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Posts Tagged ‘rich white oligarchy’

Where’d Palin come from?  Lost in the bad press, McCathyism, and populist chicanery is the fascinating story of how Little Miss Wasilla charmed the pants off the Republican intellectual establishment*

*(Take the phrase under advisement when this fool is allowed onto the reservation.)

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker magazine, (now with more racism!) uncovers the gory details:

“During her gubernatorial campaign, (policy advisor John) Bitney said, he began predicting to Palin that she would make the short list of Republican Vice-Presidential prospects. “She had the biography, I told her, to be a contender,” he recalled. At first, Palin only laughed. But within a few months of being sworn in she and others in her circle noticed that a blogger named Adam Brickley had started a movement to draft her as Vice-President. Palin also learned that a number of prominent conservative pundits would soon be passing through Juneau, on cruises sponsored by right-leaning political magazines. She invited these insiders to the governor’s mansion, and even led some of them on a helicopter tour.”

Although the McCain-Palin campaign has trashed the media and coastal elites, the governor spent tens of thousands of dollars on east coast PR firms to promote her pipeline projects to such small-town main-street publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Fortune.  The blogger Brickley, who originally registered the PalinforVP website, is a similarly textbook product of the big right-wing institutions:  He’s attended workshops at the Young America Foundation and interned for Heritage.  While Brickley was passing word around the internet, the conservative establishment was trekking north to the realm of the moose queen:

“Shortly after taking office, Palin received two memos from Paulette Simpson, the Alaska Federation of Republican Women leader, noting that two prominent conservative magazines—The Weekly Standard, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and National Review, founded by William F. Buckley, Jr.—were planning luxury cruises to Alaska in the summer of 2007, which would make stops in Juneau.”

This motley band of assholes included National Review editor Bill “the smiling assassin” Kristol, Weekly Standard editor Fred “the dead-ender” Barnes, and Bush speechwriter Michael “Axis of Evil” Gerson.  The group met with Palin for lunch at the governor’s mansion, as well as a “flight-seeing trip” along the Alaskan coast.  Barnes recalled “being struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.”  He also added that she was “exceptionally pretty.”  Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.”  Paulette Simpson of the Alaska Federation of Republican Women described the all-male, all-over-55 group as “very enamored of her.”  Shortly after, Barnes’ Weekly Standard ran the first major national article on the governor.  Policy Advisor Bitney attributed this first step towards national prominance to the group’s lunch date.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Crime) later noted that “Kristol was really pushing Palin” around the DC cocktail circuit before McCain picked her.  Two months before her selection, with Palin still far from the national radar, Kristol told Fox News Sunday that she would be the VP pick. In fact, Kristol harped on Sexy Sarah so shamelessly that moderator Chris Wallace asked him “Can we please get off Sarah Palin?”  (Later, Kristol referred to the governor as “my heartthrob.”)

Palin also entertained other conservative elites on a second National Review cruise.  Guests included the Review’s Rich “starbursts” Lowry, failed Supreme Court nominee Robert “Colonel Sanders” Bork, and Fox News’ Dick “toe-sucking” Morris.

Conservative historian* Victor Davis Hanson recalled Palin “in high heels, walking around this big Victorian house with rough Alaska floors,” and described her as “striking.”  Review senior editor Jay Nordlinger was admirably direct in referring to the governer as “a real honey” in an online column.

*(I’m using “historian” guardedly.)

Two days after Palin’s selection, the excessively sleazy Morris wrote of the event:  “I will always remember taking her aside and telling her that she might one day be tapped to be Vice-President, given her record and the shortage of female political talent in the Republican Party.  She will make one hell of a candidate, and hats off to McCain for picking her.”  Attendees recalled that Morris warned the governor that she would have to “stay an outsider” to be successful after campaigning as one.”

This was all groundwork for handing her to McCain.  McMaverick wanted Lieberman, but his advisors vetoed the pick.  Rove wanted Romney, but McCain and Romney never got along.  Choices such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former U.S. Trade Rep Rob Portman were boring and added little to the ticket.  Without any good options, advisors congealed around Palin.  According to David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, super-lobbyist Charlie Black told McCain: “If you pick anyone else, you’re going to lose. But if you pick Palin you may win.”  (Black is a nasty, nasty character fwiw.)

The story of Palin really isn’t small-town-girl-makes-good.  Rather, it’s a classic example of the Washington elite converging on a popular person and creating her via money and influence.  The whole New Yorker feature is here and worth a read.

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Carmen explains (much more clearly than I ever could) why working-class white people should be disgusted with the utter contempt John McCain has for them.

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All this financial stuff is above my pay grade.  If any commenters want to debate the economics of the bailout, it’s all yours.  But a few unconnected thoughts first:

1)  It’s the politics, stupid.  One thing I did see coming, no one in a tight re-election race was voting for this $700 billion boondoggle.  Voting against it was cheap & easy populism, and the obvious choice for candidates facing 100-to-1 phone calls against.  (Actual public opinion isn’t that bad, but Congressmen respond to volume.)  The boys over at Fivethirtyeight did the math to verify, so here’s the “vulnerable” House members:

REPUBLICANS
AK-AL  Young         R      NAY
CO-4   Musgrave      R      NAY
CT-4   Shays         R      YEA
FL-8   Keller        R      NAY
FL-21  L Diaz-Balart R      NAY
FL-24  Feeney        R      NAY
FL-25  M Diaz-Balart R      NAY
ID-1   Sali          R      NAY
IL-10  Kirk          R      YEA
MI-7   Walberg       R      NAY
MI-9   Knollenberg   R      NAY
MO-6   Graves        R      NAY
NC-8   Hayes         R      NAY
NV-3   Porter        R      YEA
NY-29  Kuhl          R      NAY
OH-1   Chabot        R      NAY
OH-2   Schmidt       R      NAY
PA-3   English       R      NAY
VA-2   Drake         R      NAY
WA-8   Reichert      R      NAY

VULNERABLE GOP = 3 YEAS, 17 NAYS (15%)
OTHER GOP = 62 YEAS, 116 NAYS (35%)

DEMOCRATS
AZ-5   Mitchell    D      NAY
AZ-8   Giffords    D      NAY
CA-11  McNerney    D      YEA
FL-16  Mahoney     D      YEA
GA-8   Marshall    D      YEA
IL-14  Foster      D      YEA
IN-9   Hill        D      NAY
KS-2   Boyda       D      NAY
KY-3   Yarmuth     D      NAY
LA-6   Cazayoux    D      NAY
MS-1   Childers    D      NAY
NH-1   Shea-Porter D      NAY
NY-20  Gillibrand  D      NAY
PA-4   Altmire     D      NAY
PA-10  Carney      D      NAY
PA-11  Kanjorski   D      YEA
TX-22  Lampson     D      NAY
WI-8   Kagen       D      NAY

VULNERABLE DEMS = 5 YEAS, 13 NAYS (28%)
OTHER DEMS = 135 YEAS, 82 NAYS (62%)

ALL VULNERABLES = 8 YEAS, 30 NAYS (21%)
OTHERS = 197 YEAS, 198 NAYS (50%)

…and one of their helpful readers adds:  Of the 26 Congressmen not up for re-election at all, 23 voted “yes” with only 2 opposed and 1 abstention.

Of course another way to read this is that the conservative House members killed it themselves; take out the “vulnerables” and the GOP still manages to sink the thing.  But clearly, having to face the voters with this albatross was hugely prohibitive.

2)  Revolt of the masses. (No, not the real one.)  Consider that this bill had the support of the President, Vice President, both leaders in the House, both Presidential candidates, and all related Committee chairs on both the House and Senate sides; as well as the leaders at the Federal Reserve, SEC, and every other relevant government institution.  And it still failed by a good 20+ votes.  I can’t think of a bill that had such bipartisan support, the entire elite political establishment and most of the media, and yet failed.  Fact is, not only was it a terrible bill but it was a cynical one as a leaked conference call revealed.  The question then becomes…

3)  What next? Probably a similar bill.  Maybe some small changes to grab a few more votes.  What kills me is that we’re looking to people like Alan Greenspan, Hank Paulson (former Goldman CEO,) and Bob Rubin (Clintonomics, ) to plan our way out of this. It’s the way we do things – turn to the same fools who drove us into a ditch in the first place.  No one on the Iraq Study Group had the good sense to oppose the war before it started.  Washington has a very small coterie of Wisened Old Whiteys (WOWs,) epitomized by Lee Hamilton who served as Chair of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission.  Hamilton’s a fine old man, but aren’t we moving towards intellectual calcification here?

I want my “experts” to have actually been a) right and b) not pursuing conflicts of interest.  I’d like to hear from Nouriel Roubini instead of the de-regulators and speculators who got us here.  I’d like to hear what Steve Pearlstein thinks.  Galbraith.  Fuck it, give me Eliot Spitzer’s prescience.  (If you want Roubini’s plan, registration is free.)  Why don’t we look at how someone else did it?

Instead, we’re more likely to get a scaled-down version of the same bill by the end of the week.  A few words tacked on or excised to win votes, cheers from the people who put us in this situation, and a nice bipartisan signing ceremony to bring a few hundred points back to the Dow.  Mazel tov, but what are the odds it constitutes the necessary rethinking of the past couple decades worth of unicorn political economics?

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The campaigns are currently wrapping up negotiations on format for the upcoming Presidential debates.  The New York Times reports:

“The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.”

The McCain campaign hopes that a tighter format with shorter Q&A segments than in the Presidential debates will prevent Palin from being exposed as utterly unqualified.  McCain’s campaign had actually requested zero time for direct exchanges between the candidates, but were rebuffed.

The format was negotiated by Lindsey Graham for the GOP and Rahm Emannuel for the Democrats.  Apparantly the process was civil:

“The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between the men at the top of the tickets were largely free of brinksmanship. Neither side threatened to pull out, and concerns about camera angles and stagecraft were minor.”

The campaigns have settled on a final format:

“Now the candidates will be asked a question, each will give an answer of two minutes or less, and then they will mix it up for five additional minutes before moving on to the next question in the same format.”

Good for them.  They’ve set the stage for an elaborate kabuki performance.  The recent history of Presidential debates is a testimony to cash-washed corporatism, institutional arrogance, and bipartisan efforts to stage-manage all spontaneity out of existence.  Let’s begin:

Through 1984, Presidential debates were run by the non-partisan League of Women Voters.  The League selected debate panelists and submitted them for approval to the campaigns.  For the first debate in 1984, Reagan and Mondale vetoed nearly 100 proposed panelists.  The League publicly criticized both campaigns for “totally abusing the process,” and for the second debate, neither campaign rejected any of the first proposed panelists.

The League pushed for lively and substantive debates, and was friendly towards the inclusion of third-party candidates.  In 1980, President Carter refused to participate in a debate with both Ronald Reagan and independent candidate John Anderson.  The League insisted on Anderson’s inclusion, and when Carter didn’t play along they held a televised debate with just Reagan and Anderson.

The League of Women Voters, a respected, non-partisan organization, ensured both procedural fairness and substantive debate.  Not surprisingly, the campaigns decided to make an end-run around them.  In 1988, the Bush and Dukakis campaigns agreed on a secretly-negotiated Memorandum of Understanding settling all terms including the panel selection process, the makeup of the audience, and (best of all!) banning follow-up questions.  When the campaigns released their agreement to the public, the League accused them of “fraud on the American voter” and withdrew their support.  What followed?

The freshly-created Commission on Presidential Debates.  The CPD is a non-profit corporation led by former chairmen of the Republican and Democratic National Committees.  Fahrenkopf and Kirk are also, respectively, a casino lobbyist and trustee of the Free Enterprise Foundation and a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.  As Sourcewatch notes, CPD’s 9 board members collectively serve on the boards of over 30 corporations; and 5 are partners in corporate law firms.

The CPD mediates the discussions between the campaigns and enforces the terms of the settlement, as well as providing a veneer of independence.  There should, however, be no doubt about who’s in charge.  In 1992, the Bush Sr. and Clinton campaigns were both OK with wanted Perot and so he was invited.  In 1996, neither Dole nor Clinton wanted him; Dole feared losing votes to Perot, and Clinton, who had a massive lead, wanted the debates to be as much of a “non-event” as possible.  The campaigns agreed, and their secretly-negotiated memorandum excluded Perot despite his having won a surprising 19% in the previous election.  (If there’s any doubt about the importance of being in debates, consider that Perot was at only 7% in 1992 before he got on stage with Bush and Clinton.)

Other candidates have also been excluded despite meeting a variety of impressive benchmarks.  In 2000, Pat Buchanan had qualified for $12 million in public funding and was left off the stage.  Ralph Nader was also denied despite being on the ballot in 43 states and the District of Columbia.  The process is simple:  The two major parties agree to keep the debates to themselves, and CPD legitimizes this by setting arbitrarily high “objective” standards for inclusion.  After 1992, CPD decided that candidates would require a 15% average in public polling in order to be invited.  This is prohibitive — as noted, Ross Perot spent millions of dollars of his own money and was only at 7% before being brought into the debates and shooting to almost 20%.  The 15% requirement is a self-fulfilling prophecy by which third-party candidates are denied public exposure, subsequently fail to improve their poll numbers, and then are excluded again on the logic of their poor poll numbers. As the Open Debates organization notes:

“A 15 percent criterion applied to all the presidential debates of the twentieth century would have excluded every third party candidate except for Congressman John Anderson, who participated in televised Republican primary debates. A five percent criterion applied to all previous presidential debates would have excluded every third-party candidate, except for John Anderson and Ross Perot. In fact, so formidable are the barriers to third party voices, a two percent criterion applied to all previous presidential debates would have included only three third-party candidates: John Anderson in 1980, Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996, and Ralph Nader in 2000.”

Who cares?  Third parties have no Congressional representation and little to no party organization.  Who would want a few more cranks up on stage with the big boys?

“UTICA, New York – More than half of likely voters nationwide – 55% – want Republican-turned-Libertarian Bob Barr to participate in presidential debates this fall, while nearly half – 46% – said they think Ralph Nader should be allowed into the on-stage fray, the latest Zogby Interactive polling shows.”

Oh. And we’ve been through this before:

“Seventy-six percent of registered voter supported Ross Perot’s inclusion in the 1996 debates, and 64 percent wanted Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan included in the 2000 presidential debates.”

Obviously the American public wants to see these guys.  Wouldn’t this be a better metric than asking third-party candidates to magically poll 15 percent before they’ve had the money or airtime required to introduce themselves to the public?  It’s not like the masses are begging to see a half-dozen nobodies; Bob Barr is a well-known former Congressman, and he’s barely over 50%; Nader is a consumer hero who’s done this before, including filling Madison Square Garden, and he’s still missing the threshhold.

Defenders of the status quo argue that since there are over 200 candidates, allowing more into the debates would lead to anarchy in the UK and dogs and cats living together.  As noted though, very few of them will actually be able to garner a majority demand for inclusion.  Other criteria also exist that are both fair enough to expand the debate and restrictive enough to keep things reasonable:

“How many [candidates] were on enough state ballots to mathematically have a chance to capture the White House? In 1988, only two third-party candidates, in 1992 only three third-party candidates, in 1996 only four third-party candidates, in 2000 only five third-party candidates, and in 2004 only four third-party candidates were on enough state ballots to win an Electoral College majority.”

While 6 or 7 could be too many people on stage at once, some combination of ballot presence and public demand requirements would keep the numbers down to a couple of third-party candidates in addition to the usual suspects.

The current system stifles the style of the debates.  All audience members are screened to allow only “soft” supporters or undecideds.  (Ah, the ridiculous cult of the undecided voter…)  All these softies, who agree to sit totally silent for 90 minutes, pre-submit their questions on index cards.  In 2004, the “extended debate” portion of questions was limited to 30 seconds.  Chew on that a moment.  In selecting the leader of the free world, we limit the extended debate time to the length of a soap commercial.  This isn’t a debate; it’s a bi-partisan press conference.

And who pays for this crap?  In 2004,

“three airlines, a cable television network, a company that helps businesses and governments outsource information technology, and the self-crowned king of the beer-making business, Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc., which also sponsored several other debates in previous years.”

Bill Moyers elaborates:

“1992: AT&T, Atlantic Richfield, Dun & Bradstreet, Ford Motor Company, Hallmark, IBM, J.P. Morgan, Philip Morris, Prudential. 1996: Anheuser Busch, Dun & Bradstreet, Lucent Technologies, Philip Morris, Sara Lee, Sprint. In 2000, Anheuser Busch, US Airways, 3Com.”

No wonder you literally didn’t hear the word “corporation” in any of 3 debates in 2000, nor anything whatsoever about NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, the drug war, homelessness, or organized labor.  While the public at home doesn’t see this, there’s a reason Moyers describes these as “corporate carnivals.”  George Farah, author of No Debate, explains:

FARAH: Yes. If you attend a debate site what you see are huge Anheuser Busch tents. Anheuser Busch girls in skimpy outfits and they’re passing out beer and they’re passing out pamphlets that denounce beer taxes. You have giant posters of the various corporate sponsors also passing out other materials that are promoting their goods, their products and their political issues.

MOYERS: The public at home never sees this.

FARAH: Oh, they never see this. These are the corporations who are primarily paying for the debates that tens of millions of Americans are watching. And they get to bring their clients to debate sites, entertain them. They bring them to a nice suite. And they take them to the debates and sit in the front rows of these presidential debate forums. They get tax deductions for their major contributions to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

And when I asked Frank Farenkopf, co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, whether he thought it was okay for beer and tobacco companies to be hosting and sponsoring these presidential debates, he said, “Boy, you are talking to the wrong guy. I’m a lobbyist for the gambling industry.”

Frank Farenkopf, two points for honesty.

Fortunately, there are some good guys in the story.  The recently-created Citizens’ Debate Commission features such ideological rivals as Mark Weisbrot, Tony Perkins, Randall Robinson, and Paul Weyrich.  The Debate Commission has a great set of demands:

  1. Follow-up questions must be permitted in every debate.
  2. At least one debate must include candidate-to-candidate questioning.
  3. At least two debates must include rebuttals and surrebuttals.
  4. Response times must not be overly restrictive.
  5. Candidates may only exercise a limited number of vetoes concerning the selection of moderators and panelists.

Also:

  1. Two single moderator debates: The single moderator format focuses attention on the candidates, rather than on the questioners. A least one of the single moderator debates would include direct candidate-to-candidate questioning, loose time restrictions and minimal interference from the moderator.
  2. Authentic town-hall debate: An authentic town-hall debate would be organized that prohibits the screening of questions and includes a representative sampling of Americans in the audience.
  3. Youth debate: The first-ever youth-run and youth-oriented presidential debate would be established. Young people are increasingly dismayed by and detached from electoral politics. A youth debate could inspire millions of young adults to tune into the presidential debates, raise atypical subject matters for national discourse, and prevent the candidates from anticipating many debate questions.
  4. Panel debate: Historically, panel debates have allowed educated reporters to question the candidates’ policy plans and backgrounds. But rather than the panel consisting exclusively of reporters, the Citizens’ Debate Commission would assemble a diverse panel of academic, civic, artistic, religious, media, labor and business leaders to ask questions.

The Open Debate people are good.  Help them.  We don’t need any more of this Potemkin garbage.

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Tim Wise is a sharp, incisive, southern Jewish anti-racist writer. Which is why the right people make anti-semitic attacks on him. (Seriously? The “big nose” line from David Horowitz? What, is “Horowitz” his stage name? Paragons of Aryan manhood, all of you…)

But that’s a tangent. Point is, at least three people have sent me this within the last couple days. Wise goes through a comparison of Barack Obama with John McCain and Sarah Palin in order to hash out the importance of white privilege on the election. He compares the treatments of the candidates’ personal stories and asks whether the same traits perceived as positive with white candidates would be acceptable with Obama. Example:

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

Quite right. This is the guy about to make Governor Palin a grandma. (So much for the “I don’t want kids” on his Myspace page.) Let’s see a black candidate’s 17-year-old daughter get pregnant by a profanity-laced, violence-threatening young man and count the seconds before CNN Presents: Crisis in the Black Family. There’s more:

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

Imagine that Michelle Obama had committed fraud to acquire painkillers through a medical charity and subsequently attributed it in part to stress brought on by her husband’s political scandals.

Unfortunately, the article is just a little too much race explains it all. Like an amateur Marxist, Wise has a theory that fits everything. Consequently, he overreaches:

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you “dangerously naive and immature.”

This isn’t because Obama is black; it’s because he’s a Democrat. “Naive and dangerous” is exactly how they tagged Kerry when he questioned the formulation of the “global war on terror.” They ran ads asking how the Massachusetts Senator could protect us when he “[didn’t] understand the threat.” All foreign policy statements from the left are naive, dangerous, or both. Doesn’t matter what color the speaker is.

There’s other examples as well:

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

First, Palin has already lost something like 11 or 12 points off her approval ratings between her convention speech and today. Second, it’s the anti-intellectualism, stupid. If you go on Bill O’Reilly’s sixty minutes hate, you’re going to be attacked; and if you speak to low-information voters in sentences longer than a bumper sticker, you’re an egghead. Gore was one, as were Kerry and Dukakis. (Remember this was old model Kerry, not the newly-combative Kerry 2.0) President Clinton was a bright guy but got away with it in part because Bush père sucked worse at slogans. Senator Obama joins a long and distinguished line of totally white Democrats facing similar charges of intellectual arrogance.

A couple times, Wise makes this mistake of confusing “standard Republican tactics” with evidence of white privilege. (Whether it’s preferable that the GOP be a party of bottom-feeding slanderers or simply a party of racists remains an open question.) Just because Wise is wielding a hammer of racial justice doesn’t make everything a nail.

That said, the article is a quick, fun, provocative read. Its pith also makes it ideal for email forwarding, which has become an important medium this election cycle. Worth a few minutes of your Friday.

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And she would know, cont.

This was just a few days ago.  But it gets better:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter and member of the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, will endorse John McCain for president on Wednesday, her spokesman tells CNN.

Luckily, she has a strong, policy-driven rationale for her endorsement:

“This is a hard decision for me personally because frankly I don’t like him,” she said of Obama in an interview with CNN’s Joe Johns. “I feel like he is an elitist. I feel like he has not given me reason to trust him.”

Lynn de Rothschild “feels like he is an elitist,” and “feels like” there’s no reason to trust Obama.  I’m glad our financial overlords make such informed policy decisions.  Sad thing is, nobody would give a soggy fuck about this self-righteous fool if she didn’t have money and her 77-year-old husband’s name to throw at shit.  (Sir Evelyn Robert Rothschild is 23 years her senior, Forbes called the marriage “the deal of a lifetime,” and it was certainly timed well for her business ventures.  Could’ve been for love, I’m just sayin…)

Don’t worry Mme. de Rothschild, Barry will be alright without you.

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l33t ism

pwned!

Once again the media reminds us that Democratic oligarchs feed on the bones of peasant babies.  This time, it’s Jon Decker of Reuters speaking on MSNBC:

“For Joe Biden, I — you know, not that he’s not folksy, but I don’t think it helps his case when he’s making the argument on economic issues wearing French cuffs and dressed to the nines. I think that he’s really got to connect with these voters, and his background certainly is a connection.”

(Hat-tip Media Matters.)  Anchorman Chris Jansing suggests the preferred sartorial alternative:

“I’m — I was a little surprised too that he didn’t have that coat off and roll up his sleeves. We shall see how this progresses.”

I’m glad the press is keeping up with the big developing stories.

So far this election has been about bowling, arugula, and beer-sipping.  It took the dance of the seven houses for the press to realize which guy’s wife has the $500,000 monthly AMEX.  I mean, who among us didn’t confuse the black dude raised by a single mother with the House of Bourbon on his AP exam?

The stupidity of the narrative doesn’t trouble me half as much as the deja vu. We’ve seen this movie before with out-of-touch Gore and elitist, French-like windsurfer Kerry.  We know how this ends and it isn’t good.  (Unless, God willing, Gramm ex machina this time ’round.)

Race is an added factor this year, as evidenced by the troubling use of the term “uppity.” (And Westmoreland isn’t even some third-tier fake-name radio paranoid culled from the Log Cabin Nazi Party; he’s a sitting United States Congressman.)  I remember seeing someone on my teevee (Buchanan?) protesting that “uppity” is just a word like “arrogant” or “elitist” and that the word itself is race-neutral. Sure it is, but let’s play a mental game. You complete the sentence with the first word that comes to mind:

-“He’s an arrogant ___”  (sonofabitch?)
-“That guy is an elitist  ___”  (snob?”)
-“That is one uppity ___”

Let’s just say it doesn’t take a hipster racist to know what usually follows the u-word.  And if you think I’m being too sensitive, noted Black Panther David Gergen called them out on this as well.

The problem isn’t that the Republicans traffic in this nonsense; it’s that the press eats it up.  It’s never been clear to me why the press so willingly promotes the “elitist coastal liberals” trope.  Is it psychological, some self-loathing among the well-educated? (no, my dear New Republic, “east coast yuppies” don’t “sneer at the military.”)  Maybe it’s the impact of the GOP money and noise machine on the refs.  There is no easy answer, but this much is true:  When the guardians of our discourse tell us simultaneously that Obama is an elitist and that $200,000 is “middle-class,” well, some people have just forfeited their credibility in perpetuity.

For any number of reasons, the economic elites of the right are perceived as admirably aspirational while the cultural elites on the left are treated as a hostile class.  Ergo, a good chunk of voters are more resentful towards the Hollywood left for drinking chardonnay than they are towards the corporatists who kill their health insurance.  No blog post can explain this paradigm, (especially after midnight on a Tuesday,) but our Jacksonian anti-intellectualism undoubtedly plays some part.  (Aright kids, that’s your invite for the “comments” section.)

Why is acceptable that John McCain’s high school now costs $40,000 a year when Joe Biden can’t wear a French cuff shirt?  For the love of Jesus-on-Jump-Street, I own a French cuff shirt and I grew up on food stamps and once sold Socialist Worker.  (You can get them at Macy’s for $35 on sale.  French cuff shirts, not Socialist Worker.) You can also get a passable bottle of cabernet for $3, which is most certainly welcome among us proletarian elitists as the silly season marches on.

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