Will Sarah Palin Denounce Joseph Farah and the Birthers?

Earlier this week, I wrote about my refusal to link to Wikipedia because it uses “verifiability, not truth” as a standard for assessing the value of information.  But as untrustworthy as I find Wikipedia, it’s infinitely more credible than supposed news site WorldNetDaily, the unofficial online headquarters of the birther movement.

Masquerading as a news organization, WND peddles conspiracy theory as fact.  The company has sponsored Where’s the Birth Certificate? billboards and published hundreds of articles questioning Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president.

WND founder and editor-in-chief Joseph Farah is essentially a cult leader, encouraging his followers in their crazy-eyed obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate and furnishing them with whatever tinder he can manufacture to fuel the birther fire.  Farah’s nagging demands for Obama to produce his “long-form” birth certificate have destroyed any credibility he may have once had.

Friday night, Farah serenaded his cult of birthers during a dinnertime speech at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.

Farah started fine — heaping praise on the constitution, and urging America’s leaders to be faithful to it. He ended well, too, with a stirring exhortation to “take the offence in this struggle.”

But these flourishes were merely the bread in a lunacy sandwich — the filling of which were 10 solid minutes implicitly questioning whether Barack Obama is an American citizen. In 2012, he declared, every single election lawn sign should say: Show me the birth certificate.

Seen in the best possible light (and I’m being very generous), birthers are a group of people who simply cannot reconcile Barack Obama’s American citizenship with policies and beliefs they perceive as fundamentally un-American.  The cognitive dissonance is too much to bear, causing them to become unhinged eligibility truthers.

Or they’re guano crazy. Take your pick.

Either way, the culture of conspiracy promoted by the birthers should be unequivocally rejected by every mainstream conservative.  And right now, the best woman for the job is Sarah Palin.

Palin is delivering the keynote address at the Tea Party Convention Saturday night.   This is a perfect opportunity to put principle before politics. With just a few carefully chosen words, she can distance herself and the tea party movement from Joseph Farah’s distracting cult of birtherism, once and for all.

A chance like this won’t come again. Will she take it?

Martha Coakley: Victim of the Patriarchy?

My piece at NewsReal today examines the inclination of some feminist writers to immediately blame sexism for Martha Coakley’s loss to Scott Brown.

There are facts, and then there are feminist facts.  Here’s an example:

Fact: Scott Brown is a white male who drives a pickup truck and won the Massachusetts special election.

Feminist fact: Scott Brown won the Massachusetts special election because he’s a white male who drives a pickup truck.

Can’t you picture the GMC warning labels? Caution: you’re driving a tool of the phallocracy.

You can read the rest at NewsReal.

Boiling the entire Coakley/Brown race down to gender bias is not only shallow, disingenuous political analysis, but it deprives women candidates of the ability to sink or swim on their own merits.  Of course, that hasn’t stopped others from piling on with variations on the sexism theme.

In addition to the examples cited in my NewsReal piece, a POLITICO article about the “impenetrable” glass ceiling in Massachusetts decried “how mind-bending the gender dynamics in this campaign were.”  And in The Daily Beast, James Carroll wrote that “Martha Coakley was croaked by an electorate that could not get past her gender” in “Misogynist Massachusetts.”

When gender disparity is your bread and butter, that’s what an election post-mortem looks like.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see a smarter, saner analysis of Coakley’s loss at Salon’s Broadsheet:

But, as a lefty feminist, I’m calling B.S.  It isn’t so simple, and suggesting otherwise is dangerous.

It takes willful blindness to argue that Coakley’s loss was chiefly the result of anything other than a crappy campaign.

Clearly Coakley didn’t lose because she was the female candidate.  But her crappy campaign wasn’t the biggest factor either.  She lost because she represented everything the majority of Massachusetts residents detest about the Democrats’ agenda. And she lost because immoral, politically motivated decisions she made as a prosecutor came back to haunt her.

So does Massachusetts have a problem electing women to office?

The Commonwealth ranks 18th in electing women to positions in the state legislature. That leaves room for improvement, but it hardly merits the “Misogynist Massachusetts” slur.  And crying sexism because the better man wasn’t a woman is simply counterproductive.

Jim DeMint’s Phony Federalism

Sen. Jim DeMint on federalism (May 2, 2009):

We can argue about how to rein in the federal Leviathan; but we should agree that centralized government infringes on individual liberty and that problems are best solved by the people or the government closest to them.

Freedom Republicanism is about choice — in education, health care, energy and more. It’s OK if those choices look different in South Carolina, Maine and California.

Sen. Jim DeMint on federalism (December 14, 2009):

“Marriage is a religious institution. The federal government has no business redefining what it is,” DeMint says. This is one issue where he doesn’t support states’ rights; state government shouldn’t have the right to permit gay marriage: “Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that’s proven to be destructive to our society.”

DeMint’s ideas about federalism are schizophrenic at best.

In the first quote, DeMint takes a principled stance on limiting the role of the federal government.  In the second, he advocates a values-dependent brand of state sovereignty, a system of government in which powers not delegated to the United States are reserved to red states. At least if gay marriage is involved.

Note to Jim DeMint:  The road to hypocrisy is paved with fair weather federalism.

Dede Scozzafava and I Have Something in Common

For both of us, the Democrat was our second choice in the NY-23 congressional race.

Of course, we part ways on our top pick, mine being conservative Doug Hoffman and hers a First Amendment trampling sore loser who ran a truly awful campaign.

I’ll reiterate what I wrote earlier in the week: I welcome moderate Republicans in the Party. But there’s no place at the GOP table for a bully who uses the police to intimidate a member of the press. End of story.

Incidentally, I’m glad I didn’t add a “Dede Scozzafava” blog category.  As it turns out, I won’t be needing it.  Too bad I’ll never get back the seconds – SECONDS!!! – I spent memorizing the spelling of her last name.

Why Moderate Republicans Should Dump Dede Scozzafava

Three candidates are vying for the NY-23 congressional seat, but only two have any business running for office. And GOP darling Dede Scozzafava ain’t one of ‘em.

Conservatives have thrown their support to Doug Hoffman, a Republican running on the Conservative Party line, and he’s leading the race.  Now it’s time for moderates to dump Dede too.

Most of Hoffman’s supporters aren’t looking to “purge the party of anybody who doesn’t agree with us 100 percent,” as Newt Gingrich recently suggested.  In fact, my views on same-sex marriage are more in line with Dede Scozzafava’s than Doug Hoffman’s.  But moderate Republicans need to understand that the huge show of support for Hoffman isn’t just about wedge issues and ideological purity tests. And it isn’t a referendum on big tent ideals.

It’s about rejecting a piss poor candidate who heartily embraced the use of thuggish Castroite tactics to intimidate and silence a member of the press.  Whatever your views on social issues, that ought to be a deal breaker in America.

Dede Scozzafava cares more about her fleeting discomfort in the face of tough questions than she does about liberty and the First Amendment rights of a reporter.  That’s why her husband, a local union boss, filed a false police complaint against Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack.

Here’s how the Scozzafava campaign described the encounter to Politico:

This self-described reporter repeatedly screamed questions (in-your-face-style) while our candidate was doing what she is supposed to be doing: speaking with voters (remember, those who will decide this election?). And then he followed the candidate to her car, continuing to carry on in a manner that would make the National Enquirer blush. I have no doubt he intended to follow her home, too. His actions were reprehensible. Those are the facts.

While Scozzafava denies that calling the police was her suggestion, she expressed her support for the decision.  “I’m not going to be physically intimidated or threatened,” she said. “He has every right to ask questions, but he doesn’t have a right to ask them in the manner that he did last night.”

An audio recording later confirmed that the Scozzafava campaign lied about reporter John McCormack’s style of questioning:

In the audio recording of the reporter’s questioning played for The Associated Press by McCormack, the reporter didn’t raise his voice, but repeated his unanswered questions several times, including one about abortion.

Dede Scozzafava’s casual disregard for the crucial role of a free press is unforgivable.  It is a weakness that cannot be tolerated in public officials.

As if that isn”t enough to undermine Scozzafava’s appeal, don’t forget that she favors federal card check legislation and supported the President’s stimulus package.  You remember the stimulus, that $787 billion boondoggle that has created or saved a grand total of 656 jobs for Scozzafava’s home state. She also voted for tax increases over fiscal restraint often enough that her Democratic opponent is attacking her record on taxes.  According to John McCormack:

She won’t say if her no-taxes pledge means she’d oppose a health care bill that raises taxes. She refuses, in fact, to say how she’d vote on a comprehensive health care bill. And this summer her husband was in discussions with Democratic leaders about her potentially running as a Democrat for the seat she is now seeking as a Republican.

Exactly how would her election be a boon for the Republican Party?

Scozzafava has garnered the blessing of the Republican establishment and endorsements by heavy hitters like Newt Gingrich. Even after the false police report debacle, the GOP and Gingrich haven’t backed down.  They’re operating under the bizarre notion that continuing to dig will somehow get them out of the colossal hole they’ve created.

It’s time to put down the shovel because they’re dead wrong.

No laundry list of cherry-picked conservative credentials enumerated by Newt Gingrich will make Scozzafava less of a bully or more of a Republican.  Even Scozzafava’s far left supporter Markos Moulitsas may want to rethink his endorsement.

So let’s postpone the philosophical discussions about the relative merits of third parties and make sure Dede Scozzafava stays put in the New York state asssembly.  As reliably Republican as I am, when it comes to the NY-23 race I think those disenchanted Hillary supporters had it right: Party Unity My Ass.

Platitudes and Abstractions? Yes We Can!

President Obama will deliver his Indoctrination Speech™ to the nation’s schoolchildren today.  His silver-tongued litany of subversive communist rhetoric is expected to completely annihilate the morals and values of American students.  Complicit teachers trained in Saul Alinsky’s tactics will use Obama-approved socialist lesson plans to reinforce the president’s radical Marxist agenda.

Or something.

I know those are the right wing talking points on the president’s planned address, but I’m having trouble raising my conservative ire to the expected levels.  Here’s why:

1. The text of President Obama’s speech is innocuous.  Released by the White House on Monday, it looks a lot like a commencement address, sans the humorous one-liners and witty anecdotes. And at 2,540 words, this painfully long speech is almost 10 times longer than the Gettysburg Address.  Kids’ eyes will glaze over, their lids will grow heavy, and they will absorb nothing substantive from the president’s vapid string of platitudes and abstractions because it contains nothing substantive.

2. Varying degrees of indoctrination are rampant in American schools.  If you’re thinking of keeping your kids out of the classroom today, you might as well keep them home everyday.

I attended public elementary school in New York City in the 1980s. My second grade class was taken around the corner from our school to the gates of the USSR Mission compound to protest the incarceration of Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky. This was done without parental permission.

In 1984, after Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, my teacher excitedly handed students items from campaign headquarters. My classmates and I spent the remainder of the year with Mondale/Ferraro bumper stickers affixed to our canvas loose leaf notebooks.

From what I gather, partisan bias and philosophical indoctrination are just as flagrant in today’s schools.  That’s why conservatives are intuitively wary of a liberal president speaking directly to children.  So yes, I guarantee that in some classrooms there will be bias evident in the exercises and lessons that follow President Obama’s speech.  But I also assure you that there is informal indoctrination taking place in those classrooms all day, every day.  Shielding your children from political bias in the classroom is a laudable goal, but unfortunately, keeping your kids home today is like fixing a leaky pipe with a roll of Bounty.

3. President Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren is a distraction.  Conservatives need to remain focused on the health care debate and the far more important speech the president will make to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.

In the interest of moving on from this particular distraction, I propose that President Obama cancel his speech to kids and instead run the following video with the same message trimmed down to a succinct 30 seconds or so:

YouTube Preview Image

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