Succeed, Don’t Secede

A lot of people were bringing up, over the few weeks following the 2012 US Presidential Election, that “multiple states” have petitioned to secede from the US.

This is not actually true. People in a couple dozen states have started petitions at to allow their states to secede from the United States. And by “people,” I mean a few thousand in any given state. In some cases, as many as twenty-thousand. So, as many people as could be found in a mid-sized or large university. The states themselves are not asking to secede. The vast majority of the populations of each state are at least reasonably sane and, therefore, do not want to secede.

You can start any kind of petition that you like on I can petition the US government to start funding a program to genetically engineer real Pokemon. They won’t do it, no matter how many signatures I gather (pretty sure that I can get more than twenty-thousand, by the way). How many petitions to end mountaintop-removal or to encourage the US government to terrify Uganda into not being evil have I signed? The US sure did not intervene in Sudan, and we have yet to crush Syrian President Assad and his government beneath our heel. If petitions were some sort of magical formula, a lot of good things and a lot of horribly stupid things would happen. They do not actually mean anything—petitions are a vehicle to show that a number of people stand behind a certain idea. On occasion, they are just a vehicle that people use to whine.

Honestly, I had to endure eight years of the Bush Administration. I know what it is like to, as I assume that most of those who have signed these petitions, absolutely despise your President. George W. Bush has been so far and will hopefully always be the worst US President in my lifetime. But no matter what I may think of Bush or what anyone else may think of Obama, neither of them are the worst President in US history. That honor belongs to Andrew Jackson, and we all know it. Andrew Jackson makes Sarah Palin seem like an intellectual, Ron Paul seem like a proponent of Big Government, Hernán Cortés seem like a friend to the pre-European inhabitants of the Americas, and Yosemite Sam seem like a responsible gun-owner.

Worst. President. Ever.

So when I say that I would not actually want for my state (which, ugh, is one of those in which some residents signed one of those stupid petitions for secession), or for any other, to secede. Not even if the nightmarish future depicted in one episode of Supernatural came true and President Sarah Palin became a reality (that’s a horrible future in which the Christian devil, Lucifer, has years to roam free and devastate the planet, by the way). We’re stronger together. I hope that Puerto Rico, where support is growing to become our fifty-first state, becomes fully integrated in the United States. Honestly, I would love for us to absorb Canada and, a decade or so after the War On Drugs and this senseless prohibition ends, absorb Mexico (where the cartels will lose much of their strength since the War On Drugs will have stopped feeding them). I look forward to when the entire planet—when the entire human species—is one nation.

Ideally, one that I rule. But I will accept a less perfect version, so long as we are all united and justice prevails.

Secession is a coward’s answer to a political disagreement. If you think that something is wrong, fix it. Don’t leave.

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Should We Focus on the “Approval Ratings” of First Ladies?

photo of president barack obama's wife michelle obama with daughter sasha obama vacationing in spain pictures

First Lady Michelle Obama, once considered quite an asset to her husband both on the campaign trail and in the White House, has taken some heat of late. And no, it’s not for allegedly hen-pecking her husband this time.

What is happening, however, is that her approval ratings are falling.  Plummeting, in fact.  Now, you might be wondering why anyone should give a rat’s ass about the approval ratings of a First Lady.

Historically, in fact, a First Lady’s primary job was eye candy.  Now, though, a woman married to the president is held up to a whole new level of scrutiny that is monitored relentlessly through polls.  Sometimes I wonder if Michelle Obama has any regrets …

Anyway, Mrs. Obama’s approval ratings have taken a serious hit in the last few months (according to the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, only half of those surveyed have a favorable outlook on Michelle O.), and the apparent reason is kind of unfair.


The survey was taken from Aug. 5 to Aug. 9, which happened to coincide with Mrs. Obama’s vacation in Spain, where she, along with daughter Sasha and several friends, stayed in a posh five-star resort. It was a luxurious getaway for the first lady of a nation with nearly 10 percent unemployment and widespread economic anxiety, and it fed an image of extravagance that Mrs. Obama has created by, among other things, patronizing chichi restaurants and wearing $775 boots to break ground at her White House garden. A new name — “Michelle Antoinette” — was born.

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Good Bush, Bad Bush: Is Body Hair Back in?

So, if you’ve read my ZL bio, you know that I go to Oberlin College. What you may or may not know is that Oberlin College is one of the most “liberal” Liberal Arts colleges in the country. Maybe everywhere, actually. Most people on campus are very politically active, socially conscious, and, well … hairy. And I don’t just mean on their faces. Throughout the course of my freshman year, I became more and more used to seeing girls with hairy legs and underarms and, well, as Cosmopolitan is putting it on the cover of their latest issue,  hairy va-jay-jays, up to the point where it stopped shocking to me in the slightest a long time ago.
Well, apparently we all should be getting comfortable with hairy va-jay-jays, because Cosmo has declared it to be the “in” sexy style for us ladies down there.

But can we really do that?

Porn Star Sasha Grey recently appeared on Entourage. Naked. With an …

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When The Government Uses Rape To Torture It Hurts Everyone

abughraibrape052809Major General Antonio Taguba, a former army officer who conducted an internal inquiry into Abu Ghraib in 2004, gave an interview with the UK Telegraph about photos of torture techniques that President Obama is trying to help block from being released. Taguba explains that the photos depict graphic acts of sexual violence, including the raping of a female prisoner by a US soldier and the raping of a very young male detainee by an American translator. A graphic description of the later rape was reported by Taguba in 2004 and released to the public:

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Are we surprised that the US used sexual violence against prisoners and detainees in Iraq? Yes. Should we be? Well, no. This isn’t the first time that reports of rape and “sexual humiliation” have been reported. Photos of sexual abuse of male prisoners were released (warning: extremely graphic and NSFW) in 2006. Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal, said in 2004 that the US government had videotapes of young boys being raped by soldiers and interrogators at Abu Ghraib. In one of his Abu Ghraib-exposing articles in 2004, Hersh mentions that Donald Rumsfeld and his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, approved the use of sexual humiliation of prisoners, a technique that Hersh reports was an en vogue talking point amongst pro-war conservatives at the time because it was believed that Muslims were particularly susceptible to sexual humiliation. Essentially what happened at that time was that Cambone told soldiers and military intelligence people that they would be working on a covert operation where no rules applied when trying to get information from detainees and prisoners.

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