John Edwards: “Ask Me! Ask Me?”

Since suspending his own presidential campaign, John Edwards has been making all the right noises and doing all the right things in terms of advancing his own agenda – dealing with poverty in America. Maybe he’d still like to be Obama’s VP selection, but there might be better uses of Edwards’ vast, progressive talents. Think “Al Gore”, only on social issues, rather than global warming.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

One of the more potentially intriguing things to me about an Obama administration (not putting the cart before the horse or anything…) would be finding out where John Edwards fits into the mix. Speculation is once again swirling that, after initially discounting his desire for the Veep spot, he’s publicly lobbying the Obama camp for consideration:

Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards said here on Monday that he would “seriously” consider being Barack Obama’s running mate, if asked. “Anything that I’m asked to do by Senator Obama, either as a presidential candidate or as the next president of the Untied States, I would take seriously and seriously consider,” said Edwards…

In the closing weeks of the Democratic Party primary battles, when Barack Obama needed to “seal the deal”, John Edwards very publicly announced his endorsement of the now-presumptive nominee. Whether or not there was an expectation on Edwards’s part of quid pro quo, there’s little question that if Obama makes it to the White House, John Edwards will play a prominent role in the administration. The thing is, I’m not even sure that the VP spot is the best place for his wealth of political, legal, and social issues talent.

Attorney General, anyone? Or perhaps he could have even more impact as the “Al Gore” of poverty and healthcare issues, outside of the line of fire of politics?

(h/t to SPK at Agonist, who has more on the story…)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 by Richard Blair |

The “Order” Of Things: Let Them Kill…Yes – Let Them Marry…No

Underlying the polling related to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and same-sex marriage is a snapshot of a society still encumbered by gender disparity. The juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine highlight an unhealthy hierarchy. The order of things is disordered.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

I’m always amazed at public opinion…especially when it provides some insights into human nature in 21st century America. Over the years, I’ve always marveled at the prudish obsession with all things prurient.

I could be wrong, but I suspect a majority of Americans would rather allow their children to watch depictions of violence on television and at the movies than anything remotely sexual. In some ways, I understand how this happens, but in my moments of lucidity, I wonder why we never take the time to understand or alter this seemingly incoherent ideation.

To find evidence of this phenomenon, one need look no further than the polling relevant to same-sex marriage and the military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Despite the occasional outlier, it’s fairly safe to state that more Americans oppose same-sex marriage than favor it. At the same time, numerous polls in recent years suggests that a significant majority of Americans are in favor of allowing gays to serve in the military. I find those two incongruent positions fascinating.

First, a look at the latest polling on both issues.

From The Washington Post On DADT:

Public attitudes about gays in the military have shifted dramatically since President Bill Clinton unveiled what became his administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy 15 years ago today.

Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll said gay people who are open about their sexual orientation should be allowed to serve in the U.S. military, up from 62 percent in early 2001 and 44 percent in 1993.

Today, Americans have become more supportive of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the armed forces. Support from Republicans has doubled over the past 15 years, from 32 to 64 percent. More than eight in 10 Democrats and more than three-quarters of independents now support the idea, as did nearly two-thirds of self-described conservatives.

From CBS News On Same-Sex Marriage:

(CBS) Most Americans continue to think there should be some legal recognition of gay and lesbian couples, and 30 percent say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry – the highest number since CBS News began asking this question in 2004.

Twenty-eight percent think same-sex couples should be permitted to form civil unions, but more than a third – 36 percent – say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.

Americans’ views on this issue have changed since 2004, although opinion has not changed substantially in the last two years. In November of 2004 (soon after the presidential election) just 21 percent of Americans supported the idea of same-sex couples being allowed to marry.

Majorities of both men and women support some form of legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples, but more women (36 percent) than men (24 percent) back the idea of same-sex marriage.

With regard to DADT, it seems fairly clear that the country is ready to embrace gays serving in the military. Virtually every constituent group agrees. As such, it would be difficult to contend that the favorable response is due to the vague or uncertain nature of the survey question.

With regard to gay marriage, the results are more nebulous. Don’t get me wrong, there’s little doubt that the trends are encouraging. In fact, one could make the argument that a narrow majority of Americans actually favor some recognition of same-sex relationships. Defining the specifics of that recognition would likely provide less encouraging results.

I’m intrigued by the disparity. On the one hand, it seems that patriotism and a desire to defend one’s nation elicits thoughts of equality on the part of the electorate. In other words, if gays are willing to kill and die for their country, by God, we shouldn’t deny them that opportunity. [Wave flags now] On the other hand, who a gay person chooses to love and how that love is recorded by society apparently elicits thoughts of moral rectitude on the part of the electorate. [Cover eyes now]

(more…)

Sunday, July 20th, 2008 |

Reality? Or Photoshop? Check the Kerning. You decide.

A story making the rounds today about a supposed “goodie bag” design for the upcoming Democratic Party convention in Denver is creating some ripples in the blogosphere. But is it true? Or is it Photoshop? After the FISA vote, I wouldn’t put it past the DNC, but still…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

One of the big stories to hit the blogosphere over the past 24 hours has been the revelation of the design for “goodie bags” supposedly being given to delegates at the Democratic Party convention in Denver, Co. DemConWatch was first with the story; Glenn Greenwald jumped on board almost immediately. And my reaction when digesting the report?

WTF?

I don’t suppose it’s any surprise that most any large convention requires corporate sponsorship to defray some of the costs. It’s just the way that things work these days. However, when stories start to filter out about the DNC giving away tote bags that prominently display the AT&T corporate logo, I have to wonder about the veracity of the claims.

Check these links to see the front and back design of the tote bags. Then come back here. We’ll wait.

(Cue Jeopardy! theme song…dumdeedumdeedeedumdeedum…)

Ok. What do you think? Outrageous or outrageous bullshit? There’s been no response from either the DNC or AT&T at this point. However, if this story were in fact true, it would certainly explain the Democratic Party support for the recent FISA vote in both the House and the Senate. Still, I just can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that even the DNC and Obama campaigns would be so absolutely tone deaf as to present such an obvious affront to the progressive wing of the party.

Was Glenn Greenwald punked? I gotta tell you, after viewing the images in a photo editor, it’s pretty damn clear that these are not pictures of an actual convention tote bag, but rather, a black tote bag that’s been “photoshopped”. Now, maybe this was an initial design that was given to the DNC, and somehow leaked out to DemConWatch. But I suspect that the story isn’t quite accurate. This is a case where there’s no sourcing, and no one to back up the claim of authenticity of the design. So take it with a gain of salt. I mean, I could do a better design on Cafe Press.

But if it were true, and I actually saw a picture from the Dem convention of these bags (as shown), then I would go ballistic (for obvious FISA related reasons). Actually, beyond ballistic.

What do you think? Reality, or photoshop? Let us know…

Sunday, July 20th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Weird

Impeachment or Burger King

In May of 2006, Speaker of the House-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi took “impeachment off the table”. For months now, Dennis Kucinich has been trying to put the issue back on the table, to little avail. Finally, it looks like at least one of his Articles of Impeachment will receive a Judiciary Committee hearing.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Way back before the Democratic Party sweep in 2006, months before Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House in January, 2007, she put forth the now-infamous proclamation at a party caucus meeting: “Impeachment is off the table.

Dennis Kucinich, the gadfly Dem congressman from Ohio and former presidential contender, recently introduced a wide ranging impeachment resolution against George W. Bush. The resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee (headed by John Conyers), where it is all but certain to experience an ignoble death. One count of the indictment, though, will apparently merit a committee hearing.

Impeachment is on the table.

But Congress is not allowed to bite.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on one of Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders in the chamber have signaled that they do not want the committee – let alone the full House – to take a vote on impeachment.

How’s that?

The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the president’s abuses of power – perhaps as soon as next week…

But, when all is said and done, the committee is only supposed to “accumulate” the evidence of imperial over-reach, not to act upon it.

John Cole has excellent advice for the Democratic Party congressional “leadership” on this parliamentary maneuver: it’s time to shit or get off the pot, or get a job at Burger King.

(h/t to Brendan for for the lead!)

Friday, July 18th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

How Many Terrorists Does It Take. . .

Homeland Security’s Terrorism Watch List has grown to 1,000,000 entries. Oh, that’s far too big to be effective, but the CEO President, Mr. Bush, has his folks defending the list as one of the most important tools in the War on Terror. Given his advocacy of the War in Iraq, why isn’t Dick Cheney on the list? Has he not shot enough people?


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Oh, this seems like a big joke. The Terrorist Watch List Counter at the ACLU web site just passed one million. As I write this it is 1,000,167. OK, according to Reuters that’s 1,000,000 records on the watch list, and that corresponds to 400,000 people. That’s a freakingly big list, and it is impossible to believe that all the people on it belong on it. Perhaps the Bush Administration thinks we are all criminals. (No comments needed on THAT!) But the Bushies think the list is one of the most important tools in the War on Terror! Huzzah! Here’s a bit of the Reuters article:

The Terrorism Screening Center, which maintains the list, has already put in place several steps to ensure the list is accurate and up-to-date, spokesman Chad Kolton said.

He cited a report last year by the Government Accountability Office that said there was general agreement within the federal government that the watch list had helped to combat terrorism.

“The list is very effective. In fact it’s one of the most effective counterterrorism tools that our country has,” he said.

Let’s see, the subset of this list, the “no-fly” list, has caught Ted Kennedy, John Lewis, and Yusuf Islam, not one of whom, in the wildest demonic fantasy of Dick Cheney, could be called a terrorist threat. No, I don’t imagine the list, as it is managed by the Bush Administration, is an important tool in the fight against terrorism. But I have no problem imagining Bush Administration people thinking so.

By the way, is Dick Cheney on the list? Given his history of violence, I was just wondering why he isn’t on the list. Surely he deserves to be on the list more than this guy.

Monday, July 14th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The Politics of Humanity and the Death of Tony Snow

Tony Snow died today. He experienced a long battle with cancer, and still managed to sling the conservative propaganda with the best of them. While it’s impossible to praise his enabling of the Bush administration’s agenda, I will note his humanity – and compassion – when it mattered.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Tony SnowMore often than not, during his 17 month tenure as White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow pissed me off. When the conservative anchor-haired mouthpiece from Fox News was selected to head the Bush propaganda team, most of us on the liberal side of politics rolled our eyes. It was perfect. Fox News now had one of their own on the inside (not like they didn’t before, anyway).

But in some ways, Snow was the perfect foil for the Bush administration. He could argue a circular, losing point with the best of the BushCo apologists. And smile while doing it. And make you believe that he believed what he was saying (even when he was called out on slinging bullshit). In other words, he was the propaganda minister that George Bush had been missing. Ari Fleisher was just a glib little prick. Scott McClellan was a dufus in the role. But Tony Snow fit like a glove, and believe it or not, I think that Snow sort of defined the phrase, “compassionate conservative”.

Why would I posit such a non-progressive viewpoint? On the occasion of Tony Snow’s passing, I’m reprinting a short piece (just after the jump) that I wrote last year after Elizabeth Edwards announced that her own cancer had returned… (more…)

Saturday, July 12th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

FISA: Why I Can No Longer Vote for Barack Obama

Barack Obama lost my vote today. I was never a rah-rah supporter, yet prior to the FISA bill vote today, I believed that I could suck it up and vote for whoever ended up being the eventual Democratic Party nominee. For the first time in my adult life, I’m faced with the unhappy prospect of staying home on November 4th.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

As a true, progressive Democrat, this is incredibly hard for me to write.

Since the start of the presidential election season, I’ve been quite clear that Barack Obama was not my first – or even second – choice as the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party. But I’ve been consistent in saying that I’d support the eventual nominee, whoever he or she might be.

That all changed today. Actually, I’ve become more and more uncomfortable with the now-presumptive nominee since the time that the primary season officially ended. Barack Obama has been tacking toward the center since the time that Hillary Clinton quit her challenge in the race. From Iraq, to the abortion issue, to the Telecom Immunity Act of 2008, I’ve watched closely as Obama has tried to grab some middle ground, and attempt to diffuse future criticism of him by the GOP as being “soft on terrorists” and not a heartland values type of guy.

Earlier today, ASZ’s good friend Brendan commented on a prior post that as an Obama supporter, he’s experiencing extreme “buyers regret”. I can understand that feeling on the part of many starry eyed Obama supporters who felt that he was (in essence) the second coming of John F. Kennedy.

Let me pose a hypothetical: would John F. Kennedy have voted for the FISA bill today had it come up during his time as Senator? … (more…)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Do It In The Name Of Heaven, We Can Justify It In The End?

George Bush often speaks negatively of religious extremism…frequently missing his own penchant for evangelical intransigence. A lawsuit by a former soldier provides evidence of the degree to which this Bush mind set may have infiltrated the leadership of the United States military.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

When we hear the terms Fatwa or Jihad, we often think about radical Middle Eastern extremists whose intention is to impose their religious beliefs upon those they define as infidels. As Americans, we find the declarations of those leaders (Mullahs, Imams, etc.) who support such actions to be offensive and predicated upon intransigent ideological beliefs. We also look with disfavor upon those who carry out these Fatwas or Jihads in the name of their spiritual leaders and, by inference, their supreme being.

At the same time, we have witnessed a Bush administration that has sought to characterize our involvement in the region as a mission inspired by the president’s consultations with his father…the holy one…not George H. W. Bush. Early on, he made the strategic mistake of referencing the Crusades when speaking of our efforts in the war on terror. While there was some admission that the statement was insensitive and unwarranted, it speaks to the mind set of our President and the pervasive influence his religious beliefs have played in coloring his views and guiding his actions.

In what I would call the ever creeping influence of evangelism, the president also appointed some 150 graduates of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University’s School of Law to positions in his administration. I would suggest that these and may other examples are evidence of the pervasive influence religion has been allowed to play during the nearly eight years of George Bush’s presidency.

That brings me to the lawsuit of Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, in which he accuses the U.S. Department of Defense of violating his rights to religious freedom. Hall, in his claim, suggests that “the United States military has become a Christian organization”…which he contends led to his mistreatment…predicated upon his status as an atheist.

From CNN:

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (CNN) – Army Spc. Jeremy Hall was raised Baptist.

He served two tours of duty in Iraq and has a near perfect record. But somewhere between the tours, something changed. Hall, now 23, said he no longer believes in God, fate, luck or anything supernatural.

His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety.

Hall said there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military.

Hall isn’t seeking compensation in his lawsuit – just the guarantee of religious freedom in the military. Eventually, Hall was sent home early from Iraq and later returned to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, to complete his tour of duty.

He also said he missed out on promotions because he is an atheist.

“I was told because I can’t put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn’t make a good leader,” Hall said.

Michael Weinstein, a retired senior Air Force officer and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is suing along with Hall. Weinstein said he’s been contacted by more than 8,000 members of the military, almost all of them complaining of pressure to embrace evangelical Christianity.

The Pentagon refused to discuss specifics of Hall’s case – citing the litigation. But Deputy Undersecretary Bill Carr said complaints of evangelizing are “relatively rare.” He also said the Pentagon is not pushing one faith among troops.

Weinstein said he doesn’t buy it and points to a promotional video by a group called Christian Embassy. The video, which shows U.S. generals in uniform, was shot inside the Pentagon. The generals were subsequently reprimanded.

Another group, the Officers’ Christian Fellowship, has representatives on nearly all military bases worldwide. Its vision, which is spelled out on the organization’s Web site, reads, “A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

Weinstein has a different interpretation.

“Their purpose is to have Christian officers exercise Biblical leadership to raise up a godly army,” he says.

(more…)

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |

Why the hell are you celebrating?

We celebrate this day in order to honor the time when our founders decided that the excesses of the Monarchy were too much to bear. Unfortunately we are now victims of their success. Distracted by our present we willfully close our eyes to a future wherein the rights of our children are negotiable.


Commentary By: E in MD

Does this look familiar?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…

(more…)

Saturday, July 5th, 2008 by E in MD |

The Clown is Dead. Long Live the Clown.

Larry Harmon died today. The passing of cultural icons that define our formative years also serve as mileposts in our own lives. Even so, I won’t be missing Bozo very much.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Bozo the ClownI never liked clowns. In fact, growing up, clowns scared the shit out of me for some odd reason. Maybe it was a John Wayne Gacy thing. I never saw clowns as funny. For some reason, I viewed them as threatening. Maybe it’s the makeup. I dunno. More than likely that’s why I never enjoyed the circus as a kid.

My antipathy toward clowns has mellowed over the years, though, and I suppose that’s why I really enjoy any Simpson’s episodes in which Krusty the Klown plays a prominent role. (I’m sure that a shrink could dissect the whole thing for me.)

Anyway, Bozo died today.

There’s not much of a personal need for me to mark the passing of a clown. I had no ties to or fond memories of Bozo, even though he was a cultural icon during my formative years. Then again, maybe that’s the only reason that Larry Harmon’s death resonates with me just a bit.

I lost my own mother and father within six months of each other. The anchors from our childhood years leave us faster than we’d like. From a melancholia perspective, it’s probably more of a sense that with each passing, I’m closer to my own mortality. So even though I have no direct connection to Bozo, in a sense, I do. Everyone in my generation does.

For the most part, those of us in my age demographic are now the next in line for the grim reaper’s scythe.

It’s depressing sometimes. At other times, it’s liberating. All in all, I try not to dwell on it too much.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Meta
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