Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm Pissed as Hell at the Critical Left or Take a Look in the Mirror, You Cowards

Salon is a piece of crap.  Sorry I couldn't think of a snappy intro.  Of course, I am referring to Thomas Frank’s hit piece in Salon, “Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure.” Yep, that’s the one. I know from my journalism classes that editors often write the headlines, but even if Frank did not write it, the headline pretty much summarizes the article.  By the way, Kevin Drum at Mother Jones did a decent job rebutting Frank’s article in “If the Left Wants Scapegoats, Just Look in the Mirror. “ One point in the Drum’s article I latched onto is “The rest of us, who were unable to take advantage of an epic financial collapse to get the public firmly in favor of pitchforks and universal health care, deserve most of it. The mirror doesn't lie.” He could have written that one sentence, and his article would have been brilliant. That’s the point of this post.  It’s that one sentence I’m going to address, not Frank’s piece.

We all remember the healthcare debate and the stimulus debate and the every other debate over an important issue ad nauseum.  And where was the Left during myriad hours of debate? Bitching in front of every available TV camera and microphone.  Remember “Kill the Bill” from the likes of Keith Olbermann, Howard Dean, and let’s not forget the King of the Whining Lefties, Michael Moore.  How easy for those lefties to urge Congress to kill the bill because they weren't one of the millions uninsured or under insured in America.  Ed Schultz even urged Democrats to sit out the 2010 elections, and we all know how that worked out for us. Shortly after the stimulus passed, the Left was criticizing it too because it wasn't enough.  It didn't have enough money for infrastructure.

I remember distinctly Olbermann and Bernie Sanders on Countdown agreeing that “Obama needs to grow a backbone.” I immediately fired off a tweet to both for accusing the President of cowardice.  Olbermann, in response to my tweet accusing them both of being disrespectful, denied that their labeling Pres. Obama a coward was in any way demeaning or disrespectful.  That was only one of many times Olbermann was wrong. If he didn't coin the term “cave” to describe Pres. Obama’s behavior, he certainly used it generously enough.

I cannot think of a single negotiation that Pres. Obama had with the GOP that Olbermann did not blame the President in one of his fiery commentaries.  And he wasn't the only one.  The Left, Cenk Uygur, Bernie Sanders, Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, David Sirota, Chris Hayes, etc., pounded on the President daily.  Every damn time his back was to the wall, the Left joined the Right in berating Pres. Obama.  Sometimes it was difficult to tell the two sides apart.

The first couple of years Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas, and Adam Green were all over MSNBC speaking for “Obama’s base,” or so they thought. Twitter set them straight in a hurry on that idea.  Where are they now? Who gives a damn.  Oh, and let’s not forget Bill Maher thought “he voted for the black guy but got the white guy instead,” a line Michael Moore often gleefully repeated.

 Another darling of the Left is Joan Walsh, who eventually wrote a book about herself, What’s the Matter with White People.  Her adventures in twitterdom were mighty unpleasant for her as the real base rose up collectively to set her straight. To this day she and her buddy Chris Matthews become unhinged at any crisis, looking first to blame the President.  I still occasionally watched MSNBC until the IRS “scandal” broke, and it was Matthews’s hysterical (I do not mean funny) behavior that finally drove me away for good. He was already indicting Pres. Obama before the story unfolded and going down the path of coulda, woulda, and shoulda. 

One of the sorriest spectacles produced by the Left was over LBGT rights and the repeal of DADT.  We all watched in horror as Dan Choi evolved into the darling of MSNBC.  The Left was clamoring for an executive order to overturn DADT—we want what we want now! The fact was Pres. Obama explained countless times in many venues that an executive order could be overturned by the next President, and he wanted it done legislatively, a permanent fix.  The lowest point in this debacle was when Maddow announced that Pres. Obama would have voted no on gay marriage had he been in the New York  state legislature, and “Obama would have voted no!” became the anthem of the Left. 

The list of examples of the Left betraying Pres. Obama is endless from voting to keep Guantanamo open to the latest crisis in the Ukraine.  Not only does the Left desert Pres. Obama during every crisis, they actively undermine him.  Where’s the evidence? Just read the timelines on Twitter of any member of the critical Left. You will see a constant barrage of anti-Obama tweets.  If the 
so-called lefty journalists and pundits aren't criticizing every step the President makes, they are continually second-guessing him and usually offering him advice, most of which is ridiculous. And then when President Obama is successful, the critics don’t praise him or report on the successes, but instead they just ignore the accomplishments.

The duo of Stephen Cohen/Katrina vanden Heuvel frequently takes to the airwaves and twitter to denounce Pres. Obama’s actions and decisions. Vanden Heuvel, playing the role of psychiatrist by analyzing the President, announced that he is “conflict averse.”  Cohen, her husband, told a pundit that he voted for Pres. Obama “out of a sense of social justice.” Folks, right there is some snootified white privilege.  Vanden Heuvel, the editor of 
The Nation, is a twitter tornado during any crisis, especially during the Syrian and now the Ukrainian crisis.  Both she and her husband would rather lay the blame for both at Pres. Obama’s doorstep than Putin’s.

She and her minions were certain Pres. Obama was going to attack Syria. So certain, in fact, that when Putin caved, she claimed credit for herself and other Lefties, for not only a peaceful settlement, but preventing a war.  Excuse me? What war? Just the other night on Twitter she urged against rushing to judgment about who shot down Flight MH17.  When confronted with evidence that it was the separatists, a group widely known to have Putin’s support, she said there was no proof Putin was supplying them with arms.  See what I mean about not being able to distinguish the Left from the Right?  This hair-on-fire behavior isn't just reserved for the rich and famous.  Oh no. I see it on my timeline all the time. I’m not advocating blind following but a little faith in the man would be refreshing.

You know what, Thomas Frank and the rest of you lily-livered purists, you have no idea what courage is. You think it didn't take courage for a young little-known senator to take on the Clinton machine. It didn't take courage to take on the leadership of a country that was on the brink of economic collapse. It didn't take courage to face the opposition alone every freakin day.  It didn't take courage to put his political capital on the line to get health care reform, to fight for LGBT rights, to defend this country from attack, to 
single-handedly put this country back on a firm economic foundation.  Do you think it doesn't take courage to face down Putin? Do you think it doesn't take courage to get up every morning to lead a profoundly ungrateful nation, and all the while showing us grace and dignity?

President Obama has had to battle a vitriolic right wing media, a political party with racists at its core, a cowardly Congress, a grossly incompetent and lazy press, and whining Lefties who don’t have vision but have plenty of criticism and advice. You think that doesn't take courage? And where were Thomas Frank and his ilk whenever battle swords were drawn?  I believe they went the way of the Sunshine Patriots.

My apologies for not providing links like I usually do.  Frankly, I was so pissed that I just pounded this out.  You’ll just have to trust my recounting of events—or not.   

Obama has a clear out of Syria bombing given the UK vote. But he won't take it. More scared of what GOP hawks are going to say about him.

Why isn't Pres Obama calling for immediate ceasefire in Ukraine?

Never Ever Count President Obama Out

In light of the Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court, I thought I'd post this piece again with a follow up.

Many on the left have set their hair on fire over President Obama's solution to the conflict between religious institutions, primarily the Catholic church, providing health care coverage which includes birth control to women and the teachings of the church. One would have to be in the wildest parts of Siberia to have missed this controversy, so I will not recount the drama that has unfolded.

However, once again the ubiquitous word "cave" has appeared in association with this decision. There was a time when this would infuriate me, but now I laugh at the predictability of the critical left. Of course, if you dare disagree with them, then they launch into name calling that would make any junior high student proud. I think one reason for their childish, often surly, reaction is their unstated, unreasonable expectations of President Obama. It's as if some on the left have never listened to his speeches, press conferences, or town halls because if they had, surely they would have some understanding of the man.

For example, Barack Obama is a man who truly understands the art of politics better than any of his critics on the right or left and certainly any of the ideologues. Plenty of evidence exists to support this as he brings home one victory after another for the American people in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds. Certainly many do understand him, calling him the chess master while his opponents are merely sitting in the park playing checkers. But time after time those of us who have defended the President are called idiots, morons, Obamabots, etc. in spite of the fact our defense of President Obama has been well-founded and well-placed. But the critical left still doesn't get him.

As an example of the obtuseness of President Obama's critics on the left, let me take you back to the time when the second budget agreement was finalized. Remember Boehner bragging about how he got what he wanted? Remember Cenk Uygur and others of his ilk screaming that the President got rolled? A couple of days later, Boehner was whining that the Republicans had been rolled, but "we won't be rolled again." Yet the GOP was rolled. . . again and again.

And now again in the debate over women's health, the Republicans have been rolled and although we have ample evidence that the President knows more about negotiating and political maneuvering than anyone in D.C., the angry left is still as dense as ever. And for the umpteenth time they and the Republicans look like fools. As a wise man once said, “‘theres a saying that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." Okay, forget the wise part.

When the uproar broke this week over mandating that religious institutions offer women's preventative care coverage, we saw a replay of every other drama over important issues about which we liberals care deeply. The debate over this issue was couched as either a violation of religious freedom or women's right to unfettered access to birth control. Most of the proponents of the religious freedom argument were white Catholic male pundits, such as Chris Matthews and Lawrence O'Donnell, who frankly couldn't get past their white privilege to see the true issue here. But I digress.

The Republicans came out with their usual hysterical rhetoric, providing further evidence to the American people just how extreme they are. However, in an unusual display of unity, Democrats held firm and stayed on message. What's that message? Women have a right to preventative care coverage by any employer, regardless of secular or religious foundation. So yesterday, when President Obama announced a way to provide the coverage that the Catholic and religious institutions could accept, he was accused of caving or bending because by some on the left who lost sight of the goal.

Those critics on the left just don't get Barack Obama because they lack vision, subtlety, and nuance. Most importantly, the critical left always loses sight of the goal. The goal was not bringing down the Catholic church but to provide the best possible preventative care for women without the co-pays many women cannot afford.

May I offer this extended metaphor. Again those critics on the left are painting by numbers, showing their lack of creativity, imagination, impatience, and foresight, while President Obama is the great master, bringing all of his creativity, imagination, and patience to the canvas. He has a vision for his painting, but he realizes that he is working with a wet canvas requiring layers of paint. To rush through his creation would only leave a muddy mess, not a grand work for generations to appreciate and enjoy.

So I guess the President did cave to those who wanted to launch a war against religion, but for the women of America, who never lost sight of the real goal, it is a grand victory.

Huzzah President Obama!

Follow up: After the dreadful Hobby Lobby ruling by SCOTUS,  panic ensued among us who believe a woman’s right to health care shouldn't be dictated by her employer.  However, Pres. Obama applied the same “strategery” he had used so women working for religious institutions would not lose health care.  While this isn't a perfect solution, Pres. Obama ordered insurance companies to contact women working for companies that refuse birth control and offer them birth control directly. The insurance companies are willing to do this because birth control is much cheaper than a pregnancy and birth. And again, when the right and those critics on the left think Pres. Obama has been outmaneuvered, he finds a solution. 

Double Huzzah, President Obama!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Dehumanization*

When I came across this photo, I was struck by the callousness it conveyed, as well as the arrogance of the idea that whites get to determine the connotation of words that are insulting at best and racist at worst.
First, white folks don't get to determine what is racist or isn't, nor do we get to determine what offends other races, ethnic groups, or cultures because we are the ones who created the offensive words or phrases in the first place. No equivalent racial slur used by minorities toward whites comes close to the worst of the slurs used toward minorities. It's impossible for whites to know the kind of anguish that minorities feel when hateful words and phrases are flung at them. That's why I defer to minorities on whether or not words are racial epithets. It's true that some within a minority group may refer to one another with racial slurs, but I would offer that the tone and context are different. However, that doesn't really matter to me. My own friends who belong to minority groups are deeply offended by slurs as are, I assume, most members of these groups.
For example, when Sarah Palin used code words to describe Pres. Obama as "uppity," people were rightly angry. When she said he needed to stop "shuckin' & jivin'," again there were those who called her out for it. Of course, her critics were accused of playing the race card. Maybe she didn't know how offensive her words were to African Americans, but her possible naïveté doesn't change the fact the words were racist. Those words, which are rooted in the slave trade, were used with derision by whites. So let's say she was ignorant of the origin of the insults, that still doesn't make them less offensive.
The same truth applies to "illegal alien." It is offensive for a number of reasons. It is almost exclusively applied to Mexicans who come across the border with or without permission. I don't know about your region of the country, but in New Mexico, it is code for wetback, a hateful term generously applied to most Latinos.   In our history the term "illegal alien" has been used to refer to any group we deem to be lesser than we are and, thus, dehumanize them. In recent history it is almost exclusively applied to Latin Americans.
The fact is a majority of Latinos who cross the border do have work visas, but the visas expire while they're here, and for whatever reason, they do not get them renewed. I suspect they fear being denied a new visa, so they don't apply again.  They are breaking immigration law, but it doesn't make the people themselves  " illegal." No one in this country, regardless of the crime, is labeled an "illegal." In fact, if undocumented immigrants are caught, they appear in civil court, not criminal court, and judges hearing immigration cases can and often do grant work visas to people who appear in their courts. 
The word "alien" implies people are strange, or worse, inhuman. While the Latinos crossing the border may be "foreign" to U.S soil, their ancestors were on this continent long before white Europeans. "Alien" has had a negative connotation, since at least the passage of the "Alien and Sedition Acts."  Immigrants from Latin America arent strange or foreign, nor is their language.  When I was in school, Spanish was taught in grades 1-12, so hearing Spanish being spoken isn't foreign or alien to me nor does it offend me. I'm not saying the history in NM between Anglos & Latinos has been without rancor or that we don't have our fair share of bigots, but I'm proud of the way we embrace other races, ethnic groups, and cultures.  An example of our progress is our willingness to shelter the refugees from Central America.
When the Supreme Court struck down Arizona's " papers, please" law,  conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion, "'removal of an unauthorized migrant is a civil matter where even if the person is out of status, federal officials have wide discretion to determine whether deportation makes sense. For example, if an unauthorized person is trying to support his family by working or has "'children born in the United States, long ties to the community, or a record of distinguished military service,'" officials may let him stay. Also, if individuals or their families might be politically persecuted or harmed upon return to their country of origin, they may also remain in the United States." The court, which is extremely conservative, did not use the term illegal alien" in their opinions except when referring to specific passages in the AZ law.
I'm not the word police, nor am I a censor; I am an educator. My goal here is to enlighten those who are quick to use offensive labels for those different from us. White-American verdicts on the connotations of ethnic monikers are irrelevant given the positions and circumstances from which the labeling arises. So whether the verdicts originate from the ignorance of white privilege or the hatred spawned by a diseased soul, the meaning remains the same to the subject.

*A shout out to my extraordinary grandson @roach_god for his help and collaboration.