BroadSnark

Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, abolitionist, anarchist who likes the letter A
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My Uterus Hates Elections

September 28, 2012 By: Mel Category: Politics

Giant Uterus Heads for GOP ConventionI always know there is an election coming up when my email and blog reader are filled with stories meant to scare my uterus into a self defensive trip to the voting booth.

This Republican sheriff candidate would shoot women who tried to have abortions. This Republican Senate candidate thinks there shouldn’t be a rape exception because women can’t get pregnant from rape. (Never mind if either of them win.) These asshats introduced a bunch of anti-abortion legislation. (Never mind if it got passed). Don’t you understand how much republicans hate women? Better go give Obama some money.

I’ve been saving all the “Republicans hate women” posts for a month. I had so many they crashed my web browser when I tried to pull them all up. Emily’s List even has this fancy War on Women graphic. Apparently, war is only an election topic when it refers to cutting funding for abortions. It isn’t like we need to talk about Afghanistan or Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia or the worldwide war on drugs.

Abortion voters – Let me explain why you are, at best, wasting your time.  While you have been out fear voting for president and panicking about whether or not SCOTUS will overturn Roe v. Wade, states and cities have been regulating abortion out of existence. Instead of writing screeds about how misogynistic republicans are and putting all your energy into presidential elections, maybe you could try talking to the women that those republicans are appealing to.

Because candidates like Romney become “pro-life” when they run for president in order to appeal to the millions of people who don’t support abortion rights. And not all those people are men. Have you ever observed the yearly march for life in DC? Thousands come out for that. And the majority seem to be women.

But I guess it is easier to ignore those women and write them off as brainwashed.

I hate what those women believe. I think they are incredibly misguided. But dismissing them as tools of politicians or popes is as obnoxious as thinking all sex workers are passive victims who need to be rescued. Abortion rights are not in danger because of Mitt Romney. They are in danger because the 1.5 million women who live in Mississippi aren’t out in the streets trying to stop their last remaining abortion clinic from being regulated out of existence. And that is what people should be focused on.

Who becomes president isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. So all your scare emails are bullshit.

I don’t only get scare emails about abortion. Women’s health is the thing this year. 16.8 million dollars have been poured into political advertising on the subject. Today, Planned Parenthood wants me to #askmitt a bunch of questions about women’s health. Oddly, I don’t notice any questions about the health effects of incarceration, indefinite detention, or bombings. But I guess then we would have to ask Obama too and we can’t have that.

Meanwhile, Mitt is telling women that his party is going to give us economic opportunity. Because you too can step all over people and earn gazillions of dollars in the process. Then you don’t have to worry about unplanned pregnancy, cause you can just hire some poor woman to take care of those kids for you. Democrats are no better. Former Obama administration official Anne-Marie Slaughter explains how challenging it is to climb the ladder of success, sip champagne with important people, and still manage to raise kids. If only we had better daycare or slightly more flexible hierarchical jobs, then even more of us could make our dreams of champagne and nannys a reality.

The worst is when the male politician’s bullshit doesn’t quite stick and they trot out the wife. We are supposed to believe that George W. Bush can’t be that bad. I mean look how lovely Laura is. She is a woman who really knows her place. And what about that Michelle Obama speech at the democratic convention. She didn’t mention anything about her husband’s bank bailouts, but look how glamorous she is. Doesn’t it make you want to buy a new dress and head for the polls?

Sometimes the politicians will even throw a woman in the race to get us excited. Because once a woman is in power, everything will change. You know. Just like after Thatcher got elected. The only thing more torturious than hearing non-stop coverage of Sarah Palin last election is reading shit about how Hillary is god.

If you would rather burn the ladder than climb it. If you actually care about the lives of all people and not just fetuses or middle class women in the United States. If you are disgusted by politicians bombing women under the guise of protecting them. If you understand that good things don’t happen from the top down. Then there is nothing for you in politics, especially not in presidential elections.

Going to the polls because “at least he supports abortion rights” is like staying with some shitbag guy because “at least he doesn’t beat me.”  Fine. That’s better. But could we raise our expectations just a smidge?

I need some election strength midol.

The Power of Principle

November 04, 2010 By: Mel Category: Politics

So I got into a little twitter spat a few weeks ago.  One of the people I follow made the following statement:

Some bloggers feel it’s better to be principled than in power.

Naturally, I objected. The conversation turned into one of those us v. them tropes.  Us, in the case of this twitterer, being  progressives.  Whatever that means.

We have to stop the conservatives.  We have to choose between “2 years of investigations about birth certificates, or trying to inch forward with our agenda.”  (I’m not sure what “our” agenda is.  Mine doesn’t include assassinations, American citizens or not, or massive bailouts to hedge funds.)

More importantly, it’s a false choice.  You don’t have to compromise your principles to have power.  You only have to compromise them to have the kind of corrupt, coercive power that has gotten us into this craphole.  Didn’t Martin Luther King have both power and principle?  How about Gandhi?  Emma Goldman?  James Baldwin?

The people whose power lasts are those whose power comes from their principles, not from selling their principles out.  It’s not naive to think that people shouldn’t sell their principles to power.  It’s naive to think that someone in power who has sold their principles can do us any good.

And now the progressives/democrats/liberals/whatever are out bemoaning their loss of congressional seats.  And they wonder why.  Hello out there!  People know when you are willing to sell out your principles and they generally don’t like it.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the actually tweet that started this all was referring to the five bloggers that Peter Daou thinks are “bringing down the Obama presidency.”  I thought I must have somehow made a mistake, that I was misunderstanding.  I mean surely it was not being suggested that the media should become a cheerleader for the democrats.  Guess it was my turn to be naive.  The twitter convo is below.   A third party jumped in.  He actually quoted Macchiavelli – - fucking Macchiavelli.  I kid you not.

And these people wonder why they keep losing.

_______________________

Me: I don’t understand.  You think Greenwald et al shouldn’t write about those things?

Shoq: I think they can be constructive critics without threatening to tear down any progress we’ve made against a rabid right.  In fact, it’s helping to drive us farther off a cliff.

Me: They aren’t working for the democratic party.  That’s not their job.

Shoq: I don’t work for them either.

Then this guy jumps in:

JeffersonObama: Greenwald, Olbermann should help the Dems by posting voting info and supporting all Americans opposed to Teabag sycophants

Me:  Journalists/Bloggers jobs are to tell it like they see it, to give people info to make informed choices…Despite what Fox may have people believe, it is not their job to be partisan hacks

JeffersonObama: Fox News is the reason their voters are organized to vote on election day..they have maps, sites & work with 501s, 527s & GOP

Me: So just our side and their side, leave your principles or honesty at the door.  Win, win, win..no thought to what you win?

JeffersonObama: Our bloggers tell our voters to hate Obama, our values and then fold up and run. Bloggers are Cowards. Some of us are fighting

Me: I’ve never heard Greenwald say people should hate Obama.  Being in lockstep with dems when they are wrong is not brave.

JeffersonObama: Simply, as Machiavelli writes, “The answer … it is far safer to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” Stand up & fight

Me: LOL.  The only thing people seem afraid of is being principled even when it means giving up their “we’re the good guys” bs

JeffersonObama: Bloggers like you hate our party more than GOP. That’s fine, but at least don’t discourage our fighters to take on GOP-Teabags

Me: You miss the point.  I don’t hate.  And I definitely don’t make life out to be a football game btwn 2 teams of 9 yr olds

JeffersonObama: I’m not talking Football. I’m noyt talking low brow slogans..I’m talking about winning in politics..not meant for some obviously

__________________

Headdesk.

P.S.  In case you missed it, Glenn Greenwald took Daou and the rest down.

White America’s Existential Crisis

December 14, 2009 By: Mel Category: Inequality, Politics

People have, apparently, lost their minds.  There seems to be a panic that we have lost the fabric of our society and I’m having trouble getting a handle on what has happened that is so drastic that people would think its tyranny or fascism or hitleresque or stalinesque (Jon Stewart)

That quote is from Stewart’s interview with Lou Dobbs (video below).  Dobbs never really answered Jon’s question, so I’m going to try.

There is a certain segment of the American population that really believes in the American foundational myths.  They identify with them.  They believe that America was built by a handful of white, Christian, men with exceptional morals.  Their America is the country that showed the world democracy, saved the Jews in World War II, and tore down the Berlin wall.

These people have always fought changes to their mythology.  They have always resented those of us who pushed to complicate those myths with the realities of slavery, Native American genocide, imperial war in the Philippines, invasions of Latin American countries, and secret arms deals.

And we have been so busy fighting them to have our stories and histories included in the American story that we sometimes forget why the myths were invented in the first place.

No myth illustrates the sleight of hand behind our national mythology quite like the myth of the cowboy.  In the mythology, the cowboy is a white man.  He is a crusty frontiersman taming the west and paving the way for civilization.   He is the good guy fighting the dangerous Indian.  He is free and independent.  He is in charge of his own destiny.

Read Richard Slatta’s Cowboys of the Americas and you will get a very different picture.  In reality, the first American cowboys were indigenous people trained by the Spanish missionaries.  In reality, more than 30% of the cowboys on Texas trail drives were African American, Mexican, or Mexican-American.

And cowboys were not so free.

Cowboys were itinerant workers who, while paid fairly well when they had work, spent much of the year begging for odd jobs.  Many did not even own the horse they rode.  Frequently, they worked for large cattle companies owned by stockholders from the Northeast and Europe, not for small family operations (a la Bonanza).  The few times cowboys tried to organize, they were brutally oppressed by ranchers.

So what does all this have to do with Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, teabaggers and white panic?

Marginalization and myths have always been about economic exploitation.  White supremacy is not simply personal bigotry.  It is the systematic exclusion, dehumanization, and erasure of the majority in order to preserve economic dominance for the wealthy minority.  And while white men may be in most positions of wealth and power to this day, only a very few of them really benefit from our current economic system.  White supremacy helped distract poor and working class whites from targeting their economic exploiters.  White supremacy helped mask the lie of equal opportunity.

When you know the real history of the cowboy, it makes the selling of Reagan and Bush as cowboys seem like an inside joke.   The mythological cowboy is the heroic figure that many Americans wish they were.  The fact that the cowboy was actually an exploited worker is virtually unknown.

When Americans vote for a president, they want to see that heroic version of themselves looking back at them.  They want to see that free cowboy of the mythology.  No matter how poor or exploited white people were, they could always take subconscious comfort in the fact that, when they looked at the highest power in the land, they saw an idealized version of themselves.

And then came Barack Obama.

Pop.

It’s a powerful thing to be able to identify with the people who are your leaders, to feel like they are one of you.  It’s a feeling that many people in the United States felt for the first time when Barack Obama was elected.  It’s equally powerful when your elected leaders are clearly not like you, when the fact that they do not represent you is glaringly obvious.

I had my whole life to get used to the idea that the government was never made to really represent my interests.  Many of these angry people are the very white, Christian, men that this country was supposedly built by and for.  And this is the first time the myth of America has been unmasked for them.

Undoubtedly, there are some bigots out there who are just angry that they have a black president.  Clearly, even for those who don’t feel motivated by personal bigotry, there is a healthy dose of racism underlying the fact that it took a black president for them to realize that their government is as dysfunctional as it is.  But I doubt the people we are talking about have an understanding of the difference between bigotry and racism.

And I don’t believe it is just blackness that makes Barack Obama different and symbolic.  It is also his intellectual cosmopolitanism.  He is a symbol of the privilege that is replacing whiteness – the educated professional/managerial class.  And there is a significant amount of animosity directed towards those people who justify their privilege by virtue of their intellect.

And so these people who have lost their foundational myths are out in the streets.  They are using all the synonyms for “bad” that our pathetic school system and media have taught them – communist, fascist, totalitarian, socialist, nazi.  All the words are interchangeable.  They all mean not American.  They all mean not them.

Carnival of the Liberals No. 97

September 26, 2009 By: Mel Category: Misc

Welcome to Carnival of the Liberals.  Lots of good posts this month.  My highlights are preceded by asterisks and followed by short quotes.

It has been one hell of a month or so in the U.S.

The health care crisis, perfectly summed up by  Dave Away From Home’s stark graphic titled Cristina’s Health Insurance, continued to spark contentious debate and even an outburst by Congressman Joe Wilson during Obama’s health care speech.

Torture made headlines again after Eric Holder announced that he would investigate interrogators who went beyond allowed methods.  Talking heads argued about whether or not torture provided accurate information, but as Stump Lane points out in What is Torture For, torture is not intended to get accurate information.

** At Apple of Doubt, Friar Zero goes into excruciating detail about what torture is and Why Torture Matters.

Torture doesn’t provide reliable information, it doesn’t deter future acts of terrorism, it doesn’t separate the guilty from the innocent, it treats prisoners like irredeemable animals rather than men, it’s born out of a primeval need for retribution, it’s subjective and capricious, and it is antithetical to civilized justice.

Treating prisoners like irredeemable animals isn’t just limited to war on terror suspects.  This month saw increasing attention to the Texas execution of (likely innocent) Cameron Willingham, for an accidental fire – a story Executed Today has been on for quite some time.  And Texas was also ground zero for some of the harshest criticisms of Obama’s speech to students, (Rough Fractals).

**The objections to Obama’s school speech appeared nonsensical.  The only explanation seemed to be that they were rooted in The Anti Obama Bigotry that Staring at Empty Pages describes.

It’s not acceptable to say that they don’t want a black president talking to their children, so they make up shit about political “indoctrination” and “subliminal” liberal messages, or compare him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il (as Mark Steyn did last week), and won’t allow their children to listen to the president.

Those racism tinged objections continued on 9/12 with anti-government, anti-cap and trade, anti-health care, anti-everything protests as covered on Stupid Right Wingers in Observations From the Tea Bag Protest in DC – 9/12/09.  And now it looks as though anti-government sentiment may be the motive for the murder of a federal census worker, a death that God’s Own Party argues was the result of Fear, Paranoia and Ignorance propagated by right-wing leaders like Michelle Bachmann.

**Meanwhile, as Doctor Biobrain points out, the Counter-Productive Charges of Racism get us no closer to solving our problems.

And rather than discussing the merits of Obama’s proposal, the Republicans gleefully attack us for “playing the race card” and insist that we’re unfairly smearing all “real” Americans; while the media has fun describing the mud fight that ensues.

Ah yes, the media.  When they aren’t giving the Michelle Bachmanns of the world a stage, they are whining like toddlers.  See Mad Kane’s post, Chris Wallace Feels Dissed.  (Don’t feel too bad about the state of our media U.S., River’s Edge was compelled to write In Defense of Local Journalism upon hearing about the troubles of an actually useful major publisher of local newspapers in the UK.)

Is it really a shock that the media aren’t covering anything substantial?  The people who own the media are quite happy to keep us peons squabbling and vilifying one another.  They don’t want any commie George Bailey types inspiring people.  The fact that, as Liberal Agnostic Redneck points out, teabaggers are duped into defending Pottersville works out quite nicely for some.

With all of these crises, an impotent media, and a paralyzed populace, it is easy to get discouraged.  Unless you too enjoy getting your weekly exercise through uncivilized, senseless screaming like the kind Freechezeburgerz describes in Have an Argument and Call Me in the Morning, you might be in a fit of despair by now.

**I mean, where do we go from here?  I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to discover Some Possible Health Care Solutions of Rick Foreman’s in a health care reform bill amendment – perhaps his suggestion that

If you don’t have health care we can pass legislation that will just exclude you from the species. If you’re not considered human then there’s no need to worry about human rights.

The scariest part is that we are dealing with, what should be, easy issues like health care.  We better learn how to have real debates soon or we are going to be in serious trouble when the moral issues get more complicated.  Can you imagine the explosion that will occur when science finally figures out Sexual Reproduction for Same Sex Couples, an event The Chromosome Chronicles describes as not being as far fetched as you might think.  You thought surogacy and in vitro was controversial.  That aint nothin.

It would help if we were able to agree on verifiable facts, or even that there are such things.  But verifiable facts are the purview of science and science is currently in disrepute with a significant portion of the population.  Not even congress is interested in scientific information.

**It is precisely that problem that is addressed in the book Unscientific America.  Unfortunately, according to the Primate Diaries, the book focuses on Rebranding Science, rather than real solutions.

In focusing on science communication alone, rather than unequal access to scientific tools, Mooney and Kirshenbaum have chosen to focus on style rather than substance. They present a host of wrongs but think that mere cosmetic changes will reverse two decades of decline.

And while scientists and other logical thinkers try to figure out how to make science cool again, too many of our fellow citizens live in fact free environments. The gay marriage panic is a perfect example.  All the right’s freaking out has, of course, turned out to be as ridiculous as it sounded.

** Will the facts matter?  Will it matter that, as (((Billy the Atheist))) shows, The Right is Wrong Again: Gay Marriage Does Not Hurt Marriage?

Looks like allowing human rights for all humans did not hurt the family, or the institution of marriage, or destroy America, or any of the other absurdities being spouted by the radical right wing.  Instead, Massachusetts now has a lower divorce rate than it did when the legalized gay marriage.  Oopsie.

Maybe Rick is right and this is all Evidence of Conservatives Mental Imbalance.  Maybe we are all, as the Evolving Mind shows, Normally Biased toward information that supports our already held beliefs.  Maybe liberals and conservatives are just wired differently.  Honest Inquiry asks Are We Born Liberal? and discovers that, unlike conservatives who want predictable familiarity, liberals want change and inclusiveness.

**Mind you, that doesn’t mean that liberal-leaning groups are always so great at being inclusive.  Greta Christina shows, in her post Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and RacePart I and Part II, that progressive movements suffer from the same homogeneity and denial that plagues other groups.

People can have racist or sexist attitudes without being conscious of them. You don’t need to be a torch- wielding member of the KKK or Operation Rescue to say and think dumb things about race or gender. (As someone who has said and thought plenty of dumb things… believe me, I speak from experience.)

So is it hopeless?  Should we all just throw in the towel, buy a shit ton of really good drugs, and go party naked on a warm Caribbean beach until global warming or the nuclear arms race takes us all?  Although that does sound like a good vacation plan, I’m not giving up on democracy just yet.  Neither, luckily for us, is Greta Christina.

**So let me leave you with Greta’s post Decisions are Made by Those Who Show Up: Why Calling Congress Isn’t a Waste of Time, Part I and Part II. We should listen to Greta.  We should get (or stay) involved.  Because as frustrating as our political discourse might be right now, she is right.

When very few people get involved in politics — when very few people even bother to vote, and even fewer bother to call or email their elected representatives — then the few people who do bother are the ones who get listened to. The hard-line crazies get to set the terms of the debate. Them, and the people with money.

And that does it for this month’s Carnival of the Liberals.  If this post left you wanting more of Greta Christina (and really, who doesn’t want more Greta), she will be hosting next month’s edition – scheduled to come out on October 31st.

The Real Czar – George W. Bush

September 18, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics

The right wing, with Glenn Beck leading the charge, has been drumming up controversy over Obama’s “czars.”  They claim the “czars” have powerful positions with no oversight.  This is despite the fact that, as Politico reports,  many of them were confirmed by congress or fill posts specifically authorized by congress.

The democrats are now jumping on board too.  Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, and Diane Feinstein want to make sure these “czars” do not upset the checks and balances in our system.  (Somebody want to tell me where they were when Dubya and Darth Cheney were running the Whitehouse/world?)

I think a little history lesson might be in order here.  Czars were overprivelged, hereditary royalty.  The last czar of Russia, Nicholas, was adamantly autocratic, loved pogroms, and was prone to letting the people die of starvation while he lounged in his palace surrounded by Faberge eggs.  His excesses and corrupted mind decimated Russia’s economic system and military.

So, let’s see, George W. Bush:

  • overprivileged – check
  • hereditary position – check
  • autocratic – check (he was “the decider” you know)
  • lets people die while he lounges/vacations – check (Katrina)
  • pogrom loving – I think Fallujah qualifies
  • economic devastation – check
  • military decimation – check

I believe this means that Rove is Rasputin.  He was the mystic who advised Nicolas and is often blamed for Russia’s downfall.  His alleged penis is now on display in St. Petersburg.  I don’t wish violence on anyone, but Rove might want to start wearing a cup.

Left, Right, and Wrong

September 10, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics

You ever get the feeling you’ve been had?

I’ve been watching our health care “debate” and marveling at the lunacy of it all.  I got into an argument last week with a woman who insists that, despite everything he says and writes, Barack Obama is some sort of far left fanatic.  There are birthers and deathers and tenthers and now someone who thinks the government is trying to set up concentration camps.

Much like Rachel Maddow in this clip, I was taking some comfort in the fact that the side I most closely identified with seemed a lot less crazy.  But are democrats really debating policy as Maddow contends?  True, democratic congresspeople are not accusing their republican counterparts of having been born on Mars.  But most of the coverage I have seen has pitted democrats who say “we need to do something” against republicans who say “no.”  That isn’t a policy debate.

While the right has been busy playing on fears of black panthers, revolution, and reparations; the left has been playing on fears of racist militias and assassins.  The media, of course, just eats it up.  They don’t want to talk policy.  They want controversy.  They want to find the extreme and put that on camera.  So Van Jones is turned into a cop killing black panther and any conservative who doesn’t trust the democrats is turned into David Duke with rabies.

Meanwhile, as Matt Taibbi points out in his must read article:

they gave away single-payer before a single gavel had fallen, apparently as a bargaining chip to the very insurers mostly responsible for creating the crisis in the first place. Then they watered down the public option so as to make it almost meaningless, while simultaneously beefing up the individual mandate, which would force millions of people now uninsured to buy a product that is no longer certain to be either cheaper or more likely to prevent them from going bankrupt. The bill won’t make drugs cheaper, and it might make paperwork for doctors even more unwieldy and complex than it is now. In fact, the various reform measures suck so badly that PhRMA, the notorious mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical industry which last year spent more than $20 million lobbying against health care reform, is now gratefully spending more than seven times that much on a marketing campaign to help the president get what he wants.

In other words, many democrats have been quietly selling us out to big money yet again.  One can’t help but think that the birthers and deathers and tenthers aren’t such a bad thing for democrats.  The dems get to rally their base against the crazies without their base actually paying much attention to what is going to be in the bill they are rallying around.  On television we see the extremists, but how many Americans just don’t trust democrats to do the right thing and don’t support reform for that reason?  That’s not such a crazy position.

Our democracy cannot function if we don’t stop seeing each other as caricatures through the lenses of politicians and media personalities.  They keep raking in the money and favors.  We keep getting screwed by the same execs and stockholders.

Let Texas Secede

September 02, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics

If you haven’t heard, some Texas secessionists had a rally the other day.  Rachel Maddow had this lovely video.

Truth be told, I felt a bit like seceeding after those lunatics voted for George W. Bush the second time around.  And I’m not the only one.  I know this because Sam Schechner posted an article on Slate called Could the Blue States Secede?.

O.k., maybe we were kidding (sort of), but I’ll bet I’m not the only one who was checking immigration info for Canada and Brazil.  And when Puerto Rico or Hawaii or the Lakota Sioux push for independence, I’m sympathetic.  So, for the sake of consistency, I support the crazy Texans.  I think we should join their campaign for a referendum on Texas secession.

No really, hear me out.

McCain won Texas, but Obama received 44% of the vote.  That’s three and a half million Texans who voted for Obama.  According to Gallop, Texas is officially competitive for democrats.   Perhaps I am overestimating Texans, but it seems unlikely that a referendum would pass.

The most likely outcome is that a significant majority would vote against it.  The kooks would have to shut up about it, or at least redirect their anger towards their fellow Texans.  Politicians would not be able to use the issue to fire up their base, because they would specifically be advocating for something the majority of their constituents clearly do not want.

Granted, a close vote would be a problem.  It would give the secessionists a new lease on life, but the chance of that is so slim.  And if they do leave the union there are all sorts of benefits for the rest of us.  We get rid of tons of right wing, racist loonies who are helping to screw up our government. We would never have another president from Texas. Most of the sane Texans would undoubtedly immigrate to the U.S.  We would have to reroute Highway 40 and so would no longer have to drive through stinky Amarillo on our way across country.

It could be really great.


Torture Investigations and the Right’s Imaginary Race War

September 01, 2009 By: Mel Category: Inequality, Politics

It’s no secret that race is the central issue for many of the people who oppose Obama (but pretend to oppose his policies).  Glenn Beck has taken a lot of heat for saying that he thought Barack Obama was a racist, but Beck is not the only one.  And now that conservatives are feeling nervous about a torture investigation, even the most polished organizations are getting blatant.

Yesterday’s Morning Bell from the Heritage Foundation was titled Politics Before Justice at Obama’s DOJ.  Agreeing wholeheartedly with their lord and master, Dick Cheney, they claim that Eric Holder’s investigation is only an attempt to attack the previous administration.  Then they go on to cite other examples of where politics has trumped justice with Eric Holder.

Example number one – Black panthers who intimidated voters in 2008 had their cases dismissed.  Example number two – Bill Richardson will not be charged with any crime related to the pay-to-play scheme that was under investigation and which cost him his post in the Obama administration.  Example number three – Holder was said to have pushed for pardons for members of the FALN and Los Macheteros, Puerto Rican nationalist groups.

Are we noticing a pattern here?  Eric Holder dismisses charges against brown people, but goes after the good ole boys at the CIA.  Now the Heritage Foundation is not quite that blunt.  For the blunt version, you need to head over to Free Republic, where commenters are more than willing to spell it out.

True. Most obama advisors hate whites,
but Holder advocates violence and threats against whites,
and has and will continue to use the US Government
to protect those who assault whites
– even at voting booths.

This is the narrative that is developing over the torture investigations.  It is only going to get worse.  There are a lot of people out there who know they broke the law and know they have very slim protection.  They are powerful and they aren’t going down without a nasty fight.

The narrative is already spreading.  A quick search showed coverage in the Examiner, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Philadelphia Enquirer.  We better be ready to ridicule this thing out of existence.

Number 1 – The black panther case that the right is in such an uproar about involved two men standing outside a polling place in Phili.  One was an official poll watcher with every right to be there.  Judging by the video below, the only one there scared by the black panther’s presence was the fox news correspondent sent to the polling place to sensationalize.  Although I’m sure Faux News viewers were peeing in their pants at the site of an unarmed black panther.

Number 2 – Bill Richardson was investigated and the DOJ decided not to pursue the matter.  They haven’t said why.  Republicans and Fox News are insinuating that they are letting him off for political reasons, but they don’t know that.  Moreover, as TPM reports, the DOJ isn’t exactly exonerating him.  They just don’t seem to think they have a case.

Number 3 – FALN and Los Macheteros did plan bombings and I don’t condone violence.  But the people pardoned by Bill Clinton (with reported pressure from Eric Holder) had not been convicted of bombings or of any crime where people were hurt.  Moreover, clemency for those individuals was being pushed for by prominent human rights defenders, including Jimmy Carter.  Whether or not you think the pardons were appropriate (and I personally thing presidential pardons are a bad idea), the right is leaving out most of the story when they just say Holder released terrorists.

The kicker to the Heritage Foundation’s email was this doozy of a quote.

Now, as the head of DOJ, Holder’s political decisions are undermining core rule of law concerns including the integrity of elections, ethical governance, and national security. Holder reports directly to his boss, President Barack Obama. Someone needs to be held accountable.

Can you believe those guys can actually write that?  It’s like they live in a parallel universe. The people who testified before congress that the Supreme Court was right to stop the 2000 recount are worried about the “integrity of elections.”  The people who insisted that human rights protections didn’t apply to people not in our territory are worried about ethical governance?

They are right about one thing.  Somebody needs to be held accountable.

Obama vs. Obama on Gay Marriage

August 13, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics, Religion

President Obama does not support gay marriage.  And the only justification for this prejudice that he has ever given, to my knowledge, is his faith.

The Advocate reports that, during Obama’s meeting with the Pope, he claimed to be “’wrestling’ with his Christian faith and ‘concern for gays and lesbians.’”  In the chapter on faith of his book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes about an interview where he spoke about his “religious traditions in explaining” his position on gay marriage.

Ironically, earlier in the very same chapter, Obama himself spells out why religious tradition is an unacceptable justification for a political position.

What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God’s will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

He refers to his principle as “ground rules for collaboration.”  I think they are spot on.  I just wish President Obama would abide by them.

Obama, Friend or Foe?

June 22, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics

President Obama has been getting his share of criticism lately. And it isn’t just coming from Fox News or the crazies who are still searching for his Kenyan birth certificate. Much of the criticism has been coming from his supporters.

The gay community and its allies are furious about the recent brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Particularly infuriating was the inference that gay marriage equates with incest.

Those of us who think that torture should be fully investigated are upset about Obama’s unwillingness to pursue the matter. The u-turn he took regarding the release of torture photographs was frustrating to say the least.

Some of the reaction has been nasty. I’ve seen “f-you Obama” posts. I’ve read a litany of articles on how the gay community needs to dump Obama and the democrats. One writer even went so far as to wax nostalgic for the Bush administration – at least we knew they were going to screw us.

Then there are Obama’s unwavering defenders. When Bill Maher criticized Obama for not pushing hard enough for health care and cutting carbon emissions, he received a barrage of calls from Obama supporters.

In response, Bill Maher said “He’s your president, not your boyfriend.”

Which reminded me of the part in Sexaholix, where John Leguizamo talks about falling in love with his girlfriend. He fell in love with her because she “calls me on my bullshit, but is sweet about it.”

Real support means calling people on their bullshit, not blindly supporting every stupid thing they do.

More importantly, we don’t need to chose friend or foe. It doesn’t make you a foe if you criticize the president. It doesn’t make you a friend if you don’t. In fact, Obama needs us to be vocal and pushy. The people who don’t want to see his promises fulfilled certainly will be.

We have a tendency to be unhappy with one action and extrapolate that to mean that the person is bad or failing or selling out. Life is not that simple. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out:

In general, how much one criticizes Obama is largely a function of the areas on which one tends to focus. If I had spent the week writing about Iran, I would be largely defending — and praising — Obama’s very wise restraint, even in the face of bipartisan political pressure, when it comes to interfering in Iran’s internal political disputes. His private and public refusal to cheer on all of Israel’s policies is also commendable. Conversely, those who focus on gay issues have been understandably furious with the administration, and in the areas of civil liberties, secrecy, and his Justice Department generally, the administration has been nothing short of abysmal.

Finally, I’d like to respond to those people who are unhappy with some of Obama’s actions, but feel we haven’t given him a chance and so should keep quiet. Or maybe they think he needs to spend his political capital on health care and so can’t waste it on prosecuting torturers or following through on promises to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Or maybe they are just afraid he won’t get reelected if he pisses off too many homophobes and torture supporters.

I might accept that criticism was coming too soon if it was simply a matter of not proactively following through on certain promises he made. But this is much more than that. He is actually defending the very policies he claims to be against, from the Defense of Marriage Act to indefinite detention of “suspected” terrorists.

It is not just our right, but our responsibility to point out the hypocrisy and failures of the Obama administration. That doesn’t mean we are being too hard on him. It means we believe he can (and should) be who he said he was.