Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scotch Review: The Isle of Jura Single Malt

The bottle declares that this is 'The only [aged 10 years] single malt Scotch whisky from the Isle of Jura' and that the distillery was founded in 1810. Fair enough, but my observation is that this is the beginning and the end of what this whisky knows about itself.

I picked this up because it was only a couple of pounds cheaper more expensive than Famous Grouse at Waitrose and I needed a Scotch for a recipe, so I figured: the price was right and if it turned out to be terrible I'd just use it as a cooking Scotch. And as a cooking Scotch, it's excellent: strong and maintains its flavor in meatballs. But that isn't why I like Scotch and everything that makes it a fine ingredient makes it seem very bottom-shelf as far as a sipping Scotch.

The problem is that there's too much going on, and it's strong everywhere. I've found the Scotches I like the most often have one or two very strong qualities - peatyness, etc. - whereas Jura just seems to be strong all over and no one quality wins out over the other.

Still, it does make a fine ingredient for Scotch-infused meatballs.

UPDATE: I realized I reversed the cost above: it was actually a couple of pounds more expensive than Famous Grouse.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Survivors Episode Two

On its second episode Survivors started to come into its own, whatever that might be. I am far more positive and optimistic towards the show than Quiet Earth's Survivors review and I'm holding out to see where they'll take it next. The acting isn't all that great, but neither is it terrible. Compared to a show like Jericho where they have 20 episodes to get into a story arc and develop the post-apocalyptic world, Survivors has all of six episodes and they seem to be using them well.

Character development started in earnest in this episode, with Al, Tom and Greg all going their own ways. Tom's turning out to have more depth than I expected, and although the secondary characters are essentially two-dimensional tropes that I can identify from a mile away they're still interesting.

Any post-apocalyptic story that begins before things go to hell needs to do a good job of portraying the steady breakdown of society (which they're doing) and the potential rebuilding (which they're hinting at.) The only thing is, it feels like they're doing it in lurches and bursts rather than as something gradual; there are some significant plot holes and the subplots are like tertiary brush strokes that bleed through the canvas and stick out more than they should.

I actually thought this was a better episode than the first, and it looks like there's going to be some meta-story going on behind the scenes as well, with the scientists locked in their holes. The interesting thing will be to see how the series goes when there are no more shops and warehouses to loot, when people like the guy with the shotgun end up doing more than driving around in a Land Rover, and how our plucky little group of civilization-loving survivors deals with those developments.

Next Tuesday, more action!

Monday, November 24, 2008


Not the show where people compete to stay on the island, but the BBC TV series Survivors about a band of people who survive a super-flu that wipes out 90% of the world's population in a matter of a couple of weeks. It's like The Stand without the good versus evil - at least, not yet.

Survivors is based on a series that ran on the BBC back in the 1970s, and has been updated for modern audiences. The first episode opened right as the 'flu crisis' was starting to destroy Europe. After a period of two weeks, the flu has wiped out the aforementioned 90% of the population (although it actually seems much higher than that, with London largely devoid of all life at all in some shots.) Infrastructure breaks down, power and water and cell phone service shut off, and people have to start thinking about living for themselves.

Spoilers may follow...

What I liked:

They didn't spend a lot of time on the apocalypse itself. The show was called Survivors, not End of the World, so that was nice.

They trotted out some pretty tired tropes (the Group Mom, the Quest for the Missing Family Member, the Jaded Scientist, the May-Be-Bad, May-Not-Be criminal, the Girl Whose Mind is Broken by Death, the Loner Survivalist) but managed to update them pretty well. The scene where the kid gets up from praying in the mosque and realizes everyone around him is dead was a memorable 'stay with you' scene.

Lots of strong women.

They're kicking off the survival part pretty fast, and it looks like that will be the focus of the series, at least in the short-term. Reminds me of early (great) and middle (greater) Jericho episodes.

The scene at the petrol (gas, for you American Puppeteers) station was unexpected and awesome. More like that, please. Pleasantly surprise me and I will continue to support you.

What I Didn't Necessarily Like:

It was a Very British Apocalypse. Which is to say, the bodies didn't decompose, there weren't very many of them and things were orderly. People literally died in queues waiting for medical assistance (this is even funnier to an American, I think.) But I expected London to be in flames by the end of it. I realize that part of that was budgetary limitations, but if you want a lesson on what would happen in a sudden apocalypse, watch the first 10 minutes of the remake of Dawn of the Dead: that's the new standard.

The tropes were a little, well, tropish. My wife and I took turns calling out what would happen next, and like the X-Files, we were right the vast majority of the time. A little less predictability would be nice.

Apparently the ratings weren't all that great, so here's hoping the show doesn't turn into another Jericho for me.


The show is off to a very strong start, audience numbers notwithstanding, and the previews for the next episode look even stronger. I'll stick with the show and keep writing about it as it develops. Next episode airs 9pm on Tuesday (tomorrow) on the Beeb...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fight Knight Round 2

Recently I wrote a blog post comparing The Dark Knight and Fight Club, and Roger and GZ both gave me a run for my money (in a good way) in the comments. The essence of the original post was:

Both Fight Club and The Dark Knight are cultural artefacts, capturing something essential about the sociological contexts in which they were made. Fight Club features a vaguely anarchist anit-hero that attempts to overcome a similarly vague sense of ennui through various small acts of terrorism (and in the end, detonating a series of empty buildings of credit card companies.) Dark Knight's villain is a far more sinister psychopath, who thinks nothing of taking innocent lives in a quest of seemingly senseless rage.

After the discussion from the last post and having had the pleasure of watching The Dark Knight again since, I think my prior conclusions may have been wrong, specifically about the Joker's motives and what that means.

Understand: the Joker is an unreliable narrator at best, and his story does change based on who he's talking to. When speaking to the gangsters, he puts things in the context of money and power. When he's talking to Harvey Dent, he becomes the 'dog chasing cars.' His 'how I got my scars' story changes every time he tells it, and in the end how he got the scars isn't important, because his motivation doesn't necessarily stem from a logical (to us, if not him) reaction to something in his past. There's a habit of trying to assign meaning and motivation to characters based on past experiences, and there's a good deal of scientific evidence to back up why we do this; even over-the-top real-life sociopaths or serial killers like Ed Gein or John Wayne Gacy have troubled pasts, events that influence their later descents into madness. No doubt the Joker had similar experiences, but the film pointedly decides not to explore them, as the point is more than his plan is somewhat more motiveless. If anything, whatever he experienced separated him so greatly from reality that his view of humanity is of a species no better than animals, where the rules of civilization are just lies constructed over the massive id lurking beneath the surface.

This is most obvious in his conversation with Batman at the end of the film, but the pivotal moment comes before, when the Joker is talking to Batman in the interrogation room. Batman has but one rule: no killing. But, the Joker tells him, he'll have to take one life to save another - either Rachael or Harvey will have to die (and indeed, one of them does.) But this isn't Batman's choice per se, it's more of a Sophie's Choice moment. That one will die is inevitable, and Batman's finger isn't on the trigger - he just decides who will die (incorrectly, it turns out, but nevermind.)

Rewind even further to the beginning of the film, when Bruce and Alfred are talking about Rachael. Alfred asks if Bruce will have him (Alfred) followed on his day off. 'If you ever took one I might,' Bruce quips. 'Know your limits, Master Wayne,' Alfred responds seriously. 'Batman has no limits,' Bruce replies.

Except he clearly does have a limit, and that is what the Joker is trying to push. His murdering cops and innocents (and innocent cops) is nothing more than a function of trying to get Batman to break this last limit. Harvey Dent was relatively simple to turn into Two-Face, but Batman's single principle turns out to be far harder, and it's clear that this fascinates the Joker. If anything - 'we're going to be doing this forever,' as he says, is his motivation. His various plots may be nothing more than ways to get at Batman and make him break, because if he can do that then truly everyone is corruptible. Harvey was Gotham's 'White Knight' in public and it was important that he not fall, despite privately doing so, and conversely Batman could be the 'Dark Knight,' tarnished when he needed to be, because in the end the only people to whom it matters whether Batman is a killer are the Joker and Batman himself. This is, in a way, the 'point' of the film but it's worth clarifying here.

So while Tyler Durden is anarchy and action for the eventual sake of liberation and being constructive (in his view, anyway), the Joker has no such noble pretensions; in fact, his ultimate goal doesn't concern people at all, but merely Batman himself as a kind of plaything for the Joker's own amusement. So what does that say about us, that our villains have reached a point where the events in their lives that influence how the ended up no longer matter, where their motivations are personal and a body count in the hundreds is quite literally collateral damage? I could make some meaningless political connection, or try again to connect it to the military-industrial complex, but I don't necessarily think either would be correct or honest. I just don't know. Instead, I'm going to leave the question open; Fight Club didn't make sense to me in its sociological context until several years later, and I reckon that The Dark Knight will be similar.

So watch this space in five years' time for an additional post on the subject.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Only Thing I Want For Christmas

I've already told the most important person, but I should note this for the rest of you Puppeteers: one of the formative experiences in my life, Free to Be... You and Me is being re-released for its 35th anniversary. I wouldn't have known except for Cory Doctorow's post on BoingBoing about it.

Free to Be... You and Me taught me a lot about tolerance, understanding and being yourself. I am not kidding when I say that it had a profound impact on my life and who I am as a person.

Here's a bit from the movie adaptation, which is one of the few bits I can still recite large parts of even though the last time I saw it was more than twenty years ago.

Yeah, it's that good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

WizKids: RIP

If you're tuned into the gaming industry, you probably already know that WizKids closed its doors permanently on Monday. The word from inside is that employees showed up, the announcement was made at 10 am and they were told to be out of the building by 2.

I knew very few people still left at WizKids (and in fact, there were very few people left, thanks to Topps' repeated layoffs, cutbacks and - yes - horrid and ludicrous mismanagement.) The news hit me a bit like hearing an old friend had died. I joined the ranks of HeroClix fans who crashed HCRealms' servers by trying to get some news, and talking about what just happened.

Topps' announcement that they were trying to find a new home for HeroClix sounded pretty disingenuous, but as things have started to shape up over the last few days it actually looks like it might happen - there is an organized effort by former employees to try to buy the property and license, and oddly enough it might actually work. All the more power to the people trying to pull this off.

I had long ago prepared for WizKids being closed. The proverbial writing has been on the wall for some time, and the company as I knew it was already dead. And that's really too bad, because WizKids was as close as I've ever come to sharing an experience with a bunch of kindred spirits rather than just showing up to grind away at a job for clients I could sometimes care less about. It got me out of Oklahoma as well, so there's more than a few reasons to look back fondly on my time there.

Rest in peace, WizKids. Even at the end you were still much-loved.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Rise and Fall of the McCain Campaign

So where did the other side go wrong?

I'll be honest: I've been writing this post in my head on and off for the last month. Even today, I was thinking of new things I wanted to put in it just as Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber are beginning to fade into Trivial Pursuit-style obscurity.

But it's an extremely relevant question: where did the Right go Wrong?

It didn't start during the McCain campaign. Or even the Bush presidency. Or even during the so-called Neoconservative Revolution during the early Clinton days.

It started around 1931 or so, just as America was dipping its feet in the last major economic crisis. In addition to electing FDR, it was the first time there was a Democrat majority in the House in 11 years. In 1933, the Democrats took the Senate - and held control of both branches (with two exceptions) until 1981.

This meant that any Republic president until (and oftentimes during) Reagan had to fight and compromise to put their platforms into action.

It also meant an entrenched Washington ruling class of politician, the kind that almost personified the growth of government and the taking of kickbacks.

Apart from the Nixon administration and the Eisenhower years, Republicans were often forced to concede points to the entrenched Democrats; the Goldwater Republicans compromised and dealed when they could, but they could never quite secure the power they needed for any real change. Until Reagan, of course.

But Reagan represented the first stages of change in the Republican party, one that culminated in the Neoconservative revolution during the 1994 elections that put the Gingrich machine into power. For the first time, the Democrat machine was weak but the Republicans still needed a way to appeal to 'swing voters' who were simply used to punching Democrat and voting along party lines. That's when they looked towards so-called 'social conservative' causes; things that traditionally belonged to Democrats, especially in the South. Johnson was not kidding when he said that passing the Civil Rights Act would 'lose [Democrats] the South for a generation;' the surprising part was that it took Republicans so long to figure this out.

But they did and adopted many social conservative causes; anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-flag burning, pro-institutionalized prayer in schools, pro-censorship, pro-guns, anti-science (or pro-intelligent design, but anti-science is more accurate.) Apart from abortion, which depending on your belief system involves the taking of innocent life, these are not life and death issues for many; they are simply the kind of thing people focus on when economics, complex international relations or other major crises are either irrelevant to them, unimportant or too hard to understand. I'm generalizing but the point is that none of them are important causes in and of themselves and very rarely affect the daily lives of people.

But putting measures on ballots to bring out the people who do care about such things will also enfranchise segments of the voting population who might not have been motivated to vote otherwise, and through clever media manipulation (and say what you will about the so-called Liberal Mainstream Media, the Republicans are masters of media control, even now) their candidates are associated with these causes - so the social conservatives vote for the Republican candidates. Wham. Instant Republican voting block.

So the party of business owners and middle-class office workers concerned about keeping their taxes small adopted groups of people who wanted to see American law replaced by the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (among others.) It was an extremely beneficial relationship at first and I don't think anyone can argue that the first few years of the Neocon revolution, in which Clinton and Gingrich balanced the budget and our economy was chugging along nicely, were some of the best in the last thirty years. Compromise will do that. Take note.

Sometime during the late 1990s - and I had a front-row seat for this in the middle of the Bible belt - there was a subtle shift of power. Suddenly the business owners and middle class were nudged out in favor of the other side of the party, the hardcore religious side. It was a gradual process, but somehow the adopted messages became the real messages and fiscal responsibility and smaller government became the adopted messages to keep the so-called 'base' part of the party. The election of candidates like Rick Santorum, who equated homosexuality to child molestation and bestiality (in an interview published April 23, 2003 in the USA Today if you want to look it up) and their subsequent elevation to high levels of leadership in the Republican party was the most obvious indication of this shift.

There's something else important at work here; these voters are often motivated by fear. Fear of the blacks or Hispanics moving into their neighborhoods. Fear of immigrants taking their jobs. Fear of homosexuals who will prey on their children. Fear that God may forsake them if they don't fight for prayer in schools or the teaching of anti-science doctrines. When I said that the Republican machine was brilliant at media manipulation, part of what I meant is that they learned how to read, use and more importantly manipulate this fear.

So when the Bush administration started rearranging the Federal Government after 9/11, when fear was at an all-time high, people barely noticed that the Goldwater ideals had been flushed so far down the toilet Saddam might have waited for them to pop out the other side. Security meant that government could - and did - grow if it meant we'd be safe. It meant that basic rights we've enjoyed from the very beginning of our nation have been taken away by the Patriot Act in the name of keeping us secure.

Except chinks started to appear in this fear-armor. Hurricane Katrina and the debacle of the federal response to it or when the economy tanking at the same time a $700 'economic stimulus check' looks like a poke in the eye. And something else happened. The same middle-class workers and small business owners who were the Republican party's main voting base started to look around and go 'what the fuck is going on here?' As did more than a few swing voters who came along for the ride.

I've always said McCain should have been the Republican party's nominee in 2000, and not only because he was set to win until Karl Rove and his vileness quite literally destroyed his campaign by insinuation (among other things) that McCain's adopted daughter was conceived out of wedlock. McCain is not like the others; he's much more of the old school Republican, and at one time most certainly a maverick. He was in part responsible for one of the best pieces of legislation passed in the last ten years, the McCain-Feingold bill. And his nomination among Republicans this year was indicative of the fact that many of them were starting to reject the center-stage politics of fear the Neocons have so fully embraced.

Sadly his defeat seems to be directly related to that very thing. The selection of Sarah Palin as vice-president was a cynical move on two levels; they thought they would pick up some of Hillary Clinton's supporters just because Palin was a woman, and they thought they'd appeal to the far-right base because of Palin's politics. They did. They succeeded. But in so doing, they alienated the other half of the party, the dog that has been wagged by the Neocon social conservative Santorum-like tail for so long.

And here's why McCain failed, plain and simple. People are tired of the social conservative nonsense. Gay rights has come along quite nicely in the last 20 years, despite the efforts of people like Santorum. There's still no flag burning amendment, and abortion is still legal - this despite years of Neocon control of the Presidency and Congress. And the economic situation looks more like the Democrats of the early 1980s rather than the party of Goldwater and fiscal responsibility. I think the lights are on, and the roaches scattered.

The ultimate example of this to me was during a McCain rally - I tried to save the video, but don't have it, but it's on YouTube - when someone at the crowd yells 'kill him!' about Obama. McCain steps out of character for a moment and says 'no, you know what, he's a great guy and an honorable Senator' and is booed by his own crowd. He didn't want to deal with the pets of the fiscal conservatives, the people Republicans brought along for the ride who are one generation away from the cross-burners who fought Martin Luther King. I think, quite frankly, it really pissed him off that he had to try to appeal to those people and in the end he alienated those who wanted a maverick by going after the people to whom what two consenting adults do in their own bedrooms is the most important reason to go to the ballot box.

The post-election meltdowns on conservative blogs, on Fox News (Hannity has a countdown to 2012 ticket on his show), on message boards and no doubt in FW>FW>FW>FW> emails across America has been truly representative of how divided the Republicans are. They're literally attacking and destroying each other; the well-honed far-right smear machine is now poised to launch Operation Leper against McCain campaign staff that dared speak out against Palin's lack of ability to be president should something happen to the 72-year-old bypass patient candidate. And is not some far-right screed blog like Free Republic; it's as mainstream as you can get in right-wing circles.

The anti-Obama rhetoric is coming out in droves, and frankly this may be the best thing for Republicans as they try to regroup. They have something else to fear: two out of three branches of government controlled by the other party. The party is going to realign itself, and it's not clear if the two sides will come back together and if they do who will start wagging whom. Will they elect another Bush in the name of social conservativism who will make another mockery of everything Goldwater stood for? Or will they put someone like McCain out there instead?

Consider this: Obama is more conservative than Richard Nixon. Let that sink in. On a political scale, Obama's policies are more conservative than Nixon's. Seriously. Obama is more conservative than Nixon. And this is the guy the fearmongers think is going to turn America into Stalinist Russia.

Will the Goldwaters come and work with Obama? Or will the militia movements from the 1990s resurface and the Republican tail head for the hills?

It'll be an interesting next couple of years.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Did

I'm still in shock a little. Is this real? It seems to be. I've been so used to not winning, I kind of forgot what winning feels like.

To say this is surreal is an understatement, but I feel vindicated. Not because I feel that 'haha, we showed you guys, we beat you!' But because, for once, people turned out and chose hope and dignity over cynicism and playing on people's fears. If there's one thing that sticks with me throughout this election – and indeed American politics for the last decade – is that there has been a push-and-pull between those who tell us we have to be afraid, that we need them to protect us, that we need to walk with God otherwise Satan's forces (in whatever form) will defeat us; and those who take our hands and say 'let's do this together, let's work to build a better future.'

I've always been an optimist. Angela reminded me that I wrote way back in 2004 that I thought Obama would one day be president. I'm glad it has come to pass because it represents the first triumph of the desire for change and hope over the rule of fear and exploitation that has been the hallmark of the neoconservative movement.

I don't think McCain necessarily represented this, but some of his supporters certainly did. There are some especially choice quotes floating around right-wing websites and forums this morning, many of which are simply not worth repeating, linking to or even acknowledging apart from being the reactionary rants of people who just lost an election (and hey, I've been guilty of that myself in the past.) I'll compose a post later about where I think McCain went wrong, because I have something to say about that.

But right now, I'm still stuck in surreal mode. I wanted to run down the Tube car this morning high-fiving everyone there (good way to stick out as the American!) I bought all the newspapers so I have headlines to remember this day when I'm old, because this is history. I want to remember. I want to remember what it feels like to be part of a movement against cynicism, a movement for hope, united if not in geography then in spirit with my fellow Americans and indeed the rest of the world who looks to America as a symbol of the best of all possibilities.

Moving abroad has taught me that the American dream is not dead, whether it means working to try to better your family, a black man becoming president thanks in part to the votes of the children of people who were slaves, or the symbol of freedom that America still represents to the rest of the world even after all these years and mistakes. People are ultimately good and want the best for themselves, their children and the human race as a whole: I firmly and wholeheartedly believe this.

That is why I feel vindicated. Because yes, we did.

Just Woke Up

4:52 AM, November 5, London time.

Read the headlines.

Thank God.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jericho: And So It Ends

This weekend I bid an old friend goodbye. It was already departed; long departed, really. I was holding onto its memory as a little piece of hope and a way to preserve the effort that went into giving it a second lease on life.

I've blogged a whole lot about Jericho before here, including how much I enjoyed its excellent narrative, the fan effort to save the show for a second season after the first season's cliffhanger, and CBS' decision to actually renew the show for seven more episodes. I think it was pretty obvious at the time that those seven episodes were a bit of a 'Hail Mary' - a way to shut fans up, to stop the boxes of nuts arriving at CBS headquarters, and (thankfully) to give the narrative its much-needed closure.

In the meantime I've done a lot of things: moved to London, convinced other people to watch the show, even sat down at the same table as the executive at CBS who made the decision to renew the show (her name is Nancy T., and she's exceptionally cool) and discussed the nuts campaign with her. But what I never did until this weekend was watch the rest of the second season. I saw the first three episodes, then I stopped.

Why? The episodes move really fast, and almost all of them are cliffhangers themselves. I loved the show. Why wouldn't I watch?

Because I didn't want it to be over.

I enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy the destination, and with Jericho it was easier to leave it sitting on my table than to watch the last three hours of the show and complete it. I vaguely knew what would happen by reading summaries on the Internet, but it was still an unreal abstraction.

This weekend though I thought I'd go ahead and bid Jericho goodbye.

I'm glad I did. The last seven episodes form a hell of a good story arc. The show takes a decidedly different turn, heading into 24 territory for a little while. I wanted more of the small-town stuff that made the first season so great, and that drew me into the show in the first place, but I really liked where they took the show as far as the connections they drew between the plot and historical contexts. (I won't spoil it for you, it was a pretty nifty reveal.) It was a satisfying ending, and although I wanted the show to continue I was content with the story as it was.

I actually felt very similar to how I felt when another cultish favorite show of mine ended, Carnivale. The story could be further developed - but it didn't need to be. The characters can live on in imagination, or you can simply take their story as a start-to-finish plot, like a nice book you come back to read from time to time.

Reckon I'll be doing just that in a little while.

Thanks for all the awesomeness, Jericho. You will be missed, gone but not forgotten.

Go Vote!

What are you waiting for? Why are you reading this stupid blog? Go vote already!

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm Only Doing This Once

Dear Conservatives,

I'm writing you to tell you something very important.

In the past, I have been called many things by you. A homosexual, or a 'queer lover' for supporting gay rights. I LIEberal, insinuating I am a liar because I'm a liberal. A DEMONcRAT, insinuating I'm a demon and a rat because I vote democrat. Among other things. My beliefs are based on a lifetime of experiences - my own life - and firmly held moral convictions about right and wrong and the value and sanctity of human life and dignity. You have slandered me because of my lack of firm belief in a specific Christian God, been called a coward and a pussy because I have argued for finding peaceful alternative solutions to problems other than fighting, and been made fun of for supporting the ACLU, an organization which ironically exists only to defend our First Amendment rights to call each other names (and have rational discourse.)

You know what? That's all OK. I've been discussing video games and politics on the Internet since I was dialing into Prodigy in 1990. That's a long time: longer than some of you calling me these things have been alive. I have a thick skin and frankly I believe that a plurality of opinions makes for good discourse and ultimately good compromise, which is the basis of American democracy in the first place. If we can't troll each other at least a little bit, what's the point?

But I will say this: you guys way overstepped the line with questioning our patriotism for opposing the Iraq war. You called us traitors to America for daring to oppose Bush and question whether the war was justified and whether we were being mislead by the administration into the way. That's right, you called us traitors. I realize that not all of you did this, and I realize that there was a certain fervency sweeping the nation at the time. But the whole 'if you're not with us, you're against us' thing hurt. Because the reason we questioned the war and questioned Bush was our patriotism and love of our country, and our support for our troops. We don't want America associated (any more than it already is) with unnecessarily meddling in foreign affairs, and we certainly don't want to see our friends who enlisted in good faith sent to fight wars for the wrong reasons.

We'll never see eye to eye on this, and believe me there's part of me that looks at the polls right now and thinks, well, it's pretty much going to be Obama. I'm not celebrating early, but I'm what you might call cautiously optimistic. And there's a part of me that is enjoying watching conservatives self-destruct and bicker and fight amongst themselves, and wildly accuse Obama of this and that (the latest bit about his not actually being born in the United States is pure Rove). The hand-wringing over how he's going to turn the US into something resembling Soviet Russia is pretty funny, the accusations of him being a radical Islamic sleeper agent are hilarious, and the racism that's being exposed among Republicans (not all of you, but the fringe is certainly coming out of the woodwork) is frankly a little freaky.

But there's another part of me that thinks this: turnabout is going to be fair play. But you know what? It isn't. And here's why. It's not going to be wrong to criticize Obama's tax plans. They should be questioned and inspected and not simply rubber-stamped. It won't be wrong to speak out against the President, against the Democratic majority in Congress, against the government in general. Because as Americans this is our right. This is (one of the reasons) why my ancestors left oppressive environments in Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire, this is why your ancestors came over, and when you talk about American soldiers protecting our freedoms, that is the freedom they are fighting to protect.

I'm not going to call you a traitor for questioning the President. I'm not going to question your patriotism for challenging him, for making him own up and be honest, and if you don't like his answers I won't call you names for voicing your discontent. That, my friends, is your right and it is a right I would fight and die for you to keep.

So call me names if you'd like, LIEberal or DEMONcRAT or coward or traitor. Knock yourselves out. And I'd fully expect, if we win on the 4th, for there to be a bit of celebrating on our side - we've had eight years of your guy, and frankly he's kind of run things into the ground. But you will not hear from me any name-calling or insinuations that you are anti-American because you are exercising your American rights should you question us, should we actually manage to win.

As I said, I'm only doing this once, and that's the closest I'll come to gloating.