Friday, September 05, 2008

To Fight Fire With Water

From the October, 2008 issue of Psychology Today, p. 22

Click to Enlarge. Feel Free To Download And Pass On.

I urge you to read this. Understand the enemy and he is yours.

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) John McCain gave a speech last night: "HEY! YOU KIDS! GET OFF MY LAWN!"

2) Prediction: The Republican Party is so bereft of ideas and policies, and more important, fresh blood, that they've trotted out Sarah Palin for a cup of coffee on the national political scene in the hopes she can run against Obama in 2012.

3) John McCain just flat out looked old last night. Ronald Reagan, no matter how much we made fun of his age, never acted this lethargic when he took center stage. Game over.

4) I've been accused at various blogs I visit of politicizing Palin's kids. I'm not. As I've posted here already, I am examining the claims of a self-professed "hockey mom" to be fit to lead a nation in a time of crisis, because indeed, what would make her take over the Presidency BUT a crisis? If you're going to trot out your disabled child as a symbol of your compassion, that compassion is fair game. If you're going to trot out your daughter's decision (your own words) to signal your commitment to principle, then the principles that child was taught are fair game. Again, a pitbull would have chaperoned her daughter if she felt this strongly about family morals and values. My dad did it with my sister, and with me on my first few dates.

5) You know who was a "community organizer"? Jesus. The appropriate response of Obama should be this:
Community organizers step in when there's a problem and government turns its back on the people. I thought that's what America was all about: roll up your sleeves and fix the problem yourself?

Epic fail, GOP!

6) Suddenly, Hillary extending the primary season seems like a GOOD idea!

7) Arguably the dumbest commercial I have ever seen.

8) Jack Abra-who, now? Four years, huh? I'm guessing Patrick Fitzgerald couldn't break him. I'm sure he has a cushy job waiting for him in 2013.

9) I'm not sure this is the answer to Obama's troubles...he really owes states like Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio a personal apology for his abhorrent behavior...but it's a start.

10) If you picked 6% or higher, you WIN! And lose.

11) They'll be able to use a similar headline on November 5.

12) I know how they felt.

13) Remember the old days, when a bachelor party meant hookers and beer?

Don't tase me, bro! This is Carl signing out.


(h/t to Memeorandum for showing the love to this post)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

George Lakoff on Symbolism v. Facts

The Palin Choice (and the political brain):
"The Democratic responses so far reflect external realities: she is inexperienced, knowing little or nothing about foreign policy or national issues; she is really an anti-feminist, wanting the government to enter women's lives to block abortion, but not wanting the government to guarantee equal pay for equal work, or provide adequate child health coverage, or child care, or early childhood education; she shills for the oil and gas industry on drilling; she denies the scientific truths of global warming and evolution; she misuses her political authority; she opposes sex education and her daughter is pregnant; and, rather than being a maverick, she is on the whole a radical right-wing ideologue.

All true, so far as we can tell.

But such truths may nonetheless be largely irrelevant to this campaign. That is the lesson Democrats must learn. They must learn the reality of the political mind."

A very succinct read in Tikkun.
If you want to see his appearance on CSpan's BookTV recently, go here.

WWJD-Be a Community Organizer

From Responsibilites of a Community Organizer
by Elana Wolowitz of Wellstone Action!

"Last week in Denver, Democrats highlighted the biography of their party's presidential nominee, Barack Obama, and the fact that he got his start as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

One interesting twist this election year has been the nation's exposure to community organizing as a job, and as something that might help prepare an individual to lead. It's not surprising that much of the country hadn't heard of community organizing before now. A good organizer is always in the back of the room, or better yet, outside collecting sign-in sheets.

However, last night here in our great hometown of St. Paul, Republicans gathered for their turn to make their case to voters. And Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, along with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, openly mocked and derided the job of community organizing."

She goes on to defend the professional field to which Wellstone Action trains people to devote their lives.


"Being an organizer means putting the needs of the community above yourself and your ego. Your task is to influence the powerful with little more than the common will, and do so while developing the leadership of those around you. A good organizer is always working to put themselves out of a job, because many others should be prepared to step up and take their place. You listen and learn, coordinate and plan, arrive early and stay late, and do the real work that improves people's lives.

It's easy to laugh at something unfamiliar, or mock something you don't understand. But community organizers have been the ones that moved our country forward during times of crisis and great change. They are ordinary people working to improve their communities - that doesn't sound very elitist, does it?"

From Levi Johnston's MySpace Page

This was just discovered this morning:
September 3, 2008

Levi Johnston's Convention Diary

Exclusive Blog from the Presumptive Vice Son-in-Law

Dear Dude,

There is some seriously WEIRD FUCKIN SHIT goin on up in here!!!

So I get off the plane in Minnesota and the first thing I know some creepy old dude who smells like my grandma is gettin up in my grille. I am totally goin to give him a righteous beat-down and then I see it's that John McCain dude from TV who's always approvin his fuckin message.

So I give him this look like, "Don't get in my face or I will SERIOUSLY fuck you up," and dude looks back at me like, "I've ate Viet Cong bigger than you for breakfast." So I like totally back off. Dude, if I'm gonna get fucked up no way am I gonna get fucked up by someone older than Larry King.

Things go from weird to fuckin WEIRD AS ALL SHIT as I get like the totally evil eye from Bristol's old man Todd who looks like he wants to shove an oil pipeline up my fuckin ass. Shit, I said I'd marry her, what the fuck is wrong with you, dude??? Back off or I'll fuck you up.

So I TOTALLY try to stay out of the way of Bristol's mom, who looks like she's gonna go medieval on my ass, like do me way worse than that trooper she got canned. For a minute I feel like I am TOTALLY GOING TO SHIT MYSELF, but than I think of thoughts to calm me down, like that time in middle school when I fucked that guy up who tried to fuck with me.

Dude, the one thing I don't like understand at all is why Bristol's mom even WANTS to be fuckin vice-president and all. Right now, being Governor of Alaska and shit, she could totally invade Russia if she wanted to. It's that fuckin close.

With all this crazy shit going on I didn't even like get a chance to talk to Bristol. I wanted to ask her how her summer was, shit like that, but every time I opened my mouth that McCain dude gave me another look like, "You say word one and I will rearrange your fuckin face you fuckin piece of hockey shit." So I don't say a fuckin thing.

Gotta go now. One thing's for sure, dude - when this week is over I am totally getting wasted!!!!!

Peace out,

L to the J

What A Friend We Have In Jesus!

I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA.

I love those hockey moms. You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
With that, the GOP strategy has been revealed. My friends, we moderates and liberals have been given a gift! Praise Jesus!
Believe it or not, they have chosen to re-run the 1988 election all over again, with John McCain serving as Bush the Elder, and Sarah Palin as the attack-dog Veep candidate, Dan Quayle.
Comparing herself to Harry Truman, Sarah Palin launched a mean spirited, red meat attack on Barack Obama.
Quayle compared himself regularly to JFK, thus setting the stage for one of the most memorable lines in American political history, delivered by Lloyd Bentsen.
Palin last night: "But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate."
Quayle in 1988: "Want to hear a sad story about the Dukakis campaign? The governor of Massachusetts, he lost his top naval advisor last week. His rubber ducky drowned in the bathtub."
Palin was chosen in large part because she's young and attractive and John McCain's "soulmate" (his words).
Dan Quayle was chosen in large part because he was young and attractive and "Bush, it seemed, had looked in the mirror and found what was most needed in the second-banana role that he had played for eight years: a younger version of himself."
Now, in the past I have made comparisons between Barack Obama and Michael Dukakis. Both are competent legislators/administrators. oth come off as emotionless, bloodless drones.
It is, however, a mistake to re-run the campaign that Lee Atwater ran in 1988. For one thing, the economy in 1988, while souring, was not in the tanks the way the economy is today. We did not suffer from a major overseas threat, the Soviet Union having dissolved. Indeed, we were wondering how to spend our "peace dividend".
And Barack Obama, while sharing some characteristics with Dukakis, is not Mike Dukakis, anymore than Dan Quayle was John Kennedy or Sarah Palin is Harry Truman.
Some have called the treatment of Sarah Palin sexist. But it's not any more sexist to ridicule the ridiculous in a dress than it was to ridicule the ridiculous in a suit. The Palin/Quayle parallels are eerie.
For one thing, you might recall the name Paula Parkinson. It was alleged that she and Dan Quayle bumped uglies on a golf outing to Florida, where she admitted that she had, um, unduly influenced the social intercourse of the Congressmen on that trip.
Apparently, Mrs. Palin too has her indiscretions, according the National Enquirer, the go-to source for the GOP smear machine.  
The clear strategy for Obama is simply not to run the same race as Mike Dukakis, something I think he can clearly accomplish. He has far more charisma than Dukakis and a better sense of humour, for two things. More important, he's clearly a smart enough politician to learn from the past.
Something Karl Rove and his minions are not.
So this will play out in the following manner:
Sarah Palin will energize the base of the Republican party, this is true and this is her ONLY reason for being on the ticket. Expect many many more attacks from her, ranging from the obvious (Rezko) to the idiotic (a governor of Alaska teasing the Democratic candidate about visiting his grandmother in the "exotic" state of Hawaii). She will feed them red meat, and assholes like Michelle Malkin and her orc minion ilk will eat it up.
She will also, however, end up energizing the Democratic base as well. She will anger women, but also anger men as well. She will be perceived as a lightweight airhead who once she is taken off-script can't talk her way out of a paper bag with a knife in her hand.
Obama, on the other hand, will continue utilizing the gifts he has been given-- eight years of Bush and a smart political team behind him-- and dismantle McCain/Palin on the issues. A bonus at Obama's level is McCain's irascible temper. Combine Palin's aggressiveness and McCain's defensiveness, and you have inarguably the worst ticket ever to run for office, and I include the irritable Bob Dole and the sarcastic Jack Kemp! 
Biden will, however, emulate Lloyd Bentsen and remain statesman-like (remember, he was picked to offset some of the inexperience of Obama, which means he will have to keep whatever prickliness he may be tempted to let loose with in check), and occasionally, he will have to pat Palin on the head and say "there, there, dear, you are no Harry Truman".
Now, let's get to work on taking Congress back completely!
By the way, if Sarah Palin is as aggressive and protective as a pitbull, how come her daughter's pregnant?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How McCain Could Win

The news of Sarah Palin's, um, colorful family life has certainly made liberals scratch their heads, wondering how John McCain could possibly hope to win the election in November.

Granted, it seems like, one right after the other, story upon story is released that puts a major damper on the enthusiasm you might expect the Republicans to have regarding a breakthrough nominee.

While this is like a candy store full of goodies for Democrats, The Republicans do not appear to be too nonplussed by it all. Brave front? Perhaps.

I thought I'd sit down and do some political calculations in my head and see if, indeed, John McCain could still win the election. Now, I make no allowance here for extraordinary events, like an October surprise in either the Rezko trial or in the Alaskan investigation regarding whether Palin was illegally overzealous in pursuing the firing of her former brother-in-law, State Trooper Michael Wooten. This analysis is based on the status quo and is strictly an exercise in numbers, not strategy.

The electorate can be divided pretty neatly into three groups: 40% Republicans and conservatives, 40% liberals and Democrats, and 20% unsure/undecided/truly independent.

The middle sixty percent is where elections are battled, with each side almost conceding at least a third to the other (i.e. each side can count on 40% of the vote, plus).

Even in the worst defeat in electoral history, 1984's re-election of Ronald Reagan, Walter Mondale pulled in the bare minimum 40% of the popular vote. I don't think McCain is in any danger of underwhelming that many people.

So they each start with at least 40% in the bank, meaning the middle twenty is the battleground. Indeed, Obama actually started a bit behind after the primary season, given the split in the party, since healed, between Clinton voters and Obombers.

Current polling suggests that Barack Obama should end the week somewhere north of 50% of likely voters. He did get a bit of a bounce coming out of Denver, but the real bounce occured shortly after Palin's revelations (pun intended) became news.

It is not often that a candidate gets a bounce during the other guy's convention! This despite the fact that Obama has stayed rather conspicuously in the background, as candidates traditionally do, coming forward only to deny that his campaign was behind the leak of the Palin unauthorized biographical information and to urge supporters to stay out of the Palins' private lives.

Unlike McCain, who tried hard to make the news daily during the Denver convention. But I digress.

It seems unlikely that McCain can win the election, to be sure, but here's how it could break for him.

All he really needs to do is keep it close until October, I think. He'll get a bounce (I'm guessing about three points) by Friday, much of which is coming from the seven or eight percent still undecided, and a few people shifting from Obama.

Scaring people, which is tonight's theme, can create irrational decision making.

So let's say Obama leads on Friday, 49-46. McCain cannot afford to lose much more ground. Period.

In addition to this, he will have to consider the electoral vote calculation. Pennsylvania is in play, thanks to Obama's hurtful comments regarding guns and religion. Biden helps him a little there, but possibly not enough. Ohio, too, is in play but that was a given anyway.

Rasmussen Reports, hardly an unbiased source, although they at least make a stab at reality, indicates that the electoral college tally right now stands at McCain 183, Obama 193, with 162 up for grabs or at least leaning.

These further break down this way:

Safe Republican 62

Likely Republican 121

Leans Republican 64

Toss-Up 27

Leans Democrat 71

Likely Democrat 50

Safe Democrat 143

Or 264 Obama, 247 McCain, with Obama needing just 5 more votes.

The states considered toss ups are Virginia (13 votes), Colorado (9), and Nevada (5), all carried by Bush in 2004. Hillary Clinton took Nevada surprisingly easily. Obama did extremely well against Clinton in Colorado and Virginia, both of which have skewed more Democratic over the past two election cycles.

That bodes well for Obama, but here's the mix: in the "Leans Democrat" are the following states: Iowa (7), Michigan (17), New Hampshire (4), New Mexico (5), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (21), Wisconsin (10).

Of those seven states in 2004, Bush carried in Iowa (surprisingly, given that this state put Obama on the map) and New Mexico. Of the states that currently lean Republican-- Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Maryland Montana, and North Dakota-- Kerry carried none.

In other words, allowing for Iowa and New Mexico, the current calculus is more like Obama 252, McCain 259. This is, um, not good news. McCain has gained on Obama since the Democratic convention in Iowa, although the New Mexico lead for Obama remains solid. So let's back out New Mexico's five votes. Obama 257, McCain 254.

That's just too damned close to call this for Obama!

If McCain can hold onto the states currently at least leaning his way, and recapture Iowa, then the election will basically come down to Virginia. I suspect Nevada is less in play than pollsters think (again, that "guns" thing comes into play). Obama does well in the urban and college towns, but if you look at the primary map, the counties that Clinton took west of the Shenandoah are largely Republican.

This is not good news for Obama. Again, guns and religion. Working class folks. Obama will have to make the case over the next months that he's not the scary liberal black man that the Republicans will paint him as, that he's an average American, at least as average as Sarah Palin, with an interesting life story and a rugged upbringing. He has to show he learned something, some common sense.

If he can do that, he will win the election, but it will not be the landslide many are predicting.

UPDATE: I feel icky, violated: Hugh Hugetits linked to this post.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Uh Oh, McCain Palin In Comparison!

Obama cracks 50% for the first time

So I'm guessing people were a bit turned off by the whore-raising, gun-toting, aborting-by-plane mother of five that McCain chose to run with?

GOP Im-Palin Itself

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas, as they say:

A series of disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain's choice as running mate, called into question on Monday how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background before putting her on the Republican presidential ticket.

On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state's public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.

Some family values, eh? But this is the culmination of the paternalistic politics of the Republican party, the denouement of the Daddy State. Lecture, harangue, harass, moralize, genderfy about values, and ultimately, even the top of your ticket is going to be smeared by the same human behaviors you've accused the rest of the know, them?...of self-indulging in.

I'm not here to judge Bristol Palin. I feel nothing but sadness for her, as I would for any single woman at the beginning of her life faced with this choice, particularly one for whom abortion could never be an option. Bristol will never be able to follow in her mother's footsteps. She will never be a contender for Miss Alaska. She will marry a man-- who also earns my pity, since his life and his future is now over so long as his mother-in-law is a political presence-- who is barely old enough to fight in Iraq (makes you wonder, in fact, why he's not there already. At eighteen, why is he still in high school?). Yes, they will both be taken care of. Mommy's on the big stage now, and the limelight splatters onto the rest of her tribe.

None of them will ever go hungry again, so long as the lecture circuit and book deals from Regnery Press abound.

But the chance that Bristol might extend an already impressive family name are zilch now. We make choices, and in making choices, we make mistakes. I grieve her mistakes with her. I'm pretty sure she's not happy about what has happened.

I am, however, free to judge Sarah Palin. On these two scores alone, her daughter's promiscuity as well as the attempt to fire a public servant out of a spiteful vendetta from a family matter, she falls far short of the Republican ideal of morality and humility.

Well, actually, on that last point, she's probably in lockstep, but I digress.

It is ironic that the public outcry from the right wing, particularly from the McCain camp itself, has been one of tolerance, praising the decision to keep the baby, of letting a politician's private life be her private life, of keeping the children out of this. On that last point, I concur, but...

The internal inconsistency of that statement-- a public official hiding behind the privacy shield, while a) denying it to women who might choose abortion and b) utilizing her very public resources to hound a man who is in a private dispute with a member of her family-- is astoundingly cynical, to say the least.

And yet, the word will go forth about the party of values, the party that just a year ago excoriated Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney's younger sister, for getting pregnant at sixteen. Somehow, they manage to twist their heads 360 degrees on this story about Bristol Palin.

I think this sums up Mickey Malkin's post:

Monday, September 01, 2008


Take a look around you, no matter where you are. What do you see?

Pick up your keyboard and look at it. Take a sip from your cup. Retie your shoelaces (or if you're a conservative troll reading this, adjust the velcro).

Someone made those.

Today is Labor Day. Today we were supposed to be celebrating the men and women who riveted and bolted and inserted tab A into slot B, who built this country. Instead, we drive over to a friend's house to eat some barbecue, drink some beer and maybe watch a ballgame.

The United States of America grew on the backs of these people: the plumbers, the carpenters, the road pavers, the steelworkers, and yes, the slaves. We owe them all a debt of gratitude that is immeasurable. Too often, we forget this. We pay lip service to the working classes, but we don't really understand what is involved in doing their jobs. We only know that, when the furnace breaks, some guy in dirty overalls shows up and tracks soot through our basement to turn our hot water back on.

We forget that we have "advanced" to such a degree that we couldn't even begin to do what takes them twenty minutes, billable hours. We simply dial a telephone, they show up, and things are right again after a couple of hundred dollars. We make no investment in the actual work. Hell, most of don't even bother to watch to see how its done.

We spend the rest of the year insulting them, making jokes about plumbers' butt cracks. We deny them their true voice in society because many of them are too tired to sit down at a computer, if they own one, and express their opinions. We'll complain about how much they charge for fixing our car, but then drive to the stadium to watch guys who make in an hour what a bricklayer makes in a year play a game.

Every four years or so, we trot out at least one candidate who tries to speak for "them", the faceless nameless mass of "the working class". This year it was John Edwards and then Hillary Clinton. Why? Because these people consider it a duty to vote, despite their exhaustion, despite the lung diseases they've contracted mining our coal, despite the crippling arthritis of working too many hours bent over a sewing machine, stitching our shirts.

Republicans speak to the working class about things they understand: God & guns. Liberals and Democrats speak of things in the abstract: programs & plans. Is it any wonder why they usually vote Republican?

Since 1960, only four Democrats have won the Presidency: JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. One of them, LBJ, won in a "gimme" the year after Kennedy was assassinated. The other three all won because they convinced voters that they were men of God. They spoke the lingo, at length, of religion, the type of religion that fills the Baptist or Methodist church in that small town you zip by on the freeway.

The guys who milk cows? They understood these men. All of them had "the common touch," a left-handed compliment if I've ever heard one, as if it's beneath most politicians.

Maybe it is. Maybe it's beneath the rest of us, as well, as we sit in our living rooms, dorms, and dens, sipping lattes and reading this pathetic little slice of the Internets.

But it's not beneath the sewer workers or the fire fighters or the cops! And they count, dammit!

My dad was a carpenter. He was union, and I benefitted from the only affirmative action that should matter: the affirmative action of a group of workers banding together to get their fair share from an employer. And what was the first thing the conservatives attacked once they wrested power in the 1980s?


My dad built schools in the city. He was often lead foreman on one project, and then sub-foreman on the next, but that was after twenty years sweating and bloodying himself laboring on projects where his name might appear in small type on a plaque in the lobby, and that would be the only acknowledgment he would get.

When I went to a new school, I made sure to check the plaque. Sometimes my dad's name would be on it, and I'd point it out to my teacher or the principal. Sometimes, it would be some other man's name (yes, sadly, a man's name only), that I'd recognize. I'd tell my dad when I got home. Sometimes he would tell me stories about the man or the job site if it was his.

I remember one summer going to one of my dad's sites as a Cub Scout, and standing on the steel structure, looking at the magnificent view from three stories up in Queens. Fast forward thirty years, and taking my daughter for her first day of school at this same building.

And smiling.

That house you live in? Somebody built it. The car you drive? Someone built that, too. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the TV you watch, the toys your kids play with, someone worked too many hours way too hard under the supervision of a company that was only interested in the bottom line, who insisted "more".

And in your wildest dreams, in your most egomaniacal fantasy of power, you could not begin to duplicate what you now possess, using your own two hands.

John Edwards was right. There are "Two Americas". There's our America, and there's the workers' America.

Hillary Clinton was right. We owe these people more than lip service every four years and then a fumbling review afterwards as to why they voted "against their pocketbooks."

We owe them our lives. It's about time we started paying them back.