Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween, bitches.

Oh yes.

These aren't particularly good shots of the hair (though I did do the hair), but alas. We make do with webcams!

Considering that Halloween is the holiday when people dress up as evil spirits to scare them away.... I think this is appropriate.

Edit: Okay, now I'm scared. People are more attracted to me now that I'm dressed as Palin. People keep reacting with surprise, like they suddenly realized I'm goodlooking.

... yeah. Y'know how I was all "Oh, we're awesome friends, but I'm unattracted?" Fuck that. You + Sarah Palin = Randy.

And that's just one of them.

Son of a--

This totally backfired.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I know you shouldn't vote with your fears, but...

I'm citing this through PZ Myers' blog because he asks a very very important question.

What word is missing in this story?

I'm sure everyone has already heard about the plot to murder Obama and many others:
Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday.

In all, the two men whom officials described as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people - 14 by beheading, according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn.

It's a horrible and sordid story of idiots with guns, but in scanning the various news sources, there is a curious but obvious word missing — a word that normally our media and government fling about with unscrupulous abandon.

That word is "terrorism".

Doesn't it strike you as peculiar that white homegrown right-wing fascist killers are somehow exempt from being called what they are — terrorists?

Think this is just an omission? That violent conservatives are vilified like they deserve? What about abortion clinic bombers? I would call them domestic terrorists, wouldn't you? So would Steve Benen.
I was curious about the dictionary definition of the word: "The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons." Sounds about right.

Given this, we have an organized group of activists who feel justified killing American physicians and bombing hundreds of doctors' offices on U.S. soil because they don't like a legal, medical procedure. "I don't know if you're gonna use the word 'terrorist' there." Why, pray tell, not? And does John McCain, who sat silently during the exchange, agree with this?

Actually, he might. ThinkProgress noted a couple of weeks ago that McCain has "repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists carrying out violence at abortion clinics."

There's a striking disconnect here. Obama has denounced Ayers' crimes, and labeled Ayers' acts "terrorism." The Republican ticket, however, is reluctant to do the same when it comes to a different kind of domestic terrorism.

Palin isn't so sure.
Q: Is an abortion clinic bomber a terrorist, under this definition, governor?

PALIN: (Sigh). There’s no question that Bill Ayers via his own admittance was one who sought to destroy our U.S. Capitol and our Pentagon. That is a domestic terrorist. There’s no question there. Now, others who would want to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities that uh, it would be unacceptable. I don’t know if you’re going to use the word terrorist there.

Personally, I got my yearly pelvic (Really! Just a pelvic exam! They don't just do abortions!) at a Planned Parenthood because even having my expensive insurance scamplan still doesn't mean I can see a regular doctor. Planned Parenthood is the only place around here where I can have my health needs met. And yet McCain has voted more than once to limit the government's ability to punish abortion clinic bombers.

When you're thinking about who's going to keep this country safe, please keep this in mind. When you're thinking about who's going to protect you from terrorists... remember who the terrorists are. Even if the press doesn't call them that, you and I both know.

They're fascists. They're fanatics. They're violent. And they're in "real" America, probably voting for the man who'll protect them.

Vote for the man who'll protect you. Vote Obama next week. Next time I'm in Planned Parenthood having my medical needs met regardless of my impoverished state, I'll be glad you considered me.

Thank you in advance for your compassion and good sense.

Even I didn't expect this.

To my brothers and sisters in miserable calling centers across the country: cheers to you. The author of this article linked this to a listserv I'm on, and I had to pass it to you.

Dozens Of Call Center Workers Walk Off Job In Protest Rather Than Read McCain Script Attacking Obama

Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.

Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."

Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.

"They walked out," Williams says of her daughter and her co-workers, adding that they weren't fired but willingly sacrificed pay rather than read the lines. "They were told [by supervisors], `If you all leave, you're not gonna get paid for the rest of the day."

The daughter, who wanted her name withheld fearing retribution from her employer, confirmed the story to us. "It was like at least 40 people," the daughter said. "People thought the script was nasty and they didn't wanna read it."

A second worker at the call center confirmed the episode, saying that "at least 30" workers had walked out after refusing to read the script.

"We were asked to read something saying [Obama and Democrats] were against protecting children from danger," this worker said. "I wouldn't do it. A lot of people left. They thought it was disgusting."

This worker, too, confirmed sacrificing pay to walk out, saying her supervisor told her: "If you don't wanna phone it you can just go home for the day."

The script coincided with this robo-slime call running in other states, but because robocalling is illegal in Indiana it was being read by call center workers.

Representatives at Americall in Indiana, and at the company's corporate headquarters in Naperville, Illinois, didn't return calls for comment.

Paid callers are desperate and unhappy with their jobs, only working there if they absolutely cannot make it without the pay from that awful job (and I should know, I've done similar work for over four years now), but even callers have limits. Enough lies and filth and even callers have pangs of conscience.

Perhaps you don't get how important this is. I raise money for nonprofit organizations. This means I will ask you three or four times for set dollar amounts no matter who you are, what your finances are, what terminal illness you have (no really, I have no problem hounding cancer patients because sometimes they do give), or how long you've been on disability or social security. I will ask you for money because I don't care about you, I care about doing what I'm told and making my rent.

But even callers--and the good ones are all as ruthless as I am--have their limits. Karl Rove calls McCain on his dishonesty, and now paid call center workers are saying no.

Congratulations, McCain. You did what cancer patients, sweet old ladies, angry nuns, and impoverished grad students can't. You made callers feel dirty, and you lost them.

Good work, asshole.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The wigs. Oh, the wigs.

Ron Howard, Andy Griffith, and Henry Winkler just won the internet for today.

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hey! Where all the white women at?

Keep going, John and Sarah. Keep rallying your base, and gods help us all if there's enough people in this country like Ashley Todd to actually get you two theocrats elected.

And for those of you who haven't been keeping up on this, a McCain campaign worker claimed she was mugged by a black man at an ATM (despite the ATM security camera clearly showing she wasn't even there) who took her money and then flew into a BlackViolent Rage when he saw her McCain bumper sticker. So he beat the crap out of her (and sexually assaulted her, of course, because you know they can't help themselves) and managed to hold her down long enough to carefully carve a letter "B" into her face that is backward unless Todd is looking in a mirror.

That's right, white folk. Better vote Obama, or else black men'll come after ur wimminz. Forever they'll be branded with a "B" for BlackBarack! Well, not forever. The "B" looks like it was scraped into her skin with a fingernail, and it'll probably go away in several days. PURE WHITE WOMANHOOD FOREVER TAINTED BY BARACK'S NIGRA THUGS! D:

Yeah, yeah, I know. But I assume if you've survived my journal this long that you can handle more sarcasm than most people. You've proven yourselves. If this is too much for you, go watch Blazing Saddles and come back when you've toughened up some.

The great part is that even Fox News is reporting that Todd admitted she lied about this mess, and is facing charges for it. And finally, finally Fox News is beginning to grudgingly admit that there may be some race-baiting up in this here presidential race! Ye gods, y'all!

The Vet Who Did Not Vet


"Imagine John McCain getting an endorsement from a major, credible Democratic figure who was well known for his expertise in economic policy (one of McCain’s weak spots). Would anyone have attributed this to race and argued that this figure only endorsed McCain because they were both white?"

"Finally, imagine that Barack Obama was trailing in some polls by a 5-10 point lead (depending on which poll you look at), when a story surfaced in the New York Times that long ago, Michelle Obama had become so addicted to painkillers that she began stealing them from her charity foundation. Would Obama still be behind by only 5-10 points?" Full entry here.

"If you are biracial and born in a state not connected to the lower 48, America needs darn near 2 years and 3 major speeches to "get to know you." If you're white and from a state not connected to the lower 48, America needs 36 minutes and 38 seconds worth of an acceptance speech to know you're "one of us.""

"If you're 18, white, and get a 16 year old girl pregnant "life happens." If you're 18, black, and impregnate a 16 year old girl, you're a "registered sex offender."" More examples here.

The best part is that I've been accused of racism for posting things like this before. (No really, people say that.) You see, kids, "racist" means "someone who thinks about race." This handily includes both those who discriminate based on race, and those who point out discrimination. Clearly if you notice injustice and inequality, and point out that whites are benefiting from it, it's because you hate white people, which makes you a racist, which makes you a bad person, which makes you a poor thinker, which means no one should listen to you. (See also poisoning the well.)

I'd like to reiterate that ignoring racism is not the same as ignoring race, because ignoring racism makes racism worse. I'll just defer to Tim Wise on this one. "Your defense mechanism is showing." But then again, how can you hide a defense mechanism that boils down to, "I know you are but what am I?"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Relevant to your interests!

Another run-down of things I'm reading right now. I'm categorizing them again so that "liberal" issues like racism and violence against women are easier for some of you to scroll past.


The Right Reacts to Powell Endorsement. Turns out Powell just saw a black man and said, "Yeah! That'll do!" I mean, I understand that they have to find a way to disqualify the endorsement of one of the most respected Republicans left in this country, but couldn't they have thought of anything better than simply pointing out that they're both black?

What kind of "Election Day unrest" are we talking about? I can't even summarize this one. But it's worth reading.

White Guys and the Prospect of an Obama Presidency "What I predict will change the most about racism under an Obama presidency is that the white guys wearing the Obama buttons will refuse to take racism seriously." Racism happens. Despite fears from some, that's not going to stop. Jessie points out some measures of racial inequality that won't be changed by Obama's election, but will be easier to ignore (not that people don't do just fine ignoring them already).

McCain supporters reveal racism, and while they're much much worse than Obama's supporters, the latter are not exempt either.


Palin: American Taxpayers Aren't Patriotic. Look at Alaska's tax system and tell me she's learned anything useful running it. They don't even pay taxes there, but can run their state on the generosity of oil companies and federal *gasp* earmark dollars.

Higher Ed and the New New Deal. What would happen if public colleges and universities were free?


NY Shelters Will Be Reimbursed For Helping Undocumented Victims of Intimate Partner Violence. I know there are people on my friends list who hate nothing more than they hate the idea of illegal immigrants getting anything from Americans, but some of us are glad of this.

The original article is here. It mentions, "Though there are many economic and psychological reasons women linger with men who beat them, a shadowy immigration status makes it even harder to break away. Five women in the two shelters told me they had feared going to the police, because they worried that that could lead to deportation. Even if they sought to do so, the women said, their companions or husbands would have threatened to betray them to immigration officials."

LAPD allows over 200 rape cases to pass the statute of limitations without testing the rape kits. Fuck you, too, LA. Seriously.


Socialists: Obama no Socialist. Red-baiting is less effective when real socialists can publicly disagree with you, isn't it?

Be careful. First sociopaths kill animals. Bear cub was shot, and its body left with Obama signs stuck over its head.

Republicans heckling voters. Not politicians. Voters. At least they didn't slash their tires, vandalize any voter registration offices, beat any journalists to the ground, or otherwise attack anybody. No one was lynched in effigy, either. So I suppose we should be grateful that they're only yelling.

The Courts. What the USSC will really look like under Pres. McCain, or Pres. Obama.

Irony Alert: GOP Political Consultant Arrested For Voter Registration Fraud.


Do the use of hand gestures slow language learning?

So much fail. And yet...

This entry is not just about women or children. So if you, like McCain, don't care how many women's deaths the government causes, just scroll past all this stuff about women's "health" that makes no nevermind to you.

John McCain understands that before Roe v. Wade, unsafe abortions killed women. He said that. "I understand."

He still thinks Roe v. Wade was a mistake. Even understanding and admitting that without Roe v. Wade women die, McCain asserts that it was a mistake that should be repealed for the good of us all. Well. The good of people who matter; shouldn't take too much deliberation to figure out whether you're one of them (hint: you've already been born).

I think that any real "women for McCain" out there should see this video. As well as this one, in which John McCain scoffs at the value Obama places on the "health of the mother."

Ladies, do you get it yet? He thinks that if you're facing the "terrible decision" of whether to get an abortion, that you need someone who'll show compassion and courage. Compassion for your fetus (but disdain for you), and the courage to fight for policy that kills women. He doesn't just disregard women's autonomy. He's disregarding their lives.

I can't vote to put that in office. Neither should the women who, according to NPR and Planned Parenthood had no idea as late as February that McCain was as virulently anti-choice as he is.

They assumed that the "maverick" would break with his party to look out for them.

They assumed wrong. (Check his record yourself if you think this site is lying.)

John McCain. Wrong on education.

Wrong on Iraq.

Wrong on racial equality.

Wrong on health care.

Wrong on the economy.

Wrong on torture. (Despite his earlier principled stance on the issue.)

Wrong on Veterans' issues.

Can he do anything right? I mean, I realize he's a verifiable hardass. Much respect for that from this daughter of an active-duty military family. But the President's job is about more than being a hardass. Has McCain shown any readiness for the rest of those tasks? Or is he just playing the POW card and hoping voters will stop asking too many questions?

The real question is not why he's doing it. He's losing and he's dishonorable enough that he'll do anything to get himself into the White House. The real question is how his supporters can manage to wave these things away.

All I can think of is that it must be philosophy over fact all over again. It doesn't matter whom we hurt, as long as we're doing "the right thing." The "right thing," incidentally, has little or nothing to do with the outcome. As long as we're not Godless socialist elitist European-wannabes from fake America, we're in the right. You read that correctly. We're in the right, no matter who suffers.

Progress? Y/N?


"We're voting for the n***er."

You've gotta see this. I don't think I've ever been so horrified and elated simultaneously.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The mystery of "values voters."

Proof that anti-choicers care more about children before they're born than afterward.

Last time we had protesters here in Issaquah, I didn’t really mind having them across the street. They didn’t approach our patients or yell hateful epithets like so many protesters do outside other clinics. They smiled and waved. Their signs were not ugly or hateful. Mostly, they chatted on cell phones, read or napped.

In all, I figure more than 1,000 hours were wasted -- roughly half–a-dozen people, there for eight hours a day, for 27 days. I can think of quite a few other ways that those hours could have been better spent.

· raising money to help low-income, single parents
· providing childcare for those who can’t afford it
· snuggling babies born addicted to drugs
· spending time with kids that don’t have a loving, caring adult in their lives
· foster parenting
· adopting a child with special needs
· lobbying for health insurance for everybody
· taking a group of kids outside to learn about the environment and get exercise
· being a reading buddy at a local elementary school
· mentoring at-risk kids

And that’s just off the top of my head.

It takes real commitment and diligence to sit on the sidewalk for 27 days, rain or shine. Think of all we could accomplish if their efforts went toward something we can all agree on -- healthy kids, families, women, and teens.

This really stuck in my head, because it connects to something that has bothered me for a long time.

How many people demanding that unwanted babies be put up for adoption have actually adopted kids? Or are they so caught up in their "children are like flowers, you can't have too many" mindset that they're popping out puppies of their own instead of taking the needy ones from the shelter? How many vocal anti-choicers do you know who have a half-dozen of their own kids, even if it means leaving orphaned or abandoned ones in the system? The next time they tell you they love kids remember this: they love their own. Everybody else's kids are everybody else's problem.

Here's my advice to those people, if they really want to practice what they preach (literally).

If you think that every child has a right to life, start demonstrating that you have some compassion for them after they're born. Start voting in ways that support motherhood and affirm the value of children. I suggest getting involved with, an activist group dedicated to seeing that problems mothers and their kids face are solved.

Issues they care about:

· Ensuring paid maternity leave for women in America (just like evil socialist moms are given in Europe) so that women can support their kids instead of losing their jobs. In fact, why not paternity leave as well? Don't fathers have family responsibilities as well?

· Affordable childcare, so that families don't get caught in the "can't afford childcare because I don't have a job, can't get a job because I can't get childcare" cycle.

· Healthcare for kids is a priority for moms, so why shouldn't they do something about it? According to MomsRising, "Having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will go bankrupt. In fact, this year, more children will live through their parents’ bankruptcy than their parents’ divorce. The causes for so much financial distress among parents are complex, but one fact stands out: Fully half of these families filed for bankruptcy in the wake of a medical problem." And no, "the market" doesn't fix that.

Are "family values" a big deal to you?


Prove it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Most bullied and maligned group in America."

Those Poor Ex-Gays.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) is suing the Washington DC Office of Human Rights for failing to protect former homosexuals under its sexual orientation anti-discrimination law. "The ex-gay community is the most bullied and maligned group in America, yet they are not protected by sexual orientation non-discrimination laws," said Regina Griggs, PFOX executive director.

The DC Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on "sexual preference," "sexual orientation," "gender identity," and "gender expression." The Office of Human Rights maintains that homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, and cross-dressers qualify for protection under this Act, but ex-gays do not. PFOX's lawsuit asks the DC Superior Court to direct the Office to include former homosexuals under the sexual orientation law. "Shouldn't ex-gays enjoy the same legal protections that gays enjoy?" asked Griggs. (...)

"Former homosexuals should have the right to be out, open and safe in society," Griggs continued. "On his website, Senator Obama says he supports gay and transgender rights because he supports civil rights for all persons, but does that include ex-gays?"

Ed Brayton had this comment:

Ah yes, who doesn't know about the vast numbers of ex-gays who've been beaten up outside of ex-gay bars? Or all the legislatures passing laws to prevent ex-gays from having the legal protections of marriage? Not a day goes by when we don't read about some ex-gay person being assaulted by some ignorant thug calling them "former faggot" while kicking them in the face.

What in the hell. I don't even know what to add to this. It should be ridiculous on its own, because surely! Surely, this is a parody. Surely they can't be serious.

But who can tell anymore?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Racism Among Obama Supporters

Check out this essay about racism among Obama supporters.

Over at the historian, journalist, and activist Paul Street—who has recently published his book, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics– has some very interesting commentary on issues of racism in both the McCain and Obama camps.

Street points out some of the racialized reasons that some whites support Senator Obama, reasons and issues that get very little attention in mainstream media discussions. He quotes an exchange reported in the New York Times:

between white voter Veronica Mendive and white Obama volunteer Cathy Vance: Ms. Mendive: “I’ve never been around a lot of black people before. I just worry that they’re nice to your face but then when they get around their own people you just have to worry about what they’re going to do to you.” Ms. Vance: “One thing you have to remember is that Obama, he’s half white and he was raised by his white mother. So his views are really more white than black really.”

First, here is the old worry that African Americans are not saying to white faces what they are really thinking, which in a racist system is not too surprising. African Americans do have to spend a lot of time and energy in their backstage settings recounting whites’ racist actions and figuring out how to counter them. But that is not what whites are worrying about when they think about the Black backstage. Whites seem to worry most about what Blacks might “do” to whites. The volunteer assures the voter that Obama is OK because of his white ancestry and socialization. This reasoning may well be one common way of thinking about Senator Obama among whites, and it is interesting that (to my knowledge) no one in or out of the mass media has researched this important political and racial issue.

Street then recounts another Times interview with someone who is apparently working for Obama:

According to Times reporter Adam Nossiter, Oaks is “pleased by Mr. Obama’s lack of connection to African-American politics.” Oaks spoke to fellow whites at a local church and with approval of how Obama “doesn’t come the African-American perspective - he’s not of that tradition. . . . He’s not a product of any ghetto.”

One reason that Senator Obama is getting some (many?) white votes, thus, is because they see him as “an exception to his race,” a very old notion that has been part of the white racial frame since at least the 17th century.

It's interesting to read how people rationalize two conflicting beliefs: black people are bad, but this black man is good enough to vote for.

Are they that stupid? Really?

Palin and McCain are starting to scare the shit out of me. Their response to one key question has said a great deal about them, and about the people supporting them. The question is, "What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?"


I know that people like to blame that damned liberal media as much as they like to blame those damned liberal "experts" and damned liberal foreigners. I know that when their candidate's campaign is involved with something truly ridiculous it's easy to blame the people showing a recording and not the people in it.

Yes, I am aware that Palin's comments were edited in the interview with Charlie, so she actually wasn't as ludicrously incoherent as she seemed. I am aware of the fact that overciting that interview isn't really fair as a result. I am not aware of any reason why this excuses everything that goes down at the McCain-Palin Two Minutes' Hate rallies. I am not aware why we should refer to recordings of people shouting for a presidential candidate's death as "the way the biased media portrays Palin."

I know that no one wants to see links from the Huffington Post, but this article does have videos that you can watch for yourself (which is why I'm linking it). Be forwarned that the very last video on the article has a stupid tendency to autoplay, so you might want to scroll down and pause it as quickly as you can.


My main problem here is only partly that McCain and Palin are creating a vicious and dangerous hateful atmosphere at a time when people are most vulnerable to it. This essay from a very well-known priestess explains pretty well my feelings on the subject of the Republican candidates and the responsibility they bear for the conduct of their supporters.

In the normal course of events, I'm a pro-anger kind of a gal. I came up through the feminist ranks in the seventies, when we were energized by the realization that all our lives, we women had been told to be 'nice', sweet, to placate the guys and not get them riled up. If we got angry, we either looked 'cute' or were unattractive raging b-words (rhymes with Witch).

Anger was a rational response to the constrictions and dis-empowerment we faced and women, and it became a driving force in our efforts for cultural change. Ironically, one of those results is Sarah Palin's candidacy. It is a triumph of feminism that we have so changed the culture in this country that the same kinds of reactionaries that wouldn't have voted for a women in 1968 and would have opposed a woman voting in 1908 now have to turn to one to energize their base.

Anger, however, is a dangerous emotion. Like fire, to which it is often compared, it can regenerate the forest when it burns through low and fast, or jump to the crowns of the trees and burn thousands of acres, devastating life and land.

McCain and Palin have been piling up the trash to start on burn pile on a red flag day, when economic drought and winds of fear and panic are whipping it out of control. For that, they bear a huge responsibility. They have deliberately used innuendos, outright lies, and personal attacks to create an incendiary atmosphere. Palin has stood silent while her supporters chant to kill her opponent! That is tantamount to instigating and condoning political violence, if we must speak of 'terrorism'. McCain has protested some of his followers excesses, but in condoning the strategy that feeds on fear, suspicion and thinly veiled racism--but his attempts are like trying to beat out a few sparks in the tall grass after he has fed the blaze.

Those of us who lay claim to some form of spiritual leadership should absolutely condemn the tactics of personal attack. We should call our politicians and our communities to think, speak and act from our best selves, not our worst, from respect and compassion, not from stoked-up rage and hate.

Now, I grant you, it's not going to mean much to McCain or Palin to learn that a Witch thinks they are behaving in a despicable and immoral way. Might even encourage them. But I call on you, sisters, brothers and freres of other faiths, especially you Christians whose voices will carry more weight, to speak out strongly in condemnation of the politics of hate. Speak to the McCain campaign, to your own congregations and coreligionists. Become the dampening rain that can douse this particular fire. A raging wildfire creates its own wind and weather, and feeds on itself. Regardless of your political convictions, hatemongering hurts and endangers us all.

This is only part of my problem. The rest of my problem is that McCain and Palin are creating a dangerous and ugly climate for this election, and belatedly covering themselves as though they had no idea things had gone so far. Creating a mess and then shifting the blame. Obama mentioned once, "In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. Well it's time for them to own their failure."


Your rallies turn into angry racist scenes from 1984 and you're hoping to blame the media for reporting it? Tough luck. No consistent stance on anything? Can't argue with the policies of a candidate you've been forced to concede his plan on Iraq, concede that perhaps we should talk about education after all, and claiming (in a ludicrously ironic twist) that "we have got to give people choice in America and not mandate things on them" when it comes to the rights of health care patients, except of course if those patients are women.

What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?

Tell lies about ACORN's voter registration efforts (if you don't like the Slate, check out ABC)so that you can keep people from voting and pre-emptively delegitimize the election if your ticket loses. Never mind that ACORN is required in most states to turn in every ballot they receive, but were attentive enough to flag the ones they felt might be a problem. Never mind that now ACORN employees are receiving death threats because of those lies.

Tell lies about Ayers. Be sure that when you do this you wave away concerns about your own associations. Those say nothing about your judgment, and you should virulently oppose any such "guilt by association" attacks.

Tell lies about Obama's tax policies.

No one will know the difference. Voters are stupid and aren't paying attention.


I know Barack Obama wouldn't want me to "give up hope" and slam whole swaths of America's population as being too dumb to save, but it's what I believe. A large percentage of voters are stupid. Give them a smile and a wink and they'll believe whatever you say! Especially if it means your ridiculous lies give them excuses not to vote for Obama, when in many cases they'd already decided for other reasons.

Keep in mind that this will only work in parts of the country that are "pro-America." You and I may not know the difference, but Sarah Palin does. Makes me wonder what she thinks should be done about these other areas.

Michelle Bachmann has a good start. "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose like that," she said.

I bet she has in her hand a list of names that were made known to her as being un-American and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the legislature. I bet she already knows. I bet it's somewhere around 51.

What do you do when your campaign makes no sense? Quit fussing with little lies. Man up and tell the big lies. You should "fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

I won't even tell you who pointed out the efficacy of that particular tactic. The comparison is so ugly that no one really wants to go there. Even when they should.

But come on. What else can you do when your campaign makes no sense? When smaller lies aren't working well enough or fast enough to make people frightened and angry enough? Tell bigger lies.

Because voters are stupid.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Y'know, I love reading about people's experiences and observations. I think there's something to be said for finding out what other people see, and in the current political climate it's easy to miss out on opportunities to observe McCain and Palin supporters in "their native environment," surrounded by other supporters without supervision by those dastardly 100% Jesus-Free Marxist Wiccan Jihadists (no, really, watch this video because it's long but gets better and better as it goes) like Obama and his ilk. They can't possibly spending all their time crying for the death of Barack Obama at one of McCain-Palin's regular Two Minutes' Hate rallies.

Turns out that, no, sometimes they have the decency to be self-righteous instead of violent. I guess it's an improvement.

Upon entering Starbucks, I immediately realized that the McCain/Palin folks were having a little meeting. I saw several women in dresses wearing pink buttons proclaiming "Women for McCain/Palin". A few of them brought their husbands who were sporting buttons saying things such as "Sportsman for McCain/Palin" and "NOBama". I sat down at the table next to the group just as they were starting their meeting.

As soon as the last member of their group came in, they prayed. In their prayer they begged that God "deliver the country from the evil socialists" and even prayed that "Obama find God". Well, damn, how offensive I thought to myself. (...)

They talked a little more about how Obama would destroy our country with "free health care" and "gay marriages". The feared his daughters would probably play loud rap music in the White House while world leaders were staying. They feared that Muslim would become our official religion. One of them even feared that "the Muslim language would be taught in schools." Priceless.

They went back to the fact that they all believed McCain would lose this election, but they were excited that Palin would probably run in 2012. (...)

At that time, I decided to pull out my laptop. You see, I have an Obama sticker on it. Well, one of them noticed and gave the rest of them a look and said SHHHH! One of the men didn't notice and kept talking. He said that "Obama is part of a sleeper cell and he will use our own nuclear weapons against us." One of the women nodded her head in agreement. Finally, the woman who noticed me said in a soft voice, "there's an Obama supporter behind us...BE QUIET". The group suddenly got quiet.

They changed the subject for a while, but on the way out the door one of the men told me "you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man."

One blogger commenting on this little account had this to say:

This isn't a movement; this is a psychotic break occurring simultaneously in millions of people. One wonders if mental illness, paranoia to be exact, is a communicable disease. And to all of the professional evangelical Democrats who claim if we just acted a little more friendly towards religion, Democrats could gain votes (although we seem to be doing just fine with black Protestant voters....), how do you respond to this:

"you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man."

Do you think that has anything to do with abortion? This is tribalism wrapped in a veneer of religiosity. Someone tell me how exactly we're supposed to reach these 'values' voters?

I have to say. I'm not sure whether this has squelched my curiosity or stimulated it. I rather I wish that I, like an acquaintance of mine, were headed to a Palin rally in the area tonight. I could bring my little ethnographer's notebook and take notes on the capering and posturing of these exotic humans.


Here's a better question than how we're supposed to reach out to these people.

How can you even satirize them anymore?

This is relevant to your interests.

I would like to share with you something that made my day.

Click this link for something surprisingly (but deliciously) nerdy.

I realize this is an actual quote, but the picture adds something and I had to share that, too.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Betty White.

Betty White, I love you so much.

And I agree with anjala. Maybe McCain really should hire her to be one of his writers. Might help his case a little, because right now I just adore this woman.

Thanks to anjala who got it from filkertom who presumably got it from someone else.

Yes! Go Connecticut!

An article for those of you who haven't heard yet!

Connecticut okays same-sex marriage.

Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making the state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions. The divided court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote in the majority opinion that overturned a lower court finding. "To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others," Palmer wrote.

I am absolutely thrilled about this. I've been seriously considering for a long time now that as long as a same-sex couple cannot marry in my state, I won't marry either. I'll get a domestic partnership agreement or whatever it is they're allowed to do. My small part to erode the "separate but equal" tripe that privileges my relationship above a same-sex relationship for no good reason.

While Indiana is certainly a long ways away from coastal states that are giving all their residents the same freedom to participate in the same legal contracts regardless of sex, this is hope. And I'm glad of it, for all of us.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Serious question now. Serious.

From this blog entry, via metaquotes.

Who would make a better world leader; The Master, or Sarah Palin?

I think it's a valid question. On one hand, you have a raving egomanical nutcase with no idea about planet Earth who will no doubt bring the world into chaos resembling a horrible apocalyptic dystopia. And on the other hand, you have a renegade Time Lord.

If I may interject an opinion?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If you aren't watching this journal yet, you should be.

Is health insurance a right?

rm has the answer, and I don't feel like explaining it to you beyond that.


The "I have a terrifying job interview tomorrow and don't have the presence of mind to blog about all these things separately" roundup. Catchy, huh?


You wanna talk about McCain's service? Let's talk about McCain's service. Four words: Do a barrel roll.

For those of us who have forgotten who the Mavericks were: They're pissed. Thanks to motherwell for linking this one.

Neo-Con Bullshit

Dear Republicans: Stop hatin'. Start making rational arguments and East coast elitists will stop treating you like slavering racist liars.

Don't you love how abject poverty isn't an issue for "values voters?" Never mind all the suffering poverty causes. "Values voters" only care what kind of sex people are or aren't having.

Story that's been going around about an effigy of Obama being lynched. Still think that race "doesn't matter?"


Richard Cohen tackles the VP debate, and how the choice between style versus substance influences the choice of one's winner.

Sarah Palin: Friend of Joe Drunk-driver. Say it ain't so, Joe!

A linguist attempts to diagram Palin's sentences and fails, accusing them of being "not English."


Students Active for Ending Rape "SAFER and our project partner, the Dru Campaign, are creating a national online database of schools and their sexual assault policies and programs, with comments on specific positive and negative elements of each policy. Combined with our current guidelines for the elements of a better sexual assault policy, students will have a powerful, flexible resource for challenging college policies that do not address the root causes of sexual violence and do not involve students in meaningful ways."

"Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis?"

Ethics and social policy in research on the neuroscience of human sexuality. Just a decent overview in general, I thought.

Rape On Subway Platform Ignored By MTA Employees As Cara states, "This means that either the MTA has ridiculous rules stating “do not leave your booth, under any circumstances whatsoever, even in an emergency” which need to be changed immediately (for the safety of employees as well as those riding the subway!) and the guy really needed his job or he’s full of shit."

The Cross-Cultural Classroom, a great blog entry about one teacher's experience dealing with students from different cultural backgrounds who're encountering each other for the first time.

rm linked this great article about how "elderspeak" is more than annoying and more than hurtful. It actually harms elderly people. rm brings up a good question: should we be calling women "sweety" or "dear" either?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Stuff I'm reading today:


If you want to read pro-choice women compared to white slaveowners, check out Advance Liberty, Overturn Roe. Bonus points if you can spot Reynolds' complete misunderstanding of Federalism.

If you're interested in a Wiccan perspective on abortion, check out Starhawk's article "Abortion and the Goddess."

Experts on Election Issues

Concerned about health care? Obama's health plan may help more uninsured: report.

Concerned about the economy? The unaffiliated economists surveyed by The Economist prefer Obama's policies to McCain's.

Double Standards

Here is an interesting entry about how Palin benefits from being a semi-coherent uneducated white candidate whereas I think we know how well-received a semi-coherent uneducated black candidate would be.

Who's worse? William Ayers or G. Gordon Liddy? Is Liddy a dodgy enough figure that we should be discussing McCain's close connection to him? Or Palin's marriage to a man who was a member of a party whose founder once said, "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government...and I won't be buried under their damn flag... I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions."

Obama is unpleasantly "uppity," compared to O'Reilly who considers himself proof of the existence of God.


The World Health Organization can bite me.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Image Stolen from Everyone Ever

VP debate: initial ramblings

Edit 1:Added as an afterthought: link to a transcript in case I start rambling about random crap and people want to know what the heck I'm talking about.

Edit 2: This reply got so long that I'm dividing it up under headers just to ensure myself that it's organized coherently. Don't mind me, I'll just be over here failing to repress my anal retentiveness....

Point the First: Palin's Job

I think Palin did a good job of bolstering her own image after the disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, but she didn't do too much for McCain. McCain's big sticking point right now (with people scared sh*tless about the economy) is to make Obama seem risky, and she didn't help her ticket on that one. She was too busy saving her own backside and her own credibility. But, despite not helping her ticket with its main task, she did salvage some of her credibility, and that'll be good for improving the morale of Republicans.

I think that was her real job here, not earning any new converts. She needed to remind McCain's supporters why, at first blush, they liked her so much.

Point the Second: Biden's Job

Biden wasn't perfectly on topic with each question (which saddened me as a debater myself), but I felt he did better about sticking to issues than Palin did. He brought it around to concrete and specific references to the Constitution and various bills. However, judging by the meter at the bottom of the screen from CNN's undecided voter focus group, they didn't like him talking about the specifics of people's voting records. Biden didn't do a good job of convincing people they should care about which bills are what, and I was hoping that he'd be able to hammer that in much better than he did.

What Biden did hammer in, in my view at least, was Obama's stance that McCain is no maverick these days--even if he undeniably once was. He didn't accomplish the specific task I was hoping to see (which was convincing "values voters" that economic viability and our international reputation are tied to "values," too), but he did his ticket more good by emphasizing McCain's lock-step with Bush than Palin did by recovering her own tattered credibility.

Point the Third: What's a VP do, anyway?

I think it shouldn't be forgotten that Biden and Palin aren't campaigning for POTUS. But! Their stances on what a VP is and should do were very very good to see. This was really the most interesting and instructive part for me tonight.

I think Ifill did a good job of asking them what they expected their roles to be, and that Biden was able to offer much more concrete answers there than Palin (who at least managed to prove this time that she at least read a junior civics text before she came). A big area where they differed was Dick Cheney.

Palin doesn't quite seem to understand (or willfully ignores, like Dick Cheney) which branch the VP is actually in. His role as president pro-tem of the Senate notwithstanding, Cheney's willingness to use that as an excuse to avoid Executive oversight (while theoretically retaining the ability to invoke Executive privilege in case the legislature gets too nosey) is disturbing to me. I think Biden did a better job here of tying the VP's role back to what it says in the Constitution, however... the focus group didn't really want to hear about the Constitution.

Point the Fourth: Who won?

Not sure how to feel about that, but part of a debater's job is making people care about the evidence. For all that I think Biden is a better debater by the standards I was trained in, he did not do a particularly good job of getting the focus group to care about what how he supported his statements. By all technical standards and rules of how debate should happen, he outperformed Palin (but I think everyone expected this). What I should have expected (but didn't) was that he would be so ineffective at reaching the focus group by referencing facts.

So yeah. Palin did her job and helped herself. Biden helped his ticket. It's up to personal preference whether viewers felt the VP candidates were here to help themselves or help their respective campaigns, and I'm predicting how people prioritize those two goals will probably influence whom they felt won the debate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Reviewing Activist Legislators-from-the-Bench

So. I hear a lot about "activist judges" who "legislate from the bench" and take away the right of The People to take charge of the laws of the land. "Activist" judges are gonna be the downfall of our system if you ask the right people.

Trouble is, I'm not sure what these people want the judiciary to do instead.

So let's go through a very basic remedial civics lesson. There are people I know online who have a much deeper knowledge base than I've got at my command, so if they come in and say I'm wrong, you should listen to them. But based on what I learned in high school, this is how things work. The legislature (that means the House of Representatives and the Senate) makes law. The executive branch (that's the President and the people working under him) enforce the law. The judicial branch (courts and judges) interprets law and legal precedents. Since 1803 this has included doublechecking them against the Constitution to make sure they're okay laws in the first place. This, along with what scraps I remember from my high school government course, is the core of my knowledge here.

Now let's take an example and see what happens. Let's say a state legislature makes a law stating that... I dunno. That black people can fairly be barred from certain establishments, that keeping whites and blacks separate is okay as long as their "rightful" places are allegedly equal. We'll call these "Jim Crow" laws. That's a catchy name. Kinda reminds you of one of those adorable blackface performers, doesn't it? Yeah. Jim Crow laws.

So you've got state executive branches enforcing these laws, because that's what they do. Eventually, though, someone gets upset with the Jim Crow laws. Let's call him Brown. He sues, say, a board of education in... say... Kansas, because he doesn't believe that separate can ever be equal (which would have to be true for the Jim Crow laws to be Constitutional). Maybe he gets some other people to join in the suit, but that's not important. He loses, but he appeals. He appeals and appeals and eventually he gets to the US Supreme Court.

Now the court is faced with a decision. A case has been brought before them, and they either have to rule in favor of the board of education or they have to rule in favor of Brown. Now, the former choice means reaffirming that Jim Crow laws are Constitutional. The latter choice means ruling that Jim Crow laws are not Constitutional after all... at which point they have to strike down the law.

What to do?

Well, let's say after some judicial review (which is what legal scholars call the right of the courts to interpret the Constitution and evaluate other laws), they decide that separate can indeed not be equal, which means they must sadly annul the Jim Crow laws by dint o'violatin' the greater law o'the land.

The principle allowing school segregation is ruled Unconstitutional. Suddenly school districts are banned from separating blacks and whites into different schools. Wait, wait, wait. Did the Supreme Court just make a ban? Isn't that making law from the bench?

Legal scholars say no, because striking down a law is not the same as making law. These two are only confusable if you conflate changing the law with creating law. Of course judicial review may require changing the law. What good is it to have the power to evaluate the Constitutionality of laws if you can't annul them upon deciding they're bad?

Most people who dislike the outcome of a specific instance of judicial review will refer to the court's behavior as "judicial activism" instead. Why? Because "activism" makes it sound like they're stepping up and actively reaching beyond the power they were given. However, they only do this in the case of decisions they don't like. There's good reason for this.

Most citizens and pundits who believe that something should be legal (whether it already is or not) believe that their desired outcome will be Constitutional. Otherwise they wouldn't want it to be done. This means that if a decision is made that favors their outcome, it falls in line with their own definition of "what the Constitution says." As a result, this is not judicial "activism," it's judicial "review." However, if it violates their personal definition of "what the Constitution says," in their minds the judges have stepped out of line. These are "activist" judges.

Need more proof that "activist judge" just means "judge I don't agree with?" Here's a FindLaw article that I feel puts it fairly well, because it mentions such accusations coming from both conservatives and liberals on their respective "pet issues."

Most prominently, the Court's conservatives attack judicial activism in the service of reproductive rights, gay rights, and church-state separation while practicing judicial activism in the service of states' rights, color-blindness, and associational freedom. And the liberals practice judicial activism in cases involving the first set of issues while attacking it in cases involving the second set.

So why are so many people so afraid of judges "legislating from the bench," a phrase that we've basically established is code for "changing the legal code?"

The big problem for many people is that judiciary aren't elected, they're appointed. This sounds very scary until you think about why this was intended by the founders. The first was an old (and now evidently-unpopular) assumption that legal scholars know more about the Constitution than laymen. This meant to the founders that being unpopular with laymen should not be enough to jeopardize a judge's career (and thus influence his decisions). It actually helps to remove politics from the decision-making of the judiciary by freeing them from the necessity of pleasing their constituents.

Now, you and I are both constituents, and we like to be pleased. I feel you there. Totally. But if a legal expert is afraid to honestly evaluate the Constitution simply because the decision may be so unpopular with laymen that he/she could lose his/her job, those decisions will be compromised. Look at how easy it is to sway legislators. Do you want the people interpreting the Constitution to be relying on lobbyists and PACs to keep their jobs?

People who favor the castration of the judiciary are generally in two camps. One is the populist "only elected officials should make law" camp. These people don't want the judiciary having anything to do with creating or annulling laws, since laws should (by their view) be decided by the legislature. There are governments that do this. In socialist law as I understand it, the interpretation of the law is given over to the legislature. Oddly enough China does this to retain more government control of legal interpretation rather than giving more to "the people," but that's neither here nor there. I think.

The point is that with this philosophy, it seems to me that the courts have the whole process of judicial review taken from them. They can interpret the law, but not to the extent that they start comparing laws to each other. Their job is to decide who has broken the law (as long as they don't decide that anyone in the government is at fault). Oddly enough, this seems to leave them in charge only of enforcing law, which, to me, would seem to be executive territory in our American system. So with this model, I'm not entirely sure what we'd need the judiciary for at all.

The other side of this that I've encountered is the "executive privilege" camp. See, back in US v. Nixon, the Supreme Court decided that it couldn't make the executive branch do things it didn't want to do, like disclose information in response to a subpoena. The Bush administration has invoked executive privilege a lot so they can avoid complying with legislative investigations, which creates a hierarchy among the three branches. Three guesses who comes out on top. This also makes the judiciary redundant for obvious reasons. Their job is to decide who has broken the law, but if their rulings carry little force against an entire branch of the government...

Either way, I fail to see how you can justify the existence of a judicial branch without the power of judicial review. Call it "activism" when you don't like the decision, but we need them doing it or we don't need them at all.

Like I said at the start. I'm not sure what these people want the judiciary to do instead.

I don't think they know either.

The Gaffe Express

To people on my friends list who think Obama is unelectable because he's "gaffe prone," how do you rationalize away this little gem?

"This is just, uh, an unacceptable situation. I'm not saying this is the perfect answer. If I were a dictator, which I always aspire to be, I would write it very differently..."

I'm not saying that McCain is obviously revealing his true intentions with a Freudian slip. I'm saying he gets away with this stuff. And it's goofy as hell. People already evidently think Obama might be the anti-Christ. Imagine if he "admitted" he'd always aspired to be a dictator?

(h/t En Tequila Es Verdad)