away and that the leak of it is “dangerous.” Which is it, big boy? It’s only dangerous because you got caught. Continue reading

Pondering Nikki Haley & Contraception

The above clip has been blown out of proportion regarding the contraception comment. Look at everything she discusses, including the need for more women in politics! The idea that diversity has a positive effect on an organization is an argument of identity politics that has not been well accepted in conservative circles. It is starting to make inroads as populism continues to flourish on the right. It’s really kind of exciting to see it in action. But that’s not what gets the headlines. No, the focus is, once again, on contraception.

I think Haley’s right that women care about more than just reproductive issues, and that the economy and jobs and other issues are as important, if not more so. I know jobs are more important to me.

I’m 41 and at the end of my reproductive life cycle. I’ve been very happy with the options I’ve had to limit my pregnancies, successfully limiting my family to one child, and never requiring an abortion to do it. The options for women today are even better.

I don’t understand why we’re still talking about this issue, except as I understand it to be used as a cudgel with which to beat women into the submission of one side. The sad thing is, the focus on the conversation as it is just drives home what women are really denied: a good education that leads to real critical thinking, and the opportunity to reflect and come to their own opinion about things. People (parents, siblings, sometimes husbands, bosses, politicians, the “beauty” industry, psychologists, parenting experts, the medical establishment, etc) are always trying to make women’s minds up for them, and all too often women let them.