Election 2012

I recall feeling this same way about leadership I’d supported all the way back in 1979 and 1980. Jimmy Carter’s presidency, so hopeful at the outset because we were communally digging out from the morass that was Nixon/Ford, had become a mess. Unable to move forward in any substantial fashion in key areas of the economy, the energy crisis, and the hostage crisis in Iran, things just felt sad.

These days, Obama’s presidency is marked with similar problems that feel insurmountable: the economy, spying scandals, the rollout of the affordable Care Act, and as a supporter listening to the news, hopeful that something will suddenly change the sad undercurrent of the whole dynamic, you just start to feel like things can’t end soon enough.

The only difference these days is that Obama is a lame duck, or technically, is about to become one next year. These are the days that a president is supposed to just cruise, put in place programs and international accords that mark the presidency as a success.

But that won’t happen.

I was afraid that the overreaching that the administration kicked off right after being elected might have a backlash, and it has. The ACA, regardless of whether or not it’s a good piece of legislation, is a lightning rod, attracting the ire of anyone who hates government spending and oversized government programs. And rightly so, because in a democracy, these things should be discussed and adjusted to make them better serve the people of this nation. But instead, through hard lines adopted by both sides, no one budged. The law was passed and defended in court. It’s been implemented, and like most things this big and sweeping, killing it once it’s been started will be extraordinarily difficult.

The bigger problem, though, is that for such a tech-savvy bunch, they really don’t have a clue about how to really use their resources once in office. I mean, they had a killer database of voters and supporters that really did the work in helping win both elections. And their polls were demonstrably more accurate than anything the media or the GOP managed to come up with. Plus, there were and are people within the administration who are great planners, organizers, and motivators. And somehow, all of that evaporated when they were elected.

They’ve ham-handed the whole healthcare.gov rollout, which should have been a slam-dunk for a crew that practically invented the effective modern campaign website. They’ve botched communications at every turn, which seems odd for a group that proved over and over again that they could masterfully manipulate social media. And to top it off, they’ve taken forever to own up to problems and then work quickly to fix them.

It’s disappointing because I think everyone who supported them during the campaigns knows what the whole team is capable of, and they’ve fallen so far short of that. I mean, the money was there from the start to build a tremendously effective and efficient website for healthcare.gov, but they didn’t. They left it to the usual government contractors who don’t care about anything, except to make sure the check clears.

With the NSA scandals, Benghazi, budget issues, and the like, this administration has, unfortunately, been unresponsive. Given every opportunity to take the offensive and effectively put their message out to the world, they’ve been late, clumsy, unclear, and occasionally evasive, forcing them to clarify things, explain themselves, and seem like no one knows what’s going on. Which is exactly the opposite of the image the group ran on.

Think back to 2008. Obama was a political rising star, but still wasn’t in the minds of many outside of the beltway. Within months, he was building momentum at an amazing rate because his team knew what to say, how to say it, who to say it to, and when to say it. Scandals and questions were quickly dealt with and attention shifted. Problems were fixed promptly and with the proper humility.

When’s the last time that happened in the Obama administration?

Don’t get me wrong: I still support them and their ideals. I just believe that they’ve fallen down during a difficult period in this country’s history and haven’t been as effective as they could have been. And that’s disappointing because they’re capable of so much more.

See you later.

 

So after the election and the resulting apparent near collapse and all of the soul-searching that has gone on within the Republican party, one can find it easy to have forgotten about Karl Rove, the wunderkind who engineered the Bush(2) victories. After all, he was among those identified with the future of the party, and certainly, during those eight years, the future for the party looked quite good.

 

But then the Republicans ran John McCain–a likable enough guy on the surface, but with absolutely no passion or energy–against the highly dynamic and young Barack Obama. The only move that kind of makes sense on the surface is that the GOP match McCain with the lightning rod of Sarah Palin. The end result, though, was that the Democrats found their stride, at least as far as presidential races was concerned: they motivated the undecideds, the young voters, and the supposedly disenfranchised minorities of the nation.

 

But because Obama and the Democrats pushed too hard, the far right conservatives revolted–this probably had been brewing for years under the very moderate Bush–and a large number of the so-called Tea Party candidates won election to congress, intent on changing how things were done. Republicans thought they were strengthened and given the political upper hand.

 

I’d written about it before, but there was an inherent problem in the Tea Party movement: none of them understood that at the national level, you need the party’s backing, you need the political skills and relationships, and you need to work and cooperate with the other 500+ people you find yourself locked in the building with in order to achieve your political vision.

 

In short, it’s easy to be a populist. But it isn’t easy to be a popular or successful politician. You can attract votes by the boatload by playing up to the deep, unsettled anger among your constituents–the Tea Party candidates did it, just as Obama himself did it. And moderates, by the very nature of their need to appeal to a broad base, will never do that. They count on their 30-40% base, and then fight for the remaining percentage to be put over the top.

 

So once it became obvious to conservatives that the Tea Party cost them more than it helped, it’s time to throw them under the bus. Now, months after the election that left Republicans asking “what happened here,” Karl Rove has woken up from his self-induced slumber and has decided that what the party needs is more electable people, not far-right wingnuts who only want to serve one particular cause.

 

Wait, what?

 

Yep. In our representative democracy, Rove has decided that the path to success for conservative ideals rests not in including more viewpoints in the party, but restricting them for the sake of filling the seats in congress with the butts of “the most electable” candidates. Rove wants to basically cut the Tea Party out of the Republican party purely for the sake of winning elections.

 

Now let’s backtrack a bit here to see how the Democrats brought themselves back from the horrors of their own “card-carrying liberal” dark days of the mid ’80s. They learned that the far left-wingers were not attractive to the national electorate, so instead of ostracizing people like Michael Dukakis or Paul Simon or Walter Mondale, they embraced them but asked them to support and follow the party platform, which they happily did because they weren’t necessarily marginalized. They were allowed to speak their beliefs, run for office, and contribute to the party, but they needed to understand that if the liberal agenda was to advance, they needed to cooperate and help the cause.

 

The Tea Party candidates refused to support its own party’s platform, insisting that it didn’t go far enough in many areas, and believing they had the groundswell on their side, while actually they simply had the conservative equivalent of the ’60s hippie protesters on their side–it was a vocal group, but not nearly as large as they thought. So many didn’t get elected in 2012 because they said or did really stupid things that demonstrated just how radical they were, and, this is the cardinal sin, they bucked the party.

 

Not to say I’m really sad about that, but…

 

The Republican ramrod approach should first look to the Democrats in Obama’s first term who blew all of their political capital on jamming through a flawed healthcare bill. So before the conservatives take this opportunity to look at political success merely as being able to overcome the votes of your opponents, you need to consider what happened: the governed of this country don’t like heavy-handed, radical leadership, even if they’re working on a potentially popular issue.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably have to say it again: the path to political success in this country is understanding that the people are not as stupid as they appear to be and not underestimating their ability to make changes at a whim. Which is why, when a politician says something truly stupid, they will usually find themselves out of office after the next election.

 

See November 2012.

 

See you tomorrow.

One fascinating part of watching the election this past year was the absolute bewilderment shown by the Republicans in failing to win as much as they expected…Or failing to win at all. They were clearly flabbergasted by the results and didn’t know what went wrong.

 

The confusion began with the confidence of Romney’s pollsters and internal people who were sure they had margins to win in the key states, then rippled outward as some of the big races in other states fell the wrong way: Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, and the like. So it’s not surprising that these days, some two-plus months after an amazing collapse, that the Republicans are asking themselves some tough questions.

 

And that’s why this article grabbed my attention. The short version, for those who don’t want to read it, is this: the right-wing Independent Women’s Forum held a panel discussion to help figure out what would attract more women to the Republican base, and, more importantly, to vote for their candidates. On the panel were four conservative women who made some interesting points, especially when considering where they’re coming from.

 

In reading the article, you realize quickly that women in the GOP are a strange breed: they exist, there aren’t many, aren’t in high positions, and apparently are not encouraged to make much noise.

 

In short, it becomes very obvious that the party is very much stuck in the old boys’ network, and doesn’t show many signs of wanting to come out of that mold, until they realize that they lost a major election because of it.

 

So there are a couple of good pull quotes that the article used, including this one:

“I’m not sure what’s worse: conservatives ignoring women’s issues, or conservatives addressing them,” Christina Hoff Summers said as the audience laughed.

Which inherently says that conservatives don’t fundamentally understand women’s issues. And that’s really big. And obvious. It seemed that every time Romney tried to appeal to women, he ultimately put his foot in it. And the rest of the party certainly isn’t much better than that. They talk about wanting to appeal to women, but refuse to vote for the equal pay act, and want to limit food stamp spending, most of which now goes to women anyway.

 

But the better quote was this:

Sabrina Schaeffer, the executive director of IWF and a panelist, complained that Republican indifference to women’s issues was a problem she runs into. “I know sometimes when I go into a donor meeting and I see someone’s eyes just glazing over, like, ‘why would I care about women?’”

There we go. Regardless of your political stand, there is no question that no group is more clearly beholden to their donors than the Republicans, many of whom have actually been forced to sign promises not to raise taxes and the like. So a statement like this illustrates the beliefs of the core of the conservative movement, that those who contribute to the party and play a key role in forming the party platform don’t care about women’s issues and see them as unimportant.

 

The problem really seems to be that the conservatives don’t really understand the majority of the electorate. And this has been a repeated theme thrown at both President Bush when he was running and at Romney when he was running: that they’re disconnected from the majority of people in the country. In this forum, the panel pointed out that polling routinely shows that women’s views more frequently align with conservative values, but Republican candidates have historically not reached out to female voters.

 

But toward the end of the article is something I’ve said repeatedly over the last several years about the Republican efforts: they believe that they can run on one or two issues to capture moderates and women, and the fact of the matter is that voters are more complex than that. Women don’t vote entirely based on birth control issues, or just on economic issues. My belief is that they vote on a broader range of issues and more often with more thoughtfulness than I think most men vote on candidates. And in trying to over simplify for women, they’re in fact belittling them and making them feel unimportant and talked down to.

 

Maybe they’ll get it in the next couple of years. I really doubt it, because I don’t see a lot of conservative women, and even fewer who are even remotely electable. And really, the Democrats, thanks to Obama’s machine, have figured out how to attract and appeal to a very wide range of people.

 

See you tomorrow.

On the morning after, people wake up feeling either elated or depressed, or for some, even sick. It’s not a new phenomena after elections, especially big ones, to have some sort of visceral reaction to the results, but what’s surprising to me is that people don’t see the long-term big picture: there have been those who have had the same reactions to elections for years, and the country continues to function and continues to move forward without dissolving into chaos.

 

Every presidential election I can remember has been “the most important of our lives,” and I’m reasonably certain that most before that also had someone attach that weighty tag to it.

 

Carter/Ford in ’76 was important because the country needed to get out from under the cloud of Watergate and the looming energy crisis and economic downturn. Carter/Reagan in ’80 was important because the country needed to choose its path out of recession. Reagan/Mondale in ’84 was important because trickle-down economics and high military spending and the ballooning debt were going to crush future generations. It goes on, and after every one, there’s some group of people, represented by some tearful or angry interviewed supporter who’s sure the country can’t survive four years of whoever had just won.

 

So today, with Facebook filled with either gleeful or morose posts, and interviews on the radio and TV with people, I just want to remind everyone that part of the power of elections is people moving on and accepting what was just voted in by the majority.

 

But it’s too soon for that. The conservative right–which seems today to be very far right and very conservative–is in mourning for the country, which they’re certain has been lost to the immoral left and the gay agenda…Whatever that means. But they won’t listen to reason. Meanwhile, the left is thrilled, relieved and too anxious to try to push an agenda that they need to, at least for a while, back off on.

 

Because there’s that nasty “fiscal cliff” thing coming up fast. Neither side can afford to alienate the other right now.

 

There’s four more years of the status quo coming in the White House. We’ll see how the Congress shakes out in two years, but I’d expect it to continue to move toward the middle again. I think the electorate is tired of the yelling from both sides and wants to get back to the moderate position.

 

Personally, I’m pleased. Minnesotans rejected the extremes in almost all forms, with the only exception being the squeaker of a race between Michelle Bachmann and Jim Graves. On the national level, Republicans were revealed to be what they’ve been for a while–focused on a core group that is no longer representative of America (this is witnessed by the fact that 93% of black voters, and 70-some percent of hispanics, and huge numbers of women backed Democrats). You wonder how they’ll address this while still trying to cling to key parts of their platform.

 

Plenty to do going forward. Now’s the time for a Humphrey-type to emerge and really build a coalition.

 

See you tomorrow.

Ah, election night. It’s always been a big deal, but back in my youth, it was a lot of fun and quite an experience.

 

You see, ages ago, in 1976, actually, my mom, in her deep wisdom, signed me up to help her work at the election headquarters for Minneapolis.

 

Back then, voters used the old style booths to vote in. They had the flip switches next to a printed name card of the candidates. You’d flip the switch for your choice, and the vote would be recorded when you pulled the lever back to open the curtain. Everything would be tabulated on counters on the back of the machines.

 

Then the judges at each precinct would read the counters and put the numbers on a large sheet and add up the numbers for each candidate from all of the precinct’s machines. My dad did this up at Waite Park –Ward 1, Precinct 2. Then those judges would call in the totals to the election headquarters phone room. My mom usually worked the phone room, taking those calls.

 

Those folks would write down the totals on sheets of paper and then would wave them for the runners to take to the tabulation room. They would add up the results as they came in, and at regular intervals, would issue total reports that would then be taken by a runner to the media room where the totals would be put up on the overhead projector.

 

Remember, it was 1976…

 

I took my job as a runner very seriously. It was important. It was vital. For several years, I ran paper from the phone room to the tabulators. But finally in 1980, I got a bigger job: I was a runner for the media room.

 

Those years working as a runner taught me some important things: The process of counting the votes in an election is complicated, even now; that every vote is indeed counted somewhere by someone, and that it takes a lot of people to run an election, so it’s hard to malign the process unless it’s been completely botched.

 

I’d always look over the sheets that I ran from one group to another, quickly trying to memorize who has the lead in what part of the city. And that gave me a valuable insight: there were different places in the political world, and those different places have different political views.

 

Tonight, I’m watching another election. I’m certain there’s no runners involved, but there is a lot going on and it’s still as interesting as ever to see how different places have differing views. It’s still an amazing process. Regardless of whether your people won or lost, you still need to be in awe of the whole procedure.

 

See you tomorrow.

I figure you all could probably check out the pictures to the right if you’re looking for your cat fix. In the meantime, I’ll talk about the incredible ability of politicians to improperly speak their mind.

 

The incredible knack that all politicians have these days of saying stupid things got me to wondering: is this a new pandemic, or has it been a problem for a long time?

 

Now, I’ll grant you that the politicians can’t go five minutes these days without having a microphone or camera recording their every move and statement. But at the same time, they’ve had handlers who’ve performed focus group studies and have honed the candidates’ messages to select words and specific talking points. So certainly, you’d think that one balances out the other.

 

Or does it? Is the human capacity to say what they mean lower than the capacity to say what they should be saying? I’d think that politicians, in stump speeches, town hall meetings, and whatever other appearances they’ve made throughout history would have produced a huge number of gaffes through the years. I mean surely, Abe Lincoln at some point said something that was truly stupid, right? After all, all politicians are human, right?

 

While that means that they’re naturally prone to making mistakes, it also means that politicians should be smart enough to not say the stupid things they say off the cuff. And certainly, you’d think that most of them are pretty smart if they’ve made it so far in their careers that they’re at least in the middle of some campaign that has even a sliver of national media coverage.

 

So could it be that maybe there’s an over-saturation of the media airwaves and internet with politicians and what they say about every issue from  abortion to the economy to what color underwear they wear? And by the same token, could it possibly be the case that there are far too many people aggregating the gaffes and analyzing every individual word they’re saying?

 

Absolutely. But that doesn’t hold them harmless, either. Statements like Romney’s at the fundraiser about the 47% are simply stupid, even if you think you’re speaking to an entirely friendly crowd. Because there are cases where regardless of the individual words used , the actual meaning behind the statements is what’s important.

 

So that means that I think it’s absolutely fair to say that Obama does not have any faith in the role of the wealthy in the economy, and that Romney has none in the working classes. I think it’s absolutely fair to say that Republicans don’t embrace equality and fairness, but at the same time Democrats hold to some of their social beliefs even when some of those beliefs aren’t pragmatic. It’s clear that some Republicans are somehow terrified of various forms of sex and some Democrats don’t understand and are intimidated by religious faith and beliefs.

 

What the problem becomes is that elections are more and more a snapshot of voter sentiment at a specific moment in time, instead of being a statement of policy and direction for the nation as a whole. The rhetoric of political statements by candidates has become oversimplified and more and more voters believe things without knowing why they believe them.

 

For example: Romney and the Republicans will hold fast to their devotion to trickle-down economics without actually explaining how they believe it works. I think if it were actually explained, most people wouldn’t get it. But at the same time, Democrats aren’t explaining why there’s a need for some sort of national health care system, and why more taxes and social programs are necessary.

 

So however the election comes out in two weeks, I’m afraid we’ll continue to have government that is increasingly built on fear and misunderstanding instead of actual ideals and rationale.

 

See you tomorrow.

So yeah, I watched the debate.

 

Well, truth be told, I started watching, but 15 minutes in, I just turned on the radio and listened on NPR. And I think I ended up experiencing the same things talked about with the Nixon-Kennedy debate.

 

For two men who initially looked pretty stiff and measured on TV, they came off  on the radio as extremely well spoken, knowledgeable, intelligent, and honestly committed to the topics they talked about in this debate.

 

Okay, and I listened to it partially because I watched the end of the Twins season…I’ve got my priorities, you know.

 

But the debate…I almost feel dirty for saying that both men sounded good and that if they could carry that tone forward, either might be a good leader.

 

Except that this debate was only on a handful of issues, and we all know the tone ends tomorrow when both are presumably back on the campaign trail.

 

In fact, I think in listening to it, this was the most respectful political discourse this country has seen in over two years.

 

Kinda sad, really.

 

See you tomorrow.

It’s primary night, and I’m not voting. This is for a whole variety of reasons, including there not being one meaningful race in my district where my vote will sway the outcome in any way.

 

But one reason is as follows below: What follows here is a commentary on the whole of politics in this season and several in recent memory at all levels, all the way from president on down to dog catcher.

 

I am tired of both ends of the political spectrum being afraid of the middle and being terrified of the word compromise, let alone the concept. I am very disheartened by the fact that both liberals and conservatives these days dig their heels in and hold to a belief simply because it’s what they believe and don’t offer any substantiation to help convince the other side to work with them and meet in the middle.

 

I hate the religious right and the union liberals and the old line conservatives and the blue dog democrats and the tea partiers and all such named groups because they stand for nothing beyond their own ideals and wrap themselves in what they refer to as patriotism in order to deflect arguments that truthfully claim that they are all have extremely self-service goals.

 

I am angered by the fact that for at least a decade, the country has not moved in any positive direction economically, socially, and politically and has completely failed to provide any kind of substantive leadership to the rest of the world. This lies entirely in the hands of both political parties who fail to truly do what’s good for the entire nation and not just their interest groups and spend endless amounts of time yelling past each other with less and less actual idea sharing and more and more rhetoric and personal attacks.

 

Both sides are now led and made up of a cavalcade of idiots who seem to value nothing more than the sound of their own voices on the news and the sight of their election and PAC account balances growing.

 

During deeply trying times in this nation, our government has managed to come together and form a truly meaningful coalition that has repeatedly found compromise in the face of deep anger, divide and mistrust and has actually acted in the best interest of all people in this nation. We have faced a difficult set of challenges for over a decade now and nothing has been done, either due to inaction by one side or another, or by one side ignoring the protests of the other and passing legislation that serves little purpose than to polarize the country’s discourse.

 

The truth is that both sides are to blame for the fact that this country, supposedly the greatest nation on Earth:

Has far too many people out of work who want to work,

Has a growing divide in status and power and standard of living between the wealthy and the poor,

Has too many people going hungry and homeless every day when there is an abundance of shelter and food,

Has corporations who are more concerned about making their shareholders happy than their customers or employees,

Pays too little in taxes and expects too much from their government,

Worships athletes and actors and socialites as heroes while there are members of the military at war in other parts of the world, policemen defending us, and firefighters protecting and rescuing us, and religious and social organizations and individuals working to actually do good in the world with extremely limited resources,

Has long arguments over how to fund schools and teachers and whether to fund schools and teachers at certain levels to educate our children while having relatively little trouble coming up with money to build $1 billion stadiums,

Can gather in pride around a technical achievement like landing a car-sized rover on Mars, but can’t see or create value in funding more manned missions into space,

Has a population that agrees sacrifices need to be made, but doesn’t want to make sacrifices themselves,

And wants to actually prevent groups of people from being able to do the same thing that everyone else is able to do.

 

Everyone sees the foundation of our society crumbling beneath their feet. But is anyone actually willing to do the work and make the sacrifices necessary to fix the problems?

 

I wish I could answer that positively.

 

See you tomorrow.

There’s a brouhaha going on over who has the right to name an amendment question on the election ballot in this state. The Secretary of State has named them, not surprisingly, in a different way than the legislative supporters of both measures wished. So as a result, they’re pissed, claiming that Mark Ritchie, the Secretary of State, has overstepped his bounds.

 

Yet, in about 30 minutes of searching through Minnesota statutes, I found our answer:

204D.15 PINK BALLOT; FORM; DISTRIBUTION; SAMPLE BALLOT.

Subdivision 1.Titles for constitutional amendments.

The secretary of state shall provide an appropriate title for each question printed on the pink ballot. The title shall be approved by the attorney general, and shall consist of not more than one printed line above the question to which it refers. At the top of the ballot just below the heading, a conspicuous notice shall be printed stating that a voter’s failure to vote on a constitutional amendment has the effect of a negative vote.

 

Ah, so the Secretary of State provides the title and the Attorney General approves it and that’s it. It can’t be more than one line long, and has to let the idiot voters know that if they don’t vote at all on it, it’s a vote against the measure.

 

No mention of the legislature getting the chance to name these puppies.

 

But let’s get to the heart of the issue. Specifically the amendment to define marriage as being between members of the opposite sex only.

 

This one has me baffled, and I’ve been trying to filter through the odd reasoning to figure out why people should support it. So, a point/counterpoint featuring quotes lifted directly from the Minnesota for Marriage website.

 

Point one: why shouldn’t we let everyone get married to whomever they want? Don’t we want to foster more stable family relationships in this society? The response from the other side is odd:

Certainly marriage should only be entered by loving and committed couples but marriage is not simply about recognizing the love and commitment of the adults involved in the relationship. Marriage is primarily about channeling the sexual passion of men and women with its inherent potential for creating children into a stable family unit that provides the best opportunity for any child born of that sexual union to be known by and cared for by her biological mother and father. [emphasis added]

 

So wait. I married Jenni to channel my sexual passion to make kids? Um… At least they recognized it’s about love. Ah. And for philanderers and those who divorce the old models to go after something else, that means they just needed to re-channel their sexual passion to make other kids?

 

Point two: How does this possibly weaken traditional marriage?

Gay marriage won’t exist alongside traditional marriage. Our traditional understanding of marriage will be stripped from the law and will be replaced with this “new” genderless definition of marriage.

But how does that hurt my marriage?

Legal experts on both sides of the issue warn of an “immense volume of litigation” against individuals, small businesses and religious organizations. For example, churches and religious organizations can lose their tax exemptions. They can be forced to either abandon their core moral principles or abandon their social ministry.

Fine, fine. I could get sued because gays could marry. I’m not sure how, but still…How does that harm my marriage?

Individuals, small businesses and groups will be subjected to lawsuits and regulatory action if they refuse to condone the “new” understanding of marriage.

So I’ll get sued if I don’t condone gay marriage? Okay. But how does that hurt my marriage?

Perhaps most profoundly, children at a very young age will be taught in school that marriage is between any two adults, no matter what they have been taught at home, in church or in their ethnic traditions. Under the law, those who believe otherwise will be treated as the legal and moral equivalent of bigots.

Whoa…Let’s back this one up a bit. [First off, you should know these paragraphs were consecutive in their section in "Myths & Facts" arguing against the claim that it won't hurt traditional marriages]. But aren’t we putting the cart before the horse here? There is no law on Minnesota’s books permitting same-sex marriage. But the people supporting this amendment are so terrified of it and so sure that will happen (enacted by “activist judges and politicians,” they note) that we need to lock the possibility away so that it would be more difficult to have happen.

 

But let’s assume that a law is passed that allows gay marriage. Should we really expect that it would have language as is feared here that says that churches have to support these marriages and allow them (I kind of think there’s a little thing called the Bill of Rights that would prohibit that). And is it reasonable to expect that the law would also require the rest of society to respect and, apparently–according to their claims–have to completely alter our behavior and teachings and treatment of everyone because of the recognition of gay marriage?

 

And the jump to concern over what kids are taught in school is interesting. If they don’t want their kids taught that it’s OK for homosexuals to marry, could I then expect similar treatment of my kids, under current law–where I can object to them being taught that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman? If it’s what I believe, doesn’t that entitle me to that?

 

Here’s where their argument completely falls down. This amendment is specifically asking to be exclusionary out of fear. We want to say to the world that it’s so important to our state to not allow a group of people to get married that we’re willing to amend our constitution to deny them the right that everyone else has. A right, I may add, which has had conveyed upon it a special legal, social and economic status for the most part not afforded to homosexual couples.

 

I think it’s paranoid of them to expect that a law allowing same-sex marriage would specifically then turn around and basically say “or else” to the rest of society. I’d be more apt to think it would say that homosexuals can get married, and the marriages must be recognized legally the same way that opposite-sex marriages are. You can’t tell churches that they have to perform the ceremonies. But in conferring the legal rights of marriage, you can tell companies and organizations bound by the law that they are obligated to not discriminate based simply on someone’s sexual preference.

 

Yes, it’s an equal rights issue, plain and simple. Rights that the “religious right” doesn’t want to give to people they don’t agree with.

 

See you tomorrow.

One unfortunate side effect of the internet–or for that matter, any form of human communication–is that people can make statements or claims about another person and it’s pretty likely that someone somewhere will believe it.

 

And you don’t need any proof to do this. You just need to be convincing, or have people who believe as you do listening.

 

Enter Michele Bachmann, the wingnuttiest of wingnuts in the modern conservative movement–so conservative, in fact, that she appear to have lapped the field and is coming around for another pass.

 

She’s been fanning the flames of a Muslim infiltration of the American government for a long time, pushing on with tailwinds like the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, wars in Iran and Afghanistan, and with the support of people around the country, and the tacit acceptance of her own party. She’s lobbed a couple of grenades over the last couple of weeks, apparently without any fear of being called out on it.

 

Yes, lots of people support her, and unfortunately, believe what she’s saying. And up until last week, she had the support of her party.

 

To be fair, others have pieced together nonsense, innuendo, falsehoods, and shreds of unrelated “evidence” for years to pin charges against politicians. And those people tend to do it for a variety of reasons: they’re delusional, hungry for media attention, or actually have the incredible ability to put this stuff out there with a straight face while still not alienating half of their electorate.

 

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that she actually believes this, and if she can believe it, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are tens of thousands of people out there who believe the same thing.

 

There were a couple of stories I’ve read that talked to a few of her strong supporters, and one said that they just couldn’t believe that she’d make something like this up. Another is so sure there’s a widespread Islamic infiltration of our government (including by the President–a Christian, I may add), that he fully believes her without question.

 

But that doesn’t make it any less mind-boggling.

 

Let’s take the Keith Ellison accusations: whether or not he has “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood or not (whatever the term “ties” means in that case), that doesn’t imply influence or even similar beliefs. But even if it did mean that, say, he was a member of the organization, and fully embraced their beliefs, wouldn’t he be working to overthrow the government? Wouldn’t he be working harder to get more Muslim Brotherhood members elected to congress? Because regardless of what anyone believes, our system is set up to be extremely hard to topple.

 

Sure, the Muslim Brotherhood has worked to overthrow Muslim and Coptic Christian leadership in Egypt, and has even stated after the Arab Spring uprising and replacement of the Egyptian government that they will not allow female or Coptic candidates for President. But they said they’d allow both in the government. And yes, they’ve taught Islam to people across Egypt and the middle east, but they’ve also built schools and established a large network of charitable organizations across the region.

 

In fact, even a former member of the Knesset has declared the Muslim Brotherhood more Arab and Egyptian than fundamental. And it has also been pointed out that while they’re passionate about their belief that “Islam is the answer,” they’re also not fanatics, and have been accused by Al-Qaida of being too weak on issues.

 

But remember that they pushed for a democratic system in Egypt, and spawned similar movements that have washed across the region displacing despots of several, horrible colors.

 

But here’s the thing that finally dawned on me today: they’re a religious movement which has a large political arm. In a sense, they’re very similar to the Tea Party and fundamentalist movements, which want a return to a fundamental Christian basis for governance and the law in this country.

 

It’s terrifying that it’s not just a fringe of the country who actually believe as Bachmann does about things like this. It’s scary that they cling to information sources that stay in the shadows and never can be fully proven. And where’s the proof that there is substantial support? She would have been censured by now by her own party if they’d really wanted to shut her up.

 

And just to finish up the thought, it’s despicable and dishonorable of her to have turned down all requests to comment on her accusations. Ellison has been elected through the same process she was. He took the same oath of office that she has. He has earned his title of Congressman just as much as she has. As such, there’s a professional decorum that belongs here, and at the very least, she owes him a public apology or an explanation of her charge.

 

That’s just the polite and Christian–and Islamic–thing to do, right?

 

See you tomorrow.

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