Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
For this act of conscience they lost their wages for the day. Let’s stand with them, and against slimy campaigning.
$9 will cover an hours wages — an hour they won’t be making slimy attack calls against Obama. $2,880 will cover the full day’s wages for all the workers who walked out. Nobody’s credit card will be charged till we reach our total goal.
Please give $9 (or more) to Support the Walk Out against Slime Calls. If we receive more than $2,880, we will make the funds available as a kind of “virtual strike fund” for any other walk outs that occur before Nov 4. You can donate here or by clicking on the "badge" in the upper right of my blog.
See full story here.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
ANCHORAGE (AP) — The Anchorage Daily News, Alaska's largest newspaper, has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.
The newspaper said Sunday the Democrat "brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand."
The Daily News said since the economic crisis has emerged, Republican presidential candidate John McCain has "stumbled and fumbled badly" in dealing with it.
"Of the two candidates, Sen. Obama better understands the mortgage meltdown's root causes and has the judgment and intelligence to shape a solution, as well as the leadership to rally the country behind it," the paper said.
The Daily News said Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has shown the country why she is a success as governor. But the paper said few would argue that Palin is truly ready to step into the job of being president despite her passion, charisma and strong work ethic.
"Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency — but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation," the paper said.
"Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time," the paper concluded.
The Rise of the Obamacons
A striking number of conservatives are planning to vote for Obama
Oct 23rd 2008
From The Economist print edition
IN “W.”, his biopic about his Yale classmate, Oliver Stone details Colin Powell’s agonies during George Bush’s first term. Throughout the film Mr Powell repeatedly raises doubts about the invasion of Iraq—and is repeatedly overruled by the ghoulish trio of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove. In one of the final scenes, with his direst warnings proving correct, Mr Powell turns to Mr Cheney and delivers a heartfelt “Fuck you”.
The real Colin Powell used more diplomatic language in endorsing Barack Obama on October 19th, but the impact was much the same. Mr Obama is a “transformational figure”, he mildly said, and his old friend John McCain had erred in choosing a neophyte as a running-mate. But you would have to be naive not to see the endorsement as a verdict on the Bush years.
Mr Powell is now a four-star general in America’s most surprising new army: the Obamacons. The army includes other big names such as Susan Eisenhower, Dwight’s granddaughter, who introduced Mr Obama at the Democratic National Convention and Christopher Buckley, the son of the conservative icon William Buckley, who complains that he has not left the Republican Party: the Republican Party has left him. Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska and one-time bosom buddy of Mr McCain has also flirted heavily with the movement, though he has refrained from issuing an official endorsement.
The biggest brigade in the Obamacon army consists of libertarians, furious with Mr Bush’s big-government conservatism, worried about his commitment to an open-ended “war on terror”, and disgusted by his cavalier way with civil rights. There are two competing “libertarians for Obama” web sites. CaféPress is even offering a “libertarian for Obama” lawn sign for $19.95. Larry Hunter, who helped to devise Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America in 1994, thinks that Mr Obama can free America from the grip of the “zombies” who now run the Republican Party.
But the army has many other brigades, too: repentant neocons such as Francis Fukuyama, legal scholars such as Douglas Kmiec, and conservative talk-show hosts such as Michael Smerconish. And it is picking up unexpected new recruits as the campaign approaches its denouement. Many disillusioned Republicans hoped that Mr McCain would provide a compass for a party that has lost its way, but now feel that the compass has gone haywire. Kenneth Adelman, who once described the invasion of Iraq as a “cakewalk”, decided this week to vote for Mr Obama mainly because he regards Sarah Palin as “not close to being acceptable in high office”.
The rise of the Obamacons is more than a reaction against Mr Bush’s remodelling of the Republican Party and Mr McCain’s desperation: there were plenty of disillusioned Republicans in 2004 who did not warm to John Kerry. It is also a positive verdict on Mr Obama. For many conservatives, Mr Obama embodies qualities that their party has abandoned: pragmatism, competence and respect for the head rather than the heart. Mr Obama’s calm and collected response to the turmoil on Wall Street contrasted sharply with Mr McCain’s grandstanding.
Much of Mr Obama’s rhetoric is strikingly conservative, even Reaganesque. He preaches the virtues of personal responsibility and family values, and practises them too. He talks in uplifting terms about the promise of American life. His story also appeals to conservatives: it holds the possibility of freeing America from its racial demons, proving that the country is a race-blind meritocracy and, in the process, bankrupting a race-grievance industry that has produced the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
How much do these Obamacons matter? More than Mr McCain would like to think. The Obamacons are manifestations of a deeper turmoil in the Republican rank-and-file, as the old coalition of small-government activists, social conservatives and business Republicans falls apart. They also influence opinion. This is obvious in the case of Mr Powell: Mr Obama is making liberal use of his endorsement to refute the latest Republican criticism that he is a “socialist”. But it is also true of lesser-known scribblers. At least 27 newspapers that backed Mr Bush in 2004 have endorsed Mr Obama.
Moreover, the revolt of the intellectuals is coinciding with a migration of culturally conservative voters—particularly white working-class voters—into Obamaland. Mr Obama is now level-pegging or leading among swing-groups such as Catholics and working-class whites. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll shows him winning 22% of self-described conservatives, a higher proportion than any Democratic nominee since 1980.
Don’t blame the rats
The more tantalising question is whether the rise of the Obamacons signals a lasting political realignment. In 1980 the rise of the neocons—liberal intellectuals who abandoned a spineless Democratic Party—was reinforced by the birth of working class “Reagan Democrats”. Is the Reagan revolution now going into reverse? There are reasons for scepticism. Will libertarians really stick with “Senator Government”, as Mr McCain labelled Mr Obama in the best slip of the tongue of the campaign? Will economic conservatives cleave to a president who believes in “spreading the wealth around”?
Much depends on how Mr Obama governs if he wins, and how the Republicans behave if they lose. Mr Obama talks about creating an administration of all the talents. He promises to take the cultural anxieties of Reagan Democrats seriously. For their part, hard-core Republicans are handling their party’s travails abysmally, retreating into elite-bashing populism and denouncing the Obamacons as “rats” who are deserting a sinking ship. If the Republican Party continues to think that the problem lies with the rats, rather than the seaworthiness of the ship, then the Obamacons are here to stay.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
It tells the compelling story of both candidates in the presidential campaign.
The video is 1 hour and 56 minutes long.
- Charging taxpayer's for her family's travel expenses
- Buying $150K of clothing from fancy East Coast clothing stores.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I loved this piece in the L.A. times which reports that while Sarah Palin bills herself as a simple small-town "Hockey Mom" she is wearing thousands of dollars of designer labels from Saks 5th Avenue, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, etc. I guess she really is an East Coast Elitist after all.
Sarah Palin's $150,000 Wardrobe Malfunction?
So it seems you can take the girl out of the beauty pageant, but you can’t take the beauty pageant out of the girl.
Palin's clothes came from retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York, and expenses included nearly $5,000 for hair and makeup. Maybe this is actually her one-woman economic stimulus plan. Lord knows the retail sector needs it.
Still, voters must find it unfathomable for Palin, who has been presented as a woman “like us,” to spend that kind of money on clothes in these difficult financial times, to see her speaking so passionately about Joe the Plumber while plumbing campaign coffers for Valentino jackets and pencil skirts. And yet, they’ve eaten it up, tittering on chat sites about Palin’s Kawasaki eyeglass frames and her Naughty Monkey red peep-toe pumps.
Friday, October 17, 2008
1) This presidential election affects the entire world, not just the U.S. - and
2) Obama is preferred 4 to 1 over McCain outside the U.S.
The World's Election
Timothy Garton Ash, SF Chronicle
Thursday, October 16, 2008
From my observation perch in Stanford, and as an English European turned 24/7-cable news-Webcast junkie, I notice that many Americans still suffer from a touching delusion that this is their election. How curious. Don't they understand? This is our election. The world's election. Our future depends on it, and we live it as intensely as Americans do. All we lack is the vote.Timothy Garton Ash is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and professor of European Studies at Oxford University. His most recent book is "Free World." This piece will appear in the forthcoming election issue of the New York Review of Books.
The world may not have a vote, but it has a candidate. A BBC World Service poll, conducted across 22 countries this summer, found Barack Obama was preferred to John McCain by a ratio of 4 to 1. Nearly half those asked said an Obama victory would "fundamentally change" their perception of the United States. And it certainly needs changing. Over the two terms of President Bush, the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a series of worldwide public opinion surveys, has documented what anyone who travels around the world knows: a substantial fall in the standing, credibility, attractiveness, and therefore power of the United States.
In the American context, Obama is black or African American. His candidacy exposes yet again how that thing anachronistically called race - meaning the legacy of slavery and segregation - is the hidden warp and woof of American politics. In the international context, Obama is three other things. First, he's one of us - the child of an increasingly mixed-up world, now aspiring to be the most powerful man in it. A true cosmopolitan: not just African American but also a little bit each of Hawaiian, Kenyan, Kansan, Indonesian. Second, he's not Bush. McCain is not Bush either, but a lot less not-Bush. Finally, he personifies everything that foreigners still love about America.
Back in Oxford, and traveling around Europe, I constantly meet young people who have grown up furious at the United States. "You know, I'm very pro-European," one British student informed me. Stirred by this rarity - a pro-European Brit - I asked why she was pro-European. "Oh, I guess mainly because I'm anti-American." But she wasn't really anti-American. I would bet my bottom euro that she's an Obamaniac now.
Culturally, socially and aesthetically, he represents the America that is deep in young Europeans' everyday imaginations, transported there by the soft power of American films, music, literature, and television series such as "Friends," "ER," "The West Wing," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and even "Star Trek," together with serial abuse of the word "like": You can hear it at any coffee shop in Oxford, and the speaker may be Slovak, German or Chinese. That someone from Obama's modest migrant background can make it this far also revives a potent, positive image of the United States as a land of opportunity - an American self-image that much of the world has internalized, however little it corresponds with the statistically recorded facts of limited social mobility.
Were he elected, we would discover within a few months how much of the worldwide hostility loosely tagged anti-Americanism really was anti-Americanism, and how much was just a violent allergy, shared by many Americans, to a particular president, a specific set of policies, and a certain version of Americanism. Yet this very popularity of one candidate raises the stakes in this election to an alarming degree.
Just because international hopes have been raised so high, the disappointment if Obama fails will be devastating. The shock will be even greater because of McCain's choice of Sarah Palin - who, like Bush, reinforces every European cliche about the otherness (cowboyness, hickiness, wackiness) of Americans. This disappointment might be unfair to the likely content of a McCain foreign policy, but in international politics, as in financial markets, the perceptions are a large part of the reality. If Americans were to choose McCain-Palin, after re-electing Bush in 2004, I don't think it's too much to say that a lot of Europeans would feel like giving up on them. Of course European governments wouldn't, and couldn't afford to, give up on Washington; but they would have to operate within the constraining reality of popular disillusionment.
This would matter to the United States at the best of times. It will matter a lot more in these times. Even before the financial crisis, the list of problems piling up for the new president's in-boxes (both the one marked Urgent and the one marked Important, to recall John F. Kennedy's distinction) was already formidable. Even before this crisis added perhaps a trillion dollars to an already staggering national debt, the relative power of the United States to achieve its goals on its own - unilaterally - had significantly diminished over the last eight years, also because of the renaissance of great powers such as China and Russia. Somewhere around 2000 may be marked by future historians as the zenith of American power. In such a world, the need for allies and international credibility is greater than ever.
The Class War Before Palin
By DAVID BROOKS, NY Times
Published: October 9, 2008
Modern conservatism began as a movement of dissident intellectuals. Richard Weaver wrote a book called, “Ideas Have Consequences.” Russell Kirk placed Edmund Burke in an American context. William F. Buckley famously said he’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard. But he didn’t believe those were the only two options. His entire life was a celebration of urbane values, sophistication and the rigorous and constant application of intellect.Sarah Six-Pack is getting a bit stale
Driven by a need to engage elite opinion, conservatives tried to build an intellectual counter-establishment with think tanks and magazines. They disdained the ideas of the liberal professoriate, but they did not disdain the idea of a cultivated mind.
Ronald Reagan was no intellectual, but he had an earnest faith in ideas and he spent decades working through them. He was rooted in the Midwest, but he also loved Hollywood. And for a time, it seemed the Republican Party would be a broad coalition — small-town values with coastal reach.
In 1976, in a close election, Gerald Ford won the entire West Coast along with northeastern states like New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine. In 1984, Reagan won every state but Minnesota.
But over the past few decades, the Republican Party has driven away people who live in cities, in highly educated regions and on the coasts. This expulsion has had many causes. But the big one is this: Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare. Democrats kept nominating coastal pointy-heads like Michael Dukakis so Republicans attacked coastal pointy-heads.
Over the past 15 years, the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Sixpacks in the heartland and the oversophisticated, overeducated, oversecularized denizens of the coasts.
What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole. The liberals had coastal condescension, so the conservatives developed their own anti-elitism, with mirror-image categories and mirror-image resentments, but with the same corrosive effect.
Republicans developed their own leadership style. If Democratic leaders prized deliberation and self-examination, then Republicans would govern from the gut.
George W. Bush restrained some of the populist excesses of his party — the anti-immigration fervor, the isolationism — but stylistically he fit right in. As Fred Barnes wrote in his book, “Rebel-in-Chief,” Bush “reflects the political views and cultural tastes of the vast majority of Americans who don’t live along the East or West Coast. He’s not a sophisticate and doesn’t spend his discretionary time with sophisticates. As First Lady Laura Bush once said, she and the president didn’t come to Washington to make new friends. And they haven’t.”
The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.
The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community.
Conservatives are as rare in elite universities and the mainstream media as they were 30 years ago. The smartest young Americans are now educated in an overwhelmingly liberal environment.
This year could have changed things. The G.O.P. had three urbane presidential candidates. But the class-warfare clichés took control. Rudy Giuliani disdained cosmopolitans at the Republican convention. Mitt Romney gave a speech attacking “eastern elites.” (Mitt Romney!) John McCain picked Sarah Palin.
Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the “normal Joe Sixpack American” and the coastal elite.
She is another step in the Republican change of personality. Once conservatives admired Churchill and Lincoln above all — men from wildly different backgrounds who prepared for leadership through constant reading, historical understanding and sophisticated thinking. Now those attributes bow down before the common touch.
And so, politically, the G.O.P. is squeezed at both ends. The party is losing the working class by sins of omission — because it has not developed policies to address economic anxiety. It has lost the educated class by sins of commission — by telling members of that class to go away.
By LEONARD PITTS JR.
Maybe you remember Dave. It was a 1993 movie starring Kevin Kline as Dave Kovic, an everyday guy who happens to be a dead ringer for the president. When the chief executive is stricken, his aides secretly recruit Dave to fill in for him. Problem is, Dave quickly begins to lose himself in the role. There's a wonderful scene where, trying to find money in the federal budget to fund a homeless shelter, Dave turns to his friend Murray, an accountant, for help.
''Who does these books?'' asks Murray after taking an adding machine to the budget. ``If I ran my business this way, I'd be out of business.''
Like Mr. Smith Goes To Washington in 1939, Dave's central conceit is that what Washington needs is a jolt of reality from everyday people. As a movie, that's a charming idea. As real life, it has proven frightening and bizarre.
But we will talk more about Sarah Palin in a moment.
First, let's concede the obvious: Every politician wants to be seen as Everyman or woman. That's why every primary season brings the curious sight of millionaires in plaid shirts wandering through county fairs eating fried things on sticks. It's why Hillary Clinton hit that bar and Barack Obama went bowling, badly.
In that sense, Sarah Six-Pack is nothing new. The ''g'' droppin', moose shootin', eye-winkin' hockey mom has plenty of antecedents. But there's a difference. Those antecedents were smart, wonkish people pretending to be one of us. Sarah Palin is one of us.
And by ''us,'' I don't mean you, necessarily, or me. I mean the lowest common denominator us, the us of myth and narrative, the us of simple mind, the reactionary, ill-informed, impatient with complexity, utterly shallow us.
You think that's mean? Go back and look at the Katie Couric interviews again. Or the Charlie Gibson interview. I don't know about you, but I want a vice president who can identify Supreme Court rulings she disagrees with. Or define the Bush Doctrine. Or name a newspaper. Or -- heck, I'm not picky -- construct an intelligible English language sentence.
Even many of her most ardent admirers no longer dispute that Sarah Six-Pack is, shall we say, incurious. What's striking is how little that seems to matter. A McCain spokeswoman suggested before the vice presidential debate that it would be unfair to question Palin, a woman who could be president, too closely on foreign policy. And when thinking conservatives (remember when the adjective was not necessary?) like Kathleen Parker and David Brooks declared Palin unfit for office, they were shouted down by their ideological brethren. Parker got e-mail she called ''vicious and threatening.'' Brooks was dismissed by another pundit as a ``conservative intellectual.''
You're left to wonder when intellectuals -- thinking people, for goodness sake! -- became the enemy. Are we to regard unthinking conservatives (will that adjective soon be superfluous?) as the only true conservatives? Indeed, the only true Americans?
One gets that sense from Palin's recent campaign appearances. Her attacks have grown increasingly strident and divorced from reality as John McCain's poll numbers have gone south.
She blames Katie Couric, and not herself, for her inability to answer fair questions. She frames Obama as some exotic unknown with terrorist associations.
And the rabble duly rouses. They boo Couric, which is not unlike booing Mickey Mouse. They scream death threats. Someone addresses an African-American sound man for one of the networks with a racial epithet and screams, ``Sit down, boy!''
There is an ugliness here. It is disguised as decency, disguised as politics, but it is only ugliness, mean and raw and given license by the desperation of a man who used to be honorable and a woman who said she was just like us.
And for the record: It's not a movie.
I only wish it were.
Senator Lindsey Graham, right, in an interview discussed a tax plan by Senator John McCain that his campaign later disavowed.
No New Economic Proposal Expected From McCain
By JACKIE CALMES, NY Times
Published: October 12, 2008
WASHINGTON — Despite signals that Senator John McCain would have new prescriptions for the economic crisis after a weekend of meetings, his campaign said Sunday that Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, would not have any more proposals this week unless developments call for some.
The signs of internal confusion came as the campaign was under pressure from state party leaders to sharpen his message on the economy and at least blunt the advantage that Democrats traditionally have on the issue in hard times. Republicans have grown fretful as Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, has edged ahead in polls three weeks before the election, while Mr. McCain has veered between ill-received economic plans and attacks on Mr. Obama’s character.
Mr. McCain took a break Sunday from filming campaign advertisements and practicing for a final debate with Mr. Obama on Wednesday to cheer volunteers at a phone bank near his Northern Virginia headquarters. Mr. McCain told them he planned to “whip his you-know-what in this debate.” The group erupted with laughter and applause.
On Saturday, his advisers were considering a range of economic ideas, one indicated. On Sunday, on the CBS News program “Face the Nation,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a confidant of Mr. McCain, confirmed a report on Politico.com that Mr. McCain was weighing proposals to cut taxes on investors’ capital gains and dividends. “It will be a very comprehensive approach to jump-start the economy,” Mr. Graham said, “by allowing capital to be formed easier in America by lowering taxes.”
But McCain advisers later said they did not know why Mr. Graham said that. One noted that Mr. McCain’s economic plan already would cut capital gains and dividend tax rates, by extending President Bush’s 2003 tax cuts. At the phone bank, Mr. McCain declined to answer a question from a reporter about what he was considering.
“We do not have any immediate plans to announce any policy proposals outside of the proposals that John McCain has announced, and the certain proposals that would result as economic news continues to come our way,” said a campaign spokesman, Tucker Bounds. Mr. McCain’s policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, said, “I have no comment on anything, to anybody.”
Rarely have presidential campaigns had to react so close to an election to so serious a crisis as the global economic panic. Both candidates are struggling to look like leaders, without impeding the efforts of those in charge. By nearly all accounts and in recent polls, Mr. Obama has received higher marks for projecting calm and consistency while Mr. McCain has been criticized as flailing.
“At this point I don’t think McCain can say anything on the economy that will sound credible,” said Bruce Bartlett, a former economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan and President George Bush.
Mr. McCain continued to draw criticism for his announcement last week that, as president, he would have the Treasury buy troubled mortgages at face value and give qualified homeowners instead government-guaranteed, low-interest mortgages based on their residences’ reduced value. After first saying lenders would pay the difference, the next day the McCain campaign said taxpayers would.
On the ABC News program “This Week” on Sunday, the second-ranking House Republican leader, Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, suggested, as the Obama campaign has, that the McCain mortgage proposal was unnecessary because the concept was “essentially in several pieces of law already” and wrong to leave taxpayers with the cost.
“Somebody needs to take the loss here, and it needs to be the person that had the bad judgment of making that loan, of buying those poorly put-together mortgage-backed securities,” Mr. Blunt said. “It shouldn’t be loss borne by the taxpayer.”
Both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama plan speeches Monday on the economy. Mr. Obama, at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, will suggest ways to build on the government’s plan to inject capital into banks to ease the credit crisis, an adviser said.
Mr. McCain will be in North Carolina and Virginia, states that Republicans can normally count on but where Mr. Obama is showing strength. In his visit with volunteers on Sunday, Mr. McCain acknowledged that “the economy has hurt us a little bit in the last week or two” and that he was “a couple points down” in national polls.
But he said he would rebound because voters “want knowledge and they want vision.”
Elisabeth Bumiller and Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I liked this column so much that I have pasted it here in it's entirety. You can read the commentary, etc at this location:
A Conservative for Obama
My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.
Leading Off By Wick Allison, Editor In Chief, D Magazine
THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.
In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.
Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.
Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.
But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.
Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.
This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.
Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.
“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Zack Stalberg worked as a journalist for more than 30 years before becoming president of the Committee of Seventy.
Fresh Air from WHYY, October 8, 2008 · Fliers warning that people with outstanding warrants or unpaid parking tickets could be arrested if they show up at the polls on election day appeared recently in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Zach Stalberg, the president of the nonpartisan watchdog group Committee of Seventy, suggests that a Republican Party supporter may have posted the fliers in an effort discourage voters.
A native Philadelphian, Stalberg was the editor of the Philadelphia Daily News for 20 years. In 2005, he became president of the Committee of Seventy, a group founded in 1904 with a mission to improve the Philadelphia region by fighting corruption and demanding ethical conduct of public officials.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Before Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,
Before AIG and the $700 Billion Bailout,
There was the Keating Savings and Loan scandal.
Guess who was right in the middle of it?
35 Second Preview Video:
Full 13 Minute Documentary:
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
By Tim Wise
For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.
White privilege is:
- when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.
- when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.
- when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.
- when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”
- being able to say that you support the words “under God”
- in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), you're a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.
- being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.
- being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.
- being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives near Russia, you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
- being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”
- being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.
- when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.
- being able to give a 36-minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.
- being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.
- not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
- being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an "average guy," while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you "uppity" and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.
- being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.), and that's OK, and you're still cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.
- being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."
- when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point.
- being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you dangerously naive and immature.
- being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.
- being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.
White privilege is, in short, the problem.
How Racism Works
What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said "I do" to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer
measured up to his standards?
What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain
killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5?
What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?
If these questions reflected reality, do you think the polls would be as
close as they are?
What is it that rationalizes and minimizes a black candidate's positive
qualities and qualifications?
You're The Boss ... which team would you hire with America facing historic
debt, two wars (to date), stumbling health care, a weak dollar, all-time
high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc?
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science; specialization in
Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism
Here's some great stuff from their "List of Lies" page:
World Wide Web of Lies
It's tough to keep up with the "blizzard of lies" coming from the McCain campaign, but here are a few sites that can help :
"Unraveling the myth of the Straight Talk Express"-- an Obama campaign memo, posted on the TIME Magazine site, lays out Myth & Fact in detail
McCain-i-pedia's "Count the Lies"
LieCount - More GOP Whoppers
"Lies to Nowhere" -- Think Progress tracks all the lies about the Bridge to Nowhere.
We have an economic Crisis.
What's McCain's Response -Lie!
Our economy is in crisis and all John McCain can do is lie. He's making the totally false case that Barack Obama doesn't have a plan for the economic crisis. "Senator Obama," he says, "has still not offered any plan of any kind." In fact Obama has offered a plan. And its McCain that has been notably short on details on how he would handle this crisis.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sarah Palin has been learning from her mentor John McCain about how to spread lies and smears about their opponent, taking a page from the Bush-Rove-Swift-Boating-Playbook.
Why would they do this? Because they are scared - they know they are LOSING!!
As Yahoo News reports:
While it is known that Obama and Ayers live in the same Chicago neighborhood, served on a charity board together and had a fleeting political connection, it's a stretch of any reading of the public record to say the pair ever palled around. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts.MSNBC adds:
Nonetheless, Palin made the comments at two appearances in separate states.
"Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country," Palin told a rally of about 10,000 gathered at a tennis stadium in Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles.
That echoed comments she made earlier in the day to donors at a private airport in Englewood, Colo.: "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."
Falling behind Obama in polls, the Republican campaign plans to make attacks on Obama's character a centerpiece of candidate John McCain's message in the final weeks of the presidential race. Coming late in the campaign, Palin's remark could be particularly incendiary, however, and could knock Obama off his focus on the troubled economy.
At issue is Obama's association with Ayers. Both have served on the same Chicago charity and live near each other in Chicago. Ayers also held a meet-the-candidate event at his home for Obama when Obama first ran for office in the mid-1990s, the event cited by Palin.Why do I say that they are losing? I'll write more in my next post.
In February, Obama strategist David Axelrod told the Politico Web site: "Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together."
But while Ayers and Obama are acquainted, the charge that they "pal around" is a stretch of any reading of the public record. And it's simply wrong to suggest that they were associated while Ayers was committing terrorist acts. Obama was 8 years old at the time the Weather Underground claimed credit for numerous bombings and was blamed for a pipe bomb that killed a San Francisco policeman.
At a rally in North Carolina, Obama countered that McCain and his campaign "are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance." The Democrat described the criticism as "Swiftboat-style attacks on me," a reference to the unsubstantiated allegations about 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry's decorated military record in Vietnam.