Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

Is Sarah Palin Coming to Your Neighborhood? (California, Here She Comes!)

palin.terminator1.If I’m correct that Sarah Palin resigned as Alaska governor in order to lead a right wing movement that is ostensibly independent of the major political parties, then the next question is: where will she establish her new home and base of operations?

The Northeast is too liberal, the South is too connected to racial politics (and there’s too much competition for conservative leadership and not enough big money), Washington, D.C., is too much of an enemy camp, and the Midwest doesn’t have enough access to the media.

Texas is certainly a possibility, but I don’t think she’ll want to compete for power with the Bush clan.

Florida also is a possibility, but I don’t think she’ll want to compete for conservatives with both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.

Utah is solidly Mitt Romney and Mormon territory, and Arizona belongs to former running mate (and now political rival) John McCain.

And while Idaho might have the most ideologically receptive population, it is so far off the media radar that she might as well stay in Alaska.

That leaves California.

Specifically, Southern California.

And more specifically, Orange County.

Orange County is rich, conservative, and close to Los Angeles’ enormous media network.

And California has no nationally known conservative political figure (Arnold doesn’t count) to offer her any real competition.

In fact, the California Republican Party is so fractured because of the budget battle and the hang-them-all ideology of its tea party militants that the Republican establishment wouldn’t be able to offer any real competition to Palin’s brand of radical right-wing conservatism.

It might be very bad news for more moderate Republicans like Meg Whitman and for the statewide chances of the Republican Party, but you can bet that John and Ken would welcome her with open arms (and air waves).

Are you ready for the new Terminator?

California, here she comes!

Sarah Palin Declares Her Independence

palin.flag.01Sarah Palin is not done causing headaches for the leadership of the Republican Party.

In fact, my guess is that she is going to cause them far more pain in the near future than they or the media could ever have imagined.

At this point, politicians and the press are trying to decipher Palin’s motivation for her stunning announcement yesterday that she is resigning as governor of Alaska.

The standard analysis is that she is resigning in order to concentrate her efforts on securing the Republican nomination for president in 2012.  As Bill Kristol told Fox News after Palin’s speech: “We just saw the opening statement of the 2012 campaign.”

Others — including NBC’s Andrea Mitchell — think Palin is stepping away from politics for good.

And some claim that Palin is resigning because of soon-to-be-announced scandals, including an alleged federal criminal investigation into the rebuilding of Palin’s home.

I think they’ve all missed the forest for the trees.

Sarah Palin isn’t done with politics.

But she might well be done with the Republican Party.

Rather than relying on alleged experts (who are not in Palin’s close circle) or taking the supposed word of unnamed sources, I suggest that the best indication of why Palin resigned – and what she plans to do – comes from Palin herself.

In her speech, she specifically states that she is not stepping away from politics.  On the contrary, she repeatedly emphasized that she going to continue to work to “effect positive change,” although it would be from “outside government at this moment in time.” She was, she said, following in the never-give-up tradition of General Douglas MacArthur.  “We’re not retreating,” she said, “we are advancing in another direction.’” (As the New York Times points out, Palin got the author of the quote wrong; it was not said by MacArthur, but by Maj. Gen. Oliver Prince Smith.)

She also was clear about the kind of “positive change” she planned to effect: she was going to continue to fight against “the heavy hand of federal government [intruding] into our communities with an all-knowing attitude,“ fight against “the obscene national debt that we’re forcing our children to pay because of today’s big government spending,” and “protect states’ rights, as mandated in the 10th Amendment.”

As she did during the 2008 campaign, Palin cast herself as the champion of the people: those  “hardworking, average Americans fighting for what’s right” and those people “who still believe in free enterprise and smaller government and strong national security for our country and support for our troops and energy independence and for those who will protect freedom and equality and life.”

In other words, Palin sounded much same as she did during the presidential campaign – and she certainly didn’t sound like a person getting out of politics.

But there was a difference from her speeches during the presidential campaign.

And the difference involves the political party that she supports.

In her resignation speech, Palin said: “I’ll work hard for and I’ll campaign for those who are proud to be American and who are inspired by our ideals and they won’t deride them. I will support others who seek to serve in or out of office, and I don’t care what party they’re in or no party at all, inside Alaska or outside of Alaska.”

Repeatedly referring to her course of action as “unconventional,” “a new direction” and “no more politics as usual”  — and comparing her actions to those of William H. Seward, (Lincoln’s Secretary of State who negotiated the purchase of Alaska  — ”Seward’s Folly”), who took the “the uncomfortable, unconventional but right path to secure Alaska, so that Alaska could help secure the United States” — Palin dropped clue after clue that, like Seward, she too was going to take an “uncomfortable, unconventional but right path” to “help secure the United States.”

I think Sarah Palin told us what she is planning to do.

Yes, she is running for President.

But not necessarily as a Republican.

Sarah Palin has declared herself the leader of a movement, not merely a political party.

It was not a coincidence that Palin gave her speech on the weekend of Independence Day.

She just declared her independence from the Republican Party.

Winners and Losers 2008

Here is a list of winners and losers for 2008.

palin-fail

As befits a year in which the economy collapsed and wars dragged on, the list of losers is longer than the list of winners.

Two names made the list of both winners and losers.

Feel free to add or subtract names and to add commentary.

The year isn’t over, so the list may change.

Winners

Barack Obama
Michelle Obama
Hillary Clinton
Rachel Maddow
Pixar
Bankruptcy lawyers
Facebook
Robert Gates
Jonas Brothers
Bill Ayers
Heather Mills
Sarah Palin
Democrats
Beyoncé
Harrison Ford
Joe Biden
Robert Downey, Jr.
The Taliban
Mexican drug cartels
Prisons
AIG
Lawrence Summers
David Axelrod
Rahm Emanuel
Paul Volker
Vladimir Putin
Tom Daschle
John Podesta
Britney Spears
Keith Olbermann
C.C. Sabbathia
Philadelphia Phillies
Brett Farve
will.i.am
Eli Manning
Bank of America
Christopher Buckley
Walmart
Mark Begich
Muntadhar al-Zaidi
Somali pirates
Guy Ritchie
Emo vampires
Carla Bruni
Google
Tom Udall
Mark Udall
John Kerry
Al Gore
Kay Hagan
Mickey Rourke
Mike Huckabee
Jeff Merkley
Michael Phelps
Jason Lezak
Heath Ledger
Rafael Nadal
Repo Men
Global warming
Handguns

Losers

OJ Simpson
Bernard L. Madoff
Anthony Pellicano
George W. Bush
John McCain
Republicans
Alan Greenspan
Realtors
Iraq
Paul McCartney
Newspapers
Local television
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
William J. Jefferson
Circuit City
Lehman Brothers
Detroit
John Edwards
Myspace
Steve Schmidt
Chinese milk
Star Wars
Yahoo
Wachovia Corp.
Washington Mutual
Karl Rove
Sam Zell
Richard H. Davis
U.S. Automakers
The South
Mortgage brokers
Ben Bernanke
Henry Paulson
Same Sex Marriage
Merrill Lynch
Book publishers
Airlines
Homeland Security
Rush Limbaugh
The Fed
Britney Spears
Rod Blagojevich
Scooter Libby
Bill Clinton
Jeremiah Wright
Mitt Romney
Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Las Vegas
California
Arnold Schwartzeneggar
Eliot Spitzer
Gordon Smith
Raffaello Follieri
Workers
Sarah Palin
Ted Stevens
Washington Mutual
Yeshiva University
Africa
India
Bill O’Reilly
New York Mets
Plaxico Burress
Broadway
Phil Gramm
Museum of Modern Art (MOCA) Los Angeles
Mikheil Saakashvili
Christopher Cox
Joe Lieberman
Jewish charities
Public schools
Community colleges
John E. Sununu
Elizabeth Dole
Miley Cyrus
Countrywide
Angelo Mozilo
Max Mosley
Kwame Kilpatrick
Heath Ledger
Roger Clemens
Baytown, Texas
Galveston Island, Texas
Missouri
The Bill of Rights

Do You Know More American Civics than Sarah Palin? (A Lesson in Conservative Hypocrisy)

Do you know more about American civics than the famously ignorant Sarah Palin?

palin2

Or more than the 71 percent of Americans who failed a basic civic literacy quiz?

According to a recent report called Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), “Of the 2,508 Americans taking ISI’s civic literacy test,” the report said, “71% fail. Nationwide, the average score on the test is only 49%. … The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.”

The test consists of 33 questions on American history, the workings of the U.S. government and free market economics.

Some of the report’s findings:

  • Less than half could name all three branches of the U.S. government.
  • Only 21 percent knew the source of the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
  • Less than one in five knew the origin of the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state.

Civic ignorance was remarkably consistent across income, age, educational, racial, marital status, church attendance, ideological and party affiliation groups.  No group scored a passing grade, and no group knew more than 55 percent of the correct answers.

Elected official scored even worse than ordinary citizens, with only 33 percent scoring a passing grade. 

Based on these results, the ISI concludes that “America’s institutions of higher learning [have failed] to transmit to their students a basic understanding of the fundamental history, texts, and institutions of the American republic.”

The ISI then “calls upon administrators, trustees, faculty, donors, taxpayers, parents, and elected officials to reevaluate collegiate curricula and standards of accountability” and urges “leaders inside and outside of the academy with a stake in the future of American higher education to roll up their sleeves and get to work addressing the shortcomings documented in ISI’s civic literacy reports.”

From my own experience as a college professor, I have no doubt that the findings of the ISI regarding basic civic illiteracy are accurate. 

But I have questions about the ISI itself, and it’s own responsibility for the civic ignorance that it documents.

The ISI’s National Civics Literacy Board of Directors is comprised of conservative academics and policy advocates from the Hoover Institution, the American Enterprise Institute, the New Criterion, the Wall Street Journal, the National Center for Policy Analysis, Civic Enterprises, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Center for Creative Leadership and the Philip M. McKenna Foundation.

In other words, the people who run ISI are the very same people whose policies and favored candidates have destroyed the public education system on which our national civic literacy depends.

The ISI report focuses its attention and criticism on American colleges, but as anyone who has taught at the college level knows, what can be accomplished by colleges largely depends on the basic knowledge that students bring with them – that is, on what they’ve learned (or not learned) in grade school and high school. 

By advocating policies that slash funds to public education, increase class sizes, reduce teacher salaries and benefits, and eliminate early childhood and after-school educational programs, the board members of the ISI are themselves responsible for the civic illiteracy they now hypocritically bemoan.

Here’s a civics test for the board members of the ISI:

1. Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy have resulted in:
a. Increased class sizes.
b. Elimination of educational programs.
c. Reductions in educational resources.
d. All of the above.

2. In practice, conservative (Republican) educational theory means:
a. Increased class sizes.
b. Elimination of educational programs.
c. Reductions in educational resources.
d. All of the above.

3. The members of the ISI board are in large part responsible for
a. The failed educational policies of the Bush administration.
b. The collapse of our nation’s grade schools, high schools, and community college systems.
c. The widespread civic illiteracy the ISI laments.
d. All of the above.

The correct answer for each of these questions is “d. All of the above.”

In my civics class, I’d give ISI — and the conservatives who run it — a failing grade.

Palin As President (interactive) — with Post-Election Update!

Looking for some election eve tension release?

Check out the brilliant interactive website palinaspresident.us.

palinaspresident

Although there is no creative attribution on the website, I discovered that it is the work of photographer and art director Sean Ohlenkamp of the M&C Saatchi advertising agency.

Be sure to click on things more than once – they change.

UPDATE:

The website is now reconfigured as BarackasPresident.com— with a bucket of champagne and a “Yes We Can” flyer on the desk.  Click on it with the sound turned up.

You can still see the old Palin as President website here at palinaspresident/never.

I expect the site to keep changing, so we ought to keep visiting.

Don’t Blame Bush

The blame is already being dished as John McCain’s presidential campaign sputters toward a crushing election defeat and the Democrats are poised to take control of the White House and both houses of Congress.

mccain-and-bush

Most of the pointing fingers are aimed at the universally loathed George W. Bush, who has become the public face of both economic catastrophe and battlefield disaster.

Other leading candidates for the role of principal victim in the Republican blame game are John McCain – he didn’t run a tough enough campaign or didn’t appeal enough to the party’s evangelical or populist base – and Sarah Palin – she wasn’t ready to be president or didn’t broaden her appeal beyond the party’s evangelical or populist base.

But George W. Bush is not the cause of the Republican Party’s looming election debacle, and neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin is the reason for their party’s 2008 collapse. 

Americans like to personalize politics, preferring to embrace or repudiate personalities rather than policies.  When we evaluate our politicians, we talk about their personal qualities – such as leadership, competence, integrity, consistency, and authenticity.  We like to say that we vote for the candidate not the party.

For this reason, our public debate on the causes of the Republican has focused on questions of Bush’s incompetence, McCain’s temperament, and Palin’s ignorance.

But blaming any or all of them for the coming massive Republican defeat misses the real culprit and lets too many others off the hook.

The cause of the Republican’s imminent electoral disaster is not the personal qualities of their elected officials and candidates, but the fundamental beliefs and policy assumptions of the Republican Party. 

It is these fundamental beliefs and policy assumptions that have caused the nation’s economic meltdown, which has in turned caused the meltdown of the Republican Party.

And every single Republican office holder, from the president to the lowest down-ticket county official, regardless of their personal qualities, shares in the blame.

The modern Republican Party, and every Republican, has embraced these two basic beliefs:

  • No to government regulation of markets and the economy.  A fundamental belief of every Republican is that the economy works best – that is, it is more productive and creates more wealth – when unconstrained by regulation.
  •  No to taxes.  Every Republican believes that taxes, especially on the wealthiest Americans, should be always lower and eliminated whenever possible.  Under no circumstances should there be a tax increase, even in order to fund necessary government program. 

These two fundamental tenets of Republican policy have created the economic crisis the nation is now suffering, and nearly every other crisis that the nation is now facing can be traced to Republican adherence to these principles – including our soaring national debt, our crumbling infrastructure, our failing schools, our ecological vandalism, our oil dependency, our exploding prison population, our shameful veterans hospitals, and our inequitable and dysfunctional heath care system.

Every other Republican talking point – from abortion to immigration to support for continuing the war in Iraq – is contingent and conditional.  There are Republicans who disagree with the party leadership on these issues.

But there are no Republicans who have not sworn eternal hostility to taxes and economic regulation.  One simply cannot be a Republican without embracing these two fundamental policies that have brought near catastrophe to the world economy, to the operations of federal, state and local government, and, finally, and deservedly, to the Republican Party itself.

What has brought America to the brink of disaster and the Republican Party to the brink of an election defeat of historic proportions?

It’s not just Bush.

It’s not just McCain and Palin.

It’s Republicans.

Each and every one of them.

Don’t let Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Chris Shays, or your local Republican senator or schoolboard member put the blame on someone else.

As another famous Republican once said, they’re all bad.

Obama and the Jews

In a previous post — The Great Schlep: Why Do Jews Demean Jews? — I argued that Sarah Silverman’s video The Great Schlep both demeaned Jews and falsely assumed that older Jews are more conservative than their grandchildren or less likely to support Barack Obama.

abolishchildlaborNow a recent Gallup poll proves that I was right about older Jews’ support for Obama.

From Gallup.com:

“Obama Winning Over Jewish Vote”

“PRINCETON, NJ — Jewish voters nationwide have grown increasingly comfortable with voting for Barack Obama for president since the Illinois senator secured the Democratic nomination in June. They now favor Obama over John McCain by more than 3 to 1, 74% to 22%.”

“Support for Obama among all registered voters was fairly stable from June through September, but then rose sharply in October — in apparent reaction to the U.S. economic crisis. By contrast, support for Obama among Jewish voters has expanded more gradually, from the low 60% range in June and July to 66% in August, 69% in September, and 74% today.”

obamajews1

“The current proportion of U.S. Jews backing Obama is identical to the level of support the Democratic ticket of John Kerry and John Edwards received in the 2004 presidential election (74%). It is only slightly lower than what Al Gore and Joe Lieberman received in 2000 (80%) — when the first Jewish American appeared on the presidential ticket of a major party.”

“Recent support for Obama is a bit higher among older Jews than among Jews younger than 55. According to combined Gallup Poll Daily tracking data from Sept. 1 through Oct. 21, an average of 74% of Jews aged 55 and older supported Obama for president across this period, compared with about two-thirds of younger Jews.”

“The Obama/Biden ticket is poised to perform about on par with other recent Democratic presidential tickets when it comes to support from American Jewish voters.”

So much for the false idea behind The Great Schlep — that older Jews are conservative and that Sarah Silverman and her army of youngsters are needed to teach their grandparents progessive politics.