Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

GOLD STAR AWARDS, December 2009

I've been off all this week, so I haven't been blogging or on MMFA. It's funny because I thought, "I have a week off, I can blog almost every day!" Ha-ha. Well... it's hasn't worked out quite like that. I've been so busy, I'm starting to wonder how I manage to get anything done when I'm working! ANYWAY... We're travelling for the holidays, so this will be my last post of the year. I figured we can go out with some GOLD (and other) STAR awards. This group is the first one to include some non "GOLD" stars in it, corresponding to the veterans committee's inductees, and I highly recommend these for a good laugh!

So here you go, corresponding to the Baseball Hall of Fame election of 1939:


The George Sisler GOLD STAR #10: Newshounds

I love their motto: We watch Fox, so you don't have to. Well THANK THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER FOR THAT! Because if I can't find time to blog, I'm sure not going to waste any of what's left watching FOX! They're kind of like an MMFA that doesn't take themselves so seriously, and focuses primarily on Fox. They're not above taking the occasional cheap shot, but they really do skewer all of Rupert's little minions really well. (And for any "C-Students" in the room: Hounds hunt Foxes. Get it? LOL) My only complaint is that you can't seem to leave any comments on any of their items. (If you CAN, my complaint is that it is not immediately obvious how to do this! LOL)



The Willie Keeler GOLD STAR #11: Newscorpse

"The demise of the media is upon us and these pages will serve to both document and eulogize the passing of the late, great 4th estate." (from their homepage) Newscorpse is similar to Newshounds in their tone, but do not focus as narrowly on just Fox. They're also a lot like MMFA in that they are driven as much by a general desire for journalistic integrity as they are any political agenda, possibly more so.



The Eddie Collins GOLD STAR #12: Wikipedia

No intro needed here, I'm sure. True academics may not like it, and I can't say I blame them, but what blogger could survive without it?! An encyclopedia written by the masses may not sound like such a good idea to some, but the staff and moderators do a fantastic job trying to keep the information accurate, marking statements that should be sourced, or marking articles that need to be checked for neutrality, etc... that it has become the foremost collection of information about everything under the sun, anywhere on the net. (It's strengths lie in everything that Conservapedia criticises them for - neutrality, objectivity, etc... I mean... who needs that 'liberal nonsense'?! Oh, they'll get theirs!)



Lou Gehrig GOLD STAR #13: FactCheck.org

If posting a list of 10 liberal that I hate doesn't convince anyone of my objectivity, THIS should. Fact Check has quickly become one of the most respected, and most cited "bullshit detectors" by bloggers and partisans sitting on both sides of the ailse, and even some that are standing out in the hallway. I won't go so far as to say that I've never disagreed with some of their judgement calls - it's inevitable in politics that different people will interpret things differently - but I've never felt they were conservatively biased when calling out Democrats and I've never heard them accused of liberal bias when they've called out Republicans. It is they're objectivity and integrity that has made them such a popular and valuable resource. If the MEDIA had learned that lesson, perhaps we wouldn't need Newscorpse!



The Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourne SILVER STAR #1: FAILBlog

Arguably the funniest collection of blogs on the 'Net. Their main blog (Failblog) contain the most extensive collection of Accidents, Catastrophes, Honest Mistakes, Poor Judgement and Unintentional Hilarity to be fond anywhere. From the main page, there are links to Graphjam, a collection of MS Excel, "Chart Wizard" graphics representing life, popular culture and the occasional politics. Hit "Nostalgia" for Once Upon a Win to be taken back to your childhood toys, games, books and more... regardless of when your childhood was. (Well...mostly for those who were born after 1965. Screw the baby boomers!) There's Engrish Funny, looking at all the unintentionally hilarious ways the English language has been butchered around the world. (Not politically correct in the least, but still frickin' hilarious!) LOLcats and LOLdogs are funny pet pic's with captions. And there's a lot of funny Look-Alikes - though I swear they sometimes get those backwards! Anyway, if you have checked it out yet, DO SO! You'll be instantly hooked.



The "Cap" Anson SILVER STAR #2: Some Grey Bloke

OMG. Bar none the most consistently funny channel on all of YouTube. The link up there is for his channel, here is his latest video. This guy is a RIOT. There more vids of his check out, the funnier they get. They're animated, and are presented as a Vlog being done by a divorced, Internet-addicted, British bloke named Graham, who is at once both a freakin' genius and totally clueless. This is a MUST SEE. This guy does a fantastic job with these. Check them out!



The Buck Ewing SILVER STAR #3: Sore Thumbs

This is one of the web-comics that I regularly read. It's gotten a bit off track lately, kind of in the middle of a series re-boot, but prior that that re-boot was a pretty solid mix of sexy satire and politics. I recommend starting it from the beginning though, to get a sense of the characters. The main character, Cecania is beautiful, liberal and constantly at odds with her bother, Fairbanks, who starts out as an hysterical one-dimension conservative parody, and develops into a deep, richly textured conservative parody. As I said, it's gotten less political of late, but it's still well worth reading. (Hey: It's FREE! Whatdoyawant?!) I'm curious to see where they're going with the re-boot. Hopefully it ends up somewhere near's where it left off, but either way, it's still a riot. (BTW - that first issues came out in March of 2004, so when Cecania's Coulter-witch of a mother says "Our Beloved President" she means BUSH. LOL)

So there we are, and I'm out for the year! I hope everybody has a Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and New Year!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For reference, previous inductees include:
Ty Cobb's GOLD STAR #1: Media Matters for America
Babe Ruth's GOLD STAR #2: The Skeptic's Dictionary
Honus Wagner's GOLD STAR #3: Snopes
Walter Johnson GOLD STAR #4: Armchair Subversive
Christy Mathewson GOLD STAR #5: Humanism by Joe
Cy Young's GOLD STAR #6: The American Prospect
Nap Lajoie's GOLD STAR #7: The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
Tris Speaker's GOLD STAR #8: Rational Wiki
Pete Alexander's GOLD STAR #9: Republican Offenders

Friday, December 18, 2009

Orwellian Language Part Three: Moral Relativism

Sorry - no Friday fun. I really wanted to do this in three parts and my father-in-law was visiting last night, so I couldn't get to it. But the third, and for now, final word (idea really) that I want to deconstruct of it's right-wing baggage is "MORAL RELATIVISM."

"Moral Relativism" is a philosophical school of thought dealing with ethics and social norms. I'll get to the exact definition, but you often here it applied (falsely) to "liberals" (in general, I'm sure SOME might be moral relativists, but it's hardly descriptive of the vast majority) by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Rielly. They do this to try and contrast those dreaded "secular humanists" (Bill-O's other commonly used term for ALL liberals) with the Christian Funny-Mentalists (moral absolutists to a man) that they believe make up 99% of the Republican Party. (It's funny thought, because if the have their way, these zealots WILL be 99% of the Party. The party will be about a third it's present size, but...) LOL

Anyway, according to Wikipedia:

"Moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect universal moral truths. [...] Moral relativists hold that no universal standard exists by which to assess an ethical proposition's truth. Relativistic positions often see moral values as applicable only within certain cultural boundaries (cultural relativism) or in the context of individual preferences (individualist ethical subjectivism). An extreme relativist position might suggest that judging the moral or ethical judgments or acts of another person or group has no meaning [...] In moral relativism there are no absolute, concrete rights and wrongs."

Does this sound like modern American-Left, Liberalism AT ALL to you? It sure doesn't to me! Take a few examples:

Would a liberal believe that it's OK to mutilate the genitals of young girls via female circumcision practices, simply becuase that's what that culture's tradition?

Would a liberal belive that it's OK to exclude girls from recieveing a public education out of respect for that country's traditional values?

Would a liberal view civil war as an acceptable way for a country to solve an internal stuggle, just becuase that country has a cultural history of violent in-fighting?

Would a liberal accept the continued hunting of an animal species on the brink of exticntion, just because it part of a culture's tradition?

Would a liberal, viewing slavery through the context of the days when it was legal, feel that it was any more morally acceptable simply becaue it was legally or widely practiced at the time?

The answer to these and every other example I can think of is a resounding NO. No, the conservtaives only wish to brand us with this label becuase it sounds "icky" to the morally absolute Christian funny-mentalists, who all seem to think that THEIR WAY is the only possible system of beliefs and anyone who disagrees with them on ANYTHING is not only a hethen but someone who must have some profoundly alien way of thinking. (Which, from my POV, means that they actually TRY thinking occasionally!)

Put simply: That's bullshit. (What isn't that comes from the highly religious?)

In my experience ALL AMERICAN'S are pretty much mostly or entirely moral absolutists. We ALL have a sense of what we believe is right and wrong, and NONE of us, Conservativce OR Liberal have much patience for serious human rights abuses, or are inclined to excuse other actions that percieve as immoral, simply on a cultural or circumstantial basis. The DIFFERENCE is that we don't always agree with EACH OTHER on exactly what is right or wrong.

Conservative think Homosexuality is wrong. We think that violating their rights as human beings is.

Conservtaives think abortion is wrong. So do most liberals. We just don't think it's right to take away everyone else's right to choose simply because we have an oppinion. Again: Liberals think that it's wrong to disregard someone's rights! But Conservtaives do too! The disagreement is over WHO'S rights take precident.

Conservataives think the Death Penalty is A-OK. Liberals don't.

etc...

Just the fact that you can frame a generally Conservtaive and Liberal position on every issue under the sun, pretty much concludes that both groups are moral absolutists, and that they only differ in their opinions of what constitutes immoral behavior. Disagreeing with one moral absolutist doesn't make you a Relativist - it's just means that the two of you disagree!

So why do they smear us this way? It's just easier for them. Conservtaives (mainly in the media) do this all the time, because it's easier to smear their opponent, and distort or misrepresent his position than it is to have an honest, objective discussion. (Watch 5 minutes of Fox news at any given time and you'll see exactly what I mean!) Besides: If they allowed liberals to argue on equal footing, then they might actually covince rather a lot of people that they're right - becuase they usually ARE! And we can't have THAT now, can we?

Bottom line: Moral Relativism does not by and large describe many AMERICANS at all. And that's part of what the right wants to do: Make liberals look less "American." It helps them not only by demonizing thier opposition, but in hiding their own, VERY un-American agenda behind a HUGE shield of phony patriotism. Bottom line, disagreeing with a Chritsian Fundy Whack-job doesn't make you a moral relativist, it only means that you're a reasonable, thinking human being. Not buying into ONE system on beliefs does NOT mean that you don't have one!

Two people disagreeing on whether something is right or wrong has nothing to do with Moral Relativism. Two Absolutists can absolutely disagree!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Orwellian Language Part Two: Freedom

I'm not sure what's worse: Hearing the right talk about how their the party of freedom and liberty, or hearing them say that the liberals want to take you're freedom away. With all of that utter nonsense in mind, I give you:


Part Two: Freedom

The next word I want to discuss that the Right has co-opted is “freedom.” (I will no longer refer the Right as “conservatives” to avoid confusion and maintain consistency with Part One.) Now there is one part of the Right that truly loves “freedom.” It’s the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, to avoid conflict with their Religious Funny-mentalist wing, these libertarians have largely given up their dedication to individual liberty, and for the most part they now only really care about corporate freedom, or the freedom from government regulation for large corporations. Individual freedom to the Right is defined fairly narrowly and applies almost exclusively to right to own guns, and first amendments rights only so long as it fits their agenda. IOW – Freedom of Religion when it comes to putting prayer IN schools, in support of THEIR religion, but not as it applies to respecting OTHER religions but keeping prayer OUT of schools and maintaining the Separation of Church and State. They also claim first amendment rights when they post the names and addresses of abortion providers on the Internet, yet at the same time have tried to ban the distribution of information over the net to those trying to GET an abortion, as well as any objective or (god forbid!) pro-choice leaning commentary on the matter. I’m not suggesting that the Left never does this, only that I think their abuses are far less egregious. For my part, I believe the ALCU are the truly principled defenders of freedom in this country, as they have defended the freedom of both the far left and the far right and everyone in between. It is only the Right’s mental disease of religious absolutism that makes them view the ACLU as a decidedly Left-leaning or “liberal” (*their use of the word, not mine!) organization. The fact that the Left in this country largely supports them, despite the ACLU’s defense of many on the Right (Neo-Nazi’s, the Ku Klux Klan, Rush Limbaugh, Oliver North, many Religious Groups and Individuals, just to name a few) to me, only shows that the Left has a far more principled view of freedom than the Right does.

There are two key planks in the Rights platform that undermine it’s claim to be the party of “freedom,” even as they’ve used both in an absurd attempt to bolster it: Religion and States Rights. But before we look at those, let me propose a very simple working definition of “freedom.” It is the ability to do stuff. LAWS (and other prohibitions) can thus ONLY reduce you freedom: They can only reduce the amount of stuff you can do. The libertarian’s viewpoint is that the only laws that are needed are those that determine who’s “freedom,” or “rights” supersede. IOW, it’s very similar to my doctrine of choice that I previously laid out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the two aforementioned Republican pillars: Religion and States Rights.

Religion. Hoo-boy, where to even start? First of all, don’t let ANYONE tell you that “[insert religious icon here] will set you free.” This is bullshit. Big-time, major-league, gold-standard, grade-A, five-star, BULL*SHIT! No two ways about it. Every single religion has it own collection of taboos and prohibition that come with it. So while they may claim you’ll be “free from sin,” in reality, you simply be prohibited to sin. IOW: There is less stuff that you will be allowed to do, above and beyond what the law already restricts. Now… It can be argued that this is a “better” or “more moral” way to live, and that’s fine – you are “free” to decide that for yourself. But when religion intermingles with government, the only result will be MORE prohibitions, MORE laws, LESS stuff you can do. As for the idea that the Left will take away your religious freedom? That’s nonsense. An outright lie in fact. The Left only wishes for the separation of church and state, so as any person can belong to any religion they want, as well as be free from the prohibitions of any religion they do not belong to – even if, or especially if, they choose to belong to none. They ONLY way you can have freedom of religion is to have freedom from religion. And the complete separation of church and state is the only way you can achieve that. Enough has been written about that, so I’m just going to leave it there. If you can't accept that at this point in human history, then you have been brainwashed by religion.

Now… supporting “states rights” sounds like a pro-freedom agenda no? After all “rights” is just another way of saying “freedom” right? Bill of “Rights,” “Freedom” of Speech, Religion, Press, etc… (Sidetracking for a second, it sure make you wander how ‘pro-freedom’ the right can be when you hear conservatives arguing against the government (or the judiciary) “making up new rights.” Well… what’s wrong with that?! New rights = more freedom, no? But I digress…) But let's look at what States can do, and have done with their ‘rights.’ Medical Marijuana laws not withstanding, a State cannot make anything or any activity legal that the Federal Government has deemed illegal. (And if they think mary-jane has been legalized, the fact is that federal agents can still come in at any time and arrest anyone they want to for both dealing and possessing marijuana. They don’t, largely because they are supporting states rights in one of the very few instances in which they increase our freedom, but they still reserve the right to do so! I imagine the Fed won’t however since it might lead to a Supreme Court case that would likely (1) erode the power of the fed (good for the Right, as long as they control the State Houses, and remain in the Minority in Congress) but also (2) lead to broader legalization of marijuana, which they don’t want.) But with that lone exception, all a State can do with it’s power is to pass MORE laws: IOW – further reduce the amount of stuff we can do beyond what the federal government already prohibits.

Now I’m all for states managing their own fiscal affairs – levying taxes as they see fit, managing their public services, etc… But when it comes to LAWS, what kind of useful laws do states ever really pass? You can’t buy liquor on Sunday before noon. (Michigan.) You can’t buy alcohol, including Beer and Wine, in a supermarket, only in a state-licensed liquor store (Massachusetts); You can only buy liquor, excluding beer and wine, in a STATE-OPERATED, “ABC” Store (Virginia – a ‘red’ state taking a rather ‘communist’ approach, no?); You can only stock liquor in tiny “airplane” bottles (North Carolina, until recently); You can’t buy liquor on a Sunday at all (Connecticut – what a boon for neighboring New York on Sundays, huh?). This is just one example, but its illustrates fairly well what States do with their rights: PASS REALLY STUPID, POINTLESS LAWS! (The so-called "BLUE-LAWS" were a PRIME example, as was segregation... but I digress.)

Let me put it a different way… If something is not bad enough to be made illegal everywhere (murder, theft, rape, etc…) then why should it be illegal ANYWHERE?! And LOCAL laws get even worse! Now you have prohibitions on top of State Laws AND Federal Laws! Dry counties?! WTF?! If you don’t want to drink that’s fine, by where does 51% of a county get off telling the other 49% that they can’t?! And yet the Right, who claim to be all about “freedom” LOVE their states rights… except, you know… in the case of medical marijuana, when states have used their rights to actually increase our freedom. But restricting abortion, restricting alcohol consumption, restricting religious freedom (whenever a prayer-in-school or am intelligent design bill comes up, it’s ALWAYS at the state or local level!), restricting access or information about contraception or family planning, even restricting GAY MARRIAGE!

Oh, and how they've they criticized the states that allow it! But then they make a “states rights” argument for why the federal government shouldn't compel states to recognize it! WTF?! Hypocrisy anyone?! The rights of two men or two women to marry takes nothing away from anybody else. This is NOT the case of two people or groups with mutually exclusive rights here. This is about one group imposing their religious views on another. As a strait, (hypothetically) Christian Male, I can still marry, or remain single as I choose. I am free to do as I wish – which would not include marrying a man, as that would be prohibited by the church I chose to belong to. That situation does not change when two other men marry. My rights are not diminished in any way! This only extends increased freedom to them, as well as to me (though I would likely continue to choose not to exercise that freedom.)



Gun Ownership is about the only area that the Right supports states rights in an area that DOES increase our freedom. For the record, I’m OK with this. I like the fact that the decision of whether or not I own a gun is mine and mine alone. I DON’T own a gun. I DESPISE guns and I feel that a gun is a coward’s weapon… But I cherish that the choice is MINE.

BTW… Here are my weapons of choice: (LOL)

(And yes, they work.)

So again… You can follow a pro-religion political agenda, and sing all the praises of ‘states rights,’ that’s fine. But THIS “liberal” is NOT going to let you do that and then get away with any claims about protecting personal liberty.

For that? I’ll stick with the ACLU.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Orwellian Language Part One: Conservative

This is the first of three piece I want to do on our English language. As appalling as I feel the Republican's and the Right's political and social agenda is, and how much I feel it would butcher all things holy and American, it pales in comparison to what the Right in this country has done to our LANGUAGE in order to sell their tripe to the American people. Channelling one of my three heroes, George Carlin, for a moment, it appals me how they have taken various words and absolutely stripped them of any and all meaning, in a effort to apply positive sounding words to themselves and negative sounding words to their opponents. It the worst kind of euphemistic abuse of our language. So, here we go:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part One: Conservative

The first word that the right in this country absolutely had to hijack was “conservative.” They did this because the word seems to suggest a certain amount of moderation, and a reasoned, rational approach – as opposed to “radical” which they sought to apply to all things liberal, and “reactionary” which is a far more accurate way to describe them.

First of all, let’s take a look at the word “conservative” as we understand it today. It has, along with "liberal" been unfortunately loaded with a lot of unnecessary political baggage meant to described the positions that one with that label is supposed to hold: anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-labor, anti-regulation, low-taxes, hawkish on defense… The modern conservative movement is an awkward mix of libertarians and religious funny-mentalists at home (two group with very much mutually exclusive social agendas, BTW) and a hypocritical mix of libertarians, who say that the gov’t should stay the hell out of the lives of Americans, and Hawks, who think our gov’t needs to control, as much possible, the lives of every non-American abroad. (And God forbid we ever listen to any other country, even our allies, and even when it’s in our own interest to do so! We’re AMERICA dammit! And we know best!) OK, this is admittedly a caricature, but I submit that it’s a fairly accurate one: The beliefs that I present in a mocking fashion are nonetheless sacred to most in this group!

But it wasn’t always this way.

The was a time when BOTH parties has conservative and liberal wings. At one point, prominent Republicans such as Teddy Roosevelt belongs to the “progressive” wing of the party. (And “progressive,” of course, is a word that modern liberals have attempted to re-brand themselves under!) It was the conservative Democrats who regularly delivered almost every state south of the Mason-Dixon line, from Texas to Florida to the Democrats every year from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era. (Since 1964, however, that trend has obviously changed, as conservative Democrats became Republicans!) Likewise, it was the Liberal (meaning libertarian) Republicans who consistently delivered the Northern Cities and States to the Republicans. (And again, since 1964 the East Coast, from Maryland on up, has trended consistently Democratic, as the same liberal Republicans became Democrats (though admittedly other demographic factors and changes were in play as well.) But this trend has been going on since 1964 for the Republicans and the Right to monopolize the word “conservative.” In the late 1960’s, this may have made sense, linguistically. Beyond that, the term has had to be perverted from it’s philosophical meaning to continue to fit their political agenda.

If you strip the word of it’s political implications, one possible definition of philosophical or social conservatism might be “the desire to maintain the status quot" or "to minimize the deviation from the status quot.” Liberal, to contrast the two, would be one who seeks something very different form the status quot, one who seeks to change the way things are. Taken this way, the term really means “moderate” and, since BOTH parties have rather a few changes they’d like to make, most of both the Democrats and Republicans could then be accurately described as “liberals” – they would just be spilt into left-wing and right-wing liberals, while the "conservatives" would the be the centrists in both parties, and would agree on many positions with each other, as well as differ from the rest of their party on many issues as well. Over the years, in order to advance their agenda, each party has made efforts to reign in (or kick out) most of these “conservative” members. Ironically however, if centrism and party in-fighting is any indication, it would seem that the Republicans have been more effective at doing this: They are the party of Right Wings “liberals” and between the defection of Arlen Specter to the out come of the NY-23 congressional election in 2009, they are showing diminished patience for these “conservatives.” The Democrats, on the other hand, between the Blue Dogs and the Republican defectors have shown far more of a big-tent mentality and thus far more "conservative" cred.

Now, brace yourself, because it will surprise many of you to hear me say this… There is rather a bit of rational wisdom in this type of philosophical conservatism! Here are two ways to view it, coming from diametrically opposed points of view, that both support this conclusion:

1) From a religious or intelligent design standpoint, one can argue that things are they way they are because this is how God intended them to be. And who are we to claim that we know better than God? So… proceed with caution! (IOW: conservatively.)
2) From a Darwinian standpoint, at any given time, things have arrived at their current state through the ongoing struggle and survival of the fittest. The current species, economic and business models and system of governance and politics all came about through years of struggle and competition in which only the best would win at every given stage and thus, if not perfect, the current status quot would be at least optimized, based on initial conditions and everyone’s competing ideas thus far. So, again, proceed with caution, or IOW: act conservatively.

In both instances, if one wants to act “liberally” (whether from the Right or Left) they’d better have a darned good reason for doing so, and be able to clearly identify WHY the current state of affairs resembles neither a divine vision, nor a Darwinian optimization. The modern liberal, when arguing economic matters, might point out that the current state of affairs in most industries in NOT the result of the free market, nor of competition, but rather the result of HUGE corporations, now inefficient, bur flush with cash from prior but no longer sustainable successes, managing to stifle competition, and the complicity of the federal government in letting huge companies merge, creating fewer companies with more individual power – hardly the vision of free market competition! So their agenda, with includes increased gov’t regulation of industry and more power to labor groups, could be described as liberal (changing the status quot) and yet, still be justified from the “conservative” perspective since most industry giants now use their resources to act more to protect their own survival (to protect themselves from having to compete) than for any optimization of the society overall. The modern conservative (what I’m would call a “right-wing liberal”) justifies their agenda by trying to recapture “divine vision” that existed at some point but, for whatever reason, have been pushed aside.

Perhaps the most clear example of how the language has shifted might be shown in the Right’s (and Left’s) positions on Abortion. The status quot is that Abortion is legal, with some restrictions, mostly involving minors. It does not receive direct federal funding and is covered by many, but not all, insurance plans. THAT’S the status quot. Pro-Choice versus Pro-Life describes which way someone would like to see the laws changed and “conservative” versus “liberal” would describe how MUCH they’d like to see the laws changed. Someone who WANTS to see all restrictions listed, and use federal money to subsidize abortions would be described as a “pro-choice liberal.” Someone who wants to see some restrictions enacted, but still wants to protect core abortion rights (as I’ve described in my position piece on Abortion) would then be described as a “pro-life conservative.” (Who’d a thunk I’d ever be described thus?) The Right's actual (or so-called) pro-life agenda of eventually banning ALL abortions, could then only be described as “pro-life liberal.” You see: There is nothing inherent to either of the word “conservative” or “liberal” that describes how you should feel about ABORTION. They refer only to the way things are, and whether you want no, or only minor changes, or large, sweeping changes. Only PRIOR to the Roe v. Wade decision would “liberal” necessarily suggest a pro-choice stance, since that would have been a significant change from the status quot. POST Roe, the only "conservative" positions would be those that keep the law as it is, but try to apply the relatively easy to agree upon “middle ground” as, for example, I proposed doing (See? There IS some Wisdom in conservatism! LOL) -OR- to make relatively minor relaxations of the current restrictions, and make a few, narrow exception to the Hyde act. (That would be a Pro-Choice Conservative position, which practically IS the status quot.)

But there are two ways thing can change: They can change… and they can change back! And here is where we have two divisions within the “liberal” philosophy. You’ve got the “Progressives” who are forward looking, and try to fix the errors of history that remain with us through unlucky chance, and “Reactionaries” who look to the past with a sense of envy, a sort of longing for an idealized world that they perceived was lost. (A world, BTW, that one can argue never really existed, or is being idealized, but we’ll save deconstructing the good ol' days for another post!) One can see easily where the religious fervor current gripping the Right would fit it nicely with this world view – paradise lost but looking to be regained and all that. Given that, it is clear that we have plenty of both “Liberal / Progressives” as well as “Left Wing Conservatives” in the Democratic Party, while the Republicans are comprised of “Liberal / Reactionaries” and an ever shrinking number of “Right-Wing Conservatives.”

Now... I do realize that the word “conservative” is no longer used this way, but the purpose here is to demonstrate how the Right is distorting our language to their own ends. I realized that, when I was growing up, and I thought of myself as “conservative,” I was taking the classic definition; that of being a moderate. And to this day I remain a moderate. A decidedly LEFT-WING moderate, but a moderate none the less. (Anyone who doubts this can look at my list of 10 most hated liberals!) My viewpoint of “conservatism,” relative to the status quot, might be best demonstrated in my health care plan: Rather than reinvent the entire system, I seek to use the parts that WORK from within the current system (insurance companies managing cost, market forces, risk pooling) and only seek to change the parts that don’t (non-mandatory participation, refusal of coverage, preexisting condition, lack of choice, etc…) In my professional life, I don’t reinvent the wheel if I don’t absolutely have to – better to find an off the shelf solution that’s already been tested, than to incur all the development costs of creating a new one!

And THAT to me is conservatism. It has nothing to do with Right vs. Left, Religion vs. Secularism, or Republican vs. Democrat. It has to do with the preservation of the status quot vs. either Progressive influence or Reactionary influence. (And for the record I was almost ALWAYS side with the Progressives over the Reactionaries – thus my strongly Democratic voting record of late!)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Fun & Transgenderism revisisted

I spotted this passing by the IT dept today. I almost died...




BTW... if any of you DON'T GET THE JOKE HERE, please let me know and I'll explain in my next post. Yeah... it WILL mean admitting that you don't get it, but if no one says anything, I'll assume that you're all clever enough to figure it out.

Which... I don't know... might suggest that you're all good liberals and not any of those bad conservatives? Does that correlate? I jest. I'm refering to the fun I had frsutrating the hell out of three conservatives over on MediaMatters yesterday and today. Here's the link. It was such a blast! Seriously, I LIVE for this stuff. This is what I was talking about a few posts ago when I THANKED these guys. What a blast. Makes me feel ALIVE!

Yeah... they REALLY DIDN'T like the implication that pedophiles seem to all be Republicans. Oh well. I just go where the evidence takes me. If they were so sure that there was no relationship between pedophilia and conservatism, they really should have been able to produce even a tiny list of counter-examples.

Oh well, enough of THAT.

I want to revisit my last post RE transgenderism. I gave a lot of thought to what David in NYC posted, and he's absolutely right. The same tired arguments that were once used to exclude gays, blacks, jews, and many others, are simply wrong-minded and not worth considering. To spell it out, I realize that you can't wait for society to DECIDE when they're confortable with a given sub-group and that they deserve equal rights, because if that group is never allowed into the mainstream, society will NEVER be comfortable with them. That why things like civil right HAD to be legislated. And once they were, racism began to disappear. (Or at least diminish and evolve.) It exsisted unchanged for thousands of years, and yet every generation since the 1960's (including the one that came of age in that time) has grown up LESS bigoted than there parents. And racial justice no doubt lent it's momentum to the rethinking of gender equality, and helped out the women's rights movement. THAT momentum kept on rolling and things like Atheism, Homosexuality, different Religions, etc... came to be accepted as well. Although I still believe that Gay Marriage will HAVE to be federally mandated, and that it SHOULD BE. The Right will bitch a ton at first, but over time it will be just like civil rights: The sky won't fall, and everyone will get along... eventually. ;)

So back to TRANSGENDERISM. Again, I reiterate: I have nothing against any transgendered PEOPLE. This is not about whether it's right or wrong. It does not harm, so it CAN'T be wrong. Period. There's no victims here, except the TG'd victim of society's prejudice. So I hope we're all on the same page there.

My struggle now is in trying to figure why I STILL think that transgenerdism is different from homosexuality in my mind; why I stop short on one, yet completely accept the other. OK, I accept both... But in the case of homosexuality, I do so naturally and unequivcolly and can't even figure out what everyone's problem is! But with transgenderism, my acceptence is more a consious decision than my natural inclintaion... well... that's not quite right... The issue is that I can SEE homosexual issues from their POV. I can totally get inside their stylish shoes (sorry!) and relate. With transgendered people... I just can't relate. I can't seem to see this from their perspective. And that frustrates the hell out of me! It's usually something I do as a matter of course, but... I don't know! Something about it just makes me think about it... differently.

And I THINK I may have figured out what/why. Maybe one of the more elightened readers out there can reconcile this for me...

Accepting one's own homosexuality is about accepting WHO THEY ARE. It is a total acceptance of one's self.

Transgenderism, OTOH, involves a rejection of at least some part of yourself, no matter WHICH WAY you decide to take it. Either you reject who you are physically, or you reject who you are... mentally? Spiritually? Not sure what the right term is there, but one way or the other, you are chosing to NOT ACCEPT some part of yourself. And THAT'S the part I can't wrap my head around.

And I'm familir with the idea tha there's more to gender than what's between your legs. Yeah: I get that. I accept it. But XX versus XY chromasones and indoor vs. outdoor plumbling still have SOMETHING to do with it, no? So whether you try to embrace your birth gender (if that's the right term) or decide to embrace your trans-gender... well... either way you're forced to reject some part of who you are!

And... that sucks!

And THAT'S the part that I don't get. ACCEPTING one's self... that I'm all about. I can totally relate to that. But deciding what to accept and what to throw out? Wow. I can't even imagine what that must be like. And thus: I can't see the world from their POV. NOt directly anyway, only though clumsy paralells and metaphors.

That doesn't justify bigotry, discrimination, etc... and I'm not saying it does. I'm justing trying to understand something here that is completely foreign to me. Something I cannot relate to in the first person. Shoes I simply have not figured out how to put myself into.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to make ANY group appear sympathetic: Religious opposition

Let me start off by saying that I am unequivocally for gay rights, and what so many on the Right view with such revulsion, I am simply inclined to view with a feeling of supreme indifference. Although I am not gay myself there is simply nothing in there whole "insidious agenda" that would elicit more than a shoulder shrug from me. Marriage? Are we seriously still talking about this? LET 'EM MARRY ALREADY! That's a no-brainer. Hate Crimes Protection? DUH! They're VICTIMS of HATE CRIME, so again... ARE WE SERIOUSLY STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS? Protection form discrimination in jobs, education, child raising, etc... Seriously? WTF? Someone asking that they be treated like everybody else will simply never be viewed as a radical agenda by your truly. About the only issue I'd stop short on is that I'd still allow private adoption services (church based, or otherwise) to favor heterosexual couples in granting adoptions. And the ONLY REASON I even go that far has nothing at all to do with religion or with any 'damage' that would be done to the child; which has been shown to be bunk anyway! It's simply a question of fairness: The hetero couple generally had no idea that they are infertile when they got together. The homosexual couples OTOH DID know from the start that they could not conceive. SO, from that perspective, one is making an informed choice while the other is a victim of unknown circumstances. And again: I do support striking down the general prohibition of gays adopting children.

So... why am I tooting my horn about teh gay here? Well... I wanted to buff up my liberal cred a little before expressing some reservations about another sexual minority facing the same treatment, and basically asking for the same thing: TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE.

Now again, right off the bat, let me say unequivocally that I don't personally have any misgivings about this particular group. I've never known a transgendered person personally, but have had some online friends over the years who were. Why I differentiate my feelings between the two groups is two-fold. First off all: I can absolutely relate the the idea of homosexuality simply by recognizing that you just can't account for taste, or for who you fall in love with. Your only 'choice' in the matter is whether to embrace it or deny yourself. And while I've never had the difficult personal choice of whether or not to pursue a same-sex relationship, I CAN tell you that my life WOULD be a whole lot easier if I didn't have a thing for RED-HEADS. Nothin' but trouble those auburn dames! But whatever... as long as you're not in love with the same person as I am? I really couldn't care less WHO it is.

But it is infinitely harder form me to reconcile, within my own mind, the idea that I could only be happy if my gender were different. I DO recognize that there are many people who feel this way! But it's not a paradigm that I can really understand, from my own perspective. The closest I can come is to understanding this, is from the POV of rejecting traditional gender ROLES. Which both me and the red-haired tomboy I married both most definitely do. But that's a problematic and incomplete perspective to view this from, because transgenderism HAS to be about more that just the ROLE expected by a given gender, otherwise it wouldn't be just becoming a mainstream issue at a time in history when traditional gender roles are pretty much going by the wayside faster than ever before. No matter how I look at it, I know that there's something there that I just don't understand. And that makes it hard for me to really form an opinion or a position on these issues: When I try to put myself in each person's shoes, I can only really personally relate to (or understand) those standing in their way.

Some examples:

1) Dressing for work / the office. OK... YOU can tell me that, for example, "male" is not "your identity" and I'll believe you. But I can't accept employment law that compels an employer to let you come to work that way. THEY'RE JUST CLOTHES! I don't like wearing ties - that's definitely not my identity, a tie-wearing guy! But I still had to wear one (or quit) on each of my first two "real jobs" out of college! "Golfer" is about as far as you can from my identity as you can get while still remaining a white male, and yet I still have to dress like one to go to work. Or... I can quit. (Not in this job market!)

2) Non-Discrimination for Employment: (continued from above) Let's say I own a company. And I need to hire a salesman. Now, an otherwise qualified applicant that pings my admittedly weak 'gadar' a little, has no reason to expect this to be counted against them. Most people in this country have come to accept that gays are here, and no different form anyone else, and it is a precious few customers indeed that would walk away from a sale, simply because they were talking to a seemingly gay salesman. But... how can I have any idea how my customers will react to a man in a dress, or a woman who has gone beyond simply wearing a man's suit, but is trying to pass herself off as a man? I have to believe that most customers would be rather put of by that. (OK, maybe not if the illusion is perfect, but let's face it: it usually ain't!) And seeing as how my family, and my other employers depend on my company's revenue for their livelihoods how can I be reasonably expected to jeopardize that?

3) Identity: (continued from above) How you want to live on your own time is your own business. But EVERYONE is expected to behave a certain way at work. You are far from the only people that can't "be themselves." Do you think can be my liberal self, telling off all of my Hard-Right, Conservative, Republican bosses every time I hear them bitching about "Socialism," or whatever, under Obama? HELLS NO. Now I could win the argument - but I'd be sabotaging my career. That might not be right but it IS the world we ALL live in. Who I am at home, or online, is NOT who I am at work. At work, I'm a GOOD ENGINEER. Period. That is my identity AT WORK. It merely one aspect of who I am outside of work. (Those of you who know a few engineers probably already know that we never stop being engineers entirely!)

4) Bathrooms: I laugh a bit about this, because this is an issue that I could personally care less about. And lets face it: The controversey is not realy about Women going into the Mens room. Most men could care less. This is about MEN going into the LADIES room. Women are just all-around neurotic when it comes to the bathroom. I'm not judgin', BTW. I mean, whatever. Not really my place to say one way of the other, but this kind of thing FREAKS A LOT OF THEM OUT. And I'd love to say "just go in the men's room forfucksake!" Except that I know that in some places, they're at great risk of getting personally assaulted doing that. And I don't condone, or even understand, THAT kind of behavior at all, so I can sympathize with the TG's here, but I don't really have any good ideas to offer... At least none that come close to satisfying anyone.

Now... What I HOPE I conveying here is the impression that I am sympathetic to the individuals, but that it is an issue that I just have a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about. I don't think they're doing any harm at all, but at the same time, I think that the opposition from, say, employers or the other occupants of the ladies room, are also PERFECTLY REASONABLE, even if I don't necessarily share those same feelings myself. I may not agree wit them, but I do UNDERSTAND. And, as I said when I started, transgenderism is NOT something I truly understand.

There is one other thing... Homosexuality is no longer recognised as a mental disorder by any legitimate psychiatrist/psychologist, and hasn't been for ove 35 years now. "Gender Dismorphic Disorder" however (I believe that's the official term) IS still on the books. And the treatments prescribed are amazingly dichotic: Some advise "therapy to get the person to accept their natural/birth gender" while others focus on "therapy (and drugs, etc...) to help them embrace and transition to their chosen gender identity." Obviously either is about helping the person accept themselves, deal with depression, self-esteem, etc... but there's still an obvious split about WHICH 'self' it is the better one for them to accept. And yeah... that can depend on the individual, of course, but it could also depend, rightly or wrongly, on the political, religious or philosophical biases of the psych! So, I would say that I'm far from the only one who's 100% settled on homosexuality and yet still very much confused about transgenderism.

But when I come across stuff like THIS, or [the original article that inspired this that I now cannot find!] I am confronted with so much ignorance, hatred and bigotry (all tied to "traditional values" which is thinlky veiled code for "evangelical Christianity" and/or "Christian fundamentalism") that I am almost immediately inclined to give the transgendered community ANYTHING they want legislatively, just to stick it to those abominable bible-humpers.

As I said before: It is not an issue I understand very well. I'm man enough to admit that. (Pun intended.) But I know this for sure: These people are HUMAN BEINGS. And no human being deserves to be judged, or discriminated against on the basis of who they are, or how they appear. And I'm REALLY getting sick and tired of the argument that accepting homosexuality and/or transgenderism is somehow akin to condoning pedophilia. Remember: There's no crime without a victim. Pedophilia has a VICTIM - someone who has been denied their choice. But these people have never hurt anyone. And there is NEVER ANYTHING WRONG with teaching children not to hate or fear or (for Christ's sake) physically attack people that are not exactly like them or that the don't understand. That's called: COMMON SENSE, BASIC DECENCY AND THE ONLY ROAD TO PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE. So they can cram this "protect the children" bullshit. The only children being harmed here are the transgendered ones being attacked by schoolyard bullies who learned bigotry, fear and loathing from their parents as some kind of "family value."

Bottom line: The conservatives don't even want to understand this, either as a population of human beings or as a medical phenomenon. All they want to do is to justify their desperate clinging to medieval superstition. And THAT'S not an agenda I can EVER support.


-------------------------------------------------------------------

And for the record? You can add Chris Crocker to my list of 10 Liberals that I hate. (Give him Alan Colmes' spot!) Far from being a fitting spokesman for transgendered youth or the LGBT community, I find him to be an obnoxious, vulgar, drama-queen and little more than a whiny, publicity whore. In short, he makes the list for the same reason as anyone else on it: He does far more harm than good when it comes to fostering the public's understanding of these issues.

On a different note...
Here's a somewhat amusing web-comic with a largely transgendered cast. I'm not using it as a source of information or anything, but it IS an interesting story never-the-less.

Final thing: Should any transgendered people stumble accross this, and would be interested in educating a relatively open minded person, please contact me. My understanding may be lacking, but my desire to understand is genuine!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How stupid are these people?



LOL, I couldn't resist!

Is she still a serious contender for 2012? Seriously? She hurt McCain! She's as divisive a George W. Bush, and yet somehow even stupider! I read recently that Dick Cheney is being considered for 2012. I'd LOVE that. Obama versus Cheney. It won't be Reagan-Mondale, but Obama would mop the floor with him. And Sarah Palin? Are you kidding?! Can you imagine the debates? He'd tear her apart! But who else do they have? Mike "I let Maurice Clemmons out of prison early" Huckabee? Oh, if there is a God HE will be somewhere on the ticket... And we'll "Willie Horton" the stuffing out him! (That'd be fun, huh?) Mitt Romney? Who was pro-choice before he was pro-life? For Gay rights before he was against them? Good like selling HIM to the bible-humpers down south! Newt Gingrich? (See "Dick Cheney!") Cheney and Gingrich are among the most depsised politicians in America. Is ANYONE here concerned about 2012? Seriously? I'm only concerned about Congressional seats. And even there, the 'Pubs could hardly make a dent in the off-year. They'll gain some in the Mid's, the opposition party always does, but I predict that the gains for them will be small. And yet, somehow Fox will still trumpet how a 2-seat gains in the house represents a "mandate against Obama" or some nonsense like that!

But anyway, like the title suggested... HOW STUPID ARE THESE PEOPLE?!

Here a few examples that should make you laugh. (Or throw up.)

Here a bit about that douchebag Andrew Shafly over at Conservapedia, re-writing the Bible. A few gems from that waste of donor organs...

"Professors are the most liberal group of people in the world, and it's professors who are doing the popular modern translations of the Bible,"

LOL. Yeah Professors... who also happen to be the smartest, most well-infomred people in the world as well. Curse that darned "research" and "inquiry" and "analysis" and "evidence." What liberal codswallop!

"The phrase 'theological conservative' does not mean that someone is politically conservative," said Schlafly.

This is a lie. There may be not causality, but the fact is the correlation is 1-to-1, 100%. because it only Conservatives like Shitfly who use the Bible to defend their positions (because, it's not like more American concepts like FREEDOM or LIBERTY or even LIMITED GOVERNMENT will work!) and since Liberals are generally smarter and for more prone to resort to LOGIC and REASON, it is only Conservatoive like Shitfly that look foolish when the Bible is turned against him.

The inablity to tolertate any questioning of your beliefs is a common, almost universal, mental illness among Conservatives, and Shitfly is ehxibit numero uno in that.

Here another one, about the utter failure of Glenn Beck movie in every major market. It did well in the rural south, that Mecca of fine America culture, but flopped in New York, Boston and D.C. (Big surprise, huh?)

Now, HOW STUPID is Glenn Beck? How about the TICKET PRICE?: He charged TWENTY DOLLARS PER TICKET! How out-of-touch with middle America do you have to be to charge DOUBLE the price that makes more and more Americans switch to Netflix every year? It must be nice to make so much money that $20 to see a crappy movie seems like a reasonable price!

I really wish the Democrats would hire some more sleazy campaign managers. They really need to drive home just how out of touch the Righties are. They calime to be "populists" but THEY'RE the real "elitists."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday fun, plus: Let's invade Syria! (Just kidding)

Friday Fun: I LOVE this:



Now, on to politics! LOL

In my last post, in unequivocal favor of President Obama sending 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan, unveiling his new strategy, and setting a timetable for withdrawal, I mentioned that I was against the Iraq War from the start. I was; and I always have been. Even after Colin Powell’s UN speech, when I came the closest to supporting it, I was still more inclined to think, “Saddam’s let the inspectors back in, so let them do their jobs now!”

Also, you know something stinks when the reason for it keeps changing. First it was about 9/11. But there wasn’t even fraudulent evidence to back that up. Then it was about WMD’s, which did have some fraudulent evidence backing it up. And once that was all discovered for the codswallop that it was, Iraq was supposed to be about the War on Terror and spreading democracy in the Middle East... something that could have been accomplished just as well FROM AFGHANISTAN!

And, to earn me some conservative / hawk cred, my opposition was not based on legally or morality or international treaty or anything like that. As a freedom loving, pro-human-rights liberal, I am loath to be put in the position of DEFENDING a demonic scumbag like Saddam Hussein on principle. As far as his sovereign rights go? I personally wish the international community would do more to take down leaders like Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Ayatollah Khamenei, Kim Jong Il, Robert Mugabe, General Than Shwe, etc… Now: I know why they don’t! But at some point a government becomes so cruel, so antithetical to basic human rights that I believe they lose the right to this otherwise principled protection of their sovereignty.

So why did I oppose the war? Not for any of my liberal sensibilities but rather because, relative to the War of Terror, it made absolutely no sense from a tactical standpoint! Iraq was the most secular country in the entire region! It’s government had a history of taking a hard line against the very radical Islamic groups most associated with terrorism. And the biggest point: all of their WMD’s were GONE. (Although we were utterly stupid to force him to prove that since for years, their fear of him and those weapons kept IRAN in check!) As much as I hated the man, it would have made far more sense to prop him up, lift the sanctions, work out a treaty so that we can use his air space, and continue to use him to KEEP IRAN IN CHECK while we PROSECUTE THE WAR ON TERROR.

But there’s far more to demonstrate how absolutely incompetent Bush and his military planners were. Rather than do as I outlined above, they got themselves stuck in an expensive quagmire that quickly consumed almost all of the goodwill that Bush had,both from the international community and here at home. (And it’s a lot harder to fight terrorists when countries who you need to share their intelligence with you don’t like you very much!) And, at the end of the day, dismantling Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan would have been enough. Replacing them with a secure, stable, secular, democratic government and wiping out every last remnant of Islamic Power, would have been a very effective deterrent for any other country that we would then need to deal with. If they knew we meant business, and we had the precedent of the Amanita that I’ve described and that George W. Bush no doubt envisioned, but failed to achieve, even the most hard-line country might be willing to negotiate and deal rather than face the extinction of their system of government and backwards way of life.


But “Bush” and “Hussein” may as well be "Cats" and "Dogs." So, after 9/11, Saddam Hussein’s fate was as certain as Bush’s ineptitude. (I always wondered how much Hussein hated Bin Laden for 9/11. He HAD to know the handwriting was on the wall!) But here’s the rub: Even though it was completely unnecessary and tactically unwise to open a second front in the war, if you’re hell-bent of invading someone else, I still fail to see how Iraq would rank as your first choice! If, back in 2003, you felt that we absolute MUST invade another country? Let me offer the same one that I did even back then:

SYRIA.

Sounds odd, perhaps. But that’s only because the media hasn’t spent the last year trying to convince you it’s a good idea. Without the media’s ridiculous cheerleading for the War in Iraq, congressional Democrats might have had the spine to vote against it unanimously, and Bush might never have even been authorized to go there. Also, John Kerry would have won re-election last year. But no matter how you look at it, it just would have made so much more sense to invade SYRIA:

1) Tactical: Smaller Country, easier to invade. (Less Blood / Treasure.)
2) Justification: HAS Chemical Weapons/WMD’s and linke to terrorsim, where Iraq didn’t.
3) Potential Future Threat: Has at least a civilian nuclear power program, which is more that Iraq does.
4) Religion: Is far more cozy, in fact is RUN BY, Radical Islamists – the very people that we were fighting. Saddam took a hard line AGAINST those same people! Thus knocking out that gov’t would weaken the Radicals influence, whilst getting rid of Saddam, if anything, strengthened it.
5) Terrorism: Syria sponsors terrorism, including attacks on U.S. forces. Iraq did not. Thus groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, who really on Syrian support, would be weakened, whereas Al Qaeda actually GREW, though admittedly only for a short time.
6) Iran: Syria is a strong ALLY of Iran – out biggest enemy in the region. So taking out their gov’t would WEAKEN Iran. Iraq, on the other hand, was Iran’s biggest ENEMY, and historically was used as a counterbalance to their power. Toppling Saddam instead strengthened our chief ENEMY, Iran.
7) Balance of Power: Having a puppet government in Syria would strengthen our ally, Israel and create another potentially very strong Ally in Lebanon. Having all these allies, stretching from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, would make it easier for us to negotiate with the Palestinians.
8) Finally: Iran would not be able to come to Syria’s aid, so the conflict would not be likely to broaden, if we had Saddam, continuing to bluff about WMD’s, keeping Iran in check. Other Islamic countries considering an alliance with Iran might think twice after seeing this.

Now, I hope it’s obvious to everyone that I’m not advocating an invasion of Syria! This whole exercise is merely meant to show how utterly stupid it was to invade Iraq. No matter how you look at it, there was nothing we could accomplish in Iraq that we couldn’t have done in Afghanistan and if you are hell-bent on invading an other country unnecessarily, Syria would have been a far better choice, even if they didn’t have a comic-book villain, like Saddam, to use as a poster boy to market the war.

I originally came up with that strategy just before the Iraq War started. Several Conservatives that I shared this with at the time were surprised and impressed that an admitted liberal and anti-Iraq War advocate would have come up with that. I countered that they should be even more dismayed that a simple, independent blogger and admitted liberal had conceived a far superior war strategy than those that they had trusted to RUN THE WAR.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Afghanistan is not Iraq. Afghanistan is not Vietnam.

I am very happy to hear that President Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. I am very happy to hear that he will begin to draw those troops down in July of 2011. I am very happy to hear that he has clearly defined goals that are not open ended, and do not exceed what we need to accomplish to insure our security. I am glad to heat that he has an exit strategy. I am glad about every word of his recent speech at West Point. Once again, my President, Barack Hussein Obama, has shown a clarity of thought and understanding that reinforces my own fervent belief that we finally had a truly great individual seeking the office, and that we absolutely elected the right guy.

I say all of this as someone who was 100% percent opposed to the War in Iraq from the start, after being 100% behind the War in Afghanistan from the start. I was neutral on President Bush’s the troop surge in Iraq. While I was against the war in general, as far as strategy and tactics go, I recognized at the time that this might be needed and that staying the course may have done more harm than good. Also, much the same as now, that surge came with a new strategy and new approach. I was cynical about that at the time, but I have to give President Bush and his military advisers credit for this much: The Iraq troop surge, and the new tactics employed along with it, marked the turnaround in that War. It marked the point at which we broke the stalemate and started making progress. Progress that has been sustained to the point where Iraq is now becoming the forgotten War, much the way Afghanistan had been for most of President Bush’s second term.

But Iraq is not Afghanistan. The chances that Iraq will destabilize at this point, with or without our help, is far more remote than it was when we ousted Saddam Hussein. Also, it is also unlikely that instability in Iraq would result in a stronger position for Iran (that was already accomplished by getting rid of Saddam!) or for increased training grounds for terrorists - the Iraqi’s turned on Al-Qaeda, as assisted our troops, on their own volition, and have long been the most secular country in the region. And again: the risk will not increase any more than it just by us getting rid of Saddam, who was a stalwart against radical Islam when he was in power. Some I’m not all that concerned about Iraq. At this point, it’s high time we draw down our troops.

Also, Afghanistan is not Iraq. The people that attacked us on 9/11 had their safe heavens in that country, and remain their, and in the hinterlands on the Afghan/Pakistan border. And instability in Afghanistan will lead to the resurrection of those safe heavens. That it why it is my sincere belief that we must rediscover the unity that we had in the weeks and months following 9/11, when we first went into Afghanistan. Unity that President Bush dismantled by pursuing his family vendetta in Iraq.

What’s more, Afghanistan is not Vietnam. The Iraq-Vietnam analogy is, in fact, far more apt. There is a key difference in Afghanistan: Terrorism and, through Al-Qaeda, the Taliban represent a threat to our homeland that Communism and the Viet Kong never did. There was simply no threat to this country posed by either. Put simply: The Truman Doctrine was wrong-minded and misguided, and the Vietnam was essentially nothing more than a Civil War that we ignited! It’s entirely possible that the communist revolution would have happen eventually anyway, but either way it posed no threat to us! Consider the power of China at the time: A Billion people and a Nuclear Arsenal. Does a tiny strip of jungle on the other side of the world from us REALLY give them any additional capability? No. Not in the way that say… Missile bases in CUBA increased the Soviet’s strategic capabilities in the early 1960's. Cuba would have been a game-changer for Russia, whereas Vietnam was strategically irrelevant to China. President Kennedy obviously got the Cuba part right, Bay of Pigs not withstanding, even though he and President Johnson were dead wrong in Vietnam.

But an unstable Afghanistan absolutely represents a threat to us. And if the Taliban come back, not only will Al-Qaeda have their safe haven again, but with the state of affair in [nuclear armed] Pakistan, the Taliban will have an opportunity to increase their presence and influence their as well. A successful mission in Afghanistan, on the other hand, gives us more credibility with the Pakistani’s and the increased possibility of working more closely with their government to squeeze Al-Qaeda and the Taliban for that front as well.

So President Obama has got it right here, folks. It’s high time the LIBERALS and the DEMOCRATS adopted their own 9/11 rallying cry. And this is the cause that we must rally around. This is a war of necessity, not choice. Unlike Iraq, this is a critically important mission, not a counter-productive one. Our troops, their mission and our President absolutely deserve our support in their efforts in Afghanistan.

When WE say, "Never Forget," we can always add, "LIKE BUSH DID."