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The Party is Never Over if the Elephant is Still In the Room May 3, 2009

1877 Cartoon by Thomas Nast "Another such victory and I am done."

1877 Cartoon by Thomas Nast "Another such victory and I am done."

“The Republicans are dead! The Republicans are dead! Stick a fork in..It’s done!” declares the pundits. They are certain that there has been a ship wreck.  Wounded soldiers buried under piles of rock and wood. You can still hear a few guttural sounds emitting. “Rebuild!!”  they say.  Cameras are flashing from the drive by media.  Curious onlookers stop to examine the battlefield of what seems like the political fatality of the century (so far).

Aw, leave the poor thing alone. Obama won. He can stop campaigning now and you can end the blame games and gloating. It has been more than 100 days since Barry rode a donkey into town, passing out palm leaves to his adoring fans. We get the idea. Shouldn’t you be out and about striving for social utopia someplace?

Unsurprisingly, the quasi journalistic  buffoons at the Huffington Post jump in on the “GOP is dead” frenzy:

Friday Talking Points [75] — Monster Raving Loony Party
Chris Weigant
Posted May 1, 2009 | 09:19 PM (EST)

…we must (sadly) turn our eyes to the Republican Party. Because they appear to be losing all touch with reality, so it’s best to keep an eye on them at this point. For starters, they are calling a special Republican National Committee meeting in the next month to vote on (as if they could) forcing their opposition to change their name to what is variously described as the “Socialist Democratic Party” or the “Democratic Socialist Party” (as well as variations where they intentionally leave out the “-ic” just to twist the knife).

I’m serious — you just can’t make this stuff up. The most pressing thing to the GOP right now is throwing a tantrum. No wonder the public is leaving their party in droves.

During this party meeting, in addition to the all-important issue of having a meaningless vote on a rightwinger’s wet dream, they are also going to have a return of their party leadership battle, as the faction that lost attempts to take away the power of the purse from chairman Michael Steele. While unified in their hatred of all things Democratic, they are going to show some more party unity… by refighting a factional power struggle.

Steele, meanwhile, just agreed with a caller on a radio show that Barack Obama is a “magic Negro.” Again, you just can’t make this stuff up. Steele, if you’ve been in a coma for a few months, is African-American himself.”

No really? You don’t say? Michael Steele is a black man? You are right Huff Poop, you really can’t make this up.

Be careful!!! Wait I think the elephant just moved. It did so wearily but from the sight of the media folk skittering like roaches to convince everyone that they just bagged an elephant, that the Republicans are immobilized for 8 years, one may suspect that there is an underlying reason for their redundancy.   I wonder.

Elephants have always been interesting to me. Not the Dumbo Disney kind but the real life elephant. It was the strength and size of an elephant that made them endearing to me then and now.

A childhood trip to Lincoln Park Zoo was never complete without cotton candy and a swing by the elephant house. If we were lucky with timing, the zoo keeper would allow us to touch one. Kids crowded around the tree and I would always scurry up towards the front of the group and press my fingers into the elephant’s thick skin looking strait up- way up at its ears. Of course ,I had to whine and beg in order for mom to purchase something for me from the zoo gift shop. After all I had to commemorate my brave act of touching an elephant. Later that night when mother was folding laundry, I was too busy reading a book of interesting elephant facts to help her. It was her fault. She should not have bought me the book.

Did you know?

The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months. That is over 620 days!!!

Elephants sleep standing up

They are fascinated with the dead bones of other elephants, it is rumored that they have burial grounds

Elephants are very social. They like to snuggle

Elephants demonstrate concern for members of their families they take care of weak or injured members and appear to grieve over a dead companion.

They can run 24 MPH.

The elephant is a highly intelligent animal and has a complex social structure.

They cool off by fanning their ears.

They drop about 80 pounds of solid waste every 24 hours.

They eat grass and tree bark.


I remained virtually untouched by political life until I was about seven. Jimmy Carter was running for office and my teacher would have ABC News on during class. She promised that it was an “educational experience”, which was not too much of a stretch (until she turned on All My Children).

It was Jimmy Carter against President Gerald Ford. I knew that Ford was the “bad guy” and Carter was the “good guy”. It must have been true because my mother told me so. Ford was bad because he was Nixon’s friend. Nixon got fired because he lied and was a crook. Nixon was also bad because Sesame Street and cartoons were preempted by the Watergate coverage.  See? Got it Mom!!!

All my child prodigy like political genius aside, I was still a bit too young to grasp what a political party actually meant to my family at the time. I could see a split screen of the two men. Jimmy Carter had a donkey next to his face and President Ford had an…an…elephant!!!  Hey that elephant is cuter than that donkey.

I should have thought first but the words just jumped from my mouth “I like Ford!!!” Yeah I was kind of loud about it too. “I want Ford to win.”

The fact that I was a child was immaterial to my teacher. She didn’t know that I could not diss the elephant.  “Go sit in the hot seat!!!!” she said,  pointing to the group of chairs facing the wall. That usually meant I was getting an ass whooping later. I hated Catholic school.

About 12 licks with a wooden 2×4 and 100 lines of “I will not shout in class” later,  that day became a Polaroid in my head. The guys with the elephant symbol were bad and I should stay away. Always go for the donkey. I would miss liking their thick skin, largeness. How majestic they looked when they grazed and endured the wild. However everything must succumb to reality served up with a 2×4.

I cheered with my mother when the donkey won. I cursed at Dan Rather with her when the elephant won in 1980. “Times will be hard because Reagan said he wants to make this country what it used to be.” she explained. “What he means is that he wants blacks to be slaves again. The Republicans never want to help black people, only rich whites.”

I hated Ronald Reagan from that day on. I was sent home from school for laughing when it was announced over the loudspeaker that Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr.  “


You see in 6th grade I lived in a suburb of Chicago named appropriately Oak Park, Illinois.  Glorious, pristine, Oak Park- home to actress Betty White, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and Earnest Hemingway. Beautiful ginkgo trees, red bicycles, white picket fences, and very very Republican.  It was not Chicago that was for sure.I was confused. It was only four short years ago that the donkey was living large. Now I was getting punished  again- this time for not choosing the elephant.

These are silly childhood stories I know, but please consider that each experience served as an important early lesson in politics for me: always keep your mouth shut and never count the Republicans out.  That elephant’s body may be held together with bandages but you can bet your last tax dollar, it will rise again.

It would be wise for everyone to remember this, as they are searching the allegorical ivory coast looking for elephant to prey upon.

Autographed Letter Signed,




Liberals, Libraries, and Child Pornography by Jenn Q. Public

Images by Red Kite Animation

Images by Red Kite Animation

The following article by Jenn Q. Public* originally appeared as a guest post on Red Alerts.

It’s a no-brainer. You see someone looking at child porn, you call the cops, right?

Not if you want to keep your job at the Lindsay branch of the Tulare County Library system in California.

When library assistant Brenda Biesterfeld saw 39-year-old Donny Lynn Chrisler viewing images of naked boys on a Tulare County library computer last year, she told her supervisor, Judi Hill. Hill’s solution was to have Biesterfeld hand Chrisler a note explaining that his behavior was not permissible and that he would be banned from the library if it happened again. Biesterfeld was explicitly told she should not report the incident to authorities.

Fortunately, Biesterfeld recognized the inappropriateness of administering the equivalent of a time out to a guy checking out child porn in public. She helped officers catch Chrisler in the act of viewing kiddie porn images, resulting in his arrest. Additional images were found in his home, and he is now awaiting trial.

When she told her supervisor what she had done, Biesterfeld was admonished for lack of loyalty to the County, and even threatened. Biesterfeld told Hill she was not just a county employee, but a mother and a citizen as well.

Two days later, Brenda Biesterfeld was fired, just before her employee probationary period expired.

I’m sure most of you join me in applauding Brenda Biesterfeld as a hero, a model citizen who puts the safety of children before her career. But I do want to impress upon all of you that this type of situation is more common than you think, and is symptomatic of a larger problem with the “professional ethics” drilled into future librarians by graduate programs and the American Library Association.

I ought to know – I’ve been through it.

After college, I began working in an academic library and decided to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science. If nothing else, my indoctrination into librarianship drove home one point: never, ever give law enforcement officials information about a library patron.


Those who obstruct law enforcement are deified as defenders of First Amendment rights, while those who adhere to legal mandates by cooperating with local or federal officials are pariahs in the library world. I was 22 and in love with libraries and books. Nerdy, I know, but championing First Amendment rights, actually helping to defend the American public from censorship, sounded so noble.

And I believed all this discussion of professional philosophy and information ethics was purely theoretical. Surely no pedophile would use the public access computers in the library to download kiddie porn.

But then, a technically savvy coworker came to me, pale and visibly shaken, and told me he had found horrible, unspeakable images of children on a library computer. The hard drive, he said, was completely filled with movies and stills. He also said he knew who had downloaded the pornographic content.

I went with him to offer moral support as he informed our supervisor. She assured us she would handle things in consultation with the college administration.

I’m embarrassed to write this, but in all honesty, I moved on from that incident pretty quickly. Unlike my coworker, I didn’t have the images emblazoned on my very synapses, I didn’t know the identity of the person who had downloaded the vile stuff, and I had every faith that my boss, a person for whom I had great respect and admiration, would handle the situation appropriately.

Weeks later, I discovered that this extremely liberal east coast college had disappeared the incident. The network logs had been wiped clean, the hard drive had been destroyed, and my questions about whether the FBI had been notified were skillfully evaded.

I was naive.
I watched my coworker, the guy who initially found the child porn, literally make himself sick as he struggled with whether or not to circumvent the academic administration by reporting the issue directly to law enforcement. Unlike me, he wasn’t sure we should trust they had been notified. I decided he was probably right when subtly, and then not so subtly, he was pressured into resigning his position. On his last day, my coworker told me more about the guy who had downloaded the materials.

He was a student in the childhood education program.

That was the beginning of the end for my library career. Over time, I found that this was not the only point at which my sense of right and wrong diverged from the philosophical underpinnings of 21st century librarianship. But I’ll save those stories for another day.


Today my concern is that a subset of librarians continue to aid and abet pedophiles in the name of free speech and privacy. Their mission to promote intellectual freedom by ensuring patron confidentiality nearly always seems to trump their responsibility to protect our children from pedophiles.

Librarians cite the protection of personal liberties as a reason for withholding records or failing to report crimes to law enforcement. They don’t want to provide The Man with information that might incriminate someone based on their literary proclivities – you know, like child pornography.

Isn’t it time we knocked members of the American Library Association off their high horses, or at least ripped those First Amendment cloaks from their shoulders? Here’s a thought: maybe a little critical thinking could help librarians distinguish between genuine criminal activity and odd or embarrassing taste in literature. Guided by something as simple as good judgment, librarians should be able to report those who download child pornography without inadvertently snaring law-abiding patrons in a net cast too wide.

Unfortunately, after attending library school, I can tell you unequivocally that critical thinking and good judgment are not part of the curriculum.

And that’s what makes supporting librarian heroes like Brenda Biesterfeld and protesting public library policies that enable criminality all the more important. Make it your business to find out what would happen if Donny Chrisler was downloading child porn at your library, and if necessary, stick your neck out like Brenda Biesterfeld.

Autographed Letter Signed,


*Jenn Q. Public  is  an ALS guest commentator. She describes herself as “a reluctant republican and recovered democrat who has struggled for years to reconcile my liberal upbringing with a reality that inspires right-of-center beliefs”.

Please visit her blog “Jenn Q. Public