Sick and tired of the usual, grueling day-to-day coverage of the US presidential election? Yeah, me too. Yet there are still 10 days to go until the watershed election day..

 Besides the repetitive email scandals on one side and gross sexist, racist rambling on the other side, there are still challenging issues and fascinating stories. 7Days2Vote is a project that aims to tell those stories and document what individual voters care about. 2 friends are road tripping through the Eastern and Southeastern states and taping interviews with voters. The videos will be released successively during the 7 days leading up to the election (hence the name) and I’m really excited about the project. The project is mainly German, but the twitter feed and the videos will be bilingual.

Full disclosure: I run the twitter account @7days2vote and Daniel is my younger brother 🙂

Because of his position, disposition and bipartisan popularity, Judge Garland has been on Mr. Obama’s shortlist of potential nominees for years. In 2010, when Mr. Obama interviewed him for the slot that he instead gave to Justice Elena Kagan, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, said publicly that he had urged Mr. Obama to nominate Judge Garland as “a consensus nominee” who would win Senate confirmation.

Obama to Nominate Merrick Garland to Supreme Court – The New York Times

Now the ball is in the Senate’s hands. I’m afraid that the GOP is dysfunctional and contrarian enough not to debate and confirm Mr. Garland, just out of spite. This might get messy, just like the race for the presidency.

Cruz: Letting Muslim Syrian Refugees Into The U.S. Is ‘Crazy’

The junior senator from Texas, born in Canada to a father who immigrated from Cuba in the 1950s, is the latest GOP candidate to claim that a significant number of those fleeing from a civil war are actually sleeper terrorists.

For what it’s worth I think that rhetoric like this is neither democratic nor Christian and breaks with the Bible and the Geneva Convention. Abhorrent and dangerous political posturing.

Cruz: Letting Muslim Syrian Refugees Into The U.S. Is ‘Crazy’

While it should not surprise us that a man who once, in complete earnestness, said “[f]reedom is about authority” thinks all forms of organized dissent against law enforcement are illegitimate, we should be shaken and concerned by the complete lack of pushback from other elite Republicans that Giuliani’s comments received. Despite the fact that nothing — absolutely, positively nothing — the president said in response to the turmoil in Ferguson or the outrage in Staten Island could be reasonably construed as even tacitly endorsing violence, no high-profile GOPer even tried to scold “America’s mayor” for his brazen claims. In spite of the fact that Giuliani’s comments could only make sense if you accepted a racialized and erroneous subtext (black protesters and president vs. white police), no Republican publicly disagreed. And when Erick Erickson, predictably, brought Giuliani’s insinuation to the surface, saying Obama “does not like the United States,” the silence remained.

Let the record show that you can be a United States senator of 29 years, you can be 71 years old, you can be the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and one of the most recognizable and most widely respected veteran public servants in your nation. But if you are female, while you are also all of those other things, men who you defeat in arguments will still respond to you by calling you hysterical and telling you to calm down. They will patronize you and say they “admire your passion, sweetie,” but that of course they only deal in facts—not your silly, girly strong feelings. It is inescapable; you can set your watch by it.

Rachel Maddow, criticizing Ted Cruz for his reaction and lecture to Dianne Feinstein’s about her thoughts on gun control (via wardowedidit)

Ah yes, calling women hysterical, the classic tool to try and silence women. Pathetic in the past, really pathetic today.

Paul Ryan and Dignity

Paul Ryan, former running mate of Mitt Romney and still Representative for Wisconsin’s 1st district, spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday. He elaborated on his war view on the poor. Paul Krugman quotes two striking passages. First, on dignity:

 “The left is making a big mistake,” Ryan predicted. “What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. People don’t just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity, they want a life of self determination.”

I’m sure poor people want a life of dignity, so maybe not shame them for having to accept assistance to fulfill the most basic needs? Sure, many people (who mostly can afford more) call Kraft Mac & Cheese a “comfort food” but that doesn’t make feeding yourself on such cheep basics a “life of comfort." 

Thanks to his wife’s money and good tax-payer funded pay as a Representative, Ryan’s stomach is quite full, yet I’m not so sure about his soul. He has this to say about free lunches at school for children: 

“He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids,” he continued. “He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.”

First off, there are a lot of things kids don’t want in one moment that are reasonable and help them in the mid- to long-term. Like math.

The anecdote is terrible. One reason for the kid’s feeling could be the shaming of poor people by politicians like Rep. Ryan that is handed down via the parents to the boy’s class mates, who continue shaming, bullying him for needing assistance. Another reason might be that the child, growing up in an extremely materialist society, has learned that love is expressed through material things, and feel unloved because his guardian can’t afford material tokens of affection. Maybe his parents really have issues, and do not show love towards their child.

It all sounds like a solution must lie in helping both the exemplary kid and parent. There are myriad ways to go about this (better wages for the parents, teaching that love mustn’t only be expressed through material, strategies against bullying, better assistance for struggling families, family therapy ..) but taking away what little the kid has isn’t one of them. 

You don’t magically start floating when someone pulls away the security net, Representative Ryan. You fall further down.

Update: Turns out the anecdote was bullshit anyway, further showing he’s the worst.

Familiar Tactics

In Mary Hershberger’s essay on the involvement of women in the opposition to the Indian Removal Act, I found this description of his political strategies:

“Andrew Jackson, who viewed politics primarily  in terms of mobilizing a narrow electorate around its economic self-interest,  charged that removal opponents objected to removal only because it threatened their access to federal money forIndian schools. After the Indian Removal Act passed, he summed up his own sentiments by saying that "thus far we have succeeded against the most corrupt andsecrete combination that ever did exist.” He placed any blame for injury to the Indians on the antiremovalists.“ (p.33)

Arguably, President Jackson would be at home in the current Republican House of Representatives with these tactics. Of course, Jackson would be confused why his Democratic party elected an African as President. (Jackson was a Democrat at the beginning of the modern democratic party; a Democrat before the progressive switch in the party happened in early 20th century.)
I’d also like to share Herschberger’s conclusion. She has this to say about President Jackson and the growth of democracy in These United States:
Whether Andrew Jackson’s presidency fostered  an increase in democratic participation may be debated, but credit for an enlarged democracy may accrue to him by default, for his determination  to carry out Indian removal generated the deepest political movement that the country had yet witnessed.  It also ushered in a new age of popular politics that saw energized antiremovalists  transfer  their techniques of 
removal protest to the struggle  against slavery: massive and continuous pamphleting and petitioning by both women and men, persistent reports in periodicals that sought to present slavery from the perspective  of the slave, and a willingness  to challenge laws that they believed were deeply unjust.
Today liberals (and to a certain degree progressives and actual leftists) in the US are stuck between chairs: The radicalism, fundamentalism in loud and influential parts of the Republican party needs to be vehemently opposed, especially on a state level,  yet it is not that simple to come up with an effective voice of dissent when you control the U.S. Senate and the White House. 

Bring It.

In the midst of this US government shutdown, some statements by House Republicans show where the real problem lies. From the New York Times: 

“We’ve got a name for it in the House: it’s called the Senate surrender caucus,” said Representative Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas. “Anybody who would vote for that in the House as Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger.”

So what? Not to be over dramatic, Representative, but you would not do something that would prevent damage from your country, because it would mean you won’t have your reelection just handed over to you? Because you’ll have to fight for it? Win actual arguments? Rally actual grassroots support? What kind of a politician in a democracy are you?

That connectswith a thought I’ve had during this whole shebang: Where are the moderate, less fundamentalist Republicans? This should be a rallying cry for them. This demise of the GOP (just google recent approval polls) is mainly caused by anti-government extremists from the Tea Party and similar groups. Apparently they are the vocal minority in the party, ruling over the primaries, which is why everyone and their strategists is so afraid of them. They can dominate the primaries because they’re the largest group to show up.There must be many ‘moderates’, many Chris Christie-type Republicans, who just don’t show up on a grass roots level, who don’t make their less extremist voices heard. Who might not agree with (my) liberal politics but who don’t agree with holding their country hostage either. 

How about showing up to the fights instead of giving in. Isn’t that an American value, GOP?