Archive for politics

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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Why the Tea Party is Ruining America

Posted in current events, opinion, politics with tags , , , on May 3, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I’d like to begin this post by saying that I have no problem with protest movements. If you feel that you are suffering an injustice, by all means speak up. If you are opposed to war, hold a rally. If you are opposed to abortion, start a picket line.

However, what I have a problem with is ignorance and “unintelligence.” And from what I’ve seen from the Tea Party Movement, it is made up of nothing but.

In the 16 April 2010 edition of the Des Moines Register, there is a fantastic article on the Tax Day Tea Party Rallies. In the article there are several Tea Party protesters interviewed, and while Fox News and other conservatives want you to think that this movement is revolutionary and all of that, the quotes that are offered in the article are very telling:

… Ina Breeden, a 70-year-old great-grandmother… [said] that Obama wrote in “Dreams from My Father” that everyone he’s been surrounded by in politics is a Marxist…. Breeden said she hadn’t read the book, but had heard others talking about it.

… “Everything he’s done,” [Diana Clancy] said of Obama, “he’s followed the same orders as Hitler.”

The only problem with these sorts of statements is that they are blatantly wrong. Nowhere in “Dreams from My Father” does it say that he was surrounded by Marxists. Even Mrs. Clancy’s statement is followed by an immediate retraction from her: “Don’t put that. He’s going to come after me.”

The conservative pundits are up in arms about how the Liberals–with their unGodly, baby-killing, pot-smoking, gay-marrying, socialist, fascist, Communist ways–are wrongly portraying the “Tea-baggers” as racist and violent, because they are making sweeping generalizations about a few (which ironically enough, is what they’re doing to Liberals).

And I’ll concede to the fact that there might only be a few racists in the Tea Party movement. And maybe only a few people are throwing rocks in the windows of Congresspeople and are calling for the outright murder of those who voted for the health care bill. But what simply can’t be ignored is the obvious fact that most Tea Party protesters are stupid and ignorant.

Tea Party protesters and Conservatives didn’t want the health care bill “shoved down the throats of the American people.” Never mind that health care reform had been talked about for 50 years. Never mind that there was only a real push for change in the last year. Never mind that there were plenty of opportunities to engage in healthy and meaningful debate of the bill. And never mind that, despite having both HR 3200 and HR 3962 posted online, no one even bothered to read it. It was all too fast and not the change we wanted.

Maybe it’s not the fact that the Tea Party protesters are stupid. Maybe every once in a while a reporter finds a very articulate and knowledgeable protester who knows what he’s talking about, and that screws up whatever narrative that particular news source was going for. The biggest problem is that these people are misinformed about everything.

And what news source is the biggest supporter of the Tea Party movement? Fox News.

It’s amazing how Fox News and Conservative pundits so easily defend the violent actions of this movement, and yet somehow get offended when people call them out on it. It’s also been pointed out on several occasions that Fox News will even tamper with video to make it appear that these protests are bigger than they really are.

Misinformation combined with fear-mongering, combined with impressionable people who will loudly relay any information no matter how wrong it is, equals a dangerous creature that no one can control. The Tea Party movement is promoting ignorance and violence, all without a coherent message. And also their costumes are pretty dumb.

I just don’t get how people can still believe something that has been shown to be wrong over and over again. Is it that common sense is dead, or is it more that in today’s American society, free-thinking and intelligence isn’t in vogue?

Politics and the Playground: Democrats are Geeks and Republicans are Bullies

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Normally, I don’t let my political views sway what I write about. I believe I mentioned earlier–perhaps a couple of times–that my views are strictly my views, and I rarely, if ever, push them on people.

That being said: Republicans are bullies.

And also: Democrats are geeks.

And further still: Politicians are children.

And one more for good measure: Americans are just as childish.

If anyone watched any part of the health care vote on any news outlet last night, they were treated to probably one of the most immature demonstrations of American governmental procedure of all time. Everything you expected (Tea Party protesters shouting racial slurs at House Democrats), and some that you didn’t (A Republican calling Rep. Bart Stupak a “baby killer”), and some that are just so completely off the wall you’d think it was a surrealist play or something (Bricks being through through Democratic Party office windows).

The House was rarely, if ever, in order. Though the Representatives were formal in there procedures (yielding time, “Mr. Speaker,” etc.), there was an obvious hatred and disdain for the other party.

Absolutely no Republicans at all supported anything about the health care reform bill. At all. At times I wondered if it was because they truly thought the bill needed some work. But looking at the campaigning against the bill, the hateful propoganda against the bill, and the constant references to the bill as “ObamaCare,” I realized that it was only apposed because of it’s Islamo-socio-fascist tendancies.

If we’re to believe the gross exaggerations the most vocal Republicans were throwing out, you’d think that the Health Care Bill required that all American citizens were to become Muslims, be euthanized at 65, and have a manditory abortion twice a month, regardless of gender. You’d think that all of your money is going toward illegal immigrants getting cosmetic surgery, and that if you so much as thought about speaking ill of the bill, you were to be shot on sight.

That’s not to say that Democrats are perfect. Far from it: if they had been more vocal about what was actually in the bill, and would actually take a stand against Tea Party protesters who simply attended hearings to down down the Senators and Representatives, something more might have been done with the bill. Maybe there would have been a more productive discussion. Maybe there would have been changes made, and an actual compromise to the bill, rather than, and I’m quoting every Fox News “journalist” here, “shoving it down the American people’s throats.”

The whole debacle reminded me of my days as a child, playing on the playground, and watching the bullies and the geeks abuse and be abused.

Play this scenario out with me: Republicans are bullies, Democrats are geeks, the American people are the rest of the playground, and the health care bill is tag:

A friendly game of tag is being played, when one of the geeks realizes that the game is kind of becoming unfair, so he proposes a new game of tag. Maybe they were playing normal tag, and this geek would like to play freeze tag.

One of the bullies says, “You just want to change the game because you’re sick of losing all the time!”

The geek says, “Actually, I just don’t like how this game works, and I want to play a version that works for everyone.”

And the bully says, “The game is working fine as it is. We don’t need to change it.”

And other geeks start saying, “Actually, I’m not really having fun with it. And neither are other people on the playground.”

And the rest of the playground says, “Yeah, let’s change the game.”

And the bullies say, “You guys are just wussies. You’re just bringing up a change in the game because you want to avoid the fact that you’re losing!”

And the geeks say, “Well, everyone is losing right now. Let’s just play freeze tag.”

And the bullies say, “Look around you! Nobody else wants to play freeze tag!”

And the rest of the playground says, “Actually, I don’t mind changing the game.” But a few say, “Actually, yeah, I don’t want to play freeze tag.”

So the bullies start shouting. And the geeks can’t handle the shouting. They try to reason with the bullies, to get a compromise, maybe just tweak the rules, but they end up getting beat up after school.

Finally, the time comes when they want to change the game once and for all. The geeks gathered a lot of support for freeze tag, but the bullies know that it’ll never get changed, and they hope to play one last game of tag before the bell rings, signaling the end of recess.

They take a vote, the way all kids do when they want to be fair about changing the game. None of the bullies want to change the game. More geeks than bullies want to change it. The motion passes.

Then the bullies start calling the geeks names, evil names, and threaten to beat them up again unless they change their mind. But the game has been changed, and there’s nothing the bullies can do about it except whine and moan some more and pout because they didn’t get their way.

This is an important, 100-years-in-the-making decision that could mean better health care for everyone in America, and the Republicans don’t like it, only because it is Islamo-socio-fascist-ObamaCare.

Kids these days and their running the country. Whatever shall we do with them?

Lenten Focus #4 — What Is Your Message?

Posted in religion with tags , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

This is part four of a six-part series of the Lenten Focus, done every Wednesday during Lent. Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Politicians will be the first to tell you that everyone has an agenda. It doesn’t matter what party you belong to, or where you live, or what you do for a career, you will always have a different slant on a subject as anyone else you’ll ever meet.

The biggest problem with this is that most of the time, it’s impossible to be objective about things. I try my best on this blog to not throw in any of my personal views into the things I write about, but sometimes it’s my viewpoint on a subject that makes me want to write about it.

The same thing happens with the message of Jesus. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus clearly lays out the two most important commandments: Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s a simple, straightforward message that should be fairly easy to follow.

But then come in all the baises. Many people today largely ignore how simple this commandment is. They take this commandment and filter it through the rigid rules and regulations of the Old Testament (which we all know, according to Hebrews 8:13, has been rendered useless), turning the commandment into “Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself, unless your neighbor is gay, an adulturer, or of another belief system. Then it is okay to hate them until they earn your love by converting to Christianity.”

The message of love becomes lost in everything that goes on in the world. The news is inundated with stories of death, disease, famine, war, infidelity, and all sorts of hatred: Parties hating other parties, nations hating other nations, with no end in sight.

It is imperative to remember those two simple commandments for what they are: a message of pure and unconditional love.

What does this have to do with you? You have an agenda, whether you like it or not. Use it to your advantage, and spread a message of love to the people who will listen to you. A pro-war message of love is different than an antiwar message. A vegetarian message of love is different than a carnivorous message. Men are different than women, the old different from the young. Take this message of Jesus, this message of love everyone no matter who they are or where they come from, and spread it across the world.

Everyone has an agenda. Everyone has a message. Find one that works for you.

Your Children Are Not Being Indoctrinated

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Normally, I don’t have a problem with Glenn Beck. In all honesty, I’m a huge fan of the show. Occasionally, he makes some great points, and he tries his best to be in the middle ground, calling out Republicans along with Democrats. Normally, I don’t have a problem with him. But every once in a while, Beck says something, or has a topic, that is absolutely ridiculous, and it frustrates me to the point where I can no longer think straight.

It’s rare for me to be writing a blog topic at the same time that the topic at hand is still in process. Yet here I sit, watching Glenn Beck rant and rave over something that isn’t a big deal, because it’s not a deal at all. Apparently, the “progressives” are indoctrinating your children by telling them that they are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than you. It’s an abomination, and it’s all the progressive Democrats’ fault. “Aren’t you shocked that people are using your children this way?” he just asked.

There’s one problem: your children aren’t being indoctrinated. Beck used an Al Gore quote–“There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know”–as proof that progressives are taking over your child’s mind. But really, all this quote (which, by the way, is taken extremely out of context) says is that, in changing times, the younger generation has a better idea of the world than older folks. It’s common sense.

In the speech, Gore uses the Civil Rights Movement as an analogy of changing times. The quote, in context…

When I was your age and the Civil Rights Revolution was unfolding, and we kids asked our parents and their generation, ‘Explain to me again why it’s okay for the law to discriminate against people for the color of their skin color? And when our parents’ generation couldn’t answer that question, that’s when the law started to change. There are some things about our world that you know that older people don’t know.Why would that be? Well, in a time of rapid change, the old assumptions sometimes just don’t work anymore because they’re out of date.

… is not a huge deal. Not only is this common sense in a changing world, it’s also a clever ploy to build up a child’s self-esteem. If a child feels that his or her efforts are worthwhile, he or she will be more inclined to make a difference in the world.

But Glenn Beck doesn’t seem to see this. He seems to see any sort of push to support children–future leaders of the world, mind you–as some Islamo-fascist-socialist-communism ploy to destroy America. This whole show just seems to be a distraction from some other humongous  problem; he says in the rant before the commercial break, “I can’t teach God in school, but I can make kids pledge allegiance to the Earth? The Earth is God now! The Earth is greater than human beings!”

I understand Glenn Beck is a proud American, and I can kind of see how pledging allegiance to the Earth goes completely against that. But, really, the Earth is greater than the people who live on it. Any slight change in the natural world can completely wipe out the human race. And my religious upbringing tells me that God not only created everything, but is also in everything. God created the Earth, and God is the Earth. I would gladly pledge allegiance to the Earth, because I am pledging allegiance to God in this way.

If anyone is watching the show, you know how awkward this suddenly has become. He spoke directly to “progressive bloggers,” and quoted Malachai 4:6–“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” He says that this verse says that indoctrinating our children is evil. And he also recommended that I spell EVIL in capital letters. Just for kicks, I’ll go a step further: EVIL!!!!!!!!!!!1

But again, Beck is quoting out of context. Chapter 4 of Malachai, in its entirety:

1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Looking at the passage as a whole, it actually says that the EVIL!!!!!! world will be destroyed unless the hearts of the fathers are turned to the hearts of the children, and vice versa. God himself is saying that unless children and fathers learn from each other, the world is going to be struck down.

But I digress. The real reason this episode of Glenn Beck is bothering me so much that I felt like I had to blog as the show is in progress is because throughout the whole show, Beck has been talking down to my generation. The whole episode has been a “Get Off My Lawn, You Crazy Kids!” episode, with Grampa Beck telling us kids that our generation is out of control, just like, I’m sure, his grandparents told him when he was young. He was born in 1964, after all.

I’m not a fan of people being condescending to me. But that’s all this was. It was Glenn Beck Knows Best, and because I am younger than he is, I am an idiot.

Thanks, but no thanks, Mr. Beck. The fact is that the world is changing. My generation has a greater access to knowledge than your generation did. And in fact, I may go out and buy “Eric’s Book” (Generation-We by Eric Greenberg, in case anyone was wondering), just because. I appreciate you trying to protect me, but everything in this show had no evidence. I was always taught that to have an effective argument, I need claims and evidence. Sadly, this show only had the former.

To my generation: This show should be incentive for us to get out there and change the world even more. Don’t even think about politics, don’t think about being “too progressive”. We have a higher calling, and we need to do everything in our power to change our world before our world changes us.

Politics as Usual

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I’m always excited whenever I watch the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It’s the biting commentary, the no-holds-barred look at the news media and politics. But I’m most excited when Stewart catches politicians in their own lies. When he compares Republicans’ defiance to decisions that President Obama makes to Republicans’ praise for similar decisions that President Bush made. When he catches Democrats praising Obama for ideas that they didn’t like when Bush proposed them. When politicians blatantly make up lies about legislation simply because the other party thought it was a good idea.

But even though this type of “gotcha!” comedy is great, it’s also disheartening, that we’re letting political identification get in the way of progress and a better standard of living. Democrats pushing for health care reform are blocked by Republicans who probably also want it, but don’t want to admit it because they need to stay “true to their party.” Democrats tearing down Republicans for wanting tougher border control, even though they probably want it, but can’t admit it because it doesn’t jive with their party platform.

And even though I try to keep an open mind about my friends’ political values, every once in a while I’ll catch myself. “My best friend in the world is a Conservative? I better find a new best friend.”

It’s odd to think that way, and I’m constantly amazed at how politicians can always do this. It really hit me my freshman year of college, when I was taking a class on the 2008 election. Before class one day, one of my classmates came up to me and said, “Did you hear?”

“About what?” I asked. I was expecting something important, as there was much urgency in her voice.

“Kayla* voted for McCain.” She was honestly offended by such a move. She couldn’t believe it. And for a moment, I couldn’t believe it, either. Here she was, a music major like myself, probably one of the most liberal of all majors on campus, and she voted Republican.

It was a strange feeling to realize that I had judged wrongly on political identification. But I’ve also noticed that this sort of thing happens with religious identification, too.

One of my professors out right told the class last term that he was an atheist. At first, a chill ran down my spine: how can I trust that someone who doesn’t believe in God is teaching me the right things?

And then, as I thought about it, his religious identification had nothing to do with the class topic (political terrorism) or his personality (a “BAMF,” as the kids say).

It seems silly to me that different political, religious, etc. identification can impact someone’s view of other people. It’s crazy, and if people would think for just a moment and realize how crazy it actually is, they might stop.

But it won’t stop. As long as political extremists like Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, and others like them keep pushing an irrelevant and useless political agenda that no one can conclusively agree on to build up or tear down decisions that other parties make, nothing will get done. It’s why America is where it is today: we are children, and we make fun of and don’t trust people who are different from us.

It’s a plea that often falls on deaf ears, but it’s a plea that is crucial and important: can’t we all just work together? Can’t we all just get along?

*Name changed

A Retarded Double Standard

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , on February 10, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Many times something comes up in the news that seems almost comical in a sense. Usually they aren’t pointed out unless you’re watching the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, but sometimes they simply just play out in perfect timing, and you wonder if it was scripted or just a wild dream you were having.

Such an event played out between Sarah Palin, Rahm Emanuel, and Rush Limbaugh over the weekend, and all of it over the dreaded “R-word”. In a closed-door meeting, Rahm Emanuel was all hyped up over dissident Democrats as “F—ing retarded.” Granted, even behind closed doors, that sort of language isn’t acceptable, and Emanuel rightly apologized for the comment.

Sarah Palin later chimed in on her blogs, claiming that Emanuel committed “a slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities,” and called for his immediate dismissal from his position as White House Chief of Staff. While I’ve never agreed with anything Sarah Palin ever did during her Vice Presidential run, I have to admit that she makes a great point. I agree that it was wildly inappropriate for Emanuel to toss such a word around, and while I wouldn’t call for his immediate dismissal, I feel that some sort of repercussion should be felt, such as a fine or something similar.

I’m kind of surprised I agreed with Palin on something. It actually feels sort of good. Why don’t I do it more often?

Later, Rush Limbaugh, famous for being a “giant blowhard,” went on his own rant about what Emanuel said, saying, “Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards.” He went on to say, “I think their big news is he’s out there calling Obama’s number one supporters f’ing retards. So now there’s going to be a meeting. There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House. Much like the beer summit between Obama and Gates and that cop in Cambridge.”

“Retard summit”? Oh, Rush, I hope you’re ready to feel the wrath of Sarah Palin, ’cause here it comes!

…. where is it? Where is the unholy wrath of Sarah Palin? Where are the calls for Rush Limbaugh to be fired? To have a hefty fine slapped on him?

There is nothing. This is probably why I don’t agree with Sarah Palin.

While she did make a blanket statement of “crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful,” by not specifically addressing Limbaugh like she addressed Emanuel, she’s is showing her true colors: Republicans occasionally have slips of the tongue, and Democrats are retarded.

This isn’t the first time Palin has said something ridiculous: on the campaign trail, she claimed that being in close proximity to Russia is foreign policy experience (I don’t have the direct quote, so that’s all I’ll say on the matter); in a recent interview, she said that the only way Obama can guaranteed re-election is to declare war on Iran. So much wrong with most of these statements.

I’m not a fan of improper use of words, just as much as I’m not a fan of political correctness. I’m not a fan of double standards, either. And overall, this sort of political bogusness is the worst of all. It’s unacceptable for anyone to toss out the word “retard” so loosely, but it’s even more of an abomination to hold a double standard based on politics.

But, that sort of rant will be saved for another day. For now, I leave you with the wise words of Stephen Colbert. Enjoy.