Jason Palmer – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 14 Nov 2018 14:35:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-DewLogoSquare825-32x32.png Jason Palmer – LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com 32 32 Gun Rights Advocates Turn to Intimidation http://likethedew.com/2013/11/12/gun-rights-advocates-turn-intimidation/ http://likethedew.com/2013/11/12/gun-rights-advocates-turn-intimidation/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 19:33:36 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=53712 NYT: "A small meeting of a group seeking tougher gun laws was interrupted Saturday at a suburban Dallas restaurant when the woman who helped organize it saw something outside that startled her: at least two dozen men and women in the parking lot with shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s...]]>

Everything is indeed bigger in Texas, and now that slogan can also apply to moronic public displays of intimidation. The New York Times reported today on an armed protest outside a suburban restaurant this past weekend.

From NYT:

A small meeting of a group seeking tougher gun laws was interrupted Saturday at a suburban Dallas restaurant when the woman who helped organize it saw something outside that startled her: at least two dozen men and women in the parking lot with shotguns, hunting rifles, AR-15s and AK-47s.

The scene unfolded near AT&T Stadium in the suburb of Arlington about 30 minutes after three women associated with the local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America met inside the Blue Mesa Grill.

“I was terrified,” said the woman who helped coordinate the meeting and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she said she feared for her safety. “They didn’t want to talk. They wanted to display force.”

The armed group of men, women and children was made up of members of a gun rights organization called Open Carry Texas, and they stayed in the parking lot about 10 or 15 minutes to protest the Moms Demand Action meeting and then left.

Many enthusiastic defenders of the second amendment, certainly not all, may be able to rationalize the idea of a peaceful armed protest, but those are exactly the kind of people whose militia credentials need to be far more “well-regulated.” For proof, just look at the picture from the protest below.

gun idiots

I will avoid extensive commentary regarding the low-hanging fruit (i.e. the ape-like display of physical posturing by the gentleman(?) in the red t-shirt) because there is something far more concerning about this band of misfits. Note the downward direction in which at least three of the rifle muzzles are pointing in the photo. One gun even seems to be pointing directly at another member’s leg. Now, I am no gun expert, so I did some quick research regarding the proper way to carry a rifle or shotgun with a shoulder strap. Every source I could find, including this one from the state of Texas, clearly states that the muzzle of the gun should be pointed in a “safe direction.” All the pictures and diagrams available also depict the muzzle pointing up when the carrier is utilizing a shoulder strap.

There may be times when the “safe direction” to point a rifle is muzzle down, namely when there are people above—think urban environments with nearby high-rise buildings. However, in the parking lot of a suburban restaurant, where there are no tall buildings and where the concrete surface below would fragment and ricochet a misfired bullet, the safest direction to point a shoulder-strapped firearm is clearly upwards.

This may seem like a small point of contention, but the disregard in which some gun owners wield their weapons is indicative of a lack of respect for the weapons themselves and the people around them. This selfish disrespect epitomizes people who value individual rights over the welfare of the community—including the safety and welfare of children, who appear just feet away in the photo.

Among this particular crowd, the ugly cynic inside me would not typically have an issue with the principles of Darwinism playing out to semi-tragic ends, but the children standing a few feet away deserve better. And more generally, all Americans deserve better protection from people who, being bereft of civilized tools like persuasive discourse and logic, are forced to resort to threatening and irresponsible displays of force.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/11/12/gun-rights-advocates-turn-intimidation/feed/ 1
A Model of Compromise Detested by the Uncompromising http://likethedew.com/2013/10/09/a-model-of-compromise-detested-by-the-uncompromising/ http://likethedew.com/2013/10/09/a-model-of-compromise-detested-by-the-uncompromising/#respond Wed, 09 Oct 2013 19:28:24 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=53415

GRAVITEAAs the government shutdown drags on and America creeps ever closer to yet another economic catastrophe, it is important to clarify a few things about the sole focus of House Republicans’ full-scale obstruction. Most realize that the government shutdown is a direct result of a desperate effort to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, but it is worth explaining exactly what it is that extremist Republicans are trying to stop.

When the ACA was developed, Democrats knew that the liberal ideal of a single-payer (i.e. government controlled) health care system similar to those in Europe or Canada would not receive the political support from Republicans that was necessary for passage. Despite the fact that the single-payer systems in developed countries have been measurably cheaper and deliver better outcomes than America’s pre-ACA system, then-candidate Obama and his team decided to move ahead with a pragmatic plan instead of a politically hopeless idyllic proposal to win votes.

In order for health care reform to work, Obama’s strategists knew that it would need to draw on conservative philosophy, namely the unquestionable righteousness of the capitalist free market. Instead of restricting Americans’ choice when it came to their health care insurers, the Affordable Care Act would have to allow consumers to enter into a free market where competition would theoretically drive down costs. This was not a problem; Massachusetts’ plan had already done something similar under a Republican Governor, and it was proving to be successful.

An even more critical component to the success of the Affordable Care Act was the reality that it wouldn’t work at all unless everyone in the country participated by purchasing health insurance. (This is the same reason group plans offered by employers have always been cheaper than private individual plans; there is strength in numbers when it comes to purchasing power—especially with insurance.) Fortunately for Obama, conservative ideology had long valued individual responsibility. Since not carrying health insurance is irresponsible—because the high costs of emergency care are ultimately passed on to responsible people with insurance—conservative Republicans would have to agree with what would be known as the individual mandate. And in fact, they had been in agreement for years.

The most prominent conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, issued a report supporting the individual mandate in 1989. After that, a number of Republican politicians supported the individual mandate as an alternative to Clinton’s health care reform efforts in 1993. So the individual mandate should not have been a problem politically. And let’s not forget, Massachusetts’ plan had already done the exact same thing under a Republican Governor, and it was proving to be successful.

When the Affordable Care Act made it to Congress following Obama’s inaugural election, it was not exactly rammed down the country’s throat as many Republicans like to say. In fact, after many debates and committee hearings, “more than 160 Republican amendments were accepted” to the bill. The entirety of the Affordable Care Act was then passed by majority votes in both the Senate and the House. It is true that the bill had been created in the Senate via a controversial tactic which Republicans still denounce as illegitimate, but that aspect of legitimacy was never formally challenged, as it is without merit. The individual mandate was formally challenged and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Now Republican members of an extremist faction have shutdown the entirety of the federal government (a government in which they don’t believe anyway) all in the name of defunding, delaying, and repealing the President’s signature achievement. An achievement they claim is unaffordable despite its self-funding nature. An achievement they claim is “as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850” despite the fact it is disproportionately supported by black Americans. An achievement they claim is uncompromising tyranny despite the law’s lynchpins of Republican ideology.

It is painfully clear that certain members of today’s Republican Party wouldn’t be able to compromise even if someone did it for them, which happens to be exactly what President Obama did when he and his staff created the Affordable Care Act.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/10/09/a-model-of-compromise-detested-by-the-uncompromising/feed/ 0
A Brief Open Letter to Vladimir Putin http://likethedew.com/2013/09/13/a-brief-open-letter-to-vladimir-putin/ http://likethedew.com/2013/09/13/a-brief-open-letter-to-vladimir-putin/#respond Fri, 13 Sep 2013 20:04:04 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=53131 op-ed in The New York Times yesterday, and your decision to push your message through America’s most widely read news source still baffles me. I can only assume you were attempting to reach the American people. But why? Americans do not support military action in Syria in the first place. Do you even read The New York Times?]]>

Dear Mr. Putin:

Pooter2w
Vladimir Putin being manly (RIA Novostil)

I read your op-ed in The New York Times yesterday, and your decision to push your message through America’s most widely read news source still baffles me. I can only assume you were attempting to reach the American people. But why? Americans do not support military action in Syria in the first place. Do you even read The New York Times?

I know you are not familiar with the whole freedom of the press thing or freedom of speech thing, but plenty of Americans have already taken the liberty to express their disagreements with the president. Now, I know what you’re thinking: How is Obama going to silence all those dissenters? Is Alaska big enough and cold enough for that kind of prison population? Fortunately, these are not issues President Obama has to deal with. Instead, he was able to defer to congress to save face and appease the dissenters, thanks to what we call a constitutional separation of powers.

So if the American people already agreed with your general premise that America should not blow up some stuff in Syria (and thereby make the seat of your partner in crime warcrime a little hotter), what was the op-ed all about?

It must have been some kind of PR stunt to improve your image in the states. I know you don’t have to do much pandering in Russia—as the threat of Siberian work camps has worked so well for you in maintaining public “support” — but your attempts to win over Americans could use a little work. For instance, you fell a bit flat when you started talking about how the use of force proves to be “ineffective and pointless.” You see, the Times and other media outlets in America keep us informed of how effective the use of force has been for you, so while Americans do seem to have a penchant for the likes of pervert politicians and corrupt officials, we don’t take quite as kindly to outright hypocrites and liars.

If it is American approval you are seeking, you should also refrain from telling Americans they aren’t exceptional. We just aren’t used to that. Frankly, it made some of us cry. We give trophies just for participation in youth sports and no child gets left behind when it comes to academics. We are special; everybody else tells us so.

If you want some Western admiration, you need to start being more Western. You have certainly seen some Holywood movies, right? Here is a tip: the big strong serious guys in the movies who beat up on nicer, weaker people are not the crowd favorites. Try a more Forrest Gump-like or Supermanish approach. And if humility and protecting the innocent don’t work well for you, perhaps you could just try smiling more—or once.

Good luck, Vlad!

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/09/13/a-brief-open-letter-to-vladimir-putin/feed/ 0
No College Left Behind? http://likethedew.com/2013/09/03/no-college-left-behind/ http://likethedew.com/2013/09/03/no-college-left-behind/#respond Tue, 03 Sep 2013 18:12:13 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=53034 thoughtful piece last week on the connection between the runaway costs of medical care and college tuition. He argues that since these are two goods that people need so badly, there is very little leverage for the consumer and, therefore, no pressing reason for colleges and health care providers to curtail the rapid increase of costs. Klein also sees a similarity in how the Obama administration plans on making the two industries more accessible to all Americans, namely by moving both from pay-for-service models to pay-for-performance models.]]>

Ezra Klein from the Washington Post wrote a thoughtful piece last week on the connection between the runaway costs of medical care and college tuition. He argues that since these are two goods that people need so badly, there is very little leverage for the consumer and, therefore, no pressing reason for colleges and health care providers to curtail the rapid increase of costs.

Klein also sees a similarity in how the Obama administration plans on making the two industries more accessible to all Americans, namely by moving both from pay-for-service models to pay-for-performance models. Instead of health care providers receiving government subsidies based on the volume of services they provide, the ACA plans to issue subsidies based on the quality of those services. Likewise, Obama wants to change federal funding for colleges from a long-standing model where colleges receive government money based on enrollment to a formula where schools receive money based on quality measurements like graduation rates instead.

The pay-for-performance model for medical care seems like a logical way to discourage unnecessary (and pricey) tests and unproven treatments that have been a driving force behind ballooning medical bills. However, for higher education, the pay-for-performance model isn’t just potentially disastrous; it is guaranteed to wreak havoc on the two-year colleges that Obama champions.

Perhaps President Obama and his Secretary of Education have already forgotten about the ugly consequences of George Bush’s signature education reform. No Child Left Behind is a reform, by the way, that the Obama administration has effectively dismantled based on the damage the law did to schools and students that couldn’t meet its impossible requirements.

For those not intimately familiar with NCLB, the law required schools to improve standardized test scores and graduation rates each year in order to maintain levels of funding tied to student enrollment. In theory, it wasn’t a bad set of ideas, but in practice the law did far more harm than good. Schools focused excessive energy on test preparation for struggling students at the expense average and above average students who could already meet the minimum required scores. The focus on testing also meant far less time for teaching critical thinking and communication skills. Additionally, since graduation/promotion rates factored so heavily into the AYP formula by which schools were measured, teachers were “encouraged” to ensure that their students passed. This inevitably led to a lowering and complete abandonment of educational and ethical standards, allowing even the most unprepared students to matriculate.

It is worth mentioning that NCLB also negatively impacted post-secondary education, albeit indirectly, as colleges and universities became tasked with remediating the children who were indeed left behind. Currently, many states are experiencing a remediation crisis, with up to 40% of incoming college freshman needing remedial math and English classes because they were not adequately prepared by their NCLB-era public schools.

p080913ps-0514
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It is inexplicable that Obama is now touting a program for higher education that incorporates the same tragic strategy that compromised NCLB, especially after his administration did away with that strategy in K12 education.  Nevertheless, an emphasis on completion rates at colleges is set to be a key component of Obama’s college improvement plan, and it will trigger an unfortunate series of causes and effects.

First of all, large four-year colleges and universities will simply become more selective. By weeding out students that need remediation and discontinuing remedial classes (which is already happening) in favor of what college presidents vaguely call offering “additional support,” these bigger schools will rid themselves of the students who statistically do not graduate (or graduate on time) at high rates. These at-risk students will then shift to smaller two-year and community colleges which have generous open admissions policies.

Because of open admissions policies, most two-year colleges already struggle with “on-time” graduation rates. With high percentages of unprepared students (in need of remediation) and part-time, non-traditional students who work to support families, it is ridiculous to hold two-year colleges accountable for on-time graduation rates. Yet this is a key part of what Obama is proposing.

According to Obama’s new scorecard for colleges, two-year schools can certainly earn points for their lower tuition costs, but if these same schools are penalized for on-time completion rates well beyond their control, one of two things will happen. Either these colleges will follow the example set by K12 public schools and lower their standards in order to artificially inflate completion rates and maintain funding, or they will maintain academic standards and lose federal funding, forcing them to raise tuition rates. Either way, America loses, be it a less rigorous two-year college system or a less affordable one.

Supporters of the president’s plan may say that it is not an either/or proposition. They will say that schools can keep their funding if they just do a better job of graduating students. Just remember, NCLB proponents said the same exact thing.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/09/03/no-college-left-behind/feed/ 0
Wall Street Journal: Better Never Than Late http://likethedew.com/2013/08/26/wall-street-journal-better-never-than-late/ http://likethedew.com/2013/08/26/wall-street-journal-better-never-than-late/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 20:22:07 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=52965 “Economists fret that stagnant wages are hampering growth in the U.S. as consumers, the biggest driver of the economy, are reluctant to spend more unless their pay grows. Workers think they can’t push for raises because they feel they have limited bargaining power.”]]>

Water in Ben's faceAlthough it is years late to the party, the Wall Street Journal is finally acknowledging the negative impact that low wages have on the American economy, albeit in a twisted, delusional manner. A front page graph from Monday’s WSJ shows the decline in employee wages since 2010. The caption underneath the graph reads:

“Economists fret that stagnant wages are hampering growth in the U.S. as consumers, the biggest driver of the economy, are reluctant to spend more unless their pay grows. Workers think they can’t push for raises because they feel they have limited bargaining power.”

I would congratulate the WSJ for its willingness to accept a long standing reality, but the folks at America’s only reputable conservative news outlet still seem so intent on infecting the country with toxic ideology that they are far more deserving of rebuke.

Take the idea that “consumers are reluctant to spend more unless their pay grows.” There is quite a difference between “reluctant” and completely incapable. Consumers are only “reluctant” to spend when they have money to spend in the first place.  Considering “today’s minimum wage of $7.25 buys less than the minimum wage did through all of the 1960s, 1970s and much of the 1980s,” what money does the WSJ think America’s working class is reluctant to spend. The truth is that wage earning Americans are spending every penny they make and more. The average American household carries over $15,000 of consumer debt. Wage earners aren’t reluctant to spend; they are broke. They aren’t waiting for the returns on their investments to improve; they are waiting for their next insufficient paycheck so they can pay last month’s rent.

By suggesting that wage earners are reluctant to spend money, rather than incapable, the Wall Street Journal is blaming the poor economy on the imaginary stinginess of the working class rather than the measurable stinginess of the folks in control of setting wages. Of course the folks in charge of determining wages are the same oblivious folks who read the WSJ and gladly accept those kinds of patronizing falsehoods as journalism.

The Journal’s deception doesn’t end with blaming people for not spending money they don’t have. By suggesting that “Workers think they can’t push for raises because they feel they have limited bargaining power,” the newspaper editors are missing two obvious-to-the-99% realities. First, some workers are pushing for better wages.  Maybe the CEO’s of America’s biggest fast food chains were too busy dining on filets and caviar to notice, but minimum wage fast food workers in New York city and other cities have been mobilizing and striking for the past year. A national strike is scheduled for this week. So the notion that workers think they cannot push for better wages is not even close to true. Beyond that, the WSJ doesn’t seem to fathom the reality that any minimum wage earners who don’t chose to strike are most likely staying quiet because they need every hour of wages they can get. Indigent burger flippers might want to take the day off to strike, but they also want to eat and feed their families.

The Wall Street Journal’s evasion from reality is over. The jig is up. Just as liberal economists and politicians have been saying for years, wages need to rise in order for the economy to do well. But instead of fully accepting that the sky is blue and the grass is green, the editors at the journal are in full spin mode, attempting to distort the blatant truth that shatters the avaricious logic defining so many of its conservative-minded readers. It is sad, and the halfwits running that newspaper would probably do less damage if they just went back to sticking their fingers in their ears and pretending millions of minimum wage earners are just waiting for the right time to buy that new car and flat screen TV.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/08/26/wall-street-journal-better-never-than-late/feed/ 1
Now it’s Zimmerman who is defenseless http://likethedew.com/2013/06/25/now-its-zimmerman-who-is-defenseless/ http://likethedew.com/2013/06/25/now-its-zimmerman-who-is-defenseless/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 20:06:53 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=51940 opening statements yesterday in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin. After prosecutors characterized Zimmerman as a “grown man with a gun,” in contrast to the unarmed Martin, the defense issued what may be one of the weakest rebuttals in the history of high profile court cases:
“Trayvon Martin armed himself with a sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head.”
]]>

coletoon-floridaLawyers gave opening statements yesterday in the trial of George Zimmerman, the Florida man accused of murdering teenager Trayvon Martin. After prosecutors characterized Zimmerman as a “grown man with a gun,” in contrast to the unarmed Martin, the defense issued what may be one of the weakest rebuttals in the history of high profile court cases:

“Trayvon Martin armed himself with a sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman’s head.”

Really? Armed himself with a sidewalk? Did the defense team actually write that, practice reciting it, and verbally ejaculate that nonsense in front of a real jury?

Before yesterday, George Zimmerman’s chances of acquittal were excellent. Proving reasonable doubt to just one out of 6 people in a case with no eyewitness is a slam dunk. But after his lawyer painted the absurd image in the jurors’ minds of a scrawny teenage boy “arming” himself with a sidewalk, the chances of a guilty verdict rest squarely on the (in)competence of the defense. A defense, mind you, that allowed for an all female jury.

A good friend of mine who teaches psychology explained to me how the all female jury benefits the prosecution. She told me that women are generally more apt to let emotion guide their decisions, and since “REASON-able doubt” is all the defense needs [reason being the opposite of emotion] the defense would have been much better off with an all male jury or a jury with at least one member less biologically inclined to pathos.

Despite the poor defense team, I doubt justice will be served in this case. I do not usually have strong opinions regarding highly publicized murder trials. If I wasn’t at the scene to see a crime, I don’t feel like I have the right to an opinion, but this case is different. The accused does not deny pulling the trigger, nor can he deny the facts that disprove his claim to self defense.

Now, like every person in the courtroom, save the accused, I was not a witness to the killing of Trayvon Martin, but an indisputable fact of this case (as detailed in the 911 call) shows that Zimmerman initiated the tragic events that transpired.

After seeing what he believed to be a suspicious looking person running away, George Zimmerman exited his vehicle to follow that individual. In most parts of planet Earth, this is commonly referred to as chasing, even hunting or stalking — something the 911 dispatcher explicitly told Zimmerman he should not do. One of the individuals may have indeed been in fear for his life at this point, but it wasn’t the hunter. Zimmerman verifies that he and Martin made eye contact just before the teenager started running away. It is not much of an inductive leap to conclude who was scared at this point. After all, there is no good reason to be afraid of someone running away from you.

Perhaps the justified homicide defense that Zimmerman relies on could be viable–if Zimmerman felt his life was in danger before he began pursuing Martin, or maybe if Zimmerman believed Martin was fleeing en route to harm someone else.  But so far no facts or statements (even from Zimmerman himself) indicate that either of these options were the case. The self defense story does not start until after Zimmerman pursues Martin, and it is therefore completely illogical—as completely illogical as someone arming himself with a sidewalk.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/06/25/now-its-zimmerman-who-is-defenseless/feed/ 7
The Declining Anti-Obama Argument http://likethedew.com/2013/06/04/the-declining-anti-obama-argument/ http://likethedew.com/2013/06/04/the-declining-anti-obama-argument/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 19:38:58 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=51431 Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes makes some accurate observations. The assessment that Obama’s administration is flailing due to the lack of a defined vision for his second term is fair. Indeed, the Obama re-election campaign never shifted away from an anti-Romney message long enough to establish any sort of primary goal for moving America boldly in one direction or another. Barnes also concedes that the “scandals” currently making headlines have little to do with the President himself or the ineffectiveness of his six-month-old second term.]]>

Caricature of President Obama by DonkeyHoteyIn his critique of Barack Obama’s “declining presidency” yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Fred Barnes makes some accurate observations. The assessment that Obama’s administration is flailing due to the lack of a defined vision for his second term is fair. Indeed, the Obama re-election campaign never shifted away from an anti-Romney message long enough to establish any sort of primary goal for moving America boldly in one direction or another. Barnes also concedes that the “scandals” currently making headlines have little to do with the President himself or the ineffectiveness of his six-month-old second term. Yet beyond those two fair and balanced points made by the Fox News pundit, Barnes’ analysis devolves into a flimsy, subjective argument that is both misleading and ignorant of some major political truths—some of which would even advance the anti-Obama agenda he so clearly supports.

The most egregious offense by Barnes is his declaration that Obama has been “too liberal to find common ground with Republicans.” Barnes does little to initially support this claim with specific policy-based evidence; instead, he uses the President’s alleged inability “to mask his contempt for Republicans” as proof that the President is not willing to compromise. This reliance on an intimate knowledge of how Barack Obama, the man, personally feels about conservatives is not exactly the strong empirical evidence on which winning arguments are typically based.

To his credit, Barnes does eventually attempt to cite Obama’s unwillingness to compromise with references to two key policies, but an objective look at either of those policies does more to define President Obama as an uncompromising conservative than a far-left liberal. The masterful spin jobs that Republicans put on the passage of ACA and the extension of the Bush tax cuts just may be destined to become known as two of the modern wonders of the political world.

Consider the basic fundamentals of political philosophy. A true liberal-socialist agenda would never approve the extension of massive tax cuts for 98% of the population. A true liberal-socialist agenda wouldn’t approve of tax cuts at all. Still somehow, with their political glasses 98% full of vintage Bush ‘43, Republicans and pundits like Fred Barnes accuse President Obama of failing to compromise. There is certainly room to criticize Obama regarding the one-sided “deal” he struck, but that criticism has no logical connection to the right side of the political spectrum. Barnes may be technically correct that Obama didn’t compromise on the Bush tax cuts, but only because 98% for one side does not meet anyone’s definition of compromise.

As for the signature legislation of Obama’s first term, the Affordable Care Act, Barnes writes that “By failing to ensure that the GOP had some influence on the health-care law, the president gave them no reason to support its implementation.” There is no way Fred Barnes is stupid enough to believe this. The key component of the ACA, the individual mandate, wasan idea first proposed by America’s leading conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, and that same component was later proposed legislatively by a group of REPUBLICAN congressmen in 1993. The GOP not only “had some influence” on the law, they birthed it. Barnes loses all credibility with this futile attempt to entitle himself to his own facts. He knows as well as anyone that the idea of universal coverage by individual mandate only became toxic to conservatives when (and because) Obama chose to adopt it.

It is a shame that Fred Barnes is either incapable or unwilling to make a stronger case against Obama the President, because a strong case can easily be made. Obama failed to close Guantanamo and regulate Wall Street as he promised in his initial campaign. Broken promises are fair game for criticism, and those were some big important promises. A foreign policy of “drone now, answer questions never” is also a disgrace to the office of the President. But you will rarely see this kind of evidence-based criticism from the right. Why not? Because Republicans are just as culpable as the President in these particular matters.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked the closing of Guantanamo, attempted to weaken Dodd-Frank, and supported military action (i.e. drone strikes) to sustain the military industrial complex they represent so fervently. This leaves right-leaning political observers with an interesting paradox: they can be anti-Obama, but they can no longer be anti-Obama and conservative at the same time, at least not legitimately. Fred Barnes and many others might continue to critique the President without mentioning Obama’s broken campaign promises that Republicans ensure stay broken. They may also choose to develop their assessments of Obama without acknowledging the violations of human rights that are now inherent with the Commander in Chief’s military action, but arguments from conservatives that cite illustrations of Obama executing conservative ideology are asinine.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/06/04/the-declining-anti-obama-argument/feed/ 2
A Terrorist by Any Other Name… http://likethedew.com/2013/04/19/a-terrorist-by-any-other-name/ http://likethedew.com/2013/04/19/a-terrorist-by-any-other-name/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 16:40:51 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=50596

labelsIn 2011 a deranged terrorist overseas used a car bomb to kill eight people before proceeding to kill an additional 69 with a gun. He was not a Muslim. And while the media reported the man was a fundamentalist Christian, absolutely nothing about this individual’s demented world view resembled the predominant themes of New Testament ideology. Nevertheless, such identifiers as Christian extremist, Christian fundamentalist, and anti-Muslim Christian extremist were repeatedly woven into news reports and commentary regarding one of the most heinous acts of terrorism ever.

It is important to note that the perpetrator (name intentionally omitted) of the aforementioned terrorist act in Oslo, Norway claimed to be “100 percent Christian,” and it is just as important to note that other self-proclaimed Christians, such as Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, denounced the man’s faith, saying, “No one believing in Jesus commits mass murder.”

For the record, as a Christian, I agree with Bill O’Reilly’s assessment. O’Reilly clearly believes that perverted Christianity is not Christianity, and he is right. There are no such things as “Christian extremists” or “Christian terrorists.” Those are contradictory monikers; there are simply extremists and terrorists who falsely claim to be Christian.

So why are terrorists from the Middle East accepted by Western society as Islamic? There seems to be a hazardous double standard applied when the religion is no longer Judeo-Christian and skin pigmentation shifts a few shades darker than that of Bill O’Reilly.

I will grant that the terms “Islamism” and the related “Islamist” are generally accepted as referring to a specific brand of Islam that promotes violent jihad, but just because something becomes generally accepted doesn’t make it accurate or righteous. Labeling blacks in America with the n-word was generally accepted into the twentieth century.  The term Islamism was not bequeathed graciously to extremists by mainstream Muslims. Instead, the term Islamism has been applied for decades by non-Muslim academics who seek to differentiate between non-militant Muslims and militant Middle Easterners.

Recently I spoke to Alan Hunt, host of the nationally syndicated Alan Hunt Show, and made the point that it is no more logical to call a suicide bomber in Iraq a “Muslim terrorist” than it is to call the Oslo terrorist a “Christian Terrorist.” Hunt disagreed. In his opinion, the prefixes of “Muslim” or “Islamist” were fair because such a large swath of Muslims (he quoted 20-40%) claim to support the actions of terrorists, while very few, if any, Christians supported the actions of the Oslo terrorist.

That argument is weak.

A religion can be perverted by a few or by many, 1% or 99%, but either way, a perverted religion is no longer representative of the religion itself. It becomes something wholly different based on how it is utilized, just as a paperweight becomes a weapon when it is maliciously hurled at someone’s face.

Even if Alan Hunt’s opinion seems somewhat reasonable, there are more than a few white supremacists who both call themselves Christians and support terrorist actions (see Christian Identity Movement). That being the case, at what point does it become acceptable to allow those extremists to represent the entirety of Christianity? At what point is it acceptable to ascribe a title of “Christian extremists” to those intolerant bigots?  When they comprise 1% of all self-proclaimed Christians? 5%? 51%? Apparently for Hunt, a suitable standard would be 20%.

Compassionate, reasonable people are doing humanity a huge disservice anytime they use names like Islamist extremist or Muslim terrorist. Such labels empower the terrorists. Such labels lend legitimacy to the terrorists as religious martyrs, when in reality they are nothing more than sacrilegious scum, misinterpreting cherry picked verses from a holy text to support their predetermined phony conclusions. And perhaps worst of all, such paradoxical labels denigrate and unfairly persecute millions of Muslims who seek a peaceful existence. That peaceful existence is one that author Karen Armstrong defended on behalf of Muslims after 9/11/2001. It’s a shame her defense did not do more to sway public opinion. Perhaps if peaceful Muslims would have heeded her advice to “reclaim their faith from those who have so violently hijacked it,” things might be different.

Yet things are not different, and that leads to a critical question:

Why don’t peaceful Muslims (a majority, even by Alan Hunt’s claims) do more to denounce the violent acts and bogus religious proclamations of Middle Eastern terrorists?

The answer is self-evident: extremists don’t tend to take criticism very well. Speaking out publicly against radical Islamism automatically makes the critic a direct target, and in countries where oppressive regimes rule with force and systematically condone terrorism, is it any wonder that 20-40% of Muslims “say” that they support terrorism too? Fear is a powerful emotion, powerful enough to make people say things they don’t truly believe. Even Peter denied Christ three times.

As the search for the Boston terrorist (or terrorists) continues and as suicide bombers and IEDs continue to claim the lives of innocent adults and children abroad, we need to consider the implications of attributing religious labels to the least religious among us. In the sickest of minds, the adjectives “Islamist” and “Christian,” when placed in front of the word terrorist, only serve to justify the unholiest of actions.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/04/19/a-terrorist-by-any-other-name/feed/ 11
“No gun for you!” http://likethedew.com/2013/03/02/no-gun-for-you/ http://likethedew.com/2013/03/02/no-gun-for-you/#comments Sat, 02 Mar 2013 21:06:17 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=49676

militiaAs an advocate for strict gun control, my concession that Americans should be allowed to own any kind of gun (semiautomatic, fully automatic, or otherwise) may come as a bit of a surprise. If you are one that respectfully disagrees, I invite you to read on and see if I can’t persuade you.

Adhering to the definition of the word “militia,” the “well regulated militia” to which the authors of the second amendment referred was comprised of civilians. Therefore, according to most current defenders of the second amendment, the right should still extend to civilians. Fine. I can accept that (even though with the largest professional military in the world, we no longer have a need for a civilian militia to defend ourselves against King George’s Redcoats). However, I believe that folks who want to be part of this modern-day “well-regulated militia,” whether to protect their country against enemy invaders or just to protect their lives and property, need to be…wait for it…well-regulated. In other words, if you want to be part of the militia, you should be subject to the same exact criminal background checks, drug screenings, psych evaluations, medical background checks, and intensive firearms training that the real “militia” (i.e. police and military personnel) is subject to.

If you have unpaid parking tickets, “no gun for you.”

No high school diploma or GED? “No gun for you.”

You like to get high and can’t pass a drug test? “No gun for you.”

ADHD? “No gun for you.” How can we be sure you can focus on the right target? And if you are treating your ADHD with prescription amphetamines, see the previous disqualifier.

Depression? “No gun for you.” Have you seen the statistics correlating suicides with gun ownership?

Can’t reliably hit a human-sized target at 20 yards? “No gun for you.” You pose a threat to everything around you when you fire your weapon.

All the branches of the military and local police forces have determined that before they put a gun in the hands of a human being, it is prudent to ensure a high level of competency regarding that human’s capability to use the weapon. Why is it so hard to expect the same for civilians? It would seem like the least we could do, especially considering civilians lack any of the oversight and continuous training that military and police receive.

I understand that this kind of stringent gun control would leave many people without a lethal means of protecting themselves (the elderly, disabled, uncoordinated, etc.), but these folks would just have to rely on alternative non-lethal means of self-defense—and that is the one direction that the gun control debate unfortunately never goes. We can send a text message to satellites in outer space and back to Earth in milliseconds, we can clone living, breathing animals from a single cell, we can make cars that parallel park themselves, but we can’t find effective ways to incapacitate another human being without killing him? Society has made astonishing technological advances in nearly every industry but self defense. And while tasers and stun guns are great, their limitations are prohibitive and they certainly haven’t revolutionized the world the way the cell phone has for communication or the way the personal computer has for…well, just about everything besides self defense.

There are solutions to the problem of gun violence, but in order to realize them, Americans on both sides of the issue will first need to admit to themselves that the solutions lie outside of the two dilapidated boxes in which they have confined their dogmatic debates for so long.

But to summarize my argument, I don’t care what kind of guns people have; I care what kind of people have guns.

*This post was originally published at mcleanparlor.com.

Other posts by J. Palmer about guns:

http://politicdiscourse.com/2012/07/26/coping-with-guns/

http://politicdiscourse.com/2013/01/16/muskets-and-dueling-pistols-for-all/

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/03/02/no-gun-for-you/feed/ 4
What to Expect from the New GOP http://likethedew.com/2013/01/29/what-to-expect-from-the-new-gop/ http://likethedew.com/2013/01/29/what-to-expect-from-the-new-gop/#respond Tue, 29 Jan 2013 12:19:36 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=49167

OppositesWatching Meet the Press yesterday, I almost choked on my breakfast when I heard Paul Ryan say with a straight face, “Immigration is a good thing.”

Those GOP strategy meetings last week must have simply encouraged Republicans to start saying the opposite of everything they have said for the past 20 years or so. Not a bad political strategy in my opinion, but America already has a party for liberals.

The Republican Party also seems to be distancing itself from the fringe elements that have been dictating its wayward course. After all, does anyone believe that Sarah Palin’s “separation” from Fox News the day after the strategy meetings was a coincidence?

The re-branding of the GOP now has me wondering what might be next for America’s fast-sinking political ship. Here are some things we might be able to look forward to:

Instead of tax breaks for the wealthy to “encourage growth,” Republicans will consider a plan to pay down the national debt by levying a new slander tax on Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity every time one of them insults someone he disagrees with.

Instead of serving as a television surrogate for conservative Republicans, Ann Coulter will now be asked to do some community outreach in America’s Black Muslim communities.

Taking advantage of public outcry over gun violence, NRA-backed congressmen will now visit the grieving families of the 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year. They will be cancelling all campaign fundraising events in order to make time for this new duty.

Instead of cutting funding for public education, Republicans congressmen and senators who attended public schools will now supply their former schools with pencils, paper, and other supplies directly from their offices in Washington. They will also be sending personalized thank you cards to the former teachers who helped enabled them to become such cunning individuals.

Instead of fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will now revert to their original position on mandated health care as issued by the Heritage Foundation in 1989.

Instead of accusing the President of “not leading” in the turbulent revolutions of foreign countries, Republican politicians will now personally lead an armed resistance to fight against the likes of Bashir Al-Assad, right alongside members of Al-Queda.

In order to stop offending women with careless comments regarding rape and abortion, Republican leaders will be required to complete a sensitivity training course taught by Rachel Maddow.

Instead of simply parading out every minority representative of the Republican Party onto the stage at the Republican National Convention, Reince Priebus has suggested that his black and Hispanic colleagues invite their “amigos” and “homies” to add a little diversity to the delegates on the floor.

Instead of trying to limit access to voting among elderly and minority constituents, Republicans are proposing to offer free copies of Atlas Shrugged to anyone who would like to vote without government issued identification.

These are just a few of the solutions the GOP may be rolling out in the coming weeks, but if they prove to be successful, the 2016 ticket of Christie and Rubio can’t lose.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/01/29/what-to-expect-from-the-new-gop/feed/ 0
Forget the debt ceiling, what’s that smell in the basement? http://likethedew.com/2013/01/23/forget-the-debt-ceiling-whats-that-smell-in-the-basement/ http://likethedew.com/2013/01/23/forget-the-debt-ceiling-whats-that-smell-in-the-basement/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 22:26:37 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=49026

toilet_paper_dollarsAs long as politicians continue looking up at a debt ceiling and forward at future spending, they will never have to confront the problem they so comfortably wallow in up to their necks today, a problem only they can fix: systemic waste.

Debate in Washington rarely turns to addressing the root of a waste problem which infects all levels of government. There are, of course, talks about how to cut spending, but cutting programs and funding does nothing inherently to cut waste.

Consider this sad-but-true illustration:

I work for a state government institution. Recently, I requested a piece of technology necessary for doing my job. The item retails between $150 and $200 from multiple sellers on Amazon, but since I work at a state institution, the item had to be purchased through an “approved vendor.” The idea is that these vendors will give the state the best possible price. What did the state pay for the item? Over $300.

Instances like that happen every day at thousands of state and federal institutions. If you started to do the math, you would see why our country is in such trouble–not because we spend, but because the system allows “approved” vendors and contractors to fleece the taxpayers. Immovable barriers of bureaucracy have been cleverly constructed to funnel taxpayer dollars right to where the political architects of those barriers want them to go.

The unethical (although not always illegal) and mutually beneficial relationships between the vendors and the politicians who approve them are what really need to be “cut” before operating budgets are sacrificed. If you simply cut funding to government institutions and programs, those entities will lay off employees and deny citizens beneficial services, not fix the problem of corruption at levels beyond their control.

For another example, consider what America is paying for a typical American defense contractor overseas ($150k/year) versus what a typical deployed US soldier makes ($50k). Keep digging and you will find how close the CEOs of the defense contractors are with the representatives who approve paying for their services with your money.

Republicans have for decades successfully sold the half-truth that the cause of government waste is a society full of lazy takers. Admittedly, there are far too many Americans receiving thousands of dollars in un-needed benefits across the country. However, focusing solely on social welfare as the primary source of big government waste has been such a successful diversion for Republicans that their fiscal support of big business and bloated military has gone unchecked—and where the constituents aren’t looking, the politicians are quietly allocating. The Democrats might be giving American welfare queens thousands, but the Republicans are currently giving hundreds of billions to foreigners by way of defense contracts (only a quarter of defense contractors are Americans).

For too long, freely elected politicians have determined what vendors and contractors get to financially rape the American people with impunity, and that is America’s fatal flaw now. The people chosen to fix the system are the same people who benefit by ensuring it stays broken.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/01/23/forget-the-debt-ceiling-whats-that-smell-in-the-basement/feed/ 3
Muskets and Dueling Pistols for All http://likethedew.com/2013/01/02/muskets-and-dueling-pistols-for-all/ http://likethedew.com/2013/01/02/muskets-and-dueling-pistols-for-all/#comments Wed, 02 Jan 2013 15:55:06 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=48617

madisonarguesIn America, the right to bear arms is constantly being scrutinized and defended, especially following mass murders committed by American citizens like in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut. Fundamentally, debates between gun rights advocates and gun control advocates revolve around the second amendment to the Constitution – its language, its context, and even its authors. If you argue long enough with folks from either side, you will inevitably hear attempts to support their viewpoints with “evidence” based on what the founding fathers intended when they wrote the amendment.

Those who favor restrictions on firearms will suggest that the authors of the second amendment intended that such a right only apply to “a well regulated militia,” or today’s equivalent of military and police personnel. This interpretation would not necessarily mean that private citizens cannot own guns today; it just means that they would not have a constitutionally protected right to do so.

Those who oppose restrictions on firearms suggest that the authors of the second amendment intended absolute freedom for private citizens to protect themselves through “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” This interpretation seems to hinge on the phrase, “shall not be infringed.” According to this interpretation, any attempt by the government to limit access to firearms or to regulate the types of firearms and ammunition a citizen can possess would be considered an infringement of a Constitutional right.

Now, arguing an ideological point based on what may or may not have been going through the minds of a few men over two hundred years ago seems like a flimsy way to justify an opinion of the second amendment. However, supporters of stringent regulations on guns and ammunition should concede that gun rights advocates’ interpretation of the founders’ intentions is absolutely correct. That’s right, they should completely accept the argument that the authors of the second amendment intended for the right to bear arms to extend to civilians and remain unchecked by any governmental authority.

This appears to be a counterintuitive approach for gun control, but with such a major concession comes some bad news for the NRA. If gun control advocates accept the conjecture of their opponents as indisputable, the following two stipulations would also have to apply:

  1. The founding fathers would have intended for citizens to bear the arms of the late 18th century. These included single shot muskets, long rifles, and dueling pistols. Samuel Colt’s iconic revolver, which increased killing power six-fold, was not even a twinkle in the gunsmith’s eye when the language of the second amendment was written. Based on gun rights advocates’ logic regarding the founders’ intentions of individual gun rights, there could categorically be no Constitutional protection for the possession of the semiautomatic handguns and assault rifles of today.
  2. The second amendment and the Bill of Rights were not intended to apply to Native Americans, women, African-Americans, the physically disabled, or the poor. In effect, the amendment that gun rights advocates champion when they rely on the intentions of the authors would only protect white male landowners.

Many U.S. citizens fed up with domestic mass murders committed in public places are all but ready to repeal the second amendment. This is an overreaction based on emotion; instead, maybe they should simply accept the longstanding argument of gun rights advocates – the same argument that would consequently restrict civilian firearms to 18th century single-shot rifles, muskets, and pistols. I would hope however, that the gun rights folks would be willing to stray enough from their conjectural logic to allow all Americans to exercise the right of self-defense by antique firearm, not just those who share the skin color, socioeconomic status, and gender of the second amendment’s authors.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2013/01/02/muskets-and-dueling-pistols-for-all/feed/ 3
An Evolution Conservatives Cannot Deny http://likethedew.com/2012/12/21/an-evolution-conservatives-cannot-deny/ http://likethedew.com/2012/12/21/an-evolution-conservatives-cannot-deny/#comments Fri, 21 Dec 2012 11:53:25 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=47366

My alma mater, The University of Georgia, had a problem in 2011. Its mascot was going extinct. The English Bulldog, once an active and aggressive sporting dog, had spent the last century getting fatter and lazier as breeders’ efforts to meet kennel club standards exacerbated the dog’s health problems. Both kennel clubs and consumers alike valued the look of the dog’s short, smooshed snout, which is commonly the root of breathing problems and other related physical ailments. Making matters worse, UGA compounded a genetic problem by insisting on replacing each of its eight fallen mascots since 1956 with an all-white, full-blooded male heir to the doghouse. This hyper-selective breeding of the famous bulldog mascot resulted in the premature deaths of two dogs in two years.

Evolution

To address the problem, the school departed from tradition. The current canine representative for the University has some brown markings and is the half-brother of his predecessor. Fortunately, most of the southern school’s supporters seem to have accepted this instance of chromatic integration with less resistance than in times past.

Not unlike UGA’s recent biological dilemma, the laws of political evolution are dictating a similar fate of extinction to America’s political conservatives, who are ironically lacking in their own collective pigmentation. The last two Presidential elections along with a Census Bureau forecast that predicts whites will be a minority by 2043 are evidence that modern conservatism’s days are numbered. However, do not be fooled by the new rhetoric of right-wing politicians who simply seek to add minorities to the fold. The demographic homogeneity of conservatives, and by extension, the Republican Party, is not the direct cause of their devolution. Instead, the imminent cause of death is a shallow gene pool of inbred ideas recycled by prominent peddlers of faulty logic, an extremist faction, and one bitter, lonely media outlet.

The guard dogs of morality.

Perhaps no one represents the perilous backwardness of conservatism more than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. His position makes him one of the most influential conservatives in the country. He is a true handpicked disciple of conservatism’s demigod, Ronald Reagan. From the bench, Scalia has long been an outspoken defender of the right’s values, but the security afforded to him by his lifetime appointment has recently led to a humiliating unraveling of conservative thought.

Scalia’s well-publicized comments that compared the illegality of homosexuality to murder are more of an affront to basic logic than a particular lifestyle. And it is specifically this fallacious thinking that comprises social conservatism’s hamartia, the fatal flaw on which stands an intellectual house of cards.

Here is a synopsis of Scalia’s argument from the Associated Press:

Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral. …
“If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.

The honorable judge’s headfirst swan dive into the empty pool of absurdity illustrates how conservatives attempt to justify the legislation of their own self-righteous morality. The judge and others who believe similarly fail to respect the single most important principal of America’s golden theory of governance: laws exist only to protect against the infringement of citizens’ inalienable and Constitutional rights, not to dictate to the people what is morally right and wrong. While murder may be wrong, or immoral (as Scalia so insightfully explained) that is not why it is illegal. It is illegal because it deprives another person of his or her right to live.

Popular conservative legislative proposals that dictate “family values” according to one group’s morality are not made in an effort to protect people from a violation of their rights; instead, they are blatant attempts to destroy the innocuous pursuit of a different happiness.

If conservative leaders like Scalia, Santorum, and Bachman are all so badly mistaken in their fundamental philosophy of governing, how can the conservatives survive? The simple answer is they won’t. They cannot afford to lose the immense voting power of the evangelical social conservatives, but they also cannot afford to associate themselves with the ignorance that inherently comes with that bloc. Scalia’s recent comments are more than an ugly crack in the conservative armor; they are the undoing of a vital conservative paradigm.

The tail wagging the dog.

2010 was a banner year for the Tea Party. America’s most vociferous conservatives won back the House for the Republicans in dramatic fashion. But shortly after, the Tea Party began its work to destroy any chance the GOP might have at winning the White House. Each Republican Presidential candidate, save Ron Paul, chose to move further and further right in order to satisfy the tax-hating, small-government-loving Tea Partiers. The ultimate result of the faction’s influence was the re-election of what they deem to be a liberal socialist—not exactly a win for conservatism.

Moderate conservatives seem to have sold their political souls for the victories they won in 2010, and now their entire side of the political spectrum is dominated by a relative handful of ideologues and the specter of an uncompromising tax pledge. In today’s contentious political climate, any conservative who dares to break with far right is quickly disowned. This with-us-or-against-us behavior is killing conservatism from within, and the policies (steeped in rigidity) for which the Tea Party advocates just aren’t fit for America’s two-party system.

The limitation of pack mentality.

Conservatives love to gripe about the under-representation of their views in the mainstream media. The existence of only one major television media outlet dedicated to their cause seems to incite a petty jealousy worthy of far less energy than they constantly ascribe to it. What these staunch believers in capitalism will never acknowledge is that their beloved “invisible hand of the market” has made things this way. There are plenty of uber-rich conservatives with the means to buy television networks and make them representative of the political right, but they don’t—probably because they know an inferior product is a bad investment.

As the only game in town, Fox News has the de facto loyalty of most conservative Americans. However, being the lone source of conservative political punditry has severe drawbacks for Fox nation. Every other media outlet may indeed carry a liberal bias, but each of these carries a different degree of that favoritism. MSNBC is certainly nowhere near CNN on the bias spectrum. Mainstream media outlets also have different agendas according to the producers and media moguls behind the scenes. Different shades of liberal media give the political left a distinct advantage; the diversity of thought and opinion in the liberal media allows pundits, politicians, and citizens to engage in intra-party debate. This debate produces the kind of political compromise and intelligent policy that is necessary for success in a democracy.

Fox News has very little debate regarding conservative politics. There is debate on the network, but only with the liberal agenda. Fox promotes the us-against-them mentality, which leads conservatives to passively accept the right’s stale ideology and focus solely on the demonization of the enemy. It is a profitable strategy for the network because creating a common enemy is extremely effective at fostering loyalty, but the strategy is disastrous for the declining health of conservatism.

The new breed.

There are some good redeeming qualities of conservatism. An insistence on fiscal responsibility is critical for a country with such economic woes, and there always needs to be a counterbalance in a two-party system. But conservatism as Reagan knew it is taking its redeeming qualities to the grave.

A new, more evolved brand of conservatism is already emerging. Libertarians could even displace the GOP if they can figure out how to substitute the evangelical social conservative bloc with a diverse coalition of semi-likeminded thinkers. However, in order to accomplish this, the new conservatives cannot simply seek to add women and minorities for their votes alone; they must also be willing to accept, value, and integrate the differing ideas that come with those votes. This is something traditional conservatives could never do. Scalia wouldn’t allow it, the Tea Party wouldn’t allow it, and Fox News couldn’t allow it.

]]>
http://likethedew.com/2012/12/21/an-evolution-conservatives-cannot-deny/feed/ 3
The 2012 Undecided Voter’s Guide http://likethedew.com/2012/11/04/the-2012-undecided-voters-guide/ http://likethedew.com/2012/11/04/the-2012-undecided-voters-guide/#respond Sun, 04 Nov 2012 13:12:06 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=43565
  • If you are rich, vote Romney. If you are poor, vote Obama.
  • ]]>

    If you are among the twelve undecided voters left in America, it is not too late to make an educated selection at the ballot box on November 6th. While the eenie-meenie-minie-mo strategy would likely prove to be just as effective 50% of the time, making your choice for President based on any one of the six following criteria will allow you to logically explain to your uninterested friends and family why you chose the lesser evil that you did.

    1. If you are rich, vote Romney. If you are poor, vote Obama.
      You would think this one goes without saying, but you would be surprised at the number of poor white folks with Romney stickers patching up the bullet holes on their double-wides. Romney has promised to help Americans out by cutting the tax rates on capital gains and investments, so if you don’t know what capital gains are, or your investment portfolio consists of losing scratch-off lottery tickets which you hope to mail in for the second chance drawing just as soon as you can afford the postage, vote Obama. He will use higher taxes on the rich folks’ investments to give you what you need—like food stamps, college loans, maybe even a decent paying job rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure.
    2. If you are from the Deep South, vote Romney. If you are from California, New York, Massachusetts, or Illinois, vote Obama.
      Nobody wants to be an outcast. If you vote for Obama in the Deep South, even if he wins, your neighbors will hate you. You won’t get invited to any catfish fries or raccoon huntin’ trips. Besides, the southern states are already decided for Romney. A vote for Obama in Georgia is as good as a used wad of chewing tobacco. The same reasoning goes for voters in states that are decided for Obama. Even if you don’t like the guy, put on your “Forward” t-shirt and smile. You want people to like you, don’t you? Let’s be honest: you waited this long to start thinking seriously about the election; your popularity is obviously more important to you than the fate of the nation.
    3. If you are an Evangelical (i.e. closed-minded, white) Christian or Mormon, vote Romney. If you are anything else (religiously speaking), vote Obama.
      This criterion is logically supported by the same in-crowd mentality as #2, but it must also say somewhere in each respective group’s holy scripture that followers shall cast their votes a certain way. Nothing else could rationally explain the polarization and lack of independent thinking among these lemmings.
    4. If you hate foreigners in America, vote for Romney. If you hate foreigners in other countries, vote for Obama.
      Romney has made it clear that foreigners who came to America seeking a better life for themselves and their families need to show themselves the exit door by “self-deporting.” He won’t even waste American tax dollars helping immigrants get out of the country, let alone helping them to stay in it. If you agree that America’s long history as a land of opportunity for all is a black eye on the Statue of Lady Liberty, then Romney is your man.
      Obama, on the other hand, has made killing foreigners in other countries a staple of his White House tenure. Although his dozens (probably hundreds) of drone strikes overseas have eliminated many terrorist targets, the destructive nature of bombing remote villages from robot planes has also eliminated many non-terrorist women and children—or as some might say, “potential terrorists.”
    5. If you want a leader who will compromise in order to accomplish things, vote for Romney. If you want a leader who will not bend to the will of his opponents, vote for Obama.
      Much has been said recently about the ineffectiveness of Washington and the do-nothing Congress that has failed to serve the American people by passing crucial legislative measures to get the country back on track. Some attribute this systemic problem to a lack of leadership from the White House, and it is obvious that for anything to get accomplished in Washington over the next four years, the President should be willing to work with the other side. With that in mind, one should note that Mitt Romney is always willing to compromise on his policy positions. Forget that Romney labeled himself as “severely conservative” during the Republican primaries; the moderate Romney that showed up for the Presidential debates had clearly compromised on his entire economic plan. Romney has also proven that he will compromise 180 degrees on some issues, gun control and healthcare mandates being two shining examples of Romney’s unparalleled flexibility.There are some Americans who view compromise as a sign of weakness. If you are one of these people, Obama should be more to your liking. In 2010, the Republican congressional leader Mitch McConnell laid out a clear agenda for Congress to pursue over the following two years. He said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” However, the President chose not to reach across the aisle to help his opposition accomplish their mission. Instead, Obama chose to completely obstruct the Republicans’ plan by accepting his party’s nomination for the 2012 Presidential election. Obama’s choice to dig in against his opponents shows he will not easily cave to outside pressure when it comes to defending his principles.
    6. If you want a President that you could have a beer with, vote Obama. If you want a President that you could have a caffeine-free Coke with at a $50,000 per plate fundraiser, vote for Romney.
      This issue is all about the likability/relatabillity factor. The who-would-you-rather-have-a-beer-with question has been a feature of prior elections, but Romney’s personal beliefs and unfamiliarity with at least 47% of Americans necessitates a new version of the old question. Regardless of how you answer, you will not likely ever get to enjoy a beverage with either candidate, but at least you can say you voted based on your all-important “feeling” about your favorite politician.

    So there you have it: six possible factors that will determine the next four years of American history. If you are still undecided, don’t forget to bring a coin to flip with you on Tuesday!

    ]]>
    http://likethedew.com/2012/11/04/the-2012-undecided-voters-guide/feed/ 0
    Evangelicals Stunned: Billy Graham Endorses Obama http://likethedew.com/2012/10/21/evangelicals-stunned-billy-graham-endorses-obama/ http://likethedew.com/2012/10/21/evangelicals-stunned-billy-graham-endorses-obama/#comments Mon, 22 Oct 2012 02:47:44 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=43162

    In a recent full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, 93-year-old Billy Graham made a drastic political about-face by endorsing President Barack Obama for another term. The lifelong conservative evangelical Christian appears to have had quite the change of heart just days after meeting with Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

    Although The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said, “The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest,” the support for the incumbent candidate is evident when one reads between the lines. For those who have difficulty decoding politically suggestive messages, have no fear: my expertise in composition and rhetoric will serve to guide you through Graham’s thinly veiled support for Barack Obama.Billy Graham Ad

    First, let us take a look at the text of the ad in its entirety:

    The legacy we leave behind for our children, grandchildren, and this great nation is crucial. As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last. I believe that it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.

    Now there is certainly some fluff to Graham’s message–and I do like how he cleverly reminds everyone to send him a birthday card—but there are three specific points in the advertisement that prove Graham wants Americans to “gobama” this election:

    1. “…it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel.”
      [Expert Analysis] Since deciphering “biblical principals” is impossible (an eye for an eye?–or–turn the other cheek?), Graham is clearly nudging voters toward the candidate who supports Israel. A quick look at Barack Obama’s website provides plenty of cited evidence for the claims that the President “has repeatedly stood up for Israel in the international community, has sent record levels of security assistance as President, and believes that Israel must remain a Jewish state.” Graham could have probably stopped here, but he wanted to make sure Americans understood some other reasons why Obama deserves their votes.
    2. “I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life.”
      [Expert Analysis] This one is easily pointing to Obama, and even Mitt Romney makes a strong case for the President on this issue. Romney keeps mentioning how Obama has enabled more poor Americans to benefit from food stamps than ever before. If providing nourishment to hungry people isn’t protecting the sanctity of life, I don’t know what is. There is no life without food, and maybe there is an explanation as to why Romney is anti-food: he is constantly accused of being a robot, and a robot doesn’t even need food!
    3. “I urge you to vote for those who… support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”
      [Expert Analysis] Apparently, Obama supports this particular idea of marriage so much that he actually went out and married a woman. Now that is backing up policy with action. So many politicians say one thing about how people should live and yet don’t model the behavior. It is nice to see that, although President Obama doesn’t tell people what socio-religious practices they should follow, he leads by example instead. It was nice of Billy Graham to point out the President’s often overlooked relationship to the First Lady.

    In conclusion, the current President of the United States clearly meets all the requirements that Billy Graham thinks are important for this nation’s leader. Yet it is understandable that Graham chose not to explicitly name the President in his “non-political” advertisement; after all, the 501(c)(3) government entitlement program that benefits Graham’s non-profit association stipulates that organizations “may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”  Well played, Mr. Graham. I am sure that as a gesture of thanks for your coy public advertisement, President Obama will put in a good word for your organization with the IRS so you can continue to “not” support any political candidates–wink, wink.

    ]]>
    http://likethedew.com/2012/10/21/evangelicals-stunned-billy-graham-endorses-obama/feed/ 9