Several Steps Backward

Almost makes me sorry I supported the guy.

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Some election-related skepticism

There have been a couple of memes going around since the end of the election that have my skeptical hackles raised and my bullshit detectors buzzing. I’ve seen some folks even in the atheoskeptisphere acknowledging these points as though they’re necessarily true, and so I figured I might briefly call attention to them.

First, there’s the matter of Sarah Palin’s ignorance and emotional instability. Shortly after the results came in, Fox News Reporter Carl Cameron (among others) reported that Sarah Palin was unable to name the countries involved in NAFTA, thought Africa was a country rather than a continent, refused to prepare for her interviews with Katie Couric, and was prone to temper tantrums. On one hand, it’s easy to believe these things–as recently as a week or so before the election, Palin didn’t know what the job of the Vice President entailed. She couldn’t say what the Bush Doctrine was. She’s obviously not the most informed tool in the shed. The Africa thing parallels flubs made by the current President and his father’s running mate, so that’s not entirely unbelievable either. There’s nothing about the claims that are necessarily outrageous.

However, I have to consider the source. If a Fox News reporter told me it was raining, I’d look up to check. The fact that these claims are coming out after the election is not entirely surprising, but it’s a bit suspect, especially since the Republicans suffered such a bitter loss. There are many in the party who (probably justifiably) blame Palin for the loss, especially after her Mavericky tendency in those last weeks to get off-message and “go rogue.” I think the potential motives here–finding an easy scapegoat for the losses, sinking her chances of a 2012 run–are enough to call the purported facts into question. It’s okay, though: Palin looks bad enough without them.

The second point is one that I’ve heard all over the newsmedia, particularly from fundie godbots who are shocked–shocked!–that people would be protesting churches over Proposition 8. Why not protest the blacks/black churches, they ask, since 70% of blacks voted for Prop 8?

Besides the fact that the Mormons and Catholics–who are absolute paragons of the sanctity of healthy heterosexual marriage, since the former still acknowledges the perfection of afterlife polygamy and the latter shuffles around pedophiles under the orders of a man in a dress–pumped millions of dollars into the campaign for Proposition 8, trying to legislate their religious morals into our secular government, there’s the simple problem of the math. According to various sources, the numbers simply don’t implicate the black community in the passage of Prop 8. If anything, the numbers implicate older people, since the youth vote came in fairly overwhelmingly against Prop 8. That seems to be the silver lining to this dark cloud: given a generation or so, this shouldn’t even be an issue.

Anyway, I just thought I’d point that out. Food for doubt, you could say.

An Open Letter

Dear America,

Thanks for not fucking this one up. I’d like to say you should pat yourself on the back, but I’m honestly not that impressed by people who do what ought to be expected of them. Let’s face it, this is the 21st Century, and we’re the ostensible leaders of the free world, a superpower among industrial nations; we shouldn’t still be seriously debating whether or not healthcare is something that the people ought to have. We shouldn’t be considering people for the highest offices in the land who are opposed to science, who think mankind walked with dinosaurs and that a planetarium is in any way comparable to an overhead projector. There shouldn’t be a question over whether or not children should be educated about their bodies, over whether or not women should have inviolable control over their reproductive rights, over whether or not marriage should be an equal right for all people.

Oh, and that reminds me: fuck you, America. Fuck you, California, for voting to amend your fucking constitution to make gays into second-class citizens, to remove a right guaranteed them by the highest laws in the land, regardless of whether or not you backwards fucks realize it. Fuck you, Florida and Arizona, for passing similar amendments. And Arkansas, well, let’s face it, no one expected you to be a beacon of progressive values. The one hope I have about all this is that President Obama will have the chance to appoint new judges to the Supreme Court, and those judges may get to hear the cases objecting to the Amendments in these states, and they may get to decide those cases based on any reasonable person’s reading of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. And then this won’t be a state-by-state issue anymore.

But I don’t want you to think I’m not happy, America. In fact, I’m elated. I’m so proud of you for pulling out an election that wasn’t on the goddamn razor’s edge all night; it was really nice to be able to vote in a landslide for once, and to go to sleep at a decent hour on an election night. I’m proud of you for rejecting McCain and Palin and their consistently inept and vitriolic campaign. I’m proud especially of young America, who didn’t just wait for the world to change, but actually went out in droves and recognized that they need to make a stand about the issues that affect their lives. Don’t get a swelled head about yourself, America–you’ve still got quite a way to go just to clean up the messes of the last eight years, let alone catching up with the rest of the civilized world–but you did well last night. I had some harsh words for you up there, America, but it’s only because I recognize that you’ve got a lot more potential than you’re actually exercising.

To the Republicans of America: This might be a good time to stop and think and actually consider what your party’s values are. What this election should have taught you is that you can’t continue on trying to hold two vastly different groups of people together with masking tape and string. The fiscal conservatives, whose rhetoric has dominated Republican talking points for decades, are obviously no longer represented in the party’s decision-making process; while I heard non-stop claims about tax-and-spend Democrats in this election cycle, it seemed hollow compared to the Republican administration’s gigantic deficit, no-bid contracts, and endless war. Their calls for smaller government ring hollower still as the administration works to expand the powers of the Executive Office, flaunts the rule of law, ignores checks and balances, and uses every excuse to pry into the private lives of its citizens; meanwhile, the social conservatives seek to legislate their religious convictions, interfere with education, intervene in people’s relationships, and determine what individuals are and are not allowed to do with their own bodies. Cronyism and pandering to big business do not constitute fiscal responsibility, and moral legislation is not small government. Republicans, you need to figure out which base you want to appeal to: the small-minded set of rubes and radicals whose primary concerns are fetuses and suicide-bombers, who you can convince entirely through fear and dog-whistle words and apocalyptic rhetoric, or the Grand Ole Party of sober fiscal conservatives who believe in small government and the rule of law, and who have spent the last six years wondering if maybe they ought to be voting Libertarian instead. The two groups clearly do not get along, and I think that infighting and disagreement was a lot of what cost you this election.

To the American Democrats: Okay, we have all three houses now. Can we please stop acting like the minority party? For two years, our majorities in the House and Senate have been squandered by party leaders who have seemingly lacked any initiative or desire or courage to stand up to the failed and destructive policies of the President and the Republican party. Yes, we lacked a veto-proof majority, and yes, the President decided to get out his veto stamp at every opportunity this term, after largely forgetting he had one for the first four or five years of his presidency. None of that should have been a barrier to more decisive actions, more symbolic gestures, and more clear demonstrations of desire to make changes and do the right thing. There’s no reason that the Speaker of the goddamn House should have categorically opposed bringing articles of impeachment to the floor, except that the party didn’t want to rock the boat and potentially endanger the future of its majority. Can we be done with that now? Can we please actually do things now to enforce the rule of law, to restore checks and balances, to shrink the Executive Branch, and to make things better for the people of the United States?

It’s a great new day in America, and I think I’m going to have to look into a nice going-away party on January 20th. I’m so happy I could cry. Thanks for that opportunity, America.

All my best,
Tom

P.S.: Please don’t kill this one, okay?

Just a reminder…

Don’t forget, Ted Haggard…

Happy Zombie Awareness Day! Remember, shoot for the head!