Political and cultural opinion. Intelligent posts. Angry rants. Shock and dismay.


Conservatives Do Not Support Our Troops

One of the greatest lies in recent history is that Republicans “support our troops”.

Republicans have consistently tried to cut or minimize support for the VA. Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General, once referred to the VA as “an entitlement" that "we cannot afford”. The VA was desperately underfunded to deal with the influx of wounded veterans from the second Iraq war, but Republicans fought against increased spending. When democrats briefly gained control of congress, they increased the VA budget twice in two years. Republicans in the senate later blocked a bill to increase spending to help VA backlog for medical care. The bill would have cost less than Trump’s border wall, and 10% of what we pay each year in corporate welfare, but the Republicans said we could not afford it.

It is not just veteran’s healthcare, but protecting and supporting our troops in general. The Bush administration sent our troops into the second Iraq war with inadequate body and HUMV armor, and rather than demanding we rapidly address the issue, instead Rumsfeld famously justified, “You go to war with the army you have…”. During that war, profiteering for Dick Cheney’s old company Haliburton/KBR led to soldiers being injured by poorly built facilities – facilities that were lower quality and more expensive then facilities built by the army. Bush’s stop loss policy forced our soldiers to remain in the service past their commitment and return to the warzone again and again.

Yet, for nearly two decades now, whenever anyone questions use of military force, they are called “weak” and told they are “not supporting our troops”. Liberals have allowed this lie to be spread, and too many Americans have accepted this lie and repeated it.

Sending our troops to a poorly planned or pointless war is not supporting them, it is betraying them. Yes, we should be proud of our troops and support them (the soldiers, not the policy) no matter what war they are sent to; but we not only can, but must, debate military policy.

The Iraq war cost over 4,000 American lives and led to over 30,000 of our soldiers to be wounded. It cost our country over two trillion dollars. Because we did not have a plan to stabilize the country after victory, it led to a country that is a weak ally and a source of terrorists, extremists, and insurgents. And this was not a country that was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Afghanistan was that country, and our more justified actions in Afghanistan were weakened by the drain of the Iraq war.

Yet, we could not debate the war, because doing so was “unpatriotic”. Those of us who wanted to save the human and financial cost of an unnecessary war were practically called traitors. Those of us who supported intervention in Afghanistan instead of Iraq were similarly shamed.

The weak and pathetic Democrats of the early aughts were so afraid of appearing unpatriotic that few of them stood up against the needless war and needless losses of our troops. Things are not much better in 2017 – Democrats generally offered only measured criticism of Trump’s Syria attack.

Another travesty committed by Republicans against our soldiers is attacks against the military records of former soldiers. They have done this to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Most recently, Donald Trump – a man who dodged military service in Vietnam – criticized John McCain’s record, despite McCain’s history as a hero and a prisoner of war. Previously, John Kerry’s military service was questioned. These men served. They deserve our thanks and respect, no matter whatever else we think of them. Period.

I am a liberal who has donated to veteran’s charities, and who stops to thank our soldiers. I consistently support spending for veterans’ benefits. Whatever I think of a war, I always support our soldiers. How many of the flag-waiving conservatives who say I am “against our troops” for questioning a war can claim to have argued or voted for veterans’ benefits or given their own time or money to help veterans? Not enough.

I have two veteran friends that will go on a tirade about “liberals not supporting our troops” almost every time any liberal policy comes up. It is not that they have information that conflicts with my points. They are just so convinced that the left is anti-veteran and anti-soldier that they won’t even have a discussion on the subject. They vote for people who then refuse to fund veterans benefits because those people say that they “support veterans”. It is a lie that hurts veterans and our whole country. Beyond the damage that it does to veterans, it causes weak liberals to feel obligated to support poorly planned, ill-advised, or illegal military actions rather than be called anti-military – whether it is Obama’s drone strikes or Trump’s expensive and ineffective Syria attack.

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Liberals and Media Lose Credibility on Syria

In the wake of Trump’s cruise missile attack on Syria, conservatives have done a better job criticizing Trump’s actions than liberals and the media. Once again, the media is falling all over itself calling Trump “Presidential”.

Most Democratic politicians have released “measured responses”. Most are critical only because of lack of congressional approval, not critical of the attack itself.

Democrats did this in the second Iraq war. They are so damn afraid of seeming unpatriotic that they tacitly support whatever ill-thought out military adventurism we engage in. Military actions have broad costs and consequences. We need to be thoughtful, if not cautious, in our use of military power.

It is not that challenging Assad is a bad thing. Assad is a murderous dictator, and I would love to see him removed – just like Saddam Hussein – but look at the mess we made in Iraq. We did not have a plan to stabilize the country or to deal with the sectarian divides in the country, and because of our failure, Iraq remains unstable and a source of insurgents.

Things are even worse in Syria, because ISIS and Russia are also involved. Fighting in Syria risks conflict with Russia. I would also love to see us challenge Putin, but how do we do that without it escalating into a global catastrophe? If we could remove Assad, the risk of a resurgence by ISIS that would also further destabilize Syria and Iraq is huge.

I am not saying we should not act. I am saying that if we act, we need a coherent plan for the attacks and the consequences, and I am saying we need international support for dealing with the problems that follow.

Personally, I do not believe this is about Syria at all. Trump didn’t care about Syrian children being murdered when he banned the U.S. from accepting Syrian refuges. Trump informed Russia of the attack, and it appears Russia informed Syria, because personnel and equipment were removed from the target area before the attack. We intentionally did not use cratering bombs that would have destroyed the runway. The airfield that was targeted is already being used by Assad to launch more attacks against his people.

This was not an effective attack. It was a media stunt to distract us from Russiagate and the general mess that is the Trump Presidency. It worked, because major Democrats and the media responded to it like fools.

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Trump's Troll Army Isn't Ready for War in Syria

This is a series of philosophical conflicts in which it is impossible to take sides. The alt-right attacking Trump? Trump versus Assad and Putin? It's easy to want to take a side against terrible people. In this case, they are all wrong. Don't get tricked into taking sides. Resist Trump. Resist the alt-right. Stand against murderous dictators and Russian imperialism.
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Former DNC Chair who Resigned for Undermining Sanders Campaign Now Criticizing Sanders

You may remember Wasserman Schultz as the DNC chair who had to step down because leaked emails revealed that she and her staff actively conspired to undermine the Sanders campaign and insure that Clinton won the Democratic nomination.

The controversy chased away grassroots Sanders supporters, some of whom voted for Trump in protest. The media coverage of the scandal hurt the Clinton campaign beyond those lost voters.

Worse, a lot of us believe that Sanders had a better chance to defeat Trump than Clinton. Change voters in the middle of the political spectrum went for Trump, because they saw Clinton as a "business as usual" politician. Many would have voted for Sanders, given the option. Young and liberal voters who were inspired by Sanders were uninspired by Clinton. Sanders is a vastly more inspiring speaker, and he likely could have stoop up to Trump more effectively. Wasserman Schultz was the leader of the underhanded efforts to play favorites for the mainstream candidate that ensured Sanders' defeat.

So, Wasserman Schultz help handed Trump the election in two ways, yet she has the nerve to criticism Sanders for encouraging the sort of grassroots action that worked for him in his campaign? Someone with this much lack of decorum and responsibility for her actions belongs in the Trump administration.

She is a great example of much of what has been wrong with the DNC that has helped put the Republicans in power. She represents uninspiring, party-line politics without passion or vision, and is part of a political evolution that has made Democrats appear too mealy mouthed and politically correct for moderates, and yet too status quo to inspire liberals.

She owes Sanders, the Democratic party, and the nation an apology - not more attempts to work against Sanders regarding grassroots voters.

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Sexist Views in the "Pro-Life" Movement Cause More Abortions

Making abortions illegal does not stop abortions. Statistics show outlawing abortion barely reduces the number of abortions; it just makes them more dangerous to the woman and the fetus. The abortion debate is more about lifestyle and views about woman and sexuality than about babies. Here are some questions to test the actual motivations of abortion opponents:

  • Do you support access to contraception?
  • Do you hold men equally accountable for unwanted pregnancies?
  • Do you support public education about birth control, pregnancy and disease?
  • Do you encourage medical research to prevent the 30% of all impregnated eggs that self-abort?
  • Do you support medical care for pregnant women, which prevents birth defects and miscarriages?
  • Do you do anything to help women who choose to go through with an unplanned pregnancy?
  • Do you also try to do anything for newborns who are dying of disease and starvation?

Someone who is “pro-life” who can’t answer yes to some of these questions, is not pro-life. At best, they are anti-abortion, and at worst, they are anti-woman or anti-sex. Neither women nor sex the deserve scorn.

Improving access to affordable birth control and public education about contraception will prevent more abortions than outlawing abortions, but abortion foes fight these alternatives. Why? Because it is more about legislating sexual morality than it is about babies.

Much of the conservative movement is “morally” opposed to premarital sex and casual sex. I think it is immoral to judge or discriminate against people for their sexuality. We disagree, but here is something conservatives just need to realize:

You can’t stop people from having sex.

Shaming, discrimination, harassment, and attacks do not, and will not, stop it. In societies where people are killed for pre-marital sex, homosexual sex, and adultery; people still do it. People will die to love the person they want to love. People will risk discrimination, punishment, and death to express their sexuality.

Therefore, if you want to stop abortions, stop attacking sex and reproductive rights, and start working to fight unwanted pregnancy. Doing so has the added benefit of reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Society at large, particularly conservatives, and especially conservative men, seem to blame women for sex, “sin”, unwanted pregnancies, and rape. It takes two people to create an unwanted baby, and despite the sick and horrible things some conservatives say, a man forcing himself on a woman is never “her fault”. We don’t say that murder is okay, because the victim was “asking for it”, but almost every time a woman is raped, there is always some jerk wondering if she “deserved it”.

Statistically, men pressure women for sex dramatically more than women pressure men for sex. Statistically, men pressure women to have unprotected sex much more than women pressure men to have unprotected sex. Compare the numbers of women who rape men to men that rape women. Rapes by women are so rare they are not statically significant.

The gender that is most responsible for unwanted pregnancies is men. Still, we shame women and put the responsibility for dealing with the unwanted pregnancy almost exclusively upon women.

If pro-lifers really wanted to “protect innocent babies”, they would ante up and make sure that those innocent babies have proper healthcare during the pregnancy and for the first years of life. An all-male group of Republicans, almost all “pro-life” tried to eliminate prenatal and maternal care from healthcare coverage. This is hurting innocent babies by taking away the care they need to thrive, and completely contradicting their alleged motivations in the abortion debate.

No one likes abortion. Pro-choice people see it is the lesser of two evils, and generally do not see an early term fetus as a “baby” or a “person”. The two sides aren’t going to ever agree on that issue, but if abortion opponents would stop being sanctimonious about sexuality, we could dramatically reduce the need for and number of abortions.

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Compassion: Taking Food Away from Old People

Mick Mulavney described eliminating federal funding for Meals on Wheels as "compassionate". The program feeds 2.5 million elderly people each year, and is very successful. It is not the sort of "entitlement" program that can be accused of "rewarding laziness" or "keeping people down". It just helps people who physically and financially cannot feed themselves well. 500,000 of the people fed by Meals on Wheels are veterans.

Meanwhile, the Trump family, with weekly trips to Mar-a-Lago, security for Melania in New York, and covering Donald Jr. and Eric's business trips is on pace to spend more than $300 million tax payer dollars this year. The tax payers paid $100,000 for hotels for the Trump sons for a single business trip.

Trump used to criticize Obama for his vacations. Obama's security cost just over $100 million for his entire 8 year term, or about twelve million per year. The Trump's are spending about twenty-four times as much as Obama.

Many of the successful programs that Trump wants to eliminate have a cost to the tax payers not much more than Trump is wasting on his and his families lifestyle. The Office for Violence Against Women and PBS could both get their 2/3 of their funding from Trump's excessive travel budget.

Conservatives keep claiming they are "compassionate" by cutting programs that help the poor, the sick, the disabled, children, and the elderly. They say any programs that help people are "making people weak" or "keeping people down". That argument can be made for programs like welfare, and that may or may not have much validity, but extending the argument to programs like healthcare or taking care of the elderly is an outright lie. No one is getting is being "kept down" by Meals on Wheels; people who could not get healthy meals otherwise are being "kept fed".

I have a suggestion. If spending money on people "makes them weak and soft", let's start with the Trump's. If Melania wants to stay in New York -- which I understand; what woman in her right mind wouldn't want to be as far away from Donald as possible? -- then let the Trump's pay for it. Let the Trump boys pay for their own hotel rooms and those of their security details when they go on business trips. Heck, why pay for a security detail at all. It makes them weak! Let the spoiled rich brats man up and learn to take care of themselves abroad. It's "compassionate".

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Conservatism is Not the New Punk

Conservatives keep saying, “Conservatism is the ‘New Punk’”. Nonsense. Conservatives have their soundtrack. It is country music, Christian rock, and Ted Nugent. Punk is generally pro-freedom, anti-corporate, anti-war, and pro-equality. Conservatism, now usurped by the alt-right, is the antithesis of these ideals