Friday, March 14, 2008

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright vs. Geraldine Ferraro

"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another..." so begins the Declaration of Independence. Our first step towards greatness as a nation was to recognize that some relationships had become more of a hindrance than a help, and it was time to distance ourselves from those who would hold us back.

Such a time is now for the Democratic nominees for the Presidency. As bets are placed and candidates maneuver for votes, we can expect the inevitable parade of supporters. It is a symbiotic relationship, with the supporters getting to share the spotlight and the candidates getting to bask in the adulation of Important People.

The problem becomes when the media confuse the candidate with their supporters. The first blip on the radar came when Louis Farrakhan endorsed the candidacy of Barack Obama. You could almost hear the collective cringe from Obama's white and Jewish supporters, as the situation was defused with the delicacy of a time bomb. The candidate morphs and becomes one with the supporters in the eyes of the media, and we can almost imagine Farrakhan's hateful diatribes coming from Obama himself. Obama deftly sidestepped the issue, saying that while he was happy as a candidate to get an endorsement, he wanted everyone to know that he rejected the message of Farrakhan.

Then from the mist of time immemorial, Geraldine Ferraro emerges. Unless you were paying attention in the early 1980's, Geraldine Ferraro qualifies as little more than a Final Jeopardy answer. The question? Who was the first woman to run for Vice President of the United States for one of the two major political parties? Even today, the candidacy of Ferraro raised speculation: was it a stunt? A dare? Were Democrats, sure that they were unable to thwart Reagan's re-election in 1984, trying to simply make a statement that they were the party of Women's Liberation? After her and Walter Mondale's defeat, she had her brief foray on the lecture circuit, and from there retreated into the mist.

Then with Hillary running, and winning Texas and Ohio, it seemed entirely plausible that we would see a woman taking the Oath of Office next January. The time was right for Ferraro to emerge from obscurity and cast her lot for Hillary. The only problem is, Ferraro has a big mouth, and a bit of a chip on her shoulder. Politicking is a delicate dance, and all it takes is one botched do-si-do to get voted off the stage. So, Ferraro shoots her mouth off in ways that came off as pretty racist against Obama, saying he wouldn't be a candidate if not for the fact that he's black. Wow, not even "African-American"? So much for that famous liberal sensitivity. Hillary, who remained loudly silent in the aftermath, probably did her campaign more harm than good as a result. The fact that she insisted that Obama both "denounce and reject" Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments was spot on. It is important that the leader of the United States to show no bias towards or against any group. Obama did the right thing in distancing himself from Farrakhan's hate speech, and for the life of me I can't figure out why Hillary wasn't as prompt to do the same.

Finally, we have Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright. Born in Philadelphia, Rev. Wright spent 36 years as pastor to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. This is the same church Obama attended. So what did the good Reverend say that is so horrible as to incur the wrath of mainstream media and cast aspersions on the candidacy of the Democratic Senator from Illinois? Simply this: "The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." He also said that Americans are "selfish, self-centered egotists who are arrogant and ignorant,". America is also said to have, "put Nelson Mandela in prison", to "believe in white supremacy", and to have, "supported Zionism shamelessly."


Whether Obama believes this or not is not the issue at this point. The good things the Reverend has done for his community will not be considered here. It's a shame too, because on the merits of the aforementioned quotes, it's hard not to lump Reverend Wright in with Minister Farrakhan. But regardless of how this boils down one lesson is already emerging: be careful who you count as your friends, especially in politics when everyone wants to be your friend. Whatever asinine stunt they pull becomes your stunt. Whatever invective spewed in a moment of anger becomes your new campaign slogan.

Hillary and Barack have done themselves and one another a good deal of harm in this "I hate your supporters" tiff. I do believe that they would both love to get back to the issues of the election and let this other stuff slide. I mean really, just because Geraldine Ferraro is a closet racist doesn't mean Hillary Clinton has to be one too. Just because Louis Farrakhan is gong to vote for Barack Obama doesn't mean that Obama hates Jews too. But even the fact that we have to pause to remind ourselves of that is a bad thing.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hillary being "Vetted", whatever that means

So Hillary won in Ohio and Texas. Her campaign has been declared dead more often than Jason Vorhees, and like that hockey-masked heartbreaker, the campaign has risen from the dead to claim major victories this past Tuesday. They said it couldn't be done, but then "they" said a woman would never be President.

I like Hillary, and I really liked Bill Clinton. His accomplishments as President should serve as the litmus test for all future presidents. Our current President can only hope that future generations look with pity on him; it's his only hope. That's not to say she's my pick among the Democrats, but if she is the nominee she can expect my unwavering support.

But the latest offering from the "Anybody But Hillary" camp is to attack her for not being "vetted". I looked up the term on and it shows one of the definitions to be "to subject to thorough examination or evaluation". This is what they claim Hillary has yet to be subjected to. Personally, I think anyone who suspects that Hillary Clinton has yet to be subjected to intense public scrutiny must have just woken from a 16-year coma. All throughout Bill Clinton's presidency and Hillary's two terms as a U.S. Senator, and especially in this campaign, she has been scrutinized by the right wing and accused of everything but kidnapping the Lindbergh baby.

Now they are calling into account her and Bill's alleged association with, contributions from and various other dealings with people suspected of contributing to her campaign under dubious circumstances. I do think this needs to be addressed, but maybe not in the way others are. Let me state, for my part:

Personally, I don't care if Bill and Hillary raised money by sacrificing children to ancient Sumerian gods.

I don't care if they raised money but selling the organs of nuns and orphans.

I don't care if Adolf Hitler rose from the dead and funded her campaign with Nazi gold.

I don't care if they beat up every school child in America and took their lunch money to fund her campaign.

There is no source of income, no nefarious character performing fundraising, no scheme so evil as to eclipse the horrors of George Bush and Company.

  • They have gutted our nation's surplus.
  • They have allowed the family of Osama bin Laden safe passage out of the country before the dust from the Twin Towers was even settled.
  • They have waged war under false pretenses, and killed thousands of loyal American soldiers in the process.
  • They have plunged our nation into debt never imagined by our founding fathers.
  • They have spearheaded legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act specifically to usurp our basic liberties and silence the opposition.
  • They have conducted torture and befouled the good name and standing of our proud nation on the world's stage.
And you think a few shady deals from Hillary are going to turn her into the villain here?

You make the mistake of assuming we haven't been paying attention to the abuses of George W. Bush.


And no matter what sins you pin on Bill and Hillary Clinton now or in the past, they are comparitive SAINTS next to this corrupt and evil administration. And before I vote for another Republican presidential candidate, I will happily endorse any fund-raising deal Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama make with Satan himself.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Thank-You to Our Republican Leaders

I heard the news today, oh boy.

According to a news story on MSNBC, we can expect as a nation to pay over $4.00 per gallon for gasoline this summer. As anyone who lives in California knows, that translates into about $5.00 for us.

I think it's time I showed my gratitude to the leadership of our nation for making this a reality.

Thank you, Republican leaders, for the last seven years of leadership.

Back in 1999, when our country was paying an average of $1.36 a gallon for gasoline, we needed to be saved. Kudos.

Back in 1999, we had a balanced budget and a surplus. Thanks for giving it all away. I guess you guys really are the fiscally responsible ones.

Between 1993 and 2000, we lost 59 American lives to Middle Eastern terrorists. In your first year in office after that, we lost 2,992 civilians to them. Thanks for keeping us safe.

Thank you, Republicans for leadership that was bold enough to ignore memos that warned you of Osama bin Laden's determination to "follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and 'bring the fighting to America'".

Back in 1999, we were letting Saddam Hussein live, silly us. You showed us how it was important to kill 4,000 American soldiers to make sure we got rid of him. I feel much safer now.

And we really didn't need our civil liberties. Thanks for relieving us of that burden.

Today we are a little more secure because you can listen in on our phone calls. Brilliant.

And even though we're in the biggest debt our nation has ever seen, you've convinced me that Republican are the ones we can trust with leading our nation.

I think I speak for everyone when I say we can't wait until November to show you just how grateful we all are.

Til then, I remain you lifelong admirer,

The Nutty Irishman

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gays vs. The Sanctity of Marriage

My marriage license was distributed by the state of New York. Nowhere in that document does it mention the church, Christianity, God, Jesus, Yahweh, Mohammed, Allah, or the flying spaghetti monster. That's because marriage is a secular institution.

Let me say that again: Marriage is a secular institution.

That means that it exists outside the authority of the church. My wedding did not take place in a church, it was not done with the church's permission, and it was not presided over by a minister or a priest.

So when I hear about same-sex marriage and the church's disapproval, I am forced to wonder: who asked them? Since when does a couple need to seek the approval of the church? If two people wish to be married in a church, by a member of their clergy, then by all means get the endorsement of the church. But apart from that very specific scenario, I have to think that the church, and religion in general, should sit this one out.

Weddings can be performed by judges, ship captains, and a host of other officials that exist outside the controls of any organized religion. So if same-sex marriage were to be legalized, and certain clergy were squeamish about officiating a gay wedding, I have no doubt that the couple could seek out a whole host of alternative officials.

Then we come to the argument about "preserving the sanctity of marriage". This old chestnut gets trotted out by evangelicals as though they hold the line against the incursion of invading hordes, hell-bent on destroying the sacred. But let's do a little math here. According to most polls, about 75% of Americans profess to be Christian, of some denomination. Of that 75%, a little less than half fall into the category of evangelicals. So, essentially, we're looking at one in three Americans affiliated with some degree of Protestant evangelical Christianity. Several studies have rated these same evangelicals have higher divorce rates that Catholics, Jews, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, etc.

When I got married, I knew that I was bonding my life to my wife's. I knew that this was not a commitment to be taken lightly, because it was intended to be a lifelong commitment. This is not news that was exclusive to me. The traditional wedding ceremony makes mention of this, so anyone who has ever been to a wedding has a pretty good idea that it's a long-term commitment. The expressions "'til death do us part" and "as long as we both shall live" are so ingrained in our understanding of wedding litanies that to not hear it would cast an awkward moment into the vows.

And rightly so. So it begs the question, if evangelicals are so concerned with preserving the sanctity of marriage, why do they perceive the biggest threat coming from the homosexual community? It should be clear that they are doing more harm to their own cause than any gay couple could.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: marriage, gay or straight, is an issue that ought to be decided by the states, not the federal government. This is truly the best compromise on an issue that is so divisive. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Each state issues marriage licenses, and should be trusted on how to define a marriage. If the state you live in allows gay marriage, it should not be the right of the federal government to challenge or interfere. And if your state's marriage laws do not reflect your own personal moral code, you are entitled to move to another state.

I would love to see a study done in the coming years comparing how gay divorce rates stack up against their straight ones. I wonder if part of the straight community's fear of allowing gay marriage is that gays might be able to make it last better. Time will tell. Since there will likely be fewer children in a gay marriage it would make divorces a little less complicated. But that's a whole other discussion.

Ultimately there will come a day, after this business has been settled and we collectively decide that the right to marry belongs to all Americans, when we look back and wonder: why we were so obsessed with denying our fellow citizens their basic rights? Certainly being happy and in love is a right we all have. I think it will hearken back to the Civil Rights movement when white sincerely believed that to allow blacks equal rights would unmake the fabric of society. The bigots were wrong then, and they are wrong now. To insist on gay people having "civil unions" instead of "marriage" is just the latest version of seperate drinking fountains. We cannot expect the homosexuals to forever sit at the back of the bus. We cannot continue to call ourselves the land of the free when some of us are freer than others.