Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I Wish Republicans Had Taken the Senate

Gird yourself people. This is going to be ugly and Obama's second term hangs in the balance.

Given the results last night, I, personally, wish the Republicans had taken the Senate as well. For two years, they have been able to either block or gut any attempt to rescue our economy -- and yet the US electorate blames Obama for the state of affairs. It is the most singular expression of cynicism I have ever witnessed -- and it has worked! They caused the problem; they refuse to support any solutions, and the Democrats pay the price! It is political genius even if it is craven and power-seeking at the expense of our country. The Democrats may be better at actually governing, but the Republicans play a wicked-good game of politics.

Now flash-forward to a Republican House with Boehner in charge: They are going to pass all sorts of legislation intended to send a message to their base: Balanced budget amendment? Check. Repeal of Healthcare Reform? Check. (you get the idea)

Then when none of it makes it through the Senate they stand back -- as they have for the last two years -- and say "See? The Democrats in the Senate and White House won't let us do all those things you say you want us to do!" Since the next election -- like this one -- will hinge on the extent to which the economy recovers, all they have to do is stand there and wait for the payoff for their crimes.

I feel very dispirited. Our only hope is that our young people grow up. They voted less this year than they did in 2006! (Yes, you heard that right. Not less than 2008, when Obama won them, but less even than the last mid-term in 2006!) The increase in old-farts voting their racism and young people sitting out their disappointment was the difference in this election.

Certainly I understand their disconnect. Obama could have eliminated Don't Ask Don't Tell by simply directing his Justice Dept not to appeal. He upped the ante in Afghanistan and did (or didn't do) a lot of other things that must have taken the wind out of their sails. Welcome to our world. Our politicians never quite perform the way we want them to, yet we go into the voting booth and hold our noses and mark the ballot because we know it still makes a difference. You must too, young people!

Because the old farts aren't going to die fast enough to keep them from fucking up your future!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Unitarian Jihad

I am reprinting, without permission, a manifesto created in 2005 by Jon Carroll, a Unitarian from San Francisco, because it's just so damn good. Given to me at Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity in St. Louis.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only one God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism --14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism committee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression!

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to ... you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for "balance" by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: "Sincerity is not enough." We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it's true doesn't make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn't mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone. Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he's pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs at him when he says he's a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

From the mouths of babes and bikers

Most of what I've read about the Tea Partiers has been polarized: either the left excoriating them or the right denying their obvious racism. This is the most balanced and honest take I've read anywhere.


Is anyone surprised that the guy arrested today for threatening to kill Nancy Pelosi for her role in the passage of Healthcare Reform is a resident of public housing?

Intellectual Honesty

Are American progressives going to prove themselves to be as intellectually dishonest as the current Republican party?

Beginning with the launch of the dishonest war in Iraq, through disclosures that the Bush administration was engaged in illegal AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL eavesdropping on phone conversations and down-loading of our emails, through the criminal holding of people without any charges, and without any access to anything that could reasonably considered due process, to the adoption of techniques that have always and everywhere been considered torture, we ranted and raved about how Bush, Cheney and others were guilty of war crimes, were abrogating everything we had always understood about judicial oversight, separation of powers and a presumption of innocence, and were threatening the very bedrock of our democracy. (yes I know this is an atrocious run-on sentence but I'm pissed so there you have it.)

So what now -- that the Obama administration has continued almost every one of these policies -- with the single exception of torture? Not only continued them -- but extended them?

Just a few short months after taking office, we saw that the new "Democratic" administration had no intention of rolling back the breathtaking power grab executed by the Cheney administration. Just a few months ago, we heard a mind-blowing new assertion: That the Executive Branch -- alone -- was asserting the power to declare an American citizen to be a "terrorist" and -- therefore -- a perfectly acceptable target of assassination. And now they have done so.

Can someone explain to me why the left isn't screaming? Is it because the man has a Muslim name? Do US citizens only have rights if they are Christian, white and don't have funny sounding names?

This is not to defend the behavior of this individual, who clearly appears to be supporting violence against the country of his birth. But so did Timothy McVeigh. So do many right-wing militia members in this country. Do we really believe it's ok for the President -- and the President alone -- to simply declare someone a terrorist and therefore outside the entire US judicial system?

Whatever other good he may do, Obama cannot be allowed to continue on the path of the Bush/Cheney administration in this regard. It doesn't matter that I like him, and it doesn't matter if I or you trust him to use this expanded power only in ways I or you may situationally agree with. We are either a country bound by its Constitution and by law or we are not. And as progressives, we are either intellectually honest enough to call out those we have supported when they do exactly the same things done by those we opposed (and now worse) or we are as ethically and intellectually bankrupt as the other side.