Category Archives: politics

Four more

Last night I asked my parents if we could avoid the election coverage. In 2008, I was so nervous about the election results, the pain in my stomach was almost unbearable. (I would later find out the pain was mostly my gallbladder rebelling against my body.) But still. The thought of a Republican in the White House scared me so much.

To be honest, I wasn’t nearly as nervous this time around, but that may have been a mixture of voter apathy and happy fun-time anti-anxiety meds. But I still didn’t want to watch the possibility that Romney could be elected president. I’m sorry. I just don’t like the guy. By the end of the night, it was inevitable I would turn over, and to my relief, it wasn’t long until the race was called for Obama.

So congratulations, Mr. President.

However, I am greatly worried that we are in for four more years of the same stagnation. Not because of Obama, but because Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives. I want to believe, if everyone means what they say about getting this country going again, Republicans will finally work together with Democrats, instead of just automatically saying, “No,” to everything that comes their way. It’s time to work together. Each party will have to give a little to get a little. The election is over. Can we please, please come together to work for the greater good instead of being roadblocks? I’d like to think it would happen, but history has ways of repeating itself.

I’m not blaming Republicans for all our nation’s woes, but for the past two years, it seems as if their sole purpose was to make Obama a one-term president instead of caring for our country.

But I do hope that since this two-year run for president is now finally, officially over, our elected officials can buckle down and get to work. Is that too much to ask?

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Putting on my big girl panties

I was still deep into my election apathy earlier this week, trying to decide if it was worth the trouble to get out and vote. Then the third debate happened. I didn’t watch it, but I watched Twitter watching the debate. As soon as the “horses and bayonets” comment came up,  I gave the President a slow clap (which confused the hell out of my parents, who were watching something else) and decided to just put my big girl panties on and go vote. So I did.

My vote won’t help you, Mr. Obama, but thank you for inspiring me to get off my tush and do my civic duty.

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Election apathy

So we’ve got a little over two weeks until the presidential election and early voting has begun. But I’ve got a serious case of election apathy, y’all. Not because I don’t support any candidates. I support Obama 100% and will vote for him… if I vote. But I honestly can’t see the point of voting since my blood bleeds blue and I’m stuck in a red state.

But it’s your patriotic duty! (Since when have I ever been patriotic?) Every vote counts! (No, it really doesn’t.) You won’t have the right to complain if you don’t vote. (First Amendment, bitches.)

Honestly, I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of the electoral college when I barely understand why we use it. But the fact is, my vote would be empty and will not help my candidate in any way. I do feel like I should vote on behalf of my mother, who, not being a U.S. citizen, isn’t allowed to vote, but hers wouldn’t count either. So I just don’t know if I’m even going to bother voting this time. At least it’s my right to do so.

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A life of its own

Even though I haven’t updated this blog in about 10 months, I still get plenty of hits. According to my site stats, the most read post on my blog (and the most searched-for phrase) is “How I Infiltrated the Republican Party.”

This makes me LOL like you wouldn’t believe.

That post was written back in 2010, partly in jest and partly in incredulousness over the dirty tactics of a portion of the local Republican Party in our town, about the first time I voted in the Republican primary. But it makes me wonder who on earth is searching for “proof” of people infiltrating a political party? I’ve never gotten any comments on it. But I’ll get hundreds of hits a day on that post alone.

So let me put everyone’s mind at ease. I’m not an infiltrator. I’m not here to steal your “secrets.” I’m not here trying to commit voter fraud. I’m here to vote for the candidate that best represents my interests.

Of course, there’s nothing I can do to stop the searches or the hits. I’m just kind of shocked my post on Boobquake doesn’t get as much traffic.

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What happened to liberty and justice for all?

Recently, a group of 10 unarmed volunteers on a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan were brutally gunned down by members of the Taliban, who accused the group of spying for the West and proselytizing. When I heard the news, I thought, “My god. How barbaric.” Too bad I couldn’t also add, “Thank god that kind of religious intolerance doesn’t happen here.”

Sane Americans gathered recently in Murfreesboro in support of a local mosque. (Photo courtesy of Middle Tennessee for Religious Freedom)

The recent outrage over the proposed “Ground Zero Mosque” (that’s neither at Ground Zero or a mosque—but hey, why bother with facts?) has made me come to hate my country just a little bit more. I thought we were the land of the free, where people were allowed to practice (or not) the religion of their choice. Wasn’t that one of the reasons why this country was founded — by religious groups seeking haven from persecution?

But apparently, that doesn’t apply anymore.

The proposed Cordoba House, which would be located not AT Ground Zero, but two and a half blocks away, and would be more of a community center than an actual mosque, has met with heavy opposition by people saying it’s an insult to build a mosque so close to where so many people died on that tragic day on Sept. 11, 2001.

OK. Um. How, exactly?

It wasn’t Islam that hijacked those planes that brought down the Twin Towers. It was 19 fanatical extremists aided by an equally fanatical sect. And since that date, Islamophobia has shamefully grown exponentially in this country.

I’m not that good with words. So many people have said it better than I have about how banning this house of worship would be so wrong. But I can’t understand why people, who claim to love this country and its Constitution, could even begin to think about not allowing a religious group to build a house of worship. I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

I’ve heard the “We’ll let you build a mosque at Ground Zero when churches are allowed to be build in Saudi Arabia” crap. Apparently, Christian churches are forbidden in Saudi Arabia. That sucks.

But we’re not Saudi Arabia. How do two wrongs make a right?

There’s also been major outcry over a mosque planned in Murfreesboro, just a couple of hours from here. And other protests around the country about similar planned mosques.

Do we want to become Saudi Arabia? Should we just scrap the Bill of Rights and become a theistic society? Which theistic society? Catholic? Baptist? Methodist? Certainly not Islamic or Jewish.

I used to believe America was a land of “us.” But I now realize, we live in a society of “us” verses “them.” I guess “love thy neighbor” only applies if you agree with your neighbor’s lifestyle.

How will we ever gain peace between peoples of faith if we allow fear and hate to fester and spread?

The world cried out when those four planes were hijacked by extremists on Sept. 11. Will we now sit by while our own home-grown extremists hijack this tragedy to suppress the rights of others?

Some seem to have forgotten that many American and non-American Muslims also died on Sept. 11. Many American Muslims have died in the years since fighting for the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. How do we honor their sacrifices? By not allowing the Cordoba House to be built in its present location?

Not in my America.

But I’m starting to fear this isn’t my America any more.

(I wrote this before I saw last night’s episode of ‘The Daily Show.’ Jon Stewart says everything I wish I could say, and then some.)

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How I infiltrated the Republican Party

My heart pounds as I pull onto Main Street. Not so much because of the voting scandal that has rocked our little community, but because I see the gauntlet of candidate supporters on the courthouse lawn and I’m terrified I’ll run over one when they jump into the street to wave their little signs. I try to avoid eye contact as I search for a parking space. Preferably one where I don’t have to parallel park.

Vote early. Vote often.

When my Dad ran for tax assessor a couple of years ago on the Democratic ticket, our neighbors, who had recently moved here from Florida, lamented the fact that they wouldn’t be able to support him in the county primary, since they had been registered Republicans in their home state. Dad explained that being a Republican didn’t matter, as Tennessee had an open primary. Even though my neighbor was affiliated with the Republican Party, all he had to do was ask to vote in the Democratic primary on election day.

Having lived in Tennessee all my life, I never really though about how our process of voting was different to that of other states. I honestly did not know that in some states, only registered Republicans and Democrats could vote in their respective primaries. Until the 2008 presidential election, I wasn’t really into politics at a national level, so I was not aware of how other states handled things. I remember thinking that, finally, Tennessee didn’t seem so backwards compared to the rest of the country. A person could choose which primary to vote in on election day, and not be confined to the party line.

I get out of my car and lock the door, thanking whatever gods are looking out for me that I managed to find one on the opposite side of the street from the gauntlet, and I didn’t have to parallel park. I make my way down the street to the election commission building, hoping I look Republican enough to not warrant notice from the poll watchers. Head down, avoiding eye contact, I suddenly realize that if I really wanted to appear to be a non-Democrat, maybe I shouldn’t have dressed all in blue this morning. Hindsight will get you every time.

I freely admit to being a member of the national Democratic Party. I can’t ever foresee myself voting for a Republican at the national level because my beliefs conflict too much with that of the national Republican Party. But at the state and local level, it’s different. At the local level, you have a much better chance at actually knowing the person running for office. Party doesn’t really matter locally.

I have always voted in the Democratic primaries in the past, not only because I come from a large family of Democrats, but also because many times, someone I’m related to has run on the Democratic ticket, like my Dad. But in a general election, I have voted for the Republican candidate, because I think that person would do a better job than the challenger. And that’s the right of every American citizen eligible to vote.

I make it into the building without notice. Whew! The next step is to sign in and declare my intention to vote in the Republican primary. So many people in such a tiny space! But the line moves quickly, and pretty soon I’m called up by a poll worker to present my identification. I dig around in my purse and promptly hand her my Kroger card. Oops. For a moment I suspect my vote might be challenged after all, not because I’m a Democrat in Republican clothing, but because they might think I’m nuts. But I nervously laugh it off and hand over my driver’s license. The poll worker types in my information and verifies my address.

For several years, our district has been represented by an incumbent who puts party politics ahead of the concerns of his constituents. Just to name a few, he introduced a bill in the Tennessee legislature to ban the sale of sex toys, joined legal action challenging the citizenship status of President Obama and fired the county election administrator simply because she had voted in Democratic primaries in the past (despite coming from a family of die-hard Republicans).

This last asinine move was the last straw for many voters in the county, Democrats and Republicans alike. His challenger in the Republican primary came on strong, and many of us Democrats said we’d cross party lines to vote for the challenger, because we all agree our district needs new blood, someone who will put the will of the people ahead of politics. The Democratic candidate had no challenger in the primary. And, quite frankly, I’ve liked what the challenger has had to say.

“Would you like to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary today?” the election official asks.

“Republican,” I reply.

She prints off my voting paper and highlights two lines. “Sign there, please.” I do so.

Crossing party lines to vote in the other party’s primary has never, ever been an issue in the history of our county, perhaps even in the state. But when one high-profile, long-standing Democrat came in Monday morning, asking to vote in the Republican primary, someone inside the election commission office notified a relative of the incumbent, who immediately came inside to challenge her right to vote Republican. Nearly everyone was surprised to discover that, despite Tennessee being an open primary state, anyone can challenge the legitimacy another voter’s vote on the following grounds:

  • He/She is not a registered voter at the polling place.
  • He/She is not the registered voter under whose name he/she has applied to vote.
  • He/She has already voted in the election (previously issued a ballot).
  • He/She has become ineligible to vote in the election being conducted (for example, he/she has moved outside the district/state or has been convicted of a felony.
  • He/She is not qualified under TCA 2-7-126 (meaning he/she is not a bona fide member of the political party in whose primary they seek to vote).

The woman was challenged on the basis that she was not a legitimate member of the Republican party. And she’s not. But again, this has never been enforced. Many, many people have crossed party lines in the past. Why now, when an incumbent is in danger of losing his seat, is this little-known statute suddenly being put into play?

I’m quickly escorted past the long line of people waiting to cast their ballot, since the booths for those living in districts 6-9 are in a separate area. I totally feel like I’m cutting line, as I have to say “excuse me” to get by people standing in doorways. A few of them give me a funny look. But another poll worker notices me standing in the hall and tells me I’m OK where I’m at. Still no sign of a challenge.

After having her vote challenged, the woman took an oath to support the Republican party in front of a panel of three election judges. According to the challenge procedure, “The voter is required to be permitted to vote in a primary if he declares his allegiance to the political party in whose primary he seeks to vote and states that he intends to affiliate with that party. … It would be extremely rare to deny a citizen the right to vote in a primary he wished to vote in because Tennessee has no registration by party.”

After taking the oath in front of the election judges, all of whom were appointed by a crony of the incumbent, they decided she was not Republican enough to vote in the primary. Her vote was sealed in an envelope and marked “REJECTED.” Her vote for her candidate of choice was denied.

I’m beckoned to an empty voting machine. The poll worker takes my paper, queues up the machine, and pulls up the Republican primary ballot. Moment of truth. He tells me that if I have any questions about the ballot, just ask. Then he steps away. I am left alone to cast my vote in private.

TCA (Tennessee Code Annotated) 2-7-115(b)(2) states, “A registered voter is entitled to vote in a primary election for offices for which the voter is qualified to vote at the polling place where the voter is registered if: (1)  The voter is a bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote; or (2)  At the time the voter seeks to vote, the voter declares allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and states that the voter intends to affiliate with that party.”

Even though the woman took her oath, declaring her allegiance to the Republican party, regardless for how long, her vote was still denied. And it has opened up a floodgate of outrage, on both sides of the issue.

I scroll through the pages of the ballot, making my choices with care. I double check everything when I get to the end, then press the red button. My vote has been cast.

“All done?” the poll worker asks, as he hands me a sticker that reads, “My vote counted!”

“Yes,” I reply, attaching it to my shirt. “Thank you.”

So the questions remains. Does Tennessee have an open primary or not? Why was this one woman singled out and denied a right to vote for her candidate, when so many others, myself included, were allowed to vote without challenge? Why would a candidate in danger of losing his seat — a Republican candidate who has voted in Democratic primaries in the past — urge friends and relatives to challenge the legitimacy of other voters?

This is a clear-cut case of voter intimidation and discrimination. Which, hopefully, appears to be back-firing. I do believe we shall see the result of this disastrous action after the polls close on election day, Aug. 5.

I hurry out the door, exit the building, walking past the gauntlet to my car, feeling a sense of accomplishment. I had successfully infiltrated the Republican party to vote for my candidate of choice, without challenge.

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Speak Amuriken!

Tennessee has problems. The state ranks fourth worst in the nation for adult hypertension and adolescent obesity. Nashville is still trying to recover from the devastating floods that caused over $1 billion in damage and killed more than 30 people. And to top it off, we were recently ranked as the No. 1 most corrupt state in the union.

But what are our lawmakers worried about? Not our health. Not rebuilding our capital city. Certainly not our schools.

Grammatically correct English not necessary.

Nope, our lawmakers are busy making “important” laws, such as bills SB2753/HB2685, which would let companies require that their employees speak English.

Typical right-wing politics, pandering to the loud vocal majority instead of concentrating on issues that could make a difference.

This is a nonsensical, unneeded law. If you want your employees to speak English, then why are you hiring people who don’t speak English? And if you didn’t do the hiring and find out one of your employees can’t speak English, then let that employee go. Not the ethical thing to do, to be sure, but if you’re that concerned about the language barrier and employee safety, fire them. Tennessee is a right-to-work state. You don’t need a reason to fire them.

Just what is this law supposed to accomplish? Once passed, do employers magically expect their non-English-speaking employees to suddenly speak “American”? I’ve said it before, but some people apparently have a hard time realizing that learning a new language is not instant potatoes. A non-English speaker may have the desire to learn English, but it takes time.

But that doesn’t really matter. Again I ask, why are you hiring non-English speakers if you want your employees to speak English?

So while the legislature tackles such hard issues as language in the workplace, guns in bars and banning sex toys, Tennesseans are still trying to find jobs, educate their kids, clean up flood damage and hope they don’t get sick along the way.

Stay classy, Tennessee.

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Habla ingles?

Oh here I go, getting political again. My apologies. But I saw something on the news this past week that pissed me off.

A barbecue restaurant in Oliver Springs has decided to use their sign for political statements instead of advertising the latest dinner special. The sign reads, “We believe in God. Speak English. Love our country. If not, leave.”

Give me your tired, your poor, but only if they speak English...

Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, what really ticked me off about this jerk, Tom Evans, was his statement to the camera as he stood in front of his sign, “We’ve got the greatest country in the world. All these people come from somewhere else. We didn’t ask them to come. And it’s not singling out Latinos or anybody. If you don’t like it here, just leave. Don’t change our country.”

Well gee, Mr. Evans. I’m sure the Native Americans didn’t ask our European ancestors to come into their country and change it either.

Evans continued, “If you come to America, you should be American.”

…huh?

I do agree that those seeking to live in the United States need to seek legal avenues in order to do so. But just because someone immigrates to the U.S. doesn’t mean they’re automatically integrated into American culture and language.

That comment made me really incensed for my mom, who has lived here for nearly 41 years, never been in trouble with the law, worked diligently in her job and paid her taxes… and she is not an American citizen. She doesn’t have to be an American citizen if she does not want to. She is here legally. She loves America. But she doesn’t have to be a citizen.

Evans also said, “I’m tired of picking up a can of something and having to read my side.”

Aw, I’m so sorry that you have to take 5 seconds out of your day to find the English bit on the side of a box or to press 1 on the telephone. It must be such a hardship.

Maybe it’s just me. But seeing things written in English and in Spanish (and occasionally French) does not bother me. I like languages. I challenge myself sometimes to read the Spanish side on a product to see if I can understand it, even though I never took Spanish in school. I rather wish I had.

I have to wonder if Mr. Evans is one of those people who would complain bitterly if he traveled outside of America and nothing was written in English. I know I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how much English there was in Japan. I think I would have been lost if the Japanese hadn’t been so welcoming.

The beauty of America is that we don’t have a national language. It should show that we’re a country who welcomes people of all nationalities, whether as residents or as visitors. But it seems like our culture is becoming more and more xenophobic, to the point of near-rabid hatred to anything or anyone who is different.

I think it would be in the best interest for those moving here to learn English, but that takes time and resources and English isn’t the easiest language to learn. It’s not instant potatoes. Folks still have to be able to live and function and if having instructions to a product written in two different languages on the packaging makes life a little easier for those who have taken this giant leap of faith by moving to a foreign country, then I don’t mind a bit.

I thought we were supposed to love our neighbors, not belittle and scorn them.

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Divided we fall

I dislike talking politics. Mostly because I tend to get too emotional and I’m afraid someday I’ll lose my cool and beat someone’s head against a wall for sheer idiocy. I’m a hard-left liberal Democrat and proud of it. But I’ve tried hard to not talk politics, especially lately. Especially after a certain incident with a former friend that I will not go into, but still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I did not want my blog to be a bitch-blog. I have my locked-down LiveJournal for that.

HOWEVER.

You right-wingers who are so hung up on stupid things like birth certificates. You make me angry. You make me want to stab things. You make me weep for this country.

President Obama was born in Hawaii. Get over it. President Obama is a natural-born citizen. It does not matter that his father was not. Get over it. He is our rightful president, elected by the people (which is more than you can say for the last guy).

Get over it.

And you. You morons. You so-call “Christians.” Shame on you. Shame on you for joining groups like the one of Facebook called “DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN.” Praying for another human being’s death?

You make me sick.

This is why I want nothing to do with your religion or your party. This is why our country is so divided right now. Instead of entering into a realistic debate over how to solve the problems of our country, or even just praying for our leaders to find a way out of the mess we’re in, you pray for the president’s death? Really?

Grow. The fuck. Up.

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Why I am against the death penalty.

I wanted this blog to be light-hearted, writing about things in my life in a positive (and perhaps a little humorous) way. But it just doesn’t seem to be happening. So I’m not going to worry about it and just write about what I want to write about.

Like the death penalty.

A heavy topic, to be sure, but I’ve never been sure what to think of the death penalty. Until now.

Recently, in Knoxville, several trials are under way for four individuals who kidnapped, raped and murdered a couple out on a date. I read the reports of the conditions of the bodies. I’ll spare the details, but what those two poor kids suffered was horrendous.

The first man on trial for the murders was found guilty, but the jury returned a life without parole sentence, rather than the death penalty, which the families of the victims wanted. I’ve never lost a loved one to murder, but I now know that I can never be for the death penalty either. I don’t think killing someone who took someone else’s life is the answer. It’s sure proven not to be a deterrent.

What brought me to this conclusion was a story I read on The New Yorker’s Web site this morning, “Trial By Fire.”

It tells the story of Cameron Todd Willingham, a man who was convicted and sentenced to die for setting fire to his house while his three young daughters slept inside. He refused to plead guilty to the crime, which would spare him the death penalty. He was executed by the state of Texas in 2004, maintaining his innocence right up until the end.

And, as it now turns out, he was telling the truth.

New evidence shows the fire was an accident. Willingham didn’t murder his daughters, but the state murdered him. And this is why I am against the death penalty. It has been said that it is better than ten guilty persons escape than one innocent be convicted. And I agree. I believe it is better that all those found guilty of murder be sentenced to life without parole than one innocent person be put to death for a crime he did not commit.

To me, a life without parole sentence is a death sentence. They’ll never have a normal life, but rather one behind sterile walls, fences and barbed wire. It costs much less to house one inmate for life than it does to put them to death. And our justice system is far from perfect. From the story:

The modern legal system, with its lengthy appeals process and clemency boards, was widely assumed to protect the kind of “error of justice” that Mill feared. In 2000, while George W. Bush was governor of Texas, he said, “I know there are some in the country who don’t care for the death penalty, but . . . we’ve adequately answered innocence or guilt.” His top policy adviser on issues of criminal justice emphasized that there is “super due process to make sure that no innocent defendants are executed.”

In recent years, though, questions have mounted over whether the system is fail-safe. Since 1976, more than a hundred and thirty people on death row have been exonerated. DNA testing, which was developed in the eighties, saved seventeen of them, but the technique can be used only in rare instances. Barry Scheck, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, which has used DNA testing to exonerate prisoners, estimates that about eighty per cent of felonies do not involve biological evidence.

In 2000, after thirteen people on death row in Illinois were exonerated, George Ryan, who was then governor of the state, suspended the death penalty. Though he had been a longtime advocate of capital punishment, he declared that he could no longer support a system that has “come so close to the ultimate nightmare—the state’s taking of innocent life.” Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has said that the “execution of a legally and factually innocent person would be a constitutionally intolerable event.”

I cannot imagine what Willingham went through during this nightmare of an ordeal. First to lose his children, then to lose his own life because of inept investigating and the desire for a quick conviction. Please read the entire story. It’s 17 pages long, but I believe we owe it to Mr. Willingham to read his story, so that perhaps it might never happen again.

After all, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

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