Thursday, September 30, 2010

I don't really think there's a way to present these findings without pissing off a lot of people.

This really doesn't surprise me in the least:

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

"Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey," said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

Let's all take a moment to be smug about that. Done? Okay.

I remember back in my younger, more assholish days debating the religion on the internets, and my big scare factor was that although I wasn't a person of faith, I was raised Catholic, so I knew that bible inside and out. So don't try to fool me, fundies, 'cause read something once. I know your game.

Ah, more assholish days, how I miss you sometimes.  

Anyway, someone informed me that stating I was raised Catholic really doesn't boost up my bible-learnin' bona fides, as the fact that Catholics don't actually read the bible is somewhat of a running joke within the Church. To which I was like, what the hell did they do to pass the time during the Sunday faith marathon then? Because what with the mass and the Sunday school classes and all, it gets a bit long and boring. I guess to pass the time they'd just tell jokes about Catholics. Or more likely be devout, because I suppose a lot of them took it more seriously then I did.

The obvious, enjoyable and cliché observation here is that naturally anyone that actually learns about their own religion wouldn't want any part of it (because it's lame, ha!). The less offensive interpretation is that a serious reading through these religious texts can only bring to one's attention the contradictions within them, and this will eventually make a person skeptical. But more likely it's that those that are more inclined to be skeptical in the first place would probably take on the process of reading through these texts because they have an intellectual interest in doing so, and are not content to merely rely on faith and the preacher's interpretation.

But there's also the factor that major religions like Christianity can still be major players in public policy today, so there's a strong tendency to play along within the sphere of religion when discussing law and politics. Athiests and Agnostics are aware that just saying "I don't believe the same thing you do" has no sway in these sorts of debates, it's just taken as proof that they are wrong. So those that aren't inclined to believe that law X must be passed or else baby Jesus will cry tend to buck up on information to defeat the faith-based monster that's always sniffing around in our panty drawers. Once you start using one's one faith to counter faith-based arguments, you start playing on their field, you can't as easily be passed off as an unreliable observer or ignored.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

James O'Keefe back in the media doing dumb shit again

This is just bizarre. Naturally it reeks of misogyny, because O'Keefe is an equal opportunity bigot and it just wouldn't be ground-breaking journalism if he wasn't picking on someone that committed the crime of not being a white dude. But I'm pretty good at picking up that sort of code, and I'm not even sure what the point of this "prank" is supposed to be about. The MSM is overrun by sexy blonds pushing their sexy blond agenda? Blond women are only credible if they are on Fox? Bitches be stupid? The media is totally liberal because... hey look a dildo? Female journalists can't be trusted because all they want is sexytime? Seriously, can someone explain this one to me?

I just can't see how horrifying a CNN reporter by sexually harassing her would make CNN look bad. The only way this would work out as a positive for O'Keefe would be if he was actually able to seduce this reporter. So the guy is either an idiot or completely out of his mind.

Maybe he thought that she would try to fake-seduce him right back?

Edit: Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think that last part is what is going on. He seems to think that CNN is sending out blonde bombshells to target poor hapless conservatives, so maybe he thought once she thought she had an opening, she'd play up the fake-seduction thing herself and he could rail on about how CNN is using sex to get dirt on people. The dude's shown himself to be kind of a misogynist in the past, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if he thought this angle was the most damning, that conservatives were being victimized by these beautiful succubus reporters - if you take on the view that women rule everything because men are helpless in the face of hawtness you probably would sympathize with that. It's still stupid, but that is a strong theme in patriarchy, so it would have probably worked. That's the generous view of a possible motive, anyway.

Obama has better things to do then listen to you whiny bastards


Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.

Dude, no. This isn't how it works.

"People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Mr. Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday.

It's your fucking job (or the job of your PR people, who seem to have abandoned your administration the second you took office) to get people to "shake off this lethargy". You don't guilt people into voting for you by treating them like bratty little kids. You earn people's votes by virtue of the job you do.

The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."

Oh god. The stupid. It burns. This is exactly the problem, brainiac. When you make people believe that your policies will place a unicorn in every garage, and instead a few years after you take office most people don't even have the garage anymore let alone the unicorn in it, people start to think that maybe this whole hopey-changy thing was somewhat of a farce, you know, that you guys weren't that serious in the first place, so why the hell skip "Dancing with the Stars" to vote for your asses again?

I'm just amazed at how tone-deaf this strategy is, especially considering who it's coming from. Did these guys really forget what won them the election? He has to have some basic level of understanding about what worked for his campaign. Yet he takes it as an affront that he has to actually appeal to these voters again. How does he go from the candidate that spoke for millions of Americans, who felt they finally found a voice in his election, to talking down to these supporters like they are spoiled little children?

This is a huge disconnect here. It's like he wants to pass every complaint against him off as unreasonable, when in reality, he's dealing with a pretty understanding crowd (the professional left still has yet to parade around Washington carrying guns and talking about overthrowing the government). Look dude, I understand that Jane Hamsher can be annoying most of the time. But that doesn't instantly turn every left-leaning person into some sort of extremist. Wanting better health care is not unreasonable. Wanting to repeal DADT is not unreasonable. Wanting you to stand up to Republicans when they are deliberately clogging the works is not unreasonable. Wanting to do away with tax cuts for the rich is not unreasonable. Wanting to put people to work is not unreasonable. Time and time again, no matter how well it actually polls in this country, this administration feels it has to put a firm wall between what they are doing and what liberals might like them to do, and the absurdity is almost to the point where I think that's the whole goal. It really doesn't matter if it's the most common-sense solution imaginable (*cough* bigger stimulus), if it makes even one conservative sad, they'll drop it like it's hot. Time and time again, no matter how many times it's been shown that the "professional left" was actually right in their criticisms, they still need to get the gold star of approval from the Republican crowd that has, mind you, been wrong, very wrong, about pretty much everything, last week, last year, last decade. This makes no sense, unless we take a grander view of the whole picture, that the system is rigged, and assume they want too these policies that seem to fail the majority of Americans in favor of the few and privileged, and are just feeding everyone a line. And if that is the case, you sure as hell don't get to guilt the supporters that longed for something different.

We could take the hippie punching if it got results. It doesn't. We could take the appeal to the right-wingers, if there was any chance he could win a few over in this political climate. He can't. We'd understand there are fights they can't win, if they didn't seem to run scared from all of them at the first mention. They do. We could take the compromise, if he didn't sell the farm off at the first bid and offer up the barn and tractor for nothing. He does.

Obviously it would be stupid to stay home and let some of these crazies march into office. And I suppose on some level I can understand a guilt trip that people have to vote for them because the opposition is fucking crazy. But with Obama trotting out this "irresponsible" crap and Biden running around saying liberal supporters are all "whiners" because gosh, some might not buy into the idea that they are owed these votes? This is not the way to reach people. Shit, there's times I won't even do the dishes merely because I sense that my husband is trying to guilt me into doing them. And that's the fucking dishes. This strategy is a horrible, horrible idea. There are so many better ways to handle this.

Which I should probably get into at some point, instead of just snarking and bitching all the time on here.

(via Echidne)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Post in which I start with making fun of Tom Emmer and once again default to the concern that our country is doomed.

The husband mentioned to me last night that Tom Emmer has a new ad out appealing to his gay hatin' base. For the most part, it's framed as that moderate and reasonable concern that Minnesotans might not have the freedom to be able to vote in order to deny people the same basic rights they themselves enjoy. Because putting it to a popular vote was always how civil rights were won in the past, which worked because Americans are always reasonable people that can see past their own fear and prejudice when it comes to defending the constitution and bill of rights. In fact, I'm not sure why we have to have things like courts to uphold civil rights and liberties at all, since we've always done such a good job on that subject.

Emmer's angle here strikes me at first to be to be pretty desperate - if you have to dress up your rhetoric to hide your actual meaning, doesn't that mean you've already lost that battle in popular opinion? Once you have to start whistling to the dogs, I think you've lost that battle. I'm kind of surprised, to be honest; I didn't think Emmer would touch the culture wars this election. I assumed it was his Achilles heel that just begs for "extreme right-winger" counter attacks, something I assumed wouldn't do him any favors in a gubernatorial election in a overwhelmingly moderate and politically tuned in state. Yes, these social issues, no matter how much the fiscal conservatives want to say otherwise, are still simmering underneath the tea-party kettle. But for the most part, they aren't brought to the forefront of important issues for this election year, because the conventional wisdom tells us that it's the economy, stupid.

But the latest poll from Rasmussen shows Emmer leading. And even if you allow for the right-leaning Rasmussen's habit of tinkering with polls to get a desired outcome, that's still way too close.

And it's not just Emmer.

Bachmann's new ad surprised me as well - in which she tries to link Tarryl Clark to Nancy Pelosi (Clark isn't on your side! She's on Nancy Pelosi's side! OMG!). Running against Nancy Pelosi in local elections has traditionally been a failing strategy for Republicans (see recent elections in NY-23, PA-12). Mainly because aside from the political junkies, no one really knows who Nancy Pelosi is, but also because on the local level, your constituents don't really care about Nancy Pelosi's evil socialist plan, they just want their damn potholes fixed. If Tarryl Clark could get her act together and start taking an offensive stance rather then a defensive one (and if she could stop with the over-enunciation in her ads, because it's starting to creep me out), I think she could burn Bachman pretty bad at this point. She's showing her weak side - if all you have is Hell-Fire-Pelosi, you've really got nothing. But Bachman too, is leading in the polls.

So I have to wonder what the hell is going on here, first, why would these two candidates switch up their campaigns and play with desperate, decisive tactics? And second, why does it appear to be working? Both Emmer and Bachman have hit some low points: Emmer with his son's passed-out-chick penis art, millionaire restaurant servers and grand speeches at businesses saved by policies he was against, Bachman with her loyalty to the tea-party, "Jim the Voter Guy thinks you're a moron" campaign, and well, the fact she's fucking insane. But these snafus have not seemed to affect them in the polls, they still show them to be pretty strong contenders. So what gives? What constituency could they possibly be playing for?

Oh yeah. Them.

If you asked me a year or so ago about this phenomenon, I'd of told you it's both hilarious and awesome. The more extreme the right gets, the more the country will back away slowly and go with people that aren't appealing to the worst in America. And I'd probably say the same thing today, but the truth is, I'm starting to get worried.

I can't help but recall a few other things that have happened as of late, mainly Karl Rove's bowing and scraping to the Tea Party after he hurt Delaware Senate hopeful Christine O'Donnell's feelings and Newt Gingrich's adoption of his new favorite "Did you notice Obama's a black dude" argument. Understand who we are talking about here - Newt came out pretty strong last year as the new moderate voice of the Republican party (there must of been a book he needed to sell), leading the heads of lefties everywhere to explode because dude, if Newt is your moderate, that means your party is off the rails. It seems like only yesterday that my main fear was Newt would be the one to shift the political discourse further to the right, because of these attempts to paint himself as the rational prodigy in a sea of crazy. And as for Bush's brain? Karl Fucking Rove? This was the guy that prided himself on being the 24-hour news cycle talking point setter. If Karl Rove thought that kittens were taking over America by force, the lead story of the day would be about hairballs of mass destruction. You didn't disagree with Rove. Ever. This guy ruled politics for over a decade. That Rove crumbled and Newt decided his gravy train was flowing from the other side of crazy sets a dire tone for the GOP establishment - those harmless little teabagging puppies they pet and cooed and wiped up after to in order to buck up enthusiasm for their party have now grown into frothing beasts that that bite you, shit all over the place and refuse to go back in the crate.

Again, this would probably work in the Democrat's favor under normal circumstances, but Democrats have shown themselves to be complete fucking idiots when it comes to campaigning this year, and that the enthusiasm gap is very, very real. That's right, they can't even get rid of the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy (despite overwhelming support in battle ground states), and doesn't the fact that we are still calling them the Bush Tax Cuts rather then, you know, the new, improved, Obama Tax Cuts for the middle class tell you all you need to know about how poorly the DNC is playing this one? And it makes me want to bang my head against the wall, because the movement conservative takeover of the GOP is giving the Democrats an absurd amount of material to work with. The mask is slipping, guys. Take advantage of that. The Democrats can hit the Republicans pretty hard right now, and any whining on behalf of the GOP's party would come across as vapid and silly (you can't really preach about angry old liberals when your party is calling for armed rebellion and talking about how the President is the enemy of America). So this is a rare time that the Democrats actually could be assholes to their opponents and get away with it! This is the rare time that they could actually reach out to their own base and let them know that even though they are fucked over every other election year, they really are appreciated sometimes. This is the rare time that they could actually win against the beltway wisdom, because even the Very Serious people in the DC media circuit can't defend this level of crazy.

And they do... nothing. Goodness, they wouldn't want to rock the capsized boat. People might get angry or call for impeaching the president or something. People that would never vote for them might not vote for them. No, instead of attacking all this crazy right in front of their own faces they instead attack their own base, you know, that professional left that never did anything for them but get Obama elected. And this is the situation at hand going into these 2010 elections, a naive and moronic DNC versus an insane and moronic GOP. And we all know who's yelling the loudest and will be turning out in droves on November 2nd:

Yeah. Them.

Update: Emmer's ad was actually put out by the National Organization for Marriage. I'm not sure how much influence Emmer had over it, if any (it does contain footage from ads the Emmer campaign did put out). Emmer does state favoring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on his campaign website.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day After Saturday Links

Arrr me mateys! Thar be not a lot of seafarin' adventures writ on th' captain's log this week, but don't forget to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day in all it's pirate-y goodness.

Dude you have no Koran auto-tune remix. It's... catchy. (via Balloon Juice)

The Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive are coming to the National mall this October 30th. This should be good.

Mice with human brains. Good lord, this country is stupid.


Hey now, considering the type of stuff NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino could be sending out, I'd thank my lucky stars all I got was a smelly mailer.

Narcissists? On The Facebook? You don't say!

Meh. Seriously, I got nothing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No one could have predicted

So apparently Pastor What's-His-Name, the now famous insane book-burning fundamentalist guy, will totally reconsider roasting marshmallows over his bonfire of Korans if the president personally calls him and asks him to stop with the silly. Which, you know, Obama can't really do. Because then he'd have to personally call all the other crazy-ass people and ask them not to do crazy-ass things. And being that this is America, that would pretty much be a full-time job.

So instead, the media has seen fit to wring their hands in deep concern and give this pastor 24-hour news coverage to ensure that his little hate-fest will be broadcast and talked about all across the world, enraging anti-American sentiments everywhere, while the Very Serious people opine: "Damn, look at that crazy motherfucker. Can you believe how crazy that motherfucker is? Seriously, that is one crazy-ass motherfucker. More at 11".

I mean, we get it, guys. The dude is a potent combination of being 2/3s crazy and 1/3 camwhore. His elevator doesn't go all the way to the top floor, but he stops on every floor and flashes his naughty bits at whomever is there when the doors part. He has a few screws loose because he's too busy making the power drill make that loud "WHIRRRR!" sound. Insert some other failed attempt at witticism here. And another. We get it. People be crazy. People be wanting attention. Realistically, this is basically equivalent to plastering the Phelps klan's antics on the front page on a daily basis. Yet this is the biggest post-labor day story ever, and unfortunately that means people are starting to get pretty pissed off about it.

It would of been better off if we could sweep this guy under the rug like we do for the rest of our cranks. Not that there isn't a story here, because there is; but it's really not what the media is making it out to be. For me, this just is the logical conclusion that comes about in our political climate this summer. Because maybe, just maybe, if some people in the county hadn't been getting their jollies this August by whipping up anti-Muslim fervor, we wouldn't have to worry about Douchebag Mcgee and his merry band of bigots. But who could of foreseen that this would happen when morons were running around on every radio show and in every paper claiming that Islam is not to be trusted, that it's more then likely anti-American, that Muslims are being all rude and disrespectful to Real 'Murikans by being all Muslim-y and shit, that the President is one of those Muslims, which is a totally bad thing, and his plan is to destroy America with his Muslim death rays? Oh wait - pretty much everybody could see that.

Not that this will change the discourse. In fact, I'm sure those hyping all this anti-Islam claptrap as of late are pretty pleased this happened, because now they can say they aren't bigoted at all when they talk about how they are tired of "pretending" that Muslim-Americans are actually honorable Americans deserving of first amendment rights, because they aren't burning books now, are they? Are they?? That's totally different.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day After Saturday Links

I actually have a few things I want to write about, but it's a holiday weekend and I'm feeling a bit lazy. So for now, here's some links.

The RNC 8 is now the RNC 7. Erik Oseland has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, with the agreement that he won't be made to testify against the others.

Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer decides to run an ad using his family to shore up his family values cred (it's really the only thing he can run, being that, you know, he has no ideas). Too bad one of his "blessed" son's family values is drunkenly drawing squirting cocks on a passed out girl in permanent marker and posting the photos on Facebook. Someone is gonna be soooo grounded. Now, I'm not going to go so far to call this sexual assault like some are, but I'll just say that I was a pretty wild child in my youth, and neither myself nor my friends ever did this kind of shit. Because we aren't assholes.

Only 28% of Americans can tell you who the chief justice is. In all honesty, I'd of thought the number was lower.

I'm sure glad Minnesotans voted Tim Pawlenty back into the governor's office knowing full well he was going to abuse that position while running for president. He's not only denied much-needed federal health care funds to an already broke state (because the well-being of one's constituents pales in comparison to the awesomeness of being able to run on opposing Obama's health care bill), he's actually making us spend our own money on failed health programs like abstinence only education which serves to cost the state more in the long run. And dude, if you are going to claim that this isn't some dirty cynical ploy to boost your numbers among movement conservatives, you might want to wait a bit before sending out the fund-raising emails on the issue. Asshole. Tim Pawlenty 2012: I have no problem fucking over a state for cheap political gain, now let me do the same for your country!

And just another quick note on Pawlenty, this post from Wonkette (regarding Pawlenty's classification of federal aid as "free samples" from a "drug dealer") pretty much sums up the level of stupid we are dealing with here:

However, we might take issue with the idea that these federal handouts are “free samples,” since, last we checked, Minnesotans were still required to pay federal taxes. It’s more as if your local drug dealer extracted money from everyone on your block, but then you refused his weekly handouts of crack cocaine that was purchased and cooked up using those extracted moneys. Oh, and also, in this analogy, “crack cocaine” is not a dangerous drug that can kill you, but is instead something that’s actually good. So it’s like you’re giving your drug dealer money but not accepting the delicious, nutritious food that he delivers, with his “meals on wheels” service.

Decent summary of the increasingly authoritarian atmosphere we are educating our kids in. Via Balloon Juice, in which the poster thinks it's being overly hyped, that children will always rebel, and may do so in increasingly high numbers if the push to conform is too great. I disagree. I think we are running a huge risk of raising generations of citizens that don't see civil liberties as an important issue that will have dire consequences for the county in the long run. I just keep thinking back to this terrifying survey. It's not going to be immediate. But little by little, we are chipping away at the value of civil liberties in favor of raising children with the experience that subservience to the state is the preferred norm.

This is kind of amusing: So apparently Movement conservative leaders have finally clued into the fact that their supporters are batshit insane, and hope that they can present a more "moderate" face of the Tea Party to the media by banning signs at their rallies. Sadly, they cannot weld metal plates over their mouths to prevent them from speaking.

However, they can attack the source! The Daily Calling is like, totally upset at those mean old kids from New Left Media that keep showing up at these rallies and forcing the Tea Baggers to say stupid shit on camera by holding up an apparently magical racist-transforming microphone to them. The fact that they admit that they are college students from "Wright State" without instantly clarifying that isn't the same thing as the blog "Red State" is the most ultimate form of manipulation the world has ever seen. John Cole suggests that maybe they should dress up like pimps to make it more fair.

And finally, on a lighter, non-political note, Allie Brosh's post about "The Four Levels of Social Entrapment" is hilarious. Level Two at the grocery store: the story of my life.