Remarks And Asides

Thanks to Moe at Whatever Works, I learned that the fruits of Dan Quayle’s genius didn’t fall far from the tree.  His son, now an Arizona congressman, said:

“When I was a child, President Ronald Reagan was the nice man who gave us jelly beans when we visited the White House.

I didn’t know then, but I know it now: The jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat that he gave out as gifts. They represented the uniqueness and greatness of America — each one different and special in its own way, but collectively they blended in harmony . . . “

I happen to think Congressman Quayle is on to something.  I never saw Ronald Reagan eat a black jelly bean. 

Come to think of it, J. Danforth Quayle himself had that race thing down to a science. Speaking before the United Negro College Fund in 1989, he reengineered the group’s motto:

What a terrible thing to have lost one’s mind. Or not to have a mind at all. How true that is.

He also said this about David Duke, the Lousiana racist who ran as a Republican:

Unfortunately, the people of Louisiana are not racists.

And finally, he told a group of American Samoans:

You all look like happy campers to me. Happy campers you are, happy campers you have been, and, as far as I am concerned, happy campers you will always be.

Genius, pure genius.

_________________________

Speaking of genius-ness, it looks like George W. Bush will not be going to Switzerland after all.  The Decider was supposed to appear as the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity dinner in Geneva, but he made one of those courageous decisions not to attend, due to “security” reasons.

Of course, it may be, as some allege, that W. fears spending some time in the hoosegow, since criminal complaints against him for torture have been filed in Geneva courts.  According to Reuters, Reed Brody, an attorney for Human Rights Watch said:

President Bush has admitted he ordered waterboarding which everyone considers to be a form of torture under international law. Under the Convention against Torture, authorities would have been obliged to open an investigation and either prosecute or extradite George Bush,” Brody said.

Whoops. Perhaps world travel is not in the cards for our former president. Looks like Dallas’ Preston Hollow residents will have to get used to seeing W. hanging around there more often. 

_________________________

I did it!  I finally lived long enough to agree with Bill Kristol!  In his column, he said that it is “not a sign of health” that Glenn Beck “rants about the caliphate taking over the Middle East…and lists (invents?) the connections between caliphate-promoters and the American left.” That’s great.

But speaking of health, if only Mr. Kristol would get his own check up.  He still believes the Iraq War he helped bring to pass was the right thing to do. He has argued for U.S. military action against Iran. He strongly urged John McCain to unleash Sarah Palin on civilization.  So, I don’t think he’s exactly the right guy to pass judgment on Glenn Beck’s health, but on the right there aren’t too many right guys.

_________________________

Speaking of Sarah Palin and her continued assault on civilization, the former fractional governor of Alaska’s 20-year-old daughter, Bristol, will join in on the family’s bilking business as she gets set to release her, ahem, “memoir” this summer.  The much-awaited book is tentatively titled, “John McCain Answers Prayers.” 

Egypt: The View From The Paranoid Right

Since nearly every sensible thing that can be said has been said this weekend regarding the upheaval in Egypt, I thought I would look in on what the right-wing is saying.

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so far playing it safe, essentially approving of the Obama administration’s cautious response to the crisis. But it’s only Monday.

Unfortunately, Egypt is not observable from Wasilla, so Sarah Palin hasn’t yet tweeted her foreign policy advice to the world.  But it’s only Monday. I’m sure after she catches up on her weekend reading, she will offer up some profound analysis.

Bill Kristol, a Fox “News” neocon who agitated for war against Iraq as early as 1998 and who has urged the U.S. to launch a military strike against Iran, has not yet called for invading Egypt and ousting Mubarak.  That’s always a good thing, but it’s only Monday.  

Kristol, who always knows what we should do in every tricky situation, did say the Administration was “a little slow in reacting to events and said a couple foolish things.”  Apparently, patience and deliberation is not a virtue in the Kristol family.

Speaking of a lack of patience and deliberation: The Glenn Beck News Service, The Blaze, featured this headline:

The story, written by Jonathon Seidl and complete with a Goldline ad, is one of those “connecting the dots” specials, which are the forte of the paranoid Right. It seems that the American Left, some of whom rallied this weekend in support of the Egyptian people, is encouraging the uprising because,

the power vacuum that would result from a government collapse would make the country a prime target for a socialist takeover.

Even though the protests in Egypt have been decidedly unrelated to Western politics, that’s not the way it is seen through the eyes of fearful right-wingers, at least when it comes to the motives of those Americans who support Egyptian freedom:

Is it really about democracy, then, as some of the signs suggest?

Not really. The reality seems to be closer to something like this: when a revolution opposes a leftist dictator, leftists and socialists ignore it. When a revolution opposes an American ally (particularly an ally as pivotal to U.S. security as the Egyptian alliance is) leftists and socialists support it. Succinctly put, the groups have a vested interest in the current American system being defeated (a goal shared by leftist dictators). That’s why they can support Chavez, Ahmadinejad, and even Hussein, but rally against someone such as Mubarak.

In the same vein, Red State, a popular right-wing site operated by Erick Erickson, now a CNN commentator, featured this headline:

The story takes the Beckian view one step further and involves the Obama administration in the plot to make Egypt and the Middle East a socialist paradise:

For all the lack of clarity on where the Obama administration stands, one thing is becoming more and more clear: Signs are beginning to point more toward the likelihood that President Obama’s State Department, unions, as well as Left-leaning media corporations are more directly involved in helping to ignite the Mid-East turmoil than they are publicly admitting.

Meanwhile, Dick Morris, another Foxinating right-winger who sees an Islamic terrorist hiding behind every crisis tree, is urging the U.S. to “send a signal to the military that it will be supportive of its efforts to keep Egypt out of the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists.He wrote:

The Obama Administration, in failing to throw its weight against an Islamic takeover, is guilty of the same mistake that led President Carter to fail to support the Shah, opening the door for the Ayatollah Khomeini to take over Iran…

Now is the time for Republicans and conservatives to start asking the question: Who is losing Egypt? We need to debunk the starry eyed idealistic yearning for reform and the fantasy that a liberal democracy will come from these demonstrations. It won’t. Iranian domination will.

It appears that some on the Right, who night and day lie and stoke fear about Obama’s imaginary disregard for the freedoms of Americans, don’t mind if he helps squash the yearnings of Egyptians who want liberty—and jobs—in their own land.

We really run the risk of some Iranian style regime emerging in the end here,” foreign policy expert Sean Hannity said on Friday.

And even though the real experts discount that possibility (the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly represents around 20% of the population), it doesn’t matter. What matters is that however the situation in Egypt ends, Obama will have either done too much or too little.  He will either have sided with the Egyptian dictator or sided with the Muslim Brotherhood or engineered a socialist revolution.  

And to think it’s only Monday.

 

Remarks And Asides

Apparently, George W. Bush told Brian Lamb of C-SPAN that he is finished with politics.  Damn.  He’s just 10 years too late.

______________________________

It seems Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia is in trouble again.  On Arabic television, of all places, he explained that the 2010 election shellacking was the result of “a lot of people” who,

don’t want to be governed by an African American, particularly one who is inclusive, who is liberal, who wants to spend money on everyone and who wants to reach out to include everyone in our society. That’s a basic philosophical clash.

Of course, Moran has it all wrong.  The reason for the shellacking was that a lot of people resent being governed by an African.

______________________________

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission finally confirmed what most of us already knew: the financial meltdown was not the fault of poor, often minority, homebuyers who supposedly twisted the arms of helpless bankers in order to get mortgages they couldn’t afford. 

Of course, since the Republican members of the commission issued their own report, that leaves Republicans free to continue to falsely claim that efforts to help the poor own their own homes is the root of all financial evil.

______________________________

It was sad to see a once-respectable Wolf Blitzer of CNN waiting with great anticipation for Michele Bachmann to speak the other night, following Obama’s State of the Union Address.  No other network—not even the Republican “News” Channel—carried the speech, but CNN not only thought Bachmann’s speech was news, it promoted it heavily with a countdown clock and everything. And everyone knows that on cable TV, a countdown clock before an event means something really, really, really big is going to happen.

Bachmann was technically speaking only for Tea Party Express, but Blitzer billed her as an “official” spokesman for the entire Tea Party.  It turns out, as Rachel Maddow noted brilliantly, that CNN had a rea$on for promoting Bachmann and Tea Party Express: They’re in bed together. CNN has partnered with the phony—”sleazy,” is how Maddow characterized it—grass roots Tea Party group and will jointly host a Tea Party presidential primary debate in September.

And CNN is not shy about its motives. Its political director claims that,

undecided voters turn to CNN to educate themselves during election cycles, so it is a natural fit for CNN to provide a platform for the diverse perspectives within the Republican Party, including those of the Tea Party.

Yes. More and more, as CNN attempts to outfox Fox, it is perfectly natural for the network to “provide a platform” for extremists in the Republican Party. 

_______________________________

As Democrats salivate in anticipation, Republicans are half-seriously considering privatizing Medicare.  But don’t worry.  The leadership isn’t quite that dumb.  Here’s what John Boehner said,

We’ll outline our budget in the months ahead, after we see the president’s budget.

This type of “I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours” cowardice may disappoint Democrats who want to bash Republicans with the issue, but in the end it will preserve a pillar of our socialistic society.  Unless, of course, the Tea Party pathology spreads and Michele Bachmann engineers a putsch and gets her hands on Boehner’s man-sized gavel.

_______________________________

Finally, just prior to a Knicks-Heat contest, Tracy Morgan said on TNT:

Now let me tell you something about Sarah Palin, man, she’s good masturbation material. The glasses and all that? Great masturbation material.

Naturally, the network apologized for Morgan’s overly-descriptive (and inaccurate) commentary.  But it does explain why some tea party-ish Republican senators missed the inaugural meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus.

It conflicted with a rerun of Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

Remarks And Asides

Even though Republicans are skeptical, The Washington Post reported on a new government study that revealed:

As many as 129 million Americans under age 65 have medical problems that are red flags for health insurers.

That means, as the headline of the Post article says, “up to half of Americans under 65 have preexisting conditions.”

Meanwhile, the Republicans soldier on with their theatrical repeal of the health insurance reform law, all done in the name of the American people.

_______________________________

John Boehner, fresh off his snub of the Tucson memorial service, has opted out of a state dinner, honoring who? Oh, that’s Chinese President Hu.  My bad. 

Boehner’s excuse for turning down the ride to Tucson with President Obama on Air Force One was that he had to attend a reception for Maria Cino, a former Republican aide in the House who was trying to replace Michael Steele as GOP chairman. She failed, by the way.

Boehner’s excuse for turning down dinner with Obama and Hu is that he doesn’t want to become Charlie Crist, who was famously photographed embracing Obama at an event in Florida and paid for it by getting trounced by the Tea Party last November, as he sought to jump from governor to senator. 

Can you imagine what would happen if Boehner were photographed with two Communists?

________________________________

Sarah Palin said on Monday of her critics, “They’re not going to shut me up.” 

I don’t know one single Democrat who wants to shut her up.  In fact, most of us wish she would talk more and tweet less.

_________________________________

Steve King, Republican congressman from Iowa and a perennial candidate for Goofiest-Gloomiest Conservative, once said terrorists would celebrate the election of Barack Obama and would view him as a “savior.”

Now, he’s at it again. He told Human Events that Democrats passed “Obamacare” due to their “irrational Leftist lust for socialized medicine.”

Not true, not true. There’s nothing irrational about our lust for socialized medicine.

__________________________________

The newly elected Republican governor of Alabama, Brother Robert Bentley, told his constituents the following:

There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit. But if you have been adopted in God’s family like I have, and like you have if you’re a Christian and if you’re saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister.
   
Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.

I’m confused, Governor. Are you saying we have the same momma?

Ideas Matter, Otherwise Why Bother?

Naturally, conservatives are on the defensive.

I want to say up front that I will agree with any conservative who protests that what happened in Tucson is not directly related to anything said or done by anyone on the near or middle or even the far Right.

But as George Will demonstrated in his column published today in the Joplin Globe, conservatives have a problem with that choice of words:

On Sunday, the [New York] Times explained Tucson: “It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But . . .”  The “directly” is priceless.

The basis for Will’s snooty objection is that progressives, acting as charlatans and political opportunists, always use “bad sociology” to explain to superstition-riddled minds that there is a connection between ideas and behavior. 

The argument, which Will has used frequently in some form or another, goes like this (using my George Will Disgronificator, the translation is in the parentheses):

1. There exists a “timeless human craving” for “banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience.”  (Translation: People don’t like leaving things to chance or mysterious forces.)

2. “A characteristic of many contemporary minds is susceptibility to the superstition that all behavior can be traced to some diagnosable frame of mind that is a product of promptings from the social environment.” (Translation: Non-conservatives are gullible and believe that every single act by a human being can be traced to something in society, often something bad.  Conservatives, of course, know better.)

3. Progressives have created a “political doctrine” (“the crux of progressivism”) that exploits the above two Facts about humanity. The doctrine goes like this: “given clever social engineering, society and people can be perfected.” (Translation: Liberals tell the gullible masses that if we just get rid of all the bad stuff in society, people will stop doing bad things.)

Now, if you are a liberal or a progressive and you don’t recognize yourself as the charlatan in Will’s argument, don’t feel too bad about it.  I am a liberal and I know a lot of liberals and I don’t know one single liberal who believes what Will claims we believe. 

I’m not saying there aren’t such people; I’m just saying that I don’t know any of them.  It may be that, in the lofty world George Will inhabits, people with frontal lobes the size of watermelons say such things.  I suppose that’s possible.

But I and the liberals I know don’t think human beings can be perfected by any means here on earth.  What we do think is that we can make society a better place to live and we don’t have to leave things completely to chance, or to the Darwinian brand of conservatism in fashion today.

Indeed, Will himself has been a critic of that Darwinian brand of conservatism—libertarianism.  Early into the Age of Reagan, he said that the label “Libertarian conservative” is as self-contradictory as “promiscuous celibate.”  He wrote that a misplaced attachment to laissez-faire philosophy makes conservatives,

deeply ambivalent about government, and reluctant to use it as an instrument of conservative values, tempering and directing social dynamism… Real conservatism is about balancing many competing values… and always requires resistance to libertarianism (the doctrine of maximum freedom for private appetites) because libertarianism is a recipe for the dissolution of public authority, social and religious traditions, and other restraints needed to prevent license from replacing durable, disciplined liberty.”

This was, of course, long before the rise of the anti-government Tea Party and a revival of Ayn Rand’s ideas of dog-eat-dog capitalism, but it demonstrates, as does Will’s 1983 book, Statecraft as Soulcraft: What Government Does, that once George Will understood that in any society ideas have consequences, although it is often hard to measure with precision the exact causes and effects.

No, conservatives or libertarians or libertarian-conservatives or Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck didn’t directly cause the massacre in Tucson.  And it is entirely possible that the anti-government propaganda shouted night and day on television and radio by people on the Right—aided and abetted by Republican politicians—had no indirect effect either. 

But it is unworthy of an intellectual spokesman of the Right—who makes a living by sharing his ideas—to argue that liberals are charlatans who exploit the superstition of the masses because we take seriously the notion that cultural ideas do have cultural consequences, as hard as they are to measure.  And it is folly to criticize us because we also take seriously the notion that we may be able to avoid the bad cultural consequences by countering the bad ideas.

As Edmund Burke, one of George Will’s heroes, said,

The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please; we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.

Sarah Palin, Ignorance, and Assisted Suicide

While promise-breaking Republicans are even now wasting taxpayer dollars and precious legislative time reading the Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives—there are, after all, millions of Americans still out of work—I thought I would use the time to check out today’s Joplin Globe. 

Just below a gigantic, four-column picture of a  smiling and swearing Roy Blunt, I found this:

Now, I don’t want anything I write to come across as an attack on any of the cheerful-looking Joplin citizens above.  But I would like you to pay particular attention to the words of Mary Alverson.

She wants Republicans to repeal the new health care law “because of the hidden clause that allows doctors to give you ideas about assisted suicide.”

Again, I don’t want this to come across as an assault on Mrs. Alverson, whoever she is.  I’m sure she is a fine person, and probably sharp as a whip.  But knowing that there are such folks living in Joplin holding such an idea is, well, it’s sad and depressing is what it is.

And it’s infuriating.

I don’t necessarily blame Mrs. Alverson for her ignorance, although she bears some responsibility for it, when there is so much information available to mitigate it.  But obviously she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. 

I put the blame primarily on Sarah Palin and the entire phalanx of right-wing propagandists, with their talk of “death panels” and “pulling the plug on grandma” and other deceits.  You see, not only do such people bring low our public discourse with such blasphemies against truth, but they bring low people like Mrs. Alverson, who, no doubt, wanders about Joplin thinking she knows something about “Obamacare” that no one else knows. Remember, it’s a “hidden clause.”

Not only have Palin and company lied about the health care reform law, they have caused people like Mrs. Alverson to believe the lie and in turn tell the lie to others. If there were a hell, surely there would be a special wing dedicated to people like Sarah Palin, who specialize in scaring the Mrs. Alversons of the world for personal gain.  But, alas, there is no hell, only West Texas.

I suppose it needs to said that there is no provision in the health care law, hidden or otherwise, that relates to what Mrs. Alverson says.  None.  What language there was—which was taken out due to attacks from hell-bound Palinistas—had to do with reimbursing physicians for end-of-life discussions about what options were available.  There was no coercion or even suggestion involved.  Doctors would merely educate their patients as to the options available these days—something they do every day—and Medicare would cover the cost of the visit.  That’s it.

From that harmless but wise provision—which was originally sponsored by a Republican—we have Mrs. Alverson and her secret assisted suicide suggestion nonsense. 

Sadly, the Obama administration appears to have backed away from implementing a new rule that would have essentially done what the excised health care provision would have done. According to The New York Times:  

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

But then this, also from the Times:

The Obama administration, reversing course, will revise a Medicare regulation to delete references to end-of-life planning as part of the annual physical examinations covered under the new health care law, administration officials said Tuesday.

Such are the times in which we live.  A dangerous and unforgivable lie broadcast day and night on right-wing media has made good people back away from what most physicians understand to be the right thing to do.

Please watch the following segment from last night’s Rachel Maddow Show.  And listen to Dr. Atul Gawande, who has written much about end-of-life care.  Dr. Gawande calls the whole death panel episode a “travesty” and says this:

The struggle to me as a doctor is seeing what has become this history…of outlined studies over the last couple of years that show that when patients have more time with their doctors, and actually have a discussion, especially a terminally ill patient, about their needs as they near the end of life, they get better care.  They arrive at better decisions. They are less likely to die in a hospital or an ICU…

While those facts aren’t as sensational as spouting “death panel” in a crowded nursing home, they are the facts.

And people like Mrs. Alverson of Joplin needs to know them.

Remarks and Asides

Yet another federal judge rejected arguments that our new health care law’s insurance mandate is unconstitutional.  This time it was in Virginia, via a lawsuit brought by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, which is where Baptist brains go to die.

The “university” sued claiming not only that the Commerce Clause cannot be used to justify the mandate, but that the law violates the university’s religious rights (universities have religious rights?) because it forces the anti-choice zealots to subsidize abortion in some strange way that nobody can understand, including those who actually wrote the law. 

Oh, well.  It’s on to the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court, where the zealots believe they have a fighting chance with their fellow zealots who happen to control the court.  God is good, you know.

________________________

Republican presidential hopefuls are demonstrating orgasmic enthusiasm for doing something about the WikiLeaks fiasco.  Something violent.

Mike Huckabee, whom God made governor of Arkansas as part of his Plan to make the Huckster president (it worked once before), not only wants to execute the source of the leaks, he also wants to execute the New York Times for publishing some of the leaks.  How do you electrocute a newspaper?  

Sarah Palin wants the President to hunt down WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is from the Land Down Under, like a terrorist marsupial:

Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?

Oh my God!  First Afghanistan, then Iraq, now Australia! 

________________________

Speaking of Sarah Palin, Joe Scarborough, a conservative with his own show on “liberal” MSNBC, has officially taken her on.  Well, actually he has taken on the Republican establishment for not taking her on:

If Republicans want to embrace Palin as a cultural icon whose anti-intellectualism fulfills a base political need, then have at it. I suppose it’s cheaper than therapy.

But if the party of Ronald Reagan, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio wants to return to the White House anytime soon, it’s time that Republican leaders started standing up and speaking the truth to Palin.

Why speak the truth to her?  Why piss her off?  She’s not going to run for president, and anyone who wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party will need her loyal legions, whom she commands through Facebook and Twitter.  And it would be dumb, and unpresidential, to attack her for her anti-intellectualism, since that is what makes her so attractive to her anti-intellectual followers.

What was Scarborough thinking?

__________________________

Speaking of anti-intellectuals, in case you missed it, Steve King, Republican congressman from Iowa, has his hood and robe all in a tangle over the fact that black farmers might get their due, after the USDA admitted it had discriminated against them between 1983 and 1997 by not loaning them money to purchase farms or to save the farms they had. 

King, a follower of Jesus Christ, said,

We’ve got to stand up at some point and say, ‘We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.’ That war’s been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there’s no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one’s filing that claim.

But besides all that, did you know Obama supported the black farmers?  And did you know Obama was (whisper) b-l-a-c-k?  Well, actually King said Barack Obama was “very, very urban.” Apparently, that’s how folks in Sioux City and Council Bluffs refer to “negroes.”

Another fun fact about Steve King: Last year, the House voted to place a plaque in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center that would acknowledge the role of slavery in the construction of the Capitol.  The measure passed 399 to 1.  Yep. You guessed it. Here was part of King’s explanation:

This is just the latest example of a several year effort by liberals in Congress to scrub references to America’s Christian heritage from our nation’s Capitol. Liberals want to amend our country’s history to eradicate the role of Christianity in America and chisel references to God or faith from our historical buildings.

Our Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation and should not be held hostage to yet another effort to place guilt on future Americans for the sins of some of their ancestors.

This man sits on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil LibertiesWho knows, next January he may be the chairman. God willing.

It’s A Strange Question, If Sarah Palin Or Donald Trump Is The Answer

America is in a strange place, if both Sarah Palin and Donald Trump think they can become president. 

Ms. Palin, who celebrates her self-described commonness, and Mr. Trump who revels in his self-described uncommonness, each have the nothing-better-to-do media types infatuated with whether one or both will run to become the Most Powerful Person On Earth

Think about that.

I’ve already said that Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012.  Her goal is to keep speculation alive long enough to accumulate sufficient cash to purchase Alaska, so she can have it all to herself.  And right now she is able to routinely separate enough gullible commoners from their disposable income that someday that dream may come true. Good for her.  But president?  Come on.  Nobody believes that, even if she really wanted to go for it.

That leaves us with Donald Trump.  What is it about rich jerks like The Donald, who think the world pines for their pomp and longs for their leadership?  Nature kicked Trump out of the safety and comfort of his mother’s womb into the safety and comfort of a womb of wealth.  His father was a prosperous New York real estate developer.  Go figure.

Yet, despite such a head start in life, Mr. Trump managed to get himself in financial trouble in the 1990s (remember “junk bonds”?). From a 1991 article in Time:

Meet Donald Trump’s bankers. Like the characters in the fairy tale The Emperor’s New Clothes, a gaggle of major financial institutions has finally been forced to admit, after lending Trump billions of dollars, that there’s a lot less to the emperor — or at least his empire — than the banks had believed. Not quite nine months after bailing out Trump with a rescue package that gave him $65 million in new loans and eased credit terms on his bank debt, Trump’s bankers last week stopped the game. Already more than $3.8 billion in the hole and sliding perilously close to a mammoth personal bankruptcy, the brash New York developer had no choice but to accept the dismantling of his vast holdings. Meeting round the clock at secret Manhattan locations, Trump’s lawyers and bankers by week’s end had begun to hammer out a complex series of agreements on the distribution of some of his assets.

However, unlike you and me and most of the world, Trump was simply too big to fail completely.  He was so far in debt, his creditors had to cut him a deal in order to keep from losing even more money than the hundreds of millions they reportedly lost on his ambitions.  And through it all, The Donald kept his humility in check:

…despite his desperate situation, Trump, who has always prided himself on his mastery of dealmaking, once again seems to have come up with a strong hand. Pooh-poohing any notion that he was cornered, Trump insisted last week that the talks were friendly. “I have a great relationship with the banks,” he said, adding airily, “The 1990s are a decade of deleveraging. I’m doing it too.”

Yeah, it’s nice to have a “great relationship with the banks.”  I certainly have a great relationship with my bank: Everyone there knows where I live and if I don’t make my car payment, they will send someone out to check on me, and then they will tow my car away.

Donald Trump’s life, past and present, is God’s way of rubbing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s terrible truth in our face: the rich are, indeed, different from you and me.

Trump has confessed to us that he is thinking about running for president, as a Republican, of course.  I recommend everyone watch his interview with George Stephanopoulos.  You will find that he is willing to start a trade war with China, that he finds Sarah Palin interesting and he likes her, but you won’t find out his position on abortion rights, because he’s not ready to reveal that piece of information just yet.  He was asked,

Are you pro-choice?

Trump: I don’t want to discuss, right now, but you will be shocked when I give you that answer…I’m gonna make a decision and when I make a decision I’ll let you know about that. But I think you’ll probably be surprised.

Everyone knows you can’t win a Republican primary and be pro-choice on abortion, so, no doubt, Mr. Trump has to figure out not what he believes, but what he needs to believe.  He’s flexible. How thoughtful.

He confirmed his presidential ambitions this morning on Morning Joe.  Mika Brzezinski, who falsely represents political balance on the show, asked him this question:

So, this frustration you feel, is that why you were thinking of running for president, and would you run as a Republican?

TRUMP: Well, I am a Republican—I’d run as a Republican. And I haven’t decided—I’d prefer not running. I’m having a great time, as you know, doing what I’m doing. 

Yes, like his party comrade Sarah Palin, The Donald doesn’t really want to run for president.  He’s got better things to do. Both of these stunningly patriotic Americans suggest that their lives are full of wonderful things, like grizzlies and Fox “News” and skyscrapers and casinos and lots and lots of cash, but they would give it all up—except the cash—just to be our leader, if we really, really needed them.

When Joe Scarborough asked him this morning to rate Barack Obama as a leader, in his typically Trumpish way, Trump said:

Well, you know, I respect him, I like him, I think he is wonderful in many ways.  I think he has not been good for business and honestly and very sadly the world does not respect this country, and therefore I assume the world does not respect our leader.  He’s a nice man, I think he’s totally over his head.

Barack Obama is a nice man.  But he’s bad for business.  He’s over his head.  And The Donald knows this because, as he told Stephanopoulos,

I have many people from China that I do business with, they laugh at us.  They feel we’re fools.  And almost being led by fools.

There you have it.  A man who thinks he can be president bases his opinion of our country’s standing in the world, and our President’s ability to lead, on what his Chinese business friends tell him about America. 

As I said, America is in a strange place these days.

Remarks And Asides

As John Ward of The Daily Caller reports, the Blue Dog Democrats had a bad night, like all Democrats. They lost 24 of their 50 members who ran for reelection (some races are still pending).  Interestingly, 11 of those 24 losers had voted against health insurance reform.

_______________________

Ike Skelton, longtime 4th District congressman and moderate Democrat, finally succumbed to the unrelenting conservatism of his rural district. His replacement, Republican Vicky Hartzler, had earned the approval of Tea Party Possum Queen, Sarah Palin.  Hartzler, who lives somewhere near Harrisonville, wrote a book called, Running God’s Way: Step by Step to a Successful Political Campaign.  Here’s a short description of the book from a website designed to promote it:

This one-stop, easy to use resource outlines the winning strategies needed to succeed on Election Day. It combines the time-tested campaign strategies and wisdom outlined in the Bible with real-life insights and practical advice acquired from Vicky Hartzler’s twelve years of on-the-ground campaigning as a three-term state representative and former campaign spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri.

The Coalition to Protect Marriage in Missouri was, of course, a successful effort by Christian conservatives to amend Missouri’s constitution to reflect their view that, when it comes to defining how people have sex, the Bible is the Word of God.  It’s amazing just how much small-government folks love to use government to force others to live according to Iron Age family values.

_______________________

Speaking of Palin the Possum Queen, she is not running. Period. Talking heads can’t help themselves but speculate about her, but nope.  She’s not gonna do it.  Not enough money in it and it’s too much work.  And besides that, Karl Rove has someone else in mind because he knows she would be an electoral disaster who would not only lose, but her candidacy would have disastrous down-ballot consequences.  Nope. Not happening.

_______________________

And finally, congratulations, and a big thanks, to Southwest Missouri voters for electing Billy Long.  And to celebrate, let’s watch the following insightful interview featuring Long and Sarah Steelman, former Missouri State Treasurer, which gives new meaning to the old phrase, “the blind leading the blind.”  (Thanks to Sean at FiredUp!Missouri and Bungalow Bill and Busplunge.)

I’ve Got Good News And Bad News

The Bad News:

  • Public polling suggests Republicans will gain a net of 5 to 9 governorships today, which matters because of 2010 Census redistricting.  Nate Silver’s forecast: 30 Republican governors on Wednesday.
  • More important in terms of redistricting, there are 99 state legislative chambers in the United States (Nebraska has only one chamber).  Currently, Democrats control 60 of those chambers, Republicans 36, and two are tied. Democrats control both legislative chambers in 27 states, Republicans control both in 14 states (Missouri is, unfortunately, one of those), and 8 states are split between the two.  Some pollsters suggest that Republicans could pick up control of 15 legislative chambers, for a total of 51 out of 99.
  • Phony 7th District Democratic primary candidate, Tim Davis, has endorsed Billy Long for Congress.
  • According to HuffPo, there is a 77% chance Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives.  Nate Silver has this forecast for next year’s House makeup: 233 Republicans, 202 Democrats.  Senate: 52 Democrats, 48 Republicans.

 The Good News:

  • According to HuffPo there is only a 17% chance Republicans will take control of the United States Senate.  Nate Silver puts the chances of Democrats retaining control of Senate at 93%.
  • Barack Obama is more popular in Alaska than Sarah Palin.
  • Sarah Palin—who I still contend will never—ever—run for president—has taken to using the word “bastard” lately, a sign that some of her candidates (Joe Miller and Christine O’Donnell, particularly) are in trouble, and a sign that she has a more attractive, seedier side.
  • Some Democrats who have blatantly run against Obama and Pelosi—can you believe it?—will lose their asses.
  • If Republicans take control of both houses of congress, they will have to become responsible for governing, and it will at least be fun to watch teapartiers kick against the pricks* in the coming months, as they try to turn their 20-month ranting into real legislation.

___________________________________

*To borrow a biblical phrase.

Remarks And Asides

I simply refuse to pick on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for the Blue Screen of Death she suffered during her opening statement at Wednesday’s debate with her opponents.  She can’t help it if God installed Windows Vista as her operating system.  

________________________

Speaking of crashes, Billy Long refused to answer a question about Social Security while in Joplin on Wednesday.  After speaking to Missouri Southern Republicans, Long pretended to make himself available for questioning, but what happened reveals the Long strategy for the rest of the campaign–only answer the questions he wants to answer.

According to The Fuse Joplin:

Afterwords in the media availability, Long took questions from a reporter asking general questions on why he was speaking to the group and youth involvement, but when asked about social security reform, something incredibly relevant to college age students, Long ended the interview, and proceeded to leave the building.

The question about Social Security was: “Would you be interested in raising the retirement age?

Of course, Billy couldn’t answer that question because he doesn’t know what the retirement age is now, much less have an opinion as to how high it should be.

___________________________________

The Republican establishment in Delaware is not waiting around to see if the Tea Party Express and other reactionary elements on the right can muster enough support to elect the strange Christine O’Donnell as the Republican nominee for U. S. Senate.  Her opponent is the comparatively moderate Mike Castle, currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Republican primary is September 14, and the establishment hasn’t been exactly neutral:

“She’s not a viable candidate for any office in the state of Delaware,” state party chairman Tom Ross, who is backing Castle, said in a telephone interview. “She could not be elected dog catcher.”

Ouch. 

While O’Donnell has had some problems managing her personal finances—like her political views, they are a mess—she had no trouble several years ago managing to tell all of us about the Lord’s view of autoerotic pleasure:

The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.

And who would want to?

____________________________________

Speaking of lust and masturbation, Sean Hannity managed to get Sarah Palin to say that reporters are “impotent and limp.”  

I like it when she talks that way.

____________________________________

Speaking of impotent and limp reporters, no doubt the lusty lady from ‘laska was referring to Michael Gross, who wrote in Vanity Fair that Sarah was a bad tipper behind closed doors, preferring to flash cash to those who didn’t win John McCain’s lottery in view of her adoring followers.  Now, I agree with Palin, that’s pretty limp.

But this isn’t:

Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible. A onetime gubernatorial aide to Palin says, “The people who have worked for her—they’re broken, used, stepped on, down in the dust.” On the 2008 campaign trail, one close aide recalls, it was practically impossible to persuade Palin to take a moment to thank the kitchen workers at fund-raising dinners. During the campaign, Palin lashed out at the slightest provocation, sometimes screaming at staff members and throwing objects. Witnessing such behavior, one aide asked Todd Palin if it was typical of his wife. He answered, “You just got to let her go through it… Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn’t even mean.”

I don’t know how the former fractional governor could argue with Todd’s quantitative analysis of the stuff that comes out of her mouth.  She said she wanted to be Governor of Alaska, remember?

____________________

Finally, since Sarah indirectly called into question Michael Gross’ manly abilities in sexual terms, I will include one more tale in his Vanity Fair story that proves at least he thinks his reporting is cocksure.

The tale is told by a “friend” of Palin:

“As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman.” (The friend elaborated on this last point: “Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, ‘I’m gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.’ That’s how she rolls.”)

There’s a County & Western song in there somewhere.  Cue the steel guitar.

[Palin caricature from Vanity Fair]

For Sale: Albert Pujols Bobbleheads. Cheap. Owner Motivated To Sell.

I had to take a long walk this morning, after seeing a brief glimpse of Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa at Glenn Beck’s memorial to monochrome malcontents.  

Perhaps one can excuse Pujols, who ostensibly was being “honored” for his charitable work, for attending the rally.  Maybe with his busy baseball schedule, he doesn’t know Glenn Beck or what he stands for—but wait.  What’s that?  Pujols met Beck and Bill O’Reilly this past June and autographed a bat for Beck?  Huh?

Okay, so maybe there is no excuse for Pujols’ endorsement of Beck and Beckanoia.  Maybe there is no excuse for him to give even a hint of legitimacy to a man who called the President of the United States a racist, and who said Obama “has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

And there certainly is no excuse for Tony La Russa’s role in what will at least cost the St. Louis Cardinal’s a couple of bucks due to my decision to never purchase another ticket or another Cardinal-related product, as long as La Russa is around.  And I haven’t made up my mind about Pujols.

La Russa said on Thursday that he was assured the rally wasn’t going to be political in nature.

“I don’t know who’s going to be there, who’s going to accept it. But the gist of the day is not political. I think it’s a really good concept, actually.”

Let’s see.  La Russa doesn’t know Glenn Beck was going to be there?  That Sarah Palin was going to be there?  And he doesn’t know what those two do for a lucrative living? He doesn’t read a damn newspaper or watch a news program?  He had no idea that everything Glenn Beck has done since joining the Republican “News” Channel is political?

That’s complete bullshit.

La Russa has previously shown sympathy for the Tea Party movement and Arizona’s SB 1070 (which, to Pujols’ credit, he has said he opposes), and for him to act like he doesn’t know what it means for him and the biggest star in baseball to attend the Beck rally—under any circumstances—is as disingenuous as it can be. 

Even the name given to the rally, “Re$toring Honor,” reeks with political implications. Whose honor needs restored?  And why?  Oh, I know: America’s honor needs restored because Barack Obama and the Democrats have stolen it! Why, that’s not political at all!

Phony bastards.

Not to mention how sickening it was to see one of the game’s greatest active players, a man of color, stand before a crowd of pale-faced populists on the very day and close to the very spot that Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

And for anyone to compare, as Beck has done, what those pale-faced people think they are going through—because of the election of a black “racist,” Barack Obama—to the injustices that Dr. King was speaking of when he made his 1963 speech is beyond chutzpah, beyond presumptuousness, beyond even decency.

It’s sick.

Dr. King began his speech with a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation, which he said,

…came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.

Does that sound like anything happening to the thousands of disgruntled whites who gathered, metaphorically prostrate, in front of their demagogue, Glenn Beck?

Or maybe this does:

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free.

One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.

So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

Of course, none of the problems Dr. King elegantly outlined can be, even in the wildest hallucinations of Glenn Beck or his sycophantic followers, compared to the kind of problems that allegedly plague the attendees today at the “Re$toring Honor” rally.

And it’s too bad for the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s too bad for Major League Baseball, that Albert Pujols allowed himself to be used as a prop to legitimate such a travesty.

Anyone want to buy a couple of Albert Pujols bobbleheads?

Remarks And Asides

Terry Jones, pastor of the ironically-named Dove World Outreach Center, has decided that a Godly message to Muslims everywhere is in order. So, he has thoughtfully organized an “International Burn a Quran Day,” slated for September 11.

But…what if the Quran is not combustible?

In any case, my sources in the hereafter have informed me that Pastor Jones himself is scheduled to be barbecued sometime soon, possibly sooner than he might imagine.

_________________________

In case you missed it, Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee—the Michael Steele of his day—and former campaign manager for Bush’s 2004 campaign, has finally decided to tell the world he is a sodomite gay.

It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” Mehlman said.

Okay, fine.  Now, when will Michael Steele admit to the world that he is really white?

_______________________

By the way, Bill Maher outed Mehlman four years ago on Larry King’s show, to which King responded:

King: I never heard that. I’m walking around in a fog. I never…Ken Mehlman? I never heard that. But the question is…

Mayer: Maybe you don’t go to the same bathhouse I do, Larry.

Now, the thought of a naked Larry King in a bathhouse is enough to make most any man a heterosexual, I would think.

______________________

I heard Karl Rove say—while being gingerly massaged skillfully interviewed by the refurbished Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday—that Democratic economic policies have clearly been a “spending orgy.”  

Certainly, we can agree that Rove—part of an administration that screwed seven or eight million Americans so long and hard that they lost their jobs—would know an orgy when he sees one.

_______________________

For those of you attending Glenn Beck’s “I Have A Meme” rally this Saturday, just a word of caution: No firearms, ammunition, or explosives are allowed.  And there will absolutely be no alcoholic beverages.  But my impeachable sources tell me that Sarah Palin will be going commando. Have fun everyone!

_______________________

And speaking of Glenn Beck’s egofest this Saturday–the one in which he claims God will manifest his power in ways folks have likely never before seen in public (so much for parting the Red Sea)–none other than Erick Erickson is questioning the motives of the guy who is destined to sit on the left hand of God:

“The conservative movement is still split on Glenn and whether he’s doing it for himself or doing it for the movement,” said Erick Erickson, founder of the influential conservative blog Red State.

Now, when an intellectual slob like Erickson is questioning your motives, can a Noah-like flood be far behind?  I’d buy a big boat before Saturday, if I were you, Erick.

_______________________

Sarah Palin’s counterfactual son-in-law, Levi Johnston—a self described “f***in’ redneck“—is undertaking a campaign for either mayor or councilman of Wasilla—apparently his choice—and has been seen gun-shopping.  Even Sarah Palin doesn’t deserve this guy. 

Okay.  Maybe she does.

Levi has recently renounced his apology for “lying” about Palin.  “The only thing I wish I wouldn’t have done is put out that apology ’cause it kind of makes me sound like a liar,” he said.  

That kid is learnin’.

________________________

Roy Blunt’s partner-in-legislative-malfeasance, Tom DeLay, failed to talk a Texas judge into moving his trial on money laundering to a, well, more hospitable venue.  The bug-killing star-dancer will be tried in Austin, virtually the only place left in Texas where a conservative ideologue has a snowball’s chance of getting what he deserves.

_________________________

The Obama Justice Department has appealed a court ruling striking down a Bush administration policy that fined broadcasters for saying naughty words on live telly.

So, even though the evil Obama is bent on destroying America, he doesn’t want people like Bono saying “f**k” in front of the children while he is doing so.

Alan Greenspan Throws Republicans Under The Bus on Bush Tax Cuts

More than a week ago, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner reiterated the administration’s plan to let the infamous Bush tax cuts expire—that expiration, of course, was part of the legislation that Republicans crafted and passed and signed into law years ago—with exceptions for those individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000.  Those folks will continue paying at the same rate they do now.

Only the top two or three percent of income earners will see their tax rates go back to the Clinton era, when deficit spending was on the wane and jobs were plentiful.  The expiration of the tax cuts for folks in that category will net the Treasury about $680 billion over the next ten years.  Were the entire package of Bush tax cuts allowed to die its natural legislative death, the Treasury would net about $3.7 trillion or so over the next decade. 

In other words, it costs a lot to cut people’s taxes, especially the top two or three percent of the wealthiest Americans. Republicans, because their conservative constituency includes many of those wealthiest Americans, naturally are characterizing the expiration of the tax cuts as a tax increase.   

Their salient, supply-side argument is that to “raise taxes” now would jeopardize the economic recovery (which recovery they don’t acknowledge in any other context) because tax cuts stimulate economic growth and essentially pay for themselves. In other words, if you believe magic is real (voodoo economics, anyone?), then you can also believe in the supply-side theory that cutting taxes for the wealthy increases government revenue.

If you had the stomach for it, you could have heard Sarah Palin make that argument this morning on her network, Fox “News.”  But if you wanted a more, shall we say, learned opinion, you could have listened to Alan Greenspan, former five-term Fed chairman and Ayn Rand enthusiast, who said this today on Meet The Press:

MR. GREGORY:  All right.  Well, Dr. Greenspan, it’s not often that you hear Democrats and liberals quoting you.  But, in this case, they did when it come to–came to tax cuts because of an interview you gave recently with Judy Woodruff on Bloomberg television.  Here was the question:  “Tax cuts [that] are due to expire at the end of this year.  Should they be extended?  What should Congress do?” You said, “I should say they should follow the law and then let them lapse.” Question:  “So to those interests who say but wait a minute, if you let these taxes go my taxes go up, it’s going to depress growth?” You said, “Yes, it probably will, but I think we have no choice in doing that, because we have to recognize there are no solutions which are optimum.  These are choices between bad and worse.” You’re saying let them all go, let them all lapse?

MR. GREENSPAN:  Look, I’m very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money.  And the problem that we’ve gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money, and at the end of the day, that proves disastrous.  And my view is I don’t think we can play subtle policy here on it.

MR. GREGORY:  You don’t agree with Republican leaders who say tax cuts pay for themselves?

MR. GREENSPAN:  They do not.

For those of you in a comedic mood, or those who just can’t get enough of the fractional governor’s palm-inscribed wisdom, here is a snippet from this morning:

 

Rare Praise For The Tea Party

Since I have been more than a little critical of the Tea Party folks for tolerating and in some cases promoting racist elements associated with their rush to take us back to the 18th century, it’s only fair to praise them when they at least attempt to act like they live in the 21st.

Something called the National Tea Party Federation, which is trying to exert some leadership over the disparate groups of disgruntled people who have raised the temperature of our national politics, has kicked out one of the worst among them:  Mark Williams and the Tea Party Express.

Mr. Williams was the head of Tea Party Express, which as Politico pointed out, “has organized some of the movement’s biggest events, including rallies with former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin.” 

The Tea Party Express has also been closely tied to Sharron Angle’s campaign in Nevada, which, fortunately, has given Sen. Harry Reid new life out there.  In other words, the Tea Party Express is (was?) a big bleeping deal.

The NAACP had earlier urged Tea Party “leaders” to purge their ranks of those “who use racist language in their signs and speeches,” to which Williams replied with what he called a “satirical” letter that began:

Dear Mr. Lincoln

We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

He continued with this:

Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government ‘stop raising our taxes.’ That is outrageous! How will we coloreds ever get a wide-screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society? Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.

Believe it or not, that is just a sampling of the worst of Mr. Williams’ performances.  Check here for a rundown of the dumb stuff he has said, including calling the President of the United States an, “Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief.”

But despite the fact that it is a little tardy, the booting of Mark Williams and Tea Party Express is welcome news.  Someday, it may be possible to focus only on the misguided political philosophy animating the movement and not on the white angst that fuels so much of the anger behind it.

There Is Some Hope For Democrats This Fall

A few comments and an easy prediction related to last night’s primary results:

1. If disgruntled folks on the left—regrettably, including labor unions—want to get pissed off at moderate Democrats like Blanche Lincoln and threaten her, they had better be able to deliver.  They couldn’t.  Today, they’re much weaker, and much poorer.  And the Republican in Arkansas is still favored to win that seat.  Is a conservative Republican preferable to a moderate Democrat? 

Listen.  Many of us were angry at Lincoln, but, for God’s sake, we’re talking about Arkansas. There are no Martha’s Vineyard’s in Arkansas.

2. Thankfully, we now know that Sarah Palin—who resurrected South Carolina’s Nikki Haley from the dead and kept her breathing through charges of adultery—is the Queen of the Republican Party even as Rush Limbaugh is the King.  That gives hope to Democrats in the fall, but only if they run savvy campaigns.

3. Meg Whitman, Republican billionaire, will run against former two-time Democratic Governor Moonbeam*, Jerry Brown.  Interestingly, Ms. Whitman didn’t register to vote until seven years ago and appears to have a Palinesque knowledge of the issues.

Perhaps during the general election, Ms. Whitman will have to answer policy questions from journalists rather than hide behind campaign ads. Perhaps there is a crash course on politics for sale on eBay.  Certainly Whitman can and will outspend Brown (she’s already outspent him 200 to 1, spending a reported $80 million of her own dough), but can you hide your ignorance from California voters forever? We shall see.  And by the way, she was endorsed by Dick Cheney.  That has to go over well in California.

4. And why is it anyway that mind-bogglingly wealthy candidates like Whitman and Carly Fiorina (who will face California Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall) are willing to spend so much of their own money just to be elected into government service?  Since the right-wing has forced nearly all Republican candidates into a reflexive I-hate-government-too stance, aren’t we entitled to ask what motivates rich and formerly powerful Republican women to seek….oh, I get it.  It’s the power.  Riiiight.

5. Easy prediction:  From today onward, Fox “News” programming—as well as all of talk radio—will launch a full-blown campaign to get Sharron Angle—who beat the chicken candidate Sue Lowden—elected to Harry Reid’s Nevada senate seat. All one needs to know about Angle is this: she was endorsed by rabid right-wing talker Mark Levin, Joe the Plumber, and the Tea Party Express.

If Nevada voters are serious about getting rid of Social Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS and the Department of Education, then they have a real choice in Sharron Angle.  As she said, “I am the Tea Party.”

And for an added bonus, she has made comments that would lead Las Vegas voters to believe she’s not a fan of alcohol and is uncomfortable with its legality.  Maybe it is time we think about bringing back Prohibition, especially in Vegas.  Gambling would be much more fun without all that darn alcohol around, right?

For a double-bonus special, after years of fighting the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, Nevadans can elect Sharron Angle because she wants Nevada to be “the Nuclear Energy capital of reprocessing spent fuels for the United States.”

This summer and fall are going to be fun for political junkies.

_______________________________

*From Wikipedia:

As Governor, Brown proposed the establishment of a state space academy and the purchasing of a satellite that would be launched into orbit to provide emergency communications for the state—a proposal similar to one that would indeed eventually be adopted by the state. In 1978 in a Rolling Stone interview Linda Ronstadt called her then boyfriend, Jerry Brown, her “Little Moonbeam”. After this an out-of-state columnist, Mike Royko, then at the Chicago Sun-Times, nicknamed Brown “Governor Moonbeam” because of the latter idea. In 1992, almost 15 years later, Royko would disavow the nickname, proclaiming Brown to be “just as serious” as any other politician.

 

Cal Thomas The Straw Man Slayer

Cal Thomas, a frequent guest on Sean Hannity’s television show, cleverly called “Hannity,” also appears regularly—much too regularly for my tastes—in the Joplin Globe.  And like most conservative columnists appearing in the Globe, Thomas is a master conservative demagogue-by-proxy and a serial slayer of straw men.

After reading his column today in the paper, Thomas can hang several more grass scalps on his belt.  He murdered straw men that even I didn’t know existed.

Just a few examples:

Protest can be patriotic, and no one should be thought less of an American because that person opposes the policies of a particular administration.

But now that the (left) shoe is on the other foot, we hear nothing about protest being patriotic. Instead, we hear from the left that it is dangerous and might lead to another Timothy McVeigh blowing up a federal building or trying to assassinate a president.

Wow! Protest can be patriotic? (Why hedge there, Cal?) I didn’t know that. I just assumed that protesting was bad because every liberal I know (I don’t know any “leftists”) hates protesters.  I mean, I don’t know one single liberal who thinks protesting is a good thing. Not a single one. 

After all, The Annointed One is president now.  And liberals all think anyone who opposes Obama’s policies are essentially terrorists who should be jailed to prevent another Oklahoma City bombing. I know I do.  And I’m mad at Bill Clinton for letting conservatives know we all feel that way.  He should have kept our secret.

People like William Ayers, Tom Hayden, Eldridge Cleaver, Sam Brown and Jane Fonda, and groups like SNCC, were seen by the mainstream media and liberal cultural commentators as exercising free speech and assembly, even when that assembly sometimes turned violent.

Really?  You mean CBS, NBC, and ABC reported that when Bill Ayers was bombing public buildings in the 1960s he was just exercising his Constitutional rights?  How shameful of them.  No wonder conservatives hate the mainstream media.  Knowing that, I now hate them, too.

If you don’t like President Obama’s policies, you are a racist who is setting him up for assassination by a neo-Nazi who is waiting in the (right) wings for sufficient inspiration. You should be lying down and taking it, because Obama wants only the best for all Americans.

Oh, I get it.  If you point out racist signs at Tea Parties, or quote racist remarks by Tea Party speakers, then you are ipso facto accusing all opponents of Obama of being racists. Now I understand.  I won’t do that anymore, Cal.  So, I won’t say that your “lying down and taking it” remark may be a racially-tinged reference.  I promise I won’t.

In this way of thinking, everything done by government when it is headed by leftists (though not by conservatives) is noble, righteous and good. If you disagree with any of it, you are opposing God, though of course to the left there is no real God. Government is God.

Again, I am overwhelmed by this revelation.  Since our own government has never been headed by a “leftist,” I’m not sure how you reached this conclusion, Cal, but I believe you because as all liberals know, Government is God, and Obama is its prophet.

If you don’t like what courts are doing — legitimizing behavior that used to be called sinful before that word fell into disrepute — you are a fundamentalist wacko who wants to impose your religion on the country.

Finally, Cal, that is something I did know.  You are a fundamentalist wacko who wants to impose your religion on the country by stacking the Supreme Court with conservative Christians who will claim that homosexuals are “sinners.” 

And you’re almost there.  A Sarah Palin presidency ought to finish the job.

Whites Unite! And Take Our Country Back!

Today’s Joplin Globe ran a story on a “former leader of a group called the White Patriot Party.”  The man, Frazier Glenn Miller, is running for Kit Bond’s U.S. Senate seat, and thus Mr. Miller naturally has to advertise his campaign on radio and television:

His ads have been aired in Spring­field, Kansas City and, beginning this week, on radio stations out of Mon­ett.

According to the story, the ads have a familiar theme, a theme that most Tea Party enthusiasts would instantly recognize:

While the ads focus on Jews, according to an Associated Press analysis, they also criticize immi­grants and minorities. The ads also goad white voters to “unite” and “take our country back.”

Goading white voters to “take our country back“?

Where have I heard that before?

Here is a screen shot from Podblanc, a white supremacist video sharing website, that features a Glenn Beck page:
       
    
       
 
Here is a short slideshow of “take our country back” examples culled from the web:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Blind Squirrel Speaks The Truth

From the even-a-blind-squirrel-finds-an-acorn file, comes a report that the quasi-racist Tom Tancredo, former Colorado congressman and hero of Tea Party Nation, believes Sarah Palin is not up to the commander-in-chief thing:

“I really don’t have this feeling about her as being presidential,”  Tancredo said. “I don’t know what it is exactly. I don’t know if the issues really are that difficult for her or not.”

Hinting that her public flirtation with running in 2012 was merely a commercial enterprise, Trancredo said it was a “great idea” to use the possibility of running to “make a lot of money and stay in the mix.”

Another acorn Tancredo discovered was his insight into John McCain, whose integrity diminishes more and more every day as he fights off a primary challenge from a bona fide teabagger:

“I don’t like him,” Tancredo said. “He is not a very pleasant person. He is nasty, mean; the skin of an onion would look deep compared to his. He has a short fuse, he is almost peculiarly unstable.”

That coming from a man who now fiercely criticizes things like the bank bailout in 2008, a bailout he supported with one of his last votes in Congress.

About his bailout vote, Tancredo said something interesting:

I don’t like it, but under those circumstances I supported it because I believed the alternative would have put an end to our free market system. I was told by everybody – Bernanke, Paulson, and other specialists, all brilliant guys – that if we didn’t do this in 48 hours, nobody will be able to get money out of the ATM.

Put an end to our free market system?  You mean the free market was doomed to fail?  You mean the free market needed to be rescued by the government?

Now, there is an acorn worth finding.

[AP photo]

The War On Obama

Given that conservatives have continued to prosecute their all-out war on Obama’s handling of our fight against Al Qaeda, it was nice to hear a strong defense of the administration coming from somewhere near the top. Here is one excerpt from Joe Biden’s appearance on Meet The Press today:

DAVID GREGORY: What about the general proposition that the President according to former Vice President Cheney doesn’t consider America to be at war and is essentially soft on terrorism? What do you say about that?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don’t think the Vice– the Former Vice President Dick Cheney listens. The President of the United States said in the State of the Union, “We’re at war with Al Qaeda.” He stated this– and by the way, we’re pursuing that war with a vigor like it’s never been seen before. We’ve eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates. We are making, we’ve sent them underground. They are in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don’t know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it’s one thing, again, to– to criticize. It’s another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?

This follows Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan’s piece last week in USA Today in which he said:

This administration’s efforts have disrupted dozens of terrorist plots against the homeland and been responsible for killing and capturing hundreds of hard-core terrorists, including senior leaders in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and beyond — far more than in 2008. We need no lectures about the fact that this nation is at war.

Now, no doubt these defenses will not placate Obama’s political enemies. They are at war with Obama himself.  The right-wing will not be satisfied by good news that the 9/11 perpetrators are being diminished on a daily basis. They don’t like Obama’s approach because it lacks the language of authoritarianism that conservatives covet.

Not content with merely being at war with Al Qaeda, they want Obama to buy into their larger “war on terror” because such a posture allows for a wide array of possibilities—both domestic and foreign—that will help satisfy their authoritarian cravings.  From wanting more warrantless surveillance of Americans to suggesting starting a war with Iran,  their authoritarian jones simply can’t be satisfied by a thoughtful, “professorial” approach they claim Obama’s policies represent.

Especially now that the Obama administration has tripled down on the efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan—with unarguable success—conservatives these days have to focus on some other aspect of the administration’s policy they want to make the public believe is leaving us vulnerable to terrorism.  Thus, a return to an emphasis on the language that Obama uses, as he prosecutes the war on actual terrorists, as opposed to an amorphous war on a tactic, “terror.”

What some have called a right-wing meme still makes its way about the culture.  You’ve heard it: “Obama won’t even use the word ‘terror.”  In a stunning example of not only right-wing hysteria, but of mainstream media compliance with such hysteria, here is a transcript from CNN from early January:

SEN. JIM DEMINT (Rep-S.C.): There’s no question that the president has down-played the risk of terror since he took office. He is investigating the CIA, rather than build them up.

GLORIA BORGER: How has he — Senator DeMint, how — how has he down-played the risk of terror?

DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.

BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.

As Greg Sargent pointed out,

Politico ran with DeMint’s claim today, also without fact-checking it. So did The Hill and MSNBC. CBS also ran similar DeMint comments without rebutting them.

The rebuttal is that not only has Obama repeatedly used the word, he had used it as recently as one day before DeMint’s accusation!  You gotta love that liberal media, letting hard-core conservatives lie about Obama that way.

But thankfully, there are other outlets.  Here is one example that utterly destroys the Obama-won’t-use-the-word-terror meme:

  

If you think such a devastating rebuttal of outrageous right-wing hysteria would stop the insane references to language and Obama’s war efforts, you would be wrong.  Here is something Sarah Palin said, to much applause, at the Tea Party Convention last weekend:

Let me say, too, it’s not politicizing our security to discuss our concerns because Americans deserve to know the truth about the threats that we face and what the administration is or isn’t doing about them. So let’s talk about them. New terms used like “overseas contingency operation” instead of the word “war.” That reflects a world view that is out of touch with the enemy that we face. We can’t spin our way out of this threat. It is one thing to call a pay raise a job created or saved. It is quite another to call the devastation that a homicide bomber can inflict a “manmade disaster.” I just say, come on, Washington, if no where else, national security, that is one place where you’ve got to call it like it is.

She went on to say:

We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies and recognizes the true nature of the threats that we face.

The “true nature of the threats that we face” is what Obama and his administration have finally got right.  And for that the right-wing offers nothing but ridicule and fear.  The latest book by a former Bush official, Marc Thiessen, has as part of its title the following:

How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack

Thiessen began his attacks on Obama rather early.  Last year he wrote:

It’s not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.

All of this illustrates that conservatives are more interested in a “War on Obama” than anything else.

[Biden photo: AP; Palin photo: Tennessean.com]

Palm Reading

Now that we all know how Sarah Palin made it through college, it’s time to cut her some slack.

I mean, so what if she needed a hand-y cheat sheet to remind herself that her and her Republican Party’s raison d’être was to “lift American Spirits.” One can’t be expected to carry such stuff around in one’s head, right? It gets in the way of other important stuff.

And, if someone had told me that Ms. Palin needed a Sharpie-produced reminder of why she was at the National Tea Party, or why she was traveling about the country making appearances and basking in the adulation of angry, if hypocritical, teabaggers, I would have guessed it would have looked like this:

 

UPDATE: Just one month later, my suspicions were confirmed.  Sarah actually did write a monetary reminder on the palm of her hand. In a speech at an Ohio Right to Life fundraiser: 

What I scribbled on the palm of my hand tonight too — it was the dollar sign, and I’m — we’re going to talk about the practical needs too for this cause, and this will remind me to — because I didn’t write it in my speech, I have to ad lib that part, so to remind me.

A dollar sign on the palm of her hand?  Now, that‘s my girl.  Here is the short video:

 Now that we all know

 

The Closing Of The Republican Mind

Daily Kos has finally released its Republican Poll, which was done by Research 2000. The survey was conducted between January 20 and January 31 of this year and involved just over 2000 “self identified Republicans.”

The results are a gold mine for those of us who want to know more about what it is that inhabits the Republican mind.

Let’s lead off with what I consider to be the two main questions designed to test the intelligence of any citizen these days. First:

Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?

68% of Republicans believe either Barack Obama should be impeached, or they are “not sure.”  Only 32%—one in three—believe that Obama should not be impeached.  But before we jump to conclusions and pass judgment on the intelligence of Republicans, let’s look at the second question.

Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?

58% of Republicans either believe that Barack Obama was not born in the United States or are not sure he was.  But wait: 43% of Republicans in the South believe Obama was not born here, compared with 36% overall.  So, around four in ten Republicans believe the President of the United States is not a citizen of the United States! Oh, boy!

We can now safely conclude that somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% of Republicans are either a) idiots, or b) irredeemably ignorant.  Your choice.

More results:

23% of Republicans believe their state “should secede from the United States.”  In the South, one in every three Republicans so believe.  One-third.  33%.  More than 3 in 10. Get that? Didn’t those people learn anything from the Civil War?

64% of Republicans believe or are “not sure” that “Barack Obama is a racist who hates White people?”  Only 36% believe that Obama is not a white-hating racist.  Is anyone shocked by these numbers?  No. Sadly.

57% of Republicans (61% in the South) either believe or are not sure that “Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win.” No surprise here, given Republican politicians’ rhetoric surrounding the issue.  Think about this:

Nearly 25% of Republicans believe that Obama wants the terrorists to win. 

63% of Republicans “think Barack Obama is a socialist.” Only 21% said they didn’t think so.  Again, Republican elected officials are largely responsible for this result because they have given Fox “News” and right-wing radio talkers plenty of “official” cover to broadcast this nonsense.

53% of Republicans believe “Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama.” 33% are not sure.  So, 86% believe that Palin either is or may be more qualified.  Can anyone imagine Sarah Palin standing before a room full of hostile Democratic congressman the way Obama stood before hostile Republicans last week? Apparently, more than half of all Republicans can so imagine.

21% of Republicans are sure that ACORN stole the 2008 election. Only 1 in 4 Republicans say that it did not.  That leaves 55% who simply aren’t sure.  Not sure? Given the coverage of ACORN on Fox “News,” it’s quite surprising that half of all Republicans aren’t sure yet.

67% of Republicans believe that “the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ.”  No surprise here, since Jesus is a Republican.

91% of Republicans support the death penalty.  No surprise here, since Jesus the Republican loves the death penalty.

76% of Republicans consider abortion to be “murder.”  No surprise here either, since Jesus hates abortion, although he managed to say exactly nothing about it, when he had the chance to do so.

34% of Republicans believe the birth control pill is “abortion.”  Therefore, it is likely that 1 in 3 Republicans believe that women who use birth control pills are committing “murder.” I don’t have words to explain this one.

31% of Republicans believe contraceptive’s should be outlawed.  Considering the last two items, no surprise here.  Laws outlawing the pill are the same as laws outlawing murder. We can all see that, right?

77% of Republicans (82% in the South) believe “public school students” should “be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world.”  While it wasn’t a part of this survey, I have it on good authority that 77% of Republicans also believe students should be taught how God created corporations with “free speech” rights.

51% of Republicans (56% in the South) believe that sex education shouldn’t be taught in the public schools.  Apparently, the children of Republicans know all they need to know about sex from great Republican examples like Senator David Vitter and Senator John Ensign.

77% of Republicans (82% in the South) believe same sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry.  In other words, they agree with that terrorist-loving, capitalist-hating, Kenyan-born Obama.

73% of Republicans (77% in the South) oppose gay teachers in public school.  Sounds about right, since 68% (73% in the South) don’t believe “gay couples” should “receive any state or federal benefits.”

55% of Republicans (60% in the South) oppose gays in the military. There’s no way that self-respecting conservatives will have gays in their fox holes, unless you’re talking about Larry Craig.

68% of Republicans believe Congress should not “make it easier for workers to form and join labor unions.”  No, no, no.  Republicans don’t want those nasty unions to help negotiate higher wages, better working conditions, and greater job security for them.  They prefer doing it the old fashion way: begging.

This profile of the Republican mind is a little depressing, but not a bit surprising.

“This Is Jeopardy!” Starring Sarah Palin

I for one am glad that Sarah Palin has finally come to terms with Fox “News” Channel.  Surely the half-governor will do less damage to the country there, since preaching to the choir of Fox followers will simply reinforce their erroneous conclusions.

But the problem may be that her Bible-based foreign policy musings or her faith-based prescriptions for health care reform will make it into the larger culture through legitimate news outlets, as they report on the uninformed things she will undoubtedly say.

Shucks, I find it hard myself to resist pointing out bizarre allegations about her, coming from campaign insiders, like this one:

“When her aides tried to quiz her she would routinely shut down – chin on her chest, arms folded, eyes cast to the floor, speechless and motionless, lost in what those around her described as a kind of catatonic stupor,” the book says.

“If I had known everything I know now, I would not have done this,” the book quotes Palin as saying.

Now, being reduced to a “catatonic stupor” at the thought of recalling pieces of a vast reservoir of newly-learned facts about the world could happen to any of us, even the brightest jewel in the crown of John McCain’s political career. 

Quizzing her like Alex Trebeck was an obvious attempt by her frantic handlers to find out if their prep efforts were fruitful and if the knowledge they were packing into her head would take up something like permanent residence there.  Alas, it didn’t.

But that’s not her fault.  No doubt, she had the smarts to outwit voters in Alaska, who mistakenly thought they were electing a full-time governor.  And, no doubt, she has the smarts to forego the dull and unrewarding job of managing a state to the exciting and satisfying job of managing her swollen and swelling bank account.

So, it’s not intelligence that the fresh Fox “analyst” lacks. It is a simple but vital curiosity about the world. Something even the best political operative can’t put on an index card and force feed an unwilling soul.  That’s why those nasty quizzes brought on such misery.  Written into her DNA is a program that rejects “facts” in favor of “faith.”

And where else would someone who loves Jesus and who lacks even a basic understanding of the world sign on as an instant star but Fox “News”?

It’s a marriage made in Republican heaven.  You know, the place were God lives.

Sarah Palin, Butch Cassidy, And The Sundance Kid

Gene Lyons, in today’s Globe, discussed the “hurry, hurry” philosophy expressed by so many opponents of Obama’s think-before-you-act methodology, as applied to the Afghanistan war. Lyons criticized a comment by David Broder, who had written:  

It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision — whether or not it is right.

Lyons’ response to that was:

Read that again. Better to do something stupid, the man says, than for President Obama to ask too many tough questions.

Later Lyons made this observation:

Time was when Republican politicians sneered at “nation­building” — particularly in remote places like Afghanistan that aren’t nations to begin with. Today, however, to think is to “dither.”

Nothing illustrates better the metamorphosis of the conservative movement’s foreign policy, from its anti-Wilsonian roots to today’s “give McChrystal whatever he wants” philosophy, than what Sarah Palin said to Barbara Walters recently regarding the Afghanistan War:

Walters: What should the U.S. goal in Afghanistan be?

Palin: To listen to McChrystal, to listen to the appointee that President Obama asked for, the advice from, McChrystal gave the president the advice, and said, we need essentially a surge strategy in Afghanistan so that we can win in Afghanistan. That means more resources, more troops there. It frustrates me and frightens me and many Americans that president Obama is dithering around with the decision in Afghanistan.

Walters: With what goal? What should be our ultimate goal? [Since she didn't answer the question the first time.]

Palin: Afghanistan, the people there, the government there, should be able to take over and to have a more peaceful existence there for the people who live there without American interference, if you will.

Now, leaving aside the Palinesque syntax and the fact that she is merely repeating boilerplate Republican criticism, what the Wasilla Wonder is saying is that the goal—the goal!—of the war in Afghanistan is not to pursue terrorists and to protect U.S. interests, but to make Afghanistan the Bella Vista of the Middle East, or something like that. 

God, please let Republicans anoint her in 2012!

As an aside, all of this Broder/Palin nonsense reminds me of one of the great scenes from one of the great movies of all time, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

The Neanderthal Times

Thanks to Sean Hannity, we now know that Sarah Palin gets her news from the Neanderthal Times, also known as Newsmax.  While not a shock, I did expect by now the half-governor would be astute enough to tell a fawning Hannity that she was a fan of Foreign Affairs or some other highbrow journal.

Alas, our conservative celebrity (does anyone remember how Obama was disdained as a mere “celeb”?) probably had some misplaced fear that even a prostrate Hannity might come up for air long enough to ask her about Vali Nasr’s, Forces of Fortune: The Rise of a New Muslim Middle Class and What It Means for Our World,  or other arcana from the world of Foreign Affairs.

It’s not that Newsmax doesn’t have some high-powered conservative journalists behind it.  After all, it was founded by Chris Ruddy (with financial help from Richard Mellon Scaife, who famously called a female reporter a bleeping Communist bleep, for being brave enough to ask about his political giving). 

Ruddy became a hero on the right through his obsession with “the strange death” of Vince Foster (hint: the Clinton’s may have had him killed or covered for who did) and who suggested that Ron Brown, Clinton’s Commerce Secretary, may have been shot in the head, just prior to a Croatian plane crash in 1996.  Ruddy didn’t make it clear just why someone would bother to shoot Mr. Brown, when normally a plane crash is sufficient to do the job.

But such is conspiracist logic.

Most recently, Newsmax carried a column by John Perry, which suggested that the “Obama problem” might be solved by a nifty military coup.  Such patriotic prose makes great reading on those long Alaska nights, when Todd is crossing the tundra on a dog sled, and our fair Sarah is curled up next to her Hewlett-Packard, absorbing the enormous amounts of misinformation necessary to convince Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and the rest of America that she is more than just a pretty face.

Thankfully, Sister Sarah’s troubling reliance on Newsmax has been offset by the comforting fact that she has some running-mate love for Glenn Beck, which certainly eases my pain and convinces me that she is part of the mainstream conservative movement.

While the bubbabots no doubt had “Drill, baby, drill” on their minds upon first seeing the shapely Sarah, they now chant, “Run, baby, run” as they plan their next tea party. 

And though I have my doubts,  I can only hope she will.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 591 other followers

%d bloggers like this: