Categories
Election 2008 Politics

Let’s be FOR Something

I have long been “that person” who will reply all to a forwarded email — it’s not a requirement that I know everyone on the forward list — with fact check information or a disproving Snopes.com link. This one caught my radar because not only is it factually incorrect in places, it’s, well, ineffective.

Friends, compatriots, fellow-lamenters,

We are writing to you today because of the fury and dread we have felt since the announcement of Sarah Palin as the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Republican Party. We believe that this terrible decision has surpassed mere partisanship, and that it is a dangerous farce—on the part of a pandering and rudderless Presidential candidate—that has a real possibility of becoming fact.

Perhaps like us, as American women, you share the fear of what Ms.Palin and her professed beliefs and proven record could lead to for ourselves and for our present and future daughters. To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

We want to clarify that we are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President. Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

Therefore, we hope that you will reply here with a short, succinct message about why you, as a woman living in this country, do not support this candidate as second-in-command for our nation.

Please include your name (last initial is fine), age, and city or town and state of residence.

We will post your responses on a blog called ‘Women Against Sarah Palin,’ which we intend to publicize as widely as possible. Please send us your reply at your earliest convenience—the greater the volume of responses we receive, the stronger our message will be.

Thank you for your time and action. And please pass this message on to the ladies in your life!

VIVA!

Sincerely,

Quinn L. and Lyra K.
New York, NY
womensaynopalin@gmail.com

Let’s dissect, shall we?

To date, she is against a woman’s right to choose, environmental protection, alternative energy development, gun control, freedom of speech (as mayor she brought up the question of banning books and then attempted to fire the librarian who refused), the separation of church and state, community organizing, and polar bears.

This excerpt is indicative of the entire tone of the letter. In many cases if you look up these issues, you’ll find that Palin is “for” something, but the authors of this letter decided to make the leap that she is automatically “against” a similar issue (e.g. She’s for drilling in ANWR, therefore she must be against alternative energy development). To the facts:

  • Against a woman’s right to choose — I guess this is another way to say she’s pro-life (which is true). It seems the writers of this letter resorted to the tried and true abortion debate method of using incongruous language — “pro-abortion” vs. “pro-life”, “pro-choice” vs. “against woman’s right to choose”. Both equally ridiculous.
  • Against environmental protection — It’s true that she’s fought against endangered species protections for certain species, but she has also recognized climate change and created a subcommittee to address climate change in Alaska. So this claim is half true if we’re being optimistic.
  • Against alternative energy development — I haven’t read anything to suggest she’s against alternative energy development. Palin does support the opening of ANWR, but one does not automatically beget the other.
  • Against gun control — It’s true that she’s a longtime NRA member and supports the constitutional right to bear arms. Again, I can not find a specific reference where she says she’s against gun control.
  • Against freedom of speech — I can only assume this refers to the oft-quoted Wasilla librarian debate. The real circumstances indicate she didn’t attempt to ban books, or at least not so explicitly, and especially not the book lists that have circulated in some places. In short, this statement is a leap at best.
  • Against separation of church and state — Apparently this conclusion is made from Palin’s various remarks that creationism could be taught alongside evolution. However, she also noted that school boards should not be pushed on the subject, but to leave it open for discussion.
  • Against community organizing — I can only assume this refers to her RNC speech comments about Obama’s time as a community organizer. I’ll allow that this was a stupid statement, and I’m a fan of Jon Stewart’s take.
  • Against polar bears — She also hates kittens and kicks dogs. But, I guess if fighting to keep polar bears off the endangered species list equates to a hate of polar bears, then this one is true.

Ms. Palin’s political views are in every way a slap in the face to the accomplishments that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers so fiercely fought for, and that we’ve so demonstrably benefited from.

I hate, hate when someone presumes to speak for me as a woman. Neither side of the debate should attempt to, but especially not with such obviously biased and inflammatory language as this letter contains.

First and foremost, Ms. Palin does not represent us. She does not demonstrate or uphold our interests as American women. It is presumed that the inclusion of a woman on the Republican ticket could win over women voters. We want to disagree, publicly.

The fact that this letter is addressed to “fellow lamenters” should be a quick indicator of the ineffectiveness of such a “women against Palin” campaign. I agree that Palin is a poor Vice Presidential choice. The chance of me voting for the McCain/Palin ticket is quite slim (get out the micrometer to measure this one), but yet I bristle at this email. One, don’t start a “movement” based on loose interpretations of the facts. Two, preaching to the Democratic choir is not likely to be effective. A movement to get women who wouldn’t have voted for McCain/Palin anyway to speak out against Palin? Wow, how revolutionary.

I was also pointed to this petition started by the same group. While the text of the petition at least showed an attempt to shore up the language (although, I’m not sure what’s up with the pic of Cheney), it remains a ridiculous petition. What does this accomplish? Why not put energy into campaigning for Obama? Why be negative when you could spend the same time and energy attempting to make a real difference?

I guess it’s just easier to be against something instead of for something.

Categories
Election 2006 Politics

Election 2006: Mentally Exhausted Edition

I suppose it’s time for my requisite election time post, but, frankly, I’m nearly exhausted from reading and researching the ridiculously large number of ballot issues and candidates that were on my ballot today. And I’m just going to come right out and say it, a lot of it was crap. Crap legislation special interests are trying to get into the state constitution. A craptastically long list of judges towards whom we should throw a vote of confidence or no confidence. And I shouldn’t forget all the local and county crappy stuff.

But don’t get me wrong, despite the crappiness of the issues, it was still very important to vote. You will have an extremely difficult time convincing me otherwise. It was important to vote no to discrimination in the Colorado state constitution, to do my part to unseat a House Representative focused nearly entirely on writing discrimination into the US Constitution and being a mindless drone for President Bush, and to show my support for a referendum that would provide basic legal rights to domestic partnerships.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but wonder why the citizens of Colorado were having to vote on the retention of appeals court judges given that a special panel had already recommended their retention and given that likely no more than 1.7% of the voters even knew who the judges were or the decisions they had handed down. I was also curious why one would vote to change the state constitution to make it easier for issues to appear before voters. It already seems easy enough. People, I have a full time job — I don’t have the time to review all these issues. This is why we have a representative democracy. It isn’t awesome all the time, but when it works, it’s a great system.

As I did in the 2004 election, I will highlight the votes I cast that I feel were the most important.

  • I voted FOR Angie Paccione (D) for House Reprentative in Colorado District 4.
  • I voted NO to writing discrimination into the Colorado state constitution (Amendment 43)
  • I voted YES to Referendum I which would allow domestic partnerships basic legal rights
Categories
Congressional Record Opinion

Reading Senate Transcripts for Fun and Intrigue

It’s true — I like to cruise through the congressional record. Mind you, I can only do this on an infrequent basis as the general asininity of it is almost more than a mere mortal can digest. What follows are a few nuggets from the Senate Congressional Record of June 6, 2006. I’ve inserted commentary in places where I managed to pull my weakened body and mind out of the deep, dark crevasse that is “The Record.”

The homosexual marriage lobby, as well as the polygamist lobby, shares the goal of essentially breaking down all State-regulated marriage requirements to just one: consent. In doing so, they are paving the way for legal protection of such repugnant practices as: homosexual marriage, unrestricted sexual conduct between adults and children, group marriage, incest, and bestiality. Using this philosophy, activist lawyers and judges are working quickly, State-by-State, through the courts to force same-sex marriage and other practices, such as polygamy, on our country.[…]

We need an amendment that restores and protects our societal definition of marriage, [and] blocks judges from changing that definition.

Senator Inhofe (R-OK)

I have a difficult time putting into words my aversion to the currently popular “we must stop activist judges” adage of which politicians are so very fond. The judicial process is not about what the majority of society (majority in society is in itself at best difficult to determine) feels should happen. God save us if it ever is. Perhaps a lesson in separation of power and the purpose of each branch of government is in order for Senator Inhofe.

I will go to several other countries that have redefined marriage, defined marriage out of existence. In the Netherlands, since proposals for same-sex marriage began to be debated, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has soared. It was a fairly stable country in out-of-wedlock births and was at low rate. […]

What happened to out-of-wedlock birthrates? You can see the situation in the Netherlands, which is particularly important because it was one of the lowest out-of-wedlock birthrate countries in Europe for a number of years, shows that until 1980, below 5 percent of the population was born out of wedlock. When we get the court cases which we have in the United States today saying marriage should be redefined, we see the impact, as well as a Supreme Court case that rules against marriage being the union of a man and a woman. Then we get symbolic marriage registration, registered partnership, same-sex unions, and now we are up to 35 percent as seen in this skyrocketing chart.

Sen. Brownback (R-OK)

If I’m understanding Senator Brownback correctly, he’s attempting to correlate registered partnerships and same-sex unions with the increase of out of wedlock births. Is he kidding? I’m not a senator with a full staff and do not hold an advanced research degree, but even I can see that these are junk “facts” being drawn from non-correlating data. This information, regardless of politics, should be thrown out for its inaccuracy.

I, for one, believe that the institution of marriage and the principles of democracy are too precious to surrender to the whims of a handful of unelected, activist judges. The will of the people should prevail. […]

Sen. Allard (R-CO)

Can’t. Type. Laughing. Too. Hard.

Before I quit of exhaustion from reading the same tired arguments repeatedly and running the same circle of reasoning over (and over and over), I will conclude this piece.

Editor’s note: It is extremely hard to find consistent permanent URLs within the Congressional Record. I’ve tried to add accurate links where possible, but it’s just not possible in all instances.

Categories
Politics Rant

Colorado Driver’s License == National ID Card

My Montana vehicle tags expire at the end of this month. In the interest of neatly compartmentalizing official Colorado residency duties, I decided I should also get a Colorado driver’s license around the same time I get Colorado plates. Thus, I headed to the Colorado DMV website to learn what I should bring with me. From its driver’s license FAQ:

To apply for a license, instructional permit or duplicate, you must:

  1. Submit 2 primary forms of identification. One form must establish lawful presence. Please see FAQ #1 for a complete list of acceptable identification documents.
  2. Provide your Social Security Number.
  3. Supply a Colorado residence address.
  4. Pass all required examinations (written, vision and road performance).
  5. Pay the required fee.
  6. Be fingerprinted and photographed.

The emphasis above was mine. So, um, I have to be fingerprinted to get my CO driver’s license?!

Refusing to believe that the website information was correct, I called my local DL office. They confirmed that one digital fingerprint was taken for “security purposes.” In other words, if someone came in to get a license claiming to be me, they couldn’t if their fingerprint didn’t match. Hmmm, for my security then? I was skeptical. As my local DL Office rep could give me no information as to where the information goes and what government agencies have access to it, I placed a call to the Colorado State Driver’s License Administration office. On my second customer rep, I struck upon useful though dubious information: Colorado is a “central issue” state. This means that once I apply for a driver’s license, my information is sent to the federal government in DC, it goes into their database, then my license is sent back to me. So for a recap:

Even though I am not a criminal, my fingerprints are now forevermore in a governmental database for no reason other than that I moved and wanted to get a new driver’s license.

This is a result of the Real ID Act which was passed because of its connection to a military spending bill (another topic of contention). The Act, besides violating my privacy, hands even more power to the inauspicious Department of Homeland Security.

So, what do I do in the meantime? Wait (my Montana license is good until 2012) until the ACLU has a chance to mount legal opposition to the bill? If I get my DL now and the Act is overturned, my information is still sitting out in a database. Realistically, I doubt that I really have any other option than getting a DL and being fingerprinted.

As part of the bigger picture, this legislation scares me. How much are we willing to give up for some perceived measure of security? Is living in a police state a price we’re willing to pay to “be secure.” Also, history shows us not to trust our government unconditionally, so why now are people so willing to give up civil liberties? Government officials didn’t suddenly get more trustworthy.

As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Does anyone know the official status of the Real ID Act? Has the ACLU taken any steps to overturn it or test its legality? Can I refuse to give a fingerprint?

Categories
Opinion Politics

How to Tell If It’s An Election Year

Gas is expensive. My bike is not. Thus, in addition to taking the bus to work most days, I’ve been biking when possible or not driving. And, despite the fact that my skis still wait wishfully by the door, gas money is no longer required for ski adventures. I realize that not all people can make these adjustments, but is a gas rebate a solution? NO! Even disregarding the fact that a $100 gas rebate from the government is something we already paid for with our taxes, it essentially accomplishes nothing. I have my $100 back, but do I have any additional incentive to reduce my oil consumption? Is the $100 helping drive incentive to create alternate fuel sources? Would that $100 have been better spent on supporting other public services?

While I, like everyone else, finds the oil companies suspect and, in no way, believe that all their practices are on the up and up, they are providers of a non-renewable, highly demanded product. Should a private corporation in a low margin industry with inelastic demand hold their price artificially low? Idealogically? Sure. Realistically? No. It would only serve to lengthen the process of alternative fuel sources innovation. It’s that darn long term vs. short term quandary again.

UPDATE: Late last week, the Democrats, not wanting to be left out of the gas price relief game, introduced their plan for a 60 day gas tax holiday. Again, what does this really do? For 60 days people feel okay about the price of gas? What does that accomplish? It, in the Dems’ world, gets them more votes.

Also, I forgot to mention that the Republican bill, of course, tosses back in the provision of opening up ANWR to drilling. Hopefully that provision clouds any possibility it might have had of passing.

See also: Defective Yeti’s humorous take.

Categories
Politics

Also Known as Why the Democrats are Failing

As most people who read the news semi-frequently already know, the South Dakota legislature recently passed a bill banning most abortions in the state (the governor has since signed the bill). A post stating my opposition or support to it would do nothing but fuel a never ending, futile comments argument as discussing abortion, the death penalty, and the use of the word “God” in the Pledge of Allegiance are wont to do. I’m not taking sides — this post is not about sides.

But, I find the condescension and arrogance with which some people have responded to this legislation to be quite frustrating.

Categories
Opinion Politics

MoveOn.org: They Just Don’t Get It

It’s no secret that I have a love hate relationship with MoveOn.org. Two days ago, the strong dislike intensified when an email from them entitled Should we take on right wing Democrats? landed in my inbox. A snippet from this email:

This year our top goal is breaking the right-wing Republican stranglehold on Congress. That is our main focus every day.

It is also part of our work together to hold Democrats to their Party’s highest values on issues like foreign policy, economic prosperity and good government.

The story about “the Democrat who sold out” has become too familiar. Too often progressives tip toe around these betrayals. But there needs to be real consequences for these Democrats.

Replacing a right-wing Democrat with a more progressive Democrat will help voters more clearly understand what Democrats stand for—and that will help Democrats win.

Yes, MoveOn.org has now taken it upon themselves to decide who is Democrat-y enough to represent certain districts. Not only have they decided to throw their weight around in individual districts (because the constituents of those districts are obviously not smart enough to choose the right Democrat), but they are purporting to define what is and isn’t proper Democratic principle.

I wrote previously about the huge chasm in the political spectrum. MoveOn.org’s position will only further widen the abyss as middle of the road Democrats are pushed either to the left or out all together. The Democrats that would have (or did) appeal to the other end of the spectrum would be gone. In my mind, the Democratic cause would be immeasurably harmed by these actions — and with that the rest of us “middle-of-the-road”-ers are punished as well.

Sadly, an email declaring that 84% of MoveOn.org members agreed that right-wing Democrats must be unseated found its way to my inbox today.

Categories
Politics

Somewhere in the Middle

The political spectrum* is now us or them. If you’re not with us, you must be with them. If you’re not with them, you must be with us. Or at least this is what most high profile political groups, the mainstream media, and many bloggers would have one believe.

But, the thing is, it’s not that easy. Nearly everyone I know falls in the middle of the spectrum. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most people do. Even MoveOn members, who one would think to be quite to the left of the spectrum, show themselves to be fairly moderate. In the MoveOn ActionForum, issues such as separation of church and state, election reform, and the necessity of free media often bubble to the top. These are not “liberal” ideas, especially the necessity of a free media and fraud-free elections to ensure our democracy.

When did this polarization occur? Did our own laziness allow us to be so easily packed, labelled, and shipped to one camp or the other?

* I don’t like the confines of the generally accepted political spectrum, but it is now easily recognized by the majority of people and has become the de facto standard. Whether I like it or not.

Categories
Economics Politics

Long Term vs. Short Term: On the Personal Level

The sacrifice of the long term in favor of the short term in business has been bothering me for some time. However, as I continue to ponder it, it strikes me that the same problem can be traced all the way back to an individual, personal level. People consistently make short term decisions at the detriment of the long term. I do it as well — shelling out for an expensive handbag with money I should have saved or driving my car when I could ride my bike and save a pinch of earth’s resources.

Of course, considering the long term with every decision one makes on a daily basis would be a time consuming, laborious task. I’m in no way an advocate of living one’s life stuck at home, stricken with indecision. However, one area where I see a decided lack of long term thinking is in political positions and decisions. Was anyone thinking about a long term exit strategy when the Iraq War was approved? When the extension of the Patriot Act is pushed, do those in favor consider how this affects civil liberties in the US twenty years from now? If Intelligent Design is allowed in the classroom, what would be the effect to the perception of scientific method? Do people in favor of a federal healthcare system consider the debt load, probable bureaucracy, and economic effects on the long term health (fiscally, and healthcare system in general) of the US?

Thinking long term is hard. The short term is always much easier to judge, but I believe the US would benefit from a decided surge in long term thinking.

Categories
Politics

Harriet Miers: A Crony Nominee?

Often I listen to chunks of President Bush’s press conferences, and often I wonder how he says the things he does without some sort of self-revelation to the effect that nearly everything he says MAKES NO SENSE.

So let’s talk about Harriet Miers. I could get past the fact that she has no judicial experience. However, her nomination smacks of cronyism. I don’t want a crony given a lifetime appointment to the the highest court in the United States. It really rubs me the wrong way that her proximity to President Bush apparently trumps all other highly qualified legal minds available across the country.

And how does President Bush respond to a direct inquiry about the charge of cronyism in the nomination? “I picked the best person I could find.”

Really President Bush? Okay, so maybe you’ve had some incredibly deep conversation with her in which she revealed a tremendous aptitude for the law and judicial precedence. Perhaps during this conversation, you were blown over by her Constitutional philosophy and amazing legal mind. Then, to my chagrin, Bush continues, “Not to my recollection have I ever sat down with her — what I have done is understand the type of person she is and the type of judge she will be.”

But as Bush noted, “To me, a person’s strength of character counts a lot. And as a result of my friendship with Harriet, I know her strength of character.”

Though character is important, is it acceptable as the one reason to nominate someone? Is this the best we can do? I look forward to the Senate hearings, where hopefully we will learn something about Ms. Miers besides that she has great character.