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A Critique Of The New York Times “Secret Kill List” Article

President Barack Obama meets with U.S. intelligence community officials in the Cabinet Room of the White House, April 17, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The long and detailed New York Times piece entitled “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will” is causing a lot of stir on the left and the right.

As I was reading it, I didn’t have a hard time imaging what the reaction from some on the left would be. The person that always comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, whose sentences almost always include “a noun, a verb and drones”.

As a liberal, I have a lot of problems with our country’s use of force, whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration. I do, however, trust Democrats much more than Republicans when it comes to executing our foreign policy. And yes, I wish that Democrats were less militaristic, and I let them know that whenever I get a chance. I fill out their surveys and I write letters to Democratic leaders telling them so. I also protest new military actions when it looks like we are heading towards a war. But I’m still going to vote for Democrats, because I really don’t want Teapublicans getting their hands on our vast, powerful military again. We’re still cleaning up the mess left by the last group of Republican bullies.

In my advancing years, I’ve come to realize that all presidents are tasked with the thankless job of protecting America from those who want to do us harm. It’s incredibly easy for us keyboard warriors to opine about what the government should do, but we aren’t reading those daily briefings and aren’t privy to the intelligence that career officers are gathering. Because of that, I no longer have a knee-jerk reaction to all the actions our government takes when it comes to military action.

Can You Keep A Secret?

The title of the piece in the New York Times points to the first issue I will discuss in this post, the idea that the “kill list” is “secret”. Of course it’s secret, it’s based on sensitive intelligence that any person who is intellectually honest, knows hasto remain secret. If a person is so mired in ideology that they don’t appreciate the role of keeping sensitive intelligence secret, well then the conversation

is pretty much over at that point. I’m amazed at how many people think our foreign policy and intelligence should be an open book, as if our enemies reading it is no big deal. Often, it seems like some people don’t think we have enemies or they appear to be siding with our enemies by defending them.

The “secret kill list” to which the NYT piece refers is the list of terrorists that our intelligence services have deemed large enough threats to our nation, that they should be captured or killed when found. When President Bush created his morbid deck of cards with terrorists on them, I became sick to my stomach upon hearing it. It is one thing to keep a list of people, (the FBI has its top ten list) but it is quite another thing to put them on “playing” cards, which in my mind trivializes their importance and turns the very serious business of national security into a fun game for the masses. People actually started collecting them as I recall. That’s fucking sick.

Whereas the media had fun with that deck of cards, they now want to get serious and call it a “secret kill list” and I imagine they hear scary music when they write about it. The word “secret” is meant to trigger a specific response in some readers.

The Buck Stops With President Obama

Unlike his predecessor, President Obama takes responsibility for his decisions. From the NYT article:

Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be. [...]

“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”

So whether you agree with President Obama’s position or not, the man deserves credit for standing up and taking responsibility for what our military does when targeting terrorists and the potential collateral damage that our strikes may cause. I’m glad that the person we elected is making the call instead of some career military person who hasn’t gone through the grueling process of winning the presidency, during which candidates are put under the microscope and damn near every move they have ever made is analyzed. Would you rather John “bomb, bomb Iran” McCain was making that call? I didn’t think so.

I know that the people suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) will find little comfort in the above, but really, do they ever feel comfort? That group seems to be able to find the black cloud in every silver lining.

Ignoring Congress Is So Convenient When Slanting A Piece Of Journalism

You may notice when reading the NYT piece that the authors slip in some memes that many on the Professional Left have nurtured and embraced. From the title of the piece, to the many memes sprinkled throughout, the authors knew exactly what buttons to push.

They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. [...]

When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”

In one sentence, the authors imply that POTUS is responsible for Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) still being open, which is one of the flagship memes of the PL and it isn’t true. Go read my post on it if you missed that whole mess when it happened. They go on to imply that the President has no moral reservations about “lethal action”. It’s one of those sentences meant to be plucked out by the likes of Greenwald and Scahill. Nevermind that the authors also go into detail about how seriously President Obama takes this task much later in the piece, after the ODS sufferers heads have already exploded. Here is the nuance surrounding the “American cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. (emphasis mine)

The president “was very interested in obviously trying to understand how a guy like Awlaki developed,” said General Jones. The cleric’s fiery sermons had helped inspire a dozen plots, including the shootings at Fort Hood. Then he had gone “operational,” plotting with Mr. Abdulmutallab and coaching him to ignite his explosives only after the airliner was over the United States.

That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.

Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.

If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.

“This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the president warned that in future cases, the evidence might well not be so clear

As you can see, the details of Awlaki’s case paint a picture of someone who had gone “operational” and was doing more than just talking. When the President said “[T]his is an easy one,” according to Daley, and then went on to say that in future cases, the evidence might not be so clear, the President was showing that this case was special. Smartypants has an excellent post that delves further into the details about what Awlaki was up to and the direct threat he posed to American citizens.

Let the Awlaki case be a warning to Americans, if you renounce your citizenship, move to Yemen, go on Youtube and call for violence against Americans and plot terrorist attacks against the U.S. — you might get visited by a drone. We have freedoms in America, but the freedom to plot and encourage terrorism isn’t one of them, from what I’ve read. And wrapping yourself in the “Freedom of Speech” argument makes no sense, we already have limits to that freedom, yelling fire in a crowd is the one everyone always cites. Something makes me think that encouraging and plotting terrorist attacks against Americans might be one of those exceptions.

The authors later in the article return to the Guantanamo Bay issue by first brushing past the real reason it didn’t get closed, lock-step opposition from Republicans and way too many Democrats. They moved right to the blame Obama game.

But it was too late, and his defensive tone suggested that Mr. Obama knew it. Though President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, had supported closing the Guantánamo prison, Republicans in Congress had reversed course and discovered they could use the issue to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism.

Admittedly, the first couple of years of President Obama’s term were a learning curve. He learned that Republicans would abandon bills they once supported, and in some cases even sponsored, in order to not give the new guy any wins. With both the former Republican president and the 2008 Republican candidate supporting closing Gitmo, President Obama naively assumed it would happen. The unprecedented opposition from Republicans turned all politics in Washington on its head. Many people who were working off conventional wisdom and the word of Senators and members of Congress got burned in the first couple years, it wasn’t just the President and his people.

Recently, it was revealed that Republicans devised a plan on the day President Obama was sworn in to thwart any progress in the next 4 years.

Democrats have rounded on revelations about a private dinner of House Republicans on inauguration day in 2009 in which they plotted a campaign of obstruction against newly installed president Barack Obama.

During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.

Do you remember the dire straights that our economy was in at the time. This event alone is enough to run every Republican out of town in 2012.

Using Former Bushies When It’s Convenient For Furthering The Meme

This next passage is very revealing of the techniques used throughout the piece to appeal to the “both sides are the same” crowd. It details the concern that President Obama has for innocent people.

Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser recounted.

In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead.

The president’s directive reinforced the need for caution, counterterrorism officials said, but did not significantly change the program. In part, that is because “the protection of innocent life was always a critical consideration,” said Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under President George W. Bush.

Do you see how that works? President Obama clearly wants to minimize and ideally eliminate innocent civilians being harmed by the pinpoint strikes and made major changes to accomplish that. Yet the authors very quickly pivot to a quote from a former Bush administration official, Gen. Michael Hayden (retired), who although better than his predecessor, was still working for a corrupt administration that led us into war on false pretenses. I actually do have some respect for Hayden for turning away from Cheney and his gang when he took over as Director of the CIA in 2006; my problem here is that the authors use Hayden’s quote to diminish the actions President Obama took to further minimize civilian casualties.

What The Hell, Let’s Throw In The “Caved” Meme Too

When they return to the Guantanamo Bay issue later in the piece, the authors push another meme of the Professional Left, the “OMG, he caved” meme. I’ll send you to my piece on Guantanamo Bay again, in case you didn’t click the first time. It shows the circumstances that the newly elected president faced from both the right and his own party in trying to close Gitmo.

No amount of waving his magic wand by President Obama was going to get these spineless politicians to let those scary terrorists be transferred to their states. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was one of the people leading the charge against transferring Gitmo prisoners to his state along with many other Democrats. That put the Republicans in the drivers seat and created the odd coalition of former VP Cheney and Sen. Schumer. What’s wrong with that picture? Forget the fact that our maximum security prisons house some of the worst and most violent criminals the world has seen. These terrorists are, cue the scary music, “muslims”…dunt duh duh.

Here is one illustration of the “caved” meme that was sprinkled in the NYT piece.

When the administration floated a plan to transfer from Guantánamo to Northern Virginia two Uyghurs, members of a largely Muslim ethnic minority from China who are considered no threat to the United States, Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf denounced the idea. The administration backed down.

That show of weakness doomed the effort to close Guantánamo, the same administration official said. “Lyndon Johnson would have steamrolled the guy,” he said. “That’s not what happened. It’s like a boxing match where a cut opens over a guy’s eye.”

The characterization of the Uyghur incident ignored a hell of a lot that transpired during that time. It wasn’t just a matter of ” Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf ” who started jumping up and down about transferring those two prisoners. An assault began on the President and his attempt to dismantle Bush’s hideous practices. Once again, Republicans who once supported the release of the Uyghurs turned on the President, not wanting him to get any “win”.

The Uyghur’s high-profile champion in Congress, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in June of 2008 requesting that the 17 Uyghur detainees be released from Guantanamo into parole into the US.

Rohrabacher also called on the US government to provide an apology and perhaps compensation for any abuse the detainees had endured.

The Uyghurs – and the Republicans’ principled position on the issue – fell victim to the conviction of top Republicans that it was of vital importance that the Obama administration suffer a conspicuous setback on an issue that the GOP still sees as political gold: terrorism.

In a recent newspaper column, Newt Gingrich, a key Republican strategist, burned the Republicans’ bridges to the Uyghur cause with an inflammatory and misleading attack on the 17 Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo.

It didn’t take me five minutes on Google to find the above reality of what happened with the case of the Uyghers; you would think a couple of New York Times writers would know how to use Google and find it themselves. But, of course, that wouldn’t fit with their “OMG, he caved” meme.

As my fellow blogger Rkref pointed out to me, Lyndon Johnson had a Senate with 68 Democrats and a huge wind at his back after the assassination of President Kennedy. The country pulled together and Johnson took advantage of it.

The idea that every time a president reaches a compromise or doesn’t succeed in achieving a goal is “caving” is just juvenile. Whenever I have an exchange with one the “cave dwellers” on Twitter, that immaturity is usually revealed pretty quickly. Context has no place in their minds, everything is black and white, for or against, with us or against us, he said, she said…pick your metaphor.

The Reality Of The Violent World We Live In

As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, I have a lot of problems with our government’s use of military force. I’ve always thought that violence begets violence. If you look at the long-standing conflicts in the world, many of them go back centuries and a revenge mentality gets passed from generation to generation. I’ve always tried to be a positive person and in my younger years — I’m 50 now — I was much more idealistic about what could be accomplished in our society. But over the years, I’ve witnessed a culture that keeps embracing and glorifying violence. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that doesn’t appear to be changing.

I can only imagine what it must be like for President Obama, or any president, to receive the daily and weekly briefings about threats to our nation. Having read both of President Obama’s books and watched and read almost all his speeches, debates and interviews, I am damn glad that he is the leader of our country. I know that he cares about people and wants all Americans to be safe and have opportunities to live happy, productive lives. He has done an amazing job of representing all Americans as president, much to the dismay of partisans on the left. As one of those people on the left, I accept it. And even though it sometimes means I don’t get exactly what I want, I’m happy that I have a president that is looking out for the safety of all Americans.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

Official White House photos by Pete Souza

Anwar al-Awlaki photo by Muhammad ud-Deen, Wikimedia Commons

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan War, National Security | , , , | 7 Comments

The “Job Creators” Myth Shattered – Nick Hanauer’s TED Talk

THIS times billions and billions!

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Economy, The Truth | , , | 3 Comments

To My Mom, The Best There Ever Was

(I wrote this a couple of years ago)

My mother was the best mom you could possibly have. I’m going to tell you a little bit about what made her so incredible. This isn’t to take away from all the other great moms out there, it is to honor all moms.

She lived a very full life and passed away 11 years ago, leaving behind a legacy and a path of love that will continue till the end of time.

When she was 19 years old, she worked as an assistant to the President of Gerber Baby Food up in Fremont Michigan, their corporate headquarters. One of her jobs was to reply to all the people who mailed in photos of their babies hoping to be the next Gerber baby.

She joined the WAVES during World War II and ended up with a Top Secret level job working in the office of the Commander of the Navy. Before being hired, the FBI sent a team of agents to Muskegon Michigan to investigate her and talk to neighbors and friends to see what type of person she was.  My mother was one of the most honorable, honest individuals that ever walked the planet. She got the job. She used to say how she couldn’t tell anyone where she worked or what she did. She could only say, I work at the Pentagon.

One of her jobs as an assistant to the Commander of the Navy was to actually move the pins around on the map which showed where enemy subs were located, based on the latest intelligence. She said that she was frisked when she entered the office and when she left. She loved Washington DC and always encouraged me to visit there, which I have yet to do. Soon, Ma, soon.

She knew my dad from our hometown, he actually had dated one of her sisters. In DC while my dad was waiting to be deployed, he had two feet that were different sizes and had to wait for special order boots, believe it or not, but my Mom and Dad went on a few dates and apparently fell in love. My dad was finally deployed about a month before the war ended. He ended up liberating concentration camps, I guess he told some stories about coming up on the camps for the first time and finding survivors, he actually brought home pictures that my mom later destroyed because she didn’t want us kids coming across them.

They both returned to Muskegon, Michigan, got married and had 5 boys, me being the last of the bunch. She gave birth to me when she 39 years old. My mother was raised in a home that wasn’t very affectionate, they weren’t abusive or anything, but just didn’t show affection very well. My father, however was very affectionate and she used to say how he taught her how to be affectionate and loving. I knew nothing but love from her. My father died in 1968, when I was 6 years old. My mother was left with 5 boys ranging in ages from 6 years old to 20. The oldest very soon volunteered to go to Vietnam and the next oldest went off to College in Boston, at Berklee College of Music.

My mother worked as a legal secretary for many years, working for judges and lawyers and apparently was one of the best secretaries in town. She actually had lawyers fighting over her, competing to get her to work for them. She was a very good writer, her dream was to be an English teacher. She ended up becoming a paralegal, specializing in probate and trusts. She was recruited by a lawyer who would later become my step father. My mother frequently would say that some women can’t find one good man, but she was fortunate to have found two. My step father was a pretty amazing man too, he passed at the age of 89, a few years ago.

For 8 years after my real father passed away, she raised us boys by herself on a secretary’s wage and with the help of Social Security survivors benefits. She put a lot of the Social Security money away because she wanted her sons to go to college. She valued education above all else and I’ll get to that in a minute. The unexpected death of my father, heart attack, left her to raise 5 boys by herself. We lived in a poor neighborhood but I never felt like I was wanting, although we didn’t have all the toys other kids did. She was amazing.

She ended up dating her boss, my future step-father and they were married when I was 14 years old. We moved to a new house, in a nicer neighborhood, a very middle class neighborhood. It was a big change for my next oldest brother and I, we had lived a pretty meager life to that point but that all changed. My step father was one of the most respected lawyers in town, the senior partner in one of the biggest law firms and a very wise man. He frequently would arbitrate union disputes because of his wisdom and ability to get people to compromise. We used to try to get him to run for President. He was a rarity, a wealthy lawyer who was liberal. I may write about him on father’s day.

Even though my mother was not wanting for much after she married my step dad, she still lived a very frugal life, having a hard time realizing that she didn’t have to pinch pennies. I remember one time she asked if I would run to Meijer’s for her because they had bags of topsoil on sale and I was in a hurry to get to school. I said, can’t I just run over to the nursery close by and get them. She kept insisting that I go buy the ones on sale and I said to her, mom, you can afford an extra 25 cents per bag and she said, I guess you’re right.

Although my step father was pretty well off, he was very modest and didn’t waste money. He was the senior partner in his law firm, like I said, and the other partners all drove Jaguars, Mercedes Benz’s and BMW’s, my dad bought a used Cutlas Ciera that he drove for like 10 years. He later bought a Park Avenue, a used one, and drove that until he died.

When my mother started receiving Social Security after she retired, every month she used to write out checks in the amount of the SS check and send it to charities. She felt that others needed the money more than she did. My parents used to basically fund the rescue mission in our town. The mission would actually call my mother up when they were low on food and she would promptly write them a check. This is a funny story that I recently shared with Ms. Cicely Tyson, who I have to say reminds me so much of my mother. My step father was an avid golfer and used to wear the wild golf pants and polo shirts and the like. He also wore pretty nice shoes too. Well, he used to donate his slightly worn pants and shoes to the rescue mission. I remember driving by the mission many times and seeing homeless guys wearing bright colored pants and expensive shoes. We had the best dressed homeless people in the state.

I mentioned how my mother believed in education very strongly. Her and my step father set up an educational trust fund for all 11 of their grandchildren. It is fed by one of their investments that continues to this day. All 11 of the grandchildren have their tuition, books, living and even some spending money covered for 4 years of college. Can you just imagine the burden that has been lifted from my brother’s and their families. I never had any kids of my own, but I have a wonderful step daughter now. So I haven’t gotten much from that trust yet, but it reverts to the brothers once the last of the 11 completes college in about 8 years. I plan to take my portion of the money and put it into my granddaughter’s education fund, that I am about to start for her. She’s 1 years old right now. When my mother was laying in the hospital dying, I finished my Masters degree and brought it to her in the hospital. She couldn’t even talk, with tubes coming out of her. I will never forget the smile on her face and how proud she was of me.

I could go on and on about my mother and frequently do, but I’ll wrap this up with a couple more things that show the type of person she was. She was a good Democrat and liberal. She cared about people and others, obviously, and was an avid C-SPAN junkie, as I used to call her. When she was in semi-retirement, I lived with my parents for a while upon getting a new job back home and we used to watch C-SPAN together and talk about politics. She taught me so much about how our government works and the reality of how bills get passed and the procedures of the House of Representatives. We talked political strategy all the time. I remember her stopping and saying to me once, you’re very smart, you know? She was a pragmatist and believed in compromise within our government. She always respected others opinions and never assigned bad motives to them. She didn’t live to see what has become of the Republican Party, I wonder how she would feel today about that party.

She was the type of mother who never said we weren’t capable of doing something. She encouraged us to try new things and never underestimate ourselves. She always emphasized how when we applied ourselves and worked hard, we could do anything. And she was very proud of all of her sons. A few years before she passed away, she was in her 70’s, she said. “You know, I must have done something right because all my boys turned out to be good citizens, loving parents and kind men who care about the world they live in.” I used to always tell her she was the best mom in the world and she would get all modest on me. I insisted.

At her funeral, a guy walked up to me and asked if I remembered him. It was a friend from the old neighborhood who I hadn’t seen in probably 30 years. He said that my mom meant a lot to him, she was the mother he wished he’d always had. I don’t really remember him even interacting with her, but apparently she had a profound effect on him. He said he HAD to be at her funeral. Since then, many people have made similar comments about my incredible mom. The world is a much better place because she was in it.

I miss her terribly, but I know that she lives on in every thing I do, every interaction I have with people, whether it’s holding a door open or just listening with interest to people of all walks of life. She taught us all that every human being is worthy of respect. She was a staunch feminist and taught us that women are equal to men, although there are differences. She is a large part of who I am as a person.

I love ya Mom, your memory will never die.

May 13, 2012 Posted by | General | | Comments Off

The Institution of Marriage Is Stronger Today Thanks To President Obama

The impact of President Obama’s support for same sex marriage will be felt for years to come and in many ways.

Prior to the interview on ABC where he affirmed his support for SSM, I honestly didn’t realize just how much impact it would have. On my drive home from work, I heard Andrew Sullivan on NPR discussing his reaction and the full impact hit me hard as I began to cry.

ANDREW SULLIVAN: I did have mixed feelings, but I thought beforehand that this is a state issue. The president’s role in this is really circumscribed. One interview doesn’t make a difference. And then I watched the interview and the tears flooded. There is something about hearing your president affirm your humanity that you don’t know what effect it has until you hear it. And I think of all those gay Americans over the centuries who never heard that, never believed it could happen. And I have to say I’m immensely proud of this president for doing what he did.

I think he let go of fear today, the fear that somehow by embracing this natural, obvious and I would say conservative development he was sometimes – somehow embracing political calamity. He wasn’t, he isn’t, he won’t. And exchanging fears for hope on this and affirming what we all know who have met him and seen him that he thinks of gay people exactly as he thinks of straight people, as human beings and Americans first. That’s a great moment. (emphasis mine)

Hearing Andrew’s words brought home to me how important this is for the LGBT community.

The President’s words also went a long way towards strengthening the institution of marriage. I know that is the opposite of what you will read today in most publications that are mining the religious community for hyperbolic quotes and trying to create some controversy. But in my mind, there is no way it can do anything but strengthen it.

News flash – Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people aren’t going away and thank god, they help make our communities rich. The idea that preventing loving, committed couples from marrying will somehow weaken the institution of marriage makes absolutely no sense. In reality, allowing same sex couples to marry can only strengthen that institution. It promotes commitment, stability and family by giving security and a sense of belonging to a group that for far too long has been forced to live on the outside of the circle.

In a world where young people are becoming more promiscuous and the role models for our youth in many instances are the cast of the Jersey Shore, the Kardashians and misogynistic musicians, having two loving adults making a commitment to each other should be welcomed, regardless of their gender.

The religious objections to this idea are rooted in centuries old biases and cultural influence. When I read the Bible years ago, the cultural influences on each writer was very apparent to me. A friend of mine who studied the Bible extensively, pointed out that many stories are repeated in the Bible and each version of the story was different, based on who was writing it and the culture that influenced him. The writers were humans – imperfect humans who brought opinions and biases to what they wrote. So when religious folks refer back to a book written thousands of years ago in a completely different age, I have to wonder why it is they feel the need to live by the biases of a long ago people. In effect, they are ignoring everything that humans have learned since then.

The idea that allowing LGBT people to marry somehow hurts heterosexual marriages is just a mystery to me. I can’t seem to connect the dots of their argument and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever really seen anything but platitudes when it comes to this idea. There is no argument to be made other than an appeal to emotions, fear and homophobia. My wife and I spent a couple minutes trying to figure out how it has anything to do with our marriage. We basically just shook our heads back and forth and said, WTF.

President Obama’s interview with Robin Roberts where he affirmed the humanity of LGBT people was an important moment in our history. And even though the Federal government has a limited role in defining marriage, the courage of President Obama to speak honestly about his feelings and to speak up for equality for all people can not be diminished, no matter how hard people try.

Forward!

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Accomplishments, Human Rights, President Barack Obama | , , | 2 Comments

Romney Is Shaking The Etch A Sketch On Immigration

It’s going to be a long, meandering campaign from the looks of it. Mitt Romney is going back to the drawing board and retooling his rhetoric for the general election.

Besides the problem of adding to his horrendous image as a serial flip-flopper, I think he will also suffer backlash from the right-wing of his own party. The primaries have shown that his support is tenuous at best as his competitors each took a turn as the “not Romney” candidate. He will have to walk a fine line to keep his support from anyone short of his immediate family.

I doubt that Hispanics will soon forget Mitt Romney’s previous actions with regards to immigration.

It’s also worth appreciating the fact that it’s far too late for the presumptive Republican nominee to “decide his position on immigration” — that decision was already made quite a while ago. Romney has already said he’s an opponent of the DREAM Act; he’s palling around with Pete Wilson and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; he endorses a “self-deportation” agenda; he’s critical of bilingualism; and his casual dismissals of “amnesty” and “illegals” are a staple of his campaign rhetoric.

He’s not “still deciding”; he’s already decided to be the most anti-immigrant major-party nominee in at least a generation.

I’m wondering when Willard will pull out the “that was my evil twin” line to explain his previous actions.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles (a part of The Raw Story)

May 8, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Mitt Romney, Republican Party | 4 Comments

The Left Has A Choice – Win or Lose!

OK, here’s the deal. There are a whole lot of us liberals/progressives/Democrats who support President Obama and NO, it isn’t some hero-worship or cult-like bullshit that frequently gets thrown in our face. We are supporting a President that is working his ass off to try to repair the damage left behind by the previous 4 presidents.

We support a president that is interested in making progress and moving the ball down the field, whether it’s huge gains like reforming health care or small gains like signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

And we don’t think President Obama can do no wrong, that is something that gets projected upon us constantly. It is the knee-jerk reaction of many of the “pundits of perpetual disappointment” who spend all their time splitting hairs and searching for something to whine about. And of course, they never give credit for any advancements, nothing is ever good enough for them.

So you folks on the left who continue to snipe, attack, antagonize and otherwise act like petulant, whiny little children…..GIVE IT UP! You aren’t going to convince us that it’s in our own best interests to help the Republicans take EVEN MORE control over our country. It ain’t going to fucking happen, sorry. No matter what President Obama might do that I disagree with, I’m not so naive to think that ANY Republican would even come close to representing me better than President Obama does.

If you are one of those people who thinks “both parties are the same”, I’m sorry, you are suffering from delusions.  To me, that is one of the stupidest fucking things you can say in politics. What comes to my mind when I hear people trot out the “both sides” meme is that the person saying it has some other motivation. If they are willing to ignore things such as who gets to pick Supreme Court nominees, an impact that will be felt for decades to come, then they are clearly motivated by something other than principles. Or, how can someone who passionately supports people less fortunate than themselves ignore the Paul Ryan/Republican budget plan, which in effect says “you’re on your own buddy, but here’s a lovely parting gift…your voucher.”

To my fellow pragmatic liberals and progressives, we need to focus on fighting back against the powerful, well-funded right that is determined to completely turn our country over to big money interests. Too much of our time is wasted fighting the malcontents on the left.

Don’t let the hate driven left set the agenda, learn to ignore them. When you engage them, you are only encouraging them. Their goals aren’t to win elections or change things, because as I’ve said, if they are willing to ignore so many important differences between Democrats and Republicans and choose to spend their time blogging, tweeting, Facebooking and talking about what isn’t good about Democrats, then clearly they have different goals and the greater good of their fellow women and men isn’t one of them.

Those who claim to simply be holding politicians feet to the fire with their criticism, need to step back and see exactly which politicians are most deserving of burnt feet. By only criticizing President Obama, while letting Republicans get away with the most extreme agenda in our history, I have to question the sincerity of the principles they wrap themselves in like a Snuggie. By ignoring the much more egregious actions of Republicans, they are clearly making a choice.

May 8, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Election, Politics, President Barack Obama, Republican Party | 1 Comment

Dear Republicans: REALLY???

Guest Blogger:  RLGardner

Republican World just gets weirder and weirder every day.  Don’t believe me?  Take a trip down the “Here’s The Truth of the Matter” Lane with me.

Republicans are currently slamming Obama for mentioning Osama bin Laden and how he is dead, OMG!

How dare he!…whine the Republicans.

However, I didn’t hear any of them whining when Dubya landed on the aircraft carrier, watermelon stuffed into his flight suit, and declaring (with a big banner and everything), “Mission Accomplished.”

So I’m wondering: who was really “spiking the football” here?  President Obama, who actually truly madly deeply DID give the order to take out bin Laden or Dubya with his watermelon, flight suit, and pack full o’ lies?  Another question: Do you think Willard could have done the same thing?

Right.  That’s what I thought.

And then there’s the “War on Women.”  According to John Boehner, aka St. Orange of Julius, in his latest pearl-clutching episode on the House floor, it is the Democrats who started and are perpetuating, said war.

Really?

Which party, both on the federal level and the state level, has introduced eleventy-billion bills designed to quash the rights of women, particularly when it comes to reproductive and other health issues?

Which party, and their minions (Rush, I’m talking to you!) has engaged in slut-shaming?

Which party does the Governor who suggested that women just “close their eyes” if they didn’t want to see the on-screen results of their medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds belong to?  The Democratic party?

BZZZZZ!!!  I’m sorry, pasty white “R” man- it was your party, not the Democratic party that did that.

Wanna keep going?  Okay. Here we go:

Here’s another one for you: Republican men (and their Stepford Wife surrogates) are going around saying that there is no wage disparity, but hey, if there really IS wage disparity between men and women, well, there is a perfectly logical reason for that. A couple of perfectly logical reasons actually:

Perfectly Logical Reason Number One:  Men work more hours per week than women do on average.  Okay, let’s say that’s true.  However, where reason number one falls apart is that the true argument is not that men make more than women because some men work more hours than women, it’s the fact that when you look at per-hour wages, men make more per hour than women do for doing the same damned job!  Got that, Republicans?  Do you need me to go over that for you again?

Perfectly Logical Reason Number Two is: Well, women often take time off when they have children.

Now, I will grant you that that is indeed a truism.  However, I am quite puzzled as to why you think it’s okay that women make less than men for the simple fact that we can bear children, and thus we deserve to get paid less for doing the same damned job that men do, yet when Hilary Rosen said that Ann Romney has never held a job, you once again get your tighty whities twisted into a knot and scream out, “How DARE you Democrats slam the mothers of this country?!!??! ELEVENS!!!

Really?

You say that mothers are valuable, and guess what, I agree with you.  I really do.  Where we part ways, however, is that mothers (and women in general) are only valuable to you when they serve your purposes, not because they are in and of themselves actually valuable.

If a woman is white, and married to a rich white man, and she stays home to raise her kids (accompanied with a cadre of housekeepers, nannies, yard workers, cooks, etc.), that’s all cool beans.

BUT, if a woman is not rich, and worse, if she is a minority woman, well then according to you, she’d best get off her lazy Welfare Queen backside and get out there, get a job (or 3 or 4) and pull herself up by her bootstraps.  She’d better not DARE ask for any public assistance, because if she does, well it just confirms to the Republicans that she is, in fact, a Welfare Queen and she is having babies on purpose for the sole reason that she wants to dip into the pockets of people like the Romney’s, those poor rich souls.

And the biggest insult is that you sit on your velvet thrones, and you expect us to just bow at your feet and accept what you say as the gospel truth.

So I say again, REALLY?

We are not as dumb as you wish we were.

Just wait until November.

May 7, 2012 Posted by | 2012 Election, Politics, Republican Party | | Comments Off

   

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