An Open Letter to Ms. Ex-Governor Palin

(Sorry, I decided I needed a release so I went ahead and took it out on Sarah Palin, its getting cliche but thats just how life is sometimes.)

 

Dear Mrs. Former Governor Palin,

 

Its been a long time since we have crossed paths. By a long time I mean never. Look at how you've progressed in the past 2 years! From being a no-name half-term serving Governor of America's biggest state (geographically), the conservative bear-killin' wolf-shootin' bastion of Alaska and all of its majestic beauty.

Now you're big time. Making 6 figures shelling out 30 minutes of your time to bitch about how Obama is destroying the world, the Democrats are trying to enslave our children, and how Nancy Pelosi is the spawn of Satan ready to indoctrinate the hell out of anything that comes within eyesight of her. Yes, this is the America we've always hoped and dreamed for. Since Thomas Jefferson, whom I will refer to as Tom Jeffy to be more on your level, first wrote the Declaration of Independence and subsequently the Constitution was written thereafter... these values have been the intention of this republic ever since!

Its so refreshing to see someone like yourself exemplify these values and proper actions. Yes Tom Jeffy taught us all well. I remember his key principles just like it was yesterday.

  • Democrats = Socialism, Socialism = Satan
  • Jesus governs America, Republican Presidents are second to this
  • Everyone should be imposed with our values, because we're number 1 baby!!

Wait... whats that...? Hold on ... Im being told these aren't the things Tom Jeffy taught us back when he was alive....

Well. It seems that I am wrong once again. Well Ms. Palin, don't falter... for you are better than Tom Jeffy and the rest of the founding fathers. You show that you aren't afraid to make a complete fool of yourself by not knowing what you read or who your favorite founding father is. You aren't afraid to know nothing about the Bush doctrine or general Macroeconomics. You aren't afraid to flaunt your lack of political experience or capital in everyone's faces. You aren't scared to admit you don't have a damn clue about American foreign policy other than "we need to bomb terrorists because if a Democrat is in office we will have terrorist attacks on us every day."

Kudos Ms. Palin, for showing everyone why we didn't elect John McCain in November and why you still aren't taken seriously by the majority of the free-thinking base of Americans (i hope).

-Yours

Charles William Corra Jr.

Western state Republicans in complete meltdown

Colorado. Idaho. Nevada. California. From crazy to corrupt to down in the polls, the Republican Party is imploding all over the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Let’s start with Colorado. You already know about sexist Senate candidate Ken Buck and the gubernatorial primary between plagiarist Scott McInnis and finance cheat Dan Maes. Both stories have new developments. Buck was caught yet again making stupid comments on tape, referring to birthers as “dumbasses”. He was obviously right and I’m with him every step of the way, but it still won’t help him in a GOP primary. But it’s the governor’s race where we really get to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Former Repub Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Trancedo jumped in the race for governor this week as an independent. He he was interviewed yesterday alongside state Repub chair Dick Wadhams on Peter Boyles’ radio show. The interview quickly escalated into a public screaming match, and if you’ve got twenty minutes you really should listen. It’s  just plain fun. The interview starts about ten minutes into the clip with Tancredo being a rude jerk, but by the end Wadhams is making unreasonable demands and calling both Tancredo and Boyles liars. The two men said that Wadhams has told them he dislikes both McInnis and Maes, so not only is the public meltdown fun, it also reveals new party rifts. All of a sudden this Senate seat and this statehouse don't seem to be in nearly as much trouble for Democrats as they were.

If Colorado Repubs feel lonely, all they have to do is look northwest to my neck of the woods, Idaho. I’ve already told you about the state GOP convention, which passed a resolution stating all Repub lawmakers must sign a loyalty oath to try and repeal direct election of senators. That same post also described Sarah Palin’s birthplace in Bonner County, where Repubs are protesting the local fair’s use of the word “fiesta.” The crazy gets worse with ID-01 nominee Raul Labrador, who called for repeal of the 17th amendment before the state GOP did, says our energy policy should be “increasing the production of fossil fuels,” and, like the Colorado GOP and the man he beat in the primary, is a plagiarist. This is an +18 district where McCain won by 25 points – and yet Labrador can’t so much as win the support of the NRCC, the Tea Party Express or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Small wonder the endangered first-term Democrat Walt Minnick has a 16-1 advantage in cash-on-hand and national pundits are moving the race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.”

But what happens at the federal level is a symptom of what happens at the local level, and state Rep. Phil Hart of Athol, here in Kootenai County, is our own little Charlie Rangel. Hart is under investigation by the state House ethics committee for tax issues. He’s been late on paying county taxes for 8 years in a row, but the county should consider itself lucky – he owes nearly $700,000 in unpaid federal and state taxes. The man’s not just a tax cheat, either – he’s a thief. The liens include $13,014 in unpaid federal withholding taxes at his engineering firm. In other words, he took his employees’ tax money but kept it for himself rather than turning it over to the government. And the best part? He sits on the House subcommittee that affects issues like his but insists there’s no conflict of interest. Hart and the Idaho GOP are a bigger joke than the name of the town he represents – Athol. But not to worry, he says; the citizens of Idaho are better off for his crimes. “I think it makes you a better legislator, to have these life experiences.”

And of course, you already know about Nevada and the crazy that is Sharron Angle. After a series of missteps – defending BP, calling for the repeal of Medicare and Social Security – she is starting to face criticism from within her own party.

"Sharron's first six weeks have been atrocious," said Danny Tarkanian, who was defeated in Nevada's GOP Senate primary. "I think she would admit to that."…

Before endorsing Angle in her election fight, former Nevada Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich warned the Tea Party darling, "You're scaring the bejesus out of everybody."

Republican Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who backed Angle's GOP primary opponent, Sue Lowden, settled on endorsing Reid in the state's general election match-up. "Our state [would] suffer and we would never get anything done," Cashell said of the prospect of Angle being elected.

If California Republicans were hoping that maybe the San Gabriels would insulate them from the mountain west, they’re going to be very disappointed. Despite a new ad-buy from the NRSC, a new PPP poll shows that Democrat Barbara Boxer finally has a comfortable lead over the Palin-endorsed Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen at 49-40. Boxer hasn’t been up by this much since May. (The poll also found that 19% of voters have a higher opinion of Boxer’s hair and 14% have a higher opinion of Fiorina’s hair. 67% are not sure.)

This sure is a good month to be a western Democrat. Whoa, I feel good… I knew that I would now… so good… so good…

Understanding GOP Economics, An Exercise in Futility

Though I largely hold that trying to understand Republican economics is an exercise in futility, credit Martin Wolf, the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, for writing the single most brilliant takedown of the GOP's economic approach that I've read perhaps ever. In a column entitled The Political Genius of Supply Side Economics details the transformation of the GOP from the party of the responsible frugality of Dwight D. Eisenhower to the party of the irresponsible profligacy of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

To understand modern Republican thinking on fiscal policy, we need to go back to perhaps the most politically brilliant (albeit economically unconvincing) idea in the history of fiscal policy: “supply-side economics”. Supply-side economics liberated conservatives from any need to insist on fiscal rectitude and balanced budgets. Supply-side economics said that one could cut taxes and balance budgets, because incentive effects would generate new activity and so higher revenue.

The political genius of this idea is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

How did supply-side economics bring these benefits? First, it allowed conservatives to ignore deficits. They could argue that, whatever the impact of the tax cuts in the short run, they would bring the budget back into balance, in the longer run. Second, the theory gave an economic justification – the argument from incentives - for lowering taxes on politically important supporters. Finally, if deficits did not, in fact, disappear, conservatives could fall back on the “starve the beast” theory: deficits would create a fiscal crisis that would force the government to cut spending and even destroy the hated welfare state.

In this way, the Republicans were transformed from a balanced-budget party to a tax-cutting party. This innovative stance proved highly politically effective, consistently putting the Democrats at a political disadvantage. It also made the Republicans de facto Keynesians in a de facto Keynesian nation. Whatever the rhetoric, I have long considered the US the advanced world’s most Keynesian nation – the one in which government (including the Federal Reserve) is most expected to generate healthy demand at all times, largely because jobs are, in the US, the only safety net for those of working age.

True, the theory that cuts would pay for themselves has proved altogether wrong. That this might well be the case was evident: cutting tax rates from, say, 30 per cent to zero would unambiguously reduce revenue to zero. This is not to argue there were no incentive effects. But they were not large enough to offset the fiscal impact of the cuts (see, on this, Wikipedia and a nice chart from Paul Krugman).

Indeed, Greg Mankiw, no less, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, has responded to the view that broad-based tax cuts would pay for themselves, as follows: “I did not find such a claim credible, based on the available evidence. I never have, and I still don’t.” Indeed, he has referred to those who believe this as “charlatans and cranks”. Those are his words, not mine, though I agree. They apply, in force, to contemporary Republicans, alas,

Since the fiscal theory of supply-side economics did not work, the tax-cutting eras of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush and again of George W. Bush saw very substantial rises in ratios of federal debt to gross domestic product. Under Reagan and the first Bush, the ratio of public debt to GDP went from 33 per cent to 64 per cent. It fell to 57 per cent under Bill Clinton. It then rose to 69 per cent under the second George Bush. Equally, tax cuts in the era of George W. Bush, wars and the economic crisis account for almost all the dire fiscal outlook for the next ten years (see the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Today’s extremely high deficits are also an inheritance from Bush-era tax-and-spending policies and the financial crisis, also, of course, inherited by the present administration. Thus, according to the International Monetary Fund, the impact of discretionary stimulus on the US fiscal deficit amounts to a cumulative total of 4.7 per cent of GDP in 2009 and 2010, while the cumulative deficit over these years is forecast at 23.5 per cent of GDP. In any case, the stimulus was certainly too small, not too large.

The evidence shows, then, that contemporary conservatives (unlike those of old) simply do not think deficits matter, as former vice-president Richard Cheney is reported to have told former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill. But this is not because the supply-side theory of self-financing tax cuts, on which Reagan era tax cuts were justified, has worked, but despite the fact it has not. The faith has outlived its economic (though not its political) rationale.

The sad fact remains that too many Americans believe that taxes are too high (reality: among OECD countries only Mexico, Turkey, Korea, and Japan have lower taxes than the United States as a percentage of GDP) and perhaps worse too many Americans believe that the only road to economic prosperity is cutting taxes. In this they have been duped by the GOP but we too are culpable in that we have not successfully made the case that a progressive tax scheme not only produces a more egalitarian country but a more broadly prosperous one.

There's more...

NH-SEN: Palin’s endorsement of Ayotte bad news for both of them

Governor Pundit Sarah Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Repub primary for U.S. Senate yesterday. Palin is not well-loved in New Hampshire, and this endorsement is just one more that undermines her credibility as a Tea Party leader and enhances her status as a national hypocrite. (Ayotte’s Democratic opponent, sophomore Rep. Paul Hodes, is featured on MyDD’s Going on Offense page at ActBlue.)

Palin’s support might not be good news for Ayotte, for at least three reasons. One, a December poll found less than half of Republican voters in NH-01 think Palin is qualified to be President. Two, the Palin-McCain McCain-Palin ticket lost by 9% in New Hampshire in 2008 despite McCain’s previous popularity in the state. And three, she was booed during a high-profile ’08 rally in Laconia for referring to NH as part of “the great northwest.” In fact, as far back as last July the DSCC thought it would be a good idea to link Ayotte to Palin. Remember also that a national NBC/WSJ poll found that general election voters are overwhelmingly leery of Palin-backed candidates, at a margin of 52-25. Is this a case of Palin doing the DSCC’s work for them?

But then again, that’s probably exactly why Palin is wading into the race. This endorsement isn’t about Ayotte and it’s not about Hodes – it’s about Palin. Ayotte is closer to the Repub establishment than she is the Tea Party, and she’s currently the front-runner for the party’s nomination. Or in other words, she’s currently the front-runner to play queen-maker during the 2012 primaries. An endorsement of, say, Ovide Lamontagne might have made more Tea Party sense, but Palin cares more about 2012 than she does 2010. She pulled this same kind of stunt with establishment figures Terry Branstad in IA-Gov, Carly Fiorina in CA-Sen, and John McCain in AZ-Sen. Indeed, this pro-establishment behavior is starting to cost her with the Tea Party.

The endorsement comes at the same time that Hodes is going on the air with a second ad focused on Ayotte’s shoddy record as state Attorney General:

Kill three birds with one stone by donating to Hodes: capture an important Senate seat, embarrass Palin, and help boost a progressive stalwart.

C is for Contrafibularity, R is for Refudiate, I is for Irrational

In the above scene from the BBC comedy Blackadder Series 3, Dr. Samuel Johnson arrives at the palace, having completed his life's work, to present the now finished dictionary of the English language to the daft and not quite all there Prince Regent played by Hugh Laurie when Blackadder played by Rowan Atkinson throws Dr. Johnson for a loop by offering him his contrafibularity, a made up word meaning congratulations. One wonders what Dr. Johnson might have thought of our newest wordsmith from Wasilla, Sarah Palin. However unlike in Blackadder, the linguistic creativity of Sarah Palin is no laughing matter. 

This is far from the most important news of the day, the truth is that Washington Post story on the national security apparatus built up since 9/11 with little oversight and seemingly little coordination is a much more important story, and yet writers across the world have devoted inordinate time and space to the Palin story. At one point this morning, "refudiate" was the second most searched topic on Google. As I write this, it is currently ninth.

Over at The Atlantic, Marc Ambinder finds that Palin "is getting quite savvy as a politician: when she makes a mistake, or appears to do something dumb, she is quick to exploit her own misfortune ... not in a way that excuses her original mistake, but that alludes to the improbable fact that there is some in-joke, some secret code that the rest of us aren't getting." He adds:

"Palin knows how to humanize herself. That's a rare talent for a politician to cultivate, and one that she's getting better at every day. What's more, she humanizes herself by somehow ascribing her misfortune to the establishment that's trying to tear her down. Her audience loves it.

It is certainly true that "her audience loves it." As I noted in my first post on this topic to her adoring base, no transgression can melt the polar adulation they have for her. The only time that there have been rumblings of discontent heretofore was over her endorsement of Carly Fiorina over the more conservative Chuck DeVore in the California GOP Senate primary. But the problem for Palin is that is only her audience who is eating this up. Say what you will about elitist publications but it is not a good thing that The Economist, on the Samuel Johnson Blog on Language no less, would take to criticize Palin. Over the course of the day, the mockery has been incessant. Twitter feeds on Movies with Refudiate or Shakespeare twists such as "The Laming of Shrew" or "Mid Summer's Night Moron" have a deleterious effect even if her supporters circle the wagons around her. The blind leading the blind, or in this case the dumb leading the dumb and dumber, isn't exactly a recipe for success.

But there is another point that needs to be made plainly evident and it is a serious character flaw that requires frank, explicit talk. Sarah Palin is psychologically incapable of admitting a mistake. She could have chalked this up to a simple typographical error (though her slip of the tongue earlier in the week would have left doubts) but no instead we got an unbounded narcissism. Rather than admit an error she compares herself to the greatest playwright in the English language, a language which she does not even master.

The inability to admit a mistake is, of course, a common conservative trait, though this is not to suggest that all conservatives are incapable of admitting errors. Mitch Daniels, the Governor of Indiana, for example reversed himself on the privatization of Indiana's welfare system cancelling a $1.34 billion contract with IBM noting that the state could do a better job of handling welfare claims. But among the more ideological members of the GOP, politics means never having to admit a mistake much less having to say you're sorry.

Just look at where we are now: the budget deficit this year will amount to 12.5 percent of GDP; 40 percent of the Federal budget is credit financed with more than half of that financing now coming from overseas. In 2011, the debt to GDP ratio will exceed 100 percent. Social inequality now matches levels not seen since before the Great Depression. The U6, the broadest measure of unemployment, is at 16.5 percent. In at least five states, the U6 is over 20 percent. A record number of Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. For young African-American males, the unemployment rate is over 40 percent. Foreclosures rates are still climbing though they are expected to peak by year's end. And yet the GOP prescription is more of the same policies - lower taxes, fewer regulations, and a redistribution of wealth upwards - that put us in this predicament. Since 1976, 58 percent of all income gains have accrued to the top one percent of US households. Meanwhile, 25 percent of American workers earn a wage that puts them at or below the poverty level. 

One would have thought that after the near collapse of the US financial sector and the steepest economic decline in 80 years, the debate over market fundamentalism - the belief that unfettered, unregulated markets can deliver economic prosperity and a secure lifestyle for all Americans - would lead to at least some introspection and reflection over what went wrong. But no, what's the Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner's response to the rather lukewarm financial regulations that just passed? To repeal them. 

They have a blind faith in free markets but the blindest of them all are those closely associated with Tea Party movement, the Sarah Palins, the Michele Bachmans, the Sharron Angles, the Rand Pauls. Their faith in markets isn't rational. And their inability to admit even the most innocuous of errors suggests if entrusted with political power, they will drive us off a cliff for they are that committed to the failed policies of the past and are incapable of making any adjustments in their thinking. In short, they are irrational.

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