Strange Bedfellows

Posted September 3, 2013 on 3:55 pm | In the category McCain, Obama, syria, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Jeff

The weird new Bromance between President Obama and John McCain surged (so to speak) over the weekend as they agreed to a general strategy over Syria. This after everyone’s (except my) favorite cranky uncle, Joe Lieberman, reminded us of the importance of bombing something, anything, anytime something happens in the Middle East. This morning we find that Speaker of the House John Boehner is also supporting Obama’s plan for intervening in Syria. So for the first time in his presidency Obama has the support of Republican leaders – although Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell might be holding out. One might think that Obama would give pause to the source of his support, but it appears this train of battle has virtually left the station.

But the fundamental issue of whether such action is in our national interest – and whether it can do anything but harm – seems to have been skipped over to become now a struggle for political support in the Congress, regardless of the quality of the basic decision and regardless of the judgment of the American people. There seems to be no doubt that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its own people and this time it is seen to qualify for a military response, while the 100,000 plus earlier deaths by other means did not.

So far there has been only vague lip service given to whether it serves our long term strategic interests to get involved. There are comments to the effect that if we do not do something we will lose prestige, but with whom, and so what? There is also fear that the President will lose personal prestige because he drew the “red line” and now must respond regardless of any collateral damage to our interests. The talk shows on Sunday were all focused on what kind of military response is needed – how robust, how long, what targets, etc. The issue of WHETHER we should do something has been pushed aside and now we focus on the process of gaining political cover for the decision from the Congress.

The role of the press has been largely reactive, focusing on process issues rather than substantive strategic concerns. One exception was the appearance of John Mearsheimer on the PBS Newshour Monday night. He argued convincingly that the U.S. does not have a central strategic concern in Syria, that if we get involved we will likely suffer unpleasant consequences in the future, that we really have no idea what kind of government we would end up with in Syria if Assad is driven out and that our track record when getting involved in the region is a miserable failure. As for the moral case, it is not America’s job to be a kind of global moral force, given our own record in places like Vietnam, Chile, Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq – even Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Obama may have wanted a working relationship with the Republicans for lo the past 5 years, but this smacks of his going away from some core American values in search of love in all the wrong places.

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The Slandering of Chuck Hagel

Posted February 17, 2013 on 11:33 pm | In the category Iran, Iraq, Israel, McCain, Politics, U.S. Domestic Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy | by Jeff

The United States Senate, once known as “the world’s greatest deliberative body”, has become a stage for narcissistic Republican poseurs and clowns. The Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense has produced one of the most embarrassing episodes in the ongoing saga of the dumbing down of the Republican Party.

The rookie, Deb Fisher, a Sarah Palin pal from Nebraska who finds Hagel; “too extreme – far to the left of Obama” – whatever that means.. (Her refusal to refer to “President” Obama a pathetic reminder of her connections to the Nebraska Tea Party). That Hagel had the good sense to endorse her opponent, Bob Kerrey, in her election campaign apparently fueled her ire but so what? This is about the Secretary of Defense not about Fisher’s feelings.

Noted global warming denier and biblical scholar Senator James Inhofe (R from Oklahoma) found that Hagel was an “appeaser” without specifying why other than to refer to a statement by the Iranian Foreign Minister describing Hagel as someone with whom they might be able to talk.

Noted Chicken Hawk Saxby Chambliss, Republican Senator from Georgia and previously a slanderer of Senator Tammy Baldwin who had lost both legs piloting a Blackhawk helicopter in Iraq, found that Hagel’s commitment to the concept of international negotiation was really simply a commitment to “appeasement” – again, whatever that means.

Senate newcomer and Tea Party pet Ted Cruz of Texas decided to become the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, raising the suspicion that Hagel has been paid by enemies of the United States for speeches, questioning the patriotism of a battlefield decorated marine with a mythical list hidden away in his pocket.

But the main attractions in the early hearings – before Inhofe and Cruz pushed the process over the Crazy Cliff – were Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Noted poor loserJohn McCain got all red-faced with anger when Hagel refused to concede that McCain had been right in his support of the Iraq War “surge”, the grand strategy that delayed the inevitable U.S. withdrawal from a war that almost no one ended up supporting. His emotional, post-adolescent demand that Hagel agree that McCain was right and Hagel wrong on the surge was a sad display by a once admired Senator known now chiefly for his unwillingness to accept that he lost an election.

As for Senator Graham, what can be said about his obsession that Hagel is soft on support for Israel, or that he once said “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here, I’m not an Israeli Senator I’m a US Senator, this pressure makes us do dumb things at times”? Or that he is somehow responsible for telling us what went wrong with Benghazi?

It is depressing enough to see a major political party sink into a cesspool of gratuitous innuendo verging on slander without watching the national press serve as a largely unquestioning conduit of cheap shots, distortions and outright lies. Where is Edward R. Murrow when we need him?

How long will we have to avoid the Sunday talk shows as they wheel in McCain so they can help him lick his wounds from a defeat that is now 5 years old? Or watch the likes of Dick Gregory sidle up to Lindsey Graham without calling him on what has become a bizarre personal vendetta against one of the few Republican Senators to have had the good sense and political courage to admit that President George W. Bush’s Iraq war turned out to be a bad idea, poorly implemented.

As for the soft on Israel charge? Do we elect Senators to act in the national interests of the United States or of Israel? When they come in conflict – which they occasionally do – can we have an adult conversation in the press – as they do in the Israeli press? Or do we continue to put up with a national press unable or unwilling to consider the real implications of blindly following the lead of a foreign leader like Benjamin Netanyahu?

As the Republican Party moves toward reconsidering their “message” after a serious defeat at the polls last November, will they finally – at long last – have the decency to accept that President Obama is indeed the President and that the American people expect them to behave with respect to the office and to the national interest?

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The Oscars and History

Posted January 14, 2013 on 4:51 pm | In the category Afghanistan, Canada, Iran, McCain, U.S. Foreign Policy, Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

So no less than four films being considered for Best Film at the Oscara supposedly portray US history. One of them is relatively harmless. “Lincoln” is probably going to win everything because it does not, as far as any layman can tell, falsify history in any kind of serious way and features enough bearded men to make old testament prophets feel jealous. And it has a very Lincoln-looking British actor, no doubt thanks to terrific makeup help, who has the wrong accent but is as good at portraying a decent common man who acted well under pressure (Bob Newhart called this “The humble bit”), as were Raymond Massey – also a foreigner – Henry Fonda and others who have portrayed Honest Abe in the past. So we can give this a pass on the honest history front, although Spielberg once again demonstrates his fascination with brutal hand to hand combat and dead soldiers, though not at the level of “Saving Private Ryan”.
But what should we make of “Zero Dark Thirty” , supposedly a factual presentation of the CIA’s role in the assassination of bin Laden, or Ben Affleck’s “Argo”, another alleged representation of actual CIA operations.  And there is no doubt that “Argo” is an exciting film, especially in the opening scenes depicting the attack on the US embassy in Teheran.    But what’s going on?  Since when do films get such serious consideration that are made with government support and obvious comic-book plots  – a CIA female warrior  in one, and  a devil of a fearless handsome CIA agent in the other carry out awesomely dangerous missions for good old Uncle Sam – and against all odds succeed.  If they didn’t do that, there would certainly not be a film.  The first  has been attacked on the US Senate floor, by senators who actually personally know how torture functions, since the film seems to suggest that torture by US agents actually led to the discovery of the whereabouts of bin Laden.  From all accounts this is not true, and the very suggestion that it is  acceptable for the US  to gather information in this way, is more than offensive for those who suffered under such methods.

And “Argo” is “so full of bullshit it might as well have been a Charlie’s Angels episode” to quote Steve Burgess. The heroic people who really risked their lives and  those of their families in rescuing those US diplomats who managed to escape the chaos in the attack on the US embassy in Teheran , were of course the ambassador and the attache of Canada, who died last week.  They did what the diplomats of no other country – including some of the US’ supposed closest allies like the UK – were unwilling to do: risk their own lives to save those of US colleagues.   In real life the US citizens were hidden in two different Canadian diplomatic residences for a lengthy period before they were smuggled out, perhaps even with some input from the CIA operative who is made the hero of “Argo”: Affleck directing Affleck in the role.   One of these Canadian  diplomats, the  Ambassador, actually appears fleetingly in the film, but does not seem very important; the other  is never mentioned.    A postscript was added to the film, after howls of protest about an obvious insulting falsification of reality,  which  threw  a few crumbs  to the ambassador but never mentioned the attache, not to mention the Canadian prime minster, who allowed this mission to take place. It was all too reminiscent of how President Bush managed to  thank half the countries of the world for having helped during the 9/11 attack, but forgot Canada, the only one that had really done anything.

And then there is the fourth film”Beasts of the Southern Wild” a tale of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrine on the  Louisiana coast, which features an  amazing performance by an 8-year old girl who amazingly is also up for best actress, as is the director.  None of the above will win, because they don’t present a phoney version of history, that ranges on propaganda, but rather offer a mythic story of outsiders who have no desire to return to the society from which they have been cut off by the inundations.  This is the film of the year.  Go see it, and skip cartoon history

 

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Newsless in Vieques

Posted March 29, 2010 on 9:26 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, Healthcare, McCain, Palin, Politics, Press, Republican Party | by Jeff

A week on the beaches of Vieques left me anxious for news from the Capitol of the World. So I gather we have a healthcare bill of some sort, that president Obama grew some cojones and that the Republicans are in some kind of shocked disbelief that their Tea Party did not prevail. As for Scott Brown, I guess he stayed true to whatever values he might have hidden away and managed to vote against the bill that replicated the Massachusetts Senate bill that he voted for a couple of years before. Go figure.

And oh Lordy, ABC News told me that Obama had made 15 recess appointments that – again – the Republicans are simply shocked that they were not allowed to hold them up for another year or two. I mean talk about uppity? Who does this black dude think he is? President? Interesting that the white guy on ABC ends the broadcast wondering why Obama has not changed the way Washington works. Cannot make this stuff up.

Thankfully for Congressman Boehner (pronounced “boner”) and Senator Mitch Rhino McConnell, their Tea Party comrades got their collective shit together to spit on black Congressmen, yell “nigger’ at them, call Barney Frank a” faggot”, and all in all bring to the forefront what seems to offend the Boners of the world – the country is going to hell with all these different looking people taking over. Throw in the Mexicans and the Asians and all of a sudden the Tea Party begins to look a lot like the hierarchy of the Catholic Church – white, old, male, totally confused about right and wrong and scared of losing the illusion of power.

And good old Big Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz figured out that lawyers who defend accused people in America are not to be confused with patriots, but rather to be lumped in with Arabs, Terrorists, people of color other than Justice Thomas, and Benedict Arnold. Great to see a former Vice President setting an example.

And then I turn the channel to find Sarah Palin pimping for old geezer McCain in Arizona. Poor old Crash McCain has this deranged smile on his face as Sarah points her fingers here and there after exhorting her people via her website to “reload” and go after the President – that would be her President as well as mine. She then moves on to some little town in Nevada, known mostly for being Harry Reid’s hometown – to lead a group of 6 or 7 thousand tea partiers in a semi-Christian bible meeting aimed at driving old Harry the Antichrist out of office.

Probably the best stories revolved around one of my favorite cities – Rome – with side trips to a Wisconsin School for the Deaf, several Bavarian catholic churches, and the evil New York Times. No need to rehash the story here but it sure did not warm my heart to see the  Catholic  Church excusing itself from accountability for the abuse of thousands of young children on the twin bases of “everyone else was doing it” and “the New York Times is picking on us”.

The Vieques beaches are wonderful, there is no wifi on them, and I recommend them to all.

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Fox Presents: Fear and Loathing in America

Posted February 3, 2010 on 11:57 pm | In the category Bush/Cheney, McCain, Obama, Politics, Press, Republican Party, Terrorism | by Jeff
  • The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason. – Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

A visit to the barber today – with its typical random comments on the state of the world –provided a vivid reminder of the bizarre power of Fox News as a purveyor of misinformation and fear. That Fox is in the business of misrepresenting reality is not an original discovery since any reasonably intelligent adult who lives in the real world and reads about the real world knows that Fox’s O’Riley, Beck, and Palin etc. are clowns and buffoons – our own strange brand of Iran’s Ahmadinejad.

We have an intelligence deficit in America and it is growing. There have always been fringe movements in America – on both ends of the spectrum. But the current right wing fringe seems to be – or pretends to be – so scared of so many things that one has to wonder how they can come out from under their rocks.

Their major fear is terrorism. No one wants a screw-up the size of Bush and Cheney’s failure to act on warnings that led to 9/11. But just where does Rudy Giuliani get off working up a frenzy over Captain Underpants’ failed airline bombing when his boys Bush and Cheney totally screwed up by ignoring warnings that led to an actual, successful terrorist attack? It is not enough that he is a scumbag – what is infuriating is that the press actually gives that pathetic hack a microphone. The Rudys of the world have conspired to create a country consumed with fear of some possible event but unable to understand that 1) such an event may be inevitable, 2) that the country is doing all possible to prevent such an event – even under Obama(!) – and that 3) we are in this together and to use security threats as political currency is to be one with the enemy. Cowardice is the name to be given to those who would scare the people into giving up their liberties and their constitutional rights – tactics that give the victory to Al Quada. Shame on all of those who have set out to frighten us and shame on those who buy into it without serious thought of the loss of liberties they have accepted.

The PON (Party of No) and Fox and the ranting Tea Partiers have gained a certain power with their use of fear. We are scared to use our tried and true judicial system to bring terrorist criminals to justice – omigod – do not try them here, do not try them there – let’s eliminate the constitution and just throw them into a cell somewhere – but not here – lest we all might have to take a risk that is not even a real risk. Cowardice? No need to sell it here buddies – we got enough. We will take our shoes off in the airport; we will allow you to body search our toddlers and our grandmothers –because it makes us believe we are safe. We believe in Santa and the tooth fairy.

We are afraid to allow natural gas into our ports if it comes from Yemen – let’s live on firewood and refuse to trust the Coast Guard with our safety – they cannot be trusted.

We cannot allow gays in the military unless they lie about being gay; Congressman Hunter from California is scared that we might end up with hermaphrodites and transgenders in the military – now that is truly scary. Senator McCain is also concerned – after agreeing to support the military leadership – he has now jumped ship, illustrating the fragility of courage. The fact that Britain’s, Canada’s, Australia’s and Israel’s militaries have no problem with gays makes no impact – this is America – no gays – unless they lie about being gay. Jesus – you cannot make this stuff up.

Eight years of Bush and Cheney and Republican leadership left us with a useless unwinnable war in Iraq with hundreds of thousands dead, an untenable situation in Afghanistan, a horror show in Pakistan, a deficit of $1.2 trillion, an economy dominated by greed at the top and subservience below, a broken healthcare system, a tax system designed to protect the rich and screw everyone else, and a government committed to eliminating civil liberties. And what do we fear? –decent, affordable healthcare that mythically includes death panels; regulating banks that have royally screwed us; a centrist President Obama who some believe to be a socialist – a Muslim, a terrorist, a Kenyon, or God help us – a black. We are not supposed to consider such possibilities but it is time to grow up and smell the garbage. There is a real stink in the country.

A friend suggests that the anti fluoride folks must have been right and that it is why people are losing their sanity. They fear foreigners, immigrants – legal and illegal; any suggested change of the status quo; terrorists both real and imagined; mythical socialists, black political leaders. Fortunately for them, there is a standing army of banal and venal politicians and newscasters ready to march to the Fox Drummers. We are truly screwed.

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Healthcare Reform: Baby Steps

Posted December 20, 2009 on 1:18 pm | In the category Healthcare, Lieberman Watch, McCain, nelson, Politics, Republican Party, U.S. Domestic Policy | by Jeff

Watching the healthcare reform legislative process was like watching someone remove a huge splinter from my finger. Hurt like hell and made me mad. But maybe I will feel better when this particular splinter is out. Not really sure. The Senate bill that is finally about to pass eliminates the public option and the buy into Medicare for those over 55. It is basically an insurance reform bill that does little to control costs or to improve delivery. But it is all we could get due to Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and all of the Republican Senators.

Theories abound as to just why Lieberman continued his evolution into one of the Senate’s worst obstructionists. Some think it is because he is not so bright; others that he was in the pocket of the insurance industry; for a few others it was more simple and basic – that his core values influenced his obstructionist behavior. But the explanation that may make the most sense is that he is seeking revenge on the liberal wing of the Democratic Party for having forsaken him. He ran for president and got nowhere, lost the Democratic nomination for his Senate seat and then had to run as an independent. Whatever the case – whether it is one or more or all of the above – I do hope the day will come when the Democratic leadership will finally tell him to go screw himself.

Ben Nelson used his opposition to mollify Christian right folk in his state of Nebraska (whose population is about .6% of the country) by reducing the separation between church and state to get stronger anti-abortion language in the bill. Curiously, the day before he agreed to support the Senate bill he was lobbied by three religious leaders in Nebraska to support the bill; one of those leaders was a Jesuit priest. The other payout he got for his fellow cornhuskers was a permanent increase in federal contributions to the cost of expanding Medicaid in Nebraska. The fact that other states did not get this – or require being bought off – is indicative of just how venal Nelson is.

As for the Republicans, they are as hypocritical as ever. They fell all over each other to support Bush’s criminal Iraq War that killed hundreds of thousands but cannot bring themselves to support a bill that will save people’s lives. Sam Brownback is crying over the continued existence of at least a shred of the separation of church and state; John McCain has supported wasteful wars his entire career but cannot find a way to stomach spending a dime to improve his constituents’ healthcare. Olympia Snow had a day or two in the spotlight only to disappear into the Maine woods and Judd Gregg continues to pontificate with self-serving charts and elegant ways of saying “no” to everything. But they have done their damage. We will have a bill that gives the health insurance companies a windfall and avoids the tough issues related to costs.

If the final bill actually gets passed some 35 million Americans will newly have access to health insurance, children under the age of 18 will not be denied insurance for “preexisting conditions” and, in time (2014) all Americans will have that protection. It is a baby step on the way to full maturity and compassion in the way we provide healthcare in this country. But it is a start.

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THE CHENEY 2009 AWARD: DICK OF THE YEAR

Posted December 15, 2009 on 10:04 pm | In the category Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin | by Jeff

Nominations are being taken for politicsandpress annual Cheney: Dick of the Year Award. With just a few weeks left Joe Lieberman is the frontrunner but certainly more nominations can be accepted. Ohio Congressman Boehner (pronounced bo-ner) remains in the running, and John Nutso McCain is a dark horse. S. Palin has been disqualified after failing the physical. But the race is still open. Final results will be announced in early January.

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Oh Afghanistan

Posted December 1, 2009 on 11:06 pm | In the category Afghanistan, McCain, Press | by Jeff

A. J. Liebling wrote about Afghanistan as the place the press wrote about when they had space to fill, no news to fill it, and a subject to write about that absolutely no one gave a shit about. So again time changes and we not so suddenly have to worry about Afghanistan, a place few of us has visited and even fewer of us really wish to visit.

President Obama has now presented his plan for our continued involvement in that country and it was a pretty slick presentation. The press is beating its collective something or other about it but basically he said it is over. We will send 30,000 troops there to fill in for the Bush-Cheney failure and then start to get all of them out of what has turned out to be a monster mess. The focus of the press after the speech has been on the selling of whatever he is doing to all the political players. John McCain, a man wrong about every major issue he has discussed is uneasy – that is a good sign for the Obama decision. Some Republicans think he should never had indicated we might actually be smart enough to leave in good time – I guess better to believe we are a bunch of morons.

But it was a refreshing speech that did not talk down to us, did not bullshit us through false patriotism from neocon chicken hawks and – for a change – did not lie to us about our safety and the strength of our enemies. The battle against terrorists remains in play but there is new evidence that we have leadership that is smart, sophisticated and unwilling to pander to the underbelly of American society.

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A Tale of 2 Joes: The Plumber and The Turncoat

Posted November 8, 2008 on 11:58 am | In the category Election 2008, Lieberman Watch, McCain, Palin, Politics | by Jeff

Joe’s with us today. Joe, where are you?” McCain called into the crowd, “Where’s Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today…”

In the post-election haze it is easy to bask in America’s victory over racism and the incompetence of the McCain-Palin campaign. Or to relish the schadenfreude of the ongoing mud slinging between the McCain and the Palin camps. But a couple of annoyances remain to be addressed.

John McCain introduced us to Joe the Plumber and used him as an emblematic American workingman for the last few weeks of his bizarre campaign. The man is a certifiable ignoramus who misrepresented himself as a potential purchaser of a plumbing business, is not a licensed plumber, does not pay his taxes, believes social security is a “joke” and compared Senator Obama to Sammy Davis, Jr.

Well, surprise surprise: this Joe has a new “watchdog” website in which he will “bring together individuals who want to help others, while at the same time ensuring our government keeps answering our tough questions.” You can get what is called a “Freedom Membership” to the website for $14.95. This will include a copy of his book due out in 6 weeks which makes him Joe the Speedwriter. One more reason to thank Senator McCain.

Joe the Turncoat is, of course Joe Lieberman, certainly one of the most unctuous, pious, arrogant men to ever grace the U.S. Senate. The only visual more disturbing than poor Cindy McCain standing forever frozen in place behind her husband at every campaign stop was the ghost of Banquo in Joe Lieberman drag smirking while his pal John continued to throw shit at his opponent’s good name.

Now Joe wants to come back to the Democratic caucus and keep his Chairmanship of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee. This after attacking the Democratic ticket at the Republican convention, on the campaign trail, and at virtually every opportunity on radio and TV. The fact is that Lieberman did nothing for McCain – the Jewish vote went for Obama at a higher rate than it went for Kerry four years prior and his state of Connecticut came through with only 37% of the vote for McCain. So maybe Lieberman was actually working for Obama…….

But Democrats have to ask themselves whether they really need Lieberman whose career has four more years before the Connecticut voters finally puke him out of office. We shall see.

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The Lost Honor of John McCain

Posted November 3, 2008 on 11:39 am | In the category Election 2008, McCain, Obama, Palin | by Jeff

For many if not most Americans the presidential campaign has gone on far too long, been characterized by too much ignorance and character assassination, and is ending with the passing away of an American hero’s honor. This passing can best be characterized as a political suicide, committed out of desperation, with a lack of respect for the American political process, and lust for power. Among its collateral damage is the loss of respect for science, rational thought, truth, and civil discourse.  When 23% of Texans believe Obama is a Muslim, when white voters in Pennsylvania express worry that a President Obama would enslave white Americans, when a significant number of voters allow themselves to believe that Obama is “palling around with terrorists”, and when elements of the press present ludicrous formulations by candidates as legitimate grist for the campaign mill, then we are all cheapened.

When faced with questions regarding some of the nastier slurs of their campaign, McCain advisors always refer to the fact (sic) that they are only doing what the Obama campaign has done. Anyone who has watched the campaign over the past few months knows this to be untrue. Obama has been accused by McCain and his know-nothing running mate from Alaska of being a terrorist, of being a socialist – (perhaps even a Marxist!) – of being ready to raise everyone’s taxes, of supporting total sex education for kindergartners, and aiding in voter fraud. None of these charges is true and of course they know it but in the ultimate insult to the American people they peddle the accusations over and over again in the hope that enough confused or ignorant voters will fall for one or more of them. And of course they are right to a degree.

I have never been a fan of the “man-in-the-street” interview because it makes it too easy for journalists to avoid trying to analyze what is real and what is not and it typically gives airtime to airheads like Joe the Plumber. But it does, after all, expose the quality of thought that is out there – the woman from Pennsylvania who said she feared Obama would  “enslave the white race”, or the poor souls who believe that Obama is a Muslim and – ergo – not fit to live in American let alone be president. OR the people who rant about Obama’s tax plan without bothering to know what the plan actually is, and et cetera.  This points to a larger problem than the venality of people like McCain and the ignorance of people like Palin. In our headlong flight away from elitism into the dark recesses of ignorance we are creating a culture in which people are too lazy to do the work of a democracy; too lazy to read, too lazy to think, too scared to explore differences, and too satisfied with the mediocrity of so much of American politics and culture. McCain’s choice of Palin is a vivid reflection of that mediocrity and either a harbinger of things to come or merely the last shovelful of dirt on the grave of John McCain’s honor. Regardless of who wins this election there will remain the question of just what McCain thought he meant by his slogan, “Country First”.

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