Newsweek’s Jon Meacham makes the link between Goldwater in 1964 and Sarah Palin today. This is a huge insult to Goldwater – his appeal was to ideas, however wrong-headed or unpopular they were, as opposed to winking to mouth-breathing morons. Despite that, he reasons that both Goldwater and Palin appeal to the extremist base.

I don’t think it’s entirely correct. Goldwater was the embodiment of a certain economic fundamentalism, but he was hardly the champion of the xenophobic Birchers and the religious fanatics. He was an extremist in defense of “liberty” as he defined it, and had little patience with the knuckle-dragging wing of the party. On the other hand, Palin’s entire sphere of support is with the people who are convinced that intelligence has no place in politics. Being knowledgeable is actually a bad thing to these people. They like Sarah because she’s “genuine”, and they like her even more with every evidence that she’s a blithering idiot. Being ignorant isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

So Meacham thinks that the Republicans are heading for Goldwater-like electoral failure because they seek to distill their support to the True Believers instead of building a Big Tent. He may be right. Where he’s wrong is to compare this phenomenon with the Democrat’s time in the wilderness.

We have been to this movie before, when the unreconstructed liberals of the fading New Deal–Great Society coalition obstinately refused to acknowledge the reality that America is a center-right nation, and that Democrats who wish to win national elections cannot run on the left.

The “reality” that America is a center-right nation is the Goebbelsian notion that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. I find it shameful that Americans let pundits and politicians repeat this slander without calling them on it. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, while being moderate centrist Democrats, certainly ran to the left of their opposition. The left-liberal Democrats were and are the soul and conscience of the party, but never did they hold the reigns of power since FDR. Even then, Roosevelt challenged the left wing to make him institute the changes that they wanted.

Yes, the New Deal and the Great Society were golden ages for liberal Democrats; but that’s because these eras resonated with the true progressive nature of Americans. It’s not some aberration to be ashamed of, but rather to be celebrated as eras of progressive change when Americans were building a more perfect union. I think that another such era, Barack Obama’s New Foundation, began on January 21, 2009. An era of (yes) hope and change when the United States solved some of the economic problems rooted in a soulless free-market fundamentalism, and when a new purpose revitalized America’s leadership in the world. You’ll be reading about it in the history books, but you read it here first.


I double-posted something. Does WordPress not have a “delete post” option?

This article by Ann Scott Tyson in the Washington Post mainly credits the economic downturn for a surge in recruitment in the U.S. military. It’s the first time in 35 that the Pentagon has exceeded its targets.

There’s also an increase in the quality of the recruits,  with fewer high school dropouts, overweight youths, and convicted felons. Only 1.5 percent of new recruits got in with the lowest acceptable score on the standard qualification test. In recent years, this figure was as high as 4 percent.

What accounts for this new interest in military service? Certainly, the lack of jobs in a recession economy is an important factor. But nowhere does the article mention another likely cause: the change in Commander-in-Chief.

The President has promised to end the wars in the Middle-East that his predecessor started. New recruits can be reasonably confident that they won’t be ordered to fight and die in reckless, unnecessary wars with dubious objectives promoted with deception and lies. This was not the case in the previous eight years.

Undoubtedly, there have been young men and women who were considering a military career but were waiting until some sanity was restored to the White House. The prospect of becoming cannon fodder for corporate profits is never an attractive option.

I just heard the news. First reaction: shock. Like almost everyone else, it seems. Second reaction: what will be the effect of this, politically?

First, the only way I can wrap my head around this decision (while I’m still dazed by the surprise) is that President Obama won the Prize because he has turned the United States away ever so carefully from the dark, evil, warmongering, torturing regime of the B*sh/Cheney years.

When Obama was elected, it was like the fall of the Berlin Wall. A majority of the voters threw down a repressive regime and gave themselves new hope. Imagine if the outcome had been different, if John McCain were president, with Sarah Palin as VP.  Imagine the existential dread that would hang over the world.

Obama hasn’t really accomplished much in the realm of peace and international relations, but the mere act of steering the ship of state away from the belligerent aggressive approach of the previous administration was enough for the world to breathe a sigh of relief.

How will this play politically? Of course, the Right Wing will erupt into a purple raging tantrum. But enough about them, they’re insane anyway. I think the Nobel Peace Prize may become a burden for the President: he now has to live up to it. Of course, Barack Obama’s instincts have always been to promote peace, security, and international cooperation. He simply needs to do more, and do better. He needs to rediscover the sense of urgency to end B*sh’s botched wars in the Middle-East. He has already made some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front, on Iran, on Russia and China. The Nobel Prize can be an impetus to continue along that vein.

Oh come on. Obviously Ayers was having fun at her expense, and at anybody who actually thinks he wrote Barack Obama’s memoirs. He only made this “revelation” after Backyard Conservative told him she was a conservative blogger and was going to post this. He was pulling her leg, and she was being played. Ayers is going to have a good chuckle over the next few days, laughing at how gullible conservatives are.

When I see the rank stupidity in the conservative blogosphere, I wonder how the right wing ever managed to tie its shoes, never mind gain power for several years. No wonder they made such a mess of things.

I’m glad Rio de Janeiro got the Olympics. It’s a shame that it took this long to bring the Games to South America (Africa has yet to see them, too). It’s nice to see them go to a “Third World” country, too. That part of the world doesn’t get enough acknowledgement from international organizations. The Olympics usually bring great economic benefits, and Brazil needs it more than the U.S. does.

I’m also glad they didn’t give it to Chicago. Nothing against Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders. But the U.S. had the Summer Olympics in 1984 and 1996, and the Winter Olympics in 1980 and 2002. It’s someone else’s turn, especially when a whole continent still hasn’t gotten them.

It would have been nice to have President Obama, at the twilight of his successful two-term presidency, declare the opening of the Games in his adopted city. But the Right-wingers would have howled with their patented brand of insane outrage. The last time the summer Olympics were held in the U.S., a right-wing terrorist named Eric Rudolph placed a bomb in Atlanta’s Olympic Plaza, killing one person and injuring dozens. Olympic organizers were understandably reluctant to become the targets of the right-wing extremists in the U.S. once again.

The right-wing pundits will have a field day in the next few days, gloating about President Obama’s “defeat” in Copenhagen. Obama took a gamble, gave it a game shot, but the forces of geography were against him. Rather than see this as a failure for Obama, we need to put this in perspective. The B*sh regime has damaged the standing of the U.S. in the world, and it will take a long time to repair the damage. President Obama has done much to restore American prestige, but there is still work to be done. Obama has had several successes on the international stage, including progress on Iran. Losing the Olympics is a small thing compared to improving American security. Like in all sport, you win some and you lose some.

Rio, and Brazil, deserved to win this match. Congrats to them.

I’ve known Neal Gabler as a film reviewer, but it appears that he’s a pretty sharp political commentator, too (as opposed to fellow movie buff cum pundit Michael Medved.)

He makes this point:

You cannot beat religion with politics, which is why the extreme right “wins” so many battles. The fundamentalist political fanatics will always be more zealous than mainstream conservatives or liberals. They will always be louder, more adamant, more aggrieved, more threatening, more willing to do anything to win. Losing is inconceivable. For them, every battle is a crusade — or a jihad — a matter of good and evil.

It’s bothered me a long time that calm, rational arguments from liberals can be overwhelmed by vitriolic screeching from the Right. We’ve seen how healthcare reform was almost derailed by hysterical fear-mongering about death panels. Why do liberals, who have facts and logic on their side, lose to conservatives who have nothing but eye-popping, tongue-lolling emotional hystrionics?

It’s because batshit-crazy insane psychopathic demagoguery works. It’s not that people actually believe the lies and insanity, it’s that they see the fanatical fervor of the right-wing wackos and they figure that if they believe something so intensely, there must be some truth to it.

The so-called “liberal” media doesn’t help. President Obama gave a masterful speech before Congress last month, a political masterpiece, but it got probably less media coverage than two words shouted by a neo-Confederate knucklehead: “YOU LIE!”

The answer for Democrats, I believe, is to wage the war on two fronts. Continue to hammer the Republicans with facts and logic, but also occasionally launch a firebrand to fight fire with fire.

Rep. Grayson, who said that the Republican healthcare plan involves (1) Don’t get sick and (2) Die Quickly was certainly over-the-top in his comments. But it’s a brilliant shot across the bow: making overblown accusations is, unfortunately, an effective weapon in the arsenal of politics, and it’s about time that Democrats deployed it against Republicans, rather than always being at the receiving end. It’s about time that the Democrats stop showing up to a knife fight armed with a paper airplane.

Here’s the video of Grayson’s remarks:

And here’s his “apology” to the House. Notice that he apologizes to those who actually deserve an apology, not to the Republicans.

You see how Grayson skilfully used hyperbole in the first video, and used facts and logic to continue his point in the second video. We need more of this. Democrats don’t have to be milquetoast technocrats being bullied by knuckle-dragging neanderthals. They should stand up for truth and justice with all the passion they can muster.

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