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Rants

Sometimes you just gotta let loose

Grrr Hillary

Dunno if you noticed, but Hillary Clinton, a Democratic Party candidate, is a woman. Many think she is subjected to undue scrutiny that other candidates do not face because she is a woman. I'm not going to argue that she has been treated the same as the other candidates. Some commentators hide their discriminating feelings better than others, but I do think the vast majority of reporters are trying to treat her the same.

I guess I want to make a couple of points.

  • Hillary Clinton is a woman
  • Some members of the press are sexist
  • Hillary Clinton is a mean, vindictive candidate who has no respect for an open and candid conversation with the press (or at partially staged Town Hall-like meetings - I almost compared her treatment of the press to Bush's, but it really doesn't compare ... yet)
  • Hillary Clinton is the absolute most business-as-usual candidate running for the Dems

I am totally frustrated by her. I honestly wonder who I would support if she ran against McCain. Of the pro-war candidates, he appears to be the only one who would ban torture. Who knows what Hillary would do?

I have read a number of articles about her - and I want to mention two from The Atlantic. A year and half ago, Joshua Green wrote a great feature on her called "How Hillary Clinton turned herself into the consummate Washington player." She appears perfectly suited to the Senate.

I hate quoting such long excerpts, but I think this is the key to understanding what a Hillary presidency would be like:

The only question that seemed to throw her concerned her actual Senate record. After we’d gone through her positions and policies in some detail, I suggested that for all she’d been busy doing in the Senate, I couldn’t find an instance where she had taken a politically unpopular stance or championed a big idea, like health-care reform, that might not yield immediate benefits but was the right thing to do. Interviews with colleagues and observers seemed to imply an unspoken disappointment that her talents promised a record of more height and substance than she had displayed—he one consistent criticism I heard was that her record was marked by overwhelming caution. Could she refute their doubts, and point to a few examples of politically brave votes?

Clinton laughed. "Oh, well, see, my view is, how do you get things done? When you’re in the minority, getting things done is not easy." She cited her work after September 11: "I think taking on the administration over the effects from breathing the contaminants that were in the air, fighting to get the tracking and screening programs set up, going back time and time again—"

I couldn’t help breaking in. These were certainly worthy programs, but where is the political risk in standing up for the victims of September 11?

She tried again: "I voted against every tax cut, and I represent the richest people in America."

But you’re a Democrat!

"But I have a lot of constituents for whom those tax cuts were personally quite important."

Aren’t they Republicans?

Bill Clinton - whom I refer to only because her claiming that being his wife gives her soooo much more experience than others - pretty much championed causes unpopular with Democrats. NAFTA. Balancing the budget. Welfare reform. These are his legacy and I certainly think they have served him well - BUT they were hardly progressive. His foreign policy results only appear to be good because he was followed by Yeeeee-haw Bush!

I don't want to return to Clintonism - which my boss recently wrote about in "We forget what it was really like under the Clintons."

The Atlantic also ran a piece more recently by Caitlin Flanagan called "No Girlfriend of mine." This article furthered my dislike of Hillary. But it does not sway me in terms of Hillary as a candidate.

Why? Because it had nothing to do with policy! Hillary is a disaster when it comes to policy - that is what should matter in the upcoming election. Yes, I would like to see a woman in the White House. I would prefer to see a woman who represented some of the things I like about this country. I need to see a woman who would push back the Imperial Presidency created by the current misAdministration.

So is the press treating her differently because she is a woman? Someone quoted in a NY Times article thought so.

The likability question, initially raised by a moderator, "wouldn't be coming up if she wasn’t a woman," she said.

The likability question is only applied to women? Are you fricking kidding me??? Have we so quickly forgotten the "Who would you rather have a beer with" questions from the 2000 and 2004 campaigns? Likeability has always been an issue. Considerably more so than it should be. I would like to have a beer with Bush - though I would need to hang out at the bar for an entire week to tell him what I really think of him.

When it comes to the press mis-covering Clinton, let's be clear about at least one point. They have utterly ignored the fact that she has been the dirtiest campaigner thus far in the damn primary race (another source on that here). Her and her campaign make up lies, mostly about Obama, and attack him on bullshit issues like whether he has used illegal drugs long ago.

From what I can tell, of all the candidates taking money from people and corporations I oppose, Hillary takes the cake. She is the establishment candidate. What a story ... Hillary breaks glass ceiling to push corporate agenda and defend status quo.

Exxon

In 1989, Exxon Valdez jousted with a reef and lost 11 million gallons of crude oil - effectively donating it to the birds, otters, fisherfolk, and others of Prince William Sound. Fortunately, it led to the more regulations on the tankers which has prevented more horrific spills (though the many many small spills in aggregate we never hear about tend to outweigh the massive ones anyway).

Unfortunately, Exxon is still appealing its punishment! It took 5 years to get the decision - $5 billion. Over the years, it has been reduced by half but Exxon is now appealing to the Supreme Court, saying they have paid enough.

This is the largest and most profitable corporation in the world. Though they have cleaned up their act and are not the worst when it comes to environmental irresponsibility (from what I have read, BP is much worse despite their marketing, for instance) they should pay the damn penalty.

Stupid DHL, Dell

Unlike the previous post, this is not an ironic title. My power supply for my laptop from Dell has ceased to charge my laptop so I worked with Dell's support to determine that I needed to get it replaced.

They sent me a new one. Via DHL. Requiring an in-person signature. So I am at home now, rather than my office, which is generally nice but today I would actually prefer to work in the office (great timing) than waiting for DHL to get here. They tried yesterday at 9:43 but here I am at 10:41 and no package.

The damn thing has practically no value. An in person signature required? Seriously? And who am I going to complain to at Dell?? Am I angry enough to wade through 400 contact us options to send a brief note telling them they are stupid??

DHL cannot be bothered to answer the phone and does not have an even more annoying we'll-be-with-you-in-x-minutes system so I have no idea when to expect them. At least with USPS and UPS and Fed Ex, they have regular schedules and you know when to expect them throughout the day.

What a waste!!!! I have heard lots of horror stories about DHL, but until now, I never had a reason to be annoying by them. Where is that damn yellow truck?

Fairy Politicians

Recently, Hillary Clinton told a group of gay rights activists that she was proud to stand by their side. 2 weeks later, when asked if homosexuality was immoral, she did not answer directly.

At this point, I want to be very clear that I would not support any politician who waffles on this issue. I have no doubt this means I will not be able to support any serious candidates in the 2008 election.

Mother Jones has an article that looks at the different candidates and their responses to direct questions.

My anger at those who do not answer this question goes beyond the human rights aspect of denying equal protection under the law to people based on sexual identity - I think it reflects very poorly on the character of anyone who will not speak their mind.

There is a downside to this as well though - those of us who are outspoken and do not moderate our views to please certain constituencies tend to shoot ourselves in the foot when we are not as charismatic as possible, and sometimes even then.

On the issue of human rights, some things trump everything else.

Attacking Civilians

Thanks to daddYman for passing this article along. HuffPo has an article that looks at U.S. citizens willingness to attack civilian targets as compared to rates of acceptance in Muslim countries.

If we're engaged in a "fight for the future of civilization" against Islam, can we be sure we're on the pro-civilization side? That's the question raised by a new poll from Terror Free Tomorrow, which concludes that "Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria."

This result is disturbing, but not necessarily surprising when one looks at the actions of U.S. Presidents from Johnson (who escalated the war in Vietnam) to the words of GWB and Cheney who do not even seem to recognize the idea of a civilian in the war on terror. In the war on terror, you are either a good person or evil. Civilians need not apply.

Americans remained obsessed with stupid TV shows like 24 which probably inform their geopolitical choices more than rational thought or knowledge of history. To be clear: 24 is a bullshit show that endorses the use of terror in absurd situations that never occur. Significant numbers of Americans want to reserve torture for the ticking time bomb scenario - which is what 24 is essentially premised upon (I have heard anyway, I'm not going to waste my time watching violent porn when I could watch sexy porn).

Ticking time bomb scenarios DO NOT HAPPEN outside of Hollywood. Ask any anti-terror expert and they will tell you that such situations simply do not happen. The tools needed to fight terrorism effectively have nothing to do with the last hour before a strike. It has everything to do with the months to years that go into planning such attacks and responding effectively immediately after attacks.

By focusing Americans so intently on situations which do not happen, Fox weakens our security and misleads millions of Americans who appear ignorant to the fact that even though they know the show is fake, it influences their perceptions of terror and Muslims.

It is long past time that we make policies on rational choice - we now know what happens when we allow partisan zealots who are unswayed by facts to make policy. We get stuck in Iraq and aid the recruitment of our enemies. Thank you Bush, and thank you U.S. citizens who vote from the gut.

Condi Rice

This Secretary of State is either totally ignorant or convinced everyone else is. She, like many others recently, have made claims about the Bush Administration's policies in the Middle East and how they compare to U.S. actions during World War II.

Keith Olbermann took them apart, bit by bit. This is an 8 minute video that you should watch if you want to be able to refute ignorant morons that want to compare what the U.S. is doing in Iraq to what the U.S. did in Germany after 1945.

I'm further incensed by the comparisons of Iranian President Ahmadinejad to Hitler by right wing fanatics such as Michael Savage. The Iranian President is a holocaust denier, which makes him an idiot and a bigot. Being an idiot and hating Jews does not make one Hitler.

To compare such a person to Hitler is harmful because it makes Hitler seems less destructive. Hitler's actions deliberately killed over 10 million people brutally. Iran's President is a stupid bigot. Hitler took the reins of massive war machine that nearly conquered two continents. Ahmadinejad is the President of a country sitting on the world's second largest oil reserves during years of record high oil prices and the economy over there blows.

Comparisons of the hate-filled bigot and Hitler do not make Ahmadinejad seem more evil. They only serve to tarnish the memory of the millions of people who died because of Hitler. I think it high time that we called out these people who want to compare everything to Hitler and force them to admit the folly of such statements.

Russell Rants

Today's rant is courtesy of Russell. This made my morning.

It is entitled: The media makes me queasy

Exhibit A

Clipped headlines from the astronaut story:

  • The Wrong Stuff (CNN)
  • Astronaughty (Glenn Beck On Headline News) (My favorite)
  • Astronauts Gone Wild!!!! (Jalopnik)
  • Astronaut's Life Took Swift Nosedive ( CBS)
  • Lust In Space (Fox News Channel) (of course)
  • 2007: A Space Oddity ( Toronto Sun) (and, we hear, CNN 360)

Exhibit B

What was last night's big story?

  • Iran test fires missile, more saber rattling? NO
  • NK maybe gonna give up the nukes? NO
  • Palestinians agree to stop shooting each other (in theory)? NO
  • Busty Bimbo Drops Dead? YES, DEAR GOD YES, Get Larry King out of his oxygen chamber and restart his heart! Sound the alarms! Send Christy Amanpour to Florida! Reanimate Barbara Walters! Feeding Frenzy!

You Made Your Bed

Joe Scarborough of MSNBC recently went on a rant about Bush and his my-way-or-the-highway methods. For those of you unfamiliar, Joe was a Republican from Florida in the House of Representatives and remains a conservative.

You know, I‘ve got to say, just listening to this debate today, Joe Klein, has just made me very angry, angry at a lot of people in my Republican Party, angry at people that I like very much. The suggestion that either you support the president 100 percent or you‘re not a conservative is offensive to me. I am more conservative than George Bush has ever been! I‘m more conservative when it comes to the military. I‘m more conservative when it comes to economics. I‘m more conservative when it comes to spending our money.

But somehow, this president has been able to make the argument, You either support me, you either support—what, $10 billion more dollars, I guess, Joe? I mean, you either support these false estimates that I make at the beginning of the war, you either support my plan to give the generals less troops than they need to win the war at the beginning and more troops than they want at the end, or else you‘re not a conservative.

Full transcript available here

I have a strong reaction to this. When Bush said you either stand with me or against me on the war on terror, many of us said this was a stupid policy more suited to the playground than the complexities of international diplomacy.

Joe, you stood with him. I have no doubt that you used your bully pulpit, as did so many others, to say that after 9-11, if you do not stand with Bush, you are not an American. Well, I didn't stand with him then and I don't stand with him now.

And I love watching you get all hot and bothered because you got burned. Here is a lesson for you if you are capable of learning anything. People who require your complete allegiance without thought never deserve it and will always betray you because they only care for themselves.

For me, this is not only a tenet of human leadership, it is also why I refuse to worship a Christian God. I give respect to those who earn it, not those who demand it.

As for the Republicans, let the feeding frenzy continue. It is a good show if you don't mind how sad it is that we could be learning a valuable lesson from this, but instead all we can talk about is how those stupid Iraqis are letting us down.

Bush took the lives of Iraqis - people that I thought were already at the end of that road - and made them worse through totally preventable stupidity and a love of partisanship that talk show hosts crave because it drives up their ratings. Well, America, you got what you voted for and what the ratings tell us you love.

Bachmann Does not Disappoint

I think Michelle Bachmann, Republican Rep in the House, is a disaster. She is a homophobic moron who is fulfilling a lot of expectations by acting like a starstruck high school girl at the State of the Union address.

Elsewhere, she has apparently called Bush "buff." Seriously. If you read your history books, you won't be surprised when a house falls on her.

Surge

I have reading Fiasco - supposedly the best book about Bush's Iraq War. Written by Thomas Ricks, it is an eye opening account of poor choices by people you thought could no longer surprise you with their short-sightedness.

I am so tired of thinking about the tens of thousands of Americans whose lives have been negatively impacted or ended (and the millions of Iraqis) by this war. It has undoubtedly been the worst prosecuted war in the history of this country. Thus, I could not watch and have not yet been able to read Bush's comments on Wednesday night defending his surge plan.

It is a good idea. I have to give it to him. If we can muster an additional 21,500 troops, we should certainly send them out. To Afghanistan. Not Iraq. Iraq is lost. You can thank civilian and military leadership that give new meaning to the word incompetent for that result. Afghanistan is merely nearly lost.

If we are going to commit more troops to this disaster, we should at least put them where they can make a difference. In Afghanistan. This has the added benefit of working to solve a problem that actually threatened us rather than an invented problem by an Administration blinded by its hubris and indifferent to facts and experts.

Bush has long claimed he does not govern by opinion poll and this cinches it. (He does govern by focus group of course, which he regards as something different). The surge option appears to be polling even below Cheney's favorability rating, and that is something.

The supreme irony of Bush's surge is that he will be relying even more on the National Guard. Minnesota's National Guard just had their leave extended - 2,500 Minnesotans are stuck in Iraq for longer thanks to Bush and the previous 2 Congresses who refused to exercise their obligations to balance the executive branch. At any rate, it is ironic of course because Bush had used his fathers political connections to get into the National Guard so he could avoid serving in Vietnam. I guess he is just forcefully closing a loophole he can't remember due to being so coked out at the time. Awesome.

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