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.
If I’m to believe most polls, a significant majority of the US is pleased that in January there will be a new President sworn into office. However, that knowledge is bittersweet considering how late people were to realize the complete incompetence of the current administration. (Perhaps I should not have read my recent 401k statement before creating this entry!) Reading about the severity of our economic problems in the paper and listening to the bleak news that President-elect Obama will face in 2009 really ticks me off.
Earlier this past summer President Bush was quoted when he thought he was off camera attributing the economic ‘slow-down’ as a “Wall Street Hangover“. The press made much ado about it for about 2-minutes but when the bottom dropped out from the economy about 10-weeks later and the full impact of the “hangover” were being felt nobody bothered to go back and really question why his administration was content to do nothing. All the reporting seems to be about how the sky is falling and every crazy idea needs to be approved by Congress ASAP.
I can not seem to temper my frustration with either the Bush administration or the American public which validated his Presidency by re-electing him 2004; frankly I’m seething. Bush’s cabinet of quacks (I include VP Cheney among them ), his inane economic policies which revolved around irresponsible spending and cutting any kind of government regulation (poisoned pet food, tainted children’s toys from China to name a few examples – I won’t even bother to address the banking deregulation which seems too obvious a target) and nepotism at the highest levels of the administration (which at its worst gave us incompetent men like Alberto Gonzalez) have all contributed to our current financial mess and it sets my blood boiling.
Recording my frustrations in this blog will not change our current situation, will not lessen the hurt this downturn in the economy will have on millions of Americans but it is cathartic so thank you for humoring me.
This pretty much sums it up.
To quote President Clinton, “It’s the economy stupid.”
Each election cycle I watch candidates (generally but not exclusively from the Right) call into question the patriotism of their opposition. Bush’s attacks on John Kerry serve as a prime example. Kerry (like him or hate him) enlisted and served with honor in Vietnam. However, in the 2004 general election Kerry’s service in Vietnam was portrayed as calculating; not patriotic. By contrast, President Bush’s service in the TX Air National Guard was characterized as patriotic. Strange? It was to me. However, what was even more strange was the general public’s acceptance.
There is a pervasive belief that if you are liberal you are less patriotic. Even if I was the best writer in the world I know that I could not convince people differently so I don’t bother. However, I am impressed that Barack Obama has challenged this assumption in a speech he gave today to veterans by calling into question why John McCain would assume someone like Barrack Obama would not be as patriotic as anyone else.
Attached is an excerpt of his speech which I read on Politico.com today.
“But one of the things that we have to change in this country is the idea that people can’t disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. I have never suggested that Senator McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America’s national interest. Now, it’s time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same.
Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country. I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain. When I look out at this audience, I see people of different political views. You are Democrats and Republicans and Independents. But you all served together, and fought together, and bled together under the same proud flag. You did not serve a Red America or a Blue America — you served the United States of America.
So let’s have a serious debate, and let’s debate our disagreements on the merits of policy — not personal attacks. And no matter how heated it gets or what kind of campaign he chooses to run, I will honor Senator McCain’s service, just like I honor the service of every veteran in this room, and every American who has worn the uniform of the United States.”
President Bush is taking a lot of heat for blaming the current housing crisis and the subsequent economic downturn (a.k.a. – recession) on Wall Street. Specifically, he said that Wall Street ‘got drunk’ and was now suffering a ‘hangover’.
People are angry that he blamed Wall Street for the current economic crisis, but I think there is a ring of truth to his assessment. The part of his statement that frustrates me is, first – is he only able to recognize this binge in hindsight? and second – where was the government?
Bush made it clear that he abhorred government regulation and spent the past 8 years looking the other way while big business was told they could do whatever they wanted so why is he so surprised by this binge drinking? If Wall Street got drunk, there is no doubt in my mind that George Bush and the Republican led Congress were tending bar. Apparently there is no more open bar and people like you and me have been stiffed with the tab.
Rarely am I disgusted with my government. Well rarely am I totally disgusted with my government, but the news that the Pentagon released a now defunct memo from the Bush administration outlining the legal justifications and loopholes to torture “enemy combatants” really made me sick to my stomach. Even the term “enemy combatant” upsets me – because what they really mean is people. Perhaps they are mean, awful, terrible individuals but they are people all the same. The irony that life is sacred to Bush while it is in a woman’s womb is not lost on me. I suppose the lesson is after birth life must not be as valuable or special.
The News Hour discussed this subject for a good 10 minutes tonight on the evening news and for the life of me I’m still at a total loss to understand why / how we have allowed this administration to undercut our moral authority and reputation both in the world and at home (at least with Americans who feel as I do). Clearly the U.S. is not a rogue or terrorist nation. Obviously our country has contributed to the cause of human rights. And certainly most Americans believe that life (regardless of who we are talking about) is something to be treasured and treated with respect. So how can a Justice Department memo, dated March 14, 2003 written by former staffer John Yoo, that offered a defense if an interrogator was charged with violating U.S. or international laws for torturing enemy combatants even exist? How can the Bush Administration not see the damage he has inflicted on the repuation of the country? Considering he (Bush) has such a moralistic view on life, I can not understand how he justifies his actions – is he haunted by his decisions? I’m not left with that impression (not that it would make me feel better about what he has done). I am thoroughly disgusted and at a loss for words to adequately address this topic. I can only refer back to an earlier posting I wrote in late 2007 when waterboarding was a hot subject discussed in the news called “What Are Values?”