The Right Wing Lunacy Isn’t New

We seem to be living in crazy times. A substantial number of  conservatives have a number of delusions, including that that Barack Obama is a Muslim and not a natural born American citizen, believe in creationism, still think there was WMD in Iraq at the onset of the war, and think that the scientific consensus on climate change is part of a conspiracy to destroy industrialized society. The health care debate has added a number of new delusions as conservatives listen to the wild claims of “death panels” from a crazy lady in Alaska posting on Facebook. Right wingers see additional conspiracies ranging from a plot to destroy private health insurance and have government take over health care to the Obama administration collecting email for the purpose of creating an enemies list.

Rick Perlstein writes that there is nothing new in the crazies coming out to protest health care reform. He notes that, “If you don’t understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can’t understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.” He provided some examples:

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as “20 years of treason” and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House “found in the files a blueprint for socializing America.”

When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his proposals to anchor America’s nuclear defense in intercontinental ballistic missiles — instead of long-range bombers — and form closer ties with Eastern Bloc outliers such as Yugoslavia were taken as evidence that the young president was secretly disarming the United States. Thousands of delegates from 90 cities packed a National Indignation Convention in Dallas, a 1961 version of today’s tea parties; a keynote speaker turned to the master of ceremonies after his introduction and remarked as the audience roared: “Tom Anderson here has turned moderate! All he wants to do is impeach [Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl] Warren. I’m for hanging him!”

Before the “black helicopters” of the 1990s, there were right-wingers claiming access to secret documents from the 1920s proving that the entire concept of a “civil rights movement” had been hatched in the Soviet Union; when the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act was introduced, one frequently read in the South that it would “enslave” whites. And back before there were Bolsheviks to blame, paranoids didn’t lack for subversives — anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists even had their own powerful political party in the 1840s and ’50s.

The instigation is always the familiar litany: expansion of the commonweal to empower new communities, accommodation to internationalism, the heightened influence of cosmopolitans and the persecution complex of conservatives who can’t stand losing an argument. My personal favorite? The federal government expanded mental health services in the Kennedy era, and one bill provided for a new facility in Alaska. One of the most widely listened-to right-wing radio programs in the country, hosted by a former FBI agent, had millions of Americans believing it was being built to intern political dissidents, just like in the Soviet Union.

Perlstein notes that while there have always been right wing nuts there is a difference in how the media responds to them:

It used to be different. You never heard the late Walter Cronkite taking time on the evening news to “debunk” claims that a proposed mental health clinic in Alaska is actually a dumping ground for right-wing critics of the president’s program, or giving the people who made those claims time to explain themselves on the air. The media didn’t adjudicate the ever-present underbrush of American paranoia as a set of “conservative claims” to weigh, horse-race-style, against liberal claims. Back then, a more confident media unequivocally labeled the civic outrage represented by such discourse as “extremist” — out of bounds.

The tree of crazy is an ever-present aspect of America’s flora. Only now, it’s being watered by misguided he-said-she-said reporting and taking over the forest. Latest word is that the enlightened and mild provision in the draft legislation to help elderly people who want living wills — the one hysterics turned into the “death panel” canard — is losing favor, according to the Wall Street Journal, because of “complaints over the provision.”

Good thing our leaders weren’t so cowardly in 1964, or we would never have passed a civil rights bill — because of complaints over the provisions in it that would enslave whites.

Edward Luce makes a similar argument in the Financial Times:

More than a generation ago, the great American historian, Richard Hofstadter, wrote the classic The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Having watched many public servants and colleagues in academia hounded out of their jobs on the flimsiest of pretexts during the “red scare” of the McCarthy era in the 1950s, Hofstadter identified what he saw as a peculiarly American pathology of proneness to conspiracy theory.

America, he pointed out, was a relatively rootless society, which meant that anyone suffering from economic or status anxiety, particularly its struggling white middle classes, was particularly susceptible to the politics of scapegoating. Although also exhibited on the American left – think of the indefatigable Noam Chomsky, who sees a conspiracy under every rock, or Ralph Nader, the former consumer activist who believes corporations run everything – Hofstadter saw the paranoid style mostly as a right-wing phenomenon.

His theory holds up very well in 2009. Anyone who visits a few of this month’s rowdy town hall meetings can grasp that opposition to Mr Obama’s healthcare proposals is a lightning rod to a far larger world view, which seeks to protect American values and the US constitution from an alien takeover.

The word “alien” is appropriate. A poll last week found that only 42 per cent of Republicans believe Mr Obama was born in America. “Birthers”, or those who believe the election of the president is a conspiracy that dates back at least to Hawaii in 1961, the place and time of Mr Obama’s birth, made up a slim majority of respondents in the south. Foreign-born candidates are ineligible for the presidency under the constitution…

No amount of contrary evidence will puncture the view that Mr Obama plans to establish “death panels” that will decide which grannies get to live or die. Nor will reason counter the view that countries such as Canada and the UK push their weakest to the back of the queue. “Who will suffer the most when they ration care?” asked Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska on Thursday. “The sick, the elderly and the disabled, of course.”

Michael Moore is No Rush Limbaugh

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With ads such as the above being distributed by Americans United For Change some have looked to see if their is a situation for the Democrats analogous to Rush Limbaugh’s toxic influence on the GOP. Andrew Malcolm asks,  So if Rush runs the GOP, does Michael Moore head the Dems?

There are certainly some similarities. Both are primarily showmen, among other obvious shared traits. Still the question to this question is clearly no.

Michael Moore isn’t necessarily a Democrat. He has referred to Bill Clinton as “the best Republican president we’ve had since Abraham Lincoln.” In 2000 he backed Ralph Nader over both Al Gore and George Bush. Sure, in 2004 Moore begged Nader not to run against John Kerry. Does that make him a Democrat, or just someone who learned from his mistake?

Assuming for the sake of discussion (as there is no good way to really measure this) that Moore and Limbaugh are both equally far from center, there is a major difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. The extremists on the right dominate the GOP while the Democratic Party is far more centrist. For example, look at one of the top issues of the day which Michael Moore has expressed his views upon–health care reform. Moore backs a government run system. In contrast most Democrats, despite the phony cries from the right of “socialized medicine,” are pushing for a far more conservative plan which would preserve both private insurance companies and private practice. A plan as far left as Moore’s isn’t even on the table.

It is debatable whether Rush Limbaugh actually runs the  GOP, but there sure are signs of his influence over it. Start with the fact that the debate over whether Limbaugh runs the party comes primarily from the guy who, on paper at least, really does run it. The argument that Limbaugh runs the GOP is even stronger if you accept Joe Gandelman’s assessment that Limbaugh won in his dispute with Michael Steele.

Limbaugh’s dominance is also seen in the manner in which many party leaders backed him up when Limbaugh made a statement that any honorable political leader would reject.  Back in 1960  conservative John Wayne showed how it should be done: “I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.” Now, during the worst economic downturn since the great depression, Rush Limbaugh expresses hope that Obama will fail. To him it is better that people live in misery than to have liberal economic principles show themselves to be successful.

While any reasonable person would be expected to reject Limbaugh’s statement, many prominent Republicans are backing Limbaugh. I’ve previously given Rick Santorum as an example, but many more have expressed similar beliefs. Bobby Jindal was unwilling to repudiate this statement and even said, “ I think Rush is a great leader for conservatives. I think he articulates what a lot of people are concerned about.”

This does not mean that every conservative wants to grant a leadership role to Rush Limbaugh. I’ve recently quoted both  John Derbyshire and Rob Dreher criticizing Limbaugh. Still, having been invited to be keynote speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference is probably a stronger indicator of where most conservative Republicans stand on Limbaugh.

Al Qaeda Didn’t Get Republican Memo That Obama Is A Muslim and Terrorist

Despite the claims of Barack Obama being a Muslim and palling around with terrorists, al Qaeda is not very happy with his victory. After having had an American president who has done exactly what they wanted for the past seven years in response to the 9/11 attack, they saw the candidate they preferred, John McCain, go down to defeat. Instead of having a president ignorant enough to play into their hands at every step, they must face a president who actually understands what is going on in the world. They have now released a message responding to Obama’s election:

Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—”house negroes.”

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house negroes.”

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

What is quite amazing about this is that, while al Qaeda prefers the foreign policy of George Bush and John McCain, as John Cole noted in linking back to this previous post, al Qaeda is adopting the racial attitudes of Ralph Nader.

The report concludes with an item which demonstrates my point from this post written yesterday:

But Obama’s professions of support for Israel during the election campaign “confirmed to the Ummah (Islamic world) that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims,” al-Zawahri said.

While some Republicans are deluded to think they can con Jewish voters into voting Republican with their claims that Obama would not support Israel, Jewish voters overwhelmingly rejected this claim and backed Obama. While the Republican view on Obama’s support for Israel hardly matters, it is significant that groups such as al Qaeda do understand that Obama will support Israel, which might act as a deterrence. Should al Qaeda attack, Obama will retaliate against them directly, and not attack the wrong country as George Bush did.

Third Party Presidential Candidate Results

While thrid party candidates have won some local offices, they did not have a meaningful effect on the presidential race. Straight Talk has summarized the results of the major third party candidates:

In 2004, Independent Candidate, Ralph Nader earned .38% of the total vote with 463,655 votes and in 2008 so far, Ralph Nader has earned 656,670 votes which equals to.53% of the total vote thus far.

In 2004, Libertarian Party Candidate, Michael Badnarik earned .32% of the total vote with 397,265 votes and in 2008 so far, Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr earned 488,873 votes which equals to .40% of the total vote thus far

In 2004, Constitution Party candidate, Michael Peroutka earned .12% of the total vote with 143,630 votes and in 2008 so far, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin earned 174,634 votes which equals to .14% of the total vote thus far.

In 2004, Green Party candidate David Cobb earned .10% of the total vote with 119,859 votes and in 2008 so far, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney earned 142,785 votes which equals to roughly .12% of the total vote thus far.

These results are with 98 percent of the vote in so the popular vote totals might get a little higher for some but the percentages are unlikely to change significantly. Overall the third party candidates only received about one percent of the vote. As might be expected with a higher turn out, all four received more votes than their party four years go. They also have increased their percentage of the vote, but not by enough to be meaningful.

Many Libertarians were disappointed that the Libertarian Party nominated what they considered a conservative Republican ticket with Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. Many voted for the nomination of Barr believing that, being better known, he might be able to receive a significantly higher vote total than previous nominees. It didn’t turn out this way as seen by a review of all the results for all of the Libertarian Party presidential candidates:

LIBERTARIAN PARTY

2008 (Barr) 0.4% (45 states)
2004 (Badnarik) 0.3% (48 states plus DC)
2000 (Browne) 0.4% (49 states plus DC, plus Smith in Arizona)
1996 (Browne) 0.5% (50 states plus DC)
1992 (Marrou) 0.3% (50 states plus DC)
1988 (Paul) 0.5% (46 states plus DC)
1984 (Bergland) 0.3% (39 states)
1980 (Clark) 1.1% (50 states plus DC)
1976 (MacBride) 0.2% (32 states)
1972 (Hospers) statistically insignificant (2 states)

Ralph Nader Ends Campaign in Disgrace, Calling Obama an Uncle Tom

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Ralph Nader, who helped give us George Bush in 2000, has ended his latest unsuccessful campaign in disgrace, referring to Barack Obama as an Uncle Tom. Even Fox News is outraged by his attack on Obama as seen in the video above. Hopefully this is the last we hear of Nader.

Update: There has been considerable reaction to Nader’s comment now that the video has gone viral. Check out some of the blogs with track backs here in the comments. Joe Gandelman of The Moderate Voice has provided some of the links below, preceded by his own view:

Yes, Ralph Nader ran again and place bets now that he’ll run in 2012 or beyond, even if he has to be wheeled from appearance to appearance. This year he received a sliver of the kind of support he got at the ballot box, which in itself would have been enough to decrease his shrinking legacy. But on election night 2008 he seemed determined to reduce his legacy even more.

On election night — as even GOP strategist Karl Rove expressed awe at the historical moment and Obama’s achievement — Nader framed Obama’s choice in a way that raised eyebrows. Watch the video below showing Ralph Nader with Fox News’ Shepard Smith, one of the network’s most unpredictable and watchable anchors. Watch Smith frame Nader’s role in 2000 and this year in a way that many voters now feel — and watch his response to Nader’s comment about Obama.

PERSONAL NOTE: Watching Ralph Nader now is very painful for many of us who grew up in the 1960s. I can remember driving from my parent’s house in Woodbridge, CT back to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York in a brutal snowstorm, listening to a newscast detail the latest battle of a young crusading Connecticut lawyer named Ralph Nader. Many baby boomers wanted to be just like him. When Nader ran for President in 2000 — like him or not — it was all about content. Since then, Nader seems to be all about someone who craves attention.

His legacy was already diminished by election day. His comments here reduce it even more. And, yet, he doesn’t seem to realize the impact of the way he framed his question, and the inappropriateness of his language.

From Tim Goodman at The San Francisco Chronicle:

As if Ralph Nader wasn’t a big enough tool already, he went on Fox News on election night – the very night Barack Obama broke the racial barrier on the presidency – and uttered the words “Uncle Tom.” Not only that, after being called out on the words (which he initially said in a radio interview) by Fox News anchor Shepard Smith – and given a point-blank chance to apologize and take them back, Nader said he wouldn’t. It’s a stunning bit of television and a lot of people missed it. (No doubt a good portion of the Bay Area, not exactly a bastion of Fox News watchers, did). Up until he spewed out the words, the biggest shocker in this scenario was A) That anybody still cared enough to talk to a washed-up political hack like Nader and B) That Nader could actually hear Smith call him on the offensive language. Nader rarely stops his mouth moving – he’s always so caught up in his monotonous blather and meritless belief that he’s making points people want to listen to.

Give Shep Smith a lot of credit here. “Really? Ralph Nader – what was that?” And then he just fried Nader. (I love the look on his face when Nader calls him a bully – it’s that same look people should be giving Nader right about now for completely not getting it.)

So, let’s go to the big board here for the tally: Nader helps the Democrats lose the election in 2000 and then slanders the Democratic winner in 2008? Well played, Ralph. At least this moment brings you (temporarily) back out of obscurity and irrelevance.

Tim Molloy at TV Guide writes:

Dubious congratulations are in order: Ralph Nader became the first public figure to make an inflammatory public remark about our first African-American president, telling a Fox News affiliate that Barack Obama has to choose between being “Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations.”

Grilled by Fox’s Shepard Smith early Wednesday morning, after the election was decided, Nader declined to back down from the remark, which he made in an earlier interview on Election Day.

“Really,” Smith said after playing a clip of Nader’s remarks. “Ralph Nader, what was that?”

Nader continued to press his point – Obama is too beholden to corporate interests – without acknowledging that many find the term Uncle Tom offensive. (Taken from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the 1852 anti-slavery novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, the term is used to accuse a black person of behaving subserviently.)

Smith soon cut Nader off: “You had a number of supporters out there, you were running a percentage, this year you were reduced to irrelevant and I just wonder if that’s what you want your legacy to be: the man who on the night that the first African-American president in the history of this nation was elected, you ask if he’s going to be Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom. Stunning.”

Nader’s answer: “Yeah, of course, he’s turned his back on a 100 million poor people in this country, African-Americans and Latinos and poor whites. And we’re gonna hold him to a higher standard.”

Later in the interview, Nader told Smith: “Look, I don’t like bullies like you. I can’t see you. You can pull the plug on me, I’m looking in a dark camera.”

Nader later used the word “toady” the same way he had previously used the phrase “Uncle Tom,” but said he had no regrets about the latter phrase.

Nader, a consumer advocate, has run in every election since 1996 but had a significant impact only in the 2000 race, in which many Democrats blame him for siphoning off enough votes from Al Gore in Florida to allow George Bush to win the election.

David Weigel of Reason wrote:

It’s going to take a while for Americans and pundits (often the same thing!) to adjust to a black president. There are cliches and turns of phrase and narratives that simply won’t sound right if applied to a black man. Ralph Nader’s getting a head start on this.

His choice, basically, is whether he’s going to be Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations.

During the campaign, Nader suggested that Obama was “acting white” by not barnstorming the country and talking about poverty or something. But the irony is that Nader’s one of the sorriest practitioners of ethnic politics out there. “Sorry” in the sense that it never works. He’s run for president four times and each time chosen a hilariously unqualified ethnic minority running mate: Winona LaDuke (American Indian), LaDuke again, Peter Camejo (Hispanic) and Matt Gonzalez (Hispanic).

Nader’s long nightmare is over, in a sense, because I don’t think liberals can stay mad at him when they’ve won the presidency in a rout and he couldn’t stop them. But his race obsession looks even worse compared to Bob Barr. “It just illustrates the tremendous demographic changes, generational changes in this country,” Barr told me last night, discussing Obama’s win. “This really is a very different country, in some ways much better country, than it was several years ago.”

Wonkette writes:

Ugh. NADER. He’s been such a dick the last few days. His communications guy has been sending out all of these sarcastic (”pathetic”) e-mails; for example, there was one about how Nader won a mock election in some hippie high school and then decided that they were all more ethical than Obama. And then there was that snippy soundbite press conference. And the shit-flavored hummus. And now this: calling Obama an “Uncle Tom” after his victory and thereby forcing us to side with SHEP F*#$@$ SMITH in the above clip.

It’s not the first time Nader’s played this cheap identity shit, either. He really does have some psychological attention-craving disorder, the end. The man has saved countless lives over the decades by advocating for safer automobiles, cleaner air, water, and food, worker safety regulations, and most importantly the election of George W. Bush. Now he’s just some crazy racist losing an argument to a relatively mild-mannered Fox News anchor.

Andrew Sullivan wrote:

Can you believe that Ralph Nader used the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe Obama last night? Shep Smith couldn’t. And he showed again he’s the only reason to still watch and respect Fox News.

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

Owned–By Shep Smith, no less: This is, like, a mixture of tragedy and humor. I laughed, and then I was embarrassed for Nader. Tragicomic, I guess. Sorry, I’m not making thoughts…so. .good. Anyway, what’s truly tragicomic is that I can’t not blog. I love the O.C. shout-out at the end… Time’s Up indeed.

Steve Benen of Washington Monthly’s Political Animal blog sums it up succinctly (kindly linking back here):

Ralph Nader is a disgrace.

Further Advances in The Red States and the Ron Paul Effect

Chuck Todd was just on NBC News explaining how Barack Obama has increased the playing field to the degree that he could still pick up 270 electoral votes even if he were to lose Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. Of course many polls show Obama leading in all three, including by double digits in Pennsylvania. Obama even has a chance in states where he would previously have been considered a long shot such as Montana, Indiana, and Georgia.

Reason has some interesting numbers from this poll from Montana State University-Billings:

Barack Obama  44.4%
John McCain  40.2%
Ron Paul  4.2%
Ralph Nader  .7%
Bob Barr  1%
Undecided  9.5%

Obama leads by exactly the same margin of vote as is received by Ron Paul. Of course if the vote were to turn out this way we could not necessarily say that it was votes for Ron Paul which gave the state to Obama over McCain. Some people voting for Paul are motivated by opposition to the war and might vote for Obama or stay home if Paul was not on the ballot, and some might vote for Barr.

I recently noted that if black turn out is high enough Obama can win in Georgia. While most polls still show McCain winning in George, an Insider Advantage poll today shows Obama leading by one point.

There have already been a handful of polls showing Obama leading in Indiana. SurveyUSA adds another today with Obama leading 49% to 45%. Yesterday’s Big Ten poll showed an even greater lead.

Ralph Nader Continues To Help Republicans

Ralph Nader, the man who helped give us George Bush in 2000, continues his efforts to help Republicans. He is now attacking Barack Obama, not John McCain:

Ralph Nader’s campaign sent an e-mail to supporters Friday that paints Obama as too close to big business and special interests. “Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people. Period. Full stop. End of story,” writes the Nader campaign. “Contrast that with Senator Obama.”

The message highlights what it says are changes in the Illinois senator’s positions on public spending limits, NAFTA and economic populism, and says that Obama has surrounded himself with “veterans of the military industrial complex status quo.” It does not mention his Republican counterpart, John McCain.

Ralph Nader’s political strategy has long appeared to be directed more at hurting Democrats such as Al Gore and John Kerry. For example, he has concentrated on swing states where he could tilt the election to the Republicans, as he did in Florida in 2000.

Scandals Great For Comics and Blog Traffic

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Scandals and resignations have dominated the news this week. The most prominent was today’s resignation of Eliot Spitzer for having answered the the ad above from the Emperor’s Club and appreciating Kristin’s “refinements.” In addition, Geraldine Ferraro resigned from the Finance Committee of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for her recent comments on Barack Obama and Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island was arrested for possession of marijuana. I always thought that Ginger was the bad girl.

Spitzer’s sex scandal has been great for late night comics and also great for blog traffic. Jon Swift described What Eliot Spitzer Should Say To Save His Career. The top search leading people to the site the last couple of days has been for “Spitzer Kristin.” Even though this pulled up a picture of Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars and Heroes) in a Google image search, a lot of people still clicked through to the site after seeing the thumbnail of Kristen Bell!

For the benefit of those looking for the Kristen involved in the Spitzer sex scandal, The New York Times has tracked her down and here’s her picture. You decide if it is worth spending over $4000 on her and giving up a promising political career. This just shows how much smarter Bill Clinton was. He got it for free, and remained in office.

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“Kristen” is actually Ashley Youmans, now known as Ashley Alexandra Dupré, and you can find out more about her at her MySpace page.

Gawker has some clips from Monday night’s jokes by David Letterman and Jay Leno. A clip from The Colbert Report is here. On Monday David Letterman presented the Top Ten Eliot Spitzer Excuses. Number one was ” I thought Bill Clinton legalized this years ago.” On Tuesday he presented the Top Ten Messages Left on Eliot Spitzer’s Answering Machine. Here’s some of the messages:

It’s Barack Obama. Remember our conversation about being my running mate? Nevermind.

Ralph Nader here, glad to hear I’m not the only politician who has to pay for it.

This is John McCain, if it makes you feel better, I once got caught having sex with Lincoln’s wife.

This is Senator Larry Craig. Do you ever go through the Minneapolis airport?

Paris Hilton here. I would have done it for free.

It’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks, I’m no longer America’s creepiest governor.

Here’s a selection from some of the jokes told the last couple of days:

“You know, I’m a half-full kind of guy. I always try to put a positive spin on stuff. Sure, it’s a horrible story. On the other hand, you look at it this way, he was supporting New York’s number one industry.” –David Letterman

“He went through this call girl thing. … He was known as a regular customer. He was known as Client 9. It looks now like Client 9 will soon be looking for wife number 2.” –David Letterman

“Here’s one that is kind of cute. He would get the hookers, the call girls, the prostitutes, the whores, and he would run them down, put them on the train, Amtrak. Like they need more publicity. And he’d run them down to Washington, DC, and they’d check into a beautiful suite and have the rendezvous at a place called the Mayflower Hotel. Now that’s the difference between a Democratic and a Republican sex scandal. The Republicans have their rendezvous at an airport men’s room” –David Letterman

“Do you know what the highest paid government position in this country is? Anybody know? … It is working under New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. It pays like $5,000 an hour.” –Jay Leno

“As I’m sure you know by now, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has admitted that he was involved in a prostitution ring. Now this is the same man who when he was attorney general went after the prostitution ring. So apparently, it was for not giving him good service.” –Jay Leno

“Well, you know something, this shows you how the whole world is backwards. I mean, you got Democrats. Now, they’re supposed to be poor, right? Don’t Democrats traditionally represent the poor people? They’re paying $5,000 an hour for sex. You got the Republicans. They’re supposed to be rich, right? They’re cruising airport bathrooms trying to get it for free. What’s going on?” –Jay Leno

“The really ironic thing about this case — today, the hooker said Spitzer was done in a New York minute.” –Jay Leno

“Do you ever notice politics is the only profession when a guy gets caught with a hooker, the wife has to stand by his side. You know, if this guy was a plumber and he got caught with a prostitute, he’d have his wife’s SUV tire tracks over his head.” –Jay Leno

“It’s just mind-blowing that he spent $4,300 on a hooker. It just shows how high the cost of living is in New York. That same hooker would cost $50 in Newark.” –New York comic Lisa Landry

The New York Times reported that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was a customer of a high-end prostitution ring, that the prostitutes knew him as Client #9. Client #9, yeah. Not surprisingly, clients one through eight were Charlie Sheen.” –Conan O’Brien

“Here’s what happened, it was one of those sting deals. And they caught Eliot Spitzer, Gov. Spitzer, with a wire, recording him soliciting a prostitute. And I’m thinking, ‘Holy cow, we can’t get Bin Laden, but we got Spitzer. We got Sptizer.'” –David Letterman

“The thinking is the governor may step down now to spend less time with his family. The good thing is, he was caught soliciting a hooker, but on the bright side, it did not involve an airport men’s room.” –David Letterman

“The New York Times says that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is linked to a prostitution ring. … Gov. Spitzer, this is the latest, responded, just a few hours ago. He said, quote, ‘I violated my obligations to my family and I violated my sense of what is right and wrong.’ … Spitzer also admitted violating someone named Amber.” –Conan O’Brien

“Spitzer held a brief press conference yesterday, where he apologized to his constituents and to his family. He didn’t take any questions but retreated to the privacy of his home, where his wife repeatedly kicked him in the testicles.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Actually, she stood right next to him in the press conference. That is always amazing to me, how these guys get their wives to stand there and support them. … I don’t know what kind of zombie chow they put in these women’s food, but it’s mind-boggling. … I don’t want to rub it in to any of you visiting from New York, but here in California, our governor doesn’t have to pay for sex. When he wants it, he takes it.” –Jimmy Kimmel

Michael Bloomberg States He Is Not Running For President

Michael Bloomberg has an op-ed in The New York Times in which he states he is not going to run for president but continues to urge candidates to take an independent approach:

More of the same won’t do, on the economy or any other issue. We need innovative ideas, bold action and courageous leadership. That’s not just empty rhetoric, and the idea that we have the ability to solve our toughest problems isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dream. In New York, working with leaders from both parties and mayors and governors from across the country, we’ve demonstrated that an independent approach really can produce progress on the most critical issues, including the economy, education, the environment, energy, infrastructure and crime.

I believe that an independent approach to these issues is essential to governing our nation — and that an independent can win the presidency. I listened carefully to those who encouraged me to run, but I am not — and will not be — a candidate for president. I have watched this campaign unfold, and I am hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance. And while I have always said I am not running for president, the race is too important to sit on the sidelines, and so I have changed my mind in one area. If a candidate takes an independent, nonpartisan approach — and embraces practical solutions that challenge party orthodoxy — I’ll join others in helping that candidate win the White House.

The changes needed in this country are straightforward enough, but there are always partisan reasons to take an easy way out. There are always special interests that will fight against any challenge to the status quo. And there are always those who will worry more about their next election than the health of our country.

These forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful, and they exist in both parties. I believe that the candidate who recognizes that the party is over — and begins enlisting all of us to clean up the mess — will be the winner this November, and will lead our country to a great and boundless future.

I’m not at all surprised. It has appeared for a while that Bloomberg was waiting to see who the nominees from the major political parties would be before deciding whether he would run. Back when there was first speculation about Bloomberg running I wrote that, while chances for a third party victory would be remote under any circumstance, his chances would be best if the election pitted John Edwards against Mike Huckabee. This would provide the greatest opportunity to pick up voters from each party who would be unhappy with the nominee and might be willing to consider a socially liberal and economically moderate candidate.

It is clear that the race will not be between Edwards and Huckabee, despite Huckabee remaining in the race. The worst situation for Bloomberg would be an election between Barack Obama and John McCain. It now appears virtually certain that McCain will be the Republican nominee and Obama has become a strong favorite to win the Democratic nomination. This combination will not leave enough voters from either party who would gamble on a third party bid by someone with his viewpoints. Instead any challenges this year will be more likely to come from the extreme left and extreme right, which will not have any chance at victory. Ralph Nader has entered the race but is no longer taken seriously by very many. It is possible that there will be a conservative challenge to McCain, but most conservative Republicans will probably remain loyal to their party. The Libertarian Party and the theocratic Constitution Party will continue to run candidates from the right, but they will have no more impact than Ralph Nader.

Obama!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqoFwZUp5vc]

With about 98% of the vote in from the Iowa caucus, I project Barack Obama will be elected the next President of the United States.

Sure, a lot can still happen between now and November, but baring a major change it is difficult to see any other result. Edwards’ populism won’t sell in many states outside of Iowa, and having lost her aura of inevitability, support for Clinton is likely to hemorrhage. Dodd and Biden both withdrew, and Richardson performed too poorly to be a serious candidate. As for the general election, the record turnout of 227,000 in a state that went for George Bush is just one sign of the advantage the Democrats have. Some questioned the model used by The Des Moines Register that estimated 200,000 attendees but this number was greatly surpassed. By comparison, the turnout in 2004 was 125,000.

Not only did Obama win the caucus, he “won” in the post-caucus speeches. Clinton’s speech sounded like a speech of the Democratic Party past. John Edwards’ speech was the Dean scream put to words, showing yet again Edwards would never be elected president. Barack Obama gave the speech which would be expected not only by the leader of the Democratic Party, but by the president of all the people of the United States. The Republicans might be able to beat Hillary Clinton. I believe they would have beaten John Edwards. They will have a hard time beating Barack Obama.

Mike Huckabee also gave a good speech, but it was the speech of a skilled pastor, not a president. While Obama’s victory in Iowa will probably propel him to winning his party’s nomination, the Republican nomination is still in doubt. Huckabee did show he could win beyond the evangelical vote, and considering the flaws in all the Republican candidates he might be able to win the nomination. This is certainly a serious blow to Mitt Romney. The conventional wisdom a few weeks ago was that a victory for Huckabee would open up the race for Giuliani. With John McCain surging in New Hampshire, Giuliani could be forgotten by Super Tuesday. The one difficulty McCain might face in New Hampshire as a result of tonight’s results is that the independents might vote overwhelmingly for Obama, taking away potential votes from McCain.

In looking at Giuliani’s prospects, it is also hard to take anyone seriously who could not even beat Ron Paul. The Ron Paul fantasy has ended. As I’ve noted many times before, Paul’s enthusiastic supporters could help him do better than his 4% standing in the national polls, but not by enough to be meaningful. Making a lot of noise on line, and having a successful rally in The World of Warcraft, is not the same as getting real people to vote for your candidate. I’m sure it won’t be long before the Paul supporters develop a conspiracy theory claiming that Paul really won but had the vote stolen. Back in the real world, Paul has the money to remain in the race as long as he wants, and he might even do a little better in New Hampshire, but he is purely a protest candidate with zero chance of winning.

Obama’s support among independents will make it harder for a third party to harm the Democrats by dividing the vote. Michael Bloomberg is much less likely to run against Obama, as has been suspected since the two met for breakfast in November. Ron Paul might still decide to run as a third party candidate, with some rumors suggesting he might be planning to run as the candidate of the theocratic Constitution Party, which is closer to Paul’s current views than the Libertarian Party. It is hard to see Ralph Nader or the Green Party seriously hurting the Democratic Party led by Obama.