Thursday, November 30, 2006

Swearing on the Qur'an

Detroit native and Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim Congressman-elect in this country, has said he would to take his unofficial/photo-op oath of office on the Qur'an, and some God-dweebs and TV Talking Schmeds are all up in arms, foaming at their rabidly righteous mouths, saying this little stunt ranks with a terrorist attack which could rend the fabric of American civilization or some such.

The 'fabric of American civilization' schmeed, one minister from On High, who somehow got airtime on CNN, said that the Qur'an didn't agree with "the American bible."


Did I miss something?

The American bible?

I don't recall an American writing a bible. Indeed, I don't recall England, much less the English language as we know it, existing when that document was written... in Hebrew.

Islam and Christianity both got their starts in the hot-head phantasmagoria of the Middle East, no English, no Jesus, no Golden Rule required, just a bunch of made up miracles.

This swearing in on the Qur'an suggests three conclusions:

Firstly, Congressman-elect Ellison may not realize the political scandal and capital this preference may cause in this PetTV Nation.

Secondly, the soon to be honorable Mr. Ellision ought, as a matter of course in the land of the free and the home of the brave, to be allowed and, yes, encouraged to take the oath of office on any document, deity, object, person or empty space he prefers.

And thirdly, if any document be sworn upon by any American elected official, it ought to be none other than the United States Constitution.

Seems we could hold our current president more accountable if indeed He had taken His Oath on the Constitution.

Not that he would have read it. Just that we could read it aloud to ourselves, as a reminder, and then read it back to him.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"Until the Job is Done"

Uh, Mr. President, could you define that, if you don't mind?

What does that oft heard phrase mean, "until the job is done"?

What is the job, exactly?

And how do we define "done"?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Civil War? Got Civility?

Huh? NBC has felt the 'need' to announce, in some sort of official and weighted way, that it will break with the official terminology of this callous White House and bravely go where no major network news crew has gone before -- and call the war in Iraq a "civil war" from now on. Huh? Dear news groupies, viewers and readers, that's a publicity stunt, I'd say, and it reveals, more than anything, how wimpy the major news organizations are. Reporters don't need permission, and they don't need declarations of independence from the Bush administration or any administration to report as accurately as possible. This whoopla reinforces the very American idea that labels and slogans and packaging on the tube are more significant than matter-of-fact reporting. Now there is a debate raging that implies, with great irony, that the words hurt more than the sticks and stones.

And what of the implication, now overt and insistent as offered by the White House, that the Iraqis are responsible for all of thier problems? Would Americans feel responsible for all of our problems if we had an occupying military gunning around in Humvees, taking up fortified positions, sniping away at us from pock-marked street corners from Boston to San Diego?

We'd better put ourselves (or at least the American military and lack of diplomacy) back in the equation and deal with the substance of the situation instead of distracting ourselves (yet again) with stagey and demeaning debates about labels. No matter how foreign, no matter how packaged and televisonized, this is a lot more than a war of words.

And to me, it seems ultimately and entirely UNcivil. Look at what is happening in Iraq. The photos show what it is. It is barbarism.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Friday

Sounds sinister, "Black Friday." What a day to follow Thanksgiving. They just couldn't leave the homey food fest alone, could they, as a rather "non-commercial" holiday supposedly centered around getting some family quality time. Sure, some people used to get some of their holiday shopping done after Thursday's fresh, hot slabs of turkey had become Friday's sandwich scraps, but then the Big Box stores figured they could turn the forth Thursday, a day off, in retail oblivion, when most stores are/were (thankfully) closed, into a shake down for the biggest festival of retail gluttony of the year. So a day of excess eating (and football) is just a prelude to the real game: When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping... EARLY. Like 2 AM. Like five hours before the stores even open.

Is that why they call it "black" Friday? Because it's the only day of the year people line up in the DARK to wait in line to buy new flatscreen HDTVs? Or because it drives the sensible and more humble but un-American semi-fringe-materialists into a deep, deep depression? (Treading lightly is seen as a sign of WEAKNESS in this country.)

Oh, I know it's probably called "Black Friday" because it's meant to put the stores in the black. Get it, folks? It ain't for you they're doing this? It's for the shareholders. And how many shares are you holding? If not many, then what goes around may not come around. All this loot bagging may not trickle down to you. The "black" are PROFITS, and you're not the one profitting.

Really, it used to seem a little whimsical, getting some nice stuff for family and friends. Now, with a raft of early bird fliers and timed offers, it just seems like blood sport. They want you to think the jostling crowds are part of it, as if shopping for appliances is at its best when it's a contact sport.

Sort of like the football that had already broadcast a cancerous pall over a day meant to give humble thanks. For food and some basic necessities. The outright, stadium-sized gluttony of stuff is the name of the game, and the more you spend, the more your credit rating needs a grave digger. The more your credit cards need not a higher spending limit but scissors.

Now spending addicts, I mean sports fans, Best Big Box City's got your number, NOT your best interests at heart.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tilting at Left Leaning Windmills

Most of my left leaning friends are sighing BIG sighs of relief, post November 7th. I'm sure they feel that "taking back the Congress" takes "a big load off [their] shoulders," as one friend told me today -- with a big sigh of relief.

But is the load off? Wasn't this really just a thumpin' for Bush & Co, not a handcuffing? Wasn't it just dressing the windows of Washington with a wave of centrism for the holiday season?

For a week or so it seemed Bush was on the run, and his political capital is down, but he's a friggin' bulldog, and fight is what he knows. So maybe he's in check, for the month, maybe the season, maybe for good, but he's not in checkmate. Game takes a timeout, a huddle, a mix up at command. Then game returns. Game ON.

A precious few of my friends, like Sam, are even more left leaning, and their cynical natures take a decidedly more cautious stance (cautious is putting it MILDLY). Theirs is not 'wait and see' but rather 'wait and you'll see," same as it ever was, same as it ever was, and you may ask yourself, my god, what have we done?

Sam wrote that he might get genuinely hopeful "...when the patriot act is repealed, along with torture, the military commissions act, and warrantless wiretapping, and the DLC/Clinton cabal are merely interested spectators at Democratic conventions. Then there may appear a smile in the corner of my mouth."

Sam puts the fragile euphoria of some thin midterm victories in perspective. Those of us smiling a bit right now at some Senatorial upsets and ousters in the House may not be smiling for long. Still, at least for a few weeks, until Bush shows us once again (and he will) how stubborn and blindsided and intractable he is, many of us are not leaning quite bitterly against the dark towers these days. We're leaning into the light, what little we can get of it as it wanes into the autumnal and downright wintery holidays. Few of us can keep our skeptical guards going quite so well after seeing Bush flustered and flumoxed and, as he put it, getting a thumpin'. It's time to talk turkey, as in the bird and the feast of roast beast we're off to. Politics will come up, as always, at family gatherings, but I'll bet this year, in the wake of this midterm shakeup, most conversations with the relatives will center around more mundane matters, the old American standbys, food and football. Oh, and ok, maybe a little Foley on the side.

After this week of overstuffed turkeys, some pardoning of fowl and other fluff, it's back to wondering woefully what's going on in the darker corridors of the White House. Next week, it'll be back to the big game of Risk, game ON.

Monday, November 20, 2006

abetternation Stands For A Better Nation

This post, just a few days posthaste, marks the second anniversary of A Better Nation, soon to be retitled A Britney Nation.

The midterm elections (and of course Britney) got me fired up to get back into the swing of posting something priceless (or at least FREE) five (count 'em, FIVE) days a week, Monday-Friday, not the S days, which are sabbaths, which means sabbatical, which means some serious NKT (non-keyboard time). I just spend my weekends resting up, waiting to get back to it Monday so all 300 million of you out there in the ABN Twilight Zone will have something to read, there being not enough written these days and what with magazines and Barnes and Borders and Booksense bestsellers and websites sprouting in our in boxes like weeds. Just not enough to read these days and not much else to do besides read, so I've got to keep at it, pull back the covers and hit the ground groaning, legs asleep but figures biting at the bit.

So this is your lucky lifetime, as there are scores more nice and naughty ABN bits coming in the days and decades ahead, me thinks.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Illegal Aliens, Parte Dos

Is it CROWDED in here, or is it just me?

I suppose one reason illegal aliens are getting so much attention right now is the fact that the United States' population is passing the 300 million mark. No other "developed" countries are as populous, nor are any other "first world" countries growing so fast.

On the one hand, it's a popularity contest. Two things: American citizens like to have more children than the citizens of other highly consumptive nations, and lots of people want to become American residents, if not citizens.

And those who want to move here and have the access to do it tend, on average, to want to have even more children than the people already here. And so the growth is accelerating, and how long will it be before we're talking about the "good old days" when the United States had only 300 residents?

For one, at the age of 48, I am nostalgic about the days when the United States had fewer than 200 million residents. Ah, I remember those days like they were only... 40 years ago.

We had millions more acres of rich and lovely farmland where there is now the eyesore sprawl of cracker jack tract houses, prefab businesses and pavement, new seas of pavement, rolling out behind the bulldozers felling farms and forests.

Americans are religious about some things other even more highly developed nations are not. These are very American values: relatively unfettered cutthroat capitalism; private property rights, even when squandering limited resources, ignoring our rather feeble zoning guidelines or otherwise harming others; and above all -- or should I say beneath all? -- that great orgasmic G spot of American civilization, growth. And again, GROWTH.

Americans seem to love the stuff and feel that their brand of capitalism and even the very pursuit of happiness itself depend on loads of GROWTH.

Thus for decades and about a century, Americans' pious adoration of growth has lead us away from lives defined by quality toward lives defined by quantity, away from personal service toward more and more variety, no matter how frustrating and yet shallow the choices.

To not grow? To desire fewer but perhaps better and less costly choices? To scale back? To downsize, downscale, move down the ladder? Only leads to down and out, many would say. And who wants to be a loser? Yep, winning in America is about winning big, crushing enemies, orchestrating hostile takeovers (much admired when they last a few years 'til the news fades). Whether sports teams or the titans of titanic corporations, Americans are not so much into suave finesse. They like their deft and dumb Donalds calling the shots before a TV audience.

The ups and downs are prime time. But the crowding and the bulldozing of our lovely land, these things are only going up.

And, I believe, setting the stage for our downfall. The Big Down.

And so I am not a big fan of any growth sports, including unseemly profiteering, but most of all, the biggest growth sports of all, population and development. We don't NEED more people as much as we need to encourage the people we have already to live with more liberty and to better pursue happiness, and the way to do that is to revise and rearrange ourselves, to live more efficiently, more closely, more communally, yes, with a greater sense of community. And even with more commonality, such as values and language.

America as "the melting pot" is a romantic notion that isn't optimal in the real world. As it turns out, according to sociologists (and felt by many of us, both for and against this experiment in diversity), the melting pot is a factory churning out stress and strife, neuroses and distrust. Indeed, the melting pot is to a large extent causing the meltdown of America.

One way we see that are the current debates about who to let in and who to keep out.

Close the gates? Or love the flood?

[to be continued...]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Illegal Aliens From Another Planet

Now here's a topic that has created "strange bedfellows," to quote one friend. Seems more of you want to know my take on "illegal aliens" than on just about any other topic besides who's going to run for president in '08 (and who could win, who's going to win).

As for illegal aliens, note the words: illegal and aliens. Good old-fashioned, red meat and Freedom Fries pounding Americans are not beyond feeling privileged, and that quickly translates into latent if not outright racism. Yes, need their cheap (read: slave) labor or not, live anywhere near them or not, shooting the sentimental breeze about America as "the great melting pot" OR NOT, it's really just an "I don't feel so good today, and me and my kind are better than them." Like many seething Muslims and in-your-face Jews, too many Americans are suckers for the "God's chosen people" schtick, no matter that their ancestors were immigrants. They'd say that their ancestors were not (most likely) illegal aliens. They were DESTINED to be Americans! "They EARNED it!" By contrast, these frustrated remote-controllers would say the new breed of border bashers aren't lofty minded citizens, not even orderly immigrants under the law, the radio heads would say, they're pirates. They're outlaws.

There ARE actually many reasons to be concerned about the illegal immigrant situation, many good reasons to consider the complexities and inexorable forces involved. But deep down, at heart, what we hear mostly is just the spouting off of misdirected bile, at root tribalism and racism and xenophobia and other fears all over again.

Such Mama And Apple Pie Hotheads don't seem to realize that using one's supposed virtues as swords negates their value as virtues. Radio blather and the newly gutterized "News Talk" are ripe for anger and bile, not subtlety, not even sense. No high school debate team would stoop so low, but then it is a small minority of callers to radio shows who sound as if they ever got out of juvenile detention.

To get down to it, the fear behind these anxious tirades, people here, actual citizens of the first and tenth generations, are in tight spots like mad for their jobs and dreams of ever increasing incomes. They're leveraged to the hilt, meaning they've got wads of credit card debt hounding them already. And they want somebody ELSE to blame for their anguish.

Somebody else to blame.

Taking responsibility is a lot harder than griping.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Alms for O.J.

Poor man. It seems he needs some cash to pay his greens fees in Florida. That name brand, A-team bunch of legal eagles really set him back a decade ago, and his lifestyle, even"not guilty," just hasn't been the same since.

So, if you're already an icon of crass innocence, why not milk your 'would be' crime for all it's worth. Maybe millions, if enough of the public suckers up.

Mr. Simpson's new book and television interview reveal not new levels of crassness but just the same old, same old. Nothing "NEW" here, just more of the same. Murderers (and legions of "Law & Order" watchers) have always been fascinated by a murder, good or botched. And the murderers themselves, profilers tell us, are even more fascinated by those they happen to have committed themselves.

So O.J. just can't quite get over himself, not even out on the golf course, with friends. (And just WHO ARE this guy's friends?) Meanwhile, Mr. Simpson has already proven to himself (and to far too many of us) that there are chumps out there who will, through their lurid addiction to a good murder story, plunk down an hour of their time or upwards of $20 of their own hard-earned money to get back in on the action, even if the case has grown cold.

So shame on the viewers and patrons.

If we watch, we're not innocent victims. We tuned in or read on asking for it.

We can expect many like Mr. Simpson to scrape bottom. And we can expect millions more to scrape there as well.

The irony: All publicity is good publicity in this charade, and every mention may draw more suckers to Simpson's cause celebrere and cash flow.

For the record: Beyond this blog entry, I won't watch, read or pay any heed. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Tides of Impeachment

Let's give credit where credit is due.

In general, the Democrats played it pretty soft to win back the Congress. More than the Dems getting tough, it was the Republicans who handed over some of their own heads on a platter. It's not so much that the Democrats -- much less liberal causes -- won the midterm elections as much as it is the hanky panky, neocons who LOST the elections, so hypocritically righteous they were RIPE for the plucking.

This was not a checkmate election. This was just to put Bush in check, cuff him a bit, give him a "thumpin." You've been a bad little boy, now sit in the corner.

And so it's no wonder that last week, Nancy Pelosi said that "impeachment is not even on the table." Alas, here it is a new week, now barely a week post midterms, and already the tides of impeachment are causing some foaming and frothing. Some ways are breaking.

But as for Peolis, that was and is her table and her table of the immediate post-election, pre-Congressional takeover. That's her Thanksgiving gift to the GOP: we won't go after you until the holidays have come and gone. Her formal reach across the isle is SO 2006. Some are already chomping at the bit, just wait 'til next year!

Others have other agendas, some much more angry and less diplomatic than Pelosi's. And unelected, merely published or heard, they have much less to lose. And so impeachment is in the air and in the news again. Perhaps the vast middle of the country has the impeachment doldrums, and no amount of uncovered misdeeds or outright rancor could bring them on board. And by "on board," I mean seeing that impeaching Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney would be seen as high acts of patriotic duty, above partisan, hen house infighting. That gigantic middle would probably continue to see such proceedings as just more evidence the government is broken and a lot more like their favorite contact sports (football) than they'd care to stomach.

What a tactical advantage the Republicans have on impeachment. Impeach Clinton for sex, and even the mightiest war crimes will seem status quo, oh yeah, we've all seen our taxes wasted before, nothing new there. There is no gentlemen's agreement that says two presidents in a row can't be impeached, but oh, the cost of the thing, and we've already spent too much.

What price justice? Was Clinton's impeachment worth the trouble and the cost? I certainly think not. Would a Bush/Cheney impeachment be worth the trouble and the cost? Yes, I think so. But with this country's short attention span for graft and missing billions and feeling guilty by association with their elected leaders being accused of war crimes, I think many people would say, hey, enough. Just make sure I have a good job that pays me, on the world market, a lot more than I'm worth.

The tide of impeachment is coming in, from the left, and it may go out again soon enough. Or it may turn into a tsunami. Not likely. Lucky bastards.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

It's ok. You can still be a Republican. You don't have to abandon your party, just to do something right in the world -- and leave a better legacy with your name on it.

Now you're seeing you might really get branded as a schmuck, a laddie yet again to be saved by daddy's boys who are already back in town.

Last week was a bad week for your legacy, so bad that by midweek you started showing some of your cards, and it looked for about a half a day there that you might fold. So bad you called in 41's cavalry, and they rushed in to put out fires. Don't we just know, this time, daddy was on the phone for you. Even late at night after you'd retired to tossing and turning.

But it's ok, Mr. Bush. You can keep your head when all about you are about to lose theirs. (Could we recommend Mr. Cheney for first honors?) You can hold onto your office, that wild horse known as the lame duck presidency, for more than TWO MORE YEARS.

So hold your head high. Know that it will be your name on this chapter in the history books. And do some good for a change. We all want to see you do some good. Even your daddy and your mama.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for seeing the light.

You can be born again and make what was sour sweet again. Dear lord, we hope so.


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Lameduck Prince: In Tone Alone?

The post-election mantra of the week is "a more conciliatory tone."

Conciliatory is the word of the week.

True conciliation takes quite a politician, quite a PERSON, someone who carefully considers complex options, someone who truly likes and trusts the goodness in others, someone soulfully high minded.

But Mr. Bush never riseth so high. He certainly, with the cameras running and the "opponents" in the room, speaketh with a forked tongue. Who does he fool with his gloves ON tone? Certainly, he fooled a lot of Americans and millions of voters for years, in four campaigns, two for governor of Texas, two for president.

And yes, Mr. Bush IS more of a campaigner than he is a legislator or administrator. He would rather give a hoo-hah stump speech to a cheering crowd than meet with his own Cabinet, much less the divided aisles of Congress and the contentious alleyways of America beyond the beltway.

But certainly many of us can see what he is doing. He's caught his breath since his deer in the headlights press conference the day after the election, and he's offering finger sandwiches to the Dems, but his mind is made up. If he can't win Iraq his way (the Rumsfeld/Cheney way), then he'll retreat to other pet battles, none of them in the best interests of the country or the world.

It is what you can see when the president smiles. His smile seems nervous, and as he smiles, his eyes never lose their fight or flight ferocity. And so it is with his tone. He knows it's the sort of time a lot of people (and many in his own party) would like to see him being a good diplomat, a genuine diplomat, with the warmth of a Bill Clinton or the convictions of a John McCain, but Mr. Bush is not only out of his league, he is simply not a diplomat. And if he ever comes close to sounding like one, it is in tone alone.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bush's Tug of War

OK, it's not been a day since we learned that Democrats would control the Senate as well as the House, and already, with a nervous grin, Bush is ready to stick the knife in.

Seeing his lame duckedness looming even larger come January, as in the gloves could come off and the shackles come on, Mr. Bush today asked the current Congress to make sure it gets a bunch of sorry old-Bush/Cheney school stuff done.

Two contentious matters in particular, and these really show the president's stubborn hand. He wants John Bolton cemented in as American Ambassador to the U.N. and, even more significantly, he wants to RETROACTIVELY make legal his domestic surveillance program.

RETROACTIVELY. That's because right now the President's ass is hanging in the winds of wrongdoer, illegal-activity doer, what he might call, should it have been an act of the enemy, "evildoer." (As Bill Maher says, "self loathing is the greatest love of all," meaning Bush hates the evil in others because he hates the evil in himself -- the guy NEEDS enemies. He thrives on the clash of civilizations, the bombast of war. He is a vampire for Baghdad.)

Mr. Bush broke the law, and with the shreds of an upper hand left to him with the clock ticking, he is running for cover. Not that he should be impeached any time soon for his breaking the law. That can wait until the Dems prove they really want to get some stuff done. But the President's breaking the law should not be forgotten or forgiven. He wants to grandfather his own actions. He seems desperate to turn his own crimes into acts of necessity and even heroism.

Fortunately, these further acts of hubris, post-midterms, do not sit well not only with the newly invigorated and emboldened Democrats but with many Republicans who are just now catching glimpses of the Bush administration's Nixonian darkness -- and who want to keep their jobs past 2008.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush Wants to Resign

Neither radio nor audio stream were enough to fully appreciate President George Bush's midday press conference. It was something to see to believe, deer in the headlights looks, disconnects and all. And not just an especially anxious, haphazard, akilter performance, both demonstrative and dismissive. Mr. Bush was all over the podium and all over the map, trying to duck for cover, wanting to get out of the train's way.

The Democrats eeked out an oncoming locomotive, and today that pendulum's headlight is bright. For all to see, the president seemed to be having a multilateral, bipolar hangover.

Bottom line: Mr. Bush doesn't look forward to working with the 'Democratic tsunami' at all. He's now visibly stunned and acutely pained to offer his handshake across the aisle. I don't think he even has much relish for furthering his agenda for the next two long years. I think he just wants to go home.

But with Bush back on the ranch in Crawford, not to worry, Dick Cheney would still be in charge.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bluer States Coast to Coast (Jon Tester and Me)

Up to now, I've let my skepticism guide my words and moods, not wanting to seem naive about yet another electoral letdown.

But here it is late at night, and after watching hours of "winding up for the switch" blather on CNN, I am online, all over the major news sites, watching the rhetorical curveballs flicker, and even more intently watching the precinct and vote total updates in three states: Missouri, Montana, and Virginia.

Florida: pretty good this year. Ohio: downright good this year.

But then there are these three cliffhangers, all that stands in the way of calling this a perfectly clear mandate. I mean, the mandate is darned translucent already, but taking the Senate as well would make the mandate transparent. Then, with "the people have spoken" crystal clear, then only Bush would be still lost in the fog. Cheney and Rove would already have the serial numbers of every train car behind that locomotive, but Bush would be wondering months.

This summer, I had a little hand in the Tester/Burns race in Montana. I got to meet candidate Tester and volunteered a bit. As a culture analyst visiting from Texas, I even got the chance to be a guest on a Bozeman talk radio show that immediately preceeds Rush in the morning, prime time to do a little Conrad Burns bashing, which I did, saying that he'd become infamous well beyond Big Sky Country, that he'd become a bafoon on the national stage and that Montana could do better.

I wanted Montanans to feel lucky they had a choice and a chance, as opposed to those of us struggling from the heart of the biggest red state in the nation. And tonight, it seems just enough Montanans took the chance and ran with it, as opposed to my own state, still locked up in its currupt, cowboy, corporation-steeped brand of politics.

But in bluer states from coast to coast, what an election!

UPDATE: Here's a Salon article that sums up the Tester victory.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Trick or Treat Tuesday

Yes, Halloween has come and gone. No, this post isn't a week late.

I'm figuring we knew pretty much how last Tuesday would turn out: kids in (mostly) cliched and cartoonish costumes apprehensively standing there, expectantly, rushing through the ritual of grabbing the candy glut, with parents waiting in the wings to ward off child molesting neighbors and other evil spirits.

But THIS Tuesday, THIS Tuesday is election day.

Now that's trick or treat for adults, whether you are politically minded or not. Yep, there are rumors that some of these races are about either, (1) Good and Evil, or (2), for those vote-cynics out there, the Lesser of Two Evils.

At least we've got some choices, and one is always better than the other. Yes, it does make a difference. OK, so Barack Obama isn't running this round, but hey, there are still some "better than the other schmoe" choices out there, so go make some!

So what's it going to be? What are we in for?


Or Treat?

Happy Election Day!

Friday, November 03, 2006

What the Midterms Mean

Here's what these midterm elections mean: Will we rejoin the rest of the planet as a major partner? Or will we continue to flip off the world?

"The war" may really turn out to be the issue that turns the tide, at least in the House, but these races are about more than the war, this war or any war.

Some might like to think we can do and say what we want with this planet and other countries, foreigners all, but reputation really does matter. It's your nation's reputation, stupid. And each race sows the seeds of reputations, because remember, many foreigners actually pay closer attention to our reputation (and attitudes and electoral outcomes) than millions of Americans do.

So this is about showing some respect for the global community, for multilateralism, for cooperation vs. competition, for uniting nations vs. pitting them one against another.

Will we rejoin the world? Or will we keep mistaking corrupt bullies for neocon princes at home and war-worthy enemies abroad.

A vote for a Democrat is a vote for diplomacy, and diplomacy is a STRENGTH.