The other thing is that I had a kid in class email me saying he'd had a family tragedy--someone had been murdered--and I haven't seen or heard from him since. This breaks my heart. People don't tend to do enough to take care of others when this kind of thing happens. I'm not giving up--he happens to be a student athlete, so I've contacted his support network, and hopefully they can reach him and get him in touch with people who can help. On the practical side, I need to know whether he's staying in class. But more than that, I just want to know that he's being taken care of.
I also--I can't help it--I've been really concerned about political stuff. Every day I see a new set of lies being spread and accepted and blatant wrongdoings going unremarked. Here, everyone, is my one political spiel for the year. It's not going under a cut because it's been hanging over my head lately and I feel a very deep responsibility to communicate it to you for your consideration. Here's what I ask:
Make sure that, whatever you believe, whatever you stand for and want to see happen in this country, that you know the truth about exactly where the Republicans stand on the issue.
What this means is that I can't really say anything to those of you who will vote Republican because you oppose the legality of abortion in this country. I understand that the issue is really important to you and that, if ending abortion represents your highest call, the Republican party is your only option. But if you're voting Republican because you think they will keep us safe and secure, because you think they'll put the economy back together, and most especially because of anything unwholesome they've told you about the other guy--please look again.
I'll start here to illustrate. The Republican campaign is attempting to block votes in Michigan by compiling a list of people whose homes have foreclosed. These people, mostly black, mostly poor, are likely living somewhere in the wake of the massive foreclosures and are eligible to vote. But the Republican campaign is actively attempting to block them, to challenge the legitimacy of their votes, which in turn will send them to wait in long lines that they (because they're poor, and because they work) can't afford to spend time in. These voters, many of them eligible, would likely be forced to leave the line, without voting, and the Republicans are telling you it's out of a concern for procedure. That they'll keep the polls fraud-free. They aren't telling you that they're keeping them free of eligible poor families and black families as well.
They're telling you that the economy is fine, but they admit ignorance on the subject. They're telling you that they'll invest in alternative energies, but instead they're offering up places for us to drill for more oil (Sarah Palin in her own home state). After all we've studied and all we've observed over the years, please realize that our biggest problems with oil have nothing to do with the fact that it comes from overseas and not from here. The biggest problem is that we use it, more and more, every day.
They're telling you that they'll promote national security, and they're spinning their wheels reminding you that we are America, that they will be strong for us, and that if it makes you feel safe we will go anywhere we want if we feel the least bit nervous--we don't have to have evidence, we don't have to have documented concerns, we don't have to have the requisite approval from the various world organizations we're so proud to belong to. We don't have to be humanitarian about it. No option is barred. Listen to them when they tell you this, and think about it. There's a big difference between saying, "If good intelligence and evidence lead us to believe there's a threat, we will consider all of our options carefully" and saying, "In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America, and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink...in making the tough decisions of where we go, and even who we target." Sarah Palin said that. Listen to the rhetoric. Listen to the promises made. No options are last resorts anymore. All options are available to us, we can go after anyone to any extent, and we can make these decisions as split-second as we want to. Depending on how nervous we are.
This is not security. Security does not come from the hands of a man who supports an interpretation of American and international law so loose that it allows us to inflict acts that have been clinically defined as torture upon anyone we wish, without establishing guilt, without even establishing reasonable suspicion. We are torturing people--of course by beating their bodies but also by stopping just short of drowning them again and again, or forcing them for days to go without sleep or without sitting down or without changing position. We are destroying their minds. I say "we" because we're responsible. I say "we" because, if we elect a man who has experienced torture himself but cannot use that experience to stop the unlawful mutilation of human beings, we are culpable for his wrongdoing. It's our responsibility.
I voted for the man who is redefining "destruction" for us now. I voted for the man who has decided that torture is actually enhanced interrogation and that prisoners of war, i.e., the suffering young John McCains of the world, are actually enemy combatants and thus are not covered under the very clear and precise law that governs our treatment of human beings in times of war. Without their former name, these people are without rights and without any claim to decency. I voted for that man, and I am culpable. I am responsible for entrusting my country and my sense of human decency to him. I made a terrible mistake. I am ashamed of having done it. I don't want to see anyone I know in this position in the coming four years.
I can't renounce the decision I made. It can't be erased. All I can do is ask you, please, to consider what you've heard and decide for yourselves whether you are willing to commit your life, your humanity, and your honor to people who are still redefining our world in terms of fear, enemies, threats, and destruction. That is what your vote is--a commitment--and that is what it is meant to do. Your vote can torture people. Your vote can kill. Your vote can bomb countries when it's nervous. So listen to them when they're striking those nerves, realize what they're doing, realize what they're asking you to give up in exchange for their version of security and national honor, and don't vote out of those fears. Vote out of what you want this country to achieve, and make sure you know exactly what it is you're voting for.
I don't honestly expect much to convince anyone. All I can hope is that this starts to make amends for my mistake.