Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why are so many Republicans delusional?

I was watching Washington Journal on C-SPAN yesterday (sorry, their video server is down, so no link), when one of the callers said he could never vote for Obama because "he's convinced that there's Muslim money behind him." This seems to refer to some vague notion that he's a Manchurian Muslim or in the pocket of a conspiracy run by some sinister, shadowy Jews Muslims. It's similar, of course, to the claim that was being pushed by FOX News and the Republican Party a few months ago that Obama was himself a Muslim. My mother works with a guy that's also convinced Arabs have been plotting to put Obama in office for years.

You'll find conservatives are pushing the line that Obama isn't even African-American, he's really Arab-American. I guess being black isn't Muslim-scary enough. Here we see it at GOPUSA:

[Obama] is the illegitimate son of a Kenyan Arab; not of an American Black (so we don’t owe him apologies for slavery); and stepson of an Indonesian Moslem. Obama was a Moslem studying the Koran in a Madrassa when he was 10 and listed as a Moslem in his Catholic school later on.

Here is The Conservative Voice:

Does Arab ancestry explain Obama's Palestinian sympathy and opposition to deposing Saddam Hussein by force? ...

The Senator's background is: Caucasian from his mother [and] Arab African from his father. Before all the Obamiacs jump on the answer, the Kenyan Obamas are listed in the Kenyan census as Arab African not as Tribal 'Black' African. His father's great great grandmother was a Tribal African.

"Therefore by ethnic lines the Senator is 50% Caucasian, 43.75% Arab, and 6.25% Black African (from where the Senator gets his skin pigmentation).

Here's a picture of Obama with his "non-black" father:

Here's one blogger of some renown again claiming Obama is of Arab descent. Here's a commentator at World Net Daily (color me surprised) insinuating, as recently as September, that Obama really is a Muslim.

These people are clearly delusional. This stuff is so easily debunked, and has been so thoroughly debunked that their claims fall apart under even the most trivial of examination. So why is it so persistent?

But my larger question is why is this sort of lunacy particularly a Republican phenomenon? You don't see influential forces on the Democratic side speculating about whether McCain was turned by the Viet Cong during his capture and that he really is a Manchurian candidate. You don't see people suggesting that Sarah Palin's having spent her life within sight of Russia has made her into a Communist, her socialist redistribution of Alaskan oil monies notwithstanding. Honestly, I don't have an answer, why is it that this kind of foolishness is a purely Republican phenomenon?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How does this crap stay on the air?

Last week I had the pleasure of driving cross-country, which meant a lot of listening to the radio. I came across one radio show, which turned out to be The Glenn Beck Program. As most right-wing news broadcasters do, Beck has a radio show where he spouts off crap with no one to challenge him, usually telling us how smart he is in the process. It's the same with Limbaugh, Hannity, and O'Reilly.

But I was amazed at what he was saying. He was talking about Obama's economic plan, and allowing 401(k) withdrawals:

...he wants to make penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts up to $10,000. We should not be doing anything that encourages people to take money out of their 401(k). If you're in an emergency, I get it. If you are going to lose your house, I get it. If your spouse has died and buried them, you have to do it, I get it. But not to pay off your credit card bills. Why would you do that? Quite frankly it's not to help people. It's to enslave people. Because the more you can deplete your 401(k) to pay off things that are not dire emergencies like death or losing your home, you deplete your savings.

The right-wing complains about so-called liberal media bias all the time. At most, you'll find someone like Olbermann accusing Bush of being incompetent. I can't think of a single case, and I challenge someone to find me an example, of a supposedly liberally-biased news person accusing a Republican of actual malice in his policies.

And not just malice, but lily-white Beck saying that Obama, an African-American, wants to "enslave" America? That's just beyond tasteless. It's like accusing Joe Lieberman of wanting to start another Holocaust.

This week it was announced that Beck's show will be leaving CNN Headline News and moving to ... wait for it ... FOX News. Color me surprised.

Monday, October 06, 2008

My thoughts on Palin

Fig asks what I thought of the VP debate. I didn't want to bury my thoughts in the comments on a non-top-post, so I'm putting them here. Both she and David seem to have been traumatized by the debate.

Personally, it was about what I expected. I think by now it's pretty clear that Palin follows in Bush's intellectual footsteps: poorly informed, incurious, and ideological rigid. After the famous Couric interview Palin's main objective for this debate must have been not to embarrass her.

On the other hand, her comment that "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also" pretty much shows that she had nothing but contempt for the debate process. The debate wasn't so she could let the American people know about her track record, that's what the Internet is for. And newspapers. Which she should know, since she reads them all.

Palin's job in this interview was to not do anything embarrassing and repeat the campaign's talking points, which she did ad infinitum. Notice that whenever she was talking she never gave any specifics, just aw shucks, gee whiz, gosh darn, say-it-aint-so-joe soundbites intended to appeal to the so called "low information" voters, and I think that succeeded.

Fortunately, it looks like recent polling data shows she has turned off the voters that look for a bit more in their candidates than whether or not they would be a good person to have a beer with.

UPDATE: This piece by Radley Balko basically sums up what really bothers me about Republicans:

This growing anti-intellectualism on the right is alarming. It isn’t that Palin is dumb. I don’t think she is. It’s that she has no interest in learning, no interest in reading or experiencing anything that might challenge what she already knows she believes. She thinks with her gut, as Steven Colbert might put it. She’s a female W. And they seem to love her for it. The GOP has gone populist. Knowledge, worldliness, and learning are to be shunned, swept aside as East Coast elitism. It’s all about insularity, earthy values, and simpleness. Remember the beating John Kerry took in 2004 for daring to use the word “nuance?” There’s no room for complexity on the right anymore. It’s good and evil. Black and white. Us and them.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Drill, baby, drill

Sarah Palin wants energy independence. She wants more offshore drilling and Alaskan drilling. Here's her version on energy independence:

Energy independence simply isn't possible while we're dependent on petroleum. Alaskan production would be approximately the same size as the yellow areas.

Hat tip: Ezra Klein

Should I watch the debate?

I'm torn. It won't change who I vote for. On the other hand, if the Couric interview and the following, now-infamous SNL skit is anything to judge by, there is some possibility that it will be entertaining.