January 28, 2009

Snow day frustrations

Yeah, I have a snow day. Technically, yesterday was a snow day too, but I didn't have any classes scheduled yesterday, so that doesn't count. And I know, those of you in northern climes are wondering why Oklahoma shuts down with a hint of slick roads. Remember, we have like 2 snow plows, and one of them is a converted pickup truck (not true, but you get my point) and it doesn't take much to shut down traffic around here. The University has a pretty high number of commuter students, so I am sure that is driving this decision.

Anyway, that gives me time to get some stuff done on the class and maybe do some reading. And blogging.


During the campaign, I noted several times my frustration about how conservatives approached Obama, and when Obama failed to fulfill their stereotype, Michelle Obama. She became the "angry black woman" that we were all to fear. Her one statement about being proud of America became more justification to question her patriotism. Sarah Palin's husband joined a separatist movement, but no one questioned her patriotism. Cindy McCain's wealth came purely from the cozy relationship with government regulations, yet her contradictory political stances didn't cause anyone to question her patriotism. We don't question the patriotism of conservatives (I know this is a broken record here) even when they out our CIA agents and endanger our country.

But Michelle is supposed to be scary. Even Juan Williams, who choked up at the sight of Michelle and Barack and their family at the DNC Convention, echoes that stereotype, calling Michelle a "Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress." As Ta-Nehisi says, "are you serious?" You want to invoke the most basic stereotype of black men and women with our new First Lady?

Every time they open their mouths, I lose more respect for our conservative class.


Speaking of conservatives, everyone here knows that "abstinence only" sex-ed programs make me furious. Every reputable study shows that they don't work nearly as well as comprehensive sex-ed courses. No problem including abstinence in those other programs, but making it THE program is irresponsible, and dangerous to kids. Hell, as the NYT is reporting, teenagers are not having more sex after all, but those who do are less likely to use contraceptives. So, we are seeing a rise in teen pregnancy. No word on STDS, but that is certainly a logical thing to be worried about as well.

Here is my real frustration. I suspect, and with good reason, that those advocating abstinence-only programs will just ignore this report, as they have any that questioned the actual effectiveness of their programs. Facts just don't matter when you can substitute "belief" or "faith" in their place.

Fine, if you want to believe that way, but please keep your "beliefs" out of my public policy.


Sully notes this quote from Kathryn-Jean Lopez, of the NRO:

"We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will," - Kathryn-Jean Lopez.


The right wing is in full throat calling any talk about war crimes or investigations partisan hackery. I have been accused of that myself, and told that any desire to hold Bush and Cheney accountable was just political retribution. Sullivan had this to say about Israel's possible war crimes in Gaza
War crimes happen, even when political leaders send the right signals. What distinguishes civilization is a capacity to investigate them and hold the war criminals accountable. Israel, unlike Hamas, is part of that civilization.
We are supposed to be part of that civilization too.


Speaking of crimes. As Bush and Cheney's are dismissed as "policy differences," and Bernie Madoff is living high on house arrest after defrauding millions and ruining countless lives, this story of a homeless man who has been sentenced to 15 years for robbing a bank. At first blush, that sounds ok, but then you read that the guy went in to the bank, told the teller it was a robbery, and then only took one $100 bill off the top. He then surrendered to the police the next day, and pleaded guilty to the crime before being sentenced. No doubt he committed a serious crime, but look at our differing responses. Madoff is negotiated with, and he has done more damage than we can possible imagine for one person. I will be very interested to see if he does as much time as this homeless man. Bush has overseen the deaths of countless people around the world, and his irresponsible policies have endangered Americans here and abroad. He has admitted to authorizing torture and has defended that decision.

He will never be punished for those crimes.


More on Torture and Bush and Gitmo. Also from Sully, word that Obama's team met with the security experts in the CIA who were adamant and unanimous that not torturing would not change their ability to gather intelligence. What is more, we learn from the WaPo that the original commander of Gitmo ran it with dignity and under the Army regs. That is, until he was over-ruled by Rumsfeld.


steves said...

I had two snow days in the 8 or so years I was in college. Once, Law School evening classes were cancelled. Most of the students were commuters, so that wasn't a surprise. The other time was at NMU, when the temp. had dropped to -50 with windchill around -70. They decided students shouldn't be walking across campus to class.

Sarah Palin's husband joined a separatist movement, but no one questioned her patriotism.

They didn't? I heard plenty of people complaining about this for a time and then it just went away. The same held true for Michelle and her "scariness". On the contrary, I saw plenty of flattering articles on her. People Magazine did a huge spread on the Obama family, as did plenty of other magazines. The majority of coverage on her was pretty positive.

Out of curiosity, how common are abstinece only programs? We don't seem to have them around here.

The right wing is in full throat calling any talk about war crimes or investigations partisan hackery.

Most of this seems to be stemming from a lack of evidence on the war crimes. This blogger on Volokh is issuing a challenge to anyone to provide evidence of any war crime. I am not defending Israel's actions, but I guess I just need more proof.

He will never be punished for those crimes.

I think this article does a good job of explaining why he, or any of his administration, won't be tried for any kind of international crime. I don't think any of the current Dems are interested in going after Bush et al.

Facts just don't matter when you can substitute "belief" or "faith" in their place.

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of legislation and public policy that is lacking in some kind of factual support. Besides abstinence only, we have most of our drug laws, gun laws, and dozens of others that don't do what they are supposed to do.

Streak said...

I don't think people challenged Palin's patriotism. Yes, people talked about Todd's membership in that organization, but no one in the media suggested that Palin had to "demonstrate her patriotism." They said those very things about Michelle when she spoke in Denver.

Abstinence only programs were the rage under Bush and I don't think any federal funding went to sex ed programs without it.

steves said...

I think the only people that bought into the unpatriotic Michelle Obama were already part of the group that wasn't going to vote for her husband under any circumstances. For the most part, I'd say the media was easier on Obama than they were on Palin, but that is just my opinion.

Streak said...

I would agree that the media liked Barack Obama. I am not sure that Michelle got the free ride. And further, I would note that the idea that the only people who questioned Michelle's patriotism were the ones who would not vote for Obama is not relevant to the question at hand. It isn't that it was just a few right wingers, it was a common media talking point around the Democratic convention and after her "I am finally proud of America."

Tony said...

"We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will."

This statement is true insofar as it only applies to the sectarian group Lopez is part of. The only way to come to her conclusion is to blatantly ignore history. America was in fact not founded on this principle, but actually was founded on the contrary principle of individual autonomy.

I think Lopez's principle is a fair definition of Christianism.

steves said...

I agree with Tony. While our nation certainlly was founded on Christian principles (among other things), I don't think it is reasonable to say it was founded for "Him".

Streak, I guess I owuldn't say that Michelle got a free ride, I just doubt that any of the accusations that she was unpatriotic had any real effect on the Obama campaign. I do think it is reasobale to question her past statements if she puts herself in the campaign in some capacity.

Streak said...

I am not saying her comments can not be challenged. I am saying that it is hypocritical and sleazy to challenge her patriotism. Whether it has an effect on the campaign is also irrelevant. Those who did it were lazy and wrong. That is my point.

leighton said...

I'm with Streak; questioning the wisdom of certain statements and questioning "patriotism" seem like different things. I'm really not sure that the word "patriotism" as politicians and pundits use the term actually has any meaning. It's one thing to say (incorrectly, I believe, in Michelle Obama's case) that someone may not have the judgment and the commitment to support an effort at good governance. (You wouldn't want to put, say, Reverend Wright in a key post in Department of State for this reason.) That at least has a clear meaning. But saying she's not "patriotic" is an accusation with no clear content; it's irrebuttable. How do you demonstrate "patriotism?" Is there a set number of flags you can wave or lapel pins you can wear or foreign brown people you can publicly wish our troops would kill? Patriotism, as Republican spokespeople have used the term these past few years, seems to have more to do with blind nationalist idiocy than with seeking the good of the citizens of the Republic, both now and for generations to come.