Monday, December 15, 2008
This nice little video really helped me understand the oft misrepresented men and women of America who decided to cast a vote for a Republican in November.
In the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said, "speak what you think today in words as hard as canonballs, and tomorrow think what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today," I have an apology to make.
Republicans, I was wrong about you. See, I thought you were voting against your own self-interest out of sheer ignorance and blind faith in a paradoxical ideology. It's turns out you just enjoy the suffering. You sly devils, you knew the votes you cast were bad for the country. You fully realized the policies of your beloved party drove the country into the ground. You long ago grasped the reasons religion is separated from government. Yet, you can't help yourself. Once that seductive red-white-and-blue elephant starts to whisper in your ears, you melt. So much more could be ruined if we just had four more years. Just think of the possibilities. Mmmm...corporate despotism.
Anyway, I'm sorry. All is not lost though. Now is a perfect time to reexamine the way you look at the world and this country. Take a look around at some new ideas. Social justice, environmental responsibility, compassion--these are not ideas to fear. Who knows, maybe you'll find you enjoy watching your neighbors and your country prosper. It's a thought. Next time you're feeling down because President Obama is doing something that makes sense and benefits you in some way, instead of cursing and getting angry, recall the wise and timeless words of Mr. RW Emerson, and go with what tomorrow thinks. We won't hold your past affiliations against you.
Why did you vote Republican? Go ahead, let it all out. We're here to listen.
*Check out the fine folks that made the video.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
What the hell did we think was going to happen? In another edition of Yet Another Thing Bush Fucked Up, adolescents are not properly educated about sex. Well, that's what happens when you base public policy on religious dogma rather than scientific studies. For eight years schools have had to forfeit any sex-ed funding if they didn't implement abstinence only programs.
They call it abstinence only education but let's be real, it's not education. It's the opposite of education. We're telling kids not to have sex because it's bad. That's it. You're going to hell, so don't even think about it. Ever. Don't talk about it. Don't read about it. Don't acknowledge its existence. That's the only way to save your soul and prevent a life of degradation and promiscuity.
Needless to say, there are problems with this. First of all, the more taboo you make something, the more enticing it is to a teenager. They're wired to rebel. You just tell them what not to do, and they'll do it. You learn this quickly as a teacher. This may not be true of every student, but it's true of the majority. Even the best of students search for ways to rebel.
Second, human beings are wired to desire sex. The #1 thing on the mind of every teenage boy is that smart girl with braces who sits in the front row in Biology class. They're bombarded by images of sex everyday. Just turn on MTV for a few hours and you'll quickly see what it means to be "cool." One's worth as a person is defined by the amount of girls he can hook up with and the amount of money he spends on them. Every day, teenage boys are pushed to prove their masculinity and live in fear of homophobic taunts and public emasculation.
With all of this going on, kids desperately need someone to educate them about the complexities of sex. They need help understanding the emotional, psychological, and physical risks that go along with it. While parents should play a role in this education, we cannot simply assume it's going on at home. This is a public health issue. The government should play a role in eliminating unwanted teenage pregnancies and preventing abortions. Isn't that what the Christian right wants? Doesn't everybody win with a comprehensive sex education program? If anything, we should create an new sex-ed position in all high schools staffed by a specially trained counselor.
Never fear though, in just over a month, at long last, we will have a president that will use reason and scientific evidence to make decisions. It won't take much to bring about dramatic change on this issue. With just a little common sense, schools will be able to fund much needed sex education programs; comprehensive education will be a strong part of AIDS assistance programs in Africa without attaching abstinence only strings; and we will no longer be wasting $204 million spent in the US on a method proven to be ineffective.
Friday, December 12, 2008
At least now we know what to expect from the GOP assholes still lucky enough to be clutching to their Senate seats: eight years of whatever it takes to fuck the country over. We know most of them will blindly cling to their ideology no matter what direction common sense may point. We know power is more important to them than the well-being of the country. And they know that a successful Obama administration might signal the death of their kind. They have no message, no leadership, no new ideas...all they have left is desperation. It ain't gonna to be pretty, my friends.
In a preview of future douchebag behavior, Senate Republicans blocked the auto industry bailout last night. Why? Apparently, middle class blue-collar workers are making too much money. Let Ms. Maddow break it down for you.
Yes. You heard her right. They are so ideologically opposed to everyday American workers who organize and fight for their rights, they would rather see the industry collapse than pass up an opportunity to cripple the evil unions. Never mind that the income gap is wider than ever. Never mind the massive layoffs occurring all across the country. Never mind the fat pockets of CEOs all across the country. Never mind the fact that the collapse of the auto industry IS NOT Joe the assembly line worker's fault. Never mind the fact that these very Senate Republicans are more responsible for the collapse of the economy than ANYBODY ELSE. None of that matters. It's the union's fault because Rush said so. After all, these Grand Old Pieces of shit love nothing more than blaming people who work two jobs to support their family.
I'm not going to lie, I was skeptical of the auto bailout for a while. There is nothing that makes me angrier than the arrogance American car companies displayed in the late 90s and early 00s. The endless bombardment of testosterone-pumped commercials for giant SUVs and trucks made me nauseous. When I see a Hummer, I want to throw something through it's window. The demise of the EV1 is one of the greatest tragedies in the history of industry. The guys who have been running the show for the past 10 years are idiots, and they need to go.
But the more I hear from people on the ground in Detroit, the more I understand why action is so important. People need jobs right now. The economy cannot grow if the current job loss trend continues. Manufacturing has almost completely dried up in the US. Now is not the time to watch more jobs head overseas. Republicans have been gambling taxpayer dollars on Wall Street for the past eight years, why not gamble on the middle class for once.
Ultimately, this is a gamble. It might not work. We have to accept this fact, grab our collective nut sack, and have faith in the people. At least this time we are betting on something we believe in. As we have found out many times in the past, when we invest in hardworking Americans, they come through. It's the only way we'll get out of this recession alive.
*I stumbled upon the Maddow clip at Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog!, so you should check it out.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"None of the victims of this shooting was armed. None of them was an insurgent," U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said...After over a year of outrage and protest from the Iraqi victims of this slaughter, five Blackwater
...the slain included young children, women, people fleeing in cars and a man whose arms were raised in surrender as he was shot in the chest.
Twenty others were wounded in crowded Nisoor Square, including one injured by a grenade launched into a nearby girls' school. Another 18 Iraqis were assaulted but not wounded.
While this may distract and pacify the masses, if we are serious about real justice in Iraq, this cannot be the end of the investigation. What these men did was horrible, but they did not act alone. Huffington Post's Lee Stranahan made an excellent point a few days ago at BobCesca.com:
The 35-count indictment charges each of the former guards with 14 counts of manslaughter, 20 counts of attempted manslaughter and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.
If convicted, the defendants would face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each manslaughter count, seven years in prison for each count of attempted manslaughter and a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence for the firearms charge.
We're again haunted by the ghosts of Abu Ghraib - kids gets hauled into court and blamed for being part of a situation that wasn't really entirely of their making. Old men and war profiteers say tsk-tsk and cash their paychecks. It's only partial justice, which is almost worse than no justice.Fucking right. I'm tired of this shit.
While the men who fired upon and threw grenades into that crowd of innocent people should be investigated, just like the men and women who committed the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were investigated, there is more to the story than the actions of those at the bottom of the command structure. People are capable of horrible things when brainwashed to believe that the "enemy" is less than human. Dehumanization is a huge part of creating any killing/war machine. If you are taught that your "enemy" is shit, you don't hesitate to follow orders that require you to kill or torture. The United States has openly embraced this type of training for years, and there is no reason to believe that US military-trained Blackwater guards were trained any differently.
Veterans from Iraq and Vietnam can help to add some perspective to the wider picture. After watching listening to Iraq veterans testify about some of the things they witnessed in combat, this Vietnam veteran recalls the methods of dehumanization and their effects on the soldiers he served with and the civilians they encountered:
A critical part of this training involves dehumanization. The idea here is to make trainees think of the enemy, not as opposing soldiers but as less than human. Animals if you will. There is far less of a possibility that an American soldier will balk at the order to kill when he believes that what he is killing is not a person at all, but a lower form of life deserving only disgust and hate. The problem with this training is that it does not stipulate a difference between enemy soldiers and local civilians. All are lumped into one category, given derogatory names and on the battlefield are ultimately treated the same.It gets worse:
Those of us who were trained to go to Vietnam learned that the Vietnamese, whether they were civilians or combatants, were Dinks, Gooks, Slopes or Slopeheads and Slants. They were just little bastards that lived like animals in the jungle and it was ok to treat them accordingly. There was no place for respect for any member of the population and thus, the civilians became victims, not only of the VC, but of the American forces as well. The result was the same as in Iraq today. Greater numbers of civilians were killed than the actual enemy. And no matter what the military public relations folks say, this is condoned and encouraged behavior.He goes on to give some examples of the blatant disregard for life that he observed in Vietnam. You should read it.
I'm sure you're familiar with stories like his from Vietnam, but this is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan right now? In November, several Iraq and Afghanistan veterans traveled to Washington to testify before Congress about the injustices they witnessed while deployed. Democracy Now! aired several of the testimonies on their November 28th program. One of the most revealing testimonies came from Vincent Emanuele who served in the Marine Corps from September '02 to January '06. He was deployed to Iraq in August 2004.
Go to the DN! link above and listen to the entire show if you want to get a full picture of some of the widespread abuse going on over there. For testimony from more Iraq veterans at March's Winter Soldier gathering in Maryland, click here and here.
Another mission our platoon was tasked to take on was that of transporting prisoners from our detention facility on base back to the desert. The reason I say the desert and not their town is because that is exactly where we would drop them off, in the middle of nowhere. Now, most of these men had obviously been deemed innocent, or else they would have been moved to a more permanent detention facility and not released back into the local population. Our unit engaged in punching, kicking, butt stroking or generally harassing and abusing these very prisoners until the point at which our unit would be take them in the middle of the desert, miles from their respective homes, and at times throw them out of the back of our Humvees, all the while continually punching, kicking and at times even throwing softball-sized rocks at their backs as they ran away. This, once again, was not an isolated incident.
Possibly the most disturbing of what took place in Iraq was the mishandling of the dead. On several occasions, our convoy came across bodies that had been decapitated and were lying on the road, sometimes for weeks. When encountering these bodies, standard procedure was to run over the corpses, sometimes even stopping and taking pictures, which was also a standard practice when encountering the dead in Iraq—this, along with neglecting to account for many of those who were killed or wounded. On one specific occasion, after I had personally shot a man attempting to flee while planting a roadside bomb, we drug his body out of the ditch he was laying in, and we subsequently left that body—slide please—we subsequently left that body to rot in the field, where we saw this man up to a week later.These are just a few of the disturbing and unacceptable stories I could share with you from my time in Iraq. Others would include continually dehumanizing Iraqis by referring to them as “hajis” or “sand niggers.” Even the racist and sexist nature that exists within the military itself, which was obviously—overtly obvious on a daily basis.
Whether it be Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, or the streets of Iraq, when trained killing machines go too far, it's a direct result of the policies set by commanding officers. The trainers, along with the executives/cabinet members/vice presidents that approve the training and create the conditions that result in the crimes, should be investigated and prosecuted. These prosecutions should follow the trail all the way up the power structure, and punish those proven guilty. The true criminals of this irresponsible war
UPDATE: Ironically, just minutes ago, AP ran a story on a newly released bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report that DIRECTLY links the BUSH ADMINISTRATION widespread use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. More to come soon.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
So the governor of our friendly neighbors to the northeast is a scumbag. So what? We're pretty used to it by now. It sucks that he's a Democrat, but, as we learned from the brief political career of Jerry Springer, corruption don't discriminate. I always knew he was kind of a dick from the snippets of news that would trickle down to Missoura occasionally, but good lord, what a fucking idiot. I'm sure there are many reasons for his reckless arrogance, blatant disregard for the rule of law, and obvious emotional immaturity, but I'm going with a full blown mental illness.
Not only does this guy possess the moral and ethical compass of a whipworm, but he's in complete and total denial. Let's take a look at how Governor Rod Blagojevich stacks up against some of the warning signs of Sociopathy.
+Superficial charm - Have you seen that haircut? Check.
+Manipulative - He tried to use political leverage to get a sweet job for his wife? Check.
+Grandiose sense of self - He is refusing to step down even after the President-Elect and ALL 50 Senators call for his resignation? Check.
+Pathological lying - The day before his arrest after a wire tap revealed he tried to sell a Senate seat to the highest bidder, he told the country, "if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it. ... [W]hatever I say is always lawful."
+Lack of remorse, shame, or guilt - His lawyer the day of his arrest: "He didn't do anything wrong." Uhhhh, did you hear what they recorded with that wiretap? Check.
+Seeing others as targets and opportunities, not people - When speaking about President-Elect Obama, he said, "They're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them." Check.
+Irresponsibility - Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery? Check.
+Criminal Versatility - They didn't even need the Senate seat talk to bust him. Check.
I could go on, but my soul hurts. Can we stop talking about this now? No? Fine.
As entertaining as it is, you're probably too busy to sift through the 76-page document detailing the charges against Blagojevich. Never fear! Rachel Maddow was kind enough to sum it up for us in six hilarious minutes. Her recap is complete with voice actors playing Rod and his wife Patricia. Very nice Rachel. Very nice.
Oh, and one final note of beautiful poetic justice that not enough people are talking about...he had to go before the judge in sweat pants. Can someone please find a picture of this? Please?
Friday, December 5, 2008
I'm here to brighten your day. Nothing else. I bring joy to those around me. I just can't help it. Don't you wish you were hanging out with me right now? Here is a little something to start you off right this morning. You can thank me later.
Blow-by-Blow Montage Recap
:01 – The montage starts with a close-up of the sweet Cobra Kai logo. Perfect.
:04 – Sweep kick. I think that’s an automatic win according to karate rules. Daniel-San looks very nervous. Miyagi looks pissed.
:16 – Whoa. Cobra Kai meathead ‘roids out. Steroids probably weren’t too prevalent in U-17 karate back in the eighties, but if they were, I guarantee Sensei Kreese would make them mandatory for his team. Fucking psycho. John Kreese was a Republican. I’m certain of it.
:29 – Intimidating stare from DS’s nemesis Johnny. He does some crazy double kick combo—another automatic karate winner. Damn, that dude used to scare the crap out of me. Now, that skinny headband just makes him look like a douche.
:40 – DS’s first fight of the tourney against the token black dude of the movie. Cheap win for the good guys. Elizabeth Shue likes it a lot. Mr. Miyagi seems unimpressed.
:53 – Sweep kick to the chest. Take that motherfucker.
1:00 – Things speed up a bit for the 2nd round. Wins for DS and Johnny.
1:10 – Fat dude gets knocked the fuck out.
1:20 – Anyone notice that every ref in the tournament has a mustache? Was that a conscious casting decision?
1:35 – Kreese gives a sweet fist pump after another CK victory.
1:39 – DS’s first face off with a CK foot soldier. I always hated this weasely fucker. Just when you think all is lost, the kid sneaks in a sly little jab. This move impresses the judges enough that he awards him instant victory. Weasel-fuck doesn’t agree.
2:02 – Close-up of another sweet ref ‘stache.
2:10 – First look at the world’s most awesome tournament brackets as LaRusso is hoisted into the semifinals. The tournament brackets of my youth were made with poster board and a sharpie. Bullshit.
2:13 –Intense pep talk from Miyagi. It doesn’t help. Why does Ralph Macchio always look like he’s about to keel over, curl up into the fetal position, and weep openly?
2:24 – The Cobra Kai cokehead steps in against DS with a creepy smile. Kick to the face temporarily stuns the kid. Cold stare from Miyagi. Counter kick by DS for the win! Larusso to the finals!
End montage. Joe Esposita. Thank you for your inspiring song.
Don’t worry…I won’t leave you hanging. After Mr. Miyagi does some crazy magic on Daniel-San's leg, he's out and ready to fight. Here is the epic and unforgettable championship match between Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso. "Sweep the leg!"
Oh, sweet nostalgia.
If you're impatient, the crane kick is at 4:05. They just don't make triumphant music like that anymore.
"Hey, Mr. Miyagi! We did it!"
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I thought the excerpt they used was hilarious, but I guess I'm biased. She wishes they would have found a better one. To help them out next time, here are my favorite five South City Confidential posts (in no particular order).
1. You Do Not Suck At All You can't go wrong when you mix karaoke, Hot Damn, and a middle-aged Pakistani named Ali Baba. This may be my favorite SCC post of all time. If you haven't read it, you're in for a treat. Here's a preview:
By the grace of God, my first visit was someone’s bachelorette party. Not only did I hear the incendiary “Gangster’s Paradise” performance, but saw what elevates Ali Baba from “funny guy with accent” to “totally audacious character who regularly exhibits borderline illegal behavior”. In case you were wondering, Ali Baba has no problem with public displays of affection. With relative strangers. On this particularly cherry-poppin’ visit, I witnessed Ali Baba effectively dry-hump the bride-to-be on the dance floor. I also, luckily, saw the bride’s skirt hiked up around her waist and her lack of both underwear and public hair. To this day, I believe it was the closest I’ve ever been to another woman’s vagina.2. What a Long Strange Trip... to Lawrence, Kansas. Wakarusa '08. It was quite a time, and it inspired this description of a fellow concert goer we encountered:
My favorite person I saw the whole weekend was a middle-aged dude in acid-washed jeans, a tye-dyed Chiefs t-shirt, and a fat mustache that made me ask, “Developmentally delayed, or just on meth?” No joke, this guy danced like a four-year-old girl in a field of puppies and unicorns. It was so great.3. I Had A Dream Ed Best showing off his large tomatoes to Obama? Priceless. Plus, it includes a rant about John McCain after the RNC. Very nice.
DID YOU KNOW HE WAS A POW? OMG pee myself while waving an American flag with an eagle perched on my shoulder, talons ready to tear through an “Islamofascist” as I draw a cross in the dirt outside my house that I built MAH-SELF with my own god-willing sweat and tears.4. Leaves of Three: Suck on These If there is a god, why did he put poison ivy on this earth? Tell me. Why? Perfect description the moment I dread most:
I should have known when I was itchy all over that it was not chigger bites, or eczema, or fleas. I actually considered fleas when the obvious was staring me in the face. It came to me last night when I scratched my back and felt the sweet, sweet relief of getting right to the core of an itch: wait a minute…that feels like when you scratch…oh MOTHERFUCKER! Because at that point, I had been scratching my body for two days. Unrestrained, glorious, relief-inducing scratching.5. Validation. She's gonna hate me for this one, I had to include a serious one. And this one makes me feel good about being a teacher. It's sure to warm the heart. One passage can't really do it justice, so you'll have to read it for yourself.
Hope you enjoyed.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The second piece of cheery news for Franken is that officials in Ramsey County have "discovered" a stack of 171 ballots that were never counted in the first place; those ballots returned a net of 37 votes for Franken. This is a very big deal; a net gain of 37 votes makes a huge amount of difference in a race that could easily be decided by a small, double-digit margin. If the 37-vote gain in added to the 50-vote margin that the Franken campaign estimated that it trailed by at the start of the day, that would put them just 13 votes behind with 8-9 percent of the state's votes still left to be counted.Senator. Al. Franken. How's that sound when you say it out loud? Now picture Rush Limbaugh saying it. Oh, sweet justice. This could be the ultimate vindication for eight years of political frustration and anger. So, suck it Rush! I can't wait to listen to you bitch about this one.
Franken wrote two awesomely-titled books: Rush Limbaugh's a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations and Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Since the Right MUST pay attention to him now, I think I'll pick both of these puppies up at Left Bank Books this weekend.
Here's Franken doing what he does best--calling out liars:
Questions of the day: How long will this thing be held up in court if Franken pulls ahead after the recount? Coleman is a spiteful bastard. He'll file fifteen more lawsuits before he concedes. I hope those 187 ballots that magically appeared are legit. Could Republicans throw sand in the gears and hold this thing up for months?
Monday, December 1, 2008
Does anyone know if this is standard White House transition procedure?
Friday, November 28, 2008
The real Arianna Huffinton:
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
If all goes well, we'll be at the 8:30 or 9:45 show tonight at the Tivoli. I'll let you know what I thought of it in a few days.
If you want to get a grasp on the scope of the Harvey Milk tragedy, watch the NBC newscast from the night of the assassination. The most heartbreaking part is at 2:20 of the video when then president of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, Dianne Feinstein, makes the shocking announcement that Mayor George Mascone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been assassinated. The reaction of the reporters in the room speaks for itself.
On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to be thinking about Harvey Milk and people like him who refuse to be silenced by hatred and bigotry. He was assassinated 30 years ago, just before Thanksgiving on November 27th, 1978. Here is a man with courage. He was the country's first openly gay elected official. Here we are THIRTY YEARS LATER and we're still passing blatantly anti-gay and discriminatory legislation. Imagine what it was like back then? I mean, a man who assassinated two elected officials was let off with a voluntary manslaughter charge! Are you fucking serious? The Twinkie defense? More like the homophobia defense. It takes balls to lead a movement with such irrational and hateful opposition. And even though he knew people wanted him dead, he kept fighting. Here are his last words. He recorded them to be played in the event of his assassination.
Harvey Milk was a great man. He was a pioneer of a new civil rights movement. Though we have made great strides that Milk would be proud of, we still have a long and difficult journey ahead of us. It's time to stand up and fight. I hope this story inspires a new generation of LGBT leaders with the fearless determination that it's going to take to change this country.
I don't think I could say it any better than the man himself though:
"Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio there is a young gay person who all the sudden realizes that he or she is gay; knows that if their parents find out they will be tossed out of the house, their classmates will taunt the child, and the Anita Bryant's and John Briggs' are doing their part on TV. And that child has several options: staying in the closet, and suicide. And then one day that child might open the paper that says "Homosexual elected in San Francisco" and there are two new options: the option is to go to California, or stay in San Antonio and fight. Two days after I was elected I got a phone call and the voice was quite young. It was from Altoona, Pennsylvania. And the person said "Thanks". And you've got to elect gay people, so that thousand upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world; there is hope for a better tomorrow. Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us's: without hope the us's give up. I know that you can't live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope."-Harvey Milk, 1978, shortly before his assassination.
Hey, remember when Coulter reacted to war protests in Canada by saying they should be thankful we don't "roll over one night and crush them one night." Watch her squirm as she mistakenly claims that Canada sent troops to Vietnam. Awesome!
Anyway, Klein was on Democracy Now! yesterday talking to Amy Goodman. If I got to choose any two political minds to have dinner with, it would Amy Goodman and Naomi Klein. Hands down, two
of the smartest progressive voices in politics today. Klein does not like Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner...but mainly Summers. People forget that Clinton drank the free market/deregulation kool aid all through the 90s. Klein wants me to remind you that free market ideology has been guiding the economic policy of this country for well over 25 years. Yes, that's THROUGH the WJ Clinton administration. Like global warming to Republicans, this is a dirty and inconvenient truth a Democrat can never admit. Klein contends that right now, we are paying for "the intellectual dishonesty of the progressive liberals during the Bush years." Part of the reason these appointments have been widely seen as acceptable is that we "have not been honest about the legacy of the Clinton years."
Ouch. Nothing like Democracy Now! to kick you in the nuts with a little perspective. (If you ever want a sobering and honest take on any item in the news, go straight to DN!, but please, mentally prepare yourself). Klein goes on to conclude that Summers (former Treasury Secretary under Clinton) is not only a follower, but "a propagator of the very ideology that Obama ran his campaign against...He's been preaching the doctrine...he's a dyed-in-the-wool privatizer, free trader. And he along with Tim Geithner, his deputy, play[ed] key roles during the economic crises." This gives me heartburn.
It's important to understand that, in the past, when someone on the left like Obama had a "centrist economic policy," it meant that they accepted Milton Friedman's economic philosophy as "simple economics." You've probably had friends with an MBA chastise you about not understanding these simple principles. They can't comprehend anything outside of the free market realm. It's insanely frustrating. Ever since Friedman got hold of the Chicago School of economics and the hijacked the entire of the field of economics, we've been on a crash course towards this very moment. Well, the shit finally hit the fan. It turns out they were all wrong. When Alan Greenspan, the perennial god of the market admits that he had a "flaw in his ideology," you know it's over. The system collapsed and so should the theory.
This is why there is no need to panic. First, Barack Obama is our president now. He is in charge, and I don't see him just going along with an idea without getting several dissenting opinions. He is not an ideologue. He has repeatedly insisted that he wants the best solutions, no matter where they come from. One of the many reasons I voted for Obama was his his ability to view a problem in a comprehensive and reasonable way. I trust that he can analyze this crisis, sift through the many alternatives, and choose the plan that makes the most sense for the country. We can't ask for much more.
Second, in September, EVERYTHING changed. All assumptions now have to be reexamined. As DN's second guest Robert Kuttner reminds us, it is not politically viable to follow any of the ideas of Milton Friedman or the 90s version of Larry Summer. Obama ran his campaign on the promise of deregulation. If he wants any shot at being reelected, he'll follow through.
In the end, Obama chose to go with people who know and understand the steps that got us into this mess. Yes, they know and understand what got us into this mess because they helped create it, but you're not going to find a whole lot of qualified candidates out there who can claim otherwise. What matters most right now is that we have faith in the leadership skills and intellect of our newly elected government. It's never wrong to dissent, but in that dissension (especially if you voted for Obama), we have to avoid being bogged down by pessimism.
Keith Olbermann does a great job summarizing the Shock Doctrine theory as proposed by Naomi Klein. In the interview that follows, Klein gives several specific examples when this strategy has been used by free marketeers to plunder cities and countries. Watch it for your own good!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Qin Gang took the attacks on GNR to a personal level by contending, "As far as I know, many people don't like this kind of music. It's too noisy and clamorous."
The album has been banned in China.
No word yet on whether Axl Rose plans to travel to China to throw a flying forearm at Mr. Gang for his comments.
Watch more Megavideo videos on AOL Video
Guns N' Roses riot at Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis. Sorry about the quality of video. You can see Axl burst out of the crowd and run around like a mad man at :30. Then, the fire hoses come out. It's worth a look.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Yeah, I know. Missouri went to Old Man McCain. This is depressing for two reasons: 1. Missouri is no longer the ultimate bellwether state, and 2. Missouri went red, again, for the third election in a row. Shoot me. Thank god Obama won. Vancouver was seriously close to gaining a couple new citizens.
No need to get down though. St. Louis City went overwhelmingly blue (as expected), and we have a mayor who strongly supports the LGBT community in St. Louis and around the country. He's all about gay marriage, and that takes courage in these dark times.
KBO and I decided to support our brothers and sisters in Cali, Arkansas, and Arizona last Saturday at a Prop 8 protest at the Old Courthouse Downtown. While the results of these unconstitutional votes made me furious and depressed, I felt much better after walking up on the 1,400 St. Louisans who joined Mayor Slay, St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed, State Senator Joan Bray, Angry Black Bitch, and many other great speakers to speak out against state-sponsored discrimination.
It was unbearably cold outside, and the traffic made it hard to hear at times, but it was well worth it. The passionate intensity of the speakers reverberated throughout the crowd. Eyes filled with tears, signs and flags were held high, people booed and cheered and laughed, loved ones held each other tight, and people came together. Listening to the stories of normal LGBT people and the families they love really helps to put the issue into perspective. We're talking about law-abiding, tax-paying, real-life citizens who want nothing more than the simple rights afforded to their neighbors. Marriage, adoption, family health benefits--these are not ridiculous expectations. This is a civil rights movement. And we will not rest until all people are granted them.
So, I commend Mayor Slay along with every politician across the country who has the balls to stand up for what is right and just.
Enjoy the pictures. My camera died halfway through the rally, so these are mostly of the first half hour.
"A man will never have enough guts to raise a hand against me. I would just slap him back into place. If a woman really wants to, she can put a man in his place."
Whoa. I like her style. Instead of working this morning, I looked up the story on NPR.org and listened to the entire thing (don't worry, it's only seven minutes long).
I found out that the defiant words are those of vigilante bad ass and leader of India's gulabi (pink) gang, Sampat Pal Devi. As you can tell by the above quote, these ladies do not fuck around. Armed with pink Sarees, pink sticks, and a wealth of self-confidence, Sampat and her gang make it their business to bring the corrupt men of a very patriarchal society crying to their knees--literally. They're pissed about the conditions for women in their communities, and heads are going to roll because of it.
They serve the often oppressed women of India by, among other things, moderating land and business negotiations, shaming dirty politicians and corrupt officials by assaulting them with their pink cricket bats, speaking out against and even stopping arranged teenage marriages, and forcing police officers to follow up on crimes against women. Most have little to no education, but don't underestimate them--they're smart and fearless. And they roll deep. In one demonstration against a corrupt police outfit known to take bribes, several hundred members of the Pink Sari Gang surrounded the police station and beat and tied up the officers as they came out. Hell. Yes.
The Pink Sari Gang is a great example of the power of organization. Women in India, though they've made many strides socially and politically, are often exploited and seldom empowered. Instead of accepting the horrible conditions in the overcrowded towns and cities around India, Sampat Pal Devi and her peeps decided to do something about it.
The Pink Sari Gang should serve as a positive lesson for young girls all around the world. It's a lesson I hope to teach my yet-to-be-born daughter(s) one day:
You deserve respect, happiness, and the right to make your own choices; and if some old dude ever tries to tell you anything different, beat the shit out of him with a pink stick!
Photos courtesy of BBC News and World Prout Assembly.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
While I don't believe in many of Mr. Paul's ideas, his brand is much better for the nation as a whole than the seething madness we witnessed at the Republican National Convention this year. I'm tired of debating with crazies. You can't get anywhere in a conversation with these guys. A person consumed by an ideology can never step back and look at a decision objectively. It's never about what's best for the country or the world, because they believe that no matter how crazy something seems at the moment, the future will all work out because their God/Limbaugh/Friedman said it would.
As long as we have religious nuts like Palin, neocons like Bush, and war hawks like Rudy controlling half of our political discourse, this country is going to teeter on the brink of disaster. GET THEM OUT. Let's have a opposition party based on what's best for the COUNTRY AND THE WORLD, rather than what best fits a set of ideological principles. While I'll probably never vote for a Paul-like candidate, at least I could have a conversation with my Republican friends that was rooted in reason.
Okay, Paul wants to dissolve the federal government as we know it, he worships the small government gods, he doesn't really have much of an environmental plan, and on and on. Yes, I know these things.
So, maybe we should take this idea a step further. I propose a brand new, post-Rovian Republican party. Take those Ron Paul folks and give them a new type of candidate--one in Paul's mold, but a little less radical.
Ron Paul started with the idea that we need to end the War in Iraq, now. His appeal was rooted in a very liberal idea: peace. This new Republican candidate needs to seize on this and realize what Ron Paul did--the United States is a center-LEFT country.
I've been contending for years that a Republican with a true environmental policy would be embraced by many on the right. Social Justice doesn't necessarily have to be reserved for bleeding-heart liberals, either. Why can't a Republican believe in small government and care about poverty and equality? Why can't a Republican embrace family values and the constitutional truth that ALL people have the right to marry and pursue happiness, regardless of sexual orientation? Can't we lower taxes and promote ethical treatment of workers at the same time? Don't you think it's smarter to promote peace and hope, rather than bombs and fear? Maybe this new wave of Ron Paul Republicans would respond to a positive and honest campaign. You never know. This is a new age. Let's think outside of the box people. What do you have to lose?
The greatest lesson we can take from Ron Paul and Barack Obama is that there is a new nation of young voters out there craving a more responsible type of politics. While I would love to watch a slow, pathetic, bloody, and complete collapse of the Republican party, I fear that when the dust settles, we might be dealing with the 21st century version of Insoc. So let's get creative people.
I'm not a Republican, but I would like to see some major changes in our political system. This takes more than simply electing the right guy at the right time. The pendulum will inevitably swing back to the other side. It always does. I would just like that other side to be less crazy. That's all.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Just imagine for a second if McCain won. How would you be feeling about the future of this country right now?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It's November 18th, and the presidential vote in Missouri has yet to be called. Out of almost 3 million votes (2, 914, 866 to be exact), McCain leads by 4,393. That, my friends, is close.
This is my formal request to President-Elect Obama that he ask for a recount.
Here's why--I worked my ass off for Obama in St. Louis City all summer and fall. We knew we had a great chance before it was even considered a battleground state. I took the day off on election day and knocked on almost 400 doors. Thousands of volunteers sacrificed more than a small percentage of their free time to help close the gap in Missouri. A lot of field organizers I met worked 20 hour days for weeks without a day off. We DESERVE this recount.
I know it doesn't matter in the end, but I'd like people to think about this guy I met the last weekend of the campaign. He flew all the way from London the Friday before the election just to help get Obama elected. He spent hours upon hours knocking on doors and making phone calls with us until the polls closed on Tuesday.
The Obama people threw a huge watch party that night at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, and this guy bought a bottle of champagne to open when they called Missouri for Obama. I last saw him as we were leaving around 1 AM. The champagne had long since gone warm, but he vowed to stay true to his word and keep it corked until we heard the good news. I don't know if they let him take it on the plane back to London, but giving this guy's conviction, I'm sure he found a way.
I urge those who think a recount in Missouri is over the top or unnecessary to remember that guy from London and the rest of us here who dedicated everything we had to turn this red state blue.
So, here is the message I'm forwarding to Chicago:
Dear President-Elect Obama,
I know you have a lot on your table what with cabinet appointments, saving the country from financial collapse, tackling climate change, dealing with Joe Lieberman, ending the war, and everything else, but I guarantee you there are thousands of volunteers around Missouri willing to work a few more hours to get this thing done. We'll donate more money if that's what it takes. Hell, I'll count all three million votes personally. Just give us the thanks we deserve by asking for a recount. I'm sure it would take little more than a phone call.
Some dude who worked his ass off to help get you elected.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
To my Republican friends. Watch his speech, abandon your anger for a moment, and think about the possibilities. You are an American. You can be proud. It's okay. If you give President Obama a chance, you can still be a part of this defining moment in history.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
McCain spent the last two weeks in Pennsylvania and they called it twenty minutes after the polls closed. IT'S GONNA HAPPEN!!! FUCK YES!
I'm heading up to the Royale, then Chase Park Plaza for the Obama (knock on wood) VICTORY PARTY! Prediction: Missouri is called for Obama at 9:28.
I keep a journal. My journal writing, like my blogging, is sporadic at best. In both cases, I wish I could be more diligent. Reflection is an important part of growth. It helps you understand and learn from the mistakes you've made in the past. Everyone should keep a journal of some sort, and I kick myself every time I look at my journal and realize that it's been three months since I last wrote. The other day I took out one of my old journals and realized it had entries from 2000-2004 in it. I checked the entry for November 4th, 2000. It's funny reading through the journals and watching how my political awakening occurred.
I was 20 years old and more or less apolitical. As a teenager, Bill Clinton never really impressed me when I paid attention (it probably didn't help that my dad is a RAVING conservative). Gore just seemed an extension of the legacy. Bush seemed like an idiot AND an obvious extension of a legacy. I thought both men were power-hungry cowards.
So, I didn't vote. And I watched George W. Bush win. And I didn't care too much.
When I woke up on September 11th though, something changed in me. I began to realize the importance of our leaders. I began the realize the consequences of destructive ideology. With each speech that Bush gave, I became more unsettled. I couldn't believe the things coming out of his mouth. The threats and cries of blood-thirsty revenge. I watched as anger gripped the country. I didn't feel angry though. I just remember a feeling of dread and sadness. War was coming. People were going to die. The balance of the world would be shaken. Then, war. And another war. When they didn't find any WMDs in Iraq, I vowed to leave the world of the passive bystander and do something to stop these assholes ruining our country. Ever since, I've been a political junkie.
Bush's reelection was a dark time in my life, but in 2006, I began to feel a tinge of hope. Bush continued to do stupid things and systematically dismantle the constitution, but we had this group of potential presidential candidates. And I liked them. When Obama announced he was running, I was excited (I remembered his speech at the convention and had looked up his speech in '02), but I didn't think he had a chance. I thought he had a better chance putting another 8 years in the Senate before making his run. Then, Iowa. That speech made me feel something I had never felt before, pride in my country (yeah, I said it).
Republicans want to pretend that we have some sort of obsession with Obama. It's nothing of the sort. He is a good speaker, but it's much more than that. It's his vision of America. He sees an America of optimism and promise. He sees an America where fear is countered with reason, not stoked by anger. He sees an America that embraces all cultures and faiths, not one that scapegoats and marginalizes those who look or sound different. He sees an America where there is hope for the future, trust in the goodness of ones neighbors, and sacrifice for the greater good. He sees an America where we celebrate compassion, not selfishness. This is an America of peace and prosperity and one I can't wait to see realized.
Here are my 7 reasons you should vote for Barack Obama:
- His plan for the economy. Many conservatives would like for you to believe that this economic crisis was inevitable. That the stars were just aligned against Bush. This is typical. The republicans haven't taken credit for any of the disasterous crises created by their dangerous, irresponsible, and blind faith in a tired and broken ideology (see Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, the housing crisis, the banking system collapse). The truth is that we are seeing the failure of ALL tenants the neoconservative ideological platform. I'm sorry Mr. Reagan, but trickle down economics DOES NOT WORK. Greed does not trickle down. Executives pocket those tax cuts while lowering wages, stripping benefits, cutting jobs and shipping them overseas, and plundering the earth.
Barack Obama's plan eliminates Bush's tax cuts for corporations and restores them to the SAME LEVEL THEY WERE IN THE 1990s. He's going to give a TAX CUT to ALL people who make under $200,000 annually and most people who make under $250,000 (those who will not receive the cut will remain at their current tax level). McCain likes to argue that 23 million small businesses would have to pay more in taxes, but Factcheck.org debunked that claim long ago: "McCain has repeatedly claimed that Obama would raise tax rates for 23 million small-business owners. It's a false and preposterously inflated figure."
READ MORE ABOUT THE ECONOMY
2. Barack Obama's Plan to End War in Iraq and His Proven Foreign Policy Judgment. Barack Obama was absolutely right about the invasion of Iraq. From the beginning. If you have any doubts about Obama's even-handed and pragmatic grasp of complex foreign policy issues, READ HIS 2002 SPEECH AGAINST THE INVASION OF IRAQ! Don't vote McCain until you read this. He gave this speech October 2, 2002 in Chicago. Here is the best part, and the first indication that Barack Obama had the potential to be our next great leader:
Obama giving '02 Speech
READ MORE OF SPEECH MORE ABOUT IRAQ
"I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
- The Principles of his Foreign Policy Vision. Two words: direct diplomacy. It works. Unilateralism, isolationism, and threatening rhetoric has failed President Bush every step of the way. The more extreme your threats, the more credibility you lend to the extremists on the other side. President Bush was the best thing to happen to Al Qaida and Osama Bin Laden. His response to the war played right into their hands. Their stated goal is to bankrupt the United States by provoking unsustainable and endless wars. Today, we're spending $10 billion in Iraq EVERY WEEK and our economy is in serious decline. This is not a policy we want to continue. Yet, McCain is as much of a warhawk as Bush. Just listen to him talk about Russia, China, or Iran. His foreign policy platform is no different from that of George W. Bush. Take a look at it. Why do you think he won the endorsements of Dick Cheney and Al-Qaeda? Does this make anyone else nervous as hell? Anyone?
Obama will restore our credibility in the world by creating a more responsible foreign policy agenda. Along with direct diplomacy with friends and enemies alike, he will expand our diplomatic (not military) presence around the world, strengthen NATO, and seek out new partnerships in Asia. I know the far right has many people scared of direct diplomacy, but every president (including W lately) has sat down and had direct talks with the leaders of foreign threats. Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Eisenhower, Truman, Roosevelt. It's not a new concept. It's what responsible presidents have always done.
READ MORE ABOUT FOREIGN POLICY VISION
- He has the Ability to Motivate and Mobilize People at a Grassroots Level. Think about it. If Barack Obama can motivate and organize millions upon millions of people to sacrifice their time and money for his campaign, just think of what he can do for the country. I love his emphasis on encouraging young people to serve the country in other ways besides killing people and dying. Why don't we have more programs like Teach for America, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps that reward service to country by forgiving student loans or paying for post-graduate degrees? Why not offer young people, eager to give back, the opportunity to serve their community? I'm telling you, this could have a tremendous impact on eliminating the overwhelming and disheartening apathy of young people across the country, while doing amazing things for impoverished communities.
There's only one candidate talking about this type of service. That's Barack Obama.
- Refreshing Answers in Education. As an educator, No Child Left Behind is the absolute bane of my existence. It is has undermined the true goals of education by forcing teachers to analyze meaningless data and waste time teaching to unfair and biased tests. It has also created funding gaps for schools not seen since the segregation era. Barack Obama has promised to reform NCLB in two major ways. He's going to improve the assessments used to measure success, and reform the accountability system so that we are "supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them." He is also going to fully fund the program--something Bush never did. These improvements will not fix the system, but they're a step in the right direction.
The next thing I really like about his education platform is it's emphasis on early childhood education. I taught lower-level readers for five years. These were kids that read at levels as low as the 2nd grade--in 9th grade. There are two main reasons for kids who fall through the cracks in the system without learning to read properly, and both have addressed been addressed by the Obama campaign. First, access to early childhood education. Most of these students were from lower income areas without access to Pre-K programs. They start behind, and never catch up. Second, many of these kids were never read to as kids. Obama has made an emphasis on parenting a major part of his education platform regularly suggesting that they, "turn off the TV-set. Put the video game away. Buy a little desk. Or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give ‘em help." These are both common sense ideas that could bring about major changes in education (and make my life easier).
- The Environmental Revolution. The minute McCain and Palin started inciting crowds to chant "Drill, baby, Drill," he discredited manyof his environmental promises. While he's a DRAMATIC improvement on Bush, he's still in the pockets of the same industries trying to get in the way of the dramatic changes we need to reverse global warming trends. Obama's plan, titled "New Energy for America" is ambitious, responsible, and comprehensive.
If Obama is elected, I predict that this document will become one of the most important in the modern history of the United States. So read it now. If not for yourself, so you can tell your children you were a part of something important. We're talking about energy independence. We're talking about five million new jobs. We're talking about one million cars that get 150 mpg. We're talking about changing the gluttonous American paradigm. This is huge.
I know that sounds scary to those of you who cling to the status quo like it's the steering wheel of your Hummer as you cut off a poor teacher in a station wagon, but just once, think with your brain instead of your penis as you read this thing. Please. Then compare Obama's ideas to the simplistic solutions of McCain (drill, drill, drill or nukes, nukes, nukes). If nothing else, you have to admit that Obama and his people have put a little more thought into this than McCain and friends. If that isn't a reflection of who is better prepared to lead right now, I don't know what is. If that isn't a reflection of a candidate with substance, I don't know what is. Don't listen to the bullshit anymore people.
READ MORE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL REVOLUTION
- He Understands the Complexities of Race Relations. I know many readers of this blog don't care about this issue, but it is important. Barack Obama has a unique background that allows him to understand all sides of the extremely sensitive and volatile race relations in this country. If we can start now, to work towards his vision for "A More Perfect Union," we could finally move towards truly achieving the dream Martin Luther King Jr. had many years ago. He gave this speech on March 18th amid the media's obsession with Reverend Wright. It took courage to give this speech. It's the most honest assessment of race in this country by a politician I've ever heard. Here is my favorite part of the speech:
"That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation - the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election."
Barack Obama as "A More Perfect Union", ink on Bristol, John Sokol, 2008