Monthly Archives: August 2010

Obama In Primetime

Obama is set to address the nation in a few minutes about the “end of combat operations” in Iraq.  I have no expectations for this speech but the neocons certainly do. They and the Republicans want to hear Obama praise Bush for the surge, but ignore the fact that the war should not have been fought in the first place. My guess, which is not a stretch, is that the Republicans will not be pleased no matter Obama says tonight.

Now that I think about it, I hope he at least strikes a positive tone and does his best to help Americans feel like no matter what our problems (both foreign and domestic), there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He especially needs to do this regarding the economy, which I assume he will also mention during the speech, which is starting now.

7:01 – Obama starts about the end of the war and the difficulties faced during this last decade, but that the future is “ours to shape”.

7:03 – Talks about how the war escalated and how the military served bravely and did everything that was asked of them. Because of them and others, Iraq has a chance at a brighter future.

7:04 – Announces end of combat operations and security control to be taken over by Iraqis. Touts this as a promise he made in campaign (Republicans will love that).

7:05 – Iraqi forces taking it to Al-Qaeda and urges Iraqis to form an inclusive government soon.

7:06 – As per agreement, all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by end of next year.

7:07 – Warns that violence will not end, but terrorists will not take control of Iraq.

7:08 – Ending war in our interest too because of the huge price we have paid, but it is time to turn the page.

7:09 – Time to turn the page here at home, too. He spoke to G.W. Bush earlier today and acknowledges their disagreement, but says that there were Patriots who supported the war and Patriots who opposed it.  Still must continue our fight against Al-Qaeda.

7:10 – Though questions remain about our presence in Afghanistan, we must remain to wipe out Al-Qaeda and prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

7:11 – Surge in Afghanistan meant to be temporary and to give them space to establish security on all fronts. Troop withdrawals will begin next August because Afghanistan must take the lead in helping themselves.

7:12 – Limitless possibilities of out time: adversaries at peace, global marketplace, emerging democracies as allies, push to end poverty, and a desire to expand freedom and opportunity to all people. But it starts at home.

7:13 – Our influence abroad depends on strength at home, which starts with a prosperous middle class. Spent trillions on war borrowed from overseas and for too long have put off tough decisions, resulting in middle class families working harder for less.

7:14 – Must tackle our domestic issues with same urgency seen as those who fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

7:15 – Start with economy through education and new technologies and markets. Must take care of our veterans with health care and education (new post-911 GI Bill).

7:17 – Ends with story about the last brigade to leave Iraq and the sacrifices made by them and their families.

7:19 – “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state.”  They give us hope and reassurance that better days lie ahead.

My first thoughts are that the speech was more of a downer than I was expecting, and I am not sure if the uplifting nature of his last story hit as intended. Substantively, it seems clear that Obama is eager to get both of these wars behind him, but was careful to assure Iraq, Afghanistan and supporters of our presence there that we are still committed to those two countries’ struggle for peace and prosperity. I thought his patriotism line regarding the Iraq war was good. I’ll leave it at that.


Cheney Worldview

This piece in the Washington Post illustrates how hawkish the right-wing has become and how moderate it makes W. appear.  The story highlights how the neocons, led by Liz Cheney, are blasting Obama and the state department for sending an Imam to the Mideast to talk about life in America for Muslims.

The funny thing is that the Imam was first chosen by George W. to do the same thing.

Tax Breaks

As a “blogger”, I know simply directing readers to a chart on another person’s blog is not really blogging, but this must be passed on.

If you clicked on the link you saw a chart created by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which clearly shows that Republican tax cuts (extending the Bush tax cuts) would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest Americans and add billions to the deficit.

I will only add that which should be obvious to everyone, but sadly is not, and that is that Republican policy in no way represents the economic interests of working and middle-class Americans, or at least not any more than Democratic policies do.

And Republicans are fiscal hypocrites.

Facts, not opinions. Yeah, I said it.

Let Us Play Fantasy Football!

It is that time of year again. Time for grown men and women to live vicariously through their chosen football players and compete for ultimate glory!  Only, you know, for pretend.

I kid, fantasy football is fun and this year will be better. Why, you ask? Because I am creating a keeper league that will have a player auction rather than a draft.  A keeper league entails keeping one or two players you select (in the case of an auction, buy) for the next year.  The auction works as follows: rather than take turns drafting, participants go in order nominating players for auction; the player is then available to the highest bidder.  On the Yahoo fantasy auction, each participant has $200 to buy a team (all fake though, no real money needed!) so “strategerie” is needed.

Anyway, I have never been in a keeper league or been in an auction so this league need not be for super-competitive players. It is open to anyone who wants to play so long as you will at least make sure your team is set each week, respond to league related emails and are available for a live auction.

I have created the league and will send out invites to the first 11 people who respond. I currently have the draft time set for this Saturday at 12 CST. That time and date is just a place-holder and I will push it back to accommodate the participants.  I am trying to figure out the keeper aspect of the league and hopefully it will work out.

I await your responses.

Teachers: America’s Enemies, Cont’d

Rather than acknowledge that she has been busted or apologize for her physical expression of condescension towards that teacher in Alaska, Palin is attacking the “lamestream media” for spinning the story.

There is nothing to “spin” because her actions speak for themselves.  One would have to be delusional to say that her reaction to the woman saying she was a teacher was not negative in some way, whether it be condescending, dismissive or worse. I don’t know, maybe Palin deserves credit for being unwavering in the face of criticism. But come on, what nerve to blast all of us for seeing what is so clear in that video and expressing our disapproval. How dare we!

I am mad at myself for thinking that this was a time when she would have to own up to something because the evidence seemed irrefutable.  Alas, Palin plays by her own set of rules and that is what is troubling about her. If she dislikes teachers, whatever. But to pretend, as she does, to speak for them or any other “average or real American” is what is so troubling to me. She is a fraud that has managed to hoodwink a very large chunk of society.

I know it is easy to dismiss her because of how ridiculous some of the things she says and does are, but we take her for granted at our own peril (I think she will run for president). We should take our cues from and elect leaders that are smarter, more mature and more responsible than the average Jane or Joe, and not people who are appealing because they say things like “Jeez”, “Shucks” and “You Betcha!”.

We have already elected an actor president; do we really want a reality TV star in the White House next?

Teachers: America’s Enemies

I just saw the clip below featuring Sarah Palin talking to a critic in Alaska and I am overwhelmed.  Forget the incredibly moronic things Palin says in the clip, which is nothing new from the woman who continues to butcher the English language, but it is her eye-roll at the 1:10 mark at the critic’s statement that she is a teacher that really gets me. Check it out:

Her antics would be humorous if she were not looked at as a serious political force and a role-model for so many.  That a person in this country would be so adored despite showing contempt for intelligence and now, apparently, teachers, is astounding! Last time I checked, teachers were not getting paid much to do a public service that is demanding but ultimately, vital to our society. I know our education infrastructure is damaged, but maybe it is because when times get tough education is one of the first places we look to for budget cuts when we should be investing more in education (for an analysis of educational spending, read this, but note that I, like its authors, know it takes more than just money to fix the system). And remember, our public schools are open to any child of any learning ability of any sex, race, income level, religion or whatever, and many of our parents could not afford private schools so privatization alone would not work.

And I know I may appear biased as a teacher, but even if I were not a teacher, I would say the same thing.  But honestly, how can any reasonable person have contempt for someone because they are a teacher?

But Palin is just the latest far-right conservative to do what the most conservative of the Republican party have been successfully doing now for a generation: demonizing educated people as being somehow out of touch with “real Americans”. But who is the one out of touch?

One one side you have Sarah Palin: She quit her job as governor to write books, earn $100k+ to speak in public, criticize our President (imagine if he quit to do what Palin is doing) via twitter and Facebook, and have a segment on Fox News and now a reality show, all of which have made her a multi-millionaire. On the other side you have the teacher: Even in Alaska where teacher salaries are higher than in most states, she does not make in a year what Palin makes for one speaking engagement (in the video you notice she says she has other jobs, too; do you think Palin can relate to that?), she actually has to work for a living to make her money and she does not have cameras following her around to help fatten her wallet.

If you are still not sure who is out of touch, ask yourself this: Which of these stories more closely resembles your own? The only America Palin stands for is the one that believes that you can quit your job and shirk your responsibilities and still make it rich, or that you can make it rich by appearing on a reality TV show so you do not have to be a contributing member of society.  There is definitely a feeling in this country that this is a way to go, and this is the path Palin has chosen. Get rich while not really trying.

Ironically, she pretends to speak for the rest of us that have to work hard to make it, that struggle to pay for health care costs and gas, food, electricity, etc., that at any moment could find ourselves in serious financial straits if we lost our job. If you have ever been on a reality TV show or are filthy rich, by all means, Sarah Palin is your “average Jane”.  For me, I will take the teacher, the auto worker, the social worker, the fry cooks, waiters, bartenders, baristas, sales persons, etc., who bust their ass to make a living and get less and less to show for it, while the wealthiest people (like Palin) keep raking in the cash.

What is worse is that so many of “us” buy into Palin’s bullshit story. She has crafted this bullshit narrative (and she probably knows it, too) to appear as a representative of the common man or woman, the “mamma grizzlies” and such, and yet, it is a farce that is getting her rich.  Why do we not know better than to believe in this charlatan?  Maybe it is because we do not value education as we once did and are now to dumb to know when we are getting duped.

Anyway, if Palin and the most extreme conservatives had their way, there would be no public schools, free lunches, or anything like that because there would be no government, or at least, no real functioning one. If you want a glimpse of what this country might look like without hard-working, dedicated teachers and a functioning government, take a look at this:

Domestic Violence

There has been some discussion recently about a controversial video for an Eminem song featuring Rihanna that addresses the issue of domestic violence (DV).  The video features Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie from Lost) as a volatile couple whose relationship teeters on the edge of something explosive.

I suspect some of the controversy stems from the subject matter addressed in the video, while some feel that the video does not go far enough in denouncing domestic violence.  After watching the video I wonder if the people who will most likely watch it (teenagers and young adults) understand its subtlety. I don’t mean that to be condescending, it is just that there is not the “violence” that most people associate with DV in the video, and certainly nothing that the video’s other singer, Rihanna, experienced that led to her assault at the hands of Chris Brown.

As the Salon article linked to above suggests, the video could be interpreted by some as depicting nothing more than a fiery, passionate, and sexy relationship. But make no mistake; the actions by the two characters in the video is still a form of DV and there is nothing there for young men and women to aspire to. I am not sure if the intention of the video’s creator was to show that not all DV involves physical assaults and that sometimes the fear of that happening is enough to make for an unsafe and unhealthy relationship, but I hope that message comes through.

Domestic violence is a big problem that I will not even bother trying to get statistics for because it is so underreported that any statistics would be inherently speculative.  And one reason why it is so underreported is that the legal remedies available to survivors of DV lack sufficient power.  For example, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued an opinion in 2005 stating that a protective order (think restraining order against an abuser) does not need to be enforced by law enforcement.  In the case, a Colorado woman tried contacting the police to enforce the order after the father of her children had taken the kids, but the police did nothing and the man ended up killing the children.

If it seems ridiculous to you that the court could rule in this way given those facts, I feel you.  The woman sued the police department, which is what prompted the case to reach the SCOTUS, but the court ruled that there was no monetary value in a protective order so no one can sue the police for failing to enforce one. Basically, this means a protective order is meaningless unless a survivor is lucky enough to live in a jurisdiction where the police make preventing and dealing with DV a priority.

Even without this case on the books, enforcement of such orders was left to the whims of local police who may or may not care about DV.  Throw in prosecutors and judges who are reluctant to seek out and punish abusers and you can see why survivors of domestic violence would feel so afraid to come forward (not to mention the fear of retaliation from the abuser); if the entities a survivor is supposed to seek out for protection are incapable or unwilling to protect, why bother? It is a terrible tragedy that does not get nearly enough attention.

With that, I will leave you with this article about the usefulness of protective orders and with the aforementioned Eminem video for you to watch and make your own judgments about.