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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

Religion and Politics (Yes, Really!)

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

Religion and Politics (Yes, Really!)

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Since I have a few newcomers to the ol' Bag of Weasels *waves* I think it's only fair to forewarn that I am a liberal agnostic, and my rare political posts reflect this. I welcome discussion on my posts but don't want folks who would rather avoid this sort of thing or might have had the mistaken impression that I am gun-totin' and church-goin' and have a yellow ribbon magnet turned sideways on the back of my SUV to be surprised by my rather very liberal leanings.

I am writing this because I know that, some years from now, I might want to remember this election. I'm hoping that I will. At the least, I think this election represents a turning point for me in terms of political awareness and in definitely finding where I stand on issues I hadn't much considered before and in finding my place under the very broad cultural umbrella "American."

Religion in Politics
The other day, I was reading a few articles about Sarah Palin's religious beliefs. She's been connected to all sorts of wonky things, like having witches cast out of her and belonging to churches that work to expel demons and practice "spiritual warfare"; she's been associated with the Pentecostal church, an organization that promotes the idea of a personal connection with Christ through talking in tongues. (Which, incidentally, was featured in The Scarlet Letter. Shall we bring back stockades and crimson badges of shame too??)

So, of course, people jumped on this, which of course caused some Christians to have that kneejerk shout of "Persecution!" and claiming that Palin was being unfairly singled out for her religious beliefs that have nothing to do with her suitability to be the next-in-line to the Presidency. (Arguable, but ...)

Now, in all honesty, I do empathize with Christians of all stripes--even the fundamentalist ones--who practice their beliefs quietly and don't go about trying to foist their ways upon heathens like me. Their brethren give them a very bad name, and just as I treasure my right to my own wonky set of beliefs, so I think this should be preserved for others too. But, at the same time, I hope that with both history and current events showing their religion, in general, to be a nastily intolerant and sometimes downright violent one, then they can understand how people like me nearly dislocate an optic nerve from rolling our eyes so hard whenever we hear a Christian shout, "Persecution!"

But this discussion of Palin and her religious beliefs got me thinking about religion in politics beyond Christian fundamentalism. This election is being hailed as one that has broken all sorts of barriers in terms of making the highest office in the land open to more than just old, rich white guys. But one major barrier remains: I don't think that a non-Christian has a snowball's chance in Hell of ever making a serious showing in a Presidential race in today's world. And no one is talking about this.

Of course, I'm thrilled that the Presidency is now achievable by women and minorities. (I hope that tomorrow will underscore several times the latter!) But does anyone honestly think that if an atheist or a Moslem or a Wiccan or even an innocent fence-sitting agnostic like me ever ran for President, that we'd stand a chance?

Presidential candidates are always asserting their faith. They always belong to a church and that affiliation is broadcast as though it matters (look at Obama's trouble with Jeremiah Wright and now Palin's questionable associations); there is the stock footage of them walking out of church with their families; there is the requisite "Gawd bless America!" at the end of every speech. They are always asserting their faith with the clear understanding that it must be a Christian faith. The lone non-Christian candidate that I can remember was Lieberman in 2000, and I remember lots of delicately anti-Semitic, "But what if there's an emergency on a Saturday? On his Sabbath??" as though Lieberman had never contemplated this contingency, and though people never ask the same about what Christian candidates will do if their duties take them from church on a Sunday.

Consider Obama: his campaign has spent much time and energy dispelling rumors that he is a Moslem. Not whether he was an extremist but whether he practiced the Islamic faith at all. Once his purported connections to Islam were over, the argument was over. I understand why his campaign couldn't say this, but I would have liked for someone to have asked, "And so what if he's a Moslem? Why does that automatically disqualify him?" Because it does. Does anyone honestly believe that Obama would be top o' the ticket tomorrow if he was a Moslem? Never mind that mainstream Moslems are far less scary than the fundamentalists Palin is palling around with ...

Personally, I would love a candidate who was either atheist, agnostic, or a religious minority. Not because I'm agnostic but because I think that these are the people who understand better than anyone why religious freedom and the separation of church and state are of utmost importance; these are the people who will protect religious freedom for all, not just those lucky enough to be in the mainstream.

So, as heartened as I am by Hillary Clinton (and, yes, Palin too *sigh*) that my gender no longer bars me from the highest office of the country, then I still can't believe that it would ever be a possibility for me, if I was interested in a career in politics. Because I'm agnostic, and that bars me from a lot of possibilities available to Christians. How is that fair? And why doesn't this bother fair-minded people a lot more than it does?

Liberals and Conservatives
Before this election, of course, I knew the difference between liberals and conservatives. Once upon a time, I got a perfect score on the State-required "citizenship test" in high school. Yet, despite knowing their differing stances on the ideal role of the government and fiscal policy and personal responsibility, I always thought of liberals and conservatives in terms of the issues that tended to cluster around those larger philosophies. For example, liberals are "pro-choice" and conservatives are "pro-life"; conservatives want to privatize Social Security and liberals don't; conservatives want to shut off funding to many programs but never the military and liberals want to throw money at everything (including the military ... can I get a pacifist candidate alongside my religious minority? *sigh*)

Throughout all of this, I never understood Republicans much. My next-door neighbor Bob was born and raised in Carroll County and so is a red Republican just like 90% of the county, but I never understood why. He is an agnostic, and he has a gay son. From my perspective, being exceedingly concerned about preserving religious freedom for everyone and defending the rights of same-sex couples, it didn't make much sense that someone who has many of the same interests as me could vote consistently for a party that would happily force Christianity into his life and believes that his son can be "taught" to be straight and, until then, deserves to be treated as a second-class citizen.

But, of course, until this election, I mostly associated Republicans as the party favored (and largely populated by) religious fundamentalists because of my own concerns and interests as a voter. I know that that is just one facet of modern conservatism in the United States.

Yet the motley association of philosophies that is the Republican party never made much sense to me. You have people who defend states' rights calling for a federal amendment banning gay marriage; you have people who want the government to butt out of people's personal lives trying to make abortion illegal. You have fiscal conservatives voting for Bush, who was anything but fiscally conservative. You have conservatives railing against socialism while supporting a party that consistently votes for corporate welfare.

I know the Democrats don't make perfect sense on issues either. Gun control will always be a headscratcher for me. ("We love the Constitution! We uphold the Constitution! Except the Second Amendment! Piss on that!") But there does seem to my biased eye to be more consistency in the values liberals believe in than the circus of the filthy rich, religious fundamentalists, and those with a genuine, thoughtful belief in conservative ideals beyond their own self-interest.

I've seen it said that Sarah Palin is the one holding the mirror up to the Republican party and causing many not to like what they see. For example, numerous "intellectual" conservatives have jumped ship because of how thoroughly she denigrates anyone who uses his or her brain on a regular basis. When looking at the passion with which religious nuts and white supremacists have cleaved to her, I would jump ship too. I just have trouble imagining someone who has spent years studying and learning and developing a conservative ideology in the mob at McCain rallies screaming "Kill him!" about Obama or in a board room scheming for tax breaks and government subsidies for multi-billion-dollar corporations.

Well, this election has proven that I'm not alone in this. Apparently, a lot of conservatives have started wondering the same thing.

This election has proven to me that I am most certainly not a conservative. In my younger years, I called myself a fiscal conservative. Older and, hopefully, wiser, I no longer do so. When we used to get HBO in the House of Felagund, we used to watch Bill Maher every week, and he would often ask the following question of conservatives: If you don't trust the government to oversee things like health care and social security, then why would you ever trust a corporation whose primary goal is going to be making a profit on that entity, not providing optimal service to its "customers"? I know that there are problems with the government--heck, I work for them!--but I'd still gladly take a lazy and dull-witted bureaucrat any day over a leech trying to suck me dry of all I'm worth to add an eighth Cadillac to the fleet; I'd sooner trust myself to an organization that measures success in terms of how well it serves the population and not how much of a profit it has made.

For example, during a recent interview, Joe Biden was asked if Obama wanted to turn the US into a socialist country "like Sweden." During the final debate, McCain cracked that if people wanted the kind of healthcare Obama wanted to offer, maybe they should go to Canada or England. Bobby and I kind of sat in stunned silence for a moment after that and then slowly said to each other, "We want what they have in Canada and England" ... and yes, that evil socialist Sweden too! It seems to me that children in those countries aren't dying because their parents have the wrong insurance ... or none at all. And it seems to me that these "socialist" countries that require companies to give their employees things like sick days or can't fire people for taking a day off when a kid gets sick is much better than what we have too. (Like keeping company with Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland as only four countries without paid maternity leave! Yay us!)

The other day, on the discussion board for one of my classes, we were discussing topics for a research paper, and one guy was writing about how he wanted to compare Italy and the US in terms of "progress" and how "progress" is not always a good thing. How one can, indeed, have too much progress and we reach a point where stagnation is the best thing we can do.

In this, I realize that I absolutely cannot abide with the conservative ideal here. Stagnation is stagnation: It's good for growing mosquitoes and little else. What makes us unique as humans? It is our ability to adapt to nearly any circumstances. Look at some of the most forbidding lands on the planet and you'll still, likely, find humans there. We're scrawny and weak, and our sensory capacities can't even come close to most of our cousins in the Animal Kingdom, but we can live and survive almost anywhere because we can adapt to almost anything. Which requires progress: seeing our current existence and always imagining something better and working to achieve it.

I simply cannot imagine why someone would want to live in a society without progress. In fact, even beyond the human species, isn't it the way the world works that everything is always evolving toward something better? Isn't it against the laws of nature to dig in one's heels and insist on staying put or *crosses self* going backward? That doesn't mean that everything that we try necessarily equates to progress, but don't we have to keep trying? Isn't that the point??

Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin has caused me significant discomfort. Not because her beliefs are at such odds with mine--I usually revel in this, the opportunity to sharpen my rhetorical and verbal claws on someone like her!--but because she has made me question my sexist inclinations. Which, for a strident feminist, is not comfortable introspection.

When McCain first announced her as the VP candidate, I--like 99.9% of Americans--had never heard of her. But I was thrilled. I remember talking to Bobby on the phone and saying, "At least he picked a woman! I think it's so cool that he picked a woman!" Despite the fact that I had decided on Obama long before the primaries were even over, I really didn't want to contemplate a Republican candidate who was a completely boorish misogynist, which McCain's beliefs on abortion and lack of support for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act led me to believe he might be. There is a chance he could be President, after all, and I really didn't want to live under such an administration (again).

Of course, I quickly came to realize that, yes, he had picked a woman--but why, oh why did he pick the scariest woman in the entire US?? I can't even say "the scariest woman in the continental US," which would be my normal rant! No, she is the scariest woman in the entire US.

I happily jumped on the bipartisan bandwagon of people who loathed Sarah Palin. I honestly felt sick to my stomach watching her wink and wiggle during the VP debate.

But because I am a navel-gazing liberal, my reaction to her was not off-limits for analysis--far from it! I wondered how I would react to a Palinesque male candidate: someone who was good-looking and charismatic and played to the audience. Was my reaction to Palin so negative because she was a woman?

I like to think that even a handsome, cutesy boneheaded male candidate could not win me, especially if he was of the same deplorable mindsets on some issues as Palin is. I don't know that he would get under my skin the way that she does ... and maybe that makes me sexist. However, I think part of it too is that women have worked hard to get to the point where they can compete with men in terms of abilities and need not fall back to being "hot" or "cute" or playing to a camera. If the woman's two brain cells had ever met, I might forgive her for being annoying. McCain annoys me too, especially when he's on the split-screen during debates and looks like he's sitting in a wind tunnel--what's up with that? Biden's very bright white smile and tendency to refer to himself in third person annoys me. But McCain and Biden, when it comes down to it, are intelligent people and have earned their respective places on the ballot tomorrow. With Palin, I get the impression that she was picked for her appeal to the ugly underbelly of the Republican party and because she's "hot" and "cute" and not above using sex to sell the Republican message, not because she has anything legitimate to contribute in terms of experience or ideas.

How deplorable--that we should finally get a woman in the VP spot on the Presidential ballot and she has to be a woman chosen for her bass-ackwards values and her "sexy librarian" looks. Is this really what women have been working for?

So, on the night before the big day, these are the thoughts that have been wrangling in my brain for the past few months. Now, it's off to watch the SNL Presidential special and let's hope that the next post I make comes with celebration!
  • Yay! It's about time you wrote about the election. :)

    I had a similar struggle with Sarah Palin too. For the first week or two, before they actually let her speak in public, I thought she was pretty cool. That was before I knew who she was.

    Eventually, I questioned whether I was being sexist for feeling like she was the dumbest woman they could have picked (Jezebel.com made me consider it). Then, a little while after that, I realised why she bugs me so much - she is a female George W. Bush!

    They're both outspoken fundamentalist conservatives. They both share quirky mannerisms that people seem to like. They both have trouble saying "nucular". They're both dumb as a box of hammers. And yet, people like them because they're "just like us".

    I don't want a president (or vice president) who is just like us; there's a reason we elect a president instead of running for the office ourselves!

    The "Palin 2012" talk is already starting, which scares me even more. People are not content to vote for McCain and let Sarah Palin come along too, just because she's the V.P. pick. They actually want HER to lead the country! It makes me glad to be in England. Speaking of...

    During the final debate, McCain cracked that if people wanted the kind of healthcare Obama wanted to offer, maybe they should go to Canada or England.

    Kirsty and I watched all the debates and we both looked at each other in shock when he said this. I know McCain wants to bomb every country into oblivion, but aren't England and Canada our allies? Seriously, it's not that bad over here. In fact, for the first time since I moved, we've been having serious discussions about whether we would move to America if given the chance. Sure, we love the country, but then there's the small matter of giving up our rights as a couple, having to secure health insurance (and hope it covers us if we need it), etc. It's funny that some of the most important issues in America today - healthcare, paying for college, etc. - are all but taken care of in the UK (healthcare is "free", as you know, and college costs are capped at a low amount that would make even "affordable" state schools in America squirm).

    BTW, have you been following all the funny Sarah Palin videos? The SNL skits (especially the first one), the crank phone call, and the Diane Sawyer (?) interview where she said she reads "all" of the newspapers - because she couldn't name one - and she couldn't name a Supreme Court case she disagreed with either? Assuming the election goes Obama's way tomorrow, I think I may actually miss Sarah Palin just a little bit.

    Okay, no I won't.
    • Yay! It's about time you wrote about the election. :)

      I know! I've been wanting to, but this post took two hours last night, which is two hours I don't usually have ... so it sums up a lot of what I've wanted to say over the past few weeks. ;)

      Then, a little while after that, I realised why she bugs me so much - she is a female George W. Bush!

      There was a really great conversation on the Slate XX Factor blog about how Palin was similar and different to W. (It starts here; unfortunately, it's not unified under a single tag.) The original poster asks why people who gladly pulled the lever for Bush are bothered by Palin's lack of intelligence, and in the ensuing conversation, a valid point is made that Palin is ... worse. Bush, at least, grew up in a political family and did go to the best schools, even if he slept off a hangover through most of his lectures; the argument was that he must have picked up something along the way by osmosis if nothing else. At the least, he couldn't scathe academics because he'd grown up in the midst of them! It took Palin six colleges to get a degree, and her derision of anyone who uses his or her brain is stunning. And scary.

      I agree with you on wanting to elect someone "just like us." I want my President to be better than me: smarter, more well-read, more patient, more thoughtful. I wouldn't want myself in the White House. I sure as hell don't want a woman who, despite being older than me, has probably spent less of her life learning about the world in which she lives and its history and the people with whom she keeps company.

      The "Palin 2012" talk is already starting, which scares me even more.

      I say, let her run! She might get most of the 20-33% that self-identify as evangelical but she could never get the support of the entire Republican party.

      I do wonder what's going to happen with the GOP after this election in terms of their identity crisis. It's like someone just turned on the light in the GOP room, and no one there likes whom they see they're keeping company with.

      It's funny that some of the most important issues in America today - healthcare, paying for college, etc. - are all but taken care of in the UK (healthcare is "free", as you know, and college costs are capped at a low amount that would make even "affordable" state schools in America squirm).

      Socialists! ;) When hrymfaxe was over this summer from Denmark, we had similar conversations. It always amazes me, talking to European friends and family, what other countries have accomplished while we languish: universal healthcare, affordable education, worker/family-friendly workplace policies.

      It wouldn't bother me so much over here if not for the fact that there is socialism and welfare in this country, it's just not directed to the majority of citizens. $700 billion bailout--excuse me, "rescue plan"--much? Does anyone think that a $700 billion "rescue" of middle-class Americans would ever pass? Look at how ordinary people mixed up in the mortgage mess were scathed by the same politicians itching to pass out that $700 billion to their rich buddies and told to take "personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

      But we can't abide with making college free or affordable, no how, no way! That would be socialism, my friend!

      BTW, have you been following all the funny Sarah Palin videos?

      I've seen most of them. We watched the SNL Presidential Bash last night, which was a nice recap. Tina Fey is brilliant as Palin. When she says, "Me and John McCain are a coupla mavericks!" I almost peed myself because Bobby and I toss around this catch-phrase all of the time, delivered in our best approximation of that cheese-grater-to-the-eardrums "accent" she has.

      Here, I think you'll like this. ;)
      • Ha! I hadn't seen that last link from Slate. Isn't she supposed to be a journalism major too (that was the big point I always read about when she was messing up her interviews - if anyone should have anticipated and understood this "gotcha" journalism [heh] it's a journalism major).

        Re: Palin being worse than Bush. I can see both sides. I think the major issue that makes Bush much worse were his delusions of worldwide domination; I don't think Palin knows enough about the "worldwide" to consider dominating it. A lot of that depends, of course, on who she works with (*cough* Karl Rove *cough*) but I get the feeling she isn't trying to get in there with something to prove to Daddy's brown enemy either.

        I say, let her run! She might get most of the 20-33% that self-identify as evangelical but she could never get the support of the entire Republican party.

        I will never again say something like that. Eight years of an imbecile in the White House, a man who, on paper, didn't seem even slightly electable, and I'm not willing to dare the Republicans again. If the majority of people voted with their brains and not "She's attractive!" "He's personable!" "They're just like us!" then we would not be in the messes we're in today.

        Yes, I'm that paranoid of acknowledging her legitimacy. ;)

        It wouldn't bother me so much over here if not for the fact that there is socialism and welfare in this country, it's just not directed to the majority of citizens. $700 billion bailout--excuse me, "rescue plan"--much? Does anyone think that a $700 billion "rescue" of middle-class Americans would ever pass? Look at how ordinary people mixed up in the mortgage mess were scathed by the same politicians itching to pass out that $700 billion to their rich buddies and told to take "personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."

        Personal, pet issues aside (the defeat of the Matthew Shephard Act caused me to deeply mistrust my country), the $700bn bailout was the single worst moment I've ever experienced in watching Congress. I've come to expect George W. Bush to be a blinkered idiot, and I have similar feelings about a lot of elected Republicans too. But when a Democratic majority (with bipartisan support) overwhelming passed a bailout that no "Joe Six Pack" (heh) wanted, and that any American who was paying attention knew was just a $700bn gift, I have rarely felt so helpless in politics. It was right up there (albeit under) Election Supreme Court Decision 2000 and Election 2004. And now what's happening?
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        Ha! I hadn't seen that last link from Slate. Isn't she supposed to be a journalism major too (that was the big point I always read about when she was messing up her interviews - if anyone should have anticipated and understood this "gotcha" journalism [heh] it's a journalism major).

        Re: Palin being worse than Bush. I can see both sides. I think the major issue that makes Bush much worse were his delusions of worldwide domination; I don't think Palin knows enough about the "worldwide" to consider dominating it. A lot of that depends, of course, on who she works with (*cough* Karl Rove *cough*) but I get the feeling she isn't trying to get in there with something to prove to Daddy's brown enemy either.

        <i>I say, let her run! She might get most of the 20-33% that self-identify as evangelical but she could never get the support of the entire Republican party.</i>

        I will never again say something like that. Eight years of an imbecile in the White House, a man who, on paper, didn't seem even slightly electable, and I'm not willing to dare the Republicans again. If the majority of people voted with their brains and not "She's attractive!" "He's personable!" "They're just like us!" then we would not be in the messes we're in today.

        Yes, I'm that paranoid of acknowledging her legitimacy. ;)

        <i>It wouldn't bother me so much over here if not for the fact that there is socialism and welfare in this country, it's just not directed to the majority of citizens. $700 billion bailout--excuse me, "rescue plan"--much? Does anyone think that a $700 billion "rescue" of middle-class Americans would ever pass? Look at how ordinary people mixed up in the mortgage mess were scathed by the same politicians itching to pass out that $700 billion to their rich buddies and told to take "personal responsibility" and "pull themselves up by their bootstraps."</i>

        Personal, pet issues aside (the defeat of the Matthew Shephard Act caused me to deeply mistrust my country), the $700bn bailout was the single worst moment I've ever experienced in watching Congress. I've come to expect George W. Bush to be a blinkered idiot, and I have similar feelings about a lot of elected Republicans too. But when a Democratic majority (with bipartisan support) overwhelming passed a bailout that no "Joe Six Pack" (heh) wanted, and that any American who was paying attention <i>knew</i> was just a $700bn gift, I have rarely felt so helpless in politics. It was right up there (albeit under) <strike>Election</strike> Supreme Court Decision 2000 and Election 2004. And now what's happening? <a href="http://consumerist.com/5068991/banks-using-700-billion-bailout-to-buy-other-banks-not-make-more-loans"The banks are using it to pad their profits and supplement their business interests, of course</a>! And why wouldn't they? If someone gave me a few billion and minimal oversight, I'd put it into savings and investments too.

        *Wanders away grumbling*
  • Hey, I think we're peas in a pod when it comes to thoughts on these things - making us dangerous socialist, pinko, tree-hugging, taxandspend, baby-killing, humanist, atheist, anti-family, fag-loving, feminazi, bleeding heart liberals. I'm sure there's a few I've missed in there. One of the things that has most worried me about this election is the rancor with which public discourse is being conducted. It seems like a war of ideals. I am mystified why what I consider to be a moderate stance is so vilified by the Right. I'm also mystified as to how these folks can be voting so consistently against their own best interests. But I realize I have a certain point of view.
    Re: Palin. I wasn't pleased from the moment she was announced and I think that's because I read up on her background right away. I wasn't a Hillary supporter but I felt she certainly had earned the possibility of being either president or vice-president so much more than Palin and I would have been happy if Obama had picked her as VP. I was insulted that McCain cynically thought he could get my vote simply because of his running mate's gender. I know my reaction wasn't sexist - it was based on who Palin is as a person. And isn't that what we want everyone to be judged on - rather than their gender or race or age or religion or whatever? You know, what Martin Luther King, jr. said. That thing. But social evolution takes a long time and I think we've come a long way. When I was a kid, it was inconceivable that a black man could be so close to the presidency. I feel hopeful for the first time in a while. Praying to whatever gods or magnetic currents or whatever there is that Obama wins tomorrow.
    • You forgot bra-burning. ;)

      I am mystified why what I consider to be a moderate stance is so vilified by the Right.

      I am totally with you on this. It bugs me how far-right policies get serious attention in political discourse, but even slightly left policies get dismissed out-of-hand. How "liberal" is an insult while no one balks at being a "conservative." I mean, Obama's healthcare plan (for instance) is not far-left. It's solidly moderate. Personally, I would like to see a Democratic candidate bring up single-payer healthcare as a issue worth discussing. (I'm secretly hoping that, if Obama gets elected, he or someone else might ...)

      But McCain's proposal to dissolve state borders where healthcare is concerned is very conservative and doesn't even get a blink. It's frustrating.

      I was insulted that McCain cynically thought he could get my vote simply because of his running mate's gender.

      Agreed. It would be something if maybe she supported women's rights at little, but when she bristles at being called a feminist ...

      If you get a chance, you'll probably like frenchpony's "tits and ovaries" comment further down the page. ;)

      But, on Palin, I have no compunctions about my opposition to her on the issues. My concern was the effect that she has on my personally: not her wacko ideas but the fact that I find her disgusting and annoying. During the Dem primaries, Clinton got singled out a lot for being "hysterical" and "shrill" and "cackling," which was rhetoric being directed against women in the 19th century as an argument against women's suffrage; it was maddening to me to see the same points being brought up more than 100 years later to avoid engaging her on the issues.

      I've since come to terms with the fact that, as you and frenchpony said, it is indeed an insult that her gender alone is what qualified Palin for this office; that it was assumed that women would vote for her--no matter how woman-unfriendly her beliefs and proposed policies--simply because she shared our anatomy or chromosomal structure. She annoys me because of that (whereas Clinton annoys me in the way that most politicians do but not excessively so; I find Biden's blinding white teeth much more distracting than her "cackle." ;)
      • Btw, I want to say that I've been excited about a candidate in the person of Obama for the first time, well, really that I can remember. I worked for him in the primary and had the opportunity of hearing Ret. Air Force General McPeak speak about him. He said he had been a life-long Republican but was so disillusioned about the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq war that he "went over to the dark side" and became a Democrat. He began working directly on the Obama campaign and said that after traveling with him and working with him that "he's the real deal" with good judgment and sensibility. Someone who's critical to have as president at this moment in time, not only for this country, but the world. In addition my sister signs for the deaf and has signed for two Obama speeches. She says being up on stage with him is like being next to a beacon of shining light and she is not prone to hero worship or exaggeration. So, I don't want to put the man too much on a pedestal. I have no doubt that he'll have difficulty living up to the hype and promises, but damn, it would be good to have someone as president that didn't cause me to cringe everytime he opened his mouth. I voted already. Woo hoo~ Here's to hope!
  • But does anyone honestly think that if an atheist or a Moslem or a Wiccan or even an innocent fence-sitting agnostic like me ever ran for President, that we'd stand a chance?

    Nope. Not a chance. telperion1 mentioned the following recently: Voters, church leader speak out against Dole's `godless' ad. The thing is, Hagan, Dole's opponent, is in fact a Christian of a more moderate stripe, and hence the protest from "church leaders." See, she isn't really an atheist! Would the North Carolina Council of Churches be protesting Dole's ill-conceived ad if she actually was an atheist? I find it improbable that this council would.

    In a somewhat unrelated note, the writers of The Simpsons displayed a flash of brilliance last night in their Halloween special, Little Treehouse of Horrors. When Homer asks Krusty the Klown, deceased but returned to earth as an avenging angel to take out Homer for violating intellectual property rights, what the One True Religion is, Krusty answers, "It's a mix of voodoo and Methodist." Heh.

    Palin stunk up the joint from the get-go. I can't even begin to go into a litany of everything that is deeply disturbing about her. A longtime friend in the defense industry has traditionally voted with his pocketbook, thus pulling the Republican lever more often than not. This election is different. Palin was the tipping point for him. He periodically goes up to the missile fields near Fairbanks, Alaska for his work, and recently he took the opportunity to check out Wasilla. "Not bad..." he sneered "...for a town of several thousand without a public sewer system." He's voting for Obama.

    I've been a fan of Obama since my mother and aunt called my attention to him when he was running for the US Senate in 2004. They -- elderly white Methodist ladies (but no voodoo) from central Illinois -- adored him then and still do. Like them, I -- a Real American™ -- will exercise my right to vote tomorrow and vote for a candidate who epitomizes the meritocracy.
    • I'm glad that you brought up the Dole ad against Hagan. It was one of the many thoughts swirling in my head about that particular section of the post. I think it's terribly indicative. Can you imagine such an ad against a similar minority group? "Kay Hagan takes money from Black Americans." "Low Income Americans." Even "Gay Americans"? What an outcry any one of them would generate! Why are we "godless" Americans any less important than the religious-minded?

      The whole discussion around those ads seems to focus more on proving Hagan's Christianity than saying, "Hey, wait a minute ... we do have religious freedom in this country. Atheists and agnostics are no less of Americans than Christians, Jew, Moslems, Pagans, Buddhists ..." It's the same feeling I get from the "Obama is a Moslem!" rumor: People spend time proving Obama's not a Moslem rather than tackling the broader issue, which is why it would be inherently wrong for a Moslem (or any religious minority) to run for office. It seems like sweeping the dust under the rug to me; eventually, we will have to deal with these things and may well regret turning a blind eye when we had the opportunity to confront Christian bigotry head on.

      I can't even begin to go into a litany of everything that is deeply disturbing about her.

      I think that the thing that bothers me the most about her is how proud she is of her willful ignorance and how she infests other willfully ignorant people with similar pride. I think that a lot of her crazy ideas and her wacko religious beliefs stem from being so opposed to using that gray thing between her ears and the misguided belief that answers come from an acid-filled digestive organ instead.

      It's extremely frightening to me that a major political party in our country feels that it can't run a ticket that doesn't include someone marketed to voters largely on his or her stupidity.
  • Sarah Palin was chosen precisely because she is a woman. Hillary had come so close to being the Democratic candidate that the McCain campaign figured it could win over bitter Hillary supporters by putting tits and ovaries on its own slate. (And, given some of the dumbass rhetoric from disappointed Hillary supporters, they had some justification for doing so.) The problem ends up being something like Clarence Thomas (do you remember his confirmation hearings?) -- since the GOP isn't kind to blacks and women, there aren't many of either in high ranks in the party. And the ones that are in high ranks tend to be a) extremely conservative, and b) twice the assholes that the white males are*. So, McCain's campaign was desperate to find a Republican woman, ANY Republican woman, who would a) be willing to run for vice-president, and b) not be Christie Whitman.

    Had they actually picked Christie Whitman, this race would be coming down to the wire even more than it is. Christie Whitman is an intelligent, thoughtful woman, was a pretty good governor of New Jersey, and was an EPA secretary who actually gave two shits about the environment (which is why the GOP doesn't like her any more and why they didn't pick her). She would have been a meaningful alternative to Hillary. But, since the GOP doesn't actually take women seriously, all they saw in Hillary was the tits and ovaries, and figured that any ol' set of tits and ovaries would do to replace her. So, since Whitman was out, who do they have left? Says a lot about their desperation to pander that the next best candidate they could find was Sarah Palin. You should feel insulted that she's on the ballot. The McCain campaign thinks that you are so ruled by your floods of estrogen that you will overlook her loopy-ass politics and complete and utter ignorance about the way this country actually functions and vote for him, because he has a running mate who has tits and ovaries! Just like you!

    The thing that interested and disgusted me about Lieberman's run for the vice-presidency was not so much the anti-Semitism (you bet your sweet patoot he thought about that before going in), but the fact that Lieberman basically began to adopt this public Southern Baptist persona in order to make himself more appealing on the campaign trail. I've been familiar with Lieberman forever, being originally from Connecticut, and I can assure you that he was not always the RINO hawk you see today. He used to be at least politically moderate, and was absolutely frum, but smart-frum -- he'd take Shabbas into account all the time, and he planned for how it would affect his job.

    But on the campaign trail, he seemed to hear the anti-Semitic remarks, and responded to them by turning into an ugly parody of the worst kind of GOP Southern Baptist, coming thisclose to actually proclaiming Jesus as his Lord and Savior. That was when much of Connecticut started to hate him (let's not even get into his race with Ned Lamont). The irony here is that Lieberman is a more frum Jew than most other politicians are good Christians. They don't have a problem mouthing religious rhetoric but working Sundays anyway. Lieberman actually took a stand -- no work on Shabbas -- and lived it.




    *Not even getting into the Log Cabin Republicans, who also tend to be white males. For laffs sometime, try explaining to gay white men all the privilege that they still have from the "white men" part of their identity; a lot of them don't seem to get it.
  • I had a long comment typed, but an dns error killed it. Anyways... what did I type again. This is it in a nutshell: Never was a Palin fan, will never trust her and is just as easy to corrupt as McCain. I am tired of her making use of a feminist look, but once you read what she really stands for (and I never touched her religion or experiences). DocB already referred to Marta's post, but I think an atheist in office would do wonders for democracy. I sometimes wonder how these people say that the US is a christian nation and all other forms are not important. I mean look at how conservatives bashed an economical candidate like Romney for being a mormon! Didn't the founders fled Europe to avoid such persecution. Shame on those who forget that!

    I really hope to wake up tomorrow and hear Obama has won. The US deserves someone who actually cares for this nation instead of two fake mavericks who only look after their own interest (especially Palin).
  • Just for a little entertainment on Election Day, a short introduction to Argentine politics.
    I hope/suppose you are not aware that we have a female president. This being Latin America, she was hand picked by her predesessor who happens to be -surprise!- her husband. She has had a long career in Congress and was elected last year with the support of 46% of all valid voters which means -this being Latin America- fraud, bribery, sale of votes, fraudulent campaign financing and the like. This being Argentina, an inordinate amount of time and attention is devoted to her hair style (long), her make up (heavy), her designer clothes and handbags (expensive). She calls herself liberal and tries to impersonate a Southamerican version of Hillary. Poor Hillary! Whenever she opens her mouth in public (daily) she manages to make the remaining 54% (I guess a lot more one year after her election) alternatively mad, disppointed, anguished, ready to go for the pitchfork (in our case it's pots and pans - but that deserves a little more explanation). Is it because she's a woman? Or is it because she's obnoxious, incompetent, corrupt and arrogant? You've guessed right. Don't cry for me Argentina.
    And I really laugh when I read some people calling Obama Socialist or Marxist. They have no idea what they are talking about. It's worrying that it doesn't seem to be just a couple of freaks. I do sincerely hope that he is elected and that he manages to live up to expectations (as far as he can)
  • The religious thing is frustrating, isn't it? One of my greatest hopes for Obama is that he'll cause people to redefine "Christian politician." Because he's definitely Christian, but just as definitely doesn't fit into the stereotypes.

    I think part of the problem is that religious people are so used to nominal Christians, so if you just don't care about God they would still expect you to describe yourself as a Christian. So when you say you're not a Christian they think you're something much more along the lines of a Dawkins-esque atheist.

    I think there are some very real metaphysical concerns Christians have about non-Christians, that lead back to the way the world works. The big ones are: how can you survive the really, really bad times without God? and: how can you be wise without God? Both of which lead back to this idea that without God we aren't capable of being smart or worthwhile humans.

    Or maybe I give people too much credit, and they're simply close-minded.
  • I think what makes Palin look so extremely scary is exactly the fact that she is a woman. And I don't even think it's sexist to say that because she simply throws a bad light on women in general. She makes me think "OMFG, and this person's the same sex as I am" and then let my head happily meet the wall... :-/
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