Thursday, October 23, 2008

For Every Five Tanks: an election link post

[Or, as one FiveThirtyEight commenter said a couple of days ago, 'We are all Fake Virginians now.']

I've been collecting shiny things to share with you all - expect another post soon, because this one is a special place for any and all election crap. I want this election over already; we already know who's won, so it's just another couple of weeks of unnecessary ugly.

First, the obvious: do you see the BotherVoting banner in my sidebar? Yeah? You can probably do it already - just google 'early voting [your home state]' and you should find out where and when it's available. Here's all the early voting info for GA. You can go vote right now if you live in Georgia - and next week, from Monday til Friday, the polls are open until 7pm. Whoever you're voting for, early votes benefit your candidate because the more people in your area have voted already, the less resources they'll need to put into it on November 4th.

Is Georgia a safe state for the Republicans? They think so - so much so that they're running their GA campaign out of an office in freaking Tallahassee and local Republican chairmen are accusing the campaign of 'leaving it to chance'. Nate isn't quite so sure. The answer is 'probably'. But that doesn't matter because Saxby Chambliss - the US Senate's gaping asshole - is up for reelection, and your vote against him most assuredly matters. Whoever you're supporting for the presidency - Obama, McCain, a third-party (both the Greens and Libertarians are running native Georgians this year - have they forgotten who the last Georgian president was?) or a write-in candidate - please get rid of Chambliss. His opponent, Jim Martin, even has virtues beyond not being Saxby Chambliss.

Wherever you are in the USA, if you have any trouble at the polls you can contact the Voter Protection Center at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Look at the Incident Tracker at Voter Suppression Wiki to check problem reports in your area, so you know what to look out for. Robert F Kennedy's written an article about voter suppression here.

Now the fun stuff: Obama bought advertising in an Xbox 360 game, Burnout Paradise. A pretty shallow move, but a smart one; it's unlikely that any frat boys are going to abruptly hit pause and run out and early-vote solely on the strength of this one banner in this one game - but the magpies in the news media all go OOH OMGZ SHINY TECH and spend five minutes of our lives expounding on this sentiment. I don't know what an in-game banner ad costs, but I'm betting it's less than five minutes of primetime. (I'm against in-game ads - once you've bought something as expensive as a game console and something to play on it, it's irritating to have people trying to eke more money out of your gaming on top of that - but hey, that's why I don't play Xbox crap). It gets game culture talking too, not that they didn't already love Obama simply for not being Hillary Clinton - here's a collection of fan-made mockups of Obama in-game ads. Portal, oh my! (And the Metal Gear one is totally an unintended and unfortunate Dar Williams injoke. God, I love Metal Gear.)

Onto the Shiny Things: Losers Edition, starting with this: The Front-Runner’s Fall, or, Joshua Green's write-up of a batch of emails, memos and minutes he was given by staffers from the Clinton campaign following that campaign's decease. He's made a good story out of it, and the material itself is online for your perusal. Much of it is unintentionally hilarious in retrospect, not least the March 2007 memo in which Mark Penn wrote, "The right knows Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun," a statement that perhaps McCain should have noted before selecting Ms Hun to be his running mate.

[One quick aside about Ms Hun, while I'm here: all the blithering yak recorded here at the Beeb about her freaking $150000 fashion budget is positioning her in the same frame as Cindy and Michelle rather than John, Joe and Barack. For the love of god, why? She's being interviewed for the same job as Joe, right?]

Also about Clinton; it's months old now, but I only just read Sean Quinn's piece about how he'd flipped during the primaries from admiring and defending Clinton to feeling completely alienated by her - and how she might yet win him back. The apology he hoped for never happened, but personally I don't think it matters - Clinton's presidential ambitions were already over anyway, and I suspect they would've been either way; an apology would've been way too much ammo. Also, Quinn mentions the Jack Thompson pontificating!

Here, if you like that sort of thing, is an incredibly classy and meticulously annotated torrid rant, hosted at

...Does it worry anyone else that every right-wing debacle in the last fifty years involves the same twelve assholes? Need another example? Remember the fuckwads who put out a push-poll claiming McCain had an illegitimate black child back in 2000? The same guys McCain said had a "special place in hell"? Hell, apparently, is the McCain campaign, cause he fucking hired them.

Which I guess isn't that surprising, since McCain has changed positions more times than Jenna Jameson in a double feature. But not on important issues. Just stuff like privatizing Social Security, the Bush tax cuts, coastal drilling, ethanol, gay adoption, affirmative action, the estate tax, torture and negotiating with Cuba, Hamas, and Syria.

Okay okay, here's some genuine class from John Perry Barlow, hosted here, and yes, it too has naughty words in it. (h/t Daisy). The thrust of the piece is echoing something Sean Quinn said (implicitly) in his piece about Clinton - the internet lets you look at this sodding horserace in a close and on-the-spot way, and if you're looking through that lens you wind up liking Obama more and his opponents much, much less:

However, since God is merciful, McCain probably doesn't know what I'm talking about. He's watching the campaign on television where he's presented with an edit of reality that is far less damning to him and his campaign than the one I've been watching on the Internet. John McCain is blessed indeed to be spared the online version of himself.


If he watched the much more elaborate coverage of the campaign on the Internet, even McCain would have to be in awe of the fact that Senator Obama has shown almost superhuman dignity, humor (as opposed to sarcasm), and that quality that Hemingway defined as courage, "grace under pressure" even while being carpet-bombed, first by the Clintons and now the McCain/Palin Golem, with six months of sucker punches, lies, trivialities, the guilt of distant or even non-existent associations (often involving black people behaving ungracefully), and now, finally, the direct incitement of murderous intent in crowds spiked with many people who are insane with racial hatred, well-armed, and trained by their government in the accurate use of long-range weapons.

He would have seen the look of enlightened acceptance on Obama's face tonight when McCain fiercely declared his pride in the people who attended his rallies, including, presumably, the ones who shout "kill him" and "off with his head."

If you've time, be sure to watch the six-minute video Barlow points out - the original dialogue between Obama and Joe The Plumber. 'You will see a presidential candidate stop and take the time to explain more and in more respectful detail about his tax program to a single plumber from Ohio than McCain has ever explained anything - besides misrepresentations of Obama's resume - to the entire American public during the length of this campaign.' I think that it shows the flipside of the yay-internets line Barlow's pushing here; an intelligent, nuanced policy explanation, given entirely off the (rolled-up) cuff there, got edited into a ridiculous bogeyman about socialism. These powers can be used for both good and evil, and we should not take them for granted.

Any and all McCain rants draw from the original and greatest, that one Rolling Stone knifing. Very long and, if there's one thing the last fucking year has proved it's that you can write a thorough character assassination on anyone. Just read those 2007 Penn memos about Obama. But hey.

(It remains strange that McCain hasn't pressed what is, in pure common-sense terms, Obama's one great policy weakness - the ethanol subsidies. Dear gods, are you trying to cook our seas and starve us all to death? Are Iowa's seven EVs worth that much to you? *le sigh* I guess this is what happens when you keep having to cast votes for politicians but, as Ford Prefect said, 'if they didn’t vote for a lizard, the wrong lizard might get in.')

Finally, here's that one photograph Colin Powell was so touched by. Take a look.

Monday, October 13, 2008

when he said 'rely on' he meant 'totally f*ing ignore'

I want this election to be over. It seems like the far-right limbo bar is dropping by the day; how low can they go, I ask? Did they reach their limit yesterday? No, they did not! How much further? They have, what, another three weeks in which to remain in the hole and keep digging.

So let me regale you with a quickly-buried weekend news incident, one which sank almost as fast as the Troopergate report. Its timeline goes something like this:

August 15th: in those Rick Warren religious-test-for-public-office interviews of McCain and Obama, McCain and Obama are both asked 'Who are the three wisest people that you know, that you would rely on heavily in an administration?'

McCain names General David Petraeus, John Lewis and Meg Whitman.

October 11th: John Lewis releases this statement:

As one who was a victim of violence and hate during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign. What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.

During another period, in the not too distant past, there was a governor of the state of Alabama named George Wallace who also became a presidential candidate. George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.

As public figures with the power to influence and persuade, Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are playing with fire, and if they are not careful, that fire will consume us all. They are playing a very dangerous game that disregards the value of the political process and cheapens our entire democracy. We can do better. The American people deserve better.

Here's the McCain response:

Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Governor Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale. The notion that legitimate criticism of Senator Obama’s record and positions could be compared to Governor George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track.

"I call on Senator Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America."

And the Obama campaign's response to the McCain response:

Sen. Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies.

But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee for president of the United States 'pals around with terrorists.' As Barack Obama has said himself, the last thing we need from either party is the kind of angry, divisive rhetoric that tears us apart at a time of crisis when we desperately need to come together. That is the kind of campaign Sen. Obama will continue to run in the weeks ahead.

I first read about this on this 538 thread. Several older commenters there said they believed that the comparison between Palin's rallies and Wallace's rallies was a valid one.

Friday, October 03, 2008

good news for geeks

Jack Thompson has been permanently disbarred from practising law in the state of Florida, and I gather that means he'll have a hard time lawyering anywhere else either. To which the world says: about damn time. Thompson described himself in his most recent news release as "nationally and internationally known by virtue of his effective and successful opposition over the last 20 years to the broadcast, marketing, and sale of adult-rated entertainment to children". He also calls himself a 'faith-based activist' and 'Christian lawyer'. (The National Institute on Media and the Family, however, which normally loves this stuff, have told him to please stop mentioning them because he has a 'negative influence' on their reputation and work).

an aside for non-gamers who read here: this is why Hillary Clinton has such a fuck-awful reputation among gamers. There are many gamers who hold as that their one voting metric Anyone But Hillary. I mention this because I've recently seen this universal antipathy gamers have to Clinton cited as evidence of misogyny in gamer culture - ffs, if you want evidence of misogyny in gaming, there is no shortage of it to be found, but a desperate wish for your special lady to never be president ever is not it. To someone who plays a lot of games and doesn't care too much for politics, a desperate wish for your special lady to never be president is a perfectly logical opinion, and telling them they should believe otherwise because she's such a nice woman will just cause them to file you in the 'stupid' folder.

Thompson's got cosy with a fair few politicians over the years, including Rick Santorum and Joe Lieberman, but it's Clinton who fell for it the hardest. It was Clinton who he sucked in to the ridiculous Hot Coffee drama, somehow making her forget that the average gamer is well above voting age and would regard her as absurd for grandstanding over something so petty, and of incredibly poor judgement for listening to Thompson at all.

We can't know what drove Clinton to listen to Thompson. A bit of background vetting alone would've showed him to be way lacking in the reasonable human being department. There is so much batshit it's hard to know where to start, but these three fantastic paragraphs from (yes!) Wikipedia convey the flavour of the man, at least:

In October 2007, Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno sealed court documents submitted by Thompson in the Florida Bar case that depicted "gay sex acts." Thompson's submission prompted U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan on to order Thompson to show cause why his actions should not be filed as a grievance with the court's Ad Hoc Committee on Attorney Admissions, Peer Review and Attorney Grievance, but the order was dismissed after Thompson promised not to file any more pornography. [...]

In February 2008, The Florida Supreme Court ordered Thompson to show cause as to why it should not reject future court filings from him unless they are signed by another Florida Bar member. The Florida Supreme Court described his filings as "repetitive, frivolous and insult[ing to] the integrity of the court," particularly one in which Thompson, claiming concern about "the court's inability to comprehend his arguments," filed a motion including images of "swastikas, kangaroos in court, a reproduced dollar bill, cartoon squirrels, Paul Simon, Paul Newman, Ray Charles, a handprint with the word 'slap' written under it, Bar Governor Benedict P. Kuehne, a baby, Ed Bradley, Jack Nicholson, Justice Clarence Thomas, Julius Caesar, monkeys, [and] a house of cards." Thompson claimed that the order "wildly infringes" on his constitutional rights and was "a brazen attempt" to repeal the First Amendment right to petition the government to redress grievances. In response, he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, referring to the show-cause order as a criminal act done in retaliation for his seeking relief with the court.

On March 20, 2008, the Florida Supreme Court imposed sanctions on Thompson, requiring that any of his future filings in the court be signed by a member of The Florida Bar other than himself. The court noted that Thompson had responded to the show cause order with multiple "rambling, argumentative, and contemptuous" responses that characterized the show cause order as "bizarre" and "idiotic."

But his best moments have been his infamous altercations with Gabe. First, the famous phone call, then the $10000 pwning and subsequent allegation of 'criminal harassment' (second post onward), and finally he accused Penny Arcade of 'collaborating to commit racketeering' with several other gaming websites.

[edit: I totally missed this before, but Thompson's disbarment occurred on Gabe's birthday. Aaaaw.]