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Monday, April 30, 2012

Twitter, some whiner tattled on @ChrisLoesch...

Last night Twitter banned @ChrisLoesch. What did he do? He had the *audacity* to stand up for his wife when a few jerks threatened her (simply for having an opinion, mind you) with rape and death and other unpleasantness.

The banning was not a response from Twitter moderators - rather, it was an automated response triggered when people mad at Chris for defending his wife pressed the "tattle" button. (block/report as spam)

This whole situation paints a pretty clear picture of what's going on out there today:

 Everyday, conservatives like Dana who dare to express themselves vocally get bombarded with threats, insults, and all manners of name-calling.

Generally those threats are issued for no other reason than a simple political difference of opinion.

If that conservative doubles down and defends himself/herself with facts and logic, or if someone else responds in their defense, the threats get worse.

So why is it that conservatives get banned more often than their attackers on sites like Twitter? Simple.

When conservatives get attacked, they stand their ground and defend themselves. They don't go running to Twitter and whine about it.

When their attackers are confronted with truth/logic/rational defense, they run and tell someone bigger, who can fight the battle for them or make it go away.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time to Change Horses

We are all accustomed to infighting and arguing within our own party, especially during a highly contested primary season. But as Andrew Breitbart said at CPAC, the time has come for conservatives to rally, to join forces, and to win.

I know it can be hard to align yourself with a candidate that isn't your first choice. Personally, I liked Fred Thompson in 2008 and Rick Perry in the beginning of this primary, so I know from experience how hard it can be when you are forced to change horses. But I also know how stupid it is to refuse to change horses when the one you're riding has broken a leg.

 In light of that, I ask - no, I beg - that you stop insulting my intelligence (and your own) by calling yourself a conservative if you have ever made either of the following statements:
"If ___________ is the Republican nominee, I will vote for Obama."
"If ___________ is not the Republican nominee, I will vote for Obama."

Most often, I have heard this statement made by people who are either dead set on or dead set against Ron Paul. He is a very polarizing figure, to be sure. Most people either love him or think he is insane. Some love him AND think he is insane.

But the point is this: if you are a true conservative, you recognize the fact that at this point *anyone* would be better than another four years of Obama. I personally think that even Hillary would be preferable to another four years of Obama. I'm a little dismayed that she didn't primary him, actually. But whether or not you love Romney (and I don't), it's not difficult to see that he would be far better for America than Obama. If you are willing to vote for Obama to punish the conservatives who disagreed with you in the primary, then you have lost your claim to conservatism.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Memorial

Last night I lost my maternal grandmother. Just like in the movies, all I could see after I heard the news were little pieces of her life as I knew it - a virtual montage of the memories that made Shirley Trevor Stephens real to me.

I remember the roses by the rec room door, and how we used to pick the buds and pretend they were lipsticks. How cross she would get when she realized her roses weren't blooming because we were picking them before they had the chance.

I remember the raspberry bush behind the garage, the lilies of the valley that grew between the stones on the pathway around it. I remember taking a plastic bucket with me to pick raspberries so grandma could make jam, and the look on her face when I came back with a pittance in the bucket and guilty red fingers and lips.

I remember the breakfast table when Uncle Scott was home from college and Grandma frying eggs. I remember the English muffin bread, the homemade raspberry jam, and the ham salad that she made despite the fact that no one wanted to touch it.

I remember mornings in Ocean City, how she'd roll over in bed and "harrumph" if one of us peeked in too early to go walking with Grandpa. I remember coming back from the walk (and breakfast at Tony's 34th Street Grille) to a second breakfast with grandma before we spilled out onto the beach in our bathing suits.

I remember making "necklaces" with a needle and thread and grandma's expansive button collection. I remember trying on all of grandma's costume jewelry.

I remember the stories she told us about the time one of the boys got up at night and tinkled in the closet, or the boy who got into the bathtub fully clothed. She rolled her eyes when she talked about how Scott hated it when his feet got sandy at the beach, or the time my mother threw up on the attic stairs right after grandpa painted them.

I remember the year she moved to a smaller house with fewer stairs in a community with better (closer) medical care. I remember the night she called to ask if I wanted a box of my mother's old dolls. When I asked which ones, she replied, "Oh, I don't know. They're just old dolls. Some of them are missing arms or heads." I suggested that she call my sister and see if she might want them.

I remember the first year I saw her in Ocean City with a wheel chair. The pillow that she used to occasionally carry to sit on was never out of reach. She walked only when necessary, and almost never without help.

I remember the way she reacted when her hearing started to fade. She would insist that her hearing was fine, that it was everyone mumbling that was the problem. She told me I talked too fast (possible) and that I wasn't loud enough (highly unlikely). When she missed things in conversation, rather than ask for repetition or admit she could not hear, she would take a guess at what had been said and continue speaking as if she knew what the conversation was about. Watching her try to have a conversation with grandpa (who is also hard of hearing) was a task for the extremely patient.

I remember the last time I saw her, just two months before she passed. I brought her pictures of my children (her great-grandchildren), and she shuffled through the stack of six photos three times, each time looking at each photo as if she had never seen it before. There was a massive purple bruise on the side of her face from the most recent time she had fallen out of her bed. "I'm so glad you're not afraid to hug me," she said when we helped her to her car after dinner.

Through the sadness of her loss, I also remember these things: at 33, I have friends who have already begun to bury their parents. I have been blessed to be able to introduce my children to a great-grandmother who was able to physically hold them as babies and who had the mental capacity to recognize them to the end.
My grandmother was also blessed. She lived to be 88 years old, and made use of every one of those years. She was the first woman on my family tree to get a college education, and while at school she met my grandfather. They had five children who gave them 12 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren in her lifetime. She attended concerts and had dinner with close friends in the last weeks of her life. And when she took her last breath, it was in the company of her husband of 67 years, her youngest son, and two of her grandchildren.

Shirley Ann Trevor Stephens: January 6, 1924 - April 22, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mr. President: How Dare You?

This past week, the Presidential campaign has gone to the dogs. After the Obama campaign worked around the clock to stretch the Romney-family-dog-rides-on-the-roof-of-the-car story to fantastic lengths, the Romney campaign responded with comments about the President's dog-eating days in Indonesia. True to form, the Obama campaign insisted that Romney's actions thirty years ago were more relevant than his. A campaign spokesman even tweeted, shocked, that anyone who would use the dog-eating incident in a campaign was attacking a child, given the fact that at the time, President Obama was likely between the ages of 6 and 10.

I am usually annoyed by the statements that come from the White House or in defense of something the President has done or said. I am occasionally rendered speechless, or overwhelmed with incredulity. But this time I am angry.

So Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt thinks that I am attacking a child if I talk about Obama eating dog?

I'm sorry, but where does anyone associated with the Obama Administration get off telling me what constitutes an attack on a child? My children will spend the rest of their lives paying for the disastrous policies Obama has implemented since taking office. They will have fewer family vacations than I did because his policies necessarily cause energy and gas prices to skyrocket. They will have fewer choices when it comes to higher education because of his manipulation of the federal student loan program. They will be saddled with massive tax burdens to cover the damage already done by the implementation of Obamacare, even if by some miracle it is declared unconstitutional or repealed before further damage can be done. They will work their entire lives to pay for this generation's Social Security and Medicare needs, knowing that the programs will likely go belly up before they are able to collect their own benefits. They will be far less likely to be able to afford the luxury of a single-income family, since they will be forced to pay for those who do not contribute to society. The regulations imposed by the Obama Administration may even bring about the end of the family business, leaving them with little inheritance (they'd have to give the government half of that anyway) and less of a future.

And let's not even discuss the thousands of children who will die because Obama's stance on abortion and his insistence on continued funding for Planned Parenthood...

Obama ate dog. So what? How dare he tell me THAT is an attack on a child? That petulant middle-aged "child" now lives in the White House and vacations worldwide on my tax dollars. My children will spend their lives recovering from the series of attacks he has unleashed in his three years as President. If they can.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

St. Charles County Caucus, Take Two: More questions than answers

If one were to simply listen to Jamie Allman and the interview he did this morning with Brent Stafford, one might believe that Stafford last night pulled off the greatest coup in Missouri Caucus history.

On March 17th, during the originally scheduled St. Charles County Caucus, chaos reigned. Ron Paul supporters, led by Brent Stafford, circulated lists of proposed caucus rules among the 2000-odd attendees. They failed to inform attendees that the papers being handed out were not the official rules, or even that there were official rules which had been posted at least three days prior to the caucus on the Missouri GOP website. They then continued to facilitate confusion by drowning out caucus organizer Eugene Dokes when he tried to bring the meeting to order, contesting everything from the previously posted rules to the proposed caucus chair. Some charged the podium where Eugene Dokes stood, causing the off-duty police officers who were present to provide security to confer with Dokes, resulting in a premature end to the caucus. Everyone was told to clear the area. Brent Stafford, upon being directed by police to leave the area, instead went to the Ron Paul supporters outside and told them to stay and attempt to reconvene the caucus. He was subsequently arrested, along with one other, for trespassing.

Flash forward three weeks to last night’s caucus, and take an objective look at what happened:

A rules committee was convened last week to set temporary rules governing the start of the caucus. The fact that there were preset rules was one of the main points of contention at the last caucus, but since Stafford and some of the other Paul-backers made up the committee this time, they seemed to have fewer problems with the new preset rules.

The memory of the last chaotic caucus (which some attendees felt threatened their physical safety) combined with the loss of Rick Santorum as a candidate dropped attendance at St. Charles to less than half its original attendance. (just over 900)The question is how many of the 1200 or so who did not come back stayed home because their candidate was out and how may stayed home because they were afraid of another near riot?

Brent Stafford, according to this morning’s interview, was the indisputable choice for caucus chair, winning an easy victory after his nomination. Reality reminds us that the vote count was 480-402, with some abstentions, and his opponent was the default chairman appointed by the state GOP just to get things rolling. There was also a motion to recount the vote and count the abstentions, which was later defeated.

Jamie’s main comment on the whole thing was that through superior organization and a knowledge of how to work the system, the Ron Paul supporters were able to win the caucus. If you read between the lines, what he is actually saying is that Ron Paul’s people are so adept at manipulating the system that they are able to win caucuses even though they don’t have anything close to a majority.

The indisputable fact is that Ron Paul took all of the delegates from St Charles last night. But questions still remain:
1) 
  Should Brent Stafford, after being arrested for basically inciting a riot at the last caucus, have been banned from attendance of this one? Was he allowed in simply to avoid a costly lawsuit? Was caucus attendance down in part because people knew Stafford was involved and were afraid of a repeat performance?
2) 
  If Santorum had not dropped out of the race, would more people have come to the caucus, possibly allowing for the selection of a different chair?
3) 
  Should Brent Stafford and the Ron Paul supporters be congratulated for a “win” that only came about due to their sabotage of the first caucus and the fact that delaying a few weeks was enough time for the only other legitimate candidate to drop out?
4) 
  How can this caucus be counted as an accurate measure of the voting preferences of the county of St. Charles (which Santorum won handily in the primary – along with every other county in Missouri) when it is likely that the events at the prior caucus constituted voter intimidation, causing voters to stay home for fear of their own safety?
5) 
  How can Missouri voters be expected to make informed decisions about events such as this when the people giving the radio interviews allow their own political preferences to color the way they present the available information?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gary Stein: Why We Can't Ignore His Story

Marine SGT Gary Stein is set to be discharged "other than honorably" from the Marine Corps. A long time affiliate of the Tea Party and Obama critic, Stein posted on his facebook page recently that he would refuse to follow any unlawful order given by the President.

This should be a non issue from the start, since all military members swear upon entrance to the service that they will uphold and defend the Constitution and protect the United States from enemies, both foreign and domestic. They do not pledge their allegiance to the Commander in Chief, but rather the nation as a whole. While it is generally not an acceptable practice for soldiers - particularly while in uniform - to speak in such a way as to be insulting to the office of the President, military members are afforded the right to speak in opposition to political ideas, parties and officials provided they do so in a respectful manner. Soldiers are also not permitted to campaign for candidates or to even appear at rallies while in uniform to avoid giving the impression that the military as a whole supports a particular candidate or party.

Gary Stein, by posting his comment on a Facebook page, was well within his rights. He did not accuse President Obama of giving an unlawful order, nor did he suggest that one was pending. He did not address the President with any disrespect, rather he simply repeated the oath he swore in with, saying that if an unlawful order was given his responsibility was to the Constitution and the United States rather than to the President. He did not stand up at a political rally in uniform, demanding that other soldiers disregard the President. He simply sat at his computer in the comfort of his own home - perhaps even in his pajamas - and exercised his First Amendment right to speak his mind.

The reason this is important is that the First Amendment is only superficially about free speech. Sure it SAYS that Congress shall not abridge the citizen's right to free speech, but the meaning is much more subversive. What the First Amendment protects in regards to speech is dissent, and speech that may be judged as offensive. There is no need for the government to protect the individuals's right to freely praise elected officials or to say things that everyone else agrees with, because no one would ever try to restrict that kind of speech. Protection is only necessary when it is the kind of speech that someone might want to stop. The reality is that the First Amendment guarantees Gary Stein's right to suggest that the President is capable of issuing an unlawful order, whether he is serving in the military or not, whether the President likes it or not.

But this is bigger than Gary Stein. This is bigger than the Marines. This is a test case to see just how much intrusion into the personal lives of military members the general public will accept.  Four years ago, while stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, I met a soldier who had received an Article 15 (the same administrative punishment that is given to soldiers who receive DUI's) for owning an Obama bobble head. He was told that it was considered "disrespectful to the President." However, in the years leading up to Obama's election, soldiers who openly opposed George W. Bush were given a much wider berth.

The reality is that if the military allows Gary Stein's dismissal over this, they will have opened a door that will be very difficult to close again. Where will it stop? How much free speech is too much for the military to have? Will it be considered "disrespectful" if active duty soldiers donate money to candidates who are running against the incumbent Commander in Chief? What if they have the audacity to vote against a sitting Commander in Chief?

Soldiers are in a unique position, in that they are not permitted to leave their positions over a disagreement with the boss. The soldier who fundamentally disagrees with the President may be asked to take a bullet for him, and he does not have the freedom to turn down the job. The soldier knows that, and he agrees to that when he signs his first contract and takes that first oath. Would you also take away his right to help bring about change in the very administration that asks more of him than of any other citizen?

We should all be fighting for Gary Stein, because if his right to speak freely can be taken, so can the rights of all military members. If the rights of military members can be taken, then so can the rights of all government workers. And after the government workers, the general population.