Wednesday, April 29, 2009

busy day

I haven't written anything here in a while mostly, I think, because I keep thinking I should have something to say about this ever-unfolding torture business. So much has already been said about it recently and it's probably pretty clear, to any of you who know me, where I stand on the issue. Also, I really don't believe I can offer anything new that hasn't been said better elsewhere. Today, however, things are happening at breakneck speed and I'm not sure I can pick just one thing to write about but I gotta write something.

It is President Obama's 100th day and finally, after much resistance from the Republican party, former Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sibelius, has been quickly sworn in as Health and Human Services Secretary in the midst of a pandemic of swine flu. The first US death from the swine flu, or the very recently re-named H1-N1 virus, has been reported this morning, a 23 month old toddler in Texas. Yesterday the usual suspects of the ultra-right media madness, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, started using the current health scare as an opportunity to spread racism and fear by bringing up that old war horse topic of illegal immigration. Immigration, illegal or otherwise, is not an issue in this current health crisis. Mexicans are no more responsible for the swine flu than gay people are responsible for AIDS or black people are responsible for crack. It's an argument that doesn't hold water but that doesn't stop the blubbering, bobble-heads from spewing their hateful rhetoric.

It's been nearly two weeks and I haven't written anything about the installation of New Yorks' new Archbishop, his Excellency, Timothy Dolan, a friendly fellow who vows to challenge any same sex marriage bills proposed in New York. Take that separation of church and state.

Yesterday there was the really big news that Arlen Specter, who after serving as Republican Senator from the great state of Pennsylvania for 29 years, has decided to switch his party affiliation. This is seemingly very good news for the Obama administration as Specter will make the 59th democratic seat in the senate and when Al Frankin is, one day, finally, seated as the junior Democratic senator from Minnesota, that will give the Dems a 60 seat filibuster proof majority. Good news right? Perhaps. Specter is, however, a true Republican moderate. He claims he's changing his party affiliation because the Republicans have moved too far right (good for him) and his moderate principles and his beliefs fall more under the heading of Democrat now that the Republican party is a dwindling assortment of floundering wing nuts and extremists.

After taking a closer look at Specter's voting record, however, one has to consider that this may not be such a great move for liberal lefties, like myself. Specter supported the Supreme Court Justice nomination of Clarence Thomas and has a long record of voting straight-up, old-school Republican. The real notable difference, especially as far as the regional, reactionary, gun-totting, party of "NO" is concerned, is his support of a woman's choice, admittedly a hot button, divisive issue for the Republicans who insist on shouting "Baby Killer" in the direction of anyone who supports a woman's choice.

So Specter's switch is good news in theory but it certainly doesn't insure filibuster proof voting on the Senate floor. Senator Specter is an honorable, responsible man of integrity who, I believe, does have the best interests of his constituents at heart. That being said, I believe that he will support Obama's health care initiatives just as he supported his stimulus package.

It is disappointing and disconcerting that the Republicans, who had an opportunity to nurture and support the likes of Senator Specter and encourage more like him to join their ranks, chose instead to deride him for his values, his integrity and his independent thinking. The GOP could be expanding their base by welcoming moderates instead of pushing them aside. I believe that the United States is a country that, ultimately, benefits from a two party system. What is going to happen when one of those two parties has so marginalized itself that it is no longer representative of those it, supposedly, serves?

Friday, April 17, 2009

tea party

It's one thing to have right-wing nut jobs loudly objecting to anything that makes sense. This is America and they are, after all, constitutionally entitled to shout any crazy thing they like from rooftops, provided it doesn't incite violence. So I'm pretty much used to that and I'm not so much worried about the Tea Party fanatics who think that Obama's stimulus budget and tax plan will be their undoing. Looking at these protesters, however, it is my guess that the majority of them will actually benefit from the new tax plan as they don't appear, to me, to be folks who make more than $250,000 a year.

So they are wrong - so what? So they're carrying around offensive signs that liken Obama to Hitler and are calling him a Muslim
(as if being a Muslim in itself is completely and utterly evil) and a baby killer and a traitor and some are even calling for his death, not impeachment, mind you, but death. This is all pretty disturbing stuff especially as this Tea-bagging business was not a grassroots movement at all, as Fox news claims it to be, but a planned protest initiated and orchestrated by Newt Gingrich, Dick Army and Fox news itself.

On some level it is amusing to watch the arrogant Grand Old Party unravel frenziedly, but my amusement is overshadowed by the underhanded, manipulative tactics that they are using and the hatred that they're inciting.
What I find particularly scary is not that there are misinformed, misguided, angry regular folks shouting hatred out in the streets but that Governor Perry of Texas is publicly mentioning secession! That Representative Spencer Bachus of Alabama says that he has a list of seventeen socialists who are members of congress! That Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota says that President Obama wants re-education camps for the youth of America!

These people are elected officials! Have they never heard of McCarthyism? Do they not see the similarities here? They are supposed to be working in the best interest of their constituents yet they are talking like uneducated, uninformed, lunatic fringe, bat-shit crazy wingnuts!

When did right-wing extremism become mainstream? Is what we're hearing from these people the desperate voice of the legacy of white supremacy losing it's grip on United States politics as it frantically tries to hold on and simultaneously circles the drain? Is this why there is such an urgent attempt to incite fear and anger however it can be mustered?

Shouts of un-Americanism from people who support secession is laughable but those shouting don't seem to see the irony. No one let them in on the joke that re-instating a confederacy is un-American. Perhaps they are just too focused on what the implications of a confederacy would have to a country that has elected a man of color to the nation's highest office.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

status update

Is making donuts... Has spring fever... Wrestles with the grumpy bunny... Eats too much breakfast sausage... Smells like strawberries...

Every morning I wake up, log on and wonder what I should say about myself, in the third person, for the rest of the world to read. I have found myself spending, wasting really, way too much time fretting over this particular puzzlement.

Is this, perhaps, a sign that I'm just not authentically part of this new social networking generation? Do those younger, hipper, twittering cool kids agonize over their status the way I do? Am I just trying too hard?

I could always clear my previous update and leave it blank but that seems so... blank.

Clearly, there is no immediate resolution to my status pickle so I'll just have to go back to scanning song lyrics and famous quotes till I find something just right.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

european tour

Presidents Obama and Sarkozy in Strasbourg, France April 3, 2009

For most of the twentieth century the United States assumed the role as leader of the civilized world; the best in industry, finance and policy. Other nations might look to us an example of what is good and right. A Beacon - America the best, the bravest, the boldest, the boss.

In more recent years, specifically following the attacks of September 11, when other nations saw an opportunity to embrace us as an ally with a common goal, it seems our nation moved from being an example of leading to dictating how others must fall in step with our agenda. That moment of opportunity had vanished and anti-American sentiment began to develop throughout the world, particularly in Europe, where the United States was once held in high regard.

A “war on terror” was waged, troops were deployed, soldiers were killed, countless Iraqi lives destroyed and fear and anger turned to suspicion as the United States, the example of what is good and right, broke its’ own constitution and began holding people without charging them and torturing prisoners in Guantanamo and other undisclosed locations around the world. Times had changed and who could blame others for pointing out the arrogance and hypocrisy of the great American nation?

That suspicion and anger began to fester here at home, in cities and towns, across the Great Plains and from sea to shining sea till this last November when America voted for change. (Obama’s decision to put players who helped to create financial deregulation in a position to fix the economic crisis isn’t, exactly, the change I can believe in but that’s another post)

The previous administration has left power, the Bush-Cheney justice department is being scooped out like a melon and discoveries of their dishonest, corrupt and nefarious deeds keep unfolding.

Now our nation is being represented to the world by a new face of America, one that other nations may not have seen before. After attending the G-20 summit in London, President and Mrs. Obama continued their European tour and yesterday President Obama held a town-hall style meeting in Strasbourg France.

In his opening remarks in Strasbourg he said,
“America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive… But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious…So I've come to Europe this week to renew our partnership, one in which America listens and learns from our friends and allies.”

It’s like I’m dreaming. I watched the presidents' opening remarks last night, staggered, my mouth agape. We now have a president who seeks to listen and to learn, a president who sees humility as a strength. Hail to the chief.