Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Democrats Should Steer Clear of "Siren Sarah"

I think the McCain campaign is finally catching on that things aren't going well. Barack Obama has led in the daily Gallup poll for five days, and John McCain hasn't led for two weeks. Best guesses on electoral votes range from 255 to 227 Obama, to 286 to 225 Obama, to 301 to 237 Obama, to 331 to 207 Obama.

And there's no clear end in sight. The economy is in the ditch, and while neither candidate seems particularly expert in economics, Obama has some very competent people on his economic team, while McCain has the bad fortune of having surrounded himself with precisely the kind of people who have helped cause the problem, like former Sen. Phil Gramm, and the kind of people whom Americans are disgusted with, like lobbyist Rick Davis and golden-parachuted CEO Carly Fiorina.

Conservatives of the old school are in revolt over Gov. Sarah Palin, Republicans can't get their act together, and even the most superstitious/anxious/cynical Democrats are having to shake themselves to avoid visions of premature inauguration.

So what does the McCain camp do? It sends out Gov. Palin as the bait in two distinct traps, extremely attractive to Democrats and extremly, extremely deadly.

Discerning Democratic mice will resist the urge to pounce on this tasty morsel of Palin provolone.

First Trap: Red Meat

In case you haven't seen the latest installment of the gift that keeps on giving, watch the video above as Katie Couric unrolls a few more lengths of rope for Palin to use to hang herself.

Of course, I think much of what Palin has to say is ridiculous, but more than that, I think the way she says it illustrates just how unready she is even to be a part of this campaign, let alone to lead America, and thus the world.

But step back from this for a minute and think about the dangers this interview poses for Democrats. Here are big hunks of juicy tidbits that voters, columnists, bloggers, and pundits can't resist -- ABORTION!!! BIRTH CONTROL!!! HOMOSEXUALITY!!! RELIGION!!!

But I believe it would be an absolute mistake to take the bait, and here's why. For starters, these aren't far-out wacky views, or at least if they are, they're held by a substantial number of Americans. America's largest Protestant denomination -- the Southern Baptists, with 16.2 million members -- and the Roman Catholic Church in America accounts for one quarter of our population. Guess what these denominations teach? That abortion is murder, the morning-after pill is murder, and homosexuality is a choice. This is to say nothing of the Assemblies of God, Churches of God, Disciples of Christ, et alii.

Unless people think that somehow Democrats can win with skeptics, atheists, and Unitarians, there's got to be a place at the table for people of all beliefs and traditions. These issues just aren't the most important ones in America.

That brings me to my second reason to avoid the culture-war bait. When the national conversation gets bogged down in the culture wars, Democrats lose. It's not necessarily because half the country agrees with Palin. It's that people who disagree with her can never be as forceful as those who agree with her. If you don't think that the morning-after pill is murder or that being gay is a chosen abomination, you'll never be able to match passions with people who do. (Unless, perhaps, you are gay without equal rights or unexpectedly pregnant without access to an early-term abortion, which certainly must account for a minority of Americans.)

To put it another way, most potential Democratic voters don't go to sleep at night thinking, "Man, I could really use an abortion," or, "Gosh, I wish I could have a gay marriage." For that matter, they don't go to sleep wondering just how stupid that Gov. Palin will look the next time she opens her mouth for a primetime interview or a cheesesteak sandwich.

They go to sleep wondering how they're going to pay for their health insurance, how they'll keep their jobs, what will happen to their folks when they get older and dont't have nursing home insurance, and whether their sons and daughters will ever come home safely from two wars that seem to have no end. So if the Democrats spend all their time talking to American voters about how they'll give them evolution education and the morning-after pill, voters will tune it out the way I tune out the infomercials for the Jack Lelane Juicer I don't need.

Polling shows this. Go back and look at where the McCain-Palin ticket stood in the polls when the national narrative was about "lipstick on a pig" and Obama killing babies. Those conversations miss the voters you can get and really really energize the voters you hope stay home.

Liberals like Unitarian Keith Olbermann (whom I generally like) and agnostic Bill Maher (whom I don't), if they really support Barack Obama, do themselves no favors deriding not the extreme policies of the McCain/Palin ticket but the personal convictions of the members of that ticket, which untold millions of Americans share.

Serious-minded Democrats should distance themselves from these criticisms of Palin's no-doubt genuine religious views and keep the focus on the economy, the war, and the disaster that was the last eight years. If someone says, "I think all the gays are going to hell," say, "Terrific. How does that help you feed your family?"

Second Trap: Wounded Animal

The other snare Palin is setting with her Siren song is one of low expectations. President Bush has famously spoken of the "soft bigotry of low expectations," but in this case, I think the Republicans in the short-term only stand to gain from how little the country has come to expect from Gov. Palin.

We've already seen the McCain camp exploit these expectations once before. When McCain first named Palin right before his convention, bloggers and partisans nationwide spent four solid days denouncing the decision simultaneously as a boneheaded blunder and a self-serving stunt, rapidly firing every possible criticism at Palin to see what stuck. She was a book-banner! Her daughter was knocked up! The First Dude had a 20-year-old DUI! She'd fired someone for political reasons! People were running pools to see how long she'd survive on the Republican ticket.

And then what happened? She stood up and read a great speech from a teleprompter at the convention, and Democrats looked stupid. They'd made her look like a victim, a martyr, a working-class hero. Meanwhile, Gov. Palin -- still unqualified, mind you, and still extremely dangerous to our nation -- was innoculated from criticism for weeks to come.

It took CBS's Katie Couric (someone else who's faced the soft bigotry of low expectations) to really pull back the curtain on the Wizard to let American voters sneak a peek to observe what Democrats had ham-handedly tried to pound into their heads a month before: Palin was clueless.

But rather than having learned their lesson, Democrats (and some Republicans, by the way) are piling on again, Democrats gloating at how abysmal Palin is, Republicans fretting and begging her to fall on her moose gun for the good of party and country. The result is that come this Thursday night, when she has to debate Sen. Joe Biden in the vice-presidential face-off, expectations are set so low for her that if she manages not to trip or swear, she'll be hailed for proving those snobby elitist critics wrong again.

Moreover, wounded animals are always 100 times fiercer than animals in good shape, so I reckon that the wound-ier the McCain campaign gets, the more ferocious its attacks on Obama/Biden will become.

What's the right approach? I say back off and let Palin continue to write her own epitaph. The American people are not stupid. Between the War on Terror and the Terrible Economy, folks know that times are tough and fraught with the potential for disaster. They also know that John McCain is old and more likely to die in office than any president we've had at least since Franklin Roosevelt's fourth term. The more they see of Palin, the more even her admirers are going to realize, "Darn the luck, she seems like a swell lady, but we just don't have the luxury of rolling the dice on her."

Don't make her a martyr. Don't waste breath and column inches pointing out what Palin daily makes painfully obvious. Let Palin be Palin -- in fact, just let Palin be -- and let's take our argument for real, lasting Change to the American people, reminding them at every turn that John McCain isn't it.

Is Anybody In Charge of the Republican Party Right Now?

Let's recap. Yesterday, John McCain took credit for passing this bill before it passed. THEN he blamed Barack Obama for its failure to pass.

THEN, this morning, after everyone in America knew the bill had failed, the Republican National Committee ran an ad blaming Obama FOR PASSING the bill, that of course failed to pass.

Forget whiplash, I've snapped my neck!

McCain, Palin Spin Katie Couric in the Twilight Zone

Watch CBS Videos Online

Somebody should remind McCain that Bill Clinton was governor for 12 years, Attorney General of Arkansas for two years, and a law professor. Moreover, Ronald Reagan, who had been active in Republican politics for a generation and who'd been governor of California for eight years, would probably be surprised to hear his old bosom buddy John McCain compare him to a small-town mayor and 20-month governor of Alaska.

Couric's caught in The Twilight Zone.

Meanwhile, Katie Couric, God love her, finds out what Rod Serling felt like all those years.

Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain Counts the Chickens While His Party Smashes the Eggs

As John McCain's folksy running-mate, Sarah Palin, could have told him, you don't count your chickens before they hatch. Only in this case, you don't count your Republicans before they vote.

This morning, Sen. McCain lambasted Barack Obama mercilessly for "sitting on the sidelines" instead of taking leadership the way he did to save the economy by building a coalition for the bail-out. Then, when it came time for McCain's party to put up or shut up, McCain's own party balked, bucking both their nominee and their president and killing the bill 228 to 205.

It's one thing to take credit for things you had no hand in creating, like when McCain's campaign said he helped create the BlackBerry, or when Al Gore claimed to have "taken the initiative" in creating the Internet. But where some men see things as they are and ask "why," John McCain dreams things that never were ... and takes credit for them.

Car-"Mac" the Lackluster

Nobody can predict the future, and that's why all but the mentally infirm and the fraudulent snake-oil salesmen among us don't even try. I'm not saying Sen. McCain is mentally infirm or a fraud, but gosh, he's really not doing much to convince us all he's not.

In the best case scenaio, McCain isn't crazy or lying, but trying his hardest to make things come true merely by saing them. He's done this with the economy, with Sarah Palin, and every other thing that's gone south, so it's no surprise he's doing it now. This morning, he was Sky Masterson, cooing "Luck Be a Lady" into the ears of House Republicans and rolling them like dice, hoping against hope that he'd roll a winner.

"Sometimes luck has a very unladylike way of running out."

Then, when ol' Maverick Masterson's luck ran out, who did he blame? Barack Obama.

To sum it up, McCain's either crazy, a liar, or an unlucky compulsive gambler. None of the three leaves him fit to lead this great nation, in my judgment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Palin Says, "Invade Pakistan? You betcha!"

Sen. John McCain raised quite a fuss at Friday night's debate that Sen. Barack Obama has taken the position that if we know where bin Laden is inside Pakistan, and the Pakistani government won't act, we will. (This, by the way, has been the policy of the United States government since the Clinton Administration.) "You don't say that out loud," McCain scolded grumpily.

Well, as it turns out, his running-mate didn't get the memo. Gov. Sarah Palin has gone Obama one better, by saying the United States would send a ground invasion into Pakistan "if that's what we have to do."

"Put 'em up! PUT 'EM UP! I'll fight ya with one hand tied behind my back! I'll fight ya with one eye closed!"

I'm starting to wonder if we ought to give her and McCain a map of the world and a marker and tell them to cross off the countries that are actually SAFE from invasion in a McCain/Palin Administration. Russia? Iran? Pakistan? North Korea? Venezuela? Spain?

McCain quickly took an opportunity to point out that what Palin said wasn't actualy what she meant. This is yet another dramatic reversal for the McCain campaign, which you'll recall felt very strongly that "words mean something" back in those halcyon lipstick-on-on-a-pig days of relatively recent vintage.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Won the Debate By Showing Up Without Horns

After Friday night's presidential debate, I was initially very disappointed. "Well, we blew that one," I muttered, disgusted, much the way my Grandpa used to when the Cubs would give up a three-run homer in the top of the ninth.

I think my reaction was similar to Maureen Dowd's: why did Obama leave so much unsaid?

Why didn't Obama point out that McCain's campaign advisor's lobbying firm was still on the Freddie Mac Payroll until last month? Why didn't Obama get angry and fight back when McCain made those ridiculous allegations that Obama said he would just nance over to Iran to play footsie with Ahmadinejad?

When McCain bloviated for minutes and minutes about earmarks (to avoid having to talk about the economy), why didn't Obama remind McCain that his own running mate secured earmarks for Alaskans to study the mating habits of crabs? When McCain belittlingly scolded Obama that "the next president won't have to decide whether to go to war in Iraq," why in the world didn't Obama say, "No, Senator, but they might have to decide whether to bomb-bomb-bomb, bomb-bomb Iran, and I don't think the American people can trust your judgment on that"?

Why, why why? Instead of doing what I thought he should do, Obama made his points firmly but respectfully, and then backed off to let McCain speak ad nauseum to "my friends" about Vietnam, being a maverick, earmarks, and any number of other things he loves to drone on about.

I was sure we had lost the debate, and that after two disastrous weeks for McCain, Obama had just allowed McCain to recapture the initiative.

Boy, was I mistaken!

Within minutes, the "insta-polls" showed that debate watchers preferred Obama's performance by a wide margin. (CNN. CBS.) So why had I been so wrong? Why had more voters found that my candidate Barack Obama did so much better than I thought he did?

As I thought about it, I came to three reasons. First, most Americans probably have better things to do with their time than to follow every single piece of election-related news from hour to hour each day. Thus, they don't know all the minor details; they just know the big picture. So while I was judging Sen. Obama on what he didn't say, most of America probably judged both candidates on what they did say, and they liked what Obama said better.

Second, McCain really lived up to his reputation for nastiness. Over and over again, he said things like, "My opponent just doesn't understand," "what Sen. Obama doesn't seem to understand," et cetera. He spoke about Obama's "naivete." In other words, it wasn't that he thought Obama was wrong, it's that he thought Obama was stupid, and that an argument with Obama was really beneath him.

Nobody likes to be talked to that way. A friend of mine recently began an argument with me by saying, "Let me see if I can break it down for you in a way you might comprehend." Of course, I tuned out everything after that, because that's not the way grown people speak to one another.

McCain partisans will be quick to point out that Obama's most enduring indictment of McCain from his Democratic Convention speech was, "It isn't that John McCain doesn't care. It's that he doesn't get it." The thing is, I think John McCain has demonstrated over the past two weeks that he absolutely doesn't get it when it comes to the economy and how it's affecting working families. So when Obama said it, it rang true.

When McCain said that Obama "doesn't understand," however, it directly conflicted with what people could see before their very eyes, which was that Sen. Obama certainly did get it. You might disagree with him about Iran, Pakistan, tax cuts, or whatever, but there's no mistaking that Obama knows what he's talking about. Thus, rather than really cutting Obama down, McCain undermined his own credibility by repeating over and over again something that was demonstrably false.

(With no disrespect towards fans of Sen. Clinton, I might make the comparison to the primary season. Clinton ran as the "invincible" candidate, the only Democrat who could win. Then she lost in Iowa to Obama, and her argument that nobody but her could win was out the window. It's the same now with McCain saying Obama "doesn't understand.")

Third, because each candidate needed something very different from the debate, Obama had an easier job. McCain's playing the role of the drunken abusive boyfriend who's begging to be taken back again, because, "I promise, things'll be different this time." Obama, meanwhile, is the new guy trying to convince us all that we really deserve better.

"Stella! I promise having a Republican president will be different this time!"

What do I mean? The economy stinks, and McCain doesn't get it. When he pulled his little stunt and promised to save the economy or else skip the debate, Obama called his bluff, and not only did McCain come to the debate without saving the economy, he made it worse. Palin is a joke -- a loveable joke, but a joke nonetheless.

The Afghanistan War is seven, the Iraq War is five and a half, the deficit is the largest in history, credit is freezing, unemployment is creeping, banks are failing, other countries are catching up, Russia is saber-rattling, Galveston is a rotting corpse, and Bush has cried wolf so many times that even his own caucus in the House of Representatives doesn't trust him. The American people are crying out for change, and in their minds, they are all screaming, "ENOUGH!"

They want to vote Democratic. They want to reject McCain, the last eight years, the turbulent 1960s culture wars and Vietnam turmoil, incompetence, mean-spiritedness, unnecessary wars and uncontrollable economic turbulence.

But they also want to know that the sky won't fall and their kids won't die and they won't burn in hell for voting for a black Democrat with a funny name. Exhausted with the status quo, they are waiting for permission from their anxieties, their consciences, and their dead ancestors to vote for a dramatically different kind of president. And every time Obama appears in public not burning a flag or performing an abortion on live television, they are given that permission, because they see he's really just a regular guy.

I grew up in a very conservative Republican household in very conservative downstate Illinois, so I was 11 years old before I ever met someone who admitted that he was a liberal. Mom had a new boss, and when she introduced him to me, she said, "Ron, this is my son Levi. He's never met a liberal before. He thinks you all have green horns and tails." Ron laughed pleasantly as he shook my hand, then he leaned forward and showed me the top of his head. "See? No horns. Pleased to meet you."

My hand didn't wither and drop off. I didn't turn to stone. Ron didn't kidnap me or curse God. All of a sudden, everything I'd ever heard about the evil baby-killing, atheistic, taxing-and-spending, military-cutting, sodomizing liberals rang false. Ron was just a normal American guy.

What Barack Obama needed to do last night wasn't to grit his teeth and fire again and again and again at John McCain like John Wayne in The Sons of Katie Elder. He didn't need to get too many zingers in on McCain, or talk jnoisily over McCain to make sure he was the loudest debater. All Obama needed to do Friday night was lean forward to show the American people that he has no horns.

Because he did that, he won.

**Post script: the Gallup poll seems to confirm what I've said here. On Sunday, September 28 -- the first day following the debate -- the three-day average for the national poll of registered voters moved three points, with McCain dropping two points to 42 and Obama gaining a point to rise to 50. Obama leads by eight points.

You can watch the entire debate here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

With the Soft Touch of a Bull in a China Shop, McCain "Suspends Campaign," Dons Captain Maverick Suit to Save the Day

It's not surprising to me how devious and calculating the McCain campaign has become; after all, as they say, politics ain't bean bag. It's just surprising how poorly McCain pulls it off.

Surely you've heard by now that today, John McCain announced that the economic crisis was so big that it just couldn't be solved without him. So, saying he was putting his country ahead of politics, he suspended his campaign, tentatively called off this Friday's debate, and headed to Washington to fix everything.

Except, of course, none of that was true. The bail-out deal is nearing a consensus,and McCain is trying to swoop in at the last minute and take credit for something that the rest of Congress and the Bush Administration has sweated out for a week.

And McCain's campaign sent around a talking points memo to tell his surrogates how to exploit his "non-partisan" decision for nakedly partisan political gain. (Which, by the way, is to be expected 40 days before the election, but McCain shouldn't blow smoke up our wazoos by telling us that HE is completely above politics and is marching off to Washington self-sacrificingly. That's just patronizing and insultingly transparent -- maybe the first transparent thing about the McCain campaign since it chose Palin as McCain's running mate.)

Plus, if it's that important to McCain, why did he wait until today to bail out? Why not yesterday or the day before, when the Dow dropped much more precipitously than today and a bail-out seemed a lot more tentative?

And if it's such a terrible emergency, why did McCain ditch David Letterman, falsely claiming that he had to fly to Washington post-haste to save the world, when he (1) hadn't cast a roll call vote on ANY matter since April and (2) went over for a make-up job with Katie Couric rather than rushing to Congress like he said?

(Look for the make-up about 6:40 in the video.)

And if McCain is really just trying to put country first, if he isn't sneakily trying to cheat the American people out of 1/4 of their chances to hear from the two campaigns on the most important issues in debates, then why is he trying to get everyone to agree to scrap the vice-presidential debate altogether?

Maybe because Gov. Palin deals painful blows to the campaign every time she opens her mouth in public lately?

It kind of reminds me of high school, when some of the kids would drag in bleary-eyed on the Monday morning of a test and beg to postpone it, because something important came up over the weekend. (Nine times out of 10, the "something important" was a keg party rather than, say, a grandparent's death.) Surely the American people can sense that McCain is stalling, casting a grappling hook as far as he can and hoping that it catches on something he can use to stop his precipitous slippage.

Let me be clear. I do not believe for a second that John McCain really thinks that now, at the end of this bail-out negotiation, he needs to be in Washington. But I also don't believe that he's afraid to debate Barack Obama. After all, if the primary season is any indication, Obama usually doesn't shine in debates.

"There's no need to fear! Underdog is here!"

I think McCain is terrified at new polls showing his grasp on the race eroding. I think he is mortified that either his campaign manager Rick Davis has lied to him, or he has been caught in his own lie to the press, about Davis's lobbying firm receiving $15,000 a month from Freddie Mac until last month. I think he realizes what an absolute disaster last week was, as he flipped and flopped on his response to the economic crisis enough to make John Kerry look like the Rock of Gibraltar. And he figures, if I can just get people back to talking about how ambitious and selfish Obama-the-Celebrity is, instead of talking about how unscrupulous and clueless and volatile McCain is, then maybe he'll have a shot of winning.

I've got to hand it to McCain. He's not afraid to shake the snow globe and see where the flakes fall. If you gave him one of those choose-your-own-adventure books, I get the sense that he'd just pick the first option, every time, without batting an eye.

The problem, of course, is that the world isn't a snow globe, but an actual globe globe. And in the real world, the first option that comes to mind isn't always the best one, and sometimes it has disastrous consequences.

I say the Senators go to Washington, meet with Bush, put in their two cents' worth, and then get back to taking their cases to the American people. Putting aside politics for bipartisan cooperation is what brought us the Patriot Act and the Iraq War. Let's have the debates -- all of them -- so that folks can make an informed decision about how to cast their votes in just five short weeks.

Palin the Storm Trooper

Today, Governor Sarah Palin gave only her third news interview since becoming Sen. John McCain's running mate, to CBS News' Katie Couric.

Sen. Biden often sticks his foot in his mouth, but at least Sen. Obama trusts him enough as a person and competent leader that he gives him the opportunity to make mistakes. Everyone knows he's competent, even conservatives, so if he's not particularly well-spoken from time to time, he gets the benefit of the doubt, God love 'im.

But they've got Gov. Palin memorizing her answers.

The key to seeming like you haven't memorized answers is changing them a little bit if the question changes slightly.

I'm reminded of one of my favorite stories from middle school. The students in my grammar class traded their papers to grade, and I got the paper of a guy who, to put it kindly, wasn't known as a stellar student. But I was amazed: as the teacher read off the correct answers from the book, the guy was getting every single answer 100% correct. But his answer to the last question -- an essay question -- was a little curious: "Answers may vary."

I raised my hand and said, "Mrs. Kling? My paper says, 'Answers may vary.'" Well, it was immediately apparent to Mrs. Kling that my guy had cheated, copying the answers straight out of the book. He went to the principal's office, and that was that.

The crack-me-up funny part of Sarah Palin's rote memorization of stock lines of fluff is that her answers don't vary. It's the same thing over and over and over again. Maverick, hockey mom, shake up Washington, reform, thanks but no thanks, maverick, maverick, maverick. It's like John McCain is a Jedi, and she's a storm trooper.

I'll tell you what I want to know. Who the heck's going to be whispering the answers into her ear if John McCain dies?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Update on Rick Davis, John McCain's Favorite Pimp

Remember my post Monday about the Madam, the Pimp, and the Legislator?

The New York Times reports tonight that not only did John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis lobby for failed mortgage giant Freddie Mac, but Freddie continued to pay $15,000 a month to Davis's firm until this August. As in, last month!

This despite the fact that McCain said Sunday that Davis had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

The American people are entitled to know what was that $15,000 a month was for, aren't we? And even if it was for the pure heck of it, why has the McCain campaign insisted on distortion and out-and-out lying, as it has done with so many issues lately, on out-and-out lying. What's he hiding?

If the mortgage industry's payroll is the same as John McCain's, who do you think's going to have OUR back if John McCain gets in the White House?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Nervous About Venezuela, Russia, and Iran? Thank the Republican Party.

Americans are justifiably nervous about Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and others of their ilk who seem increasingly to be defying America and its allies.

Headlines today broadcast that the Russian navy is sailing to Venezuela. Russia is getting more and more cozy with Iran. And even though it's all been taking place on George W. Bush's watch, Republicans, and especially super-conservative Republicans, are blaming the Democrats as usual.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: Brought to You in Part By the Republican Party
John McCain and Sarah Palin have been blaming Barack Obama for "choosing politics rather than the national interest" in not taking a tough enough stance against Iran and Russia. And just today, a Republican family member forwarded me a crazy, crazy e-mail from a Political Action Committee made up of conservative evangelicals "supporting Israel," blaming liberals and the devil for letting Ahmadinejad gain more and more power and grow to pose a grave threat to Israel. (See the bottom of this post at the *.)

Here's a news flash: nobody likes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nobody likes Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and nobody likes Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin. And no reasonable Americans -- not liberals, not atheists, not Muslims, not anybody else -- thinks that the rise of these nations and the demagogues who lead them is good for either Israel or America. But here's another news flash: it ain't liberalism or the devil that's caused this problem.

What we're seeing is America's power slipping away, the greatest country in the world taking its eyes off the ball and getting lazy. Right in front of us today, a fundamental reallignment of power is taking place in the world, where forces are once again drawing up and taking sides reminiscent of the opposing powers in both World Wars, although with any luck, we'll be able to keep this competition to one of ideals and economics rather than guns.

Seemingly set on bringing back an East/West War as cold as his eyes, here's Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin: Brought to You in Part by the Republican Party.

By sailing its navy into the Western Hemisphere to participate in maneuvers with Venezuela, Russia is openly defying the 185-year-old Monroe Doctrine, and it's doing it for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. And why aren't we protecting our turf, defending our hegemony in the hemisphere? We can't right now.

But unlike that asinine e-mail forward, this has nothing to do with "Gog and Magog" or a "liberal State Department" (which is about as ridiculous as saying the "liberal Southern Baptist Convention," by the way). It has to do with two things: The Iraq War, and America being broke.

I. Iraq War

Our personnel and equipment are painfully, painfully overstretched in Iraq, with people doing two and three tours of duty. And let's not forget that we're still fighting in Afghanistan, where this year has been the deadliest year of the now-seven-year-old war, and nobody cared. And let's also not forget that we're still in Korea, and we're still in Germany, and we're all over the world in places we can't just leave.

So who's going to stop Ahmadinejad? America? I'm sure Iran right now would respond with the the common playground taunt, "America and what army???"

We used to have a little more cushion from our allies, but we have trashed our alliances because they wouldn't get on board with the Iraq War. It was all fine and dandy in 2003 to say, "If the world won't back us, we'll go it alone in Iraq," but now five years later, we're still in Iraq, the world still doesn't back us, and we can't go it alone.

This president, who ran and won two campaigns on "big military" and "national security" has left us stretched dangerously, dangerously, dangerously thin. If you wonder why nobody batted an eye when Russian tanks rolled into Georgia, or why no one seems bothered by the fact that Russia is right now sailing into South American waters unmolested by the United States Navy, it's because America trying stand up to them now would be like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown": we are in a position of weakness. And it's not unpatriotic to say so. It's unpatriotic to have allowed us to get this way in the first place.

We all want to help our friend, Israel. But if you want to help Israel, if you want to stand up to Russia and Venezuela before more and more little countries start to sense that the U.S. can't protect them anymore and run to hide themselves in Putin's skirts, then we have got to get the heck out of Iraq. Barack Obama has always realized it, George W. Bush finally realizes it, but John McCain and Sarah Palin still don't realize it -- and still apparently think we can take on both Russia and Iran while we're stuck in Iraq for 100 years.

II. National Debt

But on top of Iraq, Iran and Russia's bellicosity also has to do with the fact that we are about to be $11.6 trillion dollars in debt -- $38,667 for every man, woman, and child in America -- and to whom?

Japan, China, Great Britain, oil sheiks, et cetera. This bail-out we're talking about is going to literally borrow a trillion new dollars -- 1,000,000,000,000 new dollars -- from China, Japan, England, etc., and put it straight into the pockets of Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and others like them, in exchange for mortgages and loans that aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

That money isn't coming from nowhere, out of thin air. We're not just printing it out of imagination. And heaven knows that nobody in an election year would pass, and Bush would never sign, a tax increase to pay for it with -- gasp! -- actual cold, hard cash. (After all, taxes are unpatriotic, if John McCain can be believed.)

We're borrowing against our souls and the souls of our grandchildren, from some of our fiercest world competitors, and we're not even using that money for our own growth and betterment -- better roads, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, water systems, police forces, courthouses. We're not using it to put our people to work. We're borrowing a trillion dollars to give the heck away.

So not only are we not militarily able to stand up to the thugs of the world, but we aren't financially able. China holds almost 1/5 of our national debt. Suppose they got angry with us and refused to loan us anymore, or called in some of their markers, what would happen? The dollar wouldn't be worth two hoots, because America's ability to pay would be destroyed. Now, they aren't likely to do that, because if they did, they'd have $200,000,000,000 worth of our IOUs that wouldn't be worth anything, either, but when we owe half the world, we can't continue to walk around like we're the cocks of the walk without being harmed.

Think of it like a gangster movie. We're the guy with the gambling problem who is in deep with the loan sharks and the mob bosses, and as long as we can pay, they'll keep us around, but the moment we make them angry or start to be worth more to them dead than we are alive, then it's concrete shoes for us.

And who got us into this shape? Who got us into the position where China and Japan have us by the shorthairs, where we come, hat in hand, begging them for money to bail out our mortgage industry, only to have China and Japan directly snatch up some of our businesses? Who got us into the position that we have so little leverage that, just last week, after Americans have fought and bled and died and spent $1 trillion in Iraq the past five years, the Iraqis decided they'd rather give their oil contract -- to CHINA!?

I'll tell you who. It's the same people who sold the American public a bill of goods that they could pay some of the lowest taxes in history and still fight two wars, still have good homeland security, and still have the best minds and inventions and industries in the world.

And those SAME PEOPLE today, who are trying to whip us up into a frenzy about "vote to save Israel" and "vote to stop anti-Christ Ahmadinejad," are going to cut more taxes, borrow more money, and cut out more federal banking protections if they are returned to office, to make us just that much more beholden to China and Japan and just that much more unable to stand up to bullies like Iran and Russia and Venezuela.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Brought to You in Part by the Republican Party.

So congratulations, Republican Party. You have given away the store. Ronald Reagan ended the first Cold War, and before the grass has had time to grow over his grave, you have brought us right to the doorstep of the second -- one that we are going to have to make drastic, drastic changes as a nation if we want to have any hope of winning.


* (My favorite parts are in bold.)
Jerusalem Report, from the founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team

Dear ____, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is all smiles today. The liberal U.S. State Department has granted him an entrance visa in order to speak at the U.N. meeting in New York. Ahmadinejad will be able to gleefully share his belief that all of America’s economic problems, terrorist attacks abroad, hurricanes, etc., are the judgment of Allah on “the Great Satan.”

Just this week, and as a result of calls for a halt to Iran’s nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said, “If anyone allows themselves to invade Iranian territory and its legal interests... our armed forces will break their hands before they pull the trigger.”

Following his appearance before the U.N. on September 17, 2005, Ahmadinejad related his occultist experience while delivering his speech:

“When I spoke at the UN and began saying Bismullah Muhammed a green light came upon me and I was placed in this aura …I felt it …the atmosphere changed and for 27 to 28 minutes all the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they did not blink I am not exaggerating. They were looking as if a hand was holding them there.”

Humanistic blinders are keeping world leaders from seeing the true nature of Ahmadinejad’s doggedness and determination to end Western democratic freedoms and replace them with Sharia Law.

On another critical note, reports surfaced this week that Russia is going to sell advanced S300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran to guard their nuclear power sites from Israeli air attacks. Despite the protests of the U.S. government, they are apparently rushing this sale to help ensure that Iran gets nuclear weapons.

This news makes it even more likely that Israel will be forced to move quickly to make certain that a government which has vowed to “wipe them off the map” does not acquire the means to do so.

Is this crucial moment in history foretold in the Word of God? Found in Ezekiel 38 is the prophecy that Russia (Gog and Magog) will join with Persia (Iran) to attack the nation of Israel. Things are falling into place, just as Scripture tells us.

We must pray for God's deliverance like never before! Help us gather believers to pray by forwarding this email to your list today.

God has promised to deliver His Chosen People, through the prayers of those of us who know the truth. He has called the Jerusalem Prayer Team into existence for this moment, for “such a time as this,” to deliver the Jews from destruction. Just as Esther and Nehemiah stood up for their people, this is our moment to stand.

Sign the petition to support Israel today. I will personally deliver the petition to Israel.

Your financial support makes it possible for us to encourage believers from all over the world to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the defense of Israel. God will hold us responsible for speaking out to leaders and praying and seeking His face. We must obey His command to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:6)

Support the Jerusalem Prayer Team today and do your part to defend Israel from those who want to see her destroyed.

Your help makes all the difference!

Your Ambassador to Jerusalem,

Dr. Michael Evans

The Madam, The Pimp, and The Lawmaker: A Parable of McCain The Deregulator

This just in: John McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis -- his number-one guy -- lobbied John McCain himself to make sure that failed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stayed loosely regulated.

Maverick? Change? Clean up Washington? Give me a break.
This guy was aggressively lobbied by the very industry he now denounces for "corporate greed" and "special interest" and "pork-barrel projects" -- AND HE MADE THE LOBBYIST THE HEAD OF HIS CAMPAIGN!

To break this down, how about a parable?

The Madam.

A certain Madam hires a Pimp to go to the state capital to lobby a powerful 26-year Lawmaker to keep prostitution legal and to make sure the State Health Department doesn't require too many STD tests. The Madam knows the Lawmaker wants to run for Governor someday, and it never hurts for a girl to have a powerful friend in the Governor's Mansion.

The Brothel.

Over time, the Lawmaker gets to be such good friends with the Pimp that he asks his buddy the Pimp to run his campaign for Governor. Meanwhile, a violent epidemic of syphillis breaks out, and suddenly people are understandably very angry at brothels all over the State.

The Pimp.

Sensing he needs to create a diversion, the Lawmaker pretends he's been against brothels all along and starts calling his Opponent a bunch of names, like "Consort of Ladies of the Evening." And the Lawmaker promises to give all the hookers penicillin, because right now, the main thing is just to make sure that the hookers don't spread any more disease. But boy, oh boy, when he gets to be Governor, watch out! He's going to appoint strict, no-nonsense guys to the State Health Department, and they'll shut all this brothel nonsense down. (But they won't pass out penicillin to just anybody. After all, they might run out.)

All this comes despite the fact that it is well documented that the Opponent has no use for pimps. And all the while, the Pimp is still pulling the strings of the Lawmaker's campaign, laughing hysterically in the background at just how unbelievably, brazenly shameless the Lawmaker is.

The Lawmaker.

The Lawmaker is happy, the Pimp is happy, the Madam and all her hookers are happy with their penicillin and renewed health. But you know who's not happy? The whole population of the State who's now got painful, life-threatening syphillis, thanks to making some poorly-advised business transactions with some very dirty ladies -- ladies who were protected by the 26-year Lawmaker and his buddy the Pimp.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Counting Blue Cars

Newsweek reports that while Barack and Michelle Obama have one car, John and Cindy McCain -- wait for it -- have 13.

There's nothing wrong with wealth and success, and having 13 cars certainly doesn't mean the McCain's can't understand the plight of ordinary Americans. But I'm about fed up with the malarkey that the Democrats are elite and out-of-touch.

Thirteen cars!? I don't even own 13 place settings for my table.

Republicans Break Out Familiar Scare Tactics for Bail-Out Legislation

Why do Republicans care more about banks and insurance companies than they do about working families? And why, with the most important and expensive economic decision in seven decades to make, are they so interested in shutting down discussion and debate?

The Democrats want to make sure that if the Wall Street hedge fund managers, CEOs, and yes, the shareholders, have the benefit of a safety net of 700,000,000,000 soft dollar bills, then people whose homes are about to be foreclosed, who've lost their jobs, and who are hungry are also protected. Why should taxpayers be asked to bail out big companies in this financial crisis, if the government won't also toss them a life preserver when they are drowning in the same crisis?
The financial crisis we face today is very, very dire, and I certainly don't think it's acceptable for Congress to do nothing, or to stall unreasonably. However, I am troubled that the Bush Administration and the Republicans are using the same type of language to scare people today that they used when they rammed the Patriot Act and the Iraq War Resolution through Congress.

Patriot Act

The Patriot Act came fully formed from John Ashcroft's Justice Department to Congress, and there was so little discussion or debate that only one Senator -- Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voted against it. It took only until October 26 -- six weeks after September 11 -- to pass the gigantic bill. Democrats were warned not to be "irresponsible," not to "seek political advantages by making incendiary suggestions." Even though the bill ran to hundreds or thousands of pages, it was passed in the blink of an eye: Congress trusted the Bush Administration and the Justice Department to tell it the truth. Plus, there was the implication that, if Democrats asked questions and held up the legislation at all, they would be responsible for another terrorist attack; "do this, or you'll kill Americans" was the tacit Republican argument.

As it turned out, though there was a lot good about the Patriot Act, or at least a lot of fair-to-middlin', there was also a lot of bad that should have been stopped by careful Representatives and Senators asking hard questions.

Iraq War Resolution

Or how about the Iraq War Resolution, which was rammed through Congress just a year later, in October 2002? Sixty-nine percent of the House of Representatives voted for it, and so did 77 percent of the Senate. The implication for Democrats was, "Surely you don't want Saddam Hussein to nuke Israel or America with that yellow-cake uranium from Niger, just because you were too cowardly to take him out. Do this, or you'll kill Americans and Israelis," went the argument.

And yet, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, which you remember was the original reason we were told we had to go to war, and which we now know was a lie. And everyone just sort of shrugged, and said, "Oh well. Saddam was a bad man who needed to be taken out."

(Sounds a lot like Grandma after she used to spank us grandkids, and when we'd ask what it was for, she'd say, "Well, you probably did something you oughtta be spanked for."

Looking back, I think I could have been persuaded to go to war in Iraq, had I and the American people been told the truth. If we really believe as a country that we have an obligation to install democracies and to overthrow oppressive regimes, then let's have that debate and see if the American people get behind it. But let's not pretend that the war's about something it's not, you know? And let's not rush into anything without a fully informed debate.

Wall Street Bailout

Now, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Republicans on the Hill are once again warning Democrats that there could be dire consequences if they don't fall in line immediately and pass the bail-out bill. Once again, the bill came, fully formed, from the Executive for Congress to rubber-stamp. Once again, there's no time, no time, no time for debate, and the implication is, "Come on, Democrats. You don't want to be responsible if the world's economy collapses on your watch, do you? Do this, or you'll starve Americans and everybody else!"

"We need to deal with this and deal with it quickly," says Paulson. "It pains me tremendously to have the American taxpayer put in this position but it is better than the alternative." What Paulson means to say without having to say it is that "the alternative" will be disastrous, and it will definitely be the Democrats' fault if they try to ask any questions or add any other aid to the bill.

House Minority Leader John Boener, R-Ohio (who, by the way, has the most soulless blue eyes I've ever seen), said, "This would be the most serious financial crisis that the world has ever dealt with. It is not a time to be playing games."

It says something to me about President Bush's ability to judge character that he can look into both Vladimir Putin's eyes and John Boehner's and feel convinced that either of them has a soul. (I'm just kidding. I'm sure Boehner has a soul. I just think his eyes look cruel.)

Playing games? Is that what families struggling to make ends meet mean to you, Congressman? Is that what folks losing their homes mean? Fathers and mothers who can't put food on the table because their jobs are gone and the unemployment is about to run out? Come on.

Nobody in America thinks that the government can do nothing to solve this crisis. Corporations -- entire industries -- have to be saved to keep everybody afloat. But my gosh, would it kill the Republicans to lend a hand directly to working people at the same time they're prepared to take on another $1,000,000,000,000 of national debt to save Wall Street? I don't think so, and neither do the Democrats.

But just as in the Patriot Act, just as in the Iraq War Resolution, Republicans are once again trying to beat the Democrats into voting for a bill without making sure it's the best bill we can get.

I hope it doesn't work this time. I hope the Democrats make John Boehner and the Republicans go explain to working families why they won't help them feed and house and educate their kids today, but they're willing to saddle their great-grandkids with an extra trillion dollars of debt to pay tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Proud to Be a Taxpaying American

After a disastrous week so far, today the McCain campaign tried unsuccessfully to grab some traction out something Joe Biden said.

Asked about taxes on Good Morning America this morning, Biden repeated something he'd said earlier this month: “Anyone making over $250,000 ... is going to pay more,” Biden interjected. “You got it. It’s time to be patriotic, Kate. It’s time to jump in, it’s time to be part of the deal, it’s time to help get America out of the rut.”

John McCain immediately jumped in front of a camera to rant about just how un-American it was to say that taxes were patriotic. "Raising taxes in a tough economy is not patriotic, it's not a badge of honor," McCain said at campaign stop in Iowa today. "It's just plain dumb."

Republicans and McCain's other fellow travelers of the Right wasted no time lining up to sound the alarm -- Rush Limbaugh , Matt Drudge, NewsMax, and other people who just generally hate taxes.

Of course, the Republican reaction made me angry. Biden didn't say it was patriotic to raise taxes; he said it was patriotic to pay taxes. And most folks know by now that under Senator Obama's plan, people making less than $250,000 a year will get a tax cut; folks fortunate enough to make more than that will be asked to pay a little higher percentage.

But some people get upset even when they realize that only those those with yearly incomes topping a quarter million dollars will face a tax increase. They call Sen. Obama a socialist (even though it's their party that just nationalized a large part of the mortage industry), a class warrior, and various unprintables. According to them, Obama's plan just isn't good enough if it doesn't lower everyone's taxes. It's not fair to "blame" the wealthy for their wealth, to "punish them" for being successful, they argue. Taxes are bad, government is bad, and the two together are poisonous.

I'm sure this will come as a shock to none of you, but I disagree.

Before the British hanged him, Nathan Hale said of America, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Would he be ashamed of wealthy Americans today who aren't even willing to part with a couple more measley percentage points of income?

First of all, somebody has to pay taxes. In case anyone has forgotten, we are fighting two wars and scrambling to be prepared for a potential third. The national debt -- much of which is owned by everybody's favorite Communist country, China -- is approaching ten trillion dollars. That's $10,000,000,000,000, if you're keeping track of zeros at home. As anyone who's ever financed an extravagant lifestyle with a Mastercard knows, that bill will come due sooner or later. How are we going to pay it? Sell Alaska back to Russia?
Second of all, the idea that people who make more should pay more comes straight from the Bible. The simplest, most straightforward statement on progressive taxation in Western civilization is, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." And remember that Christ instructed His followers to "render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Mind you, I don't think "because God said so" is an adequate justification for government policy, but I'm always intrigued that the same party that boasts the Christian Right also embraces a fundamentally anti-Christian tax structure.
You've heard the old story about the chicken who suggests to the pig that they get involved in a breakfast restaurant focusing on bacon-and-eggs: the pig, of course, has justifiable qualms about the idea. At the risk of reminding us of last week's mindless misconstrued pig metaphors, I'll just say there are a lot of pigs giving their all in this country right now while a lot of chickens do a lot of squawking every time they're asked to surrender a few more eggs.

James Otis, Jr., to whom is attributed the famous Revolutionary quote, "Taxation without representation is tyranny!" Notice he didn't say there was anything tyrannical about taxation itself.

But on a more personal level, I consider it an honor to pay my taxes. Granted, I'd like a competent, more efficient government to make better use of my tax dollars. But I love this country that has given me so much, so many opportunities that generations before me didn't have, that people in other countries still don't have today. I love our Constitution and legal system. I love our culture. I love the beauty of our landscape, the convenience of our Internet and interstate highway system, the diversity of our ideas.

I love that I can turn on the kitchen sink and drink a whole gallon of tap water without fearing dysentery. I love that I can go to sleep at night knowing that there are cops on the street to protect my life and property, and there are soldiers in distant lands standing guard to protect my liberty and the security of my as-yet-unborn children. I love that for a lousy $.42, I can drop a letter in the mailbox in Chicago, Illinois, and by the next afternoon, have it delivered anywhere in the United States (except maybe Wasilla).

I love that I went to a state-funded college and state-funded law school so that, thanks to the generosity of the United States government, I have 30 years to pay back what I never could have afforded up front.

I love that I can pack my suitcase and walk one block to get on a public transportation bus that will take me five miles to an Amtrak station, where I can board a train that will take me all the way from Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico.

I love that Teddy Roosevelt sailed America's Great White Fleet ostentatiously around the world, just to prove he could. And I love that when a world got sick of sailing around Cape Horn, Teddy Roosevelt moved Congress, heaven, and a whole lot of earth to carve a canal through the Isthmus of Panama.

I love that I can drive to Kentucky and see a mass of concrete, rock, and steel where another Roosevelt and raw American grit tamed the flow of the Tennessee River to electrify a valley and power a country back to its feet again.

A miracle of American sweat and ingenuity (not to mention good Democratic governance), Kentucky Dam, seen here on August 3, 2008.

And I love that I can walk through Arlington National Cemetery and wonder how many free people there are in this world today thanks to every one of those stately American tombstones.

And none of that -- not a drop -- would be possible without the tax dollars of patriotic Americans.

After 9/11, many of my friends and family members enlisted in the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and National Guard forces. Many of them fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, some served two or three tours before they were through, some still serve today. Thankfully, none of my loved ones have died, but the fact that they have been willing to die makes them worthy of eternal honor, in my opinion.

But most of us didn't go. Most of us have stayed here at home either patriotically supporting or patriotically opposing the Iraq War, and going about the business of working our jobs and raising our families and mowing our lawns and living our lives. For us, the very least we can do for America and for those men and women who served it so selflessly is to pay our taxes with a smile and thank Almighty God that we're still alive and free to do it.

With $1000 in rent and $1000 in student loan payments monthly, I'm not exactly rolling in the dough, but if I had my druthers, I'd tell Obama to keep my tax cut, because America needs it worse than I do right now. I'm just as proud to pay my taxes to keep America moving as I am to give my church offering to keep the light bill paid.
I don't know how much Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Mitt Romney, and Cindy McCain pay each year in payroll taxes, but I pay $12,284.64.

And it's worth every dime.

Alaska's "First Dude" Says Thanks, But No Thanks to Bipartisan Investigation Into Wife's Abuse of Power

This might be new. I don't think Lynne Cheney was ever subpoenaed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Republicans' Theory of Government as Bankrupt as Lehman Bros.

In all the media hubbub over the McCain campaign's three gaffes yesterday (one, two, and three), I think we overlooked a subtler but more fundamental revelation that sums up the Republican Party's entire theory of government: it's not that big a deal.

When Carly Fiorina, one of McCain's top economic advisors and former (ousted) CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was asked on a radio show whether she believed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "has the experience to run a major company, like Hewlett-Packard," Fiorina answered abruptly, "No I don't. But you know what? That's not what she's running for [laughs]. Running a corporation is a different set of things." A tougher set of things, she meant to say.

The media apparently realized that this was a pretty dumb thing to say before Fiorina realized it, because when Andrea Mitchell asked her about it later on MSNBC, she not only reiterated it. She amplified it!

"Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation; I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation; I don't think Joe Biden could run a major corporation. But, on the other hand, running a major corporation is not the same as being the president or the vice president of the United States. It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company."

Wikipedia describes "gaffe" partially as a mistake "that may come from saying something that is true, but inappropriate." Fiorina's statements yesterday were a gaffe of the highest order. They represented exactly what Bush, McCain, and the Republican Party have come to think of government. The only mistake was that someone forgot to tell Fiorina it was a secret.

Remember when Bush bragged about being just a C-student? Remember "Heckuva Job" Brownie, whom Bush had appointed to FEMA in time for him to completely botch the Katrina evacuation and recovery? How about Harriet Miers, the startlingly unqualified Bush nod to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor who went on to a dwindling career of Congress-stalling ignominy? How about Monica Goodling and the other 149 graduates of Pat Robertson's sham law school Regent University who found their way into the Bush Administration, surely on their merits, just in time to be at the center of the U.S. Attorneys scandal?

Well, that's just Bush's Washington, you might say. Fair enough, how about the employees of the Department of the Interior who were sharing alcohol, drugs, and illicit sex with the very oil employees they were supposed to be overseeing and regulating? They were in Denver, away from Washington, proving that Republican incompetence spans at least 2/3 of our continent.

Even so, you say, that still falls under the giant umbrella known as "The Bush Administration." In a McCain Campaign, the era of bad government is over. He's a maverick! He's going to take on the special interests and clean up Washington. Change is coming, and it's riding in on a white horse called competence!

Of course, the problem with that is that, in the single most important decision he has had to make so far in this campaign, he chose one-half-term Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate -- a person who thinks she's ready to be commander-in-chief because she can see Russia from her state, who doesn't have any definition of the Bush Doctrine, let alone the right one, who has switched her position on the Bridge to Nowhere from "yes" to "no," and who has also switched her position on cooperating with an investigation into her possible abuses of power with the same answers. Even current and/or former McCain fans Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Charlie Krauthammer, David Brooks, David Will, and Richard Cohen have noted how unready, how unqualified, how strikingly lacking in basic competence Palin is.

Which brings us back to Fiorina. The thrust of her argument was that government wasn't rocket science, that little old America could make do with the leftovers after all the corporations, heck, even small businesses had had their pick of the litter. It's in keeping with Cindy McCain's nakedly tone-deaf statement at the Republican Convention that life would be a dream, sweetheart, if we could just get the pesky government off our backs and out of our way!

With apologies to Hallmark, the Republican Party's motto should be, "America: When You Care Enough to Send the Fair-to-Middlin'."

Nearly three decades ago, Ronald Reagan said of the nation's crisis at the time, "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. " But when Republicans took the reins of power, rather than shrinking government, or streamlining it, or staffing it with the best-qualified, most competent, most highly productive employees it could find in order to reduce the waste of the public's cash and confidence, they have taken the law-school-by-mail, Brownie/Harriet/Carly/Crony route and left us with the most broke, least competent, least efficient government in my lifetime.

Fiorina's statement that McCain/Palin aren't fit to run Hewlett-Packard but are quite good enough to lead the free world is nothing more than the bastard child of a bankrupt philosophy and unimaginative minds. It reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira, who in the Book of Acts told the Apostles that they had given their very best to the Church but who, in reality, had held back their choicest offerings for themselves. And God struck them dead.

I know America isn't God, but I'm a guy who believes America deserves the very best leadership and governance we can find. "Good enough" isn't good enough for the greatest country in the history of the world.

Washington Post Reiterates My Point

Doesn't this sound like my post from last night?

Per the Washington Post, "A decade ago, Sen. John McCain embraced legislation to broadly deregulate the banking and insurance industries, helping to sweep aside a thicket of rules established over decades in favor of a less restricted financial marketplace that proponents said would result in greater economic growth. Now, as the Bush administration scrambles to prevent the collapse of the American International Group (AIG), the nation's largest insurance company, and stabilize a tumultuous Wall Street, the Republican presidential nominee is scrambling to recast himself as a champion of regulation to end ‘reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed’ on Wall Street."

Obama Sets Forth Simple, Straightforward Plan for Economic Recovery

Here it is: real straight talk, in five plain, simple points. You can disagree with the points, but you can't say that he doesn't have a plan. Please note in this entire two-minute ad the lack of any mention of calling "a 9/11 Commission" to do a study on what went wrong.

Obama's plan: No commissions, no stalling, no bull.

Told You So: Republican Front Group Accuses Obama of Babykilling

Remember just three days ago when I said that Republicans would try to say Barack Obama voted to kill babies? Well call me a prophet.

Presuming this lady is telling the truth, I feel for her plight, and so does Sen. Obama. That's why he opposes late-term abortions except in cases in which the mother's life or health is in grave danger.

But as I've said before, Illinois law has protected babies born alive in failed abortions since 1975. Really!

"(b) Subsequent to the abortion, if a child is born alive, the physician required by Section 6(2)(a) to be in attendance shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as would be required of a physician providing immediate medical care to a child born alive in the course of a pregnancy termination which was not an abortion. Any such physician who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly violates Section 6(2)(b) commits a Class 3 felony."

Don't believe the lies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

McCain's Plan for Economic Tsunami: Tread Water

Rocked back on its heels by the implosion of some of America's biggest financial institutions, the McCain campaign is employing a new tactic that should be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a comedy movie, a sitcom, or a cartoon: they're stalling.

You know the comedies moments I'm talking about. It's the chase scene where the bad guys come looking for the protagonist, and some beautiful woman distracts them and says, misleadingly, "He went that-a-way!" Or it's the love scene, where the jealous and suspicious husband comes home early from a business trip, and the wife has only seconds to secret away her paramour somewhere her husband won't look. Or it's every other episode ever of Saved by the Bell, where Mr. Belding is onto those pesky Bayside kids' schemes, and Screech or Lisa has to confuse or divert him until Zack et al. can escape. Classic moments of hilarity.

The difference is that this is no comedy. In fact, if we elect a man who has no idea how to fix the economy -- heck, a man who doesn't even think the economy is broken -- his stalling could turn into an American tragedy.

Exhibit A in the case of McCain v. Economic Crisis is McCain's own words today, in which he called for a "9/11 commission to find out what happened and what needs to be fixed."

Respectfully, we don't need a 9/11 commission to find out what went wrong, for two reasons. First, this isn't a whodunnit. It's fairly open-and-shut. People gave mortgages and loans and credit lines to bad credit risks, and then tried to spread risks (and wealth) by parceling up those mortgages and loans and credit lines and selling them to the highest bidder. Billions and billions of dollars were spent on mortgages that weren't worth a tinker's damn, and the bottom finally fell out of the whole shooting match.

Second, we already have an organism in place to investigate financial crises, fraud, excess speculation, et cetera. You might have heard of it. It's called "Congress."

McCain went on to say, "I know what's wrong, and I know how to fix it." At the same time, McCain reminded Harry Smith on CBS This Morning, "I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Every part of the American economy, I oversighted [sic]. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Sen. Obama does."

Fantastic. He's been in office since 1982, when I was 13 months old -- 26 years! If he has known what's wrong, and how to fix it, why hasn't he done it? Why is today, September 16, 2008, the first time we've heard him talk about it?

John McCain during an earlier financial crisis, the "Keating Five" scandal, which nearly led to the stillbirth of his Senate career.

The reason McCain knows what's wrong is because he has been a part of the problem, or at least a passive, uninterested bystander. John McCain and the Republicans saying they're going to fix the problem when they get to the White House is a little like massive amounts of cash going missing from a till while you're the clerk on duty and then promising to track down the wrongdoers if you can only, pretty please, be promoted to store manager.

As any animal owner knows, the best way to know whether a dog's gonna bite is to know whether he's bitten before. McCain has bitten before. He's long described himself as "fundamentally a deregulator." He has made a career of the Goldwater philosophy, cutting through rules, regulations, and safeguards for the American public to make things simple, to do as his wife said at the Republican Convention and get the government "out of our way!"

And now the American people are hurting, crying out for more oversight, more protections, more rules and referees to make sure that never again will the "Masters of the Universe" land daintily on their private islands using golden parachutes while the rest of us -- taxpayers and stockholders and jobless ex-employees -- are left to clean up their mess. And John McCain just doesn't get it. He's incapable of understanding the importance of sound regulations.

He just doesn't get that the American people are sick and tired of these careless Tom and Daisy Buchanans who "smash things up and retreat into their money." I doubt he'll get it until Cindy McCain can't afford $300,000 outfits and their kids can't afford $50,000 balances on their American Express cards anymore.

But he's starting to get it just enough to realize that he's got to stop telling Americans it's all in their head, and he's treading water, going through the motions, trying like the dickens to throw America off his scent long enough for him to squeak into the presidency by the skin of his teeth. (I love mixed metaphors, by the way.)

Last night, the McCain campaign tried to squeeze a couple more days' worth of news out of Sarah Palin by announcing it would defy the requests of the Alaska legislature to comply with an investigation into Palin's possible abuses of power while governor. The press didn't bite. The economy was too important.

Then today, McCain's top domestic policy guru Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin tried to say McCain could handle the economy because, after all, he'd helped create the BlackBerry. And then, sensing reporters might be about as inclined to buy that as they were that Al Gore invented the internet, Holtz-Eakin went on to say that although McCain had a plan for the economy, it wasn't important "to write down exactly what the plan has to be. [...] I think that the moment when we write down a specific plan is the moment we send legislation out from a McCain administration to Congress. That’s the moment that happens.’’

I have about as much faith in John McCain's secret plan for the economy as savvy people had for Richard Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam. This is a guy who has said not once, not twice, but at least 16 times over the past nine months, that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," as the economy has careened out of control and greed has continued unchecked.

John McCain is stalling, stonewalling the American people with oblivious and empty rhetoric. He's trying his dead-level best to keep us all occupied until November. Here's hoping We the People are a lot smarter than Mr. Belding.