The Democrats Need A New Team, Not A Hero

So here we are in the middle of our postmortem after yesterday’s disaster yet some people are still not getting the reasons for what happened. I’ve already seen at least one person leap onto a soapbox promoting his chosen Democratic savior for 2016. This is the last thing we should be doing now.

The problem with this thinking is analogous to baseball. One losing team believes all it needs is a top slugger to turn it around. The successful team knows that a team of strong players in every position and a strong bench is what’s needed to win championships. To float one candidate’s name at this team shows the problem with the Democratic Party. If it refuses to learn the lessons of yesterday’s midterm elections, it will cease to even be relevant going forward from this point onward. Obama is the current big slugger and look at how well that’s worked out for us. Once your big slugger goes into a hitting slump he sinks the whole team if he’s the best and only big player they’ve got.

We don’t need ONE candidate to rally behind; we need a fundamental makeover of the Democratic Party in the way it chooses and runs candidates, and especially in how it communicates its message to the voters. We need to get liberal politicians with balls and vaginas of steel to stand up to the GOP, to refuse to approve right wing appointees to SCOTUS and to US District Courts, who will filibuster and otherwise refuse to vote for asinine legislation like budget compromises which create a “super congress” as well as the sequester which has proven to be a disaster for the poor and the middle class, politicians who will stand up to the NRA, ALEC, and people like the Kochs, who will stand up for women’s and for gay rights, and for immigration reform. We need a president who will not naively believe they can negotiate and compromise with Republicans while they are united in bringing down the presidency just because of the color and/or gender of the president. We need a president who will stare down the opposition with every Congressional Democrat standing behind him.

We need leadership at the top who will employ GOP and Fox-like tactics which hold up their politicians and policies to public ridicule, who can come up with simple one-line slogans and imagery to cement in even stupid voters’ heads that the GOP will surely lead them to ruin and the end of life as we know it, just like the GOP has successfully marketed the same thing about us to the voters.

So, right now the last thing we need is a Hillary or a Elizabeth or a Bernie in 2016. We need a real, actual, vital political party rebuilt from the bottom up which can engage and attract the millions of voters it lost after it decided to become Republican Light.

A home run slugger can’t win the ballgame if the team is losing and there’s no one on base.

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Stand Your Ground About To Stand Trial

Trayvon Martin was an ordinary, average 17 year old kid. Well, mainly average and ordinary. He was also black in a south Florida town, which some people think is a crime until itself. I would assume as most ordinary and average 17 year olds go, Trayvon never gave any thoughts to starting a movement to reverse insane NRA-written gun laws, or to strike back against the bigotry and discrimination hurled against most black people in the U.S. throughout every waking hour of their days. And in fact, Trayvon on his own didn’t start those twin movements. George Zimmerman did–by choosing to pump a 9mm slug into Trayvon’s chest under very shadowy and suspect circumstances. Trayvon Martin’s parents didn’t realize at the beginning that they were at the genesis of two national movements; they were just trying to get justice for their son. There was such pushback from the white power structures among the police and Florida state government that they soon found that the only way to get justice was to grow these two movements in the name of their son.

George Zimmerman was charged today with second degree murder and taken into police custody. He will stand trial. At a press conference, one of the Martin family attorneys, Benjamin Crump, said something I have been saying for weeks and I will paraphrase: the Stand Your Ground law will be on trial along with Zimmerman. This is the third national movement that Zimmerman created that night.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has found something he hates worse than Occupy Wall Street: Stand Your Ground. And this time, Bloomberg is standing on the right side of the law. He is calling for the repeal of these types of laws from every state which has put them in place. Van Jones and Color Of Change have mounted all-out campaigns against ALEC and its member companies who are responsible for funding the politicians who voted and signed these laws into place. Thanks to COC, companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation, and Kraft Foods have dropped out of ALEC, with more corporations to follow. The back has been broken on ALEC, and perhaps the NRA as well.

These Stand Your Ground laws have spread to 32 states like a foreign weed. Under this law, justifiable homicides in Florida from 12 a year to an average of 36. This means that either a lot of killings got a bum rap before this enlightened law, written by the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), or else this law is now being used as a license to murder, with the police and the courts unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

What Stand Your Ground allows is for someone to setup an entrapment situation where they lure someone into their home—or even the street—where they can then blow them away and successfully claim self defense. The Martin family is extremely lucky that Zimmerman had such delusions of law enforcement grandeur and was so stupid that he botched it up for himself, and now everyone else trying to disguise their murderous deed within the law.

George Zimmerman did not “stand his ground” according to Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. In the words of Dennis Baxley, the Republican state representative who carried the SYG bill through the Florida House, Zimmerman chose to “pursue and confront”.

There is an old adage: “the truth shall set you free”. George Zimmerman and his surrogates have now learned the opposite lesson: perpetuating a lie will land you in jail facing a second degree murder charge.

Win or lose the Zimmerman trial, the genie is out of the bottle now. After almost 150 years, black folks feel they’re more than entitled to full citizenship in this country with all the legal and social and professional rights it bestows. And people in general feel that they no longer want to be subject to laws that essentially make them living targets so that the NRA can get more guns and bullets sold which stuffing its special interest campaign coffers so full of cash that they have to shoot the lock off to get the damned treasure chest open.

So to all you white racists who hide your Confederate flag tramp stamps above your ass, or anyone who fancies themselves the thing standing between civilization and black anarchy, it’s time to face reality: this is 2012 and a black man is the President of the United States. Blacks are people, too, my friend. Not sure I can say the same about you.

The Republicans Are Protecting George Zimmerman

It doesn’t make sense that George Zimmerman has gotten so much protection from the Sanford Police, the Florida State Attorney, and the Republican mass media. They’re all fighting his arrest and eventual trial. Why would this be?

Zimmerman is just a loose cannon with a homemade police officer badge but with a very real 9mm semiautomatic handgun. He thought he saw a black male in a hoodie sneaking around the condo complex in the dark and immediately profiled him as acting weird and up to something.

Zimmerman got out of his SUV and pursued Trayvon Martin even though the real cop on the other end of the phone told him “We don’t need you to do that” and Zimmerman answered “Okay”.

Everyone on the Left and the Right is expounding on why Stand Your Ground does or does not apply in this case. But Zimmerman’s own attorney, Craig Sonner, has stated Stand Your Ground doesn’t apply in this case, as has State Rep. Dennis Baxley, who introduced the bill into the Florida House, and former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, who signed it into law. Rick Scott, current Florida governor, took State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, who personally told Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee to turn Zimmerman loose, off the case. Again I ask: why would this be?

The answer is clear: the Florida Republicans enacted Stand Your Ground into law. Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, which is what Stand Your Ground is all about. If the law doesn’t exist, maybe Zimmerman thinks twice before pulling out his gun. So it is being argued at the highest levels of the Republican Party that they have a serious exposure problem to this if  with this first high profile Stand Your Ground case, Zimmerman is arrested and goes to court. It won’t just be Zimmerman who’s put on trial but the Republican written, passed, and signed into law legislation. And this…is an election year.  And Jeb Bush, who signed the bill into law, is a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016. If Zimmerman is tried and convicted, Bush would be the “Republican Governor Who Killed Trayvon Martin”. Not exactly a campaign slogan he’d want to see on bumper stickers.

So, that’s why the Republicans along with their media surrogates have circled the wagons on this one. I think it’s possible the “temporarily stepped aside” Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee may have seen the political implications of a male black kid being killed in cold blood by a half Peruvian cop wannabe claiming protection under the law and communicated this concern to Wolfinger. I don’t know both men’s political affiliation but I could reasonably guess it’s Republican. But this would be why Wolfinger got so personally involved THAT NIGHT to the point of meeting with Lee to override the lead homicide detective’s recommendation to arrest Zimmerman on a manslaughter charge.

18 states have passed Stand Your Ground laws, some of these signed into law by Democratic governors who were cravenly pandering to conservative voters, or perhaps had received healthy campaign contributions from the NRA and ALEC-affiliated groups, or just didn’t have the guts to stand up to both. 31 states have passed the so-called “Castle doctrine” into law, which is what Stand Your Ground is derived from.

So, since both the NRA and ALEC funnel so much money—primarily to the Republican Party who introduced and passed the overwhelming majority of these bills, they could also be accused of being accessories to the killing of Trayvon Martin. Once again, not a good thing in an election year, especially with ALEC now bleeding corporate members and the loss of their dues.

This is why Fox, Limbaugh, and all the Republican surrogates are attempting to frame this case as a “liberal” and an “attempt at dividing the races” thing because those words their fans can understand. Most people who turn on right wing shows don’t know how to think logically and see the big picture: that’s exactly why they watch and listen to those shows—it’s done for them so they don’t have to.

George Zimmerman himself is small potatoes and no one on the Right gives a whit about him. It’s the Stand Your Ground law he symbolizes which is the Right Wing lightening rod. If this (literally) fatally flawed law goes down, then everyone who was responsible for getting it enacted—which are primarily Republicans up for re-election or will be in a couple of years—goes down with it. And believe me, there are quite a few Democrats who deserve to go down in flames with them.

Trayvon Martin And The Republican KISS Of Death

Republican voters believe in the KISS system, as in Keep It Simple, Stupid. First, because they’re all stupid. Being stupid, they need it kept simple.

Keep in mind that the rich and powerful who run the Republican Party are highly intelligent and understand how to convert complex issues into simple-to-remember talking points.  You don’t get that rich and that powerful by being stupid, unless you inherited your rich and powerfulness from a smart rich and powerful pater familias.

For Republican voters, they don’t have to remember that more domestic oil is being produced by the U.S. than ever before. They don’t have to write down that U.S. oil imports are down because consumption is at record lows, while U.S. oil exports are up. They don’t have to understand how oil speculators account for 85 cents of every dollar per gallon increase in the price of gasoline. Nope, for them, the Republican Party has distilled the entire issue into three little words: drill, baby, drill. One word is even repeated for greater simplicity.

Abortion and birth control are converted to “religious freedom”. Taxation laws, which are way beyond any Republican voter’s ability to comprehend, are boiled down to “economic freedom”. Anybody can understand freedom, right? Republicans are all about personal freedom, except if the freedom includes marrying who you want and getting an abortion if you choose to.

Simple is as simple does to the Forrest Gump Party. That’s why the “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws pushed nationwide by ALEC and the NRA have been so popular with Republicans. With the latter, a resident has the right to use lethal force to defend themselves against an intruder or anyone else who they “reasonably” perceive as presenting a hostile threat to their personal being—personal property not included. If they blow the perceived assailant away using the Castle Doctrine, it’s stay out of jail free card.  With the former, if someone “reasonably” feels they are in mortal danger, they can use lethal force on the perceived threat anywhere they perceive themselves to be in mortal danger: on a public street, or in the backyard of a condo in a gated community. They don’t have to turn around and run, they can pull out their concealed 9mm semiautomatic handgun and fire at will, or whatever the perceived assailant’s first name happens to be.

It’s perfect in its simplicity. The shooter/victim is also innocent; the shot/assailant is always guilty—and dead. No thought required because the law has been written so there doesn’t have to be any. These cases are notoriously hard to prosecute and get a conviction because the court can only hear evidence from the shooter that they felt their life was in danger. The deceased assailant always remains strangely silent, offering no testimony on their behalf. Case dismissed, if it even got that far.

But George Zimmerman of Sanford, FL, apparently won’t use “Stand Your Ground” as his defense for shooting Trayvon Martin. He’s going for self-defense. You see he was armed only with that 9mm semiautomatic handgun against Trayvon’s bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. Trayvon could have opened that bag of Skittles and poured it down Zimmerman’s throat, causing him to possibly choke. And that bottle of iced tea? That would smart something fierce if Zimmerman were hit upside the head with it. Just think of the abject fear Zimmerman felt when trailing the kid after 911 distinctly told him not to. If he had seen that bag of Skittles gripped at Trayvon’s waistband, he had no way of knowing if that bag were empty or if it was loaded with Skittles. And he wasn’t about to take any chances.

Stand Your Ground makes it easy for cops to not do their duty, too. A dead male black teenager walking alone through a primarily white gated community at night? Undoubtedly he represented a perceived threat to somebody and it’s a good thing a decent and honorable Neighborhood Watch captain stood his ground and dispatched this menace to white-owned private property. The law made it unnecessary to test Zimmerman for drugs and alcohol or to even verify that he actually wasn’t officially part of any Neighborhood Watch group. Had Zimmerman actually been part of Neighborhood Watch group, he would have known that Rule One is you can’t carry firearms and Rule Two is you don’t stand your ground in front of a perceived assailant. You call 911 and let the police stand THEIR ground.

Since Stand Your Ground requires no thought or moral considerations, the Sanford Police Chief, the Mayor, the City Manager, and the City Attorney thought nothing of sweeping the whole incident under the rug and going on about their business. George Zimmerman apparently thought nothing of the 17-year-old life he’d taken when he “reasonably” perceived his own life to be in danger from a black male teenager packing a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.

Drill, baby, drill. Shoot, baby, shoot. Very simple to remember. And one word is repeated for even greater simplicity.

The GOP War On The Year Of The Woman

In what some (including me) are calling “The Year Of The Woman”, which is also an election year, the GOP is throwing everything they’ve got at what they perceive as the poor defenseless females.

Why on earth—did I say this is an election year?—what they be doing this? Witness these assaults:

Rush Limbaugh calls an average young woman both a slut and prostitute on his national radio show. And the hits just keep on coming.

The attempt in Virginia to push transvaginal ultrasound probes up a pregnant woman’s woo-woo.

The Blunt Amendment which would allowed employers to not cover birth control services and medications in their health plans if it offended their moral or religious sensibilities (corporations are people too, my friend).

The Tennessee anti-abortion bill that would make public everything an anti-abortion terrorist would need to know about where to find the evil doctor and patient who committed the dastardly act.

The Arizona anti-birth control bill—sponsored by a Republican woman legislator who obviously loathes herself for being a Repubican woman legislator and is taking it out on others of her gender—would force female employees to prove to their bosses that they need contraception for medical conditions. The men’s version of this legislation is surely to follow anon.

These are just the ones that quickly come to mind; the nation is awash right now in Republican introduced and passed legislation that tells women their bodies are not their own but belong to the Man—literally.

So, this raises the question-did I mention that this is an election year?—why is the GOP placing women’s rights in a killzone when it’s women who will determine who will be (re-)elected President this year? I mean, if you’re running for Homecoming Queen, do you tell all the girls to vote for you because they’re too ugly to win anyway? If you’re competing to become a cooking show star, do you tell the judges that they’re not competent to judge the imaginary food at your 5-year-old daughter’s tea party? If you’re Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul and you’re running for President, do you tell women that not only abortion but birth control itself is immoral and shouldn’t be paid for by federal tax dollars? You say that to a group making up over 50% of the electorate? Women both register to vote and actually vote in larger numbers than men.

In other words, in all these situations, do you piss off the very people you need to vote you into the job you want? For Republicans, the answer to this question is an emphatic yes. But why? This is obviously a nationally coordinated attack on women because there aren’t enough smart Republicans in all those states to come with bills like these on their own. This hasn’t been confirmed, but if I shine the special secret fluorescent light on all this legislation, the fingerprints of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) are all over it because ALEC’s stock in trade is setting the national agenda for the Republican Party to be implemented at the state level. But, and I repeat—why?

One theory is that the Republicans see this as The Year Of The Republican Party since they’ve worked so hard to foster hatred and dissent against everything that is President Obama, including President Obama himself. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the American public that holding Obama to a single term is Job One for the Republicans. He doesn’t want to be made out a liar in public, does he? That would tend to make the American Public mistrust anything and everything a Republican says. His old Kentucky home might not even re-elect him next time around.

In this Year Of The Republican Party, goes this theory, they see this year as their best shot to recapture The White House and get all this women’s rights-trampling legislation enacted into law. They’re betting their entire wad on one roll of the dice. It’s “Guys and Dolls” time and the Party is Sky Masterson.

Problem is, the dice are loaded. At this point in the Republican Presidential Candidate Comedy Cavalcade, NO ONE likes ANY of the candidates. Mitt Romney remains the front runner, a position he’s doing his damnedest to lose. Rick Santorum is like a runner attempting to use “drafting” to stay right in back of Romney in a track race, only someone (like himself) keeps moving the finish line further away from him. The remaining two are like punch-drunk prizefighters out on their feet but not yet fallen to the canvas for the down and out count.

So, this is the War Of The Year Of The Republican Party Against The Year Of The Woman. The casualties are mounting on the Republican side, mainly because they didn’t figure on The Woman forming a coalition with the Democrats and Independents. Do provide support for the Woman’s side in this War, we might have to dust off the old Southeast Asia Domino Theory that was employed to sell the Vietnam War.  If we allow women’s rights to fall, it will be followed by the fall of everyone’s rights to government-funded medical care, Social Security, unemployment benefits, education, environmental regulation, fraud protection, voter protection, civil rights protection—a whole bunch of protections.

Women’s rights is the beach head the Republicans have chosen to land on and attempt to secure. It’s a good thing they always get their history wrong. They’re not the Allied Forces, and women are not the Third Reich. If anything, it’s the other way around.