Thursday, November 30, 2006

President Carter's Take on Iraq

From Young Turks on Air America radio:

Well, you know, it (Iraq) has been a disaster. I think the administration and the present administration and even the neo-cons who orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, all look back on it and know it was a very great tragedy.

Its alienated most of the nations of the world away from us, dropped the esteem for America - the popularity of America, the trust of America to unprecedented lows, and now of course what we are trying to do is not to succeed in our original plans but to get out of Iraq with a minimal loss of life and prestige.

I think in many ways anyone that would argue that is was a success or a good decision, would be totally wrong. I'm not going to criticize President Bush because I agree with him on many things, but I believe that this was one of the biggest mistakes in foreign affairs that I've ever known. - Jimmy Carter; 39th President of the United States

President Carter added tonight on Anderson Cooper 360 that perhaps the greatest tragedy of all that gets left out of most discussions is what Iraq did to our efforts in Afghanistan. He said that we had the opportunity to defeat the terrorists there in that country, to rebuild it, and maybe even make it a model of self government, with the support of the world rather than snubbing the world as we did in Iraq.

There's a custom that ex-Presidents don't "criticize" sitting ones, so I'm sure that many people are furious with both Clinton and Carter for their words lately. But let's face it, folks. Its quite obvious how history is going to remember George W. Bush (and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Clarke), and it ain't going to be too sporty. Carter isn't remembered all that grandly himself, and he'll look like Honest Abe Lincoln alongside Dubya someday.

So to expect these men to play dead and not speak up is foolish. At some point it becomes their duty to do so. And honestly, if Bush goes much further into denial and continues to plow us further into destruction, I expect his own father to become a bit more assertive. To call Clinton and Carter's words partisan at this point is off base. It is akin to calling people partisan for wanting to find an end to Vietnam in the 70's.

Shameless personal plus that can't be verified, but I'm telling it anyway: In late 2002 and early 2003, I wasn't blogging, but I was very active on political message boards. I had been a Republican since college up until then. I began to see how people with a hard right view took the position of "kill em all". I also recognized that Hans Blix, the ultimate authority on WMD, said we were wrong, and our government suddenly decided he had no credibility.

I therefore took a very early stance against what I saw coming. I remember distinctly posting once that all of a sudden Iraq was being talked about by all the radio hacks at once, and they were using the same talking points. I said that it sounded like a PR campaign for an attack and I didn't like it. Soon afterward as the covert spin became overt, I asked how you would ever know you "won" something like that if the Iraqi's didn't "throw flowers" as Bush claimed.

I said that if dark skinned people attacked and occupied our country, I would be a freedom fighter, and I doubted that the dark skinned people felt any different about us occupying them. (I also pointed out that one of the tenets of Southern Republicans was NRA membership and their right to bear arms "in case they had to revolt or defend themselves". These are the very people who call the insurgents
"terrorists" today and seem to not have any clue that they would be the first ones to take to the streets if this happened here.)

Of course, the right wing of the political board I was on hated me. They believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that they were responsible for 9/11. Although both of these have been proven false....they probablystill do.

Its classic "don't bother me with the facts" arguing. And I can't stand it. I just wrote about two Democrats below who are accused of taking bribes. If the facts convict them, I want them out of office as badly as I want Cheney out. Ok, not true...but only because Cheney can do MUCH more damage due to his position.

The question is: What will it take to make them listen? And what will it take to get Republicans in Congress to speak up alongside America? The truly amazing thing is that John McCain was named today as the "front runner" for '08, and he appears to be willing to favor the war as long as Bush wants to stay there.

What is winning? Four years later, its the same question.

Why Memphis Will Never Be Nashville or Atlanta

There has always been lots of discussion around the economic surge in Nashville and why Memphis has been mired in stagnation. Many people blame "white flight"...the movement of the upper middle class east of the city, to Germantown and Collierville and south to Desoto County.
But in reality Memphis voters, whoever they are, have held the future of Memphis in their hands for years....and they have chosen to fail.
Today two city councilmen were charged with yet another bribery scandal.
The players?

1)Edmund Ford: Yes, one of those Fords. Brother of Harold, Sr. and defrocked state senator John...and uncle of Harold, Jr. (Sidebar: I believe if you look at the tiny margin of vote difference between Ford and Corker, the "Ford Family" reason for choosing Corker single-handedly beat Harold, Jr. Both of my parents were aghast at my support for Ford, purely on THAT basis. "You would vote for one of the FORDS?" Not fair to Harold, Jr., but dang...gotta admit it continues to look bad.)

2)Rickey Peete: This one is a classic Memphis story. It might remind you of Marion Barry. See Peete's a councilman because he got his voting rights back....see, because he lost them.....see, because he was in jail...for bribery, see? What is this idiot thinking? You'd think he would kinda check out a dude who tried to pay him off. Like maybe have him followed for a MONTH. But no...he allegedly took the twelve grand...and now he's probably screwed.

I can't really make any great contribution to this story, because I am not close enough to the people who consciously choose to elect people like this, as well as our mayor, Willie Herenton. I'm sure they have their reasons, and I'm sure they feel those reasons are sound.

But until I know and understand, I am disappointed and disgusted by these voting decisions. How could it possibly hurt Memphians, black or white, to elect progressive candidates who vote on the basis of moving Memphis forward AND NOT CASH??

Perhaps someone who voted for Peete after he got out of jail the first time will post here and help me understand.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Christian Nation?

Garrison Keillor writes a surprising article about non-Christians, who he says need to "get a life" or "work with it" if they are going to live in America, and if Christmas bothers them.

This is an issue I've considered many times, and I actually brought it up recently to a friend of mine. I was at some function, which escapes me at the moment, and pretty much every prominent Memphian was there. The occasion called for an invocation, and the Christian minister, an evangelical, not only concluded with "In Jesus' name we pray, Amen", he also inserted the gospel into the prayer with something like "and thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for our sins".

Afterward I asked my friend if he noticed this. He said, "what do you mean noticed it? Its no different from what we hear in every other prayer." I said, "True, but do you know how many Jewish business owners were in the room? How do you think they felt as they heard this?" To which he said something like, "aw, they're used to it."

Well, perhaps. But this issue goes well beyond Christmas and Bill O'Reilly's claim that the holiday is being "hijacked" and that companies are forcing employees to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas". (Which, true to BillOh, has been shown to be another of his lies.)

Anyway...Newsweek says over 80% of evangelicals favor prayer in public schools. That's an easy one, right? I mean, they will state plainly that, "we are a Christian nation, and taking prayer out of schools has led to increased violence and disengagement be students. But how would you feel if you were a Jewish taxpayer?

In the comments that follow the majority is definitely lashing out at Garrison for his "get over it approach". Here's just one excerpt of one letter (one letter of dozens so far):

Here's what Christmas meant for me as a kid: Being forced to sing religious carols at school while harboring a secret fear that God would punish me later for doing so; utter confusion at home about why we had a tree and presents and opened them Dec. 25 but couldn't call it "Christmas" (my family's well intentioned but very flawed way of trying to fit in); a profound sense of alienation and outsider status that followed me well into adulthood (not entirely due to Christmas, but never more obvious than around the holidays).

Public schools are publicly funded. Jewish and Muslim people are American citizens and they pay taxes. Both of these faiths hold as a base belief that there is only one God/Allah, and that belief or worship of any other is the most serious of all sins.

If Christians would stop and take an honest look at this fact, we might understand how a young Jewish girl could FEAR singing "Silent Night". Should her parents (or the ACLU on their behalf) keep quiet about their tax dollars being spent for this?

Now...I don't advocate a sweeping beaurocratic clamp down on Jesus at Christmas....of course not. The key here is common sense and respect for all Americans. If two of my direct reports are Jewish, and they have been listening to songs on the Muzak about the Christ child for days in a row....I should be respectful enough to change that in their environment if it causes discomfort.

You think you disagree with me? How would you like to go to work for a company that played audio tapes of Islamic morning and evening prayer? You would storm and stomp and say, "Thats fine in Saudi Arabia, but this is America!" And you would be right....and America is a country of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who you are.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How Republicans Trick Us With Language

A great blogger named Kelly Gorski introduced me to an absolutely incredible piece of writing called "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff.

Give yourself some time to read it...its 36 pages in pdf. It concerns Republican strategies, social theory and framing language (much like this book recommendation I posted previously.

Here is the link: Don't Think Like An Elephant.

(I probably haven't made it sound all that exciting...but if you are a person who continually wonders why people vote for Republicans NO MATTER what they do, you need to read this article!