Monday, July 27, 2009

The Quittah from Wasilla, Birther Madness and America the Stupid

We are now definitely in the dog days of summer. A few days in New Jersey, where fears of Obama's health plan are high, and birther nonsense seems to win favor, it dawned on me that I can't listen to these people anymore. Basically, healthcare will pass in some form that will ameliorate the present crisis and Obama will have another domestic triumph of some sort. Sotomayor will be confirmed, despite the racist positions of Sessions, Hatch and Kyle. And we remain in Afghanistan and Iraq is acting independently. Newsweek reports the recession is over--not for some of us. Recovery will be long and hard and I doubt whether the old economy will remain the same.

While away, the birthers got wall-to-wall media coverage from CNN, FOX and NBC. Of course, the big fly in their oinment is the fact Barack Obama's mother was an American. All the rest of the nonsense about birth certificates, live births, the rumors about Mombassa (which would have been in Zanzibar when he was born) and his mother renouncing her American citizenship in Indonesia (extremely doubtful as she was a U.S. government employee in a country in the middle of a civil war), is just that nonsense. actually had a person videotape answers of House Republicans about whether Obama was a U.S citizen. Only one very conservative representative from Arizona answered in the affirmative.

Republicans believe they can play the race card to win the 2010 by-elections. That's why they don't want to alienate the birthers. In fact, Republicans didn't even respond to the prime-time press conference by President Obama on health care. Instead, the RNC and the NRSC rifled off denunciations of Obama's criticism of Cambridge, Mass police arresting Harvard professor Gates while in his own home. Now House Republicans want to pass a resolution calling on Congress forcing him to apologize because he said the police acted stupidly. Arresting a black man entering his own home with suitcases might be called stupid in the world of reality. But this flap served to get the media off the healthcare debate. In other words it served the Republicans short-term purpose. Now the new argument about healthcare reform is that illegal immigrants will receive free healthcare. Maybe this will all pay off for the Republicans but how it serves the country is beyond me.

Howard Kurtz reported that he had made frequent inquiries to Republican offices about the GOP ideas about healthcare reform and found out they have no such plan,although Roy Blunt, the leading Republican on healthcare had previously claimed a plan would be forthcoming. So in terms of policy initiatives, the GOP remains without a single idea except to race bait on every issues. Even the cancellation of the F-22 is now made into an issue of trying to prevent the Hate Crime Bill from being passed in the Senate. From healthcare to defense, it's all about race and gays. We also know the health insurance industry--the last standing prosperous financial sector in America--has bought and sold the Republicans and many of the Blue Dog Democrats like Max Baucus. If nothing happens on healthcare, the number of uninsured is expected to raise to 66 million and insurance rates for the rest of us are expected to double.

The Grifter from Wasilla or the Quittah from Wasilla turned her farewell week into a series of picnics. She isn't even funny anymore. The Fox News poll today showed a plurality of Americans believe she should have a new life as a housewife, followed by being a TV announcer. Her stature among Republicans has dropped so that she is in fourth place with about 17% for the 2012 presidential nomination. Her farewell speeches were incomprehensible to me somehow linking honoring the troops by urging the press not to make things up. A Tenth Amendment follower she warned about ever-expanding federal control over state affairs. Although she was a recipient of federal largesse during her short tenure as was fellow Tenth Amender Rick Perry of Texas who has filled in his budget gaps with stimulus money.

The best fun was the internet rumors that Rupert Murdoch's yacht and private plane had showed up in Alaska during Palin's last week. Using Google Earth they were there in living color. I would imagine to finalize deals with the Palin family on her memoirs and possible Fox appearances. Hopefully, Sarah Palin has transcended to celebritydom where she will now be the filler for tabloids, which will chronicle her marital ups and downs and her latest fashion styles.

Which brings me to real Harold Bloom theme of the Real Closing of the American Mind. Having treated myself to Stacy Keach's landmark performance as King Lear at our local Shakespeare theater, I feel an authority today on this issue. The greatest danger to the United States is the willful embrace of ignorance. We saw alot of this during the Bush-Cheney years and during Sarah Palin's Vice Presidential bid in 2008. Ideology alone triumphed over competence. Success was and is solely defined as wealth and a lack of education is considered a virtue and a sign of one's basic honesty. The more ignorant one's positions the more honest one is perceived.

The election of Barack Obama spurred this embrace of the stupid so that it is an arch leading to our destruction. Let's take Glenn Beck. Having defeated his drug and alcohol abuse, his Mormanism and his libertarianism, he has warned about the inherent fascism of the Obama Administration. A strange thing for a person earning $25 million a year to say. He pointed to the fasces decorating the podium of the Speaker of the House and its appearance on the dime. He told his viewers that appeared because of Woodrow Wilson, one of the so-called progressive leaders around the time of WWI. Actually, before the fascists coopted the symbol, it represented a Republican form of government. The right has embraced this theme of fascism as being leftist, despite all the historical evidence to the contrary. They flog Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism as the definite statement on this subject.

If anyone has any doubt on this issue, a good introduction to fascism's rightist orientation can be found in Kevin Passmore's Fascism, a very short introduction in the Oxford series on various ideologies and philosophies. Passmore has it his study to examine emerging fascism--that is, fascism before it reaches the mature states of Mussolini's Italy and Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany. Dysfunctional democracies allow for fascist openings and fascist leaders form alliances with conservative business interests to propel and sustain themselves in power. The whole theme is to renovate the nation as an organic, racial entity and not embark on a set of economic policies. They tend to be the cultural warriors par excellence. As we saw in the Holocaust, the idea is to purge the body politic of "foreign" influences and peoples considered as racially alien to the country. I would suggest some parts of the Republican base share much with early fascists.

This week we received news that the Obama Administration will release U.S. Government photographic evidence about climate change that had been suppressed during the Bush-Cheney regnum. This was an Administration which had enormous trouble coping with science. Probably the next revelations will be the release of recent dinosaur discoveries which the Bush Administration feared would prove evolution.

We end today's entry with Rush Limbaugh, the 50 million dollar man, warning about dictatorship and torture to be carried out by the Obama Administration. During Abu Ghraib, he said all this was like a frat party and he touted with great humor Club Gitmo, as the Muslim resort. Why the sudden darkness? A 2% income tax hike might cause him another $1 million. His audience probably can understand that.

Today's quiz is "Who is the most educated? Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin? The answer is--it's a she.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday Afternoon--Shards of Summer

President Obama pushed Gibbs out of the way and gave his own Friday press briefing recapping the progress toward Health Care reform and promises that his plan will not affect the deficit. he seems to have some fire over from his trip to New Jersey and the NAACP speech. Luckily for him the new Congressional Budget Office report backs him up and supports the House bill. Blue Dog Democrats wanting to postpone the health reform are going to be disappointed.

Senator DeMint of South Carolina declares this "Obama's Waterloo" and if health care reform is stopped, it will break his presidency. Which would lead 3 1/2 years left. And then what wait for the Republicans to conjure up some ideas? The awe-inspiring lack of any consideration for the public good still amazes me about the Obama-era Republicans.

Meanwhile Dick Lugar was the first Republican to announce his support for Sotomayor--Mel Martinez and Olympia Snowe were soon to follow. So, it's 63 so far and at least 1 Republican has to vote for her on the Judiciary to get the nomination to the floor. I think Grassley and Hatch will go for her. I am tired of hearing how the Republican strategy was to set the markers for the next nominee, not Sotomayor, who I insist is a moderate. I am more convinced than ever Obama should invite a donnybrook for the next nominee and name Laurence Tribe--with both men recognizing it might be a losing struggle. At least we might have hearing where constitutional issues might be openly debated--and it would be worth it. Tribe would probably not be long on the court but I would pay to hear a debate between him and Sessions.

The Obama era has not been kind to the Free Republic. Several bloggers have made the news--the Holocaust Museum killer, the Pittsburgh cop killer and the killer of Dr. Tiller. A few comments had brought the Secret Service around. Sarah Palin quits--despite the false bravado on the website about what a righteous move this was. Mitt Romney supporters purged and the quest to exterminate the RINOS continues. Now Jim Robinson has called for a revolution and armed resistance if----health care reform is passed. A curious thing since both he and his wife are wheelchair bound. Medicaid, Tricare --they must have something that the rest of don't have. For years I have been a lurker at the site and lament this descent into a certain lunacy. Before other sites covered certain topics on the right they did without the heightened religious content and now the vitriol over Obama.

Birthers are now being covered on television as sort of the Moon landing deniers and 9/11 truthers. The Young Turks this week covered the great Obama birth certificate flap with their sense of humor--they even showed a tape of the original certificate--creased with all the appropriate seals and signatures. They even quoted the harassed Hawaiian government officials about "how many times do we have to say it is authentic and he was born in Hawaii". Birthers made it on the Worse Persons of the World for encouraging serving military men to join in their suits to avoid service in Afghanistan. Another federal judge had to rule against an Army Reserve Major who protested his impending call-up--he volunteered after signing on as a plaintiff to this case--alleging Obama was not eligible to be Commander-in-Chief. After declaring a victory of sorts, when the case went against him and his lawyer and the military withdrew his call-up, CENTCOM had to make announcement calling their calls ridiculous.

Not to be outdone by Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh seems to be stirring the racial war pot himself. Frankly, I haven't seen blacks getting much advantage from the Obama Administration and especially during this depression. I'm wondering where the great grievances of Rich White Men are coming from. Even with a surtax for health reform, both men will be earning in a month more than the average American couple earns in a year or two. I think it's unseemly for the very wealthy to be bitter and angry. As the Bible says, From those who have received much, much is expected.

The gnostic cult here in D.C., the Family seems to be breeding more adulterers by the minute. Former Republican Congressman Pickering of Missippi apparently joins the list with Sanford and Ensign of those with Family connections who seemed to have gone soft on some of the 10 Commandments. His wife is suing the mistress for causing "alienation of affection"--I like that. Apparently, Pickering actually conducted the affair in the "C" Street house itself. It's cool to be one of God's Chosen--the rules don't apply. Meanwhile Gov Sanford seems to have misused state funds to facilitate his love affair--he at least fell in love.

Obama needs to go for the gold on health care reform right now or it will slip,slide away and , for get the political consequences, the economic effects will be devastating. With unemployment rising, those without health insurance increases, personal bankruptcy increases and the impact on the national deficit increases. The only other domestic reform Obama will be able to get out of Congress will be Immigration Reform. The Republicans know that health care reform, immigration reform and their opposition to Sotomayor and they are doomed. That's why Republicans are fighting tooth and nail over these things. Party uber alles--country last.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fired Up. Ready To Go

As we head to the dog days of summer, at least one public official seems to enjoy his job--President Barack Obama. Missing for the first six m0nths has been some of the heat of his campaign. Yesterday in New Jersey, at a campaign rally for Governor Jon Corzine President Obama was in total campaign mode with some of the fire we've been missing lately. I wish he would give one of these speeches per week. Later he addressed the centennial of the NAACP and delivered a masterful speech on racism, prejudice and the enduring problems of inequality in the United States. The MSM basically covered the speech as calling for a new mindset for blacks--which it did--but he also talked at length at the "structural inequalities" within American society--something conveniently left out of the press coverage.

From there we went straight to Pat Buchanan appearing on the Rachel Maddow Show remindingeveryone that white males wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and built everything ( with the help of slave labor) died at Gettysburg (a cause Pat would reject today), died on the beaches of Normandy and naturally deserve to have been 108 of the last 112 SupremeCourt Judges. Pat attacked Sotomayor as an affirmative action nominee. He also asserted that everyone graduates from Ivy league school these days cum laude--he didn't mention her graduating summa cum laude--which might strain the affirmative action theory. She also was her high school's valedictorian.But no matter--she hasn't demonstrated the type of intellect of Anthony Scalia or a Bob Bork. Instead of my idea of an Indian justice, let's finally put Laurence Tribe on the Court the next time to assuage the white males and see whether the Republicans will ooh and aah about his brilliance.

Pat went off on reverse discrimination faced by white males. But he didn't say that the white male problem is one of unemployment and the transfer of jobs abroad as facilitated by the white guys Bush and Cheney.

For the past week, we have been treated to the strange kibuki world of the hearings on confirming Judge Sotomayor by the Senate. Again, the Senate didn't disappoint in the clueless department. The Republican assault on the Judge was incomprehensible from a political point of view. Republican favorable ratings among Hispanics plunged to 7%. The cretinist level of questioning ranged from Sen. Coburn's imitation of Ricky Ricardo ( a Cuban, not Puerto Rican) to Sessions' whining about the "wise Latina". Some blogger remarked that the Republicans treated Judge Sotomayor as if she were a maid asking for a raise. The best blogging for the whole proceeding was Andrew Pincus over at who actually tried to explain those rare moments when actual legal matters were discussed.

The Republicans tried out all their talking points from her alleged racism, her membership on a Puerto Rican civil rights group, to ruling against a white firefighter. In my mind, they only scored at the end when Sessions commented that she couldn't afford to be a Supreme Court judge--which might literally be true. He would know because he's filthy rich like most of the Senate. The process itself has been so degraded that a friend of Judge Sotomayor lamented that we didn't see the vibrant and intellectually engaging personality she knows. After the Bork debacle, the judges appearing for nomination have all been anodyne in their answers causing the head of the University of Virginia Law School to say we have lost a wonderful teaching moment about our Constitution and the art of law. In the end, Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed with 70+ votes.

Which raises the issue of why the Republican Party allowed Southerners to lead the charge against her and what strategy they had in alienating the growing Hispanic population. In a fight they knew they would not win, they should have backed off in my opinion. But then again, I've felt their total resistance to anything suggested by President Obama is suicidal. Pat Buchanan, the first culture warrior, has been espousing a return to the Nixon strategy of fueling white resentment against both minorities and those elites who graduate cum laude from Ivy League colleges. Pat's not alone. The American Spectator is predicting a "political earthquake" in the 2010 elections as a response to the Obama Administration. I'm afraid it's still true that you have to beat something with something. Republicans are counting on low turnouts of minorities in off-year elections so they can ramp up the white turnout for Republicans. Maybe that will succeed but they came off as assholes during the Sotomayor hearings.

My favorite moment was the exchange between Orrin Hatch and Sotomayor over her ruling in a case that involved nunchuks. Clearly Hatch had been prepped this was a staright Second Amenment case involving something to do with gun rights when it was nothing of the sort. Sotomayor at least could go "street" by explaining what nunchuks could do.

Another great moment was the discussion of our "god-given right of self-defense", terminology right out of the NRA presented by Senator Coburn. Obama's friendship with the reactionary Senator still amazes me.

This has also been the week when all of the Republican adulterers have been linked to the C Street refuge of the Family, a secretive Christianist cult where boarders share confidences that get them off the hook because they are "elected by God", a theme we will be seeing more in the next few years. Senator Ensign lodged there and Gov Sanford was given spiritual advice there. Senator Coburn, who knew of both men's infidelities, claims patient doctor confidentiality as well as some implied oath of silence since he is an ordained deacon--not minister--of his church. Yesterday, another former Republican Congressman from Mississippi was also exposed as having an affair, who lived there. The big winner of this was Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, a book detailing the role of the Family in American politics and explaining the present state of fundamentalism and politics in the country. He lucked out because the affairs hit as his book was released in paperback.

I still am checking into --great Eagle shot the other day. They are reporting that the feds are in Alaska checking out the state's woeful medical situation. The week has seen Chief Evangelist Sarah Palin drifting out of the limelight despite tweeting about Bears. Apparently, the Alaska legislature is being called back into emergency session to deal with the succession, not secession issue and to overturn the Palin's veto on the stimulus funds.

Finally, kudos to Bob Costasfor the best interview with President Obama--twenty minutes solely on baseball. Obama admitted his first favorites were the old Oakland A's with Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson. A favorite team of mine. Remember when Charles Finley tried to get Vida to change his name to "True Blue.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Escaping the Mudflats

Days of trolling mudflats have to end--while they hooked me with their Palin coverage, it was the Moose showing up in their backyard that made the site so appealing. Our Raccoon--Rocky--who has been the nightraider of our garbage, appeared yesterday. He's been living underneath our back deck. He must be the world's only known subterranean raccoon. These incidents and trolling Maine sites remind one stuck in the Beltway what life in "real America" might look like.

The Republicans are trying to drag out the health care process so as to kill it. Their ability to filibuster is gone with Franken so now is delay,delay,delay. They are also pretending to need to analyze Sotomayor more closely, even though her opinions have been in the Senate for some time. They feel the wind is at their back because the stimulus package hasn't taken effect yet and they are claiming it has failed and thus Obama is damaged. They now point to his more human approval ratings of about 56-59% as an indication of a failed presidency. Boy, that didn't take long. I guess he would have to descend to George W Bush levels of 20% before anyone would say he is sticking to his principles, no matter what the public opinion polls show.

I'm convinced now that engaging in politics may be a mental disease. Take for example, South Carolina's only known straight Senator De Mint. He launched into a discussion here that America was like Germany just before WWII. Is this before or after Hitler took over? Are we talking about rampant inflation, the decadence of the Weimar Republic, WWI reparations, missing sections of the country? Or are we about to invade Poland and exterminate the Jews? I guess it must be the Hitler period because that's a theme in the tea parties, especially in Florida where Obama is Hitler. I guess Glenn Beck is right, we're all going to be rounded up into the FEMA camps.

John Boehner says that no contracts for stimulus projects have been signed in his state of Ohio, where Obama is taking a hit. Unfortunately for the rest of America, they don't read the Cleveland Plains-Dealer, which only the other day outlined those projects, which have begun.

A Texan called me to ask why we had to have government anyway. He and his business friends think they could run things better. Am I missing something? Isn't the economic and financial collapse in large part because the private sector couldn't run anything--at all? But the conversation lasted two hours as we walked through why government is necessary so that you don't have to live in 24/7 survival mode and that you can do things like plan, send your child to school and maybe retire with something over the years. But as he told me, all his friends are talking this way.

Texas Governor Perry got a great idea--privatizing and out-sourcing highways. Now German, Spanish and Croatian firms own major Texas highways and collect tolls. My Texas business friend thinks this is very clever. I know the Croatian company and their work in Africa lasted only six months. I told him call me in a year when you've experienced the hikes in tolls.

Other callers are complaining about all the taxes Obama has increased. Outside of the local hike on smokes, I've gotten tax breaks and look forward to getting the tax credit for my son's college tuition. So far no one I know has experienced any federal tax hikes.

Just think for the $1 trillion we spent on the Iraq War, we could have a national health care system for ten years. Which reminds me--What did we get for the $11 trillion deficit the Bush-Cheney team racked up? At least with Obama's deficit, some American will get something.

Russia, India and China are squawking about a new global currency to replace the dollar. I would suggest those three adopt the Yuan and we'll see when the Chinese banking system collapses. China's public debt ratios make us look very conservative and the banks are way over-leveraged. At some point, they will have to deeply depreciate their currency.

Well, Obama really flopped in Moscow. He only signed an agreement for sharp reductions in nuclear weaponry. If this were the 1990s,that would be considered an historic agreement for which history should remember him. I thought it was funny to see Richard Pearle come out against the agreement. Pearle was one of the neocons and other conservatives who opposed Reagan's nuclear arms reduction agreements.

What is going through John McCain's mind? McCain came out for the Honduras coup at a time when Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was about to negotiate a resolution to the issue. With the entire OAS,EU and the Obama Administration against the coup, wouldn't you have the humility to at least see how this goes before jumping the gun. Conservatives even created a Honduras Coup Caucus. Remember when Democratic congress types flying to foreign capitals were considered traitors. What's up with this? Maybe McCain is simply protecting all the IRI grantees who were in on the coup?

And then we end with Pope Benedict and his encyclical "Charity in Truth", which means that he is left of Obama on economic issues. Does that mean that O'Reilly and Hannity should be denied communion because they are against Church social doctrine?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

21st Century--Goldwater versus Rockefeller

Polls taken immediately after Sarah Palin's resignation announcement show that 7 out of 10 Republicans would vote for her for the presidential nomination. Now with party identification standing at 20%--that's 14%, another 7% of Democrats said they would--so that's another 2.8%. So she starts 2012 out at 16.8%--factor in some independents and let's put it at about 20% of the total popular vote. Now where you get another 30+1% is a stretch. And the remaining Republican power-brokers know all this but given the authoritarian nature of the party now, no one is going to directly criticize the most popular Republican in the country.

If you scan the tentative 2012 presidential primaries and caucus schedule, she wins Iowa, loses New Hampshire to Romney, wins in South Carolina and has a big day on super Tuesday. Romney would have to keep enough cash on hand to make a comeback in March when Michigan rolls around. Only by a war of attrition will he have a chance against Sarah Palin. Mike Huckabee will try to position himself as the reliable and steady Theocon in the race and try to split the conservative vote.

Improbably as it seems, the 2012 Republican presidential race is shaping up to be a return some 48 years later of Barry Goldwater versus Nelson Rockefeller. Barry appeared as a tall, handsome figure with a chiseled face against the backdrop of the beautiful Arizona landscape running against the suited, peppery gazillionaire Nelson Rockefeller. Sarah Palin in her fishing attire against the blue sky backdrop of Alaska versus the suited, coiffed millionaire from Taxachusetts Mitt Romney. Sarah will be seen as plain-speaking (even though I have a hard time figuring what she means) against Mr. Sophisticate Mitt Romney.

Of course, this is all appalling and Democrats would be well warned not to egg on a Palin candidacy, in the horrible off-chance that the American people, so battered by the country's economic collapse,embrace simple and simplistic slogans and support a super American nationalism that is exclusionary and not pluralistic. The United States will remain the world's largest economy at least until 2025. Can you really imagine Sarah Palin sitting on top of a modern political economy? No one should even take the off chance, especially Democrats, for the sake of what remains of our country's future.

There are many objectionable things about Sarah Palin. Originally, I thought she was a libertarian, Alaskan nationalist who would bring spark to the dying McCain campaign. But, her politics is almost exclusively derived from a pernicious form of evangelical religion that, in its Alaskan form, believes the Rapture will occur in Wasilla, her hometown. The perfect comparison to her religious mindset is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Substitute Jesus Christ for the Hidden Imam and it's almost a perfect fit. The final days will bring conflagration in the Middle East, particularly in Israel, which will bring the restoration of Jesus Christ as the lord of all--or the Hidden Imam if you are a Shi'ite Moslem. There are many problems with this but the primary issue is that both Palin and Ahmadinejad believe one's political actions and policies should act as triggering agents for this last Cosmic event.

Against this, Mitt Romney looks like white bread and even more dangerously he is a Morman, which the Palin evangelicals believe is a cult. News commentators who are still cowed by the right will shy away from investigating Palin's religious beliefs and her strange evangelical relationships. In one of her many exit interviews, she identifies with Queen Easter in the Old Testament, when she says "If I Die, I Die", a slogan of the more militant Christian evangelical groups currently recruiting in our military. In the primary campaign, it will be Palin supporters who will raise religious issues against Romney and put him on the defensive, while Sarah will get a free ride.

One of the most annoying habits of Sarah Palin is her chronic and habitual lying even over the most minor things. In yesterday's fishing interviews, she kept referring to the boat that Todd and his buddies built--even though within seconds Alaskan bloggers noted the boat was built in the state of Washington by a reputable boat builder. There was no result for this except if you always embellish the truth. Her statements she is saving Alaska milions of dollars in costs to pursue the ethics complaints against her is more spin than a outright lie.

But one thing is clear is that her declarations on who succeeds her--at least in the second position in Alaska is going to cost Alaskans plenty. Apparently, the Alaska legislature must be called back in session at a minumum cost of $60K a day and actually choose the Lt. Governor because, as uninterested she is in governing, her choice refused to serve because he earned more with a full military commission and could not have served unless he resigned his military rank. And no one knows then whether it is the legislature call for the next choice. As if to compound things, Sarah Palin couldn't even resign in a way that was efficient and made sense.

Palin retains a folkloric appeal and nothing she did or did not do as a 1/2 term Governor or full-term mayor of a small town--actually run by a city manager--will matter to her followers.

But one thing is clear--"In Your Guts, You Know She's Nuts"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarah's 19th Nervous Breakdown

The monday morning reviews are in from Republican strategists and conservative pundits and there are universally bad for Palin's presidential aspirations in 2012. When conservative Craig Shirley says you're out of the game and Fred Barnes says Sarah has "dashed her chances" for 2012, that's pretty devastating. More importantly, the taboo subject about what a Palin run would bring to the Republicans in 2012 means is now being discussed openly. Republicans are publicly saying a Palin-Obama contests would result in another Goldwater type of landslide loss. While more charitable people are saying she will raise buckets of money for GOP candidates, cash in on her book deal and conclude a television gig--and then will be in the position to run. But I agree with the pundits on this--2012 is out of the question because of the erratic way in which she resigned and more importantly that she resigned with nearly 40% of her term left.

The whole setup for her statement is all wrong. The more we know, it's clear the less the family knew. Today's New York Times reports what I thought--her legal fees were the straw that broke the camel's back. Any fan of Northern Exposure knows that this time of year in Alaska brings days of endless daylight and triggers strange behavior of the state's inhabitants. With the First Dude fishing off Bristol Bay, the eldest children out of the house,the Governor had a lot of time to ponder $600,000 in legal fees and rumors about the circumstances around the building of the very house she was sitting in. I personally think she just freaked. We know her tweetering stopped around Wednesday and only picked up on July 4th.

What possibly forced her resignation? Her own paranoia took hold of her when someone close to her solicited the bizarre Sunday denial by the FBI that she was under investigation. Some have speculated that there were questions surrounding her legal fund and its use. Others claimed housegate was the subject. I tend to think the old rumor about Trig being Bristol's child surfaced again,something which would have sent her around the bend. But, it is curious that around Wednesday the mystery began. Maybe we will never know. It was just the crushing awareness she was totally bored by being governor, the position such an Alaskan nationalist most wanted, on the verge of bankruptcy because of her legal debts, and simply fed up with being the fodder for all kinds of speculation.

The people at the grassroots, who took heart from her Facebook page and its promises of fighting for the revival of America, believe this all was deliberate and a thought-out strategy. Nothing could be further from the truth. This had the hallmarks of being a Stage Five Sulk. And it would not surprise me if she asked to have her position back next week.

Andrea Mitchell is traipsing around in Alaska now and interviews a personal friend, who says,"Sarah is serving out her term in another way." Oh please, don't spare the suspense, tell us. The fact she is spending her remaining time as Governor salmon fishing should raise even further questions.

In alot of ways it's like Susan Boyle and her rise to fame by being a very average person who had one big talent--singing. With moxie she pushed her way into the Britain's Got Talent show and swept people away, only to end up hospitalized because of as nervous breakdown prior to the finals. Happily, she is recording an album now but she is being treated gingerly because of her emotional state. As we have seen in the last few days, Sarah Barracuda is also a front for someone who has shown an amazing degree of sensitivity to criticism, despite her penchant for dishing it out. Sarah Palin has exhibited over the past year several moments of extreme vulnerability--as should be expected when one realizes she really isn't a professional politician at all.

For all the blather about the vicious Left and the mainstream media and the bloggers going after her, I think we will find the culprits inside the Republican Party and people who used to be close to her as the reasons for the bailout. Personally, I would not be surprised if she eventually withdrew from party functions altogether. She would feel more welcome among pro-life groups and other non-party conservative organizations.

In all this, we have commentators raising the issue of the Beltway and media elitists going after her. Aren't there conservative elitists? Isn't Rush Limbaugh, a fabulously wealthy man, an elitist? Isn't George Will, an elitist? Why is elitism only the domain of liberals and the Left? The mainstream media personalities are not so much elitist as wealthy--virtually everyone commenting on the tube earns at least five times the salary of the average American. That's why you saw all of them--even the liberals--raising questions about Obama's miniscule tax hikes for those earning over $250,000.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Only Dead Fish Go With the Flow--Don't Ya Know

This afternoon Sarah Palin tweeted her lawyer's threats to the entire blogosphere. Her lawyer-- one Thomas Van Flien (last name underlined)--threatened all blogs, Washington Post, Huffington Post and the entire Internet with the exception of Al Gore with lawsuits charging defamation of character if anyone suggested that Sarah Palin was under investigation for any corruption charges. He then goes into delicious detail about the charges surrounding the construction of Palin's Lake Lucille home only raising more questions. Comments on Shannyn Moore's website suggested that the only people who act this way are scientologists, who use poison-pen lawsuits as their modus operandi. And come to think of it--Sarah Palin's national political adviser is a high-ranking scientologist. Coincidence?

This all underscores the need for another Anonymous to emerge to write the novel. It's too good to pass up. A former beauty contestant marries an Eskimo man, lives in a small town marked by huge gravel pits on each side, breeds a gaggle of children, who are named like Hobbits, gets drafted to run for mayor, is supported by a secessionist movement and eventually becomes Governor of the State. All the time her Iron Man snowmachine champion husband acts as muscle and suspects his wife has had at least two affairs, thereby closing two businesses. Their son slashes the tires on at least 24 school busses and is caught and given the choice of prison or enlisting in the military. Her daughter gets pregnant to a local layabout, whose mother deals in Oxycontin and meth. And, a presidential nominee, desparate for some energy in his flagging campaign, impulsively decides to pick the young Governor as his running-mate.

There are alot of side characters that make it interesting--her local pastor who believes the anti-Christ will be gay; his sidekick--a Kenyan witchdoctor, who lays his hands upon the Governor willing God to open doors for her. The lawyer Van Flien, who is always threatening anyone who questions her actions. The addled-brained and thoroughly corrupt Senator, on whose PAC she sits before he is indicted. She was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. Or we have the construction firm, which is awarded the contract to building a sports facility for the hometown even though they will never be able to pay for it in a hundred years.

On her appearance on the national stage, she morphs into Spiro Agnew, slamming the Democratic candidate, throwing red meat to an unusually starved Republican convention. Her media appearances are a disaster, sparking off late night parodies of her but she rebounds with bloodchurdling rhetoric at political rallies, where she attacks the Democratic opponent of coddling terrorists and being anti-American. Her rallies far outdraw the elderly Senator, who is running at the top of the ticket. A star is born. After a tour of the country's best shopping malls, she gets the fever and wants to become the Leader of the Free World.

It would enable the creators of Northern Exposure to revamp the series for a more post-modern look and sensibility. There is so much there already for comic genius. It's like the Beverly Hillbillies writ large. The Governor even sends out $3,000 for every citizen based on the oil revenues of the state. While Jed Clampett had a shotgun,the Moose lady has automatic weapons with which she slays every living beasts in the forest. This is a story for "real Americans".

The Queen of the North Abdicates

This started out as a piece to refute a DailyKos blogger who wrote a sensible piece on why Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee for President in 2012. My argument was that Sarah Palin is the most popular Republican and is the living incarnation of the much diminished Republican base and would have advantages throughout the primary season until about March.

With the events of the last few days, one is compelled to comment on Mother Bear (as she refers to herself) deserting her Alaskan cubs. Over July 4th, we were treated to even more bizarreness. Palin's lawyer rifled off a long letter threatening to sue Shannyn Moore of , a blogger on all things Alaskan, for suggesting there was an 'iceberg coming to sink the S.S. Palin". The Alaskan bureau of the FBI made a public comment they were not investigating Sarah Palin and said "there are no wiggle words in that comment." After her relatively incoherent resignation statement, Palin issued a Fourth of July greeting on her Facebook, which suggested a set of issues she would pursue in the future and that she chastised the press for not understanding her decision was about "the country". Who knew? Her resignation speech was almost all Alaska oriented suggesting that she could advocate for Alaska better out of office then within.

Ed Rollins, who is an old master of Republican politics and favorable to Palin, thought the whole staging of the resignation speech inept and the timing highly suspicious because you hastily call a Friday before a holiday press conference to hide bad news and not announce anything positive. Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe fame , who also resigned from Congress,claimed you needed a clear reason for resigning from public office and she didn't give it. He pointed to his own reason because his 14-year old son was in trouble and the counsellors said he couldn't spend 220 nights a year away from him. Bill Kristol, who has the practical political sense of a gnat, said "It could be a crazy move like a fox." And Karl Rove pontificated this morning the Palin move was "risky".

When she announced, the conservative bloggers made statements like "She has been Called"," She has crossed the Rubican", "She is playing chess while others are playing checkers","She will be Obama's worst nightmare." They also thought the speech was good and an example she can speak without a teleprompter--there was actually one there.

Like any political event, this is multivalent--it has several meanings, none of which are dominant to the narrative. Let's look at the resignation event. None of the Alaskan Republicans had been informed. The Republican Governors Association had talked to her that day and knew she was not running for re-election--which makes sense if you running for President--but not that she was resigning. The Lt. Governor only knew Wednesday night during a visit to her office. The careful thought process she mentioned didn't seem to be true. Her husband had to fly in from an offshore fishing job, her brother didn't know, her spokeswomen was on vacation, Bristol wasn't present and it was clear her family didn't have clue. The press had two hours advanced notice--so as to drive 45 minutes to Wasilla--the venue was not in any government building. The whole thing reeked of an adhoc moment arranged on a whim. If Greta von Sustern, who's married to her national political adviser, was surprised and shocked, you know it was whimsy. If Fox News didn't make it there and Rupert Murdoch is her benefactor with the book contracts, something was really off.

The Alaskan audience thought her delivery was more rambling than usual and she appeared nervous and anxious as if she wanted to get out of Dodge in a hurry. Respected author Joe McGinnis, who has written a book on Alaska and is said to be working on one about Sarah Palin, told a radio audience that a leading Alaskan Republican told him "she's psycho." Paul Begala reminded us of Hunter Thompson's old adage,"When things get weird, the weird goes pro." Washington writers believe that her resignation showed a lack of understanding about governance,especially her reference to not needing the title. I was reminded of Carl Hiassen's mysterious Florida governor, who resigned and disappeared and showed up in his novels working to preserve the Everglades. Maybe she would disappear and end up saving the Polar Bears but that's not what this is about.

If you want the polar opposite of No Drama Obama, it's Sarah Palin in her Diva mode. She made it clear to the McCain campaign that she has a firm grasp of who she is and what she's about. And she makes the average politician blush with her raw ambition. Unlike Joe the Plumber who learned from God he shouldn't run for office, Sarah Palin in her facebook entry claimed to be going to a higher calling. Her own biography shows an ever-evolving personality, jumping from ambition to ambition, position to position. This is the second time she has resigned a state-wide position. Her days as Alaskan Governor were numbered--the legislature and she were at logger heads, the native American groups were in total mutiny, now fishing openly and illegally because of the starvation during the last few months, and her own cabinet was resigning everyday. Her once high popularity was plummeting but still above 50%--but this was before the roof caves in on Alaska's economy.

There are reasons to believe more scandals might emerge from Todd Palin's business dealings but I doubt this was the cause of the move. One Alaskan journalist said that Sarah Palin showed an inordinate sensitivity to blog posts and rumors surrounding her. She was apparently very thin-skinned, not the best situation for the blood sport of politics. She complains about the major media "attacks" on her but she never mentions that the primary sources for these attacks are Republicans themselves and not the Left. I found the whole Obama campaign extremely reserved about using any of the materials about her during their campaign. While she exhalted in whipping up anti-Obama sentiment by saying he "palled around with terrorists", referring to Bill Ayres, and by raising the issue of Jeremiah Wright. The Secret Service reported that death threats against Obama spiked during this period and remain higher than against any President in living memory. But she can't take the heat when it's brought against her.

It's true she was not introduced on the national stage with adequate preparation from the McCain camp and let's face it she was never vetted. It's reasonable that she would want to control the narrative when she re-introduces herself for 2012. The fact of the matter is that she tired of governing Alaska. The state had not allowed her to commute from Wasilla, instead of living at the Governor's Mansion. She was under the gun through many ethics complaints as caused by her own ethics law. And she saw the possibilities for her to fill the gapping vaccum in the leadership of the National Republican Party.

With lawyer bills nearing 2/3rd of a million dollars, she probably took out the calculator and totalled her advance for her memoirs,the fees for a couple of speeches and the deal she has been taking about with NBC, and the numbers told her to take a hike. Her PAC money could not be used to pay down the legal fees until she left office and under disclosure laws in Alaska she would have to reveal the amount of her book contracts rumored to range from $2 million to $11 million. In her mid-40s, she could earn enough in a very short time to take care of her family and have a nice nest egg for a run in 2012.

All of this would be risky from a conventional political point of view but her base support fundamentally believes all politicians are compromised and corrupt and she is a fresh, authentic and honest voice in a pretty putrid business. All the advice that she needs to brush up on policy issues--while making sense--has no relationship to those who support her. "We don't want that stinkin' policy business." If anyone has taken an honest look at the Republican base recently, one notices that there is no interest in governance or in government in general. Sarah Palin is culture warrior par excellence.

As I've said countless times, she pushes all the buttons of the diminished Republican base and she represents the Republican demographic perfectly--white, evangelical,rural. She is an end-timer like George W.Bush and Ronald Reagan, a creationist, a global warming denier,an absolutist on abortion issues and gun rights, and anti-gay. She holds the belief you drill your way to energy independence,give a blank check on defense expenditures and cut all taxes and she and her husband are sympathetic to secessionist views, now manifested in the 10th amendment movement. Her views on hunting make Wayne La Pierre look like a pacifist. She is the total anti-Obama and that's why the Republican base loves her.

How narrow has that base become? Senator De Mint of South Carolina wrote recently that conservative icon Ronald Reagan compromised his beliefs too much as President. George W. Bush, who ran the most ideologically conservative administration in my lifetime, is now linked to Obama as a heretic who vastly expanded government programs. We're getting down to Goldwater territory here,except Barry had a very strong libertarian streak which would not have tolerated the militancy of social conservatives. Sarah Palin's politics are essentially theological on the far-right end of the evangelical spectrum. There is a type of nativism there about preserving the "real America" and reviving "the country" that has a frightening tinge to it.

She is right in line with those of the base that believe the party should purge itself of RINOs--the definition of which grows all the time--and that a pure religious and economic conservative message will bring them to victory. The problem is that good conservative ideas have become diluted by politicians who don't walk the walk. The creator of the Free Republic, Jim Robinson, in his invitation to a Freeper Convention in Washington, summed up the sentiment with --a paraphrase--"Down with Socialism, Down with Obama, and Down with Romney."

A recent Republican survey showed that Republicans overwhelmingly believed that the best political ideas right now are coming from the grassroots and not from conservative think tanks or the politicians themselves. In her resignation speech, she talked about change from the bottom-up--an Obama phrase-- but with,I believe, a difference. I think you will see her speaking before groups of cultural conservatives over the next few years and not to the Republican Party per se. I'm also dubious about her stated commitments to raise funds for the party but rather see her inject herself in primary contests against moderates such as the Senate race in Florida. Michael Steele claims he wants to use her in the New Jersey and Virginia Governor races. the latter I can see because the Republican candidate was a protege of Pat Robertson and she made her mark campaigning for the "real Virginia" during the 2008 election.

Sarah Palin is the logical extension of the George W. Bush conundrum--ideology over competence. Instead of re-gaining competence, the Republican base wants to push ideology to its extreme. In times of economic depression and global problems, the simplest formulas might prove to be the most emotionally powerful. Palin working the lower 48 over the next few years is potentially social dynamite. She has charisma in her own funky way and will make potential candidates like Romney and Huckabee look like also-rans. Why would you support a preacher when you can support a believer? Or why would you support someone who has been successful in the private sector when that sector so badly failed America? And with the broad base of evangelicals, how can you support a Morman--someone you think of as a cult member? What would be perceived in conventional political terms as strengths for Romney would be seen as the same old weaknesses of a Rino too attached to our political structures.

If Barack Obama is the radical moderate as I've argued, Sarah Palin is the radical--period.

The one impression I got from the whole resignation flap is that I'm not convinced Sarah Palin has the endurance to last the whole route to the Presidential nomination. I think her ambition has outstripped her physical and psychic strength to go through the mundane process of developing a campaign staff, developing a communications strategy and filing all the proper papers for the primaries. And while she is trying to play a legal hardball with the media now, she will not be able to continue this for a period of time, if she is to be viable as national candidate. All candidates want to develop an unfiltered way to get out their message and she will be able to through her television show and memoirs but in the nitty gritty of campaigning it is inevitable that you have to submit to questioning, even about your family.

I think Republicans will have too much to handle when she migrates to the lower 48. She won't be Obama's worst nightmare, she could well become the GOP's.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Horse Latitudes

Vanity Fair's piece on Sarah Palin produced the predictable fallout among Republican operatives with fans like Billy Kristol attacking McCain campaign staffers. Meanwhile Sister Sarah appeared in Runner's World, which is actually a shrewd move. Republican surveys in the recent weeks place her as a favorite for 2012, something I don't disagree with considering the far-right tendency among the base. As I've argued so many times before, you can't live in the Beltway and understand her appeal. You also can't believe there is a political solution to our current problems and understand why people are enthusiastic about her. Virtually all the recent attacks on her from people steeped in policy and governance can only redound to her favor. Her followers simply do not believe a word uttered by the nomenklatura--about anything.

Governor Sanford has provided vast entertainment this week as Republicans scramble to cover up more lapses from the family values wing of the party. His press appearances have been truly horrifying because you never know what's going to come out of his mouth. Yesterday's confession that he sort of went over the line with several other women but not really gives the man a very spooky demeanor.

Landslide Al Franken finally won the last of the races from the world's longest election season of 2008. For what it's worth, the recount process in Minneapolis was as transparent and open as I've seen and there are a number of heroes in this process. One of which is the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose daily coverage of the whole process really deserves a Pulitzer. There were also bloggers who produced some riveting reads. Despite a frustrating lag, the Minnesota Supreme Court came through in the end with a unanimous opinion. My conservative friends would like to say that Franken's victory was illegitimate based on some theory of vote-rigging and mischief by ACORN people. The Wall Street Journal and Fox News appear to buy into this for obvious ideological reasons. The big problem here is the nature of the democratic institutions in Minnesota, which historically play it straighter than anyone else in the country. They didn't disappoint this time either. Sometimes, it is as close as it was in this year's Senate race.

Does Franken as the 60th Democratic Senator mean much? With Ted Kennedy absent because of his illness and Byrd because of his age, probably not so much. But what it does is render the filibuster threat by Republicans moot. I never felt the filibuster threat had any teeth in it from the get-go because of the likes of Republican Senators Snowe and Collins. The samurai warlord mentality of the Senate remains the largest problem in pushing forward any significant legislation such as Cap and Trade and Health Care Reform. These are people largely oblivious and immune to the economic collapse of the country and the death spiral of joblessness, home foreclosures and bankruptcy because of health debts. If anything, the U.S. Senate's function is self-preservation as an exclusive club for the rich--with the exception of relatively middle-class Tom Harkin. With lobbyists pouring $1.5 million a day into fighting health reform, it should be no wonder that Max Baucus, chairing a key committee on the subject, goes for a holiday with the lobbyists or Joe Lieberman, after promising a public option in his 2006 campaign, rejects it since he is the number 4 recipient of contributions from the health care industry. What's great about the wealthy is that they seem to be more for sale than anyone else.

President Obama was next door today for his Healthcare Townhall. I still insist that he isn't saying what his own plan for health care looks like and his explanations, while impressive in detail and flow, tend to confuse you if you're looking for precision. He really should be selling healthcare reform as if he was asking permission to wage war. So far, there doesn't seem to be any risk to congresscritters who might oppose his program. Targeted ads by various interest groups against Blue Dog Democrats appear to be working but that might because the targets themselves know that the leaders in the Senate have already killed the public option.

House Republicans are now launching new attacks on President Obama's economic programs calling them Bush-Obama policies. It's fascinating that they are outlining talking points these days that Bush strayed off the conservative path and that's why we have the economic crisis we have today. Interesting point but one that seems to be missed by the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia. He made a whopper of a speak this week praising Bush's economic policies and stating he wants to emulate them while in office. Of course, this means we will all get tax cuts-- because as we all know tax cuts are the only incentive the private sector has of doing its job.

Meanwhile, California is sending out IOUs to vendors. The vast majority of states have not passed their budgets--although Arizona did pass a law you can carry guns into a resturant. Even Indiana, which has run surpluses in past years, looks like it will have to shut down services and close facilities. What I wonder is how does the modern federalist look on the collapse of our state governments? If you are the new small government Republican, which extolls the Tenth Amendment as your protection against Barack Obama's massive federal instrusion, then will you raise revenues at the state level to enforce your federalism? I expect the answer is no because the ersatz federalists don't believe in it or in government in general.