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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. He is the author of various books including The Parable of the Tribes: The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.
# 4 Not Our Finest Hour: Why Is Liberal America Falling So Far Short?
We in Liberal America are now embattled. America has been in kindred battles before, and on those occasions to which we look to see our finest American ideals expressed and embodied, great American leaders have shown the way: "See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle." But in this crisis, in this battle, Liberal America is falling far short of our nation's finest ideals. Why is that?
Friday, September 26, 2014(31 comments)
How I See What We're Up Against in our Nation's Time of Brokenness
The first thing is for us in Liberal America to see clearly what it is that we are up against. Then it becomes necessary to find ways to take that understanding and use it to defeat this force -- and part of that is to figure out how to bring our fellow Americans back from that place of darkness and confusion and into a constructive way of using their force in the world.
Thursday, September 25, 2014(4 comments)
# 3.5: This Is What You Should Be Making This Election About, Mr. President
Republican obstructionism has given us the most dysfunctional government maybe ever. The American people are quite dissatisfied with the performance of their government, but they need help understanding where the problem lies. I ask President Obama: Why are you not using this last opportunity to tell the voters what's gone wrong, so they can use their votes to get back a government that does the people's business?
Monday, September 22, 2014
# 3 Calling out the Republicans. Obama Hasn't So We Must.
President Obama should have made it a top priority to help the American people see what the Republican Party has become, so they'd take away that Party's power. Unfortunately, Barack Obama seems ill-equipped by temperament and character to fight that battle. When our leaders fail to do what is urgently needed, we the people must find a way to get it done. That is what this "Press the Battle" series is about. Series: Press the Battle
Thursday, September 18, 2014(3 comments)
Angry White Men on the Right
To be white rather than black, male rather than female, straight rather than gay, meant -- in the old order -- to feel superior to most of the humanity around you. Then liberalism took that good feeling away.
Our Corrupt Supreme Court
With its recent decisions gutting campaign finance regulation, the Roberts Court represents the return of the disgraceful and hypocritical spirit of injustice that gave us the Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Bush v. Gore decisions. It is a "justice" -- the very opposite of justice -- that is merely "the advantage of the stronger."
Thursday, April 10, 2014(3 comments)
A Path to Democratic Victory this Fall
The Democrats should unite to run this year behind a pledge to enact a constitutional amendment that clearly and unambiguously not only overturns these recent decisions but also goes further to establish a system of public financing for all our federal elections.
Thursday, March 13, 2014(37 comments)
Koch Brothers Capitalism
"Koch Brothers Capitalism" is a phrase that by labeling a kind of capitalism, implies that there are other kinds of capitalism. And that means that capitalism doesn't have to take the terribly destructive form people like the Koch Brothers are giving it. The Koch Brothers name quickly conjures up the monstrous nature of what too much of American capitalism has become in our time
Sunday, February 23, 2014(84 comments)
It's a Mistake to Think of our Fellow Americans on the Right as "Stupid" People
What looks like "stupidity" is really something else. Often, it's a constellation of ways of thinking and feeling that's been learned. And it's a program that becomes operative specifically in the realm of politics. It's one of the ways in which the Spirit of Brokenness can such the power out of people in order to magnify its own power.
Thursday, February 6, 2014(13 comments)
Divided We Fall: Stop the Corporate Takeover of Our Democracy
Power is being shifted from the people to the corporate system. These so-called "persons" are so structured that it is inevitable their conduct will be sociopathic. The American people have been divided against each other by the forces they should be united in opposing. "Divided we Fall" must be replaced by "United we Stand."
Strike While the Iron is Hot
The GOP's recent terrible polling numbers show that millions of people are in the process of changing how they see the Republican Party. That picture is in flux, meaning that it is an opportune moment to mold it. After we come to the end of this "iron-heating" crisis, it will be time not to back off, but to continue to strike, exposing the profound defects of the GOP to a public ready to have its new perception solidified.
Saturday, October 12, 2013(16 comments)
The Power of Standing Up to Bullies
Obama these past few weeks, like Lincoln in 1861, has demonstrated that the best way to deal with bullies is to stake out the appropriate, defensible ground, and then stand that ground. The bullies, in their reckless over-reaching, will founder on the rock of your resolve.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Cutting One's Losses Comes Hard
Human psychology works in some other than rational ways. One of them makes it difficult to accept a loss for sure, so people keep trying to escape the loss, even if that makes for a bigger loss in the end. That's part of how to see the situation the Republicans are in, thanks to their own reckless and destructive choices. The problem is compounded by the Republicans' non-acceptance of democracy's "you win some, you lose some"
Thursday, October 10, 2013(1 comments)
Here's How to Keep Defeating These Republicans: Open Letter to Pres. Obama
As the Republicans try to find the least humiliating way to surrender on their blackmail ploys, Mr. President, I hope that you will resist the impulse to revert to Mr. Nice Guy. What America needs for you to do is to press the battle, and use every opportunity that presents itself to show the American people the destructive and dishonest force that the Republican Party has become. The people are ready to see that dark truth.
Fruit of the Same Tree: How to Understand the Tea Party
The Tea Party is not some alien thing grafted onto today's Republican Party. Sure there's a battle going on within that Party. But, more fundamentally, the nihilism and the craziness and the destructiveness that we see going on with the "extremists" within the Party represents a fuller flowering of what the Republican Party establishment sowed and cultivated.
Bad Combination: Abuse of Power over Prisoners and America's Misguided "War on Drugs"
My wife April, with other climate change activists, recently committed an act of civil disobedience that brought her to experience some of the workings of the "system of justice" in Washington, D.C. I focus here on one part of her experience: that being arrested for ANYTHING in D.C. apparently strips an American citizen of the right against unreasonable search: despite no "probable cause," all prisoners must pass a drug test.
Post Trayvon/Zimmerman Trial: Thoughts on Race in America
What is most disturbing in this whole sad affair is the complete lack of empathy, by many on the right, for the feelings that these Trayvon/Zimmerman events understandably brings up for black Americans. These events are a recapitulation of generations of traumatic history, from the era of slavery to the era of Jim Crow. How can people NOT understand, and feel compassion for, how this would feel? Do unto others...
The Spirit that Drove Us to Civil War Is Back
In our times, a destructive force has emerged in the American political system. This force --- or spirit -- should be understood as the re-emergence onto center stage of what drove the United States to polarize, break apart, and fight a bloody Civil War a century and a half ago. This destructive force is damaging our nation now just as it did then. Series: The Spirit that Drove Us to Civil War is Back
Caring About What? Manifest Insincerity of the GOP on Abortion
Some of the same Republicans who make a big issue of protecting the "unborn" have made it pretty clear this past week, by their indifference to the plight of already-born children, that their reason for pressing the issue of abortion must not be about any real concern about protecting "innocent life." I'm talking about their drive to gut the food stamp program that helps keep millions of children from going hungryl.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013(4 comments)
A Strategy for Progressives in Very Red Districts
There are a lot of congressional Districts in the country that are virtually unwinnable for Democrats. Paradoxically, the very difficulty of winning these seats presents Democrats with an important opportunity. Democrats in those districts may not be able to win that battle, but they can help win the war. Here's how.
Which Would Be Better? Getting These Judges Confirmed or Getting the Filibuster Rules Reformed?
It would be good to get some good judges onto the bench of the D.C. District Court of Appeals. But it would also be good to change the rules regarding the filibuster so that they cannot so readily be abused, the way the Republicans have been doing in so unprecedented a fashion. Which ever would be better, it is at least encouraging that the Democrats are fighting back and should gain ground in one way or another.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
National Review Pitch Points to America's Political Pathology
The National Review sent out a pitch to its potential right-wing base, declaring: ""RESIST! He may have won the election. But he hasn't won the fight." That pitch shows us why the American political system is broken, and what true conservative patriots should be doing to restore our ability as a nation to meet our challenges.
Are the Liberal Leanings of Gov't Bureaucrats an Explanation of the IRS Scandal?
David Weigel, conservative-leaning columnist on Slate.com, thinks the answer is yes. I say: Maybe, or maybe not. The ethic of fairness may be dead on the right, but it is alive in liberal circles, even to the point of going to excess in a bogus kind of even-handedness in an America where the pathologies are far from symmetrical.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013(11 comments)
Benghazi Talk: Call It Out for What It Is
The Republicans are about one thing: getting more power for themselves, regardless of how much that pursuit degrades the country. Two items in the news of yesterday reminded me of the need for us to keep this consistent pattern in mind, and to respond to it appropriately-- i.e. like we're in a battle in which the stakes are as high as they can be.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013(6 comments)
Do We Give Too Much Attention to Terrorist Attacks?
We may be sending a dangerous message to those who'd love to make as big a splash as those two young Chechen immigrants: if if you want to completely capture the attention of the world's leading nation for days on end, just come and blow up a few of us.
Sunday, April 21, 2013(4 comments)
Koch Brothers' Bid for Tribune Newspapers Should Be Blocked
Consider the damage done to America by Rupert Murdoch's propaganda empire. Consider the damage done to America by the Koch brothers' funding of reverse-Robin-Hood policies and climate-change-denial. This nation cannot afford to have the reservoir of our public understanding poisoned still further by the likes of these men. People should mobilize to block this acquisition of historically important newspapers.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
The Parable of the Tribes--Step Three: Selection for the Ways of Power
This third step reveals the social evolutionary force that's warped the development of civilization. From the breakout from any order, represented by the breakthrough to civilization, came the inevitability of a struggle for power. Out of that struggle for power, combined with open-ended possibilities for cultural innovation, came a selective process that mandated that humankind live in societies dominated by the ways of power
Saturday, April 13, 2013(16 comments)
President Obama, Please Stop the "Both Sides" Nonsense
The President keeps depicting our toxic politics with a phony even-handedness that is contrary to the truth and counter-productive. It seems to be part of the wimpiness besetting today's liberalism --a refusal to stand and fight-- that's contributed to the rise in our times of a political force more destructive and more dishonest than anything that's ever made it to center stage of American politics before. Cut it out!
Sunday, April 7, 2013(4 comments)
If These Are the Early Stages
I turn from consideration of my own aging, in its early stages, for comfort in the idea that we are part of something bigger than ourselves that carries forward the stream of life. But then, that larger view has also become disturbing, in the light of these early stages of climate change that are increasingly visible and palpable in the world right around me.
The Parable of the Tribes--Step One A Breakthrough Unprecedented in the History of Life
One of the strongest "magnets" that pull civilized societies off the path that people would choose is a force that arose with a major breakthrough roughly 10,000 years ago: the emergence, for the first time in the history of life on earth, of a living system not governed by the biologically evolved order. This is the first of three entries showing how humans' apparent freedom created a new and harsh necessity.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013(26 comments)
Capitalism's Proper Role
Capitalism as a political force in America seems to have abandoned what sense of "citizenship" it had in the decades right after World War II. It no longer accepts that it is one major player among several others that represent other legitimate values besides corporate profit. America needs for these persons to have more of that "republican virtue" our founders thought essential for a democracy to be healthy
Sunday, March 17, 2013(2 comments)
How Christian are the Republicans? A Sunday Sermon on Community According to Jesus
When he says, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone," Jesus gives clear indication that the punitive righteousness that pervades today's Republican Party is NOT the spirit that should animate the human community. It is that punitive spirit in the crowd, not how the adulteress they want to stone to death, that he chooses to address.
Thursday, March 14, 2013(4 comments)
Swinging for the Fences: Hunting for Very Big Game
Some of the most important dimensions of the human world cannot be seen clearly up close, but must be seen from a level of elevation above the day-to-day that allows the giant footprints of things like "spirit" and "good and evil" to be seen.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013(8 comments)
Scalia is a Fraud, Undeserving of Moral Respect
The recent hearings on the Voting Rights Act provide but the most recent illustration of why this Justice is a fraud. Perhaps we cannot get him off the bench, but by showing what a disgrace he is perhaps we can knock this hypocrite off his high horse.
Friday, March 8, 2013(2 comments)
Swinging for the Fences: The Transmission of Culture Through Time
This is the fourth of the forces that operate in civilized societies like ours that I am introducing on my way to explaining 1) what has happened in America in our times, with the rise of an extraordinarily destructive force on the American right, and 20 more generally how "the battle between good and evil" is a valid concept for understanding the human drama.
Why the Republican Party Demonized President Obama
The Republicans had to demonize President Obama because of a combination of three things: 1) Theirs is a hierarchical society: 2)in such a society, those below are trained to credit, not question, those above them: and 3) Their politics of total war, not compromise, could not work if the president had any standing with the Republicans' base.
Monday, February 25, 2013(12 comments)
Swinging for the Fences: How the Market Economy Shapes Our Destiny
The market economy, when it is truly competitive, is a great mechanism for processing certain kinds of information and producing results that are beneficial within the range of the values that it registers. But it has its blind spots. And a society that utilizes that economic system, and fails to correct those blind spot, will create future chosen by the system and not by the people, and sub-optimal for meeting human needs.
Friday, February 22, 2013(47 comments)
Thinking About George W. Bush, Who So Darkened a Terrible Eight Year Period in American History
In W, we can see how personal brokenness got transmitted into breaking so much else in our world. But this destructive force is much bigger than Bush. He was its instrument. The same destructive spirit that worked through his presidency continued its work after Bush's gang left town, in this equally ugly Republican opposition. In this shift from one vehicle to another, we can see an "It." That It is important for us to see.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013(1 comments)
An Unwelcome Driver of Social Evolution: The Parable of the Tribes
Continuing my series here to provide an integrative vision that can help us --in America and in civilization generally-- to achieve a desirable future, I begin here a delineation of some of the main forces that must be controlled or overcome for us to have greater control over our destiny.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Swinging for the Fences: The Fable of the Magnet
To understand how the human world works, and in particular what leads civilized societies to go in directions that fail to meet human needs, it's important to understand what I'm calling "magnets": forces that are not visible, but that shape human action and the evolution of civilized societies.