Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Third Debate Tonight

So tonight marks the final debate of the 2016 Presidential election cycle.  While I had briefly touched upon this a couple days ago it seems right to note it here. 

I still have no idea what to expect.  Normally, when a campaign has been spiraling in the way GOP candidate Donald Trump's has then odds would be it's pretty much over and his opponent would win.  However, as we all have noted (hell, it's been burned in our memories at this point) it is not a normal election cycle.  It's still somewhere between likely and very likely that Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will win on November 8th.  Still, wrenches could be thrown into the works to change things. 

For Trump he's literally in a situation where he has nothing left to lose.  It is true that some people have come back from that position and emerged triumphant (it's a trope in many popular movies in this country - almost to the point of cliche), Trump is hampered by behavior that is best described as erratic.  From attacking his own party to suggesting that his rival may be used performance enhancing drugs at the last debate, he has made statements that may excite his base but do little to ensure those few undecided voters or those who support him but are increasingly wary, especially since the leaked Access Hollywood hot mic tape.  Add to this his hyping that the election is rigged by everyone from Clinton to the "crooked media" including Saturday Night Live and you have an idea where Trump is coming from.

Which leads to tonight.  At a time when he needs to win the debate (or at the very least take advantage of the extremely lowered standards for him and not lose) he has decided to publicize that he invited as guest the mother of one of the marines killed in Benghazi and Malik Obama, President Obama's half brother who lives in Kenya yet has dual citizenship here and is supporting Trump for some reason.  I get the reason for the former given that the women he invited has repeated criticized and attacked Clinton for her son's death but there appears to be no rhyme or reason for inviting the President's half brother.

As for Secretary Clinton, she's been busy preparing and is likely going to continue to the extent she can of not going into Donald's gutter.  However, she also has the revelations of the leaked e-mails to deal with.  If they had been leaked in the primary they could've done more damage and possibly put Bernie Sanders likely in the nominee role.  They were leaked one month before the election though and with the leak of Trump's hot mic tape, it seems so much smaller as a scandal for a lot of Americans. 

A friend of mine just sent me a message regarding Trump's request for them to take drug tests before the third debate.  Part of him felt this could be Trump triangulating as a way to get Clinton to say something on drug policy that would disgust millennials.  Both him and I hope my friend is wrong on that.  I'll add to that, if the ghostwriter of Trump's the art of the deal tony Schwartz is to be believed, it appears that Trump is giving a tell about himself more than anyone else.  I could be wrong on this though. 

What Hillary Clinton does have in common with Trump for tonight is one thing - she cannot afford to lose this debate.  While third debates often do little to change people's minds the fact it's not a normal election cycle means that this could change things.  This is really the one thing they have in common but it may be important.

So what will happen tonight?  I have no idea.  However, given that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News has said basically that it wasn't his role to fact check, it could be a scary ride.  Will it be a game changer?  I doubt it but it could take Trump back to the margin of error that his team needs (and reliving the Clinton scandals of the 90s isn't helping with).  Regardless it will be a scary ride.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Election 2016 Overview - 23 or so days to go.

Okay, so the final Presidential debate is on Wednesday.  As of today we're roughly three weeks and a couple days away from the upcoming election.  There's a bit to digest here but I"ll try ot keep it brief.

First, let's look at Donald Trump, since he seems hellbent on taking up all the damn oxygen in the room.  After a somewhat accusatory performance in the second debate where we later learned his refusal to answer questions was an actual strategy and the most notable thing was his sniffling every minute that has a lot of people debating whether he is ill, dealing with allergies (it's likely someone like the Donald isn't used to our Midwestern allergies) or that he was snorting some shit beforehand he then seemed to go downward. 

In post 2nsd debate appearances Trump has attacked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, accused the RNC of possibly rigging the election against him, doubled down on his claim that his political opponent Hillary Clinton should be in jail, and implied that the women claiming he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them in the past were lying because they weren't attractive enough for him to assault.  Add to this claims on a rally last Thursday that "global elites" are trying to rig the election against him; a claim that has your average person wondering what the hell he's going on about but appeals to his base, especially the white supremacists whom Trump for the most part refused to disavow (both Donald Jr. and Eric went on white nationalist radio shows for their dad even after he supposedly disavowed David Duke a few months back). 

What has emerged here in the days since Trump tweeted that "the shackles have been taken off him" is his embrace of possible fascist leanings in his rallies as he riles up his base, some of whom are now hoping for a coup if Trump loses and are getting increasingly hostile towards the media while seeing themselves and their candidate (a supposed billionaire media celebrity who basically  got a shit ton of free publicity in the primary race).  Between his claims to want to lock up political opponents (something that seems more like third world dictatorships than the U.S.) and his denial that he sexually assaulted women even though he has been captured on tape claiming that he may have kissed women against their will and walked into the dressing room of the pageants he used to own while the contestants were near naked, if not totally naked (some of them may have been underage). 

Meanwhile Trump's base has suffered some bleeding but he's still managing to draw people to his rallies.  This includes the conservative Christians (you know, the fundamentalist/evangelical/charismatic folks) who have said we should forgive Donald and that while they wouldn't want him teaching Sunday School or going after their daughters, they still support him.  Despite proving again that much of the religious right has less to do with morality (despite sometimes claiming to be morally superior) and just view Trump as a useful idiot to force their interpretation of their faith onto others (just like Trump views them as useful idiots to get him into office), the fact they're sticking by Trump  (though would cry bloody murder about a lack of character if a Democrat did the same thing) shows just how mercenary they are when it comes to seeking perceived access to power and how angry they are over nearly eight years of not getting everything they want.

Is what I just painted scary?  Yes.  However, Trump has to go beyond his base if he wants to win next month.  And while his performances in the two debates have appeased his base, they have done little to convince those on the fence that he's President material.  Also, while the leaked Access Hollywood tape hasn't caused mass defections from his base, it has caused some of the people that weren't all in for Trump to back away from him, especially among women.  While there are some who still support him while saying he "doesn't have the temperament to be President," others who may have been kind of willing to support Trump but were uneasy with the hatefulness of his rhetoric found this to be too much.

As for former Secretary of State Clinton, she's been busy with debate prep, with just a couple of appearances (including one most recently, with Al Gore,who was vice president under her husband's term).  She's been letting surrogates make the case for her for the most part.  Yes, the Wikileaks leaked e-mails have made some dents but when dealing with a media obsessed with sexual scandals, the news has been buried somewhat compared to the over a dozen women who have said Trump either sexually harassed or sexually assault them since the leaked tape broke nine days ago. 

So does that mean, as the opening skit of Saturday Night Live suggested last night, that it's all over for Trump?  I wouldn't say that so quickly,  For starters there's still Wednesday's debate its possible that Trump's lowered expectations now means just not acting batshit fucking crazy could be seen as a victory.  Also, there is a chance for another October surprise out of Wikileaks e-mails that could hurt Clinton at the last minute. 

However, even though there is a chance these things could occur we also have to look at Trump's  actions over the past week.  Given that he's now attacked not just Clinton but his own party in the past week and has doubled down on claims that are raw meat to his supporters but turn off a lot of people who aren't in his camp, I have to say it's possible that Donald Trump could win the election but at this point it's even less likely than it was just a few days ago.

That doesn't mean that people should rest on their laurels and think Clinton will automatically win.  Trump supporters are already saying they plan to "monitor polls" in case of anything "illegal," an action that seems to look more like voter intimidation - especially in urban areas -than any real concern over the election.  Add to that Trump's hint that he might not accept the results of this election and it's apparent that this election and the stress and polarization springing form it, is far from over.

The election is still 23 or so days away as I type this.  While we have an idea who will likely win the election, it still requires people to get out there and vote as well as spread the word and make sure people aren't apathetic over what may seem to be a lack of selection.  Yes, some are predicting that the election's end and the lame duck period for Obama will be a great Holiday present but if there are challenges and Trump decides his damn ego is more important than the country then the scary ass bumpy as hell ride could continue well into the Holiday season. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pre Second Debate Thoughts

Okay, so the second Presidential debate is in roughly two hours.  It's a town hall format so who knows what the moderators role will be like.  While the last couple of posts have unloaded a two week observation period I'll try to keep this brief with a few thoughts on what tonight has in store.

First, as I said in the last post, these next two debates are Hillary Clinton's to lose.  She came in with a strong performance on the first one and is riding a two week cycle of preparation and low profile as opposed to Donald Trump, where reportedly mixed messages over what he should do and his habit for saying or tweeting whatever outrageous things pops in his head created a hole for him even before the infamous leaked tape.  There is some truth in a media claim that tonight Trump has little (if anything) to lose and that Clinton has to maintain a good performance to keep what lead she has.

Many assume Trump will try to use decades old news of Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs against the former Secretary of State.  Trump has given contradictory messages on this, claiming a few days ago he wouldn't but tweeting Juanita Broadrrick's claims that Bill Clinton reportedly raped her nearly 40 years ago.  While a case can be made that Broaddrick's claims are credible there is an irony of this being shared by a man still reeling from a leaked tape that has the GOP candidate apparently boasting of sexually assaulting women.  Also, the fact that Bill Clinton not only isn't running for office (he served his two terms back in the 90s) but survived his impeachment over having an affair with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the late 1990s and the fallout from that.  Add to this a history of misogyny from Trump that he tried to claim was for entainment last Thursday but often re-emerged on the campaign trail at rallies and this could backfire big time.  How big?  In an article in Politico, it was reported that right wing radio host Hugh Hewitt told MSNBC's Hallie Jackson that if he engages in "relitigating the ’80s and ’90s, it will be a disaster for the party."

So what will happen at tonight's debates?  It depends on the questions asked by those "undecided voters."  While it is possible for Trump to turn things around, their debate prep appeared to start at the last minute after the tape was leaked. Add to that Clinton's penchant for preparation and the fact she probably knows she'll have to take a slightly different tack than in the first debate means that there remains to be a lot of variables.  In an age when a Wikileaks leak of e-mails regarding Clinton's speeches to banks gets almost totally overshadowed by a leaked videotape with a hot mic then a lot of things can change at a moment's notice.

Some people say it's pretty much over for Trump after the leaked tapes.  However, while the recent polls seem to have Clinton roughly five points ahead tonight can change things (which, if Clinton is half as god a politician as her supporters think she is, she already knows).  The latest polls took place just before the leaked tape and that and this debate will possibly be lumped together in the next round of polls.  However, as I said in the last post and briefly mentioned in the last paragraph while it is within the realm of possibility that Donald Trump could win the election, after the events of the last couple of weeks it was less likely.  After the leak of the tape and the hot mic comments where he appears to boast of sexual assaulting women, it's a lot less likely than it was even on Thursday.

In a normal election cycle it would be all over.  This time around it's anyone's guess.

Thoughts on the Leaked Trump Tape (Or The Last Two Weeks Part Two)

As I mentioned in my last post, the past couple of weeks have definitely seen a turn of events in the Presidential race.  From the first debate expectations where Clinton had to overcome allegations about her health and the people pissed off over her "basket of deplorables" comment while Donald Trump just had to (in the media's eyes) appear calm and measured.  We all know what happened though - Clinton stayed calm but goaded Trump with a series of pin pricks that showed us the Donald we all knew and witnessed for years between the campaign, the birther issue (which Trump falsely claimed he ended despite continuing to spread racist birther BS for years after Obama showed his birth certificate), and the general smugness that's become his public image.

Which leads us to the leaked Trump tape from 2005 where, on a hot mic on the Access Hollywood bus on the way to make a cameo for a soap opera (As the World Turns, I think), Trump boasted about just kissing women without their consent and that, when you're a star you could "grab them by the pussy."  While Trump supporters tried to write this off as mere "locker room talk" anyone aware of issues regarding consent can see these claims as him boasting of sexual assault while then host Billy Bush laughed along.  While this seems to be a past best by date syrup ladled over the latest round of Trump stories ranging from the revelation of losing over 900 million dollars in 1995 and thus might not have had to pay taxes for 18 years to his claims the Central Park Five were still guilty of a horrific 1989 rape even though someone else admitted to it and had their DNA on the victim (none of the Five's DNA was at the scene) which led to their exoneration in 2002 and a $41 million settlement from New York City.  While this could asily been added to the last post certain things required addressing this on its own.

First, there's the obvious.  As comedian Alonzo Bodden claimed during an appearance on the online news show The Young Turks, he's on a bus that had Access Hollywood on the side of it so "he knew there was a mic."  Given the number of career crippling, if not killing, snafus that have gone down on hot mic even by 2005, that it never occurred to Trump that has should make sure the mic is off before saying something like this is telling.  By this time he had enough experience on TV shows that he should've had some idea that the mic was on and that it could eventually leak.  For someone who, at that time, was acknowledged for his business savvy to trip up like this seems strange at best and unlikely in general.

Also of note is this - how did the Trump campaign not know about this?  At a time when almost every political candidate (including first timers) are vetted out the wazoo and things are dredged up about every mistake or every unfortunate incident about them, their friends, and their family members a tape like this should've been known about long ago.  Yes, it's true that Donald Trump didn't have much of a typical campaign structure compared to most candidates.  However, it's surprising that nobody seemed to be there for damage control in cases like this. 

Admittedly, this recording is shocking.  However, the Trump campaign for President has been a veritable smorgasbord of shocking, controversial, and nauseating statements from the candidate, both those unearthed from before his run and those he said while running for office.  There are so many things he said that would've killed the career of any other candidate but seemed to bounce off the Donald.  On first revelation it could be said that this would be like those.

But it wasn't.  In the 24 or so hours since the tape was leaked a number of Republican politicians and officials immediately disavowed Trump and his statement in light of the tape.  These range from current Congresspeople and Senators to former Presidential candidates.  While some have claimed they're still voting for him, a number of them have said they can no longer support Trump with some even calling on him to step aside and let Mike Pence lead the ticket.  In a campaign race that saw the GOP nominee imply that Mexicans were criminals and rapists, repeatedly re-tweet white supremacist memes, and state he could shoot someone in the face and not lose a single vote (and that's only a very very few examples) this says something.

So does this mean that we should stick the metaphorical form in Donald J. Trump's ass and flip him over because, in political terms, he's done?  Some have suggested so but I'm not so certain.  In a Presidential race as uncertain as this one it's possible that Trump could win the election in 30 days.  I'm not saying it's likely he will (in fact, odds are it's looking a lot less likely now than it was a week ago) but that it's not the end of the road yet.  There's still two debates (including the town hall tonight) where Clinton could possibly freeze up and do something to shift likely voters to the other side.  However, while the next two debates appear to be Hillary Clitnon's election to lose, the fact she actually prepares almost excessively will be in her favor when contrasted with a braggard who excessively panders and smears people who decided to cram at the last minute once the tape was leaked.

As for those wanting Trump gone, that may be more difficult to do.  Early voting is underway in 12 states and the procedure to remove someone from the ticket applies to death, being incapacitated or something extreme.  While the leaked tape may be extreme it also may be hard to use it to justify dumping the Donald if he doesn't want to go (and he said he won't quit); especially if the main change between him and running mate Pence if the appearance of calm rather than any specific policy differences between them.

Then there's the RNC halting operations of a victory program designed to help Trump win at the end.  While a case can be made that this sort of suspension happens when it becomes clear a candidate can't win (which would be true for other candidates), in this case it could be the political equivalent of a parent taking away a kid's allowance until something changes (whether it's some chores getting done or improved grades, etc).  I could be wrong on this but in this case either direction is a possibility.

What's truly warped about this is the reaction of those defending Trump.  The claim that this is merely "locker room banter" that "all men do" is ironic given that it comes from the same people who way too often piss and moan about feminism falsely portraying all men in the worst possible light (something pointed out by Jessica Valenti in her recent column on the subject).  Others tend to cite "religious leaders" to claim that God has forgiven Donald and we should too (overlooking the fact that one's forgiveness of this asshat doesn't absolve him or mean he's suitable for office).   In addition, Trump supporters booing politicians who have backed away from Trump reveals the end product of appealing to the most extreme of the Christian right wing as well as catering to the white supermacists demographic, a group most candidates on all sides tried their hardest to avoid - for god reason).

So, after taking all this in, is it all over for Trump?  Probably not.  However, he's at a point where he cannot afford to fuck up one moment, especially any debate. While many Trump supporters are sticking by him (including conservative Christians for reasons that both baffle and anger anyone with sense), these statements have scared off voters who were on the fence, especially female voters who may have leaned for him but were struggling with it.  As more previous statements leak out, including Trump referring to his pregnant wife as a blimp on the Howard Stern show a couple months after the time the Access Hollywood taping occurred, it's going to be more difficult to paint Trump as a "changed man,: especially when one looks at his recent statements and realizes he might not have changed very much - if he did at all.  Time will tell but voters only have 29 more days to figure it out.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Between Presidential Debate Brief Commentary or Whoa! The Past Two Weeks (Pre Tape Leak)

Is anyone else here trying to wrap their heads around how the past two weeks have gone down since the first Presidential Debate?

We're one day away from the second of the 3 Presidential debates (being held in St. Louis at Washington University in a Town Hall format) and a lot has changed.  In the run up to the first debate the big issue was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's health and whether she could "handle" the Presidency as the polls went to a dead heat between her and Republican nominee Donald Drumpf, I mean Trump (due in part to Clinton claiming half of trump's followers fit in a "basket of deplorables).  As we all know, the debate showed Clinton remaining calm and measured for the most part.  Even seeming to play a debate equivalent of rope a dope, waiting until the right moment to give her opponent a political pin prick.  Trump reacted almost exactly as expected - easily goaded, constantly interrupting both Clinton and debate moderator Lester Holt (who, to his credit, actually asked a couple of good questions and fact checked Drumpf on his flip flop on the Iraq war), and claiming he didn't say things that can be easily proven that he said or tweeted.  By the time Clinton mentioned Trump's treatment of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the Donald Trump we all knew form the primary race had fully emerged and any chance to pivot was lost.

Now, in the couple days after the debate, polls get analyzed and the candidates do a combination of campaigning and debate prep.   Normally this means the candidates will try to keep a slightly lower profile and try not to say anything stupid that could bite them in the ass in the time between them and the election.  However, this is not a normal election cycle and nobody predicted what Trump would do next.  From his continuing rants on Machado during a next day phone interview to Fox and Friends (when he wasn't asked about her, by the way) to claiming the election will be rigged against him and he might not accept the results of it if he loses (despite claiming otherwise in the debate a few nights earlier), Trump seemed to be digging himself in a hole and under the illusion that he was winning.  Sure he could claim he won most of the online polls (which were both unscientific and don't require participants to be even likely voters) but as the week wore on the man his handlers swore would pivot and remain Presidential couldn't help himself.  He unleashed a stream of tweets on Machado at 3 in the morning that definitely caused some people to be concerned.

As for Clinton, she kept a low profile these last couple of weeks.  Speaking with the press briefly the day after the debate and making a couple of appearances, she seems to be mainly preparing for tomorrow.  While a lot of people in the media claimed she won the first debate this makes sense for obvious reasons (i.e.: there are still two more debates that Trump could theoretically win) and with a media expecting her to lose to Trump's lowered standards, she knows what she's up against.

As for week two, it seems the ruckus around Drumpf, I mean Trump, would mellow a bit.  The vice Presidential debate found his running mate Mike Pence as a calm contrast (even though he lied much of the night and had to defend DT) with some in the mainstream media claiming Pence "looked Presidential" and that this could be a platform for him in 2020.  In a normal campaign this would be a good sign and a step forward.  But, as we all know, this isn't a normal race as the media started getting reports from campaign insiders reported that Trump wasn't happy with Pence's performance and "doesn't like to be upstaged."  Add to it rumors of refusing to do conventional debate prep while continuing to try and blame the former Secretary of State for her husband's infidelity and it appears that the strategy of giving Donald John Trump a shovel and seeing how far he digs leads the Presidential race to a far different place than it was two weeks ago.

And that was before yesterday, where the media coverage of Trump began with him claiming he still believed the Central Park Five were guilty despite being exonerated by DNA evidence and a confession from the actual rapist.  While this once again underscored some of the racist tendencies that seem to be part of the campaign (something not helped by the support of white nationalists for Trump and his sons appearing on white nationalist radio programs as campaign surrogates).  However, while this seemed to be a constant factor in the race little did anyone know that a leaked tape was about to change a lot of things.

That tape, and what has gone down since, deserves it's own post.  We'll get to that tomorrow.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pre Debate Thoughts As We Enter the Final Stretch

Well, we're here.  Tomorrow marks the first debate of the Presidential election between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.  While some people will watch to allegedly determine who to vote for (though I wonder if anyone is really undecided at this rate) others will look for other things to do and wait for the news coverage in order to save their sanity.  Since this hasn't been a normal Presidential campaign it's a little more difficult to determine how the race will turn out.  However, I have been meaning to comment on the race and now seems to be as good of a time as any.

First, how the hell did this get to be a virtual dead heat?  By any conventional wisdom Clinton should've crushed Trump like a bug by now (hell, his primary opponents should've done it early in the primary race just by pointing out his bankruptcies alone).  Yet., for some reason Trump has been given such a benefit of the doubt that most candidates would never get. 

It didn't help that Sec. of State Clinton kept the press at arms length, giving no press conferences between early 2016 and September of this year.  While part of this may have been rooted in letting Trump have enough rope to hang himself, it also left more questions to be raised than was necessary.  Add to this Clinton's post convention move to pick up disillusioned Republicans rather than strengthen any connection with her party's actual base(i.e: progressives and leftists that she actually needs the support of to win in November) and in some ways it seems the wounds are self inflicted. 

This doesn't even take into account the health debacle that seems to have Clinton stumble in the face of the right wing media making it a talking point.  This, despite the fact that if she didn't go to the 9-11 Memorial then the Republicans would've had a field day and crucified her for that - making it a no win situation regardless. 

While this may have led to a situation where a comfortable lead for Hillary Clinton dwindled down to a virtual dead heat it isn't completely hopeless for her.  Anything can happen in the debates which makes them both a game changer that didn't have to be as well as a media spectacle that has the pundits patting themselves on the back rather than do their jobs.

This leads us to the other side - and Donald Trump.  As much as many of us don't want to admit there's a chance he could win in November.  The same man who dilly-dallied when asked if he'd disavow the support of David Duke has somehow been made by the media into someone mainstream America views as a reasonable candidate.  Never mind Trump's history of racially charged rhetoric or his tendency to incite violence at his rallies, for some reason the media has decided to treat him with a lower standard, even saying he sounds Presidential if he avoids saying comething blatantly racist rather than hold him to the same standard as his opposition (or, god forbid, if the media treated Trump the way they treated Bernie Sanders during his run in the primary).  By continuing to allow Donald Trump to coast on this curve they have (hopefully inadvertently) created a candidate that has allowed variations of white supremacy to become normalized and not followed up on questions when he has said he'd basically bring back discrimination (oops, I mean restore "religious liberty", which would allow the conservative christians in his base to discriminate so it's basically the same thing). 

Add to this reports that the debate moderators are not going to face check Trump and it appears that it will be a festival of softballs, with the most dangerous of the two being treated as if he's in a preschool activities day and gets a ribbon for participating. 

So what will happen at the debates?  That is difficult to say since we're not in the thick of it yet.  However, what we do know is that Hillary Clinton has to be prepared to face whatever face Trump chooses to show.  Meanwhile, while many reports have claimed that Donald Drumpf, I mean Trump has avoided typical debate prep other people fear that the Donald will be given softball questions and catered to as if he's special, avoiding the numerous bankruptcies and other skeletons in his many closets that need to be aired out.  Hopefully this doesn't happen but in a situation where a media quest for ratings has allowed a candidate off the hook regardless of his campaigns numerous re-tweets of white supremacist memes (even after he supposedly disavowed it.  Most recently within a day of crying victim of Hillary Clinton calling half of Trump's followers a "basket of deplorables") or any of his other hateful statements. 

As I said earlier, we';re less than 24 hours from seeing how the first debate plays out.  While there may be a chance that some actual journalism occurs, it's also safe to assume that the media will prefer kissing ass to doing their jobs out of fear of not getting invited to the cocktail parties of whoever wins.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

State Level Primary Blah Blah Blah

Today is the state primary election here in Missouri. Like most places who have either had their state primaries or face one shortly, we've had our share of negative ads and robocalls that make people want to turn off their landline and just stream movies until the general election.  While I've been busy house sitting this past week I've had one thougth cross my mind.

Am I the one person out there sick of hearing a candidate blather on about their faith and "religious liberty?"

It seems every candidate on one party is trying to play like their the best and most faithful person out there.  Ads show them praying with their families either just before or just after talking about being pro forced childbirth (or as they call it - "pro life") and brag about their NRA rating.  It almost seems as if they forgot about the First Amendment and the concept of separation of church and state.  Add to it a concept of "religious liberty" which seems to allow business owners of one type of Christianity (which is on the far right end of the religion) to deny services to employees (i.e.: contraception coverage) or allow them to legally discriminate against LGBTQ people and it seems that the sincere faith of a lot of people is being twisted and weaponized into something between a gimmick for votes and a subtle projection of battle against those on the other side. 

It's especially bothersome during an election since this shouldn't be an issue at all.  However, it has become one and how it's being played makes me wonder if t=candidates who do this realize their dog whistles can come back to haunt them.  Especially when we all know damn well that an agnostic or atheist candidate for any office could never state in an ad that he or she didn't care about religion and wanted to focus on the job without facing a shitload of blowback from the same people who use "religious liberty" as a weapon against others. 

After today some of the ads will subside and others will pop up against the other side.  Either way, many people will be sick of this shit by the time the general election rolls around. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have shit to do.