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Monday, February 13, 2017

"Representative" Government

Ranked choice voting has recently passed in Maine, which may potentially pave the way for independents and third parties to make inroads into government. And I have to say, in many ways, both the Republicans and the Democrats have outlived their usefulness, becoming more and more alike as the years have passed. All of them are funded by corporations. Yes, yes, the current president can't be bought. Whatever. I'll argue that in a different post - suffice it to say, his most valuable currency is adulation. Regardless, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have consistently demonstrated complete willingness to be bought. While the differences between Trump and any other candidate were stark, the differences between the other various Republican and Democrat candidates during the primaries was a matter of degree. They were all upper class people with upper class problems and upper class disconnect. God knows the Democrats do everything they can to roll over and beg for compromise. At least the Republicans actually take the initiative and push their stuff through, however much I might disagree with their general idiocy.

But honestly, not a single one of these arrogant assholes, Republican or Democrat, is going to be affected directly by a single piece of legislation they pass or block. First of all, for the most part, they're beyond the age of unwanted pregnancy, so things like birth control and prenatal health care are meaningless. They're also beyond the income class of needing to be concerned about any legal repercussions for anything. It doesn't matter if they have immigrants in their families, or whether they have addiction issues. They can buy their way out of everything. So I would argue that the average Democrat has no more incentive than the average Republican at actually fighting for the rights of poor people.

They put on a show, of course. One of my darling senators, Susan Collins, is a prime example. She's a Republican, and often bills herself as a moderate, independent Republican - a vote that we Maine folks can count on to be ours. However, she let that ignorant moron DeVos get out of committee when Collins was perfectly capable of stopping her before the storm started. She pussed out and voted along party lines, so that then she could "take a stand" and vote "no" when her vote was visible. Senator Collins is not young enough - or poor enough - to have children in public school. She has absolutely no incentive to place a decent person in charge of education. None. Why would she possibly care? She has her job, she votes her own pay raises, and as long as she looks like she's representing Maine, she'll keep her job. She's a slimeball.

That's where the pull of independents and third parties comes in. There's this hope that those people might be struggling like the rest of us, or at least might be close enough to the ground that they still maintain some connection to reality. They haven't gotten far enough up to be "worth" being bought, at least on a larger scale. I am definitely tired of the gentry that governs this country. Give me my taciturn neighbor with no academic background but a hell of a lot of work ethic over the rest of these idiots any day.

However, realistically, third party and independent candidates only have a shot if they have money to begin with. It's expensive to run a political campaign, to get yourself noticed, even at the state level. You have to be able to take time off of your job to campaign, you have to be able to find the money to do things like make signs and brochures, and much, much more. You've got to either be independently wealthy or at least directly connected to the directly wealthy.

And that leads us back to the original problem, and the very reason why we may be doomed to remain a two-party oligarchy. The only way a person who is not independently wealthy can reach elected office is to become an active participant in one of the major parties. And once you're backed by a major party, you realize your party's funding comes from corporations and rich people - and you represent your funders. So whatever ideals you might have approached politics with go out the window, as you yourself quietly and quickly reach beyond your original income class - and forget about it altogether.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

What It Really Means to Be Pro-Life

The average person who identifies himself or herself as "pro-life" believes that self-description works because he or she believes in the sanctity of life and that life begins at conception. Thus, abortion is murder, because it takes away life.

But if, as pro-lifers claim, it is the sanctity of life they are focused upon, that would mean, they want to make sure as few abortions happen as possible - because that would mean that the life that begins at conception would be snuffed out the least often.

In which case - studies have proven that when abortion is legalized, fewer abortions happen, period. Why? Because when someone goes to have an abortion, there is less fear, there are counselors, there are options. There isn't fear. Fear is what causes death. It's what causes abortion, even - someone is scared about being pregnant, for a variety of reasons.

For the sake of argument, let's look at this in terms of math, something that people consider fairly objective. Even the flat earth society uses math. Yes, that exists. No, I'm not going to give them the compliment of a link.

Legalized abortions = fewer abortions.
Fewer abortions = less death.
Less death = pro-life.

We can also apply this argument to another argument about life: gun control. WHAT?! We, the pro-choice, were totally willing to hear to purple hippo out until you implied you might oppose that! But yes. Not that we've actually enacted any significant gun control legislation since the racism-motivated and NRA-backed Brady Bill of Reaganomics, but every time we even talk about the idea of additional gun control legislation, people - gasp! - buy more guns. And hoard them. And become more and more afraid of someone trying to come to their houses and take their damned guns.

And what does fear cause? As with making abortion illegal: more death.

I live in a rural hunting state. Now, most advocates of strict gun control laws that I know are still pro-hunting, responsibly, but it doesn't come out that way to the general working class. All we hear is "the government wants to take your guns."

I say this as someone who doesn't own a gun.

I have also never had an abortion.

The thing is, I have compassion for both. Why? Because I have never experienced the fear that leads to either. I'm a purple hippo. I'm scared of absolutely jack shit.

Stifling Warren = Win for the Democrats

Yes, it sucked balls that Elizabeth Warren was made to stop reading the letter from Coretta Scott King. That letter was pertinent to considerations of Sessions as the district attorney. Is it a grand idea to have a homophobic, racist, white supremacist as our D.A.? Of course not. However, when McConnell invoked the fabled Rule 19 to halt Warren's reading of the letter, it was a win for the Democrats, in the long-term. It basically ensures that this asshole will only be our D.A. for a max of four years. It's also a point toward the Democrats taking the midterm elections.


Because Warren is now a martyr. Because the Republicans realized their mistake immediately after it was made, which is why they let three other senators read the same letter aloud in protest. Elizabeth Warren had already achieved goddess-like stature among the standard Democrat crowd, particularly with the young progressives (and some unnamed purple hippos). But now she's got that classic American mythology behind her for all to see: she's the underdog, and she's taking a stand for what she believes in a very nonviolent way, only to have the rug whisked out from beneath her. And from the working class standpoint - those critical voters who fluctuate between the Republicans and the Democrats, wondering who is actually going to help them (hint: none) - when something gets pushed under the rug, they wonder why.

I am a part of this working class.

We don't trust politicians in general. Nor should we. They haven't done anything for us since, oh, maybe LBJ. So when one politician stops another one from talking altogether, we wonder why. We wonder what's being kept from us. We wonder if the guy who is being forced to shut up is the one we should actually listen to.

And we're going to keep right on wondering for the next two years. The more the Republicans stifle the Democrats, the better chance the Democrats have at beating them in the midterms.

Of course, the purple pottamus is going to kick all of their asses and take over the world, because they've all had enough chances to screw it up. Purple hippo in a political china shop, coming through - broken pieces of political royalty all over the floor in my wake. Crush the oligarchy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Introduction: The Purple Pottamus is PISSED

Hello. My name is Jessica Falconer, and I am officially the first, the only, Purple Pottamus Populist. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Even the late great Steve Irwin was afraid of hippos. And this purple hippo is pissed.

My children's education has just been threatened with an idiot who believes in creationism being appointed to Secretary of Education. My African American college roommates' lives and children's lives are about to be threatened by the appointment of white supremacist moron Jeff Sessions. And one of my lovely Maine senators, Susan Collins, is on board. I am going to make it my mission to be as obnoxious as possible to her in response. I promise I will show up to protest every single thing she shows up to here in Maine, and I'll make some of the ones in DC, too. Why? Because I can, so I should. I don't have lots of money - I live in a 1400 square foot 1940s house on the rather decrepit Swan Lake Avenue and I'm a school social worker - but I have a flexible schedule, am capable of taking an inexpensive train, and because others who want to go can't, I've got to represent. This is what I did at the Women's March.

With this presidential election, I almost renounced my Democrat affiliation. I was a registered Libertarian in Texas, and I am so disillusioned with the corruption of the DNC - which is really what won Trump the election - that a part of me wants to watch it die a painful death.

However, instead, I'm going to have fun. I'm going to harness my anger and my greatest talent: being obnoxious. I am going to do everything I can to irritate my legislators as well as the Democratic Party in general. I'm not a donkey and I'm sure as hell not a damned elephant. I'm a hippo and I'm pissed off.