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So much for change we can believe in.
For those who have been living under a rock for the past day or so, our incoming president – the man who promised change and inclusion – has invited Rick Warren, pastor for Saddleback Church in California and intolerant evangelical sonofabitch, to speak at his inauguration.
For the non-Californians in my readership, Rick Warren has been described (courtesy of my handy copy of The Sinner’s Guide to the Evangelical Right) as “the evangelical Jimmy Buffet” – he’s known for wearing Hawaiian shirts, and he’s the author of The Purpose Driven Life. Among evangelicals, he is considered “controversial” for saying that Christians should be concerned about things like the environment, global warming, and helping the poor, not just opposing abortion and equal treatment for gays.
Nevertheless, he is opposed to abortion and equal treatment for gays.
Now, many religious leaders are opposed to abortion, and that is absolutely their right. I don’t think anyone likes abortion. It’s just that some people feel that life begins at conception, while others feel that is not the case and that a woman should have the ability to terminate a pregnancy, for a wide variety of reasons. I personally fall into the pro-choice camp, but respect the ethical position of many in the anti-choice camp (though there are also many in the anti-choice camp whom I have no respect for).
If he were merely anti-abortion, his speaking at Obama’s inauguration would be troubling, but not rage-inducing.
It is his position on homosexuality that makes his inclusion in inauguration festivities so offensive to so many people, myself included.
Not content to merely oppose equal rights for members of the GLBT community, he has actually compared their sexuality to incest, pedophilia, and bestiality. He actively campaigned for Proposition 8, which took away the right to marry for same-sex couples in California. Let me emphasize that: it was a ballot measure that took away a civil right that had already been recognized by the courts of that state. And Rick Warren spoke out in favor of taking away that right.
And this is the man whom Obama has chosen to speak at his inauguration.
It is one thing to want to reach out to one’s opponents, to want to engage them in dialogue that may lead to a better understanding among people, and a finding of common ground.
It is quite another thing to provide a pulpit for a bigot at a national event like one’s inauguration. An event intended to be for ALL Americans.
This was, without a doubt, the first major fuck-up of the Obama administration. And he’s not even in the White House yet.
It turns out that the Obama transition team has a website where one can send one’s thoughts, concerns, hopes, et cetera, to members of the new administration.
If you are troubled by the choice of Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration like I am, I urge you, my dear non-existent readers, to go to the site and express your concern. Here’s what I wrote:
To whom it may concern –
I understand and approve generally of the President-elect’s desire to reach out to people with different beliefs, to try to bring them to the table. After so many years of divisive politics, I think the steps the incoming administration has taken to reach across the aisle are generally commendable.
Having said that, I really must protest the decision to invite Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration. There is a difference between reaching out, and providing a platform at such a high-profile event to someone who is on the record expressing such bigoted viewpoints, someone who actively campaigned to take away civil rights from a large portion of the population. A segment of the population that largely supported you in your election efforts, no less.
I am not a member of the GLBT community. But I have many friends who are, and this action seems like a slap in the face to them.
There are better ways to reach out to your opponents – ways that don’t require you to slap your friends in the face. Invite the man to dine with you, engage him in dialogue – these things are of the good. But please don’t provide him with a platform to spew his hatred, his bigotry, at an event that is intended to unite the country.
NB: Updated at bottom of post. -jd
Hey everybody, lookit what I just found:
It appears that some Political Science professor named Marc Turetzky, of Gavilan College (in Gilroy, California, home of the always fragrant Gilroy Garlic Festival) has set up one of those “Rate My ______” sites.
There are a whole mess of these things. Rate My Picture. Rate My Life. Rate My Date. Rate My Rack. The one I’m most familiar with is RateMyProfessors.com, because hey, grad student here. This one is new, though:
It’s time to play Rate My Congressman!
It’s set up in blog format, one blog post per Representative. Visitors to the site are invited to rate their Representative in the Comments.
At least, that’s what I assume we’re supposed to do. It looks like the professor has been setting it up this weekend. He seems to be going state-by-state, with each state being it’s own blog category. As I type this, only about twenty states are up. But hey, lookee here…it appears that he’s already added all the California representatives.
And here’s our beloved House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
No one’s left a comment yet.
How could I possibly resist?
To Professor Turetzky:
It looks like you are still setting this blog up. I don’t know if you are doing this in connection with a course you are teaching, or if this is for general public consumption, but I stumbled across your blog and really couldn’t resist.
When Nancy Pelosi rose to the position of Speaker of the House after the 2006 elections, a lot of people, myself included, thought that we would finally see an end to the Bush administration’s illegal and unconstitutional actions at home and abroad.
Surely, with the Democrats now controlling the House of Representatives, we would see some real oversight, some investigation into the many, many scandals that seem to have become business as usual over the past few years.
Surely, Ms. Pelosi would use the powers granted to her by the Constitution and laws of this country to at the very least ensure that no further damage was done to our civil rights, our dignity, and our reputation among other nations.
Surely, she would guide the House of Representatives along a course that would rein in the worst abuses of the Bush administration.
Surely, you jest.
Almost immediately, she made it clear that impeachment – the most powerful tool granted to Congress to control illegal acts by the executive branch – was off the table.
The reason for doing so has never been clear to me. If ever there were a president deserving of impeachment, it would be the current Decider in Chief. His crimes against our constitution, against our laws, and against humanity are almost too numerous to itemize at this point. Failure to impeach such a man under these circumstances would itself be a failure by Congress to uphold its responsibilities under the constitution.
And yet, the president has not been impeached, despite efforts by Kucinich and others, despite widespread public outcry.
Because Speaker Pelosi declared that impeachment was off the table.
Furthermore, she has repeatedly caved in to Bush’s craven demands for yet more power, yet more authority, and has allowed yet more money to be poured into the pockets of corporations like Halliburton, KBR, and Blackwater as part of his unending war on Iraq.
The Democrats have a strong majority in the House of Representatives. It is not like the Senate, where they can only be said to control the chamber because Lieberman is still caucusing with them.
It should have been relatively simple to prevent Bush from shoving through measures that were antithetical to our nation’s governing documents. Measures like the revised FISA bill that passed recently.
What was it Nancy Reagan always used to say? Just say, “No.”
And yet somehow, Pelosi did nothing, or next to nothing. And we are now faced with an even graver situation, both domestically and internationally, than we were in 2006.
And while we are rating Speaker Pelosi’s performance, let us not forget that recent weeks have brought the revelation that Speaker Pelosi was among the Democratic House leaders who were briefed on the “enhanced interrogation techniques” that have been used by Americans against others in recent years. She knew we were torturing prisoners as a matter of federal government policy, yet she did and said nothing.
To be fair to Speaker Pelosi, she has managed some good things during her tenure as House Speaker. There have been times when she and her colleagues have stood together to pass important legislation opposed by the president, or to block legislation he tried to force through.
But many of those victories seem to have been only temporary ones. The House initially held strong against the FISA expansion and telecom immunity provisions, for instance, yet when faced with repeated demands from the Bush administration, the Democrats eventually caved.
Is it fair to blame Pelosi for that? Maybe not. But I can’t help thinking that Tip O’Neill wouldn’t have let some of that crap through.
Looking around the site here, I cannot find any rating metric for rating our representatives, so I guess it is up to me as the first commenter to propose one…
Hmmm…this is actually trickier than it sounds. I have several ideas, actually, but the WordPress restrictions on HTML don’t seem to allow for inserting little icons in one’s post, which rules out a couple of my ideas. For instance, I was going to go with little pink pigs, because, well, our representatives in Washington are feeding at the public trough, and also there’s the nice Orwellian tie-in with Animal Farm.
But that’s probably overly cynical, isn’t it? After all, I’m sure there are people who want to say nice things about their representatives. I mean, not me, because I’m in Redstatesville, and my representative is a rubberstamper who votes however Bush wants him to. But surely there must be SOME people who actually like their representatives, no matter how low the approval ratings are for Congress these days, right?
How about this: we can use the symbol for dollars ($) as the rating icon. It’s perfect, because it can carry so many meanings — the tax dollars that they waste (or occasionally use wisely), the campaign contributions they receive from the lobbyists and heads of major corporations, the federal dollars they are able to direct to their home districts via earmarks, the bribes they receive…the possibilities are endless.
So, using a one ($) to five ($$$$$) scale, with five representing the best one could possibly hope for in a congressional representative and one representing pond scum:
My overall rating for Nancy Pelosi is: $$
Though to be fair, I would have given her two and one half dollar signs, if I could just figure out how to get half a dollar sign to appear.
Ah, well, maybe someone else will come up with a better rating system.
Update: It looks like the person running the blog is moderating the comments – unmoderated was too much to hope for, wasn’t it? I thought they were unmoderated because I could see my comment after I submitted it, but I found out no one else could. So if you follow the links in this post, you won’t see my comment over there – at least not yet.