Friday, September 28, 2012

The Romney Campaign

Have you been keeping up with the awesomeness that is the Romney campaign? Peggy Noonan, a conservative, called it a "rolling calamity." The incompetence is breathtaking.

I mean, he put on self-tanner to go talk to a Latino audience. And check out this video, where Joe Scarborough facepalms and can only say, "sweet Jesus," after watching some footage of Romney and Ryan acting like fools at an Ohio campaign event:

Rachel Maddow has pointed out that for weeks after the Republican convention, every time Romney did an interview his campaign had to walk back at least one statement he made, and so they started hiding their candidate. In the home stretch! No, wait, not hiding him. He was "doing debate prep." Yeah. Maddow also pointed out that he has spent a lot of time still fundraising rather than campaigning in the swing states. His campaign already has more money than God. He doesn't need more money. He needs to be out campaigning.

And then there was the great airplane window thing. Romney doesn't understand why the windows on passenger jets don't roll down. It's because the goddamned plane is pressurized, dumbass, and if you roll the windows down everyone will suffocate. There's not enough oxygen up there to breathe. (You won't actually get sucked out the window, BTW. They tested that on "Mythbusters.")

A few months ago, it looked like this was an election, given the state of the economy and the President's approval rating that this was an election the Republicans should win. But now Romney, rather than being the tide that raises all boats, is the dam break that beaches them, is pulling down Republicans running in statewide races such that it is not only likely the Democrats will remain the majority in the Senate (I refuse to say "control the Senate" since any party with fewer than 60 votes there does not "control" it in any meaningful way), but they may actually retake the House. Mid-term elections are almost always disasters for the President's party. But Romney is sooooo bad a candidate that he is managing to trump all the these factors in order to lose.

I can't prove this, 'cause I didn't make a post, but I told my girlfriend that the Democratic Convention would give Obama a 5-point bump. The pundits were saying 1 or 2 points, if any. Well, guess what? The bump was 5 points. So now, mark my words: the first debate will pretty much be the end of the Romney campaign. He is going to get clobbered, and he won't be able to recover. No way.

Oh, and did you see that Romney is down by 12 points in Wisconsin??? Paul Ryan's home state, and the state that put Scott "fuck the unions" Walker back in the governor's mansion? And Romney is losing there? Jesus, his campaign is just fucking awful.

I Might Lose My Mind

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said in a press conference on September 19th, (scroll to the bottom),  Freedom of expression should be and must be guaranteed and protected, when they are used for common justice, common purpose. When some people use this freedom of expression to provoke or humiliate some others’ values and beliefs, then this cannot be protected in such a way." 

Oh my fucking Jesus Haploid Christ. What kind of freedom of expression can there possibly be if you can't criticize or attack others' values and beliefs? And values and beliefs people hold are not the fucking same as the people who hold them. Ban Ki-Moon is conflating two separate things here. It is not possible to provoke or humiliate a value or a belief. Values and beliefs are not animate things. For that matter, they are not material things, but anyway. Attacking a value or belief may make people holding them feel attacked, but they are not, in fact an attack on those people. 

Someone may choose to feel humiliated or provoked when their values or beliefs are attacked. I know sometimes I do; I'm human, it happens. But just because someone feels they are being attacked doesn't mean that we have to respect that feeling and agree they were attacked. When my family decides to argue politics with me and they attack Obama and his policies, for instance, I feel attacked. But they aren't actually attacking me. My feeling is wrong. I am associating myself too closely with my beliefs. How can issues even get discussed if criticism of beliefs and values is not allowed?

And what's especially vexing is that Ban Ki-Moon would actually give values and beliefs greater protection from criticism than actual goddamned people. Because virtually everyone agrees freedom of speech and expression includes the right to criticize others. I'm sure Ban Ki-Moon doesn't deny I have the right to criticize him, for instance. So it's okay to criticize an actual flesh-and-blood person, but not a value or belief? Simply because a lot of people hold it? That's bullshit. A value or belief doesn't become more true or have more value the more people who hold it. No matter how many people believe Saddam was behind 9/11, that Obama wasn't born in the US, or that Mitt Romney follows Satan because he's Mormon, it still isn't fucking true. And no matter how many people believe it, I have the right to criticize it.

I mean, a lot of Americans, perhaps even a majority, have some pretty fucked up views of Islam. They think that all Muslims are required to try to put Sharia law in place, and to kill infidels, and all sorts of other bullshit. Some Muslims believe these things are true, but most don't. But if we were to take the position that values and beliefs are sacrosanct, then we couldn't even point out what bullshit those beliefs are. Because we'd be "provoking" and "humiliating" the ignoramuses who hold them. That's bullshit too.

Many Muslims get angry and feel attacked when anyone says anything critical of Mohammed. Fair enough. I get angry sometimes when people criticize "Doctor Who" or "Community." You know what? Tough shit. My right to freedom of speech cannot be controlled by how angry it might make someone one else, even if they're a big group like Muslims, no more than anyone else's freedom of speech can curtailed because I don't like people criticizing "Doctor Who." 

Religious values and beliefs are no better or worse than any other kind, no matter how fervently their adherents cling to them. They deserve no special protection. When they make truth claims, as they often due, those claims can and should be scrutinized just as any other truth claim. It may be vitally important to Muslims to believe that Mohammed flew to Jerusalem and ascended to Heaven from the Temple Mount, but that doesn't change the fact that he never set foot in Jerusalem his entire life. And it shouldn't be illegal for me to say Mohammed never set foot in Jerusalem just because it might hurt someone else's feelings.