Archive for June, 2008

Obama vs. McCain

June 27, 2008

We now know (finally!) who the two players are in this year’s general election. We have Barack Obama and John McCain. Both have been cast as “different” politicians at various times, and both come with some questions.

Given these choices, I will tentatively support Obama. I’m not locked in; the possibility remains that I’ll go for a stronger statement and vote the independent Nader, the Green Cynthia McKinney, or write in Dennis Kucinich. I’ve been skeptical about the messianic fervor over Obama. I don’t believe that his undeniably brilliant oratorical skills should be a clinching factor in my vote. And a few serious warts have come up regarding his candidacy. Given the mess I believe our method of financing elections is in, I’m saddened that Obama went back on his word and opted out of the public financing system. Furthermore, while Obama said virtually all the right things on foreign policy during the Democratic Primary, I was bitterly disappointed by Obama’s recent pandering to AIPAC, promoting a more traditional sounding foreign policy agenda. Frank of Simple Utah Mormon Politics recently wrote a very insightful post on the conventional U.S. foreign policy agenda regarding the Middle East (a self-described conservative, Frank might well be considered by some almost as “negative” and “anti-American” in his foreign policy views as am I). For Obama to seemingly embrace this sort of foreign policy approach is hardly “Change.”

But while he might not be perfect, I still feel Obama has more integrity than any mainstream candidate in quite some time. Barring further disappointments, I’m comfortable with the idea of Obama as president. And I think the presidency is his to lose. I don’t see McCain being able to rally the support necessary to beat Obamamania.

The fever is even catching here in the typically right-wing Book of Mormon Belt. This may be the first Democratic candidate in decades with an outside chance of winning Utah. Not a great chance, mind you. But where his predecessors had absolutely no chance, I really think Obama has a slim chance.

If what appears to be a largely honorable, slightly left-of-center candidate can win the general election and maybe make some headway in The Reddest of the Red States, that is at least a step in the right direction which I can support.

Update

It appears that I’ve been lax in following the federal news. The recent activity on the FISA bill somehow slipped under my personal radar. I’ve been catching up, and in particular investigating Obama’s involvement. I am now very disappointed. This bill is an egregious breach of the civil liberties for which our nation is supposed to stand, and rather than taking a courageous stand against politics as usual, Obama has thrown in his support.

Given the portent of the AIPAC speech and the FISA bill, I’m now very strongly considering a third-party/write in vote. It is a tough decision. Would the now apparently modest but immediate change Obama is likely to represent worth sacrificing the more fundamental but less probable change represented by third-parties? Something to ponder.

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Feminist Mormon Housewifes: Traditional Marriage is Dead (and it’s a good thing too)

June 26, 2008

With the recent legal brouhaha over homosexual marrige in California and the LDS Church’s response, the homosexual marriage issue is again a hot topic in religious circle and around the blogosphere. One of the big arguments of those advocating for homosexual marriage bans is that we must protect “traditional marriage.” Of course, I’m always curious what form of traditional marriage they want to protect; after all, marriage has had many different forms around the world, and has experienced quite a bit of evolution over the past couple hundred years.

“Not Ophelia,” contributor to Feminist Mormon Housewives, has written a profound post, “Traditional Marriage is Dead (and it’s a good thing too),” addressing just that point.

What we call marriage in this country is a very recent invention. Throughout the millennia marriage has been, not about two people who love each other and want to share a life together, but rather about power, property and paternity. About male control of women’s work, women’s lives and women’s fertility. The importance of virginity, the stigma of bastardy, the ‘head of the household’ status, coverture, and in some cultures arranged marriages, bride price, dowries, honor killings, and the right of husbands but not wives to divorce at will — all of this was (or shamefully still is) part of the effects of traditional marriage.

I’m glad she was willing to barbecue that sacred cow. Whether or not we believe homosexual marriage is sinful, it is certainly worth considering just what traditional marriage means as a theory and in our lives.

The Iraq Status of Forces Negotiations: Exposing the Republican Lie

June 19, 2008

For five years now, Republicans high and low have scoffed at the Iraq War skeptics. They’ve routinely protested any suggestion that the conquest had anything to do with oil or empire. This is a war of liberation, an act of benevolence to free an oppressed people, a noble act to spread Democracy. The regrettable use of military force was necessary, but was merely temporary. Our forces will be removed as soon as the legitimate government of Iraq no longer needed or wanted our services.

Variously naive and duplicitous, these assurances have been proven wrong. We now know that the Bush administration has been in negotiations for a new Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, one which would permit U.S. forces to maintain dozens of indefinite-term military bases, control of Iraqi airspace, carte blanche to pursue military operations, and immunity from Iraqi law for not only members of the U.S. military, but U.S. contractors.

That is not a mutual aid agreement between sovereign nations. That is a pact turning Iraq into a client state of the U.S.

Yes, the conservatives insist that the bases are intended to be temporary. The bases in Saudi Arabia established during Gulf War I were supposedly temporary as well. So was Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, but the idea that this sprawling, expensive base will be dismantled anytime soon is rather absurd. As Chalmers Johnson pointed out in his book The Sorrows of Empire, its network of military bases is a primary means by which the U.S. stretches its influence and exerts political pressure on nations throughout the world. This is nothing more than the neo-imperialism practiced by the U.S. for the better part of a century.

You don’t think the war had anything to do with petroleum? I have a hard time believing that the administration didn’t see potential of leveraging the influence of long-term military bases to help assure the pipeline to the U.S.

And what of the desires of the legitimate government in Iraq? They find the U.S. demands to be unacceptable.

We have reached an impasse, because when we opened these negotiations we did not realise that the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept (Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, from “Impasse in US-Iraqi forces talks,” BBC)

It reminds me a great deal of the agreement between the U.S. and Cuba after the Spanish-American War. Cuba, now “liberated” from Spain, was required to grant the U.S. military bases (of which Guantanamo is a remnant), exempt U.S. entities from Cuban law, and even permit the U.S. government a veto over the Cuban legislature. Some liberation.

It is worth considering that the hubris of the U.S. and their insistence that Cuba become a vassal played a very key role in the resentment which ultimately enabled a meglomaniacal dictator to lead an uprising and defy the U.S. for almost half a century now.

Time for the conservatives to face facts and or own up to the lies. There are clearly ulterior motives at play—motives which must be terminated. The Middle-East is explosive enough right now without pouring more gasoline on the fire.