Sunday, March 25, 2012

Politicizing A Tragedy

I've written many posts which highlight the ridiculous things that the Republican presidential candidates are willing to say in order to cast President Obama in the worst possible light.

However, when it comes to using a tragedy such as the killing of Trayvon Martin for political gain, this is absolutely disgraceful.

In his first public comments about the incident, President Obama said that "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon". Obama proceeded to say that we are going to get to the bottom of this case, and talked about how this affected him on a personal level, saying "...when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids...".

What I heard was a heartfelt statement from the President, who I am sure during his life has had occasion to worry about just such events happening which involve his daughters.

Apparently, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum heard differently.

An article on The Huffington Post contains a quote from Newt Gingrich, responding to the President's comments during a Hannity Radio interview. Gingrich began with "What the president said, in a sense, is disgraceful. It’s not a question of who that young man looked like," and also said "Is the president suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot, that would be OK because it didn’t look like him. That’s just nonsense dividing this country up... Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling."

Rick Santorum accused the President of "politicizing" the death of Trayvon Martin, and of "us[ing] these types of horrible and tragic individual cases to try to drive a wedge in America".

To any sensible person, these comments by Gingrich and Santorum are a reprehensible attempt to use Obama's message to the parents of Trayvon Martin to drive a wedge between President Obama and potential voters, not the other way around. It seems clear that Obama was merely attempting to inject a bit of a personal touch into his message. If he was trying to instigate a race war in the U.S. or condone the killing of white teenagers, then I certainly don't see it.

The Republican candidates have said many things that are ridiculous or flat-out untrue during this campaign... but this is something that these two should really be ashamed of.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why The Right Thinks The Main Stream Media Is Biased

Sometimes it's nice to be able to sum something up into a nice little package, in just a sentence or two.

Why do those on the right think the MSM is biased? I think much of the main stream is pretty fair (with the obvious exceptions of places like Fox News and MSNBC). It's just that it is those on the right, Republicans, religious extremists, etc, that tend to say more ridiculous and newsworthy things than anyone else.

You want the media to stop focusing on you? Stop saying and doing crazy things.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A New Low In Parroting

We've all heard the ridiculous accusations: "Obama is a Muslim", "Obama is a socialist/communist", etc.

I guess I was just being optimistic when I assumed that there couldn't possibly be that many people that believed this nonsense.

poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows that 52% of likely GOP primary voters in Mississippi think that President Obama is a Muslim, while 45% in Alabama feel the same way. It's one thing that conservatives spew this sort of garbage... but the fact that people believe it is very worrying. Sure, you don't have to like Obama. But dislike him for valid reasons, not because of some popular sensational lies. It seems like Americans are getting more and more gullible, which concerns me for the future of this country.

Maybe I shouldn't take the result of that question too seriously, though. Over 20% of those polled in both states think interracial marriage should be illegal, and a whopping 60% or more in both states do not believe in evolution. Viewed through this lens, the fact that these people think Obama is Muslim is not only not surprising, but practically expected.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hate Masquerading As Religion

This is something most people know about, but media attention lately has made me feel like talking about it.

It is positively sickening what passes for "religion" nowadays. Now, I am not religious at all, but I respect the rights of others to believe in whatever stories they want to. The funny thing is, they want me to respect their right to be religious; however, in turn, the frequently do not respect my right to believe and live as I choose. All too often does outright hatred get a free pass in the guise of "religion".

I've recently become aware of a group called One Million Moms, and they disgust me. One of their most recent campaigns has been a failed effort to remove Ellen DeGeneres as the spokesperson of JCPenney. Because, apparently, even having a gay person on television is toxic to our youth. I hate to say it, but if your child becomes gay just because Ellen was on television, then... it was going to happen anyway.

I looked over the group's website (which I will not link to here, under protest). They call themselves a conservative religious group, but all I see is rampant homophobia. Groups like this which associate themselves to the Republican party are constantly voicing the opinion that government should not interfere in their lives; however, they are only too happy to support anything the government can do to take rights away from gays. I'm sure they would also support taking rights away from anyone who doesn't agree with them, such as atheists. Maybe an "atheists can't marry" bill or something.

The ability to voice such extreme hate towards certain groups while protected under the blanket of religious freedom is ridiculous. I wonder how they would feel if an anti-Christian "religious" group popped up and started harassing them the same way. Of course, most gays, atheists, or other groups that are targeted by them are far too ethical to sink to the same level. So it would probably never happen. It's a shame... I would love to see how they would react to a taste of their own medicine.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Left vs Right: Maher And Limbaugh Edition

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It's always amusing to watch politicians and political figures go after each other. Without failure, extreme hypocrisy is demonstrated... and what's more humorous than pointing out hypocrisy?

I'm sure that, by now, everyone has heard about the whole Rush Limbaugh issue. Actually... I probably need to be more specific. After Georgetown student Sarah Fluke testified to Congress (or part of Congress...) about contraception, Mr. Limbaugh referred to her as a "slut", among other things. His logic being that her support for insurance provided contraception is tantamount to wanting to be paid to have sex.

Many on the right are crying "double standard", citing Bill Maher's treatment of such conservative women as Sarah Palin; see, for example, this video, and others like it:

To be clear, I don't think such language has any place in politics, whether it comes from the left or the right. However, this doesn't excuse what Rush did. Rush has apologized, which I suppose must be taken for what it is. But as much as some from the left continue to pursue Rush over this issue, just as many from the right won't let it die. They are using Rush's gaffe to go after Maher and Democrats, claiming that this is just a way for liberals to try to silence Limbaugh.

I'm sure some will see this as bias, but I will say that I do find a difference between the two incidents. Maher's comments, while not really acceptable (though one could argue that, as a comedian doing a comedic act, he can say whatever he wants), aren't really on the same level as what Rush did. There is a difference between name calling and mudslinging, and complete character assassination and embarrassment for no reason. It's the difference between me calling some guy a "jerk", or spending days trying to convince anyone who will listen that he cheats on his wife given absolutely no evidence of such. If Rush had just said he doesn't like Ms. Fluke or he doesn't agree with her, or even called her a one-off derogatory name or two, I think that would have been on Maher's level. I think three days (see, for example, this article on The Daily Beast) of referring to someone as a prostitute is another step up (or down, as the case may be).

Next, I want to mention the calls for President Obama to return Maher's million dollar donation to his super PAC. The logic being, I suppose, that someone who has ever used foul language should not be allowed to donate to a political campaign. I think that Obama should return the money as soon as the right agrees to take Limbaugh off the air permanently. The right certainly is entitled to make as big of an issue as they want about Maher's donation, but I don't think using rude language should disqualify anyone from making donations. If it's okay for Rush to say the things he does in an effort to influence politics, then it's okay for Maher to influence politics through donations.

To close, I have a personal observation about this whole mess. It's astonishing how both sides can defend their own while condemning the other side for doing more or less the same exact thing. This is nothing new, and certainly isn't limited to Limbaugh and Maher. That doesn't stop it from still being amusing, though.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Free Speech In The Military, And Double Standards

I started thinking about this after reading this article on Yahoo!.

Basically, we have Marine Sgt. Gary Stein making a Facebook post saying that he "wouldn't follow unlawful orders" from the President. Actually, according to the article, the original post said that he would not follow orders from Obama at all, but was later edited to include only "unlawful" ones.

Now, I have no problem with refusing to follow illegal orders. In fact, I believe that's required of anyone in the military... which hardly makes it worth a Facebook post. That would be like me going on Facebook and posting "today, I'm not going to rob a bank". Well... yes, that's fantastic, and I'm sure everyone could agree with that stance. But since I would not be expected to rob a bank anyway, it would be quite odd for me to emphasize that fact.

I do have a couple of issues with this, however. I believe this post is more than just a statement that he wants to follow the Constitution; it seems to be intended to stir up bad feelings for the President. If we suddenly have troops who stop doing as ordered just because they don't like the President, that is obviously a huge problem. The military is no place for political activism. President Obama is the Commander In Chief, which basically makes him the big boss of the military. If it bothers a solider to the point where they don't feel they can follow orders, they should resign. Good people can lose their lives if this sort of thing starts really spreading.

The other, more political issue, is the huge double standard. When President Bush was sending us into Iraq, anyone (especially Democrat/liberal) who voiced dissent was immediately called out, and in many cases called names such as "terrorist". This article from 2006 contains such gems as "the concern is Bush will succeed in the battle against terrorism and relegate liberalism to the dustbin of history" and "No one is worried about declaring war on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda except Liberal Democrats. They are playing Russian Roulette with our lives". Implying that liberals would rather see America destroyed than see Bush succeed. Which is interesting, because that seems to be precisely how Republicans are behaving today with respect to President Obama. Better to let America die than let Obama claim any sort of victory.

Brendan Nyhan has a website with a very nice list of such statements. One quote from Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking about liberals questioning provisions in the Patriot Act: " those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists...".

Double standards like this abound in politics, and it is both annoying and humorous. Just another example of the Republican motto: "We support the Constitution and free speech... as long as your speech is pro-Republican."