Saturday, September 29, 2012

Conceptualizations of freedom

Todd Akin offers one of his:

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?

AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I'm making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.

This is a pre-civil war conception of freedom. He can embrace the freedom to pay people whatever a business owner wants because he is a white man who has never been discriminated against. But to anyone who isn't a wealthy white man the limitations of free enterprise and the benefits of freedom are apparent.

Notice that he tries to dodge the question. But he doesn't. In a way he is correct that he isn't making a particular distinction. The problem, when he embraces a wide ranging view of free enterprise and the concept of freedom, is that he is making distinctions across the board. He is letting business owners discriminate against whoever they want for whatever reason they want.

The audience member is rightly concerned about how Akin's conceptualization of freedom affects women. But in theory, he would be completely in favor of a business owned by a woman paying men 50% less than their women employees who do the same job, or a muslim businessperson paying all non-muslim employees a lower wage than the muslim employees. It would even mean going back to Jim Crow-style laws that allowed white business owners to deny offering their products to black customers.

But like I said, Akin isn't worried about any of those things because he has never experienced them and he is in a position in which he very likely will never experience them. His concept of freedom is purely about how society can benefit him and people just like him. He has no concept of how the freedom to discriminate can lower the freedom of those being discriminated against.

Though it would be interesting to ask him a follow up question, such as: If you are fine with letting a business pay a woman less than a man are you also ok with a business paying a man or christian (or, Akin himself) less than a woman or a muslim? I'm not sure how he would respond. But based on what he said he would support it in theory. And that should tell you how wrong that theory is if he would discriminate against himself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's always 1979 to Republicans, continued

More evidence arises that Republicans still think it's 1979. The history of the "it's always 1979" mantra can be found in posts here, here, here, and here. This time it's Paul Ryan talking about the middle east:

This week, GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan topped off a critique of President Obama's response to violent demonstrations at American embassies across the Middle East by saying that because of the president's policies, the Middle East "looked like 1979 Tehran" – when demonstrations by Iranian student revolutionaries culminated in the invasion of the US embassy and the taking of 50 hostages in a stand-off that would endure 444 days. It has become all too easy for opponents of Ryan and his boss, Governor Mitt Romney, to level zingers at their foreign policy bloopers, and I had mine all ready: all this does is remind us that Ryan, who was born in 1970 and has no national security experience other than, as he has said, "voting to send our troops to war", has no idea what happened in Teheran in 1979.

But dismissing this soundbite misses the chance to consider two serious assertions that underlie it: first, that what we are seeing in the Middle East right now is a collapse of American policy and interests on a par with how the fall of the Shah and his eventual replacement by a hostile theocracy, the hostage-taking, and the failed rescue effort damaged the US in 1979-80. And second, that it is 1980, "morning in America" again, and Mitt Romney is Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama is Jimmy Carter.

Follow the link to get Heather Hurlburt's take on why Ryan is wrong. I just wanted to point this out as another instance of the "it's always 1979" mantra from Republicans. Just keep this in mind when you hear them talk. Because it seems to be explaining more and more of what they say and do. And in this case, as in most others, it presents a real problem when trying to solve current problems.

And as always, a shout out to Jonathan Bernstein and his blog "A Plain Blog About Politics" for coming up with the "it's always 1979" mantra.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How I Met Your Mother season premiere

I wasn't a big fan of how they ended last season. Ted leaving with Victoria, who left her fiance at the alter, felt extremely rushed. Marshal and Lilly having a baby is nice. But that really limits what they can do with them. And I hated Barney and Robin getting married. It never worked for me. So how did they handle all of those stories in the first episode of the new, and hopefully last, season?

It was ok. It was a cop out to have Victoria's fiance bail on the wedding too. We were given absolutely no background on their relationship. So we really have no emotional investment in them and therefore no reason to care about what should be huge moments in their lives. It's almost like they had the guy bail just so that they didn't make Ted look like an asshole, like they did with Stella.

Lilly and Marshal were simply played for laughs. Ha ha, they aren't getting any sleep because they have a baby. Cliche. The only thing that makes it not boring is the sheer glorious beauty of Alyson Hannigan. It's also a waste of Marshal.

They still have a really long way to go to convince me that Robin and Barney together is a good thing. It was weak to have Quinn freak out simply over hearing that Robin and Barney used to date. Just having that knowledge shouldn't mean she suspects something is between them. It was an easy way for the writers to set up the eventual breakup between Barney and Quinn. And because I never bought them as a couple in the first place, it has almost zero effect on me when Barney shows Robin all the stuff from their relationship.

But the part that saved the episode and what could save the season was the last scene where we finally see the mother and Ted in the same scene. Even with all the not so great episodes and choices made by Ted, I still root for him. So hopefully this is finally the season we meet the mother of Ted's kids. He has waited long enough.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Another "cross on public land" debate

I've discussed this issue before here. I was combing through Andrew Sullivan's blog roll for something to read and came across a site called "Secular Right". I thought it could be interesting given that you rarely hear about anyone on the right being secular. It's not a bad site. But I didn't care for this post regarding some cross that will be in a 9/11 memorial.

I spelled out most of my objections to this type of thing in that first link. I'm not sure if they all apply to this situation. Andrew Stuttaford's post on "Secular Right" doesn't link to the story about the cross, so I don't have all of the info. But I just wanted to point out some things based on what is quoted:

While these battles have become all-too-familiar, there’s one showdown brewing that distinguishes itself from the rest — atheists’ demands that a cross found in the rubble following the September 11, 2001 attacks not be included in a museum that is being planned to commemorate the lives lost during the tragedy.

American Atheists (AA), a group working to advance the secular cause, has been leading the charge against the Ground Zero cross since July 2011, when the organization first filed suit against it. TheBlaze’s Meredith Jessup has explored this issue, in detail, on TheBlaze Blog, where she explained AA’s main arguments against the cross’ inclusion.

“The atheists’ suit claims that by including the cross in a museum on public property, the government is unconstitutionally endorsing a religion,” Jessup writes. “It also asserts that the mere presence of the cross would result in emotional — and possibly even physical — injuries among atheists who will feel anxious and excluded.”

Stuttaford doesn't like AA's objection to this, nor does he care for the other instances they object to. I find that odd since Stuttaford claims to be a secularist. Apparently secularism involves different things for him and I.

Again, I don't have all the info on this. So I don't know if this is really on public land or not. If it's not then put whatever you want up on the memorial. But for argument's sake I'll assume this is public land and a memorial paid for by public money.

On this issue, I just asked in his comments section, what does a cross that was found in the rubble have to do with commemorating the lives lost. What distinguishes this cross from any other object that was in the rubble with it? And why aren't any of those objects being used to commemorate the dead?

I think the obvious answer is that the cross is a religious symbol used by christians to, among many other things, commemorate their dead. I don't see any other reason why this cross would be used in the memorial. So once we all acknowledge that there is a religious motivation or purpose behind using this cross in the memorial, don't we then have to ask whether that is appropriate in regards to secularism in general and the 1st amendment specifically?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rick Perry calls out Satan and secularists

Being the secularist that I am, apparently Satan is making me push for the separation of church and state:

“Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you, and one of the untruths out there that is driven -- is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena," Perry said on a conference call with former pastor Rick Scarborough as part of the “40 Days to Save America” campaign.

He goes on to say:

This separation of church and state, which has been driven by the secularists to remove those people of faith from the public arena, there is nothing farther from the truth. When you think about our founding fathers, they created this country, our Constitution, the foundation of America upon Judeo-Christian values, biblical values and this narrative that has been going on, particularly since the ’60s, that somehow or another there’s this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face. We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God’s truth. You know, are we going to get up and say ‘you are going to vote for X’? No, but we’re going to talk about Christian values. When you think about the issue of life and protecting life, it’s so important that we as Christians put legislation into place, that we elect women that defend life. The idea that we should be sent to the sidelines I would suggest to you is very driven by those who are not truthful, Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven—is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.

No one wants to remove people of faith from the public arena. Well, ok, I wouldn't mind if people like Perry and most Republicans chose to stay in the private sector. But I don't want the gov't to force them out of the public arena like he seems to suggest. We just don't want their faith to dictate public policy. Rick Perry agrees with us. He doesn't want people of Muslim or Buddhist faith to dictate public policy any more than I do. He just wants his own faith to dictate policy. That's the truth Mr. Perry.

The founders did not create the Constitution from judeo-christian values. In fact, many of those founders (Madison and Jefferson in particular) were fighting for secularism long before the 1960s that Perry states. Perry and his fellow Republicans have absolutely no idea what "the founders" did or stood for. They just make this shit up in order to fit their own narrative.

I'll grant Perry, for a second, that he has a biblical responsibility to advance christian values. Notice that to him, the only issue that pertains to is "life". And by "life" he means abortion. He doesn't mean opposing the death penalty (which as Rand Paul pointed out recently, Jesus would probably oppose) or anything about providing people a decent life. He doesn't mean anything Jesus actually preached. He simply means abortion.

Oddly enough his solution to the issue of getting anti-abortion legislation passed is the same as mine, get women elected to public office. The difference is that while I assume women have a different perspective on abortion and will allow for a more open debate on the issue, Perry just believes that if christian women get into office his side will win because he has faith. And he thinks that if some women on his team don't support abortion that will flip the non-christian women.

Rick Perry can believe this and tell it to anyone he wants while in the public arena. But despite what he believes about the founders and the basis of our values, they just aren't true. And I don't need Satan feeding me 'untruths' for me to advance secularism. I just follow the example Madison and Jefferson set for us way back in the glorious time of the founding that Rick Perry has no clue about.

Republicans against the environment

I must me missing something here because I don't completely understand this:

Republican leaders in the House brought to the floor a bill called “Stop the War on Coal Act, “ which seeks to weaken and in some cases overturn laws and rules protecting the very things that Mr. Train stood for – clean air, clean water, a stable climate and fair effective regulation of the big polluters, including but not exclusively the fossil fuel industry.

The bill (which the senate will certainly strike down) contains no new ideas. According to a database compiled by Representative Henry Waxman and the Democratic staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Republicans have voted an astonishing 302 times this year to hamstring the Environmental Protection Agency, weaken clean water and air rules, undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and block action to address global warming – all while seeking to make the regulatory climate as favorable as possible for the oil, gas and coal industries. The virtue of the latest bill (I use the word virtue loosely here) is that it contains just about all of those bad ideas in one place –one-stop shopping as it were, for those who haven’t been keeping up with the Tea Party wrecking crew in the 112th Congress.

The only way I can make sense of this is that Republicans in the House are just shilling for the coal/oil/etc. I don't see the electoral purpose. I would assume the public doesn't mind having clean water and clean air. Their base probably agrees with these actions. But I think it's more about the fact that the EPA is a gov't agency and they reflectively hate all of them aside from defense agencies. Even the conservative base would probably not be huge fans of pollution.

The hatred of federal gov't agencies could be the biggest driver. But I don't think it explains trying to limit that agency 302 times. I'm not aware of them taking the same initiative to dismantle other agencies. They might in theory hate the Department of Education just as much as the EPA, but there aren't interests as big as coal/oil companies that stand to benefit from it's dismantling.

I could get into the ideological problems with favoring pollution. Even conservatives' beloved Hayek favored environmental regulation. But they just don't care about ideological consistency. And they seem to care less and less about being seen as shilling for big business interests. Not caring about how they are perceived combined with the backing of those businesses could mean problems for the environment now and going forward.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney goes malicious again

Coming off his ridiculous comments about the attack on our embassy in Libya and the death of our ambassador I didn't think Romney could say much more that would surprise me. And granted, he was talking to a group of potential donors. But these remarks did surprise me:

In his comments, Romney says that “these are people who pay no income tax,” but they are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Republicans in general think this and say it frequently. But I don't recall this kind of bluntness and embrace of conservative rhetoric before. Ezra Klein does a good job on the technical problems with it in that link I posted above. I'll also send you to Jamelle Bouie for more commentary.

I'll just point out that he obviously has a very narrow definition of "dependent upon gov't". Everyone gets something from the gov't. It's just that Romney and conservatives only believe you are being dependent upon gov't if they aren't getting the benefits too.

For example, he suggests that the gov't doesn't have a responsibility to care for people. Again, it depends on how you define care. But ensuring people's safety is a core function of gov't. And this is something Romney and conservatives value greatly, as evidenced by their desire to increase defense spending. But defense spending benefits them, so it's not an entitlement and they aren't lazy for accepting the benefits.

It's the same for health care. Old people are the biggest beneficiaries of health care entitlements. And most old people vote Republican. So obviously Romney directs that part of his comment only to children, disabled, and poor adults who benefit from health care entitlements.

The part that really surprises me and makes me angry is the suggestion that no one is entitled to food or housing. How can you believe in the rights to life and liberty without believing that you should have some basic amount of food and shelter? You can't live without those things. Liberty means nothing without those things. If you don't think a child should be entitled to have food and shelter what is the point of claiming that child had an absolute right when it wasn't even born yet?

Modern Republicans are just completely freaking nuts. Where they don't have an inconsistent jumble of ideological values they have crazy ones. I hope Romney was just playing to his base here. It would be nice if he really didn't believe this. But even if he doesn't, he would still have to work with a Republican congress that largely does believe the things he said. And that should scare the shit out of anyone who isn't a rich white man.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The disgrace that is Guantanamo Bay

Conor Friedersdorf reflects on the death of a prisoner:

If the unjust incarceration of Adnan Latif inspired in conservatives even a fraction of the concern that they had for Scooter Libby; if liberals felt for him a small part of the outrage that they muster on Sandra Fluke's behalf; if President Bush had been a bit more careful in who he detained, or if President Obama had closed just the portion of Guantanamo Bay holding prisoners cleared by American intelligence agencies for release; if the federal judiciary were slightly less inclined to defer to dubious government claims in habeas cases; or if Congress were less derelict in its duty to preserve and protect the Constitution -- if any of those things were true, the Yemeni man might still be alive, and his death, a possible suicide, wouldn't disgrace us.

But he is dead.

Held for years on end without trial in a cage thousands of miles from home, he endured interrogations, indignities, and depression long enough to be cleared for release. The U.S. government kept him locked up for years longer. Despairing, he died this week, and even in death, his treatment evokes less outrage in Americans than the week's most controversial tweets.

This despite the fact that there are numerous reasonable doubts about his guilt.

In 2010, Judge Henry Kennedy looked at the Obama Administration's actions and decided that it was holding Latif unjustly. Kennedy ordered Latif's release, at which time President Obama and Eric Holder, who had sworn they'd close Gitmo, appealed in order to continue incarcerating one of the detainees that their own task force had already recommended for release. Sadly, they won on appeal, with Judge Janice Rodgers Brown writing the statist majority opinion in a 2-1 decision that, for reasons too complicated to get into here, has worrying implications for all of our habeas rights.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the case, putting Latif in this situation: No one had ever proved his guilt, multiple groups of experts had recommended his release, and yet he had no prospect of securing it, for there was no one left to whom he could appeal. If he committed suicide, can you blame him?

No. I couldn't blame him. It's a disgrace that we deny these people rights. It's a shame that no one seems to care.

Romney goes from clueless to malicious on foreign policy

Actually, it appears that he will always be clueless on foreign policy issues. It's bad enough he doesn't take the time to understand the issues and give them serious thought. Beyond that, he surrounds himself with advisors who half understand the issues and suggest ridiculous policies.

Given those two problems, it's not surprising that he would have a poor response to the embassy attack that killed our ambassadors. But I wasn't sure he was capable of the completely partisan and malicious response he gave.

I'll send you to Andrew Sullivan for the specifics. Andrew suggests that Romney's reaction is a sign that he is unfit to lead. I'd certainly agree. But it's not the first sign that he is unfit to lead our foreign policy. I doubt it will be the last. I just hope that with the economy being the biggest issue foreign policy doesn't get overlooked.

Explaining introverts

This is a nice introduction to us introverts for those of you who are extroverts and don't quite understand us, or to fellow introverts that could help explain your own behavior and why you shouldn't feel awkward.

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is "too serious," or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren't caring for him properly.

I certainly do and have been accused of doing those things. I'll talk your head off if I know you and we are alone. But if I'm in a group of people I'll barely get a word in.

Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say "Hell is other people at breakfast." Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

I can find anyone tiring given enough time with them. As crazy as it sounds, I'd probably get tired of Joss Whedon, Kristin Kreuk, James Madison, and Sarah Michelle Gellar after a while. Granted, I have a really short fuse with people I don't like or don't know. But I need time away from even people I love.

For one thing, extroverts are overrepresented in politics, a profession in which only the garrulous are really comfortable. Look at George W. Bush. Look at Bill Clinton. They seem to come fully to life only around other people. To think of the few introverts who did rise to the top in politics—Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon—is merely to drive home the point. With the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, whose fabled aloofness and privateness were probably signs of a deep introverted streak (many actors, I've read, are introverts, and many introverts, when socializing, feel like actors), introverts are not considered "naturals" in politics.

I'm often asked if I want to run for office someday. And I often respond with the fact that I don't think I have the personality to do it. But as I read this article and learn that Obama is an introvert, I'm beginning to warm to the idea, or at least that it would be possible. We certainly seem to need more introverts in politics and in positions of power across society.

In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. "People person" is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like "guarded," "loner," "reserved," "taciturn," "self-contained," "private"—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

I am those things, at least some of the time. And while I understand how they can be perceived as bad things, they shouldn't be, at least not all the time and in all circumstances. It might go against what introverts are wired to do. But at least some of us should speak out more about our differences and explain that those differences don't have to be bad things.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

God in the campaign

This actually took longer to happen than I would have guessed:

“That pledge says ‘under God.’ I will not take ‘God’ out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart. We’re a nation bestowed by God.”

And here...we...go,the pledge is a made up thing that was changed by a bunch of christianists in the mid 20th century to include 'god'. Your platform is moronic dribble. You should take god off our coins because it's unconstitutional. If you don't think it's unconstitutional then I want my money to say "In Batman I trust". Maybe Batman could do a better job of getting us out of this bad economy. God may be in your heart but you have no fucking clue what Jesus taught., we aren't.

If Romney wasn't such a hackish empty suit that just wants power this would have annoyed me as much as it normally does. Though I guess I have to worry that Romney is so scared that conservatives don't trust him that he will do more to follow through on this ridiculous religious stuff more than Bush did. As with several issues, it's not like Obama is a lot better. But this is certainly reason #1324 that even if you have issues with Obama you still shouldn't vote for Romney.

Update: This is why I said Obama isn't much better than Romney on this issue:

Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters traveling with the president in Florida, according to a pool report. "The president believes as much that God should be taken off a coin as he does that aliens will attack Florida. It’s an absurd question to be raised.”

It's absurd that Obama has the same position as Romney on this issue, and that the question should even be raised. I'm sure Obama believes in the issue only slightly less than Romney and conservatives. But he obviously won't even bother suggesting there is another side to this issue because he doesn't want to piss off voters. And that's why these unconstitutional policies never get changed. Until a Democratic politician gets some courage, In Batman I Trust.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dolphins vs Texans

It's nice to have the NFL back. I was excited to see the Miami Dolphins play their first game. But I wasn't as excited as I probably have been in seasons past. That's because I just don't expect the team to compete for a spot in the playoffs. And that's mostly because we have a rookie in Ryan Tannehill starting at QB. Still, I enjoy the season no matter what and at least I might get to see our QB of the future develop.

Tannehill didn't look bad the whole time this Sunday against the Texans. Houston was a very good team last year and they should be as good this season. So I didn't expect us to win this one on the road. But for much of the first quarter we played well and even got the lead. That's because they really coddled Tannehill and got a decent effort from the running game and defense.

But Tannehill make a rookie mistake on a slant route that the corner jumped. That INT led to a FG that tied the game. From that point on it was all completely downhill for the Dolphins. Tannehill got several passes tipped in the preseason. For some reason, he got a bunch tipped today, two of them resulting in INTs. He's going to have to do something to stop this, whether that be pump faking or using his head and eyes more deceptively, because you can't put your defense in situations where they have a short field to defend.

You also can't do that with a defense that can't pressure the passer, which this defense couldn't do last year very well and now can't do so through the first game of this season. Cameron Wake is a very good player who can pressure the passer. But he can't do so all the time and has a bit inconsistent over the past season. Jared Odrick is just not a pass rushing DE and I'm not sure why he was forced into that role. Paul Soliai is a very good NT in a 3-4. But I'm not sure he can pressure the QB from inside in a 4-3. That's half your line that is miscast and therefore isn't adding anything to the most important aspect of your defense, which is stopping the pass. And we still can't cover TEs. Carlos Dansby is a very good LB at every other aspect of the game. But he can't cover TEs.

That's why we gave up 30 points. That's tough even for the best offenses in the league to overcome. We haven't had an offense in Miami that could overcome that with any realistic regularity since Dan Marino. And while I understand the desire to coddle Tannehill because of his inexperience and our shaky Oline, you just aren't going to move the ball downfield very efficiently and thus score points if you don't try to make big plays. The offense today looked very much like the dink and dunk offenses of the Tony Sparano era.

This isn't a time possession league where you grind out yards, kick field goals, and every once in a while score. You have to throw the ball downfield or at least dink and dunk in a way that gets a lot of yards after the catch. The Dolphins appear to be completely unable to do either of those things consistently. Until the offensive line improves and until they let Tannehill be aggressive they will struggle to gain yards and score consistently. Sure. By being aggressive you risk turnovers, especially with a rookie QB. But we have proven over the last decade or so that you don't score a lot of points without being aggressive. And we don't have a good enough defense to make up for a lack of points. Here's hoping that at least one of those things, if not both, change and we can at least make improvements while we aren't going to the playoffs.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My problems with the Democratic Convention

Michelle Obama spoke beautifully. Bill Clinton gave the kind of policy driven speech that politics geeks like me wish we could hear all the time, and did so with the charisma he is famous for. And President Obama gave a fairly typical speech. I agree with the consensus that it was an average speech for him. But I think the context of the last four years dictated that more than anything Obama actually did or said.

But while Clinton largely nailed the policy points I care about, Juan Cole highlights some of the big issues that I can't agree with:

Dear Democratic Party:

If you bring Gabby Giffords to say the Pledge of Allegiance, you have to bring up the issue of gun control somewhere in your speeches or platform.

If you slam Republicans for foreign policy naivete, you have to explain why you just pissed off 1.5 billion Muslims by giving away all of Jerusalem to Israel as its capital.

If you boast of taking out Osama Bin Laden by saying if someone kills innocent Americans we will follow them to the ends of the earth, you have to explain why it is all right to kill innocent civilians in Yemen with drone strikes when there is no legal framework for US attacks on Yemen.

If you slam Mitt on Afghanistan policy, you have to explain why your Afghanistan “surge” was not a failure.

If you keep invoking the ‘scripture’ and ‘God’ you have to explain why we shouldn’t just let the Republican evangelicals run things.

If you say you care about global warming and the rising seas, you have to explain why you are praising more oil and gas drilling.

If you praise the Arab masses’ striving for rights, you have to explain why you continued in force the unconstitutional PATRIOT Act here at home through 2014, which allows warrantless surveillance of Americans of the sort deployed by Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Qaddafi on their populations.

Not much to add. The point about bin Laden was something I caught when the president said it. It just doesn't make logical sense to me. We really need to do something about basically our entire approach to terrorism and much of our foreign policy. And that's not even mentioning yet the horrible decision this past week to not indict anyone pertaining to torture during the Bush administration.

There were some nice moments during the convention that I hope helps the chances Democrats get elected. But we can't continue to ignore these problems. If we do things may get worse if we don't win and let Republicans control things again.