Tag: Corrupt Politicians

Fascist Theocracy

Zappa's legendary 1986 appearance on Crossfire -- pardon the audio quality.

I'd read a (maybe partial?) transcipt before but never actually sat down and watched it in its entirety. It really is quite astounding just how aggressively ignorant John Lofton is -- incest is a major problem in America because of Prince? Seriously? Jesus Christ. Good thing conservatives had their priorities straight -- not like there was anything more important going on in early 1986.

Douchebag of Liberty Bob Novak seems downright moderate by comparison.

Judging by the E-Mails I routinely get from the Washington Times (thanks to foolishly signing up for a mailing list from a local Republican politician I knew professionally in 2006), they have roughly the same journalistic standards today as they did then. But that's a story for another day. (A story titled Is Obama Ruled by Demons?)

The parallels to recent debates about adult content in video games should, of course, go without saying.

Rolling Over

Yesterday I praised the Republican Study Committee for putting out an excellent paper on what's wrong with copyright and how to reform it.

Today they pussied the hell out and retracted it under pressure from Hollywood lobbyists.

Who the hell do you guys think you are, Democrats?

My continued support and praise to everyone who still supports copyright reform. And a great big raspberry to all the craven little shits who backed down.

This isn't over.

More Parallel-Universe Politics

You know, I got to thinking last night.

If John McCain had been elected in '08, Jan Brewer would never have become governor. SB1070 would have been vetoed.

And a McCain Justice Department sure as hell would not have dropped an investigation into Joe Arpaio right before the damn 2012 election.

I'm beginning to see why candidates almost always win their home states: sure, I still think McCain would have been a terrible choice for the country...but I'm beginning to think Arizona really would have been in much better shape if he were President.

Then again, Russell Pearce would probably still be Senate President. So there's that.

Hey Karl Rove?

My brother asked me the other night if I was voting for Goldman or Sachs.

That is largely how I feel about this race and about Obama. (I wound up going Stein, BTW.) But on the whole he's the lesser evil, and this is a victory for a number of reasons -- gay rights, taxation, healthcare, and, perhaps most importantly:

A big Fuck You to Karl Rove, Shel Adelson, Citizens United, SuperPACs, and all the plutocrats' best efforts to buy this election.

Sure, tomorrow we're back to gridlock, drone strikes, warrantless domestic surveillance, mass unemployment, high gas prices, impending sequestration, and a vanishing middle class. But tonight? Maybe I'll sleep a little bit better than those fatcats.

And then go back to looking for work while they count their money. But hey, I'll take what I can get.


Watching election coverage. Appears that a truly ridiculous number of voters are being asked to fill out provisional ballots -- very close to 1:1 in may precincts, and some locations are even reporting twice as many provisional ballots as regular.

Hispanics are disproportionately affected -- quelle surprise.

This state, man...

I don't think we'll know the outcome of the Arpaio/Penzone race tonight. And probably not a number of others, either.

Green Party Candidate Arrested at Presidential Debate. Again.

So Jill Stein and running-mate Cheri Honkala were arrested outside of last night's debate.

Much the same thing happened to Ralph Nader in 2000. He sued the Commission on Presidential Debates; they settled. Back then I was naïve enough to think this was going to make a difference and this would bring down the CPD, or at least force major reforms. But nope, here we go again.

There are differences. Nader had a ticket; Stein didn't. Stein blocked traffic; Nader didn't. And I'm not sure if Stein's arrest was instigated by the CPD or if the county police acted independently. Could be that Stein and Honkala wanted to get arrested to get some press -- but even if that's the case, it's not justification for handcuffing them to a chair for eight hours, as they have alleged. That sounds to me like a wildly disproportionate response and another potential lawsuit.

Unfortunately I'm not seeing much coverage of the story, and many of the reports get details wrong -- CNN refers to the CPD as "nonpartisan" -- it's bipartisan; there's a difference -- and the Washington Post refers to Perot participating in the 1992 debates under guidelines that were not implemented until 2000.

Would sure be nice if people like Stein and Johnson and Nader and Buchanan and, yes, Perot were allowed into presidential debates. But the CPD exists for the express purpose of keeping people like them out.

Who? Who? WHO?

I've said before that I don't know who I'm going to vote for this year. Romney's right out, and I just don't think I can grit my teeth to vote Obama again either.

Johnson? There are things I like about him but if I can't grit my teeth to vote for a Democrat I sure don't see how I can grit my teeth to vote for a Libertarian. The Libertarian Party has become synonymous with a total lack of empathy for the less fortunate and an obscene worship of big business. Johnson's one of those guys like Ron Paul -- he sounds good to college kids because he wants to end our foreign engagements, decrease domestic surveillance, and end the drug war -- all good things. But you start digging a little deeper into his policies? Not only does he want to replace the IRS with a flat tax, the dude wants to abolish the Board of Education.

Stein? Well, I can't find any red flags with her, but unfortunately I've come to believe the Green Party is a dead end.

I used to be registered Green. I voted Nader in 2000. I saw him blamed for Gore's defeat, and the Green Party backed down and allowed itself to be controlled by that narrative. The leadership told Nader he couldn't campaign in swing states if he was going to run on their ticket again, and he told them he would campaign wherever he wanted.

(A quick aside: While I acknowledge Nader was one of many factors in Florida in 2000, I believe that saying "It's Nader's fault" is corrosive because it lets many more important factors off the hook: the voter disenfranchisement efforts, the intervention by Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris, the Supreme Court ruling, and -- most importantly, to my mind -- the point that Gore ran a terrible campaign. Nader makes a convenient scapegoat for the Democratic Party, but saying "It was Nader" implies it wasn't any of those other things, and does nothing to address them. Meanwhile, voter disenfranchisement, government by cronyism, a deeply partisan Supreme Court, and Democrats behaving like Republicans continue to be problems, even as Nader has ceased to be an issue.)

I didn't vote Nader in '04 -- I went lesser-evil that time and backed Kerry, because Bush was just so bad. But I think the Green Party made a huge tactical error in retreating from Nader and cowering under criticism from the Democrats and the media. Honestly, what's the worst possible thing that could have happened if Nader had run as a Green in '04 -- John Kerry might have lost?

Meanwhile, the Green Party proved it's not willing to fight, and will back down any time people say mean things about it. If I wanted a nominally-liberal party that backpedaled under criticism, I'd just vote Democratic.

(I'll say one thing for the Green Party, though -- at least they didn't nominate Roseanne Barr.)

Still, I don't see anyone else who's better. I loved the idea of Americans Elect, but I think we all knew how it would end going in -- get a bunch of people on the Internet trying to choose a candidate, you wind up with a bunch of Ron Paul write-ins.

I've said before that I'm sorely tempted just to write Carter's name in. He's as likely to win as any third-party candidate (and only slightly less likely to win Arizona's electoral votes than Obama). And then I could tell people I voted for Carter, even though I'm only thirty years old.

Worth it to throw my vote away for a joke? Hell, maybe; way I see it, I'm throwing my vote away no matter what. (So why vote at all? Well, there's plenty on the ballot where my vote might make a difference: taxes, overrides, bonds, County Sheriff...) I guess a tick mark under "Green" might have ever-so-slightly a higher influence than a tick mark under "Other" in the final tally, but not very much. The Green Party certainly won't reach the threshold for federal matching funds; it didn't when Nader was running and it's only gotten less popular since.

Register to Vote

Something I have addressed before: Zappa was cynical as fuck about our political system and our two major parties, but he was still a huge advocate of voting.

If you're not registered to vote, register to vote. The deadline is October 6 in the earliest states; check your local listings.

Even if you can't find a Presidential candidate you want to vote for in either major party -- believe me, I can relate --, even if you can't find one in a third party -- hell, I can relate to that too --, there's other shit to vote for. Maybe there's someone you'd like for a representative, either federal or state. Maybe there's a ballot measure deciding funding for your local teachers, firefighters, and police. Maybe you have a disgusting, racist monster of a sheriff who is pissing your county's money away pursuing frivolous lawsuits of his own and paying off not-so-frivolous lawsuits against him, and you should vote for whoever's running against that odious piece of slime. You know, hypothetically speaking. Paul Penzone 2012.


Well, I did it. I filed the paperwork and I'm not going to be a Democrat anymore.

I've swung back and forth from Democrat to Green to Democrat, but I've always considered myself an independent and any time anyone's ever asked me what my political affiliation that's what I've always said. Sometimes I've qualified it -- "liberal independent", something like that.

I never really wanted to be a Democrat; I only ever registered as one to vote in primaries. (Arizona passed a ballot measure in 1998 allowing independents and people registered to third parties with no primary to choose a major-party primary to vote in, but due to a technicality it was interpreted to mean "any primary except a Presidential primary". Which is stupid, because obviously everybody who voted in favor of the initiative intended for it to apply to Presidential primaries because it's not as if independents and third parties were really champing at the bit to vote in the primary for sheriff or Congressman, but that's what we wound up with.)

It's a technicality and I don't suppose it really matters. In four years maybe I'll switch back to (D) to vote in another primary. Or maybe I'll go (R) for a change and try to get the least-crazy Republican candidate nominated -- I may not be wild about guys like Huntsman or Johnson, but I think everybody would be a lot better off if the Republican Party went back to being helmed by candidates who weren't completely fucking nuts.

But, truth is, I was never really comfortable calling myself a Democrat, because I really cannot stand the Democratic Party. The Republicans are odious but they're doing what they're supposed to do; it's the Democrats who talk a good game about reining in special interests and respecting civil liberties and then turn around and piss all over those promises.

I knew Obama was going to disappoint me in some cases, but I never expected him to disappoint me so much. I thought worst-case scenario was that he'd be another Clinton. Instead, he's like Clinton without the political acumen.

His signature achievement has been the passage of a healthcare bill designed by the Heritage Foundation -- without a single Republican vote. I'll grant it's better than what we had, but that's a pretty piss-poor campaign slogan.

He backed off his support for due process before he was even elected President; in '08 he said he'd filibuster any attempt to grant immunity to the telecoms who aided the Bush Administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, then he turned around and voted for telecom immunity -- and when the liberal base that had gotten him nominated complained, he affected that condescending air of his and said we had misunderstood and he had never said he would oppose telecom immunity.

He's certainly proven, since becoming President, that he's not so concerned with due process after all. Indeed, as the EFF's Trevor Timm recently observed, the Democratic Party Platform of 2008 explicitly condemned warrantless surveillance, and the 2012 platform dropped that language entirely. I guess worrying about due process makes it harder to order drone strikes against American citizens and soak cancer survivors in urine while searching for nefarious objects like 4-ounce bottles of liquid.

So I've been wrestling with myself for months about whether I'd grit my teeth and vote for Obama a second time. (Third, counting the '08 primary -- though I'd have probably voted Edwards if he'd still be in the race. Now there's a politician who's become a massive disappointment for reasons that have nothing to do with policy.) And I think the last straw was the Justice Department's recent announcement that it wouldn't be filing charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Not only did they announce they wouldn't charge him, they announced it before the November election. Polls are showing a tight race between Arpaio and challenger Paul Penzone (with independent Mike Stauffer polling around 5%) -- it is entirely possible that the Obama Justice Department just got Sheriff Joe reelected.

Maybe if I were in a swing state I'd grit my teeth and vote Obama anyway -- I have to admit he's better than Romney and, under the circumstances, I hope he wins.

But my state's votes are going to Romney, period -- even the pundit class has pretty much given up the "maybe Arizona will be a swing state!" nonsense they pulled the last three elections.

Absolutely any vote I make is going to be a protest vote. And under the circumstances, I'd rather my protest vote go to someone who I actually like.

If only I could figure out who that is.