Category: Politics


The events of this past weekend were horrific, but they have brought us as a nation to a tipping point and simply put I don’t think our President is responding appropriately.

Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups are hateful and despicable, and there is no reason the President should have waited for 48+ hours to say that. Even if he was waiting for facts about the weekend as he claimed, you don’t need facts to specifically call out and label a Nazi or White Nationalist deplorable. There is no way to paint the rhetoric of these groups as anything other than hateful, and he could have said that clearly while reserving his right to defend their first amendment rights. He chose not to.

The timeline of Mr. Trump’s responses and the reaction he got from the media, public and alt-right respectively is really concerning. (Check out David Duke’s, a past KKK leader, twitter if you don’t believe my characterizations of the alt-right/White Nationalist response)
1) Mr. Trump initially blames “many sides”: media and general public outraged while alt-right praise him
2) Mr. Trump finally condemns Neo-Nazi and White Nationalist groups by name: media and general public still think it’s too little too late while alt-right get super angry and upset, claimed he was only pandering not really meaning his remarks
3) Mr. Trump tweets that he can’t do anything to make media happy even after condemning specific groups -alt right claim this is proof Trump was only following orders/advice from aides and never meant his condemnation to begin with.
4) Mr. Trump goes back to “many sides” line among other troubling and off the cuff remarks – alt-right groups again embrace and praise him, mainstream media widely criticism him.

Looking at these statements and the responses he was getting from the public/media vs the alt-right and whose opinion does it look like he values more?

Now lets look at his most recent statements from the press conference a bit deeper because there are two points I feel the need to discuss.

First at one point he used the term “us” and had to correct himself when referring to the alt-right. Yes he corrected himself, but he continued to use language indicating that the counter-protests were the “other side” throughout. How exactly am I supposed to believe that he doesn’t have a sympathy for the alt-right white nationalists?

Second, he vehemently indicated that there were “very fine” people on both sides. There are no “very fine” people who are willing to march under (or even in close proximity to) a Nazi flag. “Very fine” people don’t proclaim they are superior because they possess pale skin. No “very fine” person calls for the extermination or oppression of a group of people due to skin color or religious creed. A “very fine” person would have seen the march the evening before where people carried lit torches and chanted for the elimination of POC and Jews and would have decided to take action and leave if they didn’t want to be associated with that crowd’s philosophies.

Simply put Mr. Trumps remarks are not enough and even giving him the benefit of the doubt as to his intentions veer dangerously close into condoning the actions and philosophies of these extremist groups.

Many of these groups are fighting under Mr. Trump’s name, and if Mr. Trump DOESN’T want to be held responsible for them he needs to do more to publicly condemn them and publicly address and correct their “misconceptions” of his words. If these crazies really are misinterpreting him he has nothing to lose from setting the record straight and everything to gain in legitimacy as a leader.

He needs to recognize and take steps to correct the way his words are fueling rather than diffusing these groups. If he wants me to believe he doesn’t value the alt-right/Neo-Nazi opinion and vote he needs to take concrete action to disassociate himself. Not once has he publicly asked these groups to stop using his name, likeness and/or slogan to further their cause. Until he actually does that I’m going to call a spade a spade and assume he’s not only ok with them chanting his slogan, carrying his signs and praising his actions but that he wants them to do it.

Advertisements

I spent the better part of this past decade living within an hour of Charlottesville, Virginia; it’s a beautiful town that is home to many of my close friends and that holds many fond memories. To hear the name of this town become synonymous with hatred and violence is a startling and distressing turn of events.

I’ve never been blind to the racial issues boiling under the surface of daily life in Virginia, its impossible to miss. Virginia certainly has a long way to go to address the deeply rooted racial injustices of its past. Still I never thought there would come a day that a group of people would openly march under Nazi flags in that small college town.

As people are discussing the events of the past weekend I keep hearing from conservative pundits and alt-right sympathizers that it was just a demonstration against removing a confederate statue. Now to be completely fair I can actually make an argument for the preservation of Confederate monuments, and I do believe that it is within the rights of US citizens to peacefully assemble and protest. However these weren’t just a bunch of historians protecting our heritage. Specific hate groups started sponsoring and promoting the event and rapidly took over its purpose.

They even named it “Unite the Right” and the purpose as listed on the alt-right websites I visited listed nothing about the statue and everything about standing up against POC, Jews (referred to in derogatory names) and to promote white supremacy.

So protester who is claiming you were there about the statue answer these questions please:

If you want to claim that you weren’t aware of your protest being over taken by white supremacists, how do your actions show that you didn’t approve of them being there? If you were really there about ONLY the statue why didn’t YOU stand up and ask the Nazis to leave? Why didn’t YOU make it clear they weren’t welcome? If they refused to leave or didn’t want to confront them why didn’t you leave to avoid being associated with them?

Anyone who stayed at that protest after the tiki torch march the night before where idiots chanted racist and antisemitic hate speech knew full well who was marching with them on Saturday and chose to be complicit in their hate.

We are guaranteed the right to hold whatever opinions we want in this country. Even if I think your opinion is morally repugnant and evil, the government has no right to stop you from expressing those beliefs. You are allowed to be a hateful bastard in this country without fear of legal action from the government. That said your friends, community, employer ect. very well may have other consequences for you and your free speech doesn’t protect you from them.

Also the moment you stop following police direction and start using violence against others it has stopped being a legal protest. These groups refused to follow police orders as early as Saturday night, and continued into the morning. Long before there was a car into a crowd, there was violence from the alt-right toward the counter-protest.

While the initial and indeed the VAST majority of the blame for the chaos and violence on Saturday rest squarely on the shoulders of the white supremacist protesters that doesn’t mean that all of the counter protesters are completely blameless either.

While the initial and most deadly violence was caused by the Neo-Nazi side, “antifa” also used violence. If we are going to condemn the violence on one side we also must condemn the violence on the other. Even a few people using violence from allows the “many sides” comment to be made and gives people like the President room to legitimize the resistance. (more on that and the President’s response in a separate post)

This is where the let’s go “punch a Nazi” memes have angered me. While I understand the impulse to WANT to punch racist ass holes, that isn’t how our society was built. No matter how repugnant they have a right to SAY hateful things, and the government has to let them. It’s the government’s responsibility through law enforcement to keep that speech from becoming action. When we step up and try to take vigilante justice not only are we sinking to their level but we could possibly be putting law enforcement into a position where they have to defend these racist jerks because we’re the ones breaking the law.

It’s our job to use our own rights to peacefully and legally combat these idiots with our own rights of free speech. There are peaceful ways to disrupt racist rallies, and we HAVE to focus on that. As difficult and arguably unfair as it may be we have to be beyond reproach as we combat intolerance. It’s a hard road but going backwards into hate isn’t an option I’m willing to let happen.

Healthcare and Religion

I have many friends on both sides of the political spectrum who are currently blowing up my news feed about the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday. I’ll start by saying I have not had the time to read either the majority or the decent in it’s entirety so I have no intention of debating the legal ramifications of the ruling, because while I do see some worrisome precedent being set I’m not prepared to dig into it yet. This post rather is going to be a few thoughts that I’ve had in response to the reactions I’ve seen in the mainstream and social media.

 

Perhaps it is because I am an increasingly cranky Libertarian but I honestly think both sides are missing the point here. If you want your boss and the government to stay out of your healthcare decisions then we shouldn’t encourage either party in any way to be involved. I do believe that your health is a private matter between your physicians and your family and where applicable God. That said if you expect your boss/company to pay for your healthcare in a subsidized fashion (anything other than a normal wage), you are bringing them into the mix.  If you want the government to provide money for healthcare it is also going to come with regulations and laws as they can not give money without doing so.

 

Adding those extra parties of government and employer into the system of healthcare to allow it to function at an affordable cost erases the possibility of true freedom. It’s the recurring catch 22 of the ever present freedom vs security paradox, in this case the security of having reliable, regulated and affordable healthcare versus your freedom to do whatever you want to do with your own body. It’s a horribly flawed system we have in the US because of that paradox and attempts to fix it are likely going to make it even more messy.

 

Unless we are willing to find a way to make healthcare a completely private industry again, there will be continuing infringements upon our personal liberty in this area.

 

Thoughts on Syria

Fair warning: this post will be disjointed and unorganized, but honestly that’s where my thoughts are on this issue at the moment and I just need to get them out there (and hey that’s the whole point of this blog). I do hope to get back to semi regular posting once the dust settles from my move, job change and wedding.

 

 

My thoughts on Syria:

Sadly the Oatmeal has some of the most honest commentary of this whole thing

-There are no easy answers or good choices as to who should be in power. People on both sides could be seen as potential threats to our national security.

-Our President did have the right to do something without Congress’ approval, and by placing that restriction on himself he may be significantly changing Presidential war powers for the first time since the War Powers Resolution and the ramifications of that scare me. Politically speaking he was stuck between a rock and a hard place; either seem like he was taking too much power (like Bush) or like he is now be seen as weak.

-I believe wholeheartedly that something has to be done about the use of chemical weapons, however the implications of taking action without global support terrify me.

-Something has to be done to uphold US credibility after the “red line” was crossed, however I don’t know what that action should be.

-At this point we are facing serious retaliation no matter what we do.

Thoughts on the Rulings

I’ve spent most of my free time today reading the court opinions on DOMA and Prop 8, and since I think my last post here was about my thoughts during the hearings, here are some thoughts from the rulings.

First on DOMA, I think it is a ruling I expected and I am happy to have the end outcome be to give power back to the states.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered”

I do want to point out however that a part of my heart also agrees with the sentiments of what Saclia closed with in his dissent:

In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

*note: an interesting write up of Scalia’s dissent can be found here including some of the parts I don’t agree with

As for Prop 8 I believe the court made the only reasonable decision it could; that is that it could not make a decision. This ruling well and truly puts the issue back in the hands of the states, where I believe it should stay. This sets up a lengthy battle in many states to pass legislation of on one side or the other, and it still allows there to be a potential future question around full faith and credit. I do not see this as a victory for civil rights activists the way the media represents it, however as a friend pointed out it is certainly not a defeat. I can honestly say here I believe the courts acted responsibly in not creating their own legislation and in limiting their own power (despite some of Scalia’s voiced fears voiced in the dissent of the DOMA ruling).

I wish that was the message being broadcast on the “breaking news” banners on every media website. A message that this was not a full “victory” and that there is still a long road ahead, a road that may someday be made harder by this decision not easier. Still while my heart may long for the day when all people share the same legal rights despite their differences in religion, my overwhelming feeling today is that of relief. I believe these decisions were steps taken in the right direction, and perhaps most importantly it was done responsibly.

Supremely Frustrating

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing cases having to do with gay marriage, and because of that it seems almost everybody has lost their minds. It seems like a large portion of the people I know are loudly clamoring that we need to show the supreme court (insert your side of this issue here) RIGHT NOW.

First off, have we forgotten that we don’t want the supreme court to care what the popular opinion is? Have we forgotten that they are supposed to be unbiased judges of the law? Have we forgotten that they must be detached in order to be what we need them to be? I believe firmly that everyone has the right to protest, march, picket, yell, scream, and express their opinion in whatever they want, but don’t mind me while I pray and hope fervently that it doesn’t make the smallest bit of a difference in what the court decides.

We will not know for months what the court’s decision is and endless speculation, vilification of the opposition and fear mongering only creates a hostile climate that drives us farther apart as a nation. The decision will not change the fact that there is a deep divide amongst the people. The opinion of those few justices may effect the practicalities of the law, but it will not end this discussion, nor will it solve this problem.

I support gay marriage as both an issue of equal rights and an issue of freedom of religion, however I will not be doing anything out of the ordinary this week because the supreme court is holding a hearing. Ask me what I believe and why and I will gladly tell you, this week or any other. I’m not saying that the rulings will be unimportant to me or that I don’t have hopes that they will go a certain way, but rather that I care more about being a calm voice for what I hope is sound reason for the long term. I believe that is the only way there will be real change.

Five years ago I moved to Washington DC with the intention of finding a job on the hill. I took a job in the private sector to pay my bills but always assumed that before long I would make it back to the hallowed halls of the Capitol. Now despite my love of government and an education in congressional politics I would be hard pressed to think of a place that seems less appealing than the hill.

When I was an intern in 2005 I saw some ugly political battles, and some even uglier attitudes and posturing be hind the scenes. Still I retained faith that “my party” would get their act together. 7 years and two changes of House leadership has proven me wrong. Not only has the party that I once identified with been imploding but the other party shows little hope of being any better.

I have been sitting back and watching the fiscal cliff battle over the holidays, and I have never been more deeply disgusted with politicians. Anyone who has a passing familiarity with the basic concept of having to do your own budget (a basic life skill) knows that when addressing a budget issue you must consider both revenue and spending. This problem is so big it can not be chipped away at from only one side of that coin.

I hate paying taxes and I tend to like my schools, roads, hospitals, and social services to be well funded, but the simple fact of the matter is that we are spending too much and we are running on borrowed time. At this rate it will not be long before our country’s proverbial credit card gets cut in half.

Leaders in both parties are acting like spoiled stubborn children, unwilling to admit past mistakes or to compromise on future actions and it really is simply disgraceful. It’s been years since Congress has passed a real budget (despite being constitutionally mandated to do so annually) and even longer since that budget has been even remotely balanced and that should outrage the American people.

We need our president to be a real leader and we need the party in charge of the House of Reps to get its act together. Our politicians need to stop worrying about keeping the fringe minority sects from their parties happy and start dealing with the reality that we are in trouble and only hard and likely unpopular decisions are going to fix that.

So it may seem odd given that I am writing a blog on current events, but I HATE election season. As may be evidenced by my lack of posts over the past couple of weeks, during this time of year every 4 years I find it very difficult to not be outraged by the ever present election coverage. Since I currently live close to Washington DC and in a swing state, the never ending cacophony of election chatter has been like nails on a chalkboard. Honestly the blame game, the mud slinging, and the general effort to misinform voters in order to garner votes makes me want to scream.

This probably came to a head in church this Sunday when I came the closest I have ever come to storming out of a service. Let me preface this by saying that I acknowledge and accept that the church I currently attend is theologically more conservative than I am, and I have come to peace with that. I also believe that churches have a right to endorse a candidate publicly if they so choose as a matter of free speech. I was however unprepared for my church to plaster the message from Billy Graham on the large screens (I attend a megachurch) and ask that we all pray that the country votes for “biblical values” at all levels and for all candidates.

I grew up in a church, family and community that adored Billy Graham, and honestly I still admire the man greatly despite some theological differences; however when he posted the message I linked above in many newspapers I was exceedingly disappointed. First of all Billy Graham has been the “Pastor to Presidents” and part of what allowed this to be true was his ability to be a voice of faith beyond politics. Both of the versions of the add that have gone out have been directly endorsed and seem to usually be funded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and while they don’t directly name a candidate, they are quite clear in their intent.

I also found it quite strange that just before the ad ran the website of the organization removed Mormonism as a “cult” on their website. Let me be clear that I do not see the Church of Later Day Saints as a cult and I would have liked to have seen that particular view changed a long time ago, however doing so in this manner seems to be a form of political pandering.  If standing by your “biblical” values in choosing a candidate is so important why was this view changed to allow for one candidate to no longer be seen as a cultist, while values of “biblical” marriage, Israel and abortion are elevated to special status in the importance of preserving America’s religious integrity.

I do believe that in general there is a candidate that Evangelical Christians will find more appealing theologically, however I do not agree that it is ok to fleece over things that might make the same candidate unappealing in order to make it easier for people to sleep at night. I also find it somewhat reprehensible to insinuate that you are “anti-biblical” and leading our country down an unholy path if you have decided that there are either other factors in your vote, or other ways to interpret particular issues. While the message did not directly imply those things the people who I have heard pushing this message upon others via Facebook and now through church have insinuated that.

My faith means a great deal to me, but so does my freedom to choose how and why I vote. I believe wholeheartedly that you have to view politics and by extension the law separate from your faith. I personally will never vote solely on what candidate has a religion closest to mine. I do however grant that people have a right to vote however they choose. If abortion or gay marriage are issues that are most important to you, then you have the right to vote how your conscience dictates, just please don’t judge my faith by your standards, or expect my vote to mean the same thing that your vote does.

We have a right to be independent free thinkers, I wish elections were celebrations of that rather than the divisive force that they have turned into. Please don’t mind me while I crawl into a hole and hide until this is all over.

EDIT: After reading Mayim Bailik’s blog, her thoughts captured so well what I was thinking right now. To share a quote:

“With the election approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that Jews (and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and people of all religions) come in all flavors. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you are politically or socially conservative, and just because you’re an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you’re politically or socially liberal. Humans are very complicated and thank God we are.”

Debates Take 2

Last night I watched about 15 minutes of the Presidential debates before I wisely walked away before I could start hating both candidates to the point of total voter apathy. In those 15 minutes (somewhere in the middle when they were talking about immigration) I observed a few things.
* Obama literally got 2x as long to answer the same question without being interrupted. (I’m told Romney was allowed to go over earlier but I didn’t see it) What is the point of a moderator if they aren’t going to moderate?

*Both candidates making stupid smug faces while the other is talking and attempting to interrupt the other.

*Both candidates and the moderator all talking at once, over each other, all seeming like spoiled children screaming for attention.

*Both candidates pointing out technicalities rather than facing the actual questions or issues.

 

From the very little I saw, I got a better impression of Romney, but that is probably because Obama blatantly disregarding the time limit went against all things that speech forensics in high school taught me. To me both of them seemed to be acting rather childish and the moderator seemed to have lost ALL control of the situation. This is pretty much exactly why I refuse to actually sit and watch these debates in full. I would rather actually figure out the grand picture of what a candidate wants to do rather than the “safe” talking points and petty accusations that seem to be the only purpose of these debates anymore.

 

 

In closing I will leave you with a Facebook post that a friend posted about the current state of the debates. I couldn’t agree with his idea more:

I would like to propose a new style of presidential debate- one where the candidates describe their policy positions in-depth, contrast them with their opponent’s policies, and avoid ad-hominem attacks and pandering to the base. We will call it The Smart People’s Debate and it can be broadcast via NPR so the idiots can’t find it. When obfuscation and avoidance become the political norm we must ask ourselves: who do our politicians really work for? Who are they hiding their opinions and ideas from and why?

 

So despite the fact that I competed in speech and debate all through school and that I have a degree in Political Science  I can not stand the presidential debates. I’ve never been able to watch them without getting frustrated at both candidates. The posturing, refusal to ACTUALLY answer questions or debate real points, and general mockery of an actual debate setting is usually too much for me to handle. Therefore I spent last night playing video games with my boyfriend.

This morning when I woke up I was extremely shocked to see that the same media that had been saying a “victory” for Romney would be just holding his own, were actually now saying that he had won handily. The cynical part of me wonders if Obama was throwing the debate, since everyone says he was far from the charismatic likeable candidate he generally portrays himself as,  so he can play the comeback kid. That same cynical nature also wonders if the media needs this race to be closer so they can increase readership/viewership. Still in any case it seems like this race got a lot more interesting after last night, it’s almost enough to make me want to watch the recording. Almost, but not quite; instead I’ll settle for my twitter feed from my newly minted twitter account, and share the ones that made me giggle this morning.

HuffPost Hill@HuffPostHill

Don’t worry, Jim Lehrer, it gets better. #stopbullying

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz Jim Lehrer’s pre-existing condition is death. We are watching the ghost of Jim Lehrer moderate this debate. He just floated through a wall.

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz It would be awesome if Obama’s face morphed into Honey Boo Boo’s face right now, wouldn’t it??

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz

Guaranteed paid for phony fest begins now!!! Phony 1 wears a blue tie, Phony 2 wears red. Predictable answers, rebuttals, no Rachel Maddow.

jimmy fallon@jimmyfallon

Obama: Blue Tie, Romney: Red Tie = Brian Williams: Purple Tie. #primarycolors

Bill Maher@billmaher

Obama made a lot of great points tonight. Unfortunately, most of them were for Romney

Wil Wheaton@wilw

So, in retrospect, I think the real loser of tonight’s debate was anyone expecting some of those promised zingers.

Wil Wheaton@wilw

Network note for Obama: We know you’re the leader of the free world and this other guy is a clown, but you’ve got to dial back the disgust.

Wil Wheaton@wilw

Okay, so I think this show needs a whacky neighbor to really spice things up. Maybe a talking baby, or a dog. OMG MAKE THIS FAMILY GUY!

Wil Wheaton’s Cat@WilWheatons_Cat

So I’m not political because I’m a cat…but in my opinion, the dude in the blue tie is taller.

TheBloggess@TheBloggess

Back the fuck up. If Mittens is elected he’s going to cancel Downton Abbey? I think I just got involved in politics.

Big Bird@BlGBlRD

Yo Mitt Romney, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters F & U! #debates #SupportBigBird

Will McAvoy@WillMcAvoyACN

If you had “not answering the fucking question” in the debate drinking game, please get yourself to a hospital.

Conan O’Brien@ConanOBrien

Just noticed that Jim Lehrer has no whites in his eyes. #Discuss