Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I don't review movies I haven't seen but in this case it's not a surprise to anyone who's seen his show that Bill Maher's Religulous is far from an open-minded, investigative probe into the minds of religious people in this country and abroad, no mater how much he tries to sell it as such. On a film blog which had not given the film a positive review, a reader defended Maher's impetus for making the movie, stating:
"I’m cheering for the guy who is sick and tired of having religion shoved down his throat..."
You know, I'd like to inquire as to how this is accomplished? Is Maher harassed daily by zealots who want to convert him? Does HBO make him have a benediction performed before every show? Is he denied access to goods or services because of his atheism? (Yes, he is an atheist; if he truly had doubts about the existence of a deity--as Maher likes to say he does, in an effort to appear somewhat even-handed--he'd state his position without the certainty he clearly flaunts about his convictions. Or which, ironically, he decries in those religious folks he routinely ridicules.)
Listen, Maher had every right to make this film and have as many people who agree with him on this matter watch it. Fine by me. To each his own. But let's be clear here: when it comes to religious matters and people of faith, he is a disingenuous, condescending bigot with no true desire to find out what makes religious people tick, just a hearty need to mock them mercilessly and flaunt his self-assumed superiority.
As a tolerant, open-minded, left-leaning, centrist Democrat, staunchly in favor of the separation of church and state; who believes in evolution and thinks the tale of Genesis as a simplified, poetic version of it; a Catholic who sees the Pope not as the representative of Jesus Christ on Earth but as the head of the Church, I am the one who is sick and tired of being lumped in with the Falwells, Hagees, Robertsons and their ilk, because of my personal and mostly private religious beliefs. Are you implying that deep down there is no difference between myself and the religious fanatics that blindly oppress, maim and kill in the name of religion? How-fucking-dare you?! Enough already! I'm not going to remain silent about it anymore, whether it's Bill Maher or that chick sitting next to me at the bar and loudly mocking what I believe. It's bullshit and I'm fed up.
God bless you all.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
"He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she?"
"What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"
And when they found out that McCain was actually in the building doing an interview with CBS's Katie Couric and not on his way to Washington as, according to Dave, the senator had stated to him earlier, Letterman did not let up. He was on fire, to say the least. I've been a fan of the man and his show for over 20 years and this was one of his very best, hands down.
Keith Olbermann pinch-hit as lead-off guest.
- Ms. Fey on playing Gov. Sarah Palin on SNL
Despite your uncanny and supremely entertaining initial portrayal of the Alaskan governor (allegedly the most viewed viral video of all time; see below), your wish is our command, Tina.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Score one for Obama. And this afternoon, Ope called it.
"...more should be said about an Obama response. Because I guarantee the answer ain't obvious to all. I would bet some see this as another smart Palin-type of gambit that puts Obama on the defensive. My take: Obama's response should be immediate and need not be delicate. Maybe something about consistency of commitment and the wonders of modern technology. And gotdamnright Obama should show up to the debate especially if McCain decides to stay home."
Her spot isn't bad, it's worse: boring. Whereas Verdict was lively and fresh, Ms. Maddow's plays like a televised radio show. (Or blog. Yikes.) She is certainly smart, eloquent, witty, with a firm grasp of the issues--and, of course, telegenic, which unfortunately matters in the business she's in--but I don't find myself drawn to her as I was when she would periodically fill in for Keith Olbermann on his Countdown. Admittedly, it might be too soon to criticize, and after all, she's getting good ratings, so I just may be one of the few not entirely in her show's corner. Yet.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Maureen O'Dowd's NY Times column from last Saturday has Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, imagining what a meeting between the now retired former POTUS and Sen. Barack Obama would be like:
BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.
OBAMA Mr. President.
BARTLET You seem startled.
OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.
BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.
Man, I miss The West Wing...the rest of the Bartlet/Obama meeting is here.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The above is Section 8 of the $700B bailout proposal put forth by the Treasury Dept. Can you believe this? In other words, no oversight on this monster bailout just congressional approval and off we go again. WTF?! At least both Obama and McCain disagree with this classic Bush administration bit of backdoor cronyism and gangsterism 'til the bitter end.
"When I am King / you will be first against the wall..."
- Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"
I'm anti-death penalty but I'm starting to long for firing squads...Here’s more on the proposed bailout agreement.
Add to that, the new Stanford University poll that finds that one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent," responsible for their own troubles. Yes, you read right: Democrats. And since Obama can't win without them...
Sunday, September 21, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them "lazy," "violent," responsible for their own troubles.
The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.
Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He's an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation's oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.
More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.
Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.
"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.
The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.
The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.
The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.
I've been harping on and on about the need for the Obama camp to fight back mercilessly, but truthfully, every bit of the daily barrage of lies spouted forth by John McCain and the Republicans during this presidential campaign. Constantly, I have been doing this, yes.
But thankfully--Paul Begala immediately comes to mind; cheers, sir--we're not alone:
Obama must hit Republicans ten times harder. Let's hear about war profiteering, taxpayer-funded mercenary armies and privatizing core functions of state, habeas corpus and warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements, and Katrina and justice department politicization, and phony intel and Abu Ghraib, rendition and torture.
If the Democratic leadership wants to disregard its base and continue to disregard the rule of law, they deserve to lose...and will. Let's hope the Obama campaign doesn't come to this conclusion 10 days out. He needs to articulate his vision of the future, but he also needs to articulate a version of reality. The fiercest urgency is needed now.
- John Cusack, on The Huffington Post
Better a broken record, than a (even more) broken country.
[Oh and by the way, anyone that thinks that artists should keep their mouths shut and just continue being 'performing monkeys' and not opine on these matters, regardless of their level of intelligence and/or grasp on the issues, is reading the wrong blog.]
Saturday, September 20, 2008
"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."
Are you scared yet? You should be.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Ah, Rupert's racist, right-wing rag: as a venue for its owner-approved propaganda it is rumored to be kept afloat by the Faux Noise Channel, and so loathsome a publication that we find the free copies handed out to us on a daily basis too expensive to accept.
But for once, we're on the same team.
You see, I find it deplorable that with everything that's going on, 3/4 of Friday's front page is dedicated to a story about a dude that kicked his girlfriend's evil cat to death. While it is par for the course, when it comes to the Post, it is simply unconscionable.
As someone who was once scratched mid coitus by the feline of a lady with whom I was having carnal relations, I feel for the guy and must take his side on this one. (For the record, I am no cat hater but cat apologists and PETA, bring it on. I can take ya.)
Better yet, even the execrable Andrea Peyser and I agree on this one. Weird.
As she sees it:
"New York ladies of a certain vintage, I beg you. Listen up. You have a choice. When presented with the option of huddling on a chilly night with a warm, breathing 6-foot-2 human--or bitching with your jealous friends, or, worse, hugging your demented cat--take the guy. You won't regret it."
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Now, I'm no economist, but isn't deregulation the root cause here? And thus, the firing of an implementer of policies made possible by it, a hollow call for action?
Sen. Barack Obama, at a a rally in New Mexico, had this to say about McCain's proposal:
"I think that's all fine and good but here's what I think: In the next 47 days you can fire the whole trickle-down, on-your-own, look-the-other way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don't just get rid of one guy. Get rid of this administration. Get rid of this philosophy. Get rid of the do-nothing approach to our economic problem and put somebody in there who's going to fight for you."
Um, yeah. That's what I'm talking about.
Of course, had this happened, McCain's presidential campaign would've died this past Monday morning; right then and there. The old timers, consumed with bloodlust, would send the GOP packing. You just don't mess with the income of the most consistent voting bloc in the US, now, do ya?
[This has been forwarded to me so many times in the last few days that I finally decided to post it here. It's obviously touched a nerve. - KJ]
For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has challenges," even as black and Latino families with similar "challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck," like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don't all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."
White privilege is being able to say that you support the words "under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the "under God" part wasn't added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.
White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.
White privilege is being able to convince white women who don't even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a "second look."
White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you're just a good church-going Christian, but if you're black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an extremist who probably hates America.
White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a "trick question," while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.
And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.
White privilege is, in short, the problem.
Tim Wise is the author of White Like Me (Soft Skull, 2005, revised 2008), and of Speaking Treason Fluently, publishing this month, also by Soft Skull.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
While you're checking out the nearly five dozen instances of falsehoods and propaganda, we offer you some Keating 5-era synth-pop courtesy of The Thompson Twins called--what else?--"Lies".
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"I'm going to vote for Obama because I think he's the best man for the job. I have never said that people should vote for him simply because he's a black man or a Democrat. But now I think I have found a simple reason to vote for him. You may disagree with his policies or philosophy, but in the end not only should you vote for him, you must vote for him because Obama in all his liberalness has argued with you honestly, earnestly and truthfully. Against an opponent who's modus operandi is deceit and lies you must, I repeat, must side with the candidate who has treated you in good faith. To reward McCain, a man filled with toxic cynicism, is to endanger and threaten our country, our planet and, perhaps more importantly, reason and truth, which are the building blocks of all human progression. "
Amen, brother. Amen.
Monday, September 15, 2008
- GOP presidential hopeful John McCain at a rally in Florida, on the afternoon of Sept. 15th 2008, which began with the news of a Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the below market value sale of Merril Lynch, a day many are now referring to as "Black Monday".
I guess John McCain figures if this kinda sleaze helped George W. Bush defeat him in 2000, then it could help him win in 2008. That desperate, huh? It's quite pathetic to see Grandpa Simpson blindly lowering himself deeper and deeper into the quicksand of lies, deception, blatant cynicism and condescension that is increasingly characterizing his run for the White House.
- Democratic strategist James Carville on CNN, referring to the lying, slime-laden attack ads from the McCain camp.
If these are our friends, then our enemies...People, we're fucked.
Friday, September 12, 2008
6 has become 9.
Fine. But this is neither the time nor the place to show what may be perceived by others as chinks in the armor. It’s time to put the whole ‘Hillary for VP’ thing to rest. Oh, and btw, Democrats, you can’t have it both ways: you can’t accuse John McCain of making a cynical, political choice by choosing Sarah Palin, and then turn around and wish Barack Obama had done the same with HRC. Granted, HRC is a million and a half times more qualified than Gov. Palin, but her choice would’ve equally been a political one; Biden was a governing choice and one of chemistry as well.
Can we get back to the real issue at hand? Like, for instance, stopping this:
from the Michigan Messenger:
Lose Your House, Lose Your Vote
By Eartha Jane Melzer
Michigan Republicans plan to foreclose African American voters
The chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County Michigan, a key swing county in a key swing state, is planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP’s effort to challenge some voters on Election Day.
“We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses,” party chairman James Carabelli told Michigan Messenger in a telephone interview earlier this week. He said the local party wanted to make sure that proper electoral procedures were followed.
Not only did this administration sit idly by while people lost their homes, now they plan to benefit politically from it!
Wake the hell up, people! McCain sold himself to the devil--hiring the same Karl Rove and his minions who smeared him in 2000; kowtowing to former "agents of intolerance" the Christian Right; renouncing every worthy piece of legislation he backed and embracing those he so scorned--in order to win this thing. They are playing for keeps. Wake the fuck up!!!
Of course, this clown is the toothless dog that barks the loudest. He has not proffered up any proof of the alleged attempt against him; and as for the US embassy in Caracas, spokeswoman Jennifer Rahimi had this to say: "We saw the speech and we're investigating, but we haven't seen anything official."
The US is Venezuela's no.1 client in the oil trade. Let's see if Chavez, with Venezuela's economy at its lowest point in decades, actually goes through with this farce and hampers the influx of "petrodollars", his main source of bribery and conscience purchasing, both home and abroad.
Oh, and thanks to Alvarez for his assertion that diplomatic ties will be renewed "when there's a new government in the United States." Yeah, because Barack Obama really needs to be tied to Chavez by the GOP. Great.
"You’re doing RNC talking points...you fool!” Sweet.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
About 5 years ago, I helped a friend move his family into their first house out in Long Island. Over the years we had outdoor parties, barbecues, beerfests and domino games into the night. This weekend, I helped him move out. He had to sell in order to avoid foreclosure. A few thousand bucks could have saved the house, but it wasn't to be. At the same time this was happening, our government bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and no, these are not white rappers getting out of a suburban jail, these are federally subsidized mortgage companies who were so grossly mismanaged they need an act of Congress to save them; a move which will ultimately place the liability of 5 trillion dollars in default mortgages on the backs of US taxpayers.
Now this wouldn't bother me so much if 70% of all new mortgages in recent months hadn't been approved by these companies. If they knew they were in trouble, why continue to operate without at least warning people? This would send any CEO of a non-government subsidized company directly to jail. Instead, those same assholes are getting severance packages in the millions, all while the deficit rises at $750,000 a minute. All my friend needed was a window of a few thousand dollars and he could have kept his home. The interest rate on our deficit alone could build a new home for every registered voter in the
[An artist, athlete, attorney, Army veteran and all-around pain in the ass, Jesse Bueno speaks his mind and takes no prisoners. He is also a dear friend - KJ]
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Many people were upset with me because they think that the political attacks on Obama are status quo political attacks. Well of course they are! The question isn’t, are they unique, but rather what tool did they pull from their tool box to make these attacks? With Gore they attacked his personality—that’s Xenophobia, he’s not like us. With Kerry they attacked his patriotism—that’s Nationalism, he hates our country. But with Obama they use all of the above plus tons of disrespect and an almost delusional and willing ignorance of his accomplishments, and when you bang that down to the nitty-gritty the fuel that helps them make that argument is racism.
You see, it’s easy to believe that what Obama did doesn’t matter, or doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit in with those racist stereotypes we know about blacks today. It doesn’t fit into the pattern. It’s not part of the plan. OJ is part of the plan. Pac-Man Jones is part of the plan. Flava Flav is part of the plan. But Obama, his biography and his current stature isn’t. Why do you think that the memes of ‘Muslim’ and ‘Terrorist’ and ‘Unpatriotic’ stick so well that they can write whole books that go best seller even though a few minutes on the Internet can expose the lies those books are based on? Because it’s better to just stick to the plan, and, to me, this plan is called racism.
In these past 2 weeks, watching the Sarah Pygmalion hysteria, I have had several depressing flashbacks to elections past.
Flashback 1: I keep seeing Jon Lovitz portraying Michael Dukakis on SNL, saying to the camera, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."
Flashback 2: Helping Fairfield, CT Dems on Election Day 1988.
Democrats consistently lost a lot of races in that area and that night was no different. Virtually all Dem candidates one could vote for in that jurisdiction--including President of the U.S.--lost that night. I will never forget the sad results trickling in to the local Dem HQ. The mood inside was quiet and somber, as they watched their entire slate lose.
Flashback 3: Election Night 1984.
I was in college and sat on the phone all night with Dem friends, bitching about the returns with disbelief that the electorate could re-elect that condescending stupid old bobblehead, Reagan.
Flashback 4: I remember Reagan's "Morning in America" schmaltz and how everyone--even seemingly intelligent people--seemed to eat it up. He came to Fairfield in the early '80s to speak at the town green. My university went into lockdown so he could land his helicopter on the field hockey field. I felt like I was the only person on campus who did not turn out for a glimpse of the jerk. I still can't believe how many people were snowed by him.
And that, is the scariest thing of all.
So, do y'all think sales will now rise on this book, Lipstick on a Pig: Winning in the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game? The author is Torie Clarke, a former (cough) advisor to John McCain?
The amazing thing about Sarah Palin is when she became governor she actually stood up and said no.
That’s not true.
She took a strong stand. That is rare and that never happened.
That’s just not true. You know...the facts matter. There’s lots of things that are debatable who is more qualified or less experienced or more this or more passionate, whatever. It is a fact that she campaigned and supported that bridge to nowhere. It is a fact that she hired lobbyists to get earmarks. It is a fact that as governor she lobbies for earmarks. Her state is essentially a welfare state taking money from the federal government…This is the problem. We have this false debate when we ought to have at least agreed upon facts.
You are the man, Paul B.
When a local TV reporter in Milwaukee, Wis., asked Sen. Joe Biden if electing Sarah Palin as vice president would be a step forward for women, he replied: "I think the issue is what does Sarah Palin think? What does she believe? I assume she thinks and agrees with the same policies that George Bush and John McCain think. And that's obviously a backward step for women."
This remark prompted an e-mailed statement to reporters on Tuesday from Amber Wilkerson, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, who decried Biden as a sexist:
"The only person taking a step backward is Joe Biden, whose appalling and arrogant statements are better suited for the back rooms of his old boys club. Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican vice presidential nominee is an historic opportunity to break the highest glass ceiling. While John McCain and Sarah Palin continue to press their message of change, Joe Biden should stop these sorts of old-style attacks."
Aside from the lunacy of the assertion that it's sexist to challenge Palin's views on actual policies, there's another troubling aspect to Wilkerson's statement. Exactly what "opportunity to break the highest glass ceiling" is Wilkerson talking about?
Last we checked, Palin is running for vice president, not president. At best, Palin will break the second highest glass ceiling. Or is it the RNC's view that a woman will never be president and the supportive role of veep is the best a girl can hope for?
As long as the scumbags have a say, yes.
I have seen him fight against raising the federal minimum wage 14 times.
I have seen him fight against making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work.
I have seen him fight against a women's right to choose so consistently that he received a zero percent vote rating from pro-choice organizations.
I have seen him fight against helping families gain access to birth control.
I have seen him fight against Social Security, even going so far as to call its current funding system "an absolute disgrace."
And I saw him fight against the new GI Bill of Rights until it became politically untenable for him to do so.
John McCain voted with President Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007 and 100 percent of the time in 2008 -- that's no maverick.
We do have two real fighters for change in this election -- their names are Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
- Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- CA), chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), in a statement posted on her website
The Resentment Strategy
Can the vice-presidential candidate of a party that has controlled the White House, Congress or both for 26 of the past 28 years, a party that, Borg-like, assimilated much of the D.C. lobbying industry into itself — until Congress changed hands, high-paying lobbying jobs were reserved for loyal Republicans — really portray herself as running against the “Washington elite”?
Yes, they can.
On Tuesday, He Who Must Not Be Named — mentioned him just once, Rudy Giuliani and not at all — gave a video address to the . John McCain, promised President Bush, would stand up to the “angry left.” That’s no doubt true. But don’t be fooled either by Mr. McCain’s long-ago reputation as a maverick or by Ms. Palin’s appealing persona: the Republican Party, now more than ever, is firmly in the hands of the angry right, which has always been much bigger, much more influential and much angrier than its counterpart on the other side.
What’s the source of all that anger?
Some of it, of course, is driven by cultural and religious conflict: fundamentalist Christians are sincerely dismayed by Roe v. Wade and evolution in the curriculum. What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.
Thus Mr. Giuliani asserted that Wasilla, Alaska, isn’t “flashy enough” for Mr. Obama, who never said any such thing. And Ms. Palin asserted that Democrats “look down” on small-town mayors — again, without any evidence.
What the G.O.P. is selling, in other words, is the pure politics of resentment; you’re supposed to vote Republican to stick it to an elite that thinks it’s better than you. Or to put it another way, the G.O.P. is still the party of Nixon.
One of the key insights in “Nixonland,” the new book by the historian Rick Perlstein, is that Nixon’s political strategy throughout his career was inspired by his college experience, in which he got himself elected student body president by exploiting his classmates’ resentment against the Franklins, the school’s elite social club. There’s a direct line from that student election to Spiro Agnew’s attacks on the “nattering nabobs of negativism” as “an effete corps of impudent snobs,” and from there to the peculiar cult of personality that not long ago surrounded — a cult that celebrated his anti-intellectualism and made much of the supposed fact that the “misunderestimated” C-average student had proved himself smarter than all the fancy-pants experts.
And when Mr. Bush turned out not to be that smart after all, and his presidency crashed and burned, the angry right — the raging rajas of resentment? — became, if anything, even angrier. Humiliation will do that.
Can Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin really ride Nixonian resentment into an upset election victory in what should be an overwhelmingly Democratic year? The answer is a definite maybe.
By selecting Barack Obama as their nominee, the Democrats may have given Republicans an opening: the very qualities that inspire many fervent Obama supporters — the candidate’s high-flown eloquence, his coolness factor — have also laid him open to a Nixonian backlash. Unlike many observers, I wasn’t surprised at the effectiveness of the McCain “celebrity” ad. It didn’t make much sense intellectually, but it skillfully exploited the resentment some voters feel toward Mr. Obama’s star quality.
That said, the experience of the years since 2000 — the memory of what happened to working Americans when faux-populist Republicans controlled the government — is still fairly fresh in voters’ minds. Furthermore, while Democrats’ supposed contempt for ordinary people is mainly a figment of Republican imagination, the G.O.P. really is the Gramm Old Party — it really does believe that the economy is just fine, and the fact that most Americans disagree just shows that we’re a nation of whiners.
But the Democrats can’t afford to be complacent. Resentment, no matter how contrived, is a powerful force, and it’s one that Republicans are very, very good at exploiting.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
If we were that smart, then we would’ve asked to impeach a president who did NOTHING about the threat of imminent terrorism on our shores, and when on his watch it happened, he used the blood of the innocent as a pretext to lie us into a war for oil, tried to cover it up, and now, 5 years later, this tragic mess has cost the unnecessary death of more than 4,000 servicemen and women, $10 billion a month and a weakened country financially, militarily and diplomatically. Oh, if Bill Clinton had done this! He who, in essence, was to be impeached for lying about a blow job. He’d be sentenced to two dimes at Leavenworth. Meanwhile, W is going home scot-free to Crawford to clear some brush. And a third of the country is STILL behind him, the worst president in history.
If we were that smart, we would send John McCain packing, after having done a 180 degree turn on almost everything he has stood for in his life and shamelessly proceeded to tell us that he puts his country first, despite the blatantly political move of placing an ignorant neophyte possibly a heartbeat away from running our country. We should’ve shunned him right after he stated that he, and not Barack Obama, will be an agent of change in Washington. Of course, his 90% lockstep with the policies of George W. Bush and the presence of top tier lobbyists in the upper strata of his campaign is a Democratic smokescreen. McCain wants us to pay attention to his words and not his political deeds. And guess what? We are: he is now leading Obama in the polls!
If we were that smart, we would judge people running for office on the merits and achievements directly related to the job they are campaigning for. Not on how much fun it might be to have a beer with them, engage in some sports-related extra curricular activity, or the dually narcissistic and ignorant thought that their lives should resemble ours in any way, shape or form. But we’re not that smart. That’s why McCain’s campaign manager made the ludicrous statement that this election was not about the issues but about personalities. He knows we’re not smart enough to put aside whatever superficial connection we’ve been made to feel about a candidate and truly discern what is best for us and our future. Not to mention how this backwards thinking nonsense of ours got us 8 years of the current disastrous administration.
So, because I really don’t give a rat’s ass if a candidate has the same ethnicity, whisky preference, baseball team allegiance or music selection on their iPod as I do, I’ll be branded as an elitist. Because I want my elected officials to be smarter than me, with a decent grasp of the economy and foreign affairs, even keeled, with a tangible relationship with those less fortunate, true to their word, and as untainted as possible by the dark underbelly of the particular corruption unique to Washington, I am an elitist. Hey, it could be worse: I could be undecided.
Perhaps the one thing that the loathsome Ann Coulter and I agree on is our mutual disdain for undecided voters, especially in this presidential campaign. Despite McCain’s recent empty, co-opted and untrue rhetoric, the two choices are in stark contrast of each other. Yet, there are people truly undecided. And enough of them to swing the election one way or another. You would think that anyone paying attention would’ve made up their minds by now.
Unfortunately, we’re not smarter than that.
Monday, September 8, 2008
My beloved mother came to the US in 1962, during the Kennedy administration. Not only a lifelong Democrat, Hillary Clinton supporter, who often asked half-jokingly in 1999 if there was some way we could have 4 more years of President Bill Clinton—and who rightly criticized Al Gore for distancing himself from Bill during his 2000 campaign for the presidency; I was wrong on that one but she got it right, as usual—but also a woman who understands the nature of politics better than most pundits, I was understandably eager to hear what she had to say regarding the Alaska governor and newly-minted GOP VP candidate.
“As a woman I’m pleased to see her rise to such an important, historic position. This is a great achievement for women. But she’s not getting my vote. I find it offensive that these people think that because we supported Hillary we’re going to flock to her and the Republicans. Please. The only thing she has in common with Hillary is that they’re both women. And all this talk about motherhood—she’s not running to manage an orphanage or a day care center. It’s governing a country we’re talking about. This is too serious an election to be carrying on with irrelevant topics. I only hope Obama and the Democrats can overcome all this nonsense.”
I love you, Mom. Let’s hope many more ladies like you feel the same way.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
There are those who think this all part of the McCain campaign's plan to divert attention from the top of the GOP ticket and leave little time to focus on the Arizona senator's lockstep with the current Bush administration, the whopping gaffes, holes, and inconsistencies in his judgement, statements and plans for the country, and thus, the disaster that would be his presidency. I wouldn't put it past the nefarious "Turd Blossom" and his minions. Stay tuned.
So, with that, courtsey of The Huffington Post, I bring you "Rudy Watch: The Mark Green Edition" compiled by NYC's first Public Advocate, former Democratic candidate for Mayor, and current president of Air America, Mark Green, from the recent RNC:
- Rudy Giuliani said that Obama had no executive experience, "de nada!" Just like his good friend John McCain. But now that he's mentioned it, let's compare managerial experience: Obama ran a $250 million presidential campaign and won the Democratic nomination after some 50 primaries - while the Goliath of Gotham managed to spend $60 million and win one Republican delegate.
- Rudy Giuliani attacked the media for asking only women, never men, how they could run and serve yet still tend to their motherly duties. Lucky for him that's true, since he's estranged and doesn't speak to his two children. No fatherly duties there to ignore.
- Rudy Giuliani condemned the Democrats for never mentioning "Islamic Terrorism" at their Convention. Actually, a New York Times textual analysis showed that a man named Barack Obama menioned terrorism four times, a woman named Sarah Palin three times and a man named John McCain one time.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Get Out the Violins...
by The Divine Ms. M
Did you know that Alaska does not charge income tax of its citizens?
Alaska also does not have a state sales tax though there are municipalities that do charge sales tax. While Alaska does not charge a state sales tax, it does impose a vehicle rental tax (10 percent on passenger vehicles; 3 percent on RVs), as well as an excise tax of $46 per voyage on passengers traveling on commercial vessels that provide overnight accommodations while in Alaska waters.
On the local level, 108 municipalities (up from 89 previously) collect a sales tax, with a range of between 1 percent and 7 percent. Typical sales tax rates are 3 percent to 5 percent. Details on local sales taxes can be found in Alaska Taxable, the Commerce Department's official annual report to the Alaska State Legislature on local sales and property taxes.
Other types of local taxes levied include raw fish taxes, hotel and motel "bed" taxes, severance taxes, liquor and tobacco taxes, gaming (pull tabs) taxes, tire taxes and fuel transfer taxes. A percentage of revenue collected from certain state taxes and license fees (e.g., petroleum, aviation motor fuel, telephone cooperative) is also shared with municipalities in Alaska.
As for property taxes...
Alaska is the largest state, but only a small portion of the land mass is subject to a property tax. Only 25 Alaskan municipalities (either cities or boroughs) levy a property tax. The average per capita property tax paid in 2007 in all municipalities, excluding oil and gas properties, was $1,228. In Alaska, intangible personal property is exempt from taxation.
For its citizens age 65 or older and disabled veterans, Alaska exempts the first $150,000 of assessed value from property taxes.
And estate taxes…
There is no inheritance tax in Alaska. In accordance with the repeal of the federal state death tax credit, for decedents who died after December 31, 2004, the Alaska Department of Revenue no longer requires executors to file a Preliminary Notice and Report or a copy of the federal estate return with the state.
And what of a gas tax suspension? They got that too. It just started on Sept. 1st and runs through August 2009.
So why did they keep the Federal money sent to them for a bridge to nowhere? You would think they could have raised the capital themselves. I don't want to see any more Alaskans with their hands out for something!
Ah, life is so much easier to manage when money flows in one direction, especially if that direction is toward you.
What Hillary Should Say
An Open Letter to the Almost Nominee
by Patti Davis
Where are you? We haven't heard from you since your strong and eloquent speech at the Democratic National Convention. You might be taking a well-deserved vacation--certainly you must need one after all those arduous months campaigning. But we need to hear from you right now. We need your voice to speak for all the women (and there are many of us) who are angry at the assumption that, just because Sarah Palin is female, we will fall in line behind her.
We need you to make clear that women do not automatically judge someone because of gender; we are more concerned with the quality of their character and the depth and breadth of their experience.
We do not see rudeness and snarkiness and sarcasm as admirable; in fact, most women teach their children not to treat others in that manner, and they tend to steer clear of adults who never learned that lesson.
We respect the right of other women to raise and educate their children the way they see fit. We also respect their right to make their own child-bearing decisions with no interference from the rest of us. We ask for that same respect in return. We don't want the government in our homes or our wombs. It is, in the simplest sense, a respect for privacy, a word vehemently used by the Republican Party in reference to Sarah Palin's family. But it's not just families in the public eye who deserve privacy; we all do.There are many definitions of toughness. Most women would probably define it as meeting the daily challenges of raising a family in an increasingly treacherous world. They would think about the nights with no sleep sitting up with a sick child, or a race to the emergency room with a child in pain. Most would not define toughness as the ability and willingness to shoot and kill an animal. Nor are they impressed by seeing a woman brandishing an assault weapon, or sitting on her couch with the skin and head of a dead grizzly bear behind her.
Hillary, you have a more prominent voice than the rest of us. We need to hear your voice reminding people that women are smart and perceptive, and perfectly capable of doing research on a candidate who chose to be snippy rather than informative about her political record.
Many of us are frightened about the future of this country. You once said, with tears in your eyes, that running for president was very personal to you--that where America goes from here was deeply personal. It's personal to us also. Please help us communicate that putting a woman on a presidential ticket is only a good thing if it's the right woman.
Certainly, those of us who watched the Republican convention saw a woman who knows how to throw zingers. But few of us, if any, were encouraged by that. America is in trouble. We need hope, we need solutions, we need dignified, compassionate leadership. If we want zingers we'll turn on Comedy Central.
Women who are waiting to hear from you
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