On behalf of a potentially grateful nation, please shut up already

Candidate #1:  Sarah Palin. When she burst on the national scene, she seemed to be a bit ditzy, horribly uninformed, and downright unqualified for even being the mayor of the meth capital of Alaska, let alone anything else. All right, I thought, perhaps this is a bit harsh. We don’t really know much about her; first impressions can be misleading. Continue reading

Further Proof That Sarah Palin Is A Bimbo

OK, first off, “bimbo” doesn’t have to be a sexist term. There are male bimbos as well as female bimbo. Bimbodom knows no gender (at least in this context). When Sarah Palin firm burst onto the national scene (you know, the day before she was nominated to be the Republican candidate for Vice President), the right-wing bloviators immediately piled onto the allegedly “liberal media” (that would be what? The Washington Post and The New York Times?) for supposedly piling on to poor Sarah. I mean, really, the nerve of journalists to actually try to report on someone that no one knows anything about, who’s running for the second highest office in the land. Continue reading

It Really Is A Great Country

As I write this, they’re dancing in Grant Park in Chicago. Barack Obama has just been declared the winner of the Presidential election. But the real winner is the United States of America. Looking at the faces in the crowd, you see the face of America, every conceivable range of ages, races, ethnicities, orientations, styles of dress — you name it. The other thing you see if joy; pure, unrelieved joy. Cheers and smiles and dancing in the park, the same park where in 1968, it was mostly young students being beaten senseless by mostly-white policemen. Times have changed in deed. And, I am reminded, this is in marked contrast to the television screens filled with undisguised hatred that we saw at the Republican convention. I’m sure you will not be hearing Democrats saying that all Republicans should leave the country, as we frequently have heard from some (though certainly not all) Republicans.

Hope is a strange thing, fragile like the peace in Iraq; easily destroyed. Still, it’s a welcome feeling among the uncertainty of our times. Perhaps it really is possible to remain optimistic in the face of enormous problems. This will be one of the challenges facing President Obama. And I hope that the old John McCain finds his way back:  the decent, thoughtful man who isn’t afraid to stand up for noble causes. We are, after all, going to need all the good minds, and John McCain has been among those before, and I hope will be in the future.

During this campaign, the country seems to have turned many corners. The idea of a woman, or a person of color running for President will never be an issue again (though some of the Muslim faith probably still has a problem). The use of personal smears and invoking God to get elected is probably (hopefully) dead and buried.

But right now, let’s take a moment to enjoy the great fortune of the country and remember the words of John Adams:  united we stand. And tomorrow we can start working on the problems. I’m usually the cynic, but tonight, hey — ain’t it great to be an American?

Spreading the Bullshit

In the last desperate gasp as the wave prepares to sweep over his campaign, John McCain has been running around the so-called battleground states claiming, “Barack Obama wants to spread the wealth; I want to create wealth.”

Has anyone else noticed that word wealth in there. Yeah, the operative term is spread the wealth. This is a concept quite different from “taking your money and giving it to someone else (meaning, you know, people who are worse off than you). That is, unless you happen to be Bill Gates or Mike Bloomberg or Ted Kennedy or, um…. Barack and Michelle Obama. Yep, Barack is proposing to tax himself and spread some of his wealth around. He realizes that part of the reason that his family has done so well is the support, infrastructure, etc. provided by tax dollars. He thinks that now that he’s doing so well, it wouldn’t hurt him to pay just a teeny bit more in taxes.

McCain, of course, is espousing policies to create wealth, though mostly for those who have, say, seven houses, and perhaps those who are already making multi-million dollar salaries. I don’t know about you, but if my income should suddenly jump over $250,000 (unlikely), I’ll gladly pay that extra 2% or 3% of the amount over $250,000.

And all this bullshit — and that’s what it is — about “raising taxes taking away the incentive to make money” is just that. True, there are some economic idiots who think that way. But what rational person would say, “Gee, if I expand my business and my income goes up another $100,000 this year, I’ll only get to keep $78,000, instead of the $81,000 I would keep now. No thanks — please don’t let me have that $78,000, because I don’t want to pay  few more bucks in taxes.” Similarly, capital gains taxes are taxes on profits. You only pay them when you make money — lots of it. You still keep most of it. You’re way ahead.

Barack Obama may want to spread some of the wealth around. McCain, proving his knowledge of economics is pretty weak, just keeps spreading the bullshit instead. This time, at least, it seems not to be working.

Less than a week until we’re rid of Tucker Bounds

I think I’m in love Campbell Brown (of CNN). She’s the only journalist who has had the balls (on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) to actually state that having Tucker Bounds on a show is virtually useless, and good riddins’ to him (I’m paraphrasing here). You may know that it was one such appearance by the ubitquitous Bounds that prompted the McCain campaign to cancel an appearance with Larry King on CNN. Evidently, Brown was a little too “hard” on poor little Tucker. (Or maybe McCain was afriad of the “hard-hitting” questions that King might lob at him. Everyone’s getting a bit fesity in the face of the incredibe amount of bullshit the McCain-Palin campaign and their surrougates have been dispensing in the final days of the campaign).

Continue reading

Links for the “Undecided” voters

If you’re still undecided, my first question is “Really?” Have you not been paying attention for the past 2 years? You can’t make up your mind between two candidates (leaving aside the ones who no chance of actually winning the election) who are about as different as can be in terms of policy, political philosophy, temperament, and most issues? OK, maybe there are a few left. Here are a few things you ought to read or hear before you go vote.

Colin Powell Announces He’s Voting For Obama
Powell remains one of the most respected of Americans. Watch his appearance with Tom Brokaw on Meet The Press and listen to what he says, in his own words, about how he came to the decision he did.

New Yorker Editors Make A Choice
The Editors of The New Yorker recently published their Choice for President. As is typical with The New Yorker, it’s a long, thoughful (and thought-provoking) piece that reviews the pros and cons of both candidates and provides actual facts in support of their conclusions.

Who’s Better For The Economy?
Does the economy do better under Democrats or Republicans? Which party seems to foster better growth? The New York Times has an interactive chart that graphically (pardon the pun) tells the story. You might be surprised (or perhaps not, depending on how much you’ve been following economic reporting). As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own set of facts.”

Who You Callin’ A Maverick?
A descendent of the original Maverick, Samuel Augustus, begs to differ with John McCain and Sarah Palin. Read about the Texas Mavericks (one of whom coined the term “gobbledygook”), who have long been leftists. And find out why the term doesn’t apply to current Republican team.

McCain, the Passive-Aggressive

Finally, we had a flash of the old John McCain. You know the clip — the supporter saying he was “afraid of a Barack Obama Presidency.” Not surprising, considering that McCain and his Caribou Barbie attack bimbo had just spend several days spreading bullshit about “palling around with terrorists” (wink, wink, we’re sure you’ll know what we really mean) and having surrogates mention Obama’s middle name (wink, wink, you know — the same as that guy that attacked us on 9/11; never mind that guy Hussein had nothing to do with attacking us, and they know it) and “what do really know about him (wink, wink, he’s probably a secret Muslim and a “Manchurian Candidate” who will turn against America and where was he really born; never mind that thousands of articles have been written about Obama and he’s done hundreds of television and radio interviews and oh, by the way, he was born in KANSAS for God’s sake. And, for that matter, if you actually watch the movie, you’d know that the Machnurian Candidate was capture, tortured and brainwashed in ASIA — sound like anyone in this race?).

McCain, to his credit (at long last) was forced to defend his opponent, saying without hesitation that  no one had anything to fear from an Obama presidency (good for Obama; bad for McCain). And one one supporter said she was afraid of Obama because “he’s an Arab,” McCain shook his head, took the mic away, and replied, “No. No. He is not.” (McCain might have taken the moment to explain that all Muslims are not Arabs — most of the Muslims in the world are not Arab — and that all Arabs are not Muslim, either. But then McCain seems to have that persistent problem of confusing Sunni and Shia, so it’s understandable he didn’t pick up on the opportunity).

The McCain compaign has been complaining about the tactis of the Obama campaign as a way to justify their own behavior. (Of course, the Obama folks have trotted out the same tit-for-tat excuse, and they should likewise be ashamed, though their “attacks” have been tame in comparison and are at least more fact-based:  McCain really did pal around with Charles Keating, and he was not “exonerated” as he claims, though he has apologized in the past for his behavior).

The difference is, of course, that you have not been hearing people at Obama rallies screaming “Kill McCain” or “Bomb Palin.” You don’t hear people saying “I couldn’t vote for McCain because he’s a  terrorist” or “I think Sarah Palin is a religious whacko” (even though the latter is arguably true). McCain now claims to be offended at the criticism. I like to believe it’s the inherent decency that is — or at least used to be — evident in McCain coming out. But it’s awfully hard to accept that when he and his Rove-inspired minions are the ones who created the climate in the first place.

Desperation sure ain’t pretty!

Not Your Father’s Presidential Vote

Perhaps the sky, along with the stock market, has fallen. The son of William F. Buckley (“Mr. Conserative” himself) is voting for Barack Obama for President. Chris Buckley is one of those conversatives I like and respect. One who’s not “angry at ayone” (to cop Mike Huckabee’s phrase). I’ve read a number of his books and he can be wickedly funny.

Read his announcement for yourself by clicking this link

One of the things I always admired about William F. Buckley was his intellect — something that seems out-of-favor among Republicans these days. His positions were always arrived at through logic. I seldom agreed with his conculsions, but I could admire the way he arrived at them. Buckely always liked a fight, but a fair fight. He loved the give-and-take of ideas, even those diametrically opposed to his own. And you could win him over with a persuasive argument bolstered by actual facts.  Buckley’s writing would send you running for the dictionary. This, I think, was a good thing.

A Toothless Old Radical

So Caribou Barbie seems to have become emboldened as a result of her shuckin’ and jivin’ her way through her one debate. Not emboldened enough to go up against Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press, of course, but bold enough to hit the campaign trail spouting the kind of garbage that was hurled against John McCain by the Bush-Rove cabal in 2000. (And continued shame on McCain, who has decided that decency — not to mention country — be damned, as long as he can maybe become President).

The lastest barrage takes off from a “swift boat style” commercial, financed by Harold Simmons, the same piece of garbage that helped finance the original in 2004 against John Kerry. Quoting the NY Times (I guess we now know one of the newspapers Palin reads), Palin said that Barack Obama “pals around with terrorists.” Never mind that The Times article pointed out that there is no real “palling around” going on, and even quoted a former Harvard classmate (who is actually a McCain supporter) that, if anything, Obama was considered far too moderate by his classmates. If the guy is a bomb-thowing radical, he’s sure been doing a great job of hiding it.

Now, Bill Ayres and his wife Bernadine Dohrn were members of the Weather Underground in the late 60s. The Weather Underground did set several bombs, were implicated in a number of bank robberies, and were responsible for several deaths. (The townhouse that blew up on 11th Street in Greenwich Village — killing a few of its occupants — was a Weather Underground “bomb factory.”)

It’s not clear which acts Ayres did or did not take part in, and he has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t regret his actions of the time. But he has denounced any violence that harms people in his memoir of the era and in numerous interviews, saying that destruction of human life is never justified for any cause. The Weather Underground’s aim was to destroy property, and they at least tried to be sure that no one was in the buildings they attacked (though this was not always successful). This is not, by the way, meant as an excuse, merely a statement of explanation. And you do have to remember that this was in the context of an illegal and “secret” war in Cambodia, the bombing of civilian targets in North Viet Nam (something John McCain is more familiar with than most, both from above and below), illegal domestic spying, suppression of rights, etc. For all the upheavals of the current period in our history, it’s hard to remember that things were actually worse at that time. Not everyone reacted rationally.

 After years underground, Ayres and Dohrn turned themselves in. Charges against Ayres were dismissed due to government misconduct (illegal searches and wiretapping, etc. — sound familiar?). Both he and Dohrn are now college professors (he at University of Illinois At Chicago; she at Northwestern). Ayres has also authored numerous books on education, and is considered by many — though certainly not all — in and around Chicago an educational reformer and a respected member of society.

Now, as Barack Obama pointed out, he was 8 years old during the days of the Weather Underground. Some might say that, since Ayres never “served his debt to society,” he’s unfit for “pal” status even now. But remember that Ayres turned himself in, and was prepared to face the consequences. It was the screwups of the government that prevented the case from going forward. This attitude also suggests that people don’t change over time. It’s been 40 years since the days of the Weather Underground, and Ayres seems a far different person than he was then. One would think that someone so steeped in religion, Sarah Palin would be willing to forgive someone for his past sins. Perhaps that only applies to witches in her church.

All of this would be more relevant if there actually were something more than a short-term tenuous relationship between Obama and Ayres. Perhaps Palind doesn’t read The Times at all, but merely skims the front page. Or maybe it’s just more of Karl Rove, pulling the same old crap. The question is:  will it work again? If it does, then we, as a country, deserve the screwing we’ll get.

Yakkety Yak

OK, so Caribou Barbie didn’t fall flat on her face. I have to admit after seeing her “performance” (and that’s really the right word for it), that I dislike her a little less. Only a little, though. She didn’t come off like a blithering idiot, as she did with both Charles (“Charlie, Charlie, Charlie”) Gibson and Katy Couric. (A little aside:  who would have thought Katy Couric would become a pit bull with lipstick herself. She may not be a good anchor, but she seems to be demonstrating that she does have a decent place in broadcast journalism).

I was kind of endearing (I will admit) that Palin asked Joe Biden before the debate started if she could call him Joe. But after a while all those “aw shucks” and “Joe Sixpacks” started to really grate on me. All the pundits are saying, “she had to do what she did:  show that she could hold her own in the debate.” Excuse me????? Hold her own. I think not. “Holding your own” in a debate means being able to thrust and your opponent and parry when he strikes you. What she actually did was mostly duck the questions, even going so far as to admit she was not going to answer the question. This isn’t “holding your own;” this is “cutting and running” (to use one of the Republicans’ now-seemingly-retired phrases). The talking Palin doll has increased her repository of talking-point phrases, but that was about all. While Joe Biden reeled off facts and figures, Palin talking in hick generalities punctuated with cliches right and left. Like her running mate, she kept repeating the same tag lines over and over, regardless of whether they were true, or had any relevance to the question at hand. Am I the only one who noticed that she was frequently reading the talking points off her notecards?

On the surface, she seemed self-assured and reasonably informed. But did you listen to her talk? Much like Dubya’s famous mangling of the English language, Palin’s mouth frequently got ahead of whatever it is that passes for a brain in there. Yes, there were nouns and verbs and conjunctions and the occasional adverb. But a great many of her sentences just made absolutely no sense. They sounded like they were English, but they were really just a series of partial bullet points strung together in random order, sort of like the “Military Intelligence” game where you randomly pick works from three different columns to construct a seamingly meaningful but ultimate nonsensicle phrase.

When, oh when, did education, verbal ability and mental agility become negative qualities? John Kennedy famously searched out the “best and the brightest.” We seem now to have entered an era where lack of intellectual curiosity and lack of education are deemed good qualities. Perhaps this is another indication of how low the bar is being set. But then what would one expect after 8 years of George Bush?