Thursday, July 30, 2009

Appeasing Israel

Would someone care to explain to me why we need to make Israel happy? I don't even buy into the idea that having them in the middle-east is some great strategic advantage for us, and think it's the exact opposite. Israel is one of the biggest problems we have in the middle-east. That's not to say I don't support their existence or anything, merely that I fail to understand their strategic importance to us or why we need to keep appeasing them. As with our embargo of Cuba, I believe our support of Israel is more about domestic politics than foreign policy and anyone who suggests otherwise is selling something.

But if their existence is somehow important to us, you'd think their existence would be even more important to themselves. And if our support of them makes their existence possible, then you'd think they'd owe it to us to keep us happy, not vice versa. And if our support isn't necessary for their existence and they're doing us a favor by accepting our support, then perhaps we should stop supporting them. That seems fairly obvious to me.

So I fail to understand why we need to be so concerned with keeping them happy. As I've said in the past, Israel is its own country with its own interests and that we should support them only as far as it benefits us. And that's their policy towards us too, so that shouldn't be a shocking thing to say. Yet all the same, the conventional wisdom seems to be that we not only need to support Israel, but also make them happy. It's as if they're the ones with all the power, instead of us.

And that's how you end up with idiotic columns in Newsweek suggesting that Obama send Bush to the middle-east as an envoy, based entirely on his ability to make Israel happy. But of course, the reason he made them happy is because he did stupid stuff we don't want Obama to do. And if he did what Obama wants him to do, Bush would be just as unpopular as anyone else we send. And as Carpetbagger pointed out, the real purpose of the article was probably to suggest that Obama be more like Bush and appease Israel; as if that worked out for us. And again, I fail to understand the logic of that.

If our support is required for their existence, then it's more important to them that we support them than it is to us. And that means they need to make US happy, not vice versa. That's how the game is played. I just wish the idiots at Newsweek understood that. Powerful nations shouldn't kowtow to their weaker allies, even if they are BFF's.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RedState Brain Food is No Brainer

As a member in good standing at RedState, I recently received the following email:
Conservative, Good news activists. The RedState Army now has a daily newsletter. It’s called the RedState Morning Briefing. Morning Briefing is where ideas are born, it’s grassroots, it’s to the point -- this is brain food straight from the RedState Headquarters delivered directly to your inbox. Try it for a week. It’s free. This one is a no brainer.

And I was so intrigued that I signed up. Now, I can get pointy grassroots ideas right where they're born. Brain food. Straight to my brain. It's a no-brainer and free, no less. I was afraid I'd have to pay $19.95 or more, but no. I can ideas right where they're born, for free. I can't wait. They had me at Conservative.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Governor ChatBot Resigns

Apparently, the purpose of running for political office is to run for political office, and if you're not running for a political office, you shouldn't hold a political office. Or so goes the reasoning of Sarah Palin's "obvious" rationale for resigning.

As she said in her final farewell address (we hope):
“Some still are choosing not to hear why I’m charting a new course to advance this state,” she said, adding that “it should be so obvious to you.”

“It is because I love Alaska this much, sir, that I feel that it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics-as-usual, lame-duck session in one’s last year in office,” Palin explained, reprising some of the rationale she laid out in announcing her decision to resign earlier this month.
Yes. It's all so obvious. If you're not running for re-election, you shouldn't be in office. Brilliant. Apparently, the purpose of democracy is to have popularity contests. And what's stupid is that it'd make much more sense if she just said that all the attacks on her were distracting her from office, which is why she was stepping down. But of course, that's what the scandal-ridden always say when a scandal chases them from office, so perhaps she was trying to avoid the cliche.

And of course, the most likely theory is that she's a computerized chatbot with pre-programmed phrases and is merely selecting these phrases at random from her stored memory. Because that's most definitely the way she talks, particularly with her unproductive, typical, lame-as-usual, empty phrase sessions. The wonder isn't that she's incoherent, but rather, that anyone imagines she's making any sense at all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why Haven't We Nuked Santa Yet?

I'm not saying that I believe in Santa Claus. I'm just saying that if we don't ask questions about why our government hasn't yet nuked the North Pole on the off chance Santa exists, they'll never do it. It's just common sense. If you've got this rogue dude flying into American homes and leaving unsolicited packages, it's a problem. And while I don't myself believe that this is happening, it only makes sense to wonder why our government hasn't yet tried to fix this problem that I don't believe is real. That's all.

I'm not supporting any theories at all here. Just asking questions that need answers and there's no harm in that. Lots of people believe in Mr. Claus, including our impressionable youths, so it just makes sense to ask questions about his existence and why we haven't yet ended it. But all the same, anyone still asking for Obama's birth certificate is absolutely nuts, and I say that as the guy who secretly wants to nuke Santa (not that I'd ever admit to it).

No harm in asking questions. The people with the agenda are the ones who won't ask.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

General Rule of Thumb

If someone can't quote you directly but has to use more inflammatory words to paraphrase what you said, what you said wasn't as inflammatory as they'd have you believe.

For example, saying that someone "acted stupidly" isn't the same as saying that the person is stupid. Everyone acts stupidly at one time or another, but that doesn't make us all stupid. And if Obama's "acted stupidly" quote was as offensive as his critics suggest, they would use that quote rather than paraphrasing his quote into something he didn't say.

The Police Power Trip

Regarding the black Harvard professor who was arrested for being mean to a cop, I really don't think this has much to do with race. I'm white, yet I find cops to be terrifying. Because in many respects, they have almost infinite power over your life and are permitted to do things to you that a judge or jury could never ever do.

Like taze you. It would be illegal for a judge or jury to punish you by tazing you, yet cops can do this simply because they don't like your attitude or because you didn't obey them quickly enough or just because you didn't understand what they said. And the only way it will ever be an issue is if it happens to be caught on video, and even then, you're unlikely to get sympathy from many people. And unless you die from it, a large portion of society will agree with the cop that you deserved it, and many people think even the deaths are deserved. Hey, at least he didn't shoot you.

And the thing is, this is all a tricky issue. I mean, cops need to have authority. Yet, they're still our employees. They're there to protect us, not scare us into obedience. And one of the quickest ways to get in trouble with a cop is to remind them of that. They're cops because they like being in charge and doing anything which suggests that they don't have complete control over you really pisses them off. They're like the ultimate street gang, which you just hope you don't get on the wrong side of.

Gates didn't get arrested because he was black. He got arrested because he tried to take control of the situation and cops hate that. While his skin color may have been a factor in his initial treatment, any of us would have been arrested once we tried to take authority away from the cop. Sure, it was Gates' house and he hadn't legally done anything wrong. But he tried to steal authority away from the cop and that's one of the most serious crimes in the eyes of police.

My Run-Ins with the Police

And while I'm sure race might make things worse, I've definitely received poor treatment from cops, yet I've always been a respectable looking white guy.

Like one time when me and a friend were walking along our quiet neighborhood one night and saw cops questioning a car full of guys. And because we were bored, we stood some distance away and watched. We weren't doing anything and weren't even close enough to hear anything they were saying. Yet after the cops dismissed the guys, they came over to us, asked us questions, and made us empty our pockets and show that we had nothing on us. Not because they thought we were doing anything wrong, but because we were watching them and they didn't like that.

Now, if either of us were black, I might assume this had something to do with race. But we weren't, so I can only assume it was part of their power trip. We were in our own neighborhood, actually standing on the edge of the college campus where my friend went to school, yet the cops didn't like that we were watching them. And because they have almost infinite power, they will punish anyone who doesn't do what they like.

My Headlight Offense

More recently, I got pulled over for having a burned-out headlight. Normally, cops won't care about that sort of thing. But this was on a special night in our neighborhood that the police have decided to crack down on, so they were looking for any excuse to pull people over.

And so the cop is questioning me about stupid stuff, like where I lived (even though she had my driver's license) and where I was going; probably trying to decide if I was drunk. But I didn't seem drunk, I guess, so another cop came up and asked me the same pointless questions, while a third cop started shining his flashlight through the tinted windows of my car, hoping to find something (beer cans or stolen TV's, I suppose). Not that they asked permission to search my car, but being terrified of police, I didn't want to create more problems by telling them to stop.

And yes, it took three cops in two cop cars to pull over a dude for a broken headlight in his own quiet neighborhood. They eventually decided I had done nothing wrong and let me go with a warning, yet delayed me almost ten minutes while I was on my way to pick up my daughter from work.

And again, were I black, I might assume this was about race. But because I'm a respectable looking white guy, driving a respectable looking mini-van, in a neighborhood full of respectable looking white people, I know this was about the power trip. The headlight was the excuse to pull me over so they could hope to find something to arrest me for. Needless to say, I replaced the headlight the next day, in order to avoid any future fishing expeditions.

Limitless Authority

And seriously, I can only think of one time when an on-duty cop was actually decent to me, and lots of times that they were complete jerk-offs. I've known off-duty cops as friends and they weren't jerks to me, but even they were a bit frightening. Like one off-duty cop working as a rent-a-cop where I worked who "joked" about using his club to smash my shins while we were watching baseball on his little TV. I knew it was a joke, yet all the same, I didn't think it was particularly funny.

And again, I understand their need for authority. I understand why they act the way they do. And when it's needed, I'm glad that they act the way they do. Yet, this power shouldn't be limitless. There shouldn't be an automatic assumption of innocence on the part of police, in which only a video of the incident can ever get them in trouble. Because I've definitely seen cops try to incite a reaction from the people they're questioning. And they will HATE you if you ask them questions or act like you have rights. To them, you don't.

And without a doubt, they want to arrest you. They want you to do something stupid. They want you to get pissed off and disrespect them or find any excuse to take you in. That's what it's all about. And they don't even necessarily care if the charges are dropped. They got to arrest you, thus firmly establishing their ultimate authority. That's why they became police. And again, while I find it necessary for cops to have authority, this authority shouldn't be nearly as limitless as it is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lessons in Democracy: Paying For Shit You Don't Like

And another thing about my dad's abortion beliefs, he firmly is against having to pay for abortions, and he is unanimous in that. And yet, when I pointed out to him that I didn't want to have to pay for the war in Iraq, he acknowledged it as a good point and thus ended the debate. But, when I was back a few weeks later, he said the same damn thing about not wanting to pay for abortions, as if we hadn't already gone over that before. And I again mentioned the war and he again acknowledged it as a good point and ended that part of the debate.

It's as if it hadn't occured to him before that we all pay for things we don't like and that our system of government isn't based upon us only financing the things we want financed. But of course, in our government, the majority picks people to represent our interests and we all agree to go along with whatever those representatives do (within certain limitations, of course). That's how it works. That's the system. And so you get stuck financing wars, abortions, Halliburton, welfare queens, and any number of other egregious things that chap your hide.

And while it's not a perfect system, at least we get to have some say in where our money goes, and that's the whole point. And if you feel that you'll never be part of the majority and don't like how things are run, leave. It's that simple. And sure, my dad could argue that he's a Veteran who fought for our country and somehow deserves special considerations. But no. Soldiers fight for our democracy, not their own personal dictatorships. And democracy today means paying for abortions, even if you don't like them.

The Price of Freedom

And the other part of this is that abortions are most definitely the cheap way out for my dad. According to this site, a first trimester abortion costs between $300-$600, while a second trimester abortion can go up to $5000. Not chump change. But in comparison to the cost my dad would have paid to have that fetus birthed, fed, educated, and quite possibly imprisoned; abortion is definitely the cheaper option.

Of course, my dad might not want to have to pay to birth, feed, and educate that fetus (the prisons he'll pay for). But too f-ing bad. That's not the deal. If he wants to get involved in the decision of this baby's birth, then he's reponsible for the outcome of that decision. And again, if he doesn't like it, there are definitely other countries which won't require him to pay for shit he doesn't like.

Somehow, I suspect he'll miss the stuff he does like, however. Like not living in a country full of stupid hungry children whose parents couldn't afford birth control. Sorry dad, but that's the price of freedom in America.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Freedom of Ignorance

Carpetbagger has a post about yet another Republican-generated scandal which was created entirely from their inability to comprehend things. In particular, some nimrod misread a report and thought the government paid $1.19 million for two pounds of ham, when they actually bought 760,000 pounds of two pound hams. And so every rightwinger who heard this went apeshit, finally having that nut they were looking to hit Obama with; completely unable to use critical thinking skills long enough to bother fact checking any of it.

And as I joked in a comment, I can't wait until I visit my folks for Thanksgiving and listen while my dad makes a few jokes about how we're having turkey because Obama made ham so expensive. And I'll have a polite smile on my face while I try to explain the truth to him, but he'll insist that he read the original contract and it was all there: Ten million dollars for one ham (yes, like a bad game of Telephone, he'll have goofed the details). And even if I get him to realize the truth, by Christmas, he'll be saying the same damn thing. That's just how it works.

But all the same, these sort of goofs are absolutely HORRIBLE for conservatives. While the base gobbles it up, anyone who isn't fervently anti-Obama will smell a hoax, which will create yet another divide between the sane and insane in our nation. It's been a long, long time since Republicans have truly benefited from a fake scandal.

Forced Abortion on Demand

But what's sad is that this actually describes a discussion I had with my dad on abortion when I visited a few weeks ago. This was part of the same discussion I described before, in which my father seemed uncomfortable with the idea of criminalizing abortion and didn't seem to realize that this was the position of his church and political party. Somehow, he never connected the anti-abortion position with any action he expected the government to do about it. It was about saving babies, not imprisoning doctors, nurses, or mothers for murder.

And in that discussion, he railed against the Freedom of Choice Act, which he demonized as supporting "abortion on demand" and asked me if I supported that. And I said that I naturally did. In fact, I can't quite figure out what's so scary about the phrase "abortion on demand." They use the phrase as if it's an ultimate evil, as if a mother could demand that other mothers get an abortion. Or perhaps the government would do forced abortions; which is the exact opposite of abortion on demand. But I stood my ground and he seemed taken aback that I would support such an evil proposition as the dreaded "abortion on demand."

And that's when he brought up FOCA, which he insisted would force all hospitals and doctors to perform abortions. And I immediately pushed back, saying that this was a myth and that it didn't do that. But he insisted that he had read the bill and it did exactly that. Now, knowing my father, I knew it was absolutely impossible that he read the actual bill; and that, more likely, he read a "paraphrase" of the bill in the stupid emails he gets all the time. Not that it's a long bill, but all the same, I was quite sure he hadn't really read it.

Catholics Debunk FOCA Lies

And so I actually had to go on Wikipedia and read the damn thing to him, particularly the part about how the Catholic News Service opposes the legislation but definitely doesn't think this will affect Catholic hospitals.

As the head of the Catholic Health Association said:
the legislation "has never contained anything that would force Catholic hospitals or Catholic personnel to do abortions or to participate in them."
Yet, my dad didn't know any of this. In fact, my ability to use the internet to research things absolutely amazed him. Not that he's technologically illiterate, as he was a computer expert going back into the early 70's and even now accesses the internet on his phone on a regular basis. He knows how to pay his bills online, but doing research on positions he firmly holds...inconceivable.

So he read the scary emails and I'm sure listened to radio shows which also got their information from the scary emails, and that was the end of it. No further research required than an anonymous email that even Catholic leaders reject. I swear, those wingnut emails are more influential than the Pope, even among Catholics.

Lies Upon Lies

Those emails also contain such insanity as suggesting that it'll lead to a future amendment which will "force women by law to have abortions in certain situations (rape, Down syndrome babies, etc.) and could even regulate how many children women are allowed to have." And that's probably what my dad thinks "abortion on demand" means. Slate's Melinda Henneberger actually promoted the moronic theory that Catholic churches would rather shutdown than perform abortions, and wouldn't even sell their hospitals to non-Catholics; an absolutely insane theory that CHA also firmly disputes.

The misinformation is just piled on here, with lies upon lies upon lies. Here's a crazy anti-FOCA website which lists all the "irreparable danger" FOCA will create, and uses a quote from Planned Parenthood to confirm that it's all true. But of course, PP's quote mentions everything except forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, which is the only truly scary item on the list. BTW, one of the funniest parts of all this is to read the horrors if parental notification laws are repealed. As if it requires more maturity to abort a child than to raise one.

But again, the sad thing is that these emails are far more influential than anything any of us can do. We can use internet to correct these lies, but all the same, the crazy will flow right back in like sand in a hole and they'll have forgotten everything we said; thanks partly to these anonymous emails. Not because they believe these emails to be the irrefutable word of God, but merely because the emails finally provide a reason for why these people hate Obama so much. They know they hate Obama. They just need to figure out why.

Round Table Conspiracies

One of the main reasons I don't believe in conspiracies is my faith in the incompetence of others. And so I read about a fairly botched cover-up by the CIA regarding a former DEA agent who says he was illegally wiretapped in 1993. I have no idea of the legitmacy of this case, but thought this part was interesting.
Horn says he became suspicious when he came back from a trip out of town to find his government-issued rectangular coffee table replaced with a round one.
Uh, yeah. That's a bit suspicious. Now, assuming there's something to this, what the fuck? You're planting a secret listening device into some dude's house, something that should be discrete and unnoticeable (or so I would imagine), and you have to replace the dude's coffee table to do it? Seriously? And it wasn't even the same shape? Incredible.

Or perhaps this guy's insane. Perhaps there was some perfectly good explanation for why his coffee table changed shape while he was out of town. Perhaps it was bored. Or perhaps this guy is totally insane and it was a round table the whole time. I don't know. Sure, you'd think if his case had no merit that the government wouldn't require a head and former head of the CIA to lie about it. But maybe it does. I don't know. This isn't really my area of expertise, not having been a spy or anything.

All I know is that people are f-ing crazy, aren't nearly as competent as they'd have you believe, and will generally do a far more piss poor job of covering anything up than you'd possibly imagine. The wonder isn't that we find out about conspiracies, but that anyone believes in them at all. Remember, either the CIA is incompetent for doing such a botched job in tapping this guy, or the DEA was incompetent for hiring an insane person. Either way, it doesn't speak well of the government's ability to keep a low profile.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Morning Discussion Questions

Sunday morning is the perfect time to contemplate why God did this to you. Discuss.

Christians gave us Sundays. Unions gave us Saturdays. Discuss.

Do you believe that God will punish Newt Gingrich the way he deserves to be punished? Why or why not?


Bonus Material:
God's purpose for Earth: Test of Morality, Test of Faith, or just screwing around.

Name three things God did wrong. Give specifics.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How Not to Run an Opposition Party

You've got to pick your fights. And reflexively opposing everything your opponent does is a mindlessly stupid tactic which most assuredly will hurt you, because it completely removes your capability to use strategy and plan your attack. And without that, you might as well just pack up and go home, because it's just a matter of time before your luck runs out and you lose. Republicans believe they can win this as a war of attrition, with every attack building on top of the last. But instead, every attack waters down the strength of any future attack, so mindless attacks are not only ineffective, but also counter-productive.

And sure, Republicans did pretty well in the 90's with their knee-jerk attacks and reflexive hyper-partisanship. It really paid off for them, so much so that it actually appeared to be some sort of strategy. But it wasn't. All that happened is that a bunch of jerk blowhards happened to be in the right place at the right time for jerk blowhards to succeed. The conservative exodus away from the Democratic Party was in full-swing and it appeared these guys could do no wrong.

Yet all the same, they sucked. In fact, everything after 1995 really sucked for them and they really didn't achieve much of their agenda. Sure, they impeached a president, but the whole point of that was simply to help them pass their agenda. But that never really happened. Even after winning the Whitehouse and owning a rubber-stamp Congress, kind Supreme Court, and obedient media, they still couldn't enact most of their agenda. It always must be remembered that conservatives had once planned to make enormous changes, like eliminate the Department of Education, destroy Social Security, dismantle all welfare programs, and all sorts of fantasy ideas that will never happen.

And instead, the best they got was a stupid war that crippled them politically and which was forced upon them by the neo-cons in the first place. And even Bush's budget busting tax cuts had to be sold with smoke & mirrors, with promises that they wouldn't be as expensive as they were or benefit the rich as much as they really did. If they had real power, they would have made the big cuts immediate and permanent. But even the hubris-filled Bushies knew better than to try that. Even now, they are forced to lie about Bush's tax cuts to make them sound less expensive than they were.

Hapless Republicans

And now with them out of power, they're utterly hapless. Even in the 90's, Republicans were extremely predictable, as they only had one play that they know how to run. And now it's ten years later and they're still running the same damn play. It's just a knee-jerk reflex to oppose anything Democrats want, and it keeps hurting them in the long run. And this is even more noticeable with Obama as president, as he's actually using Republican predictability to his advantage.

And so it's funny to read about how Sotomayor is likely to cruise to an easy confirmation. Because this was it. Conservatives drew their lines in the sand and were cuckoo over Sotomayor from the moment they heard the announcement. And they huffed and puffed and nothing. Nada. Zip. They probably even held their breath until they turned blue, but nobody cared enough to notice. As Carpetbagger notes, if anything, we know less about Sotomayor than before the hearings began. For as much as the Conservative Movement was upset with Sotomayor, they couldn't do a damn thing to stop her. Which was entirely predictable going back before her name was even mentioned, and why conservatives never should have even bothered.

And that's why you can't accept every fight. You should only pick fights that you have a good chance of winning. Because if you win, you look powerful and make it more likely you'll win in the future. But if you lose, you just demonstrate your impotence. And the harder you try, the more impotent you appear if you lose. And so by accepting bad fights, you're making it more likely you'll get stuck in bad fights in the future. Politics is all about expectations management, and if you're not actively honing expectations, you'll lose many more battles than you win.

The Backfire Offensive

And worst of all, your attacks might be so foul that you end up hurting yourself. And that's exactly what they've done with Sotomayor. They reflexively looked for the hardest material against her they could find, then fired it at her with both barrels and ended up looking like complete douchebags. Elmer Fudd couldn't have done it better.

Every time they screamed "Latina Racist" it hit them hard in the face. They heaped great scorn against the "wise Latina," but most folks were unlikely to get the reference and so it appeared to be a racist joke against dumb Latinos. But of course, that's the way it appeared because that's the way it was. They really were insulting Latinos. They really were mocking the idea that a Latina could be wise. And for as much as they wrapped it all up in tortured rationalizations by insisting that Sotomayor was an undeserving affirmative action racist, that merely displayed the level of their delusion; by imagining that anyone was fooled by this.

But of course, it's not just the confirmation hearing. They've been doomed from this sort of thing all year. They've been reflexively opposing Obama at every turn, with dismal results. Sure, they've made things difficult for him and clearly have some power. But all the same, the harder they try, the worse off they look. And that's because they have absolutely no strategy whatsoever and now have no capability for developing one. They're just acting on reflex and those reflexes are betraying them.

Conservatives have firmly established the principle that every fight is the last fight, which is why they can't decline a challenge. And they'll continue to throw everything they've got at anything they can hit; oblivious to the damage it does to themselves. And they're becoming increasingly angry that the harder they try, the worse they do. And that just makes them more reflexively stupid, and more likely to do something stupid, which just makes things worse. And I see no easy out for them on this.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pat Buchanan: Zero-Sum Idiot

Pat Buchanan is an idiot. Carpetbagger has a post about how Buchanan is seriously arguing that Republicans would do best if they race-baited against Hispanics in order to woo more white people. Buchanan's argument is that:

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate's Hispanic vote.
[....]
But even Ronald Reagan never got over 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Yet, he and Richard Nixon both got around 65 percent of the white vote.
And we're to imagine that these are the same white people who are voting today, and that McCain should have wooed those same white voters that Nixon and Reagan got. But of course, even Reagan's most recent victory was twenty-four years earlier, and many more of these Reagan voters will be dead by the next election. And that's not to mention that Nixon and Reagan were at the beginning of the Southern Strategy, back before the non-racists realized what sort of party they were voting for.

And the problem is, are there whites left who don't realize that Republicans are racist? I mean, of the 43% of whites who voted for Obama, were a few of them anti-black bigots who rejected McCain because he wasn't racist enough? Because it seems to me that the Republicans have just about all the racists they're going to get and it'd be damn difficult to even squeeze an extra 1% of whites by being more racist. And if electing a black president wasn't enough to scare the racists into voting Republican, I honestly can't imagine what would do it.

And sure, yeah, Bush, Reagan, and Nixon got more whites than McCain, but is there some evidence to suggest that this was because they were more racist than McCain? Or that racists were more likely to reject Kerry than Obama? That seems extraordinarily unlikely. Statistically, it should be argued that Obama was simply more popular than Kerry was, so it just made sense he'd get more white people. I doubt McCain lost the racists to Obama.

Wrong Side of Demographics

And of course, even his basic numbers are wrong. Sure, whites made up a much larger percentage of the population than Hispanics, but that includes lots of deeply Republican states that McCain was assured victory in. New Mexico, on the other hand, had 41% Hispanic vote and soundly went to Obama after repeat Bush victories. Similarly, Florida had 14% Hispanic vote, which is twice as much as the nationwide total Buchanan used for his calculations. Winning an extra racist in Mississippi isn't a zero-sum game with losing an Hispanic in Florida. For Republicans, such a trade-off would be a definitely loss.

And as I'm sure you know, these demographics are just getting worse for Republicans. Even in Texas, which is a mandatory win for any Republican nominee, only 63% voters were white, with 20% Hispanic. By contrast, Texas voters were 73% white in 2000, and only 10% Hispanic. It's as if that 10% shift went directly from whites to Hispanics in just eight years. Sure hate to be on the wrong side of that trend.

And Obama won the under 30 vote in Texas, and did well with the 30-40 age bracket. But it wasn't because young white Texans were voting for Obama (they didn't), but because so many young voters were minorities. 7% of Texas voters were blacks or Hispanics under 30, while 9% were whites under 30. Can you imagine how different presidential politics will be if this trend continues and Texas some day has almost as many minority voters as whites? This isn't at all unlikely.

But please, Mr. Buchanan, feel free to alienate these voters as much as possible, as 30% of them were dumb enough to vote Republican. That's the same number of young whites who voted for McCain, so by Buchanan's logic, this is a even swap. But of course, I somehow doubt the 30% of whites who voted for Obama did so because McCain wasn't racist enough, so I doubt there will be any swapping going on here.

Not All Whites Are Racist

And really, Buchanan's problem is that he's looking at the wrong numbers. It's not about how many whites there are compared with non-whites. We need to look at how many racists there are, versus non-racists. Unfortunately, that's generally not a question asked during exit polls.

Because lots of white people also reject race-baiting, and so you can't include them in the numbers of whites who race-baiting might woo. Sure, 74% of voters were white. But 43% of those voted to elect our first black president. I suspect race-baiting is unlikely to work on them. Indeed, my calculations suggest that Buchanan's strategy actually risks offending almost 54% of voters, in order to woo a shrinking demographic of racists. Not that many of that 54% was within Republican reach, but again, there aren't a lot more racists left to woo either.

But of course, all this is a long way of saying that Buchanan is an idiot. Besides being entirely immoral, his rationale for race-baiting is a strategic error, as it merely doubles-down on a racist gambit that has already shown itself to be counter-productive. As Carpetbagger suggested, it appears that Pat Buchanan isn't aware of the fact that many white people actually reject racism. And if any racists haven't figured out yet which party is the one for them, then they're obviously too stupid to vote.

True, Buchanan's race baiting might possibly attract new converts. But at this point, they're losing ten votes for every one they might possibly gain. Sorry Pat, but you've already got the racists and it's clearly a shrinking demographic that already wasn't enough to defeat a black presidential nominee. Like it or not, America is a tolerant nation and the bigot vote is simply too expensive for a party with national aspirations. But as with Carpetbagger, I certainly hope Republicans are dumb enough to follow Buchanan's advice to the end.


[Full Disclosure: I was eating Mexican food when I wrote this, which might explain my pro-Latino bias in this post.]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Biobrain Hearts Torture Probes

There's something intrinsically wrong when you see the headline: Holder Considering Torture Probe. I mean, really. What is he holding, and who probes for torture anymore?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Abortion Talk with my Parents

So I'm staying with my folks for a few days as another pseudo-vacation with my kids (Six Flags sucks ass), and got into a conversation with both of them independently about the issue of abortion. Now, they're both pro-life devout Catholics and really buy into all that stuff. My dad is a Deacon in the Church, which gives him the power to baptise, marry, and bury people; sometimes at the same time. These two are firm in their beliefs and are totally old school about the whole thing.

But oddly enough, in both cases, neither of them felt comfortable when I asked them if abortion should be illegal. It wasn't even meant to be a "gotcha" kind of question at all, as I was trying to lead my point somewhere else, yet both of them hesitated when I asked and clearly felt uncomfortable with the idea. My dad went so far as to say that he doesn't think abortion should be illegal, and he didn't believe me when I suggested that Republicans want to make it illegal. Now, this is the same dad who doubted Obama's citizenship, based partly on a misunderstanding of which of Obama's parents was from Kenya. So while his conservative views are entrenched, they're not necessarily the best informed.

And yet, I suspect that this is the case with quite a few people. Their opposition to abortion is firm and they're more than happy to talk about third trimester abortions until the cows come home, yet when it comes to the actual issue of punishment, these people really aren't thinking this through all the way. Hell, they didn't even want to talk about how their position uses the government to impose this on people.

Because yeah, sure, abortions aren't the best option in the world. In fact, they're a pretty piss poor option for dummies who forgot to use a rubber. But...when it comes to imprisoning doctors for committing abortions, that's really just not their style. Nobody gets an abortion without a good reason. Sadly, my mom disagreed with that, though I don't think she knew what she was saying.

Oh yeah, Six Flags sucks ass.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Interrogation of Victoria

You'd be stupid if you didn't read my Nihilist Action Alert for the capture of Victoria Jackson. And you'd be even stupider if you didn't read my follow-up, in which I discuss the capture and interrogation of Victoria Jackson. It would be a big mistake to miss this.

And if you didn't already, be sure to re-read my piece on Obama Independence Day, though I'm sure it's not necessary, as all of you were there at the time. It was definitely a very "happy" Obama Day, indeed.

And finally, you won't want to miss my double pieces on homosexuality: The Myth of Homosexuality and The Gaying of RedState. There will be three quizzes on this topic tomorrow night, so please take notes.

And the dumbest thing you could do would be to not follow my wonderful Twitter feed. Read my twits.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Why Palin is Out

Yahoo's blog has a analysis piece about how Sarah Palin is "Out, but not down" because lots of Republicans still like her even after she resigned, and only 30% of those polled changed their opinion of her because of her announcement (and come on, for 30% of folks to change their opinion of a well-known person is HUGE).

But the entire analysis is flawed. Because the "Holy shit, she's fucking crazy" factor of her decision was the least of her troubles. This isn't just about whether her supporters will continue to support her immediately after she makes a crazy decision. Of course they will. They were batshit crazy before she resigned and I see no reason why her resignation would make them any more sane.

But the bigger issue is that she won't be governor anymore. And that changes everything. Were the election next year, this could work. But she can't seriously start running for another two years and will be unemployed until then. And for as much as she's likely to stay in contact with her base doing speeches and stuff, she'll be out of the limelight. And that's death to an attention-hound like Palin. Fame is all she has.

I mean, even as governor, she had so much trouble ginning up publicity that she had to keep turning to public feuds in order to stay newsworthy. But now without a respectable day job, she's purely a sideshow. She'll no longer be the crazy attention-seeking governor of Alaska, but now the crazy attention-seeking ex-governor who stepped down without explanation. She had a hard enough time looking respectable as governor. This didn't help.

No One Likes the Indefensible

And believe it or not, but conservatives aren't nearly as hardcore as they pretend to be. They're influenced by events outside of themselves. No one wants to defend the indefensible. They can if they must, but they'd rather not. And having quit early, they just won't have much to defend her with. Even a one-term governorship isn't a strong record to stand on for someone with as few accomplishments as Palin. But a partial term that she quit??

As a reminder, even her defenders insisted that her lousy resume was acceptable because she was only running for VP, and would learn from "the master." And that resume didn't get any better since then, and is definitely not getting any better now. Instead, it's just going to get more stale. She'll stay on the talk circuit, giving speeches about how victimized she is, and the core base will eat it up. But even they will have a hard time defending their support of her as a convincing presidential nominee. They'll still love her, but they'll be hard pressed to explain to anyone why.

I predict that, assuming she even has the gumption to run, she's going to be the Giuliani of 2012. She'll be on everyone's top five list and maintain a respectable following in the polls leading into the primaries, but she'll be stale and unable to break out of that base following. Even as it is, only 67% of Republicans polled said they want to see Palin stay on the national scene, and that's based on what people think of her now. I don't see how she's improving on that number, and the more she slips from the daily news, the more that'll drop.

And that's too bad, as I'd love to see a Obama v. Palin match-up in 2012. But I just can't see that happening. A half-term governor with a thin resume was fairly indefensible as a VP nominee. A half-term ex-governor who hasn't done anything but talk to her cultish followers is a complete joke. And that's even assuming that the general reaction of her in two years isn't "Oh yeah, I remember her. Wasn't she the crazy lady who suddenly quit her job without a reason?"

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Roger Simon's Political Commandments

In my last post, I wrote about Politico's Roger Simon and his snarky defense of Sarah Palin's resignation, attacking her critics and their "commandments" that she broke. And what's idiotic about these "commandments" is that I've never heard of them before. They're merely items that Simon thought of for this particular incident and wants to pretend these are hard & fast rules of conduct in the world of politics.

And in that, we're supposed to believe that she was acting like us regular folks, which should make the media's hatred of her more endearing for us. And no, Palin isn't being attacked for breaking these "commandments." She's being attacked because she's a moron who, according to her supporters, made an epicly moronic decision. So here are Simon's three commandments.

Thou Shalt Not Surprise the Media

Don't surprise the media? Palin's very nomination was a HUGE surprise to the media, and they loved her...at first. The surprise was hailed as a stroke of genius, and after her convention speech, lots of folks thought the tide of the election had turned in McCain's favor thanks to his surprise pick for VP. And no, it wouldn't have mattered how many trial balloons and pre-announcement announcements she had made beforehand, it was a crazy idea no matter what.

And of course, he's got this backwards. Palin's resignation doesn't seem batshit crazy because it was unexpected. It was unexpected because it was such a batshit crazy thing to do that nobody could have predicted that she'd do it. And it didn't get any less crazy after she did it. Similarly, no one expects me to try to jump off a bridge, and they'd consider me crazy for not explaining afterwards why I did it. That's what explanations are meant to do: Make people understand why you did something.

Oddly, Simon cites Bob Dole's resignation from the Senate as proof that it's normally considered acceptable to quit office to run for president. Except, Dole quit because he had just won the Republican nomination, quitting on June 11 after the last primary ended on June 4. And even still, as this CNN article from the time says, Dole didn't want to step down, but was pressured to do so by his aides and fellow Republicans. Dole didn't do this to "run for president," as Simon suggests, but because he was already the Republican nominee and was getting his butt kicked.

Palin, on the other hand, hasn't said she did this to run for president. In other words, this was an entirely different situation. Perhaps if Palin had admitted that she did this for 2012 it would seem less bizarre. But Simon later insisted that he doesn't think she did this for 2012, so he shouldn't even get to use this comparison. He insists that even Palin doesn't know why she stepped down, but again, this is very reassuring and not at all bizarre.

Thou Shalt Not Upset the Pooh-bahs

This one is odd, as I fail to see how Palin's resignation would "upset" the "pooh-bahs." If anything, I'm sure they're quite happy about it. They didn't want her as the candidate, so they're more than happy that she decided to end her career early. This was as upsetting for them as it was for Obama when McCain "suspended" his compaign. But then again, I just did a quick search and see that Simon thought McCain's suspension wasn't "as dumb or as desperate as it looks." Uh, yeah, it was.

And seriously, it's obvious that the Republican Party "Pooh-bahs" have a pretty damn low standard when it comes to their candidates (George W, anyone?), and the only thing Palin did to offend these pooh-bahs was that she was a narcissitic loonball who betrays her allies and refuses to learn the party's version of reality. And in politics, that's a death sentence. They're happy to accept narcissistic loonballs, but they have to be their loonballs.

He also tosses out the attacks on Palin's rambling resignation speech, by saying she's "plain-spoken." And he acts like that's a good thing. And we're to imagine that this fits into the "don't upset the Pooh-bahs" commandment? Huh? I think this fits into the Thou Shalt Not Sound Like a Moron commandment that people only adopted after Bush proved it necessary.

But at least Bush tried to gain a basic grasp of the issues at hand. Palin works entirely in empty soundbites and cliches. While Bush reveled in the clever half-truths he was fed, Palin resents the very concept of truth. She's like Bush, but without the shred of empathy needed to know how to lie properly.

Thou Shalt Pander to the Few, Not Speak to the Many

This one is the funniest, as all Simon does is quote John Weaver suggesting that Palin can't expand her base, to which Simon responds by pointing out that the shrinking Republican Party means that Palin's base makes her the most powerful Republican in the party. In other words, Simon says that Palin is being attacked for only talking to the few, while ignoring the many.

And I agree with that completely. Palin's appeal is extremely limited. And for as much as dopes like Simon want to imagine that Palin is a plain-spoken regular person who upsets the Establishment due to her great appeal to the masses; the truth is that Palin has no such appeal. The majority of people do not flock to Palin or appreciate her for being a regular person. She's a rockstar with the very few who are more ignorant of the issues than she is. And the more she tries to talk to the many, the worse she does with them.

And that's the thing: For as much as Palin and her supporters are trying to cast this as her behaving like a regular person; regular people don't do this either. We don't quit our jobs without explanation. We don't make epic changes in our lives without thinking of the consequences. This isn't just weird in the world of politicians and pooh-bahs. This is weird to the rest of us too.

And Simon would know this, if he lived in the real world, rather than the bubble he created for himself. But of course, that's one of the groups who like Palin the most: The ones who are out of touch with rural life, but want to imagine it has something to do with the type of person Palin is.

Thou Shalt Not Quit Thy Day Job

Poor Sarah Palin. When anyone else quits their job unexpectedly and without reason, everyone pats them on the back and tells them how awesome they are. Yet for some reason, when Sarah Palin quits, people keep asking her why she quit. And when she doesn't give them a rational response, they start doubting her rationality and speculating about what the reason might possibly be. How odd.

And now Politico's Roger Simon mockingly writes:
Sarah Palin is a sinner. She has violated several commandments and thoroughly
deserves the savage beating that she is now getting from political mandarins and
media elites.
And yes, what a "savage beating" it is. I mean, people asking questions. And speculating. Endless speculation, which is then followed by more unanswered questions. Simon even quotes CNN's Rick Sanchez daring to speculate that Palin's pregnant. Does it get any more savage than that? I'm sure Obama and his terrorist pals feel much sympathy for Palin's plight. Nothing is more insulting than to speculate that a mother might be pregnant again.

Crazy Like a Crazy Person

What is it about Palin's spontaneous resignation from politics that people find "bizarre"? I mean, sure, even a Palin fan like Simon doesn't understand why she quit and offers in her defense that he thinks she did this without any forethought about her future. But what's odd about that? As Simon says:
Having said all this, I do not think Palin is being crazy like a fox. I don’t think she has planned out what she will do in 2012. I think she has quit her job, is doing what she wants to do and is reserving judgment about her future.
Yes, this is certainly an admirable trait in someone who has aspirations of becoming the most powerful person in the world. No plans. No strategy. Just quit her job and doesn't even want to think about the future. Ahh, how refreshing. Just like us regular folks, who quit our day jobs with no plans for the future. This is my kind of candidate and I'm an idiot. Seriously. She wasn't being crazy like a fox. She was just being crazy. There's a difference.


P.S. I'm still holding out for some giant scandal announcement, which would make me have far more faith in Palin's sanity than her current explanation offers.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I'm on Twitter

Ok, I did it. I'm hip. I just got on Twitter, and now am a twittling maniac. Seriously. You can read my twits that I wrote for the sole purpose of having something to put on Twitter. Trust me, there won't be anything important written there, but it probably won't suck. You won't regret it.

There are no guarantees in life, and that includes my Twit feed.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Quote of the Day

Former McCain campaign advisor John Weaver, in regards to Palin's resignation, following embarrassing scandals by GOP presidential hopefuls Senator Ensign and Governor Sanford:
"The way we are going, if you are the Junior Jaycees president in Memphis you
could be in line for the nomination."

Funny, cause it's true. But of course,let's not forget the real joke: This is how they ended up with Palin in the first place. After Bush, the Republican bench was so lightweight that a half-term governor of an isolated state was the biggest "star" they had. But hey, she also received a whopping 909 votes to win a landslide victory for her second term as Mayor, and there aren't a lot of Junior Jaycees who can say that. After that, two years as governor of Alaska was merely icing on the presidential cake.

Seriously though, this is a big reason why worries of Republican dynasty were always greatly exaggerated. After George W, there just wasn't anyone the base would love who could be trusted by the establishment. And with the Bush name in shambles, I'm not sure if that'll happen again any time soon. And while McCain tried to thread the needle by having a running mate the base could love, even that wasn't good enough for the sensible establishment-types running the party. The Republican base absolutely refuses to allow sense to have anything to do with their party, and I support them in that entirely.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Republican Governing Strategy: Run like Hell

Carpetbagger's got a post regarding Republican attacks on Senator Franken (yeah, it felt nice to write that), referring to him as a "clown" who is too extremist and nonserious to be in Congress (as if these bozos somehow passed some magical seriousness test). And Carpetbagger's right in saying that they're still reliving the election, by spewing attacks that clearly didn't resonate with the voters of Minnesota back when they had a chance of making a difference.

But of course, this is exactly what they're still doing to Obama, as well as all the other Democrats in and out of office. Because that's all they know how to do: Run for office. And ironically, that clearly wasn't enough, as people started noticing that these bozos don't actually get anything done in office; and so they started losing in spite of their one big skill. But that's all they know, so that's all they can do.

So here we are, over half a year after the election, yet still getting election material. And sure, while it can also be used as part of a strategy to stop Democrats from passing their agenda, that's only a side effect.

How Not to Govern

And so they're still busy trying to brand Franken as an extremist clown and Obama as a fascist socialist Muslim. Yet, rather than getting these memes ingrained in the public's mind, the repetition only serves to weaken the poison. By the end of the year, I predict that the Q Score for Nazi Muslim clowns will be at an all-time high. (Good news for Squiggles bin F├╝hrer, no doubt.)

And what they should have been doing is demonstrating their ability to work with others and govern responsibly. They should be pitting themselves as sensible alternatives to Obama, instead of crazed obstructionist fear-mongers. Similarly, Carpetbagger's got a post about how Palin is resigning, and how she totally did the wrong thing by playing up public feuds, rather than biting the bullet and governing effectively.

But again, that's something modern Republicans don't know anything about. All they know how to do is smear the people "victimizing" them and their base. And any attempt at truly sensible governing would clearly force them to adopt positions too "socialist" for their base to accept. So the perpetual election campaign is their only option. And the more they use it, the less effective it will be. Pity, that.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Anyone who sees health insurance as a privilege is a moron.

I don't even like getting sick with insurance. Being without it, illness wasn't an option.

Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, War in Iraq, Cheeseburger

In my last post, I quoted Bush from an interview he gave at a coffeeshop in Crawford a few months before the war, in which he pretended as if the decision to go to war hadn't already been made. But to get that quote, I found this CNN transcript which was utterly pitiful.

I mean, the man had just lied repeatedly about the biggest topic of the day. The war in Iraq will be a legacy that will haunt Bush's presidency until people stop talking about him. And in that quote, he insisted that he really wanted peace, but that Saddam was making it impossible. Here's another quote from that day:

Again, I hope this Iraq situation will be resolved peacefully. One of my New Year's resolutions is to work to deal with these situations in a way so that they're resolved peacefully. But thus far it appears that on first look that Saddam Hussein hadn't heard the message.
See? He's no war monger. Saddam is. And if Saddam had just gotten rid of the weapons that he had already gotten ridden of, Bush could have gotten his New Years resolution of peace that year. And the whole interview was pathetic. Sure, some good questions. But all answered with lies. followed by jokes about four mile hikes and cheeseburgers.

Typical George W. Bush

But that's not the truly sad part. The truly sad part is when the CNN boneheads started talking about the footage they just saw. Again, by the end of 2002, everyone knew we were going to war with Iraq. It was a done deal, and all that was happening at that point was the sales pitch. And while it's hard for reporters at the scene to call the president a liar to his face, we all knew that he was lying. But what did the dummies at CNN talk about? Cheeseburgers.

KYRA PHILLIPS: Typical George W. Bush style, making a serious point, in addition to having fun with reporters there. He's not on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, but outside a coffee shop, where, of course, reporters follow him everywhere he goes, asking him about Iraq, making comments.

Our Suzanne Malveaux wasn't at the coffee shop, but she is there at the ranch, listening, hearing these comments for the first time. Suzanne, I want to know if you're going to take him up on the invitation for a four-mile hike?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, I'd love to, maybe even a run, if he extends the invitation. But as you mentioned before, President Bush talking anywhere from cheeseburgers to North Korea.

[....edited out pointless recap of North Korea]

Of course, he contrasted that with the situation of Iraq, saying, again, he did not expect that Saddam Hussein would disarm. He also brought the fact that he has defied the international community on various occasions through broken resolutions.

He went on to say that his New Year's resolution would be that conflicts be resolved peaceful will you, but said Saddam Hussein has not heard the message. What was interesting, the president also talked about the cost of the war. We have not heard this from President Bush. We've heard about how difficult it would be for him to make the decision, whether or not this country would go to war, the human cost. Today, he talked about it in terms of economic terms, saying this economy cannot afford an attack. He also went on to say that an attack by Iraq or a surrogate would cripple the U.S. economy. So all of these points, the president making, and, of course as you mentioned before, his New Year's resolution, trying to keep off those cheeseburgers -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You can go on the nature hike; I'll eat the cheeseburgers. Suzanne Malveaux, live from Crawford, Texas, thank you.

So, they had the chance to discuss the most important issue of the day, but instead gave us a reminder of what a fun president Bush is, sandwiched with a regurgitation of Bush's lies without even a hint of questioning them. She even talked as if the decision to go to war hadn't already been made, and what a tough decision that would be; due to the "human cost." Oh, George Bush. What a humanitarian!

Even the stuff about the economy she mentioned was a sick joke. Bush was asked a good question asking how we could afford war during a recession, and Bush just kept repeating that it would cost us more to not go to war, because Saddam will attack us. And the reporter asking the question clearly knew he was being spun, yet Malveaux obviously thought it was a good point and just repeated it mindlessly.

Now, I'm not suggesting she call the president a liar, but you'd think she'd at least have mentioned how he ducked the question, or how his answer only made sense if we were definitely going to be attacked by Iraq. I mean, the war did hurt the economy, just as expected, and you'd think the CNN talkingheads would have wanted to talk about predictions of that happening, just to have something interesting to talk about.

But, no. Saddam was going to attack us, and it just made sense that an attack would cost more than war. Simple as that. And hey, how about them cheeseburgers?

How Not To Tip Your Hand

One of the big problems Obama has is that liberals have become too accustomed to getting lip service from politicians on both sides of the aisle, and in particular, are accustomed to the way Bushies played rhetorical word games with how they described their support of an issue. And we get so accustomed to the codewords and headfakes that they automatically interpret everything similar as such.

For example, Bush always pretended as if he didn't want to invade Iraq, right up until the moment the bombs started dropping; and then it became the most important mission in history. As a sad reminder, here's Bush on December 31, 2002, when asked about "a possible war with Iraq looming" while at a coffeeshop in Crawford (partial audio here):

And the American -- this government will continue to lead the world toward more peace, and the American people need to be mindful of the fact that our government is committed to peace and committed to freedom. And we hope to resolve all the situations in which we find ourselves in a peaceful way. That's my commitment, to try to do so peacefully. But I want to remind people that Saddam Hussein, the choice is his to make as to whether or not the Iraqi situation resolved peacefully.

You said we're headed to war in Iraq. I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq.

I'm the person who gets to decide, not you. And I hope this can be done peacefully.

We have got a military presence there to remind Saddam Hussein, however, that when I say we will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him if he chooses not to disarm, I mean it.

Huh. I wonder how that turned out. And of course, by then everyone knew we were headed to war in a few months. But Bush knew he had to pretend otherwise, lest he gave up the pretext that it was all Saddam's fault. And the media went along with it and didn't even mind when Bush would continue to blame Saddam for many more years. And so the media betrayed every semblance of common sense and was forced to pretend as if the decision hadn't already been made.

And so when Obama doesn't draw a line in the sand on the public option, but instead only describes his support as "strong," it sends up red flags that he's about to sell us out. Same for issues like gay rights and saving Social Security. He uses many of the same words that the liars use when they want to lie; in according with media rules which say that it's not a lie if you use agreed upon codewords that might sound like the exact opposite of what you really mean. And so it's only natural for people to be suspicious when Obama sounds the same way.

Target in the Sand

And while there should always be reason to watch Obama cautiously when he doesn't take a definitive stand, it needs to be seen from the other side: If Obama draws a line in the sand on ANY issue, it sends out a strong message to Republicans to do everything they can to defeat him, in order to damage his reputation for getting things done. Any unbending stance by Obama on the public option or gay marriage or Social Security will just make it more likely that we get defeated.

As it is, Republicans already have plenty of reasons to oppose him on these issues. But by staking his political reputation on any specific policy, he's drawing a giant target on himself. And if we get anything short of his stated goal, the media will rant endlessly about how crippled and powerless Obama is. And there's no upside to this, as Democrats won't see a line in the sand as being a requirement for them, and the "centrist" types are likely to see it as a challenge, for them to demonstrate their "centrism" by going against Obama.

And this is how all negotiations work. It's never a good idea to signal to your opponent which issue they can target you on. And for as frustrating as that is for us outsiders, who can't mindread Obama's true intentions, it's unfortunately necessary. And while this is the same thing the Bushies did when they wanted to go to war with Iraq or privatize Social Security, we've got to hope that Obama's doing it for our benefit; not against it. It'd be nice if he could send us special signals that only we could understand, but that's not how it works. The more he assures us about something, the more he's signaling Republicans on where they should hurt him.

And the best we can do is have faith that Obama is intelligent enough to understand why he needs to pass these policies. So far, he's shown himself to be the smartest politician in our generation. Only time will tell if he was smart enough.