Farewell Edwards


Your run for President had its moments of frustration and triumph, and ultimately, some despair.

You’ve dropped out, and left the race without a fully liberal candidate anywhere near the top.  Its no wonder Nader is making noises again.

Newsweek has already hit the floor with an awkward and sweaty eulogy.  They use the word “crazy” about 500 times in a 500 word article.  Subtle.  But John Edwards wasn’t remotely crazy.  He was a sane man running on the platform he should have run on in 2004, and saying things this country needs to hear.

I truly hope this is not the end for Edwards in public life.  Both he and his wife share a remarkable courage and will to fight, and the world is better off for their efforts.  I wish the Edwards family well, and send my warmest thanks and positive energy their way.

Now the task turns, painfully, to figuring out who to support.  I am already leaning towards Obama (as anyone who reads this space already knows).  In the coming days I’ll dig a bit deeper to see what I do and do not like about the candidate.

The graphic is from Obama’s campaign site, and although Hillary also had some nice parting words, it was good to see that Barack’s site admin featured the farewell prominently on the page.


Hope: Mix Your Own Obama Poster

I’m sure you folks have seen this poster of Obama floating around:


Well, I decided it would be fun to remix it. Here’s the base:


First I decided to try a different word. Change came to mind (but that’s covered by Progress), so I settled on hope:


Next I decided I rather liked the slogan at the top of Obama’s campaign site. So I decided to work that into a “Believe” theme. I elongated the poster to accommodate the quote:


Barack Obama’s greatest strength is his ability to move us. More voters are turning out, and they are turning out to support Obama. The challenge will be for Barack to continue that inspirational momentum throughout his Presidency, and to lay the groundwork on capital hill for that mobilization to have a practical impact. This is why Obama actually deserves the JFK legacy (Caroline Kennedy at the NYT via The Huffington Post):

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

In the 2008 race, Obama is the hope candidate.

(Images edited in The Gimp on Kubuntu)

Support Mentally Ill Troops

We need to be united in our rage and speak with one thunderous voice on this (Kay at White Noise Insanity, emphasis mine):

Here’s the rundown:

  • Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside served 7 years honorably in the Army and then volunteered to go to Iraq
  • She was tormented by one Officer while in Iraq
  • She tried to commit suicide by shooting herself in the stomach
  • She ended up at Walter Reed Veteran’s Hospital
  • She befriended another soldier at Walter Reed named Samantha who also suffered from mental illness
  • Lt. Whiteside is being charged by the military for trying to kill herself etc., she could be facing life in prison, and may lose her ability for an ‘honorable discharge’, which could cost her her medical benefits et al.
  • Samantha, her friend mentioned above, hung herself and died recently
  • Lt. Whiteside still is suffering mentally.
  • Here’s what a military psychiatrist said about her in court:

“I’m not here to play legal games,” Col. George Brandt responded angrily, according to a recording of the hearing. “I am here out of the genuine concern for a human being that’s breaking and that is broken. She has a severe and significant illness. Let’s treat her as a human being, for Christ’s sake!

Things happen in war that can break the healthiest minds.  A cut in your heart that makes a rope seem friendlier than going home is no less serious an injury than that left by an IED.  What we need to understand, is that Lt. Whiteside’s mind was injured before she tried to commit suicide.  Suicide is not the act of a person fully in control of their self.  If innocence by reason of mental insanity has any meaning at all, then suicide cannot be a crime that lands one in jail.  It must be a cry we listen to, and respond to with medical care and compassion.  The response of our military is itself psychosis in the flesh (WaPo):

Military psychiatrists at Walter Reed who examined Whiteside after she recovered from her self-inflicted gunshot wound diagnosed her with a severe mental disorder, possibly triggered by the stresses of a war zone. But Whiteside’s superiors considered her mental illness “an excuse” for criminal conduct, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At the hearing, Wolfe, who had already warned Whiteside’s lawyer of the risk of using a “psychobabble” defense, pressed a senior psychiatrist at Walter Reed to justify his diagnosis.

This is what Col. George Brandt responded too with such justified anger.  Attempted suicide is not the act of a sane individual.  Mental illness is not an excuse, it is the reason.  And what the hell is with the talk of excuses?  If someone is attempting to commit suicide, what the hell do they need with excuses?!

The answer?  Our military has no fucking clue when it comes to mental disease, and no inclination to improve itself:

But outside the Pentagon, the military still largely deals with mental health issues in an ad hoc way, often relying on the judgment of combat-hardened commanders whose understanding of mental illness is vague or misinformed. The stigma around psychological wounds can still be seen in the smallest of Army policies. While family members of soldiers recovering at Walter Reed from physical injuries are provided free lodging and a per diem to care for their loved ones, families of psychiatric outpatients usually have to pay their own way.

The rest of the article is replete with instances of the military’s incompetence and callousness in the matter.  We mustn’t fail our soldiers, our citizens, in such an egregious way.  Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside shouldn’t be charged with a single crime.  She should be helped.

McCain Wins Giuliani’s Mantle

Will he absorb any of his policies?

John McCain won yet another primary, placing him in a solid lead and granting the Republicans something they’ve lacked this entire campaign.  A front runner.  Mitt Romney has been, effectively, blasted as inauthentic.  He’s done the best in a state where his father built a reputation, and one with a large Mormon constituency.  How likely is he to see a repeat?

Rudy is planning on dropping out and endorsing McCainThis is not a star endorsement.  McCain and Giuliani align the closest on national security.  Will McCain pick up any of Rudy’s habits?  Has he already?

Clintons Guarding Obama?

A friend posed an interesting question yesterday.  What if the Clintons were running to absorb the shock of an Obama candidacy?  They run strong initially, then taper off on purpose.  All the initial flack heads their way, but enough passes by Barack to offer his camp a chance to prepare for the full onslaught.  Additionally, given the Republican field has a great deal of experience (doing mostly awful things), Obama beating a candidate who has a great deal of experience would strike right at the relevancy of the experience issue.

Anyway, its an “out there” bit of speculation, but I’ll admit, a fun one to toss around.

Why Report Florida Dem Primary?

I saw this in an AP article about the Florida Primary:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was the Democratic winner in a primary held in defiance of national rules that drew no campaigning and awarded no delegates

The other candidates have not been campaigning in these states.  Only Clinton has.  In at least one case, Clinton was the only top tier candidate on the ballot!  So why report the results, when it just gives a false sense of success to Clinton’s failing campaign?

Gay Hating and Practicality

Get on over to atheocracy and read this:

This is how Christians attempt to insulate themselves from attacks on this issue. They say, “We don’t hate the people who are gay; we just, ya know, hate their gayness.” Of course, whether or not I even used the word “hate” in my post is irrelevant (I didn’t, for the record) because that’s the only way they know how to justify their bigotry: “We don’t hate them. We love everybody! We’re just like Jesus! Of course, we don’t want to treat gays equally in the law books, but we still don’t hate them.”

It’s the same thing Americans often used to say about blacks: “We don’t hate blacks. But everyone knows they’re just an inferior race, and we can’t allow them to have the same rights as white people.” The bigotry is much the same today as it was 60, 80, 100 years ago; it has just shifted.

This is a sticky point, but one that deserves going over carefully.  There is a compelling argument for the logic behind both sides of the question here.  Namely, can Christians oppose homosexuality while avoiding hatred?  Its clear avoiding bigotry is impossible.  Believing homosexuals are somehow less than equal under the law is indefensible.  No, sorry, your religion is wrong about that point.

But is hatred involved?  And is the question itself even a practical one?

It’s a meaningless distinction when you’re fighting to deny them marriage rights and treat them as if they’re second-class citizens of some sort. When people who “love” you do that, I’d be scared to see what you guys would do if you, in fact, did hate them.

I think it remains a very practical question, in spite of the excellent point above.  Because it delves into a larger issue:  Non Christians.  jwhaws mentions that homosexuality is perceived as a sin, and hence, laws may be made to turn homosexuals into second class citizens.  On the more extreme side of things, homosexuals are killed.  This same perception of sin, and the resulting range of reactions, is at work on abortion clinics.  It is also floating beneath a very sheer polite surface where words like interfaith dialogue pop up every now and again.  The reason I want to know to what degree actual hatred is at play, is that it would be a sharp indicator of the extent to which the current range of acting out against gay people, might extend to any non Christians.  Especially if this country is turned at bible-point into a Christian nation.  There is a long and bloody history of religious conflict to give us hints.  But what could give us insight is to know:  Do Christians hate gay people?

My suspicion is that if it is not hate, then it is something psychologically similar to hate.  Viewing people as inferior, sinful, and responsible for God’s acts of retribution can’t help but lead to a strong dislike.  Hating the sin and not the sinner is a worthy goal, but one that is so very difficult to attain in practice.  I think when most people hate the sin, they hate the sinner.  And I think that we are dealing with a group of people who hate homosexuals, but do their best not to identify that strong emotion as a negative one.

Denying the reality of one’s negative emotions, rather than taking constructive steps to overcome it, can bring a deadly violence on the world.