Archive for June, 2007

When the Right Attacks…
June 28, 2007

contributed by Nathan Lean

I’m going to put myself out on a limb here–it happens from time to time when I feel a moral obligation to defend an injustice. When fear of controversy silences our desire to speak out, we have been robbed of our ability to create change.

The political world took a low blow Tuesday when Ann Coulter decided to open her savage right-wing mouth, yet again, wishing Sen. John Edwards “had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” Perhaps you may remember Coulter’s tirades earlier this year comparing Sen. Barack Obama to a terrorist or making crude comments about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s legs. Maybe it was the “ask me about my dead son” comment that brings back stirring memories of Coulter’s wicked ability to tap into a political dialogue with personal attacks about tragic family events. Whatever the case may be, it’s safe to say that Ann Coulter appears to be what many refer to as a “media prostitute –” an opportunist seeking to cash in on outlandish statements.

Perhaps this blog entry is giving the radical mouthpiece more attention that she deserves. But what will it take to silence this monster for good?

Further, has-been “independent conservative” and talking-head Pat Buchanan came to Coulter’s defense, claiming the garbage from her mouth was used to emphasize contradictions relating to haircuts, house size, and poverty. Let’s remember that Pat Buchanan was also the one who defended Don Imus’ outrageous comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Are these the people dominating our political debate?

What ever happened to policy? It seems as if the recent attacks on Democrats personal lives are an attempt to buy time while blood-thirsty conservatives search for arguments with substance related to policy and legislation. Newsflash: Similar to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there are none. Why can’t Coulter research Obama’s Health Care plan or Edwards’ poverty proposals?

Perhaps it’s fear of 2008 that drives this defensive, backed-into-a-corner style dialogue. Maybe 2006 was a prediction that people are ready for a “politics of hope” and will silence the Republican machine once and for all. Perhaps the substance of the Democratic party’s platforms can’t be matched.

God forbid, but if I were a Democratic or Republican candidate, I would be the first to denounce this style of trash-talk.

Contrary to popular opinion, we are indeed our brothers keepers. At leas in the minds of the voters.

For a politics of hope, free of trash-talk and low blow attacks, click here.

Youth, voting, and the Iraq war
June 19, 2007

by Nathan Lean

Harvard’s Institute of Politics recently reported that when it comes to the ever-chased “youth vote,” Sen. Barack Obama leads the field of Democrats along with Republican Presidential nominee Rudy Giuliani. As I read, and then re-read the report, I was struck with a strange sensation of fear and utter concern. The juxtaposition of these two candidates with particular regard to the youth vote may as well be compared to the juxtaposition of peanut butter and Italian salad dressing. Before you balk at my statement, hear me out.

Hungry for change and direct involvement with the hijacked political process, youth have begun to turn out to the polls more than ever in the last few years. Stats show that the 52% of 18-29 year olds that showed up to vote in 1992 is well within reach this election season. Not only is that number well within reach, the results of the 2006 midterm elections prove that youth are unsettled and untrusting of a war-hungry Republican administration. In nearly every crucial run-off, the pro-war Republicans lost their seats as the voices of the people rang loud and clear.

Do you think there is a correlation between the youth vote and the ’06 results?

This brings me back to Obama and Giuliani. Sure—I recognize that term youth has no underlying connection to progressivism or the Democratic Party for that matter, but doesn’t it seem odd that Giuliani, who so fervently sides with the Bush administration on Iraq war policy, is leading among youth? If people are tired of the Bush administration’s failed policies, why support a protégé of the President. Perhaps it’s time to point out the major difference in the two—that which I just mentioned: the war. “The worst thing to do is show them weakness,” “I’m afraid that Democrats haven’t learned that,” Giuliani said. In my mind, weakness is not admitting your faults, and continuing down the same path, getting the same results without fail. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck –why in the world should we call it a chicken? We have accomplished nothing in Iraq.

The war was what the Democrats won 2006 on and it will still be fresh on their minds in 2008.

I hope the youth today realize that Barack Obama—though a fledgling politician at the time, had more foresight than any other candidate on the platform today. It’s as if he looked into the future, saw the mess we are in today, and said no—absolutely not.

If there is one good thing about Giuliani having the backing of Republican youth, it’s an indicator that the vote will be more “left” in 2008. I simply hope that youth recognize the failed policy of our current Presidential administration and heed that notion when they cast their vote.

I also invite those undecided voters to consider the following statement: “ We must understand that the might of our military must be matched by the strength of our diplomacy.” –Barack Obama.

War Games: the pre-emptive punch and fair play
June 4, 2007

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This blog was contributed by guest blogger Linda Hansen

We have it on very good authority (George W. himself) that, in this post-9/11 world, it is imperative to strike the first blow when we have the slightest notion someone–anyone–out there means to hurt us. Hit first and hit hard. Any perceived enemy is fair game. No hard evidence of imminent danger necessary. His job, he declares, is to protect us fom harm. What a fair and sensitive guy he is. Or not. Insiders say he has a petty mean streak a mile wide. And he smirks when he punches below the belt.

The sitting president plays host, every election cycle, to newly elected legislators. Everyone’s invited to the White House to meet and greet the Commander Guy. They all make nice–even though they’ve said some pretty awful things about each other during campaign season. The 2006 shindig was a doozey.

Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA) was there. He’s the ex-marine who beat Bush buddy/wannabe George “Macaca” Allen in a tight race. Senator Webb was no supporter of Dubyah’s Iraq War and, unlike the Prez, Webb actually had a son serving his country in Iraq. He chose to avoid Bush during the White House reception. Not a bad idea when you’re no fan. It beats hissing at him.

But old Dubyah was having none of that. He made a beeline for Jim Webb. Here’s how it went:

Bush (smirking): “How’s your boy?”

Webb (not smirking): “We want them to come home, Mr. President.”

Bush (maybe not smirking): “I didn’t ask you that. I asked how he’s doing.”

Webb (definitely not smirking): “That’s between me and my boy.”

Conservative columnist George Will was appalled. He said Senator-elect Webb was rude to the President of the United States. He said Bush was only “being sensitive” and Webb was a “boor.”

Well, big whoop! How many parents of servicemen and -women are feeling all warm and fuzzy toward a president who misled their kids into a disaster in the Middle East and is determined to keep them there? Seems to me every family member of everyone serving multiple, extended tours of duty in Iraq has earned the right to say whatever he or she likes about the war. They’ve earned the right–the hard way–to state their own opinions. No matter who it is they’re talking to. Jim Webb should have been praised for his self-control. He could have balled up one powerful fist and made a pre-emptive strike of his own; to defend himself against both Dubyah’s invading his space and his “Commander Guy sensitivity.”

War Games. That’s what it’s all about. It’s just fine to play the War Game when the “pieces”–the toy soldiers–belong to somebody else. When the same group of military families bears all the burden of The Game while the rest of America shops and complains about the cost of a gallon of gasoline.

There’s an answer for that. Look to games to define the rules of fair play for games. We need a draft again. Not the old one. Nothing like it. The old Selective Service was just that: selective. There were easy deferments for those who could afford to stay in college. Lots of Vietnam era privileged guys got a sudden yen for graduate degrees. And you could avoid the draft altogether–like Dubyah, like Dan Quayle–if your daddy had money, power, influence. He just saw to it you got bumped ahead of every other guy on the National Guard waiting list or got you into graduate school, even when your academic record put you mighty low on the list of applicants. Nope. Can’t have that again. We’re going to play fair this time, no matter whose keester winds up in the sling.

Let’s do a shiny new draft. And lets’ do it like, say, the NBA. Like basketball. First round draft picks, second round, third round and so on. No deferments. None. Here’s how it goes:

First round: The kids, nieces, nephews and grandchildren of every member of the Executive Branch of government. The president and vice-president are the first to see their families’ kids off to war.

Second round? Kids from Legislative Branch families.

Third? Department of Defense and war-mongering think tank policy makers’ kids.

Fourth? Hit up big business. Defense contractors, oil company execs…take your pick.

If you love the notion of a war, if you stand to make a profit from it, your kids are gone.

It’ll work. I’m sure of it. There won’t be another Vietnam or Iraq in our future–not with the sons and daughters of the powerful at risk first. You can bet we’ll see some serious talking going on; a veritable renaissance of diplomacy and intelligent, compassionate discourse in solving problems worldwide. No more dishonest, for-profit, pre-emptive rush-to-war. Ever again.

The cost of such a war, our leaders will tell us then, is just too high.