Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can You Die Of Heartbreak?

This fascinating article explores the question of whether intensely felt emotions (fear, grief, stress, even joy) can cause one to literally die. The scientific conventional wisdom insists that the answer is no, but to argue otherwise does not require a belief in the supernatural; all it demands is a recognition (which common sense makes hard to deny) that emotional states can have a significant impact on a human being's physical body. We already know that endorphins are released when we feel happiness or lust, facilitating many other unrelated cognitive and physiological processes; likewise, we know that a whole host of hormones come into effect when other extreme emotional states are entered, with physical side effects ranging from excessive perspiring and accelerated heart rate to nervous twitching and numbness. Who is to say that just the right (or in this case, wrong) set of emotions, when felt by an unusually hapless body, can't cause death?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Carter Demonstrates Moral Greatness

On the thirtieth anniversary of his brilliant Crisis of Confidence speech (which was the subject of my acclaimed 180-page senior thesis), President Jimmy Carter has contributed to American thought another piece of necessary rhetoric:

Losing My Religion For Equality
by President Jimmy Carter
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Danger

David Duke, for those of you who are unaware of him, is a Louisiana Republican who has sought (and thankfully suffered defeat) for offices ranging from United States Senator to Governor in that state. He is also an outspoken white supremacist and former KKK Grand Wizard, distinctions that earned him great notoriety during his heyday in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Yet although his peak is more than a decade behind him, he is still a popular figure on any circuit that promotes racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, hatred of Latinos, and homophobia.

I mention all of this because the following editorial was written by Duke during the 2008 presidential election. Key excerpts from the piece are posted below; I have refrained from providing a link to the original web source, as I do not want to even indirectly encourage the dissemination of this vile hate speech.

The Greatest Danger from Obama: Assassination!
The greatest danger to European Americans is not the possible election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States. A far greater catastrophe would be his assassination... The most severe danger posed by Obama as the Democratic Party nominee or as President of the United States, is the serious prospect of his assassination.The assassination of Obama would be an evil deed, a terrible tragedy for him and his family. Also, I can’t imagine an event that would cause greater damage to White Americans.If that terrible event happens, God forbid, I frankly believe it would trigger the transformation of America into a Soviet-Style state with brutal and draconian suppression of American civil liberties, rights and freedoms.I think this is true especially if the assassin were a deranged White person. However, great damage would be done even if the assassin were a member of a minority race.I am old enough to remember the shock and horror of the Kennedy assassination. At the time of his death the people of the South overwhelmingly despised Kennedy. He was loved by a segment of Americans, but he was detested by just as many Americans who hated his plans to change our immigration laws and open our borders. Millions thought rightly that his proposals for forced integration and busing would eviscerate the nation’s public school systems, destroy the vitality of our inner cities and result in massive criminal victimization of Whites. His unpopularity was shown even on the day he died, for the streets of Dallas were practically empty as his fateful motorcade went past. The assassination changed all that.Even before it was alleged that a radical communist who had traveled to Cuba and Soviet Russia had done the foul deed, newspapers headlined, “Hate killed Kennedy.”Before his assassination, Kennedy’s immigration reform bill was dead in the water. His Immigration Reform Act was a bill that discriminated against European immigration and favored Third World immigration. Kennedy’s also sponsored forced integration initiatives, so-called “civil rights legislation.” They also languished in congress. The great majority of Congress opposed these racist, anti-White bills. Prophetic senators and congressmen said that the legislation would actually diminish the civil rights of Whites and eventually result in massive discrimination against European Americans. Time has proven them painfully correct.After the fatal bullets were fired in Dallas, even though the alleged communist assassin supported those very same leftist policies, it was only a matter of time before all of Kennedy’s pernicious legislation passed and America was well on the road to demographic Armageddon. The Kennedy assassination also brought on the first laws in violation of the Second Amendment, our vital right to keep and bear arms. It also brought a change to American policy toward Israel. Perhaps one redeeming trait of Kennedy was his intense opposition to Israel getting the atomic bomb. My good friend Mike Piper of the Barnes Review, in his books, shows the involvement of many Israeli operatives in the very center of the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination.In America today, the chief advocates of laws to end constitutionally guaranteed free speech have been Jewish led groups such as the ADL (anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith) and the Southern Poverty Law Center. They have supported so-called hate laws that have literally criminalized politically incorrect thoughts.If Obama were to be assassinated, I believe that draconian laws would be enacted in America much like that in Europe where simply speaking about racial realities would become a criminal offense. I believe that there would be successful efforts to restrict freedom of speech on the Internet, and I think the powers that be would use such laws to stifle and criminalize criticism of Israel and Jewish extremism.There is another very scary scenario we should all consider. We cannot put anything past our enemies. Israel has a record of committing terrorism against the United States. The Israeli terrorist attacks in the Lavon Affair and the Attack on the USS Liberty are indisputable facts of history. The Israeli treachery against America in the Jonathan Pollard Case is undeniable. There is no doubt that Israel’s intelligence is ruthless enough to do any deed, no matter how foul in the service of the Jewish supremacist agenda.We also are aware of the plentiful evidence that Israel had a role in the 9-11 tragedy. The facts are indisputable that the Mossad shadowed and wire-tapped Mohammed Atta and at least half of the alleged hijackers for months prior to the attack. They were certainly in position to know about the attacks ahead of time. We also know that on the day of the 9-11 attack 5 Mossad agents were arrested by the FBI filming and celebrating the attacks on the WTC as they occurred. Why would Mossad agents in America be filming and cheering the attack s unless they had prior knowledge and saw it as “mission accomplished”? As Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted in The NY Times just a day after the 9-11, “the attacks were good for Israel.” Of course, as horrific as 9-11 was for America, it was a godsend for Israel. It took the world’s attention off the murders of war criminal, Ariel Sharon. It made the world turn a blind eye to Israel’s systematic destruction of the emerging Palestinian State. It upped the ante for unquestioned, massive American monetary and military support of Israel. Finally, it enabled Israeli Partisans in media and government to embark America on a catastrophic war against Israel’s enemy: Iraq.It would not be hard for a sophisticated intelligence agency to find some deranged loser, ply him with money and set him out to do an evil deed of murder, of political assassination. Over the next few months it would be naive not to consider the possibility of this rogue state’s potential to do evil.The most radical Jewish supremacist feel more comfortable with McCain’s much longer record of subservience to Israel, and in an effort to consolidate their grip of power in an increasingly totalitarian America, who knows what Israeli intelligence might do. Their record is not in the least reassuring.If Israel decides to embark upon it, there is not much we can do to prevent such an Israeli scenario,If some nut somewhere in an increasingly Hollywoodized and crazified America assassinates Obama, we have no affect on that.But there are some things we can do, and some things we must do.Everyone in this Movement for European-American rights and heritage must understand that an assassination of Barack Obama would be an evil act, catastrophic act for White Americans.Understand that anyone who is even remotely associated with our ideas who would promote any thoughts of violence or vicious or truly hateful rhetoric is either working for the other side or is so stupid he should be. Either way, we must protect ourselves from such psychopaths.Internet Chats are basically anonymous, and they are perfect pathways of Black propaganda. You never know for sure who is posting on any site.For instance, if someone is a secret operative and he wanted to really hurt Obama he could place posts on Obama’s websites openly supporting anti-White policies or justifying violence against Whites. It would be wrong to do that and such tactics are completely unnecessary, for there are acres of clear evidence of Obama’s racist sentiments and affiliations.The same kind of vulnerability existing for Obama also is true for White activist sites. Our enemies can anonymously and easily plant hateful and violent rhetoric which can be easily used by the powerful mainstream media to demonize us. We should keep our eyes open for inflammatory, clearly hateful, expletive or violent rhetoric. Such should be moderated and forcefully condemned.If the worst would happen, and Obama would be assassinated, it would be an incalculable tragedy. Hateful or violent rhetoric would be dragged up and used in a direct assault against every White activist organization. Just as important, millions of our people would be stripped of their psychological moral defenses. To even simply say that White people should have human rights too would be viewed as some sort of justification of murder. The media would depict White activists as synonymous with a murderer of a man often portrayed by the media as the Second Coming.It would usher in a media hate fest against the European American people and those of us who are activists for our rights and heritage, it would accelerate every government policy for the destruction of our people, and it would spur on the greatest suppression of freedom in American history.It is vital that all awakened European Americans understand these fundamental things. All of us must think, speak and act morally and ethically, and we must repeat again and again our opposition to any sort of violence against anyone, and reiterate again and again how any sort of plot against Obama would be evil as well as being catastrophic for our own people.Hopefully, the worst will not happen.But, I have learned long ago, that our enemies are capable of doing the most evil things imaginable to advance their agenda.Vigilance as always, is the cost of freedom!Be what we European people are naturally: fair-minded, decent and moral. At the same time we must be unselfishly and courageously dedicated to the heritage and rights of our people.Thanks for being with me today, and thank you for having the ability to think independently.

While the obsessive-compulsive in me wants to take issue with Duke's poor grammar, I shall instead focus on the real horror to be found in this post. For months there have been reports of neo-Nazi and other racist groups wanting to take the life of this nation's first black president. Shortly before the November election, two young men were arrested for plotting just such an assassination; since then dozens of stories have come to the public's attention about a veritable menagerie of hatemongers. From countless websites talking about how murdering Obama would be "tyrannicide" to bombastic paranoia that declares Obama to be a "socialist" and "dictator" to the monsters who imply or openly state that Obama's race will somehow affect his policies and/or his ability to be president, there has been no deficit of zealots and lesser kooks eager to revile the hapless Illinoisan. For those who doubt the seriousness of this threat, one need only look at James von Brunn, an 88-year-old man whose admiration for the philosophy of Hitler prompted him to pen several racist tracts (including the anti-Semitic book Kill The Best Gentiles and Jew-baiting website The Holy Western Empire, as well as numerous writings denouncing African-Americans). When von Brunn finally decided to shoot an African-American guard named Stephen Tyrone Johns at the United States Holocaust Museum last month, he did so because "The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews. Obama does what his Jew owners tell him to do. Jews captured America's money. Jews control the mass media."

Yet although white supremacists are malevolent, they're not stupid. Men like David Duke know perfectly well that there are many among their ranks who are prone to violence, and that of these more than a few have openly professed a desire to murder President Obama. Those of them old enough to remember the backlash against the right-wing following the Kennedy assassination (which Duke is correct in pointing out was committed by a Communist, not a conservative), or who simply have a fundamental understanding of human nature, can also figure out that a vicious backlash against white supremacists of all shapes and stripes will no doubt ensue if one of their own actually succeeds in assassinating Barack Obama. In short, should the vitriol that they have fermented with such deliberation actually intoxicate one of its imbibers into doing the unthinkable, David Duke and his ilk know that they need to be ready.

Not surprisingly, this readiness has already manifested itself in one of their most common fail-safes - blaming it on the Jews. In his article David Duke plays on many of the most pernicious anti-Semitic tropes (that Jews control the media, that Jews control politics, the Jews were behind 9/11, Jews harm America to advance their own interests because they are more loyal to their own tribe then to their country, et cetera) in order to lay the foundations for a conspiracy theory about Jewish involvement in a potential Obama assassination. Posting this article early was indeed a brilliant maneuver, for it puts him in a win/win situation with his followers: If Obama is never assassinated by a white supremacist, Duke still will have scored brownie points for sticking it to African-Americans and Jews, and if something does happen, Duke will already have a pre-prepared libel that exonerates his people, allows him to further attack one of his favorite targets, and most important of all, enables him to crow about how he must be right because he wrote about it before it happened.

What makes this especially vile is the disingenuous nature of it all. Given how vociferous white supremacists have been in expressing how much they hate President Obama, his administration (many of whom, like Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Lawrence Summers, and Peter Orszag, are well-known to be Jewish), and everything Obama and his followers represent, the professions of not wanting him to die ring very hollow. Their partisanship is not of the erudite, intellectually methodical sort utilized by Peggy Noonan and George F. Will, of the shrill variety preferred by Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, or even of the belligerent stemwinding favored by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. As angry as those conservatives may be at President Obama, none of them have ever said anything that could be construed as implying that Obama should be killed. Duke and his supporters, on the other hand, have used language that vilifies Obama in such stark terms that those who take them seriously are almost left with no other choice but to believe that the unthinkable must be done. Although I am usually reluctant to throw out such extreme language, the only word that accurately describes what David Duke has done here is the big four-letter epithet, "evil".

If I were President Obama's Secret Service detail, I would keep a close eye on anyone who visits these websites. They've got a little bit of hate-speech against blacks here, a pinch of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorizing there, some old-fashioned red-baiting to spice things up, and now this heap of bovine scatology to throw the stink of guilt away from themselves. When a group sees fit to assemble this batch of ingredients, one has to wonder just what exactly they're cooking up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

21st Century Bigotry

Do you recall liberal soldiers being this treasonously insubordinate when George W. Bush was president? Apparently the rules aren't quite the same when it is a liberal sitting in the Oval Office.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama's Legacy

While it is far too early to draw any definite conclusions about President Obama's ultimate legacy, I can guarantee that if this bill is passed in its current (or at least promised) form, he will be able to take credit for one of the greatest progressive economic achievements since the creation of the SEC.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Article about Michael Jackson

This is a fantastic article about Michael Jackson's life:

Supreme Court Ruling on Racial Case

This is an excellent article by conservative columnist George F. Will on the Supreme Court's recent decision in a controversial New Haven firefighter lawsuit. Believe it or not, I agree with the right-wing on this one.

Palin's Resignation - Part Three

A hilarious article on Palin's resignation:

Another Excellent Article

A fantastic article on the logical fallacies of fanatical atheism, as preached by the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and company:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Palin's Resignation - Part Two

I was right...

Rush Limbaugh Uses Michael Jackson To Deify Ronald Reagan

Keith Olbermann and Al Franken have done such a fantastic job popping the heinous bubble of flatulent rhetorical gas that is Rush Limbaugh that it seems redundant for me to do so here. In light of his latest comment, however, I simply cannot resist...

Yesterday I went through the timeline of the Michael Jackson career, and I pointed out that Michael Jackson flourished, I mean, Michael Jackson epitomized the individual. He was weird, you know, screwball. But he wasn't part of a group. And you don't hear anybody covering Michael Jackson songs. Who else has recorded Billie Jean? I mean not even the Hollyridge Strings, which covered the Beatles. Nobody covers a Michael Jackson song, that's how unique it is. He flourished when? Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, the big sellers all during the eighties during the Reagan administration. Then we get to the nineties and Michael Jackson languished under Clinton and Bush. And, sadly, Michael Jackson died under Obama.

How do I begin....

1) Yes, Michael Jackson was an "individual", but unless you consider self-mutilation via plastic surgery, unsavory relationships with little boys, and pill-popping to be admirable qualities, that isn't exactly something you should trumpet, much less dismiss as "screwball" (to be fair, Limbaugh may actually believe that pill-popping is admirable).

2) "Smooth Criminal" was covered by Alien Ant Farm. "I'll Be There" was covered by ChanJ. County music star Ray Stevens covered "Bad". Off Target and Aereogramme covered "Thriller". Miles Davis did a cover of "Human Nature". "Billie Jean" - the song that Limbaugh cited as an example - has been covered, in part or totally, by Clubhouse, LL Cool J, Chris Cornell, and Destiny's Child.... you know what, I don't have time to complete this list. The point is, as always, that Rush Limbaugh allowed his lips to flap before making sure the wind that was produced by them wouldn't embarass him.

3) Limbaugh assumes that the American government has such power over the lives of its citizens that - much as Pericles produced an artistic golden age in Athens, Augustus a golden age in Rome, the Medicis an artistic golden age in Florence, and Louis XIV a golden age in France - that so too did Ronald Reagan produce an artistic golden age in America. Yet is there any evidence that Michael Jackson's artistic flourishing during the 1980s was the result of Reagan's policies and not, say, coincidence? Did other artists, musical and otherwise, flourish in the 1980s who were unable to do likewise during the 1970s and 1990s (after all, if Limbaugh wishes to prove that the supposedly pro-individualistic policies of Ronald Reagan were more conducive to artistic expression than those of Carter, Clinton, and Obama, he would naturally have to provide more than one case study)? In a broader sense, have previous and subsequent decades failed to live up to the richness of the 1980s in music, cinema, theater, literature, and painting? For that matter, can Limbaugh even identify actual policies that Reagan implemented which directly or indirectly resulted in this so-called flourishing for Michael Jackson? I may also point out that, as the great historian Edward Gibbon once noted of the quality of intellectual life during the Roman Empire under the five great emperors (Nerva to Marcus Aurelius, 96 - 180 AD), art is often more likely to flourish during hard times than pleasant and just ones, as the grist produced by trying political and social circumstances often serves as fantastic inspiration. While I wouldn't take Gibbon's opinion to its most extreme conclusion (since there have been many prosperous periods that were also artistically fertile, such as the Roaring Twenties), I would certainly cite his logic as evidence that artistic prosperity is not necessarily evidence of beneficent political circumstances.

4) Michael Jackson, though for the most part apolitical in his work, was outspokenly left-wing in his private politics, and would have no doubt resented the use of his name to illustrate a pro-Reagan argument. It is obscene for Limbaugh to do so.

Should I even be wasting my time pointing all of this out? Not really, since only a drooling imbecile would even take a moronic statement such as the one made by Limbaugh seriously, or for that matter, even listen to Rush Limbaugh in the first place. Then again, while it may be a waste of my time to point this out, it is also quite fun.

Why Sarah Palin Resigned

Sarha Palin just announced that she is going to resign as Governor of Alaska. For those who want her presidential ambitions to be weakened, this is fantastic news. For those who hope that she may decide against running altogether, think again.

For those of you counting, Sarah Palin's resignation (effective as of July 26, 2009) will end a gubernatorial tenure of 966 days. Her reasons for making this rather remarkable decision have been maddeningly (and no doubt intentionally) vague, with statements like "My choice is to take a stand and effect change and not just hit our head against the wall” and that she would take "my fight for what’s right in a new direction" dominating her no-questions press conference. So why is she doing it? The answer, despite incessant media speculation which implies that it is some great mystery, is actually quite obvious:

1) She wants to run for president in 2012. Resigning enables her to devote her energies full-time to the fundraising, grassroots mobilizing, political networking, and publicity grabbing necessary to render feasible such a bid. This, of course, is hardly sufficient reason in its own right for leaving office. Indeed, our nation has had six presidents who were elected while currently serving terms as governors of their respective states (Rutherford Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, William Clinton, and George W. Bush). That is why this aspect of her rationale, though certainly noteworthy, is hardly the most important.

2) She wants to run for president in 2012. That much is made clear by the constant references to wanting to "take a stand and effect change". Candidates who leave office with the intention of retiring from public life altogether generally speak of spending more time with their families, trying to find themselves, trying to make their peace with God, etc. On the other hand, those who talk about wanting to "effect change", or anything to that effect, are almost always abandoning their current set of priorities because they're bucking for some new ones.

3) She wants to run for president in 2012. Although scant media attention has been paid to this aspect of her career, Palin is actually in a great deal of legal trouble. There was last year's state legislative investigation into her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan for his refusal to punish her ex-brother-in-law, whom she happened to dislike; though the committee ultimately decided that she had not behave illegally in doing this, it did call into serious question the ethics underlying both that decision and her subsequent conduct pertaining to the whole situation. Other questions regarding Palin's actions abound - she is notorious for appointing old high school buddies and other cronies to positions of great power regardless of their qualifications (or lack thereof), for vindictively using her power as governor to take vengeance against those she dislikes, and for misusing state resources (also known as taxpayer dollars) for personal indulgences (such as putting a tanning bed in the Executive Mansion or taking her family on vacations). Considering both her high public profile as a former vice presidential candidate and the fact that no fewer than three governors have been destroyed by scandals in the past eighteen months (Spitzer in New York, Blagojevich in Illinois, and Sanford in South Carolina), it stands to reason that any scandals relating to these three tendencies on her part could arise and cause her great political misfortune, be it in the form of impeachment proceedings or electoral defeat in seeking a second term. Leaving office now spares her those potential (and, let's face it, probable) ordeals.

So why does this work to her detriment? It does for two reasons:

1) Scandal follows Palin around like stink on feces. As more and more former McCain staffers leak to the press their trepidations about and grievances toward Sarah Palin and her family, and as the sexual life of her children continues to force itself into the spotlight (and despite her complaints of excessive media attention, it is quite clear that her children seek it just as much as reporters crave it), it can be expected that negative publicity will continue to plague her. Even more important, though, is the fact that just because a legislative committee or potential gubernatorial adversary doesn't discover the existing scandals DOESN'T mean that the news media, despite its notorious lethargy, won't eventually pick up on them. Removing herself from the governorship delays the inevitable, but by no means removes its inevitability.

2) One of the main criticisms of Sarah Palin in 2008 was her inexperience. Had she been re-elected as governor in 2010, she would have been able to counter that in the upcoming presidential election by arguing that she had been in office for more than six years. By resigning, she now guarantees that her inexperience will not only remain a significant factor of her candidacy, but one with an additional sting: Unlike Obama, who in 2008 was inexperienced but still in office (and could thus argue that his inexperience wasn't necessarily his fault), Palin by 2012 will have put herself in a situation where she COULD HAVE BEEN MORE EXPERIENCED but chose inexperience as a more politically viable alternative.

Personally I never believed that Palin had a strong chance for the 2012 Republican nomination. Should the economy remain center-stage in the political world as of late 2011/early 2012, Mitt Romney will be the nominee; should the emphasis shift to social and cultural issues, or just general hatred of liberals and everything they stand for, Mike Huckabee will be the man; and should things wind up revolving around foreign policy, it's anybody's game. Even so, Palin has effectively placed herself even farther from an equation in which, despite the media's insistence to the contrary, she has never really been a variable.

How Well Everyone Else Knows Me

Several weeks ago, I created a "How well do you know Matthew Rozsa?" quiz on Facebook. The answers that people gave to the twenty questions asked therein provide an interesting insight into how I am viewed by the rest of the world. While I won't tell you which answers were correct, some of them can be figured out simply by looking at the information in the preceding article.

1. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite movie?
Revenge of the Nerds (0%)
The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (12%)
Network (35%)
The American President (35%)
About Schmidt (18%)

2. In which states did Matthew Rozsa live as a child (birth to high school)?
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland (6%)
Pennsylvania (41%)
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida (6%)
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania (29%)
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida (18%)

3. For which third-party candidate would Matthew Rozsa have voted?
William Wirt in 1832 (0%)
Martin Van Buren in 1848 (41%)
John Breckinridge in 1860 (6%)
Henry Wallace in 1948 (41%)
Ross Perot in 1992 (12%)

4. What would Matthew Rozsa do if a burglar entered his apartment*?
Cry like a baby and somehow get shot (12%)
Grab a bread knife (6%)
Grab a decent knife (6%)
Call the police (6%)
Attempt to barter with them (71%)

5. Who did Matthew Rozsa play in the 2004 mock Democratic debate*?
John Kerry (29%)
Wesley Clark (0%)
Joseph Lieberman (29%)
John Edwards (29%)
Howard Dean (12%)

6. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite short story?
"The Death of Ivan Ilych" by Leo Tolstoy (29%)
"The Yellow Face" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18%)
"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (6%)
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson (29%)
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (18%)

7. Which of these political positions does NOT apply to Matthew Rozsa*?
Pro-choice (0%)
Pro-gay marriage (0%)
Feminist (24%)
Supports intervening in Pakistan (59%)
Anti-death penalty (18%)

8. Which of these does Matthew Rozsa NOT hate?
Hamas (6%)
Richard Dawkins (35%)
City rats (41%)
People who talk in movie theaters (12%)
The smugness of most Ron Paul supporters (6%)

9. Which of these is NOT a title for a Matthew Rozsa story idea?
To Monsters (0%)
Best (35%)
Falling Off The Floor (18%)
Junius Priscus (12%)
Leaving Buffalo (35%)

10. Which of these is NOT one of Matthew Rozsa's big neurotic fears*?
Swine flu (35%)
Meningitis (18%)
Myocardial infarction (6%)
Cancer (18%)
Loss of intellectual abilities (24%)

11. Which of these jobs did Matthew Rozsa most hate?
National Canal Museum (6%)
Burger King (53%)
Department of Veterans Affairs (29%)
TransPerfect Translations (6%)
Center for Curatorial Studies (6%)

12. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite number?
8 (29%)
12 (18%)
24 (0%)
3.14.... (47%)
0 (6%)

13. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite beer?
Yvengling (12%)
Guinness (29%)
Coors (0%)
Heinken (18%)
Samuel Adams (41%)

14. Who is Matthew Rozsa's favorite president*?
George Washington (6%)
Thomas Jefferson (12%)
Abraham Lincoln (18%)
Theodore Roosevelt (12%)
Franklin Roosevelt (53%)

15. Which of these things has Matt NOT done to annoy Regina*?
Ask "Why were you bald as a baby?" (12%)
Make her dance like an organ-grinder monkey (18%)
Echo whatever she happens to say (0%)
Squirt her with whipped cream while she sleeps (53%)
Falsely accuse her of possessing girly attributes (18%)

16. Which historical figure is the hero of Matthew Rozsa's story "Cotulla"?
Cesar Chavez (6%)
Lyndon Johnson (29%)
Abraham Lincoln (0%)
Zachary Taylor (18%)
The story is cynical and has no heroes. (47%)

17. Who is Matthew Rozsa's favorite playwright*?
Henrik Ibsen (18%)
Tennessee Williams (18%)
Arthur Miller (41%)
William Shakespeare (18%)
Berthold Brecht (6%)

18. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite football team*?
Philadelphia Eagles (24%)
New York Giants (18%)
Green Bay Packers (41%)
Dallas Cowboys (0%)
New York Jets (18%)

19. What is Matthew Rozsa's favorite TV show?
The Twilight Zone (29%)
Seinfeld (24%)
Family Guy (18%)
King of the Hill (12%)
SpongeBob Squarepants (18%)

20. Which of these insults has Matthew Rozsa NOT been called*?
Communist (6%)
Pompous (0%)
Conformist (71%)
Obnoxious (0%)
Beady-Eyed (24%)

* - When the percentages don't add up to one hundred, it is because of the inevitable numerical consequences of constantly having to round up or down.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Conversation

This is an interesting conversation I had with Sean Davis, the brother of the man who convinced me to create this blog in the first place.

I'm very happy that Al Franken finally won

Same here.
Part of me hopes he will become the first Jewish president, as painfully unrealistic as that desire may be (and it is).

Sadly it is, I doubt the American public would buy into him enough for him to have a shot at the Presidency

I think Mark Sanford's political meltdown is disgusting, and not for the reaosn everyone focuses on (namely, infidelity).

Is he the Governor of S.C.?

This is the South Carolina Governor who refused to accept federal aid vis-a-vis the stimulus package because he believed that it was pork and fiscally wasteful.

Ok I was correct then

This is the South Carolina Governor who, before Obama even became president, vetoed BILLIONS of dollars of legislation for his state that would have helped the economically needy.

Well forgive me if I'm not surprised

Yet he spent taxpayer money to have trysts with some Argentine sexpot.
If that doesn't epitomize the essence of the Republican philosophy, in all of its hypocrisy, I don't know what does.

I've never had much faith in any of the modern so-called republican ideals

The last Republican president for whom I have even a modicum of respect was Gerald Ford, and the last one who I would have ever voted for was Theodore Roosevelt.

they are so quick to abandon their ideals that I'm at a loss for what they really stand for

It's easy to ascertain what they stand for.
They stand for the wealthy and powerful.
That is the only possible ideology they could have that is consistent with their policies and actions.

Now it seems like they stand for whatever the opposite end of Obama's plans are

Their rhetoric must be disregarded as a facade.

I feel like if Obama came out against abortion (not that this would happen) then all of the Republicans would immediately be pro-choice

I disagree with you there, actually.
I don't think they exist for the purpose of opposing Democrats.



I think their objective is to cater to the wealthy, powerful, and Christian right/culturally conservative.

it was a generalization and an attempt at some light-hearted humor

Humor is hard to detect via this medium.

fair point
But i disagree with the above statement a bit
I think they exist to pander to the rich and wealthy whilst brain washing impressionable people with fake christian idealism and scare tactics

I agree.
I don't see where we differ on that.

I thought that your statement implied that they are somehow catering to the religious right and not manipulating them

I think it's a little of Column A and a little of Column B.

I think they tell them what they want to hear in an attempt to garner votes

I think they've made a deal with the Christian Right in which they genuinely attempt to further their interests, but only after the interests of the plutocracy have been dealt with (as in the latter always take precedence over the former).

I don't know if they necessarily made a deal with them, I think that sometime in the late 70s Republicans realized that they can capitalize on people's faiths by claiming that they and they alone stand for their interests while painting a picture of liberalism as somehow immoral

or am I way off?

I think it traces back to the election of 1972.

ah, so i was a little late in my estimates

In 1968, George Wallace ran a third-party campaign that essentially consisted of the modern hard right - Christian right-wingers, cultural conservatives, overt and covert racists, right-wing conspiracy theorists, etc.

I see

The Wallace supporters were overwhelmingly comprised of former Democrats who were unhappy with the rise of the New Left, the counterculture, civil rights, and the anti-war movement.

I see

What Nixon realized in 1972 was that he could co-opt the Wallace voters from 1968 and bring them into his camp by remaining economically liberal but appealing to them on international and cultural issues.

so not real liberals

He succeeded, which is why he crushed McGovern so thoroughly in that election.
Had Nixon's party succeeded, we would have had the modern Republican organization BUT with economic liberalism.
Yet Nixon had to resign in disgrace and so never became the transformative president.
Instead, eight years later, Ronald Reagan became that president.


He took Nixon's coalition from 1972 and revived it, only this time injecting laissez-faire economic policies into the mix.
That's the coalition that has run the Republican party to this day... and until recently, the entire nation.

Thank god thats not the case anymore
but we are still seeing the negative effects
I doubt we will recover in our lifetimes

That remains to be seen.

true, but I'll remain skeptical until some real changes are made, not superficial ones that amount to little or nothing

I agree there.
Question: May I post this conversation on my blog?
I think it's very interesting, and would fit well there.


To these thoughts, I would only like to add the following addenda:

1) In 1968, Republican Richard Nixon received 43% of the popular vote, compared to 43% for Democrat Hubert Humphrey (who, after Adlai Stevenson, is my political role model) and 14% for George Wallace. In 1972, Richard Nixon received 61% of the popular vote to 38% for Democrat George McGovern. When that overarching statistic is combined with the specific data we possess on the election demographics from those two contests, it supports my earlier conclusion - namely, that Nixon won in 1972 by winning over the George Wallace voters, as well as maintaining the Republican base and siphoning off a few normally-loyal Democrats who were dissatisfied with McGovern's slipshod campaign style.

2) In 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter nearly erased the dynamic that had been created by Nixon four years earlier when he swept the South (winning every state in the region save Virginia), regained the solid support of the voting blocs that had made the Democrats a majority party since 1932, and won a strong victory over Republican Gerald Ford, despite the latter's last-minute comeback. Had Carter's presidency been more successful, he may very well have been the transformative president of the past three decades. Sadly, it was not, and as such Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980.