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Sunday, March 21, 2010

unCivil Rights 

Foot soldiers for the Republican minority in Congress -- a devil's sabbath of tea partiers, birthers, racists, bigots -- invaded the Capitol yesterday. They chanted "faggot" at Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). They chanted "nigger" at Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), both members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Someone spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), another black legislator, and House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said, "I have heard things today that I have not heard since March 15, 1960, when I was marching to get off the back of the bus."

That's just the slime that's gotten reported.

Yup. We shore do hope these fine specimens of humanity are the people who get control of our government!

At least one Republican member of Congress on the Sunday Morning Gasbag shows tried to excuse the behavior -- "Well, people are just so angry" -- without bothering to acknowledge that the misplaced rage has been artificially ginned up by a wealth of misinformation and outright lies spewed by leading Republicans and going back at least a year. Sarah Palin had her tongue all wrapped up in that. And Michele Bachmann. So did our own Rep. Virginia A. Foxx ("at least we Republicans won't be putting people to death like the Democrats!"). The gullible, the naive, the under-informed either fell for that bilge or find it convenient to hang their racism from those particular hat racks.

Haven't been personally enthusiastic about the Senate bill about to be passed, but I confess to being driven to root now for its passage, witnessing the desperation of Karl Rove on ABC this a.m. Rove was either severely over-caffeinated or showing the true panic of realizing a Democratic victory in this matter will damage his own ... shall we be generous and call it "his own legacy"? (His credibility was already as damaged as a Pinto in a roll-over.)

Or take the true creepy mendacity of the fake memo trotted out on the House floor by Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) yesterday. Unfortunately for Garrett, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) also happened to be present, and he don't take no shit. Weiner called out Republicans for the lie, while our own Virginia Foxx tried futilely to come to Garrett's aid. Watch it.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

McCrory Slams Door on Future with the NCGOP 

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, making his exit today from 14 years of incumbency, shreds the Eleventh Commandment for Republicans, which is to say, he speaks ill of some fellow GOPers.

As in ... Sarah Palin is an obvious bobblehead and the national Republican Party has begun to feel like acid reflux. Not in those exact words, but still.

When and if he decides to reenter politics, the right-wing of his party (which is to say, his party) is going to make him eat those words.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

On the Menu at Montreat: Turkey Hash 

Sarah Palin is having dinner with Franklin Graham and his father Billy tonight in western North Carolina.

Back-up to be provided by The Angel Chorus.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Words o' Wisdom 

Tom Jensen over at Public Policy Polling:
All three of these folks [current top GOP contenders Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee] reinforce the negative perceptions that much of the country holds about the Republican Party. The GOP needs a fresh face that challenges people's assumptions about who Republicans are and is visibly not just going to be George W. Bush under another name. I don't know who that person is, but he/she needs to emerge if the party is going to win back the White House in 2012.

Some conservative talking head the other day -- maybe it was Pat Buchanan -- uttered the name Bob McDonnell in reference to the above perception that something is dreadfully outta focus (rather than mavericky) about the current Republican field of presidential contenders. Which we think kinda proves Jensen's point, if you're turning to the man who just won a Southern governorship but hasn't even been sworn in yet.

McDonnell = a fresh face, yes. But "challenges people's assumptions"? Not so much.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Morning Laundryline 

For all the dissension in the Democratic Party, the Republicans have their own internal rotting fish heads.

Congressman Heath Shuler (NC-11) following not just PhRMA's talking points but the talking points that PhRMA specifically tailored for Republican members of Congress ... about protecting PhRMA's huge profits by way of prohibiting generic versions of certain cancer & AIDS drugs. UPDATE: Tom Sullivan at Scrutiny Hooligans goes a more complete blow-by-blow of all this under the appropriate headline "Corporate Ventriloquism."

The Barracuda bites the hand that fed her.

North Carolina Republicans, even with headliner Dick Armey and the personal blessing of Jesus Christ, can't get but 400 measly protesters out in Raleigh over the weekend? Who'd a thunk it!

Republican conservatives dismember their most promising politicians. Fine by me.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Will That Moose Hunt? 

Less than 48 hours before the election for governor in Virginia, at least some of the state's voters began getting robo-calls from Sarah Palin.

Apparently, she can see Virginia from her house.

The Republican candidate for governor up there, Robert McDonnell, a right-winger of the Pat Robertson school, had politely requested that Palin not stick her cute little button nose into his election campaign, fearing that the state's independents might not cotton to the under-informed former Alaska governor (who couldn't even get through a single term in office).

Curiously (or perhaps, understandably, given the above paragraph), Palin does not mention McDonnell by name: "Virginia, hello, this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles. The eyes of America will be on Virginia and make no mistake about it, every vote counts. So don't take anything for granted, vote your values on Tuesday, and urge your friends and family to vote, too."

"Your values" = gay-bashing anti-abortion get 'em women back in the kitchen, all of which fit McDonnell to a tee.

The calls are being paid for by the Virginia Faith and Freedom Coalition, the state branch of a national conservative group founded by former Christian Coalition director (and Jack Abramoff palsy-wowsy) Ralph Reed.

McDonnell is heavily favored to win over Democrat Creigh Deeds, but perhaps Palin intends to brag that she turned the (already very red) tide in McDonnell's favor. She ain't nothing if she ain't an opportunist.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Abstinence-only "sex education" did not work in Texas schools when we went through them (in the 1880s). And abstinence-only sex education isn't working now. It's a joke almost as big as a certain former guv of Alaska, but at least some Texas school districts are beginning to recognize that.

There are few states where the Southern Baptists are more powerful than in Texas, and the Southern Baptists have been resolutely opposed to giving teenagers actual facts about their raging sexuality, including actual information about how to prevent pregnancy. On the other hand, the Southern Baptists have been extremely effective in forcing abstinence-only on public schools. Not to mention the federal government. Under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the feds spent $1.3 billion (billion) on the abstinence-only fairy tale. The result? A soring teen pregnancy rate, especially in God-blessed Texas, which
has the third-highest teen birth rate in the country and the highest percentage of teen mothers giving birth more than once.

The rate of student pregnancies in Austin high schools has increased 57 percent since the 2005-06 school year, and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising among Travis County teens.

At least some Texas school districts (urban ones to be sure) are changing direction to combat such dismal statistics. For country school districts, where going to the football game and screwing under the bleachers constitute the standard teenager Friday night, well, they're not going to feel so free.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Return of the Know-Nothings 

Ah, the odor of singed hair arising from the Republican Party of North Carolina. They're not so much "rebranding" (the source of that burned hair smell) as they're performing seances over the buried corpses of their ancient fears. The Know Nothings of 1840 were pikers compared to the hysterical mobs of today, taking their intellectual cues from the triumvirate of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh.

Public Policy Polling has found that "in North Carolina 64% of rural Republicans think [President Obama] was not born in the US, compared to 47% of Republicans overall." The statistic in the first part of that sentence is startling on its own, but what about the almost half of statewide Republicans who say they think we have an unconstitutional, unqualified foreigner (not to mention Muslim!) sitting in the White House?

That's what they say. Whether they actually believe it is another matter. It may be that they just woke up and discovered they lost the election and need some ready cudgel to flail at the air. "Foreigner" has had a long history as readily weaponized rhetoric in America.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Plan B: Blame "Thug-Like" Behavior on the Dems 

The best sign we've seen that the mob atmosphere at town-hall meetings, engineered by corporate-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, is actually backfiring is this charge from Dallas Woodhouse, N.C. state director of AFP:
The outbursts against Democratic legislators at town hall meetings are being coordinated by the White House through the Democratic National Committee and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, so they can demonize those who speak out against the proposed insurance reforms, Woodhouse said.

"It's disgusting, thug-like politics, happening because President Obama is losing this debate on the merits," he said.

Note that Woodhouse admitted the behavior is "thug-like."

So, in case you're not following plain English, the Congressional Democrats, taking but a little time off from arranging death panels to send Sarah Palin's parents and Trig off to the ovens, are finding, recruiting, training, and encouraging a bunch of elderly white people with red faces to show up at Democratic town halls to shout nasty stuff at Democrats.

Makes total sense!

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Give Shuler Credit 

...for this, at least.

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Monday, July 13, 2009


Speaking of Sarah Palin (and how can we not?), Mike Murphy, the veteran GOP operative, characterized the Republican rank-and-file who are head-over-heels in love with the Alaskan Doofus: "People at the grass roots see a charismatic personality who is popular with other people at the grass roots. But their horizon only goes so far as people who think like them." In a column published last Thursday in the New York Daily News, Murphy called Palin a "political train wreck," "an awful choice" for vice president, and her resignation an "astonishing self-immolation."

Murphy's opinion and that of several other Republican political professionals are tallied in today's LATimes under the headline, "Republican Pundits Open Fire on Sarah Palin." Which just makes the Republican grassroots love her all the more and declare that she was sent by God to lead their party out of the wilderness (and onto the frozen tundra?).

What are Republicans in Alaska saying about her since she declared "So long, suckas"? Max Blumenthal catalogs a few of those, including this one:
"Honestly, Sarah's resignation was complete bullshit and I'm saying that as a Republican," a Republican political veteran working in the legislature told me. "In all my years in politics, nobody has left Alaska in such a mess. Everyone here is just shocked." ...

Apparently, it'll take a special session of the Alaskan legislature to untangle the knots, including the Palin unilateral decision to refuse Economic Stimulus money.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

S. Palin Leaves Public Life in a Blaze of Babbling 

No really.

Well we got no choice
All the girls and boys
Makin all that noise
'Cause they found new toys
Well we can't salute ya
Can't find a flag
If that don't suit ya
That's a drag

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks

Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence
We can't even think of a word that rhymes

School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces
[Thank you, Alice Cooper]


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The headline of today: "Sarah Palin Gets Book Deal."

Never mind who'll write it. We're wondering who'll read it to her.


Monday, April 06, 2009

That Horse Done Left the Barn 

A spokeswoman for the Sarah Palin family issued a statement on Friday that the most famous pregnant teen in America, Bristol Palin, will henceforth focus on "advocating abstinence."

You absolutely, positively could NOT make this stuff up.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Governor Tone-Deaf Takes the Stage 

Bobby Jindal, the Great Non-White Hope of the Republican Party, decided to remind us all of the ineptness of the Bush administration during the Katrina aftermath by way of making a few points:

1. The Republican Party has lost the trust of the American people, deservedly so

2. Therefore, you should trust us

Governor Jindal had previously pasted an inadequate fig-leaf over his own hypocrisy: he said he would not accept part of the Obama stimulus money for Louisiana -- about 1 percent of it -- while taking the rest of those "irresponsible, wasteful, ridiculous" billions. We want Bobby Jindal to have the courage of his convictions. We want him to reject ALL of that irresponsible, wasteful, and ridiculous stimulus money. Otherwise, we'll conclude that he's actually the Captain Renault of the Republican Party (shocked that there's gambling going on at Rick's) rather than the voice of a reborn political party imbued with virtue and truth.

Because, see, some $175 billion of federal money has been spent in Louisiana since Katrina, which somehow, by some right-wing voodoo, is supposed to prove that the federal government is just evil.

Someone on cable TV referred to Jindal as "Governor Buzz-Kill." Someone on the blogs last night hung this title on his rebuttal of President Obama: "You're On Your Own, America."

Maybe they should have picked Sarah Palin.

Did you see Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito greet the president in the well of the House prior to the speech? Whoa! If body language were toxic, Alito killed every furry animal on Capitol Hill last night.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Most Republican Guvs Favor Stimulus Bill 

Duh. Even Sarah "I Read Everything" Palin has her hand out in D.C.

The funnest to watch, however, are the doctrinaire conservatives who lust after the money but who don't want to be caught lusting after the money ... like Haley Barbour of Missis-slappi: "Yes, we need some help and we appreciate the help. But I don't know about the details and the strings attached to tell you if I'll take all of it or not."

Or, better, Bobby Jindal of Lousy-anna, who says he would have voted against the bill in the House but will (yep) TAKE THE FREAKIN' money. Didn't Madam Foxx say something almost identical?

We call this h.y.p.o.c.r.i.s.y. Of the political sort.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guess Who's the New Renaissance Woman 

Sarah Palin "believes the Republican Party is at the threshold of an historic renaissance that will build a better future for all," and she intends that you give her a generous contribution (to "SarahPAC") to prove it.

The first Renaissance was all about enlightenment and learning and art, about discovering science and challenging The Church.

Yep. That's what Sarah is ALL about.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conservatism: Waiting For a Tow 

Some of the most interesting reading these days is found on conservative blog sites, and we're particularly alert to more calls for "purges" of weak-kneed sisters in the ranks who dared vote for one or another of those Bush initiatives that are now seen as conservative heresy.

Erick Erickson at RedState, for example, who wants to separate the conservative "movement" from the Republican Party (since look where being joined at the hip got them all!) and who uses the "p" word ("purge ... purge") twice, along with the metaphor of "dead wood" for describing Republican/conservative leaders whose leadership is no longer required (and by "dead wood," Erickson is apparently not referring to the impenetrable space between Sarah Palin's ears but to certain unnamed "conservative" orgs and unnamed Republican members of Congress who need to be disappeared as soon as possible).

As a spectator sport, the philosophical advancement toward hari-kiri on the Right has been even more fascinating than we could have hoped for, and no one's even been bled out yet. We're avidly waiting to see whether "the movement" can squeeze itself down into the number of people who'll fit comfortably inside a walnut shell.

NOTE TO PURGERS: Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted FOR the Bush/Paulson bailout, than which there can hardly be a greater conservative heresy. Yet there was Sarah Palin, the Doofus Darling, campaigning for Chambliss all over Georgia yesterday, proclaiming him conservatism's savior and -- naturally-- a "maverick" in the Senate.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

There's a Lesson Here: Don't Tempt Cosmic Irony 

Cosmic Irony, defined by the Urban Dictionary:
"A type of irony in which Fate, the Universe, God, or whichever omnipotent force you choose makes it their sole purpose to mess with your life. They like to screw you over, and watch the mayhem while laughing at your misfortune."

Miss Manners, killed by a garbage truck. That's an example. Or your favorite racist contracts sickle-cell anemia.

Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasy collapses while defending the Bush torture policy.

Failed national candidate Sarah Palin, self-described "friend to all creatures great and small," acts "presidential" and pardons a turkey, while a bloody turkey slaughter proceeds directly over her left shoulder.

And the cameraman had warned her that bloody snow was in the lens, along with expiring big birds, but the Alaskan doofus said, "No worries!"

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kathleen Parker Hates God 

Oh no she dent!

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker, most famous recently for calling on Sarah Palin to step down as John McCain's running mate because she is, you know, dumb as laundry detergent, has ripped the sheet again, this time with the mullahs of the Religious Right. It's one thing for a pinko-commie like WataugaWatch to complain about the Religious Right. It's wholly another thing when the author of "Save the Males" unsheaths her sword against The Righteous.

In the column making the rounds on the InnerTubes today, Parker opines that "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh."

And this:

"Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party."

"Armband religion." Brilliant turn of phrase that, which pretty much sums up our own feelings about the underlying hypocrisy of most pharisaical displays of religiosity that we've been treated to since The Littlest Angel said God wanted him to be president.

Parker doesn't miss the significance that now Sarah Palin has snatched the anointing oil for herself, promising to plow on through any door that God obligingly opens up. Saith the Parker, "Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door."

We'd hate to be Parker's InnerTube provider for the next few days.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ladies & Gents: The GOP of 2009! 

We can relate to the flummoxing loss the national Republican Party has gone through. Been there.

We are reading the prescriptions for healing itself with great interest, put out by many voices, the most compelling of them conservative insiders who think for a living. The choice seems to be to renew from the ground up, find a way (or just new language) to make conservatism appealing to a broader cross-segment, particularly independent voters who don't fancy fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior.

Or ... they could double-down on fear-mongering and puritanical attacks on personal behavior and become even more a minor regional party headquartered in the Old South.

Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun has announced his choice. It's the latter:
"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, [Obama]'s the one who proposed this national security force. I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism .... That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist .... We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

It may sound a bit crazy. Check.

"Radical socialism or Marxism," which may be identical to fascism, or maybe not -- we're looking into it -- but when you're making Mulligan stew, you throw in a lot of ingredients and hope they cook together. Check.

Mr. Broun is NOT comparing Obama to the person he just compared him to. Check.

Now here's a political party that is maybe becoming a tad over-caffeinated, something we're sure Sarah Palin would absolutely love to head-up. You betcha!

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Surviving Sarah Palin 

Everything you needed to know about the lethal split in the Republican party was summed up in that snide comment about Sarah & Todd Palin, leaked to the press from a high-up in the McCain campaign a day after the election:
Todd and Sarah Palin were "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast." Newsweek

Hillbillies. That word was the choice of a member of the elite, power-base of the Republican Party calling the upstart, populist, conservative know-nothing rank and file of the Republican Party the worst name that a white American can call another white American.


That word opened the door wide on the true contempt that the current rulers of the GOP harbor for the back-country troops that they regularly rile up with gays, God, and guns, just long enough to win an election, and then continue to ignore or take for granted until the next electoral contest.

The use of that word hillbillies, along with the other garbage about Palin that got dumped into the media bloodstream immediately following the McCain defeat, was clearly meant to destroy her forever as a credible national leader. That speaks to how much the GOP power elite actually fear the great unwashed hoards of their own Huns.

This a.m. Craig sent me a link to an anonymous essay ("Sarah Palin Is the Future of Conservatism") by a political consultant who digs deeper into the Republican Party's Palin problem:
Within the hierarchies of the old right, Sarah Palin's style of pseudo working class conservatism was reserved for the proverbial back of the bus. Her type was not to speak, but to be spoken to; they were assigned to work as the foot soldiers in campaigns and be ignored until the next election.

But as social divisions widen and opportunity declines, there will be an ever-decreasing market for the type of homely business conservatism dished along with breakfast at the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. The style of conservatism that Sarah Palin represents will be the only one that has a majoritarian future in today's America. The populist conservatism will be openly hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual, belligerently militaristic and most significantly ideologically inconsistent and opportunistic.

Hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual ... you get the drift of where we're headed?

If you need a stronger hint about the forces the GOP has always felt privileged to toy with but which Palin may unleash for real on us all, the Stokes County resident who erected a big upsidedown American flag the day after the election, and then spray-painted a giant 'X' through the whole thing as a symbol of his hatred for Obama and for all who voted him into office, might be instructive. That's a photo above (from the W-S Journal) of the man's hateful, paranoid, anti-intellectual touch-up of the American flag. The violence of the emotion behind it is perfectly clear.

Sarah Palin is that man's hero. She will have her revenge on the Republican power elite, you betcha, and she may cause the Stokes County flag-displayer to have (a somewhat peculiar) love well up in his heart again.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Whack Job 

First, a top McCain operative said that Sarah Palin behaved like a diva.

Now another McCain advisor is saying privately that she's a "whack job."

We think when the movie is made of the McCain/Palin conjoining, it could be titled "Fatal Attraction." With a moosehead in the stewpot rather than a bunny rabbit.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Signs of the Times 

This one from North Vernon, Indiana, via Revolution in Jesusland.

Gordon has a huge slide show up at Scrutiny Hooligans from outside the Palin rally in Asheville yesterday. Our favorite sign seen in the crowd: "Sarah Palin ... After the Rapture, can I have your clothes?"

Our nephew got inside the auditorium for the Palin speech and was furiously texting "color" to family. He'd already voted early for Obama and a straight Democratic ticket. We suspect that a significant portion of that crowd in heavily Democratic Asheville wasn't exactly on Palin's side.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Palin Swats at Fruit Flies 

That desperate doofus Sarah Palin made her first "major policy address" this a.m., urging the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which would help the "early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism." Palin and her husband Todd have an autistic child.

If she had stopped at that, all would be well. But Palin cannot resist cheap-shot political attacks, even in "major policy addresses," so she also chose to mock the amount that Congress spends on earmarks and singled out one in particular: "Things like fruit fly research .... I kid you not."

Palin is blissfully unaware that scientific research with fruit flies has led to valuable discoveries that have boosted autism research, as a study at the University of North Carolina demonstrated last year:
[S]cientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for ... nerve cell connections to form and function correctly.

The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

I kid you not.

When your instinct is to attack attack attack, based on low information (always!), you certainly do end up wedged in our own narrow corners sometimes.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Grudge 

Sarah Palin was quite handy using her power as governor of Alaska in prosecuting a grudge against a former brother-in-law. She "unlawfully abused her power," according to an Alaska legislative panel's conclusion out this a.m. The panel is composed of ten Republican and four Democratic state legislators.

Apparently, she's also got a few similar ideas about how she'll run the U.S. Senate, according to what she told a third-grader, in answer to the question "What does the Vice President do?" "They're in charge of the U.S. Senate, so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes...."

Well, no. The Constitution gives the Vice President the privilege of presiding over the Senate and casting a vote only in the case of a tie, but the Senate is run by the Majority Leader, armed with a rule book that would take a platoon of Jesuits to penetrate and understand.

Palin has other ideas. She seems to think that the federal government will yield to her magical power like the Alaskan state bureaucracy, or at least to the threats of violence posed by her hubby. (The report referenced above concluded that Todd Palin "has extraordinary access to the governor's office and her closest advisers. He used that access to try to get trooper Mike Wooten fired....")

At least, if she gets into that presiding chair in the U.S. Senate, she'll look ... well-dressed! Also in the news this a.m.: The Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 "to clothe and accessorize" Palin, and that wouldn't be from Wal-Mart or Target, either, but from off the racks at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdale's.

Nice duds, Governor! Way to demonstate how the GOP is conservative in managing its money!

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama 


McCain didn't pass the test posed by the current economic crisis.

McCain didn't pass the test posed by his own vice presidential choice.

McCain didn't pass the test of broadening the Republican base, rather than embarking on a William Ayers-fueled witch-hunt that can only narrow the party:
"...I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently – or his campaign has – on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says that he's a watchdog of terrorists. Then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country, trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate...."

Transcript here.

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Here's an Idea: Let's Have Us a Witch-Hunt! 

The Republican presidential campaign has taken a turn in the last month that makes me nostalgic for the 1960s in Texas. Formed in 1958 by an ex-candy maker, the John Birch Society believed fervently and spread the doctrine that its founder wrote, that "the traitors inside the U.S. government would betray the country's sovereignty to the United Nations for a collectivist New World Order managed by a one-world socialist government."

By 1960 I was a high school sophomore in a west Texas high school, scared to death of "the traitors inside the U.S. government" and convinced by Birch propaganda that some of my farmland teachers might be secret commies. When John Kennedy ran for president that year, I received pamphlets proving that he was actually the puppet of the Pope. Pope ... communists ... they were all the same to me ... foreign and dangerous for being unAmerican.

Later on in a west Texas Baptist college, I began to have thoughts myself that would have gotten me labeled "subversive" by the Birch society. On November 2, 1965, a man named Norman Morrison, a devout Quaker and father of three, used kerosene to burn himself to death outside the Pentagon as a protest against the Vietnam War. I was totally stunned by the TV news covering this horrific event and got myself to the library and read every national newspaper account I could get my hands on. Suddenly, what had seemed remote and beyond my control, took on a personal cost and real pain. I wrote an editorial in the college newspaper not so much praising Norman Morrison as wondering at the enormity of his personal sacrifice for principle, as though I (gulp) actually admired him.

A few months went by. One of my friends who worked part-time as a receptionist for a local dentist, who also happened to be a big commie-hunter for the Birch Society, pulled me aside and told me I should be worried because her boss had a file with my name on it, and inside the file was a clipping of my editorial. "These people are dangerous," she suggested.

I did worry. I was a junior in college, a very religiously conservative son of the soil who cared deeply what people thought. If they came and asked me, "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party," I would of course answer no, but national experience had already taught me that in a country divided against itself, a denial was only taken as evidence of lying. The more you said you WEREN'T something, the more you obviously WERE.

We seem to have arrived at the 1960s again, led there by accusations of "palling around with terrorists" among other noxious insinuations. Behold the pattern as it has now gelled:

1. October 5, 2008, in Loudon County, Va., John McCain's brother Joe referred to Arlington and Alexandria in Northern Virginia as "communist country." He quickly apologized and called the remark a joke. At the time he said it, however, it was no joke, and he only apologized because the comment made it into the press.

2. On Oct. 16, 2008, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, at a private fundraiser in Greensboro, N.C., made a point of mentioning that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country, of which North Carolina is apparently one. "No word on which states she views as unpatriotic."

3. This last Friday night, Oct. 17, 2008, in an appearance on Hard Ball with Chris Matthews, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) escalated the assault on Barack Obama's supposed lack of American-ness -- he in fact has, according to Bachmann, anti-American views and values, and furthermore the press corps needs to expose which members of the U.S. Congress may be unAmerican, and by the way, American college campuses are just chock-a-block full of professors who hate America. Here are the relevant exchanges between Bachmann and Matthews:
REP. BACHMANN: ...Most Americans, Chris, are wild about America, and they're very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values.... Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about. That's why they want to know what his answers are....

MR. MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin was around today talking about pro- American parts of America, and assuming there's other non-parts of the country. What parts of America would you say are anti-American? What parts of this country?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I would say that people who hold anti- American views. I don't think it's geography. I think it's people who don't like America, who detest America. And on college campuses, a Ward Churchill, another college campus, a Bill Ayers, you find people who hate America. And unfortunately, some of these people have positions teaching in institutions of higher learning. But you'll find them in all walks of life all throughout America.... I think the people that Barack Obama has been associating with are anti-American, by and large, the people who are radical leftists. That's the real question about Barack Obama -- Saul Alinsky, one of his teachers, you might say, out of the Chicago area; Tony Rezko, who is an associate also.

MR. MATTHEWS: He's a leftist? I thought he was a business guy.

REP. BACHMANN: These are very concerning figures that are in Barack Obama's past.

MR. MATTHEWS: I thought Tony Rezko was some business guy. I didn't know he was a leftist, anti-American guy.... How many Congress people, members of Congress, do you think are in that anti-American crowd you described? How many Congress people do you serve with? I mean, it's 435 members of Congress.

REP. BACHMANN: Right now --

MR. MATTHEWS: How many are anti-American in the Congress right now that you serve with?

REP. BACHMANN: You'd have to ask them, Chris. I'm focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he's been associating with. And I'm very worried about --

MR. MATTHEWS: But do you suspect that a lot of people you serve with --

REP. BACHMANN: -- their anti-American nature.... What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.

4. October 18, 2008, also on MSNBC, Nancy Pfotenhauer, a top aide to John McCain, argued that despite polling and all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, her boss has a strong chance of winning Virginia because of his support in "real Virginia," that part of the downstate far removed in distance and political philosophy from the more liberal northern part of the state, what Joe McCain called the "communist" part.

Evidently, I have once again achieved the distinction of being a bad American, not a real American, an American who could safely be knocked to the ground at a Sarah Palin rally, while the knocker-down is applauded for his superior American-ness. (Judge for yourself the glee of those who were glad that Greensboro News & Record reporter Joe Killian got kicked down ... by some of the reader responses on that link.)

The McCain/Palin campaign can claim all it wants that it is not encouraging an atmosphere of fear and violence. The evidence speaks volumes.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dewey Estes and the Real Woman 

EAST FERGUSON, N.C. (AP) – The cancellation of an expected Sarah Palin campaign rally on the campus of Appalachian State University has left a Caldwell County Republican not only bitterly disappointed but also holding an expensive bag.

When news that Palin might come to the ASU campus tomorrow for a massive campaign rally leaked out from secret contacts between the McCain campaign and the ASU Student Government Association, Caldwell County gun dealer and Republican precinct chair Dewey Estes got busy organizing a special demonstration of affection for Palin that he hoped would involve scores of Palin enthusiasts and also attract national media attention.

In anticipation of the rally, Estes purchased 12 gross (144) inflatable female sex dolls, all with lots of brunette hair, and was planning to hand these out at the Palin rally to men to wave from the crowd. “We thought it would be a real tribute to a real woman. We just wanted to show the world how we felt about our Sarah,” Estes said.

“Hell, I would have even volunteered to blow them all up,” Estes said.

Estes was also planning to add extra real lipstick to each inflatable doll. But then the bottom dropped out of his plan: the McCain campaign discovered that ASU students would be leaving on Wednesday for Fall Break, so the rally was canceled.

Estes’ frustration at not being able to present a colorful tribute to Palin is nothing compared to his frustration at being stuck with 144 inflatable sex dolls. “Make that 143,” said Estes. “I ruined one of them with an acetylene torch. My bad. The others are still in their boxes. Maybe I’ll have a yard sale and donate the money to the Palin campaign.”

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

John McCain: Obama Is Not An Arab 

John McCain, bless his heart (which must have grown three sizes since yesterday)! He painted himself into a corner at his own rallies by promoting the Obama-hangs-out-with-terrorists trope. His followers got so vile in their outbursts that McCain was finally forced to defend his opponent as an honorable American who is not, incidentally, an Arab. And got booed by his own supporters for saying so. (The video is all over the Inter-Webs, but here's one source to it.)

Standing up, finally, against the extremists whose rage he's responsible for pumping up. It's a hell of a position to be in as a candidate.

Does he feel he now must attempt to salvage at least a tatter of his former honor? It's about too late. And how will his conservative supporters react? And will Sarah Palin go on with her attacks? Because, hey! McCain needs her a whole hell of a lot more than she needs him, to hear Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan tell it.

Maybe there's been a presidential election as warped as this one, but we don't remember it.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

On the Precipice of Panic 

Conservative columnist David Brooks writes today about what's happened to the Republican Party. It's now succeeded in driving away educated people. The symbol of its success in narrowing its base even further is Sarah Palin, the low-information candidate for low-information voters.

"Low-information" is a euphemism for people who instantly believe the latest e-mail that says Obama was raised a Muslim with the explicit mission of lying low until he can become president and confiscate all our Bibles and turn our public schools into Madrassas.

They are rapidly degenerating into an angry mob at McCain/Palin rallies, reflecting "a party on the precipice of panic," according to Jonathan Martin.

The shouts of "kill the terrorist" have alarmed thinking Republicans. In the Jonathan Martin article, he quotes John Weaver, John McCain's former top strategist:
"People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, the differences with Senator Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared to Senator McCain. And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn female voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive. Senator Obama is a classic liberal with an outdated economic agenda. We should take that agenda on in a robust manner. As a party we should not and must not stand by as the small amount of haters in our society question whether he is as American as the rest of us. Shame on them and shame on us if we allow this to take hold."

Too late there, Mr. Weaver. There are many low-information voters, apparently, who simply CANNOT be for someone politically unless they simultaneously HATE someone else.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Lower Depths 

McNasty couldn't bring himself to even look at Barack Obama during the first debate. During the second one, he looked at him and then referred to him over his shoulder and with the jab of his elbow as "That one."

The way you might refer to a broken chair that a guest shouldn't sit in. Or to a 1977 Impala that ceased to run in the early '90s. "That one." The contempt was cold and clammy.

But what do you expect? How should Sleazy McSleazealot refer to an America-hating terrorist in our midst? That's the image of Obama that McCain and Pom-Pom Palin are frantically constructing before crowds eager to pick up the vibe and scream sympathetically "Kill him!" All to Palin's evident approbation.

This is where McCain has taken himself. This is where he's willing to take the country. This is a formerly respected U.S. Senator who has not much left but his fury and his spite. Yes, that one on the right.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Hugh McColl Endorses Obama 

We hear from Charlotteans that the city is abuzz today over the public endorsement of Barack Obama by former NCNB CEO and Bank of America Chair Hugh McColl, credited by some as the man who put Charlotte in the forefront of the financial services industry. (HT: DJ)

Navy-pilot McCain might wince at this particular sentence in the McColl statement: "Through the years that I've been a businessman and before that an officer in the Marine Corps, I saw what qualities make effective leaders. I see them in Obama: a sharp intellect, stiff spine and steady hand." Ouch.

McColl goes on: "Obama's economic plans will restore market confidence and provide a blueprint for a better future. His pragmatic, intelligent economic plan will stop our financial slide and restore the expansion and confidence we knew in the 1990s. Obama's tax relief plans for small businesses and the middle class should provide much-needed economic stimulus."

Meanwhile, John McCain means to stop these falling dominoes nationally with ... what? Sarah Palin going negative?

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Friday, October 03, 2008

'So Extremely Dangerous To Consider': A Found Poem 

Hey, can I call you Joe?
A good barometer here,
As we try to figure out has this been a good time or a bad time,
The barometer there, I think, is going to be resounding.
I've joined this team that is a team of mavericks,
Not having that proof for the American people
To know that his commitment, too, is, you know,
Put the partisanship, put the special interests aside,
And get down to getting business done for the people of America.

Darn right.

Again, John McCain and I,
That commitment that we have made,
And we're going to follow through on that,
Getting rid of that corruption,
Also, though, is let's commit ourselves,
Joe Six Pack, hockey moms,
We need also to not get ourselves in debt,
To learn a heck of a lot of good lessons.

Darn right.

I may not answer the questions
That either the moderator or you want to hear.

Patriotic is saying, government, you know,
You're not always the solution,
And kind of undo in my own area of expertise,
And that's energy.

How long have I been at this, like five weeks?
There has been more and more revelation
Made aware now to Americans,
The mortgage-lenders, too,
Who were starting to really kind of rear that head of abuse.
I want to talk about, again, my record on energy
Versus your ticket's energy ticket, also.
I'm not one to attribute every man --
Activity of man to the changes in the climate.
There is something to be said also for man's activities.
The chant is "drill, baby, drill."

You know, I am tolerant.
I'm being as straight up with Americans as I can
In my non-support for anything
But a traditional definition of marriage.

It was the General Petraeus and al Qaeda,
But that it was a central war on terror is in Iraq,
An armed, nuclear armed especially Iran
Is so extremely dangerous to consider.

There's a time, too,
When Americans are going to say,
"Enough is enough with your ticket,"
On constantly looking backwards,
And pointing fingers,
And doing the blame game.
There have been huge blunders in the war.
There have been huge blunders throughout this administration.
Positive change is coming, though,
But change is coming.

Nuclear weaponry, of course,
Would be the be all, end all
Of just too many people in too many parts of our planet.

Say it ain't so, Joe,
There you go again pointing backwards again.
Now doggone it, let's look ahead
And tell Americans what we have
To plan to do for them in the future.

You mentioned education and I'm glad you did.
I know education you are passionate about
With your wife being a teacher for 30 years,
And God bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right?
Education credit in America
Has been in some sense in some of our states
Just accepted to be a little bit lax.

I'm thankful the Constitution would allow
More authority given to the vice president
If that vice president so chose to exert it.
John McCain's maverick position that he's in,
That's really prompt up to and indicated by the supporters,
And we have not got to allow the partisanship.

I like being able to answer these tough questions
Without the filter, even,
Of the mainstream media
Kind of telling viewers what they've just heard.

You betcha.

[All direct quotes from the transcript of the Biden-Palin debate, 2 Oct. 2008]

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Second N.C. Poll Puts Obama in Lead 

It was Republican pollster Rassmussen last week that had Obama leading McCain by two points in N.C.

Today the Democratic polling shop of Public Policy Polling, a home-grown N.C. outfit, has Obama up by the same two points, with the tanking economy leading the way as the number one reason for the turn-around.

"Independents are moving toward Obama in droves," saith PPP. The economy moves them too, of course, but the kind of racist caricaturing of Obama that came to us today in three different e-mails -- Obama as a shoeshine hunched over a triumphantly grinning Sarah Palin's feet -- is not helping John McCain among the independents (who happen to be in large part the youngest members of the electorate and who have managed to get a few steps beyond this kind of gutter racism, unlike their elders).

Palin herself encouraged the racist attacks by referring to Obama as "Sambo" when he beat "that bitch Clinton" in the primaries.

Obama's leading McCain in N.C. polling actually seems to have something to do with Sarah Palin as a negative drag on McCain among Tarheels. The same PPP poll found that Palin's favorability rating went from +8 to -3 in North Carolina in three weeks, a negative shift of 11 points:
She is particularly unpopular with independents in North Carolina. 46% of them now say her selection makes them less likely to vote for John McCain compared to just 36% who say her spot on the ticket makes them more inclined to support him. Even among Republicans enthusiasm for her has dropped from 75% to 67%.

Buyers remorse.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Debate 

We will make an initial concession re: Barack Obama ... he's greatly improved as a debater. He held his own through a flurry of McCain jabs. But he's still too cerebral, too bloodless for our taste, and repeatedly let McCain's soft, unprotected underside go by without sinking teeth. We'd frankly like more killer instinct in our candidate. I counted seven different versions of "John is right" coming out of Obama's mouth.

Meanwhile, McNasty won on points. He dominated the stage. He also revealed, quite incidentally, a "tell" ... he couldn't look Obama in the eye. Couldn't do it. The one time we noticed McCain's eyes locking on Obama's, "the maverick" looked away quickly. Embarrassed? Why?

Obama SHOULD have said, "Look, if you're gonna say this shit about me, you better look me in the eye."

Obama did get better through the evening. He began to counter-punch effectively. Apparently, McCain's relentless attacks came across to many uncommitted voters as snide and condescending, since most of the instant polling we've seen gave the win to Obama. That's not the debate we watched, but who are we to argue with others' perceptions?

The Big Loser: Gov. Sarah Palin. The nit-wit running mate, who cannot form a coherent sentence unless it's written out for her, was nowhere to be seen last night, though Joe Biden was on every talking-head show there was. Palin has become the BubbleBoy of the McCain campaign. Every time she breaks the hermetic seal on her confinement, she reveals a noggin stuffed with insoluble cotton candy, the beauty queen who can't locate the U.S.A. on a world map.

As we almost got a cancellation on the first debate by a grandstanding McCain going to D.C. to save the day, wouldn't surprise us at all if there's a last-minute cancellation of Thursday's face-off between Palin and Biden. The pretext would be inventive, we bet.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

What ARE They Hiding? 

One stonewall after another.

The Bush presidency squared.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Clueless John 

The word is that if John McCain becomes president, Phil Gramm becomes Secretary of the Treasury. Considering that Gramm, when he was a U.S. senator representing Texas, wrote much of the deregulation that has reaped us this current financial whirlwind, that's certainly a rosy scenario to look forward to.

Watching Sen. McCain flounder about for the last two or three days is truly akin to watching a scuttled ship go down. The sinking has taken considerably longer to achieve:

1. November 2005: Sen. McCain told the Wall Street Journal, "I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." His hoped-for "education" is complicated by the tension between his plans to continue many of the economic policies of the unpopular incumbent Republican president he hopes to succeed, and his pledges to improve the American economy and shake up Washington.

2. January 2008: at one of the early Republican debates: Sen. McCain argued that Americans were better off than they were eight years ago.

3. By summer 2008: Sen. McCain had released an advertisement that said "we're worse off than we were four years ago." (What happened to those other four years is a deep mystery, and already we've got the beginnings of a migraine!)

4. July 2008: Sen. McCain's top economic adviser, Phil Gramm, has a public tantrum, says that the United States is only in a "mental recession" and has become "a nation of whiners."

5. Monday morning, this week: Sen. McCain says, as he has many times before, that the fundamentals of the economy are "strong," even as Lehman Bros. was filing for bankruptcy, etc.

6. Monday afternoon: the McCain campaign, realizing that their candidate had just stepped off into very deep water, begins lunging for driftwood, tries to explain away McCain's remarks by saying he was referring to the American people as fundamentally strong.

7. By Tuesday a.m.: Sen. McCain appears on all the network & cable morning shows, treading water furiously. He begins calling the current economic situation "a total crisis," denounces "greed" on Wall Street and in Washington, and calls for a commission to study the problems. (Sorry: When Republicans want to study something, it means they intend to DO nothing. Our migraine is now blinding.)

8. By Tuesday p.m.: the McCain campaign has produced a new advertisement asserting that his experience and leadership were necessary in a "time of crisis." Part of the rationale for that claim is supposedly McCain's chairmanship (years ago) of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications as well as aviation and trade but NOT banking, financial markets, housing, or insurance -- the prime sources of the current crisis.

9. Also Tuesday p.m.: in the increasingly frantic attempt to make McCain seem less clueless, one of his financial advisers loudly proclaims to reporters that McCain was responsible for the development of the Blackberry.

10. By Tuesday night: the McCain senior staff disavows the Blackberry claim -- "obviously a boneheaded joke."

Please, God, make it stop.

Top McCain-Palin official Carly Fiorina said yesterday that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin is capable of running an American company. Today, McCain campaign officials say we won't be seeing Carly Fiorina on TV any more for awhile.

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Monday, September 15, 2008


The Big Lesson of the Bush years: the bigger you are, the faster you circle the drain.

John "I know a lot less about economics" McCain has a plan for plugging the drain? How about Sarah "In what respect, Charlie?" Palin?

But, then, neither does Obama. Nobody has a plan (though we suspect a whole bunch of guys and gals with eye shades are getting headaches over it about now).

The question that we would direct in John McCain's general direction: Why would we want the economics philosophy that has dug this gapping hole back in charge of everything for another four years?

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Alaska Is, uh, Divided on Palin 

Get a load of the crowds at the "Alaska Women Reject Palin" rally in Anchorage this morning. This pic and many more are posted at Mudflats, along with a wide-eyed account of the rally, which is apparently unprecedented in Alaska. According to the Mudflats blogger, if you get 25 people out for something, you're considered a big success.

Then take a look at the pics of the competing Welcome Home Sarah Palin rally.

Whatever else these images have to say about Sarah Palin, they certainly affirm that not everyone in Alaska is thrilled with her sudden elevation to the presidency.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Palin Might Cost McCain Florida 

Ed Koch, the Jewish ex-mayor of New York City, has endorsed Obama, primarily because Sarah Palin "scares the hell out of me." Considering Koch, that's a lotta hell to scare!

Palin's out-of-the-mainstream religion has something to do with the fright, and the fact that she sat in her church in Alaska and listened to David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus, who described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" on Jews who haven't embraced Christianity. For the record, Sarah Palin didn't get up and walk out of the church when Brickner said those things, nor did she later disavow them.

There's a certain whiff of coercion and subterfuge in Mr. Brickner's campaign to convert the Jews ... that ought to alarm the Jews. Tolerant Christians too. Not to mention that moral equivalency Brickner wants to establish between terrorist attacks and failing to pray to Jesus.

Palin may be winning McCain the rural parts of America, but she's potentially losing him Florida.

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The Rancid Truth 

The McCain campaign is launching the "The Palin Truth Squad," which, considering the source, we assume is meant to counter criticisms of Palin rather than tell the truth about Palin's distortions of her record. But never mind. Look at who's number nine of this dubious list:
• Former Governor Jane Swift (R-MA)
• Governor Linda Lingle (R-HI)
• Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, (R-AK)
• Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
• Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
• Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
• Congresswoman Thelma Drake (R-VA)
• Congresswoman Mary Fallin (R-OK)
• Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
• Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX)
• Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
• Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI)
• Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-FL)
• Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
• Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-NM)
• Jo Ann Davidson, RNC Co-Chair
• Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer
• Meg Stapleton, Former Aide To Governor Palin
• Kristan Cole, Lifelong Friend Of Governor Palin

Virginia Foxx ... on a TRUTH SQUAD???


Virginia I'm-a-Catholic-in-Washington-but-a-Baptist-in-North-Carolina Foxx? The Madam Foxx, who took money and ran in 1994 for the N.C. Senate as a pro-choice woman who supported the right of gay couples to adopt and who is now marching in the Republican robot army as an extreme hard-liner on abortion and gays? The woman whose dishonest antics on the local scene are the stuff of legend?

Yes, THAT Virginia Foxx.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Some Alaskan Homes Are Like the Holiday Inn 

In Alaska, where the same party has been in power for, like, eons, you apparently expect a little corruption from your public officials, but even in Alaska this is bound to raise a few eyebrows.
Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a "per diem" allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

Apparently, it's kind of an accepted practice among Alaskan politicians, but still ... paying yourself to live at home?

Plus Palin charged a great deal of travel to the state for her kids and husband:
...during the [previous governor] Murkowski years, that practice was questioned, and the state attorney general's office produced an opinion saying laws then in effect required reimbursement for spousal travel.

Who was it who caused a mini-uproar among N.C. Republicans for traveling on the state's dime to Europe? Oh yeah, Mary Easley. Republicans called it corruption. Unjustified, it certainly was. Unjustified, unwise, and frankly, imperial.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Charlie Gibson ... "Self-Gelded" 

About the hopes that ABC News's Charles Gibson might actually ask Sarah Palin some substantive questions ... Josh Marshall says don't get your hopes up. Gibson has already "gelded" himself to get the interview.

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Republicans Hate Celebrities 

...except when they have one on their presidential ticket. Sarah Palin meets the requirement for being a celebrity: she's famous for being famous.

But Palin has evidently encountered diminishing returns from her snubbing of the press -- Mike Allen of Politico says "McCain officials could see her reticence was feeding the narrative of her being unprepared for the job" -- so she's agreed to an interview with ABC News's Charles Gibson "later this week."

We assume Palin's handlers picked Gibson cause he's a creampuff. We'll see.

We have a few additional questions we'd like to ask her, in addition to the ones already raised here in previous posts down-column.

1. One of her "qualifications" that the McCain people are trumpeting is Palin's supposed energy expertise. But when the disgraced former Alaska governor Frank Murkowski appointed her to the Oil and Gas Commission in 2003, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner criticized her qualifications (like, "non-existent") and called the appointment a "political reward" (editorial, 20 Feb. 2003).

2. Palin was repeatedly criticized by the Wasilla newspaper, the Frontiersman, for political cronyism ... firing fully competent city employees and replacing them with her own operatives. "We see a woman who has long-since surrendered her ideals to a political machine," wrote the Frontiersman on 2 July 1997.

3. She lied. "Mayor Palin fails to have a firm grasp of something very simple: the truth." (Frontiersman editorial)

4. Palin used taxpayer resources for her unsuccessful 2002 race for Alaska Lt. Gov. Palin used city employees, telephones, computers, and fax machines for campaign fundraising and production of campaign literature. On her candidate registration form, she used her city hall fax number and mayoral e-mail address. Records show that Wasilla city property was used to contact supporters, donors, and media contacts and to purchase advertising (Anchorage Daily News 21 July 2006).

5. Palin can't handle criticism. "Wasilla is led by a woman who will tolerate no one who questions her actions or her authority" (Frontiersman, 7 March 1997). She fired the police chief, the museum director, and the librarian (later rehired after swearing fealty), and forced the planning director and public works supervisor to resign. After she fired the police chief, one finalist to replace him withdrew his application because he said "it looked more like a political appointment than a law enforcement decision" (Frontiersman, 19 March 1997).

Sources: The Book on Sarah Palin

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Palin: Libertarian on Everything But Women's Rights 

If John McCain is elected president on November 4, Sarah Palin could become president in precisely four and a half months. When's the last time you remember a presumptive president being kept in seclusion because any question about her record, her preparation, her competence is considered "sexist"? Because the news media is not allowed to question her, it falls to ordinary citizens.

While advocating the power of the State to force women to give birth, Palin is very supportive of the consumption of alcohol. While mayor of Wasilla in 1996, Palin opposed a city ordinance that would have required bars and liquor stores to close at 2:30 a.m. on weekdays (3:00 a.m. on weekends) and stay closed until 8:00 a.m. At that time – and still? – Alaska state law allowed bars and liquor stores to stay open until 5:00 a.m. (Wasilla Frontiersman, 28 Aug. 1996).

(She took her stand on open bars shortly before receiving campaign contributions from local bar owners: "Within two weeks of her vote, the Mug-Shot contributed $200 and Wasilla Bar $500 to Palin's campaign for mayor" – Wasilla Frontiersman, 13 Dec. 1996.)

In 2001, when a law was introduced in the Alaska state legislature to limit the open hours of bars and liquor stores, Palin signed a resolution opposing it (Wasilla City Council resolution 01-07, 26 Feb. 2001).

Because the chief of police in Wasilla supported restricting bar hours as a way to combat alcohol-related traffic accidents, and because he opposed Palin's administrative policy allowing citizens to carry firearms in city hall and the library, the chief of police supported Palin's opponent in her reelection campaign for mayor of Wasilla. After Palin won, she fired the police chief. She eventually hired as his replacement a new chief who boasted that he had no interest in limiting bar hours, because "I don't think the answer to crime is restricting people's freedom more and more" (Anchorage Daily News, 28 March 1997; Frontiersman, 4 July 1997).

And by the way: Palin admitted in 2006 in she had smoked pot: "Palin said she has smoked marijuana – remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law – but says she didn't like it and doesn't smoke it now. 'I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled' " (Anchorage Daily News, 6 Aug. 2006).

Sources: The Book on Sarah Palin

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Palin Used Public Money To Fund Anti-Abortion Group 

The McCain campaign is so sure of its judgment in picking Sarah Palin for veep that they're keeping her away from the press until she feels "comfortable." So it falls to individual citizens to go digging.

While mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin approved giving $2,354 of the city’s money appropriated through the Alaska Revenue Sharing fund to the Valley Crisis Pregnancy Center, a militant anti-abortion "counseling service" (Ordinance 97-23, 14 April 1997). While Palin was on the board of Valley Hospital, another more substantial grant was given to the same anti-abortion group (Anchorage Daily News, 28 Dec. 1999).

Palin is on the record multiple times opposing the rights of women to abortion. She has consistently defined herself as a hard-line social conservative who opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest. In 2006 she said she supported an amendment to the Alaska Constitution denying any right to an abortion (Alaska Family Council Voter Guide, 22 Aug. 2006). She sent an e-mail to the Alaska Right to Life Board saying she was "as pro-life as any candidate can be" (Anchorage Daily News, 6 Aug. 2006).

The Anchorage Daily News described Palin's stance as "extreme" (Editorial, 24 Aug. 2006).

Sources: The Book on Sarah Palin

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Friday, September 05, 2008

The Book on Sarah Palin here. Over 60 pages of heavily researched, thoroughly footnoted vetting carried out in 2006 by the Alaska Democratic Party.

It's too late for me today to begin delving into this exhaustive material, but tomorrow ... tomorrow.

For this -- and for so much else! -- our great thanks to the Alaskan blogger at Mudflats. (For example, Mudflats has new posts about the Palin book-banning gambit at Wasilla Public Library and her apparent plan to go into seclusion back in her home state until September 11th.)

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Some New Vocabulary 

palin, adj., disappointing; used for emotional lows following unusual states of euphoria

vet, vb., 1. to ignore; to overlook negative reality in search of euphoria; 2. to scrub clean following revelations; 3. to chase a horse once it's left the barn

mccainment, noun, an emotional blockade based on claims of superior patriotism; a preemptive disablement of criticism; also, erratic behavior

situational morals, noun, adjustments made to belief systems based on political necessity (see: Republican Party)

uppity, adj., daring to come in the front door if the back door is locked

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Stonewall Palin 

The gutsy Anchorage Daily News says Sarah Palin is stonewalling the investigation into the firing of Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan and calls on her to come clean.

"It's time for the subpoenas," the editors write.


People have been asking me why I haven't written anything about McCain's speech last night. Well, I thought for once I would be polite, turn away in silence from the gawdawfulest speech I've seen in some time. It was positively painful to sit through. I was embarrassed for the poor man.

Now I've said something.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Palin Delivered the Down Payment, But How About the Principal? 

She did a great job. She hauled a great big ole slab of red moose meat into the Xcel Center in St. Paul and threw it out for the hungry wolves. She solidified the base of the Republican Party.

'Course, solidifying the base early in September kinda highlights the problem McCain has, doesn't it? Forget the swing voters! Let's go get all those anti-choice, anti-environment, anti-gay culture warriors on board. To hell with everyone else.

But the questions about Palin remain. Eventually, maybe, her McCain palace guard will allow her in front of the press.

1. What exactly is her opinion about the Iraq War. One minute she says it's a "task from God" and the next (after her own son gets called up?) it's apparently a "war over energy sources" (i.e., oil?). In March she was far off the McCain reservation: "I want to know that we have an exit plan in place."

2. When is she going to come clean about her actual record on pork-barrel spending? She SUPPORTED the "bridge to nowhere" during her 2006 campaign for governor (here). She didn't decide to oppose the bridge until AFTER Congress killed the earmark and it became a national embarrassment. As mayor of Wasilla, she hired a private lobbyist, sought, and eventually received $27 million in earmarks from the federal government.

3. She denies man-made global warming, and as governor she is suing the federal government to lift the protected species status of polar bears. In 2007 she illegally established a $150 bounty per animal on "fly-by wolf hunting," which was soon overturned by a state court.

4. Speaking to the Wasilla Assembly of God church in June, Palin said it was clearly "God's will" that a $30 billion national gas pipeline project be built.

5. She believes in teaching creationism in public schools.

6. She opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, slashed state funding to help teenage mothers, and advocates abstinence-only sex-education programs. In other words, she has the gall to declare that her own daughter's "choice" to have a baby is nobody's business but wants us to elect her so that she can empower the federal government to remove most such choices from other women.

7. Palin cheered on the Alaska Independence Party, which advocates for secession of the state from the federal union.

That's just a bare START on some issues and areas of concern that deserve a few questions, followed by a few answers.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin Used Eminent Domain to Seize Private Property 

How much is the hard right willing to swallow to stay in love with The Palin?

As mayor of Wasilla, she used eminent domain powers to seize land for the city's sports complex, and that seizure is now costing local taxpayers over $1 million in a judgment against it ... not counting what was initially paid and all the legal costs. The total cost is expected to go over $2 million.

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A Junior-League Dictator 

We learn the following about Sarah Palin as a city official of Wasilla, Alaska:
1. Sarah Palin first ran for mayor in 1996 as a 32-year-old. Though town council races are officially non-partisan, Palin brought Republican wedge politics to the race, particularly anti-abortion flyers and claims about her own (superior) Christianity against an incumbent mayor who had been raised a Lutheran but who was also not "a church-going guy." The local Republican Party ran ads for Palin, and she won.

2. She was very pro-development as mayor, bringing in big box stores, a $15 million sports complex (paid for with taxpayer money), and the small town of 5,000 grew rapidly.

3. Her first months in office as mayor were "so jarring — and so alienating — that an effort was made to force a recall." About 100 people attended a meeting to discuss organizing a recall vote, but the idea was later dropped.

4. At first she was hot to censor and even ban some books from the city library. She approached the librarian. The librarian resisted. Mayor Palin backed off the censorship idea but fired the librarian. An uproar over the firing caused Palin to reinstate the librarian (who soon left the area).

5. Palin forced the resignations of town employees who had publicly backed the former mayor -- "something virtually unheard of in Wasilla in past elections. The public works director, city planner, museum director and others were forced out. The police chief, Irl Stambaugh, was later fired outright."

6. Palin issued "a surprise edict: No employee was to talk to the news media without her permission."

7. In her second term as mayor, she pushed through a half-cent raise in the local sales tax to pay for the $15 million sports complex.

8. Palin had campaigned promising to cut her own full-time salary. She did reduce it from about $68,000 to about $64,000, but she also hired a city administrator, adding his salary to the payroll. Result: a net increase in city salaries.

9. When Palin completed her second and final term in 2002, her stepmother-in-law, Faye Palin, ran to succeed her. Faye Palin supported abortion rights and was registered as unaffiliated, not Republican. So Palin threw her weight behind another woman in the race, a religious conservative, who won.

Fiscal Conservative?

A Wasilla resident who has known Palin since 1992 has written up her assessment of the mayor (full, long text here). A brief excerpt:
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.

Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative." During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though. Borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million....

Earlier this year in her capacity as governor of Alaska, Palin used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.



Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Big Tentism 

Ex-presidential candidate Ron Paul won't be allowed to address the Republican National Convention, and Paul himself says that John McCain apparently wants to keep him off the convention floor.

However, The Palin said earlier this year that she found Paul way cool. But that's nothing: as recently as a month ago, The Palin was also agreeing with the Obama energy plan. (HT: LO)

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'The First Dude' of Alaska 

Another Alaska blog -- this one by a former state legislator -- with a good deal of info about Todd Palin's influence on state government.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Northern Exposure 

Just as we were learning to type "abstinence-only programs obviously really work," and before we could even begin to look into the obvious comforts of blaming God for global-warming, The Palin lawyers up. Yikes! Too many new developments in too short a time.

We can't even begin to keep up any more with which version of reality we're supposed to believe. And what does the verb "to vet" actually mean?

One thing, though, is (fer shore!) proven beyond any shadow of a doubt: John McCain is one hell of a decision-maker.

Meanwhile, the readership of the only blog north of 60 degrees of latitude, "Mudflats," has just jumped 1,000 percent, cause this blogger knows a whole lot about The Palin. As only a fellow Alaskan could.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Morning Spoor 

Several readers have sent me the link to Mudflats, an Alaska blog written by an East coast native who's lived and worked in Alaska since 1991. This blogger offers more insider specifics on the curious case of the rise of Sarah Palin. First up: Palin's Big Lie that she opposed "the bridge to nowhere" earmark. T'ain't true. "Total fabrication," says Mudflats, who proceeds to offer the irrefutable evidence.

The giggling over Palin among the Sunday Morning Gasbags was under tight control, though the only talking head worth listening to, Republican operative Mike Murphy, who ran John McCain's campaign back in 2000, delivered the only opinion worth the combined hot air: Sarah Palin can make the religious right giddier than the prospect of themo-noookalar war with Russia, but if all she does is solidify McCain's base, she's done NOTHING toward winning this election.

The big giggle moment of the morning came when Cindy McCain said Sarah Palin had foreign policy cred on the basis of Alaska's being so close to both Russia and Canada, two of our most despicable socialist enemies, after Obama, of course. By this reasoning I consider myself an expert on oil and gas, since I grew up adjacent to the oil patch in Texas. Hell, all my uncles were roughnecks on oil rigs, so maybe I ought to be Secretary of Energy! George Stephanopoulos, bless his heart, kept a straight face throughout Cindy McCain's rap.

Under the topic heading ... The Things a Whore Has To Say and Do: A couple of weeks ago Karl Rove belittled Tim Kaine as a possible Democratic Veep pick on Face the Nation:
With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he's been a governor for three years, he's been able but undistinguished. I don't think people could really name a big, important thing that he's done.

He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America. And again, with all due respect to Richmond, Virginia, it's smaller than Chula Vista, California; Aurora, Colorado; Mesa or Gilbert, Arizona; north Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. It's not a big town.

Oops. It takes a whore to swallow the big ones. Friday on Fox News -- and exhibiting absolutely no involuntary gag reflex -- Rove bragged about Sarah Palin:
She's a former mayor. She's the mayor of, I think, the second largest city in Alaska before she ran for governor.

For the record, Wasilla, Alaska, was not even the 10th largest city in Alaska. It's smaller than Chula Vista, Aurora, Mesa, Gilbert, North Las Vegas, and Henderson.

With all due respect.

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