Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Here it comes

Emmerson once wrote "When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."

And here's proof. The smears, disinformation, and attacks ad hominem have begun in earnest. Now that the nominees appear to be decided, the slime machine from the Republican Party has started to attack Senator Obama. According to the Associated Pres this morning, the flag lapel pin has reared its head again, as has the lie about him not swearing the pledge of allegiance and the bigger and more disgusting lie that he is some sort of Manchurian candidate. Conservative radio jock Mark Williams has even referred to the senator from Illinois as a "domestic insurgent," implying that he is some how the same as the insurgents who are killing American troops in Iraq. It is sick and it is disgusting and it will only go on from here. Pat Buchanan said yesterday that once Obama is the nominee the ads will come in that "will make the swift boat ads look like public service announcements."

By reporting on this stuff the AP has to be careful. Of course they will be seen as a liberally biased media outlet, because conservatives see every story that doesn't agree with their narrow minded dogma as biased. If they report on the truth of the matter, or even Obama's response to the charges, they risk being called biased in favor of Obama. If they just report the accusations they contribute to the lie and favor the republicans. In a way, the rabid republican pit bulls make it impossible to be objective in covering their lies and smears.

And it's worth noting that the New York Times has run a story that Republicans are labeling as smear, and that has brought a lot of donations into Senator McCain's coffers the last few days. Forget the fact that it brought up a valid point--that he wrote letters favoring a lobbyist's clients right after taking a private plane trip to Florida with said lobbyist, paid for by said client; and that the report that he might have had an affair with the lobbyist came from some of McCain's former staffers. Ignore as well that the story was produced and fact-checked by six different reporters. The White House has weighed in saying that it is typical of the paper of record to attack the republican candidate, which candidate, by the way, they endorsed in the primary just three weeks ago. But I don't and never have considered the Times to be "liberal." (the Voice is liberal. Mother Jones is liberal. The Times is moderate--and in fact fairly conservative for this city). But it has been fairly partisan in the last few elections (for a good alternative to my view from a very conservative but non-American source, take a look at todays Sydney Morning Herald in which the Times story is analyzed line by line in an editorial called "Anatomy of a Smear").

The Republican slime merchants have gone after Michelle Obama too. She is being pilloried for a comment she made saying that for the first time in her adult life she feels proud of America. It was an ill advised comment, but the screaming morons in the Rush Limbaugh crowd jumped on her as being unpatriotic, and Cindy McCain came out with her own response saying that she had always beena nd always will be proud of her country. Really, Ms. McCain. You are old enough to remember the My Lai masacre. Were you proud of your country then? How about when we illegally bomed Cambodia and lied about it? How about when we illegally mined the harbors of Nicuragua? Or when we backed a revolution to overthrow a democratically elected government in Chile? Were you proud of America when we illegally sold guns to terrorists so we could illegally give the money to a revolution against a deomocratically elected government in Nicuragua? How about when we backed kill squads who murdered priests and nuns in El Salvador? Were you proud of us then? And when we were torturing prisoners in Abu Grahib prison did that swell your bosom with pride?

I'd have liked to have heard Michelle Obama say she had been proud of our country more than once in her life, but I can understand the sentiments of a black woman in America not being proud of a country that had slavery for two hundred years, that had lynched people just because they were her skin color, that had official segregation within her own lifetime, and where blacks still have not recovered from generations of institutional racism. A country that once conducted syphilis experiments on black men may not engender pride in a black woman.

I am a firm believer in American exceptionalism. I love my country and I'm very proud of it. But it has certainly done things in the past that have made me ashamed to be an American. Those people who love their country unconditionally all the time without actually thinking about the horrible things that have been done in their name are parrots not patriots. They simply repeat over and over again the same gingo slogans that, because there is no thought behind them, can have no meaning and no heart. They are willing to commit murder and meyhem simply because they believe that the accident of their birth in one place makes them superior to everyone else on the planet. They prove that Mark Twain was right when he said "The soul and substance of what customarily ranks as patriotism is moral cowardice and always has been."

That's for you, Sean Hannity.


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