Thursday, November 30, 2017

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

As time goes on real life, and sports, become more and more important than this little blog in the hinterlands of the Houston blogosphere.  After years of doggedly banging away it's become pretty clear that there's little of interest in what I have to say.

Which is OK, I've always stated that I would continue to hammer away at this thing as long as it interested me.  Which it just really doesn't any more.  I'm having more fun writing sports posts and making bad sports picks than I am watching the city of Houston, the State of Texas and the United States of America slowly flush themselves down the political toilet.  I'll still follow along, but not in long form.

Should you be so inclined, you can keep up with my political thoughts on my Pinboard Feed and on Twitter. That's where I'll continue to offer up bad political takes and my odd-ball way of looking at things.

What this leaves me with is how to say goodbye.  What am I going to leave up here as a final farewell to over 10 years of truly awful political blogging.

In can think of nothing better than a listicle.  Because listicles suck.

With that in mind, here are the top things that I hope you keep in mind.

1. State's don't have "rights" they have "powers".

This is so important to remember because many a bad politician, and bureaucrat, will drone on and on about State's rights and other nonsense which is really nothing other than demagoguery in fancy dress.  Rights are exclusive to the citizenry.  And protecting those rights are our purview as well.  Anytime you hear a politicians say that the government has to 'protect the citizens rights' run and vote the other way. Or, if you're of a more reasonable disposition, don't vote.  Voting is the lowest level of participation that you can have in any society. Voting tells the politicians that you believe they, and they alone, hold the solutions.

Because it's not the job of the State to protect, or grant, your rights. It's yours. And any State powerful enough to determine your rights is also powerful enough to remove them.  The political arc of America has been one of winning hard-fought rights from a monarchy, and then slowly, inexorably, over a period of almost 300 years giving them back to a new kind of tyranny.  Every time we allow the government to grant us a new 'right' (healthcare, privacy, equality, etc) we bind ourselves more deeply in servitude with them.  America needs a good, old-fashioned Bill of Rights house-cleaning, but I don't think either the political will, self reliance or intelligence exists to conduct it any more.

2. All politicians are horrid people, even those you voted for.

Politics is about money and power.  Even those who start off with good intentions eventually become enthralled.  Today's partisan system only perpetuates that, it just changes who are the winners and who are the losers.  When a Democrat says they want "money out of politics" they really mean they want Republican money out of politics while they keep theirs. When Republicans warn about "Evil George Soros" and others they want to keep their political patrons while harming the Democrats. And that's the thing about sacred oxen. It's only an issue when yours gets gored.

The issue of campaign finance reform is the biggest political lie fostered on the American people in a decade. The idea that any politician would give up their fundraising advantage is ludicrous.  At heart, campaign finance reform is an incumbent protection program in the same vein as gerrymandering. There is no honorable stance on campaign finance regardless of what the politicians and media want you to believe. It is ALL about incumbent protection. The status quo of push-pull between the two parties works well for, the members of the two parties.  Division is tool, a feature of our current tribal system not a bug.  They are allowed to get away with this because the American citizen is complicit.  This is not conspiracy theory stuff, it's true and right out in the open.

3. The media has fallen, with few exceptions.

One side will rant about the "corporate media" while the other side wails about "liberal bias". The fact is the news has one bias and one bias only: Protecting their political patrons and sources which brings about money.  Media is a for-profit business now in most cases.  And in cases where it's not (such as John Thornton's vanity project the Texas Tribune) it is funded by ideological think-tanks and companies that pay large sums for minimal disclosure and "paid" ads.

The days of Deep Throat are far behind us. There is little interest in the modern day media in bringing the government down, in advocating for the taxpayer or ensuring that corruption is cleansed with the light of the sun. The media today wants to ensure access, as such they excel more in the glowing puff-piece than they do in outing government corruption. Sure, they can still give you a good rehashing of a corporate corruption piece after the fact, but they're not going to be the ones actually breaking the story.  In short, the media are spin-doctors for those in power. The PR reps of the courtier class.  This is too bad because there are still a few talented reporters who might be able to do good work given the chance. The rest are young ideologues and dreamers who strive not to report and uncover the news, but to enact social change.  That's a problem.

4. There are systemic problems, taxing people until their eyes bleed is not going to help.

Colin Kaepernick was right when he took a knee during the National Anthem. There IS such a thing as institutional racism in the US. Driving while black is a thing, especially in wealthy, primarily Caucasian neighborhoods. In short, the system is designed to create winners and losers. But there are deeper issues that keep the minority citizen down as well. There are politicians who act as de-facto bosses over neighborhoods whose real goal is to keep the populace poor, uneducated and (most importantly) voting for them, it's happening in the city in which you live, probably by people who you voted for. Politicians that you consider to be on the "right side" of various issues. Don't give your support, or you votes (if you vote) to one side or the other exclusively.

Again, we're given a bogeyman on which to project our hate, being promised that only by taxing "them" more can we solve the issue. Throwing money at the problem is never the answer, only in politics.  The problem with this is that the politicians know that the money they are hoping to raise is not going to go to fix the issue, it's going to be distributed among their political patrons as a thank you for getting, and keeping, them elected. After all, if the problems go away, so does the need for the politicians to solve them.

I realize that this seems like a lot of doom and gloom, and for that I'm sorry, but after over a decade of blogging politics, following issues and meeting a variety of politicians I can now safely say that I've lost any and all hope for the future of American politics should the status quo hold.  This is why I've stopped voting, stopped attending rallies and have almost totally depoliticized my social media feeds.

And it's why I'm stepping away from the keyboard.  After a decade of futile keyboard pounding it's only gotten worse, and it will keep worsening until the American people rise up and say 'Enough!'  Sadly, I think what we're going to demand is more of the same government that got us into this mess in the first place. It seems that more government is the de facto answer to everything these days, even from so-called "conservatives".

Democracy has a half-life.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Adios, it's been a lot of fun this last decade writing about Houston City, Texas State and National politics on this blog for my handful of regular readers. I wish you well and I'll see you over on The Public Money for general sports talk and some really bad betting advice.