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Poor Michael Goldfarb….

[ 46 ] September 2, 2008 |

Guess that no one tells him anything. Tim Cavanaugh:

In an unguarded moment last night, McCain Report blogger Michael Goldfarb replied to my question of whether there’s any truth to the rumor that Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome child is actually her daughter’s with the following less-than-confidence-inspiring comment: “Well, I don’t…think so.” He added that the whole thing, like Hurricane Gustav, will have played out, one way or another, within the next 24 hours.

That wasn’t enough for the pretty pro-McCain crowd he was talking to, and when one interlocutor (not me) accused McCain of not having properly vetted his nominee, Goldfarb dropped the M bomb. “He’s a maverick,” he said. “That’s the way mavericks do things!”

This is just hilarious. We now know that the rumor can’t possibly be true, but it turns out that McCain’s own people gave it enough credence to try to obfuscate the issue. The McCain campaign sure is one hell of a well oiled machine…

John Adams Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, Right?

[ 0 ] September 1, 2008 |

I appreciate gmack’s injunction not to make his head explode by referring to more inane Palin trivia. But I can’t let this slide:

Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

SP: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance

A-hem. Is there… uh, is there a defensible interpretation? This is something I’d expect from a garden variety internet wingnut, which I suppose is part of the point of the Palin selection, but still; we’re talking about someone who might be President in a year.

Nice to See Some Respect for Her Right to Decide, But…

[ 34 ] September 1, 2008 |

Ann Friedman makes the critical point regarding the McCain campaign’s announcement that Bristol Palin “made the decision on her own to keep the baby”:

I mean, John McCain and Sarah Palin don’t believe women have a right to choose. It’s absolutely absurd for the campaign to emphasize the fact that Bristol “made this decision,” and then push for policies that take away that choice

Right. She made the decision on her own. Sarah Palin and John McCain would prefer that the state coerce young women into having children.

Places Not To Go

[ 20 ] September 1, 2008 |

Monika Bauerlein is, of course, correct that it would be grossly sexist to bring up Palin’s youngest child or his disability with any implication that this makes her running for vice president inappropriate. To state the obvious, nobody would bring such things up about a male vice presidential candidate, just as when people bring up family issues to explain the gross underrepresentation of women clerking for the Supreme Court they never seem to question how Antonin Scalia has had a long career as an appellate judge with nine kids. Men are also capable of being caregivers, and the assumption that Palin should have the primary responsibility for caring for her children is just sexism, full stop. There are very good reasons to oppose her — most notably such rather more important things as her very reactionary political views and her lack of knowledge about most important domestic and foreign policy issues — but the fact that she has become a state leader while being a mother of five is emphatically not one of them.

And while I’m not suggesting that it’s on the same level, somebody also needs to have a long talk with Joe Biden.

Pete Townshend: Not a Handsome Man

[ 12 ] September 1, 2008 |

Back in the spring of 2001, the grad students at the University of Washington went on strike to gain recognition of union affiliation. Watkins, Lemieux and I walked the line at 45th and 17th NE, right across from frat row. The frat boys decided to “support” our efforts by blasting Keep On Working on repeat as loud as they could. Then the cops came and made them turn the music off.

Happy Labor Day!

The Vegan Threat

[ 22 ] September 1, 2008 |

Glenn Greenwald is doing yeoman’s work regarding the use of state terror to quash the possibility of dissent at the RNC. Now admittedly to this point it’s what might be called “soft terror:” no one is actually being shot, for instance. Instead, people are having their doors smashed down by SWAT teams armed with ludicrous search warrants, who then proceed neutralize the Vegan Threat to Democracy by holding teenagers at gunpoint while their residences are ransacked. Hardly anyone is being charged with anything, since there appears to be no evidence that anyone was planning to break the law.

Meanwhile, despite the immediate proximity of hundreds if not thousands of journalists, all this remains invisible in the national media. A Nexis search reveals not one reference to these raids in any newspaper other than the two Twin Cities dailies. Nor has any television network mentioned them, other than a very brief reference yesterday on CNN.

Too Funny

[ 0 ] September 1, 2008 |

Just in case there hasn’t been too much coverage of Sarah Palin here, I thought I’d let everyone know that the word on Alaskan Street is that representatives from the McCain camp have disembarked at a Wasilla hotel, where they’ve rented a handful rooms and will begin doing background research on their Vice Presidential nominee, like, one of these days.

He Fell. Onto Some Bullets.

[ 17 ] August 31, 2008 |

Try to make it sound plausible…

The owner of an internet site critical of the Russian authorities in the volatile region of Ingushetia has been shot dead in police custody. Magomed Yevloyev, owner of the site, was a vocal critic of the region’s administration.

The Russian prosecutor’s office said an investigation into the death had been launched, Russia media report. A post on Yevloyev’s site says he was detained by police after landing at the airport of the main town, Nazran.

Shot himself twice in the back of the head, maybe?

More from Palinland

[ 44 ] August 31, 2008 |

Ari and Eric have have dug up some fun details about Sarah Palin’s first few months as mayor of Wasilla. Elected to bestow “change” upon the town, Palin instead went on a rampage, demanding — a la Jimmy Carter — that her stable of city managers resign and then re-apply for their positions as a test of loyalty. She drove three septuagenarian museum curators into disgruntled retirement, and she canned the librarian and police chief, both of whom had supported her opponent, a three-term incumbent.

Obviously, the choices made by a first-term, small-town mayor in early 1997 tell us very little about Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate nearly a dozen years later. Unless, that is, you realize that what Palin was up to in early 1997 bears a strong resemblance to the road she took toward firing Walt Monegan last month. Likable though she may be, Palin has established an obvious pattern of using public office to settle private scores and to retaliate against fellow public officials who have been deemed insufficiently helpful.

More substantively, Palin’s vaunted record as a budget-trimming “maverick” and a principled opponent of federal pork is unpersuasive at best. She has never opposed federal earmarks on principle, even for the patently absurd Gravina Island bridge. And while she hacked nearly $270 million from this year’s budget, the “principles” she deployed were inconsistent and at times of an evidently provincial nature. She left most projects in the Matanuska-Susitna valley — her home region — untouched (though she dismantled a funding proposal for a recycling center); and she allowed the state to fund a bullshit “academic based” conference to highlight the unique argument that shrinking polar ice doesn’t threaten polar bears. It’s true that she eliminated funding for a zamboni blade-sharpener — a budget item that was to state political comedy what the “Bridge to Nowhere” was for the rest of the country — but to describe Palin as “anti-pork” requires that we overlook the basic point that “pork” is simply synonymous with “projects I don’t like.”

Meantime, fiscal conservatives — and anyone who doesn’t enjoy setting a pile of cash on fire — ought to be wondering why “maverick” Sarah Palin just threw away $500 million in preliminary funding for a natural gas pipeline that will never actually be constructed. But this, too, is being held up as evidence that Palin is “standing up” to the corporate fat cats, an admirable gesture only if you believe that mavericktude requires blowing half a billion dollars for no substantive gain.

Of course, I realize that almost none of this will alter the mainstream press narrative about Palin and her spot in the race. Friends of mine who work in state government are confident that the national press is not going to tip over for Palin the way the local media have; I wish they were right, but so far, my skepticism has been amply rewarded. The concrete is drying on the “maverick” label; it’s going to be mooseburgers, go-go boots, hockey and Down Syndrome from here on in.


[ 0 ] August 31, 2008 |

I’m currently reading Nixonland, Rick Perlstein’s brilliant cultural history of the United States through the lens of the rise and fall and rise again of Richard Nixon (I don’t know yet if he gets to the final fall). Perlstein documents how Nixon invented and refined a particularly effective politics of resentment — a kind of right-wing populism that harnessed suspicion of and anger towards “eggheads,” “elitists,” and of course the nattering nabobs of negativity.

In thinking about McCain’s preposterous VP selection, it strikes me that Sarah Palin is in one sense a perfect reflection of that politics. Palin is the kind of choice that appeals to people who are contemptuous of the very idea of expertise, political or otherwise.

Unfortunately this isn’t merely a symbolic issue. McCain has, from an actuarial point of view, about a 15% chance of dying of natural causes between 2009 and 2012. In addition to the strictly medical risk that he’ll die in office, a man of his age and health history (the kind of damage he endured as a POW often has severe long-term health consequences that manifest themselves decades later) has a significantly non-trivial chance of suffering some sort of incapacitating medical event over the next few years.

The notion that there’s perhaps a one in four or five chance that, if McCain is elected, Palin, who apparently knows almost literally nothing about foreign policy, will end up in command of the world’s most powerful military ought to give anyone who doesn’t buy into charmingly idiotic Hollywood fantasies about how neat it would be if Everyman (or woman) became president through a wacky series of coincidences considerable pause.

A couple of other notes on Palin.

(1) Apparently she’s been outside the United States twice: She visited Ireland, and she took a trip to Germany and Kuwait in 2007 to visit members of the Alaska National Guard. Note that this isn’t two foreign trips while governor: it’s two international trips in her entire life. If nothing else, Canada should be outraged.

(2) She was a beauty pageant contestant while in college, and finished second in the Miss Alaska pageant. This is exactly the kind of detail that endears her to Outer Wingnuttia, including professional feminist (cough) contrarian Camille Paglia, who will no doubt soon be committing crimes against the English language while addressing this topic on an internet site near you.

Sunday Links

[ 0 ] August 31, 2008 |

Heading out to Great American this afternoon to watch the 60-76 Reds play for pride against the 59-76 Giants. Woo. Hoo. Some links for your pleasure:

Huck the Fuskies!

[ 0 ] August 31, 2008 |

If we don’t stop the revaunchist Washington Husky football team in Eugene tonight, the result will be eighty-five times worse than Munich.