Monday, December 29, 2008

Blah blah blah Kennedy blah blah blah

I've been reading a lot about this Caroline Kennedy thing in New York, but I'm finding it to be detrimental to my health, what with the constant urge to bash my head into the wall. New York politics interest me about as much as Sarah Palin's recipe for caribou pâté. I'd rather spend my time debating Kantian ethics with Todd Palin, or summoning the ghost of Jesse Helms to ask him why he was such a tremendous sack of crap. Actually, that last one sounds pretty nice.

Anyway, speaking of Palin (the woman, not the asshole), one good thing has come out of the endless Kennedy coverage: We (the media) are showing the world that crucifying would-be politicians isn't solely reserved for inexperienced, religiously insane Republicans from Alaska. We pretty much do it to anybody who pisses us off or aims too high without the experience or ideas to justify it. As watchdogs, we journalists are very serious when it comes to slapping overly motivated but underqualified political hopefuls right in the face. Right. In. The. Face.

Of course, it isn't the media's fault that Kennedy's road to the Senate is eerily reminiscent of Palin's disastrous bid for vice president. In fact, I've seen the phrase "Palin-ized" more than once, apparently a word now used to reference politicians who try to hide from the media -- due to inexperience or fear or incompetence -- and are subsequently hounded by angry reporters until the reason for their elusiveness is uncovered. This isn't unreasonable; it's called watchdog journalism.

I'm not saying Kennedy is a bad person by any means. She's been a great community leader and fundraiser for legitimate causes. But she's never held elected office in any capacity, or even bothered to vote in many elections, and now she wants to go straight to a powerful New York Senate seat. And it can't be ignored that the only reason anybody is taking her seriously in this endeavor -- a complete newcomer to politics seeking a place in the top legislative body -- is her last name. If there's one thing journalists hate, it's fucking monarchy.

My advice to Kennedy would be to learn how to look reporters in the face and refrain from treating them like idiots if she wants to salvage her political ambitions. Not that I really give a shit.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up

JibJab year in review:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren is a piece of shit (and other reasonable conclusions)

As these cold, dark December days slog by and George W. Bush intensifies his desperate campaign of telling the world that he's not such a bad fascist after all, I can't help thinking that inauguration day seems too far away. In fact, I'm so atwitter by the prospect of returning to an era of reason that I've been compiling my Official Inauguration Checklist, aided by a contingent of frothing media types who write wordy, fawning stories daily about the upcoming extravaganza. Here's what I have so far:

* Performance by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (check)
* Reading by Elizabeth Alexander, a renowned black poet (check)
* Speech by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, the Bay Area Badass (check)
* Invocation by evangelist Rev. Rick Warren, an insane religious zealot and renowned gay basher (check)

Ah yes. An affair to remember. And perfectly planned! This way, right before I enjoy the Constitutional passage of the torch to the nation's first black president and celebrate the official end of the Bush era, I can listen to the thoughtful remarks of a raving madman who symbolizes everything I hate about America.

Are you fucking serious? Rick Warren? Obama, I love you to pieces man, but please, please stop pretending that you give a crap about the religious right. I mean, you fucking won! It's time to let your hair down. Don't you remember the campaign? These are the same people who spread a rumor that you were a Muslim and your wife was an atheist. This is the level of intellectualism we're dealing with here.

Look, I understand that the United States is not a liberal nation. I get that the union is strung together by blocs of ultra-left and ultra-right, and the majority lands in the middle. We're a moderate country, and that is reflected in the incoming Cabinet. But Rick Warren is not a moderate; he's an extremist. We're talking about a shameless and delusional culture warrior who compares abortion to the Holocaust and supports the assassination of foreign leaders. This man has dedicated his life to brainwashing frothing masses into believing an all-powerful God actually cares if two insignificant people of the same insignificant sex living on one insignificant rock in one insignificant galaxy shack up and call themselves "married."

Rick Warren? Not exactly a great start to the era of reason.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My long farewell to certainty

I believe there are three types of people.

The first type, whether as a result of external influences or some internal desire for comfort, tend to cling to familiarity and naturally rule out decisions that result in instability or chaos. This isn't a bad way to live, given its ultimate safety and high likelihood of a long, relatively worry-free life. These people have an uncanny ability to transform boredom and complacency into the idea that these feelings are a rational and expected part of being human and American, and that the ultimate goal of living is not to be fulfilled but to lead the life that makes the most sense: college, job, money, marriage, death.

The second type, whether as a result of external influences of some internal desire for fulfillment, understand that humans are insignificant specs in an eternal universe of ideas and personalities, and if they're going to make their mark in the world -- be it by having a job they love, being famous, being rich, raising a family, whatever -- they'd better do it before their time runs out. These people don't necessarily know their ultimate goal in life, but they have a solid grasp on what they don't want: a wasted existence, and the fear that in 60 years they'll be cowering in their bed, wasting away and seeking frantically with each feeble, dying breath for some kind of meaning or explanation for the seconds, minutes and hours that equal a lifetime of thoughts and actions.

The third type: Happy with whichever path they've chosen, and fulfilled because they had to work and sacrifice for their comfort. The future is unknown, but there's a certain sense of optimism with that inevitability. I have great respect and admiration for these people.

The easy part is recognizing these three types of people. The hard part is figuring out which one I am, and which one I want to be, and how to evolve. It's about taking a long, deep look at what's important to me -- what makes me feel passionate about living.

For me, it seems easy: occupation, family and friends. But it goes way beyond that.

Person #1 would say occupation is important because it's what you do to get paid, and getting paid is how you function. Person #1 would say family because it's the logical next step attaining normality in our society. Person #1 would say friends because being alone just doesn't make sense with so many people walking around.

Person #2? He would say occupation because it's his passion, his ultimate reason for getting up and doing what he loves every day, be it flying rockets into space or pumping gas. Person #2 would say family because he feels he has an eternal soul mate, and his kids are a part of him: fascinating, fresh souls in the world whom he can nurture, love, shape and raise, and not just something to prove to the rest of society that he is normal. Person #2 would say friends because friends sacrifice themselves for each other, and knowing that somebody will do that for you is a powerful force against selfishness and hatred in this world.

Who am I? It's a question I can't possibly begin to fathom. It's also terrifying; after all, the answer will dictate nothing less than the rest of my life. Am I the person who floats through an empty occupation, going through the motions with no emotion so I can get through the day? Or am I the person who takes action? Am I the person who subverts the overwhelming, natural influence to be comfortable, to be safe -- to be empty? Or am I the person with the courage and recklessness to enter the unknown? Am I the person who accepts his perceived fate? Or Am I the person who realizes that all the chapters in my life haven't been written yet?

The unknown. Holy shit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Don't read this if you're still happy (or, I drank what?)

After enjoying the prolonged afterglow of GOP suffering and other election bliss, I feel as though I'm slowly waking from a two-week bender, hazy and stinky, and desperately trying to remember how much I had to drink and why I'm wearing this fire helmet.

My conclusion: I wish I would have kept on drinking.

I hate to sound defeatist here, but for all the joy and relief that accompanied the victory of our first black president and the ouster of a disastrous Bush-era brand of Republicanism, I must sadly face the inevitable: This world still sucks.

(pause for crucifiction)

Seriously, has anybody been watching the news lately? The fucking Mormons -- who, by the way, didn't allow black people into their priesthood until the late 1970s and many who freely practice polygamy -- joined together to pass a measure that bans same-sex couples from entering into the same government-supported legal contracts as heterosexual couples (or marriage, if you want to get technical about it). Then, hilariously, when the gay community revolted against the church's efforts to discriminate against them, the Mormons whined about religious persecution. And the wheels turn, turn, turn.

Oh, and you should probably know that Barack Obama's election didn't magically purge this nation of insane religious zealots or gun-toting, conspiracy-minded, racist conservatives with third-grade educations. I know, I was disappointed, too. One indication: gun sales skyrocketed the day after the election, mostly because the National Rifle Association convinced gun owners that Obama was personally going to show up at their trailers and seize their God-given weapons.

The first thought that came to my mind: Jesus, these people have guns? Clearly they are slightly unhinged if they actually believe the president is going to single-handedly overturn more than 200 years of gun rights. Do they not understand the structure of U.S. government? The president can't exactly sign a fucking executive order that bans guns. It takes, like, legislation, Congress and, what the hell, I bet the Supreme Court would even be involved.

Anyway, my point is that America may have changed in the sense that half the country hated Republicans enough to elect Democrats this year, but it would be a grave mistake to believe our nation has undergone some fundamental transformation. I can hope for the future, maybe, but as long as I'm living in the present, I'll go ahead and continue to acknowledge that we belong to a society dominated by bullshitters and idiots. I just hope Obama can make it a little more tolerable.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Don't forget

While you're savoring this victory over the sinister Republican forces in America, don't forget to wander over to some of the hysterical conservative blogs and revel in the sheer glory of their panic-stricken despondency. After eight years of political tragedy, it's almost amazing that they can feign bitterness so well.

This was so worth it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

That feeling

I have an odd feeling. I think it's a flicker of hope. Maybe some restored faith in the American people.


Election Guide

From The Associated Press:

A guide to battleground states

As results start pouring in tonight, a handful of states will tell you where this election is going. It takes 270 electoral votes to win. Here’s what to watch (all times Eastern Standard).

Polls close at 7 p.m.

Virginia: Sen. John McCain spent precious last-minute time in Newport News, as sure a sign as any that his campaign believes polls that show Sen. Barack Obama leading. If this Republican redoubt flips from red to blue for the first time since 1964, it’s a sign that McCain is in for a long night.

Georgia: Heavy turnout among African-Americans could put this rock-solid Republican state in play. McCain leads in polls, but it’s still a tossup. If McCain wins, he’s meeting expectations; if Obama wins, this election could be over early.

Indiana: McCain is scarcely ahead in a state that has a perfect GOP voting record since 1964. Obama made inroads as a favorite son of neighboring Illinois and a win here would be a startling turn against the GOP.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Ohio: Along with Florida and Pennsylvania, it’s one of three traditional battleground states. Polls show Obama leading, but McCain is running hard and Ohio is not quite as predisposed to Democrats as Pennsylvania.

Polls close at 8 p.m.

Florida: Most of the state’s polls close at 7 p.m., but the Panhandle time zones are an hour later. It’s quite simple: The electoral math doesn’t work for McCain without having Florida in his column. If Obama manages to hold on to his lead in the polls (which has been slipping) and captures the state, McCain would have to score an unlikely set of upsets to recover.

Pennsylvania: This rich prize has tilted toward Democrats in recent elections and favors Obama strongly in the polls. McCain has not given up, though, and an upset win here could signal that McCain is drawing blue-collar voters who are important in other key states like Missouri.

Missouri: McCain is leading slightly in this swing state that has voted with the winner every time since 1964. It has been a historic bellwether, but the new map that has so many traditionally Republican states in play means a victory here may be less important than it has been.

Polls close at 8:30 p.m.

North Carolina: Polls show a tie, but implications of an Obama victory here would be significant. Like Virginia, this Southern state is one McCain was expected to win.

Polls close at 9 p.m.

Colorado: Democrats held their convention in Denver to capitalize on a trend that had been showing up in recent elections. Now Obama is favored to win the state that has gone with a Democrat only one other time since 1964. If so, it could be the first sign that the GOP hold on the West is cracking.

Montana: Not many votes here, but this state shares Colorado’s history of choosing Republicans (except Bill Clinton in 1992). President Bush carried this state by huge margins both times.

Arizona: McCain leads in his home state but not by much. It’s considered a tossup. If Obama snatches this one, McCain would be in a bad, bad spot in terms of electoral votes and embarrassed on top of it.

Polls close at 10 p.m.

Nevada: In the last battleground state before the solidly Democratic West Coast, Obama leads by an average of 6 points. This state has mostly been Republican, but it did support Clinton both times

Monday, November 3, 2008

A revelation

I just had a staggering realization as I was reflecting back on these 27 zany years and the things I've experienced politically on local and global levels.

After some consideration, I can say with full confidence that seeing Sarah Palin lose on Tuesday will be the happiest day of my life.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do the media revolution

As another bitter and hysterical U.S. election draws to a close, it's important for mainstream media consumers to take a step back and recognize the incredible shift that has taken place in American journalism during this election. If you've been reading newspapers and watching the endless TV coverage over the past several weeks, you've probably noticed that journalists aren't exactly hiding their view that Barack Obama will win.

Most media outlets have shuffled their coverage from "Obama is winning" to "what will Obama do when he wins?" to "how will Obama be successful in doing what he does when he wins?" These outlets aren't necessarily advocating or celebrating an Obama victory; instead, they are simply predicting the outcome by interpreting polls and capitalizing on the sense that Obama has unstoppable momentum.

After weeks of this, Americans are starting to wonder aloud: Has the mainstream media gone insane? It follows that among the flurry of Obama-will-win stories are an increasing number of opinion columns questioning the media's news judgment, and trying to figure out just what the hell is going on with American journalism.

Industry veteran Michael Malone, in a column last week, equates the trend to a wholesale media sellout -- a blasphemous slap in the face to all that is good and holy about professional journalistic standards. Malone attributes the slanted coverage to burned-out newspaper reporters and editors realizing that the Titanic newspaper industry has officially hit the iceberg, and the violins are playing a very sad song.

Politico, meanwhile, says the McCain campaign is at fault. The Web-based media outlet contends that its coverage is simply reflecting the tone and progress of the election campaign, and it would be disingenuous to manufacture "artificial balance." The coverage, according to Politico, is slanted negatively toward McCain simply because McCain isn't doing well in the election.

Well, journalism professors and media purists, light your torches and prepare the cross, because I offer an alternative perspective: The natural de-evolution of the mainstream media to their original roots and a widespread revolt against sensationalism. But before I explain this outrageous theory, it's important to note some media history.

Before the 20th century, American newspapers weren't much different from today's fledgling Internet news machine. Much like blogs and political Web sites now exist for every social issue or political ideology, so it was for newspapers from the dawn of the United States through the late 1800s. Today, if you disagree with a political blog, it's as simple as moving on to the next one, or better yet starting your own. It was the same during the glory days of American journalism: Newspapers were so numerous -- and it was so easy to start your own -- that readers could find a new viewpoint by picking up the next newspaper or even establishing a new one.

Keep in mind that although newspapers in this period were primarily driven by ideology, they weren't necessarily prone to sensationalism or outright fabrication. The idea, according to journalism scholar Robert McChesney, was to "persuade as well as to inform" -- not lie to generate sales or sway the public. The media environment was viewpoint-driven and highly partisan, but it was so saturated that it allowed for incredibly effective information gathering.

That is, until market-driven commercialism saw an opportunity for profit.

In the late 1880s, during the roots of the Gilded Age, society's wealthiest individuals started to distort what was a vibrant system of informing the public. Suddenly, journalism turned into a highly profitable enterprise, and newspapers transitioned from "persuade and inform" to "sensationalism equals sales." Vast corruption, driven by the desire for profits, transformed newspapers into agents for propaganda and outrageous tales of sex, crime and "yellow" journalism. With the concentration of media power and the money flowing into the industry, it was no longer possible for people outside the elite to launch their own media outlets and compete. Commercial interests began consolidating newspapers and collecting vast profits from sensationalistic stories. Journalism, in its early greatness, was dead.

A few decades later, as the 1800s dwindled and the 1900s roared to life, American journalism was reborn. After years and years of hysteria and greed, people started to realize that newspapers were the lowest form of discourse. Conservatives lamented the use of immoral content -- sex and crime -- to generate sales, while progressives decried the corrupting influence of capitalism in the media. Fearing a revolt, newspaper publishers created what McChesney calls "Professional Journalism" -- the idea that to be legitimate, journalists must obtain an education at an established school and learn basic tenants of objectivity and fairness. The goal was twofold: convince the public that media conglomeration was a good idea as long as certain standards were followed, and keep making money by the truckload through monopolization. After all, the publishers concluded, why would America need a variety of media options when the few that exist adhere to a strict code of neutrality?

Unfortunately, this "professional" model, while pure at its face, had serious flaws. The most dire shortfall was that objectivity simply doesn't exist: All news decisions are an expression of some form of bias. With the rise of "Professional Journalism," not only did people have fewer news outlets, but these outlets claimed the impossible dream. What was sold as a breakthrough in promoting democracy was actually an ingenious cover-up of what was essentially the corporate takeover of the U.S. media.

Another problem with "Professional Journalism" that McChensney notes -- and one we're seeing daily during this election -- is the notion that journalists "who raise issues no official source is talking about are accused of unprofessional conduct and of attempting to introduce bias into the news." That is, under the tenants of neutrality, journalists are being unethical if they provide any form of their own news analysis to "objective" stories. Sound familiar?

The big question, then: What has changed so fundamentally about this media model that has led newspapers to abandon professional standards, especially during this election? Three words: Internet media revolution. What is happening today is what the industrialists squashed after the Gilded Age: a sweeping revolt of media consumers. People have grown so weary of sensationalism in the "objective" mainstream news -- Britney Spears, terrorism, celebrity crime -- that they are turning to the Internet and the escape from conformity it provides. Except this time, a sweeping reform of journalism won't save newspapers, because corporations will never own the Internet. The damage has been done.

With the infinite market of viewpoints available on the Internet, it's of little surprise that Professional Journalism in the mainstream media is starting to falter, with more focus put into news analysis over strict objectivity. Internet bloggers and political Web sites may approach issues with a general sense of neutrality, but they certainly won't maintain this impossible, suffocating ideal when it comes to interpreting the news. And to compete with this increasingly popular Internet model, the mainstream media are adapting with standards reminiscent of American journalism's birth.

We're not facing a format revolution, from print and broadcast to the Web. We're facing a revolution of information gathering. We're facing a massive shift in media expectations. We're facing the death of objectivity. Finally.

The coverage of this election signals the final death twitch of the dying newspaper industry; a last, desperate attempt to be relevant. Despite their rules of objectivity, newspapers are slowly being forced by the Web to give readers what they actually want: an acknowledgment of their beliefs and assumptions about the world.

Sadly, newspapers can't possible win this battle. Readers are so conditioned to expect an impossible standard of objectivity that they will continue to abandon print if newspapers keep blurring the lines. Yet, if newspapers stay dedicated to objectivity, readers won't get the variety they can easily obtain on the Internet. News objectivity simply can't compete in a nation of people who are inherently incapable of viewpoint neutrality.

That's either a tragedy, or the most beautiful thing I've ever realized.

Thought for the day

I'm still unsure how I feel about being involved with a dying industry, but I'm positive it will make a great story for the grandkids when they ask what it was like to read a newspaper.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another sign

The apocalypse is nigh.

Friday, October 24, 2008

GOP desperation and self-mutilation

I fucking knew it:

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― Police sources tell KDKA that a campaign worker has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter “B” in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker.

Ashley Todd, 20, of Texas, initially told police that she was robbed at an ATM in Bloomfield and that the suspect became enraged and started beating her after seeing her GOP sticker on her car.

Police investigating the alleged attack, however, began to notice some inconsistencies in her story and administered a polygraph test.

Authorities, however, declined to release the results of that test.

Investigators did say that they received photos from the ATM machine and “the photographs were verified as not being the victim making the transaction.”

This afternoon, a Pittsburgh police commander told KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin that Todd confessed to making up the story.

The commander added that Todd will face charges; but police have not commented on what those charges will be.

According to police, investigators working on the interview process detected several inconsistencies in Todd’s story that differed from statements made in the original police report.

Pittsburgh Police Public Information Officer Diane Richard released a statement earlier today, saying: “Because of the inconsistencies in her statements, Ms. Todd was asked to submit to a polygraph examination which she agreed to do.”

No photos of Todd are being released by Pittsburgh Police at this time.

The investigation is continuing as officials determine what charges will be filed.

I had reservations as soon as I saw this story, and not just because I like Obama. I find it very suspicious that a thug would actually stick around long enough at the scene of his crime to carve somebody's face to make a political point. How many ultra-violent muggers do you think follow politics? I would wager: not many. This story was too insane for its own good. Total fabrication.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rhymes with idiot

As part of my ongoing Unsolicited Political Advice handbook:

How not to win an election, step #45987458: Tell every voter living in a populous city that they are unpatriotic. Then, instead of apologizing for making this ridiculous claim, say you're sorry that big city people didn't understand what you really meant by saying they were unpatriotic. Finally, don't elaborate on what you actually meant when you said they were unpatriotic. For example (not actual direct quotes):

Clueless candidate: "I like coming to small towns, because people in small towns are patriotic and big cities are anti-America."

Enraged big-city voters: "Why don't you take your domestic-terrorist-supporting husband and 15 babies and go back to your frigid wasteland of a state, you hysterical, pandering bitch."

Clueless candidate: "I apologize if anybody in a big city misinterpreted my statement, "big cities are anti-America," to mean big cities are anti-America. That's not what I meant at all."

Enraged big-city voters: "That's weird. It seems like "big cities are anti-America" was pretty self-explanatory."

Clueless candidate: "Down syndrome!"

Other guy: "Fucking hell I'm old. Sooooo old. God, how do I even get out of bed in the morning? Cindy, you whore, fetch me my cane so I can go mumble incoherently to the public."

Clueless candidate: "Maverick!"

American lol!!!!!!!!!111111111


Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Powell bitchslap

Hilariously, Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama is politically untouchable. After all, Republicans can't exactly criticize a highly decorated war hero, given their candidate is using that status as his entire platform. And they can't blame Powell for screwing up on the Iraq intelligence to the United Nations, given that John McCain repeatedly endorsed that very intelligence. All the Republicans have left is to play the race card. Good luck with that, guys!

It's all so gleefully karmic.

Joe the Fraud

Barack Obama has consistently talked about realistic solutions to real problems, and the best answer McCain can muster is a classic American redneck fraud named Joe. Seriously, "Joe" has lied through his teeth from the moment he was ejaculated into the national media spotlight after whining that his fake plumbing business would be taxed too heavily under Obama. Since then, with the help of a merciless media machine with no stomach for bullshit, we've learned:

1. Joe the Plumber is not actually named Joe. His name is Sam. Using "Joe" was just another failed attempt by McCain to be a pandering, populist dipshit like Sarah Palin.

2. We think his last name is "Worzelbacher," but we can't be sure because it appears his name is spelled incorrectly on his voter registration card. Might be government error, or he could just be that stupid. We'll never know.

3. "Joe" is probably breaking the law by being a "plumber" in the first place, considering the fact that he doesn't have a fucking plumbing license in his county of residence. Oh, and neither does his boss, who owns the company. It's unfortunate, really, because McCain could definitely use a licensed plumber to take care of his bullshit problem.

4. "Joe the Poor Math Student" confronted Obama at a rally because he was concerned that the Democrat's tax plan would end in higher levies if Joe decided to start his own illegal plumbing business. But many analysts say his concern is unfounded, and he'd actually be eligible for a tax cut if the gross business receipts hit $250,000 (as Joe himself said they would). The New York Times did a nice graphic about it here.

5. It's funny that Joe is so worried about paying more taxes, seeing as he hasn't paid any taxes in the past. He currently has an outstanding personal tax lien on his name for more than $1,000. Hey asshole, how about paying your fucking taxes like the rest of us before you gripe about anybody's tax plan? You've got egg on your face, or maybe horseshit, I can't tell.

So to recap, McCain's symbol of the tortured American worker is an illegal plumber he calls Joe, but who isn't actually named Joe, who claims to be afraid of paying more taxes under Obama but doesn't actually pay his taxes. If McCain worked for Bush, he'd be nicknamed McCainy, and Bush would say: "Helluva job, McCainy!" Grand slam.

Joe sets an interesting example for the rest of us. Specifically: We can lie, too! In fact, based on my early calculations, John McCain's tax plan will rape grandmothers and murder kittens. I'll be expecting the news vans any second.


Toledo Blade
Daily Kos

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Using Republican logic, I prove McCain is a terrorist

Campbell Brown over at CNN made an excellent point recently about the perception among a vast swath of ignorant Americans that Barack Obama is a Muslim, and the fact that such a staggering number of people view this as the primary reason to vote against him. Brown asks a simple question: Even though he's clearly not a Muslim, should it really matter if he were?

The answer, obviously, is no it shouldn't, but the reality: Yes it will. And that really says something about our country. Even though a majority of voters appear prepared to release their prejudices long enough to elect a black man as president, this nation still has a long way to go. A long, long way.

This election has been infected with blatant overtones of racism from the beginning, and it hasn't always been about black-and-white politics. Consider some recent comments from John McCain at a campaign rally, when he responded to a voter who declared she wouldn't vote for Obama because he's an Arab (never mind the fact that if he were an Arab, as opposed to an American, the Constitution would bar him from running for president in the first place):

No ma'am, no ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues. That's what this campaign is all about. He's not, thank you.

Think about what McCain is saying here: No, is Obama not an Arab, he's a decent family man. Maybe it was subconscious, maybe it was unintentional, or maybe I'm just reading too much into it, but it sure seems like he's making a sharp distinction between Arabs and decent family men. Sure, you can say he's just practicing good politics, and that's exactly the type of distinction the people who attend his rallies would expect him to make. Fine. But then what does that say about the Republicans who attend his rallies?

As Campbell noted in her essay, it shouldn't matter which religion you practice, just as it shouldn't matter if you're black, white, Asian or an alien from Planet Gargamel (as long as you were born in America!) And although Americans might soon pass a milestone in seeing beyond Obama's skin color, clearly many are still hung up on the fact that he could be a Muslim.

The elephant in the room in this case is Sept. 11, and the Americans who were killed by Arab terrorists. The argument goes, I guess, that those hijackers were a representation of all Arab culture, and therefore all Arabs are not to be trusted. But using that logic, I could say that Timothy McVeigh -- a white, American domestic terrorist who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing -- is a representation of all white Americans. Does that mean I should vote against John McCain?

Maybe I'll do just that.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's come to this

The desperation and deception of McCain's new campaign strategy -- unleash Sarah Palin to lie shamelessly in front of adoring, racist crowds -- wrapped up nicely by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank:

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John McCain is collapsing in the polls in Florida and other swing states, but Sarah Palin, God bless her, has a solution.

"For me, the heels are on, the gloves are off," she announced at high noon Monday to a group of Republican donors at the Naples Beach Club.

You betcha.

As the donors sipped their bloody marys and mimosas, she added, in a conspiratorial stage whisper, "I'm sending the message back to John McCain also: Tomorrow night in his debate, might as well take the gloves off."

Darn right.

Of course, it's not only gloves and heels; headgear has a role, too. "Okay, so, Florida, you know that you're going to have to hang on to your hats," she said at a morning rally in Clearwater, "because from now until Election Day, it may get kind of rough."

Say it ain't so, Sarah!

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a McCain confidant, told The Post's David Broder that the campaign would "go down in history as stupid if they don't unleash" Palin. Well, the self-identified pit bull has been unleashed -- if not unhinged.

Barack Obama, she told 8,000 fans at a rally here Monday afternoon, "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist!" This followed her earlier accusation that the Democrat pals around with terrorists. "This is not a man who sees America the way you and I see America," she told the Clearwater crowd. "I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." The crowd replied with boos.

McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

McCain's swoon is largely out of his control, the result of an economic collapse that ignited new fears Monday when the Dow Jones industrial average closed below 10,000 for the first time in four years. That's why his lead in Florida polls, which once reached as high as 15 points, has turned into a three-point deficit.

But the campaign has reacted with recriminations (the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Florida Republican Party chairman, after questioning Palin's aptitude, was told that he couldn't fly on her plane) and now Palin's rage.

The angry GOP vice presidential nominee even found a way to blame the market decline on the yet-to-be-enacted tax policies of the yet-to-be-elected Obama.

"If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, yah, this is another woeful day in the market, and the other side just doesn't understand -- no!" she said at an afternoon fundraiser at the home of mutual fund giant Jack Donahue. "Especially in a time like this, you don't propose to increase taxes. The phoniest claim in a campaign that's full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes."

Of course, Obama never promised to cut taxes for people at $10,000-a-plate lunches in air-conditioned tents on waterfront compounds. And the crowd -- among them New York Jets owner Woody Johnson -- reacted without applause to Palin's Joe Six-Pack lines. After they didn't strike up the usual "Drill, baby, drill" or "USA" chants, Palin, rattled, read hurriedly through the rest of her speech.

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

Palin also told those gathered that Obama doesn't like American soldiers. "He said that our troops in Afghanistan are just, quote, 'air-raiding villages and killing civilians,' " she said, drawing boos from a crowd that had not been told Obama was actually appealing for more troops in Afghanistan.

"See, John McCain is a different kind of man: He believes in our troops," she said.

At times, Palin hinted at the GOP campaign's troubles. "It's going to be a hard-fought contest, especially in these swing states, some maybe we would not have expected," she admitted to donors. She allowed that "John McCain and I need to do a better job" of talking about the economy.

At other times, she had troubles of her own, as when she spoke over the weekend of "our neighboring country of Afghanistan" or when she got choked up at the Clearwater rally, saying, "Some of your signs just make me wanna cry," without explaining which ones or why.

But then the gloves came off, the heels came out, and Palin was once again talking about her opponent hanging out in a terrorist's living room.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The facts, finally

Click here for the most incredible investigation of John McCain's career of deception and dishonor that you'll ever read. You'll never look at him the same way again.

Also, note to the McCain campaign: Nobody gives a shit that Obama was on the same charity board as a guy who was a radical 30 years ago. People want to know why billionaire CEOs are walking away rich while Wall Street crumbles, and why we're still sending billions to Iraq when we can't even run our own economy. Your entire campaign is a now a national parody. You're gonna lose, bitches!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Counting down to November

The sudden reversal of the McCain campaign's treatment of its beloved Sarah Palin is not surprising given that a week spent on the interview circuit has lowered expectations of her experience and competence to such a historically low level that a change in strategy was imperative. McCain will still lose, of course, but at least he'll go out fighting -- or whining, as Palin is apt to do so exquisitely.

Interestingly, the campaign decided to take off the leash and send Palin on the offensive. Instead of stumping the policies of a McCain administration, she's leveling personal attacks on Obama's character and leadership. In the past two days, Palin has more or less labeled Obama a terrorist sympathizer and called him unqualified to lead an army (in her universe, Obama is somehow unpatriotic for pointing out that we should avoid carpet-bombing Afghan villages and slaughtering innocent civilians by the truck load).

All this is hilarious considering Palin was so clearly recruited not for her character or leadership, but for her uncanny ability to court social conservatives with folksy platitudes and meaningless emotional drivel. Palin is a self-parody, and sometimes I wonder if she's even smart enough to realize her role in the campaign is purely superficial.

The big question this week: Will American voters be able to see the irony in everything Palin says and does? Will they be turned off by her hysterical rhetoric? Have we finally moved past terrorism politics? And, most important, will Obama respond in a way that is effective and powerful? For the sake of America, I sure hope so.

Republican fear machine back in action

As I've pointed out, the Republicans can't win without fear-mongering about terrorism. If people aren't terrified of their imminent deaths, the GOP has no legs to stand on. This is only the beginning:

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday accused Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" because of his association with a former 1960s radical, stepping up the campaign's effort to portray Obama as unacceptable to American voters.

Palin's reference was to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Its members took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, during the tumultuous Vietnam War era four decades ago. Obama, who was a child when the group was active, served on a charity board with Ayers several years ago and has denounced his radical views and activities.

The Republican campaign, falling behind Obama in polls, plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of presidential candidate John McCain's message with a month remaining before Election Day.

Palin told a group of donors at a private airport, "Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She also said, "This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America."

Palin, Alaska's governor, said that donors on a greeting line had encouraged her and McCain to get tougher on Obama. She said an aide then advised her, "Sarah, the gloves are off, the heels are on, go get to them."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Barracuda? Sounds about right

An observation: The McCain campaign continues to label Sarah "You Betcha" Palin as a political barracuda. Sen. McCain repeated the metaphor in a speech today when he declared, in reference to Palin's debate performance: "Viva la barracuda!"

Yet, I wonder whether the campaign has bothered to look up "barracuda" in the dictionary? It yields interesting results (from

1: any of a genus (Sphyraena of the family Sphyraenidae) of elongate predaceous often large bony fishes of warm seas that includes food and sport fishes as well as some forms frequently causing ciguatera poisoning

2: one that uses aggressive, selfish, and sometimes unethical methods to obtain a goal especially in business

I don't get it. Are they saying she's a fucking fish, or are they saying she's aggressive, selfish and unethical?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'd tell you what I think about Palin, but I've chewed off my tongue

Sarah Palin's down-home, aw-shucks personality makes me want to tear my eyelids off and set my eyeballs on fire. I want to ram a red-hot poker into my ear, sever my brain stem and drown myself in boiling water. All these things I would rather do than listen to her bumble for one more second like she's running for spot on the Wasilla PTA. If she wants to make the claim that she's part of the "middle class," as she did so many times during Thursday's debate, then she might want to burn down her mansion in the pristine Alaskan wilderness and give away that $1,000,000 she has in the bank. Middle class? Please. She wouldn't know middle class if she shot and skinned it during a raving moose hunt. She can drag as many pregnant teen daughters and Down syndrome babies onto the stage as she wants.

Sen. Biden skewered her like a clueless schoolgirl on foreign policy and domestic issues. Unfortunately, Americans inexplicably insist on electing idiots, so it's all meaningless. That said, any self-respecting independent and undecided voter couldn't possibly watch that spectacle and come out with the conclusion that this astoundingly inexperienced Republican madwoman is fit to sit in the White House.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Palin: Much worse than a faceplant into cement at high velocity

I've maintained since the nomination of Sarah Palin that America hasn't reached the astounding level of political cynicism and superficiality necessary to elect a woman this abhorrently unqualified. The bad thing about voicing these predictive political theories, however, is that I can brag about being right in November if she loses, but I'll have no choice but to throw myself off a building if I'm wrong. Indeed, every time I read a story about Palin's political history or core belief system, that tall building gets a little bit higher:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Los Angeles Times) -- Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, a local music teacher said, she startled him during a casual conversation by insisting that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth only 6,000 years old -- about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct.

After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said he questioned the young mayor about her religious beliefs during a June 1997 encounter.

Munger said Palin told him that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time." When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said "she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks," recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska inAnchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on a liberal political blog.

Although in her race for governor she clamored for faith-based "intelligent design" to counter the teaching of evolution in Alaska's classrooms, Gov. Palin has not sought to require it in state schools, Alaska educators say.

As governor and in her formative role as mayor of Wasilla, Palin has tread carefully between her evangelical faith and public policy.

In issues ranging from abortion to library books, she has pressed the envelope as far as Alaska's live-and-let-live culture will allow. But she has not always bolstered her strongly held beliefs with government action and has at times retreated when her moves sparked controversy or proved politically impractical.

She has harnessed the political muscle of social conservatives and antiabortion groups, yet did not push hard for a special legislative session on abortion and reluctantly did not challenge a court ruling that allowed health insurance for same-sex partners of state workers.

Palin has repeatedly attended prayer sessions with Christian pastors and has quietly sought their guidance -- but she is often mum on matters of faith in high-profile public forums.

Her aides say Palin's caution at the intersection of religion and governance is a studied effort to share her beliefs without imposing them on Alaska's fiercely independent political culture.

"She's obviously an intensively religious person," said Bill McAllister, Palin's chief spokesman as governor. "She understands that she's the governor and not preacher-in-chief. Religion informs her decisions, but she is not out to impose her views on Alaska."

McAllister said he has never heard Palin reprise those 1997 remarks about dinosaurs and that Palin has preferred not to discuss her views on evolution publicly -- though a former campaign aide said that Palin privately made a similar reference during her 2006 race for Alaska governor. "I've never had a conversation like that with her or been apprised of anything like that," he said. McAllister added that "the only bigotry that's still safe is against Christians who believe in their faith." The thought that dinosaurs and men coexisted early on in a world newly created by God is a popular strain in creationist belief.

Critics say she holds back from trying to codify her fervent faith-based views when she senses that she'll have a political price to pay.

"She's got a fine-tuned sense of how far to push," said John Stein, who was toppled as mayor of Wasilla by Palin after he guided her into her political career.
Stein said Palin displayed only vague hints of her fundamentalist Assembly of God upbringing when he first backed her for a nonpartisan run for Wasilla City Council in the early 1990s. But in 1996, when Palin ousted Stein with the aid of pink-colored antiabortion mailers and busloads of Christian grass-roots activists, she grew more overt about her plans, he said.

She combined her staff meetings with prayer sessions, Stein said, and upset the town's chief librarian by asking about how to ban books that she considered offensive. The move was never carried out, Stein said, only because "the library director was horrified and stood up to her."

"Sarah brought it up because she knew there was a moral majority in Wasilla who needed their voices heard," counters Geri McCann, who ran Wasilla's town museum under Palin.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jesus tits, we've got two more of these things?

We'll all be better off when everybody realizes how much of a farce the presidential debates are in determining anything of substance about a politician. With that said, I learned from the debate that John McCain is a condescending, bitter old man who looks like he's running low on his Alzheimer's pills and skipped his afternoon nap. What does that tell me about his policies?

A better question: In America, who cares?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jesus loves you

Unless you're black, apparently:

NEWBERG, Ore. (AP) - Officials of a Christian university say a life-size effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was hung from a tree on the campus.

George Fox University President Robin Baker says a custodian discovered the cardboard cutout of Obama early Tuesday at the Oregon school and removed it.

The effigy was accompanied by a message targeting participants of a minority student scholarship program called Act Six.

It read, "Act Six reject."

Baker says he met with the students in the Act Six program, who receive full scholarships, late Tuesday and plans to address the school's student body Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Yet another face-in-palms moment

Sometimes I consider the possibility that Americans are way too stupid to recognize the significance, function and reality of a free press:

BANGOR, Maine — A Maine TV news anchor who bears a resemblance to the Republican vice presidential nominee says she's been getting "hate mail and nasty phone calls" from viewers who think she's trying to copy Sarah Palin's signature style.

Cindy Michaels from WVII-TV has long brown hair that she sometimes wears up in a style similar to Palin's, and she also wears glasses on occasion.

Michaels says viewers recently began accusing her of trying to copy Palin's style or, worse, somehow trying to subliminally sway votes.

While smarting over accusations of bias, Michaels says she's generally flattered by the comparisons to Palin. Michaels describes her as a "beautiful woman."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Palin violates the truth about rape victims

An interesting quote from the McLies campaign today:

"As her record shows, Gov. Palin is committed to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice," Hazelbaker said. "She does not, nor has she ever believed that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence gathering test."

Oh really? Well, what about this:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's hometown required women to pay for their own rape examinations while she was mayor, a practice her police chief fought to keep as late as 2000.

A former Alaskan lawmaker says it seems unlikely that Gov. Sarah Palin was unaware of Wasilla's policy.

A former Alaskan lawmaker says it seems unlikely that Gov. Sarah Palin was unaware of Wasilla's policy.

Former state Rep. Eric Croft, a Democrat, sponsored a state law requiring cities to provide the examinations free of charge to victims. He said the only ongoing resistance he met was from Wasilla, where Palin was mayor from 1996 to 2002.

"It was one of those things everyone could agree on except Wasilla," Croft told CNN. "We couldn't convince the chief of police to stop charging them."

Alaska's Legislature in 2000 banned the practice of charging women for rape exam kits -- which experts said could cost up to $1,000.

Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, often talks about her experience running Wasilla, population approximately 7,000, and that has prompted close scrutiny of her record there. Wasilla's practice of charging victims for their rape exams while she was mayor has gotten wide circulation on the Internet and in the mainstream media.


Judy Patrick, who was Palin's deputy mayor and friend, blames the state.

"The bigger picture of what was going on at the time was that the state was trying to cut their own budget, and one of the things that they were doing was passing on costs to cities, and that was one of the many things that they were passing on, the cost to the city," said Patrick, who recalls enormous pressure to keep the city's budget down.

But the state was never responsible for paying the costs of local investigations. Patrick was also a member of Wasilla City Council, and she doesn't recall the issue coming before council members, nor does she remember discussing the issue with Palin.

She does recall Palin going through the budget in detail. She said Palin would review each department's budget line by line and send it back to department heads with her changes.

"Sarah is a fiscal conservative, and so she had seen that the city was heading in a direction of bigger projects, costing taxpayers more money, and she was determined to change that," Patrick said.

So, here's what we know: 1) Gov. Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla; 2) Wasilla forced women to pay for their own rape kits; 3) Gov. Palin was heavily involved in funding activities for the city and even went "line by line" through the city budget. So, basically, either the McCain campaign is lying about her lack lack of support for rape victims, or she was completely clueless about funding in her own city. I question the argument that she didn't know about the rape kits, given that her own police chief was fighting legislative efforts to require city funding:
Tara Henry, a forensic nurse who has been treating rape victims across Alaska for the last 12 years, told CNN that opposition to Croft's bill from Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon was memorable.

So, then, was she unaware of her own police chief's lobbying efforts? Or is she just lying through her teeth? More likely, Palin was taking the insane religious stance that emergency contraception, which is part of a rape kit, is akin to abortion. Awesome.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Palin: Too clueless to debate but, like, soooooo qualified!!!!!!!

Gov. Palin, apparently, is much too stupid to debate Sen. Joe Biden in a traditional setting, so the McCain campaign is simply changing the rules. Interesting. Last week we were hearing all about how nobody should dare question whether Palin is qualified, and now the campaign is acknowledging that she is incapable of even debating another politician. The hypocrisy is nearly as clear as seeing Russia from Alaska:

(NYT) The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.

Mr. Obama, shown in Florida on Friday, won an agreement for the first debates to be about foreign policy and national security.

At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

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

The wrangling was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for unpredictable questioning and challenges between the two vice-presidential candidates. On Wednesday, the commission unanimously rejected a proposal sought by advisers to Ms. Palin and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican presidential nominee, to have the moderator ask questions and the candidates answer, with no time for unfettered exchanges. Advisers to Mr. Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions. The upheaval in the financial markets has recast the race in recent days, moreover, which both sides believe will only heighten attention for the debates.

A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late Saturday morning. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thanks, AP

Urgent! We have no information! (From the AP wire feed, emphasis mine):

BC-AS--Koreas-Nuclear, 1st Ld-Writethru,0207
NKorea: Regime preparing to restart nuke facility

Eds: APNewsNow. UPDATES with White House reaction.

PANMUNJOM, Korea — A North Korean diplomat says the communist regime is undertaking "thorough preparations" to restart its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon.
Hyun Hak Bong has told reporters at the border Friday that North Korea stopped disabling the Yongbyon complex as previously agreed because the U.S. has not kept its end of a disarmament-for-aid deal.
He says "we are making thorough preparations to restart" the facility, but did not say when it would be running again.

The White House had no immediate reaction on the North Korean plans.

Hyun spoke before the start of talks at the border village of Panmunjom with South Korean officials on sending energy aid to the impoverished North amid a deadlock in the six-party disarmament talks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Palin: Too dumb to talk to reporters?

Sarah Palin's voice makes me want to tear my fucking eyeballs out. At least then I could convince myself that I'm not really witnessing the possibility that this dingbat will be our vice president and inadvertently trigger a war with Russia. For your enjoyment, a story about how Gov. Palin's own campaign is hiding her from the media, lest she accidentally shed light on the criminal investigation against her (or simply be exposed as a clueless fraud):

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Asked about her refusal to turn over e-mails to an Alaska investigator, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin looked up, smiled — and then stepped wordlessly into her waiting car.

Four days after leaving Alaska for her first solo campaign trip, Palin's hallmark is a disciplined adherence to a sparse public schedule. Appearances are few, interviews with the news media fewer still, and unscripted moments nonexistent.

She is frequently feisty in front of an audience, including Monday evening when she drew cheers as she laid into "far-East Coast politicians" who don't understand the need for control of coyotes or other predators. Or when her introduction of husband Todd as "first dude" evoked a few wolf whistles at a fundraiser.

But by the campaign's design, the self-described pitbull with lipstick, a history-making vice presidential candidate who has helped reshape the race for the White House, doesn't freelance.

"The American people are going to get to know Gov. Palin very well by the end of the campaign," says Steve Schmidt, the top strategist for presidential candidate John McCain. He said she has appeared in public nearly every day since her introduction as ticketmate more than two weeks ago, had a lengthy interview with ABC and been "delivering the reform and change message apart from John McCain and with John McCain."

In the coming days, he said, there will be more interviews, and Palin will join McCain for their first town hall-style appearance.

Yet some Republicans concede privately that Palin lacks familiarity with the numerous complex issues that she must deal with as the campaign progresses and question her readiness for high public office.

A gaffe could prove devastating to her and the ticket, they add. At the same time, she also must prepare for a nationally televised debate in October with her Democratic counterpart, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Several senior campaign officials accompanied Palin to Alaska recently for what amounted to a crash course in running for vice president, and the tutorial continues as she travels around the country.

"The campaign is not being run for the benefit of the press," says Rich Galen, a Republican strategist with extensive political experience. "The campaign is being run for the benefit of the campaign, and when everything is going well, then there is no need to change from what has been working."

Whatever concerns about Palin's readiness, the enthusiasm she has brought to McCain's candidacy is evident.

Polls nationally and in several key states show a swing toward McCain since she was added to the ticket, as conservatives warm to a politician they have long viewed warily. She is also the first woman running mate on a Republican ticket in history, making her a draw for female voters. The organizers of a fundraiser in Ohio where she spoke on Monday said the event raised nearly $1 million.

Yet surprisingly, even some of those who come to hear her speak temper their enthusiasm.

"She might not have the experience but a lot of people don't have experience when they take a job," said Candy Cartaya, a Cuban-American and retired accountant.

Loyal Merrick, a 32-year-old Denverite with his toddler daughter perched on his shoulders, said he has long admired McCain. "I think she's the style to his substance," he says. "She has about as much experience as (Barack) Obama does, so if you want to compare our No. 2 to their No. 1 I'm fine with that."

The governor faces an investigation back home into abuse-of-power allegations in connection with the firing of a state official, and her husband has been subpoenaed to testify in the probe.

Her views on numerous issues remain unknown. Her interview with ABC drew notice when she speculated about a possible war with Russia, and when she seemed to agree with Democratic presidential nominee Obama that U.S. troops should be permitted to cross into Pakistan to track terrorists.

Yet ironically, McCain himself was responsible for one of the ticket's most obvious public stumbles in recent days as he tried to take advantage of Palin's presence on his ticket.

Last week, he erroneously claimed she had never sought federal earmarks as governor, an assertion neither he nor his campaign disavowed. Asked about the issue on Monday, he said Obama had sought more earmarks than Palin. "The important thing is she's vetoed a half a billion dollars in earmark projects — far, far in excess of her predecessor and she's given money back to the taxpayers and she's cut their taxes, so I'm happy with her record," he said.

It's the type of questioning that the campaign has severely limited for Palin.

Since departing Alaska on Saturday for her first solo campaign trip, Palin has spoken before two rallies and appeared at a fundraiser.

After a speech in Carson City, Nev., on Saturday, she flew to Denver and made no public appearances on Sunday. She spoke in Colorado on Monday morning, then held her first solo fundraiser later in the day in Ohio. One scheduled interview was postponed due to storm-related damage. She has refused to answer shouted questions about issues ranging from the economy to the home-state investigation.

Aides keep reporters well away from her when she is campaigning, and also protect her privacy aboard her chartered campaign plane by pulling a curtain across the center aisle to separate the Palins and her top aides from the rest of the passengers.

Even Palin's carefully scripted moments can produce puzzlements.

"Too often, the government gets in the way when innovators take on cancer or Parkinson's or Alzheimer's," she told an audience in Golden, Colo. One aide suggested later that was a reference to federal earmarks that lawmakers sometimes insert into legislation, but the campaign provided no documentation for the claim.

Then, too, Palin seems to relish repeating claims that make selective use of undisputed facts. She told one audience she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere" that was intended to link a small Alaska village to its airport on a nearby island.

In reality, she welcomed federal funding for the project until it became a national symbol of wasteful spending.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I wish I could go on the Internet without seeing photos of talentless, anorexic celebrities. I really, really do.

I still hate the pope

Dateline, France: Pope Benedict XVI, aka Cardinal Ratfucker, crawls out from his palace to tell an adoring crowd of dying people that they should quit whining and just wait for God to kill them off. Also, he announced the Vatican would open a full and fair investigation into the plague of child molesters that is penetrating the ranks of the Catholic priesthood.

Quick, which part of that did I make up?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'd say she looks more like a horse

Hey, look, Gov. Sarah Palin is a lying bitch!

ANCHORAGE — When Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska took center stage at the Republican convention last week, she sought to burnish her executive credentials by telling how she had engineered the deal that jump-started a long-delayed gas pipeline project.

Stretching more than 1,700 miles, it would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states and be the largest private-sector infrastructure project on the continent.

“And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence,” said Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee. “That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.”

The reality, however, is far more ambiguous than the impression Ms. Palin has left at the convention and on the campaign trail.

Certainly she proved effective in attracting developers to a project that has eluded Alaska governors for three decades. But an examination of the pipeline project also found that Ms. Palin has overstated both the progress that has been made and the certainty of success.

The pipeline exists only on paper. The first section has yet to be laid, federal approvals are years away and the pipeline will not be completed for at least a decade. In fact, although it is the centerpiece of Ms. Palin’s relatively brief record as governor, the pipeline might never be built, and under a worst-case scenario, the state could lose up to $500 million it committed to defray regulatory and other costs. (Read the whole story)

Interestingly enough, Palin's puppet-masters have informed us that we should view the good governor's blatant lies "in context":

A spokesman for Ms. Palin, Bill McAllister, denied that her recent statements about the pipeline were misleading. He said they should be viewed within the context of the project’s long and frustrating history, dating back to the Carter administration.

“When the governor signed the legislation giving her administration the authority to grant the gas line license to TransCanada, Alaska came closer than it has ever been to seeing the project actually happen,” Mr. McAllister said. “There is no denying that a major milestone in the project has been reached.”

Oh, context you say? Then certainly this same standard should also apply to Barack Obama when he speaks his mind, like this:

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough," he exclaimed to a standing ovation.

Of course, that's the only part of his comments that the GOP character assassins want you to see. When when you add context, as Palin's own handlers tell us we should, you see his comments a bit differently:

"We've been talking about change when we were up in the polls and when we were down in the polls," Obama said as surveys suggested McCain has overhauled his lead for the November 4 election.

"The other side, suddenly, they're saying 'we're for change too.' Now think about it, these are the same folks that have been in charge for the last eight years," the Illinois senator told a crowd of 2,400 people in Lebanon, Virginia.

"You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough," he exclaimed to a standing ovation.

Clearly, reading that quote in context would lead to the obvious conclusion that he is referring to McCain/Palin's insane policies, and the pig/lipstick business is just a metaphor for sugar-coating terrible ideas that will ruin the country. The GOP hitmen couldn't possibly accuse him of personal attacks once they see the context, right?

Barack Obama spent much of the day defending himself against charges of sexism after a speech decrying Republican efforts to present themselves as agents of change. “You know, you can put lipstick on a pig,” he said on Tuesday to loud cheers and laughter, “but it’s still a pig.”

John McCain’s campaign said that this was a clear reference to Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential nominee, who told the Republican convention that the only difference between a “hockey mom” such as herself and a pitbull terrier was lipstick.

Huh. Well, so much for the importance of context. I guess Palin is a dirty liar after all, and Obama was literally referring to Palin as a "pig" -- which is, like, totally original, except for all the other people who have used the exact same phrase:

“I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig”
- John McCain, in October 2007, on Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan

“John Kerry tries to put a bunch of fancy, fancy talk . . . but there is nothing you can do to really - to really obscure that record. You can try, though . . . We call it putting lipstick on a pig”
- Lynne Cheney during the 2004 presidential campaign

“Mr President, it's not that easy. This town is full of people very experienced when it comes to putting lipstick on a pig”
- GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Washington in April 2004

Monday, September 8, 2008

That guy who was tortured/Palin '08

Oh boy! New poll numbers!

John McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by 50%-46% among registered voters, the Republican's biggest advantage since January and a turnaround from the USA TODAY poll taken just before the convention opened in St. Paul. Then, he lagged by 7 percentage points.
The only reasonable explanation, of course, is that 50% of likely American voters are straight from the tool factory.

(/shameless Maddox reference)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sky: Up? Ocean: Blue? Palin: Racist?

Who knows whether it's true, but it sounds about right for a relentless hick from Alaska (from LA Progressive. More on the link):

“So Sambo beat the bitch!”

This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.

“It was kind of disgusting,” Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the “lower 48” about life near the North Pole.

Then, almost with a sigh, she added, “But that’s just Alaska.”

Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.

Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.

But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg. According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We’re talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive.

No wonder the vast sea of white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it’s in their genetic code. So much for McCain’s pledge of a “high road” campaign; Palin is incapable of being part of one.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Summer's best comedy

The GOP convention, you ask? I don't think it could have been any more hilarious had the Apatow crew scripted it. It was like a cross between Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder: You had to be high to watch it, and it only had one black guy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Republican hypocrites: The only evidence you'll ever need

Now if Gov. Palin's 17-year-old daughter had Jon Stewart's baby, I wouldn't be complaining so much:

I still hate Sarah Palin

After spending most my recent years as a cynical political animal with a general suspicion and hatred of most elected officials -- especially evil, smug, two-faced, gun-toting fundamentalists -- I just donated money to a political campaign for the first time.

That's how much I despise Sarah Palin.

I'm running out of ways to describe my hatred for Sarah Palin

Not only is God hard at work punishing the gays and the ACLU, he's also holding out for that $30 billion Alaskan oil pipeline and crossing his fingers that America invades Middle Eastern countries and kills those motherfuckers. Right, Gov. Palin?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a "task that is from God."

In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it "God's will."

Palin asked the students to pray for the troops in Iraq, and noted that her eldest son, Track, was expected to be deployed there.

"Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God," she said. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's plan."

A video of the speech was posted at the Wasilla Assembly of God's Web site before finding its way on to other sites on the Internet.

Palin told graduating students of the church's School of Ministry, "What I need to do is strike a deal with you guys." As they preached the love of Jesus throughout Alaska, she said, she'd work to implement God's will from the governor's office, including creating jobs by building a pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to North American markets.

"God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that," she said.

"I can do my job there in developing our natural resources and doing things like getting the roads paved and making sure our troopers have their cop cars and their uniforms and their guns, and making sure our public schools are funded," she added. "But really all of that stuff doesn't do any good if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God."

Palin attended the evangelical church from the time she was a teenager until 2002, the church said in a statement posted on its Web site. She has continued to attend special conferences and meetings there. Religious conservatives have welcomed her selection as John McCain's running mate.

Rob Boston, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, lamented Palin's comments.

"I miss the days when pastors delivered sermons and politicians delivered political speeches," he said. "The United States is increasingly diverse religiously. The job of a president is to unify all those different people and bring them together around policy goals, not to act as a kind of national pastor and bring people to God."

The section of the church's Web site where videos of past sermons were posted was shut down Wednesday, and a message was posted saying that the site "was never intended to handle the traffic it has received in the last few days."

Sarah Palin is George W. Bush with a vagina. If elected, she will destroy any last hope of surviving the Republican era. I'm counting the days until she slithers back to her wasteland.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin sucks (and I tell you what I really think)

Five reasons why I hate Gov. Sarah Palin:

1. Sarah Palin is an insane religious fundamentalist who is overwhelmingly supported by the shameless fascists of the Christian Right. James Dobson, president of Intolerant Hicks for Jesus, emerged from his S&M dungeon to hail her as the saving grace of the McCain candidacy (he immediately returned to his cave, however, before the sunlight could melt his face). Rush Limbaugh stopped cramming cheeseburgers into his morbidly obese mouth long enough to label her a "babe." Certified Christian madman Gary Bauer called her a "grand slam home run." Most God-fearing zealots on the blogs view her as a saint because she steadfastly refused to get an abortion after finding out her (alleged) fifth child had Down syndrome. Wow, really? A young and popular Republican governor of a conservative state decided against an abortion? What a maverick! That must have been a really hard decision: a choice between swift and immediate political suicide or giving birth to a handicapped child. Boy, she must have good judgment!

2. Sarah Palin has spent a total of 12 years in elected office, 10 of them as a city councilor and mayor of an Alaskan village with 7,000 people, and the remaining two years as governor of a state famous for breeding two types of animal: caribou and corrupt politicians. She's been labeled as an independent-minded political bulldog because she defeated a member of her own party in an election after he spent his entire administration mired in various scandals and sinking deeper into unpopularity. Running on a platform of clean ethics, she proceeded to (allegedly) influence the firing of her sister's slightly unhinged ex-husband from the police department. She was also an early supporter of the 2006 "bridge to nowhere," which came to be a symbol of every slimeball fiscal tactic in all of Congress.

3. Sarah Palin is an idiot. Allegedly pregnant with her alleged fifth child, Palin flew from Texas to Alaska while in labor -- undoubtedly leaking amniotic fluid down those beauty queen legs -- so the alleged child could allegedly be born in Alaska instead of Texas. Who could blame her? Except it's a 12-hour flight. Also, she gave a speech before she left. Of course, this is assuming she even gave birth and is not covering up her teenage daughter's pregnancy, which you can giggle about here and here.

4. Sarah Palin represents the cynical Republican theory that female voters in America will blindly cast their vote for a politician who meets the simple qualification of possessing a vagina and squeezing out (allegedly) five children. Yet more proof that Republicans have utter contempt for the voting public. After spending the past decade demonizing Hillary Clinton for being a strong-willed woman, the Republicans have finally clarified their preference for a female candidate: A pretty face with too little political experience to get in the way of the men. However, it might be nice if our first female vice president has done more than sit in an office in the middle of a frigid wasteland and lobby for more oil drilling in Alaska.

5. Palin supports "teaching" intelligent design, which is just a thinly veiled fraud aimed at pushing religion in schools. Here's what she had to say about it:

Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information.

Healthy debate is so important and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.

And, you know, I say this, too, as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject — creationism and evolution.

It’s been a healthy foundation for me. But don’t be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.

Obviously, Palin's "science teacher" parent didn't pass on the point of science, which is to present theories about the physical world based on fact-based observations. You can't really have a debate when one side says "here's my theory, based on these various conclusions formed from an established scientific method" and the other side saying "an invisible man in the sky created everything because life is too complicated to be explained rationally, and to support my theory I have absolutely no evidence."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My millionaire candidate can beat up your millionaire candidate

I've been hearing all this noise lately about Barack Obama the elitist, and I'm confused. We are talking about the black guy, right? The guy who is fighting to lead a nation that hasn't mustered the courage to elect a nonwhite president in 219 years of representative democracy? The guy who moved from household to household in poor African and Indonesian cities while he was growing up? The guy who worked his way through college on scholarships and dedicated his early life to helping the poor in the slums of Chicago? The guy who is roughly $39 million poorer than John McCain and isn't fortunate enough to have a ranch in Arizona and a vacation house in Connecticut? I'm to believe this is the elitist in this race?

The fundamental problem is that conservatives have a poor understanding of elitism. To them, elitism is drinking expensive coffee, being educated at top-notch schools and voicing well-reasoned ideas about how to make America a better place (God forbid anybody assume America isn't a perfect free market paradise that is immune to change). This view of elitism infects conservative America to the point of absurdity. Consider Jonah Goldberg this week, talking about why Obama hasn't been polling so well:

Indeed, perhaps there’s no mystery at all, and Obama’s problems are the same problems Democrats always have at the presidential level: He’s an elitist.

Oh, I know. Upon reading that, some liberal spluttered herbal chai tea from her nose at the injustice of this whole elitist canard, and the earnest Ivy League interns at some liberal magazine have burst into laughter, offering the appropriate bons mots from Balzac at the preposterousness of such a suggestion, saying: “Don’t you conservatives understand? Democrats care about the little guy. They’re on the side of the proletariat — I mean workers — and as Obama has so eloquently put it, if the workers would only stop clinging to their silly sky god and guns, they’d understand that.”

What a convenient lie. Goldberg has succeeded in lumping all liberals into one stereotype -- the chai-drinking, Ivy-League-school attending, opinionated, secular know-it-all. Unfortunately, stereotyping is useless in any serious discussion about social trends. Surely these people exist, but certainly not universally. For instance, I share many of the same opinions on social matters as Obama, yet I attended the run-of-the-mill University of Oregon, I fucking hate chai and I say "fuck" a lot. I wonder: Am I what Goldberg has in mind, or is my personality not convenient enough to fit his ludicrous vision?

Conservatives are so drunk with ecstasy over the idea of fighting the haughty liberals who are trying to overthrow the nation that they can't take a look in the mirror. Sure, for Jonah Goldberg, the pinnacle of elitism is drinking herbal tea and going to a good school. But for my money, I'd say elitism is assuming the American standard of democracy is the purest form of government, and then invading other nations to force it down their throats. Or how about telling one segment of the populace that they aren't good enough to marry who they want. Or telling women they aren't up to the task of deciding whether they need the morning after pill. You want to talk about elitism? Let's talk about George W. Bush spending the past eight years subverting the Constitution, as though he's above such democratic foolishness. And I have no doubt that somewhere out there, a neocon is enjoying a fresh cup of herbal chai tea, while a Harvard frat boy majoring in Sociology is doing a Budweiser keg stand.

The point is that it doesn't fucking matter what you drink or where you go to school or even where you work. What matters are your actions -- and for the past eight years, Republicans have destroyed this nation with secretive spying programs, discriminatory laws, illegitimate wars, and handout after handout to corporate America. What is so elitist about seeking to end an era of government that has spit in the face of everything decent and good about America?

In the end, all conservatives have against Obama is his Harvard degree and his hope that a Democrat can salvage the steaming mess left behind by the Republicans. And, what the hell, I bet he even drinks regular coffee.

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's the infidelity, stupid

I give a lot of well-deserved flack to Republicans on this blog, but the reality is that if you're running for elected office -- or have attained such a role -- and you have either an R or a D next to your name, chances are you're either a shameless liar or devoted hypocrite.

Hilariously, all of this could be avoided if politicians had any clue about true American values. For instance, many men in America cheat on their wives with such frequency that most people have become numb to the concept (I'm not saying it's a good thing or that I would cheat on my wife, but there you have it). On the other hand, Americans continue to despise liars. With these two facts in mind, it floors me when politicians who cheat on their wives continue to lie about it, especially when it's the lie -- not the cheating -- that gets them impeached or tossed out of office or publicly crucified.

Good example: Bill Clinton. He would have happily served out his term of record budget surpluses without the threat of getting thrown out of office had he not lied about cheating on Hillary. He should have realized that sitting on one of the greatest economic booms in U.S. history -- one that ushered in a new technology age -- was about enough for Americans to overlook the whole cigar vagina thing. But no, he lied, and when elected officials are caught lying, it reminds Americans of the basic reality that politicians are just a bunch of crooks. As a result, Clinton had to spend his time trying not to get ejected from the White House instead of making the country even more ultra rich.

When John Edwards finally admitted last week to having an affair, it was far too late for him. Why? Because he lied about it a long time ago -- and continued to do so -- instead of saying "I did it and it was a mistake." If he had come out in the beginning when the questions first arose, he might have had a prayer to continue his political career anytime in the next 30 years. I say 30 years because that's how long ago John McCain was cheating on his wife, and look at him now. He's practically the fucking president of the United States. Which brings me to my second point: hypocrites.

Republicans could easily avoid the label if they would just shut the hell up about marital indiscretions. This is a political pastime that is enjoyed relentlessly by both parties, and when it comes to banging hot interns or trying to sleep with men at an airport, party affiliation is meaningless until one party tries to paint the other as morally corrupt. News flash: All you politicians all morally corrupt. Every last one of you. It's pointless to dwell on levels of moral corruptness when there's a damn good chance that "family values Republican" sitting next to you likes to be chained up in leather by Idaho's vast selection of hookers and beaten with a bull whip.

Of course, a secondary lesson could be learned from all this, if politicians weren't so incredibly dim. Here it is: The media always fucking win. If it's not The New York Times it will be the National Enquirer. Or maybe a guy named Drudge who started out with an e-mail list and outed Clinton's adventures in Monica Lewinksy. Or some rabidly disgruntled blogger. It doesn't matter. In the Internet age when everything a politician says is recorded and analyzed, lying is just a recipe for extinction. If you're elected, and you're going to sleep with someone other than your wife, then at least admit to it when we inevitably uncover your cheating ass -- have some dignity; save some face. It worked for John McCain.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My shortest movie review ever

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor:

Take every cliché ever used in an action movie. Add a mummy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fun with definitions

Hilarious (hi-lar-i-ous)
- adjective

1. Arousing great merriment; extremely funny.
2. Marked by or causing boisterous merriment or convulsive laughter.
3. At least 50 people have lost their sight after staring at the sun hoping to see an image of the Virgin Mary, according to reports.

Click for happiness