September 2, 2010


Feeling the blues today. I am not completely sure why, but there is a lot going on. To be absolutely fair, much of that is actually happening to people other than me, but it hurts when people around you are in pain or struggling. So, today I am thinking of them and hoping they are doing well. We continue to struggle with Streak. While he is moving around much better than he was last week, he is still refusing to eat and pee on his own. Had a nice conversation with the Bootlegger last night and he was of great assistance. Maybe Streak will eat tonight. We will hope.


Anglican sent me this blog post from Ebert, which speaks to the same kind of stuff I wrote about in my post on the GOP and Islamaphobia. I like Ebert and have really respected him over the years, both as a reviewer and as a thinker and as someone who has faced unbelievable adversity and personal pain and done so with dignity.

But after I read the column and some of the comments, I felt depressed. I have been thinking about it all day. Some of the critics were just simply ridiculous--especially those who continue to repeat (as if they have cut and pasted them from a right wing source) that Obama acts like a Muslim and does not act like a Christian. I have no idea what any of that means, and fully suspect those who wrote it don't either. They just hate Obama and don't know how to say it. It comes easiest to simply say that he must not be a Christian, or to call him a Muslim, or a Socialist, or a Marxist or compare him to Hitler.

But some of the others made me think. Many pointed to the left wing anger at Bush and suggested that Ebert was far too selective about his outrage. They pointed to those who called Bush Hitler, or to the MoveOn ad for David Petraeus. Some noted that the left wing loved to mock Bush's intelligence, and still others pointed to the 9-11 Truthers as the analogous grouping to compare with the Republicans today who think that Obama is a Muslim who sides with our enemies.

I have always been iffy about the ad on Petraeus. I didn't see it, to be honest, as vicious as many did. It might have been poorly phrased, and that seems clear, but it was a heartfelt appeal to the General to consider the best interests of the country and our troops. Perhaps that was unseemly to assume that he wouldn't. I can see that. But to a certain extent, it does not compare to where we are because every major Democrat denounced the ad, including our current President.

And, true, there were people on the left who compared Bush to Hitler. One posted a video to MoveOn--and the organization (of which I am a member) yanked that video. There were people at rallies with posters of Bush with a Hitler mustache. I think those were clearly wrong. Any serious person should not have compared the two. But I would suggest that the real problem with the "fascism" charge is not that it was levied at Bush or Obama, but the reasons for that charge. Why did people fear that Bush was leaning that far to the right? Certainly not because they thought (at least any serious person) that Bush would do something approaching the holocaust. But there were things that Bush did that tended toward fascism. The town halls filled with loyal and sycophantic Bushies were creepy, especially when people were arrested for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts. His casual approach to wiretapping and warrants, while not fascism, was troublesome. The way he goaded the country into war was very worrisome--with the "with us or against us" theme--that was troubling. And let's not forget that he embraced the very tactics of fascism when he allowed Cheney to create an infrastructure of torture.

None of that excuses calling Bush Hitler. But it seems to me that his policies were troubling to people attuned to history and freedom. And, to be very fair, many of us who feared that have been disturbed by Obama's hesitation to pull back on all of those excesses. True, he banned torture, but we have some very troubling detainment policies, and there has been absolutely no move to rethink the wiretapping or excesses of the Patriot Act.

But back to my point, those are not the reasons that the right calls Obama a Hitler, or a Muslim, or a Socialist. They compared him to Hitler for wanting to extend healthcare to people who didn't have it. That is fucked up. What is more, I don't think that calling a person a moron or mocking their speech patterns is in any way analogous to believing that the sitting president is actually more interested in supporting radical Islam than defending the country and constitution he pledged to defend. If that isn't racism, then perhaps someone can tell me why not.

The one point of comparison that is apt, I think, is the Truthers. That basic argument is one that suggests that Bush would allow or actually cause 9-11 to happen, and so was actively acting to harm America. That is indefensible. But I am pleased to see that while there are far too many Democrats who believe that, none of them are being encouraged to believe that by their elected officials, and I don't see any of our talk personalities suggesting that. Certainly Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann don't encourage that idea, and I believe the actively mock that belief. The right, on the other hand, has gone out of their way to suggest that Obama might be a Muslim, and the most vocal of the right wing talk show hosts openly accuse him of treason and wanting to destroy America. Hell, the guy who lost the last election said that Obama was trying to force America into bankruptcy on purpose.

I will concede there are idiots and bigots on the left. But I look at the leadership and the major organizations and believe that they have been far more responsible than any on the right.

Anyway. Sorry for the rambling. It has been good for me to write, even if it doesn't read as well as I would like.

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