Thursday, October 30, 2008

For the Glory of Satan

This is a fantastic combination of the satirical and the serious.

And 2 or 3 of my readers might agree that the huffer looks like someone we know -- think 'do you want to get some money for your old textbooks?'

(via Mr Verb)

Et Tu Fox?

Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher: I just wanna push it back on your listeners to go back there and find out why I would…you know…agree to something like that.

We know why. Because he's clueless and shameless.

Shepard Smith puts Joe in the spotlight effectively. Wurzelbacher's own comments show how little he knows and how little he can contribute to intelligent debate.

No more discussion of Joe here. Because he started off irrelevant. And he just gets more and more so.

You're All Joe the Plumber!

Joe? Joe the Plumber? Hello?

So all of you stand up and say...

Stand up and say what? That an Obama presidency will spell the death of Israel and there's no need to support that with any evidence whatsoever? Cause that's what Joe the Plumber likes to say.

(video on next post)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Not To Choose pt 2

No pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist church has to bless the marriage of a member with a non-member. I disagree with the refusal. It is founded on a view of insularity that I don't share and it does little to strengthen marriage, even less to benefit the culture. But it's a policy based on a view of marriage that the government has no reason to challenge or affirm. The stance and practice need not be addressed by the state. The constitution stays silent on this topic and it should remain silent.

Here's the entire text of California's Proposition 8 (found here). The text is an important factor in evaluating Ron Osborn's argument for abstention from a vote.


This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the
provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by
adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are
printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage
Protection Act."
SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution,
to read:
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized
in California.

Distilling Osborn's argument to its basics:

  1. He supports, without reservation, the civil and human rights of same-sex couples.

  2. He does not support the right to state affirmation recognition or sanctioning or codifying or categorization or validation of sexual identity.

  3. He believes government must not limit the right of religious communities to preserve and label their institutions.

In his view:
Voting “Yes” violates #1 and #2.
Voting “No” violates #2 and #3.

Such a violation by a “No” vote relies on Osborn's argument that the vote not to approve the proposal is a legislative overriding of traditional cultural and religious norms. In fact such a vote is stopping the legislative branch from making any such statement in favor of or against those norms.

Osborn's next concern is that the lack of limitation of the word marriage is necessarily an avowedly 'secular' redefinition. In fact it's not a definition at all. It's a refusal to define. It's an acknowledgment that a word may be defined by many groups in many ways. Still he suggests that we let this language be something other than the language religious traditions have long claimed as their own.

Even if we agree that religious communities use these labels with certain limitations there is no encroachment on the rights of those communities to say that the government shouldn't impose those same limits. And tho Osborn can't abide by government redefinition of the word marriage, he doesn't explain how a refusal to define is a redefinition. A 'No' vote doesn't redefine the word and he should be fine with that. But even if the state did allow a group to use a new definition of the word, there is no religious right to un-contradicted use of a word. In the Seventh-day Adventist religion the word baptism refers to full immersion under the water. Just today in my office a colleague was insisting that full immersion as a cleansing of sin in his religion would have to be called something else. This difference of terminology is acceptable. And should the government have any say over what is not allowed to be called a baptism? Of course not. And not even if the government was to recognize certain rights that corresponded to a religious rite of passage.

Unless we want to get into patent law the government has no business regulating such basic language use. Setting apart a word like marriage as sacred is not the government's business. The most generous reading of the bill is that it allows the government to grant equal rights to heterosexual and homosexual unions but it denies homosexual unions the right of a label.

Osborn argues that refusal to vote is a creative way to avoid being trapped in the false dichotomies of America’s culture wars. It's a valid way but it's certainly not creative. He suggests that the reasons for refusal are important. I agree. But I have to point out that the argument as he presents it is not a false dichotomy. There are decisions that truly are either for or against. And in this case the vote is not between the government should say A or B. If so, Osborn could claim a false dichotomy because the option would be available that the govt should say neither: that perhaps the government should stay silent. But here the choice is government should say A or should not say A. We can argue later whether there is something else the gov't should say but it is fair to vote on whether or not the government should say at this point that marriage is only between man and woman. For the government to say so takes away a right. A right that so far when investigated has only been objected to either on religious grounds or based on an unwillingness to respect equal rights.

But we can't simply move on from one point. In so many of these arguments it is assumed that any definition of marriage that includes same-sex unions is a definition that disregards religion. But this overlooks a very important point: that some religions would use this freedom to use marriage to identify unions between individuals of the same sex. If this proposal were to pass, every religion would be denied the right to recognize these unions as marriages. Proposal 8 limits the right of all religions.

As Osborn suggests towards the end of his argument, government should remain neutral on the issue and view homosexual and heterosexual couples the same. A vote against Proposition 8 is the first step to take towards that. If he wants to make sure that the state doesn't itself use marriage as a label for any union, he should vote to keep the constitution from doing just that. It's not a vote to make any statement of affirmation to any couple or to extend any further power to the government.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


By Cardow - The Ottawa Citizen


Now just to keep Casey happy -- If we're going to accept this analogy, I realize that it can be extended even further to say that even if Obama is an ace pilot the plane is gonna crash.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not To Choose

On October 23 Ron Osborn posted on the Spectrum Blog an argument for abstention from California's Proposition 8 vote. He has recently posted an apology for the accidental deletion of the post and all ensuing discussion. I include here the text of his original piece.

This I Vote: Why I Don't Plan to Vote on Prop.8

by Ron Osborn

According to a poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California, Proposition 8, which would amend California’s Constitution to disallow same-sex marriage, is likely to be defeated on November 4. The Church State Council tells us that if this should happen our religious liberties will be imperiled. According to Adventists Against Proposition 8, the real threat to religious liberty lies in the attempt by religiously motivated groups to enforce their own theological understandings on others in the secular political realm. It seems increasingly clear to me, however, that for Adventists there can be no winning side in this debate. On November 4, I plan to abstain from voting either for or against Proposition 8. In the event that it is of any interest or use to others, here are the reasons why I have come to this decision:

1. I fully support, without reservation, the civil and human rights of same-sex couples, including equal tax benefits, the right to adoption, healthcare, etc; however,

2. I do not believe that it is a civil or human right to have one's private sexual identity affirmed or recognized or sanctioned or sanctified or codified or categorized or validated by the state; and,

3. I also believe it is necessary to preserve the right of religious communities to have their own distinctive institutions—and distinctive words to describe these institutions—without encroachment by the government.

A “No” vote on Proposition 8 seems to me to violate both numbers 2 and 3 above. The word "marriage" for most people in America continues to invoke not only a legal status but also a particular set of historical, cultural, and religious understandings (including the view that marriage within our society ought to be restricted to two persons). In this perspective, legislative overriding of traditional cultural and religious norms and redefinition of the word along more avowedly “secular” lines marks a troubling encroachment of the state into matters it knows not whereof.

A “Yes” vote on Proposition 8, however, seems to me to violate both numbers 1 and 2 above. As long as non-religious heterosexual marriages are recognized by the state without controversy, religious communities have no basis for objecting to legalized same-sex “marriage” on religious grounds. In this perspective, legislative imposition of traditional cultural and religious understandings on non-believers—or upon believers with different beliefs—marks a troubling encroachment of the state into matters it knows not whereof.

How, then, to cut the Gordian knot? If we truly support separation of church and state, I submit, we should be agitating not for the collapsing of civil and theological understandings of “marriage”, as both pro and contra positions do in their own ways, but for two distinct institutions: 1) “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships”, which would be the only unions recognized by the state and would be exactly the same for all couples, regardless of their genders; and 2) marriage as a theological sacrament, which would involve different restrictions, meanings, and obligations depending on the theological understandings and beliefs of different religious communities.

Let the state be truly neutral in its language, let this language be the same for heterosexual and same-sex couples alike, and let this language be something other than the language religious traditions have long claimed as their own. Religious communities can then work out for themselves how inclusive or exclusive their particular belief systems can be on the question of same-sex marriage.

This position is not, of course, an option on this year’s ballot, and many Adventists will feel compelled to vote either for or against Proposition 8 on the basis of what they think is the lesser evil. I respect their personal decisions. Conscientious refusal to vote can, however, also be a creative and responsible political action, particularly if one shares one’s reasons for abstaining with others. And on some issues the most compelling witness Adventists can still make in the political realm, I would argue, is to refuse to be trapped in the false dichotomies of America’s culture wars.

I will respond in a later post.

The Rickles Loophole

When Don Rickles was accused of being racist he would make the point that he makes fun of everybody. I'm all for comedy being offensive. But still it's one thing to make fun of a white couple for looking boring and another to make fun of a black couple for looking like criminals.

And for many people, comparing a black man to a monkey crosses all sorts of lines. But what if you're comparing both a black man and a white man to monkeys? And a woman to a pitbull-monkey?

TheSock Obama is relying on a strange type of equality. Eah whatever.

The real hypocrisy on the page is the warning: Beware of cheap imitators. Then the product images still sport that classy timestamp. They're professionals.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whither Trickle?

From Truthdig

Finally, let’s discuss the other bit of demagoguery in McCain’s most recent speeches, when he complains about the “redistribution of wealth” and equates an income tax rebate for working people with “welfare.” Leaving aside the racial subtext of those remarks, it is hard to say whether they display ignorance, dishonesty or both. The American tax system, like all other taxation in modern nations, has always redistributed wealth. Sometimes it sends streams of money upward, from low-income taxpayers into the pockets of corporate executives; at other times it sends those streams downward, to assist the very poor.

via The Greenbelt


Barbara West of WFTV 9 in Orlando has done several inconsequential interviews with Joe Biden. But I think she's jumped the shark.

Isn't Senator Obama's comment [to Joe Wurzelbacher about spreading the wealth] a potentially crushing political blunder?

Does she really expect Biden to agree? He has so many outs available to him.
  • A simple 'no' with a content-free deflection like 'The American people believe in Obama's message.' That would force her to defend the premise of the question.

  • Turning it back to the opponent's failing 'John McCain is counting on that but it's not working because this campaign isn't going to be won by baseless attacks.'

  • Speak the less popular truth. All taxes spread the wealth. That's the point of taxes. McCain will tax American people in order to spread the wealth. Bush taxed people to spread the wealth. FDR taxed people to spread the wealth. The only difference in all of these is who and how much.

She gets a little too ambitious:
You may recognize this famous quote: From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs. That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?

It's a bad question given the answers available to Biden the first time she asked it. She has merely chosen to call Obama on a taxation philosophy that every candidate shares. So how is Obama not being a Marxist? The same way McCain is not being a Marxist.

It's an embarrassing question because of the most appropriate response:

Are you joking? Is this a joke? Or is that a real question?

Friday, October 24, 2008

If Loving You Is Wrong I Don't Wanna Be Right.

I'm antiwar. I worked with Kennedy. I want to protect gays. Obama likes me. I'm a Republican.

Three ads from Gordon Smith of Oregon. There's a theme.

Grand Old Posse

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Center Cannot Hold

(in response to a friend)

You say that you want to remain skeptical of the beliefs that might motivate you to speak out on political matters. You are no more susceptible to political dogma than to poetic dogma. Nor are you more safe with poetic than political. If you're going to be a true skeptic don't believe it just because Walt and Emily say it.

Regarding policy I have to say that this race is not addressing those issues that I care about. Neither candidate is as good on policy as Dennis Kucinich. And I'm completely serious about that. I told everyone early on to consider Kucinich. He pushes hard and in the right directions. And regarding McCain/Obama: as politicians I don't see them as so different. As actors on the current stage I see them as diametrically opposed. How important is that? It depends.

We caught your pointed reference to the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Here's my point if you want to go with the Nazarene as a model:

Jesus saw someone being accused and oppressed. He said to the oppressors Lay off. You're no better. He said to the accused Find the strength to stop. There's judgement in both of those statements.

He didn't like to attack people. But he did attack assumptions and institutions. And individuals that stood up for that institution were made to feel foolish. Their goods were strewn on the temple floor. Their questions were ignored. Their bias was held against them.

If you want to argue that Jesus avoided political discussion, you have a great void of evidence in your favour. I'll not find many stump speeches on the mount in support of any candidate. But this isn't the same as staying out of politics. And you won't convince me that Jesus stayed out of social issues and steered clear of commenting on hatred and hypocrisy.

You quote Emerson saying the following of the soul:
It is not hot and passionate at the appearance of what it calls its own good or bad fortune, at the union or opposition of other persons.

I know Emerson has told me not to do this, but I disagree fundamentally with the idea of not disagreeing. (Of course, right?) But then I should probably read what else he said on the topic. Because we listen in order to understand. And we understand in order to act accordingly. And we act in order to connect appropriately. We have to understand disagreements in order to do all of that. It might be comforting to say that we can just get along without disagreeing, but there is a divine faculty that will fust in us unused if we swallow that bromide.

So I'll quote Yeats:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The problem being that the best need more of that same rage.

To move over to another poet we can blame both fire and ice for harm. Both desire and indifference can do equal damage.

You set semi-racist McCain-voting in opposition to Obama-fawning and I read in that an important statement of your values. Which values you have made clear at several stages in this discussion and others. You have fought hard not to topple over for Obama. Because you don't want to stop considering. And that's what all these discussions do isn't it? It becomes a wholesale acceptance of a platform. It becomes the battle between us and them identical to good and evil. And so understanding stops. You're right. That is worth nothing. Here is why I ask you to reconsider the nature of the discussion and I ask you to consider contributing further.

Notice that very few of my posts are pro Obama. Because I agree that a presidency from each of them will be more similar than many of us would all like to admit. The troops might return from Iraq a little sooner with Obama. But they will simply move over to Afghanistan. And the middle east will no more be in hand because of pulling out or staying in. Either way it's fucked.

Health care will not become what Obama has on paper. And when a move towards government-provided preventive care is taken, it will be much smaller than the universal-ists have hoped for. And the closer it gets the more people will complain and blame the government, fairly or unfairly. Canadians cheer about their own healthcare system because it pisses off Americans, but they will also admit that the government often mucks up the system. Even when it is ensured that all will have equal access to some care, the quality of reasonably available care will remain inequitably distributed between the rich and the poor.

The financial crisis is the fault of both parties who were focused on the wrong regulations and who might have had good intentions regarding home ownership and economic stimulation. But the encouragement of indulgent consumption caught up with us. It wasn't a partisan event.

They will both treat the environment about the same. Neither will turn the country into a wind-power driven grid. They will both consider domestic drilling and neither will spend much time making sure the auto industry turns its back on oil.

If he wins am hoping that Obama will strengthen his stand against torture and keep his promise to stop it and to move away from the doctrine of executive power. But he never promised not to use signing statements. McCain did. Point McCain.

So I have to say that while Obama is intelligent and charismatic and symbolic of important change, the values of no single individual will rely on his presidency. He will not change any minds about race. He will not simply BE the argument against racism. But when we look at the current stage… at the campaigns that are running right now…

To say a little bit about my contributions and my need to speak out.
Notice that my posts really don't say anything about Obama saving us. About Obama's victory being important. In fact the posts that are in support of him are more in support of the people who are attributing their new confidence to him. I'm really just bashing McCain. And more specifically his judgment and the values that choose and allow the tactics that we see.

About three years ago you and I had a discussion about race and discussions in the classroom. I remember getting somewhat energized in that discussion telling you to implicate your students' indifference. I told you to tell them that they had no business not caring. I used the story of my professor Ralph Williams who started his class on Primo Levi this way:
You may ask what business do you, a goy, have teaching this class on the suffering in Auschwitz? This last century has been my century. I will live the majority of my life in this century. And I must say that when I look at the world and at my own country's behaviour over my lifetime I can't say that I'm extremely proud. After reading Levi's words and and learning from his perspective, I see that he understood of the hatred and the violence that this came about. And as a chemist he sought to understand how outcomes could be avoided. So I say to you: What business would I have not teaching this class?

And that's only a slightly stronger accusation than I would make about your bowing out of the discourse. To be clear:
1) There is no moral or ethical obligation to address the race or the candidates.
2) This political discourse need not be the center of social movement.
3) Political discourse in its simple delineations often does a disservice to the issues as they deserve to be considered.

But here is what I ask you to remember as you retreat: this race has gotten people to care about things that you also care about, and to admit things for which you have a bitter distaste.

Here is what I ask you to consider: that the tactics on one side of the race have encouraged racial divisions and have given many people the comfort to call for continued disrespect for the old categories and even to rally behind newly charged differences.

Here is what I simply ask: Does it not frustrate you that Colin Powell had to remind everyone that Muslims are not evil? That in these times yelling Muslim and sending an email about someone's middle name are enough to be called an accusation? That a candidate can be accused of caring "too much" about race issues?

When we hear paranoid and ridiculous arguments about the New World Order gaining strength from the UN and the Vatican we chuckle and move on, ignoring the prophets because we know they have no case and their delusions are clear. But then we hear paranoid and ridiculous arguments about the oppression of the white male. So then Joe The Plumber represents the country. And a candidate is not only OK with this, he has framed an issue this way and used it to seek an advantage. Have you seen the "I'm Joe the Plumber" ad? C'mon. I still chuckle. But it's harder to move on because a lot of people are buying it.

As I write, Steve Clemons is talking on Washington Journal saying that we should stop attacking the morality of positions. We should instead attack the soundness of commentary. There's something nicely staid about that philosophy. And it's a lovely way to conduct an exchange. But what's wrong with attacking an opposing morality? What's wrong with rattling a political cage and trying to take down one side's credibility before taking down their argument?

So Casey -- I'm not saying that you need to talk about politics. I'm not saying that you're letting us down. I'm not saying that you can't do good away from political discussion. I'm not saying that political discourse is the necessary end of moral expression. But I hold firm that it's not a dead end. And it's not a hindrance. And it doesn't have to be a distraction.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin on 9NEWS NBC, Colorado

[Update: I removed the video because it starts automatically and that's very annoying.]

Click here to watch the full interview

Palin's last answer (about VP duties) has been picked on. And I address it below. But there's nothing too embarrassing here. So few comments:

Palin says
[Barack Obama] wants to take more of [Joe's] money and give it to other people according to his [own] priorities. And Joe the plumber said 'mmm' that sounds a little bit like socialism to him.

Sure. But it just sounds like the basic theory of taxation to me. As soon as we give any money to the government in exchange for services we're looking at something that sounds a little bit like socialism. When will the knee-jerk reaction to this word stop? It's not the same as a dictatorship. It's not the same as a fascism. It just isn't.

Asked if clean coal exists Palin responds
Yeah absolutely. We need to develop that clean coal technology. I know that Joe Biden has told the voter that 'no there is no such thing. We don't support clean coal.' No. Call him on that. Absolutely. That technology needs to be found.

Biden's comment was
We're not supporting clean coal. Guess what? China is building two every week, two dirty coal plants. And it's polluting the United States, it's causing people to die. … China's gonna burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up, because it's gonna ruin your lungs, and there's nothing we can do about it.

Then Biden says of building coal plants Make 'em clean. The point he makes against clean coal is that the current technology is not to be trusted. The plants are not producing clean coal even if you want to call it that. But he obviously believes that clean coal can exist. We just don't have it in hand right now.

Palin believes that it exists even tho we have no technology to get it. On this issue the candidates can't help but be in about the same place on clean coal. Both would use it if a reliable technology was developed.

Answering a question from a student, Brandon, about the Vice President's role Palin says
They're in charge of the United States senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom and it's a great job and I look forward to having that job.

She needs to look at the job description. The VP is not in charge of the Senate. Article I section 3 of the constitution explains that the VP shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be evenly divided. You can't let the title President of the Senate go to your head. It doesn't mean much.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jon Stewart: Part of the Problem?

Now lest some recent conversations lead you to think that I don't greatly appreciate Jon Stewart let me make it clear. I like him a lot.

Monday night's episode of The Daily Show had a point to make. And perhaps he says it better than I did in my last post: it's not about the people. It's about the theme.

As you can see from tonight, we're all a little chafed here about this whole "some parts of the country are real and American and other parts are not. And uh this weekend I was performing at Northeastern and I kinda had just read the statements that Sarah Palin had made about you know the pro-America parts of the country and I think I might have said in response to that I think I mighta said uh…fuck you.

And…uh…you know that's just my way of saying I think that's a profanity to say, and I was answering with a profanity. But it's not really fair and it makes it seem like…uh…I'm just addressing Governor Palin about this and I'm not. It's really this whole entire theme that there's more-American areas, or some people love the country, some people don't. So I guess what I meant to say was Fuck all yall.

Real America, If You Will. I Will Not.

Nancy Pfotenhauer:

I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. … But the rest of the state, uh real Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain's message.

It's a frustrating point to hear being made repeatedly by the McCain campaign. I can understand one person trying to make a point about the country as she's always imagined it to be and saying something about the real America in an unscripted and meandering conversation. The best forms of expression don't always come right when we need them.

But you back off when someone takes exception. Not because of a rule, but because it's worth being careful when you start flirting a little too provocatively with intolerance. And when you start to rely on a premise for argument you reveal something about yourself. And to rely on the premise of real segments of the nation is to belittle the value of voices just because they're different.

I could be accused of doing the same here. And that's why I want to make this point explicitly: what bothers me is not that the people who think this way have a voice. Speak up. Go ahead. I don't want anything to stop anyone else from making their point clear too. What does bothers me is that this way of categorizing breeds disregard and bigotry. It's an easy shorthand for racism and hatred.

And it's being used deliberately and repeatedly by a system that's running for office. From Sarah Palin's convention speech line quoting Westbrook Pegler saying We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity to her recent comments about the pro-America areas of the country, to Pfotenhauer's real Virginia comment, we're seeing that this isn't just a quick attempt to make a rhetorical point. It's a fixation on divisions that best serve the campaign when they are encouraged and endorsed. These lines provide a pivot point for the campaigns most vocal and energetic bases. Those who get excited when their prejudices are rewarded.

And so I don't accept that my frustration with these tactics is bred of a similar intolerance for diversity. I'm upset at the campaign. I don't belittle any region. I don't know the individuals who are listening and feeling reassured by the lines being drawn. If I could address one of those cheering in the audience I would probably most want to get into a conversation to understand her fear. And if I found myself unable to give any reassurance I would evaluate my ability to connect. I would adjust my approach. Because some connection is always possible.

But when I see and hear the candidates and their surrogates working against these values of mine, I don't feel at all hypocritical saying that I just don't want to hear it. I don't need to tolerate that voice. And I'm proud I can say that in order to shut them up I'm refusing to vote for them. It's pro-American.

David Sedaris on Indecision

It isn't Sedaris' funniest essay, and he certainly didn't intend it to be primarily funny. Still it has moments like this passage:

The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

And this line: [C]alling yourself a maverick is a sure sign that you’re not one.

Political Images

Gordon Campbell's cartoons have been getting some attention lately. Not necessarily for being funny or smart.

The artwork is interesting. A lot of it looks more like image manipulation rather than freehand drawing.

Is his 10/20/08 "Benedict Powell" panel at all clever? Is it at all insightful? Is it at all racist? …meh…

Here's a pro-McCain panel (9/15/08):

'Cause remember he's a war hero.

Yeah the ads making fun of McCain's computer illiteracy are pretty dumb.

But here's my take on the really irrelevant issue anyway:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Pietà

Elsheba Khan at her son's grave.
- from The New Yorker

The Endorsement Isn't the Point

Powell: I'm also troubled by not what Senator McCain says but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as 'Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well the correct answer is he's not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is 'No, that's not America.' Is there something wrong with some seven-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

I would have been pleased to see Powell make only this point even if he said nothing about an an endorsement.

Why is the voice of reason so conspicuous recently?


When the bulk of your opponent's ad is a recording of your own argument, it means you're already a parody.

New Territory

Throw out any poll that says anything about 'likely voters' or any other measurement based on traditional patterns.

Barack Obama is not working with traditional numbers. He's communicating with segments of society that have been ignored for a long time and it's getting more and more obvious that all sorts of folks are getting ready to speak out for the first time. The new shout will sound a lot like change: the jangling of 15,000,000,000 pennies.

Obama was criticized by John McCain in the last campaign for spending more on negative ads than any presidential candidate in history. What? Even more than Martin Van Buren's scathing I'm OK; You're OK; Harrison's a Tool campaign that cost him 5 barrel hoops and a bronze adz?

Of course Obama's spending more. Commercials cost more these days. And he's got it covered. He's pulling in support from corners we've never seen.

A Dogwhistle Everyone Can Hear

When she wrote in late September in the National Review that Sarah Palin should excuse herself from the ticket voluntarily Kathleen Parker didn't renounce the entire ticket. She could still support McCain and pray every day for his good health and safety, right?

So on the the October 13 episode of The Colbert Report Stephen Colbert asked Parker how she planned to vote. She prudently refused to answer. He turned it around and asked her Who would you not vote for? Her answer was gracefully dexterous.

I would not vote for someone who appeals to our lesser selves.

Well of course I'm biased and I think she must then be voting for Obama. Because everyone knows that McCain is going after the evil vote. So there's certain to be a core of the conservative mob that's going to be pissed that she said she's not voting for MyCane. (She got 12,000 emails for the column and lost some speaking gigs.) But any right-wing ranters who try to criticize her answer will find themselves stuck. Any attack they throw at her words—even that she's being coy—falls right back to what becomes increasingly clear: her answer could only be aimed at the dishonorable intentions of McCain and Palin.

maybe for Ralph Nader

Barack Ohio

Grant: What is that flag that Obama's been standing in front of that looks like an American flag but instead of having the field of fifty stars representing the fifty states there's a circle? Would someone please tell me what that is. Is the circle the O for Obama? Is that what it is?

Just like he did with the plane he was using. He had the flag…uh…painted over, and the O for Obama. Now these are symptoma— these things are symptomatic of a person who would like to be a potentate. a dictator. And I really see this in this man. Hey I could be wrong. But I wouldn't say this on this great radio station if I didn't think there was some merit in this conjecture. And I stress conjecture. And so much of what we talk about is conjecture, is theory, is opinion based on intuition based on some facts based on some history. I don't wanna over dramatize this.

Intuition yes.
Facts no.
History no.
Hilarious yes.

Unconfirmed sources are alleging that after the show Grant went off on Obama's arrogant insistence that Nebraska name its biggest city after him. A potentate I tell you! He's trying to take over our pro-America states too!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shecky Obama and Henny McCain

Both candidates did a fine job at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner.

Obama: It's Possible That I'm a Little Too Awesome

Part 1

Part 2

McCain: Messiah Is Above My Paygrade

Part 1

Part 2

McCain: "I Screwed Up."

Letterman never rolls over for his guests but he has learned to be respectful and ask fair questions. He wasn't always like that. And every once in a while, when necessary, he can snap. Remember O'Reilly's appearance?

McCain's appearance was a fair encounter. He tried the stump speech lines. Healthy smatterings of applause. He made a few jokes. Some laughs. He explained his last cancellation as a clear mistake. I screwed up he said. Was he admitting that it was a campaign stunt? Or was he just patronizing Dave? Either way it was a little uncomfortable there for about a minute. The line got its laugh and applause. But it was probably more from agreement than amusement.

The meat of the interview came towards the end when Letterman decided to question McCain's ingenuousness in choosing the push the Ayers connection.

A two-fold challenge:
Is serving on a board the same as palling around? It's a thin connection and Letterman called McCain on it. Are they double-dating? Are they going to dinner? What are they doing? Are they driving cross-country? He made the point that Obama's connection to Bill Ayers should be no more damning that McCain's connection to G. Gordon Liddy. Letterman pressed, You will also admit that we cannot really control who we interact with in our lives a hundred percent.

He pushed another challenge that I hadn't heard yet. Palin said terrorists but they only named one. When asked why she made the accusation in the plural McCain had to resort to a There's millions of words said in the campaign. C'mon now. C'mon, there's millions of words. There's millions of words. So… we shouldn't listen?

It came through pretty clearly that Letterman wasn't buying McCain's lines. Especially on the preparedness of Sarah Palin. He probably could have moved in on some of those issues with specific challenges like he had on the Ayers lines. Because that's really an issue. I don't judge McCain if he really is afraid of Ayers. But if he isn't afraid of Palin being president I can only imagine it's because he knows that could only mean that he no longer has to worry about anything. And that's really selfish.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


[click image to enlarge]

Casey and I have tackled humor. I think we tackled too hard and paralyzed it. He provided an example of some jokes that might be too offensive to be funny unless you're a true formalist. And so I offer this cartoon from here.

Consider: linguistically the structure of humor can better be described by potential than by success.

Frum on Frum on Maddow

Mr Frum's thoughts on the affair

I watched the show in horror in the MSNBC green room. Maybe I was a bit crankier than usual: I'm still jet-lagged enough that I have been going to bed by 8:30 most nights this week ... Anyway I was unprepared for the sarcasm and anger of what I saw.

Sarcasm yes. Anger? I don't see that in Maddow.


Monday evening (see previous post for video), Rachel Maddow asked David Frum to address his criticism of the McCain campaign. She quoted him saying that by focussing on the Ayers connection the campaign (and others) are whipping Republicans and conservatives into a fury that's going to be very hard to calm after November.

Frum's response:
Well I think you were talking…um…through much of the show about the matter of tone in our politics…um…and yet I think we are seeing an intensification of some of the ugliness of tone…um…that has been a feature of American politics in the past eight years. I mean, this show unfortunately is itself an example of&hellipof that problem [ ] with it's heavy sarcasm and…and sneering and its disregard for a lot of the substantive issues that…that really are important. um…And I would hate to see Republicans go probably into opposition sustaining this terrible cycle of unseriousness about politics: about turning it into a spectator sport. The party's going to have some important rebuilding to do. It's gonna have to do that in an intelligent way and we're all gonna have to do better than we've been doing, including in the past forty minutes.

Do you think that my tone on this show is equivalent to people calling Barack Obama uh somebody who pals around with terrorists people yelling from the s— people yelling from the audience at McCain/Palin rallies bomb Obama kill him off with his head traitor……do you…are you accusing me of…of…of…of an equivalence in tone?

I don't think that's an important question. I think the question is, given the small por— plate of responsibility that you personally have how do you manage that responsibility. The fact that other people fail in other ways is not an excuse for you failing in your way.

It is an important question because she's trying to get at the crux of his disapproval. If in fact he is trying to defend the point of his original criticism, and to make it clear that Maddow too is whipping people into a fury then he needs to make a better argument that she has contributed something. How has she? What in the last 40 minutes does he connect to a mob mentality? Show us the loosed blood-dimmed tide.

For Frum to chastise Maddow for excusing herself by other people's failure takes a tiny pair of conservative balls. And I disagree with Casey, who in his comment praises Frum's dismissal of the question's importance. It's not an awesome response. It's not a 'yes.' It's a 'no.' First he says that her question about the Republican rhetoric isn't worth addressing because she has the same mud on her. She holds up the grime from each and asks if they are the same type of muck and he's not willing to answer. She asks about the specific effects of rhetoric and he rests on an accusation that her rhetoric is just as guilty of contributing to hateful passion. He can only make this claim if he believes that differences in tone aren't important.

More on Casey's comment

Comparing Maddow/Olbermann et al to Limbaugh/O'Reilly et al is fair. Each side says of the other 'they're wrong.' Both sides start hurling accusations of Nazi-like values at the other. It's easy to say 'We need to have more intelligent conversations. We need to be civil.' But then what is an intelligent conversation? And we have to define civility in order to say it's the solution. Is it about making a disrespectful but calm argument? Is it a civil or intelligent argument that reshapes and disregards the direction of a question? That purposeful misstates an opposing argument? Is it simply being calm and self-assured?

And Casey's analogy doesn't work. Maddow is speaking specifically about attacks that accuse Obama of terrorist sympathizing. She is questioning the content and the manner with which the McCain campaign has recklessly encouraged fear in order to continue some of the most horrible legacies of this country: the accusations that continue to work in hand with cries for violence and indifference to oppression.

In Casey's analogy the two parties walk past the same burning house and talk about the action they believe is warranted. That's not what's happening in the current political discussions. The parties here are talking about acceptable action towards different groups and using what they believe are valid arguments in support of their proposals. Yes Maddow chuckles and shrugs glibly. Her content goes so far as to say that Republicans should not win an election. Such disrespect.

Of course every voice contributes to a debate. That's a banal observation. But is her contribution really the same? Is her sarcasm a problem? A part of the problem?

To reshape the analogy as I see it:

Citizen1 stands in front of a group and points at a house. 'That blackfamily might sympathize with those witches and communists that we all agreed to hate.' Should we elect them? The crowd yells Kill them! Or at least burn down the house!

Citizen2 stands there and says 'Citizen1 is a clown and he's inciting hate. Don't believe him. Don't elect him. Unless you liked It.'

Frum and Casey say "Both are doing the same thing."

Bullshit. That claim holds that an irreverent and satirical style is part of the same problem of unseriousness that leads to pleas for violence and cries of hatred. That they are different only by their respective level of ugliness. Just how do we measure that ugliness? The argument fails in part because it is attempting an aesthetic judgment where Maddow is attempting a moral an practical one.

Political discourse has always been the most fertile field for satire and ridicule. And presenting only the egregious inconsistencies or the ridiculous simplicity of an any argument has a long tradition outside politics. Farther back than Shakespeare's sonnet 130. Farther back than the Preacher who turns against everything as vanity vanity. What? Is he serious? Well he better be or else he's being irresponsibly irreverent. Such matters must never be addressed with unseriousness! How about the G-d character in the parable of Job: the big guy himself asks (with just a skosh of ironic sarcasm) And exactly where were you when I made all this? How exactly have you shown that your opinions matter? That you're even able to understand a tiny part of what I'm doing. (I paraphrase of course.)

So too we have to say Shut up sometimes. We have to glare angrily and say Your form and your content are stiflingly familiar. They're the same arguments that have rationalized a systems of oppression and a philosophies of genocide. I yell shut up and think on identifying simple arguments effectively emboldening racist fervor. And you're going to tell me that shut up is part of the problem. That's the same argument that attacks Liberation Theology, claiming it's as racist as white supremacy. It's a misunderstanding of an entire philosophy. It's a surrender to immediate confusion and explaining it by crying ill-intent.

Arguments are not harmful simply because of bias. They're not false because of bias. They're not even necessarily weak because of bias. And the best response to a biased argument is examination. The best response to hatred is disagreement. When liberal blowhards don't agree with a conservative pigs I expect them to speak up. And when conservative windbags disagree with liberal pinkos I expect the same.

I roll my eyes at at least half of Olbermann's rants. And I get a little tired of Maddow grimacing and saying what? while she shakes her head in disbelief. Both of them present skewed analyses of facts. They're good for entertainment. Right before The Daily Show. I glean my news from the Reuters and AP wire, from the Wall Street Journal, from The New York Times, from the Washington Post, from FOXNews, from the Boston Globe, from C-SPAN. When I quote a politician I check it against any video that gives me enough context. But those entertaining shows can be good for a focus through exaggeration. For an expression of judgement that doesn't compete with the task of representing a constituency. Plumbing all these sources, we can still defended Palin against misleading accusations and use sarcasm to ridicule her. Is one more important or more helpful than the other?

For generations people have been lamenting that the discussion is in the gutter. Recently, remember when Jon Stewart made such a great point arguing with Tucker Carlson? He really schooled him didn't he? Except that I disagreed with Stewart then and I still disagree. He was doing exactly what he was saying Carlson was doing. And he held Carlson to a artificial standard of a pundit's responsibility. Stewart defended his satire saying that he was on the same channel as crank-calling puppets. That's true. And the pundits shouting at each other are on a channel flanked by Comedy Central just above, and E! just below. Arguments take all forms. The inflammatory and boisterous spitfests are not new, nor are they the only game in town.

We're big kids now. We're not learning from the talking heads. They're giving us some arguments to use as a barrel, but we've already chosen the values we want to use as ammunition. Frum's argument was not annoying because he said anything harmful. He just used a poor attack to avoid answering a question. Maddow didn't have to go after his hook but she did. And he wasted an opportunity to make a better case for the factors he believes are leading to the mere anarchy among some voters. He can of course just say that her sarcasm contributes. Then he can change course and say that her jokes betray her shallow intentions. And he can hope we simply believe him. Casey might buy it. I don't.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Frum Plays the Gandhi Card

I must say Rachel Maddow shows an almost Obama like serenity in dealing with this piece.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Interesting Strategy

From The Jed Report.

On Sins and Sinners

Sure I've made jokes that I wish I hadn't. I've been quoted, accurately, saying things that were horribly disrespectful of entire demographics. And in response I could only say that the statement did not reflect my beliefs or values. Trust me now?

My recent post on a racist sight gag was easy to digest and spit out angrily. It's easy to point a finger and shout you're a bastard then walk away. Then you're stuck with 'so what?'

So, 'stop' obviously. But when talking about it out loud I found myself reaching anger and still feeling stuck. Stuck where? Probably in the same place Casey found himself when he left this comment:

Wow. This is hard to watch... so bad that it begins by making me furious at the guy and ends with me simply shaking my head and feeling sorry for him.

Yes. It's easy to have an aggressive reaction of completely assured righteousness and a belief that the guy deserves no respect. That he deserves ridicule and blame. That he is already as understood as he needs to be.

But we can't settle there. Racism is not understood as it needs to be. And racists aren't understood as they need to be.

Why did he want to make the joke? 1) He thought it was funny. 2) He expected SOMEONE ELSE to find it funny. 3) He wanted the credit for doing something that would please SOMEONE ELSE.

Here's what I find so difficult but so necessary to move towards more understanding. I, just like Casey find myself feeling sorry for him. It's clear that at one point he was very proud of his statement. He probably bragged about it to someone. And he defined a part of himself by that expression. Hoping it would be accepted. Whether he had thought very little about it or a lot, when he notices the camera on him he suddenly thinks about it more. And differently. He realizes something else about his expression. That not everybody is going to accept it. That he will be defined in a way that he does not want to be defined.

When I watch that video (I've only been able to watch it three times) I start to feel bad for him at the very point that I imagine he's feeling shame. I can't be sure that he does feel shame, but it seems to me that he must. The joke ends with an 'act' of generosity and a turn. He doesn't want to be what he has just been. I don't know where his turn takes him. But he rejects something. Either he realizes it can't be defended or it's not worth defending, or he's not up to defending it. For whatever reason, it's nothing he wants to defend. That's an important point. Racism is not only the organization of disrespect and the defense of oppression. It's also the occasional acceptance of indifference.

Addressing racism is pointless unless there is faith in the ability of others to change. Racism exists outside willful evil. Little is accomplished by simply disregarding those who resort to it because of a smaller grasp than they are capable of. The discussion that points a finger at racism needs to move away from 'you are a fool' and towards 'that is/was foolish'. Unless we believe that the actors can abandon the act we are simply waiting for bigots to die and leave the world to the righteous. And that leaves us where we've already been.

A Palin Comparison

At a fundraiser Palin naively suggested that putting Piper in Flyers jersey would stop the booing. She doesn't know Philadelphia fans too well. You cannot expect them to behave.

The Jed Report has done a little juxtaposing to make a point about F*X News that we already know. But is the disparity clear? They make three observations:

  1. Completely edited out Palin's introduction, when fans booed her most loudly (the booing let up a bit as her daughters took the ice).
  2. Edited out a 27 second stretch during which which loud boos and some applause could be heard, presumably to allow the video to jump straight to the applause after Palin dropped the puck.
  3. In the video FOX did show, they used very poor audio quality, making it hard to discern the boos.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

no title

Hide the Monkey

Johnstown Pennsylvania. Palin rally.

Notice how coyly he removes the sticker. Then he's such a sweet ol' fella handin' that little tyke the toy monkey. Heartwarming.

What was he hoping to do in the first place? Get a few laughs of course. Impress his friends with a racist gag. It's the type of joke that you put out there for only your friends. Or people that you don't expect to mind. But once he sees The Camera (and you know he does) he thinks 'O Crap. It's not just racists watching me now.' He's willing to be a racist when the system around him offers him support and insulation. And that is exactly what the recent MobCain tactics have been doing.

The daring that gets its confidence from institution. The feeling of protection because you've simply acted like everyone around you. Feeling that you don't have to worry about a public statement.

Do your job Media. Like this.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


James Nachtwey won TED last year and used the opportunity to help this cause. Visit XDRTB.ORG for more information.

The site provides a simple form for sending a letter to all the major presidential candidates.

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain Backs Ups Slowly

Woman: I gotta ask you a question. I do not…um…believe in…I can't trust Obama.

McCain: I gotcha—

Woman: —I have read about him and he's not…he's not…he's a…um He's an Arab. He's not...

McCain: No ma'am. No ma'am.

Woman: No?

You see how easy that was? All McCain had to do was give a simple denial and she's right there able to keep up. McCain tells her it's not true and she does the quick u-turn away from ignorance.

Sure, she's probably still pretty confused on a whole bunch of facts. But she doesn't even try to hold on to this one simple claim. Now I'm guessing someone else she trusts will repeat the lie to her. And she may shriek out McCain's an Ay-rab too!

But McCain will rest easy knowing that the work he started will continue with or without him.

Push against it.

McCain Loses Control of His Pitbulls

You thought those curs were going to protect you against all intruders but when you're an inept trainer they eventually start to attack you too. It's what happens when you don't know the difference between a protective dog and a rabid dog.

From the AP:

'If you want a fight, we will fight,' McCain said. 'But we will be respectful. I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments.' When people booed, he cut them off.

'I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity,' he said. 'I just mean to say you have to be respectful.'


He had drawn boos with his comment: 'I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States.'

The anti-Obama taunts and jeers are noticeably louder when McCain appears with Palin, a big draw for GOP social conservatives.

John McCain is now less important than his mob. And it's his own damn fault. He got caught up in the addictive murmur of determined ignorance. He's still trying to get away with the tactic of hate but he's stumbling while trying to keep them on his side by encouraging their ferocity and calling it respectful at the same time. He's a poor deluded man who is lying to someone. I'm just not sure who.

His mob's ferocity is exactly what will take him down. Because their ferocity feeds on bigotry. He created this fear by telling them not to trust Obama. He told them that their mistrust had to be based on their lack of knowledge. The spine of his message has been If you don't have proof that he's trustworthy you assume the worst because of every instinct of insularity and every tradition of exclusion that has fertilized this soil.

Now he's trying to turn their fear into judgment. It doesn't work that way. He has created the enemy. He has asked for their bloodlust and he is now dripping blood from the fingertips that fed them.

Meanwhile Palin continues to reveal the frightening tenor of her lonely ideas: it's not negative and it's not mean-spirited.

Such ideas find company in the masses. Such arid intellects must seek each other in order to survive. When examined on their own they wither and fail in the face of reason.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dude, She Is So Into Me

You know these boys have had the exact same reaction to a stripper.

She is sooo HOT!

YES! She did the wink!

I think I'm going to break up with my cousin.

AP photos by Gerald Herbert

Snub? Not the Issue.

Jon posted this without comment. And I'm not sure what comment it deserves. After redirecting the handshake McCain looks like he's aware of the awkward miss and he shrugs and makes some comment. Obama shakes Cindy's hand and smiles over at McCain in acknowledgment. At least that what it looks like to me.

McCain doesn't need to be taken down by missed handshakes and dismissive lines. He needs rather to be held accountable for spreading a pall of fear as a comfort to those who want an institutional mandate for their intolerance. Those who hope this is a snub because it expresses their disrespect.

Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been Less Paranoid Than I Am?

In a statement by John Murtagh:

Barack Obama may have been a child when William Ayers was plotting attacks against U.S. targets - but I was one of those targets,

Imagine how different Murtagh's claim would sound if we just did little switching:

I may have been one of those targets when William Ayers was plotting attacks against the U.S. - but Barack Obama was a child.

Murtagh added: Barack Obama's friend tried to kill my family.

This recent use of the noun friend and the verb phrase palling around is sickening. It's the same type of thoughtless stoking that leads to pleas for ignorance like Carol Platt Liebau's.

It's disturbing to see how and why this story has kept its legs. It is born of a legacy in this country that I pray dies, sterile and cold. But this is the task, sanction by the Republicans, that John McCain has given to fear: Stop the voters from thinking. Make the hideous connections for them. If anyone does not blindly follow you to the pit of your mistrust, accuse them of supporting the cause of your fear. If anyone questions the extent of an influence, blame it on that very influence infecting their mind.

The appalled voice needs to re-emerge and demand once more
Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.… Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?… If there is a G-d in heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You Know Who's Voting for That One? This One.

Thank you John McCain.

Have you heard of The Facebook?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Campaign Poster

John McCain:

I can see why you feel that cynicism and mistrust, because the system in Washington is broken.

Then he added: Do you like lollipops?

McCain Spells it Out

When McCain explains it like that we really can't blame him for his strategy can we?

Releasing the Hounds

From Dana Milbank's column at

"If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, yah, this is another woeful day in the market, and the other side just doesn't understand -- no!" she said at an afternoon fundraiser at the home of mutual fund giant Jack Donahue. "Especially in a time like this, you don't propose to increase taxes. The phoniest claim in a campaign that's full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes."

Of course, Obama never promised to cut taxes for people at $10,000-a-plate lunches in air-conditioned tents on waterfront compounds. And the crowd -- among them New York Jets owner Woody Johnson -- reacted without applause to Palin's Joe Six-Pack lines. After they didn't strike up the usual "Drill, baby, drill" or "USA" chants, Palin, rattled, read hurriedly through the rest of her speech.

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

McCain has forced his supporters to confront something about their candidate. His legislative pedigree and his choice of VP have drawn clear lines around the causes he's counting on for election:

The cause of the coddled billionaires who are praying for continued free rein and a laissez-faire government because they've been allowed to put their money where the economy can't take it from them.

That's his pedigree.

The cause of fear and bigotry that is looking for people to hate and fear in order to insulate and protect just one set of values and through intimidation and exclusion.

Milbank writes that at the Clearwater Florida rally One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy.

That's the rabid energy that his choice of VP has unleashed.

via The Greenbelt

Monday, October 6, 2008

Resurrecting the Red Scare's Corpse

Via Jesus' General:

It'd be funny if this was an exaggeration. But among the accusations being flung at Obama:

As a young man in Hawaii, Obama had a quasi-filial relationship with radical Frank Marshall Davis – an avowed member of the Communist Party of the USA.

And worst of all, Obama has confirmed that he has encountered Marxist literature.

The belief that this information is somehow damning, oozes as the seepage of Carol Platt Liebau's simple mind.

What does her invocation of Frank Marshall Davis prove? That Platt Liebau's literary heroes are probably Abigail and the Putnams.

What does Obama's encounter with Marxist literature prove? That he did the assigned reading in college? That he might have brushed up against other works by evil socialists like George Orwell?

NEWSFLASH: McCain Was One of the Keating Five.

Forget about thin associations. Let's talk about the candidates themselves. We were all waiting for this to come up weren't we?

You want to talk strategy? How about knowing your opponents moves ahead of time and trumping their left bower with the right bower?

That's right. It's a euchre reference.

The Mother of Invention

John McCain last April, regarding the tactic of connecting Barack Obama to Jeremiah Wright in order to smear character:

I'm making it very clear, as I have a couple of times in the past, that there's no place for that kind of campaigning, and the American people don't want it.

Sources say he found room for it by throwing out his dignity, his credibility and his soul.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

McCain to Act More Like McCain

The warning from the McCain compound came this weekend that they were going to close their eyes and start kicking. Remember how good that looked when Elaine Benes did it?

And they're off. The first pile of fresh...ideas...comes from Sarah Palin:

Our opponent though is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect— imperfect enough that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country

So they've played the palling-around-with-terrorists card. It's almost like they want to make sure that they don't respect themselves when this is all over.

The Gamut of Insights from A to B

From Political Wire

"...But She's Still Not Qualified" -Famous Person

The McCain campaign makes big mistakes and little mistakes. Some that scare us and some like this one that just amuse us.

Did someone just hear this line from across the room and slap it on the graphic?

Who said that?

I don't know. But she's famous.

You sure?

Oh yeah. I saw her talking to George Snuffleupagus on that news show.

That's a more careful investigation than Palin got.

So it turns out that the famous person is Peggy Noonan. Her earlier albums include George H.W. Bush's kinder gentler nation and a thousand points of light. Her recent hits include It's over just before calling the choice of Palin political bullshit.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Pinker on Palin (no, not like that)

Steven Pinker discusses Sarah Palin in a NY Times piece.

The concerns raised by the Couric interviews — that Ms. Palin memorizes talking points rather than grasping issues — should not be allayed by her performance in the forgiving format of a debate.

Against Proposition 8

  • Raised in a fundamentalist christian home. Seventh-day Adventist.

  • Baptised at age 11.

  • Attended SDA schools from the 1st grade until graduation from high school.

  • Taught at an SDA school for 5 years.

  • Completed an M.A. an SDA university.

Am I qualified to represent the church?
Am I interested?

About a week ago I was invited by a friend to join a Facebook group: Adventists Against Prop 8. Proposition 8 is also known as the Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act. My position is clear. I believe same-sex marriages should be afforded all the rights of heterosexual marriage. They should have the same tax benefits. They should have equal rights of hospital visitation. They should be allowed to adopt. So I oppose Proposition 8. If I were in California I would vote against it. Since I'm not in California I can only speak out against it.

From the Adventists Against Prop 8 FAQ page.
This act would clearly put the State as arbiter of competing theologies because millions of Christians and folks of other faiths define marriage differently.

I agree. This is a good constitutional reason to oppose the act. The government should not choose between competing theologies.

So shall I add my voice to an SDA chorus? I have. But I'm not without reservations. I joined the Facebook group and I signed an online petition opposing the act. But I flinch at some of the commentary and analysis that I read on the web page.

Point by point from the FAQ page:
[M]ost Adventists would agree that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Well I'm not one of those. I believe the right to marriage should be equal. I believe the SDA church should recognize support and perform same sex marriages. The church doesn't. I hold that against the church.

There are many people in society who practice forms of relationships that are not compatible with God’s intention at creation, including co-habitation before marriage, pornography, sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage, adultery, divorce, and more.

Pornography is not a form of relationship. Co-habitation offers no rights until the couple gains marriage rights by common law. Adultery and extra-marital sex have nothing to do with the hetero/homo categorization. This is an unnecessary and misleading argument even though it's being used to argue against Prop 8.

We trust in the grace of God to help us all live according to Biblical principles and reject the notion that any State should legislate morality.

Biblical principles do not address homosexuality as a sexual identity. The bible says nothing about homosexuals who are in a committed relationship. The relationships being condemned in the bible are not monogamous homosexual relationships. It is important to distinguish between homosexuality and homoeroticism. There is now a cultural institution that allows same-sex couples to be exclusively devoted. Any biblical condemnation of a homoerotic lifestyle was directed at activity that was necessarily uncommitted. N.B. I'm not saying that I would agree with the bible even if it did say something about committed same-sex relations.

We want to be clear that voting “no” on Prop 8 is NOT the same as endorsing same-sex marriage.

Since this is true I want to be clear that I do endorse same-sex marriage.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin

I have to hope that the undecided voters aren't waiting to see who's more likable or who's prettier. They're weighing issues and competence. And when PALIN/mccain are weighed and measured they lose the vote. Taking an average of each side I'd go so far as to say that the Obama/Biden ticket is prettier too. And more likable. Wait. Remind me: why is anybody supporting McPalin?

The VP debate was not the bloodbath that many were hoping it would be. Sarah Palin had all her lines memorized like a good automaton. Biden wisely softened his smile and he tempered the edge on his gaze. He focused on McCain and let Palin remain empty even while letting her seem half confident. Seem. Half. Where she fell apart was in the issues that reveal her backward views. This isn't about a stupid person serving next to the president; it's about dangerous philosophies that would poison the Potomac.

Palin believes the role of the vice president is ambiguously suspended between the legislative and executive branches. This is the philosophy that allowed Dick Cheney to deflect accountability and oversight while breaking knees and biting ears for the President.

Palin wants to deny rights to same-sex marriages if it goes closer and closer towards redefining the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman. She promised that she is and would be nothing less than tolerant. But don't believe it. It's not tolerance that fights against changing a bigoted tradition saying unfortunately, that's sometimes where those steps lead. It is only intolerance that is unwilling because of tradition to take the step of granting every couple the right to choose marriage.

Palin told Katie Couric that she would find some examples of McCain pushing for more regulation. Joe Biden gave her an opportunity to show the fruits of her research. And her response?

Palin: I'm still on the tax thing because I want to correct you on that again. And I want to let you know what I did as a mayor and as a governor. And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.

I'm hoping the undecided voters have been waiting for an answer. I'm hoping they're demanding one. Because she gave none. Last night was an opportunity to go beyond mere personality. But from Palin we saw no policy revelation or delineation of steps for change. And if that camp can't come up with evidence that McCain will likely push for regulation then why the hell don't they come up with an argument that he shouldn't. That's his stance. That's the pedigree of his economic philosophy. And there are many many people out there who are still on board with that philosophy. The refusal to argue the point is both stubborn and weak. And it reveals not just their lack of resolve on an issue, but also the inability to formulate any argument that effectively contradicts Barack Obama's stated goals and the history he has of pushing for them. This is evidence enough that a vote for McCain is based not on any faith in his ability to manage the economy.

Vote for McCain -- Because you don't care about the middle class either.

So it's a foreign-policy/defense thing? McCain supported the surge. But what next? What standard to leave Iraq? His plan doesn't say how; it says when. So when? According to McCain it doesn't matter. He believes in the dignity of waiting.

Biden called for some specifics of a plan for Iraq, and all McCain has put in the chamber is a call for victory. He expects the voters to trust him when he says that waiting is necessary.

Well it's not. It's not necessary because we should not stay in Iraq just to prove that we can. Palin had nothing to add to this. She had nothing because They have nothing. And the most disturbing thing is that it seems to be a bragging point for her. No wait. The most disturbing thing is that these answers worked for some viewers.

I can understand that some voters have made up their minds and they're not listening for arguments. We're all guilty of that at times. And some voters argue on a platform of values that I don't share. If you believe homosexuality is a sin and you believe the constitution should define it as an aberration because of your reading of the bible, then I'll assume that you don't care much for distestablishmentarianism. You might take issue with my conjecture but at that point the argument changes and it's no longer about the candidates.

So getting back to them--

We don't know what the undecided voters are waiting to hear. It might be that they're not sure what the economy needs. They might be unclear on Iraq. Perhaps they have not yet resolved the competing stories. If they haven't seen the numbers they don't know how to judge the tax plans. If they haven't read the bill they don't know what to think of Obama's support of kindergarten sex-education. They might not know if the arguments are misleading or incomplete.

Ignorance is accepted. And it's easy to remedy. In the debate Palin showed some rhetorical dexterity. But she did so by encouraging ignorance by flaunting her necessary incuriosity. I hope that undecided voters are still monitoring the balance because of their refusal to settle on that same ignorance.