Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is George Allen For Real???

George Allen is a Republican Senator from Virginia. I first heard of him only recently, when the Blogesphere covered the “Macaca” incident (more on that in a minute).

“We’re going down the same stream, the same direction.”

Raisingkaine.com documented a most ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars and time spent on the Senate floor:

“U.S. Senator George Allen today stole a Department of Defense appropriations amendment written, printed and prepared by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), and then announced the amendment as his own, moments before Durbin was prepared to introduce the amendment on the Senate floor.

At 2:30 PM this afternoon the U.S. Senate began debate of the Department of Defense appropriations for FY 2007.

Already on the docket was Senator Dick Durbin, who was scheduled to introduce an amendment to the bill providing $19 million in additional funding for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center program, which provides treatment care and research for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries. That meant that Durbin’s amendment had already been written, printed and prepared for introduction by Durbin.

Yet, before Durbin could take the floor to introduce his amendment, George Allen entered the Senate Chamber and asked for permission to speak before Durbin. When permission was granted ahead of Durbin, lo and behold, Allen introduced an amendment to the DOD appropriations bill that, how could this be, was identical in language to Durbin’s bill with the exception of one word – the word “will” was changed in Allen’s amendment and replaced with the word “shall.” Other than that, the amendments were identical – Durbin’s amendment had been printed and set to be formally introduced, Allen’s bill had not been written or been placed on the docket to be introduced.”

Here’s the video where Allen is forced to admit that his amendment is identical to Durbin’s:

I don’t know what is more stupid: the fact that this guy introduced an amendment identical to another, or that dumb grin he had when questioned about it. And he seems quite disingenuous when acting like it’s a total coincidence that his amendment is so similar to the other. When first asked what the difference was, he said he would “need to look at the details.” He knew, of course, that they were the same. That’s why he tried to rush ahead and introduce his first.

“Macaca” sounds like “Mohawk”

George Allen, who is running against James Webb, received National attention when he used a curious phrase at a Republican event. As the Washington Post explained:

“S.R. Sidarth, a senior at the University of Virginia, had been trailing Allen with a video camera to document his travels and speeches for the Webb campaign. During a campaign speech Friday in Breaks, Virginia, near the Kentucky border, Allen singled out Sidarth and called him a word that sounded like "Macaca."

"Lets give a welcome to Macaca, here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia," said Allen, who then began talking about the "war on terror." In an interview, Sidarth said he suspects Allen singled him out because he was the only non-white face in the audience, which he estimated included about 100 Republican supporters.

If spelled M-a-c-a-c-a, the term refers to a species of monkeys in the Eastern Hemisphere. "Is he saying Sidarth is a monkey?" [Webb spokesperson Kristian Denny] Todd asked. The word M-a-k-a-k-a refers to a town in South Africa. Todd accused Wadhams of "reaching" for an explanation for Allen’s comments. "The kid has a name. This is trying to demean him, to minimize him as a person," Todd said.

Watch the video here (and notice Allen begins with "we are going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas"):

Many believed that Allen’s use of the term was an intentional racial slur. According to Ryan Lizza:

Not only is macaque apparently a French slur used to describe North Africans, Allen would have good reason to know it is. His mother is French Tunisian (yeah, that’s in North Africa), and Allen speaks French.

Allen’s explanation to the Washington Post was incredibly lame:

Reached Monday evening, Allen said that the word had no derogatory meaning for him and that he was sorry. "I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he’s offended by that. That was no way the point."–Asked what macaca means, Allen said: "I don’t know what it means." He said the word sounds similar to "mohawk," a term that his campaign staff had nicknamed Sidarth because of his haircut. Sidarth said his hairstyle is a mullet — tight on top, long in the back.

Now whether or not Allen was intentionally addressing Sidarth with a racial slur, his “welcoming him to America” was blatantly racist. And if there was any doubt that Allen was intentionally using the slur, his lame excuse didn't help him. He said he was using the word but didn’t know what it meant. OK… And, even more unbelievable, he implied that he used it because it sounded like “mohawk,” a nickname his staff had for Sidarth. Well, if true, wouldn’t he have used the nickname and called Sidarth “Mohawk?” And does anyone really think "macaca" sounds like mohawk? They both start with the letter M...

The more I think about it, maybe Allen really didn’t know what he was saying. He comes across as an idiot and it he obviously doesn’t think before he speaks. Whatever the case, political experts say that “Macacagate” might cost him the election. As Style Weekly reports:

“A Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll released last week has Allen falling more than a percentage point behind Webb, still within the margin of error. The poll reports 47.9 percent for Webb and 46.6 for Allen. It’s a strong showing for Webb, who’s new to electoral politics and, in fact, new to the Democratic Party.

‘Nobody expected that George Allen would get a close challenge from Webb,’ UR’s Palazzolo says — much less fall a point behind.”

Who knows why Allen thinks he’s falling behind, but it’s not macaca’s fault. On Fox, Allen said that Virginians don’t “actually care” that he made the remarks and it’s “only the media” who thinks it’s an issue. Blaming the media is the number one Republican tactic. Everyone knows the media gets it all wrong, right? Of course, Allen's campaign commerical brags that the media called him "very smart." Allen did apologize "if 'Macaca' was offended, but his campaign manager said Allen had nothing to apologize for and made him out to be the acutal victim. "Never in modern times has a statewide office holder and candidate been so vilified" is what Dick Wadhams wrote in a memo to Republican leaders.

On a side note, it is interesting that, right around his “macaca” moment, Allen told his audience that Webb was in Los Angeles raising money from a "bunch of Hollywood moguls." Interestingly enough, the News Busters report that:

“The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group, said that Allen ranks 16th among members of Congress in campaign contributions received from the entertainment industry during the past two years. Allen has accepted $93,350 since 2004; Webb, $20,650, according to the center.

In campaign fundraising, Allen outpaces Webb by a ratio of 15 to 1.

"There is plenty of data to support that . . . George Allen gets far more money from the entertainment industry than either Jim Webb or nearly anyone who represents the Hollywood area in Congress," said Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the center, which is in Northwest Washington.”

The Issues

So who is George Allen? The media tends to focus on incidents like the two above but, even though entertaining, this kind of coverage obscures the issues. According to his voting record, Allen has the following positions:

Civil Rights

· Opposes requiring companies to hire more minorities. (Sep 2000)
· Opposes "Sexual orientation protected by civil rights laws". (Sep 2000)
· Support VA beliefs & pass flag-burning ban amendment. (Apr 2000)
· Voted YES on recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration. (Jun 2006)
· Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
· Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
· Voted YES on loosening restrictions on cell phone wiretapping. (Oct 2001)
· Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
· Rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)


· Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers". (Oct 2005)
· Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies. (Oct 2005)
· Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education. (Mar 2005)
· Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
· Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors. (May 2001)
· Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction. (Apr 2001)
· Rated 27% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)

Energy & Oil

· Opposes spending resources to stop Global Warming. (Sep 2000)
· Roll back federal gas tax to lower gas price. (Apr 2000)
· Voted NO on disallowing an oil leasing program in Alaska's AMWR. (Nov 2005)
· Voted NO on $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas. (Oct 2005)
· Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
· Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)
· Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy. (Jul 2003)
· Voted NO on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010. (Jun 2003)
· Voted NO on removing consideration of drilling ANWR from budget bill. (Mar 2003)
· Voted YES on drilling ANWR on national security grounds. (Apr 2002)
· Voted YES on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months. (Mar 2002)

Government Reform

· Voted YES on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress. (Mar 2006)
· Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity. (Mar 2006)
· Voted NO on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads. (Mar 2002)
· Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration. (Feb 2002)
· Voted NO on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations. (Apr 2001)

So what do these votes tell me? He’s more interested in protecting the flag than protecting minorities, he’s anti-education, he wants to protect energy monopolies instead of the environment, and he doesn’t want reform in the government.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Allen celebrated Labor Day by wearing a cowboy hat and riding his horse “Bubba” in a parade. At the same time, his rival Webb was driving his son Jimmy, a 24-year-old Marine lance corporal, to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he is scheduled for deployment to Iraq.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Forced to Decline

An Evangelical Christian Learns that Public Prayer Sucks When You Are the Minority

World Net Daily posted a letter from Gary Christenot (ironic name?) who wrote about public prayer at a high school football game.

G.C. starts by giving his conservative Christian credentials, saying "If a school administrator had ever tried to stop one of my kids from carrying a Bible, participating in voluntary prayer, or openly discussing their faith with another student, I would have sued him back in to the Stone Age."

He then goes on to tell a story about the time he went to a high school football game in Hawaii and wasn't "surprised" when all were asked to stand for the invocation (prayer):

But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan. We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions.

Claiming that it would be rude to not participate, G.C. explained that he and his wife never went to another football game again:

Needless to say that was our first and last football game. Although many of the students we worked with continued to invite us to the games, we were forced to decline. We knew that if we were to attend again we would be forced to abstain from the pre-game activity. And not wanting to offend our Asiatic neighbors and colleagues, we simply refrained from attending.

One thing that really amazes me about his story, is how unprepared he was to be a minority:

Yet when placed in a setting where the majority culture proved hostile to my
faith and beliefs, I became paralyzed with indecision and could not act decisively to defend and proclaim my own beliefs. I felt instantly ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land.

So how did he feel when he found himself in a situation of being in the (religious) minority?

  • extreme dismay
  • frozen in shock and incredulity
  • forced to decline (participation)
  • paralyzed with indecision
  • ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land

It's amazing what happens when the majority becomes the minority. Imagine if non-Christian Americans had such extreme reactions as he did whenever they found themselves faced with Christianity and Christians. Would they feel ostracized and like a foreigner in their own land every time Christmas came around? Would they be forced to decline participation in anything that had any reference to the Judeo-Christian God? "In God We Trust" would force them to avoid using cash.

Again, what I find so amazing about his story is how strange and upsetting it was when he became a "minority." He was obviously so not used to the experience that he hadn't even contemplated the idea and was unprepared for it. That is the problem when those in the majority try to make their personal beliefs part of the public process. They are so used to being in the majority that they have absolutely no idea what it might feel like to be the minority. Public prayer sounds great to them because it is what they feel comfortable with. They don't even imagine how it might feel to the minority. What happens when Christianity is pushed into the American Public? Are non-Christians "forced to decline" being a part of America?