Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Our Detached Leader

Kathleen Reardon provided an interesting description of Our Leader:

Huffington Post

Kathleen Reardon: The Detached Leader: A Dangerous Oxymoron

Kathleen Reardon Tue Nov 29, 5:35 PM ET

There is no such thing as a detached leader. There are detached followers, going along to get along. The “leader” who doesn’t listen is the leader who doesn’t learn. This is a frightening being convinced of its own flawlessness, intolerant and disdainful of disagreement. People like this are chosen for leadership when we fall for the bravado – the conviction charade – the walk, the talk, the condescension and indifference. Sometimes it’s the dress and demeanor. Other times it’s the connections or family name. Occasionally, they just sneak in before we notice. We see such “leaders” chatting with “the folks” in contrived settings after modern day sophists have arranged what will be said to whom and for how long. Nothing is natural and so nothing is honest. It’s the kind of “leadership” Peter Drucker repeatedly warned against.

No matter how much Republicans blame the “liberals” for making
George Bush look bad, the truth is that he never looked good – not as a leader. We now have in the highest office in the land a man who is a walking antithesis to the demands of the time. He doesn’t communicate. Delegate and disappear is his leadership style. We wait for him to snap out of it, to explain the war or the plan, but he can’t stop sneering, patronizing, demeaning, or taking delight in the mere completion of a speech. He loves the trappings of power, the multiple flags, and the nodding uniformed legions standing expressionless at his back. It’s a stage set for substance -- a moment in time when another type of leader might reach out.

But before we blame all the detachment on George, or mistakenly consider him the cause, we need to see how insidious the spread of this illness in the name of leadership has become in our culture. Nora Ephron writes that Bob Woodward is so above other journalists that his special treatment and exemption from the rules is to be expected. He is not one of us, you see. He has passed over that line where seekers of truth become hoarders of truth. And, of course, we are supposed to accept this as the rightful domain of his ilk -- those who no longer need a political compass. Cunningham, DeLay, Libby and a host of other believers in detachment also thought they owed us nothing. Then there are the media elites so comfortable attacking the “political elites.” They have cute names for the rest of us like “the folks.” We are the great out-there little people whose very lives can be sacrificed with little remorse in the service of their latest misadventure. They twist recommendations from military heroes into calls for surrender to bolster the illusion of their exceptional wisdom. We see this superior attitude at every turn. We live with the effects everyday. Many are obsessed with whether we can say “Merry Christmas,” but don’t mind taking tax cuts that keep others from having one. It’s a vile detachment disorder possessed by disturbed organisms smitten by power, totally out of touch, taking names, making lists, and never taking responsibility.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

She "supports the troops"

But only the non-retired variety:

The Washington Post
Freshman Republican Weathers Backlash
Schmidt Says She Meant No Insult to Murtha

By Charles Babington
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 23, 2005; Page A03

Rep. Jean Schmidt flung the word "coward" at a decorated war veteran from Pennsylvania last week, but the Ohio Republican's comments landed with a splat in her own Cincinnati district, where some supporters are backing away as she scrambles to explain what she meant.

Judging by her words yesterday -- the first after avoiding the public for three days -- Schmidt doesn't understand what the fuss is about, and sees herself more as victim than villain. "I am amazed at what a national story this has become," she said in a statement. "I have been attacked very personally, continuously since Friday evening."

"There's no way that I remotely tried to impugn his character," Rep. Jean Schmidt said of her remarks on the House floor directed to Rep. John P. Murtha during debate on Iraq war policy.

Many people are unsympathetic. NBC's "Saturday Night Live" lampooned her, the Cincinnati Enquirer's editorial page -- which endorsed her congressional bid -- said she was "way out of line," and the friend she claimed to be quoting on the House floor last week declared yesterday that he had said no such thing.

Schmidt, Congress's newest member, vaulted from obscurity with inflammatory comments during a House debate over whether to promptly withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, as has been proposed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.). Murtha is a 31-year House veteran and longtime military hawk who fought in Vietnam and Korea as a Marine.

Schmidt said in her brief speech: "A few minutes ago, I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

The chamber exploded in boos and catcalls from Democrats, and within minutes Schmidt had withdrawn her words and sent a note of apology to Murtha. But waters were still roiling when she went home Saturday to start a two-week congressional recess.

Schmidt stayed largely out of sight until yesterday, when she issued her statement and spoke with reporters. "There's no way that I remotely tried to impugn his character," she said in a telephone interview. She said she was simply trying to register her strong belief that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq until their mission is completed.

Noting that criticism has poured in via phone calls, e-mails and TV reports, she said in her statement: "I am quite willing to suffer those attacks if in the end that policy I so strongly oppose is exposed as unsound. First and foremost, I support the troops. They dodge bullets and bombs while I duck only hateful words."

Bubp, a GOP state legislator and Marine Corps Reserve officer, had campaigned for Schmidt. He put out his own statement yesterday: "The comments and concerns I shared with Congresswoman Schmidt were never meant as a personal reference to Mr. Murtha. . . . We never discussed anyone by name and there was no intent to ever disparage the congressman or his distinguished record of service for our nation." Bubp, through a spokeswoman, declined an interview request.

Schmidt recalls their Friday phone conversation somewhat differently. "I wrote down what he was saying," she said in the interview. "He did ask me to send a message to Congress, and he also said send a message to 'that congressman.' He did not know that congressman's name, but I did. Neither one of us knew he was a Marine."

Schmidt said she had not noticed the numerous references to Murtha's military background in the newspaper, radio and TV accounts of his troop-withdrawal proposal, made Thursday. "They keep us pretty busy," she said.

Paul Hackett, a veteran of the Iraq war who lost the August special election to Schmidt, said her comments on the House floor "were at best irresponsible and at worst grossly unpatriotic." Hackett, who has sharply criticized President Bush's Iraq war policy, is running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, but some Democrats are trying to talk him into a rematch against Schmidt.

Opponents had dubbed her "Mean Jean" for the sharp tongue she wielded in the August campaign to replace Rob Portman (R), the new U.S. trade representative. Bubp campaigned for her in his Marine dress uniform, rebuking Hackett for criticizing "their commander in chief."

Yesterday, Schmidt said she hoped the hubbub will have faded by the time Congress reconvenes next month. Asked if she would change anything if she could do it over again, she replied: "I wouldn't have used Congressman Murtha's name."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

US: Torture = OK

Funny how you don't see the US criticising China over torture these days. Wonder why?

The Washington Post has revealed evidence of CIA torture centers around the world, including in the former Eastern Bloc. A friend pointed out how the administration's first reaction wasn't "That's not true" but "Who leaked that?"

What a sad place the Bush administration has taken us. "Proud to be an American" is getting to be a tougher song to sing, no?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Religious Right and your health

Dan Savage
Savage Love
November 9th, 2005

STRAIGHT RIGHTS UPDATE: As I mentioned a few months ago, a vaccine for two of the most common strains of HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, is currently moving through the federal approval process. HPV can also cause cervical cancer in women, and the cancers caused by the virus kill 4,000 American women every year. Who could possibly be against the introduction of a vaccine—one that has proven 100 percent effective in clinical tests!—that will save thousands of women's lives every year? Those "culture of life" assfucks, that's who.

"A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates [and] social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity," the Washington Post reported last week. Doctors want teenage girls to receive the vaccine as a matter of routine when they hit puberty, something the religious right opposes. "Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage... 'I've talked to some who have said, "This is going to sabotage our abstinence message,"' said Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations." (To his credit, Rudd said he would want his daughters vaccinated.)

The right's abstinence message has bigger problems than this vaccine. Studies have shown that young men and women are still having premarital sex—no shit—despite the billions of dollars the Bush administration has poured into abstinence education. A study conducted at Texas A&M University found that kids who've been subjected to abstinence-only sex education, the right's preferred brand, have more sex than kids who aren't subjected to abstinence-only sex education. So what the right is saying is this: We're willing to kill American women in order to avoid "sabotaging" our ineffectual abstinence-only message. Nice.

Who ultimately gets to determine the government's position on the HPV vaccine? Thanks to George W. Bush, the Christian fundies do. From the Washington Post: "The jockeying [around the HPV vaccine] reflects the growing influence social conservatives, who had long felt overlooked by Washington, have gained on a broad spectrum of policy issues under the Bush administration. In this case, a former member of the conservative group Focus On The Family serves on the federal panel that is playing a pivotal role in deciding how the vaccine is used." W stands for women—that's what he told us when he ran for president. But, hey, it wasn't a lie. George W. Bush never said anything about standing for live women.

I've said it before, straight folks, and I'll say it again: The right-wingers and the fundies and the sex-phobes don't just have it in for the queers. They're coming for your asses too.