Sunday, November 28, 2004

More random links!

I was gone for the weekend, so no updates then. But now i'm back and there's hell to pay!

First off, i read Media Matters For America: so you don't have to!

Various appendages of the "news corpse" have allowed conservative religious leaders to define "moral issues" post-election

Kenneth Roth (of Human Rights Watch) requests apology from Bill O'Really for, basically, slander.

Fake Hillary Clinton quote picked up and repeated ad-nauseum by right wingers, rest of world unsurprised

Falwell thanks God for Limbaugh, Newsmax, etc and he damn well better!

Chris Matthews appears to have not watched the fucking campaign. Despite, you know, actually covering the Democratic National Convention. On national TV. Matthews also claimed that Kerry claimed all soldiers in the Vietnam War were murderers. He never claimed that, big surprise.

The Republicans are pretending the "Istook Amendment" inserted itself into that one bill... right, we believe you...

Tucker Carlson said the Democratic party is owned by "feminists with mustaches". Why hasn't anybody informed me of this yet? Am i not high enough in the "secret circles" yet? Or do they just not trust crazy anarchists with deep, dark secrets?

G. Gordon Liddy: listening to Hitler "made me feel a strength inside I had never known before" Ah yes...

O'Neill's claim to "political independence" is highly suspect

"You don't want to go here, Peter," snapped Clinton [to Peter Jennings]... "Not after what you people did and the way you, your network, what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he leaked. No one has any idea what that's like."

A mysterious pro-Bush billboard apparently appeared in Florida.

Fake "balance" still dominates

Speaking of which, even is succumbing to the "fake balance" disease. They always had a slight problem with it, but recently they've been getting into the false equivalence stuff big-time. For example, from their article on "the whoppers of the 2004 Presidential election" they state:

A new Kerry ad that began airing late last week repeats this falsehood even more starkly than at first, claiming Bush and his Republican supporters "were hoping to keep it a secret" that they "are planning to privatize Social Security after the election" and that the plan "cuts Social Security benefits by 30 to 45 percent." It repeats: "Bush and the Republicans, a plan to cut Social Security benefits."

Yet Bush's claim (contrary to his established policies and, in fact, articulated plans) that he won't cut benefits is certainly not a legitimate counter-point to the large amount of solid evidence that he not only will cut benefits, but may well cut them in precisely the way the Kerry campaign claimed. is still better than most of the so-called "mainstream media" on this issue, but i tend to hold them to a higher standard...

But i'm not the only one complaining about false equivalence.

Mainstream reporters have, however, been moving away from what Nagourney calls "false equivalents" - producing stories that give equal weight to the claims of both sides, even when one may be demonstrably inaccurate.

"There has been a realization among reporters, certainly me, to move away from false equivalency," he said. "A newspaper needs to help people understand, and if [one candidate] is qualitatively worse, we ought to say it."

From Orcinus: The "Dean Draft", on Creationism and science, the Federalist Society's assault on privacy, and the media "feeding us the mandate".

Since you're liable to hear it from the anti-gay contingent and elsewhere, a discussion on the "new evidence" in the Matthew Shephard case.

Speaking of Tacitus, i made an interesting connection today regarding this post by Bird Dog on CAIR.

Now, one thing to note about Bird Dog is that every post he makes has a political motive behind it. He might deny it, but he's really all about propping up the Republican Party regardless of any truth. So when he writes this, ostensibly non-political, post i get confused. Everything in that may be absolutely true (or it may not be) but it probably wouldn't be posted if Bird Dog didn't see some political points to be scored by it.

Now, the most obvious argument goes that this is just another salvo in the continuing culture war to determine who gets to rule the planet for the next century (or at least, that's how it is being framed). But that's a boring theory.

I think the real reason has something to do with this, though.

Finally, some notes to myself: airport security measures cause trouble for those with mis-matched gender and sex, not to mention other problems and some talk about GLBT students in schools today. Also: The ninth amendment of the Constitution of the USA.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Random update

I've been slacking on updating this for a while, so here're some links!

First of all, something i don't have a link for. I don't remember if i mentioned or not, but if i didn't i meant to. Anyway, a while ago there was a woman who claimed she had been victim of some PATRIOT ACT nonsense. Well now the government is claiming that she has actually been playing the "bleed the beast" game by collecting various unemployment benefits while simultaneously (and under a pseudonym) writing books about how to milk money out of the federal government. It's still the "he said, she said" game at this point as far as which one is correct, but i feel i should point out there is a counter-charge.

Despite all their bitching about MoveOn and similar Democratic-leaning PACs and 527s, the Republicans out-spent the Democrats in terms of PACs 10 to 1.

Framing and branding for the Democratic Party: It's the stupidity, stupid!

Another from the same source on "Conservative Militarism"

Wasn't Hitler's strategy to radically re-make the world in the image of Nazi Germany?

Even more on framing: The Speech That Could Have Been

On the CIA being turned into a wing of the Executive Branch, White House pushes for reduced Congressional oversight

That site is pretty sharp in general, too.

TV with the sound off

How Rick Santorum stole $100,000 and a seat in Congress from the state of Pennsylvania

Student wearing pro-gay clothes told they were offensive while students wearing anti-gay clothes were totally ignored but a school

Speaking of anti-gay ideology, time to cancel your subscription (if you have one) to the Washington Post.

Three stories from the Howler

I think the Howler under-estimates the race issue, though. For instance, all of the recent controversies have been race-related.

The basketball riot
The Football advert
Rap music (and other segments of non-white culture) being evil, but country music getting a free pass
The hunter shootout up in Norther Wisconsin (several white men vs. one Hmong immigrant)

Let's see. All the big controversies going on today share one thread. Race.

More framing (on the FCC issue)

Remember that $388 billion dollar budget bill?

I think i linked to this before, but here is an analysis of some questionable voting data

On a "grassroots Democratic Party"

Of course, the Creationists finally realized that evolution wasn't the only thing that flat-out contradicted their "young earth" ideology. Now they're going after Geology.

Do you want people to avoid discussion of geology because it is politically incorrect next? That seems to be the way we're going. Other takes on the same story.

The Unexplained Poll Discrepancy (Warning: 350kb .pdf file)

Of course, America isn't the only nation with suspicious exit polling and election results in the world

(Or hell, go back and look at how the Republicans were all frothing at the mouth about suspected vote fraud when, after the terrorist attack in Spain, suddenly the voters decided their current leader sucked...)

Christopher Hayes talks about how undecided voters are the real drooling idiots in politics. Well, i'm exaggerating. But undecideds aren't the all-PhD crowd the media tries to turn them into.

This re-iterates the need for "framing". Not, as the story i link to suggests, vague platitudes: but rather framing policies with the bigger picture. If you don't understand the policies in detail, as many (probably most) don't you are still told what the policies are supposed to do. It would be a start, at least.

Finally, the "fair tax" isn't. No surprise there.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I got an interesting email today

All formatting is in the original.

Being the good little anarchist i am i decided to do like the thing said and forward it ^.~

Forward this to your friends and family


Dear Winter,
Let me take a minute to tell you of a video that has really taken us by surprise. The video is entitled It's Not Gay. In the last few weeks we have received thousands of orders for It's Not Gay. We had no idea there would be such a demand for the video.

It presents a story that few have heard. In the video, former homosexuals tell their own story in their own words. Along with the homosexuals, medical and mental health experts give a clear warning that the sanitized version of homosexuality being presented to students and in the media is not accurate.

I guess one reason the video has enjoyed such surprising sales is that it is 28 minutes long, which makes it a great tool to use with a Sunday School class, evening service or study group.

I hope you will order a copy and show it to your group. It should be shown in every church in America. The price is only $15, including shipping.

To order, click here.



Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

P.S. Please allow three weeks for delivery.

I like how they've finally wised up and switched from polls which got fucked by "internet activism" into petitions which you can only express your interest in supporting. I thought the internet was all about two way conversations, but hey! Who am i to say?

Speaking of fucking with the AFA, not that i would ever suggest that, here is their feedback email address. Go send them your love! Alternatively, their petition email address.

I wonder if their "medical professionals" are those guys who are so full of junk science they were disowned by not only all legitimate medical associations but also by the Christian Fundie-styled associations as well? You know, the ones who reported "No gay people live to the age of fifty, lesbians have a 30,000% higher chance of dying in a car crash than straight women" with a straight face.

Then again, that would make them more "ex-medical professionals" wouldn't it? Of course, that would fit too: ex-medical professionals giving diagnosis to ex-gays to serve a far-right fundamentalist agenda. Everyone is just pretending.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

On the self perpetuation of activism...

One of the things that i have been growing more aware of recently is that "activism" is not presently very effective in America.

I think, as i so often do, i know why.

What it comes down to is that activism groups have stopped pushing toward equality, or whatever it is their stated goal is, and rather toward a certain set of politicies and so forth that enable the groups themselves to gain power. In other words, they have replaced the groups they are explicitly aimed at assisting with themselves. No longer do these self-perpetuating groups work toward whatever it is they're supposedly interested in: the groups themselves are now the ultimate goal.

Such groups, inevitably, will never effect true, lasting change as the only things they work for are themselves.

My attention was first drawn to this phenomenon in response to the Republicans stringing along the various Christian extremist groups and then sabatoging any gains that would otherwise be made; for instance, the lack of an exception for the birth of the mother in the case of the recent "partial birth abortion" ban. However, it now seems to me like this is happening more often. Most notable (to me) are the few instances where one minority group will exclude another with the hopes of becoming more politically "palatable" and therefore gaining more political leverage for themselves. I'm not going to name any names, here, and guessing who i have in mind isn't very productive. However, i think that paying attention to this phenomenon is important.

I think one thing that is contributing to this that isn't immediately obvious is the lack of a unified purpose due to a number of groups banding together in order to combat more powerful opposition on a number of fronts. This can be seen most clearly in the case of issues where a number of different groups of people band together to oppose something but cannot agree what to do about it. Since there is no consensus the groups merely work "toward the future" by ensuring the groups themselves stick around.

I think this situation is most damaging to the most vulnerable minority groups in this nation: those who have grown up under the effects of brutal opporession. Notably women and GLBT people living in extremely conservative areas- many of whom grow up to be the most vicious opponents to equal rights. The failings of various advocacy groups are most notable in these areas.

Clearly, for instance, the civil rights groups of the 1960s and 70s were most effective not because they "picked their battles" and only fought those that were in the most "liberal" areas of our country but rather through taking the fight right to the heart of the problem and into the areas of ugliest discrimination. Gay pride parades in New York City are good publicity, but poor strategy.


I want to add onto this because i don't think i did it justice. Specifically, i want to make a suggestion i feel is important given what i said.

I think the traditionally accepted version of protesting is pointless.

Sure, filling up the streets worked when the standard response was to turn fire hoses on the protestors and set dogs loose on them. These days, however, the bigots are more clever than that. "So a bunch of queers," or whoever, i'm going to use GLBT people here, "want to march down Main Street? Fine, let 'em! Then tell them to quit blocking the streets afterward!" No dogs, no firehoses: just a polite "do what you want, we're not listening."

This misses the entire point of direct action.

Again, let's go back to Martin Luther King Jr. and his Letter from a Birmingham jail.

"In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through an these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation..."

Get that? He didn't go to Birmingham because it was where the civil rights movement had strength but rather because it was where the gravest inequalities existed. It's all about non-violent confrontation, not (as the current GLBT groups think it is) about non-confrontational appeals to The System. King also writes about how the dominant groups rarely give up privilege voluntarily (which is what the GLBT lobbying groups are requesting) but rather they must be driven into it. I could go off on a whole tangent there, but let's read more...

"...We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community... Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

It isn't about telling people they're wrong as they will, as pointed out, just ignore you. Direct action and protest is about making people address injustice or making them uncomfortable. That's why it at its most effective when the actions of oppressors are at their most brutal, evil, and vicious. That's why it is ineffective when you are ignored. The entire goal of "direct action" is to make people pay attention to injustice. If they can respond by ignoring you more that isn't effective.

Now the next question is "With that in mind, how do you suggest the GLBT community utilize direct action to create change in society?"

I think it can be done relatively quickly. I think that, if there were a will on the part of our leaders to do it i think something like same sex marriage could be achieved within a couple years on a national scale.

My suggestion would be to follow the lead of those who did create change: rather than aimlessly wandering through the streets with signs and chants we should aim straight at the heart of the problem. Luckily for the GLBT community there's a very obvious place to strike. Consider the problem carefully.

I would suggest the most obvious target of direct action aimed at changing America's policy on same sex marriage would be local courthouses and other areas where the machinations of discrimination are vulnerable by their availability.

Remember when various places in the country "went rogue" and started offerring marriage to everyone? One of the things that i noticed right away was that the gay people who were showing up to get married totally shut down city hall. Consider, then, taking one thousand couples in (let's say) New York City. I know that's one of the places i said protesting wasn't going to work, but i'm changing something vital in the formula. Almost everywhere in America is equally bad on the issue of same sex marriage. There are distinctions, of course, but the law of the land (which is what needs to be changed) is similar in 48 of 50 states.

Then we take those thousand couples and line them up in front of city hall, or wherever it is marriage liscenses are handed out. Each couple says they want to get married and wants to know if that is possible. When they are turned down they go to the back of the line. How long do you think it would take before people started paying attention? Probably not too long.

Sure, the police will probably move in or something like that, but that's okay: it's a vital part of the process. "They got arrested for wanting to get married? What sort of medieval society do we live in?"

And if people like Fred Phelps show up? Fine. We'll beat them up and steal their signs i mean ignore them. Phelps has an ugly trick of bullying his way into everywhere and queers getting arrested while Phelps sits around unmolested would play real well on national TV, yes?

Of course, this requires real leadership. But it's probably the first step toward real marriage equality.

Anyway, i'm going to propose something: if you think this is a good idea then link to it in your own weblog or whatever. I know i only have like five readers right now but if each of you have five readers yourselves and if each of those have five more...

And, of course, i'm open to suggestions.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

So i was watching CSPAN tonight...

And i caught some rather... unusual... proceedings.

You can read about them here, and here just for starters.

In case you're too lazy to click the links, someone slipped a section into an unrelated (and totally gigantic) bill which would let certain government officials check into anyone's tax records they want. For any reason. And do anything they feel like with them. And nobody can stop them or punish them for it.

But TPM leaves some of the juicy details out.

First off, the person who would have this power (an Alaskan Senator, IIRC) has said it would never be used, that he would never use it, and that it would not become law because the President would say he wasn't going to sign it.

But the Democrats, thankfully, weren't going to stand for it. They pointed out that such promises were not legally binding and that if they passed the bill this section would be law. Maybe the guy in charge right now wouldn't use it, but someone theoretically could.

So a Democratic senator proposes stripping the offending portion out of the bill. Except doing that requires unanimous consent.

So here's where it gets interesting: someone objected to removing it from bill. So clearly, even if this section getting into the bill were an accident, someone wanted this power to get passed into law. I'm not an expert on procedure, but AFAIK if the removal of this one section that all the people who were speaking considered totally ridiculous ("evil", "disgusting", "cancer festering in the body politic", and "the most abhorrent, detestable, hated passage...") was un-objected to it would have been stripped out right then and there, no need for any promises or anything. But someone objected to it.

Let's let that sink in. I think my usual paranoid speculations are not necessary here.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Quick Talk to the Dems

By the way, before i dive into this, Blackbox Voting discovers some "discrepancies" in Ohio, according to email at least. (Edit: Ah, has it up on their website now. Scroll down a bit.)

I've been pretty ranty lately, and that's not about to stop now, but i figured i'd better throw down a basic set of ideas on What Needs To Happen. I'm writing off a script, which can be found here, but that's how it goes.

The Internet
Learn what it is, how to use it, and more importantly: how to enable others to help you through it.

This ties in with the others, but America is tired of the one-way conversation that is politics. Things are too disjointed to hold a real conversation the "old-fashioned" way. Does actual conversation as a participant instead of an ideologue scare you? Think back a couple years. No, back further. Remember back when people used to be able to knock on the White House door and have a chat with the President of the United States? Well you can have that type of conversation too. We're waiting for you.

Speaking of Conversations...
Learn to talk with a real voice.

You used to know, i'm pretty sure. Most people did, but our modern education system stripped that ability out of most of us and replaced it with cold, automaton-like blandness. You want to know why Dean attracted so many young people? He could talk with a real human voice. That doesn't just mean how he speaks, but how he writes, communicates, and even being respectful.

This isn't the sort of thing you can pick up in a weekend seminar. It involves forgetting everything you used to know and starting over. That doesn't mean "dumbing down" your speech, but rather learning to really talk. Most of us are taught a bland, flavorless method of speech to emulate the "great speakers"--but that doesn't help at all! There is no easy way to learn to speak and you need to realize that you were probably taught otherwise. That's why great speakers really are great and not just another face in the crowd. Of course, this can also bite you in the ass. Dean spoke with a real human, but when reality broke away from appearance of reality after Iowa he got burned by going with reality. Ultimately, we must value those who get burned for the sake of talking with people.

I would go into a discussion of how modern politics is like Baator (in the Planescape D&D session) but i won't.

Speaking of My Hobbies
If you're going to speak like a real person the first step is to be one. If you only interact with the public through $1,000-per-person fundraising dinners you will be seen as a corporate shill. And with some justification.

Represent Your Citizens
Like i've mentioned, you have to know who they are. As our nation has grown so have the number of people represented per elected official. The inevitable result is a breakdown in communication between politicians and the people. Ditch the Public Relations Experts. Anyone worth talking to can smell the staleness from a mile away.

Take a look at George Bush. Despite his inability to string two words together coherently he is seens by a lot of people as "their kind of guy". This is one of the (relatively few) things that he has half-right. He wasn't always seen that way, believe it or not. When he was first running for public office he sounded like he really had actually recieved an Ivy-League education (go back and listen to his debates, etc, if you don't believe me). But Texans thought he sounded like an automaton and voted against him. He actually intentionally adopted the Texas accent and so on based on this. Now, that isn't to say his trouble with words is faked (there're a number of theories on this point that aren't really worth going into) but he knew the trick.

Bill Clinton knew all about this. Now, Clinton was also hated for his "triangulation", which was clearly a political move to retain power. But that ultimately didn't knock him out of the game.

Be a Leader, Not a Follower
This is a prime sin of the Democratic Party. Don't follow polls, don't follow "Expert Advice". Be a leader. This means a lot of work. That's fine. Take some time off, delegate tasks that you don't need to do personally. Think big picture and let people in on what that picture is.

In order to lead, however, you must understand what problems real people face. You need to be a citizen before you can be a politician. Focus groups let you pretend you know--but you never will unless you're actively engaged in your community. Career politicians aren't very popular for a reason.

Challenge Authority
Since, presumably, you are authority yourself then you may as well start there.

But more importantly: don't forget to challenge others, also. And not just superficially: is there really a need for this authority? Does this hierarchy really serve the people? Some of this is challenging yourself to see what part of the political machine is there for those you represent and what part is there to make you feel more comfortable.

Stand Up For Your Beliefs
You're a real person too. Know what you can compromise and what you won't. This is the "be bold" in the original text where the author talks about Gavin Newsom and how Newsom stood up for his beliefs. By the simple act of standing up about something he thought everyone was doing wrong he was sudenly dictating the issues. Do you really think that if the entire Democratic Party stood up on something like same sex marriage the Republicans would continue to brow-beat you on it? Talk about same sex marriage as a Christian. That first means learning about same sex marriage from a Christian viewpoint. Don't take the answers dictated by ideologues. Why not attend a church service ministered by a gay pastor? Why not ask? Talk about same sex marriage from a stance of patriotism: equality, freedom, justice, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all just starters.

Do you really think that by letting the Republicans have a total monopoly on this area you're going to somehow come out ahead? Doesn't that sound a little crazy? By admitting the Republicans are right you think people are going to vote for you? What the fuck for? Aren't they going to vote for the leaders, not those who opportunistically follow the wind?

Texas is 60% Republican
But 40% Democrat.

Actually, i don't know what the exact pecentage is.

When was the last time a Democrat took Texas seriously as far as spending time and attention on it? But there are still how many Democrats there?

Don't give up ground just because you're ten points behind. You'll never win that way.

If you're behind then what can you do to get ahead?

In The Same Vein...
The Democratic Party is the party of rural America, too. Why the hell would rural America vote Republican? Tax cuts for the mega-corporations? Self-perpetuating elites who foist unrelated issues (*cough* same sex marriage *coughcough*) on them as their primary issues? As opposed to stuff that affects them like making sure their kids won't get left out of the new world? Maybe because you're don't pay any attention to them and the Republicans do? Say it to yourself, and mean it: The Democratic Party is the party of rural America.

Be a Winner
That's kinda ephemeral, but it's important too. The "bandwagon effect" is powerful. Create it, don't jump onto it. That means you're going to get smacked down a couple times. Make sure you take chances where you can, and where it's worth it.

It isn't timely...

But it is funny!

This just in!

Kerry was later photographed not wearing the jacket! The only conclusion reasonable people can come to when faced with the facts is that Kerry is little more than an opportunistic flip-flopper with no values or fashion sense.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Election Watch Continued!

More Electoral improbabilities.

It's a pretty detailed overview of the various charges, including some pretty curious statistical issues:

How do we know the fix was in? Keefer says the total number of respondents at 9 p.m. was well over 13,000 and at 1:36 a.m. it had risen less than 3 percent – to 13,531 total respondents. Given the small increase in respondents, this 5 percent swing to Bush is mathematically impossible. In Florida, at 8:40 p.m., exit polls showed a near dead heat but the final exit poll update at 1:01 a.m. gave Bush a 4 percent lead. This swing was mathematically impossible, because there were only 16 more respondents in the final tally than in the earlier one...
There were thousands of complaints about Florida voting. Broward County electronic voting machines counted up to 32,500 and then started counting backward. This glitch, which existed in the 2002 election but was never fixed, overturned the exit-poll-predicted results of a gambling referendum. In several Florida counties, early-morning voters reported ballot boxes that already had an unusually large quantity of ballots in them. In Florida and five other states, according to Canada's Globe and Mail, "the wrong candidate appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen" after the person had voted.

Crazy talk, yes?

But, as the article ends, "Election results are not final until electors vote on Dec. 12. There is still time to find the truth."

Not that i expect any change in the outcome. I'm guessing that even if it comes out that there was massive, intentional fraud that totally altered the outcome of the election the Republicans will still be able to find enough electors to put Bush into office.

Either that or something ridiculous would happen.

So in a way, it would perhaps be better if this didn't happen until post-election. Sure, we'd get four more years of Bush. But i'm guessing the Republican Party would be mostly destroyed after that.

Of course, all of that depends on whether or not something actually did go wrong; something that is at this point still impossible to predict for certain, despite the overwhelming suggestions that it did.

Anyway. If someone out there runs into any people going "The extremists are the fringe in the Republican Party!" then i would say you should invite that person to stand up to the Republicans majority and say that. But they had better be prepared to join Specter in his now-mandatory daily grovelling sessions. A little bird whispered into my ear that he's forced to wear a leash and leather, too.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

The ever-incomparable Daily Howler gives a review of Clinton's books. It's not as bad as the media says it is. At least, as long as you aren't an idiot-for-hire. For another example, take a look at how the media, that paragon of informativeness, carefully avoids any mention of the fact that Rice has a problem with the truth. Or perhaps that's too subtle for you? Maybe some reports of how Sinclair started up an explicitly pro-Bush, anti-Democrat show (though it is purportedly non-partisan)?

Orcinus discusses "Healing America".

Now for some Coulterisms!

...Thinking back on my relationship with Ann [Coulter] now, it's dismaying to realize how a certain kind of politics can corrupt every aspect of your life. As with my later relationship with Laura Ingraham, Ann and I never had a serious conversation about politics, or anything else. Instead, we smoked, drank to excess--Ann seemed to live on nothing but chardonnay and cigarettes--and vented our anger and cruelty by hurling all manner of epithets at liberals and the disadvantaged among us. We both eschewed subtlety. To Ann, my "nutty/slutty" line [which was used to virtually libel Anita Hill when she claimed then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her] was a stroke of genius. Our only disagreement was over abortion: Ann called me a "baby-killer."

...She soon grew bored with life [in Washington] and moved on to become a television pundit, where she crafted a niche for herself as a "poster girl for the militia crowd", as New York magazine put it. In her television appearances, Ann regularly labeled Clinton as "crazy," "like a serial killer," "creepier and slimier than Kennedy," "a horny hick," and "white trash." "I think it is a rational question for Americans to ask whether their president is insane," she declared. "I just want to get rid of him." To Ann, Hillar Clinton was a "prostitute." In a CNN segment on the dragging death of James Byrd, an African American man, in Texas, Ann fumed, "There is a constitutional right to hate." She eventually left her job as a commentator on MSNBC after telling a disabled Vietnam vet in a debate, "People like you caused us to lose the war." I never did figure out what Ann was really mad at.
--David Brock in Blinded by the Right, page 180-181

I hope i don't have to point out that Ann Coulter has just recently called all Democrats racists for bringing up legitimate questions about Condolezza Rice's qualifications. Talk about double standard.

And of course: i've updated my game documents a bit. Warning: it's up to 440KB now.


TiVo sells your fast-forward button.

Note to politicians

Especially those frustrated by the Religious Right fucking with your life.

I was just listening to some talk on cable news about how certain religious leaders are all "We're the biggest special interest group in the nation and we deserve to be treated like it!"

I say: okay.

Let's start treating religion like a special interest group.

First, if they want to get involved in politics, strip their tax exemptions away. Any church which starts lobbying (as churches have done extensively recently) loses its tax exemptions. Same goes for any organization or whatnot.

Then pander relentlessly to them during election season. Try then to avoid giving them anything you promised.

Stop treating them specially. They're not the biggest "special interest" group in the nation. That would be women. They're just big.

And so on.

When they bitch, point out they brought this on themselves. This is how the game is played. Perhaps they should have thought things through before they demanded being treated just like any other special interest group when they were given (today) a huge number of free benefits in a contract with the state that has loopholes big enough to drive large trains through.

Maybe i'm just bitter, though.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Ah, Instapundit...

Master of bone-headed idiocy.

Following University President Don Randel’s warm introduction, the famed author, host, and wry wit of A Prairie Home Companion, started by commenting on election results.

“I am a Democrat—it’s no secret. I am a museum-quality Democrat,” Keillor said. “Last night I spent my time crouched in a fetal position, rolling around and moaning in the dark.”

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. “I’m trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to born-again Christians,” Keillor smirked. “I feel if your citizenship is in Heaven—like a born again Christian’s is—you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If born again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?”

Wants to take away the right to vote for born-agains? Okay. Keep in mind this is Garrison Keillor. The man who, full well knowing the statistical impossibility, opens every one of his popular "Prarie Home Companion" shows with "Lake Woebegone... where all the children are above average."

Let's just say if you're looking for a Garrison Keillor quote to indicate he's a little unhinged (he is and he isn't, but it's a Minnesota thing) the list sure as hell wouldn't start with "let's deny Christians the right to vote".

Nonetheless, Instapundit manages to find a way. Not that Instapundit deigns to enlighten us on what's so bad about this particular quote.

I'm guessing it's the now-traditional "Any bad-mouthing of Christians, regardless of whether it is deserved, is automatically elevated to worse than people like Fred Phelps on the bigot-spectrum" reflexive Conserv-A-Matic response (by the way, i'm talking about the comments right past the third line).

UPDATE: Micah Holmquist emails: "I heard similar comments on Prarie Home Companion recently and they clearly were in jest." No hint of that in the story, but okay -- though I didn't think that he was seriously planning to amend the Constitution. I suspect that not everyone will be amused, however, as the jest is a somewhat bitter one.

So an amendment to deny another group of Americans some of their citizen's rights (go on, guess who i'm referring to!) is not only not a joke, but was also proposed on a national scale--for real here--by our good friend Instapundit's own political party. Furthermore, in an effort to "Get Out The Vote", similar amendments were proposed at a number of state levels and passed.

So you'll forgive me for wondering, dear Instapundit, what the fuck you are talking about.

Frothing Christians can have their amendment (based on their personal beliefs and on no other reason) to stigmatize and scapegoat a group of American citizens but Keillor can't have his?

I think that's the real joke, here. And what a bitter joke it is.

As a pseudo-aside, as i know i'm going to be adding it anyway if i don't now, let's deal with some of the additional complaints:

MORE: Eugene Volokh offers this analogy:

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to Jews," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your citizenship is in the Nation of Israel -- like a Jew's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If Jews are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

Okay, Mr. Volokh. You're a lawyer (IIRC), so you should be able to figure this one out on your own.

But i'll give you a hint.

How about once the Jews start harassing another group of Americans based on specious reasoning and pass, into law, various revocations of the rights of these people then i'll grant your example is equivalent to Keillor's.

Until then, your analogy is misleading. I find it difficult to believe it is misleading by accident.

Justification for the Iraq War #394

So i was driving home from class this morning and heard the most ridiculous thing ever.

You see, this guy claims we went to war with Iraq because (get this) we wanted to attack Saudi Arabia.

No, no! Really! He says that we wanted to make Saudi Arabia stop funding terrorists (as evidence he props up a couple of "Islamic Charities" that contributed probably $200,000 or less to terrorism total) but we didn't want to (ready for it?) embarass the Saudis. So we went to war with Iraq.

All the talk about WMD was just a noble lie, but really the war is and was an overwhelming, fantastic success (he claims) because Saudi Arabia has cracked down on those who would fund terrorists. Of course, he claims, nobody ever thought there were nuclear weapons in Iraq (and he makes his most sane comment here: you don't go to war intending to wipe out a nuclear power like we went to war in Iraq) but that "everyone" thought there were chemical weapons. So really, it's just unlucky for Bush and he really deserves our adulation, praise, and worship.

This was on Public Radio. The host was so stunned she was like "uhhh..." to everything he said. She never responded to any of it.

But wait! That's not all!

You see, Bush did absolutely 110% the right thing in response to the 9/11 attacks too! See, AQ really wanted to overthrow a Muslim government and set up some sort of fundamentalist Islamic state! (The Taliban, i guess, was just a figment of our imagination too? I mean, he's kind of got it... but seriously, here...)

So they were hoping America would not attack militarily and do like Clinton did most of all. (See, it's all Clinton's fault, yes?) But barring that they hoped the US would jump in and start fucking with the Islamic world. So, again, Bush did totally the right thing and was absolutely the best of the best, leader of the free world.

It's crazy-land out there.
But of course, he said it in a reasonable, moderate tone of voice. So nobody can question what he's saying at all. He can obviously speak nothing but the truth. Because he wasn't hyperventilating.

Okay. Enough of that.

I also smashed some face in Sociology this morning. We were talking about discrimination and suchlike. We watched this video called "Eye of the Storm" that was about this lesson a school teacher did shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. where she separated her class according to eye color. After that we talked about scapegoating and how people blame minorities for bad things that happen. The example the prof used was the Nazis.

I interjected that perhaps Falwell's comment about "9/11 was caused by the feminists and the queers" might be a better, more relevant example.

The room went silent for a few seconds, then the prof laughed nervously and said that yeah, that's probably true. But also, he said, it would be politically incorrect to discuss so we won't.


After class i discussed a little with him. It was okay. He mentioned we also were eyeing the Arabs and those who looked like Arabs a lot, too.

And now: the mandatory link-dump:

Please, please, please do not talk like this ever. Even if you have a point (as i think the author does). Just no. Re-frame it, find a new way. Just never say this:

...Only now we can refer to the red states as “anti-gay” states.

It might be true, but people hate being called bigots. Don't forget most of these red-states have a lot of Democratic voters in them.

And if you say that the various groups on The Right will throw a fucking fit. Just don't.

And then there's the "Democrat Party". Who're they, anyway? "Democrat Party"?

Q: Are you really sure that your bank isn't using secret software to steal $9.72 from your retirement account every week?

A: Yes, yes i am sure.

How Specter Can Save His Ass

Amusing, but somewhat bland. Let's try one more, then!

Where's Bush really going in his second term?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Why Protest Warrior Sucks

Some people have asked whether or not i'm being fair to the Protest Warrior crowd. I tend to think that i am.

I'm hard on them primarily for two reasons:

They complain about how protestors say things they don't like with "direct action" style protest, but they use the same style in response. So they're hypocrites.

The second is a bit more subtle.

They complain the protestors don't "control" who protests with them (specifically: they use a lot of guilt-by-association to say that all protestors are communists because some communists are heavily involved in protests) but when they get beat up by Black Bloc-ers who steal their signs they whine about the big, mean anarchists ruining their day. They want it both ways.

Anyway, link dump time:

More vote irregularities
The Democrats and Rural America - this one is very good
Kerry drinks green tea, is derided as "elitist, tea-drinking liberal"... Fuck! Lipton tea is "elitist" tea? I'd better hide my organic, hand-picked, grown-in-Japan, import green tea...
More voting stuff take two
"Liberal" vs. "illiberal" Democracies
If the Democrats want to tangle with the Condi Rice nomination they should start with Rice's not upholding her oath to the 9/11 commission (specifically: not telling the whole truth in a rather extreme way)
And finally, i update my Winterweb page and the Winterweb Systems Game Document

(Edit: A couple more links)

James Dobson randomness
Evolution only theory, not fact - what, of course, that ignores (and what makes that an outright lie) is that a "theory" (which evolution is) is the highest scientific rating for evolution or similar things. It can't go higher. Ever. There is no "fact" which a better theory could fit into. That's as high as it goes. So while, yes, it's important to challenge the scientific establishment: doing so with lies designed to be political broadsides is not acceptable period.
Rove claims "moral values" carried Bush

Oh by the way, just in case you had ANY doubt:

It's official.

So God is indeed a Republican. He must be. His hand helped re-elect a President, with a popular mandate, whose job approval ratings were the lowest since ratings began of any President who has been re-elected. His hand helped re-elect a President in a country where “wrong track” was way ahead of “right track”. His hand helped re-elect a President in a country where, in the rust belt and the South, millions of jobs have been lost.

Well, divine intervention would explain how he managed to win...

But seriously, people. This is uncool stuff.

And just in case you're wondering: no, Weyrich isn't a Democrat in disguise. He's deadly serious.


This reminds me of my high school days.

People don't like it when you correct them when it steals their thunder. Doubly so when they find out you're right.

I had my share of being called an "elitist intellectual" long before i "threw my hat in for the Democrats", so to speak. It's only fitting, after all.

Of course, they were still perfectly happy to steal my homework and claim it as their own. Something else that also rings true today...

And just think! When i bitched about how the people in charge of the zoo did nothing about ritual harassment by "certain students" i was told "Just deal with it, you only have [insert number] more years until you graduate. Then you'll be free."

[Insert derisive snort]

Finally: i have nothing to add to this.

Monday, November 15, 2004

And here we have the standard Bushist approach to bad news:

...shoot the messenger.

The GLBT community tends to think they're not why Bush won.

They're right. Queers aren't responsible for bigoted theocratic thugs who think the death penalty without any torture first just isn't justice for them.

I'd say more, but well... i'm sure it wouldn't surprise any of you.

In more interesting news, have some buzz about an indie band.

Vietnam vets share the lessons they learned and how they relate to Iraq.

And finally, Dungeons and Dragons is what makes America great!

I can't, of course, pass this up without pimping my game.

Wonkette has your fix!

So, are you Blue Staters feeling a bit "down"? Does the prospect of having to worry if your opinions count as wrongthink combined with the prospect of John Kerry "winning 43 electoral votes and 11 cities" (according to one person, whose website i can't find, who apparently is under the impression that we vote by-state and that people voting for their favorite candidate somehow disenfranchises the "Red State Majority" illicitly) keep you awake at night? Feel like you could use a bit of a "lift"?

Worry no longer, Wonkette has your fix!

Also, Wonkette has found a Free Republic thread about the big, male, heterosexual freepers obsessing over how Dick Cheney has a large wang. Sadly, the thread was removed. All the good freep-o-matic threads have been getting killed. Ah well, we'll still have "We're Not". (In case we lose, too--which would truly be a loss--the WNS-ers are copying the "Sorry" website. But with more guns. Lots and lots and lots of guns. Also threats to use those guns if anybody disagrees with them.)

Fundamentalism: From the inside-out

(Edit, edit, edit!)

The incomparable Daily Howler takes on Democratic incompetence.

As much as i hate talking points, they're the political reality. If someone calls you up and says "what are my talking points" and you say "I don't know" then what, precisely, are the fuck you doing?

Even if you have an ethical objection to the talking points game you can at least have a bunch of information ready. I mean, seriously! Did the Kerry campaign just not have any response to the SBVfTL at all?

Also, it appears a recount in Ohio is a sure thing thanks to the efforts of David Cobb and the Greens.

Not that i think a recount is going to change anything (if there are problems they're of the non-recountable kind--no paper trail, remember?) but it's good to see someone at least putting up a fight.

I would be, of course, remiss to not mention that there are Democratic Senators fighting this fight too. It's just the party elite that's sitting on their hands.

(Edit 2)

Randomly... just, y'know, 'cuz i'm thinking about guns and all... the NRA would do well to read the second amendment. All of it, i mean. Not just the part they like.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


On Christian "Dominionism"

This stuff is taking over Christianity. It's kinda scary. But i have one thing in particular to note:

...They oppose inter-faith, inter-racial, and same-sex marriages...

The oppose people of different faiths, different ethnicities, but not different sexes from getting married. Hmm...

There's some sort of double-standard there. I just can't put my finger on it...

But let's let them tell us how they really feel...

...If they gained control of the US or Canadian federal government, there would be many changes:

  • the use of the death penalty would be greatly expanded, when the Hebrew Scriptures' laws are reapplied. People will be executed for adultery, blasphemy, heresy, homosexual behavior, idolatry, prostitution, evil sorcery (some translations say Witchcraft), etc. The Bible requires those found guilty of these "crimes" to be either stoned to death or burned alive. Reconstructionists are divided on the execution method to be used.

  • A church or congregation which does not accept the Mosaic Law has another god before them, and is thus guilty of idolatry. That would be punishable by death. That would include all non-Christian religious organizations. At the present time, non-Christians total two-thirds of the human race.

  • The status of women would be reduced to almost that of a slave as described in the Hebrew Scriptures. A woman would initially be considered the property of her father; after marriage, she would be considered the property of her husband.

  • It would be logical to assume that the institution of slavery would be reintroduced, and regulated according to Biblical laws. Fathers could sell their daughters into slavery. Female slaves would retain that status for life. People who owned slaves would be allowed to physically abuse them, as long as they did not beat them so severely that they lived for three days before dying.

  • Polygyny and the keeping of concubines were permitted in the Old Testament. However, Reconstructionists generally believe in marriage between one man and one woman only. Any other sexual expression would be a capital crime. Those found guilty of engaging in same-sex, pre-marital or extra-marital sex would be executed.

  • The Old Testament "Jubilee Year" system would be celebrated once more. Every 50 years, the control of all land reverted to its original owners. In theory, this would require every part of North American land to be returned to the original Aboriginal owners (or perhaps to those persons of Aboriginal descent who are now Christians). Hawaii would be given back to the native Hawaiians.

  • Governments would all have balanced budgets.

  • Income taxes would be eliminated.

  • The prison system would be eliminated. A system of just restitution would be established for some crimes. The death penalty would be practiced for many other crimes. There would be little need for warehousing of convicted criminals.

  • Legal abortions would be banished; those found to be responsible for abortions would be charged with murder and executed.

All this and more!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Republican vs. Democratic crazies

A comparison of the so-called Lunar Wing of the various political parties.

In other news, a PDF file of my RPG system thingy. I'll try to keep it updated as i... well, update it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Here we go!

In HTML or (for those of you who are into that sort of thing) Excel too. I could provide a Microsoft Access file as well, but that's kinda silly. I'll email it out of someone wants it, but i'm not going to bother sticking it up online. Let's be serious, at this point about two people are even going to read one of those things. Maybe.

Now, i know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Winter, what the heck is this?"

Well, first read about the silly "Red Staters" boo hoo-ing those wicked elitist liberals up in the Northeast (and in other blue states). "They're not honest, hard working Americans like us Red Staters! All they do is live off the taxation of others! Unforgivable!"

This is, if you're paying close attention, basically Grover Norquist's whole platform. But then again, Norquist has his own demons.

"Grover told the New Republic which called him 'the Che Guevara of the Republican Revolution,' that he inherited his fiscal conservatism from his parents, who raised him in a wealthy Massachusetts suberb. Each time they went out for ice cream, his father would bite into Grover's cone, punctuating the bites with 'sales tax,' 'income tax,' and 'estate tax.'...

When Grover first came to Washington... the sight of imposing federal buildings made him 'physically ill,' he explained to the Washington Post. 'They took people's money to build those things, people who were just getting by, [they] stole their money and built those things out of marble... Neo-American fascism, stuff that looks like Albert Speer designed it."
(Page 64, Blinded by the Right, by David Brock)

Brock, by the way, now runs MMFA.

Anyway, back on topic. I saw that list a couple times, notably at The Daily Howler, and thought "Hey, that's kind of interesting... i wonder if the numbers line up." Following my usual line of reasoning that what they don't say is usually at least as important as what they do i decided to grab the full list and assemble the numbers myself.

As per my earlier post it appears they do, in fact, line up.

Now, as per that Daily Howler article, there are some questions about why this situation exists. Particularly with respect to, for instance, farm subsidies (though i'll note that Minnesota and Wisconsin are both in the sub $1.00 range and Iowa is just a bit over at $1.06 and they're quite involved in farming- though more and more the big "industrial megafarms") and whatnot. But the point is that it isn't the "Blue States" who are a "drain on the treasury" and pretending otherwise (and that this particular point is indicative of some moral superiority of the "Red States") is silly. Conversely, claiming this is somehow indicative that the "Blue States" are morally superior to their more financially dependent friends is also silly. The point i'm making is that not only is it silly but it's just not backed up by fact.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Firstly: The mainstream media pick up the story of Ohio/Florida electoral problems (Warning: very large quicktime file on the other end of that link).

Everything else:
I was going to write up a companion to this that would be full of charts and delicious numbers, but unfortunately that didn't happen. I've gotta sleep so i can wake up and go to school, so i'm putting it off. They're mostly done, but it'll take a while to write everything up. Basic overview:

Those who take more Federal money than they pay in taxes are 12-5 "Red States", those who take less than they pay are 26-8 "Blue States". This is including DC, the worst of the lot (though in DC's defense it's not precisely a state) and the staunchest Kerry supporter of all.

The "Red States", on average, take $1.33 from the Feds for every dollar they pay in. The "Blue States" (again, including DC), on average, take $1.21 from the Feds for every dollar they pay in. Without DC the "Blue States" are $0.93 dollar payed in taxes per dollar taken back. Before you freak out about those two numbers not averaging out to $1.00: this doesn't include the amount of dollars each state takes vs. pays.

Additionally, The Onion deals frankly with Republican pandering.

Orcinus discusses yet another "Modest Proposal" (You'll have to scroll down a bit as Orcinus also writes large posts). Wonkette deals frankly with why you should not name serious proposals after a satirical article discussing the benefits of eating babies. Unless, you know, you really want to compare your own serious proposals to rampant baby-eating. Of course, (as Orcinus explains) the name was no accident.

Speaking of "no accidents" in Republican use of language, the Rockridge Institute discusses "framing", again: another big part of my upcoming, still-hypothetical book. Unrelated, but also both at Rockridge Institute and a part of my book is a discussion of how to talk about taxation.

Some Media Matters stuff: Falwell tries to scale back his anti-gay rhetoric, Social Security privatization and more on Republican use of Orwellian language, Michael Savage continues to be so over the top i literally cannot parody him, Bill O'Really continues to live in his own litle world, and Limbaugh still doesn't get how discrimination works.

As an aside, there was some talk like Limbaugh's on Public Radio just the other day. If i didn't have to go to class as i was listening i would have called them up and yelled at the guy who called in to copy Limbaugh's speech. Interesting that people will pick up Limbaugh's talking points and then insert them into random other pieces without revealing where they got their talking points. That would go into my book, but it would require more resources than i have to make a convincing case on.

Whew. Lots of stuff. I've also added a link to political resources that i think are pretty cool. They're not the be-all, end-all of course; but they tend to be my first stops. Any other cool sites like that i am made aware of will get linked, but i set the bar pretty high. I would, of course, be willing to "affiliate" with others ^.~

I'm gonna get tired of this eventually...

But for now, votes by state, county, and state+population, and county+population!


Also, this exchange is revealing.

"And way over due. They [DeLay, Reed, Norquist, etc] represent mainstream America (whatever that is), Republicans or "conservatives" about like Michael Moore represents the Democratic party or liberals. [Don't know about the progressive progressives (: ].

"Well, as of now [t]hey do represent somebody. At least DeLay does. It's time to change that."

Yes, people, it's time to stop pretending. The lunatics are at the wheel and the people purportedly in charge of keeping the lunatics in line are sleeping in the back. For his part, the first guy up there does respond with:

"Couldn't agree more. I wouldn't vote for a Pest Control guy for Congress...

Nor will I ever vote for anyone who obviously puts his Party ahead of the good of the Nation."

For my part, i'm a fan of this.

Why Capitalism and Health Care Don't Mix

It's pretty basic; our current, private, model of health care is broken. It does not work. Here's why.

Capitalism is usually a pretty decent way to run things, but in the instance of health care it fails miserably.

Let's take a theoretical family. This family gets no health care through their work, so they purchase their own. This is lucky as one of the family members is suddenly diagnosed with cancer and falls into a ton of bills. Their health insurance suddenly is stuck with a very highly costly client- they take out far more in benefits than they pay in, so they are a drain on the system. So the company starts trying to cut costs by only paying the bare minimum treatment. Because of this reduction in quality of service, capitalism says the family should take their business elsewhere- to someone who will provide them with the proper levels of service.

But that's precisely what the health insurance companies want. By going elsewhere the customer actually reduces cost on the system and this encourages more bad behavior. If the customer sticks with the company despite the reduction in service this only provokes further reductions in service in order to compensate for further costs.

In other words, if you really get sick you're out of luck unless you've got a top-notch health plan.

Not all "private" health insurance policies are like this. I suspect the non-profit ones, for example, are a bit different.

So that's the basic argument.

Random other stuff:

A Wisconsin school starts "teaching" creationism. Great, just what the world needs: school-mandated ignorance!

More electoral insanity. This one is pretty over-confident in its predictions (don't tell me who won until all the votes are counted- that goes double if you're trying to argue that all the votes need to be counted before we can say who won...) but raises some decent objections...

And before you wonder, no: i'm not the only one concerned about electoral fraud.

This one takes a decidedly different tone. I like the comic contained within.

And finally: Is it happening here?

Monday, November 08, 2004


Florida electoral suspiciousness

CountyTotal Votes Cast% Total Votes CastTurnoutTurnout-Total Votes Cast

I haven't run the numbers myself, but if the analysis is correct then it's pretty insane.

Also, what a surprise, Diebold is pretty suspicious there as well.


Drudge says Bush is considering appointing Clarence Thomas as Chief Justice. Two comments:

"It would not only be historic, to nominate a minority as chief justice..."

I find it odd that someone so opposed to programs like affirmative action would benefit so much from them...

"...Justice Thomas simply has an extraordinary record."

Well, that's not quite how i would put it, but Thomas certainly does have an "extraordinary" record...


As someone else pointed out, this is (if true) probably the first of a "one, two punch" strategy. First nominate someone who is absolutely batshit insane and then nominate someone else who is still crazy but who (by comparison) is not so bad. Classic political trickery.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Bush's post-election comment

"We're going to come out strong after my [second] swearing in, with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security. [We have] two years, at least, until the next midterm. We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck."

Let's break it down:

"We're going to come out strong..." means "We're going to intimidate, harass, and abuse our democratic processes even more than previously in order to get my agenda passed unmolested by such silly, outdated things as 'checks and balances'".

"...with fundamental tax reform..." means "I won't have to pay taxes anymore".

"...tort reform..." means "No more of that pesky 'holding corporations accountable for their actions' stuff".

"...privatizing of Social Security." means "We're going to destroy social security and then blame it on the Democrats".

"We have to move quickly, because after that I'll be quacking like a duck." means "This is going to be so over the top i'll be unable to do anything ever again. They might impeach me. Or lynch me, maybe."

Thanks to BloggerVision (tm) we can see in between the lines!

(Yes, this was satire. Mostly.)

The Democrats are fighting a Civil War

Not with the Republicans, but with themselves.

It's not a very fierce war, though.

Toadvine sez:
"...It's time for the left to stop carrying water for the GOP. We are their enablers.

Stop, please stop beating yourselves up over your 'inability to reach the religious rural voter'. That's bullshit. That religious voter is a homophobic bigot. The only way to change that bigot's mind is with negative feedback. The bigots need to see what it's like to lose those farm subsidies. They need to see what it's like to lose that welfare check. That bigot's wife and daughter need to see what it's like to have to seek an abortion in an alleyway. That black voter who voted GOP over homo marriage needs to see what it's like to have segregated schools again.

The Democrats have blunted the GOP's slander of the New Deal for decades. the Democrats have prevented the GOP bigots from returning to the days of Jim Crow for decades.

It's time for the Democrats to let the GOP show itself for what it is."

The only thing i'm going to interject, here, is that the Democrats used to win the rural vote. And no, i don't mean back when the Democrats were still pushing a Segregationist platform. That vote can be taken back, and i think it can be done without letting the rural voters swing in the breeze for a few years.

Ian Montgomerie replies:
"...Plus, of course, we just saw the proof that the 'let the Republicans have their way and people will wise up' strategy is an abject failure. They have ALREADY had their way for four years and ALREADY caused major fuckups. Four more years is already going to get well into "destroy the village" territory, whether it ends up being saved or not! Bush is *already* highly loathed for his incompetence, and he *won* anyway.

If the lesson you took away from this election was either of 'the Democrats aren't Republican enough yet, we need to sacrifice more issues' or 'George Bush hasn't fucked up enough yet, we need to let him fuck up more', I would suggest that you give the good ol' Reality-Based Community a try for a change.

George Bush has fucked up more than enough, failure to capitalize on his fuckups means the strategy was wrong. And the Democrats are solidly astride the center, failure to get enough centrist votes means that their message was conveyed in the wrong way, not that they need to shift further to the right on social issues."

I think Ian kind of misses what the point is, though. It isn't that the Democrats should adopt the Republican position, but that they should let the Republicans go wild for a while and then come back in with the progressiveness.

Haggai sez:
"That's probably true. Nobody really doubts that the Dems are pro-choice, so we could maybe reserve that for non-specific allusions and code words (though nothing as fucked up as Dred Scott, please). Get the 'we're the ones who can reduce the abortion rate' message out in front, and tie it in with the policies that let us do it, like better economic/educational/health-care conditions for non-wealthy people..."

I happen to agree with this one. I'm anti-abortion. I don't think anyone is "pro-abortion" in an abstract sense. But that doesn't mean the solution to abortion hinges on its legality. Rather, the solution hinges on programs the Democrats are already pushing: comprehensive sex education, easily available contraceptives, fiscal equality of women, and so forth. They aren't, however, tying these to issues such as abortion or teen pregnancy. Make the religious right choose: either reduce abortions or cut out sex education. Either way is a win (in that the religious right has to pick, and will likely be divided) strategically. They want to have it both ways (ban abortion and sex education) but that is ineffective. It needs to be made extremely clear that position is ineffective. I advise an army of sociologists to explain these issues. Well, no... not sociologists because i'm starting to really loathe sociologists. But official looking people, in any case.

Robin Green sez:
"In addition, it's interesting to read people talking about how homophobes deserve respect."

Actually, depending on how you define "respect", i'd say sure: they deserve respect in as far as they don't throw it away (Fred Phelps, i'm looking at you). But what they do not deserve is tolerance for their views. We can be respectful without tolerating stupidity. That's one of the things the Democrats have forgotten lately, as far as i'm concerned. We can argue against segregation, for instance, without launching broadsides at segregationists.

That doesn't mean we don't mount vigorous, implacable arguments on the issue. Just that we don't act like "Zig-zag" Zell Miller while doing it. After all, it is (supposedly) the Republicans who can't separate the idea of being civil to those who disagree with you.

However, as per the latter part of the post:

"Look, which is more disrespectful:

1. Saying 'I disagree with you. There is nothing wrong with being gay.' (What Kerry claimed his position was)

2. Denying people the rights married people have, e.g. a very important one, hospital visitation rights - in effect saying 'We hate you' or 'Your relationships are make-believe relationships' - or both.

Please, please, please, stop with this one-sided bullshit.

If saying 'There is nothing wrong with being gay' is 'disrespectful' to some people, so be it! So be it!"

It is important to have a clear understanding of what is and is not respectful, etc. The two positions are profoundly different and treating them as equivalent (this is one of the Republican's tactics, by the way: equating an extreme position with a moderate one through appeals to emotion) is ridiculous. Democrats who do this ought to re-evaluate... well, a whole bunch of things.

Toadvine returns:
"No, they have NOT had their way. Their way is to outlaw abortion, to outlaw homosexuality, to do away with social welfare - to rescind the New Deal. All those programs are still in place...
...If people in Oklahoma want to be bigots, let them."

As i've outlined elsewhere, i don't think this is actually their goal. If they outlawed homosexuality then what would drive the fundamentalist wingnuts to the polls? If abortion bans started making progress wouldn't that decrease the need for continuous "pro-life" support of the Republican party? No, the Republican party is fighting an eternal war and it's fighting with the Democrats. Look at how their rhetoric matches that model. Notice how they sent their "partial-birth abortion ban" bill through with no provisions for the health of the mother! It was quickly shot down by the Supreme Court- and that's no surprise! The court has all but outright stated it would nix any abortion ban that lacks that type of exception. yet rather than banning most "partial-birth abortion" with exceptions for those that hardly anyone other than the most radical of the radical extremists will argue against the Republicans pushed through a doomed-to-fail version. The Republicans spent how much time and energy pushing a "Federal Marriage Amendment" that couldn't even make it out of the legislature, let alone actually into a position where it could theoretically be passed.

No, the Republican leaders don't want to "win" on these issues. They want these issues to stick around so they can whip their irrational, zealot base up into a frothing fervor of fanatical frenzy whenever they please.

As far as the "if people want to be bigots, let them" comment goes: that sort of thing has real consequences. There's a reason gay kids have a higher-than-average suicide rate and letting the bigots run wild makes life undeniably worse for thousands, if not millions, of minorities which are the target of these bigots' hate.

Here's the next part. I hate to say it, and i don't want to, but i will:

That doesn't necessarily mean this strategy won't work. It just means the strategy will be costly in ways that are difficult to imagine. There are reasons the Democrats fight (albeit, not very effectively recently) against the agenda of bigots. Politics is not football.

Haggai sez:
"...We can't win the debate if it's only conducted on the level of gay marriage in the presidential campaign, with all sorts of homophobia on the local level going mostly unnoticed by the national media. We need to throw their bullshit 'values' agenda back in their faces at all levels, and on their own grounds. In the case of gay marriage, this is about treating people as human beings on our side, vs. God Hates Fags on their side. That's not how the campaign played out this time, but it damn well has to for us to win in the future. Not with 'values' on their side vs. nothing on our side, but our values against their values, face-to-face. Tolerance and the right to privacy vs. hatred and fanaticism. Two sets of 'values' enter, one set leaves. We need to get into the Thunderdome and beat them at their own game."

The problem with trying to frame the debate as "decent human beings vs. drooling, homophobic savages" is that the Republicans have spent the last two decades systematically dismantling any sort of objective measure of bigotry. Just switching the arguments to argue against the extreme end (and Fred Phelps is extreme even for the extremists) doesn't automatically make us right in the new "faith-based" version of objectivity. As soon as arguments against Fred Phelps start appearing nationally the Republicans will shoot back with "The Democrats are trying to smear the Republican Party and Honest, God-Fearing, Patriotic Americans as drooling savages! How dare they!" Saying "Yes, but: your side actually does say this stuff" will be met with "Yours says stuff too!"

It must start with the creation of an inellectual, logical, philosophy that is generally agreeable and relatively issue-neutral (that is: a philosophy that defines anti-abortionists as bad won't cut it) that can then be used to frame the debate. Again, my hypothetical book-in-progress deals with some of this stuff.

Andrew A. Gill sez:
"I think that the government should have nothing to do with deciding who gets married, which is a religious institution."

Sorry, i couldn't resist throwing this one in. I'll tie it in with my theme, i promise.

Actually, the government has a large interest in this because it provides legal and financial benefits to those who are married. Whether or not this is just in an abstract and ethical sense, that's what our government does (there are arguments for and against, but i don't want to get into them right now because they're really side issues). Once the government starts doing that, marriage ceases to be a solely religious institution. Our government has, as per the Constitution of the United States of America, a solemn duty to provide all of its citizens with equal protection under the law and rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If that makes some conservatives feel bad then that's their problem. In America we come down on the side of freedom and equality.

That is how same sex marriage should be framed (or at least, that's an improvement). No mushy stuff. Understand the issues, go back to the big picture (the overarching fabric of America, if you will) and stick the issues into it.

(Yes, i realize this Gill person is a libertarian, but like i said: i couldn't resist.)

Jakes sez
"...focus on children, make the democrats the party of hte children (or for the children), 4 years of bush and 44% of young people are still stupid enough to vote for bush."

I have to disagree with this for a pair of reasons. The "for the children!" argument is pretty flat to begin with. Yes, it makes an effective way to send parents into a frenzy, but no: it's not a good way to base your policy. The Republicans can get away with it primarily because the Democrats have forgotten how to fight it, if they ever knew. I guarantee you the Republicans know how to fight it. They wrote the book. Don't play their game, make them play your game!

Andrew G. Gill sez
"...The answer is to make marriage--all marriage a more moral institution. Half of all marriages end in divorce--not really, but it's cited enough that people will believe it. Just say that you'll help that half to get through the rough spots. Marriage counseling for some, battered women shelters for others."

I disagree, again. Sort of. I think the "half of all marriage ends in divorce" styled figures might be useful, but toward a different end. Consider the comparative out-of-wedlock birth rate of Massachusetts and Texas. I think Mass. is something like 7% of all births occur out of wedlock whereas Texas is like 14%. Why wasn't John Kerry saying "I want to do for America what we did in Massachusetts! Through a set of progressive policies A, B, and C we can lower the national out-of-wedlock birth rate." Etc.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

All scandal, all the time!

A Diebold (whose CEO was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president.") electronic voting machine glitch gave Bush about 3,000 votes in a county with only 600 registered voters. For all that complaining the Republicans did about vote totals exceeding voter registratoins in Democratic counties... well, i guess they were right weren't they? Just... probably not in the way they were implying.

The Daily Howler calls the crying conservative Christians on their bluff.

This may as well be a preview of my new book except for the last paragraph. The last paragraph is kinda silly. This one, on the other hand, is wrong and stupid. Democrats should improve the tax code- yes- but they should not try to beat the Republicans at their own game. Grover Norquist wants to, literally, asphyxiate our government. If he gets help from Democrats that's just fine with him, i'm sure. Remember, infinity -1 is still infinity. No matter how far the Democrats go on the tax issue it's still not going to be enough. Same with Social Security. Same with... well, you know. It's like our police policy: you do not try to reason with madmen or terrorists. The other two are not that bad, though.

But is "taxachussetts" really so bad?

Randomly, more Republican National Convention commentary. It's been a while, but it's important stuff.

I (still) need a President!

Osama tape: Real or fake?

Neiwert continues to be awesome.

The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostratic Imperatives
Remember all those "The neo-cons outlined their plan to invade iraq even before Bush got into office" lines? Well, here's a bit of backup.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


2) Why do you hate gay people so much?

Also: a list of links. Lots of links! All election-related. Don't ask me what they are. It's late and i'm too tired to follow them all.

NY Post
DailyKos again
Fuzzy Puppy
Ohio voter suppression blog
Neiwert (i recommend him highly)