Archive for GOP

Santorum & The Evil That Men Do

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Politics, Religion, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2012 by halmasonberg

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.” –Blaise Pascal.

It seems almost daily that I read another comment or another statement steeped in fear and hatred uttered from the lips of Rick Santorum, self-proclaimed Christian and American moralist. I do, thankfully, realize that Santorum does not represent all of Christianity and its followers, but he does represent a portion of them. Keep in mind, though he is currently at the bottom of the heap, he is still, as of this writing, a GOP presidential candidate in a playing field whittled down to four contenders. This means there is a large enough portion of Americans who share his views, his intolerances, his fears, misunderstandings and judgements of things that, well, any good Christian would normally leave up to God and not assume upon themselves.

Sadly, as Mr. Pascal once pointed out in the above quote, religion has spurned some of the most vile hatred and suffering known to man. And I think it’s rather easy to assess by the goings-on in the world today, that some things have not changed. Unfortunately for any forward-thinking individuals, men like Rick Santorum represent a part of society terrified of change. And, one could easily come to such a conclusion, of themselves.

Part of me feels sorry for men and women such as these since their lives appear to be made up largely of running away and holding on to the past with such desperation as to exhaust themselves of all humanity. Ironic, given that they claim to represent the most compassionate and forgiving of all beings. But this is in words only. Actions tell a very different story. The pain and suffering brought on by men like Rick Santorum is immeasurable, and it is considerable. Make no mistake, lives will be lost while others trampled. All in the name of one who is no longer here to protect his good name and teachings.

The bright side to all of this is that at least Santorum’s particular brand of bigotry is now out there for all to see. And those easily swayed toward his proclaimed “solutions” are no longer hidden from public view to boil and swell beneath the surface. They are out there where we can confront them, and ourselves, in the bright light of day. Good things will come from this in the bigger picture. It’s a step forward. Like a detoxing of the American psyche. We may feel a bit ill while we’re going through it, but hopefully we will come out the other side healthier and happier. If we choose to tackle it.

As for how we got where we are in the first place, well, history is full of men like Santorum. Perhaps the recent study published in the latest issue of Psychological Science explains part of it.

“Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.”

As one who does not believe in God in a traditional sense (therefore a heathen and going to hell in the minds of many), I have always assumed that it took a level of non-thinking to allow oneself to so completely abandon reason and take the words and teachings of the bible and, not only accept them as literal, but to allow oneself to become swayed by the interpretations of such texts by those with ulterior motives. However, I do not believe all who believe in God to be less educated or less intelligent than those who do not. But there is a certain ilk that have always been ready to take to the streets to express their intolerance of others; those who would kill, maim and damage their fellow man in the name of their God. A God of love? A God of vengeance? Which is it, then?

What are we supposed to think when Rick Santorum tells you that contraception is “not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”?

How things are supposed to be. If Mr. Santorum believes this, then he is free to refrain from the use of such tools and activities. But when he believes his beliefs should be law… This should be of great concern. Santorum warns of fascism and socialism and why you should be afraid… But nothing endangers freedom more than men and women who think like Rick Santorum. His beliefs suggest the ultimate form of fascism.

When Rick Santorum tells you what marriage is, he presents it as fact, as indisputable evidence.

“Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was. It’s like going out and saying, ‘That tree is a car.’ Well, the tree’s not a car. A tree’s a tree. Marriage is marriage.” 

“It’s like handing up this and saying this glass of water is a glass of beer. Well you can call it a glass of beer, it’s not a glass of beer, it’s a glass of water. And water is what water is. Marriage is what marriage is.” 

“I can call this napkin a paper towel, but it is a napkin. Why? Because it is, what it is.” 

But what Santorum is really saying is that this is what marriage is for Rick Santorum. And therefore it should be for all others. By law. Like it or not, there are those who do not share and were not raised with Mr. Santorum’s limited definition. And we are Americans, no more or less so than he is. Just as Santorum’s God is not everybody’s God, Rick Satorum’s definitions and interpretations are not everyone’s. Nor should they be. That would be similar to asking a nation to publicly mourn the death of their beloved leader, Kim Jong Il, even if they did not, in fact, love him or mourn his loss. And then imprison those who did not either mourn publicly or mourn sincerely. Is that the America Santorum’s followers envision? Because if it’s not, then they best rethink their stance and support of such an individual. Or is that low IQ getting in the way of reasoned thought again?

“[Marriage] is an intrinsic good … we extend certain privileges to people who do that because we want to encourage that behavior. Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.” 

What he means is that such a relationship does not benefit Rick Santorum. I’ll tell you right now that he does not speak for me. Same sex marriages have benefitted me in my life and my world, the kind of society I want to live in. And it damn well benefits same-sex couples who are (guess what?) members of this society. Again, what doesn’t benefit Rick should not benefit anyone in Santorum’s world view.

“Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.” 

Once again, these may be things that Rick Santorum chooses not to engage in, but he is not in a position (no pun intended) –and it is the point of this write-up that he should not be– to tell others what sexual activities they should or should not be doing where two consenting adults are concerned. But Santorum’s answer to that would be:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” 

The truth is that consensual sex in the home does NOT make polygamy or bigamy or incest legal. It DOES, however, allow one (or two or three or four…) to engage in certain sexual activities that some other folks may find startling, offensive and even a little off-putting. It seems, however, that even a healthy and imaginative sex life is off-putting to Mr. Santorum. When you allow a man like this to tell you what you can and can’t do in bed… But Mr. Santorum disagrees:

“The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions — I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we’re seeing it in our society.” 

The world Rick Santorum envisions has more in common with the Crusades than it does with the teachings of Christ. And like many other religious zealots before him, Santorum will fight to ensure HIS way of life at the exclusion of all others:

“The battle we’re engaged in right now on same-sex marriage, ultimately that is the very foundation of our country, the family, what the family structure is going to look like. I’ll die on that hill fighting.” 

Rick Santorum is too mired in his own fears, fear of change, fear of reality, fear of difference, fear of things he wasn’t taught, fear of things he doesn’t understand, fear of the dark and the unknown. And it has turned him into a man mired in hatred and intolerance.

“You can say I’m a hater. But I would argue I’m a lover. I’m a lover of traditional families and of the right of children to have a mother and father. … Isn’t that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?” 

Marriage, he fails to point out, as Rick Santorum sees it. And Santorum’s “logic” is no better than claiming the KKK doesn’t hate blacks, they simply love white supremacy. No, even science, the ground beneath his own two feet, the air he breathes, and the very planet he lives on is not enough to convince Mr. Santorum that the world may not always be the way he wants it to be. The way he so clearly needs it to be.

“I’ve never supported even the hoax of global warming.”

In Rick Santorum’s world, there are no other valid points of view, no other opinions of note, no other interpretations than his own. Rick Santorum would fight to make his beliefs your beliefs. All the while pointing out the dangers of others. And if he gets his way, when the time comes and he has passed from this world, you will mourn his death. Whether you want to or not.

The Adolescent Feet-Stomping Of The GOP

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by halmasonberg

Like spoiled little children throwing a tantrum, the GOP, who for months not only resisted working with Democrats to create a genuine Health Care Reform Bill but actually spread outright fear-based lies about it, are now showing exactly what they are made of. And it’s more than frogs and snails and puppy dog tails.

Today, the GOP decided to enact a little-known Senate rule that states committees can only meet when the chamber is in session with the unanimous consent of all members. The result? A GOP refusal to work past 2PM for the past two days now.

That’s surely a good thing for the people of this nation. Just like blocking Health Care Reform was.

So what kind of an effect has it had so far? Well, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) had to cancel her oversight hearing on police training contracts in Afghanistan.

Couldn’t have been too important anyway.

Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy’s (D-Vt.) committee had to delay consideration of several judicial nominees.

It can wait, right?

Ask Leahy, whose response to the GOP’s new tactic was as follows?

“For months, Senate Republicans have resisted efforts to enact important reforms to our health insurance system. But when the dust settles and the emotions are calmed, history will show that President Obama and this Congress responded to a pressing national issue, and proved once again that we can act with the purpose of advancing an important national interest. Sadly, actions like today’s objections from Senate Republicans to the consideration of a highly qualified, historic nominee will be viewed as little more than petty, partisan politics.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Spokesperson, Jim Manley, also added:

“For a second straight day, Republicans are using tricks to shut down several key Senate committees. So let me get this straight: in retaliation for our efforts to have an up-or-down vote to improve health care reform, Republicans are blocking an Armed Services committee hearing to discuss critical national security issues among other committee meetings? These political games and obstruction have to stop — the American people expect and deserve better.”

But what does any of this matter? I mean, so Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee wasn’t able to continue his discussion on the effort to end veteran homelessness in the next five years.

So what if there are an estimated 100,000 veterans going homeless in America every night? What did they ever do for us?

It’s nice to know our country is in the hands of good, quality adults with the nation’s best-interests in mind. Maybe, if we’re really good, they’ll try and take back Health Care coverage from the over 30 million who just qualified.

The Disgusting Joe Lieberman

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by halmasonberg

Picture 3Few politicians have disgusted me as much as Joe Lieberman. As both a Democrat and a Jew, I have found myself consistently ashamed to have anything seemingly in common with this man. And though we may share a religious/cultural upbringing, I do not, in fact, subscribe to Lieberman’s religious beliefs as I do not follow any traditional belief system, nor do I believe in god in any traditional sense of the word. I also do not consider Lieberman to be a Democrat. Regardless of what he calls himself. Perhaps he is a Democrat in the pre-Roosevelt sense of the word, but in any contemporary definition, he is extremely conservative and much-aligned with the Republican Party. His actions during the last presidential election are proof enough, though the rest of his career, both previous and since, supports this claim.

And now the disgusting Joe Lieberman once again aligns himself with the party he claims NOT to be a member of. Lieberman stated today that he would join a GOP filibuster to prevent voting on Health Care if a Public Option were to be included. Once again, this man turns his back on both his party and all that it stands for. The public option is just that: an option. It is not a replacement of the current system of privatized insurance. But it would give the American people another choice of health care while keeping costs down across the board. So why do you think Mr. Lieberman is opposed to this notion? It shouldn’t take you long to figure it out. But while you’re thinking about it, let me just mention that the insurance industry is rather heavily concentrated in the Senator’s home state of Connecticut.

Lieberman has also stated that he would oppose Republican Senator Olympia Snowe’s suggested compromise of the public option to be slowly triggered into effect. Yes, kids, Lieberman may be the single individual who keeps the public option from coming to pass. His vote may be the one vote Democrats need.

Strangely enough, Mr. Lieberman has voted on three separate occasions to STOP filibusters on bills he opposed. So what has made him such a strong supporter of a filibuster on this particular bill?

Mr. Lieberman claims his reasons for attacking the Public Option are his fear that it would be costly to taxpayers, drive up insurance premiums, involve cost-shifting to private plans, create an entitlement, increase the national debt, and put more of a tax burden on taxpayers.

Oddly enough, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the option would, in fact, SAVE money for the government upwards of $100 billion over 10 years. It would also cost taxpayers NOTHING as it is set up to be financed by individual premiums. So where does Mr. Lieberman derive his fears from? The same fears that should have been put to rest ages ago? No, there’s something else at work here. Wonder what it could be…

Did I mention that he is also opposed to the suggested notion of an opt-out version of the public option wherein individual states can decide to opt-out of offering the public option after one year if they don’t like where it’s going. Hmmm… That seems like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it? If your fears come to pass, put a stop to it immediately. If they don’t, then all Americans get affordable, top-quality health care and insurance premiums go down and less people die.

But Mr. Lieberman’s not willing to even give it a try. And why would THAT be? Perhaps, it may be fear that the plan might actually work. And then who loses? The insurance companies insomuch as they don’t make quite as much money (though they would still make trillions) and Mr. Lieberman’s wallet may shrink somewhat in the process (though not enough to endanger his estate).

As for Lieberman’s other concerns… According to Next Hurrah, Daily Kos, and Huffington Post blogger  Marcy Wheeler:

63Now, there’s the possibility that if the public option was set at Medicare +5, there might be cost shifting, if you ignored challenges to that claim, if you ignored the way insurance companies will game the system to push high cost people into the public option, and if you ignored the many other ways the insurance companies will be cost shifting themselves once this system is set up.

But everything else Lieberman said is horse puckey. He is either completely ignorant about health care works (unlikely, for a Senator from Connecticut). Or, he’s lying his ass off as to his rationale.

I’m leaning toward the latter…

GOP Out Of Touch With The World. Again.

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2009 by halmasonberg

Picture 7Well, it was just a matter of seconds before the GOP babbling mouths starting spewing all the reasons why Obama doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s just be thankful they’re not the ones handing these puppies out each year! From their comfy little perches, they expectedly criticize Obama and the Nobel Committee as if they, themselves, had a clue as to the kind of positive change Obama represents to much of the world.

Ignorance worn as a badge of honor.

Rush Limbaugh:

“This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama. And with this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States… They love a weakened, neutered U.S and this is their way of promoting that concept. I think God has a great sense of humor, too.”

“Something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn’t deserve the award.”

“The Nobel gang just suicide-bombed themselves.”

Statement from the Rebulican National Committee:

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’

“It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain — President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

Bill Kristol:

Obama will be kicked out in 2012, based on the fact that the Soviet Union collapsed a year after Mikhail Gorbachev won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Glenn Beck:

Obama doesn’t deserve the prize, but the Tea Party protesters do. He credited an “extraordinarily powerful” global progressive network for bagging Obama the win.

RedState’s Erick Erickson:

“I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota,”

“I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota.”

Neocon John Bolton:

“Obama should decline the prize.”

National Review’s John Miller:

“Obama isn’t the first American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he’s the first to win it without having accomplished anything.”

National Review’s Mark Krikorian:

“The prize seems not just premature but embarrassing. This just reinforces the Saturday Night Live meme that Obama has done nothing. This really might be his Carter whacking-the-bunny-rabbit moment.”

National Review’s Andy McCarthy:

“The prize is already damaged goods because Yasser Arafat once won it.”

The Democratic National Committee response?

“The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize,” wrote DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. “Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim.”

That it is.

Rep. Joe Wilson Of S.C. Calls Obama A Liar During President’s Speech To Congress

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2009 by halmasonberg

s-JOE-WILSON-largeAnother South Carolina politician who just can’t control himself. GOP Rep. Joe Wilson of S.C. yelled “You lie!” at Obama in the middle of the President’s Health Care speech to Congress earlier today when the President mentioned that the legislation he was proposing would NOT mandate coverage for illegal immigrants.

For the record, the non-partisan organization FactCheck.org has debunked the claim that health care reform would mandate such coverage.

Immediately following the President’s speech, Sen. John McCain stated that Wilson’s outburst was “totally disrespectful — [there's] no place for it in that setting or any other and he should apologize immediately.”

And so Wilson did:

“This evening I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks regarding the coverage of illegal immigrants in the health care bill. While I disagree with the President’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable. I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility.”

Well, I certainly hope that in addition to his apology, Mr. Wilson makes another public statement detailing exactly how the President has lied so that we may determine whether or not Mr. Wilson’s proclamation, one which he clearly still stands behind, is truthful in and of itself.

It does feel a bit like the pot calling the kettle black to me as many on the conservative side of the aisle have been spreading misinformation at an alarming rate about Obama’s health care plan.

And perhaps Mr. Wilson and Mr. Sanford could get together to discuss how best to control their destructive urges and stop embarrassing South Carolina before having to deliver public apologies for their misbehavior becomes the state’s norm.

Watch Mad Hatters Gather For GOP Tea Party

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by halmasonberg

Here’s a video taken at a recent event organized by the 9-12 Project. Watch as at about two and a half minutes in, a man starts rousing the small crowd. The Huffington Post describes the scene:

“In the early 50s our country was infiltrated by the communist party,” he says, calling the Obama administration the culmination of that infiltration. “They’re doing everything they can to brainwash our public…This thing they’re putting on our TVs,” he says, presumably referring to digital cable converters, “it’s a brainwash unit!”

As his speech winds down, he exhorts his listeners to get their kids “the hell out of college. They’re brainwashing ‘em!”

The anti-school message resonates with one woman.

“Burn the books!” she yells from off-camera. The surprised camera man asks if she’s serious, and which books she’d burn. “The ones in college, the brainwashing books, like the evolution crap.”

Wake up, Dormouse!’ And they pinched it on both sides at once.

The Dormouse slowly opened his eyes. `I wasn’t asleep,’ he said in a hoarse, feeble voice: `I heard every word you fellows were saying.’

(The Huffington Post wants to have citizen journalists at as many of the April 15 tea party events as possible. If you’re interested in attending one of the protests and reporting back to us with dispatches, photos, or video, click here to sign up. We’ll contact you shortly with further instructions.)

 

Rachel Maddow Addresses GOP Tea Bagging Craze

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , on April 11, 2009 by halmasonberg

Ahhh, the GOP just gets crazier and crazier. I thank the introduction of Sarah Palin to our nation for making it okay for the lunatic fringe of the GOP to step up front and center and demand to be heard. Rachel Maddow doesn’t miss a beat as she addresses the insanitea of this new right-wing, um… tea-bagging craze…

GOP Stomp Their Feet At Banker Salary Caps

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2009 by halmasonberg

00000000012It seems the GOP are making a ruckus in response to President Obama’s proposed compensation cap of $500,000 for executives at banks that take taxpayer bailout money. GOP members claim this is “unAmerican”. Senate Minority Leader Jon Kyl (R-AZ) commented:

“Because of their excesses, very bad things begin to happen, like the United States government telling a company what it can pay its employees. That’s not a good thing in America.”

Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) added:

“What executives have done is troubling, but it’s equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) huffed and puffed as well: 

“[I am] one of the chief defenders of Obama on the Republican side,” but “as I was listening to him make those statements [about executive pay], I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?”

Well, let’s be clear here. President Obama is talking about placing salary restrictions on those individuals who are taking government bailout money that they need due to their own extreme excesses. These people and their businesses are responsible for tanking the global economy. We’re not talking about putting salary restrictions on businesses that don’t need or want the bailout money. Since when does the government hand out money WITHOUT restrictions? Welfare recipients? 

Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post writes:

“We demand that welfare recipients do an honest day’s work for their checks. And now, since President Obama laid down the law Wednesday, we demand that the guys who ran our banking system into the ground abide by our pay scales in return for our bailing them out.”

The government requires welfare recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to undergo regular drug testing, spend time doing government approved activities and show near-constant documentation of continuing compliance.

Meyerson continues:

“After all, what’s the moral distinction between welfare recipients and the wizards of Wall Street, other than that the welfare recipients aren’t the ones responsible for tanking the global economy?”

However, Republican Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is one GOP member who agrees:

“I think it does apply to that. People are livid about these big bonuses and if the groups want to take government money it seems they should be able to have some limits on these bonuses.”

“If they don’t need it, don’t want it, fine. Don’t take it.”

Republican Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who didn’t like the idea at first, finally came around after hearing more details of the Obama’s proposal:

“You know what? I think I’m for that. I don’t disagree with what he’s doing.”

Quote Of The Week: GOP Hitman Roger Stone Regrets Bush

Posted in Favorite Quotes, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by halmasonberg

img-bs-top-sarlin-stone-174_061744447265Roger Stone, according to thedailybeast.com, “has had a hand in everything from Nixon’s dirty tricks to Eliot Spitzer’s resignation to spreading discredited rumors of a Michelle Obama ‘whitey’ tape during the 2008 Democratic primaries.”

However, the biggest feather in Stone’s cap was the “Brooks Brothers riot” of the 2000 election recount (wonderfully recreated in Danny Strong and Jay Roach’s HBO film RECOUNT). Stone led a massive group of pro-Bush protesters to intimidate the Miami-Dade County election board and succeeded in stopping the recount and, many would say, gave George W. Bush the White House. 

So it’s fascinating to hear Mr. Stone’s reflections on that event today:

“There have been many times I’ve regretted it. When I look at those double-page New York Times spreads of all the individual pictures of people who have been killed [in Iraq], I got to think, ‘Maybe there wouldn’t have been a war if I hadn’t gone to Miami-Dade. Maybe there hadn’t have been, in my view, an unjustified war if Bush hadn’t become president.’ It’s very disturbing to me.”

Conservative Thoughts: Uncovering The Soul Of America

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2008 by halmasonberg

It’s so easy to forget that not all people who ascribe to any particular political party, ideal or belief all think alike. During these past 8 years of Bush/Cheney, it’s been hard to keep that in mind as so much of what I personally value about this country was threatened. Some would say Bush’s intentions were good, but his decisions were bad. Others would say he had a personal agenda and simply lied to get what he wanted. I have no way of knowing where the truth lies, but I do know that I felt increasingly like I had found myself in a country I no longer recognized. Sure, most of the people around me shared my beliefs and fears, but I live in Los Angeles, a liberal city, and work in the entertainment industry–as an artist, not a businessman. So my experience of what people think and what they believe based on my personal experience does not very likely reflect the majority of this country.

When President Bush got reelected in 2004, my heart sank and a tangible layer of hope and optimism was stripped away; I no longer had faith that Americans as a whole could recognize what was happening to them; that our ability as a nation to be self-aware, to learn from past mistakes, had eroded. Or never existed at all. 

But this election has given me a renewed sense of hope. And not just because I believe Barack Obama might move this nation toward a vision of America I personally share. I’ve seen too many politicians come and go, too many promises forgotten or pushed aside. I know that, even though Obama is unquestionably the most exciting candidate to come along in my politically aware lifetime, he could prove to be “just another politician.”

No, what’s renewed my hope and optimism is the McCain/Palin campaign. That’s right. McCain/Palin. To my mind, Sarah Palin was a supremely irresponsible choice for running mate on the part of John McCain. Though I understood the initial attraction so far as changing the political game by tossing in the unexpected and stealing some of your opponent’s thunder, I felt it would be a disaster for the country if she were to get elected. Initially, upon watching the Republican base embrace this woman, a familiar dread began to stir inside me. 

As I continued to watch John McCain toss aside many of his own beliefs throughout this campaign, as I watched his desire to be president take him down paths I thought quite disturbing, I feared I would once again be in the minority and that I would end up in that Twilight Zone where no one seems to see what’s going on. But as John McCain’s campaign became uglier, nastier… as he himself showed us a man straining and failing not to come across arrogant, condescending and angry… As Sarah Palin proved over and over again that she was nowhere near ready to represent the best America had to offer, people started speaking up. And not just people like me, not just liberal Democrats who knew without question which way they were voting early in this campaign, but conservatives, Republicans, military personnel, political advisors, on and on… They too saw what was happening and began speaking out, voicing their concerns, sharing their thoughts. And so they started coming out against the candidate who represented the party that most closely epitomized their ideals and vision of America. Not because they had lost faith in the party, but because they realized that the man and woman heading the call of that party no longer represented them; they had gone to a place that was so clearly damaging, so obviously rooted in something other than the best interests of this nation, that to deny that would be to allow this country to slip deeper down the dark chasm it has been sliding down for eight long years. Only this time, the world was in an even more dangerous, even more vulnerable place. And so was America. 

On October 20th, conservative diplomat, political writer, and policy analyst, Ken Adelman, came out for Barack Obama. Or, more precisely, against John McCain. Adelman was once an advisor to President Reagan and the Assistant to United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was initially a big supporter of the Iraq War. In the most recent edition of THE NEW YORKER, Adelman discusses his reasons for not supporting John McCain:

Ken Adelman

Ken Adelman

“When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure. Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate. That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.”

In his article today in the Huffington Post, Adelman stated:

“I’ve considered myself less of a partisan than an ideologue. I cared about conservative principles, and still do, instead of caring about the GOP.

“Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

“McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

“I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

“Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be.

“That’s become good enough for me — however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.”

In yesterday’s online edition of NEWSWEEK, ex-Bush official Nicholas Burns also came out against McCain and Palin. It should be noted that Mr. Burns, now retired, was the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs within the Department of State, the highest-ranking American career diplomat. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate by President George W. Bush in 2005. Here is what he had to say:

Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns

“Are McCain and Palin correct that America should stonewall its foes? I lived this issue for 27 years as a career diplomat, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Maybe that’s why I’ve been struggling to find the real wisdom and logic in this Republican assault against Obama. I’ll bet that a poll of senior diplomats who have served presidents from Carter to Bush would reveal an overwhelming majority who agree with the following position: of course we should talk to difficult adversaries—when it is in our interest and at a time of our choosing.

“The more challenging and pertinent question, especially for the McCain-Palin ticket, is the reverse: Is it really smart to declare we will never talk to such leaders? Is it really in our long-term national interest to shut ourselves off from one of the most important and powerful states in the Middle East—Iran—or one of our major suppliers of oil, Venezuela?…

“The real truth Americans need to embrace is that nearly all of the most urgent global challenges—the quaking financial markets, climate change, terrorism—cannot be resolved by America’s acting alone in the world. Rather than retreat into isolationism, as we have often done in our history, or go it alone as the unilateralists advocated disastrously in the past decade, we need to commit ourselves to a national strategy of smart engagement with the rest of the world. Simply put, we need all the friends we can get. And we need to think more creatively about how to blunt the power of opponents through smart diplomacy, not just the force of arms.

“Talking to our adversaries is no one’s idea of fun, and it is not a sure prescription for success in every crisis. But it is crude, simplistic and wrong to charge that negotiations reflect weakness or appeasement. More often than not, they are evidence of a strong and self-confident country. One of America’s greatest but often neglected strengths is, in fact, our diplomatic power. Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya in September—the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five decades—was the culmination of years of careful, deliberate diplomacy to maneuver the Libyan leadership to give up its weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism. She would not have achieved that victory had she refused to talk to the Libyans…

“Rather than default to the idea of using U.S. military force against Iran, wouldn’t it make more sense for the next American president to offer to negotiate with the Iranian leadership?…

“The next U.S. president will have little chance of securing peace in the Middle East if he doesn’t determine Iran’s bottom line on the nuclear issue through talks. Similarly, there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel if we don’t support the talks underway between those countries…

“The next president needs to act more creatively and boldly to defend our interests by revalidating diplomacy as a key weapon in our national arsenal and rebuilding our understaffed and underfunded diplomatic corps. Of course he will need to reserve the right to use force against the most vicious and implacable of our foes. More often than not, however, he will find that dialogue and discussion, talking and listening, are the smarter ways to defend our country, end crises and sometimes even sow the seeds of an ultimate peace.”

We are still a young country. We are still trying to understand and define the soul of America. Who are we? As a nation? As a people? Are we destined for greatness, or are we to be yet another example of greatness gone awry, misled? Are these just growing pains, or is it a death rattle?

The process of that discovery is fraught with hardship and loss, with changes and growth both exciting and terrifying. It is a painful path, an uncertain path, a demanding path. But a path that if taken with eyes and hearts wide open, with a desire for self-awareness, self-criticism and self-respect, then America may just find its soul and learn to nurture it. And I believe the whole world would be a better place for it.

Someone once told me the closer you get to achieving your life’s goals, to becoming the things that you are most compelled to be, the more monsters and demons will rise up to stop you. And many of those monsters and demons will be of your own making. I have found this to be true. Both in my personal growth and in watching the growth of this country, both historically and presently. I hope we can face those monsters together and find ourselves, one day, on the other side.

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