Failing the midterms

So last night was a bit of a bomb for the Democratic party (and, I’d argue, the well-being of the entire country).   The GOP (read: Tea Party Party) took over control of the House of Representatives, though thankfully didn’t take over control of the Senate.  Also, thankfully, Harry Reid didn’t lose to Sharrrrrrron Angle in his district, which would have made the Repub gloating all the worse on the day-after media circuit.

While I’m disappointed in the results, I’m not that surprised or that dismayed.  While it’s going to be PAINFUL to have to watch John Boehner as Speaker of the House, I don’t think the GOP can inflict much damage in their majority capacity.

If anything, it will be interesting to see how the Republican party will have to step up to actually get something done for a change — rather than all the childish, slamming of feet, saying “NO!” that they’ve accomplished during the last 2 years.

I love how, last night in his “victory” speech, Boehner said that it’s now time for him to “roll up his sleeves” and get some work done in the House.  If only he had that attitude for the last 20 years he’s served as a Representative.

Stay tuned, this political ride is going to get bumpy, methinks.

Enough of the Hitler referencing.

Oy, if I hear someone else break out ye ol reductio ad Hitlerum argument one more time, I’m going to scream.  An old Mediaite post reminded me of this soundbite from Robert Gibbs (who I still haven’t forgiven for the “professional left” remark):

You hear — in this [healthcare] debate you hear analogies, you hear references to, you see pictures about and depictions of individuals that are truly stunning. And you hear it all the time. People — imagine five years ago somebody comparing health care reform to 9/11. Imagine just a few years ago had somebody walked around with images of Hitler. Hopefully we can get back to a discussion about the issues that are important in this country, that we can do without being personally disagreeable and set up comparisons to things that were so insidious in our history that anybody in any professional walk of life would be well advised to compare nothing to those atrocities.


It gets better

Adding his voice to Dan Savage’s campaign of “It Gets Better,” here’s President Obama:

My frustrations are pretty clear in the post below this one — but I think Rachel Maddow summed up the significance of the video well:

Americans who care about the rights of sexual minorities have plenty of reasons to be frustrated and even angry with President Obama and his administration. Still, I’m trying to think of another American president who could have given this talk — and it is a talk, not a speech. This is a president, a father, talking to kids the same age as his daughters. President Lincoln in the YouTube age? President Clinton, plus 15 years? In a time when progress feels painfully slow, this counts.


Yes, We Can — but won’t.

Right now one of the bigger issues playing out on the political hometurf is the issue of ending the useless “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military.  The policy itself is in its death throes — from all the polls, it’s clear the American public doesn’t support it AND courts all over the country are finding constitutional issues with how the policy itself is executed.

So, you’d think it would be a NON-ISSUE for a President and his administration — one that was elected on a LGBT-friendly political platform and with their support — to go ahead and put this discriminatory policy out of its misery and end its enforcement.

Not exactly the case — the way this story has played out over the last few months  makes the entire presidential administration look downright schizophrenic when it comes to DADT.

First a court rules against the military policy, and issues a stay against its enforcement.  The president then says on the campaign trail that the policy will be “ended on [his] watch”, while meanwhile his Department of Justice challenges the court-imposed stay on DADT, so they can keep enforcing the policy on military service people?!

And now today the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a directive that will make any enforcement of the policy contingent on the “personal approval” of his office first.

Can you see why I’m confused?  We have a president who’s against the policy, but a justice department who’s seeking to keep it in place.  Then there’s a Secretary of Defense who’s spoken out against the policy, and now looks like he’s attempting to make it even more difficult for it to be enforced on service men & women — SO WHY NOT JUST END IT ALREADY?

Lt. Choi articulates my frustrations well (and from a position where he’s completely entitled to feel such frustration):

Mr. President, justice delayed is justice denied.

EDIT: Valerie Jarrett responds to Lt. Choi (and I’m not persuaded by her argument):

In which I agree with Bill O’Reilly?!!

One of the bigger news stories today is that two of ‘The View’ hosts stormed off the stage in response to the ever-blustering Bill O’Reilly (video here).  The daytime-TV controversy was over O’Reilly insisting that “the Muslims killed us” on 9/11, which made Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walk off the set in protest over his bigoted statement.

Now, since Behar and O’Reilly each have their own evening TV shows, I was curious how each would cover what happened today.

First I tried to watch Behar explain her side of things — but she had on guest Jesse Ventura who started in on a whole bunch of 9/11 truther bullshit, of which I have ZERO tolerance for, so I didn’t care to hear much more of that particular clip. (video here)

Then I watched a bit of O’Reilly’s response (video here) — again, I had to cut off my viewing of the clip after he had on the intolerable Laura Ingraham — but before I turned off the video, I nearly fell out of my chair when I found myself agreeing with something he said.

During his infamous “no spin zone,” O’Reilly defended his statement on the View by saying he’s tired of the “political correctness” of today that attempts to whitewash (or flat-out avoid admitting) the fact that the terrorists of 9/11 were Muslim.

And I agree. (!!!)

I’m just now finishing reading Aayan Hirsi Ali’s book Infidel, and I can honestly say that reading her book has really shaken me in how I view the Islamic faith and the idea of multiculturalism.  Ali was born into a Muslim family, and lived as a committed Muslim woman for most of her life — including stints as a committed Muslim fundamentalist.  She endured genital mutilation, forced marriage, and many other gender-based repressions under this faith system.  The story of Infidel is how she was finally able to break free from that oppression, and fight for the rights of women who are still under its ideological thumb.

Ali writes about how the seemingly-respectful liberal guise of “multiculturalism” is one that allows the continued oppression of women in restrictive religious regimes.  For example, when she was a member of the Dutch Parliament, Ali fought to have police records taken on how many Muslim women in her country were murdered via “honor killings” or were forcefully-excised as victims of genital mutilation.  The Dutch were at first hesitant to take such records, particularly out of fear of being politically incorrect in their targeting of a specific religious group.  Once she was able to persuade the authorities to take note of these women victims, her country was stunned by the number of women who were targeted by such acts.

In addition to my views being shaped by reading Infidel, this weekend I was also motivated by some of what Sam Harris had to say in a debate I witnessed.  At one point he said:

“It’s an astonishing failure of compassion on the part of liberals to claim the sanctimonious high ground of being sensitive to someone’s religion, and not connect with the abject suffering, the abject and unnecessary suffering, of the millions and millions of people — disproportionally women — who suffer under Islam at this moment.”

That statement of being a “failure of compassion” really hit me square in the eyes.  It’s not enough for me to look the other way and try to explain away unethical practices because I’m trying my best to be understandingly multicultural. No more.

But back to how I somehow found myself agreeing with O’Reilly — as I mentioned earlier, after he played the clip of today’s swaggering performance on The View, he had some commentary on why he said what he did.

He said that he’s tired of the political correctness that makes it taboo to mention that the terrorists of 9/11 were Muslim.  And y’know, he’s right.  It seems like more and more, people are straying away from the religious motivations of 9/11 and are trying to explain the attacks from a socio-economic perspective, or even from a Western-capitalist-you-had-this-coming-to-you angle.

So, yes, I sorta agree with O’Reilly here.  I don’t think it does anyone any good to ignore the fact that these nineteen 9/11 terrorists — highly educated, not-in-poverty men — were indeed motivated by the uglier tenets of their faith system, Islam.  Of course admitting this is not the same thing as branding all Muslims as bomb-wielding terrorists, but it serves no purpose to sugar-coat the fact that these attacks were largely motivated by religious ideology.

I’m still not entirely comfortable with how I feel right now.  I still feel really shaken by Ali’s story, and awfully convicted by Harris’s statement.  A part of me wishes I could crawl back into my previous space of fuzzy-wuzzy multiculturalism — but I don’t think I could ever go back.  In fact, I don’t want to.