Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Thoughts

:: I don't have the interest in going into the GOP's "Pledge to America." You don't even have to have read it (and sadly, I did read it) to know what a pile of shit it is. It's a bigger fantasy than Newt Gingrich's Contract with America was. I just wanted to mention the most obviously intellectually dishonest part, which is the pledge to cancel TARP without mentioning that Cantor, Boehner and Sessions all voted for it. So much for accountability.

:: President Obama to Rolling Stone: "If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we'd better fight in this election." Or, you know, we could have a president who doesn't keep invoking State Secrets and extending warrantless wiretaps and allowing federal raids on war protesters' homes...

:: President Obama and his aides also need to stop comparing themselves to Lyndon Johnson. Word on a lot of the political sites I follow is that the White House is genuinely shaken up by the "enthusiasm gap" because they think they've achieved a level of historic legislative success comparable to LBJ. Obama has said that he thinks he's accomplished 70% of what he promised in his campaign. He seems to be genuinely angry these days that the base isn't kissing his ass enough because of what he seems to think he's accomplished. (And the problem is, for the most part, he really does seem to get a free pass, even though he's actively killed the public option, made a lot of capitulations to big business, and failed to keep the unemployment rate around 8%, which is what he and his economists kept claiming the stimulus was going to do.)

I think Obama needs to stay away from such comparisons, lest he be reminded that Johnson also escalated an unpopular war while interfering in bordering countries in secret, and became so unpopular that he didn't run for a second term.

I think the cult of personality that's been clouding Obama's actions since before his presidential campaign started has been dangerous. And I think he really hates the "professional left" for not just helping him to sell his health care "victory"--his word for conceding to Big Pharma and the insurance corporations everything they wanted--as a major legislative achievement, and blaming it all on Republicans.

And if Obama really had guts, he'd address these criticisms instead of just being dismissive about it.

:: President Obama signed an executive order sanctioning Iranians who "share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran." Or, as Secretary of State Clinton put it, officials who were in command when Iranian citizens were "arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed." This order was signed because the Iranian government had "ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses."

The thing is, it's very easy to sign a piece of paper saying you condemn human rights abuses when they're committed by someone else. It's not like there's any power that goes with it, except cutting off business relations with Iran. So how about American officials who arrested, beat, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed foreign nationals over the last 8 years? Any word on that?

Of course not. This country loves its human rights abuses as much as it hypocritically loves to make hollow condemnations when others do it.

:: So, the same week BP's Oil Commission alleged that the White House deliberately downplayed just how bad the oil disaster was, Obama announces that he's lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling? What exactly is his strategy here, especially this close to the midterm election?

:: I need to talk about DADT and the recent string of gay teen suicides, which sometimes seems like it's just not going to stop.

First, this DADT crap.

This is an injustice. It always has been. It is a halfhearted compromise with a nasty, rotting core: legislated homophobia. It is legal discrimination meant to coddle those with hate in their hearts for those who are different.

Finally--finally--a federal judge ruled that this was unconstitutional, and made a very, very clear case as to why it was. An injunction was issued against DADT. 21 senators wrote to President Obama begging him to let the ruling stand.

Strategically, it's a no-brainer for Obama. If he wanted to finally energize the base and possibly win back the gay voters who are leaving him in droves over his broken promises on civil rights, all he had to do was let the ruling stand. The country is overwhelmingly against DADT.

Obama has been pretty fond the last couple days of saying "DADT will end, at it will end on my watch."

But it's another one of his hollow statements when he's got the Justice Department appealing the ruling.

Obama has so far been a failure on DADT. He tried to do the bipartisan thing, acted surprised when it didn't work, and he's now saying that he can't sign an executive order to suspend DADT (meanwhile, he's got executive orders and signing statements every day). Instead, he thinks it's a big deal that the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are committed to changing the policy. But it's isn't a big deal. They work for you.

He's also saying that the Senate has the votes to repeal DADT, but they don't: we tried this less than a month ago, and it failed.

I just don't understand what the president's message is on DADT. He says he's opposed to it, but doesn't act to end it. He says he's going to end it, but tells the Justice Department to appeal an injunction declaring this legalized discrimination unconstitutional. The Justice Department is also appealing the ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. He even has an injunction that he can hide behind and just let the rights fall into place, and he doesn't do it.

The fact that there is even a debate over whether or not we can legally consider homosexuals people with all the rights of every other American is absolutely disgusting to me. And for all of Obama's grandstanding about what he's going to do, he doesn't seem to be addressing it at all except to coddle the 20% of the country who thinks there actually should be a debate.

Meanwhile, we have these stupidities like White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who sats that Justin Aarberg, a gay teenager who committed suicide, "made a lifestyle choice." Keep in mind that this woman is the closest adviser to the president on LGBTQ issues and she's talking about the suicide of a 15 year-old. That is horrifying.

I firmly believe that what's happening right now, with so many gay teenagers being bullied into suicide, is fallout from all of this. We have DADT. DOMA. Prop 8. National discussions on gay adoption and gay marriage. Legislative discrimination against gays. The government is sending a message that it's acceptable in this country to hate and marginalize other Americans, and so we have teenagers who are enacting that same prejudice in their lives.

This is literally a matter of life and death. It is not a theoretical debate about abstracts.

Of all the ways Obama has disappointed me, this is the one I will never forgive him for.


Jake said...

By putting the onus on the Senate to overturn DADT, Obama is giving Democratic senators/senatorial hopefuls ammo to attack their Republicans opponents. I agree with that but what I don't understand is why those dems aren't USING IT! That's what boggles my mind.

Kal said...

Maybe Obama would be less pissed at the lack of enthuusiasm coming from his base if the democrats actually knew how to sell their successes to the people. They are such wimps when it comes to playing hardball that it extends throughout their message. They can't frame an issue like the republicans can and that will always hurt the gains they could and should be making from the positive things they ARE accomplishing.