Monday, September 22, 2014
And my all-time favorite -
Most people who know me think I'm a fairly even-tempered person. I'm slow to anger and rarely hold a grudge. Oh, I love to dive into a good political debate and I don't mind if things get a little rough. I'm usually ready to shake hands when it is over though. My line in the sand is so far in the distance I can barely see it but it does exist. And I think the Republicans/conservatives have finally crossed it.
I lose all sense of self-preservation when I reach this point. I once voted to strike even though the company told us they'd close the plant if we did not approve their insulting contract. They'd played such devious, hateful games with us before that vote that there's nothing they could have done that would have made me put my check mark in front of the "yes". My attitude was - "then go ahead and shut the son-of-a-bitch down". Cooler heads prevailed and the contract was agreed to (although management later closed the factory anyway).
I was almost there when the Republican impeached Clinton. I thought that impeachment was nothing more than a vindictive, vengeful attempt to destroy a Democratic president just because they were pissed that they'd lost. So much for democracy.
And then there was the Bush V Gore fiasco in which the Supreme Court got to name the president who didn't get the most popular votes.
But still, even after all of that, I tried look beyond it to be a loyal American. I thought that election was so divisive, the country really needed us to pull together as a united people. I thought, however it happened, George Bush was my president and it was important to respect the process and the office.
In the next eight years, I disagreed with and disapproved of so many things Bush and the Neo-cons did. I wrote blogs and columns criticizing them. I expressed my opinion in all the ways that were open to me. But I did not want to impeach Bush. I did not want the Democrats to get caught up in an endless round of grandstanding bullshit hearings designed simply to punish him because he, not we, had gained the presidency. I think not want them to try to tank the economy just to make him look bad. I did not want them to refuse to confirm his nominees to important posts out of petty spite.
In my life, I've had a few bumper stickers on my car but as far as I can recall, they have always been for something or someone, not against them. In the eight, in my opinion, disastrous years of Bush/Cheney, I never put a bumper sticker on my car that accused my friends and neighbors who voted for Bush of being stupid.
So, finally, those long eight Bush years were over and we Democrats were back in the White House. Granted, we were still at war in two places (that we weren't paying for) and the bankers had almost destroyed the economy and the deficit was still growing and we were still losing jobs but the party of grown ups was back in control so things had to get better and they did. We began to create jobs, the deficit began to go down, the stock market began to go up, foreclosures began to slow, one war was over and another would be soon, It was a slow process but all signs pointed up.
And what have we had from the Republicans during this time? Millions of dollars spent on worthless hearings, most particularly their Benghazi Obsession. Millions of dollars spent on 63 hopeless votes to repeal Obamacare. Government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs, threatened default, debt ceilings, sequester, a record-setting number of filibusters, a refusal to confirm even the most eminently qualified nominees, leaving us without ambassadors in critical countries like Guatemala, Syria and even RUSSIA, for God's sake! An unwillingness to cooperate on even such matters as freaking crucial as immigration, war and climate change.
And running counterpoint to all this congressional obstruction were the poisonous assertions about the president not being an American, not being a Christian, being a Muslim sympathizer, being a traitor and the implication that those of us who voted for him must be traitors and/or morons, ourselves. And impeachment, yes, impeachment again. Not having learned their lesson with Clinton, they seem bound to do it again with Obama and I believe they will impeach him if they win the Senate in 2014.
Always before, I've been of the belief that we couldn't let them drag us down to their level. We couldn't retaliate in kind. Jesus, what would happen to the country if both parties threw themselves on the floor in a tantrum and held their breath until they turned blue? No, we had to continue to be the people of commonsense and concern for the common good.
But I'm not really sure I can do that anymore. I may have passed my point of no return. The next time a Republican is elected president (and I assume they will eventually win another election), maybe I'll put vile bumper stickers on my car. Maybe I'll encourage my representatives to stonewall him (or her) at every step, even if I think the proposed policies might be positive ones. Maybe I'll post nasty cartoons on Facebook showing "their" president as a dog turd. Maybe I'll tell my friends and neighbors that they are imbeciles if they voted for the Republican, or even worse, traitors. Maybe I'll object to every nominee he puts forth, even the honorable ones who deserve to be confirmed.
I think they count on us to always be the level-headed ones but I don't feel very level-headed right now. I think I'm in the mood to strike even if that means shutting the son-of-a-bitch down.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I don't see how anyone who pays any attention to the world around them could not be a manic-depressive.
I just watched the most incredible National Geographic video - beautifully illustrating some of the myriad wonders of this earth. How could human beings not consider themselves unbelievably fortunate to live on this awesome planet? How could they not work tirelessly to protect it and its creatures from harm? When I see things like this, I'm amazed and joyful.
But then I move on to the news of the day and I see how taking care of the earth is really the least of mankind's concerns. We are more caught up in war and hatred and killing as we have been since our arrival on this planet, whenever that was. And this is so even though we've seen that past wars and hatred and killing have solved nothing.
We are obsessed with profit and cheap energy even at the risk of destroying our own environment. Climate change? Pretend it isn't so despite 97 percent of scientists declaring, ever more urgently, that it is. Giant pipelines of sludgy oil crossing under our lands and over our aquifers? Fine. Drilling in sensitive ecologies like the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic? Fine. Fracking despite earthquakes and despoiled water? Fine. Bulldozing down whole mountains to get at the resources they contain. Fine. Driving wolves and wild horses from their habitat because we want it? Fine.
It always seemed to me that our Creator, if there was a Creator, and the Earth and the solar system and all the solar systems argue with the perfection of their symbiosis that there must be intelligence behind them, was on a roll until he/she/it created man. That was one step too far.
Yes, there are the rescuers and the sacrificers and the caring but they are over-shadowed by their opposites. We who want to save the rain forests and the tigers and the whales and yes, the spotted owls and snail darters too (because who knows what purposes they serve in a Creator's eye?) are always fighting a rear guard action. We try to rescue a few dogs and cats out of the millions that are sent to shelters to be euthanized. The Rainbow Warrior is a feeble force defying entire governments owned by the rich who profit from killing whales. The Native Americans who are protesting the Keystone Pipeline coming through their lands don't stand a chance against the Koch Brothers and their ilk.
And meanwhile the wars go on unabated - Jew against Palestinian - Shia against Sunni - African tribes whose names I don't even know again other African tribes whose names I don't even know - bitter Russia against its former satellites. Conservatives against Liberals.
The world is filled with refugee camps, the human detritus of our loathing of one another. And speaking directly to America, the kindest and best country on earth, as we think of ourselves, what do WE do when faced with refugee children from gang and drug and war-torn countries? Many of us stand beside their buses with signs and screams saying, "go away, you're not welcome here!"
We humans cannot only not get along with our own kind, we cannot get along with our own families. (See: NFL for the most recent examples). Both governmentally and personally, as a country, our weapons are our most prized possessions, even above our children.
We think our religions, our morals, our ethics raise us above the animals and yet no other species comes close to being the monstrous plunderers, pillagers and predators that we are. Even many of us, who would never rape and maim and kill ourselves, stand silently by as others do it in our name. If our clothes are made by slave labor in China, well, hey, that shirt was a dollar cheaper at Walmart. If many of our farm products come from factory farms that keep livestock in horrendous conditions, as if they weren't living creatures of blood and bone and muscle that can feel pain, it's just the way it is, I can't do anything about it.
And that's the point. No, you can't but we can. United, we could stop it all if we cared enough. I'm 68 years old and I've always wanted to believe that man is on an ever evolving upward path. Progress might be slow but it exists. But looking around the world today, I think I might have been wrong.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Even now, with Russia invading Ukraine and ISIS beheading American journalists, the Republicans can't force themselves to present a united American front if it means standing with Barack Obama. While the president bombs and send air strikes and extends sanctions and meets with foreign leaders and NATO to try to devise the best possible strategy for coping with the increasingly violent goings on in Europe and the Middle East, Republican leaders, and I use that term very loosely, sit in their districts and twiddle their thumbs....unless, of course, they are on the Sunday shows complaining about what Obama is doing without offering any plausible ideas of their own.
Rand Paul now thinks (after much willy-wawing on this issue) that we must destroy ISIS: “If I were President, I would call a joint session of Congress, I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily.”
So far as I know, there is nothing to prevent the leadership of Congress from getting together and calling themselves into a joint (or extra) session if that's what they want to do. But do you sense them chaffing at the bit to take a vote on giving the President authorization to "destroy ISIS militarily"?
No, what they really want is for Obama to go ahead and do it, then they can scream that he made the decision extra-constitutionally and crucify him if it doesn't work out perfectly (which, of course, it wouldn't because war never does.)
John McCain and Lindsay Graham wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. Well, they would, wouldn't they? They've never not put their 2 cents (and that's about what their opinions are worth) in on any issue. They want to go to war in both Syria and Iraq but those are easy decisions to make when they are just words in a newspaper. And it's safe for them to say whatever they want because no one ever holds them accountable for all the wrong predictions they've made in the past. Has John McCain really thought out that he'd be going against some of the old buds he urged the president to arm in the not-too-distant past. Old buds like some now in ISIS.....like these guys?
Not to worry. I'm sure he'll remain the pet of the Sunday talk shows.
Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, recently said - “I am in support of going in and not sitting back, but creating a strategy of where we go, And if the president won’t act, I think we have to take some action to move forward.”
Good, Kevin, because I think Obama would love for you to do just that and give him some cover, just the way our laws state that it should work. You know, the Executive and Legislative branches being a partnership and all when matters of American security are involved.
Sen. Ted Cruz rallied the conservative faithful at the Defending the American Dream Summit in Dallas on Saturday, saying that the U.S. should bomb the Islamic State (ISIS) "back to the Stone Age" for beheading American journalist James Foley.
He illustrated Putin's influence another way at the start of his speech: "Back in Washington, there's a diet that is now very, very popular. It's called 'The Obama Diet.' It works very, very well. You simply let Putin eat your lunch every day."