We’re sorry, you’ve been disconnected

At least that’s how it feels to me. Everywhere I turn, I’m hearing my colleagues talk about the momentum of Mitt Romney, up until today, that is, when Haley Barbour said that Hurricane Sandy put a stop to it.

My colleagues can’t get enough of it. The polls are getting closer. Romney’s on a roll. The race is a toss-up. Obama’s losing ground.

There’s just one problem.

I don’t see it. Not anywhere.

There’s this one crazy poll that has Romney up six points in Florida, and maybe that one’s right — but it’s the only one.

It’s like the whole “Obama hasn’t created any jobs” thing. Well, presidents don’t actually create jobs, any more than governors do. But the facts get in the way of what they mean when they say that. Somewhere around 750,000 jobs have been added to the rolls so far under Obama, compared to a loss of more than a million in the same time under George W. Bush, whose policies, by the way, Romney wants to bring back, only worse.

I can’t tell you how many conservatives I’ve seen utterly convinced Mitt Romney is gonna win this thing in a landslide, presumably because all the polls are conducted by liberals and biased toward Obama. That the polls may be biased toward Obama could be true, but not because they’re conducted by liberals. It’s all in the samples. It’s just as possible the polls are all biased toward Romney, and it’s Obama who’s gonna win in a landslide.

Frankly, that he isn’t likely to win in a landslide says nothing good about our electorate and probably is as strong an indictment of the criminal neglect given to our education system as is possible, not to mention the perfectly lousy job my colleagues do covering elections of any kind.

And that brings me to Nate Silver. Unless you’re a political junkie, you may not have heard of him. But Nate is a numbers junkie who has concocted a mathematical way of prognosticating the presidential election using all the polls and a few other things. He is a liberal, but that’s the thing about numbers — they’re not particularly political. And unless it really is true that all the polls are hopelessly biased against Romney, Obama is highly likely to win re-election.

Romney has a chance to win. About a 15 percent chance — but that is a chance. It could happen.

Right now, Nate Silver forecasts Obama will win 307 electoral college votes (270 are needed to win), and that number has gone up 11 votes in the past week. Romneymentum? Where?

The popular vote, overall, is still looking pretty close, but it’s not the national popular vote that counts, now is it? No, it’s not. It’s the vote in the states, and which states. And that, my friends, doesn’t look like a toss-up. Here’s what Nate said yesterday, when Obama was leading in 19 of 20 swing state polls and Romney still had a 16 percent chance of winning the electoral college:

My argument, rather, is this: we’ve about reached the point where if Mr. Romney wins, it can only be because the polls have been biased against him. Almost all of the chance that Mr. Romney has in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, about 16 percent to win the Electoral College, reflects this possibility.

Yes, of course: most of the arguments that the polls are necessarily biased against Mr. Romney reflect little more than wishful thinking.

Nevertheless, these arguments are potentially more intellectually coherent than the ones that propose that the leader in the race is “too close to call.” It isn’t. If the state polls are right, then Mr. Obama will win the Electoral College. If you can’t acknowledge that after a day when Mr. Obama leads 19 out of 20 swing-state polls, then you should abandon the pretense that your goal is to inform rather than entertain the public.

But the state polls may not be right. They could be biased. Based on the historical reliability of polls, we put the chance that they will be biased enough to elect Mr. Romney at 16 percent.

That’s 16 percent (now less than 15 percent) likely that the polls being biased toward Obama is little more than “wishful thinking.”

But go ahead and listen to my colleagues, all of whom are pundits at election time. It’s just too close to call.

 

stolenguns

Stop thief!

Want more proof the National Rifle Association is an extremist group? In Pennsylvania, they lobbied and successfully blocked a law that would have required gun owners to report to law enforcement if their weapons are lost or stolen.

Can’t have that now can we? And that’s not all. Once that happened on a state level, a number of municipalities passed such laws on their own. So what’s the NRA doing now? Working with the state legislature to pass laws that will make it prohibitively expensive for those municipalities to prosecute violators.

Y’know, even if you believe that the 2nd Amendment allows citizens to have whatever type of weapons they choose with no background checks, licensing or anything else, you’d think if said assault weapons are lost or stolen, the owners would want someone to help get them back.

Otherwise it starts to sound a lot like the perps on the cop shows, don’t it? Cop: “The grenade launcher that killed Mr. X was registered in your name.” Suspect: “That launcher was stolen months ago.”

How convenient.

And speaking of extremists, did you see that the Salt Lake Tribune endorsed Barack Obama over favorite son Mitt Romney? Seems the editorial board couldn’t figure out who Mitt is now that he’s pandering after the Tea Party and other religious extremists.

Now, you may or may not know that I pretty much consider all religions cults, but this Latter Day Saints thing takes the cake. I’m sure there are good people amongst the Mormons, as there are amongst all religions, but it seems a lot of ‘em know even less about where their religion comes from than your garden variety Christians do.

Seriously, this dude Joseph Smith, see, he found these golden plates buried in the dirt somewhere, written in a script he called “reformed Egyptian” that nobody’d ever heard of and then magically translated them. They had this entire history of people in North America — cities and animals and plants and metals (none of which is actually true, of course, but it’s another one of those Heavenly-Father-put-the-archaeological-evidence-in-there-wrong-just-to-test-our-faith kind of things, I imagine). Thus, the Book of Mormon.

After he finished translating the plates, he gave them back to the angel who first pointed them out to him. Eleven people claim to have seen the plates, but it’s not all that clear if they ever actually did, since even the guy who wrote down Smith’s dictated translation never saw them … and, in fact, they were not in the room when Smith did his translation.

But hey, who am I to judge? Just because Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud … oh, I didn’t mention that? See, he made his living as a treasure hunter. He’d put “seer stones” into his hat, peer into the hat and tell dupes where to find treasure, which, oddly enough, was the same method he used to translate the Book of Mormon, so he didn’t actually have to look at it while he translated. Somebody somewhere got ticked off when the treasure wasn’t there, and Smith went to court, where he was found guilty. Or not, if you believe the church, although it’s pretty clear he was into those seer stones from an early age.

Oh, and every time Smith did something stupid, like, say, getting caught cheating on his wife, he would come up with something to make it all right, like, say, plural marriage, which, incidentally, his wife wasn’t too fond of.

I dunno. I guess you can call me intolerant of other religions if you want, but then again, I’m equally opportunistically intolerant of religion. My mild-mannered alter ego considers herself Buddhist, which she says she considers more a philosophy than a religion. OK, whatever. At least she doesn’t try to foist it on other people.

Neither does Mitt, he says, but his whole family seems awful proud of the missions they do. Like Mitt, y’know, he spent all that time in Paris proselytizing instead of in Vietnam getting shot at, and Ann Romney says they’s pretty much the same thing.

Extremists. The whole damn lot of ‘em.

Shark jumping

After this week, anyone who thinks this current batch of Republicans has an ounce of legitimacy left is either a rich asshole or a damn fool. That’s it. No other choices.

I just read a tweet that says … well, here it is:

[blackbirdpie id="248511397456134144"]

Seriously? So Paul Ryan lies all through his speech at the convention, Todd Akin goes on about “legitimate rape,” and now this? “Debunked and selectively edited?”

OK, so it turns out he’s only talking about the part where he said Palestinians have no interest in peace and that peace in the Middle East is impossible. Seems Mother Jones, in its initial posting of snippets of the whole little chat Mittens had with his rich friends, left out the part where he said that peace was actually possible, but only if the United States got in there and showed those Palestinians who’s boss.

But I always keep open: the idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world. We have done that time and time and time again. It does not work. So the only answer is show them strength. American strength, American resolve, and the Palestinians will some day reach the point where they want peace more than we’re trying to force peace on them. Then it’s worth having the discussion. So until then, it’s just wistful thinking.

Yeah, Mitt always keeps open that the United States will someday have another belligerent idiot president who is ready to start Armageddon.

Oh, and Anne Romney says Mitt’s remarks about the poor are taken out of context.

Audience member: For the last three years, all everybody’s been told is, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you.” How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you’ve got to take care of yourself?

Romney: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48 — he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people — I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like.

Hard to figure how that’s out of context. Only people who pay no income tax vote for Obama. That’s weird. I will vote for him. I pay income tax. Then there’s the whole implication about who it is who’s dependent on the government, you know, like veterans, the elderly. And about 4,000 really rich people who don’t pay income taxes.  And never mind that there are plenty of other taxes everybody pays (including actual PAYROLL TAXES, which contrary to popular belief are not the same as taxes on income).

The New York Post had some kind of headline on this about “the truth hurts.” And in a really odd sense, this is the truth. It’s the truth about how these greedy motherfuckers really feel about the rest of us. The unvarnished truth.

And just in case, Matt Drudge dredges up a 14 year old audio of Obama saying something about believing in “redistribution,” which is conservative code for dirty commie and which Mitt himself is talking about, most likely to (a) confuse the issue and (b) make more inroads with his rich friends. I don’t need to tell you that a guy like Mitt Romney really shouldn’t be talking about what somebody else said he believed in 1998.

They’re not even pretending anymore. They’ll tell ya flat out that facts don’t matter, just the lies they keep on telling, the lies that way too many keep on believing.

But have they jumped the shark this time? And more to the point, will my beloved colleagues wake up from their stupor and realize what’s been going on?

If this election isn’t a landslide, I give up. We really are doomed.

 

Sneakin’ Sally through the alley

Back in June 1983, NASA did something rather unusual. A couple of things actually. For one, they sent a woman up into space, 20 years after the Soviet Union did it for the first time and a year after they did it for the second time.

For another, they set up a toll-free phone number for us space junkies to call and listen to the astronauts talk. I did that, several times. Just to hear Sally Ride. I mean, wow. The first American woman in space. Space, the final frontier. A woman astronaut.

A woman astronaut who got asked ridiculous things like, “do you cry when things go wrong on the job” by my beloved colleagues after she was named to STS-7, never mind she had a Ph.D. in phucking physics. From fucking Stanford. And she helped develop the robot arm. My colleagues can be such idiots.

OK, but that was 1983 you say. How really different is it now? Quite, actually. For one thing, the United States doesn’t even have a shuttle program anymore, and depends on the Soviet Union … erm, I mean Russia, to get astronauts to the space station. And my colleagues pretty much ignore the whole thing anyway. I can probably count on my two hands how many know that Suni Williams is up there right now, and probably on only one hand the number who know she’ll be the station commander in September.

But Sally. Sally Ride. The name, the woman. Space. Sally was the ground communicator for the 2nd and 3rd shuttle flights, flew for a second time in 1984 and was set to fly for a third time when Challenger — the very shuttle she flew in both her space missions — exploded. NASA named Sally to the commission to investigate the accident, and then later to do strategic planning in Washington.

But politics and science don’t mix very well. Kinda like religion and science, actually, so Sally left and went off to do science, with a particular aim at bringing more kids, particularly girls, on board. She still worked with NASA on the side, and was named to the commission investigating the Columbia accident in 2003 — the only person to serve on both.

Oh, and she was a lesbian. We found out about this because the obituary that she and her 27-year partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy (also a scientist) wrote mentioned Tam as her first survivor. Hell, we didn’t even know Sally had cancer, and now we find out she was a lesbian too?

Good thing they wrote that obit, though, because NASA used its own. It doesn’t mention Tam.

But damn, some of us said, why the hell did she wait until after she was dead to let us in on this secret? Isn’t Sally Ride the very kind of person we want to show the nutjobs that we are not only just like everybody else, but in some cases we are way better than everybody else?

Well, yeah. But Sally didn’t see it that way. I don’t know what discussions went on behind closed doors between her and Tam (although I’m sure there were plenty), but I can guess at what kinds of things may have helped her decide not to come out publicly. Do you cry when things go wrong at work?

Sally wanted to do science, not give lessons on how it is that a lesbian can be America’s first female astronaut and be so fucking brilliant the rest of us should just fall down at her feet. Sally wanted to promote science in a country where half of it — oddly enough the same half that would condemn her to hell for her “lifestyle choice” — doesn’t get that science isn’t a matter of what you decide to believe. Sally wanted to get more little girls interested in science, not fend off ridiculous accusations that she’s a dyke child molester — accusations that my colleagues were bound to take just as seriously as anything she could say to the contrary.

In short, an out lesbian Sally Ride could never have accomplished what she accomplished because she would have been too busy dealing with both the idiots who think lesbians are women who hate men and those of us on our side who think famous lesbians should spend all their time in the spotlight talking about how great it is to be gay.

And that, my friends, is just so fucking sad it hurts to think about it.

WWWMD?

Leave it to The Onion to publish the definitively cynical, black humor journalistic piece on the Aurora theatre shooting. It was so funny it wasn’t.

According to the nation’s citizenry, calls for a mature, thoughtful debate about the role of guns in American society started right on time, and should persist throughout the next week or so. However, the populace noted, the debate will soon spiral out of control and ultimately lead to nothing of any substance, a fact Americans everywhere acknowledged they felt “absolutely horrible” to be aware of.

With scalpel-like precision, the American populace then went on to predict, to the minute, how long it will take for the media to swarm Aurora, CO, how long it will take for them to leave, and exactly when questions will be raised as to whether or not violence in movies and video games had something to do with the act.

The Onion did leave out the teddy bear and flower memorial at the theatre. And of course, it wasn’t violence in movies and video games my colleagues obsessed over. This time, they got down to the gun control battle almost immediately, with the usual, emotion-driven, completely unreasonable results.

Can’t we just mourn the tragedy without one side immediately blaming lax gun laws and the other, equally quickly, calling for more concealed weapons in public?

asked one of my colleagues on Facebook, and the answer was quickly clear, from another: “No, we cannot.”

Well, I know one cable television news anchor who wouldn’t take part in the usual bullshit. Will McAvoy. Will McAvoy would be sensitive to the victims in the tragedy and still not get bogged down in the either/or, emotionally charged garbage that passes for news in this country anymore.

Yeah, Will McAvoy, my beloved colleagues. The guy on Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show The Network that you keep laughing about. Nervous laughter maybe? Because you are the very ones decrying the bullshit that the fictional McAvoy is taking head on. The bullshit that you complain loudly about and never lift a finger to stop.

Hey, I know it’s hard. You’ve got Jane Fonda to think about. Oh, wait. Jane Fonda would be right with you if you really wanted to change things. It’s Fonda’s character on The Newsroom who worries about the money. And threatens to get rid of employees who won’t play the game.

See, here’s the thing. Sorkin, who is not a pleasant fellow but nevertheless does entertaining television, doesn’t give us real life. I’m sure none of you think The West Wing was remotely true to life. It was idealized, the same way The Newsroom is idealized. It’s what we wish would happen but not a damn one of us will do anything to create.

So I’m gonna go out on the proverbial limb here and talk about this like I think Will McAvoy would, and Will — he wouldn’t shy away from the gun arguments.

But he also wouldn’t get into the he said/she said of the pro and anti gun lobbies. Neither will I. Full disclosure: I do not like guns. I do not own one, and I won’t own one. I do not hunt, and I am not so afraid that I feel I must protect myself with a weapon that is much more likely to end up hurting me or someone I love than anyone else. I have fired guns, however, and am a pretty good shot. But I’m older now, and wiser. Guns don’t kill people. People with guns do.

The United States has a pretty high per capita of gun murders, suicides and accidental deaths. It’s significantly lower than, say, South Africa or Colombia, but only slightly below Mexico, and way higher than a whole bunch of countries that have sane gun laws.

Sane gun laws like people should not be able to buy assault weapons. For what earthly reason do you need an assault weapon? It is not a hunting rifle. And 6,000 rounds of ammunition? Seriously? It’s even easier to buy ammo, y’know, than a gun. Except maybe in Colorado or Texas. Obviously. That picture, by the way, is of a couple of SWAT dudes with AR-15 assault rifles and 90-round drum magazines. The Aurora shooter had 100-round drum magazines.

I don’t begrudge anybody who wants to buy a gun for protection, although I do think you shouldn’t oughta do it. I think we need fewer guns, not more guns. We have too many already, and it’s not helping. But no, I’m not for laws banning guns. We need to turn away from them voluntarily.

So naturally, after this tragedy in Colorado, I waited patiently until someone said

If more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns, this guy might have thought twice.

Or at least less innocent people would have been hurt.

Actually, the correct word is “fewer.” Fewer innocent people. Less innocent people — well, maybe the writer actually did mean that — as in, maybe the shooter is “less innocent” than the other people — but I really don’t think so.

Either way, it’s absolutely wrong, unless the “sane, law-abiding citizens” carrying the guns were special ops forces, trained to work against some dude in a gas mask who tossed tear gas into a darkened theatre and then proceeded to use multiple weapons, including the aforementioned assault rifle and its drum cartridges.

No, if “more sane, law-abiding citizens were carrying guns” at that theatre, there’d be a lot more people dead.

But we won’t talk about sane gun laws. We’ll talk about either/or. We should have no gun laws or no guns. Yeah, I’m all for no guns, but not laws to make it so. Just sane laws to keep some of the crazy shit out. But it’s so much more fun and emotional to take extreme ends and pit them against each other on network news. And that’s what the news has become. Emotional appeals. Scare people. Freak them out. Make them cry. But for god’s sake don’t temper that with any rationality.

Yeah, temper it. Not overcome the emotion with impeccable reason. That’s the problem here — and it’s why people like James Holmes and that guy at Virginia Tech go all batshit and shoot up people. It’s simple: We don’t know how to balance emotion and reason. We think it’s supposed to be either/or, and it’s not.

And here, we typically think of emotion as something less — y’know, women are more emotional, and women aren’t as important or valuable as men, who are so much more rational. But what happens when you suppress your emotional side and do nothing to integrate it with your rational side?

You shoot up a movie theatre. Or overdose on drugs. Or become an alcoholic. Or beat your wife. Or kick a puppy. Or put on weird make-up and wear black all the time. Because sooner or later those icky old emotions will show up. Or Wolf Blitzer and a bunch of politicians will punch your buttons and your insides will open up and they’ll just spill out.

We need to learn that heart and mind are the same thing, not two different “parts” of us that can never be reconciled. They ARE reconciled. We’re the ones who keep forcing them apart.

Cuz when you let them be the same … you focus like a laser. You’re unstoppable.

Just ask Will McAvoy.

It’s no use

OK, here’s the thing. It’s not gonna work. None of it. It doesn’t matter how many facts we have on our side, how much truth we have, how honest we are … it just doesn’t matter. It’s not gonna work.

We’re not gonna sway one single person to see it our way. In fact, just the opposite — we’re going to harden their positions against us. Make it worse (as if that could happen — trust me, it can).

And here’s why: The conservatives own the emotional end of this. In our dualist, either/or world, emotion trumps reason every time. They do that because only two emotions are given any credence in this world: Fear and it’s flip side, anger. And those two — need I say it? No mere proof can move ‘em.

Fear’s an old emotion. An awful lot of action is born from fear. Ack! Storm! Lightning! Rain! Find cave! Ack! Dinosaur! Make pointy stick!

Oh, sorry. That’s the conservative version. We know dinosaurs and mankind did not coexist.

There’s nothing wrong with fear and anger, of course. It’s all in what you do with ‘em. In Conservative Bizarro World, if you’re afraid (and you are because you’re leaders have made sure of it), you must have a scapegoat to blame and be angry with. Fortunately, your leaders take care of that for you too.

This makes things much easier. No thinking involved. The poor souls who have been convinced by billionaires that it is progressives who are elitists never have to make a single decision for themselves. They don’t want to do that because their conservative overlords have told them it’s a big, bad, scary and complicated world out there, but the overlords alone have those poor souls’ best interests at heart, because Socialists! Black militants! Gays! Anti-American! Traitors!

And here we sit, palms up holding our paltry “evidence” in hand as if it makes a difference. It doesn’t. They don’t care. No, they don’t. Not one iota. Because we are the enemy. The strange beings who want to destroy them and everything they know and cherish. Why, we probably have horns and tails … oh, wait. That was Jews. Well, the rest of us probably do too!

You know why Scott Walker won in Wisconsin last week? I mean, besides the billions the Koch brothers poured in. It wasn’t because they thought Walker was a great guy. It was because they didn’t think a governor should be removed from office for anything less than criminal behavior. You and I may not like what the jackass did, but it wasn’t criminal, any more than any other regular piece of political bullshit is just that. You did notice that in the exit polls, the majority backed Obama, right?

We talk a lot about the right wing echo chamber, but we fail to understand what it’s actually doing. It’s entire purpose is to reach that primal reptilian part of our brains, to stir the pot of the emotions and send their minions out torch and pitchfork in hand. In short, to create exactly what we have: Mob mentality.

Surely you’ve noticed. There’s no civility. It complete viciousness. There’s not even a pretense of honest political debate, as if there’s ever been any such thing.

And here’s the real kicker — this behavior is not limited to conservatives. I’ve seen it alive and kicking in liberals too, when their deeply held beliefs are threatened. They too turn into vicious pack animals and try to rip apart anyone who stands in their way.

It happened right here in my little liberal city, when some of us learned that our beloved mayor was stealing us blind. We had the proof. The mayor’s supporters wouldn’t even look at it. “I don’t go on facts,” one guy told me. “I go on feelings.” Hey, great, your feelings are gonna cost the city its charter when it goes bankrupt.

Almost happened. Half a million in debt, which is huge for a city with only 800 residents. We got him out of office, but at a terrible price to the peace of the city and to many friendships.

Those of us who worked to save the city were rewarded by having various county and state agencies called to investigate the most middling of things, and some serious and untrue accusations were thrown about. Ugly, very ugly. Just as ugly as what we see now in our national debate, except the lines weren’t drawn between conservative and progressive because that’s not where the real line is.

The real line is between reality and delusion.

Our current crop of conservatives deal in delusion, and they are masters at it. That’s why they name a bill that guts environmental policy the Clean Air Act.

And that’s why our attempts to fight delusion with truth aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans. Delusional people cannot be dissuaded. It’s too emotional, too raw, too primal.

Too unevolved. Really, they might as well just grunt and point, cowering in the back of a dark, dark cave. The stuff they say makes no more sense than that anyway.

Saw a Tweet tonight for a moronic woman who fancies herself a conservative journalist. She’s been hanging out a Netroots Nation tweeting inanities that she thinks make sense. They do, to her fellow delusionals. The best one was her utter incredulousness when one of the speakers mentioned Virginia’s attempt to mandate an ultrasound with a vaginal probe before a woman could have an abortion. “WTF?” she tweeted. Guess she was still under her rock when that all went down.

So what do we do, you may ask. Hell, I don’t know. Do what you think is best. But know this: We’re not gonna create an enlightened society by fighting. A violent revolution does little more than change the names of the assholes in charge. And an election in the toxic atmosphere we have here is only marginally better.

But it is better. It’s better because we can pick a rich fucker who belongs to a cult, a black guy who belongs to a different cult but doesn’t make such a big deal out of it and who probably wishes he stayed in state politics or community organizing even, or any one of a number of other folks who have zero chance of winning and every chance of throwing the election to the rich fucker if we do the wrong thing. Hell, we might get to vote for Roseanne fucking Barr for president — not that I think she’d do any worse job than any of the others, but the rich fucker will definitely finish what George W. Bush started, and I can guarantee you won’t be happy about it.

So think about it, come November. And hey, I’m all for breaking down this tendency toward tribal allegiances humanity seems reluctant to let go of. It is gonna happen. I’d just rather we chose that path rather than forced it to happen. Forcing it puts us all back at square one, and I just don’t think we have that many do-overs left.

This is war

Suit up, ladies. There’s a war going on, apparently against us.

Now, some say that’s not true. Or it is true, but it’s the liberals waging it and not the right-wing throwbacks to the caveman era.

Just more of that up is down shit we got from the Bush administration for eight years.

The Republicans wanna have it both ways too. The Obama administration is bad for women, but women are doing great in this economy! Yahoo! Helps, of course, that their base apparently can only consider one statement at a time, and so any contradictory statements are not considered when a new one comes along.

So when an Ed Gillespie says on Meet the Press “The U.S. economy is a hostile workplace for women under President Obama … It’s still the economy, and women aren’t stupid,” the Republican sheeple don’t remember that women have always been at the bottom of the heap. Women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men, and that didn’t just happen since January 20, 2009.

So what does presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and the rest of the cabal intend to do about it? I’ll let Joan Walsh answer that.

It’s undeniable that Romney and the GOP support policies that disproportionately hurt women. They want to cut back the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-wage workers; most recipients are women. They want to slash Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security; women make up most of those programs’ beneficiaries, too. To the extent that they, as well as GOP governors, are pushing public worker layoffs, those hit women harder too, since they’re more likely to work in the public sector than men.

They wanna do other things too, like put restrictions on abortion that lock the doctor’s opinion out of the matter. That’s Georgia, where the legislature has passed a bill that bans abortion after five months — regardless the health of the fetus, the health of the mother or even if the fetus is dead. Because? One of the bill’s prime sponsors says that he’s delivered calves and pigs dead and alive, so it should be ok for humans too.

But it’s not all about women it seems. The Tennessee legislature has been trying for a while now to ban use of the word “gay” to mean homosexual. They’ve not been successful … yet, but they did manage to pass a vague bill requiring sex education to preach against “gateway sexual activity,” without explaining what that means. Kissing? Holding hands? Running your fingers through someone’s hair? Got me.

And then of course there’s the myriad politicians who don’t think it’s a good idea to ban bullying against gay people. Gay journo Dan Savage, speaking to the National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle, ran into a little of this in high school students. From David A. Graham:

In the course of his talk about bullying, Savage pointed out anti-gay activists sometimes cite the Bible to justify their beliefs and behavior. He then went on to point out that the Bible sanctions any number of activities we don’t allow today, including slavery and the stoning of women who are not virgins when married (the full text, if you don’t want to watch the video, is here), strictures he referred to as “bullshit.” In protest, some (presumably) Christian members of the audience walked out. As he wrapped up the inflammatory section of his remarks, Savage apologized for offending anyone, but undercut that apology somewhat by adding, “It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

Here’s the video in case you do want to watch it:

And before you start whining about how do you know they’re Christians and weren’t just upset about the foul language — they’re journalism students, ferchrissake. If “bullshit” upsets them, they’re in the wrong business.

So really, it’s not just a war on women. It’s a war on everything good and decent, despite attempts to characterize it as something dirty and bad.

 

Return to the land of the living

Levon Helm is dead. You may not know who he is. Hell, you may not even care. But God tweeted about his death.

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That’s a reference to one of The Band’s most iconic songs, “The Weight,” a song about a visit to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where Martin guitars are made. Levon was the drummer and singer.

But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Levon was one of those rare Southern white men born in the first half of the 20th century who had a clue. Maybe that came from his parents, Arkansas cotton farmers who loved music and shared that love with their children.

Arkansas during Levon’s childhood was a crossroads of musical wonders. Country met Western, Rhythm blended with Blues. And riding the back roads between those were traveling minstrel shows and Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass boys. They all came together as rock and roll. And Levon was right there.

That’s the short version. The long version is a 45 year body of work that includes some of the some of the most vibrant performers of the time, a body of work that is still influencing musicians around the world.

That’s what happened yesterday. Levon Helm died. And I decided it was time to get back to work here at AWOP.

I’ve been missing in action because my alter ego had a nasty little auto accident. Broke my clavicle and a wrist, buncha bruises and scrapes. Had surgery. Spent a few weeks heavily drugged. I’m awfully grateful that Kim and Leslie and Perry have kept things going during my convalescence.

So, I’m back.Starting tomorrow, new posts daily.

I’m thinking some changes may be in order. Not sure what they’ll be yet. It’s just that my entire life has been changing lately. AWOP can’t come away unscathed.

No worries though. We’ll still be a strong platform for progressive thought, progressive ideas and progressive change.

With a healthy dose of the irreverent.

Nunzia Rider is the nom de blog of KC Wildmoon, who blogs at The Accidental (journalist)(buddhist)(epicurean). Read about the nasty little auto accident and other obscurities there.

Hail and farewell, Andrew Breitbart

The crazies are already accusing President Obama of having Andrew Breitbart killed, much like they accused Hillary Clinton of having Vince Foster killed way back when. Insane conservative radio dude Michael Savage called Breitbart’s death an “assassination.” I’m thinking it was just too much cocaine for the heart.

A “suspicious package” near the home of Rush Limbaugh that brought the bomb squad running and my lovely colleagues making immediate connections to Limbaugh’s foul contraception comments probably cemented the idea that the liberals are out to silence conservative voices, at least by the Twitter reponses I’m seeing. The liberals, in case you’re wondering, are tweeting either ridiculous jokes about what the package might be (forgotten Chinese take-out, a blow-up doll, more Viagra) or cautions that we shouldn’t be wishing anyone dead, which no one save a couple of losers is doing.

Turns out it was an electronic plaque commemorating the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth (assassination?) sent by a fan who was offering the fat guy a “business opportunity.”

Still, these conservatives will go to their graves believing Breitbart was killed. Why? Because Breitbart himself, and people like him, poisoned them. They believe that liberals, progressives, Democrats are the most vile, wicked, evil, dangerous people on the planet, who will stop at nothing to impose their will on the poor helpless masses because that’s what Breitbart et al have told them.

And Breitbart goes to his grave unrepentant because, as we don’t seem to want to believe, it’s the conserverati who will stop at nothing in their fight to return the United States to We, the White Christian Straight People.

Now, some say Breitbart really wasn’t a white Christian straight supremist, and maybe he wasn’t. They say he just delighted in the fight, was single-minded in his hatred of Barack Obama and used every tool he could gather to attack him, including the racist ones. They say he’d use different tools if it were somebody else.

I say if you use racist tools, you’re a bigoted asshole, just by virtue of your willingness to do so. Or, you’re just a run-of-the-mill soulless asshole of the first degree. Which would you prefer?

Either way, Andrew Breitbart was an asshole. And because he went after Obama and the Obama administration with racist attacks, he gained the support of the racist right. They heard what he said. They knew what he meant. And they agreed, just like they agree with Rush Limbaugh, another soulless asshole of the first degree, says the same type stuff.

Or perhaps you’ve not heard Limbaugh’s latest. He’s going after Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student who was barred from speaking at Rep. Darrell Issa’s hearing on contraception. Fluke subsequently spoke at a Democratic House Steering Committee meeting. Women who use birth control are sluts, Rush says. But Limbaugh, like Breitbart, doesn’t generalize like that. Limbaugh, like Breitbart, makes it personal.

What does it say about the college [sic] co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.

He kept it up a day later, demanding that Fluke post sex videos online.

Here’s what makes this kind of behavior so very bad: They make it personal. Breitbart didn’t slam the Department of Agriculture, or the Obama administration, or even the NAACP as racist when he ran edited video of remarks made by Ag Department employee Shirley Sherrod to the NAACP. He painted HER as racist. Trouble is, the full video revealed that her point was the complete opposite.

ACORN. Again, Breitbart with James O’Keefe and edited videos. ACORN was screwing up by paying people to register voters and not putting in place any safeguards to prevent their registrars from sitting at the kitchen table and filling out all the forms, but it wasn’t voter fraud. It was registration fraud — and it was stupid and preventable. But Breitbart/O’Keefe/the Right went after ACORN anyway with lies and distortions and the only organization in the country that actively works to register poor people to vote was decimated. And afterward, no fewer than three investigations, complete with views of the entire tapes, revealed that no one had broken any laws.

In both cases, here’s what happened: Breitbart made a big push with his edited videos, Republicans ran with them and started calling for heads to roll, and Democrats served those heads up on a silver platter. Then we found out it was all bullshit. A triumvirate of wrong, with the driving spark provided by Andrew Breitbart.

I could go on and on detailing Breitbart’s crimes, but there’s no reason. Breitbart targeted the innocents. Some of the innocents may not have been all that smart, and he got plenty of help from both sides of the aisle. But none of that detracts from what he did, repeatedly. And the results were invariably damaging to individual people who lost jobs, lost valuable services provided by organizations, lost the willingness to stand up for anything out of fear something like this could happen to them.

OK, so he was right about Anthony Weiner. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

It’s all part of the conservative game plan. Smear, lie, distort, ruin. Fast and hard hits that make it highly likely there’ll just be some sort of reaction before the truth comes out. The attack on Planned Parenthood didn’t work out as planned.

But that hasn’t stopped the Republicans from running with the lies, nor has it stopped their Democratic enablers from cowering and looking for fresh heads to offer as sacrifices. Hence, contraception is now controversial, and conservatives have gone all out in their once underground war to bring women back under the thumb of the patriarchs, back to the good old days when men were men, women and children were property and queers were something that only existed in pulp magazines and true crime stories.

I’m not one to gloat over a death, not even someone like Breitbart. He was, after all, a human being. I think he had children. I’m sure they loved him. But when your life is infused with such poison, well, what you do will eventually come back and bite you, sometimes really hard.

Why Breitbart and not Limbaugh, who’s been so full of the poison for so much longer? I can’t answer that. The hows and whens and wheres and whos of karma are beyond me.  All I know is what goes around comes around. You reap what you sow.

That’s not to say that Breitbart was punished for his deeds by death — because death isn’t a punishment. But what you do comes back to you. Always. Somehow, somewhere, some way, sometime. Not on your time or my time, but when it should. Breitbart is dead. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

And for those of you who think we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, who’s speaking ill? I’m just speaking the truth. Besides, Breitbart had no qualms about speaking ill of the dead. He called Sen. Edward Kennedy a “villain,” a “duplicitous bastard” and a “prick” on the day he died.

I’m more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified. Sorry, he destroyed lives. And he knew it.

Destroyed lives. Sounds like he was talking about himself.

 

 

 

 

 

In a world of blithering idiots …

Can it really be true that half this country is a bunch of blithering idiots? They’d have to be to believe the drivel the Republican presidential candidates put out constantly.  Look at Wednesday night’s debate, if by debate you mean “Yet another chance for grown-ass white men to lie with impunity.”

If you believed everything you heard that night, you’d think that Barack Obama is a merciless child killer (“legalized infanticide,” from Newt Gingrich). Mitt Romney said president is a godless tyrant (“attacking religious tolerance”). The worst attack on religion in history, he said. Really? After all the direct attacks against Muslims and Islam that have been so blatant over the last decade?

Kinda reminds me of my days in the gay press, when the gay boys were all up in arms because the paper I worked for wouldn’t run sex ads and actually reported on the community outside the bar culture — including lesbians! “The Lesbian Home Journal,” they called us, derisively, just because we were inclusive and not exclusive.

The candidates use these talking points like they have a basis in reality. But ask them to back ‘em up — something no one ever does during these debates, which is why you so rarely see NPR anchors moderating — and they come up with nothing. That’s because they are lies.

What kind of presidential race is this? In 2008, of course, they did all these same things, but then they denied it. No, we didn’t say Obama is a traitor. No, we didn’t say he was Muslim. No, we didn’t say he was unAmerican. We can’t control what some of our supporters say.

But now they are saying it, right out loud. No denial possible, it’s all on tape. But I don’t think they want to deny it. They’re gunning for votes from the blithering idiot crowd.

More from that debate: Newt the Historian says this is the most dangerous time the world as ever seen and that Obama is the most dangerous president as regards national security we’ve ever had, with Mitt Romney chiming in that the president has done nothing (other than take out Osama bin Laden, end the Iraq war and send military help to end Gaddhafi’s reign of terror, to name a few) to make the world safer.

Obama is shrinking the military, too, these guys say. Making us less safe (be afraid, be very afraid). Yeah, that’s kinda what happens when you end two wars. Not to mention budget cuts agreed to by Republicans in Congress.

That dreaded “Obamacare” is costing jobs! And money! Well, yeah, if you’re counting insurance executives. But in the long run, the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act will cost nearly twice the billions keeping it in place will save. A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting family, and my dad and my cousin’s husband started talking about Obama being the Worst President Ever. And my cousin chimed in that it was just horrendous that Obama would want “us” (we taxpayers) to pay to educate the poor so they can get better jobs, and, y’know, not need welfare. “They just don’t want to work,” she said. “Do you even know any poor people?” I asked. No answer.

Meanwhile, the husband started whining about “Obamacare” and how he resented paying for it. Really? And who do you think pays for it when people who have no insurance go to the emergency room for general health care? Again, no answer.

Rising gas prices, too, are the president’s fault. Interesting that when bad things happen under a Democratic administration, it’s the president’s fault. But when the same bad things happen under a Republican president, the president has no control over it.

There’s a number of factors pushing gas prices up, not the least of which is butane. Butane, you say? Yes, butane. It’s a common, and dirt cheap, additive used in gasoline — but only during colder winter months. Once it starts warming up, butane starts evaporating, and the oil companies replace it with other, much more expensive additives. There’s also the demand coming from India and China pushing the prices up, not to mention our own love affair with wasting gasoline known as spring and summer vacation time.

And there’s one other thing, along with the Republican plan to drill the hell out of everything that can be drilled. Even if if that were to provide enough oil to make a dent in the US dependence on countries that actually have enough oil to use, there’s this one tiny problem: American refineries are already running at capacity.

Rep. Allen West, Insane MF-Florida, is a black guy who hates the president.

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I have a better question. Why are you driving a Hummer?

And let’s not even get started on this birth control thing. I said 40 years ago that if the conservatives manage to get Roe v. Wade overturned, they’d set their sites on contraception. Looks like they’ve decided not to wait.

Rick Santorum’s the queen of that deal. Plus he says Obama is running the country with a theology that is not based on the bible. First, I hope he’s not running the country based on any theology. That’s kinda unconstitutional. And if Little Ricky thinks his theology is not based on the bible, what does he think it’s based on? The Quran? Newt Gingrich is in on this too. The Obama administration thinks the president is superior to the pope. Hey, Newt, in the US government, he is!

Here’s another from Newt. He blasts Obama for apologizing to Afghanistan for the accidental burning of Qurans “on a day when an Afghan soldier murdered two American soldiers.” Apparently, we’re supposed to behave abysmally and never apologize for being ignorant assholes because that would be “surrendering.” Or taking the high road.

And it’s not just presidential candidates going all out. In Virginia, they tried to require “transvaginal” ultrasound — that’s one with penetration — before a woman could have an abortion. Now why would they want to do that? Think about it.

Virginia and other states are pushing this “personhood” thing too — that a fetus is a “person.” Yeah, and so is a corporation. Just let me know when one dies for the country. But a fetus — y’know, if birth control and sex education were a little better here (and sex education is another thing these bozos hate) then there just wouldn’t be that many abortions. And remember — making abortion illegal (or making a fetus a person) won’t stop abortions. It’ll just make ‘em more dangerous.

See, these Republican creepos are vindictive bastards. They’re gonna punish you — torture you — if you don’t fall in line and worship at their altar. Especially if you are anything but the straight white Christian guys they are. Are you listening, Mitt Romney? You too, Newt and Little Ricky. The evangelistas you’re after don’t really see you as any more Christian than they do Mitt. So it really doesn’t matter how many letters Cardinal Dolan writes urging the Catholic bishops to push for some kind of conscience act, allowing people to not do anything if it violates their Christian beliefs (somehow I’m betting that no other beliefs will count in this), you’re still gonna be a heathen.

Just like the rest of us.

I suspect they’ll keep going. They’ll keep calling us names, vile and vicious names, and tell us we do the same. Really? Show me a Democratic presidential candidate who’s said the equivalent of any of the above. Show me a Democratic state senator who’s done the equivalent of refusing to honor the Girl Scouts because he thinks they’re the operative arm of Planned Parenthood, supporting abortion and homosexuality. Show me a liberal religious sect that is in Africa persuading governments to impose the death penalty on Christians. And, oh yeah, the Obama administration demanded that Iran reverse the death penalty on that Christian pastor — not that demanding Iran do anything ever works. I suppose you think Obama should bomb them for it? Oh wait, but you’ve already said that if we keep Obama in office, we’ll be using nuclear weapons in no time. Mmm. Project much?

And to answer my own question, yeah, it indeed appears that half the country is a bunch of blithering idiots. With no shortage of monsters ready and willing to take advantage of that.