September 29, 2008

Why People Still Vote for Republicans


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Now that the Republicans have devastated the economy, robbed us of our life savings, eradicated our Constitution, disemboweled every government agency (and restaffed them with ideological idiots), devastated the environment, established a police state, ruined relations with most of the world, brought torture back into fashion, and have chosen The Ditz of the North for a position one mole away from the Presidency, one might begin to wonder how anyone in good conscience would still choose to be one.

Psychologist Jonathan Haidt thinks he has the answer -- it is because liberals and conservatives weigh the various aspects of innate moral values differently. From cross cultural studies, he has parsed out the "five foundations of morality" . They are: 1) harm/care (empathy) 2)fairness/ reciprocity 3) ingroup loyalty (tribal psychology) 4)authority/respect and 5) purity/sanctity (which can be attained by what you do with or put into your body). Sadly, he doesn't make judgments about which of these innate values are the products of higher consciousness and which are products of the primitive mind, but all of us here at Dakota certainly do. Is it any surprise that liberals value empathy and fairness over ingroup loyalty, authority and purity. We think not. Haidt also believes that his studies will lead to greater understanding between Democrats and Republicans. We think not.

Test your own morals if you feel so inclined. Then ask yourself if you think muttering "horseshit" before a national audience of 52.4 million people is immoral or just uncouth and impulsive.

Photo note: Ah, a metaphorophoto, however incomplete: Opening the folds of the fan of patriotism, a white flower for purity, green grass for empathy with the earth, and a beam of light to illuminate the subject.

Posted by Dakota at 09:31 AM

September 26, 2008

From The Inbox


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From this morning's email via angrybear and a few others:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a
transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had
crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion
dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most
profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may
know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the
1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds
as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names
of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family
lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person
who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account
numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for
this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with
detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the

Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Treasury Paulson

and a link to the LA Times article about "The Great Schlep" excerpted here:

If you need proof that this is the most important election in a generation, get this: Jewish grandkids are flying to Florida to visit their grandparents -- without being guilted into it -- to talk their elders out of voting for John McCain.

The Jewish Council for Education and Research -- a new pro-Obama political action committee -- is organizing "The Great Schlep," in which hundreds of Jews will make the Southern exodus on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 10-13. They will travel to the Fort Lauderdale area, where they will visit their grandparents, organize political salons in their condos and eat incredibly bad food. The grandkids also will meet up at a bar one night, which -- if the psychological impact of spending a few days with frail, elderly, widowed relatives is taken fully into account -- may do more to repopulate the world's Jews than the creation of Israel.

More than hockey moms or gun-toting God lovers, old Floridian Jews are the most important demographic in this election. They make up about 5% of the voters in a swing state with 27 electoral college votes. They never miss so much as a condo board vote and are normally reliable Democrats.....

To persuade Mama Ann to vote for Obama, I used many of the talking points suggested to me by Great Schlep organizer Mik Moore. These included the fact that Obama went to Columbia and Harvard, and McCain got bad grades in college; that Obama has been criticized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson; and that Obama ran the business side of his campaign better than any other candidate. I did not know that I could be so racially offended by my own people.

Thanks for the forwards, all you ebuddies.

Be sure to watch Bill Clinton on Jon Stewart - scroll over to segment 2 - for an intelligent perspective on the economic crisis, though he doesn't take any responsibility for his parting gesture. Many leading economists weigh in , as doesSarah Pee (ya might as well know what she's thinkin' 'bout Russia while we're at it.

Photo note: Let's face it, a photo of a stack of email would not be as aesthetically pleasing

Posted by Dakota at 08:39 AM

September 24, 2008

The Bailout Is More Evil Than You Imagined


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All of us here at Dakota have been quite undone by the events of the last few days. Expression just wasn't flowing Forgive our silence.

Naturally we've been gathering a lengthy list of links to complex economic explanations for your perusual, which you can click on in your spare time.

Here's what you really need to know about the the bailout plan.

1. The Neocons/corporatocracy knew this financial crisis was on it's way (just like they knew about the Savings and Loan Crisis, Enron and probably 9/11 ) They didn't do a damn thing to stop it, because they figured that it would be a perfectomongo Shock Doctrine moment. Isn't the timing special, just before the election?

2. This kind of crisis scares the bejesus out of most of us here on earth. Taking advantage of our adrenalized states, the corporatocracy tells us that this crisis must be be fixed immediately, no dallying for silly things like reading legislation, expert consultation or debate -- quick, before anyone has a moment to consider -- Pressure pressure pressure, lie lie lie

3. They ask for $700 billion the largest amount of money they dare, and act like this will resolve the "problem".

4. Presto! They have created a perfect plan to rob the Treasury (once again) - just in case the Republicans don't win this election -- Every man, woman and child in the USofA will each be giving $2300 directly to the folks that got us into this trouble in the first place

5. The criminals who caused the crisis will now be in charge of $700 billion with no stipulations to "dirty up" the legislation, no oversight, and no cap on bonuses for them or their friends.

7. If their mission is accomplished, money will land in all the Right (in the most literal sense) pockets, and Obama will be left with no funds to implement any program he proposed, especially the $1000 tax cut for the middle class. The under informed voter will think he's a liar and an incompetent

8. The corporate neoconservative faction will wait four years aboard their yachts, criticizing a hamstrung Obama. By then low information voters will surely "want a change" and the neoconservatives can step back into power and destroy any progress Obama has made.

We were really frosted when we figured this out.

It'll all be okay Bush sobered up enough to address the nation last night, McCain is preparing to step in and Sarah Pee is right behind him

Photo note: Out of the blue, snakes in the sky, creepy kiting

Addendum: another deep analysis
Addendum #2: Paul Krugman "My sneaking suspicion is that they started with a determination to throw money at the financial industry, and everything else is just an excuse. "
Addendum #3: Bailout could deepen crisis
Addendum #4: Campbell Brown on accountability

Posted by Dakota at 07:25 PM

September 15, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Vote for Obama


In order to distract you from the fact that you may have lost your life savings today, we have excerpted a juicy snippet from The Washington Post piece entitled "A Tangled Story of Addicton - Consequences of Cindy McCain's Drug Abuse Were More Complex Than She Has Portrayed" though the entire article is worth your full attention:

Her misuse of painkillers prompted an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and local prosecutors that put her in legal jeopardy. A doctor with McCain's medical charity who supplied her with prescriptions for the drugs lost his license and never practiced again. The charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team, eventually had to be closed in the wake of the controversy. Her husband was forced to admit publicly that he was absent much of the time she was having problems and was not aware of them.

"So many lives were damaged by this," said Jeanette Johnson, whose husband, John Max Johnson, surrendered his medical license. "A lot of good people. Doctors who volunteered their time. My husband. I cannot begin to tell you how painful it was. We moved far away to start over."

Cindy's addiction also compromised her hubby in a number of ways . Matt Stoller asks "Did McCain Tamper With the Drug Enforcement Agency to Protect His Career?"

Gosinski was an employee of Cindy McCain who helped her run her charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT), in the early to mid-1990s. At the time Gosinski worked for her, Cindy McCain was addicted to prescription painkillers, taking between 30 and 50 pills a day of Vicodin and/or Percocet. She had doctors writing out prescriptions in other people's names, including Gosinski's. When Gosinski found one of the prescription slips, he got angry, and Cindy had him fired. This part of the story is just kind of sad, but not damning; Cindy McCain was a lonely and bored wife who turned to drugs in place of what was a loveless marriage full of fundraisers and, in all likelihood, various infidelities (or so were the rumors Gosinski heard at the time).

Now, it begins to get dangerous and vicious after Gosinksi was fired. At first the McCains said they'd help him find a job, but it became clear to Gosinksi that McCain was using his political connections to blackball him from another job in Republican politics in Arizona. So he sued the McCains for wrongful termination and went to the Drug Enforcement Agency to find out the legal repercussions of having prescriptions for painkillers written in his name. To retaliate, McCain then had his political ally Rick Romley open an extortion investigation against Gosinksi. In the course of that investigation, it was revealed that the DEA was circling around Cindy McCain and her charity. It's not clear what they were investigating her for, but it is clear she was bringing illegal prescription drugs around the world on a diplomatic passport secured for her by McCain's Senate office. ....

There are lots of unanswered questions, but the basic contours of the story are clear: John McCain used his position as a senator to help his wife avoid being searched by customs, and somehow his wife managed to avoid any charges by the DEA or the state (which has mandatory minimums in cases like this) on drug charges despite ample evidence. Did the DEA or the state not file charges against her because of political pressure? Did they keep this on the federal level to avoid mandatory minimums for Cindy McCain because of political pressure from McCain? Did John McCain and/or his Senate staff tamper with a criminal investigation of his wife and her conspiracy to fraudulently obtain illegal drugs?

But who can blame the guy. Serving a mandatory jail term for drug abuse could knock a girl right off the campaign wagon.

Photo note: Shhhhhhhhush

Posted by Dakota at 03:41 PM

September 14, 2008

Sarah P Fakes It ; Faking Sarah P


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Charles Gibson, the interviewer, asked her if she didn’t hesitate and question whether she was experienced enough.

“I didn’t hesitate, no,” she said.

He asked if that didn’t that take some hubris.

“I answered him yes,” Ms. Palin said

John Cole is convinced that Mrs. Palin doesn't know what hubris means.

He goes on to say:

And Sarah Palin is the distilled essence of wingnut. She has it all. She is dishonest. She is a religious nut. She is incurious. She is anti-science. She is inexperienced. She abuses her authority. She hides behind executive privilege. She is a big spender. She works from the gut and places a greater value on instinct than knowledge.

And most dangerous of all, she is supremely self-confident to the point of not recognizing how ill-equipped she is to lead the country. This from last night stood out for me:

James Fallows was astonished by the obvious signs of a longstanding indifference to foreign policy on Sarah's part.

Each of us has areas we care about, and areas we don't. If we are interested in a topic, we follow its development over the years. And because we have followed its development, we're able to talk and think about it in a "rounded" way......

Here's the most obvious example in daily life: Sports Talk radio.

Mention a name or theme -- Brett Favre, the Patriots under Belichick, Lance Armstrong's comeback, Venus and Serena -- and anyone who cares about sports can have a very sophisticated discussion about the ins and outs and myth and realities and arguments and rebuttals.

People who don't like sports can't do that. It's not so much that they can't identify the names -- they've heard of Armstrong -- but they've never bothered to follow the flow of debate. I like sports -- and politics and tech and other topics -- so I like joining these debates. On a wide range of other topics -- fashion, antique furniture, the world of restaurants and fine dining, or (blush) opera -- I have not been interested enough to learn anything I can add to the discussion. So I embarrass myself if I have to express a view.

What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the "Bush Doctrine" exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years.

For those of you who would like to join all of us here at Dakota in a Bush Doctrine Study Club, (you know who you are) Dan Froomkin and Glenn Greenwald are eager to instruct.

Or perhaps you're enchanted and have already purchased red patent pumps and knock off glasses, made a prepublication deposit on The Wildlife Recipe Book and are ready to rename your children. Well here's the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator - get started!

Photo note: The ducks aren't in a row and the lights are out - a psychometaphorophoto

Addendum: reviews

Posted by Dakota at 06:47 PM

September 09, 2008

While We Were Being Distracted by Ms.Pee


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While we were distracted by The New Revelations of Mrs. Pee (key word: oxycontin), Slick Dick slipped into Condi's pants, and bulldozed what little is left of her unspeakable legacy like it was a Palestinian settlement. Pardon the analogy.

We almost missed Greg Palast's contention that hackable Diebold machines are the least of our problems in November. From an interview with BuzzFlash:

Greg Palast:.....The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections -- not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. .....

When I say the 2008 race has already been stolen, about a million and a half voter registrations have been turned down. Even though there have been massive voter registration drives among Hispanics and African Americans, as the churches fill up the bucket, there’s a hole in the bucket where the registrations are being dumped.

It used to be that you signed your name -- bang, you got through, you’re registered. Not anymore. About 40% of the registrations are being rejected on the grounds that they don’t match citizenship files. Well, you know what? It ain’t the Soviet Union. We don’t have citizenship files in the United States. They don’t exist. They can’t exist under the law, which is the U.S. Constitution.

So how do you verify voters? Well, you don’t. About the only thing that could happen is if you require a passport -- and who has passports?

BuzzFlash: This is not conjecture on your part. You're very methodical.

Greg Palast: We've got the documents. We ain’t guessing. When I say they had caging lists targeting innocent black soldiers, I have the lists. I have the soldiers’ names. We spoke to their families. In fact, interestingly, "60 Minutes" came into our office and said, “My God, to prove what these caging lists are, you’re going to have to make hundreds of calls and spend hundreds of hours going through this stuff.” And we said, “Yeah, it’s reporting. Try it. It won’t hurt you.”

None of us here at Dakota are reassured just because the ethically challenged Department of Justice, lead by one of torture's greatest proponents, Michael Mukasey, is holding meetings on voting rights to appease the poor and liberal. Undoubtedly, we'll get this taken care of before November.

We haven't kept up with the latest polls. Suddenly the candidates are neck and neck. Naturally, the pollsters failed to tell us that all three polls were also conducted using a higher sampling of Republican voters than in July, raising a question of methodology....In a year in which Democrats have a lead of 11 million registered voters over Republicans, and have been adding to that advantage through a robust field operation, are pollsters over-sampling Republicans? "


And let's not forget the economy

Honestly, keeping track of Track is getting to be a full time job. Just ask his mother.

Photo note: Multiple representations of patriotism ( note cartoon characters on white flag) - "in and out" and the bonus "slippery slope" -- it ain't pretty, but it's a monumental metaphorophoto

Posted by Dakota at 07:17 AM

September 08, 2008

Scratching Sarah Palin's Surface


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We are still possessed by Sarah Palin, and it's no laughing matter. All of us here at Dakota are decidedly shrill on the subject of Sarah. None of us wants to have a beer with this woman, though we would consider dragging her to a PETA meeting.

Even Condi is lukewarm about Mrs. Pee.

Naomi Foner asks:

What kind of misplaced chivalry would keep the Democrats from calling Sarah Palin what she is? An ignorant, misinformed, inexperienced, bigoted fraud. And unless we find a way to do it, she will be running the country before we have time to turn around.

This will not be easy........

We're going to have to frame the argument in the same way. Who is Sarah Palin? A woman for sure. The package is nice, but the content is out of date and spoiled. If she gets anywhere near power we can expect global warming, the destruction of the constitution, the end of Choice, and books banned in our libraries. And we've got to make people understand this. And even if we can frame it this way, the question remains, are there many Americans who would care? Enough to sustain the constitution? Life as we know it?

I am terribly afraid that we are counting on good sense, and decency and it has gone the way of the ten cent subway ride. We are not thinking about each other. We are thinking about ourselves. Why else would we even consider a woman who tried to get her brother in law fired from his job for daring to divorce her sister. Who tried to get a local librarian to remove books she disapproved of from the library.

Politeness is not in order. We need to be scared. Terribly scared. We need to pull out all the stops. She's not going to self destruct in front of an audience who likes these things about her. Who abhors the clarity and thoughtfulness of Obama. There is no drama in it. There's drama in teenage pregnancy, political scandal and moose hunting.

McCain seems to have known just what he was doing. Now the question remains, do we?

Hopefully Sarah will continue to display her ignorance publicly, or worse. Unfortunately low information voters might not notice.

Photo note: Don't believe the label - a metaphorophoto

Posted by Dakota at 03:41 PM

September 04, 2008

All Pit Bull, No Lipstick


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Apologies. We are still transfixed by Sarah Palin, even after McCain retraumatized us and then promised to bring bipartisan cooperation to Washington last night. If that is his intention, he didn't get much of a running start at the RNC. Warming up the crowd for Sarah Wednesday night were Guiliani and the Mittster, who pledged to drive "the liberals" responsible for the current crisis in our nation out of DC and the media. We could get behind that. Just name some names, and we'll put our hockey moms on it.

Back to Sarah. Let's face it. A girl doesn't graduate from U of Idaho as a communications major and enter statewide beauty contests without learning to deliver a decent oration. The crowd loved her. It is a bit of a shame that she didn't fact check her speech before she read it publically, but when you're simply handed material by the powers that be, you can hardly be held responsible for its content. Suffice it to say that the words "choice" "change" and "entrepreneur" were slathered liberally throughout, or should I say used conservatively.

While the audience was lulled by her words, the networks just couldn't help shooting the family we're not supposed to comment on, sitting quietly in a row . Levi cleaned up nicely, as did the First Dude. Track was already spit shined by boot camp, ready to ship out for God's War on 9/11. Bristol was looking ever so much more pregnant. Proving that she is indeed five months along is crucial to quell rumors that Trig is her baby, not her brother. We're wondering if the bun in the oven is her second, or whether she'll have a tragic miscarriage when the spotlight fades. Where's Trig's birth certificate, Sarah? Producing it would have been kinder than subjecting your pregnant daughter to public scrutiny. Poor little Triggy didn't look well. He slept through the entire proceedings, passed floppily from hand to hand all the way down the line. Even Cindy had a turn. Good thing he didn't spit up on her outfit. The completely adorable Piper Palin made sure Trig was presentable, but, even then, he didn't stir.

As you know, all of us here at Dakota do as we're told, so we'll leave Sarah's family out of this. There are more important things than her alleged affair/affairs upon which to focus, like her political positions and her basic understanding of the Constitution

In a letter from "just another hockey mom", Sarah's Wasilla neighbor, Anne Kilkenny, describes Palin's fiscal triumphs:

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.

and her leadership style

She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness.

Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything
publicly about her

And then there's Troopergate and Palin's attempt to stall the investigation

Some people have a little trouble keeping their lipstick on straignt

Photo note: A pure white flower with something ominous lurking inside

Posted by Dakota at 01:48 PM

September 02, 2008

On Airing One's Dirty Laundry in Public


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An excellent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe entitled "Palin Family's Private Life Is A Public Issue"

We have been instructed repeatedly over the past few days that Sarah Palin's family and private life are off limits for public criticism. I'm good with that. She and her family should have the right to make decisions that reflect their beliefs and values. But there are two major problems with that stance in this case.

First, though Palin's family life and decisions are off limits for criticism, they are, evidently, high on the list of her qualifications for the office of vice president.

Second, Palin does not believe that my daughter and I have the right to make private decisions consistent with our beliefs and values. She does not believe my son and daughter have the right to be educated about safe, healthy sexual conduct.

My children and my family are every bit as dear to me as are Sarah Palin's to her. A politician's family life becomes fair game for open discussion when it appears on her list of qualifications for public office, and her private decisions become fair game for public comment when her public policy threatens my family's right to make those same private decisions for ourselves.

September 3, 2008

Thank you, Michele, for speaking so clearly to the real issues. Unfortunately, all of us here at Dakota are riveted by the Sarah P "narrative", and feel the unsavory need to pass on more juicy tidbits. It seems that Bristol was not well supervised , and the McCain cleaning crew didn't get over to MySpace to scrub it up sufficiently. The comments are worth reading. Let's hope Bristol curtailed her alcohol intake when she found out she was pregnant.

For your further edification, we are providing a leaked copy of the official Sarah PalinTalking Points if you haven't memorized them already from hearing them over and over and over.

Isn't it sad that the National Enquirer is the only news organization left with an adequate budget and staff to do investigative reporting these days?

Photo note: American flag on the line - or hung out to dry - definitely not a pretty picture, but perhaps a metaphorophoto

ADDENDUM: Paying the ultimate penalty for riding bareback, poor Levi Johnston, formerly of MySpace, Bristol Palin's babydaddy, has been "invited" to join his in-laws on the podium tonight. If your future mother-in-law is a lifelong member of the NRA, you'd just better show up and pop the question. Rumor is that he will support his burgeoning family as a spokesman for Trojan.

Posted by Dakota at 07:06 PM

September 01, 2008

SP for VP


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What's a fundamentalist in the spotlight to do when her sixteen year old's abstinence training fails and a little bundle of political inconvenience is on the way. Solve the problem the old fashioned way. What more can we expect from Feminist for Life.

There are those among the disaffected who think Track might have been ill conceived as well, but these things do work out in the end and they're really not all that important in the thick of The War on Terror.

However, McCain's choice for VP does raise questions about his staff's ability to do their jobs carefully, and Sarah's own judgment when faced with critical situations. Perhaps, she'll provide the internet saavy that his campaign lacks.

Besides, Todd will be there to watch the kids, and we're going to have much more fun with Sarah than we ever did with Dick, if Putin will just leave her alone.

Photo note: Fishy fem with a fishy background - a metaphorophoto

Posted by Dakota at 05:43 AM