Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What are they accusing Obama of this week?

Well, we all knew it was coming. Obama's a socialist, he's a Muslim, he's an illegal alien - they're struggling for whatever they can find on him. And some of us knew it was all they had left. And Fox News finally went there.

Fox News wants you to know that Barack Obama is a Satanist!!!

Actually, it's like they're travelling backwards in time with their smears. "He's a terrorist!" - that's the latest boogieman. Then "he's a socialist!" - which is like something out of 1950's McCarthyism. And then where to they end up? "He's a witch! Burn him!" - straight out of the Middle Ages. (I'm not sure where to file "He's a Muslim!" - that's not only the current most-scary-guy-on-the-block, it's also a fear straight out of the Crusades. So that one covers both ends of the temporal spectrum.)

It's not like there wasn't some very strong foreshadowing on this. The antichrist email is still floating around out there, after all, despite its obvious stupidity.

The columnist, James Pinkerton, dives straight into it, so you know the thrust of his article.
Could Lucifer play a role in this presidential election? It may sound crazy, but one of the candidates in this race has publicly praised, even emulated, a writer-activist who himself paid tribute to Lucifer. That's right, Lucifer, also known as the Devil, Satan, Beelzebub—you get the idea.
So you can probably guess that he's got some strong evidence, right? I mean, you don't want to just make unsubstantiated allegations under your own byline, do you? Not if you've got any self-respect. Or ethics. But of course, he works for Fox, so what do you expect?
OK, you might be asking, where is this Lucifer stuff coming from? It comes from a man named Saul Alinsky, who devoted his life to left-wing agitation in Chicago. He also wrote two seminal books, "Reveille for Radicals" and "Rules for Radicals," still regarded as key how-to manuals for left-wing activists.

But Alinsky was more than just a leftist; he was a genuine out-there crazy, someone who loved to shock and stun, just for the helluvit. And so in the first edition of "Rules for Radicals," published in 1971, he offered this astounding dedication: "Lest we forget at least an over the shoulder acknowledgement of the very first radical, from all our legends, mythology, and history … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom—Lucifer."

This dedication is no secret. David Freddoso wrote about it in his book, "The Case Against Barack Obama: The Unlikely Rise and Unexamined Agenda of the Media's Favorite Candidate;" and the inimitable Ann Coulter noted it, too, just last month.

And the connection between Alinsky and Barack Obama—and Alinsky and the left in general—is real enough. As John Fund, author of a newly revised book, "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy," observes, Alinsky, who died in 1972, was a sort of godfather to all the activist groups that emerged in the 60s and 70s, the most famous (or, if you prefer, notorious) of which today is ACORN.

Fund notes that young Hillary Rodham was such a fan of Alinsky that she traveled to Chicago, four times, to interview him for an adulatory school thesis she was writing. And Obama is an on-the-record fan too: Fund quotes The Washington Post's Peter Slevin, writing in 2007, "Obama embraced many of Alinsky's tactics and recently said his years as an organizer gave him the best education of his life." Slevin further noted that Obama’s and Hillary Rodham Clinton's "common connection to Alinsky is one of the striking aspects of their biographies."

OK, so the Alinsky-Obama connection is real.
Please note that there are no ellipses there. That's uncut from the article; I'm taking nothing out of context. That's also the entirety of his "proof"

So, to summarize:
1. There once was a radical in Chicago.
2. He made a weird dedication in a book.
3. Barack may have read that book.
4. Therefore, Barack worshipped at the feet of Saul Alinsky, known Satanist.

Is it just me, or are there a few steps missing from that equation?

I couldn't help myself. I read the "response" pages to this wonderful exercise in illogic, and posted. Several times. (You'll find my stuff under "Bill M" - but it links here, so you'll know it's mine. Probably.) But you know what? It's really not satisfying. For one thing, the garbage they're spewing is so easy to cut down - to mix my metaphors further, it's like shooting fish in a wading pool.

(Come on -- who owns barrels anymore? Get real.)

And there's no real feedback. I like a good argument, but with Fox, if they don't agree with you, they just ignore you. I mean, I debunked, I questioned, I even called one guy an idiot. And nothing. There were bits of humor. For example, there was this one guy, who posted 3 comments in a row. No breaks, just the following:
Comment by M
October 28th, 2008 at 9:06 pm
Prayer to Our Lady is far mightier than the devil's power!

Comment by M
October 28th, 2008 at 9:01 pm
Ever notice how an Obama supporter cackles (like the devil) then proceeds to go ad hominem against you?

Comment by M
October 28th, 2008 at 8:59 pm
People that vote for Obama, God preserve them, are committed to the devil.
So, having read all the scary-religious stuff that came before, I wrote:
Comment by Bill M
October 28th, 2008 at 10:40 pm

Hey… uh, "M" (no relation, incidentally)… you know that as a Catholic, several of the people who posted here think that you're an idol-worshipper and a papist, and that you're going to hell too, right? (That "prayer to Our Lady" thing? It’s kind of a clue.) I just thought I’d point this out, in case you missed it.

Personally, I've got no problem with you, but this is a discussion I've been in already. I thought I'd warn you that there are those, especially the ones who go all overboard about "end times" or "Rapture" (or maybe the ones who've been blessed by the Kenyan Inquisition against witches) - yeah, if you let them get in charge, your life won't get any better.
And sure enough, four posts later, just to prove my point, we get this:
Comment by ohplease
October 29th, 2008 at 12:07 am
argggggggggggh … I totally cringe reading this "prayer to our lady" stuff !!!!!!!!!

The bible clearly states that NONE OTHER THAN GOD ONLY IS TO BE WORSHIPPED !
get off the blasphemies ! Mary was a jewish girl who conceived, carried and birthed Jesus … that was her quest !!! Nowhere does the bible write, teach, suggest or insist that she be "worshipped" !
Irony is a wonderful thing.

So anyway, I thought I'd write Mr Pinkerton directly.
From: [me]
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:45 AM
To: [him]
Subject: The Devil Is In the Details: Another Obama...

Dear Mr. Pinkerton,

I read your article regarding Barack Obama's connection to Saul Alinsky, and I have a couple of questions.

Are you serious about this article? Really? Because it's a long way from April Fools Day. And you actually put your name on this drivel?

Give me a break. "A guy who died when Obama was 11 put a weird dedication in a book, and Obama might or might not have read it!" Are you at least a little bit ashamed of this kind of bottom-feeding?

I'm just curious. Thank you for your time,

Bill M (Albuquerque, NM)
And surprisingly enough, he actually responded.
From: [him]
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:32 AM
To: [me]
Subject: re: The Devil Is In the Details: Another Obama...

Dear Bill:

What did I write in the article that was not true?

I think that if the McCain campaign had highlighted Obama’s Alinsky connection, Obama would then have lost votes. Do you disagree?


Jim Pinkerton
So, dutiful seeker after truth that I am, I responded to that.
Re: The Devil Is In the Details: Another Obama...
Sent:Tue 10/28/08 1:17 AM
To: [him]


Well, let's see. Your entire argument for a connection is "There's this radical and organizer. It doesn't matter if he died when Obama was 11, they were both in Chicago at some point during their lives. They never met, but Obama might have read one of his books. Books which have nothing to do with Satanism, but one of which has an odd dedication to Lucifer, in his role as dissident. Therefore, Obama knew a Satan-worshipper."

Admittedly, that was not stated explicitly in your article, but that is exactly what you want to imply. That Obama is responsible for the personal lives of every person he's ever met, or in this case, someone who worked in a similar field, in the same approximate geographic location.

To answer the second of your questions, yes, I disagree. Obama would not have lost votes, because anyone who would believe that drivel would already not be voting for him. And McCain would have looked like a fool.

To quote your article:

And Obama is an on-the-record fan too: Fund quotes The Washington Post's Peter Slevin, writing in 2007, "Obama embraced many of Alinsky's tactics and recently said his years as an organizer gave him the best education of his life." Slevin further noted that Obama's and Hillary Rodham Clinton's "common connection to Alinsky is one of the striking aspects of their biographies."

If you're paying attention, you note that at no point has Obama met Alinsky, nor is there even evidence that he read any of Alinsky's books. "Embraced many of Alinsky's tactics"? They were in similar fields (a community organizer versus a community disorganizer, essentially), and getting a lot of people to work together, regardless of the outcome, will always have similar tactics.

I think that my argument with you boils down to two simple questions (and I'll even give each a subsidiary question).

1. Was Alinsky a Satanist?
a. Do you really believe that?

2. What evidence do you have that Obama has studied Alinsky, knew Alinsky, or did anything but walk down the same street twenty years later? (And you'd probably have to dig to figure that out, anyway.)
a. Do you believe that the spirit of Alinsky has possessed Barack Obama?

You have taken the most tenuous of connections, and attempted to conflate them in such a way as to inflame the under-educated and unthinking. And so, to answer your first question (in my roundabout way) the basic thesis of your article was a lie. And if you want me to point out a specific falsehood, I'll probably have to go with your statement "OK, so the Alinsky-Obama connection is real." Because you have shown no real evidence that it was.

Thank you for your time,

But it's been two days, and no further response.

Sadly, a lot of my correspondence seems to end that way.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More on Concerts

I've been to two concerts this week: on Thursday, I worked security at Tingley Colliseum for Metallica's Death Metallic tour (you know they put out a new album, right? They had to make up for St Anger somehow...), and then, last night, I actually went to a concert as an audience member, for B.B. King's One Kind Favor tour.

(I don't know what I should call my daughter in this format - Nicole? Jane? So I'm just going to call her Fred.)

Anyway, Fred bought me tickets to B.B. King for my birthday, because apparently she loves me more than the rest of my family put together. (She's now officially my favorite daughter. Not that the bar is particularly high in that area, but still...)

The two concerts were complete opposites of each other.

Metallica had two opening acts, Down and The Sword. It's a shame about them. I wouldn't say that either one sucked more than the other one - they were about equal. I'm sure that there are people out there who like them; I just wasn't impressed.

Sword has released two albums and gets called crap like "doom metal." One of their songs ("Freya") was covered in Guitar Hero II, (what, one of the most popular video game franchises in America couldn't afford the original band? You take that as a loss leader, guys, just for the extra advertising); they get compared to early Black Sabbath a lot, and that might be relatively true. They put a lot of Norse mythology in their songs, which would be cool, if I was still 17 and playing D&D.

Down has been around for almost 20 years now. You'd think they'd be better. After three albums, with a group made up of former members from all over the heavy metal scene, it would be nice if these guys didn't sound like every other metal band out there.

Metallica, however, did their usual incredible job. I was posted at the top of the colliseum, guarding a bunch of doors that led backstage, and for once, I had a perfect view of the stage. Tingley is built so you can see from anywhere, and my perch looked right down on everything.

Tingley also has the usual crappy plastic chairs, except for the cheap seats, which are plain wooden benches with numbers painted on them (to show what piece of real estate you paid to plant your butt on). I was right above the cheap seats, but like I said, there really aren't any bad seats for a view in Tingley - you have to admire the builders for that.

I had earplugs (you have to if you're going to a concert every week, unless you want to go deaf - and then I couldn't hear the bands, and what would be the point of working security? It isn't like they pay me that much), and I was up against the back wall, and I could still feel the music in my bones. The walls were literally vibrating - whenever I leaned back, I could feel the steel putting out sympathetic vibrations. And Metallica was down there on stage kicking ass: they had lasers, they had these huge, coffin-shaped light setups hanging above the stage, and they had a bank of flame jets under the floor (and you could feel the heat all the way back where I was when those went off).

The crowd was the usual tats-and-piercings metal crowd, mostly drunk (or otherwise chemically-enhanced): there was a group of four chubby drunks near me who insisted on waving their arms around - I was told that they hit a couple of the people around them, so I had to warn them that they were going to get kicked out if it happened again. But they'd pretty much worn themselves out on the opening acts; two of them disappeared, and the other two fell asleep on the benches during Metallica's set. (And how the hell do you sleep through Metallica? Hetfield should have them kicked out of the fan club or something...)

Kids these days - no endurance. You have to learn to pace yourself.

But then last night, my son and I went to the Route 66 Casino to see B.B. King. Now, to get to the casino, you get on the highway and drive west. Then, when you think that you've gone too far, you drive a little farther west. Mapquest thinks it's about five miles out of town, because Mapquest is kind of stupid sometimes. About four miles away from the casino, you can see it. And last night, about two miles away from the casino, we got in line with all the other cars, and crept along the shoulder of the road at between five and 15 miles an hour, until we gradually pulled up to the casino.

Here's a hint - if you're going to a reasonably popular concert at Route 66, there's a frontage road about thirty yards away from the highway, and the guys on that do full speed. Plus, the exit from the highway at the casino empties on that very same frontage road after a stop sign; so, when you take the frontage road, you miss all the traffic, you have the right of way, and you get to feel all superior to the fools on the highway. There's all kinds of benefits to figuring out which exit would get you to that chunk of pavement - maybe someday I'll figure that one out.

Here's how the concert last night was different from every other concert I've been to recently.

First, nobody got searched going in; apparently, the B.B. King crowd isn't likely to pull knives and start cutting each other. Then there's the chairs - instead of crappy plastic stadium seats or benches, you've got stuffed, comfortable chairs wide enough for a chubby gambler to have plenty of room for his doublewide ass cheeks. The temperature was comfortable, the sound quality was great, and it was just generally the right way to see a show.

Now, B.B. travels with his band (called, weirdly enough, the "B.B. King Blues Band") and they're just awe-inspiring. They came out on stage first: bass guitar, keyboardist, drummer, guitarist, and a three-man horn section (the trumpeter was also the band leader). They were as close to an opening act as Mr. King has - hey, at 83, you don't want to be up until midnight. (Hell, at half his age, I can understand the feeling...) They played a song or two, and then B.B. took the stage.

The first thing you notice is the jacket. Everybody on stage was wearing black tuxedos, but B.B. had a silver snake-skin suit coat to go with his. But at 83, battling diabetes and bad knees, I guess he can dress however he wants to.

I have to admit, I was a little worried at first. With the horn section and everybody, it sounded kind of like his band might be covering for him. And the other guitarist had a very similar playing style. But then, after a bunch of songs (including a tarted-up version of "When Love Comes To Town" that he did with U2), the horns left the stage, and they did the second set. And that's where B.B. let Lucille really cut loose.

(Lucille, in case you don't know, is the name of B.B.'s guitar. During the 1950's, B.B. was playing a show where two men got in a fight, knocked over a kerosene stove, and set fire to the place. B.B. realized that he'd left his guitar inside, and ran back into the burning building to get it. "Lucille," it turned out, was the name of the woman the men had been fighting over. Since then, B.B. has named every one of his guitars Lucille, to remind him never to fight over a woman.)

The show was a lot more relaxed than, say, a Metallica concert. B.B. sat up there on stage cracking jokes, telling stories, and playing some of the most amazing blues music in the world. He did all of his old songs, he did some old blues standards, and he even threw in an extended audience singalong to "You Are My Sunshine." And he did stuff off his new album; at one point, he explained that his children didn't like the title of his new album, which is taken from an old Blind Lemon Jefferson song that he covers in it: "One kind favor that I'll ask of you: see that my grave is kept clean."

I don't know how many years B.B. has left, but his playing is still sharp. I'm damned grateful I got the chance to see him this year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This Election? The Choices Are Black and White...

There's a dark cloud rolling over the Right Wing, and forecasters suggest storms may be brewing.

Sarah Palin, with her support of creationism, her populist rhetoric and her continued references to "Joe Sixpack" is appealing to a continuing strain of anti-intellectualism that can be found very strongly in a certain class of American citizen: lower income, poorly educated, racist white people.

Sarah Palin speaks before crowds and whips them into a frenzy. Not by being inspiring, but by promoting hate:
Barack Obama, she told 8,000 fans at a rally here Monday afternoon, "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist!" This followed her earlier accusation that the Democrat pals around with terrorists. "This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America," she told the Clearwater crowd. "I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." The crowd replied with boos.
As she launches these attacks, the Republican campaign is trying to limit the access of reporters to Palin's followers.
Constantly under the watchful eyes of security, the media wasn't permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park to talk to Sarah Palin supporters. When reporters tried to leave the designated press area... an escort would dart out of nowhere and confront him or her and say, "Can I help you?" and turn the person around.
But even with these efforts, the reaction of Palin's followers is becoming public.
In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
Veiled racism has a long history in Republican election tactics.
Race was the blueprint for the Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond, Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater. They used it to create the “Southern Strategy” employed by neoconservatives and neo-Confederates today.

It's why presidential candidate Ronald Reagan spoke in 1980 about "states’ rights" in Philadelphia, Miss. — the place where civil rights activists Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were killed and buried in the ’60s.

It’s why then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and campaign strategist Dick Morris ran in 1990 their notorious ad with the white hands of an actor crumpling up an application for a job that he lost because of “racial quotas.”

It’s what then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was conveying in 2002 when he told a Thurmond birthday gathering, “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either.”
And the racist meme has spread widely thoughout the Republican party during this election as well. GOP politicians keep using racially loaded words like “uppity,” whether referring to Obama and his wife, or a black reporter. (The first recorded use of “uppity,” incidentally, is found in Uncle Remus, in case you were wondering.) And the direct line between “elitist” and uppity isn't hard to draw at all.

The racially loaded terms are everywhere: a Palin ad talked about Obama not being “respectful” enough to her; Geoff Davis (R-Kentucky) saying of Obama “That boy's finger does not need to be on the button.” A College Republican leader had to quit after saying that Obama has“a pair of lips so large he could float half of Cuba to the shores of Miami (and probably would).” At a conservative political forum, boxes of “Obama Waffles” were sold with a caricature of Obama obviously referencing Aunt Jemima.

People working for the Obama campaign report repeated racist comments and threats. There have long been reports of vandalism, but obervers are now fearing outbreaks of violence.

And now, it seems that McCain has lost control of his own followers. McCain and Palin are both interrupted when they mention Obama by cries of “terrorist,” and occasionally, “kill him!” And in one of his own town hall rallies, as people kept asking about Obama being a terrorist, a Muslim or an “Arab,” McCain found himself being booed simply for suggesting that Obama was an honorable man with whom McCain disagreed (video for that here).

Andrew Sullivan, in the Atlantic, put it this way:
McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a "secret" terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.

But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.
As Obama said in an Ohio rally, “nothing's easier than riling up a crowd by stoking anger and division.” But it seems that anger and divisiveness are the only weapons that the Republican campaign has left.


Update: And as if someone were trying to support my charges of racism in the Palin camp, we find this:
As the crowd cheered at a Sarah Palin rally this morning in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a man in the audience grinned as he held up a stuffed monkey doll with a Barack Obama bumper sticker wrapped across its forehead...

After Palin finished her remarks this morning, the man holding the stuffed monkey seemed to notice that a video camera was pointed at him, at which point he removed the Obama sticker from the doll’s head and crumpling it up in his hand. He then handed the doll to a young boy who was watching the rally from his father’s shoulders. The boy’s parents later told CBS News that they weren’t acquainted with the man who gave their son the stuffed monkey.
Check out the link - they even have video. Of course, you could probably have seen this coming months ago, if you'd looked. This is simply a mirror of the Obama sock monkeys.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Semper Fi

My son joined the Marines. I don't know what to think about that, except that I don't like it.

That feels almost hypocritical, but there it is. My father was in the Army, and his father before him. I spent 21 years in the Air Force. I carried a gun for the entire time (except for the last year, when I got a nice cushy office job). I was in the Security Forces, which are, to the Air Force, what the infantry is to the Army. We guard planes, we guard nukes, and we train to kill people.

I helped set up an elite Terrorist Response Force, using specialized weapons and tactics to kill anyone who might take control of one of the missile silos, or a nuclear convoy rolling between them. I went to various ground combat schools, and learned entertaining ways to make people stop living. I spent two tours in the Middle East, waiting to kill someone before they tried to kill us.

I never had to shoot anyone anyone, although I spent long periods looking through my sites, waiting to see if I was going to be gunning down somebody. And I trained to kill. I waited for the opportunity, thought about doing it, and knew that I could when the opportunity came up. "Deadly force" (the nice, clean military euphemism for putting a bullet into another human) is supposed to be the last option, but it always needs to be an option. If you think about what you're doing (and I did), you have to make peace with that.

I think that the problem is a matter of motive and opportunity, more than anything else. I trained to keep people from stealing our engines of war. To keep terrorists from getting a nuclear weapon. To defend lives. I trained to kill for a reason.

But if my son, the boy whose diapers I changed, who I helped through skinned knees and broken bones, gets sent to Iraq or Afghanistan as a Marine, he will be there because George Bush invaded a country on false pretenses. Took us to war on a lie, and made people hate us enough to want to kill us.

There were terrorists before – 9/11 was proof of that. But there weren't as many as there are now, and they weren't as well trained, and they didn't have this hot, burning hatred of us that comes from the people of a land looking at their invaders.

Some of them wanted to kill us for our religion, some because of various reasons, but when George Bush lied to us and we invaded Iraq, he created a whole new game. He created people who wanted to kill us because we invaded their land, killed and tortured their people, threw their lives into chaos, and destroyed everything that they had built up over their lifetimes.

They don't hate us for our freedoms, as he so incoherently said; they hate us because we took away theirs. Their way of life may have been different from ours; their government may not have mirrored ours; but it was their life, their government, their civilization, and we destroyed it.

George Bush has bred generations of people who will want to kill us, not for any tenuous, inchoate philosophy, but because of what we did to them. They want to kill us in exactly the same way that I would want to kill them if they invaded my country, destroyed my life, tore down my government (flawed though it may be).

And now my son, if John McCain wins this next election, is going to have a good chance of being sent to a country where he will have to kill people, who are doing exactly what I would be doing in their place.

Luke explained that he “wanted to make a difference,” and felt that the Marines would allow him to do just that.

He's always been pigheaded that way. He gets a thought into his brain, and you can't get it out with a crowbar. I thought I'd taught him about the world, but apparently I didn't teach him enough.

I didn't teach him that if there was one thing he didn't want to do right now, it was join the Marines.

I didn't teach him (I thought I did) that evil people have taken over our government, and have done evil things for worthless reasons.

I never pressed him on how he thought he was going to “make a difference.” I should have. I should have yelled at him. I should have screamed. I should have talked to him until I was blue in the face. It wouldn't have made any difference, but that's what I should have done.

He's 22. I couldn't stop him.

I have another son. Somehow, that doesn't help; I don't feel better that I have a spare in case the first one blows out (or in this case, up).

Luke may easily be killed. He may be injured in ways I don't want to contemplate. He may only have to do things that will haunt his dreams for the rest of his life, like gunning down children who might be carrying bombs, or women who hope for a better life for their children (having given up on getting one for themselves).

He might not. He might easily spend his entire enlistment far away from any danger. But he might just as easily be sent right into the worst part of the world. And if John McCain is elected, with his mindless worldview and neocon advisors, the “worst part of the world” could easily expand to include Iran, or Syria, or the entire Middle East.

Don't get me wrong. I'm amazingly proud of my son. He's doing what he thinks is right. But I hate that he will be doing it for the wrong people and the wrong reasons. That he's going into a tunnel that he might never come out of, or might never walk upright again if he does.

Apparently, I have very strong feelings about ambivalence.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Flame Wars IV: the junk mail continues (updated)

This stuff is mind-boggling. You never know what floodgates you're going to open up with something simple like the use of the "Reply all" button. (The whole saga starts here.) The maroons are coming out of the closet a lot faster than Larry Craig, and they're relentless. I continue repeating my mantra that if they don't want to hear it, they don't have to. ("Hey, you guys call me. All I'm going to do is reply. I don't start anything, I just respond to you.")

Kyle, of course, having started all this, is salivating like some kind of caged puma, stalking back and forth, yelling about what a badass he is. And his friends get angry and jump up and down in stampy-feet anger, and I get to keep pointing out where they've been drinking the Kool-aid for too long.

If this goes on much longer, I'm going to have to open a sub-blog just for this stuff.

Anyway, I opened my email yesterday, and find a series of five emails, each one hitting "reply all" in some kind of incestuous daisy chain of support. (Considering that most of these guys are from North Carolina, Louisiana and Alabama, there's a lot of irony in the phrase "incestuous," actually...) Which means that the easiest way to reprint it is just go with the most current one. Here's what I saw.

(Again, I'm not going to correct anything except the unusual spacing and fondness for changing font sizes - always larger. And actually, this correction makes Garrett look a lot more literate than he actually comes across, if you ignore the blatant racism, but that's fine with me; I also cut out this weird habit he has of punctuating with between two and six sets of ellipses - you know, three periods each. I have no idea why he'd think that was cool, but for the interests of space, I'm replacing them all with double dashes.)
From: Mac A---
It sounds to me like you are on the wrong bandwagon. The last time a checked from this e-mail list it is Senator McCain10 Barack 0.
From: kimmel
And I’ll second this one!
From: Kyle
I tried to tell you Billy (you dumbass) YOU MESS WITH THE BULL, YOU GET THE HORNS. You are a waste of taxpayers money you Barney Fife Wanna Be BITCH!!!!!!!!
From: Garett G
I would like to apologize for not joining this debate earlier. Time has not been on my side these last few weeks. I do believe that it is my American responsibility to keep boneheads like you from spreading their political BS. I’m obviously not for the clown --.nor for the principles he promotes.

I own my company -- I employ people -- I pay my fair share of taxes -- I vote in every election -- And the bottom line is that this election has 2 sticking points for me:
1. National Security
2. Money(Taxes & Economy)

While I would love to put up numerous points about our national security -- I have to go to work-- Billy Boy -- please just do acknowledge one thing for me -- The US has enemies -- Can we agree on this? Would you agree that North Korea, Iran, etc-- that we have enemies?

Do you realize that -- a nuclear bomb that can fit inside of a suitcase -- if blown up on the steps of the White House would kill approximately 400,000 people? Do you not see the threat from these raghead boneheads? Not to mention -- it’s the same boneheads that get a enormous chunk of our money(about 700,000,000,000 Billion -- “in doctor evil voice”) that is sent overseas every year for energy imports -- thanks to the boneheads back in the states that support the tree huggers from keeping the US from exploring our own natural resources.

Energy Security: Sorry -- another good topic I’ll debate you into the ground -- but not enough time -- I will however attach a interesting article.
Uh, actually, he didn't.

It’s sad to see -- that Obama plays on people who are LAZY -- Billy Boy are you lazy? I saw you said you were a cop -- now I think cops are a real respectable guys -- other than the “Small Man Syndrome-Donut Eating-Bitichin Cause he doesn’t make enough money.” Are you one of those? Hope not -- hope you were a cop for the right reasons -- to serve your people -- to make your neighborhood a safer place and to continue this great country the way it should be.
He's not entirely clear on the "military" portion of "military police," but I figured I could let that go.
Back to my lazy point -- Obama’s biggest pitch is to tax the rich and redistribute to the poor -- well I’m sorry but that pisses me off!!!! Why do I have to work my ass off to redistribute that money to the dead weight of society -- I don’t mind helping people in need -- BUT I CAN’T STAND HELPING THOSE WHO DON’T HELP THEMSELVES.

Here’s an excerpt from the Tax Policy Center:
He reprinted the entire chart. I'll cut it for space. I'm guessing that he misread it, too.
It was also found on

So billy boy--how do you expect me to vote for someone that is for raising my taxes and redistributing my money? How is the economy going to do better -- if everyone has less money after uncle sam takes his?

Did you take economics? Do you understand the principles of capitalism? If you do -- you should enlighten your candidate. And that my friend--in why I will vote and support: John McCain for President 2008

sign up -- order your yard sign -- and lets beat down the opponent!!!!!!!!
So, being a big old pain in the ass, I replied.
Well, I suppose I should start from the top.

I can't be on the wrong bandwagon. I didn't join this little email group on my own. Kyle felt I needed to get emails full of lies, and I debunked them for him. Kyle isn't real bright, and isn't real original, but at least he's stubborn. If you'll look, you'll notice that I never instigated a single email, I just hit "reply."

If you don't want me to tell the truth about these urban legends you send out, don't include me. But if you do, then when you lie, I'll call you on it.

Yeah, speaking of bandwagons...

Jesus, but you're a moron. I've already explained this to you. You aren’t a bull, you're a steer. Learn the difference. And tighten your helmet - I'm telling you, you keep hitting your head, you're going to start wetting yourself more often.

Well, thank God for you. I may disagree with you on just about every point, but at least you seem to think about things a little.

Let's consider your two "sticking points."

National Security:
- Yes, I agree that the US has enemies. More now than we had eight years ago, for that matter. (By the way, only an idiot is going to be unwilling to try negotiations with other countries, even an "enemy." Why do you people seem to think that "no" isn't a possible answer for a negotiation?)

- How is an army supposed to stop terrorists, who, by definition are small groups? It takes police work - look it up, that's how every recent "victory" has been earned.

- Try looking at Iraq from the opposite point of view for a second. What would you do if America was invaded? What if a foreign army came in, blew the crap out of everything, and then set up camp. Would you fight? Would you do everything in your power to kick those bastards out? Well, that's how the Iraqi's feel. Consider it for a few seconds, and then tell me how you ever expect us to "win" there. They won't stop any faster than you would.

- Keep that last point in mind when you start thinking about invading any other country. Pakistan, North Korea, doesn't matter. They'll all react the same way.

- By the way, how the hell are we supposed to afford to invade anywhere? Have you looked at the stock market lately?

- Incidentally, do you remember two years ago, when the United Arab Emirates were going to buy our ports? Bush wanted to let it happen, and Congress finally got together on something and kept him from doing it. Yeah, the point you're forgetting is that McCain thought that it was a good idea for "those raghead boneheads" (your words) to have control of our ports? And Barack Obama spoke out against it. His statement at the time:

"Over four years after the worst terrorist attack in our history, not only are we failing to inspect 95% of the cargo that arrives at U.S. ports, but now we're allowing our port security to be outsourced to foreign governments. Clearly, more time should have been spent investigating this deal and consulting with homeland security experts and local officials. I support my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are seeking a full review of this deal."

So who is it who shows better judgment on national security again?

- "Energy Security" - How many times do we need to go over this? Offshore drilling is, at best, a microscopic solution for the far future. According to Department of Energy analysis, offshore drilling would:

~~ Lead to a 1.2 cent reduction in gasoline prices.
~~ Provide 1 percent of today’s US oil demand and 0.25 percent of global demand (about 200,000 barrels per day of production compared to 20 million barrels/day of US demand and 80 million barrels/day of global demand)
~~ And it would do this by 2030.

How does this help us again?

OK. You bring up the same tax table that I showed Kyle. I'm guessing that you know that 95% of Americans will do better under the Obama tax plan than under the McCain plan.

Are you making over $200,000 a year? IRS data shows that 97% of filers make less than that. Are you in that top 3%?

Well, if you are, I have a question for you. You have to know that we're in a war, right? I mean, you brought it up, so you probably understand the concept. Well, are you aware that, in every other war in history, all of America gave up a little cash to support the war effort? I mean, let's be real. In WWII, people were scrounging tin cans for the war effort, buying bonds, and accepting higher taxes, all to defeat the Enemy. George Bush is the first president to try to run a war on credit cards and bad debt. And McCain admits that he voted with Bush 90% of the time.

In fact, let's go one better. First of all, let's break one quick myth - a lot of people are trying to blame the failure of the housing market on bad loans that were made because of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. Business Week explained that this was a lie. (Please, try to tell me that Business Week is part of the "liberal media" - I dare you.)

Now, the experts are telling us that the stock market is failing because of deregulation - because George Bush made sure that there weren't any rules that lenders had to follow, lenders took advantage of the situation, and everything went to hell. (That's the short version. Doesn't make it any less true.)

OK, despite what he wants to claim these days, McCain has always favored less regulation in the market. He'll lie about it now, but he's always supported deregulation. That's not the worst of it, though. Do you remember the S&L scandals in the 80's and early 90's? Do you remember Charles Keating? He was one of the worst offenders in the Savings and Loan scandals in the 80's, which were caused by deregulation in the Savings and Loan business. And he had five congressmen who were indicted with him - they were even called the "Keating 5."

One of them was a man named John McCain.

Now, McCain only got a slap on the wrist, and then he went on to become a "reformer." But he never tried to reform the banking industry. He never tried to support better consumer protection. All he did was to try and reform election financing. (In fact, he became known for creating a set of laws called "McCain-Feingold," which, by the way, he couldn't even follow during this election. Just so you know.)

So, McCain was involved in the S&L scandal, which was caused by the same philosophy that caused the current crisis. And he never did a damned thing to fix those problems.

How did he show better financial judgment again? I'm just curious.

But, hey, take care of yourself.


Update: So, it's been three days, and the yapping Republican corgis and chihuahuas seemed to have sullenly backed off. So, what have we learned?

Well, I didn't learn much. I'm just the stubborn type of asshole who'll be happy to do it again. As for Kyle, I doubt he learned a damned thing. The rest of them? Probably not - except maybe to be more careful who they include in their email chains. So overall, there was a net result of zero here.

However, on the same day that I posted this last bit, a right-wing shill at the Washington Post discovered just how toxic and evil the partisanship has gotten on the right. She begins:
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a dumpster, but since she didn't, I should "off" myself.

Those are a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn't deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I'm familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.
Hey, welcome to the club, lady. This is something that some of us have known about for some time. And it's a problem that is almost entirely one-sided, from the Right. (I heard left-wing talk-show host Randi Rhodes try to say that she'd gotten the same treatment from the Left, but she got fired because, in the words of the president of Air America, Mark Green, "her abusive, obscene comments obviously crossed the line of what talent at a media company could say." Not quite the same thing at all. (I love Randi Rhodes, but she's wrong here.)

Our friends the Republicans possess a vast well of untapped hate, and they're happy to drop a bucket into it and spray you with the results. I'm not sure why - maybe it's the result of buying into Bush's constant stream of fear politics, or maybe it's some weird artifact left over from the Vietnam era. But the Right is busy drowning in hate, fear and ignorance. Their party needs a massive makeover and soon, or they're likely to implode.