Friday, March 21, 2008

Lie, Cheat and Steal

When I saw this story the other day about Hillary needing to do three things to win the Democratic nomination, my first thought was "Yeah - Lie, Cheat and Steal."
But then I read the article and here are the three things they actually suggest she needs to do:

1. Win big in Pennsylvania and claim that that proves she deserves the nomination even though she will still be behind in pledged delegates... In other words, LIE.

2. Find some way to have the Florida and Michigan delegates seated on her behalf even though they did not hold legitimate primary elections... In other words, CHEAT.

3. Find some way to get the superdelegates to abandon and Obama and support her... In other words, STEAL.

So my first impression turns out to have been dead on. Ha!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 year anniversary

No, not the war in Iraq. My blogiversary!
Actually, I just realized that I totally neglected to note my blog’s fifth anniversary back in January - Jan. 10 to be precise.
Here is my first ever blog post from 2003.
I didn’t have titles for my posts back then. I didn’t have comments. I didn’t know how to post links or pictures or videos. But I had a blog!
It is strange to think that my blog has been around longer than the war-that-will-not-end in Iraq. It is older than both of my children. I’ve had it longer than either of the two cars I currently own.
Amazingly enough, I’ve lived in the same house and had the same job for this entire period. That is unusual for me. But I have no plans of ever moving again and I expect I will keep this blog going for the forseeable future. It’s too much fun to stop now!

Failure to Communicate

I’ve always enjoyed sparring with people over politics and since I started blogging I have sought out people who I could engage in debate over the political issues of the day.
But forming and maintaining such relationships - cordial yet adversarial - has proved difficult at times. A lot of bloggers simply don’t stick around for very long. Many of the rightwing bloggers I have engaged in debate over the years have simply shut down and tuned out. Sometimes the dialogues we’ve had have proved fruitful and informative on both sides. Other times they have simply reinforced stereotypes and animosities and have gone nowhere.
One recent effort of mine to strike up a discourse with a political adversary has just ended in dismal failure. The other day I was formally banned from commenting at the blog run by TexasFred. It didn’t take long. I think I was allotted three comments on the site before I was pitched out on my rear.
I should have known better. I was intrigued by TexasFred because he was one of the many rightwing bloggers to announce steadfast opposition to John McCain’s presidential candidacy. I was curious to see how long this would last before the prospect of a Democratic boogeyman getting in the White House would force a reversal of that position. Sure enough, once it became clear that Obama would be the nominee, TexasFred began to bitterly denounce him in tones that were both objectionable and over-the-top.
It should have been clear then that there was no opportunity for dialogue at that point. But I let my curiosity overrule my better judgment and I attempted to open a dialogue on his blog. This is always difficult because many people will assume that someone posting an adversarial comment on their site is a “troll” who is only seeking to pick a fight or make fun of them. So I tried to ease into the discussion by first noting an area where we are in agreement - he is adamantly opposed to the Iraq War in the same way that Pat Buchanan is. But, I wondered, how can he still consider supporting the Republican ticket in that case?
But my attempt to raise this issue backfired when he mistook one of my comments and lambasted me with his response. And then he made it clear that if I were a supporter of Obama he would have no interest in anything I have to say. I should have bailed at that point, but I then made the mistake of trying to lighten the mood by cracking a joke in my next comment only to find that TexasFred takes his politics very seriously and does not share my sense of humor. So I was banned and all my previous comments on the site were deleted and pitched down the memory hole.
So, as in the Cool Hand Luke clip above, I had failed to communicate and I walk away with the impression that there are some people that you just can’t reach.
But, honestly, I still don’t believe that. Not entirely.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A historic speech

Here is the full text of Obama’s “Race Speech” that he delivered today. It is most remarkable because he addresses the race issue from both the perspective of a black man and a white man. There are not many people who can do that today with any degree of credibility. Obama, because of his unique racial heritage, can.
He doesn’t just dismiss and denounce the racist words of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, he puts them into their historical context and then shows a path by which those views can be changed. He does not excuse the offensive remarks, but neither does he condemn the man for saying them.
And then he changes gears and discusses the race issue from a white perspective. He talks about the racial resentments that white people feel over busing and affirmative action, and he puts that into its historical perspective too.
I don’t know how anyone could listen to this speech in its entirety and not come away affected by its eleoquence and sincerity. This is the power of rhetoric that has been missing for far too long in our society. I am more excited than ever now about the possibilities that Obama’s candidacy brings for reconciliation and healing in our fractured society.
There will always be people who will dismiss and ignore what he says, but as long as he continues to find forums to spread this unifying message, it will be difficult for the naysayers to hold back the positive changes that are long overdue in our country.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Raw, unfiltered hatred

A while back I noted that a lot of rightwing bloggers were swearing up and down that they would never vote for John McCain.
Their revulsion for McCain’s alleged liberalism was just too much for them to bear.

But I should have known not to underestimate the power of raw, unreasoning, unfiltered hatred.
Case in point: One of the wingnut bloggers I referenced was one called Texas Fred who had this to say back then:

I will officially go on record, here and now, and I make this a public disclosure to any and all that have doubts as to where I stand, IF John McCain is the candidate chosen by the RNC to run for the White House, I will NOT support the Republican choice...

But now, using the drummed up controversy over Obama’s former pastor as his excuse, Texas Fred has suddenly backtracked:

”If it means supporting McCain to keep this skinny, purple lipped, half-assed black son of a bitch stealth muzzie OUT of the White House, then by God I’ll support McCain...”

Texas Fred precedes this tirade by claiming that he is “not a racist” and I would agree. It’s not that he is a racist that makes him say these things, it’s that he is an a**hole. I’m sure he would find some excuse to vent his hatred at the Democratic nominee regardless of who it turns out to be.

Not all rightwingers are like this, fortunately, but for far too many this raw hatred that builds up in their twisted psyches becomes the primary motivation for all their political views. It is the touchstone of their politics. It is what motivates them and drives their political agenda. They build up a strawman, fill it up with their worst fears and prejudices and then sit back and scream hateful invectives at it.
Trying to engage people such as this in constructive debate is usually futile. Their hatred runs too deep and blinds them from any rationale thought.

It does not surprise me that Texas Fred and others of his ilk are going back on their pledges of non-support for McCain, but I was a little shocked to see it done with such foul and hate-filled intensity as demonstrated by Texas Fred.

Mutton Busting

This is what my little boy got to do on Saturday.

Heck of a job, Mr. President

This is some way to cap off the final year of his presidency, isn’t it?

"The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the Second World War," Alan Greenspan said in a Financial Times commentary.
    "It will end eventually when home prices stabilise and with them the value of equity in homes supporting troubled mortgage securities," he said, referring to the meltdown in the US subprime home loan market and subsequent massive losses for the banks holding the debt instruments.
    "The crisis will leave many casualties," he said, his remarks coming after Bear Stearns, the fifth largest US investment house collapsed Friday and was taken over by JPMorgan Chase for a fraction of its value of only a week ago.

So.... what happened? Why haven’t Bush’s tax cuts made everything wonderful for our economy? How come after eight years with Bush at the reins we are heading towards the most wrenching financial crisis since WWII?
Not his fault, you say? 9/11 and all that?
There could not be clearer evidence that Republican economic policies have FAILED miserably. The prospect of electing John McCain to carry on another four years of these same failed economic policies is frightening.