CAN WE, PLEASE, FIX THE SENATE?

Good post here, and I agree with every word. There needs to be more bipartisanship in the Senate, and partisan obstructionist Mitch McConnell needs to go. He is worse than useless. He also has way too much power. McConnell’s obstructionism and repeated blocking of letting the senators vote on reopening the government is selfish and dangerous, and is hurting thousands of government workers and other innocent people.

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cabbagesandkings524

How can the United States Senate be pulled back from the disaster of winner-take-all, scorched-earth partisanship? The only answer I can think of that could work is a return of the filibuster for all Presidential appointments. If the standard for Senate confirmation of an appointment is sixty votes (3/5), or even 66 (2/3), a number of features of the system are changed:

Presidents would have to choose nominees who are able to get significant bipartisan support, who are not radical and divisive, or of questionable qualifications.

Senate majority leaders could not rely on party-line votes to approve nominations.

Senators would have to (at least some of them) actually think about the nominees (rather than just vote the party line) and debate (rather than just yell at each other) their qualifications.

Candidates for the Senate and President who take uncompromising positions would become less attractive.

The Senate could become more like…

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Why the Fairness Doctrine needs to return.

Just-the-Facts-Maam

I’m old enough to remember the days when the news was simply the news and the  various networks and other outlets didn’t differ much or at all in what they reported, only slightly in style.   Reporters were mostly emotionally detached and broadcasted the events of the day without much partisan opinion or editorializing.  When they did, an opposing viewpoint would always be presented.     Sure, mainstream news back then could be boring and dry.  Opinion is  based on emotion, and an emotional, sensationalized delivery of the news is more enticing and sells better than the reciting of facts.   Old-school reporters and anchors were well respected even though they never were considered celebrities.

Until the 1980s, American mainstream news was for the most part “fair and balanced,” with only actual facts delivered or both sides given airtime when an issue was politically controversial.   Sure, there were always tabloids that were more sensationalized or opinionated, but they weren’t taken very seriously by most people and even they didn’t usually descend into telling outright lies.   Highly partisan journalism was relegated to op-ed pieces, guest spots, and letters sections.    Opinions were clearly stated as such. There was good investigative journalism like 60 Minutes or Hard Copy if you liked a little more intrigue and excitement in your news, but it was still based on facts, not opinion and pure emotion.

Today, it’s very hard to find an American mainstream news outlet that isn’t partisan.   To do so, you almost have to rely on foreign news outlets like the BBC or public radio (which Trump has marked for elimination in his budget).   On the left, the most famous examples are MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times (the last being somewhat more centrist and less politically partisan than the others); on the right, there is Fox News, Breitbart News (which has become almost mainstream due to its enormous popularity) and many of the tabloid daily papers, both on- and offline.   Now we have Trump TV, an actual propaganda channel owned by the far-right Sinclair Broadcasting that veers dangerously close to state TV like they have in Russia or North Korea.

News outlets are not required to let you know if what they are reporting are facts or opinion, and it’s been this way for thirty years.   The problem has gotten so bad that Fox News can report outright lies — such as the Seth Rich story and denial of climate change — as facts.   On the left, the problem hasn’t gotten quite that bad (yet), but I have noticed the loaded and leading questions posed to right-wing politicians and guests, and a lot of liberal editorializing and opinions without opposing opinions providing a leavening agent.

Newscasters are now celebrities.  Market share and popularity has eclipsed factual, ethical reporting and responsible journalism.  Opinionated pundits (much like our president) rely on the force of their personalities over honesty and public service.   In so doing, they have won rabid followers and have influenced politics itself,  regardless of facts.   I’m not trying to be biased, but it seems this problem is especially prevalent on right-wing radio and on Fox News, where reactionary pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly need not stick with facts at all.  They can tell outright lies and spend the rest of their time building loyalty and vilifying “the other side” using name-calling and demonizing those with different views (that’s how “liberal” got to be a dirty word and “feminazi” Hillary Clinton got to be so vilified by conservatives), emotional rhetoric, and outright propaganda.   The problem exists on the left too, but not to the same degree as on the right.   In general, the mainstream news in 2017 is more entertainment than anything else, and yet people on both sides of the political spectrum take it more to heart than ever.

The problem seems to have started in 1987, with Reagan’s elimination of a little-known FCC policy called The Fairness Doctrine.  According to Wikipedia, The Fairness Doctrine, which was made into law in 1947, did the following:

It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The demise of this FCC rule has been considered by some to be a contributing factor for the rising level of party polarization in the United States.

The Fairness Doctrine was the reason why the news prior to 1987 seemed less compelling and more “boring” than it does today.   Sticking with facts or giving both sides equal time just didn’t sell as well, and networks wanted to make as much money as they could. The easiest way to do that was to turn the news into entertainment (“infotainment”) and appeal to pure emotion and their own greed instead of education and public service.  Removing the Fairness Doctrine allowed them to market the news the same way a new product or sitcom could be marketed, and not have to bother with presenting opposing viewpoints.   After all, a Ford commercial didn’t have to also present the advantages of buying a Chevrolet, so why should the news have give both sides a voice?

At first, the law’s removal seemed innocuous enough, even harmless.  No one really gave much thought to the way it could lead to democracy itself becoming endangered.   No one seriously considered how  such a little thing could lead to the dumbing-down of the population so they would no longer know how to think critically or consider any point of view outside their comfort zone.   Wasn’t it a good thing for everyone if the news could be made more exciting and entertaining to its consumers, while at the same time making the owners and sponsors more profitable?   It was a win-win, right?

Not by a long shot.   The dangers of removing the Fairness Doctrine were insidious.  Over time, the lines between facts and opinions (and later, outright lies and facts) became increasingly blurred, so that by 2017, most people no longer trust the mainstream media or can tell for certain what are facts and what’s fake news.  Such a distinction — where people know what’s real and what isn’t — is vital to retain a democratic system where an unethical or even dangerous “cult of personality” cannot arise easily or at all.    Another major problem was the way it led to the political polarization we see today.   Being required to present opposing opinions in reporting kept people from drifting to either the very far left or the very far right.  It may seem like a small thing, but it was the Reagan-era removal of this little FCC law that started us down the slippery slope to fake news and political propaganda reported as fact, which in turn led to the political extremism and hatred that divides our nation.

The removal of the Fairness Doctrine is only one example of how dangerously out of control deregulation has become.   It’s time for the FCC to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.  It might be the most important way the divisions between us can be bridged and our  democracy be saved.

Partisan politics? Or right vs. wrong?

Before this blog changed its focus, a few times I said that religion and politics were subjects I wanted to avoid.  I was afraid of putting people off who may not agree with my political and religious beliefs.    It’s ironic that now those two things seem to have become my main focus.

I feel called to write about them now because they are both so intertwined and both have been corrupted by unbridled greed and narcissism.   This isn’t just partisan politics as usual.  It’s not liberal vs. conservative.  It’s not about transgender bathrooms or gay marriage or whether abortion should be federally funded or not.

We’re not in the same world anymore, when people could fight over whether George W. Bush or Barack Obama was the better president or had the better policies.   Both men, in my opinion, were at heart moral men.  Both made mistakes, sometimes big ones.  Neither were perfect.  Neither were bad people and neither deliberately tried to destroy our country.   You might have preferred one over the other based on your political or religious leanings, and you would have had good reasons for feeling the way you did either way (even if I didn’t agree with your reasons).

But we’re no longer in that universe.   Things are not normal.  This isn’t politics as usual.  Trump is not a normal president and he is not a good or moral man.  Neither are the people who are working for him.  Say what you want about Hillary Clinton (and I wasn’t a huge fan myself), but there is no way any rational person could think that Trump is the better person.   I’ll just leave it at that because I know how polarizing Ms. Clinton is.

When you have a president who is actively trying to tear down democracy  itself,  who appears to be dead set on harming or killing tens of millions of people by dismantling their safety nets, who wants to build a wall against our ally to the south, who threatens to take away Medicare and Medicaid, who denies that our climate is changing and denies science itself, who intends to destroy the laws that protect our environment, who writes up a budget that de-fund any programs that improve the quality of our lives, who gaslights anyone who disagrees with him or disapproves of his policies, who lies on a daily basis, who refuses to release his tax returns, who is pathologically envious of his predecessor and started a smear campaign against him (the “birther” lies),  who fires an honest FBI agent for investigating possible collusion with a hostile foreign power, who has shady business dealings (possibly with a hostile foreign power), who hires family members  (who also have shady business dealings) with no experience for cabinet positions, who is isolating us from our allies (the same way narcissists will try to isolate you from your support systems), who chooses people for cabinet positions for the sole purpose of destroying the very things their departments are supposed to protect, who is vindictive, who threatens, who bullies and calls other people abusive names, who mocks the disabled, who brags about grabbing women’s private parts, who shows no empathy toward anyone, who tweets constantly about how badly he is treated, who never apologizes or admits wrongdoing, who calls any news he doesn’t like fake, who encourages violence and hatred and racism at his rallies, who admits he doesn’t even need God’s forgiveness  — well, then we are no longer talking about partisan politics as usual.  We are talking about right versus wrong, good versus evil.

I have a background in narcissistic abuse as the survivor of narcissists and sociopaths, and now I can see clear as day the massive narcissistic abuse occurring on the national level with this president and his cold-hearted cabinet members who care only about money and power, and gleefully celebrate the prospect of taking healthcare away from millions of people.

So I feel like I’ve been called to shed light on the truth and help expose the lies and abuse and corruption in this presidency.    I feel like I’ve been called to speak up for those who have no power and no voice.   No, I’m not special or any different from anyone else; many other people have also recognized this need and are doing the same thing I am.   I feel like if I wasn’t doing this, I would be failing in what I know I’ve been called to do.

It’s exhausting, and some days I just can’t deal with it.   Some days I feel so depressed over all this I just want to lie down and never wake up.   Some days I feel so filled with despair, scared, and helpless — much the same way I felt as a little child in a narcissistic family.   Some days I’ve actually cried about it.  (Go ahead and call me a snowflake).

I’ve been on a blogging roll the past few days, but I think the occasional hopelessness and terror that overcomes me is what has been keeping me from posting for days at a time. This work is exhausting and saps your energy.   Sometimes I just need a break from it to stay sane.

When I wrote about my own abuse situation, I was already No Contact with my narcissists.  It was easier to write every day about it because I wasn’t in the midst of it anymore.   It was easier to process from a distance.   It was cathartic and therapeutic to spill out everything here on my blog.

But now, I feel like I’m back in the midst of the abuse, only in an abusive situation that’s so much bigger and more dangerous than the other ones, and sometimes I feel incredibly tiny and helpless.  Sometimes I feel like there’s nothing I can do at all, like there’s nothing anyone can do.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on the Titanic and I know it’s going to sink and I know I won’t get a lifeboat and there’s not a damn thing I can do except hope and pray for a miracle.

At the same time, I know that giving into despair and helplessness or fear won’t help me or anyone.  Giving in and giving up means THEY win.

We cannot allow the bullies and abusers to win.   We have to fight back. We can’t throw our hands up and say, “oh, well, there’s nothing I or anyone can do.  The situation is hopeless.”

We may be weak and scared but there are more of us than them.   A lot more.

I know I’ve been prepared for many years  for the work I have to do now, and writing about the spiritual war going on in this country right now (I do believe it is a spiritual war) and exposing the abuse and the lies is something I feel compelled to do, even though it’s not fun and is sometimes personally triggering.

For some reason I don’t understand, I have a sinking feeling about the healthcare bill vote tomorrow.  Mitch McConnell and the rest of the greedy sociopaths trying to take away the safety net of millions of Americans are relentless and merciless.   They don’t care about us.  They don’t care how much we protest and plead.   They turn a deaf ear to the tragic stories so many people tell them.

They just don’t stop, no matter how many times their heartless bill fails to pass.  They are dead set on getting their lousy tax break, no matter how many people they hurt and how insane and panic-stricken they are making so many thousands, if not millions, of people feel.   It is truly crazymaking, the way they keep trying to ram it through over and over and over.   You can’t ever relax, you’re constantly on guard, constantly worried and panicked. I wish they would just drop it already. I wish they would engage Democrats and work together to try to improve the ACA instead (or come up with something that really is better), but nope, they want things their way.   They want their damned tax breaks.  They refuse to compromise.

I feel like it’s going to pass this time, and I’m scared, along with millions of others.

But there is something you can do.  It’s not fun and it’s tedious and annoying and time consuming.   We shouldn’t HAVE to be doing this.  It makes me angry that we do.  In no civilized society should we have to fight for our basic rights and even for our lives.   But if you care about saving the Affordable Care Act, you won’t care how tedious or boring or infuriating this task is.

I am asking you to call these people sometime in the next 24 hours, preferably tonight or tomorrow morning.    Please tell them to vote No on the Republican health care bill.

We can’t let them win on this.  It’s immoral and it’s cruel.   It’s not about partisan politics, it’s about lives.  It’s about your children and mine.  It’s about the disabled, the working poor, familes with children, your grandparents, your parents, your sister, your brother, your friends and your neighbors.    It’s about you if you aren’t wealthy or if you are older or have a pre-existing condition.   Even if you have insurance through the place you work, under this bill, employers would no longer be obligated to offer you insurance.  So don’t think you’re not in danger too.

Everyone will get sick.  No matter how healthy you are now, at some point you won’t be.  Even if you never get in an accident or develop a disease like cancer, you will grow old one day and need affordable healthcare.  Unless you are wealthy, under this bill you may be left with no safety net when that happens.

There’s no excuse for this bill that punishes people for being vulnerable, other than greed and possibly, a group of evil people who actually want to see “the takers” and “nonproducers” (anyone who isn’t just like them) suffer and die.

So please make these calls.  I am going to now.

saveaca