June 30, 2009

Palin's sense of self

From a profile in vanityfair.com:
"More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of “narcissistic personality disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—“a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy”—and thought it fit her perfectly. When Trig was born, Palin wrote an e-mail letter to friends and relatives, describing the belated news of her pregnancy and detailing Trig’s condition; she wrote the e-mail not in her own name but in God’s, and signed it “Trig’s Creator, Your Heavenly Father.”"
Wow. Just wow.

Reading the rest right now.

June 26, 2009

Hmm--unfortunate spelling strikes again

I have nothing against home-schoolers playing football too, though I am a bit weirded out by this coach who instructs a kid to “block as if you’re blocking for God.”" God needs a pulling guard?

But this picture is just unfortunate--especially if you are trying to stress academics. The Lord loves football too.

I love NPR, but their Fox reporting has to end

I heard part of this exchange the other day and found myself yelling at the radio. this exchange the other day:
"This morning Inskeep was at it again in a chat with Juan Williams. After Williams claimed 'what the government's doing may in fact drive up the cost of health care' and touted a CBO report alleging that the Dem/Obama plan would 'cause some people to lose their insurance' - Inskeep played a clip of the Sebelius interview in which she calls the potential for single-payer insurance a 'draconian scenario.' He then asks Williams, 'Has the White House found any effective way to prove a negative here; to say this is not going to become creeping socialism?'"
During the same interview, Williams also talked about the declining poll numbers for Obama, but seemed to completely ignore the recent NYT poll that shows pretty solid public support for the "public plan." In fact, many other sources are commenting on the fact that Republican leaders are completely out of touch with their Republican followers on issues such as healthcare. But you won't hear about that on Fox and when two of the NPR "commentators" also "comment" at Fox, then you get the picture. And Cokie Roberts? I used to like her, but wonder when she joined the O'Reilly club. I have not heard her give balanced analysis in years.

June 25, 2009

Why Mark Sanford matters

Leighton made the point in the comments that the GOP wants to make this about sex, rather than the real issue of how he abandoned his job and his state. And I think that cannot be ignored. He didn't tell his staff where he was. He didn't tell his LT Governor where he was. He might not be the head of the free world (though he clearly wanted to be before this), but he has obligations as the head of SC, and sometimes those executives have to make decisions immediately in the event of a natural disaster or some similar issue.

And that actually leads me to this point about "family values" and the faux Christianity that has permeated the Republican party. (Sanford's fellow SC Republican colleague Bob Inglis thinks this is an opportunity to ‘Lose Stinking Rot of Self-Righteousness’ ). And I think that would be a great step. But Leighton's comment brought to mind the real problem I see with the current GOP. Their governing principle is that "government is evil." What positive policies can you provide with that principle? Very few, I would suggest, and that has encouraged the GOP to make themselves popular with the Bible Belt.

But Sanford is a great example of that. Yes, he is a hypocrite about "values," but he is very representative of the destructive approach to government. He preferred to take no stimulus money even when he has schools in disrepair. And, as Leighton pointed out, he put his personal life above his responsibilities as Governor.

If the GOP wants my respect (not my vote, mind you, but at least my grudging respect) they have to articulate policy goals that are not inherently destructive. And they have to stop this mindless appeal to family values. Of course, Christian conservatives created this mess too, by making their personal faith another political card to be bought and sold and spun.

Unfortunately, as we saw last fall with the response to Palin, and the increasing radicalism and dilution of the GOP, I don't see any of that happening anytime soon. Neither the Christian right nor the GOP seem ready to learn that lesson.

21 Years!

Today is our 21st anniversary. As I joked on Facebook, our marriage is now old enough to drink. It is hard to believe that we have been together so long, and harder still to believe that she puts up with me after all these years.

So here is to SOF! Happy Anniversary, sweetie.

June 24, 2009

Another conservative for family values for other people

Turns out that SC governor Mark Sanford wasn't hiking the Appalachian trail, after all. And his wife wasn't lying when she said she didn't know where he was. He was in Argentina supposedly breaking up with his girlfriend.

Look, I am not an idiot. I know this kind of thing happens. It doesn't make it right, but it is part of the human experience. What bugs me the most is the hypocrisy of the right wing. When the Clinton or Edwards affair came to light, the right wing was absolutely merciless. Including, of course, good people like Mark Sanford. Newt Gingrich criticized Clinton's affair even as he had an affair. Promise Keeper John Ensign had an affair with his staffer's wife. All of these people love to play the family values card, but when those values are broken by Democrats, the knives come out and phrases like "if he can't be truthful to his wife, how can I trust him in office." When Republicans are caught doing it (heterosexually, of course), then Republicans call for tolerance and forgiveness.

I am all for that. Let this family manage this trauma. Those young boys and wife are not props for political gain. But maybe discover some compassion for others, and save the self-righteousness. Eh, Sally Kern?

June 23, 2009

On Iran and the conservative response

From Iranian filmmaker Kouross Esmaeli on John McCain's lack of credibility:
"KOUROSS ESMAELI: What is interesting about the criticisms that are coming from the right is that it’s been coming primarily from Senator John McCain. The Iranians know Senator John McCain as the man who sang “Bomb, bomb Iran” during the elections of last year. The man holds no credibility as far as supporting Iranians or seeming like he’s got the best interests of the Iranians at heart. And that, for Iranians and for this issue, that discredits him altogether and discredits this whole attack on President Obama.

President Obama’s stand, I think, has been the most sensible, and it’s amazing that the President of the United States is taking such a sensible stand. And that—everyone I’ve talked to in Iran has said the same thing, that we do not need any symbol of Western, especially American, interference in Iran’s internal politics."

And this from Joe Klein:
McCain, who spent the entire 2008 election making misleading statements about the nature of the Iranian government (I wonder if he still thinks Ahmadinejad is more powerful than the Supreme Leader), has been at the forefront of this. It is very unseemly. I have yet to hear what possible good it would do for the President of the United States to encourage the protesters, except to give the Iranian regime a better excuse for killing more of them. McCain's bleatings are either for domestic political consumption or self-satisfaction, a form of hip-shooting onanism that demonstrates why he would have been a foreign policy disaster had he been elected.
To put it as simply as possible, McCain--and his cohorts--are trying to score political points against the President in the midst of an international crisis. It is the sort of behavior that Republicans routinely call "unpatriotic" when Democrats are doing it. I would never question John McCain's patriotism, no matter how misguided his sense of the country's best interests sometimes seems. His behavior has nothing to do with love of country; it has everything to do with love of self.
Again, the crucial fact about the protesters is this: they may hate the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime--who wouldn't?--but that doesn't make them particular fans of the United States. I have yet to meet an Iranian who does not believe that the United States gave poison gas to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, gas which injured thousands upon thousands of Iranian men, who still live, incapacitated, in the shadows of that society. (Indeed, the attention Ahmadinejad has paid to the Iran-Iraq war veterans and their families is a major source of his extensive support among the Iranian working class.)
What a disaster McCain would have been on foreign policy, and what in the hell has happened to Republicans over the last 12-18 years? Where are the muted and calm voices? What is it with this blustering "grab a big stick and whack them hard or you don't love America" approach to dealing with others?

June 22, 2009

Monday morning

Hey. Remodel moving right along, and we are hoping to have tile installed by the end of the week. That means finalizing electrical and plumbing fixture purchases in the next few days.


Couple of news items caught my eye this morning. Last week, Greg (at the Parish) caught this item regarding Thomas Kinkade. Evidently, the self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" has some very shady business practices. Reading about Kinkade reminded me of a situation SOF and I ran into with some very religious business people. They merged their business philosophy with their Christian faith--which sounds fine, until you realized they weren't quite clear about those two different sides. Their response to others around them tended to vacillate between Christian ministry and hard-nosed business decision. Reminded me of the saying about baseball and management--"when you say it is a game, they say it is just business. When you say it is business, they say, "hey, it is just a game." In the case with our religious friends, it was "when you say it is a business, they call it a ministry, but when you need to get paid for that overtime, they call it a ministry."

Wasn't that they were bad people, in any way of thinking. But they weren't clear about their motives. I am more and more convinced that most Christians (especially of the evangelical type) over-simplify their religious faith and actually just assume that those "in relationship" with God will automatically learn about morality and ethics. A spiritual osmosis, as it were. But it does not work that way, and the most recent debate about torture is the best example. Ethics and morality, I am more and more convinced, require an open conversation and dialogue. These issues have to be introduce and framed, or most people will not even really consider them. Many I have seen understand the basics of "not stealing" and not "sleeping with the neighbor's wife." But they haven't really examined how their Christian faith might translate into business ethics, and they certainly haven't grappled with how their Christian faith might not be in line with American patriotism or capitalism.

Which, to switch topics ever so slightly, might explain how so many churches have adopted the advertising and marketing gimmicks to attract people to their churches. In this case, evidently parking some Nascar racing cars outside the church, which Greg makes funnier than I thought possible.


Lord knows Peggy Noonan annoys me quite frequently, as she did when she said of torture and the Bush people that somethings in life needed to remain "mysterious." But she is correct here when she points out the silly nature of the McCain/Republican criticism of Obama on Iran.


Speaking of Republicans, I had an interesting conversation (or at least began one) last week on the issue of tort reform and health care. I am coming around, at least in principle, to the idea that we need to do something to protect against some of these lawsuits as they are contributing to the rising cost of care. But I don't understand the Republican impulse to both rein in lawsuits, and also deregulate industry. How can you say to the American people that they shouldn't be able to sue the manufacturer of some item, but they shouldn't expect some reasoned oversight and regulation of that same item? I could understand one or the other, but both?

It, added to the mantra from the right about health care, make me very suspicious that Republicans (talking about those in Congress, not everyone in the country) care really only about corporate profits.


Ok. Enough of that. My contractor just lent me his Sawzall and I am going to use it on a stubborn overflow pipe in my garden pond. Heh.


June 19, 2009

SCOTUS rules that man has no right to post-conviction evidence

Even though the man offers to pay for the testing, and it could conclusively prove his guilt or innocence.

Perhaps someone can explain this to me, because as it is, it simply looks like conservative justices don't give a rat's ass if a state or the feds convict an innocent man.

Friday home improvement and political revulsion

The remodel is going well. Yesterday, our builder cut the access into the new rooms and hung the door. The Solatube guy installed two such devices--one in our new bathroom and one in our living room area.
From Progress

Today we install the big window, which will be really cool. Our builder will continue to finish the sheetrock taping and SOF and I will try to pick out some of the fixtures we need for electrical and plumbing.


On the political front, I continue to be completely frustrated with Republicans. No offense intended to those reading here, but I am increasingly convinced that most of Republican thought is predicated on myths. The myth of self-reliance and small government. And the myth of Republican wisdom on matters military and foreign policy. How else did we end up with torturers and Republican defenders of those torturers?

And as Larsion notes, Republican leadership is completely out of ideas, and has demonstrated that with their blustering on the Iranian issue:
"All of this comes back to the problem of Republican denial about why they lost power. They are supremely confident about their views on national security and foreign policy, and they cannot conceive that a majority of the country would reject them because of the policies they advocated and enacted. Worse still, they remain wedded to the hectoring, moralistic and aggressive approach of the last administration, in which sanctions and condemnation are the only “soft” tools they understand. They are so wedded to this approach that that they think this is not only the best kind of foreign policy, but that anything other than this is fecklessness and surrender."

On self-reliance and small government, the conservative desire to crush health care reform moves forward with the killing of the "public option." Republicans seem to be so wedded to their mythology of small government and their own autonomy, that they have no connection to those without health insurance or who have lost their homes and life savings to a catastrophic illness. I have spoken to those completely unwilling to push forward on reform if it means any cost to them--regardless of if that meant those 40 million might now be covered. After all, if no one is helping Republicans, then why should they help others? It isn't as if their faith asks them to do anything about it.

Oh wait.

Conservatives and Republicans have a strong history and legitimate philosophical backing. The leadership of this party are now miles from both and completely unaware how far they have drifted from any legitimate conservative thought. And with each day they demonstrate that they have devolved to a defender of corporate power, and an enabler of religious anti-intellectual and radical thought.

June 16, 2009

And yet another GOP racist joke

And another fake apology. Or in this case, the mistake was not sending out the email, it was sending it to the wrong people.

June 15, 2009

Quick blog post

As I am shopping online for a pedestal sink and getting ready for Wilco tonight!

Sarah Palin just refuses to go away. Her right, of course, but she seems to be lessening her appeal rather than the opposite. I didn't hear the Letterman joke about her daughter, but it did sound tasteless and out of bounds. I like him, but like all good comedians, he will push the boundaries. This one went over the line, and Palin is correct to respond. But when you see her willingness to use her own children and family for her own political future, her outrage seems just more of the same political grandstanding. Saw this quote about her from Ta-Nehisi Coates that sums her up for me:
"Sarah Palin is in tenacious possession of a small mind."
Not just this, but just about everything she speaks to. Raging against socialism as she brags about redistributing oil revenues to Alaskan residents. Or saying that the cause of climate change doesn't matter, or that we should have the "Under God" phrase in the Pledge because it was "good enough for the Founders." She has generally reflected a lack of curiosity about the world around her, and yet John McCain thought she was good enough to put that close to the Presidency.


Now, back to work on the house.

June 14, 2009

GOP activist says escaped gorilla was "ancestor" of Michelle Obama

Post racial? I guess not. And why do they "apologize" the same way?
We spoke with DePass over the phone Friday night. He said, "I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest."

Moron. Not apologizing for calling the First Lady a gorilla. Apologizing if any of us were offended by it.

June 12, 2009

More on the right wing's hate problem

Eugene Robinson on the right's overreaction to the Homeland Security memo:
"And it wasn't just the Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world who pretended to be outraged. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele accused the administration of trying 'to segment out Americans who dissent from this administration, to segment out conservatives in this country who have a different philosophy or view from this administration, and labeling them as terrorists.' Steele seems to have decided that telling the truth isn't nearly as important as the high-temperature exercise known as 'firing up the base.'

The thing is, though, that words have consequences.

There's profit for the pundits, and perhaps personal advantage for some politicians, in calling President Obama a 'socialist' and calling Judge Sonia Sotomayor a 'racist Latina' and claiming that Democrats want to 'take away your guns' -- in creating and nurturing a sense of grievance among those inclined to be aggrieved. But what about those who might not understand that it's all just political theater?"
The thing is, the idiot right doesn't care. And the idiot right includes Hannity and Limbaugh, and the Coulter's of the world. They don't care. Add Sarah Palin to this list. Remember how she seemed to get a rush from pushing those crowds to a frenzy? Even McCain seemed troubled when he ran into it on the campaign, but Palin never seems to make that connection. I used to dislike her intensely, but assumed she was at least smart and capable. Her most recent interviews and posturing suggests that she is every bit as dumb and as unconscionable as Hannity and Limbaugh.

No, that right doesn't care. As I have been saying for years on this blog, it is time for the grownup Republicans and grownup conservatives to stand up against these people and kick them to the curb. Denounce Hannity and Limbaugh and Glen Beck for the hatred they spew. Do it, and reclaim the legitimate place on the stage where we debate legitimate arguments about Obama's health care proposals and government philosophy.

June 11, 2009

The right's problem

Is that the mainstream Republican party uses very similar language with the far extreme right--the people who are now putting their violent talk into action. Here is a good piece by Joan Walsh on this topic. (H/t Anglican).

More from Shepard Smith on crazies emailing him at Fox

And interesting what he doesn't say--that his colleagues at Fox (Hannity and O'Reilly) are part of this right wing echo chamber. And that even Chris Wallace continues the "Obama as socialist" meme.

June 10, 2009

Wow, that Homeland Security Report was ridiculous, wasn't it?

Or maybe it wasn't. Today, a crazed right winger famous in the white supremacy world opened fire in the Holocaust museum. Sure glad that there isn't a real problem of right wing violence in this country--just less than a week or so (I have lost track) of George Tiller's murder in Kansas. Before that, we had multiple shootings by people waving around conservative propaganda. Yeah, I know, these individual people are responsible for their crimes, but the entire right wing establishment has contributed to this. Right wingers comparing abortion to the Holocaust, to say nothing of the wingnuts from Limbaugh to O'Reilly who daily stoke the flames of anti-other fear. God knows I hate to link to anything with Fox News, but here is Shep Smith showing himself yet again as the only sane person over there.


And apropos of, well, I guess, idiot conservatism, this from Palin land. She first brags about her state's ability to spread oil revenues to the individual residents, and then complains about Obama leading us toward socialism. Is she just really, really dumb? Or is this something else?

Terrorism works--at least on abortion clinics

God knows that I am not happy with abortion, but ultimately, I believe that decision has to be made by a woman in control of her own body. And whatever we think of it, you should not be able to shut down a clinic by murdering the doctor. Bitch Ph.D. has a very nice post on this subject, and for those interested, Sullivan has been running a lot of reader stories on every side of the abortion debate. I understand that Bill O'Reilly has been comparing this murder to the murder of the Army recruiter--a truly tragic and awful event as well. But as many have noted, the main difference is that the man who murdered Dr. Tiller is getting encouraging notes from around the country cheering his terrorism.

June 7, 2009

Suspect in abortion doctor death warns of violence - washingtonpost.com

Shouldn't we be waterboarding him to find out what else he knows? Or is that just reserved for non-white extremists?

Sunday notes

Perhaps, one of the reasons that the Republicans are in trouble can be found here.


Evidently, Sarah Palin is out there again railing against taxes and government control. Here is a good indicator of the reality of Alaska, but it also applies to a lot of other "red" states who love to complain about high taxes but actually take in more federal dollars then they contribute.


Here is a thought. I think one of the toughest jobs in Washington has to be as communications secretary for Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe. I called Senator Inhofe's Washington office the other day as well, and was told by the nice young woman who answered the phone that the Senator had been misquoted. Evidently, he was not misquoted. He still thinks that it is not clear which side our American President prefers. You know, whether Obama sides with the terrorists or the American troops.

Sigh. What an idiot.


I am not sure how to describe this phenomenon, but it seems to me that a lot of American woes go directly to them being convinced of the exact opposite. So convinced of their own moral superiority, they cannot imagine enacting the very same torture policy of some third world dictator. Or, so convinced of their democratic superiority, it never dawns on them that their own elections might need monitoring. Ezra Klein notes a problem of stagnant wages and increasing wages. In my conversations with people, most don't seem to think that wages have stagnated, and focus only on federal income taxes as the source of their woes, even as the cost of government is simply shifted into other areas. Anyway, as Klein notes, that disconnect may be the reason we are still moving slow on health care reform:
"That slumping line isn't normally called wages-minus-health-premiums. It's called wages. And most workers think stagnant wages mean their employer is paying them less. They don't know that the main reason for stagnant wages is that their wage increases are going to pay for their health insurance premiums. If they did -- if they realized that compensation is pretty much a zero-sum endeavor and their employers don't so much buy them health insurance as garnish their wages to pay for their health insurance -- you'd probably see a lot more general anger at rising health care costs."

June 5, 2009

Wiley Drake is back on the crazy

I started to write this post and the line "back on the crazy" came up as a former post title, so I went with it. But "crazy" kind of implies eccentric or kooky. This guy is much worse than that, as he shows when he says that he is praying for the President to die. Yep, another of his imprecatory prayers. At times, I wonder if God regrets that so many of his followers seem stuck in the OT vengeful God, and seem to have missed the entire message of Jesus. Not that I know exactly what that entire message is, but I am pretty sure that it isn't Wiley Drake.

Oh, and if that isn't bad enough, Drake says that he thinks that the Obama camp had Tiller killed to undermine the pro-life movement. Oh sure, he is glad the doctor is dead and had prayed for him to die too, but he thinks that the admin did it to further the pro-choice agenda.

As BB said when he sent this to me, "WTF?"

I have to say that I hate the entire Cheney family

Liz Cheney Restates Iraq-9/11 Link Her Father Disavowed, Chides Mitchell For Disagreeing

June 3, 2009

Abortion wars

The murder of George Tiller has sparked a new debate about the abortion issue. Perhaps timely, I don't know. Fred at slacktivist has a great post on this which I recommend as a must read. It includes the video of Frank Schaeffer on the Rachel Maddow show talking about the fact that words have consequences, and the words he and others used in the 70s and 80s are partly responsible for this kind of violence.

As we discussed in the comments, this is not a first amendment issue. Randall Terry has the right to gloat over the death of this doctor, just as we have the right to be appalled and to find him contemptible. But Shaeffer and slacktivist make the same point--that once you have elevated the rhetoric on abortion to compare it to the Nazi Holocaust, and those who support it as the equivalent to Hitler, you know full well that some nutjob is going to take that to an extreme. You have taken the subtlety out of it. There is no more nuance or gray area--abortion becomes pure evil and you stand for pure good.

I didn't realize that our slacktivist writer came from that background (though his running series on the Left Behind books should have tipped me). I knew that Frank Schaeffer's late father was the Dr. Francis Shaeffer who helped radicalize the right, and even justified violence in response to Roe. Perhaps this post caught me at a tired moment this week, but I was reminded of my own small role in the religious right. Not really on the abortion debate--for whatever reason, that issue was not front and center in the churches of my youth--but in the presentation of absolute certainty. I just remember asserting absolute certainty on issues like homosexuality or abortion. It is interesting to read these other authors who came out of that kind of experience. At some point, that certainty became less understandable to me. For Fred, it was the realization that those mouthing the language of the holocaust either didn't mean any of it, or all of it. For me, it was driving through the poorest parts of Houston, and reading about failed attempts to provide decent pre and post natal care to the poor. No protestors. No religious right up in arms about the infant mortality rate of a developing nation. That was it for me.

I hope we can find someway to talk to each other. We are ill served by the public face of religion these days, and even less well served by the way the religious right has radicalized one of our two parties. We all want fewer unwanted children. We would hope for none. We all want that. Comparing abortion to the Holocaust isn't helping anyone except Randall Terry and the crazies.

June 1, 2009

Back. Bleary-eyed, and avoiding grading, but back

Week three of intersession starts today. On the remodel, the framing will be inspected this week, and we might do heat and air, electrical, and even start insulation and dry wall. Or not. Who the hell knows?


There was a lot in the news last week. I hope to catch up on some of it. Some was stupid--like some conservatives complaining about how Sonia Sotomayor pronounced her name, or that she actually likes Puerto Rican food. In fact, the Sotomayor nomination appears to be a real problem for the Republicans. They cannot figure out how to respond, and we even have Senator Cornyn telling Newt, et al., that calling Sotomayor a racist is inappropriate. Newt, of course, responded with more claims that Sotmayor is a racist.

But this morning, I was reminded of the news of an abortion doctor, shot down in church. Shot as he was serving as an usher in church. They now have a suspect in custody, but one of the reasons we have this kind of domestic terrorism is the rhetoric of abortion as murder.

Shot in church.