What if Sarah Palin is the parody?

by lestro

This past weekend on SNL, Tina Fey once again parodied Sarah Palin, this time using Palin’s actual responses from the now infamous Katie Couric interview.

But what if Sarah Palin really is a parody?

What if this is all just a crazy character and she’s working us all, like Borat or Andy Kaufman?

Think about it in pure stereotypical, demographic, Hollywood terms:

A former beauty queen from a small town in Alaska who marries a half-Native snow mobile champ; She’s a born-again young-earth creationist who is blessed by a witch-hunter and believes the Flintstones are real; She has five kids, including the oldest (named Track) in the military, and her pregnant, unwed teenage daughter planning a wedding; Palin wins mayor on big, national, wedge issues; She goes on to governor, where she gets deep into a scandal that started with a sister in a bad divorce with a state trooper.

Then she was picked out of obscurity and thrown onto the Republican ticket at a time when the country is in the middle of two wars and struggling with a floundering economy.

What a great bio. You couldn’t write that. No one would believe it.

Now factor in her performances; the way she is good with a script and with catch phrases and seems to be improvising in interviews. It’s almost like ‘how far can I take this?

What if she’s just locked in the punch?

They picked her to stop an open revolt

by twit

but it looks like when it is time for civil war in the Republican party, it is simply time for civil war:

Famed conservative columnist George Will told a gathering of Senate aides on Monday that Gov. Sarah Palin is “obviously” not prepared to assume the presidency if necessary, two event attendees told the Huffington Post.

Appearing at a Senate Press Secretaries Association reception at the Cornerstone Government Affairs office, Will offered a harsh assessment of John McCain’s running mate.

Palin is “obviously not qualified to be President,” he remarked, describing her interview on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric as a “disaster.”

… Will, who did not return requests for comment, had also been previously critical of McCain’s choice of Palin, writing a week after it was announced: “The man who would be the oldest to embark on a first presidential term has chosen as his possible successor a person of negligible experience.” One week ago, meanwhile, Will penned a blistering op-ed about McCain, accusing him of practicing “fact-free slander,” holding a “Manichaean worldview,” and “characteristically substituting vehemence for coherence.”

thx Wonkette

CNN vs. SNL

by twit

or, “Sarah Palin vs. Sarah Palin”

It’s the first time Wolf Blitzer has ever heard SNL parody use exactly the same words…

via the Viral Video Chart

Through the looking glass

by lestro

Nothing makes sense.

See if you can find anything in this pile of crap that makes any logical sense at all (aside, of course, from Johnny Mac not talking to the press. That actually makes perfect sense):

Later, his campaign’s senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin issued a statement blaming Democrats and presidential rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for the bill’s defeat.

“From the minute John McCain suspended his campaign and arrived in Washington to address this crisis, he was attacked by the Democratic leadership: Senators Obama and Reid, Speaker Pelosi and others,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Their partisan attacks were an effort to gain political advantage during a national economic crisis. By doing so, they put at risk the homes, livelihoods and savings of millions of American families.”

The adviser also blamed remarks delivered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, chastising President Bush’s free market economic policies, for pushing Republicans away from the bill.

Actually, it was President Bush’s free market economic policies that got us into it and it was the bailout itself and the total lack oversight that drove the Republicans away from it.  It is the continuing adherence to free market policies that prevented the Republicans from voting for it…

“Barack Obama failed to lead, phoned it in, attacked John McCain, and refused to even say if he supported the final bill,” Holtz-Eakin said. “Just before the vote, when the outcome was still in doubt, Speaker Pelosi gave a strongly worded partisan speech and poisoned the outcome. This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country.”

So they had a deal until Mac showed up, then it fell apart. And on Saturday, he literally phoned it in, which his advisers told the press was the right move.

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Attack the tactic? Bad strategy, John.

by lestro

I think I just got to the heart of the problem in the George W. Bush Administration, as well as the would-be sequel of the McCampaign.

It is a delicate, but incredible important distinction between strategies and tactics.

Friday in the debate, during a discussion about the 2003 troop surge in Iraq, Barack Obama said:

They have done a brilliant job, and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job. But understand, that was a tactic designed to contain the damage of the previous four years of mismanagement of this war.

And so John likes — John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007. You talk about the surge. The war started in 2003, and at the time when the war started, you said it was going to be quick and easy. You said we knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. You were wrong.

You said that we were going to be greeted as liberators. You were wrong. You said that there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni. And you were wrong.

John McCain, following this eloquent and succinct dressing down of his judgment, put on his most condescending face, flicked his tongue a few times and did exactly what the Karl Rove playbook says to do.

He belittled his opponent, plugged the message and changed the subject:

MCCAIN: I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. But the important — I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.

I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.

And this strategy, and this general, they are winning. Senator Obama refuses to acknowledge that we are winning in Iraq.

With McCain’s storied military career, his dressing down his younger opponent on the difference between a strategy and a tactic carries some weight.

Unfortunately, as Joe Biden pointed out in the immediate spin (which was not countered by the other veep candidate, by the way. hmmm…), McCain was wrong and Obama was right.

A strategy is a big picture goal while a tactic is what you use to help achieve those. In the case of the surge, the strategy was “Clear, hold and build” – the tactic used to try and accomplish it was a temporary increase in troop levels.

In a broader sense, the strategy was to use the military to tamp down violence and create breathing room for the diplomatic operations to take hold and allow us to get out. The tactic that was used to allow the military to tamp down the violence was “the surge”.

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Delusions of the McCain campaign

by twit

via TPM, the Times Online reports:

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby.

“It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

hmm… could it be that the McCain campaign believes that this election is not about the issues facing this country?  at least if they expect to win?

The McCain campaign realizes that the more time voters have to look at the McCain/Palin debacle, the worse their chances are.  They appear to want anything that will “shut down the race” and divert attention away from the issues at stake in the election.

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epic failures in marketing

by twit

via Philadelphia Will Do: “Horrifying Lottery Mascots Terrorize Gallery

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McCain lies vs. McCain senility

by lestro

Those are the only options.

Last night in the debate, McCain returned to the topic of earmarks, delivering this:

Denouncing government spending, he tossed in an example. “You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana,” he said. “I don’t know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue,” he joked, but so rapidly that some viewers might have been confused, or wondered if the candidate was.

There are two problems with what he said. First, there’s this, from a Factcheck.org article last year:

Despite the fun McCain had ridiculing the bear project on the Senate floor, he didn’t actually try to remove it from the bill. He did introduce several amendments, including three to reduce funding for projects he considered wasteful or harmful, but none removing the grizzly bear project appropriations. And despite his criticisms, he voted in favor of the final bill.

The article also includes a discussion of the Bridge to Nowhere, noting McCain’s opposition, and his failure to show up to vote on whether to divert the Bridge to Nowhere money to New Orleans following Katrina.  The attempt to divert the money to Katrina aid failed.

Instead, Congress removed Gravina’s earmarks, tossing that money into Alaska’s general transportation pot to be used however the state chose. McCain wasn’t there for that vote, either.

In light of the furor over the “bridge to nowhere,” Alaska’s governor opted to use the money for other pursuits. The bridge was never built, but McCain has been using it as his prime pork example since 2005, even blaming it for the Minneapolis bridge collapse in August 2007. (He cited it as an example of a pet project that diverted money from necessary highway maintenance.)

Which brings us to his running mate. During the debate, McCain once again returned to a theme of experience – seeming to forget that his running mate is supposed to be qualified to take over should something happen to the president – but why would he mention the Bear DNA study when Sarah Palin made a similar request?

Palin, meanwhile, has requested $3.2 million to be spent in part researching the “genetics of harbor seals,” in one of the state’s many requests for federal funding of research into Alaska’s fauna.

So what else did Sarah Palin request your tax money for?

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It is your duty to know your fart law

by loadz

This past week Jose Cruz, a 34-year-old West Virginia man was charged with battery against a Charleston Police officer for allegedly farting and fanning it towards the officer.

Although the battery charges against Cruz were dropped, the notion that flatulence is assault was an eye opener. Apparently I’ve been abusing my wife, kids, family and friends for years. I’m sorry. I will seek help. Or at least Beano.

In light of my newfound resolve to not hurt my fellow man by cutting cheese, I’ve decided to not only educate myself, but also provide a resource for my fellow farters. It is your duty as a flatulent person to know your fart laws.

Missouri’s public statutes consider the passing of gas a peace distrubance, prosecutible as a class B misdeameanor.

574.010. 1. A person commits the crime of peace disturbance if:
(1) He unreasonably and knowingly disturbs or alarms another person or persons by:
(a) Loud noise; or
(e) Creating a noxious and offensive odor;

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The laws of nature vs. debate body language

by lestro

Was John McCain the alpha male or the low-ranking monkey?

It is generally agreed that John McCain did not look at or address Barack Obama at all during the first presidential debate. But different folks saw it in different ways.

Conservative columnist David Broder saw it like this:

That suggests an imbalance in the deference quotient between the younger man and the veteran senator — an impression reinforced by Obama’s frequent glances in McCain’s direction and McCain’s studied indifference to his rival.

Whether viewers caught the verbal and body-language signs that Obama seemed to accept McCain as the alpha male on the stage in Mississippi, I do not know.

A primatologist writing to Talking Points Memo saw it from a different angle:

I think people really are missing the point about McCain’s failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear–look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior–low ranking monkeys don’t look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.

During the debate, I saw it as McCain’s inability to look Barack Obama in the eye.

But I figured that if I had been spreading such horrible lies about someone, I wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye either.

I suppose we’ll see it in the polls soon enough.

But where’s Sarah?

by lestro

Following Friday night’s debate, NBC welcomed via satellite Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, to do a little post-debate spinning.

Following his segment, Anchor Brian Williams reported that NBC offered a similar spot to Sarah Palin, but the McCain campaign declined, offering Rudy Giuliani instead.  A similar thing happened on CNN, and all of the major networks, except for ABC, which would not interview Biden because Palin was ‘not available.’

Maybe that’s because in the debate, McCain returned to the experience theme and figures American voters aren’t stupid enough to buy that again when reminded of the selection of Palin as his running mate.

But no matter. So where was Sarah Palin while the focus of the political world was on Ole Miss?

Well, she started the night at a private pre-debate party at an Irish bar in Center City Philadelphia. (The party, by the way, closed the bar to customers on a night when the Philadelphia Phillies were battling for a playoff spot, beating the Washington Nationals 8-4 and lowering their magic number to 1 following a Mets loss to Florida.)

No word where she was for the actual debate, probably getting tutored by her Bush Administration teachers

But what does that say?

Dave Letterman touched on this after McCain lied to him about having to go back to Washington to fix the economy, an issue he has admitted not knowing anything about (when McCain didn’t leave until the next day and did an interview with Katie Couric AT THE SAME TIME he was scheduled for Letterman). Letterman wondered where McCain’s “second string quarterback” was, pointing out that if your choice for second can’t step in when you have to run off, what good are they?

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Is hell freezing over?

by lestro

It appears at least one ideologue is beginning to realize the role he played in the current financial crisis:

Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a longtime proponent of deregulation, acknowledged on Friday that the voluntary supervisory program of Wall Street’s largest investment banks had contributed to the global financial crisis and abruptly shut the program down.

wow.

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work,” Mr. Cox said in a statement. The program “was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, because investment banks could opt in or out of supervision voluntarily,” he added.

“The fact that investment bank holding companies could withdraw from this voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the perceived mandate” of the program, and “weakened its effectiveness.”

wow again.

Unfortunately, Cox is also the guy that John McCain, champion de-regulator, wants fired.

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“Palin” is an Inuit word for “two-faced liar”

by lestro

paging the Gateway Meme. Gateway Meme to the front desk, please.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has made a crackdown on gift-giving to state officials a centerpiece of her ethics reform agenda, has accepted gifts valued at $25,367 from industry executives, municipalities and a cultural center whose board includes officials from some of the largest mining interests in the state, a review of state records shows.

The 41 gifts Palin accepted during her 20 months as governor include honorific tributes, expensive artwork and free travel for a family member. They also include more than $2,500 in personal items from Calista, a large Alaska native corporation with a variety of pending state regulatory and budgetary issues, and a gold-nugget pin valued at $1,200 from the city of Nome, which lobbies on municipal, local and capital budget matters, documents show…

On forms disclosing the gifts, Palin, who is the Republican vice presidential nominee, routinely checked “no” when asked whether she was in a position to “take official action that may affect the person who gave me the gift,” and a spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign said the gifts had no undue influence on her.

huh?

but wait, there’s more.

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Sarah Palin thinks George W. Bush is an idiot

by twit

But apparently Bush wins this round.  From the Guardian on September 25, 2008:

Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran’s nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

[...] Bush’s decision to refuse to offer any support for a strike on Iran appeared to be based on two factors, the sources said. One was US concern over Iran’s likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on shipping in the Persian Gulf.

The other was US anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran’s nuclear facilities in a single assault even with the use of dozens of aircraft. It could not mount a series of attacks over several days without risking full-scale war. So the benefits would not outweigh the costs.

But as Sarah Palin told Charles Gibson on September 11, 2008:

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

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We don’t need no water

by lestro

I’m just not buying it.

Sorry, but I am not buying that the only way to “save the economy” is with a $700 billion bailout package that has to be passed NOW! NOW! NOW!

Admittedly, I am not an economist. But there has to be a better way to right the ship than charging every American taxpayer $5000 to make sure George Bush’s Trust Fund buddies get their golden parachutes.

According to the 2007 IRS FactBook, there were 138,894,000 income taxes filed last year. $700 billion divided by 138 million actually equals $5039.81 per taxpayer. $700 billion divided by estimated US population of 305 million equals $2295.08 per every single person in the country.

Over the past two days I have been watching Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke do their best to frighten Congress into passing a bailout package before anyone has a chance to see what’s in it.

Watching some of their “The Sky is Falling” testimony made me think of the run-up to the Iraq war, only this time, the “mushroom cloud” has been replaced with the ridiculous notion that our entire economic system will collapse in on itself.

Paulson and Bernanke’s sweaty brows and bulging eyes as they sit in the hot lights before Congress bear more than a passing resemblance to all those equally bug-eyed administration mouthpieces who told us over and over that not only did Saddam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction, he was getting ready to use them against us.

Even the President’s address the other night was reminiscent of when he went on the air in 2003 to explain to the American people why we had to invade Iraq.

This is an administration that has not only tried to use FEAR! to scare the Congress into giving away our rights, but also has led us into a war on false pretenses. Now, they are using the same tactics to try and get Congress to pass a $700 billion bailout package that most everyone, except the Bush administration, seems to think is fatally flawed.

It’s despicable, but I wish I could say it is surprising.

Just look at this quote yesterday from Johnny Mac:

The meeting with Mr. Bush on Thursday was precipitated by a call from Mr. McCain, who cast his request as a matter of urgent national priority. “Following Sept. 11, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis,” he told a small group of reporters, while reading the brief statement from a teleprompter, in a small ballroom at the New York Hilton Hotel. “We must show that kind of patriotism now.”

Sayfuckingwhat? Did he just use 9/11 to try and scare us into passing this horrible bailout package? You fucking scumbag.

Something does not add up. Maybe the reason John McCain needs to suspend his campaign is because his millionaire wife and their buddies are finally losing money so NOW it’s time to do something about the economy.

(And by the way, why is it so fucking important that John McCain, a guy who has admitted he does not know shit about the economy, so goddamn important to the process that he has to suspend the democratic process for a few days and rush back to Washington to be in on the negotiations?)

One can’t help but wonder if the Administration That Cries Wolf is once again trying to sneak something past the American people. Forgive me if I can’t help but think all the big noise they’re making is because they know this is their last chance to bilk the taxpayer and make their buddies rich and they are afraid if they don’t scare us into thinking that we don’t even have time to read the bailout package we might realize they are just the same bunch of lying screwheads they always were.

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Eight-year shitburgers, 6-year-olds playing soccer and the truth

by lestro

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert get jiggy with it in the new Entertainment Weekly.

So says Stewart:

“The press is 6-year-olds playing soccer; nobody has a position, it’s just ”Where’s the ball? Where’s the ball? Sarah Palin has the ball!” [Mimes a mob running after her.] Because they can only cover one thing.”

Sarah Palin blinked!

by twit

“I’ll try to find ya some and I’ll bring ‘em to ya”

is what Sarah Palin said when Katie Couric asked for specific examples of John McCain ever pushing for more regulation in his 26 years as a Senator. via Wonkette:

sounds like blinking to me.  Especially with that overdone accent at the end.

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The return of the ninja bandits

by twit

Via the Associated Press on September 24, 2008:

WASHINGTON (AP) – The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration, The Associated Press has learned.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), and insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG) Additionally, a senior law enforcement official said Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEH) also is under investigation.

[...] Just last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller put the number of large financial firms under investigation at 24. He did not name any of the companies under investigation but said the FBI also was looking at whether any of them have misrepresented their assets.

Over the past year as the housing market cratered, the FBI has opened a wide-ranging probe of companies across the financial services industry, from mortgage lenders to investment banks that bundle home loans into securities sold to investors. Mueller has previously said the FBI’s hunt for culprits in the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis focused on accounting fraud, insider trading, and failure to disclose the value of mortgage-related securities and other investments.

This is so much funnier now that we know all about McCain campaign manager Rick Davis’ ties to Freddie Macupdate: so much funnier

“John McCain’s campaign manager and Freddie Mac essentially had what amounts to a secret half a million dollar lay-a-way plan. For almost three years and as late as last month, Freddie Mac made secret, monthly payments of $15,000 to Rick Davis’s firm, apparently in exchange for providing special access to a future McCain White House. If McCain knew about this, his presidential campaign should be in serious trouble. If he didn’t know about it, he ought to fire Rick Davis immediately,” said David Donnelly, Director of Campaign Money Watch.

but it does sound awful familiar

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“Palin-tology”

by lestro

A column in today’s LA Times paints a horrifying picture of Wasilla and of its famous former mayor, and it does so mostly using people who like her.

Some towns have character. Some have a sense of place.

And then there is Wasilla, which greets visitors with Wal-mart, Target, Lowe’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

They paved paradise, and all they’ve got to show for it is chalupas and discount tube socks.

I thought I’d found the town center when I came upon a row of frontier-style buildings, but it was just a Knott’s Berry Farm-style facade housing a Señor Taco, among other establishments. Up at the next intersection of strip malls, I found a Chimo Guns shop across from a store offering 15% off of home-schooling supplies.

Sure, every town in the United States has its big-box stores, strip malls, fast-food joints and sprawling churches. But Wasilla seems to have little else.

But according to one of the planning commissioners who is running for mayor, it’s not Sarah’s fault.

Rupright admits the “downtown” area is no model city, with too much traffic and no real center. He’d like to fix that, he said, and the city sewer system is a mess too.

But don’t blame Palin, he said, calling her a good mayor and a smart cookie. The town just grew too fast.

“Grew too fast.” That’s idiot-speak for “someone was asleep at the switch.”

News

AP Photo/Al Grillo via Salon

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Tell me again how John McCain isn’t part of the problem

by lestro

oh, Johnny Mac, you may not be able to lift your arms above your head, but you have proven more than adept at putting your foot in your mouth:

One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years. Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

oops. Quick! backtrack!

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee composed of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the coming midterm congressional elections.

So, they spent $15,000 a month on a guy who didn’t do anything for them? I think I am beginning to understand this fiscal crisis better.

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Stop being so mean to Sarah Palin!

by twit

She’s not qualified to run for vice president, stop treating her like she is!

Shame on the press, trying to do its job!

Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, is scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

But the McCain-Palin campaign’s sharp limitations on coverage of the meetings have sparked a mini-revolt – and a threatened boycott — among the press corps.

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Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books Sarah Palin would ban

by lestro

Almost a month after she made her national debut in Ohio, three weeks after her dazzling debut speech at the Republican convention and only two interviews later (though it is difficult to call the Hannity suck-job an interview by any quantifiable news standard), there are still bits of vice-presidential contender Sarah Palin’s introductory speech causing serious shivers down the spines of many Americans.

This past Sunday for example, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer got hung up on that line about reading terror suspects their rights:

“Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America,” said Palin, and then, referring to Barack Obama, quipped: “He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights.”

Quite apart from the cheap distortion of Obama’s position, typical of most campaign rhetoric, this is a classic lynch-mob line. It is the taunt of the drunken lout in the cowboy movie who confronts a sheriff barring the prison door – He wants to give ‘im a trial?

It is the precise sentiment that Atticus Finch so memorably sets himself against in Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, when he agrees to defend a supposedly indefensible black man charged with rape (falsely, as it turns out).

In all the talk about her LIES and half truths over the Bridge to Nowhere, the state jet/eBay fiasco, the community organizer bullshit, the Jerry Springer-style family baggage and the blatant distortions about her time as mayor (when she ran up a nearly $20 million debt, hired a lobbyist to request nearly $27 million in federal earmarks for her town and asked about banning books at the Wasilla library (having previously supported censorship as a member of the city council)) and governor (when she requested $453 million for her state including the Bridge to Nowhere (and including $197 million in requests for 2009), while having to make no hard budgeting decisions because of Alaska’s oil wealth), this “He’s worried that someone won’t read them their rights” line further shits on everything this country stands for and has gotten a bit of a pass.

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Be Nice to Sarah Palin!

by twit

She can’t handle a real debate:

McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

… McCain advisers said they were only somewhat concerned about Ms. Palin’s debating skills compared with those of Mr. Biden, who has served six terms in the Senate, or about his chances of tripping her up. Instead, they say, they wanted Ms. Palin to have opportunities to present Mr. McCain’s positions, rather than spending time talking about her experience or playing defense.

We surely can’t have her talking about her experience.  That just wouldn’t be fair considering she has so little to talk about…

But we should be nice to Sarah Palin, because she can’t even inspire confidence in the McCain campaign over her ability to speak in public without a script:

… the commission unanimously rejected a proposal sought by advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, to have the moderator ask questions and the candidates answer, with no time for unfettered exchanges.

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McCain has a familiar plan for health insurance

by twit

It turns out that McCain’s plan to “fix” the health insurance system is actually a lot worse than causing five million more people to lose their health insurance.

Paul Krugman reports on September 19, 2008 that John McCain wrote an article,”Better Health Care at Lower Cost for Every American,” in the latest issue of the magazine Contingencies, and says this:

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.

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The racism of John McCain

by twit

There are two possible alternatives to John McCain being a racist.  On one hand, he could simply be a bumbling old man who has trouble explaining himself in unscripted town hall meetings.  On the other hand, he could just be pandering to his perception of the racism in his supporters.  However, if we proceed on the idea that McCain is not simply a bumbling old man nor simply pandering to his base, it appears that only one conclusion remains.

When I watched the livestream video of the McCain/Palin town hall in Grand Rapids Michigan on September 17, 2008, I was shocked to hear the word associations made by John McCain when he was asked about “Hispanics.”

From a generalized question, McCain leaped to “immigration,” “illegal,” “criminal,” “drugs,” and his classic condescending line about “God’s children.”  His answer rolled out as if he considered all Latinos to be immigrants, that the main issue related to the Latino community was “securing our borders,” and as if his main concerns about the Latino community was managing the “supply” of illegal immigrants and stopping drugs from coming across the American border.

For the record, the US Census Bureau reports that of the 35,238,481 people counted as “Hispanic” in 2000, “About 7 out of every 10 Hispanics residing in the United States were either native or naturalized citizens.”

The Grand Rapids Press reports on September 18, 2008 that “[w]hile Martinez did not specifically ask about illegal immigration, that was the question McCain answered.”

Unfortunately, in a stunning breach of journalism ethics, the Grand Rapids Press edited out some of the more unseemly parts out of McCain’s answer, even though the full response can be heard in an audio file on the Grand Rapids Press site.

I have not been able to find a full transcript of the September 17, 2008 town hall, so I transcribed the question and answer in order to discuss it here.

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Maybe America is only 37 percent stupid

by lestro

John McCain calls that 37 percent his base.

A new NY Times/CBS poll says that by a margin of 65-37 percent, Americans believe Barack Obama is more likely to bring change to Washington than John McCain.

Still a stupidly high number given the facts and all (and up from 28 percent before the conventions), but not as high, I am sure, as the Republicans had hoped.

But two weeks after the Republican convention, with public sentiment starting to settle into place, there are indications that Ms. Palin might not be accomplishing what Mr. McCain had hoped in choosing her.

A New York Times/CBS News poll this week found that Ms. Palin had accomplished one crucial goal for Mr. McCain: She helped raise the enthusiasm level markedly among Republicans: 47 percent of his Republican supporters said they were enthusiastic about the ticket, twice as much as before.

But so far, the poll suggests, the boost has not gone far beyond that. The poll found that even now, voters are much more likely to identify Mr. Obama — and not Mr. McCain — as someone who would bring change to Washington. He is widely viewed as someone who would continue or expand President Bush’s policies in office.

Ya think?

But to me at least, there is a bit of a surprise in the numbers:

Polls taken immediately after the convention had found evidence of a sharp increase in support for Mr. McCain among white women, but this poll suggests that that effect was, so far at least, limited. White women were evenly divided between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama; before the conventions, Mr. McCain led Mr. Obama among white women, 44 percent to 37 percent.

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Child Genius of the Year

by twit

I’m still stunned by the brilliance of this young person, and by the potential magnitude of his innovation.  William Yuan is only twelve years old, but it appears that he has radically accelerated the development of solar energy technology.  Via Slashdot on September 18, 2008:

Hugh Pickens writes “12-year-old William Yuan’s invention of a highly-efficient, three-dimensional nanotube solar cell for visible and ultraviolet light has won him an award and a $25,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

‘Current solar cells are flat and can only absorb visible light’” Yuan said. ‘I came up with an innovative solar cell that absorbs both visible and UV light. My project focused on finding the optimum solar cell to further increase the light absorption and efficiency and design a nanotube for light-electricity conversion efficiency.’

Solar panels with his 3D cells would provide 500 times more light absorption than commercially-available solar cells and nine times more than cutting-edge 3D solar cells. ‘My next step is to talk to manufacturers to see if they will build a working prototype,’ Yuan said. “If the design works in a real test stage, I want to find a company to manufacture and market it.””

Wired adds that the award “is usually given out for research at the graduate level.”  Congratulations to William, and thank you for giving us hope for a brighter tomorrow.

McCain says if you care about the economy, don’t vote for him

by twit

via the Washington Post blog The Trail by way of Ken Layne, back in January 2008, McCain made it clear that if voters are concerned about the economy, he can understand why they won’t vote for him:

When asked how he would respond to the fact that voters are now increasingly focused on the nation’s economy, McCain said he had no interest in changing his own policy priorities.

“Even if the economy is the, quote, number one issue, the real issue will remain America’s security,” he said. “If it’s not the most important issue in the minds of many voters, America’s security will remain the number one issue with me.  And if they choose to say, ‘Look, I do not need this guy because he’s not as good on home loan mortgages,’ or whatever it is, I understand that. I will accept that verdict. I am running because of the transcendent challenge of the twenty-first century, which is radical Islamic extremism, as you know.”

From the Associated Press on September 16, 2008, McCain makes it clear that he will say anything he believes that voters want to hear, even if he is directly contradicting himself:

McCain declared Monday that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong,” a phrase he has used before. After Democrats pounced, he backtracked and declared the economy to be in a crisis and said “fundamentals are threatened.”

From the Washington Post on September 16, 2008, McCain’s campaign admits that they have NO PLAN AT ALL for responding to the current economic crisis, and they don’t see a need for developing one:

McCain offered his own TV ad promising to “reform Wall Street” and pass “new rules for fairness and honesty,” adding: “I won’t tolerate a system that puts you and your family at risk. Your savings, your jobs . . . I’ll keep them safe,” the ad says.

He did not describe how he would bring greater transparency to the process. His senior policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, told reporters earlier in the day that there was no need for McCain to be specific right now.

“There’s no magic solutions, and I don’t think it’s imperative at this moment to write down what the plan should be,” he said. “The real issue here is a leadership issue.”

It is true, it is a leadership issue.  And John McCain is offering no leadership at all.

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It is nice to see journalists – and Matt Lauer – doing their job

by lestro

Even Matt Lauer is following the lead of the actual journalists, but still:

On NBC’s “Today” show, Matt Lauer, from the floor of the New York Stock exchange, described Monday’s 500-point drop as a “bloodbath” and asked Mr. McCain how he could say that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” while his campaign released an ad saying that the economy is in crisis.

“Clarify this for me,’’ Mr. Lauer said. “It doesn’t seem as if both things can be true.’’

Mr. McCain replied by saying that when he spoke about the fundamentals of the economy, he was referring to the workers – which is different from how he has described the term before.

Nice to see journalists – and Matt Lauer – doing their job.

It’s led the McCain to start swinging even harder at the media, even directly, as this morning on Joe Scarborough’s show (Not to be confused with Joey Scarbury, who wrote and sang “Believe it or Not,” The “Greatest American Hero” theme).

Ms. Brzezinski had brought up Mr. Obama’s campaign ad highlighting Mr. McCain’s statement that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Mr. McCain side-stepped the question of whether that ad was fair and said: “I still say to you – and I know you’re a supporter of Senator Obama – if you would urge him to come and do town hall meetings with me, as I’ve asked him to do time after time, the whole tenor of the campaign would change.”

Ms. Brzezinski bristled at the comment, saying: “Supporter of Senator Obama? I’m not sure I would characterize myself that way.”

Unfortunately, Scarborough himself is an unabashed McCain apologist and supporter, as is his cohost, apparently:

Later, she repeated her objection and reminded viewers that her brother, Ian Brzezinski, is working on Mr. McCain’s campaign.

“Take care of my brother,” she said to Mr. McCain. “Say hi to Ian for me.”

Seems like a conflict of interest to me, especially since the host is now going out of her way to say without saying that she is a McCain backer. (Note that these two Brzezinkis should not to be confused with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the respected foreign policy expert who is an Obama supporter).

Objective? you be the judge.

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McCain’s Health Insurance Plan: 5 million more people lose coverage

by lestro

Here’s an interesting little note on the McCain health insurance plan:

The article, published in the journal Health Affairs, argues that “initially there would be no real change in the number of people covered as a result of the McCain plan.” After a short-term reduction of 1 million in the number of people without coverage, the number of uninsured would increase by 5 million after five years, the authors predict.

Say what?

That’s a health care plan in the same vein as a 300-pound football player named Tiny or a rights-destroying bill called the PATRIOT Act.

or a “Blue Skies Act” that allows coal plant owners to avoid added scrunbbers.

or a “Healthy Forest Initiative” that opens up national land to logging.

or the “No Child Left Behind Act” that identifies schools in need of additional resources and then fixes them by removing money.

What?

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If you like Bush, you’ll love McCain

by twit

Via Politico on September 16, 2008:

In choosing Palin, McCain was in full Bush mode. Like Bush, he followed his gut, ignored advice from experts and acted on impulse. In fact, McCain’s rash and reckless choice of Palin makes Bush look downright careful by comparison — so McCain may well be more Bushian than Bush himself.

If you liked eight years of a president who went with his gut, acted on impulse and gambled our nation’s future on a hunch, you’ll love John McCain.

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McCain must not understand what “change” means

by lestro

Once again, Johnny Mac is flip-flopping. This time it is on one of his own ads.

Following the backlash to McCain’s over-the-top criticism of Barack Obama for using a phrase that McCain himself used when talking about Hillary, McCain has perhaps realized that his sanctimony is showing.

Could this be the gateway meme? Is this his admission that, like Karl Rove recently said, he’s gone too far?

Did Barack Obama really call Sarah Palin a pig, as a John McCain ad leads people to believe? “No,” McCain said Monday. The Republican presidential nominee defended the ad anyway, saying Obama “chooses his words very carefully.”

But that’s not what the ad said, Johnny. You remember the ad, the one you “approved” and was put out by your campaign the next day. The ad which has been pulled from YouTube because one of the quotes it used was taken so far out of context CBS threatened to sue.

The fact is that Johnny Mac and his campaign are full of crap and they were terrified that this lipstick slander aimed at Obama was such an obvious pile of bullshit that it may become the gateway meme and people may soon realize that damn near everything they say is doublespeak and hypocrisy.

For example, the whole reformer image they have given veep nom Sarah Palin, whose blatant lies about her position on the ‘bridge to nowhere’ and anti-earmark position are also a favorite in the ‘gateway meme’ odds. Especially since having a lie exposed doesn’t stop Johnny Mac from telling it again:

He was asked about nearly $200 million in congressional pet projects Palin requested for 2009 for her state, despite her boasts that she opposes such projects and his claim that she didn’t ask for any. McCain responded by criticizing Obama for seeking more than $900 million in these earmarks, by one count.

“That’s nearly a million every day, every working day he’s been in Congress,” McCain said. “And when you look at some of the planetariums and other foolishness that he asked for, he shouldn’t be saying anything about Governor Palin.”

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McCain means no more special interest giveaways

by lestro

Both campaigns are responding to this weekend’s fiscal crisis.

The Obama camp is reminding folks that John McCain has supported the president’s economic policies since they failed the first time around as Reagan’s economic policies and cost the current president’s dear old dad the big job.

(For the record, George H. W. Bush was not a party ideologue and actually tried to fix the economy instead of further pushing the country along the Reaganomic, trickle-down path, which he himself had dubbed “voodoo economics” in his campaign against the Gipper. Since Reagan’s spend spend spend ways had finally caught up, Bush was forced to raise taxes to help balance the budget, a unforgivable no-no among party ideologues.)

Meanwhile, the McCain camp is making sure that everyone knows that now that his friends are taken care of, there will be no more help for anyone:

The McCain-Palin campaign quickly released a new advertisement this morning, titled “Crisis” that focused on the troubled economy, citing foreclosures and job losses. It also repeated the candidate’s pronouncement that there would be no “special interest giveaways,” were the Republicans elected, as the site of Lehman Brothers in downtown Manhattan flashed upon the screen. In the ad, he promised to shore up protections for voters’ savings.

What friends? Why, the top-level Fannie and Freddie lobbyists he has working for him, of course. Now that their business has been saved by the government, screw these other folks.

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The Great Gig in the Sky

by lestro

Richard Wright, the keyboard player for the Pink Floyd, died today. He was 65.

I don’t know if you are a Floyd fan, but they are one of the bands that defined my high school and college years and remains not only a favorite, but a major cohesive force in the lives of my Idiot Friends.

Wright’s farfisa organ and Syd Barrett’s wild, wailing guitar were the soundtrack to many a night of adolescent debauchery as we too tried to achieve “Interstellar Overdrive.”

Wright is a founding member of the Floyd, formed in the mid 60s and along with Barrett (who died in 2006), Roger Waters and Nick Mason. Wright’s distinctive organ sound really helped define “the psychedelic sound” and helped the early Floyd become one of the most emulated sounds of the late-60s scene.

Wright contributed to the writing in many Floyd songs, as well as the vocal in ‘Astronomy Domine,’ but his most famous songs were probably “Great Gig in the Sky” and “Us and Them” from the Floyd masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon.

Great Gig” is the song that ends Side A. It is the one with the great orgasmic shrieks and no lyrics. It is a musical meditation on death, part of the album’s things that drive us to insanity motif.

After Roger Waters’ ego took over the band in the late 70s and early 80s, he and Wright clashed, which led to Wright being unceremoniously tossed from the band during the sessions for “The Wall.” After Waters left the Floyd, Gilmour (Barrett’s replacement) called him back into the fold for “Momentary Lapse of Reason” and “The Division Bell” as well as the ensuing tours for each album, the latter of which brought them to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse where a young Lestro sat pie-eyed in the worst seats in the house (they told us at one point to put our arms down because we were blocking the spotlight) for what is still today one of his favorite concert experiences ever.

Unfortunately, and selfishly, this officially means there will be no Pink Floyd reunion and tour.

However, if you’ve got some Floyd, especially old Floyd, now is the time…

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Woe to you, Right Wing Christians, you hypocrites!

by lestro

One of the things that bothered me most about the lines of attack taken during the Republican National Convention was the belittling of not only Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, but the role of community organizers in general.

“Community organizer” is the general term given to people who work to make a difference in their communities, neighborhoods and schools. Organizers rally people to work together and help themselves. It is a noble and often thankless endeavor, done not for profit or personal benefit, but to help others help themselves.

In the colonial days, it was those people who gathered around the Liberty Tree their community of like-minded patriots and rebelled against the idea of birthright nobility and absolute leadership and organized them into a force powerful enough to beat the then-untouchable British Army.

The Republican attack on community organizers is yet another example of the right wing’s penchant for spitting on those who believe in the power of the people united instead of the oligarchy of the military industrial complex.

But today on Meet the Press I saw another interesting counter-attack on the community organizer meme, one that comes right from a place that might register with the right wing.

As I went looking for the image, I came across site after site of right wing fundie apologists making the case that no, no, no, Jesus was not a community organizer. They say it demeans his role as messiah to call him that. He came as Savior, not an organizer.

Like he can’t be both. He is supposed to be God, you know.

Nevermind that he organized his disciples, who organized churches that organized an entire religious community.

Some, like this guy, for example, go even further, using another oft-quoted and little understood section of the Bible to make their point.

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Matthew 10:34.

But in that quote, Jesus absolutely was organizing his community. That quote, told as part of a speech to rally the apostles to go out and recruit, was meant as a warning that they would probably turn families against each other as people some people rallied to Jesus’s message of peace and forgiveness while others would not believe and continue in their faith.

People also always use that passage to imply that Jesus approved of violence and war when (judging by the rest of the book, anyway) nothing could be further from the truth.  He was simply warning that people were not going to like what he was saying and the disciples should be prepared.

The author then goes on to further slag Barack Obama by repeating the already de-bunked attack lines about sex education and abortion, linking it to the idea that Obama is some kind of messianic figure.

I think it is fair to say, that Barack Obama is no Jesus..no, not even close.

Despite, of course, Obama never making any such comparison himself, always saying the only reason he is there is because of a movement.

“It’s not about me, it’s about you,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Besides, considering God also said “thou shalt not kill” and Christ said “love thy enemy” and “turn the other cheek,” I think it is fair to say, by the author’s logic, that warmongers John McCain and Sarah Palin are no Christians. Not even close.

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