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October 17 2004

High Stakes 2004: Whedon Fans for John Kerry and John Edwards. "Participate in a nationwide conference call to hear Joss Whedon tell us more about his latest endeavors and why he is supporting John Kerry and John Edwards."

On Sunday October 24, at parties all over the United States, fans of Joss Whedon are organising fundraisers for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. Joss has agreed to answer questions and will try to answer one question from each party if possible.

"To find a party near you, go to the John Kerry website, enter your Zip Code, and look for parties with "High Stakes" in the title."

"To host a party in your area go to the JohnKerry.com website and register your party. Be sure to put "High Stakes" in the title of your party."

The minimum amount to attend is $35.

Joss' middle name is Hill? Cool!
See I thought 'Stake the Vote' would have been funnier but what do I know? And I ask in an non-partisan European way, will anyone here be organising or going to one of these parties?
Wow now that's a different link than usual. Interesting. Funny how many feel that the stakes are indeed high (not going for an over-obvious pun, can't think of another way of saying it) and are trying to help their candidate out.

And thanks for that other link Smo. I didn't even know you could check that.

Didn't know about 'Hill' either;-)

"And I ask in an non-partisan European way, will anyone here be organising or going to one of these parties?"

Would possibly consider it, but according to the search on the site, there's nothing near us in a radius of 50 miles. Which is odd considering we live in Los Angeles...
John Kerry looks like Rod Hull, which also means he looks like Camilla Parker-Boulds.

So will he be championing the EU, or the EMU :D
This summer, Danny Strong hosted a John Kerry fundraiser at a house in Hollywood, and Common Rotation performed one of their special Living Room performances.
Sorry but didn't we have a no politics rule quoted somewhere else? For the other umpteen billion that AREN'T American this is.....?!
"John Kerry looks like Rod Hull, which also means he looks like Camilla Parker-Boulds."

I'm sorry, but this was just too funny not to comment on. You made me laugh out loud The Host. Thankyou.

Sadly, there are no High Stakes meetings in my area, but I could go listen to Michael Moore speak if I wished and was willing to fork out piles of cash.

This did make me curious though,since this thread is clearly about the political views of a member of the Buffyverse, are political views of other members also relevant?

[ edited by Kindred on 2004-10-17 10:30 ]
I think the politics rule was referring to Sarah Michelle Gellar's political stance, since it wasn't even important to the topic being discussed.(The Grudge) This IMO is a different matter.

But thats just little ol' me. YMMV.

[ edited by eddy on 2004-10-17 10:59 ]
I appreciate that posters here (especially non-Americans) would rather that politics were not discussed. However, this could be the biggest thing to happen in the Buffyverse fan community since Angel got cancelled. Also two thirds of our hits come from the States so it is relevant.

eddy got it spot on with his comment about the politics rule and SMG. It wasn't relevant for that particular thread.

Are her views relevant for this thread? Well not that I can see. Joss Whedon supports Kerry and wants to organise liked minded US Buffy fans into supporting the Democratic candidate. If other cast/crew in the Buffyverse get involved with this initiative (for want of a better word), then their views would be relevant.

I'm sure we all know of other sites where discussion about US politics can unfortunately drop to the level of a school yard fight. But this is Whedonesque and we're not like that.
I have tried addresses all around the country and have not found one major city hosting this party. Call me causiously suspious of anything political but I think this site better present more info on the event.
Simon, can you explain more.

I have no idea what Republican and Democrats are, and I really want to know why this could be the biggest thing since the Buffyverse? I know there was some previous article about Kerry mentioning the state of TV.

Even living in the UK, I have my thoughts and poinions about who should win the Presidency, but seeing as different people may be offended by them, I'll keep my mouth shut for now. Still, I would appreciate an answer to the questions
Simon" If other cast/crew in the Buffyverse get involved with this initiative (for want of a better word), then their views would be relevant."

I agree we should probably try and steer away from the political mudslinging, but as you say, this is relevant here. Just to be clear, I know that other Buffy people like Eliza Dushku, Danny Strong, Adam Bush and others have joined Kerry's campaign and other initiatves. James Marsters has been quite vocal in his very strong anti-Bush administration feelings but I don't know if he has joined any initiatives. Are these people then discussable in this thread? Or should we stick to Joss and specifically *this* initiative?

"I have tried addresses all around the country and have not found one major city hosting this party. Call me causiously suspious of anything political but I think this site better present more info on the event."

Yeah like I said, I live in LA and there was not a one to be found which made me a tad suspicious too. I see it as something Joss could do since he made his feelings on Bush quite clear and Smo's link showed he indeed put his money where his mouth is, but could it be possible someone is tryng to *make* this happen with the above link? Could be they're just in early stages but....I gots a suspicious mind.
Is the Alyson mentioned on the site the same Alyson that is connected to David Fury's website? Even checking out the zip code for the volunteer Alyson, I do not see an event listed - one would think if you are the person putting up a site about this event you wou also be hosting one yourself, since it is only a week away.
There's no need to be suspicious, this is a legitimate event.
Apocalypse if you're not sure about the way the US presidential election system works, I suggest you check this link out. Tis an indepth, non biased BBC guide which covers the parties, candidates and issues involved.
Wow, thankyou Simon. Thats an excellent link

This website has only strengthened my views on who should win and who shouldn't. And it also highlighted just how close Bush and Kerry are, both at 48% each at the last plotting of the graph, however, I believe that if this whole thing was in the UK, Kerry would easily win. The U.S. though is a different country and its going to be interesting in the final days and obviously in the vote, how everything is going to turn out

I shall be watching closely
> Is the Alyson mentioned on the site the same Alyson that is connected to David Fury's website

No, that's not the Allyson who runs DavidFury.net.
"Could be they're just in early stages but"

Well the website was just launched so I imagine that the initial onus is on the fans to set up the parties and the rest will follow, a bit like 'Field of Dreams'.

"should we stick to Joss and specifically *this* initiative?"

I reckon for the time being stick to Joss and this initiative.
Maybe Tim Minear will throw a party for the opposition.
I was wondering whether to put a Kerry button on my Angel website or not, but this is even better.
OMG, This is enough. I am sick of people using their celebrity for campaigns. I love Joss, but his politics are not my politics. I adore James, but he does not speak for me. By the way, I never saw or heard anything before about JM trying to tell others how to vote. Where is that? I am an undecided voter. I am swinging toward Bush, because hollywood likes Kerry so much. I dont trust the motives of the people in entertainment. They are very pushy and vocal, but they do not speak for the majority. They are just louder. I heard that the actors are not hired if they lean toward the republican party. That only those that have already made it will say that they are republicans. So because of that I dont trust hollywoods judgement. I love Joss, but he wont influence my vote.
The only useful thing to do with celebrity is campaigning, if you ask me. Use it as currency.
jossfan, are you saying Hollywood stars don't speak for you and don't influence your vote, but at the same time the fact that some of them vote for Kerry is reason enough not to vote for Kerry?

I thought raising money and doing expensive campaigns with famous people speaking for their candidates is an integral part of the American election system. Much more so than in European countries. Also long before Bush became president.
No, elo, I watched the debates and I'm leaning toward Bush [mostly for religious reasons].I just feel like the entertainment shows are being taken over by whos voting for who. And that they are trying to infuence us like we are mindless. The Congress passed a ceiling on spending in campaigns to stop all this spending. It was passed after Bush became President. But it has a loophole. Too bad for us.
If a party is organized in my area, I'll try my best to go. Support my candidate and hear Joss Whedon answer a bunch of questions? Cheap at twice the price. Hopefully at least a few Whedonesque people can attend these parties and tell those of us who can't (or won't) go what Joss has to say about his creative plans.
Whatever side you find youself on, or whatever country you live in, the simple fact is this is not some local US race for dogcatcher. The stakes in this election are very high and and its outcome will impact the entire world.
jossfan, you are leaning towards Bush for "religious reasons"?

I can't think of a worse reason to vote for someone. Vote for someone because he's going to stand up for your rights, because he wants to protect your personal liberties, because he wants to make our country safer, because he's got a workable, intelligent plan, because you respect him.

Religion isn't supposed to factor in in matters of state. It annoys me no end that it does, in fact, matter to a lot of folks. Grr.
As far as Republican actors getting no work - I think that Adam Baldwin would disagree with you there.
And I see that on the Kerry site (and the shrub's for that matter) there is no option for Americans in other countries to host a party. There has been a big push in Canada to get the vote out from all the Americans up here.
I'd be willing to host a party (Richmond, Virginia). I may send an email to the organizers with a few pertinent questions, but I know there are plenty of Buffy/Angel fans nearby, and there's support for Kerry/Edwards here in the city.

The $35 minimum is a bit higher than I'd like - $15 or $20 would probably be more comfortable for most fans, though when you consider the amounts we're willing to pony up to attend conventions, $35 is chump change.

And a chance to talk to Joss......oooohh....ahhhh....
Let's discuss the event and not each other's political leanings or reasons for voting, however much you may disagree with a poster's personal choice.
If anyone's curious, this is the breakdown for campaign donations in the Whedonverse:
Alexis Denisof, Eliza Dushku, Jane Espenson, Marti Noxon, Stephanie Romanov, David Solomon, Danny Strong, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, and of course Whedon himself all donated money to John Kerry or the Democratic Party.

David Greenwalt and Tim Minear donated to George W. Bush.

[Is it okay to post this? Not making any value judgments here...]
Just for balance, check out Tim Minear's political contributions. Just goes to show that intellgent people can disagree on this election.
If no one else in the Los Angeles area signs up, I might be willing to host...but I'd much prefer to just attend.
Melisande and smo, I know you're trying to be helpful but I did actually say in a previous post that we should try and stick to Joss and this initiative. But I understand the reasons behind your posts.

And "well gosh" as the Mayor would say, who would have thought that the presidential election would have made it to here.
I sent an email - asking is they can at least list city or states the events are being held in. Cause I would rather attend then host as well. I have yet to receive a responce. So I am still skeptical - being in a swing state and hearing nothing but scandal after scandal about fund rasing efforts from both sides - I'll keep my skeptism in check until more information is forth coming and verified.
I'm in LA, RavenU, and there are no parties near me, nor can I throw one given that my apartment is 400 square feet. My name is spelled with two "l"s.

Just goes to show that intelligent people can disagree on this election

Yep. There's this horrible polarization in my country, I can't simply disagree with someone who is voting for the other guy, I must hate that person. If anyone saw Jon Stewart take down the hosts of Crossfire, that's what I'm talking about. Two sides screaming talking points at each other. It's not liberal v. conservative, it's communist v. fascist. And the press has been promoting this idiotic hatred, making it next to impossible to find common ground, or at least have civil discourse.

But as smo points out, intelligent people can disagree. I'll also point out that Joss and Tim work extraordinarily well together, and also? Genuinely adore each other.
Allyson - LOL! It says a lot when the only objective viewpoint you can get regarding the current political situation here in the USofA is on "The Daily Show". :-)
The Daily Show isn't all that objective, since Stewart is supporting Kerry. I was wishing that Joss would appear on Daily Show at some point this year.
I'd heard of Stewart but never seen his show but I watched the 13 min clip of him on Crossfire and was very impressed.

Sharp, bitter, intelligent and acidic. I love a comedian who has venom in his voice. The look of scorn he had for those two hosts was a joy to behold. A great television moment.
Interesting idea. I just checked and there are no parties in Chicago, where I live, but my guess is that the people behind the "high stakes" parties are just getting going with this, and are in the earlly stages of asking people to host.

I am sick of people using their celebrity for campaigns.
I, for one, have no problem with people using their celebrity to support a candidate. The right of any American to say or support whomever s/he likes is one of the most basic freedoms in the country - celebrities just have the advantage of having a somewhat bigger soapbox than most of us. Put another way: Is it fair to ask somebody to be quiet about their political views, even when they feel strongly, just because they're an actor or writer or singer or well-known personality? Every voter is still free to listen/not listen and make up his own mind based on his own priorities. And yet a lot of peole seem to get upset when celebrities endorse somebody. I found the hooplah over LInda Ronstadt earlier this year particularly troubling – she was ordered off the stage after dedicating a song to Michael Moore. Something tells me that if she had dedicated a song to the US president, the management would not have kicked her out. To me it seemed a basic squashing of her own voice/opinion. Any fan who disagreed with that opinion could have simply chosen to leave or not pay attention.
Anyhow, i'm all for joss doing what he can in an election that i think everyone - no matter which candidate they support - would agree has very high stakes indeed.
For those of you who have doubts - Caroline is, after all, the owner and creator of Whedonesque.com. I have faith that she has been contacted by trustworthy sources confirming the veracity of Joss's commitment.

Besides, where's the scam? Nobody is asking that you send money to High Stakes 2004 - only that you attend a party created thru JohnKerry.com, and that you either donate money via JohnKerry.com and bring your receipt to the party, or make out a check to John Kerry for President. No cash. No sending money to iffy addresses.

And if Joss doesn't turn up on the end of a phone line, so what? You've donated money to a cause you already supported, and spent an evening having fun with other Whedon fans. Everything else is just gravy.

After looking at the WhoIs information, HighStakes2004 seems to be initiated by this gentleman. Looks like today was the first day he could announce Joss's commitment; it's up to fans to host parties and make this work. If you just want to attend, be patient.
I'd heard of Stewart but never seen his show but I watched the 13 min clip of him on Crossfire and was very impressed.
I just watched that clip as well. Very different from his persona on the Daily Show (where his primary job is to be a comedian and - as he put it - comment on the absurdity of the system) in terms of his demeanor and seriousness, but I loved it. Couldn't agree with him more on what shows like Crossfire do to inflame an already polarized system with yet more rhetoric. And kudos to Stewart for telling them the way he saw it rather than just giving the humorous fun interview the hosts wanted (and clearly expected).
Well, worth checking out...
(sorry, i realize this has gotten a bit off topic. I, too, would love to see Joss guest on the Daily Show...)
Ok, well there is at least one party happening - I'm hosting one in Falls Church, Virginia!
It's this coming weekend - being patient is a little late if they want people to host this event since there are a lot of other Dem events going on this week - I am an independant voter and I do not like supporting either party cause it is a waste of money - I'd rather donate money to the save angel event again. I for one would not host an event or even give the Dem party any money if Joss was not involved, cause I would like to hear what he has to say, just like I have listened to Danny Strong cause they seem passionate in their positions, however, I don't count on their oppinnions swaying my vote. I have not descided who to vote for yet. The Scam is the political campaigns in a nutshell - they do nothing but waste money trying to convinvce people to vote for their guy or at least not for the other - I would feel better about it if the money was going to a charity instead of a political party. I do not fault Joss for using his clout to earn money for the Dem party that's his perogative. If however he did not participate in this it would be fraudulant on the part of the person putting it on and would also impact the party. This has already happened in some areas where guest speakers were suppose to speak at events and did not show up and claimed they were never scheduled for the event so it happens. I just want more info upfront than something that includes the letters TBA on pertinent information. Esppecially if you want people to do this within less than a 7 day period of time.
I agree with Caroline that at least Joss and other celebrities that are campaigning are trying to do something useful with their fame. I just saw 'Team America' and while it was pretty funny I just didn't understand te hatred towards celebs who speak out.

And if a celebrity gives his/her opinion, who says you 'have' to follow it? Why does it make people so mad? Just say 'I disagree'. There. That's it. That's all you have to do. Some celebs support Bush (Bruce Willis, Kelsey Grammar, SMG, etc.) and when I see them at a talk show, I don't get mad. I don't say 'they shouldn't even be speaking!!'. I just say 'I don't agree'. But they have just as much right to be heard as anyone else.

Now when a Liv Tyler (anti Bush) or a Britney Spears (pro Bush) sit there and clearly just repeat some headlines to sound interesting while chewing their gum, it bugs me too a little. But people like Sean Penn, Tim Robbins & Susan Sarandon or Janeane Garofalo to name a few have been well-informed, eloquent and intelligent. I also appreciated them having the guts to do what they did in the climate of a year ago or so, when everyone was so terrified of being 'un-american' or 'un-patriotic' that it was starting to resemble the McCarthy days. They reminded people it was still okay to openly disagree with your government because this was still America. And I think that was a good thing.

Generally, celebrities support the Democrats, which is the reason the Republicans lash out so much against them speaking. But when a republican celeb speaks out suddenly they *love* it. That's just hypocritical.

I think this is a great thing Joss does. And if you don't agree with Joss' views, don't go to one of these parties. When you read what Joss said on that day, just shrug and think: "I disagree." Really, there's nothing else to it. And not let it affect your vote one way or the other.

Allyson"The Daily Show isn't all that objective, since Stewart is supporting Kerry."

Uhm no, Jon Stewart is voting for Kerry as a person. The Daily Show as a show gives the democrats as much crap as the republicans. If the reps get it more right now, it's (as Jon said) because the reps are in charge and have a majority in the white house. The guys in charge always get it more from satirists and that's how it should be.

Simon"Sharp, bitter, intelligent and acidic. I love a comedian who has venom in his voice. The look of scorn he had for those two hosts was a joy to behold. A great television moment."

Exactly what I felt. What Jon Stewart did at Crossfire was make a point about how pundits on TV here (pretty much all right wingers btw) don't actually have debates anymore and just say the partyline and yell slogans. It was the first honest, brave and genuine moment in a political talk show I've seen on TV since I've moved to the US.

I loved Joss' support of the Dixie Chicks too. It was subtle and I know plenty of people who even missed it. What I saw was him supporting the girls who just said theit opinion and were viciously attacked in the 'Land of the Free'. I never understand that. If I hear Arnie say something I disagree with (and that happens a lot) I'm not going to go out to buy his DVDs and burn them in the street am I? No I just say to myself 'I disagree'. I thought Joss made a lovely quiet gesture and used his freedom of expression to make a point. Just like he's doing now.

Face it, most of us love it when we hear celebs speak out if it agrees with our views. If it's someone with the opposite pov, then suddenly we scream bloody murder. It's ridiculous, no one says you 'should obey' them just becaus they're famous or something. But they don't have less right to speak because they're famous either.
I'd be quite willing to host a party in the L.A. area, with two caveats:

(1) would L.A.-area (Southern Cal area) folk be willing to come to Long Beach for the event - we're just off the 405 - which, it seems, would take place mid-afternoon/early-evening?

(2) we don't own a speaker-phone. Would anyone out there (a) have one, and (b) loan it to the party for the event?

Since this is ranging somewhat OT, please reply if you're at all interested in attending at: lhowitt@earthlink.net
If there's any interest at all (say, five people), then I'll go ahead and post the announcement on the official website.

I can guarantee snacks, a selection of drinks, all 7 seasons of BtVS, the first 4 of AtS, and Firefly playing as desired, along with several Buffy book titles and comicbooks to peruse, not to forget several small children playing underfoot. Let's hear from you.

BTW: RavenU, I totally respect your political views. However, I see this party as an opportunity for like-minded people to get together for a cause they believe in. If Joss calls in, that's a big bonus. If he's unable to, we should know what we're getting into in advance. The party is, nevertheless, under his aegis, so to speak.
If however he did not participate in this it would be fraudulant on the part of the person putting it on and would also impact the party.
If Joss ended up not speaking, I agree it would certainly have been misleading on the part of the organizers. But ultimately, you go to a party like the ones described here to support John Kerry. That's who you're making the check out to. The parties will be organized through JohnKerry.com, the checks will be made out to his campaign – there's nothing fraudulant about that. RavenU, if you're not sure who you support and don't want to give money to a political party, then I think it's an easy decision: Don't go to a party. You can read about Joss's comments in transcripts on the internet later. And if someone does support Kerry, this can be a way of both donating money to their candidate and connecting with other whedonverse fans, even if in the end they don't get to hear Joss speak. I, for one, would be interested in attending but can't/won't because as a journalist I'm prohibited by my paper's ethics guidelines from giving money to a political party. Unfortunate restriction, but I respect the reasons behind it and understand the ultimate purpose of a party like this is – as is clearly stated – to raise money for a campaign.
Uhm no

Uhm, we disagree.

This is what I know, not sure if I'm any more a good source as Caroline, but at least an additional source.

A couple of weeks ago Marti's asst (used to be Joss' asst) called to ask about passwords to some of the larger Buffy sites. Joss, Marti, Alyson, and Alexis wanted to so a DNC fundraising party, according to the asst.

The party was supposed to take place on the 18th. I called over to Joss' asst to inquire as to whether it was possible given that at the time, it was only a week and a half away. He said probably not, that they would be doing a conference call, instead.

I checked back on Friday, and he said it would likely be on the 24th, that the Kerry campaign was working out the logistics.

And that was the last I knew until this morning.

I don't know if that's helpful. I'll check to confirm, or maybe Joss will post somewhere to confirm. I sent over password info for this site as well as a few others, so hopefully, he'll post himself.
EdDantes, you made some nice points about how we all want celebrities to be on our side. Too true.

Thanks for the info, Allyson. I've been wondering what the project was you alluded to in a post some days ago and now the mystery is solved.

I finally saw the Jon Stewart "Crossfire" clip and can't resist chiming in. My estimation of Stewart - already very high - skyrocketed even higher. Stewart raised supremely important issues on the responsibilities of political journalists only to have Carlson and Begala spin off into more black/white right/left shock jock-style theatrics. Carlson and Begala proved Stewart's point perfectly: this isn't much-needed reasoned debate, it's WWF for political junkies. It was fascinating to watch Stewart's eyes and expressions during this sorry show. Stewart's right: we are definitely in big trouble if political "commentators" on tv are nothing more than mouthpieces for their parties of choice. Stewart's own politics didn't affect the central point of his critique - you could see just as much scorn in his eyes towards Begala as towards Carlson. And I agree; both sides deserve scorn on this one.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-10-17 21:37 ]

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-10-17 21:43 ]
Let us not forget the Whedon fans who are not for Kerry!!, like myself. hahaha!!
Just want to say – reading over the numerous comments this thread has generated, it's nice to see how measured and non-confrontational they've been (the opposite, one might say, of a forum like Crossfire). I'm sure we all have quite strongly held political views, and yet almost everyone has managed to offer thoughtful comments about the parties, about Joss's (and other celebrities') support for Kerry, about the value of discourse, etc., without trampling all over people who might have a different view. I know everyone here already appreciates whedonesque, but it's easy to imagine how on another site a post like this might have elicited much more vitriolic and confrontational postings than we've had here.
thanks!

[ edited by acp on 2004-10-17 21:49 ]
Phlebotinin, come on over :-)
gingeriffic, I sure hope I can. It all depends on wheels, which may be a problem, alas. But thanks so much for offering to host a party. Very wonderful of you.

I second acp's appreciation for the relative graciousness with which Whedonesquers deal with political differences. There are some otherwise great Whedonverse sites out there that I rarely visit anymore because of the nastiness. Reasoned debate and mutual respect is where it's at. Viva Whedonesque!
Bill Humphries (owner of the high stakes domain) is a member of Whedonesque and an old school webhead. I know of him since the early days of weblogging (that's 1999 for me) or even before that.
"Uhm, we disagree."

I didn't mean to sound sarcastic (as I'm sure you don't mean to now;) I just mean it's not even that much of a matter of just my opinion. Jon really said he'd vote for Kerry was as a private citizen and not as 'the Daily Show host'. And that the Daily Show has given Kerry crap for months too is also a fact. Really, just watch the show. And if Kerry wins, they'll give him crap too during his run just as they gave Clinton crap. They gave Edwards crap for overtly invoking Cheney's *gay daughter* during the VP debate and they gave Cheney crap for lying about never having met Edwards before. They just give crap where crap is due. And the Bush administration as the entity in charge is just a little more 'due' right now;-)

"I checked back on Friday, and he said it would likely be on the 24th, that the Kerry campaign was working out the logistics.

And that was the last I knew until this morning.

I don't know if that's helpful. I'll check to confirm, or maybe Joss will post somewhere to confirm. I sent over password info for this site as well as a few others, so hopefully, he'll post himself. "


Thanks for that, Allyson. It's good to know it's legit. Interesting to know Aly and Alexis are on board with Joss on this stuff too.

"Carlson and Begala proved Stewart's point perfectly: this isn't much-needed reasoned debate, it's WWF for political junkies."

Oh yeah I thought that was a brilliant metaphor. And by completely avoiding his actual questions and points and instead start complaining he wasn't being 'funny enough' and that they'd hate 'to have dinner with him', they pretty much proved his point.

" know everyone here already appreciates whedonesque, but it's easy to imagine how on another site a post like this might have elicited much more vitriolic and confrontational postings than we've had here."

Definitely. I don't even really know of any other board where these topics can be discussed and agreed/disagreed upon in as civil a manner as here.

" would L.A.-area (Southern Cal area) folk be willing to come to Long Beach for the event - we're just off the 405 - which, it seems, would take place mid-afternoon/early-evening?"

Way to go SNT, and I might come, but that date is the last day my parents are visiting here, before they go back to europe (I see them once a year basically) so that's kind of bad timing for me. If anything changes (they stay longer or leave earlier, which is possible but not all that likely) I'll let you know straight away.

"Bill Humphries (owner of the high stakes domain) is a member of Whedonesque and an old school webhead. I know of him since the early days of weblogging (that's 1999 for me) or even before that."

Cool Caroline. Alright, between you and Allyson, all doubts about the legitimacy are pretty much washed away even for a natural sceptic like me;-)
I wish there were a forum where we could convince Whedon fans who support Bush why they are WRONG, but if this isn't the place, I guess there isn't one. I can't think of anything more to say on this topic that wouldn't be volatile to someone's sensibilities.
I understand that John Edwards can communicate with dead people, but jeeze, is he really the right man for vice president?
I wish there were a forum (I'm not targetting you, really, you didn't start this, but I'm not targetting Caroline either) where this stuff wasn't discussed... but I know a forum like that would most likely include only me, and as much as I love talking, sometimes I like to do it with other human beings.

I've been through the whole politics things, I've gone from partisan->indepentent (not the party)->not caring. Over this course I've become more and more libertarian. Though nowadays I don't read/watch any news that isn't tech/Whedon 'cause it's so futile given the (subjective) fact that:

Bush == Kerry or Republican == Democrat

If any candidate who is not either one of those four things (except Ron Paul, James Trafficant, Bob Barr, Alan Keyes, and Pat Buchanan) were to have a standing chance (especially in New York) I would put some effort in.

That said, Kerry looks even more goofy than Bush. I dunno about seeing him while I MST3K the state of the union address.
ZachsMind, I'm afraid I think the futility goes beyond the lack of an appropriate forum. As a native Texan living in California I find that trying to explain the culture and its products, such as Bush, to coastal people just yields blankness.
I don't want to Vote for either Bush or Kerry, unfortunalty I am forced to vote against a person. I Refuse to vote for Kerry, which is not to say i like Bush, but with Kerry's actions following the Vietnam war i refuse to vote for someone who will not make a stand for his fellow servicemen. Bah, can't we just have a decent canidate for once. Fact is the best leaders that are capable leaders that can inspire generations are most likely heads of major companies. All this being said i think the parties are great ideas no matter who you support. Too, bad i live in a small town in middle America.
dreamlogic, I too am a native texan (5th generation) and I take issue with describing Bush as a product of Texas. Remember, he was born in New Haven CT, remember his politics have as much to do with his father's patrician power base as they do wth the religious right, and remember that Dubya, most of all, is a product of America, not just one state. To categorize his psychotic approach to government as uniquely Texan is a mistake and an understatement.
I just saw that this was mentioned by atrios, one of the biggest political bloggers.
oh come on! the best thing about this election is ABC's upcoming sex news special, in which they explore (among other things) who has more sex Republican or Democrats!

anyways, i'm psyched there are some Virginian Whedonesquers out there, wohoo...of course i live in southwestern virginia so it's like i live in a different state altogether heh.

jeebs and rayne&ripper, my heart goes out for you...your posts cracked me up.

[ edited by rsfayez on 2004-10-18 03:33 ]
rsfayez - Richmond is a go, if you're up for a roadtrip. I'm a SWVa native myself (Pulaski Co); maybe you could host one of your own? (hint, hint)
SoddingNancyTribe - BTW: RavenU, I totally respect your political views. However, I see this party as an opportunity for like-minded people to get together for a cause they believe in. If Joss calls in, that's a big bonus. If he's unable to, we should know what we're getting into in advance. The party is, nevertheless, under his aegis, so to speak.

In away I have to disagree on at least one level - I think this is more than an attempt to get Democrats together because they have the same belief system and similar viewing habits. It is an attempt to get those Whedon fans who are like myself sitting firmly in the undescided camp to perhaps swing some votes John Kerry's way. This is not the first time either party has pulled a similar campaign manuever, however this is the first one I would be interested in attending and that's the reason the Kerry campaign would even - it does not taske much effeort fot the Democrats to realize that viewers of Whedon shows would fall into the potential demographic for their canidate, don't be fooled into thinking it is anything other than that. Why preach to the choir unless you have the chance to also preach to some who need conversion. They would use his clout to reach those fans by using him to get there message out, but at least Whedon fans are smart enough to go into this with their eyes open about the real meaning behind it. If I sound a bit pessimistic about motives and such it's because this scene has been played out before with different celebrities in different elections some have been legit events, others have not.
The comments on atrios are interesting. So I am adding a link.
http://atrios.blogspot.com/2004/10/high-stakes-2004.html
what's wrong with trying to convert undecided voters, though? isn't that the point of campaigning? :D
RavenU, political campaigning is about (a) fundraising, and (b) bringing people over to your side. There's nothing wrong with that, whether it comes from Dems, Repubs, Greens, Libertarians, etc. It's classic politics. Nothing intrinsically shady there. In terms of Joss Whedon's, Marti Noxon's, Alyson Hannigan's and Alexis Denisof's mutual decision to do something for the Kerry campaign, they're being upfront. They're not being forced into doing this by the Kerry folks. It's their choice. Their motives are not shady - they want to raise money for Kerry - and I can't imagine they're trying to fool anyone. It's an above-board attempt to woo money and voters for Kerry by appealing to people they know are fans of theirs. And it's being advertised as such. It's not as if they're advertising this as a non-political Whedonverse party that you buy tickets to and then wham! you walk in the door and they pull a fast one and you get lectured on pro-Kerry politics by Joss via speakerphone.

Even if Joss ends up just preaching only to the choir via speakerphone on May 24, he'll have raised $$ for the candidate of his choice. And he'll have done it in an entirely above-board, legal fashion.

Of course, as an independent and undecided voter, I can imagine you're feeling a lot of heat from both major campaigns right now and you're possibly sick of the whole thing. Come to think of it, I can't wait until all of this is over myself.

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2004-10-18 05:16 ]
ZachsMind, I'm afraid I think the futility goes beyond the lack of an appropriate forum. As a native Texan living in California I find that trying to explain the culture and its products, such as Bush, to coastal people just yields blankness.

Being from Missouri, I find there to be no explanation for people like Ashcroft, so I don't even try!

BTW, I personally care less about what a candidate has done in his past, except where it is an indication of how he will lead my nation in the future.

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2004-10-18 05:20 ]
rsfayez, what's so funny about what I said? Email me offline if you would like to discuss. addy is below.

my heart goes out to you for living in the most homophobic state in the nation. Are you aware of what your state legistlators put into effect on July 1? HB751-the most legally restrictive anti gay marriage law in the country, which seeks to limit the right to private contracts.

virgotex@mac.com

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-10-18 05:57 ]
Heh, Rogue Slayer if your from Missouri you shouldn't be surprised about Ashcroft. Look around Missouri is full of people like him, ever been to Branson. Im also from missouri and loath the censorship that Ashcroft has promoted.

A little off the subject, what about the Undead Vote?
Heh, Rogue Slayer if your from Missouri you shouldn't be surprised about Ashcroft. Look around Missouri is full of people like him, ever been to Branson. Im also from missouri and loath the censorship that Ashcroft has promoted.

Well, I'm not surprised by him at all, it's just hard to explain to people who aren't from there how people can act and think that way. And I'm actually from Springfield, so I do know Branson quite well. The Las Vegas of country music... ;~)
Smo - Great job on the political contributions link. That was really awesome. So, Joss was a originally Wesley Clark man. Very interesting.

Oh, the point about whether celebrites should use their fame for politics. I think that in a country where Ronald Reagan was President and Arnold is the Governor of California that the celebrities-should-just-stay-quiet ship has sailed, if you get my meaning.
"It is an attempt to get those Whedon fans who are like myself sitting firmly in the undescided camp to perhaps swing some votes John Kerry's way. This is not the first time either party has pulled a similar campaign manuever, however this is the first one I would be interested in attending and that's the reason the Kerry campaign would even - it does not taske much effeort fot the Democrats to realize that viewers of Whedon shows would fall into the potential demographic for their canidate, don't be fooled into thinking it is anything other than that"

I continue to be a bit baffled. Of course they try to convince people for the cause they believe in. All sides do that. Like orphea said, that's campaigning. People trying to convince other people of their pov. And frankly I'm not sure what kind of human mind goes: "Well, I guess now that a celebrity has spoken, my vote is decided". If they're out there, I've never met them. And quite frankly they'd be a little weird.....;-)

"And I'm actually from Springfield, so I do know Branson quite well. The Las Vegas of country music... ;~)"

And she took me there and I can attest to the Simpson's definition of the place: "It's what Las Vegas would be like if Ned Flanders was running it.";-)
Whoever you choose to vote for, if you choose to vote at all, it's interesting to consider whether or not BtVS would have been able to get off the ground at all if the White House administration in 1997 had been a conservative one. Could Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its occult/pagan content and reliance on a strong, independent and irreligious female heroine, have survived a more restrictive, artist-suspicious cultural environment such as the one we find ourselves in now? Something to think about.

That very show which has brought us all together depended on Joss having the artistic freedom as an American to express himself -- the exercise of which has suffered in recent years under the current administration. Not that actual laws have been passed (though some have gotten far in Congress), but there has been a chilling effect on everything -- subject to consideration on an arbitrary, totally subjective scale of what's "acceptable" or "decent" -- as social conservatives have taken over the more traditional fiscal agenda of the ruling party and attempted to coerce everyone to conform to their way of thinking. Instead of substantial focus on real problems, the POV has been shifted away to more abstract, social and religious areas (which have before not been seen as bases for creating public policy that affects the country as a whole). Co-opting terminology and telling voters what they "should" think instead of giving them genuine facts and letting them figure it out for themselves are only a couple of the strategies that are being employed to sway people's emotions and distract them from concrete issues such as the erosion of personal liberty, the denial of basic human rights, and the importance of repairing American's damaged legacy as a legitimate representative of peace, fiscal responsibility and intelligent statecraft in the world.

Patriotism doesn't belong to party affiliation, unlike so much of what I see and hear from those who say they speak on behalf of "mainstream America", nor does a personal belief in God, gods, or no god. My beliefs are my own, and I abhor the attempt of some to characterize those who differ from the prevailing stereotype they're created as being lesser Americans, lesser patriots, and lesser citizens, when in fact our values, hopes and desire for the common good are no less strong and valid than their own. As a creative individual, Joss's political leanings were visible in Buffy if you really examined the show's messages, so there shouldn't be any surprise as to his political affilation now. I support his speaking out, if he's moved to do so; and I respect that he's brave enough to risk alienating some of his fans (only if they're impressionable enough to allow the fact he's a "star" to matter to them personally, of course -- otherwise, he has no more power than any other single person who can vote).

Freedom to speak out is one of the rights JW has benefitted from and I understand why he might feel compelled to protect it, given the way things are moving in our country at the moment. It's a scary time to speak up if your opinion isn't sanctioned by what our government advocates, but Joss seems to think it's better to raise the voice you have today before it's taken away from you tomorrow. Waking up in a world like "Hush" was a horrifying hour of TV for the Scooby Gang, but what if four more years of increasing social conservatism means people like Joss (or any of us who don't "fit the mold") are silenced for honoring what's different, marginalized by the mainstream, and wrongly dismissed as promoting "evil"? If those who feel differently don't act now, we might all wake up one day soon and find out it's a nightmare that came true.

In case there's any confusion, I'm not saying one candidate or the other is "right" or "wrong". As lovers of Joss's work, I'm sure we've all moved way beyond such simplistic thinking. (And I too think this is the most civil political discussion thread I've seen anywhere this year.) I'm just saying that the rights of our Constitution protect citizen Joss's freedom to speak his mind, and I support him 100% in his choice to exercise that right.

And may God/gods/? grant that those rights remain in place, whatever happens on and after November 2nd.

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-10-18 08:02 ]
I hesitated to even post a comment in this thread, as I've discussed my opinion of celebrities speaking out before. I don't really take issue with this situation/Joss's involvement in particular. It's up front and anyone who participates knows what they are getting into. I tend to resent celebrities speaking out unexpectedly, i.e. at concerts, etc.

However, I dislike most instances of celebrities speaking out re their political opinions for another, more significant, reason. If a celeb wants to go on a political news show, announce their party affiliation, or unashamedly attend political conventions, i don't see a damn thing wrong with that.

However, it's become more and more common for political parties to actively seek out celebrity spokespeople. I think the political parties do this to target, cater to, and influence the "bottom of the barrel" so to speak, when talking about likely voters.

It would be irresponsible of the campaigns to *not* attempt to energize undecided voters, or those that may not be interested enough to vote. A lot of times, this means young voters.

If campaigns did not think that just the use of a celebrity's face and/or voice would have some influence, they wouldn't make such an effort to have a bunch of celebrities involved. When I was younger, I actually knew a few people, firsthand,who were persuaded to vote for a candidate because "several of my favorite celebrities like _____". (My association with these few people quickly ended.)

I'm not sure I have ever been able to clearly state my point of view on this issue, and I don't know if I have done so now either. I just think political campaigns enjoy using celebrities for their face/voice to appeal to people who can be easily influenced, mainly younger voters, who see so many "cool" celebrities doing little 30 second commercials and wearing partisan stickers.

EdDantes - And frankly I'm not sure what kind of human mind goes: "Well, I guess now that a celebrity has spoken, my vote is decided". If they're out there, I've never met them. And quite frankly they'd be a little weird.....;-)

It's not *a* celebrity. It's one celebrity, and another, and another, and so on. All the bright and intelligent people here at Whedonesque can make up their own minds, but we're not who the campaigns are targeting. They're after the ones they can influence, which again is to be expected, but not based on information and discussion of their respective political positions. And keep in mind, we're talking about *American* youth. I had a jolly good time being an *American* youth - but let me tell you, my desire to be informed about politics and my love of my government class, was definitely not the norm.

Long rant done.
Wiseblood, that was very beautifully stated. Thanks for sharing that.
"Could Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its occult/pagan content and reliance on a strong, independent and irreligious female heroine, have survived a more restrictive, artist-suspicious cultural environment such as the one we find ourselves in now? Something to think about."

Indeed it is. And let's not forget all the lesbianism;-)

"My beliefs are my own, and I abhor the attempt of some to characterize those who differ from the prevailing stereotype they're created as being lesser Americans, lesser patriots, and lesser citizens, when in fact our values, hopes and desire for the common good are no less strong and valid than their own."

Fully second that. (and pretty much the rest of your post) I'm not an atheist but when George Bush senior once said that he didn't consider atheists actual american citizens, my blood boiled. Still does. There it goes. *Boil*

"It's not *a* celebrity. It's one celebrity, and another, and another, and so on. All the bright and intelligent people here at Whedonesque can make up their own minds, but we're not who the campaigns are targeting. They're after the ones they can influence, which again is to be expected, but not based on information and discussion of their respective political positions."

Those are very valid points, and I agree with alot of what you said. I think tough, that ultimately, people that are *that* easily swayed will be easily swayed by something that they shouldn't be swayed by anyway. (sorry if that sounds harsh)

And another aspect is that even when it's not celebrities, campaigning and political media is already all about theater, commercials, slogans, soundbites and cheap tricks. Certainly not content. Matter of fact, some of the more intelligent discourse on social-political issues has come from certain actors in the past few years. They certainly don't sound worse than most of the ranting pundits out there, whose job it is to be talking intelligently about politics. I think that in principle being swayed by Joss Whedon is really no worse than being swayed by Bill O'Reilly. (to me personally even a lot better but I'm talking about the principle here) I guess that's another reason why I don't mind it much when celebs speak out, Rep or Dem. As long as what is said is well-informed and intelligent.

I don't mind Susan Sarandon. I do mind Britney Spears. I don't mind Bruce Willis. I do mind Arnie's antics. ("Economic girlie men"?? You're a governor now for frag's sake! Grow up...)
You're right, EdDantes, I forgot the lesbianism! My husband may never forgive me. ;) (Shoot, I may never forgive me, either. Even though we both adored Willow/Oz, sometime around "The Body" Willow/Tara became our favorite realistic, functional Jossverse couple -- the likes of which has never been seen before, or since, on network TV.)

Also, appreciate the kind words, Invisible Green. It turned into kind of an essay, and much longer than I intended, but I meant well.
Alyson Abramowitz answers some of your questions:

1. You must be a US citizen or a Green Card Holder to attend or host a party. It's a fundraiser for the John Kerry/John Edwards campaign and that's required by US law. Sorry.

2. If someone is a US citizen living abroad and wants to host a party, please contact questions@highstakes2004.com We'll see if that is possible to do.

3. Parties are just starting to be put up on the John Kerry web site. Don't panic if you can't see one in your area. Many are coming. Of course the best solution is to host one. If you'd like to host, there are many fans who would love to join you. Some places where there are fans and no host yet are Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Sacramento, and Boston.

4. There will be a list of parties with States and general areas on highstakes2004.com. Please email parties@highstakes2004.com if you are hosting one and our webmaster will list you there. The JohnKerry.com web site can only search for 25 miles in any direction so that may be an easier way to find a High Stakes party.

5. Monies from High Stakes go to the John Kerry/John Edwards campaign rather than any political party.

6. HighStakes was always a fundraiser for the John Kerry/John Edwards campaign. It has never been a fundraiser for the DNC. It was originally scheduled for the 18th. It takes forever to make these things happen with lawyers, Joss' busy schedule, etc. We'd have rather seen it be announced earlier. All of us are Joss Whedon fans too.

If you want to contact Alyson, please use queestions@highstakes2004.com
Thank you Caroline for posting the response you recieved to your questions.

Small rant coming up ....

The only thing I am having any issues with is "5. Monies from High Stakes go to the John Kerry/John Edwards campaign rather than any political party." and "6. HighStakes was always a fundraiser for the John Kerry/John Edwards campaign. It has never been a fundraiser for the DNC." Since when is there any real difference, Kerry/Edwards are the DNC representatives in this campaign, they are the politcal face of the DNC thereby the representatives of that party. Even though the money may go to paying off bills incurred by Kerry/Edwards, it is in the end the representation of DNC you are giving the money too. No matter how they spin it, you cannot truthfully believe you are a fundraiser for one canidate and not finanically support the party that canidate represents. Statements like those made simply baffle me, if not for the fact that this is but another loophole in the campaign spending laws that the parties have found a way to exploit.

Ok rant over .... except for one last thing I wish Nov 3rd would get here so this would be over with. And if either party wins, it's the American people who ultimately end up the losers one way or another, just like always.
RavenU:
Again, I'm not totally sure I understand why you're upset about the fundraising disclosures. As fare as I can tell, they're just trying to be as up-front as possible about just who your money would be going to – hardly something to fault a fundraiser for! There IS a difference between the two, even in an election year, and some people might prefer to support the broader DNC and should know that in fact their money will be going to the Kerry/Edwards campaign.
There is nothing about these parties, as far as I can see, that is not totally standard campagining/fundraising. If you don't want to financially support Kerry/Edwards, don't go. If you do, and like the idea of doing so together with a bunch of Whedon fans and hearing Joss speak, then go ahead. Will they try to convince you to vote for kerry? Of course. Will you be asked to donate money to Kerry? yes, that's explicitly stated. There's nothing that is in the slightest way deceptive about how they've advertised this. Clearly saying your money will be going to Kerry/Edwards, not the DNC, isn't "spin" - it's just full disclosure. Of course Kerry represents the Democratic party. We all know that. But it still is good to be fully clear about what the fundraising is for.

[ edited by acp on 2004-10-18 15:03 ]
Even though the money may go to paying off bills incurred by Kerry/Edwards, it is in the end the representation of DNC you are giving the money too. No matter how they spin it, you cannot truthfully believe you are a fundraiser for one canidate and not finanically support the party that canidate represents.

Because the DNC also releases money to Democratic candidates all over the country who are in tight races. I think the organizers are trying to be clear that your money isn't going to Obama in his race (he doesn't need it, he's 40 points ahead), or any other race happening. Or maybe I'm confused about your point.
Angela-

Bear with me a little. I watched something interesting on CSPan over the weekend. It was a panel on political advertising. Mark McKinnon, Bush's communication director was among the panelists. When the oft-repeated factoid about the Dems having more celebrities on their side came up, McKinnon answered with a sly grin and said "They've got celebrities. We've only got the president, the Senate, the House, the Supreme court, x number of governors, etc etc."


What is underlying all of this is that we are in a national emergency. If Bush wins, even Buffy can't help us. Do you WANT to live in a theocracy? Do you want to live in a country where abortion in any form is completely illegal? Do you want to continue to live in a coutnry that is tied to oil-based energy?

As far as influencing people, that phase of the election drive is over. Listen to strategists, the pundits, the directors of communication. Watch the candidates-they are now focusing on their base, not the undecideds. The only thing anyone is trying to influence anyone else to do right now is to get to the polls.

The phase we are in now is getting out the vote-get people to the polls, and set up the campaign chest to pay for the upcoming legal fight. There will be an upcoming legal fight, Angela, trust me. There will recounts and court battles.

This part takes money.

Whatever you feel about your right to having your entertainment be free of political bias, whatever you feel about people who "trust" celebrities to be right, it's a fact that celebrities-actors, singers, writers-- have power to reach people. Power that ads and politicians do not. Maybe it is sad that people pay more attention to Susan Sarandon or Joss Whedon than they do to you or me. However, we need all the amplification and power and reach we can get, because the other side has untold amounts of power on their side.

We are in the fight of our lives. Do you want to fight or do you want to argue about the kind of ammunition we should be using?

Oh, and Wiseblood? you rock!

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-10-18 17:19 ]
Yes, Wiseblood, you rock.
So.. we're saying.. Nader's not gonna win this year?!

*sigh*

Poor Ralph...
Hate to spoil the party, but I don’t think it matters much to the senior partners who is sitting in the oval office.

I bet they are laughing their heads off at all this debate (incidentally, I am assuming they have at least one head each).

Of course it could be that I am simply getting old and cynical in believing that a lot of power has moved from politicians to big business/global corporations and their lobbyists and that at the end of the day, in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter that much any longer who is elected.

One of those occasions where I would be delighted to be proven wrong, but I am not holding my breath.
at the end of the day, in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter that much any longer who is elected.
Oh, I beg to differ, on so many levels. Granted that politicians aren't the only ones with power, but who's president still matters a lot, especially when they're as different as these two candidates are (not least because who's in the oval office affects how much influence is given to said lobbyists and corporations). But since this isn't a political forum, and we're getting far afield from whedonverse matters, i won't go into all the reasons here. Suffice it to say I think the election DOES matter, and kudos to Joss for trying to help bring attention to it, and to the candidate he supports, through whatever means he can.
I have to give a shout out to Wiseblood, phlebotinin, jeebs, EdDantes and others who have taken the words right out from under my fingers in this thread. Excellent posts.

I must also say that this is the best line I've seen in a while: the senior partners who is sitting in the oval office. Heh heh.

And as to the DNC--money for the DNC also goes towards other aspects of the campaign, specifically and importantly towards arranging transportation on election day for low-income people who often have enormous difficulty getting to the polls and for many of whom this vote is a life or death issue.
Celebs not only have influence and high visibilty, they have dollars. Big dollars. And as jeebs said, this fight is going to take money.

To me, the famous can say whatever the heck they want. That's what its all about anyway, right? Just keep dropping those bucks into the coffers of the Less Offensive candidate, please. jeebs listed just some of the reasons I'm terrified for four more of Bush. *shudders*
I don't see the big deal at all of celebrities stating their political backings. They differ from my own, 99% of the time...but they are THEIR opinions and being in America and all...that is their right. As is mine. I will be backing BUSH. In response to Willowy up top...religion is not just a word...but it is core to who some of us are. I will vote for Bush for three reasons...#1 Abortion...I'm pro life...yep Jeebs...I would like to live in a country that abortion is illegal...and #2 Safety...I have two children, I want to keep them safe...he is the man to do it. Kerry is a joke in that matter...and #3 Gay Marriage. Don't agree. Civil unions, yes...but marriage...um, no.

I love the Whedonverse...that doesn't mean I love Joss's political idealogy and I'm sure he doesn't love mine. It's the shows I love. Fantasy. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I have to give a shout out to Wiseblood, phlebotinin, jeebs, EdDantes and others who have taken the words right out from under my fingers in this thread. Excellent posts.

I'd like to add my kudo's as well. Excellent posts.

The thought of having four more years of Bush is petrifying. I'm glad that celebrities are encouraging people to vote. They have the money and the visibility. More power to them.
I don't like the assertion that Bush or his administration is wholly responsible for the erosion of civil rights and freedom of speech. Americans were all too willing to sacrifice freedom for security in the wake of September 11. One senator voted against the PATRIOT Act. One! One abstained. That's disgraceful.

I'm a Canadian. And an atheist. That puts me at odds with a lot of what Bush stands for. I still think intelligent people can disagree on who to support in this election.

Coll, religion is a part of who people are, but it shouldn't be how the government makes decision. Would you be comfortable in a society wherein government officials officially supported a religion other than your own? Would you be comfortable living in a country run by people who draw up laws according to their Muslim beliefs? If not, can you imagine how non-Christians might feel in Bush's America. Should your religion really make you less likely to vote for an atheist, or a Buddhist, or...?

Also, what's the difference between Bush and Kerry on gay marriage? Both believe it shouldn't be acceptable. The only difference is that one supports a constitutional ammendment to ban it outright. I think it's important to ask what marriage is, exactly. Is it a religious institution? If so, what if a major religion were to sanction marriage for gay couples? Would you support it then? Or is it up to your religion to define it and that's it? If it isn't a religious institution, then why not extend marriage rights -- and the term itself -- to gay couples?
I feel like I need to clarify that bit about religious belief. It isn't so much about which religion politicians subscribe to, but rather how devoted they are to the propagation of their religion through the use of the state.
jeebs - What is underlying all of this is we are in a national emergency.

See, not everyone thinks so. It doesn't scare the bejesus out of me to have a vocal, religious President. Maybe if we actually had a President who benefited from divine guidance, we'd be better off. :) I know Bush can really get going with the "God is on my side" rhetoric, but rhetoric abounds on both sides. We've been living in a country tied to oil based energy for quite some time now. Bush didn't create that problem.

And as far as influencing people, I do watch the pundits and strategists, so much so in fact, that I frequently want to tear my hair out. Bush is after his base - religious conservatives. Kerry's still out for undecideds, or unmotivateds, i.e., keep scaring the elderly and energize the young adults who are, in a way, his "base" because young adults, to a huge degree, are liberal.

I am Pro-Choice. I've got no problem with the NRA. I am pro civil unions, which represents to me a compromise that affords gays the same rights and benefits as married couples, but allows conservatives and traditionalists to feel they have held on to something too. I am tired of the idea that the best way to care for citizens of America is to provide safety net, after safety net, tossing personal responsibility out the window. I'm tired of the "tax cut for the rich" rhetoric. Take a look at the percentage of taxes the richest pay. I don't want "under god" taken out of every classroom and the Star Spangled Banner. I don't think you have to erase any evidence of religion from the face of the nation in order to preserve religious freedom.

Ahh, I veer far off course. Intelligent people can disagree, and do frequently. I am voting for Bush. Maybe that's partly because I am very bitter toward the Democratic Party. Way, way up this thread Allyson made a reference to not recognizing her own party. I am a social liberal, but I respect those that aren't.

I was a senior in high school when Clinton first ran for office and I was devastated that I was born a month too late to vote. But I proudly wore a "Clinton/Gore" shirt (Well, it was actually a shirt I bought in Hollywood from a lesbian/gay novelty store that said, "We can lick Bush if we want to" hee hee, but then clarified my point by writing "It's Time For Change" on the back. Yeah, the Principal made me turn the shirt inside out.)

The Democratic Party has become something I don't recognize, and don't particularly care for any longer. And frankly, watching Kerry speak makes me squirm. I find him icky.

Well, I have veered far off course. Yet again. I do rather enjoy the normal absence of political discussion at Whedonesque, but on a rare occasion like this, reading the mature, thought-provoking and civil political debate here makes me proud to be a member.

[ edited by Angela on 2004-10-18 19:26 ]
Coll, of course you are entitled to express your beliefs. The fact that they are pretty much polar opposites of mine don't bother me one bit. You aren't alone. But neither am I. I'd just like to see our government be tolerant, even indulgent, of any and all beliefs, aside from those that impose restrictions on others. Yay America...land of the free!

I can't subscribe to government decision or law-making when it comes to telling me or any woman what to do with my body. Or looks at me as somehow "less than" because of my choice or un-choice of theological beliefs.

Triple yikes. Shades of THX-1138. Of Orwell. And gay marriage? WTF? Who cares? Let these people be together if they want! Let it be sanctioned, if they feel the need. How is it hurting anyone? It certainly isn't hurting me or mine. I say be happy for them.
Good questions,Smo!

marriage is a religious institution for which the US government provides the sacrament of Social Security survivorship benefits, along with 1,048 other benefits.

Civil unions usually, though not always really means separate but "equal."

The truth is the majority of people in this country are homophobic. The question is, to what degree? One of the things the phrase "civil unions" often represents is a way for the less homphobic to distance themselves from the more rabid homphobes. They're happy for us queers to have some of our rights and they hope we'll take our visitorship rights and our rights to form private contracts and powers of attorney and just go away and shut up about wanting the rest of our benefits, the same ones that straight people get.

The next time someone, yes, even my guy John Kerry, says they support civil unions, ask them what benefits should go along with that. The list is usually (not always) very short, much shorter than the 1,049 benefits listed by the federal Office of General Accounting that are conferred by the US government when individuals enter that "religious" institution.

Yes, John Kerry's wrong on that one, too. But John Kerry also had the guts to stand up in a national debate and say that he believed homosexuality was not a choice. Do you have any idea how courageous that is for a politician in the US?

I'll take a candidate who's short-sighted over a candidate who has openly vowed to codify his so-called religious beliefs into federal law by amending the US Constitution.

no Angela, Bush didn't create our oil-based energy dilemma, but he is so far up into the Saudi's asses that he's not going to be working that hard to eliminate it, either.





[ edited by jeebs on 2004-10-18 19:39 ]

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-10-18 19:52 ]
Wiseblood, very well put.

Gonna have to check for a Colorado party. I'm happy to state
that Colorado is no longer a lock-in for Bush. As I've posted
before, a number of life long Republican's in this state are
thinking about breaking with the "party-line" and voting their
"conscience" (their words, not mine).

There's a ballot initiative in Colorado to split the electoral
college vote based on popular vote. The Republican's have been
campaining heavily against it. My wife Sandy (a life long
Republican) thinks it would be just hilarious if Kerry wins the
state and the amendment goes down to defeat!
On preview: marriage, as it currently stands in the US, isn't a religious institution, not entirely, and that's the problem, as i see it. Atheists can marry through a JP just as easily as Christians can marry in front of a religious figure. (As an aside I don't think this matters much to the traditional marriage argument, though, because it doesn't accept that marriage can or should be totally separated from the state-sanctioned rights it confers.) I think either the state should stop recognizing all marriage, and stick to civil unions for heterosexual and homosexual couples, or grant gay couples the right to marry, at least in the legal sense. Anyway, no one's asking Christians to recognize anyone else's marriage in the religious sense.

I'm tired of the "tax cut for the rich" rhetoric. Take a look at the percentage of taxes the richest pay.

I don't believe this line is very effective for the Democrats, even if it is, nevertheless, true. People see their own taxes go down and they think, "Hey, I'm better off." And if they are better off, why shouldn't the wealthiest members of society be better off too? We're all better off! Except this isn't how it works out. Instead, the wealthiest are way better off. The problem, I think, stems from a misunderstanding of the tax system and the American reluctance to set up progressive tax structures, mostly because of a misguided understanding of free market ideology, which is so powerful there.

It's important to note that the United States' tax system is among the least progressive in the developed world. (By "progressive," I mean a tax system that uses brackets, and increases the percentage of income taxed as one rises through the brackets). While it's true in numerical terms that the richest Americans pay a lot more in tax, it's also true that they pay a remarkably low percentage of their income at the highest bracket. I believe it's around 35% now. Yes, that's more than the Average Joe in the US, but it isn't much, by comparison to, say, Canada or other Western countries.

It's very important to note that no matter how much money you make, your first, say, $7000 (or wherever the brackets begin in the US) will never ever be taxed, no matter how much money you make. Likewise, your next, say, $10,000 will always be taxed at the same rate, no matter how much money you make.

Bush's tax cuts cut all brackets, almost equally, and eliminated one altogether. Why shouldn't he have done this? Because if the government cuts the lowest tax brackets, the most affluent in society are still better off. The reason? They have to pay less on the income that falls into the lowest bracket. So now the wealthiest Americans get to enjoy a reduction in every bracket because they make enough to fall into all of them, while the Average Joe only gets to enjoy the cuts in the brackets for which he qualifies (i.e., not many by comparison).

Some economists argue that this creates a disincentive to make more money. If the government is going to tax your next, say, $10,000 at 32%, rather than the last $10,000 you made, which was taxed at 27%, people won't want to work for that extra $10,000. While this is true in the weak sense (i.e., that some people may not work as hard), there's no reason to believe that this is true in the strong sense (i.e., that most people won't work for the extra $10,000). The key, of course, is balace. Which brings me back to the US having one of the least progressive tax systems in the world and the widest gulf between socioeconomic classes. (If you're interested in why the latter is a problem, as well as some of the other economic imbalances created by Bush's handling of the American economy, check out this letter to President Bush from a laundy list of economics professors. The idea that there's a "tipping point" is one widely accepted in economics, and it's a good reason behind the counter-intuitive argument that the government should create disincentives for the generation of extreme wealth, at least not without the redistribution of it (flat taxes, or weak brackets, don't do this, not enough).

[ edited by Smo on 2004-10-18 20:25 ]
That Colorado initiative is being closely watched by folks from all sides, isn't it.

I've ranted and bloviated enough, so I'll say adios with this:

whatever side you support, get out and vote! Work the system, volunteer your time, your money, your transportation, whatever to making sure everyone who wants to vote gets to vote. Make calls for your candidate, walk the block, drive folks to the polls, make sandwiches for canvassers, whatever.

Participate!
I still don't really see the problem either. And not just because I share Joss' views. If Emma Caulfield did a similar thing for Bush, I wouldn't really be upset whether the money goes to the Bush or the GOP because really, in every actual sense, what's the difference?

jeebs"What is underlying all of this is that we are in a national emergency. If Bush wins, even Buffy can't help us. Do you WANT to live in a theocracy? Do you want to live in a country where abortion in any form is completely illegal? Do you want to continue to live in a coutnry that is tied to oil-based energy?"

Funny. I say almost those exact words on a daily basis lately...

jeebs"We are in the fight of our lives. Do you want to fight or do you want to argue about the kind of ammunition we should be using?"

I agree. I don't think I've ever seen a more important election in my lifetime. By now, 'Whatever it takes!' has slowly become my motto. (used to be 'ends don't always justify the means' but that's what desperation and sheer terror will do fer ya)

"Yes, Wiseblood, you rock."

She does. Unless I remember incorrectly and she's a he. In which case he rocks. Ignore me.

Miranda"Of course it could be that I am simply getting old and cynical in believing that a lot of power has moved from politicians to big business/global corporations and their lobbyists and that at the end of the day, in the big picture, it really doesn’t matter that much any longer who is elected."

Hehe. You wouldn't happen to know what the late Bill Hicks once said on that topic would you? I think you'd like it...

Coll"In response to Willowy up top...religion is not just a word...but it is core to who some of us are."

On a rational level I can understand that Coll. But one of the cornerstones of the whole concept of America is that there is a separation between church and state. That there is true religious freedom. Which means the government should not ever favor any religion over any other or let the laws be led by a certain religion. If you don't agree with that, than you don't really want to live in 'an America', you want to live in a theocracy.

And no offense, but I have a feeling that if a president was like Bush in that regard but favored a different religion than your own, you'd feel the exact same way about him as I do about Bush. I doubt you'd cheer on a muslim president, and that says something about the principle.

Smo"I feel like I need to clarify that bit about religious belief. It isn't so much about which religion politicians subscribe to, but rather how devoted they are to the propagation of their religion through the use of the state. "

Which, if all the talk about America's principles and freedom is even worth a grain of dirt, should be not at all. As you said, both Kerry and Bush are against gay marriage, but at least Kerry understands he should not shove his personal religious feelings down the throat of the rest of the country.

Angela"I don't want "under god" taken out of every classroom and the Star Spangled Banner. I don't think you have to erase any evidence of religion from the face of the nation in order to preserve religious freedom."

Problem is, have anything government-sponsored that has anything religious in it, and there is already a small lack of religious freedom. It is already suggested that the 'norm' for being an american is that you have to be religious. (And frankly the fact that 'under god' was added to the oath in the days of McCarthyism should already be enough reason to remove it)
And yes sure, if you're an atheist, you can tell your kid he doesn't have to join in in the classroom when they say it. And then see your kid come home because he was again beaten up in the playground for not being a real american. Think I'm making that up? It's already happened all over the country. It's the result for making religion 'the norm' in things like the oath instead of a freedom.

But then as I said to Coll, at heart many of those people don't really want to live in a religious free America, they want to live in a country with a government that favors the religion of their choice. And maybe out of niceness 'allows' other religions too. That's not religious freedom. It's not constitutional. I don't see how that is something you can have concessions on. It's like being a little bit dead, or pregnant. Either it is or it isn't.

True religious freedom means no religion in government. Any deviation from that and you don't really have that freedom.

Willowy"Triple yikes. Shades of THX-1138. Of Orwell. And gay marriage? WTF? Who cares? Let these people be together if they want! Let it be sanctioned, if they feel the need. How is it hurting anyone? It certainly isn't hurting me or mine. I say be happy for them."

You know Willowy, I'm from Holland. We were the first country to legalize gay marriage and it wasn't even a 'big thing' when it happened. And guess what? Our society hasn't even crumbled! Straight people sill get married too same as ever. And their marriages are completely untouched by the fact that gay couples can be official too. The main difference I've seen is that at the supermarket you can now also buy 'Groom-Groom' and 'Bride-Bride' statues for on top of wedding cakes. And we've even survived that. (please note sarcasm;-) I don't understand the problems in america on that topic and I never will. It all comes down to one thing basically: "You're different from me, so you don't get the same rights as me".

Which of course, is hardly a new thing in the world.

Oh and Smo, excellent post on the taxes thing.
That Colorado initiative is being closely watched by folks from all sides, isn't it.

Yes. I was just trying to be ironic. As in be careful of what
you wish (or campaign) for.
I will be backing BUSH. In response to Willowy up top...religion is not just a word...but it is core to who some of us are. I will vote for Bush for three reasons...#1 Abortion...I'm pro life...yep Jeebs...I would like to live in a country that abortion is illegal...and #2 Safety...I have two children, I want to keep them safe...he is the man to do it. Kerry is a joke in that matter...and #3 Gay Marriage. Don't agree. Civil unions, yes...but marriage...um, no.

Gee Coll, you just stated 3 of the reasons why I am supporting Kerry!
I'm from Holland. We were the first country to legalize gay marriage and it wasn't even a 'big thing' when it happened. And guess what? Our society hasn't even crumbled! Straight people sill get married too same as ever. And their marriages are completely untouched by the fact that gay couples can be official too. The main difference I've seen is that at the supermarket you can now also buy 'Groom-Groom' and 'Bride-Bride' statues for on top of wedding cakes. EdDantes

Someday the rest of the world will catch up with Holland. I hope.

Someday...
"You're different from me, so you don't get the same rights as me." - Ed

So, so beyond true. Any type of fundamentalism is so very dangerous because it means exactly that. And once that type of thinking gets any kind of major foothold on one issue? There's no stopping it.

One of the reasons I liked Star Trek:TNG was that they had gotten so beyond that type of thinking. Successfully. And to the true benefit of all beings subscribing to the notion of respect for diversity. The IDIC personified.

I know its a fictional tenet (actually thought up by Roddenberry to sell medallions, but oh WELL), but its one that I wish was practiced on this planet. More atrocities have been visited on humankind in the name of fundamentalist religion than crime and illness combined. That's pret-ty bad, folks.
Let these people be together if they want! Let it be sanctioned, if they feel the need. How is it hurting anyone? It certainly isn't hurting me or mine. I say be happy for them."


But don't you see, Willowy? It's tearing at the very fabric of familys and marriage and stuff. It hurts families. Cuz if gays aren't allowed to marry other gays, they'll go ahead and marry a straight person and have kids. If gays can marry gays, we'll have less families. And then the families will, uh, be extinct and then there won't be anymore people because if we let gays marry, then everyone will be gay, because they will breed out the straightness. See? And in my personal life, I've noticed that I love my hubby less and less just *thinking* about being able to marry Eliza Dushku, cuz she's hot! So see? It hurts marriages. (um, this should go without saying, but sarcasm off)

Gee Coll, you just stated 3 of the reasons why I am supporting Kerry!

Big freakin' ditto!

Someday the rest of the world will catch up with Holland. I hope.

Someday...


Noooo!! Then we'll all be gay, wooden shoe-wearing potheads. Really, I can't distract my hubby away from my Spike poster long enough to get the blunt out of his hand so I can clean his klompen!!

....I'm bitter today....don't mind me!
Rogue Slayer - you made my day!
"...If gays can marry gays, we'll have less families. And then the families will, uh, be extinct and then there won't be anymore people because if we let gays marry, then everyone will be gay, because they will breed out the straightness. See?..." - Rogue Slayer

ROFL! I love it! What's so sad is that those are actually some of the statements being made by those against it. What worries me is THEM breeding. Whoops! There I go, violating the IDIC again! ;)
Ahh, but Rogue Slayer, you left out the slippery slope argument. If gays are allowed to marry...the next logical step is that someone will want to marry their pet goat! :)
Ahh, but Rogue Slayer, you left out the slippery slope argument. If gays are allowed to marry...the next logical step is that someone will want to marry their pet goat

Ah yes, because two consenting adults is SO the same thing as one consenting adult and one oblivious goat. Well, except the goat really was a tease....

What worries me is THEM breeding.

And they do....like freakin' bunnies!

[ edited by Rogue Slayer on 2004-10-18 21:44 ]
Angela, smiley-face disclaimer and all, don't tell me you really believe that do you? (I mean, yes, someone somewhere may well want to marry his or her pet goat - but acknowledging the right of gay people to marry doesn't make that more or less likely one scintilla.) Lines are drawn all the time; some lines are rational, some irrational. Many thought the laws prohibiting black from marrying white in Virginia and elsewhere in the 60s were "G_d's laws", and that their removal would lead to bestiality and other such horrors. Didn't happen. Won't happen with gay marriage either. The two are distinguishable in a multitude of significant ways.

I'm now suffering from a surfeit of seriousness. (As Daffy Duck might say). Someone tell me when I can be all whedonesque-y and goofy again.
I'm now suffering from a surfeit of seriousness. (As Daffy Duck might say). Someone tell me when I can be all whedonesque-y and goofy again

Nov 3rd!
Isn't it just ridiculous? I actually listened to a radio talk show host (can't remember who now) who identified those politicians that made the slippery slope argument as it relates to gay marriage. It covered everything from, polygamous marriages to well, the goat scenario.

How does one function on a day to basis when paranoia, or OCD, or whatever, forces you to "WHAT IF?!?" that much? Sigh. I understand that there are kind hearted, decent folks out, more specifically elderly folks, who love the "traditional" marriage and are homophobic, but in an I-dont-understand-and-it-scares-me kind of way. I actually feel for that type of person, society is passing them by. They remember the "good old days" and everything looks so different now...

Then there are the religious nuts who have a bigoted hatred. Not talking about them. No sympathy there.

I said in an earlier post that I am for civil unions, as I see it as a compromise, as long as they afford all, and I mean, all the same benefits as marriage. Civil unions might be the first step. But you know, when that day comes that gay marriage is legal, I'm going to be buying several friends wedding presents and boogeying down at receptions.
Rest assured SNT, my last post cleared up any worry or confusion you may have had. I was just missing a bit of humor myself! Should have added .

Ok, you're "yes someone, somewhere might want to..." just cracked me up.
I have to give a shout out to Wiseblood, phlebotinin, jeebs, EdDantes and others who have taken the words right out from under my fingers in this thread. Excellent posts.

Ditto! And Smo, thanks for your post on taxes. I would only like to add that while the prez wants to focus on federal taxes, let's remember how much has been cut in federal money to states and local governments, which has forced these governments to raise state and local taxes. And lets remember all the unfunded mandates the feds have passed (much having to do with so-called homeland security). Where is that money supposed to come from? For the $300 I got back from the feds, I have lost far more in higher property taxes, higher sales taxes, etc. And if you add the problems in the economy . . .

And perhaps I am really dense, but can someone please explain to me how we are safer with Bush? This is so often said, and I just don't understand it. How can a warmonger who has opened us up to more hatred and retaliation in the world make us safer?

I am not uncritical of Kerry; I don't agree with him on everything. But I don't agree with anything Bush stands for, and the man scares the bejeezus out of me.

And, go Joss. I hope the parties are a success on all fronts. If I weren't traveling that day, I'd throw one.
Getting back to the celebrity endorsement—or at least support—issue: I don’t see why it should be frowned upon as long as they are well-informed. I would hope the American public would not be swayed to vote one way or the other for the sole reason that their favourite actor or musician got behind a particular candidate and that any person who was that impressionable wouldn’t be old enough to vote in the first place. ;-) It is discouraging that an ordinary person or group can work tirelessly for years to raise awareness on something like voter registration, AIDS or the environment and it only takes a celebrity or two at an event to make people pay attention.

I don’t think I can add anything to the rest of the comments that Wiseblood, EdDantes or jeebs haven’t already said (and much more eloquently at that). I am an independent in a battleground state that has a lot of conservative Republicans and I am voting for Kerry/ Edwards. To anyone who supports Bush (as inconceivable as that is to me), it’s not a matter of you are wrong and I am right. You are as entitled to enjoy at least one kind of freedom of choice while you still can. That said, there is absolutely nothing anyone could say at this point that would make me vote for Bush because I’m not sure the country can survive four more years of this administration. From the environment to education to the elderly to the economy to national security, he had his chance and the country is going to hell in a handbasket. He’s like an alcoholic in deep denial that he has a problem and of the consequences that stem from that problem. He (and Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft and puppetmaster Karl Rove) are arrogant bullies who seem oblivious to the big picture and whenever Bush is called on something, he rings his 9/11 Pavlov’s bell to divert attention from his lack of a good answer or lack of understanding. Kerry might not be the perfect candidate, but when I consider the alternative, I couldn’t vote any other way.
Eventhough everybody is playing nicely (and thank you for that!) this discussion has now veered off course quite a bit.
Just confirmed with Mike Boretz (Joss Whedon's assistant) that yes, Joss will be participating and they are just working out the time.
And with that, we're back on topic. Thanks, Allyson!
Well, Joss's participation is assured, maybe there'll be guest appearances (just my conjecture, I have no independent basis for saying so), fun can be had, sooo:

I repeat, if any whedonesquers in the LA area - and there must be a fair few of you - want to attend a fundraiser in north Long Beach at which JW will speak by conference call, food and drinks will be provided, and new friends made, let me know. So far I've had a couple of responses, but I kinda need a few more before I can really commit to hosting. According to the site, the party will be starting around 1 p.m. next Sunday. Sorry for the self-plug, but this is a fairly short time-frame for getting up and running. :)
"Eventhough everybody is playing nicely (and thank you for that!) this discussion has now veered off course quite a bit."

Yeah sorry Caroline. Kinda hard to prevent I guess, ahem. But indeed kudos to us all as a board for staying civil. Face it, pretty much any other board and everyone would have killed each other already. Big boards full of corpses....
Just wanna say some quick niceties to some folks who responded to me, I hope that's okay. Won't start new political topics.

Bad Kitty"Someday the rest of the world will catch up with Holland. I hope."
Funny thing is, believe it or not, we're still mostly a protestant christian country.

Willowy"One of the reasons I liked Star Trek:TNG was that they had gotten so beyond that type of thinking. Successfully. And to the true benefit of all beings subscribing to the notion of respect for diversity."
A very optimistic view on the future indeed. I'm afraid I'm too pessimistic to see us heading there ayntime soon.....

Rogue Slayer"And in my personal life, I've noticed that I love my hubby less and less just *thinking* about being able to marry Eliza Dushku, cuz she's hot! So see? It hurts marriages."
I love my wife....;-) By the way, I think 'Oblivious Goat' may be the most brilliant internet handle I've ever heard. I may have to change mine!

Oh and Bloodflowers: great post.

There, all done. Anyhoo, so Joss is confirmed. Good. But time is so short! I hope people will manage to get some parties off the ground! I checked the Kerry site again and still nothing that says High stakes. (At least in my area code) Anyone else see anything pop up yet?

And SNT: I wish I could! I really do. But doesn't look like it. If only it was all a week later!
Yes Caroline, thank you for indulging us. We just kind of went with it, and I for one thought it ended up being a great thread. Nobody got bloody and some really great points and statements were made. Good on us all.

Plus, I had fun. Thank goodness for Whedonesque! *hugs to all*
I'm with Willowy Caroline - relatively knew to Whedonesque, but I felt right at home quickly. Thanks to you and the mods for creating and maintaining such a rich environment for us Whedon fans to gather in, and thanks for this thread, where we all proved intelligent, thought-provoking, and *civil* political discussion can be had online. Rarely. In small doses. :)

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