Is the Democratic Party the New Home for Conservatives?


philly-city-hall-flagI think I found the bright side to Donald Trump. This election has left Conservatism as the only political philosophy not really represented. Even the Bernie Bros have a lot of their biggest concerns represented in the newly minted Democratic Party platform. But real Conservatives? Who speaks for them?

I (and others) am starting to think it’s the Democratic Party.

People keep talking about how this Donald Trump candidacy is reshuffling traditional party allegiances into  a never-before-seen arrangement. And yet, watching the Democratic National Convention speeches last night from Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, and especially Barack Obama, it looks like a reemergence of the blue collar, Southern Democrat.

Maybe, rather than a reshuffling, there is a course correction: a return to politics as it was prior to Nixon, Goldwater, and Johnson. Perhaps (dare I say?) this is actually a moment for normalization of American politics?
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How’d We Get Here?: An open letter to my Republican friends (gov’t shutdown, day 2)


kilroyart-Im-just-a-BillHey, Republican friend.

Yeah, I’m writing to you. Not to the pundits or the politicians (not that they’d read this anyway), but you: the everyday Joe (or Jane) that considers themselves a Republican, who reads these headlines about the government shutting down and wonders how it got here and whether or not the people you most agree with are actually at fault here. This post is a long one, but hopefully it’s a helpful one.

But first let me say that, on a grand scale, I’m with you politically. I consider myself a center-right pragmatist. I think the government should be dedicated to very few things, the private sector should be utilized whenever possible, and that States–rather than the federal government–are the greatest laboratories for democracy and the greatest vehicles of government to their people.

But there’s a bigger context to this showdown that I fear is getting lost in all the noise. Everyone seems to be focusing on a series of events in the past month or so that led to this, but it actually goes back a little further than that.

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A Christian Pacifist’s Lament for Syria, with help from Quakers


Godwin-untitled-sketch-bw-cropped

{summary: Though I consider myself a pacifist and consider force as something that goes against the Kingdom of God, I feel that governments, because they are not the Kingdom of God will always fall short of that and have a necessary level of sin in them. And so, for the sake of a greater good, I would not speak against my government using military action in Syria (though I wouldn’t say I’d explicitly “endorse” it).}

As many people have been doing, I have been snarkily criticizing President Obama’s pursuit of making an attack on Syria. It seems too pointless, too risky, too naivetoo counter-productive, and too lonely. I had felt sadness over the plight of Syrians, but while the rebel forces are over-run by Islamic radicals and terrorist groups, I haven’t thought that empowering, arming, or making their victory certain was better in the long-run. (If you need a refresher on the details of the Syria situation, this is a great one.)
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Adventures of a social worker on election day


Today is one of my proudest days as a case manager, as I’ve been able to assist several of my clients in voting today. Sitting down with them, helping them find their local polling place, driving to the center, walking them through the ballot and the voting machines, and then watching them vote has been amazing. I wanted to share a conversation I had today with (as we’ll call him) “Chris”. He’s grown up well-within poverty his entire life in the roughest neighborhoods of Philadelphia. He’s been in the mental health system since he was very young, with a mind full of voices and confusion.
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My 1 Domestic Policy Suggestion for the President


Earlier today, I posted my 10 suggestions for changes the President should make in our foreign policy. Now, I want to offer the one thing I’d ask to change about our domestic policy.

But first, why only one thing? Not only do I think that our legacy and history is far more shaped by foreign policy, but to me, these domestic issues are a lot less certain. I hear great arguments on all sides for all of these issues. Countries all over the world have prospered and waned in both high and low taxes, in both high and low employment, and in both bigger and smaller government. There’s simply no inherently “right” way to run a nation. And so, to me, the best thing we can change domestically is systemic rather than particular. So what’s that one thing?

Steal Britain’s brilliant idea and institute “President’s Questions” here in the States.

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Town Hall Debate: what would your one question be?


Update: I’ve written some specific reflections on the debate last night.

Tuesday was the second Presidential Debate of the 2012 election. We’ve had one Presidential and one Vice-Presidential Debate so far, both of which were traditional debate formats. This debate, though, was a “Town Hall“-style debate in which the candidates walked freely and spoke to a small studio audience that encircled them as they took their questions directly from audience members. They did not know the questions beforehand, but as the years have gone on, the Debate Commission has limited both the ability to have back-and-forth exchanges with the audience members as well as the follow-up role of the moderator, giving them far more space to dance around the question with no accountability (these changes were put in place after Clinton devastated Bush in this exchange in 1992).

This got me thinking: what if I was there, and I got one shot to ask them one question. I’ve had my fair share of complaints about both candidates (and their running mates), so boiling all of this down to one question that would both be difficult for them politicize and address the most issues I’m concerned about was difficult, but this is what I came up with:

Mr. President and Governor: as a social worker, I’m taught that the goals I make with my clients should be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Using this criteria, could each of you, in terms that are not cliched, rhetorical, or abstract, tell me what the goals of the War on Terror are, and what would represent the end and accomplishment of that War? Thank you.

What do you think would be their answers to this question? What would be your question? (And how do you think they’d answer?) Sound off in the comments below, and tune in at 9pm tonight for the debate.

[image credit: AP photo, from an article at The American Prospect]

I almost voted for Obama, but then I remembered…


[Updated below]

Having neglected my favorite columnist and favorite podcast as of late, it was easy to forget. As I said in my post about almost voting for Romney, I let the Conventions sort-of sweep me up. I swore I’d never give in, but oh those sirens were such smooth-talking mistresses.

First, as I mentioned last week, the big shift for me towards Obama was Clinton’s speech at the National Convention. I thought it was amazing. But, this speech ended up being not as factually accurate as it sounded. And (speaking of how it sounded) as Dan Carlin said (as I was finally catching up with his podcast), this speech was only our generation’s introduction to the kind of politician Clinton’s always been. This was simply vintage Clinton, and I admit, I developed a little man-crush.

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I almost voted for Romney, but then I remembered…


[Updated below]

[Update II: I have a companion post up about why I’m not voting for Obama either.]

I’ve got to admit it. The Convention knocked me off of my game. For a brief few days, I was being wooed by the scripted politi-fest of the Republican National Convention. I ended up listening to Paul Ryan’s speech live on the radio (on NPR, no less!) after a long day at work, and for some reason, I really resonated with it.

I started thinking, “Hey, I know they are jerks, and immature, and arrogant, and reactionary, and obstructionist, but I could maybe sort of think about thinking about thinking about voting for these guys!” (Clint Eastwood notwithstanding.)

But then a few things happened. First, this 8-minute dismantling of the Republican National Convention (and the GOP generally) by Jon Stewart. Brilliant. (If these Hulu clips ever expire, you can find the clips at the Daily Show website at the alternative links below.)
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Domestic Tranquility (in memoriam of 9/11) | {story#7}


This is an original fiction piece written for StoryADay September. Read more & follow here.
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I come from a long and distinguished line of men committed to defending this great nation from whatever attacks may befall it. This has been an honor and privilege for my family’s name for many years, even though it has brought it’s fair share of heartbreak to us.

For several generations now, my family has heralded from New York City and it’s surrounding areas. Nearly a hundred years ago now, my great-grandfather, Frank Crawford, fought in the Wars both in Korea and Vietnam: two of the greatest military victories our undefeated nation has ever seen. In both conflicts, my great-grandfather witnessed the violence and atrocities that were perpetrated against our forces with such cavalier brutality that it threatened to break our will. But, as is true of the American Spirit, we persevered to victory. And this was in spite of all of the proto-terrorist uprisings happening all over the nation on college campuses.
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Obama’s War on the World (and Americans) vs. the War on Women


No, this isn’t a full post (I’m still not blogging). Just wanted to vent. A week ago, a damning piece of journalism was published in the New York Times. Or at least, it should have been damning. It was a piece by Jo Becker and Scott Shane on Obama’s free use of, and unilateral decision-making authority in, Executive “kill lists” against those he uses secret intelligence to deem as “threatening”, including American citizens. Times editors, commentators, and blogs were writing about this all last week.

And nobody cares.

I was shocked that this article made barely a ripple in the media, the blogosphere, the twittersphere, facebook, and our societal conversation in general. As others have wondered, have we really let this nation go this far down this path, that it no longer phases us? These actions by Obama are a neo-conservative’s wet dream, and liberals don’t want to–under any circumstances, it seems–criticize their guy whom they, perhaps, feel is the “lesser evil”. After all, it’s an election year.

But what does phase us as a culture? What causes the blogosphere and editorials to go crazy? A New York Times article about a tech lawsuit with this golden opening line: “Men invented the internet”. (It also has a few other gender offenses.)

Is this article insensitive and silly? Yes. Should it be talked about and criticized? Yes. Is there consistent inattention and inaction given to the needs, abilities, rights, and presence of women in our national story (and Church)? Absolutely.

But is this “War on Women” worse than Obama’s War on the World, our civil liberties, and American citizens themselves? I challenge you to answer that yourself.

(And once again: no, I don’t consider this blogging.)

David Brooks on “Centralization” [REBLOG]


Great post by this philosophy professor in New York whose blog I follow. He points out the hyperbole and absurdity of a recent David Brooks article. I like a lot of the things Brooks usually says, but this is a little ridiculous.

I like the sound of Brooks’ eventual conclusion of “centralizing goals” but “decentralizing processes”, but how he describes what this might look like in health care ends up looking awhole lot like the Affordable Care Act.

Samir Chopra

On May 23-24, 1865, the victorious Union armies marched through Washington. The columns of troops stretched back 25 miles. They marched as a single mass, clad in blue, their bayonets pointing skyward.

Those lines, dear reader, are the openers of a David Brooks article about the “centralization” of power in Washington via the “Obama health care law” (whose official moniker is “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”). “Obama health care law,” then, in the next sentence or so, becomes just plain “Obamacare.” Another sentence or so later, as Brooks commences a four-step listing of how “Obamacare” has “centralized” Washington’s authority, we are told about how “Obamacare centralizes Medicare decisions — and the power of life and death — within an unelected Independent Payment Advisory Board.”

At this stage, I am eight paragraphs through this seventeen-paragraph missive, and thus far, I’ve been exposed to civil war imagery, Obamacare, and the…

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“What if George W. Bush had done that?” (Opposites Coming Together) [Casual Friday]


Firstly, let me formally introduce “Casual Friday” posts. After all the seriousness in my posts on theology, politics, and such through the week, one could get the impression I can’t have any fun. Well, not so. Whenever I’m able, I hope to take Fridays to write up shorter, casual, and generally more light-hearted posts to talk about news, technology, entertainment, food, or whatever. Probably, it’ll mostly be me sharing some of my favorite things with all of you. Enjoy.

I subscribe to a great service called Summify. It analyzes my social feeds and gives me a reading list each day of the articles that my social graph has most-shared (don’t get too excited. It just got bought by Twitter and they will be shutting down the service shortly).

Anyway, in my email a couple of days ago, there was a link to this great article by Josh Gerstein showing both the (negative) similarities between Bush and Obama, and the blatant and (at times) comical hypocrisy of those that have hated/loved those respective men.

And what do you know? According to the screenshot above, this article was recommended by both Uber-Progressive Glenn Greenwald and Uber-NeoConservative Karl Rove (this was confirmed by each of their tweets). There could not be two more different men coming together to promote the same political article.

But anyway, the article is great, and if it was good enough for both of these guys to recommend it, then it should be worth all of our time and consideration. And as you do, remember all the things I’ve been saying. Like I said then: I promise, I’m not crazy. Other people are saying these things too.

Weekly Must-Reads {3.7.12} | abortion & Obama’s abuses


In light of the recent birth control controversy, there’s been a revived discussion about abortion and the “personhood” of babies, especially after a paper justifying the aborting of newborns was published in a major journal. Also, in response to rising criticisms for how the Obama administration has abused their seizure of Executive power to pretty scary levels, Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, gave a speech [transcript] at Northwestern University on Monday defending the administration’s actions. Today’s articles deal with these issues.

Grab some coffee, and let’s go.

__________

__________

HIGHLIGHTS

The New Scar on My Soul | American Thinker

If you read nothing else from this post, please let it be this. I found myself crying in the middle of the coffee-shop I was in as I read this. Please, anyone, help give me a reasonable framework from which to respond to this. I need something beyond empty rhetoric, powerless outrage and sadness, and unrealistic policy aspirations. And also, please, if you find yourself on the pro-choice side of this, I would love your thoughts on this topic after reading this post. I’m really struggling here.

The Obama Administration and Targeted Killings: “Trust Us” | Council on Foreign Relations

Such a good article giving a brief–yet substantive–analysis of Holder’s speech and how it holds up to legal, moral, and common-sensical scrutiny. Please read this. Also, for a very comprehensive (yet fairly brief and easy-to-read) summary of the history and background of this all-important topic and its relevance today, CFR put together this Backgrounder.

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For now, I’m a one issue voter: a President’s Day lament {Pt.1}


“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty…is finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people” — George Washington

[UPDATEPart 2, “some responses & clarifications” is now posted.]

[UPDATE II: Part 3, “specific abuses of Executive Power” is up]

America’s Founding Fathers consistently referred to our country as a  “grand experiment”, and on this President’s Day–and good ol’ George’s birthday–I want to meditate on this for a little bit. What was (is?) so “experimental” about America?

There seems to be a repeated  “life-cycle” to nearly every great power in the entire history of the world. In the beginning of most of these nations, the “power” and authority is more or less decentralized (perhaps in a localized, tribal, or feudal system–or in our case, States).

Over the course of time, though, this “power” becomes increasingly centralized: first, into one part of society (usually to the wealthy and their businesses), then it gathers into one part of the government, and then it continues onward until it is ultimately centralized in one person.
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10 Random Thoughts on the State of the Union


1- I really wish the entire idea of teleprompters would die a quick, painful death. I would much rather get back to the days when Presidents wrote out their speeches and had sheets in front of them during the speech that they were speaking from, rather than reading from.

2- I’ve got to admit it, Mitch Daniels did pretty darn good in his response. It was a very refreshing change in style from Paul Ryan and (oh my god) Michele Bachmann last year. It still had a definite ideological twinge, and still sounded more like a stockholders meeting where the executive must, under any circumstance, talk about how good their company is and how weak their competition is, no matter the results or numbers. But in the end, it was far more thoughtful and intelligent than anything else the Republicans have put out in the past few years, even if it was completely devoid of real, genuine suggestions on moving forward on anything.

3- The media is already painting this as a speech primarily about wealth disparity. First, he talked about a lot more than just that, and secondly, he proposed nothing more radical than letting temporary tax cuts expire for them. Wow.

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