Political Odds and Ends.

I have not been writing much.  No, that’s inaccurate.  I have not been posting much, at least not here. I thought I would just check in.

Part of it is that I have been involved with issues elsewhere in cyberspace, mainly over at Facebook, mainly involving relatives.  (You can pick your friends, but…)  I was forced to issue the following statement (for reasons that are too long to go into here, stretching back literally decades):

Note to the world: I am a fierce supporter of LGBT rights. I believe that the right to marry is a right, not a privilege, that belongs to all regardless of race, religion, national origin or *sexual orientation.* You have a problem with that? Unfriend me. Now.

Unfortunately, the person whom I hoped would take the hint didn’t, and after further nasty personal attacks on my Wall, I was forced to ban him.  The upshot of all this is there are now people in my extended family with whom I am not on even the most basic of speaking terms (hey, I didn’t start this) and I suddenly have a lot more free time around the holidays.


And then there were the Rick Perry signs. This was a much more civil debate — although no less passionate on both sides.

It started when I posted a picture of a sign from St Catherine’s Episcopal Church (where, I do not know) which read: “Gov. Perry.  God here. That voice in your head is not me.  Take your meds.” Several people “liked” it, and one person (whom, her political opinions aside, I quite like) expressed unhappiness with “Sigh.”

The next day, after much thought, I decided that the sign was in fact unfair to the mentally ill.  Bigotry is not a mental illness, and to lump people who take meds to be able to function in the world in with Rick Perry is just wrong. So I posted a sign from Texas Baptist Church (again, I have no idea where) which read: “I never told Rick Perry to run for anything.  I did suggest he stop harassing gays, Mexicans and Muslims, however.  God.”  Along with this, I posted my explanation why I liked this sign better than the other one.

I was then accused of stating that people who disagree with me are mentally ill.  I responded, clarifying my position that I believe no such thing, that in fact it was because he was not mentally ill I thought the first sign unfair in retrospect.  I also added “there are a lot of people with whom I disagree vehemently about a number of things, but whom I like and respect. I have never reserved my affection only for people who viewed the world the same way I do.” I also linked to a Ta-Nehisi Coates column about Rick Perry and a particularly troubling case from Texas.

I was then accused of candidate bashing.  You know what? She was right, at least partially.  The first sign was candidate bashing, pure and simple.  Yes, I am suspicious of anyone who claims God told them specifically to do anything, but to some extent that can be — and in evangelical circles often is — spiritual shorthand for “I discerned the will of God in this.” Far be it from me to say where the will of God lies in anything.  To mock Perry here is to willfully make fun of a man’s religious beliefs.

But that second sign? No dice.  When a man or woman runs for President, their statements on issues such as immigration and homosexuality, not to mention their record as an elected official, have every bearing on their fitness for the highest position in the land, and are fair game for all sorts of commentary and, yes, mockery.


Speaking of Rick Perry….

I have been trying to get together a post about Rick Perry and capital punishment.  It keeps getting longer and longer… and sadder and sadder. At some point in the next month I will have it finished or abandoned, I don’t know.

Part of the reason is that I like to write about things that I feel passionately about but which do not affect me so much that I find it difficult to argue clearly.  Some things just strike me inarticulate with rage.  (This is exactly why I have yet to do a post about the Wal-Mart case from earlier this year.)  Capital punishment is a hot-button topic with me, and capital punishment in Texas more so.  Throw in a man who has publicly criticized the Supreme Court decision that outlawed the execution of the mentally retarded, and it gets very tricky for me to retain enough calm to write about it. 

And then there is the Willingham case. (See the Ta-Nehisi Coates column mentioned above.)  I can’t write about this, yet, because as I said on my Facebook “It’s kind of hard to write with the foam from your mouth dripping on the keyboard.”  (This was, incidentally, the statement — along with a chart showing how marriage was treated in the Bible — which caused a flame-war and is the reason I am not leaving California this Christmas.)  Let’s just say that I find Perry’s actions reprehensible.

Of course, a post on Texas would inevitably lead  to posts about the state of capital punishment nationwide.  There are at least three posts running through my head having to do with that subject — I just need to catch my breath enough to write them. 


A final thought about the death penalty, from Ta-Nehisi Coates (who is a wonderfully thoughtful witer):

Whenever tempted by moral dudgeon, it should be remembered that abolishing the death penalty would mean asking decent people to tolerate the lives of criminals who revel in the abuse of that tolerance. Opposing the death penalty is not rooted simply in the pursuit of justice, but, perhaps more firmly, in understanding the world’s fundamental injustice, and the ease with which an attempt to permanently balance the scales ultimately imbalances them further.


I have also been doing my best to stamp out ignorant parroting of talking points, where I can.  And in Facebook, even among otherwise intelligent people, you can see this in action.

For example:  a few weeks ago there was a meme circulating to the effect of “let’s show Congress how to balance the budget by first getting rid of their salaries.”  Aside from all of the practical political reasons this would be a terrible idea,  cutting Congressional salaries is empty posturing and will do absolutely nothing to close the deficit. If Congresspeople were being paid $200K a year (the highest salary is not that high) and if you were to eliminate all pay for Congress, you would save a staggering…. 107 million per year. We spent 63 times that in Afghanistan in February 2010 alone.* Pretty feeble for a gesture.  Not to mention that, with nearly 50% of people in Congress having a net worth of over $1,000,000, not very effective.

And then, reading yet another article that claimed that Congress gets free health care, this time from a left-leaning publication, I wrote:  

Repeat after me: Members of Congress get the same health care benefits as any other federal employee. They DO NOT get free health care. I have heard this repeated from people at both ends of the political spectrum. There are a lot of reasons to dislike Congress; this isn’t one of them. Just because I agree with your political ends does not mean that I am going to let you get away with twisting facts, even unknowingly.


It is not even September 2011.  The nominating conventions are ten months away, the general election fourteen.  I am already tired of Presidential politics.  It’s going to be a loooonnnnngggg year.

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