Thursday, October 02, 2008

Tonight's Must-See TV!!

Well, folks, Thursday night funnies (i.e. The Office, My Name Is Earl, etc.) are being pre-empted, but I can assure you they're being replaced by something that is WAY funnier: the vice-presidential debate! Never before in history has a televised debate between two VPs been more anticipated than this one. The last time Joe Biden was involved in a major debate, he screwed up his finish so badly he ended up dropping out of the race. And whenever Sarah Palin opens her mouth, her entire staff or handlers cringe in the corner, praying to God that He will help her shut her mouth and actually answer ONE question openly and honestly.

I think in the last few weeks it's been made extremely clear that Palin is absolutely unfit for this job. Republicans are angrily telling critics to back off, and saying Sarah is a fast learner. Uh... being next in line to the most powerful office in the world is NOT the place for on-the-job training. Tell her she's anti-feminist because she wants to take away a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body, and she'll tell you that YOU are anti-feminist and are coming down on her because she's a woman. Criticize her for having nary a clue about foreign policy, and she'll tell you that while you have to read a paper to find out what's going on over there, she just needs a pair of binoculars. Ask her about health care, and she'll tell a funny anecdote about Fred from Anchorage who once went into the hospital for gangrene and it turns out he'd just gotten green lint on his toes from his socks. Ha! Ha!... ha. Ask her if she can name a single newspaper or magazine where she gets her news from, and she'll say you're just part of the Washington elite.

Seriously. Check out this YouTube clip where Katie Couric asks her to name ONE newspaper in the world.

Note the trademark deflection, the waving of the hands, the generalization, the changing of the topic, and turning it around on Couric by making her look like she's anti-Alaskan? Don't ever accuse Sarah Palin of being an idiot: When it comes to making herself look like she has a clue when she doesn't, she's a genius. Republicans would say Katie Couric was lobbing a hard-nosed question at her and then quote some softball question she'd given Joe Biden. Give me a break. There's GOT to be a point when Republicans just take off those damn hypocrite hats and wake up and say sorry, Sarah, you've gotta go.

I initially said to friends, "If I were Joe Biden, I'd just sleep in until 5 minutes before the debate." But Biden's smarter than that. You can't underestimate a person who can win over Americans by being cute, waving a flag, and dodging every question. After all, she made it to Alaskan governor by doing the exact same thing.

One of her biggest rivals is Andrew Halcro, who debated her for the Alaskan governorship. He said often she'd be up there rambling on about something that had absolutely nothing to do with the question, and while the other candidates came to the table armed with real data and research, she had nothing more than a handy anecdote, a quick quip (what's the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom) and a biting comment about her rivals. They'd roll their eyes, only to look out at the room and see she'd entirely enraptured her audience.

Here's CNN's fact-check of her acceptance speech:

In tonight's debate, Sarah will make several gaffes (one can hope), possibly have the home audience in stitches (one can pray), but will undoubtedly have FOX News claiming that she'd hit that one out of the park, and quote from her endlessly. Middle Americans will wave their flags proudly and pat themselves on the back for allowing a woman to come *this close* to the White House. Jon Stewart will have fodder for MONTHS.

But Joe Biden has to lay off, and I'm thinking that will be his strategy. He can out-answer her on every single point, but he'll be best served not showing her up, not actually quoting facts (Republicans will say he's being mean to poor widdle Sarah if he does that), not coming down on her stance on abortion (Republicans will criticize a man for taking a stance on a woman's body, despite the fact McCain and Bush do the same thing... that's DIFFERENT, people!). So far, Biden's been able to stay pretty quiet in the campaign while loud-mouthed Sarah's been out there -- "ALASKA!!" -- digging her own little grave while McCain support dwindles. He probably needs to do pretty much the same thing. Let her stand there and make a fool of herself, or let her stand there and talk about Alaska and health care and newspapers and Russia and NATO in the most general of terms so she can trick people into thinking she actually knows something, and then give it a couple of days for the world to actually look at the transcripts, realize she didn't answer a single question, and her handlers can clean up her mess.

But knowing her, they won't be able to. One thing is for sure: Tina Fey will be watching, and I cannot WAIT to see her reenacting the debate on SNL. Remember: Joe Biden made a mistake in a campaign once and stepped down so it wouldn't hurt his party. While Republicans are quoting this gaffe endlessly (in an effort to pin ANYTHING on Biden at this point) what that showed is that he put his party first. I'm not sure Sarah would ever step down, because she wants in there so badly.

Matt Damon said it best when he said this is all like some crazy Disney fantasy movie, where a hockey mom from Alaska suddenly finds herself in the White House by accident, and begins winning over politicians and voters with her folksy charm and wisdom.

The problem is, the Disney movie isn't real. And it comes to an end. If the Republicans actually win this one, we're all doomed.


Allison said...

OMG, I love Matt Damon for saying that. He is so right.

I hope I can find somewhere to stream tonight's debate, seeing as I don't have cable.

Anonymous said...

Doomed if the Republicans win but not if a Muslim becomes president? Good one.

Nikki Stafford said...

John: Wow. Thanks for the racism so early in the morning. If you're an example of a Republican, then you've pretty much proven my point. Thanks.

Corey said...

Sweet zombie Jesus this woman scares me. If they win, it is the last nail in the coffin that is America.

Austin Gorton said...

Thanks Nikki, for always saying so eloquently what my rage about Republican hypocrisy specifically and Sarah Palin generally forces me to say incoherently.

Loretta said...

I'm really not certain that going easy on her is the way to go.

Certainly, Biden must not be snide or snarky or smug (she can do that well enough for both of them). However, when she lies (which I'm certain she will - even if we refer to it by the gentler term "bending the truth"), he needs to be able to counter what she's saying with cold, hard facts. Biden's intelligence and experience are his best assets - all he has to do is display those while still seeming kind and likable.

I do hate, however, how Republicans be sarcastic and its considered "cute" or "charming," and yet a display of actual knowledge is considered elitist.

Anonymous said...

It's not racism because Islam is not a is a choice. A person is born an Arab, is born white or black, is born Canadian or American. However they choose to be (or not to be) a Muslim, a Christian, etc.

You can try to be politically correct if you want, but history is full of examples of Muslims terrorizing the world (Munich, Chechnya, the World Trade Center...twice, etc.) Does that mean all Muslims are terrorists? No. Not all pit bulls are maneaters, either, but I wouldn't let one around my kids.

Austin Gorton said...

That's okay, John, I wouldn't let you near my kids.

Before I go wash the vomit out of my mouth, putting aside your beliefs regarding Islam for a moment, can I ask in what capacity electing Obama is the same as electing a Muslim...because the last time I checked, Obama was a Christian.

In fact, wasn't there a big to-do during the primaries over comments made by the leader of the CHRISTIAN church he attends said?

Man, he's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't with you people, isn't he?

Or is it just that because his name is Barack Hussein Obama, he MUST REALLY be Muslim, even if he says he's Christian?

The Chapati Kid said...

Mr. Tuttle,

Not all Muslims are terrorists. Just like not all Christians are fundamentalists.

Further, Obama is not Muslim. I find it quite ironic that Republicans berate Obama for belonging to the Church of Reverend Wright in one breath, and call him a Muslim as well.

Third, you must be quite the conspiracy theorist if you believe he's Muslim.

Fourth, you must be quite stupid and ignorant also.

Anonymous said...

My mistake. I guess Barack Hussein Obama is of Swedish origin.

Let me put it this way. Only the blindest of persons could disagree with the statement that a majority of the acts of terrorism that have taken place in recent history have been perpetrated by Muslims. Denying that is ignorant. If Obama isn't a Muslim, then wouldn't he consider changing his name before seeking to become the leader of a country so recently attacked by and whose chief enemy seems to be Muslims? If my last name were Hitzler and I was attempting to become the prime minister of Israel, I would change my name. Even if I wasn't German and had no allegiance to Nazis, I would recognize how that name might scare off a few Jewish people, and rightly so. If becoming their leader was so important to me, I would seek to destroy any connection, real or imagined, between me and Hitler or the Nazis.

You can say Obama is a Christian, and he may in fact call himself one. But that doesn't make it true. The facts are, he was registered as a Muslim in school and for 31 years. And Christians aren't generally in favor of abortion or gay rights, so that kind of goes in the face of your claim that he is a Christian.

I know my words aren't going to change your minds, just as yours won't change mine. You think I am a bigot; I think you are blind and ignorant. I guess only time will tell who is right.

Austin Gorton said...


America's chief enemy is Muslim EXTREMISTS, not Muslims. There's a difference, whether you want to believe it or not.

Incidentally, I'm a Christian who believes in Gay rights and the right of women to choose for themselves not to get an abortion, if that's what you mean. But I long ago realized that when I read the Bible I'm apparently reading a completely different book than a lot of Christian fundamentalists.

But you're right, nothing either of us says is going to convince the other. So I'll beg off now, a little bit sadder on the day. Time will tell, indeed...

Nikki Stafford said...

John: There must be a TV blog out there that is run by a Republican who will back your views. Please go find it. I've been running this blog for a couple of years now and I've had my share of detractors (mostly whenever I publish something in favour of a Democrat) but I think you cross the line. I've never even considered asking anyone to take a hike, but I've had it with your rantings on here, as have many of my readers if my inbox is any indication. Please take your hate elsewhere.

I challenge Palin on her ability to be president. You challenge Obama on something that's a reflection of your own bigotry. You say you're not going to change our minds, and you are absolutely correct. But what I'm trying to tell you is that you are here masquerading as a representative of Republicans. And I really hope the Republicans out there reading this are ashamed of you, and wish you'd shut your mouth, because every word you type is only hurting their cause, not helping it.

And if they're not thinking that, well, the Republican party is more lost than I thought it was. Luckily, I know a lot of smart, amazing Republicans, so I know that you're not representative of all of them. But then again, I see people as individuals, and you paint everyone with the same brush.

How dare you compare someone with a particular religion to a dog and then say you're not a bigot. Please go somewhere else.

Teebore and Chapatikid: Thank you for your comments. I've been in meetings all day and didn't realize this racist (you can call it what you want, John, but I'm afraid that's what you are, since I don't think you're picturing a Muslim with blond hair and blue eyes right now) was taking over. My apologies.

ninja raiden said...

Well spoken, Nikki.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian, if a Muslim were running, I'd say so what? However, a Muslim isn't running.

Oops. Accidently fed the troll.

The Chapati Kid said...

All I have to say is, heh heh heh.



Get lost John Tuttle. No one wants to see you here. Or anywhere else for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I will only say this...I am not a Republican, or a Democrat.

The Chapati Kid said...

Doesn't matter if you're not a republican or a democrat, tuttle. You're still an idiot and a shame to the good people of your country.

Chris in NF said...

OK, I realize I’m coming to this party late, and Nikki has already politely asked Mr. Tuttle to bugger off, but I need to ask some questions ... because honestly, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to ask someone of the Obama-is-secretly-Muslim camp where how exactly their reasoning works. So if it’s acceptable to Nikki, I’d like to ask our friend for an encore, if he’s willing to answer these nagging questions I’ve had ...

First, some issues I have with Mr. Tuttle’s logic:
“If Obama isn't a Muslim, then wouldn't he consider changing his name before seeking to become the leader of a country so recently attacked by and whose chief enemy seems to be Muslims?”

Why? Leaving aside for the moment the glaring fact that the vast majority of Muslims in the world are NOT terrorists, any more than Timothy McVeigh makes Midwesterners somehow prone to blowing up buildings, why should Barack Obama feel compelled to change his name because it is (to the Western ear) Arab-sounding? To begin with: if he had legally changed his name to Barry Hancock Oberson, and his original name came out (which, of course, it would), would you and your ilk not be screaming “COVER-UP!!!” and using the mere fact of the name change as evidence that he was/is a Muslim and trying to hide it?

“If my last name were Hitzler and I was attempting to become the prime minister of Israel, I would change my name.”

There is a new logical fallacy that has been introduced: the “reductio ad Hitlerum,” which states, simply, that invoking the figure of Hitler into any argument reveals that argument’s weakness. Obama isn’t named “Hitler” or “Stalin” or “Osama bin Laden” (as much as conservative pundits try to make us forget that there’s a “b” there) or any other sui generis tyrant. He may share a name with Saddam, but hey – so does the former CityTV weatherman Harold Hussein. Your argument isn’t that he has the name of a nasty person, but that his name sounds like a nasty person ... or rather, what our fevered imaginations imagine as a nasty person. A better analogy for you here would be whether someone named “Otto von Schnitzelpusskrackenschitemeir” could be elected prime minister of Israel.

“And Christians aren't generally in favor of abortion or gay rights, so that kind of goes in the face of your claim that he is a Christian.”

Right. I’ll just go tell my gay friends that they should plan on having their wedding ceremony in Saudi Arabia, because I hear they’re really gay friendly. Are you for real? Perhaps the Catholic church and various evangelical congregations would sooner bow to Mecca than marry gays, but we’re seeing increasingly numbers of churches accepting gay and lesbian preachers, ministers, and servicing gay weddings. Don’t make generalizations like that – they totally screw your argument, I often tell my students.

BUT. On to my questions.

You say that Obama is actually a Muslim, and that he pretends otherwise ... that he has, in fact, actively pretended to be a Christian for the better part of his life. This implies one of two things: (1) that his Muslim roots never meant much to him, for to pretend so vigorously to be Christian means that religion – any religion – is merely a handy cloak to throw on for political reasons, or (2) that his entire “Christian” life has been an active pretense, that he still secretly practices Islam, and that he is effectively a Muslim sleeper agent hoping to get himself into the White House.

OK: a few questions about the latter, which seems to be where your mind is going. First, why DIDN’T he change his name? If he is actively denying his Islamic self, wouldn’t he want to remove all traces of that?

Secondly, let’s grant the conspiracy theory for a moment: what is the grand plan?? Once in office, what then? Whatever you might believe about executive power, the American system of government is an admirable model – the president can be a very damaging presence (cf. G.W. Bush), but there is no capacity to wield absolute power. If I were an enterprising terrorist, I’d been far more keen to get my sleepers into the CIA or the Treasury. The whole idea that there is a plot afoot to elevate an Al-Qaeda operative to the most visible position in the country is simply absurd.

And before you retort that you’re not a conspiracy theorist, Mr. Tuttle, rest assured that I’m not calling you one – I’m merely taking your accusations to their logical extent. Because if this is NOT what you’re suggesting, then you have great difficulty resisting the charge of racism ... that is, objecting to someone merely on the basis of their background and their creed.

Nikki Stafford said...

Chris: I bow to you. Seriously. Your "Otto" remark just made me laugh so hard I could barely breathe. Thank you for that.

Teebore: I know you said you left work a little sadder yesterday, and that saddened me to know that a moron on my blog would have done that to you. I hope Chris's comment made today a little better for you. :)

And without addressing Mr. Tuttle, for I don't have time to talk to someone with the IQ of a gnat, I want to point out that without revealing anything too personal about myself, I am a Christian, and proud of it. And I laugh at the comment that John suggests all Christians hate gays and abortions. Apparently in his worldview, everyone is an extremist. If you're a Muslim, you're flying planes into buildings, and if you're a Christian, you're imprisoning gay people inside abortion clinics and then burning them down.

I get the very strong feeling that John Tuttle (if that's his name, which I really doubt it is) is just a troll who came up with a bunch of hateful crap to spew to see if he could get us all up in arms. Then he or she jumped to some other blogs to do it there, too. And part of me hates that we rose to it, and the other part is immensely proud of the people -- specifically Chapatikid, Teebore, and Chris -- who so passionately articulated their beliefs. Bravo to all of you!

Now I'm off to apply for a name change to Schnitzelpusskrackenschitemeir.

Just to shake things up a bit.

Anonymous said...

I am not saying that all Muslims are terrorists. But you have to admit that a lot of terrorist attacks over the last forty years have been committed by Muslims (or Muslim extremists, if you prefer). This makes Muslims "people of interest" if you will. You can call that unfair and say its racial profiling, but I say it is backed up. Not all teenagers are bad drivers, but insurance rates are still higher for them because a greater number of them are bad drivers. (And for those of you saying that I was comparing Muslims to dogs before, please look up the word "metaphor" in your dictionary.)

That being said, Obama has some deep Muslim ties, and to me, that raises a red flag. Yes, he could be a non-extreme Muslim who deeply loves America. That is very possible, just as it is possible that John McCain could be an undercover Taliban agent. But I think the opposite is more likely. You can call that stereotyping if you want, but stereotypes come from somewhere. Again, not all Muslims are terrorists and not all white geezers are good patriots. I just think a little caution should be exercised here. While a president doesn't have ultimate authortiy, he has enough that we bother electing one. If I am right, it is a much worse scenario than if I'm wrong, and therefore I think some dilligence should be observed. And since I don't share the view that McCain would torpedo America, I would rather take my chances there.

As for the whole name-changing argument, I see your point where many people would scream "cover-up" if Obama changed his name. But again, he has Muslim ties, and it would seem to me that a good way to repudiate some of these claims would be to denounce Islam. Before you scream "freedom of religion" I remind you that America was founded as a Christian nation. We certainly have the freedom to worship who and how we choose, but Christianity and Islam are not compatible, and again, this is not just a religion issue. Islam is a religion whose extremists have repeatedly assaulted this country and abhor and detest the western world and seek to destroy it...much more than extremists of any other religion. I may be operating out of fear, but seeing skyscrapers collapsing can do that to a person. If Otto whatshisname were running for prime minister of Israel and there were even just rumors that he had ties to Naziism, I would think he would do whatever he could to dispute that, and I don't think many Israelis would be content until he did.

Lastly, I want to address this issue of Christians and gay rights and abortion. Several people have claimed to be Christians and also to support homosexuality and abortion. I would ask what you mean by calling yourself "Christian." A genuine Christian is someone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ as their savior. I don't mean to preach, but the Bible is pretty clear on that, and to deny the Bible pretty much wipes away any claims at Christianity. The Bible is quite clear on homosexuality and murder too, so I would really like to know how you reconcile faith in Christ Jesus and approving of either of these practices. Going to church and giving onself a label does not make a person a Christian.

Nikki, I will respect your wishes and not post again unless you sanction it.

Austin Gorton said...

I'm reluctant to keep this going...but I can't resist. Nikki, feel free to put the kibosh on this whenever.

First of all, if the Muslim extremists have made all Muslims "people of interest" for you, then all the Christian fundamentalists who blow up abortion clinics, the Timothy McVeighs of the world, and the various KKK members make Christians "people of interest" to me. I wouldn't want any of them running the country any more than I would an extremist Muslim...but I'm okay with the moderate representations of either faith being elected.

Secondly, I'm not in favor of abortion. I hope that no one would ever need an abortion, but I also believe that the government doesn't have the right to tell a woman she can't ever have one; women should have the right to say no themselves.

Finally, I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, teaching that I understand to be teachings of love, tolerance and acceptance, even of our enemies, even of people with whom we disagree.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, not to love our neighbors unless they're homosexual, Muslim or otherwise different.

But I've long ago excepted that the Bible I read, and the teachings of Jesus I follow, are somehow vastly different from a seeming majority of other Christians'.

As we've said, nothing anyone says here is going to change anyone's minds. I mainly just wanted to respond to your attacks on my faith.

Chris in NF said...

Well said, Teebore. I don't have much to add to that other than to say that John, your analogies here are weak to the point of being absurd. I'm thinking here specifically of comparing insurance rates for teenagers to the greater Muslim "tendency" to carry out terrorist acts. That isn't just apples and oranges, it's apples and chartered accountancy. "Terrorism" is a much more slippery term than how it's employed by Bush & co., and the claim that on average Muslims carry out more acts of terror than other groups comes from ... where? By what criteria do you figure this? Part of our problem is that our popular culture has so firmly established the "terrorist" as Arab that we tend to forget about the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Brigade, the Irish Republican Army, Basque separatists, the Tamil Tigers, the Minutemen, pre-Israel Jewish terrorism in Palestine, the Viet Cong, Timothy McVeigh and company, and indeed my own country's mercifully short-lived Front de liberation du Quebec. And what about "legitimate" terror tactics, like carpet-bombing? What was "Shock and Awe" but the deliberate attempt to terrorize the Iraqi populace?

I'm not making Noam Chomsky's argument that the US is a terrorist state, mind you (though it has sanctioned it on occasion -- think about Central America, or the funding of the Mujahadeen against the USSR ... it's only when those fellows turned against us that they went from being freedom fighters to terrorists). I am, rather, trying to point out to you that you have some pretty simplistic bases of understanding.

I myself am *not* a practicing Christian -- I was raised Catholic and have consciously lapsed -- but to suggest as you do that "Christian" is somehow an unproblematic identity that necessariy entails a narrow set of beliefs and practices is frankly just stubbornly ignorant. There is a vast gulf between an end-times evangelical, a post-Vatican II Catholic or a liberal Episcopalian ... indeed, it is exactly this kind of gulf that produced two sets of this century's most vicious terrorists, the IRA on one hand and the various Protestant paramilitaries on the other.

The same goes for the gradations within Islam. When you start painting nigh on one billion people with the same brush, you only reveal an inability or unwillingness to think beyond anything more complicated than an us versus them mentality.

Nikki Stafford said...

Ugh, I'm reluctant to keep this going, too, but... well, ditto to what Teebore said.

And speaking of which, I couldn't have said it any better myself (same goes for you, Chris).

I think it's sad that some people believe the world is full of extremists. It's not. Someone blows up an abortion clinic or ties a gay man to a fence in the name of "Christianity" and suddenly it's making the news, and certain people sitting at home watching say, "Huh. So I guess THAT'S what Christianity is, Mildred. Hm. And here all these years I thought I was a Christian. Cancel my dentist appointment for tomorrow, Mildred... I gotta go find me a gay kid to beat up."

A Muslim blows himself and a city centre up in the name of Allah, and all the news agencies report on it and that same guy sits at home saying, "Didja hear that, Mildred? Another Muslim went and blew stuff up. I haven't heard a single thing yet saying something a good Muslim did. Must mean they're all terrorists. After all, all terrorists are Muslims, so... same thing."

Of course, forgetting how a few years earlier he and Mildred saw the news of how Timothy McVeigh blew up Oklahoma. Hm. Guess he was a Muslim.

All bananas are yellow. Does that mean all yellow things are bananas? Because in your narrow-minded world view, they are.

The bible says "Love thy neighbour." It doesn't add, "Unless he be gay. Then, thou may smite him." The Qu'ran doesn't say you should blow up buildings.

It's all in the interpretation. Some people listen to Marilyn Manson at high volumes as a form of escape, or simply because it rocks. Other people re-interpret it to fit their narrow and scary worldview, and then go and shoot up a high school.

The world is actually full of moderates. A very select and unfortunate few are extremists. Typically, extremists are dangerous people because they don't see outside of the narrow interpretation of events they've set out for themselves. But these extremists are also the ones who are out there making noise, and people like you, who clearly have never met either a Muslim or a Christian before, believe those people to be typical of the larger picture. And they're not. They're the extreme versions of them.

I know you're looking at us all like we're a bunch of sad, pathetic people with rose-coloured glasses who believe unicorns exist. But luckily, we're not. You, on the other hand, need to get out more. Meet some people. You'll find the world isn't the conspiracy-laden, horrible place you've made it out to be, where faith is simply a mantle of terror and not something that brings comfort, which is actually does.

The world is generally a good place. Smell a rose or two. Watch a sunset. Check out Pushing Daisies. You'll see there really are some things to be happy about.

Austin Gorton said...

Well said, Nikki. Thanks.