2,831 Words

President Bush:

It’s been eight days since your State of the Union speech, but this is still relevant because your intolerance of freedom is still resonating throughout the country. Given the ridiculous direction that my own state is heading, this isn’t going away. You’re happy about that, I’m sure, but I’m not going away, either. Please take heed of what I’m about to tell you.

I don’t understand why someone has to explain the same issues to you repeatedly, but since you seem unwilling to grasp them, I’ll try again. That I am able to do this amuses me because I’m just a guy with a state school education, while you, the President of the United States, have an Ivy League education. To help you, I’m going to aim for the simplest language I can. You might have learned some of these words in the past, but for any you don’t understand, there’s probably a book called a “dictionary” somewhere in the White House. To really make it helpful, it probably even has “Dictionary” on the front. On the slim chance that there isn’t a dictionary, you go ahead and use the internets to look these words up. (But be sure to use the anti-sex filter. I don’t want you to see any naked boobies, because then you might not be able to continue doing your job. Oh, wait, you aren’t doing your job correctly, so forget that. Maybe some naked boobies will cheer you up. You look at those all you want. And if you look around, I bet you’ll find some pictures of naked boobies left over from the last occupant of your office.)

On to the lesson.

Many, many years ago, a bunch of old men wrote this short document called the Declaration of Independence. That document set the basis for this country we live in. After writing the Declaration of Independence, our infant nation went to war to achieve its principles.

When you look that last word up in the dictionary, don’t be fooled. There will be a word before it that’s pronounced the same, but it’s spelled differently. Notice that “principle” has an “e” in it. If you find the word that sounds like it and it has an “a”, that’s the wrong word. Keep looking through the “P” section, I promise you’ll find it. It’ll be useful for you to understand this word for the rest of this letter. Not because you don’t have them, because you do. You just don’t understand the context of American liberty that you’re supposed to apply to them.

Alright, now that you know what “principle” means, we can continue. Those men many years ago fought what’s known as a Just War. That means that, even though war is bad, sometimes it’s good because it’s necessary to achieve a bigger goal of peace and freedom. You’re in the middle of one of those now. I hear conflicting reports about your success, but I think you’re on the right path. You keep that up, but make sure you apply that word we just learned a few minutes ago. It’s a good word because there is a principle that you’re fighting for in that war. It’s called freedom. It has a lot of possible meanings and I could be more precise, but freedom is a good word so I’m going to let the big, broad meaning stand for the little details until I get to the deep meaning.

Back to my story. Those men who fought that war a long time ago, they won the greatest prize of all when they won that war. Do you know what that prize was? I bet you do. Come on, I think you can figure it out. What’s that? That’s right, they won their freedom and the official birth of our nation. Good job. See you do know what you’re talking about here.

That’s a good foundation. But that’s not the end of the story. See, other stuff happened after that victory. Those men were very smart. They knew that they’d just defeated tyranny to win their freedom. They knew that they didn’t want to give their freedom away to a new tyrant. (A tyrant is a very bad person.) To protect themselves, they wrote another document. I know it seems like hard work to write another whole document, but they were smart, so they wrote it because they knew they would need it. Do you know what document that is? No, I didn’t think so. I’ll tell you so that you know. That document is the Constitution of the United States of America. It’s the greatest document ever written in America. It’s so good, it’s still relevant and useful today. It has a lot of words in it, so I won’t reprint it here, but you can find it on the internets by clicking on this link. If you don’t feel like clicking that link (It’s possible you found the naked boobies and they scared you away from the internets. That’s ok.), there is a building in Washington, DC, not too far from where you live that has an original copy of the Constitution. That building is called the National Archives. I bet with your status as president, they’ll probably let you see it any time you want. I’ve seen it and it’s pretty awesome. I’m a big fan of it, as I hope you’ll be by the time I’m done with this letter. As I said, it’s a great document.

Do you know what that document does? Let me tell you, it does a lot. That principle we spoke of earlier, freedom? The Constitution guarantees it to the people by explaining the idea that the federal government is run by the people. That means that no branch of the government is entitled to dictate (stop snickering) what free citizens can do. This, of course, has some limitations because we don’t want everyone to have the right to beat people up just because they feel like it. The way we get around that is that we pass laws against stuff like that. When I say “we”, I mean our elected representatives in Congress since the United States is actually a republic, but the basic idea is the same.

As you might guess, sometimes the Congress goes too far, which is what your job is for. When they try to take power that they shouldn’t, you get to veto their laws. A veto is the same thing as you saying “NO!”. It really works. Naturally, you don’t know that it works because you have little experience with the veto, but you still have almost four years to learn. And even though you don’t know how that works, we still have another safe guard after you, a little bit of genius known as the judicial system. This is where we challenge laws that we think are bad. It’s a very good idea because it lets us stop reckless laws and questionable public values. If a law is bad, the courts can strike that law from our legal system. It’s really cool. We’ve made great strides through the court system, strides that society wasn’t ready to take and was very upset about when the court ruled. Today, though, we take those for granted and see how true those decisions were. And there’s a reason why they were true. It comes back to freedom and how the courts can protect it for the people.

Freedom marches forward because our Constitution is so great. When the Constitution was drafted, many people believed that it didn’t do enough to secure
the citizenry’s freedom from its government. This caused great debates among the smartest men of that time. After a lot of thinking, they decided that they needed to amend the Constitution. To do this, they wrote many amendments to the Constitution to specify certain rights that the government could not take away. Some of those amendments were combined and some of them were ignored, but they ultimately got the Constitution improved with ten additional amendments, which they called the Bill of Rights. I won’t reprint them here because I gave you the link to the Constitution. You should definitely read it soon.

There’s a funny little point about the Constitution which you seem to know. I don’t think you know everything about it, though, which is why I’m going to say this part clearly. Please pay attention, because this is where you lack the most knowledge. The Constitution has been working hard for 215 years. By virtue of its use, it’s stronger than it was when those wise old men wrote it. It guarantees all sorts of rights to the people that the original men didn’t know about. This is good and shows how smart those original men were. The Constitution they wrote has proven flexible and adaptable to every new situation that Americans devise to test against it. It’s really amazing.

You don’t seem to know that, though. The strength of the Constitution is its ability to protect citizens from the government when elected representatives become overzealous in their effort to “lead” America. That means they try to take too much power, which you understand without understanding. Today’s elected officials are being overzealous and you’re leading the charge. The Constitution is the method by which we the people are ultimately able to curtail your efforts.

There are different ways for the Constitution to protect we the people. One of them is through the balance of power between the legislative branch, the executive branch (that’s you), and the judicial branch. As I said earlier, the legislature passes laws, which you then accept or reject (veto). If a person or persons believes his rights have been restricted against the intent of the Constitution by one of these laws, the impacted person(s) can request that the law be voided by the legislature. This rarely happens, so the judicial system becomes involved. Usually that means the court interpreting the Constitution to protect everyone. It’s the easiest and most common method for the Constitution to work. It’s helped that we’ve had some very good judges throughout our history who believe in limiting the government and protecting the rights of all Americans, no matter how small the minority.

This works especially well as our country grows and improves its definition of freedom, but you don’t seem to understand that. You have decided that you don’t like freedom as much as you claim. You don’t want our country to lose its morals, you say, about which you’ve decided you know best because yours come from your interpretation of a book that you like rather than our Constitution. It’s a good book, no doubt, but it’s not the basis for our laws. So you’re fighting against the judiciary. But you can’t openly do this and overturn the court’s decisions as easily as you’d like.

To fix this, you and your friends have come up with a three-pronged tactic for accomplishing a change in the judicial system. First, you and your friends throw around the term “activist judges” to decry any decision you don’t like. You understand that if you control the language, many people will adopt it and embrace it. You’ll have won their minds to your viewpoint, even if your supporters are wrong in proclaiming the foundation of our laws.

You hoped that your first tactic would be enough, but you realize that there is opposition to this, even among your political compatriots. Consider this quote from United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist:

Let us hope that the Supreme Court and all of our courts will continue to command sufficient public respect to enable them to survive basic attacks on the judicial independence that has made our judicial system a model for much of the world.

He wrote this based on the accusation of “judicial activism” levied against the judicial branch. He makes a strong argument against that unwise label, no? Deep down, I hope you agree, but I’m not sure. You realized that controlling the language was insufficient, which is why you added tactic number two. When realizing that you might not get your morals legislation, you and your friends in Congress stripped the federal judiciary of its ability to hear federal challenges to your morals legislation. This is essential for you because you know that you’ll achieve a higher acceptance of your morals legislation if you fight many little battles within the states than one large battle within the country. This proved very effective for you last year, which is actually bad because it will encourage you and others to use this power against the people in the future. You’ve even used the term for this scenario, slippery slope, so I know you’ve heard of it. I suspect that you seek power more than persuasion, so the obvious negatives don’t matter as long as you’re the one who decides what gets thrown down the slippery slope.

You also know something else, which influences your final tactic. You know that American tradition favors ever-expanding freedom. If you just stick with the state battles, you understand that you’ll eventually lose, just as all previous attempts to hinder freedom have ultimately failed. You haven’t let that stop you. You are again asking for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. I suspect that our founding fathers would’ve agreed with your abhorrence of same-sex marriage, but they were also extraordinary thinkers. They knew that knee-jerk reactions to quell new ideas wouldn’t be wise, so they built a strict process into the Constitution by which amendments could be added. The Constitution requires a super-majority in Congress and among the states rather than just a simple majority in Congress. They instilled this wise burden in the Constitution to protect the people. It’s been so effective that, despite thousands of attempts to amend the Constitution, the process has succeeded only twenty-seven times. As I noted earlier, ten of those passed three years after the states ratified the Constitution, so there have only been seventeen amendmnets in the last 212 years.

I don’t think you have the votes to surpass that high hurdle, but another point matters more. Every citizen has the right to not be physically harmed by another. The role of the government in passing laws that limit rights is to protect citizens from physical harm. No citizen has the right to not be offended by someone else’s life. The power of the government must not be used to allow one group of citizens to control another group of citizens. Remember, the majority rules but not at the expense of the minority’s basic rights.

The path you’re leading our nation is not wise. The Constitution has been amended to limit rights of the citizenry only once, when the 18th amendment passed, prohibiting the sale or consumption of alcohol within the United States. You’re probably aware that this led to significant crime around the sale and consumption of alcohol within the United States. And yet, freedom marched forward. The prohibition of 18th amendment was such a disaster that it was later repealed with the 21st amendment. Common sense prevailed but history preserved the assesment of the 18th amendment as a blemish on our Constitution.

There is a simple lesson in all of this. History is full of examples of government, in conjunction with a moral majority, siphoning rights away from the citizenry as a whole. Even if I know I will never exercise that right, it is still mine. Removing it because a majority will never use it mocks the principle of freedom.

he Constitution was designed to adapt to changing times and when the hysteria of fear and anger and righteousness fade, the Constitution is still the same, governing the government for the people. The oppressed will rarely change their minds. The oppressors don’t have to change their minds. The march of freedom always continues. It comes from the people who did nothing aafter they realize that they’ve allowed something awful to occur. This has always happened and will always happen. Freedom always prevails. The only question surrounding this issue is your place in history.

Take a moment, step back from your politics of division and your thirst for power long enough to imagine how history will judge you. You needn’t look far, for history holds the examples easily. Our nation was divided into black and white, male and female, young and old for no purpose other than the power of the majority. While remnants of those divisions remain, most of them have faded into their rightful place in the history of human mistakes. The nation waits to see your true character. Will you allow yourself to be a president responsible for discrimination or will you stand for the rights of everyone, whether you agree with their lives or not? Which is it, Mr. President? History is waiting.

Thank you,

The world is a little brighter

I’ve been trying to write about yesterday’s election in Iraq, but have had difficulty figuring out exactly how to say what I really want to say. There are a lot of positives being thrown about, all justifiable. There have also been negatives, whether discussing the reality of democracy by referring to the election as the “election” or by not discussing it at all. I can only conclude that sheer partisanship or blind hatred are the cause of these negatives. There are many political nuances and issues, both positive and negative, surrounding how Iraq got to free elections, but those are not the debate for today. Regardless of what anyone may want to believe about yesterday’s events, President Bush succeeded. American troops succeeded. And most importantly, Iraqis succeeded.

Rather than babble on any further, I offer these thoughts expressed in an entry by Jeff Jarvis. He wrote:

The American right and left are analyzing the Iraq vote on the wrong basis: It’s not about George Bush, pro or con. It’s not about America, pro or con. It’s not even about the war, pro or con. It’s about the Iraqi people and democracy and their future, for which there is only a pro, not a con.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that can’t or won’t understand democracy.

Is the Constitution just paper?

Following up on a previous topic about Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bush’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, I found this from the editors of The Washington Post (the link is courtesy of Andrew Sullivan:

Mr. Gonzales stated for the record at his hearing that he opposes torture. Yet he made no effort to separate himself from legal judgments that narrowed torture’s definition so much as to authorize such methods as waterboarding for use by the CIA abroad. Despite the revision of a Justice Department memo on torture, he and the administration he represents continue to regard those practices as legal and continue to condone slightly milder abuse, such as prolonged sensory deprivation and the use of dogs, for Guantanamo. As Mr. Gonzales confirmed at his hearing, U.S. obligations under an anti-torture convention mean that the methods at Guantanamo must be allowable under the Fifth, Eighth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution. According to the logic of the attorney general nominee, federal authorities could deprive American citizens of sleep, isolate them in cold cells while bombarding them with unpleasant noises and interrogate them 20 hours a day while the prisoners were naked and hooded, all without violating the Constitution. Senators who vote to ratify Mr. Gonzales’s nomination will bear the responsibility of ratifying such views as legitimate.

I agree. This issue isn’t going away, so we cannot continue to pretend that the torture of human beings is a minor issue (or worse, a non-issue because we assume it’s just a bunch of guilty foreigners.) The moment we condone the first evil actions, actions more evil and more pervasive will creep into our acceptance. We have already seen this and, until we erase it as Bush administration policy, we will all suffer the consequences. Is that the new vision of America we wish to embrace?

D.C. should pay for my daily Metro fare

The Bush administration expects the District of Columbia to pay for security for President Bush’s inauguration next week. Consider:

OMB spokesman Chad Kolton said no additional appropriation is needed for the inauguration.

“We think that an appropriate balance of money from [the annual reimbursement] fund and from homeland security grants is the most effective way to cover the additional cost the city incurs,” Kolton said. “We recognize the city has a special burden to bear for many of these events. . . . That’s expressly why in the post-9/11 era we are providing additional resources.”

Allow me to pull out my Official Bush Administration Buzzword Checklist&#153. I see here that “homeland security” is on the list, “9/11” is on the list, and what’s this? Oh, good one, Mr. Kolton. You get triple, super-duper bonus points for “we are providing additional resources” in a situation in which you’re not providing additional resources.

To clarify the issue a little further, consider:

[Mayor Anthony A.] Williams estimated that the city’s costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.

“We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities,” said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff. “This is the first time there hasn’t been a direct appropriation for the inauguration.”

But really, why should D.C. officials complain? They were going to waste the $11.9 million on “increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers.” No one will miss those in an attack on The Homeland.

Surprisingly, my congressman has condemned the Bush administration. Consider:

A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor’s stance. He called the Bush administration’s position “simply not acceptable.”

“It’s an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?” said Davis spokesman David Marin.

A good question indeed.

Current events matter, however “quaint”

The Senate Judiciary Committee began confirmation hearings today for President Bush’s nomination for Attorney General of the United States, Alberto Gonzalez. I haven’t written too much about this aspect of politics (the war and its surrounding issues) over the last year, but this is important. Rather than go into the details of Mr. Gonzalez’s past regarding his previous justification for prisoner torture, since I assume everyone has at least some knowledge of the issues, I’d rather discuss the implications. “Slippery slope” is a term thrown about recently, which is interesting because it applies so much more specifically to torture than any other context in which it’s being used. Our military, with approval and legal justification from Mr. Gonzalez and other government officials, raped, sodomized, and electrocuted prisoners (many of them innocent of any crime) to gain information. This is wrong. We can believe in an eye-for-an-eye, however useless it may be, but in the current context, it will only fuel further hatred and vengeance. We are better than this and hopefully smarter.

One common argument is that captured terrorists must be made to reveal any information that might be useful to American authorities. I do not disagree with that, but is this the best way to get it? Does torture fit the bigger goal of preventing terrorism? How does torture help our image with the world? What does it do to the respect we believe and teach about our ideals? Does it encourage our allies to support us when we claim the moral high ground but routinely violate the basic human rights that we claim to represent? No, it doesn’t, and that’s because there is validity to the “hearts and minds” aspect of this war.

Just as significant, how can we reconcile our ideals of freedom and human rights with these occurrences from 2002?

o February 7: Bush signs an order declaring he has the authority to suspend compliance with the conventions and reserving the right to do so “in this or future conflicts.” The order also says the conventions on treatment of prisoners of war do not apply to al Qaeda or “unlawful combatants” from the Taliban.

o August 1: Bybee writes to Gonzales arguing that the president has the power to issue orders that violate the conventions as well as international and U.S. laws prohibiting torture. Bybee’s memo also argues that to be defined as torture, conduct must inflict pain severe enough to cause organ failure or death. In addition, the memo lays out several defenses for military members or other U.S. government workers were they to be accused of torture.

How can the president give himself a blanket exemption from international conventions, signed in good faith by officials of the United States? How does the president have power to issue orders that violate U.S. law? Are these arguments we really want to accept? We do not need to be beholden to international will, but we can’t agree to a set of rules and then abandon them because they’re inconvenient. It would take a long time (realistically never, but…) before we reached dictatorship, but how much closer to empire do we wish to come than we already are? Our current streak of unquestioned nationalism (“homeland”) and “with us or against us” patriotism is scary to me and I’m not the only one who is noticing. America is the greatest country in the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re perfect.

From today’s confirmation hearing, Mr. Gonzalez said something interesting:

“I will no longer represent only the White House. I will represent the United States of America and its people. I understand the difference between the two roles,” President Bush’s counsel told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Gonzalez will not represent me because I know that torture is unacceptable and any attempt to elevate the president above United States law is illegal and unacceptable. Being against Mr. Gonzalez’s nomination isn’t about attacking President Bush or scoring political points because the ideals of human rights and freedom which America stands for are more important than that. This is about what’s the morally right path. We can’t talk moral values and “What Would Jesus Do” and still support the barbaric treatment of other human beings, no matter how evil those people may be. If there is a vengeful God, as many believe (myself not included), He will hold individuals who perpetuate evil and terror responsible for their actions. Our task is to limit (end) the threat to America the world posed by these individuals, not to extract our own vengeance. We must not let those responsible for policies of torture slide by because of indifference or worse, because of acceptance.

For more info, please read this and this. For an interesting historical note with some (however minor) correlation, consider this.

Fun with numbers (or, I promise I’ll get bored with this eventually)

Some prominent individuals are so busy swimming in Lake We Kicked Your Liberal Asses Because President Bush Is More Popular Than Even Ronald Reagan&#153 that they can’t be bothered to stop long enough to think. Here’s a perfect example from Peggy Noonan’s column in Opinion Journal:

… The president received more than 59 million votes, breaking Ronald Reagan’s old record of 54.5 million. …

It will be hard for the mainstream media to continue, in the face of these facts, the mantra that we are a deeply and completely divided country. But they’ll try!

I’ve heard that nonsense more than once since Tuesday, but that doesn’t make it any smarter. Yes, Bush received 58,978,616 votes. Good for him. (Not really, but I’m making a point here.) However, the argument doesn’t hold up under even minimal scrutiny. Here are the real numbers explained so well that I’m not going to bother pretending that I can do better. Consider:

Can both sides quit with this “more voters supported our guy than ever before” crap? The US population is 295 million. In 1992, it was 254 million. During Reagan’s landslide reelection, it was 235 million. 124 million when FDR was first elected. So if both sides could drop the meaningless fact that each candidate got more votes than any Republican/Democratic candidate in history, I’d appreciate it.

And while you’re at it– the same applies to opening weekends at the box office. More people, more screens, more expensive tickets. Hell, Gigli could probably be considered a bigger movie than Jaws if you count this way.

Just for the sake of logic, I’m going to assume that there are more eligible voters now than in 1984. Hey, imagine that… more voters equals a higher vote total for the winner. When Reagan won by 16,878,000 votes (out of 92,652,842), that’s a mandate. Bush winning by 3,594,114 votes (out of 115,427,728) is a victory, but not a mandate to run trample over the opposition.

Lest we forget, Kerry received 55,384,497 votes. Even though I attended public schools and a state university, I’m pretty sure that Kerry’s total beat Reagan’s record of 54,455,000, as well. So everybody should lose the hyperbole and just shut up.

I flip-flop… Here’s another entry about the election.

I’m breaking my promise not to write any more about the election than yesterday’s post. But there’s a good reason and it doesn’t include denouncing President Bush, not directly anyway. Allow me to explain my deep despair from yesterday and why, even when that despair dissipates, the fragile peace in my mind will still force me to never let up in defending my principles.

The Karl Rove impact on America is my issue. I’m not concerned that a majority of Americans differed from my view of President Bush as a war president or his impact on the financial health of our nation; majority will is the nature of a democracy. The minority within the majority is what concerns me. It’s the “We drank the Kool-Aid, it was really good, you must have some” crowd of the Republican Party who seem to have missed the point of freedom and democracy and decency. That small group of people makes me fret for the immediate future of our great country and the ideals we claim to hold dear. The belief that a heterogeneous society is not only what sets us apart, it’s what makes us so great.

But some among us don’t believe this. They wrap themselves in the flag and pretend that only they are the defenders of the real America. They’re the true patriots, they tell us. If we don’t like it, get the hell out. While others who didn’t vote for Kerry are proclaiming that they’re ready to move to Canada or the U.K., I’m not one of them. This wave of hysteria will pass, but only if someone defends the truth. I will play my small part in that over the next four years and beyond.

I give that introduction to lead into my primary anger at the election. I’m concerned because of the eleven state constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage that passed. Marriage is a right traditionally reserved for the states, so a state’s citizens passing such an amendment is within their rights, regardless of how ridiculous and discriminatory I may find it. The citizens acted. Now same-sex couples (and singles and traditional couples and singles) know where the state’s citizens stand. They can stay and fight, stay and not fight, or move. As a tourist, I can choose not to visit the states that passed such amendments. All of that is democracy in action.

But that isn’t the whole story, is it? The argument over same-sex marriage (and homosexuality) has extended beyond ridiculous and discriminatory and slipped into hatred. Whatever causes that hatred is interesting but irrelevant. I’m ashamed at my country when I think that this is what people believe and vote into reality.

Here are two examples from e-mails received by Andrew Sullivan about the election illustrate the underbelly of Tuesday’s election. These quotes are the gist of what is wrong with how far today’s Republican Party has strayed from the core of Conservatism and how fanaticism has taken over America. Consider:

“I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message — true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I’m sure someone like yourself would consider me just an “extremist” that you don’t need to worry about. Well you are wrong — I’m not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country.”


“I’ll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I’m faced with everyday in school – the American people have just shown my classmates that it’s perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a ‘friend’ at school today: ‘It’s so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out…’ Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads … I’m the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney. Herein lies a problem, I can’t bring myself to do that. Bush totally lost all my support (I know I can’t vote – but I make a hell of a campaigner) when he supported the amendment to ban gay marriages, and I felt bad that in straying from Bush, I was abandoning Cheney, who I have an amazing amount of respect for. Many would say go Democrat… but I can’t do that (that signals the absence of a spine up here), and in the next year, I’m considering dropping my membership to the party. Especially this year, despite how undercut and violated I feel as a gay person, I couldn’t be happier that I am. I’ve got a stronger will because of it, and will lead my life just as strongly.”

Contrary to what some people believe, hatred is not a family value. We’re all in this mess together. Until we accept that, not only does legitimate debate and intellectual curiosity fade away, we increase the divide between those in power and those in the minority. Intentionally creating (or refusing to work to reduce) that gap has never led to anything good. Remember the immortal words of Ximinez, from Monty Python’s Flying Circus:

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms – Oh damn! (To Cardinal Biggles) I can’t say it – you’ll have to say it.”

That’s the America I see right now. I don’t like it.

For the next four years and beyond…

We’re fucked.

That’s only my opinion, but I can’t deny my sadness at the inevitable reduction of civil liberties over the next four years. Or my desperation at the thought of this president believing that he has a mandate from the people to continue to pursue his policies of fiscal destruction. Or my sense of shame for my country at the effectiveness of his despicable campaign of fear and smear. Or my nervousness about the consequences of this president believing that his inflexible tactics in the necessary war on terror were legitimized by the American people. Or, finally, my expectation that the ramifications of this president’s hubris and unquestioned mission from God now that he has free reign and a sycophant Congress will be felt by the next generation and beyond.

It’s easy to dismiss the ranting of someone when you disagree with their opinion, but that doesn’t change the truth. A re-elected president who believes that freedom is based on his judgment commandment from God is destroying the ideals that I hold most dear as an American. But he’s not stopping with me. Now that he’s learned how effectively fear works over the American psyche, we can expect nothing less going forward. What I hold dear was attacked first when the president halted the notion of free speech and backed an amendment that would add discrimination (not to mention Christian theology) into our secular government’s most important document. As angry as I am about that, I’m not alone. He hit my ideals first, but he’s coming for everyone else next. History has shown that, but we haven’t learned. The collective wisdom of Americans failed yesterday and we’ll all pay the consequences.

There’s more nuance to it than that, I know, but I don’t have faith in nuance this morning. One day we’re going to wake up from this collective nightmare. Many of us will have great difficulty in accepting what we’ve allowed to happen, but that day is far in the future. The Conservative values of small, limited government, freedom from the control of that small, limited government, and the belief that open debate and information are dead in America. No one seems poised to revive them. Unfortunately, for now, we must all live with the consequences.

I feel like I’m living the worst movie I’ve ever seen, only that movie is 70,082 hours long and I’m stuck in the theater with the realization that the exits are locked. I hope I’m wrong, but this president has given me no reason to believe in him. Like I said, I think we’re fucked.

Funny is so easy, a child could do it

I recently wrote an entry about Audible.com using ads mocking John Kerry to promote its ListenBeforeYouVote.com site, a site that exists as little more than a redirect to the main Audible.com site. I complained about how vehemently opposed to it I was. As I mentioned in that entry, I wrote to Audible.com and received the following reply:

I will bring this to the attention of my supervisors. I looked at the link but could not find what you are refering to, but whomever made the page must know somthing about it. I personally do not consider that fair if they are singling out one canidate or the other, and im (sic) sure it was not our intent to do so. Please eccept (sic) my appologies (sic) on behalf of audible, i (sic) will deffenetly (sic) have someone look at this issue. Thank You!

I thought that might be the end, but it’s not. As I said in that entry…

I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if the only ad was the “George W. Bush is an idiot” version, but I only have the information at hand, which mocks the candidate I support. I hope I’d feel the same way if the reverse had been true. I suspect I’d disagree with the marketing plan but wouldn’t be as upset about the sentiment since it matches my own. That doesn’t make it smart.

That’s about right. I found the Cheney ad on a site that has a more liberal bent, so it’s obvious that Audible.com is targeting the assumed readership of specific sites. Since I don’t stick with just my own opinion, I found both. I don’t know if I’m a rare person who comes across that or not, but it doesn’t change how vile and stupid I think the strategy is. Just as with the Kerry ad, portraying Bush supporters as “closed-minded, reactionary war-mongers” is unfair and untrue.

I’m not as angered by the Cheney ad, but I think that’s because the two ads are different in one fundamental way. Since the Cheney ad is cartoonish, the context implies a marketing tone rather than a mocking tone. Perhaps I’m clouded in my judgement, but that’s my view. I still think the ads are despicable.

(For more perspective, consider these ads featuring Hillary Clinton being elistist and
Ann Coulter fighting Al Franken.)