A Rose By Any Name

Gravestone of Iraq war hero Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan in Arlington National Cemetery, with his grieving mother.General Colin Powell announced that he was going to vote for Barack Obama, and it’s all the twitter. Calling Obama “transformational” and his own Republican Party “narrower and narrower,” Powell lent the considerable heft of the former general, chair of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State to the candidate that some have said was too inexperienced and lacked judgement.

But this was not the most important thing he did on Meet the Press.

I think that the most important thing that he did was call out the members of his own party who find the practice of Islam a disqualification for the presidency.

I cringe every time someone denies that Barack Obama is Muslim. It goes like this.

“Obama is a Muslim”

“No, he’s not,” said like there is something wrong being Muslim.

Imagine saying there is something wrong with being Catholic, or Jewish. Or think about when you hear boys say, “You are such a girl” as if it’s an insult to be a girl–like their mother, like my mother or my sister. Making who people are synonymous with “you are bad” or “you are a dirty, filthy mother****in’ terrorist” is simply WRONG.

When General Powell told the story of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a twenty year old native of New Jersey who made the ultimate sacrifice of a soldier in Iraq, he reminded us of the best in Americans. And in doing so, called on us all to be the best Americans we can be.

So, we should all learn the name of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. He is a hero. An American hero. And we should all learn that we can be heroes, too.

Yes we can.

Cautionary Tale

President Bush clears brush from his ranch in Crawford, Texas. It's part of his workout routine at the ranch.The NYTimes has a piece today talking about the long-term effects of binge-drinking. To sum it up, binge drinking causes long-term damage that causes even sober rats to

…to stay the course, a diminished capacity for relearning and maladaptive decision-making. —Dec 29., “The Hangover That Lasts”

The author, a psychiatrist, recommends that you NEVER binge drink, but if you do, start after 40. And, if you did binge drink young, exercise can help regenerate those dead brain cells.

Damn, I wish that the President worked out more.

Under International Scrutiny

According to China View–or Xinhua.net–The Hindu, and news websites world wide, Americans want the Bush presidency to be OVER. So now everybody in the world knows.

Enough! No mas! We say, “Uncle!”

But darn it, we got 721 days, 13 hours and counting, until the new guy* comes in.

So, it doesn’t matter if the people are sick of the administration. It doesn’t matter if a bit more than two-thirds think that the president disregards facts when making decisions. It doesn’t matter if 7 out of 10 Americans disapprove of the job President Bush is doing.

And the whole world can see that we–in this great democracy of ours–need to figure out within our laws how to make this president respond to the will of the people.

And it’s hard work. The president and his henchmen continue to spew their dream state point-of-view. We will march; we will protest; we will write letters to the editor, and to Congress. All the while, Congress is trying to figure out how to move this intransigent President away from bad policy and still support the troops we have asked to fight this war.

And as I write this, I find myself getting all patriotic. Standing up on a soapbox and saying,

“Look World! This is how we disagree in a democracy. It isn’t instant. It doesn’t happen in a coup. It happens according to the rule of law, the rule of our constitution.” And THAT’s how we do it downtown.

* “Guy” like in a generic, genderless sense.

Family Affair

That “great” expert, Liz Cheney (aka daughter of the VP), is sniping at Hillary in the Post today. I will wait a second while you read it.

Liz, like her dad, uses redirection and name calling to make her point–that anyone who disagrees with the White House Iraq policy is spineless, chicken, misinformed, cowardly, anti-patriotic, and wants to support terrorists on our shores. Whatever!

[Aside: I am tired of supporting the Cheney family. Liz is “former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs,” and has been at the high-end of the political appointee trough since 2000–with time out for the 2004 campaign and to birth her fifth child. Add up hers and the top federal salary of her husband, #5 at Homeland Security, and we can see how a doting grandmother can keep her five grandchildren close to her in financial security. They had to pull in at least $300K.]

And for all that experience and know-how, we get the regurgitation of the worst, least sophisticated “stay the course and WIN!” arguments.

But why Liz? Why now?

Looks like the Republicans are terrified of Hillary Clinton. A few short days after Hillary throws her hat into the presidential ring, the Republicans trot out a working mother to tell us how awful it would be to have the Senator-mother as the President-mother. Hillary’s favorable numbers were especially good with women. The Clinton campaign must be crowing since they got this early, full-frontal attack.

But back to the issue at hand. Liz, I know you didn’t write the “op-ed,” but let me pose a question. Despite the lack of military service in your family, would you encourage your two sons to fight in Iraq when they grow up? C’mon Liz, break the mold. Be authentic.

Full of Something

The Spouse said something disturbing the other day.

Spouse: You know that we will still be in Iraq when the boyz are draft age.
Me: What the hell are you saying THAT for????

We have tried to raise the boyz to be responsible, to take responsibility, to be responsible for others. Is the payoff watching them ship off to Iraq?

Both have independently said that they would fight for their country. And that they would do their duty. Me, I am looking for swampland in Vancouver. Anyplace to save them.

Then I had an epiphany.

They wouldn’t let me save them. And that I am proud of them. Proud every time they get up from their seat on the subway for an elderly man. Proud every time they hold the door open for people entering the school. Proud every time they bend down to hear a little kid’s secret. Proud of every time they cringe at violence in a movie. Proud of every time I see them at a game, with their hands over their huge hearts, singing to the flag.

But I still have that swampland in the back of my head.

Why Does A Muskrat Guards His Musk?

Cowardly Lion/Bert Lahr

Most people now think that the President’s thing in Iraq is a bad idea. And there’s evidence that our actions might be making things worse. In addition, the party of morals and values might be having trouble on many levels, here and here. Oh, and that the top folks in the White House are living in denial.

The response of the opposition party? Outside of kicking up some dust, saying that the Republicans are bad guys or bad guys, it’s the same cowardly response. Or lack thereof.

Why say something? If you say something, the other side will use it against you. So just stay quiet. Where is the leadership from the opposition? Well, there is trio Warner, McCain and Graham taking a principled stance on human rights protections for prisoners. Wait, they aren’t the opposition. But they were joined by….well, Dems couldn’t join in because they were waiting for the GOP to eat itself. Which was shortlived when–SURPRISE–there was a compromise and the red-staters took the day. Again.

Sure the Prez was bruised, but the leadership moment, the chance to reach across the aisle, the moment of leading over rough terrain versus bickering like kids on the schoolyard was gone. Poof!

Just before our mayoral primary, my neighbor asked me who I liked. I told her that I liked Adrian Fenty because he had guts. When the Mayor and other council members were touting an early curfew to deal with a violent crime spike this summer, Fenty called the bill what it was–window dressing. The lone wolf on that vote. As the front-runner in a tough election, he ran the risk of the negative riff about being “soft” on crime. And, yes, that happened, but he still won. Soundly.

What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the “ape” in ape-ricot?
Whatta they got that I ain’t got?
Courage.