Caught up in the Outer Appearances and Personalities of Politicians

man with horeshoe magnet

I decided before I go off with my family on a fun-filled, scenic-enticing, relaxing vacation, I’d throw out a political blog post that may or may not cause some friction with friends and never-before-readers to my blog.

What a way to embrace more followers, right?

Well, no.

I know this, but after reading so much of what’s going on in the political arena and the world, I’m feeling the need to get some things off my chest. And this is the place for a blogger to share her opinions, thoughts, and heart, so here I go.

Where to start…

Okay, first I’ll start with where I stand on world issues, domestically and globally. I look at the world through a pro-life lens. This means, everything involving Life and the importance of it is how I gauge who I select to vote for.

Having this Life worldview is very difficult because no politician running now or in the past has ever checked off all of the pro-life issues that are vital to me, which are:

  • Anti-abortion — with the exception of danger to the mother’s life being lost  (This subject is too vast and involved to get into in this bullet list)
  • Anti-war – war is a very last resort and only through defending our country, which none of the wars in this century or since WWII have been about this.
  • Anti-death penalty/capital punishment — there’s always a chance to change and transform as a human being. Killing the person takes that chance away. There are also false convictions of innocent people who end up executed.
  • Pro-environmental concerns/helping to clean up the environment and save lives–human, animal, and plant/forest–God’s creation
  • Pro-criminal justice reform – treat people in prison as human beings because they are human beings, and adopt the German’s reconciliation prison system (if you’re not sure what that is, check out an excellent TED Talk video on it here)
  • Pro-immigration reform with humane treatment of people coming through our borders
  • Anti-euthanasia for humans. Medications to help ease their pain is okay. I’m not for the Jack Kevorkian-style euthanasia. (This issue is much grayer than a simple bullet point, for which I won’t be getting into in this particular post)

There are no candidates who are all pro-life in the way I understand the meaning of the word. So, I look to candidates who embrace the most Life issues out of my list. Otherwise, I’d never vote.

Okay. I hope you now have at least a glimmer of understanding where I’m coming from.

Onto people voting for politicians who are likable and seem like good men and women. They are approachable, seem to know what they’re talking about, and they smile a lot.

Sometimes those candidates are the most dangerous.

Why?

Well, because we get caught up in their appearances, what they say on the campaign trail or townhall, but tend to forget to dig deeper and look at what they’ve truly done via policies, via their voting record, and where and with whom they’ve drunk cocktails while fundraising or giving speeches while on the campaign trail.

Taking a step back in reviewing my bullet points…unfortunately, there are no Republicans I could ever vote for because they do not check off many of my Life issues in their political resumes. So, I’ve had to look at the Democratic politicians.

Just an FYI. From age 18-40, I was a staunch conservative Republican and voted only Republican every election.

Since 2009, I’ve been an independent (unaffiliated voter is what it actually says on my voting card).

I’ve now held both conservative and liberal mindsets throughout my life. I’ve seen things from both points of view from my own personal upbringing, social class, etc.

With that info shared, I think both the Republican and Democratic Parties are bought off by wealthy donors.  There are a few exceptions within those parties that are not bought off, and I respect them for that. They actually choose to advocate and be the voice for their constituents in their districts/areas. In this day and age, I have to say, how refreshing. But really…that’s how it should be, how it used to be decades before…before the passing of Citizen’s United, for one thing.

Now, I’m going to give an example of two politicians whose appearance and likable personalities have overshadowed the negative and horrible policies they’ve enacted or supported.

Mind you, I think these guys seem like decent men, but some of their policies or the policies they supported through voting for them, take away massive points on their “likability” for me. Because policies and principles are more important than appearances and “charisma”.

Actually, I’m going to give three examples so that I throw in a Republican as well to make my examples more egalitarian in nature.

Although I could go on and on about the corruption of the Clintons, they ARE NOT the examples I’m using in this post.

Here are the three men I am going to discuss rather briefly:

Marco Rubio

Barack Obama

Joe Biden

I’m starting with Marco Rubio because 1) He’s the easiest to rattle off first, and 2) I liked his personality and appearance in the 2016 Republican primary debates. He’s clean cut, good looking, smart, has the statesman look…

Then I looked into his foreign policy. He tends to congregate with warmongers and should clip “WARMONGER” on his name tag at political functions.

The last news piece I saw on Rubio was several months ago, and it was appalling. He was threatening the Venezuelan leader using the heinous rape-and-murder-of-Qaddafi-style regime change (picture included) in one of his tweets. No matter what we think of Qaddafi, what was done to him was horrible.

To check up on him, I went to his Twitter page a few minutes ago and read through his most recent tweets in the past few weeks. His tweets parrot the Military/Intelligence/National Security Industrial Complex/War Profiteers, Wall Street, and Big Oil–the majority of the wealthy donors that have bought off our politicians.

To my beliefs and sensibilities, Rubio has little to show for the list of Life issues in my bullet list.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be on board for clean, healthy green energy.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be diplomatic and strive for peace with other countries in the world whether they are adversaries or allies.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would have a more humane approach toward people languishing and forgotten in our for-profit prisons, people addicted to drugs, and people desperately looking for a better life in America.

Let’s move on to Barack Obama.

Great guy, Obama, right? As president, he presented himself with dignity and class. He appears to be a loving husband and doting and good father.

Some things Obama did were good, like including the US in the Paris Climate Agreement. Like joining in the Iran Nuclear Deal.

And then there were really, really BAD things Obama signed off on or wrote an executive order for, such as:

–Bailing out the bankers and allowing the average citizens to suffer, losing a lot of their savings, and for many, their homes. Predatory lenders and fraudulent people in the banking industry didn’t spend a day in jail. In fact, many CEOs of these big banks, when they left their positions received huge bonuses. NOT GOOD. Bad, criminal behavior should never be rewarded.

–Going after whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea), Tom Drake, John Kiriakou, and others, with a vengeance.

–Signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012. Here’s an excerpt from the Huffington Post to give you an idea why this was dangerous and shouldn’t have passed as it was:

In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with relatively little attention from the media―despite the freedoms it obliterated. The NDAA was enacted to empower the U.S. military to fight the war on terror. But buried in this law are two provisions (Sections 1021 and 1022) that authorize the indefinite military detention, without charge or trial, of any person labeled a “belligerent”―including an American citizen.

These NDAA provisions (which have been re-approved by Congress and signed by President Obama every year since 2012) override habeas corpus―the essence of our justice system. Habeas corpus is the vital legal procedure that prevents the government from detaining you indefinitely without showing just cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a writ of habeas corpus, you must be promptly brought before a judge or into court, where lawful grounds must be shown for your detention or you must be released.

Under Section 1021, however, anyone who has committed a “belligerent act,” can be detained indefinitely, without charges or trial, as a “suspected terrorist.” This is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and our Bill or Rights. In The Federalist No. 84, Alexander Hamilton stressed the importance of the writ of habeas corpus to protect against “the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”

 

–NSA surveillance of the public’s private phone calls and the like was another thing that was continued full force under Obama. We wouldn’t have known about this without Snowden’s revealing these classified documents for the public. It was both a courageous and selfless act because he had to make the right, ethnical decision to expose this abuse (that’s what whistleblowers do–report waste, fraud, or abuse by our government) by our government’s agency knowing he’d lose his good-paying job, risk perilous government backlash, and probably never see his family and friends again on American soil. Fearing for your life because of giving the public the dark, underhanded actions of an agency of your government isn’t for a person’s fifteen minutes of fame. It takes integrity and honesty to do such a thing.

–Social moral issues regarding the safety of women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms.

-Although he signed DACA that allowed for immigrant children born in the US. to stay in the country, he also deported more than 2.8 million illegal immigrants in his time in office. This is more than any other president before him.

–He oversaw our arming terrorists in Syria and selling arms to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. Yes, this started under Obama’s presidency.

–The complete destruction of Libya and nearly Syria. The toppling of the democratically-elected leader in Honduras that caused horrible violence there.

–He didn’t close Guantanamo or bring all our troops home from Afghanistan like he said he would when running for president.

With these blotches on Obama’s eight years as president, I find it very hard to look at him and just see a nice family man and good president.

But I also realize the position of the president is tough.

Nevertheless, Obama carried on the foreign policy of Bush (another man who appeared nice, especially his wife) almost completely, and he also extended Bush’s tax cuts.

Obama was right in an interview years ago before he was president when he said if he were running in the 1980s, he’d be considered a moderate republican. I can certainly see that.

Then again, those behind the scenes–the Deep State–Military/Intel/National Security Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma, etc.–own our officials, whether in the White House or Congress. You’ll notice this most overtly in our foreign policy that has continued its same destructive actions for decades and through different presidencies.

You will get nothing different with Biden. What makes him not a good choice for president is that he voted for the TPP, drafted the 1994 crime bill, voted for the Iraq War, drafted the foundation of the Patriot Act in 1995, and voted for the bank bailouts.

What we need is money out of politics first and foremost so our voices are heard and our elected officials do the wishes of the working people, those in need and the vast majority of our society.

And we must bring back the pendulum that has swung so far right, the Republicans have dropped off the cliff and the Democratic Party has taken the place of the moderate Republicans–by bringing back regulations on the banking and business industries, overturning Citizens United, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and bringing back solid social safety nets.

We deserve better people representing us than any of the people we’ve had this century.

We need REAL CHANGE.

This isn’t the 1960s anymore. The days of making it on your own, pulling yourself up by your boot straps has passed.

We’re heading toward an automated society, as well as AI (artificial intelligence), where many other jobs will be lost.

We’re behind on the minimum wage. It hasn’t risen in ten years.

With the loss of jobs, skyrocketing prices for food, housing, medical insurance, and prescription drugs, it’s the late 1920s again, and we need someone like FDR to bring about the new social programs for this time and era:

  • Medicare for all single-payer healthcare
  • Free pubic college
  • Green energy replacing fossil fuel
  • A raise in the minimum wage to a living wage
  • Wealthy corporations and people paying what they owe in taxes, instead of getting tax breaks where people like Jeff Bezos pay $0.00 in Federal income tax. This is criminal and immoral. Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism (aka, survival of the fittest) for everyone else isn’t a society in which people can thrive.
  • Cut the Defense budget by at least 40%

 

**Just to name a few

 

Maybe I’ll write on the healthcare issue in a future blog post if I don’t get skewered for my thoughts shared in this post. But honestly sharing one’s thoughts in a respectful manner should always be respected and appreciated, no matter if one agrees with the person or not. And you’re definitely free to disagree with what I said. Each person lives by the light and path in which he/she is given.

 

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Finding Connection in a World of Division

ships on storm sea

(painted by Ludolf Backhuysen)

It’s been a chaotic and busy past few weeks, and it has left me absent from my blogging. I apologize to my followers that I’ve been MIA. I’ve been steadily working through my Advanced Creative Writing course assignments, for which two weeks are left. It’s hard to believe I’ll be done with college after this class!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been bombarded by the insanity going on in our world, in our country (USA for me), through news stories and the comments/responses from them. I see divisions in just about every realm possible, and it’s distressing. Story headlines that are hyperbolic, or just plain false on both the left and the right. The lack of respectful discourse anywhere in the cyber world and in many cases, the real world/in person, is also distressing.

People on the right calling people on the left “commies” and “libtards.”  People on the left calling people on the right “fascists” and “nazis.” When somebody disagrees with someone in a comments section of anything from a youtube news video to an online news article, the person disagreeing with the person tells them to go kill themselves. Really? It’s shocking and horrible someone could say that to another human being.

Our society has turned into the loud voices of extremism and insanity, especially on social media. The social media megaphone is saturated with bombastic verbiage, dehumanizing each other, devouring our fellow human beings. It’s disgusting.

Heaven forbid you agree with something some politician said from one party, because then you’re branded a member of the opposition party as if you’re their enemy, even though you’re not with any party.

Our political parties and its members are like sororities/fraternities or football teams and their fans. ANATHEMA TO YOU if you agree with even an iota of what a member of the enemy team may express. Heaven forbid you think for yourself and don’t jump on the bandwagon and follow the masses in agreeing or disagreeing with whatever sorry sap is burning in the spotlight for that week.

Because I’ve watched and seen this, the truth is, there are some issues on which both the classic conservatives and classic liberals agree. Same with the neoliberals and neoconservatives. But they continue to act as if they have nothing in common and are enemies. This is a falsehood encouraged by the corporate media and extremists out there.

It’s really important to have standards and be consistent. If one side does something crappy, call them out. If another side does something along the same veins of crappy, call them out. Be big enough to admit your fellow political member said something that wasn’t accurate, or that you might *gasp* not totally agree with. Be big enough to agree with someone who is usually in opposition to your beliefs but says something that you *gasp* actually agree with. Stand for consistent principles, not hypocrisy.

Why are we aiding enemies like Saudi Arabia and Al Quaeda? What are we fighting for? An ideology? Or is it about money/greed/profit, resources, power? As a pro-lifer, I read and researched this issue, and it’s something I care about.

Nobody asks WHY. Why did they attack that group of people? Why are they on drugs? Why are suicides up? Why aren’t they learning about other people’s cultures instead of blowing up their countries? Why do we have an increase in terrorism? Why do we think it’s “normal” for college boys to sexually assault women? Why is this embedded in our culture? Why have men and women become even more divided than ever before? Why don’t we learn from our mistakes?

As you can see, a lot has been on my mind in between my course work and writing. I ask myself questions when I make a decision or come to an opinion on something. I ask why I think this way. What made me come to this conclusion? What’s the culture or social status in which I live and grew up? Should I think this way? I’m far from perfect. Quite the opposite. I just try to live my life keeping balanced and not going from one end of the spectrum to the other end.

I ask that we work on seeing each other as people first, people made in His Image, people equal to us in God’s eyes. That we are not each other’s enemies. We don’t agree with anyone one hundred percent, and that would be boring anyway. We disagree with our family and friends on at least some issues, but that shouldn’t bar us from loving them and seeing the value of our relationships and mutual humanity over a political or religious issue that we may disagree with.

When will we be able to sit down and discuss any topic in a respectful manner without misinterpreting and coming in with preconceived ideas through our own political or worldview mindset, responding bitterly with talking points, the company line, etc.? In this tumultuous, enflamed society, it’s very hard.

Will we ever get back to that lost art of respectful discourse, or is it gone forever?

 

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Has the Battle Over Confederate Monuments Caused More Division or Just Exposed What Already Exists?

removal of Lee statue

 

In continuing the matter of the removal of Confederate monuments, there were more comments from my friends who participated in my interviewing process that couldn’t be squeezed into my previous blog that should and needs to be shared. Following this, I’d like to ponder the effects of the removal of these monuments on us Americans.

To start out, Tony, who does not favor the removal of all the Confederate monuments, states, “I think if we try and erase the story of a people, we discredit both the good and the bad that came from the culture.” He then added, “I think this is largely a battle between extremists on both ends of the political spectrum and that if this objective is achieved, it will not be the end of anything. It will likely serve to further polarize our political discourse and fail to bring about healing and growth.”

Candice echoed Tony’s response, saying, “Extremists on both sides are pushing triggers all over the place. The media is feeding the extremism, and people are pushed more and more to take a stance.”

Concerned over more divisions, Kelly says, “I hate what is going on. It really saddens me. This is a problem that we all are experiencing and not because I am white or I am black. It’s we as a people, and only we can stop it.”

Tim’s comments on the issue of removing the monuments were similar to Tony’s, saying, “It is all part of our story as Americans, good, bad, and ugly. We should own all of it.”

Concetta sees the removal of monuments as opening a pandora’s box in causing further strife, remarking, “Unfortunately, you can’t erase history. If you begin, where do you stop?” and proceeded to mention Washington and other Founding Fathers who owned slaves.

washington owned slaves

In contrast, Tina illustrated her position by saying, “I think our country’s ‘life’ is much like our own. We all have a past that we hopefully grow and learn from – evolve. And with each passing day, we kind of connect the dots. On our own journey, we fall and get back up over and over again, but sometimes, years later, we’ll be stumbling with something…something emotional, etc., and we realize it’s this floating piece from the past that we thought we sorted out, but here it is. So we sit with it, face it, fix it, and move forward. To me, that’s what these statues are. We’ve had a long journey with bigotry in the country, and we’ve come a long way, but we still have things to unpack to get to the place of resolve.”

Lee also sees the removal of the monuments as a progressive step in the direction of eliminating bigotry and racism, saying, “Here in Phoenix, our mayor, Greg Stanton, has been working to change the names of several streets, such as Squaw Valley Road, Robert E. Lee Street, etc. It’s all part of the same drive to be sensitive to other cultures and stop the racial slurs and bigotry of the past. Monuments are in the same category.”

Looking at this issue and our history, Gabriel says, “We were a nation built upon theft, white supremacy, and idolatry, so our unwillingness to wrestle with our history keeps us repeating the same mistakes since we do not address our foundations never being made about seeing all ethnic groups as equal.  It is connected to the history of things like ‘The Doctrine of Discovery,’ which other religious groups brought over to the Americas long before the Puritans, and it has also manifested itself in regards to other parts of history.  We have multiple groups still feeling the impact of colonialism and eradication of their culture, like the American Indians, and to address what we have done would go against the myth of our culture being about U.S. exceptionalism and being a nation never for harm in the ways that we say other nations are.”

These responses show two sides on how to resolve this issue:

  1. In order for us to heal, we must press forward, not backwards, and not cause more divisions that are drummed up by the fringes of our society.
  2. In order to heal, we must face our past, expose the wrongs done by the people before us, and make tangible steps to right those wrongs.

How do we reconcile our different visions on this to reach a middle ground that unites us all?

As Confederate monuments throughout the country have and are beginning to come down and are moved to a museum or in a holding place until the cities’ authorities decide what to do with them, new Confederate monuments are rising up in Georgia and Alabama.

In Georgia, resident John Culpepper, founder of the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, unveiled a statue back in 2007 of a Confederate soldier that sits in the Chickamauga battlefield. He plans to continue preserving these and other such memorabilia that he believes are part of his heritage. He is upset with both the KKK and those people calling for the ejection of monuments across America that have vandalized them. He believes both groups have and are doing damage to his Southern heritage (Grinberg).

new conf monument at chikamauga park

In Crenshaw County, Alabama, a new monument has been erected and placed in the Confederate Veterans Memorial Park that owner David Coggins says is for remembering those who fought and lost their lives in the Civil War. He believes all of our forefathers should be remembered, including the Southern ones (WVTM 13).

In my previous blog, I wrote my opinions rather generally on the removal of these monuments. To clarify what I said in support of the removal of the monuments, I meant ones proven to be produced by white supremacists, and I don’t think Confederate monuments belong at state government buildings. It is my belief that Confederate monuments in military parks/battlefields, cemeteries, and, of course, museums belong there.

Incidentally, I do wonder why statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are/were in New York’s Bronx Community College’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans. Why would a Northern state have statues of Generals Lee and Jackson, and especially in one of their community college’s “Hall of Fame for Great Americans” (Suerth)? I did extensive studying of the Civil War in my late teens and early to mid twenties, and from what I read at that time, Lee in particular garnered the respect of both Northern and Southern officers during the war. However, I don’t think this acknowledgement spread to the Northern civilians. In any case, the men that established the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at Bronx Community College included Lee (and later Jackson) in their choices of great Americans, along with Franklin and Lincoln. Maybe it was out of an effort for reconciliation in the beginning, as there was pressure years later from groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy to add Jackson.  Nevertheless, The busts of both Lee and Jackson are being removed from the community college’s Hall of Fame.  Furthermore, it’s interesting to note that statues of General Lee and seven other well-known men from the Confederacy are present in the U.S. Capitol. What will be done with those statues?

Perhaps the collaborative efforts of local cities’ citizenry and museums will bring about a fair outcome to this contentious issue. There’s always hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.

peace dove gold

 

Works Cited

Ginberg, Emanuella. “New Confederate monuments are going up and these are the people behind them.” CNN.com, 23 August 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/new-confederate-monuments/index.html

Bowery Boys. “Robert E. Lee in the Hall of Fame? There were concerns even back in 1900.” Boweryboyshistory.com, 17 August 2017. http://www.boweryboyshistory.com/2017/08/robert-e-lee-hall-fame-concerns-even-back-1900.html

Ford, Matt. “The Statues of Unliberty.” The Atlantic.  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/confederate-statues-congress/536760/

**The original article from NBC News on the statues in the U.S. Capitol has been taken down.

Suerth, Jessica. “Here are the Confederate memorials that will be removed after Charlottesville.” CNN.com, 23 August 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/15/us/confederate-memorial-removal-us-trnd/index.html

WVTM 13. “New Confederate monuments going up in Crenshaw County, Alabama.” WVTM13.com, 23 August 2017. http://www.wvtm13.com/article/new-confederate-monument-going-up-in-crenshaw-county-alabama/12065990

All interviews were conducted via PM and/or email August 19-23, 2017.