Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Civilization rears her beautiful head at McCain event only to be garrotted.

I held some hope that this presented a change for the better, so to speak. But this occurrence is about the only positive note. It's considerably muted by the fact that the hero of the piece, the Islamic McCain staffer who shut down these hateful twits has been forbidden to speak to the media, according to the latest from CNN and Huffpo:

The aide, Daniel Zubairi, had been scheduled to appear on Sanchez's mid-day program after he was caught on video talking down an anti-Muslim protester outside a McCain rally in Woodbridge, Virginia. But, even after telling the network that an interview was "good to go," the McCain shop pulled Zubairi at the last minute, leaving Sanchez in limbo on live TV.

"Wouldn't you think they would have wanted him to come on?" the CNN host would later tell the Huffington Post. "What the guy did was courageous. I called him heroic. I'm mystified why they wouldn't embrace him for his actions. Maybe they didn't like the story, but I'll tell you. I thought it was presented it in a very transparent way, if anything I kind of gushed philosophically about how impressive and real his reaction was to the protester's hateful message. It seemed to show some of the best of McCain supporters, didn't it?"

It's a damn good question. But perhaps this New York Observer story holds the answer.

First, Representative Patrick McHenry cheered what he called the “biggest crowd John McCain has gotten in North Carolina” and emphasized that this was a critical election with a stark choice between the candidates.

“It’s like black and white,” someone in the crowd at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center yelled out, laughing. McHenry let the remark pass and finished his speech. He yielded the microphone to Representative Robin Hayes, who prefaced his comments by saying it was important to “make sure we don’t say something stupid, make sure we don’t say something we don’t mean.” Republicans, he reminded the crowd, were kind people. Plus, he added, the liberal media had shown itself eager to distort such remarks. With the crowd duly chastened and put on best behavior, he accused Obama of “inciting class warfare” and said that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”

So to answer the confused Sanchez, they want to “make sure [he doesn't] say something ... we don’t mean.”

McCain campaign is relying more upon the America Blanca's [Spanish for "White America"] than the Daniel Zubairi's of conservatives.
Damn the Polls: McCain's Irreducibles Beg to Differ | The New York Observer: "“I don’t believe these polls,” said America Blanca, a 44-year-old small business owner from Miami who wore a red dress and was visibly pumped up by the rally. “Not one of them. Because it’s the kids answering the polls on the computers. Their parents are not home and they are answering and they will not be voting. I think if he is losing, it is only by a little spread. Very little.” She held the tip of her pointer finger about two inches from the tip of her thumb.

Asked if her business made more than $250,000 a year, the cap under which Obama has proposed cutting taxes, she said it did. Told about Obama’s proposal, she answered, “I don’t give a shit. I will never vote for a black man.”"
And if it's not Obama's race, it's false associations with his religion:

Daniel Varisco, anthropology chair at Hofstra University, said he wrote the "statement of concerned scholars" after seeing Islamophobia on the rise.

"The attempts to label Senator Obama a terrorist or rhyme his name with Osama (bin Laden) or accent his middle name (Hussein), as well as false claims about his being sworn into (U.S. Senate) office on a Koran, demonstrate how near to the surface anti-Islamic sentiment is in the United States," he said.

Circulating such falsehoods "avoids playing the race card directly but at the expense of Muslims," he said.

It troubles me that McCain and Palin have not taken this stunningly obvious opportunity to disavow all support from the false assocations and outright racism. While I do not think that race, per se, caused Colin Powell to support Obama - well, look to this statement:

"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?" he asked on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The answer's 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? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion 'he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America," Powell said, while making clear such sentiment was not coming from McCain himself.

Racism and hate speech of this sort may not have told a rock-ribbed Conservative such as Powell who to vote for; but it surely had to influence who he was unwilling to be associated with publically, for reasons both obviously political and no doubt personal on a most visceral level.

Likewise, I would not be at all suprised to soon hear Daniel Zubairi disavowing his association with McCain. Were I in his place, I'd consider the actions of the McCain campain to be a disavowal of my public disavowal that racism and anti-muslum retoric is supported by the campaign.

While racist, anti-muslim words are spread by supporters, they should be taken as one person speaking on their own behalf - if they are not disavowed, they tend to spread. And there is no lack of evidence to suggest that people speaking on behalf of the campaign and attempting to influence more have little less restraint.

Via "BadAmerican"

..Dana Milbank highlights another incident from Monday:

Worse, Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.” At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”

Getting ugly out there,” says ABC’s Jake Tapper.

It is getting very difficult to evade the distinct impression that class and race warfare is in fact the keystone of the entire McCain/Neocon strategy. I'm going to take one speculative step beyond that - I'm beginning to suspect that McCain is positioning Palin as the new spokesperson for a resergant, racist right-wing movement. This is distinctly underlined for me by her ties to the Alaska Independance Party - a separatist movement with some disturbingly extremist positions.

But mostly, I'm just plain insulted by her suggestion that only rednecks from rural Amurika are "real americans." That everyone that has any appreciation of nuance, multiculturalism or good sushi is a "godless liberal."

In closing, I'm down with John Stewart: "Fuck Y'all!"

(From Canada, go here. Aside to BOTH comedy networks - this is a royal pain in the ass; fix it. All it takes is a simple redirect to the appropriate server, dudes.)

Frankly, I think that at certain points in time - and this is one of them - that a hearty "fuck you" is the only intelligent response to massive, visible stupidity.

Straight-Laced Science V. Gay* Agenda**

clipped from digg.com

Gay Bugs Breed

newscientist.com —
Homosexual copulations are common in insects, where they pose the same conundrum as in mammals: what evolutionary advantage, if any, might such apparently fruitl

  • Bugs are so gay.
    2 Replies — best has 1 digg
  • Did they also study female bug interactions? ...not that I'd be interested in such things...
    1 Reply — best has 1 digg
  • These comments are going to turn into a shitstorm so fast....

    Ohp, too late.
  •  blog it
    *Wheren "Gay" is taken to mean gleeful, fun, irreverent.

    **A date book that helps you fit everything in.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Christina Bellantoni: McCain supporters heckle early voters,

    "Photographer Joe Eddins and I headed over to the closest one and found a steady line of voters hoping to cast ballots early. Most seemed to be Obama supporters and several had come from the rally...Also at the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in."

    read more | digg story

    Jurassic Ark

    So were there dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark?

    (Don’t ask Sarah Palin; her head might explode.)

    Some creationists do get their knickers in a twist when asked this question, and pull out all sorts of nonsense about dinosaurs being vegetarians before The Fall (but wasn’t the Ark built after The Fall?).

    Now, far be it from me to mock creationists (bwahahahahaha!), but happily, in this case I don’t have to. Artist Stephen Geddes will do it for me. He’s made an awesome wood sculpture that does the trick pretty well, and it’s on display at the Sandra Small Gallery in Covington, Ky… down the road from the creation museum.

    clipped from nky.cincinnati.com
    clipped from nky.cincinnati.com
    I guess the unicorns were just an appetizer.

    Now that’s a piece of art I want in my living room.

     blog it
    Oh, now that's subversive art! And just down the road from the Creation Museum...

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    "We're votin' for the n***er!"

    Typing "Racists for Obama" into Google brings in more results than you could believe. Could this be the end of the Southern Strategy? Via FiveThirtyEight:

    So a canvasser goes to a woman's door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she's planning to vote for. She isn't sure, has to ask her husband who she's voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, "We're votin' for the n***er!"

    Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: "We're voting for the n***er."

    In this economy, racism is officially a luxury. How is John McCain going to win if he can't win those voters? John Murtha's "racist" western Pennsylvania district, where this story takes place, is some of the roughest turf in the nation. But Barack Obama is on the ground and making inroads due to unusually strong organizing leadership.

    Meanwhile Here's some more small town Palin Patriots capering for your amusement. I must admit, I haven't verified that these cartoon characters are in fact Republicans. I'm making a prejudicial assumption based on prior bad acts of similar sorts by Republicans. Call it "political profiling." :>

    A Mirror for Ms. Bachmann

    I finally got to see Chris Matthews pay out the rope for Rep. Bachmann. I'd seen transcripts, with nuggets such as this, but so many people were clogging the tubes, I had to wait my turn.

    "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America,"

    Gee whiz, I'd kinda thought we'd established that witch-hunts were a bad idea, even BEFORE Jefferson's time. I was obviously wrong in believing that "Have you no decency, Sir?" was a phrase that still resonated. Clearly, millions disagree. Fortunately, those millions do not include the honorable old warrior Colin Powell.

    "Mr. McCain says that he's a washed up terrorist, but then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have the robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another and that's good. But I think this goes too far, and I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It's not what the American people are looking for."

    Powell also spoke passionately against the insinuations by some Republicans that Obama is a Muslim.

    "Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian," he said. "But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's 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? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated [with] terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

    Now, that's the most diplomatic bitch-slapping I've heard in recent times. It will never be all that quotable; Mr. Powell is, I'm afraid, no master of the pithy catch-phrase. But he's certainly capable of pithing essentialist idiocies.

    ..Mr. Obama is now [called] a socialist, because he dares to suggest that maybe we ought to look at the tax structure that we have. Taxes are always a redistribution of money. Most of the taxes that are redistributed go back to those who pay them, in roads and airports and hospitals and schools. And taxes are necessary for the common good. And there's nothing wrong with examining what our tax structure is or who should be paying more or who should be paying less, and for us to say that makes you a socialist is an unfortunate characterization that I don't think is accurate.

    Powell has stated that he will be voting for Obama and that he still considers himself a Republican. I think it would be fair to assume that his conclusion is that people such as Mr. McCain and Ms. Bachmann do not meet his standards for probity and disciplined leadership.

    Nor do I think Powell confuses reactionary social impositions with any sort of Conservatism, and while I might be wrong, I think he'd tend to guardedly agree with the next bit.

    I personally think that the only decent position on matters of individual choice that should decently be considered to be private was best stated bluntly by one of the most contradictory, maddening and controversial politicians in North American history; one of the very few foreign leaders to ever be noticed by the American people - aside, of course, from Fidel Castro.

    We take the position that there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. * Comment in the Canadian House of Commons on the decriminalization of homosexuality (1967-12-22)

    That's a very Libertarian idea, when you think about it. It's certainly widely quoted by Libertarians, though they tend to file off the serial numbers. And though he was a self-described Democratic Socialist, that was an economic, not a social position. I might add that he's been as much of an influence upon me as William F. Buckley - and for essentially the same reason; both men were far more interesting and useful when wrong than any two ordinary politically significant figures stumbling upon the right idea for the usual populist reasons.

    I thought of Trudeau in reference to Mr. Powell, who has finally come to his parting of the ways with stupidity and who has taken the high ground as the only strategic and tactical option available.

    He did not say it as eloquently as Trudeau on the eve of the FLQ crisis, but in essence we are seeing similar times and a similar impatience with those who think that violence and chaos are the proper response to political frustrations.

    Pierre Trudeau - "There are very few times in the history of any country when all persons must take a stand on critical issues. This is one of these times; this is one of those issues. I am confident that those persons who unleashed this tragic sequence of events with the aim of destroying our society and dividing our country will find that the opposite will occur. The result of their acts will be a stronger society in a unified country. Those who would have divided us will have united us." - Announcing the War Measures Act to a national television audience, October 16, 1970

    I hope very much that leaders and statesmen such as Colin Powell can indeed rise to this challenge, can indeed forestall what seems to me a crisis of spirit and a rising tide of intolerance. While it's not at all fashionable to equate the rhetoric of Palin and McCain with the actions of people responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, it's damn clear that they are not as far apart as any reasonable person might wish.

    Reasonable and civilized leaders do not foment hatred, do not cultivate suspicion of their rivals, do not brandish the noose and the burning cross even in the subtlest and most deniable way. The reason why should be brutally obvious, but perhaps McCain and Palin are indeed willing to "rule in Hell rather than to serve in Heaven."

    But as with all Faustian bargains, the devil is in the details. The telling details are, in both cases, those who are willing to do "whatever it takes" (Palin's infamous phrase) leave a swathe of destruction behind them - and that echoing emptiness, that conspicuous, Shermanesqe path of political arson and the rape of propriety leads unfailingly to those responsible.

    The Karma comes due when such people meet principled opposition and act toward that opposition as if that person were their own mirror image, projecting on that other all the evils, all the spitefulness, all the shameful guilty reservations about their own progress to power that they believe to be known only to themselves.

    With Palin, McCain and their few remaining apologists, it's simple to discern their mistakes, their failures, their regrets and their gaps of leadership and comprehension, for all those things are precisely what they accuse their opponents of. They are unused - sadly - to contestation with their betters.

    They are sadly shallow people, quite apparently proud of their inability to deal intelligently with complex issues, or at least unwilling to be caught thinking in public, lest "Joe the Plumber" accuse them of being "elitist." As Obama has been pilloried for saying, "it's as if they are proud of being ignorant."

    No "as if." They are proud of it. They celebrate it. And they persecute anyone and any thing that bodes even the slightest possiblity of penetrating their shells of willful parochialism. These are Palin's Patriotic Americans.

    I'm quite sure that the majority of her supporters would enthusiastically agree that yes, they ARE "Good, patriotic, "God-Fearing Uhmurikins" with no discernment of why this condemns them as both Unchristian AND Unamerican in their abuse of both Christ and Constitution.

    Aside from being wrong, it's the sort of dumb-as-dirt wrong that leads to the sort of mess the world is now in, thanks to George Bush and the half-smart and the fully stupified folks who put the crap-flinging Chimp in power.

    Well, frankly, I think it's my damn right to expect the best and the brightest, and my responsiblity to support them whenever I can. Since and including Ronald Regan, and not sparing either Clinton or Carter, all successful presidential and indeed most congressional candidates have been or styled themselves as being "low bid candidates;" the champions of Joe Six-Pack and the true and natural representative of the dumb-ass wings of each party.

    In this, they were not entirely disingenuous, in that they were as easily bribed with shiny trinkets and meaningless photo-ops as were their constituents. Can we say "Keating Five?" Can we say "Enron" and "Energy Policy?" Oooh, I KNEW that we could!

    I'm not one to worship at the altar of Obama. I think him a skilled politician, a remarkably good speaker, certainly a potential statesman and certainly as smart as any cracker's whip - but I do not think him better than what we should ordinarily expect of our elected leaders. I think he is a good example of what sort of people we should consider our due. It's not that difficult to choose to be an honest broker, to choose to act according to principles and to try, as often as humanly possible, to achieve something worthwhile along the path of fulfilling one's own ambitions. That is my minimum standard for myself and for anyone I choose to associate with. I do not think that a particularly high standard.

    And I think that it's a standard we - not as citizens of this country or that, but as civilized persons participating in our various cultures and societies - should realize we MUST live up to in order to have a civil society to prosper within.

    But I have my doubts that the United States will survive that realization. It certainly will not, cannot and should not pass through this trial unchanged. It may not survive without violence, it may not survive in recognizable form. The irresponsible and unconscionable efforts by Right-Wing conservatives, the social subversions committed by traitorous theocrats have carved out rifts between people that could well be fatal to any meaningful resolution. More personally, I found myself less and less inclined to even wish to live in a society that included people who see nooses as "fair comment" and the conscious, deliberate and malicious bearing of false witness against their neighbor as being "their Christian duty."

    Fuck 'em, said I, knowing that that would be the least worst fate they envisioned for me. It was all too easy to see me and mine shoved into a cattle car on a one-way trip to a nuclear-powered microwave incinerator.

    I, personally, see no profit in trying to fight that good fight there when I could do as much here in Canada and, bluntly, for a Canadian society that has far less bad karma coming due. I make no apologies for the fact that I prefer to live in a culture, a nation and a society where none of the party leaders are people who's positions insult my intelligence or who think it proper to appeal to my most base instincts.

    Je suis un Canadian! Vive la Confederation! Vive la Civilization! VIVE La Banque du Canada!

    It's not difficult to point to Ms. Bachmann as being an exemplar of all that is wrong with the United States in general. But in fact, Ms. Bachmann is the direct responsibility of those who elected her, those who contributed to her campaign and those colleagues in Congress that permit her to caucus with them, valuing political expediency over the consequences of tolerating such a poster child for petty partisan patronage.

    It's inconceivable to me that such a lackwit could have gotten on a ballot by any fair, legitimate, intelligent process. The fruits and nuts point to the health of the tree and it's roots. Bachmann and her ilk in elected office at all levels are the bitter fruit of a poisoned tree.

    Myrna the Minx goes Assymetrical with Twitter

    And I got this via twitter...

    It was inevitable that online political organizers would find innovative ways to use social media during this election season, but I am part of a project that’s got me incredibly excited about the organizing potential of Twitter. If you haven’t heard about the election cycle’s most controversial issue–voter suppression–you’ve been spending too much time reading Mashable and not enough time following the news. I’m not talking about the Republicans’ tarted up ACORN voter registration fraud “controversy” (something altogether different and much less serious than voter fraud), I’m talking about tactics deployed by political operatives to keep people from exercising their right and responsibility to vote.

    Enter Twitter. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that limits you to individual entries of 140 characters or less. Individuals use Twitter to share short messages with friends and family and whoever else they give permission to “follow” them. Now marketers and businesses are using Twitter to network and communicate with their customers and political organizers have begun using Twitter to spread important messages throughout their activist base. I wrote about the #dontgo movement, the first large-scale Twitter political activist campaign earlier this year, and it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to turn Twitter into a critical online political organizing tool for elections.

    I may no longer be in Nevada, but the beauty of the Internet is that one can keep some of the good bits. :)

    And pass them along.

    This, by the by, shows exactly what a powerful tool for truth-telling, fact-checking and sub-lethal social insurgency this brave new world of information warfare brings us.


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