Monday, November 24, 2008

It's going to get worse before it gets better

If the U.S. economy affects you in any way (and how could it not) then this article on the still collapsing housing market should send a chill down your spine. I was especially stricken by the following statistic:

Of the homes that did find buyers in October, nearly half were the result of a sale after a foreclosure.

Any way you slice it, that's pretty grim. I'd hate to be trying to sell a house right now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Hearty Congrats!

A hearty Patriot's congratulations go out to John Lennon, who as of a couple of days ago is no longer roasting in Hell.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Enough with the bad news!

Good stuff happens, too, from time to time.

It's snowing outside my window as I type, by the way. And it's beautiful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dept. of Injustices

The Bush Administration is urging a federal court to toss a lawsuit brought by Amish farmers who are concerned that state mandated RFID tags on their cattle are the Mark of the Beast.

It's hard not to have a soft spot for the Amish. After all, who has not at some point or another dreamed of leaving the complexities of modern life behind for the wholesome simplicity of a, 17th century agrarian lifestyle? And yet, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that we are, in our imaginations, returning to a era in which old widows were routinely burned for witchcraft, and most ailments were treated with leeches applied by a man who played a double role as the town's physician and barber. Maybe we'd be better off imagining ourselves as peaceful hobbits, tilling soil in Middle Earth.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saving Detroit

I'm going to make a confession right now that's a little, perhaps, risqué for a liberal blogger: I love cars. That's right, I love driving them, I love looking at them, I love reading about them. At the height of the media's pro-war boosterism in the run-up to the Iraq invasion, I was so disgusted with CNN and MSNBC (no need to mention Fox) that I often instead turned my attention to the Speed Channel and watched outrageous monster trucks crushing lesser prey under the weight of their massive tires. It was a mental sanity break from news about a nation gone insane.

So now, with the heads of Detroit's big three automakers on their knees in Washington begging for a handout in order to assure their continued survival, I thought I'd play armchair legislator and offer my prescription for what it's going to take to save the U.S. auto industry. Because I simply cannot imagine the nation without a domestic automotive industry which accounts for a significant portion of our industrial production. It would be disastrous if we lost it. So it must be saved, though not in its current incarnation. The auto industry needs massive restructuring if it is to survive well into the 21st century.

One of Detroit's biggest problems, it seems to me, is the proliferation of brands. Most of the Japanese automakers have only two or three. They generally have a luxury division: Acura, Lexus, Infinity and a non-luxury brand Honda, Toyota, Nissan. Toyota ads a youth brand named Scion. Why in the world General Motors needs Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Saturn, Hummer, Saab and Cadillac brands is beyond me. Why Dodge and Chrysler are different brands ia also a mystery (Jeep as a separate brand makes a little more sense). And just what the point of Ford's Mercury division is, I've never quite understood. It's basically little more than a trim level for Ford products, like their Eddie Bauer edition explorers.

My modest proposal, then is twofold. The first is to consolidate all the automakers into one, the United States Automotive Group. Saving the auto industry is going to take piles of cash, and with the massive federal debt we've got (thanks Reagan and Bush!) we simply can't afford to bail out and nurse along (possibly for decades) three separate companies that haven't yet figured out how to make cars suitable for the current market.

The next step is deciding which products and product lines survive from the three companies. I propose the following:

1) Luxury Division

Like the Asian automakers, the US auto industry should be divided into a Luxury division and a non-luxury division. Once that's done, deciding what cars fall into the luxury division is very simple: Cadillacs. Cadillac makes the only American Luxury car worthy of the name. Lincoln should be put out to pasture. Of all the Cadillac lineup two models deserve to survive:

a) The CTS and variants - this model group will compete with Lexus, Infinity and the BMW 3 series for customers.

b) The Cadillac DTS and variants - this model group competes with Mercedes and the BMW 5 and 7 series cars.

c) Separately, The Corvette survives as a luxury sports car.

2) Non-luxury division

This is a little more difficult picking, so let's start with the simplest decision first.

a) All truck divisions/brands die except for the Ford F-Series trucks.

b) The Ford Fusion and the Chevy Malibu survive as worthy family sedans.

c) The Ford Escape survives as a small SUV in both regular and Hybrid trim. USA auto develops a version with third-row seating.

d) The Chrysler 300 surives (temporarily) as a large family sedan and a police varint is developed to replace the aging Ford Crown Victoria.

e) The Dodge Grand Caravan survives as America's minivan

f) The Jeep Wrangler survives as a niche vehicle/brand.

g) All large SUVs die. If a large SUV is needed as a niche vehicle (towing, etc.) it is developed as a variant of the Ford F series truck platform.

3) Economy/Youth division

a) The Ford Focus survives as America's small, cheap, realiable economy car.

b) The Ford Mustang survives to feed the appetites of the Fast&Furious/Tuner crowd. However, it is retooled to be a bit smaller and lighter. A 4 cylinder version is developed that gets 20/28 MPG (perhaps with a turbo option) and the 6 cylinder version is retained. The 8 cylinder Mustang is dropped alltogether. A Mustang that is geared (and priced) to the Honda Civic Si/Scion TC/Mazdaspeed3 crowd would have one huge advanatge over its rivals: rear wheel drive.

In concert with this reorganization, Detroit needs to march full speed ahead with Hybrid development, especially the promising Chevy Volt. As soon as it becomes feasible the consolidated U.S. auto industry needs to introduce Hybrid variants of as many of its models as feasible, first as conventionl hybrids, and then, as model evolution progresses, as extended range electrics like the Volt.

Finally, the government needs to nurture the growth and development of Tesla Motors, the all-electric vehicle concern, with an eye toward eventually turning it into a second U.S. automotive company/Domestic competitor to the United Staes Automotive coporation.

Those are my thoughts, at any rate. They may be hairbrained. They are almost certainly overly simplistic. But I suspect something close to what I've drawn out must come to pass, or the country will a) lose its domestic auto industry all together or b) bankrupt itself trying to save it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Abandon Hope

David Brooks writes a charming piece in today's New York Times. It's titled "The Formerly Middle Class" but might as well have been titled "Take a bottle of sleeping pills, wash it down with a gin & tonic, and call me in the morning." The gist of this curious article is this: things are going to get bad over the next couple years... really, really bad, and oh, by the way, did you know that if you slit your wrists while lying in a warm bathtub you sorta just drift away and don't feel anything?

First Brooks wants us to disabuse ourselves of the romantic notion that tough economic times make us better people. In fact, they turn us all into conniving, deceitful snake-oil salesmen:

The Great Depression was not only a time of F.D.R.’s optimism and escapist movies, it was also a time of apocalyptic forebodings and collectivist movements that crushed individual rights. The recession of the 1970s produced a cynicism that has never really gone away. The share of students who admitted to cheating jumped from 34 percent in 1969 to 60 percent a decade later. More than a quarter of all employees said the goods they produced were so shoddily made that they wouldn’t buy them for themselves.
And if you thought the looming recession/depression was going to make us all folksy and family oriented like in the Waltons, you're wrong. Americans don't live in families any more since we're all divorced and sharing the kids on weekends and alternating vacations. Except now we'll have to move back in with our ex's and be at each others throats even though the divorce was final three years ago. It'll be like Little House on the Prairie meets Huis Clos with Daddy and his husband Mack sharing one huge quilt-covered bed with Mommy and her wife Suzette and three psychologically damaged kids:
In times of recession, people spend more time at home. But this will be the first steep recession since the revolution in household formation. Nesting amongst an extended family rich in social capital is very different from nesting in a one-person household that is isolated from family and community bonds. People in the lower middle class have much higher divorce rates and many fewer community ties. For them, cocooning is more likely to be a perilous psychological spiral.
What's worse, all the pretty young ladies will dress like the Amish to cover up their nakedness and pornography will be dominated by aging and overweight English nannies:
Recessions breed pessimism. That’s why birthrates tend to drop and suicide rates tend to rise. That’s why hemlines go down. Tamar Lewin of The New York Times reported on studies that show that the women selected to be Playboy Playmates of the Year tend to look more mature during recessions — older, heavier, more reassuring — though I have not verified this personally.
'course you haven't David, 'course you haven't.

Then, after nearly 800 words of gloom and doom, the editors, without further comment, added the following epigraph:
Bob Herbert is off today.
Ah, that explains it. With Herbert off, it fell on you, didn't it Brooks, to pen a column so depressing you want to just call in sick, draw the shades and crawl back into bed?

Monday, November 17, 2008

CNN's disgraceful "balance."

So I tuned into CNN this morning on the way to the gym, and caught the beginning of a rather absurd piece they were running on the new strategy, on the part of conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, to jump the gun and blame Barack Obama for the nation's miserable economic state. What I found most appaling about the piece was that they treated it as legitimate issue for debate. Forget the fact that Obama has not even taken office yet, forget the fact that the GOP has been running the economy into the ground over the past 8 years, too distracted by their ridiculous war in Iraq to notice that the bottom was about to fall out of the housing market. Instead, CNN decided to take a look at the question of whether Obama's proposed tax increase (whic, by the way, he has said he may put off depending on economic necessity) is keeping investors out of the stock market. Now this proposition is absurd enough as it is, but even more absurd was the way CNN deiced to tackle the issue. Rather than calling an economist into the studio to assess the argument, they instead invited a left leaning talk show host and a right-leaning talk show host to "debate" the issue.

If there's any question in your mind as to whether the mainstream media is going to give Obama a fair shake over the next few years, or whether they are going to bend over backwards to please Republican sensibilities in the name of "balance," then disabuse yourself of that notion. If CNN is going to give legitimacy to such an idiotic talking point as "Barack Obama is responisble for the economic crisis we're in" then we know the answer already. There is no statement so absurd, no manufactured scandal so transparently artificial, no lie so outrageous that the mainstream media won't treat it as a serious subject over which honest people can have a legitimate disagreement.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Palin circa 1996

Andrew Sullivan, who despises Sarah Palin the way a bored housewife despises the villain on her favorite soap opera brings us a doozie: the earliest reported sighting of Sarah Palin, as reported in the Anchorage Daily News.

Diogenes in the marketplce

It's said that the Pre-socratic philosopher Diogenes of of Sinope spent his days wandering through Athens carrying a lantern, in broad daylight . When strangers inquired as to his purpose he woud reply that he was searching in vain for an "honest man." His response was invariably met with ridicule.

Financial analyst Peter Schiff can be thought of as a modern day Diogenes, warning the financial talking heads that the impending collapse of the housing bubble would be devastating to our economy and the markets, and all the while being met with ridicule and scorn. Watch this clip, and marvel as those who ridicule him (including Reagan economic adviser and godfather of supply-side economics Arthur Laffer and Ben Stein, among others) heartily recommend that viewers buy up stocks that today are worthless and invest in financial sectors that have been devastated by the bubble's burst.

If you've ever wondered how investment bubbles get their start, and how they sustain themselves, this clip is a good first start toward answering that question (I would also recommend reading Galbraith's The Great Crash, for more examples from previous centuries.)

(Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Obama Recession?

If there is any doubt as to the intellectual bankruptcy and bad faith of the Right-wing commentariat, let those doubts be laid to rest by the fact that two full months before the 44th President of the United States even takes the oath of office, Rush Limbaugh is already referring to the current economic crisis as the "Barack Obama Recession." The mouth-breathing Right, it seems, is so impatient to begin finding fault with our next president, even where no such fault exists, that such matters as plausibility and causality are of only minor concern. But hold on, you say: Barack Obama has not taken office yet, nor even filled the vast majority of positions in his cabinet, including his team of economic advisors. How can he be at fault? No problem. Clearly the markets, which would otherwise be booming thanks to the wise economic stewarship of the GOP over the past 8 years, have become spooked by Obama's inexplicable decision to don a green tie yesterday, when it's obvious he should have worn yellow. Ergo, this entirely avoidable recession is also, entirely Obama's recession.

That Rush Limbaugh should be so dishonest as to attribute the current economic malaise to Obama is not particularly surprising to anyone who's followed his career for any length of time. That his listeners are stupid enough to accept the argument is, alas, also unsurprising. Remember, this is the party of Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber --Palin, whose vast expertise in climate science has led her to question the human origins of global warming, and who may, or may not, know that Africa is a continent and not a country; and Joe who spends sleepless nights dreaming up implausible scenarios under which Obama's tax plan (a plan that objectively benefits him) might cost him money, who rails against income redistribution while on welfare, and who's entire understanding of socialist doctrine derives from looking up the word "Socialism" in Webster's dictionary. Limbaugh and his listeners remind me of the Monty Python sketch in which a man pays a service to have an argument. The details of the argument are unimportant. He just wants a good argument. Likewise, Limbaugh's listeners tune into his show to hear the man heap abuse upon left of center politicians. The plausibility of Limbaugh's arguments are less important. That's why "the markets have become spooked by Obama's economic plans" works so well for Limbaugh. It's an argument that, no matter how preposterous it seems in context, is not easily disproven. And so it will do. It also has the benefit of fitting neatly into his listeners biases and predispositions, where Democratic policies are always bad for business while Republican policies are always good for business. No further elucidation or proof is necessary.

Limbaugh is an extreme example, of course, but he merely makes plain what other Right-wing commentators are a little better at hiding. He may have jumped the gun by weeks, but rest assured, the remainder of the Right-wing pack will be jumping the gun in short order. They may find the discipline to wait until the innauguration, but as soon as that happens you can bet they'll all be talking about the "Obama recession" and his "failed Iraq and Afghanistan policy." The last 8 years will have vanished from their collective consciousness, and like Pol Pot after a purge, they will declare 2009 to be "year zero" in their new calendar of hatred and lies.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's a new day...

Black Eyed Peas frontman was the genius behind "Yes we can," the hymn-like musical tribute to Barack Obama that became an anthem of sorts for the campaign and which did a better job of conveying our hopes and fears for the dream we dared dream than we ourselves were perhaps able to. I know it made me weep a little, every time I listened to it and watched the video. Now that Obama has won the presidency, returns with a musical victory celebration titled "It's a new day." The song is a bit thin; it feels lighter than cotton candy, in all honesty, but it's got a very catchy melody and is eminently hummable. And you know what? After the emotionally intense and soul sapping experience that was the campaign, this is exactly what we need right now. So enjoy, Obamanicas. You earned it!

Partial Truths, Partial Lies

What's missing from Abigail and Steven Thernstrom's Wall Street Journal OP Ed piece about how the Obama victory proves that "the myth of racist white voters was destroyed by this year's presidential election." ("Racial Gerrymandering Is Unnecessary") You have to poke and pry and pick at the article before you notice it:

So what happened to all those "racists" or "rednecks" that John Murtha spoke of so recently? If there had been that many of them, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and Florida would have gone the other way, and we would have a President-elect McCain today. Racism is the Sherlock Holmes dog that did not bark in the night.

Consider Iowa, with only a miniscule African-American population. The 5% of voters who said race was the most important factor in their choice of whom to vote for backed Mr. Obama 54% to 45%. Or consider Minnesota and Wisconsin, also overwhelmingly white, where Mr. Obama's lead was 18% and 21% respectively among the 5% to 7% of voters who made race their highest priority.

But wait, you ask yourself... where's the deep South? Sure, the writers mention Virginia, a border state with a large, affluent, well educated population of D.C. commuters. But why no mention of South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama? Maybe that's because, as this New York Times piece demonstrates, racial prejudice is alive and well in the deep South, where only 1 in 10 white voters polled for Obama.
Here in Alabama, where Mr. McCain won 60.4 percent of the vote in his best Southern showing, he had the support of nearly 9 in 10 whites, according to exit polls, a figure comparable to other Southern states. Alabama analysts pointed to the persistence of traditional white Southern attitudes on race as the deciding factor in Mr. McCain’s strong margin. Mr. Obama won in Jefferson County, which includes the city of Birmingham, and in the Black Belt, but he made few inroads elsewhere.
You can see results of Exit Polls by visiting CNN's exit poll database. Selecting state by state you see, for instance, that just 10% of white Alabamans voted for Obama. Mississippi was a tad better, with 11% favoring Obama. Lousiana saw 14% of White voters favoring Obama. Contrast this with a state like Vermont, where 68% of whites voted for Obama and it's difficult to not see a difference in racial attitudes in play. Sure, Alabama is much more conservative than Vermont, but it's not a much more conservative than Utah (Utah went 63/34 for McCain, whereas Alabama went 60/40) and in Utah 31% of whites voted for Obama.

One of the big mistakes to take away from Obama's election is the notion that we've entered some sort of post-racial golden age in America. That's simply not the case. There are tremendous regional variations in racial attitudes, and in some parts of the country, racist attitudes seem as deeply ingrained as ever. There is still much work to be done to ensure there is equality of treatment among the races in this country, that a black man who fills out a job application is considered in the same light and by the same criteria as a white candidate.

But there is a ray of hope. Attitudes are changing. Even in Alabama white youth are more likely to vote for a black presidential candidate than their fathers. Sure it's not by much: 13% vs. 9%, but it's a start. And in Mississippi, fully 18% of of Whites aged 18-29 went for Obama, almost double the 10% of voters aged 45-64 who did.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Daily Show

Been busy today, so haven't been able to post much. Nonetheless, I do recommend the New York Times article on the Daily Show comedy writing team. Included are links to some of the Daily Show's best clips from the recent election coverage. Amusing Monday afternoon reading if you have a spare moment.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Oh man is it satisfying, reading the right-wing crybabies getting all apoplectic over Barack Obama's election.

Civil War in the GOP

Are your ready for the Republican Civil war:

By Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta
5:34 PM PST, November 6, 2008
Reporting from Phoenix -- Sarah Palin left the national stage Wednesday, but the controversy over her role on the ticket flared as aides to John McCain disclosed new details about her expensive wardrobe purchases and revealed that a Republican Party lawyer would be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve the clothes still in her possession.

...and are you as excited to see it play out as I am?

So the GOP is sending lawyers to strip Sarah Palin of all her fancy new clothes? That's pretty cold. I'm no fan of Palin, but let's face it: she was the county fair queen with the pretty face that them big city lawyers in expensive suits plucked off her daddy's farm with the promise of stardom and fame. She was never ready for the spotlight they put her under, and when she failed to deliver on their grandiose, ill-conceived schemes, they unceremoniously dumped her at the Greyhound station, bought her a ticket back to her farm, a ham sandwich for the ride, and took back all her fancy clothes.

I have a feeling things are going to get nasty, real nasty at the next GOP Thanksgiving family reunion.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The GOP Power Couple

If you want to gauge just what a pathetic joke of a party the GOP has turned itself into, then watch the video clip two posts below this one where Fox News anchor Carl Cameron discusses Sarah Palin's geographic illiteracy. Then watch the video clip immediately below this commentary in which "Joe the plumber" reveals that his entire accumulated knowledge of Marxist doctrine was derived by looking up the word "Socialism" in Websters Dictionary. Observe how the man who decries the redistribution of wealth justifies having spent a period of his life collecting welfare benefits. And marvel at the thought: these two individuals are currently the most popular figures in the Republican party. The GOP base is enormously excited and wants America to be governed and guided by these two individuals. It boggles the mind. It is, quite frankly, a frightening thought. (Video via Crooks and Liars)

Proposition 8

I haven't said much about the success of Proposition 8 in California, mostly because I haven't wanted to spoil the buzz of the Obama election. However, I do now want to give my opinion on the matter.

Personally, I find it chilling and frightening that under the statutes governing the California ballot initiative process, a small group of motivated citizens can strip constitutionally guaranteed rights that are enjoyed by another group of citizens. That this can be done by a simple majority vote borders on the criminal. I have long been weary of these sorts of "direct democracy" mechanisms aimed at bypassing professional legislators. It gives a tremendous amount of power to wealthy individuals and organizations that pay to gather signatures and spend millions of dollars on misleading advertisements promoting their measure and demonizing opponents. Presumably we elect legislators to do this sort of work for us because the average citizen has neither the time nor inclination to adequately study up on proposed statutes and carefully consider all their ramifications. It is bad enough when ballot measures lead to tax policies that cripple the state's educational system, but when such measures are used to forcibly impose second-class citizenship upon a group of people, they become unconscionable instruments of oppression, facilitating the tyranny of the majority in just the fashion that constitutions with their 2/3 vote amendment processes were meant to guard against.

In the meantime, enjoy this ad:

You can't make this stuff up...

You thought it was bad? You're wrong. It was worse, far, far worse. Now, in watching the media conduct the post-mortem on the McCain campaign we're learning some truly terrifying facts about Sarah Palin. Perhaps the most stunning testament to the Alaska Governor's unsuitability for the position to which she had been appointed are the recent revelations of her geographical illiteracy. According to Fox News reporter Karl Cameron, Palin was unaware of such basic facts as which countries are covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement and, more stunningly, that Africa is a continent comprising many countries, as opposed to a single country of itself. Now that's just jaw dropping ignorance right there, and the fact that this claim is being revealed on Fox News should put a damper on any charges of unfair treatment by liberal reporters.

But this news, shocking as it is, isn't necessarily the most outrageous. Take a look at Bill O'Reilly's reaction to these revelations and ask yourself: has the Republican party "gotten it" yet? Or are they still a danger to themselves and others? The fact that O'Reilly brushes aside these revelations of supreme ignorance by pronouncing them easily correctable through tutoring very much suggests the latter. O'Reilly is a leader of the conservative movement, and the fact that he and others are so eager to overlook the Alaska Governor's rank unsuitability for the position in order to advance their political agenda gives ample testament to their demagoguery as well as the danger that they and their opportunistic anti-intellectualism pose to the nation. The GOP simply cannot be allowed to govern this nation again.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A River of Tears

The significance of this moment in American history cannot be overstated. Arranged below area series of video clips of commentators, politicians, statesmen and ordinary people, weeping for joy at the proclamation that Barack Obama had won the presidency of the United States of America. A theme that reappears when African Americans recount the significance of this moment is the joy of being able to look their young children in the eye and, for the first time, be able to honestly tell them that as American citizens, they can be anything they want, even President of the United States of America, as long as they set their mind to it and work hard enough for it.

(Warning: you're going to want to get out a hankie for these)

Sherri Shephard on The View:

Colin Powell tears up:

Jesse Jackson. He's always been one of America's most inspiring public speakers, but the tears he sheds in this video possess a transcendent eloquence that soars beyond even his best oratory:

A Youtube titled "tears for Obama"

This next one is a bit different. It's Comedy Central's Colbert/Stewart coverage of the election. Colbert, of course, each night on his show assumes the persona of a right-wing blowhard culture-warrior in the mode of Bill O'Reilly. Watch then, as John Stewart announces the election of Barack Obama. Colbert tries to stay in character, but keeps taking off his glasses to dry his eyes. It's quite remarkable:

Here's what Huffingtonpost commenter huffyobsessed had to say about the above clip:

"I was in the audience at the show, and trust me, it was real. after the show went off air, both john and stephen went to their wives in the audiences and had very emotional hugs and kisses with their wives. it was very moving and the audience was going wild."

Here's a bit more from the AP:

But comedy eventually subsided to the magnitude of the election results. After the broadcast - held in front of a raucous and partisan crowd - the cast exchanged hugs and Colbert and Stewart both went to the audience to embrace their wives.

In a brief interview after the broadcast backstage, Colbert was still rattled.

"I've never had this feeling before, which is: Things went well on Election Night," said Colbert, whose political views are not his character's. "I'm a little stunned. I don't know what to do with my happiness. I'm still afraid someone's going to take it away."

For many of us Stewart and Colbert at times seemed like the only island of sanity in the 8 year sea of madness that was the Bush administration. They helped us make it through. Their tears are our tears, their joy is our joy.


Lest my only reaction to the election results be a long, rambling post chastizing the GOP for the 8 years of mismanagement that resulted in their own self-immolation, let's have something positive to say! It's been difficult listening to Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" over the past 8 years, given that everything seemed bleak and dreary and any faint promise of hope seemed distant, more distant than the eye could see. Now that there's a real chance for progress, I can listen to the song again without a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat.

It's springtime, people... let idealism once again flourish!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Republicans: Ten Reasons Why You Deserved to Lose

So you're a faithful Republican who's just woken up Wednesday morning to the most terrifying news possible. It's like "Red Dawn" but for real. And worst of all, it did not come about through a foreign invasion, but rather the American people voted the enemy right into office! How could this happen? In America? In our lifetimes?

Well, if you're one of the 8% of Americans who, in a recent poll, thought that the country was going in the "right direction," then let me explain it to you in a way that you can understand. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, pull up a chair, and pay attention to how it was that Republicans destroyed their own party and nearly destroyed the country that we all love in the bargain. Let me explain why it is that, in the opinion of many good Americans, real Americans from real America, you deserved to lose, and should never again be trusted with any meaningful degree of power if this nation hopes to survive another 225 years.

10) The National Debt: From our nation's founding, in 1776 to the year 2001, The United States of America managed to accumulate about $5 trillion dollars of public debt. From 2001 to 2008, with a Republican president wielding a veto pen in the Whitehouse, and the GOP in control of both houses of congress, the national debt doubled in size to some $10 trillion. You read that correctly: it took only eight years of Republican stewardship to double 225 years of accumulated government debt. When Bill Clinton handed over the presidency to George Bush in 2001, the U.S. was running a $200 plus billion surplus and was on target to pay off the entire national debt by the year 2012. GOP partisans continue to insist that the surplus was not Bill Clinton's legacy, but rather, a tribute to the fiscal conservatism of the Republican congress. But when Republicans finally got hold of all three branches of government, they quickly put the lie to the myth of GOP fiscal conservatism by slashing taxes and enacting spending priorities that led to an explosive growth in Federal outlays. With the national debt at an all-time high, only a blind partisan can continue to deny that it was, indeed, the Democratic president, who brought a sound fiscal hand to the U.S. government in the 1990s, not Newt Gingrich's GOP.

9) Osama Bin Ladin: On September 11, 2001, 19 members of the Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization headed by Osama Bin Ladin, successfully carried out the single most gruesome, brutal and criminal terrorist attack on the United States of America in all of her history as a nation, resulting in the loss of nearly 3000 innocent lives. On September 11, 2008 Osama Bin Ladin was still a free man, hiding in the hills of Pakistan, and he remains a free man to this day. Republican President George W. Bush has been commander in Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces that entire time. And during that period, well over 4000 young American soldiers have died fighting a $600,000,000,000.00 war that, regardless of whether you were for it or against it, was objectively not aimed at bringing Bin Ladin to justice. He is a scarlet letter, forever burned in your chest, a symbol of your bluster and unforgivable ineptitude. Should Bin Ladin die a free man, of natural causes, it will be your shame to bear forever.

8) Paul Krugman: In October of 2008, Princeton Economist and G.W. Bush gadfly Paul Krugman was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. Even most partisan conservative commenters tended to agree that the prize was well deserved. This one, clearly, isn't Bush or the GOP's fault. I present it simply as further proof that God hates Republicans right now, for what you've done to our country.

7) Sarah Palin vs. Katie Couric: Katie Couric is not known for being a particularly tough interviewer. Perhaps that is why nothing appears to have harmed Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin's image with the American people more than her disastrous CBS interview with America's spunky sweetheart anchorgirl. GOP partisans insist that Palin was caught off guard by a series of unfair "gotcha" questions, but when you can't even get a base hit off a softball question such as "what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read... to stay informed and understand the world?" then it's painfully obvious that you're not ready for prime-time, heck, you're not even ready for the Buggs Bunny/Road Runner hour. The fact that Palin (along with a semi-literate unlicensed plumber named "Joe") is currently the most popular Republican in the country among the GOP faithful shows what a long, tough slog you've got ahead for yourselves. She's your cross to bear GOPers, and yours is now officially the party of prideful ignorance; suck it up.

6) Mitt Romney: He's handsome, articulate, successful and a family man of strong religious convictions who is still married to his first wife. He rescued the 2002 winter Olympics and brought universal health coverage, GOP style, to the citizens Massachusetts, and he's largely scandal-free... in short, he's everything the GOP could ask for in a future presidential candidate, except that he's also a Mormon. And if there's one hallmark of your party, it's intolerance. So Mitt Romney will never be your party's nominee. Sorry.

5) Creationism: It's a collection of unscientific fairy tales that ask us to accept such absurdities as a 6000 year old age for our planet, a global flood, and starlight from distant galaxies and long dead stars that was created "en route." But every time you see Ben Stein and Ann Coulter paying lip service to this bit of pseudo-scientific stupidity, and every time you watch another moronic TV documentary detailing an expedition to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah's Ark you realize that keeping the GOP base happy means sealing a huge chunk of your intellect, integrity and dignity in a formaldehyde jar and locking it up "for the duration" (see Sarah Palin, above).

4) The Housing Bubble: It's been brewing for the greater part of a decade. Why couldn't the bubble have waited another 6 months to burst? Then you could have blamed the whole thing on Obama. You could have insisted that the markets got spooked by his tax plans or something (forget that whole unregulated credit-default-swap nonsense). And you'd probably have fooled a lot of people, too (see Creationism, Palin above). But it didn't. The market collapsed on your watch, and in a panicked state, you undertook the largest taxpayer funded bailout of private industry in American history. Pundits are facetiously saying that we've become a "socialist" nation now, under Bush. Even Alan Greenspan, a dogmatic Objectivist and erstwhile free-market absolutist, has recanted and proclaimed much of his view of the way in which market function as incorrect. So again: this collapse could have gone down on Obama's watch, but it didn't, because... well... God hates you and wants the blame to fall squarely where it belongs.

3) Larry Craig, Mark Foley, David Vitter, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, Ted Stevens, etc.: Your boys just can't seem to keep their peckers in their pants or their hands out of the cookie jar. You curse the day you ever heard the name Jack Abramoff. And with corrupt hacks like Tom Delay and Alberto Gonzales actively subverting the democratic mechanisms of our judicial system and our government for partisan political purposes, you appear frighteningly fascistic at times, too.

2) Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Robert Novak: All these years you Republicans have assured the American People that it's those shifty-eyed Democrats who put personal power over love of country, but when it finally came time for a presidential administration to settle a political score by unmasking the identity of a covert CIA operative working to keep the country safe from black-market nuclear proliferation, it was Republicans who pulled the trigger. And all your pathetic splitting of hairs as to whether Valerie Wilson was still, technically, under Non Official Cover (a spy, risking her life for her country) only made the American people scratch their heads and wonder: so, just when is it OK to start unmasking our covert operatives in the name of political score settling? Maybe if we'd found WMDs in Iraq you could have tried to insist that you were merely unmasking a disloyal American. But everything her husband Joe Wilson said about the administration and it's ill guided march to war after non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction would eventually prove to be true. Oh yeah, and about those WMDs... well, let's just leave those for another day.

1) Barack Obama: he's the logical antidote to 8 long years of unconscionably awful, disastrous, incoherent, inept, corrupt, hypocritical, inexcusably incompetent Republican control of all branches of government, from the judicial (conservatives enjoy a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, let us not forget) to the legislative (6 full years of GOP control of both houses of congress) to the executive (the worst president in history). Ask any African American if they thought they'd ever see the day a black man became President, and to a person they'll tell you they did not. That is because they never believed that the nation would be subjected to Republican governance so God awful that a sizable number of racist Southern rednecks, bigoted white-collar "Reagan Democrats" and blue-blood country club Republicans would temporarily set aside their myopic, tribalistic instincts and vote for a Harvard Educated black Democrat, no matter how qualified, no matter how genial, no matter how idealistic and earnest, over a white, all American war hero Republican. What's worse for you is that a whole generation of young idealistic Americans who do not see the world through the destructive and divisive racial lens that your party has been exploiting to win elections since the early 70s have rejected your divisive rhetoric and embraced the idea of a truly post-racial future for our politics. These young voters represent the future political direction of our country, and by large margins, you have alienated and even disgusted them.

So there you have it: ten reasons why, not only should you not be surprised that you lost these elections, but why your party should also probably do us all a favor and just go crawl off in a corner somewhere and go gently into that good night.


Popular poll aggregator website gives John McCain just a 1.9% chance of winning the elections today. That's the lowest I've seen it.

(UPDATE: Shortly after I posted this, the probability of a McCain victory dropped to 1.1%)

Rovemap to Election '08

For what it's worth, Karl Rove has Obama stomping all over McCain in this election. We'll see how it goes. I voted this morning at 7:00, just as the polls opened. There were plenty of people in line, though apparently it got less crowded within the hour.

Monday, November 3, 2008

McCain/Palin's Awful Supporters Part II

A few choice postings by Free Republic commenters remarking on the death, today, of Barack Obama's grandmother:

Nice timing. That’ll pick up a few sympathy votes for sure.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:57:13 PM by PeterFinn

Cancer patients usually pass away from a planned terminal sedation.
This may be the first politically timed terminal sedation ever, though.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:59:53 PM by counterpunch

A PUMA in my office said she died last week and that this is a set up.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:02:25 PM by Frantzie

Did he have power of attorney over her? Did he decide to stop any kind of life support?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:02:49 PM by nikos1121

Will Barack deliver a “Win one for the Tooter” speech?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:03:04 PM by Nonperson

Wow, just before the 6:00 news. How convenient
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:04:49 PM by NYC Republican

from another discussion on the same news:

She was swindled into raising someone else’s child. I do not believe that hussein is half white.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 4:51:05 PM by US_MilitaryRules

In other news more inportant to me. I have a hang nail that hurts.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:03:13 PM by MichiganRed08

from a third discussion:

Murdered? It’s not murder when it’s for the chosen one. The dems will blame it on lack of universal health care and get a double bang for the buck. Obama will forgive her racism and find another family member to use and throw under the bus.

obama and his mindless followers planned her machine to be turned off as sure as the clocks changed Sunday.

As if modern medicine could not have kept her alive until after election day. Sick people we are dealing with.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:06:19 PM by soycd

Wonder what secrets she carried to her grave?
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:07:20 PM by wolfcreek

Very sad. I believe Mrs. Dunham - had she been healthy - would have - should have been called upon to testify before a Senate committee on the specifics of her grandson’s birth.

Barack was right. Granny DID NOT live to see election day. Gee. He sure called THAT one. Wonder how he knew???
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:10:13 PM by Responsibility2nd

I’m not going along with it. This is a time when you need to be generating hatred and anger for the enemy. Not sympathy and empathy. Perfectly timed to subdue you when you are all needed at your peak. I don’t go for these threads, but hey, that’s just me. This is a distraction. 5,000 grandma’s died today - only one makes it on this site and gets hearts bleeding. These people do NOT mean you any good will and if elected they will use the full power at their disposal to oppress your beliefs and freedoms.
posted on Monday, November 03, 2008 5:17:15 PM by FTL
Stay classy, people. You don't want anything to do with these merchants of hatred.

A Sad Comment

I haven't got much sympathy for Sen. Ted Stevens, but I do have to evince a degree of sympathy for anyone who has to appear before a jury of his peers, or at least a jury containing this juror:

A juror dismissed from the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) after she told the judge her father had died in California admitted in court today that her excuse had been a lie: She actually left town to attend a horse race.

Hinnant told reporters outside the courthouse that she believed Stevens was guilty "like all the other" politicians, but refused to say whether she would have voted to convict him.

The right to defend yourself before an impartial jury of your peers is one of the essential checks on government power and tyranny. It is a shame that so many of our citizens take that right so lightly.

McCain/Palin's Awful Supporters

In case you need a little more prodding to convince yourself to pull the lever for Obama on Tuesday, here's one reason to do the right thing: You don't want to be in any way associated with McCain/Palin and their awful supporters. Click the videos below to see some examples of McCain/Palin supporters at their worst.

There is, for example, the woman who refused Halloween candy to children who support Obama:

Then there's Ashley Todd, a Texan volunteer for the McCain campaign who manufactured an assault by a fictional black man in a race baiting attempt to sway the Pennsylvania vote:

And who can forget the racist old man at the McCain/Palin rally who waved around a Curious George doll with an Obama bumper sticker around its head, then sheepishly gave it away to a nearby child when he began to feel uncomfortable with the attention he was receiving:

And finally, there's the angry mob of McCain/Palin's misinformed, hate-filled supporters generally. Take a look at Miss Crazy Eyes, here, for instance. Where did the McCain campaign come up with her? Was she lifted stright out of a Japanese horror movie? Whetever the truth is, she'll probably end up haunting your nightmares for weeks to come, unexpectedly popping her head into your field of vision to inquire sarcastically: "When did you first learn of O-ba-ma? Exactly, sir!":

Seriously, you don't want to be in any way associated with any of these people.