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California: Taking away rights from gay couples, giving rights to chickens since 2008

By Griffin · November 7th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I have to admit, I’m a bit stunned by the passage of Prop 8 (gay marriage ban) on California’s ballot.  It kind of scares me honestly that we live in a country where the rights of a minority group can be put up to a popular vote.  Imagine how long it would have taken Jim Crow laws to permanently fall in the Deep South if the rights of black citizens were put on the ballot for a largely white, largely hostile population to vote on.  In California, there simply aren’t enough people who can separate their faith (mostly Christian) with a legal system that should account for Americans of all beliefs.

We’ve already acknowledged as a society, through our discrimination laws, that sexual orientation is a protected status under the law.  For example, you can’t fire someone based on their sexual orientation.  Yet it is the only status that isn’t afforded marriage rights.  We don’t legally discriminate against anyone’s marriage rights based on race, gender, disability, age, or religion.  Two people of different religions or disabilities can’t be denied the right to marry.  So why do our marriage laws single out sexual orientation?  As Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic put it, “If someone wants to give me a reason why gay people shouldn’t be able to marry that doesn’t, at its root, boil down to ‘yuck,’ I guess I’d love to hear it.”

I guess I don’t understand these propositions in general though.  What’s the point of representative government if the people are voting on individual laws, voting to amend the constitution?  The night before the election, my wife and I stayed up studying, to give a final look at each proposition– the pros and the cons– before we voted.  And the hour or two we spent doing that, I guarantee you, is an hour or two more than 90% of Californians spent on it.  I’m guessing most people didn’t even realize there were propositions to vote on until they got to the booth.  So rather than our laws being passed by at least a halfway educated lawmaker who is at least accountable to someone, we get people walking into the booth and voting for “clean energy” bills without even understanding the economic cost or who those bills are really benefitting.

The other problem is when the arguments of supporters and opponents of a particular proposition basically amount to, “Nuh-uh, it won’t do that.” “Uh-huh, yes, it will.” “Nuh-uh, it totally won’t.” “That’s a complete lie, of course it will.” “No, you’re a liar.” “No, you are.”  Which is basically what the arguments for and against Prop 4– a rehab program for non-violent drug offenders– sounded like to me.  One side saying that it would provide a loophole for sex offenders and burglars to get out of jail free, another side saying it wouldn’t and that that was just a despicable scare tactic, with no way to independently verify which side was telling the truth.  And Prop 2, giving rights to farm animals at the cost of possibly driving farm business out of California.  How am I– Joe the Uninformed Layman– supposed to weigh something like that?

But back to the Prop 8 aftermath.  My other problem with all this is that somehow most of the blame for the passage of Prop 8 has fallen on the black community, a small slice of the population who voted overwhelmingly in favor of it (though the black population is so small in California that ultimately it probably wouldn’t have changed the final result, only the margin of victory).  In fact, Andrew Sullivan has pretty much spent the last two days blaming a homophobic black community for– ironically, it would seem– stripping away the rights of another oppressed minority group.  But lest we forget, it was the overwhelmingly white Mormon Church’s homophobia that conceived, executed, and funded Prop 8.  Without them, there is no Prop 8 to vote on.  So while there definitely needs to be some outreach by gays into the black community, they’d be better served through focusing on bottom-up reform and education in the religious community.  Though, good luck with that.

→ 1 CommentTags: Religion

November 4, 2008

By Griffin · November 6th, 2008 · No Comments

A few scattered thoughts from Election Day:

– I am absolutely exhausted, physically and emotionally drained.  And I only do this part-time.  I think there’s a serious case of blogger burnout going around the entire political blogosphere right now.  Sites that normally update two or three times an hour have been barely twitching since Tuesday night.  It’s like finishing a marathon and just collapsing on the pavement, unable to take another single step.  I’m glad I’m not the only one.

– So when did I start celebrating? Ohio. Obama got an early, pretty much immediate call in Pennsylvania, and that was a very encouraging sign. But Ohio was the first Bush state he flipped. At that point, McCain had no path to 270. And that’s when I started making phone calls.

– I said if Obama won just two out of the following four states, he would be president: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. He won all four.

– Wow, what a speech.  Obama’s speechwriter Jon Favreau is quickly turning into the Ted Sorenson of our generation.  Best line:

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

Echoes of Martin Luther King’s final sermon there.  I also loved the extended Ann Nixon Cooper story, punctuated by this:

So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

– Watching the events of Tuesday night unfold– especially the moment the graphic flashed on the screen that said Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States and the cut to the roaring crowds– I can only recall one other day in my life where I felt like I was having a sort of out-of-body “Am I watching a movie here or is this actually happening in the United States right now?” experience: September 11, 2001.

– Best comment of the night belonged to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo shortly after the race turned into a landslide, mocking the Clintons and the pundits (*cough!* PatBuchanan! *cough!*): “Why can’t Obama close the deal?”

– Best headline Wednesday morning belonged to the Newark, New Jersey Star-Ledger: “Obama Reaches the Mountaintop.” Runner-up, The Anniston Star in Alabama: “In Our Lifetime” (FYI I spent most of the day yesterday downloading front pages from around the world at Newseum).

– Not that anyone is counting, but here’s just one more reason why you want to take me to Vegas.  If the results in North Carolina and Missouri hold, I will have picked 49 of 50 states correctly.  The lone miss:

Missouri in the Obama column is the prediction I’m most worried about.  I think the vote there might look like it did on Super Tuesday, when the state was originally called for Hillary Clinton but was eeked out at the end by Obama.

John McCain leads there by less than 6,000 votes.  Here’s another look at the electoral map I predicted, proving once again that my raw gut instinct is in fact the most trusted name in news.

→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats

Yes. We. Did.

By Griffin · November 5th, 2008 · No Comments

November 5, 2008, and I have indeed woken up in a very different America.  More thoughts on the events of last night later.  Right now, I need to pull myself together, go to work, and try not to… well, fall asleep, do backflips, give out any awkward hugs, shed any more tears.  Note to world: We are back.  The United States of America is back.


→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats

Election Day: Get up, get out, and VOTE

By Griffin · November 4th, 2008 · No Comments

It’s been an incredibly long, incredibly hard-fought race.  Today feels like Christmas, if Christmas came once every four years.  Will America get another lump of coal in our stocking or that new bicycle?  It’s up to us.  “Progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.  Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”  So when you pray today, move your feet.

Slow blogging today, if any.  I thought about live-blogging the day, but I’d rather sit back and take it in.  There won’t be much to talk about until the results start coming in anyway.  I’m of course going out to vote, I’ll be having lunch with my wife, we’ll get our free cup of Starbucks, and– depending on the lines– our free Krispy Kreme doughnut.  And then it’s nonstop television watching and furious Web surfing.  If anything major develops, I’ll more likely be on the phone with family than here.  So, in all likelihood, I’ll see you tomorrow.  Hopefully, America– and the world– will be a very different place then.


→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · Republicans

When will it be safe for Obama supporters to start celebrating?

By Griffin · November 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

All aboard the Overconfidence Express!  While the rest of the blogosphere focuses on polls and punditry, I know what’s really on the mind of the American people: When will it be safe to pop those bottles?

Sure, you could always wait until the networks call the election, but who wants to spend those extra four or five hours (or more) writhing in agony, while all the champagne gets warm?  Yesterday, I wrote this handy little shorthand guide:

If Obama wins just two of the following four states, it’s over: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, or Florida. If Obama wins just one, he can still be saved by holding serve in the west, winning Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, or by winning just one of those states plus North Carolina. If Obama somehow loses all four– Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida– hold onto your hat. He would then need the three Western states– Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada– plus North Carolina (which could easily happen), or the Western states plus Indiana and Missouri (a scenario that is unlikely if he’s already lost Midwestern voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio).

But Nate Silver at 538 is the man with the cold hard numbers.  He adds this

[T]here are some states that truly do appear to be “must-wins” for McCain. In each and every one of the 624 victory scenarios that the simulation found for him this afternoon, McCain won Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana and Montana. He also picked up Ohio in 621 out of the 624 simulations, and North Carolina in 622 out of 624. If McCain drops any of those states, it’s pretty much over.

As far as exact times go, Silver lays out what to watch for– and when– in a must-read article for Newsweek.  Indiana and Virginia appear to be the early bellwethers:

If for some reason [Indiana] is called before 7 PM for John McCain, that probably means we’re in for a long night. If, on the other hand, the state is called for Obama in the first hour after the polls close, that could indicate that the force of Obama’s field operation has been underestimated, and that McCain is in for a catastrophically poor evening.

Virginia, for my money, is the most important state in this election. … As Obama remains about five points ahead in most polls of Virginia, what we’re really looking for is a quick call on anything before 8 PM that would indicate that the map has indeed changed from 2004, and not in McCain’s favor.

I’m predicting an electoral college landslide for Obama, so I think we get a surprise call on Florida a mere two hours after the polls close there– 9:00 p.m EST.  Obviously, Obama won’t have 270 at that point, and no one will officially call the election until some of the Western states start coming in.  But every path McCain has to 270 will be closed at that point.  To quote the great Tim Russert, the state to watch tomorrow night: “Florida, Florida, Florida.”


→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · Republicans

R.I.P. Toot– Obama’s grandmother passes away

By Griffin · November 3rd, 2008 · 2 Comments

The AP reports:

Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.

Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

“She’s gone home,” Obama said as tens of thousands of rowdy supporters at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte grew silent in an evening drizzle. “And she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side.”

I’ve always felt blessed that both my grandmothers lived to attend my wedding– one just barely. Obama still has a grandmother in Kenya, but to lose the one who raised him one day before the election has to be devastating. Best wishes to him and his family.

UPDATE: Here’s video of Barack Obama eulogizing his grandmother at a rally in North Carolina. It’s hard to see in the video, but by the end there are tears rolling down his cheeks. And somewhere, Madelyn Dunham has a much better view today than she had yesterday.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats

Which proverb will hold true for John McCain on Election Day?

By Griffin · November 3rd, 2008 · No Comments


By the way, guess which of those is one of John McCain’s favorite sayings.

→ No CommentsTags: John McCain · Republicans

Why I’m so confident in an Obama sweep

By Griffin · November 3rd, 2008 · No Comments

Taking a look at the previous post, where I predict the final presidential election result, I’m realizing that my prediction basically amounts to this: Barack Obama will win every state he’s leading in and every state that’s a toss-up, except for Montana and North Dakota.  On the face of it, that seems like a fairly, if not overly, optimistic take on things.  But here’s why I’m so confident, in four words or less: Get. Out. The. Vote.

In the last week, John McCain has pulled most of his resources out of the get-out-the-vote ground game and poured it all into television ads:

The decision to finance a final advertising push is forcing McCain to curtail spending on Election Day ground forces to help usher his supporters to the polls, according to Republican consultants familiar with McCain’s strategy.

The vaunted, 72-hour plan that President Bush used to mobilize voters in 2000 and 2004 has been scaled back for McCain. He has spent half as much as Obama on staffing and has opened far fewer field offices. This week, a number of veteran GOP operatives who orchestrate door-to-door efforts to get voters to the polls were told they should not expect to receive plane tickets, rental cars or hotel rooms from the campaign.

But television ads and robocalls don’t get people to the polls.  Cars get people to the polls.  Volunteers offering to help people get to the polls gets people to the polls.

McCain’s move isn’t completely crazy.  As Nate Silver at 538 has pointed out several times, McCain needs the polls in every state to tighten about five points to even have a shot at picking off enough battlegrounds to win the electoral college.  Television ads are more likely than get-out-the-vote efforts to have this kind of nationwide effect.  The problem is, McCain’s television ads aren’t moving the numbers at all, and he’s still down about 5 and 11 points in every national poll and tracker.  Which means that McCain is working from at least a 5-point deficit, AND he’s going to be turning out less voters.

Think of it like this.  There’s 100 voters in a room; 53 supporting Barack Obama, 47 supporting John McCain.  For McCain to win a vote from the people in that room, he has to either convince 3 or more Obama supporters to switch sides, or he has to make sure that all 47 of his people actually vote, while maybe 6 or 7 Obama supporters flake out and stay home.  McCain’s problem is two-fold: 1) In the last few weeks, he hasn’t been able to convince any of those 53 Obama supporters to switch sides; and 2) Because he put all his resources into the side-switching tactics, he now has very few resources left to get the 47 people who are on his side to actually get out and vote.  So in the end, Obama is going to use his superior ground game resources to turn out something like 50 of his supporters (a 95% turnout rate), while McCain is only going to get 42 of his supporters to show up and vote (90% turnout).  That’s an 8-point loss in a room McCain only trailed in the polls by 5 in.

I’m pretty confident that with increased African-American turnout that has amounted to a self-propelled get-out-the-vote advantage, plus the enormous ground game advantage Obama has (more volunteers, more offices, much more voter contact), that things state-by-state are going to look a lot like the hypothetical of that room.

If you need evidence of how much stronger Obama’s ground efforts are, Ben Smith is posting a lot of good anecdotal stories today from reader e-mails.  538′s “Road to 270″ series also has a lot of really good on-the-ground evidence from correspondent Sean Quinn.  And Josh Marshall posted this video yesterday of Politico’s Roger Simon on MSNBC, discussing the sheer magnitude of Obama’s GOTV advantage:

→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · Polls · Republicans

TWP’s final 2008 electoral map prediction

By Griffin · November 2nd, 2008 · 1 Comment

It’s been two really, really long years.  But in a little over 48 hours, we will most likely know who the next President of the United States will be.  Luckily for you, you don’t have to wait for Tuesday to see how the final electoral map will pan out.  From the people– me– who correctly brought you 20 of 22 picks on Super Tuesday and the Super Bowl XLII upset special (including the exact margin of the Giants’ victory), I give you Tuesday’s map:

Electoral vote tally: Barack Obama 375, John McCain 163.


Just a few notes:

– Every poll confirms that Pennsylvania is a done deal. I know McCain sees it as his last stand, and he definitely needs to win it to have any real chance at the presidency. But if it’s such a swing state, why hasn’t Obama been there in a week?

– Ohio and Florida seem to be the two battlegrounds getting the most attention from both campaigns in the final days. Ohio is one of the states hit hardest by the economic downturn, especially in the housing market, and I think that puts it over the top for Obama. The theme there, even from white voters skeptical of a black candidate, is “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And if Ohio falls, Indiana will also get swept in, by virtue of being sandwiched between the Buckeye State and Obama’s Illinois (where he’ll win by 20% or more). Florida is all ground game, and McCain is getting trounced by Obama in that respect. Kerry lost Florida by 5%; Obama will make that up in increased African-American turnout alone. Obama’s superior get out the vote effort will push it over the top.

– Early voting has locked up Nevada and North Carolina. It’ll also put Obama within three points in Georgia, though not quite close enough to win there.

– McCain’s team fumbled the ball badly in Virginia. Not only did they build no ground game, but they spent the last few weeks insulting the northern half of the state. It’ll cost them 13 electoral votes.

– Missouri in the Obama column is the prediction I’m most worried about.  I think the vote there might look like it did on Super Tuesday, when the state was originally called for Hillary Clinton but was eeked out at the end by Obama.

– If McCain is going to pull off a surprise anywhere, it’ll be the midwest states, Ohio and Indiana. Under my map, that still leaves him 76 electoral votes short.

– If you want to know when on election night you can start celebrating, here’s a guide. If Obama wins just two of the following four states, it’s over: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, or Florida. If Obama wins just one, he can still be saved by holding serve in the west, winning Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada, or by winning just one of those states plus North Carolina. If Obama somehow loses all four– Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida– hold onto your hat. He would then need the three Western states– Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada– plus North Carolina (which could easily happen), or the Western states plus Indiana and Missouri (a scenario that is unlikely if he’s already lost Midwestern voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio).

→ 1 CommentTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · Polls · Republicans

A Christian perspective on gay marriage: Why I’m voting no on 8

By Griffin · November 2nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

In case you haven’t been following it, Prop 8 is a controversial initiative on the ballot in California that would insert a ban on gay marriage into the state constitution.  I think this ad, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, hits the nail on the head:

Regardless of how you feel about gays getting married, this is America, where we fundamentally believe that all men are created equal and deserve to be treated equally under the law. It’s one thing to ban something like polygamy, where everyone is legally limited to one spouse. It’s another thing to say, “You, you, and you can all marry the person you love. You, you, and you cannot.” That’s un-American.

In the last few weeks, the pastor of my church has spoken out pretty strongly in favor of the ban. His reasoning is that God intended marriage to be between a man and woman; that gays are only 2% of the population and we can’t let a small group determine marriage laws for the rest of us; that children will be taught gay marriage in schools; and that churches would lose their tax exempt status for refusing to perform gay marriages.

My response to that reasoning is this:

First, our Christian belief that God intended marriage to be between a man and woman is our own personal faith belief, and it shouldn’t be imposed on the entire population by force of law. We’re a nation of many cultures and faiths, and our laws need to respect that fact. Imagine how Christian churches would react if Islamic groups wanted to write some kind of legal discrimination into our state constitution based on what the Koran tells them about God’s design for marriage.

Second, if gays are only 2% of the population, then what’s the big deal about giving them equal rights as Americans to marry who they choose? Banning gay marriage isn’t going to stop them from being gay or adopting children, so isn’t it actually better for them to be in committed, monogamous relationships than not? And the institution of gay marriage does not determine marriage laws for the rest of us. It doesn’t in any way affect who I can marry, the legal definition of my marriage, or the sanctity of my relationship with my wife.

Third, I don’t remember ever being taught anything about marriage in school. But even if I was taught about gay marriage as a child, what’s the problem? Does that mean I’d have been somehow more likely to grow up gay? Does that mean when I hit 12 or 13, my body chemistry somehow wouldn’t have turned me crazy about every pretty girl I saw? I just don’t see what the issue is. I guess if you believe homosexuality is a choice– a notion that both science and common sense refutes– then you could have an argument here. But even if you do, the argument still doesn’t hold water. Our schools expose children to many issues that may be outside of our personal belief systems, issues that they have the choice to embrace or not. For example, should we stop teaching children about European history for fear that they suddenly turn into Nazis or Communists? Should we stop teaching them about the Jim Crow South for fear they suddenly embrace racism? This is not to equate gay marriage with any of those things, but just to expose the utter ridiculousness of that argument.

Lastly, I am sensitive to the issue of churches losing their tax exempt status for refusing to perform gay marriages. It’s the one argument that has a bit of sway with me. But then I remember that up until 1978– 14 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed– the Mormon Church did not allow blacks to serve certain duties as priests. It wasn’t until their tax exempt status was threatened that the policy was changed. The government didn’t threaten to close the Mormon Church down or prohibit Mormons from freely practicing their faith. The government merely said, if your church wants to continue discriminating against people contrary to the laws of the United States of America, you are free to do so, but you will no longer enjoy the privileges of tax exempt status. I believe that’s fair. If the people of California use the democratic process to extend marriage rights to gays, then churches operating within the jurisdiction of the state of California should honor the law, just like they honor all other laws.

(By the way, is it a coincidence that the Mormon Church– based in Utah– is the largest contributor to California’s gay marriage ban initiative, contributing as much as 77% of the total funds donated to the campaign? That’s $8 million to $17 million of church resources that, in my opinion, could have been much better spent.)

So just like you can be a Christian and vote for Obama, you can also be a Christian and vote against a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Regardless of how you feel about gays, fighting discrimination against them or any other group of Americans is the right thing to do.

UPDATE: Here’s the short version of this post. Proposition 8 is not a referendum on whether you believe homosexuality is right or wrong, good or bad for society. It’s a referendum on whether you believe discrimination against American citizens should be written into the California state constitution for any reason.

As for my concern– and that of my pastor– that the defeat of Prop 8 could lead to churches losing their tax exempt status, that turns out not to be true. According to an amazing op-ed by the LA Times (read the whole thing), it’s just another scare tactic:

Another “Yes on 8″ canard is that the continuation of same-sex marriage will force churches and other religious groups to perform such marriages or face losing their tax-exempt status. Proponents point to a case in New Jersey, where a Methodist-based nonprofit owned seaside land that included a boardwalk pavilion. It obtained an exemption from state property tax for the land on the grounds that it was open for public use and access. Events such as weddings — of any religion — could be held in the pavilion by reservation. But when a lesbian couple sought to book the pavilion for a commitment ceremony, the nonprofit balked, saying this went against its religious beliefs.

The court ruled against the nonprofit, not because gay rights trump religious rights but because public land has to be open to everyone or it’s not public. The ruling does not affect churches’ religious tax exemptions or their freedom to marry whom they please on their private property, just as Catholic priests do not have to perform marriages for divorced people and Orthodox synagogues can refuse to provide space for the weddings of interfaith couples. And Proposition 8 has no bearing on the issue; note that the New Jersey case wasn’t about a wedding ceremony.

And commenter Randplaty wrote a long rebuttal to this post that is well worth reading in its entirety, ending his/her argument with:

In the end, that’s what it comes down to. You either believe gay marriage is a good thing or you believe it’s a bad thing.

But again, Proposition 8 is not a referendum on how you feel about gay marriage, although I suspect a lot of people will– and are entitled to– vote that way. It’s about whether one religious group’s beliefs should be imposed on everyone else. Would Christians stand by happily while Scientologists wrote their definition of marriage into California’s constitution? No. So why should everyone else defer to our beliefs?

One final word. There’s a guy at my work who, earlier this year, got married to his male partner of several years. He’s a great guy, and everyone in the office is supportive of him. Tomorrow, I get to vote on his marriage. He will never get to vote on mine. Is that fair? Is that America?

→ 2 CommentsTags: Religion

Canadian comedy duo prank calls Sarah Palin

By Griffin · November 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

First, the must-hear audio:

And the AP has the background story:

Sarah Palin unwittingly took a prank call Saturday from a Canadian comedian posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and telling her she would make a good president someday. … The call was made by a well-known Montreal comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel. Known as the Masked Avengers, the two are notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state. Audette, posing as Sarkozy, speaks in an exaggerated French accent and drops ample hints that the conversation is a joke. But Palin seemingly does not pick up on them.

As much as I love the concept, something about the execution rubs me the wrong way.  Maybe it’s because as much as I think Sarah Palin is a joke, I’m not sure how I feel about the rest of the world getting in on it.  Sarah Palin is obviously not a good look for America.  But as an American, I feel a kind of knee-jerk defensiveness of– not so much her, but maybe us, our politics.  By and large, America isn’t nearly as unserious about the world as Palin’s presence on a major national ticket would suggest.  Well, half of us anyway.

My other problem with the execution of the call is that it’s easy to rehash all the old jokes– lipstick on a pig, hunting, seeing Russia from Alaska– and just see if Palin gets it (and it’s not clear that she ever does).  But they could have really gotten some insightful cracks in there.  Imagine fake Sarkozy asking Palin what she thinks about some really important but slightly obscure recent development in, say, the Iraq War.  Or French-American relations.  It’s one thing for her to stumble through those kinds of questions from the “gotcha” liberal media elite, but how would she react to actually having to demonstrate basic foreign policy knowledge to a head of state?  It was definitely a missed opportunity.

→ No CommentsTags: Entertainment · Republicans · Sarah Palin

SNL: McCain-Palin infomercial airs on QVC

By Griffin · November 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

In case you missed it, John McCain and Tina Fey were hilarious last night on Saturday Night Live. It’s amazing how well McCain can control his facial expressions whenever Barack Obama isn’t in the room. SNL does qualify as free media, but I’m not sure if it’s the best use of McCain’s time three days before the election. Then again, Obama went trick-or-treating Friday night, so what do I know?

And here’s a pretty entertaining behind-the-scenes chat with John and Cindy McCain on their history with SNL. Check out when Cindy says something like, “It’s what I do best; I just stand there and look good.” Do I sense a little tension?

→ No CommentsTags: Cindy McCain · Entertainment · John McCain · Republicans · Sarah Palin

Barack Obama and Sarah Palin blow stuff up in new video game

By Griffin · November 1st, 2008 · 2 Comments

(via Kotaku)

If for some reason you are standing up while surfing the Internet, you should go ahead and sit down right now.  Because this is probably the coolest thing you’ll ever see.

Cashing in on election fever, EA today announced that, as part of an upcoming update for Mercenaries 2, both Sarah Palin and Barack Obama will be made available as playable characters. Palin in her trademark red jacket and hair, Obama in his trademark…suit. Sounds a little nutty, but seeing Obama punch a swarthy Venezuelan in the face is a lot funnier than you can probably imagine.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · Entertainment · Republicans · Sarah Palin

If McCain wins the election: A million and one questions

By Griffin · November 1st, 2008 · No Comments

Just a few thoughts three days before D-Day.

– Does Barack Obama regret his decision to take Sasha trick-or-treating yesterday (which actually ate up his whole day because he campaigned in the relatively safe Iowa and the relatively unimportant Indiana to stay close to Chicago)?  Or his campaign’s decision to throw resources into Arizona pretty much for no other reason than to show up McCain?

– Does it disenfranchise an entire generation of Democrat-leaning voters who will likely never want to vote again after working so hard and getting their hopes up so high?  How badly would the participation of black voters drop in the next election?  How long would it take Democrats to rebuild a coalition like that again?

– Does FiveThirtyEight go out of business?  After all, Nate Silver currently has McCain at a 2.8% chance to win the election.  2.8% isn’t zero percent, but if McCain wins, he’s gonna have a lot of splainin’ to do.  In fact, with no polls to crunch from now till the 2010 midterms, he’d probably have to spend the next year and a half laying out to his readers exactly what went wrong.  And it would be hard to get that credibility back.  It would no longer be “the website FiveThirtyEight,” but instead ”the website FiveThirtyEight, who despite a lot of fancy number crunching, famously got the 2008 election wrong.”

– Does Obama run in 2012?  Obviously, a lot of people would blame his loss on race.  With pretty much everything that matters overwhelmingly favoring Democrats this year, there wouldn’t be too many other explanations.  With that said, how long would it be before either major party, Democrat or Republican, nominates another non-white person for president?  Would Hillary have a lock on 2012 or at that point would Democrats be hesistant to nominate a woman as well?

– Does the way Republicans essentially snuck Sarah Palin into the White House change the rules of transparency in future elections?  Why should any candidate release health records or give press conferences if Palin never got punished by voters for not doing those things?  Does Andrew Sullivan’s head explode?

– Does the enormous disparity between the final polls and early voting numbers (which both overwhelmingly favor Obama) and the ultimate election result undermine America’s confidence in its democratic process?  Would the stories of electronic voting machine malfunctions and discarded voter registrations balloon into a nationwide conspiracy hunt?

– Do I get up and go to work the next day?  Does anyone?

→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · John McCain · Media · Republicans

“You cannot be a Christian and vote for Obama”

By Griffin · November 1st, 2008 · No Comments

Vote for McCain-Palin or you’re going to hell.

So says Janet Porter of the Christian right website World Net Daily in one of the most profoundly ridiculous articles I’ve ever read, titled “You cannot be a Christian and vote for Obama“:

To all those who name the name of Christ who plan to willfully disobey Him by voting for Obama, take warning. Not only is our nation in grave danger, according to the Word of God, so are you. … In one week, America will make a choice. And to those who call themselves “Christian” who are planning on voting for Barack Obama, put down the Obama talking points and read God’s voter guide before you go to the polls.

Porter goes on to quote a bunch of Bible passages out of context to make the case against Obama’s policies on gay rights and abortion before slipping directly into McCain-Palin talking points, complete with Joe the Plumber reference:

Obama will use your tax dollars to kill innocent children, and then he’ll take your paycheck and use it to “spread the wealth around.” Don’t believe me? Don’t believe Joe the plumber? Hear Barack Obama for yourself in an 2001 interview about his goal to try what the Soviets proved does not work.

At which point, Porter links to Obama’s 2001 radio interview on Civil Rights and “redistributive change” that the Drudge Report tried and failed to turn into a national scandal.  Unfortunately, it never seems to occur to her that one of the biggest advocates in history of spreading the wealth around was, um– wait for it– Jesus Christ.  Imagine if Obama had told Joe the Plumber to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor,” as Jesus instructed the rich man in Mark 10:17-22.  I think a few Republican heads would have exploded.

But back to the choice in this election. Just in case Porter isn’t making herself perfectly clear:

[T]he warning goes far beyond that. To those who think that God’s grace gives them license to willfully disobey Him without consequences – think again:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

That deals with your eternity.

Got that?  Switch your party affiliation now because, as the Bible clearly tells us in First Joe 3:16, registered Democrats will be denied entry into the kingdom of heaven.  But the irony that Porter is missing is that right-wing ideology has become so narrow that Jesus would probably be denied entry into the Republican Party.

Jesus never spoke a single word about either gays or abortion, two issues which have become pass/fail litmus tests for Republicans.  And over half of everything Jesus said dealt with the issues of money and wealth– mainly how to spread it around to care for the poor and each other.  Republicans would likely characterize the endless baskets of fish and loaves Jesus gave to “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute”and 4,000 other able-bodied people in Matthew 15:29-38 as welfare, a handout.  After all, no one in the crowd worked for it.

Jesus also turned out to be a pretty strict free market regulator the day he entered the temple and drove out the salesmen and money changers in Matthew 21:12-13.  Almost certainly, the modern-day Republican Party would brand Jesus a socialist, if not a Marxist Communist Muslim.

You could go on and on with this stuff, but my point is not whether Jesus would be a Democrat or a Republican– I don’t know if he’d even be all that interested in being an American.  My point is how utterly hypocritical and presumptuous it is for Janet Porter and the rest of religious right to believe that is God on their side, and how ridiculous it is for them to go further and claim that God will send good Christian men and women on the other side to hell.  In fact, I pretty much have a problem with anybody who goes around pointing out who they think is going to hell and who isn’t, as if the decision is in any way up to them.

So to Janet Porter or anyone else who believes that you cannot be a Christian and vote for Obama, I have three words for you:

Yes.  We.  Can.

→ No CommentsTags: Barack Obama · Democrats · Religion · Republicans