partly: (Boyd)
"Stop saying, 'This is the most important election in the history of our nation.' It’s not. The most important election in the history of our nation was when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Before that, we thought it was okay to own people." -- Bryan Roberts
partly: (IMNSHO)
There are a lot of reasons that I don't discuss politics online but it's mostly because almost no one ever discusses politics online. You see, the only point of any online political commentary to belittle and deride the person who is making the political commentary.

The tactics for political discussion are simple: Don't focus on the statements being made, the ideas being posited or the theories that are presented. Instead focus on the person making the statement and create the illusion that they are completely dismissible -- that they are so mentally, emotionally, educationally or even physically unsound that anything they say or do is to be ignored, humored or pitied.

It all smacks of the bullying tactics that I have lived with most of my life:
  • "You can't listen to her -- she's just a girl."
  • "She's from {insert place of choice}. What could she know?"
  • "She's just being overly emotional, women are that way after all."
  • "She's just saying that because she's {insert any religious or non-religious belief here}."
  • "You can't trust anyone who would wear that outfit."
  • "Oh, come on! She's obviously too {old/young/uneducated/blonde/busty} to have any good thoughts."
See how easy it is? Don't even adress the issue. By dismissing the person saying it, you automatically place yourself in a superior position. Hell, if you do it right, you can even make yourself seem like you only have that person's best interest at heart. "You can't take anything he says seriously. Look at him! He's just so fat and stupid! I mean, it's unhealthy for him to be that way. I'm just saying all this because he should really lose some weight." Belittle and dismiss the speaker and make yourself look kind and caring in the same sentence!

What's worse, is that online, all this is considered riotously clever and funny. Just as the school-yard bully would garner laughs when they would sing "fatty-fatty-two-by-four" or trip someone with glasses calling them "four-eyes" the internet is full of examples of people who enjoy watching a bully at work.  And it's even justified by the same sediments that a run-of-the-mill-bully would use: Well, if they can't take it they shouldn't be part of [politics/choir/football team/this school]."

In the end, I suppose, it's too threatening to acknowledge that there may be someone out there who is your equal and yet can hold an opinion that is opposite of yours. It takes courage to respect someone who holds an oposite view. It threatens the black and white view that most hold on politics -- the "there is only one right view and anyone who thinks differently must be ignorant or evil" line of thought that most hold.

This isn't done just by individuals, either. It's institutionalized.  It's like the teachers and the principals are the ones leading the bullying charge.  Just read the articles about politics and see how often the writers spend most of the space painting the speaker as so insignificant that they can dismiss what that speaker said without ever addressing the points brought up.

In Wisconsin I've been living with this crap for more than a year and I don't see it changing after the election.  The world is full of poor losers who all own poison pens and see bullying as a valid tactic to get ahead.
partly: (IMNSHO)
There's a whole lot of stuff going on right now. I'd complain but that would just worry people or have them tell me all the things that I don't need to complain about...

This mood could be due to the weather, which isn't quite nice enough to be nice but still better than winter. Which, in a way, is much like the stuff going on in my life.

But I think a lot of it has to do with all the crap surrounding the election and re-call here in the state. I wish I could claim a side as the "One True Side". I really wish I could be a true believer for one side and go with it. But I can't. Everyone is throwing crap and claiming that they don't stink or pointing out that the "other side" is evil while they do the same damn thing they condemn the "other side" for doing.

I find it ironic that the very webpages that reek of sarcasm and deeming comments will promote ads for "anti-bullying" and "acceptance". Lets face it, most of the web celebrates bullies and mean-spiritedness. Sarcasm and belittling comments are the cash of the realm when it comes to most pop-culture and political websites. Somehow "cruel" has become synonymous with "clever" -- unless, of course, the comments are directed at someone or something we care about. Then it's just cruel, of course.

I can't work up a lot of passion for someone who is decrying how evil someone is for doing something that I have seen them do in the past.

Bad behavior -- nasty behavior -- mean-spiritedness and cruelty -- these things have an inherent quality of evil about them and they are evil no matter who the victims are. The worst thing isn't what this evil does to the people it's directed at. No. The worst thing is the evil that it does to the people who use it. It leads to self-righteousness and egocentric behavior. It makes you close-minded while believing that you are being accepting and open. It makes you judge people not based on who they are but on how many points they agree with you on. And it makes you hate people you've never met simply because they choose to believe something different than you. Which was, most likely, the behavior you were trying to condemn in the first place.

Yeah. Time to go to bed. No live TV or blogs for me tomorrow!
partly: (Cowboy)
I rarely manage to find a post that sums up everything that I think about a political topic, but I ran across this today and it sums it exactly what I think/feel about OWS:

No, Please, Not….DRUM CIRCLES!

I'm too pragmatic for the OWS. I'm going to side with the police and firefighters, with EMTs and the bus drivers and sanitation workers. With the hourly workers just trying to get enough money to pay the bills and with anyone who has to decide between groceries and rent. I don't see how making their lives hell makes the world a better place.

Of course, I don't see how living in squaller in a public park makes the world a better place either because up here, right now, that's an all too real possibility for too many people.
partly: (Goodfight)
The worst thing about the internet is also the best thing: It's so big and so diverse that, information, once it's out, it's out. And the more places that the information is sent to, the better the trail is of what happened.

Take, for example, the recent elections in Wisconsin and the controversy surrounding the reporting (or not reporting) of the Brookfield votes. The votes didn't get reported to the state or to the AP (who is responsible for reporting them to all the other news outlets). So when they were counted days later during the canvass and because it changed the winner of the race there was an understandable skepticism around the votes.

"If they weren't reported anywhere," the questions goes, "how do we know that they are valid?"

Well, you could look at the voting statistics. Without the 14,000 unreported votes, Waukesa and Bookfield are statistical anomalies. Their voters turn out is much less than the surrounding communities and is not inline with voter turnout from the past elections. Plus the outcome of the votes is consistent with the political make up of the community and the surrounding community.

But there is still this: "If they weren't reported anywhere, how do we know that they are valid?"

The answer is: They were reported.

The night of the election, the City of Brookfield's clerk sent the vote tallies for the city (the ones missing from the votes reported to the AP) directly to the Brookfield Patch. The Brookfield Patch posted those numbers. It was the Waukesha County clerk that sent the incomplete information to the State and AP.

You can read the Brookfield Patch's stories on this, just to get a timeline. The first article was posted on April 6, Brookfield Gives Prosser Nearly 11K Votes. The author of the piece, Lisa Sink (also the editor of the news site), explains what happens in a comment:

I posted this article and chart at 12:24 a.m. on election night, using data handed to me from the City of Brookfield clerk's office, not from Waukesha County. Lots of confusion about this. This came straight from the city ON election night. These are the results County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said today that she failed to properly save and include in the countywide total she released to AP on election night.


They posted another piece on it the next day, Prosser Picks Up 7,500-plus Votes in Waukesha County Clerk Snafu explaining once again that The Patch (as well as the City of Brookfield's web site) reported those votes the night of the election.

So whatever FUBAR happened with the Waukesha County Clerk that messed up their reporting of the votes to the state and AP, the votes were reported. They were recorded, saved, posted to the internet and sent to a news outlet.

There is a "paper tail". The information was put on the web and it's there, now. There is proof, verifiable, if you follow what was posted.

That's the glory of the internet. And a lesson for all vote reporting in the future: Post the election results, sent out the totals to more than one place. You want transparency? You want accountability? Then share the data. Put it out.

That's the power of the internet, after all.

--For those who need to know these things, the Brookfield Patch is part of Huffington Post's drive to provide a strong news voice for communities that are otherwise underserved or overlooked by major media sources. Seems they struck gold with Brookfield.
partly: (IMNSHO)
I hate politics. Hate them with a passion that I reserve for very few other things. Politics is all about power and manipulation and propaganda. There's a great quote by Noam Chomsky that I was reminded of this past week: ...propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state (ref). These past ten days in Wisconsin we have been overloaded on propaganda. It's been a state of people with "propaganda bludgeons" trying to beat everyone into submission. Catchy slogans, rousing speeches, banners and placards covered with graphics that not-so-subtly warn of impending doom. All captured in 30-second sound bites that play well in the media.

Everyone has their own side to the story. Everyone has their own spin. Twitter, Facebook, blogs everywhere are full of "proof" that their side is the only right and just side. It all sounds good, but I don't see how it can all be right.

I call my sledgehammer Propaganda )

Instead of running everyone over with propaganda tanks, instead of calling names and playing politics in order to curry favor and power, instead of focusing on one or two pet causes, tell me is what you are propagandizing going to fix the underlying problem? That's what we need. Anything else, to quote Shakespeare, “is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”.
partly: (IMNSHO)
This just breaks my brain: Doctors are signing fake sick forms for those teachers protesting in Madison.

Isn't that both unethical and fraudulent? Doesn't it count as criminal behavior?

You can watch a video of one of the doctors saying what she is doing here and here. Just in case you want more proof, check out the actual notes that were being handed out over here.

People better get in trouble for this.

If you're going to protest, you should have the courage of your convictions to stand up and say where you were and not to defraud the taxpayers who pay your salary. If you're going to lie and take pay under fraudulent pretenses, then you don't deserve to be put in charge of children at all. Criminal behavior should be grounds for dismissal, no?

Plus, I wonder if these doctors can be trusted with writing prescriptions if they are so willing to lie like this? I mean, heck, I could be both sick and in need of some really good drugs, right? Are these doctors willing to stand by their statement that the teachers were sick? They going to swear under oath that they examined the person and that they felt there was medical reasons for this?

Yeah. That's not likely to work. At least I hope not.
partly: (Goodfight)
After a day of very contentious and slightly threatening exchanges with people over the happenings with the government here in Wisconsin, I decided that I should write my State Senator and let him know my feelings about everything. Since he's one of the Senators who are currently hiding out of state, I doubt he will ever see it, but I thought I'd share my opinions anyhow.

I also thought that I'd post them here. Not because I expect that you all out there are dying to know what I think on this, but because I feel what I say has some importance. At least I feel it's well enough thought out for me to put it out for public viewing.

Dear Mr. Holperin )

*~*~*~*~

Now, I know that a great many people don't agree with me. I also know that civil discourse on the matter is not the norm. So, if you can't refrain from name calling or pejorative comments, please just post it to your own journal. If you want to disagree, that's fine. Just be intelligent and civil. I really feel that politics can be a matter of calm discussion. Thank you.
partly: (IMNSHO)
There's a whole hell of a lot of stuff going on in Wisconsin politics right now. The state elected a new governor in the last election and he's making a whole lot of people upset with the new policies that he is proposing and the legislature is (most likely) passing.

The one that has the most people upset is the plan to make Wisconsin a "Right to Work" State and to remove the collective bargaining powers of the public unions.

My views on all of this are extremely personal.

Personal view one:
I worked for the County Government and was a union member until I was laid off just over a year ago. When I was "officially" informed that I was being let go, the union rep was there. Why was she there? I'm not really sure. She didn't do anything for me. Except to tell me that I was completely and totally replaceable and that she would make sure that no union rules were violated when they replaced me. She assured me that all union rules would be followed when they put an existing union person in my position and that "anyone could do my job just as well with just a little training". Nice to know. Really.

At the last union meeting I attended I was told that it wasn't part of the unions scope to help save jobs or provide the county with ways to balance the budget and keep everyone employed. This was stated after someone suggested that maybe the union could offer concessions in order to keep all the employes. This was quickly and soundly shot down. You see, the union's job is to ensure that the wages and benefits that were currently in place would continue for those who were still part of the union. In other words, they didn't care that people were losing there jobs, only that those who remained would be unaffected.

There were two times in this discussion that emotions ran high. The first was when everyone was informed that, because of the layoff and consequentially fewer union members, there would be a raise in union dues. The second was when they were discussing how terrible it was that one of the workers, D, was in limbo because administration was going to eliminate her position -- not her employment, mind, just where she worked in the building. Wasn't it terrible that this poor STILL EMPLOYED person may have to do something different. This was a tragedy.

When they all complained at how hard it would be on all of them when the layoff took place, I may have made the mistake of telling them that I damn well hoped it was. Needless to say, I was less than impressed and am still more than a little bitter about the whole damn thing. The the people in the county government that laid me off and the people in the public who I served when I was working for the 4-H did much more for me, were much more sympathetic and helpful than the union or the union members.

Personal view two:
Right now our current school budget deficit is prompting the school board to cut 10 percent of the MAPS teaching staff -- 35 teachers received layoff notices, entire programs are being cut. The district needs to focus all of its resources on the areas that are measured and tested and used at the guide for federal money in order to keep afloat prompted it to cut most of the technical programs and keep those for college prep, which seems to be the only thing that matters in education these days.

Our school district is one of the poorest in the state. It rivals Milwaukee in the amount of students who qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch. We have been extremely hard hit by the economic downturn. We have ridiculous unemployment -- and a lot of people have dropped off the unemployment rolls already. The problem is our population density isn't high enough to qualify for a lot of Federal and State aid. In addition our low percentage of minority students also removes us for a great deal of funding consideration. Finally, a great many of the new funding sources comes with qualifications that actually make it cost prohibitive to take the money.

Don't get me wrong, we have a damn fine educational system here. We have done extremely well with what little funds we have. We just can't keep it up forever. Especially when faced with the economy and regulatory demands. The only way the board can balance the budget is to cut and, like with the county, when faced with the current contracts and union bargaining, they can't cut pay or benefits, but they can eliminate jobs.

Of course, the teacher's union is just like the union I belonged too. As long as the people who remain employed aren't hurt, they don't care if people get laid off. I'm thinking that for 35 teachers, they may actually prefer taking a pay cut than having no pay at all.

I know I would have.
partly: (IMNSHO)
Before the rant: Please vote. You get a say in what happens. Go. Speak.

On the the rant. No real politics invoked. )

Yeah, I'm really glad the election is today. My fear is that tomorrow everyone is going to start campaigning again. You see, what the pundits are going to say is that [insert party/candidate that lost here] didn't start early enough, didn't get their message out to the people soon enough, that the average citizens out there are foolishly not paying attention to what is really best for them and that it's only through massive media propaganda that [insert party/candidate that lost here] will be able to win the next election.

I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think so. No one loses quite as poorly as political candidates.
partly: (Burn)
Perhaps before you send me political flyers telling me that I should "Vote like my job depends on it" you should check to make sure that I still have a job.

Perhaps before admonishing that I should be afraid of a candidate that proposes that public employees take mandatory furlough days, you should know that my county employee union refused to consider furlough days as a measure to save jobs because they "had to consider what was best for the majority of union employees".

Perhaps instead of sending me endless flyers and bombarding the airways with annoying ads and calling my home with polls and candidate suggestions, you could have actually spent some time trying to save my damn job. Or at least put the effort to pretend that my job, my position as a dues-paying union employee, was something more than sacrificial lamb, low-man-on-the-totum poll employee who gets to loose her job so that all the other union employees can pretend that there's nothing wrong.

I should point out that when it appears that the county that laid me off cared more that I lost job than the Union that was supposed to be protecting that job, you guys messed up somewhere.

You really should think about fixing that before asking me to trust your judgement on how best to "keep my job".
partly: (Poised)
Vote.

"It's more important that you vote than who you vote for." I'm not going to tell you who I think you should vote for. I'm not even going to tell you who I may/will/could vote for. I could tell you anything, but when I'm in that polling booth and I'm about to put pencil to paper (yeah, that's how we vote where I live) my vote is mine and mine alone. I make my mark and it helps determine who will run the Executive Branch of the U-S-of -friggin'-A. It doesn't even matter if my vote doesn't go for the winning candidate. I made my mark and it was counted.

So go, vote. Make your mark.

If you think that you don't need to vote because "your guy" is way out in the polls -- vote anyhow.

If you think that it doesn't matter if you vote because "everybody" is voting for the "other guy", vote anyhow.

And if you're to the point that you'd just like to chuck the whole thing because right now both candidates look like characters from a bad political satire move: Vote anyhow.

Pick three or five issues that are important to you and make your stand on them. I tell you, sincerely, if you try to vote on all the issues, you're going to go crazy. You need to base your vote on issues that matter to you -- issues that you believe in.

Do you know how any of the candidates stand on funding of NASA and deep space exploration? If it's important to you, you should. Will exploration of Mars continue? What about the deep space listening posts? The study of the sun? What about study of earthquake and volcano activity?

What about support of wildlife and recreation areas? How do the candidates stand of use such areas? And I'm not talking the hot topic of "corporate" use here (logging, oil, whatever) I'm talking regular, public use. Who do the candidates look to when making those decisions? What about wildlife? I have black bear, wolf and bobcat wondering around my folks back yard -- hell, I live in town and I had a black bear in my backyard. So, do the candidates agree with how my life experience says this should be taken care of? Would those candidates (or their advisers) even believe that Northcentral Wisconsin has black bear, wolf and bobcat? Is it important to you if they know things like that?

What about earth-bound scientific advancements? What is their plans for the funding for scientific research -- superconductors, robotics, cybernetics, genetics? Should that be all private? Public? Government regulated? Government controlled? At what point is line drawn and do you trust the people in the government to draw that line? And how are government funds and government regulations balanced against the steep price that comes with governmental involvement?

And then there is the big issues: War. Terrorism. Health care. Taxes. But do you really know how any candidate is going to deal with those? I mean, details, actual plans? And those are big flashpoint issues that will require massive amounts of support from many people other than the current political candidates. Are you sure your candidate will be able to do what he says he will do?

Don't get tunnel vision on the big issues, because it's the little ones you ignore that will make or break this world.

Before you vote just find out two things:

Does the candidate you support, support what you believe?
Does the candidate you support, support what you value?

(This is almost a direct copy of what I posted 4 years ago and I'm sure that I will be able to use it, verbatim, in 4 years hence.)
partly: (IMNSHO)
In my surfing around looking for different thoughts on the whole Katrina distaster, I ran across this great blog entry. I totally love it. More that that, I agree with the main points of it. Read at your own risk, however. Although there is some offensive language, I'm sure it's the ideas that are in it that some will find the most offensive.

Quotes from it:

Who can not see the way the country has changed, not since 9/11, but before that – since the 2000 election? Who cannot feel the split, the division, that rips like a shredding sail on a broken mast, canvas tearing like the sound of musketry, as the rigging falls to the deck?

Race has nothing to do with this – precisely nothing. The mobs of murdering Hutus and swarms of slaughtering Serbs are as different racially as it is possible to be, and they are cut from precisely the same cloth.

That’s because the people I associate with – my Tribe – consists not of blacks and whites and gays and Hispanics and Asians, but of individuals who do not rape, murder, or steal

In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.

Sometimes, Bad Things Happen. Some things are beyond my control, beyond the control of the smartest and best people we have, even beyond the awesome, subtle and unlimited control of the simpering, sub-human village idiot from Texas.

Hurricanes come. They have come for all of human history, and more are coming. Barbarians also come to steal or destroy what they cannot make themselves, and they, like human tempests, have swept a path of destruction through civilization since before history was written on clay tablets on the banks of the Euphrates.


My favorite, because I often think it:

George Bush did not take over the White House with a six-shooter; people voted him into office with the biggest number of votes in American history. I’m one of those people, and [...] I demand my equal time.
partly: (Save Me)
I've been spending a lot of time watching and thinking about everything that's happened in New Orleans. I haven't gotten around to posting until now, but I spent a lot of time talking to family and friends about it. Not only governmental responses, but also individual responses.

I mean, what was the difference that made, say, the NY police and fire personnel run into the Twin Towers (where they knew in all likelihood they would die) but had the New Orleans police walk off the job and tell people "It's every man for himself"? How can the Mayor of New Orleans complain that the Federal Government failed, when he left hundreds of busses sitting, unused, when in the emergency plans they had been marked for use in the evacuations? The poverty rate in New Orleans was 28%, in a city of 484,674 that is 135,709 people without the means to leave the city by themselves -- even if they would trust the government or the weather reports enough to want leave.

In a city that had one of the highest crime rates (the homicide rate was 10 times the national average), one of the lowest cop to resident ratios (3.14 to every 1,000) and a history of police and civil servant graft and corruption, was the break down of civility really that unexpected? Those who could evacuate, did. That left a city of marginalized, oft-ignored and disaffected people at the mercy of the aforementioned criminals, abandoned by 60 percent of the what little police force there was.

It's got to be FEMA's fault that things went badly down there, right?
partly: (Elf)
I got this e-mail from one of the mailing lists I'm on and thought it was worth sharing. (Yes, I asked permission).

Hello everyone. On behalf of everyone who got smacked around by that wench Katrina, thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.Cut for length )

When I asked permission to post, she sent along this information, too:More on Katrina )

It's nice to know that not everything is as bad as it seems on the news. I know it's bad, but people are working. They are doing a damn fine job, and it's disservice to say that everyone involved isn't doing their best.
partly: (IMNSHO)
I've heard reports that the National Guard are stopping people (even volunteers/Red Cross) from going into New Orleans in order to completely evacuate the city. I know that there has been a lot of discussion on the matter, but it doesn't seem like a bad decision to me. Cut in deference to those who'd like to avoid it. )
partly: (Pretty Please)
People!

Over 115 million people voted in this election. That doesn't include all the absentee or provisional ballots that were cast.

We haven't counted them all, yet. This is not a sign that the system is flawed.

It means that there are over 115 million ballots to count.

I repeat 115 million

Do you have any idea how much a 115 million is?

And, really, the whole Ohio thing? It's just about counting the votes. It's not about errors or problems... it's just about counting.

115 million.

That's a big number. We should be pleased that it's that big. How depressing would it be if it would be a small number of votes that were easily counted?

Better that we have a lot and wait.

ETA: Ok. I guess we're no longer waiting to count them all. But still: 115 million.
partly: (IMNSHO)
Vote.

Yeah, I know, it's voting day and a little late for this, but here it is anyway.

And if you're to the point that you'd just like to chuck the whole thing because right now both candidates look like characters from a bad political satire move: Vote anyhow.

Pick three or five issues that are important to you and make your stand on them. I tell you, sincerely, if you try to vote on all the issues, you're going to go crazy.

Do you know how any of the candidates stand on funding of NASA and deep space exploration? If it's important to you, you should. Will exploration of Mars continue? What about the deep space listening posts? The study of the sun? What about study of earthquake and volcano activity?

What about support of wildlife and recreation areas? How do the candidates stand of use such areas? And I'm not talking the hot topic of "corporate" use here (logging, oil, whatever) I'm talking regular, public use. Who do the candidates look to when making those decisions? What about wildlife? I have black bear, wolf and bobcat wondering around my folks back yard -- hell, I live in town and I had a black bear in my backyard. So, do the candidates agree with how my life experience says this should be taken care of? Would those candidates (or their advisers) even believe that Northcentral Wisconsin has black bear, wolf and bobcat? Is it important to you if they know things like that?

What about earth-bound scientific advancements? What is their plans for the funding for scientific research -- superconductors, robotics, cybernetics, genetics? Should that be all private? Public? Government regulated? Government controlled? At what point is line drawn and do you trust the people in the government to draw that line? And how are government funds and government regulations balanced against the steep price that comes with governmental involvement?

And then there is the big issues: War. Terrorism. Health care. Taxes. But do you really know how any candidate is going to deal with those? I mean, details, actual plans? And those are big flashpoint issues that will require massive amounts of support from many people other than the current political candidates. Are you sure your candidate will be able to do what he says he will do?

Don't get tunnel vision on the big issues, because it's the little ones you ignore that will make or break this world.

Before you vote just find out one thing:

Does the candidate you support, support what you believe?
Does the candidate you support, support what you value?

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