Why We Need a New Political Party

The abyss created by America’s recent culture wars only grows deeper as it divides the far-right Republicans and those who are conservative, but socially liberal. My own father, for example, is a lifelong Republican, yet he doesn’t support the socially conservative agenda being pushed by his party’s vice presidential and presidential candidates. The disparity between the two groups of conservatives has only grown wider with this election, and now, cautious fiscal conservatives are no longer represented by the party that has instead adopted a slash-and-burn approach to economic policy (i.e. McCain’s proposed spending freeze). In much the same way, fiscal conservatives/social liberals no longer have a political party that truly represents them. They are now forced to choose between two candidates who they don’t feel strongly about one way or another. I would recommend that independents and fiscal conservatives/social liberals form their own political party. Hopefully, the extremist philosophy of social conservatism would fade away election after election, leaving the U.S. without the ideological dead weight that inhibits societal progress.

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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.

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.

“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.

What Europe Taught Me About American Politics

“Bush est une erreur,” my cab driver said as we sped away from the Charles DeGaulle Airport.

“OUI!” I replied.

My cab driver, clad in a Rochas jacket and driving a Mercedes, quickly became my first insight into the European view of American politics. I was quite fascinated by the little gray-haired Frenchman, who was eager to talk to me about the presidential candidates of a country that he had never visited and to which, as he told me, the French felt increasingly alienated. I immediately felt guilty that my knowledge of the French president Sarkozy consists of a partially-read article from The Economist, a Vogue article about his wife, Carla Bruni, and the fact that he looks freakily like my French teacher.

I met quite a few Obama supporters in Europe, including a Danish tour guide, a good-looking German businessman, some intellectual Californians, two cab drivers, several random members of our tour group, and assorted French people. I even saw an Obama pin attached to someone’s beret!

While Republicans go on our news channels and repeat the same refrain that got us into trouble in the first place, that of “We Don’t Care What Europe Thinks Because They Don’t Vote In The Election,” Europe has made it clear to me that America would reclaim its benevolent image with an Obama presidency. There is no other way to put it, but I am so flipping tired of listening to the crazy Religious Right spouting the same divisive jargon that led to the election of the most harmful president in American history. It MATTERS what Europe thinks because the world is more interconnected than ever before, and we cannot pretend that our level of interconnection with the world doesn’t exist. A policy of diplomacy is one of the main attributes absent in the Bush administration, and it won’t change by electing John McCain, who dismissed Obama’s desire for talking out our differences as “a failed policy.” If we stop our saber-rattling, “We’re America, Dammit” approach to foreign policy, then hopefully we’ll be able to reach a point where we can talk to our enemies and say “I do agree,” just as the Danish tour guide said as she pointed at my Obama pin.

See All the Creepy Smiles- John McCain’s Got Nothing on Obama

Just a note: Obama’s speech on YouTube gets an average of 5 out of 5 stars. Of the people who have viewed John McCain’s video, the average rating is 1.5 out of 5 stars. It’s funny in watching these how McCain (badly) apes Obama and then recommences the self-flagellation Republicans have become so fond of. Note the creepy smiles, sinister laugh and how many times he says the word “change.” But Americans are smarter than that- why have the counterfeit when you can have the real thing? This will be the race in November.

These two videos speak for themselves. Side by side, we see our choice in November.

Why Michigan and Florida Shouldn’t Count

-Obama will have more delegates and popular vote anyway, so Hillary’s people aren’t accomplishing anything monumental by getting half of the delegates seated or losing anything monumental by not having 100% of the delegates seated. Hillary turned the plight of MI and FL into a reason for her to stay in the campaign, although she herself said “We all know Michigan and Florida aren’t going to count” in October of 2007.

– We can’t devalue the states that DID abide by the rules, because if we do so by allowing all the delegates from MI and FL to be seated, then DNC rules lose their meaning. We then have an even more fractured and divided party.

-You can’t equate the current situation to the 2000 election because the delegates from MI and FL are not going to decide the election. In 2000, the incident in FL decided the election. Adding MI and FL would only give Hillary a nudge up in delegate count, but it is by no means a deciding factor in the election.

-You can’t call an election in which not all the candidates’ names were on the ballot a true election, and to retroactively attempt to account for those who meant to vote for Clinton vs. those who would have voted for Obama is going to lead to more debate and confusion.

-In Florida, voters were told that their votes wouldn’t count. How are we supposed to account for the voters who would have voted had they known that their vote would count vs. those who went ahead and voted anyway? There are 4 million democrats in Florida, and 1.7 million voted. We don’t know how many were deterred from voting.

-While I sympathize with the frustration of the voters who haven’t been counted, I see the overriding necessity of having a party that is united behind its rules and not divided into warring Obama or Clinton factions. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: In Defense of Rev. Pfleger’s Character

First of all, I do not agree with Rev. Pfleger’s recent statements, and like Barack Obama, I reject them. However, I resent the way Rev. Pfleger, fondly referred to as “father Mike” in Chicago, is being portrayed by the media. Rev. Pfleger’s comments were clearly out of line, but he is by no means the crazy, rogue reverend the media is making him out to be by playing his one sound bite over and over again. He sometimes turns to extreme measures in his social activism, but is overall a good person. I want to list a few of his achievements so that the people who read this blog have a more complete picture of who he is.

“Pfleger and his parish demanded the shutdown of a number of Auburn Gresham businesses specializing in drug paraphernalia. Pfleger also campaigned for the removal of tobacco and alcohol billboards from their neighborhood.

Pfleger has become one of the best known critics of The Jerry Springer Show, a controversial television program which is videotaped in Chicago. Believing the program to be immoral, Pfleger and his parishioners began picketing outside the show’s studios in 1991. By 1998, he had organized a boycott of the show’s advertisers. “[Springer is] glorifying violence every day…. Calling a woman a ho and a bitch is sick. This is not normal behavior,” Pfleger declared.

In 2007, Father Pfleger and the faith community of Saint Sabina erected twenty billboards across Chicago with the words “Stop Listening To Trash”, followed by a list of ten “disrespectful rappers”. Pfleger said in a press release, “If we are going to end the violence and disrespect of women, we must fight every form of negativity, including the music industry.” He explained to WMAQ-TV’s Alex Perez, “When you disrespect women and you continue to demean a community or race by names and by language, that’s unacceptable. . . We can kill with our words.”‘

Pfleger also led several protests against Chuck’s Gun Shop, which sold over 2,000 weapons that were traced to crimes committed between 1996 and 2004.

While his recent rhetoric is divisive and backward-looking, Rev. Pfleger is hardly Rev. Wright. He is not an attention-seeking egomaniac hell-bent on hurting Obama’s campaign. He has done countless good works in Chicago’s inner city and is a bold voice against drugs and crime. He himself said:

“I regret the words I chose Sunday. These words are inconsistent with Sen. Obama’s life and message, and I am deeply sorry if they offended Sen. Clinton or anyone else who saw them.”

Enough with the madness, already!

Published in: on May 30, 2008 at 11:27 pm  Comments (4)  
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