Why We Need a New Political Party

The abyss created by America’s recent culture wars only grows deeper as it divides the far-right Republicans and those who are conservative, but socially liberal. My own father, for example, is a lifelong Republican, yet he doesn’t support the socially conservative agenda being pushed by his party’s vice presidential and presidential candidates. The disparity between the two groups of conservatives has only grown wider with this election, and now, cautious fiscal conservatives are no longer represented by the party that has instead adopted a slash-and-burn approach to economic policy (i.e. McCain’s proposed spending freeze). In much the same way, fiscal conservatives/social liberals no longer have a political party that truly represents them. They are now forced to choose between two candidates who they don’t feel strongly about one way or another. I would recommend that independents and fiscal conservatives/social liberals form their own political party. Hopefully, the extremist philosophy of social conservatism would fade away election after election, leaving the U.S. without the ideological dead weight that inhibits societal progress.

The Third “Red Scare”

The liberal-hating witch hunt has begun, courtesy of McCain-Palin ’08.

But this isn’t the first time Republicans have appealed to the mob-forming instinct of a certain sect of low-information voters. Let’s think back to a time of poodle skirts and greased lightning…

In 1950, Sen. Joseph McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of intense anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War. He claimed that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government and elsewhere. During this time, referred to sometimes as the “Second Red Scare,” many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning. The primary targets of these suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. In other words, liberals.

On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman called for a movement by the media to investigate liberals (or “extreme leftists,” as she put it) in the Senate and Congress to see whether or not they were “Anti-American.” The new robo-calls by the McCain campaign accuse Barack Obama of being friends with people who “kill Americans.” I have now seen multiple Republican politicians refer to liberals and, more specifically, Barack Obama, as “Anti-American.”

So will someone please enlighten me, poor, unrepentantly “leftist” gal that I am, as to how eliminating women’s right to choose, sending AMERICANS to die for a war based on exaggerated evidence, creating a healthcare plan that ignores the plight of those who can’t afford health insurance, inciting radical right wing mobs under the slogan that the Democratic opponent is “palling around with terrorists” when that “terrorist” (singular) is now repentant, rehabilitated and an advocate for social reform, is “pro American”?

But clearly, these Republican politicians I’ve mentioned don’t believe in rehabilitation and reform. If they did, they’d try it with our country.

Biden, presidential? “You betcha!”

World, please don’t wink at me, say the words “betcha,” “ain’t,” “darn,” or stare at me unblinkingly with a bemused, brainwashed-looking smile. If, however, you absolutely insist on making a hillbilly caricature of yourself in my presence, I may have to resort to physical violence to preserve my sanity. Last night’s cringe-inducing responses from the clearly unqualified Alaska governor Sarah Palin made me want to vomit, especially given the knowledge that she may be (God forbid!) President one day.

While Joe Biden gave strong, substantive, specific answers debunking the “maverick” myth, the “we’re reformers” myth, and the “we’re not like Bush” myth with a forceful but calm delivery, Palin transformed herself into a cartoon. The fact that she believes she can appeal to mainstream America by dumbing everything down is an insult.  Sarah dear, you can “say it ain’t so” all you want, but it’s fairly obvious that you have only a tangential grasp of policy at best, and that you were very well trained by those GOP ideologues that gave you those flashcards to practice with.

It’s interesting that now, Obama/Biden looks like the “safer” ticket to vote for, with the McCain/Palin ticket looking like a risk, which it is.

While Palin didn’t trip, start weeping, or throw her frameless glasses to the ground in frustration, she most certainly didn’t do well. Let’s look at this analytically: If Palin were a man, and if she hadn’t just had an incredibly embarrassing week, pundits would be tearing apart her performance en masse like my fat chihuahua tears apart my old beanie babies.

It’s clear which candidate looked ready to step in for the president if need be. I’ll give you a hint: It’s not the folksy cliche machine otherwise known as “Hockey Mom,” “Maverick,” or “Joe Sixpack.”

Liar, Liar- Will it Backfire?

For someone who claims to want to take politics out of the current bailout plan, John McCain was able to put politics right back into the equation. First, like a schoolyard bully, McCain practically dared Obama to be as “take charge” as he is. By that, I mean John McCain tried to take control of his dwindling poll numbers by looking like an altruist. America, don’t be fooled. John McCain called our economic state a “crisis” last week- yet it was only when the new ABC poll (in which McCain was 9 points down) was showed, that he decided to “suspend” his campaign.  He managed to do several network interviews and spend some time at home, yet somehow an actual substantive debate is tacky when the economy is crashing and burning. When McCain went to Washington, he didn’t make the bailout a shining example of bipartisanship as he promised- rather he walked in on an already bipartisan agreement, introduced a very partisan new idea, and proceeded to undo the past six days’ work within a couple hours. At the comedic farce that was his meeting with Bush this morning, McCain spoke just once and only for a couple minutes. Did he redeem his lack of input with a stunning, “maverick” style new idea? Of course not.

In short, John McCain put his own potical gain over the very real needs of our country. But never fear, McCain has Sarah Palin to lean on. She knows a thing or two about the economy- As governor of Alaska, she saved money by making women pay for rape kits!

As Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel said- in the name of progress, he stalled it. he claimed to take politics out of it and put politics right back into it.

As I said- Liar, liar.

“I’m an Older, Whiter Obama.”

McCain’s speech last night was a strange speech. Whoever wrote the speech did a terrible job, because it made McCain look unenthusiastic about his own candidacy. He isn’t known for his oratorical skills, but the speech lacked any overriding theme that could serve as an argument for the Republican “cause,” and it featured a few choice lies about his political record and that of Sarah Palin, as well. McCain wants to be seen as a lobbyist-bashing, reform minded Conservative, when in fact a lobbyist wrote his economic policy, he voted with Bush 95% of the time, and he is willing to adopt the very economic policy he once criticized as being “unfair to the middle class”. “Straight Talk”? Please.

The speech can be summarized like this: “I will change Washington by fighting against the special interests. I will fight for you. I will fight for America. We’ll all fight, fight, fight. Change is coming. It’s time to change politics as usual. It’s time to lessen the influence of the lobbyists in Washington. Fight, fight fight. I’ll never stop fighting for you because I’m a fighter. I remember a Latino man from Michigan…”

OH MY GOD! IT’S BARACK OBAMA AND HILLARY CLINTON’S LOVE CHILD!

Political Ambition First. Country? Not So Much.

During the entire Republican Convention, not once was the plight of the increasingly polarized condition of our economy mentioned, but the Iraq war was called “a mission from God.”

While Sarah Palin tried to paint Barack Obama as a celebrity who stands for nothing and scorns small town America, she avoided ever talking about how exactly a McCain/Palin administration would, as she put it, “Shake up Washington.” Here’s how they really plan to instigate “reform”:

1. the Global Gag Rule, a measure to cut funding of aid organizations in developing nations if they so much as advise women on birth control, will be made permanent. This shows how out of touch McCain and Palin are, because one of the keys to making a developing nation developed is to help with population control and to empower the women of that country. Don’t worry, Sarah, I’m sure God would approve a woman’s use of birth control if it would mean that she wouldn’t bear a child who would almost surely die of starvation or disease.

2. The Bush economic policies would remain in place. As McCain vowed, “I will not let the Democrats overturn the Bush tax cuts.” Like Bush, he will pour billions of dollars into tax breaks for the wealthy and large corporations. While trickle down economics has worked in the past, it certainly hasn’t been working for the past eight years, and to promise that everything will be different when everything is, in fact, the same, is just misleading. While you could argue that everyday people will end up paying more for consumer goods if the large corporations are taxed more and hike up their prices, big corporations are much more able to absorb taxes than everyday people just trying to get by. If you want to see an increase in the price of consumer goods, just look at what we have now. It is NOT working and will not work even if a different crusty old man implements it.

3. Pretending that a McCain Palin ticket is going to be better for the environment than an Obama Biden ticket is utter nonsense. Palin herself denies that humans are the cause of climate change and openly disputed the US government’s own findings so that drilling could occur in Alaska. Palin and McCain’s “let’s scorch the earth first” agenda is not going to help us in the long run. The idea that gas prices will go down if we drill is misleading because oil companies can still raise prices, and knowing them, they most definitely will.

4. If McCain really supported the troops, he would have supported the GI Bill. There’s a reason that deployed soldiers support Obama 6:1. Why? Because they know he cares about them enough to give them the benefits they deserve. Obama won’t, as McCain did, argue that the GI bill should be based on how many years someone is overseas. If someone is there a month and is maimed for life while another is there for three years and nothing happens, how is the person who was there a month not deserving of a guaranteed college education? Alternately, if you need to keep Americans in Iraq for 3 or 4 tours of duty on the threat that if they don’t, they won’t have college guaranteed, then what does that say about the level of public support for the war? Clearly, not enough people want to enlist, because they know that they’re not fighting to safeguard American freedom. Yet again, McCain shows how out of touch he is with the realities of our military situation.

5. calling diplomacy a “failed policy” as McCain did when referencing talks with Iran proves that he will continue the same “We’re America, Dammit” approach to foreign policy. Do we really want to see more news coverage of American flags burning on foreign streets? We need to view ourselves not only as the world superpower, but as one of an international community that is more interdependent than ever before. Barack Obama will accomplish this.

So go ahead, Sarah, talk about being a hockey mom. I get it. You’re normal. But that’s all you proved to me last night. If you and McCain really wanted to help this country, you would have talked more about how to implement the “reform” you speak of, not exhibit the various ways in which you can pander to the uninformed but enthusiastic crowd at the RNC.

Palin Completely and Utterly Unqualified, Scholars Say

(the following was written by David Mark and Fred Barbash at Politico)

“John McCain was aiming to make history with his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and historians say he succeeded.

Presidential scholars say she appears to be the least experienced, least credentialed person to join a major-party ticket in the modern era.

So unconventional was McCain’s choice that it left students of the presidency literally “stunned,” in the words of Joel Goldstein, a St. Louis University law professor and scholar of the vice presidency. “Being governor of a small state for less than two years is not consistent with the normal criteria for determining who’s of presidential caliber,” said Goldstein.

“I think she is the most inexperienced person on a major party ticket in modern history,” said presidential historian Matthew Dallek.

That includes Spiro T. Agnew, Richard Nixon’s first vice president, who was governor of a medium-sized state, Maryland, for two years, and before that, executive of suburban Baltimore County, the expansive jurisdiction that borders and exceeds in population the city of Baltimore.

It also includes George H.W. Bush’s vice president, Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, who had served in the House and Senate for 12 years before taking office. And it also includes New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, who served three terms in the House before Walter Mondale chose her in 1984 as the first woman candidate on a major party ticket.

“It would be one thing if she had only been governor for a year and a half, but prior to that she had not had major experience in public life,” said Dallek of Palin. “The fact that he would have to go to somebody who is clearly unqualified to be president makes Obama look like an elder statesman.”

And Alaska is a much smaller state than Illinois, the political base of Barack Obama, whom Republicans have repeatedly criticized for being inexperienced, having served nearly four years in the U.S. Senate after eight in the Illinois state Senate.

“Not to belittle Alaska, but it’s different than the basket of issues you deal with in big, dynamic states.” Dallek said.

Palin has no experience in national office. Before becoming governor in December 2006, she served as a council member and mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, which had a population of slightly more than 5,000 during her time in office.

Brad Blakeman, who ran the 1988 Republican convention for GOP nominee George H.W. Bush, turned the experience question on its head, suggesting accomplishments in office mean more than time accrued.

“Here’s a governor who may have served two years, but her accomplishments are worth eight,” said Blakeman, citing Palin’s work as governor on ethics reform and an Alaska oil pipeline. “She’s got as much experience for being vice president as Barack does to be president.”

But other students of presidential history said that In choosing Palin as his running mate, McCain has reached back to a time when few actually seriously contended that the vice president should be demonstrably prepared to assume the presidency from day one.

If elected vice president, Palin would appear to have the least amount of experience in federal office or as a governor since John W. Kern, Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s 1908 running mate, who had served for four years in the Indiana state Senate and then four more as city solicitor of Indianapolis. The Democratic ticket lost to Republican standard bearer William Howard Taft and running mate James S. Sherman by an Electoral College spread of 321-162.

More conventionally in modern times, running mates could boast decades of experience in Washington, from ballot box winners like Dick Cheney, Al Gore, the elder Bush and Mondale to also-rans such as Jack Kemp, Lloyd Bentsen and Joseph I. Lieberman.

These super-credentialed candidates were sometimes chosen, like Joe Biden, to shore up the resumes of candidates with little or no time in Washington, such as Jimmy Carter (Mondale) Bill Clinton (Gore) and Michael Dukakis (Bentsen.)

Palin, on the other hand, is a total “wild card,” said Stanford historian David Kennedy.

“If she had been around for two terms as governor — or been a senator — it would have been an incredible choice,” said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “Who else could he have found who appealed to the conservative base … and as someone who was a reformer?”

That’s not to say Palin will be a dud on the campaign trail.

But out-of-the-box picks in recent years have not usually worked out too well for the top of the ticket. Consider independent candidate Ross Perot’s 1992 running mate, former Navy Adm. James Stockdale, who famously asked at the vice presidential debate with Gore and Quayle, “Who am I, why am I here?”

“He took the wind out of Perot’s sails, and Perot could have done even better” than the 19 percent he garnered, Dallek said.

A bad running mate pick can even put a successful presidential ticket in question. The 1988 Bush-Quayle victory over Dukakis and Bentsen came in spite of Quayle’s frequent campaign trail gaffes and questions about his military service in the Vietnam era and other controversies. Bush handlers largely relegated Quayle to small town audiences that would attract little media attention.

“Quayle — it threw off the momentum for some weeks,” said Goodwin. “One has to hope for McCain’s sake that [Palin] has been fully vetted.”

“The first thing that hits me,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution,” is that it suggests that John McCain is a gambler. This is a high roller decision.”

“The next thing you have to ask yourself: Is it worrisome to have a gambler in the Oval Office? That’s an important question,” he said, “perhaps more important than anything else today.”

Update:  After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin‘s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”‘

A word of wisdom, McCain camp: The scholars, despite their political leanings, weren’t blatantly lying, as you all imply. I know you all like to blame the nonexistent liberal media bias for all of your problems, but really, now you’re saying that history itself has a liberal bias? The scholars were merely citing information that any teacher or student of American history knows well. You can’t dismiss a very real historical precedent as the figmentations of a Democrat’s scheming mind.

McCain VP Choice Exposes True Intentions

“Today, John McCain put [Sarah Palin] the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same,” said Bill Burton, Obama Campaign Spokesman.

What does it show you when a possible President of the United States chooses a second in command with absolutely no foreign policy experience ever? What does it show you when a possible President chooses a second in command who is willing to tear up Alaska for oil when it will profit the ever-powerful oil comapanies far more than the consumer? What does it show you when a possible President is trying to throw a woman on the ballot to steal the remaining rabid Hillary supporters who care more about their own petty disappointment than the wellbeing of the nation? It shows desperation, recklessness, and idiocy.

And the Republicans will probably try to push their “feminism” at the RNC, while they are simultaneously trying to get a man who consistently votes against bills that promote women’s equality elected.

No woman should vote Republican, and no woman planning on voting for John McCain should call herself a feminist, whatever they may say at the RNC.  While women still earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, while discrimination in the workplace occurs on a wide scale, while the woman’s right to choose is threatened, no sane woman should vote for John McCain.

Because McCain chose a running mate in an attempt to pander to “Hillary suporters” in order to get him through an election instead of a running mate who would be a good advisor in terms of foreign affairs, environmental or economic policy, it is completely fair to say that he has his self-interest at the heart of his decision, not the interest of the American people.

America, you are being pandered to SHAMELESSLY. Ask yourselves this: Would you want to be a passenger on a plane that was piloted by someone who had never flown an airplane before? If that idea makes you slightly uncomfortable, then how do you feel about Palin, only a step away from the Presidency, possibly controlling the world superpower with ZERO foreign policy experience?

John McCain was irresponsible in choosing Palin. Then again, this is nothing new- After all, he was irresponsible in supporting Bush’s war, he was irresponsible in voting against the Equal Pay Act, he is irresponsible in his disregard for the wellbeing of the middle class, and he is irresponsible for guaranteeing us an America where health benefits will be taxed, women will lose the right to choose, further alienation from the international community will make us even more isolated, and most of all, he is irresponsible in his pretense at fiscal responsibility when the war in Iraq costs the strained American economy 10 billion dollars a month.

By the way, that 10 billion a month is enough to cover universal healthcare, universal preschool, and still have 50 million dollars left over.

Published in: on August 29, 2008 at 5:04 pm  Comments (3)  
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McCain’s Inexcusable Remark

(The following is a 1998 article from Salon.)

“During the last few months, many established media outlets have decided to report innuendo and rumor about the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, as long as they have a source they can cite (at least anonymously), or another media player has reported the same.

But this new standard in the practice of journalism seemingly does not extend to other political figures, at least not media darlings like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Earlier this month, at a Republican Senate fund-raiser, McCain told a downright nasty joke making fun of Janet Reno, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton.

The fact that McCain had made the tasteless joke was reported in major newspapers, as was the vain attempt by his press secretary to initially deny what McCain had done. But in several major newspapers, the joke itself was kept a secret. When McCain subsequently apologized to President Clinton, the Washington Post, in its personality section, noted the apology but said the joke “was too vicious to print.”

The Los Angeles Times, in its Life & Style section, provided an oblique rendering of the joke that did not fully convey its ugliness. When Maureen Dowd penned a column in the New York Times about the joke, she wrote that McCain “is so revered by the press that his disgusting jape was largely nudged under the rug.” But Dowd chose not to relay the joke, either.

The joke did appear in McCain’s hometown paper, the Arizona Republic, and the Associated Press did report the joke in full, so everyone in the press had access to McCain’s words. But by censoring themselves, the Post, the Times and others helped McCain deflect flak and preserved his status as a Republican presidential contender.

Salon feels its readers deserve the unadulterated truth. Though no tape of McCain’s quip has yet emerged, this is what he reportedly said:

“Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly?
Because her father is Janet Reno.”

The joke may be crude, but it pales in comparison with the published details surrounding the presidential sex scandal. McCain’s two-liner conveys some interesting insights into what he considers humorous (lesbianism, a young woman’s physical appearance), particularly since it was delivered to a Republican crowd. Remember, this is the party that champions pro-family values.

McCain’s lapse in judgment — admittedly, not as big a lapse as having a sexual relationship with an intern — may be a significant clue into aspects of his “character,” and thus relevant to the voting public. But many voters have been spared this insight, thanks to the censors in the press.

Accordingly, McCain is well-positioned to ride out this messy little episode. Ever since he started championing the anti-tobacco bill (which was torpedoed by his GOP comrades), McCain has been the White House’s pet Republican on the Hill. Consequently, the White House played down his Chelsea remarks. McCain is also unusually popular with the media. He gives good quotes; he is outspoken. He takes positions that contradict the Republican leadership. When you talk to McCain, he converses in the manner of a real person, seemingly telling you what he thinks. That is rare among elected officials. Ask him a question and he does not shift into automatic-politician mode, as do most members of Congress.

The former Vietnam POW should escape this matter without serious political harm. In the inevitable magazine profiles of McCain that will be written, there will no doubt be the perfunctory line: “McCain’s tendency to speak too freely was proven when he made a distasteful joke at a fund-raiser about the first family and then had to apologize to the president.”

But the joke revealed more than a mean streak in a man who would be president. It also exposed how the Washington Post, New York Times and Los Angeles Times play favorites when reporting the foibles of our leading politicians.”

And the media had the nerve to pretend it was a scandal when Barack Obama called a reporter “sweetie”? The Republican notion of a liberal media bias is as ridiculous as John McCain’s default response to all uncomfortable questions, that he was a POW, and is therefore excused from responsibility for all actions following his imprisonment, however unrelated to his imprisonment they may be.

Repetitive or Revolutionary? An Analysis of Obama’s Rhetoric

Recently, I’ve been having some feelings of frustration whenever I hear Barack Obama speak. While I agree with his political philosophy a thousand times more than I do McCain’s, I’ve been feeling like there’s something missing. Why does he always sound the same? Why, when he has even more detailed healthcare, environmental and economic plans than McCain, does he continue to speak in vague, all-encompassing terms that we know all too well from his stump speech?

Despite the nonspecific nature of his rhetoric, Barack Obama presents a potentially revolutionary political argument by doing just that. His campaign is rooted firmly in the idea that we have focused our cultural microscope on the small, trivial side of politics, and that we must incorporate grand aspirations into the American psyche in order to keep the petty from diverting actual policies from being passed. In a sense, his vaulting speech is a metaphor for his prescribed remedy for America’s cultural dis-ease. When 80% of the country thinks we’re going in the wrong direction, Obama recommends that we all keep in mind the ultimate goal, which is to preserve the American dream. Obama’s “theory” indicates that in order to accomplish the specifics, an overriding vision is necessary, and that is something that John McCain is sorely lacking.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 4:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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