The Issues Now Reaching for Your Underwear

Usually it’s gay marriage. But that’s been so done. The full glory of wedge issue manipulation is upon us, but it’s going in a slightly new direction. Sure, many are wise to this trickery, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still work. The usual is to draw out a large contingent of right wing voters by bringing up some egregious issue that you can find a biblical quote to reference. Sure, biblical quotes should be included in the lies, damn lies, and statistics bit. Really, you can find a lot of whatever you want in there. And it doesn’t even start well or in a consistent manner from the first pages. It was hilariously pointed out once that the snake in the Garden of Eden caused all snakes to be cursed to slither due to his bad behavior and all. Which begs the question — how was he getting around before that curse? I’m kinda glad this happened because I want nothing to do with a world of snakes with limbs, just walking around knocking on your door, tricking you with candy-grams. But if this is where you want to get your rules for living, and figure out if people who love each other should get married if they want, I probably can’t convince you otherwise. Knock yourself out, find a quote or passage or stanza, whatever the hell you call them. It’s as relevant to me as arguing Klingon grammar.

But now it looks like the wedge issue play is working its magic on the “left”. Abortion has always been a topic that seems to spur rabid responses. Only that evidently isn’t enough to satisfactorily divide the nation at this point. Now we’ve got creepy men (that you just know enjoy something beyond nasty, probably worse than our imaginations could conjure) and who are against contraception — oh yeah, and they are running for office.

I thought that this issue was largely settled in the non-pantaloon and gingham wearing crowd, but it’s actually being floated for larger public consumption this election cycle. It seems to be the only kind of discussion that can effectively draw out the left to reliably vote for another Obama term. The old “at least he’s not crazy”™ voter enhancement program.

I’m not saying that guys like Santorum aren’t true believers. But they are useful tools as well. Who in their right mind would advance candidates with such fatal flaws? I imagine the deep pockets do well advancing anything that promotes division among the masses. Colonialism 101. And make no mistake, the wealthy view this land as their plantation.

They were certainly able to attain some traction with the general public in regard to the abortion issue, but many of us suspected all along that it never was just about a true concern for “life”. That’s a hard sell when these views so often are paired with an incredible lack of empathy (remember the cheers for the dying guy without insurance at that Repub debate?). Warmongering being another incongruous trait for those so deeply concerned about that….beauty of life. Just not your life, right? The extension of this division to that of contraception just indicates more completely that this isn’t about a fertilized egg, but about societal control and uterus psycho-stewardship. Something that sadly will always appeal to some segments of the populace.

Bringing these topics to the fore forces our concerns down the hierarchy of needs. You aren’t going to be protesting fracking or NDAA provisions if somebody is in your pants. And if the corporate facilitator gets another term, so much the better. Those in power lose little with these machinations.

So what do we do in regard to this mayhem and manipulation? I’m not saying that crazy individuals aren’t out there lurking, wanting to get in office…..but to veer towards support of an individual simply because he can appear sane (sure, the innocents bombed by drones might disagree) — well, that seems to be a tragic fall from decency and reasonable expectations.

Of course, this is an issue of huge personal significance, drawing down half the population into the old biology is destiny would be a horrendous move. But know this…. They are aware that this is an excellent manner to distract you from the economic meltdown. Get poor enough and you won’t be able to access birth control from a purely fiscal standpoint. All the control and orthodoxy flourish under a stratified society. The well-to-do get what they want because the rules and social morays won’t apply to them in this version of the American nightmare. Why not let the little people argue about such things?

With spring coming and the likely resurgence of protests, it will be necessary to not be drawn into the idiocy. The very underpinnings of wealth disparity that the Occupy movement started bringing to light is what still matters. They would love to channel all the righteous anger towards an idiot like Santorum and his medieval arguments. I say we rise above it. Treat the bearers of these messages like the witch burning shitheads that they are. And move past all that to the standard issues that Occupy owns. That’s what they want to be forgotten in this pivotal year. Let’s not allow it.

Oh, and a quick unrelated to the above aside:

I wrote a bit a few weeks ago about The Justice Party and their candidate for presidency, Rocky Anderson. I later discussed being a bit ashamed at being a knee-jerk-jerk for writing them off due to issues with organizational competency rather than message. Anyway, one of my issues was the use of a Freidman quote in a fund raising email. I couldn’t reconcile quoting that man with the message of that party.

But anyway….

Sometimes I look at my spam folder for free comedy. There are often bizarre pleas for assistance in removing large amounts of gold found by soldiers in distant lands (they just need stateside help, and perhaps a bit of money to assist in mailing the gold — it’s heavy, you know — you get reimbursement later). There’s also requests for honest folks to help philanthropists find worthy causes, of course, a well paid position after you help them with a bit of funding to access accounts that require an American citizen……It’s all on the up and up! You should check out these schemes, if not for the command of the English language, then for the sheer audacity involved. I’ll admit to having a weird sense of humor and also being cheap. This free comedy satisfies both.

Anyhow, several days after writing about the Justice Party and the Friedman quote, I found an email that didn’t fit with the others in the land of spam. Well, I should say it didn’t fit perfectly. It said it was from one tlfriedman. I figured it was a joke, especially since it came from an aol address. I truly wasn’t aware that one could access aol any longer without the use of a Commodore, Olivia Newton John record or maybe a Simon game. But after a check, it looked to be legitimate. I couldn’t contain my mirth. It landed in my spam folder! How did the spam know to put it there? How freaking sentient is the spam?

My mirth dwindled when I read the message. Evidently the author did not like my use of this bit as an overview of the book when I complained about the source of that quote in The Justice Party mailer.

“China’s educational successes, industrial might, and technological prowess remind us of the ways in which ‘that used to be us.’”

Obviously I thought this was toxic talk and complained accordingly. I don’t want us to be like China!

But he said that he didn’t recognize the quote and it didn’t reflect the book at all in his opinion. The quote (google it if you want) is to be found everywhere that the book is for sale. The book being That Used to Be Us. Weird. I’ll admit that I thought it was from Freidman/Mandelbaum, but it looks now to simply be more of the marketing overview from the publisher. It’s kind of murky and I’m sorry if I made a rookie error. Also sorry that he must be at odds with the publisher — how awkward.

But back to my more pressing issue. How did spam know? Looking back at the email, the author made some words a small font and others large, evidently to signify irritation and emphasis. That’s all I can think of why it would land in spam — the odd appearance of the thing. Or the spam thing really is becoming self-aware on the cusp of human-like thought. Terrifying and amazing, yes? The world isn’t flat when you use differing sizes of font. And you end up in spam. That or some guy in IT in a third world country has embedded some script that places all friedman emails in spam. That would truly be a hoot.

But my issue is the creepiness of it. It made me think of that 80s movie “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” –you know, when the main character is asked if she masturbates and she responds that she doesn’t because her dead grandpa or grandma (I can’t remember which) might see her. Hey, that’s not very nice that you just considered my writing to be masturbating. Rude!  I’m referring to my dead grandmother reminding me of Thomas Friedman. The mustache she had in the 70s was exactly like his. Anyway, you just never know who is watching. That is my point.

But sorry for using the quote and not being clear where it came from — that’s hopefully more clear now. As I said, google the quote, see what you think, dear reader. I still say perhaps it’s not the best thing to say everywhere the book is for sale if it doesn’t reflect the contents. Now I gotta go wire some money to that guy with the gold, and then do some writing (if my darn dead grandma would just let me be).

Kathleen Wallace Peine welcomes reader response. She can be reached at: Read other articles by Kathleen.