Regarding People Who Vote Against Their Own Interests

Walker, Wisconsin Danger

The following comes to you through a chain of association I hope will continue. I got it from Krista Smiling Wolf Hill, who got it from the blog of Al Stefanelli, who got it from his friend Joe Markey. It originated with someone posting in an online forum under the screen name “yeahIknow5.” I hope you’ll read it and pass it on in turn.

Reading it, I felt that it might well have been written about my own father, or any number of other folks I know who have locked-down minds and are easy prey for the authoritarian puppeteers of our world. Continue reading

Well Nigh Apocalypse

An undead ex-VP rejects another heart…

Thousands of black birds with blood-red marks fall from the sky…

Dead fish choke the shores…

A troll doll from a northern state gets a book deal…

Orcs seize control of the House…

A newt and a hagfish in grizzly furs set their crazed eyes to the White House…

The Rupture is nigh.

Wikileaks FTW!

I love me some Wikileaks.

Julian Assange is a superhero. Or, actually, the hero of the most relevant thriller Robert Ludlum never wrote. I would buy him a beer and toast his health and hide him in my basement while Homeland Security agents menace me with buckets of Freedom Water.

Our government, like all governments, is made up of human beings, full of flaws and foibles. Additionally, like all governments, the sort of people who often fill its halls of power are people who seek not the betterment of the world, but power and money and self-aggrandizement. To trust them wholly, to not question, and to attack those who do, is to be an idiot.

(Which reminds me of my favorite quote of the week, from Keith Olbermann: “Calling an idiot an idiot is not personal – its almost mathematical.”)

People get all bent out of shape when “our side” gets pegged for doing the wrong thing. They think it harms us when “our” misdeeds are swept into the light for all to see. Actually, it harms us when those who represent us mis-do. Pointing it out gives us a chance to look at our mistakes and try to do better. Continue reading

Sarah Palin, Mom of the Year?

I don’t watch much TV. I especially don’t watch much reality TV. So I missed out on the exciting antics displayed on this last season of Dancing With The Stars.

I do follow political news, however, so I’m somewhat aware of the controversy about supporters of Sarah Palin gaming the voting to make Bristol Palin win, and the show making some sort of changes in how they handled things to prevent such abuse.

The previous paragraph entirely sums up my knowledge on the matter, and is probably more than I need to know.

Someone did point me to an interesting blog post from Margaret Cho, who apparently also danced on the show.

Everyone was trying to pit me against Bristol, but the truth is, we got along well. She never asked me to babysit Tripp or anything like that, but I consider her a friend…

…Although I don’t agree with the family’s politics at all, I really like Bristol as a person. She’s warm and incredibly supportive, and I think that she looks beautiful out on the dance floor.

She also shares her understanding of exactly why Bristol was on the show in the first place:

I heard from someone who really should know (really should seriously know the dirt really really) that the only reason Bristol was on the show was because Sarah Palin forced her to do it. Sarah supposedly blames Bristol harshly and openly (in the circles that I heard it from) for not winning the election, and so she told Bristol she “owed” it to her to do DWTS so that “America would fall in love with her again” and make it possible for Sarah Palin to run in 2012 with America behind her all the way. Instead of being supposedly “handicapped” by the presence of her teen mom daughter, now Bristol is going to be an “asset” – a celebrity beloved for her dancing.

To be much fairer to Sarah Palin than she ever is to anyone she disagrees with, this is, of course, hearsay. But it rings true. That’s the Sarah Palin we see just about every day. And if this is true, we can only hope that Bristol can break free of her mom’s harpy grip to dance her way to a full life without mommy dearest pulling the strings.

More Mom-Abuse by the TSA

Another outrageous account of TSA misdeeds, this time toward a mother and child flying out of Atlanta’s own Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

My son was taken from me.

Taken.

My son was taken from me by the TSA agents at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport yesterday.

He was taken away from me and OUT OF MY SIGHT because his pacifier clip went off when I carried him through the metal detector.

According to the Transportation Security Administration website, “We will not ask you to do anything that will separate you from your child or children.”

Bullshit TSA.

You took my son. MY SON.

The full account is here.

It’s definitely worth a read. The sheer banal evil of these low-level security cogs — mall cops with Gestapo authority complexes — is astonishing.

(I provided video of an earlier incident and some thoughts on this stuff earlier, at this link.)

The Pointless Abuse of a Travelling Mother By TSA

A few thoughts before we look at the event cited in this entry’s title…

Studies indicate that roughly 30% of people have what is called an “authoritarian personality,” signified by three correlative traits:

  1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
  2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
  3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one’s society should also be required to adhere to these norms. (Source: The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer)

You can spot this syndrome easily enough, especially in these days when an entire “news” network is designed to cater to that personality. Lately I’ve been seeing it in some people’s comments regarding the TSA’s pointless and Draconian screening of American citizens in airports.

An author who’s one of my Facebook friends posted this as his status:

So tired of all of the body scanner bitching. Scan me. Pat me up and pat me down. I don’t care as long as I don’t get blown up. This is the world we’ve made for ourselves, and it’s not changing anytime soon. If you don’t like it, don’t fly.

That’s very much an authoritarian statement (though not evidence in itself of an authoritarian personality, I don’t know the guy well enough to pin that on him).

Someone else replied to his post:

I agree. I rather be safe. Unfortunately, this politically correct world is what it is.

Woven firmly through both statements is an assumption that what is being done is just fine because those in authority have decided it’s what must be done. Continue reading

A Tip On How To Avoid Spreading Lies (and how not to be taken in by them)

An old friend just posted this as their status on Facebook:

Dear Mr. President,

I hear you want to freeze pay rates for military
starting next year. Would you also consider cutting yours to save much
more money for our country? While you’re at it, lets cut down congress’
pay too. If the people who risk their lives don’t get a pay raise, why
…would we continue raising pay for those who send us “over there”? Copy paste if you agree

Thing is, it’s bogus. This is exactly the sort of non-factual knowledge I’ve written about here and there, lies spread passionately among millions of Americans too willing to accept any bad news about their political opponents, or just too lazy to do a few minutes’ fact-checking so they know they’re spreading truth not propaganda.

It’s tough for me to take time out of my day (or night, as it’s late, I’m tired, and I really ought to be in bed) to defend President Obama, because I’m not a huge fan myself. But if you’re going to criticise him, people, please make sure you know what the fuck you’re talking about. Otherwise you’re a pawn of liars, a liar yourself, or just a stupid sheep easily led where they want to take you.

I wasn’t previously aware of this particular lie. It took less than a minute for me to search Google (“Obama military pay freeze”), and find the truth, in detail. The first link was to a page at Snopes with everything laid out plainly for anyone to see. Snopes is a great site for checking the veracity of rumors, political and otherwise.

A Great Joke

Thanks to Sherran Lucas for this…

The Pope and Sarah Palin are on the same stage in Yankee Stadium in front of a huge crowd. The Pope leans towards Mrs. Palin and says, “Do you know that with one little wave of my hand I can make every person in this crowd go wild with joy?”

Palin replies, “I seriously doubt that with one little wave of your hand? Show me!”

So the Pope backhands her.


A Friendly Challenge to Conservative Voters

To my conservative friends and foes, first let me say, congratulations on your win. Unlike the Democrats, you managed to fill your heads with steam and ire and get out the vote. You also got a great deal of financial support from those good folks on Wall Street who really want to continue doing things the way they have been, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue than what I want to address now.

No, what I want to address now is your tendency to create your own reality, which just doesn’t jibe with anything actually like, you know, reality. You’re the most masterful wielders of confirmation bias I think anyone can see outside a psycho ward. In fact, over the past decade, your entire political and social SOP is what some, in the first half of the last century, termed the “Big Lie.”

(Which I’ve blogged on before, for the interested.)

Now, I realize I’m likely annoying you with my somewhat insulting, patronizing tone, but I humbly ask your forbearance. In my eyes, what happened Tuesday was almost uniformly a travesty for my beloved country and its people, and the bile hasn’t settled. Just think about how long it took yours to settle after Obama won. Oh right. It hasn’t yet.

I am, sincerely, interested in your thoughts on this stuff, though. Below is a clip from The Rachel Maddow show. Wait, wait, I know you’re programmed to stick your fingers in your ears and screech like an owl with its wing stuck in a car door when that hateful liberal dyke opens her trap, but for once, please, hear her out. I challenge you to actually watch this segment and respond to it with reason.

To me, she makes her case. And though I’m on the other side of the political divide from you, I’m not prone to simple acceptance of arguments which back up my side. As Rachel usually does, she provides actual evidence for her claims. And if she’s right, you’re living in a closed circuit echo chamber that creates its own “facts” and refuses to allow evidence into the loop that would disprove those “facts.”

Your reaction to this video could well prove her point further. I’m interested in that possibility. I’m also interested in knowing if, when faced with the possibility that the awe-inspiring righteous reportage of Fox News is actually misleading you all the time, you’re able to take a step back and see that perhaps they’re not so “fair and balanced” at all.

And don’t throw MSNBC’s partisanship at me, or rail about the liberal media, as deflections. Today we’re talking about this right wing echo chamber, and whether you can step outside it long enough to even see that it exists.

If it does exist, how can you continue to let it be your primary source of “fact?”

If it doesn’t, how do you explain Rachel’s individual points of evidence?

I hope you’ll watch the video and share your thoughts in the comments below.

MSNBC video: Echoing falsehoods still dont ring true.

Bumper Sticker Omens and The Lost Presidency

You’re not the president of me!

I had a custom bumper sticker of that statement printed during the first term of George W. Bush’s malodorous presidency, and the sentiment grew stronger day by day by day throughout his entire reign. That sticker, and my Re-elect Gore in 2008 sticker, decorated the back of my Trooper the whole time, and were joined by an Obama 2008 sticker only after Barack Obama sealed the deal as the Democratic candidate once and for all.

After Obama took office, I tried to remove the sticker, but the adhesive was too strong. I kept intending to take some sort of solvent to it, but didn’t get around to it. I did, however, take a black permanent marker to the word “not” as a temporary measure, making it read You’re the president of me. I didn’t want anyone seeing the sticker and thinking it was meant for Obama. He was not my first choice ( I still maintain that Gore should have run, and was the right man for the job), but I voted for him and hoped he’d do great things. He got automatic points for replacing the worst fucking president this country has ever had.

Obama’s been in office about a year now, so it’s worth appraising what he’s accomplished done so far.

  • Abandoned a leadership role in health care reform, except when he has worked to cripple it (as in taking single payer off the table before the debate even began, making secret deals with the very corporate powers we need to de-power, stating support for a public option while actually working against one behind the scenes, and allowing Joe Lieberman and a handful of other congressfolk to seize control of the issue from the elected majority).
  • Refused to allow proper investigation into probable criminal acts perpetrated by the Bush administration, obstructed release of incriminating information about same, and an embrace of  the same sort of misuse of executive power that Bush specialized in.
  • Treated the progressive constituency that elected him with condescension and disdain while seeking over and over to court right-wing cooperation in “bipartisanship” that never gets anywhere, and has netted him only unflinching and uncompromising obstruction from those he’s trying to reach, as well as a widespread personal demonization from the conservative rabble that often walks the line of encouraging violence.
  • Scuttled from making any changes to help his LGBT constituency in any ways at all, contrary to what he’d promised.
  • Failed to follow through on his promise to close Guantanamo Bay (and when it does happen, shows every sign of continuing similar policies toward prisoners wherever they happen to be held instead).
  • Poured untold billions of taxpayer dollars into bailouts of the corrupt entities that (unregulated during the Bush years) destroyed our economy, without bothering to make them accountable for the money or what they did with it, while millions of Americans lose their jobs, homes, and financial security without help.
  • Unceasingly favored corporate/financial interests over the interests of the American people at large.
  • Increased our commitment to pointless, expensive wars rather than beginning an intelligent process of withdrawing our troops.
  • Buckled over and over in the face of partisan opposition, failing to stand strong as a president elected by a strong majority.

God, I could go on and on, but it’s wearing me out just looking back at this man’s record thus far. There’s still time for him to step up and do some good things, but at the moment, I couldn’t vote for him again regardless of who he may be running against, because he’s taking my vote for granted in a way I just will not support. He and his staff obviously figure they can count on progressive votes because, after all, who else can we vote for?

The answer, as far as I’m concerned, is (a) anyone who gives him a primary challenge. or (b) no one. My best case scenario at the moment is a strong Democratic challenger bumping him from office next time around, and keeping Democratic majorities in Congress that that person would hopefully actually use for the good of our country. Second best, and this is something I never would have thought I’d say, would be a Republican defeating him while Congress stays Democratic enough to hopefully prevent the Republican from doing too much damage. No politician should hold themselves above accountability for their actions.

And that bumper sticker?

Well, unlike my Obama sticker, it’s still on my truck. Over the months the black ink over the word “not” has gradually washed away. Now I figure maybe I couldn’t remove it because I wasn’t meant to just yet. Listen up, Barack:

You’re not the president of me!

And you won’t be until you start doing the goddamned job you promised you were going to do.

Good Memories of 2009, Day 2: A Nightmare Ends

Barack Obama

Let’s make that

Bush’s Presidency Ends

Though Obama’s better than Bush (as most people, animals, plants, or objects would be),  he spent the last year mainly pissing me off. But this is supposed to be things I enjoyed, and watching Bush go the hell away was a definite high point.

BUSH'S PLAN FOR AMERICA