Friday, September 12, 2008

Petition Demanding That Senator John McCain Sell 12 Of His 13 Homes

To John McCain, to the American people, to our federal elected government officials, and to members of the press:

Recently, it has come to the attention of the public through the press that John McCain and /or his wife privately own expensive residential properties far in excess of their own needs, and that he refused to acknowledge how many houses exactly he owns when asked. In fact, the news media claimed that it was confused as to how many houses John McCain owns (because of issues as to how one should count toward the total multiple houses standing on a single piece of land they own for their own use) but the highest number reported was often 13 (instead of just one house, like Barack and Michelle Obama own). Unfortunately, even Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, reported the low-estimated-number, claiming John McCain owns 7 houses. But no matter what the title is or where the land is located, facts are facts: John McCain and his wife own 13 houses together, and he wants to add the White House to his list of homes, and that is-- in this world of unfulfilled needs-- far too much.

On top of all this, John McCain has claimed in an interview that anyone who makes less than $5 million a year isn’t rich. Someone should tell John McCain that even $1 million is enough to save thousands of doomed lives in the Third World because the people there can’t afford even basic medical treatments and cheap food.

These facts about John McCain are not being given enough attention by the media, and he has not done anything to allay people’s concerns about what they say about him and the appropriateness of his seeking to hold a public office in America. When this country started, political action didn’t come from corporate news outlets or rich newspapers-- it came from the people holding meetings, speaking in the streets, and producing pamphlets and petitions. We, the undersigned, in that spirit, write to remind people of what America is really about, contrary to John McCain’s false ideas of what America should be. We state in unity that:

-13 houses is far too much for any American couple or individual to own for his/her/their own use;
-and that it certainly is true (contrary to what John McCain erringly said) that people who make under $5 million a year certainly are often very rich;
-and we ask that to show that he is acting in solidarity with the American people and not against their best interests, that if John McCain still wants to become the President of the United States of America, he should sell 12 of his 13 houses regardless of any other considerations (like whether his name or his wife’s name appears on the title) and that he give the proceeds to actual poor people living in America who do not have health insurance, distributed fairly evenly to people from various geographic areas and various ethnic and political backgrounds.

Furthermore, since the ownership of multiple “homes away from home” by a single person or married couple is a waste of space, and drives up the price of housing when many poor people are forced to live in over-crowded or inadequate housing, and since the ownership of multiple homes necessarily restrains interstate commerce, we ask that John McCain agree to support or sponsor legislation banning the ownership or renting of more than one house, condominium, apartment or other housing by any single individual or married couple in America for their own use. The legislation should compel people to sell excess homes over time, so long as the sellers can obtain fair prices for them. This legislation will contribute to making it easier for poor families without health insurance, or for sick veterans without homes, to find a decent place to live.

If you agree with the above, please sign your handle/nickname in the comments box below (click on the blue letters that say “comments” and leave any identifying information you are comfortable with, such as website, real name, e-mail address, town/state/other real address, or phone number. If the number of signees gets large enough, I’ll send it over to the press and to the Senate, Obama and McCain.

Important: Please e-mail this post to your friends and acquaintances!!

Just Another Conservative Henchman

For anyone who spent yesterday in a cave, Palin is extremely nuts. Just letting you know.

If any feminists out there were starting to get hypnotized by the Republican propaganda, and starting to identify with Palin because she has a vagina, I hope this has snapped you out of it.

One has to ask what the possible motivations were for Palin to want to charge rape victims $300-$1,200 to get the evidence to prove they were raped. Whatever it was, it had to be something that proves that Palin is a true Republican:

(1) Wanted to save her town money so it could do other things with it, or so her or her town would look better

(2) Wanted to make her town look better by improving the crime statistics by discouraging poor women from reporting rapes (Palin may have imagined the victims' forgoing the investigations because they couldn't afford to prove the charges)

(3) Weird conservative ideological shit-- just wanting to reinforce a norm of women not being able to fight against oppression by men, and trying to make women feel like they have to submit to men (lest they be raped, and be unable to do anything about it).

UPDATE: When I wrote about this on another blog's comments, some Internet-crazy-Republican wrote:

Look, the whole rape it thing is a bit of a dodgy attack on our part. Technically, they charged the victim's insurance company, not the victim directly. So, it was a budget cutting measure.

The question is whether they would still charge the victim even if they didn't have health insurance.

Who knows?

But if there wasn't an express procedure in place for not charging those without health insurance, then the policy was to charge them. So that commenter was sticking up for Palin by giving her and her administration an unreasonable benefit of the doubt.

Also, what about those non-denial denials from the Palin camp about her knowledge and approval of the rape-kit policy?

That speaks a volume: Palin probably knew what was up, and wanted it, and it probably specifically had to do with keeping poor women who don't have health insurance (probably the demographic that most commonly reports rapes) from reporting them. Anyway, Palin probably legally couldn't keep the charges from being handled by the health insurance provider. So it's not as if the motivation to stifle poor woman victims is at all unrealistic, especially since we know it's in line with ├╝ber-conservative patriarchal dogma.

So, since there wasn't any policy in place for women without health insurance to have the rape kits paid for by the town, we can assume the policy was to charge even them for the rape kits. But, of course, Palin and her administration had to have foreseen that the situation of a health insurance provider not being billed for a rape-kit would come up when they crafted the policy, since Palin knows as well as anybody that not everybody has health insurance. Therefore, it's a pretty good chance that part of the point of the policy was to discourage reporting of rapes or to try to coeerce women into fearing men who they'd learn they couldn't really prosecute for rape effectively.

I'm Not A Bigot Against Anyone's Religion, But I'm Not An Idiot, Either

Here's Steve Benen today on the WaPo's false reports that liberals have been bashing Sarah Palin's religion.

For what it's worth, I think there is a difference between bigotry and criticizing a religion (you'll see Steve wrote something about "bigotry" that makes it sound like he thinks any criticism of Palin's religion is inappropriate-- a pretty odd claim, coming from him, a man who has repeatedly demonstrated that he is very proud of his past as an activist for separation of church and state). First of all, if they agree with Gerson's column that Steve wrote about, I think a whole host of Republicans should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves whether and to what extent their myriad criticisms of Islam are bigoted, or are merely valid and fair criticism. Second, I think whether something is religious bigotry or not can depend a lot on the context. Here, Palin isn't walking down the street, just trying to live, and facing harassment from people just for being a member of a certain religion and daring to go around doing the things one normally expects any person to be able to do to live-- to walk around town, to buy groceries, to work, to get a driver's license, to send kids to school, etc. Rather, she's vying to obtain a privilege, and probably one of the most valuable privileges in our society-- the (arguably) second-highest public office in America, something that can affect everybody. I think in those circumstances, it's everyone's right to examine her religion and to talk about it, as long the criticism is not to an extent that is unjustified or irrational considering the known facts about Sarah Palin's religion (Pentecostalism) and her practice of it.

So, I hope Steve's line about so-called "bigotry" and Gerson's column won't discourage anybody from saying what they want about Sarah Palin's religion, and I'm sure that at least 99% of the things we politically-savvy liberals would think of to say about it wouldn't amount to bigotry.

Shorter version of what I just said: If someone's trying to become the VP or President, it's just not so that their religion can't be a relevant thing to take into account when you're trying to predict how they'll perform. And Sarah Palin's religion-- a particularly fervent and strange one-- is a perfect example of that. It's probably one of the closest religions we have in America to radical Islam. And, Sarah Palin has been doing things like forcing women to pay for a $300-$1,200 forensic investigation when they would show up at her municipal police department claiming to have been raped.

There is just something odd about the idea that the concept of religious bigotry means that no religion can be criticized under any circumstances, with the exception of radical Muslims using their religion to justify killing Western, non-combatant civilians. If that's what's up, then I could invent any religion, call it something like New Satanism, and claim that the beliefs of the religion are reasons for government to allow its adherents all sorts of privileges and new rights. That doesn't seem right at all.

When liberals have fought against religious bigotry, the fight has been largely been against things like people trying to subject students in public schools to Bible- study meetings or to daily Christian prayer; when these approaches to promoting religion were explicitly outlawed, the fight became one over things like schools subjecting everyone who attends a high school football game to a spoken prayer over a loudspeaker, or to daily moments of silence in school-- both typically with obvious Christian overtones, especially since most of the establishment and students attending the school were well-known to be fervent, conservative Protestant Christians (and therefore all the non-Protestants of course couldn't help but feel like they were being forced to participate in a Protestant prayer). Another context is where a member of a religion that subjects its members to a modest requirement that they wear a certain unremarkable article of clothing daily (like a hat) finds that a school or a prison bans the religious clothing just to enforce uniformity.

In those contexts, liberals have fought against institutions using their might to subject individuals to religious conformity, either by mandating public praying or taking away a nonobtrusive religious symbol from an individual. These situations are a far cry from saying, "X wants to become President-- is X's church nuts?" and I think all the liberals involved in those previous fights knew that and were never trying to say something like that religion should just never be talked about, or that a religion couldn't motivate people to bad behavior. I mean, let's get real about Palin's religion-- in her church, people "speak in tongues." To anyone who doesn't come from that tradition, speaking in tongues is pretty obviously volitional and non-typical human behavior. It's pretty simple for a person to look at that behavior, and to conclude that the people engaging in it are frauds, are self-deluded attention-seekers, or something in between the two (especially since these people are not primitives, but come from our relatively superstition-free, science-filled society). So Sarah Palin's religion goes above and beyond being the typical religion we don't believe in-- one that believes in something we find implausible-- to being one where fraud is, at least from many people's points of view, obviously practiced and accepted.

I mean, a lot of things the conservatives' activists fight for today are rationalized around the Protestant religion, and liberals criticize those claims all the time because they deny a lot of science.

Trying to make liberals look like hypocrites by using across-the-board, platitudinous statements and characterizations (when everyone intelligent knows the real world doesn't work according to a few across-the-board, black-and-white rules and characterizations, and therefore it's really unfair to assign beliefs and arguments to people based on stuff like that, or to predict people's beliefs and arguments based on stuff like that) is the type of thing Republicans do to try to turn us against one another and gum up the works, so always watch out and be thoughtful when you encounter stuff like that.

Believing politics and governance (or other people's beliefs about them) are easily reducible to a few single-sentence slogans is something for five-year-old kids, not for thoughtful, concerned adults.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pig Remark

I heard about Obama's weird "lipstick on a pig" remark today from the front-pages of local newspapers, although it oddly didn't appear on any of the three or four major blogs I check daily (Washington Monthly, Matt Yglesias, Atrios' Eschaton, at least). Anyway, although in general I think Democrats (and even Obama) should be less civil and more confrontational, since the Republicans practice such abusive politics, and the Republicans and the media lie to the people so much, I thought this remark was weird for Obama to make, was way out of line, and was not the type of thing I expect Obama to say publicly without someone coercing him by some means to do so. The specific problem with the remark was that it sounds misogynistic, by seeming to incidentally attack Palin's appearance (using the word "pig" to say that her policy is no godd, when women in this messed-up society are raised to be inordinately focused on their weight and appearances). Another funny thing about the remark is that it seems to play perfectly into the Republicans' and media's strategy for Palin-- that is, to attract women to supporting her by protraying her as persecuted for being a woman (think-- are all these reported "attacks" on Palin for, for example, not taking more time to raise her kids really coming from any specific journalists, Democratic politicians, or well-known figures on the left? Or are they just media lies?). So I think the remark is another piece of evidence which tends to show that I am correct in my suspicion that someone is bringing some sort of illegitimate, nasty pressure tot bear against Obama.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What Is Up With The British?

Now, there is plenty wrong with how things are done in America and how the American government is behaving nowadays. And there is plenty that the British do better than us. But I still have to ask, in 2008, when so many other European nations have long since abandoned the official character of royalty (or at least have given up on furnishing their nobles with huge piles of treasure) why are the British bowing down and worshipping a royal family who hold coined British surnames and are actually something like 7/8ths German at this point? I would have to roll my eyes a little at any conservative British person who called Americans yobs (hooligans)- the British, after all, are in one respect still living in the 13th century. And what's worse, they're in denial about it, telling themselves that what's really a crass symbol of plutocracy and arbitrary authority is instead about nation and race, going so far as to change the names and the details to help them believe the story.

It would be more than merciful to let these people just keep the house and the jewels, but let them figure out how they're going to continue to pay to maintain their real estate and other valuable property, and how they're going to pay the other taxes on them. Government employees who have been paid to serve and defend the "royal" family could be turned to serving and defending people who earn it through merit or as a right of being a British citizen, instead of by some meaningless distinction. But I think the British have already made the logical conclusion of making the structures and a lot of other historic property associated with their royal family legally state treasures (i.e., the "Windsors" and "Mountbatten-Windsors" can't sell them). If the British can see the logic in taking that step, it's certainly time to follow the logic a little further and withdraw the anachronistic insult to humanity of monarchy a little further from the public's view.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What The Republicans Have Turned Politcs Into

I'm a little surprised that Steve Benen can act so surprised here at the news that John McCain hired a former enemy who his underlings once denounced by name at a press conference. The guy was, according to McCain, responsible for criticisms of him in 2000. How is any of what astonishes Steve about this situation new? When someone criticizes you, you say that he is terrible and wrong, for doing that, but when you are trying to obtain something, you say that your opponent is terrible and wrong, and you hire the people who can find the best way to say that and who won't flinch at thinking it up. It's elementary politics for the Republicans, and we've seen every week for years (it seems like) that they're smearing the smearers (and even their legitimate critics) when they think it helps them, and doing the smearing themselves when they think it helps them.