Not Out Of The Woods Just Yet

November 11, 2012

So, have you heard the news? Everyone in the media with the exception of Fox has decided that Obama’s reëlection was a triumph of liberalism. Now that Romney, Ryan, and a host of Republicans who think that rape is a good thing have been defeated by a couple of percentage points nationally, the right wing is over and done with and we will never hear from them again. The Democrats are the new mainstream, and the only battles left to fight are how far to the left they will move things. (Fox is claiming instead that the Republicans weren’t white and right-wing enough, that the Democrats cheated — everywhere in the entire country at once, apparently — and that Hurricane Sandy was the only thing preventing a Romney landslide.) Isn’t that great?

If it turns out to be true, I will be ecstatic. But I am not so sanguine as the people (such as, apparently, every single writer for who are declaring victory. Read the rest of this entry »


A Mea Culpa and A Sad Realization

November 9, 2012

I have been arguing with some Obama supporters over in the comments section of one of PZ Myers’ posts, and not too long ago, while doing something else entirely, I realized that earlier I had written, and I quote (or, at least, copy and paste):

It would have been really easy to get me to vote for Obama this time around — all it would have taken would have been for Obama to take a stand on even one major piece of legislation (the 2012 NDAA would have been an excellent one, and originally he said he was going to veto it, before once again giving in to the Republicans and signing it) (but let’s face it, by that time, we all knew he was going to do that), and maybe actually make visible efforts to do positive things, instead of declaring defeat before even trying as he did again and again and again and again over the last four years. He wouldn’t even have to succeed, he would just have to give signs that he was actually trying.

I was entirely sincere about that, which is horrifying. I came to the realization a few hours ago that, in effect, this statement is equivalent to:

I would have voted for a man who orders the deaths of random foreigners, most of whom are demonstrably innocent, on a regular basis, provided he pretended he was reluctant about it and occasionally made an ineffectual show of working on something important.

That’s horrifying. I am ashamed of having said it, and I am more ashamed that it is really true. I would have voted for Obama, instead of Jill Stein (as I actually did, so at least I wasn’t that lost to ethics in practice), if he had fulfilled those conditions. Dear everyone: I am sorry for having held your lives in such low regard.

That being said, by using this more blunt phrasing, it has come home to me that 98 or 99 percent of Americans who voted (which is apparently around 60 percent of all registered voters, who in turn make up only around 65 percent of all adult citizens, so we’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 percent of eligible Americans) chose to vote for someone who either:

A. Orders the murder of demonstrably innocent foreigners by bombing on a regular basis and who was not only willing to sign into a law a bill which theoretically suspends habeas corpus (the 2012 NDAA*) but has sent people to defend this power from judicial review (this is Obama we’re talking about)


B. Has not technically done any of that, but is an enthusiastic supporter of both, and in fact promised to expand the bombing program (this would be Romney)

*I have seen people claim that Obama had to sign this bill into law in order to get other results. This is not only false — if Obama actually bothered to put effort into things, he would by then have had a long history of sending right-wing bills back with a note saying “I’m not going to sign this nonsense, send me another version without the garbage” and the Republicans would have had to learn to cope with it — but he has since been trying to keep those powers by making the argument that nobody has the standing to challenge it. He didn’t sign that provision into law reluctantly, he signed it deliberately; the reluctance was just an act for the rubes.

The entire primary and campaign process left us with two major parties running candidates who are enthusiastic murderers, and most Americans who bothered to vote chose one of these instead of one of the others. (I have no love for the Libertarians, but at least they didn’t run someone who thinks murder by drone bomb is a good idea.)

And the people arguing with me were telling me that, by rejecting Obama, I was being too perfectionist.

When did American standards for public officials drop to the point where murder is something you just have to learn to accept?

I wish my fellow countrymen wouldn’t keep giving me rhinoceros moments.

A Challenge for Democrats

November 7, 2012

Okay, you won the election. You can’t complain about the Green Party spoiling the election, because it didn’t. So, time for you to actually put your money where your mouth has been: for the last month, Democrats have been saying, in effect, vote for Democrats, they’ll do good things this time, we promise, not like the last couple of decades. So: act on that. Here’s a list of stuff you could try; I’m betting we won’t see more than one taken up with any seriousness.

Actually investigate the systematic voter fraud the Republicans were undertaking in multiple states, and follow it up with punishments for those involved and legislative action to prevent it from happening again. If that means a national code, then so be it. You have two years before the next election and four before the next presidential election.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats don’t want to get too far into subversion of the vote, or else they would reveal how they tied up with the Republicans to exclude any and all third parties. Oh, and since it was Republicans doing it this time, Fox News will squawk if anyone investigates, and Democrats are too chickenshit to actually brave that out.
Either eliminate the filibuster in the Senate or require that filibusters actually involve non-stop talking as the popular imagination has it. This will let you actually accomplish things in the Senate, even if the House is still screwed up by the Republicans.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats need an excuse for why they aren’t actually doing anything. Being able to blame their own lack of action on the Republicans is perfect for them.
Shut Gitmo down. According to our own military, about ¾ of the prisoners there are innocent. We have actionable evidence against the rest. There’s no reason whatsoever to keep this blot on our reputation around.
Reason it won’t happen: the Democrats have been complicit in keeping it open so far; to admit they were wrong will draw attention to this. And Obama loves authoritarian measures. Besides which, Fox News will squawk.
Break up the “Too Big To Fail” banks. They’re just disasters waiting to happen (again).
Reason it won’t happen: Obama is in the pocket of the banks, along with about 90% of the other national-level Democrats. They contribute a lot of money, and are instrumental in ensuring that retired politicians always have lots of good opportunities. Obama would sooner put his wife in jail than your average bank executive.
Put an end to the “faith-based initiatives”. They are mostly likely unconstitutional, they are fairly controversial, and everyone who has examined them in detail has concluded that they actually do a worse job of helping people than ordinary secular government programs.
Reason it won’t happen: Fox News would claim it was persecution of Christians.
Drop marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. The science shows the stuff is vastly less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, it has legitimate medical applications, we could get huge tax revenues out of it, keeping it illegal is filling up prisons for no good reason, the ban helps destabilize other governments, and by making marijuana as illegal as other more serious drugs we give dealers a reason to push those other drugs — which are more profitable — on drug users, which does more damage. Pretty much every aspect of the whole thing is bad policy. (And, incidentally, I have never smoked marijuana. I also don’t drink or smoke, not that that’s relevant. I have no horse in this race, beyond a hatred of transparently bad policy.)
Reason it won’t happen: Obama loves authoritarianism, remember? And, of course, the prison-related interest groups are among the strongest in American politics. They control a lot of votes and a lot of money.
Pull America out of Afghanistan, plus all the other countries where Congress hasn’t approved deployment (which is more than you would think). We don’t even have a clear set of conditions for what it would mean to “win” in Afghanistan; it’s just a money pit. If you’re concerned about the people left to the Taliban, offer all the women a ride to the U.S., a decade-long pension, and citizenship. It will still cost less than the million dollars per soldier per year we’re paying to stay there right now.
Reason it won’t happen: no president is ever willing to end a military occupation, because the opposition will claim that they were the reason we “lost”. Unfortunately, that’s the only lesson American politicians learned from the whole Vietnam debacle.
Actually cut the military budget. And by “cut” I don’t mean the usual weaseling “we’re still going to raise the actual dollar amount of funding, but by less than we thought we would”, I mean actually lower the dollar amount year over year, with no post-budget debt-based appropriations bills. A nation which is shutting down schools and letting people starve has no business spending trillions on the military.
Reason it won’t happen: Obama loves the military. He loves having command, and he fully approves of authoritarianism and curtailed civil rights. He’s actually deployed the armed forces to more countries than Bush did. And besides, Fox News would squawk if the flow of taxpayer money to rich military contractors started to shut down.
Build concentrating solar power stations across the country. (Not high-tech photovoltaic cells, which are filled with toxic chemicals and involve power storage problems, concentrating solar power.) It’s a remarkably safe technology, it would create lots of jobs, it definitely works, it has no carbon footprint, the stations don’t wear out or turn toxic, and it keeps generating power when the sun has set (unlike photovoltaic solar systems). We could generate enough power for the whole country’s power grid using a total surface area which was a fraction of the wasteland in west Texas; spread out, the land usage would be almost unnoticeable.
Reason it won’t happen: Democrats don’t actually want to solve global warming. Not when it’s such a great rallying point. Besides, no doubt Fox would come up with talking points against it, and the whole “chickenshit” thing comes up again.

I may add some more in the coming days.

As I said: even though these are all good ideas, my firm belief is that the Democrats won’t even try to do most of them. At best, there may be some action on one or two. (Probably the vote fraud thing, because it endangers their ability to get elected. But they won’t take the investigation all the way to the top, just put a few small fry in prison.)

Election Called

November 7, 2012

So, instead of the guy who would let the rich remain untaxed, do nothing about global warming, increase our dependency on oil, help the banks continue to commit fraud and get away with it, expand our already incredibly bloated military funding, escalate a needless and endless and wasteful “war on drugs”, assassinate people without due process or oversight, erode civil liberties, and probably get us into a needless war with Iran, we elected a guy who will let the rich remain untaxed, do nothing about global warming, increase our dependency on oil, help the banks continue to commit fraud and get away with it, expand our already incredibly bloated military funding, escalate a needless and endless and wasteful “war on drugs”, assassinate people without due process or oversight, erode civil liberties, and probably get us into a needless war with Iran.

But he’s black, or at least black-ish, and he has promised to stop trying to hurt gay people, or least not as much as he was, so it’s all okay, right?

Democracy is a mixed blessing.

Spoilers Ahead

November 6, 2012

I am not voting for either of the two major party candidates for president this year.

It goes without saying, actually, that I won’t be voting for Romney; the man has demonstrated that he’s dishonest and evil. To say nothing of the fact that he’s in a transparently false religion, which he seems to want to force on people. (And his running mate actually manages to be a worse person than he is.)

But I won’t be voting for Obama, either, despite being a registered Democrat who has in past elections only voted for Democratic presidential candidates, and I’d like to go on record with the reasons why, before the election is over, so that one way or another I can refer back to this article afterwards.
Read the rest of this entry »