Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Narrating The Sarah Palin Turkey Slaughter

Even if you're really, really busy, you have to take six minutes out of your frantic schedule to watch this. Imagine the surreal depths to which our great nation could have sunk, like a wounded octopus slowly descending into the blackness of an ocean trench, if the election had gone any differently.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Election Day Victories For Animal Rights

As a vegetarian, I don't often get to see one of my biggest pet issues hashed out in an election year. But Nov. 4 brought with it two major wins for animal rights, and may point the way to further victories in coming years. The Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are wising up big time about electoral strategy, using the pocketbook rather than an infrequently successful moral appeal as their weapon of choice. The New Republic has the story:
I spoke with Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States, who said that such ballot measures, introduced in states where they are likely to pass, do much more than reform a single states' animal treatment laws. They are a message to American industry as a whole that considering animal welfare is increasingly within their economic self-interest. California agribusinesses, fearing a rise in operating costs, spent heavily to combat Proposition 2 and have nothing to show for it. Markarian is hoping that all animal-related businesses will draw the lesson that it is simply cheaper to improve animal treatment of their own accord, rather than risk a costly political fight they will probably lose.
Proposition 2, which passed with 63 percent of the vote (63 percent!), says that confined animals must now be able to "lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." If you've ever seen a vegetarian information pamphlet, you'll know how impossible this currently is given factory farming practices.

Animal rights aren't by any means a political issue per se. There are a few notable Republican animal rights activists (even a Bushie or two). It's a good day for everyone when we outlaw veal crates and battery cages, no matter who you voted for.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Just The Thing To Keep The Good Mood Going

I've been at the apartment all morning because maintenance had to come by -- apparently the last seventy people to live here liked to smear grease inside the walls of our oven, which smokes like the fires of hell every time we turn it on, so hopefully that's taken care of. Anyway, I'm heading out soon to finish chapter 11 (halfway done!) of my novel, but while I'm here I've been looking around at the morning-after coverage and this tickled me in a way the pundits never could.

As long as you're there, scroll down into the comments a bit. There are a few priceless pictures. You'll see what I mean.

I Partied At The White House

I'm sure you've all heard or read about the celebration outside the White House last night. After seeing some local news footage, with Obama already declared the winner and little left to worry about, I decided to leave my apartment and go join in the fun.

I've seen crowd estimates settle around 1,000, and although I have no talent for estimating these things I'd say it was more like double that, especially considering the stragglers and people at the margins of the glut. I'd also say, from the time I spent there, that it was about 90 percent college students, something I'm not sure has been mentioned in the press reports. So, enough with the dry statistics. . .

It was fun as hell. Knots formed in the generally milling crowd and started chanting or singing at the drop of a hat. A lot of girls were riding around on guys' shoulders, and pot use was pretty open, but there was none of the stupidity and tawdriness of spring break shitkickers. Everyone was there to celebrate, not just to get wasted, and people were for the most part sober except for being really happy. I found the best way to enjoy the whole thing was to make my way back and forth through the crowd from one end to the other, stopping whenever I saw a group I wanted to join or it looked like one would form. We sang "Ole, ole ole ole" and the national anthem (a lot) and God Bless America. On too many occasions to count, people would start up cries of "Yes we can!" or "No more Bush!" or "O-ba-ma" or the occasional "Si se puede!" and the next twenty people in each direction would join in. One game that emerged was spotting the bright white glare of a television camera and trying to get through the crowd to make it into the shot. No one pushed. There were no fights. It was all in good fun. I never got interviewed, but I'm positive I ended up cheering and chanting on one Canadian broadcast. After the correspondent signed off, everyone in the crowd went nuts around him with cheers and he smiled and, frankly, joined the party for a moment before having to leave.

As the night wore on I started to see a few middle-aged and older people in the crowd, including one guy who was shouting "You fascist motherfucker!" and balling his fists with victorious glee, facing down the White House like the Scots taunting the British in the middle of "Braveheart." I ended up on a home video being made by Frank from Winona, Illinois, who asked me as I passed him why I'm so happy to be rid of Bush. My answer, as best I can recall (with a big grin on my face): "Oh, man, there are a million and one reasons, I could never get to it all. I thought I wouldn't have a job when I graduated college. I thought there would be a hole in the sun by the time he left. But now, not only are we getting rid of Bush, we're replacing him with someone who actually knows what he's doing. Save this tape. You'll remember this." Then we introduced ourselves, shook hands, he said he totally agreed with me and we kept going our separate ways.

Most of the fun came from just being there. It felt good. Everyone was partying for the best of reasons. A few people carried Obama cutouts above their heads, making for good photo ops when they lined up nicely with the White House. Two or three people crowd-surfed, prompting someone next to me to say to his friend, "Come on, this isn't a Hootie concert." At one point a big group had formed and started singing, of all things, the Georgetown Hoyas fight song. I was standing right there but didn't know the words. One college guy was smoking a cigar and sprayed his Heineken beer foam over his head, splashing everyone around him, but no one seemed to mind very much.

For the record, there were a lot of sexy coeds. I spotted a few guys I thought might have been there to pick up chicks, but I didn't see anything happen. Everyone there seemed to be with a group of friends, and people would often link hands and go through the crowd in fours and fives. I never saw anyone I knew, so I was free to kind of roam the scene and stop to sing or whatever or, once, join a temporary drumming dance circle. The snipers were visible on the White House roof despite it being the middle of the night and completely overcast, but they didn't ruin the picture for us -- everyone seemed to take it all in good fun, as if to say, "Ha ha, we get that roof now." At one point, I think probably around 1:15, the White House floodlights went off for the night and everyone took it as a chance to start chanting "No more Bush!" at the top of their lungs. I shouted "Address the nation, George!" and a few people laughed.

Anyway, I could go on, but you get the picture. When I left at 1:30 it showed no signs of slowing down, and several hours later, watching the local news hoping to get some late Senate election returns, I saw that by 4:00 it had finally petered out. Every account I've read of it includes quotes from security guards or police or whoever saying they'd "never seen anything like it." I hope we keep seeing that kind of jubilation on election day from now on, because that's how people should feel.