1 nation, indivisible, except by 0
First off, I was asked by several readers to post a link to Anne Kilkenny's letter about Sarah Palin, since it adds more to the picture: Ms. Kilkenny was in Wasilla with Palin since the very beginning, and it's about the most reasoned, temperate and well-written document you'll find, should you still be sitting on the fence.
And while I'm in the mood for such temperate forbearance, I'd like to take some of the complaints about McCain/Palin and explain why they're total bullshit. No, I haven't gone soft – I just think the following items are fairly ludicrous:
McCain shouldn't be President because he needs his staff to tell him how many houses he has.
It was impossible not to love this one, since it played so well into the Republican narrative, but honestly, this was meaningless. What McCain should have said was "Cindy and I have been very lucky in our investments and have a few properties that generate income for our family – Cindy generally takes care of that side of our finances, and I'll have to get back to you about how many investments we have."
Case closed. Sure, it makes them sound rich, but it plays more into the American Dream. Hell, we own a place we don't live in, but the rental allows us to pay the mortgage and come back for great visits. But McCain screwed up his response and made it sound like he actually lives in seven houses and is too flush to know the frickin' difference.
John McCain is filthy rich; but then again, so was John F. Kennedy and FDR, and they were fantastic presidents. The whole idea that our candidates have to know the price of milk – I dunno, I've always thought that was horseshit. I'd rather they be fixing the planet than shopping for beets at Safeway.
Sarah Palin should be taken off the Republican ticket because she used her power to fire the chief of police who wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law.
At first glance, this seems like megalomaniacal bullshit from a revengeful queen, and yes, it probably was. However, the ex-brother-in-law in question is a fucking piece of work. He tasered his own 10-year-old stepson (on a dare, supposedly), was a excruciatingly rotten father who just finished his fourth marriage, threatened to kill Palin's dad, and drank on the job.
She may have acted unethically, and she may be censured for it, but I have to say, if someone in my family behaved like that dude, I'd have to be talked out of bashing the motherfucker's shins with a tire iron. Just sayin'.
John McCain shouldn't be President because he's too old.
If that's the case, we should also take Justice John Paul Stevens off the Supreme Court, get Barney Frank out of Congress, and stop listening to my mom. In general, I'm an ageist when it comes to older people because of their seemingly-intransigent views on blacks, women and gays, but unless you're Ronald Reagan and barely able to keep awake during war briefings, a President's age shouldn't matter.
The only scary part about a President McCain is the relative likelihood of his VP taking over the slot. Insert shudder emoticon.
John McCain cheated on his wife, Sarah Palin didn't strap her baby into the car seat, she kills wolves from planes, his grin resembles a skeletal death mask, etc...
Look, any or all of these details may reveal that your candidate once was – or still is – an asshole, but none of them are dealbreakers to me. Sure, I like hearing 'em in the hopes that it contributes to their loss, but deep down, I know they are useless barometers for leading the country. Even Palin's disheartening redneckism is anathema only to me and a few other snobs.
However, this I know: Sarah Palin wants to ban books. She wants to outlaw abortion even for rape and incest victims. She is an evangelist Pentecostal who believes Iraq is a holy war. She doesn't believe man is responsible for global warming and wants Creationism taught in schools.
McCain is never going to get us out of Iraq and is likely to engage us in more war. He has no substantive environmental policy at a time when we have a decade to avert disaster. He has become virulently anti-choice. He has zero economic aptitude and no plan to get us out of recession other than the same tax cuts that have destroyed the middle class.
Just so we're clear. Being a pinko, untrusting whiner, I'll look for almost any reason to hate a Republican - but when pushed into sobriety, it's really the simple things that remain most powerful.
Posted by Ian Williams at September 7, 2008 11:29 PM
First off, Snopes has confirmed this letter is true.
Here is the more important thing: I've read these comments n Ian's blog for a while and have stayed out of it, but here is the short version of my response (no one has enough time for my long version):
I think creationists are idiots. I also think pro-lifers are idiots. You shouldn't care that I think they are idiots, that means nothing. But you should care that these idiots want to force their religion upon me. I am not Christian, I am a Jew. Like many Jews I do not subscribe to the "revealed" Christian doctrine that life begins at conception. There is no evidence for life beginning at conception other than the Pope's revelation in the mid 1800s (and this is the same Pope who was the first to promulgate the idea that A Pope is infallible. Get this? He is so stupid that he thinks that if he wears a certain hat and sits in a certain chair, that he can't make a mistake).
St. Augustine was the first Christian to speak against abortion, but he did so not to prtect the so-called "life" of the child but because aborting a fetus would make the sex act for pleasure and therefore sinful. You want to espouse your religion, you douche bags? Learn it first.
Why does this matter? It matters because when you vote for an RIGHT WING nut job like Sarah Palin or any republican who holds that it is their job to govern based on Christian principles, you are violating my civil rights to practice my religion. You are telling me that I am not an American, that I don't count. and to do so, above all other issues of right and wrong, is a vilation of the constitution, plain and simple.
This is why the government has to be pro-choice. If it is, and you want to not have an abortion, you get to not have an abortion. If I want to have an abortion (or, rather, my wife and I decide that she should have an abortion), then we get to decide that. And if, after consideration, we change our minds, or you change your minds, we all get that too.
There are lots of reasons to vote against McCain/Palin, but the one I am responding to is basic: if you want to live in a society governed by homogeneous religious principles then move to Iran and stop wasting my time. You don't like religious freedom, then, to steal a tactic from the Republics, leave this country you unpatriotic traitorous sack of shit.
Ian spends a lot of time attacking with rudeness and not facts -- this is true -- and it can be offensive -- this is also true -- but why should he try to use facts against delusional religio-fascists who believe that their fictional book is more True than my (likely fictional) book, especially when the claim to life at conception isn't even in the fictional book in the first place.
Ahhh, yes. Poor victimized Christians.
The medical profession defines death as the absence of brain waves. If we were to be consistent, the presence of brainwaves would be the indicator of life. A heartbeat is not an indication of life, it is an indication of muscular movement. (By the way, soldiers and Iraqi citizens all have heartbeats, but we have no problem killing them.) We also don't know that fetuses _feel_ pain, we know that tissue responds to stimulus. It is a religious interpretation to call that stimulus pain.
Palin is against abortion in all cases, this is a religious perspective, and you can pretend that it is not but it is. Creationism is a religious and anti-Scientific doctrine and has no place in schools. And, of course, you poor victimized Christian, you are right, "Palin thinks abortion is murder," (your words) but it is WHY she thinks such a thing that is relevant. I THINK its not. Why should her thinking be more important than mine? Because she was a hockey mom? Because she happens to live in a small town? (I do too, btw, but not nearly as small as the town she was Mayor of, although my state has a smaller population than hers.) Because she agrees with you (presumably)? What makes you so important?
And, btw, just to quell your ad hominem attack -- I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion. I have spent the last seventeen years studying the subjects of religion and justice (twenty one if you count undergraduate). I have taught the Gospels numerous times in my class and I teach the philosophical foundations of both Catholicism and Protestantism regularly. So, not only do I have an opinion, but I have an informed opinion that I have dedicated much of my life to reexamining on a regular basis. It is just more ignorance and fascism on your part to assume that because I don't agree with you or your version of Christianity (or Palin's) that I am a bigot. I am not.
My position is plain: (1) Most American Christians don't know squat about their own religion (not, all, mind you, but most -- and most Jews don't know squat about their religion as well), (2) the bible is not revelation, (3) A democratic government based on the separation of church and state that holds that diverse religions must live together cannot govern from within one religious perspective, (4) science and it's standards of evidence, falsification, and reproducibility must be the cornerstone of public policy decisions.
But I forgot, since I disagree with you and expect that American should be pluralistic and democratic, that everyone should be able to exercise their choice, than I am a bigot. Good to know, especially since, you know, you are the first person to ever point that out.
The purpose of telling you my job was to show you that I wasn't a bigot. It was to show you that I have thought deeply about these issues and have come to an informed decision from intensive reading, thinking, and talking with a wide variety of people, and have done so for close to two decades. (A resume, oh enlightened one, would be much more detailed, I assure you.) I was defending myself against your claim that I was responding out of ignrance. Show me another way to do that besides "agreeing with you" and I will do so.
I did not suggest that you are not qualified to engage with me, but your own refusal to actually address the issues and to purposefully misread what I am saying is certainly evidence that you are not worth wasting my time on. That you are incapable of learning (or at least unwilling). Not a unique situation in this world, sadly.
And Christians are not automatically douche bags, these douche bags happen to be christian, and because they are douche bags they want to impose their Christianity on the rest of us. There are plenty of douche bags who are Jewish and plenty who are other (including atheist). They are douche bags because they expect others to act and believe like them just because they believe or act a certain way.
It is a mark of the American Christian right that anyone who has actually bothered to study and learn about something is an elitist. How come you go to a trained mechanic and a trained surgeon but you refuse to acknowledge that maybe someone educated in philosophy and religion might actually have something to contribute? That my reading of the relevant texts and histories, and that my exploration of the ideas makes me elitist? Next time you need a quadruple bypass, you should ask your friend who "believes" that the aorta is in your foot to do the surgery. That would solve this problem once and for all.
If life were different, I would wish upon you the world that you wish upon others. I would wish upon you a country run by ignorant war mongers who wish to impoverish the working class, who send someone your kids to war in the name of religion, while laughing at them behind their back when they ask for medical care and protection for their families. I would wish upon you a world where your government ignores you while you drown in a hurricane and starve for lack of social programs, where teachers teach your children that 1+1=3 and that Rev. Fallwell actually talks to God. That would show you, for sure, but unfortunately, my daughter would have to live in that world and that is too much to bear. So instead I periodically forget that reason, evidence, knowledge, and, yes, a tad bit of anger, won't ever penetrate the ignorance of a group of people who are so stupid, that they willingly vote for someone who is actually trying to enslave them. America gets the president it deserves, and if we get McCain/Palin then we deserve what we get. But if you don't think that you and those with your beliefs aren't going to be the first people up against the wall when it happens, you need to read more history. But, of course, reading history would be elitist, so go misread revelations instead. That will show me!
Let's be clear: I don't like the answers. I think they are ignorant. They are ignorant of both science and of Christianity, as I pointed out in my first response. But again, as I said before, that I think they are so is irrelevant. What I seek, and what the Republicans do not, is a society in which each person has the right and the ability to choose for themselves. You appear to want the homogeny, and the candidates you support most certainly do.
When Palin says abortion is an issue for the legislature, she is advocating for overturning Roe v. Wade. It is a way of saying that abortion is a state's rights issue and not a matter of religious freedom or privacy. Bush, McCain, and others ALL advocate for the legislature, so yes, that is an example of extremism. Her attempts to ban books, those are example of extremism, her advocacy for teaching creationism, those is an example of extremism.
What is most astonishing about them, and you, Matt, is that you insult while claiming not to. You have called me a bigot and elitist, attacked my teaching style and my "screed." Such is your right and I think you should have every opportunity to do it. But be honest about it. (Doesn't Jesus want you to be honest?) I, on the other hand, have been straight forward in calling certain people douche bags and explaining why. I have known and loved many in the Christian left, (thank you Caroline) and, in fact, have known and loved many in the Christian right (I lived with one for a year, as a matter of fact, and if things had gone differently, we might even have married -- oh wait, sorry, that might sound like a resume). But she wasn't a douche bag, nor were my friends. They weren't cowards who were afraid to admit what they claimed.
These people whom you defend are douche bags, they are traitors who hate 50% of America (at least) to quote John Stewart, and they propagate ignorance, bigotry, xenophobia, and caricatures of both urban and rural America. These people are bad, they are EVIL, by their own standards, by Jesus's actual standards, and by mine. Why are they not washing the feet of the outcast, as Jesus calls upon them to do? Why are they not giving up material goods, as Jesus calls them to do? Why are they not loving and turning the other cheek, as Jesus calls them to do? You say that they are defending against the murder of innocent children, but as I showed in my first point, there is no evidence for this, scientific or religious, except a Catholic revelation by someone who thought he could not be mistaken.
These people are extremists in every way shape or form and not only do I disapprove of them, I am ashamed of them.
So, Matt, next time you accuse someone of being an anti-Christian bigot, look in the mirror, because I am neither a bigot nor uninformed. What I am is angry and disgusted and ashamed, and I pray to my god, to your god, and to any god that will listen, that these people are identified as the charlatans that they are and that the scales fall from the eyes of their supporters.
I'm done posting here because I have nothing left to say, except one thing:
Caroline, you love me?
How YOU doin'?
One of my old mentors used to say, "Never get into a pissing match with someone with an unlimited supply of piss." Nevertheless, I tread lightly into the area covered by Jack and Matt today.
"What I seek, and what the Republicans do not, is a society in which each person has the right and the ability to choose for themselves."
I agree, but in any society do we not seek to impose (or apply, may be a better word) one standardized set of values or morals? I understand and appreciate your point of view, but are you not trying to substitute your point of view for Matt's? Are you not saying to Matt that, in a society based on choice, your way is right but he is free to believe in the Christian mythology if he desires? How is that different that Matt saying his way is right and YOU can choose to believe differently?
"This is why the government has to be pro-choice. If it is, and you want to not have an abortion, you get to not have an abortion."
Do you feel this way about guns? That gun ownership should be a choice and if you do not want to own a gun, then don't buy one? How about the death penalty? Should a society have a choice on how to deal with its criminals and if you don't want to face that choice, then choose not to commit a capital offense? How about helmet and seat belt laws? The point is, we regulate things all the time, whether it be in the name of safety, social justice, morality, or date I say, religion. Nearly everyone can find something they disagree with and can argue it on a "choice". You may consider it apples and oranges, but the point is ultimately the same.
And to step in the pile of shit regarding abortion: If Palin truly believes in no abortion whatsoever, even in the case of rape or incest, then she may have the clearest moral position of all - and I say that as someone who is pro-choice. If you agree that life begins at conception, and you believe that abortion is wrong, then the logical conclusion is that abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances. If on the other hand, you believe that life begins at birth, then logically you should believe that you can terminate a pregnancy up until 5 minutes before birth, and I don't think even the staunchest pro-choicer truly believes that. Any intermediate position (viability outside the womb, brain waves, etc) is moral equivication and justification. And again, I say that as a pro-choicer.