Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I swear that the American People as a whole suffer from collective ADD. In fact, it might even be a kind of ADHD when you consider the kind of crazy stuff people are getting into recently.

First of all, you've got people who don't seem to remember the circumstances surrounding the presidential election of 2008. They don't remember the collapsing economy, the failing housing market, and the "bailouts" that were passed by the Bush administration to shore up the economy, and which were based on lies about a complete financial collapse and allowed CEO's to give themselves huge bonuses.

Second, people don't seem to remember the dire consequences of deregulation and cutting taxes. It is an irony and hypocrisy of the first degree that the conservative movements claim that tax cuts for the top wage-earners in this country will help the lower class (trickle-down economics) but that they are also opposed to re-distribution of wealth (trickle-down economics). Oh, and by the way, trickle-down economics is an essential part of capitalism, meaning capitalism is founded on re-distribution of wealth. You can't have one without the other.

Thirdly, people don't seem to realize their own hypocrisy or the hypocrisy of what other people are saying to them. They seem to believe that the president has done nothing, has squandered the country in the pursuit of ending a recession (that was perpetuated by the Bush administration), and don't seem to remember the predictions of just about every major economist two years ago: that it would take at least a decade to turn the economy around and that the markets would get worse before they got better no matter what anyone did. This much is absolutely obvious and logical and yet no one cares because things should be done IMMEDIATELY. Never mind that we have gotten back all the jobs, started turning the stock market around, and passed much-needed health care and infrastructure reform.

Finally, people don't seem to see that those who oppose these new programs and the president are the architects of the very inadequacy and incompetence they are complaining about! The GOP and conservatives are talking about cutting funding for health care reform as they have cut funding for medicare in the past. They want to do away with most education funding (hence the continuation of NCLB which roughly 99% of education experts say is a shambles), deregulate banking and private business, and cut taxes for the rich. Yet, people in the low and middle classes, for some reason, think that the conservative leaders have their best interests at heart. The GOP is not going to cut taxes for the middle class at nearly the same level as the upper class. They're not going to do anything that promotes social welfare programs. Then, they can turn around and say that these failing and underfunded programs are evidence of liberal incompetence and are no longer needed. It's a vicious, self-destructive, and unsustainable cycle.

I am truly afraid of what will happen to this country if/when the conservatives have the majority power in Congress. You can bet that we will see more programs with less funding, more instability in the economy, and another eventual collapse as a result of deregulation and federal incompetence. Help.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Going in circles

At some point, the American people are going to have to realize how misled they've been by the GOP. It's crazy that so many people are vehemently opposed to this administration when it has done so many things to try and end this recession. Not only that, but I find it even more outrageous that people can support the Reps and conservatives who are actively disrupting the recovery that Dems are trying to continue.

In an article on the FOX News website, the opening paragraph states "Eyeing a potential Congressional win in November, House Republicans are planning to chip away at the White House's legislative agenda—in particular the health-care law—by depriving the programs of cash." The problem with this strategy is that it will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The program won't be countered, merely underfunded like everything else outside of Defense (i.e. medicare and education). This is an age-old tactic of the GOP: cut funding to programs you don't like, then complain that they don't work. Next, build public opinion to have the programs "overhauled" (i.e. gutted), move control of the programs to the private sector. Rinse, repeat.

The Health Care Reform bill was supposed to be a definitive piece of legislation, but turned into a flop because of distortion and compromise by the Left. They wanted to include Conservative ideas, even though the GOP had already decided that any bill would be bad. Now, we have a bill that really hasn't accomplished much and hasn't even started to work yet, and the GOP are already working to cut funding for it. With little/no federal funding, the program will flop and the GOP will be proven right.

If we were to provide appropriate funding for Medicare, education, and all other public health and wellness services, there would never have been a need for Health Care Reform. People don't seem to understand what they're fighting against, what they're angry about, or why all these things are "bad", which they're not.

We're going to end up exactly where we were at the end of the Bush years, getting ready for another huge meltdown, and everyone's going to be pointing back at Obama saying "It's all his fault!"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Failing the test of time

Nearly two years ago, we witnessed a historic event in the election of Barack Obama. At the time, we were on the cusp of what appeared to be complete financial collapse due to irresponsible practices on the part of private businesses, corporations, and power brokers looking to make millions on the backs of the public. Mr. Obama was reaching out to those people and promising to make changes, but warned that recovery would take time, money, and effort. He said that things would get worse before they got better.

Well, fast forward, and you have to admit that Mr. Obama was right. Things are starting to turn around; indeed, started turning around almost the moment he took office. Mr. Obama has made great leaps in many directions, has tackled some of the biggest problems in recent U.S. history, from two expensive and ill-defined wars, to economic collapse and a country that was bleeding jobs daily. The recovery is going slowly, but it is going, jobs are coming back, and things are getting put back together.

So why is everyone so upset with Mr. Obama?

It seems people have been taken in. They have been led to believe that the president is the person who can fix all the country's problems overnight, even when that is impossible. People are all about immediate gratification, and grow upset when they are made to be patient. Even the most optimistic estimates on the economy were that it would take close to a decade to put it right. And yet, people are angry. They are calling for the end of Obama and an ousting of the Democrats. Polls have shown that people understand that it is the filibustering Reps that are to blame for many things not being passed, but they are still angry with the Left. This doesn't make sense.

I think the problem is that the left is just too easy a target. They're the majority, and they have a President that supports them. Unfortunately, that's not enough anymore. In fact, the Reps have been filibustering almost three times more than any Dem minority in history. It's not about stopping things that they don't like; it's giving people the idea that the Dems can't accomplish even simple things.

Look at what happened with Elana Kagan. This is a person who, based on the standard of previous nominees, is well-qualified for the position on the Supreme Court. She is intelligent, well-spoken, and has strong views that are well-known to the public if they were to look into it. What happened is that the media went after her as she was held up in the Reps throwing red tape all over the place. Her nomination was contested and torn apart by people in and out of Congress. It sent up smoke screens and made her look incompetent, made mountains out of mole-hill issues, and wasted time. When the dust had settled, the opponents of the Kagan appointment were able to complain that her supporters had been wasting time with all the proceedings.

It bothers me that no one seems to know or care about all the good things that have been accomplished during Mr. Obama's time in the Oval Office. We've seen the end of combat in Iraq, new restrictions on businesses, and new reforms for Wall St. No one notices, though, and people are still mad about...what?

Here's some interesting links to look at. The last one in particular, though dated, should give you an idea of just how low, historically, our tax rates are at the moment. You can take the moneychimp link to see tax rates for years from 2000 to 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


At this time of year, my schedule has me in the car at the same time that Rush Limbaugh gives his 60-second shake-down of the Left and Obama in the morning. I've actually missed hearing this because it gives me good ideas to comment on and it helps me to reconfirm that yes, I am to the left on the political spectrum.

The editorial this morning discussed some alarming numbers. Mr. Limbaugh said that the poverty levels in this country have jumped 2% in the last two years. He cited these numbers from the U.S. census, and claimed that the increase was due to Obama's reckless spending and high-rise lifestyle. Here's an article that discusses the same thing.

Of course, I had to investigate this. Something didn't add up to me, but I decided to look into it to clarify one way or the other. Either way, it'll be alarming to see the results.

First, here's a site that gives you an idea about the level at which a person is considered to be "in poverty" for 2009. The most recent numbers are available in this hard-to-understand graph. Next, here's a table showing poverty levels and use of different programs. Finally, this is possibly the most helpful visual, showing poverty levels over several decades, as well as income and insurance rates.

The first thing I noticed is that the same numbers are used through 2009-2010 poverty guidelines. This means that the issue is not fluctuating requirements for poverty. Therefore, the difference must be in how much money households are making.

The second thing is that, if this is the case, it really isn't much of a surprise that the poverty level is going up. Here's a site that gives some stats. according to the site, 37% of companies froze salary increases from 2009-2010. Furthermore, the site projects that these numbers will decrease significantly in 2010, but we know that this probably didn't happen. While there are more jobs being created, the recession hasn't lifted, and so companies are likely paying their employees less.

Finally, looking at the poverty rates over the last several decades, we can see that a climb actually started in the mid-90's, dipped slightly in the mid-2000's, and then started climbing again. If we apply the most recent numbers, the increase in 2010 isn't that far off the mark, and is just following the established trend that began even before the recession.

With all of the numbers out there, it's hard to find a consensus on why the poverty level is rising in this country. I don't think it has anything to do with reckless personal expenditure by the President; he's not engaging in anything more or less ostentatious than previous modern presidents. It is more likely the result of recession, coupled with businesses trying to stay afloat and keep productivity well-balanced with lower budgets.

Update: This editorial on CNN discusses some of the shortcomings of the Census findings and offers some interesting solutions and alternative statistics.


It's too bad that, in our current political climate, anyone attempting to breach the widening gap between the left and right is treated as an outcast by their own party and with mistrust by their opponents.

This article shows how the GOP treats one of their members, and a prominent one, for going against the grain and saying what he believes. He's not the only one, but that fact that it's Boehner has pushed more "fundamental" conservatives and Republicans away. House Minority Leader Boehner, who has been an outspoken opponent of allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire, is now saying that he would "support President Barack Obama's proposal to renew the expiring Bush tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000 if it were his only option." Apparently, this does seem to be the only option when it comes to passing any kind of tax reform and still maintain the budget that we need.

Members of the GOP are trying to say that there should be no increase in taxes on anyone, especially those in the top percentages of the income bracket. Unfortunately, they are not offering solutions to the problems of spending aside from cutting back on the programs that are attempting to shore up the economy. The article mentions another congressman that is putting forth a bill that would keep taxes consistent over the next tax season.

While it's good press to publicize your opposition to higher taxes, it's only a basic understanding of taxation that legitimizes these ideas. Anyone who learns about our tax system and tax rates will soon discover that we are not taxed nearly as much as we have been in the past, nor as much as in other parts of the world. Furthermore, I doubt as many people would be violently opposed to higher taxes if they understood what those taxes went to pay for. Only a small percentage pays our representatives' salaries. The vast majority actually goes to Defense, which is a kind of financial black hole in and of itself.

If people really want lower taxes and more fiscal responsibility in government, we should be shaving dollars out of our defense budget, not cutting health and education programs, or draining money from infrastructure projects. We need to prioritize our funds and make adjustments. Only then will it be feasible to lower taxes on the highest wage-earners in the country.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The tragic use of a national hero.

This is a cartoon that appeared on one of the political sites I regularly frequent. At first, I thought what it was saying was a little far-fetched, but I had to do some investigating. I started with the links that were posted with the cartoon, and this is what I found. It's definitely some interesting reading, and makes you wonder what level different groups will stoop to in order to take a social icon as their own poster-child. It sort of reminds me of posthumous baptism in the Mormon faith of those they wish to be saints for them. Look it up.

This is a blog post that continues the views that are being perpetuated by these right-wing groups. And here is the website for the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) with links that tie Dr. King to the conservative side of politics. Not everyone is happy about this portrayal of Dr. King, and with good reason.

It's no wonder that every political group out there wants to persuade others that a figure of such important historical significance as King wants to portray him as a believer and follower of their philosophies. There are several problems with this latest push by conservatives, though.

First of all, King was not calling for smaller government, but for government involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. He wanted the government to get its hands dirty and work for equality. He wasn't trying to appeal the many southerners who were violently opposed to him; he was reaching out to a greater power (the government) to help him realize his dream.

Secondly, there are many instances where King is quoted as describing beliefs that are very obviously on the Left side of things. He probably wasn't advocating for corporate America, and would most likely have erred on the side of the people. Furthermore, I'm sure he would have been a supporter of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Employment, since they are designed to bring equality to the workplace where there was none before - the fact that we even have to have these programs is evidence of our need for them. Here's a list of quotes from King.

Finally, I feel as though it's impossible to take a social and political activist from the 1950's and 60's and try to fit them into the mold of our current political universe. There are too many activist groups spouting too many crazy ideas. The political landscape today is very different and, I think, much more diverse and complicated. Trying to fit Dr. King into today's system is like trying to figure out how to fit Eugenics into our health care system: it might fit, and you can make an argument for it, but it's not a good idea, and will end being a disaster.

We should just accept that Dr. King was a powerful historic figure that ignited a movement of freedom and equality in our country. His model of civil disobedience is certainly worth modeling, and his words are a constant source of inspiration and hope for millions. But he is not a posthumous pawn to be used by various political groups to gain support and legitimacy. He is not a spokesman for any current point of view, political or social action, or activist movement. He should be respected and honored for who he was, and revered for what he accomplished. Anything else is a slander on his life and memory.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Campaign Season

I wonder if people get as worked up about campaign season as they do about football season. Probably not. I doubt there are many people out there who set up an artery-clogging spread of snack food and beer to settle in for some good ol' fashioned political mud-slinging. Then again, the two national past-times have a lot in common. They both feature people who make far too much money and who hit and slam each other around as a profession. They both over-exaggerate injuries while trying to trip up their opponents. And, with the candidate trying for a forward pass of his ideas, the only things stopping him are issues with his receiver (the people) not paying attention, and the zone defense coverage.

But enough of that. I could probably go on for a while.

The point is, this campaign year is going to be very interesting to watch because it will be the first time that political ads will no longer be required to list who made the ad and where the funding came from. If anyone doesn't think this is a problem, consider the following "logical" argument.

Company "A" is a large national corporation that has been trying to find loopholes in tax laws and regulations to maximize profits (which it is required by law to do). In the upcoming election, there are two candidates that are major players. One has promised to cut corporate taxes and reduce regulations to help "promote growth" in the private sector.The other candidate has promised to create more regulations, raise taxes, and close tax loopholes to safeguard the economy and the American People. Which candidate is Company "A" likely to endorse?

Of course, you could argue, that political ads are required to stick to the facts. Well, yes and no. An ad can easily present facts in a way that makes them seem bad, even if they're harmless. Second, it's fairly easy to have ads where "citizens" are giving their opinions on a candidate, which is backed up by "facts". Let's say I went on the air as saying "I'm going to create 2o Million jobs, and it will only cost us the amount that we will be getting from tax increases on the wealthy." All an ad has to do is take that first section "I'm going to create 20 Million jobs" and then add a commentator saying something to the effect of: "but how are we going to pay for all this? I'll tell you how: higher taxes for the middle class, cutting funding for programs, and hiking the deficit even higher." Obviously, the ad is distorting information, but it's partially factual in the way they presented it. I guess the point is that you can't have an unbiased, corporate-controlled media system, and certainly in an election year.

The overall problem is that, by deregulating controls on who can pay for advertisements and political campaigns, and what the public is allowed to know about those contributions, is going to have a major impact on what we see coming through the air waves until November. It's going to be hard to see what kind of impact it has because of the hole Dems have found themselves in (again, thank you conservative media, and the gullible people who believe them), but I think it will still have disastrous consequences.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Cuban Model

In a recent article posted on the FOX news website, the author discusses a recent interview with the aging leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, in which Castro is quoted as saying "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." The article explained that this was Castro admitting that Communism doesn't work, and that his country is failing because of it.

I'm just curious, though. It's a fact that Cuba is in decline, that they don't have the same charisma and focus that they used to, and it seems as though their influence on the world stage is declining. However, I wonder if this is because of Communism? Could it also be because of the trade embargoes placed on Cuba by the U.S. for the last several decades? Could it also be the result of forceful oppression of their economic and societal development by denying them nuclear technology, free trade, and painting them as a repressive regime? It seems as though these would be factors as well.

I think that the Communism model has worked well, and would have been much more productive and prosperous if Cuba had not been put on our S*** list and been subject to our propaganda, heavy-handed control, and defamation. They've been the target of slander and ridicule for years, and the whole world knows them as our adversary. If this had not been the case, if we had in fact left them alone, they would most likely be a much more developed and thriving country. Instead, they're economy is stunted, they struggle against their reputation to find people to trade with, and they must work harder than most to accomplish anything of note on the world stage.

Considering this, it's no wonder they have chosen to conduct business with a fellow American Enemy country: Iran.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Forgot about this

I forgot that this website even existed.

The America Speaking Out website was developed by Republican congressmen as a way for American citizens to submit ideas for the government and how they want it to run. Within 24 hours of the site being up, the majority of comments were poking fun at the conservative base in America. People were submitting thoughts that were so outrageous, they could only be for a laugh at the expense of our political leaders.

Now, the website does seem to be predominantly conservative submitters. Some of the ideas make sense, but others are just ridiculous. Many of the "ideas" are really just people mouthing off and complaining, without submitting any actual solutions to their problems. Furthermore, no one seems to think about the ramifications of what they suggest.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What the hell....

It's bad enough calling yourself a Christian without people like this giving us all a bad name.

I know that there are people out there who don't understand Islam and think that they're all terrorists. I can even understand how someone might come to that conclusion, even if it is erroneous. What I don't understand is how one religious group can justify this kind of hate-driven defilement of another religion's holy text.

To put this in perspective, think of what would happen if a group of extremist Jews decided that, on Christmas, they were going to burn a few hundred Bible's. They're justification for this act is very convoluted and stems from something about their oppression in WWII (a truly tragic event). All these years later this group has decided that it wasn't just the Nazi's but all Christians who were responsible for the Holocaust. And so they are carrying out this demonstration as a symbol of their continued remembrance of the tragic events that took so many lives.

If this were a true story, how many news stations do you think would pick it up? How big a controversy would it be? Do you think the talking heads at FOX News would ever shut up about it?

The thing is, despite the obvious degradation and blatant disrespect of what Pastor Terry Jones and his congregation are planning to do, the amount of public outcry and backlash doesn't seem to be as overwhelming as I feel they would be in the above example. We as Americans need to learn to respect those whom we share this planet with. We're all human, after all.

Update: An Islamic group says they'll be replacing the burned copies of the Quran with 200,000 more. In a related story, members of a bat-shit group of extremist Christians just bought out the state of Florida's full supply of Maalox.

Something to laugh at

Thought this was worth a read. Fairly short, so go ahead and laugh a bit.

Tax cuts and balancing budget

Being from VT, one of the major gubernatorial candidates is Brian Dubie (R). Mr. Dubie was the lieutenant governor under our retiring current governor Jim Douglas. This morning, Mr. Dubie was on the local talk radio station discussing his plan for better financial planning at the state level. There were a couple of great buzz-words that he used in his performance. I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculous questions that people called in with. Dubie was hitting one home run after another, but didn't seem to be saying anything. Here's a bit of what I gleaned from this.

Mr. Dubie discussed wanting to cut taxes and reduce regulations in order to promote business growth and investment in VT. VT has some of the highest tax rates in the country, and so his view makes sense. At least, the part about lowering taxes. However, cutting regulations is not going to save all that much in the grand scheme of things, and will endanger the people of VT by getting rid of safety regulations for appropriate operations. What Mr. Dubie should be going for are tax incentives for businesses that come to or work out of VT. By just cutting taxes, Mr. Dubie is saying that businesses are not as fiscally responsible for the state budget as single citizens, which is wrong since businesses tend to generate more money than families. Not only that, but businesses receive all kinds of support from the government, and that cost is paid by the people. So, business should receive incentives for setting up shop here, and then set up a special tax-account with the government that covers the cost of any support they need in the future. Oh, and equal tax levels for big and small business. Cutting regulations, especially when we have a nuclear power plant leaking toxic waste hither and yon (and which Dubie wants to recommission to keep open), is not really a good idea. People in the area already have significantly higher levels of cancer and disease compared to others in the state.

Second, Mr. Dubie discussed increasing the "tax base" in VT. Funnily enough, Mr. Dubie discussed his "ten-point plan" for the economy, and said that this was located on his website, but it doesn't seem to be posted yet. However, Mr. Dubie did discuss spreading the tax base in VT to help cover the cost of his 2% cap on annual spending. What this tells me is that he is not in favor of cutting tax for the middle class or increasing taxes on the upper class. Instead, he wants to go to the lowest of the low and get them to pay even more taxes! Let's do some math here. Let's say that, for every "upper-class" citizen of VT, there are ten "lower-class" citizens. Let's say that the upper class citizen pays approximately $33,000 in taxes, while the ten lower class citizens pay $1,171 each, equaling a total of $11,710. Now, according to my interpretation of Mr. Dubie's plan, he wants to leave the upper tax rate alone, and instead start taxing the lower class more. So, those ten people now have to pay about $2,000 each, totaling $20,000 dollars. This is, of course, still less than what the upper class is paying at minimum. In the VT state Income tax rate system, "upper class" is defined as anyone making $357,701 or more annually. At a tax rate of 9.5%, that's a total of $33,000 dollars. This leaves the person with approximately $323,000 annually to live on. The lower class, on the other hand, is defined as anyone making anywhere from $0-32,550. At a 3.6% tax rate, a person at the high end of the lower class spectrum is paying $1,170 in taxes. This leaves $31,380 for that person or family to live on annually. So, the difference between upper and lower class is at least $291,700. And Mr. Dubie is talking about increasing the tax base, and has not said a word about increasing the tax rate on the rich. By increasing the tax rate by just 1%, the tax burden on the upper class would be about $37,500. Considering the disposable income of the upper class, this extra tax can't be all that bad.

Finally, Mr. Dubie spent a lot of time talking about keeping the budget balanced and keep it from increasing too much at a time, by proposing a 2% limit on the annual increase of state spending. In the same breath, Mr. Dubie discussed how important it is to maintain the "quality" of our teachers and state officials and make sure they have a fair wage and benefits. If anyone is unfamiliar with how much our budgets have been cut in the last few years, and how much teacher's are being paid and then expected to do with that money, allow me to enlighten you. My job is as part of a state-run program. In the last two years, there has been no increase in our budget, and this past year, we were told that our budget is actually being cut by several thousand dollars. This means that, like the last several years, no one in our program will be getting a raise, we will have next to no disposable income for supplies that we use on a regular basis, and we will likely see a decrease in the amount of money we receive for things like mileage driven for work. Our program works closely with schools in the area, and the situation there isn't much better. In an effort to "balance the budget," teachers have had to go without raises, had their classroom funding cut, and are now expected to use their own money to furnish their classrooms for students. They are being paid less and less, more demands are being put on them, they are being blamed for the dropping standards in schools (when really it's a matter of under-funded, ill-defined, and improperly implemented federal standards programs), and are now at their wits end with school district consolidation.

The problem is that there are no easy answers. Mr. Dubie is, of course, doing what he thinks is right. The problem is that he is talking about cutting money from programs that can't be cut any closer. The program I work for could hire five new people and still have a waiting list of clients. But without the money in the budget, we are forced to turn people away who need our services. It's sad to me that the kinds of programs that benefit people most are often the ones that are cut first.

Mr. Dubie has some good ideas, especially for cutting certain costs out of government, but he is missing the mark on other issues, and those are just as important. I hope that there will be some healthy debate in the days to come, during which we hear some good things from someone running for governor.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The neo-con movement

The ripple effect of the shifting "Overton Window", to use Glenn Beck's expression, has been a disastrous one indeed. Let's look at a timeline of events that have occurred in the last few weeks.

1: Public is made aware via media outlets of a mosque/Islamic community center that is to be erected in the general vicinity of ground zero.
2: Headlining neo-cons spout off about the un-American nature of the project and call for it to be canceled.
3: Public sentiment over the project goes sour. Those who speak out in defense of tolerance, support, or simply to point out the blatant bigotry, are shouted down as traitors.
4: Neo-cons hold a large demonstration in D.C. to project themselves further onto the American people and rally their mindless followers around their narrow, right-wing ideals.
5: Acts of violence at other mosque sites around the country begin to crop up in the media, including arson, vandalism, etc.
6 (still to come): public is made aware of some other small thing that can be loosely tied to people we have somehow started seeing as our enemies, which is then blown out of proportion as an un-American and disrespectful act. The cycle continues.

The recent rise of the neo-conservative movement has found fuel for its biased fire in the conservative base of the republican party. What seems to have happened is a fundamental shift in how conservative politics are run. Not content with attacking the liberal side of the aisle with their own positions and failings, the neo-cons have decided that anything in this country that they don't like can be tied to the administration, and is therefore legitimate cannon fodder to use against the Dems.

The major players in this most recent movement are people most of us have heard of or even listened to. First, there's Glenn Beck, the poster boy and the one that is spear-heading this latest move. He's young, energetic, and has a fan base all his own. He also happens to be a mild psychopath, but that's just my opinion of anyone who contemplates murder on the air as if it were a mildly interesting but not too distressing thought.

Then, you have Sarah Palin. Palin is the one that really jump-started this movement by gathering the disheartened right-wing nuts together into a little support group called the Tea Party. I know she probably didn't have much to do with starting it, but her actions as their spokeswoman have made her complicit. Palin, like Beck, is younger, energetic, and reaches out to the right-wing crazies in a way that reinstills their belief that they are always, and have always been, correct. Palin pushes the group into new territory, while Beck brings an air of semi-sanity to the whole mix.

Together, Palin and Beck make up the major public figures, the faces everyone knows and ties to the conservative movement. They're the ones that people listen to and believe are pushing the conservative line.

Next, in a more obscure and generalized way, you have conservative media. This does not just include conservative news networks, although they are a big part. This also includes publications (WSJ and Washington Post) and conservative radio (EIB network/ Rush Limbaugh, etc.). To a lesser though emerging degree, there are conservative websites out there as well. These are the spin doctors. These are the groups that dig through the muck and slop of national news and come up with the dirtiest bits of twisted filth to cough up on the air or in print. Many of the major stories covered are, in my opinion, chosen for the basis of cannon fodder-ability, meaning how well they can be used against the liberal left. Stories like the ground zero mosque find their birth in these conservative think-tanks, and it doesn't take long for them to become national headlines.

One interesting thing about the conservative media is how well they do their job of advancing their agenda. Even when their stories don't take (which many don't) in the "mainstream" media, they can use this to their advantage. If a story is not picked up by the majority of media, the right can claim that the media has a liberal bias. If a story is picked up, the right can claim that they had it first and were the most reliable source for this information. Either way, they win.

The last piece to this conservative stronghold is the "people". Not the public, but the "people". The "people" is the group that conservatives claim to be defending and who say that they are being taken advantage of by the government. The "people" are the individuals who go to the Tea Party rallies and scream about health care and education costs in our country. The conservative side has groomed this group of disgruntled citizens and has mobilized them in recent years to push through conservative players on the national level. The "people" are the sort that will believe anything that comes from the "media" or the "spokespersons" (see previous sections) as long as it fits into their own world view. There's no questioning, no review of facts or independent research into the validity of stories. In fact, there's no need. The media system is very good at what it does. It uses very selective information and presents it with just the right spin so that people can make up their own minds. They further this along by using "couch-discussion", or opinionated discussion that comes off as legit, in order to move viewers in the right direction.

It's a complex and convoluted system. It feeds off of ignorance, anger, and fear. It is growing. It's Allllliiiiiiiivvvvvveeee. Well, kind of. The movement is definitely gaining momentum, and no amount of logical argument or civil discourse is going to stop them. If you disagree with them, you're a socialist terrorist traitor. But they can bash you mercilessly all they want because they're right. Actually, they're just to the right on the political spectrum. They are not always correct, and never respectful. This kind of polarization is what keeps non-partisanship from being realized in congress. Let's work together and spread the crazy around a little bit.