Highlights from the GOP Debate

The GOP debate last night was a lot to digest. We had a much better understanding of the candidates going into this debate than we did the first time, and we were on the lookout for notable responses to actions that have been making headlines.

We heard tales from candidates past, strong stances on the Iran deal and Kim Davis, insults about appearance, and much more. Last night’s debate was chaos overall. Not because of the candidates, but because of the moderators. CNN hosted the debate this time around, and did a poor job of keeping the candidates on track and reducing the immature mudslinging. It felt all over the place, with lack of direction, and it took over a half hour before questions were posed about real issues facing our country.

The beginning of the debate was the Trump show. Candidates were asked if they agreed or disagreed with Trump’s comments, and if they thought Trump would be able to control the nuclear weapons. It felt more like The Donald debate rather than the GOP debate. Luckily, John Kasich couldn’t take it anymore either and pointed out that voters are more interested in hearing the candidates’ stances on key issues. He’s right, we are. Whew.

Carly Fiorina was an addition to this debate, and with good reason. She was the breakout star of the early debate the first time around, and she more than earned a spot with the top tier candidates. It’s not necessarily that Fiorina has extremely opposing views to the other candidates, but rather her conviction and execution. She was able to take on Trump without stooping to his level, and perfectly articulated her stances, views, and ideas if she were president. She also rattled off key players in Iran and Russia and showcased an advanced understanding in foreign policy. As we remember from Trump’s radio interview last week, this is his biggest weakness. Fiorina was the clear standout of this debate.

Donald Trump did what he does best. He insulted candidates based on their appearances, accused them of being controlled by the money, and talked about his vast wealth. He has low lows and high highs. In response to Fiorina calling out his previous comments about her looks, he retorted but saying she is beautiful, a move that was surprising for him. He had some back and forth with Rand Paul and pointed out that he never attacked Paul on his looks, even though there was “a lot of subject matter to work with.” He was largely silent during the discussions about foreign policy, and didn’t chime in for about 30 minutes. Trump isn’t comfortable talking about anything other than immigration. His debate performance probably won’t hurt him in the polls though; his supporters seem loyal to a fault.

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush stood out as front-runners of the debate. Rubio’s charisma and stern stance on policies helps him every time. He is a strong speaker and commands the room. Bush came back from a lackluster first debate, and was more prepared and pointed with his responses and answers to key questions voters have about electing another Bush. He stood out from his brother and father, and had a few standout moments.

Chris Christie did far better in this debate than the last. Last time, he staggered and left voters unsure of his stances on key issues. This time, Christie positioned himself as the adult on the stage, and the voice of the middle class. He articulated his positions much more clearly, which voters appreciate.

Ben Carson remained himself but staying out of the back and forth unfolding around him, and only spoke when completely necessary. He might have missed a few good opportunities for pointed words against Trump and other candidates, but he never took the bait. This could either help or hurt him. He could be overshadowed, or he can continue to climb towards Trump as his supporters appreciate his unorthodox approach to politics.

I think Rand Paul has to be crowned the loser in this debate. In his typical fashion, he came off as a schoolyard bully, attacking Trump every chance he could, but never took the opportunity to point out his own strengths. At this point, Paul comes off as the fly you continuously swat away from the pie but won’t give up.

What you need to know about tonight’s CNN GOP debate

Tonight is the second GOP Debate (Republican Presidential debate) and it will be airing prime-time from sunny California and will feature 11 of the top candidates, this time including Carly Fiorina who has been making more of a name for herself since the first debate. Let’s take a look at what to expect tonight and see where our candidates stand.

Donald Trump is still leading in every poll and has been the talk of the town since announcing his candidacy. He continues to speak in front of hundreds or thousands of supporters, and hasn’t bitten his tongue when it comes to immigration or any other hot topic issues. Nothing seems to be slowing Trump down, even disparaging comments about women or Mexicans don’t seem to lower his numbers. Trump’s biggest problem is his understanding of facts. When questioned further about foreign policy, he stammered and confused key players in the world political field.

Ben Carson is climbing steadily in the polls and seems to be the biggest threat to Donald Trump. He is merely a few points behind Trump in key states and has garnered support from unlikely places for a GOP candidate, including a mostly blue California. Carson is very intelligent and perfectly articulates his views and ideas. What seems to be Carson’s main problem is his quiet demeanor, and Trump has already been on the attack saying that he lacks energy, also adding that the president would need to be more forceful.

Jeb Bush is experienced and yet he is struggling in this campaign. He is walking the line between ignoring Trump and using Trump’s tactics against him. Bush’s poll numbers are lower than initially expected, and he has shifted his image since his campaign began, to more directly fire back at Trump and to show more of his personality. Bush’s new campaign video features him speaking Spanish and showcases a rare appearance from his wife, who is a Mexican immigrant. This could be the key to helping Bush gain Latino votes as Trump has been vocal about his disdain for Mexicans.

Carly Fiorina will get her opportunity to face Trump tonight at the debate for the first time. Trump has already lashed out against Fiorina by attacking her looks. Fiorina has exceeded expectation so far, but has plateaued in the polls. Tonight could make or break her campaign.

Marco Rubio hasn’t been too vocal on the campaign trail lately, but is still considered a viable contender for the GOP bid. Rubio’s background and his charisma are what has helped him gain thus far, but he has struggled to break out from under the shadow Donald Trump has been casting on the other candidates. His performance tonight can help him get better footing in this race.

The CNN Republican Primary Debate will air tonight at 8 p.m. ET on CNN. The first round debate that will feature the remaining candidates who have at least 1% in the polls will air at 6 p.m. ET.

Why does Kim Davis still have a job?

Today, Kim Davis returned to work. You might remember Kim Davis as the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses because it is against her religion. Her tantrum landed her in jail for five days for refusing to do her job. Makes sense. She is a worker of the court and cannot impress her views on others, especially by refusing to do her job.

But now she is back at work. She spent all of Monday in her office with the door closed and the blinds drawn, only after making a statement to the press of course. Christian conservatives have called Davis a “hero” for standing up for her beliefs.

And that’s great. We live in a country that allows us to believe in whatever we would like, and say whatever we want. But this isn’t just another opinionated citizen. She is refusing to do her job.

In her statement Monday morning before retreating to her office for the day, she said,

“I want the whole world to know … If any [deputy clerk] feels that they must issue an unauthorized license to avoid being thrown in jail, I understand their tough choice, and I will take no action against them. However, any unauthorized license that they issue will not have my name, my title or my authority on it. Instead, the license will state that they are issued pursuant to a federal court order. I don’t want to have this conflict. I don’t want to be in the spotlight, and I certainly don’t want to be a whipping post; I am no hero. I just want to serve my neighbors quietly without violating my conscience. And so this morning, I am forced to fashion a remedy that reconciles my conscience with Judge Bunning’s orders. Effective immediately and until an accommodation is provided by those with the authority to provide it, any marriage license issued by my office will not be issued or authorized by me.”

This is the part that gets me. She is returning to work, and will be paid, but is still not doing her job.

As anyone who has ever held a job knows, if you refuse to do your job, you would be terminated. This is like ordering a burger at a restaurant and being told you can’t have a burger because your server is a vegetarian. It’s not about religious beliefs or political views. It’s about doing your job.

So why is Kim Davis is still employed? Is it because she has become somewhat of a martyr? Only time will tell.

Never Forget

Never forget September 11, 2001. A day that is hard for anyone in the country, and even some others, to erase from their memory. It is a day that feels different from the rest of the week even these 14 years later. The air seems to feel heavier and still. You’re greeted by strangers whose faces are the look of dismay. Everyone has the same look in their eyes. Thoughtfulness, confusion, sadness. It seems like everyone is walking around in a fog. Those who lost a loved on that day reflect on their lives and post memories on social media. Scrolling through my newsfeed is like a time machine filled with “never forgets” and fuzzy pictures.

Everyone remembers where they were on that day 14 years ago. It’s hard to forget, no matter how young you were. Even the vaguest memory is filled with confusion and chaos.

I was in 6th grade Science class. The teacher instructed us not to turn on the TV. But she wasn’t going to be giving us a lesson that day. “Just talk amongst yourselves.” She flew in and out of the classroom. I could see through the window in the door that my other teachers were huddled out there together. Whispering, exchanging worried glances. Some of their eyes filled with tears. But back in the classroom, all the students were normal. I knew something was wrong, but I certainly didn’t have any idea what I was going to learn.

The phone rang and it sounded like it was off the hook. My teacher ran into the classroom and grabbed the phone, slamming it down in a fervor a moment later. It was for me, and my mom was here to pick me up from school early. I gathered my things and proceeded to my locker. I remember thinking how weird it was that I was being picked up early and worried one of my grandparents was in the hospital.

When I got to the front lobby, I was stunned. It was packed full of parents who all seemed to be over talking one another. It was loud. But it felt weird. I pushed through the crowd looking for my mom. A girl I knew walked toward her mom asking, “Where is dad?” When I finally reached my mom she grabbed me and rushed us to the car.

I don’t really remember the car ride to our house. It was only 10 minutes but it felt like a lifetime. She told me what had happened. I worried about family in New York. Thankfully, my family was spared on that day.

Many weren’t so lucky. 3,000 lives were lost that day, and countless others in the aftermath. On this day we are full of pride. We are proud to be Americans. We are happy to dedicate the day to those who are gone, and we stand as one country. Why does it take a tragedy to bring our country together? Come tomorrow, things will be back to normal. The memorials will be over. I wish that just one time, Americans could still feel proud and united even after the day has passed. If we can come together in the face of adversity, why can’t we come together otherwise?

What is the line between religion and law?

There are a couple of platforms that the Republican Party takes that doesn’t bode well with voters. Same-sex marriage, birth control, abortions, religion, and the like. Right now I want to focus on same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide. Many Republican politicians were supportive of the court’s ruling and offered vague words of support. But some others were vocal about their dismay. They are religious and firm in their beliefs, and they believe that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman, and that homosexuality is a sin.

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs. We were built on the freedom of our country, and are fortunate enough to be afforded our opinions and beliefs and are able to share them with fellow citizens. So where is the line drawn between religious beliefs and the law?

Enter Kim Davis. Kim Davis is a Kentucky county clerk who is firm in her religious beliefs. Same-sex marriage is wrong. She began refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. After back and forth with the federal court and the threat that she could be thrown in jail, she was. Davis remains in jail and has become something of a martyr for other conservatives who agree with her position. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been especially vocal about his beliefs and stands behind Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Regardless of your beliefs, Kim Davis broke the law. What she did is equivalent to not letting someone sit at the counter of a bar because they are black. The law isn’t up for interpretation, no matter what an individual might think about said law.

This is where Republicans lose voters, mostly young voters. Are progressive Republicans a thing? I think they are. I personally am a registered Republican. I believe in their fiscal positions, even though I don’t believe with the social ones. I can get past the fact that I don’t agree with every position they have. Some young voters can’t.

Same-sex marriage shouldn’t be a hot topic platform now. It’s legal, the court has made that ruling already. There’s no need to continue the discussion. Some candidates have recognized that and if asked about same-sex marriage, offer up vague, polite words that say they believe in the law and that’s the way it is. Sometimes they add that people are equal no matter what.

What will happen to Kim Davis? Will they let her out of jail even if she continues to refuse to issue same-sex licenses? After all, it is the law.

Does Black Lives Matter mean those are the only lives that matter?

Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. You’re familiar with these names, right? They’re the names of young black men who were killed by white men, sometimes cops. Their deaths started a new movement in America. Black Lives Matter. You’ve seen the hashtags, the videos, and the never ending commentary. You’ve watched President Obama get on national television and declare that these boys could easily be his son, and call for a change.

Bryon Dickson. Charles Gliniewicz. Sonny Kim. Do you recognize these names? You probably don’t these are the names of just a few officers who were killed in the line of duty. Not just killed, but gunned down. If you’re wondering if you missed Obama’s press conference about these brave men, don’t worry, you didn’t. There never was one.

I’m not sure if this is just about race, or maybe it’s about police officers. There certainly is a lot of hate being spewed around the country towards police officers. The same people who wake up every single day ready to protect and serve the same people who bash them. Stories and videos of heroism by these fine men and women aren’t shared, hardly at all. A few bad eggs or bad situations have been put in the spotlight, and as a result a stigma has been cast upon every fellow American in blue.

Lt. Charles Gliniewicz was a military veteran who continued to serve our country as a police officer in Illinois. He was married with four children. Yesterday he was killed while in pursuit of 3 suspects, all of whom are still fleeing police. A manhunt is underway to find Lt. Gliniewicz’s killers.

Obama is in Alaska taping a special for the survival show “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.” He has not made a comment. He has not called a press conference.

So why are only some lives important? The focus the past year or so has been on black lives because of a few incidents that have been slapped in front of our eyes and made the only focus in the news. I’m not saying their lives don’t matter, all lives matter. A death is tragic no matter the circumstances. But what about the other deaths? Are they less important because they don’t fuel a movement?

It’s becoming increasingly disturbing to me why police lives aren’t deemed important enough to be mourned or to start a movement, but rather they are looked at as the enemy.

I have to fuel my argument with some statistics. Black Americans commit over half of the homicides in the country. Black Americans commit eight times more crimes against white Americans than vice-versa. About 1,000 more white Americans were killed by police than black Americans.

The sole point of the Black Lives Matter movement is that black Americans are the victims. They are discriminated against, therefore they are killed. These statistics show otherwise.

I think Ben Carson is onto something when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, that we need to focus on crime in general, especially in bad neighborhoods, and not single out any one race.