Evolution and Eden: Integrating Genesis with Fossil Records

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Kansan Governor Sebellius accuses Palin of Deceiving Voters

n a Thursday morning conference call for reporters organized by the Democratic National Committee, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius pushed back against the idea that Republicans have cornered the market on small-town American values.

"I live in the American heartland, and have been a governor [here] for six years," she said. "I don't know any mayor in any small town in Kansas -- and we have a lot of mayors of small towns -- who hires a lobbyist and goes after earmarks the way Sarah Palin did." On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin secured more than $27 million in federal earmarks for a town with only 6,700 residents.

In her speech, Palin made a not-so-subtle pitch to snatch the sympathies of small-town voters -- touting her own experience as a mayor, and contrasting her self-professed values with those of Barack Obama. "I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening," Palin said, referring to remarks Obama made at a San Francisco fundraiser earlier this year.

Sebelius would have none of it. "What I hear from these folks in the heartland, is that people want to know how they're going to afford health care ... whether they're going to keep their jobs [and manage] the cost of gas and groceries," Sebelius said. "Again last night, what we heard were partisan attacks and no real solutions. ... I work with a Republican legislature every day. And I know what people expect us to do ... is to roll up your sleeves and get the job done."

"There's a disconnect between the way she positions herself as a small-town mayor ... and an inside Washington strategy," Sebelius added. "The kind of persona she is putting forward is very enticing, but I don't think it matches with either her positions."

Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz hammered a similar theme to Sebelius, saying that Palin "had a real problem with the truth last night" and adding that "even her hometown newspaper said she stretched the truth." (a reference to Thursday's Anchorage Daily News headline: "Some Of Palin's Remarks Stretch The Truth.")

Schultz also suggested that Palin had simply done a good job of robotically delivering an address she had little hand in crafting herself. "Whenever I have had to give significant speeches, I've spent a lot of time with the people assisting me in drafting remarks, adding my own voice," Schultz said. "Last night, I only heard Sarah Palin's voice [through] negative partisan attacks, with no substance or vision of where she thinks the country should go."

On Palin's effort to position herself and McCain as reformers, Schultz asked, "Where is the beef? Where is the evidence? Sarah Palin is not a reformer, she is under investigation in her home state for the abuse of power in trying to get a state trooper fired... If her best example of being a reformer was trying to sell a plane on E-Bay, that is not my definition of reform."

Shultz also questioned Palin's readiness to lead. "To say that her experience as a mayor of a town of 7,000 people ... makes her qualified to have her hands on the pillar of American foreign policy, if God forbid anything happens to John McCain, to suggest that is frightening," she said. "What kind of experience does Sarah Palin have to sit across the table from negotiators of the dangerous countries of this world?"

Obama adviser Robert Gibbs stepped in to rebut a few points of fact from Palin's speech. Specifically, he cited her reference to family members who own a small service station, saying they were precisely the kind of Americans who would receive "three times the tax relief" under Obama's tax plan. Gibbs also noted that Palin "picked up the worn-out playbook of Joe Lieberman," by claiming that Obama cannot point to any substantive legislative accomplishments. Even some of John McCain's surrogates know, Gibbs said, that the ethics and lobbying reforms in 2007, "the toughest since the scandal of Watergate," were passed due to Obama's work across party lines.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

God Ditches the GOP

God ditches the GOP

This just in: Even the Lord has abandoned the desperate, shameful Right

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This just in: Hurricane of delicious irony slams Republican National Convention, flooding the streets of Minneapolis/St. Paul with rivers of savage hypocrisy as levees of evangelical denial and sexual confusion overflow into the streets, leaving stunned party members scrambling in vain for shaky moral high ground.

Meanwhile, clever looters smash windows of opportunity and steal valuable quips about underage sex and teen pregnancy, as everyone gets a very unsettling if not downright weird taste of warped pro-gun anti-choice elk-kabob conservative Alaskan family values. YouTube at 11.

Yes, the rumors are true. The cosmic votes have all been tallied, and I do believe we can now say, with some measure of happy certainty, that God appears to be just as sick-to-death of the Republican Party as the rest of us.

But let's back up for a moment, just to be sure. Let's imagine the hot 'n' febrile reaction if, say, an enormous storm had come thundering through Denver during DNC '08, if some gale force winds or bowel-shaking rainfall had shut the city down, prophetically timing itself just right to thwart the Democratic Party's biggest party and stop Barack Obama from making all sorts of stunning history as he delivered his record-breaking speech to a wary and Bush-ravaged nation.

Let us, in other words, imagine that "rains of Biblical proportions" had slammed the DNC to a halt, just as those nutball pastors from Focus on the Family prayed it would.

Can you imagine the joyful outcry? The righteous outpourings of "Praise Jesus!" from the scandal-plagued evangelicals from Orange County to Colorado Springs, with the corpse of Jerry Falwell itself rising from the depths of Hell's own restroom to yelp "Ha! God smites the gay-loving heathens once again! Now, who wants to come down here 'n' wash my back?"

Funny, then, the ironies of nature and time and God, no? For there was Gustav, roaring through the Gulf Coast and shutting down a large, sweaty chunk of the Republican National Convention as he conjured all manner of painful Katrina-esque nightmares, reminding anyone with the slightest sense of integrity of just how inept and dangerous the Republican Party has been lo these past eight insufferable years. Ah, cosmic irony. Sweet like candy.

Perhaps God has shifted political allegiances? Perhaps She has finally revealed her true liberal colors? Or perhaps She's simply indulging in a bit of the same cosmic Schadenfreude as the rest of us, enjoying the various miseries, scandals, humiliations, missteps, gay-outings, meth addictions and unmarried teen pregnancies of the crumbling GOP as they writhe and squirm and attempt to make this McCain/Palin ticket seem even the slightest bit palatable, as opposed to downright frightening. You think?

How else to explain the latest smack of GOP shame, the lovely news that Sarah Palin's unwed 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant? Even in Alaska, that's still considered "a little young" to be knocked up, despite how the Palins say the father, 18-year-old Levi Johnston, a self-proclaimed "f--in' redneck" who "lives for hockey" and doesn't want kids, will "do the right thing" by Bristol, which certainly seems like sad shorthand for "sham marriage to lock down desperately needed evangelical support for John McCain." Oh, you poor kids.

To be sure, it's moments like these that make it difficult not to take some delight, not to sit back and feel the ironic righteousness melt over us like hot Cheez-Whiz over an Alaskan mooseburger. After all, Sarah Palin is anti-choice, pro-abstinence, anti sex-ed, religiously fundamentalist, a creationist, about as friendly to feminism and women's reproductive rights as John McCain is to his beloved "gooks."

But here's the saddest part of all: Governor Palin knew. She absolutely had to realize that her daughter's unfortunate condition would come to light when McCain offered her this bizarre gig. To which we can only say: Way to shove your own daughter under the wheels of the GOP Machine, Governor Palin. Ultimate sacrifice indeed.

Ah, but perhaps it's all a bit too much. Perhaps you think this perspective is just too negative, ugly, far too similar to how the right itself operates, full of low-vibration energy and fear and abhorrence of the Other, all topped by a cheerless belief in a cruel, micromanaging God who is so petty and small as to actually care about who you love, or how you vote, or what kind of sex you enjoy. Let me say this: I agree completely.

So let's flip it around. After all, if there's one thing we've learned in the past eight years, it's that the cavalcade of wanton scandal and hypocrisy among the GOP is never-ending, unstoppable, far more the rule than the exception. We could be here all day.

So, on to the good news: A staggering 40 million Americans watched Obama deliver his spectacular, rain-free speech in Denver. That's more than the opening ceremony of Olympics. More than "American Idol." Half again as much as Kerry or Bush earned for similar speeches from years before and an all-time record for any televised political speech anywhere. What a thing.

And let's recall, for a moment, Obama in Berlin back in July, where nearly a quarter million locals turned up to see a man who wasn't yet even a world leader, but merely a candidate. Recall those stunning images of cheering throngs at the Victory Column, hundreds of thousands of eager, curious foreigners, all there to catch a glimpse not of Mick Jagger or the Pope, not of the Dalai Lama or Brad Pitt, but a brilliant young American senator.

That's not middling celebrity. That's not merely good PR on behalf of Obama's team. That's something else entirely, a world electrified by new possibility. Hell, McCain would be lucky to draw 100 onlookers to the airport Sheraton, and most of those would be EMTs.

Even Bill Clinton, with his effortless charisma and fantastic oratory skill, could never draw like Obama. This man fills stadiums. Electrifies not just Democrats, but entire nations. He has that rarest of political power, the ability to make people want to get out there and feel it, be part of the shift. Bush gave the world hives. McCain gives the world the creeps. Obama gives the world goosebumps. Simple as that.

You gotta admit, amidst all the GOP scandal and meltdown and Obama's revitalizing, meteoric rise to international beacon of change -- a guy who, in Joe Biden's words, has "grabbed the lightning" like no one he's ever seen before -- it's tempting to say even God has abandoned the religious right.

Then again, it's probably far more accurate to say She was never really over there in the first place.