Category Archives: political crap

An abominable policy implementation

I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but I remember the circumstance. We were at Sears in Colonie Center. To me, Colonie Center might as well have been another planet. I had no idea how far away it was and no clue where home was in relation.

As an adult, Colonie Center Sears isn’t very big. As a kid, it was big enough that I still remember what happened there decades later.

I got separated from my parents. They weren’t anywhere. They weren’t in the store. They weren’t in the mall. They might as well have not existed at that point.

The truth is, they did exist. They were still in the store. And when I figured out I was lost and made a lot of noise, they found me.

The entire event probably took less time than it’s going to take you to read this entire post.

And yet, I still remember it.

I support border security. I don’t support catch-and-release. I don’t believe we have a moral obligation to accept and welcome everyone who gets across the border.

CNN is currently showing people who travel from Guatamala with their children because of the beacon of hope our country represents. They’re staying outside the border facility in Nogales, Mexico hoping to get in.

But asylum protection has been removed for victims of domestic and gang violence. And even many of the people who apply for asylum are being treated as criminals.

In fairness, the process that separates the children from parents isn’t new. Any time parents are arrested, their children are taken from them. In this case the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) takes care of them. The President is correct in saying this policy isn’t new.

But this ill-advised implementation of zero-tolerance is new. And it’s completely his decision. The media didn’t do it. Congressional Democrats didn’t do it. President Trump did it. And he can quickly and easily reverse it.

This country has done amazing things. Surely, it can find a way to defend its borders without blowing up families and abusing children.

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Dear Ted Nugent

Dear Ted Nugent,

I’m a Republican. I have been since my 18th birthday, more years ago than I care to admit. Among other things, I believe in border security, limited government, and freedom of expression. I believe gay people should have the same right to marry as straight people. And I believe that bakeries should be allowed to refuse to make their cakes, then take their chances in the free market.

I also believe in the second amendment.

In the picture below are my children. Only they aren’t children any more.

The woman on the left is Jennifer. She’s been working since sixth grade to make the most of her God-given talents. She was the best student in her International Baccalaureate middle school and the validictorian of her IB high school. She graduated from George Washington University Phi Beta Kappa. She spent a year in the Marhall Islands helping kids learn English. She’s now a doctoral student at UCLA. She wants to be an academic.

Since sixth grade she’s worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known to make her way in the world. I love her more than my words here can convey.

The guy on the left is Daniel. He currently attends Syracuse University. He’s worked hard, too, but in a different way. His life is chaos. He’s always working on something and he’s on track to graduate a year early from school. He’s a little surly sometimes, but he’s quick and witty and has a touch with people I’ll never understand. And I love him differently, but every bit as much.

For reasons I won’t pretend to understand, you went on Alex Jones’s radio show and called for the murder of my children, among other people.

If you were just some random nut case, I’d chalk it up as stupidity and move on. But you aren’t a random nut case. You’re on the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association. You consider yourself a spokesman for people in the party I’ve always belonged to.

I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton–a fact that caused strain in my relationship with my daughter for a while. And now a growing part of me wishes I had, because President Trump’s reckless, unpresidential public persona has encouraged people like you to say things like “There are rabid coyotes running around…every time you see one, shoot one.”

In the context of your remarks, you’re referring to Democrats, academics, media, and RINOs (Republicans in name only). I guess under the First Amendment, you have as much right to spout this horrific drivel as the Westboro Baptist Church has to show up and make asses of themselves at high-profile funerals.

But, Mr. Nugent, in your remarks, you called for people to shoot my children, along with approximately half of the rest of the country. Some of those people are very close friends of mine and better people than you could ever consider being.

You can have whatever political positions you want to have. And that’s as it should be.

But if one of your hair-trigger followers even considers harming my children because of your words, the so-called fake media will be the least of your problems. I will make it my avocation to make sure every second of your life–and I truly hope it will be a long one–will be filled with the realization of the effects of your reckless, ill-considered, murdrous words.

These are human beings, not some imaginary vermin you can put out of their misery and out of your mind. These are God’s children you want put down like a rabid dog. And two of them are my children.

I hope common sense will prevail and you will reconsider and denounce your words. Failing that, I hope the NRA will remove you from its board and rescind your membership. And should the worst happen to anyone. I hope the riches that you’ve worked for decades to attain are paid out as a poor, inadequate recompense for the cost of your verbal poison.

The God I believe in will surely forgive you for your words, should you ask it, and I’m happy for that. But my soul and my logic are weak where my children are concerned.

Sincerely,

Chris Hamilton


Wrong is wrong. Period. End of Story.

When you drive a car into a group of people who are exercising their First Amendment right to political self-expression, that’s terrorism. Period. End of story.

James Alex Fields, Jr., political terrorist.

When you show up at a Congressional baseball practice, ask what party the players are, then open fire on them (only to be repelled because one of them was in leadership and had a security detail), that’s terrorism. Period. End of story.

When you try to make a manure bomb to blow up a bank in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City!) because you don’t like the government (only to fail because of your own incompetence and the FBI), that’s terrorism. Period. End of story.

And when you try to minimize one of these events because another one was done by your political opponents (more or less), you are supporting terrorists. Period. End of story.

This isn’t time for Yankees-Red Sox politics. Wrong is wrong. We aren’t progressives or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans. We’re Americans–Americans who happen to be progressive or conservative, Democrat or Republican.

This isn’t the time to worry about your side or their side. It’s a time to worry about what we’re becoming.

Period. End of story.


Fighting “bleak”

And then this morning, a guy shot up a Republican softball practice this morning. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, was killed. If you look at his Facebook presence, he’s a hard-core “Bernie or bust,” guy.

As a result of the shooting, it’s reasonable to expect Republicans screaming about leftwing hatred and Democrats screaming about how Republicans set the tone that resulted in the shooting.

A Facebook friend describe her viewpoint this morning as “bleak.” A Facebook friend of hers said that “The best resistence to the powers of violence, death, and despair is laughter. Evil is prepared to fight righteousness. It has no idea what to do with joy.”

The evil on display wasn’t socialism. It wasn’t the Republican Party. And the ultimate evil wasn’t Hodgkinson.

The ultimate evil is the force that would steal our joy. It’s the requirement to not just disagree with people on the other side of an issue–but to build a righteous rage around it.

The ultimate evil is to see the people we disagree with as them.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen people on both sides, including someone associated with the Trump administration, imply that “they” are somehow less than human.

Say what you will about Christianity, but its rules are very specific about this. We aren’t to hate them. We aren’t to view them as somehow less than human. We aren’t to tolerate them. We’re to love them.

If you look up love in any dictionary, it doesn’t mean agree with, support, or condone the positions of. It’s harder than that. It means that we have to work really hard to view them as special, as one of God’s precious children.

It’s really, really hard. But it’s more necessary now than it was yesterday.


Snowflakification

I belong to a Facebook group for The Leftovers. The problem is, now there’s another group dedicated to friendly discussion of The Leftovers. The supposed shortcomings of the third season were apparently so massive that it became impossible to relate to people whose lives weren’t greviously affected.

By a television show. In fairness, the show resonated with a fiercely loyal fan base (except when it didn’t). But it was a television show. It was a limited-engagement by a bunch of people who are exceptionally good at pretending for other peoples’ benefit.

And yet, if you don’t condemn the third season and everything it stands for, you’ve failed a vital litmus test.

Snowflake is a popular word these days, used to call out people are so victimized that the very presence of a different line of thought constitutes an existential threat.

It’s typically used by the right to criticize safe zones and the like. Many of them are the same people who vigorously objected when Megyn Kelly dared ask then-candidate Donald Trump a difficult question about his relationships with and references to women.

Mr. Trump’s response was breath-taking. He became offended–vigorously offended–that such a question would even be verbalized. In the next breath, he bragged that he didn’t have time for political correctness.

With all respect to those who support the President, difficult questions and criticism come with the job. To be so obvious in your inability to weather that storm makes you a–dare I say it?–snowflake.

It’s prevasive, born of a culture where you can seek people and information that re-enforce your view of the world, then hold up what you’ve sought out and found as proof that you were right.

The questions of national and international politics are a serious matter. The decisions made today are vital to what tomorrow will be like. But when a mere disagreement on political policy is enough to call a person’s worth into question, maybe it’s time for some political Sanka.

We’re not talking about bringing back lynchings or counting blacks as three-fifths of a person. We’re talking about substantive disagreements on issues like health care, immigration, and the balance between the economy and the environment.

These are complex issues without simple one-size-fits-all answers. The discussions we have about these issues are as important as the decisions we make at the end of those discussion.

Just because someone doesn’t believe in incrementally increased government involvement doesn’t mean that she wants to kill your grandma so she can get a self-parking Lexus. Just because someone thinks it’s immoral to deny benefits to anyone who makes it across the border doesn’t mean he wants to dissolve the country.

They simply disagree with you.

That’s what happens in a free society.

Maybe instead of insulating ourselves from it, we should celebrate it.


The real problem

Not long ago, I admitted to being a (gasp!) Republican on Facebook. I may have lost a few Facebook friends as a result. So be it.

For one former Facebook friend, though, the magnitude of my moral depravity was too much to bare. Unfollow and block for bigotry, misogyny, and all sorts of other assorted hate. In response, I did what anyone else might do–I told him he needed to work on reading comprehension when interpreting my post.

My response was the wrong thing to post.

We live in a political world teeming with Uncle Robs (if you don’t understand, click this link and watch a brilliant demented pyromaniac with a gasoline fixation).

The last thing we need is someone throwing a little more gasoline on the fire.

The simple fact is that most of the people who reacted, though they may have disagreed, did so with respect. It might’ve been tinged with a touch of anger here or there, but there was respect.

That respect is lacking when:

  • A person running for Congress assaults a media member–regardless of what the media member may have said at the time.
  • People show up conspicuously armed at political rallies. In general, you don’t need a scary-looking semi-automatic rifle to keep safe when protesting the candidate you don’t like.
  • People was poetic about killing the opposition, finding a tree and a rope, or sending everyone they disagree with to another planet.
  • Speakers of with a different political viewpoint are shouted down because the guardians of righteousness can’t allow them to speak.
  • Anyone decides they are somehow subhman. There are hate-filled cretins all over the place, but to decide an entire group is somehow less than because of political differences is little more than intellectual and moral masturbation.

Most people, regardless of political stance, aren’t bent on genocide. They don’t want to starve your grandma to death and they don’t want to turn America into an intellectual police state where you can go to prison for simply referring to the Washington Redskins.

Most people want to get to the end of the day. They want to work hard and pay their bills, take care of their families, and have a little left over for some luxuries.

A lot of people gain money and power by helping us to forget what most people have in common. They do better when we look at what a few of them do, then generalize those actions so we can see the “real threat,” then consume more of the material that made us feel threatened in the first place.

I’ll never be a Democrat. I don’t believe in open borders, free abortion to all, or speech codes. I don’t think we’re worse off than ever when it comes to women’s right, minority rights, or gay rights. I’m not 100% certain that climate change is primarily caused by industry. I believe that Islamists are a clear danger to this country, but that the guy you work with who wears a turbin or hajib almost definitely isn’t. And I don’t think a 70-year-old woman who doesn’t want to share a bathroom with a person with male parts is a hateful bigot.

I’m increasingly not a Republican, either. I think Jesus can manage without us screaming about red coffee cups and what the person at Target says to you on Black Friday. I think consenting adults should be able to enter into contractual agreements about marriage without government interference. I believe that abortion will never be eliminated by making it illegal. And, increasingly, I believe that single-payer healthcare is a horrible solution–but it may be the least horrible option available to us.

According to the people who make the noise, those beliefs qualify me as a hate-filled misogynist Islamophobe who puts religion in front of science and wants to create The Handmaiden’s Tale in this country, while simulataneously hating Jesus and our Christian heritage, selling out to the damn gays, supporting baby murderers, and favoring socialism–maybe even communism.

Problem is, guys like me are the majority. There aren’t easy, checkbox solutions. It’s messy. The truth has many different shades and no matter what we do, people are going to get screwed.

Guys like me aren’t the problem. The guys who make us yell at each other are.


More about Mike Pence and the Billy Graham Rule

To recap, Billy Graham made a decision decades ago that for propriety and as a matter of his own faith, he wouldn’t be alone with woman who weren’t his wife. Vice President Pence has made the same decision. Yesterday, I blogged that while I understood the vice president’s argument, I think he has some hard thinking to do.

I’ve thought about it more, and I disagree with myself–it happens more than you think.

I respectfully assert that as a leader and as a Christian, Mr. Pence can’t do the job without allowing the women who work for him the same access as the men who work for him. As vice president, Mike Pence is a leader. He’s the second most powerful man in the country and, if nothing else, he’s the workplace leader, the boss, for a lot of people. You can’t be a good boss without being a mentor.

The most valuable conversations I’ve had with bosses and mentors have occurred one-on-one, with the door shut. I don’t need mentoring on how to do a VLOOKUP in Excel or how to accomplish this, that, or the other task in my job. If I can’t figure that stuff out, I should have a different job.

The best mentoring I’ve gotten have come where my work self overlaps with my interpersonal self. Many of those conversations have been positive, helping me push my boundaries to places they haven’t been before. Some have been difficult and unpleasant. In all cases, they’ve been appropriate for two sets of ears only. In many cases, they’ve involved me and the woman I happen to be working with.

I’ve also been on the other end of those conversations, and in some cases, they’ve also been with women. And in almost every case, they’ve been best held behind closed doors.

I understand Mr. Pence’s concerns. I get and, on some levels, respect, where he’s coming from. I understand the risks the a guy like him takes when he’s alone with a woman. It would only take one woman with an ax to grind to make tone of trouble. And I understand that woman are, in general, desirable and fun to be around. But loving one another means you see them as more than potential sexual partners.

The bottom line is that he actively sought a job in which one-on-one conversations with anyone under your purview is reasonably considered part of the job–a pretty key part of the job, to be honest.

With all respect to him, if he can’t do that part of the job, he might not be the right guy.