Monday, March 31, 2008

Screw Abe Lincoln!

You heard me: Screw Abe Lincoln! I just read a quote from Hillary where she insists that Obama's supporters want her to drop out in order to stop people from voting.

I quote:
"My take on it is a lot of Senator Obama's supporters want to end this race because they don't want people to keep voting," she told CBS affiliate KTVQ in Billings, Mont. "That's just the opposite of what I believe. We want people to vote. I want the people of Montana to vote, don't you?"

And that got me thinking, the guy who would be the absolute best Democratic presidential nominee right now would be none other than Honest Abe Lincoln. I mean, he's got firmly established Republican credentials, yet would surely agree with us on what a disaster his party made of everything. Plus, he's got the word "Honest" in his name, which my pollsters say scores HUGE in our focus groups. He'd be perfect!

But why can't we vote for him? Because the f-er went and got himself assassinated, that's why. And why did he do that? Why else, because he wanted to deny us the right to vote for him, the bastard! And that's just the opposite of what I believe. I want people to vote. I want the people of America to vote for Abrham Lincoln. And the fact that he purposefully ensured that he wouldn't be on the ballot by up and dying has got me really peeved. I mean, seriously peeved. He might have been all about freeing the slaves and ensuring the right of people everywhere to put on stupid hats without feeling self-conscious, but where is he now that we need him to end the war in Iraq or fix our economy? Chilling out in the Lincoln Memorial no doubt, with that hottie wife of his. This is total BS! Totally!

But I'm not through with this at all. Not by a longshot. I'm taking this all the way to the Credentials Committee. You heard me: The Credentials Committee! That's right, bitches. This is going HARDCORE. I don't even care if I have to invent human cloning, raise an Abraham Lincoln from birth to adulthood, travel with him in my time machine, just so I can come back to this moment and insert Lincoln into the presidential race and then loudly denounce the guy in front of everyone for being such a big phony who intentionally denied Americans the right to vote for the nominee of their choice. I'll do it. I really will. You haven't heard the last of this. Not by a longshot. Abe picked the wrong damn mad scientist to screw with. He will surely rue this mistake.

My Recollections of a County Caucus

Well I did it! Yesterday, I became a delegate for Obama at the Travis County Democratic Convention, and I sure hope that never happens to me again. Jesus christ, what a headache!

First off, the traffic just to get to the road the county convention was on was backed up for two miles. At first, I had assumed the long line of traffic was for some unrelated event because I knew I was quite far from my turn kept going. And finally I got to my turn and realized I had just missed it because there was no room in the traffic for me. And this is the middle of nowhere and shouldn't have had traffic at all. So I turned around and hoped for a break in that traffic, but no luck. There was no break in traffic because it wasn't moving at all. And so I finally turned around again and as I was approaching my turn, I finally found a quick break, quickly dashed into a small opening and was on my way. And sure, I was cutting in line; but screw it. I did it for Obama. It was all worth it.

But even that was a nightmare. And so I'm cruising along again, this time in the left lane hoping for some opening to appear, and nothing. And finally, I find a super small opening that I jam myself into, and then just inched along. We were stopped more than we were going, and I noticed more and more people walking along the side going way faster than us. Finally, I got to Hog Eye Road, which was one mile from the convention, parked along it, and walked. I was the first person to park on that road, but by the time I got back to my car that afternoon, I saw lots of people followed my lead and parked there. And the whole road back to the main road was lined on both sides with cars; for almost two miles! And again, this is the middle of nowhere, in a place I didn't know existed.

And so I get to the Expo Center and it was long lines and confusion everywhere. And I couldn't find my precinct people, and had no way to contact them. But I found the line for alternate delegates and stood in that line for two hours. Yes, two hours. And I was one of the lucky ones. Had I not done all the cheating while driving, I would never have gotten there on time. And some people waited for as long as I had just to be told they were in the wrong line and had to start over. As it was, they had to extend the sign-in deadline for several hours. Somehow, they hadn't imagined that anyone would show up.

And wouldn't you know it, but lots of folks started cutting in line in front of me. I started out talking to some Obama guy that lived close to me, and by the time I was able to sign in, there were twelve people who had gotten between us. Yes, twelve people; mostly Hillary supporters. There was an Obama guy or two who joined the Obama guy I had been talking to, but most of them were Hillary people who just insinuated themselves into our line in groups of two. And it was all awkward. Everyone was pointedly avoiding talking about which candidate they were supporting, in case it was the wrong one, but it was all awkward. But I eventually uncovered that the people I was talking to were Hillary people, which sucked. I liked the Obama guy much more, I really did.

And so I eventually got in and the place was waaay crowded. They even ran out of the plastic necklaces we were supposed to hang our delegate tags from, as well as the substitute ribbon they were using, so I had to carry my tags in hand. And I eventually found my precinct, but it was all embarrassing as the only seats left in our section were next to Hillary people, as there weren't as many of them and all the Obama seats had been taken. Now remember, I was only an alternate delegate, but it turned out that an Obama delegate didn't show up for some reason (perhaps still stuck in traffic), so I was in. I got to be a delegate; which turned out to be a much bigger curse than I had realized.

Sure, I hadn't wasted all my time in line for nothing, was all about waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Thank god I brought a book, but I just bought an iPod the day before, but my daughter took my headphones to Saturday School that morning, so I was stuck listening to the lame speeches people were giving. And the food was expensive, and the bathrooms smelled, and I spent most of the time standing up so I wouldn't have to sit next to Hillary people.

And for what? Nothing. I see no reason why this couldn't have been handled on March 4, as part of our other caucus. We just voted with the same people from our precinct, so everyone we needed to vote with was there, but for some reason we had to go to the Expo Center to do it. Hell, I didn't even know Austin had an Expo Center until I had to do this.

And so the whole thing was running late. It was a madhouse. You'd think they were just making this shit up as we went along. But three hours late, we finally got to have our stupid vote and do the only thing we came there for. And it was all a sham. Each side determined beforehand how we needed to vote (though neither side told the other), and so I just voted for the dude I was told to vote for. We were even handed a sheet of paper which told us who we were to vote for, and we were just to follow what we were told. It was a complete sham. Hell, for all I know, I voted for a Hillary delegate and got totally robbed; I don't know.

But to my knowledge, we pulled it off properly and Obama got three of the four delegates which will go to the state convention and repeat the madness all over again. I was kind of hoping that the Hillary people would screw it up and we'd get their delegate too, but no such luck. It was all a pointless sham that I had to wake up too early for, wait forever, just to serve only as a puppet. Heck, I call it a sham, but I'm not sure how it should have turned out otherwise. Had we all done it on the up-and-up, it wouldn't have made any sense and it would be possible for Hillary to have won more delegates than Obama.

To be honest, I was glad to be given a sheet of paper with the name of the delegate I was supposed to vote for, as it was the only thing that day that made any sense to me or seemed to have any kind of plan to it at all. Everything was madness, outside of that piece of paper. But when they called my guy's name, I raised my hand, and that's all I was there for; democracy was served and Obama got his delegates. After that, I was allowed to leave and walked back to my car in a blur, glad to be the hell out of that madhouse.

But it's all over now, and thank god. It sucked. By the end, I was tired, hungry, and my vision was getting blurry. The one good thing that came out of it was that the circus is in town next week and they're going to be at the Expo Center, so I at least know where to find the place when I come back next week with my six year old daughter. And I have no doubts the circus will be far better organized. It couldn't be any worse.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Robot State

One common theme among conservatives is their supposed abhorrence for "nanny states," where the government rules our lives and tells us what to do. Yet, if anyone prefers the nanny state, it's conservatives. I mean, how is a safety net a nanny? Social Security, Medicare, and many other liberal policies are solely designed to make sure that if things go bad for you, that you don't get ruined.

Social Security will prevent you from becoming an old beggar. Medicare to make sure you don't suffer needlessly. They don't tell you how to live your day-to-day life. They're just there to make sure that if things go really wrong, you're not destroyed. But they're all safeguards of last resort. And as long as you look after yourself, you won't even need them. And all the same, it benefits society to not have poor and sick old people begging in the streets. It helps the economy that you're able to spend money as an old person. There are all sorts of benefits to them. But they're not really nannies any more than the nets a trapeze artist uses somehow guide them on the trapeze. They're there in case you need them; they don't tell you how to live.

But conservatives really do like the government telling people how to live; not all of them, but most of them. They want the government to enforce their religion on nonbelievers. They insist abortion isn't a choice and that birth control shouldn't be allowed. They don't trust you with your own body, and think that you can't even decide for yourself if you're in too much misery to stay alive. And god forbid if you have two drinks and want to go driving. You might be a better driver than a sober person, but if you fail an arbirary limit, you're toast.

Crashed and Burned

And I was thinking about this while reading about a rootbeer keg party designed to mock the anti-drinking nanny state. And I've always thought our anti-drinking policies are dumb. I don't know about you, but underage drinking laws really don't do much to stop drinking, other than to make it some exotic goal. If you want beer, you'll get it; or at least I usually did when I was underage. And while most of us older folks don't even think twice about getting a six-pack, many teens consider it an exciting quest to find some way to get booze. And here I am in my mid-thirties, and get carded more often that I did as an underage drinker. (I'm fortunate to have looked mature as a teen, yet haven't aged much beyond that; though I think they just card people more now.)

But the worst part was this quote from the police chief, who was trying to justify how they drunk tested everyone at the party:
"It was a tremendous waste of time and manpower, but we still had a job to do, and our officers did it," Joling said. "If one kid had come there, even hadn't drank there, but had come there and had been drinking and had left and crashed and burned, then what would the sentiment be?

Yet by that rationale, police should drunk test everyone, everywhere. What was magical about that party that made it so that people would blame them if someone happened to have come to the party drunk? Because everyone might be anywhere drunk; yet we don't use that as a basis to drunk test everyone. And the truth is that they were just upset that the kids were mocking them with this party, and wanted the kids to suffer alittle. That's all this was about.

Do As I Say

But we see this kind of thing all the time. We expect teens to act like adults, but then insist that they have absolutely no rights and that they have to obey our orders at every turn. They have to wear what we tell them to wear, go where we tell them to go, say what we tell them to say, and most of all, do what we tell them to do. And then we act surprised when they don't take responsibility for their lives.

A robot denied autonomy cannot be held responsible for not being autonomous. If you insist "Because I said so" is a rationale for even the most senseless orders, then you shouldn't be surprised when they wait until you tell them to do something before they do it. We order them about like robots, and then thrust them on the world when they turn eighteen or nineteen and act surprised when they can't take care of themselves. What else could be expected?

And of course, "for the sake of the children" is also used to allow them to order us around. Even as adults, we're told what movies and shows we can watch, what music we can hear, what substances we can consume, and all sorts of other things "for the sake of the children." A sports star can't even behave like a normal human because they're "role models" who will teach bad behavior to children. His choice of profession somehow inhibits his rights.

And this is all bullshit. If they can't control their children, screw 'em. I don't see why I should be denied the right to watch some movie just because their kid might sneak out and watch it. And if they actually taught their children to be responsible for themselves, rather than obedient robots, we wouldn't have these problems. But if you teach your kids that rules only need to be obeyed when someone is there to enforce them, they won't obey the rules when you're not around. It's that simple.

Adult Bullies

And in this case, we have a police force that decided to be a-holes because of a joke these teens were playing. Hell, I can't believe there was a whole party of teens and not one of them had shown up drunk. But that's no thanks to the police. They behaved like authoritarian bullies, even though no one had done anything wrong. And the message they sent was clear: We don't care if you act responsibly; we demand your obedience. They don't want responsible teenagers and only use public safety as a rationalization. What they want are robots. And then they continue to act surprised when their robots don't behave properly when the master is away.

But they have no one to blame but themselves. Conservative society has devised a game where they are responsible for the actions of our youth, and it's the youths' job to get away with as much as possible. And because conservatives demand absolute control, they'll always lose this game. But of course, it's all of us who lose. We need to teach children to take responsibility for their own actions, but that requires us to allow them to do so. That's just not something most conservatives are willing to do.

And so tomorrow, my children will be told yet again where to be, what to wear, what they can say, and never really told why they should; and even I as their parent have absolutely no say in any of this. We're told that this is all to make them responsible adults, but I know the truth: They just want obedient robots who aren't allowed to think for themselves. Is there any surprise why such people rarely do.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Twisted Truth

Some day, psychologists will conclude that conservatism is caused by a personality disorder; at least regarding conservatives who don't belong in the top 0.0001% income bracket. I am quite confident of that. And one of the symptoms of this disorder is projection, or seeing their own personality flaws in everyone else.

I'm dealing with one such wacko right now on my post on Obama's pastor. Not only is this guy accusing me of all the things he continues to do, but it's obvious that his entire debate schtick consists of him regurgitating material people have used effectively against him, but without him understanding what the words meant. Like when he continues to insist I'm playing games with semantics, when we haven't had any sort of semantic debate at all. It's obvious he just thinks that's some accusation you use against somebody when they won't agree with you. He also thought my use of the word "nutjob" to describe him in a non-debate setting consisted of an ad hominem argument. It took me awhile just to convince him it was a basic insult and nothing more. His arguments are bad enough as it is; ad hominem is the least of his worries.

And the funniest part about him is that there really is no basis for any of his arguments, other than that he's right. Everything else he writes stems from that one basic point. He's right and all the liberals who debate him are irrational hypocrites who "obfuscate" and "prevaricate" because they aren't admitting that he's right. I'm telling you, if you're bored and into that kind of thing, I recommend reading the comment board on that. But...don't feed the guy unless you really want to go down the rabbit hole. You've been warned.

Only the Facts

And I was thinking about that now when I went to Snopes and read yet another of those crazy ass emails that rightwingers send around to prove how right they are. And I think these play a much larger part in why these people are so ignorant than they're given credit for.

This one was all about criticizing liberals and the media for distorting the number of deaths caused by Bush's blunderous war. It has a list of military causalities from 1980 to 2006, which they took from a CRS Report for Congress(PDF) and supposedly shows that 14,000 soldiers died during Clinton's presidency, while only 7,033 died during Bush's. And you can just guess at what this was supposed to indicate.

I quote from the email:
These figures indicate that many members of our Media and our Politicians will pick and choose. They present only those "facts" which support their agenda-driven reporting. Why do so many of them march in lock-step to twist the truth? Where do so many of them get their marching-orders for their agenda?

And unless you can't guess, no, that's not what the numbers showed. In fact, it's entirely predictable that the numbers they cite were entirely bogus. First off, they completely excluded 1985 - 1987. No explanation for that. But even worse, they added an extra 6,607 deaths to Clinton's numbers, while excluding 1,759 from Bush's numbers. And finally, the numbers they cite are the total number of deaths from any cause, including homicide, suicide, and illness; not just war-related deaths. Twisting the truth, indeed.

And so rather than showing that there were almost twice as many soldier deaths during Clinton's presidency (which was a longer period anyway), we see that there were 7,500 deaths under Clinton and 8,792 under Bush. And remember, this only went through 2006. Snopes says that over 1,000 troop deaths happened in Iraq and Afghanistan alone in 2007, and doesn't include non-war related deaths. So there were many more deaths during eight years of Clinton as seven years of Bush. And this compares to 17,201 deaths under Reagan and 6,223 under Bush Sr.

Just to even things out, here are the annual averages per president:

Reagan - 2,150
Bush Sr - 1,556
Clinton - 938
Bush Jr - 1,465

And to be fair to Reagan and Bush Sr, I suspect the reason deaths went down for Clinton is because the total size of our military went down. Reagan averaged 666,219 more total troops than Clinton did; while Bush only had 28,080 more troops than Clinton.

Here are average troop deaths as a percentage of average size of military:
Reagan: 0.094%
Bush Sr: 0.071%
Clinton: 0.057%
Bush Jr: 0.088%

And whether or not you're as into number crunching as I am, it seems one thing is clear: The guy who wrote that email was totally full of shit. In every conceivable way, Clinton's numbers looked better than any of the four presidents; while Bush Jr seems to be reversing a trend. Oh, and just so you know, I'm excluding Carter from this completely, as the numbers only had one year of his, which isn't enough to establish a trend.

Hostile Death

But of course, total military deaths really isn't the number the person was going for. I mean, if the whole issue is anti-war people complaining about war-related deaths, then you'd think that only war-related deaths would be of concern. But perhaps the person who wrote it just didn't know where to find the more appropriate number, which was all the way on the next page of the report they were reading. And if they had so hard a time that they couldn't include every year or get the numbers right, it probably was a bit over their head to look at the right table. We should just be thankful that they actually used any numbers at all, rather than their gut feelings on this stuff.

Table 5 of that report shows cause of deaths, such as Accidents, Hostile Action, and Terrorist Attack. And surprise, surprise, Bush Jr also has the worst numbers if we focus on Hostile Deaths and Terrorist Attacks. And again, this only goes through 2006.

Here they are, with Hostile Deaths first, followed by Terrorist Attacks (my apologies for not making a proper table):
Reagan - 58 293
Bush Sr - 170 2
Clinton - 1 75
Bush Jr - 2,596 55

And there we have it. Four presidents, and the Democratic president has the fewest soldiers killed, and Bush Jr's numbers were super high; just as you'd expect to see. But of course, Clinton averaged the fewest deaths too, so this just makes sense. As usual, it appears the Democrat knows how to make things safer, while the Republicans don't.

But all the same, you can bet that there were lots of folks who have read that email and have accepted every word of it. They probably don't even think about it. It's all part of their background facts. And what the hell was the dude who wrote this thinking? I mean, how can anyone knowingly falsify this stuff while acting all snotty about it? But I suppose it's the same thing we're dealing with from Bush, as well as the nutjob commenter who keeps harassing me with his ridiculous arguments: They start from the position of knowing they're right, and justify everything from that.

For them, it's not a matter of uncovering the truth. It's just about finding the right argument, facts, or anecdotes to demonstrate their mastery of reality; even if their arguments are laughable, their facts are wrong, and their anecdotes pointless. They know they're right, and the fact that you don't already agree just shows how irrational you are because all the smart people already know it's true. Mental disease.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My Obamahood

Well, damn. Here I was thinking that I was in some sort of Obama super-precinct, but then I just found out the number of Obama delegates that were assigned from our caucus and it wasn't nearly the blow-out I had imagined it was. Out of fifty-five possible delegates, Obama only got thirty-eight of them and Hillary got a full seventeeen. That's right, we barely doubled her numbers with only 69% of the vote; not nearly as impressive as I had imagined.

Of course, it looks like if all goes right at the county convention on Saturday, we should be sending three delegates on to the state convention, while Hillary only sends one. So it's basically like we're getting 75% of the delegates. And of course, if the Hillary people screw-up, they might miss-out on even getting that one delegate, and we'll sweep all four; which would mean they wouldn't even have needed to bother showing up that night.

But still, with the big Obama turn-out on caucus night early this month, I had imagined we'd be getting over 75% of the caucus outright and wouldn't have had to resort to mathematical games in order to get that kind of number. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to pick better neighbors next time, huh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Just Say Yes

Dammit! In an embarrassing turn of events, it looks like I'm going to have to drop my support for Hussein Obama, and instead throw all my support behind the only candidate with the experience, wisdom, and straight-talkerness in the race. Who else, but John Maverick McCain.

Why the sudden change? Because it turns out that Nancy Reagan wasn't endorsing Obama, as I had been assured repeatedly. Instead, Nance decided to throw her hefty political weight behind President-Elect McCain (after much soul searching on her part, I'm sure). And as I've always said, wherever Nancy Reagan goes, Doctor Biobrain is sure to follow. I mean, I followed Nancy's "Just Say No" advice on drugs until she stopped saying it, and look how far that got me. And if she was smart enough to realize that people can say "No" to drugs, who knows what else she's liable to be right about. Perhaps it is time we bomb Iran.

So that's it for me, from here on out, I'm a McCain man. And as for the person who swore to me that Nancy was going to endorse Obama: Jeer! Oh, and it turned out getting all those magazine subscriptions didn't guarantee that I'd win any of those prizes, so I'll be expecting a refund for that advice too! Sure wish Nancy could have advised me to say "No" to listening to you.

Highway to Hell

I've written about this kind of thing before, but I remain confused as to a contradiction in the minds of some religious folks. They insist that "evil" is allowed in the world because God wants us to have freewill and to choose for ourselves whether to be good or bad. And I understand that, I suppose. But if they believe their god isn't going to use his infinite powers to enforce goodness on us, why do they insist that he compels them to enforce goodness on us? It's wrong for God to deny us freewill, but it's ok for men to do so on God's behalf? That doesn't make any sense. I mean, if anyone is in a position to know how to enforce such laws, you'd think it'd be the omniscient being, not these bozos who can't even come into agreement as to what they think their god wants.

And I was thinking about this while reading this news story about a traveling pharmacist who not only refused to fill a refill prescription of the Morning After Pill, but gave a lecture to the poor girl and wouldn't give her the prescription to take elsewhere. An appeals court recently stated that the penalty against the pharmacist would stand.

And I feel so sorry for the poor guy, as he says this "critically devastated" his business because pharmacies are now less likely to hire him. Wow, big surprise. He has a very controverial position of refusing to do part of his job and can't understand why people won't hire him. I can't imagine why a place of business would want to avoid a controversial religious issue like this. This reminds me of the time I couldn't get work as a bookkeeper just because I refused to use the number 6 on the keypad (it's part of the sign of the Devil, don't ya know). Even now, I just use the number 7 and remember to deduct one each time I do it. (And yes, I had someone else type that number for this post and refuse to look at it).

But again, where the hell does this guy get off enforcing his religion on others? What happened to freewill? If God isn't going to stop Hitler and allows babies to starve to death on a daily basis, who the hell is this guy to try to enforce his morality onto others? If we're going to Hell, that's our business; and his business is to hand people pills when a doctor says it's ok (I wonder how many pill junkies he helps out daily without thinking about it).

And if this guy wants to get into the morality business, he needs to get a new job. And even then, religious figures have to convince us to be moral and aren't allowed to deny us our God given right to be sinners. If God allowed there to be a highway to hell, I don't see where anyone appointed this guy as a roadblock. He can choose not to drive along it if he wants, but he's got no right to stop us from doing so. Apparently, that's how his god wants it.

Keeping in Touch

Everything worth saying would take far too long to say and I'm not sure it'd be worth it, so I won't say anything at all.

But with any luck I'll be in on an Obama conference call tomorrow before my delegate training, so that'll be kind of cool. When the moment's right, I'll be the one shouting "FART!" Or not. We'll see how it goes. I suspect it'll go over very well and think it'll really boost my ranking on Barack's VP short list. That way, I can run for VP and President at the same time. I wonder who I'll vote for.

And on Saturday, I'll be going to the county delegate convention, so that'll be pretty cool too. I'm not planning to say "fart" there, however. But we'll see. It might win a few Hillary delegates to our side, or make them go home. Either way's fine with me. They really shouldn't be there anyway.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama's Pastor

I've got a confession: I'm not perfect. No, I won't admit to having the sort of genetic defects you people describe as being "human," but even I have made a mistake or two in my time. And I did most recently regarding Obama and his pastor.

You see, while I'm no adherent to the "where there's smoke, there's fire" line of reasoning, which is quite fallacious; I had sort of assumed there was something truly controversial about Obama's pastor. I won't even go for the "heat of the moment" reasoning on this, as if his pastor only said these things without thinking. I know there are some people who have some inherently wacky logic and assumed that Obama's pastor was one of them.

So I didn't want to watch any YouTube clips of him saying these controversial things. Why bother? Guilt by Association is a pile of crap and I failed to see why Obama should be held responsible for what his pastor said. It's obvious Obama doesn't believe these things, so the whole thing was little more than just a smear against him and a blessed distraction for his two opponents (see footnote below). As I suggested before, people thought John Kerry should have been denied communion by his religion for his position on abortion, and no one assumed he needed to stand up against their anti-gay intolerance.

But all the same, I assumed the guy really had said some horrible things which weren't relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? (And yes, that was a Barbara Bush quote.)

Governments Change

Well whaddya know, I was wrong. At least about two of the quotes anyway. I kept hearing about how his pastor had blamed America for 9/11 and had spent all my time insisting that it wasn't relevant to Obama. Apparently, Carpetbagger did the same thing. And then he actually saw the YouTube clip and felt as stupid as I did. Because I agreed with just about everything the guy said. In fact, not only have I been saying the same stuff, but feel that any liberal who isn't saying this stuff doesn't deserve to call themselves a liberal. This stuff is just a no-brainer. He might have put things a little more forcefully than I might have, but that's just a matter of taste.

Carpetbagger's already got the clip of the 9/11 "chickens home to roost" sermon, so you can watch that there. Or watch all the sermons his church posted on YouTube. But I wanted to cover his "God damn America" sermon, which I'll be cool enough to post here, just to show how hip I am.

Now again, I assumed he had some good reason for saying that. But I assumed it was some reason I wouldn't agree with. Some angry holdover from a prior period that normal ears would chafe at. But you know what, I watched the whole clip and not only do I understand what he's talking about, and not only do I think all liberals should understand what he's talking about, I can't see why most conservatives wouldn't understand what he's talking about; at least the religious ones anyway.

His main message is that government's change, but God doesn't. And after spending quite awhile explaining what he meant, he goes into a whole litany of horrible atrocities America has committed, as well as modern grievances. He then explains how the bible says that anyone who acts this way is going against God and is damned by God for treating its citizens as less than human. And while many conservatives might disagree with his specific grievances, most of them will agree that God is supreme to America and that America must obey God's will.

And that's what's odd: As an atheist, I should be more offended by what he says than any religious conservative should be. But I'm not. I'm used to this kind of stuff. Besides, I saw nothing to suggest that he thinks specific laws should be tailored from the bible's teachings; but rather just basic human rights issues. And so I'm cool with that. I'm not anti-religious and think that if religion helps anyone behave better, I'm all for that kind of thing.

And to have read Hillary supporters denounce Obama for his pastor saying these things is just wrong. I know they're desperate to find some way of winning this thing, but I doubt there's anything his pastor said that they didn't agree with, at least partly. And I should add that, were I to go to a church, that'd be a pretty decent church to go to. That was waaay better than the Catholic homilies I used to listen to as a kid. Of course, I'm a lazy SOB and can't imagine I'd go to church even if I were religious. But still, if I was into that kind of thing, his church wouldn't be such a bad place to go at all. If his other sermons are like that one, it'd be like I'd be getting a political blog post half the time anyway. Or I guess that would be a podcast or something.

Glenn Beck Doesn't Support Obama!

And on a final note, I made the mistake of watching a clip of Glenn Beck smearing Obama due to his pastor's words, and let me say: Not only is Beck a complete douchebag, but he's an incompetent douchebag. I won't post a link as I don't want you to make the same digestion-upsetting error I made, but for all his efforts to smear Obama, I can't imagine it having much impact at all. Because first off, his outrage seemed totally fake and overly emphatic; as if he's fully aware the material just wasn't there for him, and could only puff it up manually. It's obvious he just doesn't trust himself to sell the material, and he's a bad actor. Maybe that shit cuts it on radio, but I imagine seeing him spew that bullshit is totally a deal breaker for most people.

But even worse, he kept playing clips of Obama's speech on the matter. And for as much as he emphatically insisted the speech was ineffective and deceptive, people have ears and Obama sounded reasonable. I once heard about how a Reagan person told a TV news person that they loved it when they had negative stories about Reagan which showed Reagan talking, as people were less likely to pay attention to the story and more likely to just like seeing Reagan. And while I don't know if that's true or not with Reagan, I can definitely see that applying to Obama. At best, Beck should have read portions of the speech in that asshole voice of his, which would automatically make people think worse of Obama. But I guess that'd require that Beck understand how pathetically crappy he appears to be.

And his weirdest line of reasoning was that, because people accuse Beck of cherrypicking quotes from the pastor, it makes Obama a hypocrite for having ignored these cherrypicked quotes over the years. That's not exactly how he put it, as he was attempting to accuse Obama of cherrypicking; but that's what he was saying. Yet that's the most egregious abuse of cherrypicking. It's one thing to take a few quotes out of context to smear a guy; but to insist that those few quotes are representative of twenty years of sermons, and that Obama was cherrypicking by not noticing these cherrypicked quotes? That doesn't even make sense. I mean, this isn't even Limbaugh-level nonsense. This was just dumb at a level that makes Beck look entirely foolish.

But the whole performance was bad. Equally bad was that he made the mistake of inviting two black people on the show to discuss it; naturally with the idea that having black people diss Obama legitimizes it. And while neither of them gave a solid defense of Obama, one of them wouldn't join in with the disgust against Obama. Beck kept pestering the guy with one-sided questions which clearly begged for an affirmative answer, but this guy just wasn't having it and was prepared to dispute what Beck was suggesting. I don't know who vets this guy's guests, but whoever it is needs to get better at it. Because the guest sounded somewhat reasonable, while Beck sounded unhinged.

And because Beck's entire anti-Obama schtick was so weak to begin with, he needed all the support he could get. Having someone come out and disagree with him clearly took the wind out of his sails. Again, this guy wasn't defending Obama, but he was more knowledgeable than Beck and, even worse, was clearly aggravating him. But the whole thing was like that. I suppose Beck does have some loyal viewers, but even the two of them must have been scratching their heads over this one. You agreed with Beck if you already agreed with him; but if your level of persuasion is that limited, you really shouldn't bother. I wish someone would explain that to him. I really do.

Footnote: It has been brought to my attention by a loyal commenter that some may take my use of the word “obvious” in the third paragraph to imply some sort of empirical, objective knowledge of Obama’s thought patterns. But I, in fact, have NO ability to read Barack Obama’s mind, or anyone else’s, and was merely expressing my opinion that it was “obvious” that he didn’t agree with his pastor; much as John McCain said that Obama “does not share those views.” But in no way was this meant to sound as if I had conclusive proof of this; as I do not.

I should add that my use of "obvious" to describe Glenn Beck was also an opinion, and that I did not intend to imply that I had any sort of empirical proof that Beck is a bad actor who doesn't trust his material. It's possible he's a great actor who just wants conservatives to look really, really stupid. I can't say for sure.

Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused my reality-deficient readers who are incapable of distinguishing fact from opinion, and somehow imagined that a statement which could only have been an opinion was otherwise. My apologies.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Crime, Punishment, and Redemption

I wouldn't want to be a journalist. Columnist, I could handle. In fact, if any one of you happens to have a high paying column gig at a major newspaper you needed filled, I'm your man. Hell, I'll even take a low profile newspaper too, just as long as it's high paying. I'm not picky. But journalist just seems like a crappy job to me, especially when trying to find the right words to describe things.

But I laughed when I read this:
The former Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive who hid for years by posing as an ordinary housewife has been released from prison after serving time for trying to bomb police cars, corrections officials said Thursday.

Uh, she was on the lam for twenty-four years. and was married for twenty of those years and had three kids. That's not "posing" as an ordinary housewife. That's being a housewife; and from what I read, a fairly good one. After she fled California, she changed her name and started a new life. As this article mentions, she was active in her community, had lots of friends, threw big dinner parties, and had her picture in the paper repeatedly. She wasn't just hiding. She had moved on.

I suppose it sounds more exciting to think she was just posing as a housewife, but the reality is that people can do good things and bad things, and even people who plot to bomb cops can go on to be housewives and mothers. And when I put it like that, I realize that this isn't just about poor word choice. This is about forgiveness and redemption. I've never liked our prison system, as it's still too focused on vengeance and punishment. And while I definitely think it's necessary to punish people, it'd be a lot better if we could focus on fixing them. And in the case of Sara Jane Olson, it looks like she fixed herself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bad Catholic v. Bad Pastor

When people referenced John Kerry's religion, it was in terms of him being a bad Catholic who should be denied a basic sacrament of his religion because of his political positions on a few issues. When people reference Barack Obama's religion, it's in terms of him being forced to stepdown, as anyone who listened to any of his pastor's sermons and didn't walk out is clearly unfit to be president. So while Kerry wasn't religious enough, Obama is too religious in the wrong religion.

Naturally, there is a big difference between Obama's pastor's intolerance and the Catholic Church's intolerance, but all the same, it seems perhaps odd that Kerry's insistence that he was a good Catholic is questioned just as much as Obama's insistence that he doesn't agree with his pastor. Somehow, I suppose it might make a difference that all Catholics are supposed to agree with the Pope's guidelines about everything, while Obama's religion might not require him to agree with his pastor. But I'm not really sure how that fits into the equation.

Overall, it looks like Democrats who want to look more religious can't any more than those who want to distance themselves from their religion can. Almost as if Dems are always labeled as having the worst possible religious positions, while Republicans are rarely questioned about theirs; including our Born Again in Chief, who doesn't even attend religious services and doesn't seem particularly religious. Or like the current Republican nominee, who doesn't seem to know what religion he really is; claiming to be an Episcopalian who attends a Baptist church, while also claiming to be a Baptist. Somehow, religion is only important if you're a Democrat, and always in a negative way. Huh.

Guess What...

I've been picked to be an alternate delegate for Obama at my county convention here in Austin at the end of the month, and will be attending a training session next week to get ready for it. I kind of screwed up as I should have stuck around at the caucus in order to be a full-fledged delegate, but my older daughter took my coat when Mrs. Biobrain left early (she got to sign early because she had our little daughter with us), and so I was cold standing out in the parking lot and wanted to get home. Had I thought ahead, I would have had a coat and a book. Live & learn.

One of the funny things I failed to mention after the caucus was how Obama made me a liar. The Sunday before the caucus, I went around canvassing for Obama to remind people to vote in the primary and come back for the caucus. And while they all knew about the primary, many of them hadn't heard of the caucus and seemed leery of it. So as an incentive, I told everyone that there wouldn't be lines or anything and that it should go really quick. Oops! Luckily, I was canvassing in a nearby precinct and not my own, so none of these people could punch me in the face for telling them that, but if that precinct went anything like mine, they didn't get out of there any time soon. It took me over an hour to sign, and I was one of the lucky ones. Even then, it only went as quickly as it did because the Hillary people finished so early and let us use their tables. Everyone cheered when they announced we could take the tables.

Anyway, with any luck, one of the real delegates will fall sick or die or something, and I'll get to take their place at the county convention. A boy can dream, anyway. But whatever happens, I'll try to make a point of writing something about it. Wish me luck!

P.S. Is Blogger ever going to update their spellchecker to reflect the fact that "Obama" is a word? I'm not sure who's responsible for that kind of thing, but that bugs me every time. This is all a devious Clinton scheme, no doubt. It'd also be nice if they added "Biobrain", but I kind of doubt that'll happen any time soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pro-Pot Justice?

I guess I could be reading too much into this, but in today's Supreme Court brouha (PDF) on gun control in D.C., Chief Justice Roberts asked "What is reasonable about a total ban on possession?" Call me crazy, but it looks like Roberts is now pro-drug. I mean, if he thinks it's unreasonable to have total bans on possessing things, I'm not sure why that wouldn't apply to drugs too.

And in case you thought he misspoke, he asks this shortly afterwards:
So if you have a law that prohibits the possession of books, it's all right if you allow the possession of newspapers?

And seeing as how that's an idea he clearly found flawed, it's obvious that he thinks that if it's ok to possess guns, it's ok to possess pot. Or at a minimum, if it's ok to possess Oxycontin, it's ok to possess pot. I mean, a drug's a drug, right? And if the government is going to allow one kind of thing, it's got to allow related things too, right? But I'm joking, of course, as Oxycontin can really fuck you up, while pot just gets you high.

On a separate note, this entirely confirms my idea that Roberts is a "two clever by half" numbskull who would make a much better lawyer than a judge, as he'll say anything in order to advocate his position and really doesn't give a damn how stupid it really is. While someone like Scalia might try to weigh down his rationalizations in historical precedents cherrypicked for his own purposes, Roberts doesn't even bother and gives you the kind of responses that just make you want to smack your head in frustration. You know he's wrong, but it takes so long for the words to form that he imagines he's said something clever, simply because you had to make more effort to debunk his nonsense than he took to say it. And the fact that he really didn't believe anything he said is the best part of his joke on you.

Arthur Clarke

Dammit. Arthur C. Clarke died. He was one of the handful of people I had on my Want To Meet Before They Die list, along with Frank Sinatra and Stanley Kubrick (yes, I suppose it could use some updating). Of course, to tell you the truth, I kept thinking he was dead anyway and was always surprised to learn that he was still alive, but I guess I won't be making that mistake any time soon.

Clarke was totally my favorite writer, and I have more books of his than of anyone else. And I've probably read those books more than I've read any other books. I've always found his short stories to be better than his novels, and while I prefer just about anything he wrote before 1970 over anything he wrote after it; most of his stuff is pretty decent (with the exception of 3001). In fact, it's a pretty sad state of affairs that 3001 is still in print, while many of his best works seem to be out of print. Of course, it always chafes me to read that 2001 was his main book, as I always found it to be one of his lesser works. Great movie, but the book was fairly mediocre.

My personal favorite: A Fall of Moondust. It's got a lousy title and is somewhat reminiscent of a disaster movie (though I think it predates them, being published in 1961), but it's really quite good. It looks like it's not in print anymore, but I got mine at a used bookstore, like where I find all the rest of my sci-fi books. If you're interested in science fiction and want a page-turner, I totally recommend this book. The science in this one is a bit dated, which is understandable seeing as how we hadn't been to the moon yet when it was written, but the story is great.

Anyway, it was a bit inconvenient for Clarke to have pulled this kind of stunt before I had a chance to meet him, but I suppose I only have myself to blame for taking too long to get to Sri Lanka. I guess I'll just have to be a little quicker the next time around.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Getting Jaked

Just as many political reporters only report political gossip instead of actual politics, I never watch sports of any kind, yet I still like to stay current on my sports gossip. That way, if I ever get trapped at a party and have to discuss sports, I’ll have a good idea of what I’m talking about. I might not know all the newest players, but I know many of the ones people talk about and am good at faking the rest. But beyond that, I really learn a lot about human nature by following sports gossip.

Like the whole steroids in baseball thing. I don’t care about that, but I do care about how people talk about it and what’s going to happen to all these guys and their records. And so I just read this news story of the guy who got Barry Bonds’ last homerun ball. But that because he didn’t get it officially authenticated immediately during the game, it might not be worth as much. But for as much as that might be interesting, I found the backstory of the guys who try to shag these balls in the stands to be far more interesting.

Apparently, there’s this San Francisco Giant’s fan named Jake Frazier who works “in the medical marijuana business” and is a “notorious ballhawk,” who has “caught thousands of batting practice balls – some in stylish, behind-the-back fashion – and more than 25 game home runs, including three from Bonds. He’s also known for crashing into people and reaching in front of them for balls – so known, in fact, that other ballhawks in the Bay Area (and beyond) now describe themselves as getting “jaked” whenever anybody denies them.”

Here’s Jake’s explanation for how he "outmaneuvered" a guy seventy pounds lighter than him who was better positioned to get the ball:
He was bringing up the rear,” the 240-pound Frazier said. “I didn’t hip-check him out of the way. I just beat him to the spot. He’s an old-timer, dude. If I hip-checked that guy, he wouldn’t (expletive) be standing up … it’s a baseball, man, it’s a prize. You have to be aggressive.”

Yes, it’s a baseball, man. But apparently, his efforts weren’t good enough, and as the article suggests, “somebody jaked Jake.” And what is his excuse for this failure “I’m always stoned to the bone during games. I’d been smoking big weed about 10 minutes before that (expletive) guy hit that ball, so they had a little advantage on me.”

Stoned to the bone. That’s some spokesman for the medical marijuana business, huh. It turned this 240-pound man into a baseball losing blob, and we’re supposed to give it to cancer patients? Ross Rebagliati, he ain't.

And thus concludes my object lesson in showing what’s wrong with political reporting. They follow politics the same way I follow sports. The only difference is that I at least know how sports are played, choose not to follow them, and realize that I’m not actually watching them. Most reporters just cover hearsay and imagine that's as good as it gets.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Keeping it Simple

One of the weird things about Obama is that the more I hear, the more I like. And his tax plans are no different. At his rally I went to here in Austin, Obama went on a bit about what his new tax plan is. And apparently, as described by this news article, it's about the same simple thing that he talked about then.

And the focus is on getting rich people to pay more, and giving money for poor people to spend. And not only will this help out the poor people, but letting them spend money is good for the economy. I'm not sure why conservatives imagine it somehow makes more sense to just give money to business owners, but it sure seems to make more sense to give it to consumers first, who then give the money to business owners. That would just seem like commonsense to me. In cases like this, it's better to have as many middlemen as possible.

But Hillary's tax policy sounds like crap. It's one of those highly specialized social engineering taxjobs that make tax returns more difficult. And not only do I not think these are the best ideas, many people simply object to the social engineering aspect of these kind of taxcuts. And as the article points out, Hillary's will benefit people who already have some amount of money to spend, while Barack's benefits the very poor too.

So once again, it appears Obama's got what I need, and Hillary's just screwing around as if the 90's never ended. And sure, as the article points out, it's highly unlikely that either candidate could get these passed through Congress as-is. But it's the thought that counts, and Barack's thoughts seem a whole lot better than Hillary's.

Disclaimer: This blog is only as popular as it is because it's run by a guy named Doctor Biobrain who writes the kind of thing that people read when they're looking to read this kind of thing. Under no circumstance is it to be believed that people geniunely prefer this blog over any other blog. Were it not written by Doctor Biobrain, who writes the kind of thing that people read when they're looking to read this kind of thing, this blog would be unsuccessful. That is the simple truth and I have been forced to admit it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fair Play for Fairplay?

Is it just me, or does it seem like we've suddenly had a HUGE influx of scandalous news with even more scandalous coverage? And can this be about anything other than a feeble attempt to distract from the most important news story currently going on? What else? The Powers That Be still don't want you to hear about Johnny Fairplay's lawsuit against Danny Bonaduce; yet all the same, they couldn't stop the powers of the independent press, which wisely put this important story on the Yahoo homepage. Finally, real news for real people.

Oh, and speaking of which, I'm currently up to my eyeballs in tax returns, as corporate tax returns are due on March 17, and I kind of have to take care of things like that right now. Needless to say, posting is a bit on the light side. But beyond the issue of Fairplay, it doesn't look like very much is going on anyway. Remember, if Doctor Biobrain doesn't mention it, it can't be that important.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Big Government Solutions: Fighting Fires with Gasoline

Guest Post by Doctor Snedley,
Personal Assistant to Doctor Biobrain

Well folks, just thought I should check-in after a long sojourn helping bring freedom to Iraq one no-bid contract at a time, and happened to catch yet another news article about big government maleficence while jetting back from the Freedom Riviera.

From the AP:
Nearly 40,000 people learned this week that a trip to the doctor may have made them sick. In a type of scandal more often associated with Third World countries, a Las Vegas clinic was found to be reusing syringes and vials of medication for nearly four years. The shoddy practices may have led to an outbreak of the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus and exposed patients to HIV, too.

Sounds scary, but I don't see what the big deal is. Sure, lots of people got really sick, but I've been assured repeatedly by my libertarian friends in Iraq that these people will be dealt with when word gets out and people stop visiting the clinic. That's right, the free markets will take care of everything, assuming we let them. But knowing Washington bureaucrats, who just don't know when to leave well enough alone, they're likely to try to shut this clinic down rather than letting nature take its course. Damn tax & spenders!

Liberal Fantasy Worlds

And the whole article is dripping with socialism, starting with that reference to so-called "Third World countries." Third World countries?! What the hell does that mean? Look, I've traveled all over this fine globe, from our most glorious nation, to the terrorist-infested success in Iraq, to many excellent resort communities throughout Muslim-threatened Old Europe, and I've never seen one of these "Third World countries" once. Not once! What are the odds of that?

Even the name doesn't make sense. We only have one world. ONE! Yet just listen to what they're saying "Third World countries." World countries?? How can a country have a whole separate world in it, let alone a "third" world? Impossible. Countries are smaller than worlds. I know, I checked.

And that can mean only one thing: They don't exist. How could they? These mystical places where government bureaucrats don't meddle around with their senseless regulations and licensing, but which still have problems. Trust me, if such a place existed, I'd be there quicker than you can say Bureaucratocracy; soaking in the good life and basking in my ever-loving freedom. How could such a place have problems when government IS the problem? It couldn't.

No, as everyone knows, the only countries that exist are America, Canada, Mexico, and Old Europe. Two of those are socialist hotbeds, and the third is a liberal trap designed to solve our labor problem while simultaneously stealing our jobs and creating more crime in our country. And why do libs want more crime? Why else: So Big Government can "solve" it by taxing us to death. Typical.

Left Ain't Right

But the main point is clear: America is the most liberty preserving country on the entire planet, which is exactly why socialists have banded together to destroy us with their redtape, high taxes, and atheism. Why, when your typical socialist lib reads a story like this Vegas clinic, I bet the first thing they think is to want even more government interference. More government! Up is down with these people, and after surveying all the damage they've done, their only "solution" is to add more gasoline to the fire.

So it's obvious what the real problem here is: Government regulations and licensing created a Hep C epidemic in Sin City, and now needs the free market to step in and bail it out...yet again! This is just so typical. When will these fatcat bureaucrats finally realize that they just need to leave well enough alone and everything will be alright? We never had clinics spreading Hep C all over the place before governments started interfering in our lives and we won't have them long after I've drowned the government in the tub in my Lear Jet.

Now it's back to Iraq to show Iraqi's the wonders of freedom, and to see to see if Blackwater's got my new plasma screen installed. Instilling democracy in a frightened people is its own reward, but I gots to have my March Madness, baby!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Big MoBama

Well, shit. I know we should be happy that things went as well as they did yesterday in Texas and Ohio, seeing as how Obama made up HUGE ground and all but nullified Hillary's delegate advantage in her two "firewall" states. But dammit if I didn't really believe we'd be knocking her out last night. I was so depressed that I didn't bother posting about my cool caucus experience last night (as I found out, I'm in a HEAVY Obama precinct). Maybe I'll get to that tonight. But it was only expectations that got crushed yesterday; Obama did well.

The main negative from all this is that the herdlike media is now going to cover this as if this is some big shift in momentum for Hillary. Why? Because they're pack animals and can only base reality on what they believe the rest of the pack is doing. That's why momentum is so important to them; and by default, us. Sure, Obama did much better than he should have in Texas and Ohio, but because his momentum wasn't enough to overcome Hillary, it's now imagined that he's lost it and she's got it.

But if anything, I think the big loser from yesterday is the Momentum Meme. We keep being told which candidate has momentum, and when that momentum doesn’t win the day for the person who supposedly has it, we’re told this was a crushing defeat for them. Hell, Huckabee staked his entirely candidacy upon supposed momentum from Iowa (which the media keeps telling us is all-powerful). Had he not foolishly imagined that Iowa Momentum would carry him to eventual victory, I’m sure he wouldn’t have stayed in as long as he did. Once he believed he had a real shot, he just couldn’t let go. But he didn’t have momentum. He won Iowa because of natural advantages specific to Iowa and a few other states.

Obama’s had a similar problem, but in reverse. While I do actually think he has momentum, whenever his momentum isn’t able to overcome natural advantages that Hillary has in a particular state, it’s imagined that he’s lost the momentum. But he hasn’t. It’s just that his momentum wasn’t able to overcome her original lead. It’s like a car race where one car starts at lap 250 and the other at lap 1. Even if the second car is traveling twice as fast as the first, he might not be able to catch-up.

That’s my belief on what’s happening. She had huge leads in every state, and unfortunately for him, his extra velocity wasn’t enough to pass her in some of them. But this isn’t a shift in momentum. It wasn’t supposed to be close in Ohio or Texas to begin with. It was only his momentum that made it close. In Texas and Ohio, she won her "base" and he won his. This wasn't a shift in momentum. The big problem was that her base was naturally bigger in these two states than his was. But that was due to particular demographics in these two states; not momentum.

The Big Mo came from his ability to come from behind in both states, as he has done throughout the campaign. But just because you don't have enough Mo to win a particular race doesn't mean you don't have it. And with the upcoming races getting back to Obama's turf, we'll have a better idea if she actually has any Mo, or if the Obama train is still rolling full steam. I predict that's what the herd will be telling us after big wins in WY and MS.

Oh, and if you haven't already today: Make sure to give Obama at least $10 right now. I just gave a little more than that, and trust me, it’s the most therapeutic way to get rid of the sting of not having ended this last night. You’ll feel much better and it's the best way you can help him today.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Hillary Bashing v. Women Bashing

One of the things I didn't understand about Hillary supporters was why they kept insisting that her liberal attackers were sexist. I had assumed they were just referring to the "make me a sandwich" style Republicans, but didn't see much of that and never from a liberal. Yet they kept insisting that the liberal netroots was overly sexist and offensive.

Well I think I just got it. They're just referring to the people who think Hillary is manipulative and selfish. But why? I personally never thought Hillary was some super nice, honest person who was above reproach. I'll vote for her, I guess, but I've always assumed she was kind of pushy and fake. Same with Bill. While Obama has a background that suggests he's one of those charmed people with brains, a great voice, and who puts in the extra work to get ahead; the Clintons always struck me as the BS-y kind of people who get results by pushing people with a big smile and a firm handshake. Not aggressive or mean like Cheney; but definitely pushy and manipulative.

And with that, I think they're like your typical politician; just better at it. While I see Obama as a lucky guy who did well with what he had; the Clintons had to push every step of the way. And while both type of people have their definite advantages, it's only natural that the Clintons would make more enemies along the way. Especially Hillary, who has to work at it even more because she lacks that special spark that Bill has.

Now, if some people want to disagree with that and think that Hillary is some nice, normal person; that's their business. They can think whatever they want. But I'll think she's a somewhat pushy phony, and anyone who would put up with what she did in the 90's and come back asking for more is a glutton. For me, I think that anyone who would put up with all that and ask for more has a serious character defect. But then again, I'm the kind of guy who would rather be self-employed working at home than to be a rich businessman; so perhaps I'm not the best judge of people. For me, success is defined by happiness; not power or wealth.

Netroot Sexists

And so some people don't like her. It happens. And they say bad things about her, and even use naughty words that are rude. How is this anything new? We're supposed to give Hillary some free pass just because she's a woman? I mean, while I don't personally agree with that kind of thing, I fail to see how it's sexist to treat her like we do all our other foes. I'd been assuming that with all the talk of sexism, it'd be that she was being dismissed due to her gender. But while at Hullabaloo, a commenter left behind a bunch of examples of the sexism that was so prevalent at Daily Kos. Needless to say, I found it somewhat underwhelming.

Here are the first two examples given:
hekebelos: "Many of us have expressed the opinion that Hillary would be willing to destroy the Democratic Party to secure the nomination. But I don't think any of us ever expected her to even stoop this low.... I don't know how any self-respecting Democrat who values the future of the Democratic Party could still campaign for her. She has shown no limits." (earning 1255 comments)

turneresq: "Hillary's statement is outrageous, essentially cutting an ad for McCain in the general if Obama is the nominee. Olbermann openly wondered why she was playing this card.... Hillary should be ashamed, and I'm glad that Olbermann and Maddow called her on it."

That's it?? That's sexism?? Yet here's how that person summarized the various examples given:
What is common to all of these comments is not their astute political analysis of the issues and support for Obama. What these comments all seek to achieve is the political marginalization and silencing of a woman and her supporters. Moreover, each one of these posts seizes on common slurs and stereotypes about women in order to impugn Hillary Clinton's character. Lastly, the persistent and pervasive effort to vilify both Hillary Clinton and her supporters as racists further aims to quell political discourse about the campaigns.

That's right. Not only are all these people denounced as sexist because they hate Hillary, but their efforts to denounce Hillary's campaign as racist is also denounced. Yet I saw nothing in any of those comments which couldn't have equally applied to Bush or Cheney. Hell, just take that first one and change "Hillary" to "Cheney" and "Democratic Party" to "America" and you've got a summary of about half the posts at DKos last year.

And I agree with the first sentence the second person wrote, as I can't believe that Hillary would actually tout McCain's experience over Obama's. That kind of thing is just wrong and if/when Obama wins, I could easily see Hillary's words popping up again and again.

As for the "common slurs and stereotypes" thing, which is the only real link to sexism I can find, that's super weak. Sure, maybe these people are saying this about Hillary because she's a woman. But again, this is the same kind of thing you'd hear from these people regarding just about any Republican. They're pushy, manipulative liars who will do or say anything to gain power. The only difference is that they're now directing their ire at a Democrat, instead of a Republican.

But even Democrats don't get off the hook with these people. I've heard lots of insults from these people regarding Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and just about any other Democrat they blame for not impeaching Bush. This isn't sexism. It's just the way they talk. Anyone who's just now noticing that DKos is full of these kind of people just hasn't been paying attention.

Playing on Stereotypes

And there is such a thing as using stereotypes to label people. But it's not always easy to identify. For example, if Hyman Roth did a sleazy thing for money and I said he was a greedy SOB who'd do anything for money; that's probably not anti-Semitic. But if I mentioned that he was Jewish before calling him greedy, that might hint that I might be anti-Semitic. Even worse would be if I called him a greedy Jew. And if I said "Hyman Roth is Jewish, and while there are plenty of non-Jews who worship money above all us, because Jews have been victims of violence, they should have second thoughts about sating their love of money through the promotion of violence" that could be considered fairly anti-Semitic (and yes, I was paraphrasing uber-putz Gregg Easterbrook on that one).

And the issue on that is clear: There is a negative stereotype of Jewish people as being greedy and money loving. And so you do have to be a little careful about using the term to describe a Jewish person, particularly if you're referencing their Jewishness. Thus said, is it automatically anti-Semitic to refer to any particular Jew as greedy? Of course not. Some people are greedy, including some Jewish people. Similarly, some black and Mexican people are lazy, just as some white people are lazy. And some women are, to put it bluntly, bitches. I'm not sure why this is controversial, because that's just the way it is. While you have to be careful about any of these stereotypes, it's simply wrong to assume racism or sexism every time they come up.

And even the "bitch" issue is a bit touchy. Certainly you shouldn't use it in polite company, like when you're talking to a presidential candidate or radio show. But in private, many people talk like sailors and that's one of the words they use. And while there's a particular meme that says that strong women are called bitches and strong men are called strong men, that's totally bogus. Strong men are called assholes, pricks, bastards, and all kinds of other names. If anything, the issue is that there are too few rude names to use against pushy women. But the idea that only women get negative labels for being overly aggressive is simply false.

Personal Labels

And so some people on the left hate Hillary. And they ascribe to her similar words that are used as a negative stereotype of aggressive women. Is that automatically sexist? Of course not. It might be. But unless they specifically reference her gender, attempt to smear all women as being similar, or directly evoke the stereotypes in question; it's a bit tough to make that call and probably shouldn't be done. Overuse of labels like Sexist and Racist do nothing but water them down and make them lose their effectiveness.

For example, if in that first example they wrote "Many of us have expressed the opinion that Hillary, like most women, would be willing to destroy the Democratic Party to secure the nomination." That would undoubtedly be sexist. Or if they suggested that she'd do this because she's emotional and irrational, or PMS-ing; those would definitely be huge redflags. But simply expressing the opinion that a specific presidential candidate is manipulative or selfish is absurd; no matter what their gender is. Nobody flinches when we accuse Republicans of wanting to destroy America for their own lust for power. I fail to see why it's such a big deal if some Democrats think Hillary will hurt the party with the same thing.

So yes, sexism does exist. And there are people who won't vote for Hillary because she's a woman. And there are certainly people who have negative opinions about Hillary based upon her gender. But the idea that we can label everyone who thinks Hillary is an over-ambitious manipulator as sexist is definitely offensive. While it's possible that pure equality between the sexes is impossible, it completely undermines feminism to suggest that female candidates deserve nicer treatment solely due to their gender. Even women deserve the right to behave like bastards.

Now it's time to go caucus against her. Wish me luck!

I Voted!

Alright, it's done! I just got back from voting in the primary, and being a super-secret-double-delegate, I just won the whole thing for Obama! Now I just have to show up at the caucus tonight and win that for Obama too, and we're home free with a full 193 delegates swinging to Obama's side. Woohoo!

Man, democracy is great. Just as long as mine is the only vote that counts.

Update: I was just informed by a reliable source that there is no such thing as a super-secret-double-delegate, and that my vote counted just as much as anyone else's. Doh!

That was the worst $5.95 I ever spent.

Primary Prediction

Well, it's finally time to see if Hillary's Texas-Ohio firewall holds, and let me tell you, I honestly have no idea how this is going down. Even worse, I'm worried again. In fact, the one big bright spot in this is the last time I felt like this was on February 9, when I wrote "But if all goes according to plan, Barack will be winning several of the upcoming primaries and putting my worries to rest." Needless to say, Obama didn't just win several of the primaries, but ALL of them and won most of them BIGTIME.

But I don't know, I'm getting that worried feeling again all the same. In fact, I think a big part of this is that the Hillary supporters were really coming out in force, just as they're doing now. And they're sounding all cocky, with that "Woe is us, Obama's such a meanie" thing with all the Hillary people insisting that they were on the wall until some Obama meanie pushed them into the Hillary column. And that's the big thing I'm worried about. I don't know why Obama people have to be such dickheads, but I guess some of them can't help it.

In fact, one of my big surprises in all this is how all these Hillary people never noticed that there were meanies on our team. And dumb people and rude people. Where the hell have they been all this time? But I strongly suspect that they just never noticed it before because they liked it so much. And so when I was shaking my head at having to undo the damage done by rude people on my own team, these people were giggling with glee at the insults being directed against their common enemy.

And now they're starting to understand why that kind of thing isn't so great. One of the best ways to convince someone to firmly hold a position is to call them an assface for thinking that way. And that's one of the main reasons why the Rove "Divide & Conquer" exclusionist strategy isn't so great. Because it's premised on the idea that you've got to make some big, bad enemy to rally the troops behind. In battle that's easy, as you've just to point out how the enemy is about to rip your head off if you don't rip theirs off first. But in modern politics, it involves insulting and demonizing groups of people who are just as powerful as your own. And so the secret is knowing how to build your own team into a fury, but without insulting the other side into a fury. As we've seen over the past seven years, that strategy hasn't worked out that well for them.

But nobody ever listens to poor ol Biobrian (a vast overstatement, I know, but stay with me), and so the Obama people keep giving Hillary her best selling point: People hate her. I'm not sure what the great appeal to that is, but I suspect it's not entirely rational. And so here we are, on the verge of a big, big day that could really decide the fate of our entire planet, and I'm worried. And just like last time, I feel the worry is for nothing and things will turn out better than I fear.

But all the same, I'm worried. I seriously doubt Hillary can pull the big upset she needs, but the goalposts have moved significantly from back when Hillary announced these two states were her firewall. She had huge leads, and all Obama had to do was whittle them down. And here we are the night before the primary and he whittled those leads down to nothing. But as it goes, the media hates Hillary, but they let her set the stage all the same; and now it's not enough that she wins small. Barack is apparently supposed to win both Ohio and Texas, which she dominated just recently, or he'll be seriously undermined. I'm not sure how these rules work, but they're the ones we've got. And maybe it'll be to our advantage. Maybe he can pull out the big win in both states. I wouldn't call that impossible. I just don't know what to call it.

Anyway, well I'm voting tomorrow and hope to caucus. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obama Empowerment

Ok, well I did it. For the first time in my life I got up off my ass and actually went door-to-door for a political campaign. I met up with the Obama people at Jovita's like I said I'd do in my last post, and after a little confusion as they didn't have their act together as much as I would have hoped they would, they sent me off with a list of homes to visit and remind them to vote on Tuesday and caucus Tuesday night. And while many of them either had already voted or were planning to vote, few of them had heard of the caucus. So hopefully I did some good.

And it was really quite pleasant. I'm not sure where they got the lists from, but the only names they gave us were Obama people (lest we accidentally inform Hillary people of the caucus) and everyone seemed fairly friendly and most of them thanked us for what we were doing. We actually did go to one home with a big Hillary sign in their yard (my daughter insisted), though I didn't mention the caucus (heh heh). And one guy was a Republican who I briefly tried talking into voting against Hillary, but he didn't think that kind of thing was fair, and said he wouldn't do it. But even those two were pleasant.

Of course, I think it helped that Austin's generally a pretty cool town and I was in a neighborhood close to mine (though not nearly as cool). Plus, I was there with my daughter wearing her newly purchased Obama shirt, and I'm sure that kind of thing never hurts. And while I'm not sure if I'll do that kind of thing in the future, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it could be. Of course, they also pressured me into volunteering to help at the caucus tomorrow night, and I'm not sure what that's going to entail. But it's all worth it. It really does feel good to have played even a small part in making the process work, and that's what Obama's all about.

This really is about empowerment. Democracy can't just be about the same old people doing the same old things. This is about us and having real people play real parts in making their own lives work. That's the true purpose of democracy. Democracy doesn't guarantee that you'll pick the best leaders, and it probably won't. But it makes you feel more satisfied with the leaders you do have, and that's the whole point. This is our government and the politicians work for us. We shouldn't let anyone forget it.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Barack Block Walk

For anyone here in Austin, there's an Obama event tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon right down the street from my house, and guess what: I'm probably going to be there. That's right, this is your chance to meet Doctor Biobrain in person and see that I am far more majestic than you had ever imagined me to be.

It's the Barack it Out Block Walk Rally, where apparently we're doing some sort of canvassing or walking or something, I'm not exactly sure, but it's at Jovita's Tex Mex which is close to my house, so I'm going to be there and I'm likely to be doing some drinking. And possibly eating, I'm not sure. But whatever it is, it's just a few days before the big primary, so I'm going to do this so I feel like I've done enough for Barack. I know I haven't, but screw it, I've got to have a life too, ya know, and it's not easy writing almost one blog post a day. Barack won't be there, but Jim Hightower will be, as well as possible guest appearances by Congressman Doggett and recent Chris Matthews victim, Kirk Watson. Should be fun.

Anyway, if you can make it, I'll be the stunningly handsome guy hanging around with the cute teenager that looks far too young to be with me, because that's just the way I roll. And if you say anything to me, so help me god I'll deck you. Unless I've been drinking, in which case I'll depant you first. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fauxbama Impression

Ok, I guess I got a bit wrapped into the whole primary season thing and might not have been paying quite as much attention to all the details surrounding the two main candidates as I could have, but dammit people, why didn't anyone tell me Barack Obama is black? I feel like such an asshole now, particularly since I worked so hard at getting my local Klan chapter to endorse him. Needless to say, I've got a bit of splaining to do with the boys back at the lodge.

But there's a bigger point to this: Why is Obama considered black? His mom was white. I mean, how is it not offensive to only say he's black just because he's also black? By Nazi standards, I'm Jewish. But I look about as Jewish as I do Martian. Why isn't he called half-black? Maybe it's just a skin-color thing, but then George Hamilton would qualify as black too.

Because again, I think it's a bit weird to act like he's only black. I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this, as I'd vote for him even if he was green, but I fail to understand why people act like the black thing is the only part that matters.

Bad Impression

And I was thinking about this while reading in the WaPo about a "Fauxbama" controversy when Saturday Night Live used a white actor to play Obama; which apparently upset people. But that's just dumb. First off, Fred Armisen was just the natural choice. He looks more like Obama than any of the others, and while he definitely needs to work on his impression more, it was pretty good for the first time. SNL has definitely had worse impressions.

And hell, I was surprised to read that Armisen was white-asian; as I had always thought he was Hispanic. He's played Hispanic guys alot and does a decent Hispanic accent. I had assumed he grew-up bi-lingual or something. And nobody complained about that (that I know of). And there have been other white guys playing black people, including Daryl Hammond's Jesse Jackson, which I always felt was a bit borderline.

So why is it such a big deal that a white guy played Obama? Especially since Obama is only half-black anyway. Should they have gotten a half-black, half-white dude to play him? Armisen was a decent choice, and besides, the point isn't the impression, it's the laugh. I just think this kind of thing is silly and even borderlines on racism. As if non-white races are a taint on white people which makes their children non-white. If someone's Italian-Irish, they say "Italian-Irish". You're not forced to pick one and stay with it. Thus said, I guess if he said he was "Black-White" there might be a bit of confusion about this. Perhaps "Euro-African" might be better, I don't know. The racial issues are still a bit confusing. I mean, what the hell are white people?

But in any case, I just think the whole race thing is way over-played in regards to Obama. Particularly as I've already spent the $2500 I raised at the Obama Klan rally I organized last week and these guys might be a little pissed if they found out I was collecting it for a negro. If nothing else, I'll just explain the whole mom situation and see if they'll accept $1250. These are Austin Klansmen, so they're much more leniant about that kind of thing than you might imagine. It's really more about the beer anyway.