Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry and Happy To All

Just wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to all the folks who have taken the time to drop by our little blog. I'm sure I speak for SJ as well when I say that we appreciate you all taking the time to read our sometimes rambling (in my case) and sometimes intelligent (in SJ's case) posts. Hopefully you will all have a happy and safe holiday season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Affirmative Action

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaIn the past two weeks this President, whom so many within his own party have chosen to label a weakling, or gutless or ineffective or worse than Bush,  has guaranteed an extension in unemployment benefits, extended the tax cut to the middle class for two years, signed the most comprehensive overhaul of food inspection in more than a generation, got the START treaty through Congress, got the aid for 9/11 first responders approved and this afternoon put his signature on a bill to end DADT. And that is all I have to say about that.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Take the Money and Run

I have disagreed with the President on many occasions and I continue to be disappointed by some of his decisions. I am all for standing on principle as an outsider. However I also realize that politics is a different game. Politics is a game of give and take. From what I can see, the President is playing this game to the best of his abilities. He has limited support from his own party (the left and right both attack his policies), he has absolutely no support from the Republicans and very little support from the coalition that elected him.

All I hear from the progressives at this point is how the president isn't living up to the legacy of FDR. Well FDR had a chance to put health care for all in place and he bargained it away. He got nothing( I'm assuming those on the left would have been happy to do away with social security as well because getting only that would have been seen as a "compromise"). . Ted Kennedy had a chance to champion Jimmy Carter's deal for health care for all working Americans and he decided to go for it all we ended up with nothing. Kennedy did it because he wanted to run for President and didn't want to rubber stamp the Carter agenda. No one talks about that either. (But according to the left, that decision should be applauded because he stood on principle. Never mind the fact that he later in life said it was the biggest mistake he ever made in his political life.)

I have no idea what the standard is for this President. If he had stood on principle in the health care debate (meaning single payer), we would now have nothing. If he would have stood on principle during the fight for financial reform, we would have nothing. This president doesn't need to grow a set, he has a set. He has decided to set a course of attainable progress. It doesn't help him with the left (who want some progressive superman to take down the Republicans without so much as a nod to the procedural rules of Congress that wouldn't allow such a thing), the right continues to call the President a socialist, a communist, a traitor, a Muslim terrorist, etc. How much bravery do you think it takes for someone to act even though they know it will curry no favor with either supporters or detractors?

Frankly I'm of the mind that the President should just finish out his term and go on to become extremely rich as the foremost citizen of the world. Because even if those in the US don't appreciate him, he is without a doubt the most admired leader in the world today. If the US doesn't want him, then I guess we don't deserve him. I'm not defending his decisions. I've been just as disappointed in some of them as some of his most vocal critics have been. But I do understand political reality. And after the next election, when those on the left will be, I assume based on their current rhetoric, celebrating the end of the term of the great appeaser, we'll all get a dose of political reality, Republican style. And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

The Zero Sum Game.


This post started off as a response and affirmation of the sentiments in the previous post by MyCue23, but it dragged on too long in the comments box and got cut off, probably because I’ve been holding my tongue/thoughts for too long and now there’s too much to say with any concision…

I ‘ve thought long and hard about whether to keep writing on politics because once again the American Left, the only alternative for sane people in the United States living outside of the community of the top 1% of wealth holders, are fighting with themselves again.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again, the Left, Progressives, Liberals, Pro Union workers, Socialists argue with each other, and the Right unifies in response to the turmoil. You don’t hear anyone on the Right saying, “We didn’t defeat healthcare reform passage, we need a ‘real’ Republican running the Party.” No. They patted themselves on the back for aborting the Single Payer Option and concentrated on what to sabotage next like Financial Reform.

Democrats, Progressives and Liberals who take an “all or nothing” approach to legislative progress for our society’s evolution, are only working toward the goals of their intended adversary: The Establishment and their self-approved Status Quo.

I’ve said it before: I’m not happy.

But I’m not willing to cede the reigns back to the craven, thieving enemies of this Republic, who rob every working man, woman and innocent child daily, just because we haven’t gotten as far as we wanted to go by last Wednesday. I’m certainly not going to handover control by hanging my hopes on some unnamed, principled, but ineffective articulator of my hopes who can’t get elected, and has no hope of nudging a swing state or hurdling any of the concrete barriers that destroy candidates in presidential races. This as yet unnamed, and somewhat imaginary ‘real’ Progressive (Liberal, Demorcat et al.) that my disenchanted fellow travelers on the Left are proposing is the respective gambit that the Republicans are trying to avoid on their very own side of the fence: Sarah Palin. Palin might be what their people want, but they know those people aren’t looking squarely at election night, and the way Palin would energize every person with an IQ higher than 90 to vote against her is the reason they openly express their opposition to her candidacy and influence.
It doesn’t feel particularly good to argue practicality, -ever. Especially when the future is on the line, and in politics it always is. But I’m arguing for it here at the risk of being called a sell out by my contemporaries. I’m taking the long view, further down the field, possibly as far down the line as the end of my life. I’ll stand with this President and his administration, and all the Democrats in office in the House and the Senate (even somebody I think has proven themselves to have been bought outright by lobbyists like Sen. Max Baucus), just as I criticize them for not going far enough, or not being tough enough. I remain a supporter of Democrats because resetting the clock and the score on Healthcare Reform (limited as it is), Financial Reform (weak as it is) is exactly what the Establishment’s political arm: the GOP and the Conservative base have always wanted.

Rolling back what little has been done is exactly what the GOP will do if they get into power. Taking everything back to a starting point, because you didn’t reach your goal in the time you wanted -- in the exact way that you wanted, still means you are further away from those goals, only with exhausted resources. You are back to the starting line as if nothing ever happened. The Obama Administration and the current crop of Democrats in office the last few years have moved the ball forward: on the environment; on consumer issues; on financial reform; on healthcare; on enforcing the Constitution. E.g. once you have passed a law making an activity, like rescission, or denial of covergae based upon pre-existing medical conditions illegal you can move forward and try to do other, harder things, like getting medical coverage for all college students, or lowering the Medicare entry point to age 50; or eventually a Single Payer Option, -unless...
unless you have to go back and fight issues like rescission all over again, -every single time-, every 20 years or so, as has been done since President Truman’s initial efforts to nationalize the healthcare industry (They defeated him by calling him a Socialist.)

Proffering a “real” Progressive as a presidential candidate, (which really is code for someone who is functionally, inflexibly uncompromising on principles central to 20th century Progressivism,) is unrealistic in proposed inception and possible practice in a country where Senator Russ Feingold was defeated by a Tea Party (Read rebranded Republican) candidate who publicly and unashamedly calls the assertion that climate change is a man-made problem, "crazy."

The best that could be done, somehow happened in 2008. Two men, who on paper scare the shit out of the duped reactionary masses and their wealthy and powerful masters made their way into the White House on the backs of a voting block that coagulated and solidified long enough to overturn the costly (and some will maintain illegitimate) election outcomes of 2004 and 2000.

As I write this, few are taking up FDR’s challenge to Labor leaders after his election in 1932: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." I don’t have a single friend who complains about this administration calling their Representatives or their Senators on any issues. They voted, and they figured that their job is done; ignoring the fact that it’s the house and the legislature that write and enact bills into laws, the White House ultimately only has a direct power to say “no” and propose Supreme Court judges. To those who say there is no difference between what this administration has done, and what Republicans would have done in their place for the last two years, I say: Marshal your imagination to consider what the Supreme Court would look like for a different perspective. I ask that all of us think of Healthcare Reform and Financial Reform and whether they would have come up even, solely, simply, as proposed subjects for theoretical discussion under a Republican administration. -I doubt they would have even gotten a mention from the podium judging from the last 8 years of a Republican White House. But in our living reality, -they were proposed, and heavily promoted by this White House, and the overwhelming majority of the people who voted President Obama and Vice President Biden into office, immediately forgot they had a Senate and House of Representatives to bring into line if they wanted to get anything done, ever. That’s never going to change no matter who gets into office. Having the President you supported elected is never enough, he needs direction, he needs post election support. Replacing a Moderate, Liberal or Progressive President every cycle simply forestalls the ongoing problems and sustains the dysfunction between the Executive branch and the Legislative branch in our government; a dysfunction that benefits the Establishment, the wealthy, the powerful.

It’s not too late too late to make them do it. …Unless we want to just erase all this meagre progress and start over from scratch, just like the GOP keeps asking everybody to do.
-SJ

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Armageddon

The so called "progressives" seemed to have decided that the President deserves to have a primary challenger in 2012. His capitulation on the Bush tax cuts was seen as the final straw. I personally think that the President made a mistake in negotiating as if he were at a disadvantage when clearly he had the support of a majority of Americans. He also went back on one of his biggest promises of his Presidential campaign. Those are reasons to be angry with the President, but to call for a primary challenge is political suicide. 

The last sitting President to face a primary challenge was Jimmy Carter and before that it was LBJ. In both instances the fissures in the Democratic party led to narrow victories by the Republicans which was then followed by overwhelming electoral victories in the following Presidential election. This situation is unique however. In this case, the first African American to ever be elected to the office would be the one facing a challenge from within his own party. Intra-party fights are incredibly messy affairs and this one would be even more divisive than the anti-war effort that caused LBJ to quit the race before he was even officially a candidate. 
The is no doubt that African Americans are the most loyal of the parts that make up the democratic party base. In the last election the percentage of black Americans who voted for President Obama topped 90%. There is no other group that can be counted on to vote democratic as consistently as blacks. Now this group, that has been so loyal to the party, finally and almost unbelievably got to vote for someone who looks like they do. They came out in record numbers and enthusiastically cast their vote for Barack Obama. Some felt as if they had lived to see a miracle. Some, who had lived through the hell that was Jim Crow, cried at just the thought of being able to cast their vote for a black presidential candidate. Some were so filled with pride that they were almost overwhelmed by the opportunity to cast their vote. 

Now less than two years into his presidency, those same people are being told by the progressives that this President, their President, is unfit to lead the party. They are being told that even though he has faced unprecedented opposition from the Republicans, an onslaught of negative press from the right , and questions about his religion and place of birth from his first day in office, he has failed to live up to the legacy of FDR. who had historically large majorities in the house and senate to work with They are being told that even though his own party controlled both houses of Congress, and were too weak to pass a stronger version of health care reform, that ultimately it is his fault. They are being told that despite the fact that the coalition that elected him quickly became as quiet as a church mouse that it was his fault that those on the right were overwhelming the political conversation. They are being told that even though his term is less than 1/2 over, there is nothing that he can do to salvage it. They are being told that this President, their President, is being held to a standard that it would be impossible for anyone to live up to. 

I would ask each and every person who thinks of themselves as a progressive and who thinks that the President should face a challenger in the primaries and indeed should be replaced at the top of the ticket, what they think will happen to those most loyal of democratic voters when they see this President, their President, attacked openly by the party that they have given so much of their political energy to? Who do you think they will choose? What side do you think they will choose to be on? Do you think that a group of people who have been historically abused, neglected and subjugated will suddenly decide to turn against one of their own? 

The truth of the matter is that if the progressives really want Obama out as the standard bearer for the democratic party in the next election, they can probably make it happen. As we know, it is only the most highly motivated who vote in primaries. If the progressives were to get behind one candidate, they stand a good chance of making a primary challenger into a serious threat to the President. And if the President were to lose to a primary challenger, I will ask again, what would happen to the most loyal and consistent of democratic voters? How do you think their reaction would impact senate races and congressional races? I'm not saying that African Americans would turn to the Republican party, but if this President, their President, was somehow removed from the ticket for 2012, the repercussions would be far reaching indeed and would reverberate for years to come.  The Republicans would hold an unassailable majority in the house and senate. The Supreme court would be lost for the next 30 years. The Republican agenda would become the only agenda. That is what we face if this insanity of a primary challenger is carried out.

Are the progressives willing to put this bullet into the head of the democratic party for a generation? You bet your sweet ass they are. Because what is better than fighting the good fight? What is better than going down in flames? What is better than being the angry young man beating your head against the wall? What is better than winning a battle that you know in the long run will lose you the war? After all, it's all about the fight. 

This President is far from perfect. In fact there are many, many decisions of this administration that I disagree with. However disagreeing with the President and actively seeking his dismissal are completely distinct activities. I can hope that those on the left will come to their senses in time to mount a unified effort to reelect President Obama, but somehow I think that the progressives would rather win a battle, than fight a war. In the euphoria after Barack Obama was elected there were those pundits who were proclaiming the end of the Republicans as a national party. Less than two years later we can see how wrong they were. However, if the progressives chose to go down this road, they will condemn the Democrats to a permanent place on the sideline of national political debate. I can assure that if Black Americans see this President, their President, being attacked, belittled and battered by the party that they have given so much to, they will consider it a personal attack and the democratic party will never be the same again.
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Progressive No More

I've decided that it's time (for me at least) to shed the label of "Progressive". First of all I never really understood what that meant. I always thought that people came up with it when Liberal became a dirty word in politics. I am unabashedly a liberal. I believe that the government should do more for those of us who can't do for themselves. I believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege. I believe that gays should be allowed to marry and be as miserable as the rest of us. I believe that all our children deserve the same quality of education. I believe that affirmative action will be necessary until we no longer exist as a species on this planet. I also believe that having a President in the White House who belongs to the Democratic party is a good thing. 

The so called progressives in this country are climbing over each other to see which one can express more disappointment in what Barack Obama has been able to achieve as President. You see when Obama was elected, he was singlehandedly supposed to take down the Washington DC machine. He alone was going to expose the corporate underbelly. He was going to make the sun shine every day and bring an end to all war and hunger. He was also going to get universal health coverage for all, end hunger, make our schools the best in the world, turn our economy green overnight by ending our dependence of foreign oil, end all discrimination, bring down the corrupt banking system and make sure the Yankees won the World Series every year. Okay, that last one was just what I was hoping. 

The progressives who had worked so hard to get Obama elected, now feel betrayed because all those things haven't come to pass. They point to FDR and LBJ as examples of what can be done by a true "progressive" leader. They seem to forget that FDR came to power with over 70% of both houses of Congress from his party. We were also at the start of Great Depression (which magically did not end over night, regardless of the re writing of history that some would like to do) and people were desperate for an answer, any answer. What those who are so enamored of FDR fail to note is that after his first 100 days in office and even with overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate, he was never again able to pass anything like the sweeping changes he made initially. He also wanted universal health care, but couldn't get enough support for it, even from his own party. Perhaps the progressives of the day were also lamenting the ineffectiveness of FDR. LBJ swept into his second term on a wave of emotion over the slaying of his predecessor. The country rejected the seemingly knee jerk conservatism of Barry Goldwater (all except the deep south states which have remained a Republican stronghold ever since) and gave him a mandate to govern. The Great Society was supposed to bring an end to all discrimination, hunger and suffering. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights act, the Medicare act were all part of plan. Of course less than 2 years later the same country that had so overwhelmingly voted for LBJ were ready to tear his head off. And his main opposition came from within his own party.

I don't think it's a bad thing to dream big. In fact big dreams create big results. In Washington DC however, those dreams must be tempered by political reality. All those people who donated money to the Obama campaign have to understand that even though it was a record haul for a candidate, he still got more money from corporate entities than he did from private citizens. That is just the reality of politics. The banks and big business pay for our elected officials. Campaign finance reform would be wonderful, but in reality, the forces aligned against it are just too powerful. This President (and the parties they lead), likes those before him in modern times, are beholden to big corporate interests. The five biggest banks in the country have more capital than the US government. Who do you think wins a stare down between the two? 

This President is never going to be all things to all people. I reject the notion, however, that there is no difference between him and a generic Republican President. I believe that this President's heart is in the right place. I believe that he really cares about the issues of working people. I believe that he is doing all that he can to make sure that the people get as fair a shake as possible under the current conditions. That is what I believe is the difference. Can he affect all the changes that he'd like? Of course not. He is bound by the limitations of his office. I personally think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are pointless. If it were up to me, I would bring everyone home tomorrow. But it's not up to me and frankly, it's not up to him either. If anyone thinks that managing global military policy is as easy as just ending something that is unpopular, then they are deluding themselves. But apparently that is what "progressives" like to do. I would love America to reject our dependence on foreign oil and create millions of "green" jobs here. But Americans are lazy and cheap. As long as oil is the cheapest way to power our cars, then that is what we are going to use. A "green" economy can't be created overnight. There has to be a demand for it and unfortunately, despite the fact that we are slowly killing our planet, there is none. 

Progressives also like to talk of this mythical leader who can turn this all around. Dennis Kucinich has been mentioned by some. Of course he has about as much chance of being elected President as I do and I wasn't even born here. The machine that is Washington DC moves slowly and incrementally. Was health care reform all I had hoped for? Of course not. I mean who would have wanted a money grab for the same insurance companies that have been screwing us for years? Financial reform is fairly toothless, but it is an attempt at trying to control an out of control situation. How would this imagined "progressive" leader have handled a fractured Democratic party and an opposition bent on destroying any agenda he or she set. The Republicans made a calculated gamble that the economy could not be turned around in 18 months and that the people would blame the President for it. So by opposing his policies, even without proposing any of their own, they look like a better option. And amazingly the American people bought it. That's not exactly true, but they did buy the disenchantment with the current administration. They listened to all the naysayers and doomsday prophets and stayed home in droves. Could the mythical progressive prophet have done any better? The people have already shown how quickly they lose faith in their real political "Superman".

I started this by saying I'm not a Progressive anymore. I don't know that I ever was one. I'm just simply a liberal with a firm grip on reality. Perhaps I'm too pragmatic to be a Progressive. Who knows? Those on the left who say that the President should have mobilized his forces to fight for health care or financial reform or gay marriage or whatever, forget the fact that when Barack Obama took the oath of office, he was no longer a candidate of some of the people, he became the President of all of the people. He does not speak only to those of us who supported him or gave him money or voted for him or made phone calls for him or knocked on doors for him, he speaks to all of us. Some may listen, some may not, but he does not have the option to only speak to selected groups. He makes his case to the American people and they decide what their course of action will be. As a liberal, I want more from this administration. I want more from this President. But I know the size of the rock he's trying to push up that hill. I'm a liberal, and I want more. But I also live in the real world.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Chicken Little

Yesterdays election results were about what people expected. The Republicans won the House and the Democrats managed to maintain a slim lead in the Senate. John Boehner will now be the Speaker of the House and the Republicans can start down the road of investigations and subcommittees and the like. However the simple truth of the matter is that even with the election results, not much is going to change. The sky is not going to fall, the world will not stop spinning on its axis and the majority of people in the US will go an as if nothing of importance happened yesterday. That is the basic truth of politics in this country. After the election of President Obama, some got their hopes so unbelievably inflated that there was no possibility that he could meet their expectations. The hangover from the high of victory in '08 has reverberated all the way to last nights election. Here's what I wrote back in November of '08:

If Barack Obama were actually to become the next President of the United States would the country be transformed overnight? Of course not. We face an economic crisis of untold proportion and there is nothing that will make that go away, least of all the election of a new President. The rich will still be rich, the poor will still be poor, the homeless will still be homeless, hundreds of thousands of our troops will still be deployed in the Middle East and our economy is still going to be in very poor shape. The new President is going to be left with multiple issues to deal with from the current administration. An Obama presidency would not mean that our problems would disappear, in fact, the next President is going to face some monumental challenges that no change in policy is going to be able to overcome in a few months. The country would head in a different direction under an Obama administration, but the issues are and would continue to be very challenging for the country.

Last nights results do not do not change my thoughts in any way. Last nights results show what happens when Republicans are energized and motivated and Democrats are not. The Republicans continue to promise what they've always promised and have always failed to deliver. The energy just happened to be on their side this time. The story of fear and hate will always find an audience, it just so happens that the color of president in combination with the color of those coming from our southern neighbor and bad economic times, made the story an easy sell. Perhaps after two years of non action, the Tea Party (read Republicans) will become disillusioned with their leadership as well.

What does this mean for 2012? It's hard to say. If the economy improves, then Obama wins in a cakewalk. If it doesn't then all bets are off. At this point, if I were a betting man, I would put Sarah Palin as the even money favorite to win the Republican nomination. However don't count out Scott Brown or Marco Rubio following the "Obama method" and running for president in the middle of the their first terms in Senate.  The rest of the Republican field is so uninspiring that I wouldn't give the lot of them (Romney, Gingrich, Pawlenty, Barbor, Huckabee) even long shot odds. I personally still think the nomination is sitting out there waiting for Jeb Bush if he wants it.

Anyway,there's no reason to panic over the results from last night. The sky is not falling and thankfully no one person is capable of bringing it down by themselves. That means of course that no one person is capable of making the sun shine all the time either. We would do well to remember that. As we've seen, the wheels turn very slowly in DC, if they ever turn at all.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

VOTE.


Lower turn out always benefits the elites, always bolsters the Establishment and reassures the top 1% of the nation’s Wealthy across the board. Nothing makes lobbyists happier than poor, working-class, middle-class, upper-class non-voters who cite “lack of enthusiasm” as their reason to stay home.

“The powers that be” don’t care if you’re Rich, Poor, Black, White, Brown, Man, Woman, Tranny, or a World of War Craft aficionado, -as long as you stay home on Election Day.

The dollars corporate interests and big business spent in the last presidential election and the last Senate and Congressional races go farther if we just act like nothing matters. This is why the Establishment always fights voter registration efforts, anywhere, from the Mission district in San Francisco, to Beverly Hills, to Compton, to Detroit, to Chicago’s Southside, to Park Avenue, to Harlem and all places in between, the non voter is the Establishment’s favorite kind of American: The defeated kind; The kind they don’t have to spend money distracting with ads or lying to in the newsmedia.

When you don’t vote, you have no say. When you have “no say,” you are no different than a royal subject in days of old… save that you did it to yourself.

GO VOTE.

Vote and vote hard.
Really think about it.
…And, if you do give it some thought, you’ll find there are plenty of reasons to vote for this candidate versus that candidate, or this proposition as opposed that bill… but there is no reason, not a single solitary one not to vote. EVER.

Many people died to set in motion this system, a still evolving one, which was more of an open-ended hope for a future that the founders were humble enough to know they could not imagine for us on parchment in perpetuity. Thomas Jefferson and others understood what they could not bring themselves to pronounce openly; namely that inalienable truth that says “us” means “all” or it just means “some,” and whatsoever was jotted down in the first drafts of our Constitution, -we were never intended to be a nation of “some.”

We’re still working it out. SO VOTE.

We owe them one.
The founders, despite their own criminal flaws, mendacity and self-centered motivations, didn't elect a new king, they laid down the ground work for a system by the people for the people, in an attempt at a “more perfect union.” –Those words were a dare of sorts to be answered by every succeeding generation, and some of our forbears have paid for it in flesh. Too many profited from its loopholes, its abusive legislation, its murderous and exclusionary protections… only to find those abuses and crimes the very reason for changing the Constitution, for the better, for the future.

If you’re going to stay home during this election I ask that you look at a portrait of Frederick Douglass while you stay home, wasting a precious chance to be counted, to be heard, to simply exist in the nation you live in. The shame might just kill you, be you Black, White, Hispanic, Fundamentalist or sane.

I won’t tell you who to vote for or why.

I have faith that if every registered voter came out and fulfilled their civic responsibility to the country, government would improve vastly. More would get done, -and more needs to get done because we’ve only started.

SO VOTE ALREADY.

Ignore all the noise, and cast your ballot and think of all the native nations that discovered this country millennia ago, the settlers, the slaves, the exploited, the immigrants and all who gave everything in return for nothing.

Vote because it’s your right, it’s your power and it’s the only way in which this nation can move forward into the light of its proper future.

VOTE.
-SJ
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Nobody Says We Were Attacked By Agnostics, White Men, New Yorkers, Republicans or Veterans on 4/19

If the glibness of this post’s title makes you angry, then read on. There’s actually a very important point to my sarcastic and jingoist-baiting statement above.

On April 19, 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was bombed by Timothy McVeigh, a Caucasian, sometime Catholic later Agnostic, decorated Persian Gulf War veteran, American militia movement sympathizing, registered Republican voter who was born in the state of New York.

McVeigh committed what was the single most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001 attacks. It claimed
168 lives, not counting an unmatched adult human leg that may belong to a possible, unidentified 169th victim who remains anonymous to this day.

The 168 death toll includes 19 children under the age of six.

Tim McVeigh claimed he initially wanted to destroy the Murrah building itself, but that he later came to the conclusion that his “message” would be heard only if there were many deaths. Most of the fatalities were directly caused by the violent collapse of the building’s structure, and not the bomb’s sudden instantaneous blast.

After April 19, nobody focused on any of the groups of which McVeigh was an identified member after his cowardly bombing with the ferocity, venom and prejudiced hate that Muslims have endured in America. Why? Because it would be manifestly stupid to suspect all persons born in the state of New York of terrorism. It would be an act of absolute idiocy to suspect all Persian Gulf War veterans of sedition and treason (And yet I would not blame them for those sentiments after the scandal of Walter Reade hospital during the Bush administration.) It would be irrational to assume that Caucasians want to bring down the government because of Tim McVeigh, and his accomplice Terry Nichol’s racial identity.

Yet this is the reasoning too many of us apply to Muslims in America.

You wouldn’t know that “guilt by association” is actually illegal in America from watching pundits on the Right, or by listening to the screams of protesters opposing the building of a Islamic learning center, (or mosque it doesn’t really matter which it is) in downtown Manhattan.

That’s all prejudice is at its core: the judgment of individuals based upon a belief applied to a group. The individual disappears, and all manner of injustice and violence is allowed. To paraphrase comedian Chris Rock, there’s always a lot of “accepted racism” when people start getting angry or scared or both.

We are angry and we are still scared in America, -and with good reason. Some spoiled fundamentalist asshole billionaire named Osama Bin Laden keeps releasing new tapes faster than the late Tupac Shakur; threatening violence and death against “the west” from all corners, sides and borders. Regardless of what motivations are ascribed to this homicidal thug and his fellow sociopaths, Bin Laden’s reasoning has more to do with perceived affronts to his reputation as a freedom fighter and protector of his culture and religion than the actual religion of Islam itself. When the House of Saud refused his help in pushing Saddam Hussein back across Kuwait, he openly threatened the Royal family. When the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia ran to their old friends the Bush family for support, he openly threatened the United States, leveraging the coming installation of an American military base within miles of Mecca as a rallying insult for Al Qaeda to galvanize around during and after the Persian Gulf War. Underneath all of this, the United States’ motivations had nothing to do with freedom or religion, -just the securing the uninterrupted procurement and distribution of oil at any cost. Nobody remembers that Bin Laden’s former target was the Egyptian government after the Soviet Afghanistan war, a fact conveniently lost in the post 9/11 us-versus-them propaganda deluge that ironically served the purposes of maniacs like Bin Laden himself: Every Muslim made to feel they do not belong gives his self-indulgent war of religion and culture legitimacy; Just ask John Miller, the only western reporter ever to interview Bin Laden face to face in 1998.

Even Bill Maher, another comedian like Chris Rock whose powers of reason and ethical humanist clarity I respect greatly, -actually defended racial profiling to my shock a few short years ago. If you’re looking for someone who looks and sounds like Osama Bin Laden, it still allows everyone who doesn’t look that way free reign to harm. I don’t feel safe around anyone when I’m at the airport, because I know that persons looking a particular way, being of a particular race, creed or color doesn’t make them any particular thing for better of for worse, for good or ill. Maybe old people get a pass, but that might be it.

And this is my point, and the motivation behind the title of this post:

Fox “News” Channel’s Bill O’Reilly said that “Muslims killed us on 9/11” on the TV talk show, The View this week. While that statement in isolation remains a fact, its selectiveness as a statement lends authority to a lie because all Muslims did not attack the United States on September 11, 2001. His statement is as ridiculous and dishonest as positing that “Veterans, Republicans and White men attacked us on April 19, 1995.” No one would uphold that statement or use it as justification for let’s say, denying a permit to an RNC convention in downtown Oklahoma because the GOP’s presence would be “an insult to families of the 4/19 victims.”

I am an American and I am tired of pointing out what is still racism and what still amounts to bigotry and prejudice over the shouting of people like Bill O’Reilly. I am exhausted from pointing out just how hypocritically selective hate is in America. I’m tired of pointing out the obvious to people who would rather act before they think just because they say their anger gives them the right.

Sadly, I am scared too.

Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the attack on the Pentagon and the failed run at the White House by high jacked flight 93, the United States is one terrorist attack away from a federal lock down that would make the Patriot Act look like a Civil Rights initiative (no matter who is in office.) The cultural and social repression that would emanate at street level is too monstrous to contemplate if we are hit again in sizeable measure. I know we’d lose everything valuable about this Republic because we’re not the nation we used to be. We don’t listen to smart people anymore, we call people who try to think things through “pussies,” and we call people who defend the powerless even worse names.

Just try and remember this:
The casualties on 9/11 included nationals from over 70 countries. That’s one isolated fact that Fox “News” Channel and Osama Bin Laden are glad we have forgotten.

-SJ

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Enemy Within

The political atmosphere in this country has now become so toxic that it is practically impossible to have a genuine conversation that results in a productive exchange of ideas. We have all become convinced that the other side is in league with the devil. The conversation is not about philosophical ideas of leadership, but about the Armageddon that awaits should the other side either remain in power or regain power. There is no political middle ground anymore. The President is a fairly moderate left leaning politician. What has that gotten him? The right thinks he's an African Manchurian candidate, anti-Christ. The left thinks he's a sell out with no backbone. That is what happens to you in today's climate if you attempt to walk down the middle of the road. 

The real problem with this open animosity is that it allows the actual issues of the day to be pushed to the side in an all out attempt to win. You see the idea that the end of the world is nigh becomes the driving force behind all political action. Politicians use the most extreme language to describe the opposition in order to evoke a visceral reaction from their followers. The actual policies are not the important thing, the most important thing that voters take away from these demagogues is that if the opposition wins, their lives as they know it will be over. I could get into more complicated explanations about the backlash of white males and the similarities to the strategies employed by Nixon in '68 and even more forcefully in '72, but there really is no need. Both parties are guilty of overuse of hyperbole in describing the repercussions to America should their opponents be victorious in the next election. 

Lost in all the noise is the actual policy. Which politician or political party is simply talking about what would be the most beneficial to the people of America? The political parties are too busy bashing each other over the head to seemingly pay much attention to that. The Good of the people (which has long since taken a back seat to the greed and ambition of politicians), seems to be absolutely missing from our political discussion these days. The sad thing is that the followers of both parties have allowed this to happen. We have all played a part in turning politics into just the next "thing" that we have to win. "Our side won, hurray"!, who cares whether it will actually help "We the People". Republicans were disappointed by George Bush, so what, at least he won 2 elections and God knows it would have been the end of the world  if Al Gore had won. Those on the left are disappointed in Obama, but so what, at least we won and God knows it would have been the end of the world if John McCain had won.
The rhetoric and the hyperbole and the scare tactics have come to define political thought in our time. We no longer live in constant fear of nuclear annihilation, but apparently we have replaced that boogey monster with a new one called the OPPOSITION PARTY. It works for politicians because it allows them to whip their supporters into a frenzy without ever addressing any real issues. TV friendly soundbites are so much easier to come up with than actual policies and ideas to address the many real problems that we face. The part that's harder to understand is how WE the PEOPLE have allowed ourselves to become the standard bearers of and town criers for this sideshow. Perhaps it is just the fact that we need a mortal enemy in order to justify our own existence. I'm not sure what the answer is. I've certainly been guilty of it myself. But when I see and hear the noise that is generated by the media and the nonsense that is spewing forth from the mouths of our elected leaders, I just have to wonder if there's any road back from this. Is this it? Is this what our republic has come to? I think the quote "We have met the enemy and he is us" sums up my feelings.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You'll Believe a Man Can Fly!

"You'll believe a man can fly", that's how the advertising campaign went for the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. After seeing the movie, I did damn near believed it myself, but I knew that it was just special effects. However, while I was watching the movie, I absolutely believed that Christopher Reeve could fly. That is because of what we call the willing suspension of disbelief. It makes movies, plays, books, etc., really any work of fiction more exciting. If we, as the audience willingly suspend our disbelief then we can go along on the journey of fancy being presented. Most works of fiction have plot holes big enough to drive a truck through and yet we allow them without too many questions because it makes the experience more entertaining. In every horror movie, the cast always splits up, instead of staying together. We all know that they would stand a better chance of surviving if they stayed together, but the characters seem to be oblivious to that fact. We, as the audience play along, because the experience wouldn't be as much fun if the characters acted like their real life counterparts would.

My co-conspirator here at Random Thoughts wrote a wonderful piece about the willingness of the American people to buy into lies and propaganda.  My thoughts are very similar, but I think that the American people are more like that audience at the horror movies. They know what the outcome is going to be and yet they still watch the whole movie. They still choose (with their dollars) to go and see something that is filled with inconsistencies and usually extremely predictable. I think Mike Myers (of Halloween fame, not the Canadian comedian) was killed at the end of every one of his movies and yet there he always was, two years later, once again reeking havoc on another unsuspecting group of individuals. The same goes for Jason Vorhees (Friday the 13th), or Freddie Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street). The audiences always came back though. 

We are now on the verge of a mid term election that could (and most likely will) return the Republicans to power in the House and Senate. How, you ask, could people who just two years ago resoundingly rejected the Republican agenda, once again think that the GOP is the answer to their problems? It's easy you see, they are engaged in the same type of mental gymnastics that are required to watch and enjoy a movie that makes no logical sense and is entirely predictable. We as a nation are now involved in a willing suspension of disbelief on a massive scale. The claims made by the Republicans and their supporters are entirely predictable. We all know what it leads to and how that story ends and yet it seems we are all going to be a party to a return engagement. We are going to sit down and pay our money and watch this show run it's course one more time. Lowering taxes on the rich will make eventually benefit everyone...loosening regulations on the banks will help to make money more accessible to everyone...Closing our borders will make us a stronger nation...Health care isn't so broke that a little tort reform won't make everything better...etc, etc, etc. 

We've heard it all before. There is nothing new on the table and yet we, as a nation are willing to suspend our disbelief in order to see the show play out once again. There is a definition of insanity which is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I don't believe that we fall under into that category, because deep down, I honestly believe that people know what the end result is going to be, they just don't care. We are willing to suspend our disbelief one more time because this show, the Republican Side Show, is just more fun than the Democratic one. The Republicans will tell you that everyone can be rich, if you just let them back into power. The Republicans will tell you that everyone will be happy, if you just let them back into power. The Democrats on the other hand are always trying to keep everyone grounded in reality. Well, as the people are about to tell them, reality is no fun. Where's the fun in hard work and sacrifice? Where's the fun in continued economic stagnation? Where's the fun in increased taxes?

So as November rolls around and unemployment stays high and disenchantment with the Obama administration continues to grow, get ready for a new horror movie that's going to be opening at a city hall and a state capitol and a Congressional office near you. Our suspension of disbelief will be in full effect as we sit down to enjoy, Halloween 2010: the Revenge of the Republicans. The problem is that we've already seen how this one ends.

Cross posted at Mad Mike's America.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Understanding What’s Really Wrong with Our Country and Our World


These days, I’ve often heard it said that the problem with too many Americans who vote against their own interests is their stupidity, or their lack of formal education, or their reliance on corporate-engineered news sources.

How else can you explain the popularity of someone as intellectually counterfeit and ethically suspect as Glenn Beck in America?

The problem with those explanations is that there are plenty of constant counter examples that don’t hold out. There are plenty of people that might be considered to be “dumb as posts,” who still vote rationally in line with their own interests and the interests of the country as a whole in mind. I’m talking about some of the poor people in my old South Bronx neighborhood, many of whom never made it past 9th grade, yet still understand the importance of labor unions and the need for regulation in big business no matter what they read in the New York Post every single day on their train ride to work. Most of these folks can’t even explain the structure of our government or its history despite being native born Americans, yet they can still spot opportunistic bullshit when they hear it:

These so-called “stupid” uneducated people still somehow knew that anything coming from the Right against Healthcare Reform was going to be the kind of lying you only see go down when corporate profits are at stake.

Another problem with the explanations of ignorance, or misinformation is that the truth and the facts are being promoted constantly in the media despite what my fellow Liberals charge: Someone who watches Fox “News” exclusively still walks around the same world as everyone else and invariably sees other headlines they have to actively dismiss. The devoted Fox “News” watcher has to walk the Earth in a constant state of denial, preemptively disbelieving anything that doesn’t match up with Murdoch’s brand of propaganda and wait for new Fox “factoids” to counter reality when they get home and can watch Hannity or whomever. There were for example far more years (decades in fact) of information on the dangers of global climate change, pollution, the importance of conservation, the dangers of continued and future oil dependence, than there have been of the relatively recent Right wing and corporate-sponsored anti-Environment movement propaganda. So just how did such obvious lies catch up to and overtake the truth for many in America?
-The way it happened was this: Lies, -the kind of lies that are invented to muddy facts and question truths inconvenient to the powerful, the Rich, the Establishment were created to be appealing to the believer. That’s the only way they could work. These lies gave the listener something in return for “buying in.”

“You can still lose weight and eat everything you want”
is a statement I see every night on TV infomercials in some form or another. This American desire, particularly the willingness of our desperate fat citizens to do absolutely anything in the world to lose weight (except eating right and exercising apparently) is the core of our problem, and it is what is behind the Tea Baggers today, and it is what was behind the Reagan revolution of 1980.

Tea Baggers believe that they can groundlessly oppose the Obama administration with criticisms they should have leveled at its predecessors (Spending, irresponsible economic governance, government intrusion, weak national security) because it makes them feel okay about claiming they’ve somehow lost their country now that a Black man is president.
Reagan’s supporters were told America could spend its way to prosperity; that we could deregulate big business and it would never create adverse consequences, -ever, because it allowed us to finally say what we felt was a long overdue “fuck you” to the poor. We believed it because it made us feel good. We believed it because it was allowing us to eat all we wanted, without any ill effects… that was the promise and that was the lie.

So the problem with America my friends, aside from our new impatience with any administration or any policy that takes more than six months to register a measurable improvement is this infantile desire to be lied to in place of an ugly truth, and the willingness to trade our safety and our future for just the right fantasy. Too many of us will buy into any lie, as long as the reality it promises let’s us get away with something. You can’t discuss policy with people who want to be lied to. You can’t have a conversation with someone who is lying about how they really feel, unless your goal is to waste your time. I don’t argue with Tea Baggers.

And that’s where we’re at today, Friday September 10, 2010, almost ten long years to the day after a homicidal fundamentalist asshole decided to make a point to my government with facile destructive attacks that only showed just how easy it is to murder people in an open society and an open nation and little else. The American Republic and its Constitution almost didn’t survive 9/11 and ten years later, too many of us are still taking the bait, too eager to hear lies that give us something in return for our credulity, like believing the lie that only allowing our government to operate secretly will keep us safe… or that the actions of the few can conveniently condemn all. -But that last bit goes for all of us, -the real “all of us” everywhere on the globe, whether we’re burning books, killing aid workers, denying people’s rights, or waging unending wars supported by some fake, self-inflicted distance from reality.

A lie is a kind of trade between the speaker and the listener.
We must always ask ourselves what someone is getting for our belief, and if it’s actually worth what we are getting in return.
-SJ

UPDATED 9/16/2010:
Jack Jodell has written an excellently researched rundown of lies that should not go uncontested or unremembered going into the fall.
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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

…And the Republic for Which It Stands.


I am living with a very terrible, nagging feeling these last months. We are in a state of division these days so acute that Republicans and Conservatives cavalierly propose secession and cite states' rights, as if Jefferson Davis were still walking the earth and the Civil War had been but a prelude, and not settled history. These Republicans were the same people who accused the softest critics of the Bush administration of treason in the post 9/11 twilight of the 00s.

As I hear poll after poll indicating that Republicans and the Right likely stand to gain seats, if not a functioning majority in the House, I ask myself:
“Who are these excited fools, and how exactly did they apply their amnesia so selectively?”
“Doesn’t the future of a country matter more to these “patriots” than their declared party’s influence?”

And I am dealing with other terrible, nagging feelings. Among them the suspicion that we may no longer lack the maturity as a nation of citizens to either wait for policies to take effect, or listen to reason of any kind. Emotion and fear consistently trump the facts; and our beliefs, no matter how archaic and unenlightened, drown out news and information. We won’t consider any single simple thing unless it comes to us from someone we want to hear it from at the podium. This is one of the things that is making it so difficult for the population to even agree on a common, concrete, empirical reality.

Not everything is a matter of opinion or belief, and saying so is an act of puerile desperation. But the desperate are outlasting the sane in America today. Voters are insisting on acting like children, citing their refusal of inconvenient facts as philosophical strength and ideological resolve.

The “news,” as it is today, it not helping. The global and national media apparatus is in fact providing the most effective means of disseminating lies, legitimizing contrived inaccuracies and promoting the distractions of the Establishment.

Months ago, I made a list of Republican Senators from around the country and called and emailed each and every one of them about Healthcare reform (some wouldn’t let me email if I didn’t place a zip within their state, so it took some doing.) I started with John Boehner’s office. My feeling was that I had to say something to contradict the lie they kept repeating over and over again, -that the overwhelming percentage of Americans did not want health care reform. I did not want to be unheard by these spectacular liars even if my communications were ticks in the seas of their blind supporters’ screams and yells at town halls.
I asked many writers online to do the same: -not that they call Democrats, but that they specifically call the “opposition” and make reality a thing that much more obvious to disavow. I suspect no one else did this, because I know how long it took me: 3 days.
All I hear is how demoralized, disappointed and unenthusiastic voters are now that the Obama administration has shown it can only pass part of a healthcare reform package, part of a financial reform bill.

Well maybe Obama could have cured cancer in the last year if every single person who ever complained about it called all of their representatives.

Do not forget that "part" of a lazy public is sitting back and saying “Well, I voted” and doing little else since the White House changed hands.
And Now...

...Now those masses who forever want someone to make them feel comfortable, those familiar millions who are always clamoring for some leader to tell them they can have everything they want if they only shut up, if they only listen, if they only follow like supplicants in the presence of God are excited again. The American Right’s goal is enchantment, belief, obedience, uniformity, a homogeneity all in the service of allowing the rich to get richer, and ensure the poor remain raw material for whatever purposes the ruling class see fit.
How could Democrats, Progressives, the Unions, the working class, the poor or the Left, ever have hoped to keep its resolve in the face of that kind of stalwart, idiotic devotion presented as a political movement?
Honestly, I figured it would last longer than a year and a half, but from what I’m reading online, I was dead wrong.

I was as na├»ve as the armies of suckers who lined up to hear a comedian “restore honor” this past weekend in the nation's capitol.

Somebody save this country from its stupider, short-sighted impulses.
Somebody wake it before this idiotic nightmare runs its toxic course.
-SJ
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nice Try.


I recycled a photo I created for the last piece I wrote on Glenn Beck, because that’s just how much time and attention this clown deserves this morning.

The most dishonorable and criminal thing that Conservatives, Republicans and all the hordes of Establishment propping shills in the media; like the whole of the Fox "News" Network, Newsmax and other purveyors of right wing fantasy, do is lie. The Right lies so brazenly and openly about their motives and their intentions and they do it with such sustained dedication, that the truth is often obscured by the simple exhaustion of journalists tired of reminding people of the facts.

Glenn Beck wants you to accept his excuse that his event today is just a coincidence in scheduling, but unless you are the kind of fucking fool who actually watches his cable show with the rapt attention more appropriate for actual news, -you can see this is a lie.

Can I or anyone read Beck’s mind and prove otherwise?
Of course not.

But childishly citing the absence of telepathy as the reason to accept this jackass’s excuse that he is trying to organize a “take back” of the Civil rights movement while unknowingly doing it on the anniversary of one of the most important dates in American history and Civil rights history, -is just more lying by Beck, Fox News, Rupert Murdoch and their PR teams.

The result and consequence of this rally is the same, -a desperate attempt at thinning and obscuring an important date in civil rights history with bullshit because there is an African American in the White House.

“Nice try, asshole.”

While Glenn Beck may have succeeded in fulfilling the wishes of Americans so scared to think for themselves that they’ll watch some unqualified jerkoff like him scribble Conservative paranoia on a black board, the vast majority of the world and Americans remain keenly aware that Glenn Beck’s time on TV, his public appearances, his “books” are all just one big publicity stunt. Like Sarah Palin, no paid hypocrisy, or promise of exposure is too immoral or dishonorable to turn down for Beck. …Otherwise why would Beck try to glom off of Dr. King’s legacy?

What I’ll do today, is what I do with all of the contemporary Right’s recent sad attempts at intellectual legitimacy, and political legacy: I’ll ignore it, just as I ignore the cheesy car dealership ads that pop up on Lincoln’s birthday every year.
-SJ
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 20:  Volunteers unfurl a ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeIn one word, no. The human condition seems to be predicated on conflict. A few years ago I started this blog to write about whatever came to my mind. It was mostly insignificant stuff. The last presidential election transformed this blog into a political forum for SJ and I to express our thoughts. Recently I have found it more and more difficult to write about political topics. Oh, I slip up every now and then, but I have tried to stay away from strictly political issues. I do realize that no matter what is said on this blog, it won't please all of the people, all of the time. So, just for shits and giggles, here are some random thoughts that have crossed my mind recently.

Abortion: I am pro-choice. However, we need much better sex education and family planning in order to  try and limit the number of abortions that are performed.
Guns: The right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution (even though I think the rationale in that document no longer holds much water), so therefore I support it. I do not believe that it is an absolute right and I see no reason at all for the general public to have access to automatic weapons.
Health Care: It should be a right. All citizens should have the right to, at the very least, a basic level of health care. And emergency room care is not nearly enough. 
Immigration: We should allow people to work toward citizenship if that is what they desire. Our country is made better by diversity, not worse. 
Gay Marriage: Marriage, according to the Supreme Court, is one of the "basic civil rights of man". I think that says it all. 
Gays in the military: Gays have always and continue to serve our country proudly in the various branches of the military. Our armed services have not crumbled because of it.
Size and scope of government: The government should be allowed to operate within the powers described in the Constitution. They can raise and lower taxes, regulate or deregulate industries, invade or not invade countries, etc. WE THE PEOPLE can then decide whether to continue lending those politicians our support at the ballot box.
Religion: It's not really for me, but if it provides some people with a level of comfort then I have no  issues with that. Of course when it's used like a battering ram, then I feel it's my duty to point out my exact thoughts about the less than factual basis of said religion.
DH: I happen to like the DH. Watching a pitcher hit is not exactly my idea of an interesting at-bat. 
Steroids in sports: I honestly don't care what athletes take. I've never heard someone make the argument that they aren't going to watch a movie or a concert because the performers have had plastic surgery. Entertainers do what they feel they have to do to put forth their best performance. No difference with athletes.
Music: I'm not a big fan of most of what's popular today. That is to say that I'm an old fart who thinks things were better when pop music was targeted towards him. 
Movies: I think that Lawrence of Arabia and the two Godfathers are the best movies ever made.
Food: I'm partial to Chinese.
Superheroes: I'm partial to Superman. And I personally think that Captain America would kick the shit out of Batman any day of the week.

That's all for today boys and girls. Have a great weekend.
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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

For the Love of Jebus

Some New Yorkers and others around the country are up in arms about the so called "ground zero Mosque" that is going to be built close to the former world trade centers. I find it somewhat amusing that those who are so adamant about the government staying out of their lives would now clamor for that very same government to step in to block what is essentially a private real estate matter. "Less government interference" they scream (unless it involves Muslims, of course). "Keep the government out of my church" they bellow, (unless that place of worship happens to be a mosque).

I don't remember any religious outrage when a christian blew up the federal building in Oklahoma. That's not exactly true. There were a lot of calls for retribution against Muslims until it was discovered that it was a a couple of white Christian males who carried out the attack. I don't remember a general wave of outrage and hatred against all Christians. Perhaps I'm just (to quote our former President) misremembering.

Islam is just as legitimate a religion as all the others that are based on some all knowing superman who lives in the sky and actually listens to and cares about your problems. The actions of extremists should never be taken to represent the thoughts of the whole. There are Christian extremists who feel it is their right and duty to kill doctors who perform abortions. Should all of Christianity be held accountable for their actions? There are Christian extremists who think that all non whites should leave America. Should all Christianity be held accountable for their thoughts and actions? The constitution guarantees us certain freedoms, among those are freedom of religion and speech. The mosque has a right to exist and people have a right to protest its existence. However the hypocrisy of those who would damn an entire religion over the actions of a few is shameful. There are approximately 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. I'm pretty sure most of them were not involved in the 9/11 plot, just as I'm fairly sure most of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world weren't in on the Oklahoma City bombing either.
 
I understand that people are very sensitive about the WTC site, but this mosque has nothing to do with the events that took place on 9/11. As far as I'm concerned, all religion is pretty silly, so this debate over who can worship what God seems an incredible waste of time and energy. How far away from ground zero does the mosque have to be before it's okay? 10 blocks? 20 blocks? 1,000 blocks? Just utterly ridiculous.
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