An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Archive for June, 2011

Are We in Danger From the Law?

There was a story that I wrote for the latest article I submitted to the paper.  It examined a topic that I actually think is pretty serious.  The typical American is told when they are born that the police officer and the soldier are your friends and that you should trust them.  They are told that they are the people who protect you in times of trouble.  This is a lesson that everybody is given, and that people are seeming to agree with blindly.  Part of the problem these days is that people don’t want to be critical of law-enforcement personnel and soldiers.  But that is something people should be critical of, and there are some very good reasons why.

A few weeks back, in Miami Beach, Florida, a man named Narces Benoit was out with his girlfriend.  He got to see a rather awful event unfold in front of him.  Nine cops were firing with abandon at Raymond Harisse.  He was sitting in his parked car.  The evidence points to him not having shot back.  The cops claim that there was a gun hidden in his car.  If that is the case, how would have have been able to shoot at the cops, get hit numerous times, and have hidden the gun?  There is a logical disconnect happening with their story.

These nine cops, if they were firing a standard-issue Glock 22, potentially fired 135 rounds.  One bystander reported that their guns were clicking on empty.  That’s 135 rounds that not only went in Harisse, but also into four bystanders are the scene.  These cops killed this man in cold blood, and why?  Because he had run over a police officer earlier that day.  Instead of taking him to jail, these cops decided to outright murder this man.

The police are a unique thing to watch right now.  Here is an interesting practice that happens in this country – the cops will take people’s stuff and sell it.  For real, this isn’t a joke.  To make up for the unbelievably low wages this country forces our cops to accept, they have started routinely taking people’s stuff without even charging them for a crime.  They take people’s stuff who aren’t able or who don’t have to money to fight for what is taken.  They typically target low-income persons with a couple of charges under their bealt, so they won’t choose to fight.  This is a fairly common practice among police officers in this country.

And brutality isn’t really just an every once in a while occurence either.  A young black man in Houston, Texas was running from the cops.  However, when his path was cut off, he got on the ground and put his hands behind his head in surrender.  He has submitted, and the cops, instead of just handcuffing him and throwing him in the back of a car, they just, for 30 to 40 seconds, just beat him mercilessly.

And these are just some local examples.  Then there is what American soldiers have been doing overseas.  The biggest, and worst of these stories being one that appeared in an article in Rolling Stone magazine.  It talked about a group of soldiers in Bravo Company that they dubbed “The Kill Team.”  These guys not only killed, completely in cold blood, four Afghani civilians, but they were planning to kill more.  Had they not have been stopped, the killing would have continued.  One idea that they were throwing around was to go up to a bunch of kids and thrown candy out the windows of their vehicle.  Then, when the kids came to grab it, they would open fire on them.  But one of them thought – why waste the bullets?  Why not just throw candy out in front of their vehicle and run them down?

These are American soldiers.  These are people who are supposed to be able to respect the lives of others.  And we have a group of men who killed and mutilated four people.  One of them was from Wasilla, Alaska, the town I grew up in.  There were pictures of them with severed heads.  This is not the activities of a civilized society.  And the sad fact is that all of the areas of law enforcement are becoming that way.

The TSA’s new pat-downs have been a source of controversy in this country for some time.  But recently, it has taken an even uglier turn.  The TSA told the daughter of a 95 year old leukemia patient to take off her soiled adult diaper.  The elderly woman’s mother, was very stoic.  The daughter bursted into tears.  She had every reason to hate this.  Not only is this not dignified, the fact that our government has given a branch of law enforcement the power to do something like this is just plain sick.  That’s a fact – it’s sick.  To even ask somebody to do this is wrong.  The head of the TSA should have apologized, but they didn’t.  What did they do?  They said it didn’t happen.  That was their response – to deny the allegation completely, and pretend it didn’t happen.  And with the government pretty much giving them a blank ticket anymore, they can do that and it can work.

And of course, the great example of how the law can have unlimited power and can suffer no consequences – The Patriod Act.  This is a hopelessly abused weapon of the system designed to keep an eye on the common man.  Using it, they have been able to detain people for no reason, tap phones and enter homes without a warrant.  They have even been able to torture people and have the military not be able to be prosecuted for this.  It has been proven over and over that torture doesn’t work.  A skilled interrogator who is good at reading people is worth more.  But instead of following historical evidence, they decide to just keep at this broken system.

The big quesiton that needs to be asked – are we in danger from the law?  The answer is looking more and more ugly.  And what happens when this abuse happens to people?  Who is made to pay for the violation of rights that is occuring?  When a cop maces a 15 year old girl who he has pinned down on the hood of his car, with her hands cuffed behind her back, who gets retribution?

The problem is that so many people don’t allow these kinds of discussions to happen.  They simply choose to say that the law is right, no matter what.  Questioning if something is right is never a bad idea, never.  People need to realize that, because if cops can shoot a man in cold blood and the complain about the media attacking them because it would hurt their case, who is being helped?

Peace out,

Eli

The Battle For Gay Marriage

It’s interesting to watch the Democrats react to the growing civil rights battle that is happening in this country.  It is interesting to see this growing battle between an old world and the new world.  The old world is gradually slipping away.  People like Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich are trying desperately not to let it go.  They want their old world because in their old world, they didn’t have to have the conversations that we are having now.  They didn’t have to listen to what they are listening to now.  They didn’t have to fight against what they are fighting against now.  The problem is that the Democrats seem unwilling or unable to also stand up and take the fight on, to fight for what is right, what is decent, and what is profoundly correct and a good direction for the future to head in.

It’s been a long time since the days of Harvey Milk.  He was the first true champion that the LGBT community had in government.  He took the fight for gay rights to a whole different level.  His famous speech that he gave, telling people that change is just around the corner, was a beacon for a community that had been leaderless and didn’t want to enter the fight.  It became the rallying cry for a group of people who were treated poorly, victims of pointless prejudice and bigotry, and really, the only reason that people hated them is because they didn’t understand them.

It is a part of human nature to hate and fear what one perceives and does not understand.  It’s not a good thing.  It is the most detrimental part of modern society, of any society, but the fact is that it is a part of human nature.  But people can rise above their nature.  The problem in the modern battle for gay rights is that Group A, that has all the prejudism and hatred, wants Group B to change.  But Group B doesn’t have to change, and they shouldn’t.  Instead, they should be the ones who have to change.

And Group A has reason after reason why they don’t want Group B to be a part of them.  They say that gay marriage somehow threatens their marriage.  They say that their religious figure calls their existence an abomination.  They says that they are going to “recruit” more people into becoming gay.  They say that being gay is a choice.  They say that it can be “cured” by making noises to their holy being.  They say a lot of things.  And now those who say those things are working day and night to make the LGBT community’s dream of being treated like human beings get further and further way.

The problem is that the Democrats are not getting into the fight, they are not supporting it publicly.  Every once and a while you get the stray senator or congressman/congresswoman who will say they are for it, but the bulk of them just say “let the states decide.”  It is the cheap way of getting out from under the bus of a changing world.  Why do they do this?  The answer is simple – they want to get reelected.  They want to keep their seat in office, and they don’t want to get all the bigots who live in this country to come out of the woodwork and make them go away.

During the 2004 election, Bush won when Karl Rove decided to make gay marriage the big issue of the election season.  He decided to bring gay marriage up in a bunch of states that would never have considered doing this before because the LGBT community knew that this would be a losing battle.  That was how Bush beat Kerry.  Cheap, tasteless, and almost inhuman, but that is how conservatives in this country operate these days.

My friend John Aronno said that the modern conservative strategy has been to fight completely insane battles for the most ridiculous and hardcore positions possible.  This is to keep the Democrats fighting it out with them, and not thinking about or trying to fight for the things that actually matter, like ending the drug war, or letting people who are different be able to marry the ones that they love.

Keith Olbermann did a “Special Comment” on his show last night.  He pointed out up-front the thing that people need to realize.  The young are starting to figure it out, but the old aren’t – that ten years down the road, this issue isn’t going to matter.  Ten or twenty years from now, gay marriage will be legal everywhere.  This is a battle, yes, but the fact is that the margin of people who support gay marriage is growing every day, not shrinking.  There is a saying that bad ideas die.  But that’s not true.  As Richard Coughlin put it, “people with bad ideas die.”

Here are the facts, as listed by Keith Olbermann –

It won’t destroy the democracy, it doesn’t destroy the family, it strengthens the institution of marriage and it’s principle premise of fidelity, and it increases the number of people living in stable and loving homes.”

That is the absolute truth.  And anybody who says otherwise is just a bigot who doesn’t seem to realize that their hatred of this group of people is not only unfounded, it is ridiculous.  But that battle needs something more in order for it to finally be won – for the Democrats to get off their butts and to stand up and say that they are in support of these people!

The LGBT community has NO true representation in Congress or the White House.  It has NO party who is directly behind them, fighting for them.  There are the odd senators here and there, or Congress people, but the fact is that they stand alone against a tide of hatred that is slowly waning, but as those who are dying away go, they are now trying desperately to not lose this America they think they need so desperately to progress.  They want us to regress, not move forward.  But life is about moving forward.  Nature is about moving forward.  Moving forward is what humanity does.

I think I’ll end this with a quote from Harvey Milk’s Hope Speech –

 I can’t forget the looks on faces of people who’ve lost hope. Be they gay, be they seniors, be they blacks looking for an almost-impossilbe job, be they Latins trying to explain their problems and aspirations in a tongue that’s foreign to them. I personally will never forget that people are more important than buildings.”

Peace out,

Eli

Obama Finally Does Something Smart?

There is one thing that people need to be more than anything else in this country – critical.  People need to be critical of those who we elect into government positions in this country because when a lack of critical thinking is present, problems are destined to follow.  This President who currently is in office has had a metric ton of criticism leveled at him.  He has been attacked on all sides.  I do think he has weathered it pretty well.  Granted, if you look the photos of the man before he went into the White House and then at him now, he has aged a lot, but for the most part, he has weathered the story in a pretty good way.

Now, last night, he came onto the national stage and made a speech.  It turns out that he has finally realized what all of us have realized (some sooner than others) that our military efforts in the Middle East are a waste of time.  He has called for the withdrawal of 10,000 troops.  The mission is to get the Afghan government to start standing on their own two feet without needing America to constantly give them a hand.  A good mission, to be sure.

For those who didn’t watch his very brief address, it was very insightful.  He addressed first what got us to Afghanistan – our mission to find Osama Bin Laden.  He then said we moved to Iraq.  Personally, I think it was smart that he didn’t really go into why we went there.  No need to poke more fun at Bush.  He’s already a disgrace.  The “weapons of mass destruction” bit was a joke, and we all know it.  Well, not a very funny joke, more of a bittersweet painful joke that over 4,000 of our young men and women have died for.  But he didn’t bring that up.  It was smart.

He brought up what he knew people would criticize him for – bringing more troops into Afghanistan when he came into office.  People were already calling for withdrawal back then.  He says it was to counter a growing and regrouped Taliban effort.  My contention here is that whenever we do leave (if ever), the Taliban is going to come back into power because Hamid Kharzai is a crook who is pretty much saying that he is in bed with the Taliban.  He’s in bed with everybody who has sway in that country.  It is a problem that Americans aren’t addressing enough.

Obama says that sending more troops was a hard decision for him.  I should hope so.  But he also says that it was done with clear objectives in mind.  This is a good thing.  The goal was to help train Afghani forces in order that they might also be ready to fight.  Yeah, when Kharzai opens the front door and welcomes the Taliban in, they’ll be ready to fight.  Sure.  But the key part, the best part, is that the plan is now to begin drawing down our forces this July.  For many Americans, this is a good thing.

Over 1,000 men and women have died in Afghanistan.  The media has never really been able to get why we were there.  As Bill Maher put it, “and the media loses the thread too because when they get to that point, they show the video of terrorists training on monkey-bars.”  So after the intial withdrawal next month, troops are going to start coming home at a “steady pace.”  This is a good thing.

It really is about time that Americans leave those countries to their fate.  There was a rather inspired moment in the film Green Zone where the Iraqi citizen, Freddy said, “it is not up to you what happens here.”  That’s a rather profound quote in more ways than one.  For one thing, Americans do tend to believe that we should have some massive effect on the world.  The President also seems to believe that America needs to have an effect on global politics.  This is an interesting, albeit misguided viewpoint.  The rest of the world is going to be the rest of the world.  We can’t help how people in other countries are.

The greatest example of that was when we tried to get it so that Afghanistan has a new chief export other than poppies that make opium.  It’s a noble goal, but foolish.  That country is set in the way that it has run for probably hundreds of years.  The Middle East is a very odd place because it has a very old way of thinking in a very new world.

But honestly, the real and best reason that Obama is doing this – the economy demands it.  These wars in the Middle East are massively sucking capitol out of this country.  He even said that himself.  I dig that.  It’s a important for people to understand why things happen.  The economy isn’t in good shape right now.  The military is the biggest and most blown budget in this country.  A lot of liberals like Bill Maher have realized that the best way to help the economy right now would be to slash the military budget, along with other things.  This is a very strange time in American politics because the economy is almost a war in and of itself.

The President didn’t let this address think we had lost.  This is a good way to do it.  It was much the way that American left Vietnam, no as a failure, but in success, and having done the best that we can.  He did say that this is the beginning of things we are doing, not the end, which is a good point, since we are going to be there until 2014 at least (according to his estimates).

One point that Obama seemed a little too hopeful on was saying that the Pakistani goverment was going to help us keep up our efforts against Al-Qaeda.  An episode of Frontline had people who were involved in this, in the intelligence sector, saying that Pakistan has been wishy-washy about things from the beginning.  Sometimes they would give people up, other times they would withold information.  Not a good situation for America’s efforts to be in, if they wish to continue them.

After talking about the plan of our activity in the Middle East, Obama talks about the conflicting ideas of America’s role in global politics.  He said something which actually was kind of cool – how America needs to be pragmatic as well as passionate.  That’s a pretty cool way of viewing things.  And with our economy the way it is, that is definitely a way of thinking that needs to be continued.

What happens next?  Now that is a really good question.

Peace out,

Eli

The Difference Between Corporate News and Real News

Fox News has had a big event that they published on their network as being one of the major campaign hits against the liberals.  Fox News Sunday had Jon Stewart on their network.  It was an interview with Chris Wallace.  This was a pretty cool interview to watch.  Thank goodness somebody on YouTube had the sense enough to post the interview.  Part one is here.  Part two is here.  This was a great catharsis for those of us who believe in the genuine media that it is supposed to be.  For those of us who believe in real reporting, who believe that political commentary can be combined with getting all the facts, it felt good to listen to Jon Stewart bash all of the corporate news networks.

Jon Stewart had a great quote about what he believes 24-hour news networks exist for.

 24-hour news networks are built for one thing, and that’s 9/11.  And the type of gigantic news event that the type of apparatues that exists in this building and exists in the other 24-news hours is perfectly suited to cover.  In the absence of that, they’re not just gonna say ‘there’s not that much that’s urgent or important or conflicted happening today, so we’re going to gin up.  We are going to bring forth more conflict and more sensationalism because we want you to continue watching us 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  Even when the news doesn’t necessarily warrant that type of behavior.'”

A long quote, yes, but absolutely correct, and horribly brutal against the networks who do 24-hour broadcasts.  Sure, I get my political commentary from Keith Olbermann (so glad he’s back!), Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Lawrenece O’Donnell, but there is a reason that all straight news that this reporter gets is from BBC or PBS Newshour.  The major corporate media is not designed for the kind of news that isn’t in conflict, isn’t sensational.  Because let’s face it – the news is boring.  To most people, who don’t care two craps what happens in the world, news is not something fun.

Watch the BBC news or PBS Newshour and you’ll see for yourself.  The news is generally delievered in a monotonous way that doesn’t seem all that entertaining.  The talk in a very low-key way.  They do this because the bulk of information that matters isn’t sensational.  It’s important, yes, but it’s often dull.   Talking about politics can be pretty fun.  Finding the funny side of things is the reason that Jon Stewart has a job in the first place.  But it also needs to be taken seriously, which is how O’Donnell, Maddow, and Olbermann tend to treat it.  But the fact is that raw news is rarely a lot of fun.

You can drive in your car and have NPR playing, and most times, you won’t listen all that hard.  It’s not a bad thing to be that way.  It’s the way of the world.  You perk up and turn the radio up when something really catches your interest.  That’s how people work.  There are different things that interest different people.  But to even listen to something on a topic you like in the monotonous way that NPR reporters talk takes an amount of dedication and, I guess it would be patience, that the bulk of people in this country don’t have.  So, how does the corporate media make up for this?  They sensationalize.

Does anybody remember the backlash after Anthony Weiner was found out for having sent images of his junk to other women?  The media went off their nut about this!  Jon Stewart brought this up as an example.  After he decided to capitulate to the six-year-old (in spirit) members of Congress and step down, Nancy Pelosi was going to make a press conference.  Everybody from the major media organizations was expecting her to blast Weiner (I think the only reason people got upset about this is because the guy’s name is Weiner).  They thought she was going to come out with both barrels blazing.  And what happened?  She decided not to let the six-year-old American audience rule her, and talk about things that matter, like jobs, the economy, stuff like that.  Stewart asked Wallace what happened after she said that –

What did everybody do? (Stewart?)
Left (Wallace)

Stewart went on to make another REALLY good point –

The embarrassment is that I am given credibility in this world because of the disappointment that the public has in what the news media does.

Stewart went on the attack against Wallace, which was great.  It was great to listen to a guy who is openly a political satirist getting bitter and upset with being called biased.  He said that his bias first is comedy, next comes politics.  The problem with the corporate media like MSNBC, CNN, and Fox is that they go out of their way to make things exponentially bigger than they actually are.  Fox blew the Shirley Sharrod thing totally out of proportion.  Anderson Cooper on CNN has introduced stories in the most cataclysmic of tones that even his guests agree was nothing.  MSNBC has had Ed Schultz go off on tangents.  There is a reason that Rachel Maddow has such respect on that network – because she had an obsession with the fact, connecting dots, and getting the information to people.  I think she is the person who has done the least amoung of sensationalizing on MSNBC.

Stewart closed his interview stating that he has seen no significant change with how things are run in this country after the fall of this economy, which is a great point.

But the fact is that people believe that they are being given the correct news by the big corporate 24-hour networks, but they aren’t.  They are being given news that is sensational, and news that is often either blown out of proportion, or dumbed-down so that people won’t think about it too critically.  But people need to realize that that isn’t what the news is always, or in my opinion, even often, about.  There real reporters like my friend, Heather Aronno.  She did her first report on APRN today.  Here’s a link to it.  Check this it, it’s good stuff.  It’s fair reporting about a pretty nifty topic – teaching young people how filmmaking is done.  People think that all media is biased.  I agree, but not to the same extent that they believe it is biased.  I think true objective reporting isn’t possible, because nobody is completely objective, but I do also believe that the bias is not so big, and most reporters genuinely want to get all the facts, or as many as they can fit.

Peace out,

Eli

The Smart Are Doomed

This is a simple message.  It’s simple because it needs to be simple.  The bulk of people in this country are, well, dumb.  Really really dumb.  They are proud of their own stupidity.  This isn’t meant to be insulting, or at least, not just insulting.  This is meant to be something more.  This is meant to show that smart in this country, and perhaps all over the world, is doomed.  It is hardcore doomed because ignorance and stupidity are rampant in our society.  These things are massively outnumbering the intelligent, they are massively outnumbering the decent.  The youth of today are wondering if there is hope.  Probably not.

You gotta give credit to Ron Paul for one thing – as stupid as his positions are, at least he is honest.  He is brutally honest.  He isn’t like the other candidates like Michele Bachmann or Tim Pawlenty or almost all of the others for just getting on stage and rattling off what their constituents want to hear.  He is honest about what he wants to do.  He wants to roll back Roe v. Wade (and he wants small government, right?).  He wants to massively cut taxes, even though that has been historically proven to do nothing for the middle class.  He wants to get rid of regulation, which has been proven to be a disaster for the economy.  He is honest, or at least, I am pretty sure he is honest when he says he wants these things.  That is a really good thing about a really foolish candidate who wants really dumb stuff to happen.

But the bulk of Republicans, and really Democrats as well, are just posers who will say whatever they think will get them voted.  This is not what a smart person should do.  The fact is that intelligence and thought in this country are hopelessly attacked.  People are being told what to think, how to feel, about everything.  What’s more, true intellectuals are banished to the wastelands of American introjection.  People are forced to be on PBS (the only true intellectual network, which is more than anything the corporations have given us) and say their message to the very few that regularly watch.  The dreamers and the thinkers are not given a chance to get ahead, because they are forced to play that game of society, and society’s game is really dumb.

There was a guy yesterday who asked, “do you like giving money to other people?”  That says something about the modern Libertarian and Republican parties.  It says that the only reason that they don’t like taxes is because they are little and often much poorer versions of Scrooge, and don’t want to give up their cash to help anybody else.  The common counter to that is, “we don’t want to help lazy people?”  Well, guess what, if you help the decent people, you also end up sometimes helping some hardcore lazy people.  But Fox News doesn’t paint that picture.  The picture that is painted is that the government is your enemy, and you need to get your guns and protest and keep them away from your ill-gotten gains.  Such a worthless narrative.

Then there is this little nugget to your right.  This is a debate that is actually happening at my newspaper.  I write for this paper.  I love the job (which I am currently not getting paid to do, by the way, due to some problems) that I do there.  I am trying to reach out and make a difference.  I am hoping that I can reach out and help somebody become more informed, or at least get a giggle or two about something, because I do try and throw in a joke or two.  But this is the debate – whether Islamaphobia is justified or not.  Hey, can I answer this question?  NO!  No, you morons, it is never justified!  It is not a debate, it’s a moral question with a direct answer – NO!  It is never justified to hate a group of people.  You can hate what a group of people believes in, but you cannot hate all members of a group because they are in that group.  But the fact that this is happening at my newpaper says something – that people want to hear this kind of stuff, that people are so hopelessly dense that this is what interests them the most.  This isn’t a debate that should be happening, because there shouldn’t be people who honestly believe that bigotry is a good thing.

There are so many things worth debating about, like how to fix our economy that is going the wrong direction again.  Or we could debate how to get off oil dependence, since the conservatives seem to not understand that oil is a finite resource.  Another great topic would be debating if keeping drugs illegal is a smart thing to do (prohibition has never worked, but that is beside the point).  These are good things to debate, but what does my newspaper debate about?  They debate if bigotry is good or not.  And the answer to that is no.  It is never good.  Why McDonald believes that it is may be an interesting conversation, but honestly, it just looks like trolling, like he is saying something because he knows it will get a rise out of people.   Hate what an organization does.  Have intellectual discourse over a system of beliefs.  Don’t just hate a group of people.  That is the epitomy of stupid.

But the biggest example of how the dumb are going to win – reality television.  People actually enjoy it.  Really there isn’t much more to say than that.  If you enjoy watching Simon brutalize some hopeful, if misguided, kid who can’t really sing all that well, you are already part of that world.  A world of people who don’t think about the bigger issues, but just want to watch people, who in most shows, aren’t like typical people, be heartless, ruthless, back-stabbing, and overall unpleasant (I reference to anything that is on the E! network) are doomed.

The smart are doomed to fade away, because the people of this country don’t demand better.  You want something more to happen with humanity?  Make more of an effort to make being smart more popular than being dumb (I want to say I don’t think McDonald or Frazer is dumb, I think what they are talking about is dumb.  I have a real problem with their topics, which was the point I was trying to make).

Peace out,

Eli

Netroots Bloggers Asking Good Question: Where is the Obama We Elected?

So, my friend, and husband of the leader of the UAA College Democrats, John Aronno, went down to Netroots, which has been in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  For those of you who don’t know, the annual Netroots gathering is a big shindig of left-leaning political activists and bloggers.  If only I had the money, I would go down.  Oh well, c’est la vie.  In any case, John got to go and be a part of one of the most impressive events for left-wing politics.  This year has some pretty amazing speakers.  Sen. Al Franken is probably the really big one, and by far one of the best.  But today there was an discussion with one of the President’s closest aid’s, Dan Pfeiffer.  This was a pretty impressive dialogue, if you have the chance to see it.  There was an interesting hit made by one of Obama’s biggest left-leaning critics, a blogger named Kaili Joy Gray.

We’re all Democrats, and we all understand the importance of making sure Democrats are in power, but they might not turn out in the same way the did in 2008.  You know, some people are saying, ‘I’ll show up on election day, but I’m not gonna knock on doors, I’m not gonna make phone calls, I’m not gonna donate money.  So, do you need us?

When Pfeiffer replied, “absolutely,” she asked an even better question –

What are you going to do for us?

So far, Obama’s track record has, sucked.  That is the general consensus among the hardcore liberal community, or at least, most of it.  He has accomplished some things, but the bulk of his campaign promises were either hopelessly watered-down, or he didn’t deliver at all.  Gitmo is still open.  Instead of getting us out of two wars, we are now involved in three more.  Healthcare Reform was a joke.  Economic Reform was also a joke.  So when the liberal community asks, “where is President Obama?” that is a pretty fair question.

Amy Goodman, the lead reporter on Democracy Now echoed this sentiment on CNN today.  The big question really is becoming – where does he stand?  During the Bush Tax Cuts episode, when the Democrats wanted to fight it out, Obama turned on his own party.  He turned on the liberal community.  He even blamed us for what was going on, saying that we were holding the American people hostage.  This is not a good reputation that a person in politics in this country needs to have.  He has openly attacked the left base that he has because they don’t open all of their statements with his praises the same way the right does of Bush still.  The sad fact is that Obama has a very bad problem with his pattern of periodically turning his back on his campaign promises and his own base when it serves him.

Of course, those who support him say that these things are going to happen.  Yes, they aren’t happening now, they didn’t happen back then, when Congress was MUCH more in favor of the Democrats and it would have been infinitely easier to do.  Instead, his supporters just keep promising that that greener pasture is just over the hill.  One question that John King asked to an Obama supporter was, does he have a choice about the appointment of Elizabeth Warren.  What was even more interesting was that the guy said yes.  Really?!  Does this guy actually believe that his base is going to just ignore it if he decides to ignore Warren?  That’s crazy.  No, he doesn’t have a choice.  Because Elizabeth Warren is the best thing that the middle class has going for it right now.  If he passes over her, he can kiss 2012 goodbye, or at least a lot of his base.

Another cool point in the discussion with Pfeiffer was if Obama would support same-sex marriage.  Of course, Pfeiffer didn’t want to answer one way or the other.  Kissing butt is a lot easier when everybody likes you.  The President has spoken out against same-sex marriage in the past.  The survey that Gray referred to was actually found out to be a fraud, but she then countered – would he?  Same-sex marriage is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in this country.  The old bigotries are finally starting to let up in a lot of places.  In California, the fight is still going on, and still going strong.  It’s ironic that I agree with a Libertarian, but I do think the government should have no say in who is allowed to marry.  King said that Pfeiffer drew the short straw, but the fact is that Obama could actually come out and say he will support something.  It’s okay.  People in this country are actually pretty understanding, most of the time.

Amy Goodman is one of my favorite reporters.  Democracy Now is one of my favorite news shows.  She went back to the key point –

Well, I think the operative words that Cornell was saying is ‘gonna, he’s gonna do this, we think he’s gonna do this,’ but I mean he’s had a number of years right now, to fulfill his promises.

So often is the contention among Obama supporters that things are going to happen.  This was how he got into office in 2008, and apparently how he is hoping to keep his seat come 2012.  That’s not going to work, President Obama.  Sorry, but the fact is that it is not going to work to tell people who you have rebuffed and openly attacked that you will decide to come around and deliver.  He hasn’t delivered very well before, what will change?  He didn’t deliver back when the Democrats had a super-majority in both the House and Senate.  If he couldn’t deliver back then, what is going to change in 2012?  What if there are more Republicans in the House and Senate?  Say he wins and they have a majority in both houses?  What will he do then?  This question is valid – what happened?  How is history not going to repeat itself?

Can we get an answer, Mr. President?  Probably not.  Whenever somebody asks a politician these questions, they generally just feed the public a bunch of schtick.  I hope John is having fun.  I am actually having fun watching it all play out.

Peace out,

Eli

Republican Debates: The Latest Round of Conservative Farce

So, there were the GOP debates on CNN.  If anybody didn’t get to see it, you missed a good show.  As my friend John Aronno said on the Shannyn Moore show that he was subbing in on –

If any of you were playing the word game the night of the debates, as I was, and woke up feeling sick the next morning, you are in good company.

Those who were involved were Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain.  You couldn’t find a better rogue’s gallery for asking questions.  Even among the progressive community, people are still getting off on the idea of Ron Paul being president.  I will never understand why.  If that man actually, or rather, at least, understood the issues, then perhaps he would be a viable candidate.  But he is just another imbecile who says that he speaks for the Constitution, and people just get all dreamy over him.  Then there is Pawlenty, who looks way too much like a Ken-doll to be human.  There is someething so eerily disturbing about Michele Bachmann.  It is like she is not a real person.  The way her skin looks, it is like something stretched over a metal form.  She is the person that people see in their nightmares.

One of the word games that people could have been drinking to was tax cuts.  Another big term that could have involved drinking was Obamacare.  This goes to a larger point – that all Republicans pretty much sound like broken records.  Some have wondered why Sarah Palin hasn’t thrown her name in for the 2012 election.  Well, that is pretty simple, because she is much happier with her job as a conservative money-grubber who is leeching all the funding she can from every conceivable source.  From her appearances on Fox News, to her big rallies that she is paid over $70,000 a pop to talk at.  It was pretty clear that she doesn’t want to be an actual politician after she quit her job and pretty much told all of Alaska that they could just get lost.  But I am getting away from the debates.

If only a single conservative candidate had even the slightest understanding of how the economy works.  It is such a shame that the bulk of the American population is equally ignorant and stupid, then they might understand how ridiculous phrases like this are from Rick Santorum-

 What we need is an economy that is unshackled.  And what’s happened in this administration is that they’ve passed oppressive policy and oppresive regulation.

One should be very curious – how exactly is the market being oppressed?  It leads a person to think that people are almost slaves in this country these days.  Of course, Healthcare Reform was attacked by Ron Paul, the great zion of ignorance as being against the free market.  It never ceases to amaze how these people believe that bringing down regulation will make things all better.  Let’s ask Reagan how it worked out for him when he was the cause of a recession himself.  Of course, green energy is the enemy.  Oil is the friend of the Republican Party.

The moderator asked a good question – if lowering taxes solves the problem, where are the jobs?  Pawlenty didn’t answer it remotely, but that is no surprise.  It is the magic question that is never answered in a way that makes two bits of sense.  Spending cuts was something else that one could drink to and would have been completely smashed.  One counter that was given that Obama didn’t create the recession, but rather made it worse.  Yeah, except for all that improvement of the economy that happened while Obama has been in office.

Plus, where did this obsession with calling everything Obama-whatever come from?  There’s Obamacare, Obamanomics, Obamneycare.  What exactly does the conservative community hate so much about this guy?  There is always the idiots of the Tea Party who can rampantly accuse the President of being a genocidal maniac (see all the Obama-Hitler signs, anybody?), but that is just bigotry.  That makes sense.  That is a perfectly understandable (not good, mind you, but at least it makes sense) thought process, racist as it is.  But the conservative elements of this country seem just bent on making the President look as villainous as possible.  Maybe I am just wishing that the GOP would mature a little.  That’s a lot to ask, I know, but here’s hoping.

Of course, to justify their farce, the rattled off a bunch of figures about how many people are going to be put out of work because of “Obamacare” and all the legislation that he has ever passed.  Newt Gingrich apparently thinks that Healthcare Reform is some form of fascism.  For real, he believes that if you have the government legislating healthcare, they are suddenly going to start being thought police and controlling everything.  Playing to fear, anyone?

Then there was one guy who actually asked a question of merit – will the candidates not be swayed by the hardcore groups within the Republican Party and the Libertarian Party.  Finally, a decent question.  This is a good one, because Bachmann has sold out her entire political career to the Tea Party.  Rick Santorum didn’t bother answering, but just ego-stroked.  Bachmann defended her Tea Party masters and blame the media.  Cain said he would “surround himself with the right people,” which answered nothing.  This is how the Republican Party does things.  They don’t want to anger the Tea Party because they don’t want to lose the hardcore conservative votes.  But the problem with pandering to the hardcore bigots, as Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell found out, is that the moderates don’t buy your position later on.

The debates were a lot more involved than I could realistically talk about here without dragging on forever, so I’ll end this here.  If you want to see the entire bit, go on YouTube.  A user posted the entire event, from start to finish.  You can hear the entire farce for yourself.  Trust me, you will lost your faith in the Republican Party.  Those of us who think already knew they were garbage, but see for yourself.

Peace out,

Eli

Texas Sets a New Low

There comes a time in the life of every political commentator when one is forced to sit back and to rethink one’s position on the major issues surrounding the world.  Then there are other times when they are forced to wonder something even more important – how can I make fun of this?  Certain events that happen in this world are so hopelessly stupid that it’s just beyond the ability to be satirized.  It is beyond the possibility of being parodied in any significant way.  Some events are so ridiculous that to even try and make fun of them makes you look stupid for your efforts, because they are that dumb.

Governor Rick Perry, of the state of Texas, has finally decided to completely abandon rational thought of any kind, and go off the train of crazy into a different universe where humanity has even less sense.  He has announced an event that is going to happen on August 6, 2011, in Houston, Texas, where people will gather in a massive stadium and all pray for America’s problems to be solved.  He has said that these problems are just “too big” for people to solve, so he wants as many people as he can get, to come to the Reliant Stadium, to pray for America’s problems to go away.  He is basically saying that we should just abandon our human efforts to fix things, and instead just hope some supreme being does it.

Forget the fact that this flies in the face of the First Amendment of the Constitution of this country.  Forget that this is not the first time that he has done something like this (does anybody remember the Pray for Rain days?).  Forget that this is insulting to all the people of this country who aren’t Christian, who could be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, you name it.  Forget all the very good logical arguments against this for a moment.  Instead, think about this – how stupid is this?!  How ridiculously stupid is this plan and everything that it represents?

The GOP, or as Politicususa calls them, “God’s Own Party,” has been morea nd more embracing the radical Christian fundamentalist right-wing of this country.  It is no surprise that they are against women’s reproductive rights, for the military, or for having this country be recognized as  a “Christian nation.”  These things are all perfectly understandable.  They are ridiculous and unintelligible, but they at least make sense.  But this little day-long event is just the icing on the cake of the intellectually void nature that Texas seems to want to pass on.

I mean, read for yourself what Perry said about his event –

We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles. According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America

Does that seem like that statement of a rational person?  Since most of America is Christian, they probably agree.  But for those of the religious community who have some sense, this should be viewed as madness.  Perry isn’t just calling on the people of Texas to come together and pray for our problems to magically disappear, he wants all of America to come as well.  He wants the entire country, or as much as he can fit into his stadium, to be there to canonize giving the finger to the Constitution!

Honestly, one can’t be funny about this.  One cannot sit in a place and try and rationalize this kind of thing, because this is beyond any kind of humor.  Not only is this unConstitutional and annoying, it is just sad.  There are real problems facing this country right now.  And saying that we should just stop trying to make human effort and simply put all of this in the hands of a some invisible supreme being is just madness!  I’m not dogging on people who have faith, I am dogging on abandoning sense, and reason, and rationality, and the drive to make the world a better place.

Texas has a really bad history of having some really bad laws go down.  They have had laws making sodomy a felony, along with gay marriage.  Something so stupid and so bigoted that it hurts.  They have made repeated threats of seceding from the Union (if only they would.   Anybody want to take bets on how long before they came crawling back?).  As Bill Maher put it, “they wanted to be their own country, and perhaps they should have been.”  What else can you say?

What people believe in is their business.  That is a right given to this country that should never be contested.  As much as I have a problem with people who say that just because something is in the Constitution, that immediately makes it right, this is an area that I think should never be contested.  However, we also must recognize that coming out openly and saying that America is a Christian nation, and that God, the Christian God, is the only way our problems will be solved is insulting to everybody who has a different opinion.  And honestly, that is what the First Amendment was made to protect – the different opinions.

The mob has never needed protection.  The majority doesn’t need an Amendment to protect them.  The minority does.  The minority needs to be protected from craziness.  But people are ignoring the idea that people should be left alone if they believe differently.  If they believe in a different god than you do, leave them alone.  Telling the rest of the world that we are of one mind about things is a slap in the face of what this country was founded for – tolerance and acceptance.  Of course, don’t say that in Texas.  You’d probably get hanged.

Peace out,

Eli

The Weiner’s Weiner Debacle

If only we weren’t a nation of six year olds.  If only there could be a mature outlook on things.  But that would probably be asking too much from the American media.  After all, this is the country that spent months talking about Michael Jackson’s death.  We spent a week with the Reagan funeral.  Every time anybody who is well-known in this country dies, everybody has a minature freak-out, like death is just the worst thing.  Plus, we make a big deal out of everything.  It is only natural that the issue of Congressman Weiner’s weiner was destined to become a big deal.  And it was probably made a big deal because of the fact that we just want to combine words.  We say Weiner’s weiner and everybody gets a giggle.  Yeah, it is pathetic.

There was a very smart YouTuber named TJ Kincaid who made a brilliant point about this –

I think we only covered this because we all wanted to say WEINER!

I am of the same mindset.  This is all so pathetic!  So, Weiner decided to send a picture of his weiner to an attractive woman.  He admitted to the crime, and sure, it was not the smarted thing to do, but think about this – who cares?  There was an idea floating around about having Weiner go over to the GOP.  They could use a couple of straight guys on their team, since all they ever get busted with is guy’s getting caught with their Rent-Boy or tapping their feet under another man’s stall to signal that he is ready to go, sexually speaking.  But is this really the massive debacle that everybody is making it out to be?

The “family values” crowd (if only they actually knew what those are) are crying the blues about how Weiner has betrayed the voters of New York by sending pictures of his weiner to a girl.  Yeah, that’s just the worst thing that has ever happened.  The American people are consistently getting screwed by the White House.  We are consistently getting shafted by Congress.  At least with Weiner sending a picture of his weiner, there is a bit of honesty.

Of course, it was not a smart thing to do.  One unfortunate consequence of all of this has been that Breitbart, a bigot in the worst way (but like the Tea Party, don’t call him that!), has been legitimized by accusing Weiner of trying to hook up with a girl.  That is not a good thing.  Andrew Breitbart should never have a single person ever listen to him in a serious way, because after his little accusations that he made at Shirley Sharrod, he should have been shamed into obscurity by the American public for the bigot that he is.

Another problem is that this turns the eyes of everybody onto the Democrats, and is another attacking point that the Republicans can use.  Of course, when a Republican is caught with his pants down (so to speak), Fox News and the conservative blogosphere goes out of their way to make the story seem less like a big deal, but when a Democrat is caught sending a picture of his weiner to a woman, he is villified.  The nice little bits of hypocrisy that the Republicans and conservatives in this country have.

And the fact is that they are hypocrits.  Whenever some GOP Congressman is caught with his boyfriend, do the Democrats go absolutely crazy over it?  Does the liberal community just jump on the person’s bandwagon and scream about how they are an immoral monster and need to be taken away from society?  No!  They do not do that because the liberal and progressive parts of this country have a little something called “integrity.”

What’s more, it doesn’t focus on the problem.  People say that people like Anthony Weiner are the reason Congress looks bad.  That is a lie!  That is an outright lie!  Congress looks bad because they are clearly in bed with Wall Street.  They don’t even try and hide the face that they are slaves to the business interests of this country.  We can all look at Weiner and shake our heads, but we all know the truth – that Congress hasn’t been working for the American people in a VERY long time, and this major shift in the media’s attention to Weiner’s weiner is just sad.

Sam Seder, another very witty political commentator, had this to say about what is happening –

Bad new from Fukushima, in Japan, apparently, their Twitter is down and they can’t see the naked photos, or the chestless photos, of Anthony Weiner.”

This is so dumb.  There are things of real consequence happening in this world.  This comes back to the fact that the media just focuses all of its attention on absolute junk, while the stuff of real merit gets ignored.  Fukushima is in trouble.  Japan is a complete mess.  There is still a real problem in places like Joplin that were destroyed by tornadoes.  There is a lot that could be actually being talked about.  Instead, though, we have people who are just bored and don’t want to think too hard just reporting on something that they know will get people’s attention because there is a guy named Weiner sending pictures of his weiner.

Seder also made another good point – as long as he has broken no laws, what does this matter?  I mean, yeah, his wife will probably have a much different take on all of this, but that is between the two of them, is it not?  Is it not an issue between those two?  Why exactly does the American public need to know every minute detail of all of this?  Sure, Weiner is an idiot for doing this, and what he chooses to do next will be important.  If he resigns, that will be a blow to the liberal community.  But in the end, this is not the worse thing in the world, people!  There are a lot worse things than Weiner sending pictures of his weiner.

But saying that might upset the United States of Eight Year Olds.

Peace out,

Eli

Being PC

So, there is one major problem in modern society that one can address in a very professional way, because the fact is that this affects not only everybody’s personal lives, but also their professional lives.  There was a very interesting episode of Law and Order: SVU which addressed this problem in a very beautiful way.  It did so with some of the most amusing dialogue that has ever been on a Law and Order show.  The episode was called, ironically enough, “PC.”  For those of you who dont’ know, PC means Politically Correct.  This is a concept that has rather taken over modern society and made us all slaves to it, because people get really hardcore about it if it isn’t how they want it to be.

This stems for a deeper problem in modern culture – that you can’t get on anybody’s case.  The fact is that incompetance exists in the world.  While people don’t have to, and shouldn’t, criticize a person and use derogatory terms just because of that, they should be allowed to bring problems (that they interpret as problems) to light if they feel the inclination to.  That was guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.  While I have already written about how something being in the Constitution doesn’t automatically make it correct, it does make a lot of sense.

The fact is that people just go absolutely nuts over this.  And what’s more, it is kind of bigotry in and of itself sometimes.  Let me elaborate.  I hate bigotry.  More than anything else, it is the most detrimental aspect of modern life that we have to deal with.  It happens all the time.  It is widespread against the LGBT community (I am going to be coming right back to this initial, since I am talking about being PC).  It is still a problem in the black community.  It is a problem with every minority community.  So, it is not like we can ignore it.  The fact is that there is nothing worse of the health of a community than a bigoted group of people.

But there is also a side to this that people don’t really think about – PC bigots.  They exist, and in a very big way.  It comes up way too often in the modern world.  It isn’t politically correct to do this or that.  One great example that I have, that I take my cue from the aforementioned Law and Order: SVU episode is the initial for the LGBT community.  Last I checked, it is now seven letters long.  That is annoying in and of itself.  After five letters, unless it spells something pretty catchy, an initial is just too long.

But you can’t do that anymore.  If you don’t call it the whole initial, you are regarded in some sects as a bigot yourself for not calling it the entire initial.  That is not only ridiculous, it is unfair.  What’s more, some of the more “politically correct” terms seem even more offensive than the terms that the were replacing.

Granted, we have terms that were genuinely sexist and needed to be replacted.  I have no problem with the fact that the term “flight attendent” came up in place of “stewardess.”  Or that “office professional” came up in place of “secretary” (Although, we don’t call the person the Office Professional of Defense, now do we?).  That makes sense to me.  Then there are those that were demanded.  Like how the term “retard” is not acceptable at all to called a mentally handicapped person.  Those are terms that it is not only good that we came up with different terms, it was necessary.

But think about this – there are other terms that it is almost ridiculous that they came up with other uses.  Like the term “little people” for fore-shortened peoples.  If you ask me, that sounds even more offensive than the other terms.  Think about this – when you hear the term “dwarf,” doesn’t that make you think about Gimli from Lord of the Rings?  I mean, I heard dwarf and I think that some dude is about to whip out an ax and stick it in an Orc’s face.  That sounds cool!  And the term “midget” may not be all the good, so instead, call them “hobbits!”  But in all seriousness, that term does indeed sound more offensive than the other terms.  Not to mention, from a medical stand-point, there is a very big difference, and it needs to be remembered.  Not as a bad thing, but as just another concept that people have to live with.

I get why this is such an issue with people.  Discrimination and bigotry is not a good thing.  And there are plenty of instances that.  There are a lot of sexist terms that have been gotten rid of in our modern vernacular that needed to go.  But it goes so much further than that.  When people start judging you personally for the fact that you don’t use a word, that completely blankets over who a person is as a person.  A person like myself who doesnt’ want to use the complete now-seven word initial for the LGBT community just because it is way too long to remember is not a bigot.  I am just a person who is horribly impatient, and not particularly happy with being told that I am a bad guy because I don’t observe every single little nicety of human interaction.

And the fact is that most of these changes in modern vernacular are made to please a small group of people who are just really angry.  This is not advocating for not listening to the minority, for certain, but there are instances when people just wish to make trouble just to make trouble.  And nobody can deny that that happens.  But the fact is that if everybody is too worried about saying the wrong then, then nobody is going to say anything.  And every once and a while, it is necessary to say what isn’t exactly culturally kosher.  Not always, or probably even often, but people have to keep their minds open to the thought.

Bigotry is wrong, we can all agree on that, but let’s not go off telling somebody that they are a bigot just because of the fact that they don’t like a seven-word initial that doesn’t spell anything or roll of the tongue.

Peace out,

Eli

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