"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Friday, May 29, 2009

Making it Personal

The most personally wrenching moment in the Oscar-nominated film "Hotel Rwanda" occurred for me not during the scenes depicting the horrific barbaric butchering that terrorized the central African nation. It was a scene during which the voice of American President Bill Clinton emanates from the radio. His declaration that the United States did not believe a genocide was occurring in the war-ravaged nation.

It's a powerful scene. By denying the reality of the horror all around them, Clinton's message essentially extinguished the hopes of rescue for the poor souls barracaded in the hotel. The world had determined there was no political will to engage, so it was simply decided to deny reality.

At that moment my anger, outrage and disgust at the inhumanity of the crisis was transformed into a profound shame. No longer was watching this movie a historical experience. Sure, movies about prior genocides, like Schindler's List were eye-opening and soul-wrenching. But there was always the distance of time. Besides, in most of the stories we are taught in our youth, Americans are on the side of justice.

Now, however, here was something I could not depersonalize. The comfort of time and distance evaporated in an instant. A man I had cast a vote for, a man I believed would do the right thing (especially when confronted with evidence of genocide), chose the politically expedient option. I felt dirty, ashamed. At that point, I became responsible.

Now, with US Army General Antonio Taguba (the one who investigated the Abu Ghraib crimes) revealing the contents of the photos President Obama has chosen to keep from the public, a sinking feeling overcomes me. Is another president putting political expediency over doing what's right? To make it worse, the potential crimes were committed by Americans against prisoners. And they were done in the name of keeping me safe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gay Marriage Fight Creates Strange Bedfellows

When former Bush II Solicitor General Ted Olsen unites with his former Bush v. Gore adversary David Boies one realizes how dramatically the politics of marriage equality have shifted.

I'll say this again, although it isn't all that popular. The passage of Proposition 8 was a pivotal event in the fight for LGBT civil rights. A community has been transformed. Yesterday's court decision is another important step forward, despite the defeat. The public debate (although at times ugly and nasty) is creating more support for equality more quickly than any court-ordered mandate ever could have accomplished.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mitch's Filibuster Flip Flopping

Mitch's band of Roadblocking Senate Republicans are elevating hypocrisy to new levels. Three years ago, they hyperventilated over the prospect Democrats might filibuster Bush judicial nominees, decrying the move as unconstitutional. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they're singing a different tune.

Thanks to Media Matters, we've got video footage of these fools.

Will They Listen to the Generals Now?

Recall the Republican argument used to disarm Democratic opposition to the 2007 Iraq surge? They paraded the military leaders, led by Gen. David Petraeus in front of Congress, the television cameras and challenged Democratic politicians to "listen to the generals."

Now that Petraeus has come out in support of closing Gitmo, will they follow their own advice? Or will Rush, Hannity and Beck pillory their once-beloved general to protect Darth Cheney?

"Torture and Abuse Was Counterproductive to What We Were Trying to Accomplish"

Dick "Four Deferrals" Cheney doesn't know what he's talking about:


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sunday Muse, Memorial Day Edition

Random clippings from this week's news:

Business/The Economy

Wall Street: This is what happens when a political party devoted to small government and lax regulation is in charge:

The Securities and Exchange Commission abandons investigations for lack of resources, allows corporate wrongdoers to skip fines and drops cases because of a bureaucratic culture of risk aversion, according to a recent federal report...

The report raises questions about how well the SEC can do its job protecting investors with such glaring deficiencies.

The number of SEC enforcement attorneys declined 11.5 percent from 2004 to 2008 while cases were closed prematurely or not investigated at all, the report says.

Although a wide range of cases is pursued, "one attorney told us of closing several cases that were promising but which could not be pursued for lack of resources," according to the report.

With such lax oversight, how can investors and American taxpayers regain the confidence in the financial system necessary to revive the global economy?

Detroit: It was once unthinkable, but now seems inevitable.

Capitol Hill: The Roberts Court does corporate America's bidding.

Science/The Environment:

Has anyone checked the temperature in hell lately?

Republican talking heads, full of hot air and blinded to science.

Politics:

GOP 2012: In the race to crazy that is the GOP nomination fight, Sarah proves she's still in the game.

Education:

The Golden State's tarnished future: California's kids
to pay the price for political failure. The draconian spending cuts now facing the state's school districts is an unconscionable abandonment of the state's children, it's most important resource.

Foreign Policy/Military Affairs:

South Central Asia: As President Obama goes "
all in" in AfPak, I find myself wondering if anyone has clearly defined America's end goals in a region known as the graveyard of empires.

Capitol Hill: Disappointing the anti-war left that propelled them to power over the past two elections, a Democratic Congress
passes another "no-strings attached" Iraq/AfPak war supplemental funding bill. But this year, it's a Democratic President who launched his national career as the anti-war candidate who receives the money. Was this the change we had in mind?