Log inskip to content

Archive for the 'Political Ideology' Category

What Will You Say – Before They Come For You?

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Don\'t Be a Sucker

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

The Incendiary Rhetoric of the GOP

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

As a regular reader and active participant over at Huffington Post, I have become increasingly concerned about the dangerous and hateful rhetoric that has been coming from the far right and conservative media pundits.  My fear is that - as Nancy Pelosi recently warned - such discourse could spill over into violence.

It might already be happening.  Recently, ultra-conservative nut job (I honestly could not think of - or bear to give her - a more tactful moniker) Republican Michele Bachmann, a Congresswoman and former Minnesota Senator, went on another of her infamous warpaths; this time taking on the U.S. Census, which will be sent out to households across America in 2010.

First, however, a little background.  Congresswoman Bachmann became a household name when, in October 2008, she accused then Presidential nominee, Barack Obama, of being "anti-American" (and later denying she had done so, even though her original statements were from a live video-taped interview for Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC).  She went on to suggest that the entire Congress should be investigated to find out who was "pro-American" and who was "anti-American".

Pertinent to that interview, was Matthews's later discussion on the show with co-editor of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, who stated:

"I think what we just heard was a Congresswoman channeling Joe McCarthy... There is an... extremism unleashed in this nation which you just heard on this program, which could lead to violence, and hatred, and toxicity, and against the backdrop of the great depression we're living through...could lead, and I don't use this word lightly, to a kind of American fascism which is against the great values of this nation and which people like that are fomenting."

Vanden Huevel's quote would prove, as we will soon see, to be prophetic.

Later, the radical Congresswoman went on WWTC 1280 AM radio on March 21, 2009 inciting her Minnesota constituents to be "armed and dangerous" when it came to a proposed energy tax because, as she put it, "we need to fight back" while also reminding listeners that "having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

On June 17, 2009, Bachmann gave an interview to The Washington Times wherein she expressed her concerns about the 2010 U.S. Census and indicated she will fill out - if anything - only the number of people in her household on her census form.  She discussed her fears that the information given would be "abused" and used as collection-collecting by ACORN, and went on to say that the current census "asks too many questions" and that those questions were "very intricate, very personal".  In a June 25 interview with Glenn Beck on The Glenn Beck Show, she went even further, stating:

"Here's the other thing that will happen.  From history, the United States government, between 1942 to 1947 passed the 2nd War Powers Act.  They used the U.S. Census information to round up the Japanese and put them in the internment camps.  Americans were told that they wouldn't have their information used against them; they did."

Then, on August 31, at an Independent Institute fundraiser in Denver, Colorado she told a cheering crowd that health care reform had the ability to "destroy this country forever".  She then instructed the crowd to ban together against reform with these choice words:

"What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass."

In light of the current atmosphere in and around Washington, scaring the ignorant masses is in no one's best interest these days, but Bachmann seems all too eager to be playing that dangerous game.  Insinuating that the census will be used to "round up Americans" like was done to the Japanese during WWII is nothing if not incendiary, and it feeds fuel to the fire that is the growing discontent and fear of change among certain members of the American public.  The same ones that have caused ammunition sales to go through the roof - because they believe (though there is nothing to base it on) that Obama is going to take away their right to bear arms.

From the "birthers" - individuals from the American pubic right up to high-ranking politicians who insist that Barack Obama's claim to the presidency is false because they believe he is not a natural-born citizen - to the constant insinuations that Obama is an America-hating Nazi Marxist trying to destroy the country and rebuild it into a socialist nightmare, all before he, then, takes over the entire world and establishes the New World Order, there is a visceral backlash against anything Obama says or proposes.  He has been called everything from the Anti-Christ to Hitler (a snub dropped often by Rush Limbaugh) and though negativity and criticism are nothing new for any President, the vitriol that is constantly being thrown at President Obama is unequivocally unprecedented.

Some of it is grounded in racism, but also, a great deal of it is based on the fear of change.  Playing to the base fear and ignorance of a large population of the United States, these elected officials and media pundits - many of whom have stated they hope to see Obama's presidency "fail", regardless of what that might mean for the citizens of America - are quick to use people's prejudices to rally them to their causes and in their crusade to destroy President Obama at all costs.  Unfortunately, they don't have to push too hard for many Americans to get riled up wherein Obama is concerned.

The root of much of this bigotry is the fear of the ominous "they"; the "others" who are not like us - be that difference in skin color, culture, religious affiliation, what have you.  This idea that our country belongs to one set group or adheres to a particular set of ideals that is being deviated from and must be returned to is simply ignorant, vile, and undemocratic.  When they talk about "our country", they seem to forget that America does not belong to the white man exclusively. It is a melting pot - it always has been - and if certain groups are gaining a stronger foothold in government or high positions, it is no more than natural progression. No one is going to, or can, "take over our country" for the simple fact that it is our country just as it stands; a vast conglomeration of different races, religions, and creeds. Believing that the country belongs to one group - race or religion or any other tribe - is simply skewed thinking.  And it is dangerous.

Yet "taking our country back" is a popular theme, as proven by the recent How To Take Back America Conference in St. Louis on September 21.  It was there that Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona's 2nd District, threw out this gem:

"Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries.  Now, I got to tell you, if a president will do that, there's almost nothing that you should be surprised at after that. We shouldn't be shocked that he does all these other insane things. A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity."

What is sad is that this kind of rhetoric is becoming commonplace.

Freedom of speech allows morons like this senator to express his ignorant and blatantly presumptuous ideas, but how far can someone go when not only insulting the President of the United States, but portraying him as an enemy of certain values and of humanity itself? Such histrionics are dangerous in that they give people already afraid of the obvious differences in this President from all that came before him an excuse to act on violent tendencies.

Speaking of which, we return to Michele Bachmann.  In early September, a part-time census worker, William Sparkman, was found dead near a rural cemetery in Clay County, Kentucky.  Displayed to look as if he had been hung (though his body was in contact with the ground) and said to have died of asphyxiation, the 51 year-old substitute teacher had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest.  Though his death has been ruled yet neither suicide or homicide, the FBI have been called in on the possibility that Sparkman was killed because of his census-taking work.

The natural inclination was that Sparkman was killed, and "fed" written on his body, in protest over the census.  Not such a far jump, when you remember the words of Congresswoman Bachmann.  Though she did not tell people to be "armed and dangerous" over the census itself, it can be argued that she has incited fear and anger in those already fearful and angry that the federal government, presided over by President Obama, is out to take over their country, destroy their freedoms, etc..  Bachmann has accused the President of creating indoctrination camps to "re-educate youth" to work for the government and compelled people to "rise up" over the supposed tyrannical rule of our President.  She has even accused the Presidency of "reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom".

William Sparkman may or may not have been killed because some ignorant bigot was riled up or inspired by the powerfully dangerous rhetoric of Michele Bachmann or those in her hate and fear-mongering camp.  The point, however, is that whether Sparkman is the first, he most assuredly will not be the last.  Assassination concerns, those actively looked into by the Secret Service, are at an all-time high.  Recently, a Facebook poll titled "Should Obama Be Killed?" was removed from the site.  The incendiary and dangerous rhetoric of the GOP and conservative media pundits is not completely to blame, but they certainly are guilty of fanning the flames.

People like Michele Bachmann (such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Trent Franks, etc.) spreading this hateful rhetoric and these dangerous words incite those that are already unhinged and scared of "losing their country". Telling people to be armed and dangerous is not idle wordplay. They either do not realize (or do not care) that words have extreme power - or perhaps, even more terribly, they know that they do.

Words can heal and hurt, build-up and destroy. They can change a person's life or take it down a dark path. Words are not random, jumbled letters with no meaning or merit; every day people take to heart what they read and hear and decide whether or not to act on it.  These individuals are quick to speak out rashly, then step back - surprised - when people act on the words they have spoken. They want to remain blameless, but, the fact is, they are anything but. Anyone who has a public office or a place to speak out to others should be careful of what they say and how they say it. The reckless speeches by these ignorant, vile people have caused violence to be committed and this will continue to happen as long as we allow them that platform. The power of words to incite tangible action is either being ignored by these politicians, or being exploited for that very purpose. Either way, it is time to start holding them accountable.

Sarah Palin Sues…Everyone?

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Not much surprises me in the way of headlines wherein Sarah Palin is concerned.  Nearly as soon as I am convinced she can do not a thing more to proudly tout her ignorance or further prove her seeming insanity, she shows up on the scene to, yet again, raise the bar.

The latest - following her oddly timed and highly speculative announcement that she was abandoning her position as governor of Alaska - is more of what we have all come to expect from Sarah:  another self-mutilating nail in the coffin of her oft-tortured political career; a career that might have remained viable had the plucky, small town-minded former beauty queen held rank with her moose-eating peers rather than aspiring to a national platform that she was wholly incapable of maintaining.

Indeed, Sarah's latest reality-television-like tantrum is either another ruse in the litany of inane hogwash that she dreams up in some deranged, public relations disaster to keep her in the public eye, or - as is to be always feared - she is actually serious.  Both prospects are equally disturbing.

In summation, Sarah Palin intends to have her lawyers sue any and all media outlets (and a few Alaskan bloggers) for "defamatory" content that was printed about her after declaring she was quitting as Alaska's governor.

Sarah should have expected that the media, and bloggers, were going to question her sudden, seemingly rash and imprudent resignation.  It is simply a natural reaction, not a strategic and diabolical coup against her personally.

I say this because it appears Sarah is convinced that all of this is a personal attack rather than mere media speculation, and she is not alone in her paranoid delusions; apparently her lawyers and sycophant pals, such as Greta Van Susteren, believe the same as that is what they are blathering all over the internet.  (Personally, I would take anything Greta "believes" with a whopping gallop of salt as she also "believes" in thetans and e-meters; she and her husband are devout Scientologists.)

Public figures must anticipate negative reviews and harsh opinions; elected, government officials even moreso.  It is part of the career they have chosen to follow.  Our founding fathers knew our governing officials should be made accountable and held up to scrutiny.   They may not have always been fans of the media, but they realized it was a necessary evil.  Thomas Jefferson was once quoted as saying:

"No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defense."
- Thomas Jefferson

When an elected official up and quits such a prestigious position so very suddenly, naturally the media (and the entire country) is going to speculate.  This speculation will, no doubt, lead to some investigative reporting and speculative commentary which - whether true or not - falls under the category of "free speech".

Sarah Palin, Greta Van Susteren, and their gaggle of over-zealous lawyers need to cool their heels.  What is happening is a natural reaction to the very public choice that Palin has made and the way she went about presenting it.  That is all.  The very idea of suing any and everyone who has ever said a bad word about her is bordering on narcissistic lunacy.

It is simply another very bad decision from the Palin camp - a troupe run by a woman that has proven herself to be an egotistical, culturally ignorant, soccer mom who really needs to crawl back to her icy kingdom and out of the national arena.  If McCain's vetters had had half a brain cell, they would have left this woman the hell alone and to her good 'ole boy politics where she could do much less damage.  The idea that this woman was once an old man's heartbeat away from being the leader of this country still gives me chills, and the very idea that Republicans might consider her as their candidate for a 2012 election run is nothing short of terrifying.

It would appear that Republicans venerate some fairly terrifying characters these days.  Speaking of which, perhaps Sarah should ring Bill O'Reilly, who often finds himself in the same delusional boat.  Disagreeing with Bill, or even being so bold as to be critical of him in any fashion, means, unequivocally, that you are out to get him:

"[T]hey are going to do anything and everything to destroy me, or try to. And it’s a war. It is a war."
- Bill O'Reilly

Bill and Sarah could discuss tactics and battle plans for dealing with the hostile media, who are - obviously - attempting to take them down by speculating on their actions,  being critical of their judgments, and not agreeing with everything they say.  In fact, Bill already has a plan; Sarah just needs to jump on board:

"[T]here is a huge problem in this country and I’m going to attack that problem. I’m going to attack it. These people aren’t getting away with this. I’m going to go right where they live. Every corrupt media person in this country is on notice, right now. I’m coming after you…I’m going to hunt you down [...] if I could strangle these people and not go to hell and get executed…I would."
- Bill O'Reilly

It's comforting to know that, unlike Sarah, Bill has not yet decided to attack bloggers.  For the time being, I am safe.  However, as I have now blogged my thoughts on Sarah Palin and her decidedly strange actions in the last week, I anxiously await contact from Sarah Palin's lawyers wanting to sue me for having a voice and opinon and being audacious enough to use it.

Proud to Be an American

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

For the first time - in a very long time - I can say that I am proud to be an American.

The election of Barack Obama gives me so much hope for this country; it even restores my faith in humanity a bit.  Let's hope the positive changes continue and that - together - we can all get ourselves out of the messes our country (and the world) are presently in.

Hopefully Voting

Sunday, October 12th, 2008

In all the muck & mud thrown about during election time - even between voters to each other - its good to remember why we do this and why we all care so much. At the very heart of it, we are each just individual Americans wanting to make our country better. Take time to read this piece and remember why we are proud to be American...

read more | digg story

Justice Prevails in Baton Rouge – For Once

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

I honestly didn't expect ultra-conservative Baton Rouge to vote out the no-liquor-Sunday blue law this past weekend. I hoped - but I didn't hold very high expectations.

I'd like to believe that our voters finally opened their eyes to the relevance of the separation of church and state in a democratic and free nation. Most likely, though, the "yes" vote comes from the considerable influx of the more liberal and open-minded New Orleanians now living in the capital city since Katrina.

Whatever the reason, it is something to celebrate - a landmark in the otherwise right-wing, unprogressive, overtly pious city in which I reside.

There was no valid reason - other than a Christian one - for not allowing the sale of liquor and wine on Sundays. In fact, city groceries and convenience store owners, due to the massive amount of revenue they were losing, convinced the city council years ago to allow the selling of beer after 12:00 noon. Restaurants, as well, were allowed to sell liquor (of any kind) after 11am and with meals.

It is obvious, then, that the refusal to sell hard liquor and wine was not intended to curb drinking or limit drunken drivers on the roads - had this been the case, all liquor in all places would have been off limits for purchase. Instead, the limited prohibition on liquor sales was, pure and simple, a blue law - one, in this case, created by Christians in an attempt to force everyone to acknowledge their sacred day of rest.

Such secular-based laws are completely unconstitutional - forcing everyone, regardless of their beliefs, to adhere to one particular religion's practices goes against the very notion of a "free" country. Freedom of religion does not just mean that you are free to worship as you please - it also infers that you are free to exist without another's religious views being forced upon you.

The majority of Baton Rougers agree - 61% of the city chose to nix the law, and it now goes on to the Metro Council for a final vote. Since voters also decided to give the Metro Council members a raise, one can only hope they'll listen to the will of the people and finally remove this arbitrary "law" from the books.

Justice does sometimes prevail - even in a generally unjust region.

Ready for Hurricane Season 2006? Sorry, If We Think You’re Full of Shit

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

Big wigs in Washington are claiming they are "prepared" this hurricane season, which we down here are full aware starts next week. Whether they are or aren't remains to be seen, but if they're counting on anyone along the Southern U.S. coast to trust them they've got another think coming. In other words, we'll believe it when we see it.
The article:

White House Says It's Ready for Hurricanes
By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 23, 8:35 PM ET

Touting stronger radio systems and enough food, water and ice to last a week for 1 million people, the Bush administration sought Tuesday to prove it is better prepared for the brewing hurricane season than it was last year.

In a calculated contrast to the federal government's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina last August, top officials from the Homeland Security Department and Pentagon rolled out plans and ticked off amounts of stockpiled supplies headed for storm zones in the Southeast. At one point, acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison said his agency last year "didn't have a clue" on whereabouts of relief aid being rushed to victims.

Emergency responders in some Gulf and Atlantic coast states recently expressed doubt that Washington will be ready to help them if faced with another storm the size of Katrina, one of the nation's worst national disasters.

"Our feedback from the states is mixed," said Karen Cobuluis, spokeswoman for the National Emergency Management Association, which represents state emergency directors. "Overall, it appears the federal government is going to meet their goals, and we'll have to take them at their word. If they meet those goals they'll be more prepared for the next disaster."

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said state and local emergency responders also need to be ready for what forecasters predict will be another tumultuous storm season when it begins next week.

"Experience shows that even with the best of planning, we're going to face some unprecedented challenges and unforeseen events," Chertoff told reporters. "But if we begin with a good plan, and we have a good plan, we will be in a far better position to coordinate our assistance this year with state and local governments, and get help to people who need that help the most."

The officials said they will meet all 11 top-priority reforms ordered by the White House in February to strengthen federal disaster preparations by June 1. They include systems to track supplies, aid victims with food, water, and shelter, and deliver quick information to all levels of government during a disaster.

The Pentagon is also gearing up to help, as ordered by the White House, with 367,000 National Guardsmen available to respond to domestic disasters like a hurricane. Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said those troops do not include 71,000 Guardsmen deployed overseas or up to 6,000 who are supporting a crackdown on illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border.

No, the ineptitude and devastation is still a little too fresh on our minds for any of us to feel at ease about anyone in government helping out those touched by a hurricane. Sorry.

I read another article yesterday that said the lesson learned from Katrina was "trust no one at anytime". Sad, but so very true.

At the same time that our Washington-big-wigs were on TV bemoaning the fact that they "couldn't get to" those that needed help, I knew people every damn day that were making there way down to New Orleans and the surrounding areas in trucks and boats to help rescue survivors and bring supplies. Explain that to me, someone, please.

While government at all branches was running around wringing its hands in confusion and disarray, the people of Louisiana and Mississippi were helping one another; doing what needed to be done. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it - no way of looking at it in another light - our government failed us. When catastrophe and disaster hit home, our government stood by blinking and wondering how they should proceed; thousands died because of it.

So excuse us if we have a hard time putting faith in you to do the right thing this time around.

In all honesty, though, I hope they prove me wrong.