Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
September 4, 2008
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 you’d like to see an African American be president or McCain because you’d 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)
July 26, 2008
I’m serving up tomato soup
Category: Serious

Which is to say that I was trying to cut off a figure's head with a hobby knife and it slipped... not good. And why is this knife so sharp, yet so useless? It was barely doing more than scratching the figure, yet it went through my flesh so cleanly that I didn't even feel it at first. And then when I looked at my finger, I thought maybe I'd just scratched it as well... until I touched it and blood just shot out from it in a clean arc. Seriously, it was like in the movies where someone gets slashed by a sword or a laser trap -- first nothing, then PSSHHHHHHHHHHHH! Ridiculous.

I seem to be doing alright typing without using my left pointer finger -- which should make the loss of the digit a little easier to deal with should I end up developing a severe infection or damaging the finger beyond repair in future mishaps -- but I'm still worried. Finger, heal thyself! Please?

-posted by Wes | 5:44 pm | Comments (5)
June 10, 2008
I used to love the circus…
Category: Serious

...but PETA's e-mail notices have given me an entirely different view of them -- or at least the parts involving animals. Now, sometimes PETA's e-mails seem to go a bit too far regarding their various causes. For example, in a recent e-mail entitled "Most zoos are prisons for innocent animals," PETA writes:

There's a reason animals in most zoos look so sad. Few zoos can even begin to meet animals' complex needs. Animals in zoos are denied everything that is natural and important to them, and they're confined to enclosures that are infinitely smaller than the open spaces they would inhabit in their real homes in the wild.

And I'll agree, animals in zoos do have less "freedom" than their roaming wild counterparts, but they also don't have to hunt for their own food, get toys and tire swings and other nifty playthings, are safe from other animals that might prey upon them, have people tending to their medical needs, and so forth. So while I know they lack the ability to consent to any of this, it sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me and I'm not outraged about animals being kept in zoos. But I think I've mentioned it here before -- and I know I talked about it with Mickey during at least one discussion -- I think technology will eventually end up freeing animals anyway. Once virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and/or animatronics get up to speed, I submit that it will eventually be possible for people to have completely realistic zoo experiences without the need for animals. And with that being the case, it'll be much easier to simply do that and not have to pay for trainers and veterinarians and resources to keep the creatures healthy and alive (though there will be a need for software engineers, tech support, etc. to keep the virtual animals running properly).

Anyway, the science fiction projection was a digression -- my point was that, insofar as we assume that zookeepers are taking good care of their charges, most will not find the very idea of animals being kept in captivity to be particularly troubling. Nor will they be especially disturbed by PETA's screeds against the idea of animals performing because the tricks that they perform do not come naturally to them. In one e-mail, PETA decried the trick of having elephants stand on their hind legs -- not because this makes them much more likely to develop arthritis (though I think I did read that somewhere), but because they wouldn't normally do this in the wild. Um, yeah. I'm pretty sure Bacardi wouldn't normally roll around and slap people high fives in the wild either, but I hardly think that we're abusing him by having him do it. If circus animals were being abused, however, that would change everything.

But wait! They are being abused. Viciously. And that is why, despite my former love of the circus, I cannot bring myself to attend a show these days. Is there an all clown revue? Perhaps an animal-free show filled with gymnasts and sword-swallowers and performers like the lovely Lucifire? These are circuses I could visit without feeling (too) dirty.

-posted by Wes | 9:12 pm | Comments (6)
May 26, 2008
On Memorial Day
Category: Linkage … Serious

I have a couple other posts in the works (one about a recurrent obsession and its latest manifestation; another on freaking Hillary Clinton and the potential damage she's doing with her most recent comments on sexism and even more explicit feminist slant), but I thought it was important to link to this Huffington Post article on Memorial Day. April Somdahl's heartbreaking experience -- and that of her late brother -- highlights yet another unfortunate effect of the Iraq War on the lives of service members, military families, and the rest of us as well.

I realize how this sounds coming from me, but I hope that you all have (or had, depending upon when you read this) a blessed and reflective Memorial Day. Wishing you a "happy" or "joyful" one doesn't seem quite appropriate in light of that article and what the day signifies.

-posted by Wes | 10:00 am | Comments (1)
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