Friday, October 29, 2010

Here We Go Again. Liz Cheney, Please, Shut Up

Here we go again. Even before President Obama speaks regarding the bombs shipped out of Yemen that were detected prior to arriving in this country and the actions taken to verify the safety of other packages originating from Yemen and Dubai, Liz Cheney has to inject herself into the conversation.

Cheney is a self-appointed foreign affairs expert, believing that because her father was vice-president, she somehow knows more about the dangers that we face than anyone else, particularly our current president. She is identified during her appearances on Fox News as a previous State Department official (mid-level administrative position prior to the Bush administration, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State during in a position made specifically for her). Just as an aside, I have written several times about Liz, and used Wikipedia to check a few dates, etc. The difference in the information about her from today to the last time I checked is like night and day, something we all need to remember when using Wikipedia as a source: it is self-editable. Reading it today one would wonder why she is not immediately called back to the State Department to solve all of our countries foreign affairs issues. I bet she did a little editing of her page.

Appearing today on Fox's "America Live," this clip from Media Matters shows Cheney explaining  why the incident today proves why we have to stay in Afghanistan saying:
" see at a time like this how important, for example, intelligence important it is for us to make sure that we've empowered our own intelligence community and that we're working closely with our disrupt plots before they do in fact come to fruition..."
Discussing the necessity of maintaining the war in Afghanistan and not setting arbitrary deadlines (like the one Bush set for Iraq?), she said:
"...and while people here are concerned about the economy and about jobs, it certainly does not change the nature of the threat, the fact remains that we remain a nation at war."
Stop and think about this for a minute. "How important intelligence important it is to empower our intelligence community..."

Did the Bush White House ever make a decision that was not political? I believe it was that administration that had the opportunity to capture Osama bin Laden at Bora Bora and completely decimate al Qaeda but they chose instead to leave before the job was done, and attack Iraq, a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. We didn't know that at the time you say? I did. Many people did. The fact that the only information regarding possible evidence of weapons of mass destruction (the supposed reason for our starting the war) was debunked prior to Bush's final decision was not widely reported, but it was reported. Bush and Cheney chose to ignore it. In fact, there is evidence that Dick Cheney pressured the intelligence community to manipulate the data to support the conclusions that he preferred.

Empower our intelligence community? Is that what you call identifying an undercover operative assigned to middle eastern affairs to the media? Putting the lives of her contacts at risk in so doing?

Why is she complaining today that we need to work closely with our allies? We were alerted that two packages were being sent to synagogues in Chicago, and they were intercepted in Dubai and Britain. They never reached U.S. shores, and all other packages sent from Yemen and Dubai were examined prior to their release for delivery. That obviously required a lot of coordination and cooperation with our allies and intelligence community.

She obviously is not concerned about the economy or the fact that her father enabled policies that sent jobs overseas, resulting in the high unemployment we have today. Haliburton, Daddy's previous employer and the author of a significant portion of our energy legislation (and the lucky winner of billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq) is directly responsible for the loss of thousands of jobs in the Gulf region of the U.S. as it's defective materials built the defective oil rigs that have destroyed not only jobs, but ecosystems.

Yes, we are a nation at war. One of the two wars that we wage was completely unnecessary. The climate of fear and hate bred by the GOP has ensured that the war continues as we damage what little goodwill remains in the world towards us, and continues to provide al Qaeda with limitless recruitment materials. What Liz is doing is demanding that the administration take actions that are being taken. She implies that President Obama is soft on terrorists and because we successfully prevented bombs from arriving in this country, we must continue the war in Afghanistan (?), she gets herself on the tv machine and once again, injects herself into a situation that allows her to promote her organization and agenda.

Liz, go home. You are a bitter and ignorant woman. Your father was responsible for most of what is wrong with this country today and your belief that you somehow have all the answers is breathtakingly egotistical.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teabags: Don't Confuse Me With the Facts


Things are heating up. The ads are getting nastier and the lies thicker. I'm seriously considering following my sister's example and de-friending about half my family on my Facebook page as they are very conservative Christians, fans of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, and this past week, my cousin (from Washington), joined the "I Like Meg Whitman" group. Facebook to me is social, not political, and I am usually able to ignore the comments and video clips (and most of that side of the family), keeping them around because there are times when, as family, we need to communicate. What I hear from them, and the right-wing pundits, and the right-wing blogs, and many of the "neutral" mainstream media, is that the teabags, who appear to have a real chance of taking over at least one house of Congress, claim to want to cut regulations, overturn health care reform, reduce taxes, and take us back to the Constitution the way it was supposed to be, the original.

The politicians and pundits know they're lying. It's possible that some of them believe their own press because it's the only way they can behave the way they do, but for most, it's a matter of expediency and money.

President Bush's administration produced two solutions to the economic downturn; TARP, and the stimulus bill. Additionally, when the auto industry was failing after the election, Bush asked that President-elect Obama pursue a solution as it would have to be carried out under his leadership. Although millions are still out of work and the foreclosure problem is still huge, the job numbers are better than a year ago, the auto industry is actually making a profit, has re-hired many of its workers (1500 about a couple of weeks ago), the DOW is almost back to where it was pre-downturn, everywhere I turn I see "this project paid for by stimulus funds" signs, and job growth numbers already exceed those of Bush's entire two terms. In fact, more jobs were created in the private sector in the first eight months of the Obama Administration than in the entire Bush presidency, and they want to go back to those policies?

There is really no way to compare a president who arrives with a $200 billion dollar surplus and leaves with us with a $407 billion deficit eight years later.

The next time someone says it's all about jobs, jobs, jobs, perhaps you could refer them to the famous "bikini" graph courtesy of Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly:

As you can see, job growth was negative the entire duration of the Bush presidency. The trend continued downward the first quarter after Obama came into office until it's first positive growth in Dec. 2009. Obviously, it takes time, but except for one dip, growth has been slow, but measured.

To continue on this comparison of Republican administrations and policies to those of Democratic presidents, below is a quick chart going back to Truman showing the rate of job growth.

Graph: KyraMoment
Obviously, I made the Democrats blue and Republicans red. I am not going to go into a discussion of private vs. public sector jobs, small businesses vs. large, the job loss to job growth numbers by sector and the net growth. This graph took about ten minutes to create using numbers easily available with a Google search so anyone can fact-check me if they want.

We also hear that it's taxes. President Obama gave us a tax cut by reducing withholding rather than sending out checks. The latter would have been a better political option, but the small, incremental increase in available cash was better for the economy overall, thus few people know about it. Very few understand that last year we paid the lowest taxes in 60 years. So, if it is in fact about taxes, then obviously they will want to vote Democratic.

We hear over and over again that we have to do something about the deficit, created by Obama (not). Had President Bush written the budgets properly and not ignored the costs of war, the country would have been aware of our debt much sooner. The fastest way to send us into a real depression, is to try to bring down the deficit. When people are working, goods and services are moving through the economy and the associated taxes arriving at the appropriate local, state, or federal tax agency, then the deficit will begin to come down on its own.

Additionally, government's function is to spend money. As an unemployed social services worker, I know that after 20 years of budget cuts, there is very little waste left in government (except perhaps military spending). In California, state employees are on mandatory furlough each month because our constitution requires a balanced budget. The best way for the deficit to be reduced, is for the government to collect taxes and spend them. Unlike the top 5% of our citizens who have millions and billions of dollars tucked away, the government does not keep its money. It spends it. Money spent moves into the economy. Government hires workers, and purchases supplies, and makes capital purchases. Government spends money on infrastructure, which puts money into the economy through employment of private contractors and materials.

People are upset because they don't have money to spend so don't want their taxes raised, but that is a completely disingenuous argument. If you don't earn, you don't pay taxes. If you elect teabags or other Republicans and they get their way, we'll have a national sales tax instead of an income tax. This benefits the wealthy (poorer people tend to spend all of their income, the wealthy generally do not). The poorer you are, the more likely that you will spend every dime that you earn. If income taxes were abolished in favor of a national sales tax, people who currently pay no income tax, and a sales tax of perhaps 8.5%, will have to pay about 23% in sales taxes every time they spend if the likes of Rand Paul and his ilk have their way.

People say they know best what to do with their money, but government provides the social safety net, the social contract we make with each other. We pay taxes to cover these costs, pay for the poor and needy knowing that should we ever be in need, those services will be there for us. A teabag on "The Last Word" suggested that if the government did not return social security withholding to him, it would be stealing. Perhaps they would prefer a bill for defense, border control. the electric grid, other infrastructure, air traffic control, etc. I noticed that they all wanted to move programs to state control, which means that state level socialism is fine, just not federal. hmmm.

When people talk about the government's overreach and want less regulation, I have to ask, which regulations? Food safety? Air traffic control? The FDA? EPA? CDC? Some talk about doing away with the Dept. of Education, believing home schooling is the thing, or at least local standards, but what a disservice we do to those children as they try to compete in a national marketplace. When they try to attend college, they'll be severely limited. If they attend, for example, Oral Roberts U, they will be limited in their job search. Personally, I'm glad that someone is out there making sure that my food is safe, my  medications are consistently made, and that when I fly, someone is keeping track.

I've spent hours over the past few days speaking with ultra right-wing family members and like many teabags, cannot get rational answers to simple questions. I give them data as I've listed above, and they argue, saying it's my opinion. I refer them to Dept. of Labor websites, they hem and haw. Tonight on "The Last Word," Lawrence O'Donnell had representatives of four teabag organizations. They all agreed that socialism was the biggest concern of their movements. (I always heard, at least at the beginning) that it was taxes. Oh well. It's obviously whatever is expedient at the moment. Anyway, it was immediately apparent and reinforced through O'Donnell's questioning that not one of them understood what socialism is. While talking to a cousin, she used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably, repeated the myths about Canadian-style health care, and reinforced my opinion that a party and group of parties that can love a book called by the oxymoronic "Liberal Fascism," is too stupid for the courtesy of debate.

The problem? These ignorant people will likely win enough seats to push this country over the edge into disaster, destroy the small strides President Obama has made towards restoring our good name, and take the rest of us along for the ride. The next time someone proposes de-regulation, or to repeal health care reform, ask them to define their terms. Define which regulation, which aspect of health care. I would bet that not one of them can be specific. None of the candidates are, so it is unlikely that their followers could be either.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Ignorance Chic & Some Fact-Based History

IMAGE: Trever, Albuquerque Journal
I've always had mixed feelings about columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, believing that some times she was spot on, at others that she was so far out in the ozone that I wondered how she kept such prime real estate in the Times. Of course, anyone that writes regularly hopefully generates similar emotions in their readers as even negative reactions are a sign that there is some depth and energy to what is written. Her most recent column illustrates very well the problem with the current teabag belief in the need to be "just like you" and the reality of the history of our country.

In the Oct. 19, 2010 issue of the Times, Dowd writes of the change in our society as we seem to appreciate ignorance over education. Using Marilyn Monroe as an example, the comparison to Sarah Palin and other teabags is made, noting of Sarah Palin that:
"She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you."
As Dowd notes, Marilyn was an intelligent woman posing as a dumb blond while reading Dostoyevsky and Proust (Russian and French authors respectively). She suffered from a disconnect between her public and private self, caused by a deeply self-reflective personality that she tried to self-medicate leading, ultimately, to her death.

I agree with Dowd that teabags, particularly Sarah Palin, trumpet their ignorance, a bizarre behavior for a woman constantly talking about "American exceptionalism." As I watch these people in action, Palin complains that Obama refuses to acknowledge this exceptionalism as he "kowtows" to foreign leaders. I am constantly puzzled at someone who is so proud of her ignorance yet demands that we maintain this position as the world leader and as we are, she says, better than anyone else. Never mind that it is exactly this attitude that adds to the negative image of America that we have enjoyed since Watergate days.

IMAGE: Dhonig,
Exceptionalism requires that we be exceptional. We cannot just say it, we need to be it. Just as the teabags seem unable to define their proposed agenda, other than to decimate the Constitution, they are also seemingly unable to define just what are the factors that are important to them that make us exceptional. Palin et al sneer at "elites" which includes anyone from an ivy league school (except Joe Miller), disregarding the fact that President Obama is a classic example of the American dream. He may have attended an elite school, but it is our life in total - particularly the early days - that shapes our character and defines who we are.

I'm not sure how we have come to the point where ignorance is embraced and someone who is "just like you" is our best choice for high office. Certainly our government is designed on a foundation of citizen politicians, but I doubt that the current teabags understand that the citizen representatives in the days they claim to want to return to were not "just like you." People who were able to travel to Washington to serve in Congress were not ignorant. Education was valued and people who had the privilege of learning studied philosophy and literature, science as it was known at the time, and maintained a close connection with their European counterparts. Ignorance was not a value prized by the Founders.

In a time when only white, landowning men could run for office, sons were tutored at home, typically studying, in addition to math and reading and writing, science, Greek, Latin, geography, and history. Even this list is incomplete. In addition to this daylong, thorough education, boys frequently attended boarding school in England, and after completion, often trained as doctors or lawyers prior to returning to America to run their estates. Even then, there was an understanding of the complexity of our world, and the complexity of a democracy made up of a society that included people from varied backgrounds learning to come together. A reading of any early document shows clearly that education was highly valued by our founders. Just the complexity of the language used and the knowledge of law, philosophy, and history are clearly illustrated in the development of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I understand the disconnect that many people feel during these difficult times when those in Washington seem more and more enclosed in a bubble. When one has lost a job, a home, or is at risk of those losses, when you watch your neighbors experiencing the same, and all around you your world is changing in a direction that frightens you, it is easy to allow yourself to be manipulated by others who claim to have all the answers. We tend to believe people who are like us, so teabag candidates bend over backward trying to demonstrate how like "the people" they are. The phenomenal GOP public relations efforts of the past 40 years has done an excellent job of creating sound bites and buzzwords that appeal to our instant information culture. Conditioned to absorb information in 30-second ads and to understand an entire story in 46-minutes, people who are afraid are vulnerable to others with no moral compass. An attractive, charismatic women such as Sarah Palin turns her lack of intelligence, her ignorance, and her moral  vacuum into a positive as she appeals to peoples' fears.

As Dowd said, back then, it "was cool to be smart." I believe that our Democratic leadership needs to come our of their bubble and understand that the teabags and others in the GOP have filled this need for reassurance in our country by taking the social problems in our country and making them positive campaign talking points, a truly remarkable feat.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.
The History of Education in America
Education in the Thirteen Colonies
American Education

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Palin, Angle, Paul, Miller, & O'Donnell - What Do They Say About Us?

 IMAGE: Hebiclens Clown Collage/Mashup BoingBoing

Today's teabags are righteously indignant that the Democrats and bloggers and any journalist not on Fox is being mean. It is outrageous that anyone should expect them to open up their private lives or backgrounds to inspection and question their right to cast slurs and aspersions on their campaign opponents. They are so steadfast in their beliefs (although I have my doubts about that), that they think it is perfectly acceptable to override the will of the majority of the people and impose their narrow-minded, rigid ideologies on everyone else. Refusing to participate in the electoral process other than to demand that we just trust them, I am having a hard time understanding why they have so much support, or wonder if they really do. They refuse to talk to any but a select few in the media, and then only answer previously vetted questions. What do they say about us?

So my question is, why is this acceptable? They all campaign on their history, yet refuse to discuss it. They all campaign on their values, but refuse to share them unless you are an upper- or middle-class white person with a job, in which case they don't need to. Sarcasm, slurs, and put downs raise chuckles and they all think they're pretty cute, but only succeed in making this country look foolish, and even more so if they are actually elected.

Sarah Palin, when asked a perfectly reasonable (and common) question about where she gets her information immediately takes offense and sees it as an attempt to make her look like an uneducated hick (please refer to my earlier writings on projection). She attacks Michelle Obama for something said over two years ago, and misrepresents it at that.

Sarah Palin also complained a few days before the 2008 election that the media were attacking her and that they were violating her 1st Amendment rights, which were there to protect her from the media.

Sharon Angle says she will talk only to media who will ask her the questions that allow her to give out only the information she wants to give out and who will allow her to ask for contributions.

She also said, while speaking to a high school Latino club, that they didn't all look Hispanic, that some looked Asian.

IMAGE: Crooks & Liars

Rand Paul said he wasn't sure he would debate against someone who attacked his religion, and attacked his opponent for bringing up something that happened 30 years ago (although you will note, he did not deny the event). Interesting though that when Clinton came to campaign in Kentucky, Paul was comfortable bringing up Monica Lewinsky, something with great relevance to this election, especially as it happened so recently.

Joe Miller says he will no longer answer questions about his past or his personal life. [Although he did just admit to committing ethics violations.]

Each day brings up new information reaffirming the idea that Miller is about as ethical as other nationally prominent Alaska politicians. Today, a close examination of his (many, many months late) campaign disclosure forms show that he paid himself rent on office space that he owned (legal) that was up to four times what it was actually worth and paid himself a salary that was less than $10,000 (something that the IRS frowns on). Why is that a problem? He pays income tax on all income, but payroll tax only on salary. Pretty tricky accounting.

In a debate with Chris Coons, Christine O'Donnell appears shocked that the separation of church and state is a part of the 1st Amendment. Trying to walk back her gaffe, she and other GOPher apologists claim that she was correct because the exact wording "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution and that it was Coons who appeared ignorant because he could not name the five freedoms listed in the 1st Amendment as if that were the point of the exchange.


Sarah Palin recycles slurs and attacks from the 2008 campaign and complains about what she perceives as insults to her from that campaign in every speech and interview that she gives. If anyone has done anything recently to offend her, apparently her rage at President Obama's nerve at winning the election overrides that fact. It's too bad that it wasn't Todd Palin interested in politics as I believe that Sarah Palin would far prefer being First Lady than President. She has demonstrated an inability to actually perform work, a lack of intellectual curiosity (favored reading material OK Magazine? Favorite television show Bridezilla?), and rather than try to learn and understand complex issues facing our nation today, she becomes defensive when asked questions for which she has no answer. Her continued reference to having a "title" rather than holding an office suggest a fascination with her beauty pageant days that holds more interest than it probably should.

Sarah Palin gets (to her) ideas from one-note entertainers on Fox News, believing they hold great insight into governance, and disparages education, believing that ignorance is suggestive of "real" people regardless of the complexities involved in being a leader. To suggest that being on the city council and the mayor of a town of approximately 5,000 (and doing so badly), and then serving for one year on Alaska's Oil & Gas Commission (does anyone have any record of what she actually accomplished in that capacity? Meeting minutes maybe?), and two failed political campaigns as commensurate with serving three terms in the State Senate and then the United States Senate is on par with something a high school student might say prior to taking their required US Civ class.

Sharon Angle is a comical figure and I am amazed that she is in such a close race. Nevada reporter John Ralston said yesterday that her position in the race has nothing to do with her, but the state's displeasure with Harry Reid. Hopefully they'll wake up soon to what an Angle win will really mean. She claims God as her guide, yet displays herself as a mean, bitter woman willing to lie to get her own way. She is somehow of the opinion that hers is the only opinion that matters - a common failing of teabags and Republicans everywhere. A majority of the country decided that they didn't like the policies of the Republicans so voted them out. The willingness of the GOPhers to lie, manipulate, and ignore the needs of their constituents has created an environment that allowed a small minority to shout so loudly that the national media, also responding to their corporate masters, manipulate the news to suggest that most of the country is dissatisfied with the direction of the new administration.

Rand Paul has the thinnest skin I have seen on a politician and I thought no one could top Sarah Palin. After his debate with Conway, he sounded like the little boy crying that he was going to take his ball and go home because someone was mean to him. That's what politics is. It's dirty and it's nasty. The people decide how much they're willing to put up with and politicians ignore them at their peril, although with a newly activist Supreme Court determined to legislate from the bench, we now have a government that will be determined by whomever has the most money and therefore the loudest voice. To say that politicians such as Paul feel comfortable saying some of the outrageous things that he does is truly remarkable yet bizarre that he can't take any of the heat.

Probably the most ludicrous figure of this election season is Christine O'Donnell. Each time I think I can't hear anything worse, I hear something worse. It's not just the bizarre statements, but her lack of self-awareness to understand how she is being perceived. During the debate with Coons in which she demonstrated her lack of understanding of the Constitution, she thought the audience was laughing with her, at Coons (they weren't). Every time I hear her, she seems a step off and I wonder that her followers don't see it (of course, why they can't see the other teabags either I can't fathom). Today in Michelle Malkin's blog (no, I won't link), she claims that it is Coons who does not understand the Constitution.

While debating at a law school, O'Donnell went on and on about her superior knowledge of the Constitution, yet when asked by the moderator about the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments, she had to ask what each of them was about because she didn't have her copy of the Constitution with her. First of all, one principal planks of the teabag movement is the Constitution and she is appearing at a law school. O'Donnell has, repeatedly, claimed her superior knowledge of application of the Constitution. Wouldn't you think that she would bone up on the three amendments that are at the core of the teabag movement or at least bring her copy of the Constitution with her? Or write it on her hand? 14th (immigration), 16th (income tax), 17th (senate). Easy, should fit on anyone's hand.

Forgetting, as they all do, that there is video all over the web, O'Donnell and her cohorts have tried to re-write the event. What they've done, is taken everything out of context, something they claim as a tactic of the left. Replying to a discussion of schools teaching creationism and intelligent design, Coons stated that it was a violation of the separation of church and state. O'Donnell replied that he just demonstrated his ignorance of the Constitution if he thought that it said that local school boards could not decide to teach anything they wanted to teach, and he then brought up the 1st Amendment. Within the context of the discussion, the exact phrasing and whether or not it appears in the document is a moot point. The whole debate was in a similar vein, with O'Donnell displaying her ignorance as she also displayed her rudeness talking over Coons attempts to answer not only the moderator's questions, but hers.

I haven't had much time to blog every day, but between now and the election I am going to try to write about each of the major components of the campaign. I know many teabags, and this election, am no longer able to remain silent when I hear people repeating outrageous claims that are easily disproved. People who are unwilling to listen to facts and insist on holding on to their beliefs because they like the person who says them or because the individual belongs to the correct religion or party is dangerous to this country and I for one, am not keeping quiet regardless of the personal consequences.

The fact that these, and other teabag races, are so close says as much about us as it does about them. A few years ago, these people would have gotten no traction. The media would have been all over the inconsistencies and when caught in the lies, these people would have been forced to drop out of their respective races. Many, if not all of them, probably do not believe half of what they say, but simply want either the attention, the adulation, or the money that they know they will receive once they reach national political office, and then retire. Doesn't say much about us does it?

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Liz Cheney, Please Go Away, & Sarah, The Tillmans Are Atheists, Don't Pray for Them

IMAGE: Unknown (numerous sources)

What is so remarkable, is that not only are people on the right ignorant of the true agenda of the Republican Party - that being to send as many jobs overseas as possible and reduce the costs of the jobs that remain here - but within two short years, they have forgotten everything that went on before. On CBS Face the Nation this morning during an exchange between Liz Cheney, Howard Dean, Lindsey Graham, and Bill Galston, Bob Schieffer asked each whether this election was a referendum on President Obama or a referendum on the economy. To paraphrase Liz, the president no longer gives "big vision speeches" because he somehow knows that we no longer want to go where he wants to lead. Lindsey Graham faced the camera and told us that people were scared and that "all this spending is not what people expected from this president." He says that two weeks before the election, most people are running against the "Obama takeover of most of society." He goes on to say that, "If he had governed like he had campaigned" there would be no problem (sure think Linds) and "This is an overreach." Graham says that this overreach includes health care, the stimulus, and regulation of Wall Street, as do many others campaigning from the right. Take a look at the video here.

First, why is Liz Cheney there? Are these men offended to have to sit and have these debates with her? Although, probably a lot less offended than Harry Reid is to have to debate Sharon Angle or Mike Castle having to appear on the tv machine with fruit-loop in training (medical terminology), Christine O'Donnell. Liz Cheney's total credentials to have these conversations is that her father was a politician. She is referenced as a "previous state department official," but she was a mid-level manager of a small unit. She had no diplomatic brief, foreign policy assignments, nor involvement in policy matters. Her position was administrative, and administrative at a mid-level only. Certainly as a citizen and one who has involved herself in politics, she has opinions and ideas as do all of us who maintain a deep involvement in world and national affairs, but to be given this level of credibility and gravitas is breathtaking. I expect it from Fox, but the networks? Anyway.

Back to the issues. "All of this spending." Hmmm. Would he be referring to TARP perhaps? Or perhaps the stimulus? Those two bills that had full Republican support? The ones that were watered down to meet Republican demands? The ones that were from the, horrors, Bush Administration? The ones that John McCain suspended his campaign so that he could run back to Washington and organize (of course with BFF Lindsey Graham)? Or maybe it's the fact that for the first time since George and Dick took us into a war of revenge and aggression, allowing our actual enemies to escape, President Obama included the cost of the war in the budget that he sent to Congress, something that Bush never did. To pay for the war, Bush pretended it did not exist, for budget purposes, and then paid for it through supplementals. Obama actually wrote a budget that reflected reality. Of course our deficits took a huge hit after that.

And what about health care you say? The one that Graham and others say Americans don't want? That Obama didn't run on? Not sure where you were Lindsey, but on Jan. 25, 2007, USA Today quoted Obama as saying that universal healthcare would be a "very major part of my campaign." If there is any disappointment about health care and voices saying they don't want it (apart from the teabags, all 11% of them according to a Sept. survey) it is from progressives and other Democrats disappointed that President Obama negotiated away universal health care and began the discussions so low, that the final product while better than nothing, is still far from what is needed.When people - even Republicans - are asked if they are even favor of the individual elements of the health care bill, they are universally in favor of them. It is just when they are asked about some over-arching "health care reform" or "Obamacare" that they fall back on talking point responses that they have been programmed with by Fox News. As far as spending, I note that no Republican (and unfortunately, very few Democrats) are campaigning on the money that we will save over time by this health care bill and the reduction in the total deficit in the past year. Nor are they comparing job growth numbers of the previous presidents (George W had the least of any president since WWII) and the difference between Democratic and Republican administrations when it came to actual job numbers.

My point? To quote Tip O'Neal, "You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts." People who insist on their own version of reality regardless of statistics, evidence, facts, or other demonstrations of reality are the ones living on a unicorn ranch in fantasy land. To expect everything to be fixed immediately is unrealistic and unfair. Unfortunately, they are trying to force the rest of us in the reality-based world to live there with them.


Sarah Palin, Praying is Offensive to an Atheist, & Really, 2008 Stuff? That's It? 

IMAGE: indiedesign

So here's the thing. Sarah Palin has twice this week referenced comments made by Michelle Obama during the 2008 campaign as if she made them last week, and taken them out of context. Whining that she has obviously not met a soldier if she is only now proud of being an American. Mrs. Obama has, several times, explained that she was referring to the excitement and numbers of young people turning out to vote and volunteer for the Obama campaign. If one didn't know better (and I would bet that most of Palin's bots don't), they would think that these are all things that have happened in the past week or two.

More sickening, in a speech in San Jose, Sarah brought up Pat Tillman since she was in his hometown. Assuming, as she does, that because he gave up a multi-million dollar football career to volunteer for the military, and died in Iraq, that he and his family would want us to thank God every day for his sacrifice for our freedom.

Does she think we're idiots (don't answer, of course she does - she thinks everyone is just like her). Pat Tillman may have thought he was going to fight for our freedom, but he did not. He went to stroke the egos of little men who were too cowardly to serve their country and were petrified after 9/11 and lashed out without thought. They then saw an opportunity to take us into a war they had been planning since the early 90's, and when Mr. Tillman was killed by friendly fire, lied to his family and to us and as usual, manipulated the news to create a climate that would allow them to continue their need to play war when they were too cowardly to be real soldiers. Every time Sarah Palin gives a speech, she brings up the military as if she has a little checklist to cover; God, check, military, check, lamestream media, check, pregnancy, check, Democrat Party, check.

As someone who has studied psychology, sociology, social psychology, and is a trained counselor, I have to say that I am fascinated watching this woman. People who speak in buzzwords and use slurs to demean their opponents say far more about themselves than they do about anyone else. Sarah Palin's use of the term Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party is juvenile, as is her use of the term lamestream media. She thinks it's cute or amusing to coin these catchphrases, hoping that they will be associated with her (they are) not realizing that there are catchphrases and then there are catchphrases. Ones that we might use in middle school come across far differently then ones we might coin as a grownup. All Sarah Palin does is succeed in demonstrating that her emotional and social maturity is locked at about age 13 (witness her use of the term title rather than office - it's her beauty queen mentality). Her history of holding grudges and ensuring that anyone who "crosses" her is made to pay (and really, what does that mean? Cross. In what world does everyone, all the time, agree? Just in Palin world).

Much of what she does and says is the result of losing the 2008 election (although she didn't actually lose. McCain did). She has a real, deeply held anger towards President Obama for his temerity at winning the election. What is extremely bizarre, is that she is in a never-ending spiral that I am still waiting for her bots to recognize. Tillman, a comment by Michelle Obama over two years ago, talking about reading material and "journalists who ask about it" refusing to name Katie Couric (anyone who asks a reasonable question is attacking her or playing gotcha). And really, does she not realize how offensive it is to ask everyone to pray for an atheist? Or to reference God in any way in relation to Pat Tillman's service or death?

And the other teabag candidates have a similar pattern. What is disappointing is that over and over again, whenever asked a question, a teabag candidate replies that it isn't about them, it is about their opponent. It's about the issues. The only problem? If it's about the opponent, shouldn't they be willing to let us know how they are different? If it's about the issues, shouldn't they be willing to let us know what they would do differently? Unfortunately, the media seems willing to let them get away with just about anything and too many of us are willing to go along.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another Chapter in Serial Stupidity - Jonah Goldberg, Serial Idiot on Elitism

Jonah Goldberg is such a rich source of material although I write about him infrequently as I hate to give him and his delusions too much importance. Making the leap from his so-called expertise on affirmative action and all things racial, Goldberg ties those beliefs to elitism.  He takes issue with progressive concern over the teabags' rage against the elites who, according to him, want to "boss us around." From Media Matters, Jonah is quoted as saying:
"To date, I've seen not one instance of Tea Partiers denouncing engineers, physicists, cardiologists, accountants, biologist, archeologists or a thousand other professions who've emerged from elite schools. Because those people aren't bossing anybody around."
In Tuesday's Washington Post, Anne Applebaum writes about the teabaggers' "anti-elite" rage. Applebaum illuminates the growing resentment of the Ivy-League educated by teabags by saying:
"...Nowadays, successful Americans, however ridiculously lucky they have been, often smugly see themselves as "deserving." Meanwhile, the less successful are more likely to feel it's their own fault -- or to feel that others feel it's their fault -- even if they have simply been unlucky..."
To paraphrase Applebaum's point, when Sarah Palin, Christine O'Donnell and others call people elitist, they are usually referring to people they don't like, don't agree with, and who don't agree with them. I would add that after all, Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller is a Harvard graduate --an education that is about the most elite possible-- and he would be nowhere without the backing of Sarah Palin. O'Donnell is in trouble partially because of her claims --false-- that she is a graduate of Columbia graduate school. So, fairly good evidence of the validity of Applebaum's claim if teabags feel the need to claim an ivy-league education, true or not.

A point that is brought out in Applebaum's piece, is that the American dream that we are all raised with is the same one that is held against many of those who today most exemplify that dream. We are taught that we can be anything we want, do anything we want, and that we are limited only by our willingness to work hard. Unfortunately, I believe that this dream has caused more harm than good over time as conversely, it tells us that if we do not succeed, that it is our own fault --something that as a sociologist I can say is often not true. Yet, here we have a president who is the embodiment of the American dream, the true rags to riches story, yet considered by the right to be the most elite of the elite.

In his quite derisive piece, Goldberg begins by setting a tone that attacks Applebaum personally before he even starts his analysis of her argument. Referencing a stand she took on an unrelated issue, he conflates the two to suggest that since she has a (to him) inappropriate belief in one area, it carries over to all of her opinions. Goldberg says that use of the term "ivy league" is code for elitism (good to know) and that progressives have it backwards when they see complaints about progressive goals as attacks against the ivy-league elite. Huh? Both Goldberg and Will Collier who he quotes in his update state that Applebaum is clearly biased (she is a Yale graduate) and that her thesis is that only those with an ivy-league education are intelligent. I must say that after reading her piece several times as I write this, I fail to come to that conclusion and believe me, one of the things you must learn in any college education (full disclosure, I went to a state university), is to discover the thesis behind any piece of writing.

Goldberg says:
"For Applebaum, the fact that the elite graduated from top-tier schools is all the proof she needs that these people deserve to be in charge. Indeed, Applebaum — without a moment’s pause to cite any evidence — insists that universities have diversified without dropping standards at all. (But I don’t want to have an argument about quotas and all that, because it’s a distraction from my real objection)."
Then don't bring them (quotas) up. I am so tired of the continuing belief that affirmative action included quotas. It did not. In fact, quotas were illegal. I wrote a thesis on affirmative action and feel somewhat qualified to speak to the right's deliberate misrepresentation of the purpose behind affirmative action and its policies, and the truly ridiculous notion that one generation or less was sufficient to redress the inequities of 300 years. Anyway. I'm not finding where she says that only the "fact" that the elite graduated from "top-tier" schools makes them deserving of being in charge. And, you shouldn't demand that others include evidence in their work when you do not include it in yours.

What is truly bizarre, is that the teabags resent the educated, calling them elite, equating them with an ivy-league education when in fact, what they resent is the education, period. In the past, the ivy-leagues were available only to those with the proper pedigree regardless of SAT's, community service, or gradepoint average (think George W). As a result of affirmative action, it was the ivy-leagues who offered the most in response and thus created the most diverse alumni --people who came from all races and ethnicities, and social classes. The graduates of the ivy-leagues over the past 40 years are truly representative of the American dream that is so hard to reach for most.

Trying to explain what it is the teabags are angry about when they complain about elitism, Goldberg says of Applebaum: [emphasis added]
"She doesn’t seem to grasp, let alone acknowledge, that it’s only one subset of Ivy Leaguers that seems to bother anybody on the right: the lawyer-social engineers-journalist-activists they churn out by the boatload. No one begrudges kids who’ve made good from tough backgrounds. What bothers lots of Americans is when those kids then think they are entitled to cajole, nudge, command and denigrate the rest of America. To date, I’ve seen not one instance of Tea Partiers denouncing engineers, physicists, cardiologists, accountants, biologist, archeologists or a thousand other professions who’ve emerged from elite schools. Because those people aren’t bossing anybody around."
This last is so breathtaking I almost don't know where to begin. "No one begrudges kids who've made good from tough backgrounds." Umm. Okay. Unless you're President Obama or a Democrat.

He goes on to say:
" is the agenda of a very specific and very self-styled elite, not the existence of an elite that is pissing so many people off. Some of the angriest and most dedicated people I meet at Tea Party events are quite wealthy and successful, often with shiny educations equal to Applebaum’s. What infuriates them is that they see a country that once determined merit in the market place or in civil society, becoming a country where what counts as merit is determined by government directly, or indirectly."
What does that mean? Merit was determined "in the market place or in civil society." When? Okay. I understand the market place, but civil society? I guess he's saying that if you exhibit the correct values (conservative perhaps?) then you have merit? And where does he get that merit is determined by government directly or indirectly? What does that mean? And what does he mean by "what counts as merit?" Perhaps Jonah doesn't understand definitions. Merit:
  • Noun - something that deserves a reward, or the the fact of deserving
  • Verb - deserve
  • Adjective - based on (ie a raise)
Pretty clear to me. Of course, this idea is one of the primary distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, including teabags. Republicans equate success with money in the bank and morality with church attendance and how much they tithe. Democrats equate success with personal fulfillment and satisfaction and morality with how one makes choices when no one else is looking. Granted, hugely generalized, but you are unlikely to find someone with the later values in the Republican Party or vice versa. Look at this campaign. The 1st Amendment was designed to protect the media from government so that we the people may have the information we need in order to make good decisions about who to elect to represent us, the theory then being that those running for office (and holding office) have an obligation to provide that information. Right? Now, we have teabags who refuse to talk to the media unless they can solicit funds and control the questions. A true return to our Constitutional roots as demanded by the teabags would be a requirement that they stop running away from the media and actually present their policy ideas. Radical concept, I know.

Anyway. Jonah is an interesting character and believes himself to be an expert on affirmative action and has written extensively on that subject. Trying to style himself as an academic type, Goldberg is the author of the oxymoronically titled "Liberal Fascism" and weighed in during the Sotomayor hearings. His "expertise" on affirmative action was highly valued by the extremist right as they used the very program designed to help her and others succeed, to attempt to disallow that success. His comments on affirmative action parroted the continuing Republican mantra of reverse discrimination that hurts those poor, white men. You can read more about it here.

A few days after his intrusion into the Sotomayor affair, Goldberg, suddenly an expert on foreign affairs and the middle east, wrote about what President Obama should do about the situation taking place at that time in Iran (this was during the protests during the summer of 2009). As I pointed out at the time, Goldberg holds a prime position on my serial idiots list.

What are the teabags really doing? In blaming the elitists who are trying to "boss us around" and equating anyone with an ivy-league education as an elitist, they are refusing to acknowledge those who are the embodiment of the American dream if that dream culminates in progressive ideals. Sure there are elites, and there are elites who are graduates of ivy-league schools. But what is truly the definition of an elite? Personally, I believe it is someone who is admitted to an ivy-league school because of their family background and maintains their place despite near failing grades (George W) or believes that because of what they have they are somehow special.

Teabags are really attacking progressive ideals, and equate elitism with being told what to do. They are angry with a government interfering in their lives and telling them what to do and conflate those in government who hold ideas and make policy decisions they don't like with those with a good education because we now have a president they don't like who went to an ivy-league school. My question? A government that wants to move into my bedroom, doctor's office, and re-write scientific texts to match a minority point of view is far more intrusive than a government that is there to provide for the public welfare. I reject, again, Goldberg's premise and his and the teabags continuing attempts to build strawmen (see Fallacies above) rather than address the actual issues.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Comparing Voting Machines to Slot Machines


As we approach the election and consider all the lies and distortions presented as reasons to vote for a teabag (for example), this is a reminder of all the problems from the last election that were forgotten as soon as the votes were counted. Let's make sure that the margins are wide enough that GOP manipulation does not work.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Congress Keeps Its Foot On The Executive Branch

Truly excellent and important quote today from Ezra Klein at the Washington Post:
"It's so easy to narrativize American politics through the person of the president, but it's just a wildly misleading way to understand why things do or don't happen."
Speaking to Steve Rattner, the man President Obama selected to be the "auto-czar" and who was responsible for not only salvaging the auto industry, but leaving GM in a position where they are now adding hundreds of workers and showing a profit.

In a 2-part interview, the first printed today, Klein and Rattner discuss "... how Congress keeps its foot on the Executive Branch."

Interesting and worth the read.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Get Out the Vote Poster - It's in the Asterisk

Click on the image for a larger view. (h/t Rachel Maddow)

Go here to download this or four other get-out-the-vote posters created by Patrick Mullins of Seattle. His idea:
This is a series of "get out the vote" posters I'm working on producing and distributing somehow. My father said to me "there is a myth, of what America is, being created by the extreme right, but it is not the true America." He's smart and he's right, so I'm trying to do what I can to make sure the definition of America isn't distorted by a few loud voices.

Maybe these can help in some small way.
If the teabags win, it will be out of the ignorance and fear of a small minority of voters. We will get what we deserve for staying home and not motivating our friends and family to vote (and vote Democratic!) but the lesson learned will be purchased at too high a price.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hey Teabags, Pledge of Allegiance Written to Embody Socialist Utopian Ideal. Attorney Arrested for Refusing to Pledge.

The Teabags have been waving the 10th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, and now, are once again attacking the favorite target of the extreme right, the 1st Amendment and our freedom of speech. Remember, it was Sarah Palin who said that it was the Constitutional protections provided by the 1st Amendment that protected her from the media (this during her campaign when she was a government official). Our favorite teabags, Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell, have been seen running away from media in order to ensure their protection from the media which, of course, they have the right to do. Bizarre. But their right. Unfortunately, our elected officials, including those running for office, have an obligation to answer our questions. This is why the 1st Amendment was included in the Constitution; to protect the media from the government, but that's another issue. Once again, the Pledge of Allegiance is in the news and once again, it is being held up as the yardstick by which many measure one's patriotism or the lack thereof. And once again, even those who are supposed to know the law do not seem to understand that it is optional.

Full disclosure. I am a Quaker. We do not swear on Bible's or other religious tomes, take oaths, or pledge allegiance to anything.

What many people do not understand, is that the freedom that allows the teabags to rally against "Obamacare," and wave truly repugnant signs depicting hateful and racist imagery of the President, is the same freedom that allows people to choose not to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

On Oct. 6, 2010, an attorney by the name of Danny Lampley was arrested while in court in Tupelo, Mississippi. The judge requested that everyone present stand and say the pledge, and when Mr. Lampley refused, he was arrested. He was released five hours later, but told that he could have the contempt citation purged when he returned to the courtroom and said the pledge. This was not the first time that this attorney had had a run-in with this judge about this issue as discussed here

A resident of Tupelo, a Bobby Martin, was quoted as saying:
"If he can't say that in front of a judge, he don't deserve to be here" in this country."

Certainly, Mr. Martin has the freedom to say this, but come on, people who rant at others for simply expressing a different belief are no less American and when these people suggest they don't deserve to be here, where should they go?

If this situation in Mississippi were an isolated one, I'd let it go without comment, but there is an ongoing pattern here, and with teabags saying increasingly kooky things and actually appearing to have some traction, I'm concerned when my rights and freedoms are being attacked. One of the reasons that I write this blog is to illuminate issues that I believe are not given enough media notice.

In 2009, the ACLU who battles these cases had to contact the Hubbard, Ohio high school authorities and remind them of the right of a student to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance after she had been disciplined on more than one occasion. A simple Google search brings back numerous instances of, usually schools, misunderstanding their authority over students relative to the pledge, and numerous instances of the courts upholding the rights of individuals to refuse to stand and/or recite the pledge without penalty.

Know what's really amusing about all of this? Back in 1892, a man named Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister wrote the pledge. His cousin, Edward, had written some books about utopian socialism, and Francis attempted to embody that philosophy in his pledge. Mr. Bellamy considered himself a Christian socialist. Francis preached, and Edward wrote, about their belief in a country centered around a society in which everyone was equal in a planned social, political, and economic structure. They suggested that the role of government would be to run an economy similar to a military industrial complex.

The original pledge contained the words "my flag" and nothing about God. At the National Flag Conferences held in 1923 and 1924, "my flag" was changed to "the flag." After a campaign engineered by the Knights of Columbus, in 1954 Congress added the words "under God."

With the extreme rights paranoia of socialism and Beck preaching against social justice, and any governmental program that might appear to serve the disadvantaged, it's kind of ironic that it was two men writing of a socialist, utopian ideal who created our Pledge of Allegiance.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Matt Taibbi Attends Palin Rally & Explains Teabags

 Illustration by Victor Juhasz

Truly remarkable article in the October 15 issue of Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi. Called Tea and Crackers, Taibbi discusses his exploration of the Tea Party, what it is, who its members are, and what they truly stand for.

The article is quite lengthy but well worth the read. Several points are worth special note, however. [All emphasis added] After making three trips to Kentucky, Taibbi attends a Sarah Palin rally:
"Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains."
"A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it."
The money quote?
"...Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it's going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I've concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They're full of shit. All of them. At the voter level, the Tea Party is a movement that purports to be furious about government spending — only the reality is that the vast majority of its members are former Bush supporters who yawned through two terms of record deficits and spent the past two electoral cycles frothing not about spending but about John Kerry's medals and Barack Obama's Sixties associations. The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them. In fact, their lack of embarrassment when it comes to collecting government largesse is key to understanding what this movement is all about ..."
"Suddenly, tens of thousands of Republicans who had been conspicuously silent during George Bush's gargantuan spending on behalf of defense contractors and hedge-fund gazillionaires showed up at Tea Party rallies across the nation, declaring themselves fed up with wasteful government spending"
Much of the article is a discussion of Rand Paul and his transformation from a fringe candidate to a candidate truly of the GOP when he won the primary, and the genesis of the movement created by money interested in manipulating people dissatisfied with the results of the 2008 elections.
"After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. ("Not me — I was protesting!" is a common exclamation.) Two: Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey [of Freedom Works, the corporate funder/creator of the tea party movement and anti-health care movement], who explains that the problem with "people who do not cherish America the way we do" is that "they did not read the Federalist Papers.") Three: They are all furious at the implication that race is a factor in their political views — despite the fact that they blame the financial crisis on poor black homeowners, spend months on end engrossed by reports about how the New Black Panthers want to kill "cracker babies," support politicians who think the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was an overreach of government power, tried to enact South African-style immigration laws in Arizona and obsess over Charlie Rangel, ACORN and Barack Obama's birth certificate. Four: In fact, some of their best friends are black! (Reporters in Kentucky invented a game called "White Male Liberty Patriot Bingo," checking off a box every time a Tea Partier mentions a black friend.) And five: Everyone who disagrees with them is a radical leftist who hates America."
And my favorite quote, speaking as it does to my professional opinion:
"It would be inaccurate to say the Tea Partiers are racists. What they are, in truth, are narcissists..."
I have quoted at length from this article, however, I would strongly encourage you to read it in its entirety and share it with your friends. I made sure to share it on Facebook hoping all the teabags in my extended family will take a look...

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Limbaugh Demonstrates His Developmental Age of 3

Lot's of discussion lately about sexuality and Republicans, especially the extremist right wing of the party. Recent polls have suggested that more and more Republicans identify themselves as members of the Teaparty. Rush Limbaugh, the self-elected head of the Republican Party has, once again, demonstrated his psychosexual developmental age of 3. Remaining in the anal stage long into adulthood, Rush's fixation on anal poisoning, degrading women, and all matters sexual are odd - to say the least - when lined up beside the female (Christian) candidates he demands that we vote for.

There are no polls asking how many people actually agree with the particular views held by, for instance, Christine O'Donnell or Sharon Angle, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, but approval ratings are a somewhat good indicator. What is clear, however, is that with pundits and talk show entertainers throwing their full support behind any candidate who is not a Democrat or a liberal regardless of their positions (now that the primaries have weeded out many moderates in an effort to "purify" the party), it is an interesting paradox to listen to someone like Rush Limbaugh preaching his filth while issuing demands for support and adulation for teabag candidates.

The most extreme of the teabag candidates, O'Donnell and Angle claim God as their campaign manager so it is particularly curious to juxtapose Limbaugh's filth to their supposed morality. I say supposed, as members of the Christian right talk a lot about people who "say" they're Christian (Paul and Angle, for example) but are really not. Unfortunately, I agree with them, however, my yardstick is a little different. When I was growing up, the evangelicals, pentacostalists, and fundamentalists were the "fringies." People who wore their religiosity so loudly and publicly were considered a little "out there," and such concepts as loving thy neighbor as thyself, charity, and social justice were important - even dominant - parts of church doctrine. My, how things change.

Morality then, was how you made your decisions, how you made choices when nobody was looking, and the underlying integrity that guided your life. Church attendance, how much you tithed, and how often you went (or even if you did) to Bible study were secondary. Nobody needed to "be saved" to be a Christian and nobody had to publicly accept Jesus in order to prove anything. Faith was between you and your God, or for Catholics, between you and your priest. Somehow, a few branches of the enormous religion that is Christianity have taken over and try to dictate to everyone else what Christianity is or isn't. That said, I haven't observed anyone in politics or the media spouting their Christian values who actually lives them. Should it be a factor in their political lives? No. Their integrity, yes, but many atheists have more integrity in their little finger than do those banging the drum for returning us to a so-called Christian nation.

Sorry. There was a point to all of this but perhaps a little more than necessary. Anyway.

Rush Limbaugh. Republicans. Certainly there have been Democrats who have done equally bad things (John Edwards, for example). However, you rarely see a Democrat run on a family values platform or tout his or her morality or purity as a reason for deserving your vote. Most Democrats in Congress tend to stay married in fact (how many times has Rush been married?). Republicans, however, seem supremely capable of staring into the tv machine and flat out lying. When caught lying, they express no embarrassment. But seriously. Sanford, Vitter, Ensign, Gingrich, and Clinton's impeachment hearing. How many of the House Managers were caught having affairs during the hearings? Two actually, although other prominent politicians calling for the impeachment had less than stellar records themselves. Of immediate interest, the then Majority Leader, Newt Gingrich was also having an affair. So. Moral values anyone? This "purity" test that the Republicans are using to weed out the chaff in the party has nothing to do with purity. To them, purity means taxes. Period. No taxes, pure. Taxes, impure.

As we get closer to the mid-terms, and President Obama embarks on a campaign tour to try to generate voter enthusiasm (where has that man been for the past 20 months?), the talk show entertainers are ramping it up and throwing everything they have at him. Obama's approval ratings though low, are still significantly higher than his disapproval ratings. On issues, only 23% of Americans want abortion banned in all cases although this is a favorite cause of the teabags. Yet, the attacks continue and become more and more personal and more and more vicious. It's not about issues, because they have nothing to say about them. Despite what they say and want to believe, Americans do not want them to overturn healthcare, do away with social security or medicare, or do away with government, but the Democrats are letting the extreme right rant unanswered.

Rush Limbaugh had, for awhile, refrained from one of his more colorful phrases, but no longer. Referring to the President, he said on his radio show Wednesday:
"...he's got a press that's going to die of anal poisoning if he keeps this up. What in the world does Obama have to be disappointed about? He bows to other leaders because in his heart of hearts he thinks he should be bowed to. He's trying to show other people how he should be treated."
From Quizlaw posted here during the 2008 campaign, Limbaugh
"... has suggested that he’d rather see a Democrat blamed for the direction the country is heading toward (thanks G.W.) than vote for McCain. But, yesterday on his radio show, he dropped this little bon mot:

Limbaugh was ranting against Sen. John McCain ... when a caller asked whether he thought McCain would pick Sen. Lindsey Graham as his running mate. Limbaugh doubted it, though he admitted: “I may be wrong … Lindsey Graham is certainly close enough to [McCain] to die of anal poisoning.”

At Rawstory, David Edwards wrote about one of Keith Olbermann's "worst persons" segments on the subject here:
"Keith Olbermann names Rush Limbaugh one of the world’s worst people for saying that an HBO special about President Barack Obama should get “anal poisoning.” In fact, notes Olbermann, Limbaugh has mentioned “anal poisoning” 13 times in the past 2 years. Limbaugh has referenced “men bending over and grabbing their ankles” 19 times. Olbermann suggests that Limbaugh could have a medical condition that lead to his fascination with that region of the body."
 Back in the early days of the Obama presidency, Jason Linkins in Huffington Post, wrote of the LA Times' Andrew Klavan daring people to find instances of hateful or racist speech on Limbaugh's show, only to have Rush come out with his rant against then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown in which he says:
"...if the British Prime Minister keeps "slobbering" over President Barack Obama, he'll "come down with anal poisoning and may die from it."

Wondering what he means by that term, Linkins opines:
"What does that even mean? Is anal poisoning contagious? Apparently, the term is common on porn websites, ..."

Stephen Colbert provides probably the best definition at Wikiality which says:
Anal Poisoning (rectal problem)

1. an affliction characterized by an abundance of semi-synthetic opiopoid oid analgesics affecting the nether regions. It is highly contagious, but is only deadly to those allergic to the firm buttocks of his fellow man

Synonym: Dominican's Obsession, OxyContin Whirlpool
[edit] See Also

* Santorum *
* tea bagging *
[editor: * Warning: sexually explicit descriptions]

I wrote about this subject back in May 2009 here. What I discovered as I researched that article was that:
"If you were to go to Google and enter the search term "anal poisoning" as I just did, it would return 587,000 hits in 0.82 seconds. To be honest, I did not check every single citation, however, I did a scan through many pages to the end of the list. Every time anal and poisoning were side by side (you know how Google will return results where the 2 search terms appear close together), the reference always includes Rush Limbaugh."
At the time, I suggested that he was a gift to the Democratic Party with his use of all things anal and his treatment of women:
"Can't they see the theme here? Rush clearly has a fixation on all things anal. In psychology, Freud would have had a field day with him. The progression through the various stages of life is important to understanding the human psyche. We have typically moved beyond the anal stage by the age of 2 or 3 and it is directly related to psychosexual development. Although Freud is now considered passe, his theories of development do inform our understanding of the processes of development. The fact that Rush appears obsessed by race, women, sex, and all things anal combined with his need to be the center of attention suggest someone with some serious issues, which should concern the leadership of the Republican Party if this is the man who is setting their agenda. Personally, I find him mean-spirited and somewhat sad, and an on-going gift to the Democratic agenda."
But, once again, the Democrats are unwilling to use what is given to them and explore what might save them. The teabags are extremists who want to hurt the people most likely to give them their vote. Democrats refuse to advertise that. They, in not wanting to stoop to the level of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, allow his filth to permeate the airwaves unanswered and too many ignorant people still believe the old saw that "where there is smoke, there's fire." Wrong, but there it is.

We need to stay in touch with our leaders and ask that they remind voters of the accomplishments of the Democratic Party, remind people that this administration has accomplished more than any other president has by this time in his first term, and remind people that a vote for a Republican or a teabag, means a return to the circumstances that caused the economic meltdown of 2008. They need to remind progressives that regardless of our disappointments, we cannot afford to stay home on November 10. People need especially, to be instructed on basic economics 101 and how stimulus really works. And we need to continue to compare and contrast the words of Rush Limbaugh and his delightful imagery to the supposed values of the people he supports.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.