All Hail, King of America!

5 11 2008

Well, that was fun.

I hope everyone enjoyed the festivities last night, because now it’s time to focus on still-President Bush’s last days in office – his parting gifts, if you will.

From closing Guantanamo Bay to providing birth control pills, from protecting the endangered Gray Wolf to keeping coal plants away from national parks, Bush (read: Cheney) is going to do everything in his still-expanding power to make his last days count. Think of it this way: he has nothing to lose. Reputation? Legacy? Re-Election? After all, he is the tyrant our mothers warned us about, and he’s not burdened with face-saving displays of centerism that are required when running for re-election. He, and his administration, are the hard core, git ‘er done, christian fundamentalist conservatives – and they have plans. Plans that can be executed right up until the last minute as far as they’re concerned. It doesn’t matter if they are popular – there are no more contests left to win. Bush can no longer hurt McCain by being divisive, extreme, and deaf to half the country. He, and his administration, are in the final days of an presidency marked with exclusion, extremism, lawlessness, opacity, fear-mongering, and pridefulness, and they plan on going out with a bang.

There is no tomorrow for the Bush Administration. In fact, arguably they view the incoming Obama presidency as the apocolypse – a slap in the face to their sacrosanct healing of American Liberalism that was infected into our government and society by the Clinton administration, among others.

While the Republican machine has suffered losses, it is by no means deterred. In fact, the few who remain, and who are by definition not up for re-election any time soon, are probably all the more convinced that they are the saviors who will bring the heavenly Bush administration in for a landing.

Let’s not and say we did.

A stitch in time is within our grasp. We can avoid having to undo damage later if we can prevent it from happening now. This is the time to take a deep breath and sprint to the finish line. This is the time to speak your mind, even if your voice shakes. This is the time to speak truth to power. There are people making monumental decisions about our civil liberties, abortion rights, and the environment, and these people have publicly available e-mail addresses.

Don’t forget your newspapers, local or otherwise. One letter can be ignored, but one thousand cannot. In New Jersey we have over 550 towns. If one person from every other town wrote a letter to the Star Ledger, New Jersey’s state wide paper, that would be over 200 letters. No newspaper is going to ignore 200 letters about anything, and a few will even be published.

Start now. Start tiny. Write an e-mail to your member of congress. Write an e-mail to both of your senators. Write e-mails to every elected official that in any way represents you, and send paper mail if you must. It can be as simple as “Hello, my name is, and these are the things that are most important to me this year:”. It doesn’t have to be the great American novel – 50 words or less will do. Go to blogs and furiously comment on every article that you feel passionate about. Practice arguing with people virtually so that when you encounter a face-to-face confrontation about that subject you are better prepared. None of this will help end something like discrimination tomorrow, but it can help end discrimination sooner than if you did nothing. The small and definate actions will outweigh the lofty and imaginary on any scale.  

Don’t let it be the thing you wish you’d done.


Voter Registration Delays in a Republican County

31 10 2008

A story from hometown, New Jersey:

“My boyfriend registered to vote for the first time this year. He and I both live in Morris County, New Jersey. On October 10 he mailed his registration in to Trenton. The deadline for registering was October 14. As of October 29 he had not received any verification of his registration, so he e-mailed the Superintendent of Elections for Morris County, Roseanne Travaglia. On October 30 he received an e-mail response asking him to call her office because she had questions about his registration. When he called, he learned that although he sent his completed registration to the correct address well before the deadline, a clerical error made him ineligible to vote. He was told that Trenton office forwarded his registration to Bergen County instead of Morris County. It arrived in Bergen by the deadline, but by the time Bergen County office forwarded his information to the Morris County office the deadline had passed. He was told that he would have to use a provisional ballot on Election Day in order to vote.

Is this legal? Is this right? He could not have done anything to prevent this from happening except register even earlier than 4 days before the deadline – and that’s what deadlines are for, are they not? This is 100% clerical error – how can he be penalized for something over which he had no control, and in fact is a human mistake made by employees of the State of New Jersey?

Ah, and it’s only Friday. Happy goblin day – the creeps are out in droves.

GOP takes out loan to help Senate candidates

29 10 2008

“Republican-held seats have become increasingly competitive since the GOP national convention in early September, Duncan said. Of the endangered Republican seats, Duncan said the RNC was especially watching contests Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon and North Carolina…Duncan did not volunteer any mention of the race in Alaska, where Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, convicted Monday on seven felony charges, faced an uphill fight to retain his seat.”

Convicted of 7 felony charges, and he’s worried about getting re-elected? I think that constitutes a little more than an “uphill battle”, especially when not even he is allowed to vote for himself anymore.

I would no more vote a former Enron executive for Congress than I would a person convicted felony bribery charges.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Palin’s Look Is Our Hypocrisy, Not Hers

25 10 2008

Thankfully, Judy Muller has picked up on the hypocrisy of the Palin shopping spree story:

“I remember how shocked I was when I learned that the hair and makeup person who worked for one of network television’s top news anchors was paid a yearly salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But there is a reason that particular female anchor looks fabulous, day in and day out. Does it have anything to do with journalism? Of course not. No more than stiletto heels have anything to do with politics. Except that we make it so.”

Absolutely. The scrutiny of Palin’s appearance is excessive and discriminatory. Biden, McCain and Obama are not subjected to the same criticism and the same kind of magnifying glass, which to me makes it clear that the level of opinionated interest is dictated by Palin’s gender, not her policies.

The shame is on those who escalate this conversation to a topic of heavy rotation instead of a passing side story. It should be a topic that remains relatively under the radar instead of making banner headlines.

Bottom line: get real – if you want to dislike the McCain-Palin ticket then pay attention to their policies. If you don’t vote for them then they can’t win. There is absolutely no difference between a vote from someone who really really super duper wants that candidate to win and a vote from someone who is torn about whether or not to vote for that candidate. Don’t mistake moaning and groaning about how ridiculous the candidate is, or his running mate, for the power of a vote.

Talk is cheap – if you really want to make a big deal out of how ridiculous Palin or McCain are, then come up with an argument that will actually convince someone to NOT vote for them. Otherwise you’re just wasting your breath.

Palin Protest Power, part 2

15 09 2008

Part of what I like about this election year is that the issues we face as a country and the candidates we’ve chosen to lead us are generating a lot of enthusiasm. As someone who grew up during a time when grunge was all the rage we could muster for a world resembling a heart shaped box, the outpouring of political support I’ve witnessed this year is not just remarkable, it’s revolutionary. Anyone paying attention over the last eighteen months expected that so much enthusiasm would create a tumultous political environment. What we did not expect was the huge democratic swell of support, not just for the national election but for local events as well. Opportunities to voice our concerns are important because they allow for a constructive, lawful way to speak truth to power. It’s the difference between a rally and a riot. This weekend’s rally in Anchorage, Alaska was the latest installment in a series of concientious individuals hellbent on being heard about how they want their country to be led for the next four years.

“When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep!”

All this isn’t just about Sarah Palin, conservative pitbull. Reports that Palin was involved in attempted book-banning while a councilwoman, prior to being mayor of Wasilla, has created quite a stir in the library community. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to do it’s piss off the librarians. Add to this that book-banning is just about the most grievous offense possible in the mind of a librarian, and McCain has a bit of a problem. He picked a runningmate who has pissed of librarians across the country, but especially in his vice president’s home state. These are people who are skilled in the arts of research, fact finding, organizing, and sharing information. These are people who work for lower wages at local libraries because they are so passionate about maintaining a path for an educated public. These are people who have endured budget cuts and reduced staffing for years under the failed policies of the Bush adminstration. These are people who, as a group, overwhelmingly vote for Democrats – and now you’ve pissed them off.

It doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin didn’t successfully ban the book, My Daddy’s Roommate, from local library shelves. It doesn’t matter how many books she tried to ban. It doesn’t matter whether or not there was an anti-gay theme for the books she tried to ban. It doesn’t doesn’t matter how direct Sarah Palin was about whether or not to ban any books. The future vice president, and likely the future president soon after, should not be anywhere near a book-banning scandal. Especially not someone who was a Journalism major with a Policial Science minor. It’s just not one of those issues that leaves much to the imagination – there’s no “other side” to banning books. Librarians use judgement and discretion when purchasing and cataloging items for their library. You will not find The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex in the Children’s Room or Young Adult section at your local library. However, you may find it in the non-fiction section. It probably is just a few aisles down from The Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Bible.

Palin Power Protest, part 1

15 09 2008

Merrill Lynch Rally grrrls at Anchorage

Rally grrrls at Anchorage

There are so few times in life when a feeling of helplessness transforms into focused power, especially for a national cause. Too often people are left throwing their hands up in the air and shaking their heads in frustration, not sure who to call or contact to voice their concerns.

Voting is an important right, but the drawback is that most choices in politics are not voted into existance by the general public. Writing letters and making phonecalls are constructive but it is debatable whether or not they are productive. Who do we call? Who do we write to? I know I wasn’t one of the people who called up the FCC or CBS to complain about Janet Jackson’s superbowl halftime wardrobe malfunction. Hell, if I knew then what the consequences would be for the ridiculous exercise in anti-woman censorship that followed, and has led to so much radio and TV censorship since, then I would have called up in support of Janet Jackson’s nipple.

But that’s just it – who to call? Most people don’t have the phone number or email address of people who can actually have an effect on our world in that way. Having a voice is almost useless if you’re talking to yourself.

Which is why I was so pleased to read about the ‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ rally this weekend:

Around 1500 people gathered to protest against Sarah Palin. 1500 people showing up to a rally in Alaska is the equivalent of 18,000 people in New Jersey. So, imagine filling the entire PNC Bank Arts Center (including lawn seats) to full capacity in protest of a single politician and you’d have the equivalent of the protest on the lawn of the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend.

I first saw the article on Huffington Post. This is one of my favorite parts, because it’s just too deliciously bitter and Limbaugh-like:

“One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. “Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally ‘a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,’ and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.”

Eddie Burke with brilliant(?) sign

Eddie Burke with brilliant(?) sign

“Socialist, baby-killing maggots.” Wow, that’s great. The thing is, maggots are necrotic – they only feed on things that are dead. So, “baby-killing maggot” is a bit of a contradiction, and an ironic one at that.

As for maggots being socialists: they don’t have division of labor, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems like ants do – in that way they are arguably more capitalistic in nature. “Capitalist, Enron-feeding maggots“, now that would be an insult.

Palin and God’s Will

12 09 2008

“I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gasline built. So pray for that,” Palin said at the time.

What the F**K? Are you serious Govenor Palin? It is God’s will that a specific piece of equipment be built that just so happens to be in line with your gubernatorial agenda? Well that’s convenient. Hey, did God happen to tell you which way the almighty was leaning on Blue-ray vs. HD DVD? I really wanna know which way to pray. Let me know when you get the chance, k? Oh, I wish George Carlin had lived long enough to see this.

Here’s the thing – I like Jesus, but keep God out of our energy policy. Unless the plan is to melt down every gold crucifix in the U.S. and make a giant windmill out of them that will save our country from dependancy on unstable governments and contributing to the global human-environmental crisis, God has no place in the conversation. Ok, with the exception of “God, please let global warming not get any worse until we have time to do more. Thanks.”

I am not the biggest fan of Palin, but I am trying to be level-headed here, just like I tried to be level-headed when I heard George W. Bush talk about God-this and God-that during his campaign.

I tried to be level headed when I heard George W. Bush say, “I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen… I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.” during his campaign.

I tried to be level-headed when I heard George W. Bush say, “I do know I’m ready for the job. And, if not, that’s just the way it goes.” on Aug. 21, 2000.

I tried to be level-headed when he said, “I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive.” on August 4, 2002, on violence in the Middle East… and his golf game. (You know you remember that one.)

Level-headed. Level-headed. To quote The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So, I must be doing this whole “level-headed” thing wrong, because those were not slips of the tongue. They were big flashing red lights warning me, and you, that there was something very wrong and to evacuate immediately. Regardless of whether or not I agree with her policies and views, I want them to be hers, not God’s. We’re not talking about whether or not to create a breed of squirrel that has chipmunk coloring. We’re talking about strategic decsions that impact our economy, our national security, our natural habitat, our energy resources, and the continued existance and prosperity of this country we fight so hard to protect.

It’s God’s will is to get that gasline built? Which way to that emergency exit