Tuesday, October 28

The Election of Schadenfreude

Does it make me a bad person to gleefully watch the Republican party viciously disembowel itself in a colossal act of self-mutilation?

Between the abysmally-bad drama playing out between Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin, Sen. "Tubez" Stevens's new "all Prison Blues" wardrobe, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann's "American vs. Anti-American" diatribes from Planet Bizarro, I just can't help but relish the Republican party's agony. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of rats. I can't even summon up any empathy for them. After all, they are human beings. Aren't they?

I hereby dub the 2008 election "The Election of Schadenfreude".

An interesting scenario

In light of Sen. Stevens' conviction, a scenario comes to mind:


  1. Sen, Stevens wins re-election - not as unlikely as one might think. Remember that Alaskans love their pork and the Senator has been bringing home the bacon for 40 years.

  2. The Senate gets together and summarily boots his felonious keester out of the Capitol.

  3. Alaska holds a special election to dill the empty Senate seat. #1 likely candidate? A certain popular power-hungry Alaska governor.

  4. Sarah Palin joins her (no-longer?) best pal John McCain in a Democratically-dominated Senate.



Yeah, yeah. I know there are a lot of "if"s in that, but I don't think it's all that unlikely.

Wednesday, October 15

Uncertified teachers?

Apparently Sen. McCain thinks it's all right to have people teaching in our classrooms without certification:
We need to encourage programs such as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which -- or have the certification that some are required in some states.
Say what?!

Our students deserve better. What is so bad about certifying our teachers before sending them into the classroom?

Tuesday, October 14

Delusional


Via fivethirtyeight.com

What a pathetic, hateful, delusional man.

I can't decide whether to pity him for living in his hateful little dream-world or despise him for inflicting it upon the rest of us.

Thursday, October 2

VP Debate

I'm torn between relief that Gov. Palin didn't embarrass herself in front of the largest audience in her life and disappointment at not getting to see the Republican ticket completely implode spectacularly in prime time.

I am pleased for her as a human being that she did not repeat her humiliating performance from last week on CBS. As much as I despise her politics, it's nice to see the first female candidate in the nationwide general election in 20 years to not come out looking utterly empty-headed on her biggest stage yet. She looked poised and spoke clearly, if a bit too heavy on the folksy colloquialisms.

However, while she spoke clearly she did not speak intelligently. I am thoroughly disgusted at how many times she tried to shoehorn an unrelated talking point script in instead of answering the actual question. "I disagree with that ... and I'd like to talk about energy" is not an answer, it's evasion. She pulled it out far too many times. Not once did I hear her answer with anything but a carefully pre-scripted talking point. That's not a debate, that's one of those pre-recoded robocalls.

In contrast, while Sen. Biden didn't deliver a knockout punch to her ridiculous campaign, he did a very smart thing - he didn't even bother to go after her and risk looking condescending or sexist. Instead he aimed all his attacks at Sen. McCain knowing, probably, that voters don't vote for the VP candidate, they vote for the head of the ticket. He consistently - save one apparently accidental slip where he used her first name - referred to her using her title. I think that was extremely wise. At the same time, he did reasonably well avoiding sticking his foot in his mouth while looking distinguished and charismatic.

While my poor id was deprived of the snarky schadenfreude it so wanted, I think Palin's better-than-expected - if somewhat robotic - performance and Biden's solid - if uninspired - performance balanced each other out. I think the Senator might have had a slight edge over the Governor - especially when he started talking about being a parent - I don't think this debate is going to have much of an effect at all.

Now watch tomorrow's polls prove me wrong! ;-)

Thursday, September 25

Katie Couric interview

If you haven't seen the interview, well, you might want to save the time. It was so painfully awkward that I couldn't even finish watching it. I did, however, manage to pay attention long enough to hear this:
Couric: You’ve said, quote, “John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.” Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that’s paramount. That’s more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he’s been in Congress for 26 years. He’s been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He’s also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he’s been talking about - the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you’ve said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I’m just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I’ll try to find you some and I’ll bring them to you.

The transcript doesn't show the Governor's awkward pauses nor does it portray either person's tone of voice, but you get the gist of the interview. I've never been a fan of Katie Couric, but I'm pleased she didn't let Gov. Palin get away with her non-answers. I'm appalled at how badly Gov. Palin handled it.

What planet are these people on? Sen. McCain pulling some wild stunt with tomorrow's debate (I'm kind of hoping Sen. Obama ends up on national TV alone with Jim Lehrer, wouldn't that be bizarre?) and dashing back to Washington to try and blow up whatever agreement Sen. Dodd and Rep. Frank had worked out with their minority counterparts on their committees. Gov. Palin looking like some sort of political robot being asked questions outside its parameters (why the hell didn't her campaign staff prepare her for such an obvious question?) It's all rather surreal. Is this the proverbial "October Surprise" a week early? Or are even greater levels of insanity yet to come?

Wait .. don't answer that. Silly question. Of course there are greater levels of insanity on the way. The question should be, how far from reality can this campaign possibly go?

Friday, September 19

Open mouth, insert foot

CNN: Palin's transparency proposal already exists in D.C.
There’s just one problem with proposing to put the federal checkbook online – somebody’s already done it. His name is Barack Obama.
Oops.

Schadenfreude aside, this does bother me on a couple of levels:
  1. "Checkbook"? Trivializing something as astoundingly-complex as federal spending by calling it a "checkbook" worries me. The executive Office of Budget and Management alone has 500 employees, the Congresional Government Accountability Office has 3,100 staff, never mind the countless smaller offices and commissions tasked with tracking federal spending. Trivializing something so massively complex that it requires thousands of people to track as a "checkbook" strikes me as astoundingly naive at best, and more likely disingenuous attempt to claim "transparency" as her own.
  2. How could the campaign not have known what Gov. Palin was talking about had already passed into law? Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain were co-sponsors of the bill! Again, I have to wonder if this is just shocking ignorance, or failed attempt at seizing someone else's idea for her own?

Wednesday, September 17

Zealotry

This story is a prime example of why I have such a hard time trusting most Christian churches. I know there are millions of churches in the world that are flawlessly ethical and beneficial - I've been to services at a few - but the minuscule minority whose brainwashing and zealotry are cranking out so-called "Christian soldiers" as bad as any so-called "jihadist" scare the living crap out of me.

The fundamental business of the country ...

The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.

A McCain campaign speech? No, it was said almost exactly 69 years ago by President Herbert Hoover on October 25, 1929

George Santayana's wisdom shows its power once more - Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Tuesday, September 16

Bridge to Nowhere^H^H^H^H^H Wasilla

Palin supports $600 million 'other' bridge project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin may eventually have said "no thanks" to a federally funded Bridge to Nowhere.

But a bridge to her hometown of Wasilla, that's a different story.

A $600 million bridge and highway project to link Alaska's largest city to Palin's town of 7,000 residents is moving full speed ahead, despite concerns the bridge could worsen some commuting and threaten a population of beluga whales.

Just what is the FDA's recommended daily allowance of hypocrisy?

If this is strong ....

So, Sen. McCain, do you read the New York Times? What about the Wall Street Journal? Or watch or listen to just about any broadcast news source? Apparently not, since just this morning you were on the stump claiming the "foundations of the economy are strong".

Really?

Then you were claiming we need to end the "greed" of the financial markets. Umm, Senator? Just what do you think the incentive is in capitalism? I'll give you two guesses. And the first one doesn't count.

I won't even try to properly address the hypocrisy of a nominee from the party whose policies have proven time and time again sided with corporate interests and maximizing profit over healthy and sustainable business practices.

Sen. Obama, thank you for introducing a new term to this debate: "trickle-up". Instead of profits trickling down from the boardrooms to the rest of us, the economic disaster down here is trickling up and hurting the corporate giants.

Monday, September 15

Psychology of the Republican right

This is from a fascinating post attributed to Deepak Chopra:
[Gov. Palin] is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of “the other.” For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don’t want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind.
He goes on to outline the psychology of the Republican platform in a way I'd never considered before:
–Small town values — a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
–Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
–Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be heeded.
–Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
–Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
–”Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.
I hadn't thought of it quite in these terms before, but his words do ring very strongly true. Is this my admittedly-liberal own bias tinging it with what I want to hear? Or is Dr. Chopra's thesis accurate?

Thanks to Aunt L in Reno for the link!

Drill, baby, drill!

Thomas Friedman's op-ed in the NYT makes so much sense:
[...] it reminds me of someone who, on the eve of the I.T. revolution — on the eve of PCs and the Internet — is pounding the table for America to make more I.B.M. typewriters and carbon paper. “Typewriters, baby, typewriters.”
Is anyone out there in what the media call "Middle America" reading any of this stuff? It makes so much sense, but all we're hearing is noise about Gov. Palin (which convinces me even more she's nothing but an intentional distraction, but that's for another blog post). It's even short and catchy enough to be a sound bite, but it's in an "old" medium - print - that is apparently being read by fewer and fewer people each year. Consequently, it is not going to get the attention it deserves.

How do we change that? How do we educate those ignorant voters who vote based on what "the teevee told us to" so they can make an informed decision instead of an emotional one? Or is this a goal of Quixotic proportions?

Sunday, September 14

New York Times

It's too bad all the really critical journalism is relegated to the print media and, sadly, "The Daily Show". If you haven't read this yet, read it now:

NYT: Once Elected, Palin Hired Friends and Lashed Foes

Vendettas, hiding e-mail conversations in private accounts, cronyism, demanding resignations as a test of loyalty ... hmm, sounds an awful lot like someone else we know.

Saturday, September 13

Gloria Steinem op-ed

I know, I know ... the people who are willing to listen to someone like Gloria Steinem are not the voters we need to worry about. But her op-ed - "Palin: wrong woman, wrong message" - is rather interesting.
Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

I find her words hopeful, but worry that it's just the desperation of a drowning man clinging to a forlorn hope.

Thursday, September 4

How low can they go?

I don't think I can say anything that hasn't already beaten to death on Twitter and in the rest of the blogosphere, but I'd like to highlight something:

Until tonight, no candidate has used graphic images from 9/11 for partisan benefit.

Yes, the fearmongers - especially Giuliani - love to trot out 9/11 as often as they take a breath. But not until tonight was anyone so crass as to use such a vivid portrayal of the awful events of that morning.

That's a new low for American politics - co-opting mass murder to get elected.

BlahBlahBlah ... are you getting enough ketchup?

I tried to listen to Gov. Palin's speech. I really did. But when she started trotting out all the tired old right wing rhetoric, all I could hear was:
Blah blah blah death tax blah blah big government blah blah I think you're not getting enough ketchup, Jim blah blah forfeit blah blah ya know, ketchup has natural mellowing agents blah blah.
Her sing-song, nasal delivery reminds me so much of Sue Scott's performances in the Prairie Home Companion "Ketchup Advisory Board" skits that I had a hard time actually hearing what she said. On the other hand, looking at the transcript of her speech the Republicans posted I can see there's nothing in her speech we haven't heard time and time again from all those right wing "Washington insiders" she derides.

Tuesday, September 2

Meet Sumi!

SumiSumi has decided we are worthy of gracing our household with her presence. She's about 2 years old, loves chasing toy mice and batting at fingers, and has already claimed the foot of our bed as her territory. Her name means "disappear" in Portuguese. She earned that name from her former people because she's so good at hiding (as we've already discovered).

Saturday, August 30

Umm, like, what's my job again?

In an interview last month on MSNBC, Gov. Palin said:
As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?
What? We covered that in, what, the fourth grade? I guess I should have expected ignorance from her given her politics. But damn, that's a new low.

This is the person the Republicans want a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

Friday, August 29

What are they thinking?

Sen. McCain's choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is baffling. Is he really so clueless as to think that Gov. Palin can just step in and take over for Sen. Clinton in the eyes of the voters who supported her during the primary election?

I find it highly condescending that the Republicans thing she can presumptuously claim the votes of Clinton's followers just because she doesn't have a Y chromosome. Palin's politics and philosophy are 180 degrees opposed to Clinton's. She's a right-wing fundamentalist with a pretty face - a perfect "trophy wife" to stand next to McCain and parrot whatever her wingnut handlers give her. It's an insult to the intelligence of Clinton supporters like me to think they're interchangeable.

I'd like to think the voters are smart enough to see the difference, but I've also been told "We're supposed to vote against X, aren't we? The TV told us so." So who is going to turn out in November? The voters who are intelligent enough to look beyond the superficial or the voters who do what the TV tells them to do?

Wednesday, July 9

Why should I vote for Obama?

I'm pissed. Senator Obama's vote today in favor of the FISA bill has completely erased whatever goodwill I might have had for him.

OK, all you Obama fans out there, here's your chance. Tell me why I should vote for the man who just voted in favor of further eviscerating the 4th Amendment and my civil rights.

Don't bring the boogeymen of the Republicans and McCain into it. I'm not looking for reasons to vote against him or his party. I already have plenty of them. I'm looking for reasons to vote for a candidate.

Friday, June 27

Wrong wrong wrong!

I was disappointed when I heard about the Supreme Court's decision yesterday overturning Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. Not surprised - after all the Court is home to Antonin Scalia - just disappointed. On the other hand, I was surprised to hear they chose to rule against capital punishment for rapists. While I am all for coming down extremely hard on perpetrators of sex crimes, I do not think killing people for their crimes is appropriate punishment. I wouldn't have believed the Roberts Court would have delivered a decision limiting the use of capital punishment.

In all, a mixed day in the news yesterday. This morning, however, I was outraged to hear the latest statement from Barak Obama regarding these two decisions.

Those of you who know me probably know that I'm pretty far left on the political spectrum. I have never voted for a Republican in my life. Unless the Republicans go through a complete reversal of direction, I have no intention of doing so in the future. I feel it is a completely morally bankrupt party that is leading our nation toward a totalitarian police state. Which is why I found Obama's statements today so disturbing.

Senator Obama's statement that he agreed with the Court's decision to overturn the handgun ban was disturbing enough. I could forgive him for it even if I disagree. But when he proceeded to say that he opposed the Court's decision regarding capital punishment, I was shocked and appalled. Did I just hear Obama agree with Scalia? Did he just place himself to the right of the most conservative Court in decades?

To top if off, he expresses support for FISA. Oh, don't worry Senator, I wasn't using those civil rights anyway. After all, I'm a loyal law-abiding citizen who has nothing to hide. So please feel free to tap my phone and read my mail.

No no no! Just when I thought we were going to finally reverse 8 years of the race to the Right, the Left's candidate goes and does this?

Sunday, June 8

America's Democratic Collapse

Wow. This is an amazing speech made by author Chris Hedges last month: America's Democratic Collapse

Most of what he has to say I've seen elsewhere, but Mr. Hedges does a great job of piecing it all together in a cohesive whole that is both powerful and frightening. Considered separately, things like no-bid contracts, warrantless wiretaps, and the shift in measurement of inflation and unemployment. When put into context as a cohesive whole, however, a horrifying picture of growing totalitarianism starts to emerge.

Intuitively - I'm the intuitive thinker in the household, A is the logical one - I've felt that A and I are standing astride a widening chasm between "have" and "have not" for quite some time. We have been very very fortunate to keep a strong enough toehold on the "have" side when so many of our friends in the past few years lose theirs and have started to fall in. Mr. Hedges' speech confirms to me that widening chasm really does exist, and that it is likely a result of intentional action by an extremely small and powerful group of people.

There is this little voice in the back of my brain chiding me, however. Is the fact that Mr. Hedges' words match what I'm already thinking what makes it seem so "right"? Is he telling me, in a way, what I want to hear? Or is the fact that his points resonate so strongly because they are true? I'd like to think I'm intelligent enough to know the difference and that it is the latter. But even if it is the former, would it change anything we need to do to fix what's wrong? Probably not. We still need to repeal the so-called Patriot Act. We still need to stop fighting an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. We still need to reverse the flow of power away from the average working citizen toward the corporate elite.

Ugh. That's a daunting list. It's going to take more than turning out to vote to, in the oft-quoted words of Gandhi, be the change you want to see in the world. Where to begin?

Tuesday, April 29

Oh, shit

Just found out (through a bizarre non-family roundabout path involving a random LinkedIn e-mail) that my sociopath brother is moving to the Albany/Corvallis area this summer.

When I heard a while back that he was working for the Feds as a mine safety inspector in Colorado, the first thing that came to mind astonishment that the guy who was "off the grid" growing pot and living on a platform in some tree for much of the '90s is working for "The Man". The second thing that came to mind was the - apparently more salient - relief that there weren't any mines in Oregon. There was little chance I'd have to deal with him at all beyond the rare family gathering where we could remain on opposite sides of the room and pretend the other didn't exist. Apparently I was mistaken. He's headed for some gravel mine in the Willamette Valley.

Pardon me while I get this out of my system - Why the FUCK does he have to choose here of all places! There are 49 other goddamn states that probably have mines somewhere for him to work in but he has to end up in my own fucking back yard!

Maybe he's miraculously sprouted a conscience in the past 15 years. Maybe he's learned that people are not merely tools to be used and discarded when no longer useful. Maybe he's finally discovered he really does have empathy for others. Perhaps he is no longer the amoral, manipulative, abusive monster he was in his teens and twenties.

Then why do I have this sinking feeling we're going to be investigating restraining orders at some point?

Wednesday, February 6

Amusing



Just enough truth to be funny.

Thursday, January 31

In Fair Glendale, the Bard's Super Bowl Play



Oh my, was this an amusing way to wake up in the morning:

In Fair Glendale, the Bard's Super Bowl Play

Listen to the audio. The transcribed version doesn't do Sylvia Poggioli's performance justice.

TRP, for some reason this made me think of you. My apologies. ;-)

Monday, January 14

Two thoughts

This past weekend prompted two thoughts:

  1. Flying in at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday, attending multiple family events (including a wake with 100+ people), and flying out late Sunday night produces a Monday morning feeling remarkably similar to an all-weekend party binge. One gets to pay the price without having the fun that would have gone with it.

  2. California still sucks. If anything it sucks more now than it did 20 years ago.

Thursday, January 10

Fair warning

Should anyone I know decide this is a good idea, prepare to be shunned after being mocked mercilessly:


Click through on the image and you can see the whole book. It's fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way.

Yes, it really is a real product from Microsoft. And yes, I might just have go all Gordon Freeman on it with a crowbar should I lay eyes upon it in your home.

Wednesday, January 9

As if there's any doubt ...



... why the US is hated by so much of the world.

(EDIT: apologies to any of you that saw an offensive pornographic image instead of the one above. Apparently the source of the image was replaced after I posted it here. Thanks to TRP for letting me know about it.)