Dear GOP: Boehner quit you, not the other way around

"Goodbye, nut jobs!" -What John Boehner quite possibly could be thinking right now. (Photo Credit: Associated Press)

“Goodbye, nut jobs!” -What John Boehner quite possibly could be thinking right now. (Photo Credit: Associated Press)

Alright, the headline is slightly misleading, since outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH, didn’t actually quit the Republican Party, but his surprising resignation, nonchalant attitude at his press conference, and subsequent trashing of fellow Republicans and conservative groups, like Texas Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz, seemed to indicate a man who could no longer stand what’s become of his beloved party. The Republicans are in disarray, helped by a huge swing to the far right, allowing fringe elements to infect the party at almost every level, leaving establishment members like Boehner little choice by to take a lifeboat to safety.

Boehner isn’t the first high-profile Republican to essentially jump ship in recent years. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell–a lifelong Republican–famously endorsed President Obama not once, but twice, and chastises his party (he still considers himself a Republican) often on television. Longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter switched parties not long after Obama’s election, and others are sure to follow. Not all will take the same or similar routes pursued by moderates like Powell or Specter, but Boehner is not the first and nor will he be the last big Republican name to call it a day.

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What’s goin’ on?

Things we’ve been reading:

First, a friend of mine shared this.

I lightly broke it down (do read it) with this response:

1. Referring to yourself and/or group of friends as “bro” seriously might as well be a sign you’re a douchcanoe.
2. “Midnight or after, if you have been talking for awhile and they’ve had a couple drinks, ask if they want to dance. If you see an untalked to group or a solo girl, go up to her and ask if she wants anything to drink. If she says yes, get her a drink and then ask if she wants to dance. If she says no, ask her to dance. DANCING IS FUN!!!!! Always try to dance. If she does not want to dance and is with friends, say “aw thats no fun” (or something like that) and then ask one of her friends.”
I thought the stereotype was that guys don’t like to dance, which made the all caps insistence DANCING IS FUN massively humorous. But is DANCING FUN with creepy guys who call each other “bro?”
He really does need to learn about the body though. There’s a lot in between “just under the boob” and “fingering her.”  Just sayin’.
3. “If she starts putting her hair over her ear, THAT MEANS SHE WANTS A KISS.”
I had no idea this was part of the mating ritual of humans. I’m sure my husband is stewing “That feminist bitch I married never puts her hair over my ear, dammit.”
WTF is he talking about? Well, he sure is fond OF ALL CAPS.
4. ” 6. Ejaculate (should also be self explanatory) ”
No, I’m sorry, I don’t follow, care to explain? Preferably in ALL CAPS, AMIRITE BROS? How many women do you think this “bro” *shudder* has so cleverly used this MASSIVELY AWESOME ADVICE ON, [name of friend]? Success rates count.

Also, why are people so stupid to think emails won’t be leaked, etc? Geez.

In other news:

Internet memes: love them, hate them

Oh, social media, you entertain us on myriad levels. As a frequent Facebook user I am subjected to Internet memes on a daily basis. Sometimes they are inspiring and funny, other times they are annoying and infuriating. I rarely comment on the ones I find offensive or misleading, but two memes I recently saw compelled me to respond.

The first:

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This image was posted by ClashDaily.com with Doug Giles with the following hash tags: #‎irs ‪#‎nsa ‪#‎benghazi ‪#‎doj ‪#‎fastnfurious ‪#‎scandals

If the guy who posted this and all the hateful commenters had done a minimal amount of research, they would know the “scandals”—IRS, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, and Solyndra—were overblown, in particular with regard to allegations of direct White House involvement or malfeasance. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be investigations or at least assessments about what went wrong in these situations.  Darrell Issa, however, in his zealousness, has made repeated attempts to connect the White House (e.g. – President Obama) to these incidences, with little success. On the other hand, the NSA surveillance issue has major privacy implications and should be investigated thoroughly.

Still, conservative calls for Obama to resign are hypocritical. We heard nary a peep from these same quarters when George W: lied about weapons of mass destruction, started a war of choice that was a major disaster on so many levels—both financial and in American and Iraqi lives; allowed the torture (illegal) of suspected terrorists; and surveilled Americans without warrants through telecom companies.

The Obama bashing in the comments section was disgusting to say the least. Liberals are good at bashing the other side too, so I do not expect a different standard of online conduct from conservatives, though reasoned disagreement instead of slinging insults would be nice from everyone. Yeah, I know, I’m living in a fantasy world.

The second meme was posted and shared several times on Facebook: “You tell me…what’s the difference?”

meme

Let me tell you the difference.

The difference is that while both killings are tragedies, the police in Charleston did their job and arrested the killers of this white teenager and conducted a solid investigation. However, the same cannot be said in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, the Florida police in that community gave a collective yawn over the killing of an unarmed black teenager, basically slapping Zimmerman on the wrist and sending him home that same night, and only further investigating the murder after a national outcry.

The difference is not that a black child received national attention while a white child was ignored. If that is the argument some are trying to make, then one could refute it by pointing out that when girls/young women go missing in the United States and receive national media attention, they are mostly white. Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS) is a phrase coined by social scientists and media commentators to describe the “wall-to-wall coverage” given in media reporting, especially television, to missing person cases involving young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Examples are here, here, here, and here.

When I researched this meme further, I discovered that the woman who created it did so because it hit close to home, not because of the racial component and media attention that many people have been suggesting. Still, the fact that she created it and asked the question about the “difference” makes one question her motive; it does seem to suggest a racial bias message.

Memes, political ones in particular, create quick impressions by fusing images with words and phrases that incite the emotions, causing us to respond very quickly to a post without taking a moment to pause about why it resonates so strongly with us, be it positively or negatively. The two memes I discuss in this post, are relatively tame; many others are not. Use  caution on social media and understand what it is you are “liking” and/or sharing before doing so. Remember, it’s your reputation out there in cyberspace.

Read both stories here:

Cross-posted at The Feisty Liberal

Systems, Ideology, and the Need for Rational Conservatism

Thinking about Bobby’s post, “What the Heck Does Progressive Mean, Anyway?” got me to thinking about ideology in general, and how it affects the larger collective ‘We.’ It occurs to me thus:

At their core, liberals-or ‘progressives’-are agents of change, while conservatives are agents of consistency. This is an oversimplification of an irreducible complexity, but I hope an accurate shorthand for the roles these ideologies play in society. The type of society does not matter-every society has reformers and conservatives, even societies where reformers are likely to be shot, like Stalin’s Soviet Union. The primary implication of this is going to be most distateful to partisans on both sides: liberals and conservatives need each other.

Conservatives need liberals to drive change and adaptation, while liberals need conservatives to moderate the process and prevent runaway reactions. The reasons why are simple: while adapt or die is the evolutionary imperative,  one cannot escape the rules governing the operations of systems.Damn Systems Theory! Anyway, what this means is that there is certainly a danger of too much change, too rapidly-in system terms, this means unregulated change spreading throughout the system in all directions-and again, one gets the result one always gets when one tries to operate a system without regulation: an explosion. This is the primary danger of runaway liberalism, and why liberalism must be moderated by elements of conservatism, in order to assure that change is  orderly, adaptive, and in keeping with the spirit of the values that have proven to do the most for the most. Runaway change is an explosion. Runaway growth is cancer. In every case, the need for a moderator is self-evident.

The problem with excessive conservatism takes a little longer to become apparent, but is no less destructive. The danger is that rigid consistency creates a failure to adapt to a changing world, or even changing local circumstances. Disabuse yourself of the notion, right now, that adaptation is anything other than an ongoing, dynamic, continuous process. Not an event, but a continuum. In other words, constant change is absolutely essential to the long-term health and survival of the system-any system, including political systems. As agents of change-as a friend said, “liberals are people who look at history and say, “We can do better”-this is the natural role of the liberal reformer in whatever ideological medium you’re soaking in right now.

This is also the answer to those conservatives whom espouse the position that pacifistic liberals need militaristic conservatives to protect them, while seeing no need for liberals at all. While to many it may seem like a good idea, shipping all the liberals off to the James Watt Memorial Wild Liberal Refuge would only polarize the remainder. Again-there are no monopoles. Cut a magnet in two-you get two magnets, each with their own bipolar gradient. There will still be reformers and reactionaries, leverage and resistant. Systems just work that way.

Yes, as a liberal, it does at times feel like what that nameless German general described, referring to the WWI alliance with Austria-Hungary, as being “shackled to a corpse.” It feels like every inch of progress has to be fought over, every issue contested, no matter how small, and regardless of whether it was previously supported. It feels like conservatism, as practiced in the US today, has stopped being concerned with quality of governance and devolved almost entirely into a malignant ideology of absolutism, contempt for science and education, propaganda, and fear. It looks more and more like postmodern conservatism has absolutely no concern with questions of truth, justice, or even basic competence, but rather with whatever will most effectively destroy any rivals for power, and with a nihilistic disregard for either tradition or consequences, as demonstrated by the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff debacles, by the disgraceful treatment of Chuck Hagel by the Senate Republicans, as demonstrated by a million bizarre Obama Derangement Syndrome conspiracy theories. It feels like postmodern conservatism demands incompetence in order to prove that government doesn’t work. It feels like some of them may actually have lost their minds. It feels like all of that.

And this is why it is so important to support rational conservatives: we need them. the US needs far more John Huntsmans and Chuck Hagels than it does Ted Cruzs and Marco Rubios and other dog-whistling FOX/Limbaugh acolytes. Because, in the end, that is how the system works: liberals are either going to share influence with a conservative establishment who believes in honest competition in the arena of ideas, or it is going to share it with a ruthless, irrational, extremist, angry, golem of a conservative ideology that conflates conservatism with nihilism and reasoning with outrage, and believes in being heavily armed and using threats of violence. So, for the political scientists: How does a progressive promote the resurgence of a rational conservative party without undermining liberalism?

Because the future of conservatism is far too important to be left to just the conservatives.