shannon_a: (politics)
This afternoon I finished Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, by Al Franken. It's a political book that dissects many of the lies that so many public Republicans tell (from Hannity to Bush). Like the movie Recount it was something I'd been interested in before but didn't feel able to deal with until after the election.

It was an OK book, funny at parts, but not spectacular.

What struck me the most was the longest chapter in the book, which was about the late, marvelously progressive Senator Paul Wellstone. Franken took real offense at the dishonest campaign waged by Wellstone's Republican opponent and the Republican party in general both before and after Wellstone's untimely death (which occurred just weeks before the election).

Of course the scummy Republican who waged that scummy campaign was ... Norm Coleman.

Who I think we can now pretty definitively say that Al Franken beat in one of the closest elections of our time. The rest of the Republicans may well try and sit on Franken's getting seated for a couple of months--but it turns out not to matter until a valid appointment is made in Illinois (short reason: because the filibuster-blocking number is at 59 votes for 98 senators, but 60 for 99 or 100 ... of course Harry Reid needs to find a backbone and make those Republicans actually read the phonebook if they want to try and block the legislation we Americans want rather than just continuing to allow them "painless" procedural filibusters).

In any case, it was nice to read about Franken's ties to and feelings about Wellstone, because it helps to tell the story of why he decided to run in 2008 for the Senate seat that used to belong to his friend (though it was written 5 years before he did so).
shannon_a: (politics)
For several years now, people have loudly (and I think, largely incorrectly) whined and bitched about electronic voting. They've decried the lack of a paper trail (though it would be easy to legislate a doubly-redundant one) and they've got out the tin-foil hats to talk about voting machines changing the results.

At the same time, they continue to ignore a larger problem that electronic voting machines somewhat resolve: the unreliability of paper vote counting.

If there's anything that Florida in 2000 and Minnesota in 2008 should have taught us, it's that there's a margin of error in vote counting, just like there is in polling. It's a small area in which you can't accurately determine the will of the people due to any number of human errors introduced either by voters or poll workers.

The infamous butterfly ballot of Florida 2000 probably cost Gore the election as much as the Supreme Court overstepping their role, and stopping votes from being counted. As a result, I think it's pretty easy to say that the 2000 Presidential election fell into the voting margin of error. Even aside from that, all the counting and recounting and the changing numbers as that occurred should have pretty clearly showed the margin of error.

And I have no doubt that the same is true in Minnesota. They've been counting and challenging votes for almost a month there now, and it's pretty impossible to say who's winning. The Franken camp currently puts their lead at 10 or 20 votes, which appears to involve dismissing some or all of the challenges (some or all of which will doubtless be challenged, since the Coleman camp has challenged, for example, votes for Franken where the voter also voted for McCain, claiming that a McCain vote showed the "intent" to vote for Coleman).

But today appears to be the cherry on Minnesota's crap cake. A Minneapolis precinct has lost 133 votes. And, it was a heavily Democratic precinct, thus those 133 votes translated to 46 net for Franken.

You watch, the final Minnesota numbers will be within 46 votes.
shannon_a: (politics)
There have been fireworks going off in Berkeley for an hour or two. I keep hearing yelling and screaming from nearby apartments too. I can't remember there ever being this much excitement following an election, even in Berkeley. Maybe 1992? I'm not sure; I wasn't living in a very residential area at the time.

I expected to see a black President in my lifetime. I mean, if I have my way, I have a lot of life yet, and segregation started to end almost a decade before I was born. But I surely didn't expect to see it this soon.

I think that Obama's mere election is going to do a lot to heal some racial rifts in this country, that it's going to start to end the healing from slavery, from segregation. It's not an end, but it's a wonderful, wonderful start.

I Voted

Nov. 4th, 2008 10:57 am
shannon_a: (politics)
Every year lately, people have said that it's the most important election of our lifetime. It may well be correct this year, given how far we have fallen under the brutal and misguided depredations of the Bush administration.

Yes, We Can.
shannon_a: (politics)
1. Palin doesn't like how the Republican Alaska legislature's abuse of power investigation is going.

2. Palin creates a second panel, made up of people who serve at her pleasure, to investigate herself as a result.

(I'll leave out some steps where Palin tries to get the original panel shut down, as I don't want to look them up.)

3. The original panel finds Palin guilty of abuse of power.

4. Palin's pet panel releases their results on the eve of the election.

5. Palin's pet panel finds Palin innocent.

(OK, so up to here, it just looks like another pathetic Palin abuse of power, exactly like the ones that she's already been found guilty of ... but wait, there's more.)

6. Our sad national press reports on this like it's news, and like it casts doubt on the bipartisan panel that already found Palin guilty ... and did so without trying to step on the election by releasing it in the final hours.

Our national press is utterly corrupt, so beholden to constantly chasing the newest story for ratings, that they can no longer be trusted to report the news. They should be destroyed, and will be as the internet slowly takes the power out of their dirtied, bloodied hands.
shannon_a: (politics)
So, tomorrow is the election. If I were a good activist I'd go help GOTV tomorrow, but it's been a tough and tiring and sickly year and I don't have any sort of energy for that, so I'm just going to try and get the hell away from it all.

The plan is: vote; get a sandwich; ride down to Lake Merritt; have lunch; stop by EndGame; purchase Witch's Brew; go out to Alameda; ride the Bay Trail around the island; come home when it starts getting dark; go out to dinner; and only then look at election coverage (though it'll still be too early for local stuff).

Here's what I'm worried about for tomorrow:

Barack Obama. Unless every polling institute in the United States is wrong, even the ones with a Republican lean, I don't think Obama will lose. Or, to put it more clearly, I don't think McCain can win under any honest scenario. So, I'm less concerned here, but I do think it's a crying shame that Obama's grandmother, who raised him during his teenage years, died the day before his election.

Proposition 8. That this filthy piece of bigotry would be written into our state constitution is an affront against everything that the United States stands for. I also believe it's going to pass for reasons that I'm too tired to count. The question ultimately is going to be how long until it's overturned and how much it'll set equality rights back in the process. I hope I'm wrong.

Measure KK. This is a piece-of-shit Berkeley measure authored by the NIMBYs that unfortunately fill too many Berkeley homes. Because these idiots don't want Telegraph Avenue turned into a bus thoroughfare that would allow for real public transit alternatives between here and Oakland, they've put up a law that would make it illegal for Berkeley to redraw street lanes without voter approval. Yeah, really. I suspect it'll fuck the hell out of bike lanes just as much as it'll screw up AC Transit improvements. And people say Berkeley is progressive.

The Senate. I'm actually not too worried here, because I don't think the Democrats have a great chance of picking up their 60-vote majority, nor do I think it's a catastrophe if they don't. I would guess they'll end up with 56-58 seats. I think that in order to hit 60, Franken has to get lucky in Minnesota and there has to be a major upset in the Senatorial race in Georgia due to amazingly high African American turnout. So, it could happen, but it'd be a stretch.

But I do believe, whatever else happens, that tomorrow the end of our long, national nightmare will, at last, be in sight.


Oct. 10th, 2008 08:31 pm
shannon_a: (politics)
I've written before that I could live with Republicans being in office if they just had differences in policy. But, it's more than that. In that earlier entry, I talked about how their constant lies offered mainly by Republicans were one of the things that set me off. But even moreso, I'm offended, disgusted and scared by the Republicans' general lawlessness. And it intertwines so tightly with their lies, that you just don't know what to do.

I think it comes out strongly in Palin's TrooperGate scandal.

We now know (as we'd suspected) that Sarah Palin abused her power as Governor of Alaska in her vendetta against her ex-brother-in-law. She continually used her governmental authority to put undue pressure on getting him fired, suspending his disability benefits, and who knows what else. (Lawless.)

And maybe you could understand that. I'm sure most of us have pursued a vendetta at some point that we shouldn't have. And maybe we could have excused her abuse of power if she'd been upfront and admitted that she made a mistake (though I'd hope it'd make you wonder at the ballot box).

But Palin's three-ring circus since is what's so scary.

First, when she discovered that the legislative review was going against her, she tried to get a new commission started that would put out a more favorable review. As far as I can tell, that's still coing on. (Lawless.)

Second, she tried to subvert the legislative system by sending a team of McCain lawyers to stop the legislature from reviewing her. (Lawless.)

Third, she or her lawyers advised many people to ignore subpoenas, apparently under the theory that no action would be taken until after the election. (Lawless.)

Fourth, when it became obvious that everything else had failed, Palin had the McCain campaign issue a report clearing her of all wrong-doing, as some type of dumb-assed attempt to muddy the waters, as if America was stupid enough to think, "Well, Palin didn't do anything wrong because she cleared herself." (Newspeak.)

Fifth, when the report came out today, she (through one of her mouthpieces) called it "a partisan-led inquiry run by Obama supporters". These "Obama" supporters, by the by, are mostly Republicans in Alaska who unanimously decided to continue with the inquiry even when the McCain campaign tried to take over their state. (Newspeak & Lawless.)

Dammit, media, do your fucking job and stop repeating the Republican lies without context.

Dammit, government, take a lesson from Alaska and take your party-uber-alles attitude and your immoral integration of politics and the judicial branch of government and shove it.
shannon_a: (politics)
(A fun parody song.)

My favorite line:

Just Because I can see the moon,
Doesn't make me an astronaut, you loon.
shannon_a: (politics)
When they're not flat-out lying (and they usually are), the McCain campaign has consistently engaged in a game of emotional blackmail that's just as offensive.

For a few months, this was the POW-POW-POW defensive strategy. If someone criticized McCain, he'd make it about being a POW, and try to play to emotional heart strings rather than actually addressing the issue.

Can McCain not remember how many houses he owns? Well, for five and a half years he didn't have any houses, because he was a Prisoner of War!

Are McCain's music tastes old? Well, that's because he was a Prisoner of War for five and a half years, and he didn't have any access to music!

No hyperbole here. That's precisely what McCain's camp was spouting.

Well, in the last couple of weeks, POW-POW-POW has changed to sexist-sexist-sexist. But the stupidest thing is that the McCain camp doesn't seem to know what the hell the word means. Or, you know, maybe they do and they're purposefully using it out of context to suppress conversation like good little fascists.

Here's the one that really got me: SNL did a skit this weekend about Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

It's quite funny, you should watch it:

Now, by no means is that skit kind to Palin. She comes off as, well, stupid and shallow:

Hilary: I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

Palin: And I can see Russia from my house!

Hilary: I believe global warming is caused by man.

Palin: And I believe it's just God hugging us closer!

Hilary: I don't agree with the Bush Doctrine.

Palin (laughing): And I don't know what that is.

But, no one's going to be stupid enough to claim that a skit where a strong, intelligent female is contrasted to a stupid, shallow one is sexist, are they?

Oh, right ...

"The portrait was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive, and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina [a McCain lackey] told MSNBC earlier Monday. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme, and yes, I would say, sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance."

So, by the McCain Doctrine, it's sexism if you portray a woman as lacking substance if they have different views than another woman.


Hoping the MSM will start calling them on this bullshit, like they did on the POW-POW-POW crap (eventually).
shannon_a: (politics)
If we lived in a country where there were two different points of view over how things should be done, and people made an honest choice between those options, I could live with it, even if my point of view were frequently ignored--as has indeed been the case these last 8 years (and longer when you consider stuff like NAFTA under Clinton).

But one of my biggest problems with today's politics is that there isn't a chance for honest discourse in this country right now, and that's largely because of lying politicians.

It was bad enough in bygone years when the Republican party ran on campaigns of lottery dreams. There were years when they talked about lowering taxes for the rich, and you could see that their underlying message was, "Hey, you might be rich some day, blue collar worker. So wouldn't you like to make sure that taxes are low for that glorious future?" I always felt like they were fooling people, like they were convincing the average American to vote against his best interest by holding out a carrot that they'd never get to eat.

But that's nothing to what the Republicans have done in this century.

I've heard Karl Rove's technique called The Big Lie several times, using the term that originated with Hitler. I think now we can look back and see that's how we got into the war with Iraq. According to Wikipedia:

The Big Lie is a propaganda technique. It was defined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf as a lie so "colossal" that no one would believe that someone "could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously".

But nowadays Republicans seem to be taking it to the next level. They're not just lying about the big things, they're lying about everything. McCain gets out there and offers the Big Lie of being opposed to George Bush, which might have been true 8 years ago, but hasn't been true since he prostituted himself to win the nomination. His campaign has also constantly been lying about Obama, most consistently purposefully misrepresenting his tax policies.

Palin may be even worse, as she seems to have been lying across her whole political career. She's now saying she's against earmarks, though her earmarks were so bad when she was mayor of Wassila that she made the bad-earmarks list of a certain Senator in congress three times.

(The senator? John McCain.)

She's saying she was against the infamous Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere, though she campaigned on pushing it through when she was trying to become governor of Alaska. At the convention she even claimed that Obama has never authored major legislation, a fact that's outright false (unless, I suppose you have a pretty frickin' high bar for "major").

The problem isn't just these lying politicians (and I'm sure there are some Democrats too, though among the Republicans it seems entirely endemic, and I think the contrast is most obvious in the political race), but rather than our media isn't doing anything about it.

We've started to get a little lackluster fact-checking by some of the main media, but it's still only offered secondary or tertiary attention. And, much of the fact-checking is still being done by second or third-tier media who no ones pays attention to. What happened to the media being the watchdogs of our society? They've entirely abrogated that responsibility. They should be calling politicians out when they're serial liars. That should be the big headline ("McCain's Newest Ad Once More a Big Lie!"), but instead they repeat the lies in their main stories, then list the incorrect facts back on page 33.

That's crap and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Barrack Obama today put out an ad straight-up calling the McCain campaign liars for the bullshit they've been saying (using a rare media quote that actually used the word "lie"). Hopefully it'll bring some light to peoples' eyes, but it has the unfortunate potential to backfire if he's suddenly seen as the "angry black man." But, he shouldn't even have to stick his neck out like that in the first place. The media should be doing their job, and they haven't for a long time.
shannon_a: (politics)
I just can't help but seeing the Republican ticket as a big sitcom now that includes Palin, and I can't help but be bitter about McCain turning our political system into a farce as part of a Hail Mary to win this election.

Sometimes I think it's about trying to pull the wool over the whole country's eyes ...

HE'S an aristocratic Washington insider with 11 houses. SHE'S a gun-toting, moose-burger-eating hockey mom. CAN he teach her the ways of Washington ... and high society ... before the Inauguration Waltz?

CINDY MCCAIN: Will it rain, do you think?

SARAH PALIN: The shallow depression in the west of these islands is likely to move slowly in an easterly direction. There are no indications of any great change in the barometrical situation.

JOE LIEBERMAN: Ha! ha! how awfully funny!

SARAH PALIN: What is wrong with that, young man? I bet I got it right.

But then I see these ridiculous pictures of Grandpa McCain greeting Palin's daughter and the boy they're trying to make marry her at the airport, and the near 50-year age difference is obvious. At which point I can imagine a different sort of comedy in the Oval Office, with three generations of family all involved in the discussions ...

They're the ultimate dysfunctional American family! GRAMPA, the ever-dozing war hero! MA, the quiet power behind the throne! PA, the beer-swilling, secession-preaching radical! BRISTOL, the studious bookworm who got into more trouble than she could ever imagine! LEVI, the devil-may-care hockey player. And introducing ... TRIG!

JOHN MCCAIN: This time we went over to Shelbyville during the war, I wore an onion on my belt... which was the style at the time ...

SARAH PALIN (ignoring Gramps, as usual, and talking to her husband): You sound like you're going to buy a pony. Promise me you won't.


SARAH PALIN: What was that? Was that a yes or a no?

JOHN MCCAIN: You couldn't get those white ones, you could only get those big yellow ones...


SARAH PALIN: Those aren't even words! Where would you keep a pony!?

TODD PALIN: By day the pony will roam free around the streets of Washington D.C. and by night, he'll nestle snugly between the desks in the Oval Office.

BRISTOL: Dad, no!

SARAH PALIN: That's illegal!

TODD PALIN: That's for the courts to decide! And gramps'll put that right, huh?

JOHN MCCAIN (delighted at being acknowledged): Now where was I ... Oh yeah, the important thing was I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time ...

LEVI: Ay Carumba!

(Yes, those quotes are altered from Pygmalion and The Simpsons.)
shannon_a: (politics)
Here's what I said previously about Sarah Palin.

But wait, there's more (and more and more appearing every day).

  • As part of her TrooperGate scandal, Palin has already hired an attorney to defend her. She apparently did so two weeks ago, but hid the fact until today.
  • There's been open debate about whether Palin is a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, who believes that Alaska should secede from the United States (and, it appears, that the United States should be dissolved entirely). AIP's VP is among those who claims Sarah used to be a member of the political group. Whatever the case, however, she definitely taped a message for this year's annual conventions, welcoming people to the convention and telling them they play an "important role" in state politics.
  • Not only is Palin a strong proponent of abstinence-only education, but she's a poster-girl for how well it works. Her 17-year-old daughter, you see, is pregnant. Now Obama says that family isn't anyone's business, and points out that his mom was 18 when he was born (as, indeed, was mine). However, that somewhat misses the point, which is what the policies of Palin and McCain would do to this country. First, it anecdotally points out how screwed up abstinence-only education is, something which actual studies have upheld. Second, it really goes to the heart of the "culture of life" that Palin stands for. Basically, she's decided that her teenage daughter will never have a fair shot at a life because she's going to be raising a child until her mid-30s. Perhaps she has that right within her family, but she'd like to make that choice for every 17-year-old girl in America.
  • It's increasingly obvious that she's not just a member of Alaska's culture of corruption, but a founding member. Ted Stevens, who's gone one better than Palin, in that he's under indictment not just investigation, was one of the people that helped Palin win office. Quid pro quo, her name appears in the incorporation papers of Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc. (an oxymoron if I ever heard one).

I'm going to be somewhat surprised if Palin is actually nominated on Wednesday. I'm going to be even more surprised if she's still on the ballot on November*.

And I sincerely hope that this train wreck of a VP nomination, which by all reports McCain made on his own, with almost no research, is going to be remembered in November even when Palin has been replaced by Lieberman or someone else. This was McCain's first major presidential decision, an example of what we could expect if he took office next year, and he failed it, badly.

Heck of a job, Johnnie.

* Though I could see there being some chance of it, given McCain's legendary stubbornness in the face of reality, yet another trait that he shares with his good friend, George W. Bush. However, I'd lay odds that his aides and campaign chairs are already asking for a timetable for VP widthdrawal.
shannon_a: (politics)
So, let's see, McCain picked Susan Palin, the governor of Alaska who ...

  • Just 18 months ago was the mayor of a town of 7-9000 residents. [Edit: it was actually longer than that. She got termed out, then was minimally involved in politics for several years until she lucked into the governor's mansion.]
  • Is part of the intensely corrupt politics of Alaska, which seem to currently be bringing down Senator Stevens (who has no chance of reelection) and Representative Young (who might even have lost his primary).
  • Has her own ethics scandal, involving firing someone who refused to discipline her sister's ex-husband, which is unfortunately just a little complex to explain easily. However the fact that she's currently under investigation is pretty damned easy to explain.
  • Has no foreign policy experience, no national political experience, and really no experience doing anything other than running a state who's population is smaller than San Francisco's.
  • Believes in creationism, doesn't think that global warming is real, and generally is anti-science.
  • Has no idea what the position of Vice President actually means. In a recent interview, she said, "[A]s for that V.P. 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 V.P. does every day."
Given McCain's advanced age, history of cancer, and the abuse he suffered during Vietnam, his VP is very likely to ascend to the presidency if he serves two terms. You'd think he would have picked someone more, y'know, ready for the job.

So what could possibly have possessed him? Apparently he thinks America is stupid enough to vote for him if he offers up a token woman to replace Hilary. How stupid is America? We'll see.

But the analysts are already saying that Palin would be "worse than Dan Quayle." Ouch.
shannon_a: (politics)
I think I can never be surprised by the horrific things that Republicans say, but then I'm newly amazed.

Here's a new whopper from:

But the numbers [of uninsured Americans] are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

First, my God, how can it be any more clear that the Republicans are vastly out of touch with the needs of the average American? For any deep-pocketed bastard to think that a trip to the ER is the same thing as having a regular doctor, access to reasonably priced prescriptions, and the ability to visit specialists simply proves that his think tank is an oxymoron, with emphasis on the word moron.

Second, how can anyone argue that our health care system isn't entirely and utterly screwed? I've seen our health care premiums almost triple in the last eight years. I'm aware that it would be hard for me to ever turn to an entirely freelance career because of the difficulties of getting individual healthcare for anyone with any preexisting conditions. I can't even imagine how anyone can retire before they have access to Medicaid. And that's to say nothing of the people much, much worse off than I am. You'd have to be pretty filthy rich to not think that our healthcare system is about two inches from an utter breakdown.

And that's John McCain. Filthy, filthy rich.

(But it's OK. He earned it. By marrying the heiress that he was with when he was cheating on his crippled wife.)
shannon_a: (politics)
In all my years of board gaming, I can't remember every playing a game where, after the game came to its definitive end, one of the players not only refused to concede defeat, but also insisted that they'd continue playing.

I mean sure, I've had games that kept going after the winner was clearly known, just because people felt we should play it out. And I've been accepting of that if it was a short game, and annoyed by that if it meant several hours more of play. But someone continuing to claim that they were in the game even after it was definitively done? Unheard of.

I suspect if someone did something like that, I'd have a hearty chuckle, and tell them that they could enjoy their game. Then the other players and I would head off somewhere to play without the player who thereafter would be known as the bad sport.

And I'd have to wonder internally if they were badly socialized or just insane.

With that said, maybe I'll be able to not write the article I was considering for next week's BoardGameNews, "What if Gaming Were Like Politics?" Because it probably wouldn't serve any purpose.

Beyond that, I'm immensely happy that Obama definitively won the Democratic race yesterday--and thus probably the presidency. I could be bitterly disappointed, but this is a politician that I'm offering up hope to, someone who I really believe could make a positive change in our country and its government.

However, there was no great celebration last night because, as I've said before, I was pretty sure it was over the day he won Wisconsin, proving that he could appeal in more than just limited demographics.

(And honestly, I was confused why the race went on at that point, let alone last night.)

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