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Vice Presidential Debate: Foreign and Domestic Policy


 

FULL VIDEO for anyone who missed it:

 

Just my quick opinion…..I didn’t take notes tonight because I was too tired and I just wanted to sit and watch the VP Debate. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the VP Debates and it was actually more interesting than the first Presidential Debate. Topics ranged from nuclear weapons and Syria to the economy to health care to abortion. I really like both VP Biden and Congressman Ryan. If the elections were just between these two men…it would be a tough choice. Both men were very effective and I think both men appealed to the Independent voters. VP Biden came on strong tonight!! He called Ryan out on not being specific, for not getting the facts right and I loved how he called Ryan out for personally sending him 2 letters asking for stimulus money. VP Biden also did a good job of talking to the audience at home. There were a few times where he looked directly at the camera and asked the public who did they trust and he asked seniors whether they were happy with their health care. I think this was  a great move and helps to include voters in the debate. I know some people think that Biden came off as too “fierce” or “condescending” but I disagree. I think Biden had to come on strong, especially after the show the President put on last week.

Congressman Ryan is a lot younger than VP Biden, and I think it showed tonight. Despite that, I think that Ryan was very respectful and did his best to get the conversation back to his strong points and he continued to hammer the idea that Romney would not raise taxes on the middle class and how Obamacare would affect senior citizens. I think he also made a good move when he told the personal story of Romney paying the tuition of 2 paralyzed boys that went to Romney’s church and how Romney gives more money to charity than the VP or himself combined. He tried to explain away the “47%” debacle that Romney caused, though that wasn’t as effective.

As a Catholic myself, I was anxious to hear how VP Biden and Ryan, both also Catholics, answered the question concerning how the Catholic Church has shaped their lives and their opinions on abortion. Congressman Ryan said that he believes that life begins at conception, a concept reiterated throughout every Catholic Church in the world, and abortion should only be allowed in the limited circumstances of rape, incest, and where the mother’s life is in danger. VP Biden said that he agrees with the Churches teachings and also believes that life begins at conception, but he refuses to impose his beliefs on others who may not feel the same way. While a lot of people feel that the Catholic Church is full of strictly conservative Republicans…let me assure you that it is not. Catholics are as diverse in political thinking as any other group would be and while some stand behind what Ryan said, I know just as many who stand behind what VP Biden said. I think these two answers reflected well on both men and the Catholic Church.

What are your thoughts on the VP debate??

 

NEXT DEBATE:

Tuesday
October 16, 2012

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
 

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.

 

2012 Presidential Debate: Domestic Policy


I love men in suits. I love good looking older men in suits. I love to hear intelligent men debate back and forth on what they are passionate about. So of course I eagerly awaited the debates. Tonight was the first of 3 Presidential Debates. I took notes during the debate so excuse my shorthand and if I may have left out some of what was said. I assure you, I tried to take notes as unbiased as possible. Tonight’s debate was moderated by Jim Lehrer, the host of NewsHour on PBS, and it was hosted by the Univ. of Denver in Denver, Colorado.

My Notes on tonight’s debate:

1)      What are the major differences between the two of you, in how you will create jobs?

Obama: invest in education and training, change tax codes, reduce deficits in balanced way, build up middle class

Romney: 5 basic parts -> 1) get US energy independent, 2) open S. America for trading and crack down on China, 3) work on education, 4) balance the budget, 5) champion small business and will not cut taxes for the wealthy

O: improve education system, keep tuition low, 2) lower corporate tax code, 3) look at energy sources like wind, solar, for the future

R: adamantly denies a $5 trillion tax cut and denies helping wealthy; claims gas, food, health care, etc. has gone up under Pres. Obama; wants to use clean coal, wants to open up gas lines in Alaska and bring in gas from Canada

O: Claims Romney can’t identify how he’s going to close loopholes and deductions from wealthy

R: will not reduce taxes paid by high income and will not increase taxes on middle class income; wants to bring down rates b/c small businesses are hurting b/c they are taxed at individual tax rates

O: wants to go back to Clinton’s tax cuts

2)      What are the differences between the 2 of you, in how you are going to go about taking the deficit in the country?

R: 1) raise taxes, 2) cut spending, 3) lower spending

i.    Will eliminate all programs that require borrowing money from China

ii.      Will make gov’t run more efficient by combining agencies

iii.      Claims President Obama has raised the deficit more than any other President in history

O: Said he came into the office which was already struggling from 2 wars being paid by credit card. Wants the wealthy to contribute more by raising taxes.

R: when you are in a recession, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone. When you raise taxes, you kill jobs. Raise revenue by providing more jobs.

O: Wants to take a balanced responsible approach. Oil industry gets $4 billion deductions…want to eliminate tax breaks for corporations. Don’t give tax cuts to companies who move production overseas. Help young people so they can afford to go to college.

R: Would like for states to manage Medicaid themselves, instead of the federal gov’t telling the states what to do with the money.

3)      Do you see a major difference between the 2 of you on Social Security?

O: The basic structure of SS is sound. Don’t overpay insurance companies and providers, which lowered prescription cost.

R: Neither President or himself, are proposing any changes to current retirees. Claims Pres. Obama is reducing the program by $760 million.

O: Claims Romney will turn Medicare into a voucher program for future retirees. Which would give a voucher to seniors who can go out in marketplace and buy their own insurance, but problem is that voucher won’t keep up with inflation. Private insurance will also only recruit healthy seniors, while the others will be limited to Medicare and in the end, the Medicare system will collapse.

R: Doesn’t want to change Medicare for retirees but wants to give people in the future to have a choice between Medicare and a private insurance company. This provides competition into the Medicare world.

O: Seniors are generally happy with Medicare and private insurance has higher administrative costs and also needs to be paid. AARP claims that Romney’s plan weakens Medicare.

4)      What is the view on federal regulations?

R: Regulations is essential for free economy. Thinks regulations should be changed in some areas and kept the same in others. Wants to replace some parts of Dodd Frank

O: The reason we are in such an enormous economy crisis is because of banks making money and churning out things, even they didn’t understand, so he regulated banks. Banks now how to repay all the help they received with interest.

R: Dodd Frank is killing small banks.

5)      Romney wants the affordable health care act repealed, why?

R: The cost of health care needs to be dealt with and said that Obama care is increasing the cost of health care and insurance. Cuts $760 million from Medicare. Doesn’t like the idea of an elective board which tells people what procedures they can get. Also doesn’t like how it kills jobs. Wants to craft a plan at the state level that best benefits the state.

O: Group plans lower costs. Agrees that Mass. Had a successful group plan under Gov. Romney.

R: Claims Pres. pushed through a plan without a single Republican vote. Elaborated on the successes of his health care system in Mass. Some studies have shown that Obama care will cause people to lose jobs. Something this big has to be down on a bi-partisan basis.

O: This plan was a bipartisan affair and in fact was a Republican idea. The elective board is a group of doctors, health care experts, etc. who will try to determine how to tackle health care crisis and make costs of health care more effective. Healthcare premiums have gone up in the past 2 years but this is the slowest they have gone up in the last 15 years. Romney hasn’t described what he will replace Obama care with.

R: That he will be keeping certain aspects of Obama care such as,  1) preexisting conditions covered 2) young people can stay on family plan.

O: Calls Romney out for not detailing what he will replace Obama care with. He claims that the reason why Romney is keeping his “plans” secret is not because they are good.

R: Wants to lay out principles he wants to foster instead of coming in and telling people it’s “his way or the highway.” The fed’l gov’t coming in and taking care of health care for the entire nation should not be the way we go with health care.

6)      Do you believe there is a fundamental difference in how you see the role of the federal gov’t?

O: 1) keep the citizens safe 2) create frameworks where citizens can succeed with free market but also thinks that if all Americans get opportunities the we will all benefit, 3) reform schools that are struggling and need more teachers

R: Mass. Is ranked #1 in schools. Role gov’t is promote and protect the constitution and declaration of independent…1) will not cut military 2) right for elders to be cared for 3)right to pursue individual dreams

7) Does fed gov’t play a role in education?

R: Wants fed’l funds to follow children

O: Completing training programs for jobs. Making college affordable

R: not making any changes to college tuitions. Questions why Pres put $90 billion in green jobs where a lot of failed, instead of putting the money into teachers and schools. Thinks we should grade schools so parents see which schools are failing.

8)      Many of the legislative functions of fed’l gov’t are gridlocked. What would you do about that?

R: Sit down on day 1 and sit with both democrats and rep leaders to work together and find common ground.

O: will take ideas from anybody who will advance middle class families. That’s how we ended up war on Iraq and closing war in Afghanistan. Initiated 3 trade deals around the world to help promote USA goods. Being a leader is about having a plan.

Closing Statements:

O: Has faith in the American public. Wants everyone to play by the same rules and gets a fair shot at everything. Promised to fight every single day for the middle class like he has been doing in the last 4 years.

R: What kind of American do you want for you and your children…but 2 paths lead in very different directions. Thinks middle class will be squeezed under Pres, there will be chronic unemployment, Obama care will change health care, there will be a $716 million cut to health care, there will be dramatic cuts to military.

My Personal Thoughts: 

Overall, I thought the presidential debates went very well tonight. I also found it interesting that Romney wore a red tie, which happened to match his crisp and strong demeanor tonight…while President Obama wore a blue tie, which also seemed to match his calm and collected attitude. The economy is a hot topic right now and both candidates know how important it is to win the middle class and they both reiterated over and over again what they would do to help out the middle class. Most Democrats love President Obama with a passion and while I can’t say that most Republicans love Romney…it seems clear that most Democrats will vote for President Obama and most Republicans will vote for whoever is running against the President.

So those are not the people who the President and Governor Romney are trying to sway. They are trying to sway and reach out to people like me, the Independents who could vote either way and who really make the difference in who wins the elections. I am 90% sure that I will be voting for President Obama this coming November….but with that being said I was extremely impressed by Romney tonight.  He came out strong, confident, and made sure to get his point across…even to the point of talking over the moderator. Even though the President called him out for not having a plan or strategy on health care and  improving job growth, I disagree….Romney did lay out the skeletons of his plan and I think Romney defended himself very well by repeating his successes in Massachusetts and by stating that he wants to work with everyone instead of making it “his way or the highway.” On the other hand, I don’t think the President came out as strong and he did not do a good job in explaining how he would get the economy back on track or even what he would do different in the next 4 years. The polls show that Romney is trailing behind the President, but I think that this debate has slowly closed that gap. The President was counting on making Romney seem less credible  but I think the President under estimated Romney tonight. From news commentary, it seems that the Republicans were very pleased with Romney and the substance of his debate. He has also  restored their confidences in him. If Romney continues to fire at the President just as strongly in the next 2 upcoming debates, as he did tonight, he will definitely win over a lot of indecisive Democrats and quite a few Independent voters and this upcoming election will be a very, very close one.

Next Debate:

Oct. 11th: Vice Presidential Debates

Topic: Foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Centre College  in Danville, Kentucky (Tickets )
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan
Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)

Update: Amendment One Passed by Voters in NC


Sooo, the results are in and 40% of the citizens of North Carolina are upset, frustrated, sad and/or [insert the obligatory angry adjective here] and the other 60% are [insert appropriate adjective here]. This state is the 30th state to institute a ban on gay marriage and other types of domestic partnerships will likely no longer be recognized. I just really don’t understand how discriminatory laws like this can still occur in 2012…

I don’t understand  because there is this concept called a “fundamental right”…where something is so fundamental to our idea of humanity that it transcends the legal system.  These fundamental rights are considered so important, that any law restricting it must pass strict scrutiny (where the state must show a compelling governmental interest that is narrowly tailored to meet that interest).

The United States Supreme Court has legally recognized 3 main fundamental rights, which include:

1) the right to travel

2) the right to vote, and

3) the right to privacy, which includes:

a. the right to procreation,

b. the right to an abortion during the first trimester,

c. the right to private education,

d. the right to contraception,

e. the right of family relations, and last but not least,

f. the right to marry

But I guess the right to marry is not a fundamental right… if you are a homosexual. I guess because homosexual love is wrong and “threatens” the sanctity of heterosexual love. Because you know, the marriage between a man and a woman is the “right” kind of love, and it is everlasting and never abusive and never ends in divorce. And homosexuals are the root of all evil and the cause of moral turpitude and war, famine, and natural disasters. (And in case you didn’t know…you were supposed to read this paragraph in your sarcastic voice).

Or what if you are someone like myself…who is not a homosexual…but who will most likely not have a “traditional” marriage, which from the illustration above proves that, what is considered a “traditional marriage” changes with time. What if I really wanted to be a co-parent and adopt…because I honestly don’t see myself getting married to a man within the next 3 years and I want to be a parent soon. I am seriously having “iwannabeamommy” syndrome going on right now. And she would be the perfect mother…I know it. She is soo good with kids and she is so “motherly”…she loves to take care of others, and cook, and clean, and do laundry, and take them to doctor appointments. And we would adopt a little girl, with honey brown skin and thick black hair. We would adopt her from Asia or the Middle East and save her from being a sex slave, or seen as the property of a man, or a life of poverty. The little girl would grow up to be smart, and beautiful, and strong, and independent because both of her mothers are …and we would remind her every day about her worth as a woman and most importantly that she is loved. And now I’m going to stop before I make myself cry…

And again, I am not a lesbian but I know that I would rather have a family with a woman who loves and accepts me for me. She makes me feel more beautiful than any man ever could because she is not telling me bullshit just to get in my pants (and NO we don’t get down like that). And she accepts the fact that I am ADD and OCD and slightly paranoid. She accepts and actually encourages my delusional love for Jeremy Lin (who I would marry and have all 10 of his children) and she doesn’t leave the toilet seat up when she uses the bathroom and she doesn’t fart in her sleep or try to molest me in bed and I know she isn’t going to wake up one morning and tell me I am fat and ugly. And most importantly she has been by my side longer than ANY man ever has. So we have decided that we are getting the hell out of this state and starting over elsewhere. And hopefully along the way we will both fall in love and marry amazing men…but if not, we still have each other. And if I feel this way about a woman I am not even romantically in love with, then I can’t even imagine what people are feeling, who are.

 

NC’s Amendment 1 a.k.a. Marriage Protection Amendment – What you NEED to know


North Carolina has received national attention because of Amendment 1. There has been soooo much coverage on this matter, that I thought it would be overkill to write a post on it…but since the latest poll data suggests that there are still more Amendment 1 supporters than there are opposers…I figured my 2 cents may actually make a difference. A poll done by Public Policy Polling, on May 1, shows that 55% of people polled still plan to vote in favor of the Amendment, while only 43% plan to vote against it. Another poll done by the Civitas Institute, conducted April 30 through May 2, supports the finding that there are more supporters of the Amendment. They asked register voters, “Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that says: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?” The responses are as follows:

DEMOCRATIC/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN DEM PRIMARY

48% Total Support

44% Total Oppose

41% Strongly Support

7% Somewhat Support

6% Somewhat Oppose

38% Strongly Oppose

7% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)

1% Refused (DO NOT READ)

REPUBLICAN/UNAFILLIATED VOTERS IN REP PRIMARY

78% Total Support

15% Total Oppose

72% Strongly Support

7% Somewhat Support

3% Somewhat Oppose

12% Strongly Oppose

6% Don’t Know/ No Opinion (DO NOT READ)

I truly believe one reason why there are so many supporters is because North Carolina citizens do not understand what supporting this Amendment really entails. On election day, this is how the Amendment will read on your ballot: If this amendment passes then it will have the effect of amending Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution, by adding Section 6. Marriage, which will read as follows: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the ONLY domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

For those of you who didn’t catch it the first time…read it again. “Marriage” is the ONLY “domestic legal union” that shall be valid in the state of NC. So what does a “domestic legal union” really mean?? No one really knows because this is not a legal term and it has not yet been defined…or in other words, the term is vague and overbroad. Litigation over the meaning of this phrase could take YEARS to resolve because it has never been used in any prior NC statutory law or court holdings. In fact, this phrase has never been interpreted in any courts in any other states!! Because this phrase is so unclear, this amendment not only affects same-sex couples, this amendment could also affect any unmarried heterosexual couple as well.

For an amendment that is so unclear…it’s affects could be devastating to NC’s unmarried couples. It could have the effect of invalidating domestic partnership insurance benefits, making domestic violence even more harmful, harm the best interest of a child to unmarried parents, and limiting protections for unmarried couples. It may also have the effect of limiting economic growth to NC, which in turn could affect jobs. And I won’t even go into arguments of discrimination against a minority group or what this could do to the rise of hate crimes against homosexuals.

This amendment could invalidate domestic partnership insurance benefits. Four local governments, the Town of Tarrboro, Town of Chapel Hill, City of Durham, and County of Orange, offers insurance benefits to both same-sex and heterosexual domestic partners and the County of Durham, City of Greensboro and County of Mecklenburg offers insurance benefits to only same-sex couples. Due to the wording in this amendment, the domestic partners benefits could be invalidated and it could prevent future benefits from being given to domestic partners, homosexual or straight.

This amendment could have a huge impact on how the courts view domestic violence.

North Carolina Statute 50B-1, Domestic Violence, states:

(b) For purposes of this section, the term “personal relationship” means a relationship wherein the parties involved:
(1) Are current or former spouses;
(2) Are persons of opposite sex who live together or have lived together;
(3) Are related as parents and children, including others acting in loco parentis to a minor child, or as grandparents and grandchildren. For purposes of this subdivision, an aggrieved party may not obtain an order of protection against a child or grandchild under the age of 16;
(4) Have a child in common;
(5) Are current or former household members;
(6) Are persons of the opposite sex who are in a dating relationship or have been in a dating relationship. For purposes of this subdivision, a dating relationship is one wherein the parties are romantically involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary fraternization between persons in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.

Because the statute affords protections to unmarried couples, you would hope that this will not change if Amendment 1 passes, but if Ohio (which passed a similar amendment) is any indication, then Amendment 1 could limit protections only to victims who had been married to their abusers. It took THREE years before the Ohio Supreme Court decided that their domestic violence protections did not violate their constitutional amendment and before this decision was made, there were about 27 dismissals and reversals of convictions ordered by the lower courts, because the state felt they could not extend domestic violence protections to unmarried victims.

This amendment could harm the best interest of a child conceived by unmarried parents. The Catholic Voice of NC (supporters of Amendment 1), states that the government should be involved in marriage to protect children. In fact, the opposite could happen. If this amendment passes, then a judge may view a same-sex or unmarried couple as having a negative impact on a child and because of this, limit custody, visitation rights and prevent adoptions. And as stated earlier…if unmarried couples lose insurance through their job because of their unmarried status, then this will also mean more children will lose their health insurance benefits.

This amendment limits protections for unmarried couples. Currently, unmarried couples can provide protections for their partner, such as with a power of attorney and a living will. But if Amendment 1 gets passed, then courts could decide that these documents recognize a “domestic legal union” between unmarried couples, which would be considered unconstitutional.  This in turn, can invalidate wills, trusts, hospital visitation, and medical decision-making between unmarried couples, as well as same-sex ones.

This amendment could limit economic growth in NC. President Obama, former President Clinton, and Senator Kay Hagan have all urged North Carolinians to vote AGAINST this amendment because it could turn away potential businesses and prevent NC from keeping good business and entrepreneurs in this state. On September 12, 2011, more than 75 CEOs signed a letter asking state officials to not approve this amendment. If this amendment passes, there will be at least 75 unhappy CEOs of companies, who are operating in the state of NC. If they decide to leave NC, the job loss will be devastating.

And I changed my mind…I am going to take up some more of your time and argue that Amendment 1 will also further discriminate against a minority group and justify hate crimes. Because the truth is, some people are going to hate gays the same way they hate blacks or foreigners, etc. but the last thing you want to do is give them a law that is going to support their prejudicial ways. Case in point: NC pastor Sean Harris, who advocates using violence to prevent children from becoming gay…seriously?!

I’m sure this post may not make any difference to some people. But if it informed one person, then it was worth spending 2 hours writing on a Saturday night (#nerdforlife). Don’t forget to vote Tuesday, May 8th!!!!

Please visit these sites for more information (in the order they appear in this post):

Public Policy Polling. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/05/marriage-amendment-still-leads-by-14.html

Civitas Institute. http://www.wwaytv3.com/2012/05/03/poll-nc-marriage-amendment-has-strong-lead-final-week

Ballot Pedia. NC Carolina Same-Sex Marriage (May 2012). http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/North_Carolina_Same-Sex_Marriage,_Amendment_1_(May_2012)

The News & Record, Marriage amendment redundant and vague (April 30, 2012). http://www.news-record.com/content/2012/04/27/article/marriage_amendment_redundant_and_vague

Potential Legal Impact of the Proposed Domestic Legal Union Amendment to the North Carolina Constitution (Nov. 8, 2011). http://www.law.unc.edu/documents/faculty/marriageamendment/dlureportnov8.pdf

Protect all NC families, the harmful truth about Amendment 1. http://www.protectallncfamilies.org/the-truth

The Catholic Voice of NC. http://catholicvoicenc.org/ncmarriagefaq-finalon12-1-11.pdf

Indy Weekly, Bill Clinton makes two presidents against Amendment 1 (May 5, 2012). http://www.indyweek.com/citizen/archives/2012/05/05/bill-clinton-makes-two-presidents-against-amendment-1

Wikipedia, Recognition of same-sex unions in North Carolina. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_North_Carolina#cite_note-amendment_one-2

The Huffington Post, North Carolina Pastor Sean Harris: Parents should “punch” their gay acting children , (May 2, 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html

Update: George Zimmerman Charged with Second Degree Murder!!


In a live news conference held at 6pm today, special prosecutor Angela Corey, has just confirmed that George Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder and is in custody now (YAY!!). Yesterday, Zimmerman’s former attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig withdrew from the case because they have not been able to reach Zimmerman. Currently, Zimmerman is being represented by new counsel, Mark O’Mara. Zimmerman voluntarily surrendered himself and is being held at an undisclosed location.

Even though Corey claims that neither public pressure nor the nationwide petition, influenced their decision, I feel that the public did help influence them to take another look at this case. If it wasn’t for the public outrage over the lack of investigation being done by the police department, this could have been another case swept under the radar, like so many others.

Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told reporters, “First of all, I want to say: Thank God. We simply wanted an arrest. We wanted nothing more and nothing less, and we got it. And I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.” People who have been following this story and praying for justice are also very pleased with Corey’s announcement. This case still has a long way to go before we see a conviction, but at least now this case can be brought before a jury, facts can be reviewed, and there is at least a chance for justice.

In Florida, second degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. If convicted, there will not be an opportunity for parole. Zimmerman is being held without bail, but his attorneys can request a bond; at which time, a bond hearing will be set.

Here is the official charging document:

Hunger Games Movie Reveals Prejudice


The girl pictured above is Rue, played by the black actress, Amandla Sternburg. You would think the death of her character would spark tears or at least sadness. For some people it did, but for others it sparked anger and racism.

I have never read the book nor have I seen the movie. But I wanted to do a post because it’s no secret that fans are disappointed that some of the characters were played by black actors. I know in movies, some people get upset when a character is supposed to be a certain race but then the directors cast another race or ethnicity to play that part. I mean people got upset that Jennifer Lopez (who is Puerto Rican) played Selena (who was Mexican), regardless of the fact that both were Hispanic. And yes, I was one of those people upset that The Last Airbender was played by a white actor. But I didn’t think that it effected people so much to the point that they wouldn’t want to see a movie or feel less compassion for the death of a character…solely based on the color of their skin. Now I don’t have Twitter so I never saw any of the racial remarks made by upset fans, until I read other blogs. I am shocked at what people are tweeting. I thought people would want to see more diversity in movies, books, music, and entertainment in general. If you haven’t seen these posts, I have pasted some below. I’m sure there were more, but most have been taken down and/or their accounts have been deleted because of the criticism they received on their tweets.

Am I the only one who was actually surprised over these tweets? I guess I don’t want to believe that even in 2012, people can be so upset over the color of an actor’s skin, that they blatantly put their prejudicial views on blast. I have the most precious little niece who is half black and I am a minority female myself, who is now wondering if people would regard our deaths, as less cry worthy, simply because we are not white.

Sources of Tweets:
Jezebel
MediaTakeOut.com

Trayvon Martin and Why His Family May Never See Justice


It has been more than a month since, February 26, 2012, the day that George Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin.  Despite the fact that Trayvon was unarmed and was simply walking through the neighborhood wearing a hoodie, carrying Skittles and a drink, his killer has still not been arrested. In a tragic story that has gripped the nation, people have shown outrage against the way the police have handled the situation and the fact that Zimmerman is still a free man.

So why is Zimmerman still free? Anyone who has been following this case, is now familiar with Florida’s “stand your ground” law. If you are not, here is the actual statute. The relevant parts are highlighted in blue and underlined.

776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

(1)A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:

(a)The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and

(b)The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

(2)The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:

(a)The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or

(b)The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or

(c)The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or

(d)The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.

(3)A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

(4)A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.

(5)As used in this section, the term:

(a)“Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.

(b)“Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.

(c)“Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.

History.—s. 1, ch. 2005-27.

776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

(1)A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s.943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2)A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.

(3)The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

History.—s. 4, ch. 2005-27.

The fact that this law gives Zimmerman immunity is important because, in most jurisdictions, the defendant has the burden of proving a self-defense claim by 1) showing that a reasonable person in his situation would have felt like his life was in danger and 2) that the defendant actually believed his life was in danger.  This is a high standard that is difficult to prove, but as highlighted above the defendant may not even have to face the jury, if he prevails under this statute because immunity is a complete bar against  criminal prosecution and civil action. This concept is adequately summed up on the law firm website of “Hessinger &Kilfin Law”, which states that:

“The protection given by the law is the highest protection, immunity from prosecution. No longer must you place your fate in the hands of the jury while pursuing the affirmative defense of self-defense. Your legal team can go proactive to prevent charges from being filed, or dismissed if they have been filed already. With proper legal representation you may be entitled to immunity from prosecution for any harm, even death, which you inflict as a result of your efforts to lawfully defend yourself.”

But would killing an unarmed person be reasonable self-defense? Maybe.  Recent reports have now come out stating that even though Zimmerman followed Trayvon on foot, the altercation happened when Zimmerman was returning to his SUV. According to Zimmerman’s account to the police, this is when Trayvon approached Zimmerman from behind, punched him in the nose, which sent him to the ground, where Trayvon continued to beat him and slammed his head into the sidewalk.  Joe Oliver, a friend of Zimmerman’s, believes that it was Zimmerman screaming for help on the 911 tapes. Zimmerman’s attorney, Craig Sonner, told ABC News that, “George Zimmerman suffered a broken nose, and had an injury to the back of his head” and that this was clearly, “a case of self-defense.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the controversial “stand your ground” law has been questioned.  The Miami Herald have mentioned a few cases where this law has been used as a defense and where the killer never went to trial because the complete immunity prevented a criminal prosecution (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/24/v-fullstory/2710297/stand-your-ground-law-had-a-sad.html ). There are several reasons why the “stand your ground” law has made it so difficult for law enforcement to make an arrest. First of all, under this law, a criminal prosecution doesn’t just mean a trial…it also includes the prohibition of an arrest, detaining the killer, and any charges. Secondly, in most states, usually after a violent act has occurred, the defendant has the burden of proving that his actions were justified because of self-defense. But under Florida’s statute 776.032(2), it states that a police officer  “may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.” This means that now, the law enforcement agency has to presume the act was lawful, unless probable cause shows otherwise. Finally, the above statute also states that law enforcement “may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force” which gives the law enforcement agency the initial determination of whether or not immunity applies without first consulting with a prosecutor.

This case will be heard by the grand jury on April 10th, where it will be determined whether or not Zimmerman will be charged. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not licensed nor do I practice law in the state of Florida. The above analysis of the statute is simply my opinion.

References:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=776.032,+F.S&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.032.html

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=776.032,%20F.S&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html

http://www.hessingerlaw.com/Articles/Self-Defense-and-Floridas-Stand-Your-Ground-Law.aspx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrvg–3PL7w&list=UU1yBKRuGpC1tSM73A0ZjYjQ&index=10&feature=plcp

Articles:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/george-zimmermans-attorney-friend-speak-trayvon-martin-incident/story?id=15999256#.T3E4MDEgfSh

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/03/why_george_zimmerman_trayvon_martin_s_killer_hasn_t_been_prosecuted_.single.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-03-25/trayvon-martin-shooting/53768450/1

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/24/v-fullstory/2710297/stand-your-ground-law-had-a-sad.html

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-trayvon-martin-zimmerman-20120325,0,768039.story

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-26/news/os-trayvon-martin-zimmerman-account-20120326_1_miami-schools-punch-unarmed-black-teenager

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/26/police-reveal-george-zimmermans-side-of-the-trayvon-martin-shooting/

Petition:

prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin

James’ Story: A Reflection on Kony 2012 and the LRA


The night was hot as usual, but thankfully there was a slight breeze and the mosquitoes were merciful. James was sleeping soundly in his bed…dreaming about what 8 year olds normally dream about. In the distance, there is a rustling of what sounds like a medium-sized animal creeping towards the village. Suddenly, a scream of alarm breaks the silence, followed by a chorus of other screams…but these screams are no longer of surprise, but rather of terror and cries of anguish. The once peaceful night is no more.

Before he can fully comprehend what is going on, James is roughly pulled out of his slumber. His night of dreaming has suddenly turned into a nightmare. Men with guns are pushing him on his feet and away from his parents. His parents try to go after him, but their efforts are useless. James is helpless as he watches his parents get executed in front of him…first his mother, and then his father.

So…what happens next? The police arrive, right? These men are arrested and sentenced to pay for their horrible murders, right? The answers to both of these questions are “no”…because unfortunately for James, and thousands of other children like him, this did not happen in the United States. This happened in central Africa, where the villages are remote, there is no 911 emergency number, and where there will not be any retribution for the senseless attacks on his village or for the murders of either of his parents.

This is not a post about Joseph Kony, the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army), or the Sudanese government…it is about James and the thousands of children like him. The thousands of children who were forced to take arms, to kill their parents, to kill other civilians, and watched as people were mutilated. They lost their homes, their siblings, and their childhoods. These children will no longer dream the same dreams.

I know some of you are thinking…this is “old” news by now but the sad thing is, there are still so many people in this world who have never heard of Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army).  I was going to let this topic pass me by, but with the recent arrest of George Clooney on March the 16th, during a protest against the Sudanese government (this arrest was unrelated to Kony or the LRA) and after watching the movie, Machine Gun Preacher (2011), starring Gerard Butler, this week…I just could not stop thinking about the atrocities happening half a world away.

Before you shake your head, I already know the criticism that comes with this situation. I know the main argument is, what can the United States do? This is not our battle to fight and the U.S. does not have any interests in Sub-Saharan Africa, except for concerns regarding oil. I agree with that concern, but isn’t the value of human life more important than the value of oil. Are we just supposed to sit back and let the mass killings of innocent civilians go unpunished…especially after we are aware of it.

Another argument is that, the crimes against children have been exaggerated. Invisible Children claims there have been about 30,000 children abducted while Machine Gun Preacher claims there are about 40,000 children abducted. My argument is, isn’t even 1,000 children, just one too many. I’ve heard how Kony is in hiding and how the LRA have dwindled to an army of only a few hundred soldiers, but regardless these men are still responsible, it doesn’t matter if there are only three of them left. And should we now teach war criminals that if they hide long enough, the world will forget about them and no longer pursue them?

The NGOs have also been scrutinized for the way they have been dispersing funds. As an advocate myself, who does work for a non-profit organization, I can tell you first hand, that it is not cheap to travel to D.C. and that funds do have to be allocated for travel and meal expenses. But you don’t have to donate to these organizations to make a difference. Spreading news by word of mouth is free. You can make your own posters and t-shirts. Calling and writing your district representatives and senators costs little in time and money. Yes, the U.S. government is made up of the few, the rich, the elite…but they are always aware of public opinion polls and key word computer searches are always tracked. I do believe there is power in numbers and when the general public act as one voice, there is a better chance that voice will be heard.

I honestly do not think that Kony will be captured in 2012 nor do I think that the U.S. will do more than they already have, which consist of deploying 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to Central Africa in November of 2011. With this being an election year, I also do not think President Obama or the Republican nominee will want to introduce the thought of another foreign war funded by American money and American troops.

But still…I truly do believe in the power of emotions. I believe that stories like James’, Jacobs’ (from the Kony 2010 video), and so many others like them should be heard and acknowledged. While I don’t have the solutions, I know that most people feel that anyone who commits a crime against humanity should be punished and because the heart usually wins over the mind, despite all the concerns I voiced above, I think that with public pressure and awareness, Kony and others like him, will one day answer for all they have done.

If you are unfamiliar with Joseph Kony or the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) please take the time to watch these videos. They provide basic background information.

I don’t claim to know all the facts and I realize that there are so many more complex issues surrounding the crisis of North Uganda and South Sudan. These are just my thoughts on the situation. I love feedback. Please feel free to share your comments on this post below.

DISCLAIMER: I am not promoting nor am I affiliated with the Invisible Children, Machine Gun Preacher, or Amnesty International.

For more information visit:

James’ Story http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/kids-stories/

Machine Gun Preacher http://www.machinegunpreacher.org/

Invisible Children http://www.invisiblechildren.com/

LRA Crisis Tracker http://www.lracrisistracker.com/

The Ugandan Civil War and the LRA http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/lra.htm

Amnesty International http://www.amnestyusa.org/

All Africa http://allafrica.com/