Tag Archives: election

2016: The Year In Review

This has been my mantra for the year.

Well, beloved, we’ve come to the end of another year, which means we’re about to be inundated with “Year in Review” posts/articles/programs. And, yes, I’m doing one, too. “Year in Review” posts aren’t what you’d call a regular feature here. Unlike my annual Thanksgiving posts, I haven’t written one of these since 2012. I’m not exactly sure why, it’s not like the past four years have been uneventful or anything. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m writing this one. Probably because I figure a post about 2016 will get some views and, like all writers, I’m a bit of an attention whore.

The consensus view seems to be that 2016 has been a rather shitty year. After all, it’s seen:

  • An orange-hued shit demon take advantage of the pain and fear of a large swath of the country to become President of the United States,
  • A bunch of idiotic yahoos in my home state of North Carolina pass an obviously discriminatory law and then commit political suicide by standing behind it in the face of overwhelming opposition both in the state and abroad,
  • The most deadly mass shooting in U. S. history, in which 49 people were killed because of their sexual orientation and/or gender expression.
  • Unarmed black men shot down by the police, mostly for the crime of just being black (that’s not new, but it was a big part of this past year).
  • An election that may have hacked by the Russians. At the very least, they influenced the voting toward the candidate they preferred.
  • And the death of a beloved celebrity every time we turned around.

Not exactly the best year on record, huh?

Still, it hasn’t been all bad. 2016 has also seen:

  • Working class people find a new (unlikely) champion in a 78 year old Jewish socialist. Now, if the Democratic Party (who likes to think of itself as “the party of the people”) would just get on board.
  • An announcement that Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president (and slaveholder) Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. This is good because not only was Jackson was a slave owner, he was an asshole.
  • Jabba the Hut stunt double, Roger Ailes, resign as chairman and CEO of FoxNews. Ailes did so amidst a hail of accusations that he has a proclivity for making lewd remarks and/or advances to his female employees. And, punishing them when they reject him.
  • Pat McCrory lose his job as Governor of North Carolina to Roy Cooper. The best part is that McCrory engineered his own downfall with the hated HB 2, which was actually supposed to hurt his opponent, Cooper. Ain’t karma a bitch?
  • Samantha Bee debut her most excellent show, Full Frontal, on TBS. Bee, smart woman that she is, blew off the industry standard  live interview portion of the news parody format and stuck with her strength, scathing, intelligent satire. And, the television world is better for it.
  • A new Star Wars movie come out. It’s called “Rogue  One” if you’ve been living under a rock. I’m going to see this weekend and I can’t think of a better way to ring out this year.

Do these things offset losing David Bowie and Carrie Fisher in the same year? Probably not, but you’ve got to accentuate the positive. Even when the positive is not all that great.

It’s been said that 2016 has been the worst year ever. But, the truth is, it hasn’t. Not by a long shot. We’re not engaged in a global conflagration, an entire race isn’t in the process of being exterminated, there isn’t a plague killing off a significant portion of humanity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s been fun and I’d like to do it again. Just that it’s not been that bad. Hey, most of us even survived it. I’m not giving odds on 2017, though. I have a feeling it’s going to be a motherfucker.

10 Things You Can’t Do And Call Yourself A Progressive Christian

onedoesnotsimplyprovideevidencememe
An example of #3

The Progressive Edition

A certain popular progressive Christian blogger has made a name for himself with a series of posts titled “10 Things You Can’t _________”. These lists make some really good points, but I have a slight problem with them: they’re all directed at conservative, evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christians. That’s a problem for me  because it smacks of the “Not all Christians” thing. God knows progressive Christians aren’t saints, however much we’d like to think otherwise. So, I came up with my own list. And, I’ll go ahead and say you probably aren’t going to like it.

  1. You can’t call Trump supporters “deplorables”. Or “racists”, or “ignorant”, or any of the other epithets that get thrown at them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and I’m pretty sure telling someone that they’re “deplorable” isn’t what he’d consider “loving”.
  2. You can’t tell everyone “I can’t vote for him/her. I’m voting my conscience.” Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying you can’t vote your conscience, just that you can’t be a condescending ass about it. Because, no matter what you think you think, that’s the way you come across when you say this. The same goes for “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”
  3. You can’t call people out for taking advantage of “white privilege” while doing the same thing yourself. See #2 above.
  4.  You can’t pontificate on what you’d do if ________. What I’m talking about here is something I wrote about last week. I’ve seen several progressive bloggers write about what they’d do if one of their kids turned out to LGBTQ. It’s the “if” that’s the problem here. If you don’t have a gay kid (or have any kids at all), shut the fuck up and let people who actually live this reality talk about it.
  5. You can’t put words in people’s mouths. Or thoughts, or ideas, or pretty much anything else. It’s wrong. Don’t think progressives do this? Tell you what, google “progressive Christian memes” and then we’ll talk.
  6. You can’t marginalize people because of they lack the “proper” educational credentials. Don’t think this is happening? Take a look at the roster of speakers at any progressive Christian event. I can almost guarantee you won’t find anyone who doesn’t at least have a masters degree. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against education. Hell, I’m going into some serious debt right now because I believe in it so much. But, progressive Christianity has to open it’s eyes and see that there are people out here who have important things to say that are being ignored because they don’t have any letters after their name.
  7. You can’t attack everything a person believes in. This is less about the message than the way you present it. Granted, some of the things Christians believe need to be challenged because they are, to put bluntly, fucked up. But, going all “scorched earth” on a conservative Christian’s belief that “the homosexual lifestyle” is a sin won’t get you where you want to go. Unless where you want to go is making yourself feel superior to “those people”. If that’s the case, you are definitely on the right track.
  8. You can’t block people on social media because you don’t like what they say. It goes back to that “love your neighbor” bit. Is it hard? God damn right it is. But, I think that’s what Jesus was talking about when he said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
  9. You can’t be a condescending douche. If you’re thinking most of the items on this list are covered in this point, you’re right. This attitude of theological and moral superiority (that borders on arrogance) may be progressive Christianity’s greatest sin. Don’t you think it’s about time we started working on it.
  10. And, last, you can’t make lists telling people what they can and can’t do as a Christian. This pretty much negates everything I’ve said up to now and that’s the point. I don’t think we get to be the arbiter of what is “Christian” and what isn’t. It really gets on my nerves when some hard-core conservative tells me that I’m not a Christian because I believe in full inclusion, reject the idea of Hell, that I’m “pro-life”, etc. Doing the same thing to them seems kind of shitty.

Voting Third Party? Take A Look At Andrew Basiago

This is not turning out to be one of history’s more inspirational election cycles. Unable to bring themselves to vote for Trump or Hillary, many people are considering a vote for a third-party candidate.  Unfortunately, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson aren’t proving all that inspiring, either. But, there is a light shining in the darkness and his name is Andrew Basiago.

Profile-Picture-Andrew-D-Basiago

Who is Andrew Basiago? First of all, he is an actual candidate for President having met all the requirements and filed the proper paperwork with FEC. Second, and much more importantly, he is the visionary truth-teller America so desperately needs right now.

So, what will Andy do if we elect him? According to his website, he will “lead the American people into a bold, new era of Truth, Reform, and Innovation as great as they are great.” And, here are a few of the things he’s proposing to make that happen:

  • Open government files on secret technologies _ These files include DARPA’s Project Pegasus and possible cancer cures. In doing so, we reclaim our role as the world leader in science.
  • Disclose U. S. Time Travel Technology _  By 1970, the aforementioned Project Pegasus had created 8 different approaches to time travel, from teleportation to chronovision. This amazing technological feat has been kept secret from the American people for far too long. Basiago aims to release this information and energize our scientific potential.
  • Reveal Extraterrestrial presence on Earth _ For years, the U. S. government has concealed the fact that our atomic bomb tests at the end of World War II attracted beings from other worlds (57 different species at present). As President, Basiago would end this massive cover-up and come clean with the American people.
  •  Disclose Secret U. S. presence on Mars _ Yes, the U. S. has a presence on the Red Planet, a fact that has been concealed from the American people for 50 years. Basiago would pull back the shroud on the CIA’s Mars jump room, the Mars Colony Corporation and other related matters. He would also seek a UN treaty protecting Mars’ fragile ecosphere from exploitation by Earthlings.
  • Declassify Secret Space Program _ Under our noses, the CIA has maintained a secret space program. Basiago would open the files on this program and force that agency to reveal their secret programs and off-planet treaties.
  • Protection of Sasquatch Species _ Like Theodore Roosevelt, Basiago has actually encountered a Sasquatch and understands the importance of preserving this majestic creature. To that end, he will put them on the endangered species list.

Some of these proposals may sound a bit far-fetched, but they are not. Like the Sasquatch, Basiago has intimate knowledge on all of them. As a child, he was a participant in Project Pegasus and, over the years, has made multiple trips through time and space, including a trip to Gettysburg in November of 1863, And, he has photographic evidence of that trip.

He has also made multiple trips to Mars. On one, he was accompanied by a young Barrack Obama. On another, he and a fellow chrononaut William White Crow defended themselves with AR-15’s against a horde of dive-bombing pterodactyls. This man is a true American hero and will lead us into the greatness we so truly deserve.

Is Basiago bat crap crazy? Probably. Does he have a prayer of being elected. Not no, but hell no. But, if we’re being completely honest, neither do Stein or Johnson. So, if you’re bound and determined to vote  third-party candidate, why not do it with some style?

Andy 2016!

It’s Not All Doom And Gloom

Separated at birth?
Separated at birth?

Let say this right up front: last night was not a good night for Americans with a progressive bent. Hell, it wasn’t even a good one for moderates, considering that moderate Republicans are pretty thin on the ground these days. But, are things really as bad as some of the progressive blogs and websites are saying? Maybe. But, then again, maybe not.

In his article for The Nation, George Zornick tells us why Republican control of the Senate sucks, saying “this new alignment is going to be hugely problematic for progressive governance—perhaps for governance, period.” Then, he lists all the ways the GOP will attempt to thwart the President and destroy his legacy. And, my friend, Mark Sandlin of The God Article, says that the Republican Party’s purchase of a Senate majority((Make no mistake, they bought it just as surely as if they went to Wal-Mart)) will bring renewed attacks on women, voting rights, the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and pretty much anything else that’s good for middle and working-class Americans. He also mentions the threat of impeachment the President now faces because a whole lot of people gave into their fear and hatred of change. But, could all of these things really happen?

Sure, they could. But, honestly, I’ll be surprised if they do. For all those things to come about would require a level of cooperation that I don’t believe Republicans are capable of right now. Think about it, for a minute, John Boehner’s biggest problems in the House haven’t come from the Democrats, but from within his own party. Tea party nut jobs have upset his apple cart on multiple occasions since they stormed to power 4 years ago and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Considering that the Senate has its own share of insane eccentric characters (like Ted Cruz and James Inhofe), I have a feeling Mitch McConnell, the new Senate Majority leader, and Boehner will be doing quite a bit of commiserating over the next couple of years.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say this latest crop of old, white guys we’ve sent to Washington to represent our interests((not that they will, unless your name is Koch, Adelson or Pope)) actually can come together enough to pull all that off. If they could, would it be the end of the world? No, it wouldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, things would be bad, really bad. But, maybe they would finally be bad enough to get Americans off their asses and to the polls to send these clowns packing.

Really, though, last night isn’t that much of a win for the Republicans because, now, they actually have to govern. No more sitting on the back row shouting NO! to everything the President and the Democrats put forward. Now, they’ll actually have to do something. And, I don’t mean repealing the ACA, dismantling Social Security and impeaching the President. Those things won’t help put people back to work, put more money in their pocket or keep governmental Nosy Parkers out of our bedrooms and bodies, which is what most of are looking for right now. That’s not to say they won’t try any of that. But, they’ll likely have about as much success as they have so far. Which is to say: not much.

So, what do I think will happen over the next two years? Nothing much. Oh, there will sound and fury aplenty, but not much will actually get done, which will only increase voter dissatifaction with Congress. You think their approval rating is low now, what till you see what two years of Republican dithering does to it. It’s entirely possible this mid-term “win” for the Republicans will turn out to be a millstone around their necks in 2016. After losing so badly in the last presidential election, the GOP seemed to realize their party needed to join the rest of us in the current century and some of their more foward-thinking people actually put forth some changes to do that. Unfortunately, party ideologues nipped that in the bud and things quickly returned to business as usual. Winning control of the Legislative branch without enacting any of those changes, coupled with the absence of actual ideas to move the country forward, will most likely spell doom for the chances of a Republican in the White House anytime soon.

So, what’s the bottom line here? Basically, buck up brothers and sisters, it’s not as bad as it looks. Even the worst case scenario has distinct implications of long-term benefit to progressive government in the good ol’ U. S. of A. Even it didn’t, moping and whining isn’t going to help. Look at this way, for the next two years, we get to watch the Grand Old Party publicly self-destruct. Let’s just hope they don’t take us down with them.

The Year in Review

year in review2012 departs at midnight and, evidently, that means we’re supposed to look back and reminisce. I’m not exactly sure why, but who am I to question the prevailing paradigm? 2012 was pretty eventful. Oh sure, not as much as 2001 or any of the WWII years, but it is the most lively one in a while. I mean, we had another historic election, the Republicans tried to show us just what a bunch of nimrods they are, a guy tried eat another guy’s face, North Carolina decided to codify discrimination into it’s constitution while four other states rejected such douchebaggery, Hurricane Sandy paid a visit to the northeast, Chik-fil-a showed it’s ass  and we found out the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the banks were all in bed together to crush the Occupy movement. There was the Arab Spring, the Syrian uprising, Benghazi and the Israelis and Palestinians renewed their competition to see who can be the biggest asshole in their little corner of the world. Shooting incidents in Colorado, Michigan, Kansas City and Connecticut brought sadness and outrage as did Penn State’s cover up of Jerry Sandusky’s disgusting activities. Some sports heroes had a rough year, too, with the revelations of Roger Clemens’ and Lance Armstrong’s lies about doping. It wasn’t all bad news on the national front, though. In September, someone with the whimsical online handle of “european_douchebag” posted a photo on Reddit of a Sikh woman with a little more facial hair than usual, evidently thinking it would be funny. It wasn’t. Amazingly, though the guy who posted the picture was a colossal ass hat, no one was. And, “european_douchebag” even apologized. Who’da thunk it?

As eventful as the year was nationally, it was even more so on a personal level for me. In February, a CT scan found a lump in my abdomen which turned out to be a recurrence of the colon cancer I’d been treated for in 2007. While I was undergoing surgery in early March, my father was ending his journey here on earth as a result of the lymphoma he’d been living with for 9 years. We lost him in April and, I’ll tell, it still hurts. At the end of April, I started 6 months of adjuvant chemotherapy to make sure the cancer was gone. All in all, this round went much better than what I remembered from ’07. Unfortunately, one of the drugs in that lovely little cocktail causes peripheral nerve damage and after two rounds of it, my arms and legs don’t work so good anymore. It mostly manifests in a general weakness, which isn’t so bad. It was bad enough, however, that I had to retire from the fire department on disability. I wasn’t sure how I’d handle retirement, but this morning, I slept in and I’m sitting here writing this in my pajamas at 12:15 on a Monday. I can get used to this.

It’s been a good year for some of my friends, too. Diana, my girlfriend (which kinda transcends the friend thing), continued working on her degree and she’s almost finished. I’m proud of her hard work and can’t wait until she finishes up in the spring. We my mom took Florida, something I had wanted to do while Dad was still with us, but it just didn’t work out. She loved it as much as thought she would. She loves anything plant and garden-related and Florida is a different world when it comes to that stuff. After years of struggling, Hugh Hollowell’s Love Wins has finally getting some traction. They’re a great bunch of people, doing wonderful work and even though things are going well, they can always go better. If you’re looking for someone to give a little cash to, you could do a lot worse (Chik-fil-a and their biblical family buddies come to mind). There are others, but these are the only ones I can think of right now.

I learned a lot this year: that while the return of my cancer was sucky, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (I survived);that losing your father leaves a huge hole in your life; that just when you thought politicians couldn’t be bigger assholes, they’ll prove you wrong; that people can still surprise me; that sitting at home in your pj’s well into the day is just as freakin’ awesome as it sounds and, finally, that while the nature of change is neutral (it can suck or it can be good), it is not inevitable . Change happens whether you want it to or not. If you’re lucky, it all evens out.

What I’ve Learned Since the Election

A lot has been said about the last election. It was, no doubt, historic. The first African-American ever elected President of the United States won re-election by a rather decisive margin. He did so with a sputtering economy and an unpopular war on his hands; in doing so, he won the highest vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson. In fact, he won the most votes of any Democrat in the history of the country and he was the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote two times in a row. You may not like it, but as I said, this election was historic.

This next part may not be historic, but it is interesting. This election saw the power of Religious Right begin to dwindle. Many candidates they backed were defeated, especially Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. You remember those guys, they were the ones who made the idiotic comments about rape. And, then, as if to rub salt in the wound, 4 states approved of marriage equality, with Maryland, Maine and Washington approving of measures that legalize same-sex marriage and Minnesota rejecting an amendment that would ban it. If you’ve watched the news at all, you know all this hasn’t gone over well with the right-wing evangelicals. Reverend Al Mohler said it was “an evangelical disaster”. According to Franklin Graham, it put the country on “a path to destruction”. Tony Perkins warned of “a revolt, a revolution” with “Americans saying, ‘You know what? Enough of this!” That could be construed as a call to violence, which is especially nice since Perkins’ Family Research Council was attacked by a gunman during the past summer. Way to model Christ, Tony.

So, to what the title suggests this post is about, what I’ve learned since the election:

  • The religious right’s power is on the wane.
  • Marriage equality is gaining momentum in this country. The fact that 4 states rejected discrimination against same-sex couples is very heartening, even if my state (NC) and about 30 others still have legally and morally abominable amendments on the books.
  • The leaders of the right see the rise of marriage equality and it scares the crap out of them, causing them to do stupid things. Like Perkins’ comment about rebellion.
  • The tide is turning, but it will get much uglier before it’s over. The reactions so far have shown that.
  • That science is just as important to most Americans as faith. The right’s embrace of questionable science on the reproductive system, LGBT issues climate change was soundly rejected this election cycle.
  • I’m going to be optimistic with this one, but I believe this election is a rejection of the politics of fear. I hope it’s a sign that the majority of this country is starting to see gay people, undocumented immigrants, the poor, women, etc. as people, not “the other”.
  • That Americans will only take so much unfairness, especially when it comes to money. The defeat of uber-capitalist Mitt Romney shows that unbridled avarice is not an American value.

The right has always claimed this is a Christian nation. I hope we never become that because it would marginalize too many people. But, maybe, just maybe we’re on the way to living out some Christian ideals. And, that would be a good thing.

It’s Finally Here!!!

Election Day, that is and thank God for that. This election cycle has been contentious, nasty, filled with lies and half-truths and interminably long. But, it’s also an extremely important one. The two major candidates have extremely different views about how things should be run and whichever of them wins, those views will have a major effect on this country. I’ll probably get some flak for this, but I’m going to tell you who I voted for and why. Then, you can make your own decision.

A couple of weeks ago, in early voting, I cast my ballot for President Barack Obama. I did this for several reasons, not least of which is because his policies, stated beliefs and actions are most in alignment with my own and with my interpretation of what Christian values truly are. Consistently, through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, tax breaks for the middle and lower classes and other numerous actions, the President has shown he cares about “the least of these“. President Obama’s trip to Colorado to comfort victims of the shootings in July and his quick actions after Hurricane Sandy show his compassion for those who are suffering. His actions to pull us out of the quagmire we created in the Middle East, while less than perfect, are much more hopeful than his opponent’s saber-rattling over Iran. The President’s approach to fiscal matters, reduction of the deficit through a balance of cuts and raised revenue and his efforts to rescue major industry in trouble, are head and shoulders above Gov. Romney’s if only because President Obama has actually said what he wants to do. The fact that he’s done many of these things against the advice of others, even those in his own Administration, shows him to be a decisive and effective leader and the man I think is best suited to lead America for the next four years.

I will not be voting Republican this time, or anytime in the foreseeable future (at least until the GOP steps away from the madness it currently embraces) because that party has shown themselves to be out of line with what I consider the message of the Gospel. That is a message of good news to the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. It is also a message to the “haves” that it is their responsibility to care for the “have-nots”. They have demonstrated this through their blatant disregard for women, the poor, the LGBT community and basically anyone that’s not rich and WASPy. I did not vote for Mitt Romney because I believe him to arrogant and out of touch with most Americans. He has waffled, flip-flopped and lied throughout the campaign and I cannot, in good conscience, trust this man to lead this country in the direction I think it needs to go.

As I said earlier, these opinions are mine and I’ll admit I hope I sway someone to vote as I did. I will not, however, demonize anyone for exercising their right of franchise; even if I disagree with their choice. Whatever you choose, go and make that choice count. As David Foster Wallace said,

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.”

Vote today, it’s important.

.

Crank Up The Outrage Machine

I know it’s an election year and, because of that, the campaign rhetoric is especially heated. I know that the religious right has a huge propaganda machine and they aren’t afraid to use it. And, I know that, somehow, the idea of compromise has become blasphemy to many Americans on both sides. Which, I also know, is the reason nothing gets done in Washington, most state capitols and even many local government councils and boards. A great example of this is the Wake County School board (scroll down to Diversity controversy for a short history of this sorry tale). In what’s supposed to a non-partisan position that makes sure that every child in the county get the best education possible, they’re too busy playing politics and running for higher office to do the job they were elected to. And, there’s about as much compromise here as in Congress. Much as I would like to lay this at the feet of the Religious Right, I can’t. The Christian Left seems just as invested in playing this game; one in which there are no winners and the people are the losers.

I suppose the Religious Right does bear some responsibility for the current situation. Under leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, they learned that hot button issues can be manipulated to induce fear and that fear can make them money; lots and lots of money. These people sit atop multi-million dollar empires and wage a culture war against everything they think is wrong with America; with the misguided hope of returning to our status as a Christian Nation. There are two problems with this idea:

  1. The United States has never been and is not now a Christian Nation. This was unequivocally stated by one of founding fathers, John Adams, in the Treaty of Tripoli where he wrote “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” Pretty clear, huh?
  2. Calling the United States a Christian Nation marginalizes almost a quarter of the population. Which not very Christ-like if you ask me.

So, what does all this have to do with the Christian Left? Well, the left in general has begun to adopt the tactics of the Religious Right. Over the past several months, I’ve received quite a few emails about petitions or containing calls to write or phone someone in congress or business about some position they’ve taken or some unjust act that needs addressing. The difference is that these communications from left-wing groups don’t play on fear. For what ever reason, fear isn’t that potent a weapon for the Left. Instead, they rely on outrage. Most of the emails and links I receive are designed to play on my sense of justice in some way. And, until I stepped back and looked at what was happening, it was very effective. The Christian Left is turning into a mirror image of the Religious Right. Don’t think so? One of the Religious Rights first rallying calls was “take back the faith” from the liberals who they felt were perverting it. Now, I see the same words coming from the Christian Left. The longer and harder you fight an enemy, the more like that enemy you become.

I consider myself a member of the Christian Left and grieves me to see a group founded with the best of intentions step away from the tenets of Christ, whom we all, right and left, follow. But, if we don’t want to become our enemy, we need to reconsider our tactics. What will it profit us we gain the world only to lose our souls?