Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
September 12, 2008
Why I support who I support
Category: Serious

One of the things I've found sort of baffling about politics (and that I find baffling about topics of so-called importance in general) is how reluctant people are to explain or elaborate upon their views on the subject(s). They'll readily offer up the name of the candidate or party they support, but they take offense if people ask why -- as if to say, "I don't have to justify myself to you." And while that response might have more to do with these people's exceedingly low opinions of me than anything else, I don't see what's so objectionable about explaining one's views to anyone. If one does regard political views as being so personal that they shouldn't be discussed openly, a simple statement to that effect would be more appropriate than psuedo-righteous indignation.

Anyway, I bring this up to preface another series of ideas cut and pasted from a comment that I posted on someone's blog. The person wrote that she liked and admired Sarah Palin and agreed with her views, which I questioned thusly: "...what exactly is it that you like and admire about Sarah Palin? Which of her beliefs, specifically, do you agree with? I'm genuinely curious." Maybe she took offense to the tone there, as one could argue that my tone implied that there was little to like about Palin or her policies -- and I'll admit that I do feel that way, since, among other things, the bulk of her record as she presents it is riddled with distortions and half-truths -- but she went on to write:

And tell me, when have I asked you how you can support Barak [sic]? This is what really pisses me off. I am truly trying to recall if I have questioned any of you as to your own support of your own candidate of choice. So tell me why Barak.

Of course, I have no problem answering that question and take no offense at anyone asking it, so I was all too happy to respond. The stupid LJ thing wouldn't let me post a comment longer than 4300 characters, though, so I really only got to discuss why I'd probably end up voting for any generic Democratic nominee -- and I even had to truncate that. But since I did want to post something like that here anyway (though I've probably discussed several of these issues before on the blog), I figured I'd crib from the original comment for another political post. Hurray! (more...)

-posted by Wes | 5:21 am | Comments (12)
September 9, 2008
Problems with Patriotism
Category: Serious

I'm hardly the biggest admirer of patriotism -- I mostly think it's a nebulous concept used to elicit support from people who'd never bother to question its meaning. Think about it: what does "love of country" really mean? It can't mean love of earth or soil; that's stupid. It's not clear that it refers to love of one's fellow citizens, either, since many of the people who consistently list patriotism among their virtues are among the most hateful and intolerant individuals you'll ever meet. And while one could argue that it refers to the founding principles and values of one's country, these values aren't exclusive to specific nations. America may be hailed as "the land of the free and the home of the brave," but it's not as if people in the United Kingdom live in shackles and regularly extol the merits of cowardice.

Furthermore, I tend to think that a truly good or positive quality is one that can't easily be juxtaposed with obviously negative traits or descriptors without introducing some contradiction. For example, if we assume that committing acts of terror is necessarily dishonorable, an individual cannot be both honorable and a terrorist. But I'm not at all convinced that a terrorist cannot be patriotic, as one can easily imagine an individual committing terrorist acts out of love for his or her country (whatever that means). Nazis were patriots, too.

That said, even I find the scam e-mail that just arrived in my inbox -- and how it seeks to exploit patriots as well as those sympathetic to our military personnel (though one admittedly does not have to be "patriotic" to fall into the later category) -- to be utterly abhorrent.

Dear Friend,

Hello there, my name is Jason Morales and i am an U.S. army soldier here in Iraq. I am sorry if this email came to you by surprise, im simply asking for your help. I got your contacts through my personal research from the directory of Wells Fargo bank account holders, and out of desperation. I decided to reach you through this messege, apparently I am having problems with my ATM card and as I can not cash out money with ATM machine here in Iraq, I would really appreciate if you could help me receive some funds from my wells account to your account and send to me or my wife in the U.S. via Western Union, i could not get raw cash from my account as it will take a longer process to do that here.

Please I want you to know that there is no problem, I will be very glad to pay you for helping me to do this with the sum of $200 per each $1,000 transfer to your account. Me and my privates friends here at the base would really appreciate it since situations are really hard for us here in Iraq to cash out any U.S. dollars...
I look forward of hearing back from you as soon as you read this email...
Thanks you and have a nice day!!!

Private Jason Morales,
U.S. Army

jason.morales01@gmail.com

Terrible.

-posted by Wes | 4:51 pm | Comments (5)
September 4, 2008
Off goes the television.
Category: Serious

The hypocrisy is stunning: McCain releases ads criticizing Obama for his so-called celebrity status, and then has the audacity to stage a rock concert opening? Honestly.

And speaking of staged, how about that ridiculous plant? Dead giveaway: the fact that they clearly allowed the woman to advance towards the stage and left her alone long enough for her to remove her coat -- which would arguably have been a major security risk -- just so that the cameras could get a clear look at her pink tie-dyed shirt with pro-something (did it say pro-gay?) spraypainted on the back. Also, John McCain is nowhere near witty or clever enough to quickly respond to an audience distraction with an off-the-cuff comment, not to mention that he did that creepy smile and look around thing that he does when he comes to a "wait for applause" direction on the teleprompter. Nothing about McCain's reaction suggests that that bit was spontaneous. And now the television is off.

Yeah, he wasn't winning my vote anyway, but I would at least have listened to his speech had he dispensed with the scripted spectacle bullshit. I sincerely hope the American public isn't stupid enough to fall for this crap.

UPDATE: Okay, it looks a little less staged in this clip from FOX News. In the MSNBC coverage, the camera was focused on the woman, so you could actually see her advancing and removing her coat -- and then it cut right back to McCain and it seemed like he quipped on the fly. Here, with the camera focused on him, it definitely looks like he had a moment or two to rack his brain for something to say. Given that the security actually let the woman remove her coat, though, I'm not convinced that the interruption wasn't scripted (and the creepy "wait for applause" grin still doesn't help). Hrm.

-posted by Wes | 10:40 pm | Comments (5)
Even More Veep Stuff
Category: Serious

This started off as a response to a post on Becky's blog -- in which she asked, "Are you voting for (or leaning toward) Obama because youd like to see an African American be president or McCain because youd like to see a woman as VP?" -- and then, since other parts of that entry focused on McCain's VP pick, I sort of went off talking about Sarah Palin (ugh).

Anyway, I think an Obama victory could have very beneficial results for the social progress/evolution of the nation, but I've got to say that if he were running on the Republican platform I'd vote against him based on the issues. Similarly, if Hillary had won the Democratic primary and McCain had selected, say, Michael Steele of MD for his running mate, I'd still have voted Democratic in the end -- just as I voted against Steele when he ran for the Senate in 2006.

I agree with the (more/less) general consensus that Palin probably isn't the best pick to woo independents. She comes across as highly partisan, and her record significantly undercuts McCain's message and her current presentation of herself in a number of ways. With respect to her claims that she took on corruption, it seems like she only went against it in order to bolster her "reformer" creds and spearheaded it when it was beneficial for her to do so. And forget the "Country First" crap -- she's even got ties to the Alaskan Independence Party, which has the motto "Alaska First, Alaska Always" and advocates a vote on whether the state should secede. Whether she and her husband are official members is a moot point, since she filmed a video message for the convention this year. I honestly don't think she was vetted thoroughly, which speaks volumes about McCain's judgment. I mean really, he met her once before and is ready to place her next in line to lead the country?? Or maybe it shows that he's not in control of his message or party at all, since the RNC (Lieberman speech aside) has been anything but the convention that a maverick reformer would run.

As far as Palin's speech went, she came across to me like a typical, mean, partisan Republican. And considering all the whining about the "sexist" criticisms of her family and experience, I find it incredulous that she spent the first part of the speech introducing her family at length (I saw that during her initial rollout and didn't give a crap then either) before proceeding to lie hardcore about her record and then hurl really nasty insults at Obama. The "glass house" metaphor comes to mind, except, inside hers, Palin built a giant boulder-launching catapult with R-BUSH stamped on it. I hope she ends up shattering her own roof and sending the whole transparent structure crashing down and politically impalin' Palin. (Ha!) Seriously, she sounds really, really nasty.

I'm not sure how truly undecided voters will react to Palin and the RNC coverage, but I've seen absolutely no evidence that this is the party that's going to be reaching across the aisle and bringing about change. Now contrast that pitbull raving (which is pretty ironic, given Bush's mention of "the angry left") with Obama talking about the convention speeches today. McCain's got a chance to rectify that tonight, but for the time being Obama is spot on.

UPDATE: Elsewhere, I posted a comment in which I noted that Palin's performance last night "brought a certain five-letter word to mind" -- a comment which, of course, was met with a veiled charge of sexism. It's an understandable response. But in my defense, Palin pretty much described herself as being a pitbull with lipstick. What is the textbook definition of that five-letter word to which I alluded? "A female dog." It's also a slang term that suggests a pretty specific image, which she nailed -- and I think intentionally so. She pretty much said, "I'm a bitch!" and then proceeded to be bitchy. So if that's what she wanted me to take away from the speech, mission accomplished.

It's also worth noting that some pretty unflattering four-plus-letter words came to mind when I watched Giuliani and Thompson speak. Not the five-letter word, since admittedly that term is tied to gender -- so if anyone wants to employ a fairly unforgiving definition of the word to call me sexist, that's totally fine and I'll accept it. Of course, one would also have to call McCain and his campaign sexist (and arguably more sexist) on those grounds, since it's pretty clear that his decision to pick a woman was a manipulative attempt to use sex/gender to sway voters.

-posted by Wes | 5:15 pm | Comments (3)
August 29, 2008
More Veep Stuff
Category: Dreams … Serious

First, to answer Becky's comment on the last post, my dream never did give me a definite confirmation on who Obama's actual VP pick was -- there were just lots of names out there due to the psychic paper. My own note indicated Kathleen Sebelius, since I was kind of hoping he'd pick her (I really like her record, and picking her would have served as a preemptive measure against McCain picking a female running mate to lure disaffected Hillary supporters)... but she was so damned dull at the convention that I'm glad Obama didn't go with her. In waking life, I actually expected him to bite the bullet and pick Clinton -- even with the change argument, he could easily have justified the pick by saying that this election is also about the people. And you can't deny that whole heck of a lot of them wanted Hillary!

Regarding McCain's actual pick -- after Obama didn't pick Hillary, and given McCain's ads about his choice, and especially given how hard the Dems hit McCain on his less-than-female-friendly record this week, I kinda figured he'd pick a woman for his running mate. I doubted it would be Sarah Palin, what with her being under investigation for corruption and all, but eh. Anyway, I pretty much agree with the general consensus -- choosing Palin is a gamble with fairly unpredictable results. It clearly seems like McCain is pandering to female voters by selecting a woman as his VP (especially since there are a number of more qualified Republican women), but given my low opinion of the public I'm not sure whether disgruntled Clinton voters will be energized or offended.

I also think this shifts quite a bit more responsibility to Biden and Clinton. If the latter comes right out and picks the woman apart when campaigning for Obama, then it's less likely that her supporters will fall for the trick. If Biden destroys Palin in the debate (without coming across as a woman-hating bully), McCain will really be in trouble. If she even remotely comes close to holding her own, though, that could lend her quite a bit of credibility.

If I had a higher opinion of the voting public, I'd think McCain just threw the election -- but since I don't, this pick leaves me a little worried.

-posted by Wes | 6:46 pm | Comments (3)
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