Eric Boehlert writes, accurately enough, that many of Sarah Palin's newest, harshest critics are conservatives. He names names and links to them.
Ross Douthat, the current token conservative columnist for the New York Times, critiques Palin's resignation as a "bizarre, rambling resignation speech." He allows that family considerations can be a legitimate reason for leaving the national scene, but a "Sarah Palin who resigned in the delusional belief that it would give her a better shot at the presidency in 2012 warrants no such kindness." Charles Krauthammer calls the move erratic and delusional, but predicts she will someday be back.
Alaska's State GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich is shocked by the “timing and the totality of the decision.” The arctic state's Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski is "disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded." Former Republican state legislator Andrew Halcro, a well known rival, is "struck by the abruptness, the lack of logical reasoning and the timing...This doesn’t make a damn bit of political sense to me ... Regardless of what you think or what you think her ambitions are, she is now a quitter.”
Left out is, possibly, Palin's harshest critic. Peggy Noonan is scathing. "She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence."
They may all be wrong. Imagine yourself as cast improbably upon the national stage. You are a marginally informed, well intentioned, village politician who is known mostly for standing up to statewide corruption by your own political party. But on the unexpected national stage, you are unprepared, and you flounder to the mirth of your new opponents. But you do show a great deal of raw charisma. Ordinary folks like you ... a lot.
Now imagine seeing the ranks of better informed, well prepared national figures suddenly decimated by scandals and missteps. Imagine those who are left as being irreparably short of intellectual stature. Let's face it, being unprepared for sudden fame is curable. Being dumb after years of national prominence strongly indicates probable permanent doltishness.
Your clear duty might well be to devote yourself full time to becoming the well informed, mature icon of opposition you feel your country needs. That is not to say Governor Palin will engage in such an intense, full time project of self-education. The Sarah Palin University with a student body of one, and guest lecturers of distinction may never come into being.
But, then again, there is a possibility. And she is beloved by the base.
On Softball Questions asked of Sonia Sotomayor on the first day of hearings:
America, I want you to watch this! As, as our country burns to the ground, cause we all have this stuff going on, this is the questioning...
- - an angry Glenn Beck of Fox News
In the interest of fairness, here is a comprehensive list of every question the nominee got at the hearing to which Beck referred, along with a verbatim transcript of every word of her answers:
That's it . . .
The number of questions on the first day of hearings was exactly zero.
Unintentional comedian Roland Burris was God's gift to Republicans. He was appointed by hilariously corrupt Governor Rod Blagojevich to replace the fellow who resigned the office to become the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Blagojevich had been recorded as he conspired to sell the seat. With that beginning, things got improbably worse.
Burris testified under oath that, prior to being named, he had never spoken with anyone about an appointment to the US Senate. When it turned out that there was actual evidence circling about, coming in for landing, that this was simply not true, he allowed that he had spoken with corrupt emissaries about a similar topic: his interest in being appointed to the Senate. Not the appointment itself, just his interest. This linguistic bag of pretzels seems to be keeping him out of jail on perjury charges.
Even yellow Dog Democrats would have voted for the Republican, almost any Republican, over Burris. And it looked as if popular Republican Mark Kirk would run against him. But then, like a one-two punch, two stunning blows turned this Senate seat from a neatly wrapped present to the GOP to a strong Democratic probability. First: lying liar Burris, who tells lies and then lies about the lies, announced he would not run. Then popular Republican Mark Kirk decided he wouldn't run either.
What motivates Burris is apparent. 1. His family does not comprise a majority of Illinois citizens. 2. Everyone outside his family pretty much despises him. Lying politicians are a tradition in this country. But clumsy liars are not easily tolerated. The prospects of Senator David Vitter (R-Brothels) and Governor Mark Sanford (R-South America) may argue against this proposition, but it does apply to Senator Burris.
The reasoning of Kirk is more telling. Persuaded by science, he was one of only a few Republicans to vote for a bill to begin cleaning up carbon emissions that threaten to crush the global environment. He met with the Illinois Republican congressional delegation last week. They refused to back him because of the climate bill.
The hostility of the Republican party toward genuine science is a growing trend. It is a tough demon to exorcise because it flows up from the base. But it was reflected at the top in the climate vote.
A new Pew Research survey of more than 2500 scientists tells us that, among those who have devoted themselves to scientific knowledge, 87% view themselves as Democrats or independents. Only 6% are Republicans. It can be argued that this means science is partisan. But Republican hostility to truth has driven from its ranks those devoted to truth.
Scientists compose only a small percentage of voters. But Republican aversion to knowledge may have denied them at least one Senate seat.
Concerning the National Education Association:
The NEA is a terrorist organization
- - Bush Education Secretary Rod Paige, February 2004
President Obama just appointed Francis S. Collins to head the National Institutes of Health. He headed the Human Genome Project which used new methods he had developed in tracking parts of the genetic code. The successful mapping of the human genetic code is widely credited to his leadership. It turns out he is also a successful manager. He brought in each milestone ahead of time and under budget.
But some scientists are apprehensive. Collins is enthusiastic about his spiritual beliefs, and sees them as fully consistent with science. Researchers and theorists are somewhat conditioned, having occasionally bumped into the willful ignorance of religious superstition. The earth was created 6,000 years ago. If you don't buy that, I have another, Intelligent Design. Look at the intricate design of the human ear. Could such refined complexity come into being through natural development combined with random biological accidents? Well yeah, it could.
The dark side of religion includes literalism, the inability to see the spiritual inspiration between the words and punctuation. Advocates of science may well buy into the more primitive definitions of belief. One can read the writings of the new NIH Director to see that he does not. His rejection of Creationism and its redheaded stepchild, Intelligent Design are firm and final.
In a famous debate with atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the The God Delusion, Collins asked Dawkins whether the concept of good and evil can be divorced from the evolutionary development of the human mind.
Dawkins: "Even the question you’re asking has no meaning to me. Good and evil—I don’t believe that there is, hanging out there anywhere, something called good and something called evil. I think that there are good things that happen and bad things that happen."
Collins:"I think that is a fundamental difference between us."
The views of both scientists are consistent with the classic philosophical premises of science. One is that propositions have no scientific meaning unless both their truth and their falsity are possible to determine. "God Exists" is a statement that cannot meet that definition.
Dawkins takes out that critical word, science, believing that non-falsifiable statements have no meaning at all. Collins comes closer to a more flexible definition of personal meaning, which says that the question of God's existence, having no scientific meaning, carries profound personal meaning.
In his new appointment, Collins is is likely to do just fine.
Explaining his hostility toward science:
What these environmentalists are actually saying is ‘we know more than God— we're bigger than God — God is just a fantasy — science is real.
Allen, who denies he is a scientist and says he has no college degree, is listed by Senator James Inhofe as a "Prominent Scientist" whose research is evidence against global warming.
Nuggets of internet gold:
- Nancy Hanks at The Hankster looks at President Obama's dropping popularity.
Have a safe weekend. Pray for someone in pain. And be careful out there.
I knew people, and I talked to people who were uninsured. But when you're in the executive offices, when you're getting prepared for a call with an analyst, in the financial medium, what you think about are the numbers. You don't think about individual people.
- - Wendell Potter, former insurance executive on why he left CIGNA
David Broder carries on a quixotic campaign to advance the cause of bipartisanship. He has significant support in his quest. But each day, more rational reasons desert his cause in the face of harsh reality.
His latest argument is that political independents tend to be loyal to neither political party and have no coherent ideology. "Because those independents are impressed when measures find prominent supporters in both parties," writes Broder, "it will continue to behoove Obama to woo Republican help -- no matter how tough the odds."
Senator Evan Bayh is one of those who sees merit in Broder's views. He challenges the patriotism and common sense of those who do not pursue Republicans with sufficient ardor. "We’re not ideologues, we’re pragmatists. We’re not strident partisans. We care about our country more than our party, and so we want to get things done." Fair enough.
My guess is those repelled by partisanship see it as scoring cheap political points with no policy goals to speak of. Opposing or supporting legislation only for the sake of party is pretty ugly, when important issues are at stake.
Good people are going under financially, losing a lifetime of work through no fault of their own. Mainstream health insurance carriers have adopted practices that approach fraud. 75% of those who go bankrupt because of crushing medical costs had insurance when they got sick. People are dying for lack of medical care, even when they thought they were insured.
Senator Bayh points out the difficulty in getting issues addressed, because of the unfortunate existence of the filibuster. “As you know, on most things, you’ve got to get the 60 votes in the Senate. And that’s going to be hard. And it’s going to take the centrists to get us there. And so we want to help make the changes we need." Good man, that Bayh, taking on this hard challenge.
Evan Bayh, as he seeks Republican votes we need to end filibusters, can certainly be counted on himself. Right? Well, no. He wants to evaluate each vote individually, and believes other "pragmatists" feel as he does. “Most senators aren’t sheep. They don’t just go blindly along without thinking about things, and I don’t think we want them to do that.” Lusting after coquettish Republican support seems to have become its own extreme reward.
As Obama took office, he invited Republicans to policy meetings, adopted compromises, and acted to address their concerns. Their response was consistently ... how to put this ... partisan. They voted as a bloc to oppose each and every proposal, often before knowing what they were opposing. High fives and back slaps were part of the celebration of their unity.
David Broder criticized President Obama for this failure at obtaining bipartisanship. Evan Bayh's opinion remained unexpressed.
There was once a time when, if an ethnic minority was rising up against an oppressive communist regime, you could count on National Review to side with the rabble-rousers fighting for political freedom, not the commies. But I guess that was pre-September 11. Now it’s apparently all about siding with whoever is killing Muslims.
The current state of contemporary conservative thought is remarkable. The talent for turning lemonade into lemons has reached a degree those of my generation usually associate with Democrats.
Twenty years ago, 1,432 middle aged folks from Finland took part in a study about aging. Now that they are two decades older, it turns out that married life is good for you. Really good. From Psychology Today:
Those who were widowed had 6 times the rate of cognitive impairment (all kinds) as those who were married. The divorced had 3 times the rate, and those who had always been single had twice the rate.
Preservation of marriage, the intrinsic value of that sacred institution, a lifetime commitment, all are validated. Folks on both sides of gay rights have a new argument.
There are those who feel that, if gays can wed, more straight married folks will feel compelled to take a plane to Argentina, or find fleeting joy in a men's room in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, or make inappropriate advances to prostitutes or teen congressional interns in Washington. Those people can now demonstrate the health value of the institution they are defending.
Others, like myself, believe gay marriage should not be allowed, but rather encouraged. We can point out that the benefits, emotional, spititual, and (now) health, should be for everyone: gay or straight.
The Playboy philosophy receives a body blow. That's news, right?
Well, it might have been. But our friends at Fox News managed to mangle it. Brian Kilmeade hosts Fox and Friends. He offered an alternative theory. In America, we do not enforce ethnic purity. We allow people to mate outside of their species by tolerating ethnic miscegenation. Salon has posted the video.
...we keep marrying other species and other ethnics...the Swedes have pure genes. Because they marry other Swedes .... Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society.
The GOP has been thumped by bi-weekly racist mishaps for a month or so, with occasional bumps before that. The party has become more conservative with each passing day. As this and other recent incidents illustrate, "conservative" is increasingly defined by its primordial, paleo, primeval, primitive, pre-William F. Buckley, unhousebroken meaning.
Explaining to GOP Senators that it is politically safe to block the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
We’re not like African Americans. We think just like everybody else.
- - Manny Miranda, Republican activist, Chair of the Third Branch Conference
Less than a month ago, a former South Carolina Republican official responded to news of an escaped gorilla by joking that it was a close relative of Michelle Obama. He apologized if he had offended anyone. Then a top aide to a Tennessee state Senator sent his own little joke by email: a series of little portraits of US Presidents. In President Obama's place was a black frame with two white eyes. She apologized for accidentally sending it to the wrong people, those who, she said, were not team players.
Now it is happening again.
The leading candidate for the chair of the national Young Republicans has some heavy duty backing from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. On Saturday, she held a public on line discussion with a friend. The friend posted a comment that has drawn criticism from young conservatives.
Piker: It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…
Piker: Obama Bin Lauden is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.
Shay: You tell em Eric! lol.
Shay is the candidate for the leadership position. She does have some experience. She is currently Vice-Chair of the group.
A couple of others weighed in. Cassie Wallender is a national committeewoman from Washington. She wondered what all the fuss was about. Then she came back with some research into the word "coon." She criticized racist Piker. "THIS IS NOT OKAY AND IT’S NOT FUNNY." The caps are hers. Cassie was supported by DC's local President of Young Republicans, Sean Conner. "Thanks Cassie for standing up."
Candidate Shay protested that she thought she was responding appreciatively to the first hilarious comment, the one about toilet paper. She had missed the racist rant, the one that had been staring at her from her screen for eight minutes before she answered so supportively. Well, it's possible, and we should give folks the benefit, right?
As it happens, facebook has a way to express disapproval. You can "de-friend" someone, cutting them off from communications. So, as you would expect, candidate Shay cut off the source of the offense:
The two folks who had objected.
This is still America… freedom of speech and thought is still allowed… for now any ways… and the last time i checked I was a good ole southern boy… and if yur ass is black don’t let the sun set on it in a southern town...
In his early days as President Kennedy's new Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara was frustrated by the insistence of each service on it's own unique design of tactical weapons. There was no design advantage in any of the variations over any of the others. The only practical effect was to increase the cost of defending the nation to no discernible purpose. The issue was turf. Nobody wanted to give up even a little of his backyard.
According to biographer Deborah Shapley, McNamara called a conference of all of his deputies. The agenda was singular. The Secretary hosted a fashion show. "The different services' belts and butcher's smocks and women's bloomers were modeled, as were jackets, caps, boots, and other things."
As each item was modeled, McNamara decided which variation would be standard for every branch of the military. As the procession advanced, the decisions came with accelerating speed, until McNamara thought the point had been adequately pressed. The clothing did not matter. He had chosen without wasting time and resources agonizing over insignificant differences.
He tripled the speed of defense responsiveness to potential attack. He questioned the targeting of Soviet military centers, and so increasing the incentive toward a first strike. He was the chief architect of MAD, mutually assured destruction. It was horrific, although it did seem to work.
He will be forever remembered for his role in another mad policy, that of Vietnam. The re-examination of defense strategy during the brief Kennedy era focused on Communist insurgencies. Small brushfire wars of "National Liberation" had been countered by conventional means. McNamara introduced tactics of winning hearts and minds, protecting friendly populations from a hidden enemy. It sounded good but, in practice, it became more brutal than the World War II vision it was intended to replace.
The unspoken assumption McNamara never got around to questioning might have saved America tens of thousands of lives, and Vietnam might have experienced hundreds of thousands fewer casualties. US actions were predicated on the idea that Communist strategy was initiated and controlled from a single small council in Moscow's Kremlin. During his tenure, the notion that Communism was not, and could not be, the monolith policymakers imagined was never introduced as far as we know.
McNamara eventually decided that the war was misapplied on the face of it. The evidence was simple. While Americans were fighting and dying on a terrible scale and Vietnamese lives were lost in even larger numbers, not a single Russian commissar even had his mustache singed. But even then, he stayed on for months, then years, administering a policy in which he had slowly lost faith. In the end, this was his sad legacy.
Requiescat in Pace, Robert Strange McNamara.