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The end of any year is often a time of reflection. Looking back to see what went right, what went wrong. This year, we could perhaps benefit from such retrospection more than other years.
I was going to refer to 2008 as “a kidney stone of a year,” but I was almost certain I had heard that phrase elsewhere, likely in something by Hunter S. Thompson. A quick Google search of the phrase didn’t reveal the original source, but it did show three other people describing 2008 in those words, so at least I’m not alone in thinking of it that way.
On a national level, we saw a further…what’s the word I want? crumbling? eroding? collapsing? disintegrating?…let’s go with… deterioration of: our civil rights, our privacy, our status overseas, the situation in Iraq (notwithstanding all the neocons rushing to claim the surge has been a “success”), the situation in Afghanistan, the economy, the health care system, our schools, our infrastructure (Rachel Maddow’s favorite word), the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip, the environment, and…well…it’s a really long list, actually.
So maybe we should think of 2008 as the year when the whole house of cards we’ve all been living in fell to the floor.
There was the presidential election, which filled up our ears for way too many months with noise and lies and distortions and endless debates and oh the spinning and spinning and spinning and stop the world, please, I’m getting dizzy.
Before that, though, we had the primaries, and the caucuses, and the conventions, and the polls, and the protests and…well, you were there. You heard it.
There were a lot of lows, but there were a few highs, as well. Particularly toward the end of the year.
For a nice change, we had a presidential candidate that appealed to our hopes, rather than hammering at our fears. We dodged the bullet of a McCain/Palin administration, four more years that would most likely have looked like the last eight, except less organized, and instead managed to elect the smart guy over the guy people would like to have a beer with. Thought I suspect Obama would be way more fun to have a beer with than McCain, anyway.
And there was the nice bit about finally electing someone who isn’t a white male to the highest office in the land. That part was pretty cool.
But the economy is bad, and likely to get worse before it gets better. People are losing their homes, their jobs, and their retirement investments. We’re probably going to see a lot more people moving in with other family members to save money, and we’re already seeing more people living on the street.
It’s a scary situation.
And yet, with the new year comes hope.
In twenty days, we will be rid of alleged president George Walker Bush.
We will have strong Democratic Party majorities in both houses of Congress.
Let’s hope they use their new power for good. Let’s hope they actually use their power, instead of allowing themselves to be conned by Republicans into thinking they don’t dare use the power we gave them to change things.
Hope is good.
I have some ideas for a new project for myself in the new year…something that will involve this blog – or perhaps a separate blog created specifically for the project…more on that soon. But I think some more changes are coming in the life of yours truly, that I hope will be interesting for you all, and ultimately, perhaps profitable for me. We shall see…
In the mean time, happy new year, everyone!
And stay safe.
p.s. And lest there be any doubt about it…I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.
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.