Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Fall Festivals: Farm Edition

The drought is probably going to reduce Kentucky's usual fall color in October from spectacular to merely fabulous, but that's no reason to miss the many outdoor events held across the state.

Kentucky's Department of Agriculture is promoting Kentucky's farms this fall - and that means much more than pick-your-own pumpkins.

Kentuckians looking for some outdoor fun can take a trip to Oz, step into the past, test their skills in a corn maze, pick out a pumpkin and much more at farm destinations throughout the Commonwealth in October.

“Kentucky farms are fun, never more than in October,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “I encourage all Kentuckians to get out and enjoy the festivities, the mild temperatures, the great Kentucky Proud food and the fall foliage at the peak of its beauty.”

Fall festivals are also at their peak across Kentucky during October. Examples include:

· Lee’s Garden Center in LaRue County will celebrate its fifth anniversary by transforming into the Land of Oz for the entire month of October. Experience Dorothy, the Wizard, Scarecrow Mountain, a storm machine and Wizard’s Theater. Animals include donkeys, cows, goats and sheep. Visit www.leesgardencenter.com/wizard.htm.

· Reed Valley Orchard’s Country Festival and Back Forty Nature Walk is Oct. 4 in Paris. Pick apples and pears, walk a nature trail and an old stagecoach road, and visit the former campsite of notorious outlaws Frank and Jesse James. Enjoy oven-fried pies, fruit slushies and ice cream made with fruits from the farm, crafts and food booths, and entertainment by local musicians. Visit www.reedvalleyorchard.com/CountryFestival.htm.

· Beech Springs Farm’s Scarecrow Festival is Oct. 4 in Winchester. There will be traditional scarecrows, whimsical scarecrows and celebrity scarecrows, all of which will be auctioned off at 3 p.m. Enjoy music, food, face painting and pumpkin decorating. Visit www.tourwinchester.com/festivals.html#scarecrow.

· Magee’s Bakery’s Transparent Pie Day is Oct. 4 in Maysville. Participate in a pie-eating contest, watch baking demonstrations, view one of the oldest working farm buildings in Kentucky and go on a horse-drawn wagon or hay ride. Visit www.mageesbakeryfarm.com.

· Boyd Orchard near Versailles will host festivals every weekend in October and a Harvest Festival Nov. 1-2. Boyd Orchard offers a full restaurant, gift shop, large playground, hay rides, animal display center, corn maze and pony rides. Visit www.boydorchards.com.

· “R” Farm Pumpkins and More’s 10th Annual Pumpkinfest is Oct. 4-5. The Maysville attraction will host a haunted corn maze Oct. 24-25. The 130-acre working farm features horse-drawn wagon rides, a corn maze, live entertainment, craft vendors, live demonstrations and pumpkins you can pick. Visit www.r-farm.com.

· Benton Farms’ Pumpkin Days are weekends Oct. 4-26 in Walton. Visit www.kyagr.com/bentonfarms.htm.

· Jackson’s Orchard’s Fall Festival is weekends Oct. 4-26 in Bowling Green. Visit www.jacksonsorchard.com.

· Bramble Ridge Orchard’s Copper Kettle Apple Butter Festival is Oct. 11 in Mount Sterling. Activities include Kentucky's largest apple slingshot, wagon rides, an observation beehive and a rope maze. Visit www.brambleridgeorchard.com.

· Hinton’s Orchard and Farm Market’s PumpkinFest is weekends beginning Oct. 11-12 in Hodgenville. Visit www.hintonsorchard.com.

· Shaker Museum at South Union’s Farm Day is Oct. 18. Interact with living history demonstrations and activities of Shaker farm chores. Admission is $7 for adults and $2 for children. Visit www.shakermuseum.com.

· The Christian Way Farm Harvest Praise concert is Oct. 18 near Hopkinsville. Cost is $5 per person and free for children under 2 years old. Visit www.christianwayfarm.com.

· Go to Whispering Woods Farm near Georgetown on Oct. 24-25 and take the Twisted Trail of Terror and the ghostly hay ride – if you dare. Visit www.whisperingwoodstrails.com.

To find out more about Kentucky agritourism and fall farm fun activities, go to www.kentuckyfarmsarefun.com.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Fire Season Starts Tomorrow

Welcome to October in Kentucky, when four months of no rain culminate in the state bursting into flame.

Do us all a favor and forego the campfires, take the trash to the dump, and keep the matches in your pocket.

Until Dec. 15, it's illegal to burn anything outdoors within 150 feet of the woods.

While it is not illegal to burn after 6 p.m., forestry officials say that now is not a good time to do any burning. “There is growing concern about the potential for fires this fall,” said Leah MacSwords, director of the Division of Forestry. “The dry weather and low humidity levels have increased the number of forest fires for this time of year.”

The increased fire activity has also prompted more than 30 counties to enact burn bans that prohibit all outdoor burning.

Debris burning, a leading cause of wildfires in Kentucky, is one of the biggest concerns right now. Sparks and embers from burning dead limbs, brush and leaves can quickly ignite nearby vegetation and spread out of control especially under warm, dry and windy conditions. Safety precautions, weather conditions, local ordinances and state laws should always be considered before conducting any outdoor burning.

For information regarding burn bans and local ordinances, call your county judge’s office or local fire department.

Even though deliberately setting fire to the forest is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment, most forest fires (more than 55 percent) in Kentucky are the result of arson. If you witness suspected arson, call the nearest Kentucky State Police post or the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.

For more information regarding fire hazard seasons, call the Kentucky Division Forestry at 1-800-866-0555 or visit the division’s Web site at http://www.forestry.ky.gov/programs/firemanage/. Get information regarding open burning regulations, allowable materials to burn, and legal disposal methods from the Division for Air Quality at 1-888-BURN-LAW and the Division of Waste Management at 1-888-NO-DUMPS.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Newman's Own Politics

So many, many reasons to mourn the loss of Paul Newman, I may not forgive The Nation for reminding me that we've lost a great liberal.

Actors do not usually turn in performances that gain the notice of presidents.

But when Paul Newman decided to take the role of anti-war activist in the early days of the Vietnam imbroglio, he performed so ably – as an early and essential campaigner for Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and prominent supporter of George McGovern – that he ranked high on then-President Richard Nixon's "enemies list."


Newman, who died Friday at age 83, survived and thrived.


Newman remained political -- dedicated to civil rights, women's rights and gay rights, committed to ending the nuclear arms race and determined to elect opponents of war and militarism.

Newman supported, and even wrote for, The Nation. And he was a steady campaigner for and contributor to progressive causes and candidates – mostly Democrats but also anti-war Republican Pete McCloskey when he challenged Nixon in the Republican primaries of 1972 and to Green Ralph Nader in 2000. In 2006, the actor helped Connecticut's Ned Lamont mount a successful Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman. (Newman got so into the Lamont campaign that he even volunteered to do calls for the campaign -- and wrote his own script.)

This year, Newman was a maxed-out contributor to the campaign of Barack Obama for president.

The actor finished his life with more friends and fewer enemies than just about anyone in his chosen profession. And Newman's extensive philanthropy earned him little but praise in his final years.

Yet, Paul Newman was particularly proud to have been an "enemy." Indeed, he said to the end of his days that the place he held on Nixon's list was "the highest single honor I've ever received."

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Bailout Snark Roundup

Berkley economist Brad DeLong has an idea:

This Republican Party needs to be burned, razed to the ground, and the furrows sown with salt...

Commenter Steve Jones reminds us:

...and don't forget to urinate on the ashes.

Princeton economist and NTY columnist Paul Krugman predicted today's failure on Friday:

And after the way the Bushies and their allies double-crossed the Democrats again and again in the aftermath of 9/11 — demand national unity, then accuse you of being soft on terrorists anyway — there's no way Pelosi and Reid will do the responsible but unpopular thing unless the Republicans agree to share ownership.

So what we now have is non-functional government in the face of a major crisis, because Congress includes a quorum of crazies and nobody trusts the White House an inch.

As a friend said last night, we've become a banana republic with nukes.

And finally, Barney Frank calls the repug whiny-ass titty babies out for the whiny-ass titty babies they are:

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Dead Wrong"

Because it's not what happened at the debate (apparently a tie), it's what people think happened at the debate. Looks like Biden gave the Democratic ticket the advantage.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Be Progressive, Help Families and Poke a Stick in Sarah Palin's Eye - in One Easy Step

Yes, this is "Posting Forwarded But Unsourced Emails With Good Ideas Week."

This one is a three-fer.

Want to ruin Sarah Palin's day five weeks before Election Day? And do it in a way that helps families and burnishes your progressive credentials, all at the same time?

Then click here to make a donation in Sarah Palin's honor.

To Planned Parenthood.

It doesn't have to be a lot - $10 is fine. Think about it: Sarah Palin receiving dozens, hundreds, thousands of notices from Planned Parenthood that someone has made a donation in her honor.

Tell me that's not worth ten bucks.

Here's the link again.

Be sure to use the pulldown menu to choose Honorary or Memorial Donations, rather than just Donate Online, to be sure PP sends her the acknowledgement.

Then fill in the address to let PP know where to send the "in Sarah Palin's honor" card. Have them send it to McCain campaign headquarters:

McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
1st Floor
Arlington, VA 22202

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is Your Country on White Privilege

If you're done laughing yourself sick - or just puking in horror - at excerpts of the second installment of Caribou Barbie's "interview" with Katie Couric, and you're wondering how in the name of Jeebus' Holy Cock we got to this point, here's one explanation.

This came to me through multiple emails ostensibly from someone who saw it on a UK billboard. I don't know anything about the author, Tim Wise.

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly 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.

· White privilege is when you can call yourself a "f---in" redneck," like Bristol Palin"s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll "kick their f----n ass," and talk about how you like to "shoot s--t" for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

· White privilege is 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.

· White privilege is 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."

· White privilege is 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 believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

· White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is 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 was "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.

· White privilege is 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--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

· White privilege is 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."

· White privilege is 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.

· White privilege is 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.

· White privilege is 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.

· White privilege is 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 is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a "light" burden.

· And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren"t sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know, it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Nothing to Fear

Warren Street at They Gave Us A Republic steps back and takes a calm, cold-eyed look at what we're facing in the next five weeks.

Now is not the time to panic about anything. There is no impending financial meltdown crisis--that's a figment of the imagination ... Now is not the time to wonder about "martial law." ...

Everyone has to be prepared for the October Surprise. It's coming. ... It could be damned near anything.

Calm heads must prevail. ... Every time something happens, we must be steely-eyed and non-plussed. We must double down and behave like an old Norwegian farmer who has seen and done it all. We must be prepared to weather a storm, fix a fence, react to a terrible blizzard, or put down a sick animal. We must have sturdy boots on our feet at all times for walking in the bullshit that scared, weak and terrified men are going to shovel about.

When things like this happen, we must laugh at them and then get deadly fucking serious quickly and deal with them. Obama did that today. He didn't blink. He said 'the show must go on' in not so many words and he ran McCain's gambit right back into his face with a smile and a cool, collected fuck you expression.

They will try to scare us all. We must not give in to any of it. We must laugh at these assholes and their panic. Then we must run it back up the gut and down their throats and step on their kidney when we walk back to the huddle.

We are not sheep, shivering with our heads down praying The Leader will protect us from the scary threat.

We are Americans. Our strength is not in our leaders, our military or even our economy. Our strength is in ourselves, individuals whose government works for us, whose representatives we choose, whose executives we reward and punish as we see fit.

We have been deceived for seven years, but that's over. John McCain's desertion of his post as presidential nominee has exposed the whole cowardly core of the republican party. The repugs have spent the last 14 years, since Gingrich's takeover of Congress, refusing to deal with this country's real challenges and avoiding responsibility for lethal malfeasance.

Vote Democratic, and do so not in hope of a savior, but as a citizen hiring the right expert to solve multiple problems.

No Fear.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spooky Season: Halloween Fun at Kentucky State Parks

Twenty-three Kentucky State Parks are hosting Halloween activities throughout October.

Halloween will soon be upon us and the Kentucky State Parks have plenty of activities – some scary and some not -- planned for families.

They include costume contests, haunted trails, hayrides, storytelling, games, campground decorating and more.

View the complete listing of state park Halloween events with dates, times and phone numbers here and get details about parks and make lodging or camping reservations here.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Too True for Satire

From Christopher Hayes at The Nation:

I almost missed this email because it was diverted to my spam folder. But apparently Paulson is sending this around:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

(UPDATE: I didn't write this. It was sent to me by a friend and is making the rounds)

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

TMQ on the Bailout

Gregg Easterbrook, writing as Tuesday Morning Quarterback, nails the absurdity of the proposed Wall Street bailout.

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Last week, TMQ asked why no one was paying attention to the fact that the national debt ceiling was quietly raised by $800 billion during the summer. Well, toss that column: The White House just asked the national debt ceiling be raised another $700 billion, for the proposed financial-sector bailout. If that happens, in 2008 alone, $1.5 trillion will have been added to the national debt: every penny borrowed from your children and their children. Stated in today's dollars, in 1979 the entire national debt was $1.5 trillion. George W. Bush and Congress have in a single year added an amount equal to the entire national debt one generation ago. And the year's not over!

It took the United States 209 years, from the founding of the republic till 1998, to compile the first $5 trillion in national debt. In the decade since, $6 trillion in debt has been added. This means the United States has borrowed more money in the past decade than in all our previous history combined. Almost all the borrowing has been under the direction of George W. Bush -- at this point Bush makes Kenneth Lay seem like a paragon of fiscal caution. Democrats deserve ample blame, too. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leaders of the Senate and House, have never met a bailout they didn't like: Harry and Nancy just can't wait to spend your children's money. Six trillion dollars borrowed in a single decade and $1.5 trillion borrowed in 2008 alone. Charles Ponzi would be embarrassed.

Easterbrook says much more in tightly-controlled, fact-based populist outrage. Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Boswell Ad: Vote for Me, I'm a Republican!

Boy, there's nothing that revs up the Democratic base and gets 'em off their duffs and out to the polls to vote like a Democratic nominee who runs television ads bragging about being a republican.

"I'm pro-life, pro-gun and against higher taxes," says a denim-clad Boswell ....

Not one image, not one word in the ad even hints that Boswell is running as the Democratic nominee.

Which figures, since Boswell is not a Democrat. Something the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to figure out.

Last week, Boswell sent out a press release bragging about making the DCCC's priority list of races in its Red to Blue Program. The day before that press release, I'd sent him an email asking for details about his elevation to that list and his participation in it.

I see that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has promoted your campaign from an emerging race to a highlighted Red to Blue Race. Congratulations!

Could you please provide more details about what this means for your campaign? The DCCC's Red to Blue web page states: "The Red to Blue program highlights top Democratic campaigns across the country, and offers them financial, communications, and strategic support. These candidates earned a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and skillfully demonstrating to voters that they stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress."

What specific "financial, communications and strategic support" have you received from the DCCC since the announcement September 12?

What specific "demanding fundraising goals" did you surpass to earn a place in the Red to Blue program?

How did you specifically "demonstrate to voters that you stand for change and will represent new priorities when elected to Congress?" What specific change do you propose? What new priorities will you represent?

How much money have you raised through the ActBlue DCCC Red to Blue page for donations to your campaign?

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you very much.

Although I received an email from Boswell's campaign the same day - September 15 - acknowledging receipt of my message, I have not received a reply to my questions.

Can't blame him. If I were a misogynistic, racist coward and waste of oxygen hoping to sneak into Congress on the coattails of a party I despise and betray, I wouldn't answer those questions either.

According to the Swing State Project, the DCCC is dropping a cool $1.75 mil on ads for its Red to Blue candidates, but not a dime for Boswell. Maybe it's not as dumb as it seems.

And the Courier-Journal noted that once again, a "debate" between Boswell and the republican nominee failed to reveal any actual policy or philosophical differences between the two.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

McCain's Watergate

As Walnuts Depends flails around ever more desperately pretending he gives a flying fuck about the economic crisis Alan Greenspan calls "once in a century," something about his act seems familiar.

Bad mortgage loans, criminal behavior by bankers, John McCain balls-deep in the muck ... oh, yeah. The Keating Five Scandal.

Nineteen years ago, the Phoenix New Times exposed McCain for the amoral, sold-his-soul ambitious liar we clearly see today.

Substitute "Fannie Mae lobbyists" for Charlie Keating and "Wall Street meltdown" for Senate Ethics Committee investigation, and this piece could have run this morning.

You're John McCain, a fallen hero who wanted to become president so desperately that you sold yourself to Charlie Keating, the wealthy con man who bears such an incredible resemblance to The Joker.

Obviously, Keating thought you could make it to the White House, too. He poured $112,000 into your political campaigns. He became your friend. He threw fund raisers in your honor. He even made a sweet shopping-center investment deal for your wife, Cindy. Your father-in-law, Jim Hensley, was cut in on the deal, too.
Nothing was too good for you. Why not? Keating saw you as a prime investment that would pay off in the future.

So he flew you and your family around the country in his private jets. Time after time, he put you up for serene, private vacations at his vast, palatial spa in the Bahamas. All of this was so grand. You were protected from what Thomas Hardy refers to as "the madding crowd." It was almost as though you were already staying at a presidential retreat.

Like the old song, that now seems "Long ago and far away."

Since Keating's collapse, you find yourself doing obscene things to save yourself from the Senate Ethics Committee's investigation. As a matter of course, you engage in backbiting behavior that will turn you into an outcast in the Senate if you do survive.

They say that if you put five lobsters into a pot and give them a chance to escape, none will be able to do so before you light the fire. Each time a lobster tries to climb over the top, his fellow lobsters will pull him back down. It is the way of lobsters and threatened United States senators.

And, of course, that's the way it is with the Keating Five. You are all battling to save your own hides. So you, McCain, leak to reporters about who did Keating's bidding in pressuring federal regulators to change the rules for Lincoln Savings and Loan.

When the reporters fail to print your tips quickly enough--as in the case of your tip on Michigan Senator Donald Riegle--you call them back and remind them how important it is to get that information in the newspapers.

The story of "the Keating Five" has become a scandal rivaling Teapot Dome and Watergate. The outcome will be decided, not in a courtroom, but probably on national television.

Those who survive will be the sociopaths who can tell a lie with the most sincere, straight face. You are especially adept at this.

Last Friday night, on The John McLaughlin Show, which features well-known Washington journalists, the subject of the Keating Five was discussed. Panelist Jack Germond suggested that three of the Keating Five were probably already through in politics.

So you spend your days desperately trying to make sure you will be one of the survivors. You keep volunteering to go on radio and television stations to protest your innocence. Last week you made ABC's Nightline.

Not long before that you somehow managed to get James Kilpatrick, the national columnist, to write a favorable paragraph about you. Last Sunday morning, you made it to national television again; this time on ABC's This Week With David Brinkley. You smiled at the panel with your usual studied insouciance. Sitting next to you was Senator John Glenn of Ohio.

Brinkley, Sam Donaldson, and George Will were the interrogators.
It was a sobering scene. There you sat with Glenn, both sweating before the cameras, waiting to answer questions: two badly tarnished American icons.

No one forgets that Glenn was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. You won't let anyone forget that you were a prisoner of war. But you have played that tune too long. By now your constant reminders about your war record make you seem like a modern version of Arthur Miller's tragic failure Willy Loman.

Clearly, both you and Glenn sold your fame for Charles Keating's money.

It was a Faustian bargain. It was also a bad joke on the rest of us and a disaster for many old people who lost their life's savings to Keating.

The money was never really Keating's to give. But he never would have got his hands on it if you and the rest of the Keating Five didn't halt the government takeover for two long years while Keating's people continued their looting.

And now, the tab for the Savings and Loan heist must be paid from taxpayer pockets.

On Sunday, Senators Dennis DeConcini, Alan Cranston, and Riegle refused offers to appear on the Brinkley show. What must we make of that?

You, the closest of them to Keating and the deepest in his debt, have chosen the path of the hard sell. You may even make it out of the pot, but to many, your protestations of innocence taste like gall.

You are determined to bluff your way. You will stick to your story that you were acting to help a constituent and intended to do nothing improper. The very fact you attended the meeting makes you guilty, just as every man who entered the Brinks vault went to prison.

You insist that an accounting firm Keating hired told you Lincoln was sound. Alan Greenspan, who Keating also hired, wrote a report saying it was sound. Why shouldn't you believe the people Keating hired? You were, after all, fellow employees.

Perhaps you might silence your own conscience about all this someday.

Just keep telling everyone that it was your wife's money invested in that shopping center with Keating and that you knew nothing about it.

Keep saying that cynical newspaper people don't understand that every move you make has always been for the enrichment of Arizona . . . the education of our Native Americans on the reservations . . . for the love of the elderly in Sun City and Green Valley.

Keep telling them that it wasn't that you were bought off but that Charlie Keating got special help only because he was one of the biggest employers in the state.

Just keep sitting there and staring into the camera and denying that Keating bought you for money and jet plane trips and vacations.

So what if he gave you $112,000? Just keep smiling at the cameras and saying you did nothing wrong.

Maybe the voters will understand you took those tiring trips to Charlie's place in the Bahamas in their behalf. Certainly, they can understand you wanted to take your family along. A senator deserves to travel on private jets, removed from the awful crush of public transportation.

You sought out a master criminal like Keating and became his friend. Now you've discarded him. It shouldn't be surprising that you are now in the process of selling out your senatorial accomplices.

You're John McCain, clearly the guiltiest, most culpable and reprehensible of the Keating Five. But you know the power of television and you realize this is the only way you can possibly save your political career.

The Senate, the voters of Arizona, and the press all forgave McCain for his criminal behavior (yes, accepting bribes is a crime for elected officials.) McCain has spent the last 19 years apologizing and swearing he's learned his lesson.

But his ludicrous lying, spinning, and flip-flopping like a fish on a boat deck over the last week proves McCain is still the venal punk who eagerly sought and accepted bribes from a banker.

He obviously hasn't learned from history. But it's not too late for voters.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

If We Had a Real Congress

Things are past bad when it takes a republican former congressman to tell a Democratic majority Congress to do its Constitutional duty.

Long-time former GOP Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma testified before a Senate hearing today on the rule of law and said this:

There are a great many salient questions facing the American people and those of you who are charged with the responsibility of enacting the nation's laws: access to affordable health care; repair of an aging infrastructure; reducing energy dependence; ensuring the national security. But not one of those issues – and not all of them combined – is as important now or for the future as securing our position as a nation governed by the rule of law. . . .

Let me be both candid and clear: the current greatest threat to our system of separated powers and the protections it affords stems not just from executive overreaching but equally from the Congress. America's founders envisioned a system in which each of the branches of government would guard its prerogatives and meet its obligations, each acting to serve the nation through the empowerment the Constitution grants and to protect our liberties through the constraints the Constitution imposes.

For most of the past eight years, and for many years before that, the Congress has failed to lived up to its assigned role as the principal representative of the people. . . .

Here is the challenge, stated as candidly as I can state it. Each year the presidency grows farther beyond the bounds the Constitution permits; each year the Congress fades farther into irrelevance. As it does, the voice of the people is silenced. This cannot be permitted to stand. The Congress is not without power. It can refuse to confirm people the President suggests for important offices; it can refuse to provide money for the carrying out of Executive Branch activities; it can use its subpoena power and its power to hold hearings and above all, it can use its power to write the laws of the country. . . .

Do not let it be said that what the Founders created, you have destroyed. Do not let it be said that on your watch, the Constitution of the United States became not the law of the land but a suggestion. You are not a parliament; you are a Congress -- separate, independent, and equal. And because of that you are the principal means by which the people maintain control of their government. Defend that right, and that obligation, or you lose all purpose in holding these high offices. That is how you preserve and defend the rule of law in the United States.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

While You're Not Looking, Bush is Grabbing More Power

While you're distracted - either laughing hysterically at Caribou Barbie and Droopy Diapers McShame, or frantically stuffing all your cash into a mattress - Smirky/Darth is pushing through Congress their biggest dictatorial power grab yet.

Forget the Patriot Act - the real stealth legislation has always been AUMF, and the proposed "reauthorization" is a four-alarm bitch.

Seven years ago Thursday, Congress passed a statute in response to the horrible attacks of 9/11, inflicted on our nation the week before. That law became the basis for sweeping assertions of government power, including warrantless wiretapping, detentions in the continental United States and at Guantanamo Bay, targeted assassinations, extraordinary renditions, and coercive interrogations. Now, in the few days it has left, the Bush administration wants to expand this law. That would be a mistake.


Although you would not know it from comparing the public responses to these two laws, the Bush administration has depended on the AUMF, not the Patriot Act, to authorize its boldest practices. Now, President Bush and his supporters in Congress are seeking a new AUMF because even conservative judges on the federal courts have trimmed the exaggerated readings that the administration has given the 2001 law.


But reaffirming or expanding the AUMF would pose a number of dangers. The AUMF broadly states that the president may use "all necessary and appropriate force" to prevent future terrorist attacks. That breadth of language led the administration to claim the AUMF authorized a vast range of practices, such as warrantless wiretapping, that Congress never had any inkling of when it passed the law. Only some of those programs have come to light; we know little about what else lurks under the auspices of the AUMF.

The AUMF also has no time limit. The consequences are revealed in the administration's claims that it can detain an individual indefinitely in the war on terror, even after he has completely served the sentence imposed on him by a jury in a military tribunal. A law giving the president perpetual war powers is an anomaly in our constitutional system. Moreover, the AUMF gives Congress no ongoing oversight role in the war on terror. It does not mandate that the administration report to Congress on what it has done.

The AUMF has avoided political scrutiny because nobody, including members of Congress, knows what it allegedly authorizes. In many cases, including its warrantless surveillance program, the administration has never publicly acknowledged the policies it bases on the AUMF.

The new legislation before Congress would reaffirm "that the United States is in an armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces and that those entities continue to pose a threat to the United States and its citizens, both domestically and abroad." In addition, the new bill would explicitly confer broad and novel preventive-detention authority on the president. It also "reaffirms" that "the President is authorized to detain enemy combatants in connection with the continuing armed conflict with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces, regardless of the place of capture, until the termination of hostilities."


The phrasing of the new legislation has several aims. First, "reaffirm" acts as if the president already had this authority for detentions that are now being challenged in court, when in fact he didn't. Second, the language about "continuing armed conflict" and "associated forces" expands the scope of the original AUMF—those who attacked us on 9/11—to any number of interlinked groups around the world. Third, "regardless of the place of capture" would give the president authority to detain people right here in the United States, a power that has been hotly contested in the court cases of Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri. And, fourth, "until the termination of hostilities" would provide for indefinite detention, purportedly preventing courts from imposing any sort of time limits.

Seven years ago, the AUMF made sense as an immediate response to 9/11. But now it can no longer be the legal foundation for the war on terror. Rather than doubling down by expanding the law, Congress should work with the next administration to lay out a clear statutory framework for what powers the president has, who exactly we are engaged in armed conflict with, and how long these powers may be used. Two must-haves: a sunset provision and detailed reporting requirements so that Congress knows what the president is doing in implementing the law. In fact, the Patriot Act just might serve as a pretty good model.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

NYTimes Book Review Disappoints Me

Eight of the top 13 books on the NYTimes New Hardcover Bestseller List have those funny little crosses next to them denoting that their "bestseller" status is faked by bulk purchase orders.

This is a classic tactic by wingnuts to produce phony sales numbers for worthless screeds that otherwise would not be sold outside rural gun shows.

It therefore won't surprise you to learn that of those eight fake bestsellers, seven are: lie-filled attacks on the Democratic Presidential Nominee, boorish attacks by militarists on Democratic Party values, a puff piece on Caribou Barbie, and in one strange instance, the return from the dead of John McCain's own whining, excuse-filled, air-brushed "autobiography."

Over the decades, the New York Times Book Review has revised the way it calculates best-sellers, separating them into various new categories including paperbacks, advice, children's, etc. Each time, the purpose was to keep the main bestseller list uncluttered by tomes in self-contained genres.

It's time for a separate "Bulk Sales" bestseller list.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Are You Rich Enough for McSame's Tax Cut?

If you're middle class, congratulations! Both presidential candidates say they're going to give you a tax cut.

Or not. Seems McCain's definition of "middle class" is slightly different from Obama's definition. By, oh, about a factor of five.

According to a recent Gallup poll, fifty-three percent of Americans expect their federal income taxes to increase if Barack Obama is elected president.

The truth: The Democratic candidate's plan would cut taxes for roughly 95 percent of American families, reports the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.

How much would Obama save you? Check out ObamaTaxCut.com, a project of AlchemyToday.com, to use a nifty new tool that lets you calculate exactly what the Obama tax-cut would be worth to you.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

John McCain as Gay Stalker

Confused by Walnuts Depends' claim that all of his filthy, despicable, dishonest, lying attacks on Barack Obama are really Obama's fault because he refused to follow McCain around the country on his grampa town hall tour?

Fear not! The Rude Pundit explains it all.

In The Rude One's inimitable sexual metaphor style, of course. Only R-rated this time.

Palin Baby Name Generator

Because we need something to smile about.

Click here to generate your Baby Palin name.

You can call me Revolver Trooper Palin.

Shitting on the First Amendment

How appropriate that on Constitution Day one of Kentucky's most embarassingly stupid public officials (and that's saying plenty) gives me the opportunity to slap him upside the head with the First Amendment.

Kentuckians wanting to display the nation's motto on their license plates will soon have their chance if legislation pre-filed by state Rep. Jim Gooch becomes law.

The bill calls for a new license plate containing the words "In God We Trust" and any other design the Transportation Cabinet decides is appropriate. It would be offered as an alternative to the standard-issue license plate featuring the "Unbridled Spirit" logo, and would not carry any additional fees.

"It's time we take this step and recognize what has long been our country's and our commonwealth's guiding principle," Rep. Gooch said. "Kentuckians should not have to wait any longer."

If Rep. Gooch's bill becomes law, the "In God We Trust" license plates would be available in January 2010.

As I wrote back in July when Governor Steve "Huge Disappointment" Beshear floated this particular abomination:

Is it too much to ask that elected officials know a smidgeon of American history? "In God We Trust" did not become the national motto until 1956, when McCarthyist witch hunts intimidated Congress into replacing the 174-year-old motto adopted by the actual Founders in 1782: "E pluribus unum," or for those of you who flunked Latin, "Out of many, one," a reference to the federalism that unites diverse states.

It was during the commie scares of the 1950s that "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance (which, by the way, was written in the 1892 by a Socialist who wanted a secular substitute for the prayers recited by children in Catholic schools), and that "so help me God" was added to the oath to tell the truth in court.

The Founders, who deliberately and decisively kept all mention of god out of the Constitution, would have been horrified.

"In God We Trust" was added to coinage during the Civil War, in a blatant and futile attempt to pacify Southerners who were, at the time, claiming divine christian justification for slavery.

The proper interpretation of the "In God We Trust" phrase on our money is: "God says n*****s aren't human, so we can enslave, starve, beat, rape and murder them all we want."

How about that one, Stevie? How about a license plate that reads: "God says n*****s aren't human, so we can enslave, starve, beat, rape and murder them all we want."

In Indiana the 2006 General Assembly authorized an "In God We Trust" plate, prompting a lawsuit by the state's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.


Carl Wedekind, treasurer of the ACLU of Kentucky, said yesterday that he did not know whether the organization would challenge the license plate in court if it becomes available.

And if you don't, Carl, you can cancel my membership and refund all my donations for the past seven years. The ACLU's stated mission, Carl, is to defend the Bill of Rights. This license plate violates my First Amendment rights, Carl. Get off your ass and do your fucking JOB, Carl.

Kentucky currently offers 99 - count 'em, that's one fewer than a solid hundred - different license plates in 11 different categories. They range from the special military plate for recipients of the Medal of Honor, of which there are currently a grand total of two in the entire state, and the "Choose Life" plate, which is an inexcusable discriminatory slap in the face to those of us who Choose Suicide.

Jim Gooch is infamous in Kentucky as the most shameless hod-carrier for the coal industry in the General Assembly. He constantly puts himself in danger of being forcibly committed for terminal stupidity by insisting, during public sessions of the legislature, that there is no such thing as global warming and burning ten times more coal than we do will solve all our problems.

If all Jim Gooch's jeebus-humping hasn't raised his IQ out of single digits by now, advertising his belief in an invisible sky wizard on a license plate isn't going to help.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Celebrate Constitution Day: Stand Up for American Liberty


Two hundred and twenty-one years ago, on September 17, a few dozen mostly young and mostly wealthy white men, exhausted and apprehensive after months of furious debate, put forward a document more fragile, yet more powerful, than any created before or since.

Fragile, because its very existence depended on the power not of armies or monarchs or gods, but of people themselves to protect and maintain it.

Powerful, because it put the people first, before armies or monarchs or even gods.

Everything the United States of America is, everything it has accomplished, every hope its people have for the future, is embodied in the document George W. Bush calls "just a goddamned piece of paper."

That piece of paper, you smirking chimp, gives to the people the power to throw you out of office for the offense of that remark alone. Alas, Article One fails to include "spine" among the qualifications for Congress.

For eight years, Smirky/Darth have attacked the Constitution with everything in their authoritarian arsenal, but it still survives. Weakened, mutilated, defiled. But still there, waiting for real Americans to restore it.

Ways to celebrate Constitution Day here.

The Constitution itself with hyptertexted links.

The Constitution in outline format.

Constitution facts, fun quiz and free pocket copies of the Constitution.

The Wikipedia history of the Constitution.

Catherine Drinker Bowen's classic history of Constitutional Convention, which reads like a thriller.

And a superb new history of the Constitution from the Revolution to 2006.

And finally, from the introduction to Naomi Wolf's new book on reclaiming American liberty:

Liberty is a state of mind before it is anything else. You can have a nation of wealth and power, but without this state of mind -- this psychological "America" -- you are living in a deadening consciousness; with this state of mind, you can be in a darkened cell waiting for your torturer to arrive and yet inhabit a chainless space as wide as the sky.

"America," too, is a state of mind. "Being an American" is a set of attitudes and actions, not a nationality or a posture of reflexive loyalty. This tribe of true "Americans" consists of people who have crossed a personal Rubicon of a specific kind and can no longer be satisfied with anything less than absolute liberty.

This state of mind, I learned, has no national boundaries. The Tibetans, who, as I write this, are marching in the face of Chinese soldiers, are acting like members of this tribe; so did the Pakistani lawyers who recently faced down house arrest and tear gas in their suits and judicial robes. Nathan Hale, Patrick Henry, and Ida B. Wells, who risked their lives for liberty, acted like "Americans." When the crusading journalist Anna Politkovskaya insisted on reporting on war crimes in Chechnya, even though her informing her fellow citizens led -- as she knew it well could -- to her being gunned down on her doorstep as she went home to her fourteen-year-old daughter, she was acting like an American. When three JAG lawyers refused to sell out their detainee clients, they were being "Americans." When Vietnam vet David Antoon risked his career to speak out in favor of the Constitution's separation of church and state, he was being an "American." When journalist Josh Wolf went to jail rather than reveal a source, he was being an "American" too. Always, everywhere, the members of this tribe are fundamentally the same, in spite of the great deal that may divide them in terms of clothing and religion, language and culture. But when we quietly go about our business as our rights are plundered, when we yield to passivity and switch on the Wii and hand over our power to a leadership class that has no interest in our voice, we are not acting like true Americans. Indeed, at those moments we are essentially giving up our citizenship.

The notion that "American-ness" is a state of mind -- a rigorous psychodynamic process or a continued personal challenge, rather than a static point on a map or an impressive display in a Fourth of July parade -- is not new. But we are so used to being raised on a rhetoric of cheap patriotism -- the kind that you get to tune in to in a feel-good way just because you were lucky enough to have been born here and can then pretty much forget about -- that this definition seems positively exotic. The founders understood "American-ness" in this way, though, not at all in our way.


The stories I read and reread of the "spirit of 1776" led me with new faith to these conclusions: We are not to wait for others to lead. You and I are meant to take back the founders' mandate, and you and I are meant to lead. You and I must protest, you and I must confront our representatives, you and I must run for office, you and I must write the opeds, you and I must take over the battle. The founders -- the unknown as well as the well-known Americans who "conceived" the nation in liberty -- did not intend for us to delegate worrying about the Constitution to a cadre of constitutional scholars, or to leave debate to a class of professional pundits, or to leave the job of fighting for liberty to a caste of politicians. They meant for us to defend the Constitution, for us to debate the issues of the day, and for us to rise up against tyranny: the American who delivers the mail; the American who teaches our children; ordinary people.

Today we have most of our rights still codified on paper -- but these documents are indeed "only paper" if we no longer experience them viscerally, if their violation no longer infuriates us. We can be citizens of a republic; we can have a Constitution and a Congress; but if we, the people, have fallen asleep to the meaning of the Constitution and to the radical implications of representative and direct democracy, then we aren't really Americans anymore.

So we must listen to the original revolutionaries and to current ones as well, and explain their ideas clearly to new generations. To hear the voices of the original vision and the voices of those modern heroes, here in the U.S. and around the world, who are true heirs to the American Revolution is to feel your wishes change. "[Freedom] liberated us the day we stopped living in a world where 'truth' and 'falsehood' were, like everything else, the property of the State. And for the most part, this liberation did not stop when we were sentenced to prison," wrote Sharansky. "I was not born to be forced," wrote Henry David Thoreau. "I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest...they only can force me to obey a higher law than I." You want to stay in that room where these revolutionaries are conversing in this electrifying way among themselves. It feels painful but ultimately cleansing and energizing. You want to be more like them; then you realize that maybe you can be -- then finally you realize that you already are.

Our "America," our Constitution, our dream, when properly felt within us, does more than "defend freedom." It clears space to build the society that allows for the highest possible development of who we ourselves personally were meant to be.

We have to rise up in self-defense and legitimate rebellion. We need more drastic action than e-mails to Congress.

We need the next revolution.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE, 6:27 a.m. At They Gave Us A Republic .... Blue Girl reminds us that preserving the Constitution has been our responsbility from the beginning.

Ben Franklin was the first delegate to emerge from Constitution hall, where a crowd had gathered after rumor spread through the town that the work was done, the document was complete. The crowd grew excited, and the Mayor's wife, Mrs. Powell, called out over the noise of the crowd, "Well Dr. Franklin, what have we got, a monarchy or a republic?" He peered at her over his glasses and said "A republic, Madame, IF you can keep it."

I'll be damned if I'm letting her go without a fight.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

McDonald's: Millions Insulted

Kentuckians who don't live in Louisville like to put down and sneer at the state's biggest city for many reasons, most of which are entirely deserved by those elitist city snobs who think they're so special ... um, where was I?

Oh yeah. But the one thing some Kentuckians criticize Louisville for but shouldn't is Louisville's Fairness Ordinance, banning discrimination of all kinds on the basis of sexual orientation. It's the only one in the state, and something of which Louisville is justly proud.

And now we get to see it in action, because an employee of a downtown Louisville McDonald's was mouth-breathingly stupid enough to call some customers "faggots," "cocksuckers" and "bitches." The stupidity escalated with repetition of the insults, and the refusal of both the employee and the manager to refuse to apologize.

Now the ACLU's involved, and boy is McDonald's ever gonna get it.

Page One Kentucky has the details, plus a great photoshopped McDonald's sign.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nailing the Crisis on McCain

So far, Obama has done a pretty good job of using the latest financial crisis to call attention to the utter inability of Walnuts Depends and Caribou Barbie to propose, much less achieve, changes to our profoundly dysfunctional economy.

But it cannot be emphasized enough how much McCain, his current advisors and the current leadership of the republican party are directly and personally responsible for creating an anything-goes financial environment that would embarrass the original robber barons.

At The Nation, Robert Scheer details the involvement of McCain BFF Phil Gramm.

As with any Ponzi scheme, the perps, who included the legislators as well as the bankers who exploited the loopholes they provided, expected to bail long before the bubble burst. The role of the legislators, Republican-led but with far too many Democratic running dogs, was critical to the success of the scam.

The mortgage swaps distancing the originator of the loan from the ultimate collector were made legal only as a result of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which former Senator Phil Gramm, R-Texas, pushed through Congress just hours before the 2000 Christmas recess. Gramm, until recently co-chair of the McCain campaign, also had co-authored the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which became law in 1999 with President Bill Clinton's signature. That gem, which Gramm had pushed for years with massive financial industry lobbying, destroyed the Depression-era barrier to the merger of stockbrokers, banks and insurance companies. Those two acts effectively ended significant regulation of the financial community, and no wonder we have witnessed an even more rapid and severe meltdown in housing values than during the Great Depression.

Not surprisingly, Gramm was rewarded for his service upon retirement as a senator and as head of the Senate Banking Committee with a top position at the Swiss-based UBS bank, which is close to drowning in the subprime mortgage nightmare he helped create. These folks have no shame, as was evidenced when the senator's wife, Wendy, was named a director of Enron, whose roiling of the energy market had been made possible only through yet another provision of Gramm's Commodity Futures Modernization Act.

While neophyte Palin can claim ignorance of such matters, that would be particularly difficult for McCain, who as a senator consistently lined up with Gramm in his deregulation crusade. Clearly McCain had not learned much from his previous involvement with the savings-and-loan debacle about the risks to consumers in unregulated banking.

McCain served as chair of Gramm's abortive 1996 presidential campaign, and Gramm returned the favor, providing critical support for McCain with the hard-line Republican base, including the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal. It was assumed in the business press that Gramm was the front-runner to be Treasury secretary in a McCain Administration. Gramm left his role as the top economic person near McCain only after he made an embarrassing statement blaming the current economic downturn on "whiners," an awkward reference to the victims of his disastrous legislation.

Republicans have been waging class war on working Americans for more than a 125 years, and except for the presidencies of those two class traitors Theodore and Franklin, pretty much succeeding.

Succeeding in no small part because every time a liberal objects to the latest attack on the middle class, the dems shush her, terrified they'll be accused of waging "class warfare."

As the immortal Molly Ivins wrote: "What do they think the republicans are playing? Mah Jong?"

Way past fucking time for Obama to say it like it is: Republicans in general and John McCain in particular have one economic policy and one economic policy only:

Strip working people naked and give everything they have to the parasitic rich.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Judge: Palin a Child Abuser

Sarah Palin is a child abuser! A judge says so!

What's that you say? The judge actually said that Palin's constant harassment of her ex-brother-in-law "amounted to a form of child abuse?" And that's not the same thing as calling Palin herself a child abuser?

Really? You think calling Palin a child abuser is a distortion of the truth? Kind of like saying Obama wants to teach three-year-olds to have sex when the truth is that he might have supported a bill (which never passed) requiring existing sex-education classes to include how to avoid predators?

Picky, picky! A judge criticized Palin using the term "child abuse" - that's not in dispute. Nor is the fact that an Illinois Senate committee on which Obama served approved a bill that included the term "sex education."

Yet television stations all over the country are running McCain/Palin ads that falsely accuse Obama of wanting to teach three-year-olds how to put on condoms.

So I'm calling Caribou Barbie a child abuser. And I'm going to keep calling Miss Alaska runner-up a child abuser until the Obama campaign starts fighting fire with fire.

(X-rated Rude Pundit excerpts follow.)

Unless the Obama campaign starts throwing shit at McCain, it will be over. Yeah, Obama wants to change politics, but ask anyone who has ever tried to subvert a system: you gotta do it from the inside. And if you cringe at the idea of Obama stepping into the muck and mire of post-Atwater poltics, then ask yourself: will he get more done by keeping his shoes clean and losing?

The truly aggravating thing is watching opportunity after opportunity pass by the Obama campaign. Here's some advice to them: you are not living in subtle times. You are living in an era in our nation where people only react if you use a fucking mallet, not a stiletto, to get your point across.


So, dear Obama campaign, you have to use the word "lie." You wanna make an ad about the Bridge to Nowhere? Call McCain and Palin's assertions "lies." People don't give a fuck about "exaggerations" or "misleading statements." That's lawyer talk. Don't you get it, you stupid fucks? You call the Bridge to Nowhere statement or the plane-on-E-bay line a lie, you say it everywhere you and your people go, and then the McCain campaign has to prove it's not a fucking lie. That's the way this cocksucking game works. The honorable part is in not being a fucking liar yourself.

Goddamnit. Every fucking election the Rude Pundit can remember the word "lie" has been out there, low fruit, ready to be plucked, but the Democratic candidates are just too pussified to reach for it. John Kerry went down in flames because he didn't call out liars.

And it's not only the issue of lying. Go after their personal weaknesses. You should be making ads that imply McCain is too old to be president. And if you're criticized for it, you gotta say, "I think it's up to Senator McCain to demonstrate he has the necessary energy for this job."

Stay angry. Again: The McCain campaign just said that Barack Obama wants to teach 6 year-olds how to fuck. That deserves a little more of a response than it's "perverse" or whatever shit the Obama campaign just put out.

You want the best route? Here it is: emasculate John McCain. Use Palin to cut his nuts off. Constantly say shit like, "Am I running against John McCain or Sarah Palin?" or "If the Republicans wanted her to be president, they should have nominated her" or "Maybe Republicans are used to a vice president that runs the show" or whatever. Make McCain have to defend himself. Turn him into Palin's bitch. It'll make him insane. And if there's one thing that Republicans hate most about women, it's the perception of the castrating bitch telling men what to do (see all the shit about Hillary Clinton).

In other words, Obama campaign, as so many others have advised, go on offense, and that means you have to offend.

And Sarah Palin is a child abuser.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Unfit for Any Office

Beyond the worse-than-Bush policies, past the lit-fuse temper, more than the war-is-always-the-answer philosophy, one thing above all proves John McCain is unfit to serve in any elected office, much less that of president.

Josh Marshall cuts to the point:

John McCain is running a campaign almost entirely based on straight up lies. Not just exaggerations or half truths but the sort of straight up, up-is-down mind-blowers we've become so accustomed to from the current occupants of the White House. And today McCain comes out with this rancid, race-baiting ad based on another lie.


This is ugly stuff. And this is an ugly person. There's clearly no level of sleaze this guy won't stoop to to win this election.


Winning and losing is never fully in one's control -- not in politics or in life. What is always within our control is how we fight and bear up under pressure. It's easy to get twisted up in your head about strategy and message and optics. But what is already apparent is that John McCain is running the sleaziest, most dishonest and race-baiting campaign of our lifetimes. So let's stopped being shocked and awed by every new example of it. It is undignified.

What can we do? We've got a dangerously reckless contender for the presidency and a vice presidential candidate who distinguished her self by abuse of office even on the comparatively small political stage of Alaska. They've both embraced a level of dishonesty that disqualifies them for high office. Democrats owe it to the country to make clear who these people are. No apologies or excuses. If Democrats can say at the end of this campaign that they made clear exactly how and why these two are unfit for high office they can be satisfied they served their country.

Kevin Drum goes further, pessimistically speculating that McCain's record-breaking campaign of lies may have already destroyed the ability of the next administration to accomplish anything - regardless of who wins.

John McCain has obviously decided that he can't win a straight-up fight, so he's decided instead to wage a battle of character assassination, relentless lies, and culture war armageddon. So what happens on November 5th?

If McCain wins, he'll face a Democratic congress that's beyond furious. Losing is one thing, but after eight years of George Bush and Karl Rove, losing a vicious campaign like this one will cause Dems to go berserk. They won't even return McCain's phone calls, let alone work with him on legislation. It'll be four years of all-out war.

And what if Obama wins? The last time a Democrat won after a resurgence of the culture war right, we got eight years of madness, climaxing in an impeachment spectacle unlike anything we'd seen in a century. If it happens again, with the lunatic brigade newly empowered and shrieking for blood, Obama will be another Clinton and we'll be in for another eight years of near psychotic dementia.

Am I exaggerating? Sure. Am I exaggerating a lot? I don't think so. McCain, in his overwhelming desire for office, is unloosing forces that are likely to make the country only barely governable no matter who wins. This would be very bad juju at any time, but George Bush has so seriously weakened the country over the course of his administration that we don't have a lot of room for error left if we want to avoid losing the war on terror for good and turning America into a banana republic while we're at it. We need to start turning the ship around now.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finally on Offense

Two new Obama ads to run in battleground states, and both finally take the fight to McCain. The first one actually uses the L word, accusing McShame/Caribou Barbie of lying. The second attacks Walnuts Depends for taking money away from public education.


Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Why Liberals Must Stand Proud and Conservatives Should Be Ashamed

Every single good thing that has happened to Americans in the last century has been brought to you by liberals. Every single obstacle in the path of improving people's lives and making the world a better place has been thrown there by conservatives.

It can't be repeated often enough, yet rarely gets mentioned, much less articulated as clearly as Bob Herbert does here.

The liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Social Security and unemployment insurance, both of which were contained in the original Social Security Act. Most conservatives despised the very idea of this assistance to struggling Americans. Republicans hated Social Security, but most were afraid to give full throat to their opposition in public at the height of the Depression.


Liberals who didn’t have a clue gave us Medicare and Medicaid. Quick, how many of you (or your loved ones) are benefiting mightily from these programs, even as we speak. The idea that Republicans are proud of Ronald Reagan, who saw Medicare as “the advance wave of socialism,” while Democrats are ashamed of Lyndon Johnson, whose legislative genius made this wonderful, life-saving concept real, is insane.

When Johnson signed the Medicare bill into law in the presence of Harry Truman in 1965, he said: “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine.”

Reagan, on the other hand, according to Johnson biographer Robert Dallek, “predicted that Medicare would compel Americans to spend their ‘sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in America when men were free.’ ”


Without the many great and noble deeds of liberals over the past six or seven decades, America would hardly be recognizable to today’s young people. Liberals (including liberal Republicans, who have since been mostly drummed out of the party) ended legalized racial segregation and gender discrimination.

Humiliation imposed by custom and enforced by government had been the order of the day for blacks and women before men and women of good will and liberal persuasion stepped up their long (and not yet ended) campaign to change things. Liberals gave this country Head Start and legal services and the food stamp program. They fought for cleaner air (there was a time when you could barely see Los Angeles) and cleaner water (there were rivers in America that actually caught fire).

Liberals. Your food is safer because of them, and so are your children’s clothing and toys. Your workplace is safer. Your ability (or that of your children or grandchildren) to go to college is manifestly easier.

As Warren Street writes about Herbert's column:

Pardon the fuck out of me, but I needed this. I needed something to get my chin up off my chest. I needed this wake-up call. I needed this kick in the ass. I needed this call to action. I needed this because I'm sick to fucking death of sitting on my fucking ass watching these assholes rise up like a Phoenix. It is time to take up the cause and get back to smashing the living shit out of Republicans and their lies.

If you need some Kentucky examples to make this clear, Heather Ryan is a Proud Liberal. John Yarmuth is a Proud Liberal. David Boswell is a sniveling coward who wants credit for liberal accomplishments while denying liberal values.

Here's a question to ask your candidates who want Democratic votes: What are three liberal accomplishments that were opposed by conservatives? If they can't answer, you know what they really are.

Let's put an end once and for all to the oxymoronic concept of the "conservative Democrat." No such animal. Democrats are Proud Liberals. Everybody else is a republican, not matter what they call themselves.

No more DINOs.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Obama Hits Back

Like I said, smacking down the bitch slaps while staying on the high road.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Free Speech vs. Tax Law

For people who are obsessed with other people's "personal responsibility," the wingnut freakazoids sure do have a hard time distinguishing between their own rights and their responsibilities to society.

We saw this in the torture "debate" - though the mere fact that elected officials of the United States of America considered torture a subject of debate is shamefully inexcusable. John McCain and other drooling psychopaths used the hypothetical case of a "ticking time bomb" to justify allowing Americans to torture prisoners.

It wasn't enough that in a such vanishingly rare case, a true patriot would be more than willing to torture illegally to get the information - and then accept the consequences of breaking the law.

No, no, the crazies insisted - we must make torture legal in all circumstances, everywhere at all times for any reason, just to make sure that in that one-in-million case no patriot will have to risk his delicate skin to do the right thing.

Now the freakazoids are insisting that making churches who play politics also pay taxes is an unconstitutional violation of their free speech rights.

No one is restricting your free speech rights, assholes. You can get up in your church and say anything you like about any candidate. You can plead for donations and volunteers to a candidate's campaign. You can turn your church into a giant billboard exhorting people to vote for your candidate.

But if you do, don't expect everybody else to subsidize your political activities. If you make your church an arm of a political party, you have to accept that you forfeit your tax-exempt status. Tax law states that non-profit organizations - not just churches, mosques, temples or other religious organizations, but ALL non-profit organizations - are entitled to tax-exemption ONLY if they refrain from partisan political activity.

That's a tax law that has nothing - nothing - to do with free speech. It has to do with the rules under which your donors can deduct their contributions from their income for tax purposes.

One hundred years ago, there was no such thing as tax-deductible donations. Before the permanent federal income tax in 1913, people gave donations to churches and other charities with no expectation of earthly reward. And charitable organizations, including churches, spoke out on partisan political issues to their heart's content.

Four years later, in 1917, the federal government allowed donors to deduct their contributions from their taxable income. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that to qualify for the deduction, the recipient charity had to refrain from involvement in partisan political activities. This was not a gag order on charities; this was the only way for such tax deductions to be Constitutional under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. This rule protects charities, including churches.

Churches did not stop speaking out on partisan politics because the federal government told them to shut up. Churches stopped speaking out on partisan politics because they wanted more money.

And now, they want to keep the money and play politics, too. But the latest scheme to challenge the tax law is really just another wingnut freakazoid special pleading disguising a fascist attack on the Constitution.

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

At first blush, the ADF argument may sound compelling. If a church wants to endorse a candidate, it's the church's business, right? If congregations don't like it, they can go to another church. If a pastor passes the collection plate for John McCain during Sunday services, church members can contribute or not contribute. This isn't, the argument goes, any of the government's business.

But this falls apart pretty quickly. Tax law doesn't stifle free speech; it applies conditions to tax exemptions.

Non-profit organizations receive a tax exemption because their work is charitable, educational or religious. But the benefit comes with conditions, most notably a requirement that tax-exempt organizations refrain from involvement in partisan politics. Since tax-exempt groups are supposed to work for the public good, not spend their time and money trying to elect or defeat candidates, it's hardly unreasonable.

But what if some ministries believe partisan political work is absolutely necessary? They're in luck -- they have every legal right to give up their tax exemption and create an explicitly partisan organization, such as a PAC. Current law simply limits groups from being both tax-exempt ministries and engaging in partisan politics.

ADF, meanwhile, not only wants to let ministries have it both ways, it also wants these ministries to take a huge risk with no reward -- break the law, help partisan candidates, and risk IRS penalty. Why? Because the Alliance Defense Fund, a multimillion-dollar right-wing legal consortium, has a culture-war experiment it's anxious to try out.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Repugs: Presidency a Joke

The "discarded flags" lie is just the latest proof that the repugs do not take this election or the presidency itself seriously.

As TPM reader LT wrote:

It really looks like the Republicans think that the Presidency, and election to it, is some kind of a joke. That it's a game which anyone can play at, so it doesn't matter if they grab a governor who is a political neophyte already embroiled in controversy on every front. It's a joke, so it's fine to ridicule and bully your opponent, fib, stall investigations, etc.

The "seriousness" (or "seriously?") narrative is the kind that could sway swing voters: independents don't want drama in their ticket -- they want people who can get down to business. They want a ticket that treats voters like sober adults, that treats an election to the Presidency seriously. McCain spokespeople say it's "Not about the issues?" What, so it's a high school popularity contest, then?

Yes, of course it is. Because since at least 1980, the repug candidates, the campaigns they run and the maladministrations they oversee are plainly not about issues or governing or even national security.

It's about power: obtaining it, wielding it in a way that enriches themselves and their cronies, and keeping it.

If they thought that nominating Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy on a platform of monthly virgin sacrifices would keep them in power, they'd do it.

With Senator POW-POW-POW Depends and Governor "You'll Keep That Fetus And Like It Young Lady" Caribou Barbie, we're just about there already.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Real Heroes Don't Brag

It's a truism among veterans that those who did the most talk the least. There are exceptions, of course, but here's the point: If John McCain were not a celebrity, but just a new guy telling war stories in a VFW bar, the bragging he did Thursday night would have been taken by other veterans as typical bullshit from a wished-he'd-been-there.

At TPM Cafe, M.J. Rosenberg puts it perfectly.

You would never know it from the media coverage but John McCain is not one of America's greatest war heroes. He is a former POW who survived, heroically. He deserves to be honored for that heroism.

But one thing distinguishes McCain from other war heroes, the kind whose heroism changes history rather than their life stories.

America's two greatest war heroes were Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower. Grant saved the union. And Ike saved civilization.

And neither one ever bragged about their experience. (Can you imagine Ike smacking down Adlai Stevenson by saying that while Adlai ran a nice medium-sized state, he was the Supreme Allied Commander who ran D-Day, defeated Hitler, and liberated Europe?).

Impossible. Like Grant, Eisenhower did not brag.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

John McCain, Your 15 Minutes Are Up

Sarah Who?

This election is about John McCain, and what an unmitigated disaster a McCain presidency would be for this nation and the world, for generations to come.

And this time, this time, at last, the Democratic candidates have the prize sharp in their sight and the path clear in front of them. First, from Friday, Barack Obama in Indiana (h/t Blue Girl):

Next, Joe Biden (h/t Warren Street):

Walnuts and Caribou Barbie aren't going to know what hit them.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Smacking Down the Bitch-Slap

Why do repugs insist on making elections about launching one ridiculous, obviously false personal attack after another against Democratic candidates?

Because if they made elections about issues, they'd lose every time, of course. But also because of this:

It Works.

Josh Marshall explains.

About four years ago I described what I called the Republicans' 'bitch slap' theory of electoral politics. Stuff like the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry and McCain's Celeb/P Diddy assault on Obama aren't really about the attacks themselves. In themselves, they're often too cartoonish to be believed in any literal sense. What they're about is smacking the other guy around and making him take it. There's no better way to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength than to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. That not only makes the other guy look weak. It also transforms him into an object of contempt, which together are politically fatal. It's this meta-message of weakness that resonates far beyond the literal claims. And it's this that Democrats so often seem to miss -- explaining the factual inaccuracies of the claims, demanding that the attacks stop, all the while reinforcing the intended message of the attacks in the first place.


But the tempo of this election and the fall out from the 'celeb' attacks will be determined in large part not by factual particulars but by whether Obama can show that when someone hits him hard he hits back twice as hard. Not cowering, ignoring or complaining. This is about the score and not the libretto.

Marshall wrote that on August 22, before the Democratic Convention began. Two weeks later, on the last day of the republican convention, Glenn Greenwald sounded the alarm.

With last night's cheerfully vicious speeches from Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, the Republicans did what they always do in order to win elections: they exploited raw cultural divides while mocking, belittling and demonizing Democratic leaders. Yet again, they delivered brutally effective and deeply personal blows to the Democratic presidential candidate grounded in the same manipulative and deceitful yet very potent themes they've been using for the last three decades.


Democrats seem to be banking on the fact that the agreement which most Americans have with their policy positions, along with widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of things, will outweigh the effects of this personality war -- a war which they, yet again, have allowed to be one-sided.

None of this is to say that the GOP attacks will enable them to win the election. It is quite possible that enough Americans this year are so alienated from the GOP brand that they are now largely immune from these kinds of substance-free personality assaults, that they won't be blinded by cultural tribalism and personality appeals into handing this political party an additional four years of power. But these tactics have worked in the past because cultural tribalism, resentment and alienation are very powerful influences in how people think -- in general, they're more powerful than rational assessments of policy positions or even one's self-interest -- and the Democrats' gamble that they can win this election without really engaging those issues, while allowing that war to be waged in a one-sided manner yet again, is a true gamble.


Democrats have clearly decided (yet again) to cede that lowly playing field to the GOP and are hoping (yet again) that those personality and cultural issues are not enough to outweigh the country's dislike of Republican policies. This year is indeed different -- dissatisfaction with the Government is higher than ever before, the GOP is as discredited as a party can be, and Obama is a more effective candidate than those who preceded him -- but the attacks last night were only the beginning, not the end. If John McCain remains -- even from the mouths of Democrats -- the Honored, Honorable, Principled, Heroic Maverick, the GOP chances will be as high as they can be.

I believe that if anyone can carry the Democratic banner to victory while smacking down the repugs without falling off the high road, it's Barack Obama. I believe he's playing the long game, that he's got a campaign organization unlike any ever seen in this country, and that history is on his - our - side.

And I believe it's still going to take every dollar, every walked precinct, every vote we can turn out to win.

Hate, Fear and Lies have won six and stolen one of the last 10 elections.

Not This Time.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.