December 29, 2010

What do Republicans value? Who do they represent? And have they lost their minds?

An ongoing question that still needs an answer. From what I can tell of the modern GOP, they represent the rich and the powerful, period. They talk about fiscal responsibility, but have no problem exploding the deficit for tax cuts for the rich. They do have a problem paying for things that, you know, normal people might actually need. Healthcare. Food safety. Environmental protection.

In the latest of the "where the fuck is the conservative mind," I bring you this little story of a Republican who just last year said that global warming was a danger for the US, but now is more interested in holding hearings on climate scientists and their emails and has no interest in actually doing anything about climate change. My favorite part was that the Tea Party idiots didn't want him on the committee because he had expressed support for efficient light bulbs.

Seriously. How fucked up is your party when supporting more efficient light bulbs is a problem?

December 28, 2010

The ongoing American Civil War

Next year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. Which is all fine and good. But this war seems to have never ended. I am sure all of you have heard that South Carolina southerners are already trying to sell the good old Lost Cause before the celebrations begin.

For those unfamiliar, the Lost Cause began right after the war ended. It goes essentially as follows: 1) the war wasn't over slavery. In fact, in the earliest tellings of the Lost Cause, the slaves actually preferred to be slaves and were deeply protective of their masters. Most today don't suggest that. They say that slavery was wrong, but that the south didn't fight over slavery. Or at least, over slavery alone. 2) Built on that last point, Southerners fought for honor and family, not for slavery. After all, most who took up arms for the Confederacy didn't own slaves. 3) They never had a chance to actually win. They were always out-manned and out-gunned, and it was a miracle that they accomplished what they did.

One other key point of this mythology is that Confederates saw themselves as fighting in the same spirit as the American Revolution. They were fighting for their "freedom."

I am no military historian, but I am not convinced that the South couldn't win. They came damn close. They certainly had some of the best trained generals Americans had at the time--many of whom learned their brutality and skill in the Mexican war (which included massacres of Mexican soldiers fleeing battle).

But I am as convinced as I can be that the South fought over slavery. Their secession documents say it explicitly. They scream that they are leaving the union because the North wants to take away slavery. They say that Thomas Jefferson was wrong--as were any critics of slavery. They affirm absolutely the morality of slavery and their right to do that. That was their freedom.

I kind of get those guys. They were immersed in a culture of white supremacy mixed with an underlying fear of slave rebellion. You can see that in the responses to any kind of uprising. It is total warfare and total destruction. Those slaves who dare to rebel are killed and burned and dismembered. There is fear and rage there. South Carolina, where most of this stuff comes from, was a majority black state.

So I get those guys. The very idea that slavery could be wrong would make them monstors. But I don't get the modern defenders. Or I have a hard time with it. I tire of the "south as victim" lament. Enough. The south was more wedded to their slaves than they were the American Revolution, and the North knew it. They could not make slavery an issue in the 1760s or the South would side with England. Think of that the next time you hear a Southerner waving the flag. Either one.

One clue to this stance came last week during a very thoughtful conversation with a friend about how good people can do bad things. This friend noted an ex who had cheated in their relationship, but could never accept responsibility. It violated, according to my friend, how the ex saw themselves and their morality. Cheating simply didn't match their view of themselves.

Sullivan notes a reader's response on the Haley Barbour story that goes right in hand with that, arguing that it is a tribal instinct to not see your tribe as capable of that kind of evil.

What saddens me at both the personal and the national level is that this kind of psychological denial simply keeps people from health. It keeps the cheating spouse from ever coming to grips with their moral failing and moving beyond it. And it keeps so many in our nation from ever coming to grips with the evil of our past. It doesn't have to be that way. Acknowledging the past fully without "but" is a good way to make the past relevant only to historians and buffs.

Post Christmas blues

I have a lot of things to be grateful this Christmas, but have to say that I have felt like crap since Christmas day. Today, whatever I had then turned into a sinus infection complete with a touch of conjunctivitis. Blerg.

But in the meantime, I have been watching the blogs and reading the news. Some of it has been positive, from my perspective, but there are some really amazingly troubling things coming up. Republicans are set to take over the house in January, and their list of goals and pronouncements are just hard to believe. After watching the banks explode our economy with recklessness, the incoming chair of the Financial Services committee said that his view was that Washington regulators were "here to serve the banks" rather than regulate them. Seriously. And that isn't all. Republicans are lining up to defund food safety, regulatory reform, and health care. Please tell me who they serve?

The new incoming chair of a committee on science and technology says that watching the oil bubble out of the BP well exhilarated him.

Sigh.

They have already killed tax hikes on the rich, and are actually making rules in the House that allow them to increase the deficit through tax cuts, but not through spending. You know, for healthcare, or food safety, or keeping the banks from just gambling with your money. The rich, after all, will do very well under Republican leadership. They already are.

I get some of this. I get the idea that capitalism rewards risk and that we believe that people should work hard. I get that. I get opposition to giving people handouts. I get that.

What I don't get is how hard conservatives work to make things harder on the poor and the working class. Look at the entire payday loan industry, which makes corporations millions off the people who can least afford it. I love how my religious conservative colleagues can get up in arms about lotteries and casinos that, they say, exploit the poor, but I have never seen them say the same thing about payday loans, or laws that make it harder to get out of bankruptcy.

No, money is for those who have it. Those who don't, in the conservative model, are simply on their own. After all, if they don't have money, then they must not deserve it. Fred, at Slactivist catches this story about people evicted from their mobile home park, and who can't afford to move the trailer. But the rich see that as an opportunity.

I get that from soul-less and greedy assholes. I really do. They are like the people who sell crack to kids. They don't care. What I don't get is how many Christian conservatives seem to celebrate (at worst) or tolerate (at best) policies that clearly make life harder on those who are already struggling, and make things easier for those who already have all they need. If someone can explain to me how that comes even close to representing anything remotely Christian, I would really like to hear it. It certainly violates everything I was raised to believe, but also certainly represents mainstream Republican beliefs.

WWJD?

December 23, 2010

Why do Americans claim to be more religious than they are?

A quick post from the most interesting thing I read today. Turns out, according to a couple of studies, that Americans are not quite as religious as they say. This article suggests that Americans are loathe to even think that they might not be religious just in the same way they would not see themselves as unpatriotic or even as "good." So they lie and say they go to church more than they actually do.

Couple of quick thoughts. This might explain why Republicans are so adept at playing on those moral issues. They speak, at least in part, to people who deeply want to see themselves as "moral values" or "family values" voters even if they really are not. Second, obviously, I know an awful lot of people who actually do attend church. I know they aren't lying. But, as the article suggests, if the numbers of Americans attending church were accurate, we would have more churches and more growing churches.

My favorite quote came at the end:
Whatever the reason for the disparity, here's the bottom line: For many Americans, church attendance is a central part of their lives. For others, it's a waste of time. If you're in either of these groups, more power to you. But in the spirit of Christmas and the truthteller whose message we celebrate, surely believers and atheists can agree on what to tell folks who talk Jesus but walk Santa: Enough with the two-faced posturing.
Kind of sums it up.

December 18, 2010

Senate votes to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell"

This is long overdue.

I am also reminded that while the left often gets angry at Obama, we should consider what he has accomplished. Healthcare (pending Republican defunding, of course), banking reform, stimulus that most believed saved the economy from much worse damage, and now an end to discrimination against gays in the military.

December 17, 2010

Keeping the Christ in Christmas--by being a jerk

While admittedly muted this year, the annual ritual of Christian conservatives bitching about people saying Happy Holidays just annoys the crap out of me. Nothing could be more about purely invented outrage than this nothing issue. This is just about Christians wanting to be treated as the dominant culture, rather than remembering the actual meaning of their faith. You know, turning the other cheek, and demonstrating love for man kind?

No, as Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress decided, Christmas should be about attacking anyone who dares to not mention Christmas.
"Jeffress came up with the website, GrinchAlert.com, because he wanted to make a point about keeping Christ in Christmas. GrinchAlert.com allows people to create their own lists of businesses that promote the Christ in Christmas and shame those who don't.
Right, because nothing says Christmas more than someone being forced to celebrate Christmas. The real meaning of Christmas, evidently, is to be able to consume, consume, consume, and do so in the name of Christ.

And let's not forget the things that don't offend these Christians. No movement from Jeffress to oppose torture, or express outrage that Christians endorse torture. No movement to make sure that the working poor can actually celebrate Christmas, or stop the tax breaks for the wealthiest of the wealthy. No outrage that our Congress is taking pride in stopping climate change legislation.

Nope. Outrage that someone from Barnes & Noble doesn't say "Merry Christmas." Talk about lightweight. Talk about trivial. Talk about meaningless.

Nice job turning Christmas into a battle ground. I am sure Jesus is proud that you took this holiday and turned it into a time to shame others.

Jesus was a liberal Democrat

Troll bait, I realize, but just too funny to pass up. Actually, I misspoke. This one is not particularly funny as it is much too close to the truth. I love the Bill O'Reilly part where he suggests that Jesus had conditions for charity, or even where he implies that he said "helps those who help themselves."

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jesus Is a Liberal Democrat
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear Alive

Music video of the day (f-bomb warning)

Love this song. Yeah, and not just because of the f-bomb in the chorus (which I can't stop singing, btw), but because of the overall sound. One of my favorite albums of the year.

December 14, 2010

Seriously?

I read this morning that the judge who ruled the mandate unconstitutional has a stake in lobbying firms who opposed the bill? Seriously? why is it that Republicans can get away with politicizing the law so easily? Trust me, had this gone the other way and the judge been associated with a pro-healthcare bill firm, Fox would have exploded.

Oh, and I am reminded that Republicans killed a bill that would have provided healthcare for 9-11 responders--who, in many cases, have some pretty unique healthcare needs. Why is it that these fuckers can use 9-11 to promote their bigotry against Muslims, or justify more war, or to demonize Democrats as unpatriotic, but they can't be bothered to take care of the responders?

I realize there are serious and reasonable Republicans. But I don't see a one in their leadership. Not one. I see people who look at the deficit and still want to cut taxes. People who's only concern is that wealthy people have more money.

And the fact that supposedly moral people back these idiots is disheartening. To put it mildly.

Starve the beast

Even though clearly that doesn't work. Don't ever buy this as fiscal responsibility. It is the opposite.

Tax deal passes Senate test vote - The Boston Globe: "But the Senate’s minority leader, Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, said in a floor speech that the compromise was an essential first step toward addressing the nation’s deficit, by “cutting off the spigot’’ of tax income to the federal government to force Congress to make spending cuts."

Federal judge in Va. strikes down part of health-care law

I am sure you all saw this.

Couple points. A) I love how Republicans are cheering that ruling as if it is the only one on the ACA and the mandate. Two other judges have ruled it constitutional.

B) I really hate how conservatives claim to own the Constitution. That is how Virginia AG Cuccinelli framed it in his victory speech, "This is a victory for the constitution," or words to that effect. Like Palin's assumption that she represents real America, or every Republican's belief that they are more patriotic than Democrats, I find it annoying that they think that they alone value the Constitution.

C) The judge and Cuccinelli can't be more wrong here. When they say that people who don't buy insurance are "not engaging in commerce," they are wrong. They would be right if that decision had no impact on the rest of us. If someone decides to not buy car insurance, because they have no car, that is inaction. That is not buying something, and that has no impact on me. But if my neighbor refuses to buy insurance, then ends up in the ER with a collapsed lung, someone will have to pay for that.

I am seriously not sure how conservatives miss that.

December 13, 2010

Interesting post on the SPLC's decision to add the Family Research Council to the hate group list

And I post this with reservations, since I know this is the kind of thing that brings out the trolls. But there is some good stuff here, and some good challenges to those who are not supportive of gay rights.

The Ten Lies about the GLBT Community Told by Conservative Hate Groups: a Straight Christian Perspective | Canyonwalker Connections

Because we have not talked about evolution in a bit

I point to this post from slacktivist about Al Mohler and the weird way in which evolution is a "belief" system. And I also loved this from the comments:
"The simplest argument to make, I have found, is to use the Seasonal Flu Shot test. When I'm confronted by Christians who insist that to embrace evolution is to deny God, I ask if their Christian beliefs permit them to be vaccinated every year against the flu. Nearly always I receive a 'yes'. At which point I explain that if evolution is false, flu shots cannot work. Seasonal flu shots are evolution in a very simplified, quick-action form, but what makes them work (and each season's new, modified shots effective) is based in evolution. If evolution is false, then flu shots are false. Furthermore, GETTING flu shots is to deny Christ.

But I don't know that I've actually changed anyone's mind about anything other than, 'Stop arguing theology and evolution with her.'"


The Onion on another bias against some students


In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?

December 10, 2010

Insight into Republican policies

No wonder they want to give tax breaks to the rich, and have very little concern for the working poor. According to Kate O'Beirne, parents of children who get their breakfast at school are criminally negligent:
"'If that’s how many parents are incapable of pulling together a bowl of cereal and a banana, then we have problems that are way bigger than -- that problem can’t be solved with a school breakfast, because we have parents who are just criminally ... criminally negligent with respect to raising children.'"

December 9, 2010

Actually, this is the return of the Red Scare

Nice article from Newsweek about the American Exceptionalism issue among the religious right and conservative right. Reading this through, one can hear the vestiges of McCarthyism, and I have to say I feel nervous. I certainly don't trust the so-called Christians on this. You would think that a people who claim a history of persecution would be sensitive to attacking others for their beliefs. Of course, that implies a historical memory, and the religious right has none. In their mind, this is their country.

SOF and I were talking the other night about the Southern Baptist conservative takeover during the 80s when conservatives purged seminaries and convention leadership of people they deemed too liberal. Both of us were changed during that, and our respect for this historic denomination went down. For me, it was the first time I was really told that I was no longer welcome in an organization where I had been raised. Oh, sure, I could stay. But I could not stay and question their assumptions. I couldn't stay and question their oppression of women. Nor their belief in inerrancy. I and other liberals were free to leave, because conservatives decided that the Southern Baptist Convention was theirs.

I wonder if I will be welcome in their America? I doubt it. Sarah Palin has made it quite clear, and Christine O'Donnell echoes that sentiment that they are Real America, not us liberals. I have heard it from distant relatives who told me that liberals were unAmerican, and who, while proclaiming their deep faith, choose to stop communicating with me because I was a liberal.

I find it odd that these same people have demanded that I be sufficiently patriotic. I have been criticized for refusing to raise an American flag over my house. I have been criticized for dissenting against conservative Presidents (dissenting against Obama is, of course, fine). This is their country, so they tell me, and I am free to go elsewhere if I don't like it.

No surprise to those reading here, I find their sense of patriotism arrogant. And I find their Christianity to be markedly lacking in, well, Christianity. If they are Christian, then I want nothing to do with that faith. I feel like Ghandi when he said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians," since they were so unlike Christ.

As for patriotism, I seem to quote Samuel Johnson a lot, but watching Palin, Beck, and Bachmann--and then watching adult so-called Christians follow them--I am reminded that "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel."

December 8, 2010

Republican thugs

Yeah, I know that is shocking, coming from me. But this last deal over tax cuts just has me amazed. And yeah, I am annoyed with Obama. Not for compromising, but for the fact that he seems to start the negotiation after compromising. Then has to compromise from there.

Because the Republican leadership doesn't compromise. And this last deal demonstrates that they are absolutely lying when they say they care about the deficit. They don't give a shit about anything except making rich people richer. That's it. That is the secret.

Think about what they did. They looked at the prospect of continuing unemployment benefits to people struggling to pay bills, stay in houses, and, you know, put food on the table--and they said, you know what we can do here? Get richer.

So they took hostages, and would not release them unless the richest of the rich got their tax cuts. Don't possibly try to tell me that Republicans care about the working class. And don't even try to tell me that they care about the working poor. They only care about the wealthiest.

Thugs. Organized criminals.

And you know what? The Christian right will cheer them on. Today, I read a great article by our friend Greg on the "religious left" in Oklahoma. My favorite part was this story of a Norman minister who retired early over this craziness:
“Over the last several years, I have become so disillusioned about what is being pandered about as ‘Christian values,’ that I actually retired early,” he wrote, “because I did not think my congregation and others that I knew about were open to actually hear the ‘Christian message’ or even information about ‘basic human rights.’”

To make sure he “wasn’t going off the deep end,” the former minister said he re-read the prophets and the Old Testament.

“Their writings are seldom prophesies about the future,” he wrote. “Over and over, they use harsh language for the leaders and the wealthy because of their neglect of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the strangers.”

The retired pastor said the election pushed him “over the edge” this year.

“Millions in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands of people in Oklahoma have no health insurance, and the ‘Christian’ politicians brag about going to Washington to destroy the measly little progress which was made on health care this year,” he wrote."
Don't tell me the Christian right cares about the poor. In yet another story I read today, Michele Bachmann and her idiots in Congress wrote a letter to Obama complaining that he doesn't say "God" enough.

And then it hit me. Conservative Christianity is about shouting "Jesus" at the top of your lungs while you defend the powerful and well-heeled, and the torturers, and the polluters, and the abusers.

Elizabeth Edwards, RIP

God I just hated seeing that headline yesterday. I knew she had taken a turn for the worse, but didn't realize how bad.

But what a woman! What an amazing woman. And I have multiple fears about how she will be remembered in this culture.

First, as a victim. If anyone was not a victim in the face of tragedy, it was Elizabeth Edwards. Losing a teen child, breast cancer, and then a cheating husband--and I never saw a defeated person. She was out there talking about people and what mattered. I don't know that I can remember a braver person.

Second, much as I am afraid that Helen Keller is misremembered only for her handicapped status, Edwards will be remembered by those on the right as a tragic victim of breast cancer and proof that John Edwards was a fraud. They won't remember her tirelessly fighting for universal healthcare and her fight against poverty. She was not just some tragic story, she was a shaper of policy, and a reformer.

I grieve this morning because we lost a champion yesterday. And I can only imagine the pain for her children and those closest to her. But I think in awe about her strength and wonder if I have even a scintilla of it inside me.

RIP, Elizabeth Edwards. You will be missed.

December 6, 2010

A Streak Update

Realized that I have not written about our little guy and his condition for a while. The news has largely been good since he came back from the brink around Labor Day. We are in between chemo rounds right now, and kind of enjoying that. He gets pretty worn out on day 5 and 6 of each round. And there is little doubt that he is clearly an old dog now. Without proper rest he really struggles to move around well.

But even as I say that, this morning I took him out before heading out for school and he refused to come in because he was very, very interested in a tree rat (squirrel) running on top of the fence.

We tell him every day that we are in the bonus round. And we will enjoy that.

Prescient on Torture

I am looking back through the blog and discovered this post from 2004 where I quote from Kevin Drum on the possible phases of the torture story. Tell me that he was not absolutely on point:
"Phase 1: horrible, just horrible. Phase 2: yes, it's bad, but keep in mind that it's not as bad as Saddam. Phase 3: give it a rest, OK?"

American Exceptionalism and Wikileaks--some thoughts

I haven't had time to blog about the Wikileaks, but think that it has been a whole lot of "what else is new?" Who really thought that diplomats snipe about each other behind the scenes?

The only surprising thing, and it wasn't shocking, was the revelation that many of Iran's neighboring Muslim countries want the US or Israel to attack Iran. Makes me think that we are in danger of repeating the same mistake we made during the Cold War when we assumed that all countries calling themselves Communist were monolithically behind the Soviet Union. We know for sure that isn't the case. Why do we assume that all Muslim countries think alike? Or that all Muslims think alike? Or even that all Muslims who hate us think alike. We made a mistake (often) of making Communists our enemies even when they might have disliked the Soviets or the Chinese more than we did. I hope we don't make the same mistake with terrorism.

And this thing of American Exceptionalism is back in the news. Well, has been since the 2008 election. SOF noticed that Palin makes a point of bragging about how she believes in American Exceptionalism, and taking shots at Obama for supposedly not.

I can't help but wonder if we are talking about the same things here. Language is tricky. I really wonder if Sarah Palin brags about believing in American Exceptionalism simply because she believes that we are super good. This blog suggests that many very conservative homsechoolers see Exceptionalism as another way of saying that America is a Christian nation, or
"defined as the idea that America has a special place in God’s plan for history"
.
Others still see it as a critique of American arrogance, and that is certainly how I have used it in class. Indeed, as Michael Kinsley put it:
American exceptionalism—the belief that the rules of nature and humanity don’t apply to us—
So when we argue about American Exceptionalism, what do we mean? I seriously have doubts now about Palin's intelligence and would not be a bit surprised if she has no idea that there is an entire intellectual world out there that talks about these things. Nor does she care.

But it does seem to me that we might benefit from at least talking about the same definition if we are going to argue for or against.

December 2, 2010

Thursday rant--Republicans, climate change, DADT, and protect the rich

A rant I sent out to a few friends.

********

Saw this morning that the incoming Republican majority will cancel the panel on climate change. After all, why study something that isn't happening? And why isn't it happening? Because the Bible doesn't talk about climate change, but does say that God won't destroy the world through floods. Again.

But then again, who needs polar bears, right? Not when we can focus on the business at hand--protecting the unbelievably low tax rates of millionaires. Because the Republicans are for the average man. Unless he is in the lower middle class and has either seen his wages stagnate, savings disappear, and debt soar. Or if he has lost his job in this recession (that wasn't really that bad, and we shouldn't have done anything about it anyway). So he is trying to get a job in a crappy economy and trying to avoid bankruptcy or losing his house? No, more important to protect the low taxes of Rupert and his minions. Because taxes are evil. Duh.

In other news, of course, Republicans are standing on principle to sue the Government over the ACA. Because, as they know very well, people should have to earn access to healthcare. If they are too poor or too sick to get healthcare, fuck them. Oh, and we will keep the gays from serving openly. Not because conservatives hate gays. Or maybe.

In kentucky, using state tax support, they are planning to build an amusement park for Creationists. And here in Oklahoma, 70 percent voted against those evil Mooslims, and any of those "foreigners." Not that the Republican party has issues with bigotry. Oh no. And while our Governor-elect trotted out the dog whistle against her opponent that she might be gay. Didn't say that, of course, but hinted at it by calling attention to the fact that she has never married. And our family values Republican is on her second family--which I have no problem with, btw, but just wish that family values meant something other than a weapon to beat the shit out of Democrats. Republicans can cheat, divorce, adulterize, whatever. Hell, they can hire prostitutes and serve in the Senate.

Republicans can cheat on their wives, as long as it is not with another man.

It is enough to make me weep openly. But I think I will go look at pictures of polar bears while they still exist.

Nice--Republicans will just close the House panel on climate change

After all, no point in having a panel on a mythical event, or another example of how the GOP has become the bastion of anti-intellectualism.

November 30, 2010

White Evangelicals and politics

Reading around this morning, I found this Pew Forum poll on political views and religion. Some very interesting things in there, including, I think, some confirmation that a lot of conservative evangelicals hold political beliefs that are not filtered through their faith. As I read the report, evangelicals see homosexual issues and abortion through the lens of their faith, but not issues like immigration and the environment. (Oddly enough, btw, white evangelicals support more stricter environmental regulations. They just don't vote that way.)

I have been musing for sometime that conservative evangelicals (and probably not just them) compartmentalize their faith and their politics. Over here, we have faith and "quiet times" and BSF meetings and the "personal relationship with Jesus as most important thing in the world." In that world, concern for the poor and the prisoner are at least talked about.

But over here, we have politics where tax cuts dominate, and government programs for the poor are derided as helping "welfare queens" and encouraging "dependency" and "laziness." Here, prisoners are to be feared and it is ok if they are executed in an unfair system or tortured if in the wrong place at the wrong time in the "war on Terror."

I am not sure why the disconnect, frankly. But I think it is partly because the church themselves have decided that certain topics and moral issues are not church worthy. They can and do grapple with the concept of marriage and homosexuality and abortion, but do not, in the main, grapple with the environment, torture, capital punishment, or even the broader issues of poverty. As I have told a friend of mine, when the church refuses to address these moral issues, they abdicate their role as moral leader and essentially leave that to Fox News (for the conservative church goer) or other institutions.

I remember well that Pew poll that showed some 60% of white evangelicals supporting torture in some form. Many of those polled said that their support for Bush's torture regime was not based in their faith at all. In fact, when asked to address torture through the lens of their faith, support dropped.

November 26, 2010

George Bush--the Decider

Perhaps not what you want to read on the day after Thanksgiving, but it is still better than reading that the right is now convinced that socialists almost killed Thanksgiving, because for them, private property is magical--like tax cuts. Sigh.

But back to the Decider. George Packer has a great review of Bush's "memoir" that will make you remember probably more than you wanted. But as Packer points out, the book probably reveals more of the Bush flaws than he intended to reveal. Oh, his supporters will not see them, but they are as much present in the book as they are in Bush's sad life as President. His lack of ability to grasp ambiguity or nuance is ever present:
The structure of “Decision Points,” with each chapter centered on a key issue—stem-cell research, interrogation and wiretapping, the invasion of Iraq, the fight against AIDS in Africa, the surge, the “freedom agenda,” the financial crisis—reveals the essential qualities of the Decider. There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it’s over, and there’s no looking back.
But more disturbing, I think, than his lack of critical thought about those key decisions, is his complete lack of introspection even now. During his administration, I found it amazing that Bush could never admit error. The Buck didn't even come close to his desk. Any failures were the fault of so many other people, but never his. I was always amazed by that, and the fact that so many conservative Christians seemed to make excuses for that fact. What they saw as arrogance in me, for example, they saw as strength with Bush. Packer notes that Bush constantly caricatures opposing views--they are never legitimate or possibly equal choices that he simply doesn't choose, they are the lesser arguments of people who's motivation is not as good as his own.

Ultimately, I see Bush as a tragic figure--a man in way over his head who could never quite make sense of his own inadequacies. That is a difficult thing for all of us, of course. It is not easy to recognize your failures and limitations. I know others like him, but in them, the consequences are not as tragic for others.
Yet “Decision Points”—indeed, the whole trajectory of Bush’s Presidency—suggests that he had the information but not the character to face it. “I waited over three years for a successful strategy,” he says in a chapter called “Surge.” But what sort of wartime leader—a term he likes to use—would “wait” for three years, rather than demand a better strategy and the heads of his failed advisers? “Only after the sectarian violence erupted in 2006 did it become clear that more security was needed before political progress could continue,” he writes. It’s a statement to make anyone who spent time in Iraq from 2003 onward laugh or cry. During the war years, Bush fell in love with his own resolve, his refusal to waver, and this flaw cost Iraqis and Americans dearly. For him, the war remains “eternally right,” a success with unfortunate footnotes. His decisions, he still believes, made America safer, gave Iraqis hope, and changed the future of the Middle East for the better. Of these three claims, only one is true—the second—and it’s a truth steeped in tragedy.

November 24, 2010

Palin Slams Michelle Obama Again, This Time For Anti-Obesity Campaign

Perhaps there is more to Sarah Palin, I don't know. One would think there would have to be. But she demonstrates over and over that she is a proud idiot. Doesn't know anything and doesn't care to learn.

First, she appears on Glenn Beck's radio show and says that We've got to stand with our North Korean allies. Easy mistake to make, right? But she follows Beck's correction with, "Eh, yeah. And we're also bound by prudence to stand with our South Korean allies, yes." Also. Not "oh right." Because, the Palinator is never wrong.

And then she slams Michele Obama for her campaign against obesity, because as the former Governor thinks, Obama hates America and wants a big government to step in and raise your kids.

As I joked on Facebook, one can only imagine Palin's response to other big government first ladies. Eleanor Roosevelt actually caring about civil rights, or Nancy Reagan daring to tell kids not to use drugs. And what about Bush's push for literacy? Who is the government to tell Sarah Palin that her kids should not take drugs and might want to learn to read.

Dumb? I think yes. Dangerous? Absolutely. She has God on her side and if ever given power as John McCain wanted to do, she would probably bomb our allies because she didn't recognize the country.

November 23, 2010

Your Sarah Palin crazy moment for the day

Actually, not really crazy, but actually sad. And ironic. When she tells her buddy Sean Hannity that she is interested in working outside her Fox bubble (my words), but won't waste her time with Katie Couric, she adds this typically Palinesque critique of the media:
"'I want to help clean up the state that is so sorry today of journalism,' she added. 'And I have a communications degree."
And she wants to be President. Of course, we have already had one idiot as President, so why not? And speaking of that guy, we might want to remember what he actually did as President--invading a country on false intelligence and then authorizing torture--regardless of the story he is telling now.

But it isn't just Bush and Palin. Just reading through the Huffingtonpost this morning, I see that Rand Paul compares Obama to Hitler, and Michelle Bachmann says that Obama is anti-American.

And this, as SOF pointed out to me, from the Simpsons, on the racism of the right.



People like to point to the crazies on the left, including some from the 60s who advocated violence. Those groups were not incorporated into the Democratic party. In fact, they hated the Democratic party. But on the Right, the Republicans have worked very hard to make the racists and crazies feel at home.

November 21, 2010

The Tea Party's white past

Is the Tea Party racist? I think so, though I suspect for most of them they don't even realize that they are racist. It is buried in their subconscious, and only the fact that their President is now a dark skinned man has brought it out. And even then, it isn't at the surface for so many.

But the racism is there. It is there in a high school acquaintance of mine who shocked me on Facebook by saying that we should absolutely not send money to Haiti, since they weren't grateful for it anyway. And in so many other ways.

But I am working my way through Jill Lepore's The Whites of their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the battle over American History and enjoying it immensely. Lepore moves nicely between the past and the present, and along the way, reminds me of a lot of things I had forgotten and teaches me some things I didn't know. For example, I am reminded in her book that Robert Bork was the guy who agreed to fired Archibald Cox, and that conservatives considered him a great mind worthy of the Supreme Court.

But Lepore makes some very good historical linkages that, as a specialist in the post Civil War, I had simply forgotten. Those early Tea Partiers and revolutionaries were battling within themselves over that great American sin: slavery. In fact, there were movements to abolish slavery at the time, and the first Tea Party had to decide whether to fight that battle then, or lose the South in the fight against the British. They chose, of course, to unite against the British. Samuel Johnson, the British writer, noted the incongruity when he sarcastically asked "how is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?"

Lepore, however, notes that the modern Tea Party sees none of this nuance and conflict.
But it wasn't the whiteness of the Tea Party that I found most striking. It was the whiteness of their Revolution. The founding Fathers were the whites of their eyes, a fantasy of an America before race, without race. There were very few black people in the Tea Party, but there are no black people at all in the Tea Party's eighteenth century. Nor for that matter, were there any women, aside from Abigail Adams, and no slavery, poverty, ignorance, insanity, sickness or misery. Nor was there any art, literature, sex, pleasure or humor. There were only the Founding Fathers with their white wigs, wearing their three-cornered hats, in their Christian nation, revolting against taxes, and defending their right to bear arms.
To a certain degree, Lepore sees the historical profession at fault for this. Historians are often criticized for writing only for other historians, and avoiding the broad narrative in favor of the issues of race, class and gender, and to a degree, rightly so.

But as Lepore notes, that criticism comes from inside the profession as well, and that fact alone reveals the difference between the Tea Party's non-history and the rational world.
Scholars criticize and argue--and must, and can--because scholars share a common set of ideas about how to argue, and what counts as evidence. But the far right's American history--its antihistory--existed outside of argument and had no interest in evidence. It was as much a fiction as the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, reductive, unitary, and, finally, dangerously antipluralist. It erased slavery from American history and compressed a quarter century of political contest into "the founding," as if ideas worked out, over decades of debate and fierce disagreement, were held by everyone, from the start. "Who's your favorite Founder?" Glenn Beck asked Sarah Palin. "Um, you know, well," she said. "All of them."

There was though, something heartbreaking in all this. Behind the Tea Party's Revolution lay nostalgia for an imagined time--the 1950s, maybe, of the 1940s--less riven by strife, less troubled by conflict, less riddled with ambiguity, less divided by race. In that nostalgia was the remembrance of childhood, a yearning for a common past, bulwark against a divided present, comfort against an uncertain future." (96-97)
Lepore says it better than I ever could, but I always find this kind of Disney history sad. The past is so complex and so interesting and this rewriting blanches it into nothingness, and turns complicated people into cardboard figures. And when they then base public policy on that fake past, then we all lose.

November 19, 2010

On Conservatives and War--Part II

American Family Association's Bryan Fischer thinks that we have feminized the Medal of Honor by rewarding only defensive heros and says that "the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war..."

November 18, 2010

Patriotism and loyalty. And then there is Dick Cheney and Karl Rove

Had a weird conversation with a conservative friend the other day. He is a former Marine and posted one of those Facebook pass-ons:
I am an UN-APOLOGETIC AMERICAN!! I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of AMERICA, and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, one nation under GOD, indivisible, with LIBERTY and JUSTICE for all!! I grew up reciting this every morning in school. We no longer do that for ...fear of OFFENDING SOMEONE!! Let's see...how many AMERICANS will re-post this & not care about offending someone!
I questioned him on the side. I didn't want to get into it with his people. Again. I got into trouble the last time when I questioned why their local school district had been teaching a bible study during school hours.

He is a good guy and his ministry spends a lot of time working with people in Mexico. But there is this kneejerk patriotism that just seems everywhere on the right. During our exchange, he noted that he had served and yet there were people everywhere who apologized for America and even wanted to desecrate the flag.

I was thinking about this, perhaps, because I just completed a lecture on the Red Scare (second one). I was reminded that our anti-communism led us to add "under God" in 1954, and that the Pledge was then, and now, considered a loyalty oath by the far right. Any who questioned it must be communist or anti-American. And I was reminded how fucking easy it has been for conservatives to question the loyalties of liberals.

Then I read David Corn's summary of the Plame debacle and was reminded how conservatives are quite willing to cheer disloyalty and even activities that undermine our national security--when it suits them. I don't think any of my far right conservative friends or relatives ever stood up and said that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove were unAmerican. Even after we knew that they exposed the identity of a covert agent for a political vendetta. We don't even know the extent of the damage. But as Plame herself noted, after that, surely our enemies were going through their address books and seeing who they knew who might have had contact with her. How many of those "assets" ended up in torture chambers or dead? It isn't a reach to think some.

All because Dick Cheney wanted a political critic silenced. All because he didn't like a vocal critic of their war policy. Yet the far right still sees Dick Cheney as a patriot and a loyal American. But someone who burns a flag or doesn't repeat the Pledge?

You tell me who has caused more damage to our national security.

November 14, 2010

Just too good not to post (with f-bomb warning)

Just received this in an email:

Subject: Word play

Did you know that… if you rearrange the letters in "so-called Tea Party Republicans," and add just a few more letters, it spells: "Shut the fuck up you free-loading, progress-blocking, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, violent, hypocritical douche bags, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and get over it that our President is black."

November 12, 2010

Oh Sweet Jesus! Bush plagiarizes his own memoir?

George Bush Lifted Passages Of Memoir From Advisers' Books

A couple things that annoy me this morning

Actually, there are several, but I can't post about some. But last night, I was thinking about our gubernatorial race this last month where Republican Mary Fallin said that she was a superior candidate because she had born children. Left unsaid, of course, was the fact that her opponent, Jeri Askins, had not. Fallin's statement annoyed for several reasons; her assumption that motherhood was related, and that her motherhood stretched over two marriages yet she was able to invoke the family values Republican bullshit, or that it was code for spreading a rumor that Askins is gay.

Thinking about that last one, I realized how angry that made me at conservatives and conservative Christians for their bullshit about homosexuality. I don't know that Askins is gay or not gay--it matters not to me. But if she were, she actually fits the model of what conservative Christians say about homosexuality. After all, and again, we know nothing about her sexuality beyond the fact that she has never married, but if she were gay, she has not openly acted on it, and has, in fact, kept it under wraps.

The fact that the rumor plays is proof that when so many conservative Christians say that they "hate the sin, but love the sinner" is clearly bullshit. The rumor would not work if that were the case. When most conservatives say that they don't want homosexuals to act on it, they are lying. They don't want people who have homosexual feelings to exist. No matter if they act on it or not. They are repulsed by them, period. Perhaps because of their own sexual inadequacy, I don't know. But this is why conservative evangelicals and conservative Christians have very little credibility when they say they aren't opposed to gay people, but they just don't want them to marry, or they just don't want them to adopt. They don't want them to be, and they will never look at a person who has those feelings as normal, regardless of what they do. Bullshit.

*****

Speaking of bullshit, our former president has supposedly "written" a book. I had always thought you needed to read at least one book before writing one, but who am I to say? But W is on his "book tour" and starting the process of trying to rehabilitate his presidency with claims like the good one that he was actually a dissenting voice on the Iraq war.

Whatever.

But one that caught my eye was his revelation that Cheney was very angry with him for not pardoning Scooter Libby:
"Bush recounts that a furious Cheney told him: 'I can't believe you're going to leave a soldier on the battlefield.'"
Just a point here. When Cheney talks about a battlefield and a soldier, he is talking about a war against liberals, not Al Qaeda. Cheney, himself, had no problem throwing Valerie Plame to the wolves even though she worked on fucking WMDs for US. His battlefield has nothing to do with terrorism, and everything to do with his arrogant sense that American belongs to warmongering asshats like Cheney and Wolfowitz, and that his real enemies are liberals.

Bush reports that he was concerned that the Libby issue would scar his friendship with Cheney, but says that they are good friends now.

Goodie.

November 10, 2010

Do Conservatives love war?

I don't know. And I am not sure that this guy made his argument, but I must say there is a question to be asked. The responses to Bush and war, added to the drumbeat for Iran make me really wonder.

November 7, 2010

Conservatives and compassion

I actually kind of liked Bush's whole "compassionate conservatism," because I liked the idea. I wasn't ever convinced that he really meant it, but I liked the idea.

But I am increasingly convinced that most conservative policies are driven by self-interest. If it doesn't touch me, personally, then I don't want to pay for it. If the Iraq war doesn't effect me, then why should I care? If the Patriot Act doesn't actually change my life (because I have nothing to hide), then who cares? If we are torturing people who aren't like me, why should I care? And if tax increases won't actually help me personally, then why should I pay more?

And you see that in Texas after Tuesday's election with talk of withdrawing from Medicaid altogether. Some of them, at least, are talking about maintaining care, but just funding it at the local level, but I don't trust that at all. The complaint comes from the fact that more people are added to the Medicaid rolls. And conservatives don't think that healthcare is a right. You have to deserve and earn access to life-saving treatment. Just being human isn't enough. All that shit about our "Creator" endowing us with the right to life? Yeah, it doesn't mean for the poor. It means for the wealthy and the well-heeled.

I would love to hear otherwise, I really would. I hear a lot of conservatives saying that of course the poor should be taken care of, but not by the government. And I hear a lot of people saying that the Bible doesn't command the government to take care of poor people. And if we are talking about soup kitchens, and are talking about a non-depression era where the amount of poor is relatively manageable, then maybe. But if we are talking about access to life-saving, and incredibly expensive healthcare, then I have to say bullshit. Conservatives don't have an alternative. Local churches are not going to be able to fund home-care for the disabled, nor are they equipped to pay for a chronic disease. So, if that is true, the alternative is either the government or conservatives telling them to just go without.

If that is Christian, then Christ was incredibly callous and uncaring. And I don't believe that for an instant. But that is how the people most loudly proclaiming their faith act. Those who shout "Jesus" the loudest seem to have very little compassion for anyone other than themselves. How unimpressive that is.

November 3, 2010

Serious question

I hear the mantra from the left (and some from the middle) that Obama and the Democrats have done a bad job of communicating their accomplishments. I wonder about that, simply because I am unsure how that is supposed to work. Do any of us listen to politicians when they make their pitch? Has anyone ever listened to a presidential radio address?

Seems to me that we have several problems. 1) We are fighting against people who use propaganda shamelessly. How do you counter Glenn Beck? 2) We have a shortage of simplistic slogans. How do you explain complexity in the fact of "socialized medicine" or "death panels?" 3) We have a paradox of success. Republicans can rail against unseen and phantom ills. "Look out, a Mooslim might be behind that bush," while Democrats are supposed to take credit for subtle successes like ridding the country of pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps. If you, or your family don't have a pre-existing condition and have never had a serious illness, why do you care? Besides being a human, that is.

And ultimately, Republicans can appeal to people's baser instincts. Fear those people, and we will cut your taxes and stop lazy people from getting your money. Democrats are tasked with asking people to invest in things--things that they personally may not profit from. I think we can do it, but I am not sure how when Republicans are the way they are.

November 2, 2010

Ugh, democracy hurts

I am reminded tonight of 2004, and the dark morning after Bush's reelection. That next day, I wrote this angry and sad post. I reread it tonight and remember that pain.

Tonight I am not in as much pain because I am not as surprised. I have expected this. I am saddened, however, as I don't understand the anger at expanding healthcare and rescuing the economy. I don't get that.

Hell, there is so much I don't get. Here in Oklahoma, we passed a law banning the use of Sharia law in our courts. Yeah, that is right. And no, it wasn't a problem before now. And it hasn't been a problem anywhere. No, this is just simply bigotry and racism written into our code. Thank your local Republican for that. Something clicked in the last few years and they have decided that open hatred of Muslims is a good and Christian thing to do. Plus, because it is simple to sell to ignorant and uninformed people, it makes for good politics. "Look, there might be a Muslim hiding behind that tree!"

Unfortunately, it isn't just Muslims, but also Mexicans. Also here in Oklahoma, our new Governor proudly proclaimed her support for the law in Arizona, and in one race, opponents of a Democrat placed Mexican flags next to his yard signs. "Vote for this guy and the Mexicans will bring in Muslims to kill you."

Meanwhile, of course, we refuse to fund anything meaningful and good. That same new Governor promises lower taxes. As God is my witness, I have no clue how taxes in Oklahoma could get lower. I know that support for education could get lower. I know that attention to the disabled and poor could get lower--though that seems hard to fathom.

In all seriousness, I really need a thoughtful Republican to explain to me how the modern GOP can't be described by the following slogan: "I have mine, you can fuck off!"

Even, might I add, if that "mine" came with the assistance of tax-payer money. Perhaps a rewrite could be "I have mine, but have no interest in helping any of you."

As always, I must say that my biggest disappointment remains with the religious right. I grew up among them and thought at least there was a shred of moral consistency. But they voted for David Vitter tonight (in huge numbers). Hiring prostitutes wasn't an impediment to reelection. Passing healthcare, however, was. I look at the conservative church and I see hatred for the poor, for the uninsured, and for the environment. I see fear and loathing for Muslims, and that might not even sum it up. I see people who are so convinced that God is on their side, that they see liberals as their enemies. Not people with whom they can disagree, but actual enemies. A member of our distant family stopped talking to me because I am a supporter of Obama.

As I said in 2004, I will survive this. I will focus more on music and my friends. I resent, however, how this political environment makes me feel as if concern for others is a liability, and that selfishness is a virtue. How does that happen among people who wave that Bible around like a prop? How do selfishness and mean-spiritedness and ignorance and racism and hatred become virtues in that world? How do concern and compassion become weakness?

There are two things I really battle this evening. One is to simply disconnect from politics completely and just say "fuck it," and let the environment and the poor and education go downhill. That is what the people want, they should have it. We shall see if that happens. I hope that this loss will shock the progressive community out of their passivity and get them to fight for what they value.

But the second one is harder. As with 2004, I find myself wanting to be less associated with Christianity. I find so much of it on the right to be so very unchristian and so unlike Christ. I really want nothing to do with it. I want nothing to do with the squabbles over parsed scripture, and the debates about the gays and the fear and the false righteousness and the fact that the religious conservative population has become more conservative than Christian. I still want to believe. But I struggle to believe in a God who's followers are so hateful.

But tomorrow, I will get up and go teach, and hug my wife and my dogs and see some friends. I will listen to music and hopefully find some time to pick up an instrument. And this weekend, my friends will gather to bemoan this election and hoist a drink or two.

October 31, 2010

The Tea Party and history

Picked up Jill Lepore's The Whites of their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the battle over American History yesterday.  Lepore is a great historian, but unfortunately, the very people who need to read this will never know it exists.  This book, after all, lacks a Glenn Beck blurb on the back.  But this book is right in my wheel-house--because Lepore understands that historical narratives like this occur in a cultural context.

I will post more on the book as I work my way through, but found this great line from her introduction on the perils of fundamentalism.
Historical fundamentalism is marked by the belief that a particular and quite narrowly defined past--"the founding"--is ageless and sacred and to be worshipped; that certain historical texts--"the founding documents"--are to be read in the same spirit which religious fundamentalists read, for instance, the Ten Commandments; that the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired; that the academic study of history (whose standards of evidence and methods of analysis are based on skepticism) is a conspiracy and, furthermore, blasphemy; and that political arguments grounded in appeals to the founding documents, as sacred texts, and to the Founding Fathers, as prophets, are therefore incontrovertible.  

That very accurately describes what we see around us, I think, and explains how conservatives can assert that this is "their country," rather than "ours."   None of that makes me feel better, mind you, but it is good to see a historian stepping into the public sphere to discuss how history is written and understood.  And, if I understand her argument, she also is critical of the profession for not helping craft the narrative around the Bicentennial when the nation needed one.

Speaking of that, btw, though I didn't watch the rally, I took great pleasure in reading about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's "Rally for Sanity" yesterday.  Especially welcome were the wonderful signs.  A few of my favorites:

  • "I spell check my political rage."
  • "I'm generally okay with this administration!1! I just have points of disagreement I'd be happy to talk calmly about."
  • "Please STOP Trying to Take Back 'Your' Country. It's MINE Too! How 'Bout We SHARE?"
  • "Hitler was a total Nazi."
  • "GOD HATES FIGS."

October 30, 2010

Extending grace to a Tea Party thug

Is there anything more representative of the Christian faith? I will say that I have a lot of trouble with this very idea--of extending grace and compassion to people with whom I disagree vehemently. I try. In person, I am usually pretty good at it. Email and blog allows a certain distance and impersonalization, perhaps.

Anyway. One of the reasons I have found myself so very frustrated with Republicans and the idiots from the Tea Party is the open endorsement or licensing of anger and boorish behavior. People who brandish their Bibles are screaming epithets or spreading lies. And it was only a skip and step to people being actually violent. Of course, that right wing violence has surfaced in several attacks on police over the last two years, the assassination of Dr. Tiller in Kansas, and the crazed right winger who opened fire at the Holocaust museum.

Now it is occurring on the campaign trails. Everyone has heard about the Rand Paul supporter who stomped the head of a liberal woman. That's right. She was down on the ground and he stomped on her head. He then blamed her for it (along with the police) and then demanded that she apologize to him. This is an abusive man, and a criminal. Somehow, the Tea Party has told people like him that they are right to be angry and should be angry. Then they wonder when he stomps on a head.

Luckily, she is ok, but not quite willing to apologize. But she does respond with a level of grace and compassion that I could not muster.
"You and I, as fellow citizens, and we, as a country, have a choice. Either we choose to continue the cycle of inflicting violence upon each other, screaming at each other, insulting each other and putting one another down or we and find a way to sit down and start listening to each other. We'll see how far we get. We are all viciously and vociferously feeding a fire that will only burn us down together. We must reach inside ourselves and make space for each other. We must forgive each other. We must believe in our capacity for transformation. The moment we choose compassion and reconciliation is the moment that we will begin to move toward freedom. There is no other way.

I believe that you should be held accountable for your actions but I also recognize the incredibly negative impact that the consequences must be having on your life, and I wish you all the best as you yourself heal from this. Violence hurts everyone."

Some of my friends are not terribly convinced this approach will work. I just find myself so impressed with this young woman and wanting to believe that we can rise above this kind of bickering and violence. I know her response was the Christian response (though I have no clue about her religious preference, btw), but I am not sure I believe that will work.

October 29, 2010

Jesus the socialist

The best status update circulating around Facebook:

"Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You're thinking of Jesus."

So nice to read how conservatives respect democracy

Or hear, in this case, about how the Arizona anti-immigration law was written by private prison companies. And then, of course, written and handed to congressmen to promote in the state house--with no transparency or acknowledgement that that private prison company had paid to wine and dine these people. And no recognition in the public debate that a prison company stood to make a lot of money out of this.

I am seriously giving up on Republicans looking for good public policy. Their definition of that appears to be that it makes someone a lot of money. That is all. If it leads to great profits, it doesn't matter if it harms the environment, or civil liberties, or anything.

October 28, 2010

Tea Party/Republichristian rant.

I have been thinking about the Tea Party/Republican lie machine, and there is so much wrong there. Someone posted the list of 8 or so things that most Americans simply are misinformed about. TARP was approved by Bush, not Obama--and it is mostly being repaid. The Stimulus worked--just not as well as we would have liked because it wasn't big enough. Healthcare has the real possibility of cutting into the deficit--until the Republicans fuck it up, that is. And Obama has been more fiscally responsible than Bush was.

But facts don't matter. And the Tea Party doesn't even care about facts. And the Republican party only cares about having more votes. Facts are largely irrelevant to them as well.

Coming home this afternoon I heard a story about how Republicans (thanks to that evil little slug, Frank Lutz) have turned completely against any kind of climate change legislation. They refer to it as "myth," even though the scientific community--you know, the people who actually study climate and know the difference between it and "weather"--know it to be absolutely true. Every year, over the last few, have been warmer than the one before. That was true last year even though so many people experienced a hard winter.

But I have come to realize that conservatives--and this sadly includes those who profess loudly that God created the earth in 6 literal days--simply reject scientific evidence they don't like. Not because they have a working knowledge of the issues, mind you. But because they don't like the conclusion. Period. I am honestly trying to think of anything I do like that. I hate the idea of climate change. It fills me with a sense of foreboding. But I don't just deny it simply because I don't like the conclusion.

And how about those Christian conservatives? I hear from some that they too care about the environment, but they vote repeatedly for people who gut environmental regulations and protections. Every fucking time, actually. So I really don't want to hear about how creation is "proof of God" and all that bullshit. If it is so spiritual, why do you do nothing to protect it?

I honestly don't understand this brand of Christianity. I seriously don't. Evolution is a myth (because they are afraid of evolving from a less complex creature) but protecting the environment is liberal hippie bullshit. Evidently, their version of God doesn't really give a shit if creatures he supposedly created out of whole cloth go extinct. Especially, and absolutely, if saving that species were to inconvenience anyone.

Christianity, in this context, is about show. Those churches are glorified clubs, where people play ball and socialize. And yes, they donate some to the poor--even, of course, as they vote against the poor and vote for people who demonize the poor as lazy and immoral. And here on this blog, they flex their chests and say, "who are we liberals to make them give to the poor. God doesn't want them to be forced to give to the poor. They will do it on their own, thank you very much."

More bullshit. Well, it might not be if food kitchens were all it took to address poverty. But it isn't. And private charities have never been able to carry the load of all the need. And these people know it.

More show. Creationism as irony, I guess, when what it really means is that nature is to be exploited and used up. And once again, an itinerant preacher who avoided personal wealth and trappings of power is the poster child for the well-heeled and gated community set. Or the Preachers in the 1000 dollar suits who sit with Presidents and CEOs. A faith built on sacrifice and self-denial that is now all about self and all about feeding that self. Who are we to challenge how much money they make? Who are we to suggest that their consumption (and my own, to be sure) threatens species (including our own). Who are we to suggest that even illegal immigrants should be fed and taken care of?

In their Bible, God hates feminists and liberals and Muslims and gays. So many will not admit it, but is exactly how they vote. They long for a time when minorities knew their place and women had to stay married whether they liked it or their husband abused them. They won't admit it, but that is exactly how they vote. They cheer the torture of brown people in dark prisons, yet ironically watch Mel Gibson's Passion film with tears in their eyes. (Note: the Romans were as justified torturing Christ as we are torturing Muslims. Surely the Romans had a right to be afraid of insurgents in their midst?) They won't admit this, but, yeah, that is exactly how they vote. And they talk of God's creation and the beauty of his mountains and valleys and sunsets and sunrises, but really would prefer to live in luxury rather than talk about what that nature really means to our survival. And they really, really, really, don't mind if a few innocent people are executed in the name of justice. After all, those people have to be criminals. Why else would they be there? If capital punishment and torture were applied to white conservative Christians, they might just care. That is exactly how they vote.

Round 2

Took Streak in this morning for another round of chemo. I just did a review of the last time, and it was over Labor Day weekend that he finally pulled out from the last round. We are so grateful for this last 2 months. They have been magical and at times, he has seemed like his old self.

But it was time to do another round. This time, given Streak's age, we decided to do a half dose of the IV and some of the other drugs. And we are really going to watch his fluid intake and his stomach, because that seemed to be the problem last time.

I was doing fine this morning until I arrived at the clinic. While they gave him the IV, I went across the street to get some coffee and burst into tears in the parking lot. I keep thinking this will get easier--that the bonus time will some how make it not so hard.

Anyway. He is here today, and doing well. We will take that.

October 23, 2010

Baseball season and life

And yes, I am fully aware that my Yankees lost to the Texas Rangers last night. Eh, it happens. I can not and will not cheer for the Rangers, but they certainly deserved to win.

Last night, we watched Bull Durham, which is one of our favorite movies. Tightly written and without wasted scenes, it is one of the better sports movies out there. And I think I related to it because of the element of failure. I am Crash Davis in a different context--that of tenure track jobs. In fact, the film depresses me every time--at least just a little, because I feel his pain when a young person walks out of grad school into a tenure track job.

I wish this had the rest of the scene, but it is a great one.



After this, Crash introduces his friend Sandy who hit .376 one season in the minors. Crash himself has nearly set the record for home runs as a minor leaguer, but was only able to spend 20 some days in the majors, or "show."

Even better, and more apt, is the sense that Nuke actually deserves to go to the show. He has all the talents to succeed at the major league level, but the film suggests that despite his weaker physical skills, Crash would also make a great contribution if given the chance. His baseball intellect is far superior to those with greater talent.

I don't want to take this too far. I know full well that many of the people who landed tenure track jobs deserved them, and they will be much better "scholars" than I ever would. I don't have the drive to spend all of my time working on publications. But I also know a lot of people who, if I dare say so myself, are certainly no smarter than me, and some not even as smart, but were in the right place at the right time. Life has its unfairness, and that is not new.

When I step back from the ledge, I know that I rather enjoy my career in the minor leagues. I am a better teacher than many of my tenured colleagues, and my lifestyle gives me flexibility that few my age enjoy. Stability would be nice, but for now, it has worked for us.

I am also reminded, btw, of how little importance these things have when I watch friends around me struggle with loss or illness or tragedy. Job title is pretty meaningless in that context.

Anyway.

October 21, 2010

NPR was wrong to fire Williams for this

But not wrong to fire him. And Mara Liason should be next.

I didn't think that Williams' statement was that bad. He confessed a fear--which can be irrational--to seeing a Muslim on a plane. But he should have been fired, along with Liason, for their tendency to, in lieu of analysis, parrot Republican talking points. I have heard both do exactly that. Along, I might add, with Cokie Roberts.

TPM has a nice rundown, btw, on the right has demanded similar firings for slurs of Israeli Jews, but defend the right to slur Muslims.

The GOP--or the party of new ideas

Just read that one of Cantor's "Young Guns" (no, not the one who likes to dress up like a Nazi) wants to completely abolish public schools.  I am willing to admit that is a "new" idea, and I am sure we will be fine under a Republican majority.  After all, that is not unreasonable at all.  

Of course, it is perfectly in keeping with the Tea Party, as it their central principle appears to be "I have mine, so you are on your own." If you can afford to send your kids to private school, and have no sense of how education helps reduce crime and poverty--then what do you care about the unwashed?

But the GOP keeps turning them out.  If it isn't Christine O'Donnell puzzled by the contents of first amendment, it is former NFL lineman John Runyon who when asked to name a recent court case which he disagreed, he pulled out Dred Scott.  As I joked elsewhere, at least he is opposed to Dred, but good grief.  And isn't there anything more annoying than someone who has made millions in an artificially controlled environment made possible by the affluence of Americans--to spend their post sporting life trying to cut their taxes?  Perhaps Mr. Runyon should try plying his trade in one of those really low tax countries and see how much money a professional lineman would make there.  Or perhaps we are just seeing the end result of too many head injuries.  

And the list keeps coming.  Sharon Angle thinks that the Latino students look like Asians. She is a self-proclaimed values legislator, btw. That includes, evidently opposing states having to honor restraining orders from other states. But the "asian" comment is just weird.  That seemed important to her, and I am sure she will make a fine Senator.  I love that the GOP is running a guy in Florida who was nearly charged in Iraq for torturing a prisoner on the spot.  Nice.  And Club for Growth favorite, Pat Toomey is a great thinker.  This, from wikipedia caught my eye:
During Toomey's tenure in Congress, he supported legislation that would speed up approval of forest thinning projects in 2003, supported opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling and development, opposed implementing the Kyoto Protocol, and opposed legislation that would mandate increased vehicle fuel efficiency standards and provide incentives for alternative fuels.

These are all people who can win, mind you.  The party of new ideas.  

And let's not forget the actual policies.  The CDC just reported that the states with abstinence only sex ed have, and this is just shocking, the highest teen pregnancy rates.  I am sure there is no correlation, but it is interesting.  The liberal socialist gay loving states have much lower pregnancy rates.  And lower divorce rates.  

Meanwhile, I can't go anywhere without hearing that Obama has taken the country on a dramatic left turn. Man, I would love to see that. I seem to have missed all the leftist stuff. And when I hear that, I also hear that the Tea Partiers aren't concerned with Obama's race, but are just "mad as hell" about spending and the debt. Yeah, right. The right wing militias are back in vogue and incredibly popular again among the white middle class chicken-hawk contingent. For some odd reason, they were mostly no where to be found when Bush pushed through the Patriot Act. Just imagine the response to the PA under Clinton or Obama? But it isn't about race at all. No, the rise in death threats against the President is just because of the economy. The Tea Party had no problem with massive tax cuts during unfunded wars, but their driving philosophy is fiscal responsibility. Right. That is why so many of them are "birthers."

So, well done there conservatives. Well done. You must be proud.

October 19, 2010

From the who in the hell let Sharon Angle get this close to the Senate file

Angle To Latino Students: "Some Of You Look A Little More Asian To Me".

Ben Roethlisberger rediscovers his Jesus talk

Notice, that I didn't say "rediscovered Jesus." Maybe he has. I don't know. Let's just say that I have a healthy cynicism for famous people who like to tell me how much they love Jesus.

Full disclosure. I have always disliked Roethlisberger. I certainly was not surprised that he did well in the NFL, but I have always found him to be one of the examples of the fake Christianity that drives me crazy. I still remember him talking about how God had allowed him to start ahead of the other guy in college. Reminds me of David Carr thanking Jesus for a completion.


Of course, given how bad Carr has been as a pro, perhaps he should thank God for a completion. Except that is still stupid. Inanely stupid. And I am amazed at how Christians have allowed their faith--the one that they claim is central to their very existence--be so trivialized in the public square.

And Big Ben is back, and complete with all the God talk. Listening to his interview on ESPN the other day was sickening. It reeked of PR coaching, and front and center on that list has to be that you have to claim returning to God. I recognize that this might actually be true, but think that the "talk" about it is the trivialization part. And what annoys me is that it is only really available to right wingers. You can be accused of rape, after all, but returning to Jesus and begging forgiveness? Clean slate.

I am all for second and even third chances. And I am all for redemption. But I am tired of the right wing bastardization of the faith where only conservatives are forgiven. And in this case, we may have an abuser. I have to tell you, abusers don't stop abusing just because they discover God language. It doesn't happen.

And the amazing thing for me, is that conservative Christians seem to never follow up to hold accountability those pronouncing their God language. Accountability is part of the language too, but politicians and right wingers can claim that Jesus is their best friend, and no one shows up to check. I remember a guy who said that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher, and he went on to authorize torture. I expected (because I am naive) that Christian evangelicals would hold him accountable. Of course, they did not. They had stopped with the coded Jesus language and never bothered to inquire about how he actually lived.

If Ben is innocent, then I am sorry for his trials. I doubt he is, just because I am cynical about people who are used to being stars. I think they think they deserve what ever they want. But I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he might have actually seen the light. But spare me the God talk. Spare me the little aphorisms. Go out and treat others with respect, and then don't tell me about it.

October 17, 2010

The rage of the right--and their boorish behavior

Op-Ed Columnist - The Rage Won’t End on Election Day - NYTimes.com

Yeah, I know he is a liberal elitist from New York, but the litany of right wing hatred and boorish behavior is disturbing. It strikes me close to home, as I have seen people in my own circle (those on the right) either defend or tolerate the absolute boorishness. As someone said last year when they mused about the response if the Tea Party was black, the anger here, and the approval of that anger is perhaps the most disturbing thing. Any sign of anger from Obama was seen as a sign of some kind of radicalism on his part, while the Tea Party and Town Hallers shouted and even screamed their supposed anger. That meant screaming epithets at congresspeople, or even at the sick daring to defend healthcare.

And that has given us Carl Paladino and Sharon Angle. And Palin and the rest of the Republican party has either endorse, or looked the other way as they saw a political advantage.

I can say this with confidence. If I acted as they have, my conservative friends would be horrified--as would my liberal friends. This licensing of bad behavior is still disconcerting coming from the party that most readily claims a higher moral calling. I am not sure I have ever made complete sense of that--that the party of moral values could tolerate and even encourage Karl Rove and Ann Coulter. Yeah, yeah, the left has some bad actors. But when Representative Grayson compared his opponent to the Taliban, he was strongly rebuked by Jon Stewart for doing so. But when the right wingers go off the edge, we are told that "we need to understand their anger."

We are seeing the return of the idea that it is fine to be extreme and even hateful, as long as it is a right wing version of defending liberty. They truly believe it is their country and not ours.

October 16, 2010

This gay bashing has to stop

We have seen a rash of suicides around the country--or perhaps are just more aware of them. Here in Norman, the city council decided to declare October "GLBT History Month." A non-binding declaration like so many. Yet it brought out the anger on the other side. Anger is actually and understatement. Our local police chief was ‘disgusted’ by meeting comments:
"Cotten, who attended the Sept. 28 council meeting, said that even as the son of a “conservative Southern Baptist” minister, he knew many of the comments, including one that described the GLBT community as disease-ridden, weren’t right.

“It was totally uncalled for and mean-spirited,” he said of comments made by some members of the audience. “I was totally disgusted.”

Cotten said some of the audience members’ behaviors were so over-the-line that he “probably should’ve removed a few people.” He said he didn’t because Mayor Cindy Rosenthal never directed him to do so.

“I mean, I’m as straight a guy as there is and it was awful,” he said."

Cotten responded to the meeting because a local gay man went home and killed himself. Seems like every day we read of another gay youth who decides that they must be too damaged (since that is what they hear) that they might as well end it. Teenage years are so freaking tough anyway, and the sexual part of this is so damn complicated and hard to manage in the best of situations. Throw in some good old-fashioned homophobia, and it is even worse.

Which is why it was nice to see Cotten speak up, and nice to see (as Smitty noted at ATK the following video of a Fort Worth council member speaking out to young gay people who might be thinking of ending their lives. I know that my blogger template often cuts off videos, so if you can't see it on my page, watch it on Smitty's or here at Youtube. Moving speech.



As Smitty said, we need more of these kinds of speeches, and less of the kind of stuff that Tony Perkins is saying about how this is the fault of the gay kids themselves. Well, not quite, but pretty damn close. After all, since he likes to quote that gay people are more prone to mental illness, and mental illness contributes to suicide, what these gay kids need to do is not be gay.

Of course, as Joel Burns noted in his speech in Fort Worth, it isn't just gay kids, but those more effeminate or butch kids who are thought to be, or accused of being gay. I will pass on Tony Perkins' version of "Christian compassion." It looks a lot like hatred.

This gay bashing needs to stop.

October 14, 2010

Thursday night

And I am wiped. Second day of PT today and things are going well. I am tired and sore, but doing well. Took Streak to the vet today and think that we are looking at another round of chemo in a few weeks. That is what it is. It has been such a nice time with him that even considering a treatment is tough. But we have to look at it.

This week has been tough. I found going back to work much harder than I thought. My arm is doing great, but I was far more tired than I thought.

And the news is tough to deal with. Everywhere I turn, I see polling that shows the right winning big, and that is hard to fathom. I could deal with losing, but the right is putting up idiots like Christine O'Donnell and Sharon Angel--people who have no background or understanding to actually lead us with policy. Thanks, Republican part. Your coddling of the far right has produced these idiots--people who are more dangerous than even Palin.

And this, just watching the local news, something I rarely do. Just saw coverage of a shooting in OKC where one party thought that another party cut them off and was threatening them. The party of the first part had a legal right to carry a concealed weapon, and decided to open fire. I understand the arguments for gun rights, but see very unintelligent people being told that they have the right to decide a serious threat and that they have the right to open fire after an 8 hour training course.

I have to say that does not make me feel safer on the roads. I have to say that nothing conservatives have done over the last few years makes me feel safer in anyway. After watching Republicans and listening to them, I feel like joining them and deciding that as long as something doesn't adversely effect me, I shouldn't care. So we torture people or execute the innocent? Say that our tax policies widen the gap between the rich and poor?

We are ok, personally (at least for now). Why should I care?