The Legacy of Nine Eleven?

Driving to work today, I drove by a home in our neighborhood where they had mounted a huge American flag on a flagpole attached to a tree. I thought of all the people who had their lives taken from them on 9/11/2001, and all the people who had someone ripped from their hearts on that day.

I have visceral memories of watching the towers go down. I was stupefied, horrified, and angered. But above all, I was sad. I felt hollow to my core.

I also gave thought, this morning, to all the people who have died in the aftermath of the events of that day. I am a Liberal, and so I am predisposed to dislike war, but I think everyone can find room in their hearts to decry the end results of the second war on Iraq, entered into on the pretext of security/revenge for 9/11, but against a country that was ultimately determined to have had nothing to do with those attacks.

Let me repeat that.

The People of these United States went to war with Iraq because we were told Iraq was responsible for 9/11, except that it turns out they were not. Saddam Hussein was a ruthless dictator, yes, killing with abandon and with no fear of retribution. But Syria’s Assad is the same, and our country has no will to fight that fight. We were told we went to war with Iraq to avenge, and prevent, any further 9/11s.

This is part of the legacy of 9/11:

  • Victims killed on 9/11 itself: 2,977 (source)
  • US Military killed in the Iraq War since 2003: 4,409 (source)
  • Iraqi citizens killed in the Iraq War since 2003: over 100,000 (source)
    (These numbers are from various Wikipedia articles, fwiw, and that last number is the lowest of estimates)

Here’s what I take away from this.

Terrorists attacked our country, killing innocent people in numbers staggering to behold. Almost three-thousand people died on that single day. In reaction, and for no good reason, we sacrificed almost four-thousand five-hundred of our bravest men and women, and had a hand in killing or provoking the deaths of over one-hundred-thousand people, most of them as innocent as the original 3,000 who died eleven years ago.

I think today is a day to hang our heads in shame, and in anger. That we were attacked. That innocents have died. That we reacted so childishly, so violently, with such patriotic fear. We did the work of Evil for them. We killed thousands of our own, and a hundred thousand innocents died because of us.

I am sorry.

And I still find myself, on this day eleven years later, ineffably sad.

Good TV tonight

I absolutely love it when my wife claps at the television. It expresses a kind of deep-felt passion that my… what, my personality, won’t let me deliver. I fall instead at the snarky end of the spectrum.

Tonight, she was in fine form as William Jefferson Clinton delivered (what might have been) the best speech of his career. He made all the arguments we have desperately wanted someone to make against the Republican plan, and in a very public forum. He crushed, as the kids put it these days.

Let me just say, I’m glad Bubba is on our side.

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Shopping at jcp this week end

I think I might need to shop at jcpenney more now (and we’re going clothes-hunting this week end). It used to be the place we went last, usually for a winter coat, if we’d bombed out elsewhere, but I’ve been trying to think more favorably about them recently, given their Apple-alum CEO. This may just have clinched it for them.

JC Penney Launches Father’s Day Ad Featuring Gay Dads And Their Kids

Gay Dads whoopin it up for low prices

Gay Dads whoopin it up for low prices

Picture (and story) found at Joe.My.God.

This is not the religious freedom you are looking for

Attention, religious conservatives decrying the government’s crackdown on your religious freedom: you’ve got it all wrong. See, you think religious freedom means you have the right to practice your religion wherever, and whenever, you like. Not true.

Religious freedom actually means “freedom from religion.”

Let me explain.

Clearly, you are free to practice whatever religion you like. We agree on that. I cannot force you to practice my religion. Likewise, you can’t make me practice your religion. Nobody is dragging anybody into a church here. Your religious freedom is actually the freedom to not be dragged into my church.

In other words, you (or your daughter) are free to not wear a hijab. Not your religion, so nobody’s going to make you do it. Awesome. That also means that my kids are free to not pray in public school. Not their religion, nobody’s going to make them do it. Double-rainbow awesome.

So nobody imposes their religion on anyone else. Religious freedom in America, as the founding fathers envisioned it. Huzzah! Don’t you think we should all be able to agree on that?

Please apply this to your own life. And get your religion out of mine. Thanks.

Go Vote

If there was one, single thing we could do to make our country better, this would be it: ensure that every eligible voter has the right, and understands the duty, to vote. Every voter, every vote. Can you imagine the upheaval if our representative government was actually elected by everyone it represented, not just the ones with the education, the means, and the empowerment to get out and vote?

Wow.

In the meantime, won’t you be sure to vote tomorrow? Even your vote counts for something.

Thanks.

One of the reasons I hate the conservatives

I was bitching this morning to my wife about the recent O’Donnell/Coons debate where she insisted the Constitution did not preclude the government from influencing religious preference, and about the conservative reaction to what she said (She’s right! It doesn’t actually say “separation of Church and State” in the Constitution!), and my seven year-old couldn’t really follow me, so I came up with an analogy. I paraphrase it here for an older audience, with Ms. O’Donnell and Mr. Coons standing in for the conservative response to our ridicule of her, and sanity, respectively:

O’Donnell: Is the sky blue?

Coons: Well, sure, but sometimes it is pink, and orange, sometimes it is black, or a really dark blue, and when it is cloudy, it’s gray, or white…

O’Donnell: So you’re saying the sky is not blue?

Coons: Well, it looks blue, but that’s actually the light reflecting off particles in the atmos…

O’Donnell: Is this the kind of person you want as your Senator? A man who says the sky is not blue?

Coons: Um…

O’Donnell: These are the basic truths that the Democrats deny! The hardworking workers of working America know the sky is blue. Yet you and your Government impose your views on what we know is undeniable. The sky, it is blue!

Coons: Fuck you.

The previous statements are not actually by Ms. O’Donnell or Mr. Coons, as I think she came off better in the above than in the actual debate.

Up to Date: Morone on Health Care

James Morone on Presidents and Health Care – Chair of Political Science at Brown University, talks with a local KC radio host about National health care and the Presidents who have tried (or succeeded, in the case of LBJ) to pass it. It is in the second half of the show, so you might just skip to it, but totally fascinating. He was so interesting they ended up taking just one call.

Photos, Front Pages, and Secrets of the Campaigns

There’s a lot to read out there post election, about the dysfunctional McCain campaign workings (imagine them running the country), about Obama’s plan (to be patient, apparently), about the future of the GOP (no future for you!), etc. But I found a couple of things I like best so far:

Two more since lunch:

Post Election Wrap

First, and I feel I need to get this off my chest: Boo-ya!  Take that, Permanent Republican Majority.  In your face.

Okay, thanks.

We watched CNN most of the night last night, except for one period of time between when they called Ohio and they called the Presidency, when the CNN pundits clearly knew Obama had won, but were not being allowed to say so.  Most salient during this period was when John King tried to show how McCain couldn’t win by giving him every single state left in the Union and showing how it didn’t add up to 270, when instead he could have just added California, Oregon, and Washington to Obama’s total and shown how he had more than 270.  I got so irritated by this (I actually felt insulted by them) that I switched to ABC’s coverage for half an hour or so.

But during our stay with ABC we only got to hear Cokie Roberts once, and George Will less than that, and frankly, seeing George and Charlie and Diane each at their Command Station™ made me yearn for CNN’s crowded Island of Opinion™, so we went back.

One of the best coverage comments of the night came from James Poniewozik on Time’s liveblog of the event, “God, switching over from the frantic cable news to Shields and Lehrer conversing on PBS is like listening to the Ents talk in The Lord of the Rings. Pontificate faster!”

From stuff I’ve read, it seems none of the Nets had the cojones to call it earlier than the poll closings on the West Coast.  Which I guess is okay, given the need to get voters out for Prop 8 in California.  But really, everyone with half a brain and elementary math knew it was over.  The Time liveblog noted the lack of a Tim Russert, a Big Dog, as they characterized him, able to buck the conventions and call it early.  RIP, Tim Russert.

As for what I thought (beyond my pithy one-liner at the top of this post), I had a couple of very random thoughts as I got ready for bed last night.  I Twittered one of them, but I’d like to expand on it a little.

My boys are 2 and 5.  The two-year-old sees Obama signs in yards (and on my chest) and declares “Rock Obama!”  But the five-year-old understands enough to know that Mommy and Daddy were eager to see Barack Obama win.  For my birthday he drew me a picture of Barack Obama (in a rocket, I think, I’ll have to find it and post it).  He was happy this morning when I whispered to him who had won, and gave him a great big hug.  But who am I kidding, he doesn’t know what the Hell is going on.  But I do.  I know that he will grow up in a world where black men (men, I realize, not women) know that they can be President.

The world is better.  In a small, tiny way, I have made it better.  For my children.  Damn.

Then, as I was falling asleep, I thought to myself, what is Obama going to do with his web site?  Will the White House site be turned in to a bully pulpit like barackobama.com?  That would be all kinds of awesome.  All kinds.

Election resources for the weary and overloaded

I have been looking for the easiest way to understand what is going to happen tonight as the polls begin to close.  These are the resources I am marshalling to my defense:

  • Rundown of what to look for tonight – Taegan Goddard’s awesome schedule for tonight, when the polls close, what to look for each hour, and what it all will mean.  This is by far the best thing I have found (better than Josh Marshall’s, because it is shorter, by a lot), and I will be printing it out.
  • Google’s election results map – Hard to know if it will be helpful until the results start coming in, but I hope it will be a good place to go to bask in the Blue glow.
  • All purpose drink – So many ways to enjoy your alcohol.

I am also lining up my favorite political blogs (warning, partisanship ahead!) so I can roll in the hay, as it were, and enjoy, sweet, sweet revenge.  And, you know, all the healing and stuff the country needs, etc.  

That Princeton Band thing is an inside joke I will never explain.  Sorry.