Sunday, June 14, 2009

Discouraged and Fearful for this Country

I've been wanting to write about President Obama's reluctance to live up to the promises he has made regarding civil rights for the gay community, including his pledge to do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the Defense of Marriage Act. So far he has done neither of those things, and as many have already talked about, the Department of Justice recently dismissed a case pertaining to gay marriage by upholding the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act and basically saying it had to defend that law.

"Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Friday that the department, as it generally does, is defending existing law in court.

'The president has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act because it prevents LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) couples from being granted equal rights and benefits,' she said. 'However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system.'"


That's all well and good, but where's the beef? If President Obama is so keen on getting DOMA repealed, why doesn't he demand that Congress bring him a law to sign that would repeal it? He hasn't been making this a priority, and I don't blame the LGBT community, and everyone who believes in civil rights for all of our citizens, for being upset about this.

As for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, that is another sore subject. Harry Truman integrated the armed forces with an executive order. I don't see why Obama couldn't do the same for the gays and lesbians serving already serving honorably in our armed forces. The idea that the armed forces should only allow gays to serve if they hide who they are, and if they don't, they are subject to dismissal, is absurd, and it is clear discrimination. I don't understand how anyone could see it otherwise.

It is well past time to right these wrongs; justice deferred is justice denied.

Those who defend Obama's inaction on these issues may say that he has a lot on his plate and that he will get to them in good time. But people are tired of being told to wait and there really isn't any excuse to delay these changes any further.

If the Republicans were making any effort whatsoever to work with the President and the Democratic Congress, you might think that he is trying to get some of his other priorities, such as healthcare, pushed through with bipartisan support and doesn't want to rock the boat until he has accomplished these goals. But since the GOP has done absolutely nothing to try to work with him (with the exceptions of the few moderate Republicans left in Congress), this explanation doesn't hold water. He has absolutely nothing to lose by fulfilling his campaign promises and I dearly hope he will come through soon.

I am still hopeful that this President does mean well and will do what he has promised. But his willingness to compromise with those who mean him and the rest of us no good is disturbing. Maybe he'll learn his lesson if the healthcare initiative is stymied by these obstructionists and he'll realize that if he wants something he has to just make it happen despite them. We shall see.

But in the meantime, with the shooting at the Holocaust Museum, the murder of Dr. Tiller, and the the continual hatefulness of the neocons and those who speak for them in the media, my alarm at these recent developments is even eclipsing my indignation about the lack of action regarding gay rights on Obama's part.

Frank Rich wrote today about the upsurge in hatred that has apparently helped to spur the increase in right-wing vigilanteism and points out the kind of language that is no doubt adding to the increase in violence we've been seeing lately.

Rich reports that Shepard Smith, the Fox news anchor, has been seeing a huge increase in hate-filled e-mail.

"What he reported was this: his e-mail from viewers had 'become more and more frightening' in recent months, dating back to the election season. From Wednesday alone, he 'could read a hundred' messages spewing 'hate that’s not based in fact,' much of it about Barack Obama and some of it sharing the museum gunman’s canard that the president was not a naturally born citizen. These are Americans 'out there in a scary place,' Smith said."

This scares me a lot. Barack Obama is the first African-American President. That alone puts him in danger. Then when right-wing talk show hosts and others continue to spew hateful rhetoric about him and his policies (calling them both socialist and fascist - a dichotomy that is a little hard to achieve), it just builds up more hatred, which puts President Obama and the very fabric of this nation at risk.

Whatever our disagreements with some of President Obama's actions - or inactions - since he became president, they pale in comparison to the disagreements we all have with the Republican policies and beliefs. Let's remember which side we are on and make sure that we stick up for this man. He does not have an easy job of it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't criticize him if he's not doing what he said, and certainly we must write and let him know when we disagree with him. But he has enough enemies out there - we need to support him.

I am getting very discouraged about this country. There are too many people out there who are completely out of touch with reality and who truly believe their own lies, that Obama is a Muslim, that he's not really an American citizen, and all the rest. These absurd beliefs, coupled with the increase in gun sales that has been happening, are a frightening combination.

I don't know what this country stands for anymore. There are whole groups of people out there who really don't believe in democracy; they feel that if their side loses, they don't owe the duly-elected president any loyalty at all. And they don't have any interest in compromise or working within the system.

Today we were driving with the "60's on 6" satellite radio on, and they played Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction." The words seemed eerily appropriate even more than 40 years after the song first came out.

The eastern world, it is exploding
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’
You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’
And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’

But you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Don’t you understand what I’m tryin’ to say
Can’t you feel the fears I’m feelin’ today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no runnin’ away
There’ll be no one to save, with the world in a grave
[Take a look around ya boy, it's bound to scare ya boy]

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad feels like coagulatin’
I’m sitting here just contemplatin’
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation.
Handful of senators don’t pass legislation
And marches alone can’t bring integration
When human respect is disintegratin’
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’

And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
Ah, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama
You may leave here for 4 days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace
And… tell me over and over and over and over again, my friend
You don’t believe
We’re on the eve
Of destruction
Mm, no no, you don’t believe
We’re on the eve
of destruction.


24 comments:

Liberality said...

It is an absolute hatred of real democracy that drives the violence we see in this country.

That is an excellent song. I remember singing along with it as a kid but I never analyzed what the words were about--I just knew the chorus, lol. It really hasn't changed much in over 40 years is right...

☼ ♥ Dog Mom ♥ ☼ said...

I am often becoming more fearful to at the upsurge of open hate around us. But perhaps it was always there, now we can just see it. Not sure what was better, if the ignorance was bliss?

travelingman said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful post. It was very sobering on Friday when I read about the DOJ brief. It went virtually unreported on both in the mainstream press and on most traditional "lefty" blogs. When it was discussed it was the same talking points...wait our turn, defending the law...there is a great post over on AmericaBlog that really sums the whole thing up in a nutshell.

http://www.americablog.com/2009/06/choice-to-defend-doma-and-its.html

Christopher said...

Thanks for posting this.

Then-candidate Obama pledged to repeal both of the viciously homophobic Clinton-era policies of DOMA and DADT.

Now that he's in the White House, fulfilling these pledges have fallen off his to-do list. The buck passing of blaming the Congress just doesn't cut it either.

All the president needs to do is call the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, to the Oval Office and instruct them he wants bills repealing both DOMA and DADT on his desk by Friday for him to sign. This is the way it works -- it's called leadership.

But Mr. Obama is apparently quite worried about how a small percentage of religious conservatives in the Heartland might react to him doing this.

Oh well. Fine. 2012 will be in a less than 1,300 days. Let's see the president get reelected without the support of liberals, progressives, and the LGBT community.

Sue J said...

Excellent post, Mauigirl. This is a heart-wrenching time for so many of us.

Christopher, I agree with you about 2012, except that the reality is, if Obama doesn't get reelected, that means a Republican is back in the White House. And looking at the cast of characters lining up in that camp is pretty frightful for anyone concerned about peace and justice.

I think the better plan is to hold Obama's (and the Democratic Party's) feet to the fire now, while he's in office and we have control of Congress.

How we do that, I'm not sure....

Mary Ellen said...

Mauigirl-

As dog mom mentioned,the level of hate in this country is escalating,but I have to disagree with liberality (sorry lib, I mean no disrespect) that it has anything to do with hatred of democracy that is fueling it.

For one thing, much of the hate that I see these days is not only coming from Conservative blogs, but it is equally (if not more) coming from Progressive bloggers. The hate that is pointed at Sarah Palin is a perfect example. I am in no means defending Sarah Palin's political views...I'm talking about the personal hatred that is aimed at her and her family--including her very young baby and teen aged daughters.

It was just recently, while reading comments on Huffpost, that I saw remarks about her "retard kid" and "slutty daughter". I saw Sam Seder (sp?) on MSNBC defending Letterman's remarks about her and calling Sarah Palin's kids, "fair game". And of course, I'm sure you've seen the many Progressives who supported Obama calling anyone who did not support him, "racists" or "incapable of accepting a black president." It didn't matter that those who did not support him had valid concerns over his policies...they were painted with the broad brush "racists".

Those same people who were bemoaning those of us who did not support Obama because of his policies are now seeing that everything we said about his lack of support for the LGBT community was true. I wrote many a post about how Obama was lying when he was telling his supporters at rallies that he would never overturn Bush's policies on FISA. That was met with more hate rhetoric from his supporters.

This isn't an "I told you so", I'm just pointing out that there is plenty of hate that is going around and we can't pin it all on Conservatives.

The only way to stop the hate is to quit remaining silent when you see your fellow Progressives spewing it on their blogs. There's nothing wrong, IMO, about talking about policy...but personally attacking anyone who disagrees with policy should not be accepted or ignored. And definitely...family members of politicians should NEVER be considered "fair game". We didn't like it when Rush Limbaugh did it to Chelsea Clinton, why would we accept or ignore when our own side does it to Republicans? Do we really want to emulate Rush Limbaugh? I thought Democrats were better than that...at least I thought so until this last election.

How do you "hold Obama's feet to the fire"? The only thing I could say is to quit making excuses for him. Quit saying that we should, for some reason, give him more leeway because he's our "first black President". I don't care if the guy is purple or green...I will not remain silent as he continues to use the gay community as nothing more than fodder for his political career, or when he continues to support Bush's policies on spying on Americans, giving out favors to big campaign donors, or lying through his teeth with promises that he has no intention of keeping.

Sorry for the long post, I feel very passionate about this and I hope you don't take this as personal criticism, I was speaking only in general terms regarding Democrats.

(Oh...and for those who will slam me with the usual remarks about Hillary Clinton...compare her record with rights for the gay community with Obama's. I think she could go further, and support gay marriage, but she has done eons more than Obama ever has and ever will for the LGBT community.)

I hope, Mauigirl, that I haven't offended you with my comment. It wasn't meant to be a slam at you or your post. Just stating my opinion the best way I know how.

Suzi Riot said...

Excellent post, Maui!

The level of hatred right now is very frightening, but we saw this during the Clinton years too. I think it will get even worse, particularly with an African-American president to focus their hatred on. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk are at their strongest when they are on the defense. It's surprisingly easy for them to get people all fired up with hatred when they can put themselves in the position of the oppressed underdog. Look at Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, etc. Sure they did their share of ranting during the Bush years, but they were in power and so they didn't want to get people too worked up. But now it's "let's overthrow our tyrannical socialist government" and "they want to take away your freedom and your guns!" Where were they when the Patriot Act destroyed habeas corpus?

It all has nothing to do with ideology or principles or values. It's about power, fear, and hatred. Very scary.

Christopher said...

I didn't know the subject of this post is Sarah Palin, but for the rightwingers, aren't they all?

The latest effort to portray Palin as a victim of hate speech is just ridiculous. Palin made herself (and her family) targets through their behavior and beliefs. She is not a victim. She is, however, a wildly ambitious lunatic.

Let's see:

1. In 1996, when she first became mayor of that Meth-infested shithole called Wasilla, asked the city librarian if she would be all right with censoring library books with gay and lesbian titles

2. When the librarians refused to remove books Palin disapproved of, Palin tried to fire the librarian

3. Palin is a member of a radical, rightwing, conservative Christian church that subscribes to the belief that you can (and should) "pray away the gay." According to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, "You’ll be encouraged by the power of God’s love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality"

4. Palin is a believer in Young Earth doctrine. According to the Los Angeles Times, Palin holds that the earth and all life on it began 6,000 years ago and humans and dinosaurs co-existed

5. Palin supports the cruel and savage practice of aerial wolf hunting. This "sport" lets a man or woman fly in a helicopter over known wolf habitats and shoot the frightened animal with a rifle

6. While screeching abstinence for the unmarried, Palin's stellar parenting skills resulted in a daughter who couldn't stay off the cock and ended up preggers at 16

7. Palin violated ethics laws and abused her power as governor in pressing to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, an independent legislative investigation concluded. Palin tried to pressure the legislature to bury the report or not release it until after she and McCain were elected

I guess rehabilitating Palin is not seen as a duty for the rightwingers in the hope that she actually has a chance at becoming president in 2012 or 2016. The American people are much smarter than this.

themom said...

The neocons and religious conservatives still have a strong rein on influence, it would appear. Is it me or am I imagining how the "hate" factor has risen in this country since Obama's election? Which only reinforces the case for change and change now! Christopher said it well - Obama needs to LEAD!!

Mary Ellen said...

Christopher- I'll answer to your many rumors about Palin in comments because I'm having trouble getting this posted.

PART ONE:

Christopher--

Regarding the library story, WSJ investigated that and found: "She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list (which I'm sure you're referring to) were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a "What if?" question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin's first term." There was never a threat to fire nor were there any moves to ban books.

Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. She has said that students should be allowed to "debate both sides" of the evolution question, but she also said creationism "doesn't have to be part of the curriculum."

Regarding the wolves-Yes, she did want authority to have wolves culled from the air, because they were taking too many moose and caribou. Which people hunt for food in the back country in Alaska.

Of course, those like you who spread this bs don't bother to look at the facts of "why" the wolves were being killed. It's easy to sit back and judge what is going on in a State that you know little about. Palin did not allow "blood sports" nor "hunting from the air". This is wildlife management; the authority wasn’t general, it was for only a limited number of wolves, and it was to be done by people with state-issued permits. Here’s how this happens in the wild in a predator-prey model: the predators build up to the point that they cut the population of the prey animals dramatically. They then starve. The prey animals then build up again. Repeat. Only, in this case, the predators who would starve include Alaska’s native (and Native) human population.

Sarah Palin was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She's been registered as a Republican since May 1982. In fact, Tapper, who reported this even backed down when they looked into the real facts and admitted that their sources of the rumor they put out were "questionable to say the least."

Mary Ellen said...

Christopher-

PART TWO:

Let's look at the facts about the State Trooper situation you mentioned. The fact is, the State Trooper tased her 10 year old nephew; drove his state patrol car while drinking or drunk; did threaten to “bring her down”; and did threaten to murder her father and sister if they dared to get an attorney to help with the divorce.

The state trooper was suspended when he was put under a court protective order, which would happen to ANY State Trooper regardless of who he was married to.

The trooper was NOT fired.

And yes, Palin did fire the Wasilla Chief of Police as Mayor because he was lying to the City Council.Which would happen to any Mayor who was caught lying to their City Council.

Palin's religious belief's, whether you agree with them or not, should make no difference as to her choice of political career. Really, Christopher, do you want to get into what faith each candidate follows? How about Obama's Trinity Church which practices Black Liberation Theology? You might want to look into that.

As long as you are associating Palin to the beliefs of a pastor of a church she once attended (but no longer attends), why not associate Obama to the recent anti-semitic remarks made by Reverend Wright? A lot more hateful than talking about when the world was created or not created, eh?

Regarding Palin's views on gay rights. One of her first acts as governor of Alaska was to veto a bill that would have denied equality of benefits to the same-sex partners of state workers. These are the exact same views as Obama...the guy YOU voted for. It's also the same view as Hillary Clinton. BTW, it was a past Pastor of a church Palin went to that believed in "praying away the gay". Palin never subscribed to that and no longer attends that church.

Now...again you get into the private life of Sarah Palin's daughter. You apparently think you have all the answers to good parenting. And where do you get your knowledge Christoper? How many kids have you raised? How many teens? Have you ever known any one that has had a teen that has become pregnant? Does that make a person "immoral"? Unless you have some magic potion that you want to share that will make all teens listen to everything their parents say, and follow their rules to the letter, just let me know. Being a Christian doesn't mean you have some magic dust that you sprinkle over your strong willed teens that make them behave exactly as you want them to. And those teens who make the mistake of getting pregnant...they are not evil, they're just kids who screw up.

Since you think you are so much smarter than the rest of Americans, how did you end up supporting a guy who has done everything he could to stab the LGBT community in the back? Some of us Americans tried to warn you that he wasn't on your side...funny how that worked out, eh?

You might want to get your facts straight before you start touting how much smarter you are than the rest.

I am not a Republican or a "right winger"...just a voter who is smart enough to filter out the crap that is put out by guys like you.

Randal Graves said...

Everyone knows executive orders are only to be used for getting your torture on.

Liz said...

Barry Maguire is coming to perform at Zac's Place some time soonish. Or maybe this year. I can't remember. I was singing that song to someone the other day.

Fran said...

Hi Maui~ Great post. Can't jump into the fray right now. Your focus puts it all in perspective.

Christopher said...

Mary Ellen,

My sources regarding your patron saint, Sarah Palin, happen to be from mainstream media sources like the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun, the Anchorage Daily News, CNN and MSNBC.

Now, I realize none of them hold the same credibility or gravitas for you as No Quarter but this says much more about you than it does me. Just as defending a radical, rightwing Christian kook like Sarah Palin also says quite about you.

Might I make a suggestion that might help your mental health? You need to stop reliving the 2008 election. Hillary didn't win the nomination. The Old Coot and your patron saint, Sarah Palin, didn't win the election. It's over, done, fini. Get over it.

Everyone knows you suffer from a severe case of Obama Derangement Syndrome but even the majority of the PUMA loons have moved on.

Mary Ellen said...

Christopher-

You're citing CNN,MSNBC, and what the hell is the Chicago Sun? (I assume you mean the Chicago Sun Times?) as a news source???? ROTFLMAO!!!! No wonder you're information is so screwed up!

Go ahead and prove that anything I wrote was false. I dare you.

Of course, you have no idea what my political views are, which is why you continue to bring up Hillary Clinton and PUMA (which I never belonged to). You really do have trouble with facts, don't you?

How does it feel now that you backed a guy who is sticking it to the gay community after you supported him and gave him your cash...especially after you were told by those of us who actually did the research and lived with Obama as our Senator tried to warn you he would do? How smart is that, Christopher? Bend over...Obama's got more surprises for you. Enjoy.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Mauigirl,

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving such kind comments. I can see that we are on the same page on this issue and the President. I.do.not.understand.what.he.is. thinking. Or even if he is. I have no idea what the percentage is of gays and lesbians in this country, but I do not think he could have been elected without them. Or without those like you and me who support equality for all.

Maybe it will make sense. We have him for another 3 1/2 years and, if Sarah Palin is going to be thrown into the Repub ring in 2012, he will have my vote then.

I am supporting him, because I voted for him and believe in the things he said during the election. I am not giving him a free pass though.

Hill said...

Fine piece of writing, Mauigirl.

That being said, and coming from this Yellow Dog Dem, this is NOT the change I voted for.

I believed his campaign promises.

Shame on me. Shame on him.

:(

libhom said...

Let's see. Who is Obama on the opposite side of?

- People trying to stop the Iraq war

- The lgbt community

- Supporters of abortion rights

- Middle class and poor people being ripped off by the banksters

- People who are serious about stopping Global Warming

- People who want Bush regime officials prosecuted for their crimes against humanity

I could go on ad nauseum, but you get the point.

libhom said...

Mary Ellen: As a longtime queer activist who actually follows the issues closely, I have to laugh at your claim that Ms. Clinton is better on our issues than Mr. Obama. She is as bad or worse on every one.

Every St. Patrick's Day, she marches in the homophobic hate parade here in NYC. Hillary Clinton is a militant, Christian fundamentalist who hates all lgbt people. Please try to become informed on queer issues before sticking you nose into them.

Mauigirl said...

Hello all - sorry I haven't had time to respond to all your comments individually - as some of you know I'm out in San Francisco for a few days vacation. Mary Ellen, while I agree that there is hostility and viciousness on both sides of the idealogical divide, I do think the comments that tend toward violence are much more apt to be on the right wing side.

As for Sarah Palin, at this point whether things that are said about her are lies or truth don't really matter to me anymore...I just wish she'd go away! ;-)

As for Obama, I continue to hope that he will come through for the LGBT issues that we are all concerned about. And we must continue to let him know we don't approve of the delay and inaction on these issues. I agree, no free pass here.

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