Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Culture of Fear and Barack Obama

The topic below was originally posted February 14th, on my blog the Intrepid Liberal Journal and crossposted today at The Wild Wild Left, Independent Bloggers Alliance, The Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

American politics typically reflects our cultural ethos of the moment. Just consider these questions:

  • Has our culture promoted community or celebrated greed?
  • Is our foreign policy based upon cooperation with the community of nations or the imperatives of empire?
  • Can individuals live in dignity regardless of their profession, economic class, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation or is gentrified wealth valued above character?
Ultimately, the answer to each of those questions is determined by the answer to this question: are we a culture of fear or confidence? The answer is America has vacillated between the two and been both at the same time. A confidence-based culture survived the Great Depression, defeated Nazi Germany, saved Western Europe with the Marshall Plan, nurtured a growing middle class, expanded rights and opportunities for minorities and women, welcomed immigrants that helped build this country, landed on the Moon and prevailed in the Cold War. It was America’s confidence-based culture that allowed my grandfather to escape Nazi persecution in Poland and comfortably raise a family as a salaried worker in the garment industry.

A fear-based culture engendered paranoia about Japanese Americans, communists, black criminals, radical feminists, environmental extremists, rock music, socialized medicine, Islamic fanatics, foreigners, as well as government regulation of business, atheists, secularists and social egalitarianism. It was our fear-based culture that detained the innocent Muslim brother of a former graduate school classmate of mine in 2002. Sadly and shamefully, industry, corporate interests, the media and politicians to ensure profits and maintain power effectively utilize fear.

President Eisenhower presciently warned Americans about the military industrial complex as the defense industry exploited fear in the name of national security. Through systematic brainwashing from birth, Americans are conditioned to fear black men while the correctional industry gorges itself on their exponential incarceration rate. Overall, the hidden hand of a fear industrial complex guides Americans.

In response to this pathology, those of us on the political left are motivated by fear and loathing of fear merchants who champion unjust wars, gratuitously incarcerate non-violent criminals and demonize unions. People like me are afraid of global warming, globalization, government officials that sanction torture in our country’s name, the rising cost of living, HMOs that allow bean counters to overrule doctors, the housing market, overzealous preachers who denounce evolution, the decline of public education, our crumbling infrastructure and the systematic erosion of our civil liberties.

Hence our political dialogue has become the great fear debate. Conservatives fear people who want to redistribute wealth, promote permissiveness, debase our white Judeo-Christian identity and surrender America’s position as the world’s lone superpower. Liberals like me fear the agents of corporatism and national security zealots who ignore the environment, steal elections, exacerbate the widening gap between rich and poor, launch immoral and ill-conceived wars and claim it’s all in the name of God and freedom.

Most Americans have overdosed on fear. I know there remains a fringe that will never get over their fear addiction. The thirty-percent that still support George W. Bush on one side as well as far left-wing reactionaries who regard anyone who ever votes for Democrats as unprincipled compromisers. The majority of Americans however are exhausted by fear. Seven years of the Bush/Cheney war mongering crime syndicate and a Democratic Party led by a self-gelding machine of ineptitude too afraid to stand up to them have Americans hungering for a fresh politics of confidence and renewal.

How remarkable that at this moment in history, we have a kaleidoscope candidate for president in Barack Obama with ancestry from Kenya and Kansas. A growing and diverse movement is projecting its’ hopes upon him. Some have condescendingly taken to referring to this as a cult. Such people are missing the point.

Across the divide of race and gender, Obama is increasingly viewed as someone who represents their ideals. I was absorbed by a conversation I overheard while taking the A-Train back home to Brooklyn today. A young Hispanic woman wearing an Obama t-shirt and a middle-aged white man in an expensive business suit, who acknowledged voting for Bush twice were talking about how they both wanted Obama to become president. What really amazed me was when the gentleman said, “I don’t agree with him but the country needs him.” I almost decided to stay on past my stop just to hear more of the conversation.

Now Obama is no saint. For example, Paul Krugman has rightfully taken Obama to task for attacking Senator Clinton’s plan for universal health care with a reprise of the Harry and Louise style propaganda from 1994. As far as policy is concerned, I believe there are larger considerations then the differences between Clinton and Obama on healthcare: namely that Obama opposed the Iraq war while Clinton cowardly supported it out of political expediency.

Putting that issue aside though, while critics like Krugman dismissively refer to Obama’s support as cultish they’re missing a larger point: if people with very different backgrounds and experiences such as the two I witnessed on the subway today are projecting their hopes upon Obama, he has a far better chance of serving the progressive cause then the polarizing Hillary Clinton.

On the flip side, Obama may also crash and burn either as a candidate or later as president, leaving the country even more disillusioned and fearful then before. When you’re a human kaleidoscope it’s almost inevitable that some constituencies will become disillusioned.

Nevertheless, I’m hoping Obama can help my country repair the national imbalance that currently favors fear over confidence. Not with the faux confidence of George W. Bush that is really fear under the guise of bravado and leads to the chest thumping and self-defeating pursuit of empire. Or the fear-based triangulation of Hillary Clinton that seeks to project strength through political expediency over doing what’s right. We need a leader that can inspire Americans to boldly address challenges as one people instead of dividing the spoils amongst race and class at home while alienating the world abroad as an empire in decline.

I had other preferences for president: Russ Feingold, Al Gore and John Edwards. I’m sure many of you reading this had other preferences as well. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee I will vote for her because any Republican is far worse in my opinion. Indeed, a John McCain presidency would be a calamity. However, in choosing between Clinton and Obama, I ask my fellow Democrats to chose the candidate that can best strengthen as well as consolidate institutions that empower the progressive cause of economic and social justice. Obama isn’t merely our best chance to win this November. He represents America’s best opportunity to reject fear and reclaim our future with confidence.

FISA Fallout

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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I must say, I have to giggle at the utter silliness of the GOP these days. Yesterday was a prime example of their staged fake rage.

During the FISA fracas, the House Republicans got up and left. They claim it was spontaneous, but how spontaneous could it have been when they walked out, en masse, to an awaiting press corps, with cameras already set-up, microphones prepped and the sat trucks standing by to beam the new fake rage to media satellites for global broadcast?

Regardless of what they want you to think, in actuality, this was planned, schemed and orchestrated well in advance.

I hope that pig of a bill is buried forever. The GOP can weep all they want.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feminists 1, Biblethumpers 0

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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When I was growing up in an evangelical family, there was a lot of bullshit in terms of what I had to believe. These days, the BS evangelicals must swallow is a lot higher, wider and deeper than it was in 1979. But I think the general social trend is growing more progressive. The more we as a society grow in a progressive way, the louder and more idiotic the evangelicals must be to survive - the more attention they must draw to themselves. The more progressive pressure that is applied to evangelicals, the more they are forced to move farther to the right, thus the more inconsequential they become.

For example let's look at the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK used to be a huge influence, especially in the American South. They were terrorists and those that are still members of the Klan should be regarded as terrorists. They should be put on the no-fly list and treated the same as Al Qaeda.

Eventually, over several generations, America tossed out the idea of "blacks being inferior" and we have moved toward a more colorless society. Before you send me hate mail, let me say, racism is alive and well in America and we still have a long way to go. A very long way. When I was born in the 60's, Blacks in the South had to jump through unimaginable hoops just to vote. Now, the woman that handled my last voter registration issue at the local Board of Elections was Black. In less than 40 years, that is a HUGE change. Less than 50 years ago, a Black man marrying a White woman could lead to a lynching. Now, hardly anyone cares. I am a White guy who has been married to a Black woman for 15 years and never has anyone come up to me and said something stupid. We are just another American couple - not a mixed race couple, an American couple. Even when we travel to the rural parts of North Carolina, where Rebel Flags grace damn near every front yard, no one cause a ruckus, no one give us the disapproving eye. Nothing. Clearly, we are not living in 1960. Clearly Dr. King moved mountains.

I think the internet helps. The web is a barrage of free speech - an assault of ideas ranging from sublime to spectacular. From recipes to lifestyles, you are constantly having your ideas challenged. Your way of thinking reevaluated.

It as neurological Darwinism on fast forward.

It happens one person at a time.

Before I moved to the real town of Dobson, NC, I was well on my way to challenging the ideas of my evangelical family. The first thing on the list was religion, or at least the laundry list of crazy ideas I was required to subscribe to. And religion was the first thing to go. I went to the Synagogue, I went to the Mosque, I went to everything I could find. (I never could find a snake-handling church - that would have rocked!) I eventually dumped Christianity and went home.

Same thing we race. I started dating out of my race in High School (more like mowed through according to my friends at the time). Then my political views were challenged.

Tink Von Wagnersteinstadtdorffmacher is the new character in the strip - actually not new, I drew her years ago as she was one of the original characters but it is her first appearance. Her storyline is starting. Biblethumper Jr. has increasingly been questioning his father for some time. And now he has met Tink and Tink will change him more than he ever expected.

The real life Tink is a girl I went to High School with. I loved spending time with her family. The stuff her brother and I got into was right out of Ferris Bueller. There was this one time we met this redneck with a donkey... oh never mind...

Tink didn't read Teen Beat or magazines focused on the young female demographic, she subscribed to US News and World Report. After her brother and I would finish up a night of harassing rednecks on the back roads of Surry County, the Von Wagnersteinstadtdorffmacher family and I would drive to Hardee's at midnight for a round of biscuits and foreign policy chat. Where others challenged me on racism, they challenged me on politics.

And I changed.

Yesterday White males flocked to Barack Obama to vote for him in the Potomac Primaries. White guys voted for a Black man to pull this nation to safety. Change has been underway since Dr. King told us of his dream. Barack isn't campaigning on bringing change, he is change manifest.

Obama is where he is at today because society changed, one person at a time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hillary to Black Men, Black Women, and Democratic Activist "You Don't Matter"

AAPP: I watched CNN in amazement yesterday afternoon as Hillary Clinton dismissed her weekend losses. It's clear that Hillary Clinton has a strategy of continuing her color aroused campaign. She continues to bring up at every opportunity that Obama is Black, as he beats her and Bill in more states with large white populations.

AAPP: " Hillary is truly becoming a modern day American political campaigning disgrace, saying essentially that 'Democratic activists' and black voters don't matter.
Hillary and Bill are truly showing their deep down color aroused feelings regarding black America. It truly seems to be deep rooted and just plain angry."

Both John Aravosis (DC) from the blog America Blogs and the Daily Kos are covering the story.

Here is what Hillary had to say today about you 'activists' and blacks who vote in the Democratic primaries. You see, you don't really count.

 Clinton downplayed her weekend losses Monday.

Hillary Clinton on Monday explained away Barack Obama's clean sweep of the weekend's caucuses and primaries as a product of a caucus system that favors "activists" and, in the case of the Louisiana primary, an energized African-American community.

She told reporters who had gathered to watch her tour a General Motors plant here that "everybody knew, you all knew, what the likely outcome of these recent contests were."...

Noting that "my husband never did well in caucus states either," Clinton argued that caucuses are "primarily dominated by activists" and that "they don't represent the electorate, we know that."
The DailyKos notes:

One of the hilarious side-effects of every Obama victory is the spin from Clinton quarters and its surrogates and supporters explaining why said victories "don't matter".

Iowa didn't matter because it was a caucus state, and it's undemocratic. Same goes for every other caucus state including Maine. The only caucus state that mattered was Nevada.

Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alaska, and Utah don't matter because they're small Red states that Democrats won't carry in November.

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana don't matter because they have black people. Expect the same spin out of DC this Tuesday. Black people don't apparently count.

Washington and Minnesota don't matter because they have educated white people.

In any case, Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana didn't matter on Saturday because everyone expected Obama to win them anyway.

Virginia and Maryland, assuming they're won by Obama, will be a combination of the "black people" and "educated people" rationalizations. Throw a little of "Obama was expected to win anyway", and you've got the trifecta.

Illinois doesn't matter because that's Obama's home state. Expect the same spin when Obama wins Hawaii by double-digit margins in two weeks.

Missouri doesn't matter because Clinton sent out a press release claiming she won it.

Colorado was a caucus state, so that leaves Delaware and Connecticut. Those are the only two states that apparently matter, giving Hillary Clinton a commanding 10-2 lead among states that matter.

One final line of attack used to minimize Obama's victories is the notion that "he can't win states without his base", his base of course being African Americans, white yuppies, and Red state Democrats. More HERE

AAPP: It has become more and more obvious that
Billary has color arousal issues with a black man running against her and winning. It's also obvious to this African American Political Pundit that Hillary supports her own political abortion when she makes statements like she did yesterday. I guess the Obama/Hillary ticket won't happen. And that may just be a good thing for the Democrats. If Hillary wins the nomination, blacks may just stay home."

Monday, February 11, 2008

John McCain Is Ready For His Gay Moment

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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George W. Bush, in essence, chose his successor for the White House and it was John McCain.

Nauseating? You betcha.

But this is not the first incident of Bush/McCain love. After McCain capitulated to Bush in 2000, they held a joint press conference where John endorsed Bush. They didn't seem to be friends then, but they seem to have grown to like each other. They even had a "hug" moment that was caught on film. (link) I am sure you have seen that photo on the web before. The adoration from John to George is remarkable. BTW, where is John's other hand?

With all the hugging, groping and hero-worship that is going on between the two, the next thing you know, they will be caught kissing. We have been due for another Gay awakening/scandal/prostitution arrest coming from the GOP for some time and maybe it will be Bush and McCain.

I can't wait to order my McCain 08 ball gag!