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Friday, October 10, 2008

Open letter to conservatives

These are tough times for everyone, but I know these are especially tough times for you.  From Iraq to Katrina to this global financial meltdown, you’ve made rather a mess of things, and now your party’s standardbearer is running a historically abysmal campaign made up of one part lies and two parts hate.  His proposal for health care is somewhere between stupid and vicious, and his response to the financial crisis is, amazingly, even worse.  Who’s his base now? Left Behind fans and people who can get hoppin’ mad at Barack Hussein Obama for spending three million dollars on an overhead projector thingy whatsis.  Yes, you have a VP candidate who got the base (and Rich Lowry) excited.  But as Hunter pointed out the other day,

The wingnut base is the easiest group of people on the planet to fire up. They get fired up when they think gays might steal their marriages. They get fired up when they have to press “one” for English. They get fired up when some black guy gets all uppity and runs for president. They get fired up when their sub-sub-sub-version of Christianity isn’t the dominant religious ideal of the nation. Holding Sarah Palin in front of them is like teasing a dog through a fence, but that’s about it.

Face it, folks, there’s nothing left.  You have a big bag of fail at this point.  Just the lies and the hate, which is more than enough to generate a $20 million salary for Sean Hannity but not enough to keep ordinary people from understanding that racial minorities are not to blame for the subprime crisis, and that Bill Ayers is not responsible for the Dow’s collapse.

So, what to do?  Those of you who have a shred of human decency and/or intellectual integrity are in a bit of a bind: you can cut your losses, recapitalize your institutions, and try to keep the brand alive a little bit longer.  Guys like Charles Krauthammer are offering to lead the way out for you: keep insulting Democrats and their beliefs while admitting that, well, uh, you have nothing.  Or you could take poor flailing David Brooks as a model.  One day after this humble blog suggested that high-end conservative pundits will slurp down any old slop they’re fed by the party, Brooks was slopping out this review of Sarah Palin’s debate performance:

this debate was about Sarah Palin. She held up her end of an energetic debate that gave voters a direct look at two competing philosophies. She established debating parity with Joe Biden. And in a country that is furious with Washington, she presented herself as a radical alternative.

By the end of the debate, most Republicans were not crouching behind the couch, but standing on it. The race has not been transformed, but few could have expected as vibrant and tactically clever a performance as the one Sarah Palin turned in Thursday night.

Only a week later, having realized to his horror that writing columns like this will soon deprive him of dinner-party conversation with sane people, Brooks has decided to call Palin a “fatal cancer to the Republican party.” Now that’s the way to throw someone under the couch, folks—if you want to maintain some sense of self-respect as a Serious Person.

But what about the rest of you?  What about those of you who don’t have any decency or integrity or self-respect?  What about all of you who want to spend the next eight years foaming at the mouth every time someone turns up shocking new evidence that Bill Ayers wrote Barack Obama’s autobiography, or that the secret Muslim Flight 93 memorial points to Mecca, or that Rachael Ray wore a scary scarf?

Folks, I don’t think you understand how we truly feel about you.  We mock you and tease you, I know, and you hate us for it.  But we don’t hate you back.  Really, we don’t.  We’re secular pluralists, after all, and we know we have to find ways of sharing this planet with people who can’t stand secular pluralists.  We really just want you to leave us alone.  Still, we have our limits.  The way you’ve behaved over the past decade or two leads us to believe that you’ll do whatever it takes to make the next decade or two a living hell for everyone who’s sincerely trying to clean up all the messes you’ve made.  And we just can’t be bothered with that nonsense right now.  This is too important.

Understand, I don’t want to deprive you of your pastimes and your livelihoods.  On the contrary:  I want you to enjoy them to the fullest extent imaginable—but in a way that doesn’t interfere with sane people.  So I have a proposal.

We will spend $500 trillion and create 150 million new, high-paying jobs creating an alternate reality for you.  In a state of your choosing—but preferably Utah, Oklahoma, or Alaska—we will construct a massive VR installation complete with all your favorite obsessions and catering to your every resentment.  In this separate, self-enclosed universe, President Palin and Vice-President Tancredo will run things just like you think they oughta be; crescents and croissants will be banned; An American Carol will sweep the Oscars; television will consist of two channels, Fox and Fox Sports; and the ten commandments will be proudly displayed in every classroom and courtroom, together with a Very Angry Eagle if you like.  There won’t be any elite universities or sneering college professors, of course, but there will be Mexicans, so that you can call for their deportation and then hire them to mow your lawn and work in your pork-processing plants; there will be gay people, so that your sense of sexual identity can be properly threatened at all times; and there will be a black person, played by Gloria Foster, so that you can prevent her from voting.

It’s totally a win-win.  You’ll love it, and you’ll be out of our hair.  And all you have to do is lie down in this comfy little pod of pink goo.

Posted by Michael on 10/10 at 08:19 AM
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The return of Mister Answer Man

You’ve got questions, Mister Answer Man has answers.  That’s one of the reasons his name is Mister Answer Man!  Let’s go to the mailbag.

Dear Mister Answer Man: Is this election over?
-- L. P. Berra, Bronx, NY

Mister Answer Man replies: That’s a very good question, and I want to consider it carefully.  OK, I did.  And I think you should just STFU.

Dear Mister Answer Man: Oh, come on.  Obama is up by eleventy billion nationwide, he’s holding all the Kerry states and leading in Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Idoming, West Caledonia, and maybe even North Carolina.  The McCain campaign now consists of “Obama is a terrorist’s best friend” leavened by references to “my fellow prisoners.” Lighten up already, dude—all this is not good news for John McCain. 
-- G. H. Gallup, Jefferson, IA

Mister Answer Man replies: Clearly, you don’t understand very much about polling, Mr. Gallup—if that is your real name.  First of all, as Chris Bowers soberly reports, the idea that Obama is going to crush McCain like a goldwaterbug is simply delusional.  Only in the nation’s English and Comparative Literature departments could Obama pull off the 97-3 win he deserves (with the 3 going, of course, to Nader).  Thirty percent of the American public would vote for a fire hydrant if the hydrant promised to overturn Roe v. Wade; another ten percent approve of Fire Hydrant’s plan to cut taxes and burdensome federal regulations; and another five to eight percent thinks that Fire Hydrant will be tough on crime terrorism.  Add to that the fact that no Democratic nominee has pulled more than 50 percent of the popular vote in the past 150 years save for FDR and LBJ, and you’ll understand why it’s a good idea to count on a close race right to the finish.

Dear Mister Answer Man: Back in August I went to see the New York Mets play the Florida Marlins. The Mets won 8-6, and at the time they had a slight lead over the Phillies in the NL East.  But the weird thing about the game was that the Mets had not one but two four-run leads, 4-0 and 8-4, and yet the crowd was restive and querulous throughout the entire game.  Every time a Marlin got a base hit, even if it was a dribbling single with two outs and nobody on base, the entire stadium of forty-something thousand went “mmmeeeeehhhhhh” and people began grousing to their neighbors that now was the moment the collapse would begin.  It was almost as if they knew the Mets would find a creative and heartbreaking way to lose, and were waiting (with dread but also with a perverse fascination) for the inevitable crushing defeat. What was up with that?  And do you think it might serve as an apt metaphor for the way Democrats feel every four years?
-- J. Manuel, Flushing, Queens

Mister Answer Man replies: You ask a profound (and, I must say, somewhat leading) question, Mr. Manuel.  The short answer is yes: the Mets lost four-run leads twenty-nine times in 2008, beating their 2007 record of twenty-six coughed-up hair-ball losses*, and only two weeks before you attended that Mets-Marlins game, the Mets gave up six runs in the ninth inning in a critical divisional matchup against those Phillies. The grumbling Shea crowd you encountered in early August was what sports psychologists call a “traumatized bunch of MFers,” that is, a group of people who not only fear the worst (often with good reason) but also believe that their fears actually call the worst into being, and who are therefore consumed with guilt about the possibility that their fears may influence reality.  As it happened, the Mets were in fact incapable of holding a lead, in a game or in the division, and incapable of getting base hits in critical situations during crucial games, so the “querulous” fan reaction at Shea would appear to be quite justified.  For many years during the period 1967-2003, Red Sox fans were the paradigmatic case of a traumatized bunch of MFers, but in more recent years they have started to become overweening, Yankee-esque bullies who expect to win every game every year.  Chicago Cubs fans have undergone a different evolutionary path: sometimes their team is made up of Dukakisian sad sacks who finish 77-85—you know, bad, but not McGovernistic 58-104 abysmal—and sometimes the team consists of talented Gore-Kerry almost-rans who prolly shoulda woulda coulda won it all except for Steve Bartman’s amicus brief in Bush v. Gore.

Mister Answer Man should add, on a personal note, that you should never, ever listen to him when he says something is over before it’s over.  In 2003 he believed the Cubs were a lock for the NL pennant once they went up 3-1 on the Marlins; last year he said out loud—on September 12, to be exact—that there was no way the Mets could blow the division now, up seven games with seventeen to play.  And just this past June, he turned off game four of the Lakers-Celtics series midway through the third quarter, knowing the Celtics could not possibly come back from 20 points down with 18 minutes to play.  (They closed the gap to two by the end of the quarter and went on to win by six.) So even though Mister Answer Man is quite good at predicting Super Bowls, thanks to his patented scientific formula, he is possibly the World’s Worst when it comes to missing epic collapses and comebacks.

Dear Mister Answer Man: The sheer barking madness of the right-wing blogosphere never ceases to amaze me.  Just yesterday I happened by that “Powerline” place and read this: “This may be a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. The political, media, cultural and social establishments are determined to elect the pro-status quo, anti-change candidate, Barack Obama, as President. The power and money arrayed behind Obama seem unbeatable. At the same time, it is inconceivable that the American people would elect a socialist President. So, if this report is correct, something’s got to give.” The amazing breaking news is that Barack Obama was once a member of the New Party.  “This report” turns out to be the work of one of those freepy people who apparently had never heard of the New Party until a few days ago, and now all the hounds are baying, like so: “J. Brown of Politically Drunk on Power has dug up multiple documentary sources (with hyperlinks) proving that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party, despite alleged attempts to cover up his tracks by scrubbing evidence. He or she deserves tremendous praise for doing this detective work.” What is the matter with these people?  Will they bark at every shiny object they see?  I know that if I ask, “are they stupid or ignorant,” you’ll tell me this isn’t an either-or kind of blog.  But this time I’m really puzzled.  Perhaps, as a former member of the New Party, you can help clear this up.
-- J. Rogers, Madison, WI

Mister Answer Man replies: Actually, Mr. Rogers, this time they’ve hit pay dirt.  The New Party was indeed founded by the Union of Soviet Democratic Socialists in 1992, and its mission was to abolish private property, nationalize the means of production, and put all white people over fifty years of age to work in underground Communist sugar mines.  It also advocated “fusion” ballots, which would destroy Western civilization and also require your daughter to marry Lindsay Lohan.  But Mister Answer Man joined because he liked the Communism, and he’s willing to bet that Obama did too.  Seriously, if the folks at No Quarter get a hold of this shocking new information, it could be a real game changer.

Uh-oh.

Dear Mister Answer Man: I know you don’t want to jinx anything, but can’t you please please please give us some idea of what Obama’s cabinet will look like?  Even just a few guesses?  It would be so much fun.
-- J. Jackson, Chicago, IL

Mister Answer Man replies: Oh, all right.  Just this once, just for you:

State: Stagger Lee
Defense: Huey Newton
Attorney General: Bigger Thomas
Labor: John Henry
Interior: Malik Shabazz X
Energy:  George Clinton
Agriculture: Ludacris
Commerce: Jack Johnson
Transportation: Rick James
Homeland Security: Kanye West
HHS: Blackazoid
HUD: Chuck D
Veterans Affairs: There will be no Secretary for Veterans Affairs
Education: Bill Ayres Aires Ayers

Mister Answer Man wishes good luck to all these worthy nominees!

* These numbers may be exaggerated or made up.

Posted by Michael on 10/09 at 08:50 AM
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Which one?

Probably the low point of the debate last night, for John McCain, was his attempt to woo independent voters back to his side by singing:

That one isn’t good for you
Though he may want you too
This one wants you back again

Oh, and this one would be happy
Just to love you, but oh, no, no, no
That one won’t be happy
Til he’s created a huge new
health care bureaucracy

This one would be John McCain
Would always feel McSame
If this one gets you back again

One morning-after note.  Even in the course of calling the debate “a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain,” Andrew Sullivan just can’t resist saying, in the middle of his liveblogging, that Obama is not like those other Democrats: “‘We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda.’ This is a Democratic candidate. Can you remember the last one who used rhetoric like that on national security?” Why, yes, Andrew, I can.  It was ‘way back in the autumn of aught-four, when John Kerry was debating Teddy Roosevelt.  The young’uns might not remember, but they know how to use the Google, and they can use the “find” thingy to check out where Kerry says (more than once!) he would “hunt down and kill the terrorists.” I forget whether he added “with my bare hands” or “with thousands of mighty robots.” I think that might have been Fafblog.  But yeah, I know, Kerry went windsurfing so it doesn’t count.

Posted by Michael on 10/08 at 09:34 AM
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debate time!

My friends, we have to rein in spending bills festooned with wasteful bear DNA.  Who is the real Barack Hussein al-Obama?  I have always been about one hundred percent the truth.  My friends, festooned with wasteful bear DNA.  Why do al-Obama and his friend Bill Ayers hate America?  I have always been about one hundred percent the truth.  My friends, we have to rein in wasteful bear DNA.  Al-Obama is not one of us!  I have always been about one hundred percent the truth.  My friends, al-Obama has bear DNA.  One hundred percent the truth!  Bears.  DNA.  Obama.  Ayers.  Truth.  DNA.  Bayers.  Osama.  Truth truth truth truth truth truth truth truth tru

Posted by Michael on 10/07 at 08:00 PM
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McCain On Tuesday Presidential Debate: The Wheels Will Come Off

Repaired your typo, as they say on blogs.

Also, doggone it, why do the liberal media keep conducting these meaningless polls about George Bush’s “job approval rating” when he hasn’t even been president for, I dunno, like, a coupla years now?  I mean, it’s like asking Steelers fans what kind of job they think Bill Cowher is doing.

Posted by Michael on 10/07 at 02:35 PM
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New McCain Stump Speech—Now With Twenty Percent More Subtext

My friends, this is a most important election, and I’ve come before the American people to ask the most important questions that face us in this time of trouble and uncertainty.  Questions such as: who is the real Barack Hussein al-Obama?  How did he come out of nowhere, trained by madrassas in Indonesia and Afrikanistan, to become the surprise stealth nominee of the Democrat party?  America knows me, my friends, and America knows my story of heroism and self-sacrifice.  And yet America knows nothing about this mysterious foreigner who makes so many nice speeches but who won’t level with the American people about what he really plans to do to them.

Rather than answer his critics, al-Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked about his pastor and his terrorist pals. But let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician who comes from the south side of Chicago, which, as Jim Croce pointed out many years ago, is the baddest part of town.

My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book.  He seems volatile, irascible, quick to anger, and possessed of a truly outrageous sense of personal entitlement. Not like me—all of America knows that I came up the hard way, and that no one ever offered me a handout or saved me a cushy place in some fancy East Coast university.  It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, al-Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story and a back-room deal with al-Obama. That’s how those people operate—they move under cover of darkness, hiding their shadowy associations and even changing their names.  All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America?

Sure, he gave a nice little speech in Denver in front of a bunch of expensive columns and talked about his “plans” in great detail.  But my friends, you know and I know that those weren’t his real plans.  When precisely does al-Obama plan to convert Americans to Islam?  Will he fulfill his promise to paint the White House black?  How many little babies will he kill with the help of domestic terrorist and longtime pal Bill Ayres?  Is it true that he is planning to round up all white people over the age of fifty and put them to work in his underground sugar mines?  And how exactly does he propose to teach your kindergarten-age child to have sex?  Will he use claymation models and origami pop-ups, or will he try to demonstrate specific sexual techniques himself?  But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.  My friends, it is time to come together, reject partisan bickering in Washington and the tired politics of division, and tell the straight truth about everything that’s gone wrong over the past eight years: it’s all the fault of the Democrat party and the dark, elusive stranger who calls himself—for now, anyway—Barack Hussein al-Obama.

Whew!  Now that McCain’s campaign has moved into its neo-Birchian phase, complete with its very own raving anti-Semitic wing and, at the very top of the media food chain, professional (and lipsticked!) scuzzballs like Sean Hannity and Smirkin’ Bill Kristol, I’m tempted to hope that Obama will say something like this in tonight’s debate, perhaps in his closing statement:

John, many months ago you promised to run an honorable campaign that respected the intelligence of the American people.  I’m truly sorry to say that your promise has been honored more in the breach than in the observance.  I’m sorry to see you respond to a global financial crisis by stooping to baseless innuendo and naked character assassination, simply because your advisers have decided that it’s time to “turn the page” on the crisis that affects all of us around the world.  I’m especially sorry to see that you’ve lost many of your admirers in the national media: the same people who were calling you a maverick and saluting your “straight-talk express” eight years ago are now saying you’ve run the most dishonest, dishonorable campaign in recent memory.  John, I’m asking you as a fellow Senator and a fellow American, because there are only four weeks left in this critical campaign: will you take the high road, will you run an honorable campaign, will you address yourself to the issues that really matter to the American people?

Call it the audacity of hope.  Of course, I don’t think Obama will say anything like this; if the first debate is any indication, Obama’s going to go for the cool deflection, not the red-hot direct reply.  In so doing, Obama will no doubt disappoint his partisans who want him to play Rock-Em-Sock-Em Robots with the vast right-wing noise machine.  Yes, I know, it’s better to play it cool when your opponent is an incoherent growling curmudgeon and you’re up by eight or nine nationwide.  But I do think that McCain is at the boiling point, and that if Obama says anything tonight that calls into question McCain’s one-hundred-percent truthiness and integritocity, or if Obama says anything that suggests that McCain should treat him as a peer (like “as a fellow Senator"), however gently and genteely he says it, the game might finally be over.

Because up to this point, the one thing McCain has been most willing to sacrifice—his reputation for integrity, the backbone of his carefully-crafted public legend—has been the one thing he most fiercely defends.  It’s almost as if he knows precisely how much he’s lost in the bargain, and has decided (consciously or unconsciously) to devote his campaign to his own self-destruction:  attacking his media base and slingin’ the shit while dedicating himself to a frantic defense of his reputation for country-first integritude and steadfast truth-telling maverickiness.  If Obama touches on this dynamic tonight, however lightly, his opponent might implode. 

No, it probably won’t happen.  But it would be great fun to watch.

Posted by Michael on 10/07 at 12:09 AM
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