Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Put Out the Fire

How did this happen?! The AFL-CIO (that’s a labor union) hosted a HUGE debate last night, with most of the Democratic nominees, right here in Chi-town, at Soldier Field!! And I missed it! I didn’t even know anything was going on until I watched the news last night. (Yes, I have a TV right now, which only gets five channels, one of which is, grrr, Fox news, so I don’t watch it much) If only I’d known! I could have gone down there and protested! Why? Why not! At least I could have stood sullenly in front of the “dead-baby-picture-anti-abortion” people, who provided the most priceless soundbite of the evening:

Reporter: Why are you here?
Blonde soccer-mom with two kids: Because it’s wrong. It’s just wrong.

Sure. And making little Brendan and Blair stand outside in ninety-degree heat waving signs that have pictures of aborted fetuses on them is PERFECTLY OKAY.

Compared with the relatively intelligent sounding college student who was out holding a sign that said “Troops Home Now:”

Student: “We’ve heard a lot about bringing some of the troops home, or keeping a small troop presence over there permanently, but what we’re saying is, is it’s time to bring everyone home. That’s what we want: all the troops home from Iraq.”

Easy. Simple. Like the Temperance Movement in the early last century what got Prohibition passed.

Meanwhile, inside, the candidates were vying for the support of the largest labor-union in America. The AFL-CIO has said they’re not ready to declare support for one candidate yet, fair enough, but I think it was great that they hosted a debate so their members could see the candidates firsthand and get to hear what they had to say. For the record, the union also invited the Republican nominees, but no one responded. Since I didn’t see the whole debate (I gotta start watching some of these pretty soon) I’m under the impression that a lot of the talk centered around rebuilding America’s “infrastructure” which means perhaps, oh, I don’t know, fixing New Orleans or maybe rebuilding some of those Eisenhower-era bridges. As opposed to rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure.

Barack Obama has come under a lot of heat lately for saying things which—while very refreshing—aren’t exactly politically astute. I’m thinking here of his statements last month where he said he would meet unconditionally with leaders from countries who don’t follow US policies, like President Musharref from Pakistan or Hugo Chavez from Venezuela. (I hope I got that right—I didn’t google them this time…) Then there was the statement that he would attack terrorist groups within Pakistan without that country’s permission, if he had “actionable intelligence,” whatever the hell THAT means. I was slightly stunned at the sudden hawkish turn of events, yet…refreshed that someone had the ovaries to come out and say what we’re all thinking instead of dancing around the topic. (Paging Prez. W…Prez. W to the red button, plez…) Hilary Clinton seized on what he said last night, saying (I paraphrase) “Well, it’s easy to make statements like that, but you have to be careful, because things change, and we have a long way to go yet.” (update-I found the quote here: Warning that Pakistan has nuclear weapons that could be used against U.S. interests in a post-Musharraf world, Clinton added: "You can think big, but remember you shouldn't always say everything you think if you're running for president, because it has consequences across the world. And we don't need that right now." )

Part of me wanted to jump on her for basically telling Obama how to do his job, part of me wanted to tell Obama to be more of a politician so he would get elected. But then, if he was more of a politician, he wouldn’t be Barack Obama. I really don’t like Hilary Clinton, she seems as though she’s always judging her actions to ensure she’s making the right movements. Politically we get along fine, although I would have said “Chicago, I’m your candidate!” instead of “Chicago, I’m your girl!” I just wish she wouldn’t forget there are a WHOLE lot of liberals out there who need convincing to vote for HER. After eight years of the Evil Empire, we’ll vote for anyone left of Attila the Hun, but we won’t LIKE IT unless she convinces us.

I know this is already WAAAAY too long for a blog that purports to be about my fabulous self livin’ the high life in the Windy City, but I also wanted to talk about guns today. Last Monday night the Chicago police shot an 18 year old dead, after claiming that he had waved a gun at them, then run away. This latest death is just one more in a loooong line of recent shootings. At least, it feels to me that there has been a lot of gun violence lately, but that could be because I’m used to England where there is violence, yes, but not so many guns. But watching the family and friends of this latest victim hold a rally outside the station where the police officers are stationed, I want an answer to their question: When is it going to end? When are the police in this city going to stop abusing their own people? Of course, I don’t want to defend people who are legitimately defending themselves—but shooting a suspect in the back while he’s running away from you seems slightly, uh, unjustified. The other side of the coin, of course, is a society that is armed to the teeth, which leads to the police suspecting and fearing everyone. The police chief has gone on record as saying the suspect adjusted his waistband, which officers take to be a sign that they are armed. Well, hello, have you seen the fashions lately? TRY and keep your pants up without adjusting your waistbands these days. Hell, even I do it.

No, the problem to me seems to be the one that the NRA and the gun lobby don’t want you to hear: that guns themselves are the cause of violence. It really is a spiral, going from armed officers to armed citizens, but if we take away ALL the guns, then NO ONE gets to play. The other option, the one we have today which clearly isn’t working, has led to suspicion between police and the people they are sworn to protect, so that both groups seem more interested in protecting themselves from the other, instead of working together to root out the truly “bad” elements in society.

I was thinking about buying some Mace the other day—women have been attacked in a neighborhood nearish enough to mine to give me pause—but I decided against it because I don’t want to carry a weapon. I may be afraid, but I’m not going to start carrying something that will give me a false sense of confidence or security. Basically, I don’t want to be part of the problem.

PS: Mace is also illegal in England. Hmmm….


The Hipster King said...

This is regarding Obama's comments on foreign policy. I am not sure that talking to Chavez or Castro would get us anywhere; perhaps sending lower level delegates might work at first. But how do you learn; how do you know your opponent if you don't meet him face to face? I give Obama credit for saying it, even though he could have provided some nuance.

On Pakistan, he is 100 percent correct. They are not doing enough to take on the resurgent Taliban, to hunt down al qaeda...probably party out of fear of having some extremist Islamist coup against the current president, and then where would we be. But this is war, asymmetrical at best, and when your enemy is hiding in the mountains and your supposed ally can't or won't cover your back, and you know where to find him and that you could succeed (that's actionable intelligene), then you hit and you hit hard. Obama was smart to redirect the debate back to the war on terror in Afghanistan. To focus the country on the notion that this administration took its eyes off the ball. And now al qaeda is operationally capable again.

Regarding Mrs. Clinton...without being disrespectful, Obama and others need to remind voters that she was not president between 1993 and 2001; she was first lady. The one major policy initiative she led, she screwed up royally. He should not let her talk about doing a job she has no idea how to do...there was only one President Clinton, for better or worse, and his first name was not Hillary.

So, sayeth The Hipster King! :)

The Hipster King said...

Follow is a quote from Senator Obama, underscoring the point of my comment:

"Well, look...I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foreign policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism."

Of all the Democrats whom I would hope to succeed, I think that my heart and soul would be with Senator Obama (and I am not just pandering to the hosting blogster!).

Nicki said...

Pander away, I love it.

I do know what "actionable intelligence" means, I just hate, as a student of the English language, the way that "governement-speak" twists these words around. Say what you mean, for Pete's sake, it's all the double meanings that get people into trouble in the first place.

Thats why I like Obama-he says what he means.

Also he's really cute.

The Hipster King said...

He's a nice looking guy. His wife's a hottie, too. Grrr!

My favorite example of government-speak was when Nixon's press secretary, the late Ron Ziegler, said that a previous statement was "inoperative." Brilliant!

Laura said...

Obama said in the democratice debate on youtube that he would consider talking to leaders of "rouge nations" within his first year as president, because "the idea that not talking to countries is somehow punishment for them is ridiculous." Clinton said that she wouldn't promise to meet with them within her first year in office, but then she didn't rule out the meetings as a posiblity either. Then after the debate she gave an interview that made it sound like Obama came up with the idea of these meetings and called him "naive."

I really like that Obama is also talking about Afghanistan and Pakistan and places we don't usually hear about instead of just Iraq and I would support him in his actions as president if he would really go after the terrorists rather than faciliating civil wars.

The Hipster King said...

This country would be well served by a two way race in the end between Senators Hagel of Nebraska, who has actually stated that he regrets his vote for the war and, Obama. There are obvious political differences, ideological differences, but both men have their hearts in the right place. Even though I disagree with his position on Iraq, I respect Senator McCain more than the top GOP contenders.

If Hagel does not run, I will likely firmly back either Obama or Bloomberg, if he runs.