A Hand in Our Future

Obama’s Speech – This right here is the point of it all:

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

If you’re looking for a difference between Democrats and Republicans, this is it: the Republican party does not think we are better than this. These last eight years? That was on purpose.  The GOP doesn’t think Americans are worthy of Universal Health care, a 21st century infrastructure or any of the other qualities that mark a modern democracy.

The GOP would rather sell off our economy, piece by piece, just to pad the bank accounts of their friends. They want to privatize as much of the government as possible, so that you and me can’t have a say in the future shape of our country. They’d rule us like Medivil Prince’s if they could.

Some of them genuinely think humans as a species aren’t worthy of such liberties, that we were born into a state of ignorance and depredation that should persist, because it is a voodoo curse. Others just think they’re better than the rest of us and so should have more of everything.

Never forget: the Republican Party likes the results of the Bush Administration so much, that they nominated McCain to perform his third term.

And that’s why I’m voting for Obama. Because I disagree. I think we can and will be better.

But Ours Go To Eleven

So, McCain chose a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus as his running mate. How… apt. This means we are one step closer to having a real life Ministry of Silly Walks, though being the US, we’ll call it a Bureau and it’ll be headed by a Czar. Because 21st Century America = 19th Century Russia, as any historian will tell you.

Originally posted on twitter.

Update: It seems I was misinformed. McCain’s Veep is in fact Sarah Palin, a pro-life, pro-gun* homophobe, not a famously well traveled comedian and writer. Or British.

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* Pro life and pro-gun: You have the right to own a gun but not use it for it’s intended purpose. Also applies to vaginas.

But Hellboy Has a Kickass Health Care Package

When The Dark Knight came out, there were a few bloggers who saw an authoritarian/Conservative bent to the character. Similar things were said about Iron Man being a shill for the Military Industrial Complex and Superman as a tool of Jingoism. Pretty much any super hero movie gets parsed for liberal/conservative bias. And while there are any number of valid ways to interprit a story, looking at super heros throught he lens of poitics always irked me, but I couldn’t quite explain why.* Luckily, John August has given it some thought as well and explains the issue far better than I could:

Efforts to place TDK’s Batman on a real-world political spectrum are doomed. Sure, he’s tough on crime, but he’s also anti-gun. He holds himself outside the law, but destroys his own phone-tapping technology. Is he a Conservative? A Liberal?2 A Libertarian?

Nope, he’s just Batman. And as a comic book character, he’s allowed to hold simultaneous incompatible philosophies.

Exactly. Batman can be all these things because he is hyper-real. He’s not a citizen or a politician running for office, he’s a psychologically complex avatar, a stand in we can use to explore larger, slightly abstract concepts about Freedom, Free Will and Justice. If you saw The Dark Knight and all you saw was a Billionaire exercising his authoritarian impulses without restraint, then you were sitting way too close to the screen.

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* Also, Bruce Wayne, Billionaire Playboy would never vote. It’s out of character for the disinterested playboy persona. He can buy whatever freedom he needs, which is a decidedly Republican attitude, but one that would go completely unacted upon, outside of large donations to the popular DA who doesn’t relaly need the gesture. And Batman, while concerned about the plight of the pooor and the disenfranchized, wouldn’t bother pulling the Democrat lever, as he knows all polititians are crooked and fallible.So there.

Cake or Death. Oh, and We’re All Out of Cake.

Fafnir explains exactly why I can’t get excited by the Veepstakes:

  • an old rich white guy who likes to bomb brown people
  • a rich old white guy who likes to bomb brown people
  • an elderly gentleman of the Caucasian persuasion with a great deal of personal wealth who, in his spare time, likes to bomb brown people
  • the manticore, a fanciful beast with the body of a lion, the tail of a scorpion and a deep personal commitment to prison reform
  • a slightly younger rich white guy who likes to bomb brown people
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if this year, we actually had a choice consisting of different but qualified candidates who offered a wide selection of alternate ideas to various problems, rather than one idea for all problems from a mostly indistinguishable cast of rich white men? Yeah, maybe in ’12.

    A New Approach to Iraqi Records Management

    Remember all those Baathist records that were lost from the Iraqi National Library during the invasion? Well, funny story:

    A lot worse things have happened in Iraq, but the removal of the Baath Party archives from the country — 7 million pages that undoubtedly document atrocities of the Saddam Hussein regime — is significant. The documents were seized shortly after the fall of Baghdad by Kanan Makiya, an Iraq-born emigre who teaches at Brandeis University and heads a private group called the Iraq Memory Foundation. Despite protests from the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archives, the documents were shipped to the U.S. in 2006 by Makiya’s foundation and in June deposited with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University under a deal struck with Makiya.

    The move was criticized in both countries. The Society of American Archivists said seizing and removing the documents was “an act of pillage” prohibited under the laws of war. Iraq’s acting minister of culture, Akram H. Hadi, issued a statement in late June expressing the Iraqi government’s “absolute rejection” of Makiya’s deal. The documents “are part of the national heritage of Iraq,” the statement declared, and must be returned to Iraq promptly.

    Given the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the millions of refugees, why should anybody care about Iraq’s archives? It comes down to whether you care about what happens to Iraq. It’s part of its cultural patrimony. It’s part of its ability to hold the previous regime accountable.

    About 100 million other pages of Iraqi government documents are still in the hands of the U.S. military after being seized during the fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction. The documents now at the Hoover Institution were taken from the Baath Party Regional Command Headquarters in Baghdad and are particularly significant because they almost certainly reveal who secretly collaborated with Hussein — politically explosive information.

    How did one man get possession of the entire Baath Party archives?

    Makiya is best known not for his foundation or his 1989 book “Republic of Fear,” but rather for his crucial role in convincing Americans — particularly leading journalists — to support a war to overthrow Hussein. “More than any single figure,” Dexter Filkins wrote in the New York Times last October, Makiya “made the case for invading because it was the right thing to do.” Makiya was an ally of Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, and gained fame for a face-to-face meeting with President Bush two months before the U.S.-led invasion during which he said American troops “will be greeted with sweets and flowers.”

    So, to review: the guy who wrote the book (literally) on why we should invade Iraq, who also filled the heads of our top decision makers with fantasies about how we would be received and has numerous close ties to every shady character in the Bush administration who stands to profit from the invasion, either directly or indirectly, has control over the documents that might show who in the US government was aiding and abetting Husein in previous decades (I’m looking at you, Cheney*). But I’m sure it’s all a coincidence. Why would you think there was some sort of corrupt, back patting scheme going on here?

    If the Hoover Institution continues to refuse the Iraqi government’s demand for return of the archives, the U.S. government, which improperly gave Makiya permission to collect and remove the documents, ought to insist that those records belong to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. It’s up to the Iraqis to decide what to do with them.

    And I’m sure we’ll just send them right over, just as soon as Bush and Chaney have redacted all the stuff that implicates them or their cronies in any wrong doing made them look pretty.

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    *Funny thing: I am in fact looking at Dick Cheney most of the day as there is a picture of him in my new office with a personalized greeting, welcoming me to my new job. And people say we librarians don’t have a sense of humor.

    What’s The Frequency, Bob?

    So, I’m watching the woman’s gymnastics on NBC and in between events they go to some commentary by Bob Costas and George W. Bush. Seriously. Our president is babbling on about sports/politics with Bob in the context of how well China is doing hosting the Olympics. And now they’re talking about religion and how great it is and how that’s what China needs more of. Right becuase having lots of religious fervor has just been a great boon for everyone. And now they’re on to Putin and Russia invading Georgia and how bad that is and it’s all on a fucking sports show!

    Is it November yet?