Archive for the politics Category

The Tea Party Revisited

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , on November 12, 2013 by Kyle Fleming

I went on an unintentional hiatus back in May 2012. Things came up in college, I got busy, was updating the blog less and less, so I decided to give it a rest for a while. I had full intentions of returning to regular updates, but then I got a job and wasn’t able to get back into the swing of things.

Then in late October 2013, something strange happened. One of my old posts, Why The Tea Party Is Ruining America, started getting a lot of comments.

Keep in mind, I was doing nothing to promote the blog. My political opinions were slowly making their way back to Facebook, going against why I had created this blog in the first place. And suddenly, there were five comments in one day, with two more comments coming later in the week, most in favor of the Tea Party.

Because of this newfound popularity, I thought it would be nice to read some of these comments and look back on the positive influence the Tea Party has had on American politics.

I recently had a political debate on a friend’s Facebook wall after she had posted this story on how Schroedinger’s Presidential Candidate Chris Christie is being heavily scrutinized by “hyper-conservative,” Tea Party-affiliated critics who say the Republican Governor isn’t “conservative enough” to be President.

The crux of the argument at the point I jumped into it was, “Sure, you can go online, and you can find people who claim to be affiliated with the Tea Party who say truly awful things about black people and wanting to kill members of Congress, but they’re just a few bad apples. If you ignore them, then you see that the Tea Party is just as civilized as anyone else.”

But a lot of what I’ve seen online and in the news about is nothing BUT hatred and vitriol. Comments sections on news organization websites are not bound by the same poo-pooing as commercial media coverage. People I meet in reality on the streets in Florida are not bound by media spin, though they are very good at parroting.

Take this gentleman I saw driving ahead of me a couple of weeks ago:

This is an actual person. In reality. Driving a windowless white van. Covered in anti-Obama, anti-Socialist propaganda. It’s the kind of intimidation that one can’t help but be very aware of, and one that seems to permeate every political discussion I have with someone who claims to be affiliated with the Tea Party (and, occasionally, people who claim to be “a registered Independent” while spitting out conservative talking points).

When I first wrote about the Tea Party movement back in 2010, all we saw were old angry white men. Fox News would promote Tea Party rallies across the nation, sending media personalities and news anchors to these different events. They owned it for a long time. In recent years, we’ve seen Fox News back away from actively promoting Tea Party activities, while still not being overly critical of conservative politicians and events. As a whole, members of the movement have appeared to settle down.

And yet, as I saw in my Facebook debate, and as I saw on this creepy duct taped van, and as we see in the media, there are still some people affiliated with the Tea Party that are so mindless that they still believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Obama is a socialist dictator, a Muslim, who’s trying to destroy the American way of life.

In my mind, the Tea Party — which has branched out from simply a movement to a full-fledged political party in some states — is still dangerous. In my experience, there is no attempt at discourse, and there appears to be no willingness to compromise. The dangerous few are willing to shut down the government and waste $24 BILLION in taxpayer money, all in the name of fiscal conservatism. They are the ones that want to destroy America.

Claim your few bad apples all you want, Tea Partiers. Make your false equivalencies with the Occupy movement, or mainstream political parties. But your barrel is definitely rotten.

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Same-Sex Marriage, and Why the Church Should Just Drop It

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

In the past week, two vastly important events occurred regarding the LGBT community. First, North Carolinians make their voices heard in the voting booth on Tuesday, passing a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage by defining it as between one man and one woman.

Two days later, President Obama, in an interview with ABC News, came out personally in favor of same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting US President to do so.

It’s been an absolutely bipolar week of achievements and heartaches, and it’s something that almost everyone has touched on, which is why I was hesitant to write this article. However, a Facebook friend of mine recently posted an article entitled Why Same-Sex Marriage Perverts the Relationship Between Christ and His Church. In it, the author argues that Christian marriage is defined in the Bible as between one man and one woman, because it is representative of the Church. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. — Ephesians 5:22-27

Personally, I thought it was a very enlightening article. That is, if you believe that marriage is defined by the church, and don’t completely understand why the LGBT community is fighting for marriage equality.

Any church denomination would be hard-pressed to redefine their definition of marriage because there is so much biblical backing for the “one man-one woman” definition of marriage, as evidenced by the citing of Scripture in this article. Everyone in the LGBT community understands this. It would be pointless to make the Church do anything, since they are an entity all of their own, exempt from taxes and protected to their own freedoms by the Constitution.

What the LGBT community is fighting for is LEGAL marriage equality, as defined by the government. Legal marriage gives couples over 1000 rights as married couples, such as being able to visit your significant other in the emergency room, government assistance benefits, and tax breaks, among other things.

The problem with this fight is that same-sex marriage opponents often conflate the two, thinking that what the LGBT community is fighting is some kind of “war” on traditional marriage. That’s not even close to the truth. Individual churches may choose whether or not couples can be married in the church, but even when same-sex couples are denied, they should still be able to go to the court house and find a Justice of the Peace, just like any other couple who doesn’t want a church wedding can do.

Having a “Christian” definition of marriage, to me, raises up a bunch of other questions. Like, if marriage is a Christian institution, why are people not as angry when straight Muslim, Jewish, or atheist couples get married? What is it about same-sex couples, some of whom have been together for upwards of 30 years, destroying the “sanctity” of an institution that has a 60% divorce rate?

Someone in the comments thread on Facebook pointed out that the crux of the argument in the article is that, in a same-sex marriage, there is no one to submit to the other. Two men can’t submit to each other because the man is the ruler of the household. Two rulers means no one is submissive. Which would be correct, if people still valued traditional gender roles and were as two-dimensional as some would believe.

As far as I’m aware, two people getting married has little to no effect on a massive organization like Christianity. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

The Gay Marriage Debate

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

Rick Santorum is an idiot.

Ordinarily I don’t like calling people names. However, Rick Santorum, Republican Presidential candidate, by sending the tweet above, proved himself to be an idiot.

In case you don’t understand the reference: The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that no state has the right to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marriage. There is no social or legal justification for denying same-sex couples all of the rights that married couples receive. It’s a great step forward for civil rights.

But apparently, telling the states that there’s no reason to deny all people equal rights is stripping rights away. Word of advice for those trying to figure that out: don’t bother. The more you think about it, the less sense it makes.

For me, this falls under the larger blanket of “wars on religion” that Republicans are so convinced that Democrats are waging, but for now, I’ll just focus on the gay marriage aspect.

I have never really understood what the big deal about gay marriage is. If two people absolutely want to commit themselves to each other for the rest of their lives, I say let them do it. There really is absolutely no reason for anyone to deny anyone else that right. Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity for marriage doesn’t mean straight couples aren’t allowed to marry. It just means more people are allowed to get married. It’s not a complicated issue.

Allowing same-sex couples the opportunity to be married doesn’t mean you have to have a same-sex marriage. I don’t plan on marrying another man, and I’m well aware that I never will be forced to marry another man if a gay marriage law passes.

There are only so many ways to say it, and yet people are still so ignorant and stupid about it.

But I have a question for Mr. Frothy-Mixture: exactly who’s rights are being stripped away? Seven million people are suddenly being oppressed because a court of appeals says it’s stupid for people to be prejudiced?

I just really, truly, have no idea what sort of logic–or lack thereof–is being employed with ignorant statements like Rick Santorum’s. If there’s someone that can explain to me that line of thinking to me, please do, because I’m so confused.

Why Minutiae Might Not Matter

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, pop culture with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Everyone knows that words matter. All it takes is a simple turn of phrase or a well-placed capitalization to make a point. In reading Penn Jillette’s new book, God, No! and Other Signs You May Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (book review coming Friday), Penn makes his atheism apparent not only by stating it several times throughout the book (and constantly name-dropping Hitchens and Dawkins), but also by refusing to capitalize the words “god,” “lord,” and “savior” when referring to Christianity.

It’s undeniable fact that words can be used for good or evil. It’s also an undeniable fact that, for the most part, people are reading into an agenda or argument that really isn’t there.

I was referred to an article on the Huffington Post where Sean Hannity ridicules President Obama’s intelligence because he mispronounced a word three times in a recent speech, pronouncing “corpsman” as “corpseman.”

I’m a firm believer of “things happen.” Sometimes you know how words are said but not how they’re spelled. I’ll freely admit that I had never seen the word “indictment” until I reached college, and felt like an idiot when I asked the person next to me what an “in-dickt-ment” was. I had used the word several times in conversation, and have heard it whenever the news was on in the background, but I had never seen the word. Obama probably had a similar situation. I’m not saying he did, I’m not saying he didn’t, but at this point, anything is possible.

I found another instance of this sort of nitpicking while browsing through the Fox Nation Twitter feed. It brought me to a tweet with proof that Obama can’t write. The link leads to an article from the American Thinker, which accessed a letter from 1990 that Obama wrote for the Harvard Law Record. Jack Cashill, author of the article, says that the letter is “classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged.”

Common sense would lead me to think that the article is poorly worded and rambling, with many spelling and grammatical errors, indicating that Obama wrote this letter in a drunken rage, and probably used the word “poopyheads” a few times in reference to critics of whatever he was writing about. But it’s much worse than that. To quote the article:

In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

“Since the merits of the Law Review’s selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues,” wrote Obama, “I’d like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works.”

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that “merits … have.” Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone.

Really? A common grammatical error? That’s proof that Obama can’t write? Funny story–I can use the same tactic against you in the very same article:

Although his description of the Law Review’s selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains “a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ.” These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average. (Emphasis added)

Clearly, if Cashill had done ANY kind of research, he would know that Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town is spelled Lake Wobegon. Clearly, anything Cashill wrote in this article can’t be trusted and should wholly be ignored if he can’t even spell a well-known fictional town correctly.

The point is, sometimes the little things matter, but for the most part, they don’t. Gaffes happen, and they shouldn’t be constantly thrust in the spotlight, because all it does is clutter the airwaves for more important issues.

It’s like the old saying goes, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can prove that you’re an incompetent loser.” Or something like that.

Politically Faithful

Posted in politics, religion with tags , , , on August 30, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Last night, on the MSNBC show “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” stand-in host Michael Smerconish, along with contributors Richard Wolffe and John Heilemann, discussed the contents of Bill Keller’s New York Times article Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith, which states that, despite the uproar stemming from asking Tea Party Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann how she defined being “submissive” to her husband (as dictated by the Bible), the American media, as well as the American people, should be asking tougher questions about a candidate’s religious beliefs. Keller’s point was that it doesn’t matter the religious beliefs of the candidates, but whether they, to quote the article:

[place] fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon… or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history…. I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.

This sentimate was echoed by Wolffe, who said, “Journalists have the right to ask any questions of these Presidential candidates or of anyone in public life. The question really should be more precicely focused [on] what their religion does to their positions on policy, on public affairs, on events in general…. Bachmann is making lots of pronouncements about her religion, how it affects her worldview. It’s perfectly acceptable to go after that….”

While I’ve only had an opportunity to vote in one Presidential election in my lifetime so far, I’ve never really understood why a candidate’s religious views mattered in the public debate. Maybe I’m one of those “weird people” who care more about what a candidate is going to do to benefit the American people rather than which church they’ll attend on Sunday morning. Maybe it’s strange to make sure that the person I vote for is someone who has common beliefs about the issues that are important to me, rather than how often they pray to the “right” God.

However, I also believe that the candidates should be held responsible for the statements they make. If someone is going to say that a cultural event or a natural disaster is a “sign from God,” I’d like to know why they believe that, and if at some point they backtrack and say that it was just a joke, I’d like to know what prompted them to say it in the first place.

A person’s religious beliefs shouldn’t be thrust into the limelight. I’m a fan of “live and let live” as far as religion goes. But if a candidate is going to flaunt their religious beliefs as a political tactic, then absolutely they should be questioned about it. If they’re confident enough to publicly state their beliefs, they should be confident enough to answer questions about it, no matter what the questions are.

Bill Keller went a step further, sending a list of questions to the GOP candidates about their religious views, even going so far as to send specific questions to the candidates. Some of my favorite questions on the questionnaire:

  • If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it?
  • Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench? What about an atheist?
  • To Rick Santorum: You signed a pledge circulated by the Family Leader, an Iowa conservative group, promising “personal fidelity to my spouse.” Do you think cheating on a spouse disqualifies a candidate from being president?
  • To Mitt Romney: In your 2007 speech on religion, you said that “freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.” Where does that leave unbelievers, in your view?
  • These are not “gotcha questions.” These are questions that are important to a great majority of Americans. They’re questions based on statements that the candidates have made, and they should be held accountable for them. They’re questions that need answers. And if they don’t answer them, as Bill Keller says in the end of his article, “let’s keep on asking. Because these are matters too important to take on faith.”

    The Obvious Solution to the Debt Crisis

    Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on July 13, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

    I preface this blog post with this qualification: I’m in no way an economist or a debt specialist. Sometimes, I can barely keep track of where my own money goes. But with all the hullabaloo about how we’re going to alleviate some of our nearly $15 trillion dollars of debt, I felt it was time for someone with no experience in monetary matters to step in.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of times, people can’t find a solution to anything because they are too deep into the game. Economists and Congresspeople can’t agree on a solution because they know too much. The best revelations come when a neutral third party takes a look at something and points out the obvious that was apparently overlooked.

    Hello. I’m your neutral third party.

    From what I’ve gathered from various news sources, there are three major elements that are being discussed: raising the debt ceiling, cutting spending, and raising taxes on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Republicans don’t want to raise the debt ceiling or taxes, but they want to cut spending. Democrats don’t want to cut spending, but would rather we raise the debt ceiling and maybe or maybe not raise taxes.

    There is never only one solution, regardless of the problem, and the same is true in this situation. We can’t just cut spending. We can’t just raise the debt ceiling. We can’t just raise taxes. There needs to be a combination of the three.

    I call it my Everyman’s Common Sense Debt Solution™, and while it is a combination of the unpopular elements of the three components, they are all equally important to solving this crisis.

    First, we must raise taxes on the richest 2% in America. I’ve talked about taxes before (twice even), and I stand by my statements: people who make more money should be expected to help out more, as the lower and middle classes can’t do it alone. Increasing taxes on the rich will provide us with more revenue to repay our debts.

    Second, we must make spending cuts. It’s easy to say, but inevitably the question comes up: what do we cut spending on? Different parties, as well as different people within those parties, will disagree on which areas we should cut spending. Personally, I feel that spending should be cut in regards to the military, via bringing all of our troops home from all over the world; prisons, via eliminating or modifying some of the punishments to some of the more minor crimes; and government salaries and benefits, because you were elected to help the American people, and maybe you can do that if you had salaries and benefits similar to the American people.

    I should note that spending cuts means cutting spending, not cutting spending while raising spending in other areas. The latter is not cutting spending; it’s redirecting spending. And that doesn’t solve anything. If you’re going to cut something, cut it, and have that be that.

    Finally, as a safety net, we should raise the debt ceiling. This final measure is in place because the first two measures won’t work right away. If something goes completely awry in our tax raising or our spending cuts, at least there is some wiggle room to work with.

    When all three items are in place, I can pretty much guarantee that we will see some change in our national debt. If it works, our debt will decrease. If it doesn’t work, our debt will increase, and we can see what works and what doesn’t. One thing is for certain, this plan will work much better than the fighting and stalling that is currently in place.

    President Obama, Rep. Cantor, Speaker Boehner. Your move.

    RIP “Glenn Beck”

    Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on June 30, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

    Do you really believe that I could, or anybody here at Fox News could, just make things up and remain on the air?… If I get out of control and start leveling baseless charges that can’t be backed up, guess what happens: I’m fired. I lose my job.

    After two and a half crazy years, Glenn Beck is off of Fox News. Earlier today, Glenn Beck took a wistful look back on his time on Fox, trying to prove that his going off the air was his choice, and not because he was fired, or because of his nearly 400 lost advertisers thanks to organizations like Media Matters (which made the montage of Beck clips above) and the Stop Beck Campaign.

    While I didn’t see the final episode, I certainly heard a lot about it from people on Twitter who were live-Tweeting, and apparently, what a show it was. He spent the whole hour talking about his new venture, GBTV, an Internet TV station where Beck has free reign over what is broadcast, which, given what he was getting away with on Fox, could be anything.

    Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Beck is one of the most charismatic TV/radio personalities out there. You may agree with what he says, or you think he’s completely insane, but you can’t help but admire how he gets people talking.

    What I like best about the above video, though, is that is apparently illustrates Beck’s tenure on Fox News. At first, he was this charismatic television host that, while he said some pretty controversial things sometimes, was generally fun to watch. By the time he left the network, he was pretty much a misinformation machine, wildly shouting whatever was the first thing that came to his mind. With all of his talk of the approaching “Perfect Storm,” “Spooky Dude” George Soros, or Islamic Fascism and Marxist Socialism, he was essentially reduced to the blabbering idiot you see from about 9:23 on.

    While Beck is now off of cable television, there’s still a media empire at his disposal: radio, Internet, books. All of it can be used to say whatever he wants to say, however controversial, confrontational, and just plain wrong it is. Beck has constantly said that he only looks like a buffoon on TV because people take his words out of context, but even in context, it’s hard to believe that people would take the hatred that he spewed seriously. And in some cases, Beck’s word is Gospel truth.

    In the spirit of Beck, who has made many a point by playing audio of “their own words” to incriminate them, I refer you to the last few moments of the Media Matters video which includes a quote from the Eric Massa episode (one of the most deliciously awkward episodes I’ve ever witnessed), because I feel it accurately sums up how most of the world felt about the Glenn Beck Program:

    America, I’m gonna shoot straight with you: I think I’ve wasted your time, and I apologize for that.

    Good-bye, Glenn Beck. Good luck. And good riddance.

    Just how much did Beck’s lost advertisers affect the decision to cancel the show? See the numbers here.

    Also, check out The 50 Worst Things Glenn Beck Said on Fox News, his top five failed predictions, and how Beck manipulated his audiences time after time.