Author Archive

The Other Side Isn’t Playing With A Full Deck

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

by Polk

Lest ye forget.

There is plenty of policy grounds to disagree with this adminstation on if you choose to do so (I don’t have a lot of beef, but having a difference in worldview is completely legitmate), but saying your political opponents are Satan? Literally, horns and pitchfork Satan. That’s screams desperate from the mountaintops. And on the theological level, I’m surely not a Bibical scholar, but the idea that the world is going to end by the Devil bring about a communist revolution is completely without any support in scripture.

Cartoon Critics Miss the Point

Friday, February 20th, 2009

by Polk

Wayne A. Schneider misses the point on the New York Post cartoon controversy:

This is one of the problems with latent racism in this country. Non-overt Racists (not the KKK types) tend not to understand why they are racist. They are so out-of-touch with race issues, that they have no idea why what they do is offensive. Sometimes they use words or images that, for all they’ve ever known growing up, is the way you describe some people. Usually it’s their ignorant parents we can thank for that, because people are not born hating people of different races. They learn to hate people of different races from their parents, who usually learned it from their parents, who learned it from who knows where? Bill O’Reilly has said that his grandmother is afraid of young black men. She thinks every one that she sees might try to mug her. Where did she get that idea? Did she have a week where every black kid who walked past her took her purse? I seriously doubt that. But every time she sees some young black kids ahead on the street, she goes to the other side. “That’s not racism,” says O’Reilly, “That’s just fear.”

(emphasis mine)

I think this paints a painfully oversimplified picture of race relations in America. In effect, Wayne is working from the assumption that people are ultimately well-intentioned. I question that characterization, especially when people are lobbing racist sentiments. The issue isn’t they don’t know it’s offensive, it’s that they don’t care and pretending to not get it is a political correct way to state your views. If someone in the year 2009 tells you they don’t understand why a cartoon showing a black man as a monkey is offensive, they’re either one of two things: borderline retarded or a liar. I’m going out on a limb and guessing the latter.

Simply put, it’s not acceptable to be a bigot in our society. Therefore, those harboring bigoted views need to find new ways to express them, be it by making absurd claims about what is and is not offensive (see: this controversy), claiming the mantle of discrimination for their own group (see: “white guilt”), or trying to turn the tables (see: “it’s blacks that are the real racists”).

Deploy the Stimulus Ram

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

by Polk

Enough meetings with Republicans. Enough meetings with CEOs. My message to Barack Obama is to start looking out for your own future. When you’re up for reelection in 2012, the public isn’t going to care how nicely you played with the Republicans in the economy is still in the crapper.We need fast and effective stimulus. Caving to the Republicans and including massive tax cuts just directed their complaints to something else. Adding tax cuts lead them to bitch about grass on the Mall. Removing the grass lead to bitching about birth control pills.Then comes claims that no one knows where the money is going.They are your enemy. They want you to fail. They want America to fail if it vindicates their ideology. This is what Obama needs to understand. They’re going to run around presenting “alternatives” that don’t mean anything at all. They’ll complain about the deficit while calling to blow it wide open with huge permanent tax cuts which will do nothing to stimulate the economy.

And it’s not like the package is in jeopardy. The House could pass it on a straight party line vote and passage in the Senate would require two defectors to break the filibuster. Of the seven votes cast so far on major issues, at least four Republicans have defected, including Snowe, who has sided with the administration on every vote. Gregg and Voinovich have sided with the Democrats on six of the seven.

It’s not rocket science. Pass stimulus and pass it now.


The Real CBO Report, Please Stand Up

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

by Polk

While conservatives have ran out touting a non-existant CBO report, the CBO did something crazy: write an actual one. A little over half to be spent in the next 18 months, with another quarter of the money over the year after that. Lightening speed it is not, but far different from the claims of the right that it would take many years before any of the money hit the economy.

Meanwhile, conservatives contiune to push for tax cuts as the quick path to grow, even though the stimulus plan will create one new job for about every $50,000 spent, while tax cuts would require in excess of a million dollars to be cut to create even a single job (the Bush tax cuts, even under the most friendly of assumptions, spent around $900,000 for every job created).

That Darned Media

Monday, January 26th, 2009

by Polk

Bernard Goldberg is racing against Burger King for the title “Home of the Whopper”. The latest attack, “A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media”, as the title states, goes after the media for supposedly not going after Obama hard enough.

First, let’s take a look at Goldberg’s interview with TVNewser.

And that, Goldberg tells TVNewser, has cost the media its credibility. “It is very, very dangerous in a free country like ours,” he explains, “where the press is the only institution that is supposed to keep an eye on government, when just about nobody trusts the press anymore.”

The question is why does no one trust the press. The answer is that the right has spend years labeling the press as untrustworthy and the press has absorbed those claims as valid. In effect, they’ve been working the ref for decades. I wonder how repeating the same line for twenty years changes public opinion. If that’s not enough though, let’s continue.

TVNewser: It’s conceivable that some may write off the book as “sour grapes,” wondering if you didn’t support Obama and are upset he won. What would you say in response to that?

Goldberg: There may very well be a knee-jerk reaction that, because the book is about how the media slobbered over Barack Obama, that somehow, it’s anti-Barack Obama.

When the media was going apeshit over Reverand Wright while paying no attention to McCain’s associations with rapid anti-Semites like John Hagee? Was that the slobbering? What about repeating without question the McCain campaign line that he never mentions his time as a POW, even though he’s been using it since the beginning of his career whenever the going gets tough. What about all the press discussions of Bill Ayers (who was never convicted of any crime and Obama only knew vaguely), while the only person who had the balls to mention McCain’s close relationship with convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy was a late-night comedian? Or the crazy amount of time given to Not-Joe Not-A-Plumber (speaking of, if you haven’t realized he was a McCain campaign plant by now, you’re either blind or stupid)?

If Bernie is jealous about the “fawning” press coverage Obama got during the campaign, I’ll be more than glad to gift it to him.

This must be a prank…

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

In what may be one of the most painful articles I have ever read…

I KNOW Sarah Palin, and so does my wife.

Neither of us ever actually met the governor of Alaska, but we grew up with her – in the small-town America despised by the leftwing elite.

One gal-pal classmate of my wife’s has even traveled from New York’s Finger Lakes to Alaska to hunt moose with her husband. (Got one, too.) And no, Ms. Streisand, she isn’t a redneck missing half her teeth – she’s a lawyer.

The sneering elites and their mediacrat fellow travelers just don’t get it: How on earth could anyone vote for someone who didn’t attend an Ivy League school? And having more than 1.7 children marks any woman as a rube. (If Palin had any taste, her teenage daughter would’ve had a quiet abortion in a discreet facility.)

And what kind of retro-Barbie would stay happily married to her high-school sweetheart? Ugh. She even kills animals and eats them. (The meat and fish served in the upscale bistros patronized by Obama supporters appears by magic – it didn’t really come from living things. . .)

Palin has that hick accent, too. And that busy-mom beehive ‘do. Double ugh! Bet she hasn’t even read Ian McEwan’s latest novel and can’t explain Frank Gehry’s vision for a new architecture. She and her blue-collar (triple ugh!) husband don’t even own a McMansion, let alone an inherited family compound on the Cape.

And she wants to be vice president?

The opinion-maker elites see Sarah Palin clearly every time they look up from another sneering article in The New Yorker: She’s a country-bumpkin chumpette from a hick state with low latte availability. She’s not one of them and never will be. That’s the real disqualifier in this race.

Now let me tell you what those postmodern bigots with their multiple vacation homes and their disappointing trust-fund kids don’t see:

Sarah Palin’s one of us. She actually represents the American people.

When The New York Times, CNN, the NBC basket of basket cases and all the barking blog dogs insult Palin, they’re insulting us. When they smear her, they’re smearing every American who actually works for a living, who doesn’t expect a handout, who doesn’t have a full-time accountant to parse the family taxes, who believes in the Pledge of Allegiance and who thinks a church is more than just a tedious stop on daughter Emily’s 100K wedding day.

Go ahead, faux feminists and Hollywood deep thinkers: Snicker at Sarah America’s degree from the University of Idaho, but remember that most Americans didn’t attend Harvard or Princeton as a legacy after daddy donated enough to buy his kid’s way in.

Go ahead, campaign strategists: Mock Americans who go to church and actually pray. But you might want to run the Census numbers first.

And go right ahead: Dismiss all of us who remember how, on the first day of deer season, our high school classrooms were half empty (not a problem at Andover or Exeter).

Points to anyone in the class who can point out what’s wrong with this article.

Ready.

Set.

Go.

Now for the answers…

1. Not only is Sarah Palin not a lawyer, she had to school shop to get a BA in a joke major.

2. Todd Palin is not remotely blue-collar. While he works with his hands, it’s at a position for which he makes almost $100,000 a year.

3. While both Bush surely attended Ivy League schools on the basis of family name, Clinton did not. He was from a working-class background and fought his way up. How snobbish of him to actually work hard.

4. Who is mocking people who pray? Wait… no one.

5. I’ll go out on a limb and guess the percentage of Americans who hunt is less than 50%.

– Polk

The Republican Brain, or Lack Thereof: Romney Edition

Monday, September 1st, 2008

As reported by J-Mart:

“And you want to make sure our next president is someone who should be talking about protecting our nation and doesn’t just say let’s sit down with the world’s worst actors Ahmadinejad and the Castro brothers,” Romney said.  “But instead says, let’s sit down with the best democracies in the world and form a league of democracies. Let’s protect America. You want to make sure the people of America understand that when it comes to strengthening our economy we’re not in favor of raising taxes and cutting off trade and drawing a line and saying no nuclear, no coal and no more drilling. Instead, you want a president who will say, I’ll get this economy going with low taxes, and more trade for our goods, and yes, we will drill for more oil.”

The disconnect from reality is stunning. How is meeting with the leaders of unfriendly states a sign of lack of willingness to defend the homeland? Using that standard, every American president since the end of the Second World War has sold out the country. Kennedy met with Khrushchev and Nixon met with Mao. Compared to those two, Castro and Ahmadinejad are small potatoes. Of course, this assumes reason from people who have none, which can be seen in the following sentence. What possible purpose could a league of democracies serve? States of a democratic character are no more likely to have common interests than other states. Even in areas were states do have very similar interest (such as the EU), work on a common foreign policy is a challenge at best. Very few international challenges are so cut and dry that all democracies agree, and in the cases that are, more autocratic states agree as well.

When it comes to the economy, the theme of the day is just flat out lying about Obama’s positions. Cutting taxes for the vast majority of earners while raising them on a very small slice isn’t “raising taxes” in any meaningful sense. In fact, most voters would fair better under the Obama tax plan than they would under the McCain plan. Never let facts get in the way of a good rant though. Ditto energy. Since when has Obama stated opposition to drilling? Must have been some clever codespeak in his support for more drilling as part of a broader compromise measure on energy. He’s also the anti-nuclear candidate… who was dogged all during the primary season for being too close to nuclear energy firms in Illinois. Word of advice: attacks work better when they don’t contradict each other.

– Polk

Massachusetts Experiment With UHC A Failure

Monday, September 1st, 2008

… except when it isn’t.

Some 439,000 people have signed up for insurance since the plan went into effect in 2006, state officials said in a report released yesterday. (The figures exclude Medicare.) That’s more than two-thirds of the estimated 600,000 who were uninsured in the state two years ago, the Boston Globe reports.

A bit under half of those who have been added to the insurance rolls signed up through the private market, mostly through employer-sponsored plans; the rest joined subsidized state plans.

Indeed, so many people have signed up for insurance that the program is costing far more than expected, and there’s currently a fight in the state over how to pay for it.

Still, there’s a financial upside. The number of people showing up at emergency rooms for routine care — an inefficient, high-cost way to get such care — has fallen 37% since the plan went into effect, the Globe says. That decline has saved the state an estimated $68 million.

First question that pops in to my mind, and one that is not addressed in the article, is how much the state funding for insurance costs is relative to the savings from emergency care being used in a more reasonable fashion. If the expansion is costing the government, say, $75 million a year, then the cost is only slightly more than what was being paid to fund emergency services for the poor previously, while increasing quality since patients are able to see a GP for things like colds and ear infections instead of crowding ERs. The net result is large gains in care for a small amount of money. To argue that isn’t progress requires a total disconnect from reality, or a willing to lie to help your corporate backers. Either way, we’re sure to hear mischaracterization as the health care reform debate fires up after the election.

– Polk

The Palin Record

Monday, September 1st, 2008

In the coverage of McCain’s selection, there has been a truckload of gushing about Gov. Palin’s record of reform. The natural question has to be: What record? She’s barely taken her shoes off in the governor’s mansion.

McCain Lashes Out at His Base

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Look, the wingnuts clearly love the red meat of attacking the Times, but he couldn’t possibly tailor-make a better moment for Obama. Hoping for a company to go out of business because they publish at article critical of you? I’m sure that’s going to sale as being all-American. Claiming they are in the tank for your opponent when they endorsed you in your primary, but not your opponent in his? That surely rings loud and clear… Clear that McCain is a massive whiner.

If You Don’t Think Waterboarding is Torture

Monday, September 1st, 2008

you will after watching this.

One of the most intense things I have ever viewed in my life.

A Word on Heller

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Just a random thought that struck me as I heard about the ruling and reoccurred to day thanks to this piece. How long before we see a challenge to laws against carrying guns on planes or having them in schools?

The No-Experience Experienced Candidate

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Wes Clark hits all the notes that have been running through my mind for months.

Barack will engage in the diplomacy that is necessary to bring stability to the Middle East. Just like George Bush, John McCain repeatedly resorts to saber-rattling and threats about invading Iran while revealing a startling ignorance of the basic issues that define the politics of the region.

Barack knows we have to invest in renewable energy to end America’s dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming. And like George Bush, John McCain is in the pocket of big oil.

It’s about judgment — and I think the answer is clear.

While I respect John McCain’s service, I know exactly what he stands for — Bush’s third term. And in national security terms, John McCain is largely untested and untried. He’s never been responsible for policy formulation. John McCain is calculating that he will use the national security debate to his advantage. He’s wrong.

Many of the right love to tout McCain’s experience based his time in the military. The reality is that he never reached a position to be involved in actual planning. A quarter of his career was spend as a prisoner of war, and another quarter lobbying the Senate. To claim this gives McCain national security qualifications is like claiming playing catcher for the Braves also qualifies you be to the general manager. It just doesn’t add up. If one needs clearer evidence, look at the foreign policy records of high ranking military officers who actually made it to office (in order by highest rank achieved).

Washington: A wash. Kept the nation out of wars we were not equipped to fight, but went too easy on French.

Eisenhower: Utter failure. Decision to reduce conventional weapons to focus on nuclear capacity strengthened the Soviet’s hand for a decade.

Grant: Too drunk to notice he was even elected.

W.H. Harrison and Taylor: Gotta be alive to make policy. Just sayin’.

Jackson, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Pierce, B. Harrison: Quiet times.

A. Johnson: No score because Congress basically ran the country.

This list, while no means all of them, makes the point well enough.

A Word On SCOTUS Rulings: Kennedy v Louisiana Edition

Monday, September 1st, 2008

This is likely the most groaned about decision of the term, but it shouldn’t be. The court did not make the popular choice, but did make the right one. The death penalty is a horrible and immoral act, but setting that aside for a second, even if one agrees with it’s use as a general principle, this decision was the right one. Rape is a horrible crime, but it is not where near comparable to the ultimate destruction embodied by murder. Reading the accounts of what happened to that young girl makes one sick at the stomach, but our laws cannot be based on a tummy ache. There is a difference between revenge and justice, and the role of the legal process is the latter, even when the circumstances make us secretly long for the former.

At Least Be More Clever With The Title

Monday, September 1st, 2008

A dated story by now, sure, but running across it today left a burning desire to comment. To start with a comment from one of the right wing crank Malkin’s fellow travellers

It has come to my attention that Jihadis organized a campaign against us to have our videos removed by You Tube. Some people’s accounts have even been terminated. I don’t know exactly how the You Tube suspension system works, but it looks like a video will be removed if it gets a certain number of complaints (which may be accepted without investigation), and an account gets closed when the third video is removed. One of my videos was recently removed for “inappropriate content.” The video, ‘It’s In The Koran’ could be viewed at http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/videos/ItsInTheKoran.php, second screen (alternative video source). This video contains no sexually explicit content and could only be offensive to Muslims who reject any notion of criticism. At the same time, many al-Qaeda propaganda videos, Nazi videos, etc. are posted on You Tube.

First things first, Al-Queda spends it time trying to censor what a bunch of bigots post on the internet? Really. I always imagined, being terrorists and all, they probably were focused on planning and performing terrorist attacks. Crazy thought, that. And yes, the people posting those videos are bigots. They claim to be opposed to “jihad”, a word they attempt to strip of all meaning (just like they try to do with treason, but that’s another story for another day), but every comment they make has nothing to do opposition to extremism and violence, but instead helping further the cause of violent extremists by saying Al-Queda and other like-minded groups are the true representatives of all of Islam, and that all the rest are fakes. Of course, the same people become outraged if that standard is applied to their own faith (the persons are, almost always, evangelical Christians). Outrage flows when they’re linked to terrorist attacks over the years that have killed a sizable number of Americans. But really, at the end of the day, comparing a billion people to the Nazis? What could be offensive about that?