I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Monday, November 24, 2008

The Card

Rastronomicals asked about my claim to be a card carrying atheist. I figured I'd go ahead and post the card here to remove all doubt. Feel free to print this card out and use it as you wish. It looks especially authoritative if you laminate it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

D.N. Drake Guest Blog

James Maxey's note: First, just so there's no confusion, Dave Drake is not David Drake, the SF author of, like, a zillion books. This Dave Drake is someone I know from Codexwriters. His posts there can be a bit provocative and sometimes he'll bring up topics that are deemed off limits for that site. So, I reached out to him about a month ago to see if he'd be interested in doing a guest blog on a controversial topic of his choice. He came through with the following essay:

Change is coming!!! Hallelujah!!! In January 2009, the USA's next president, Barack Obama, will be inaugurated. With all the hype of him being the first black president, many people miss the fact that he isn't black, but rather a man of German, Irish, English, Cherokee, Kenyan descent who was raised by a set of ivory white grandparents. Its strange to me how even the supposedly "liberal" (what a misnomer!) left can be so calloused as to call this multicultural melting pot of a man "black". In fact, its funny how most Americans can actually be so blind to their Eurocentric definitions of race.

In the days when whitey was in charge of fucking the world up (pick a day between January 20th 2009 and any AD date that tickles your fancy) there was a bit of a superiority complex (not unusual for people in charge, regardless of parentage). This fueled the Johann Friedrich Blumenbachs of the world, and this then led to common understanding of what pedigree whiteness is-- pale skin and high foreheads. Anything askew of this was no longer "pure" white, but "tainted" -- and for obvious reasons, no longer "superior".

For some reason, this unfortunate falacy has widdled its way permanently into the brains of most people, including the many many non-white peoples of the world. This is my first gripe with all this "change" talk going around. If the pot starts out calling the kettle black, then this "monumental" moment of racial progress and equality in America is already flawed. Really, the only way "change" is going to happen is if Americans realize that being "American" is not just a nationality anymore, but an ever increasing ethnic and cultural identity.

But one may wonder if there is any silver lining to this current socio-politcal mess. Well, yes... there is, or at least I hope there is. If we, as a nation, can stop walking on fucking glass... that would be great.
What I mean by that is... if Kanye West says anything else that can be categorized as categorically annoying-as-fuck, then he needs to be treated in the same manner as dumb-ass Don Imus. Equal treatment for equally moronic people. Either that, or nobody gets punished (which is what I'm personally in favor of). Enough with the P.C. "can't say the N word with an er at the end" and the "check this box if you're Caucasian" bullshit. Nobody should use racial slurs, and I'm not fucking Turkish!

The first thing thats going to have to change (to many an African American's chagrin) is the special 'blacks are off limits' rule. Now that there's an arguably "black" man running the county, there absolutely NO REASON why whites can't poke fun at any ethnic minority of their choice. It shouldn't (and doesn't) need to be labeled as insensitive any more... (even though I don't know what I ever needed to be sensitive about, I was born in 1986 to a Dutch nanny and a second generation Irish American who descended from near slave-like plantation workers on the old Emerald Isle... COUGH... and no complaints here mind you). True, racism ran thick through the streets not so long ago (civil rights movement only a handful of decades ago), but its time to get over what happened half a century (or even one and a half centuries) ago.

James Maxey again: Thanks Dave. I sort of agree with one of your points, and largely disagree with another. I'll reply in the comment box.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Whose vote does the GOP still want?

When I was browing real clear politics a minute ago, a headline jumped out at me. "The GOP is Leaving Black Voters Behind." My immediate reaction was that this headline was backwards... black voters have left the GOP behind, probably more or less permanently.

This actually meshed pretty strongly with something I've been thinking about lately. Currently, former Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee seems to be on TV a lot arguing against gay marriage. You have a few rare republicans who are okay with gay marriage, like David Brooks, and a lot who keep silent, but the most vocal opponents seem to be from the religious right. The democrats aren't really for it either, at least not those seeking national elective office, but they aren't really going out of their way to say it's a threat to society the way the Republicans seem to be. The overall message from republicans is: If you are gay, we don't want your vote.

You can shrug this off, I guess. Homosexuals are a relatively small segment of the population. Losing their votes is no big deal.

The same is true of atheists. Libby Dole was able to run her "Godless" ad because the political cost no doubt seemed small. There aren't that many atheists in North Carolina as a percentage of the population. Who cares if they don't vote for you?

Also, the right has spent a lot of the recent years in a froth about illegal immigrants. Fairly or unfairly, this translates into an anti-hispanic vibe. Who cares? Illegal aliens can't vote, and just how many hispanics are there as a percentage of the population? You can certainly run the country without their support.

Then there are blacks. One could argue that republicans have a very high-minded view of race. It doesn't matter what group you belong to or the color of your skin; there doesn't need to be any special treatment for minorities because all individuals have the same rights, and the GOP is the party that values individuals over the collective. And, hey, the GOP has appointed blacks to cabinet positions and the supreme court; they aren't racist. And, bluntly, I don't believe they are; still, as a group, they seem to have decided that black people aren't worth targeting as voters. And, so what? They aren't the majority population. You can certainly win without them.

I actually could have been a Republican at one point. Republicans in 1994 went into office promising fiscal responsibility and reform, things I embrace. Yet, even then, the Republicans were deeply tied to people on the religious right who were publicly making the argument that true Americans were Christian; atheists need not apply. So, I remained in the libertarian ranks, and watched with grim satisfaction as the republicans self-destructed.

The GOP seems only to want the votes of the white protestant majority, plus maybe a few Catholics. The rest of the population is just to weird and different to deal with. And any given subgroup is too small to worry about when you write them off.

Except, if you write off enough of these small groups--atheists, gays, blacks, hispanics, muslims, liberals, and NPR listeners... pretty soon you've got a majority of people opposed to you.

What is the GOP's plan? Whose vote, outside of protestant whites, do they still want?

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Live in Fantasy

The Sky Beneath Me

The Jagged Gate

Three Paths

Friday, November 07, 2008

Weirdly Boring

This was one of the most historic elections of my life, yet somehow it was weirdly boring. I wound up going to bed at 10pm. Once Ohio was called at 9:30, the game was mathematically over.

On a larger scale, the game was over the week before the first debate when the stock market collapsed and McCain "suspended" his campaign to deal with it. He just looked like he was flailing around, clueless about what to do, and he completely wrecked three decades of opposition to pork by endorsing a 700 billion dollar Wall St. bailout only a day after it was announced. We just don't build enough 300 million dollar bridges to offset spending like that, and even Americans aren't bad enough at math to get fooled by this. If he squelched 16 billion in pork a year, he'd need to be president for 44 years to offset this single 700 billion dollar charge.

I guess I've been spoiled by the last 4 presidential elections. Both Bush elections were squeakers, and both Clinton elections had Ross Perot throwing a spanner in the works. The returns had a little suspense to them. We haven't had a blowout of this magnitude since Bush v Dukakis.

I've been amused by listening to the frothing among right-wing commentators that the reason they lost this time was that McCain wasn't conservative enough. Ann Coulter complains that they couldn't go after Obama on immigration or carbon caps or stem cell research because McCain was on the same page. The far right never did embrace McCain, though they all came on board with Palin. They also complain that the press never did talk about William Ayers or Jeremiah Wright... which makes me wonder just what newspapers they read.

I hate to smear Republican's with such a broad brush, but it feels to me like they have no arguments to make except to stoke our fears and then promise to protect us. Terrorists! Fear them! We will protect you. Gays! Fear them! We will protect you. Scientists! Fear them! We will protect you. Mexicans! Fear them! We will protect you. Liberals! Atheists! Reporters! Blacks! Drug lords! Socialists! Taxes! Darwin! Iran! Iraq! China! Cuba! and, oh my god, the RUSSIANS! They're practically in Alaska already!!! Gather your children, head for the cellar, and mail in your absentee ballot so that we can save you!

Democrats are also guilty of their own fear-mongering. They've been quick to talk about our economy being on the verge of the next Great Depression. Oil companies are going to cook our children and starve the polar bears and Diebold is rigging the election so that black votes don't get counted! If the Republican's ever get their hands on the economy again, we'll all be homeless and uninsured! Still, while I sometimes feel like my intelligence is being insulted by Democrats, I've never had them swerve out of their way to actually insult me personally, the way that Elizabeth Dole did with her "godless" smear ad.

There was a time when the Republican pitch boiled down to: Big army, small government. They've had their shot at power, and what did we get? Our big army is completely bogged down in a nation that never threatened us. Our government has grown to a behemoth with its fingers in every single American pie. They've abused their first promise and betrayed their second one.

How do they crawl back from this? I have no idea, though I suspect Democrats will find some way soon enough to revive them.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Further Election Musings

I voted yesterday. I was confronted with what was probably the longest line I've ever stood in to vote, and this during early voting, a process designed to help avoid long lines. Listening to chatter, the crowd seemed heavily democratic, though that's not a big shock given that Hillsborough is in Orange County, which is probably the most left-leaning county in North Carolina.

The crowd also felt a little young to me. Maybe that's just a reflection of the fact that I'm 44, and at some point in my life I was going to slowly come to the awareness that in any given crowd most people would be statistically younger. But my rather subjective memory is that most voting lines I've stood in have been dominated by people older than me, while this crowd looked to be heavily under 30.

Again, it's foolish to extrapolate from a single polling place on a single day voting trends for a state, or a nation. But, I've never allowed looking foolish to hold me back in the past, and I see no reason to start now.

I have a theory as to why North Carolina and a lot of other traditionally republican states might be in play this time: Rush Limbaugh. Back during the Democratic Primary, Rush Limbaugh instituted a vote drive called Operation Chaos where he encouraged voters to go out and vote for Hillary Clinton in order to keep the democrats divided all the way to the convention. His stated goal was to see infighting and civil war among the democrats. Shortly after he started Operation Chaos, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in the the Texas primary by roughly 1% of the vote, or 100,000 voters. Did Rush Limbaugh have enough sway in Texas to give Hillary her winning edge? I haven't bothered to look up actual numbers, but I'm willing to bet Rush has a lot of Texas audience. It seems plausible that he kept her hopes alive by giving her this little boost. If she'd lost Texas, it's possible that she would have seen the light and pulled out of the primaries rather than riding them out all the way to the end. (Or perhaps not--she obviously stayed in long after it was mathematically impossible to win.) By keeping the election alive until the very end, North Carolina wound up with a primary that actually mattered, something I haven't seen before. The result was that in the spring, hundreds of thousands of new voters registered as democrats, while republicans had nothing much to get excited about, given that their primary was mathematically over.

Thus, my theory is that by helping keep the democrat fight going all the way to the end in the spring, Rush Limbaugh actually laid the groundwork for a democratic edge in the fall.

Moving on from the presidential election, I was torn this year over whether or not to vote for Elizabeth Dole for senator. In any other year this would have been easy: No. I don't vote for incumbents at a federal level. It might seem dumb to have such a blanket rule, but I have 11 trillion good reasons why anyone who is currently in Washington should be fired, regardless of party. Still, Dole was one of a handful of senators who voted against the Wall Street Bailout. Also, I think there's a really good shot that the democrats are going to have a filibuster proof majority in the senate, and voting for Dole might save a seat for the republicans and make the numbers 41 to 59. It would be the only small brake left on the democrats over the next two years if current trends hold. But, this week Dole unleashed a new TV ad implying that her opponent Kay Hagen was an atheist, or at least hung out with the godless. The tone of the ad was such that it was clear that Dole felt that the only proper response to an atheist offering you a campaign donation was to spit on the money, and then slap the atheist. So, of course, as an antheist myself, it instantly became impossible for me to support Dole. Then, Hagen jesused up and sued Dole for the horrible accusation that she had ever willingly been in the same room as an atheist. In my mind, the proper response would have been, "I'm not an atheist, I'm actually a Sunday School teacher, but I'm running to be a senator, not the pope, and I'll proudly represent the godless as well as the Christian, the Muslim, the Jew, or the Scientologist." Then, I would have voted for her. Instead, I voted for the libertarian in the race, Chris something or other.

One final thought on the election: Despite the pro-Obama mood in the crowd yesterday, I'm starting to wonder if there's a signal in the polls that he might actually lose this thing. It's true that he's leading McCain in just about every poll I've seen. But, I notice that his numbers seldom reach 50%. Instead I'm seeing a lot of polls with numbers like 49 to 44 Obama, and I have to wonder what the 7% of undecided voters are waiting on before making up their minds. Could this 7% represent a percentage of Americans who won't vote for Obama because he's black, but who won't come out and admit this to a pollster? Obviously, I'd rather have Obama's poll numbers right now than McCain's. Still, it is hard to imagine what the undecided are waiting on at this point.

I think we'll see Obama win electorally pretty handily. I think the democrats are going to get to 60 in the senate. What happens next is tricky. I think there are so many things the democrats are going to want to do all at once that you might wind up with a kind of paralysis. What first? End the war? Stop global warming? Boost unions? Reform health care? Reinstate the fairness doctrine? I can see slap-fights breaking out on the floor of the house, and two years from now the Republican's sweep back into power in the midterms.

We live in interesting times.