Sunday, June 29, 2008

You can't make this stuff up

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

Here's a great example of why we should be very skeptical when politicians try to legislate morality.

Two of the senators presently sponsoring the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment to the US Constitution are Sens. David Vitter and Larry Craig, both married and both recently humiliated in sex scandals.

Vitter was revealed as a client of a high profile Washington prostitution firm.

Larry 'wide stance' Craig was arrested for and plead guilty to soliciting oral sex from someone who was a male undercover police officer.

We certainly can't have two committed and loving men (or women) destroying the institution of marriage. It's a good thing we have fine, upstanding husbands like Sens. Vitter and Craig to lecture the rest of us on how to preserve a good marriage.

What's next? The pro-wars of aggression, pro-state murder President Bush pushing a Human Life Amendment? Oh wait...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Torturers for McCain

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

I was listening to a story on the BBC World Service a few days ago about how John McCain's former captor in Vietnam endorsed him for president.

I'm not sure if the "McCain endorsed by commie torturer" story made waves on the far right media but one comment caught my eye.

The jailer rubbished claims by McCain and other US servicemen that torture was carried out at the "Hanoi Hilton" prison.

I'm sure Viet Cong merely considered the procedures nothing more than "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Any sport that involves running trumps any sport that doesn't

I’m sorry but golf has to be the most boring sport to watch on television, with the possible exception of auto racing (minus the crashes, which I suppose people enjoy).

It’s true that I dislike golf as a sport. “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” said Mark Twain. But it’s more that it translates poorly to television. Some sports are like that. I like baseball but can’t sit for 4 hours to watch all 9 innings.

Plus, I hate the snobbery of golfers and golf fans who put down sports where there’s actual athletic activity involved.

I was in the cafeteria a few days and the US Open golf playoff was on. I asked the other guy in the room if he was watching it. He said he just wanted to see one more hole and then I could turn the channel so I said ok.

By the time my 15-minute break was up, they still were on the same hole.

And this was only a two-person playoff!

I think a hole in golf lasts somewhere between the length of an inning of Major League Baseball and "two minutes" of professional throwball.

And I can say definitively that if you spend time watching golf on TV, you forfeit your right to call soccer boring.

Friday, June 13, 2008

That pro-Hezbollah tree near my house

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

The far right has completely lost its mind.

Not all conservatives, mind you. Some of them recognize the damage that their namesakes are doing to the country.

But the most extreme right wingers are so completely irrational and out of control that they must be exposed as such.

Some of you are surely saying, "Brian, it’s taken you this long to figure that out?"

Of course, I realized this years ago. But what I'm just coming to understand is exactly how quickly this problem is accelerating as they face the real risk of losing power to that greatest of their enemies: someone that may put an emphasis on (gasp) diplomacy. A rabid wolf backed into a corner is even more dangerous than an ordinary wolf.

The delusional far right imagines a terrorist threat under every strangely located rock. I think there's a pro-Hezbollah tree near my house because its leaves are yellow and green!

Take two recent incidents.

First was the Rachael Ray scarf flap. The ubiquitous Food Network star, who grew up locally, ran an ad for Dunkin Donuts. In it, Ray happened to be wearing a fashionable (?) scarf.

I saw the ad and thought nothing of it. I didn't even give the scarf a second look except to think it looked a little gaudy.

Michelle Malkin, arguably the most hallucinatory of the far right mad dogs, saw the ad and conjured up a scarf that symbolized Arab terrorism.


Of the course, the main difference between Malkin and responsible citizens is that we don't make a comfortable living whipping up xenophobia.

But this is only the second most serious national security problem we face.

If anyone says boo about Laura Bush, the extreme right goes apoplectic with rage. Spouses of candidates are untouchab... so long as the candidates have an (R) after their name. The right attacked nominee spouses Hillary Clinton in 1992 (and to some extent in 1996) and Teresa Heinz-Kerry in 2004. Now, they're aiming their smear guns and keyboards at Michelle Obama.

What is this malefactor's crime? How has she tarred humanity? How does she threaten America?

She and her husband… bumped fists at a campaign rally.

Yes, the fist bump has now replaced equal rights for gays and even Rachael Ray's scarf collection as the greatest threat to America.

Sane people viewed the fist bump and thought it was just a loving couple celebrating a political victory, in much the same way team sport athletes do after a win or a good run of play.

I often fist bump my soccer players when they come off the field. Send me to Gitmo right away!

The unhinged right viewed this benign act and saw "Hizbollah hand jabbing" (Human Events blog) and "terrorist fist jab" (Fox 'News' Channel).

And this was less than two months questions were raised about the crisis of Obama's refusal to use American flag-embossed salad forks.

Americans better hope that we never face a real terrorist threat. This 'boy who cried wolf' hysteria has so drained the far right’s credibility that even if there is a true terrorist threat at some point in the future, no one’s going to believe it.

Whatever world the far right occupies, I truly wish I were there. I wish I lived in a place where the Obamas' fist bump was one of the most pressing issues facing that world. It must be a nice tranquil place with few real problems.

But I live in a world called reality. I and most normal Americans live in a place where a weak economy, high gas prices and skyrocketing food prices make the 'scandal' of Rachael Ray’s fashion tastes absolutely trivial.

And since the far right obviously doesn't even live in our world, they can't possibly have any claim to rule our country.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Supreme Court: rule of law not dead yet

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

A lot of the self-described defenders of freedom were disgusted by today's Supreme Court decision which declared that the rule of law was still valid.

However, they can calm down.

President Bush has stated that he disagrees with the ruling.

And Bush has made it clear with his past actions that he views the constitutional powers of other branches of government as mere suggestions, to be ignored at his whim.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Why Hillary's defeat matters

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

It’s no secret that I am a Green and will vote for Ralph Nader in November. And although I was initially enthused by some of his foreign policy comments, I've soured a bit on Barack Obama.

In recent months, he’s chosen to appease the gods of political correctness. These gods demand no deviation from the religion of militarism (Obama's commenting about bombing Pakistan!). These gods equate disagreeing with the Israeli government 0.01 percent of the time to promoting a second Holocaust.

This has undermined Obama's claim to being bold, his promise to bring a new kind of politics to Washington .

That said, Obama's effective clinching of the Democratic nomination is important because it is the triumph of a certain kind of politics over old-style sleaze-and-divide that G. Walker Bush and Hillary Clinton represent.

Now bear in mind, I don't think a President Obama would fundamentally transform American foreign policy. I don't think he will live up to then-Gov. G.W. Bush's observation (almost immediately betrayed by Pres. G. W. Bush) that, "If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us; if we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us."

I think Obama would change the tone of foreign policy, but not the substance. If elected, he'd return us to a (Bill) Clintonian 'kinder, gentler empire.' He'd make sure that all wars of aggression were multilateral.

Yet. a kinder, gentler empire is still an empire.

A multilateral war of aggression is still a war of aggression.

But Obama's nomination matters less because he won than because Hillary Clinton lost. Here's why.

I've noticed a recent trend in Africa and the Middle East for countries to become de facto monarchical republics. Dictators hand off to their sons. You’ve seen it in places like Syria and Togo. You’ve seen sons made heirs apparent in many other faux republics like Gabon, Egypt and Cameroon.

Had Hillary been elected this year, America would’ve risked turning into to a similar banana republic. The US could’ve been ruled by either a Bush or Clinton for 28 consecutive years. Perhaps longer if Brother Bush from Florida had decided to run in 2012 or 2016. Hillary’s defeat was bad for dynastic politics and as such, it was good for democracy.

Hillary was a victim of double standards she and her supporters promoted.

She said she wanted to be judged by the same standards as male politicians, But when you criticized her objective flaws, such as her being the favorite candidate of corporate special interests, you were reflexively dismissed as misogynistic, as hating strong women.

She said the media was sexist because it made a big deal of the fact she cried (never mind that this was the same media that massively overplayed the Howard Dean Scream in 2004) but she had no problem making statements implying or even stating explicitly that women make better leaders than men.

Liberal-minded people, the people most open to voting for a non-white male candidate, objected to these double standards. They resented being called sexist because they asked fair questions. They resented the suggestion that not supporting Hillary was a slap in the face not to a woman, but to all women.

She made people most likely to support her into the people most likely to loathe her. The harshest comments I’ve heard about her in the last six months have been not from the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’ but from liberals and progressives who were offended by her and her most rabid supporters' affront to their sense of fairness.

There are 300 million Americans, about half of whom are female. Many of whom are as smart and talented as Hillary but without her air of cronyism, of presumptuousness, of arrogance and, most gallingly for a ‘feminist’ icon,’ of nepotism.

To most liberal-minded people, it seems fair to say, "I’d vote for a good female candidate but Hillary isn't that candidate."

But Hillary supporters treated a vote against her as a vote against all women, as a vote against womanhood, as a rejection of female equality.

It’s no coincidence that Obama’s speeches are rife with the word ‘we’ while Hillary’s overuse the word ‘I’.

The biggest single reason so many Hillary supporters are bitter is because they thought the nomination ‘belonged’ to her before the first voters were cast.

That makes it so they think Obama 'stole' the nomination that, in their delusional minds, rightly belonged to her before the first vote was even cast. Their rejection of her was, in their eyes, the height of ingratitude.

This mentality exemplifies why it's good that Hillary lost. Any president needs a healthy ego, but we've seen damage that can be done by a president with a gargantuan sense of entitlement and an absolute belief that people owe him something.

The reason Obama’s win is good isn't so much because Obama's a transformational candidate. He's not.

The reason it's important is because political office should be earned, not given. It should be a race, not a coronation. Obama is certainly flawed, but he's far less bad than Hillary. Kudos to Democratic voters for thinking for themselves and making their own decisions rather than listening to the media-decreed conventional wisdom of last December and January which had already anointed Hillary the next president as a foregone conclusion.

The US has spent eight years being misruled by a corporate-owned president with a massive sense of entitlement, with no moral compass, who thinks the rules and the laws don't apply to him, who divides people for his personal benefit and who felt like he had a God-given right to absolute power because of who he happened to be related to.

The Democrats rejected Hillary because so many of them saw the every single one of those qualities in her. And in doing so, they did the nation a favor. In doing so, they gave America the small hope that one day in the future that the Democratic Party might actually break the shackles of corporate control and nominate a truly progressive candidate.

Update: You need more than vague talk about 'change' to impress me. I can't remember the last non-incumbent candidate who DIDN'T talk about change. I can't remember the last non-incumbent nominee who DIDN'T promise to shake up Washington. And fearmongering like the 'a vote for Nader is a vote for (insert Republican Devil Incarnate du jour)' lie only repels me. But when you start doing stuff like this, now you've got my attention.

Monday, June 02, 2008

‘Kill them all’

If you support a progressive agenda, then support a progressive candidate.

I’d never considered George W. Bush to be a bloodthirsty savage, just callous and indifferent to human life... at least the non-fetal kind.

This piece on the memoirs of former Iraq commander Gen. Ricardo Sanchez certainly made me rethink my position.