Posts Tagged ‘Palin’

When Tools Speak

February 3, 2009

I guess when you find some “regular” guy outside the Beltway that still likes the GOP, you ride him into the ground. The guy used as a campaign mouthpiece is now taken as some font of knowledge.

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – more commonly known as Joe the Plumber — will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

Wurzelbacher, who became a household name during the presidential election, will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package. He’s apparently not a fan of the economic rescue package, according to members of the group.

What, a republican tool who’s not endorsing a Democrat-led proposal? Who would imagine such a thing.

Wurzelbacher is the mythical Joe Six-Pack who is paraded around as what regular guys think, which makes him whoring him far worse than following polls and focus groups, which at least involve several people. Wurzelbacher is treated as if his opinion is somehow informed when, in fact, he’s just a guy with, at best, a cursory understanding of the issues. (Then, again, the same can be said of conservatives like William Kristol.)

Like Sarah Palin (and so many liberal celebrities that conservatives often criticize), Wurzelbacher thinks his fame means that he has something to say.


Republican Intellectual Socialsm

December 26, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of those dangerous driving moments as I listened to Dennis Prager talk about gifted children. First, I heard him ask if children with As were any happier than children making Cs and Ds. His point was that they aren’t, so why put kids in gifted programs. To further that point, he claimed that the reason parents put their kids in gifted programs was so that the kids could make more money as adults. Nevermind that I have a child in a gifted program and that money has nothing to do with it (for me and the other parents in that class, as we have talked about it to a great extent). The point of such program is the opportunity and the capacity to learn. As my son said while in his regular class, “What’s two plus two? Too boring . . . that’s what my class is.”

Prager’s comments, however, capture the problem with too many pundits, conservatives in particular. First, their problem is a complete lack of knowledge on topics that they spew opinions about. More significantly, they desire a kind of intellectual socialism that reduces everyone to their know-nothing levels.

It was one thing to be anti-East Coast intellectualism as they were at one time, even though many of post-WWII leaders and pundits were from the East Coast. At least, I understand the point of opposing a certain school of thought that one might call “East Coast intellectualism.” But today’s conservative pundits go beyond that, demeaning any type of intellectualism, even college education itself.

Sarah Palin’s hero status among these conservatives epitomizes this resistance to knowledge as the basis for policy. Mark Davis, Dallas radio host and newspaper columnist, touted McCain’s selection of Palin as the greatest political moment of 2008. Yet, other than being ‘mavericky’ Palin has no knowledge to distinguish her as a politician. Like Prager, she throws out opinions based on no real knowledge of the topic. There’s a progression with recent Republican White House candidates. Reagan hardly had a sharp mind for detailed knowledge; instead, his appeal was mostly an emotional one (patriotism and strength) with a general policy of ‘less government’ and an economic theory he really didn’t understand in detail. (See David Stockman’s Triumph of Politics.) George W. Bush demonstrated even less detailed knowledge, although he had an MBA. In Palin, we saw such a descent into ignorance that it was uncomfortable even for Democrats and liberals.

That’s not to say conservatives are ignorant. I know too many that are engineers and very intelligent people. But the conservative leaders and, in particular, the pundits have such a disdain for intellectualism that they seem to pursue arguments, like Prager’s, that equalizes intelligence. As appealing as it is think that anyone can be president, or vice-president, that’s not really true. Excluding experience from the discussion, Palin’s body of knowledge was too puny to qualify her for VP. I want someone smarter than me in the White House, even though I’m no idiot, and neither are most Americans. The advocacy of Palin as a vice presidential candidate was not a hallmark of independent, maverick politics. It was the advocacy of incompetence, of marginal understanding of national issues, and of equalizing intelligence, the kind of socialist endeavor that conservatives froth at in any economic areas. At one point, McCain cited Palin’s PTA experience as one of her qualifications, which is one of the most ridiculous statements of the campaign.

But this is the path that conservative leaders are taking Republicans down. I know many conservatives, and most are not opposed to intelligence, and they recognize that there are different types, with not all being equal. Some admitted to being uncomfortable with Palin on the ticket, but I think they saw this elevation of ignorance as dangerous to the party, especially those conservatives who view themselves more as economic conservatives rather than religious or social conservatives.

With candidates such as Palin, it’s little wonder that Prager dismisses gifted and advanced education.

Spreading a Wealth of Lies 2

October 28, 2008

As a follow-up to my previous post, here are Palin’s statements in Des Moines. Let us count the lies together.

See, under a big government, more tax agenda, what you thought was yours would really start belonging to somebody else, to everybody else1. If you thought your income, your property, your inventory, your investments were, were yours, they would really collectively belong to everybody2. Obama, Barack Obama has an ideological commitment to higher taxes, and I say this based on his record… Higher taxes, more government, misusing the power to tax leads to government moving into the role of some believing that government then has to take care of us3. And government kind of moving into the role as the other half of our family, making decisions for us4.

1 Only workers making over $250,000 face the possibility of higher taxes under Obama’s plan. 95% of workers will see a reduction or no increase of their federal income taxes. That is an undeniable fact.
2 Nowhere does Obama propose taking money from one person and giving it to another. As I explained previously, he is proposing a tax credit to workers for income and payroll taxes that they pay. All workers pay the payroll tax, so no one is getting someone else’s money: Obama is giving people back money that they themselves paid. This is probably Palin’s biggest lie. She goes so far as to suggest Obama’s going to come in with his gummint goons and take your furniture and silverware to give to “other” people.
3 Where in Obama’s record has he misused the power to tax? Nowhere. And guess what? His current tax plan calls for LOWER OR THE SAME TAXES for everyone not making more than $250,000 a year. For those making more than $250,000, they’ll see tax rates that they had in the 90s.
4 Oh no, it’s Married to the Government. But where is government making decisions for families? By giving families tax credits, Obama is giving them a choice to spend or save that money.

It seems that Palin is completely unable to make a statement without lying.

Ask a Simple Question, Get a Defensive Palin

October 1, 2008

Sometimes, I think the easiest to do is to play the martyr. Certainly, John McCain and Sarah Palin seem good at it. How paranoid do you have to be to respond as Palin does to a very simple, mundane question? Notice in the clip how Palin assumes Couric is implying that Alaskans aren’t informed. Instead, in a climate in which people seem to attend increasingly to more ideologically driven news sources, Couric simply asks what kinds of news sources Palin reads. Instead, Palin launches in a very defensive mode, almost attacking Couric for asking such a question. Who knew that asking a candidate to defend a claim with specifics, to address an important topic like the judiciary to the conservative movement, or to respond to a major shift in foreign policy were such dastardly attempts to catch the candidate with their mental pants down.

What you see in campaigns will be magnified once the person is in office. And what we’re seeing from McCain and Palin is that they consider being held accountable for their words is inappropriate and contemptuous.

McCain’s Gotcha Politics

September 30, 2008

Listening to John and Sarah try to explain how she didn’t contradict McCain on Pakistan is, well, just painful to those of us who are used to honesty and sense.

For the record of Palin’s response in context, read this record of the discussion, which is essentially the same as her response to a Charles Gibson question.

“So we do cross-border, like from Afghanistan to Pakistan, you think?” Rovito asked.

“If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said.

The fact is that McCain attacked Obama for a deliberate misreading of his statement last year:

Obama said there was “misreporting” of his comments, that “I never called for an invasion of Pakistan or Afghanistan.” He said rather than a surge in the number of troops in Iraq, there needs to be a “diplomatic surge” and that U.S. troops should be withdrawn within a year.

Further, the U.S. senator from Illinois said, if there were “actionable intelligence reports” showing al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the U.S. troops as a last resort should enter and try to capture terrorists. That would happen, he added, only if “the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling” to go after the terrorists.

If anything, Obama’s answer was far more mature than Palin’s unqualified plan to cross the Pakistani border because he put a very specific qualification to it: the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling” to pursue the terrorists.

Yet, not so long ago, conservatives criticized Clinton for not attacking bin Laden in foreign countries, even if it meant taking out innocents or non-al Qaeda political leaders with him. [See the Fox interview starting at the 4:00 mark.]

The fact is that Palin says nothing substantively different than what Obama said. Instead, McCain and Palin try to divert us from that inescapable fact with some wildass claim about “gotcha” journalism, which is generally understood as taking advantage of a simple or ambiguous question to highlight some apparent contradiction. That wasn’t what happened with Palin: she was asked a rather clear question and answered it with some specificity.

But I have a question for McCain who criticized Obama for his statement to protect America: what exactly did he mean when he said the following:

If he truly meant what he said, then, without a doubt, countries like Pakistan understand what he’s saying. To that end, he doesn’t differ from what Obama said.

The only “gotcha” here is McCain’s pathetic “gotcha politics” for trying to make Obama sound naive when, in fact, he’s not saying anything different than what an “experienced” senator like McCain himself has said: he will do what is necessary.

Spiraling McCain Wants a Time-Out

September 25, 2008

We’ve known how bad the Palin pick was, but we had idea that it was so bad that John McCain would try to keep her from the press. But now that she has been exposed repeatedly by rather tame interviewers, the McCain campaign is now trying to keep her out of the vice presidential debates by postponing them.

Is it any wonder? She might just make Stockdale look prepared.

By “suspending” his campaign for an issue that two weeks ago he didn’t think was “about to crater,” McCain seems close to just giving up on the election. I’m trying to figure out what exactly he’s going to contribute to this economic issue. Consider his infamous statement a few days ago: After saying the economy was fundamentally strong, he proceeds to list his usual economic plan . . . “robust energy plan . . . low taxes and reduced burden of government.” Folks, government burden, energy, and taxes have zero to do with the current problems. If anything, the lack of government oversight is responsible for this crisis. We don’t need the failure that is his vice presidential candidate (who is not ready to be president today) to know that McCain has no idea what’s going on or what to do. We can listen to him on the topics themselves to know that he’s lost . . . in more ways than one. The current economic issue is so difficult for him that apparently, he can’t focus on anything else. After he’s still trying to figure out if he supports the bailout or not.

Barack Obama, on the other, has shown calm leadership, doing what should always be done–lay out, first, criteria for a good solution for the Wall Street crisis.

With all the controversies surrounding McCain and Palin, it’s no wonder he wants a time-out.

Arrogant Ignorance

September 18, 2008

One of the disturbing things about George Bush is that, for a man lacking knowledge and experience in so many areas, he displayed more than just confidence but outright arrogance. It seems that we are seeing that odd combination yet again in Sarah Palin. For example, consider the following exchange with a very GOP-friendly townhall meeting:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Palin, there has been quite a bit of discussion about your perceived lack of foreign policy experience. And I want to give you your chance. If you could please respond to that criticism and give us specific skills that you think you have to bring to the White House to rebut that or mitigate that concern.

PALIN: Well, I think because I’m a Washington outsider that opponents are going to be looking for a whole lot of things that they can criticize and they can kind of try to beat the candidates here, who chose me as his partner, to kind of tear down the ticket. But as for foreign policy, you know, I think that I am prepared and I know that on January 20th, if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we’ll be ready. I’ll be ready. I have that confidence. I have that readiness.

Nowhere does she describe the specific skills that the questionner asked for. Instead, she just gives us this Stewart Smiley belief in herself, as if that is all that is needed. Yet, her interviews continue to reveal someone who really has no idea about anything and displays, like Bush, a penchant for obtuse and incoherent statements.

Through reform, absolutely.  Look at the oversight that has been lack, I believe, here at the 1930s type of regulatory regime overseeing some of these corporations.

It seems that Tina Fey’s portrayal wasn’t an insult: the impersonation may have actually been more intelligible and smarter than the real thing.

It’s important to be confident and to believe that you can do something, but generally that’s what we expect of underachievers, the inexperienced, and the young. But we’re not talking a job learning program: candidates must display some real qualifications, real knowledge about national issues, when running for national office. For example, consider the contrast the Jerusalem Post drew between McCain and Obama:

In March, on his whirlwind visit to Israel, Republican presidential nominee John McCain, one of whose primary strengths is said to be his intimate grasp of foreign affairs, chose to bring along Sen. Joe Lieberman to the interview our diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon and I conducted with him, looked to Lieberman several times for reassurance on his answers and seemed a little flummoxed by a question relating to the nuances of settlement construction.

Several of Obama’s Middle East advisers – including former Clinton special envoy Dennis Ross and ex-ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer – were hovering in the vicinity. But Obama, who was making only his second visit to Israel, knew precisely what he wanted to say about the most intricate issues confronting and concerning Israel, and expressed himself clearly, even stridently on key subjects.

The fact is that with the Republican ticket, voters have no idea what they are getting: Palin doesn’t demonstrate any qualifying knowledge or mental prowess, and John McCain just flips and flops so much that we don’t know what he stands for.

Palin: Money Before Kids

September 17, 2008

Palin sought millions of dollars from the federal government for pet projects in her hometown of Wasilla

But she fired the state safety commissioner for trying to get federal funds to prevent sex crimes against kids.

She just doesn’t get it.

Fiorina’s Definition of Sexism

September 15, 2008

From the files of “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” I give you Carly Fiorina’s definition of sexism.

She said that Fey’s portrayal was “sexist in the sense that just because she has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean she lacks substance.” I had no idea that Hillary Clinton was so central in defining what is and is not sexist.

The only way you can interpret her definition of sexism is that Fiorina thinks Hillary is a man.

The Last Gasp for Republican Moderates

September 15, 2008

I think Sarah Palin poses a very interesting issue for the GOP, win or lose. Typically, political parties, after losing the presidential election, play the game of blaming the different party factions: “We need to move more to the middle!” and “We didn’t stick with our core (read: extreme) values and policies!”

Without a doubt, Palin has energized the Republican base and religious right, which were less than enthusiastic of McCain (and still are to some degree). If McCain wins, can we expect McCain to roll back on his 75+ flip-flops to appeal to the extreme wing of the GOP? Probably not, because Palin could argue that she was responsible for that win. And who’s to say the self-described pit bull won’t want more meat of the bone to chew on, that she won’t want to have more say in policies? (Maybe then she can finally get her ex-brother-in-law fired.)

But, if McCain loses, it won’t be blamed on Palin but on McCain because he didn’t appeal to the far right until late in the game (regardless of the fact that he started those appeals and flip-flops more than 2 years ago).

Win or lose, I’m predicting that the extreme wing of the GOP will wrest even more party control and that the moderates will have had their day. You might be a Republican who believes in limited government but in freedom from government intrustion in your personal life. And you are about to find yourself even further removed from the GOP, which about to be a beast of cultural war. A party of supposed Christian values that sees fear and war in every corner.