Prose and Thorn

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Perry Goodfriend

Perry Goodfriend
August 29
Turn off the TV and turn on the activism. Follow Prose and Thorn, the prick that makes you think. Perry B Goodfriend is a published writer and journalist in Atlanta, Georgia. He also produces political and corporate videos. He even occasionally makes money at it. Follow PnT: @proseandthorn Most posts originate on

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JANUARY 31, 2013 7:33PM

History, truth and the insane belief in mainstream politics

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"'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.
"'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'
"'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.'"
- from "1984,"
by George Orwell (Part 3, Chapter 2)

If you have paid any attention to the Chuck Hagel, SecDef nomination hype, you probably heard the former Republican Senator's detractors calling him "out of the mainstream," when it comes to Israel, Iran, and involving the US in talks with terrorist organizations.

Witness Thursday morning's exchange between Hagel and Sen. John McCain, during the former's confirmation hearing. Hagel, as a Senator, made statements against Bush's 2007 troop surge in Iraq, equating it to a potential quagmire, a word used often to describe the war in Vietnam, where Hagel served and was wounded.

McCain, himself a prisoner of the Vietcong during that conflict, insisted that the surge was a success and wanted his former colleague to take it back, to admit his previous position was a mistake.

“I’m not going to give you a yes or no,” Hagel told McCain. “I’ll defer that judgement to history."

"History has already made a judgement on the surge," McCain insisted, "and you’re on the wrong side of it."

This insistence on defining history as mainstream truth is a revisionism worthy of Orwell. Honest and frank answers are eschewed for blind allegiance and party fidelity. Engaging in "You're either with us or against us" tactics, especially when it comes to what's true or not, endangers our republic, because it attempts to supplant evidence with conviction.

You can't just make something up, that some people believe is true, and call it mainstream. Whose mainstream? How is that defined in Washington? The mainstream of the respective parties? The nation's mainstream? Or is it just the mainstream as defined by the deepest pockets and the shrillest voices?

Even the loud and wealthy National Rifle Association, with its indisputable hold on legislators of both parties, at every level of government, is out of the mainstream when it comes to the White House proposals for universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, and banning high capacity ammunition magazines. A survey by Public Policy Polling, released in early January, found that most American gun owners think the NRA's idea to post armed guards in schools is a terrible idea, by 15 points, although most Republicans agree with the gun industry lobbyist.

Wednesday's contentious exchange between the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin showed the gun group's willingness to go counter to the mainstream, by creating its own narrative that it wants members of Congress to get behind. LaPierre claimed that background checks will keep honest people from getting guns, but not criminals because they won't go through the process. He was saying, essentially, "How can we get more guns into people's hands, so they can protect themselves, if we have universal background checks?"

"That's the point," Durbin replied. "You're missing that point, completely [that we want fewer guns out there]. We are awash in guns."

Deep pocket influencers, like LaPierre's NRA, are leading their staunch supporters in Washington, DC, away from true mainstream American thinking by their wallets, where they willingly go, finding a place where the flowing water of opinion won't fight them too much. There, two plus two can equal five, or three, or four, or "all of them together," and it's okay, because they are floating in a happy eddy of politically safe, partisan denial, and believe they are sane. And we keep voting for them, so what does that make us?


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Excellent work. You said...

"You can't just make something up, that some people believe is true, and call it mainstream. Whose mainstream? How is that defined in Washington? The mainstream of the respective parties? The nation's mainstream? Or is it just the mainstream as defined by the deepest pockets and the shrillest voices?"

We, the people, are the Mainstream; not the media; not the Corporations; not the 1%.

As long as we press on and keep demanding common sense for the common good, and hold politicians accountable, here and at the polling booths, and stand alongside other pockets of protestors, we, the people, will be heard.

Organize. Talk to each other. Communicate.
Thanks, Steve. Clearly, you get it. The Republicans have been engaging in this kind of dime store "Say it long and loud and often enough until people believe it" propaganda since Reagan. Even earlier, actually.
Good post. Sadly, the republicans these days seem fairly immune to the any kind of reasoning. It's pretty much just naked power plays. I never thought I'd say it, but I miss the statesmen like demeaner of George H. Bush.
perhaps someday the concept of handing your power of citizenship over to a politician will come to be seen as insanity.
For a very important clear analysis of why and how Obama is destroying the democracy of the USA and the long history of its occurrence see
Well said. We, THE SHEEPLE, get what we deserve. R.
I would trust the politicians we now have working, including some of the shadier ones, to run this country a hell of a lot more than I would the armchair quarterbacks constantly deriding them here in OS.

Those politicians seem a hell of a lot more stable, honest, and sane than the people here regularly charging them with being unstable, dishonest, and insane.

You may disagree; it is a free country and we all can speak our mind as openly as we choose…despite the laughable assertions that we are becoming, or have become, a banana dictatorship.
Jan - Read through your link, and found it interesting. I think your own rhetoric is off the mark, however, of Dr. Nasser's essay.

To my mind, the article makes the point that the 1% bought the government a long time ago, and decided they were losing ground, so they used their influence to "guide" politicians away from the redistribution that they found threatening. Thus was born a political philosophy that seemed to give priority to the needs of the wealthy over the needs of the rest of us. The differences, Dr. Nasser implies, between the iconic neo-con Reagan and allegedly progressive Obama is negligible, because they were/are beholden to the same interests.

To lay all this at the feet of Obama, then, in my opinion, is unfair, and to cede that the banks have all the power is to ignore the power the people have to affect change. I still believe we can change things, through petition, grievance and civil action, and I know I don't stand alone.
for over a decade now.
Very interesting.........



Well said. Our willingness to tolerate the intolerable - and the mainstream media's unwillingness or inability to recognize that which is intolerable, insane or patently absurd ought to be challenged - keeps us as prisoners locked within the antiquated 18th century worldview of the Founding Fathers, unable to comprehend - let alone imagine - alternatives to what passes for politics in our culture. We are little better that Pavlov's dogs or B.F. Skinner's pigeons.
What matters , in the McCain-Hagel exchange was the evidence for likely success before the surge, not in hindsight.

Not sure if LaPierre doesn't think before speaking or simply can't think. If background checks won't work, because criminals would ignore them, then why bother with any laws at all?
My sister and her hubby proved that 1+1=4.
Good point on the surge, Spence. We can only expect our reps to vote for what they think is going to happen. McCain, who believes that once an American dies in a war, you go all in, never entertained the surge wouldn't work. For him, it was all in the pursuit of victory. He was an officer in Vietnam, and will never admit he was wrong.
Hagel, who was an enlisted man, knew that when you send more people into an out of control situation, more people die. That's a good enough reason to vote no. And, of course, McCain is wrong here. History has not been written, yet. He'd just needs to believe that so he can feel validated.
Right on.

It's another example of the extreme politicization that has polls hunting for clips on the so-call news channels. Now that Fox is the most watched, it's played to the most.

Hagel voted for all the defense bills he was supposed to when he was in office. Being against the surge was his greatest "fault", and that is what makes the headlines, along with his innocuous comments about Israel. So he becomes McCain's whipping boy. Pathetic.

He still may be as good as can be expected, since at least he has shown a little "maverick" streak by comments about Viet Nam and meaningless death on the battlefield. There is little Obama can do since the fillibuster rules weren't changed, and we won't see them changed as long of the districting rules are such that the GOP controls the house.

The thing that's clear about the NRA is that they've had so much power for so long their own arrogance may be the only thing that brings them down. The opportunity is for LaPierre to crack before it's all over and start making commie, Nazi, or racial slurs. Obama was elected by a solid majority, and one wonders when that is somehow going to come into play.

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