The Sarah Palin Freak Show

It was bound to happen. A Draft Sarah Palin web site has been established. This is hardly a necessary use of any one’s time, even if they really want Sarah to be the sacrificial lamb for the GOP in 2012. Sarah Palin is highly ambitious and she will work for the nomination regardless of what any draft committee does. I’ve even seen some claim their draft campaign was responsible for her getting the VP spot this year. Sarah Palin made her own effort for the nomination, with the help of right wing pundits. No draft efforts were responsible for the pick.

The web site is receiving a large amount of traffic, but it appears to be largely from curious readers who have little desire to actually see her be president. The Straw Poll section has a survey asking whether Sarah Palin or Barack Obama will win in 2012. At present Obama  97% of the 17018 who have voted predict Obama will win. This could represent realists who support Palin but don’t think she will win, but the true believers are unlikely to answer a poll this way.

Does the Lottery Prove Obama is The Anti-Christ?

I thought the question of whether Barack Obama is the anti-Christ was settled in August when the authors of the Left Behind series wrote that he is not. Newsweek keeps the issue alive with reports that some believe he is the anti-Christ because 666 was a winning lottery number in Illinois.

Of course these ridiculous issues are never really settled. There are bound to be wing nuts who think Obama is the anti-Christ, just as many conservatives are still claiming that his birth certificate is not valid, and are even using disbelief in their discredited smears as a sign of ignornace. The right wing echo chamber ensures that their myths will remain around forever.

Has Mitt Romney Committed Political Suicide?

Here is one title of an op-ed I was surprised to see: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt by Mitt Romney. If Mitt is going to run in the future, he will need to be a viable candidate in both the primary and general election in Michigan. The prospect of  possibly being able to compete in Michigan made many Republicans think he should have been McCain’s running mate this year (and he certainly would have helped more than Sarah Palin).

The question is whether Romney can ever win in Michigan with an op-ed title like this which can be quoted? I’m not saying he is wrong on this. He actually does make several good points (although I wonder if the auto companies would survive at all in bankruptcy considering today’s extremely tight credit market). I just wonder how this will be  received in Michigan. Perhaps if the Big Three rebounds (and is ever considered the Big Three again) it won’t matter in future election years, but this opinion will certainly not help him in Michigan.

Do We Let Hillary Clinton Muck Up Foreign Policy or Health Care?

With all the stories about Hillary Clinton being offered the position of Secretary of State, this appointment is far from certain. Clinton might reject the offer, and it is possible that Bill’s “associations” might still interfere.

While I still believe John Kerry would be a far better choice, an event today has caused me to now hope that Hillary Clinton is offered and accepts the position of Secretary of State. Karen Tumulty posts an announcement that Ted Kennedy has asked Clinton to head one of three task forces on health care. Doesn’t he remember what happened to the Democratic control of Congress the last time they let Hillary Clinton get involved with health care?

Yes, Obama should make Hillary the next Secretary of State, and then treat her advice like George Bush treated that from Colin Powell. Get Hillary out of health care and domestic policy once and for all. If Obama can to this, it would be a tremendous accomplishment for his new administration.

Conservatives Redefine “Ignorance” As Not Believing Their Dishonest Smears

Some Republicans are in such denial over why they lost that they cannot conceive that it was because they have the wrong policies, and that many voters realized that the Republicans based their campaign upon smears which are counter to fact. In the previous post I quoted a Republican who believed that Jews did not vote Republican because they were “dumb” and “delusional.”  Crooks and Liars and Nate Silver have found a similar case where conservatives are arguing that Obama voters were “ignorant.” Their measure of ignorance is that Obama voters do not believe that the debunked smears against Obama are fact.

It would be interesting to give a similar test to McCain voters. The Pew Research Center has already established the fact that viewers of Fox News are much less informed than viewers of The Daily Show. Besides likely having less knowledge about the issues, McCain voters would be more likely to believe the right wing smears which they asked about in the bogus poll they are promoting.

Besides the smears from this year’s campaign, they probably believe in many other discredited right wing myths. How many McCain voters still believe that there was WMD in Iraq, that Saddam was behind the 9/11 attacks, that intelligent design is a valid alternative to evolution, that the scientific consensus on climate change is incorrect, or agree with John McCain that the United States was founded as a Christian nation?

The difference between Obama and McCain voters, as well as left and right, is not so much over differences in opinion but in being aware of the facts. We have seen that many conservatives, including members of the Reagan administration, have endorsed Obama. Those who are aware of the facts behind the current issues are more likely to have voted for Obama, while those who believe the right wing talking points, and believe their alternate reality, were more likely to vote for McCain. McCain even had a creationist as his running mate.

It is encouraging that a solid majority of Americans, especially those outside of the south, were able to see through the right wing smears and voted based upon reality as opposed to right wing fantasy.

Republicans and Meshugeneh Jewish Voters

One reason that the Republicans are losing is that they don’t understand why people do not vote for them. Don Feder of has a post, which is being echoed by other conservatives, which writes off GOP attempts at attracting the Jewish vote as unsuccessful because “dumb Jews” don’t vote as he things we should. As with the GOP losses nationally this year, the repulsion towards the Republican Party felt by the vast majority of Jewish voters has nothing to do with being dumb as Feder claims. The problem is the Republican message.

Republicans repeat their scare tactics so many times that it appears they actually believe what they say. Feder begins (before getting to the point where he writes off Jews as being dumb):

Back in the 1980s, during the euphoria of the Reagan-era, Neo-cons like Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol predicted a seismic shift in Jewish voting patterns.

Once American Jews discovered that voting Republican was crucial for the survival of the Jewish state, they’d naturally align themselves with the party that actually believes in national security, we were assured.

Their argument, going back at least to the 1980’s, is that we must vote for Republicans or Israel is doomed. Some neoconservatives buy this argument, but the vast majority of Jewish voters do not. It appears that Israel has actually survived under Democrats as well as Republicans. Feder’s argument is a corollary of the argument that we must vote for Republicans to be safe from terrorism. Does Feder think that all those living in New York and Washington, D.C, the major targets of terrorism in recent years, are also voting Democratic because they are dumb?

Republicans risk remaining a minority party as long as they pursue a foreign policy which increases the risks of terrorist attacks, and which undermines our national security. Threats that Israel will be destroyed if Democrats are in office fall in the same category as other Republican threats that we will be killed by terrorists if Democrats are elected, that Democrats will take away people’s guns and bibles, or this year that Obama will redistribute the wealth. Republicans are not going to receive the support of Jewish voters, along with other educated voters, as long as they resort to such scare tactics.

Feder quotes a survey on the attitude of Jewish voters to mistakenly conclude that “a significant segment of the Jewish community either doesn’t give a damn about Israel or is delusional.” A more realistic explanation is that Jewish voters did not base their votes upon Israel as they didn’t buy for a second the arguments that Israel would be any safer with John McCain as president. If anything, Israel, along with the rest of the world, would be less safe with John McCain in office. This left Jewish voters free to vote against Republicans based upon the many other issues where they are wrong.

Feder then resorts to the same McCarthyist tactics we have seen from the Republicans (and some Democrats). The attacks based upon distortions of Obama’s relations to people such as Reverend Wright have long been debunked, and those who resorted to such repulsive tactics were justifiably the ones that lost support, but in the primaries and the general election. As long as the Republicans continue to practice McCarthyism of this type they will have considerable difficulty receiving the support of Jewish and other educated voters.

If we are considering associations, Obama’s associations with people whose political views he has denounced is irrelevant. The choice of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff provides far more meaningful evidence of the actual policies to be expected from an Obama administration.

Feder concludes:

The Republican Jewish Coalition should close its doors. Its budget, and anything else the GOP spends on wooing Jewish voters, should be equally divided between building more Orthodox Jewish day schools (thereby encouraging the Orthodox to have more children) and transporting evangelical Christians to the polls on Election Day.

That would do more to help Israel and to assure Jewish survival than the money wasted quadrennially on trying to bring a message of reason to the mega-meshugeneh.

He is half right. It is a waste of money for Republicans to seek the Jewish vote as long as they pursue extremist policies, and as long as they practice scare tactics and McCarthyism which alienate educated voters. Rather than writing that Jewish voters are dumb, delusional, or meshugeneh Republicans need to reassess both their policies and their tactics.

This is No Time to Compromise With Religious Right over Basic Rights

Some of the damage done by George Bush over the last eight years was done by executive order and can be reversed by executive orders once Barack Obama takes office. Barack Obama won the election with the highest electoral margin of any non-incumbent running since Eisenhower in 1952, and is entering office with approval ratings as high as George Bush’s record disapproval ratings. This is hardly a time when liberals should be willing to compromise on basic principles out of an exaggerated view of the importance of seeking common ground. In an op-ed last weekend, E. J. Dionne wrote that Obama should not issue pro-choice executive orders once taking office:

Once he assumes office, Obama might be tempted to forget that moment, issue the pro-choice executive orders that the abortion rights movement expects and move back to the sagging economy. But doing this would be both politically foolish and a breach of faith with the pro-life progressives who came to Obama’s defense during the campaign. They argued that Obama truly was committed to reducing the number of abortions. He shouldn’t turn them into liars.

Reversing many of George Bush’s executive orders does not contradict the idea of pursuing measures to reduce the number of abortions while still fully defending abortion rights. Frederick Clarkson showed the problem with Dionne’s approach to compromise with the religious right at Call to Action. He shows that the religious right is not planning compromise many also hope to impose further restrictions on contraception–which contradicts the goal of making abortion rare.

Clarkson uses the global gag rule as an example of one measure imposed by Bush which should be rescinded:

The Global Gag Rule was reinstated by President George W. Bush on his first day in office in January 2001. Officially termed the Mexico City Policy, these restrictions mandate that no U.S. family planning assistance can be provided to foreign NGOs [non governmental organizations] that use funding from any other source to: perform abortions in cases other than a threat to the woman’s life, rape or incest; provide counseling and referral for abortion; or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country.

Called the “gag” rule because it stifles free speech and public debate on abortion-related issues, the policy forces a cruel choice on foreign NGOs: accept U.S. assistance to provide essential health services – but with restrictions that may jeopardize the health of many patients – or reject the policy and lose vital U.S. funds, contraceptive supplies and technical assistance.

Our continuing research shows the gag rule is eroding family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries. There is no evidence that it has reduced the incidence of abortion globally. On the contrary, it impedes the very services that help women avoid unwanted pregnancy from the start.

The Bush years were characterized by considerable increases in the power of government to interfere with the rights of individuals both here and abroad. While there are areas where Obama should seek common ground, this is not one of these. Bush, along with the far right views now dominating the Republican Party, have been repudiated and Obama should proceed with reversing these policies without concern for seeking common ground with repressive views.