Friday, October 31, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Democracy and Love the Bomb

Ted Rall is an idiot. Honestly, I’ve never liked the guy and always felt he was a bad smear on liberals. Had Ted Rall not existed, Karl Rove would have invented him. He’s the conservative answer to Maggie Gallagher, and I say that as someone who has had the misfortune of exchanging a few emails with Gallagher. In short, I don’t like Ted Rall.

And while I’d never seek him out, I happened to see a headline in Yahoo for one of his columns titled: THE FIRST RULE OF REELECTION IS DON'T THINK ABOUT REELECTION. And I found that quite intriguing, as that sounded like a pretty stupid rule. And sure enough, after having read his column, I see that it was. And if anything, Rall got the rule backwards.

Apparently, it breaks down to this: Because most modern presidents have worse second terms than first terms, they should all act as if their first term was their second term, and everything should go smoothly. But...if it’s the second term that’s the problem, shouldn’t they do the exact opposite? Because if there is a second term curse, it has to do with hubris and the feeling by presidents that they no longer have to follow the polls or obey the wishes of the people, because they’re not up for re-election anymore.

It's the Term-Limit, Stupid

Because if anything, it's term-limits that are the problem, as they detach the President from democracy. After all, the point of democracy isn't that it's the best way to pick leaders (as it clearly isn't). The point is to give citizens ownership of their system, so that they feel that they have control over their leaders and their fate. But of course, a term-limit gets rid of that completely. Once a president wins re-election, then he's essentially a four-year dictator. And so again, the problem isn't with re-elections, but rather the lack of re-election that screws everything up.

And so Rall’s advice for Obama is to do just that: Stop worrying what voters want him to do and start doing what Rall wants him to do. I’m serious. He even goes as far as suggesting that Carter was a great president because he was "thinking past the horizon," and that Reagan got credit for many of Carter's best ideas because they took awhile to hatch. And yeah, couldn't it be argued that this trait of Carter's gave us four years of Reagan, instead of, say, four more years of Carter? Wow, what a brilliant strategy.

And perhaps Obama can take Rall's advice so that Mitt Romney will someday receive the credit for all the hard work Obama did before 2012. Simply brilliant!

Second-Term Curse

But of course, I find his argument for a second-term curse to be a bit weak. Reagan didn't become senile because it was his second term. He became senile because he was an old man and that's what happens to some people when they get older. And he cites Watergate for Nixon, but of course, the Watergate break-in occurred during Nixon's first term, it was only during his second term that he got caught and he had a long pattern of behavior on this sort of thing. Similarly, Clinton began his affair with Monica Lewinsky during his first term and it was over a few months into his second.

Overall, reading Rall's list of the "Second Term Curse" is like reading the threats at the end of a chain letter. Even if this stuff is true, it has more to do with coincidence than fate; and most of it is outright sham. He even mentions Truman and Johnson being hurt by their respective quagmire wars, even though these were continuing policies from their first terms that kept getting worse. And in Johnson's case, history tells me that he didn't seek re-election; though perhaps Rall's history differs. So in essence, these guys were hurt because of unpopular decisions in their first terms that became even less popular as time went by.

And no, Bush Sr didn't turn up in his column at all. Somehow, that one term president got ignored. But perhaps that was really Bush's second term and Rall forgot to tell anyone about it. Nor does Rall ever mention that Clinton was more popular in his second-term than his first. Any fact that doesn't fit into Rall's stupid rule gets chucked; and that's a lot of facts.

Term-Limit Doom

And then there's his lengthy mention of Bush's disastrous second-term, which only disproves his point. Bush's second term was so horrible because he didn't need to worry about re-election and could finally start doing the business he wanted to. Somehow, Rall's history suggests that Bush's plan to privatize Social Security was "abandoned and forgotten" due to Katrina and problems in Iraq. But my history tells me privatization was doomed because it was extremely unpopular, so much so that he wouldn't even talk about it until he secured re-election.

Same for some other unpopular decisions that hurt him with conservatives, like the Harriet Miers nomination and the Dubai port brouhaha. And these issues were abandoned due to all the Republican Congressmen who were still up for re-election. It wasn't some mystical curse that doomed Bush. It was an unpopular agenda that was only stopped because Congress doesn't have term-limits. The people spoke, and it was good.

And again, this only makes sense. Because democracy isn't the best way to pick leaders, or we certainly wouldn't have ended up with Bush. The purpose of democracy is to allow citizens to hold their leaders accountable in order to make people feel that they control the government that controls them. It's about giving people an ownership stake in the system. And if there's a second-term curse, it's because we've removed that ownership stake from the system and given the president a freer hand to do whatever they like without fear of repercussions.

Rall's Radical Agenda

Now, I'm not sure why Rall imagines this is a good thing, other than that he's a radical who knows his ideas aren't popular. And while I have nothing against radicals and think they serve a real purpose in life, they shouldn't be running the show. Nor should they be giving advice to folks who are running the show. In fact, Bush's biggest problems weren't when he was being popular, but when he was listening to the radicals who told him to be bold, rather than popular. And how bold, radical decisions will lead to popularity. And even when it was obvious that popularity would elude him, he was told that history would be the real judge of his presidency.

And that's the exact advice the idiot Rall is giving to Obama. For myself, I just hope that Obama does all the things he said he'd do to get elected, as that's what people want and expect. But that's clearly the point of Rall's column, as he insists that Obama's plans aren't radical enough. For all of Rall's differences with Bush, Rove, and Cheney, it's obvious they share one thing in common: The belief that the presidency is a four-year dictatorship.

And that's why I'm damn glad that none of those four are up for election this year. We've had enough radicalism over the past eight years to last us the next eighty years. Now it's time to get back to the way things were.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Income Redistribution for Everyone!

It's a weird phenomenon that people get so accustomed to a particular situation that they'll fail to see it for what it is. And so it is with our constant debate about taxation, and whether or not taxes should be progressive or not. Because people always talk about this as if it's an issue of whether rich people should pay more than poor people. Yet...I've only encountered perhaps two or three people in my life who actually think rich people should pay the same as poor people. Even the Flat Tax and Fair Tax people think rich people should pay more taxes than poor people.

Because it's like this: Whether or not you think rich people should pay a higher percentage of their income than poor people, if you're using a percentage system, then you think that rich people should pay more. If you think everyone should pay a flat 20% of their income, than you think rich people should pay more than poor people. Because 20% of $250,000 is far more than 20% of $25,000. Similarly, no matter how regressive the so-called Fair Tax is, it would still make rich people pay more in overall taxes than poor people, even if they were paying a higher percentage of their income than the rich people. And in all cases, this means that poor people are receiving more in benefits than rich people; and thus, income is being redistributed.

And the alternative to this would be if we came out with a system that said something like "Everyone pays $10,000 annually." That would be a true flat tax. Everyone would pay the same amount, no matter how much money they earned. And while I think I've debated a few people over the years who really did suggest such a system, I have no idea who they were and have never heard anyone important propose such a system. Because it would be utterly insane. It's simply not done.

And so it's weird to read arguments as if this is what we're talking about. As if anyone is seriously suggesting that poor people actually pay as much as rich people do. As if income redistribution isn't built into McCain's plan. Because it is. The only issue is how much income redistribution we're talking about, not whether it should happen.

And once we realize this, it changes the entire face of the debate. Because by the McCain-Palin definition, we're all just socialists trying to determine how socialist to be. And that's an entirely different ballgame.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Got Polled

Hey, I actually got polled today! That's right, a real live pollster actually called my house and asked for my opinion about political races. It was pretty exciting. Particularly as the tiny bit of input my opinion makes into this poll is far, far more important than the nothing blip my actual vote makes on Election Day here in Texas. (Thanks Electoral College.)

And it's weird, as she asked me how likely it was that I'd vote, and I had to tell her that I already voted. And she told me that that's alright and I can answer the questions anyway, as if I had thought that my having voted made my opinion less important rather than more important. And the whole time, she kept asking me who I thought I'd vote for, again, as if I hadn't already voted. It was really quite weird. And that's one of the things about the polls: Now that early voting has started, the polls are becoming more accurate every day.

And one of the funniest parts about the interview was that she couldn't pronounce many of the names of the Democrats she was asking me about, and I couldn't tell her the names either, as I voted straight-ticket and didn't bother looking at them (I ALWAYS vote straight ticket). Sure, I helped her out with the pronunciation of Rick Noriega (who will hopefully be the next U.S. Senator of my fine state), but I didn't have a clue with most of the names she goofed. And it's not that she had a weird accent or anything, she just didn't seem to know how to pronounce names. And I kept telling her that I only voted for Dems, but she insisted on asking me about each race anyway, and I kept telling her "I don't know, whoever the Democrat was." Seriously.

So anyway, I feel pretty special. I always hear people complain about how pollsters have never called them, and now I'm proof that they do. To be honest, I don't even remember what group she said she was with, so I can't even go back to the numbers and see where I was. But whichever poll it was, I'm sure I did Obama some good. And that's what it's all about.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


One of the odder developments regarding the Palin selection is how conservatives have essentially realigned themselves so that Palin is the standard they use to determine who's a "real" conservative, as well as what conservatives believe. Here's something I wrote regarding how they did this with Bush:

One of the scary things about conservatives is how almost the entire
conservative world realigned into a Bush-centric perspective, which completely
abandoned all previous conservative theory, yet still considered itself to be
pure to its original intentions. In a sense, they all set their ideological
compasses to reflect that Bush was the new North without even realizing it.
And now that Bush has become such a leadweight that even RedState uses him as an example of what not to do, they've adopted Palin as the new North. And I already documented how Love of Palin is the new litmus test to determine if people who were identified as conservatives their entire life are "real" conservatives. with everyone else being exiled from all respectable conservative circles.

The New North

And the latest Palinocentric shift: Everything you know about the powers of the Vice Presidency is wrong. Why? Because Sarah Palin answered a question wrong. But because Sarah Palin can't be wrong, everything else you've known about the VP is simply wrong and even the power-hungry Dick Cheney wasn't aware of this.

RedState's Mark Kilmer was quite upset after Chris Matthews mocked Palin for believing that the VP "can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes." Because the word of Sarah Palin can never be doubted, Kilmer is forced to write:

"That is the only specifically enumerated duty of the veep in the Senate, besides presiding over it, but the role is not Constitutionally limited to only that. But still, Matthews is a dull blade."

And sure, the Constitution doesn't limit the VP from fulfilling that role. Similarly, I just checked the thing out and see that I'm not limited from running the Senate either, so watch out Harry Reid. That gavel is mine, bitch!

But of course, they were only following the McCain campaign's silly lead. But still, anyone willing to make this argument will only be laughed at. In fact, this is just standard operating procedure for conservatives, to double-down on every mistake. Somehow, conservatives have become convinced that this is some method of defense. But of course, repeating something that you need to defend yourself against doesn't constitute an offense. It only brings the mistake back into the focus of the conversation and makes you look even dumber. But because conservatives can't make mistakes, conservatives aren't even allowed to believe that this is what's happening.

And that's doubly so if the mistaken conservative is the egregiously blunder-mouthed Sarah Palin. Everything Palin says must be triple-downed on, to ensure that everyone understands that she couldn't possibly have made the mistake that everyone thinks she made. And again, this is the same blunder they made with Bush, which is why he made so many mistakes and why they followed him head-first into each one of them. Actions need to have consequences.

Commenters Comment

But of course, a RedState post wouldn't be the same if we didn't hear from the RedState commenters.

We've got Colokid who encourages RedState to vote for McCain based on the premise that Palin might really be able to get in there and preside over the Senate and force liberal Senators to ask Palin's permission before they can speak. Why didn't anyone explain this to Cheney before?

My favorite RedStater, Moe Lane, writes "Look, we're sorry that we picked somebody who read the darn thing," And of course, the implication here isn't just that Palin wasn't mistaken when she said this, but that she's the first VP to have bothered reading the Constitution in over a hundred years, and realizes what a screwing the other saps got.

And then there were a few who tried desperately to find ways to revise history to suggest that this is the normal way things are done. One cites a blogpost at Ace of Spades, where memories of Al Gore running the Senate in 2000 cannot be found online (I'm planning to write a separate post on that), as well as someone who cites a piece on that mentions that Vice Presidents used to preside over the Senate, but no longer do. In fact, that piece cites a story about Spiro Agnew attempting to lobby Senators, which prompted a fierce backlash where a Senator vowed that anytime Agnew lobbied him, he'd automatically do the opposite. And that said nothing about Agnew even attempting to run the Senate. It's just not done anymore.

Cult of Palin

And of course, in some way, these people have a point. The Constitution doesn't strictly limit the Vice President against running the Senate. But there's this thing called precedent, and how we do things as they've been done in the past; and to somehow skip back one hundred years to find the rule to justify Palin's control of the Senate is a bit reactionary, to say the least.

But of course, I'd guesstimate that the number of these people who were making these arguments before Palin said these things would be somewhere around zero. This isn't some longstanding conservative position they've held since time incarnate, and if Joe Biden attempted to takeover the Senate in January, I have no doubts that they'd be as outraged as we'd be if Palin attempted such a thing.

This isn't about Constitutional limits. This is about the Cult of Palin. Palin can do no wrong, and if Sarah Palin claims that the Vice President controls the Senate or that the Sun sets in the East, you can bet your bottom dollar that they'll find the argument that finds this to be true. And woe be to anyone who suggests any differently. All hail Palin!

Voters of the World Unite!

Alright that's it, I just early voted and privacy concerns aside, I'll just tell you: Obama won! That's right. I picked Obama. It's over. Time to pack up your bags and head back to Mother Russia, my loyal readers: The deal is done.

And let me tell you comrades, Premier-Select Obama is very proud of the work you've done for him these past twenty years and has included an extra bottle of vodka in your monthly stipend, along with the thirty rubles we promised. And once we have all these foolish imperial Americans out on the streets and begging from beggars for crumbs of the diseased, you and your families will be moved into their big American houses and you will be assigned five American workers each to use in any way you see fit; in accordance with the principles Father Marx espoused all those years ago. I predict this transition should be completed as soon as our new economic redistribution policies are implemented by the end of next month, so pack quickly, comrades. We have no time to lose!

Update: Commissar Ayers just informed me that my one vote was not enough to win the election for Premier-Select Obama. Apparently, the Americans have instituted a more complex leadership selection process than we had at first anticipated. It's time to move to Plan B: We all show up on Election Day and vote using the Vladimir Lenin voter registration cards that were supplied to us by ACORN. This plan cannot fail.


Friday, October 24, 2008

The Great Palin Purge of Aught-Eight

At this point, I've really started to feel sorry for the poor chumps at RedState. If anyone's been duped, burned, roped, and drained by the Republican Party, it's these guys. Because at a certain level, I believe them. They might not know what they're talking about, but at least they're earnest. And sure, on a day-to-day basis they engage in a huge amount of shameless deception, but at heart it's always self-deception. They're only proponents of the conservative system because they're such strong believers.

And holy shit were these guys used by the Bush Administration for the past eight years. Just shamelessly so. They bought every line, pimped the propaganda, attacked every foe; and what do they have to show for it? A huge huge embarrassment that they're forced to cover-up by blaming everyone else. And then along comes a new election with the hope of a "real" conservative at the helm, and what do they get? Fricking John McCain, a traitor they hated.

But then McCain pulled a rabbit out of the hat. He picked Sarah Palin, a conservative goddess from the toughest of all states. And sure, reality tells us that Alaska sucks at the government's teat harder than anyone else, but dammit, what good has reality done these people? Not a lick of good. But right when they thought they were settling into the greatest presidency since Ronald Reagan, BLAMMO! something horrible happens: It turns out that many of the conservative Republicans who only pretend to drink the Koolaid just couldn't get on-board the Palin Express. And thus begins The Great Purge.

Propaganda Nonsense

In just one of many posts on the subject, RedStater Mark Kilmer pretends to laugh at conservatives who are crapping on his parade. And for as much as Mark insists that he's "entertained" by these conservatives, it's quite obvious from the incomprehensible rambling quality of his writing that he's clearly shaken by all this. Not that I think he gives a hoot about what these conservative pundits say, but it's what they're doing by undermining his belief system that's really hurting him.

I quote:
"It is amusing that certain people with a misplaced sense of elitism can verbally attack a conservative Vice Presidential candidate in the middle of what could be a very close election, essentially because they do not like the cut of her jib."

Excuse me? So is it only people with a proper sense of elitism that can verbally attack Palin? Is it only conservative Vice Presidential candidates being attacked that make this amusing? And most absurd, is it not enough to dislike her jib? Do we need another reason? And perhaps there were also verbal attacks, but I believe these were written attacks he's speaking of, by National Reviews' Kathleen Parker and NY Times' David Brooks.

And so, while I understand exactly what he's getting at, it really just seems like this paragraph is a patchwork of rhetorical phrases used as substitute for an actual point. Because the translation is: Republican pundits shouldn't criticize Palin even if they don't like her, because it might cause us to lose. So why the "amusing" "elitism" "verbally attack" stuff? It's like he's so upset that he's just digging into a very limited bag of rhetorical tricks in order to not make this sound like he's upset because these pundits aren't propaganda machines. Because that's all he really wants: Conservative pundits who praise Palin.

Meaningless Language for Oafs

But that one was nothing, check out the next paragraph:
"Are these people seeking meaningless language which the speaker uses to fool the unsuspecting oaf into believing that a high-minded principle is being discussed? The politics of meaning, by jove, it takes a village? Does that suffice in the place of sanity? Obama/Biden?"

What the fuck does that mean? I'm telling you, I haven't left out any context here. This is it. What the hell is he talking about? The only sense I can even make out of it is that the first sentence applies to what he's doing, and then he does it in the other two sentences. He's using meaningless language to fool his readers into believing he's discussing a high-minded principle, when he's really only trying to pimp pro-Palin propaganda. And then he throws out what I guess is a Hillary reference with the "village" line, and then questions someone's sanity...I think.

And geez, I could go on to quote just about everything the dude says and marvel at it. He goes on to quote an odd rambling defense of Palin by McCain, in which he posits that Governors are always more experienced than Senators. And then there's some weird stuff about Reagan, who "always kept his eyes on the prize, reflected in conservatism." And then something about how Americans in the 80's knew what they were doing, where they were going, and why; and asserts that Obama and Biden don't. Huh? And then there was something about how he's "never heard a sophism escape [Palins] lips."

This is all just nonsense. And again, when you boil down what he's saying it just means: Republican pundits need to repeat propaganda. That's it. There are no facts given. No arguments made. Merely a recitation of what Kilmer would like to hear from all Republican pundits. And at the end, the only real defense of Palin he can muster is to say that, if anything happened to McCain, she'd be surrounded by good advisers who'd help her through it. And yeah, that worked great with the last dope this guy helped push on us. It's like they've erased Bush from their memories completely. I sure wish they'd teach me that trick.

Commenters Comment

But of course, the real fun begins in the comments section. Now it's time for them to hash out which Republicans are real conservatives and which are "Georgetown elitists."

Commenter dbecraft gets the ball rolling by attacking everyone from the "National Republic" (I believe he meant National Review) to Peggy Noonan and suggests that they all be thrown out of the "Republican Conservative party." But Kilmer comes back and suggests that Noonan is really a conservative, but still thinks she should be reciting the Palin propaganda. And finally, Ezekiel ends that discussion by saying that Kathleen Parker is a conservative, but Brooks is a "PBS conservative" they trot out to make conservatives look weak.

Later on, despite a glowing rave of Brooks by a commenter who just thinks that Brooks is too "inside the Beltway" on this one, another commenter insists that neither Brooks or Bill Krystol are conservatives. As he says of Brooks "Lord, this boy wouldn't know conservative if someone smacked him," which seemed particularly odd until I remembered that getting smacked is a leading cause of conservativism. Kilmer than shows how out of touch he is by wrongly stating that Krystol doesn't write for the NY Times. Having read a few of his boring columns, I wish I didn't know that either.

After that, you can read a thread on how "Obama and the liberal left have no tolerance for the Sarah Palins of the world," as evidenced by the fact that they've attacked Palin. That discussion devolves into an absurdly anti-intellectual rant about how "Academic performance and real accomplishment are mutually exclusive." Another commenter acknowledges that Obama is smart, but suggests that "much of what he knows just isn't so" which leads us to a very odd definition of the word smart. Later on, we find a debate as to whether or not Palin is anti-intellectual, with one commenter insisting that this is what makes her endearing, and the other saying that she's just anti-snob and connects with the people, like Clinton did (damn, I'm old enough to remember when that'd be considered an insult by these people).

Purge Purge

And then we can get back to the purge, where General Colin Powell is a "sophisticated, liberal Republican" who is "beholden-to-the-cocktail-party-crowd snobs." Jesus christ, why do these people hate the military so much? Lone Beagle goes as far as to suggest that Powell be "run out of town on a rail," along with Brooks, Noonan, and the person he was responding to.

And two more tratiors I found: Eisenhower's Granddaughter and Chris Buckley. As one commenter says of them, "the fruit fell far from the tree." Another commenter suggests they add "David Gergen, George Will, Tucker Carlson and the rest of the left of center Bow Tie Republicrats." PURGED! PURGED! PURGED!

And another target: "Country Club Republicans," as if that isn't the entire core of the party. And getting back to the point at the beginning, I understand why these conservatives would want to hate these people for what they did, but it's their fucking party! And if the RedState conservatives don't like what the Country Club Republicans keep doing, then they need to find their own party. Republicans are invite only.

Oh, and towards the end there is a HILARIOUS discussion with a moderate Republican trying to explain to them why these purges are a bad idea, and all they can do is keep insulting the guy and tell him that he's going to be "blammed" (banned from the site) for dissenting. And no, the irony didn't seem to occur to any of these people. Too funny.

And I'll end this with another comment by Lone Beagle:
"It seems that people who like Sarah Palin are thoughtful, well informed and intelligent. Just like Sarah Palin herself!"

And that just about says it all. Sarah Palin is now our new Good v. Evil litmus test.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Have Wannabees

I understand the principle behind the Republican idea that tax increases on the rich might cause them to do less to earn profits. But one thing I don't understand is the idea that tax increases on the rich hurt starting businesses and entreprenuers. Now granted, it could theoretically hurt investment into those companies by rich people. But most small businesses don't start off that way. Sure, they might get a business loan, but most small businesses start off with the money of the business owner and that's it.

And then there's idea that regulations stifle innovation and hurt new ideas. And while they can do that, they can also do the opposite: Prevent big companies from stifling innovation and new ideas. And that's why most folks have no real choice of cable, internet, or home phone providers.

And the reality is that Republican policies are good for people who are already powerful and want to stay that way. But that implictly means that they're crap for anyone else who wants to be that way. Taxing profitable businesses helps struggling businesses. Anti-monopoly regulations help new businesses. That just makes sense.

RedState Blues

But of course, all of this argument is well over the heads of the typical conservative. For them, Republican equals Pro-Business and Democrat equals Anti-Business, and that's all there is to it. Honestly, I've been reading RedState for long enough now to realize that they don't even discuss how this stuff is supposed to work. It's one thing for them to complain about "socialism" and "redistribution of wealth," but they also seem to think that regular small businesses are going to be destroyed by this stuff. Destroyed I tell you.

Yet there's never any actual discussion of this stuff. No policy debate at all, from what I've seen. It's all taken as given that it's going to happen and the only discussion is on how badly Obama is going to screw everyone over. On the one hand, you've got the people who assume that Obama's lying about his tax proposal and think that his tax increase will apply to people making $100k, and on the other side, you've got the people who think the whole thing is out of his hands and that Pelosi and Reid will be the ones dropping the hammer with a scary tax that destroys us all.

But of course, Obama and the Dems will be fools for not working to pass Obama's plan as stated. After all, the main thing he's selling at this point are his policies, and people really seem to like his tax plan in particular. It's a mandate. And so if he doesn't get it to us, but instead gives us some crappy-ass tax policy that he said he wouldn't, then he's screwed. Especially as I think he's got a really good tax proposal, so it'd be dumb to not implement.

Iraq Forevah!

Equally, some people think he won't get us out of Iraq. And that would be such an epic blunder that I can't really see him making a worse mistake. Because Iraq is just such a huge and pointless money drain that it cripples everything else we do unless we get out. And the sooner he starts it, the better, because it will make him look bold, decisive, and honest. We're only staying there because Bush required his PR victory and the only people who will oppose it are the people who already think that Obama is a terrorist, so there's no real downside to it.

Sure, he'll have to prepare people for the ensuing violence that is likely to break-out, but honestly, in the long-term, I think things will work out better this way. It's a domestic and foreign win-win all the way around and he should get on it as soon as possible.

But anyway, I'm not sure exactly where I was going with all this, but think I said enough. Hope you learned something. If not, sorry.

Challenges from God

From the Dr. Dobson interview:
Describing herself as a "hard-core pro-lifer," Palin said the birth of a son with Down syndrome was "this opportunity for me to really be walking the walk and not just talking the talk. There's purpose in this also and for a greater good to be met there."

This isn't meant as criticism of Palin's decision, as that's a personal thing and I don't really care what her decision was any more than I'd want her to care about my decisions.  But I've never really felt comfortable when people who have made the decision Palin made talk about it solely in terms of this being a personal challenge for themselves.  As if this was merely a question of the parent accepting God's challenge of raising a child with disabilities, or whether they'd wimp out and have an abortion.

And I don't know, but that's always struck me as being entirely selfish.  I mean, I've heard this kind of thing before, and there's always this underlying self-congratulatory air about the whole thing.  Like we're supposed to think they're such great people for accepting this challenge, and that the only implications involved them.  Particularly when they frame it in terms of them selflessly showing their devotion to their faith, which is entirely what Palin means with her "walk the walk" line.  

It's as if she saw this as being a test of her faith, and rather than making this decision as a parent, she made it as a pro-life Christian.  And perhaps she didn't mean it that way, but that's how she framed it and how I often see it framed by people in similar situations.  As if their decision was made to prove their love of God.

Worse than Death

Because I don't know about you, but I personally don't think I'd like to have Down's Syndrome.  Perhaps that's just me, but I don't think I'd like that at all.  I found life growing up to be hard enough as it was and really don't think I could have taken any extra challenges.  And this isn't to suggest at all that anyone with Down's Syndrome is miserable or should be killed or anything like that.  It's just that, well, I just think there are bigger implications here than the inconvenience and heroics of the parents.  There is a child to think about, too.

And much of this is due to my grand agnosticism.  Because I think it's entirely possible that our souls are something outside of their existence here on earth.  So perhaps the decision to have a child with Down's Syndrome has denied that soul the ability to be born as someone else.  Or perhaps aborted children go directly to Heaven, which certainly would be preferable to them coming here to earth.  And I can think of an infinite number of different possibilities whereby having a child with Down's Syndrome isn't the best thing for the child.  

And yet we never seem to hear a side of this where perhaps the child might not want to be born this way.  And we get that from all pro-lifers, where it's always assumed that life is better.  But I just can't agree to that.  There's a lot of bad shit in the world, with kids being born into horrible situations that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy (for the record, I have no enemies).  And so some kid is born into a drug house where she's beaten, abused, and treated like a slave by hateful parents who were treated the same when they were children; and I'm supposed to think this is a good thing?  

Sorry, but I just can't do it.  I've seen enough of this world to know that there are some things worse than death; and I say that as someone who doesn't believe in an afterlife.  And I'll never be so egotistical that I'll imagine that I can make these decisions to know that life is always better than whatever the alternative is.  For all we know, God wants some fetuses to be aborted; and no number of bible interpretations can convince me otherwise.  Some things are simply outside our realm of understanding.

My Decision

And trust me when I say that I'm trying to be delicate here, as I really don't want any of this to be taken as a suggestion that I think Palin or any other parent who made this kind of decision made the wrong one.  Again, that's their personal decision.  But for myself, if I were in that situation, I believe that I could not do it.  It has nothing to do with my selfishness at having to care for a child with disabilities.  It has to do with how cruel this world is and me not wanting to subject one of my children to it in that sort of situation.

Similarly, I don't think I could ever give a child up for adoption.  In fact, my greatest fear since I became a parent is that something would happen to me and I'd be unable to raise my children.  That's honestly the only thing that frightens me.  I've never feared death, but now I fear that I wouldn't be able to raise my children the way I think they should be raised.  And so the idea that I'd bring my child into this world with even fewer advantages would trouble me enough that I don't think I could do it to them.  

Again, that's not to say that anyone else should think as I do.  Merely that I don't like when this is framed in terms of the heroic decision the parent made, as if it's the only selfless one possible.  And when these stories are told merely as a means of showcasing the parent's devotion towards their faith is even more troubling.  This isn't about them or their faith.  It's about the child.  I'm hoping that they are fully aware of that, but wish they'd stop presenting it as if that's the only consideration.  This isn't a challenge from God.  It's a child.  I just hope everyone remembers that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Respect My Authority

RedState's Pejman Yousefzadeh on why Vint Cerf's endorsement of Obama is invalid:

Google's Vint Cerf Endorses Obama. Reasons? He likes the "principle" of "net neutrality" and he also likes the idea of "sav[ing] money on lobbying fees" by having a President who will respond to Cerf's every desire.

Don't believe me? Read this.

No Pejman, I don't believe you. Because it seems a bit odd that Cerf would actually have said such a thing. But hey, Pejman did me the courtesy of giving a link for all us doubters to read. Surely that link would show that he was correct, right?

Wrong. If you click on that link, you just get another blogger who writes about Cerf, but doesn't quote one word that Cerf said. Instead, he quotes from another blogger who casts doubt on Cerf's motives for endorsing Obama. And when you click through his link, you end up at Valleywag, a tech gossip blog with a guy who opposes net neutrality (an issue he doesn't seem to understand) and who jokes that Cerf endorsed Obama to save on lobbying fees. And presumably, the joke would be that Cerf was acting out of his own self-interest because Obama supported a policy that Cerf supported.

And so from a tech gossip's anti-Cerf joke, we filter through a technology libertarian blog, and viola!, Pejman has his reason to diss Vint Cerf's endorsement of Obama. But of course, none of this makes any sense. I understand the desire to spin endorsements to de-emphasize their importance (ie, Powell and Obama are black); but in this case, the spin seems to be that Cerf's endorsement isn't legit because Obama agrees with Cerf on an issue that benefits Cerf. And this is damning because...

But of course, it doesn't matter what Vint Cerf says. All that matters is that somebody, somewhere made him look bad when saying it. And that's good enough for Pejman.

No Pro-American Associates

And I'll leave you with a comment from RedStater Stephen Halsey on McCain's weak attacks on Obama:

Also, the fact that Obama has no public associations with people who love and want to defend this country is troubling if not frightening. His entire past is littered with associations with communists, marxists, socialists and other radicals bent on the destruction of traditional America. These are serious and troubling issues and McCain has failed to make the case.

I think he left out all the muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, and hornswogglars Obama associated with back when he was Sheriff of Rock Ridge. And he never has been particularly open about this part of his past either...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stevens Takes the Long View

From Senator Ted Stevens corruption trial:

Stevens has said he never sought gifts and wouldn't even accept a free lunch, much less expensive remodeling services. But prosecutors say he had a history of accepting gifts — including an expensive massage chair from a friend — and omitting them from the financial disclosure forms.

He said he considered that chair a loan.

"And the chair is still at your house?" prosecutor Brenda Morris asked.

"Yes," Stevens said.

"How is that not a gift?"

"He bought that chair as a gift, but I refused it as a gift," Stevens said. "He put it there and said it was my chair. I told him I would not accept it as a gift. We have lots of things in our house that don't belong to us."

But really, in the grand scheme of things, does anything truly belong to us? Or are we just leasing out this space on earth for the short time we are allotted, before turning it over to its next tenant upon our departure? This air we breathe, this water we drink, is it truly ours? Or are we all like Senator Stevens, merely allowing objects to stay in our homes before they are ultimately taken away from us forever?

Indeed, we can prosecute senators for accepting expensive message chairs, but this won't get us any closer to our true purpose: A vain denial of our very mortality. In the end, we're all giving back our expensive message chairs. Thank you, Senator Stevens, for reminding us of this.

Obama the Socialist

Obama's black!?! Why doesn't anyone tell me these things? I'm sorry, but I just can't vote for that man. Not that I'm racist or anything, and if you dare accuse me of being one, it just shows how racist you are. It's simply that he's not part of what I'm a part of and I just can't handle that. It's not that I'm a bigot. It's just that he's not part of my scene; not one of us. John McCain, the multi-million dollar kept man who owns more houses than I've ever lived in, now he's someone I can relate to. But Obama had to earn his money...on the streets, and I just can't relate to that.

Plus, he's planning to make rich people pay more for stuff that benefits me, and that's just not something I agree with. If I don't pay for something with my cold hard cash, then I won't be using it at all. And that includes roads, police, phone lines, and educated workers. I'm a rugged individualist, dammit! That means I'm going it alone. Just me, in a remote cabin, catching my own food, burning my own wood, drinking my own water. Well, and stealing electricity and wireless internet from neighbors so I can keep my blog going, but hey, that stuff's free. Besides, I'm doing all that for you, my loyal readers.

But everything else needs to be earned. Dependence is servitude. Anyone who says any different is a socialist, trying to lure you in with the cheap promise of security, warmth, and happiness. But at what price, people? If the folks on the rich side of town can't afford an extra week in Italy, where's the liberty in that? And while it'd be nice if even poor people could have the government pay for their kidney operations, yachts don't pay for themselves, people. That's a fact. Until all the rich people own all the yachts, those kidney operations are just going to have to wait. That's just life.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Demand-Side Tax Policies

And speaking about Republican tax nonsense, there's this idea of McCain and the conservatives that Obama's tax policies are "welfare." Yet conservatives have completely given up on the idea of supply-side economics, and all we're really talking about are variations of demand-side economics. And so if this is "welfare," it's simply a debate as to whether the welfare should go to the rich or not.

According to conservatives, we need to cut taxes so that business owners can spend more of it. And that's not supply-side economics. That's demand-side. Because the whole point of supply-side economics wasn't whether you were giving money to the upper-class or not. It was merely a weird pseudo-argument that stated that if tax rates were too high, the greed motive would disappear and our supply would drop because there were fewer businesses doing less business. And that's true. After all, if tax rates were 100%, no one would work. Similarly, if tax rates were 90%, the benefits of investing your money wouldn't be worth the risks. But none of this applies when we're merely talking about moving tax rates by a few percentage points. The theory behing Supply-Side economics is not applicable in our current situation.

Even though they won't say it, conservatives are merely supporting demand-side economics. It's all about allowing businesses to have more money, in order to increase their spending. And spending is on the demand side; it's about putting more money into the system to increase demand. And so the only question is: Where does it best benefit us to insert money into the system? Is it better if the government spends the money on roads, bridges, dams, and schools? Is it better to let individuals have it, so they'll spend it on groceries, clothes, cars, and credit card bills? Or do we just give it directly to businesses?

But in all cases, the money ends up with businesses. Government spending isn't some money hole that removes it from the economy. Government spending goes to contractors and suppliers and policemen and teachers. Even bribes and kickbacks go back into the economy. Similarly, individual spending goes to stores and other businesses. And then those businesses buy things and pay payroll, and the circle of life continues.

Where to Inject the Dough

And so the big question is: Why give it directly to businesses? Why not make them earn it? Why not let it benefit the little guy first? So we get our bridges and the construction company owner gets more money. So we get our kids new clothes and Walmart gets more money. I'm not sure why conservatives pretend that free money will motivate people to work harder, but I see it as the opposite. If you give people free money, they'll have less incentive to work. Ask anyone who wins a megabucks lottery. In the end, business people are in it to make more money; not hire more people or spend more. If you give them larger profits for less work, they'll keep it.

And if anything, if you give a rich person more money, they're likely to spend much of it on German cars, Russian caviar, and European vacations; which really does suck money out of the economy. So why not let Joe Sixpack pay his monthly credit card payment with the money before it gets washed away in a French bidet? The question isn't whether the business sees the dough. It's whether or not we make them earn it.

And again, this isn't how conservatives see this. They see it in terms of fairness, and people getting to keep what's theirs. But they agree that rich people need to pay more taxes than poor people. Everyone does. And they agree that tax policy is entirely arbitrary and necessary. And hell, they've really even given up the spending argument, as they argue that their tax policies increase tax revenues. And so if they're agreeing that rich people should pay more, tax policy is arbitrary, and increased tax revenues are a good thing; then it's simply a matter of deciding who's going to get the money that will be used to pump the economy.

And again, at that point, why give it directly to businesses? Why not make them earn it? Why give them free money, which discourages them from doing more work; when we can make them earn the money, which encourages them to work harder? And why not allow the funds to be spent on at least some layer of the American economy before it gets sucked out to Europe? John McCain wants to give $200 billion directly to these corporations. I say we make them earn it first.

Don't Know Much About Business

Tax logic, per Sarah Palin:
"Sen. Obama will do to those who want to create jobs what shouldn't be done, and we're calling him on it."

What does this even mean? There are business owners who want to create jobs, but wouldn't be able to under Obama's tax proposal because they make so much in profits that their tax bill would make new hires impossible? What?? Are we really to feel sorry for some business that only makes $250k in profits? And either a business needs another employee or they didn't. You don't hire employees simply to create a new job. You do it because you needed them.

And of course, if you're really worried that your tax bill is too high, hiring more employees is a perfect way of reducing it. Assuming you needed them, the investment will pay for itself and you'll need to hire even more employees to reduce your next tax bill. And if an employee decreases your profit in the long run, you shouldn't have hired them in the first place. So if anything, high tax rates give incentive to businesses to increase their expenses, as a way of avoiding high tax bills.

Weird Weird Conservatives

But of course, this is always one of those lies Republicans tell about taxes. There's always this idea that we're taxing businesses that are barely staying afloat, and that the tax bills are putting them under. But most businesses pay the same income taxes the rest of us do, and if a business only makes $40k in profits, that owner probably isn't paying any taxes. And a business owner that only makes $20k is probably even getting the earned income credit, just like anyone else making that much money.

But in the crazy world of conservatives, it's all about sending messages. If you tax profits, it means you hate profits. It means that you're punishing people for making money, and want them to make less money. And because that signal is being sent, it'll make you want to make less money. In the weird world of conservatives, it's like your tax bill is more important than your bottom line; as if it's better to make 65% of $200k than 60% of $300k. And again, if that's your idea, than hiring more employees is certainly a good way of fixing that.

Not that any of them really believe any of this nonsense. It's simply that they can't justify their policies in any other way, and this garbage is the best they've got. They can't explain it, but they can't stop repeating it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Radicalization of Obama

Without RedState, I just don't know what I'd blog about any more. Obama's now coasting to an easy victory. McCain's got nothing but tired nastiness to toss out; a real snooze. And there really isn't much of anything catching my eye. So what do I do? Go to the jokers at RedState and find me some stupid. It never takes long.

This time, it's a rambling post by Dan McLaughlin trying to slam Obama for pointing out that his association with Bill Ayers isn't at all scandalous. And the post had to be rambling because McLaughlin really didn't have anything to say. Obama's point was that he was part of a non-controversial educational foundation that did good things and Ayers, who is now a respectable educator, happened to be a part of it. And that's all entirely true.

But to McLaughlin, this can't be true. Because this is the best dirt they've found yet on Obama, so it must be really dirty. I mean, this guy is literally teeming with anti-American radicals and other dirty bastards, so if Ayers is the best they've got, it's GOT to be good. I mean, if Obama isn't really palling around with Ayers the Terrorist, then they really don't have much of an argument against him.

And yet the best McLaughlin can do is to change Obama's point. Obama was showing that this organization he was with wasn't radical and had many establishment players involved. McLaughlin changes this point by pretending as if Obama was trying to shift the blame to these other people. But the blame for what? Obama's entire point was to show that his association with Ayers wasn't wrong or evil. And if that's Obama's point, then there's no blame to be shifted.

Radicalism by Association

And so as usual, a RedStater's entire post was a bust because he missed the point. But a big part of the problem is that McCain isn't making the attacks that the freaks at RedState think he should make. All McCain did was mention Ayers and say that Obama needed to explain "the full extent of that relationship" with Ayers. And so all Obama needed to do was to mention all the other people who were also associated with that group, which would show that it wasn't a radical group. And therefore, Obama wasn't a radical for being associated with it either. And that's what he did.

But McCain never leveled any actual charges of wrong-doing by Obama. And the reason he didn't is because there aren't any. All they've got is tough-sounding accusations that are an ever-increasing absurdity of guilt by association. McLaughlin is so well-versed in these accusations that he merely provided two links to them, which I'm sure he assumes was a Case Closed moment; and that it's just a matter of time before the bailiff comes and carts a babbling Obama out of the courtroom.

But the two links were dull jokes. The first was a lot of noise about how Ayers' is still a radical; a "school destroyer." The evidence: Ayers taught a class titled "On Urban Education" which taught how to solve "homelessness, crime, racism, oppression" as a global issue. Wow. That's radical! It also cites a letter he wrote about not growing up. And that's about it. It's a long piece in the WSJ, yet for all the loud bluster about him being a radical, there was almost nothing from Ayers himself that would indicate that he's anything more than the standard social justice professor. The author even makes it sound ominous that Ayers was elected vice president for curriculum of the American Education Research Association; while a normal human would assume this was a good thing for Ayers.

And the second piece was even worse. It basically amounted to lot of fuss about one school program funded by Obama's foundation which had two guest lecturers that were radicals. That's right. Guest lecturers. Stanley Kurtz devoted eight whole paragraphs to just one guy who gave a seminar to a group funded by the foundation. And this is the sort of radicalism Obama is supposed to be blaming others for, in McLaughlin's eyes.

Is it any wonder McCain was embarrassed to even be mentioning this during the debate? Sure, he mentioned Ayers. But he refused to make any accusations. You'd think if this was so important that McCain would have wanted to mention it more. And you'd be right. It's obvious that McCain believes that he has no evidence suggesting that Obama is a dangerous radical, and the best he can do is hope that something turns up.

Friends v. Buddies

And as usual, the RedState commenters were the best. First off, there were three intelligent commenters who did a good job of defending Obama, and no one was really able to touch what they wrote. The first one did a great job of highlighting Ayers' career, showing that he's no longer the scary terrorist the RedStaters pretend he is.

And that just flabbergasted all the RedStaters. The best they could do is pretend as if their point was already made and proceed right into the victory laps. Here's my favorite comment "I don't think anyone here has a problem with anyone being friend with Bill Ayers. We have a major problem with a man who wants to be president being buddies with a person like that."

And please, read that one again. Perhaps you can explain it to me. I've read it about five times and still don't get it. Is he making a distinction between "friends" and "buddies"? This was simply gibberish. But the rest weren't much better.

And a basic theme I've found with conservatives is that the only way anyone can repay society is through prison time. As if it's better to have taxpayers provide room & board to someone for a few years than for them to take care of themselves and benefit humanity. I had a long discussion on this very issue once, and I still don't understand how prisons benefit society more than service to the community. I've always thought rehabilitation was better than punishment, while most conservatives consider me to be a simple-minded fruitcake for saying so.

The Master of Trolls

Another good commenter was Catsy, who really ate everyone else's lunch. In fact, Catsy did such a bang-up job that Streiff, the official RedState "Master of Trolls" (no, I didn't make that up), had to threaten Catsy to get him/her to stop. I quote "Catsy, if I were you I'd seriously consider buggering off right now instead of trolling. I'd really, really seriously consider it. And I'm not in the mood to argue about it."

WTF?? Is this a blog, or the fricking mob? There wasn't even any trolling here at all. It was just an old fashioned conservative ass-whipping. And so the "Master of Trolls" had to come out from under his bridge to lower the hammer. Catsy decided to stop commenting until after the election.

And here was a good line from lonebeagle: "Obama has no character because he has surrounded himself with a full roster of American hating lunatics--Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, etc etc etc." Wow, that IS a full roster. Let's see, we've got Ayers. We've got Wright. And then we've got etc etc etc. Why, add four more etceteras to that and we'd have ourselves a baseball team! No wonder Obama has no character.

And as a final note, here's a comment from antisocial: "I don't for a moment believe anybody bought that professor line from Barack about Mr. Ayers." Bought what professor line? Say what you will about Bill Ayers, he's a damn professor! Similarly, another commenter wrote sarcastically of the "venerable "Dr." Ayers," putting "Dr." in quotes, like there was some sort of doubt about it. If authoritarians hate one thing, it's when "radicals" are given titles of authority. It blows their little minds every time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

RedState Picks Obama

As usual, I didn’t watch the debate. And while I read TPM’s and Carpetbagger’s live blogs, it’s really not so easy to get a sense from your own team on how you did. And so for the definitive word on the winner, I turn to RedState. And having just read RedState head honcho Erick Erickson’s post, I can definitely announce the winner: Barack Hussein Obama.

Why? Because McCain totally impressed the hardcore freaks at RedState. As Erickson states, "John McCain mopped the floor with Barack Obama." And if these guys feel satisfied that their Bizarroland talking points were addressed with sufficient anger, then the rest of America must be scratching their heads at the performance McCain must have given. For whatever reason, McCain has become convinced that his future rests on convincing the choir to start singing the same song they always sing, and didn't even bother issuing songbooks to anyone else.

Because we all live in our own little fantasy worlds. We have our little areas of concern and importance, and we focus on these certain areas as if they're the only things that exist. A sports fan thinks you're crazy for not knowing who's playing in the World Series. My teenage daughter thinks I'm not hip because I don't know who the hell Chris Brown is, while I was a little startled to learn that she had never heard of Malcom X. And wingnuts...if you don't quote chapter and verse from their ever-changing etiquette book, then you might as well be a communist.

Wooing the Trekkies

Everyone has their set of factoids and interests, and while it might make us feel better if everyone else shared ours, that's just not how things work. Everyone's different, which I personally think is a good thing. But to wingnuts, all they want is loyal believers who agree with them on everything, because they suffer from low self-esteem and need to believe that they're part of some large movement in order to justify their delusions of grandeur.

And so for them to think that McCain hit a homerun would mean that he must have gone deep enough into their fantasyworld to have left everyone else behind. As Greg Sargent said in regards to McCain's reference of Ayers "The whole conversation sounded as consequential as a momentary diversion into an argument between Trekkies over the relative merits of Captains Kirk and Picard."

And that's exactly right. Only political junkies care about who Ayers is, and even then, only because wingnuts have grasped onto him as being the only link that might suggest Obama's a radical. Same with Reverend Wright. These are the sort of stupid rhetorical arguments that should be drunkenly shouted about at the local bar by heated participants who speak a coded language outsiders can barely comprehend. But for anyone who still hasn't figured out the differences between Obama and McCain, or even to have based their decision on the "D" or "R" that follows the name, this stuff is just waaaaay too obscure. If they had the time to research who Ayers is, they wouldn't need a political debate to tell them who to vote for.

McCain didn't win any votes by mentioning Ayers. All he did was make a bunch of wingnuts high-five themselves, proudly down another shot of mouthwash, and feel all squishy inside. "Finally," they say to themselves. "America will hear the truth."

Random Comments

And as usual, reading the comments section is pretty illuminating too. Apparently, NRO and Fox News have gone soft and don't care about Obama's lies anymore. One commenter recommends that they not read NRO and just "stick to RedState." And the line of defense shrinks further, as more heretics are pushed outside the castle gates.

Another commenter is "still banking" on there being a "silent majority" that magically comes out of nowhere to elect McCain; thus "making fools of all these pundits and pollsters." When someone asks the guy how a silent majority is possible in this age of heavy polling, the guy responds by mentioning Democratic friends in Massachusetts who refuse to vote for Obama. As he explains, in his world, pollsters are relying on heavier Dem participation as their guide to who will win, rather than actually asking people who they plan to vote for. Besides, none of this guy's friends have been polled yet. Sure, polls currently show Obama with a 17-point lead in Massachusetts, while InTrade gives McCain a 2% chance of winning the state...but this guy's friends... With anecdotal evidence like that, who needs polls?

One commenter was really upset that McCain referred to Ayers as a "washed up old terrorist" and complains that McCain isn't "going for the jugular." As he describes it "McCain doesn't want to win ugly. Sorry, that doesn't cut it. Obama is a socialist. He is a radical leftist and he is out of step with the majority of Americans." But of course, the real reason McCain won't go for the jugular on this is because he knows there's no jugular there. What other excuse could there be? Honestly, if Ayers really was some sort of active terrorist radical and was plotting with Obama, we'd all be fools for not talking about it. But...if Ayers is a "washed up old terrorist" who changed his tune and is no longer radical; then McCain has no attack. And that's the sort of mind-blowing admission a wingnut just can't handle.

And I'll end with this odd quote from Jaded "Luckily those pundits only have one vote and just like the media wing of the Democrat party WE the base ignore them!"

Yeah. That's real lucky. Too bad these debates aren't about the base of either party. It's like it never occurred to this guy that the purpose of debates is to convince the people who haven't already made up their minds; as the other ones are pretty much decided. It's like all this is just one big morality play for their personal benefit. If only the base stays pure, we win!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Weirdness from RedState

RedState is still full of weird, weird people. Up first is a post by one of my favorite wingnuts, Moe Lane, entitled :sing-song: "A-CORN'S scared of Mc-Cain, A-CORN'S scared of Mc-Cain..." Apparently, ACORN is scared of McCain because they put out a statement that pointed out that McCain once supported ACORN and went to a few of their events in 2006; which was enough to inspire Moe into verse.

Now, a normal person might think this is a sign that McCain should be scared of ACORN, for ever having associated with such a radical anti-American organization like ACORN. And in fact, the Michelle Malkin post that Moe linked to did indeed suggest that this was a bad thing for McCain. But in his attempt to make Malkin look like a rational thinker, Moe flips everything around and somehow imagines that this is a sign of weakness from ACORN. No, I don't understand that either.

But of course, as is typical with wingnuts, he then decides to say the opposite and suggests that ACORN did this in an attempt to make conservatives "despondent" and scared. Gee, I thought that was what McCain's flailing campaign was doing to them. So in Moe's reality, ACORN did this because they're scared, and because they want to scare conservatives, who they think are "stupid that way." Of course.

Moe Wins!! Moe Wins!!

But the reality is that RedState's Moe Lane is simply one of those weirdos who can't imagine that he's not holding all the cards and isn't always winning at everything. So his brain feverishly invents odd rationalizations to explain how everything works to his advantage, even if these rationalizations are entirely contradictory.

Sure, people who are accustomed to having success in life don't usually find it necessary to invent success at every corner to compensate for the failures that seem to be plaguing them, but I guess after all the harsh realities conservatives have faced in the past eight years, they've got to take what they can get. And if that means converting fantasy into reality in order to rationalize one's success, so be it.

For example, an ACORN press release that hurts McCain is perceived as an obvious sign of weakness, which can also be used to rally conservatives. There is no attempt to even suggest how this shows ACORN's weakness or why conservatives would need to rally against this sign of weakness or why conservatives need to be rallied when faced with truths. There is simply Moe's assertion that this is the case.

Similarly, we saw this in my last post about Moe, in which Moe fantasized that a Spanish-language ad linking McCain to Rush Limbaugh was a bust for Obama because Limbaugh might not choose to get angry about it; even though Limbaugh had, in fact, already discussed the ad before. And again, the idea is that the whole purpose of the Spanish-language ad was to enrage conservatives, and that it was better for Limbaugh to ignore the ad that attacked him and McCain, rather than to let Obama win by pushing back against it. And this was enough to bring great joy to Moe's heart. Somehow, the idea that the ad might cause Hispanics to vote for Obama seemed to have eluded Moe.

And as an added bonus, there was an anonymous message on that post, which was purportedly from Moe, in which he suggests that he won again because I pointed out his mistakes in my post. As Anonymous Moe said "Posts like this tell me that I'm doing my job properly." Apparently, Moe's "job" is to write bizarro posts that have no basis in reality or rational thought. If so, you're doing a heckeva job, Moe.

Weird Weird Weird

And for our truly bizarro RedState post, I give you Mark Kilmer's Joe McCain: "Free John McCain!" It's a post about how McCain's brother Joe thinks his campaign made a big mistake by cutting off the media, which is something I agree with entirely.

If there was a Republican who the media loved, it was John McCain. And this was McCain's strongest asset and what allowed him to capture the nomination. Essentially, Steve Schmidt traded in both of McCain's knights for pawns and imagines he was the cleverest person in the world for doing so. And all because Schmidt's playbook insisted that knights were a curse; what, with all that complicated moving they do and everything. It was much easier to plan things by putting a few extra blocking pieces in the way.

And Kilmer seems to agree with that completely, so much so as to imply that the media never really liked John McCain. They were just using him because they hated Republicans so much. And this is all in accordance with the conservative idea that anyone who doesn't strictly adhere to party guidelines is clearly working for the enemy. If you're not carrying water for Dear Leader, you're carrying water against him; or something like that. And in Kilmer's post, he's got some really odd statements.

First off, we've got a really weird suggestion that, had McCain won the GOP nomination in 2000, the media would have dropped McCain "like hot bricks" and supported Kerry or Dean. I would have assumed he would have faced Gore, especially in that neither Kerry or Dean were even running for the nomination in 2000; but I would be mistaken. So even though the media liked McCain more than Bush, and liked Bush far more than Gore, Kerry, or Dean; the media would have hated McCain as the GOP nominee. Apparently, the rules of Rock, Paper, Scissors apply in politics too.

The Gibber Talk Express

And here's a bit of indecipherable nonsense from Kilmer:

"The press, for the most part, like good stories and lean to the left, so Obama is their man. An straight-talking war Navy pilot with a back story lauded by people who love America is cannot touch that."

Granted, I get the impression that this was a re-written sentence from something else, but what, I can't tell. And so the media loves good stories, but doesn't like McCain's back story lauded by people who love America. "Is cannot touch that."?? WTF???

Or this:

"Should Steve Schmidt and friend have allowed McCain to open up to the media. Intuitively, it would seem so, but we are not running this campaign. I know that John McCain reached the national position he had in large part because of his straight talk. That willingness was what separated him from so many other politicos, include Barack Obama. You don't strip that for a campaign."

What?? I can't even begin to figure out how to rewrite that paragraph. It's almost as if he imagines the "straight talk" didn't involve the media or something. As if he thinks McCain would have needed to sacrifice his straight talk if he wanted to talk to the media; completely unaware that this IS what the straight talk consisted of.

And really, the most bizarro thing about RedState is that they've completely reinvented John McCain. While Michelle Malkin still holds firm to some anti-McCain feelings due to his pro-immigration stance and other conservative heresies, RedState seems to have deleted those sections of their memory banks. It's as if the selection of Sarah Palin was enough to convince them that he was one of them the whole time, and the former John McCain never existed.

Weird, weird, weird. I'd assume the latest polls were really starting to get to them, but as we all know, poll results are only accurate if they conform to what we already know to be true. Otherwise, they're just more lies.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Attacking Obama in a Post-Racist Society

Back in the 60's, Nixon used to peddle racism to the masses by complaining about inner-city crime. Reagan would speak bitterly of welfare queens. Gingrich would demand an end to affirmative action. And while the enemy the Bushies gave us was color-oriented (brown), it had a tactical purpose because there really were scary brown people trying to kill us; all they had to do was exaggerate the numbers. And of course, all of these people had illegal immigration to stand proudly against (even while their investors were loving them some cheap labor).

But the one thing in all this is clear: Outright racism doesn't sell. At least not in a national election, anyway. Even in a purple state like Virginia it was deemed a career-killer to refer to a brown person as "macaca". You might not have known what "macaca" meant, but you got the general gist of it. And people rejected it. In fact, even racists object to racism these days. They will insist that they're not racists and that there are good reasons for why they seem to be acting and sounding like racists. Because even they, with their pea-sized brains, realize that racism doesn't sell.

But all the same, we know these people are racists because of the way they act, and they can really get in deep doodoo for acting this way. And anyone associated with this will get in trouble for it. Nixon realized that he couldn't openly diss black people, and that was forty years ago. These days, racism is even less tolerated by the masses. Sure, it's out there. But even the racists know their days are numbered.

Even the white supremacists will insist that they're just trying to defend their "heritage" and just want "equal" rights for white people. This is not the racism of Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats.

Offending the Racists

And I was thinking about this after Digby posted this picture of a billboard in Missouri:

And Digby seems to take this as some warning of what we've got to face. And the commenters there seem to think this is some big problem and that someone should destroy the sign. But why? Sure, it's offensive. But it's offensive to lots of people. And rather than convince even one person to vote for McCain, the only possible effect it could have would be to push people away from McCain.

Not only is the sign repulsive, but it's childish and dumb. And if the message at the bottom of the sign might have some effect on undecided voters, the racist image of Obama completely poisons that message. With one fell swoop, the idiot who put up the sign has openly linked the anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-tax, and pro-gun movements with racism. And if you support any of those things but are repelled by racism, you'll be upset at the side who besmirched your issues with such blatant racism. The sign would have been much more effective with an actual image of Obama. A racist can hate Obama's face without realizing they're racist; but the cartoon image was simply too over the top.

And again, a big part of modern racism is that there are few racists left who are proud of their racism. They might make racist jokes, treat minorities poorly, and avoid voting for Obama because of his race; but they'll lie to themselves about it. Because it repulses them. Racist jokes are rationalized on the basis that they're "just jokes." They'll tell themselves that minorities are to blame for their own problems, and that it's only the "dirty" negroes that they oppose. Because racism has hit such a low point that even most racists don't want to think they're racist.

And this sign will hurt their self-image and will make them feel ashamed. Very few will defend this sign by saying "It's ok because Obama is black and black people are inferior to us and shouldn't be president." They'll say that it has nothing to do with race and that it's just a funny picture based on Obama's "true" religion. Because even the sign's defenders can't admit to themselves that they're racist. And there will be even more racists or pseudo-racists who are offended by this image, because it hits so close to their real attitude; which embarrasses them. And then there is the rest of America, which will truly be repulsed by this.

Embrace the Crazy

And it's obvious that this is happening and that there is a backlash against the attacks on Obama. Racism was a trap against Republicans and they fell right into it. Because they lack self-awareness, they imagined that they were able to negate the racism charges, and their efforts have at least gotten Obama's campaign too timid to complain about racism. But this still looms as a huge issue, and all it takes is a single racist cartoon image of Obama to bring the whole house of cards on top of them.

Nixon knew better than to run an openly racist campaign, because even most racists don't want to admit that they're racist. But now with a black president on the way, the crazies are coming out of the woodwork. Digby wants to warn us about this, as if this is some big danger looming for us. But just as the crazies helped Clinton maintain high approval ratings throughout the 90's, these crazies will get majorities to run to Obama in droves. Even many racists will feel ashamed of that anti-Obama sign.

Things will seem tough for us, because the crazies are always the loudest and most confident. But in the end, we need to embrace the crazies; to give them enough rope with which to lynch themselves. The Republican Party has been wooing these people for several decades. It behooves us to let them reap what they've sown.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Deep Thought

Isn't someone who is working within the established rules for obtaining power, rather than using violence as a way of stealing power, by definition, not a terrorist?

I hate it when words stop meaning things.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hypothetical Diehards

If President Obama somehow turns out to be as bad as President Bush was, how likely is it that you'd still tell a pollster in 2012 that you supported him; assuming that the Republicans were still the jerks they are now? And if President Obama was as bad as President Bush was, would you consider voting for Romney instead?

I've got to be honest with you: I suspect I'd be one of the 25-percenter diehards. I might bad mouth him in person and on my blog, but I'd probably lie to the pollster and say that I still supported him. And there's no way I'd vote for a Republican. Any Republican. Even if he was a nice guy, he'd still be surrounded by greedy, narrow-minded jerks. And that's just not something I could ever support.

That's why I say: Nobody really supports Bush. I'm sure even Bush hates himself at this point. That's just the nature of politics. Given a choice between bad and worse, you've always got to go with bad. I'm just glad that we've got a great choice this time around, but I would have supported anyone we put up. Anything else is just illogical.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thanks, Gore!

First he invents Global Warming, now Carbon Footprints. Hell, it might have been better to just let him be president. If we had only known...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Old Man McCain

Media folks are weird people. And while I can sort of understand how their minds work, I really don't quite understand why. And without a doubt, the Bushies totally had their number. They knew how to control the media the way that a Benihana chef controls his grill. The difference being that after the chef finishes his slicing and dicing, the chicken rarely expresses admiration for the quality of his work.

But for whatever reason, McCain didn't get those people. Just as Sarah Palin knows which words to use, without understanding how they're supposed to fit together; the McCainiacs know how to manipulate the media, but never figured out how to get the results they wanted.

And I'm thinking about this while reading this analysis piece from the AP:
"Obama isn't above attacking McCain with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican "erratic" — a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain's age, 71, might be an issue. A harsh judgment, certainly..."

A Harsh Judgment

And my first thought was, what planet is this guy from? The word "erratic" has something to do with age? I thought it had to do with McCain being a risk-taking flip-flopper who seems unable to stay on-message for more than five minutes. And let's not pretend that this is all McCain. His entire campaign is erratic, and lest we imagine that Steve Schmidt and McCain's other goons are secret senior citizens, I don't think age is the issue. The issue is that these guys are desperate and clueless.

But of course, this just reflects the McCainiacs idea of innoculating McCain against any attack that might conceivably be about age. As if the age issue is so sensitive and "harsh" against McCain that it's unfair to bring up. But that's exactly why McCain's manuevering on this was idiotic. Because rather than innoculating McCain from the attack, it just means that reporters will remind people of how old McCain is every single time Obama hits him for being "erratic" or "confused" or for having "lost his bearings."

So rather than turning McCain's weakness into an asset, they made it into a double-attack against McCain. Now, the media will remind voters that McCain is not just erratic and confused, but old too. And as this piece says, this is such a negative that even hinting about it is "harsh." So voters are reminded of McCain's age, but won't associate the attack with Obama.

Embrace the Liabilities

And this just isn't how the Bushies did things. Bush was an idiot. And rather than fight that basic fact by pretending he was an intellectual, they slapped a hat on him and bought him a ranch. Presto! He was a cowboy. And liberals helped them with that all the time, by repeatedly referring to him as a cowboy; as if Americans hated cowboys or something.

But that's not what McCain's people did at all. They should have made McCain's age an asset, by playing up his wisdom and experience. And while they've certainly tried that tact too, they got burned by also going with the opposite message; that it's unfair to talk about McCain's age because it's such a liability against him. And then there was McCain's willingness to promote change, which played to Obama's advantage. If both sides agree we need something new, Obama wins, because he's newer.

And if anything, they should have emphasized that Bush was the hot new risk-taker who tried to change too much, and how McCain represented a back-to-basics approach to governing. Because that's actually true. The Bushies betrayed just about every principle conservatives believed in before they came into power, and had McCain embraced that old school rhetoric, he could have gone far. It was always a lie, but it was a lie that worked.

McCain should have tried to appeal to the make-believe America of the 50's, and how he was going to be the safe daddy who took care of everything. Like Reagan and Eisenhower rolled into one. And he could explain that his support of Bush was merely his attempt to make the best of a bad situation, by giving the new guy a chance. And now we see what a mistake that was, and how we need to get back to our roots. That was McCain's shot at winning; not trying to steal Obama's message.

Mixed Messages

But no, McCain's people decided to try and grab every single sales pitch imaginiable, and ended up with no message at all. He's an experienced guy who wants to change everything. He supported Bush while also being Bush's worst nightmare. He's an anti-Republican maverick constantly trying to excite the Republican base. He's both bold and safe. He's positive and negative. And he can stand up to Bin Laden and the baddies, but is hurt if you say he's old.

And really, none of this makes any sense. The secret to good marketing is finding the best way to sell your product and sticking to it. Walmart will never mean quality, McDonalds will never mean gourmet, and McCain will never mean change. You can't sell something that you don't have. You might not like the image your product has, but you've got to work with what you've got. And if your product is old, you've got to make old look positive. It's like if McDonald's ran ads telling people to stop talking about how fatty their food is. It's an insult that will only remind people of the very thing you're trying to get them to forget. Not smart.

While this was Obama's election to lose, McCain seems to have done his best to make sure he didn't stand a chance. He might win a newscycle or two with one of these messages, but he was certain to lose by pushing all of them. It made him look erratic and risky, and if the media insists upon reminding us that this is related to his age, I don't see why we should complain. After all, it was conceivable that Bush could have gotten smarter over time, but nobody believes McCain's getting any younger.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Palin Won!! Palin Won!!

Well, the final verdict of tonight's VP debate has been formally issued by RedState, and I for one welcome our Republican overlords.

I guess it's not such a big deal if your candidate completely lacks substance if you don't have any of your own to speak of.

Oh, and it really is painful how stupid these people are:
Of course, Joe Biden referred to "Bosniacs" so the gaffes were not one-sided and for a Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to refer to "Bosniacs" . . . well, it's kinda interesting, to say the least. I wonder if people will make an issue of it. They should and they most certainly would if Sarah Palin made that comment. Again, it is kind of silly that we are penalizing candidates for innocent verbal flubs that have little to nothing to do with how they would govern, but fair is fair and this gaffe deserves a fair amount of ridicule. Wonder what the Bosnians thought about this statement.

And as a commenter points out:
I'm so not the expert here but I think using Bosniaks is correct.

Burn. When the commenters at RedState are giving you overly polite corrections, you know you suck. Oh, and I really like how he admits that it's silly that a single verbal slip-up should be used against politicians, but that Biden deserves ridicule for it anyway. That's very big of him.

Oddly, he doesn't suggest that Palin be ridiculed for her "General McClellan" slip-up, which, in my mind, suggests someone who memorized a bunch of stuff but wasn't really familiar enough with the material to get the details straight. But there's no way that's the case, as Palin is from Alaska, which is on the same planet as both General McKiernan and Afghanistan. I'm sure she's the utmost expert on General McKiernan in the entire universe.