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Cindy McCain wins “Bubblehead of the Year” award

If the Bruised Muse hadn’t seen it with her own eyes, she wouldn’t have believed it. Consider for a moment Cindy McCain’s amazing comment about the foreign policy credentials of would-be-VP-in-waiting, Sarah Palin. On Sunday, on ABC’s This Week, beautiful Cindy said:

“You know, the experience that she comes from is, what she has done in government — and remember that Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia.”

The Bruised Muse is absolutely certain that this comment couldn’t be an official Repub talking point, but rather is an example of Cindy McCain striking out boldly on her own, having watched Fox News, where commentator Steve Doocy testified to Sarah Palin’s national security experience on Friday by saying that her state, Alaska, was so close to Russia.

The Bruised Muse, for once, is speechless!

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McCain chooses Sarah Palin: A remarkably cynical VP pick

After Senator Obama’s triumph last night, this morning we have the distressing spectacle of John McCain trying to steal the spotlight with a pick for VP so odd that we can’t help but pay attention.
But my goodness, in the end, what a mistake, and what a cynical choice. So much for McCain and his “country first” patriotism. First it’s obvious McCain is pandering here to his right wing. And second, he probably figures he can also get the so called disaffected Hillary supporters with this choice, odd as it is. I do hope Senator Clinton puts a stop to that idea right away, and that the so called “disaffected” Hillary supporters don’t fall for it. Does McCain think that Hillary’s diehards are so stupid they think anyone woman will do, just because she’s a women, even if this particular women is on the opposite side of every single issue to which Hillary has devoted her life? (As an aside, I love the way clever Kate on her blog, Evolution of Kate, put it: “McCain panders to Americans with Vaginas. ) Personally, I think it’s possible that many of the so called disaffected Hillary supporters are Repub plants, anyway.
But most important, in the end, isn’t the choice of Veep supposed to be about 1) the person best qualified to take over, should the candidate not be able to serve, and 2) helping the candidate govern? He’s complaining that Obama is unqualified? What does it say about McCain’s judgment when he picks this women, when there really is a question of whether he will be able to serve a full term, given his age. What narcissism. What self-regard. What a lack of capability for self-reflection.
Palin’s primary qualifications seem to be that she spent ten years as the major of a town of 6000, and almost two years as Governor of Alaska. She is also apparently qualified because she has five children (with the oddest names, I might add), including one born with Down’s Syndrome whom she didn’t abort (as opposed to liberals who would have); believes in drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Sanctuary (which fits with McCains “drill here and drill now” mantra); is a rabid NRA member, and is staunchly anti-choice. According to Wikipedia, she also supports the teaching of creationism in schools. Hmmm. I wonder what her views on contraception are?
Doesn’t McCain realize he’s 72 years old? Does he really think this is a qualified person? Does he think he can survive forever because he survived the Vietcong? Wow. The Republicans constantly amaze me.

Follow up: More Guns, More Death, More Grief

Commenting on my post, “More Guns, More Death, More Grief,” “andthebuddhasaid” (love that moniker) said:

You make great points and are absolutely right, but you didn’t comment on Barack Obama’s support of the Supreme Court’s decision. Apparently he was in whole hearted agreement. Personally I don’t think that this is the decision to measure his stance on gun control, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

Well, frankly, I was upset by Obama’s support of the decision, (which came after the post) but not totally shocked. I posted the piece on http://www.dailykos.com, thinking that that supposedly left-leaning community would mostly be in support, and found myself completely under attack by gun nuts, most of them claiming the right to defend themselves in their homes, and saying gun control laws don’t work, in no uncertain terms. Nearly four hundred people weighed in against me, I felt like a sitting duck. (And they call themselves liberals…for shame. Maybe they’re actually Republican plants.) Strict constructionists and others may argue about the original meaning of the Second Amendment and parse the placement of the comma in its words, and argue that such placement means citizens are allowed to own guns, INCLUDING assault weapons, but what I was primarily saying in that post was that two angry teenage boys in a school yard with loaded guns equals more death and grief than two angry teenagers in the same school yard without guns. Give a suicidal individual access to a gun (suicides account for a huge portion of gun deaths, way more than homicides) and see if a momentary urge doesn’t turn into a permanent condition. Compare the homicide rate in the United States of America with its weak gun control laws to other developed countries with strong gun control laws. I’m interested in grief, and more guns means more grief.

If this was about self protection, why not fight for non-lethal methods of self protection?

As for Obama’s position, my guess is that he’ll not appoint judges who are “strict constructionist” or judges obsessed with “original Intent” to the Supreme Court, and while whomever he appoints might agree with the current Court’s current decision on guns, they will not agree on so many other issues that are important to me that there is STILL no choice about whom I will support in this election. John McCain will be a disaster for this country, which has already endured eight years of disaster. Even a few of McCain’s own Republican party admit that he has too volatile a temperament to be President in this volatile world. Here’s a quote from the Huff Post on this:

“The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), also a senior member of the Appropriations panel, told the Boston Globe recently. “He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

If Thad Cochran is worried, so am I. Obama, in my opinion, has the kind of mind, focus, conciliatory approach, and even temperament that we sorely need in a volatile world. He is by far the better man. The Presidency is not only about policies; it’s very much about inspiration and vision. McCain has never met a war he didn’t like, and he’s chomping at the bit for more war. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. It seems to me that Senator McCain learned the wrong lessons from his time as a prisoner.

Note to the so-called “Liberal Media”: WHO played the race card?

The only mention I got in Elizabeth Kim’s Stamford Advocate piece about the Lower Fairfield Blog ‘n’ Grog Society was presumably this: “The group keeps growing, bringing together a mix of people that otherwise might not have met.” Indeed, I was just happy to be there as even an invisible part of the mix, the elder of the group by more years than I care to count, and I do agree that I probably wouldn’t have met ManagerMom or SarahAmerica, or Unloaded in real life. Since Kim described many of my fellow bloggers as ranting about one thing or another, I’d like to engage in my own rant today. I’m not a snarky person, but just this once…

Leave it to the Evil Genius Karl Rove and the Merry Band of Blood-sucking, Rovian Protege Geniusettes running John McCain’s Presidential campaign to come up with the perfect boomarang ad strategy for playing the race card. They’ve apparently decided that the straight talk express has no choice but to head right down the low road. In the first week of the new approach, they came up with a campaign slogan, “Country First,” along with direct accusations impugning Obama’s patriotism, with their delightful suggestion that Obama would lose a war in order to win a political campaign. This was followed by their load of malarkey about how Obama had dissed the troops by not visiting a hospital in Germany. Only after all that (and all in one week yet), did they unveil their Machiavellian, slight-of-hand advertisement. All of this was carefully timed, of course, to draw attention away from Obama’s triumphant overseas trip (And two hundred thousand Germans waving American flags instead of burning them is bad because…why?). The ad, as surely everyone knows by now, features images of Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton alongside Obama speaking to that huge crowd in Berlin, and the voice-over: “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?”

In response, Obama, essentially repeating what he said last month, said:

“They know that you’re not real happy with them and so the only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. What they’re saying is ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, he’s a got a funny name.’”

To which McCain’s people, followed by McCain himself, yelled that Obama had “played the race card,” –from the bottom of the deck, yet.

Say WHAT?

I think what we need is a McCain Mendacity Meter, which each day attempts to separate the Overt Lies of the McCain campaign from the Covert Lies of the McCain campaign.

I waited for one of Obama’s surrogates or the mainstream (so called “liberal”) media on the Sunday morning talk shows to address the matter with ANY degree of honesty. Donna Brazile on “This Week” came close to identifying the racial elephant in the room, but backed off before actually explaining, in the face of an onslaught of misogynistic laughter by the males on the the panel when Jake Tapper said the the ad was meant to show Obama as a ditz, like Paris and Brittney. (WHO’S a ditz? McCain graduated from Annapolis 894 out of 899, while Obama was Magna Cum Laude at Harvard Law School). Brazile asked if Tapper was calling Spears/Hilton ditz’s because they were blond, and Tapper said, “No, because they are stoopid!” It was funny, ha ha ha. Perhaps Brazile’s disgust and shock was what rendered her speechless. She should have said, “Now just a minute fellows….” In any case, it seemed taken as a given that Obama was the one who played the race card.

As if juxtaposing two blond, white, sexually promiscuous young women with Senator Obama is anything BUT racist in the first place. Not as overt as the notorious “Call me” ad that helped defeat Harold Ford in Tennessee, but its meaning is exactly the same. And while Terry Nelson, who produced the Ford ad, is now only a consultant to McCain, the newly appointed Steve Schmidt is leading a no holds barred approach, and it sure looks like he’s got a PhD from Nelson and Rove. The new McCain team, according to US News and World Report July 2, “was a long time coming…following weeks of harsh—and increasingly public—criticism by influential members of (McCain’s) own party who say they have been alarmed at what they have seen as the campaign’s lack of focus and poor planning.”

Indeed, the straight talk express has gone the way of McCain’s occasional so-called maverick positions of the past, nearly all reversed under pressure from our beloved lunatic fringe on the right, now called The Republican Party. What we can look forward to, if McCain wins, is four more years of Rovian double talk. More bills that allow pollution named The Clean Air Act. More false choices presented, as in the grandstanding by Congress today (forty Repub members rotating speeches in the dark) demanding a re-opening of the Senate and another emergency “up or down” vote, as if immediate off shore drilling will bring the price of oil down and is the ONLY thing standing between the United States and catastrophe. And more covert race-baiting ads named “straight talk.” Do we see a pattern here?

Such ads do appeal to the basest psychological creations of the Jim Crow south: That uppity black men covet white women. If this wasn’t the ad’s intended psychological message, why not juxtapose Obama with Beyonce, or Denzel Washington, or Bono? If it was just about ditz’s why not choose political ditz’s, like Dan Quayle, who couldn’t spell, or Daniel Inouye, who claims climate change is a hoax. Oh, I forgot, they’re REPUB ditz’s. Well, surely McNasty’s operatives could have found some Dem ditz’s.

Indeed, it is the ad’s diabolical subtlety–which enables “plausible deniability,” exploits a disgusting racial idea that NO ONE (other than perhaps Klansmen) admits they hold, and forces Obama to respond in an equally veiled way– that keeps the subject of race underground and makes the strategy so brilliant. How would Obama respond directly: “They’re trying to tell you that I secretly covet your white blond women”? (Imagine that, when he’s got the ADORABLE Michele as his wife.) Of course not. For God’s sake, the ad isn’t directed at the white liberals who are going to vote for Obama anyway and who probably don’t hold that view, but at Southern (and other) white racists who very well might.

And by the way, the ad also came complete with edited-in audio of a crowd chanting Obama’s name which, juxtaposed with video of the Berlin crowd, is remnicent to anyone who isn’t brain dead of an Adolph Hitler address circa 1937. The not-so subtle conclusion? Obama equals Hitleresk Demagogery and Anti-Semitism. The blogosphere smear campaign about Obama being an anti-Semitic, secret Muslim is nothing compared.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the lies in the ad that follow the Spears/Hilton smear, about more taxes and more foreign oil.

Dubious denials by Obama surrogates, followed eventually by begrudging admissions, belated and weak, that, “Okay, this strategy IS about race,” just aren’t going to cut it. The problem is THIS STUFF WORKS. I know everyone’s afraid of dealing with this directly, but…. I’m really beginning to worry that Senator Obama, like John Kerry before him, just isn’t doing enough to fight back. While my sense is that it simply isn’t in his nature (just like it wasn’t in John Kerry’s nature to fight back when they called him a traitor) I increasingly think Obama needs his own evil genius, or at least a snarling attack dog for a running mate, who will point out McCain’s paucity of ideas, pathetic delivery, right-pandering flipflops, humiliating gaffes, intellectual pigmyism, and elderly demeanor, or at the very least tell it like it is when John McCain heads the race-baiting straight talk express down Obama’s way. How about the Dems produce a commercial showing Obama with his elevated, hope-filled rhetoric and thousand watt smile, juxtaposed with a pasty looking McCain appearing near death before tiny crowd, in front of an institutional green background, showing us his programmed, scary, alien, podlike smile and his pearly yellows? Any Democratic Evil Genius’s out there?

Postscript: The BruisedMuse’s husband points out that Hilton’s parents contributed to McCain’s campaign. I wonder if McCain got the Hiltons’ permission first, or if they’re now trying to get back their contribution.

More guns, more death, more grief

Every day now, it seems, we have to eat more of the poisonous fruit that has grown out of the election and re-election of George Bush. Yesterday’s 5 to 4 decision by the Roberts Supreme Court endorsed a so-called “personal right to own guns,” and overturned precedent of seventy years. What happened to Roberts and Alito’s promises during their confirmation hearings that they would honor precedent whenever possible? We can’t have “activist” judges, conservatives scream.

The net effect will be more guns, more death, and more grief. More mothers and fathers will suffer unspeakably over the tragic and unnecessary deaths of their children. More sisters will grieve over brothers. More brothers will weep over sisters. More grandmothers and fathers will have to bear watching their children endure the worst possible thing that could happen to them. Perhaps the honorable Justices who think there should be MORE guns in this society and not fewer guns would like to provide funds for grief counseling for the victims of their decision, one which completely defies decency, reason, and common sense. Oh, I forgot, Congress provides funds.

According to Adam Liptak’s news analysis in today’s NY Times, the precedent in this case was a 1939 decision in which the Court, in United States v. Miller, upheld a federal prosecution for transporting a sawed-off shotgun. A Federal District Court had ruled that the provision of the National Firearms Act the Miller defendants were accused of violating was barred by the Second Amendment, but the Supreme court disagreed and reinstated the indictment. This was followed by decades and decades which a majority of “courts and commentators regarded the Miller decision as having rejected the individual-right interpretation of the Second Amendment.

The court’s slim decision is yet another in a long line of devastating and destructive decisions that have followed from the stacking of the Court with conservatives. Here’s NPR’s Nina Totenberg, writing a year ago, about this matter.

“For conservatives, this term was pretty close to the best of times, and for liberals, it was pretty close to the worst of times. Although Roberts and Alito both promised at their confirmation hearings to honor precedent whenever possible, in their first full term together, they effectively reversed a number of key precedents. In each case, it was by a 5-to-4 vote.”

And the trend has only escalated during this current term.

During the arguments the appallingly arrogant and seriously misguided Justice Antonin Scalia, the darling of the right, parsed the meaning of the words “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Justice Scalia argued that “the prefatory statement of purpose should not be interpreted to limit the meaning of what is called the operative clause.” His word-parsing, semantic argument is not unlike the argument over the placement of the comma in the clause that has been going on for some time now, and which, for all I know, may even be part of the decision. How do we argue semantics over common sense? That’s what I want to know. The “liberal” Justice Stevens argued more globally and sensibly that the majority’s understanding of the Miller decision was not only “simply wrong but reflected a lack of respect for the well-settled views of all our predecessors on the court, and for the rule of law itself,” and was “based on a strained and unpersuasive reading of the Second Amendment.”

As the kids say, “Whatever.”

The net effect will be more guns, more death, more grief.

I so well remember a conversation I had back in 2004 with a young woman who said she was going to vote for George Bush, because he would keep us safe. I decided not to address the “safety” argument, and pointed out that the reelection of George Bush would lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which I knew she cared about, and many other laws that she counted on without even realizing it. She looked at me and shrugged, “Never happen.” Well, it IS happening, and it will continue to happen…

And it is yet another reason to support Barack Obama for President. John McCain comes right out and says he will continue to appoint conservative Justices like Scalia and Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court. We cannot and SHOULD NOT just shrug that off, we should take John McCain at his word. Here’s yet another case of the unquestioning acceptance and operational reality of “doublethink” in this country. WHO are the “activist” judges?

Let’s do some real straight talking. If John McCain is elected, we can look forward to even more poisonous decisions by the Supreme Court, with majorities that will not be so slim.

Immersed in the language of our dissolving country

their cronies

and the poor

American landscape

disappearing in the rockets and red glare,

battle hymns of them and us.

Who are these people who

hang unbroken in creation

stimulate their Jesus action figures

steamrolled by flat-out hucksters

stupefied by the complex,

stream across the detritus of America

abrogate treaties, inform parades

circumnavigate the globe with their

misbegotten little wars,

sell any crapola like Good News,

stir any Orwellian double talk into their soup,

eat any fiction they find strewn across the open plains,

while little girls spread their legs

and people die without good reason

and we eat the poisonous fruit.

What is human without a microphone?

To which country did my grandfather Abraham come,

carrying his clothes on his back?

The democratization of opinion: reason and science in the balance. Yet another reason not to support John McCain.

Mildred, I think we have a problem. Our culture is facing a “democratization of opinion” that seriously threatens its core post-Enlightenment values of reason and science.

Yesterday, a quote in a NY Times article called “Philadelphia Set to Honor Darwin and Evolution,” by Jon Hurdle, caught my eye.

“…polls shows that a majority of Americans believe God created man in his present form and that the number of people who accept the evolutionary model of human origins is declining.”

A MAJORITY? The numbers DECLINING? Can this possibly be true?

The article isn’t focused on why these unnerving statistics are true, but rather on an effort by nine Philadelphia academic, scientific and cultural institutions to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s seminal work, “The Origin of Species” by increasing public understanding of evolution. It is a good thing when recognized authorities attempt to counter the increasingly successful effort by the “faith-based” community to place its ideas about creationism and/or “intelligent design” on the same playing field as science. And it is a good thing that the event will feature John E. Jones III, a federal judge who ruled in 2005 that teaching intelligent design in public classes was unconstitutional.

However, those of us who worry that America is heading inexorably backward, perhaps even backward into a new dark age, are not appeased. The question in my mind at least is WHY are more and more people accepting and clinging to pre-Enlightenment ideas?

One reason is that our opinion leaders, including our current President, are themselves confused. Here’s a piece from a Washington Post article from 2005 on George Bush’s remarks about evolution and creationism/intelligent design:

“Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about,” he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: “Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You’re asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.”

There are those so disgusted with George Bush that they simply shake their heads in disbelief when he speaks, but the fact is he IS the President, and (even though some might argue) the country actually elected him, and the point he was making proves my premise, which is the nonsensical idea that many people nowadays hold that all opinions are equal.

Later in the article:

With the president endorsing it, at the very least it makes Americans who have that position more respectable, for lack of a better phrase,” said Gary L. Bauer, a Christian conservative leader who ran for president against Bush in the 2000 Republican primaries. “It’s not some backwater view. It’s a view held by the majority of Americans.”

Gary Bauer is a man with whom I probably don’t agree on very much, but on this issue he speaks some truth. Whether “intelligent design” is a “backwater view” or not, and whether a majority of people believing it makes it “respectable” are debatable points, because “debatable” and “respectable” are subjective issues on which people may legitimately disagree. But there can be but there can be no debate that the view IS held by the majority of Americans, because this is an observable fact. We have seen over and over in these last eight years what happens when public policy is made according to opinion and/or faith-based ideas rather than evidence and facts, and nowhere are the dangers of doing this more apparent than in the pseudo-debate over evolution vs. intelligent design. What’s been happening in this arena is that those who believe in creationism have in this and many other areas done an end run around established expert opinion by creating their own colleges and think tanks and PhDs. This is of course aided and abetted by the democratic nature of the Web and its increasing influence.

In almost every area, the Web eliminates the need or desire for traditional cultural authorities who have been vetted and approved by some established entity. The Web (and even Cable News) asks us to “vote” on everything, either directly or through our clicks–from our favorite books, to whether we think there is life on other planets, to whether “intelligent design” belongs in the science classroom. If everyone can be a critic, no more do we need consult literary critics or writers who have studied writing and literature. If everyone is or can be a citizen journalist, no more do we need to consult actual journalists who adhere to established standards of reporting. And if everyone is a scientist, no more do we need to consult—

Uh-oh.

Yet NO reputable scientist–religious, agnostic, or atheist–supports the idea of intelligent design as science, and it remains essential for citizens of this country to employ enough critical thinking to understand at least that in certain cases we must defer to our established experts, even if our natural psychological tendency is to seek out those who agree with us.

And now we come to John McCain. According to evolutionary biologist and UC professor Jonathan Eisen on his blog, The Tree of Life when John McCain was asked about evolution, he said:

“I think Americans should be exposed to every point of view,” he said. “I happen to believe in evolution. … I respect those who think the world was created in seven days. Should it be taught as a science class? Probably not.”

Probably not? Well, I’m glad John McCain at least “believes” in evolution, and I SUPPOSE this is a better position than Bush’s even more egalitarian, “democratic” stand, but I have to wonder, along with the progressive Website Think Progress, how much more pandering McCain is going to do in his current effort to shore up the Republican base in his “lurch to the right”

Here is a quote from Think Progress.com’s 2007 reporting on the issue:

February 23, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will be the keynote speaker for the most prominent creationism advocacy group in the country. The Discovery Institute, a religious right think-tank, is well-known for its strong opposition to evolutionary biology and its advocacy for “intelligent design.” The institute’s main financial backer, savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, spent 20 years on the board of the Chalcedon Foundation, “a theocratic outfit that advocates the replacement of American civil law with biblical law.”

McCain has an ambiguous record on whether he supports intelligent design in the science curriculum. In 2005, he said it should be taught:

Daily Star: Should intelligent design be taught in schools?

McCain: I think that there has to be all points of view presented. But they’ve got to be thoroughly presented. So to say that you can only teach one line of thinking I don’t think is – or one belief on how people and the world was created – I think there’s nothing wrong with teaching different schools of thought.

Daily Star: Does it belong in science?

McCain: There’s enough scientists that believe it does. I’m not a scientist. This is

something that I think all points of view should be presented.

If John McCain wants to ally himself with these people, that’s his right, but at least he should speak truth to them, plainly and clearly. No, there are NOT enough scientists who believe that it does. Thank God for that.

And by the way, God help us if we have to suffer through another four or eight years with a President who’s mind is so muddled that he speaks as McCain does in sentences like those quoted above.  Here’s another pair of facts to consider: Barack Obama was magna cum laude; McCain’s class ranking at Annapolis was 894 out of 899.