Peace and Love

I’m off on adventures, computer access will be random for a week or so.

I saw this, and it made me happy.  With all the bad news its easy to forget there’s a lot of positive energy out there.

“Let’s make my birthday, July the 7th at noon, all over America… whichever state you’re in, Pacific or Eastern, Western… peace and love,” Ringo told Access.

Ringo is instructing fans to say the phrase “Peace and love,” when the clock strikes 12 PM, no matter where they are in the world.

“Everybody goes ‘Peace and love,’” he explained. “In the office, on the bus… wherever.”

“It’s still peace and love for me, I’m a product of the ‘60s and it was a very influential period in my life, and you know, my head was turned around a bit, my eyes were opened as it were, ” said Starr. “In fact, I even have it on my arm, peace and love. I see nothing wrong with peace and love.”

Peace Inside and Out.

Love for All Sentient Beings.

Thanks for reading, hopefully when I get back the world will be just a bit warmer.

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Spying on Americans: Strike Back

Anyone in Congress voting to give telecoms immunity does not deserve to remain in office.  The deal brokered under heavy influence of lobbyist cash from the industry is a deep betrayal of the trust we put in our elected officials to represent us in government.  Slashdot:

Bimo_Dude writes “Today (June 20), Steny Hoyer is bringing to the House floor the latest FISA bill (PDF), which includes retroactive immunity for the telcos. The bill also is very weak on judicial review, allowing the telcos to use a letter from the president as a ‘get out of liability free’ card. Here are comments from the EFF. Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, describes the effect of the immunity clause this way: ‘So all the Attorney General has to do is recite those magic words — the President requested this eavesdropping and did it in order to save us from the Terrorists — and the minute he utters those words, the courts are required to dismiss the lawsuits against the telecoms, no matter how illegal their behavior was.'”

In even brokering this deal both parties dropped their primary responsibility to defend the Constitution of the United States and the rights protected by it.

Every single Representative who votes for the revised bill should face an aggressive campaign against them during the next election cycle.

Obama: Are We Entering Lesser of Two Evils Land?

I’m an Obama supporter.  I’m no PUMA:

I just can’t figure out why if it is soooo important for the Democrats to win that the fingerpointers don’t pick the Democrat most likely to actually win.  I mean, they still have a choice.  If they are so concerned , they can petition the party to have a fair and transparent convention and let’s see who persuades the largest number of superdelegates.    So what if the signs for the fall have already been made?  It’s just stationary.  Surely it is more important to pick the right Democrat, right?

I still think a Democrat who starts out with 50% of the general electorate against her, who refused to listen to reason on the Iraq war until it was far too late and who has exhibited essential weakness on Iran warmongering, would have been a poor choice.

So what’s my deal?

Obama recently decided to avoid public financingFine by me, although I admit, the idea of him going back on a campaign promise clearly tells me he made the promise for points, not for real.

He also seems to have increasingly bad taste in who he’s surrounding himself with:

Here are some statements by Ms. Rice in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq:

“I think he [then Secretary of State Colin Powell] has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.” (NPR, Feb. 6, 2003)

“We need to be ready for the possibility that the attack against the U.S. could come in some form against the homeland, not necessarily on the battlefield against our forces. And I think there, too, is an area where the American people need to be better prepared by our leadership. … It’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat. It’s clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that’s the path we’re on. I think the question becomes whether we can keep the diplomatic balls in the air and not drop any, even as we move forward, as we must, on the military side.” (NPR, Dec. 20, 2002)

“I think the United States government has been clear since the first Bush administration about the threat that Iraq and Saddam Hussein poses. The United States policy has been regime change for many, many years, going well back into the Clinton administration. So it’s a question of timing and tactics…We do not necessarily need a further Council resolution before we can enforce this and previous resolutions. (NPR, Nov. 11, 2002)

Of course, this sounds like Condoleezza Rice. But in fact all those quotes are from Susan Rice, Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration and now part of Obama’s newly formed “Senior Working Group on National Security.” The quotes are from an examination of the Working Group done by the Institute for Public Accuracy, here.

Obama also

Which leads me to the natural question.  If what he says can’t be trusted, he’s a mushy centrist at heart, and he’s hiring people with very questionable judgment, then who will we have in office in 2010?

The stakes are depressingly high this time around.  Ours is a country that arrests people wrongfully and tortures (there always seems to be a new angle on how we torture).  A country that goes to war without cause.  Our electoral system is a badly broken mockery of the principles of representation and liberty that ought to form the backbone of our daily experience as Americans.

Think about that last one for a moment.  As an American we ought to feel empowered.  Instead, be honest, we feel helpless and watched.

The leaders of the Democratic party and the candidates, all of them (even the ones who lost long ago), are smart people.  They ought to be working together even if informally to figure out how to draw a sharp line away from the failed and costly policies of the current administration.  Instead our party has been consumed by the supporters of two problematic candidates.

If we fail in November we are fucked.

If anyone over in Obama land is listening, he needs to make with the backbone.  He needs to make a cleaner break with the old politics we are so desperate to be rid of.

The decision to skip public financing is one I support: I want to win in November.  But poor decisions never occur in isolation of each other, and enough similar mistakes will create a credibility gap and fill it with the worst sorts of insinuations about motivation.

And please, go through the ranks, and dump the staff that don’t rise up to the expectations of rationality and compassion we expect from you.  There is no shortage of intelligent and caring people to draw from in the Democratic party.  You can do better.  And as a leader, if you do, we all will.

MoveOn’s Powerful New Anti War, Anti McCain Ad

In a request for support, MoveOn.org notes that this ad tests especially well.  It isn’t hard to see why.  I can see this becoming a viral meme.  Youtube videos where mothers, father, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, grandparents, and significant others add their voice to the cry of “No, you can’t have the ones I love for your war”.

There are children still working there way up through school, who will one day be memories that evoke a choking, painful sense of loss.

The calm yet fierce defiance of Alex’s mother has a familiar feel to it.  This is our will to protect the ones we love from senseless bloodshed.

MoveOn.org’s work is an ad I am proud to get behind.

Hillary’s Supporters and Florida’s Primary Flop

Something is wrong.  These are our allies, and the level of mistrust and hatred is palpable.  But so is the level of denial (The Confluence):

Doesn’t look too good for him though. I love the stories from fellow conflucians about how they are responding to requests for donations from the DNC. I think Paul’s (plukasiak) was my favorite:

off topic, but…
Just got mail from the Obama campaign. So I wrote a check for $100, tore it in half, and am sending it along with this message…

Dear Senator Obama
On behalf of my friends in Florida, please find half a check for $100. Since your campaign saiid their votes should only count as half votes, I figure you’ll know what to do with half a check.
But, in case you need a hint – the RBC corruptly ensured your nomination while violating the DNC charter “sunshine” povisiions for meetings. In that spirit, you can take my half-check, and put it ‘where the sun don’t shine’.

Hillary Clinton ran in Florida against zero opponents.  If the Florida vote were to be in any way representative, it would have had to be a revote.  But at the same time, it is important Obama supporters recognize why the Florida situation is bullshit.  Its bullshit because the primary system we have let’s some states have an inordinate say in the process.  Florida tried to skip ahead in line, and got stuck arguing about whether or not it was caught doing anything wrong with the DNC.  Instead of acting like a sneaky kid in class, Floridians ought to join the rest of the country and demand that we do away with delegates, single-state primaries and conventions.  How about one national primary, popular vote only?  Hell, why not have that for the general?

This is the kind of thing we need to talk about, that we need to focus on.  Otherwise we can turn this quarrel about Florida into a debate over what caused us to lose to McCain.

Pharmacists For Controlling Your Sex Life

The group Pharmacists for Life International wants to control wombs.  They stand against personal freedom in the name of utter nonsense.  As always, the surprise comes when you consider that these folks are allowed to operate at all.  Refusing to sell contraceptives to women is by any practical measure as prejudicial as refusing to serve women.

That said, I got a kick out of this little exchange with Feministing.  So inspired, being a web developer professionally, I took a look at their website.

<Geekiness>

Now as a professional, I immediately dug the animated gifs and the simple yet adventurous with fonts design.  But I thought, could the site possibly be using tables…. oh yes it is!  You can’t make websites using technology at the same historical level as their view of women’s rights, but this is damn close.

</Geekiness>

A little google and whois later, I found this gem.  The webmaster’s site: Kuhar.com.  Its practically candy mountain (The Beak):

A client scanning Dr. Kuhar’s website might question if “Traditional Catholic social princples” not only include rejecting all ideas of family planning and birth control but also spelling and grammar check. Some of the “quality products” American Pro-Life Enterprise sells include “non-sterile” latex gloves for situations requiring “santitary conditions.” APLE also sells thermometers for “arising temperatures” and supplies to make one’s own homemade “yogourt.” Someone seeing Dr. Kuhar’s website might question his intellectual abilities and, subsequently, his staunch defense of an organization life PFLI.

That was posted in 2004.

What’s surprising isn’t that people have ideas like this.  Psychotic people are a fact of life.  What’s insane is that here it is, 2008, and Dr. Kuhar and his bretherin have gone from homemade yogurt and pharmacists refusing to sell contraceptives to pharmacies spreading racism, lies, and more lies all while slamming the Bible in the face of any woman trying to obtain reproductive health products.

Who will be in control of your sex life in 2012?

CA: Liberty Counsel and Marriage for Christians Only

The Liberty Counsel has issued a brave and bold call for marriage to be limited to opposite sex couples (via Pandagon):

The desperation of the wingnuts to stop the launch of legal same-sex marriage in California next week is now laughable at this point.

Today Liberty Counsel is filing a petition requesting the California Court of Appeal to stay the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

…This case is far from over. We will not give up. The people will have the final say on marriage.

In the interests of preserving the sanctity of marriage, believers in the one true religion have taken the extra step of adding in a measure to the ballot to limit all marriages to Christian Marriages.

Right Reverend Matthew Staver was blunt in his assessment of the “Heathen” problem:

“We’ve been polite long enough.  I think we’ve established, with majority support in California I might add, that we can base the rights of all on the religion of the majority.  The next logical step is to stop pretending that Jewish, Muslim, or even (have mercy) Hindu marriages are not sanctified by our lord Jesus Christ.  The fact is nonbelievers are committing a sin even more deadly than sodomy by rejecting God’s only son, and the one path towards salvation.  Frankly I’m not even sure they should be allowed to adopt.”

Matt was confident his efforts would pay off, and with echoes of Virginia in 2006, those about to lose their marriage rights seemed to concur:

“The Tanakh clearly states sodomy was punished by He on Most High.  If we have to avoid marriage to keep gay people from getting married, meh” said Ben (declined to give last name).  “The Koran forbids homosexuality.  That is the most important thing.” said (asked not to be named).

Is California poised to unite Church and State in holy matrimony?  The Liberty Counsel is down on one knee…

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If you like Philosophy, Zombies and Ghosts

This is perhaps one of the best comics, ever, of all time, plus one.  Read first before the philosophy commences.

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Anti Obama Racists: You Will Lose

It looks like racists have been crawling out of the gutter to leave some helpful comments on an old post I wrote.

Which I’ve decided I am fine with.  I want them to be out in the light and paying attention when they lose.

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton Supporters and PUMA

Dear Clinton Supporters Who Oppose the Party Nominee,

The primary was bitterly fought.  But the candidates, policy wise, are vastly more similar than Clinton is to say, John McCain.  And experience, the trumpet call of the Clintonistas, isn’t quite the issue its being made out to be (XX-Factor, emphasis mine):

I answered her that the experience issue doesn’t resonate with me, especially as Cheney and Rummy had been around since the last ice age, and where did that get us? Hillary has been in the Senate only four years longer than Obama: big whoop. If you count his time in the Illinois Senate, he’s actually had more experience as an elected official. (And while of course her experience as first lady counts for something, would we give Laura Bush full credit for those years—even though, as she belatedly tells us, she, too, had a big policy role all along?) The whole experience question just feels like a stand-in for race, or maybe something else I’m missing. Because when someone says they would slit their wrist before voting for Obama, that is NOT about Clinton having been in the Senate longer.

PUMA stands for Party Unity My Ass.  Its quite catchy, and the logo works well.  Its just that the sentiment underneath it all is rotten, and the effect it will have will go directly against the people holding up the banner.  Letting McCain win this election is a mistake that comes with a dreadful cost.  Another term of NeoConservative Power in our highest office puts our courts, our rights, our economy and our security at risk.

But I wanted to speak especially to riverdaughter, about her post.  I like your blog, I identify with your politics.  But rather than pulling together to fight a man who stands against everything you stand for, you’ve engaged in the politics of personal destruction, and aimed your rhetorical heat ray at Obama supporters:

I’d like to refer you to one of Anglachel’s latest posts, The Idea of Obama. I think that what Anglachel is describing is a kind of “puppy love” or an infatuation. The situation we have here is precisely the reason why superdelegates were created in the first place. There is a unacknowledged immaturity about the Obama faction that many parents among us will recognize.

Like adolescents, they insist on making their own decisions and yet expect us to get them out of a jam later. They hate us because of who we are and yet they need us in order for them to get what they want. And the superdelegates are the too permissive parents who are giving in to them because they can’t handle the screaming and guilt trips that will follow if they don’t.

There is nothing adolescent about my decision to support Barack Obama for President.  It is not an emotional whine by an infatuated child.  It is a reasoned choice based on my assessment of the candidate’s positions, electability, skill, character, and strength.  And I am not alone in that:

It is an insulting tact to take.

The fact is Obama won the most delegates.  That counting Michigan and Florida never should have been contentious.  Obama didn’t campaign there, so the only option would have either been a new primary or no dice, not some compromise allowing a false election to go forward and benefit the only candidate who didn’t play ball.  Hillary Clinton lost.  But her policies don’t have to.

Obama is not a perfect candidate, but he is a strong candidate.  I like him because his policies are largely within the range of what I support, because he has the good sense to surround himself with smart people and listen to them.  This is most evident when you look his support among (and reliance on) economists.  This is why the whole “We’ve had an inexperienced politician before” argument, a clear reference to Bush, always fell utterly flat.  Obama isn’t going to get into office and force his authoritarian politics onto this country.  He’s going to do his best to open it up and encourage people to step up and take advantage of it.  I can easily stand behind a guy who represents a movement towards democracy, not a cowardly retreat towards the status quo.

And please don’t mistake that for idealism.  It is a somewhat cranky pragmatism born of experience.  The status quo right now is all about various elites working in a non transparent environment, and we only get to consume the product.  Thats not government, that’s business.

For a government to truly be by the people, we need more transparency, more reform, and more efforts to build up and organize people.  And on every single issue stemming from this, Obama is on the right side of the debate with McCain in direct opposition.

The media is building a false narrative that Hillary Clinton helped begin (Telegraph):

But to most Americans – the ones who are less beguiled by rhetoric and more concerned with financial survival, and those who need practical reassurance more than inspiration – this election will be about proven character and tested judgment.

John McCain is a terrible choice, and infinitely inferior to Obama when it comes to the economy.  As for proven character and tested judgement, we need look no further (but we can and should) than issues like the war, civil rights, or separation of church and state.  On every one of these issues McCain has given up principle in favor of appeal to the most twisted branch of the Republican party.  On everyone of these issues Barack Obama has stood firmly and proudly.

I began this election cycle supporting John Edwards.  Right now I am supporting a man who I believe can and should win, against a man who should never see elected office again.  This is a fight whose consequences will be felt.  I invite you warmly to join in.  Help us avoid another four years of Bush, and help us find eight years of competence, compassion and wisdom.

Even if this is just a baby step forward, we’ll need every muscle in the Democratic body to avoid being forced to take a giant step backwards.

McCain + The Batman = Rock

I saw Adam West on McCain’s fake VP list and my first thought was, hell yes!  John McCain would make a shitty president, but a badass masked vigilante.  Add in his confused take on reality and you get an absurdist streak of humor… double bonus!

Obama’s Contract With US

Obama is the nominee.  I’m not so much excited at this point, as relieved, and hopeful the messy Democratic primary process will ease up as Clinton learns to let go and we all move on to fight Bush’s heir John McCain.

That said, please don’t think my support for Obama is without qualification.  I originally preferred John Edwards (Actually I *really* wanted Elizabeth Edwards to run).  I still find Obama’s original support for Lieberman during the primary to have been problematic.  But I’m in, I’m watching, and I know the stakes.

Same for a lot of folks.

But for many there is an even deeper connection.  Some people are in politics now because of Barack Obama.  And if Obama does not deliver, if he does not fight, that same energy and action will turn against him and the Democratic party.  A man who inspires invites an unspoken contract of sincerity, and it is one the electorate will take seriously.  We do not want another 4-8 years of Bush.  We need a President who will fix our broken electoral system and restore confidence in the process (and our voice).  A President who will champion civil and human rights.  A President who will think before he bombs, who will listen to economists and take meaningful, long term steps to stabilize and grow our economy.  I believe Barack Obama is that man, and I’ll be behind him 100% as he stands against McCain in the general election.

Hillary Clinton: Not a Feminist?

America Blog:

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman just said on MSNBC at 8:35pm Eastern that the Clinton campaign is demanding that Hillary be offered the VP position, which she will then decline, and then Fineman quotes the Clinton campaign as saying “don’t you dare offer it to another woman.” Isn’t that special. Apparently, Hillary was only planning on breaking her own personal glass ceiling. For the rest of you, you can break you own.

I hope the above is not true.  Selfishness that goes that far is a serious character flaw.

Clintons’ campaign of entitlement led to her massive cash problem (ego loans which she wants her supporters/fan base to pay back in her stead) and now she’s making VP noises.  I expect Obama to delicately consider her, but to pay no heed to her, threats, or other political noise when it comes to making a decision.