At this point of the day most Americans are catatonic because they ate too much turkey. In honor of the food coma you may find yourself, I thought I’d share these classic photos of turkeys (both of the animal and political variety). Can you believe it was just 4 short years ago America was able to say good bye to President George W. Bush, and Governor Sarah Palin was rebuffed by a horrified electorate watching her pardon a turkey in honor of Thanksgiving while another is being slaughtered behind her during a television interview.
President George W Bush was keynote speaker 1-November.
The conference subject matter: How to outsource your money to avoid paying US taxes.
Interesting that the condition of his speaking was a complete media blackout. Would love media to ask Mitt Romney what he thinks about this.
ABOUT THE EVENT: Organizers of an investment conference in the Cayman Islands say they have been forbidden from disclosing any details about a speech by former President George W. Bush in the offshore financial haven, an event spokesman said Thursday.
The keynote speech by the former president is “totally closed to all journalists,” and conference organizers are forbidden from discussing any aspect of it even in general terms, spokesman Dan Kneipp said.
4-years later and I’m still ashamed he was my President
Read more here.
Gay activists of all varieties have camped themselves in Washington, D.C. this weekend. For sure, some will attend both the National March for Equality
and the HRC Annual National Dinner
, but for many this is a divided camp with a common purpose – advancement of GLBT issues and rights. And tensions between these two camps - the first predominantly local and grass roots organizations which run the gamut from the radical Left to Log Cabin Republicans; the second mostly wealthy gay and lesbian supporters of the Democratic National Party – is getting more rancorous.
A direct result of this increasing friction can be seen on the web as this debate within the GLBT community spills over into mainstream (albeit liberal) media. Just this week (to name a few) there is the featured article in The Daily Beast, “Can Obama Make Peace with Gays”; the lead story on The Huffington Post, “Gay Rights Speech: What Should Obama Say Tonight”; and Andrew Sullivan’s scathing review in The Atlantic, “The Battered Wife Syndrome of the HRC”. All are causing a lot of chatter on the internet and really only represent the tip of the iceberg of what is currently online.
Like the various groups referenced in the articles above, I have conflicting feelings and vacillate between pleasure to have Obama in office, because I truly believe he wishes me no ill will (I honestly did not feel that way about the former President) and disapointment that more has not been done either through supporting legislation or executive order. However, I do remind myself that although Obama is fairly liberal, he is socially moderate/conservative with regards to GLBT issues. He has never said anything that made me hold out hope that he would dash D.O.M.A.
or lead the charge with any significant legislation.
That being said, I can also understand why many have been frustrated by what is perceived as reticence or lack of initiative. The GLBT voting block has grown in significance in the Democratic Party. Numbers in several politically important states are up and more importantly money donated has increased notably. If this voting bloc feels that they are not being heard by a Democratic candidate, that man/woman will see a drop in donations, volunteers and votes. Whatever the rift, I hope this mends because the option of having another Christian Conservative in office honestly sends shivers down my spine.
Approximately one week ago news stations and blogs were obsessed by reports that the Director of the C.I.A. – Leon Panetta – had recently visited Congress and disclosed that for the past 8 years there had been a secret counterterrorism program that had intentionally been concealed from the Senate and House intelligence committees.
The NY Times July 11th article, “Cheney is linked to concealment of C.I.A. Project” implicates V.P. Cheney. The Times asserts, “The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.”
It turns out that the program was designed to target leaders of Qaeda, which I think most Americans (especially in the days that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) would favor. The Times issued a follow up story in their July 13th article, “C.I.A. had plans to assassinate Qaeda leaders”. The article indicates that “Mr. Panetta scuttled the program, which would have relied on paramilitary teams, shortly after the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center recently informed him of its existence. The next day, June 24, he told Congressional Intelligence Committees that the plan had been hidden from lawmakers, initially at the instruction of former Vice President Dick Cheney,” again implicating former V.P. Cheney.
I know many people do not have a problem with the idea of taking out leaders of terrorist organizations, but that is really not the issue that makes me so uncomfortable. Rather it is the lack of disregard for the “checks and balances” that makes our Democracy work (and worthwhile) that time and again seem to have been completely disregarded in the Bush administration. This concept that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney knew what was best and could only be effective if they were allowed to operate without supervision and without having to answer for their actions leaves me sick to my stomach. What would be the reaction (I wonder aloud) if President Obama and V.P. Biden operated in such a manner? What if they acted with the best of intentions but refused to disclose information, respect other branches of government and twisted laws to find interpretations that suited their means?
In the weeks leading up to this controversy, V.P. Dick Cheney was on the proverbial war path asserting that President Obama was compromising the safety of the U.S. He made several visits to the Sunday morning talk shows (i.e. Meet the Press, Face the Nation, etc…) and his daughter, Liz, was almost a permanent fixture on MSNBC and CNN expressing her disdain for the new administrations’ actions.
However in the days that have followed since Panetta shut down the Bush era counter terrorism program, there has not been a single peep from anyone named Cheney. Why the sudden silence now? Silence is not an impartial judge, and I’m left to wonder if the former V.P. believes the public’s assumptions are preferable to his answering these accusations. Mr. Cheney are you even more evil and despicable than my assumptions would lead me to believe?
Earlier this week, four significant memos written by the Bush administration between 2002 and 2005 on the interrogation of terror detainees were released. Among the interrogation documents released, was a list of 13 techniques authorized by the Justice Department for use by the C.I.A. on high-level suspects. The NY Times details some of the methods in their article on Friday, “Interrogation memos detail harsh tactics by the CIA”. However, the reason I am writing this entry is not to dwell on techniques approved by the Bush administration and applied to unsavory characters, but to revisit a blog entry I wrote in November 2007, “What are Values?”.
I know that many Americans have no problem with the thought of the U.S. torturing individuals or using any necessary means to secure the greater good for the public. Although I think I can make a strong argument that torturing people is not an effective way to get reliable information, I wanted to respond to the news of these memos for a different reason. When I think of men torturing people, I conjure up images of communist Russia and China or rogue nations like Chad, Syria and Iran – these are places where liberty is unknown. For reasons rooted in our Judeo-Christian culture and our founding political ideals (the very things that make us such a unique and special country) I can not imagine an America that would engage in serious dialog about ‘acceptable torture techniques’.
There should be nothing acceptable about torture. Are we a nation that hold our ideals true or do we only speak of these values (i.e. sanctity of life, rights of all individuals, etc…) when we are correcting our children or in our respective houses of worship? I expect our country to walk the talk and lead by example – not footnote exceptions for torturing individuals when our very ideals become inconvenient. I can not reconcile the image of a United States that condones torture with the image of my country when we are at our best. Martin Luther King appealed to the better side of Man in his “I have a dream” speech. I have chosen this excerpt which I think better expresses my fears and hopes for a better America.
“In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
Martin Luther King – I Have a Dream, 1963
Yesterday President Obama’s administration formally endorsed a UN statement calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality, reversing a measure that former President George W. Bush had refused to sign. You can read the full article here.
As I’ve pointed out from time to time on my blog, there are many reasons I vote for a party vs. the individual. Paramount in that decision is the fact that while there may be many moderates in the Republican Party who have no problem with the fact that I’m a homosexual – they have no power or voice in a party that is in the arms of the Christian Far Right so why would I willingly allow a single seat to that party even if I like the individual candidate? I’m not here to change a political party – I expect to feel that I have a seat at the table of a political party. This latest reversal of the Bush administration is one more tangible and distasteful reminder that for a gay man – there is only one political party – so much for having choices.
The Boston Globe has posted Dan Wasserman’s best OpEd cartoons from 2008. Many of these are quite funny. I’ve included one of my favorites. If you would like to link to Boston.com to see all of Dan’s cartoons link here.