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True Blue Door

Profile Information

Name: Brian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Southern California
Member since: Mon Oct 28, 2013, 05:48 PM
Number of posts: 2,969

About Me

Primary issue interests: Science, technology, history, infrastructure, restoring the public sector, and promoting a fair, honorable, optimistic, and inquisitive society. Personal interests: Science fiction (mainly literature, but also films and TV), pop culture, and humor.

Journal Archives

A Pro and Con for Bernie.

I'm on Bernie's side at this point, so I'll be looking hard for reasons to hope. So far, this is what I keep coming back to, ping-ponging between hope and skepticism about his viability.


Rose from obscurity to the House of Representatives, and from there to the US Senate with no political machine support. The United States Senate is hardly a club that's easy for a lone wolf who openly flouts those who own it to break into. The last guy to accomplish that was Paul Wellstone a generation ago, and he at least had the Party structure backing him, so Bernie has in some respects gone further than Wellstone.


His electorate was the people of Vermont: Fewer people than live in El Paso TX, and demographically homogeneous. So, over multiple decades he managed to slowly convince an El Paso of relatively well-educated, relatively affluent white people to support him enough to get him into the Senate. To call this an inadequate education in national politics would be a surreal understatement.

Whatever the case, he has my vote in lieu of any other primary contender. But this is the subject my brain keeps revolving around.
Posted by True Blue Door | Tue May 5, 2015, 08:26 PM (38 replies)

Taking a radical right-wing position on the part of an outgroup is not "liberalism."

It makes me sick to my stomach seeing some of the more foolish voices on the left twist themselves in ideological and moral knots whenever Islamic radicals murder someone for "insulting Islam" (aka, exercising their fundamental human rights to free speech and freedom of religion). There's no "yeahbut" on the subject - NONE.

Drawing a Muhammed cartoon is not a "provocation" even if it's intended to be one, anymore than a Jewish person breathing air in Europe in 1941 was a "provocation" of the Holocaust. Exercising a right is not a provocation of those who would deny that right. It's simply refusing their tyranny.

Right-wing psychopathy is the source of that tyranny, regardless of where in the world its roots are, what god or book or flag it uses as its cargo cult, and in what language it issues its terrorist threats. A person is not progressive, or reasonable, or enlightened for defending the monsters who terrorize and defame another culture from within, simply because it's another culture. And there is even less excuse for continuing such a delusional exo-Stockholm Syndrome when the terror of such lunatics impinges on your own society from without, erasing all doubt about what the phenomenon represents.

At best this viewpoint sees people from other cultures as mentally handicapped, and inherently incapable of exercising the same basic human morality as we demand from our own culture. Somehow the people exercising their rights are, in this twisted ideological fantasy world, like cruel wardens of a psychiatric hospital poking and prodding the madman until he finally explodes in violence, and thus it's the victims' fault when their peaceful act of religious protest is met with murder.

Well, people in other countries and religions are not children, and they are not insane. They are responsible for their own personal words and actions like everyone else, and the basic standards of moral behavior are not different for anyone with the slightest hint of a conscience. Decency is not relative. It's either there or it isn't, in a given individual heart.

A person who ends a life because someone offended them is an evil piece of shit with no place in human society that doesn't involve barbed wire and steel toilets. And a person who makes excuses for them, echoing their monstrous rhetoric and rationalizations, is a vile coward with no moral compass and the lowest possible opinion of human beings. An opinion no doubt formed by looking in the mirror, then inverted and superimposed on some foreign fetish object.

That's not liberalism - it's not even of the Left. It's the political version of a rape fantasy bought at the cost of other people's lives. It is the lowest, the absolute lowest right-wing perversion that has ever flimsily masqueraded as a progressive viewpoint.
Posted by True Blue Door | Sun May 3, 2015, 11:51 PM (83 replies)

The lesson of Ronald Reagan: How monsters use the truth against itself.

The presidency of Ronald Reagan was before my time (I was watching Sesame Street, not political speeches), so I can't speak with authority on the atmosphere or ethos of the times. But I am aware of history, and make an effort to put myself in its shoes for the sake of greater understanding.

So, I'm struck by one Reagan speech in particular - one that a lot of us around at the time apparently dismissed as a cartoonish joke without realizing how dangerous it was or why: The "Evil Empire" speech of 1983. After a long and vapidly delusional Culture War screed to an audience of religious conservatives, Reagan says this on a much larger issue:

"...let us be aware that while (the Soviets) preach the supremacy of the State, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable “Screwtape Letters,” wrote: “The greatest evil is not done now…in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is…not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result, but it is conceived and ordered; moved, seconded, carried and minuted in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”

Well, because these “quiet men” do not “raise their voices,” because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because, like other dictators before them, they’re always making “their final territorial demand,” some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simpleminded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.

(...) So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride–the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.

Pared of rhetorical flourishes for his specific audience, every word of that element of the speech is not only true, but profoundly true. He reaches past the present moment and touches a fundamental truth, that people often deceive themselves into false moral equivalencies as an excuse for cowardice and laziness in the face of great struggles. But here's the problem: He was saying all this to rationalize refusing to seriously negotiate nuclear weapons agreements with the Soviet Union.

The shiny wrapping of plain, immutable, and blatantly apparent facts about the evil of a totalitarian government - all the more powerful for being so impolitic - employed as a ruse to hide that he was simply telling Soviet negotiators to fuck off so he could play the Big Man in the following year's election. Large truths used as delivery mechanisms for small, evil men - all the more ironic for his probably totally un-self-aware reference to his own administration in the C.S. Lewis quote.

The interests of the whole world were endangered and brought to a halt for the pettiest of reasons, to serve the self-image of a soulless actor pretending to be an American and a President of the United States - aping the symbols, rhetoric, and appearances he had taught himself to represent those things even while understanding and properly behaving as neither.

It's all the more galling that popular history interprets this speech as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, when in fact it actually hardened its resolve and delayed its collapse for several years, forcing reformers like Mikhail Gorbachev to tread more carefully when they might have been bolder.

Had the same truths been delivered by an honorable agent, as an assertive invitation for change rather than an arrogant menace; had they been stated at the announcement of new diplomatic initiatives rather than as a pompous ideological bloviation; the truth of it might have pierced the Soviet Union and delivered a message of change, rather than piercing the hearts and reason of the American people just to deliver Ronald Reagan's false administration a second term.

That is the lesson of Ronald Reagan: That the truth is a weapon its own enemies can wield, and profound truths are just as potent in the hands of shallow, selfish minds as in the hands of those who cherish them. The only way to defeat a lie is to tell the truth, and the only way to defeat a monster who wields the truth is to tell it better and deeper than them.

That, ironically, is how Communism really began to be defeated: By the Solidarity of Polish workers confronting it with the contradiction that Communism was now the most anti-worker force in the world, and that paradox in itself is what finally undid the ideological passions that had given birth to Communism in the first place. Perhaps there is a lesson for that in how we may finally defeat the monsters of morally bankrupt capitalism in this country.
Posted by True Blue Door | Sun May 3, 2015, 01:28 PM (0 replies)

I hope that Bernie is capable of being shallow.

Whether you like it or not, presidential politics is overwhelmingly determined on image - not substance. We already know Bernie Sanders has substance. What remains to be seen is whether he can translate the substance of his views into a larger, shallower, more broadly-applicable image that convinces people who don't know very much that he is their candidate.

If he is serious, then learning how to be shallow will be the subject of his study for the campaign. If his only intent is to "steer the debate," then he will fail: Hillary Clinton will not learn anything, no matter what. She has proven that too many times over now. She learns nothing. At most he would make her use some unfamiliar vocabulary for a while before reverting to form. So I hope that his candidacy is serious - that he intends to be President of the United States.

If so, he needs to quickly start learning how not to be so genuine. How to instead spread his substance more thinly, into more shallow threads that normal, uninformed people can relate to. That is the reality of politics in this country. If he plays the self-gratifying game of running the campaign he wants rather than the campaign we need, then nothing will happen. He will be just another lightweight in a long list of them.

Bernie, be the candidate we need. Whatever you've been before, whatever you want to be, forget that and be what we need. Don't be another lightweight making symbolic points. Fight so hard and so deeply you sicken yourself. Let people into your campaign whose soulless mercenary hearts make you sick.

This is what it is. Don't be our ennobling loss. Rise to the day. You're all we've got. Don't repeat the stupidities of history, and don't embarrass us by being a new Ralph Nader.

Win. That is all we require of you.
Posted by True Blue Door | Fri May 1, 2015, 03:07 PM (53 replies)
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