Saturday, March 14, 2009

Split in America

I want to ask all of you to think about how to heal the split in America. I might not have time to answer every response--there are 441 of you on my email list, and I know most of you, plus many of you send out my stuff to others--but you know I will read every one carefully. 

Here, below, is a perfect example of the split, a letter to the SF Chronicle by my friend Karl and a response to it. Please read them both and then think about how we can bring these two sides together. 


Karl's letter:

Isn't it about time for GOP apologies?

As Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele falls all over himself to apologize to the real leader of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, I think it is a good time to ask the Republicans to go one further and apologize to Americans.

Apologizing for such crimes as lying, and starting a war based on some of those lies, torturing, phone tapping, judge fixing, not to mention offshoring our jobs, making the way for fraud on Wall Street, and otherwise ruining the economy.

It was just a few days ago that Limbaugh was called out for being incendiary and when he asked for them, the apologies even came on his radio program.

So we can wait a few days, now that you Republicans know that America wants you to apologize. You know where to find us.

Karl Hodges

Response to Karl's letter:

Here's a Republican apology

Karl Hodges wants Republicans to apologize for America's problems. He is correct; the GOP owes America an apology, and also a promise to make amends.

As chairman of the San Francisco Republican Assembly, I apologize to every man, woman and child in America. We Republicans failed to do our job to defeat the most unaccomplished and unqualified presidential candidate in history. We Republicans expected the media to expose a glib community organizer from Chicago who never held a job. We apologize for failing to convince rational adults that mindless slogans will not protect the life, liberty and property of the American people and the free world.

America's investors know this president is using the present crisis to dismantle capitalism. That's why the stock market is crashing and Americans are losing their retirement savings. America's adversaries: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and al Qaeda know this president opposed liberation of 25 million Iraqis, and heads the party that whined, "this war is lost." That's why the world is a more dangerous place.

But an apology is not enough; the GOP also must make amends for what it failed to do in November 2008. Therefore, we Republicans will work harder to ensure that this president fails to impose European socialism and second-rate health care on America. We will also tell every American what this president never will tell: "We will pay any price, bear any burden to assure the survival of liberty," and with no apologies.

Mike DeNunzio

Let me just add this, now that you've read both letters: The atom bomb that ended our war with Japan (whether it was right to use it or not) was not a Democrat or a Republican atom bomb, it was an AMERICAN atom bomb. With the economy tanking, we're probably in more immediate trouble than we were in during World War II, and yet America has become so divided that we're almost crippled when it comes to dealing with the problem. 

Please comment below, or send me an email.


13 comments:

  1. George Lakoff could have a field day with these phrases ("European socialism [=] second-rate health care"; "life, liberty and property"; "That's why the stock market is crashing and Americans are losing their retirement savings," etc., Iraq liberation). Republican-speak? One thing I get from this comment is that even the Republicans disagree, which is why the writer needs to apologize. If the Republicans hadn't had a schism, and perhaps if Palin hadn't been chosen, they might have elected McCain. I agree with other writers that the cycle of capitalism, Growth followed by Collapse, isn't sustainable. Perhaps in the Eco/Green/Sustainable movement, there can be healing. If we can only have prosperity through using up our resources, then it's probably the wrong kind of prosperity.

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  2. I don't think bringing these two sides together should be the goal. The goal should be to see that there are many different sides with many different opinions and that in a democracy we need to respect all those sides without respecting illegal acts -- torture, Bernie Madoff, bombs in shoes.

    There are a thousand reasons why our economy is not in good shape and it isn't any one group's fault. Perhaps, too, what an in shape economy is defined as needs to be looked at again. We have put convenience above sustenance. We are probably the fattest nation on earth. Some lean years probably wouldn't hurt. Maybe some economizing will turn into some enviromentalizing! Americans work hard. We work as hard as we are fat. But what are we working for?

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  3. I can sum it up in one sentence: Americans are dumber than they were 30 years ago.

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  4. If you have Any idea of how the IMF works, you are going to know exactly what's happening here - - this time it's OUR turn to get raped and pillaged.
    It won't do any good to try and accomodate "the Republicans" because They are just pawns being played by people who know how to pull their chains with their favorite shibboleths like: "this president opposed liberation of 25 million Iraqis" !!!
    Is there anyone with brain so thoroughly washed that they can, without laughing all the way to the bank, compare that statement with the truth - - Iraq was to be plundered, and the United States' Treasury was to be plundered - - Period, full barking STOP!!!
    If "Martians" came into the US and wrecked the infrastructure, got the various religious denominations to slaughter each other until they segregated themselves while driving the most educated and capable people out of the country, all the while shovelling buckets of money into their space ship while pretending to "rebuild" the wreckage, and establishing a legacy of laws that allowed the ongoing plunder of our resources - - if THAT'S what you mean by "liberation" - - well then, Jackson, I caint argue with you a bit.
    Yep, we Liberated the smoking Hell outa the place.
    But let's not pat the Dems on Their backs - - because about 97 percent of 'em would just Squish if we did! A more thoroughly spineless bunch of politicians couldn't be found this side of a convention of banana slugs. Stampeded into passing the Patriot Act unread, giving Bush and Company permission and funds to follow their long-planned slime-dissolving of truth, the Constitution, and the American Way.
    How pitiably few stood up to say This shall not Stand!
    Which brings us back to the IMF - - they ALL knew, Dems and Repubs alike, or at the very least Should have known, that Good men (and women absolutely), Honest men, were trying to work for the good of their populations, around the globe. And this was in conflict with those who wished to exploit those populations. And for that they were removed, overthrown, slaughtered.
    If you don't know what I'm talking about you Hereby have two choices, only: One, admit you do not want to know, or, Two: watch less than an hour on YouTube; watch Zeitgeist Addendum 2, then 3, and then 4. There's more, of course, but that should do it.
    Here, cut paste this link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YurhFvPy14 - - or search "zeitgeist addendum 2" if the link doesn't work.
    After you've spent about ten minutes each with those three slices of reality - - OUR HISTORY, history WE ALL LIVED THROUGH!! - - then we can talk.
    Because if you don't know that history, you won't be able to see it happening to you.
    And, incidentally, anyone you love.
    Time to face up, folks.

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  5. I still haven't gotten a workable ANSWER to how to heal the split, but here is a great explanation of what the split IS, sent to me by an intelligent young woman I know:

    "What I have observed here are two separate views entirely. One is a view of hope, support, and a spirit of togetherness; a willingness to do whatever it takes to right the wrongs and solve the problems.

    "The other view is one of shifting of responsibility, negativity, and name calling.

    "When I was a kid on the playground in grammar school, the kids who did these things were called bullies."

    She goes on to say that we progressives have to lead by example, and to stay unified. That sounds like PART of the answer, but I wish there were a way to speed up the process, like when the town marshall makes a moving speech and turns away a lynch mob.

    There used to be a tradition in this country of listening to a good logical speech and changing one's mind. But now people are loyal to their team, no matter how many Iraqi and Palestinian children it kills, no matter how many Americans it puts out of work.

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  6. What a way to go, Karl. What ForMike DeNunzio wrote is a very typical of the Neocon Conservative mentality: Shameless and irresponsible. ForMike DeNunzio is not too old to forget about most problems that the current administration is facing are from the Bush's administration which it just left only three months ago. Of course, ForMike Denuzio was the part of the problem, and the worst is that he failed to be "on track" about what he has done. Neither to say, his letter just prove it.

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  7. I honestly do not see a way to bring the Republican wrong sided approach into the fold if they all "think" like De Nunzio. It is a mental problem that has been called lizard brained.

    Their spokesperson is in denial and simply is lying. That's what Republicans do, they lie. I don't put up with that from my kids or my employees and I won't from them.

    If Obama is unqualified, then so was Bush. Except Bush was also a failure at most of what he did in life. De Nunzio talks about life, liberty and property, yet his party has worked against all three for the people of the US and the world. They caused death to the soldiers, a million Iraqis and destruction of property. Their failed fiscal policies cost ALL of us some of our property. His party also successfully got rid of many of our rights of free speech and privacy.

    DeNunzio blames the Bush Recession on Obama and calls government intervention socialism. Why does he continue to drive on our socialist roads? And pay attention to the socialist road signs?

    He fails to acknowledge that most of the world abhors us for our imperialist occupations based on lies. And that statistics show how much more terrorism has occurred since our Iraq fiasco. He also fails to note that most all European countries health care is BETTER than ours for less cost.

    So De Nunzio is a downright liar and has NO credibility. And he is STILL defending the worst president of all time because of his lizard brain. And we are supposed to make amends with these slimewad lying scum? I think not.

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  8. Dave, I really like that you bring up the concept of lizard brains!

    A friend of mine settles on FEAR as being the key to the split. I've just started to notice this idea cropping up lately. For example, a good email response on my blog says just this: "We need to point out the underpinnings of conservative thought: FEAR. It is FEAR and FEAR alone that motivates conservative thinking."

    I hope this subject continues to get play in the media, because I think conservatives fear being fearful, and they might adjust their beliefs a bit if they start to realize that most of the world sees them as cowards.

    Oh, and a few writers, including you Dave, are saying that conservatives are allowing the reptilian part of their brains to rule their intellect.

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  9. OK..I happen to know some lizards who would be very upset to be compared to certain Republicans..

    On another note, do these insanely blinded by greed heads of the Republican party, think it was not noticed that they tried to take the Hillary votes by putting a female (didn't matter which female) into the VP spot? Did they think women were that stupid?

    Or that they put a black head of the Republican party(unless it is actually the drugged addled gasbag Limbaugh), when the president elected was Black?

    Come on Republicans, it would be so much easier if you just tried to help solve the problems that the last President you selected, left us.

    regards,
    Zuni Spirit

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  10. In response to your definition of the split Jeff... "What I have observed here are two separate views entirely. One is a view of hope, support, and a spirit of togetherness; a willingness to do whatever it takes to right the wrongs and solve the problems.

    "The other view is one of shifting of responsibility, negativity, and name calling.

    "When I was a kid on the playground in grammar school, the kids who did these things were called bullies."

    I think this is how most Democrats (progessives) see the split. From what I see here on a daily basis on the Hill, I believe the conservatives see the split as a true difference in policy.

    The GOP truly believes in cutting taxes for those in society who make the most money because they will argue that they are the largest portion of spenders in the economy.

    I think it really depends on how you look at statistics... most of the nation's wealth is contained in the top 5% of the U.S. population. This is a fact. Another fact... the poor are stronger in numbers, meaning that there are more of them. However, a large portion of these people are not registered to vote. Reasons for this are: lack of transportation choices, cynicism in what the government can actually do to help them, citizenship status... I could go on.

    So, I think the fundamental thing we should look at is not how to heal this political split, but how to compromise on policies... This is what the Hill has strayed from. I talk to veterans who have been on the Hill or been lobbying the Hill for more than 20 years and they note that the partisanship has never been as bad as it is today. I do believe this has a lot to do with how Gingrich handled things in the 90's and then how the Bush administration claimed executive priviledge for 2 terms. (Although, he had staunch critics in his own party as well.)

    We need to ask Americans what they believe is fundamentally good public policy for our country. Some say this is done through voting, after all we do live in a demoractic republic, however I would argue that the voting process is mired by so much politics and bitterness that it's hard to extract each candidates policies; they become awfully muddled.

    Let's take Healthcare as an example... Pelosi is cheering the fact that SCHIP was signed and now every child will be covered. The GOP argued that SCHIP was a lousy idea that would waste taxpayer dollars because a third of those children now mandatorily covered by SCHIP would lose their better, private insurance. Frankly, I think both side had it wrong on this one. Americans should be given a choice on healthcare coverage. (And for the record I would pick the private insurance.) Once all taxpayers had the chance to examine what was right for their family, they could choose...

    But, the left and the right just get so caught up their idea being the only idea because it's a Democratic of Republican idea. And the ironic thing is that Congressmen like Ron Paul and Dennis Kuchinich are laughed at on a daily basis for their "extremism", but you put those two together and they come up with some pretty brilliant stuff. (Look at their voting records and they are often the same, although their ideas on economic principles do differ a bit.)

    Instead, we have Pelosi, Hoyer, McConnell, Cantor, Boehner, Clyburn, Reid running the show. The ultimate politicians. And yes, I would include President Barack Obama in this group. At the risk of being yelled at on this blog to paraphrase Reverend Jeremiah Wright, 'Barack Obama is a politician and he will say what he has to in order to get elected.'

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  11. Lindsey,

    You wrote: "In response to your definition of the split Jeff... 'What I have observed here are two separate views entirely . . . .'"

    Those were someone else's views (about conservatives being like schoolyard bullies), but I do pretty much agree with them.

    You write: "I believe the conservatives see the split as a true difference in policy."

    I agree with you there. They don't THINK they're being bullies, but just that they're acting reasonably to put the USA in the best position possible. However, there has been a lot written lately, including in my latest blog (read the great article there by Richard Hamilton-Gibbs), about how their choices are based on fear.

    You are a natural politician, and it's super useful for some humans to BE politicians, to be expert at compromise. But the last 8 years have been nothing short of war crimes and crimes against those of us Americans who are not rich. We were watching true dysfunctional behavior, and yet the neocons and conservatives could come up with seemingly well-reasoned ideas to back up their policies, just like Joseph McCarthy did.

    My question, Lindsey, is WHY do they do it? Why does someone try to defend O.J. Simpson? The fact that McCain and Palin were so very close to winning the election and having control of our nuclear arsenal shows nothing short of mental illness on a mass level in our culture. It would be just a tiny bit more strange if people had voted for Marge Simpson instead of Sara Palin. Palin was basically a cartoon.

    You go on to talk about the logic of, for example, tax breaks for the rich. And I agree with your point, that because the rich have and generate most of the money, this could be a reasonable policy. Your reasoning here is statistically irrefutable.

    But it's also statistically irrefutable that we're either on the brink of or already starting to experience what some are calling The Very Great Depression, and this based on Reagan/Bush policies. So there was method in their madness but there was also madness in their methods!

    You say that "the fundamental thing we should look at is not how to heal this political split, but how to compromise on policies..."

    OK, I'm down with that, as long as the compromises are not insane. England started its official pullout from Iraq today and they'll be completely out in about three months. That's what WE should be doing.

    You write: "We need to ask Americans what they believe is fundamentally good public policy for our country." OK, but there's a little problem with that. 46 percent of American voters are either mentally ill or stupid or both, and what they believe is that women shouldn't be able to control their own bodies, that gays shouldn't marry, that the Bible was written by God, and that health care should be profit-based and only available for those who can afford it. How bizarre that our military protects us all from human invaders, but our health care system only protects the rich from microscopic invaders. For example, little children must go to school with ear infections and parents must go to work with serious medical problems simply because they can't afford medical care.

    And our automakers have been busted by having to pay for what should automatically, in our small world where disease can attack just like an army, be our right, just as it's our right to all be protected by our armies.

    You're right--the people with real solutions (and I agree that Kucinich and Ron Paul both have them) are marginalized while the partisan players rule the stage.

    "At the risk of being yelled at on this blog to paraphrase Reverend Jeremiah Wright, 'Barack Obama is a politician and he will say what he has to in order to get elected.'"

    I don't think you'll get yelled at for that here. About half the people on my 400-member mailing list are fairly conservative, and the reason ALL of them are on this list is because one time or another each of these people has sent me some interesting, intelligent communication. And at this point in time, any thinking person has to be wondering what the hell Obama is up to.

    Thanks for your comments. I sure enjoy them!

    Jeff

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  12. Thanks for your comments Jeff! I feel the need to respond this lovely morning in D.C. as well because I saw Governor and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine speak last night and he made some good points.

    I agree with most of what you respond to in my comments except for a key phrase, let me extract it.

    You say that "the fundamental thing we should look at is not how to heal this political split, but how to compromise on policies..."

    OK, I'm down with that, as long as the compromises are not insane. England started its official pullout from Iraq today and they'll be completely out in about three months. That's what WE should be doing.

    "You write: "We need to ask Americans what they believe is fundamentally good public policy for our country." OK, but there's a little problem with that. 46 percent of American voters are either mentally ill or stupid or both, and what they believe is that women shouldn't be able to control their own bodies, that gays shouldn't marry, that the Bible was written by God, and that health care should be profit-based and only available for those who can afford it. How bizarre that our military protects us all from human invaders, but our health care system only protects the rich from microscopic invaders. For example, little children must go to school with ear infections and parents must go to work with serious medical problems simply because they can't afford medical care."

    I think we have to step back and say to ourselves... why do some Americans believe what they believe? And are they wrong for their opinions or do they just have different opinions? Last night Governor Kaine talked about how in our generation Democrats need to be the problem solvers and the unifiers. To hear a politician, let alone the DNC Chairman, say that I had to say 'Halleluia!' And here's why... Are some people out there not as exposed to the world? Yes. Are some people out there raised to believe certain things? Yes. Fundamentally though... these people do have free will. No one is brainwashing them to believe what they believe. The way they were raised or the way they experienced personal things, have led them to believe the way they do today. Yes, some are driven by fear. Others are driven by religion. Lots are driven by compassion. Some are driven by money. These things don't make their ideas, beliefs, thoughts wrong. I ask, who are we to judge that?

    In short, I think that by saying 46% of the population is stupid, ignorant and unaware of what they are doing is a bit extreme. And frankly, it's very Rovian. Karl Rove's strategy was to isolate and conquer. Frankly, I want to be a problem solver and a unifier. Like Kaine said last night, we need to be the unifiers, not the dividers. Though we may disagree with others, we need to listen. If we don't listen to them, they won't ever listen to us. And frankly, the GOP isn't ready to listen to us because they are in denial about their party and don't have any unique great ideas that are transformative to bring to the table. (See my last comment where I mention Kuchinich and Paul actually working together... how cool would that be?)

    Governor Kaine has come under recent scrutiny from pro-choice groups for signing a bill allowing a novelty license plate to be sold through the Commonwealth's DMV that says on the bottom of it, 'Choose Life.' His response to the criticism is that it's an expression of free speech and for him not to sign it would be unconstitutional. Frankly, though I lean pro-choice, I agree with him wholeheartedly. And if pro-choice advocates want to put out a novelty plate with a saying of theirs on it and it passes both legislative bodies, he'll sign that one too.

    I'm not a politician, but I do hang around them quite a bit. I think that if we automatically dismiss others' ideas then we are just as bad as they are.

    And to end, I'd like to comment on Iraq and Afghanistan because I know many Democrats are frustrated that we aren't out yet. The bottom line is: we should have never gone in. But, unfortunately we can't turn back the clock. I remember once when I spilt finger paint on the carpet and my Mom was furious. She could clean up as best as she could, but there was still a little stain. We can clean things up in Iraq as best as we can and leave a little stain or we can just leave and let the stain set and stay there forever. That is what we call living in a permanent world of fear. Frankly, President Obama has seen the intel reports. Regular americans haven't. Trust the President... he's doing what's right for you and your family's safety.

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  13. Lindsey,

    I like your stain analogy about Iraq! And I do, for the most part, trust Obama, mainly because he is such a quantum leap above his competition in the recent election--we were an eyelash away, for a while there, from having a very ignorant, dangerous vice president and a violent, short-tempered president--and I just count my lucky stars that we even HAVE Obama.

    Robert Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast reported 12 million stolen Democratic votes in their Rolling Stone article right before the election. Since we're a democratic republic, and since 60 percent of the people are happy with Obama, and since there is no popular movement brewing or new potential leader gaining in popularity, Obama is IT.

    OK, now about my statement about 46 percent of American voters being mentally ill or stupid. That was kind of a dumb thing for me to say, at least in this context, as a comment related to my own blog entry about HEALING the split. Instead, with statements like this, I'm increasing animosity!

    I want to explain myself a little bit here. Part of me is like Obama, a normal guy who wants to get on with life, make reasonable compromises, live and let live. He has been an incredibly good example to me. Hiring Hillary is something I would never have done, but now that he's done it, it seems brilliant, and now I want to learn to operate that way.

    Since America IS its people, we DO have to deal with all of its people even when they seem to be at odds with what we think is best for our survival as individuals and as a nation.

    But another part of me is an extraterrestrial scientist. Since I was in my 20's, I've been calling myself an "alien sociologist," and trying to teach myself how to see things from that vantage point. Now you yourself say that people, even the religious ones, have free will. I have the greatest sympathy for children whose thought process is abused by being taught idiotic, illogical religious dogma by trusted adults. But I, too, consider them, once they make it to adulthood, people with free will, people responsible for their actions.

    Now, if an alien sociologist looks at Bush's ban of the most useful kind of stem cell research, the alien has no choice but to conclude that this action was MORE primitive and more harmful than when the Catholic church imprisoned and threatened to torture Copernicus and Galileo.

    Same goes for his ban on condoms for family planning organizations in Africa. This was MORE harmful, more primitive, more insane than the imprisonment of Copernicus and Galileo. In some of the African countries Bush "helped," AIDS actually increased because of his denial of economic aid and condom shipments to family planning organizations receiving aid from the United States that even mentioned abortion as a legal reproductive health option.

    OK, so the nice, normal Jeff (don't laugh!) can hang with people who believe that the creator of the Universe wrote a book, that Earth is 4,000 years old, etc., and even see the good in them. But the alien sociologist Jeff stands AGHAST at them.

    Have you studied the witch trials in Europe? Tens of thousands of women were tried, tortured, and killed as witches. In Salem, Massachusetts, the most learned men of the town pronounced cruel sentences of torture and death on women they deemed to be witches. And in 2008, we had a president banning stem cell research and condoms. In the context of how incredibly much more knowledge we had access to compared to the people who participated in the Salem Witch Trials, it makes the crimes of the modern 46 percent (voting for Bush a second time and then Palin) seem that much more horrible. Making life and death decisions (Iraqi lives, not their own!) based on a medieval mindset is just plain wrong, just like it was in Salem, Massachusetts.

    So part of me is very freaked out and scared of these peasants with pitchforks and torches, who almost elected a man who wanted to nuke Iran and a fundamentalist "Christian" woman who wanted creationism taught in schools and who believed that we should drill baby drill to solve the energy crisis. I want to shame these people, to let them know that we see their cowardice. I think that one of the things these fear-based people are most afraid of is being perceived as the cowards they are.

    People in our culture are really intent on being as cool as possible. I remember in the early 70's when even Republican businessmen started wearing long sideburns, fat belts, and bellbottom jeans. I'm just hoping that somehow the fools who support retro, dangerous political policy will start to conform a bit to the people who are light years more cool than they are.

    Thanks for taking the time to write another great comment.

    Jeff

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