Standing Tall

It would appear the minions have their marching orders. This morning on Air America, Stacy Taylor was filling in for Lionel and he said there had been these “stealth calls” at the beginning of most Air America shows, before the host had even set the agenda for the show, where someone would want to talk about Barak Obama’s patriotism (or lack of it).

Yesterday on the Randi Rhodes show, Sam Seder was filling in, and right at the beginning of the show he took a call from an older woman who complained that Americans should be careful about voting for Obama because he was working with Al Qaeda. She cited the traditional reasons — Obama not putting his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem, Obama not wearing a “flag lapel pin,” and most of all, the picture of Obama in traditional Somali tribal garb during a visit to Kenya. The caller referred to this as “Muslim dress.”

The woman was pretty incredulous, and tried to constantly talk over Sam, who reminded her that it is the pledge of allegiance where you’re supposed to put your hand over your heart, not the Star Spangled Banner. He also noted that the origin of wearing the American flag lapel pin was during the Watergate hearings, when people in the Nixon administration, testifying on his behalf, wore such pins, with the end result being that those who were essentially condoning criminal activity were wearing these pins in an attempt to look “honorable” and “patriotic.”

He then pointed out something very eloquently — something that isn’t said nearly enough these days, and something which I will attempt to state perhaps less eloquently here.

Of course we know that the measure of an American’s patriotism or love for this country is not found in how many patriotic bumper stickers he or she puts on the car, or how many American flags they display. That’s the easy thing to do. The tough thing is to stand up and fight when the laws we have set forth for ourselves — as Americans — for freedom, justice, etc. are challenged. It is the belief in these laws and guidelines that make us Americans. It’s not the symbol, it’s the belief.

So why is it that when people are against warrantless wiretapping, they are called enemies of this country? They must want the terrorists to win, right? Why is it when people complain about the repeal of Habeas Corpus, and are outraged by the fact our very own former Chief Justice said that Habeas Corpus is not a right given under the Constitution for even US Citizens, they are siding with the people who hate this country? Why is it when people speak out against the CIA’s secret detention areas or when people speak out against torture methods like waterboarding, they are siding with the terrorists?

How did it come to be this way, and how is it that we, as liberals who love this country, have allowed certain truly unpatriotic organizations and people who have no respect for the laws on which this country was founded, to define us as enemies of the state, as unpatriotic, as siding with the terrorists?

Why aren’t we being more offensive about this?

And instead of Obama and Clinton going along with the mindless questions that Brian Williams and Tim Russert ask them, why don’t they take the time to say how ridiculous it is that we have to even give any airtime to what should be a quick dismissal of questions of patriotism?

RUSSERT: “Senator Obama — I heard Louis Farrakhan supports you. Does that mean you’re a jew-hating bastard?”

OBAMA: “Why yes, Tim. I hate jews, I hate Israel. I thought I had made that very clear.”

You’ll notice that neither one of the MSNBC “hosts” has ever asked John McCain about his courting of John Hagee’s endorsement. Nor will they probably ask him about his comments that he was “very pleased to have the endorsement of pastor John Hagee.” So who is John Hagee? If you haven’t heard of him, he’s the bigoted “Christian” wackjob that just wants to attack Iran to bring about the return of Jesus Christ, and who said Hurricane Katrina was god’s punishment on a sinful New Orleans. Just as an aside, I always wonder why, if god is still in the smiting business, why he doesn’t level some sin haven like Ibiza, or the Netherlands (don’t they have legal drugs and prostitution there)? Seems like there are much more decadent places to destroy, but I digress.

Oh yeah, and not only is John Hagee trying to bring about the end of the world, he’s also apparently pretty upset with Catholicism. Something about how it’s ‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.’” (for actual video of Hagee talking about the evils of the Catholic Empire, click here)

In fact, Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League has been making the talk show and blogosphere rounds denouncing Hagee for his hateful rhetoric, and McCain for saying he was “pleased” to be endorsed by this guy. The Catholic League also put out a statement condemning McCain for honoring Hagee with the title, “the staunchest leader of our Christian evangelical movement.” [emphasis mine]

So let’s see what’s worse, and which is more worthy of a simple question, say, on Sunday morning, when John McCain takes his weekly seat on Meet The Press — the fact that Louis Farrakhan endorsed Barak Obama, even though Obama did not court the minister and renounced on the air whatever he needed to renounce according to Russert and Williams, or the fact that one John McCain actively courted an anti-Catholic wackball who wants to hurry the rapture along by bombing Iran? And when the guy finally DOES endorse McCain, McCain announced he’s “pleased” with the endorsement! (for video of John McCain saying he was pleased with Hagee’s endorsement, click here)

You’d think Russert would be first in line to ask John a few questions about that, eh? Nope. Instead, we get more hypotheticals that have nothing to do with reality from Mr. Russert: “Senator Clinton — when we leave Iraq and everything goes south, will you go back in?”

CLINTON: “Wait a minute, Tim, that’s a hypotheti–”

RUSSERT: “No, it’s a fact, Mrs. Clinton.”

Oh it’s a FACT? Why don’t we talk about what would happen if little green men came down and invaded Providence, Rhode Island? What would Senator Clinton do then??

When are they going to stop answering such stupid questions, particularly when these mindless hosts seem intent on giving Republicans a free ride when it comes to things like this at the same time they try to nail Democrats to the wall on them?

I think America is waiting for Obama or Clinton to say, “Look — we can sit here an talk about who is more patriotic because they have more pins, or because they have more bumper stickers on their car, or we can get back to re-establishing the laws upon which this country was founded and we can start behaving like Americans again instead of scared, vengeful little people who aren’t asked to do anything except go out and buy shit.”

It’s time we start putting these people in their place and stop catering to them. It’s time we put a stop to all this chatter, all this bullshit, and start restoring this country to its former glory. Let’s make it known to the world that change is coming, that we had a brief identity crisis, and that we’re going to start righting our ship and try to hold ourselves to the standard that our founders believed we could hold ourselves to, in spite of what adversities we may face as a nation.

The late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in 1972, “The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis … This is a country which stands tallest in troubled times, a country that clings to fundamental principles, cherishes its constitutional heritage, and rejects simple solutions that compromise the values that lie at the roots of our democratic system.”

Bush’s answer to this? “After the chaos and carnage of September 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers.”

We need a leader who is not going to appeal to the basest of human nature, or who will be flippant with our long-held, cherished ideals.

It’s time we started standing tall once again.

Nader Will Not Be Deterred

So today on Meet The Press, one Ralph Nader said, “I have decided to run for president.” The question is, will anyone vote for him this time around? Can any of the liberals who voted for him in 2000 now look back on their vote with pride, knowing what it has cost the United States, knowing what it has ultimately cost Iraq, knowing what that vote has ultimately cost the world? I have long believed that 9/11 would not have happened under a Gore presidency, if only for the fact that the Clinton administration was already paying attention to Osama Bin Laden — something the Bush administration decided it would not do, if only because Bush wanted to do the opposite of anything anyone associated with Clinton was suggesting. Besides, Rumsfeld was too busy restarting the Strategic Defense Initiative to be worried about small-time stuff like domestic terrorism.

But I digress…

So here we are eight years later, and Nader decides he’s going to run for president again. I have to ask myself, just what does Nader think he will accomplish this time around, other than once again to siphon votes away from either Obama or Clinton? Nader said today he will ‘not be deterred’ in his run for the White House. Why not? It would seem to me if he wanted to make his point — that the Democrats and Republicans are in the pocket of big business (hello, of course they are — what do you think you can do about it?) — he would’ve run for president, and then dropped out at the last minute so that he wouldn’t be handing the election to the one party that is SO MUCH MORE in the pocket of big business?

If you think about it, that’s exactly what he did through his utter selfishness in 2000. When else in American history have we seen so much stealing by corporations from the treasury? Have we ever seen the kind of money pouring out of government into the private sector — mostly to defense contractors and private security firms — that we are currently seeing? It would seem that Nader’s 2000 run did exactly the OPPOSITE of what he had hoped it would. Is he such a forward-thinking revolutionary that he could predict that this would happen, and therefore prompt the American public to really see (gotta be careful with that word really) just how much corporations are stealing and thus get everyone so riled up that they would do something about it? Was that his plan? If it was, perhaps he didn’t account for the fact that the resulting debt spending and recession would make it impossible for the ordinary citizen to think about anything else other than trying to keep his job, save his house, and put food on his family. Things would have to get really really terrible before oppressed citizens would rise up against the corporations. Hell, if $4 per gallon fuel won’t do it, what will? $4 per gallon fuel when the fuel companies are raking in record profits? Nope.

So just what does Nader hope to accomplish this time around? Especially when he states he will not be deterred? For one thing, we liberals should have no false hope that he will drop out at the last minute. We also know that he is likely to siphon off votes from the only possible party that might possibly agree with him on some issues. So what is the point? Why is he running? My guess is that he’s just insane. Totally insane. He’s a giant train wreck of ego, selfishness, and ignorance that Tim Russert had to let everyone get a nice close look at.

“I am announcing I am running for president.” Well good for you, you fucking asswipe. I hope you lose millions, I hope you lose everything you have in the world, because you are an unindicted co-conspirator in the 9/11 attack. You are at least partially responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and the refugee status of hundreds of thousands (and possibly millions) more. You are responsible for the deaths of 7000 Americans — 3000 in the 9/11 attacks, and 4000 in Iraq and Afghanistan. You. Ralph Nader. Consumer advocate. Total asshole. If I saw you today, I would spit in your face, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

Selfish bastard.

Political Snacks

Recession??  What Recession?:  The New York Times has reported that the current administration has chosen to adopt the same ostrich strategy with respect to the economy that worked so effectively for the president’s father during his re-election campaign in ’92:  “The White House predicted on Monday that the economy would escape a recession and that unemployment would remain low this year, though it acknowledged that growth had already slowed.  ‘I don’t think we are in a recession right now, and we are not forecasting a recession,’ said Edward P. Lazear, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.”

I’m reminded of his dad’s comments during the Republican National Convention when trying to win re-election:

“My opponent says America is a nation in decline. Of our economy, he says we are somewhere on the list beneath Germany, heading south toward Sri Lanka. Well, don’t let anyone tell you that America is second-rate, especially somebody running for President.  Maybe he hasn’t heard that we are still the world’s largest economy. …He won’t remind you that interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in 20 years, and millions of Americans have refinanced their homes. You just won’t hear that inflation, the thief of the middle class, has been locked in a maximum security prison.  You don’t hear much about this good news because the media also tends to focus only on the bad.”

For McCain to win, he’ll need to distance himself from this kind of nonsense, and the current president isn’t going to make it easy for him, worried as he’ll be about his political legacy.

*   Dems Have No Balls:  I am so sick and tired of what is supposed to be a Democratic majority in Congress rolling over for Bush’s bullshit.  Yeah, better to spend their time on the critical baseball scandal than protecting our civil liberties.  The NYT today reported:  “After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate handed the White House a major victory on Tuesday by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers …. One by one, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve legislation that the White House had been pushing for months. Mr. Bush hailed the vote and urged the House to move quickly in following the Senate’s lead….Among the presidential contenders, …the two Democrats, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, did not vote.  Mr. Obama did oppose immunity on a key earlier motion to end debate. Mrs. Clinton, campaigning in Texas, issued a statement saying she would have voted to oppose the final measure.”  There are some things worth coming off the campaign trail to deal with.  Very disappointing that the Dem candidates didn’t bother to do so.

Joe Lieberman is Human Waste:  As if we needed any more evidence of the foregoing truism, Lieberman has endorsed and will work for McCain.  One of the primary reasons why?  Because Obama and Clinton are soft on the “war on terror”:  “We’ve got those terrorists and killers on the run right now,” he said. “They would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”  Yeah, we sure have the terrorists on the run, having completely ceded huge tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan to bin Laden, where the Taliban grow stronger every day, and put our entire military might into a country that poses no threat to us.  We don’t need the vote of someone like Joe Lieberman.  He should not be allowed to caucus with the Democrats and the Dems should strip him of his committee posts.  Sadly, Harry Reid has already said that there will be no such retribution for Lieberman’s disgraceful actions.

Translation from Romney-Speak to English of Selected Portions of His Concession Speech

Romney’s concession speech was a tour de force of bogus, right wing-nut posturing on issues that don’t matter (gay marriage) or issues about which 90% of Americans disagree with the Bush administration (the war). Below are some of the highlights, followed by translations:

11 states have given me their nod, compared to his 13. Of course, because size does matter, he’s doing quite a bit better with his number of delegates.

Translation: I didn’t win the nomination, but I have a huge cock.

Conservative principles are needed now more than ever.

Translation: I have to keep spouting this bullshit line that I’m a true conservative in order to convince McCain that I balance the ticket better than Luckabee. Of course, should I decide to run again for an elected position in Mass., then I’ll go back to being a moderate.

We must rise to the occasion, as we have always done before, to confront the challenges ahead. Perhaps the most fundamental of these is the attack on the American culture.

Translation: My candidacy is in trouble and I have nothing to offer on issues of actual importance to hard-working Americans, so….time to bash Hollywood and the queers! (A redundant phrase.)

The threat to our culture comes from within.

Translation: Hollywood and the queers. (And maybe the Jews, too. What the hell, they’re generally up to no good.)

The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever.

Translation: Clinton’s welfare reform worked like a charm, but who’s gonna check this and see that I’m totally full of shit? Pounding on “welfare mothers” is always good for a few votes in Kansas. And those poor, working class folks who don’t make enough to pay income taxes? Fuck ‘em. Why can’t they all just get jobs doing LBOs for Bain Capital??

The attack on faith and religion is no less relentless. And tolerance for pornography-even celebration of it-and sexual promiscuity, combined with the twisted incentives of government welfare programs have led to today’s grim realities: 68% of African American children are born out-of-wedlock, 45% of Hispanic children, and 25% of White children.

Translation: Dogs and cats, living in sin…. [Eds. Note: How does pornography lead to more children being born out of wedlock? If guys are busy tossing their seed to a classic Amber Lynn flick, wouldn’t that *decrease* pregnancies?]

It is time for the people of America to fortify marriage through constitutional amendment, so that liberal judges cannot continue to attack it!

Translation: The queers are never going to vote for a Republican, so no harm in bashing them a bit for good measure.

And we are not dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family values, and morality, and culture.

Translation: Of course, no one is actually snickering at people of faith in this country, but it never hurts to try to make these folks paranoid.

And our economy is also burdened by the inexorable ramping of government spending. Don’t focus on the pork alone-even though it is indeed irritating and shameful. Look at the entitlements. They make up 60% of federal spending today. By the end of the next President’s second term, they will total 70%.

Translation: It’s not the billions that we’ve thrown down a rat hole in Iraq that’s led to deficit spending, it’s all of those lay-about welfare mothers, using their food stamps to buy pornos!

It’s high time to lower taxes, including corporate taxes, to take a weed-whacker to government regulations, to reform entitlements, and to stand up to the increasingly voracious appetite of the unions in our government!

Translation: More tax breaks for the rich! I gotta recoup the $35 million of my own money that I wasted on this friggin’ election. [Eds. Note: …heh heh…he said ‘whack’…heh heh…]

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

Translation: Iraq is Al Qaeda! Iraq is Osama! Obama is Osama! I appreciate that our troops are several clicks too far south to actually find Osama, but it’s ok because Iraq is Al Qaeda! Keep repeating that mantra like and it will become the truth!

About The Haters…

It has been my extreme pleasure to listen to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin this week here in New York on right-wing hate station 770WABC. Especially today, these three blowhards were pleading with their listeners to NOT vote for McCain!

For years now I’ve been listening (for ten minutes here, ten minutes there) to Limbaugh complain about how in some states — like New Hampshire — independents and Democrats are allowed to vote in Republican primaries, thus helping to determine who the party’s candidate will be. This year, Iowa and New Hampshire went AGAINST the blowhards’ desired candidate, Mitt Romney. So what happened when the GOP primaries were locked out to Independents and Democrats? Hmmm… McCain yet again! Gee, Rush… Gee, Hannity… Gee, Mark… What happened? What happened to your influence? All those claimed listeners not voting for Romney? Your annointed one? What happened?

Limbaugh has been riding McCain so hard that it prompted none other than Bob Dole to send a public letter to him stating that he should ease up on the relentless attacks. Limbaugh responded, of course, that the McCain camp was “using” Bob Dole and convinced him to write the letter for McCain.

Then around 3pm, Hannity came on and started pleading with his listeners to not fall for the fact that Huckabee and McCain were in it together to defeat Romney, that McCain had promised something to Huckabee should McCain win the nomination. I’m sitting here watching the CNN results at around 9pm and I can now reveal that Hannity trying to describe some nuanced scenario just didn’t work for his listeners, because McCain is already projected to win quite a few states, and Huckabee looks to have done very well in the more religious zones of the country.

All this time Hannity has been trying to convince his audience based on fear and now when he tries to explain something that’s happening behind the scenes (something which happens all the time behind the scenes in these races) in intellectual terms, there’s a big communication gap.

Then when I was driving home, I tuned into Levin for a few minutes. He really is, as Alec Baldwin once called him, “Hannity’s butt-boy.” Just amazing how the exact same talking points are echoed in Levin’s desperate crying spells over the airwaves. He continues to call Huckabee “Hucka-phony” and McCain, “McLame.” You’re SO CLEVER, Mark! He screams into the microphone, trying to convince everyone that “Huckabee and McCain HATE real republicans! They got Bob Dole to write a letter supporting McCain! They hate the Limbaughs, the Hannitys, the Levins, and therefore they hate YOU — my listeners! They think you’re stupid!”

Oh man, you just gotta love it. These guys are losing it bigtime, and it’s great to hear it on the radio — the absolute desperation. As the returns come in, and McCain and Huckabee trounce Romney in state after state, Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin, and all the other haters will finally have to admit that they’re completely out of touch with the rest of the nation. They’ve bought their own hype for way too long, and the severe ratings drop of Faux News, and the failure of the Fox Business Channel is just more proof that the right-wing media’s influence isn’t 10 percent of what they’d like to believe it is.

I blame the mainstream press as much as they do, but for different reasons. Personally, I’m sick of hearing about the “straight talk express” and how much “integrity” McCain has. This guy has very long history of flip-flopping. Yet Al Gore is the one who’ll say anything to get elected. John Kerry is the one who changes position on every issue. Yeah, right. Sure.

I’m hoping that the rejection of Mitt Romney against the hopes and wishes of Faux News and all the right-wing haters means something more than just the mainstream press succeeding in its attempts to label McCain as a man of honor and integrity. I guess only time will tell.