If Only To Halt The Tide Towards The Idiocracy

Obama 2008

I rarely vote for a presidential candidate based on his or her own merits. Inevitably, I’ve learned that they will always disappoint once in office, like most other politicians, and all I can hope for is someone who will at least stem the tide of overwhelming stupidity and acceptance of ignorance in political culture and our dealings with the world, if only for a few years. This has largely meant voting a straight Democratic Party ticket, and will again tomorrow, for reasons I will elaborate on — but regardless of whether you agree with me or not, please go out and vote tomorrow. It’s the least you can do as a citizen.

That Democratic Party ticket has not come without some head-hanging, usually at the lack of spine present in its politicians, particularly those selected to run for the Oval Office. This has been the case since I first became eligible to vote: Al Gore, John Kerry, even back to Michael Dukakis before him and my time as a voter — all Democrats, all withotut that much of a political fighting bone in their bodies.  Bill Clinton, despite the things I didn’t like about him economically, at least fought for the basic ideals behind the domestic goals.

Now, at least Barack Obama is a fighter, and I’ll be able to vote with a clear head and for someone as opposed to a vote completely against John McCain. But tomorrow is a chance to repudiate the noxious mess of the past eight years, where George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and a cadre of cads basically decided post-9/11 that a perversion of the Constitution in favor of extreme power of the executive branch was necessary and what they desired.  What died on their watch: habeus corpus, our refusal as a nation to torture, the respect of other countries, and the concept of sound policy — all thrown into the fire as a sacrifice to Karl Rove’s eternal campaign. Essentially, that eternal campaign left us with one unnecessary war that distracted from the real fight, the denial of science and logic in favor of pure ideological ignorance, and, in the complete denouement of more than two decades of voodoo economics, the current economic meltdown, in which we should be thrilled if it manages to only be a recession.

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So-Called “Accidental” Racism

How would you translate this graphic below, which apparently is good enough to be made into flyers by Republicans in the Inland Empire?

I would have gone with “Obama is a nigger,” but that’s just me.

From the Press-Enterprise:

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

The GOP newsletter, which was sent to about 200 members and associates of the group by e-mail and regular mail last week, is drawing harsh criticism from members of the political group, elected leaders, party officials and others as racist.

Good, that’s a start. But this is the mentality of way too many people overall (I don’t mean Republicans or Democrats), and it still exists in this country, sadly.  And the group’s president, Diane Fedele, is not exactly helping herself with her defense. She says she’s going to issue an apology, which is still insufficient, considering her obvious inability to identify stereotypes (that’s probably being too kind.)

She said she simply wanted to deride a comment Obama made over the summer about how as an African-American he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

“It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of his statement. I really don’t want to go into it any further,” Fedele said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I absolutely apologize to anyone who was offended. That clearly wasn’t my attempt.”

Fedele said she got the illustration in a number of chain e-mails and decided to reprint it for her members in the Trumpeter newsletter because she was offended that Obama would draw attention to his own race. She declined to say who sent her the e-mails with the illustration.

She said she doesn’t think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

Dear Lord.  “I voted for a black person before, so I don’t think in racist terms.”  That excuses you from re-printing the worst stereotypes in a graphic image? Please.

Tactics Rather Than Strategy Mean A Loss

This is essentially what happened to John McCain last night: he hit a few notes early, going on the offensive (the “I am not President Bush” line was a good zinger, but Barack Obama had a good response to it), but seemed to flag as the debate wnet on, after he’d used that, the ACORN and Bill Ayers bits, and pleading such crocodile tears at offense to Rep. John Lewis‘ remarks over the tenor of the audience at his rallies. But, save a few good smiles in response from Obama (nice teeth, Barry, I’d like to meet your dentist), he didn’t really dent or faze him, and he needed to make Obama lose his cool to be effective.

But, if you thought the culture wars were dead or at least took a backseat in this election, you can thank or curse moderator Bob Schieffer for bringing them back up, by starting with a question about the Roe v. Wade “litmus test” bit about judicial nominees.  Eventually, it got to partial-birth abortion, and McCain’s attitude is the kind of attitude that keeps me voting Democratic every four years.

Apparently now the health of a woman during a pregnancy is now only a code word so pro-abortion advocates can get women in the clinic. It’s not a serious matter of whether the woman could die because of her child. From this attitude, we may also presume that it’s not much of a stretch to say that McCain doesn’t think it’s a big deal if a woman has to bring the baby left her by her rapist to term, etiher — Sarah Palin wears that opinion proudly. In short, the slogan ought to be: “All Your Uterus Are Belong To Us.” Think of that for your sisters, girlfriends, wives, or daughters.

(I’m really not going to go into the dissonance required to be so actively pro-life, yet be hard-core, law-and-order folk that are okay with the death penalty — or the inconsistency of seeing that a baby is carried to term, yet barely concerned with what happens to it afterwards.)

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Leaving The Sinking Ship In Style

There are few things as satisfying as watching a fucktard like David Frum get his ass handed to him by Rachel Maddow when he accuses her show of fomenting hate similar to the crap being spewed by the audience members at recent rallies for John McCain and Sarah Palin. After you’ve watched the clip, consider the hackery necessary to make such accusations:

Frum, you’ll recall, is the one who penned the phrase “axis of evil”  for President George W. Bush a few years backfor his State of the Union address. After departing the cozy confines of 1600 Pennsylvania, he then funded smear campaigns against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when she visited Syria and decided to play amateur psychiatrist with former VP Al Gore when he criticized Bush’s foreign policy.

So you’ll have to pardon me if I find it laughable that this member of the GOP intelligentsia is joining the very slim ranks of those who aren’t pleased with the choice of Palin and saying it doesn’t look good for McCain because of it. This group includes columnist Kathleen Parker, NYT op-ed writer David Brooks, and author Christopher Buckley, who appears to have been booted/resigned from the column at the magazine his father founded for his trouble in saying he would vote for Barack Obama.

I’ve noticed something after reading for the past week or so, these admissions of concern — a lot of it revolves around Palin’s lack of intelligence or intellectual curiosity, perfectly valid points and worth questioning.  However, I have a question for Frum, Parker, Brooks and their ilk*: where the fuck were you the past eight years with the current occupant of the White House, if this was such a problem?

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Rope-A-Dope, Revisited

What debate #2 essentially boiled down to was a collection of attempted jabs, no haymakers, no whipping out any of the stuff referenced in the campaign ads recently. (Which is a shame, because there were a couple of opportunities Barack Obama ceded to whack John McCain on the Keating Five and its connection to current economics.)  However, Obama’s jabs were better, and more adept — such as the one in the video above on foreign policy and “not understanding.”  McCain’s rhetoric didn’t change dramatically from debate #1 — in fact, neither candidate varied too much from that script save the zingers — and he was the one who needed to up the ante, bring something new to the table.

Unfortunately, barring massive errata on Obama’s part between now and a week from today, we’ll be talking about how Obama is simply “that one” to him.

The funny thing going in is the town hall format is supposed to McCain’s best — and he did seem more at ease, willing to pal and joke around, although I put the “my friend/s” count at 30, and if you play a drinking game to that, you’d be dead halfway through, and the majority of McCain’s references, seem, well, a bit out of touch.  But, he looked stilted (and we can chalk some of this up to age and injuries suffered in his POW days) and stuck to the same rhetorical themes, so much so on economic policy that you wonder if his campaign hands him and Sarah Palin the exact same script with a few different tweaks.

Obama gets the benefit of any ties — essentially, this is a rather dull affair overall — because he sat back and let the punches come towards him before countering on foreign policy, and the particularly effective jab on McCain’s health care proposals. I am never confident enough to say “this one is over,” but I don’t know where McCain made up any ground, because whenever he tried to instill doubt in Obama, he did so in himself as well. Referring to yourself as a “cool hand” when you have a record of impulsive behavior (including your VP pick) and savaging Obama for the “speaking loudly” on Pakistan when you do so on Iraq and Russian actions towards Georgia shows a complete lack of cognitive dissonance.

Things I am rather tired of coming out of the mouths of these two:

  • Good old American exceptionalism. Sadly, this will not fucking die: we must be the beacon on the hill, we have the impetus to go after and invade countries. McCain is the bigger talker when it comes to this stuff, but Obama, being an American politician, is not immune.
  • Will no one press either of them on the War on Drugs?
  • Neither candidate, thanks to Walter Mondale’s 1984 tank job, will ever admit to Americans what they have to give up or may have to pay more in taxes to get the government back on track.  In bad economic times, we deserve a bit more honesty, but politicians know better than that.

Also, we’d like to tell Tom Brokaw to suck it. I know the candidates agreed to the format, but it was awfully confining.  Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, and now Brokaw — all underwhelming moderators, with some stinker questions and/or an inability or unwilligness to ask good follow-ups.  Hell, I know local reps from the League of Women Voters who could do better jobs moderating than this. Get a general host to introduce, then turn it over to th LWV moderator. Anything for better questions.

God, We Have A Month Left Of This

Finally, the campaign decided to bring back the Keating Five. About time.

I tire of this shit now, because it’s all gone so fucking last minute surreal by this point — John McCain going open season on the character attacks because he’s behind and in bad straits on the economic issue and we have — shock, surprise — race-baiting and terrorist remarks against Barack Obama at rallies involving both McCain and Sarah Palin, who ginned it up with mentions of Bill Ayres and inciting the usual virulence at the press that they’ve been working so well for the past few months of the campaign.

All this informs the second of three debates, which will probably make for no better theater than the first one, and will make us more and more likely to wish for the next month to pass even more quickly, so we can be done with the drawn-out spectacle. Yes, there is a serious choice to be made here, and I’ve made mine, as many of you probably know, but now we are seeing the final descent into the usual stupid stunts that come around late September and October of every presidential election year.

I don’t know where McCain goes from here; I don’t see where he gets the votes he’s supposedly losing back. These are last-ditch, round-up-the-base gambits he’s playing with, not the sort of thing that gets people who don’t pay attention until the last two months before the election. And still, I’m crossing my fingers until the vote is over and we actually have a President-Elect declared.

Foot-In-Mouth Vs. Nothing Between The Ears

More than 12 hours later, and after reading the transcript, reading other opinions, and viewing my Twitter notes, I can safely try to offer some opinions on last night’s face-off. It was certainly much, much more entertaining than last Friday’s presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

Assorted notes:

  • Joe, please look at the woman. It didn’t do hiim a ton of favors to barely look at his opponent. It’s the same crap McCain did last week.
  • Biden had an effective parry for every assertion Palin made. He’s gaffe-prone, but he knows his shit.
  • Meanwhile, Caribou Barbie is clearly reading off note cards and not giving us a whole lot in specifics.
  • Not that’s she’s supposed to. Most of the Republican campaign as of late has been specific-lite, given the economic fallout made McCain’s economic rollout the week before moot.
  • Biden is heavy on the Senate speak and wonkery, but this was a necessary tactic.  Rather than taking it right to Palin, he focused on McCain’s policies and explained them in a way someone who understands the workings of a legislative body has to.
  • Despite all the interviews of the past week, Palin is a much better debater than anyone probably gave her credit for.
  • That said, it would be nice if she’d answer the damn question.
  • Rather than answer said question, she’s “going to speak to the American people.” If Gwen Ifill hadn’t been hit with the sly attack from the Republican ops about her book just two days before, she probably would have hit her with a Jim Lehrer insistence. She has to be steaming.
  • “Nukular.” Nuh uh. Eight years of that shit was enough, Governor.  Learn basic fucking English.
  • Palin tells Biden it’s “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!” Every time I hear McCain, Palin, or a Republican crowd chant that stupid slogan (as if off-shore oil drilling will magically fix everything), I imagine it has to get their men at full mast and their female followers gushing.
  • “Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again.”  The sound you heard immediately after that was all the Reaganites coming at the same time.
  • McCain should hire Mark McGwire as a campaign spokesperson. Palin essentially told us that “we’re not here to talk about the past.” Apparently trying to fix the bad policies of the last administration isn’t worth talking about.
  • Regarding the gays: Palin would like you to know she is aggressively, full-on, no-holds-barred TOLERANT.  Still doesn’t like y’all getting hitched.
  • Biden says he and Obama don’t support gay marriage, of course. God, I long for the day when a Democratic candidate comes out and says, “Yes, I support the right of gays and lesbians to marry in this country. Marriage is both a civil and religious institution, but since it is a civil institution, it is wrong to discriminate and not give those marriage rights to committed homosexual couples.”
  • Can we get a politician who doesn’t feel the need to proclaim how much he or she loves Israel and say they’re the country’s best friend, please?  I’m sure there are plenty of observant Jews concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian situation who are tired of having their collective knob swallowed.
  • Also, Governor, American exceptionalism is tiresome, and it’s probably what gets us more animus even among our own allies as well as enemies (I’m willing to bet terrorists attack us and decry us for bouts of economic and military imperalism throughout the centuries.)
  • Biden spanks the concept of McCain as maverick. Thank you.
  • Based on Palin’s response to Ifill’s question about the VP and executive power, if elected, I assume she will be just redecorating Dick Cheney’s “undisclosed location” in a nicer shade of gray. Clearly, she has not a damn clue about what the Founding Fathers intended regarding separation of powers. She cited “flexibility in the office of Vice President,” meaning she’d be a Cheney you’d probably like to fuck.
  • Biden’s response about the overreaching of Cheney’s office and the unitary executive: RIGHT ON POINT.
  • Remind me what wars John McCain won again?
  • Biden dropped a Shakespeare reference tonight. Warms my cold, black heart.
  • Described McCain’s econ policy as “the ultimate bridge to nowhere.” SNAP.
  • So nationalized health care is socialism but bailing out Wall Street and buying up bad mortgages isn’t? Oy.
  • Folksy, non-sequitur shoutout to third graders in Alaska, Sarah? I deserve extra credit too for sitting through this. (Would Obama get away with giving a shoutout and self-bump to his homies on the South Side? Probably not.)
  • Joe: never speak in the third person EVER AGAIN. You aren’t T.O., Karl Malone, or Ocho Cinco.
  • But you got me with telling us about the car accident that killed your wife and daughter, sir, I gotta admit. (This was also smart: do not cede the family ground to Palin; Biden, in his commitment to fatherhood, commuted by train from Wilmington to D.C. every day so he could be with his sons.)
  • “It’s so nice to speak directly to the American people, without the filter of the mainstream media.”  Oh, Republicans, please stop trying to work the refs and blame the messenger. It’s transparent, and just because you say the news media is liberal doesn’t make it true in terms of coverage and balance.  If that were true these days, George W. Bush would have been run out on a rail years ago, no one would have fostered the bullshit story that Al Gore said he “invented” the internet and was “the inspiration” for the book and movie Love Story.  D.C. media like easy, cheap narratives and they like their access to power, and more often than not, that has been Republican power.  The bigger names in broadcast and print political media are socially liberal (or at least centrist), but are economically conservative: they want their tax cuts.  Also, they are owned by multi-national conglomerates whose CEOs vote Republican (see Sumner Redstone on the matter.) So, please stop with this “filter” bullshit. It might be a nice tactic to tap into the mis-directed anger of your supporters, but you look dumb to anyone with half a brain.

No one hit too hard, but there were more fireworks of interest here. Palin didn’t embarass herself further, but she didn’t fix the impression that she’s still not cut out for this by sticking to generalities and down-home speech. Biden didn’t put his foot in his mouth and backed off on any attacks that could have been spun as him beating up on Palin, when she gave him ample opportunity to.

It’s a win for the Democratic ticket, because the Republican ticket needed a Biden fuck-up and a sterling, outta-the-park performance by Palin to make a dent in the current poll deficit.