Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Where Were You When the USA Pulled Back from Being a Fascist Shithole?

I was on the other side of the camera that took this picture, blocking the view of a big honking flatscreen monitor which showed the United States morphing magically into a place I would actually like to live:

It was a brief and unfamiliar moment of happiness, so very long in coming: one of the good guys rising to take the reins for a change, delivering an inspirational and almost1 flawless challenge that might have been cowritten by Aaron Sorkin and the entire screenwriting staff of Battlestar Galactica — and nobody had even shot him by the end of it.

Of course, my companions being what they were, that brief shining moment was not to last. Obama hadn't even finished speaking before two of them had fallen into a loud and bitter argument over which side of the Rockies Colorado was on. A third joined in when the fight turned to whether Missouri was pronounced "Mizzury" or "Mizzourah". And it was hard to make out the president-elect's closing words over the sound of a heated discussion on the necessary caliber of weapon needed to penetrate the bulletproof glass from a range of 1.5 miles.

Didn't matter, though. I looked at that eloquent figure and the massive support he'd won. Then I looked to the pallid and small-minded weasel who rules my own country, to the pathetic squabbling terriers who act as his opposition. And I realized that the day had come when the progressives in our midst might actually start fleeing south for a change.

Who knows? Given the right breaks, I might even go with them.

1Marred only by a brief and unfortunate reference to a pet which, to put it delicately, was not a cat.



Blogger Mike said...

Waiting to see the fallout from California's Proposition 8, which will have a big effect down the pipeline on how the (religious) right attacks issues on a piecemeal basis.

November 5, 2008 2:56 AM  
Anonymous DavidK said...

Where was I? Glued to the computer and TV screen, like most of us. I woke my daughter to show her the electoral vote totals when Obama broke through - she'd been watching the returns like a hawk all evening. It's a great feeling to be proud of your country after feeling such dispair.

November 5, 2008 3:04 AM  
Blogger Mac said...

A third joined in when the fight turned to whether Missouri was pronounced "Mizzury" or "Mizzourah".

It's pronounced pretty much like "misery."* I suspect that's not coincidental.

Strangely, many of my fellow Missourians insist on pronouncing it "Mizzourah." Those are the Missourians you probably don't care to meet.

*emphasis on the last syllable.

November 5, 2008 3:26 AM  
Blogger Kisama said...

The Rockies run through Colorado, so it's on both sides.

The locals call it Misery for a reason.

.50 BMG is your best bet.

November 5, 2008 7:17 AM  
Anonymous Madeline said...

I was at home, occasionally reaching over and squeezing Mr. Ashby's hand.

I said this over at Scalzi's but I'll say it again here: the things we already have here are things that they are promised over there. Socialized medicine. Gay marriage. Reproductive rights that aren't squabbled over every single election. Domestic energy production. Banking policies that don't create record foreclosures. The first on that list is one of the reasons I left, but my current sense of pride is why I maintained my citizenship.

Mostly I'm just beaming at the fact that Bush & Co's reading of the Constitution granted the executive branch unprecedented levels of power, and now Obama has it.

November 5, 2008 9:40 AM  
Blogger SpeakerToManagers said...

Possibly a politically incorrect thing to say on this blog, but I was out walking the dogs when McCain conceded and Obama gave his acceptance speech. I'd left the house with the political map rapidly filling up with blue, but I hadn't expected a concession that soon. Good, I like living in times where you can't leave the room without something positive happening.

Yeah, now comes the hard work of cleaning out the stable. But we have someone who at least realizes the job needs to be done. And maybe realizes we need to pay off a debt to the rest of the world for the last 8 years. It helps that so many people out there are happy for us.

November 5, 2008 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bec_87rb said:

YAY! My vote actually counted this time, aaaaaand, Virginia went blue! w00t!

I see that Canadians were watching the election like a sports event; that other parts of the English speaking world are TV spectators as we play at democracy is half alarming and half flattering. I keep feeling as if I should apologize for something.

Canada: Y'all come! (as we say here) We got magnolia trees, an extra 20 million bedrooms in our McMansions, and whenever an inch of snow falls, people who drive like there's a bee loose in their car! It'll help you remember what you loved about your native land. XD

I give y'all fair warning that if Rick Mercer comes down, you can't have him back. Same deal with the guys who created The Great Eastern; finders, keepers.

Man, I feel giddy today.

November 5, 2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger Redag said...

Where was I? In Grant Park cheering my head off, of course. It's a blue country today, goshdarnit.

November 5, 2008 11:08 AM  
Blogger Freyr said...

Mr. Watts, are you becoming an optimist?

I'm glad I'm not the only one who detected a little bit of BSG in his speech, I half expected him to end with "So Say We All!"

We hit up the local bar as soon as we heard the good news and on our way there we saw people cheering from their windows and dancing in the street, the likes of which I had never seen but reminded our South African friend of when Nelson Mandela was elected.

November 5, 2008 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so ends the begining, this battle is won, now to win the war.

I watched a man defy the old cynicism and speek to my inner dream. I wept, the hope I could no longer hide, that my nation might forge a better world and brighter future.

i only wish that i could lose the pessimism that stil prevades my thought, maybe someday.

November 5, 2008 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Unfortunately for California any civil rights victory that may have been won by Mr. Obama's election, is sharply undercut by the passing of Proposition 8.
How did that happen? Is it even constitutional down there? They've stripped away an existing right for a group of people. Does this mean that if enough Californians wanted to, they could reinstate slavery?

November 5, 2008 5:35 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"...Proposition 8.
How did that happen? Is it even constitutional down there? They've stripped away an existing right for a group of people. Does this mean that if enough Californians wanted to, they could reinstate slavery?"

Prop 8 is a state constitutional amendment.

Yes, California could amend it's constitution to institute slavery (Slavery has never been legal in California) with a simple majority vote however I think that even the currently right wing supreme court would find that slavery violates the federal constitution so it would still be illegal.

I have great confidence that the current supreme court would NOT rule that banning gay marriage violates the federal constitution so the state constitution would prevail.

I think at least five of them would say "it is a matter for the states to decide".

November 5, 2008 5:53 PM  
Anonymous raymond said...

This is Ray. I'm the guy holding the beer.

I was trying to convince another participant that because Colorado was split down the middle by the Rockies, it counted as part of the west-of-the-Rockies section of America.

I worry greatly for those inhabitants of Missouri who seem to forget entire syllables.

.50 BMG was agreed upon almost instantly. The debate was exactly what weapon of that caliber and at what range.

Also, we bickered because otherwise we would've floated into happyland...

November 5, 2008 9:17 PM  
Blogger Kisama said...

Hey, Ray.

Barrett M82 at 1750m should do the trick. Provided, of course, that your sniper is that good.

November 5, 2008 11:06 PM  
Anonymous raymond said...


I was thinking McMillan at 2430 m. PPCLI FTW. Hey, I'm a Canuck, what else can I say?

November 6, 2008 1:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.416 Cheyenne Tactical. Better ballistic coefficient and higher velocity, so it shoots flatter and retains greater energy past 1,000 yards than the relatively low-vel .50.

I was working night-shift in a paint plant when the news came. I'm still hoping very, very hard that he represents an actual change in American politics, rather than simply more of the same. What I don't want to see is Obama simply pick up where bush left off re: civil liberties and executive powers.

November 6, 2008 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bec asks:

Should we be nervous that you all are discussing our President-elect *and* the best caliber of ammo to shoot through a bullet-proof vest from far away ?

November 6, 2008 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Madeline said...

@Bec: We should. Not least because this post is probably being trawled by the Secret Service, and we've all been placed on the no-fly list.

*waves hello* Hi guys! Just wanted to let you know, I love Obama! And also that I'm small enough that the kickback from any sizeable weapon would break my arms if not my skull! Nothing to worry about here!

November 6, 2008 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And it was hard to make out the president-elect's closing words over the sound of a heated discussion on the necessary caliber of weapon needed to penetrate the bulletproof glass from a range of 1.5 miles."

Dear Homeland Security. His last name is spelled W.A.T.T.S.

November 6, 2008 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Homeland Security: There's also some guy named "Ray," and he has a bottle of beer.

November 6, 2008 2:36 PM  
Anonymous raymond said...

Homeland Security knows where I live already, I'm sure. And they already know I wanted Bush conveniently removed from office.

Besides, know thine enemy. Before we can mock the motherfuckers, we have to know how they work, and with what tools.

Also, the CheyTac is too new for the kind of comprehensive sniper training programs necessary for that kind of accuracy. Every soldier I know would rather use the last gen shit if he knows exactly what it's capable of and how to use it best.

Also also, if DHS doesn't appreciate beer, the American Empire deserves to fall.

November 6, 2008 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also also, if DHS doesn't appreciate beer, the American Empire deserves to fall.

Bec replies:

I have no doubt DHS has proper fear and respect of you waving a beer bottle. Aren't you the one trained in five ways to kill a man with things you have around the house?

*eyes Ray critically*
For the properly trained soldier, there are five things right there on the bed that are lethal.

Remember, Brock Sampson now works for this big-assed country. He could find five weapons in that photo, no problemo.

November 6, 2008 5:04 PM  
Anonymous raymond said...

You didn't see the rest of the bed. Ten easy, plus the kitchen. Anything is a weapon. Long distance accuracy, however, requires the weapon to become a part of you.

Besides, we weren't talking about improvisation. The kind of (probably white supremacist) potential assassin profile has a worshipful attitude towards long-range firepower, especially the oh-so-American .50 cal. Plus, you know, bulletproof glass.

To the CheyTac fan, I completely understand, but remember that due to the greater availability of .50 there are more options for armor-piercing rounds. Just saying.

November 6, 2008 8:15 PM  
Blogger BT Murtagh said...

I was in my living room drinking champagne, alone because political sanity is a rare commodity in South Carolina and also because, well, I'm not very social. My vote was naturally swallowed by the quaint horror of the Electoral College, but it was my result all the same because my ear and throat are still bruised from phonebanking. (I gave money too.)

There is an excellent chance that Proposition 8 will be found invalid under the California Constitution once the Californian Supreme Court reviews it, as that same Court recently declared marriage a fundamental right of all Californian citizens and changes to fundamental rights can't be implemented via a ballot initiative - it takes a supermajority in the Legislature or a Constitutional Convention, neither of which is on the cards.

I know nothing about guns; I'm prone to bouts of depression so I don't think it's wise to tempt my demons with too easy an option. There's always a path to murder, though.

November 6, 2008 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Spencer said...

I won't comment on caliber or weapon choice, but will chime in as a resident of Colorado. As another data point, my mother just retired to Missouri, after growing up there, and pronounces it as "Miz-ZOOR-ee."

I started typing and realized the map of CO is far more complex that a few sound bites. It's blue from where I live to the horizon. Out of sight, the gamut runs from the Boulder Bubble (the ass of the wormhole to Berkley), to Dobson's Denial (an ass of much greater proportion) and Focus on others' Family; from some of the earliest gay marriages to reparative therapy. At least we are electing Western Democrats to office.

November 6, 2008 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of tough guys talking here.

How many of you are actually soldiers?

I am.

My prediction is that this presidency is going to be a disaster. Why? Buddy of mine briefed the president daily... he did an initial brief for Obama and walked away to say, "We're fucked."

November 27, 2008 10:01 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

I agree with your buddy, but then, I'm a science-fiction writer; we've been trying to spread the word on how fucked we all are for decades now. But while Obama has certainly pissed me off on occasion (his vote on the FISA bill, for example), the dude's got a long way to fall before he even approaches Dubya's stature. As always, there are no optima; there is only the least objectionable. As far as I can see, Obama is way less objectionable.

I for one am not a soldier. But then, I didn't do anything but roll my eyes when the sniper tech-talk started up. Those other guys can speak for themselves, if they want.

November 27, 2008 10:14 AM  
Blogger Kisama said...

To Anonymous,

I'm an airman, which isn't as useful to the conversation as a soldier. Luckily for me, I separate before Obama takes office.

November 28, 2008 4:12 AM  

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