US Refuses to Sign Cluster Bomb Ban

Nations began signing a treaty banning cluster bombs on Wednesday. 100 of the 192 nations in the UN are expected to sign, with non-signing exceptions such as China, Russia and the United States. I don’t understand why we are so reluctant to sign the ban- After all, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians, 27 percent of those being children. Cluster bombs are essentially lots of little bombs packed into artillery shells, bombs and missiles that shoot them out over a large area in order to cover more ground. However, some of the bombs lie dormant for years, and they are all too often deactivated by unsuspecting children who are distracted by their unfamiliar shape and bright, toy-like coloring, much like land mines.

In the US, scientists and weapons experts work every day to develop new ways to kill. I find that reality repulsive, but if we are working on new weapons all the time, why would it be harmful to ban a more outdated, clearly less accurate method such as cluster bombing?

Despite these statistics, the US refuses to sign the ban. Weapons such as cluster bombing or (God forbid) nuclear warheads desensitize us to the raw humanity of war- with the push of a button, one person can end the lives of thousands or even millions of people, and maim countless others. I don’t believe humans should have that kind of power, but that is the reality in which we live. Because all it takes is the push of a button, for some people, it seems like a “cleaner” war- but the truth is that war is never “clean.” The fact that the US is so reluctant to sign a ban that could potentially save that 98 percent of innocent, civilian victims is disgusting and yet entirely typical of our overly hawkish foreign policy. If our President can look someone in the eye and tell them that he is willing to take responsibility for that 98 percent of unecessary casualties, it demonstrates his lack of thoughtfulness and chilling insensitivity- another reason I hope the door of the White House hits him on the way out.

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Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 1:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Third “Red Scare”

The liberal-hating witch hunt has begun, courtesy of McCain-Palin ’08.

But this isn’t the first time Republicans have appealed to the mob-forming instinct of a certain sect of low-information voters. Let’s think back to a time of poodle skirts and greased lightning…

In 1950, Sen. Joseph McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of intense anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War. He claimed that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government and elsewhere. During this time, referred to sometimes as the “Second Red Scare,” many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning. The primary targets of these suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. In other words, liberals.

On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman called for a movement by the media to investigate liberals (or “extreme leftists,” as she put it) in the Senate and Congress to see whether or not they were “Anti-American.” The new robo-calls by the McCain campaign accuse Barack Obama of being friends with people who “kill Americans.” I have now seen multiple Republican politicians refer to liberals and, more specifically, Barack Obama, as “Anti-American.”

So will someone please enlighten me, poor, unrepentantly “leftist” gal that I am, as to how eliminating women’s right to choose, sending AMERICANS to die for a war based on exaggerated evidence, creating a healthcare plan that ignores the plight of those who can’t afford health insurance, inciting radical right wing mobs under the slogan that the Democratic opponent is “palling around with terrorists” when that “terrorist” (singular) is now repentant, rehabilitated and an advocate for social reform, is “pro American”?

But clearly, these Republican politicians I’ve mentioned don’t believe in rehabilitation and reform. If they did, they’d try it with our country.

Palin-Land: What GOP Feminism Means for America

Somewhere, Susan B. Anthony is turning over in her grave.

 

It’s insulting that the McCain campaign would try to appeal to female voters by nominating a woman who is radically antifeminist. During her career as mayor, Palin approved a law that makes rape victims pay for all forensic and medical exams after they have been raped. What kind of barbarian makes women essentially pay to be raped?

 

Palin believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned (although, when interviewed, she said she believes there is an implicit right to privacy in the constitution). What kind of backwards society would Palin’s America be?

 

We can be certain, given her record, that we would see an even more intolerant, unsupportive America for women. The Bush administration this month is quietly cutting off birth control supplies to some of the world’s poorest women in Africa. They, along with the world, are turning a blind eye to the fact that without birth control supplies, these women have an increased chance at dying in childbirth- a chance that is already 1 in 10. If Palin thinks nothing of making rape victims pay hundreds of dollars after they are raped in the town of Wasilla, Alaska, then what would stop her from continuing to ignore women’s rights on a global scale? The last thing Palin needs is a wider sphere of influence.

Palin has strongly encouraged an abstinence-only sex education curriculum because of her belief that birth control is a form of abortion. The United States has double the amount of teenage pregnancies as Canada, largely due to our backwards idea that abstinence only sex ed will work in 21st century America. Palin’s solution for the abortion problem is “a more supportive community for teenage mothers.” Does she forget that under Democratic presidents, there are statistically fewer abortions because of increased funding and attention to sex education? Apparently. We can be sure that, in a McCain-Palin administration, the needs of women will continue to be ignored and a retrograde attitude towards teenage pregnancy will continue to be held.

McCain didn’t think it was important to choose a qualified female nominee. When asked about Palin’s knowledge, GOP advisors say that being knowledgeable “isn’t her function” and proceed to talk more about “exciting the base.” If her job isn’t to be knowledgeable, then what is it? To be a more attractive alternative to a furry elephant mascot? In effect, McCain chose a female running mate because he thinks women are stupid enough to vote solely based on gender and that nobody will pay attention to the fact that their “feminist” candidate is no more a feminist than Sen. McCain himself, who has consistently voted against progressive laws for women’s rights, including equal pay for equal work.

One could argue that the VP choice shouldn’t decide the election- the presidential candidate should. I agree. But what does it say about John McCain that he would nominate a woman who, if given the power, would reduce women’s rights to what they were in 1920?

No one who votes for a McCain-Palin ticket can call themselves a feminist, because they would knowingly be voting into office a candidate who (just like her running mate), would turn back the clock on women’s rights if given the power- and she’d do it with a wink.

Biden, presidential? “You betcha!”

World, please don’t wink at me, say the words “betcha,” “ain’t,” “darn,” or stare at me unblinkingly with a bemused, brainwashed-looking smile. If, however, you absolutely insist on making a hillbilly caricature of yourself in my presence, I may have to resort to physical violence to preserve my sanity. Last night’s cringe-inducing responses from the clearly unqualified Alaska governor Sarah Palin made me want to vomit, especially given the knowledge that she may be (God forbid!) President one day.

While Joe Biden gave strong, substantive, specific answers debunking the “maverick” myth, the “we’re reformers” myth, and the “we’re not like Bush” myth with a forceful but calm delivery, Palin transformed herself into a cartoon. The fact that she believes she can appeal to mainstream America by dumbing everything down is an insult.  Sarah dear, you can “say it ain’t so” all you want, but it’s fairly obvious that you have only a tangential grasp of policy at best, and that you were very well trained by those GOP ideologues that gave you those flashcards to practice with.

It’s interesting that now, Obama/Biden looks like the “safer” ticket to vote for, with the McCain/Palin ticket looking like a risk, which it is.

While Palin didn’t trip, start weeping, or throw her frameless glasses to the ground in frustration, she most certainly didn’t do well. Let’s look at this analytically: If Palin were a man, and if she hadn’t just had an incredibly embarrassing week, pundits would be tearing apart her performance en masse like my fat chihuahua tears apart my old beanie babies.

It’s clear which candidate looked ready to step in for the president if need be. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the folksy cliche machine otherwise known as “Hockey Mom,” “Maverick,” or “Joe Sixpack.”

Liar, Liar- Will it Backfire?

For someone who claims to want to take politics out of the current bailout plan, John McCain was able to put politics right back into the equation. First, like a schoolyard bully, McCain practically dared Obama to be as “take charge” as he is. By that, I mean John McCain tried to take control of his dwindling poll numbers by looking like an altruist. America, don’t be fooled. John McCain called our economic state a “crisis” last week- yet it was only when the new ABC poll (in which McCain was 9 points down) was showed, that he decided to “suspend” his campaign.  He managed to do several network interviews and spend some time at home, yet somehow an actual substantive debate is tacky when the economy is crashing and burning. When McCain went to Washington, he didn’t make the bailout a shining example of bipartisanship as he promised- rather he walked in on an already bipartisan agreement, introduced a very partisan new idea, and proceeded to undo the past six days’ work within a couple hours. At the comedic farce that was his meeting with Bush this morning, McCain spoke just once and only for a couple minutes. Did he redeem his lack of input with a stunning, “maverick” style new idea? Of course not.

In short, John McCain put his own potical gain over the very real needs of our country. But never fear, McCain has Sarah Palin to lean on. She knows a thing or two about the economy- As governor of Alaska, she saved money by making women pay for rape kits!

As Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel said- in the name of progress, he stalled it. he claimed to take politics out of it and put politics right back into it.

As I said- Liar, liar.

Palin’s Speech: Three Troubling Remarks

1. “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”

This was slap at all those who work hard to build up communities from the bottom up. Often working in inner city areas, community organizers teach local leaders how to lead and improve their community when politicians just aren’t getting the job done. I’m sorry, Sarah, but the paltry 616 votes you received to be elected mayor don’t make you better than Barack Obama. I’m sorry that, in your book, the Iditarod races are more important than helping the disadvantaged get healthcare. While the first portion of the RNC was supposed to be about service, I guess that was purely political, then, since you so blatantly mock it?

2. Palin also said that the war in Iraq is “a task from God”

……Are you kidding me?

3. “Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America, and [Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

When more than half of the men and boys -some as young as fourteen- detained at Guantanamo Bay as suspected terrorists and tortured for years by US officials were eventually released without charge, there may be a reason for having those most minimal of rights accorded to suspects after all.

Sarah: This is democratic nation, not a fascist regime.

“I’m an Older, Whiter Obama.”

McCain’s speech last night was a strange speech. Whoever wrote the speech did a terrible job, because it made McCain look unenthusiastic about his own candidacy. He isn’t known for his oratorical skills, but the speech lacked any overriding theme that could serve as an argument for the Republican “cause,” and it featured a few choice lies about his political record and that of Sarah Palin, as well. McCain wants to be seen as a lobbyist-bashing, reform minded Conservative, when in fact a lobbyist wrote his economic policy, he voted with Bush 95% of the time, and he is willing to adopt the very economic policy he once criticized as being “unfair to the middle class”. “Straight Talk”? Please.

The speech can be summarized like this: “I will change Washington by fighting against the special interests. I will fight for you. I will fight for America. We’ll all fight, fight, fight. Change is coming. It’s time to change politics as usual. It’s time to lessen the influence of the lobbyists in Washington. Fight, fight fight. I’ll never stop fighting for you because I’m a fighter. I remember a Latino man from Michigan…”

OH MY GOD! IT’S BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON’S LOVE CHILD!

Political Ambition First. Country? Not So Much.

During the entire Republican Convention, not once was the plight of the increasingly polarized condition of our economy mentioned, but the Iraq war was called “a mission from God.”

While Sarah Palin tried to paint Barack Obama as a celebrity who stands for nothing and scorns small town America, she avoided ever talking about how exactly a McCain/Palin administration would, as she put it, “Shake up Washington.” Here’s how they really plan to instigate “reform”:

1. the Global Gag Rule, a measure to cut funding of aid organizations in developing nations if they so much as advise women on birth control, will be made permanent. This shows how out of touch McCain and Palin are, because one of the keys to making a developing nation developed is to help with population control and to empower the women of that country. Don’t worry, Sarah, I’m sure God would approve a woman’s use of birth control if it would mean that she wouldn’t bear a child who would almost surely die of starvation or disease.

2. The Bush economic policies would remain in place. As McCain vowed, “I will not let the Democrats overturn the Bush tax cuts.” Like Bush, he will pour billions of dollars into tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations. While trickle down economics has worked in the past, it certainly hasn’t been working for the past eight years, and to promise that everything will be different when everything is, in fact, the same, is just misleading. While you could argue that everyday people will end up paying more for consumer goods if the large corporations are taxed more and hike up their prices, big corporations are much more able to absorb taxes than everyday people just trying to get by. If you want to see an increase in the price of consumer goods, just look at what we have now. It is NOT working and will not work even if a different crusty old man implements it.

3. Pretending that a McCain Palin ticket is going to be better for the environment than an Obama Biden ticket is utter nonsense. Palin herself denies that humans are the cause of climate change and openly disputed the US government’s own findings so that drilling could occur in Alaska. Palin and McCain’s “let’s scorch the earth first” agenda is not going to help us in the long run. The idea that gas prices will go down if we drill is misleading because oil companies can still raise prices, and knowing them, they most definitely will.

4. If McCain really supported the troops, he would have supported the GI Bill. There’s a reason that deployed soldiers support Obama 6:1. Why? Because they know he cares about them enough to give them the benefits they deserve. Obama won’t, as McCain did, argue that the GI bill should be based on how many years someone is overseas. If someone is there a month and is maimed for life while another is there for three years and nothing happens, how is the person who was there a month not deserving of a guaranteed college education? Alternately, if you need to keep Americans in Iraq for 3 or 4 tours of duty on the threat that if they don’t, they won’t have college guaranteed, then what does that say about the level of public support for the war? Clearly, not enough people want to enlist, because they know that they’re not fighting to safeguard American freedom. Yet again, McCain shows how out of touch he is with the realities of our military situation.

5. calling diplomacy a “failed policy” as McCain did when referencing talks with Iran proves that he will continue the same “We’re America, Dammit” approach to foreign policy. Do we really want to see more news coverage of American flags burning on foreign streets? We need to view ourselves not only as the world superpower, but as one of an international community that is more interdependent than ever before. Barack Obama will accomplish this.

So go ahead, Sarah, talk about being a hockey mom. I get it. You’re normal. But that’s all you proved to me last night. If you and McCain really wanted to help this country, you would have talked more about how to implement the “reform” you speak of, not exhibit the various ways in which you can pander to the uninformed but enthusiastic crowd at the RNC.

Palin Completely and Utterly Unqualified, Scholars Say

(the following was written by David Mark and Fred Barbash at Politico)

“John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.

Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.

It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first woman candidate on a major party ticket.

“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” said Dallek of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”

And Alaska is a much smaller state than Illinois, the political base of Barack Obama, whom Republicans have repeatedly criticized for being inexperienced, having served nearly four years in the U.S. Senate after eight in the Illinois state Senate.

“Not to belittle Alaska, but it’s different than the basket of issues you deal with in big, dynamic states.” Dallek said.

Palin has no experience in national office. Before becoming governor in December 2006, she served as a council member and mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which had a population of slightly more than 5,000 during her time in office.

Brad Blakeman, who ran the 1988 Republican convention for GOP nominee George H.W. Bush, turned the experience question on its head, suggesting accomplishments in office mean more than time accrued.

“Here’s a governor who may have served two years, but her accomplishments are worth eight,” said Blakeman, citing Palin’s work as governor on ethics reform and an Alaska oil pipeline. “She’s got as much experience for being vice president as Barack does to be president.”

But other students of presidential history said that In choosing Palin as his running mate, McCain has reached back to a time when few actually seriously contended that the vice president should be demonstrably prepared to assume the presidency from day one.

If elected vice president, Palin would appear to have the least amount of experience in federal office or as a governor since John W. Kern, Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s 1908 running mate, who had served for four years in the Indiana state Senate and then four more as city solicitor of Indianapolis. The Democratic ticket lost to Republican standard bearer William Howard Taft and running mate James S. Sherman by an Electoral College spread of 321-162.

More conventionally in modern times, running mates could boast decades of experience in Washington, from ballot box winners like Dick Cheney, Al Gore, the elder Bush and Mondale to also-rans such as Jack Kemp, Lloyd Bentsen and Joseph I. Lieberman.

These super-credentialed candidates were sometimes chosen, like Joe Biden, to shore up the resumes of candidates with little or no time in Washington, such as Jimmy Carter (Mondale) Bill Clinton (Gore) and Michael Dukakis (Bentsen.)

Palin, on the other hand, is a total “wild card,” said Stanford historian David Kennedy.

“If she had been around for two terms as governor — or been a senator — it would have been an incredible choice,” said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Who else could he have found who appealed to the conservative base … and as someone who was a reformer?”

That’s not to say Palin will be a dud on the campaign trail.

But out-of-the-box picks in recent years have not usually worked out too well for the top of the ticket. Consider independent candidate Ross Perot’s 1992 running mate, former Navy Adm. James Stockdale, who famously asked at the vice presidential debate with Gore and Quayle, “Who am I, why am I here?”

“He took the wind out of Perot’s sails, and Perot could have done even better” than the 19 percent he garnered, Dallek said.

A bad running mate pick can even put a successful presidential ticket in question. The 1988 Bush-Quayle victory over Dukakis and Bentsen came in spite of Quayle’s frequent campaign trail gaffes and questions about his military service in the Vietnam era and other controversies. Bush handlers largely relegated Quayle to small town audiences that would attract little media attention.

“Quayle — it threw off the momentum for some weeks,” said Goodwin. “One has to hope for McCain’s sake that [Palin] has been fully vetted.”

“The first thing that hits me,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution,” is that it suggests that John McCain is a gambler. This is a high roller decision.”

“The next thing you have to ask yourself: Is it worrisome to have a gambler in the Oval Office? That’s an important question,” he said, “perhaps more important than anything else today.”

Update:  After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin‘s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”‘

A word of wisdom, McCain camp: The scholars, despite their political leanings, weren’t blatantly lying, as you all imply. I know you all like to blame the nonexistent liberal media bias for all of your problems, but really, now you’re saying that history itself has a liberal bias? The scholars were merely citing information that any teacher or student of American history knows well. You can’t dismiss a very real historical precedent as the figmentations of a Democrat’s scheming mind.

Mother Earth Disowns Republican Senators

Let me say this: The priorities of Republican senators are all screwed up. In their most recent act of thick-skulled incomprehension in a long line of acts of thick-skulled incomprehension, Republican senators blocked the passing of a bill that sought to reduce American emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by nearly 70% by 2050. The bill was viewed as a step in the right direction, but by no means the solution to the climate crisis. While the Republicans went on and on about industry and how inconvenient and costly it would be to implement the bill, our planet heaved another sigh of despair, saying to itself, “here we go again.”

Nobody ever said that dealing with climate change would be a cake walk, but last time I checked, America stands for something. We should reconnect with our better selves and acknowledge the huge challenge that is dealing with climate change. America’s brand stands on the pioneer spirit that led our forefathers to the colonies, that led the settlers west, that led us to the moon- we are not a nation built on petty cynicism and stick-in-the-mud mindsets. Republican senators, who seem to be wearing thick, foggy glasses that render them incapable of differentiating between the wellbeing of the earth and mankind rather than their constituency’s temporary convenience, have apparently forgotten this fact. If there’s one thing we can learn from the Republicans further inhibiting our ability to progress as a society, it’s that we must elect Barack Obama. Our senators have proved that the current American brand has been reconfigured to include George Bush’s obtuse denials of the climate crisis. We must not let this happen again.

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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