Saturday, November 27, 2010

Take Me to Your Leader: Inside Sarah Palin’s Primitive Brain And Its Reaganesque Origins

Analysis overkill is what the Idiot Punditocracy, Palin’s “lamestream media,” (they love it because it sets them apart from her peeps) is doing with its incessant and loopy speculation over whether Sister Sarah will run in 2012. She’s running. Most of the Idiot Punditocracy/”lamestream media” know it. But they keep the ratings-war speculation going. Besides, playing Palintology parlor games is big in Washington these days. The latest Palin/media collaborative howl was mistaking North for South Korea. As gaffes go, it wasn’t that serious if not for her well-known and obvious ignorance of the most elementary Fifth grade history and geography facts. One British publication said dryly that Palin needs to “brush up” on her geography.

Conservative media immediately put up a stoic defense of Palin. The right wing website Weekly Standard noted that she “correctly identified North Korea as our enemy literally eight seconds before the mix-up.” As if this was a pop quiz and Sister Sarah passed the FAIL test literally by beating the 10-second rule — it used to be five seconds, but who’s counting — or some version thereof, in which food as metaphor for faux pas “promptly picked up is not considered fallen.” Our favorite wingnut slime site, Daily Caller, went further by falsely claiming Palin “corrected herself” quickly:
“In a discussion Wednesday about how to react to North Korea’s recent attacks on its southern neighbor, Palin accidentally said, “we’ve got to stand with our North Korean allies” but then quickly corrected herself. Media outlets jumped on the isolated quote, and some neglected to mention that just eight seconds earlier, Palin had correctly identified the two countries and has spoken about conflict on the Asian peninsula at length in the past.”
This is typical of what passes as journalism in Rightwingville. All media at one time or another omit certain facts from a story and give others relevance. But only in right wing media is the actual omission of facts as used to misrepresent the story a common occurrence, so common in fact that “fixed” or “faux” news is just another way of saying propaganda. Here’s how the Palin interview and faux pas actually went down, with the full transcript for context, courtesy of the liberal media, because the truth is not our enemy. Sarah Palin did not  “correct herself”— rather, she was corrected by the radio co-host.

Most interesting and revealing, though, was Sister Sarah’s defensive reaction. First, she whined that the media was applying a kind of double standard on her, compared with President Obama’s occasional gaffes. Then she posted a Facebook lament with YouTube links “just in case you doubt the accuracy of these all too human slips-of-the-tongue.” Mama Grizzly hasn’t yet realized this train has left the station. The minimum threshold of competence, intellect, and knowledge assigned to the president of the United States has long since been crossed by President Obama in the public’s view. Barack Obama is the President, with a long list of achievements and better approval ratings today than Ronald Reagan had at the same time in his presidency. Worse still, Palin insists on attacking the First Lady. Reagan, whom Palin pretends to emulate, wasn’t  nearly so classless and trailer trashy.

Palin’s whiny lament becomes ever more pathetic once we consider the examples she plucks from YouTube. Obama conflating Europe as a country isn’t that big a deal given that the European Union with its 27-member countries has often been compared to one country: Europa. It’s one huge trading market with 500,000 citizens and one currency, offering EU citizenship and passport with the right to work and travel in all member countries. What would you call that, Teabaggers … a socialist conspiracy? (I can already picture Teabagger and birther heads exploding all around us.) Other common Obama “slips-of-the-tongue” included 57 states (50), 100 days (100 years), and so on. My favorite so-called Obama “gaffes” though were “rise of privacy” instead of piracy (the context was recovery of a pirated vessel, so it shouldn’t even have merited mention), and “I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that …” in response to an Austrian reporter’s question at a NATO gathering. Huh?

Obviously, the wingnuts who breathlessly collect such clips, not to speak of Sister Sarah, lack a sense of humor. The President continued by saying, “wheeling and dealing.” He had injected an American figure of speech using a variation of “pardon my French,” which is how someone about to make a slightly slangish remark for the setting or audience may preface it. Since the President was holding an international presser at NATO headquarters, his reply to an Austrian reporter made perfect sense. It wasn’t a gaffe; just ignorance on the part of those who thought so. But no other words, facts and figures Mama Grizzly could mangle can possibly compare to this torture-equivalent Bushism:

There’s a tendency to go overboard with these Palinisms. She’s a media phenomenon in her own right and a lightning rod for right wing politics such that any effort by the “media” to tamp down its Palin compulsion would be impossible. Mama Grizzly is a hot media property. She is as active in promoting her brand as the “media” is in stoking Palinist ratings controversies. The Bristol Palin Dancing With The Stars voting demi-scandal is a good example of what we might call the Palin effect. Curiously, conspiracy peddlers on the right have been strangely silent; they will expend energy stoking fear and loathing in the low-information populace with absurd conspiracies but when a possibly genuine one comes along pushed by the hated “liberal media” they’re MIA.

Is there a right wing conspiracy in the works to destroy Sarah Palin’s powerlust for the presidency? Or have even the Palins come to recognize the cred-demolishing absurdity of Bristol beating out Jennifer Grey of “Dirty Dancing” star power on the strength of the Tea Party vote? Had the votes been correctly counted giving Bristol the victory, it would have become the perfect metaphor for the ignorance-is-bliss insanity represented by the Tea Party. Sadly, though, it seems higher powers intervened and adversaries collaborated to ensure the “proper” outcome. And who ever said conspiracies and cover-ups aren’t real? Paging Glenn Beck.

The conservative take on Mama Grizzly is an amusing mix of wishful thinking and vox populi endearments. Conservative radio personality Michael Medved claims Palin is just like the “rest of us” in contrast to the Washington elites. Apparently he hasn’t checked Mama Grizzly’s sky-high negatives. Yes, she has a base among Teabaggers, Christian fundies, and reality show junkies, but these constituencies do not a majority of the American people make. New York Times columnist David “bobo” (means dummy in some languages) Brooks opined Palin is not running because her statements are mainly directed at the media and she really isn’t that interested in issues and governing. Um David, when have Republicans last had an interest in governing — don’t you know their thing is all about power, heaping more unearned wealth on their rich and powerful cronies, and destroying the New Deal?

You’d have to go back to ‘Tricky Dick’ Nixon for a Republican president who last harbored an actual interest in governing. And look at what happened to him. Paranoid of his own shadow, surrounded by real “enemies” on the right and imagined ones on the left, Nixon went down in a blaze of infamy consumed by the flames of his own powerlust and the forces (“get on with it!” hissed Don Regan, Reagan chief of staff and Merrill Lynch CEO) that later elevated the “amiable dunce” Ronald Reagan to the presidency.

The Reagan agenda consisted of transferring wealth from the middle to the ruling classes and “starving the beast” of government with trickle-down tax and fiscal policies that exploded the deficit triggering downward pressure on FDR New Deal programs that had effectively created the Democratic-voting middle class. In building his New Right coalition, Reagan doubled down on Nixon’s successful “Southern strategy” on steroids by kicking off his 1980 presidential campaign from Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the heinous murders of three civil rights “freedom rider” workers in the 1960s. This was widely recognized by the white racist “states rights” voter accustomed to communicating in coded racist language as a Reagan ‘wink-and-a-nod’ in their direction. Some will rightly recall Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech calling on Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” as the high point of his presidency. And yet as symbolism goes, few Reagan boosters are willing to concede the dark symbolic low points represented by Philadelphia, MS and Reagan’s visit to the SS cemetery in Bittburg, Germany.

Reagan invited the dormant Christian Right into grassroots Republican politics, forever changing the party’s face for the worst. Gone were the last vestiges of moderation in the GOP, and the so-called moderate holdouts today, all targeted for elimination by the Tea Party, behave more like conservatives than shifting “centrists” (whatever “centrist” means today). Ancillary to this was a disastrous deregulatory regime that persists to this day — an all-out assault on environmental, drug, food, and financial regulations that have had tragic costs for the country, from increased deaths from tainted drugs and food to more deaths and environmental disasters brought on by lax regulation of fossil fuels and the energy industry. After Carter’s energy program was scuttled, overreliance on imported Middle East (terrorist) oil set the conditions for foreign multinational BP to extract conditions from so-called sovereign U.S. states and an apology from a sitting Republican Congressman.

The point of this brief sojourn back to Reagan Republicanism is to suggest that Sarah Palin is the true, authentic heir to the Reagan legacy. It’s not about Reagan having served two terms as governor of California and Sarah Palin only two years as governor of Alaska. It’s about Palin’s charismatic appeal to Reagan’s natural base. Most of her supporters grew up idolizing Ronald Reagan. They see in Palin the prodigal daughter. And this drives the Republican establishment to fits of conniption. But astute political observers recognize Palin as the main force in the Tea/Republican Party going into the 2012 elections.

For liberals and progressives a Palin candicacy represents both opportunity and peril. Strangely enough, the opportunity will be confronting and slaying the Reagan ideological anti-government beast on the battleground of ideas. The prospect of a Palin candidacy revealing to all Americans that the Empress has no clothes in a drip-drip-drip of daily devastating revelations terrifies the Republican establishment. The GOP talk of stopping her 2012 candidacy is real. The peril for liberals and progressives is that Palin may actually win. Especially if billionaire technocrat Mike Bloomberg pursues an independent candidacy. In the last analysis, no great opportunity comes without risk.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Five (And-a-Half) Signs That The “GOPOCALYPSE NOW” is Upon Us

Chris Hayes of the Nation magazine subbing for Rachel last night summarized the perilous crossroads we’re at as a country as well as anyone. Using the game of “chicken” metaphor Chris laid out the dangerous, destructive and unpatriotic brinksmanship being played by Republicans in the House and Senate in their almost arrogant expectation that the President and Democrats will cave. After all, that's been their MO, and the Republican minority has heaped huge political rewards from being obstructionist bullies. Indeed, if President Obama and the Democratic Party do not hold fast against this oncoming GOP train wreck the results could be catastrophic, with unforeseen consequences for the nation.

President Obama and the Democratic Party. Feeling lucky, anyone? Watch:

1. FILIBUSTERING the START Treaty. Essentially, this treaty “would make modest reductions, cutting both countries' deployed arsenals by 30 percent, down to 1,500 strategic nuclear weapons each. It would also reestablish verification measures.” Valerie Plame, the CIA agent outed by Karl Rove and the Bush regime, is an in situ expert on the current state of nuclear proliferation in the world. She is emphatic that START must not be rejected.

In terms of nuclear arms treaties, it’s a no-brainer. Never before in the history of bilateral nuclear arms negotiations between the U.S. and Russia (the former Soviet Union) have Republicans been so reckless and irresponsible at playing politics with it. The consequences are severe; killing the treaty would: (a) increase the real likelihood that stray nuclear weapons in uninspected arsenals fall into terrorist or rogue state hands; (b) precipitate arms races worldwide once the two largest nuclear arsenals failed to make mutual reductions; (c) shatter U.S.-Russia bilateral relations, which are built on mutual trust (plus verify) and results; (d) weaken President Obama’s influence on the world stage, emboldening potential enemies such as North Korea and Iran, and adversaries such as China to flex their regional muscles, heightening the threat of regional war leading to a nuclear exchange. North Korea’s nuclear trigger finger is twitchy as it is.

It was Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg who said in 1947 that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” He meant that in matters of  national interest we set partisan issues aside and do what’s right. This has been a cornerstone of nuclear arms treaties honored by the two major parties and four Democratic and five Republican presidents from JFK to GWB.

Until now.

Senator John Kyl of Arizona (what is it about Arizona that produces such detestable politicians as Kyl, McCain, and Brewer?) announced his intention to block START despite ringing endorsements from world leaders and former secretaries of state from both parties. As Spencer Tracy said to the judge in that famous scene playing Clarence Darrow, this Arizonan cactus ass may have the POWER but not the RIGHT to block a treaty that has been fully vetted in the U.S. national interest.

2. FILIBUSTERING the debt limit raise. Not only are these hypocritical bastards RESPONSIBLE for our debt and economic plight, but now they have decided to engage in nihilistic anarchy, like so many spoiled children in their own private Lord of The Flies world, to destroy the good name and credit of the United States and plunge our country into another Great Depression. These scumsuckers, Teabaggers, and wingnuts are quite simply INSANE.

Only Paul Krugman could cast this showdown in Biblical, but accurate, proportions.

3. FILIBUSTERING an extension of tax cuts for rich oligarchs. The Republicans are shameful LIARS on this issue. There is ZERO empirical evidence that the super-rich getting a deficit-exploding tax extension will create jobs. Warren Buffett slammed the idea as did patriotic millionaires who said they do not need nor do they want their tax cuts extended.

What is the President’s reaction? He wants to talk, to reason with these scumsucking bastards, even after they turned down his invitation to dinner at the White House.


4. FILIBUSTERING repeal of DADT. Secretary Gates is for immediate repeal. So are the JCS, the President (ostensibly, you never know with him), even Senator Lieberman. Will it pass? In a word, NO.

5. FILIBUSTERING an extension of unemployment insurance. It will have expired for 2 million Americans whose benefits have run out at the height of the Holiday season. Will it pass? Again, in a word, NO.

What about our grandchildren, the rosacea-boy buzzword Republicans are instructed to repeatedly mention at every turn? The chutzpah of these Republicans is UNREAL.  If we leave it up to these bastards, our grandchildren will have inherited a dying planet with melting polar icecaps, rising sea levels, extreme climate, and ever rising temperatures. If you’re anywhere near your grandkids, stay away. They may want to KILL YOU.

The time has come for FDR-Truman-RFK Democrats to stand up and be counted. Progressives and liberals watch with growing alarm as our President continues to reach out to Republicans in the face of their growing insanity and extremism. Politics is a learning and adjusting process. But it is, fundamentally, about learning the right lessons. Progressives derive no “I told you so” pleasure at having been consistently right from the very beginning of this administration about the nature and tactics of the Republicans. Had the President been more like Truman and RFK I, for one, am convinced we would have a stronger healthcare law with a public option today and not suffered the losses the Democratic Party did in the midterms.

Part of Bobby Kennedy's appeal with conservative white Democrats that Obama never seemed to internalize is that these voters saw Bobby as a straight shooting tough guy who didn't owe anyone anything. The moment Obama embraced the economic elites with his awful appointments of Summers and Geithner, dropped the public option like a hot potato, and sent chief Clinton triangulator Rahmbo off to make sweetheart deals with key corporate players, the President lost progressives and the Heartland.

Sadly, we can no longer rely on a president who has decided it’s a good idea to break bread with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is is tough love, Mr. President, but honestly it's starting to look like a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Or that signature line used by progressive Pat Quinn to defeat his wingnut opponent for governor of Illinois: “WHO IS THIS GUY?”

Let's call it a preemptive critique. If President Obama as the Democratic Party's LEADER stands up to the Republicans, giving his party an injection of backbone, progressives will be delighted to echo Roseanne Roseanadana and say ... "never mind." Because the other choice is this:

Look Out, Idiot Punditocracy ... Sister Sarah's Out to Getcha!

With her "Communications degree" no less ... "I want to help clean up the state (that is so sorry today) of journalism; who, what, where, when, and why of reporting." She's pretty good at it, too. Not very bright, but media savvy. First Mama Grizzly deep-sixed Katie Couric. Who's next: Andrea Mitchell, Contessa Brewer, Chris Jansing, or Tamron Hall? Better bone up on your journalism 5Ws, 'cause the Empress of the Tundra's comin' for ya!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gretchen Carlson's Subconscious Takes a Dump on Sister Sarah

Mama Grizzly's new reality show is aptly described, for once:

Socialist Party Youth of Catalonia PSA: Voting Is a PLEASURE ...

Sex, socialism, and the perfect orgasm: VOTING! (Why couldn’t the Dems think of creative PSAs like these to close the “enthusiasm gap” in the youth vote?)

Shout-out to Bina for this.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Arizona DEATH PANELS of Jan Brewer And The GOP

This is such an outrageous story that it’s nearly impossible to wrap one’s mind around. All of our expectations of what a just society should be, all of our expectations of what kind of social safety net a modern state ought to provide its citizens is encapsulated in this grotesque example of inhumanity by the Republican state of Arizona, practically condemning 98 critically ill persons to death, one whose liver transplant was literally called off at the last minute, just so the state could save a few million dollars. What price a human life? In Arizona where 98 critically ill patients will be denied life-saving transplants, about $51,000 and change.

I had not known about this when I had this exchange with a conservative commenter regarding Medicaid. She said:
You're not going to like this, but Medicaid should have an expiration date. I have known too many people who do not pursue promotions/better jobs because they don't want to make more and not qualify for it. Medicaid serves a purpose, and it should be a help up and out of a bad situation, not perpetuating it.
The more thoughtful reply would be to point out that people on Medicaid would not need to resort to these kinds of non-choices if they had affordable, universal healthcare. But I was so reflexively angry by this ubiquitous attitude pervading the Right that poor people, down on their luck, are somehow unworthy of government-provided healthcare, that they’re gaming the system etc., an attitude which first came to light with Ronald Reagan’s made-up welfare queen, that I exploded in the rant below. I apologize for my tone, but not for my words. They are true. The weakest and most vulnerable in our society are the first to be tossed overboard in times of austerity. The rich not only get richer, but we are pressured to reward them even more.
You're right. This Medicaid thing is shameful. Why is it that you people take such pleasure in picking on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society? At the same time you're slobbering all over each other to give the top 2% oligarchs who rule this country another deficit-busting tax cut? It's not Obama, it's your crowd that's bringing this country down, creating a third world economy of the super-rich oligarchs, 2% who own 24% of all our wealth. Shame on each and every one of you who support these policies, and who have hearts of stone when it comes to the poor. 

I get it. Medicaid = poor people, black = throw 'em all in the gutter and under the bus. We don't need 1-in-5 children in this country going hungry; LET'S MAKE IT ONE-IN-THREE! YEAH! STOMP 'EM, STOMP 'EM! USA, USA, USA!

Please watch these segments of Countdown, no matter what you may think of Keith, and reflect on them. One of the saddest things of it all is that one of the victims of this inhumane system says he “understands” that the government is out of money (not true) and is almost apologetic that his insurance will not cover him because he is a high risk — precisely the kind of attitude among the victims of the system that the ruling elites count on to maintain their profit margins and inhumane rationing of care.

Palin And Blago, Perfect Together in The Buff at a Famous Chicago Dive Bar

Want to see Sarah Palin’s nude portrait? Come to Chicago. Two of America's Sleaziest Pols, Sarah Mama Grizzly Palin and Rod "Elvis" Blagojevich, are immortalized in the nude at a famous Chicago dive bar. Soon to be joining her hanging in the walls of Old Town Ale House, “Le Premiere Dive Bar,” is a portrait of disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blojevich in the buff. The artist, and owner, Bruce Elliott, had to devise an appropriate setting. He settled on a cavity search.

Old Town Ale House isn’t just any old dive bar. Often compared to New York City’s McSorley’s, this is a flavor of its unique ambience:
Behind the bar is such track-lit fandango as a stuffed bear playing a trumpet, a Maltese Falcon, giant wooden gorilla head, Japanese mask, photographs of former owners Arthur and Beatrice Klug, lewd paintings, and portraits of Old Town Ale House regulars from the early 70's up until the present day. In his Cezanne-like French Impressionistic style, fellow regular Bruce Elliott is responsible for this artwork—over 125 portraits in all—the rest of which can be found hanging throughout the room. Correction: Bruce Elliott is no longer a regular. He now owns the pub along with his wife Tobin Mitchell.
Sister Sarah’s nude portrait could be the most honest ever, considering the Empress of the Tundra is riding her presidential ambitions with no clothes. As Palin arch-enemy Lisa Murkowski said in her moment of greater historical political import than anything Sister Sara has done — winning the Alaska senate seat as a write-in candidate:
I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies. You know, she was my governor for two years. And I don't think that she enjoyed governing. I want somebody that goes to bed at night and wakes up in the morning thinking about how we're going to deal with our national security issues, how we're going to deal with our economy, how we're going to deal with providing better education or peace in the Middle East.
Ouch. Please, oh please run, Sarah.

Proof Goldfish Are Smarter Than Wingnuts

Jim Treacher, the minimalist blogger (by choice? Theoretically, less words, less lies per sentence...) for our favorite wingnut slime outlet, Daily Caller, questioned Joe Biden’s smarts with this lame retort: “Biden calling Obama brilliant is much like a goldfish calling… well, calling Obama brilliant.

Yawwwnnn! Sparky (loyal sidekick Hannibal, background) needs more of a challenge.
Really? My goldfish Sparky, famous for his political prognostications, takes exception. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist, let alone a goldfish, to recognize the President’s intellect. Nor does it take the Vice President, a goldfish, or the American people, 67 percent of whom say Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president, to recognize Mama Grizzly’s lack of it.

As Ben Franklin famously said correcting Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration with transcendent editorial panache, it’s “self-evident.” Compared to wingnuts who post slimy garbage like this online, goldfish are definitely smarter: