Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How does a gay marriage threaten a straight marriage? I've heard this question asked a dozen times since Proposition 8 passed in California. While it's a valid question, it avoids THE fundamental question: How does a gay lifestyle threaten a straight lifestyle?

There's gotta be at least a perceived threat or the opposition wouldn't be so strong. So what's the deal? I have lots of answers - some way more snarky than others; I'll limit myself to the ones that make some sense (at least logically if not to us).

I think we agree the opposition is religion based, and predominantly (but not solely) Christian based at that. So why do Christianity and the homosexual lifestyle clash so strongly? The main factors are proliferation of the religion and the desire for a nurturing environment.

Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, places a high value on family and procreation - partially because promoting "traditional family values" can foster a strong community and partially because raising new generations of Christians /Catholics protects the religions's places in societal structure. More Catholic babies mean more Catholic children mean more catholic adults mean more CATHOLICS - and all of the politician clout and economic power the higher population brings.

I don't say that to be cold hearted, as I don't believe that are the overt intentions of any but a tiny handful of the religious hierarchy; I'm sure that line of thinking must have been part of the formalization process. Keep in mind Christianity was multinational from the beginning and it's existence was tenuous in many portions of the world. Judea and much of the world was part of the burgeoning Roman Empire. Factor in Judaism and the stage gets pretty crowded pretty quickly. When your religion is new, out-numbered, and persecuted you need new members quickly. Now let's add low infant survival rates into the mix - can anyone say that a policy to maximize population growth was NOT in the best interest of the religion?

So how can we as a culture solve this dilemma? I think we should look to the examples Dr. King gave us when he lead the Civil Rights movement in the '50s and '60s. Couples denied their right to marry should march, protest, and sue to win those rights. Those of us who feel Prop 8 unjust must join in the action. We need to bombard the state and federal governments with letters, e-mails, and petitions. Ultimately, I fear this cause won't be won until the U.S. supreme court involves itself; that journey is long and those undertaking it will need as much support as we can muster.

I also feel any lasting solution will require the establishment of Civil Unions as the only legally binding domestic partnerships and the subrogation of "marriages" to the religious roles they were designed to play. It"s this extreme separation of church and state that will remove much of the religious bias and leave governing to the government once and for all. Religions do not get involved in the licensing of a contractor or in the issuance of driving credentials, so why should it involve themselves with the formation of families? Doing so subtly underscores the notion that only a church-going couple could raise a healthy, happy, and stable family. I know from both first- and second-hand experience that is not true; let's remove the propaganda generation and start from there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gay Marriage is a Question of Love

I feel strongly about the recent passing of Proposition 8; I'm confounded by how our contemporary society's choice to revoke rights already given to some of its people but confident that we will overcome this adversity and set things right.

However, I find myself once again awed by Keith Olbermann's narrative as he explores this subject. I've touted him as a hero for his firm and outspoken beliefs and and expository prowess; this piece sets the bar even higher. Facial tissue and some privacy are recommended...

* * * * * *

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about
politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.
And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do?
With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to Run America - A Citizen's Primer

I watched this evening's presidential debate and wondered to myself just who would have been swayed from their previous position? Senator McCain was blase and mean, Senator Obama was bland and uninspiring. I didn't experience a single moment that moved me during tonights Q&A. If I asked 10,000 people around the country how they were going to vote and what impact tonight's debate had, I would be willing to bet that at least 95% of Obama's supporters before the event would still be Obama voters and would cast their vote for Barack if the election were tomorrow; I think essentially the same is true of McCain supports. And the folks on the fence? I doubt that tonight will make their decision much easier come November 4th.

I think I might immediately cast my vote for the first candidate who succinctly answered three consecutive questions - and I mean answered the questions they were asked, some some distant relative of the question asked. Just about every political candidate in the recent past has perfected this talent, and theirs bosses don't call them on it; WE don't call them on it. We have the toughest job over the course of the next 2-3 years, as WE have to retrain ourselves while we teach our children how to expect and demand accountability and responsibility from our government. It's going to require us to become experts on political capital, but there's one resource we have that politicans need: VOTES. We need to make people EARN our votes initially and KEEP them going forward.

And make no mistake about it, WE have the power to do just that. We proved it in California when we ousted Gray Davis back in 2003; I don't want to debate whether that was the right move or if the replacement governor was any better. I'm using that as proof that we CAN make our voices heard. We have to be adamant and diligent in wielding that power; we have to hold ourselves up to the standards we want from our leaders. Because in the coming days, WE are going to need to lead ourselves. Are YOU up to the job? Here's what you need to do to accept that mantle and make sure we move forward as well as we can.

1. Register to vote. The deadline is either today or tomorrow, but if you have NOT registered, DO IT NOW!!! If you don't register to vote, then your justification to complain is limited to only the most aggregious of situations. And then you have to wait at the end of the line. It's free and it's easy, but you HAVE to do it.

2. Decide what is important to you. Is it same sex marriage? Abortion and women's choice? Gun control? The economy? Iraq? Take the issue(s) that resonate with you, that MEAN something visceral to you, and decide how you feel about them. Find groups that share your viewpoint and support them with your time, energy, and $$$. Get involved and stay involved - if you don't, why should anybody else? And don't sell me the load of goods that "your vote don't count". Wisconsin's electoral votes in 2004 were decided by a mere 11,384 votes. That may sound like a lot, but that's less thatn 5,600 who need to change their vote to make a dead heat. I went to high school with that many people for crying out loud; your vote DOES count and you know it does. But that sure is a convenient excuse. Guess what? The time for those has past. We can't accept them from our President, our Senators, nor our Governors; how can we accept them from one another?

3. VOTE that decision. Vote for the candidate(s) whose announced policies are in line with your priorities. If you are not sure, read their website. Look for interviews. Check out the Women's League of Voters. Read your election pamphlet (we paid for it, so you might as well). Talk with your friends to see how they see each candidate's position on these issues. But decide who YOU want leading YOUR America from Washington D.C., from Sacramento, from Downtown. Then VOTE for them.

4. LIVE your decision. Talk with folks, hear their points of view, share your passions. Cruisade for what you are passionate about. Help convince others to vote for who THEY believe in. Promote the election as if it were you bachelor/bachelorette party - remember you want EVERYONE to come to the party.

5. Hold them accountable. If someone promised something, they owe it to you to try to get that done to the best of their ability. Call them on it: send letters, e-mails, etc. Sign petitions. Speak to other representatives and let them know how you feel. Reward them with a donation, signature, vote, etc. if you like the job they are doing. Punish them by withholding your vote and giving it to another candidate, signing a recall petition to help speed their exit, share your frustration with others on websites, blogs, petitions, letters. Make the official know you do not like what (s)he is doing and that you expect them to do better.

6. Hold your friends and family to these same standards. Don't even dare allow them the apathy to not vote. Persuade, bully, cajole, threaten, whatever it takes, get them to the polls. Whom they vote for (so long as it's who they believe will do the best job) is not as important as their participation in the process. Afterwards, stay on them about how folks are doing. Engage them in debates, etc.

It's time for us to find our America, polish it off, and put it up on the mantle for the rest of the world to see. It's time we found that country so we can give it to our kids.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quick Take on the Bailout Bill

Without reviewing the text of the Bailout Bill that was just approved by the House of Representatives, I can only comment generally on the concept and not the particulars.
I'm not opposed to finding temporary ways for the federal government (yes, I'm using lower case on purpose - I don't know that our current leadership warrants capital letters) to encourage economic machinations that will allow businesses to run until this situation stabilizes. I also don't the federal government should look to micromanage this process (Lord knows they haven't done so well keeping their own house these past few years).

But I am 100% opposed to any plan that does NOT include some Federal oversight. I'm also opposed to any plan that does not include provisions to curb executive compensation, at least during the duration of the governmenal intercession. I'm ALSO opposed to any plan that includes provisions for foreign investors who purchased risky paper.

This plan is not supposed to relieve investors of their obligations for their investments that did not turn out the way they were supposed to. I'm HIGHLY skeptical that all of these debts will "eventually become properly valuated" (if they would, then financial institutions would be less desparate to divest them).

I just prey that our leaders (and MAN do I use that word with a grain of salt) have not just thrown $700 B of our hard-earned dollars away on a solution that will NOT effect real change and reset the economy. Otherwise, that's one hell of an expensive bandaid.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sarah Palin & Sexual Assult Victims - A Brief Study

Sarah Palin, the GOP Vice-Presidential nominee selected (many feel) for her gender and hard-line conservative stance, had a direct role in the city of Wasilla's policy to make sexual assault victims, or their medical insurance providers, pay for evidence-gathering medical investigations. By working backwards, it's a straight-forward process to construct the relevant timeline and determine exactly what happened:

Sometime during Sarah Palin's tenure as Mayor of Wasilla (in fact, during the discussion in the Alaska Assembly of HB 270), the hospitals changed their accounting practices and began sending bills for the forensic tests used in sexual assault cases to victims or their medical insurance providers.(1)

The change in accounting practices came on the heels of a drastic 75% budget cut to the "contractual services" line item of the Wasilla Police Department's FY 2000 Budget; notes in the budget described the "contractual services" line item as "... costs for medical blood tests for intoxicated drivers & medical exam/evidence collection for sexual assaults..."(2) It's important to note that between 1994 and 1999, the budget for this line item varied from $2,500 - $4,200 with the actual costs only exceeding the budget one of those years; it's also important to note that the actual costs for those years exceeded the FY 2000 $1,000 budget EVERY YEAR.(3)

Mayor Palin was required by the Wasilla Municiple Code to "...prepare and submit an annual budget and capital improvement program for consideration by the council, and execute the budget and capital program as adopted..."(4) Therefore, she either slashed the budget line item herself or did not respond to her staffer's slashing of the budget line item.

The budget reduction came after Mayor Palin replaced founding Police Chief Irl Stambaugh with Chief Charlie Fannon. It comes as no surprise that Chief Fannon was a strong advocate of the practice of billing the victims and a noted outspoken critic of the legislation that ended the practice.(5)

Reconstructing what happened from the beginning, it's clear that Mayor Palin replaced Police Chief Stambaugh with Charlie Fannon, an advocate of billing victims for their forensic tests, then submitted a budget she either prepared or approved that contained a 75% budget cut to the line item containing funding for "medical exam/evidence collection for sexual assaults". On the heels of this budget cut, hospitals changed their accounting practices and began billing victims for these exams. Assuming the information I've drawn on is correct, there is little plausible deniability about what happened and what was intended to happen.

(1) As reported by Lauree Hugonin, then-Director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA).
(2) Page G-24 of the Wasilla FY '94 Budget.
(3) As detailed in Jacob Alperin-Sheriff's article on The Huffington Post (I have NOT independently verified these numbers).
(4) Item A.6 Section 2.26.020 of the Wasilla Municipal Code.
(5) As disclosed in a USA Today article quoting an interview with Chief Fannon appearing in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Marriage - Legal Partnership and Religious Covenant

Orson Scott Card's call to arms against same-sex marriage churned in my mind for the past two days, and and spurred me to develop what I believe a workable solution.

The problems regarding marriage stem from the duality of that event; it is both legally binding contract AND religious ceremony. Both pro and con same-sex marriage arguments hold logical consistency from the appropriate perspective. Viewing marriage as a religious act of faith and devotion, why on earth should I accept the judge telling me that something I am taught is sinful has to be allowed? Conversely, I will let NO ONE tell me I am a second-class citizen and do not deserve the same rights as others based on who I love. Who is right? Both and neither.

The dilemma can be solved by breaking marriage into it's constituent parts: civil contract and religious ceremony. The State should only be allowed to perform civil unions, but these are the ONLY partnerships that carry ANY legal standing and should be allowed so long as both parties are consenting adults. The Church should only be allowed to perform marriage and "marriage" should have no civil meaning. In this fashion, religions may dictate who their church recognizes as couples and families however they choose while EVERY couples' rights remain preserved and protected.

Having two different levels of civil recognition will not work; that was thrown out in Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka by it's sublet overthrow of the "separate but equal" doctrine. However, having government dictate the policies of religion or visa-versa flies in the face of our government which strives for religious acceptance. Let religions deal with marriage and leave the states to manage legal partnerships. It's a fair solution that removes much of the muddling surrounding the debate.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

California Budget Flap

Part of me applauds Governor Schwarzenegger's bold thinking for reducing state spending while pushing for an approved budget; his idea is flawed but represents an honest attempt to come to a solution.

In case you are wondering what the latest from Sacramento is, our Governor has signed an executive order reducing all state employees' salaries to the Federal Minimum Wage of $6.55 or $13,624 annually, pre-tax. Obviously this won't work, as that is such a drastic cut it invalidates any budgeting these employees might do for their home finances. However, the concept might just work if applied to a different type of state employee...

There are 40 state senators for California; collectively they make $2,259 per hour. If we reduce THEIR hour pay to $6.55, we save almost $1,997 each hour (assuming 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, and 52 weeks a year). So a week would save us $79,880. Some savings during the lean period, and I suspect the Senators would be motivated to provide quick resolution.

Tongue-in-cheek aside, why can our state government not produce a balanced budget on time? That is the highest priority for any government: raise and spend money. Our fiscal year started July 1, and the budget was under discussion since February. Assuming that the Senate set aside half of their time to discuss the budget, 350 hours of discussion failed to produce a budget? I don't see how that's possible. More likely, the amount of time working on the numbers was significantly less AND more effort was spent posturing than negotiating. So we're stuck with this mess.

HALF of the State Senate is up for re-election in 2008. I say we find the ones who did not put in the time and effort to get this problem solved and reward them with an enforced job shift. I'm TIRED of "leaders" who don't lead, a governor who doesn't govern, and a state government with no real handle on much of anything. They work for US; we can and should fire them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Charles-Francois Daubigny

French nature painter who focuses on light and reflection; really brought out colors and shadows in his landscapes.
Forrest McDonald (on the road)
Nexspace, LLC

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Place of God in our Daily Lives

Off all the people and things to inspire a blog, I would never have thought it would be a conservative religious spam forward from my Mother. Yet, here we are. I've copied the original post at the bottom of this blog so you can read it for yourselves and draw your own thoughts from it.

God is not inappropriate at work; God is not inappropriate anywhere. Your belief or my belief in God is NOT inappropriate anywhere. What IS inappropriate is anyone's attempt to make a religion (any religion) part of of someone else's life. I pray at work, I pray before most meals (I admit to imperfections like anyone else), and I have no problems with ANYONE else's desire to do (or NOT do) the same.

But how can we profess to be a country of religious freedom if we require religion (any religion)? Whether I can grasp how someone would choose to deny God's existence does NOT change the fact that someone HAS that right just as much as I have the right to accept that same existence. God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha, JHWH, Jahovah, Jah, Shangdi, Zhu, Brahman, Ishvara, Akal Purakh, and many many others deserve as much reverence as we can muster. But we as a people cannot be open to all religions while requiring even lip service to one.

So when an e-mail like the one below comes around to me, I AM hesitant about to whom I send it. Not because I am ashamed of Christ or my Catholicism, but because I believe in the promise my country was founded upon and want to make sure I don't accidentally offend someone. The same is true for "dirty" e-mails, or jokes, or whatever; the wise and compassionate person recognizes that everyone and everything has an audience and tries to steer items accordingly.

When did my respect for someone else's spirituality transform into heresy? When did my desire to allow people to believe as they choose become the turning of my back on the Teaching's of Christ?

When did my desire to believe and venerate God necessitate the insertion of Judeo-Christian dogma into aspects of daily life that often touch those of other faiths? Yet we do it all the time. If the $20.00 bill were to be inscribed with "Allahu Akbar", there would be NO END to the protests by Americans everywhere, even though between 1.1 million and 6.0 million American Citizens follow the tenants of Islam. Why would THAT religious belief be bad, but "In God We Trust" be not only acceptable but appropriate?

If students want to pray in school, let's encourage them to pray in their seats like most working people do. However, let's also recognize some realities present in our world today: crime is up and "morality" is down (more on that shortly) across the board. Is that because people don't pray in school? Is that because the prepositional phrase "under God" was removed from public school? NO.

Obviously, the difference between right and wrong and how to act must be taught to children beginning at a young age. This can be done in religious school (such as those I went to); to suggest that my home life and my upbringing did not impact my life, however, would be to ignore reality and do a disservice to my Mom, and both my Father and Step-Father (my they rest in peace). Don't make teachers, nuns, nannies, bus drivers, tvs, radios, or computers bare the burden of teaching children HOW to act and more importantly WHY that is the way to act! Reinforce those lessons by living that way yourselves (to the best of your ability), show where you have strayed, and how to atone for your errors. EACH of us MUST take responsibility for acting the way we want those in our lives to act, particularly our children. We all must show stewardship for the young generations so they can learn by example.

Don't worry about saying you love/believe/follow God (or whoever it is you do follow). Worry instead about SHOWING your love, your belief. How God wants you to treat your fellow man differs so little from religion to religion; it's ALL about respect and love. If you do that, if you follow that one simple little rule, I'm confident that you are well on your way to achieving your ultimate reward no matter what to what religion you belong.

God; when I received this e-mail, I thought... I don't have time for this... And, this is really inappropriate during work.

Then, I realized that this kind of thinking is.... Exactly what has caused a lot of the problems in our world today.

We try to keep God in church on Sunday morning... maybe, Sunday night... and, the unlikely event of a midweek service. We do like to have Him around during sickness... and, of course, at funerals. However, we don't have time, or room, for Him during work or play... because.. that's the part of our lives we think... We can, and should, handle on our own.

May God forgive me for ever thinking... that... there is a time or place where.. HE is not to be First in my life. We should always have time to remember all HE has done for us. If, you aren't ashamed to do this... Please follow the directions: Jesus said, 'If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father. ' Not ashamed? Pass this on ONLY IF YOU MEAN IT!! Yes, I do Love God. HE is my source of existence and Savior.

He keeps me functioning each and everyday. Without Him, I would be nothing. But, with Christ, HE strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)

This is the simplest test.

If You Love God... And are not ashamed of all the marvelous things HE has done for you... Send this to ten people and the person who sent it to you! Now do you have the time to pass it on?

Make sure that you scroll through! To the end.

Easy vs. Hard

Why is it so hard to tell the truth and yet so easy to tell a lie? Why are we so sleepy in church but right when the sermon is over we suddenly wake up? Why is it so easy to delete a Godly e-mail, and yet we forward all of the nasty ones? Of all the free gifts we may receive, Prayer is the very best one....

There are no costs, but wonderful rewards... GOD BLESS!

Notes: Isn't it funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Isn't it funny how someone can say 'I believe in God', but still follow Satan! (who, by the way, also 'believes' in God). Isn't it funny how you can send a thousand jokes through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing? Isn't it funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it to them. Isn't it funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me than what God thinks of me.

No, it isn’t funny at all, what it can be is eternally fatal!

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Advice, Mr. President: SHUT THE HELL UP!

Keith Olbermann, who reported the locals sports news here is LA when I first recall him, has become a hero of mine over the course of the Bush "presidency" due to his infrequent yet scathing comments about the state of our Nation and the (hopefully repairable) damage done to our fundamental beliefs and our repuration.

The special comment he made this past Wednesday, however, might take the cake for policial writing and for emotional reporting (which seems like a insurmountable contradiction but is just a true editorial). When I think of loathing, I always harken back to the first scene of Amadeus, where Salieri is forced to understand that his music is extinct while that of Mozart has already taken on a life of its own. Now, looking at the face of Keith reading the latest litany of villany perpitrated by own leader, I have a new mental image. And it's not of Salieri.

I've copied the transcript below, and tried to format it as was done on the MSNBC site.


Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on two topics a lot of us had foolishly thought, had naively hoped, we would not again have to address… and a third topic nobody thought a president would ever seriously mention in public unless perhaps he’d just been hit in the head with something and was not in full possession of his faculties — how he expressed his “empathy” to the families of the dead in Iraq — by giving up golf.

The President has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration — of a public life — dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations.

And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and Mr. McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could, “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”

This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came yesterday during an interview with Politico-dot-com and on-line users of Yahoo.

The question was phrased as follows:

“If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the doomsday scenario?”

The President replied: “Doomsday scenario, of course, is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is — it’s bigger than Iraq — it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives’?’

They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?

‘This ideological struggle,’ Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom — ours and everybody else’s — and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.

But wait, there’s more.

You also said “Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand — and they will be defeated.”

They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir. You allowed them to assemble there!

As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of ‘they’ll greet us as liberators.’

And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American Vice-Royalty enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country, by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were mis-led on Iraq?”

“I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”


You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.

You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, fast.

You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn’t agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country’s policy — in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Of course if there is one over-riding theme to this president’s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind.

And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

“And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”

“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction…”


What people?

The insane informant “Curveball?”

The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi?

The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”

Mr. Bush — you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat.

When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply re-submitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon.

You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor has no clothes” — only with the stakes (as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it) being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and — last night — Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes” - while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency — and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect, dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

Then came Mr. Bush’s final blow to our nation’s solar plexus, his last re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans — on our history.

“It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Golf, sir?

Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?

Do you think these families, Mr. Bush — their lives blighted forever — care about you playing golf?

Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them - you gave up golf?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them — you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them — you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq — a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up your presidency?

In your own words — “solidarity as best as I can” — is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can?

4,000 Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf!


Not “gulf” — golf.

And still it gets worse.

Because it proves that the President’s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.

“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”

“I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it any more to do.”

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn’t even think of it yourself?

The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, four thousand of their brothers and sisters lose their lives, you lose golf… and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it’s even true…

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U-N… and interrupted your round of golf, was on August 19th, 2003.

Yet there is an Associated Press account of you playing golf as late as Columbus Day of that year — October 13th — nearly two months later.

Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you, six-and-a-half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people but the war in Iraq is Not. About. You.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain succeeds you.

The war in Iraq — your war, Mr. Bush — is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths — for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game!

And, sir, if you have any hopes that next January 20th will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt Thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:

When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at…

When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation…

When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead…

This advice, Mr. Bush…

Shut the hell up!