August 6th, 2006

LJ Brain Trust: Bay Area Taxis

I will be visiting the Bay Area in a couple of weeks. (Details to follow on a friends post.) The last time I was in SF, I had the WORST. TAXI. KARMA. EVER. I must have stiffed a cab driver in a past life.

Folks, I need any recommendations you might have on which taxi companies to use and which to avoid. Any ideas?

And in other news ...

We had a fantastic night Tuesday at Basic Rights Oregon! I just got a card from the volunteer I canvassed with, and we got some 77 - that's seventy-seven - postcards signed in support of equality legislation in Oregon. The postcards will be sent to the Governor and the State Legislature.

I was really pleased at the positive response we got from the people we canvassed. Also I "came out" as a Republican to the other volunteers, and put out feelers about possible Log Cabin contacts in the area. Last September we had around 30 people at what was supposed to be a kickoff for a state chapter of LCR, but I think some of the organizers have dropped the ball. I'd like to see the dialog on gay rights bridge the partisan gap, and I know that it can.

Small world department.

A reader who'd stumbled across my Dad's WWII memoir contacted me to say his father had served in the same battalion - and had traveled on the same troop ship as my dad! And a friend of his father's, still living, had been in my father's battery and remembered him well. We compared notes and swapped stories. He's going to send me the mailing address of the surviving A Battery veteran, plus some old war photos and copies of the veterans' newsletter.
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"Now, why are you a Republican?"

My parent were liberal Democrats, and I voted Democratic until I joined the Green Party in 1996. To this day, I still consider myself basically a liberal in ideology and temperament.

I am a liberal but I'm not a pacifist. I served in a combat unit in the Marine Corps during Desert Storm, and I even then I knew enough about Saddam to know that he needed to go. I was proud to take part in the liberation of Kuwait, but I was not proud of our country's betrayal of the Iraqi uprising in May 1991, at the decision of the senior President Bush.

After September 11, I stayed with the Greens for a while, because I shared many of their ideals - corporate responsibility, community empowerment - and because I believed (and still do) that Americans deserve more choices. I was a hawk on Afghanistan and Iraq, and did not keep my views a secret; to their credit, the other Greens in our chapter, much as they disagreed, never tried to pressure me to change my views or leave the Greens. But eventually I realized I would need to leave the Green Party. I joined the Democrats again and was a Liebercrat for about a year until Lieberman dropped out of the race.

Since May 2004, I've been writing a current events weblog called Dreams Into Lightning.

What has been uppermost in my mind the past two or three years is that the future of the Middle East will be decided by what we do. When I started reading Iraqi blogs like Iraq the Model, Iranian dissident sites like Free Iran, and current-affairs sites like The Belmont Club, I realized that the news media weren't giving me a very accurate picture of what was going on. My friend Michael Totten has traveled extensively in the Middle East - he's going to Israel this week, seems like he just got back to Portland from his trip to Iraqi Kurdistan - and he knows a lot of things from first-hand experience.

This is not a left-wing or right-wing thing. I think the old political labels have outlived their usefulness. Most of the pro-Bush bloggers I follow are moderates or social liberals. I could have declared myself an Independent, like Michael Totten - who also supported Nader in '96 - but I like the idea of being able to work within the party.

I don't agree with the Republican platform about everything. I'm not dogmatic one way or another about Great Society liberalism vs. Small Government conservatism ... I just think if a social program helps people who need help, it's probably good, and if it wastes money and creates a culture of dependency, it's probably bad.

My position on gay rights shouldn't come as a surprrise to anybody here. On my political blog I am unequivocal about my stand in favor of gay equality. And I know for a fact that there are many moderate and conservative Americans out there, who may not be as enlightened about gay issues as we'd like, but they are not raving bigots and they can be reached if someone is willing to just sit down and talk with them.

I support Israel. This doesn't mean I agree with everything the Israeli government does, but it does mean I support its right to exist as a state and as a homeland for the Jewish people. It means I support its right to defend itself, and I support its right to be judged fairly. Depending on where you get your news, your impression of Israel's role in the current war might be different from mine; let's just leave that as a topic that's too complex to deal with in this post.

It used to be that Jewish liberals saw conservative Christians as the main threat; this is one reason why American Jews have traditionally voted Democratic. But now, some of us are starting to wonder. Even aside from the increasing hostility toward Israel from the left, Jews in America are starting to see what looks like an increase in anti-Semitism on the political left. I am not the only one who's noticed this.

Looking at the Middle East, we can see a man named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has made it absolutely clear to the world that he intends to get nuclear weapons, and he has made it absolutely clear what he intends to do with them. What kind of man is Ahmadinejad? Ask the countless Iranians who ended up like Akbar Mohammedi. If Iran had a government like India or Israel or France, I wouldn't care about them having nuclear weapons. But Ahmadinejad has said (for about the 10,000th time) that he thinks the nation of Israel should be eliminated. No wonder some people are reminded of the 1930s.

This liberal Jewish woman in New York wrote a wonderful piece about her decision to support Bush. In the end, for me it has come down to the question: Do I still believe in all that stuff about human rights and freedom and democracy? Do I believe that those things matter in the Middle East, where they're so desperately lacking? If I do, then I have to be willing to make it happen.