Vote Roderick

Slusher Roderick for Seattle

I’m a fan of John Roderick, his music and his podcast. I treated myself to a campaign t-shirt for his city council run. Tragically, our oppressive government doesn’t allow South Carolina residents to vote for Seattle city council. Thanks, Obama.

If you live in the Seattle city limits and have not already cast your ballot, please consider voting for John Roderick. Read up on his views at and see if you see something you like. This is important stuff, getting someone in government who cares deeply about the commons and deeply about that art is not the last line item in priority, the first thing to be cut.

Vote Roderick!

Sayre’s Law and Internet Controversies

duty_callsI just watched Christiana Ellis’ most recent episode of Five More Minutes where she talks about the Batgirl variant cover being pulled. I mentioned in a comment to her that it is time to invoke Sayre’s Law, not just for this but pretty much every time one of these internet controversies erupts.

The law states “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” This is the dark flip-side of bike shedding, which is that trivial decisions get more discussion because the important and high value topics are difficult to discuss and require expertise to criticize.

I will admit to completely not understanding the mentality that leads people to make death threats over comic book covers and stories, Kickstarters they don’t like, keynotes by UX designers and other such things that are ultimately bullshit in the scheme of things. How a dislike of posted words or easily ignorable actions leads one to make real world (if virtual and thus far always bogus) threats of violence is beyond my way of thinking.

My own half-baked hypothesis is that these are the follow-on effects of the 9/11 aftermath. When America responded to a horrific unconscionable act of violence with a decade and a half of violence on nearly random targets and a culture of dehumanization, that spreads. We’ve picked up innocent people and locked them in Guantanamo indefinitely with no recourse or process to prove their innocence. We’ve decided certain populations are subhuman and don’t deserve even the minimal treatment granted by the Geneva Convention. When this permeates the culture, what do you expect is going to happen?

That’s why persistent racism, misogyny, homophobia, religious intolerance are such a large problem. When you have that mechanism of dehumanization against one group, it doesn’t take much to broaden that out to any group you decide is the next for that feeling. The best way to deal with it is to grant that everyone – your friends and your enemies, the followers of religions you believe in and the ones you don’t, the citizens of friendly countries and unfriendly countries, saints and suspected terrorists and criminals – everyone has a certain floor of humane treatment they must be afforded as a living member of the human race. It’s not a question of whether they deserve it or not, which is always where the discussion goes.

It’s not that terrible people forfeit their right to humane treatment by their actions. Humane treatment isn’t on an accrual basis like your Social Security benefit, you don’t bank it up or exhaust it. It’s that for a culture treating even the worst people as subhuman takes away our humanity, makes lives worse for the good people, foments a culture of fear and hatred and violence. The only way to avoid violent threats about silly bullshit is to avoid dehumanization as a cultural backdrop. Everyone deserves a base level of compassion and humanity, because to deprive them of it makes us monsters just like them and we want to be better.

In the end, this all sounds a little Jesusy for an atheist, no? So be it.

My Inauguaration Day Letter to Avedon

Back in the 2008 election season it was a large source of friction between myself and many of my friends and family, my tepid non-support for a Barack Obama candidacy. Taken purely on his policies he was at best the fourth best fit in the primary race for my beliefs. I didn’t much care for what he said, even as I noted how well he said it.

Very few voices in the left-wing online sphere agreed with me, but political blogger (and long time science fiction fan) Avedon Carol was one of the few people with my outlook. Her blog has recently moved here, for many years prior it was here. On inauguration day 2009 while the entire left was having a great party and enjoying the historic swearing in of our first black president, I chose to say nothing online at all expressing my lack of joy. What I did do was send a private email to Avedon, baring my soul about my doubts. I didn’t think to get her permission ahead of time to include her reply, but suffice it to say it was one of sad agreement.

Posted below is my email in its entirety, written and sent on January 20, 2009:


Just a word of support, so it will literally be true that “lurkers support you in email.” I’ve been reading for years and my disdain and distrust for our Democratic leadership to act as Democrats, up to and including the swearing-in-right-now incoming president seems very close to yours. I’m hearing how historic and groundbreaking it is that a black man has been elected president, and that’s true. What people fail to notice is that in his not-even-completed first senatorial term he was an overwhelming supporter of the incumbency of power, and nothing about his administration picks from the transition has given me any hope of that changing. His status is very much quo, his frames are very much right wing.

He’s getting acclaim for being bipartisan when in fact, he is being monopartisan. My local (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) paper praised him for including Lindsey Graham on his policy advisor list. I don’t give the man credit for accepting extra voices of the failed policies. It’s not bipartisan, just dumb. That the power brokers and voices of incumbency love it is predictable, but to me it is the warning sign that the revelers are ignoring.

I think you could see this pattern clearly in the 2006 election when he crossed his party to support Lieberman over Lamont. For putting his personal crony loyalty above that of his party, he was rewarded in 2008 by having Lieberman speak at the RNC and support McCain. He sold out what he should have preserved, and he got LESS THAN NOTHING FOR IT. I envy the people having a hope fest. What I see ahead of us is 4 years of Liebermans running around.

My final thought: America has come a long way in the diversity of our power structure. It used to be you had to be a rich white male lawyer to make a credible run at the presidency. Now you can be a rich woman lawyer or even a rich black lawyer. It’s a new day. I’m glad we have elected a black president. I’ll be even more glad when we elect an actual Democrat.

You are free to blog or ignore any of this you see fit, but I’d prefer you not blog any during Jan 20th, 2009. I’m running silent on my feelings today, letting people have their party without being a buzzkill. I’m not celebrating but buckling up for what I’m sure is coming.

Best. Yours in the tribe,


Mark Sanford on Ethics

SC Governor Mark Sanford will be in my town today, speaking at a Ryans restaurant that we frequent. He is scheduled to speak on ethics which ought to be rich. I wish I could go.

The drama with out governor continues. He seems to be defending himself with the “Cheney Tactic.” As people criticize him and ask for him to step down, he claims they have a political agenda so that makes all charges ignorable. Umm, Governor? You are a politician as are all of the legislators. If they didn’t have political agendas they should be drummed out of office. It’s the only reason to be there.

Here is my take. I do not give a damn about Sanford’s personal life, the state of his marriage, his infidelities or any of that. Frankly, I wish I could un-know most of what I’ve heard about it. Here’s what I care about: in a coastal southern state during hurricane season, he left the country while telling his staff he was in the country. I consider that by itself to be a dereliction of duty sufficient to warrant the resignation, and failing his resignation an impeachment proceeding.

These are not academic concerns. If you think back to August 2005, part of the federal government defense for their miserable handling of the Katrina aftermath was that they weren’t getting the proper requests from the Louisiana governor. When disaster strikes, the governor needs to be on top of it. Our governor wasn’t around, had lied about his whereabouts and the lieutenant governor had not been handed authority. Had something happened, the crucial first hours would have been spent trying to figure out who was in charge, where the governor was, and what to do. Sanford lied about the commission of his duties of governor. If that is not an impeachable offense, what is?

Sanford made his choice when he put his personal life above that of his constituents in the state of South Carolina. If he felt he had to do that, then he had to do that. Now it is time to pay the price for that. Conservatives love to talk about personal responsibility. It’s time for Sanford to take some for his actions, step down and put the governance of this state in the hands of someone with different priorities.

When Andre Bauer made his deal this week (any deal that involves Bauer not running for governor is a good one), Sanford declined to resign. At this point, that’s his way of saying “I’m not going to do this the easy way.” I believe it is time for the impeachment proceedings. Ample opportunity has been given for clean alternatives, Sanford declined, now on to the messy stuff.

So when I say that Sanford speaking on ethics down the street from my house is a rich one and I wish I could attend, I really really mean it.

PS – I wonder if Rod Blagojevich sent Sanford a thank you card when this story broke?

Democrats vs Republicans

Tom Tomorrow is uncomfortably correct about how both Democrats and Republicans behave in this cartoon.

I know that getting burned out on healthcare is part of the conservative strategy so I’m trying to fight the feeling. I know a lot of the opposition is being raised because of cost. This would be a lot stronger argument if the same people hadn’t been strong supporters of every Iraq appropriation and presided over the deficit rising from $5 trillion to $10 trillion during the Bush years. That they are willing to spend on the one, but not on healthcare for Americans can only lead to one conclusion about priorities:

Conservatives would rather make dead Iraqis than healthy Americans.

PS – don’t bother trying to comment troll this post. I have a delete button that I’m not afraid to use on anyone who wants to be a jerk. Use that energy trying to get Medicare repealed since you hate government healthcare so much.

Bigger (Revenue) Than Jesus

This weekend is when the sales tax in the city of Myrtle Beach is hiked to 11.5%. Those tax and spend Republicans are at it again. I thought I’ve been places with crazy high sales tax before but I’ve never seen it this high anywhere I can recall. I note that God himself is only asking for 10%.

This extra 1% is to pursue marketing campaigns to replace the tourists that the city has spent the last year running off, and they are doing it by making everything a tourist might buy in the city more expensive in a time when people are already hurting for cash. Nice thinking, y’all. Maybe then you can increase that another couple percentage points so you can run an advertising campaing to convince people that 14% sales tax isn’t really that high.

People v. Mark Sanford

As far as I can tell, Mark Sanford’s basic approach with the federal stimulus funds is to reject them if that money is to in any way be used for helping people. Paying down debt he likes, keeping people working at their jobs he does not like. Schools are now looking at furloughing employees in ways they wouldn’t have to if they received the funds. The whole thing seems to me to be his way of saying “Look how fiscal conservative I am, I’m willing to let my own citizens crash and burn rather take money that they’re on the hook for one way or another! Think about me in 2012, OK national GOP?”

It’s time to research what you do to initiate a recall campaign in South Carolina.

What If Phelps Didn’t Apologize?

I have the joy of living about 100 miles from where Michael Phelps performed his now infamous pot smoking stint captured on film. It turns out that it will probably have been the most expensive bowl ever smoked. They normally cost, what, a dollar? Phelps’ bowl will have cost him millions of dollars.

Via Avedon Carol comes an interesting take from Randy Balko. I pretty much agree with everything he says here. I don’t smoke pot, and whether or not it is legal doesn’t make a difference. Tobacco is legal and I don’t smoke it either. Seriously though, I don’t understand the moral outrage about pot. We hear so much about college binge drinking. It would be entirely possible for someone to sit down with a bottle of tequila and drink so much that they will lay down and die. This is beside the dangerous things that people do while drunk, but just the act of drinking that much can kill you. As far as I know, it’s not physically possible to smoke enough pot to kill you.

Put aside the medicinal uses for marijuana. Think through this situation. Imagine some young early 20s-ish punks are approaching you in the street and they look like they could be trouble. Would you prefer they were 1) drunk, 2) wired on cocaine, 3) hopped up on crystal meth or 4) high on pot? Of all those options, in which case do you think you’d have the least chance of them doing something unpredictable and possibly dangerous? Yeah, me too.

Political Thought of the Day

When I listen to Republicans talking about how unacceptable spending $1 trillion in America is, I would take them a lot more seriously if:

  1. The national debt had not increased from $5 trillion to $10 trillion when Republicans ran all three branches of the government
  2. Republicans had not been telling us over and over again for the last six years how important it is to spend $1 trillion in Iraq. I’ve decided that I don’t actually give a damn about Iraqi infrastructure but I’ve paid for an awful lot of it.
  3. The Republicans hadn’t sold us the Bush tax cuts on the really rich as a stimulus package when it obviously had the opposite effect.

Listening to the Republicans talk about what will fix the economy makes me thinks of this analogy: Imagine you have a friend who one Saturday night gets really drunk and drives his car into a ditch. He calls you up at 3 AM and asks you to come pick you up. You do, and he spends the whole ride home complaining about how you drive. He might be right and he might be wrong, but considering what he accomplished when he was driving, I think he should shut the hell up. I’m not taking seriously pronouncements about what will and won’t fix the economy by the people who were the architects of the meltdown.

Hyperlocal Coverage is Hard

I went to the Conway SC mayoral debate earlier this evening. I videotaped the whole event with the plan to put it online as quickly as I could. The problem is that the sound is kind of janky, and unfortunately in a way that makes two candidates much quieter than the other two. That’s enough of a problem of fairness that I really want to extract the audio and run it through the Levelator or at the very least boost it where necessary. iMovie ’08 is just useless for that sort of stuff. I had to use it to get the video off my camera but now I’m trying to get everything into the old iMovie just so that I can do anything with it. I believe that I shall not be fooling around much more and will pay for Final Cut Express if I’m going to be doing this sort of thing with any frequency at all.

The big bummer is that the event is so timely I just don’t have much luxury of time here. The debate was a few hours ago, the election is in 8 days and I need to get this posted as soon as I can. I had hoped for tonight but that isn’t going to happen. With any luck I can get it for tomorrow night. I didn’t expect this would be easy but I hadn’t anticipated how much pressure I feel to turn this around. I want to do this service to the voters in my community, to get this online and then publicized as much as I can. I might be having my personal laptop next to me at the day job, doing renders tomorrow while I work. I don’t have the ability to try and fail very many things before the clock (really, the calendar) ticks off more time than I have.

This is fun, but I really want to get some results and quickly. It’s time to Bring the Democracy, boyeeeee!

Hyperlocal coverage of Conway SC Mayoral Elections

Over on the Grand Strand Bloggers site I have begun covering the Conway mayoral election. It’s kind of an experiment for me. I was hyped up by Ruby Sinreich’s presention at Converge South about the work she does with Orange Politics and decided I’d like to try my hand at this. If you live in Conway and want to know the most about your mayoral candidates, please follow along and above all, come out and vote on December 9th. Just because we elected a president, that doesn’t mean democracy gets time off. It’s always working, for you and through you, so let’s get to it, friends and neighbors.

Congratulations President-Elect Obama

I feel good about the election. Even though I have remained at arms length with Obama because of his failure to embrace true progressive positions, he ran an extraordinarily well organized and remarkably clean campaign. Where McCain/Palin tried to throw in fud about his associations and emphasize his otherness and use lots of code words that all boiled down to “don’t forget he’s black and we’re white”, Obama did not reciprocate the descent into the mud.

Honestly, for all the rhetoric and the talk about the historic nature of this race, here is what matters to me. I want a President who believes in government and will appoint the officials of the executive branch based on their competence, not their personal and party loyalty. I want to see a President in there who is competent and can make the wheels of government and wants to. Bush has done exactly what he wanted to and based on his own agenda may be the most successful President in history. His stance is that government doesn’t work and in eight years of effort he has made that true. I look forward to seeing President Obama reverse that decay of our civic structures and restore our government to an institution making a good faith effort to govern ethically and responsibly.

He may not achieve every bit of the rhetoric of his acceptance speech, at least not quickly, but I do believe that Obama wants the American government to work and will set about making that happen. I am most excited to see him doing the most boring aspects of this job. I want him to appoint heads of FEMA and Treasury and cabinet members whose loyalty is to the American people, not looting the public coffers into corporate hands as quickly as possible. I do believe his agenda is to improve things and I do believe he will get there. How far and how well and how quickly is an open question, but I have every belief that we are now awaking from a long, ugly, unpleasant dream that we will spend the next four years shaking out of. My friends and neighbors, it truly is morning in America. Let’s make this a great day.

I Voted

I cast a vote today for a black man for President of the United States. Sure, there have been black candidates for the last 36 years. I strongly considered voting for Lenora Fulani in 1988, the first black person to be on the ballot in all 50 states. It is a historic day, and although I wish Obama were more progressive at least he and Biden are smart and reasonable, learned and willing to learn. That puts them above the McCain/Palin ticket and waaay above Bush/Cheney. I still have this core of fear in the pit of my stomach that scumbags with crooked voting machines will still try to steal this election but unlike 2000 and 2004 I think the margin is so big that it can’t be done with impunity. I’m not assuming anything until I see the guy sworn in this January, but for the first election day in many years I feel good about it.

North Carolina TV

I’m in a hotel room in North Carolina. During the 11 PM news I believe 3/4 of all ads were campaign ads. I thought it was hard to take in South Carolina, but this is bad. One commercial break was a succession of alternating Kay Hagan and Elizabeth Dole ads. I don’t know how you folks take it. I suspect that by Tuesday it will feel like sweet relief.

You Fight Like You Train And You Govern Like You Campaign

Despite my stubborn refusal to drink the Obama kool-aid, the Democrats would have had to field a real crap lousy candidate for me to fail to vote for whomever isn’t John McCain. Over and over I heard the meme about what an “honorable man” McCain is, despite his documented history of corruption and scumbaggery. I think his campaign has been poorly run, the one large decision he had to make in the form of running mate was completely absurd, and it is amazing how it is imploding here at the end.

To further point out why I think an America with McCain as president would be a bad place, here’s a prime example. At a recent campaign stop in Iowa, his staff picked people out of the crowd they thought were capable of causing trouble and pro-actively ejected them. Some of these were his supporters, or at least they were before this.

Elborno said even McCain supporters were among those being asked to leave.

“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said. “They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.”

McCain the POW who was tortured has been wishy washy on torture. The man who spent years incarcerated while fighting for America’s freedom is highly willing to have it abrogated in his presence. People who don’t look right are treated as guilty. This sounds like the America I have nightmares about us becoming and that I fear we have been heading to irrevocably over the last eight years. If we’re going to pretend we are a free nation, it’s about time to fucking act like it. I’m voting for the candidate least willing to act like a fascist, which certainly ain’t McCain.

Early Voting “Seems Wrong”

Local columnist Bob Bestler published a column the other day in the Myrtle Beach Sun News that may be the silliest thing I’ve read in that paper. This is not a small feat. In it, Bestler says that it seems wrong to him to have votes cast before election day because it cuts down on the tailgating feel of it. Never mind that hours long lines are a sign of democracy falling apart and that the effect of early voting is to increate participation and civic engagement, what seems to matter to Bestler is the purity of it as an event. Wow.

Here’s the best part. After his love letter to voting on election day and not early, he notes that he’s voting absentee this year. Way to cut your own silliness off at the knees, Bob.

Al Qaeda Endorses McCain

John McCain made a huge deal this spring about Hamas supporting Obama, so it’s time to play “what comes around goes around.” Today’s entrant is the fact that Al Qaeda has endorsed John McCain. Of course they would. Just like Bush/Cheney are, McCain/Palin would be partners in the terror and repression business. They need each other to provide the rationale and political cover to cow the masses. Remember this every time McCain or Palin talks about how scary Obama is. What’s that word for when you instill fear in the masses as the means to achieve your goals? It’s on the tip of my tongue …

Let’s also play “who’s the huge frigging hypocrite.” After this news came out, the McCain campaign claims this is reverse psychology to hurt McCain. Interesting how that works. According to McCain, when Hamas endorses Obama means vote for McCain and when Al Qaeda endorses him it means vote for McCain. Exactly how much of this blatant type of crap, double think and plain old fashioned lying does the public need to see from McCain? I’m really surprised the race is this close, It should be 70/30 at this point.

The Party of Lincoln

Here’s a repeat of something I said on FriendFeed today. I do not watch any of the 24 hour cable news channels and have scrupulously avoided them for several years now. However, it’s common to have them blaring in restaurants and car dealerships and such so I can’t always avoid them.

Recently in one of those situations I saw some Republican pundit on TV making the point that as the ‘party of Lincoln’ they should get more respect from black voters than the ‘segregationist Democrats.’ The point undermines itself beautifully. My first thought on hearing that was “If this guy had an example of Republicans helping black people in the last 145 years, he’d have led off with it. I’m guessing he ain’t got one.”