Category Archives: Maniacs and Morons and Robber Barons

McCain scares me

I do think that even though there’s some equivocation and disingenuousness going on in this video (voting to extend tax cuts is not the same as voting against the tax cuts in the first place) there’s enough material here to remind us that McCain’s so-called "straight talk" is really anything but.

Thanks to filkmaster Tom Smith for the heads up and the video.

The Undead Campaign

I still maintain that Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign is a zombie campaign at this point; most pundits seem to think that her win in West Virginia doesn’t mean much now that Obama has taken the lead in the popular vote, in states won, and in superdelegates. And today, Obama picked up an endorsement from John Edwards, one of the more prestigious endorsements. It doesn’t seem link Clinton has a shot at this point, despite the tone of inevitability about her Presidency that dominated politics just a year ago.

I’m not a Clinton hater, by any means. I have a lot of admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton. I’m impressed by her determination, and I’m thankful that we finally had a woman candidate for President worth taking seriously. I think she got a raw deal in the media. Powerful women don’t do well in the American media in particular (when there are other nations with women as the head of state, you’d think we’d get over ourselves on that issue). Just about every article about Clinton I’ve read mentions what she’s wearing, as if that were relevant. Most of the photographs I’ve seen of her in the news have been epically unflattering. It’s as if she had been reinvented by the media into a parody of herself, which sickens me. Clinton’s just as tough as Margaret Thatcher, and doesn’t deserve to be treated like that.

I would love to have a woman president. It would be kind of hard for anyone to justify gender-based pay inequities, for example, when a woman is leader of the free world. I think her Presidency would have inspired women and girls not just in the US but around the world. Having a woman for President would say a lot for our nation’s ability to develop some moral integrity.

Of course, on the other hand, an African American President would be just as awesome. African Americans have gotten a raw deal in our nation since its very beginning, and any attempt to proclaim that prejudice no longer exists is blatant denialism. Electing an African American for our leader would really make a statement about how far we have come, as a nation. Honestly, this is part of what inspires me about the Obama campaign. There would still be wounds in our nation — and people who insist on keeping those wounds open — but an Obama presidency would be a tremendous gift to future generations (as would a Hillary Clinton presidency, of course).

I still think Hillary Clinton would make a hell of a Vice President. I’m not sure I could handle the joy I’d get from an Obama/Clinton ticket. If Obama is elected and does the job we hire him to do for eight years, then Hillary Clinton would have an even better shot at the Presidency in 2016.

Of course, by 2020, we’d probably end up with another conservative nutjob in office. Our nation generally follows a cycle where we elect Republicans, who screw up our economy and national reputation and our moral high ground, thus paving the way for a Democratic administration to fix up the mess. And once the Democrats do fix things up, the general public gets a bee in its bonnet about something — oral sex, for example, which killed the first Clinton presidency and probably broke Gore’s chances of winning in 2000 since Bush apparently had "character" — and elects a Republican administration to start the whole cycle over again, since Republicans are about "family values" (which apparently means soliciting underage pages and trolling for gay sex in public restrooms while frothing about the "homosexual agenda").

Dammit, now my blood pressure is elevated again. Time for me to stop talking politics and start talking about something less divisive, like religion.

Just remember, politics is like PBS — only without the P.

Real Life Zombie

I am, of course, talking about the Clinton campaign. It’s dead but it won’t stop moving around, grasping desperately at votes and delegates like a zombie lunging after brains.

There are plenty of things that bug me about the Clinton campaign, from the unscrupulous way they’re trying to reseat the delegates from states that were told directly that their primary votes wouldn’t count to her castigation of Barack Obama as an "elitist". And it’s kind of sad, too, because there was a time when I wouldn’t have minded Clinton as president. I miss the days of the first Clinton presidency, that eight year long nightmare of prosperity and peace which Bush brought an end to. There was a time when I thought Hillary Clinton would have done as well as her husband as President. Now she’s coming across to me as desperate and sort of creepy. And while tenacity and determination are good qualities for a President to have, that’s not what Clinton’s displaying.

But what I think saddens me the most about the Clinton campaign is the good will that she’s losing, especially among the Democrats and the Obama supporters who would have once been happy with Clinton as President. With her snipes and jabs, she’s squandering that good will, calling Obama an elitist — a term I’m not convinced is actually an insult — and continuing to press on about Reverend Wright, an issue that many voters in many polls have indicated just doesn’t matter to them. And while politics is never a clean game, the filth isn’t supposed to drip from a campaign like bits of flesh and grave dirt from a shambling zombie. She’s alienated many Obama supporters, plenty of whom are convinced at this point that she wouldn’t be any better a President than McCain, who has all but promised more of the sort of nonsense the Bush administration has brought us.

I suppose it’s possible that Clinton might make a comeback. After all, we’ve already seen McCain’s campaign shuffle back into life after it was declared DOA just a year ago. Clinton’s challenge, then, if she beats Obama to the nomination, will be convincing the public, including all of the alienated Democrats she’s created, that she’s not actually a Republican.

I don’t hold out much hope.

"I'm Here Because of Ashley"

Damn, that was one hell of a speech.  I am SO hoping that Obama becomes the Democratic candidate for President.  America needs vision again, and I really, honestly, believe that Obama has the vision that American needs.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina.  She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer.  And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care.  They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches.  Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice.  Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally.  But she didn’t.  She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign.  They all have different stories and reasons.  Many bring up a specific issue.  And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time.  And Ashley asks him why he’s there.  And he does not bring up a specific issue.  He does not say health care or the economy.  He does not say education or the war.   He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama.  He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

"I’m here because of Ashley."  By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough.  It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start.  It is where our union grows stronger.  And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

I’m still boggling at the concept of seeing a politician that I can feel good about voting for.  If he becomes the Democratic candidate for President, then it will be such a relief, come November, to vote for a candidate because I like him, and not because I felt I was voting for the lesser of two evils.

(Not that I’m changing the category name I use for politics — politicians in general are still maniacs, morons, and robber barons.  Just so we’re clear on that.)

A Wee Political Moment

Most of the time, I despise politics with the same sort of loathing that cats have for water, but with less subtlety.  However, I’ve actually come around this year to feeling something really unexpected and odd… a sense, shall I say, of an actual shred of respect and a feeling that.. dare I say it… I might actually vote for a candidate that I like, as opposed to disliking less?  The distinction is important, you know; in 2004 I voted for Kerry with the sort of enthusiasm that I would go to get a root canal: kind of painful, but still important.  I mean, the root canal was better than the alternative, which was a continuing infection in the tooth, leading to an abscess and possible amputation of the jaw.  But a root canal still hurts, dammit.

This year, though, I feel like I can actually vote for Barack Obama not because I dislike him less than the other candidates, but because I actually have a positive like for him.  I feel inspired by his speeches.  I feel like he actually has a grasp on the issues that I care about: things like poverty, education, technology, science, and so on.  The man knows what he’s talking about, too, and doesn’t sound like a buffoon who slid through college on C’s and Daddy’s money.

So this Tuesday I will happily cast my vote for Barack Obama, and I will actually do it without cringing.  That sense of approving of a candidate may change, but for now I think I’ll enjoy it.

Up until now, I’d been wavering between Obama and Clinton.  I like Hillary Clinton, and I think she’d be a respectable leader.  And I love the idea of a woman as President, and I’m thrilled that we finally have a serious woman candidate for the Presidency.  But even ignoring the issues of the baggage she’d bring and the inevitable Republican smears that will come along, I still think Obama would be a better leader.

I must confess that it was Jonathan Coulton who tipped the balance for me.  I mean, if a geek pop singer who sings songs like "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "Re: Your Brains" will actively endorse a candidate, then I gotta listen.

Well, okay.  It was that, plus Obama’s "Call to Renewal" speech from 2006.

The Terror Begins

Halloween is almost here, which means that in addition to the ghouls and zombies and mass murderers and aliens, the politicians are slowly crawling out of the woodwork to start peddling themselves as somehow "qualified" to lead the nation.  Even though the election is still over a year away, there are still plenty of reasons to be afraid: Mitt Romney, Hilary Clinton, Rudy Giulani, Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Jon Edwards, and more.  Barack Obama doesn’t scare me as much as most of the others, but I still believe that Douglas Adams said it best: anyone who is actually capable of getting themselves elected President should under no circumstances be allowed to have the job — unfortunately, though, there seems to be no other way of getting a willing person into the position.

There are, however, a couple of candidates I’m willing to support, for several reasons.

First of all, there’s Bruce Campbell.  While there has yet to be an official "Bruce Campbell for President" site established on the web, a Google query on the phrase ‘Bruce Campbell for President" still yields quite a few results.  For the past few years, our nation has been engaged in a war on terror, but the average American is actually more likely to be attacked by a zombie or a reanimated corpse possessed by some sort of hellbound demon than by a terrorist (no matter what the Department of Homeland Security says), and no one is more qualified to take the Deadite threat head on than Bruce.  Since Ash isn’t a real person, we can at least settle for The Chin.  (By the way, has anyone else heard about a possible Jason vs. Freddy vs. Ash film?  I think it’s a fine idea; Universal has been throwing monsters at each other since the Wolfman met Frankenstein’s Monster in 1939.)

However, if current trends toward autocracy and authoritarianism are more to your taste, you might want to consider voting for General Zod.  He, at least, will be an honest despot.  Some might think that Lex Luthor would be a better choice with his business acumen, but Zod has a stronger record of intergalactic tyranny.

Who else would be your choice?  Personally, I’m going to recommend Bruce Campbell.  But this is a free country, and we have historically gotten the Presidents that we deserve.

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Things that Bug Me

Things that bug me:

  1. Oppression bugs me.  Despite all the problems I have with the current Administration, I recognize that I’m damn lucky to live in the US, where (for the most part) the average person can’t get thrown into jail or sent into hiding for blogging against the government’s policies.
  2. Government Orchestrated Murder bugs me.  Hundreds dead in a brutal government crackdown.  That bugs me.
  3. And as if government crackdowns weren’t enough, pre existing brutality bugs me as well.
  4. Ongoing random arrests bug me; hundreds hauled away for "questioning".
  5. Nationwide starvation bugs me.  The poorest are always the ones who suffer, even as food prices soar and a corrupt government siphons off all the nation’s riches for itself.
  6. Violent government response to peaceful protest bugs me.

I’m also bugged by the fact that I can sit here, comfortable in my job and nice home, overwhelmingly wealthy in comparison to most of the rest of the people on the planet, while millions of people worldwide, and not just in Burma, suffer starvation and oppression and violence.

And most of all I’m bugged by the fact that I can’t do a damn thing about any of it, except link to the following website, and hope that somehow my voice can do a tiny little bit of good.

Free Burma!

Quote of the Day

Via Slacktivist:

I believe in the power of prayer. And part of what I believe in is that, through prayer, not only can we strengthen ourselves in adversity, but that we can also find the empathy and the compassion and the will to deal with the problems that we do control. Most of the issues that we’re debating here today are ones that we have the power to change. We don’t have the power to prevent illness in all cases, but we do have the power to make sure that every child gets a regular checkup and isn’t going to the emergency room for treatable illnesses like asthma. We may not have the power to prevent a hurricane, but we do have the power to make sure that the levees are properly reinforced and we’ve got a sound emergency plan. And so, part of what I pray for is the strength and the wisdom to be able to act on those things that I can control. And that’s what I think has been lacking sometimes in our government. We’ve got to express those values through our government, not just through our religious institutions.

Senator Barack Obama

This was from a recent debate where one fellow emailed in a question about whether the candidates thought that the "power of prayer" could have prevented tragedies like the collapse of the Minnesota bridge.  Obama, in my opinion, answered that question in the only sensible way possible: bridge collapses and mine cave-ins are not of God’s doing, nor are they necessarily of Man’s doing.  It’s in our response to those disasters that defines us, and it’s our prayers and our faith that give us the strength to respond to those disasters.

I’ve been kind of lukewarm on Obama (he seems like an upright guy, but the fact that he wants to be President automatically makes him dangerously suspect in my book), but this makes me warm up to him just a little.

Another Brave Soldier Fallen

Now, I know that the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is a cause of joy to all patriotic Americans who love their country, but I admit I’m a little sad.  It’s not just that it’s inevitable that Bush will replace him with someone who’s just as committed to putting politics over law (ideally someone who has already fouled up one Federal agency and has been rejected by the Republican Senate twice on grounds of incompetency), or that Gonzales’s departure probably won’t help bring the rest of the administration to justice.

No, it’s that the man was such a master of comedy, bringing an almost dada-esque level of absurdity to an administration that has gotten so weird that parodying it is, frankly, impossible (it’s like trying to spoof Monty Python; you just can’t parody parody).  Who can forget classic exchanges like this:

GONZALES:  I clarified that question with the reporters.
SENATOR:  So what, exactly, did you tell the reporters?
GONZALES:  I didn’t talk to the reporters.
SENATOR:  Okay.  So what did your spokesperson tell the reporters?
GONZALES:  I don’t know.

Only Gonzales could deliver that kind of dialog with the proud smirk that said, "I’m untouchable and you know it, so bite on that, losers!"  I think that what Congress failed to understand was that Gonzales was an underappreciated master of absurd whimsy.

Perhaps the government’s loss will be the Improv’s gain.  I’d bet that Gonzales will show up on Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

Of course, Fred Clarke over at Slacktivist raises some interesting questions as well.  Like the so-called "Liar’s Paradox":  If Alberto Gonzales says he retires, can we believe him?  Or, can Alberto Gonzales make a rock so big that even he can’t pretend it isn’t there?

A Winning Streak, Continued

I’m not big into placing blame for tragedies of any sort, because it’s just tacky and unproductive.  And while I think Bush is a moron, I’m not particularly inclined to blame him for everything bad that happens, and I certainly don’t belong to the "Oh my God another disaster just happened how can we blame Bush?" crowd, I just couldn’t avoid noticing this bit of information:

Federal mine safety official’s credentials questioned

How big a contributor to the Shrub do you have to be to have the President use a recess appointment to put you in charge of, say, the country’s mine administration despite your nomination having been twice rejected by the Republican Congress?  From the article itself:

Also coming to light, is the fact that Stickler’s nomination to head the mine administration was twice rejected by congress and rejected when republicans were still in charge.

Rejected reportedly by senators who were concerned about Stickler’s safety record when he operated mines.

After his nomination was twice rejected by the Senate, President Bush gave Richard Stickler the mine safety job with a recess appointment.

It is kind of amazing, isn’t it?

The tag for my entires on politics, by the way, is "Maniacs and Morons and Robber Barons".  Because no matter who’s been elected to national office, that’s generally who you end up with in charge.  Sometimes I think the best approach for the common citizen is to do their own thing, respecting the rights and welfare of others, and hoping that the people in the government don’t fuck things up too much.