Friday, October 31, 2008

Liars for Kurt Hayes!

So there's this whole kerfuffle going on in the Benson/Hayes race in the 37th district. I was going to write about it last night, but I got distracted. I didn't really feel like it anyway.

However, today I discovered some dipshit commenter lying about Benson in a comment on my earlier post about Kurt Hayes. You have him/her to thank for this post. (*)

See, I'm not heavily invested in this race. I wrote about it before primarily because Hayes' secret agenda is disturbing and deserved to be publicized a bit. I will write about it today because I really, really hate liars. And there are a lot of them involved in all this.

Okay, on to business.

There have been two articles in the Worcester Telegram lately about a conflict between the Benson & Hayes camps.

The first was titled simply GOP group’s tactics blasted. Here's the gist:
At issue is a House bill that would take $450 million from the state’s stabilization fund, divide it up and return to the 352 cities and towns. It would be a one-time transfer, and communities would have to function without it the following year.

Ms. Benson said the Republican Town Committee in Shirley, a district town, released a statement on its Web site claiming that she is opposed to returning the money to the cities and towns. Mike Mackin, her campaign manager, said the Shirley town committee took a statement made at a debate, cut it in half, and fabricated her stance on returning the money.

“They knowingly made it up. I guess that’s what you do when you can’t win based on an honest discussion of issues,” Mr. Mackin said.
Seriously, this was a dumb thing to complain about. The Shirley RTC clearly has a Capuchin monkey of less-than-average intelligence running its website. It could have been ignored and we would have all been better off. Alas, this was not to be, and now everyone's pissing me off and I'm writing a long post about it. Grr!

Here's the offending bit from the Shirley RTC website:
Jen Benson with her elitist and condescending attitude, [Sic] saying in one instance that she was not clear on releasing the 450 million to [Sic] then later supporting it saying that BEACON HILL said the local officials were not smart enough to realize this was a one time increase…
Blah blah blah "elitist" blah blah blah bullshit. I can't even put in all the [Sic]s that deserves, because you wouldn't be able to read it.

So this barely-literate thing above is an issue of contention. Because it's a lie. You can see what Benson said for yourself, though it's not exactly exciting viewing:



Basically yeah, she supports releasing the money. Pretty clear.

What was Kurt Hayes' response?
Mr. Hayes said last night he had no idea what Ms. Benson is talking about, and has no input into what goes on the Shirley Republican Town Committee Web site. He said he was the driving force to get the bill to give the money to communities placed as referendums on local ballots in all six district towns.

“She has stated that she is in support of it, but I’ve not seen any evidence of that,” he said.
Apparently that guy sitting right next to Benson in the clip above wasn't Kurt Hayes. Or maybe he didn't bother paying attention to what she was saying. That would explain why he has no idea what's going on. Was he high, maybe? That might explain why he thinks that Benson stating she's in support of it doesn't count as "evidence" that she supports it.

Or he's just a liar.

That article was later followed by the aptly-titled State Republicans weigh in to bolster attack on Benson. Here's the attack:
[State GOP douchewad Barney] Keller contended that Ms. Benson has said in videotaped forums that some legislators are against the one-time transfer because the money would be gone the next year, yet could be figured into operating budgets for future years. He said she needs to reveal which legislators took this position.
What?

What the hell kind of lame attack is that? They're whining that Benson wasn't specific enough about something she said? Something that's totally unrelated to the issue at hand, which is that the Shirley RTC was lying about her stance on releasing that money to local communities.

Oh, it's not really an attack at all. It's a "we got caught lying so this is how we'll cover our asses" move.
“Jen Benson should immediately disclose which legislators she talked with (who) don’t trust cities and towns to handle receiving millions of dollars in local aid. The public deserves to know which of our legislators don’t trust our communities to handle tax dollars. If she will not disclose who she has spoken with, then she should apologize for her outrageous negative attack on Kurt Hayes,” Mr. Keller said.
Oh? Why the fuck should she disclose this to you? So you can run attack ads against them? So you can twist their concerns about temporarily inflated budgets around into not "not trusting our communities"?

Because it's not like it matters. And it's not like it's the issue. Way to try to change the topic! How about condemning the lies of your own party? No? Didn't think so.

The Shirley folks have a little update about all this. Allow me to reprint it for you!
NOTE; The Shirley Republican Town Committee would like to clarify one portion of our endorsement and comment

1. We are deeply appreciative of the Benson team taking time in their busy election effort to review our web site.
Sarcasm? All well and good if this were on a blog or something. But on the official Shirley Republican Town Committee website? Not classy.
2. The WORCESTER T/G [Sic] indicated they tried to contact the "Chair, who was unavailable for comment" [Sic] A false statement as the chair was available on 28 October 2008, [Sic] all evening when the contact was supposed to have been made.
Damn that liberal media!

Wait a second, where does that quote come from? The article from the 29th only says: "Ms. Dumont could not be reached last night."

Maybe it was updated after the fact? Someone with a hard copy of the paper want to check that out? Or maybe it's just another lie...
3. We are providing a link OFF OF Ms. Benson's Web site, EDITED by the Benson people. The readers may go to that link and view exactly what Ms. Benson said and did not say and like all people desiring to be educated voters, make up their own mind based on Ms. Benson's own words http://jenbenson.org/lottery.html.
Listen, people. If you're going to run a website, learn to write. The link is not "OFF OF" Benson's site. It's on Benson's site. It's only "EDITED" in the sense that it's a segment of the debate instead of the whole entire thing, which nobody would ever bother to watch anyway because it would be painfully boring.

I think the second sentence of that part was written by a Nigerian 419 scammer. Or Jerome Corsi.
4. We also note that Team Benson did not provide a full tape of the Shirley Debate or the two questions in the Lunenburg Debate referencing the lottery funds in general. Nor did they respond to Bensons [Sic] endorsement of expending taxpayer funds on illegal's [Sic] nor any of the other funds she desires to expend and the spending she wants to expand in the current Massachusetts fiscal crisis. The RTC STAND behinds [Sic] our endorsement of all three candidates as listed below, for the reasons listed below;
Why the hell should team Benson provide you assholes with anything? They could give you every bit of footage out there and you'd just claim she was holding something back.

You're the people making the ridiculous claim. You're the ones who have to back it up. If you can't back it up, I'll just keep calling you liars. Because you're liars.

Also, learn how to fucking punctuate.

Let's round up all the liars!
  • First, there was my dumb commenter.
  • Second, there was the Shirley Republican Town Committee.
  • Third, Kurt Hayes is either a liar or just incapable of paying attention to what his opponent was saying during the debate (so a moron).
  • Fourth, that Keller guy from the state GOP didn't so much lie as try to draw attention away from the lies already being told by whining about something totally unrelated. Still gets listed for being an accomplice.
That's a lot of liars! And they all support Kurt Hayes, the choice of lying assholes everywhere!




*Note to dipshit commenters: This isn't Save Fitchburg. I have a very low tolerance for liars and idiots. I very rarely delete comments, but will do so without hesitation if you really piss me off. More likely I'll just make fun of you for being an idiot. Either way, don't waste your time. This picture is all you get.


**Note to non-dipshit commenters: I love you guys. Thumbs up for you!

Fuck you, North Carolina

Well, I guess I can add North Carolina to the list of states where I'm not welcome.

Apparently the big political issue there is how much atheists suck. Here's Elizabeth Dole's attack ad on Kay Hagan.



In keeping with the way people always do these things, I ask you to replace atheists in that ad with Jews, or Christians, or Zoroastrians, or whatever belief system it is you follow.

If we use Judaism, it would go something like this:
Scary Voiceover: "A leader of the Jewish Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor."

Jewish Lady: "Jesus was just a man. Not the son of God."

Scenes of Bill O'Reilly asking Jewish man if he accepts Christ's divinity, to which Jewish man responds "no".

Scary voiceover: "Jewish Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took Jewish money. What did Hagan promise in return?"

Mystery voice: "I'm a Jew!"
Yeah, that wouldn't make it to air.

Nor would it make it to air if they used Christians. It might make it to air if they used Muslims, but would probably get a lot of criticism.

But hey, attacking atheists is fine! Kay Hagan doesn't even seem to have a problem with it, she just doesn't want our dirty godless cooties rubbing off on her.



Gee, thanks Kay. That "bearing false witness against fellow Christians" thing sure sucks.

Hey, you know what else sucks? Bearing false witness against anybody!

It would have been really nice if Hagan had had the strength of character to point out that there's nothing wrong with atheists. That we're citizens and we vote and there's absolutely nothing wrong with hanging out with us or taking our "godless money".

You know, sort of like how Colin Powell's pointed out that there's nothing wrong with being Muslim. It shouldn't be a smear to be called a Muslim, nor should it be a smear to be called an atheist.

It's also worth noting that atheists in this country outnumber Jews and Muslims put together. We may not be the best group to piss off if you want votes.

Fuck it, I'm going to go watch that bikini video again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time Out

Too much politics. Enjoy this video instead. It is the happiest thing in the world.

John McCain is a Socialist!

Here's a boring video of John McCain answering some idiot's question about progressive tax policies.



That's right, folks. John McCain is totally in favor of the redistribution of wealth. This is also true of every other politician in the country (except maybe Ron Paul, who is a moron). McCain even explicitly states that it's not Socialism!

As for Palin, she's said this:
“Alaska was conceding too much, and chipping away at our sovereignty. And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.”
"Share the wealth," huh? Socialist!

So why do McCain and Palin keep accusing Obama of being a Socialist for supporting progressive taxation, when they also support it (along with the vast majority of the population)?

Because they're filthy liars, of course. Duh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Focus on the Family's Gay Obama Fanfiction

Lately I've been taking a perverse pleasure in listening to conservative talk radio and skimming through conservative websites. Virtually everyone at this point realizes that McCain is about to go down in flames, and all the conservative nuts are going apoplectic over it.

Some approach it in a relatively sensible way, talking about what needs to be done to rebuild the conservative movement into something that isn't quite so ridiculously inept. Lucky for liberals like me, they're clueless about how to actually do it. Still, at least they're trying, bless their tiny lizard brains.

Others can't quite get to that level of acceptance and just spend their time ranting about how an Obama presidency will mean the end of the world. It's like talking to someone who's really drunk while you're perfectly sober. Entertaining for a little while, then mostly just sad and annoying.

Then there are yet others. Those who take it even beyond the ranting. Those like Focus on the Family, who actually write an hilarious sixteen-page pseudo-science fictiony letter from the future!

Specifically, it's from "A Christian from 2012." That scary future dystopia after one term of an Obama presidency!

It's totally obsessed with gayness, which is what makes it quite entertaining to me. There's a little bit in there about wars and guns and shit too, but it's about 60% about how scary the world will be when future Christian might not be allowed to discriminate against gay people.

Allow me to sum it up for you.

Obama will put liberals on the Supreme Court. They will say you're not allowed to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. This will eliminate our precious freedom of being assholes to gay people. Also, the Boy Scouts are disbanded and Iran nukes Israel! Exciting!

Some choice quotes:
Suddenly, homosexual “marriage” was the law of the land in all 50 states, and no state legislature, no state Supreme Court, no state Constitutional amendment, not even Congress, had any power to change it. The Supreme Court had ruled, and the discussion was over. This was a blatant example of creating law by the court, for homosexual “marriage” was mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, nor would any of the authors have imagined that same-sex “marriage” could be derived from their words.
Physicians who refuse to provide artificial insemination for lesbian couples now face significant fines or loss of their license to practice medicine... As a result, many Christian physicians have retired or left the practices of family medicine and obstetrics & gynecology. Lawyers who refuse to handle adoption cases for same-sex couples similarly now lose their licenses to practice law.
Church buildings are now considered a “public accommodation” by the Supreme Court, and churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples. If they refuse, they lose their tax-exempt status, and they are increasingly becoming subject to fines and antidiscrimination lawsuits.
A cruel vision of the future indeed! Nothing is more horrifying to your average American than the thought of a church losing its tax-exempt status!

I suspect this is just the first in a series. In the next installment, expect our intrepid future Christian to be trapped in a bathhouse by a roving gang of Obama-supporting sodomites. They'll force him to watch lavish Broadway musicals while tweezing his eyebrows, and maybe do some interior decorating.

Future Christian will struggle against this devious homosexual agenda as long as he can, until eventually even he has to give in and accept hot, hot gay sex the gay lifestyle. Which will be forced on him against his will, which he totally never spends time fantasizing about.

Never. Not once. Really.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Myth of a Conservative Central Mass.

Having grown up and first become politically aware in the Fitchburg area, I can't count the number of times I've heard people describe central Massachusetts as "conservative."

Liberals have complained about it, just as conservatives have lauded it. Both I think recognized that central Massachusetts is a bit more conservative than the Boston area or western Mass.

Hopefully they also realized that being more conservative than those two very liberal areas isn't saying much. It's not like central Mass. is on par with central Alabama or anything.

Still, a superficial look at the local media might lead the casual observer to believe that the Fitchburg area is actually conservative.

There's a crappy conservative newspaper, we've had some far-right radio hosts on local stations, and the cranky conservative contingent is quite good at leaving their wingnutty comments all over the local internet. The local blog authors are still mostly moderate or liberal-leaning, but the commenters can be batshit crazy.

What this all brings me to is this article in the Worcester Telegram. It's about the presidential race and the money going into it from central Mass. Seems Obama is by a large margin the favorite of this supposedly "conservative" section of the state.

For instance:
Through September, 364 residents of Worcester, Fitchburg, Leominster, Auburn, Shrewsbury and Westboro made 1,173 contributions of $200 or more to Mr. Obama’s campaign totaling $192,749. That amount is almost three times the $72,809 that 101 McCain supporters in those communities gave in 193 contributions of $200 or more in that same time period, according to campaign filings with the Federal Election Commission.

In Southbridge, alone among the seven communities, Mr. McCain out-raised Mr. Obama, collecting $7,650 from three donors to Mr. Obama’s $1,259 from five donors.

Throughout the state, Mr. Obama received $12.1 million in campaign contributions through August, more than triple Mr. McCain’s $3.6 million in contributions, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ Web site.
Yep, Obama more popular than McCain. Shocking news, right? Apparently only Southbridge even gives a shit about McCain, and that mostly looks like three rich Republicans and not some sort of groundswell of support.

When it comes to Fitchburg, we find an even bigger difference.
Keith Stone, a 46-year-old Fitchburg resident, who retired last year, contributed 14 times to Mr. Obama’s campaign, giving a total of $640.

Mr. Stone said Mr. Obama should be president because he will change current political policies.

“To have John McCain admit on TV that he voted 90 percent of the time with the president showed that voting for him is like asking for another four years of the same policies,” Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Stone said residents of Fitchburg, whose mayor may turn off certain streetlights to help manage the city budget, cannot afford four more years like recent ones. He and 18 other Fitchburg residents contributed $9,691 through Sept. 30 to Mr. Obama through 120 contributions, more than 12 times the amount given to Mr. McCain in the same period in that city.
Twelve times! Holy crap!

Really, this shouldn't be surprising. Fitchburg elected Deval Patrick with an even bigger percentage than he got in the general election. It elected Lisa Wong in a landslide. It is basically a pretty liberal town, at least as far as its voting record goes.

So why does it come across as conservative? Obviously, the newspaper doesn't help. But it goes beyond that. There's an old guard of conservative douchebags in Fitchburg. They're all over the media, they spend a lot of time writing letters to the editor and making inane comments on the internet.

They're the people who appear whenever a change (sometimes painful, usually necessary) needs to be made, kicking and screaming and demanding that things would be so much better if only we had an old white guy in charge. They're the ones who think "lifelong Fitchburg resident" is a qualification for public office, not a detriment.

If you get in an argument with this old guard, you will lose. Not because you're wrong. You're not. You'll lose because they can afford to spend ten hours a day writing bullshit about the town, and you don't have the time to debunk each of their idiotic points in turn. They can't win with logic, so they go with bulk.

But you know what? It doesn't matter.

In the end, most people in this area are on your side. Sure, there are plenty of conservative cranks ready to make a lot of noise. But nobody really listens to them. They're enjoying their own little echo chamber where they can talk about how Obama is a secret scary Muslim and Lisa Wong is all about self-promotion, not public service. They're just a little cult of ideology. And have about the same basis in reality as your average cult.

In the meantime, you and I should celebrate. We're actually not the minority. We may be the loud ones. The ones who make blogs and get in arguments and run campaigns and generally work to make things better. But we're just the representatives of the majority of people in this area, who basically support the same ideas.

Conservatism is a dying ideology. That's as true in central Massachusetts as it is in the rest of the state. At this point, that may even be the rest of the country.

Things are changing for the better. Enjoy. And keep up the good work.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Horror of the Goatse Monkey!

Hello dear readers,

I'm all sorts of sick today, and the combination of cold medicine, exhaustion, and a little fever is not conducive to any sort of meaningful blogging. But I said I'd do a post every day for a month, and dammit I will! Just no politics for me today. I can only sustain so much abuse.

So, in keeping with the Halloween spirit, please allow me to introduce to you the terrifying dog toy that is known as a Crinkle Critter.

Sure, on the surface that thing only looks sort of creepy. Just a crappy monkey stuffed animal thing. Yeah, it's stylishly ugly, but not too bad.

The thing that makes this "fun" for a dog is that the creepy sock-monkey outside conceals a plastic bottle of some sort. So the dog chomps on it and it sounds like it's being horribly mauled. Ever watch a cat eat its prey? All the crunching and horribleness of little bones snapping? Be glad it's not a monkey.

This demonstration video only conveys a tiny part of the agony that is constantly hearing one's dog mauling this poor innocent monkey-creature.

video

Don't feel too bad for the monkey, though. It may be part of a secret conspiracy to pervert our pets!!!!!

Witness the instructions!


Remind you of anything?

Now, I don't know if the poor individual in the X-Ray above owned a "Crinkle Critter", but I'm willing to bet they did, and that's all the evidence you need in this day and age!

"Crinkle Critters" cause dangerous foreign body insertions!

Worse yet, they may have been the inspiration for the infamous Goatse guy. If you don't know who I'm talking about, I recommend against trying to find out. It won't be good.

Suffice it to say, the Goatse Monkey is not quite as bad. But still disturbing!



What kind of message is this dirty monkey dog toy sending to impressionable kids/pets? I don't know, but I bet it's a bad one!

Okay, I'm done. Going to go lie down now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Goddamn Liberal Media Is At It Again!

As the Fonz goes, so goes the country.

Still on the topic of endorsements, it is imperative that you watch this video. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, at least jump to 2:15 and watch that part.



Am I the only one who finds Fonzie deeply creepy here? Please tell me I'm not alone in this.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Everyone endorses Obama!

Well holy crap.

Going against type, the Sentinel has endorsed Obama. Sure, they also ran two syndicated editorials slandering him at the same time, but still!

It was already pretty clear that conservatives who actually have a shred of intelligence have defected to Obama, but apparently even parts of the crazy base are falling for Barry now.

Just off the top of my head, Republican defectors to Obama include Colin Powell, Bill Weld, Christopher Buckley, Christopher Hitchens, Scott McClellan, Lincoln Chafee, and a bunch more.

Hell, if circa-2000 John McCain suddenly time-traveled to 2008, he'd probably endorse Obama too. Which would explain all those "Obama is awesome!" ads the McCain campaign put out earlier this year.

So who likes McCain? Well, there's Joe Lieberman. Also this idiot:



That's not very good company.

Vote for Obama, the choice of non-crazy people everywhere!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Street Lights and Psychoses

Ha, I totally called it!

The dumbasses at the Sentinel have puked out an editorial about turning off streetlights and it's as full of stupid as you'd expect.

But is it the particular flavor of stupid we were expecting? Let's find out!

First a little clarification though. On that earlier post a commenter mentioned that she has been informed that all these crappy (but byline-lacking) editorials are written by Jeff McMenemy, the S&E's editor. I have no trouble believing this, as Mr. McMenemy has written many similarly terrible editorials with an actual byline included.

However, I don't want to attribute such idiocy to an innocent party if it isn't actually Mr. McMenemy. He could have a really dumb acolyte doing the writing or something. So I will just refer to the person behind this editorial as "the editor".

Anyway, the editor pulled a switcharoo on me! I was fully prepared to debunk a claim that turning off some streetlights would cause an increase in crime. Maybe the editor read my earlier post mentioning that, because he didn't go so far as to make that claim. He does dance around it quite a bit though. So let's dance!

First, consider the opening paragraph...
Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong's decision to consider implementing a plan as a "last resort" that calls for turning off every fifth street light, except major intersections, in the city is equally farfetched as it is ill-conceived.
Umm.. what?

Her decision is "farfetched" and "ill-conceived"? That doesn't even make sense. You can call a plan "ill-conceived" or "farfetched," but you can't call the "decision to consider implementing a plan" those words.

Or you can, but everyone reading it will laugh at you and call you dumb.

Let's pause a moment to take special note that the editor recognizes that this plan is a "last resort," is by no means guaranteed to happen, and would affect only every fifth streetlight. Remember these things, because the editor will shortly forget them.

Here's paragraph two!
We can't think of a time or place where it would ever make sense for a mayor to call for turning off street lights -- it sends all the wrong signals about your city -- but this is especially true in Fitchburg.
Oh my god I love this paragraph.

It starts off with that great "we lack the ability to think" bit. I can think of a lot of times and places where it would make sense for a mayor to call for the turning off of street lights. Here's a free one: daytime. You'll have to come up with others yourselves.

But the best part is that once again the editor has fallen back to the braindead non-argument of "sending the wrong signals." Only today we're not sending the wrong signals to kids, we're sending them to... ummm... well the editor hasn't bothered to tell us yet. Devious! He simply tells us that they're sent especially hard in Fitchburg.

Why especially in Fitchburg? I don't know, but the editor has some lies to tell!
Fitchburg is a city where police are fighting an escalating crime problem, particularly violent crime, which is fueled by a growing number of gang members and the illicit drug trade.
Jesus fuck people, how often do I have to point out that crime has been decreasing for the last few years? Just saying things are getting worse all the time doesn't make it true!

I am impressed that the editor has pinpointed the cause of crime though. I'd be curious to see the epidemiological studies he ran to discover that violent crime in Fitchburg is due to gangs and drugs. Good thing he knows just what causes it.

Anyway, what the fuck does that have to do with streetlights? Oh, nothing? Well okay. Let's continue...
Likewise, the city's residents also have to deal with a [sic] higher-than-normal property crimes, caused by the drug addicts who steal anything they can get their hands on to fuel their illegal and destructive habit.
Wow, down on the drug addicts! Those studies must have been really conclusive. Because there's no way that destitute people in a terrible economy would ever steal anything unless it was for drug money. Only those degenerate drug addicts would ever do such a thing!

Also, what's "higher-than-normal" when it comes to property crimes? Is there a normal level of property crime that the dickhead editor would consider fine? Seeing as Fitchburg ranks 6th out of 14 similar-sized cities in property crime, I'd call it pretty normal. Right smack in the middle.

The Sentinel lying about crime rates isn't really newsworthy though. Let's get back to the rest of this idiocy.
Turning off street lights sends the message to them, and everyone else inside and outside the city that your city is in dire straits, and it encourages lawlessness.
Sending messages again! And now we finally know who's getting this message: everybody. Wow!

I wonder what it's like to be Jeff McMenemy the editor. Constantly bombarded by "messages" from streetlights and pieces of legislation and space aliens (probably). It must be hard to live like that.

Maybe he has magic sunglasses like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper in They Live, but instead of seeing the secret authoritarian messages hidden in the environment and becoming a freedom fighter he has embraced them and wants to be one of the creepy skull people too.

The editor sees this and thinks "Well okay, whatever you say!"

We've also finally figured out just what the streetlights are saying when they talk to everyone: They're encouraging lawlessness! Man, streetlights sure are jerks. I mean the ones that are off. The ones that are on are okay I guess. Or at least they don't talk to Mr. Psychotic Editor Guy.

Wait, maybe he's just scared of the dark?
The city of Fitchburg needs more lights and more police on the streets to keep residents, business owners and their customers more safe, not less.
Yep, I think he's just scared of the dark.

Mr. Editor, I am sorry for making fun of you. Clearly your parents did something wrong when you were a child, and never addressed a very primal fear that most of us got past years ago.

You see, darkness can't actually hurt you. More lights don't equal more safety. Also, there are no monsters under your bed.

The last quote represents pretty much the end of even the pretense of an argument about streetlights. From here on the editor just goes into a rant about how Mayor Wong is so incredibly terrible for proposing this plan mentioning this idea as a remote possibility.

Frankly, that part isn't even interesting enough to respond to. After all, it's based on the faulty premise that there's something wrong with the plan. Since that hasn't been established, the ranting that depends on it can be safely ignored.

Finally, just a word of advice to the editor: If a streetlight talks to you or tries to send you a "message" or a "signal", for god's sake just ignore it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

God planning to tamper with the polls!

Oh Sarah Palin, will you ever stop being ridiculous? Probably not, but at least after November 4th we won't have to hear about it anymore.

In the meantime, we get great stuff like this story about an interview Palin did with James Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

Here's a fun quote!
Dobson asked the vice presidential hopeful if she is concerned about John McCain’s sagging poll numbers, but Palin stressed that she was "not discouraged at all."

"To me, it motivates us, makes us work that much harder," she told the influential Christian leader, whose radio show reaches millions of listeners daily. "And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4."
Okay, let me see if I understand this correctly.

So according to Palin, if when Obama wins on November 4th, it will be because God is doing "the right thing for America"? So Palin believes that even God thinks she's totally unqualified and ridiculous? Man, that gotcha media sure must have hurt her self-esteem!

Ha ha of course that's not what she thinks. She thinks her bearded buddy in the sky will actually intervene to subvert the democratic process and give her and McCain the victory.
She also thanked her supporters — including Dobson, who said he and his wife were asking "for God’s intervention" on election day — for their prayers of support.

"It is that intercession that is so needed," she said. "And so greatly appreciated. And I can feel it too, Dr. Dobson. I can feel the power of prayer, and that strength that is provided through our prayer warriors across this nation. And I so appreciate it."
So is God going to change the minds of people who would otherwise vote for Obama, thereby subverting the whole concept of "free will," or is he going to just tamper with the ballots and/or voting machines?

I don't know which makes more sense. Vote tampering might leave a trail that could make God's sneaky intervention all for naught. There's no point in miraculous vote tampering if you're just going to get caught. If that happens, people might start questioning your omnipotence, and you're already losing adherents as it is.

However, a mind-control ray would have serious theological implications for free will. It would also basically put Yahweh on the same moral ground as your typical supervillain, except without the hollowed-out mountain lair. Which might be okay, because that's basically what his Old Testament shenanigans were all about anyway. He probably misses the old days.

Artist's rendering of God's mind control ray.

I'm no theologian, so I can't really say which way God will choose to go on this matter.

But one thing is certain: The best thing that Republicans can do on November 4th is stay home praying all day. Voting's not going to help a bit. Your only chance is to stay on your knees all day, repeatedly asking your sky-buddy to change the outcome.

Do it for Sarah!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Question 2. Yes!

Dammit.

I was all set to write about this plan to shut off streetlights. I was going to debunk the idea that it would lead to more crime, which is very popular among the big piles of stupid who frequent the S&E's message boards.

But I figure the paper itself will probably do an editorial about it within the next week or so, and I can deal with it then. The S&E isn't representative of the community by any means, but they do a great job of promoting the ideas of the cranks who hang out on their message boards.

So instead, I'll deal with their current stupid editorial. As you've probably already figured out, it's about Question 2, and in a totally-not-shocking move is called Vote no on Question 2.

It's also laughably inept. Full of strawmen, non sequiturs, and just plain nonsense. It deserves a thorough fisking. Which will commence right now.

It actually starts off perfectly fine. Just the facts:
Question 2 proposes to decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.

It would not, however, legalize possession. Civil penalties would be enforced, and crimes such as driving under the influence of marijuana or intent to sell marijuana would remain the same.

Civil penalties for those age 18 or older would include forfeiture of the marijuana and a fine of $100.

Those under 18 would be subject to the same penalties, if they complete a drug-awareness program within one year of the offense.

The program would include 10 hours of community service and at least four hours of instruction or group discussion concerning the abuse of marijuana and other drugs.

If the program is not completed, the youth's fine could be increased to as much as $1,000. The offender could also face delinquency proceedings.

The main purpose is to prevent a one-time youthful offense from becoming a lifetime criminal record, which can make it difficult to gain employment, rent an apartment and secure student loans.
That is all correct. Sadly, that's the last we'll see of the facts for awhile. Wave goodbye if you like!

Here's where it starts to go terribly wrong:
We understand the intent. However, if this question is approved, what kind of message will it send to kids?

That breaking the law a little is OK? That if laws are broken often enough eventually we'll soften those laws?
I've lost count of the number of times I've read editorials in the S&E bitching about "sending the wrong message" to kids. It's one of their favorite arguments, perhaps because it doesn't actually mean anything. It's a thought-terminating cliche, so they can just sit back after using it and look smug. No followup required!

They do follow it up, though. With some nonsense about "breaking the law a little" being OK. Huh?

Possession of marijuana would still be illegal. It would just be a civil instead of a criminal offense. There's punishment if you do it, it's just that the punishment is more in line with the level of the offense. "Breaking the law a little" doesn't even make sense, and certainly isn't relevant here.

And yeah, if laws are broken enough, maybe they should be softened! What's wrong with that? We all break the old "blue laws" all the time (need I bring up fornication again?). Times change, laws change with them. If a law is so ridiculous that most people feel fine about breaking it, then maybe it needs to change. Has the S&E forgotten that this is a democracy?

On we go!
Massachusetts laws already require judges to dismiss charges and seal the records of first-time offenders.

Most first-time offenders are now required to participate in substance-abuse education and community-service work.
Okay, I was wrong up above. There were a couple more facts that snuck in. Unfortunately it appears they're attempting to be used to suggest that the criminalization of marijuana possession is fine because first-time offenders can have charges dismissed. This happens after a period of probation, which the editorialist neglected to mention.

Regardless of how these facts were meant to be used, we can just say "yep, that's true" and move on. It's not like the editorialist actually used them to make a coherent argument.

Back to crazy!
It is important to know that the marijuana available today is much stronger than it was 30 years ago.
Actually, no. It's not at all important to note that. Even if it's true, it's totally irrelevant to the issue at hand. Question 2 deals with decriminalization of up to an ounce of marijuana, not the potency of the pot. Could we stay on topic, please?
It typically contains nine times the amount of mind-altering THC and is twice as carcinogenic as tobacco.
Dammit, what did I just say?

Still, nine times the THC? What wondrous times we live in to get such good pot! Sadly, it's not true. The pot today is pretty much the same as the pot 30 years ago.

Also, it's good to know that smoking pot is equivalent to smoking two cigarettes. If someone smokes ten joints that's like smoking a pack of cigarettes, cancer-wise! And if they do that every single day for multiple years it could be a problem!

But nobody smokes 10 joints a day, every day, for years and years. That would be insane. Studies have shown no connection between marijuana use and cancer. So why even bring up the carcinogens?

Oh, scare tactic. Right.

They don't really care about the health risks of smoking pot. It's not a health issue to them at all, really. It's a criminal issue. This talk of health risks is just meant to make marijuana seem more dangerous than it actually is.

We're starting to approach the end of the editorial. Time for the writer to bring out his big guns!
Making possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense would serve to embolden drug dealers and prompt teens to think it's acceptable to use the drug.
Seriously? You're sticking with the lame "sending kids the wrong message" non-argument? I'm pretty sure "teens" don't base their judgment on the acceptability of using marijuana on whether it's a civil or criminal offense. Has the editorialist even ever met a teenager?

Also, "embolden drug dealers"? What the fuck? Question 2 has nothing at all to do with drug dealers. No laws about dealing are changing. It's about possession, not selling. Drug dealers will be no more or less bold if this question passes than they were before.

But hey Mr. Editor, you're on a roll. You've provided not one valid argument against Question 2. Could you maybe vomit out some more irrelevant and/or discredited talking points? Please?
Plus, marijuana often serves as a gateway to stronger and more addictive substances that destroy lives and families.
Thanks, that's perfect!

First, this is of course irrelevant to the issue of Question 2. Question 2 is not "is pot good or bad?", it's about how to properly deal with people who illegally possess it. Do we fuck up their lives permanently for a little pot, or use a lesser punishment?

This "gateway drug" nonsense has been around forever. You'd think people would stop using it, because it's such a ridiculously easy argument to debunk.

Here's how it generally goes. The anti-pot brigade brings out some scary junkie. Someone who's done every drug they could find, and committed any number of crimes to finance their drug habits. They then point out that this person started with marijuana.

Kapow! Marijuana leads to heroin junkiedom!

But it doesn't. You can't work backwards. Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in this country. So chances are that if you're someone who does less popular illegal drugs (like heroin, crack, etc) at some point you've probably also used marijuana. You're even more likely to have used the terrible gateway drug of alcohol, which of course should also be banned!

Of course most people who use marijuana don't go on to use anything else. Just like most people who drink alcohol don't go on to use other stuff. There's no causative link at all.

Hey, remember back when this editorial was dealing with facts? I miss those days.

Oh well, one more sentence to go. What's their coup de grace?
Decriminalizing marijuana amounts to an endorsement of substance abuse, and we do not support it.
That's not even an argument. It's just a lie. Well, the bit about endorsement is. They're probably not lying about not supporting it.

First off, nobody endorses substance abuse, you fucking moron. Even beer commercials--which explicitly endorse substance use--don't endorse substance abuse. Learn the difference.

Second, making marijuana possession a civil rather than a criminal offense doesn't even endorse substance use. It changes the penalties for something that remains illegal.

Let's say that somehow mail fraud had picked up the death penalty as its usual punishment. If you mail fireworks, you get executed. If they then change the law so that the penalty for mail fraud is a steep fine, that doesn't mean anybody endorses mail fraud. It just means that the original punishment was unnecessarily harsh.

It also doesn't mean people (or "teens" or whatever) are going to suddenly go out and commit mail fraud because the penalties aren't as bad anymore.

Question 2 is about changing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana from being something that can ruin your entire life to something that will be a pain, but not ruin your life. That's it.

It won't increase drug use, it won't bring society to its knees. It'll stop some of the harm that's done to people in the name of the ill-conceived "war on drugs," which is truly just a war on the American people.

The gobshites at the Sentinel won't recognize this, of course. But they're clearly not operating in the real world. For those of us who are, voting YES ON 2 is a good idea.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Question Three. Huh?

As you're hopefully aware, in 15 days we'll be voting. In addition to all the people vying for your vote, there are also three ballot questions to consider.

No doubt you've heard a bit about them already. On the first two, the choices are easy. If you're not a total fucking idiot, you'll vote no on question 1. If you support a sensible drug policy and actually care about public health, you'll vote yes on question 2. Easy choices!

But what of question 3? It's a tricky one!

It's all about dog racing, and here's what your vote either way would do:
A YES VOTE would prohibit dog races on which betting or wagering occurs, effective January 1, 2010.

A NO VOTE would make no change in the laws governing dog racing.
Okay, that's all well and good. But which is the right way to go?

A no vote changes nothing. So the yes vote people need to make a case for why a change needs to be made.

They do this by calling question 3 the "Greyhound Protection Act", which sounds better than the "Ban Gambling on Dog Racing Act", although the latter would be a more accurate description. Their website is at protectdogs.org.

Not to be outdone, the people who want you to vote no on question three have the website protectdogsandjobs.org. Sneaky!

Apparently both a yes and a no vote protect dogs, then? What the fuck?

Maybe this isn't about dogs at all, and both groups are in fact exploiting the dogs for their own nefarious purposes?

The "dogs and jobs" website says it's paid for by the "Massachusetts Animal Interest Coalition". If you look at their funding though it looks like it's just a front for the greyhound track. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

The "Committee to Protect Dogs" has a much more grassroots list of contributors, and also gets a lot from the MSPCA and Grey2K, which appears to be a greyhound advocacy organization. Those are actually pretty decent groups, even though Grey2K is a really dorky name.

So maybe it is all about dogs then? And here I was thinking it was secretly about gambling. But if that's the case, then the anti-gambling lobby are doing a pretty good job of being quiet about it. Maybe they just don't want to associate with those dirty PETA hippies. I don't really blame them.

But the question remains: does greyhound racing actually harm greyhounds? Obviously a lot of people think it does. But are they right?

I would generally trust the Humane Society, but their Greyhound Racing Facts page has this bizarre question:
9. Could the greyhound racing industry ever be operated in a humane manner?

No. The racing industry is inherently cruel. Greyhound racing is a form of gaming in which the amount of money a dog generates determines his or her expendability. The answer for greyhounds is neither regulation nor adoption of "retired" dogs, but the elimination of the greyhound racing industry.
That's a total bullshit answer. What if the industry regulated it in such a way that the amount of money a dog brings in was unrelated to its expendability? I'm sure there are ways to do that.

And is it really "inherently" cruel? In my experience, athletic dogs like greyhounds quite enjoy running. If their living conditions aren't bad and they get to run around and enjoy themselves, where's the harm? What good does an absolutist position do here?

I think maybe the first question on that page actually gets to the heart of the opposition's issues with greyhound racing:
1. Do problems exist with greyhound racing?

Yes. Greyhound racing constitutes animal abuse because of the industry's excessive surplus breeding practices, the often cruel methods by which unwanted dogs are destroyed, the daily conditions in which many dogs are forced to live, and the killing and maiming of bait animals, such as rabbits, during training exercises. The industry exists solely for the entertainment and profit of people—often at the expense of the animals' welfare.
The first several issues there are all things that can be solved by regulation. Have better breeding practices, don't do cruel shit, no bunny-maiming, etc.

The only intractable part is the final sentence, where it is complained that the "industry exists solely for the entertainment and profit of people". I suspect this is the real reason a lot of people are opposed to it. It's less to do with whether or not the dogs are actually abused and more to do with the concept of the dogs being exploited for the entertainment of humans.

Personally, I don't find that concept terribly objectionable as long as the dogs themselves are happy.

The problem we're really faced with here is that nobody on either side of this question wants to give you any worthwhile facts. As someone who's generally fond of dogs (and animals in particular), I'd be all about voting yes on 3 if the proponents actually provided evidence of abuse.

Instead, we get claims of abuse without evidence, unconvincing slideshows that don't look all that horrible, and a really lame youtube video. Not compelling, folks.

From the opponents of question three we get a lot of talk about jobs (if your job is to abuse animals, then I don't care if you lose it, morons), some clearly inflated statistics, and the last gasps of an industry that's probably going to disappear within the next decade anyway.

How to vote? Beats me. The evidence that greyhound racing needs to be banned is pretty slim, and it seems to mostly be an ideological crusade. On the other hand, I don't want dogs to suffer and really don't give a shit if people find themselves unable to gamble on how fast a particular dog can run in circles.

It seems to me that the sensible way to deal with all this would be to enact strict rules to ensure the dogs have good living conditions. An outright ban seems excessive.

This is about the least cut-and-dried question we have. We have a lot of ideology on both sides, but very few facts. What few facts we do get are often distorted. So it's sort of a tossup.

Chances are it'll pass anyway, so it really doesn't matter how you vote. Enjoy your representative democracy, suckers!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fitchburg even better in make-believe world!

It's a lazy Sunday and I'm not in the mood for political ranting, so instead I'll just relate to you what I've learned from my Harry Potter-enjoying brother.

Apparently the big sport in Harry Potter-world is Quidditch. Like all things nerdy and imaginary, it has an impressively long wikipedia page.

Anyway, JK Rowling wrote a real book about this fake sport, called Quidditch Through the Ages, which my brother read. Apparently there aren't a lot of US teams engaging in Quidditch (according to my sources there are two).

But what's the big impressive US team? Why, it's the Fitchburg Finches!

So there you have it. Fitchburg not only has a world class bike race, it is also home to the 7-time champions of an imaginary sport! Suck on that, rest of the country!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Chief DeMoura's Scary Mixed-up Math

There's a particularly badly-written article in today's S&E about Gov. Patrick's visit to Fitchburg and the coming budget cuts.

I'll leave analysis of budget stuff to Jason though. It puts me to sleep.

What I'm interested in is this:
Police Chief Robert DeMoura said the city doesn't receive enough money to begin with for Community Policing. He said the state [sic] last year had the third highest violent crime rate for cities of comparable size, but it didn't receive proportional funding.
Yeah, horrible writing. I assume that should have said "the city last year...", not "the state last year..." That's the assumption I'm going to work under, anyway.

It's an odd statement anyway. Third highest sounds bad, right? But third out of how many? What's a "comparable size," anyway?

Fitchburg's population in 2007 was 40,180, so are we looking at 39,000-41,000 maybe?
Oh, there are only five cities in that range (Beverly, Holyoke, Fitchburg, Westfield, Arlington). Third out of five doesn't sound all that bad, actually.

We could add in Salem, Leominster, and Billerica if we go up to 42,000. So third out of eight? That doesn't sound too terrible either.

Let's be extra generous and give a range of 35,000-45,000. Then we have 14 whole cities to choose from! In addition to the previously-mentioned cities we also get Everett, Woburn, Marlborough, Pittsfield, Attleboro, and Methuen (from smallest to biggest). What a happy bunch of towns!

Now we encounter another problem. DeMoura was talking about the violent crime rate for last year. The 2007 figures aren't available on the FPD website, though I don't doubt they exist (the FPD can be a bit slow about updating their site). No matter, that wouldn't help us with the thirteen other towns anyway!

Instead, we'll go to the FBI, and specifically this report.

Notably, the FBI has a huge caution against ranking on its site. Among other things, it says:
These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, region, or other jurisdiction. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.
Hear that, Chief? Don't rank things! It's a dumb idea!

But since he already did it, I suppose I might as well check his figures.

Except that I can't! When I try to get the violent crime number for Fitchburg, I'm instead directed to this footnote:
The data collection methodology for the offense of aggravated assault used by this agency does not comply with national UCR Program guidelines. Consequently, the figures for aggravated assault and violent crime (of which aggravated assault is a part) are not included in this table.
So I can't even really compare! Leominster and Westfield have the same problem, so that's 3 out of our 14 cities that are now junk.

To make matters worse, aggravated assault is the biggest of the four subcategories that go into the "violent crime" category. What the hell sort of data is DeMoura even using to make his claim that Fitchburg is the third worst? This seems increasingly like a made-up claim.

Well, I could compute a new number of violent crimes without aggravated assault, figure out the crime rate (which is number of crimes per 100,000 people), and compare that!

So I did. Here were the top 5:
  1. Holyoke: 254
  2. Everett: 187
  3. Pittsfield: 185
  4. Fitchburg: 149
  5. Leominster: 94
Damn, so close!

This isn't a really valid way to do things though, because those aggravated assault figures make a big difference. (Perhaps this is why they warn against rankings!) With the aggravated assault figures back in (and Fitchburg, Leominster, and Westfield automatically excluded) we get:
  1. Holyoke: 1,250
  2. Pittsfield: 683
  3. Everett: 511
  4. Salem: 323
  5. Attleboro: 320
The order on the lower end of the list is all screwed up too, so aside from Holyoke being the worst in both cases, the first list is useless for ranking.

Perhaps you're thinking that Chief DeMoura has access to Fitchburg's aggravated assault figures and could therefore have calculated stuff out to get our mysterious third place ranking? Maybe so, but Fitchburg's figures are calculated differently than all the other ones here, so they're not usable for that purpose.

I'm also betting he doesn't have Leominster or Westfield's figures. It wouldn't matter if he did, though, because they're unusable for the same reason Fitchburg's numbers are unusable.

What's the point of all this?

Simple, the claim that Fitchburg has the third worst violent crime rate among towns our size in Massachusetts is meaningless scaremongering. It's not supported by the facts, and even if he had some sort of calculation that he could make come out that way, it wouldn't mean anything.

I know DeMoura is pushing for more pay for his officers, but doing it through fear is just plain wrong.

By the way, when it comes to property crime, Fitchburg ranks 6th out of these 14. Leominster is fourth. Chief DeMoura didn't choose to highlight this number though. After all, it's not scary.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post-debate Whatever

Here is the single best thing to come out of last night's debate:


Awesome.

Most of the rest of it was babbling about "Joe the Plumber," plus the usual lies and obfuscations and pretty words that mean very little. The most exciting moment was when I really pissed off my friend's cat, who tried to maul me. He couldn't though, because he was declawed, and that must have been pretty frustrating. I feel bad about the whole thing. Sorry I was a dick to you, cat!

The results of the debate are pretty typical. If you already planned to vote for Obama, you still plan to do so. Ditto for McCain. If you're undecided at this point in the game you're probably so clueless you'll either miss the election entirely because you got confused about what month it is or you'll get lost trying to find your polling place and somehow drive into a lake. So who really cares what you think?

There are two things I want to mention, though. They both keep coming up, and they're both really aggravating.

This is a picture of an overhead projector:

This is a picture of the Adler Planetarium's Zeiss Mark VI projector, which John McCain has repeatedly referred to as an "overhead projector":


Yeah, pretty big difference there.

Here's a page where you can donate to help them renovate the Zeiss projector. Feel free to send them some money, by the way. Planetaria are awesome.

Anyway, know why they need a donation page? Because while money for the planetarium was in a budget proposed by Obama, it never passed. The Adler Planetarium got no money to update their 40 year old projector.

Yet McCain repeatedly brings it up. It's bad enough that he thinks planetaria are "foolishness" (that is actually the word he used). But in his whining about someone daring to try to fund science education, he can't even be bothered to tell the truth, which is that the funding never passed. Argh!

It's part of a weird pattern of Republicans hating astronomy, for reasons I can't fathom.

McCain hates planetaria, Nathan Bech hates telescopes, Sarah Palin presumably hates the concept of heliocentrism. I guess the astonomers have it a little easier than the biologists, at least. Hell, nearly 70% of Republicans reject evolution.

I wonder why America is falling behind the rest of the world in science.

The second thing that irritates me into calcifying a black pearl of fury is this quote from McCain about ACORN. This is basically the new Republican talking point/excuse for why McCain is going to lose.
[ACORN] is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.
Oh my god what total bullshit that is! Forget Diebold and the largescale disenfranchisement of potentially millions of people, what's important is that a few people might have registered "Mickey Mouse" to vote. So now when Mickey Mouse shows up to vote he will destroy democracy!

Here's a good explanation of ACORN and "voter fraud". In a nutshell, yes there have been cases of false registrations. This was fraud against ACORN, not voter fraud. There's no evidence anyone ever voted under the false registrations, someone was just trying to make some extra cash by registering people who don't exist.

In almost all cases, it was ACORN itself which drew attention to the fraudulent registrations. Their only crime (and this is only a crime in the eyes of Republicans) is trying to register poor people to vote. That's not a reliable Republican demographic!

Making this all the more annoying is that I can pinpoint when I first heard a Republican shill badmouthing ACORN. It was on NPR, in a piece about voter suppression by the Michigan GOP.

The shill downplayed the Republican attempts at voter suppression while also claiming that ACORN commits voter fraud for the Democrats. It was probably on September 11th that I heard it, judging from the date on this NPR blog entry.

Apparently it took the Republicans about two weeks to get their talking points coordinated, because it wasn't until around the 27th that attacking ACORN really started to take off.



The accusations are obvious bullshit to anyone who actually bothers to look at the facts. They're just a smokescreen to try to divert attention from the well-sourced evidence of Republican voter suppression.

Sadly, debunking lies like this just tends to make people believe them more strongly. Cognitive dissonance is a terrible thing.

Anyway, Obama won the debate. Yay!


[Update 6:38 PM] Want to know more about what the hell is up with that picture up top? Go here and be enlightened!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Know your candidates!

As I mentioned yesterday, it can be tricky to get information on candidates. Particularly conservatives candidates, who tend to keep their actual agendas low-key so they don't scare away too many sane voters.

Allow me to provide some resources for the curious voter.

First, you should probably know who the hell is on your ballot. You can easily get that information at Imagine Election.

Just type in your address and it'll tell you who's on the ballot where you live, complete with links to a bit of information about all the candidates. Handy!

Along similar lines, there's also this thing, which is pretty fancy looking but I found annoying.

Still, maybe you want more information. Or information about specific issues. Being a science-y guy myself, I was curious about the various candidates' attitudes towards science.

In this case, you'd want to check out Scientists & Engineers for America's site, where they have a bunch of information about the science policies of everyone seeking federal office.

Actually, not everyone. Most of the Republicans running for Congress have no information available. But don't worry, I sent Nathan Bech an email suggesting he respond to their questions so I'm sure his answers will be up soon!

Along a similar line, if you're curious about which presidential candidate renowned scientists support, the AVoteForScience youtube channel has some endorsements. They just started out, but here's the 2008 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry endorsing Obama. My bet is you'll see a lot of that.

But there's more to find out!

It's handy to get information from the right-wingers too. They're far more likely to have information on the Republican candidates (these candidates may want to keep their conservative views quiet to the public at large, but they still need to motivate their base).

The hugely unpleasant Massachusetts Family Institute (who I also mentioned yesterday) have a whole bunch of voter guides. Nothing that's Fitchburg-specific, but here's one for Leominster.

The group "Catholic Citizenship" also has a page up for the Leominster race here. Leominster's candidates both really suck!

You could also use the perpetually ridiculous American Patriarchy Family Association's voter guide thing for that rightwing "values" information. Though its design is pretty annoying.

Back on the liberal side of things, if you're all about abortion rights, you can find NARAL's Pro-Choice voter's guide here.

The strictly nonpartisan League of Women Voters also has a bunch of information available online. You don't even have to be female to use it!

No doubt there are a million more voter's guides out there. Some useful, most totally useless. But at least here you have a start. Ignorance will be no excuse if you vote for some asshole!


PS Today is the last day to register to vote before the November elections. Do it!
PPS No liveblogging tonight's debate. I'm going to watch it with people and will do my complaining/weeping out loud.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kurt Hayes' Stealth Agenda

Kurt Hayes is a Republican running for State Rep. in the 37th Middlesex district (which includes parts or all of Shirley, Lunenburg, Lancaster, Harvard, Boxborough, and Acton).

He has a terrible website. Also, for awhile I thought his name was "Kurt Haves" due to some poor design choices on his campaign signs. What more is there to say about him?

Quite a bit, actually. Though I suspect he would prefer it remain quiet.

See, there's a funny thing that happens to Republican candidates in Massachusetts. Since we're among the bluest of the blue states, Republicans have a difficult time getting elected. So they pretend to be "bipartisan" or downplay their conservative views, or run as independents, or try to appear more liberal than they are, or just simply lie. See Mitt Romney for examples of most of the above.

To be fair, Democrats running in red states do a lot of the same kinds of things. But they're not my concern at the moment.

My concern is this Kurt Hayes fellow, his seedy backers, and what he stands for (but doesn't want you to know he stands for).

A few weeks ago I got an email from Jamie Eldridge, the former holder of the seat for which Hayes is running (against Jen Benson). Eldridge is running for State Senate instead. By most accounts, he's a good guy.

It was an interesting email, which I oddly can't find on Eldridge's website. You can see the bulk of it quoted here. I'm not on Eldridge's mailing list, so I guess this was part of an effort to inform area bloggers. I also had a local tipster mention the same thing to me, so mission accomplished!

If you didn't bother to read it, the memo from Eldridge basically goes over how Hayes (and two other Republican candidates) are funded in large part by the despicable MIPAC.

Here's how MIPAC describes itself:
Massachusetts Independent PAC for Working Families, or MIPAC, is dedicated to helping elect candidates at the state legislative level who support pro-family positions, particularly candidates who support traditional marriage and the right of the Massachusetts citizens to vote on this vital issue.
What the hell do "working families" have to do with gay marriage? Beats me!

The important part to note is that MIPAC's entire reason for existing is to promote "pro-family" (more commonly known as "anti-gay") candidates, and to try to get gay marriage banned in Massachusetts. They do this by giving money to candidates, natch. But it's not just through the PAC that they give money (there's a $500 limit for that), as Eldridge pointed out in a nifty chart, the donors to MIPAC also give independently to these candidates. To such a degree that nearly 40% of Hayes' donations come from these out-of-district jerkasses whose defining quality is that they don't like gay people.



It's worth looking over the list of MIPAC expenditures, by the way. You'll find a number of familiar names. Brian Knuuttila, for instance. Guess that was wasted money. You'll also find Dennis Rosa and Guy Glodis on there. It's a handy little list of candidates who MIPAC believes will support their discriminatory agenda.

Of course MIPAC could be wrong to support some of these people, right? Maybe they're actually all very progressive candidates that MIPAC is just hoping to sway with the power of the purse.

Maybe, but that's not the case with Hayes. Hayes filled out a questionnaire for the Massachusetts Family Institute, another anti-gay (also anti-gambling, anti-stem-cell, anti-first-amendment, anti-porn, etc., etc.) group. You can see his responses in pdf form here. I don't recommend it, though, since the morons scanned it upside down.

Here they are flipped over and in image form. Click to embiggen.



The MFI also have a voter guide (also pdf) which boils down those longer responses. Obviously the MFI has more varied concerns than MIPAC, which is pretty straightforward about just being anti-gay. But the first question is the really telling one (though all Hayes' responses are straight along social conservative lines).

If you can't make it out, that first question is:
Should legislators vote yes to allow Massachusetts citizens to vote on a Constitutional Amendment that would define future marriages as between one man and one woman?
... to which Hayes answered "YES" without any further comment.

Of course, what that convoluted question is really asking is "do you oppose gay marriage?" It's just easier to ask it this way, where the respondents can pretend it's about voters' rights or some such bullshit. It's not. It's about whether or not they'll waste everyone's time fighting gay marriage.

So what's the problem? MIPAC can donate to whomever they want. Supporters of their cause can do the same thing. They don't have to live in Hayes' district to support his agenda, after all.

But Hayes' website makes no mention of his massive backing from anti-gay activists. In fact, I couldn't even find a mention of gay marriage anywhere on the site. If you went to his site not knowing his party affiliation, it would probably take you a little while to even figure out he's a Republican. But not only is he a Republican, he's a Republican who toes the conservative line on most social issues. Just another shill.

If that's what you're into, go ahead and vote for the guy (also, if that's what you're into why the hell are you here?). Knock yourself out. But he should at least have the decency to be upfront about his agenda.

I guess it's a good thing he intends to keep his day job even if elected, because I can't imagine people being happy if they voted him in, only to later find out what he's really all about. Better that they just hear it now, isn't it?

So yeah, if you live in that district, consider giving Jen Benson a vote.