Sunday, February 25, 2007

Leadership and discourse and hobgoblins

Although I believe it is still far too early to choose a presidential candidate for 2008, the contrast between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton could not be more striking.

Senator Clinton cannot seem to parse the difference between admitting a mistake and making an apology, and has said that she believes “firmness” to be the all-important distinguishing feature of a successful candidate. No, Senator, it’s merely the “hobgoblin of little minds.”

Senator Obama understood the dimensions of our Iraq choices from the very beginning:

Senator Obama recognized that the post-war stabilization would be the critical problem in Iraq, and chose a “nay” position on the Iraq war authorization before the fact, when it was still unpopular to do so, and provided sound reasons for his choice.

The hallmark of an independent thinker rests in their ability to evaluate the available evidence on its merits, and address the “what if’s” before they come to pass.

To try to defend oneself ex post facto by whining about having been misled by those with a history of deliberately misrepresenting reality, is not only weak but is pathetic, and certainly not the mark of a skilled diplomat, let alone President of the United States.

If the election were to be held next Tuesday, I have no doubt that Obama would have my vote.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

When can I try one?

I think I may see my new commute vehicle on the horizon…

Now that’s what I call a hybrid!


Yet more reasons to take the train

With family in Arizona, Sky Harbor Airport has been a frequent destination, but no more. Their introduction of the backscattering scanners is, for me, the last straw. I will not submit myself to the added indignity of being visually stripped of my clothing, on top of all the other discomforts and inconveniences of using their airport. I am done with it.

Strip-searched in public by a backscatter scanner
Photo credit:

In concert with the appalling behavior of grounded airlines in recent months—and their literal imprisonment of passengers on the ground for ten hours at a time, without benefit of food, water, bathroom facilities, air, or room to move—there is nearly nothing that could motivate me to book a flight to anywhere for any reason. Whatever adjustments to my travel plans I have to make to avoid commercial flights, I will do. There is nothing on earth that is worth the treatment now accorded to airline passengers.

Monday, February 19, 2007

On the ground in Baghdad

An Iraqi blogger states the obvious:
“It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.”
The contrast she observes between Oprah advising women on how to control their luxury spending, and an Iraqi woman’s televised description of her gang rape by security forces is beyond chilling:
“As they talk about increasing incomes and fortunes, Sabrine Al-Janabi, a young Iraqi woman, is on Al Jazeera telling how Iraqi security forces abducted her from her home and raped her. You can only see her eyes, her voice is hoarse and it keeps breaking as she speaks.”
While we fixate on Britney’s baldness or a four-legged duck or the tumbling housing market or the lucky Wall Streeters and their obscene bonuses, Sabrine and other Iraqi women are being raped and beaten and killed by henchmen that we have trained, for no reason at all other than that they are females.

This is what we have wrought, and every one of us is complicit in the suffering that’s been dealt in our name. While our President cracks jokes and blusters about like a jackass, and our Congress takes baby-steps in passing non-binding resolutions, the suffering of Sabrine and others continues unabated. What have we wrought…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

ALL gimmick and no substance

“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that [2002 vote authorizing military action in Iraq] or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.”
- Hillary Clinton (17 Feb 2007, Dover, N.H.)
Personally, I am mighty tired of politicians who make mistakes, and then refuse to state forthrightly that they did indeed make a mistake. Too much like Mr. High-and-Mighty occupying the seat at present.

More on Hillary, from her “advisors, friends and donors”:
“Mrs. Clinton […] never wanted to apologize—even if she viewed the war as a mistake—arguing that an apology would be a gimmick.”
Not only does she view the war as a mistake, but she refuses to acknowledge her active participation in its inception, and worse, sees this as a strength, according to another (unnamed) advisor:
“[Mrs. Clinton] doesn’t want to be […] the vacillating, flip-flopping Democratic candidate that went to defeat in 2000 and ’04. She wants to maintain a firmness… That’s what people will want in 2008.”
“Firmness” in the absence of humility and in the face of massive error? I don’t think so. We are not 10-year-olds and the President is not our parent.

Leadership is what we want. Choosing to defend an obvious-from-the-start ill-advised hand-off of Congressional responsibility to a President whose intel was being questioned from the beginning, and then refusing to acknowledge the base stupidity of that action does not qualify as leadership, and does not qualify one for the highest office in the land.

I am very tired of those covering their butts with “if I knew then what I know now” BS. How is it that so many of us without their privileged access knew from the very beginning that this was a bogus war begun on bogus premises and fought by bogus means? We’re not psychic, but only careful readers of readily available documents.

It takes no courage to go along with the crowd. It does take courage to independently assess the evidence and then disagree with the crowd, and it takes courage to be a leader. Hillary Clinton does not have what it takes, if she does not even have the iota of courage needed to admit her mistakes.

Politics is all about image now, with the big argument in her campaign over how such an apology would play with the voters. Give me a break. And take some lessons from Barbara Lee.