Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday music video break

It's flashback time, with perhaps one of the worst videos of the 80's (and yes, that's saying something!). Also perhaps a not so subtle message to our Democratic nominee (see post below)?

Sometimes I hate it when I'm right

Back in February, on the day of the Maryland Democratic Primary, I wrote this:
Watching the coverage makes me anxious. While Clinton's shown shaking hands with workers at the GM transmission plant, Obama's got crowds of young people waving signs and chanting. As Morra Aarons wites over at BlogHer:
Being a Hillary supporter is like being the person in the dorm who yells at her partying neighbors to shut up, because she's studying for a final exam. You know you have a good reason, but you’re a little annoyed at yourself for being such a pill.
I feel like a party pooper because I'm not shouting "Si, se puede!" But Senator Obama, se puede? Could I have some more details on how se puede?
At the time, many of my Obama supportin' friends (and I do have some diehards), thought I was being a stick in the mud by continually asking for more detail from Obama, and because I said my biggest concern about Obama was that we just don't know much about him -- not enough to know what he will do once in office.

And this week, Barack Obama has been very busy proving me right, crassly moving to the center on 3 important issues: gun control, death penalty, and FISA. Where is the "new" kind of politics? Where is the "Washington outsider"? Where is the man who spoke before thousands of adoring followers in Iowa and said:
Years from now, you'll look back and you'll say that this was the moment, this was the place where America remembered what it means to hope. For many months, we've been teased, even derided for talking about hope. But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.

It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.
I thought that was too good to be true. I thought the Obama supporters were being naive to believe him when he said he would stand up and "fight for it." Now it turns out he's just another politician running for office, saying whatever he has to in order to get elected.

Crap. Sometimes I really hate it when I'm right.

Joel Stein of the LA Times received much grief for this characterization of Obama:
What the Cult of Obama doesn't realize is that he's a politician. Not a brave one taking risky positions like Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, but a mainstream one. He has not been firing up the Senate with stirring Cross-of-Gold-type speeches to end the war. He's a politician so soft and safe, Oprah likes him. There's talk about his charisma and good looks, but I know a nerd when I see one. The dude is Urkel with a better tailor.
So. What's next, Mr Mainstream Senator Obama?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Obama and the death penalty: He disappoints again

I'm trying. I really am. Hillary Clinton has conceded the nomination to Barack Obama, and as so many people keep telling me, he's way better than that other guy, John McCain. But when I vote in November, I would love to vote for Obama and feel good about it, rather than ... "meh, he's o.k."

But lately it seems that on issue after issue, Obama disappoints me. The latest came yesterday when he publicly announced his disagreement with the Supreme Court decision barring states from executing criminals guilty of child rape. Now don't get me wrong -- this is a horrible, despicable crime, and society should deal with those guilty of this crime in the strongest manner possible. But when the government starts killing people who didn't kill, when we start killing people for crimes that do not involve murder, we begin a deep descent into a special place in Hell.

At a press conference yesterday, Obama said:
I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution.
Obama agrees with Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- all dissenters in this case.


There are so many reasons why the death penalty is wrong. Even if you agree with it in theory, you must acknowledge the Chicago Tribune description:
Who gets a sentence of life and who gets death is often a matter of random luck, of politics, of geography, even a matter of racism. Mistakes can occur at every level of the process.
As a state Senator, Obama was a proponent of death penalty reform because he understood the many problems with it as a truly just sentence. From Talk Left:

While an Illinois state senator, Obama was key in getting the state's notorious death penalty laws changed, including a requirement that in most cases police interrogations involving capital crimes must be recorded.

The changes enacted in 2003 reformed a system that had sent 13 people to death row, only to have them released because they were later determine to be innocent or had been convicted using improper methods.

"Without Barack's energy, imagination and commitment I do not believe the very substantial and meaningful reforms that became law in Illinois would have taken place," said author Scott Turow, a member of the state commission that recommended many of the changes.

Surely he understands that the problems were not unique to the state of Illinois. How can he now stand before us and say there should be more executions in this country?

I really am trying to like this guy, but he disappoints again. Because the guy who was supposed to be all about "change" looks more and more like the guy who's walking down the middle of the road.

photo AFP/Getty Images

Nine more US soldiers, and unknown numbers of Iraqi civilians are dead. Is anyone paying attention to this?

I think it's the lack of coverage these deaths receive that shocks me the most. I mean, I understand the horrible realities of war. I understand that people die. I just don't understand why we as a nation don't care. I mean, why aren't we outraged that photographers are banned from taking pictures of the military coffins?

Are we really that easily distracted? Is it really "if we don't see it, it doesn't exist?" I shudder to think so. Yet, what was the big news in the last week? Bush's farewell tour of Europe, where he did fun things like shoot hoops with kids:

Meanwhile these soldiers died this week, while the press continues to fawn over the recently departed Tim Russert:

Dwayne Kelley
Gregory T. Dalessio
Du Hai Tran

as well as six others, names not yet released.

Of Dwayne Kelley, reports:
NEWARK, N.J. - A decorated New Jersey state trooper was killed in Iraq while serving on his third tour of duty as an Army reservist, state police announced Wednesday.

Detective Sgt. 1st Class Dwayne Kelley, an Army major, died in the bombing of a Baghdad district council building on Tuesday, state police Capt. Al Della Fave said. Kelley, who spoke Arabic and served in the state police counterterrorism unit, had volunteered for his latest tour, which began in November, Della Fave said.

"He touched many lives throughout the law enforcement and military communities, and he will be deeply missed by us all," said Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, state police superintendent.
h/t to Mock, Paper, Scissors for the Bush photo

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wednesday Poetry Break: Patriot Edition

Back in September, I posted this poem. At that time, it was a message to the candidates. Today I post this poem as a message to my fellow Americans. You see I, and other bloggers (such as Sara at Suburban Lesbian Housewife) have been told by some readers and friends that we're not working for America's best interest when we insist on equal marriage rights. We're told that there are other, more pressing issues, and that this issue only affects a small percentage of Americans.

Well, I fight for peace and justice. I agitate to end the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. I advocate for environmental responsibility. I've been on the front lines of the education crisis in this country. They're all important issues. It's not a matter of ignoring one for another. They all call out for our attention.

So to those who question why we fight for marriage equality in this country, I say:

I, Too

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed —
I, too, am America.

— Langston Hughes

The gay mayonnaise scandal: If only people cared this much about things that actually mattered

Several readers have sent me an update on the Heinz mayonnaise commercial "row" as it's being referred to in Great Britain. It turns out that Bill O'Reilly isn't the only one who's feeling insecure about his condiments. So many British viewers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that Heinz voluntarily pulled the ad off the air.

File this under "you have got to be kidding me," but the The Telegraph reports:
Viewers complained it was "offensive, "inappropriate" and "unsuitable to be seen by children" and said it raised the "difficulty" of parents having to discuss same-sex relationships with their children.
And please understand that this ad never ran with the Saturday morning cartoons, after all. The British have far better ad restrictions than we do. From the Guardian:
The Heinz TV ad carried an "ex-kids" restriction, meaning it could not be shown in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo falls foul of Ofcom's TV advert restrictions relating to products that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
So, in an effort to make Heinz stop this ridiculous cowering before a handful of complainers, the group Stonewall is calling for a boycott of Heinz. From The Telegraph again:
The gay rights group Stonewall has urged supporters to stop buying Heinz products.

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the group, said: "We're shocked that an innocuous ad should have been withdrawn in this way. I can't imagine that Heinz would respond to protests about black people featuring in their adverts.

"Our phones have not stopped ringing with supporters who are deeply upset."

Many thanks to all who sent me links on this story.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

$4 a gallon: Is this what it takes to make us change our oil consumin' ways?

I put $20 into my gas tank this morning and watched the needle go "blip." Hardly made a difference at all on the gas gauge (it got me about 5 gallons). With a major bathroom renovation going on, a commute from hell, and the price of everything going up, I'm becoming even more penny-pinching than I ever was.

I've heard a lot of stories in the news about what people are doing, what changes we are making in our lives to save a dime. And it got me to wondering what some of you have been doing to deal with this sudden increase in the cost of living. So please take a minute to answer the poll to the right, and then feel free to leave a comment at this post if you want to tell us more.

Image from

Monday, June 23, 2008

Will mayonnaise give you "Teh Gay"?

Apparently we have no sense of humor in this country anymore. Thank god for the British. But Bill O'Reilly's all in a lather (again) about teh gayness.

Still looking for a "different" kind of politician?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich is still standing up in Congress and fighting for what is right. Let's hope Barack Obama can find the same backbone fortitude as Kucinich when the FISA bill hits the Senate floor today.

H/t to AfterDowningStreet, who also includes this from
On Friday, House Democrats caved to the Bush administration and passed a bill giving a get-out-of-jail-free card to phone companies that helped Bush illegally spy on innocent Americans.

This Monday, the fight moves to the Senate. Senator Russ Feingold says the "deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation." Barack Obama announced his partial support for the bill, but said, "It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses."

Last year, after phone calls from MoveOn members and others, Obama went so far as to vow to "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." We need him to honor that promise.

Can you call Senator Obama today and tell him you're counting on him to keep his word? Ask him to block any compromise that includes immunity for phone companies that helped Bush break the law.

Obama's presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008.

America, women, and political office: Many miles to go ...

Before Hillary Clinton bowed out of the race for the Democratic nomination, I read an interesting piece in TruthOut, which I meant to post for you all. In the craziness at home and in the news lately, I never got around to it. Yet it is almost more powerful now that the passion and emotions of the Clinton vs. Obama discussions have died down.

We have a long, long way to go before America truly accepts women in political office as the norm. It has nothing to do with Barack Obama, so perhaps now that he's the candidate we can look at the subject of women without it becoming a "which is worse: sexism vs. racism" battle. Perhaps we can look at the issue of women in politics in America on its own merits and issues.
Like the rest of the world, the US has been moving forward in terms of women in politics, but it's doing so in spurts and slower than many of its neighbors. Ten years ago, this country ranked 37th in terms of women's political representation. It now sits in 71st place, according to a recent Interparliamentary Union study.

Twenty-eight of the 50 states have not yet elected a female governor. And women make up only 16 percent of both the US House and the Senate.

One roadblock to political equality for women may be an overly sunny self-perception on the part of Americans, according to Marie Wilson, founder of the White House Project, an organization aimed at upping women's political representation, and author of "Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World."

"People think we're already there," Wilson told Truthout. "They think we have a political meritocracy. As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as a fair country. That makes it harder to own up to the facts of the masculinity of the political system and the normalcy of recruiting men to run for office."

Even triumphs can be deceptive; there's a difference between achieving a milestone and establishing normalcy. The first woman to serve in the Senate took her oath in 1922. Yet in 1992, 70 years after that barrier was broken, the Senate contained only two women.
It is getting better, as more women are running for local office, learning how to fundraise, and gaining experience. Hillary Clinton's candidacy has been a huge step forward for women at the national level, but it does not mean that we will suddenly have a slew of women running for president next election. Instead, we'll have this collective (and false) feeling that women have reached equality with men in the political arena, and we'll take two steps backward before we see another woman run for the White House.

Read the rest of Maya Schwenar's article, Women in the Running, here.