Monthly Archives: May 2012

Bread and Circuses and Showtunes

A very intelligent young man of my acquaintance asked not too long ago, “Can somebody somewhere tell me where I can find a news source that has the depth and breadth of reporting that I want without the blatant and unabashed in-story advertising for corporations? “

There is, of course, only one answer.  There isn’t one.  There is no one single source where one can find both depth and breadth of reporting or information in the world.  There really never has been, but if we pretend for the sake of discussion that there was at one point, there certainly isn’t any more.  If one is going to be moderately well-informed on one subset of topics then one will have to spend a lot of time filtering out the detritus.  If one is going to be moderately well-informed on a wide variety of subjects then one will have to work very hard, indeed.  And, if one is going to be truly informed on many subjects, then one will have be able to either be independently wealthy in order to devote one’s time to achieving that aim, or one will have to be able to earn a living doing so.

It is precisely this which allows the system to have developed to the point that it has.  Bread and circuses.  Keep the “unwashed masses” distracted with bread and circuses, though truthfully these days it’s more more about tits and asses.  “Mitt Romney and Barack Obama?  No, thanks.  I’m much more interested in Russell Brand’s latest antics and Kim Kardashian’s ass.”

There is nothing wrong with entertainment.  Entertainment of whatever type is a good thing.  It relaxes and eases the mind.  It enables us to refocus on the things that are important.  However, what does become a problem is that all too often, and over the last century in particular, as the flow of information has become more immediate, we have allowed entertainment to become dominant.  The History Channel, for example, presents history and pseudo-history as edutainment.  E!, TMZ and a hundred other shows are devoted to nothing but following the ridiculous antics of people who are famous for nothing other than being famous, or at best, for being entertainers.

Many people do not pay attention to the actual news.  The local and national news shows contain very little actual news, and are more about entertainment and crime blotters.  What little news is there is often lost.  The 24 hour news cycle is a farce, because the little tid bits of news that come out are blasted to the corners by the entertainment of circuses and crime, the modern arenas of sports and tits and asses.  (I have long joked about starting a new news service called, “This is not news”.  I would watch the mainstream news and then send out a report of all the items that they showed which didn’t actually qualify as news.  The problem is that it would be such a long list, and it would bore more people than it would interest.)

Which brings us back to the original question.  Where does one go to find real reliable news?  You cannot go to just one source.  One has to go to a variety of sources.  Demonstrably, one cannot rely on “Fox News”.  Despite recent claims, it has been shown over and over again that they lie to their viewers and fail the most basic test of journalism, which is to inform their viewers.

Quoting from page 19 of the “Misinformation and the 2010 Election A Study of the US Electorate

For each topic, the news source with the lowest level of misinformation among its daily consumers was as follows:

• most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation saved or created only a few jobs or caused job losses: MSNBC, 65% misinformed

• among economists who have estimated the effect of the health reform law, more think it will increase the deficit: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 38%

• the bank bailout legislation (TARP) was passed and signed into law under Pres. Obama:MSNBC, 38%

• the US economy is getting worse: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 34%

• the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts: MSNBC, 34%

• the bailout of GM and Chrysler occurred under President Obama only: MSNBC, 32%

• since January 2009 the respondent’s federal income taxes have actually gone up: MSNBC, 27%

• it is unclear whether Obama was born in the US—or, Obama was not born in the US: Public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), 24%

• when TARP came up for a vote, Democrats were opposed or divided: Fox News, 21%

• when TARP came up for a vote, most Republicans opposed it: CNN, 28%

• it was proven that the US Chamber of Commerce was spending foreign money to back Republicans: Fox News, 23%

• most scientists think climate change is not occurring or views are divided evenly: MSNBC and public broadcasting (NPR or PBS), both 20%

In other words, they are all misinforming us, which we knew.  Again, you cannot rely on any one source to be even reasonably well-informed.  We can see though that some sources are more reliable than others.  Further, we can see that depending on the topic, some sources are more reliable than others.  This makes sense, given that it is easier to slant the truth in a particular direction depending on what the topic is.

A lot of people simply do not want to be informed.  They get overwhelmed and give up.  They get lost or  don’t know where to look.  They want the easy way out.  Or, maybe they want that one single source.  If they care, they want a source which is always reliable and always unbiased.  Again, it doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t exist because each news outlet is made up of people, and most of the outlets are now giant corporations with stock owners.  Companies which have as their primary purpose to make a profit rather than to fulfill a journalistic purpose.  While we can recognize and respect a need to return an operating expense so that they can stay in business, at least as long as they are functioning in a capitalist system, as long as a profit motive is ahead of a journalistic motive, we have a problem.  Woodward and Berstein did not investigate and uncover Watergate because of a profit motive.

What does exist though, and is very easy to find are outlets which are what more people really want these days. Outlets which do not actually inform, but that arm.  That arm with partial truths that reinforce what they already believe.  Outlets, in other words, which are biased in the same way in which the listener is already biased.

So, what is the answer?  If you’re going to be informed you have to avoid those sources which are known to be unreliable more often than not.  Faux News being the biggest offender.  NPR is the most reliable mainstream source.  From there you will have to look all over the place.  Al-Jazeera,,, reddit, various blogs, Rolling Stone, news aggregators like Google, your local newspapers, and a thousand other sources.  And from those sources you will be able to piece together a small fraction of understanding.

Or, you can focus on a 55 hour marriage by a self-destructing pop star, or a 72 day marriage of a woman who is famous for being famous and who made enough for that wedding that she could feed some nations for several years.  Not that she would, mind you.  And, then, you can claim that it is allowing two men (or two women) who love each other to marry that is a threat to the institution of marriage.

Meanwhile, ignore that your government, you, are taking steps to further remove your freedoms, to reduce your freedom on-line, to install indefinite detention, to restrict the rights of gays and lesbians in 29 states, and a thousand other things that you don’t care about because American Idol is on….

Sorry to interrupt.  Please carry on.  How about them Yankees?  Oh?  Not doing well?  Sorry to hear that.

Being an active participant is a lot of work.

A question of faith

I generally have tried to stick to facts and primary sources here, and truth be told, I am not varying from that format today.  However, some of you may take issue with that statement.  I recognize that in advance.  It doesn’t change reality.  In fact, that is precisely what we’re going to address today.  Reality.

The simple truth is this.  Modern Conservatism is not based on logic and reason.  It is a religion.  It is based on a faith and belief which does not respond to the presentation of data and causal relationships when demonstrated.  This is the essential difference between Liberal and Conservative positions.

Really, it always has been.  Liberalism is based on scientific thought processes and evolving.  Seeing what isn’t working and finding a solution to make it better.  Conservatism, on the other hand, used to be based on holding on to what was known and trusted.  It was an unwillingness to try the new, because “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.”  Modern Conservatism though is even worse.  Even in the face of the facts showing that it can’t be trusted, the dogmatic religiously held beliefs can’t be let go.  This does not imply that Liberal thought is incompatible with any religion any more than Conservative is incompatible with other religions.  It only indicates that sociopolitically, Liberals are more adaptable and better able to survive in the long run.  (The ‘fun’ part is that today’s Liberals are all too often tomorrow’s Conservatives.)

For example, the Arizona Secretary of State, Ken Bennett (appointed to replace Jan Brewer when she became Governor in 2009) is still demanding of the state of Hawai’i confirmation of President Obama’s birth certificate, which the state of Hawai’i is saying he will need to prove a legitimate need for, again.  How many times do we have to go through this?  I have been abundantly clear that I am not an Obama fan, nor am I even a supporter of the Democratic party, since I am actually a Liberal, but why are we still wasting time on this?  Hawai’i has repeatedly confirmed he was born there and he did finally release his full birth certificate.  So, again, why are we still having these discussions?  At an official level even?  Because for many on the far right, this is an article of faith.  It is an article of faith that Obama wasn’t born in the US and is therefore an illegitimate pretender to their throne.  No amount of presentation of fact will convince them otherwise.  Let us not forget that they ignored the fact that we knew for certain that John McCain was born in Panama, and thus there are legitimate questions that could have been raised about his eligibility to serve as POTUS.

Another example is the experiment with supply side economics of the last 40 years, and particularly of the last 12.  This is the true heart of the modern “Conservative position, and they have failed utterly.  The beloved banks and other corporations of the far right have failed to thrive under these policies, and, in fact, would have failed to survive if not for a bail out from the rest of us.  The “free market” failed, and when it did, what did the Conservatives do?  Did they stand by their espoused principles and let those businesses fail?  Absolutely not!  They leapt in to save them.  To the tune of $700 billion, in the first round alone!  Then, not only did they not learn from this and adjust their policies, but they continue to insist that these policies must be continued, and even strengthened.  “We haven’t done enough!” they cry.  The icing on that cake is that then, the far right Republicans use this as an attack point on the center-right Democrats, when in truth it was passed first under the Republican administration and then continued under the Democrat administration.

As has been demonstrated, over and over again, these policies not only don’t work, but they are actually the cause of the economic crisis we’ve been facing.  These policies created false bubbles and then when they collapsed, the right screamed that the solution was to use the same policies which created the bubbles in the first place.  They are incapable of achieving long term success.

We have to rehash the same arguments over and over again, because we are not actually having an argument or a debate.  We are foolishly struggling to attempt using reason to convince someone to change their religion.  So, the question is, what brings on a religious conversion?  Fear, obviously has worked on a great number of people, but as a liberal we choose not to use fear.  That is a tool of the right.  Hope?  Well, hope works but it’s a slow dull tool that only works when the more base needs on Maslow’s hierarchy have been met.  Given the current environment in America, a lot of people have been taken over by their pressing economic needs (actual or perceived) or the fears which have been so carefully inculcated by the two dominant wings of the monolithic party, people are too preoccupied with their basic needs.  So, what are we going to do?

I was rereading a 77 year old anti-war brochure by a highly decorated USMC Major General named Smedley Butler, called War is a Racket.  I was struck by many points in it that are relevant to today.  Not from an anti-war perspective, though I am.  (Honestly, I believe that the vast majority of people of all political persuasions are.  I sincerely believe that it is a very small percentage of people who are actually pro-war.  Unfortunately, there is a much larger percentage who are persuaded by fear, but I digress.)  What struck me though was how much of it was relevant to our problems from an economic and political stand point.  Not only the famous Eisenhower quote warning of the military industrial complex that I referenced last week, but through our entire economy.

The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits – ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it.

Of course, it isn’t put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and “we must all put our shoulders to the wheel,” but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket – and are safely pocketed.

Both the Democrats and Republicans have used this fear to keep America on a war footing for decades.  Whether it be the War on Drugs, the Cold War, the War on Terror, or what have you, by keeping the people constantly distracted and afraid, then it feeds into the bubble of higher profits.  The real difference over the last 40 years is that the far right has succeeded in removing any responsibility for paying for this.  They are succeeding with their “Starve the Beast” campaign to bankrupt America.

In the short term, there really isn’t much we can do except to keep fighting the good fight.  In the long run though, history is a clear march of progress.  There are bumps in the road.  Some of them are quite severe.  (Dark ages any one?  Brought on by a radical conservative reaction!)  In the end though, we as a species continue making progress.  Or, we will die out.  Those are really the only two choices.

In 2006 at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, Stephen Colbert put it quite nicely in his disarmingly humorous way, “And, reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

The Soul of a Party

There are those who still believe that the Democratic party can represent the liberal positions in America.  In fact, there are still those who still somehow believe that the current Democratic party does actually represent the liberal positions in America today.  This is really ludicrous.  There are the occasional positions which do qualify as center-left which the Democrats loosely support, but there are very few, if any, which the party has supported broadly and seriously which actually qualify as liberal in the last 30 or so years.

Any party will have some variation.  That is to be expected, of course.  It is normal and healthy even.  But, when a party ranges from center to center-right, and then the far right tries to label it as liberal, well, “Houston, we have a problem.”  Of course, it’s only a problem when the public buys in.  And, that is precisely what the public has done, because the media has been complicit in the game.  Whether that is through laziness or ignorance, I honestly don’t know, but the impact has been the same.

There are a few candidates out there though who cast themselves in with one party or the other only because they know that the majority of the voters firmly believe that any vote for a “third party” is a wasted vote.  The majority of voters have not yet recognized that the true wasted vote, and the wasted political dollar, is the one cast to the “two major parties.”  These are candidates, like Ron Paul on the far right, who still maintains that he is a Libertarian (the refuge of the truly far right and a few extremely socially liberal and otherwise politically ignorant persons, or socially liberal and extremely far right fiscally, which is a cop out position), but run under a party banner in order to try to take advantage of the machine and to not lose voters who automatically dismiss the “third party” candidates.

Today though, let’s take a look at two candidates that are running under the Democratic banner.  One that actually qualifies as a progressive liberal and one that is clearly not.  Our regressive candidate is Nathan Russo, running for U.S. House of Representatives Georgia District 1.  Our progressive candidate is Nicholas Ruiz, III, running for U.S. House of Representatives Florida District 7.

This is not about personality, education, or even experience.  However, should you wish to compare those things you can find that information on their sites, linked above.  This is strictly about comparing their platforms and positions as staked out on their sites.  Russo’s platform is found here and  here, and all quotes below are taken directly from there.  Ruiz’ platform is found here, and likewise all quotes below are taken directly from there.

And I would take our National Guard soldiers and put them on the boarders until we could approach a near 100% closure for illegal aliens.

Curtail use of National Guard troops in Ongoing Military Actions by increasing army size through draft initiative.

Promote the introduction of a bill to reintroduce the draft for all men (after they have completed high school or are over the age of 18-whichever come first by lottery) to increase size of army and let National Guard patrol our boarders.

(I am going to leave aside the need for spelling education.)

These are not liberal, or even center-right positions.  These are dangerously right positions.  These are taken directly from Nathan Russo’s platform.  Reinstate the national draft?  Excuse me?  First, the draft is still in place.  That is why all young men are required to sign up with selective service at 18.  So, we’ll ignore the ignorance of the law for the moment.  Second though, and more importantly, because I understand what he actually means, which is that he wants to actually start reimplementing the draft.  And, why?  To INCREASE the size of the military.  Increase it?  Really?

Now, look just a wee bit closer.  What did he say?  “after they have completed high school or are over the age of 18-whichever come first by lottery”  Whichever comes first?  So, first, we’re throwing back to excluding women from this requirement.  So, apparently this policy will remain sexist.  Second, if a young man turns 18 but hasn’t graduated high school and his number comes up, too damn bad.  Get your ass in the military, boy!  *sigh*  Has this man thought through what he’s saying?

Even a self-described “progressive Republican” in his final address as president in 1960 warned against this kind of foolishness:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Now, to attempt to seal the borders in this way is not only not a liberal approach to the situation, but it is a laughably ineffective solution.  And, then what?  Are we going to keep these troops on the border forever?  It’s not an actual solution.  It is a dog and pony show of epic proportions.

Another example from Russo:

We need to review the loop holes that allow American companies to move their headquarters offshore to avoid paying taxes i.e Transfere Pricing Arrangements through offshore subsidiaries. Most corporations in America never pay the 35% corporate tax but somewhere in the range of 20-25% which is similar to rates of other western countries and China. So if we remove the loopholes and return the corporate tax rates to this range maybe we can get the Corporations to bring the jobs back to America.

Okay.  This starts off center-right.  Closing loopholes seems pretty reasonable, but then he starts showing that far right leaning again.  Reducing the rate even further?  So, the net effect is to leave it precisely where it is.  What then is the point?  I am really not sure.  I know though what the effect would be.  The effect would be to actually cut jobs.  It would cut accountant and tax lawyers.  I am not a fan of tax lawyers, necessarily, but unless there is a reason to cut jobs, there is no benefit to this position, and what it appears to be is a sneaky presentation of a far right position.

While Liberals and Conservatives agree that there is fat in the Federal budget, that Russo would reference:

Ask Tom Coburn- Senate Republican

Tom Coburn well known for his fiscal and social conservatism is an odd choice.  See where we often disagree is where the bloat is.  It is clear from the parts of Russo’s platform above that he doesn’t see any bloat in the military and, in fact, wants to increase it.  That, my friends, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, is nothing but a conservative, and a very far right conservative position.

In fairness, Russo does have some interesting and center-left ideas in his platform, as well.
But real immigration reform means redlining the bureaucratic paperwork in Washington to make it easier for our farmers to bring foreign field workers to this country and develop a healthcare fund for them that both the worker and the farmer would contribute to. The farmer could take a 1 and ½ time tax credit for his contribution and the foreign worker would not be a burden on our healthcare system any more.

This is an interesting idea.  It is not a truly liberal idea, but it is not the far right ideas that we’ve seen above.

Another good idea that Russo has on his platform and that mainly I put here because I think it should be shared, is:

Introduce a bill eleminating Presidential Signing Statements

I am not sure that counts as a liberal idea, because to me it is just a good idea.  However, as I said, I think it needs to be spread around!

Now, let’s look at our other Democratic candidate’s platform.

I’ll start a New Deal Caucus in our U.S. House of Representatives – The New Deal Caucus will embody every successful aspect of FDR’s New Deal, with upgrades for the 21st century circumstances that we face. A primary component of the New Deal Caucus agenda, would be to implement a new Works Progress Administration, that puts people to work doing jobs they can do, to help our country and to help one another to survive, prosper and move ahead in these difficult times.

That’s a big claim.  To start a New Deal Caucus would require others to join in.  We’ll leave that aside for the moment, because what matters to this discussion is that his platform is the claim that he will!  This is progressive.  This is Liberal.  Even though it is a throw back to an earlier time, it is still a progressive solution to our current issues.  To create a new Works Progress Administration is an idea that should have been done already.  That is precisely what should have been done with the stimulus package.  America has a crumbling infrastructure.  Our bridges and roads are falling to pieces.  We could have put people to work rebuilding  these.  This is a liberal idea.  This is problem solving rather than sticking one’s head in the sand.

We need to harness the power of the financial Market (i.e. Wall Street) for the Public – I will support and/or sponsor legislation for the creation of a Public Trust, that is, a 10% issuance of public shares of all publicly traded companies, and a 10% issuance of all tradable derivatives (e.g. crude oil, gold, etc.) for the financing of public interests (e.g. healthcare, education, social security, etc.). The financial bailouts of 2008-2009 have proven that we have the political will to connect the Market sphere to the Public sphere in ways previously unimaginable, for the benefit of financial stability and reinvestment in American interests. If the American government (i.e. public) can help to support the financial markets, the financial markets can reciprocate the favor. The Market should work for the Public, as well as the reverse.

This is both brilliant and liberal.  If we can bail out the markets, then we can make the markets work for us.  We have been investing in the markets for years.  All of our 401(k)s, money markets, pensions, etc are invested in the markets.  We bought into Detroit, the banks etc when we bailed them out.  Now, why wouldn’t we do this?

Equality – I am absolutely in favor of equality for same sex marriage rights in every conceivable fashion. It’s one of the great civil rights questions of our era – and like other civil rights battles before it, total equality is the only answer.

There is no more liberal position.  Every movement towards equality has been brought to you by liberals.  It has been fought against by conservatives.  This is not an attack.  It is simply a statement of fact.

Every single position on Ruiz’s platform is actually a liberal position. It is a position that I can whole-heartedly support.  My one regret is that I neither get to vote for Ruiz, nor against Russo.  They are simply two candidates that have come to my attention for various reasons.  However, should you be in their districts, I do hope you will take these facts into consideration.

Reagan the moderate?

Let me be clear from the outset.  I am not now, nor have I ever been, a fan of Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America.  I think that it is very clear that the man did a lot of damage to this country.  Certainly there are a few positive things that can be said of him, but I am sure if we looked hard enough we could find positive things to say about anyone.  And, I am one of those who really does believe that he was really too far gone by the time he was president to actually be making very many decisions himself directly.  I tend to believe him when, during the Iran-Contra disgrace investigations, he repeatedly said, “I don’t recall.”

Having said that, today’s point is to illustrate fairly clearly that the demi-god of the right, Reagan would by today’s standards be considered too liberal to get a seat at the conservative table, much less be considered a conservative leader.  Let’s look at some examples.

Pro-choice/Anti-choice – In today’s world, this is a litmus test for many on the right.  “Are you opposed to a woman’s right to choose?  Would you support all moves to overturn Roe v Wade?”  So, what was Reagan’s record?

In 1967, Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act while governor of California.  While this was a move he later came to claim to regret, it was significant in that it dramatically increased women’s rights and made abortions safer.  It also increased the number of abortions in the state from approximately 5000 to over 100,000.  This was later followed by a clear recanting of this position, but simply having done this would have disqualified him forever more in today’s conservative world.

Can you imagine a Republican/conservative presidential nominee today who was not, at least publicly, staunchly anti-choice?  I know they’ll call themselves “pro-life”, but they give up the right to that title when they also support the death penalty and the movement as a whole gave up the right to that title in the 1980s when members started killing doctors and there was fairly widespread support of it.  There is still fairly mainstream support for it!

TaxesGrover Norquist is one of the most powerful men on the right of whom most people have never heard.  Since, 1985 Norquist has managed to twist arms and exact a pledge against raising taxes from so many Republicans that he has played King maker.  He has mythologized it to claim that he came up with the pledge when he was 12 years old.  Here’s the list of 2012 candidates that have signed, just to illustrate the reach today.  If a candidate refuses to sign, then Norquist supports his opponent and funnels massive amounts of money and other resources in to defeat the resister.

“In the 112th Congress, 238 House members and 41 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 13 governors and 1249 state legislators have taken the pledge.”

The pledge reads in part:

          ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and

TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates

I will leave aside the ridiculousness of this position for another time and discussion, and simply compare this to Reagan’s own positions, as that is my point today.  As we discussed in a previous blog (Abe Lincoln paid $1,296 in income taxes in 1864), the top marginal tax rate when Reagan took office was 70%.  Reagan came into office promising to reduce taxes, and he did.  Dramatically.  He then had to continually raise taxes.  A total of 11 times, and close tax loop holes like he did with the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  The two things that Norquist has squeezed out of the Republican party in the intervening years.

Where are the modern Republicans/conservatives that are willing to raise taxes or close loop holes in order to deal with the mess we’re in?  To pay for the two wars we fought?  To pay for the prescription drug coverage that was needed, “after all, Republicans created it”, and enacted under George Bush, but was not paid for? That would be far too liberal for a modern conservative, but that is precisely what their hero Reagan did.

Immigration – The conservatives have stood firmly against any “amnesty” for the last 20ish years.  They have used this to block every serious attempt at compromise from the center-right (Democrats) to reach a “solution” to the undocumented immigrant “problem” in the US.  At another time we’ll get into the issues surrounding all of that.  However, while the conservatives rallying cry on this issue has been “No amnesty!”, in 1986, Reagan signed into law the Immigration Reform and Control Act.  This act gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants AND their families that had been in the country prior to 1982.

Again, do you see any modern conservatives being willing to allow for this?  If it is even remotely suggested, then that person is attacked for being “outside the mainstream” and being a liberal.

LGBT Equality – Though we now see the advent of the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, it is still very difficult to argue that the modern conservative movement is not solidly and broadly opposed to LGBT equality in any form.  While we cannot argue that Reagan was pro-LGBT equality, we do find interest facts.  For example, Reagan was instrumental in defeating the 1978 Proposition 6 in California which would have allowed the firing of teachers for being gay or lesbian.  He also was the first president to host an openly gay couple at the White house when for Nancy’s 60th birthday party, they hosted Ted Graber and Archie Case in the guest suite.  Hell, he even was the first president to give the highest possible security clearance to an openly gay intelligence officer!  In the days before  Bill Clinton’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was supposed to be such a bit step forward.  All of which are significant for the time.

We do, of course, have to contrast that with his administration’s delayed response to the AIDS epidemic that was coming on at the time, and his own prescription that abstinence was the best way to respond, which were both unacceptable.  As I said, we can’t argue that he was pro-LGBT equality, but he was by comparison a lot further along than most of the right is today.  Compare that to what happened in the last few days with Richard Grenell who was driven out of his position as Mitt Romney’s spokesman on national security and foreign policy issues because he is gay.  We can compare that with Renew America’s statements regarding Romney’s appointment of Grenell:

 Since, as the saying goes in D.C., personnel is policy, this means Gov. Romney has some ‘splaining to do. This clearly is a deliberate and intentional act on his part, since he was well aware of Mr. Grenell’s sexual proclivities and knew it would be problematic for social conservatives. It’s certainly not possible that there are no other potential spokesmen available, men who are experts in foreign policy and who at the same time honor the institution of natural marriage in their personal lives.

So this has all the appearances of a deliberate poke in the eye to the pro-family community, and a clumsy one at that, coming right on the heels of endorsements from Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas and the National Organization for Marriage, and right after the governor accepted an invitation to deliver the commencement address at Liberty University.

There was much about Reagan that would still be considered conservative even today.  These positions. though. are so “liberal” by today’s standards (even though they really aren’t), that the Gipper couldn’t even get a seat at the table with those who worship his name.  And, yet, the scariest part is that he has so much more in common with Obama, than their differences.

This is what I mean when I say that the right has been successful at dragging the political center to the right.  So far to the right that the “center” is now buried deep in “enemy” territory!  We have to reclaim the dialogue and let Liberal mean liberal again.  Not continue to allow them define liberal as center right!

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