Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Consequences of the Tea Party

Back in 2009, April 15 to be specific, I wrote a blog describing Fox News invovement in the Tea Party as a modern form of yellow journalism. If you remember your journalism history (thank you Calder Pickett), you'll know that newspaper competition in the 1890s was fierce. Pulitzer and Hearst essentially created news to sell newspapers.
Fast forward and we see the consequence of those 2009 tea parties in the shape of Donald Trump. At that time, we had a new President, a black President with a Muslim-sounding middle name, a President born in Hawaii the validity of whose birth certificate was questionned by a businessman named Donald Trump. We had a Senate leader, Mitch McConnell who openly said his purpose was to assure that said President would be a one-termer. Well, Senator McConnell failed in his purpose, but he has remained a thorn in the President's side -- most recently refusing advise & consent to the President's Supreme Court nominee, citing non-existent precident.
Since 2009, we've come into a time when a lie repeated sufficiently is treated as truth, when shutting down the government is an accepted means of law-making even if it damages our bond rating, when obstruction is a way of life in the U.S. Congress, and the House has voted more than 50 times to repeal landmark legislation governing the healthcare industry. We've come from the brink of economic depression to relative financial security. In 2009, the unemployment rate was in the double digits; right now it is below 5%. But one area that hasn't been great has been that the new jobs created are low-paying jobs. And that may play into the current political nightmare that is the Republican party, a situation they caused in blocking as many bills from Pres. Obama as they could.
In 2009, Tea Partiers protested big in business, government, national debt and taxes. They detested the elite and were furious that the governent bailout to bring the country out of the recession helped Wall Street and automakers without helping regular citizens. So it is a bit ironic that they celebrated the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United which held that corporations had the same right as average citizens to influence elections.
The Republican Party welcomed the energy of the Tea Partiers, but, 2012, the bloom was off the rose because the party stalwarts began to see that they couldn't control them. By the 2014 elections, the GOP was running their candidates against Tea Party candidates and winning. I think the mainstream GOP thought they had figured out how to have the best of Tea Party energy without their volatility. I don't think they understood the firestorm that was coming.
After years of repeated lies being treated as truth (birthers, Muslim President, PPACA death panels, etc.), the rank and file in the Republican party learned to accept grandious statements of dubious validity. That made it easy for that birther businessman Donald Trump to make grand promises with little chance of implementation like the beautiful wall on the US/Mexican border with Mexico paying for it, repealing the PPACA and replacing it with a wonderful plan that was just a return to the old way but with insurance sold across state lines, deporting millions of Mexican undocumented workers, and special badges for Muslims living in the US. Some would say his biggest unrealistic promise has to do with bringing American jobs back to America. While much, maybe most, of his manufacturing is done in China and Mexico, his followers believe that he will bring jobs back by imposing tariffs on foreign manufactured goods.
The Tea Party fomented the outrage, the GOP conditioned them to believe lies, and Donald Trump has capitalized on the situation. Now the leaders of the GOP are expressing panic that they have an uncontrolled candidate headed to the top of the party ticket. They are talking brokered convention, alternative delegate counts, etc. What they do not seem to understand is that they have the candidate they built. As you sow, so shall you reap. Time for them to reap the onsequences of the Tea Party Express of 2009.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

At war with an Ideology

I usually try to limit my posts to things about which I have some knowledge or about which I have read substantiated articles. This post, however, is more of a wondering and I have absolutely no idea if this has merit.
I'm wondering if the old way of responding to an international event, attack, whatever, is just that, an antiquated response. Through the years, our enemies have been countries or political entities, distinct bodies we could attack, conquer or subjugate, and cause to back down and behave in ways we deem acceptable as was the case in WW I & WW II, the Korean Conflict, etc. It was even, probably, the case in Vietnam even though "our side" didn't win. We knew who were at war with -- Germany, Italy, Viet Cong. We could shoot them, bomb them, kill them, etc.
Today’s enemy is ideological. They have no geopolitical boundaries, no readily identifiable location, not even a reliable way to isolate them. When we attack them with conventional warfare, the response is not conventional warfare, not even the counterinsurgency we saw in Vietnam. It is what we have come to see as seemingly random terrorist attacks.
It is becoming apparent that what we have been doing with rather conventional warfare in Iraq & Afghanistan cannot stop this new enemy. Taking off our shoes and swabbing our hands at TSA airport checkpoints does not stop this enemy. All our current techniques are no more successful against ideology than it was in preventing Ebola entering the U.S. While the ideology has some connection to a particular religion, banning that religion from our country, or any country, cannot stop it and can inflame it as well as being every bit as dreadful as Japanese internment camps or the Holocaust. And, because it is ideological, but not descriptive of the entire religion or an entire country, we can't blanket bomb the entire Middle East and eliminate the ideology.
So nothing we have done or proposed has been effective. If anything, these ideas have fed the hatred and violence. Now, the hard question. What can we do? If I understand, the ideology at play is similar to the Christian Dominionist ideology that Jesus cannot return until Christians have control of the socio-political systems of the world and return to a literal interpretation of scripture, Allah will not be satisfied until Islam with a literal interpretation of the Quran is the religion and law throughout the world. At this time, the Dominionists are approaching their ideological goal politically. The Islamic fundamentalists are taking a violent approach to conquer. I don't have the answer. I don’t agree with literal interpretation of any scripture. I don’t see violence as an answer any more than I believe we need to conquer. I'm looking for a way to end the situation.