Posts Tagged ‘Republican’


Interpreting the Tucson Shooting: It’s Time Both Parties Denounce Hyperbolic, Aggressive Rhetoric


After the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the parking lot of a Tucson Safeway, many have immediately pointed to the harsh rhetoric coming from the conservative party as incentive for the heinous act, reportedly perpetrated by an 18-year-old kid.

While there has not been a single report as to the reasoning behind his murderous actions (a 9-year-old has been reported to have been killed, along with others), it’s not exactly a leap to jump to that conclusion.  Regardless, until the facts are out, it’s all speculation.

Does that mean that we can’t discuss that aggressive, hyperbolic rhetoric is a plague on our society?  Absolutely not.

I don’t know at what point we can blame someone for what they say when their suggestions or insinuations cause someone else to commit a crime.  One might say that we shouldn’t blame violent media for violence in real life.  But there’s a considerable difference between someone who watches a slasher flick and then goes on a killing spree versus elected public officials calling for revolution, calling for their constituents to be “armed and dangerous.” There is a responsibility once someone holds public office that separates what they do in the media from that of fictional entertainment.

Then again, that assumes that politics and fictional entertainment are different entities.  Given that America’s interest in current events lies more on commentary and variously defined “facts,” the line is blurred now more than ever.

Also, for those who have been instantly pointing their fingers at Sarah Palin for her “Hit List” and Michelle Bachmann for encouraging people to “fight back” against Democrats, it’s not about the media.  It’s about our political climate.  We live in an era where lies and hyperbole rule the day in order to rally the bases out to the polls to ensure more political power. Seriously, it’s not exactly subtle to say “help us prescribe the solution” and then have a map with a bunch of targets aligned with Democratic Representatives; it’s more like a military response than a legislative one.

There are plenty of disturbed people in the world. And they’re not all religious fundamentalists or terrorists from other countries.  Homegrown Americans can be unbalanced and living outside of reality, too.   The issue is not that there is violence in the media or that insane people commit atrocious acts of violence — that’s always an unfortunate issue of the human condition.  Instead, it’s the fact that we have government officials calling for violence in response to civilized, democratic legislation.  How is that at all a reasonable response from anyone, much less someone holding public office – whose very job it is to solve problems through discourse and lawmaking, not revolution and violence? And whether or not it was an influence on this shooting, that negative, detrimental effect on society cannot be ignored any longer.

It’s time cooler heads prevail so we can all find common ground on a tonal shift away from violence in political rhetoric no matter how vehemently we disagree with each other’s philosophies. What’s the endgame for these types of calls to violence other than actual, physical retaliation?  If it’s just supposed to be all talk, then why not spout out positive, legal ways to make changes to our society rather than breed this atmosphere of fear and anger?

The onus is on us.  We can’t make other people conform to these concepts of civility.  The best we can do is be sure that we act the way we want others to act — ideally, the more people who follow along will render those inflammatory soundbites from exposure-hungry, vapid politicians pointless.  We need to resist the urge to add more safety measures into our already encroaching police state-esque list of laws that sacrifice personal freedoms for the sake of national security.

We’re all Americans.  We shouldn’t be treating members of the other party like the enemy. We already have enough of them in the world; we don’t need to be fighting with each other, too.   And perhaps once we can achieve that, we can actually fix the significant problems we have here at home.

Photo courtesy of SearchNetMedia’s Flickr Photostream.


On Presidential Approval Polls: Way Too Early to Worry about President Obama’s Re-Election Bid


Despite being still two years away from the next general election, pollsters can’t help but read into their findings to determine that President Obama may be in danger of losing his re-election bid.

A new McClatchy/Marist poll finds that Obama has the lowest approval ratings of his presidency thus far: 42 percent.  And while it might seem low compared to the relatively high levels he was at, it’s not the travesty that should be making headline news. (It’s worthwhile to note that this poll has a history of showing a roughly 4-point lower approval rate across the board for Obama than the corresponding Gallup poll — meaning that, like any survey or poll, it’s best to be used as a very rough estimate at best.)

To put the number into context, if we look at the Gallup poll history (I couldn’t find an easily accessible history of the McClatchy/Marist polls) of President Clinton’s approval rating at the same relative time — December of his second year in office — you’ll find that he had the exact same percentage of those polled approving of his job: 42 percent.

Also, let’s look at today’s political climate to see why he would’ve taken a 9-point dip: he just supported a massive tax cut for the rich, so it’s no surprise that he’d take a hit from liberals.

And the stats support this:

Among self-described liberals, his approval rating has dropped from 78 percent to 69 percent since November.

There’s your explanation.

What is telling, though, is that he didn’t receive any uptick from Independents despite his centrist stance on the tax cut package.

It could be a few reasons:

  1. He’s already lost the Independents, who think that he’s too left-wing for their tastes no matter what he does.
  2. Independents aren’t as quick to switch their feelings as the liberals, who responded to the tax cut deal with vicious disagreement.
  3. Independents like the move – hence why their approval didn’t drop – but, are concerned about the debt and want to see what he does with that policy before increasing their approval.
  4. Polls are inaccurate at best; misleading at worst so why are we even bothering to dissect this?

Either way, it’s much too soon to be worrying about the 2012 election as far as polls are concerned.  Look at what’s happened in the past two years already — Obama went from sky-high approval ratings to steady, middle-of-the-road approval ratings that were comparable for other recent presidents who were re-elected (Clinton, Reagan) for most of 2010 until the noticeable dip now, mostly to do with unhappy liberals who are furious at cutting taxes for the rich.

That sting will wear off, especially in two years with the prospect of a Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, or a Palin running the country.  It’ll most likely wear off sooner than that if DADT gets repealed anytime soon, too.  There’s also the chance that Obama goes down the debt-reduction route — which might shore up some Independent support, but could lose even more favor with Democrats if it cuts entitlements as heavily as it most likely will have to in order to change the course of our spending.  And, I highly doubt that even if he were to support something like the Bowles/Simpson plan he’d be able to win over any Republicans.

But no matter what happens between now and then, faced with the alternative, the Democrats will support him.  Just like the overwhelming majority of Republicans won’t find themselves supporting Obama in 2012, vice versa for the Democrats.  Even if he’s not their favorite option, he’ll be the lesser of two evils.

Which means it comes down to the Independents again.  Making this poll — and probably all others until we get much closer to the election and see how all of the uncertainties of the future play out — pointless and only good for keeping pollsters employed and pundits talking.

And me blogging.


Our Current Political Discourse: Time for Critical Thinking, Not Selective Listening


If we consider the endless debating on the 24-hour-news TV channels, in the blogosphere, and on talk radio as healthy political discourse, we’re lacking the “healthy” and “discourse” parts of it.

Instead of focusing on facts and figures to influence a “this is the best course of action” decision, all of our time “discussing” is really just making sure that every single person’s view on things – regardless of how informed it may be – gets its validation in the world.

I suppose the idea is that offering different viewpoints allows the reader/viewer/lemming to determine on their own which one is right and which one is wrong.  Or, more likely on the complex issues not as cut-and-dried as something like the Birther insanity, that each side would offer something valuable to the discussion (and by that I mean factual knowledge, not just personal belief) that would help the reader/viewer/lemming to come to their own conclusions.  Instead, though, people tend to just latch onto whichever person already coincides with their own beliefs (not facts or conclusions) and just accepts everything that person says as truth.  Our news has become simply about offering an outlet to validate everyone, not to empower them to come to their own conclusions.

So what ends up happening? People immediately become defensive when debate occurs because it’s not a discussion of independent facts and points of view; it’s become a personal attack on beliefs.  And, of course, people just reiterating the same talking points over and over.  It’s like we’re all just in one camp or another, following the leader.  That’s not informed debate.  That’s not engaging, educational discourse.  That’s not examining complex issues. It’s just finding someone that is a supposed authority to make you feel like, “Yup! I knew it: I’m right!  See, he said so, too, so that means whatever I think it’s the truth!”

The reality is that everyone lives life in a gray area, even if they claim to – or want to – live in an ideal world where there are clearly defined rights and wrongs. Recently in a Facebook thread, I had a discussion with two Republicans who can’t stand Obama and it came down to this: no matter what Obama does, they won’t agree with him. For example: despite the fact that Obama increased the military campaign in Afghanistan — which is something that one supported — she marginalized it by saying that Obama has merely “supported” the effort there.  I countered that factually that was inaccurate — Obama drastically increased the troop levels in Afghanistan — but, it didn’t change her opinion that he was a “pansy.”  Since she already had established that as her belief of Obama, everything had to be spun to fit that image rather than amending her belief; in this case, marginalizing Obama’s surge in Afghanistan as simply “supporting” what had already been started by his predecessor.

The other commenter in the discussion summed it all up rather succinctly:

“He is slithery and two faced, that is the bottom line.we will never agree on what he has done or not, but he is a fake for sure. [sic]”

Notice that phrasing — implying that even the facts are debatable and up for personal interpretation.  We can certainly disagree on the value of his actions, but to not even be able to see eye-to-eye on what actions he’s done… I mean, that’s outside the boundaries of rational thought. Unfortunately, I feel like that’s where much of our discourse exists today.

We’re at a point where people stick to their preconceived notions in the face of facts that may run contrary, seeking out and listening to others to reaffirm and support those notions rather than absorbing the facts and using those to influence our opinions.  Coming to conclusions based on the evidence seems to be an outdated concept having lost favor to everyone needing validation that their own view of the world is the right one and everyone else is wrong.

Except for those chosen political pundits that share those same beliefs of course.

I mean: what’s so good about all sharing the same feelings on politics as Glenn Beck?  So you can have the exact same political opinions as every other Fox News Channel viewer?  Or every other talk radio listener?  Every other self-proclaimed Republican?

We should all be as skeptical of opinion writers/pundits/hosts as we are of the public figures they themselves are criticizing.  We should all also accept that:

  1. our initial opinions might be wrong;

  2. accept that we won’t share the exact same opinions that we’re “supposed to” have given our political affiliations; and

  3. we will not know what’s “right” and what’s “wrong” on every single issue or policy or maneuver or bill that comes down the pike and is discussed exhaustively in the public eye.

There’s not nearly as much security in accepting those three realities — it’s easier to sleep at night knowing that we’re right and they’re wrong.  The biggest impediment to acceptance is that the pride that has been established already in the polarizing discourse has meant that no one can handle the ego blast that one would endure at this point if a die-hard Republican admitted that – gasp! – Obama did something they agreed with for once and didn’t spin it to still retain their comforting disdain for him.

To universally dismiss and disagree with everything that someone does simply because they did it is the exact same fallacy as universally celebrating and agreeing with everything that person does simply because they did it. It’s the flip side of the same misguided coin.  We need to accept the gray area.  We need to accept that Republicans will sometimes favor (insert traditional Democrat stance here) and Democrats will sometimes favor (insert traditional Republican stance here).  This shouldn’t be surprising nor unforgivable.

It should be encouraged that we think for ourselves and have diverse stances on things rather than stick to partisan talking points.  It’s time to validate critical thinking, not selective listening.


On Maturity and Patience: Americans Need to Grow Up


Republicans aren’t the only ones who aren’t happy with President Obama and the policies that he and the Democrats have enacted during his tenure over the past two years.  A share of Democrats are unhappy, as well.

Comedian Jon Stewart joined the ranks of those who voted for Obama and has found himself disappointed with the ensuing administration:

“I think people feel a disappointment in that there was a sense that Jesus will walk on water and now you are looking at it like, ‘Oh look at that, he’s just treading water’ … I thought he’d do a better job,” said Stewart.

Of course there’s going to be inherent disappointment when you imagine the man you helped elect to the secular office of president as having some spiritual likeness to the Messiah.  Obama’s just a man, just a politician.  Nothing more or less.  It’s not Obama’s fault that Stewart had his expectations grossly out of proportion with reality; that’s Stewart’s.

But, I think the general idea of Stewart’s is one that exemplifies a major issue with all Americans right now.

We’ve become a society full of people without any patience.  We can’t wait for anything to develop – or to recover.  We refuse to see the big picture anymore, instead focusing only on the here-and-now and why things don’t change with the miraculous snap of the fingers or the election of someone new.  Since virtually everything we could ever want is available to us in the blink of an eye online, our collective brains have devolved back into little children demanding whatever it is we want at that moment from our parents without any concept of understanding just what it is we’re asking of them or how difficult or impossible it may be for them to get it for us in that instant.

Andrew Sullivan has likened Obama to the one adult in the room surrounded by a bunch of children: the Republicans in Congress.  But, I think we’re all the children.  We all have this to blame.  At whom else can we point the blame?

We say we want change every two to four years — basically every election it seems — because the ones we elected didn’t do what they said they were going to do.  So we elect the people from the other party because they say they’ll right the ship.  Of course, after two years, since no miracle has happened and we’re still the impatient children who doesn’t understand the concepts of time and patience, we switch the lineup again – expecting yet another miracle, that changing the guard itself will change reality in the blink of an eye.  And then we blame the politicians and blame the other party and blame the system again and again.  Rinse and repeat.

But, we’re the ones to blame.

I am guilty of being a child in this game, too.  I’m impatient.  I’m stubborn.  I’m argumentative.  I think I have answers like everyone else.  I don’t always act my age.  We can’t just stomp our feet and throw a temper tantrum because things aren’t going the way we want them to anymore.  We can’t indulge our own ignorance of the complexities of life and how sometimes it takes much longer to get what we want than we’d like.  Or that sometimes we just don’t always get what we want – ever.

It’s time for us to grow up.

Image courtesy of BabyDinosaur’s Flickr Photostream.


Pointless TV Survey Offers Only More Polarization in Current Political Climate


Much has been said already about the recently released Experian Simmons survey that shows which TV shows are most popular according to the political affiliation of their audiences.

If you know me, you know I don’t put much stock in surveys or polls.  Blogs and articles aplenty have done their own parsing of the data to come to their own conclusions about the average psyches of Democrats versus Republicans.  I’m not going to continue it here — look at the chart and form your own opinions on what it all says.

To read into this, I think, is a colossal waste of time.  Almost more of a waste than actually bothering to survey people with these questions to begin with.

In fact, I find it extremely unhelpful in taming the absurd polarization in our current political climate.  Instead of focusing on our differences – yet again! – why not illuminate that middle section of the Venn diagram where Republicans and Democrats agree?

I know, I know: a tall order these days, but it’s not.  It just seems that way when all we do is point out where we appear to be vastly different species. And it will only continue if we indulge in actually giving topical, shallow, pointless crap like this honest discussion as if it means anything worthwhile.

Then again, it’s a survey about people’s television-watching habits — not exactly a medium which promotes deep thinking. Sigh.  I guess I’ll go back to watching Countdown with Mad Dexter Taking on 90210’s Private Brothers’ 30 Good Damages to Community Law – Episode 13: Friday Night Parks Breaking… Bad.


Vote, Vote, Vote: Do Your Civic Duty in the General Election Tomorrow


I just got done researching the nine different measures on the ballot in tomorrow’s general election — it takes some work to do your civic duty right.

For those of you fellow Californians, check out this online resource for learning about each of the propositions, both sides of the story, so that you can form your own opinion on whether or not to vote yes or no.  It puts the onus on you, the voter, to read up on what the proposition actually stays and decide for yourself.

It also tells you which groups and/or companies are supporting and opposing the measure and how much they spent on the campaign, as well as which side the different newspapers took — which can be helpful if you’re on the fence or just completely unsure.

From the same link, you can check out information on the other races, the main one being for governor.

Whichever way you vote on any of the measures or races, just voting is the important factor. Especially for us blowhards on the Internet who love to espouse our opinions to the masses via blogs which sure can be productive in creating dialogue, it isn’t exactly the most effective way to change things.  Voting is.

There’s a recent thread on The Daily Dish which goes back and forth between a liberal notion that our freedom to vote is more crucial than property rights while a conservative notion values the opposite.  Both are strong arguments and I’d prefer to not have to choose either — but, being able to own my own property yet not be able to vote could allow the government to tax my property so high that it would render it nearly worthless.

Long story short: go vote.  Tomorrow.  Election day.  Make your voice heard.

Image courtesy of wallyg’s Flickr Photostream.


The Republican Party Still Has No Interest in Actual Governance


Sure, if you read this blog, you probably have several notions of why I dislike the current Republican Party.

But leave it to GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to so eloquently explain it for me:

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Seriously? That’s the single most important thing the country needs right now? That’s the single most important thing on the minds of Americans right now?

What a total joke. People can complain about the policy choices of the Democrats in power, but at least they’re focused on actually fixing things, on making our country better.  You might not agree with the health care law (too big, too socialist?) but it’s goal is to help Americans without insurance obtain health care without risky bankruptcy.

What do the Republicans want to do?  They want to get rid of Obama.

That’s it!  9.6 percent unemployment? Not nearly as important.  The war in Afghanistan? Wasn’t a big deal when we invaded Iraq and still isn’t a big deal now.  Climate change? God has that figured out already for us.  Immigration? A wall or a fence or just kick em out I guess… we’ll worry about it later.

Just know that if you vote Republican in the Senate race next week, the possible-future Senate majority leader has already declared what the number one priority is.  And if you’re one of those few who – despite rational thought and factual evidence to the contrary – think that Obama is a socialist, Muslim who was born in Kenya and wants to usher in Sharia law and instill a New World Order with the Amero as the global currency… well, I suppose you should be stoked to hear that your represenatives in Washington are listening to you after all.

As for the rest of us…

(H/T The Daily Dish)