Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving update: I'll take a left wing, please.

Okay, spent Thanksgiving with brother-in-law's family and some of their friends. Brother-in-law ("B" for short) votes republican. So does his wife ("S" for short). They are classic "vote-against-their-own-interests" republicans. Right-wing right down the line, yet he works for the City where he receives great benefits which he has used extensively, and will continue to do so for the rest of his life. She works for a hospital and is active in her union, shockingly enough, considering how she is unswervingly right-wing. They live in a home that they bought through HUD. The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say that they are classic in the mold of A Day in the Life of Joe Middle-Class Republican. They are opposed to liberalism yet their lives have been so improved thanks to liberal-democrat policies that they would be shocked if they only realized. They don't - they think they did it all themselves and deserve every benefit they receive (not realizing they're exploiting the fruits of socialism).

Their friends, although I admit up-front that it is not my place to judge, are country Nascar Walmartian types who seem like they stepped right out of King of the Hill.

B & S have three daughters. The older one (23yrs) shares our basic liberal ideology (thank goodness), while the two younger ones (21yrs) don't seem to be too concerned about such things.

There was very little political discussion, but here's a sample of what little there was:

B, to my wife ("T"): "So, who did you vote for?"

T: "Who do you think? Obama."

B: (emphatically) "I'm sorry."

(Older neice's boyfriend: "The Messiah himself!")

T: "I think he has some good ideas."

B: "Well, if you believe what it says in the good book-"

S: "No political talk at dinner, remember!?"

End of conversation. I knew where he was going with it: he was going to say that the Bible says Obama is the Antichrist. Happy Thanksgiving.

And by the way: what is this obsession the right has had throughout the campaign about Obama being "the messiah"? They're the only ones who ever bring it up. I know it is all a part of their contention that he is the antichrist and all that but it still floors me that the rank-and-file repukes buy it. Real ones, too, right in plain sight! Hoky smokes, Bullwinkle.

I spent the day feeling disassociated from the group, as usual. I'm used to it. It's usually really depressing, but this time I was encouraged by the crushing loss they received on election day. Chuckle (and sigh of relief).

I like my brother-in-law, and I don't condemn him for being ignorant about politics, any more than he condemns me for not knowing how to pour a concrete foundation. He's a good person who is easily influenced by friends and associates who get their worldview from FOX news and talk radio. At least he expresses an active interest, which I suppose is better than being apathetic. Maybe. Maybe not.

I'm just glad more voters decided it was better to vote for the antichrist than for four more years of truly diabolical policies.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Worried About Thanksgiving Fights with Right-Wing Family Members?

Reprinted from Alternet:

Worried About Thanksgiving Fights with Right-Wing Family Members? By Sara Robinson

Oh, Lordy. It is that time again. Thursday is Thanksgiving -- the official kickoff event of the 2008 holiday season. For a lot of progressives, these festivities also mean that we're about to spend more quality time with our conservative relatives over the next six weeks than is strictly good for our blood pressure, stress levels, or continued sanity.

Personally, I'm not a wholehearted fan of turkey -- probably because the mere smell of it instantly slams me back into memories of several decades of Thanksgiving dinner arguments with conservative kin that took a turn for the ugly. We all know we're supposed to stick to "safe" topics like the kids, college football, and the weather; and avoid controversial issues like religion, politics and whether oysters belong in a proper bird stuffing. But the afternoon is long, and after the approved topics have been exhausted and that third bottle of Cabernet vanishes and the tryptophan torpor hits, decorum and discipline are at high risk of going all to hell. After that, things can and do get contentious, usually in ways that make everyone wish we could all just go back to fighting over oysters in the stuffing.

These family gatherings were hard enough to stomach through the appalling years of the Bush Adoration -- but this year, it's likely to be even worse. Our beloved family wingnuts were insufferable, in a grotesque Mayberry-on-acid surreal kind of way, while crowing into their succotash about the manly Godliness (or was it Godly manliness?) of Our Divinely Ordained Commander-in-Chief. But this year's different. This year, they're on the way out of power -- and they're scared witless about it. Which means big steaming heapin' helpings of liberal-bashing are likely to be featured prominently on the menu next to the mashed potatoes, as they put fresh vigor into every paranoid anti-liberal fantasy ever spouted by Rush, Reverend Pat, or their new darling, Sarah Palin.

The black guy won. Armageddon -- or, at the very least, socialism, atheism, gun control, and a national epidemic of erectile dysfunction -- must certainly be at hand.

As you prepare to head once again into the family fray, it might be useful to note that most of the right wing's favorite anti-liberal slanders are rooted in some deeply-held -- and deeply wrong -- assumptions about who liberals are, and what we believe. If your relatives, God bless 'em all, insist on going down that road, your best defense this year might be to listen closely for these underlying myths and fables at work -- and be prepared to challenge them head-on when they surface in the discussion.

Here's a basic set to get you started. Tuck it away in your bag with your Xanax and Maalox, and apply (liberally, of course) as needed.

1. Liberals hate America.

For the record: Liberals love America. In fact, what makes us liberals is that we actually read and believed all those pretty words in the Declaration of Independence about "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and in the Bill of Rights about freedom of speech, religion, assembly, privacy, and all the rest of it.

We're idealists that way. We want to live in the country the Founders described. We believe that the nation's founding documents expressed a uniquely powerful moral contract between the people and their government, and an audaciously positive vision of people's ability and competence to shape their own future. When we get annoying and whiny, it's usually because we believe so much in America's astonishing promise -- and our own responsibility for realizing it -- that we're sorely disappointed when the country falls short of that standard. We really want to believe we can do better.

Conservatism, by contrast, tends to take a dim view of human nature, prefers hierarchy to liberty, and isn't completely convinced people can or should be trying to contravene the will of God or their betters by trying to arrange their own futures. This tends to lead to a selective reading of the Constitution (as well as the Bible), and -- as we've seen in the Bush years -- a far more flexible attitude toward its interpretation.

The proof, however, is in the history -- and it's pretty irrefutable. America's greatest moments of progress, generosity, and moral strength occurred when the country stuck most closely to its progressive ideals. We loved America so much that we freed the slaves, passed child labor laws, built schools and colleges, gave the vote to women, enacted civil rights laws, rebuilt Europe after a war we helped win, and put a man on the moon. All of these were progressive projects -- and all were fought tooth and nail by conservatives in their time, simply because they feared change and saw power as a zero-sum game. Yeah, we sometimes overshoot and miss -- but you can't argue with the daring scope of our dreams.

Conversely, most of our worst moments -- the Native American genocide, the continued justification of slavery and Jim Crow, the Japanese internment, Abu Ghraib -- were conservative projects that were driven by narrow-minded xenophobia and short-term greed, and are regretted by everyone (including most conservatives) when we look back now.

Rick Perlstein has called this out as a predictable pattern: conservatives will loudly obstruct social progress for decades before finally accepting it -- and then, they'll insist they were 100 percent for it all along.

Love us or hate us; but we're every bit as American as our conservative friends and relatives, and have been since the day the Declaration was written (by a liberal, in fact).

2. Liberals want to leave us defenseless in the face of evildoers around the world.

The big disconnect on security issues begins with the fact that we have a far more expansive definition of "security" than conservatives do. And, perhaps, a broader sense of what the actual threats are, and what can be done about them.

When conservatives discuss "security," they're usually thinking in terms of solving all our problems by sending in more guys and gals with guns. The flip side of this that they tend not to give much credence to real threats that can't be fixed by guys and gals with guns.

But as progressives, we know that the country's financial crisis is a security issue. And in a world of superbugs and epidemics, universal health care is a security issue. And global warming is, plain as day, a looming security issue (and the Pentagon agrees). We also know that sending in the Marines, hiring more cops, and taking off our shoes at the airport won't begin to address some of our most terrifying problems. Real-world security is far more complex, and requires a much wider range of solutions, than most conservatives are willing to consider.

3. Liberals hate the free market.

If that's so, why does everyone down at the Apple Store know my name?

The operative word here is "free." Liberals believe wholeheartedly in the amazing power of markets to deliver all kinds of important goods. But we've also noticed that some of the deepest human goods of all -- a strong family, a caring community, a healthy environment, safe food, clean water and air, and time to enjoy them all -- are assigned no economic value at all in unfettered markets. If we want to protect the value of things that money can't buy (and even conservatives will usually agree that such common goods exist, and deserve to be protected), then we need to put some restrictions on markets so they can't encroach into those areas.

Besides, any 10-year-old who's played Monopoly (or any adult who's been within reach of a TV or newspaper in the past two months) can tell you how free markets invariably end up. One person ends up owning the whole game board, and everybody else ends up broke. Game over. That's not an accident; it's just how capitalist systems work. Good regulation can go a long way toward preventing that, too.

It can also be argued that conservatives don't really believe in free markets, either. Truly free markets can only work if there's also a free market in labor -- which means open borders (it's fun to drop this suggestion with a broad wink on border-fence grognards) and unfettered collective bargaining -- neither of which are exactly pet conservative causes.

Because free-market theory also asserts that markets only work right when people can make rational, fully-informed choices, they break down if there's not a parallel free market in information, too. If conservatives really believed in free markets, they'd support efforts to preserve and maintain that market. Keeping good information flowing means putting tight regulations on media consolidation, and firm limits around how far advertising and PR firms can go to stretch the truth or bury negative information. It also means abolishing laws that deprive consumers of important purchasing information, like food-libel laws and federal bans on rGHB labeling. It's a rare conservative who's willing to go that far to protect the sanctity of the free market.

4. Liberals hate our troops.

We love our troops. We love them so much that we want them brought home safe and sound to their families, as soon as possible.

This one's almost depressingly easy. Who blocked the new GI Bill because it might encourage troops not to re-up? Who refused to increase VA funding? Who oversaw last year's debacle at Walter Reed? Who is making soldiers buy their own body armor?

News flash: it ain't the libruls. Putting a yellow ribbon decal on your car is not enough. Making sure our troops have everything they need to do their jobs -- and keeping our promises to them when they get home -- is putting our money where our mouth is. Liberals have been there doing the heavy lifting from the start, while the conservatives in government have been nowhere on the scene unless there was a photo op involved.

5. Liberals are a bunch of elitists who hate decent working- and middle-class Americans.

…as opposed to those sainted corporate men-of-the-people who fly around in private jets and pull down eight-figure salaries while closing plants and cutting 10,000 jobs at a time. That's what real populism looks like, you betcha.

Liberals are funny people. We think that sending well-paid American jobs overseas is a bad idea. We think the minimum wage should be big enough to cover life's necessities, with some left over. We think it's insane that over half the bankruptcies in the country are due to lack of adequate medical insurance. We think everybody who has the grades should have a shot at college. And we believe that middle-class prosperity is absolutely essential for maintaining a healthy democracy -- because history (via Kevin Phillips) has taught us that no democracy that's tolerated our current levels inequality has ever survived for long.

You'd be surprised (or maybe not) at how many conservatives making this accusation have never stopped and taken stock of the role government has played in making their own middle-class life possible. Their dad or granddad got through college on the GI Bill. They financed their own education with Pell Grants and federally-guaranteed loans. They grew up in FHA or VA-funded houses, and collected fat mortgage interest deductions -- which, right there, ensured their family's place in the middle class. They went to decent public schools -- and, perhaps, state universities. They're several thousand dollars richer every month because they're off the hook for Grandma's living expenses, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. They or their parents may have started businesses with help from the Small Business Administration, or relied on government advice and subsidies to keep the farm going. They work for businesses that depend on government contracts.

And then they'll sit there over the second helping of candied yams and loudly insist that they made everything they had, all by themselves, with no help from anybody and especially not from the government.

All you can do is laugh. And then, because they're family, go back to 1945 and start re-telling the family story -- this time with Uncle Sam's forgotten role in the drama front and center.

6. Liberals are against "family values."

This is one of the biggest disconnects between us. As George Lakoff has pointed out, conservatives and liberals have very different ideas about what families look like, how they function, and what rules they should run under. The problem is that liberals are quite willing to recognize the conservative model as a legitimate and valid way to do family, even if we don't always agree with it. But when conservatives look at liberal families and their patchwork of made-up arrangements, they see a chaotic free-for-all that doesn't follow any of their strictly mandated rules of family organization -- and thus doesn't qualify in their minds as any kind of "family" at all. We think it's creative and flexible. They think it's unstable and scary.

So it comes as a considerable shock to conservatives when you point out that progressive areas of the country have significantly stronger families, by almost any metric you can imagine. They have lower rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, infidelity, drug abuse, domestic violence, and juvenile delinquency than the more conservative areas do. Massachusetts -- the first state to offer gay marriage -- also has the lowest divorce rate in the country. They like marriage so much there they think everybody should have a shot at it.

Looking at the statistics, it's possible to conclude that the conservative obsession with "family values" may reflect the fact that families in Red America really are beset by devastating problems that aren't nearly as common in Blue America. Rather than admit that maybe we know something about creating healthy families that they don't, they'll usually try to fix the blame for their family chaos on us and our crazy anything-goes family arrangements. (If there are Bible readers at your table, you might suggest they re-read Luke 6:42 before holding forth.)

Liberals believe in family. We take our marriage vows just as seriously as conservatives do. We love our children just as much. Our families are at least as successful and happy as theirs. This shouldn't be a matter of debate; but it will continue to be one as long they refuse to believe that our families are just as healthy, valid, and sacred to us as theirs are to them.

7. Liberals want to raise our taxes.

It all depends on who is the "our" in this scenario.

If your dinner companions are well-off enough to be bringing in over $250K a year, there's no point in finessing this. Their taxes probably are going up. The only comeback is that between Clinton-era tax cuts, the housing bubble, and the hot stock market of the past 15 years, they've probably made so much money that it's time to start giving some back to the nation that made their boon possible. (Refer back to #5: they almost certainly didn't make that pile without at least some government help.)

If 's nobody at the table fits that happy description, then according to Obama's plan, they're going to get a tax cut. Sure, they're not going to believe it until they see it (and, quite possibly, not even then); but it's not an argument they even want to have until after an Obama tax plan is passed and the actual results are in.

Remind them also that there's just no way to pay for a $600 billion war and a $700 billion bailout (and that's just the current cost on both fronts -- they're likely to soar in the future) without somebody somewhere paying some more taxes. The bill for the war alone currently stands $5,000 per American household; the bailout may cost that much again, depending on how much of the money the government can recoup. The GOP went shopping on our credit card -- and now it's time to pay our share of the bill.

8. Liberals are Godless -- and therefore, amoral.

This often sounds odd coming from people who raised you, who generally like you, and who usually think you're a fairly sound citizen…well, apart from that weird liberal thing. One good comeback is to personalize that accusation: Do you really think I'm less moral than you are? Seriously? In what way? Hmm. (It's good if you can resist the temptation to say: Gee, it must have been the way I was raised.)

Another twist on this: I'm liberal because you made me that way. You dragged me to church, where they taught me to love my neighbor and care for the poor and sick -- and I became a progressive because I took the things you taught me to heart.

If personalizing the argument won't work with your crowd, go general. A lot of progressives are deeply religious -- and our politics are guided by our religious faith. Evangelical churches are getting involved with environmentalism, poverty, and human trafficking -- all issues where liberals have been active for decades. It's good to have the extra hands on board.

It's also true that a lot of progressives aren't religious. Unfortunately, many conservatives equate "secular" with "having no moral code whatsoever," since they honestly believe that nobody can possibly behave themselves unless there's some outside authority keeping a hairy eyeball on them. (It's tempting to speculate about what people who believe this might try to get away with when they think nobody's watching; personally, I think it's an incriminating admission that they can't be trusted behind closed doors.) Rejecting God means you refuse to follow His rules -- which, according to their logic, can only mean that you hold nothing sacred and don't recognize any rules at all.

Call this out for the wrongness that it is. All non-religious progressives have things they hold deeply sacred: family commitments, community obligations, professional responsibilities, the Constitution, social and economic justice, the earth and its systems, the idea of democracy, the dream of a peaceful future. Those things form the basis of a demanding internally-driven moral code; and it's not uncommon to find secular progressives who live more uncompromisingly moral lives than many overtly religious people.

9. Liberals don't believe in personal responsibility.

Again, there's a definitional disconnect at work here. Conservatives tend to use the rule of law to enforce traditional morality and social hierarchies, which usually means light treatment for those at the top, and harsh penalties for those at the bottom. Liberals tend to use the rule of law to maintain some semblance of fairness and equality, which means that those who have more should be given sentences proportional to their greater wealth and power; and those with less should be given a more gentle hand. Naturally, each side finds the other side's reasoning and criteria appalling.

But there is common ground. The bare fact -- which everybody at the table may agree on -- is that in present-day America, nobody is happy with the way justice is being doled out, and people all over are getting away with things no civilized nation should allow to slide by. Absurd leniency abounds on both sides. You can either argue over whose side is getting the worst of it; or you can simply agree that the system is broken all over, and move on to the pumpkin pie.

10. Liberals are wimps.

Conservatives like to caricaturize liberals as being soft in all the places our society values toughness. Our refusal to adhere to any dogma must mean that we're soft in our convictions. Our reflexive open-mindedness is often derided as evidence that we're soft in the head. Our persistent and gentle insistence on humane government is evidence of hearts too soft to set hard boundaries or do what must be done. And all of this together makes it easy for them to portray us as a mushy bunch of feckless, effeminate intellectuals lacking in cohesion, backbone, focus, or purpose.

But you can only believe this if you don't know anything about the history or reality of American liberalism. The Constitution is, itself, a liberal document -- the ultimate expression of Enlightenment principles. In every decade since the republic was founded, progressives have stepped up and put themselves on the line to further the purposes of government laid out in the Preamble. We're heirs to the people who fought and died to free slaves, organize unions, give the vote to women, end child labor, protect family farms, enact civil rights laws, and preserve our environment. Some of the boldest, bravest Americans in history -- Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Teddy Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, and of course Dr. King -- have proudly called themselves "liberal" or "progressive."

Progressivism couldn't have survived and thrived if we were half as weak and indecisive as conservatives like to think we are. Our progressive forebears were not fearful people. Nor did any of them seem to be bedeviled by a lack of conviction. "Mushy" or "feckless" are about the last words I'd use to describe any of them. ("Stupid" isn't anywhere on the list, either.) When you sign up to become a progressive, this is the legacy you take on, and from then on attempt to live up to. It's not God's job to make the world a better place. It's yours. This has never been work for the faint of heart, mind, or spirit -- and in this era of conservatism gone rotten, it still isn't.

It's going to be a stranger season than most, in no small part because the changing political winds are going to put some fresh twists and turns into the same old holiday discussions. But holiday arguments over religion and politics are a tradition that's as old as the republic. For most of us, wouldn't be an American family holiday without a little hot conversation served up over a freshly roasted bird.

Sara Robinson is a twenty-year veteran of Silicon Valley, and is launching a second career as a strategic foresight analyst. When she's not studying change theories and reactionary movements, you can find her singing the alto part over at Orcinus. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two teenagers.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You want to know something that really freaks me out?

Here's something that really has me messed up. I don't want to say that I am worried, exactly, but I am curious and concerned. You see, for many months now, I have not been able to find any of these for sale, anywhere:

You may think, "Big deal. Stuff like that comes and goes; maybe they were out of 'em or something."

No, this is bigger than a simple inventory lapse. Hostess Blakcberry Fruit Pies have not been available in any grocery or convenience store where I have shopped for a long, long time. I mean a really long, long, looooong time.

It's not just that I like them. They have been available for as long as I can remember. Stores often stocked a few more of them because they were a little more popular than the others. But now, it's a barren wasteland where once the mighty berry fruit pie reigned supreme.

The call goes out to all my blog buddies. Have any of you seen a Hostess Blakcberry Fruit Pie for sale? Anyone? Anywhere? Please let me know if you have, so that this great pie shall not perish from the face of the earth.It is a mystery which must be solved.

Thanks ahead of time for your help.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Funny headline of the day:

Seen on MSN: "Teen Survives Cougar Attack."

Well, I thought it was, anyway.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Bush (yes, he is still the president) had an economic plan. His Arabian counterpart Osama Bin Laden did, too. The two were remarkably similar. Actually, they had basically the same goal with different motives.

From 2003:
Bush's Plan
The plan is very simple, but not obvious on first blush. Make sure that all the money is gone from the U.S. treasury, make sure the deficits are so great that all social and educational programs are cut, increase the military and security budgets to "protect our nation" with all these monies going to corporations and security firms who are extra-national (not tied to any country, but actually more than multi-national in that they are outside the purview of any nation at any single moment) and stave in the social security fund by allowing it to go to private corporations for "investment"-and you have the perfect scenario for saying, "only the private sector can save us-we're broke and they have the money to run every program, fund every program, but of course, at huge costs and profits for the private corporations." Our only resource will be the corporate lenders, especially the large extra-national corporations who will have loyalty to no one except their corporate coffers and large share owners throughout the world.

This plan is so obvious at this point that it is hard to believe because it is happening so fast and the Democrats and even conservative non- neo-con Republicans don't realize what Bush and his neo-con buddies are up to.

Of course, this is easier to accomplish with all of our attention being focused on 9/11 matters, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the WMDs, threats to our nation, threats to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (where we lose troops everyday to Iraqis and Afghans fighting against our occupation), but we keep sending in more troops to basically protect Bechtel and Halliburton. Soon, we'll also hire private contractor troops, some from other countries and others from selected American security firms. All the time we are occupied with this, just as Orwell predicted in his novel, 1984, the Bush team will be destroying our civil liberties and taking away our social and educational programs in order to fund "security measures" and will keep blinking yellow, orange, and red codes at us.

From 2004:
Bin Laden's Plan
"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah," bin Laden said in the transcript. He said the mujahedeen fighters did the same thing to the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s, "using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers... We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat," bin Laden said.

So, both planned to drive ths US into bankruptcy to achieve their goals. I hope the American citizens who voted to support that are pleased with themselves.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Joe the Plumber" is a @$$%...and I'm glad.

Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber" (if that's not a name that sounds like a 1940's petty crook, or the codename for a wiretapping expert, I don't know what does) is trying to further exploit his exploits as rightwing media darling by "writing" (and I use the term loosely) a book. That's right. "Joe the Plumber" is writing a book. This, of course, follows the news of his boot-scootin' into a country music deal. Yee Haw!

Well, I for one am totally in favor of Mr. Wurzel - I mean, "Joe" *wink wink* being the symbol of Republican party from now on. Who needs that tired old drug-addled gasbag Rush Limbaugh or pompadored doofus Sean Hannity or even child-porn producing hypocrite Bill O'Reilly (aka Bill-O the Clown), when they can have a real-life down-home blue-collar man of the people like "Joe"? A tax-evading, professional-license-avoiding, alias-identifying, truth-stretching, wanna-be hillbilly is so right for the "right" that it's hard to believe he isn't entirely created in a lab beneath the Skull-N-Bones clubhouse.

Republicans' voting public in the blue collar community won't identify with the real Republican base: corporate fat-cats, old-money aristocrats, and wild-eyed fascists anxious to take over the world. They should be happy to be forced to bail out billionaires while enoying the fruits of the Bush/Cheney administration's free-market paradise (you know, the one where "the free market will regulate itself").

Joe's book will, no doubt, be a bestseller. I know if I was in charge of buying material for a political science course, I'd order a bunch of them, to serve as an example of what can happen when you elect neocons into leadership for 8 years (turning America into a giant exclusive gated community surrounded by trailer parks).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Okay, I'll do a Post about Marriage Equality.

Apparently, there have been world-wide protests in support of gay marriage rights, inspired by California's unfortunate passing of the proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.

Strangely, this subject is also hugely important to... homophobic religious heterosexuals. In the words of Craig Furguson: I know! Ordinarily, I would expect "gay marriage" to be a "So what? Live and let live" thing, right? Wrong. Here in California, where the months leading up to the Nov. 8th elections produced more letters-to-the-editor of the local newspaper about gay marriage than just about anything else. I would have expected more letters about things like the war(s), or the economy, but nooo. Gay marriage was the big deal of the day with local voters.

Particularly annoying was how those who wanted to ban gay marriage said that gays were forcing their lifestyle on them. Of course, when rebutted with a request to cite an example, they didn't (or couldn't). Their meaning was obvious: simply knowing that homosexuals exist was how it was being forced on them.

I usually added comments to those letters, especially to the smug religious zealots/closet theocrats who are a real pet peeve of mine. They probably thought I was the local gay advocate or something. The truth is, I am the local advocate of keeping government the hell out of my personal life.

It's weird: most people whose opinion I have heard are not opposed to gays having the same marriage rights as anyone else. Yet, the vote results say otherwise. There is a lot of speculation about why that is, but none of it matters to me. I haven't given my opinion on it much, but here it is (itemized for clarity):

It is a civil rights issue. So-called conservatives are now on record as saying they want the government to dictate whom they may marry. That is a dangerous position to take, I think. See, I believe that consenting adults who are legally able to enter into other civil contracts are legally entitled to enter into a marriage contract. By the way, this is why conservatives' ridiculous claim that marriage equality would lead to legalized beastiality, pedophelia, etc., is wrong: We're talking about a legal issue between consenting adults. They are citizens and (usually) taxpayers. Many are even veterans (take that, righty-tighties!). No animal or has the right to vote; nor are they mentally competant to enter into a contract. Human adults, unless found mentally incompetant to understand the meaning of the action, can do so. Incidentally, I couldn't care less about plural marriage. If three or more consenting adults want to form a committed lifelong relationship; an extended family wherein they all benefit, that's fine with me. It's not a choice I would make, but it's not my place to prevent their making that choice, either. Again, I am not talking about something like fundamentalist Mormon arranged plural marriages to child brides. They're a bunch of sick bastards. Consenting Adults, that's the key phrase here.

It is a great vehicle to demonstrate conservative hypocrisy. They claim that one of their most cherished values is freedom from government intervention in their lives. Yet, they always insist that government's role is to dictate the behavior of peoples' most intimate relationships, like marriage. The truth is, conservatives do want government intervention in peoples' lives. They just don't want to pay taxes, obey labor laws or environmental regulations, etc. They claim to be God's chosen, but the god they worship is the almighty dollar.

Last, here is the main distinction between me and the ban-gay-marriage crowd: I draw a distinct difference between religious marriage and legal marriage. I beleive they are two completely separate things. Churches can impose whatever rules upon their members they want, but those rules are only valid for those church members. Legal marriage, on the other hand, is for all citizens, whatever their religion or lack thereof; it is required to accomodate everyone to whom all other laws apply.

For a group of religious zealots to deny civil rights to other citizens, based on religious values, is completely anti-American and just plain wrong.

Maybe someday those who would deny others' civil rights will find themselves on the other side of an issue of equal importance to them, where they are denied their civil rights because they don't conform to the majority mold. Maybe then they'll understand what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote:
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
He also is attributed with this one:
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
In other words, Majority rule does not give the majority the right to oppress the minority. So, the protesters are correct in fighting for their civil rights. Hopefully, for all our sakes, equal rights will prevail.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To the Anonymous Commenter:

Domain Name:
IP Address: 65.218.135.# (AIMCO)
ISP: Verizon Business
State: South Carolina
City: Greenville

Enjoy your anonymity.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I am going to...

...start dressing up the blog's visuals soon, since we are finally entering he 21st century. I thought we'd never get here! Anyway, suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. ...We must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost." - Thomas Jefferson

More blogging, of course, to follow. Thrilled is an understatement. I hope to touch base with the blogger buddies I've met over the last four years of political blogging. We made it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Constantly Amazing Random Eavesdropping Today

So it went like this:

My wife and I were having lunch at a restaurant this afternoon. It's a place with a New Orlean's theme, more pricey than our usual choices, but we felt like indulging ourselves. Seated nearby were two "elderly" ladies - not that elderly, but one in maybe her 60's and the other one older.

We heard them talking about the election and immediately turned our ears their way.

They started out sounding like a pair of rightwing conservatives, or at least rightwing voters. One of them talked about getting her news from FOX and O'Reilly. Stuff like that. But, as we listened, they began to discuss Obama... and they both began to explain why they were choosing to reject their party to vote for Obama. They both said they voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004. And, they both said they thought the country has been "getting worse and worse" for the past several years. They even discussed their belief in anti-Obama propaganda, such as Obama "not saluting the flag because he refuses to stand for America," and similar Fox "news". But in spite of all the garbage they had consumed via rightwing news outlets, they still said it was better to give an unknown, potentially dangerous upstart a chance than to continue down the disastrous path of the republicans.

We were thrilled and surprised. A pair of longtime republican voters, overheard through a totally random coindidence, explaining over lunch why they were rejecting the repukes and their doomed policies, changing from republican voters to democratic ones. That's change I can believe in.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hoping that my vote matters this time

Like many of you, I voted early (I dropped my ballot off five days early). However, as many of you are aware, the Republican party is engaged in several insideous schemes to destroy our votes, like voter caging, vote flipping, disenrollment, long lines at polling places, even telling college students they can't vote because they no longer live at home, and telling people whose homes were forclosed that they can't vote because their address has changed. Republican operatives even tried telling democrats they should vote on the wrong day. And of course there's the Bush administration's typically backwards-named-to-conceal-it's-true-purpose "Help America Vote Act" which rules that your vital info has to match a notoriously flawed national database. No match means no vote for you.

Republicans have admitted that the fewer voters there are, the more successful the republican candidates are. With that as their strategic foundation, they have proceeded to turn the last two presidential elections into circuses of election fraud. And, as you've heard me say before, the biggest thing that stands between progressives and success is republican election- and voter-fraud.

I just hope it works the way it is supposed to this time. There is a difference: there is media attention focused on the activity, whereas before we were ridiculed as tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy theorists. But we're talking about thousands and thousands of voters whose eligibility has been challenged. Hopefully the ones that do get counted will accurately reflect the real vote. If it doesn't, again, then there will be hell to pay.