Politics

Memo To GOP: Never Forget — Ignorance And Fear Generates Votes

One local Facebook user said there were 300 currently available jobs in Preble County. The user based the claim on a Indeed job search, but the user did not take the time to look at the listed jobs — or their location. An October 7 Indeed search revealed there are 101 jobs currently advertised in Eaton (the county seat), 96 of those jobs had an annual salary estimate of $15,000. But even the 101 number is incorrect because included in that list are Border Patrol jobs for the federal government, a Chief of Police job for Sylvania Township, Ohio and a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, to name just a few inaccuracies. Also, some of the listing are repeated (for example the same Water Meter Installer ad appears on the first three pages of listings and three positions at Henny Penny are duplicated).

Framing Issues Just Like In The 80s

I’m amazed at the slanted information that filters onto social media.

Although Sanctuary Cities aren’t much of an issue in Ohio’s 8th Congressional District they were Warren Davidson’s pressing concern this week. His Tweet, with its xenophobic and racist undertones, implies the need to protect our (white) girls from darker-skinned gang members.

Davidson is correct in one aspect, though, Ohio has a rape problem.

He’s just framing it immorally.

Selling Fear

The day before Davidson’s Tweet, in my hometown newspaper, a rape was reported with a story line that is significantly more common in Ohio. Victims are raped by someone they know.

The suspect, who was convicted and is scheduled to be sentenced next month, was a resident of a small, rural town on the southern end of Preble County — a county that is 97 percent white. The 49-year-old man was convicted of raping his daughter’s friend — a 20-something who, after a night of drinking, decided to ‘crash on the couch’ at the friend’s house where the father also lived.

No gangs. Just a 49-year-old man with predatory behavior — a demographic and behavior that is much harder to politicize.

Just a few weeks earlier, in Eaton, another man — about the same age — tied up a 90-something-year-old female relative, stealing her vehicle, just a few blocks from my home. After being apprehended by the Eaton Police Department, the suspect escaped the cruiser while handcuffed — and within 24 hours was accused in the stabbing of another Preble County resident.

Again, no gangs — just a white American male.

What Would Ted Nugent Do?

The Tweet — with its nod to the infamous Willie Horton ad from the 80s — is troubling on many levels, but it comes in a week where the GOP has attacked women’s reproductive rights while intentionally ignoring action on gun violence. After the horrific incident in Las Vegas where roughly 600 people were shot by a high-powered assault rifle from the 32nd floor of a hotel — negating the possibility of a CCW-armed individual neutralizing the situation — the GOP proved its political approach is woefully out of whack with the leadership the country needs.

But some of their fans are egging them on.

I see this on Facebook since I live in a Red Zone. We love our guns more than liberty, and Facebook lit up with people justifying their 2nd Amendment right to arm themselves. They quoted Teddy Nugent and Pat Robertson to justify their position — all the while ignoring the context that the 3rd Amendment brings to the debate.

God Help Us

Part of our inability to stave off nefarious Tweets or solve problems like gun violence is an exploitation of social conservative beliefs. Many good, church-attending people in my community are convinced that only God can solve our problems — effectively removing human accountability. One Preble County resident, commenting on the Las Vegas shooter, said,

‘There is no way to figure out who these people are until it’s too late.”

Besides shutting down public discourse (since there ‘are no solutions’), as Redneck Liberal Trea Crowder points out, there is a level of hypocrisy in the statement. Crowder says, this is not the response white people have when a person of color fires the weapon. It is not the response they have when non-Christians fire the weapons. And, as Crowder also points out, other countries have found workable solutions.

For some, though, none of this matters. It’s easier to do nothing. It’s the reason ‘thoughts and prayers’ resonates with many here and throughout the country — a naïve belief that God’s will usurps authority over intellect — and we just need to trust Him to solve our problems.


Passive Americans

Preble County church.

After mentioning a local church’s response to Colin Kaepernick’s protest in a recent post, I listened to the minister’s argument. It boils down to: how would it look to children if we disrespect the flag/anthem? It’s a weak argument coming from an organization (Southern Baptist) that supported a man who bragged about sexual assault and called Kaepernick a son of a bitch. Besides, Southern Baptists may not be a moral authority on race relations since they owe their inception to slavery.

But, more importantly, Kaepernick’s protest could teach children that people have an obligation to denounce systemic racism or that the First Amendment was penned for situations like police accountability.

It is the story of Elijah the minister references, though, in his ‘kneel or stand’ sermon that offers a stronger clue to why communities like mine lack the skills to problem solve.

In the story, a destitute and hungry prophet Elijah, survives because God instructs birds to daily deliver food to him. This is accepted as a literal act of God — not a Aesop-type fable — but real birds delivering real food to a real man.  Elijah does not solve his hunger problem, the solution exists outside of him.

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Categories: 8th congressional district, Life In A Red State, My America, Politics, Preble County | Leave a comment

Is Ohio A Cesspool Of Hate, Fear And Ignorance?

Steve Newman, a Clermont County native, gained fame for walking the globe between 1983 and 1987. He details the trek in Worldwalker. Newman picked a good time to walk, Ohio’s unemployment rate in 1983 was 12 percent. Ronald Reagan was two years into his first term as president.

Roughly a week after Charlottesville happened, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer, my wife, dog (Versa) and I spent the weekend hiking in a Ohio state park in Clermont County. As we traipsed through the woods we were not disappointed, spotting deer — including a large buck that ran across the trail five yards in front of us — a gaggle of turkeys and two water fowl I’ve never seen (possibly King Rails).

On Saturday evening as we read inside our tent before falling asleep — the calm and quiet of the evening was interrupted by a loud truck barreling down the main entrance with its occupants yelling ‘white power.’

As the rebel yell pierced the night, it was a sign of where we are as a nation. Current polls suggest 65 percent of Americans believe hate and prejudice have increased since the November, 2016 election.

Childhood Friends, Family

We have 35 hate groups in Ohio — ninth in the nation. The man accused in Heyer’s death (James Fields) is, of course, from Ohio as is Daniel Borden, accused in the racially motivated beating of DeAndre Harris.

When I browse Facebook it’s easy to understand how we arrived at this place. In my part of the world, and Borden lives about 30 minutes south of me, fear and ignorance are the foundation too many build their worldview on. For example, a childhood friend, who attended the same church I did, posted a meme from an organization that views liberals, like myself, with disdain. The site revels in dividing the country into red versus blue — with the reds being the ‘good guys.’

One of their memes, promoting a odd-looking wrist decoration, says:

Send the liberals running for the hills with our handmade Six Shooter Leather bullet bracelet.

I’m not sure what ‘fearful’ liberals they are targeting with the text because I would be more apt to mock an individual childish enough to wear such a ridiculous looking bracelet — a leather bracelet designed to hold six bullets. But, I do wonder how someone taught the same brand of Christianity as me arrived at a place in midlife where they view the rhetoric as healthy or sensible.

How did they get to the point that threatening — or implying violence — toward a fellow citizen feels natural, Christian, American or humane? Do they live in a constant state of fear, convinced that someone, like myself, is hell bent on destroying them or the country? What information does one have to consume — and how long must they consume it — before they feel this type of statement is normal (let alone ‘Christlike’).

Another individual posted a ‘I’m proud to be white,’ meme apparently oblivious to the atrocities committed by our race. This particular individual also posts a lot of Native American ‘wisdom’ memes making me wonder if they have read any American history.

History Is Not Holy

My first realization that the past is a toolbox and not a pedestal came while I was researching my paternal line. I was looking into the life of Jesse Claywell, a War of 1812 veteran, who also served in the Black Hawk War (Illinois). As I researched the Black Hawk War, I came to understand three things about the white settlers that fought in it (including Jesse Claywell).

  1. They were thieves. They willfully stole the property of Native Americans.
  2. They were cowards. In the first ‘act of war’ the white settlers, significantly outnumbering the Indians, retreated.
  3. They were murderers. After successfully driving the Indians out of the region, they trapped a handful of escaping women, children and elderly crossing the Mississippi River. The white soldiers engaged in a ‘turkey shoot’ shooting the retreating Indians in the back.

Not much to revel in if you’re proud of simply ‘bein’ white.’

Let Freedom Ring

A ‘persecution complex’ meme loses some of its momentum when Christian is misspelled. But one local gatekeeper is convinced that the struggle is real.

Just a couple blocks from my home, the Confederate flag flies in front of two houses. This is in Ohio, a state that was in the Union, a state that lost more than 35,000 men to the war. It is the state that produced Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman.

I’m doubting the owners of the Confederate flags know their state’s role in the Civil War. They are undoubtedly more interested in ‘their right’ to fly the flag, than in Ohio’s history. Preble County has a significant population with ties to Kentucky and Tennessee, so I’ll let Tennessee comedian Trae Crowder set the record straight on the flag. In his book, Liberal Rednecks — written with fellow comedians Corey Ryan Forrester and Drew Morgan — Crowder says,

The flag issue (unlike the flag’s defenders) is a little more nuanced than you might think at first, but, regardless, the flag is done. There’s no getting it back. There’s no repairing its image. It’s irredeemable. Any possibility of the flag ever being seen as a benign symbol of regional pride vanished forever on June 17, 2015, the day of the hate-fueled massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Political Hate

Some of the hate, though, is being pushed down into our society. Members of the Trump team have definitely validated it. Recently, political operative Roger Stone, a Trump confidante and champion, went after Senator John McCain on Twitter after McCain denounced Trump’s decision to pardon sheriff Joe Arpaio. Stone said,

Karma about to get you, John McCain, and you will burn in hell for all eternity.

Stone who, like Jim Bakker, said a civil war would occur — and implied that members of Congress lives would be at risk — if Trump was impeached, has a long history of unsavory tactics.

But it is the words of support from evangelicals I grew up with that I find even more troubling. I expect Stone to be an evil POS, but Christians are applauding Trump’s decision to pardon a man who oversaw ‘Tent Camps.’ One hundred and sixty people died in those camps.

One evangelical, commenting on Arpaio’s pardon (and not the deaths), wrote:

Illegals aren’t American citizens. I am very happy about this!

The comment makes me wonder if I was given a alternative version of the Bible to read when we attended church together. The statement, at the very least, puts an ill-conceived national interest over a humanitarian one. My inner cynic finds the statement completely understandable had a politician said it. I understand why Trump pardoned ‘Sheriff Joe’ — it’s cronyism 101. They are fellow ‘birthers.’

But, it’s an unfathomable position for a person who follows ‘the Prince of Peace.’

Afterthought

After browsing Facebook the past couple of weeks, I do understand Gandhi’s viewpoint on Christianity. He said,

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

Categories: Life In A Red State, maga, My America, Politics, Preble County, Understanding Trump Counties

‘Giant of the Senate’ Infuses Hope, Humor Into Our Collective Political Nightmare

Al Franken, author of Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, is currently serving his second term as U.S. Senator from Minnesota. He is a multi-talented man who entered politics in 2008 after more than 30 years as a satirical writer and comedian.

This is his seventh book.

In Giant, Franken does the impossible — he turns our current political mess into an enjoyable story — one that even offers some glimmers of hope. This is especially true in the way he ends the book — written after Trump’s inauguration and Trump’s slew of race-baiting and immigrant-hating comments. Franken tells the story of some of the Somali refugees that reside in Minnesota — showing how they easily assimilated into the various communities, bringing with them a strong desire to thrive.

But, before the Somali stories of hope (and others sprinkled throughout the book), Franken offers a very realistic view of what its like to be a U.S. Senator. He details his recount in 2008, the money-grubbing members of Congress do to remain in office, and the various tactics he used on the campaign trail to throw off the GOP tracker.

The book, though, also shows the difficulty legislators face if they truly want to do their job and legislate. One telling example was his desire, after meeting with a vet suffering from PTSD, to get more service dogs paired with veterans. Franken, after researching the concept (or as he will readily admit, reading the research provided by his staff) sponsors a bill to fund broader research. Although the bill was passed relatively quickly in his political career, the research is just now being conducted because of all the various agencies involved and some false starts when the project launched.

All Those Liars

Franken, who made a name for himself before entering politics by taking on GOP politicians, writing books making fun of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and George W. Bush, had to put his humor on hold when he entered the Senate. And, his approach in politics, for the most part, is considerably different than his comedy. It’s more workhorse and less showboat. But, that does not mean he shies away from calling out the worst of the political bunch — like Ted Cruz and other members of the Tea Party.

He reserves some very good one-liners for them.

Big Ideas

Franken, a very well read Harvard graduate, is a deep thinker and strategist. Although Giant is an easy read, Franken does explain, in depth, some of the complicated programs — like the Affordable Care Act — with enough detail that a lay person can understand the logic of the legislation.

But one of the concepts that resonated with me was not Franken’s — but rather a writer he quotes, Jonathon Rauch.

Writing about our current political mess, Rauch states that many Americans just do not get politics and, in an effort to understand it, lump all politicians into the same class — presuming that the fault in Washington is spread out evenly between parties. Rauch calls these people ‘politiphobes.’ And, Franken, quoting Rauch writes,

They see the contentious give-and-take of politics as distasteful. Specifically they believe that obvious, commonsense solutions to the country’s problems are out there for the plucking. The reason these obvious solutions are not enacted is that politicians are corrupt, or self-interested or addicted to unnecessary partisan feuding.

But as Franken explains, folks did not come to this position without assistance — and he is more than willing to explain who created the perception.

Rated: 5 out of 5. This is a very readable — and fun to read — book. It could serve as an entry-level book to those wanting to better understand our political system.

Categories: Books I have read, Politics