Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mother’s birthday, and a great day to ponder a fact that influences nearly all of my political beliefs.  That fact is that I lucked out in the mother sweepstakes.  Not only has my mother has given me unquestioned love and support for thirty nine years.  She also was hands on in my education ... which by the way was not at all limited to school hours.  She helped me when she could, argued on my behalf when she had to, encouraged me to follow my interests when the opportunity arose, and gave me an  open minded, loving, and curious role model.  The fact that my father did many of the same things makes me doubly lucky.  Not everyone’s parents are like that.  I try to keep that in mind when I consider issues like school reform, gun control, the future of welfare, and the role of the Government.  I think if more people thought like this we would not be as far apart as we are on the big problems facing this country and as far away as we all are from solving them.  I am an incredibly lucky person.  I wish everyone could be so lucky, and I can't help but think it's worth doing whatever we can to make that wish a reality.  Today, what I'm going to do is thank someone who has done and continues to do her part.  Thank You Mom.  And ... Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

W-etiquette Wednesday: Don't Lie

Lying is bad, unless you are being confronted by homicidal maniacs regarding the whereabouts of your children.  I think a lot of folks (Tea Party organizers, Republicans in Congress, and the leadership of the NRA) think the rest of us are homicidal maniacs asking about their children.  Otherwise, how do you explain all the lying they are doing.  Now, they will say that they aren’t lying, but if you aren’t telling the truth what are you doing?  A simple way of demonstrating that the answer in this case is lying is to look at some of the fun graphics the Tea Party and affiliated groups post on Facebook.  Almost every one of them involves a lie.

Example one is right on the front of the Tea Party Facebook page.  The quote is: “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”  It is attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  The problem is that there isn't a shred of evidence that those words ever came out of Thomas Jefferson's mouth.  (for the proof, check out the Monticello Website).  These words actually seem to come out of debates about socialism in 1914, and were not attributed to Jefferson until 1994.  When you lay them over top of an image of the Constitution and in front of Thomas Jefferson’s name on the front page of your Facebook page, that is a lie. 

Example two is a wonderful little portrait of George Washington, underneath of which is a great quote.  You can see it below.  The problem here is the same as above.  George Washington said this in the same way that he chopped down that cherry tree.  Here is what he actually said: “A free people ought not only be armed but disciplined; to which end, a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies."  Just in case it needs to be said, when you change the words someone actually said or wrote to suit your purposes you no longer have a quote.  What you have is a lie.

I love example three, because it is funny, sarcastic, and anti-elitist.  Now, Jefferson actually did write the words attributed to him in the cartoon below.  They appeared in three drafts of the Virginia Constitution  but not in the final draft.  Nowhere on here, however, are we told that these words hit the cutting room floor.  Plus, in the background we have three snooty Supreme Court Justices promising to go against these words.  It is a great way to stir up anti-elitist sentiment, but doesn’t quite jibe with the fact that these same gun hating justices recently recognized an individual right in the Second Amendment that no one had ever found there before.  So, when you misrepresent quotes and suggest things that aren’t true in order to rouse people’s anger, you lie.

Example four is a great one too.  It connects the people opposing a ban on assault rifles with the founding fathers and the people supporting such a ban with the British oppressors.  It is brilliant, but ridiculously misleading at best.  First of all, a musket is an assault rifle just like a bang snap is a nuclear missile.  I mean, if you can’t see the difference you shouldn’t be allowed to have a gun.  Second, there are a few differences between the British Monarchy and the way it ruled its colonies during the second half of the eighteenth century and the Obama administration.  Third, to suggest that there is reason for revolution now is absurd.  In short, what we have here is not a lie … but a couple of lies.

Examples five, six, and seven aren’t great at all.  The idea that world leaders are either Stalin or Jefferson is idiotic.  The idea that there is something that connects Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to Obama is not only idiotic and patently false, it is offensive.  Is the suggestion that after banning assault rifles and mandating background checks Obama will round up and kill millions of people? This isn’t only a lie, it is a disgusting slap in the face to the millions of people the world over who have faced real oppression at the hands of real life brutal tyrants.  Maybe some folks should spend a month in Afghanistan or the Congo.

Example eight is not as hideous, but it is still silly and it is still a lie.  In what way would Obama qualify as a king?  Really.  If you are going to say it, let’s hear some support.  Are we talking about a constitutional monarchy?  Are even those kings elected?  Do kings risk falling off of fiscal cliffs?  You don’t have to agree with the president, but when you disagree and spout lies I assume you don’t have a real position and are just being obnoxious.

Example nine is catchy, but still false.  The Second Amendment is not a permit.  It doesn’t take the place of a permit.  It doesn’t permit you to avoid having your gun registered or having a background check done before you purchase a gun.  If you don’t believe me, pull out a few Supreme Court cases and a glass of lemonade and have a look see.  In the meantime, delete this one.

Example ten is intriguing.  This picture includes the claim that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican.  The proof for this is that his niece said so in one interview.  There is no other proof of this.  None.  None at all.  Most scholars dismiss the claim.  It is worth noting that the Republican party of MLK’s time was not the party of Lincoln anymore, as the Republicans had assumed the support of the formerly Democratic white southern establishment.  So, this would be a lie.

I think you are getting the idea, so we can move into rapid fire mode.  Here we have a catchy phrase you hear all the time.  Of course, in real life lots of things stop bad guys with guns.  A working education system stops them from appearing.  So do jobs.  Rehabilitation in prisons stops them from reappearing.  Active community groups do wonders too.  Of course, finding bad guys and good guys isn’t easy since they don’t walk around wearing black and white respectively, and probably don’t even exist.  Plus, it doesn’t take a bad guy with a gun to take a life, unless every person who has accidentally shot someone or killed themselves was bad. 

 This is beyond silly.  Think maybe the President presents an exceptional case?  Maybe?

Yes, there is just one reason.  Keeping track of guns wouldn’t be a reason.  Keeping them out of the hands of the mentally ill wouldn’t be a reason.  Besides, it totally makes sense to argue that guns shouldn’t be registered because bad things might be done with such a list.  We’d better get rid of car registration.  And that whole social security number thing …

So, Obama’s supporters are all unemployed.  Are we still saying this after Romney trotted it out?  Really?

Yeah.  Sure.  All those scientists, every last one of them, is in on it.  Them and the thermometers and the glaciers too.

Let’s review.  No one is trying to take away hand guns and shot guns.  Are we good now?

Yes, the only alternative to owning a gun is to huddle in a corner and wait to be raped.  

So, what we have here is a lot of lying.  To those who post these lies, I don’t see any people asking about the whereabouts of your sister while holding a gun to your throat, so can you cut it out?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuneful Tuesday: One

“One Love, one blood
One life, you got to do what you should
One life, with each other
Sisters, brothers
One life, but we’re not the same
We get to carry each other, carry each other”

This sums it up pretty well.  We are in this together, whether you acknowledge it or not.  Joining together with others to form a society is acknowledging this truth.   Pretending that the act of joining a society is meaningless and involves no sacrifices or obligations and brings no benefits but is instead a sort of accident of circumstances is an attempt to deny this reality.  We are in ‘this’ together, and ‘this’ is a big deal.  Even if you think there is another life, this one that we are in now only happens once.  It is “one life.”  This “one life” is important.  It is certainly important enough to acknowledge that although we are individuals, we only survive and thrive as a group.  We are different … “we’re not the same.”  But we are “one life.”  We will always disagree on what we should do together as a society, but we need to stop disagreeing as to whether we are a society.  “We get to carry each other,” and we need to start realizing what a necessity and what a privilege that is.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Musings: Guns and Fences?

Guns and fences are not solutions.  At best, they are temporary steps that can be taken to manage problems while solutions are drafted.  The problems of violent crime cannot be solved by putting more guns into people’s hands.  I don’t want to be cowering behind my door with a gun.  I don’t want my children to be under lock down when they are at school.  I want to reduce crime.  Gun control legislation is part of a solution.  Reworking our mental health system is part of that solution.  Reducing unemployment, improving our educational system, and increasing opportunity has to be part of that solution.  It is a very difficult problem that can’t be resolved overnight and that demands a solution that goes beyond more access to gun shows where folks can buy assault weapons without background checks.  The same is true of immigration.  The problem of illegal immigration is not solved by guns or by walls.  Putting a wall up doesn’t do anything to address the reasons why people seek to come to American illegally.  You can’t condition real reforms on stemming the flow of immigration with a wall, the real reforms to our immigration system have to come simultaneously to the wall if not before or instead of it.  I’m not interested in retreating into a heavily armed and walled compound.  I want to solve the problems we are facing rather than hiding from them.  If enough folks agree, we may be able to do something.  We may be able to find real solutions.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Silliness: The World of Tea Party Make-Believe

At the top of the Tea Party Facebook page you find the big problem with the Tea Party neatly encapsulated in one wonderful quote.  The quote is: “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”  It is attributed to Thomas Jefferson.  The problem is that there isn't a shred of evidence that those words ever came out of Thomas Jefferson's mouth.  (for the proof, check out the Monticello Website)   The Tea Party wants to wage on attack on 'big' government.  They want to ground that attack in American history.  The problem they face is twofold.  First, the specifics, the facts, are against the claim that government is inherently evil, wrong, and should be done away with in favor of unfettered markets and concealed handguns.  So, they have to stay vague.  Which is why they talk about 'big' government.  Second, the early history of America is the history of the establishment and strengthening of the Federal Government.  The fight against the British was not against government  but against the British Government.  The problem wasn't taxation, but taxation without representation.  The Constitution wasn't written to limit Federal Power, but to increase it in the wake of the failure of the Articles of Confederation.  Essentially, there is no historical or logical support for their cause so they have to imagine and invent it.  I can't fault them for lying.  They have to.  I do, however, fault the rest of us for believing it.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

W-etiquette Wednesday: Wayne La Pierre and Fear

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre is trying to scare folks into opposing new gun control legislation.  He and his organization have decided to oppose any new initiatives, even ones like background checks which he has voiced support for in the past.  This opposition is not being based on logic and reason, but on hate and fear.  The closest to proof that LaPierre gets is to mention the Second Amendment.  He doesn’t go into depth, however, because then he would have to discuss things like the Supreme Court’s obvious willingness to allow regulation and the fact that no right is beyond any limitation at all.  Then he would have to talk facts and that isn’t their strategy.  Their strategy is to paint the president as a man who is out of touch with the common people and out to get their guns.  As LaPierre told a cheering crowd, "[the president] doesn't understand you. He doesn't agree with the freedoms you cherish.”  He is an “elitist hypocrite” whose own children are protected by gun toting folks while ordinary Americans’ kids are left vulnerable.  And he is out to get your guns.  After all "there are only two reasons for that federal list of gun owners: to tax them or take them.”  If people don’t have their guns, how will they defend themselves from the Government?  Of course, many background checks are performed already.  In the rest of the world, very few countries don’t have universal background checks.  Fully automatic weapons are effectively banned now and all assault weapons have been banned in the past.  And gun violence in this country is far higher than it is in much of the rest of the world.  Plus, we register things like cars in much the way that is proposed for guns.  There would seem to be plenty of reasons to give these proposals real consideration, and I have to think people will … unless there they are too angry and afraid.   I suppose that is what LaPierre and the NRA is banking on.  I suppose that is a real reason to be afraid.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Musings: Dancing With Hate And Fear

It is inauguration day and I am not thinking about ball gowns and Bibles.  It is all the hate and fear that is on my mind … the unadulterated hate and the completely irrational fear.  He’s a Marxist.  He’s a fascist.  He’s going to round us up into concentration camps after he takes our guns.  He’s destroying the Constitution.  He hates freedom.  He bought the election by buying minority votes.  He’s a Muslim.  He was born in Kenya.  He was born in Indonesia.  He is redistributing wealth.  He’s turning the country into Greece.  He’s out to destroy Catholicism.  He wants to take America away from God.  He faked the Sandy Hook shooting to get our guns.  Take a look at the comments to any article about today’s inauguration on just about any network and you will see hundreds of comments like these.  Hell, you’ll see half of them come out of the mouths of congressmen and congresswomen in the next few months.  It’s troubling that it’s all poppycock.  It’s disconcerting that no one bothers to throw out a shred of proof to support this shit.    It’s annoying that most of the people calling our President a fascist, socialist, Marxist, or Muslim have no idea what any of those things are.  It’s more annoying that these folks claim the Constitution and don’t seem to have the slightest idea what it is about.  The underlying racism is certainly oppressive to behold.  But none of it is as troubling to me as the hatred and meanness and abject fear that permeate all of it.  That people would take this much time to be this nasty and heartless is frightening.  Maybe it has always been this way.  Maybe the internet just allows us easier access to it.  Maybe it shouldn’t bother me at all.  But I can’t help but feeling that this hatred is more widespread, more separated from reason, more divorced from any understandable grievance, and seemingly more acceptable than ever before.  Nothing good can come of this sort of shit.  No problems are going to be solved by people who talk this way.  There is no historical justification for it either.  This rabid hatred is not based in the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, James Madison’s writings, the Constitution, or even Thomas Jefferson’s butt crack.  There is nothing uniquely American or the least bit inspiring or laudable in any of it.  It’s certainly there though.  Even today.  Even covered up by loads of pomp and circumstance.  And I think recognizing that … and recognizing all of it for the unprincipled nastiness that it is … is the first step in a much more important dance than anything that will take place today.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free Friday: Free To be You and Me

You can go and run free
Leaving all the rest of us to be
Part of something bigger
Than just an individual me

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Theoretical Thursday: We The People

We the people” were supposed to form a “union,” “establish justice,” “provide for the common defense,” and “promote the general welfare.”  Translation … we were trying to join together to look after one another.  The idea was that if you were one of the “We,” you wouldn’t have to cower in your house with your finger on the trigger waiting for someone to attack.  You wouldn’t be powerless to prevent the more powerful from taking what was rightfully yours.  You would be free to believe something different than your neighbors.  You would also be free to be able to feed your family and earn a living … always.  And, most importantly, you would be part of something larger than yourself … something that could accomplish more than you ever could by yourself.  That was the idea.  That was why they said “we the people,” and not “I the person.”  I think it was a good idea, and I am not in favor of trying to rewrite it now.  I am proud to be part of “we the people,” and I’m willing to fight to keep it that way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

W-etiquette Wednesday: NRA Ads

The NRA wants to make sure that background checks are not required for all people who purchase guns and that assault weapons and high capacity magazines are not outlawed.  If their first ad is any indication, they do not plan to do this by publicizing the merits of their position.  Unfortunately, it seems that what they plan to do is to launch personal attacks on the President and other supporters of this legislation, and stir up and play on people’s fear and anger. 

The NRA will try to paint the President as an out of touch elitist.  Which may be true, but how does that have any bearing on the merits of his gun control plan?  Why are the merits of the President’s claims to be a common man relevant to whether gun owners should have to prove they aren’t insane or felons?  It’s hard to tell, because while they will call him an elitist, they won’t really tell us why it matters.

They also won’t tell us why the role of the media matters.  But they won’t give any proof of the dreaded liberal media bias either.  They will just allude to liberal conspiracies with ads like this one that include NBC News correspondent David Gregory in the photo of liberal elites along with Diane Feinstein and Michael Bloomberg.   The liberal press is always a great target when you don’t want to talk about specifics or provide actual support for your arguments, and clearly the NRA doesn’t want to talk about these things. 

The NRA does, however, want to talk about how the President of the United States is a hypocritical elitist because he has secret service protection but wants to regulate guns and thinks putting armed guards in every school might be unrealistic and unsavory.  It doesn’t matter that he is the President, and a target for disgruntled crazies the world over.  It doesn’t matter that a lot of folks right here in this country still think the President he is a foreign born Muslim intent on destroying America, can see he is black, and own firearms.  Apparently, every President has to tow the NRA line in order to avoid being hypocritical because they have secret service protection.  To oppose the NRA’s positions, they would have to agree to go about their lives completely unguarded.   That makes lots of sense. 

It also makes a lot of sense that the NRA would talk incessantly about the Second Amendment without saying anything about it.  You won’t hear the Second Amendment quoted, because if you actually read it you plainly see that it was meant to protect the right of Americans to arm themselves and in the absence of a standing army join a militia to defend the country.  You also won’t hear much of the actual ruling from the District of Columbia v. Heller, which while abandoning the usual conservative preference for a narrow reading of the text in order to come up with a meaning that almost assuredly isn’t there and wasn’t meant to be, still makes it clear that nothing in the ruling or the Amendment stands in the way of reasonable regulations of this ‘right.’  If the NRA acknowledges that there is no basis for believing that the Second Amendment rules out common sense regulations, then they would have to start supporting common sense regulation. 

That is, of course, exactly what needs to happen.  We need to get everyone to come together and work together to pass legislation that regulates gun ownership while still allowing for gun ownership.   Unfortunately, there aren’t good ads for that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuneful Tuesday: Sit Down Next To Me

Those who feel the breath of sadness 
Sit down next to me 
Those who find they're touched by madness 
Sit down next to me 
Those who find themselves ridiculous 
Sit down next to me 


Catholics, Mormons, and Unitarians all hold funerals … sadness would seem to be universal.  I’ve been to Provincetown and Salt Lake City.  I’ve heard the NRAs proposal for putting guns in every school in the country and I’ve attended church with pet psychics.  Madness knows no political boundaries.  We may not all find ourselves to be ridiculous, but that’s a problem of perception and rose colored glasses.  We all should find ourselves to be ridiculous.  And we should all sit down together, chat a bit, and see if we can’t solve a problem or two before we get up and go our separate ways. So, why don't you pull up a chair and "sit down next to me."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Putting Aside the Second Amendment

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  This is the Second Amendment of the Constitution.  The Supreme Court has recently found that this is an individual right that extends beyond the purposes of forming a militia.  They were, however, explicit that the right was not unlimited and that their ruling did not mean that guns could not be prohibited from certain places, that concealed weapons could not be prohibited, and that certain types of weapons could not be outlawed.  Now, I think the Court was wrong to extend this right beyond the context of the formation of militias within which it was drafted and pretty obviously meant to be constrained, but that being said it seems pretty clear that there is absolutely no justification for using the Second Amendment as a reason to impede reasonable regulation of gun ownership, including universal background checks and the outlawing of assault weapons and high capacity magazines.  So, let’s stop pretending that the Second Amendment is a barrier to regulation, and get to work crafting reasonable and effective regulations.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Free Friday: Please feel free to stop misquoting the founding fathers about firearms

I want to be free of having to see false quotes from our founding fathers regarding gun control.  George Washington never said “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”  Thomas Jefferson never said “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."  They never said these things, and furthermore who cares if they did?  They lived in a time when we barely had a professional army.  In the 18th century there were no assault weapons or cars or planes or free black people or women who could vote.  I don’t know what Washington, Jefferson, or Madison would say about requiring background checks on everyone who purchases a gun and banning assault weapons … and neither do you.  So let’s leave the old guys be. Let’s stop it with the misleading Facebook posts and opinion pieces in the local paper.  Instead of lying about what people said over two hundred years ago, how about we just come together to solve a problem?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Threatening Thursday: Hegel can't be Secretary of Defense ... he thinks for himself

Senator John Cornyn disapproves of the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hegel as defense secretary.  He disapproves because Senator Hegel believes in the importance of negotiating with Iran.  Senator Cornyn disapproves of the nomination of Senator Hegel because Senator Hegel believes that Iran isn’t a bastion of evil, but a country full of all sorts of people and led by all sorts of people, ordinary self interested human beings.  Senator Hegel might even think that Muslims are ordinary people who don’t all want to destroy us, and that trouble Senator Cornyn.  Senator Cornyn is also troubled that the next secretary of defense believes that it might be impossible to keep nuclear weapons only in the hands of those who already have it.  Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, he might even question the sanity of automatically assuming that what is in the interest of Israel is in the interest of America.  In other words, Senator Cornyn is worried that the next secretary of defense might be a respectful, pragmatic, results oriented, logical thinker who values collaboration, cooperation, and negotiation.  Yikes … that is quite a problem.    

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

W-etiquette Wednesday: Honking at Kids

When you come up behind a line of cars waiting to get through an intersection crowded with school buses and folks who are dropping off their kids both on foot and by car, don’t honk persistently, look irritated, and mutter obscenities.  There is an unwritten rule against such behavior … and it’s really a pretty straightforward rule.  Unless you are headed to the hospital or trying to escape a homicidal maniac, you ought to follow it.  If you don’t follow it, everyone within hearing distance will assume that you are an ass hole.  Just thought you should know.

Tuneful Tuesday: Richie Webb of the Neshaminy School Board Sings the Same Old Song

“It's the same old song
But with a different meaning
Since you been gone
It's the same old song
But with a different meaning
Since you been gone

If this isn’t what Richie Webb, President of the Neshaminy School Board has been humming these days; it certainly is what he is offering up.  Despite the fact that the disagreement over money between the Neshaminy School Board and the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers has vanished, Webb is still singing the same old song.  In expressing his disappointment over the rejection of the Board’s last offer, he has claimed the provisions they want are illegal (hard to imagine) and talked about the tools the Teacher’s Union has used to state their case (strikes, teaching to the contract, etc. which while not always well thought out have little to do with the merit of the Board’s offer).  He also has continued to talk about the union as if it was an entity separate from teachers, which he would like to exclude entirely from decision making.  It isn’t individual teachers who would lose the right to challenge major changes to their jobs (what they can wear to school, what is in their lesson plans, how they are evaluated, etc.) but the evil union.  The title of his op-ed piece in the Bucks County Courier Times begins with these two words “Workers' paradise,” a clever way to echo consistent references by the Board and its supporters to socialism.  He ends his piece with this line: “It is time for a change in Neshaminy, and we appreciate the continued support of the public as we deliver on this important promise to our parents, tax payers, and most importantly of all, our students."  In one seemingly innocuous line he sets this up as a war in which teh community should take sides and conveniently leaves out teachers in his list of groups whose interests and needs the Board should be concerned with.  


So, Despite an agreement on money, Webb continues to speak in terms of ultimatums, trot out the bogeymen of evil unions and socialism, encourage the community to take sides, and generally set this up as a battle to the death.  He continues to sing the same old song, even though it has a different meaning now that the monetary differences are gone.  That, unlike the classic cover song by KC and the Sunshine Band, is a shame.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Musings: Chuck Hegel ... Republican Liberal Homophobic Jew Hater

The Republicans are offended by President Obama’s choice of Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, for secretary of defense.  The best I can conclude is that they are opposed because the President nominated him and because they are bound and determined to look like a bunch of jack asses. 

It can’t really be because, as Senator Lindsey Graham says, “he has long severed his ties with the Republican Party.”  Just over four years ago, after he stepped aside and decided not to run for re-election to the Senate, he was almost universally praised by his fellow Republicans.  Four years doesn’t sound like “long” to me, and it is a bit too convenient that these severed ties are just now being revealed.  Besides, he was elected twice as a Republican senator presumably by Republicans.  Obama is surely going to claim this as an attempt at bipartisanship.  Arguing that it isn’t really without appearing to be … well to be jack asses, doesn’t seem to be an easy task. 

Unfortunately, Republican opposition also can’t be rooted in Hagel’s opposition to the war in Iraq and the surge Congressman Tom Cotton says "Our troops deserve much better than a man who voted to send them to war when it was popular and then abandoned those very troops when it was unpopular.”  But he can’t really mean to say something that is so ridiculous.  That would mean that anyone who opposes a war is somehow un-American, that the only thing that a good American can do when we are at war is mindlessly support the official government position.  It would also mean that people can’t change their mind … ever … even if they come across new information, circumstances change, or they simply come to believe that they were mistaken.  No one can possible have such a naive, narrow, and ignorant view of the world. 

I suppose it could be because he favors negotiating with countries like Iran rather than simply labeling them as evil terrorists and starting a war that could destabilize the Middle East and throw the world into recession and confusion, for starters.  No sane person would want to avoid war and no real American would see nuance in the world.  He must be a threat to the country, 

The problem is that he’s not really a threat to the country or its military, and its pretty hard to believe that Republicans really think he is.  Hegel is thoughtful, but he is not a pacifist.  He is a Vietnam Veteran, and an advocate for the military.  He would support cuts in military spending, but that is, until proven otherwise, just a matter of good sense.  No one is going to argue that he isn’t knowledgeable about foreign policy and defense issues.  So that only leaves us with Israel, and this is not about Israel.

Republicans are not opposing this nomination because Hagel said that the “Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers."  Republicans are using this line to rile people up and to justify their opposition.  It’s exactly what Romney tried to do during the election.  They can’t really believe that American interests are best served by always championing Israeli interests.  Israel and the United States are two different countries with different sets of interests.  There is no way they correspond completely.  And the Jewish lobby does intimidate lawmakers.  That’s what every lobby does, or at least tries to do.  Besides, Hegel’s voting record does not exactly paint him as a supporter of Hamas.  This is just a rather crude attempt to motivate opposition to the nomination by appealing to fear and hate, with a bit of push from a powerful and narrowly focused lobby. 

So, this brings us back to concluding that Congress is a bunch of angry Obama-hating jack asses.  If they do actively oppose the nomination of a hawkish homophobic Republican, it will be hard to reach any other conclusion.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sunday Sundries: George Washington Said What?

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government" - George Washington

There are two problems with this quote (which I saw on Facebook). 

First, George Washington never said it.  Here is what he said: “A free people ought not only be armed but disciplined; to which end, a uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent on others, for essential, particularly for military supplies." 
Second, did George have assault rifles?  I don’t really think George Washington would be opposed to reasonable gun control legislation, but we aren’t ever going to know.  He’s been dead a mighty long time.  He died before cars, before planes, before machine guns, before decolonization, before the bulk of colonization, before the end of slavery, before women could vote, and … well … before a heck of a lot of other stuff.

The bottom line is, I’m not going to be too bowled over by a pro-gun control quote from over two hundred years ago, even if it is accurate … and this one isn’t.  What I’m more concerned with are all the folks who die from gun violence every year in this country.  What I’m more concerned with is why we don’t have reasonable comprehensive and effective gun regulations in this country … and why anyone would oppose them.  What I’m much more concerned with is why we can’t get serious about this problem and stop hiding behind inaccurate quotes and statistics.

We do know that a lot of folks die every year in our country from gun violence.  We also know that reasonable regulation of the ownership of guns can be achieved without taking away anyone’s right to own a gun.  I’m also fairly certain you can hunt without an AK-47.  I am 100% sure that lying about what George Washington said won’t help anyone. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

W-etiquette Wednesday: The House Republicans and Bad Form

It’s bad form to play politics with disaster relief.  It’s stupid to get caught playing politics with disaster relief.  It’s moronic to get caught playing politics with disaster relief after pushing the country to the brink of the fiscal cliff.  I don’t know about you, but my reaction to people in need usually isn’t to check their party affiliation or home state.  Of course, I also wouldn’t come to an agreement with my wife that it is OK for her to spend money on something for herself, and then when the credit card bill comes in the mail demand that the family get rid of cable.    But then, I don’t think that I am going to get my way all the time.  And I don’t think my wife is evil or should be excommunicated from the family if she disagrees with me.  And I recognize we live in the same house together.  But I’m probably a little slow, because I also don’t see how Obama can turn us into Greece.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives have lost their minds.  Their quest to eviscerate government has officially gone about twenty two steps too far.  It is way past time to help fix the Republican Party by changing the way redistricting happens in this country, and reducing the number of safe districts for both parties … eliminating the pull of the radical elements in each party.  Or we can use the money that should be going to help people in blue states rebuild to create a model of the Parthenon on Pennsylvania Avenue.  It makes as much sense as most everything else on the agenda of the House Republicans, and as an example of classical architecture at least it could never be bad form.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tuneful Tuesday: Italian Plastic and the House Republicans

“When you wake up with me 
I'll be your glass of water 
When you stick up for me 

Then I'll be your bella bambino, your man from the moon 
I'll be your little boy running with that egg on his spoon 
I'll be your soul survivor, your worst wicked friend 
I'll be your piggy in the middle, stick with you till the end.”

These lyrics come from the Crowded House song Italian Plastic.  They make no sense at all, but they are fun to sing and they are mated to a catchy tune.  The position taken by the Republicans in the House of Representatives on dealing with the deficit makes no sense either.  Spending cuts just for the sake of spending cuts is stupid.  Promising someone named Grover that you will never raise taxes is comical.  The desire to eliminate as much of the federal government as possible is unexplainable and runs contrary to not only the history of America and American government, but the history of the whole trajectory of man from the wilderness and into society.  The fear and hatred of cooperation, collaboration, and anyone who differs with you about anything is dangerous and completely unacceptable in a civilized society.  The antipathy towards science and reason is bizarre and troublingly pre-Renaissance.  The abandoning of reasonable positions held by the Republican party for decades is unfortunate.  When you really think about it, none of it makes a damn bit of sense.  Unfortunately, it also isn’t fun and doesn’t come with a catchy tune.  It is “nothing like that Italian plastic.”