Today is the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I remember where I was when I heard the news, as pretty much every American above a certain age does. I remember watching The Towers fall. I remember the candle-lit vigils, the fear, and the oddly-quiet skies, free of air traffic for several days in early September.
I also remember one of the first things I thought, after I was pretty sure it wasn’t the beginning of World War III:
Oh, man, are the whack jobs ever going to capitalize on this!
I know. Cynical. But I was not wrong. Instead of coming together as a nation, our so-called leaders at the time managed to parlay the events of September 11, 2001, into a virtual rampage of jingoism, civil rights violations (which still continue today), war profiteering, and fascism. The Bush Administration, aided by Congress and a complicit corporate media, managed to squander the goodwill of the world, while trampling on the very Constitution they were sworn to defend.
If this were the only result of that horrible time, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I would simply be observing in silence, praying for a light to come back to our nation. But this nationalist backlash engendered yet a second backlash–the reinvigoration of American liberals.
For 30 years or so, the Democrats and other more progressive parties had tried in vain to fire up the large number of liberals in the United States. After the 60s and 70s, and the economic betrayal of the Reagan/Bush eras, many liberals were just weary.
But George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove did more to mobilize liberals in the United States than any Democrat could have hoped to do. Suddenly, speaking out was not just for granola-crunching, Birkenstock-wearing hippies. Librarians and nuns were the New Radicals. And it wasn’t just politics. The Christian Left stood up in a big way to reclaim their faith from the right-wing crackpots who were more interested in guns and gays than in God.
And while conservatives still have the bigger voice in America, liberals are still moving upwards and making their voices heard.
So what does this have to do with Opportunity Rising? It’s just a reminder that even the most horrific events can serve as a catalyst for progress, social change, and justice. It’s a reminder that even when things look the bleakest, there are people out there brave enough, strong enough, and smart enough to stand up for what is right.
So while we still fight daily against prejudice, bigotry, fear-mongering, and financial inequality, we can at least be assured that our numbers are growing. We will get there. We just have to keep fighting the good fight.
Love to you all–
There are some words that just don’t have an equivalent in English (but should). If there’s one word we should all comprehend, it’s the German word schadenfreude. It means, roughly, getting your jollies off of other people’s trouble. To put it in sports terms, it’s your team having a bye week and watching the rival’s game in hopes they get their asses handed to them. That glee in seeing your “enemies” fall.
We are none of us innocent of this.
But politics are not sports–at least, they shouldn’t be. So imagine how disgusted I felt with myself when I felt a twinge of illicit glee when a certain Southwestern governnor was recently indicted on two counts of abuse of power. After several years of watching this man attack and attack and attack, I have to admit I felt good seeing him on the other end of the stick for a change.
That’s perfectly normal, you might say.
But it’s not right. Not for my soul, and not for the country.
Yes, some of us lean left, some of us lean right, and some of us are waaaaaay out in BFE. But we are all still Americans, and when one American leader is corrupt, we all suffer. There are no winners and losers in politics–either we all win, or we all lose.
This doesn’t just apply to the United States. Governance has become a blood sport, pitting country against country, region against region, and ethnic group against ethnic group. There are no winners, only victors. And the victors never stay on top for long.
Until we realize that the sole purpose of governance and politics is to benefit the governed, and until we work to remove competition, antagonism, and schadenfreude from politics, we will continue to inhabit a very dangerous, hateful world. Until we truly embrace the fact that we are all human, despite our differences, and that we are all in this together, things will never truly get better.
So I speak to that vile little snot inside me who is quietly gloating about another GOP governor getting hoist on his own petard when I say, “Get the hell over yourself.”
We must choose love. We must choose compassion. We must move beyond the pettiness that is killing our world. Otherwise, we will be stuck in this stupid game forever.
It’s not hard. Just make a choice. Today, I will be kind. Today I will not find joy in another’s pain. Today I will create an atmosphere of love and acceptance.
Do that, and then pass it on.
P.S. If you read an early version of this, please forgive me. I got so wrapped up in trying to embed a stupid video that I forgot to proofread. Mea culpa.
There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.
After adjusting for inflation, spending under Obama is falling at a 1.4% annual pace — the first decline in real spending since the early 1970s. Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president using raw dollars, and it was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation.
(Of course, there are some who say this is exactly the wrong time to be slowing down spending…)
The main drivers of recent deficits are Bush administration policies: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts and the so-called “automatic stabilizers” — unemployment insurance spending, lower tax burdens — built into existing policy to combat economic downturns.
Recovery measures by Bush and Obama caused a short-term spike in deficits but have mostly phased out and thus represent only modest fractions of the national debt.
But expect the GOP to yell about the deficit anyway in the upcoming campaign:
…most voters don’t actually care about the deficit itself, or really understand what it is. But it’s a scary-sounding word that conjures thoughts of government bloat and reckless spending, which makes it an irresistible weapon for a recession-era opposition party.
And not just the deficit, but also spending and taxes are all lower today than when Obama took office.
Republicans say the United States is rapidly becoming an “entitlement society” in which there is a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work. A new CBPP analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.
And finally, the age gap, revealed: In a recent poll of Florida, Romney leads with landline respondents, 48%-45%. But Obama leads among cell phone respondents, 57%-34%.
When Julius Caesar’s army crossed the Rubicon river in northeastern Italy, it was considered an act of insurrection so famous that “crossing the rubicon” has come to mean “passing the point of no return.”
Three rubicons that America has passed came to my attention this week.
First, in 2009, the amount of data sent with mobile devices exceeded the sum of transmitted voice data. And the calls we do make are getting shorter. While in 2003 the average local mobile phone call lasted a leisurely three minutes, by 2010 it had been trimmed to a terse one minute and 47 seconds.
Thinking of gay/lesbian relationships as morally acceptable is the new normal, according to Gallup.
And finally, the Census Bureau says that in 2011, children born to racial and ethnic minority parents represented the majority of all recent births in the United States, outpacing those born to white parents. The white demographic is on its way to becoming a “majority minority”: it now only represents 63.4 percent of the U.S. population. By the late 2040s, it will be less than 50 percent of the population.
Said William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution:
This is a fundamental tipping point signaling a change in our demographic structure for decades to come.
You have to be hiding under a rock to not be aware that this week, President Barack Obama announced officially that he supports the idea that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. And if you’ve missed the shit-storm of controversy that followed his announcement, you’ve probably pulled that rock completely over your head.
It’s no big secret that Obama has been a quiet, steady advocate of the LGBT community since taking office in 2009. His list of accomplishments in that arena are substantial and impressive:
- Ordered the government to extend key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees (2009)
- Hosted the first White House LGBT Pride reception (2009)
- Banned discrimination in federal workplaces based on gender identity (2010)
- Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law (2010)
- Clarified the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to ensure family leave for LGBT employees (2010)
- Allowed transgender Americans to receive true gender passports without surgery (2010)
- Led a United Nations measure to restore “sexual orientation” to the definition of human rights (2010)
- Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” allowing LGBT Americans to serve openly in the military (2010)
- Announced his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in courts (2011)
- Completed an Institute of Medicine study on LGBT health, the first of its kind (2011)
- Clarified the meaning of “family” to include LGBT relationships, helping to protect bi-national families threatened by deportation (2011)
- Permitted military chaplains to officiate same-sex marriages where legal (2011)
- In his presidential proclamation of National Adoption Month, called for equal treatment for same-sex adoptive parents (2011)
- Announced HUD’s new rule protecting against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (2012)
- Announced White House LGBT Conference Series to address issues affecting LGBT Americans, including health, housing, and safety (2012)
- Ensured transgender veterans receive respectful care according to their true gender through the Veterans Health Administration (2012)
- Came out against North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would prohibit same-sex marriage in the state (2012)
And this isn’t even close to the complete list.
Let me tell you something about me and Barack Obama. I didn’t support him in the 2008 Democratic primaries. I was a Hillary Gal all the way (I still am a strong supporter of Secretary of State Clinton). I thought she was strong, smart, and powerfully positioned to lead the nation. While I respected Obama and thought he was quite intelligent, I felt he lacked the experience necessary to do the job.
When Hillary lost the nomination, I was heart-broken, but I knew I had to throw my support behind Obama. Honestly, there was no other choice. I was wary, but determined that he was far superior to the other options – voting for the McCain/Palin train wreck or (worse) not voting at all.
In the three years since Obama has taken office, I’ve had to eat my words a bit with many of my friends who supported him from the start. His administration has been one of reason, good sense, increasing prosperity, and radical positive change. He took a country at the brink of utter economic collapse and set back on the right path. He made being smart cool again (an idea that had critically declined in popularity under his predecessor’s watchful eye). And, without fanfare or hoopla, he just kept doing the right thing for all of us, including LGBT Americans.
How Can You Tell the Character of a Man?
A dear friend of mine, Chris Dickenson (one of the Obama-from-the-Start crowd), used to say, “You can get a really good idea of a man’s character by looking at the people who hate him.” Over the past year, we’ve had ample opportunity to see the character of Obama’s haters, from the has-been rocker who ranted publicly against Obama and Hillary Clinton while stumping for Mitt Romney to the billionaire Koch brothers who see America as something to be bought and sold for profit.
Yeah—okay, so he has some icky enemies. But the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is just another sort of asshole.
So why have I come around? I never drank the Kool-Aid. I was an Obama skeptic from the beginning.
But I’m also aware. I’ve made a point of keeping an eye on the political scene (something taught to me by the Harvard C-ster, Dub Bush). And I’ve been impressed. I’ve been impressed and reassured and absolutely in awe of the Mr. Obama’s composure and focus. It was no ad campaign or Facebook page that turned me into an Obama supporter. It was Barack Obama himself.
Don’t Let Me Tell You How to Vote
There is absolutely no way I’m going to end this blog post by telling you to vote for or financially support Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. No, I’m going to do something even better. I’m going to challenge you.
If you’re an Obama supporter, don’t just blindly support him. Educate yourself. Look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. The president is a charming man, and the Obamas are a beautiful family. Don’t equate charm and beauty with good and wise. Do your homework. Know your facts. And when detractors show up at your doorstep, don’t defend him by saying he’s a good guy. Have the facts as your ammunition.
If you’re on the other side, I ask you to do the same thing. Really do the same thing—look at his record, read his speeches, check his policy. Then look at the people who are telling you that Obama is no good for this country. Look at their records, read their speeches, check their policies. Have these people done you a bit of good? Are these people out to make your life better? Do these people, when the camera is off, actually live the values that you support?
It’s not enough to vote Democrat or Republican (or Ron Paul) blindly any more. The world is in a critical state. You no longer have the luxury of ignorance. You no longer have the luxury of being sheep. You must educate yourself, and you must make a stand, one way or another.
If, after you do your research, you decide that four more years of Barack Obama’s administration is the way to go, why not contribute a little green to helping him get there?
And if, after you do your research, you still want to vote for the other guys? Well, you can find your own links. 😀
No administration has reduced aggregate government spending as a percentage of GDP as much as Obama’s in forty years.
In the last twenty years, the biggest spenders and borrowers are Republicans and the most fiscally conservative presidents have been Democrats.
That is all.
There is no place in the Republican party for gay people. If you vote for a Republican, you are saying, “Yes, I agree that homosexuals are second-class citizens. Please keep discriminating against them and making their lives harder and more unpleasant. Be sure to let them know at every opportunity that they are evil.”
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Richard Grenell. Grew up in a Christian home, parents were missionaries for the Church of God.
He grew up, attended a Christian college, and became an active, true-believing Republican. Watching the Republicans take over the House in 1994, he was ecstatic: “Everyone around me had chills. It was such a validation of ‘It’s great to be a Republican.’ ”
He worked tirelessly for the party for two decades, championed Gingrich, became a movement neo-conservative on a whole variety of issues, especially the area he was selected to be a spokesman for: national security.
Mr. Grenell joined the Mitt Romney campaign in April with sterling recommendations from Bush-era foreign policy figures, and an impressive résumé. He had served as a United States spokesman at the United Nations under four ambassadors during the Bush administration, including John Bolton.
He told the Romney camp he was gay. They didn’t mind. That’s got nothing to do with what they hired him for.
But the ultra-religious minded, quite a bit. And started making a lot of noise about it.
So the Romney camp told their new spokesman not to speak. Specifically, on a conference call about national security that he had helped to organize, he was told to listen and not speak.
He saw the writing on the wall, and resigned.
And there was much rejoicing from the religious right over their “huge win.”
Bryan Fischer of the AFA:
“Mitt Romney has been forced to say, ‘Look, I overstepped my bounds here. I went outside the parameters here. I went off the reservation with this hire. The pro-family community has called me back to the table here. Called me back inside the borders of the reservation.’ “
So now you know for absolutely sure: The ultra-religious right calls the shots in the Republican Party.
Romney has gone from promising to be more pro-gay in the Senate than Ted Kennedy, to hanging a lone gay spokesman out to dry and pledging to write into the very constitution that gays are second class citizens.
If you’re gay, or your friend, son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt or uncle is gay, you just learned something about what the GOP now is. Do not forget it.
a majority of Americans now back marriage equality, including a tsunami of the under-30s. Many moderate middle class suburban voters don’t like the idea of a campaign that cannot include anyone openly gay – especially when that person is about as neoconservative as you can get. The military issue has been resolved – and far from the calamity of a radical social experiment, it has been close to a total non-event. And yet the GOP – because of its fusion with Christianist fundamentalism – cannot have a single openly gay person out front. In Britain, there are now 19 openly gay Tory MPs, and the prime minister is backing marriage equality in a parliamentary vote this year. That’s the difference between a sane and inclusive conservative party – and a reactionary rump of religious fanatics.
To conclude, a comparison of two quotes:
“The Democrats didn’t have any pro-life speakers. They stopped them from talking. We had everyone, from far-right to pro-choice. It’s ludicrous to say the Republicans were intolerant, were filled with hate.”
– Ric Grenell, 1995
“Ric, the campaign has requested that you not speak on this call. It’s best to lay low for now.”
– Alex Wong to Ric Grenell, April 26, 2012
Remember Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was in the national spotlight when Rush Limbaugh attacked her as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for advocating employer-covered contraception?
On Thursday, it was announced that Fluke is engaged.
Fox News’ Monica Crowley reacted by tweeting “To a man?”
What? She was a slut, but now she’s gay?
Blogger Digby cracks:
So, if you’re going to insult someone as a slut for advocating for birth control, calling them a lesbian a month later just makes you look stupider than you already look. Which I wouldn’t have thought possible, since needing affordable birth control doesn’t make you a slut in the first place — and even if Fluke were a lesbian, who gives a damn? Peeling back the layers of idiocy in these insults could take days.
Florida’s law requiring drug tests for people who seek welfare benefits was sold on the promise that it would save taxpayers money. In fact, it has cost the state more money than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test.
Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.
As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.
Why is it that teen birthrates remain highest in America’s most religious and politically conservative states? I thought they were supposed to be all holy and everything. Sounds like they’re too moral for birth control but they’re not so righteous that they’ll stop fornicating.
But it’s true: Teen birthrates are substantially higher in conservative states that voted for McCain in 2008, and remain high in more religious states.