Happy Halloween Discurso

Samhain eve’s opining on the public discourse.

There are probably scarier things to be for Halloween than a Republicon, but I’m hard-pressed to think of any just now.

Let’s start off with a display of Sarah Palin’s ghoulish ignorance. In today’s episode, she fails to understand the First Amendment:

Sarah Palin sees her free-speech rights under fire from journalists who’ve highlighted her personal attacks against Barack Obama.

Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

Let’s unpack this a bit.

If I understand her correctly — and with Palin, it’s sometimes tough to understand her general incoherence — the governor believes she should make scurrilous, dishonest, and personal attacks against Democrats. She’s afraid, however, that reporters might tell voters she’s making scurrilous, dishonest, and personal attacks, and worse, that voters might recoil from her vicious style of campaigning.

And if that happens, politicians in the future might hesitate before launching scurrilous, dishonest, and personal attacks of their own. What a brutal “chilling effect” that would be.

The entire point of the First Amendment is to allow ideas to either flourish or perish in the open air, on their own merits. If your speech has no merit, it dies an entirely natural and well-deserved death. The First Amendment allows Sarah Palin to spew poison. It also allows news outlets, other politicians, and informed citizens to bash her enthusiastically over spewing said poison.

Nothing in the First Amendment claims that you’re to be free from people rejecting the things you say. It’s so simple a simpleton can understand it, but it’s beyond Sarah Palin’s grasp. This says all we need to know about her.

The fact that this freakishly stupid woman is McCain’s running mate could have something to do with this interesting shift:

CNN downgrades McCain’s home state from “safe McCain” to “leans McCain.”

The network also moves North Dakota from “leans McCain” into the “toss-up” category. The Obama camp announced today that he’s going on the air in both states, plus Georgia.

McCain is fighting a losing battle to hold states that should have been his to pick like a ripe plum. If there’s been a more incompetent presidential nominee in my lifetime, I’ll be shocked.

What happens when McCain gets desperate? He vomits forth lies, distortions and insults:

Still more signs that John McCain is in a panic over Arizona. He now has a second slime call running in his home state, this one attacking Obama for his “present” votes in the state senate and hitting him as a “follower” and not a “leader.”

For good measure, the call also calls Obama “America’s most liberal Senator.”

[snip]

The claim that Obama has the “title” of “America’s most liberal Senator” is, laughably, based on the National Journal‘s ranking of him as the most liberal in one year — 2007. Recycling this one, along with the state senate stuff, is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

McCain has now been reduced to harassing his own constitutents with this kind of nonsense.

And then he snivels and plays the POW card:

John McCain’s new 30-second spot, set to air in key states, presents a closing argument based on his POW biography, and the implication that he’s the real candidate of substance:

“I’ve served my country since I was 17 years old — and spent five years longing for her shores,” McCain says, as footage of him in his Vietnam hospital bed is played. “I came home dedicated to a cause greater than my own.”

Cry all you like, Johnny. You poisoned the water in that well a long time ago. Nobody outside of your rabid fanbase is drinking it anymore.

So McPalin’s dead. All we’ve got left of that campaign is a few lonely volunteers rattling around in empty offices, and rapidly-sinking poll numbers. What other ghosts are haunting the Republicon party, howling endlessly into the wasteland left by their culture wars? So glad you asked.

First, we hear the once-powerful Sen. Stevens rattling his chains:

Maybe there’s something about scandal-plagued Alaskan Republicans that leads to denial. When Sarah Palin was found to have violated state ethics laws, she announced that she’d been cleared her of “any hint of any kind of unethical activity.” This was the opposite of reality.

Similarly, when Ted Stevens was found guilty of felony corruption charges, he said he hasn’t been convicted.

“I’ve not been convicted yet,” Stevens said Thursday in a meeting with the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. “There’s not a black mark by my name yet, until the appeal is over and I am finally convicted, if that happens. If that happens, of course I’ll do what’s right for Alaska and for the Senate…. I don’t anticipate it happening, and until it happens I do not have a black mark.”

Stevens reiterated that position during a televised debate late Thursday night, declaring early in the give-and-take wit
h Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, “I have not been convicted of anything.”

Now, I’m not an attorney, but if an accused criminal goes to trial, and a jury founds the accused guilty, I think it’s called a “conviction.” The defendant can appeal his conviction, of course, but therein lies the point — he’s appealing his conviction.

Then we glimpse a sunken Sali glaring balefully from beneath the waves:

When last I wrote about Bill Sali (R-ID 01), he was making bunny ears at his opponent’s staff while they were being interviewed. The time before that, he was claiming that “Forty percent of the mass of every tree in the forest is crude oil.” In devastating news for humorists everywhere, it looks like he might finally be getting into electoral trouble:

“CQ Politics, which takes past voting behavior and demographics into account in handicapping elections, has held the Idaho 1 race at a very tenuous Leans Republican rating, meaning Sali had an edge but an upset by Minnick was a plausible scenario. But the growing financial disparity between the parties in this contest — and the fact that Minnick had a 51 percent to 45 percent lead in an Oct. 18-19 poll by SurveyUSA, the only published independent poll to date in the race — has prompted a rating change to No Clear Favorite.”

But just to make up for this news, the article I just cited notes one Sali gem that I wasn’t aware of:

“He also introduced a bill proposing to weaken Earth’s gravity that was intended to lampoon Democratic-led efforts to raise the minimum wage, calling the two proposals equally absurd.”

Much to my chagrin, I find that Sali did not actually introduce the bill, though he did draft it (pdf). Still, it’s the thought that counts.

And we hear the banshee wails of Michele “Libruls is anti-Amurkin!” Bachmann and Liddy “ZOMG My Opponent Hangs Out with Atheists!!111!1!” Dole shrieking from outside:

Yesterday in a Minnesota Public Radio debate, Bachmann dismissed the significance of her remarks, saying that no one in the state even cares…

[snip]

Unfortunately for Bachmann, Minnesotans were paying close attention to her comments and strongly disapproved. According to a recent MPR poll, nearly four in 10 voters said that were less likely to support Bachmann after her comments on Hardball; just 8 percent said they were more likely. Additionally, letters to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune were overwhelmingly against Bachmann:

The newspaper received more than 150 letters on Bachmann’s statement, only two of which took the congresswoman’s side. John M. Huberty of Elk River asked, “I, for one, would like to know exactly how one qualifies as anti-American in her eyes.” St. Louis Park Mayor Jeff Jacobs wrote, “Democracy depends on people who have the courage to stand up [and be critical]; for it is only from the crucible of disagreement among Americans that the best decisions are made.” “The only thing that needs to be investigated is Ms. Bachmann’s sanity,” according to Mike Gibson of Seattle. And Norman Korn of Eden Prairie wrote, “The ghost of Joe McCarthy is back and representing the Sixth District of Minnesota. Have you no sense of decency, ma’am?”

So much for that denial of reality. Let’s turn now to Dole, who’s doubling-down on the “my opponent loves godless heathens” attack in hopes of rescuing herself from her own stupidity:

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) has released a second “Godless Americans” ad attacking Democrat Kay Hagan in what increasingly looks like the nastiest battle of the cycle.

The new ad appears to take a step back from Dole’s earlier controversial ad this week that suggested Hagan, who is ahead in polls, is an atheist.

Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), who’s trailing in the polls, is up with another nasty TV spot attacking her Dem opponent as a tool of “Godless Americans” and the atheist agenda — in fact, Hagan is criticized for even going to a party with atheists…

[snip]

Here’s the basis of the Dole camp’s claim that Hagan has sold out to the atheist agenda: Hagan attended a fundraiser up in Boston hosted by literally dozens of donors, two of whom happen to head up a little-known atheist group on the side called the Godless Americans PAC. The PAC itself never even donated to Hagan, who for her part is a regular church-goer and Sunday school teacher.

“I just think Elizabeth Dole is trying to top out her desperation day by day,” Hagan spokesperson Colleen Flanagan told Election Central.

And has topping out her desperation helped her prospects?

[NC] Senate

Dole (R) 45 (45)
Hagan (D) 50 (49)

Yeouch. Apparently not.

My darlings. Celebrate this Halloween knowing that soon, only Zombie Reagan could possibly save the Republicon party from a thorough thrashing in just a few short days.

Friday Favorite Halloween Costumes

‘Tis Samhain Eve. All Hallows Eve, for you Christians in the audience (and I know you’re there because one of the smarmy variety came by to troll and is getting thoroughly trounced by my beloved heathens – my dear Catholic heart sister NP should be along soon to administer the coup de grace). Halloween ranks among my favorite holidays for two major reasons:

  1. Loot.
  2. Costumes.

I’m a little too old for the loot. Besides, I learned the dangers of doing so when you’re no longer knee-high to a short beaver when my ex came back traumatized from a raid on the neighborhood many years ago. He and his brother, both too young to drink and too young-at-heart to give up on traipsing the neighborhood with a sack, had decided to go as Batman and Robin. Why the taller of the two decided to be the sidekick, I’ll never know. But I remember clearly the difficulties involved in finding a leotard that will fit a six-foot-two twenty-something male.

I won’t paint you the entire horrifying picture, but merely sketch: it was tight. As in, form-fitting. As in, he didn’t need a rolled-up sock to enhance a certain portion of his anatomy.

Out the door I sent him, and received his traumatized self back at the house a few hours later. It seems that a certain mightily drunk lady had been sitting on her porch handing out candy. Her eyes zeroed right in on his naughty bits, and she said, in the presence of all of his friends and a few random children, “My, you’re the biggest superhero I’ve ever seen!”

He didn’t go trick-or-treating the following year. I have no idea why. I’m sure receiving a Valentine of Robin swinging through the city, inscribed with “To the biggest superhero I know,” from one of the witnesses that February had absolutely nothing to do with it.

So the loot is a fond memory, but the costumes are something I still enjoy tremendously. My friends and I often make a huge production out of it.

When Justin wasn’t going to be at work one Halloween, we went through considerable effort the night before setting him up as the Invisible Man. We suspended a fedora from the ceiling, glasses from the fedora, and perched a stuffed suit in his chair, with detached gloves on the keyboard. I printed a Claude Raines nameplate to slide over his own. That “costume” earned guided tours from the call center manager.

We blew that out of the water a couple years later when we spent months preparing Eric to be an English gentleman in a gig. We created a horse, made the harness from scratch, and suspended it from poles from his wheelchair. The wheelchair itself got a thorough renovation, complete with a pole with a lantern. Eric decked out in a morning coat and top hat. I wish I had the pics scanned in – it was a total sensation. He tried to top that with Professor X once, but even though he went so far as to shave his head, it just didn’t have the same cachet as him driving that horse-and-carriage on the grand tour through our building.

Wish he’d done that the same year my friend and I spent six hours bleaching white streaks into our hair to do Rogue.

I myself have, many a year now, done my best Captain Jack Sparrow. And you must keep in mind, this was before they sold the accessories. I had to make his ornaments from scratch. Even have the goatee with its beads. A seamstress friend made the pirate shirt. A little spirit gum, a little hair snipped from a wizard’s beard, and hey presto. That costume had every Johnny Depp fan in the call center wanting to kiss me, and was even a hit with a strange female at the grocery store, who sidled up to me while I was buying (what else?) rum.

She slipped an arm around me, and said in her best seductive voice, “Hi.”

I looked into her eyes, and grinned.

She paused. Her arm stiffened. She took a good look at the facial structure beneath the beard, stammered “I’m sorry!” and fled.

How I love Halloween.

This Samhain Eve, I shall be attending the Rocky Horror Picture Show, dressed as Neil Gaiman’s Death. She’s a cute perky Gothic chick whom you see twice in your life: once when you’re born, and once when you die. When I walked into my friend’s dorm room, his previously absent roommate turned around and exclaimed, in all seriousness, “Hey – haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”

Priceless.

That’s why I love this holiday. So many opportunities to play, for just one night be someone we’d like to be, a figment, a fantasy. So many chances for unintentional hilarity. And when else would you see Captain Jack and Brian do the Peanut Butter Jelly Dance?


Revel, my darlings, and return to tell the tales.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to Woozle once again, who created that brilliant LOL Pirate pic at the head of this post. It is made of awesome!)

Beyond Pathetic

Obama pulls in crowds of up to 100,000 on a regular basis. I didn’t think there were 100,000 people total in America who gave enough of a rat’s ass about politics to stand for hours in line just to get packed in like sardines for yet more hours in order to listen to a man’s stump speeches, but here we are. Obama’s just that good.

McCain had a rally in Ohio today – wonder how he’s measuring up? Oh, deary me:


The McCain campaign actually had to bus in school kids from the surrounding area in order to fill the event. As reported by MSNBC:
A local school district official confirmed after the event that of the 6,000 people estimated by the fire marshal to be in attendance this morning, more than 4,000 were bused in from schools in the area. The entire 2,500-student Defiance School District was in attendance, the official said, in addition to at least three other schools from neighboring districts, one of which sent 14 buses.

This happened — as if a reminder were needed — less than a week out from the election, when the heat of the campaign should be drawing record crowds.

I feel sorry for those kids. I remember the agony of being forced to attend rallies at which a bunch of blithering idiots yawped at us for an hour or so. But at least we were only window dressing for our school spirit rather than warm bodies to plump up the crowd numbers for a two-bit Republicon hack who bears an eerie resemblance to that embarassing elderly relative who rants at the young-uns from the front porch.

McCain seems to feel safe with kids who are too young to vote. Maybe he feels that seeing his former-POW self hurl insults like “socialist” at his political opponent while the crazy adults filling in the cracks in the audience scream “communist!” “terrorist!” and other choice epithets will ensure the kiddies are brainwashed enough to vote Republicon when they come of age. It hardly matters to McCain anyway: by the time these children are all growed up and voting straight Democratic tickets in hopes of purging the trauma from their minds, he’ll be safely dead or demented. But it’s a far different story when it comes to people who are old enough to vote and young enough to be suspected Obama supporters:


Audience members escorted out of Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz., campaign event in Cedar Falls questioned why they were asked to leave Sunday’s rally even though they were not protesting.

David Zarifis, director of public safety for the University of Northern Iowa, said McCain staffers requested UNI police assist in escorting out “about four or five” people from the rally prior to McCain’s speech.

[snip]

[Lara Elborno] said McCain staffers wouldn’t tell her why she was being asked to leave and when she got outside, she saw “a group of about 20 people” who had all been asked to leave.

Elborno said after seeing the people who were asked to leave, she was concerned that McCain’s staffers were profiling people on appearance to determine who might be a potential protester.

“When I started talking to them, it kind of became clear that they were kind of just telling people to leave that they thought maybe would be disruptive, but based on what? Based on how they looked,” Elborno said. “It was pretty much all young people, the college demographic.”

Guess why they’d be chucking college-age people out on their ear? Yup:


Among 18- to 29-year-olds, Obama leads by 32 points in the latest Gallup poll, by 36 points in the latest CBS/New York Times poll and by 39 points in the latest Pew poll [and 29 in the latest R2K – DemFromCT].

McCain’s ham-handed tactics might make those numbers rise:

“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said.

I’m sure that’s one McCain voter wishing she could take that vote back. Makes you wonder how many more have realized their mistake before it’s too late?

One more thing I want to note here: Republicons have an interesting habit of throwing stones from their glass houses. It hadn’t really occurred to me until now to chalk that “communist” bullshit up under the column headed “I know you are, but what am I?” However, the above noted items make me think I shouldn’t have been so hasty to write it in under the “Hey, Red-Baiting Worked in the Fifties!” label.

Let us take note of the similarities between McCain’s actions and the good old Soviet Communist Party:

  1. “Everything that comes out of their mouths is a lie.” Check.
  2. “Want total control over the media.” Check.
  3. “Compulsory shows of support by the masses for the beloved Party.” Check.
  4. “Paranoid purges of suspected enemies, even when those ‘enemies’ are actually allies.” Check.
  5. “Failed ideology forces them to manufacture and attack enemies to keep the people distracted from harsh reality.” Oh, check.

Hmm. It appears the old Soviet Communists and the McCain campaign have much more in common than just the color red. Remember your Shakespeare, my darlings: the next time McCain blithers on about Obama’s communist tendencies, we’d be right in thinking Grampa McCrankypants doth protest too much.

(Tip o’ the shot glass to Steve Benen and Kos)

Peanut Butter Jelly Time

When you’re served a premium shot like this:


Barack Obama campaigned earlier in Raleigh, North Carolina, principally relying on the closing-statement speech he unveiled in Ohio on Monday. Today, however, he added a new paragraph.

“[B]ecause he knows his economic theories don’t work, he’s been spending these last few days calling me every name in the book,” Obama said. “Lately, he’s called me a ‘socialist’ for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class. I don’t know what’s next. By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

… you’ve just got to chase it down with this:

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

John McCain seems determined to delve the lowest levels of stupidity. Just when we think his campaign and his statements can’t get any more ridiculous, he finds a new motherlode of idiocy to mine:


Economic growth may have fallen into negative territory*, but there’s at least one company that’s doing very well: ExxonMobil’s third quarter profits totaled $14.83 billion, the best quarter any U.S. company has
ever had.

Like practically everything else, this has campaign implications. The AP
reports
, “Republican presidential candidate John McCain seized on reports of record oil company profits Thursday to criticize Democratic rival Barack Obama for favoring tax breaks for the oil industry.”

That’s not a typo or an editing error. The McCain campaign saw ExxonMobil’s record-breaking profits as grounds to go after Obama for support tax breaks for Big Oil.

Honestly, how does one respond to something like this? By pointing out the $1.2 billion tax break McCain wants to give to ExxonMobil? By
noting the $4 billion in tax breaks McCain
supports for America’s largest oil companies? By highlighting the fact that McCain’s energy policy reflects Big Oil’s wish list? By reminding folks of McCain’s abysmal record on alternative energy solutions? By mentioning that McCain’s campaign is being run and financed by lobbyists for the oil industry?


I know it’s fashionable in Republicon circles right now to accuse your opponent of everything that you yourself do, but this is just insane. Batshit. Fucking. Insane.

This supreme idiocy may be explained by the following tidbit:


It’s probably fair to say conservative columnist George Will has been thoroughly unimpressed by John McCain of late. He’s blasted McCain for “behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high.” Will has lamented McCain’s “dismaying temperament.” He’s described McCain as “childish,” “shallow,” and suffering from a “Manichaean worldview.”

And today, Will labeled McCain “John the Careless,” citing among other things, McCain picking Sarah Palin for the GOP ticket because he eemed to believe “never having attended a ‘Georgetown cocktail party’ is sufficient qualification for the vice presidency.”

The column is worth reading, but this is the paragraph that stood out for me:


Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain’s question for his briefer was: “So, who is the villain?”


This is amusing, but it’s also important. McCain’s appreciation for policy complexities doesn’t exist. Maybe he’s impatient, maybe he’s easily confused, maybe both. But McCain not only prefers to see the world
as black and white, good guy vs. bad guy, he needs this dynamic to make sense of current events. Subtleties, nuances, and depth are inconvenient, and therefore dismissed.


A man who would be president cannot – let me repeat this, cannot – reduce complex issues to “hero” and “villain.” The world doesn’t work that way. If you insist on simplifying to this extent, you’re going to end up with four more years of Bushian dumbfuckery, in which those who don’t agree 100% with America end up dumped in the Axis of Evil bucket, problems can’t be solved, partisanship reaches ridiculous and deeply damaging levels, and the country suffers. We do not need another high-functioning moron in office. I have my doubts as to whether the words “high functioning” can even be applied to the McCain/Palin ticket.

We saw this kind of judgement go horribly awry in Iraq, and it’s still damaging us today:


The United States and Iraq are currently engaged in “tense” negotiations regarding the future of the U.S. military presence in Iraq after the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year. Just yesterday, the Iraqi Cabinet proposed changes that the U.S. has yet to approve.

But now, CQ’s Jeff Stein reports that according to NBC investigative reporter Aram Roston, former Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi — the White House’s favorite Iraqi in the run-up to the Iraq war — has been helping the Iranians stand in the way of the agreement:


Roston calls Chalabi a “key figure” in Iranian efforts to scuttle the status-of-forces agreement that is under fierce negotiation between Baghdad and Washington.

“He is seen more and more by the U.S. as a foreign agent, an Iranian agent,” Roston told me by telephone from Mexico, where he is vacationing. What Chalabi says is “equated” with the Iranian position on the status-of-forces agreement,
Roston said, which it opposes.


Chalabi told Iran’s state media last month that the U.S. wants secret
military bases in Iraq and Stein
notes that yesterday, a Shiite newspaper in Baghdad featured his opposition to the security agreement. In fact, last May, U.S. officials cut off all contact with Chalabi because of “unauthorized” contacts with the Iranian government.

This ratfucker has close ties to – who else – some of McCain’s most important advisors: Charlie Blackand Randy Scheunamann. They decided he’s not a villain, therefore he’s a hero, and therefore they got completely snowed by a con man.

And this is judgement we can believe in? I don’t bloody well think so.

No more simplistic fuckwits in charge of America. Please. We can’t survive another four years of this ignorant dumbfuckery.

Yup. We’re Officially Scarier than Teh Gays and Teh Moozlims

I’m sure this is burning through the godlessphere, but fuck it, I’m throwing my hat into the ring anyway:

Recent polling shows Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) trailing in her re-election fight in North Carolina against Democrat Kay Hagan, so it stands to reason that she’s getting a little desperate.

I didn’t think she’d get this desperate.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s latest advertisement suggests her Democratic opponent, Kay Hagan, is a godless heathen.

“A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser for Kay Hagan,” the 30-second spot says, showing footage of the group’s members talking about their atheist beliefs on cable news.

“Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money,” the ad concludes. “What did Kay Hagan promise in return?”

At the very end of the ad, a voice sounding like Hagan’s says: “There is no God.”

Seriously, Dole used a Hagan impersonator to make voters think she’s an atheist.

It’s hard to know where to start with an ad this deplorable. First, Hagan is actually a Sunday school teacher and an elder in her church. Second, the fundraiser in question was co-hosted by 40 people, one of whom is on the board of an atheist political action committee. Third, there’s nothing scandalous about non-believers.

And fourth, what the hell is “godless money”?

I don’t know, Steve. All of mine still says “IN GOD WE TRUST” on it, so even though I’ve done my level best to get my atheist cooties all over it, I don’t think it quite qualifies as “godless.”

This is just fucking ridiculous. These people are so shit-scared of atheists that even a Sunday school teacher can’t hang down with the heathens without getting smeared by a Rethuglicon hack. I think it says something about the strength of Kay Hagan’s faith that she can rub shoulders with us godless sorts and remain unfazed. Whereas Elizabeth Dole apparently thinks atheism is a contagious disease along the lines of SARS, which tells you something about the strength of her faith and character. I.e., they closely resemble cardboard that’s been soaking in an acid bath.

I’m sick to fucking death over the religious fuckery in this country. Religion or lack thereof was never meant to be the defining characteristic of a candidate for public office. I know this because our Constitution says so:

The “no religious test” clause of the United States Constitution is found in Article VI, section 3, and states that:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

Yet we have a defacto religious test in this country. You can be the most appallingly insane, fundamentalist freak of a Christian and still have a shot, but by God, you’d better believe in God or kiss your chances at office goodbye (with, what, two exceptions?).

And you can’t be just any sort of Christian. Catholics are somewhat acceptable but suspect. Mormons are right out. A Muslim snuck in, but good luck following in his footsteps, especially after the right-wing sturm und drang over Obama’s supposed Muslim background. No, in this country, in this time, if you’re not a WASP, you’ve got an uphill climb that makes Sisyphus whistle under his breath and exclaim, “Man, I don’t even you a bit.”

And while even frothing fucktards running for office tread at least somewhat carefully around outright calling folks of other faiths spawn of the devil, or being forced to apologize when they get too outrageous, it’s perfectly fine in our society to disparge atheists as much as you like.

I have news for these assclowns. That is going to change. I guaran-fucking-tee it.

You know, I was going to dress as Neil Gaiman’s Death for Halloween. But if I decide to head to North Carolina, it seems I’ll be able to go as myself instead. Who else wants to see Liddy Dole piss herself when this godless heathen grabs her in a bear hug for a photo op?

Everybody go show Steve Benen some love. He was one of the loudest voices speaking up for us on the political blogs today. Most of the others just fell over themselves blurting out how Kay was a good Christian without mentioning that it doesn’t fucking matter whether she’s a good Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist just as long as she’s a good human being.

More Steve, less pander, please.

Washington State Voting with Kitteh

Got me ballot. Got me Google. This is the brilliant thing about mail-in ballots: I can sit here and really scrutinize the bastard, make sure I’m not voting for something that’s all sizzle and no substance. Consider this Dana Hunter’s Official List of Endorsements for the 2008 Washington State Election.

Righty-o. In order of appearance:

I-985

Not no but fuck NO. On the surface, it looked decent enough: open the carpool lanes to all traffic during off-peak daytime hours (which Arizona does, and it makes it soooo much easier to get around), along with increased roadside assistance funding and other goodies. But two strikes: the Seattle P-I editors hate hate hate it, and it’s the darling of Tim Eyman. I hadn’t heard of Tim Eyman before tonight. I’ve now heard quite enough. NO.

I-1000

I wrote you two novels on this one a little while ago, so you all know where I stand on allowing terminally ill folks the right to end things with dignity and grace. Hell YES.

I-1029

Well, this one’s proving a bugger. Lot’s of noise against. However, after reviewing said noise, it appears that it’s the screaming of people who don’t want to have to undergo background checks and pay for training before they can care for the elderly. The people against are almost all home care businesses whose arguments sound like Republicon Talking Points 101. And they’re afraid of the scary union!!11!!1! SEIU was a driving force behind this, so of course it’s all about the evil unions trying to impose standards on the free market. Blah. Seriously, even if it costs a little extra, I’d rather the person caring for Grandma is certified and checked. YES.

Onward, ho.

How many fucking Charter Amendments can you stuff onto one ballot? Jeez. Eight of the thrice-bedamned things. This is when being a responsible citizen sucketh mightily.

Except… So far, ProgressiveVotersGuide.org has been with me 100%, so why not trust their judgement here? After cursory review, o’ course. So, the quick-and-dirty:

#1: Experience over popularity contest for Elections Director – sounds good to me. NO
#2: Prohibiting discrimination – duh. YES
#3: Less city council members on assorted committees. No fucking clue. I’m not a local policy wonk, so shall entrust my opinion to those who are. YES
#4: Establishing minimal qualifications – “We think our Sheriff , Assessor and Elections Director should know what they’re doing.” Me too. YES
#5: Improved economic forecasting. Hell, improved anything economic sounds good. YES
#6: More time to review a budget that has – ye gods – gone from the millions to the billions. YES
#7: Make laborious and confusing charter amendment stuff more simple. After what I’ve just been through with it? And I didn’t even have to propose one of these damned things! YES
#8: Removing party identification from some county offices – sponsored by three Republicons. Say no more. These fucktards can run, but they cannot hide. NO

Brilliant. I love that website. Too bad it’s only for Washington State, but I’m sure there’s one like it for yours. Use the power of teh Google and get informed.

Now that we’ve got that nonsense out of the way, it’s on to the super-important stuff: the first President I will ever vote for.

That’s going to be such a hard choice.


President and Vice President of the United States: I’m gonna have to plump for genius. Filling in this bubble feels so amazingly good. Barack Obama and Joe Biden. YES, WE CAN!

(BTW, you know this is a blue state when there’s not one but two Socialist parties on the Presidential portion of the ballot. Wow.)

Now on to the second most exciting part of my evening: I FINALLY GET TO VOTE FOR JAY INSLEE OMG!!11!11!1! Ahem.

United States Representative Congressional District No. 1: Jay Inslee.

Damn, that feels good. Two of my favorite politicians in the entire fucking universe, there.

Governor: No question, no doubt in my mind. Christine Gregoire. Suck it, Dino!

Lieutenant Governor: Well, Marcia McCraw gets brownie points for not being a gutless wonder and actually owning the name Republicon, but still. Brad Owen.

Secretary of State: Shit, this one’s really hard. I swore to myself I’d never vote for a single Republicon, but Sam Reed’s endorsement list is a mile bloody long, and even the ProgressiveVotersGuide.org loves him. Wingnuts hate him. And it is not my policy to punish a man for his party. Crapola. Sam Reed.

State Treasurer: Not really a contest here. When you have two solid candidates, and one of them’s a good solid Dem, and you’re a lefty, you plump for the Dem. Jim McIntire.

State Auditor: Now, I’m tempted to vote for the Dem for two reasons. 1 – he’s a Dem; 2 – I like his last name. But this is not responsible voting. We now consult the oracles. The Stranger and ProgressiveVotersGuide.org both agree: Brian Sonntag.

Attorney General: Strong record of supporting civil liberties, reproductive rights, consumer rights, AND environmental protection vs. anti-abortion Republicon climber who let Dino weasel out of calling himself a Con. No fucking contest. John Ladenburg.

Commissioner of Public Lands: (I know, when we get down into the ballot’s nether regions, it’s about as exciting as watching sheep graze. But this shit’s still important. Stick with me – we’ll get there.) Hey, a biologist! And a Dem!!1! Easy: Peter J. Goldmark.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Hmm. Non-partisan office. Challenger does not appear to be a closet creationist and has assloads of political (former Democratic State Rep) and educational experience. Current incumbant couldn’t answer the questions on the noxious standardized test she forces all students to pass. FAIL. Randy Dorn.

Insurance Commissioner: The Stranger says we should stick it to one of the Founding Fathers. I have a harder time with this – John Adams is also one of my characters. But my John Adams is no fucking Republicon, and the Democratic challenger is an advocate of health care reform and other progressive goodness. Mike Kreidler.

Legislative District No. 45, Position No 1: This is where endorsements matter, because I’ve paid fuck-all attention to local races. I shall plump for the candidate supported by the people I believe in, and when you have one guy supported by a huge swath of organizations out to do good, and one endorsed by nothing but business interests, the choice is simple: Roger Goodman.

Position No 2: Ditto, Larry Springer.

(And yes, I peeked at the issues, too. And yes, the Republicons running are Republicons. ‘Nuff said.)

State Supreme Court Justice Position No. 3: Spoiled for choices here. We have a name and a blank line, and not even my trusty voter guides seem to have this one on the radar. However, Judgepedia gives me enough info to know I don’t need to write in Screaming Rubber Chicken as a protest vote. Mary Fairhurst.

Position No. 4: Judgepedia likes him. Charles W. Johnson.

Position No. 7: Heh. She looked like such an easy shoo-in that her challenger dropped out. Debra L. Stephens.

Court of Appeals etc. etc. No. 5: Judgepedia fails me, but Google shows the only contender was appointed by Gov. Gregoire, and there seem to have been no embarrassing incidents. Good ’nuff. Linda Lau.

No. 6: Holy shit, she’s got an assload of experience. No scandals Google could find. Ann Schindler.

Superior Court Judge Position No. 1: Finally, some competition again! I’ll take the candidate endorsed by NARAL, thanks. Sue Parisien.

No. 22: The lady described as “This badass former federal civil-rights attorney” by the Stranger so has my vote. Holly Hill.

No. 37: I’ll take the candidate who’s rated “outstanding” and “exceptionally well qualified” AND is endorsed by NARAL and Equal Rights Washington. Jean Rietschel.

And, at long last… the final vote to be cast. Prop. No. 1: Mass Transit Expansion. Hell to the YES. Or, in this case, APPROVED.

Fini. A few hours with Google, and I’ve been a responsible voter, choosing people that I think are best qualified for the positions they’re running for (don’t you fucking make me regret that one Republican vote, Sam!) and choosing the right stand on the ballot measures. In the Age o’ the Intertoobz, there is no reason on earth why you can’t do the same.

Kitteh sez: GET OUT THE VOTE! Even if you punk off the rest of the ballot, she’d like you to vote for this man:

They not only share political views, but exquisite taste in columns.

PSTP Coming Soon

Just a quick update. For those who actually read them, there will be a new Press Start To Play next week. It’ll probably be a long one, so I may not include it in its entirety, or I may offer a download of the full article. Or I’ll just throw it all up there. We’ll see. In any case, we are doing a unit on music in my writing class (why we’re doing a unit on music in my writing class is, well, sort of a problem) and I chose to do mine on the history and evolution of video game music. It is a four or five page paper, which is why I am debating on how to transcribe it here.

So stay tuned for next week’s episode of Press Start To Play!

-Jsnf

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

The right wing must be totally illiterate or unbelievably dishonest. There’s no other explanation for enormously stupid statements like this:


Right-wing radio host Dennis Prager spoke before an audience of 3,000 at Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, during which he attacked the “left” for constructing “a grand edifice of lies about America.” One of those lies, according to Prager, is that “equality” is an American value:



Equality, which is the primary value of the left, is a European value, not an American value. Let me tell you that right now. I
know this sounds offensive to half of my fellow Americans, because they have been Europeanized in their values. The French Revolution is not the American Revolution. The French Revolution said Liberty, Fraternity, Equality. The American Revolution said Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We have lost touch with what our distinctive American values are. We have distinctive American values. … We have a better value system, and this is being protected by one of the two parties: the Republican party.


[snip]

It’s a good thing Prager was there to explain the ideals behind the American Revolution. Otherwise, Americans might have relied on “Europeanized” documents like the Declaration of Independence:


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…


These fuckwits have no idea what “American values” actually are. And they seem to be getting more ignorant by the instant.

They can’t even answer the simplest of questions:


Last night on CNN, host Larry King — taking a viewer question — asked former Bush administration press secretary Ari Fleischer, “How would a McCain administration be different to Bush’s on foreign and economic policies?” Instead of answering the question, Fleischer diverted into how both McCain and Bush are similar:


FLEISCHER: Well, you know, on foreign policy, number one, John McCain will be a powerful supporter of Israel, just as George Bush was. So I’m going to go right to that where there is an agreement.


When King tried to steer him back on course, noting that “the question was different,” Fleischer finally settled on taxes and global warming and falsely claimed that McCain called on Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld.

[snip]

It is rather odd that Fleischer cited taxes as an economic policy difference between Bush and McCain. While McCain did vote against Bush’s tax cuts, if elected president, he plans to extend and double those same cuts — giving most of the benefit to big corporations and the wealthy, while allowing the federal deficit to skyrocket.

Moreover, Fleischer’s example of a foreign policy difference between McCain and Bush isn’t even true. McCain never called for the firing of
Rumsfeld, a fact that even the McCain campaign
has acknowledged.


It’s pathetic that right-wing hacks can’t even comprehend the questions put to them. Utterly pathetic that a former press secretary can’t even understand what the word “different” means. And as for knowing what their candidate has said: epic fucking fail.

And this grade-school “I know you are but what am I?” bullshit is getting old in a hurry:


By now, I suspect most people have seen the breathtaking interview between Joe Biden and Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, in which, by any reasonable standard, West’s questions fell somewhere between “ridiculous” and “in need of medication.”

Soon after, the Obama campaign realized there wasn’t much point in talking to Barbara West. She’s not really a journalist, the campaign wouldn’t be treated professionally, and there’s no real point in having a dialog.

In response, John McCain is now whining to Fox News’ Sean Hannity about the Obama campaign’s media “boycotts.” McCain said, “[I]f anybody in the media, much less Joe the Plumber asks a tough question, then they’re boycotted. They pull their ads, etc.”

I sincerely wonder about McCain’s grip on reality sometimes. Amanda Terkel noted the irony of McCain’s latest complaints.


* McCain canceled an appearance on CNN’s Larry King Live after CNN’s Campbell Brown conducted a tough interview with McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds about Palin’s foreign policy experience.

* Last month, the McCain camp
aign barred New York Times
columnist Maureen Dowd from flying on both the McCain and Palin press planes after she wrote a negative column.

* McCain campaign officials barred Time’s Joe Klein from traveling with them, after he asked McCain an uncomfortable question about foreign policy.

* Campaign officials have repeatedly gone on air to bash journalists after tough interviews, saying that Katie Couric asked Palin “a series of trapdoor questions,” the New York Times “cast aside it’s journalistic integrity to advocate for the defeat of John McCain,” and demanded that the media treat Palin with “deference.”


If you’re going to bitch and moan about what somebody else does, it’s generally a good idea to make sure you’re not doing that horrible thing yourself. But not Republicons. They think double standards are perfectly acceptable.

Two words: Hell. No. We’ve played that game for eight fucking years. We’re done.

That could be why battleground state numbers look like this:


The new CNN polls confirm the conventional wisdom that Barack Obama is close to locking up Colorado and Virgnia — a combination that would would deliver him the presidency if he holds on to all the Kerry states — and he’s running strong in other swing states, too:

• Colorado: Obama 53%, McCain 45%. Two weeks ago, Obama led 51%-47%.

• Florida: Obama 51%, McCain 47%, not all that different from the 51%-46% Obama lead two weeks ago.

• Georgia: McCain 52%, Obama 47%. This is not significantly changed from the 53%-45% McCain lead a week ago — but it is significantly different from the 17-point win that George W. Bush had here in 2004, and could have serious implications in down-ticket races.

• Missouri: McCain 50%, Obama 48%, basically the same as a 49%-48% McCain lead two weeks ago.

• Virginia: Obama 53%, McCain 44%, not significantly changed from the 54%-44% Obama lead two weeks ago.

All five of these states went to George W. Bush twice, and combined they have a total of 75 electoral votes. These surveys all have a margin of error of ±3.5%.


We’re so dramatically sick of the lies and the bullshit that even blood-red states are turning purple. Game fucking over.

Jesus Wuz a Socialist!

Some inconvenient truths about Jesus:

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48)

Sounds like that dirty liberal Jesus was an anti-American socialist commie freak, doesn’t it? I hear he was also into giving to the poor (OMG, redistribution of weath! WELFARE!!11!1!) and thought rich people would have a hard time getting into heaven.

Wait a sec. Isn’t Sarah Palin a big fan o’ Jesus? Doesn’t that make her an anti-American socialist commie freak?

Why, yes. Yes, I believe it does.