Even More Excessive than Morgan’s Homophobic Rant

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The fact that Tracy Morgan’s stand-up act has degenerated into puerile observations of oral sex (getting turned on listening to women choking on his cock) and fagbashing (claiming if his son were gay, he’d better step up and talk like a man or Morgan himself would stab him to death) isn’t so shocking to me as it might be to others; most of what passes for comedy these days is shock value, laughter from discomfort instead of thought-through commentary and clever perspective.  If Morgan wants to present himself as a comedian worthy of the gutter, that’s his business, as it is the business of others to not spend another dime watching him on stage or in the movies.  He’s just a sign of the times, ranting against gays last week just as Michael Richards just couldn’t stop himself from repeatedly shouting the word Nigger a few years ago.  It is what it is, the nasty blister that keeps the unspoken ugliness of the American id under control suddenly popping for all to see. 

What irks me in this is the liberal (and I am liberal, which means I can be honest about a tendency in my own ranks) desire to equate hate speech against gays with other forms of hate speech, mostly that against minorities, especially African-Americans.  While most liberals find nothing funny about Morgan’s rant inNashvillelast week, some make the attempt to link what he said to racial slurs, trying to make the point that all hate speech is equal and heinous and thus identical in every way. 

Here’s what addictinginfo.org had to say on the subject: 

Recently, Tracy Morgan, star of Thirty Rock and SNL veteran, went on a homophobic rant. If Morgan had been a White man talking about African Americans, his career would be over, but mocking Gays and Lesbians is acceptable to many in our society. (Tex Shelters, 6/11/2011) 

I agree with the liberal tenet that hate speech is not free speech, as designated and protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Hate speech, especially that which incites violence, deserves to be recognized as pernicious and sociopathic, and there is no place in a civilized society for it.  We can discuss whether or not Morgan’s rant constitutes hate speech, if it was something he truly believed, or if his mouth suddenly ran amok and out of control (he has since apologized for his remarks, realizing he went too far).  What I don’t agree in this aspect is the desire to pigeonhole something as hate speech, call it out, toss it in the generic hate speech trash can, and forget about it, lumping it in with all the other forms, where gaybashing, misogyny, anti-Semitism, race baiting, and all the other insults heaped on those based on gender, religion, skin color, or sexual orientation, are collected and mashed together. 

In many cases, African-Americans are appalled by the comparison that discrimination against gays is equitable with the discrimination blacks have faced throughout American history, and in many cases still facing today.  Making such comparisons dummies down both the gay and the African-American communities, patronizes both experiences, and carves their histories up for ulterior motives.  To compare the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man brutally killed in Wyoming some years ago, with the murder of Emmitt Till, a black teenager brutally killed in Mississippi in the 1950’s, is apt only if you’re going to talk about how ignorance and hatred led to both murders; you have to go further than that if you’re going to talk about hate speech and hate crime, and when you do that, you realize what led to Shepard’s death (a couple of drunks picking him up at a bar and then killing him) is not the same as what led to Till’s murder (whistling at a white woman, a serious violation in the Jim Crow South, led his murderers to hunt him down, beat him nearly to death, and then weight him down and drown him in the river). 

Hate speech and hate crime deserve further analysis than “That’s hate speech and it’s bad, and there’s no point in talking more about it.” 

Hate speech directed at one faction of society is not interchangeable with it being directed at another faction.  Hate speech targeting gays is not the same as hate speech targeting blacks, or women, or Jews, or Muslims.  Unfortunately, it all gets lumped together, and it’s left there. 

As a result, bloggers use hypothetics.  If Morgan were a white comic, talking like that about blacks, his career would be in tatters, that’s the point in the above-mentioned article.  If Morgan were, say, a conservative comic, talking like that about Muslims, odds are he’d be embraced by Michael Savage, who has a long history of broad-brushing all Muslims as complicit murderers who want to do nothing but kill as many Americans as they can.  What if Morgan were a spokesman for the beef industry, talking like that about vegetarians, would every tree hugger seek to stone him to death?  Yes, that’s a bad analogy, but in truth, so is comparing Morgan’s fagbashing with racial slurs, because they’re apples and oranges. 

Morgan has shown contrition concerning his rant, and whether NBC orHollywoodseek to distance themselves from him is their business.  Others can get themselves twisted up in their vitriol over this.  Me, it’s just a sign of the times, another comedian losing his mind and ripping open an American scab.  I take it for what it is and don’t seek to make it into something it isn’t.  Morgan’s conduct, while reprehensible, should be taken in its own context.  It may be considered hate speech, spewing violent rhetoric against homosexuals, but the conversation should stay on that track, about how gays are still perceived and talked about in an America that alleges to have grown up in the last fifty years, an America that tolerates Gay Pride rallies and went through Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  That’s a worthy discussion to have, how our society can claim to be tolerant and open-minded on one hand, yet in many dark corners still equates AIDS with homosexual deviance and the television stereotype is of flamboyance, obsession of image, and reckless promiscuity. 

But let’s keep it in perspective.  Morgan is not a white comic, and his dialogue was not directed at blacks.  The path the collective African-American community has taken to reach 2011 is very different than that of the gay community, hence the insults and violence heaped upon them come from different places.  Morgan, at least to me, is not a hatemonger; he merely fell into the American trapping, the belief that homosexuals are the only minority in this country not protected by political correctness, so it’s still acceptable to make fun of faggots.  We can define the act as hate speech if we wish, and we can consider whether or not that’s what Morgan truly believes in his heart of hearts, but the conversation must remain within that context.  We show the whole episode much more respect when we talk about it on its own merits and not make shoddy comparisons in order to make it look even more heinous.  Morgan should not be let off the hook so easily, hopefully there will be some consequences for his actions, but that’s up to his employers to decide, and that’s up to those who pay to see his stand-up act to decide. 

His remarks, however, should be seen in their own light, in and of themselves, and not bastardized to fit bad logic, hypothetical comparisons, and political agendas.  It dummies down the whole broad discussion of hate speech, and it’s undignified for both the gays he insulted and the blacks the bloggers poorly attempted to compare this to. 

I do find it a little funny and ironic, a grown man with a girl’s name having the temerity to get on stage and lash out against gays.  Here is a man who once played a caricature of a prison homosexual, blowing kisses at Adam Sandler in the remake of The Longest Yard; it makes me wonder if THAT was a hint into the real Tracy Morgan, and his rant in Nashville last week was just fagbashing for the sake of appearing butch, self-loathing run amok, that sort of thing.  I don’t know about any of that, it’s all speculation, but what I do know is, for as excessive as his rant was, it’s even more excessive to try to compare it to similar remarks directed at African-Americans.  It’s all hate speech, but it deserves more than slapping the label on it and moving on.

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Laugh at FOX News

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There’s a little game I play with myself when I go to my mother-in-law’s house.  She always has FOX News on the big screen TV, and not wanting to be polite in asking her to change the channel, I’ve developed a mind trick.  Whenever the pundit shows are on, whenever Sean Hannity starts his shtick on how liberals are maniacal and subversive, when Bill O’Reilly gives his version of no-spin which is to criticize Democrats and leave Republicans off the hook, when Glenn Beck pulls out his chalkboard and start his smarminess that would get the average 12-year-old slapped, I imagine the whole production set to a laughtrack, and the pundits are actually comedians.  It turns the whole network into a long episode of The Colbert Report, and just as I’m laughing heartily at Stephen Colbert, I can also laugh at the Right-Wing Noise Machine. 

I have to be able to laugh at them, because if I didn’t, they would drive me crazy, just as they’ve driven me crazy in the past, just as they continue to drive people crazy today.  The complete crap that comes out of their mouths is often mean, false, and downright ludicrous.  The lengths they go to in their pursuit of demonizing Democrats and leftists boggle the mind.  That’s their whole raison-d’etre, to be the pitbull for the American right, running interference for Republicans, saying the vicious and preposterous things GOP Senators and Congressmen are thinking so they don’t have to actually say it themselves.  Half of what comes out of their mouths is spoken just to piss off liberals, you have to know this to be true by now.  

You have to laugh at them.  Don’t give yourself over to hyperbole, this is not world-class propaganda, and Roger Ales is not a nouveau Joseph Goebbels.  This is shtick.  FOX News is a one-trick-pony, they are naked about it, they don’t even try to hide it.

But you have to put this in the proper context.  FOX News is just one network.  They are not noted for journalistic integrity.  Their show hosts are hired on two qualities:  attractiveness and willingness to say whatever the producers put on the prompter.  While there is a string of right-wing blogs out there with modest popularity, like The Free Republic and The Drudge Report, most Americans don’t consider them newsworthy enough to take them serious.  Everyone knows their business by now. 

Liberals and other sane citizens need to learn how to turn THIS...

Every so often, though, because too many liberals consider them dangerous in their ability to get into American living rooms, they are taken seriously, probably more so than FOX takes itself.  A prime example was last year, during the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, where the FOX intelligentsia took a small snippet from a speech she made and tried to make it seem she and the NAACP were racist; it was so successful that the NAACP berated her and she was fired from her federal job; it took CNN, a network still clinging to journalistic integrity, to set the record straight, to show the entirety of the speech in question, to interview Sherrod and others mentioned in the speech, and instead of this being an issue of racism, it became an inspiration on how one can transcend racist thought.  At the end of the day, FOX was ROTFLOL, saying transparently, if liberals contend this network is just lies and propaganda, why did they jump so high to initially condemn Sherrod when we aired our story?  Instead of apologizing for their actions, FOX simply spun the story to make it seem like there was something, nothing they could put their finger on, but something still amiss in the whole affair, something still smells fishy about Sherrod, and the story went away. 

...into THIS.

And apparently, so did liberal memory of the event. 

This is not an attempt to bash FOX.  They are a known quantity.  We know them for what they are.  They are the untrained dog that poops on the floor and tears up the couch when you’re gone for the day, and then looks at you like it was your fault for bringing it home in the first place, you knew I was going to do this, why are you blaming me? 

This is, however, a criticism of American liberals who still, after all these years, get so bent out of shape whenever FOX says something ridiculous. 

This week, while the world is praising the United States for finding and killing Osama bin Laden, and while much of the world is patting Barack Obama on the back for showing leadership and determination in collecting intelligence and ordering Navy Seals to pull this off, FOX is trying to gain political points for former president George W. Bush.  I’m reading liberal comments on the Internet, primarily on Facebook, agog with FOX’s attempts to spin all this into a GOP win.  My response to those comments is, are you really that surprised?  You know they’ll never give Obama respect, you know their entire reason for being is to spin anything and everything to favor Republicans and demonize Democrats.  Why, then, are you dismayed when they act as they’ve acted for the last twelve years? 

Here’s the answer.  Because liberals think FOX’s lies and dirty tricks are effective, and any American who watches one of their pundit shows for five minutes will be whirled away into their web of deceit.  Yes, there’s a sucker born every minute, and no doubt there are viewers that take their broadcasts for gospel.  They have yet, however, to truly damage American politics, with Democrats competing just as well with Republicans on a national level, thank you very much.  FOX does not accurately depict conservative values; they only accurately reflect the viciousness of Washingtondiscord.  What is going on in this country, from a tanked economy to tanked foreign policy to never-ending wars for vague reasons, these are all problems started long before FOX put together their news network, and now they’ve all come to their natural conclusions.  FOX did not put Tea Party candidates in Congress, that was a reaction to the status quo, and voters primarily vote by their pocketbooks.  They did not get George W. Bush in the White House, the Supreme Court trumped the Constitution to do that.  Everything you see today is the push-pull of politics, and after enjoying most of the 20th century with sane, equitable liberal politics, the last thirty years have seen the conservatives push back, until they’re on the brink of undoing the New Deal and destroying people’s rights to collective bargaining. 

All of this, however, took decades to come to fruition.  FOX did not cause these problems, they’re only taking these problems and spinning them to make Democrats look bad.  Had FOX had real influence, the Democratic Party would have died years ago, with Republicans enjoying one-party rule, and theUSwould have become Ayn Rand’s wet dream, a conservative paradise. 

This is only my opinion, but FOX only has power if we give it to them.  We get irritated by them because we allow them to irritate us.  At this point, I’ve come to believe that FOX, like Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh, thrives on having two audiences, a small but loyal audience that gets real entertainment from the show, and a larger one that hangs on their every word to find the lies, to debunk the propaganda, to discover new reasons to get pissed off.  Liberals form the latter, and at some point, we have to recognize this and pull the plug. 

Thus, I have to tell you, if you watch Glenn Beck with the premise in mind that he’s a comedian spoofing conservative zealotry, you will be able to laugh at it.  You won’t need Jon Stewart to do it for you, as he often devotes much of The Daily Show doing.  You’ll be able to do it yourself.  Thus, when you’re flipping stations on the TV, and you inevitably linger on FOX for a few seconds to see what crap is flying from their cakeholes today, you’ll be able to move on with a chuckle, because you’ll see it as comedy, not propaganda.  Life’s too short to worry about this, and you have to remember, we’re liberals, we champion the First Amendment, we support diversity of thought, even if we don’t agree with it.  Knowing half of what comes out of Sean Hannity’s mouth is said just to piss you off, you can’t give him power over you, you have to laugh it off, you have to see him as a comedian instead of a liar. 

Or just change the station and move on. 

Either way, keep FOX in the proper context, and don’t make them into more than they are by giving them power over you.  Kill them with laughter.

LIBS! CONS! For Once, Don’t Screw Up the Celebration!

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Happy Americans--not happy liberals or happy conservatives

CONSERVATIVE SYCHOPHANT:  You liberals have no business giving Obama credit for killing Osama bin Ladin.  If you had your way, we would have quit the War on Terror years ago.

LIBERAL APOLOGIST:  Obama finished what Bush and the conservatives couldn’t.  You all had your chance to get him, and you blew it.  Get on your knees and kiss Obama’s butt, once and for all. 

CON:  We all know liberals hate America and were rooting for bin Laden all along.  You bitched and whined for eight years, and now you’re suddenly on the bandwagon.  Who do you think you are? 

LIB:  And we all know you’re going to say Obama didn’t really get bin Laden, that this is all a lie, a hoax, a counterfeit.  Are you going to demand to see bin Laden’s birth certificate as well? 

CON:  Osama, Obama, you know they’re the same kind of cat.  You know Barack Hussein Obama is hiding something, admit it. 

LIB:  The only thing we’ll admit to is that we live in a country where too many people who just happen to be right-wingers will stretch themselves into any shape necessary to undermine a president who was voted in with a majority. 

President Obama hadn’t even stepped into the East Room at the White House to deliver his statement that American forces successfully killed Osama bin Laden.  The political partisans were already on Facebook, delivering their shots at one another, trying to score points over one another.  Rigor mortis hasn’t even set in on the body of the leader of Al-Qaeda, and already the hacks are trying to make this event just another round in the never-ending nitpicking duel that defines American politics. 

Watching CNN tonight (as I often due when there’s news to be had), I witnessed the crowd gathering at the White House fence, slowly growing in size, becoming more and more exuberant, singing The Star Spangled Banner, chanting USA! USA! USA! and waving placards and flags for all to see.  No one was wearing shirts that said BUSH IS A MORON or GO BACK TO KENYA, OBAMA.  There were no fights to be broken up, no zealots saying the most caustic things, no adolescent bickering, just an impromptu party to celebrate a long-awaited event, an event a lot of us thought wouldn’t come.  After years of hunting for bin Laden, even the most patriotic and stubborn among us had to wonder if he’d ever be caught, if he’d be able to grow old and die of natural causes.  This is an event all Americans can and should rejoice, and as I watch that crowd gather, I’m not thinking they’re all conservatives who feel exonerated for supporting the War on Terror, or they’re all liberals who believe this will be a major step toward Obama’s re-election next year; they’re all Americans, with a capital A. 

It’s come to cliché status, how major events are supposed to inspire us to drop our political differences and embrace one another as brothers and fellow citizens, Americans across the board, we are all in this together.  Perhaps it was that way in the days following 9/11, when we were all shocked to the bone to turn on CNN and watch the World Trade Center burning, both towers no less.  We all wanted to get the bastards who did this, and we all were rooting for our government, the Bush administration, Republicans and Democrats alike, to pursue the villains to their deaths, hopefully sooner than later, but nonetheless, with dogged relentlessness and unbridled passion.  Truly, that was probably the last time this country has felt such togetherness, the last time partisans might have dropped their ideologies for just a day or two and reflected that what we have inAmericais special and rare, and it deserves protection.  What have we seen in the nearly ten years since?  We watched conservatives turn cold and bitter toward liberals, and we’ve seen liberals nitpick every single freaking thing the Bush administration did.  We watched other major crises hit our country—blackouts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, economic catastrophes—and in each case, instead of camaraderie and unity, we’ve been at each other’s throats.  Partisans defend their president and ridicule critics, and hacks see the president as an enemy of the state. 

This event, however, must be different.  FOX News must stop the perpetual assault on Obama and give him a modicum of credit.  He was the one who called on his national security team to gather information on bin Laden, and for the six weeks leading up to today, there were no leaks to the press, there was no political posturing, just the gathering of information and the forming of a solid plan that was practiced in the hope of eliminating the terrorist without collateral damage.  As such, no Americans were killed in the firefight, and our soldiers were able to take bin Laden’s body into custody and confirm his identity.  For those who questioned Obama’s leadership, he stepped up to the plate when the opportunity arose, and without blinking or tipping his hand, his team came through. 

CON:  No way.  All the credit should go to our men and women in uniform.  The soldiers that risked their lives deserve all the gratitude, not the guy sitting comfortably and thousands of miles away from the fight. 

LIB:  That’s what we said for eight years, when Bush was sending soldiers to fight and die in two quagmire wars.  If you’re going to give Bush credit for anything, you’d better give Obama credit for this, or you’re all just a bunch of hypocrites. 

Truly, there will always be a set of Americans who will take to their graves the belief that Obama is not an American citizen, that he was born in Kenya, that he is a communist / terrorist sympathizer who hates the United States, and no matter what birth certificates are presented, no matter what bold achievements are gained, this will stick in their craw forever.  No, liberals, this is not racism, this is just old-fashioned pigheadedness and cognitive dissonance.  It’s not something to get irritated over, but truly, it’s something to admire and chuckle over, how rational people, even with facts pushed to their noses, will negate them for political convenience.  It is simply easier for some people to cling to their pernicious beliefs, no matter how obsolete they’ve become, than admit that, in the face of undeniable evidence, they were wrong. 

Likewise, there will always be a set of American who will believe with their dying breath that George W. Bush was the worst president in American history, that he was the poster boy for nepotism, the ugly frat boy who drunkenly stumbled forward, the legacy that got military preference and into the Ivy League because his father was a Congressman and Senator.  Bush was neither a pawn of corporate interests, nor was he the sinister ringleader of the NeoCons.  Whatever he faced, it came from the previous three administrations and snowballed into something large and fast and aiming right for him.  If there’s anything you can blame him for, it’s for allowing political discord to become so caustic, so fanatical and frenetic, that there’s no longer reason in the conversation; yes, this is something he could have addressed, just as previous presidents had when they sensed the mood of the republic was waning and needing of a word from the top. 

That’s the mood of the republic tonight, so used to infighting and smarmy one-liners that, when a moment like the death of Osama bin Laden arises, people are unable to drop their ideologies for a nanosecond and embrace one another in joy.  It’s borderline instinct at this point, our second nature to take a moment of pride and jubilance and turn it into just another political football to kick around, thus dummying it down to the level of gays in the military, global warming, animal cruelty, or any other of a couple dozen issues partisans use as wedges to drive sides apart.  This is an event that should transcend party politics.  

LIB:  That’s right.  FOX News needs to lay off of Obama for once and let him enjoy this moment in the sun. 

CON:   Obama doesn’t deserve a second of a break.  Bush had to deal with liberal whining for eight years.  You say he wasn’t legitimately elected, so we’ll say Obama isn’t a legitimate citizen.  What’s the difference? 

I’ve almost given up on national politics because of this back-and-forth, this childish bickering.  Truly, listening to conservatives and liberals argue is like listening to two bad kids who are trying to make the other look even worse and thus, in some form of pretzel logic, would make him the GOOD kid.  It’s inane and tired and so 2004.  While many would say American politics has always been raucous, coarse, and downright dirty at times, I would say it’s never been so adolescent, so persistently catty. 

This should be the one time that happens every decade or so, when the petty and the catty among us simply shut the fuck up and enjoy the moment. 

CON:  Who are you calling petty, liberal?  You and your political correctness have been nothing but petty for decades, sanitizing culture so that no one can so much as think without getting your permission. 

LIB:  Hey, don’t lump us in with those right-wing nutjobs.  We’re not perfect, but we didn’t completely sell ourselves out to corporate tyranny like THEY did. 

CON:  And you should thank God for corporations.  There is no aspect of your life that isn’t touched by a corporation.  You get cheap food, reasonable gas prices, goods from around the world, all accessible and all affordable, thanks to corporations. 

LIB:  And the price we pay for all that convenience is watered-down jobs, outsourcing, closing of plants, the rape of the environment, and CEO’s making millions while workers live on subsistence. 

CON:  Typical Marxist, turning everything into class warfare.  Didn’t the collapse of theSoviet Unionteach you socialism was an utter failure? 

LIB:   Giving a damn about working people—which is most ofAmerica—isn’t class warfare.  Stop crying about having to pay taxes and start pitching in to rebuild America. 

There’s always something to fight about when it comes to American politics.  Can we just leave this one event alone?  Just this once?

LIBYA: War Makes Hypocrites of Us All

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The Right-Wing Noise Machine is pulling President Obama from both sides. On the one hand, they’re badgering him for intervening in Libya, enforcing the UN-sanctioned no-fly zone and engaging Libyan units in aerial combat. On the other hand, they’re saying Obama doesn’t care about democracy because he hasn’t intervened on behalf of pro-democracy protesters in Yemen and Bahrain. I’ve long dismissed conservative pundits as modern pre-Socratic sophists, throwing all the mud they can and hoping some of it sticks, regardless of the twists in logic—if it exists in their arguments at all. It’s contradictions like this that turned me off to them a long time ago.

NeoCon pundits are a known quantity. What I have a hard time reconciling is, why are many of the same liberals who excoriated the Bush administration for starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq now defending Obama’s use of air cover to help the Libyan rebels?

This is one case where nearly every American becomes a hypocrite if he favored intervention when one party was in the White House, but opposed it when the other was in.

I’ve tried to wrap my brain around this, and though I voted for Obama and still believe, despite Republicans trying to trip him up at every opportunity, he will ultimately be remembered as a solid American and a good President, I can’t go along with him on this, for the same reasons I couldn’t support Bush when he invaded Iraq in 2003.

I remember when Bush addressed the nation in ’03 as battleship groups set themselves up in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. I was reluctantly supportive of the act in its initial stage, considering it a necessary evil. As the war drug on, and all the nasty little evils men do to one another mounted and mounted, I was vocal in my opposition—nay, detesting—of the way the war was handled, between use of contractors that shot civilians for fun, profiteering, waterboarding, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Halliburton, and all the other critters that we saw crawl when we lifted the rock. I generally oppose war, period, and pretty much all wars in human history were fought for bullshit reasons; this was just one more.

Let me add a little more depth to this. Concerning the Middle East, I’ve been opposed to most every American incursion. From Reagan’s bombing of Tripoli in 1986, to Desert Storm, to Afghanistan and Iraq, to today, I believe American policy in the Middle East has been wrongly enforced and should be scrapped. During the Cold War, the US propped up despots for their own interests (protection of Israel and, more importantly, protection of the flow of cheap petroleum), turning a blind eye to the tyranny they imposed on their own people. While Americans still cringe at the thought of the Ayatollah Khomeini assuming power with the flight of the Shah of Iran in 1979, I’ve come to realize it was an event 25 years in the making, starting with the US installing the Shah in the 1950’s and overthrowing what was then a fledgling democracy.

That’s the hard lesson Americans have to learn, and with Obama’s actions in Libya, it looks like they still haven’t. Since the 1950’s, the US has either turned a blind eye to Middle Eastern tyranny, outright supported it, or manipulated politics to ensure it, for the sake of its own ends, and at some point, you had to believe the people there would eventually get pissed off enough to fight back. What we’re seeing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere in the region is a mass movement, an entire generation of Middle Easterners, who want to free themselves from despots who have overstayed their welcome, in many cases because Western powers, particularly the US, benefited. Have a prisoner you want to interrogate without getting your hands dirty? Send him to Egypt, our buddy Hosni Mubarek has no problem rendering them for you. Need to keep the fundamentalists in Iran in line? Arm Saddam Hussein in Iraq, let him fight a war of attrition that has arguably been the bloodiest war since World War II, and shake his hand until he becomes inconvenient. Who cares if women are second-class citizens in Saudi Arabia, who cares if most of the hijackers from 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, gas is getting up past two bucks a gallon, so the Saudi family gets a pass.

In terms of the Middle East, Americans have to decide what is more important, maintaining the status quo and thinking only in terms of national interest, or allowing these countries to sort out their own affairs and create governments of their own making?

Truly, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt that led to the overthrow of governments and heads of state that were American allies for decades demonstrates that citizens can indeed organize themselves, defend themselves, and even oust the tyrants, all by themselves. It’s an argument that tosses the grand argument of the previous decade, that Iraq and Afghanistan inherently need America to kick the bad guys to the curb, out the window.

Don’t misunderstand me. I want the rebels in Libya to oust Moammar Qadhafi as bad as anyone else does. I root for the everyday man, the working class stiff, the guy who is overworked and underpaid, because that’s most of the world, and there’s something far more noble in a day of labor than a day of leisure. As such, I want the people of Libya to forge their own destiny, one that may or may not include the United States, and for the US to respect that destiny and not warp it for their own selfish cravings.

I will always root for self-determination; that should be a staple principle in all things American. Our history, however, proves us lacking in commitment to that ethic.

If democracy is something we seek to spread throughout the world, it should be through our example, our championing, our excellence in the craft. It should not have to be something we enforce at the point of a gun. Were democracy truly something to treasure, we wouldn’t have to force countries to accept it; they would steal it, just as they would any other precious commodity. They should see the shining example America is setting and say, that’s what we want for our own people, let’s overthrow the bastards and do it for ourselves, even if we have to die trying.

Maybe, once upon a time, we set such a shining example. Now? Eh…

This is a fight for the Libya people to fight, but it was also a fight for the Iraqi people to fight, the Afghani people to fight, the Tunisian and Yemeni and, back in the day, the Iranian people to fight. As Lyndon Johnson said (and later renigged), we shouldn’t be sending American kids thousands of miles around the world to do what Asian kids (or Libyan kids, for that matter) should be doing for themselves.

While I understand and even enjoy the thinking that led the Obama Administration, the French and British governments, and the UN to the resolution that installed the no-fly zone over Libya, it doesn’t matter. As much as anyone, I want Qadhafi gone, and I want the Libyans to create a government of their own choosing, but it’s THEIR government of THEIR choosing.

That’s what self-determination, as foreign a concept as it might seem to Americans, is all about.

So let the conservatives play the contradictions and pull Obama from both directions. Let the liberals support Obama for doing more or less the same thing they criticized Bush for doing. War makes hypocrites of us all. The consistent view is the rare view, and if you’re beholden so tight to your party or ideology that it blinds you, you have to accept your hypocrisy for what it is. Don’t play spindoctor, don’t overexplain yourself, just acknowledge and move on, hopefully with a little more humility than when you started the day.

Mission Statement

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The bottom line is, and will always be for as long as this blog exists, that I’m just a cat trying to get through another American recession in one piece.  I’m tired of sophistry, the Blame Game, conservatives calling liberals evil and vice versa, and the general dummying down of America.  You have to be too, at least as tired of it all as I am, maybe more so, because, for all the partisan bickering, all the namecalling and fingerpointing, where has it all gotten you, gotten me? 

This blog’s going to be a little different.  It’s going to be opinions and observations, and yes, it will be leaning to the left in most cases.  That doesn’t mean, however, that this will wallow in the gutter of left-right politics.  There are plenty of blogs that seek to demonize the opposition, from all over the political spectrum, and you’re more than welcome to peruse them; in fact, if you’re looking for that visceral rush that comes from partisan browbeating, I encourage you to leave this page now and find something more to your taste. 

See, I define myself as a liberal because I know what it is to be a liberal.  I understand liberalism.  There are many great liberal heroes throughout the world, and we can name plenty—Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, John Lennon, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, even Jesus Christ.  I’m proud of this legacy, and I can trace its lineage from the Gospels to the Enlightenment to the Declaration of Independence to Civil Disobedience to I Have a Dream.  These are good, noble things to aspire to, and it is a challenge to live up to the bar such great men have raised, to the ethics these great documents acclaim. 

More importantly, I am a liberal, not a conservative-hater.  I am what I am because I believe in something positive, not because I consider the right wrong and evil.  Conservatism, as an ideology, has its place.  There’s nothing wrong with conservatism per se, I can take it or leave it, and most honest conservatives can as well.  What I have a distinct problem with is this culture that seems to dictate everything to be a wedge issue, everything must be bitterly fought over, the other guy disagrees and is therefore the enemy of the state.  That’s what bickering children do, and I realize I’m basically calling most of the American media children when I say that.  This is a very poisonous climate when it comes to politics, and while many consider it a sport, I consider it a blight on our national character. 

Hence, as just a cat trying to get through another American recession in one piece, my hope is to talk about what I believe, not what I loathe.  I’m more likely to ignore the splinter in my brother’s eye and address the beam in my own.  Politics, religion, history, media, sports, entertainment, whatever the topic, I hope to present myself as someone raising the level of discussion, not crushing it under heel. 

As such, if you became a liberal because George W. Bush disgusts you, in my opinion, you did so for the wrong reasons.  If you voted for Barack Obama merely because he wasn’t John McCain, this might not be your cup of tea.  If you vote for a candidate simply for the R or the D after his name, you can leave now. 

But, if you’re interested in discussing liberal politics, liberal Christianity, the so-called Liberal Media, and other points in the liberal sphere with an open mind, a clear conscience, and a bleeding heart, I look forward to getting to know you. 

My name is Arjay Phoenician, and this is my blog.  I hope you get something out of it.