Monday, September 29, 2008

The Audacity of Nope. Waiting For Sarah.

Well, it's official. The proposed 700 billion dollar Federal bailout of Wall Street has gone down in flames. At the final call, the vote in the House of Representatives stood at 228 - 205.

To think, John McCain made the almost - sacrifice of not really suspending his campaign, not flying to Washington immediately, and not reading the original three-page bill crafted by Henry Paulson until three days had passed, all for nothing.

Of course, McCain did take decisive action: He milked the narrative like a Guernsey cow.

Proclaiming himself Cavalry, he planned to gallop into Washington, into the House of Representatives, and bring his fellow Republicans there to heel in service of country over party, getting a rescue bill passed come Hell or high water. He would provide some real leadership (cuckolding John Boehner in the process) and give cover from the assault by Republican voters back home for this deeply unpopular bailout.

Well, Very Old Ironsides shot nothing but blanks today as the House GOP rigidly refused to absorb any political heat for a new, more measured version of the bill, which would have given the people some measure of justice and control over the dispersal of the billions.

But it gets better - worse, I mean. The failure of the Right to clean up after their own messy orgy of greed is not the most interesting facet of this object lesson about the goose that lays the golden egg.

John Boehner himself now says that, despite the fact that Nancy Pelosi was able to cough up 140 Democratic votes for the bailout, and he himself produced an anemic 65 Republican votes, it was House Democrats playing politics - as - usual to the detriment of our great nation.

Don't blame our party just because they avoided this bill like the plague, he seems to be saying, blame the Democrats who voted for the legislation for its failure. This logic is more than absurd; it's Sarah Palin absurd.

Of course, the Right's pundits are out there spinning, spinning, spinning away at this monster of a failure on their own side. My prediction is: No way. It won't go over. The people are not that stupid. We have found the bottom of the Americans' credulity.

Democrats are not Liberals. If they were, I would become a Democrat. But today the Democratic party stepped forward and showed some cajones. 60% of them signed on to the proposed legislation, and girded themselves for the withering criticism of Main Street. Far fewer, less than 50% of Republicans showed that kind of courage.

Fortunately, the GOP has courage and audacity to spare. Sarah Palin has hunted big game before, and stared the Russkies down, to boot.

She'll know what to do.

See you Thursday, Governor.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Morning After. The GTL Apologizes. Good News For Reality.

Like Gregor Samsa, I awoke this morning from uneasy dreams, having gone to restless sleep after the first presidential debate last night.

I handed the first debate to John McCain for not seeming crazy and not getting angry. He managed to get in a few tried-and-true zingers to Obama's character which seemed to hit their mark. But amazingly, the people, for the first time in decades, did not warm to the angrier man, but to the better ideas.

CNN has some encouraging results, which indicate that the GTL may have to raise his expectations for the judgment of our wonderful nation and its registered voters.

Republicans have traditionally won elections through smears, mockery, naked contempt, and successful attacks on the character and manhood of their opponents. They have used dirty tricks like voter disenfranchisement in poor urban centers and jamming Democratic phones on election day.

Let's also never forget their successful thirty-year campaign to paint their carnal greed as the seemingly principled "philosophy" of deregulation and trickle-down economics, which the first president Bush rightly recognized as "voodoo" before he realized it just might fool enough of the people to bring about a serious redistribution of wealth to himself and his country-club cronies.

But mostly their triumph came due to mastery of the condescending sound-bite. To my amazement, these snippets of ridicule almost always seemed to meet their mark. A perfect example, and one which I refer to frequently, came in the 2000 race between Al Gore and George W. Bush:

Bush told the assembled audience, "My opponent has hired a consultant to tell him what kind of clothes to wear. Can you imagine? A grown man hiring someone to tell him what clothes he should wear?!"

I thought, "Oh, my God. He's going to win."

And I was right. In one sleazy and hypocritical put-down, Bush had erased in the minds of the public decades of public service by Al Gore and replaced them with an image of a hapless, clueless, scared sissy. It didn't matter that Bush had a phalanx of his own consultants and powerful spinmeisters creating the presidential W out of whole cloth.

With all this in mind, I watched the debate last night looking for McCain to stumble seriously, forget basic facts, or otherwise reveal his cognitive limitations. I was also hoping that Obama would skewer McCain with his own self-contradictory statements on abortion rights, the economy, the Bush tax cuts, and all the other things this so-called principled senator has flip-flopped on in his lust for the Big Chair.

But none of that happened. And McCain did get to follow the old formula created by Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and others on the Right.

So naturally it appeared to me that McCain had carried the debate, even as Obama held his own. As a frequent visitor to this page commented, "it was a tie, and a tie is a win for McCain."

Thank you, America. I apologize for underestimating you.

All my love,

The Gun-Toting Liberal.

Post-script: I have been asked to make my first political speech, in Lowell, Massachusetts, next week. I will be speaking briefly against Question One, a referendum to eliminate the state sales tax.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Live Blogging the Debate

Twenty-five minutes into the first debate and I am struck by the bloodlessness of Jim Lehrer's questioning. "Where do you stand on the bailout package?" is not a good start.

For one, no one knows what is IN the bailout package.

Second, all of Washington is saying that the injection of presidential politics into the bailout planning is unhelpful and in fact disruptive to the delicate process going on now in Washington.

Jim Lehrer seems to be asking question as if he were sitting in his own living room and indulging his own curiosity. It appears that he wrote them all this afternoon.

Neither candidate is particularly impressive here.

9:33 PM Another question about the current crisis and how each man will govern in light of it.

We're bogged down in question 99% of Americans don't understand. And the slogging is slow.

To my mind, McCain is restraining himself and actually seems more on his game than Obama.

Round one goes to McCain.

Jim Lehrer has got to broaden the questioning. How we got to the current financial calamity in Washington is what he should be focusing on.

9:38 Ah. Obama scores a hit: "John, your president is responsible for the out-of-control spending etc.... you supported him 90% of the time..."

9:39 We're talking about Iraq now. Maybne the worm will turn.

9:50 The people can judge. Obama stresses the folly of the Iraq war. McCain stresses the success of the surge. Let's hope the people keep their eyes on the ball.

McCain continues to do better than I expected, Obama less so.

9:53 McCain is in his element when he talks about war. Americans will listen to his take on troop levels. He accuses Obama of wanting to attack Pakistan. Makes Obama seem unstable.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The McCoward Files: Pachyderm Turns, Donkey Stands Firm. McCain Feints. Obama Fights.

"We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself."

-- Republican Party platform, 2008

Their core principles are wrong and they know it. You know it too.

So why on Earth would you vote for them?

Now John McCain is "abandoning his campaign" to run to the plush safety of his D.C. office and hide. He says he'll "help" correct the problem he was insisting didn't exist a week ago, and which he's been working to make possible for his whole career.

Thanks but no thanks, Senator. I think the message when he arrives should be, "John, you sure look tired. Why don't you sit down, relax, have a Fresca, and let us do the work?"


"No, really."

Ronald Reagan had the good sense to take a nap when the action went over his head. John McCain awake is dangerous. He should learn from Reagan's example.

McCain also wants to cancel the presidential debate tomorrow night. Something about the crisis being too important to let the people see him defend his tainted political philosophy, or something.

If you think that makes any sense at all then you really have been drinking too much Kool-Aid.

I say he's a coward, running from the schoolyard rather than face the fair fight he instigated with an opponent he thought he could defeat with smears, lies, and insinuations about insufficient patriotism and questions about his background.

Friction may not have killed the spin machine, but suddenly Americans are interested in politics and taking their civic responsibilities seriously. A little late, but seriously.

Reality is responsibility.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Financial Crisis: My Simple Math. The Score.

Math is not my strong suit but here goes.

Mortgage Deregulation. Billions in bad paper everywhere. Some take massive profits. Shady mortgage-backed securities collapse.

Someone needs to put massive amounts of money back into institutions or a crisis in confidence will destroy the economy.

The taxpayer pays. (That's you and me.)

Capitalist Thieves: 1
American Citizens: 0

The Savings and Loan debacle in the eighties pales in comparison to the scope and corruption of the current disaster, but there are things in common: John McCain was formally rebuked for his role in the Keating Five scandal, and a member of the prominent Bush family, Neil Bush, was also elbows-deep in the fiasco that eventually cost billions to clean up.

Talk about Voodoo economics. Maybe you can tolerate these so-called Conservatives, but all this compassion is killing me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dispatch from Republican Utopia: Reality Bites McCain.

Unexpected good news here. The American people actually seem to remember which political party spent forty years pushing the ideological belief that deregulation of industry is not only sound business, but a moral and patriotic imperative.

If the people don't forget, and if don't they get lulled back to sleep with sedative-laced red meat and lullabies courtesy of Karl Rove and his All-Star Fox Network Band, then John McCain is toast in November.

Only a deep collective sleep, or mass amnesia, can save him.

Meanwhile, McCain's double half-gainer flip-flop on the matter of Wall Street greed could have earned him a gold medal in diving at Beijing. There he is, yelling louder, getting angrier and angrier, demanding re-regulation of insurance and mortgage companies. But at whom is he angry? The wreckage of our economy lies at his feet, deregulated, as per his wishes. Perhaps he is mad at his timing, or maybe his bad luck?

Old men should not do these kind of calisthenics. And for the sake of the world, would someone please give Senator McCain a mental status exam? Based on his erratic behavior, belligerent nonsense, chronic misstatements, and poor judgment lately, it is clear McCain is in cognitive decline -- but the rest of us?

What's our excuse?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pickpockets and Politicans. Our Fearless Journalists (or, Hard Questions Aren't Hard To Answer If No One Asks Them).

Poor John McCain. Poor, poor, Senator John McCain. Poor old flip-flopping, tap-dancing, stuttering, Republican John McCain. Poor old lying, twitching, sweating, trembling, confused, desperate, Washington-insider John McCain.

No one should have to repudiate a lifetime of strongly-held principles overnight, especially a presidential candidate, and especially one who cannot run on his party's accomplishments and is forced to run on "character, not issues."

Goddamn timing. If only he'd been elected in 2004. If he'd won then, he'd be retiring now, and the broken economy he did so much to ruin would not even be on the news. In that time of war and fear, his war-hero story would be all he needed.

Today John McCain's future, his only hope, really, rides on the possibility that investigative reporters will not do their jobs and will not ask hard questions about our current economic collapse. Hard-hitting questions like, "how did this happen?" or "whose idea was this deregulation?" or "who's going to pay to clean up this mess? or "could this have been prevented?" You know, the questions reporters used to ask, which they never ask anymore, about anything.

In other words, he ain't doing too bad. As long as no one watches "the View."

Here's a way to understand the reality of our current situation, and the reason for John McCain's massive, Alaska-sized flip-flop on economic policy:

A pickpocket hangs around the train station stealing wallets and watches. Eventually the complaints from commuters pile up and the police set up surveillance, a small sting operation, and the crook is captured. He is marked, no longer invisible, unable to ply his trade. He does some time and leaves town.

But public opinion changes and new officials are elected. Crime is no longer the focus of Republicans' disapprobation - government's attempt to control free markets is. The large police presence in the train station is bad for business, for tourism, new leaders say, so the police go elsewhere. A new ethic emerges: "government isn't the solution, it's the problem."

The pickpocket comes back. This time, there is no one to stop him, and he steals with abandon, shouting "government stifles the entrepreneur!" as he makes off with even more loot.

Only later do we find out that the television ads, the radio spots, and the direct-mail pamphlets that convinced the people to elect anti-government candidates to the government were paid for by... the pickpocket himself! But it's too late. Our money is gone, and the thief got away scott-free. He even got to keep the money.

Then he went into politics.

Deregulation, like many Republican ideas - such as privatizing social security, for one example - is a massive scam and has been all along. Corruption being the end as well as the means, Republicans by necessity became effective image-mongers, manipulators of the under-informed. They succeeded fabulously at replacing their public image as rapacious robber-barons with one of religious piety and concern for the least among us.

A tiny, elite clique of Americans with nine or ten-digit incomes convinced a majority of Americans that fundamentally redistributing the wealth of our society directly to them was a selfless and Godly act.

To them I say: I admire your chutzpah. Now give me my country back.

I will not be using the past tense to describe John McCain's overnight conversion to liberal progressive economic policy, since I don't believe he actually believes the things he is now saying.

John McCain defines himself as "primarily a deregulator." This means he wants less government regulation of industry. He wants to remove regulations that were established decades or centuries ago to protect the economy and the American people from rip-offs and scams by shady and corrupt business leaders. Apparently these regulations hurt profits.

He claims to be sincere. He wants the government to leave corporations and banks and insurance companies and mortgage companies and investment houses and global financiers alone - because free markets are rooted in American liberty, not because he is in the pocket of industry leaders who are dying to cut corners, make deals in the dark, and line their pockets at the expense of the people.

I am convinced he believes he's doing the right thing. But this is not only not good enough, it's exactly the reason why he can't be allowed to be President.

The McCain campaign, in the desperate attempt to ensure no one looks backward at how we arrived where we are, is now in full whirling-dervish mode, creating the new "reality" as fast as the old one implodes.

The new narrative: we're rolling up our sleeves and fixing the economy, and we're too busy to figure out what went wrong. So don't ask.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Part Three: The Soft White Underbelly.

Part Three

So I ask you my friends, why do we find ourselves no further beyond the sickening charade of lies and character-smears from the Right that foisted master-of-make-believe George W. on us as our president back in 2000 and again in 2004? Why do so many of us want to sleep as our house is burning?

There is only one answer:

Sin. Wickedness. Guilt. Deep down, we Americans still want to be punished. Eight years of Bush, five years of war, an economy in shambles and it turns out we still believe what the Christianists say, we're a nation of sinners and need to be punished some more. We are not yet clean enough to come to our senses.

More later.

Part Two of Three: Know Your Known Knowns.

In Part One we set forth reality as the GTL sees it, and pledged to keep our eyes and hearts open to everyone and all possibilities in this dark political season. In Part Two we take an inventory of our understanding of the basics of the Republican candidates. None of what I say is intended as a character smear or a half-truth. I will gladly debate any and all points contained here with anyone.

Let's review our situation, the "known knowns," as Donald Rumsfeld might call them.

What do we know about John McCain?

We know he won't reverse the Bush Doctrine of invading first, asking questions later.

We know he won't get us out of Iraq but may get us into Iran.

We know he won't end Bush's war on the middle class.

We know he will make the Bush tax cuts permanent even though he once said they favor the rich unfairly and he opposes them.

We know he won't protect women's rights as he once pledged to.

We know he won't reach out to other nations to re-establish moderate diplomacy.

We know his top economic advisors think the economy is fine and we're a nation of whiners.

We know he opposes helping all but a few of those Americans who are losing their homes.

We know he can't remember how many homes his wife's inherited wealth has bought him.

We know he doesn't know how to solve the mortgage crisis.

We know he is very rich, and has done fabulously well under the Republican leadership he claims to not be a part of.

We know his "Drill, Baby, Drill" energy policy is at best a "psychological" fix.

We know it is a disastrous energy policy that will stifle innovation and leave American industry in the dust.

We know global warming does not worry him as much as offending the Religious Right does.

We know he swore to avoid dirty politics then accused his opponent, a fellow U.S. Senator, of being willing to lose a war in order to win an election.

We know he has flip-flopped and embraced the "agents of intolerance" he defied in his last presidential race, in order to get the votes of the religious conservative "base" of the Republican Party.

We know that he opposes the comprehensive Twenty-first Century G.I. Bill that all veterans' groups endorse -- because it was not written by a Republican.

We know his son will not need a G.I. Bill to get his education when he comes home from Iraq.

We know he won't cast the neoconservatives out of power but in fact has come to rely on them more than ever.

We know he is a loyal Republican through and through who voted with President Bush 90% of the time.

We know he has yet to figure out how the Internet works, and email.

We know he has had melanoma several times as well as other health problems that could be exacerbated by stress and that the presidency is a stressful job.

We know he is older than Ronald Reagan was when he took office.

We know that even a vigorous seventy-two-year-old man is past his prime.

We know he said experience was the key issue in the presidential race, then chose an inexperienced running mate because he thought she could help him win the election.

And what do we know abut Sarah Palin?

We know she is proud to be a "pitbull with lipstick."

We know she knows nothing of the world and never thought to even obtain a passport until 2007.

We know she considers herself a foreign-relations expert because the barren, arctic reaches of her enormous state border the barren, arctic regions of Russia.

We know that, although her proximity to the Russians is the source of her foreign policy experience, she has never spoken to a Russian leader, or a Russian governor - or a small-town Russian mayor -- about anything.

We know she has never met a foreign head of state, period.

We know she falsely said she was against the earmarks for the Bridge to Nowhere.

We know that she lobbied hard for the Bridge to Nowhere until embarrassment in the public eye made her back off.

We know her line "I said to Congress, 'no thanks for that Bridge to Nowhere,'" gets roars of approval in all her campaigns speeches.

We know she kept the money.

We know she is aware that abstinence-only sex education does not work but supports it anyway, for religious reasons.

We know she will fill Supreme Court vacancies with far-right justices who will nullify Roe vs. Wade.

We know she needs weeks behind closed doors to prep for questions other leaders can answer easily based on their experience.

Salvaging the Truth, the Nation, and (Perhaps) My Soul. First of Three Parts.

It's Go Crazy Time again in American politics.

Let's go back about a year. It was evening in America and we were waking up from a long Rip-Van-Winkle nap from reality to find our house was on fire. Our debts were spiraling out of control. We were being evicted from our homes. Our children were still not home from the wars we had somehow gotten ourselves into during our restless unconsciousness.

We were modeling democracy for the world by torturing the guilty and innocent alike in secret prisons. We were confusing poor, undocumented Mexican factory workers with dangerous terrorists, and ignoring the thousands of new, very real terrorists our mistaken policies were creating around the world. We were the laughingstock of a terrified planet.

Even as the foundation of our liberty cracked and the edifice of our greatness teetered, we were still giving the last few pennies of our children's milk money to the fabulously wealthy as a reward for setting the fire.

But we seemed to be waking up. We had realized that electing leaders based on their ability to distort serious issues, lie shamelessly, pray to Jesus loudly in front of the cameras, mock their opponents, and assemble truth-mangling hit squads was not going to produce an Abraham Lincoln or FDR anytime soon. We were coming to consensus that "swift-boating" was a bad thing, even when it felt great, and had decided not to do it anymore.

But then, to paraphrase Al Pacino, "just when I thought we were out, they pull us in again."

If the last two weeks are any indication, we as a people just may vote to ignore the flames and go back to bed. Who knows what will await us when - if - we wake up again.

So I am seeking a separate peace with my nation's group fantasy. The GTL will find his serenity, even if the rest of you all go mad. I am working on my New America Project: Love everyone. Share what I have. Talk to anyone honestly. When I get angry, look at my anger from the outside and not feed it. Show respect for those who show me none in the knowledge that to do otherwise is suicide to my soul.

When the hurt beast that is trying to drag us down to Hell rears up in front of me I will remember and try to embody the words of Rilke in the third Duino Elegy:

gently show him daily a loving, confident task done,
-- Guide him close to the garden, give him those counter-balancing nights . . . . . . Withold him . . . . . .

Coming: Part II: an inventory of known knowns, known unknowns, unknown unknowns, and maybe a migraine

Friday, September 12, 2008

Just a Thought...

Anyone have an opinion on this:

What about Obama and Biden on an Alaska barnstorming tour? Big cities, little towns, visit local libraries... old-fashioned shoe leather politics, baby-kissin' and handshakes.

I agree with Jack-of-all-thumbs that attacking McPalin right now may not be wise for O-Biden, but with better policies and real respect for the middle class, what does Team Obama have to fear? Get out there, take all comers, answer all questions. Give the media a taste of real straight talk.

Just like they did it in St. Paul in August: take the fight into the heart of the other guy's territory.

Part of Palin's success recently is her newness on the national scene. Anyone can project any traits onto her that they imagine are there: A busy mom like me. A woman in a man's game like me. An athlete, a PTA member, a churchgoer like me.

In Alaska they know Sarah Palin, and plenty of people have had serious misgivings with her behavior in office, as mayor and as governor. As mayor of Wasilla she tried (unsuccesfully) to fire the town librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, who was president of the Alaska Library Association at the time. As governor, she tried to use her power to get her sister's ex-husband fired from his state trooper job.

A dose of northern exposure may do Obama a world of good, and strike a blow for the truth at the same time.

Like Losing? Let Lies Lie.

Maybe the Republicans are right, that issues and past performance don't matter. Maybe "character" is the issue.

If it is not in your character to vigorously defend yourself and the country that you love from lies and smears, and if you're afraid to put your whole self - body and mind - on the line for the sake of truth and the people you seek to lead, maybe you don't have what it takes to lead a country.

That John McCain and Sarah Palin are patently unfit for the White House is obvious to me. McCain - too old, too unstable, has flip-flopped on every important issue, is selling a Maverick image he pawned years ago for a taste of power. Palin - whooee, not enough gigabytes on the internet to go there, would ban books like the Taliban if she could, thinks being a sassy Christian hockey-mom is a suitable substitute for knowledge and experience.

But what if Obama won't fight back? What if this unstoppable, up-from-downtrodden Brother for the People doesn't stand his ground in the American Schoolyard and face down the bully? And what if the media do their usual absentee routine?

What then?

I left the Democratic Party years ago for their confusing, self-neutering willingness to be bullied and punked. "Independent" sounded good compared to that mess and still does. I have always said that if and when they get their fight on again, I will go back. Still waiting.

The Liberals who inspire me were fearless labor leaders, tough-as-nails fighters for equal rights and justice. Obama talked like them at first and better find that voice again. He will never NOT be the better choice. But who cares what he is if he can't win a brawl with a wounded old man and his dog?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughtful Readers. My Cup Runneth Over.

From a comment a reader sent to my email:

2 reasons why the pic of Sarah Palladin is an old photo and likely real, not a new photoshop output, they don't make Schlitz at the present time and haven't for several years. Reason 2 - she has older glasses frames in the photo, not the trendy stop sign (octagon) shape she has been sporting lately. Therefore the photo is several years old and genuine. (Old = genuine, like me.)

Hmmm. Worth thinking about. I will be interested to see how this story evolves. As an old literature professor said, "fiction is a lie that tells the truth." In my opinion the photo captures the reality of Palin, even if it isn't actually genuine.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Show Me The Sanctimony. Alaskan Pork, Kosher-Style.

Republicans have always been able to gain enormous traction with the general public by mocking the pet projects "Tax-and-Spend" Democrats waste their money on. They whip crowds into frenzies over ridiculous-sounding research projects.

The people buy it and pick up the narrative: Democrats throw vast sums of tax money at foolish pie-in-the-sky ideas, then tax you senseless to pay for them. Republicans won't waste your money. They'll cut taxes and give your money back to you.

And the people believe. And they vote Republican.

Then the Republicans deregulate industry and rob the country blind.

When there's finally nothing left their schemes collapse and the people bail them out while the CEO escapes with millions in a private jet.

Republican Utopia.

They've done a number on the American people that would make a Kosher butcher envious - I mean, not one drop of blood left.

And of course, Republicans have pet projects of their own.

The surpluses Bush inherited are now enormous deficits. But still we hear warnings of Tax-and-Spend Democrats who want to take your money.

I wish I could put some of this manure on my garden - it's potent stuff.

It turns out reality matters. Crooks are bad for the country after all.

Who knew?

The Dignity of High Office

Waking this morning prepared to be positive, I am greeted by this photo emailed by a friend. I question whether it's authentic, although there is no reason why it would not be, based on my understanding of Governor Palin's "maverick image."

I admit, Palin looks better brandishing a rifle than Cheney (then again, so do most people). The question is, who is she going to shoot in the face?

Speaking of veeps and guns, I offer a link to a GTL post from February 2006 that I hope you will enjoy in nostalgia with me. It has nothing to do with Dick Cheney's drunken hunting crime (excuse me -- "accident"). I just remembered the title, which made me laugh when I wrote it, and makes me laugh now.

Sunny and cool this fine morning. And not just the weather.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The GTL Brooklyns Up. Follow Me.

I spent today whining at work like a typical liberal asswipe. "We're gonna lose," "we're losing," "what's wrong with our country?" Sarah is a phoney, and she's so mean! McCain gets some poll traction and wah wah wah. Boo effing hoo.

Then I came home and watched a few moments of campaign advertising and news and there they were, the Republican foot soldiers, marching, marching, marching on, shamelessly catapulting the propaganda. Smiling. Invigorated. Almost gleeful, as if they'd invented a hybrid Ferrari that runs on hot air and bullshit from their own bodies and were driving it pell-mell through the protected habitats of the top half of the endangered species list.

These are people whose new campaign mantra is "Drill, Baby, Drill!" So goddamned what if new oil drilling in Alaska won't do a damn thing to help America, even ten years from now when the first drops will flow? Who cares? Who CARES? Who wants to fix anything? Not them! They just want the taste of blood, the slap of entrails along their flanks. The hot dust, the whine of the engine, the demolition-derby rush of adrenaline.

It occurred to me moments ago that the Right are in it for the blood lust, perhaps even more than for the win. To tell you the truth, I don't think they even enjoy the governing, they only truly enjoy winning. Sure, they'll use the office to reward their friends, but their friends are already rich and powerful. They don't need to go to Washington to stay rich.

So it's not for any burning need to take office, to run things, that they fight the way they do. Campaigning is simply what they do best and they love it the way Patton or Stonewall Jackson loved battle. Just get OUT there, make it WORK, beat those voters SENSELESS and get those friggin' votes! This is the American schoolyard, now go and steal their goddamned lunch money!

The Republicans have very little to offer but they make every last ounce of it fly. This is a party so wedded to moral decay and moribund ideas that their favorite ice cream flavor is rust. But man, do they ever enjoy the game. And it's this love of the bloodsport of politics, the joy of scorched earth, the smell of napalm in the morning, that Americans respond to. We're ready to elect a psychotic bully, and keep on electing psychotic bullies, as long as they can bring some triumphalist sadism to the game.

Even if our own interests are the first to get tossed over the side.

So. What do we the Liberals do in the face of this?

With all due respect, the only way to win this thing is to love the game. Bill Clinton did. He lived in campaign mode like a phoenix in fire. It was his genius. The more shit they threw at him, the more it slid off, the more powerful he became. He left office as loved as when he arrived.

We have to Brooklyn up. We need to raise Hell. We need to laugh those dangerous psychos into the ground, we need to dance, we need to celebrate our wonderful reality testing, our love for each other, our generosity, our sanity -- our values. Read Bob Herbert's column in today's paper. He and I think alike, though he gets paid for his writing, while I give it away for free.

Many of you know and understand me well by now. Despite this blog name I hardly ever carry a gun. I do not belong to the NRA. I am the GTL because I can, and because I am filled with love and I say it loud. No one can call me a bleeding heart or a punk or a patsy because I love my fellow man. It gives me strength.

I am here to remind you all what I forget from time to time and need to remind myself: Liberals are powerful, we can make noise, and smoke, and a mighty concussive force. And a joyful noise.

So tomorrow - no whining. Tomorrow I sing.

"Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." - Che Guevara

Clarity Comes

Just a flash, then more on this later. As I ready for work and the stories flow from NPR and the Today Show, I am struck that the election this year is a real watershed event.

My new headline for the election:


A cursory examination of every McCain campaign assertion, and the actual record of Sarah Palin, shows that the Republican win-at-all-costs fantasy machine is still humming along full-bore.

I wrote a post entitled "friction kills the spin machine" many moons ago. Guess I was wrong, or too optimistic, or both.

If buying into the fiction that gave us George W. Bush, Iraq, torture, trillions in debt, the death of Habeus Corpus, and the collapse of our banking system (to the great benefit of the super-rich) didn't wake us up, maybe nothing will.

Maybe nothing will.

More later.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Palin' in Comparison: Truth vs. Narrative

Many thanks to Dan W. for providing the link to this fascinating story. Let's hope the facts can pierce a hole in the narrative the McCain team has so far successfully put forward regarding his double-down bet on Sarah Palin as his veep choice.

If the author of this email is not on the Today Show this week and present by invitation at the first presidential debate later this month, it would be a tragic waste.

Thought for the Day:

"Another tax cut for the super-rich. That'll show bin Laden we mean business." - Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Quotes of the Day

I am going to try to post one or more thought-provoking quotations each day or so. Feedback will be appreciated!

For Saturday, September 6, 2008:

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

~ Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

or was it Karl Rove?

Friday, September 05, 2008

My Perverse Homeostasis.

Paul Krugman hit the nail on the head this morning in his op-ed piece in the Times. The Republicans, the ultimate elites, the ultimate Washington insiders, the ultimate enemies of the middle class - are appealing to the nation's anger and resentment by splitting their own character traits off from their group and projecting them onto the Left. Then they attack.

George Orwell said, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."

Friends. If we as a people do not wake up from the disease of fantasy and make-believe and address the very real problems that threaten us today, the game is over.

The Right is right about one thing: there is a culture of elites in this country, who truly do have contempt for real Americans' values. They cannot fathom our pain, or our fear that the American Dream is slipping out of our grasp. They think we're a nation of whiners and that, as long as big business is skimming the cream and the people live in a constant state of fear, everything is fine.

Mitt Romney got a great guffaw of derision from the assembled crowd in St. Paul when he mocked Al Gore and suggested the nation could save energy by "keeping Gore's private jet on the ground."

They loved it.

But Gore doesn't own a jet. That didn't matter.

Why? Why can an arena full of people be so easily turned into a political lynch mob by nonsense and lies? Wasn't America supposed to be different?

If we can solve the problem of why it didn't matter, and bring this game of high-stakes make-believe to an end, we might just be okay after all.

Reality hasn't mattered to the Republicans since Ronald Reagan quadrupled the size and expenditure of the federal government behind a mantra that Democrats were for "big government" and "tax-and-spend."

Some very smart people have actually bought into this nonsense, and for many years, too. Even liberals sometimes allow this fiction to stand. And if they can, anyone can.

You can.

The fact that reality didn't matter in 1980, or in St. Paul on Wednesday night, chills me to the bone. And the fact that the feckless mainstream media won't do anything about this disconnect from reality heats me back up with anger.

So at least I achieve a perverse kind of homeostasis.

If real multi-millionaire elites, like Mitt Romney, and real big-city reprobate strike-three divorcees like Rudy Giuliani, who could not care less about the sanctity of his three marriages, can convince us that they are the salt of the Earth, protecting the little guy from value-less, snooty Democrats, we are sunk.

And I mean sunk.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Giuliani On Fear

Rudy Giuliani told the crowd in St. Paul last night that the Democrats were "afraid to use the term 'Islamic Terrorism.'" The Dems pledged to fight terrorism, just not Islamic terrorism. That makes them weak and afraid, see. Sorry, Rudy, but making that dog hunt will be a a stretch even for a master truth-mangler like you.

The good news about the right wing is that they always project their own inadequacies and deep feelings on others and then ridicule them. Once you know the formula, they are very easy to understand.

There is fear abroad in the land. The Republicans fear having their clocks cleaned by Obama.

Psychological projection aside, there are words the Right fears more than any that the Left may be avoiding. Their fear is so palpable that these words were not uttered once in three days of the Republican National Convention, and only once last night, in the not-ready-for-prime-time slot filled by Mitt Romney.

What words are they afraid of saying out loud?




Why vote for a party that tries to disavow their own leader?

Come on, people, is there any Kool-Aid even left in the pitcher?

Sarah Palin and the RNC Convention. Yesterday is the New Tomorrow. Whitey Ascendant. Teen Booty-Call Redefines Family.

Having blogged about the come-hither charms of Sarah Palin, based only on her reputation and the raft of carefully-chosen still photos presented by the McCain campaign to the media, I felt I had to watch her convention speech last night and see what she is really like in motion.

I came away disappointed and very uneasy. No more steamy fantasies about her for me. She seemed creepy -- sassy and yet intolerantly provincial at the same time, with about as much gravitas as a high school student council candidate. Imagining her as our chief executive, or even as our number-one ambassador to the world, made me feel cold all over. If anyone could possibly garner less credibility on the world stage than George W. Bush, here she was.

As an effete east-coast intellectual, I almost choked on my latte as I watched the video of the audience ("crowd" would be too generous, given all the empty seats).

The GOP has clearly abandoned their pretense of inclusiveness, their attempts to make their party look like the real America. Amid an ocean of pale skin, neck wattles, receding hairlines, odd hats and ill-fitting clothes, and seemingly finger-painted "Hockey Moms 4 Palin" signs, I counted fewer than five blacks, and almost as few young people. Compared to the crowd at Obama's convention, the RNC seemed to proclaim that the future belongs to... the past?

But creepier still was the constant return to the image of various members of the Palin family holding and caressing the famous Down's Syndrome infant the candidate courageously decided not to abort, or so goes the heavy-as-lead narrative. I'm not sure why, if her campaign wants her family left out of the public eye, they would insist on inflicting the image of the baby being passed around like a plate of nachos.

I also want to be first on the record in saying that the hapless high-school kid that knocked up Palin's daughter Bristol is NOT a member of the Palin family, no matter how many anti-reality spells the Republicans try to cast over the arena.

What the hell was this Young Stud of the Klondike doing onstage?! Whose idea was that?! Over here we have Obama, his wife and daughters, and over here... Palin, her family, and... a kid who got laid!

See hypocrisy's genitals! See family re-defined! See the vice-presidential statutory baby-daddy!

Look, if Bristol were my daughter, impregnated in an illegal, premarital, underage booty-call, I would be chasing that kid off the stage with my beloved lightweight aluminum Smith & Wesson .38 Special, not foisting him at the septuagenarian McCain for the Least-Comfortable Hug Ever. (Or was it a handshake? By that time I was so numb McCain could have sunk his incisors into the kid's neck and drank his blood and it would have failed to shock me.)

Whither abstinence, Wasilla? Thither thou goest, America?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Young Levi Does the Bristol Stomp. What's At Stake in '08. Jacoby Gets It Right (sort of).

Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe today, says, "Ambiguities may muddle the 2008 campaign, but not when it comes to abortion. The next president and vice president will be the most pro-choice in US history. Or the most pro-life."

Although we fall on differing sides of the debate, Jacoby clearly states something we all must remember as we head into the home stretch toward November:

The upcoming election will be - and ought to be - the mother of all abortion rights battles. Enough finagling and finessing, enough prevaricating and posturing. The candidates are either "fer it or agin' it," and the consequences of our choice will ring throughout the nation for generations to come.

Let's begin by being clear about one thing the Right would just as soon forget:

Abortions happen.

Legal or illegal, safe or dangerous, throughout recorded history women have always, and will always, seek abortions. And by the way, when Republicans get into office, abortion rates skyrocket. It's true. Look it up.

Abortions will happen, and gambling will happen, and drug use will happen, and gay affairs in bathrooms at airports will happen, and all the social ills your pastor warns you to avoid will keep on keepin' on. They are as human as greed, gluttony, or karaoke (unfortunately). The salient question is whether we deal with them as adults in a real world, minimizing their ill effects on society, or as make-believe players who think (for example) that somehow teaching nothing at all about sex will keep youngsters like Bristol Palin from getting knocked up.

(By the way, the rich will always be able to get safe abortions. If you think a McCain, Bush, or Kennedy will ever see the bent side of a wire hanger, you know as little about America as you do about human nature. It's the rest of our daughters, sisters, girlfriends and wives we need to worry about.)

Regardless of the Conservatives' self-proclaimed "compassion," don't expect exceptions for victims of rape or incest if McCain and Palin emerge victorious. If abortion is murder, it's murder. Period. A baby from incest at age eleven is no different than one lovingly conceived on a virginal bride's wedding night.

To confuse matters further, both John McCain and Sarah Palin support the death penalty. So much for the sanctity of human life.

An Obama administration will reverse the erosion of women's rights the so-called "pro-life" faction has achieved since the Christian Right infiltrated American politics in the eighties. He will, through legislation and Supreme Court appointments, cement the rights to clean and competent medical care women fought for and gained over the past century in terms of how they deal with unwanted pregnancy.

A McCain administration will strip those protections away, change the course of women's reproductive health, and send thousands of women and girls into a retrograde history-book nightmare of back alleys and illegal abortion mills when they want or need to end a pregnancy.

Banning abortion is a deceptively simple ideological fix for a very complex, real-world problem.

From the Levees of New Orleans to the Levis of Wasilla, reality punctures ideology every time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Headlines We'd Like To See: Part One

They shoot commercials, don't they? Here are some taglines and/or headlines you should be seeing, but probably won't:





Monday, September 01, 2008

Strike Up The Band. Cue The Jets For The Fly-Over. Here We Go Again.

I like reading Bill Kristol early in the day, before eating or drinking, so that when the bile rises, as it inevitably does, there is less of it.

But today I am happy with Kristol's New York Times op-ed piece, and I'll tell you why. Here is the salient paragraph:

The Palin pick already, as Noemie Emery wrote, “Wipes out the image of McCain as the crotchety elder and brings back that of the fly-boy and gambler, which is much more appealing, and the genuine person.” But of course McCain needs Palin to do well to prove he’s a shrewd and prescient gambler.

If my instincts are right, the American electorate has had it up to here with choosing fly-boys and gamblers for president. Knowledge, experience, and maturity have redeemed themselves fabulously in eight short years. If John McCain is worried enough about being perceived as an out-of-touch "crotchety elder" to exchange that persona for one of a reckless and impulsive fighter-jock, it makes the case against electing him that much stronger.

In 2000, Al Gore was the known quantity, the policy wonk, the Washington insider with decades of legislative experience. George W. Bush was the gutsy, daring, "outside the beltway" choice.

Today most Americans wish Gore had fought more forcefully for the office the people chose him for. We know deep down that he would not have staffed the government with unqualified, know-nothing cronies or thumbed his nose at longstanding allies and the United Nations. Many believe that a Gore administration would have gone after Al Qaeda on day one, and the 9/11 attacks would likely not have happened at all. There is more than enough evidence to suggest this.

Most importantly, Al Gore would not have invaded Iraq.

It seems the height of stupidity for Mr. Kristol, and Senator McCain, for that matter, to remind us of gutsy, risk-taking fighter pilots, of President Bush standing before that highly-orchestrated backdrop of a navy battleship at dusk, in full battle gear, proclaiming, "mission accomplished" in Iraq.

Today's Republican neo-conservatives, tasting their own blood in the 2008 electoral waters, somehow seem compelled to remind us of better days, when another gambling fly-boy's shameful and disgraceful jaunt into make-believe leadership had yet to be exposed.