Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary night!

At one point tonight, I was in the presence of not one, not two, but THREE Sarah Palins! I have never been so scared in all my life. Oddly, in person she is much more masculine than on t.v. At least, two of her were.

My Halloween wish is that by next Friday, she will be safely back in her home state and I won't ever have to hear the word Maverick again (except when I choose to watch Top Gun).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's Halloween: Who wants to hear a scary story?

Newest RNC ad in opposition to Barack Obama:

Picture a choppy ocean and storm clouds. Ominious voiceover says "we count on presidents to lead us. Some say this storm can't get worse, so Obama's quick rise to power and lack of experience can't hurt us. But what if it does get worse?"

Which reminds me of that scene from "The Truman Show." Poor Truman has been battered by the manufactured storm and shouts defiantly at whatever powers are out there, "Is that all you've got?"

Seriously, RNC, is that all you've got? Don't vote for their guy 'cause the world could get a lot worse? We hope to scare the bejeebus out of you so you'll be too afraid to vote for the other guy.

It's the same crap fear-mongering they've been peddling for 7 years now. And it's really a sad reflection on the state of the McCain campaign that the best message they can come up with is, "vote for us 'cause the country could slide closer to hell."

Voters: reject this message. We're stronger and better than this. We really don't have to be guided for fear. Let's be like the Verizon users in those commercials. The spooky-voiced person tries to warn the newcomer about the dead zone. But like the people in those commercials, we don't have to be afraid. Look back over your shoulders and remember the tens of thousands of people attending Obama's rallies. Turn back to the spooky narrator and say, calmly, "I've got the America network, so I'll be ok."

Reason #71 why I need this election to be over

Despite two alarms and a usually-eager-to-wake pup, this morning is the second morning in a row I have overslept, thereby missing my van pool. Who knows how much longer I'd have gone this morning if I hadn't gotten a phone call wondering where I was.

I guess I could be concerned for my health, make a visit to the doctor, go on sleeping pills. I should address this aggressively before my sleep cycle spirals out of control and becomes a serious health issue. Or maybe I could just stop reading political blogs until after midnight every night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trading Places

I'm trying to remember exactly how I felt and what I said in the lead up to the 2000 election. I know I was horrified at who the other side had nominated. I'm sure I was mystified about what they saw in this guy. I was furious that the campaign was not a rout, as I felt it clearly should have been. How could our clearly intelligent, qualified, sitting vice president be in danger of losing to that yahoo who had ruined every business his daddy had ever bought for him? I thought a Bush presidency would be a disaster. And in 2004, I was even more mystified. In that year, it would be more accurate to say I was enraged. Surely we couldn't be falling for this guy's crap again??

In both of those election years, I pissed and moaned and gnashed my teeth. I expressed outrage and fear for our future. I'm sure I made my fair share of gloom and doom predictions. The sky was definitely falling and it was perhaps enough to make me wonder if Armageddon was on its way (and I'm an atheist!).

I'm trying to keep all that in mind in the final days leading up to this current election. It seems with each passing day that the anti-Obama voters are sounding more desperate, giving into despair. They bemoan the beginning of socialism, the end of our country as we know it if Obama wins. It's unfathomable, how are we losing to this guy, we'll never survive. The words are different, but in spirit they now sound very much like I did in the last two campaign seasons.

But here's the thing: it's kind of hard to ignore the fact that I was right in 2000 and 2004. Does anyone really want to argue that the Bush administration hasn't been the most disastrous administration in this country's history? It's definitely top 3 at least. We've regressed to engaging in torture, endlessly incarcerating anyone we want to at Gitmo, and spying on our own damn citizens. We're mired in two wars, with no sign that we have any long-term strategy or end game for either one. We've lost the respect we once had as the leading nation in the world. It's dangerous and naive to think that the opinion the rest of the world has about us shouldn't be of concern to us. It seems to me we are more socially divided and more distrustful than ever. And our economy is a wreck. So it seems that hindsight makes all my gloom and doom predictions seem not so nuts.

Now maybe the anti-Obama folks could be ultimately proven right if (knock on wood) Obama wins next Tuesday. And maybe hindsight will again convince me I was right all along. But either way, I can't shake the idea that it's just my turn to win and their turn to worry. I endured the 8 years Bush voters put me through. It's now my turn to have a go at it with the candidate I support. We tried it their way; it didn't work. So now let's try it my way.

I promise in 4 years, if Obama turns out to be as scary as the anti-Obama crowd thinks, I will let them all say, "I told you so."

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Someone needs to remove "BrickBreaker" from my Blackberry. Seriously. My vision is blurry, my eyes are dry, and my hand is cramping. I need an intervention.

Sunday thoughts

Herm Edwards frankly has no business being an NFL head coach. Up 3 with about 6 minutes to go and Brett Favre on the opposite sideline, Herm (and his offensive coordinator, but the buck stops with Herm) ran 3 times. With an unproven running back. While we did take a good 2 minutes off the clock, we did not get a first down and had to punt from a spot that wouldn't give the Jets terrible field position. You just can't win in the NFL by playing that conservatively. Nor should you. Tyler Thigpen may not be the most awe-inspiring quarterback in the league, but check out these stats: 25/36, 280 yards, 2 tds, 0 ints. His qb rating throughout the game was hovering in the 150 range. (If you don't know football, that's a downright phenomenal number.) So, Herm, when we've got 3rd and 4 and need a first down to keep Brett Favre from pulling a Brett Favre, let your qb throw the dang ball to your Hall of Fame tight end or your can-out-jump-any-corner wide receiver. But you didn't do that, did you? You were content to punt the ball. And lose.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Troy Davis Roller Coaster Continues

After the US Supreme Court rejected Troy Davis' cert petition, the state of Georgia set an execution date of October 27th. Yesterday, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (federal court) granted another stay. They asked the sides to brief an interesting question that essentially boils down to can we have sufficient confidence in a verdict to uphold a conviction while not feeling confident enough to uphold a death sentence.

While I am happy anytime an execution is stayed, I am a little troubled by an idea that seems fairly prevalent among the public, and I believe also among capital juries. There seems to be an idea that if we're not sure of a defendant's guilt, we should err on the side of convicting, but sentencing to life in prison. Somehow if we have a doubt about the defendant's guilt, the remedy seems to have transformed into a life sentence rather than a new trial or a flat-out acquittal. Because it would be a travesty to kill a guy who is actually innocent. But isn't it also a pretty big travesty to incarcerate a man for the rest of his life if he is actually innocent?

It seems to me if we don't have enough confidence in a defendant's guilt to justify a death sentence, we shouldn't be incarcerating the guy at all. In Troy Davis' case, we really shouldn't just commute the sentence to life and walk away. Nor should we walk away from other defendant's who have compelling cases for innocence or who suffered serious trial flaws just because those defendants were not sentenced to death. A life spent wrongly incarcerated is just as wasted as one prematurely terminated by the state.

One of the reasons many people prefer life in prison to the death penalty is the ability to correct the mistakes. I hope the courts that look at Troy Davis' case and those like his don't decide they've sufficiently corrected mistakes by commuting death sentences to life. If there is so much doubt about a defendant's guilt that a court feels uncomfortable allowing a death sentence to be carried out, how can they feel comfortable allowing the conviction to stand?


The dog is not broken. She is, in fact, suffering no ill effects from her mishap last night. She was subdued, even scared, for the rest of the evening. She curled up on our laps and was not at all a pest as we ate. Around 11, she stood up from my lap and started kissing me on my face. (Yes, I let my dog lick me. On the face. Deal with it.) She was letting me know that all was forgiven, though she still wasn't exactly a happy dog.

This morning, though, she was back to her usual happy self. Don't ever tell me dogs don't smile. Last night, she was most definitely not smiling. One look at her face and you could see she was sad. Today, she is back to smiling.

I like happy, smiling dog much better than sad, scared dog.

Maybe she's not entirely over her fright, though. She hasn't wanted to play with the orange squeaky ball today.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I broke my dog

We were playing with her favorite toy, the orange squeaky ball. As we usually do, we played tug with the ball. I guess I tugged too hard while she was standing up on her hind legs. She flipped backwards and landed hard on her back. Did I mention we were not in the carpeted living room but the tiled front entry?

She did not yelp and got right up, but she is clearly not well. She ran away from me, trembling and looking scared, tail tucked. How heartbreaking to see your dog run away from you, scared. My friend showed up at the front door at the very moment that Maddie ran away from the front room.

We both have checked her out. Clearly she hurts somewhere, but we think it's just a bruised tail bone. She has jumped on and off furniture, but she is most definitely subdued. And she is not eager to be near me. I am sure she will be fine (I am), but I am not entirely sure how long it will be until she forgives me.

I admit I have already tried to bribe her with a cheese biscuit. She has not eaten the biscuit. Not a good sign.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Someone did not learn Prince's lesson

Beyonce has given herself a new name:

Sasha Fierce.

There is no joke I can add to this. That name is all the punchline any comedian could hope for. I do think it is clear that Christian from Project Runway must be her stylist.


To my male readers: stop reading this post now. It's about women things that you have no interest in or desire to know anything about. Move on to the next post.

Ok, ladies, now that it's just us, there's something I just have to get off my chest. Be forewarned -- I'm about to share lots of personal thoughts on feminine hygiene. My mother has generally been a wonderful mother, raising me well, devoting her time and energy to me, etc. But she failed me in one big way. She raised me to be afraid of tampons.

Mom grew up in an era when tampons were not commonly used. She thought beltless maxi pads were an amazing revolution. Soon after I was born in the early 70s, she had a hysterectomy. So when tampons became a really big thing in the 70s, she had no need for them and thus no first-hand experience with them. But she did hear all about the Toxic Shock scare. I think she even knew someone who had become really sick from TSS.

So Mom thought tampons were really bad. When I started having my period, she bought me maxi pads and only maxi pads. Tampons were verbotten. And being a teenager, I was terrified to try something as scary as the TSS sticks without the help of an experienced user. So I stuck with pads. Thankfully, the ultraslim ones came out when I was still a teenager! But I always hated my period. I hated the smell. I hated the mess. I hated having to be so careful about what clothes I wore. I hated having to be careful about how I sat, what activities I took part in, and how I stood up. I hated that I had to carry a purse or a bag because you couldn't discreetly carry a pad around in your pocket. I never got a good night's sleep because I had to sleep in an unnatural position for me to prevent leakage. And I hated feeling like I was wearing a diaper. I was just always completely miserable for 4 or 5 days.

I finally broke free from the chains of my mother's tampon phobia when I was 25 and getting ready to go to law school. If I was going to be just like Ally McBeal, surely I had to liberate myself from my maxi pad prison. Ally never seemed as abjectly miserable as I did and she wore such fabulous suits that I wouldn't be able to wear if I stuck with pads. So I decided I was a big girl now and could figure out how to use a damn tampon. I made the switch and I have never looked back. Turns out I should never have been forced to be a pad user. I am a tampon girl through and through.

Now I hardly notice my period. I'm aware of it, of course, but the only real impact it has on me anymore is in my sex life. And cramps, but I can live with those. I never feel smelly or messy or gross. I wear whatever I want. I run or lift weights. I go anywhere because those little tampons fit in most any pocket.

I hate to admit it, but I feel a little bit of resentment towards my mother. I didn't have to hate that one week each month. I didn't have to feel awkward and smelly and disgusting. I know she meant well and just didn't want me to be unhealthy, but damn, maybe I would have grown into my self-confidence a little earlier if I had felt really free to find my own feminine hygiene comfort zone instead of being relegated to my mom's.

And, yes, I know if this is the worst thing I can say about my mom, I got pretty lucky in the mom department!
The other day I had to stop for gas before heading home from several hours away. I had already driven 3 hours that day to present at a seminar. I had not really yet eaten anything substantive that day.

At the gas pump, I swiped my credit card and let the gas flow (at $2.27 a gallon! Yay!). Then one of the women in the car on the other side of the pump approached me and asked me for a few dollars to buy gas. Of course she had a story of woe, how her car's gas gauge was broken so she'd had no way of realizing how close to out of gas she was, how she was trying to get home to her babies. I always hate that part of the encounter when they try really hard to sell me on the reality of their need. The truth is I don't really need to be sold; I'm the sort that will try to give someone a few bucks if I can. I didn't really care why she'd run out of gas or had no money or credit card to buy a few dollars worth of gas. I had no reason to doubt her that she really was out of gas. Her friend or sister was in the car, clearly trying to call someone to come help them out.

Here's where my real dilemma came in: I had a 10, a 20, and about 2 bucks in quarters. I also had the credit card I had just used on my own pump still in my pocket. So how much should I give this woman? My first thought was that I wished I still had that 5 dollar bill that I had just used to pay the parking garage. Obviously I didn't want to give her 20. I may be nice and all, but that seemed too much. But the $2 in quarters didn't seem like enough. I think it was actually $2.25, so it was enough to buy her almost exactly one gallon. If they were within about a 25 or 30 mile radius, that would get them home.

This has been bugging me for a few days. Should I have given the 10? Why was I so reluctant to use my credit card to put about 6 or 7 dollars worth of gas in their car? In the end, I gave them the quarters and felt bad as I drove away. They were still there even after I pulled out of the neighboring fast food restaurant where I stopped to get a drink for the ride home. $2.25 doesn't buy as much gas as it used to. So what would you have done? Is it silly that it's still bugging me whether I was too stingy?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why I Don't Live in Oklahoma

Part 3 in a series. If this series keeps going, I might not be able to live in any state. (But, in all fairness, I could probably come up with at least 3 blog topics under the heading "Why I Don't Live in Kansas" and yet I obviously stay in Kansas.)

The Oklahoma state legislature has passed a new law requiring doctors perform an ultrasound before performing an abortion. The doctor must make the screen visible to the woman (though the law does not go so far as to require the woman to look at the screen), the doctor must provide a running commentary on the ultrasound, and must describe the heartbeat and the presence of internal organs, fingers, and toes. I hope this script, unlike the South Dakota one I blogged about previously, is medically and scientifically correct. Apparently the law also makes medical abortions practically impossible by mandating the drugs and follow-up care be administered in a way that doesn't comport with the standard care protocol. I have no idea how this law would affect Plan B. Would a hospital be required to perform an ultrasound on a rape victim before giving her the drug that will make sure she isn't pregnant by her rapist?

Is there any other area in which legislators feel this free to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship? Dictate specific procedures and dictate the script the doctor must read while performing the procedure? It is micromanagement of a sort we're not supposed to want in a free society. I feel confident in saying that the legislators who passed this particular bill would generally be of the more conservative ilk who would wish for ever smaller government. But of course they will abandon that core principle if the issue is right.

I am all for informed consent, in all medical procedures. But we've already got mechanisms in place to protect patients. They can sue in civil court if they feel they were not fully informed and made the wrong decision based on their lack of information. Medical boards can censure or suspend licenses of doctors who fail to inform their patients before performing procedures, I presume. And there are criminal battery laws, too, if the patient really doesn't consent at all. So why do we need a legislature to step in and dictate the steps a doctor must take to assure a patient is fully informed before consenting to this particular procedure? And why isn't the legislature so concerned about the patients facing open heart surgery or having their wisdom teeth removed?

Because, once again, this law isn't about making sure women have as much information as possible before making their decision. No, this law is about making sure women don't have abortions. The lawmakers who passed it want to make it as practically and emotionally difficult as they possibly can. They hope to make doctors throw up their hands at all the micromanagement and just get out of the business altogether. They hope to shame, harangue, and batter women into making the "right" decision. They can't convince the majority in America that all abortion should be illegal so they're trying to chip away at it bit by bit.

But I'm guessing that the legislature of Oklahoma has other things it could spend its time on. Education, criminal laws, energy policy just for starters. So legislature, why don't you deal with thsoe issues and leave the doctors and patients alone to decide when to choose constitutionally-protected medical procedures?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Here's a video people should watch about ACORN. The video is basically a response to the outcry John McCain has been trying to raise about ACORN's attempt to perpetrate the greatest fraud on democracy. Those darn left-wing activists and their fradulent attempts to register masses of people the right-wing doesn't want to vote!

Sorry for not embedding it, but I'm feeling a tad too lazy to deal with that right now. Just click the link and watch it.

I have to toot my college's horn here as the bearded man interviewed throughout the video graduated from my fine undergraduate institution. I did not know him personally as he was a few years ahead of me, but this will not stop me from


This is just an appalling story that needs to be shared.

Customer finds racial slur on store receipt. The link includes a photo of the actual receipt. The man returned a pair of shoes after finding a cheaper pair at another store. When I worked retail, we had to fill out a little paperwork when we did a return, so I'm assuming that's what happened here. Evidently, the cashier had to input that information into the register. One of the pieces of information that showed up on the printed receipt was "Cust:". According to the receipt, the customer was "Dumb N******." Here's where it gets even worse: the store's explanation suggests that the cashier wouldn't have typed that in, s/he would have just selected one of 6 options. Surely one of the options is a manual entry, right? Otherwise the register was already programmed to spew out this possible option.

I have shopped at this mall a lot. I grew up just a few blocks and walked to that mall every weekend. I don't believe I have ever entered this particular shoe store before and I can guarantee I will not ever enter it now.

Every time I am confronted by something like this, I'm still shocked. How are we still producing people who think this crap is funny or acceptable? And who still really feel this way?

Monday, October 20, 2008

My new favorite true crime story

The headline says it all: 89 year-old charged with keeping kids' ball.

According to this news report, the woman was arrested for petty theft for refusing to return a football to the neighborhood kids after the ball landed in her yard.

We all had that yard in the neighborhood, the one that we wanted to keep away from, not cut through, and definitely not knock our balls into because the old man or woman was just too mean and would hassle us. Of course that would also then be the yard most likely to be TP'd or to have yard gnomes go missing.

Calling the cops on the lady is taking the neighborhood dispute to a whole new level.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Prison isn't a pleasant place to be. It's cement and metal, which means there's a lot of echo. There are always lights on. Where you can be is controlled 24 hours a day. When you have to get up, when you have to eat, when you can shower, all these things are decided for you. There's no real privacy. You are subject to strip searches, you have to shower in front of other people, you can't even shut out all other eyes when you go to the bathroom. No matter what sort of nice programs your prison has, no matter what lax rules it has towards what clothes you can wear or what things (like televisions or radios) you can have in your cell, no matter how good the recreation facilities and food may be, you're still locked up 24/7.

So prison sucks. We don't really need to make it as absolutely awful, dehumanizing, undignified, and wretched as we can. Yet I find an awful lot of prisons seem to go out of their way to take away as many little things as they can from inmates. I can think of no reason for this other than spite. Surely we can let individual prisoners have their own, personal underwear rather than making them wear underwear from a collective pile. I don't care how good the washing machine is; I don't want to wear underwear after it's been worn by someone else. Surely we can let them wear a real pair of shoes, not just flip flops. Surely we can let them have adequate time and tools for basic personal hygiene. Surely we can let them have some basic human contact, decent reading and education materials, maybe even a little counseling or anger management classes. Most of them will get out one day, so why not let them gain some useful tools and skills so they can have decent lives when they do get out?

Yes, most people in prison have done some bad things and deserve punishment. But being locked up inside prison is already punishment enough. Really, it is. We don't have to make it as harsh and unbearable as we possibly can. We can show inmates a little compassion and decency without being "soft on crime" and without insulting the memory of their victims or forgetting the horror of their crimes.

Once they're sentenced and incarcerated, how we choose to treat prison inmates says a lot more about us than it does about them.
John McCain and the RNC are frustrated with the way Barack Obama has funded his campaign. They fear it is the death knell for publicly-funded campaigns. They distrust his donor list because of the extraordinary number of unidentified donors (those who have given under $200). I agree this campaign may mark a turning point in the way we fund presidential campaigns in the future, but I just can't see how Obama's fundraising is a bad thing at all.

I believe the majority of my friends have donated to Obama, but in small amounts. I myself have given several times but only this weekend passed the $200 mark. They have made it easy and appealing to donate in small amounts, a little bit at a time. They have found ways to connect with students via Facebook and other similar sites. They have convinced those small donors that even $25 would help. I know when I was a broke college student, I didn't have any idea that such a small donation to a presidential campaign would do any good. But the Obama campaign has managed to convince hundreds of thousands of broke college students that all of their itty bitty donations add up to a big stockpile of cash.

Maybe it is time to revisit how tax money adds to campaign funds, but I don't think this will be the end of publicly financed campaigns. I mean, if millions of people donating small dollar amounts to a campaign isn't public financing, what is?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The worst member of Congress

Hey Michelle Bachmann: You want an investigation into the possible "Anti-American" views of any members of Congress? How about we start with you? Because suggesting that there is some set of views that are acceptable for Congress members to hold (the "pro-American" set) and another set of views that would be unacceptable (the "Anti-American" set) might be considered "Anti-American" by some.

And by suggesting that there may be "Anti-American" members of Congress, what exactly are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that those members are pursuing policies and initiatives that are detrimental to the well-being, even national security, of our country? That they are somehow actively working against our nation's best interests? Because, well, that sounds an awful lot like treason. Treason is punishable by death, so that seems like a pretty serious crime. Maybe you should think a little bit more before you start down a path of suggesting that your fellow members of Congress might be Anti-American.

And when someone asks you if you're really saying 30% of the country is "Anti-American," the only correct answer is "No." But you couldn't bring yourself to utter that simple word. Am I being "Anti-American" if I call you an extremist wackjob?

To all my Minnesota friends: could you please move to her district in the next day or two so you can vote against this nutbag?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hey, state: When you know that the truth is one thing, but you do your absolute damndest to lead the jury to believe it is really something else, you're doing a bad thing. I don't really care how much of a "good faith basis" you can claim you have for clinging to your believe that the truth could be something else. You and I both know it isn't. I know you have personally confronted the real truth.

You were probably going to win, anyway. Was it really necessary to risk an ethics complaint and possibly run afoul of an appellate court mandate? Were you just so pissed at me for winning the first round that you had to do something to make sure I was as pissed no matter the outcome of round two?


The US Supreme Court denied Troy Davis' cert petition today. I guess I can't really be surprised, but I can be disappointed. Technically, the standard of review at every level now is against granting Mr. Davis relief. He has been duly convicted by a jury at a trial. He has had appellate review of that trial and further review of his counsel's performance. It's certainly easy for everyone to hide behind all that and say simply that he's had all the process he's due, so there is no reason to prevent the state from executing him. Except that there's lots of evidence a jury never heard that suggests someone else pulled the trigger. And many of the eyewitnesses who id'd Mr. Davis as the shooter say they were pressured to make those ids. So what good is all that damn process if we have more questions about his guilt or innocence now than we did before his trial?

At some point, someone just has to stop hiding behind procedure and do the right thing. Somebody, a judge, a pardon board, a governor: someone has to find the courage to be the one (or ones) to stop this from happening. Where's the judge who freed Reuben "Hurricane" Carter when we need him? That federal judge would have had the full weight of procedure on his side if he'd decided to deny Carter relief. But he didn't hide behind that. He saw a manifest injustice come into his courtroom and he decided to fix it. He went out on a limb, all by his lonely self, and did the right thing.

It's an absolute tragedy that no one has been willing to stand up and do the same for Troy Davis.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is it too much to hope that we can get through the rest of this campaign season without any more racist junk (like the guy in Louisiana who was arrested for making threats when he called the county clerk's office insisting he needed to get his voter registration card so he could make sure the "n-----" didn't get elected) or any Muslim bashing?

It seems there has been quite an uptick in referring to Barack Obama's middle name. Of course there's nothing wrong with his middle name and I'm sure he's fine with it. It's the name his mother gave him, after all. But people aren't using his middle name to show respect. They're using his middle name to make people think he's a dangerous terrorist. The only other Hussein most people can name is that bad guy from Iraq who once tried to kill W's dad, after all. (Calling W by his middle initial is different as he shares his first and last name with his father, also a president. Granted, I've been known to switch it from Dubya to "Dumbass", but it's still at least a fair reason for regularly using his middle initial to refer to him.) It's not a coincidence that the uptick in using the middle name has coincided with Sarah Palin's steady references to Obama's "terrorist" pal. Many people who have been attending McCain/Palin rallies in recent days have certainly picked up on that and made much of Obama's name and called him a terrorist. He's a United States Senator, for crying out loud!

There were the ballots in a county of New York state that listed the Democratic candidate as "Barack Osama." I really, really, really want to believe that was an innocent mistake. Certainly the county has acted swiftly to correct the error and send out proper ballots. But there is a little voice in the corner of my head that wonders if this was really a mistake? After all, I have seen many, many anti-Obama signs noting the similarity between Obama's name and the name of the world's worst guy.

And there are still thousands of people who cling to this belief that Obama is a Muslim. The clear implication from many of these people being that they would never, ever vote for a Muslim. I no longer want to challenge the belief that he's something other than what he is. I am now just so damn pissed off at the repugnant, intolerant idea that if he were in fact Muslim, that would disqualify him for the presidency.

John McCain FINALLY stood up to some of this crap at a rally yesterday. Said Obama is not an Arab, is a good and decent family man, and deserves all of our respect. And how did some in the crowd respond? They booed.

So maybe it is too much to hope. So I'll just hope for it all to be over soon. I can't take much more of the ugliness. So could someone please just knock me out today and wake me up on November 5th?

Endnote: For the record, I would be just as unhappy with racist or intolerant comments made at Obama rallies and aimed at McCain. I would also not ever want to hear booing of McCain and would be mightily disappointed in Obama if he didn't shush the crowd. I just haven't heard of any Obama rallies involving ugly crowd moments and cries of "kill him" aimed at the opponent.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sarah Palin cleared!

By herself. Umm... I thought ethics were supposed to be her "thing." So shouldn't she get that the ethics probe needs to be conducted by people who aren't her?

She issued her own report tonight, pre-empting tomorrow's expected report from the lawmakers who have been conducting the actual probe. Well, I guess that settles it then. She didn't do anything wrong at all. Oh, and she really did say "thanks, but no thanks" to that bridge.

I'm just confused about one thing. I thought she was trying to run on a claim that she would bring "change" and "reform" to Washington. That she and McCain would not be just like the guys we can't wait to get rid of. She sure coulda fooled me, 'cause this sounds like something those Bush/Cheney folks would do.
I'm sure even those of you not from Kansas have heard of our Phelps clan. The Phelps clan lives and works in Topeka, with their Westboro Baptist Church as their hive. They are known throughout the nation as those wacky gay-haters whose disturbed ideology leads them to protest at soldiers' funerals. It seems that each dead soldier (and each blown-up space shuttle and each hurricane, etc.) is a welcome blessing from god who is trying desperately to punish us for our sinful, gay-accepting ways so that we can all repent and save our souls before we die.

Here in Kansas, they do a lot more than just protest military funerals. They can be seen regularly, protesting outside random businesses, courts, and public events that have media coverage. I've even seen them protesting outside a high school. (I don't know what that high school or school board had done -- probably allowed a book with a homosexual character to remain in the library.) Their chants are hate-filled. Their signs bear awful slogans and rather vile stick figures. They include all of their children in their protests. No matter how many times you see them, it's always jarring to see kids whole-heartedly participating in this stuff.

It makes no sense. They're awful, hateful, and generally considered a huge embarrassment to our state. (I'd say they're more embarrassing than our evolution fight.) I wish they'd all just shut up already. I won't be sad when Daddy, Fred, dies, and I sincerely hope the church (which is almost entirely made up of just this large family) folds.

But I don't want to use the courts to silence them. That seems like a bit of a First Amendment problem to me. Courts should not be in the business of putting vile protesters out of business. I'm troubled enough by the lawsuits families of dead soldiers have filed. A family in Maryland won a huge judgment against the clan that could bankrupt the whole lot. I personally think it would be a travesty if that judgment stands because I don't think an exercise of speech, no matter how despicable the actual message, should be considered "infliction of emotional distress" in a civil lawsuit.

My bigger beef right now, though, is with a prosecutor in Nebraska who is attempting to prosecute one of the main family members for flag desecration and child endangerment. The incident occurred at a military funeral protests. Shirley Phelps-Roper wore an American flag as a skirt that dragged on the ground. She further let her 10 year-old son stand on a flag. My question is: where the hell is the crime? Like it or not, using a flag (your own, personal property) as a prop at a protest to symbolize your discontent with some aspect of government is the exact kind of political speech the First Amendment was meant to protect. The fact is that this prosecutor is going after this woman simply because he or she hates her message. The prosecutor wants to silence the defendant. I agree completely that the message is despicable. But using the criminal justice system to punish them because you hate their message is a far more despicable act than anything the Phelps did at this funeral.

The United States Supreme Court has already held that flag desecration is protected speech and the context of this protest wouldn't seem to provide any legitimate basis for the court to somehow distinguish this fact pattern and allow it to be criminal in this case. Knowing that precedent exists, how can any prosecutor think it right to charge someone for flag desecration at a protest? That prosecutor is on thin ethical ice in pursuing a criminal charge that s/he ought to know violates the most fundamental of rights. The district court simply has to grant the defendant's motion to dismiss the case. I don't want to have to live next to a state that would allow such a blatantly unconstitutional prosecution proceed to trial. I don't want to have to live in a country where people like the Phelps' can't peacefully state their message without fear of governmental action against them.

I wish I didn't have to hear their message. But I want to be free from it because they've collectively seen the light or they've just faded away. I would much rather listen to their hate-filled chants than be forced to live with their court-imposed silence.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Most Dangerous (drinking) Game

John McCain said "My friends" twice in his first answer. It's a good thing I don't have a drink or I would be trashed by his third answer...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Really, OJ should be glad he gets to go to prison for a while. He vowed never to stop looking for the real killer and he's probably already exhausted every golf course in the country. So it was time to try somewhere new. And where better to look for the real killer than in prison.

Happy hunting, OJ.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I've been got

When did "Gotcha! Journalism" become the new phrase? 'Cause I've never heard it spoken of before Sarah Palin became a candidate for VP. But now it's being said by everyone. John McCain decries certain questions (like whether his VP candidate is saying things just like comments he has criticized his opponent for making) as being unfair "gotcha" journalism. Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller were just chatting about "gotcha" journalists as if we all have known for years who these specific journalists are that practice only this despicable form of low-brow journalism. It's the spin for how to respond to any bad answer Palin gives to any question. (Not that Bill O'Reilly would ever spin anything...) Turn the tables and claim the question just wasn't fair. The reporter is mean, maybe even unethical.

I get that in the history of our country, there have probably been examples of journalists asking the odd question now and then that was specifically intended to trip up the interviewee. I just didn't know there was an entire sector of the media that practiced only this mean, unfair "gotcha" journalism.

But has there really been a huge upswing in the practice in the past few weeks, that justifies this new category label? Or has there just been one candidate who has displayed herself to have no clue how to answer some pretty basic questions? I'm gonna go with the latter. Just because the questionee doesn't have an answer, doesn't mean the question was unfair.
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