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#52679 - 10/14/19 07:06 AM What you need to know about American politics
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Usually I avoid talking about politics, esp. on the internet, esp. on a tech forum. But after some people have called for the death of a U.S. president, I thought I would explain some things about American politics. My knowledge comes from experience, observation, reading, aging, reflecting on all of those, and from friends and relatives who have worked in Washington and in local politics. I think I can give an impartial account of some facts about recent politics. I didn't vote in the last election, by the way, though I probably should have.

For decades, there has been a persistent criticism that The People haven't been represented. This has taken the form of local debates over gerrymandering or over redrawing school districts to achieve something like racial and ethnic balance. At the national level, the criticism has pointed to the fact that, although the American population has increased, representation has diminished. Literally, there are fewer people represented because we have the same number of representatives in Washington per person thought there are more people alive in the states. It's a little like when you hear people talk about teacher to student ratio in classrooms, a statistic that is misleading or bogus or both.

In the early 1970s, the Libertarian Party formed at least in part on the belief that there was "one party" in Washington. These critics asserted there was no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties because both were involved in playing the same "game" though with different players. The game is bribery. Contribute to my campaign and I will help (you) your company by passing or rejecting certain bills and laws in Washington. The more expensive it became to run for office, in part due to the cost of TV advertising, the more politicians spent time on fundraising and on writing and passing bills that favored certain companies (bosses) who contributed to their campaigns. Thus, the criticism was that politicians were no longer acting in the public interest. Literally the public wasn't being represented. Instead, politicians were acting in the special interest of certain companies. Apple gets a tax break. You don't. They are special. You are not.

The longer a politician held office, the worse the situation got, the more difficult it became to unseat an elected official because he had time while in office to curry favor with more contributors. This led some people like George Will to call for term limits in the 1990s. His book, Restoration, was a call to restore representation or what hippies in the 1960s alluded to when they said "Power to The People".

Many hippies made their way into the Libertarian Party, in part because of its anti-tax, pro-drug, pro-prostitution, pro-pornography positions. But the party never got more than a few percentage points in elections. Supporters complained that the two major parties worked against it, shut it out of debates, and in other ways behaved unfairly.

In the 1990s, complaints about representation were picked up Ross Perot when he started the Reform Party. Many libertarians shifted to the Reform Party, which became the de facto third-party alternative. It was so expensive to run for office that you had to be a billionaire to fund your own campaign. By funding your own campaign, you protected yourself from the bribes of Washington. Billionaires are odd people. They're not insane, a word which has ceased to mean anything, but they do tend to lead eccentric lives of extremes. To be a billionaire is to be literally out of the mainstream; one simply has more. Thus, an odd guy like Perot accomplished the incredible feat of winning 19 percent of the vote. That's 19 million votes out of 100 million. Not bad for a flake who had no political experience. I never cared for the man and I didn't vote for him. I enjoyed Dana Carvey's impressions.

Pat Buchanan, who attended Columbia journalism school, was the Reform Party's second candidate, and after him Donald Trump. Like Trump, Buchanan was called a Nazi and racist for attempting to tackle the problem of illegal immigration. Trump had been a Democrat for most of his life and was friendly with the Clintons. This is probably because Democrats had a reputation to being the party of loose morals. Regardless, this association ought not to surprise us. In every age, people of wealth and power congregate. There is nothing conspiratorial about it or even anything especially wrong with it. You hang out with people you like. Birds of a feather. You don't see birds hanging out with lions or snakes. They hang out with other birds. It's built into nature.

Although Alex Jones is a quack, even a stopped clock is right once a day. I disbelieved his talk of a deep state because it sounded too much like fiction or a movie. But there is a small bit of truth in it. Although politicians get the attention, most of the work in Washington is done by people who are not elected. These are staff members (usually recent college graduates) and employees of departments and the many branches and subdivisions of a very large government of a very large country. Most of them keep their jobs regardless of who is elected to any office. It's in their interest to do what they can to keep their jobs. These people are called bureaucrats. That sounds like a value judgment but it is an impartial description as good as any. These people do most of the work, not the people you see on TV. Enough has been written about bureaucracy over the years that I don't need to explain its many problems. Reading Orwell and Kafka might help because they dramatized bureaucracy.

The problem of money in politics hasn't been solved. Thus, the problem of representation hasn't been solved. Trump is the first real political outsider to become president. Consequently, many of the insiders want to see him gone, and, in the case of this forum, dead. It's a bad habit to wish ill of others. It's not a habit of mine. I have disagreed with all our presidents at some time or another. I have never wished them harm. I wish most everyone the best. Not because I'm Mary Poppins but because it makes life easier. As time runs out, you don't want to waste it being angry, least of all angry at matters you can't affect.

I can answer questions for clarification. But I'm not going to adopt the us versus them habit where one sacrifices the hard work of thought for choosing sides, as though life were a football game. I never was a good cheerleader and I'm too old to be a fan (short for fanatic) of any person, group, or movement.

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#52680 - 10/14/19 07:41 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: deniro
Trump is the first real political outsider to become president. Consequently, many of the insiders want to see him gone, and, in the case of this forum, dead.

Other than the title of that one thread, which I believe (hope, anyway) was meant humorously, rather than literally, I haven't seen any such sentiment at FTM.

Please direct me to it if I"ve missed it.
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#52681 - 10/14/19 08:08 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Some interesting historical points.

RE "Although Alex Jones is a quack, even a stopped clock is right once a day":
Since most clocks have a 12-hour face, a stopped clock is right twice a day (irrespective of who Alex Jones is or what his/her opinions might be).

RE "Birds of a feather. You don't see birds hanging out with lions or snakes. They hang out with other birds."
Except for those birds (and other animals) which have a symbiotic relationship with other animals, in most cases to rid same of parasites and thereby also gain a meal.
(Nature is replete with such mutually beneficial relationships.)

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#52682 - 10/14/19 09:13 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: artie505]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: artie505
Originally Posted By: deniro
Trump is the first real political outsider to become president. Consequently, many of the insiders want to see him gone, and, in the case of this forum, dead.

Other than the title of that one thread, which I believe (hope, anyway) was meant humorously, rather than literally, I haven't seen any such sentiment at FTM.

Please direct me to it if I"ve missed it.


You did not miss it, but the (marginal?) humor of the title with the play on 45 and 45 will most likely be missed by most. As I posted in that thread, even the whiff of a threat against the President of the United States can lead to investigation and/or incarceration. I am not suggesting that anyone in this forum will have problems because of the title, but as Deniro has pointed out, and as we have often criticized #45 of also behaving, we in the United States don't do that.
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#52683 - 10/14/19 09:25 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: deniro
Like Trump, Buchanan was called a Nazi and racist for attempting to tackle the problem of illegal immigration. … Trump is the first real political outsider to become president.


I can't speak to Buchanan, but Trump was called a (neo-)Nazi because he associated with and brought into the White House advisors who espoused beliefs of Nazis.

Trump may have been a political outsider, but he was not an outsider to the way of politics and money. His Cabinet's combined net worth is the most of any Cabinet in the history of the United States (even adjusting for inflation). Perhaps related to that, it also has had the highest turnover in the shortest time period.

You are absolutely correct that money is the problem in American politics. I believe you cannot be a successful (i.e., get elected) politician, perhaps at any level, unless you engage in the corruption that fundraising, etc. bring. If we eliminated lobbyists and had publicly funded elections, we would have a very different country.

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#52684 - 10/14/19 10:41 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: Ira L]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I understood the humor in that thread. I didn't think it was funny. I know what's funny and what isn't. Some jokes just aren't funny. Humor isn't 100 percent subjective.

Lobbying isn't against the law. Nor is it unethical. One can lobby without using bribery and blackmail. Nevertheless, it's hard to imagine any politician voting in favor of outlawing it.

One could make a list of the costs of a campaign, then break it down one by one. First, there's TV costs. Make the TV networks pay for politics. Like a public service announcement. Prevent campaigns from being about who can afford to run the most commercials. Make networks pay for debates. Networks and advertisers will fight these ideas. So I don't know how they would be accomplished. That's why I call them ideas. Second, reduce the length of the campaign. Again, I don't know how you could enforce this. But the shorter the campaign, the lower the cost. The longer the campaign, the higher the cost. If there's a will, there's a way. But there is rarely enough will to do the right thing. That's the real tragedy of the time we live in: absence of character.

I won't entertain comments about Nazis. There are no Nazis in America today. Not really. That word ought to have been buried with the 1940s. To use it in today's context makes no sense. It has no place in today's debates. I know, it's an exaggeration. I get it. But at a certain age we should stop exaggerating. No one benefits from inflated rhetoric of the sort you see all the time in newspapers, TV, radio, and the internet. Let's save figurative language for fiction, poetry, and drama, perhaps the occasional rhapsodic correspondence. Everyone else ought to be as literal as impossible. Maybe then people will stop misusing the word "literally". We will start to speak literally more than figuratively. We will stop exaggerating and begin to grow up.

I see everyone talking about a "trade war". It's not a war. Is it? No one's getting shot. There are no battlefields or troops. So it's not a war. People who call it a war don't have the truth as their primary aim. Does it matter what words we use? It certainly does. Ever been in court?

Being wealthy is neither a good thing nor a bad thing.

In politics, as I said, the independently wealthy are more likely to do the right thing because they can't be bought. They are less likely to be bribed. They don't need the money. I would much rather people be motivated by wealth than by power. I agree with Henry Adams. Power is poison.

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#52685 - 10/14/19 11:31 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: deniro
Lobbying isn't against the law. Nor is it unethical. One can lobby without using bribery and blackmail. Nevertheless, it's hard to imagine any politician voting in favor of outlawing it.

I would argue that lobbying is necessary and useful. What is bad is lobbyists buying political favors with gifts and camaign donations. Closely related is politicians retiring to become lobbyists. Either activity could be controlled, but as you say, no politician will vote to make that happen.
Originally Posted By: deniro
One could make a list of the costs of a campaign, then break it down one by one. First, there's TV costs. Make the TV networks pay for politics. Like a public service announcement. Prevent campaigns from being about who can afford to run the most commercials. Make networks pay for debates. Networks and advertisers will fight these ideas. So I don't know how they would be accomplished.

Since those costs will inevitably be passed down the consumers and taxpayers, they will fight this idea as well.
Originally Posted By: dinero
Second, reduce the length of the campaign. Again, I don't know h ow you could enforce this. But the shorter the campaign, the lower the cost. The longer the campaign, the higher the cost.

I like this idea — a LOT — but how do you define campaigning? If someone writes a book, appears on a TV show, grants an interview and a year later because of that activity decides to runoff office would the previous work be counted as campaigning?
Originally Posted By: deniro
I see everyone talking about a "trade war". It's not a war. Is it? No one's getting shot. There are no battlefields or troops. So it's not a war. People who call it a war don't have the truth as their primary aim. Does it matter what words to use? It certainly does. Ever been in court?

Wars do not have to involve gunfire to cause pestilence, famine, and death. Trade disputes can and have resulted in causing pestilence, famine and death. if that isn't war it is a d#%^ close approximation.
Originally Posted By: deniro

Being wealthy is neither a good thing nor a bad thing.

In politics, as I said, the independently wealthy are more likely to do the right thing because they can't be bought. They are less likely to be bribed. They don't need the money. I would much rather people be motivated by wealth than by power. I agree with Henry Adams. Power is poison.

I have known some VERY wealthy people. Some of whom have the highest level of integrity — others among them were mean and sin. Wealth is no measure of integrity. That comes from within. Much of that depends on how an individual was raised but there are exceptions to that as well.
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#52687 - 10/14/19 04:18 PM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: deniro
Humor isn't 100 percent subjective.

Fortunately or, as the case may be, unfortunately, it IS.
_________________________
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In Memory Of Harv: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

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#52691 - 10/14/19 09:37 PM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: joemikeb]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
It's possible to call it a trade war in the figurative sense. One could interpret it that way, though I don't. Anyone involved in using language as literal fact in an impartial way, such as the press, ought not to call it a war, because it isn't. If violence breaks out with China, then you can say we are at war.

Until then, "trade war" is headlinese. It's written to get attention. Ever been around kids or teenagers trying to get attention? They do and say outrageous things. Listen to the drama and exaggeration. You see the same thing on TV, radio, newspapers, the internet. One big freak show, one big side show. It's all about getting ratings, which is the same as getting attention. Conflict plays well on TV. No conflict, no news. Pro wrestling on every channel—now that's figurative language.

Sting wrote a song called "This War". Although I disagree with much of it, the song contains a list of subjects to which the term "war" has been applied. That part I liked. It's a clever song. Militaristic language enters everyday usage, and no one questions it. People use the word "attack" all the time when talking about conversation or written debate. Obviously it's not an attack. But the usage is so ingrained no one questions it. Does it matter what words we use? Of course it does.

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#52693 - 10/15/19 05:41 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
At least for now we live in a nation where differences of opinion are permitted so I respectfully disagree with your connotation of the word war.
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#52694 - 10/15/19 06:14 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: deniro
I won't entertain comments about Nazis. There are no Nazis in America today. Not really.

Wrong. There is a well-organized and thriving American Nazi Party, which has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. And their symbol is the swastika.


Edited by ryck (10/15/19 06:24 AM)
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#52695 - 10/15/19 06:16 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: Ira L]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: Ira L
If we eliminated lobbyists and had publicly funded elections, we would have a very different country.

That's for sure.....and it's something I'd like to see in my country.
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#52698 - 10/15/19 10:05 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: ryck]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
You said the American Nazi Party is well-organized and thriving. Those are opinions, not facts.

Here's a question about a fact. What percent of the vote did the American Nazi Party get in the last election? How many votes did it in receive in the last presidential election?

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#52701 - 10/15/19 12:03 PM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: deniro
You said the American Nazi Party is well-organized and thriving. Those are opinions, not facts.

And you had said: “There are no Nazis in America today”…..which is patently WRONG.

Originally Posted By: deniro
Here's a question about a fact. What percent of the vote did the American Nazi Party get in the last election? How many votes did it in receive in the last presidential election?

Following your perverse logic I’d have to assume that, because they didn’t run any candidates in the last presidential election, the KKK doesn’t exist either.


Edited by ryck (10/15/19 12:04 PM)
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#52705 - 10/16/19 04:59 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: ryck]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
I didn't make an assertion. I asked you a question. You assumed that question was rhetorical. Then you accused me of perverse logic.

You are seeing things that aren't there. You are like another poster here. You misunderstand the difference between literal language and figurative language. I suggest we stick to literal language and read the words rather than the spaces between them. The meaning is in the black letters, not the white space.

I'm trying to establish facts. So I looked up third party results from the American election of 2016. In fact, the American Nazi Party won zero votes in the last election. Therefore I have to wonder how you define the words "well organized" and "thriving" when applied to this party when it hasn't even won any votes. There are other socialists who did win votes. But those parties don't evoke your fear. I wonder why.

That's what you are talking about. Fear. That's something you have to deal with. I don't know where you are getting your information, but the providers have done a great job instilling fear in you. Such people aim for the nervous system, and the body responds faster than the intellect. I know. I have worked with such people in the press. Totally Pavlovian. Like children, they want attention and they will do almost anything to get it. That's journalism. A way to get attention.

What are you afraid of? That the Third Reich is rising in the twenty-first century America? I can tell you—with certainty—that it is not and it will not. There are people who are trying to gain power in an authoritarian way. Attempting to gain power through unjustifiable impeachment rather than through fair and free elections is one such method.

I see that you are from Canada. I have noticed that many Canadians and Brits have many false ideas about America. Again I wonder where they are getting their wildly distorted information. The only way to understand America, which is such an odd country, is to live here. You can't learn about it any other way.

What you need to know I have already written. I suggest you re-read what I have written. Pay closer attention. Don't let your mind wander. Don't think of anything else. Don't jump to conclusions. Clear your head first and concentrate. Assume that the words have meaning and that I mean what I say. Don't infer meaning. Don't look into the white space and try to interpret it. Read the words. They tell you what you need to know. Don't let your fear tell you what to say. Don't plug in hand-me-down responses. Make up your own mind.


Edited by deniro (10/16/19 05:00 AM)

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#52706 - 10/16/19 07:45 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: deniro]
ryck Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: deniro
Fear. That's something you have to deal with. I don't know where you are getting your information, but the providers have done a great job instilling fear in you.

And now, I'm afraid, it's time to move on. See ya!

One piece of parting advice...start watching something other than Fox News.


Edited by ryck (10/16/19 07:46 AM)
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#52708 - 10/16/19 08:19 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: Ira L]
grelber Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: North of 49th ||
Originally Posted By: Ira L
... the (marginal?) humor of the title with the play on 45 and 45 will most likely be missed by most. As I posted in that thread, even the whiff of a threat against the President of the United States can lead to investigation and/or incarceration. I am not suggesting that anyone in this forum will have problems because of the title, but as Deniro has pointed out, and as we have often criticized #45 of also behaving, we in the United States don't do that.

RE the thread "Maybe 45 needs to end it all with a .45":
Clearly this makes reference to suicide, which (if I am not mistaken) is no longer illegal in any of the 50 states. And given his lack of religiousness, it isn't even a sin - mortal, venial or otherwise. So the perceived threat against him would come from within; one can only hope that it would lead to "investigation and/or incarceration" — it would save a lot of time and expense of impeachment proceedings.
But for him to do the honorable thing [by falling on his sword – just to shift the metaphor a tad] would be to contradict everything he stands for and is proud of. Quelle turlupinade! tongue

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#52710 - 10/16/19 09:03 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: ryck]
deniro Offline


Registered: 09/09/09
Run away! Run away! to quote the Monty Python movie.

I asked a lot of legitimate questions that you couldn't answer, and your fear caused you to run away rather than attempt to improve yourself, to explore the questions, to investigate. Life is an adventure. Get to know it. Instead, you insulted me again, though I haven't insulted you. OK. I can take it. My ego is not an egg shell. I'm just saying to anyone reading this that this is something to take note of. One of us knows how to think. The other doesn't. This is why debates of any kind are usually a waste of time. There has to be mutual intelligence, understanding, sympathy, humility for such a conversation to take place. I am glad that no one in this forum called me a Nazi. That's something.

By the way, I really don't follow the news. I don't watch much TV at all and I sometimes recommend tossing it out. You're not going to learn much from television. It's influence is more negative than positive.

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#52711 - 10/16/19 09:05 AM Re: What you need to know about American politics [Re: ryck]
joemikeb Online
Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: ryck
Originally Posted By: deniro
I won't entertain comments about Nazis. There are no Nazis in America today. Not really.

Wrong. There is a well-organized and thriving American Nazi Party, which has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. And their symbol is the swastika.

With chapters in every major city as well as in every state and federal prison in the country. Nazi activities often bring them into conflicts with the law leading to felony convictions which prevents them from voting. That may reduce their direct representation in governance, but they still have political influence through financial support of candidates.
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