Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flag Pins & Fear

I get back from cold/flu/cough affliction to see that the Democratic primary has gone from devolving into chaos to dancing into the abyss. WTH?

This last debate on ABC News most certainly has the corpse of Peter Jennings turning in his grave. Peter Jennings would slap George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson silly and take away their press credentials for the rest of the political season. Could you imagine Peter Jennings moderating that way? I gleaned more information from Fox News debates and that is a huge "ouch" in my opinion.

It took 45 minutes or as Jon Stewart pointed out, 15 questions, to get to actual issues. I hear some press guys try to defend them saying that after 21 debates there would be a lot of repetition if they focused on the issues. I disagree.

I don't think these debates have plenty of topics that could have been covered: China, Tibet, Darfur, Global Warming, the food crisis, the question of biofuels from food, monetary policy, Zimbabwe, globalism and consequences of free trade, water policy, disaster preparation and emergency response, security at our ports, non-proliferation of weapons grade materials, stem cell bioethics, mental health services for our vets, mercury pollution, overfishing, drug policy and our overcrowded prison system, and emerging Russia, algae for energy technology, UN conventions on land mines, and rights of children and women, education (pre-school, K-12, community college, four year universities, trade schools, home schools, etc.), CO2 Markets vs. CO2 taxation, zero waste initiatives, oil at 115 bucks, and the latest events in Afghanistan and Iraq. All you have to do is check out the BBC to get even more topics that effect people here and abroad that a presidency may very well have to handle if not weigh in on.

Even if there are topics covered in earlier debates, we had to divide the time between 8 to 3 candidates for many of them. Having just two candidates to talk about issues allows for more in depth answers and follow up questions. The idea that George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson are being paid to be professional journalists is obscene if they have no grasp on what really is important to the American people.

As Jon Stewart pointed out, George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson, saved the really stupid question for someone else to ask. When that woman asked if he liked the flag referring to his refusal to wear a flag pin, my jaw dropped. What? Whaaaa?
People wearing flag pins lied to us to get our troops in Iraq and severely mishandled the war. People wearing flag pins said to the terrorists, "Bring it on". People wearing flag pins let the disaster in New Orleans get as bad as it got, calling American citizens refugees. People wearing flag pins allow economic violence happen across our country on a daily basis via plant closures, corporate welfare, bankruptcy rules, poor monetary policy, and tax breaks for the very rich. People wearing flag pins oversee the undermining of our country's scientific prominence in the world.

Flag pins do nothing to prove a candidate will do what is right for this country and its people. We should not care about outward superficial trappings of patriotism. Doing what is right for our country and caring for its people is patriotism. Doing is the operative word here. Wearing a pin made in China, doesn't confer some halo of Americanism. What is in your heart is more important than what is on your lapel.

Then there is this appeal to fear that whoever the candidate associates him or herself with is a reflection of who that person is. I think that links are valid if you can also show that the candidates behavior is consistent with those associations. Nothing in Obama's legislative record, public speaking, writing, or policies suggest that he is at all influenced by Reverend Wright or those two former Weather Underground members, who are now University Professors. No one is suggesting that Bill Clinton pardoning two other members of the Weather Underground indicated that Clinton was aligned with radical behavior.

The plain truth is that America has a full spectrum of extremism and moderation in this country from left to right. This has been true since the days of John Brown. We have the extreme right who bomb clinics and gay bars, kill clinic doctors, blow up government buildings, rob banks for their right wing Christian identity beliefs, burn african-american churches, and intimidate poor women whether they go to a family planning clinic or choose to keep her baby with assistance. On the left we had the Cinque and the SLA, Weather Underground, Black Panthers, and in recent times -- the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF). I used to live two blocks away from what was the Hibernia Bank where the SLA and Patty Hearst robbed the bank and killed a bank security guard and I do remember the reports when I was young about the Weather Underground. Patty Hearst is no longer Tanya, but a suburban housewife and perhaps a grandmother by now. Time has turned Weather Underground to suburban life in Academia. I have met someone who is a white middle-class father of three and he ran guns for the Black Panthers. I would be many Americans have rubbed elbows with extremists from both ends of the political spectrum, would we want to be judged by who we have had contact with throughout our lives? Are there second chances in America?

Links between this couple and Obama have been found to be tenuous at best. They were professors and his constituents who held a fund raiser for him. Obama was 8 years old when they were in the organization. The

There are these lies being spread to brand Obama as dangerous to America. It was his middle name, a deliberate mix up between him and an actual Muslim-American office holder, and rumors that he attended a radical madrassa were all designed to appeal to fear and keep people seeing him as a faithful Christian like themselves. The appeal suggests that if he became president the terrorists win. This is ridiculous because he has worked hard for our troops and vets who have come back from "the war against terror" and he has passed legislation that would secure weapons grade materials from terrorists.

One of the things that our country needs is a departure from the appeals to fear and patriotism that got us into the war in Iraq. Politicians like Clinton were too concerned about being thought un-patriotic and weak in the face of appeals to fear that they voted for this needless war. We need leaders who are patriotic enough to stand up and speak out when our country is going in the wrong direction as Obama did and 21 of Hillary's fellow senators did in regards to the Iraq War.