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February 8, 2016 7:27 AM

February 8, 2016 7:19 AM

A billboard criticising ‘greedy politicians’ faces ridicule after the campaign’s central hashtag contained a glaring error. The board was erected in Iowa in an apparent bid to persuade residents they should not support Washington’s ‘pointless vanity projects’. But the hashtag used on the poster - ‘Take Back Are Country’ - has been ridiculed by social media users who pointed out its grammatical inaccuracy. Matt Mozzone wrote on Twitter: ‘#TakeBackAreCountry what a bunch of uneducated yokals!’ And Nick Smith, who also appeared to mock the political stance of the campaign, added: ‘Teaching the difference between “our” and “are” in school? That’s commie bulls**t!’

I learned the hard way a long, long time ago that no matter how convincingly unassailable your message might be, it will go fer not if yr kase contains speling or grammer errorz. U see what I’m talking about, right? I’ll bet you’re so focused on that thoroughly messed-up sentence that my message has already faded into the background.

You might be preaching to the choir about saving the world in a way few reasonable people could dispute…but do it with spelling and/or grammar errors, and you automatically lose (This is why a writer is only as good as their editor). As soon as your adversaries spot and pounce on a mistake, no matter how innocent, the attention is no longer on your argument; it’s on your spelling and/or grammar mistaik(s).

Yes, Virginia; having an editor can be a VERY good thing…and just as soon as I can afford it, I’m a gonna git me one of them they’re editurs.

So here I am, into the third paragraph, and I haven’t yet ridiculed the billboard’s creator for the patently ridiculous riff on the “Take Back Our Country” meme. I don’t even really need to, because social media has already done the heavy lifting for me. The message of the billboard- such as it is- has been lost in the Sturm und Drang over the uber-pointless hashtag.

Because no one’s going to care about, much less listen to, your argument if you’re screaming about “TAKE BACK ARE COUNTRY!”

You’re welcome.

February 8, 2016 7:10 AM

February 8, 2016 7:03 AM

Denmark was once a champion of the Refugee Convention, but it has since joined the rank of European Union nations that are restricting entry to refugees and would-be asylum seekers who show up at their borders. On Tuesday, Danish lawmakers overwhelmingly voted through a series of controversial measures to confiscate valuables from asylum seekers to help cover the cost of their stay. Under the so-called jewelry bill, authorities can seize assets worth upwards of $1,453 that have little sentimental value to the owners. CNN reported that wedding rings, engagement rings, family portraits, decorations and medals are exempted, but watches, mobile phones, and computers can be confiscated. The bill would also raise the waiting period for refugees to apply for their family members to join them from one year to three years, and shorten temporary residential permits to two years. The country’s ruling Liberal Party justified the confiscation by saying that it was up to refugees to ensure that they could pay for their stay and be able to contribute to society.

It can be difficult for those of us here in America to understand the unimaginable suffering occurring in Europe and the Middle East. Safe and secure as we are, there’s no reason to worry about war or violent political strife. We have no frame of reference for understanding what the refugee crisis in Europe entails. We have a roof over our head, we know where our next Big Mac is coming from, and we go through our daily life in relative peace and security. We also don’t have thousands of desperate refugees crashing our borders, hoping to find a safe place for themselves and their families. We aren’t seeing our social welfare system straining and cracking under the pressure of too many people and too few resources. We aren’t dealing with the compassion fatigue inevitably caused by a crisis that manifests itself day after day with no end in sight.

That sai, I recognize the need to be careful when throwing stones…but the increasingly inhuman and miserly ways European governments are treating refugees is appalling. While I understand the growing frustration and compassion fatigue extant among Europeans and their governments, simple compassion and human decency would seem to dictate that helping those is need is merely the right thing to do.

Compassion fatigue is now a thing in Europe, and it poses a significant threat to the international community’s capacity for assisting those who arrive on their shores in desperate need. How long can governments and their people be expected to show compassion and restraint in the face of seemingly overwhelming numbers of refugees clamoring for help? That the numbers never seem to decrease speaks to a problem in desperate need of a humanitarian AND political solution. What Denmark and other European governments are doing is as inhuman as it is spectacularly unhelpful.

February 8, 2016 6:48 AM

February 8, 2016 6:32 AM

HUBBARD, IOWA- Senator Ted Cruz is often asked about doing away with President Obama’s health care law. He is rarely pressed by voters on what will replace it. But at a middle school cafeteria here, a man, Mike Valde, presented him with a tragic tale. His brother-in-law Mark was a barber- “a small-business man,” he said. He had never had a paid vacation day. He received health insurance at last because of the Affordable Care Act. He began to feel sick and went to a doctor. “He had never been to a doctor for years,” Mr. Valde, 63, of Coralville, Iowa said. “Multiple tumors behind his heart, his liver, his pancreas. And they said, ‘We’re sorry, sir, there’s nothing we can do for you.’” The room was silent. “Mark never had health care until Obama care,” Mr. Valde continued. “What are you going to replace it with?”

The problem with the health care debate, especially in the manner it’s framed by Sen. Cruz, is that it’s conceptual. It’s not about people. There’s no human cost, because people in this argument are merely pawns subservient to Cruz’ self-absorbed ideology. When you begin talking about individuals and their struggles to afford health care and health insurance in the most affluent country in the world, you begin to realize that the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) has been a success. It hasn’t been successful if the criteria is guaranteeding every American, regardless of circumstance, a basic level of health care…but that “failure” can and should be laid at the foot of Republicans. When you look at the millions of previously uninsured Americans who now have health insurance coverage- yes, in that sense it’s absolutely been a success. ACA may not be perfect, but it’s a damned sight better than what came before.

I have a Conservative friend who will discourse at some considerable length about how ACA is “the worst sort of tyranny” imaginable. I suppose if you define “tyranny” as “providing health insurance coverage to those previously uninsured,” then yes, I guess we’re talking about something as tyrannical as it is un-American. If you, like me, proceed from the supposition that health care is a basic human right, that the quality (or even availability) of health care shouldn’t be dependent on the contents of one’s bank account, ACA is nothing even faintly redolent of tyranny.

February 8, 2016 6:22 AM

February 7, 2016 6:34 AM

February 7, 2016 6:26 AM

Faithful America is the largest and fastest-growing online Christian community. Michael Sherrard, spokesperson for the organization, sent out an email this morning expressing disgust with Ted Cruz headlines that claim Cruz won the GOP Iowa Caucus because of Christian voters. Sherrard asks: What does that really mean? Cruz touted the endorsement of hate group leaders and even a fringe anti-semitic pastor who says God sent Hitler to hunt Jews. He held rallies where Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson denounced the “perversion” and “depravity” of gay marriage and said we need to “rid the earth” of those who support marriage equality. This isn’t Christianity - it’s bigotry wrapped up in the Bible. And the only way to fight is for Christians to stand up and say: That’s not our faith.

I’ve said it so much I feel like a skipping record: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is as much a Christian as Timothy McVeigh was all about nonviolent conflict resolution. I’ve often wondered what’s become of those Christians who actually try to live their faith and who resent being lumped in with bigoted, hypocritical theocrats like Cruz. I’ve despaired of the lack of pushback from Christians upset that their faith is being hijacked by those who wouldn’t recognize love, acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion if Jesus His Own Self handed out instruction manuals (Oh, wait…isn’t that what the Bible is supposed to be?)

I know these sorts of good, kind, decent, and honest Christians are out there (I know a few), but I’ve despaired of finding groups and individuals willing to call out the moral/theological reprobates currently running for the GOP presidential nomination. It’s refreshing to find a group of honest, Bible-believing Christians “sick of sitting by quietly while Jesus’ message of good news is hijacked by the religious right to serve a hateful political agenda.” Ah, so Christianity really ISN’T the property and playground of hate-filled ideologues who use their faith as a club they employ to bludgeon those who believe differently and enforce their narrow morality? Hallelujah! Or something like that.

February 7, 2016 6:16 AM

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