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Tag Archives: Republicans

One Person’s Extremist is Another’s Moderate

I’d like to take a moment to talk about the political divide that exists in America today. It is a topic I have thought about a lot over the years. It is a thing that keeps getting worse. It is a thing that I see every single day because I read a couple of liberal blogs and a couple of conservative blogs every single day. What I see are two sides of the same coin of clueless, mind-numbing hypocrisy and closed-mindedness.

The latest evidence of this … An op-ed from Leonard Pitts. I don’t necessarily disagree with Pitts’ primary thesis which is that the Republican Party has achieved maximum meltdown. The thing is that it really started when Bill Clinton was elected President. The accusations that the Clintons participated in drug smuggling, killed Vince Foster and Ron Brown among others, and so many other ridiculous conspiracies. All of which still make regular appearances in the right-wing blogosphere. The meltdown continued with the Swift Boaters and other similar conspiracies that failed the basic test of reality and honesty.

Obama’s election sent the Republican Party even deeper into what appears to be a brain freeze like the kind you get when you eat something cold too fast. And Trump’s election has only accelerated the thing.

Do any of you remember this?

This was from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner a few years back. Obama took no small pleasure in poking fun at Trump and watch the video for Trump’s reaction. I’m convinced that we are seeing the most successful act of petty revenge the world has ever seen. Trump ran to destroy the Obama legacy. You see it in his petty tweets attacking anybody who attacks him. He does not let any slight go. He holds a grudge and he seeks to destroy. You see it in all of the things he has done to take whatever action he can to reverse any and every success Obama achieved as President.

And the Republicans are ignoring all of his immaturity, damaging actions and words, and evidence of his incompetence to further their extremist objective of rolling this country backwards about 70 or 80 years.

So, yes Mr. Pitts, the Republican Party has descended into a realm of unimaginable extremism, but for a portion of this country, the Democrats aren’t far behind.

In your op-ed you state the following:

We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism.

No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats.

I say this as a lifelong Democrat, a liberal, somewhat of a progressive. I say this as somebody who hasn’t voted for a Republican since the 1980s. Your center-based policies, isolated by your liberal ivory tower views, are viewed as extremist by millions of Americans. Having the federal government force states and local governments to allow transgender or gender-confused individuals to use the bathroom of their choice is an act of extremism. No matter how much you may believe that is a necessary policy. Providing a free public college education for all may just be viewed as an act of extremism by many Americans. No matter how much you may believe it is a wise idea.

The problem in America these days is that both sides have descended into their own echo chambers and are incapable of seeing their ideas and policies through the eyes of others. They are unwilling to consider that anybody but their chambermates have legitimate ideas. The right believes every liberal lies and hates America. The left believes the right is racist and prone to violence. Each side believes that the other is the extremist.

Mr. Pitts’ op-ed is a perfect example of the problem from the left. Look at all the horrible things the Republican Party is now engaged in! They are juvenile and unhinged and horrible!! Whew, it’s a good thing us Democrats are so reasonable and level-headed.

It’s really just kind of ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. Neither side is entirely right, but they both think they are. Neither side is entirely wrong, but they both think the other is.

Barry Goldwater once famously said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” He’s right, I think. What the right-wing and left-wing have become, however, are extremists in the battle for every little thing. The result is a frozen democracy incapable of moving forward as any common ground disappears in the endless war they fight with each other.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump & Syria & America

For eight years, I watched a political party come apart at its seams as its members sought to oppose and criticize everything said or done by a President.  As bad as it was from the leadership ranks of that party, it was even worse in the fever swamp of blogs inhabiting that party’s side of the political debate.

If you are a Democrat or a liberal or a progressive, imagine all of the worst things you think about President Trump and Republicans — they lie, they manipulate, they don’t care about America, they’re in the Russians’ pockets, etc. — and all of that was being said about President Obama and Democrats for the eight years of Obama’s Presidency.  Relentless and endless and no quarter given.  The Republican Party was taken over entirely by its right wing fanatics who refused to give an inch and who treated every single thing Obama did as an act of war on America.

I refuse to be that kind of Democrat or liberal.  As much as I cannot stand Trump and his policies and his way of doing things.  As much as I may think he is utterly unprepared and unqualified for the position he now holds.  As much as I fear what he will do to this country, and hell, what he already is doing.  As much as all of that.  I will support him when I think he is right.  Lockstep opposition from our side of the debate is no better than the lockstep opposition Obama faced during his eight years.

At least for one moment, I agree with Trump’s strike on the Syrian airfield following the latest use of chemical weapons by Assad against his people.  Yes, there are all sorts of reasons to question the legitimacy or rationale of the attack.  Maybe he’s doing it to distract from the whole Russia thing.  Maybe not.  Maybe the attack is a meaningless gesture.  Maybe not.  Maybe it is a signal that we are going to be drawn into a greater role and ultimately go back to war in the Middle East.  Maybe not.

All I know, is that for at least that one moment, we did something to signal to Assad that his butchery and treachery has gone too far.  Here is what I wrote on FB the other evening:

This may come as a shock to my friends here on FB, but I applaud President Trump for his statement tonight and his measured action in response to the most recent chemical attack in Syria. There is a lot to be critical of the man, but I also think we should be honest where he gets something right. Or at least as right as it can be. Syria is a mess. But there comes a point when responsible nations have to do something about the horror a government inflicts on its own people. I worry that we’ll get sucked into something that will only be worse. I worry about this particular President’s ability to stay rational and measured. But right now, I feel like he did the right thing. Limited, measured, and relevant. His short statement tonight included some elements I have problems with, but it may well have been the most Presidential thing he has done.

25 years ago I silently screamed for the world to do something about the slaughter going on in the former Yugoslavia. When we finally did, we actually ended the slaughter. That’s what needs to be done now in Syria. It’s what needed to be done a few years ago. It’s a horrible, difficult situation. I waver between my isolationist tendencies and desire that America no longer be the world’s policeman and the recognition that we have such immense power to put a stop to these types of things. I don’t want American lives to be lost. I don’t want any lives to be lost. I tire of paying the price of the world’s wars. But some things just may be worth the cost. The tragedy unfolding in Syria may be one of those times when it is time for us to bear a cost.

 

If we are unwilling to do something about the particular evil that Assad represents, then we are a failure as far as I’m concerned.  There are plenty of risks at play here, but when it comes to evil, sometimes you have to take a risk.

I will continue to keep an open mind and question everything Trump says and does, but when he gets something right, which I believe he did here, I refuse to do what the Republicans did to Obama.  I will not be that kind of Democrat.

 

 

My Final Word

Over on the right-wing blog I read far too much of, there is much crowing and celebrating.  There is a post that suggests that the Republican Party is the American Party now because it not only controls the Presidency and both houses of Congress, but the majority of Statehouses and State Legislatures across the country.

I pointed out the Republican Presidential candidate has received more votes than the Democrat candidate exactly one time since 1988 and that there is no American Party.  And that believing the Republican Party is the American Party is the kind of arrogant thinking that leads the American people to switch gears every few years.  This happens each and every time the Presidency changes parties.

And it is that arrogance that helped defeat the Dems this year.

I think back eight years to when Obama was elected.  He was described as a cautious man.  He would not seek a revolution or dramatic, instant change.  Instead, he believed in incremental change and the long game.  Small steps won gradually would lead to more systemic changes over the long run.  Large leaps forward ran the risk of a revolt against liberal and progressive ideals.

It’s hard to imagine this now but candidate Obama and newly elected President Obama was not publicly in support of same sex marriage.  He did not immediately seek the passage of universal health care and when he did, he ultimately put his weight behind a plan that was Republican before it was his.  There are plenty of other examples of his incremental approach to policy and it was something I appreciated about him.  He was the only adult in the room, recognizing that, for the most part, the American people are not as liberal as us liberals want to believe and neither are they as conservative as the right would like to believe.  Long-term success at making changes that are long-lasting and real rather than flash-in-the-pan tinkering that is turned back with the next election required long-term thinking, and building the foundation.

Only something happened in Obama’s second term.  I thought he saw the end of his Presidency and realized all of that long-term thinking was nice and all but where was the guarantee that any of this would continue beyond his term.  I think he sped things up and got a little arrogant about the idea that the American electorate had changed in some fundamental way.

On foreign policy, he took a softer approach and tried to get other countries to lead some of these efforts.  Not a bad thing, from my perspective, but anathema to the right and some portions of the middle.

On domestic affairs, we went from a very real battle over same sex marriage to suddenly allowing transgender soldiers to openly serve, to forcing transgender bathroom policies on the States from the federal government, and progressives began squawking about free college education for all, and presenting a list of other things that were necessary and right.  I’m not here saying any of this is bad.  I support just about all of on some level but they are anathema to the right and some portions of the middle.

But we liberals and progressives lost sight of some fundamental truths of the American people.  The fundamental truths that haven’t changed in my adult life time.  There are a whole lot of people in this country who don’t want moral behavior pushed on them by the federal government.  Regardless of the “rightness” of the issue, these things need to percolate for a time to achieve permanence.  Think about how long same sex marriage took to achieve.  And it was an effort that really began at the state level — yes, primarily in the more liberal states, but still … at the state level.

Compare that to the whole transgender issue.  Something I don’t recall hearing a lot about until after same sex marriage success was achieved and then all of a sudden, bam, transgender this and transgender that and within a very short time, the federal government was trying to force rules on the States.  This may not be a big deal in your blue bubble, but it is a huge deal in the red swaths of America that absolutely cannot stand that kind of federal supremacy and arrogance.

I really think that liberals and progressives began to believe in the inevitability of “progress” towards their agenda, their version of America.  That America had become a liberal nation, that the Democrat Party had become the American Party.  That a new day had dawned and this tide was going to keep coming in.

Well, we were all wrong.  All completely wrong.  We are still a very, deeply divided nation.  We lost sight of that in the progress made during Obama and thought it inevitable that it could continue for another four or eight years and maybe even more.  Deeply divided.  There is no American Party.  There are only red states and blue states.  The parties are regional and demographic in nature, but neither one of them is national in scope or followers.

The good news?  Republicans are already taking the crown of arrogance for themselves.  Whether it is two or four years from now, if they continue to act with the arrogance they are showing so far, the tide will turn again.  My only hope is that when the inevitable happens, we on the left remember this lesson and accept the long-term view and don’t push for radical change.

Being a Doctor Does Not Equal Qualified to Be President

When asked in last night’s debate what he thought of President Obama’s recent decision to put a few special ops forces on the ground in Syria, here was Ben Carson’s response in full:

Well, putting the special ops people in there is better than not having them there, because they — that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there. And what we have to recognize is that Putin is trying to really spread his influence throughout the Middle East. This is going to be his base. And we have to oppose him there in an effective way.

We also must recognize that it’s a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there. What we’ve been doing so far is very ineffective, but we can’t give up ground right there. But we have to look at this on a much more global scale. We’re talking about global jihadists. And their desire is to destroy us and to destroy our way of life. So we have to be saying, how do we make them look like losers? Because that’s the way that they’re able to gather a lot of influence.

And I think in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate. And you look for the easiest place to do that? It would be in Iraq. And if — outside of Anbar in Iraq, there’s a big energy field. Take that from them. Take all of that land from them. We could do that, I believe, fairly easily, I’ve learned from talking to several generals, and then you move on from there.

I love that last part … he’s talked to several generals.  So, in an area in which he clearly has absolutely no experience and no knowledge, because he’s talked to a few generals, he knows how to wipe ISIS out and he thinks it would be fairly easy.  Notice, of course, that he doesn’t say how he would actually do it.  By the way, apparently, the Chinese aren’t in Syria, but Carson thinks they are.

It’s just stunning.

A Daily Show Classic

No introduction needed …

Let me conclude it, however, with this observation … it all looks like an SNL skit gone bad.  One wonders if they realize just how much of a caricature all of them have become.  I mean … Who Diddley?!?!?!?!?!

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