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Sarah Zamboni Clears the Ice

Friday, September 12, 2008

By Ellen Goodman

Who would have dreamed that a hockey mom could produce such a bounce? I didn’t even think the puck was supposed to get off the ice.

But now that so many women have skated over to her side, allow me another metaphor. Sarah Palin is the Zamboni of this campaign.

This hockey mom rolled onto the ice, did a couple of turns around the rink and managed to clear off all the nasty old Republican detritus. She gave the Grand Old (Boy) Party a new image, or at least a new surface.

Let us remember that Republicans had long targeted working mothers as the centerpiece of the culture wars. They ran an entire convention on Marilyn Quayle’s line, “Most women do not wish to be liberated from their essential natures as women.”

Now their heroine is the in-your-face governor who once said: “To any critics who say a woman can’t think and work and carry a baby at the same time, I’d just like to escort that Neanderthal back to the cave.”

Hey, wasn’t that our line? Weren’t the Neanderthals who wanted women to stay in their traditional roles these same conservatives? Suddenly, we are watching the parade of the flip-floppers, patriarchs with pedicures.

Who can forget James Dobson, who blamed the decline and fall of morality on “working mothers and permissiveness,” and told us that real women “are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership.” He now says, “I believe Sarah Palin is God’s answer.”...(Click here for remainder).


A Campaign Without Ideas

By Eugene Robinson

There was a time when Republicans campaigned on their ideas, programs and values. This year—lacking ideas, programs or values—John McCain and Sarah Palin are running for the White House on an elaborate fictional narrative of victimhood. Their supposed persecutors are Democrats and the news media, and the aim of this whole charade is to keep Americans from talking about ideas, programs and values.

Every day, the McCain campaign brays anew with over-the-top indignation at “the outrageous attacks” on Palin’s family. The McCain people don’t cite specifics, because there are no specifics to cite. What newsworthy Democrat has ventured any personal criticism of Palin or any member of her family? What serious news outlet has done any such thing?

I hear McCain’s amen chorus screaming, “Lipstick on a pig! Lipstick on a pig!” But they’re well aware that Obama was unambiguously talking about McCain’s economic ideas, not his running mate. It seems incomprehensible that the McCain campaign would make so much noise about an allegation that clearly doesn’t hold a drop of water—until you realize that the noise is the whole point.

As long as people are talking about barnyard beauty tips, they’re not talking about substance. Any day spent arguing about meaningless ephemera is a small but significant victory for a campaign that has nothing to say....(Click here for remainder).


Country First? Hardly

By David Sirota

Let’s say that you enjoyed watching last week’s Republican National Convention on television.

Let’s say you drank in the almost uniformly white faces and the regimented revivalism, you clapped when speakers belittled Barack Obama’s work organizing impoverished communities, indeed, you cheered with Rudy Giuliani’s zinger, “Drill, baby, drill!”

Let’s further stipulate that you were not at all discomfited by the convention’s incessant “Country First” mantra that defines loyalty to America as lock-step fealty to the Republican Party.

Let’s say—for sheer argument’s sake, of course—all of this is true. What, then, of the substance? Stripping away the partisanship, passion and propaganda, what about the veracity of the claim that the GOP puts this country first?

Well, let’s just say it’s a little dicey.

On national security, the Republican Party advocates continuing to force thousands of young Americans to risk life and limb refereeing Iraq’s civil war. Though the party’s slogan hearkens back to conservatives’ “America First” isolationism, the GOP nonetheless supports spending $12 billion a month on the war—money needed at home.

Same story on economics. In 2004, the Republican White House called outsourcing “a plus.” In 2006, the Republican commander in chief OK’d the sale of critical infrastructure to foreign dictators. And today the Republican presidential nominee is demanding more NAFTA-style trade pacts that eliminate American jobs. This, says the GOP, is putting our country first....(Click here for remainder).


Lame You Can Believe It

By E.J. Dionne

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—It has been hard to remember lately that the country is in the midst of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes.

The campaign is a blur of flying pieces of junk, lipstick and gutter-style attacks. John McCain’s deceptions about Barack Obama’s views and Sarah Palin’s flip-flopping suggest an unedifying scuffle over a city council seat.

The media bear a heavy responsibility because “balance” does not require giving equal time to truth and lies. So does McCain, who is running a disgraceful, dishonorable campaign of distraction and diversion.

But Obama bears responsibility, too: His task is to remind Americans that the stakes in this election are far higher than the matter of who said what and when about Palin. He isn’t doing it.

Yes, Democrats are a gloomy lot, inclined to see catastrophe around every corner and the other side as tougher, meaner and more manipulative. Imbibing this potion of false pride about Democratic virtue mixed with paranoia about the Republicans’ dark genius only leads to defeat followed by glorious disillusionment.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that Obama has lost control of this campaign. And he will not seize back the initiative with the sometimes halting, conversational and sadly reluctant sound bites he has been producing. The excitement Obama created at the beginning of the year has vanished, perhaps because his campaign (and, yes, many columnists) bought into the McCain campaign’s demonization of the big rallies. Absurdly, McCain is now contesting the terrain of change—and doing so at celebrity rallies of his own....(Click here for remainder).


Two Bridges to Nowhere

By Joe Conason

Is Sarah Palin the implacable pit bull of government reform, lipstick and all? The latest Republican campaign commercial pictures her in heroic terms at the side of John McCain as one of the “original mavericks,” declaring that she “stopped the bridge to nowhere.”

The fate of that canceled span—which would have used nearly $400 million in federal funds to connect the tiny Alaskan island of Gravina to the mainland town of Ketchikan and the rest of the state—is meant to symbolize her aggressive opposition to wasteful spending.

But even cursory examination shows that her posturing is wildly exaggerated and her campaign claims veer toward fraud. Details are important in these matters, especially when the lobbyists and consultants surrounding McCain are so intent on blurring the truth.

The true story of the Ketchikan bridge begins, like most fables of Alaskan government run amok, in the offices of Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, the formerly powerful, ethically dubious Republican duo brought low by investigation and indictment. Although her gubernatorial campaign Web site once featured endorsements from both men, Gov. Palin has long since dumped them as inconvenient baggage. But her appetite for the federal dollars they brought back to her state was no less voracious than theirs—until the state’s reputation for budgetary gluttony became embarrassing to her....(Click here for remainder).


Analysis: McCain's campaign claims skirt facts as strategists watch voters' reactions

By Charles Babington
AP News

The "Straight Talk Express" has detoured into doublespeak.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a self-proclaimed tell-it-like-it-is maverick, keeps saying his running mate, Sarah Palin, killed the federally funded Bridge to Nowhere when, in fact, she pulled her support only after the project became a political embarrassment. He accuses Democrat Barack Obama of calling Palin a pig, which did not happen. He says Obama would raise nearly everyone's taxes, when independent groups say 80 percent of families would get tax cuts instead.

Even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain's skirting of facts has stood out this week. It has infuriated and flustered Obama's campaign, and campaign pros are watching to see how much voters disregard news reports noting factual holes in the claims.

McCain's persistence in pushing dubious claims is all the more notable because many political insiders consider him one of the greatest living victims of underhanded campaigning. Locked in a tight race with George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, McCain was rocked in South Carolina by a whisper campaign claiming he had fathered an illegitimate black child and was mentally unstable.

Shaken by the experience, McCain denounced less-than-truthful campaigning. Vowing to live up to his "straight talk" motto, he apologized for his reluctance to criticize the flying of the Confederate flag at South Carolina's state Capitol in a bid for votes. When the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked the military record of Democrat and fellow Navy officer John Kerry in 2004, McCain called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable."...(Click here for remainder).


Umm...Homina, homina, homina...Who you talking to Gramps?


“America really does stand for justice, liberty, and freedom for all.”


Whether It's Sex or Drugs, Abstinence-Only Education Simply Doesn't Work

Maybe the fundies should think of this before they try to brainwash their children.

Abstinence-only education simply doesn't work, no matter how much Sarah Palin or George Bush dream it will.

By Marsha Rosenbaum & Jennifer Kern

Recently it was revealed that the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican vice presidential nominee is pregnant. This announcement was particularly ironic, as the GOP platform advocates abstinence-only sex education.

This high-profile pregnancy is stirring a larger debate about how sex education is taught in the United States. What is clear is that despite strong messages urging young people to abstain, most teenagers, even those who have been admonished time and time again, are not listening.

Our national surveys confirm doubts about abstinence-only education. Last year, a study commissioned by Congress revealed that students who receive abstinence-only sex education are just as likely to be sexually active as those who do not. This research is consistent with the conclusions reached two years ago by a joint Yale-Columbia study of teenage virginity pledges.

The same is true for the other big concern about teenagers: drug use. Look at abstinence-only drug education, and you get the same disappointing results as with sex education. More than two decades ago, as part of the escalating war on drugs and Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign, Congress implemented the 1986 Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. Federally funded drug prevention education for teens was mandated to adhere to a strict abstinence-only message.

And so it is today, with information going beyond pure abstention -- such as the need for designated driver programs -- just as verboten as discussions of condoms in abstinence-only sex education....(Click here for remainder of post).



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