The Midterms
November 3, 2010

The first thing I did at work today was accidentally spill some hot coffee on myself. That felt pretty much the whole way the previous evening did: briefly unpleasant, but not as bad as it could have been, all things considered. The biggest problem was having to live with the consequences for awhile afterwards.

You won’t hear me say this often, but I’m going to say it now: Look on the bright side. Sharron Angle, easily the most deranged Senate candidate in a good long time, did not make it. I have never been, and will never be again, this happy to see Harry Reid on my television. And while Prop 19 did not pass, surely the fact that its existence was more than a late night punch line suggests that time is on the side of the anti-prohibitionists.

And while the Tea Party had a pretty good night, there’s another silver lining there. The two sides of the Republican Party have been sniping at one another for at least the past week, and I predict more internecine strife to come. If the GOP leadership’s pact with the extreme right proves unsustainable, then that bodes well for the future of some sort of sanity.

One Thing the Election Won’t Change
November 2, 2010

is the course towards a potential “undeclared war” in Yemen. The sad fact of the matter is that a Republican Congress will be far too busy investigating the Obama administration’s illusory ties to the New Black Panthers and whether or not the EPA is engaged in a conspiracy to blunt the impact of climate change for them to bother with trivial matters like the expansion of our national security apparatus and its heavily classified, intermittently monstrous activities.

Besides which, the GOP has no credibility on these things anyway. They got the ball rolling on both the unitary executive and the one percent doctrine, so it’s a little late for them to feel outrage at these things. Not like they would, anyway; for all of the Tea Party’s talk about liberty and small government, there’s no squaring that with the fact that Sarah Palin — Mama Grizzly herself — has taken most of the surviving neocons on as her own little bear cubs.

Happy election day, everybody!

(By the way: I’m going to continue linking to most of my posts over at the League, because I am shameless, but you would do well to follow them anyway. It’s a great stable of writers. Additionally, there’s my author-specific page and accompanying RSS feed.)

Nobody’s Saying Muslims Don’t Have the Right to Build a Mosque Near Ground Zero
August 19, 2010

Except, that is, for half of everybody.

There’s a lot to pick apart in this poll—for example, you could point out that whether or not Muslims have the legal right to build a Mosque near Ground Zero has nothing to do with current plans to build an Islamic Cultural Center. But I think the more salient point is regarding what this says about how a lot of Americans view constitutional issues.

There is no debate to be had over whether or not Imam Rauf and co. have a constitutional right to build Park51. They do. It is empirically, demonstrably true that they do.

It is not empirically true that they have a right in the moral or metaphysical sense to build Park51, because that is not the sort of thing that can be empirically verified. (Metaethical naturalists might argue that it can be empirically proven, to which I verified: Then do so.) That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily wrong to say that they have the right. I believe they do, and I would hope that the vast majority of people who live in a liberal democratic society and also believe that rights exist in the first place would agree with me. But giving a proof of that gets into some thorny, potentially unanswerable ethical questions, whereas a proof answering the constitutional question would be irrefutable and consist of one step, which reads: “Read the goddamn document.”

My point being that if you think that Park51 doesn’t have a constitutional right to exist, then you really have no idea what the constitutional angle is on this. In which case, the only way you can give an answer besides “I don’t know” is by substituting your own moral intuitions for the actual letter of the law.

This is the sort of widespread backwards thinking on legal issues that the Onion lampooned brilliantly awhile back. And if you want another example from today’s news, check out Laura Schlessinger complaining that private individuals and companies violate her first amendment rights when they aren’t sufficiently indulgent of her racist tirades.

(Aside: I know it’s way too easy to pick on Sarah Palin, but compare her full-throated defense of Schlessinger to her previous well-documented condemnations of the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Evidently when brown people construct benign outreach centers too close to the sites of national tragedies it shows an unfortunate lack of sensitivity, but when a white person spouts racial epithets on a popular radio program she’s just exercising her rights and anyone who takes issue with that needs to man up.)

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In defense of Carly Fiorina
September 16, 2008

The CEO of Hewlett Packard and the POTUS require very different knowledge bases, so it’s not unreasonable to say that a person might be qualified to be one and not the other. For example, the CEO of HP doesn’t need to be well-versed in foreign policy, where as the president does. And Alaska is sort of close to Russia!

Breaking: Mediocre sketch comedy show dismissive of substance
September 15, 2008

I think Tina Fey can be amazing when utilized properly, but her turn as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live was only hilarious in comparison to that show’s usual offering of bleak un-comedy. It made me crack a smile, but it was no The Daily Show.

You know what is hilarious, though? McCain surrogate Carly Fiorina’s response.

“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.”

Suggesting that some women have substance and others do not = sexism. Because all good feminists know that female politicians are completely interchangeable, and you should just vote for them regardless of what they say or do.

I’m really glad we have the McCain campaign around to explain what sexism is and isn’t.

September 12, 2008

This ad is really stupid. And very inartfully phrased.

Just throwing this out there: If Sarah Palin really takes that much umbrage at being accused of lying, then maybe she should stop lying all the time. Insulting the intelligence of the American people is pretty disrespectful too.

Sarah Palin: Not Particularly Smart
September 11, 2008

This is pretty amazing:

“Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?”

“In what respect, Charlie?”

“The Bush … Well, what do you interpret it to be?”

“His worldview.”

I really wish Charlie Gibson had asked her if she knew what the Bush doctrine is. Or maybe if he had asked, “Wait a minute, are you seriously running for vice president?” Or maybe just laughed in her face hysterically until he started crying because a major party vice presidential candidate doesn’t know what the doctrine that’s defined the past seven fucking years of foreign policy is.

Admirably, Palin at least managed to get through this whole exchange without suggesting we go to war with another nuclear power.

What the fuck, indeed
September 11, 2008

I think Mike’s pretty much got exactly the right reaction here, and I have nothing to add.

Except to say that it should be pretty obvious that a McCain-Palin administration would base their foreign policy on trying to figure out what the most insane use of American military force would be and then doing that.

Sarah Palin still responsible for every bad thing ever
September 9, 2008

Holy crap. The more we find out about this woman, the more I become convinced that she can’t possibly actually exist. She’s like some terrible political novel’s version of what a hateful neo-Nixonian fundamentalist apeshit lady should look like.

I can’t imagine the mind of a human being who thinks it’s perfectly reasonable that the government subsidize hockey but not medical testing for rape victims.

I can’t wait for the VP debate. Tell Joe Biden to bring a goddamn fork with him.

UPDATE: Kay Steiger says that this actually isn’t all that uncommon in the United States, which is even more mortifying.

Do-it-yourself Woodwarding
September 8, 2008

God, I love it when news publications partially outsource their document combing. I’m going to do a little bit of digging when I have the time tomorrow – anyone else who wants to should chip in as well.

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