xenologer: (I have arrived)
I've been following my local occupation protest, and have found it really fulfilling and energizing so far. I haven't been posting much by way of updates here because I do my organizing on Facebook for the most part these days. It's not inherently better for it, but for whatever reason that's been more effective, so I have concentrated my energies there.

MY CONTRIBUTION

What I've been doing during the Indy occupation's first week is what a lot of supporters have been doing: waiting to be told what they need. I know they speak for me, and I trust the people I know and have spoken to personally to be getting the issues discussed that I care about and considering solutions I'll find acceptable. What I didn't know was what I could possibly do to help. I contributed financially to the Wall Street Occupation because I know not everyone can. I offered at the medical tent at our kick-off rally to buy necessary supplies that hadn't been donated, because I was short on time but can financially do what a lot of them can't: pay for things.

Yesterday a friend told me that they needed notebooks and pens to take proper minutes at the meetings. I showed up with them, at the actual "let's be here round the clock" occupation for the first time, and asked to whom I should give them. Who's taking minutes?

Someone laughed and said, "You are!" I laughed and did it.

So that's how it worked. If you see a need and when you ask, it's not immediately apparent who is doing it, do it. I took minutes, and it felt great. I'm going back tonight specifically because I'm a good note-taker and I'll be able to get them posted online quickly. That will help keep the ground shifts and internet arms of the Indy occupation in communication with one another.

You can guess which of these made me feel like I was more a part of things.

Now, I can think of ways for us to make it easier for people to pitch in. We need to inventory our supplies, and if nobody has done that, I can do it tonight. That way we'll know what we have and what we still need. We need to streamline the way that the various working groups talk within the group and make the various discussions more orderly to follow than FB groups will allow, so I am hoping to help with a message board that gives each of our many working groups a subforum where their threads won't be dicked around by Facebook's scrolling format.

I have figured out how to find things to do, and my intended contribution is to spoonfeed those opportunities to people who haven't learned that yet. It's what I was waiting for someone to do for me at the start, which is my motivation to see that it's done for the next people.

BUT WHAT DO WE WANT?

There is still a lot of talk in the media right now about how the occupation movements are a fucking mysterious directionless mob that has no idea what it wants because they haven't presented a list of unified demands for everyone in it.

People who ask this are missing the point. I have been talking to people on Facebook who are confused that there's no bumper sticker statement that they can decide whether to sign onto or not. They want to know exactly what's been determined to be the priority of the movement before they go down and get involved. This is a reasonable desire, and it's the best idea when dealing with top-down sorts of organizations where priorities are announced and members can either sign on or join elsewhere.

That's not what this is, though.

If you want something specific and you aren't sure whether your local occupation is going to agree to push for it, then the solution is not to sit at home and wait to see what the attendees have decided.

For people who want a specific list of demands:

I can speak for many in my local General Assembly, I think, when I say that one reason a list of demands has not come out is that the specific things we want are enormous things like, "Stop letting corporate money influence elections." Rather than make that list and camp out until we get it, my General Assembly is talking about educating people about the problems in our electoral system, because frankly a lot of people do not even know yet.

How can we get people behind a list of demands if they:

A: Don't know the problem, and
B: Don't realize that decision-making could happen any other way than by having a list of options that all serve corporate interests more than our own?

We're teaching people about what money can do (and shouldn't do) in our country, and we're teaching them how direct democracy and consensus work.

I don't know what your General Assembly is doing, but if you don't like how they're handling themselves, I suggest you show up there to vote.
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
Dear Apathetic and Cynical Democrats:

If anybody screws up our momentum and advantage, it's going to be you. You're sitting there, wallowing in your learned helplessness, telling yourself that you already worked hard, and it didn't make everything all better. Can't you just sit this one out? You'll have the bonus of being right about yourselves: you can't do anything, nothing that you manage to do will matter, and nothing that you do which matters will last.

I don't want that. Do you? Maybe. Does it have to be that way? No. You were laying groundwork before, and you were laying it for this. You think it won't make a difference whether you work to get more Democrats in office or not? You think it won't? Why? It did last time. Six months ago we got the first piece of our health care reform passed, and a lot of it goes into effect today. Right before the mid-term election, things have changed.

Health Care Reform Changes Effective Today
Starting today, for example, insurers won't be able to exclude children from coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Rescission, which led to many Americans losing their coverage when they needed it most, is forbidden. Young people can now stay on their parents' plan until age 26. Preventive care -- including colonoscopies, mammograms, and immunizations -- must now be covered without co-payments.

Republicans intend to take all of this away, of course, and will fight tooth and nail next year if voters reward them with a majority.


For more details, the White House has a website dedicated to the new law, and you can probably find some good stuff in there.

I'm posting this as a reminder to everybody that this, new credit card regulations, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Tribal Law and Order Act, and a host of other things are why you guys need to get up off your asses and make sure that the Republicans don't take back the House this November. The few small reforms we've managed to get done are all things that they hate, and they absolutely will take them away if we invite them in the door. You know it and I know it.

About the Democratic candidates, and about us: )

Tired.

Feb. 4th, 2010 10:36 pm
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
Work was unusually difficult today. I kept expecting the Elite Beat Agents to show up any fucking second.

Yes. It was that bad.

Ah, well. I know I'm good at this, so I just have to hang in there. Last week's paid vacation will be on this week's paycheck, so I know on Wednesday I'll at least be getting a few hundred dollars.

I just have to keep telling myself, "If it wasn't hard, I wouldn't be doing it."

Just remember! Consumer rights advocates: we go without so you don't have to. *sigh*

Tired.

Feb. 4th, 2010 10:36 pm
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
Work was unusually difficult today. I kept expecting the Elite Beat Agents to show up any fucking second.

Yes. It was that bad.

Ah, well. I know I'm good at this, so I just have to hang in there. Last week's paid vacation will be on this week's paycheck, so I know on Wednesday I'll at least be getting a few hundred dollars.

I just have to keep telling myself, "If it wasn't hard, I wouldn't be doing it."

Just remember! Consumer rights advocates: we go without so you don't have to. *sigh*

Tired.

Feb. 4th, 2010 10:36 pm
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
Work was unusually difficult today. I kept expecting the Elite Beat Agents to show up any fucking second.

Yes. It was that bad.

Ah, well. I know I'm good at this, so I just have to hang in there. Last week's paid vacation will be on this week's paycheck, so I know on Wednesday I'll at least be getting a few hundred dollars.

I just have to keep telling myself, "If it wasn't hard, I wouldn't be doing it."

Just remember! Consumer rights advocates: we go without so you don't have to. *sigh*
xenologer: (Default)

I hear a lot of oddball stuff at the door from people who don't believe that what Citizens Action Coalition does matters. We generally go for the consumer rights angle with these people, since talking to them about the air they breathe doesn't work (it just reminds them that Rush Limbaugh doesn't believe in global warming), talking to them about the water they drink doesn't work (since most of them have enough money to buy bottled water and do), and talking to them about their rates going up doesn't always work either (because they believe that standing up to the utilities will only increase the cost of doing business and therefore raise their rates in the end).

All that I can deal with. It's really not that unusual or difficult, since it all amounts to one thing. "None of those things can happen to me. I have money, therefore I am invincible."

But there are a few things that they bring up that are really sort of mind-bending. Not all Republicans are dumb like this; there are a lot of them who are far more environmental in their approach than they want to admit (perhaps because it might get them associated with liberals to admit that they care whether we pollute our groundwater). Some of the best logical disconnects I've seen are as follows:

"Wind and solar can't replace coal. What we need is more nuclear." Never mind the fact that wind and solar can and--in some states--do replace coal. The good bit is what often follows. "In France they get all their power from nuclear, and they've even got a way to recycle the waste so that it's clean now, too. That's what we need to do."

That's right! I have heard hardcore Conservative Republicans tell me that America should be more like France. Are you seeing why this totally blows my mind? The appropriate reply to them is obviously that French citizens pay half or more of their income in taxes, a huge amount of which goes toward paying for their nuclear program. Don't believe nuclear is expensive? Then why do nuclear states have electric bills twice as high as non-nuclear states. If Republicans want their rates or their taxes to go up, they should pick which way they want to pay. Either way they will.

AND ANYWAY WHEN DID THEY WANT US TO BECOME MORE LIKE FRANCE WTF

I also love hearing from these people that nuclear is so clean because the reactor only puts steam into the air. What the fuck do they care? These people don't believe in global warming anyway, so it ought to matter to them that the reactor puts out less air pollution, but at the expense of

  • contaminated water (and less of it, since nuclear power plants require billions of gallons of water that they're legally allowed to take from nearby cities' drinking water in a drought, since the choice between thirsty poor people and dying crops is cake compared to a nuclear meltdown),
  • national security risk (since even a decommissioned nuclear plant is an awesome target for a terrorist attack, and we can't mine all our uranium in the USA anyway, often getting it from countries that don't like us),
  • higher utility rates,
  • and the use of taxpayers as collateral for everything nuclear-related (see the Price-Anderson Act, which means that if a company wants to build a nuclear plant and defaults on their loan, if a company makes a mistake and the plant melts down, or really anything goes wrong, they're not liable; taxpayers are).

So yeah, it's a little better for the air, but all of those others things outweigh that. They should outweigh that even further for Republicans.

So why are they so pro-nuclear? Because the coal-dependent utility companies who make more money by spending more money (and yes, they're paid based on their expenses, which means their projects don't have to be successful or efficient--just expensive) did an advertising campaign decades ago talking about how great nuclear power was for the environment. These ads stopped because those companies got sued for lying in their ads, but not everyone knows that or cares.

Now, the fact that our government is actually acknowledging that global warming happens means that this is coming up again. They're being more careful not to state that nuclear power is actually environmentally-friendly at all (since now they know they can get sued over it and will lose), but they're still pointing out that this'd be an awesome way to reduce our carbon footprint (never mind that 1% of our coal plants in this country go to power uranium refinement and that'll only increase if we build more nuclear power plants).

This is something I hear a lot. "You guys aren't in favor of nuclear, are you? You've kept them from building any nuclear plants in this state; I don't support you guys."

The appropriate answer is, "Nuclear power is expensive, and if we let utility companies charge you for a nuclear plant, your rates would double. Everyone's rates would double, which is our members don't want. Also, we're not the ones who shut down Marble Hill. The regulators did that because the spending had gotten so high that it was no longer the project they'd approved. We're just the ones who got ratepayers a refund for all the money that had been wasted building a plant that never went online. We keep rates low in Indiana. Is that work you can support?"

At which point I point them back down to our support statement, and if they say no, I walk away and hope their neighbors are smarter than they are. Staying and arguing wastes my time, and only lets people like that think they're important.
xenologer: (it are fact)
What are some of the objections being handed around to a public insurance option?
"The president feels that having a 'public option' side by side -- same playing field, same rules -- will give Americans choice and will help lower costs for everybody. And that's a good thing," Sebelius told CNN.

"The president does not want to dismantle privately owned plans. He doesn't want the 180 million people who have employer coverage to lose that coverage. He wants to strengthen the marketplace," Sebelius added.

Healthcare costs undermine the competitiveness of U.S. companies, drive many families into bankruptcy and eat up a growing portion of state and federal spending.

Versions of healthcare legislation unveiled by senior Democrats in the House and Senate include a new government insurance program. But Republicans are adamantly opposed to the idea, saying it could harm private insurers, and some of Obama's fellow Democrats are against it, too.

Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said there is not enough support in Congress for the "public option" even though proponents offer "very good arguments" for it.

"You've got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all of the Democrats together. And that, I don't believe, is possible with the pure 'public option.' I don't think the votes are there," Conrad said on CNN.

You heard it here. You won't get Republican votes if you're putting their constituents ahead of the interests of private insurance companies. Who is voting for these people again?
xenologer: (it are fact)
What are some of the objections being handed around to a public insurance option?
"The president feels that having a 'public option' side by side -- same playing field, same rules -- will give Americans choice and will help lower costs for everybody. And that's a good thing," Sebelius told CNN.

"The president does not want to dismantle privately owned plans. He doesn't want the 180 million people who have employer coverage to lose that coverage. He wants to strengthen the marketplace," Sebelius added.

Healthcare costs undermine the competitiveness of U.S. companies, drive many families into bankruptcy and eat up a growing portion of state and federal spending.

Versions of healthcare legislation unveiled by senior Democrats in the House and Senate include a new government insurance program. But Republicans are adamantly opposed to the idea, saying it could harm private insurers, and some of Obama's fellow Democrats are against it, too.

Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said there is not enough support in Congress for the "public option" even though proponents offer "very good arguments" for it.

"You've got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all of the Democrats together. And that, I don't believe, is possible with the pure 'public option.' I don't think the votes are there," Conrad said on CNN.

You heard it here. You won't get Republican votes if you're putting their constituents ahead of the interests of private insurance companies. Who is voting for these people again?
xenologer: (it are fact)
What are some of the objections being handed around to a public insurance option?
"The president feels that having a 'public option' side by side -- same playing field, same rules -- will give Americans choice and will help lower costs for everybody. And that's a good thing," Sebelius told CNN.

"The president does not want to dismantle privately owned plans. He doesn't want the 180 million people who have employer coverage to lose that coverage. He wants to strengthen the marketplace," Sebelius added.

Healthcare costs undermine the competitiveness of U.S. companies, drive many families into bankruptcy and eat up a growing portion of state and federal spending.

Versions of healthcare legislation unveiled by senior Democrats in the House and Senate include a new government insurance program. But Republicans are adamantly opposed to the idea, saying it could harm private insurers, and some of Obama's fellow Democrats are against it, too.

Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said there is not enough support in Congress for the "public option" even though proponents offer "very good arguments" for it.

"You've got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all of the Democrats together. And that, I don't believe, is possible with the pure 'public option.' I don't think the votes are there," Conrad said on CNN.

You heard it here. You won't get Republican votes if you're putting their constituents ahead of the interests of private insurance companies. Who is voting for these people again?
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (cry yourself to sleep)
This is for folk like me who've maintained their sense of dark humor as the US tries to pick itself up during a huge economic downturn. The stimulus bill did pass, and it did so largely on the strength of one party's influence in Congress (both in the House and Senate). A few Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for it in the Senate, but mainly the minority party had no interest in the project because they wanted to concentrate solely and completely on tax cuts, viewing infrastructure projects, state aid, and health care investments to be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the bill was seriously curtailed before passage as an effort to court Republican support that they declined to give even after having many of their demands met. For a good breakdown of the winners and losers in the final version of the bill, check here. For those folk out there who want to know what the stimulus actually does, I would check that link. It'll give you a good place to start to look up the worth of the individual projects.

The humorous part? Legislators voting against the stimulus and then immediately turning around and bragging to their constituents about all the money coming to their states to help them out.
The final vote on the $787 billion measure broke down exactly as expected.

What's more, it was legislation the minority party wanted nothing to do with. Three Senate Republicans broke ranks, while zero House Republicans backed the plan. That, in and of itself, isn't especially surprising -- there were philosophical differences, coupled with strategic considerations, alongside a desire to embarrass the president.

What is at least a little surprising, though, is seeing some of the same Republicans who rejected the package issue press releases touting the spending measures in their districts. (...)

In Mica's press release about the stimulus package, for example, he not only applauded the spending for his district, he neglected to mention altogether that he opposed the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also issued a press release claiming "victory" for an Alaskan contracting program in the bill, also failed to mention that he voted against the measure that he's so excited about.
They're not the only Republicans who are suddenly deeply interested in obligating the federal government to help keep their states afloat. Governors--both Republican and Democrat--had been pushing for the stimulus package to get passed. I know that the list in this article isn't comprehensive, because my own governor is not mentioned and--despite his apparent unwillingness to bail out anybody below him--seems positively thrilled to receive money coming down from the federal level.
In the states, meanwhile, many Republican governors are practicing a pragmatic — their Congressional counterparts would say less-principled — conservatism.

Governors, unlike members of Congress, have to balance their budgets each year. And that requires compromise with state legislators, including Democrats, as well as more openness to the occasional state tax increase and to deficit-spending from Washington. (...)

The National Governors Association sent a bipartisan letter of support to Congressional leaders of both parties, signed by its Democratic chairman, Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Douglas, its Republican vice chairman. “The combination of funds for Medicaid, education and other essential services is critical for governors as they work to manage the downturn in their states and improve government for the long term,” it said.

Mr. Crist even campaigned last week with Mr. Obama in Florida for the recovery package.

“Whether it’s teachers or people on road crews helping our infrastructure, those in the health care arena as it might relate to Medicaid, all of these areas are important, all of them can produce jobs,” Mr. Crist said, adding, “Regardless of what your party is, Republican or Democrat, it really doesn’t matter. We have a duty and an obligation to the people who elected us, no matter what our position happens to be, to work together to get through this thing.”
Summary: Republicans in the legislature were under all kinds of pressure to ignore the needs of state and local governments, and even to ignore the requests (demands?) of governors from their own party. So they voted against the stimulus bill, but as a compromise they took good news back home that help was on the way (possibly in the hopes that their constituents won't notice their legislators were willing to let them hang for the sake of pleasing guys like this one, who evidently run the Republican Party now.

That's your update. I just have to laugh at this, because the alternative is to go right the hell out of my mind with indignation.
xenologer: (Speak)
As Reed, the head of Butler Democrats said:
"Yes, that's right: the state that at one point had the largest population of KKK members of anywhere in the country, a state whose politics had long been corrupted by racists and segregationists, a state that had not elected a Democrat for President in 44 years, a state that re-elected George W. Bush in 2004 by a 60-40 margin, this same state elected a black, liberal, intellectual Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama as President!"

Indiana: dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world, but by a much wider margin than any of us expected. I think the final count was about fifteen thousand votes' worth of difference.

I'm amazed. We figured Obama would win the presidency, but Indiana? Really?

We waited to start drinking until Indiana's results were certain, but we did it! Guys, we shoved Indiana into the blue. As Suzanne said,
Obama has reminded us that this country was not just founded on the promise of financial opportunity. It was founded on the promise of -ideaological- opportunity. Of liberty and equality.

Until now, it's been fashionable to be cynical. But I think that's been to hide the pain we've felt as a society, for being so let down, for falling so short of our ideals.

And now, suddenly, it seems that this election tells us that the idealists are still a majority in this country after all.

THAT gives me hope.

Me, too. Other great commentary on this follows.

Daughter of slave votes for Obama
Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

Historic Election Stirs Homeless to Vote
Frederick Williams, a Marine Corps veteran scraping by on unemployment benefits, describes his living situation as "not homeless but close to it" and says he never cared enough to vote -- until Tuesday.

At age 43, Williams shuffled into a Los Angeles homeless shelter carrying his worldly belongings in a small travel case and a knotted plastic bag and proudly cast the first ballot of his life with guidance from poll workers.

Williams said he voted for Barack Obama, whose message of hope and bid to become the first black president of the United States stirred him like no other politician.

"This is history in the making. I wanted to be part of that," said Williams, who lives in a transient hotel a few blocks from the polling station at the Los Angeles Mission.

"For once in my lifetime ... someone really cares about the small people out there."

Williams was one of hundreds of people -- many first-time voters lacking permanent dwellings -- who cast ballots this year on Skid Row, a 50-block downtown area believed to harbor the highest concentration of homeless in the United States.

Poll Analysis!
Digging through the numbers, we see:

* Obama won self-identified independents (52% to 44%), and self-identified moderates (60% to 39%). I guess no one believed the whole "maverick" thing.

* While Obama did far better with white voters than most recent Democratic candidates, McCain still won every age of whites -- except whites under 30, who strongly backed Obama (54% to 44%).

* Obama narrowly won among men (49% to 48%), and won among women by a large margin (56% to 43%).

* For all the talk about Obama being unable to win over Hispanic support, Hispanic voters backed Obama by more than a 2-to-1 margin. McCain's Hispanic support dropped 10 points from Bush's four years ago.

* Obama won Roman Catholic voters, another group he was supposed to lose.

Fear.
I started making some notes the other day about the presidential election, the turning points, the strategies, etc. And it occurred to me that the entire Republican strategy was based on nothing but fear. Fear of change, fear of hope, fear of a skinny man with a funny name. Fear of socialism, fear of a tax increase, fear of government. Fear of anything that looked, sounded, or might be perceived as foreign. Fear of the light at the end of the tunnel -- it might be a train. (...)

It was striking to see how Americans responded to the fear-mongering. Obama's lead over McCain in the polls grew in the face of the economic crisis, but the lead even more when McCain and his party tried desperately to scare Americans. The more we were supposed to feel afraid, the more voters responded to Obama's message. The more intense the smears against him, the higher Obama's favorability ratings.

There were quite a few messages for the political world yesterday, but one came through loud and clear: We don't want to be afraid anymore.

Photos of Reactions Around the World

But lest progressives get too caught up in our victory, there is still a lot of work to be done. Proposition 8 (the California proposition being pushed by the LDS church to ban gay marriage and probably annul the marriages already performed) is looking strong. As someone with great respect for the establishment of marriage (something I didn't understand until I was in a years-long committed relationship of a my own), this saddens me.

As arctangent said, "I want to celebrate, I really do, but Yes We Can (But No, Gays Can't) is a rather difficult message for me to rally around."

Ballot Measure Results from CNN

The commitments of homosexuals were declared invalid in Arkansas (where they are now forbidden to adopt children), California and Florida (where they are now unable to marry their partners).

Stay strong, guys. This is your country, too. We haven't forgotten you. But here's my question: Where were YOU?
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages passes by 238,000 votes statewide. (...)

And hey, San Francisco... the entire city cast only 177,000 "no" votes?! What gives? That's less than Pride Day! Where are the other 500,000 of you on this issue?

Help us out, here. We love you guys and we know you love each other. I know it's hard to be told again and again that you aren't capable of the same feelings and commitments that straight people are, and I know it's hard to be an exhilerated newliwed and then to have it taken away by people who claim they "don't discriminate."

But if you don't fight, who will? I know that it hurts to lose out on the Prop 8 battle because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spread terrible lies about you and about this Proposition.

Right now there's a push to get the LDS church's tax-exempt status revoked because they used a religious organization to influence politics. Some info on that is here. At first I was on board with it, since I think that they were way out of line here. However, they were well within their rights even if they have permanently lost the respect of non-homophobic people nationwide.

So we may not be able to justify stripping them of their status with the IRS, but you can bet that the next time Mormons come to my door, they'll hear from me. And they will have some explaining to do and they will not enjoy it. Because if they're no friends of yours they're no friends of mine.

I know how much this must hurt, even if I probably can't really feel it as keenly as you must be. But I'm here. As long as you're still fighting, I'll be right with you. We'll get there.
xenologer: (hope)
Proof that anti-choicers care more about children before they're born than afterward.
Last time we had protesters here in Issaquah, I didn’t really mind having them across the street. They didn’t approach our patients or yell hateful epithets like so many protesters do outside other clinics. They smiled and waved. Their signs were not ugly or hateful. Mostly, they chatted on cell phones, read or napped.

In all, I figure more than 1,000 hours were wasted -- roughly half–a-dozen people, there for eight hours a day, for 27 days. I can think of quite a few other ways that those hours could have been better spent.

· raising money to help low-income, single parents
· providing childcare for those who can’t afford it
· snuggling babies born addicted to drugs
· spending time with kids that don’t have a loving, caring adult in their lives
· foster parenting
· adopting a child with special needs
· lobbying for health insurance for everybody
· taking a group of kids outside to learn about the environment and get exercise
· being a reading buddy at a local elementary school
· mentoring at-risk kids

And that’s just off the top of my head.

It takes real commitment and diligence to sit on the sidewalk for 27 days, rain or shine. Think of all we could accomplish if their efforts went toward something we can all agree on -- healthy kids, families, women, and teens.

This really stuck in my head, because it connects to something that has bothered me for a long time.

How many people demanding that unwanted babies be put up for adoption have actually adopted kids? Or are they so caught up in their "children are like flowers, you can't have too many" mindset that they're popping out puppies of their own instead of taking the needy ones from the shelter? How many vocal anti-choicers do you know who have a half-dozen of their own kids, even if it means leaving orphaned or abandoned ones in the system? The next time they tell you they love kids remember this: they love their own. Everybody else's kids are everybody else's problem.

Here's my advice to those people, if they really want to practice what they preach (literally).

If you think that every child has a right to life, start demonstrating that you have some compassion for them after they're born. Start voting in ways that support motherhood and affirm the value of children. I suggest getting involved with MomsRising.org, an activist group dedicated to seeing that problems mothers and their kids face are solved.

Issues they care about:

· Ensuring paid maternity leave for women in America (just like evil socialist moms are given in Europe) so that women can support their kids instead of losing their jobs. In fact, why not paternity leave as well? Don't fathers have family responsibilities as well?

· Affordable childcare, so that families don't get caught in the "can't afford childcare because I don't have a job, can't get a job because I can't get childcare" cycle.

· Healthcare for kids is a priority for moms, so why shouldn't they do something about it? According to MomsRising, "Having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will go bankrupt. In fact, this year, more children will live through their parents’ bankruptcy than their parents’ divorce. The causes for so much financial distress among parents are complex, but one fact stands out: Fully half of these families filed for bankruptcy in the wake of a medical problem." And no, "the market" doesn't fix that.

Are "family values" a big deal to you?

Really?

Prove it.
xenologer: (it are fact)
Palin and McCain are starting to scare the shit out of me. Their response to one key question has said a great deal about them, and about the people supporting them. The question is, "What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?"

SHIFT THE BLAME

I know that people like to blame that damned liberal media as much as they like to blame those damned liberal "experts" and damned liberal foreigners. I know that when their candidate's campaign is involved with something truly ridiculous it's easy to blame the people showing a recording and not the people in it.

Yes, I am aware that Palin's comments were edited in the interview with Charlie, so she actually wasn't as ludicrously incoherent as she seemed. I am aware of the fact that overciting that interview isn't really fair as a result. I am not aware of any reason why this excuses everything that goes down at the McCain-Palin Two Minutes' Hate rallies. I am not aware why we should refer to recordings of people shouting for a presidential candidate's death as "the way the biased media portrays Palin."

I know that no one wants to see links from the Huffington Post, but this article does have videos that you can watch for yourself (which is why I'm linking it). Be forwarned that the very last video on the article has a stupid tendency to autoplay, so you might want to scroll down and pause it as quickly as you can.

GET THEM TOO ANGRY TO THINK

My main problem here is only partly that McCain and Palin are creating a vicious and dangerous hateful atmosphere at a time when people are most vulnerable to it. This essay from a very well-known priestess explains pretty well my feelings on the subject of the Republican candidates and the responsibility they bear for the conduct of their supporters.

In the normal course of events, I'm a pro-anger kind of a gal. I came up through the feminist ranks in the seventies, when we were energized by the realization that all our lives, we women had been told to be 'nice', sweet, to placate the guys and not get them riled up. If we got angry, we either looked 'cute' or were unattractive raging b-words (rhymes with Witch).

Anger was a rational response to the constrictions and dis-empowerment we faced and women, and it became a driving force in our efforts for cultural change. Ironically, one of those results is Sarah Palin's candidacy. It is a triumph of feminism that we have so changed the culture in this country that the same kinds of reactionaries that wouldn't have voted for a women in 1968 and would have opposed a woman voting in 1908 now have to turn to one to energize their base.

Anger, however, is a dangerous emotion. Like fire, to which it is often compared, it can regenerate the forest when it burns through low and fast, or jump to the crowns of the trees and burn thousands of acres, devastating life and land.

McCain and Palin have been piling up the trash to start on burn pile on a red flag day, when economic drought and winds of fear and panic are whipping it out of control. For that, they bear a huge responsibility. They have deliberately used innuendos, outright lies, and personal attacks to create an incendiary atmosphere. Palin has stood silent while her supporters chant to kill her opponent! That is tantamount to instigating and condoning political violence, if we must speak of 'terrorism'. McCain has protested some of his followers excesses, but in condoning the strategy that feeds on fear, suspicion and thinly veiled racism--but his attempts are like trying to beat out a few sparks in the tall grass after he has fed the blaze.

Those of us who lay claim to some form of spiritual leadership should absolutely condemn the tactics of personal attack. We should call our politicians and our communities to think, speak and act from our best selves, not our worst, from respect and compassion, not from stoked-up rage and hate.

Now, I grant you, it's not going to mean much to McCain or Palin to learn that a Witch thinks they are behaving in a despicable and immoral way. Might even encourage them. But I call on you, sisters, brothers and freres of other faiths, especially you Christians whose voices will carry more weight, to speak out strongly in condemnation of the politics of hate. Speak to the McCain campaign, to your own congregations and coreligionists. Become the dampening rain that can douse this particular fire. A raging wildfire creates its own wind and weather, and feeds on itself. Regardless of your political convictions, hatemongering hurts and endangers us all.

This is only part of my problem. The rest of my problem is that McCain and Palin are creating a dangerous and ugly climate for this election, and belatedly covering themselves as though they had no idea things had gone so far. Creating a mess and then shifting the blame. Obama mentioned once, "In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you're on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don't have boots. You're on your own. Well it's time for them to own their failure."

OWNING FAILURE

Your rallies turn into angry racist scenes from 1984 and you're hoping to blame the media for reporting it? Tough luck. No consistent stance on anything? Can't argue with the policies of a candidate you've been forced to concede his plan on Iraq, concede that perhaps we should talk about education after all, and claiming (in a ludicrously ironic twist) that "we have got to give people choice in America and not mandate things on them" when it comes to the rights of health care patients, except of course if those patients are women.

What do you do when your campaign makes no sense?

Tell lies about ACORN's voter registration efforts (if you don't like the Slate, check out ABC)so that you can keep people from voting and pre-emptively delegitimize the election if your ticket loses. Never mind that ACORN is required in most states to turn in every ballot they receive, but were attentive enough to flag the ones they felt might be a problem. Never mind that now ACORN employees are receiving death threats because of those lies.

Tell lies about Ayers. Be sure that when you do this you wave away concerns about your own associations. Those say nothing about your judgment, and you should virulently oppose any such "guilt by association" attacks.

Tell lies about Obama's tax policies.

No one will know the difference. Voters are stupid and aren't paying attention.

VOTERS ARE STUPID

I know Barack Obama wouldn't want me to "give up hope" and slam whole swaths of America's population as being too dumb to save, but it's what I believe. A large percentage of voters are stupid. Give them a smile and a wink and they'll believe whatever you say! Especially if it means your ridiculous lies give them excuses not to vote for Obama, when in many cases they'd already decided for other reasons.

Keep in mind that this will only work in parts of the country that are "pro-America." You and I may not know the difference, but Sarah Palin does. Makes me wonder what she thinks should be done about these other areas.

Michelle Bachmann has a good start. "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America. I think people would love to see an expose like that," she said.

I bet she has in her hand a list of names that were made known to her as being un-American and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the legislature. I bet she already knows. I bet it's somewhere around 51.

What do you do when your campaign makes no sense? Quit fussing with little lies. Man up and tell the big lies. You should "fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

I won't even tell you who pointed out the efficacy of that particular tactic. The comparison is so ugly that no one really wants to go there. Even when they should.

But come on. What else can you do when your campaign makes no sense? When smaller lies aren't working well enough or fast enough to make people frightened and angry enough? Tell bigger lies.

Because voters are stupid.
xenologer: (it are fact)
Y'know, I love reading about people's experiences and observations. I think there's something to be said for finding out what other people see, and in the current political climate it's easy to miss out on opportunities to observe McCain and Palin supporters in "their native environment," surrounded by other supporters without supervision by those dastardly 100% Jesus-Free Marxist Wiccan Jihadists (no, really, watch this video because it's long but gets better and better as it goes) like Obama and his ilk. They can't possibly spending all their time crying for the death of Barack Obama at one of McCain-Palin's regular Two Minutes' Hate rallies.

Turns out that, no, sometimes they have the decency to be self-righteous instead of violent. I guess it's an improvement.

Upon entering Starbucks, I immediately realized that the McCain/Palin folks were having a little meeting. I saw several women in dresses wearing pink buttons proclaiming "Women for McCain/Palin". A few of them brought their husbands who were sporting buttons saying things such as "Sportsman for McCain/Palin" and "NOBama". I sat down at the table next to the group just as they were starting their meeting.

As soon as the last member of their group came in, they prayed. In their prayer they begged that God "deliver the country from the evil socialists" and even prayed that "Obama find God". Well, damn, how offensive I thought to myself. (...)

They talked a little more about how Obama would destroy our country with "free health care" and "gay marriages". The feared his daughters would probably play loud rap music in the White House while world leaders were staying. They feared that Muslim would become our official religion. One of them even feared that "the Muslim language would be taught in schools." Priceless.

They went back to the fact that they all believed McCain would lose this election, but they were excited that Palin would probably run in 2012. (...)

At that time, I decided to pull out my laptop. You see, I have an Obama sticker on it. Well, one of them noticed and gave the rest of them a look and said SHHHH! One of the men didn't notice and kept talking. He said that "Obama is part of a sleeper cell and he will use our own nuclear weapons against us." One of the women nodded her head in agreement. Finally, the woman who noticed me said in a soft voice, "there's an Obama supporter behind us...BE QUIET". The group suddenly got quiet.

They changed the subject for a while, but on the way out the door one of the men told me "you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man."

One blogger commenting on this little account had this to say:

This isn't a movement; this is a psychotic break occurring simultaneously in millions of people. One wonders if mental illness, paranoia to be exact, is a communicable disease. And to all of the professional evangelical Democrats who claim if we just acted a little more friendly towards religion, Democrats could gain votes (although we seem to be doing just fine with black Protestant voters....), how do you respond to this:

"you are a disgrace to white people if you vote for that man."

Do you think that has anything to do with abortion? This is tribalism wrapped in a veneer of religiosity. Someone tell me how exactly we're supposed to reach these 'values' voters?

I have to say. I'm not sure whether this has squelched my curiosity or stimulated it. I rather I wish that I, like an acquaintance of mine, were headed to a Palin rally in the area tonight. I could bring my little ethnographer's notebook and take notes on the capering and posturing of these exotic humans.

And again, because I can't get enough of this video: 100% JESUS-FREE MARXIST WICCAN JIHADISTS WITH BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA AS THEIR SMOOTH-TALKING VOODOO MASTER.

Here's a better question than how we're supposed to reach out to these people.

How can you even satirize them anymore?

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