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    • Monday Reads January 24, 2022
      Happy Monday Sky Dancers! The Supreme Court continues to be the nightmare that right-wing Republicans intended it to be. Nearly all civil rights advances made in the last half of the century in this country are under attack.  The latest is affirmative action in higher education. Frankly, I think that white nationalists should be careful […]
      dakinikat
    • Sunday Reads: Team Player January 23, 2022
      Cartoons via Cagle website: Even though Meatloaf was an anti-vaccine bro… I can’t wait to vote for Stacey… And as usual, this is an open thread.
      Minkoff Minx
    • Caturday Reads (kat edition) January 22, 2022
      Happy Saturday Sky Dancers! BB is still having issues with her sciatica so I’ll be sitting in the catbird seat today again! An interesting article showed up today in The Washington Post suggesting that one day in 1973 changed our country.  I was a junior in high school and remember the day and events.  However, […]
      dakinikat
    • Freezing Friday Reads January 21, 2022
      Good Day Sky Dancers! Wow was yesterday one of those news days!  I settled in under my goose-down comforter while the temperatures dropped precipitously yesterday afternoon to read some things and watch a little Nicole. The breaking news was fast and furious.  We’re beginning to see the fruits of investigations into the Trump Family Crime […]
      dakinikat
    • Thursday Open Thread January 20, 2022
      Good Morning!! This will be another brief post, because I’m still really struggling with sciatic nerve pain. Here are the stories I’ve been looking at this morning. After last night’s vote in the Senate ended voting rights legislation for now. Louisiana’s Foghorn Leghorn was thrilled. The first one there to shake Kyrsten Sinema's hand is […]
      bostonboomer
    • Wednesday Reads: Terrible January 19, 2022
      Cartoons via Cagle website: My uncle sent me this picture, it is on the road to Yuma from Vegas…check out the name of the convenience store: Yes, it is called Terrible’s… Updates on Tonga: This is disturbing, coming from a multi-generational family… However, it is way better than nothing: https://special.usps.com/testkits Click that link to order […] […]
      Minkoff Minx
    • Tuesday Reads January 18, 2022
      Good Morning!! Good morning Sky Dancers! I’m sorry to report that I’m having another pain flare-up and so this post will be brief. I think I’m doing better with breathing and relaxing, and that does help the pain somewhat. I’m just hoping this won’t last too long. In the meantime, here’s what I’m seeing in […]
      bostonboomer
    • Martin Luther King Day Reads: Whither Voting Rights January 17, 2022
      Today, we celebrate the life and works of Doctor Martin Luther King!  Good Day! I was fortunate to live during a time when great change was possible that came from the grassroots up.  It did not come from a specific church, the military-industrial complex, or the whims of billionaires whose hobbies were to be funded […]
      dakinikat
    • Sunday Reads: You forgot piss… January 16, 2022
      I think one covididiot cure is missing… Hello, I’m writing this post at 2pm on Saturday, because they are expecting power outages from the storm. So it is just cartoons.. This is an open thread.
      Minkoff Minx
    • Lazy Caturday Reads January 15, 2022
      Good Afternoon!! The temperature here in the Boston area was 1 degree this morning. We had wind chill temperatures around -20 overnight and today will see -11 wind chills. Winter weather this year has been weird everywhere. For the past couple of weeks here, we have been alternating between freezing cold and unseasonably warm days. […]
      bostonboomer

How many times do we have to have this conversation?

Yesterday my room mate and I met our new neighbor across the hall. She is an extremely kind woman whose cat had just died, and we baked her cookies to extend our condolences. She invited us in for hot chocolate and gave us some of her cats old toys, and we had a very pleasant visit. She was a solid white lady, probably in her seventies and recently widowed. We had a smoke together and she told me about her family back in Chicago. My grandma just died recently and hanging around with her lifted my spirits a great deal.

She also had a book by Bill O’Reilly on her coffee table. Fox news was blaring in plain site on her TV, there was a magnet on her refrigerator that said “God Loves You,” and she had a book about the rapture in her shelf. Yup, white older female, Christian and well within the Tea Party Demographic. I tried for a few seconds to give a shit, and found that I couldn’t.

See, I get people like Beverly-that is her name. I grew up around her. Salt of the Earth folk. Well in my case, salt of the earth stoners, alcoholics and nutcases but I am still proud god dammit. My father’s family came from a small train station town called Urichsville, Ohio. My grandpa beat pipes with hammers and went fishin’ out on Lake Tappan and my dad learned how to play the guitar on a rock overhang next to the lake. He had three brothers and to this day my uncles are still guitar strummin’ hillbilly white trash and don’t you forget it.  They even have a band to prove it. It’s  called “Bad Idea,” because when they formed it my dad said, “This is a bad idea.” They sing a variety of songs but this is their favorite tune to jam to:

 

My dad left Urichsville to be an accountant and went to Kent State. He wasn’t handsome or charming but at least he was good with numbers. He traded all that for a yuppy house in the suburbs, plastic surgery and a second wife with a boob job and his conservatism is based on economic rather than social policy, but it comes from a humble place.

My mom has had a hard life and she relies on her faith and friends for support, most of which I have known my whole life. They are good if not misguided people and I do not begrudge them their political and religious differences from me, because in their eyes I am accepted as well.

These people work hard and they are bombarded daily with media that is patriarchal, monotheistic and right wing. The MSM has probably been selling the “this country is center-right” lie since the age of movement conservatism and they do this while selling the issues from a left vs. right perspective that is framed from the “center right.”

To be frank, most people in this country are neither liberal nor conservative, and the number of registered independents proves my point. Every time I get into a discussion of politics with someone, they tell me, “I just want to support whatever works.” That is what we all want, regardless of ideology. Politics should be about making people’s lives better, but most of the time it is turned into a game and it’s purpose is to fill the pockets of the elites. The silliest of Americans understand that.

The Tea Party has it’s origins in populism and since then it has been astroturfed by crazy right wingers. They are running candidates that make me want to hide under my bed and cry. But Americans just want solutions to problems, and the Teabaggers may be telling some of them what they want to hear. They could care less about the kooky religahoon xion flag waving social conservatism even if it’s weird even for them. Loony conservatives in the Republican Party have been saying for years that they want to control women’s uterus’, teach creationism in public schools and put queers on death row but it has never happened (mostly). We have checks and balances in our political system that prevents extremism from being legislated.

Christine O’Donnell makes me whimper, but I want a witchhunt on her platform, not her panini. If I child shows up at my doorstep dressed as Sharon Angle on Halloween I am going to run away screaming but calling a woman a b*tch is unacceptable unless it is meant as a term of endearment. And Sarah Palin makes my left eye twitch sometimes when she says some of the things she says, but putting her on the cover of mother jones as a scantily clad she-monster is taking it a step or two too far. Come on, guys.

That being said, I will never vote for a Tea Party member or a Republican. I am a liberal and I vote for candidates who have earned my vote. The founding fathers did not write the constitution and form the first Democratic Republic in history so I could waste my vote and my free speech on Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio. Are you kidding me with this? And I did not file my tax returns last year so I could vote for Kendrick Meeks, who put a government patent on my uterus when he voted for “HCR” and Stupakistan. Hell no.

Alex Sink seems vote worthy and there are some amendments I have my eye on, but for now I say “none of the above.” America is at a crossroads. We have to decide, in times like this, whether we stick by our principles and only vote for candidates who have earned our vote or we reward those who do not have our best interests at heart and have demonstrated it repeatedly with our tax dollars and our trust.

I’ve made my decision. I might just be plain white trash but liberal is my game. What’s yours?

Happy Birthday Madame Secretary

OHM nom nom nom!

Hillary’s service as Secretary of State earns her a happy birthday wish, especially since she’s going to be busting her hump oversees for the next two weeks.

Hillary has doubtless inspired all of us over the years in some way. I have liked her since I was a child, albeit sometimes in secret. Defending her to people my age is sometimes a chore (“She tried to ban Grand Theft Auto”… “Um, NO, she tried to ban the PORN in Grand Theft Auto. There is a DIFFERENCE!”) and I have a reputation to protect, but I am willing to go to bat for her. That is the level of my admiration.

For someone who has never had much of an example of a strong woman to look up to, having Hillary as First Lady, then a Senator and then Secretary of State– not to mention her tenacity in 2008 when she was running for President–has been very educational and important.

In the past two years especially, we have had a real example of class and service in our Secretary of State. Not only is she a great gal, she’s a great LOOKING gal. I hope my trashy chain smoking a$$ looks half as good at sixty three.

Happy Birthday Madame Secretary,  and many more!

Note: This is the thread where the shrieking band of Hillary holdouts shares experiences with and regarding the Secretary of State.


Roundtable 2: The Political Battlefield

with Cyn, Fionnnchú, John W. Smart, littleisis, and tamerlane

I. The Political Landscape

1: Is the traditional concept of a left – right political “spectrum” still valid?


Cyn:
It appears to be so in concept.  Liberals and conservatives could not be farther apart in ideology.  However, the actual parties seem to beholden to the same corporate interests, making it harder and harder to distinguish between them.

Fionnchú:
Desmond Fennell, an Irish malcontent scholar, opined that we’re still stuck quibbling over the seating arrangements of the French Assembly of 1791. I agree.

John W. Smart:
Currently, the Left/Right paradigm is useful to gin up voters and not much else. I continue to use Left/Right because there is no other, better, well known shorthand.   It still works to a degree with social issues, where the divide remains clear.  But the fact is in the U.S. the spectrum is  from Right to Far Right . The Left, such as it is, does not really matter, except when it attends rallies in the service of the not quite so far Right, which makes them feel as if they matter. Real Leftists, like Chomsky, are marginalia in this country and have been for quite some time.

littleisis:
It’s becoming less and less valid as time goes on. Independents form a majority of the electorate these days, especially since people are catching on to the fact that there isn’t much difference between the two parties.

tamerlane:
It’s more like a political solar system.  The extreme leftists — Greens, etc., are Mercury — too intense.  The Progs are Venus — good idea, but got too hot and failed.  True liberals are Earth — just right. Republicans range from moderates (Mars — cold & inhospitable, just barely able to support life), to right wing (the gas giants.)  Christian conservatives are Pluto — small and dim.  The Tea Party is a big meteor on an erratic orbit, that may or may not crash into Earth and cause great damage.  Libertarians are far out, lost somewhere beyond the Oort Cloud.


2: Can viable third parties exist under our system?

CYN: If they ever could, now would seem to be the time.  However, without term limits, campaign finance laws, and prohibiting corporate interests from determining the outcome of elections, they don t have a snowballs chance in hell.

F:
No, as they lack funds. The bipartisan system is monolithic.

JWS
:  No. Not at this moment. It is entirely possible that a third force will emerge soon that resists being subsumed by one party or the other.  The GOP is rising again. Should they fail again in the eyes of the public SOMETHING will give. I do not know that it will be a “party” though. The strains of America just past its peak will produce something like a third party. But will it attempt to gain power in a traditional way? The last 3 elections give it little reason to try.

LI:
I don’t think so. Third parties are usually co-opted by one of the two major parties, and it’s been the same way in the past. We’re seeing that right now with the GOP and the Tea Partiers, and earlier we saw it with PUMA.  Joseph Cannon used to talk at length about this, but he’s gone now. *sad face*

TAM:
No.  In attempting to avoid political parties entirely, our Founding Fathers ensured that we’re stuck with but two — overbearing — ones.  Parties come and go, but there can only be two at a time for any extended period.


3: Giving a percentage, how different are the GOP and Dems?

CYN: Actually, they are rather close.  I would say within 15 to 20%.

F:
30%

JWS:
They are 30% different now. This difference will rise soon, but not by much and not for long. The GOP is going right, and after a brief interlude for show, the Democrats will go Right with it.

LI:
Two percent, maybe.

TAM:
platforms, 70%; practice, 40%


4: obama has been called a socialist by some.  How would you label him?

CYN: He is certainly NOT a socialist.  I would label him too inexperienced and afraid to commit to any political party, which is why he is so afraid to stand up for what he believes in, if anything.  He tries to please all of the people all of the time, which is impossible.  He is a party of one.

F:
Capitalist tool. Any state control Obama and his cronies want differs little in substance if more in rhetoric from their GOP enemies: both parties are indentured and intermarried with those who run Wall Street and every financial, media, and capitalist enterprise where true power lies. Obama’s a very willing errand boy for the masters of us all.

JWS:
A statist if he cared deeply about policy. But he doesn’t, so he is merely a narcissist. Though, when all is said and done he may be seen as a Chicago Machinist. His Admin and Chicago Alderman have much in common.

LI:
An opportunist. I tend to agree with JS that he was sent by grocery clerks.

TAM
: Common Street Thug.


II. The Parties

5: How long will the Tea Party last?
CYN: I live in a very economically depressed upstate area with a majority of Republican voters.  I think so long as the Tea Party keeps playing the  I am just like you and fed up with big gov t  theme, they may last until the next time the Republicans gain power and then stick it to them once again.

F:
Before the 2012 election, it will fade.

JWS:
The thing called the “tea party” won’t last. The impulse that animates much of it will go on and on. The only reason the current incarnation of this strain of Americanism seem so odd to so many is that it has come so quickly on the heels of Obama’s victory. The Tea Party themes have deep roots in this country.

LI:
I think it will eventually be absorbed into the GOP but for now it’s a formidable force and no one should make fun of it. As Bill Clinton says, they’re saying something everyone is thinking, which is that a majority of Americans aren’t doing so well right now.

TAM:
Two election cycles, tops.


6: Can the Tea Party survive outside the GOP?

CYN: Gawd, I hope not.

F:
No, as it has been cozily co-opted.

JWS:
Yes. But so far there is no reason for it to try. What is less likely to survive in the short term is the current GOP establishment. The Tea Party will survive by invading the GOP. The economic ideas of the Tea Party have already taken over the GOP. They have won, regardless of which candidates win.

LI:
Nope. See above about third parties getting co-opted. It’s possible that it was Astroturfed from the beginning, but I tend to think it wasn’t. The MSM treated it like a joke, despite its size, when it first appeared. It was only when it got backing from some big sugar daddies from the GOP that we started hearing more about the candidates they were running, and a lot of them were socially conservative despite the Tea Party’s populist roots.

TAM:
Question is, can the GOP survive with the TP inside?


7: Who will be the biggest winners & biggest losers in the midterms?

CYN: I would guess the Republicans will be the biggest winners in that they will win more seats but not necessarily do anything constructive with them.  I cannot see the Democrats gaining in any area.

F:
Losers? Dem mainstream if enough districts survive the gerrymandering we’re stuck in. Tea Partiers who thought they could resist the GOP mainstream and get funding to win. Winners? Dem mainstream again if enough districts favor the gerrymandering we’re trapped in. Dems are turning the tide in many regions by scare tactics: negative campaign blitzes.

JWS:
Biggest Winners: Mark Rubio (instant star, think Obama in 2004.), GOP House members itching to issue subpoenas,  gleefully frothing Fox News anchors, Pat Toomey, Republican Governors nationwide.
Biggest Losers in order: The 2008 Democratic coalition, Pelosi (no matter who takes the House), Obama (regardless of final numbers ) Blanche Lincoln. Charlie Crist. Anyone left who seriously thought Obama would be a transformative President.

LI:
I think Obama administration will be the biggest loser, and any Dem who voted lock and step with him. The biggest winners will probably be the Tea Party people, but I have no idea.

TAM:
Winners: the power lords; Losers: the common people.


8: Major Party most likely to dissolve or splinter in the next decade:

CYN: Democrats.  They have no message and even  if they did somehow find their voices, they wouldn t be able to get their message across.

F:
GOP, not the Dems. There’s nowhere else for liberals to go. Those on the right bicker more on principle.

JWS:
Democrats.  The divide was papered over once. It won’t be again. Obama simply cannot hold together the traditional Democratic coalition.  Clinton on the ticket in ’12 helps.  But the tension between the liberals on either coast and the old line Dems in the mid west is too acute.  The fissures are real and no body other than the Clintons have the ability to bridge the divide.  There are no animating ideas in the liberal or moderate wings of the Democratic Party. Nor do any seem to be emerging.
The GOP is in tune with the Tea Party on most issues. They will be fine under the same roof. This is the GOP getting its groove back — an ejection of the ghosts of George W Bush and a resurrection of Reagan.

LI:
I admit to having no idea. Both of them are unpopular with a majority of Americans.

TAM:
GOP. They were on the verge of breaking apart before obama gave them a reprieve.  The Dems fight in public, the Gops do it behind closed doors. The TP will not be willing to take a back seat.


III. Wild Cards

9: Odds that Sarah Palin will run as a third-party candidate in ’12?
CYN: It s hard to say.  She is very savvy when it comes to hitting the right notes with middle class working people who are disgusted with America.  However, If she runs, I think it will be on the GOP ticket and that is what will motivate some Democratic voters to go to the polls.

F:
Weak. 15%

JWS:
2,000-1 against. 50-50 that she’ll run as a Republican.

LI:
Slim to none. She’ll run for the GOP nomination if at all.

TAM:
Very low, unless the TP and trad GOP really squabble, in which case, a lock.  She’s aiming for ’16.


10: Odds that obama will seek reelection:
CYN: His ego won’ t let him do otherwise.  And, his Mirror, Mirror on the Wall (aka Axelrod) will tell him he can’t lose because he is still ”the one”.

F:
Almost certain. 90%

JWS:
60-40 in favor.

LI:
Looking pretty slim at the moment. His ego can’t handle a big loss.

TAM:
t.b.d. BO’s certainly not inclined — all this rejection is a bummer for a narcissist, all this hard work a bummer for a stoner.  But can his handlers force him?


11: What would it take for Hillary to run?

CYN: Obama not running and the Democrats begging her on bended knees, acknowledging how they shafted her in 08.  Even then, she may not.  I have the utmost respect for Senator Clinton and believe she is the only one who can get us out of the mess that two terms of Bush and one of obama handed us.  That said, I really don t believe she will run.

F:
The eulogy for Obama. The funeral Mass for Biden.

JWS:
Obama quitting the race.

LI:
What most people think it would take. Obama would have to step aside and not seek reelection. She has believed in working within the system since she was in college and would never primary a sitting President.

TAM: obama not running.


12:  Impact of a Chrissie O’Donnell victory:

CYN: She is just another wacko politician and we’ve survived plenty of them already.  If she wins, she will be a one term wonder with little impact.

F:
More Comedy Central fodder. She would not survive a term and would be recalled; but I doubt if she’ll win in bank-coddled Delaware.

JWS:
Nada. Not gonna happen unless Coon is caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. But, if by some miracle she did win it would add  have no impact, except to humiliate Delaware and the Bidens .

LI:
We would have our first puritan congresswoman, but other than that, I don t think it would matter much. She wouldn’t be able to legislate her extremism, luckily we have political and constitutional barriers to prevent that kind of thing.

TAM:
1) The GOP Whip would box her in pretty quick and limit embarrassments; 2) other mentally ill persons would be inspired to run for office, too.


IV. Druthers

13: The one (legal) change to our political system you’d make:
CYN: No more electoral college, as it is ripe with corruption.  The popular vote would determine the winner.  And, how about paper ballots?

F:
“None of the above” on ballots.

JWS:
Mandatory public financing of all elections.

LI:
Campaign finance reform.

TAM:
Proportional allotment of senate seats by population.


14: Unconstitutional voting requirement you wish you could impose:

CYN:  No caucusing.  Primary voting only.

F:
Mandated voting for all on penalty of whatever we smug voters decide. Sterilization might be nice, or at least a non-discriminatory literacy poll test. (I assume this is read as satire, you muckrakers.)

JWS:
I’d ban all American Idol fans from voting.

LI:
None, I have too much respect for the constitution, but I sometimes think it should be illegal for certain people to reproduce.

TAM
:  Pass a freshman college course in Logic.


15: Foreign political party you wish were in the U
S:
CYN: Democratic Socialist, maybe?

F:
Are there any Icelandic ones advocating secular curricula and rampant paganism? One with symbols on the ballot for the illiterate as in the Third World countries. I’d want a cool logo with a fab cartoon owl.

JWS:
Not sure. I’d like to see a real socialist party in the mix here, even if I might not support them. Or a labor party worthy of the name. Also a Green Party that had some real power.

LI:
Labor.

TAM:
Liberal Democrats, UK. (But Sinn Fein if things get worser faster.)


16: If you could form your own Party, what would you call it, and who would you run for President?

CYN: Women Rock and I would run Hillary, who recognizes that there is more to governing than wishing it were so.

F:
The Loyal Opposition. Ralph Nader & Pat Buchanan. (I took a political quiz about 15 years ago: it pegged me as a cross between Ralph Nader & Pat Buchanan.)

JWS:
The American Party. Elizabeth Warren.

LI:
I like Lynne from Lakeland’s idea for a masturbation party, and I would have to run Tila Tequila as the standard bearer.

TAM:
The “People, Stop the Insanity!” Party; Susan Powter.

To Democrats: This is what you get for Stupakestan

Female voters, once a reliable force for Democrats, are roughly split this fall between the Democrats and Republicans running for Congress and governor. Recent Gallup polling, assuming a traditional turnout for a midterm election, finds that Republicans are favored by female likely voters, 49% to 46%.

*Points at Democrats* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oh, and Donna, this is for you: 


This is Why I Like Hillary Clinton

Not because she’s a girl. Not because I’m a girl. But because of things like this.

And this:

 

President O. Decides With President W. 99% of the Time

From The Hill (h/t to memeorandum) — “Boehner a rubber stamp for Pelosi?“:

It’s an attack ad that writes itself: The House Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner (Ohio), votes with liberal Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) a majority of the time.

The statistic seems impossible to believe, given the ferocity with which Boehner denounces Pelosi, the progressive champion of San Francisco elitism and favorite GOP villain.

But it’s true, according to an analysis by Democrats. Boehner has voted with the Democratic leadership 52 percent of the time in 2010. So has Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the Republican conference and former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), head of the GOP’s House campaign committee, are even cozier with Pelosi. They’ve voted with her 57 percent of the time.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), the conservative firebrand who has compared the Democratic agenda to socialism? She’s with Pelosi on 58 percent of House votes.

The data come from a Democratic leadership review of the 565 roll call votes in the House from January through the end of September, when Congress left Washington for the campaign trail. Since the Speaker herself rarely votes, the comparison is made using the recommended vote of the party leadership.

The percentages do not reveal a hidden bipartisanship in the rancorous 111th Congress, but they do throw into sharp relief the statistic that campaign ad makers use more than any other to cast opponents as ideological rubberstamps.

Republican campaigns nationwide are running dozens of ads that cite the percentage of time an incumbent Democrat votes with Pelosi.

In Alabama’s 2nd district, the National Republican Congressional Committee attacks Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright in radio and television ads for voting “with Pelosi 70 percent of the time” since 2009. In Idaho’s 1st district, Republican Raul Labrador’s ad criticizes Rep. Walt Minnick (D) for voting “with Obama/Pelosi over 70 percent.” Bright and Minnick of two of the most conservative Democrats in the House who opposed their party’s major agenda items.

The percentage appears high, but when Bright and Minnick are compared with the conservative Bachmann, the difference is only a few dozen votes. And compared with more centrist Republicans like Reps. Tim Murphy (Pa. – 66 percent with Pelosi) and Charlie Dent (Pa. – 65 percent), the disparity is even smaller.

The explanation for the elevated voting percentages is simple: While hotly-disputed legislation on healthcare, climate change and government spending command the public’s attention, the vast majority of congressional votes occur on more mundane and non-controversial items, like the naming of post offices or designating weeks or months to cancer awareness and other causes.

Social security is veering perilously close to the chopping block, unemployment is at over 10%, insurers are hiking up fees for sick kids’ , the big banks are trying to get away with what the Cassandra of Derivatives calls, “the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets,” … just to name a few of the concerns from a day in the life of an ordinary American… and what is the Democratic leadership up to?

Answer: Conducting serious study on how much Congress votes alike on procedural and mundane votes and how few votes there are where they actually vote on anything big that they disagree on.

Yeah, I sure remember all the diligence and painstaking efforts taken to achieve clarity about the facts when Obamacrats ran around like banshees screaming John McCain votes with George Bush 95% of the time, ergo any Hillary supporter who wouldn’t immediately jump up for joy to vote for Obama in June of 2008 must be a Republican.

Screw all of you DINOcrats and the asshat unity pony you rode in on in 2008.

Since you’re making it abundantly clear that it comes down to those big votes, all you are doing is reminding voters that when those big votes come down the pike you vote in a bipartisan matter with the GOP when you think the American people aren’t looking and will miss it, and when you actually bother to vote differently than the GOP it’s often to vote for unhelpful crap like a junk insurance mandate.

Hello? If it comes down to GOP and GOP clone, the rightwing is going to vote for the real thing and everybody else has less and less reason to vote.

It is no wonder that “a majority of voters say they want a viable third party in politics” (also from The Hill):

A majority of likely voters think a viable third party would be good for American politics, according to a new poll of likely voters in 10 key open House districts. Those voters are split, however, on whether the Tea Party should be that alternative.

Fifty-four percent of respondents in The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans.

That number rose to 67 percent for self-identified independents. But even a plurality in the established parties — 49 percent of Democrats and 46 percent of Republicans — said they’d like another choice.

“That’s probably the strongest number I’ve seen in a poll of people in America saying that they’re interested in a third party,” said pollster Mark Penn.

“There’s a record number of Independents and a record number of people looking for a possible third party,” he said. “And that’s a big finding. There’s an opportunity here.”

The Hill’s poll was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, which surveyed 4,047 likely voters in 10 open districts. The overall sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percent.

“I think there’s a greater potential for a third party than perhaps [at] any time in our history,” said Mark McKinnon, a Republican strategist and former adviser to George W. Bush. “There is a very broad level of dissatisfaction throughout the electorate — right, left and middle.

“I think what’s happened goes beyond general dissatisfaction with the economy,” he added. “They want a new way — they want to feel empowered again.”

Well we can look past Mark Penn’s spin and the spin of Bushie McKinnon and just look at the raw polling data and trends for ourselves. Hell, as nice as it is to have the data, we don’t even need that.

We knew the frustration that was setting in for the electorate back when these asshats were yelling at us that John McCain votes with Bush 95% of the time and only a racist Republican or vagina voter wouldn’t be convinced immediately at that to vote for Barack Obama.

Look at how the ad to the right plays now. You can just put Obama’s face over McCain’s.

Here is the 1% of the time President O. decides differently than President W. (via the NYT, “Education of a President“):

As he welcomed me, I told him I liked what he had done with the place. Gone was George W. Bush’s yellow sunburst carpet (it says “optimistic person,” Bush would tell practically anyone who visited), and in its place was a much-derided earth-tone rug with inspirational quotations. The curved walls now had striped tan wallpaper, and the coffee table had been replaced by a walnut-and-mica table that, Obama noted, would resist stains from water glasses. The bust of Winston Churchill was replaced by one of Martin Luther King Jr. The couches were new. He told me he was happy with the redecorating of the office. “I know Arianna doesn’t like it,” he said lightly. “But I like taupe.”

Speaking of attack ads that write themselves, that last bit in bold would make a good one. Ick.

Bullycide at ??? High

My High School alumni has become famous in recent months. Earlier today, the actor from that new show on NBC I can’t be bothered to watch, The Event, Scott Patterson, posted the address, location and phone number of the guidance office of Mentor High School on his facebook. It was wrong of him to do that. Posting addresses online is low, and Scott Patterson knows little about the town he refers to.

I lived in Mentor from the time I was seven to the time I was seventeen. It is typical of suburbia across the country in it’s conformity, simplicity and repression. It is a beach front town, located on the shore of Lake Erie, and sometimes my friends and I would go to the Headlands and climb the rocks near a lighthouse, brushing cottonwood seeds off of our clothes from the trees in the parking lot, hopping over dead fish and cigarette butts.

At times Mentor can be not entirely unpleasant. I still have fond memories of some of my teachers. Mr. Wolski, my history teacher from Sophmore year, was a leftie clown (not unlike myiq) and he and I had a running commentary with each other. When I was a junior and passed him in the halls, I would mutter “Mr. Wolski is a loser,” and pretend not to have noticed him when he turned around. Mr. Raiff,  from AP Government, told me I was an anarchist. The Hopkins Airport once had an air show and a few people were photographed protesting the War in Iraq, and he wrote my name above one of the girls carrying the signs. Because of  my old English teacher, Mrs. Stucky I can write a three page research paper in ten minutes or so in perfect MLA format.  I feel privileged to have been taught by them and others. If it hadn’t been for them I wouldn’t be writing this post right now and I would never know my right to search for my own opinion and stand by my convictions, to always learn and never stop, because you can never really know everything.

But those fond memories, I’m sorry to say, pale in comparison to others. Lately, the media seems particularly interested in Mentor’s secret little world of shit. Out of all the schools we’ve heard about where teens have taken there own lives due to “bullycide,” Mentor has been singled out. In Mentor, four suicides have occurred in the past couple of years, and almost all of them were due to bullying. Here’s an article about it from the AP, it gets most of the facts right, and I recommend reading the whole thing:

Eric Mohat was flamboyant and loud and preferred to wear pink most of the time. When he didn’t get the lead soprano part in the choir his freshman year, he was indignant, his mother says.

He wore a stuffed animal strapped to his arm, a lemur named Georges that was given its own seat in class.

“It was a gag,” says Mohat’s father, Bill. “And all the girls would come up to pet his monkey. And in his Spanish class they would write stories about Georges.”

Mohat’s family and friends say he wasn’t gay, but people thought he was.

“They called him fag, homo, queer,” says his mother, Jan. “He told us that.”

Bullies once knocked a pile of books out of his hands on the stairs, saying, “‘Pick up your books, faggot,'” says Dan Hughes, a friend of Eric’s.

Kids would flick him in the head or call him names, says 20-year-old Drew Juratovac, a former student. One time, a boy called Mohat a “homo,” and Juratovac told him to leave Mohat alone.

“I got up and said, ‘Listen, you better leave this kid alone. Just walk away,'” he says. “And I just hit him in the face. And I got suspended for it.”

Eric Mohat shot himself on March 29, 2007, two weeks before a choir trip to Hawaii.

His parents asked the coroner to call it “bullicide.” At Eric’s funeral and after his death, other kids told the Mohats that they had seen the teen relentlessly bullied in math class. The Mohats demanded that police investigate, but no criminal activity was found.

I can’t remember when it was that I first met Eric. But I can say that he started getting bullied even before he went to Mentor High. I recall us first becoming friends because we both were in choir together, and he would sometimes help me with my Algebra homework. He was one of the smartest kids I knew, and one of the most musically talented. I stood next to him once when a druggie in English called him a “faggot.”  I told the guy to knock it off, but a few weeks later another person threw an anti gay slur at him in Choir. “Don’t call him that,” I told the douche bag. I remember exactly who it was, but I won’t say his name, in order to protect his privacy, and also because he really regrets the way he acted now.

Anyway, Eric turned to me and grinned–he had a really silly, squinty grin that was super cute, and said, “I don’t mind if people call me gay. Gay means ‘Happy.’ Of course I’m happy!” That was what Eric was always like. He always let it roll off of his shoulders. He was never weak or self pitying, never once complained about how he was being treated–at least not to me. And his parents loved him; his mother was so proud of him. He had a good home life. His father would sometimes help me with my breathing during Solo and Ensamble Contests, and later that year Eric and I had a duet in the school band assembly. We sang part of this corny Christmas Hymn together, but it was a special moment, because we did it together and we both got compliments for it all day.

I didn’t see Eric as much when we transferred over to Mentor High, but we still caught up a lot, and not long before he passed away, I saw him in the Student Center, looking unusually sad and not at all like Eric. I tried to talk to him but he was mostly unresponsive, and I mentioned to my friend Pixie, who nicknamed him “Twiggy” that he seemed unusually sad. Not long afterwards I came to school one morning and everyone was crying. Someone held a sign up to me. It said, “Eric killed himself.”

I cannot describe to you how horrible the next couple of months were in that school. My friend Meredith Rezak, whom I’d known for years, had recently come out to her friends and family as a lesbian. “I can’t stop thinking about him,” she told me. When Meredith shot herself in her room three weeks later, her cell phone was found next her and there was a text that said “RIP Twiggy.” Meredith didn’t take her own life because of bullying, though. She had a lot of problems at home and it was really impossible to be mean to her anyway. For one thing because she was so kind, and for another because she really didn’t take shit from anyone. She told me once that her Dad wouldn’t speak to her for months after he found out she was Gay, and that for Christmas all he got her was a Bible with all the verses condemning homosexuality highlighted. She was a devout Christian and I’m pretty sure she took it to heart, so in my opinion her death was still a “bullyside.”

MHS students are currently swarming Scott Patterson’s facebook page. “Come spend a day in Mentor. Go Cards!” They tell him. “I went there for three years and I never saw any bullying” says another. “Faggot” says another, shooting himself in the foot.

I also went to Mentor High for three years. It is a very big school, with something like a thousand students in each graduating class. Gods only know why every student in a town of 50,000 people is put in one High School, but isn’t that another problem? There was, at times, an atmosphere of violence. Fights would break out and spectators would gather around like it was a show. Once a girl in a Biology class I had with Meredith talked about her witness to a particularly big fight between two girls. “It was awesome. The one girl had blood streaming down her face!”

“How is that awesome?” I asked her.

She turned and gave me a particularly psychotic look. “Because she talked shit and she paid for it,” she replied, as though this was the most obvious justification. And then she added, “You’re talking shit,” and gave me another look that could make small children cry.

I ALWAYS felt safe at Mentor High.

And I did happen to see a lot of bullying. I sat with a girl who had a tampon thrown at her and I was friends with a guy who had a chair thrown on him. There was one kid who was gay and had been sexually abused, from what I heard, and he endured a lot of bullying from people I knew. Another girl who had also been sexually abused (again, this is just what I heard so take it with a grain of salt) was bullied by someone I considered a friend. People would call her “masterbates” and beat her up.

The MHS alumni who now swarm Scott’s Facebook page insist that Mentor High has the safety of it’s students as a number one priority and cite anti-bullying programs I knew nothing about and whose existence I doubt. They claimed to have implemented such programs after Eric died, but you can observe their effectiveness here in the case of my friend’s cousin, Sladjana:

Sladjana Vidovic, whose family had moved to northeast Ohio from Bosnia when she was a little girl, was pretty, vivacious and charming. She loved to dance. She would turn on the stereo and drag her father out of his chair, dance him in circles around the living room.

“Nonstop smile. Nonstop music,” says her father, Dragan, who speaks only a little English.

At school, life was very different. She was ridiculed for her thick accent. Classmates tossed insults like “Slutty Jana” or “Slut-Jana-Vagina.” A boy pushed her down the stairs. A girl smacked her in the face with a water bottle.

Phone callers in the dead of night would tell her to go back to Croatia, that she’d be dead in the morning, that they’d find her after school, says Suzana Vidovic.

“Sladjana did stand up for herself, but toward the end she just kind of stopped,” says her best friend, Jelena Jandric. “Because she couldn’t handle it. She didn’t have enough strength.”

Vidovic’s parents say they begged the school to intervene many times. They say the school promised to take care of her.

She had already withdrawn from Mentor and enrolled in an online school about a week before she killed herself.

When the family tried to retrieve records about their reports of bullying, school officials told them the records were destroyed during a switch to computers. The family sued in August.

Two years after her death, Dragan Vidovic waves his hand over the family living room, where a vase of pink flowers stands next to a photograph of Sladjana.

“Today, no music,” he says sadly. “No smile.”

 

No bullying problem, huh? And yes, it is the administration’s fault. Yes, they do need to take action. Some people with a real pair on them claim that the heartbroken Mohats and Vidovics are only trying to get money out of the school with the lawsuit they have filed against the administration. I would like to ask their parents if they wouldn’t want to tax the f*ck out of a High School after they begged it’s administrators repeatedly to intervene and stop students from calling their daughter “Sladjana- Vagina.”

Which isn’t to say this is about money. The Mohats want something to be done and something to change and this is the best way to do it. Some of the bullies have no real regret.  I remember the day Eric died, another friend of mine was in the computer lab with someone who found his profile picture on myspace and photoshopped a gun next to his head. Hilarious!

If there has been soul-searching among the bullies in Mentor — a pleasant beachfront community that was voted one of the “100 Best Places to Live” by CNN and Money magazine this year — Sladjana’s family saw too little of it at her wake in October 2008.

Suzana Vidovic found her sister’s body hanging over the front lawn. The family watched, she said, as the girls who had tormented Sladjana for months walked up to the casket — and laughed.

“They were laughing at the way she looked,” Suzana says, crying. “Even though she died.”

As I said before, there were many people in Mentor and a lot of them were wonderful. Hell, most of them were wonderful. I can see how some would be angry with Scott Patterson and say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and that he’s never been to Mentor, but this isn’t just about Mentor. We all know this is a nationwide problem. Furthermore, I can see how many people might not have noticed the bullying. It was a crowded school. Security consisted of three women we called “The Triforce.” We would sometimes hum punk rock music when they walked by because they were obviously overwhelmed and instead of stopping girls from smoking in the bathroom stalls they would stop couples from snuggling and shout at people who put their feet on chairs. In retrospect I don’t blame them. The only help they had was a kind old man named Bill who was once knocked over when he was trying to break up a fight. When Mr. Wolski brought it up at a school assembly the whole auditorium laughed. (Like I said, no bullying problem at my alumni!)

But either way, the people who didn’t notice didn’t notice because they probably weren’t different enough from everyone else to be bullied themselves. My friend Pixie gave the Mohats a picture of Eric floating around in pink clouds with a halo around his head at his wake. Mrs. Mohat cried.

You would think that after three years I wouldn’t still think about him and especially Meredith, who was one of the funniest, most decent, most courageous people I had ever known all of the time, but I do. I think of them and what their lives could be like if they were still alive. I picture Meredith in her choir dress, driving in a car with the windows down, smoking a cigarette. And Eric, writing a song in a pink pen. Funny how I haven’t been singing much anymore since they died, but I like to think that they are doing that, somewhere. I could always sing in tune when they were around.

I can’t go back and tell them it didn’t have to be that way. I can’t go back and say, “It gets better.” It does get better. I can’t say that to them but I can say that to any teenager in High School, from Mentor or anywhere else who is thinking about taking their own life. “Don’t do it,” I can say. “You have so much waiting for you. So much love, so much happiness. Don’t give up now because if you do you won’t know how sweet it is when you really get there.”

Adults can pay more attention. They can put a stop to it. And it shouldn’t take two lawsuits for them to figure that out.

Mentor was on the Today Show too. Go here and here and take a look, if you like.