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Monday, September 29, 2008

requiem for the Rockefellers

When I was a kid, the Republican Party stood for two things: greed and Cold War hawkishness. That is no longer the case, and the rejection of the financial bailout plan by House Republicans today confirms it.

Ronald Reagan came to power in 1980 by luring religious and racist conservatives into supporting deregulation and tax policies that benefitted the rich. Logically, the Republican coalition never made any sense. Entrepreneurs and people in business depend on ambition, ideas, innovation, science, technology, and so on. They tend to value talent, education, and the willingness to overturn tradition when something new and risky dangles the possibility of greater profits before their greedy eyes. Religious conservatives are the opposite. At their worst, they elevate tradition over innovation, fear over science, and the narrow narcissism of 'small-town values' over education and cosmopolitanism. And let's not forget that they profess a religion full of prohibitions against usury. The party leaders who hatched this coalition of opposites were strategic geniuses, but now the party is over.

Mike Huckabee was the sign of things to come. His presidential campaign of earlier this year was exciting because, had he won the Republican nomination, it would have torn the party apart. Here was a conservative, small-state Republican who appeared ready to follow Jesus's populist gesture of overturning the money-lenders' table. His candidacy represented an emergency to the Bush Republicans and the coalition that kept them in power.

The rich-religious Republican coalition finally ended today. Today's 777-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record, and Wall Street knows who is to blame: the Republicans in the House of Representatives who rejected the Paulson plan because bailing out 'the Wall Street elite' violates their insane ideology.

The Rockefeller Republicans, what was left of them, were already becoming Obama Republicans. Now I wonder if they will even stay in the Republican Party much longer. People in business know that homophobia, fanaticism, anti-science, and anti-elitism are bad for business. Their tolerance for conservative excess has expired.

That the Republican Party will soon be little more than a regional cabal of conservative anti-elitist fanatics is good for the Democrats but bad for the country. Today, September 29, 2008, we are all in the clutches of the most militantly ignorant political faction that Republican machinations have spawned: men and women of zeal who know nothing of economics but believe in giving the 'elites' their comeuppance. These maniacs will bring the republic and the national economy crashing down in order to teach the rest of us a lesson in responsibility and the magic of the market.

During the past seven years of misrule by Bush and Cheney, I have had frequent recourse to these famous lines from Yeats's poem 'The Second Coming':
'The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.'
Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Whatever their misgivings about the Paulson bailout plan, Democrats have had to make common cause with Bush and Cheney against an even graver threat: the economic suicide that Bush's former shock troops stand poised to visit on all of us. Now we will all reap what the Republican 'geniuses' have sown.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

John, do you need a ride to the airport?

Trust me. This will be worth your time.

Click the link and watch all nine minutes of this. Then tell me whether it's over.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Republicans' convention bounce is over, and our guy is coming out punching, as predicted.

Monday, September 15, 2008

the master of deception chastises his bad apprentice

Last week, in a blog comment thread, I noted deep differences in McCain and Palin's style of lying, as opposed to Bush, Cheney, and Rove's, and I predicted that McCain and Palin's lies would ultimately hurt them. Here is part of what I said:
'Bush and Cheney don't lie like McCain and Palin. Bush and Cheney obfuscate, evade, obscure, and so on. Example: they say they don't torture and they get away with it because they redefine the word and Democrats roll over and let them do it. The actions of Bush, Cheney, and Rove can be shown to be lies, but it takes some work. They lied about John Kerry, and he let them.

McCain and Palin are stupid liars. They lie about selling a jet on Ebay or being a friend of special-needs families or opposing the so-called Bridge to Nowhere: all unsophisicated lies and with no veneer of national security as cover.'
(Correction: The above suggestion that Palin is not a friend of special-needs families was based on a misreported story about budget cuts in Alaska to special-needs programs. In fact, she appears to have increased such spending.)

How unsophisticated is McCain's lying? Even Karl Rove, the master of deception, has publicly faulted McCain's lies. Here is the video and the relevant transcript from Rove's appearance on Fox, as provided by Talking Points Memo:
WALLACE: All right, and for fair game, what is McCain doing that goes a step too far?

ROVE: Well, McCain has gone in some of his ads—similarly gone one step too far, and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100-percent-truth test.
Rove does not object to lying per se. What he objects to is bad lying, i.e. lying that makes the liar look bad, which is what McCain has done.

I have been saying it from day one and I will repeat it again: John McCain is too stupid to win this election. He is not pretending to be stupid like George W. Bush, alumnus of Yale and Harvard. McCain is the real thing. His choice of running mate looks to some, in the immediate term, like political genius, but time will soon tell how smart it was to pick someone whose X-ray vision from Alaska to Russia invites ridicule.

I have heard people wonder whether McCain's innumerable contradictory policy statements indicate senility or Alzheimer's. What the question misses is that this man, even in his youth, was never sharp. He contradicts himself because he does not have a head for policy or detail or knowledge in general.

I expect Barack Obama and the liberal 527 groups to come out with a barrage of McCain (and Palin) flip-flop ads showing, with video clips, all the things they were for before they were against—and some that they were later for again. If Obama and company fail to do this, then they will not deserve to win. If they do it, the election will be won in large part on the stupid lies and dull-wittedness of John McCain. Enough is enough.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

time to change the subject

Check it out: a presidential candidate who talks about tax policy and the middle class. And he said 'Enough is enough' again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

527's unleashed

Presidential campaign ads by liberal 527 groups have started to appear. If this ad about Palin's support of aerial wolf-hunting is any indication of what's to come, it looks like the left is bringing a gun to a knife fight.

Barack Obama said he would do this back on June 13, 2008, as reported by the New York Times:'"If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."'

Sarah Palin a wildlife-hater? Release the hounds!

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Palin's cruelty to women

I know that every time we mention Sarah Palin's name we are playing into Republican hands by falling for the politics of distraction. Even so, I want to put a few more facts out there for your consideration.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that quite a few non-conservative women favor Palin. What they need to know is that Palin does not favor them. Consider two cases.

1. No friend to pregnant teens
As I reported earlier, Governor Palin used Alaska's line-item veto power to slash funding for homeless pregnant teens from $5 million to $3.9 million. You can see her actual handwriting on the budget document in this article by the Washington Post.

2. No friend to rape victims
While Palin was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, her town was apparently the only one in Alaska that charged rape victims for police rape kits. The practice only ended in 2000 when the Alaska state legislature passed a law prohibiting local governments from charging for the kits. From the Boston Herald for September 11, 2008:
Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill—signed into law by [Alaska Governor Tony] Knowles—that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said

A May 23, 2000, article in Wasilla’s newspaper, The Frontiersman, noted that Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies regularly pay for such exams, which cost between $300 and $1,200 apiece.

"(But) the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests," the newspaper reported.

It also quoted Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon objecting to the law. Fannon was appointed to his position by Palin after her dismissal of the previous police chief. He said it would cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 a year if the city had to foot the bill for rape exams.

"In the past we’ve charged the cost of exams to the victims' insurance company when possible," Fannon told the newspaper. "I just don’t want to see any more burden put on the taxpayer."
No one wants high taxes, but this really takes the Republican anti-tax dogma too far.

Here is the actual statute from the Alasaka state code:
Sec. 18.68.040. Sexual assault victim may not be required to pay for examination

A law enforcement agency, health care facility, or other entity may not require a victim of sexual assault under AS 11.41.410 -- 11.41.425 who is 16 years of age or older to pay, directly or indirectly, through health insurance or any other means, for the costs of examination of the victim necessary for

(1) collecting evidence using the sexual assault examination kit under AS 18.68.010 or otherwise; or

(2) determining whether a sexual assault has occurred.
(The law, 2000 AK. ALS 57, was signed by Governor Knowles on May 16, 2000.)

Isn't it embarassing that a state even needs a statute like this to rein in a rogue town like Palin's Wasilla that shortchanges rape victims? It would be a much bigger embarassment if John McCain and Sarah Palin win the election thanks to the support of American women.



There is new evidence today that the policy of charging rape victims for their police rape kits in Wasilla was initiated in the 1998-1999 fiscal year, i.e., during Palin's mayoralty. That rules out any possibility that the policy existed before Palin and that she simply continued it. No, she implemented it.

That means the Republican presidential ticket this year consists of a man who voted against the Violence Against Women Act, drafted by Senator Joseph Biden, and a woman who charged rape victims for rape kits. At least they're in sync on the issues.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The verdict is in: Barack Obama is smarter than the rest of us. Throughout the 2008 campaign, many of us, including me, have wondered whether Obama had the anatomical-metaphor-of-your-choice to give as good as he gets from his opponents, be they the Clintons or John McCain. Two days into the Democratic National Convention in Denver, we were still wondering whether the party was going to play nice or play to win. John Kerry and Al Gore offered fighting words against the Republicans, but Obama saved the hardest blows not for his surrogates but for himself. He not only hit hard but he demonstrated his fire more convincingly than ever before. In that one standout word in his Denver speech—'Enough!'—he announced he was ready to throw down.

Today, amidst all the lipstick traces, he went one better by declaring 'Enough is enough!' Not by coincidence, he has now given the green light to liberal 527's to hit McCain with everything they've got. I, too, was skeptical when he tied their hands earlier this year, but consider the advantages of forestalling the attack until now:

1. By waiting until McCain's attacks reached new depths of disgrace, Obama can claim he was forced to release the hounds: the Republicans made him go negative.

2. By holding all his attack cards until now, Obama has not yet begun to fight, which means the best anti-McCain weapons are all still in the Democratic arsenal and will be deployed in the final weeks, when they count most.

3. Following from point two, the Republicans have exhausted their most potent weapons against Obama: there is nothing left to say about Jeremiah Wright, 'Hussein', 'present' votes, Bill Ayers, and so on. What is left to say against Obama?

Obama may have looked soft up until now, but I predict that all those soft-spoken weeks are about to seem like strategic genius. When the final chapter of this campaign is written in the history books, its title is likely to be 'Rope-a-Dope'.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

spunk is not enough

Why have Republicans welcomed John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate? We know that he chose her after meeting her only once, in February. We know that she was mayor of a town of only 6500 people before being elected governor of Alaska, population 680,000, in 2006. We also know that her husband was a member of an Alaskan secessionist party until 2002. It is one thing to think that women are dumb enough to support Palin just because she is a woman. But many Republicans genuinely seem to like Palin and to think that somehow the rest of us will, too. What are they thinking?

Today's Republicans don't seem to care about competence, intelligence, or achievement. To them, ideology is the one and only measure of a candidate's worth. Yes, many Republicans share Palin's opposition to abortion under any and all circumstances, her refusal to believe in global warming, and her belief in creationism, but that is true of many in the party these days. Most Democrats support Barack Obama because of his Democratic agenda, but he is also an impressive individual who, by his achievements and special talents, inspires confidence. The Democratic Party generally does not run unqualified, unintelligent people for national office.

Let's look at the tale of the tape. Obama, with no connections and only one parent, graduated from Columbia and Harvard Law, where he was president of the law review. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for twelve years. He mastered the bare-knuckled politics of Chicago and served eight years in the Illinois state legislature. Joe Biden similarly made his mark on the world by his own efforts and at a young age. Elected to the U.S. Senate at the age of twenty-nine, he has distinguished himself on both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees.

John McCain, as the son and grandson of navy admirals, relied on the affirmative action of his connections to get into the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, where he graduated 894th out of 899. His ignorance and embarassments in economics and international affairs are widely known. Palin has no valuable experience to speak of and professes to know nothing about Iraq or the office of the vice-president. Like McCain, she appears to have been a lackluster, uncommitted student, in her case bouncing around a number of schools without distinction. From Wikipedia:

'Palin attended Hawaii Pacific College — now known as Hawaii Pacific University — in Honolulu for a semester in 1982, majoring in Business Administration. She transferred in 1983 to North Idaho College. In 1987, Palin received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho, where she also minored in political science.'

McCain and Palin are mediocrities in every way, and mediocrities have no business leading the free world. I see voters on television and in the press speaking about how they identify with Candidate X or Y, but this is not a suitable way of choosing elected officials. We don't need the common man or woman in positions of national leadership. What we need is the uncommon man or woman. The president and vice-president should be total freaks: individuals of daunting achievement and visionary intellect. We should be in awe of their talents, not ridiculing their eloquence and intelligence.

From what I can tell, Republicans really seem to think that Americans will support Palin just because she looks like a crazed Tina Fey. One word that has been repeated a lot is 'spunk'. Here is an instance from the Los Angeles Times for September 1, 2008:
'"She's spunky," said Gail LeMay, 58, a retiree. "She really brings life to the campaign." LeMay marveled that McCain looked "to the tundra" to pick his running mate.'
We don't need a president who is spunky and we don't need a president who is funky. We need a president who is smarter than the rest of us because the problems we face will require intelligence, judgment, and skill to solve. Spunk, alas, is not enough.

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