Where did the USA go?

October 31, 2008

It’s probably too close to my bedtime to take this question up, but I have to get it out of my system…

At the DNC, Al Gore’s speech asked why this campaign is so close.  I wonder that too.  How on Earth is it possible that anybody could vote for that ticket?  How is it possible that they might win?  Can anybody *really* imagine Sarah Palin as President?  Can anybody really imagine John McCain with the authority to make decisions about war and peace?  Does anybody who isn’t already filthy rich really want to hand more of our hard-earned money to people who already own everything?  Does anybody really believe that making the rich richer will help anybody but the rich?  Does anybody really believe that offering health insurance tax credits to middle and low-income citizens will help them get insurance?

If you can answer yes to any of those questions, we don’t live on the same planet, much less the same country. 

It’s unspeakably frightening and sad that anybody believes a word that comes out of the mouths of those liars. 

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are no princes, to be sure.  But both are committed to giving our country back to the people it should belong to: US.

Or in the punk-rock anthem terms of the Dead Kennedys’ “Stars and Stripes of Corruption”:

“This land I love it too/I think I love it more than you/I care enough to fight the Stars and Stripes of Corruption.” 

God (Gods/Goddesses) bless Jello Biafra.

Traitors (again, or more of the same)

October 11, 2008

Last summer, across several threads of this blog, I (and people like me) got accused time and again of being a traitor because I don’t support the US occupation of Iraq, because I’m an academic (and therefore must be advancing a revolutionary agenda every time I teach), because I don’t support Israel’s right to kill Palestinians (and for the record, neither do I support Palestinians’ rights to kill Israelis), etc.

At the time, I was infuriated by the accusation.  It galls me to no end for neoconservatives to accuse anybody who disagrees with them of trying to destroy our country.  I’m still mad about it, as you might imagine if you’ve been called one of the worst things in the world.

The last couple of weeks of presidential campaigning have put the nastiness of last summer into some perspective.  For one, I’ve realized that neocons toss around the word “traitor” willy-nilly.  They know perfectly well that I do not actively work to destroy or undercut the Constitution or our country.  They also know perfectly well that Barack Obama isn’t trying to destroy our country.  I guess the short version is that I’ve become innoculated against the charge because they apply it to everything and everybody they don’t like.

Second, although some of the folks who were fighting with me on the blog got pretty nasty, it’s nothing compared to the threats that are emerging from (and being stoked by) the McPalin campaign.  Even Republicans are getting nervous about the simmering violence and hate being aroused, especially by Sarah Palin, on the campaign trail.  The Secret Service, it seems, have decided that the freak who yelled “Kill him!” at a Palin rally last weekend probably wasn’t talking about Obama.  Huh?  Who else would he have been talking about?  And with the increasingly violent and frequent shouts of “Off with his head!” and “Traitor!” and “Treason!” and others, why would anybody believe that Obama wasn’t the target?

I, like many, are afraid of what might happen as a result of this increasingly vicious tone.  However, having been the object of a (very minor because I’m not very important, but still…) smear campaign, and having faced death threats because of an editorial I wrote for the Philly Inquirer some years ago, more than fear I feel deep, tragic sadness that the very-far right-wing has come to this.  It wasn’t enough to slaughter innocent Iraqis and Afghans in wars they weren’t even fighting.  It wasn’t enough to see a ruling cabal installed in the White House without even winning an election, and hand over the reins of our government to a small group of people who serve their own interests only.  It wasn’t enough to label anybody who disagreed with them unpatriotic or treasonous.

Now they have to attack a presidential election ticket that couldn’t be less traitorous, less “Socialist,” less dangerous to the core values of the US Constitution, and they have to incite levels of hate and fear to do it.  It’s humiliating, as a citizen not just of the country but of the world, to know that others all over the planet believe these snakes speak for our nation.

So, here’s a plea to all you McPalin supporters who are so angry about Barack Obama’s success that you advocate violence towards him and his supporters–

SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!  You’re hurting your candidates.  You’re hurting your party.  You’re hurting our nation. You’re much more dangerous that Obama/Biden could ever be.  I don’t believe you’re “traitors” any more than I believe I’m a traitor, but your hatred and violence are bad and wrong.



October 5, 2008

Four weeks out from the Presidential election, it has become indisputably clear to me that John McCain and Sarah Palin have absolutely nothing positive to offer our country as they run for the highest offices in the land.  In my head, it’s no longer a matter of disagreement.  I don’t just think their policy stances are disagreeable.  I wouldn’t even say I think they’re simply wrong.  I’ve become convinced, over the last few weeks, that both Republican candidates (and their entire campaign organizations) are irredeemably bad, and that the world will be a worse place (morally, ethically, materially) if they win.

There’s just no other way to explain their insistence, for example, that Barack Obama “consorts” with terrorists because he’s been on a couple of committees with Bill Ayers, who’s been a model citizen for decades.  Or their insistence that Wall Street needs more oversight at the same time that Democrats are “socialists” for calling for more oversight.  Or that the continued occupation of Iraq, which has produced nothing but bloodshed for most and profit for a few, is the “central front in the war on terrorism.”  Or that taxing health benefits will somehow improve health care for the millions of US citizens and families who can’t afford any health care at all.

Given their worldview, in which it’s apparently OK simply to lie about everything, and then when caught just lie some more, it’s no surprise that the McPalin campaign announced its last-month-from-election strategy the other day: attack and smear Barack Obama, even though the attacks have absolutely zero basis in reality, in hopes that people’s most base fears will make them stay home.  McPalin knows they have no chance of winning a high turnout election (Republicans never do), so they’re going to be as offensive as possible in hopes of alienating people even more from the electoral process.

We (actual human beings with ethics, that is) cannot let this happen.  If you’re in a public place with TVs when one of those McPalin attack ads comes on, start singing or jumping up and down or doing whatever you have to do to deflect attention from them.  If you’re walking down the street and a McPalin activist tries to talk to you, let him/her.  Spend as much time with them as you can stomach; that’s less time they can spend with people who might actually listen to them.  When you talk politics with conservatives, use the word “lie” as often as you can; you still won’t be able to use it enough to be really accurate about how often they lie, but it’s a step in the right direction.

And finally, let the Obama/Biden campaign know that your insistence on honesty cuts both ways.  They don’t get a free pass on telling the truth about themselves or their opposition just because McPalin is such a shameless liar.

Initial Veep debate reactions

October 3, 2008

On my way to class in a few minutes, so this’ll be short–

1.  Biden knows his stuff.  Yeah, he misspeaks from time to time, but it’s clear that he has experience dripping out the wazoo, much like McCain. 

2.  It’s clear, too, that Barack Obama understands issues, of all stripes, a lot better than Sarah Palin does.  I don’t know if he’s *smarter*, necessarily, but he clearly has thought more about more complicated things than she has. 

3.  Joe Biden won a huge stack of points for calling out McCain/Palin on the “Maverick” riff.  John McCain’s about as maverick as a sofa, and it was time for a member of the Democratic ticket to say that out loud.

4.  Sarah Palin isn’t as inept as some of us thought (hoped) she was.  Neither did she anything particularly smart or incisive, but she didn’t botch anything. 

5.  I don’t care how “folksy” she pretends to be.  Middle-class and working-class citizens don’t own homes worth $500, 000, don’t have two “vacation retreats,” and generally don’t own airplanes.  Neither are middle and working-class citizens governors of states, even states with small populations.  It’s just a flat lie that she’s “one of us.” 

More later, I’m sure.

The stakes in this election keep getting clearer

October 1, 2008

In a nutshell, here’s what a vote for Obama/Biden accomplishes–

1.  It expunges the Rove gang from the White House, I hope once and for all.  It’s time for those sleazebags to crawl back under whatever rock they came from underneath.

2.  It at least opens up the possibility of a White House that cares about citizens who don’t run energy companies or military contractors.

3.  It gives the Democratic majority in Congress at least the hope that they can get signatures on meaningful legislation.

4.  It will keep the Supreme Court from getting even more conservative.

5.  It sends a message to moderate Republicans that there’s a place for them in the tent, while it tells the ultra-conservative neocons to screw off.

6.  It results in lower taxes for most people, even though the Republican attack machine insists on lying about this.  And it’s no wonder they lie about it, because they’re certainly not winning the White House on the merits of their own platform.

I’m generally a pretty forgiving person, but the havoc and destruction wrought on this country and the world courtesy of neoconservative policy over the last 8 years is simply unforgiveable.  As much as I’d like to see Bush/Cheney/Rove/Abrams/Wolfie/Rummy-and-the-gang do the prison time they deserve, I’ve pretty much lost hope that they’ll ever be punished for their atrocities.

However, those of us who find them contemptible can send a clear message that we’re taking our country back, that we’ve had ENOUGH of them.  We can punish them and their whole machine.  We can do this by voting against candidates who have swallowed their lines, who have sold their souls to the power-mongers, and by voting for candidates who understand one simple concept–

The government that governs best is the one that actually does the will of the people.  It’s called democracy.

By the way, in the hour since I posted this, several people have read it already.  Nobody’s leaving comments.  Please do; I’m interested in hearing other people’s thinking about this.

Some reactions to Friday’s Prez candidates’ debate

September 28, 2008

In general terms, Friday’s debate went pretty much how I thought it would.  Obama was better (and better sounding) on all issues economic because John McCain is a rich white man who thinks only about the interests of his patrons.  On foreign policy, although I agree with Obama more than with McCain, McCain certainly sounded more knowledgeable based on his ability to name-drop and his ability to invoke his experience directly.  He did sound, from time to time, incredibly nasty and patronizing to Obama; unfortunately, only people who already support Obama would probably hear it that way.

Maureen Dowd’s column in this morning’s NY Times gets it right, I think.  She contends that Obama had several opportunities to lay McCain out, but he refused to throw the punches.  He could have done so, she contends further, without descending into the kind of politics he says he rejects.  In other words, he could have answered some of McCain’s flat-out lies without simply calling McCain a liar.  I hope, as I know many of my friends do, that Obama does a better job of exposing McCain’s lies for what they are as the campaign moves towards its end.

The facts are incredibly clear.  John McCain doesn’t care, at all, about what happens to anybody as a result of his support for deregulation.  He doesn’t care, at all, about the damage done to the economy, or the nation’s standing in the world, while some rich folks got richer.  He doesn’t care, at all, about the problems people are facing keeping afloat.

He does care, a lot, about projecting American power around the globe in imperial ways.  He does care, a lot, about maintaining the appearance of American dominance around the globe, even at the expense of crumbling actual military power, homeland economics, safety of American citizens, and so on.  He may know more about the history and the personal lives of leaders in places like Kurdistan, but knowing more factoids doesn’t give him better judgment.  It’s crystal clear that his judgment on everything is wrong (Joe Biden’s urge to hyperbole served him well when he said this on Saturday).  The simple fact of the matter is that McCain is an awful choice for President, and anybody who votes for him is voting to ruin our country.

And that’s before we even begin to consider his VP choice…

Obama chooses Biden

August 23, 2008

Still sorting out my reaction to this news, but a knee-jerk first impression–

Safe choice. He certainly adds some expertise that Obama “needs” according to the mainstream media’s (read “McCain’s”) depiction of him. Probably not a bad idea to get somebody out of the Senate, open up leadership spaces there for new blood, and balance out the riskier elements of Obama’s candidacy.

Since I never really bought into Obama’s “change” message as much as some people did anyway, the selection of somebody who’s even more an insider than McCain doesn’t trouble me as much as it will some Obama supporters. That’s OK too.

I just hope, but without much grounds for doing so, that Biden has learned his lesson over the years about shooting from the hip. Sure, candor is cool and all, but sometimes a second delayed is a career saved. I do hope that at least one of the rationales for choosing Biden is his statement on MSNBC a few months ago that the Bush regime has been one of, if not the most, disastrous in American history. Somebody needed to say that, because it’s the truth, and if he can keep that edge turned outward, he’ll be a great addition to the ticket.