Thursday, October 16, 2008

The "Joe the Plumber" Story Hits an Amazing New Low

Just when you didn't think things could get worse for John McCain -- they go in the toilet.


So, you remember Joe the Plumber, who John McCain kept relentlessly bringing up. And up. The apparently undecided plumber who had complained to Barack Obama that he couldn't buy his own plumbing company because he'd have to pay 3% more in taxes. The plumber who John McCain lauded as an Everyman while oddly proclaiming "Congratulations! You're rich!" in the midst of a disastrous recession. The fellow who said that Barack Obama "tap dances better than Sammy Davis Jr."

That guy.

Well, it turns out he's the one gliding around the dance floor so much, you should expect to see him soon on "Dancing with the Stars."

You see, Joe Wurzelbacher is apparently related to Robert Wurzelbacher. Who is the son-in-law of (are you ready...?) Charles Keating!

Yes, that Charles Keating. The Charles Keating of the Keating 5 Scandal. For which John McCain was reprimanded by the United States Senate, for his involvement in attempting to illegally influence government regulators. The Charles Keating who John McCain has been trying to avoid have mentioned. So, he basically mentioned it 24 times.

(By the way, lost in all the attention paid to John McCain not getting the same career-ending censure by the Senate, as did the other four defendants - the reason for that is because he'd been in the House of Representatives at the time of his transgression. The Senate decided that they didn't have jurisdiction over him to give the same penalty. So, his career was saved.)

Anyway, back to Robert Wurzelbacher, Joe the Plumber's father. You see, Robert Wurzelbacher was an executive of American Continental Corporation, the parent company of Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings. That's the bank which caused citizens to lose their life savings and cost U.S. taxpayers $3.4 billion. As part of that scandal, Robert Wurzelbacher pleaded guilty to three counts of misapplying $14 million and served 40 months in prison.

And now, Lincoln Savings, Robert Wurzelbacher and Joe the Plumber are back with John McCain.

"Congratulations! You're rich!," indeed.

Never mind that Joe the Plumber has state tax liens files against him. As the court representative says, Joe the Plumber might not even be aware of the lien.

Never mind that Joe the Plumber says he wasn't convinced by Sen. Obama's argument. Given his background, why should he be?

Never mind that Joe the Plumber is concerned about a tax increase if his business makes over $250,000. After all, since any business has an estimated value of five times its annual profit - that means Joe's hoped-for business is valued at $1.25 million. So, either he has that in the bank or can get a loan for its value. (Assuming he can get a loan today, of course...). Though, now you see why John McCain gave Joe the Plumber a shout out, "Congratulations! You're rich!"

But then, maybe John McCain gave Joe the Plumber a shout-out because he wanted to give a boost to a friend's relative. Nice touch.

So, apparently these are the people who John McCain seems to keep palling around with.

Mind you, I thought it odd when John McCain first brought up Joe Wurzelbacher's but then never referred to his last name again. I thought perhaps he'd forgotten it. Or it was too hard to pronounce. Apparently though there was a better reason for him to quit saying the name "Wurzelbacher" 24 times. If only Sen. McCain (R-AZ) had remembered the pesky Tivo, where you can rewind.

Now, in fairness, John McCain might not have known than Joe Wurzelbacher was from that same Wurzelbacher family. He might have thought it was just some regular Wurzelbacher. And who knows, maybe they're not even related?

But never mind all of that. This is an election, and what matters is the votes. And in the end, if John McCain wants the vote of Joe the Plumber, then he'll likely get it. That was his point all night, after all. Of course, he might not getting the votes of many other plumbers.

The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters has endorsed Barack Obama.

"Obama will help us keep existing jobs and work to develop new, higher paying jobs here in America, reform our health care system, fix our ailing schools and make sure that the pensions of our retirees are safe," the UAPP said.

By the way, as long as we're on the matter of John McCain forgetting the name of Joe Wurzelbacher and who he's related to. There's one other name he forgot at the debate.

Barack Obama.

At the end of the evening, Mr. Obama began his final statement by thanking Sen. McCain and "Bob for moderating." When it was John McCain's time, he too thanked Bob Schieffer by name, then turned to Sen. Obama, looked at him, hesitated briefly, and then sayd, "And you."

At least he didn't say "Joe Wurzelbacher."

For the 25th time.

Original here

Wave Of McCain Robocalls Reported, Some May Violate State Law

The McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee launched a massive robocall campaign on Thursday designed to alarm voters about Barack Obama's past association with former radical Bill Ayers. The committee may be violating state law in the process.

The call begins: "Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC," before telling recipients that they "need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans."

More remarkable than the message (coming after a presidential debate in which John McCain said he didn't care about a "washed up terrorist") is the reach of the campaign itself. The Huffington Post received dozens of emails from voters who had either received the call or gotten a voice mail with a recording. Reports came from Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, West Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, Indiana, Delaware, Illinois, Georgia and even Canada.

Several readers in Minnesota also reported receiving the call, which could be a violation of that state's laws. Explains Shaun Dakin, CEO & Founder of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry:

"Most robocalls are supposed to have two things, "paid for by X" and a phone number of the group making the call. Most do that. Now, that being said, there are some states that have their own robocall laws and they are much stricter. Minnesota pretty much bans robocalls entirely unless they are introduced by a human voice. And that pretty much never happens because it defeats the point."

The RNC did not immediately return request for comment. Here's audio of the call:

The majority of responses from the Democratic and independent readers who received the Ayers robocall were sharply (perhaps not surprisingly) negative.

Vic from New Mexico wrote: "l just received [a robocall] from McCain and the RNC, calling Obama a 'terrorist' after McCain's claim last night that he's not running a negative campaign."

Ali in Missouri wrote: "I have already received two McCain calls. The one yesterday was relatively benign but the one today linked Obama directly to the 'terrorist Bill Ayers,' describing Ayers' violent activities."

Kimberly in Virginia writes: "I would like to feel shocked by the offensive nature of the message, but can't say that I am that surprised, given the Republican tactics of the last month, and the last eight years."

Kirk in Wisconsin emailed: "My guess is it will cost McCain 2 votes for each one he gets."

Multiple readers wrote that they had been receiving robocalls from Republican sources well before the recent wave, and that those calls were mild in comparison. A reader in Colorado said he recently received a call about Obama's association with ACORN. A self-described independent in Colorado said she has been receiving "an average of about 10 calls a week- almost exclusively from Republicans." Others recalled getting calls about Obama and his Hollywood friends.

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Final Debate: McCain's Deer In The Headlights Moment (VIDEO)

McCain mentioned "Joe the Plumber" almost constantly throughout the final debate -- even tying him into an attack on Obama's health care plan. But the move led to a "deer in the headlights" moment for the Republican.

"Joe, Senator Obama's plan ... If you are out there, my friend, and you have got employees and you have got kids, if you don't get a health care plan that Sen. Obama mandates, he is going to fine you," McCain said.

"I'm happy to talk to you, Joe, too, if you're out there," Obama responded. "Here is your fine: Zero."

McCain interrupted, asking "Zero?" He stayed frozen in the same position, blinking his eyes in confusion, as Obama continued his answer.

"Zero," Obama said. "You won't pay a fine because as I said in our last debate, and I'll repeat John, I exempt small businesses from the requirement for large businesses that can afford to provide health care to their employees who are not doing it. I exempt small businesses from having to pay into a kitty."

Obama then ripped McCain for proposing to tax the health care benefits individuals will receive from their employer -- a winner for him in past debates.

The Washington Post Fact Checker confirmed Obama's response:

McCain was wrong to state that small businessman "Joe the Plumber" would end up paying a fine if he refused to provide his workers with health insurance. Under the Obama plan, small businesses are specifically exempted from a requirement imposed on large companies that they contribute to a national health fund if they fail to make "a meaningful contribution" to their employees' health care costs.
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McCain Mockingly Suggests That Concerns For A Mother's Health Are Extreme

The differences of opinion surrounding the issue of access to safe and legal abortion, and a woman's right to choose to have one, have long been a mainstay of political debate. But tonight, I believe, featured a historical moment in that debate, because until tonight, I had never seen the matter of a woman's health given AIR SCARE QUOTES. But that's precisely what John McCain did, sneeringly, as he attempted to portray support for a mother's health as an extreme position, when in fact, it is a mainstream position -- ground that even fervent pro-life individuals often concede.

Reached for comment, Megan Carpentier of womens' issues blog Jezebel had this to say:

It used to be that McCain was leading the charge to reform the Republican platform to include exceptions for the life and health of the mother to their anti-abortion plank. That tonight he declared his own position extreme -- let alone called a woman that chooses her own continued existence over the potential future life of a fetus "extreme" -- is a pretty significant and rather disgusting charge.

I concur, absolutely and without reservation.



Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, weighs in:

"Tonight, John McCain showed he doesn't care about women's health when he described protecting "the health of the woman" as "extreme." John McCain doesn't seem to understand that women's health matters. He blatantly showed that he doesn't trust women to decide what is in the best interest of their own health. Barack Obama, on the other hand, stood up for women's health."

Original here

'Angry McCain' At Final Debate Already Famous On YouTube

As much as cable pundits seemed to agree that John McCain had his strongest debate yet this evening, most also saw his constant grimacing as his performance's biggest drawback.

On Fox News, Brit Hume charitably described McCain as sporting a "peculiar" expression on his face while listening to Obama. "I don't know," he then said to conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who agreed that Obama, by contrast, was a man of "remarkable self-containment."

On CNN, Gloria Berger predicted that McCain's grimaces would become an enduring media narrative.

Seeking to help that media frame along is a new YouTube video, forwarded to the Huffington Post by some Democratic activists, which cuts together McCain's most awkward moments to the sounds of the Gnarls Barkley song "Crazy."


As much as cable pundits seemed to agree that John McCain had his strongest debate yet this evening, most also saw his constant grimacing as his performance's biggest drawback. On Fox News, Brit Hume...
As much as cable pundits seemed to agree that John McCain had his strongest debate yet this evening, most also saw his constant grimacing as his performance's biggest drawback. On Fox News, Brit Hume...

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Secret Service investigating threat from Scranton Palin rally

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a threatening remark directed at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama during a political event in Scranton.

The agency followed up on a report in The Times-Tribune that a member of the crowd shouted, "Kill him!" after one mention of Mr. Obama's name during a rally Tuesday for Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

The remark came while congressional candidate Chris Hackett was addressing the crowd at the Riverfront Sports Complex. There is no indication Mr. Hackett or Mrs. Palin, who took the stage a half-hour later, heard the remark.

The remark was reported almost immediately on the newspaper's Web site and today in the print edition.

Times-Tribune employees who covered the rally were interviewed today by the Secret Service.

Spokesman Darrin Blackford said the agency takes the threat seriously. If the agency can determine who shouted the remark, it would present that information to federal prosecutors, he said.

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CBS Poll: Uncommitted Voters Say Obama Won Final Debate

UPDATED WITH FINAL RESULTS As in the previous debates, CBS News and Knowledge Networks have conducted a nationally representative poll of uncommitted voters to get their immediate reaction to tonight's presidential debate.

In the first presidential debate, second presidential debate and vice presidential debate, more uncommitted voters said the Democratic candidate was the victor.

And tonight's results have, by a wide margin, made it a clean sweep. Here are the final results of the survey of 638 uncommitted voters:

Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight's debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a draw.

More uncommitted voters trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about health care. Before the debate, sixty-one percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama on the issue; after, sixty-eight percent said so. Twenty-seven percent trusted McCain to manage health care before the debate; thirty percent said so afterwards.

Sixty-four percent think Obama will raise their taxes, while fifty percent think McCain will.

Before the debate, fifty-four percent thought Obama shared their values. That percentage rose to sixty-four percent after the debate. For McCain, fifty-two percent thought he shared their values before the debate, and fifty-five percent thought so afterwards.

Before the debate, fifty percent said they trusted Obama to handle a crisis; that rose to sixty-three percent afterwards. More uncommitted voters trusted McCain on this – seventy-eight percent before the debate, eighty-two percent after the debate.

But more trusted Obama than McCain to make the right decisions about the economy. Before the debate, fifty-four percent of uncommitted voters said that they trust Obama to make the right decisions about the economy; after, sixty-five percent said that. Before, thirty-eight percent trusted McCain to do so, and forty-eight percent did after the debate.

Before the debate, sixty-six percent thought Obama understands voters’ needs and problems; that rose to seventy-six percent after the debate. For McCain, thirty-six percent felt he understands voters’ needs before the debate, and forty-eight percent thought so afterwards.

We will have a full report on the poll later on. Uncommitted voters are those who don't yet know who they will vote for, or who have chosen a candidate but may still change their minds.

Original here

McCain/Palin supporters let their racist roots show

It was kind of strange, dintcha think, that John McCain came to the defense of his supporters last night after Barack Obama pointed out that people at McCain/Palin rallies were shouting out "terrorist" and "kill him!" in reference to Obama.

Now an Al Jazeera camera crew caught the honest sentiments of McCain/Palin supporters at an Ohio rally:

“I’m afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over. He’s not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our country gonna end up like?”

“When you got a Negra running for president, you need a first stringer. He’s definitely a second stringer.”

“He seems like a sheep - or a wolf in sheep’s clothing to be honest with you. And I believe Palin - she’s filled with the Holy Spirit, and I believe she’s gonna bring honesty and integrity to the White House.”

“He’s related to a known terrorist, for one.”

“He is friends with a terrorist of this country!”

“He must support terrorists! You know, uh, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. And that to me is Obama.”

“Just the whole, Muslim thing, and everything, and everybody’s still kinda - a lot of people have forgotten about 9/11, but… I dunno, it’s just kinda… a little unnerving.”

“Obama and his wife, I’m concerned that they could be anti-white. That he might hide that.”

“I don’t like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash… because we’re not!”

Yep, McCain must be so proud.

The rest of us, well ... let's just say those polls should tell the story.

Original here

Who Won The Last Debate? Obama Dominates By Largest Margins Yet

John McCain didn't just fail to get the game-changer he needed -- he was trounced in this third and final debate, if the instant post-debate polling provides any indication.

The results over at CBS show Obama to have scored the biggest victory to date: "Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight's debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-four percent saw the debate as a draw."

It is, the site writes, "a clean sweep" for the Illinois Democrat.

Over at CNN, a separate poll of several hundred debate watchers again favored the Democrat by large margins: 58 percent for Obama to McCain's 31 percent. Perhaps more importantly, McCain's favorable rating dropped 51 to 49 while his unfavorable rating increased from 45 percent to 49 percent. Obama ended up with 66 percent favorable rating.

Digging into the details the news is even worse for the Arizona Republican.

Asked who "expressed his views more clearly" 66 percent said Obama, 25 percent said McCain.
"Who spent their time attacking his opponent:" 80 percent said McCain, seven percent said Obama. "Who seemed to be the stronger leader:" 56 percent for Obama, 39 percent for McCain. And who was "more likeable:" 70 percent for Obama to McCain's 22 percent.

CNN also conducted a smaller focus group of 25 undecided likely voters in Ohio, and Obama won that too, 15-10.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, meanwhile, conducted some polling before and after the debate and here are his findings.

Before the debate:

McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable

Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable

After the debate:

McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable

Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable

Meanwhile, virtually the entire Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News, which was staged tonight in Miami, said that Barack Obama won the debate. Luntz termed it a "clear majority," but not one person raised their hand when asked if they thought McCain won.

Said Luntz: "None had made a decision to support Sen. Obama before the debate, but more than half supported him after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama."

On the flip side, The Page's Mark Halperin offered the following grades:

Obama a B and McCain an A-

Original here

Colin Powell Is Ready To Endorse

When Colin Powell turns off his TV after the final presidential debate, he will have learned everything he is going to learn about the candidates vying to succeed his former boss, George W. Bush. Powell has made it clear that he has been thinking about an endorsement for a long time but wanted to hear more from the candidates before making his choice. It now seems beyond doubt that Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama and thereby hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Republican campaign to hold onto the White House.

The recent ugliness of the McCain-Palin rally audiences cannot be lost on Colin Powell. And Powell is not one to ignore a 14 point lead in a New York Times poll. But most important for Powell and the press will be his explicit rejection of the Bush-McCain approach to Iraq, Iran and the rest of the world.

Powell's endorsement will be perfectly timed to dominate a news cycle or two. It will give Obama the one thing he still needs more of--credibility as Commander-In-Chief. And Sarah Palin's speechwriters will be hard pressed to come up with a condescending quip about it.

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Student Voters Pick Senator Barack Obama to Win 2008 Presidential Election

The votes are in and student voters have spoken: Democratic nominee Senator Barack Obama is the winner of the 2008 Scholastic Election Poll, with 57% of the vote over Republican contender Senator John McCain, who received 39% of the student vote. The poll, conducted every four years through Scholastic classroom magazines like Scholastic News® and Junior Scholastic® and online at Scholastic News Online (, is an educational activity that gives children too young to go to the polls themselves the opportunity to cast their vote for President. A quarter of a million students from across the country participated in the Scholastic Election Poll.

Since 1940, the results of the student vote in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000) have mirrored the outcome of the general election, except twice: in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy. In 2000, student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the Electoral College result but not the result of the popular vote.

Boys favored Obama 49% to 46% for McCain, while girls chose Obama more definitively, 57% to 39%. Rounding out this year's vote, 4% of students voted for other candidates, the highest percentage of write-in votes in the history of the poll. Student write-ins included Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Ron Paul, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, and a handful of votes for television personality Stephen Colbert.

Results from key swing states are as follows:

Colorado:       McCain 61%      Obama 36%       Other 3%
Florida: McCain 41% Obama 55% Other 4%
Indiana: McCain 51% Obama 47% Other 2%
Iowa: McCain 48% Obama 49% Other 3%
Michigan: McCain 40% Obama 57% Other 3%
Missouri: McCain 49% Obama 47% Other 4%
Ohio: McCain 47% Obama 51% Other 2%
Pennsylvania: McCain 46% Obama 50% Other 4%

"Teachers rely on Scholastic Classroom Magazines and Scholastic News Online for the latest news from the campaign trail and to help students learn about how our nation elects its leaders," said Rebecca Bondor, Editor in Chief, Scholastic Classroom Magazines, a division of Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company. "The Scholastic Election Poll is a fun way for students to apply their knowledge of the candidates and the electoral process and to get children excited about politics so they'll grow up to be well-informed citizens who vote."

Students from across the country voted through mail-in paper ballots found in many of Scholastic's Classroom Magazines, including Scholastic News® and Junior Scholastic® beginning in September and online at Scholastic News Online ( from August to October 10, 2008.

The Scholastic Election Poll is not based on a scientifically designed sample of the student population. It is designed as an educational activity to encourage student thought and debate, and to give students an opportunity to express their opinions about the 2008 Presidential Election. The respondents are self-selected, based on teachers who want their classes to participate and students who want to participate individually.

Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) is a leading publisher of educational magazines with 32 publications for grades PreK-12, reaching over 25 million students and teachers across the country. Teachers rely on these publications to enhance instruction in such subjects as science, reading and language arts, math, social studies, current events, history, geography, world languages, and art. Scholastic News Online (, the magazines' online companion gives teachers, students and parents an additional resource with which to learn about and discuss current events in the classroom and at home.

Please visit for more information about the Election Poll and Scholastic News' election coverage.

***For pictures of students voting in the Scholastic Election Poll and the ballot counting go to***

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Buckley Bows Out of National Review

by Christopher Buckley

Christopher Buckley, in an exclusive for The Daily Beast, explains why he left The National Review, the magazine his father founded.

I seem to have picked an apt title for my Daily Beast column, or blog, or whatever it’s called: “What Fresh Hell.” My last posting (if that’s what it’s called) in which I endorsed Obama, has brought about a very heaping helping of fresh hell. In fact, I think it could accurately be called a tsunami.

The mail (as we used to call it in pre-cyber times) at the Beast has been running I’d say at about 7-to-1 in favor. This would seem to indicate that you (the Beast reader) are largely pro-Obama.

As for the mail flooding into National Review Online—that’s been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against. In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless.

I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn’t want to put NR in an awkward position.

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review—a friend of 30 years—emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed”—the b-word has been much used in all this—my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.

Within hours of my endorsement appearing in The Daily Beast it became clear that National Review had a serious problem on its hands. So the next morning, I thought the only decent thing to do would be to offer to resign my column there. This offer was accepted—rather briskly!—by Rich Lowry, NR’s editor, and its publisher, the superb and able and fine Jack Fowler. I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.

My father in his day endorsed a number of liberal Democrats for high office, including Allard K. Lowenstein and Joe Lieberman. One of his closest friends on earth was John Kenneth Galbraith. In 1969, Pup wrote a widely-remarked upon column saying that it was time America had a black president. (I hasten to aver here that I did not endorse Senator Obama because he is black. Surely voting for someone on that basis is as racist as not voting for him for the same reason.)

My point, simply, is that William F. Buckley held to rigorous standards, and if those were met by members of the other side rather than by his own camp, he said as much. My father was also unpredictable, which tends to keep things fresh and lively and on-their-feet. He came out for legalization of drugs once he decided that the war on drugs was largely counterproductive. Hardly a conservative position. Finally, and hardly least, he was fun. God, he was fun. He liked to mix it up.

So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it’s a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.

While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of “conservative” government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.

Thanks, anyway, for the memories, and here’s to happier days and with any luck, a bit less fresh hell.

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