GOP Governor Christie: The Next Republican President

With the death of beloved-liberal Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey, there’s a gaping opportunity for Republican Governor Chris Christie to not only seize control of his future in New Jersey, but to seize leadership in a political party that is desperate for sanity.

Thus far, Christie seems to battle with Tea Party members as much as far-left Democrats. There’s no doubt in my mind, that the slowly-growing plague in the GOP is the Tea Party. They are a polarizing, fanatic group of people that probably cost Mitt Romney a stay at the White House.

There are 315+ million people in this great country, and although I’m not one of them, a very large majority is religious. The overall sentiment, however, is that in a growing population of the country religion is decreasing in the political arena. What people do for an hour or so on Saturday and Sunday is slowly decreasing in importance to their every day lives.

Though abortion is still (and probably always will be) a hot topic, other issues such as prayer in schools/public places or euthanasia tend to get brushed off on a national level. It’s just not considered as important as taxes, education, war and domestic security. If Washington D.C. were to hold a press conference and Barack Obama and John Boehner were to walk out and tell the country: “We can stop terrorism forever if we remove ‘In God We Trust’ from our currency if you all vote for it,” the result would be a landslide victory.

The Tea Party and other ultra-conservatives, on the other hand, refuse to recognize this and insist that their voices not only be heard, but also be the trumpets of the Republican party. Well, they shot themselves in the feet and then stuck their feet in their mouths. The issues of women’s health and abortion drove a wedge within their own party, and all the Democratic opponents had to do was point to the headlines.

Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana likely got the final push he needed because Richard Mourdock made the mistake of saying rape was God’s wish (Were his words out of context or twisted? Likely- but it was too late). Representative Todd Akin botched an easy win by calling some rape “legitimate”. Akin’s situation got so bad that his own party asked him to step down; he refused and promptly gave up an important senate seat to the Democrats.

What does this have to do with Governor Christie? I’ll tell you.

Senator Romney refused to get involved in all the controversy. Romney, who, by gaining the nomination for the Republican Party, became the leader of the GOP and was nowhere to be found. The GOP has no leadership. It has a handful of influential people who love the spotlight but can’t bring the party together.

Michelle Bachmann, Ricky Rubio, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal…where are they? They’re supposed to be the next wave of Republican talent. They’re supposed to be shoe-ins for the 2016 nomination. But they rise and fall when put under the national spotlight. They focus on wedge issues that only ultra-conservatives want to talk about.

Where’s Governor Christie? He’s working with the democratic President of the United States to reinvigorate the Jersey Shore. He’s working with democrats and republicans alike to expand gun control in the state. He’s friends with the democratic Mayor Cory Booker from Newark.

I’m not saying the guy is a secret liberal, quite the opposite; he has a lot of policies that I do not agree with. What he is, however, and it should scare democrats, is rational (despite his sometimes irrational outbursts). He’s something the GOP hasn’t seen in a long time. He compromises and crosses the aisle. He does what needs to be done for the people of America, not just the people who pay him the most money.

Now, Christie has the opportunity to fill a very loyal, liberal seat in the United States Senate until a special election can be set up. Christie can seize this moment and fill the seat with the presumed winner- friend Mayor Booker. Booker was already the leader for the democratic nomination and it could prove to the state and the nation that Christie is a realist and respects his opponents if he doesn’t always agree with them.

That said, he could appoint a GOP replacement to Lautenberg and give that man or woman a fighting chance to defeat Booker in the general election next June. But defeating a well-received Booker will be difficult in a generally liberal state and there’s more at stake here. If Christie appoints a republican and that person loses the general election, he could have alienated himself from moderate democrats that could look for more of a centrist in the upcoming Presidential election.

By nominating Booker now, and basically handing the democrats their own senate seat, Chris Christie could further endear himself to a growing population of Americans that are sick of the extremist politics occurring across the nation. He could unite the middle of America that is begging for rational, central leadership, particularly from the conservative side.

Especially if former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton stays out of the 2016 elections, both parties could be struggling to find a new leader for the White House. Christie could be that person for both sides of the aisle. IF he plays his cards right.

Democrats Should Not Re-elect Nancy Pelosi

It’s about much more than track record.

It’s about much more than how much she loves the President.

This past election, the nation overwhelmingly shouted to our government that we are not going to be taken hostage by the Christian fundamentalism portion of the GOP platform. The GOP was painted (and let’s be honest, they held their own brush) as exclusionary and divisive. Their policies polarized the nation and especially alienated the more moderate voting block who wished for a more fiscally responsible government but weren’t willing to sacrifice their social and moral beliefs.

Many of us celebrated on November 6th, but there was another underlying message amid the gloating: the GOP must do better at working with Obama and the Democrats.

That should not be a call to only half the House. The Democrats have to extend a better hand across that aisle than Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi, over the last two years, has been just as polarizing as John Boehner.

In fact, the GOP should think about switching that face as well.

If we as a people are asking for a new, nicer government, one that works together to create a better nation then they owe it to us to give us better, more productive leadership within their own walls.

I don’t want two stubborn mules hurling words at each other. I don’t want congressmen being forced to pick sides based on the color of their tie. I don’t want congress being stalled because the other side came up with the idea.

That starts at the top.

I don’t know who will run against Pelosi, though at this point it seems no one will.

In her announcement, Pelosi spoke of working together. Well, Ms. Pelosi- you are one of the reasons the GOP stopped working with the Democrats. You are reviled by the opposition party (the MAJORITY party). How, by you staying in the leadership position, are you helping that cause?

Her untouchable seat from California allows her to be so staunch. She has no legit opposition in local elections.

We need someone who relies on the independent voter to be elected. We need someone who can draw respect from both sides of the aisle and all the seats in between.

If the Democrats are serious about asking the GOP to work with us for the next four years and into the future, then we need to show them that we’re willing to work with them as well.

That starts with a new face at the top.

Confessions of a “Bleeding-Heart Liberal”

Forgive me, Uncle Sam, for I have sinned.

It has been over a decade since the last time I was forced to go to confession.

I have a confession to make, Uncle Sam: I’m a liberal. But before you sentence me to hell, I’m not a  hippie or a hipster. I don’t chain myself to trees or own a Velcro wallet. I don’t pour red paint on fur or eat veggie burgers or drink PBR.

I do, however, believe in helping the needy.

I do not believe that welfare and unemployment benefits should be accepted by bars and restaurants and other frivolous businesses.

I believe that reading books and attending a liberal arts college does not make me an elitist, it makes me educated.

I believe that reading about all religions, not just the one thrust upon me, makes me a moral, good person.

I believe that the color of your skin, the genitals on your body and the sexual preferences and kinks you enjoy do not define you.

I believe that a man who believes he deserves seven wives doesn’t have the right to tell a man he isn’t allowed to have a husband.

I believe that a man has no right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.

I believe that science should dictate medical laws, not religion. Medicine is a science. Religion is not.

I believe that as long as my taxes go to helping the poor, the uninsured, the schools and the infrastructure of this country I do not mind paying them.

I believe that war is wrong and that imposing our views and values, no matter how good we think they are, onto people of other nations and cultures is dead evil and should not be covered by those same taxes.

I believe in apple pie and ears of corn just as much as you do.

I believe you have the right to go to church on Sunday just as much as I have the right to sleep in.

I do not believe you are evil for going to church, so please stop thinking I’m evil for staying home.

I believe that Donald Trump withholding $5 million from charities just because he doesn’t like Obama is wrong.

I believe that the majority is not always correct.

I believe that blocking every bill supported by the President and then complaining that he gets nothing done is childish.

I believe that not working with others in Congress means you should go back to kindergarten and learn that skill all over again.

I do not believe that disagreeing with me makes you an evil person.

I believe that restricting rights from only certain groups of people makes you an evil person.

I do not camp out on the steps of Wall Street.

I do use a Credit Union.

I believe rape is rape. I believe it is the most evil thing one human being can do to another. I believe it is worse than homicide. I believe there is no such thing as legitimate rape, as all rape is legit. I do not believe there are different levels of rape.

I believe rapists deserve exponentially more jail time than they get.

I do not believe in the death penalty.

I also do not believe in death panels.

I do not believe that hand-cuffing a president allows you to mock him for a lack of production.

I do not believe that manipulating and using young men as soldiers allows you to forget them when their term is over.

I do not believe progress is an evil word.

I do not believe that all speech is covered by the first amendment. Hate speech is actually specifically not covered by that amendment. Using the words “retard” (Ann Coulter) or “fag” (Christian extremists) or “nigger”, “chink”, “wet-back”, etc. (racists) is violating far more than just an amendment.

I do not believe that being a liberal makes me a bad person. It does not make me elitist. It does not make me yellow-bellied. If it makes me different than you, then so be it. That does not make either of us better than the other.

It does not give you the right to turn your nose at me. It does not give you the right to throw childish temper tantrums. It does not give you the right to hate.

Uncle Sam, I am a liberal.

But I’m not here for confession.

I’m not sorry for who I am.

Time to Sentence the “Guilty as charged”

Last week Dan Cathy, the president of Chik-Fil-A restaurants came out and proudly stood by the fact that his company is run with an agenda based on Christian beliefs. He and his company annually donates to Christian charities/groups and one of them is the National Organization for Marriage, a political lobby focused on preventing homosexual marriage in this country.

Let me first say that I have absolutely no problem with this part whatsoever. A person or private company has every right to donate their hard earned cash wherever they like. It’s none of my business.

Many people called for a boycott of their product. While I, obviously, refuse to give them my business, I’m not going to sit out in front of their stores and protest their policies. Just because I don’t agree with them it does not mean I think they don’t have the right to have those policies. If you were to ask me what I think about the store, I’d tell you that I haven’t visited a Chik-Fil-A in almost ten years because of their anti-gay, anti-abortion policies. That’s the free market. You can choose to support whatever business you like.

Most likely, this would have been one of those semi-interesting stories that disappear within a week, except one of Chik-Fil-A’s partners decided enough was enough. The Jim Henson Company heads the workshop of those lovable muppets as well as any characterizations of them, including the toys that came with kids’ meals at Chik-Fil-A. Well…they used to. In a statement on their Facebook page, the Jim Henson Co. explained:

“The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.

Lisa Henson, our CEO, is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).”

I definitely smiled when I saw this news. Knowing that some of Chik-Fil-A’s hard-earned cash went straight to a social equality group lifted my spirits last Friday. I guess this was the spark that we were all looking for though. In response, Chik-Fil-A decided to go on a PR spree that would make them look awful.

First, stores reportedly started taking the toys out of the kids’ meals, then this picture floated around:

Reportedly taken at a location in Texas.

So we’re supposed to believe that these two events are random? Yes, according to spokeswoman Tiffany Greenway. She said that the toys were removed “for the protection of our customers” and that it is not related to the severing of business ties between the two companies.

What. The F*ck. Ever.

We’re not stupid, Ms. Greenway.

This incident is bad enough, now Chik-Fil-A is having another media issue, this time with Facebook itself. This incident occurred on Chik-Fil-A’s own page. That’s right. Chik-Fil-A had one of their employees create a fake Facebook account and was caught in the act.

Again…We’re not stupid.

Shall we add to the bad publicity? Sure, let’s do it. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wasn’t going to be silenced either. Here is a copy of the letter he sent to Mr. Cathy regarding the company’s interest in locating stores in the city of Boston:

Click the image to open a bigger version of the letter.

Ouch. Not even Boston wants you. That’s just hilarious.

It doesn’t end there. Chicago’s Logan Square has said that talks with Chik-Fil-A have ended unless the company institutes a non-discriminatory policy in their hiring practices and employee handbook and added that it would take a public apology from Mr. Cathy as well. More on this here.

Add this to the already growing list of colleges asking for their campuses to boot Chik-Fil-A and/or refuse to open new stores.

Add this to a nation that is growing younger.

Add this to a generation of Americans that are more accepting of alternative lifestyles.

Mr. Cathy has the right to believe and say what he wants. He and his company have the right to donate their services and finances to any legal institution or lobby they like.

What they do NOT have a right to do is lie to us. This society does not accept liars. We know they are lying about the unreasonable timing of safety issues with muppet toys. We know they lied about some red headed facebook girl that exists for a grand total of eight hours.

You are guilty of bigotry, Mr. Cathy.

You are guilty of lies and deceit.

Hopefully this nation gives you proper punishment and takes their capitalism elsewhere.

That’s our right.

My Heavy Chest and the Little Things That Weigh It Down

I’m gonna kind of cheat this whole blogging thing by starting a fairly regular piece (weekly maybe?) of little stuff I want to get off my chest without giving each thing it’s own article. This is obviously a working title, and any suggestions will be much appreciated.

So without further ado, here some shallow thoughts about some heavy things:

Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!

Playing Taps to General Worden

Ernest Borgnine died today and it’s sad to think we won’t see that gap-toothed grin or bushy eyebrows anymore. He wasn’t the best or funniest actor. He didn’t do a lot of great movies (was All Dogs Go To Heaven the best?). The Dirty Dozen, however, is one of my all-time favorites.

He was also a doorman in some television show. I don’t remember the show at all, but I remember him in the purple outfit. And those bushy eyebrows.

I really will miss those things.

Dear Vicente Padilla: Go Play Lacrosse

The Boston Red Sox reliever recently told New York Yankee Mark Texeira to go play “a women’s sport” due to Texeira’s apparent aversion to getting hit in the head with a baseball. I also do not like getting hit in the head with a baseball just because the pitcher is a whiny little douchenozzle who didn’t like giving up a home run. These two have a history together and if you want to learn more about it, click the link. It’s kind of funny in a “haha- you guys are kinda childish” sort of way.

It’s comments like these that our society finds acceptable and harmless and that’s just not right. I have the feeling I could list off quite a few women athletes who are far superior to Padilla’s Krispy Kreme-sponsored physical ability. I found his comments to be sexist, inflammatory and completely unnecessary.

So if you want to be a complete asshole, Padilla? Go play lacrosse. You’ll fit in nicely.

Let Them Give Blood

In what is slowly turning into a national need for blood donors, finally politicians are looking into a thirty year old ban on gay men giving blood based on fairy tale-like fears that gay men all had AIDS and therefore could not give blood.

It’s not GRID, people, let’s put on a brave face. There’s a notion that a promiscuous straight man refusing to wear condoms for multiple partners (and I imagine there’s just as many as these men giving blood as gay men wanting to give blood) is somehow safe but a gay man’s blood is automatically tainted. That’s just simply naive and unhealthy. I think we can all big kids here and realize that this is a very antiquated and poorly backed belief.

On a similar note…

I Legally Love Google

Follow the rainbow…

The largest search engine on the net has always tried to be a breath of fresh air, giving us themed homepages with secret hyperlinks and (for some of us) a platform to be social without silly duck-faced kids and privacy issues. Recently, they took huge steps forward in my book. 

“Legalize Love” is Google’s new campaign to better the lives of LGBT workers in the workplace and in the world. They’ve already picked up partners in Citigroup and Ernst & Young, among others, and are focusing their efforts on Europe and Asia. 

I’d like to see them get behind the Democratic Party in the upcoming elections here in the good ol’ US of A and help our nation get back to the path of social equality in which we once took pride.

—————–

I feel like there’s much, much more to say, but I can’t remember. I’ll be back next weekend.

Now back to my wine.

Is America Joining the 20th Century?

There’s exciting news out of California today.

State legislatures have approved the building of the first large scale high-speed railway system in the United States, according to CNN.

My reaction? It’s about ****ing time.

Sometimes Republicans really, truly baffle me. They want to build giant, ugly oil pipes (that I’m not even necessarily against) all over the country, but don’t want to build high speed rails throughout America’s farmland. Are you kidding me? Grow up.

High speed rail works. Flat out. You don’t believe me? Ask Europe.

I never once heard someone come back from a European vacation to say, “Well it was really beautiful, all the old architecture and stuff. But man, those ugly trains…”

It’s just silly.

These things create TONS of jobs. The California project alone is hoping to create 450,000 permanent jobs over the next twenty-five years. That’s from Los Angeles to San Francisco and from L.A. to San Diego. That’s just a small portion of what could be a huge positive to the entire nation.

They allow access to travel destinations to people who can’t afford to fly. Imagine living in Chicago and you want to go see the Bears play the Detroit Lions. The problem? The game is in Detroit and you don’t have 230 dollars for plane tickets. Would you be more likely to go if you could spend about fifty bucks each way on a high speed train that would take roughly an hour to get there? Yes. You would. We all would.

Likewise, they benefit the economy in a multitude of ways. I just listed one. “Frivolous” travel would increase, which means people are vacationing more. If it’s easier for you to hop on a train and head to Miami for a long weekend, don’t think for one second you would pass up the chance to take your talents to South Beach. Jobs increase, which means more people have more money to spend, etc. As tourism and local economies increase, those people are more like to travel and spend and so on and so forth.

And what about the fact that it requires zero gasoline to run these trains? Can you imagine how much this could impact the environment, especially in an area of the country that specializes in smog warnings.

Maybe that’s the nationwide issue? Perhaps the fact that this product reduces our nation’s dependence on oil is affecting the votes of a few certain congressmen on a certain side of the aisle?

Quite frankly, I’ve never heard a convincing argument why high-speed rail couldn’t compete with airlines for national travel other than political motivation. It creates jobs, it’s cheaper for the average consumer, it’s safer and cleaner.

It’s time to catch up to the rest of the world in regards to infrastructure.

An Average American’s Guide to Getting Into Soccer…errrr…Football

I found myself, for various reasons ranging from boredom to romantic, watching this little Euro Cup 2012 thing they have going on in (pat yourself on the back for finishing this sentence early) Europe. I don’t know why I kept watching. I could have just “followed” it without truly watching all these matches.

What I found out, is that I can actually get into international soccer. Here are some fun (but not necessarily wholesome or emotionally healthy) tips on how you can, too:

1) Root for the “motherland”

Although I’m fifty percent Belgian, I’ve always identified with the smaller Polish line in my family. Why? Maybe I like telling racist jokes about myself? Maybe Dyngus Day is just that damned fun? Who knows. The Poles are not known for their athletic prowess. Aside from a record five championships in the World’s Strongest Man competition from Mariusz Pudzianowski, Poland doesn’t get a lot of recognition in sports. In fact, the Polish athlete with the most gold medals? A race walker. That’s right. Race walker.

Anyhow, the easiest way to garner a rooting interest in international sports is to have some personal pride on the line. I was pumped up for the Poland-Russia match last week. Politically and regionally, that’s a huge match, especially with Poland being one of the two host nations of this year’s cup. And as an American that totally buys in to movies such as Red Dawn and the Olympics, it’s very easy to root against Russia. In fact this is a lovely segue into my next point:

2) Politics

Similar to hundreds of years of the Polish-Russian relationship, it’s easy to use political views for or against other teams. Like Sweden. I’m an atheist that naturally has fairly liberal ideals. Sweden is like my Valhalla, so add the Swedes to a list of teams I rooted for in the cup. (If you also followed the cup so far, you’ll realize I don’t have a very good track record of teams I rooted for making the elimination round)

Likewise, it can be fun to root against teams as easily as it is to root for them. Like England. Now I don’t hate England or the English, but for whatever reason, I like to root against them and pretend like it’s still 1776. I like to yell “Down with King George!” like I’m some revolutionary bad-ass. I’m not. I’m a dork.

3) Underdogs

Like any major sporting event when your favorite team isn’t playing, it’s natural to root for the underdogs. I liked rooting for Croatia because, let’s face it, they’ve had a rough few years recently. I pushed for Ukraine since they were the other host with Poland.

On the other hand, I also vied for the team playing against one of the big boys (Italy, Germany, Spain, etc.). Those guys always win things. Why not give Ireland something besides an American holiday upon which they can hang their little Irish flat caps?

As you can imagine, this category probably has the lowest success rate.

4) Controversy and Aneurysms 

Yesterday, Ukraine got completely jobbed on a ball that seemed to me was a clear goal, but the ref didn’t allow it alleging that the entire ball did not cross the line. I think it was a crap call. It was like the European equivalent to Armando Gallaraga’s botched perfect game call. Americans love their instant replay to go along with their instant coffee and instant porn, and this event was nothing short of controversial and potentially avoidable.

On the other end of the excitement spectrum, I don’t know why I’m such a glutton for self-punishment but I still get all sorts of worked up when I see these flops. If you’re not aware, I think the number one reason Americans don’t get into soccer more is the fact that flopping is rewarded in soccer more than any other major sport. Ease up America, if you follow the NBA, you realize that basketball is swiftly catching up (I’m looking at you, Manu Ginobli).

For whatever reason, we like to watch soccer just so we can complain about the flops and the faking of injuries. I’ll never get over the fact that a little spray can on the sideline is an instant cure to what the player obviously thought was a blown ACL.

Americans like extremes, and soccer proves them without prejudice.

Regardless of your level of affinity towards soccer, take it from a life-long football fan/player that the sport can be fun in certain circumstances. I definitely grew up hating soccer for whatever reason (although watching your football coach stab a soccer ball with a butterfly knife just because it rolled onto our practice field probably pushed me towards a certain side of the argument), but I’m starting to come around.

I’ll probably never get behind the MLS (go Chicago Fire?) and I most definitely never give a rat’s ass about the English Premier league or any of these other, far more prestigious leagues around the world. It’s just not appealing to me.

But throw in the occasional geo-political landscape and I can pretty much become a fan of any sport or activity. This method is so true, that many of us at the bar one Monday night stared at the darts equivalent to the World Cup. You heard me…darts. Why? Because it was USA vs England.

Just like 1776.