Friday, October 31, 2008

Sarah Palin the Socialist: In Alaska, the Governor 'Spreads the Oil Wealth' Around

John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have made hay out of Barack Obama's alleged "socialism," the idea that Obama is a secret Marxist (Heavens!) who will unleash his nasty Leninist (of course!) plans on us as soon as he gets in the White House.

But way up in the Great Frozen State of Alaska, they have their own brand of Marxist-Leninist redistribution of wealth. But as Fox News (!) is reporting, some call Alaska "America's socialist state" because it routinely sends state oil revenue checks to its residents.

Here's how Fox News explained Alaska's form of redistribution:
Palin has—in touting her state's policies—used language similar to the "spread the wealth" comment made by Obama that has since drawn fire from Republicans.

"We share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs," she was quoted as saying in a recent New Yorker article.

Former Reagan Aide Defects to Obama

More bad news for John McCain: The former chief of staff for Ronald Reagan, Ken Duberstein, tells CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he will vote for, you guessed it, Barack Obama.

UPDATE: In another television interview, Duberstein noted that McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate after only one interview.

Duberstein went on: Even at McDonald's, you have to have three interviews to get a job.

(Hat tip to Tulsan, one of AT's most consistent and thoughtful readers.)
George Bush has run out of friends and supporters—even in Texas. A report on the declining Bush political legacy can be found here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Palin Latest: More Voters Doubt Her Qualifications

The Palin problem is getting worse for John McCain and the Republican Party.

Here's the latest from a national poll, courtesy of the New York Times:

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month.

Oklahoma's Tom Cole and the Incredibly Shrinking GOP House

Rep. Tom Cole, who represents Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District, must be gritting his teeth these days. Cole is the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP organization that supposed to manage the party's 435 congressional elections.

It's Cole's bad fortune that he has to work in a highly anti-Republican atmosphere, a time when most voters are fed up with the Bush Administration. Cole, a conservative whose district includes Fort Sill and other parts of south-central Oklahoma, is swimming upstream.

With only days to go before the election, Cole and his party stand to lose big in the House. Karl Rove's dream of a "permanent Republican majority" won't happen on Cole's watch.

Cole, who has an Ivy League education (Yale, no less) and a Ph.D. from OU, was optimistic about the GOP's chances back in March. He told the New York Times then that the U.S. "is still a center-right country, and I think this election will show that."

But the election map and powerful anti-Bush mood of the voters don't bode well for Cole and his team. By Tuesday night, Cole may be re-thinking his prediction.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tony Hillerman: An Appreciation

AT noted with sadness on Monday the death of novelist Tony Hillerman. He was 83.

Hillerman, an Oklahoma native, became famous in the 1980s for his books about the Navajo tribal police and two of its officers, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.

The good folks at USA Today published an appreciation of Hillerman in Tuesday's edition. Writer Bob Minzesheimer wrote that Hillerman won many literary prizes for his mysteries, but he was most honored to be recognized as a favorite writer of the Navajo.

One of those honors was being voted "the most popular author by the students of St. Catherine Indian School."

"I wanted Americans to stop thinking of Navajos as primitive persons, to understand that they are sophisticated and complicated," Hillerman once said.

Hillerman wrote 29 books, 18 of which featured Navajo officers Leaphorn and Chee.

UPDATE: The New York Times obituary has much more on Hillerman, his life and his books. It can be found here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Some Republicans Turn to Obama

It's true, Sooner fans. Some "proud Republicans" are supporting Barack Obama for president. 

How do we know? Easy—we read their full-page ad in today's edition of USA Today. The ad reads, in part, "Uncertain Times Require a Steady Hand." 

It continues: "Our country faces enormous challenges—a failed war, a crippling deficit, and an economy in crisis. We live in uncertain times, and we need a president with sound judgment and steady leadership." 

Then there's this: "That's why millions of Republicans all across our country are rejecting the divisive politics of the past [read: Karl Rove]. We are voting for Barack Obama."

Given that Obama's national poll numbers continue to hold, we suspect that some of the Republican defection is significant and will work to Obama's advantage next Tuesday. We wouldn't be surprised at that, especially considering the many weaknesses of the McCain candidacy and the on-going Palin disappointment. 

But Republican problems this year are not all due to McCain-Palin. Oh, no. 

There's lots of blame to go around, but a lot of it has to be placed squarely on the sagging shoulders of George W. Bush, a conservative Republican president who lacked both the vision and the knowledge to govern well or effectively. 

The Bush failures are numerous and appalling. They should serve as a powerful public reminder that the ideology of radically conservative Republican politics was (and remains) a disaster at home and abroad. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Palin's Science Problem: Confidence Not a Substitute for Actual Knowledge

Over the past eight years, the Bush Administration has elevated no-nothingness to an art form. Whenever confronted by facts they didn't like, the Bush team challenged the facts and asserted that their version of reality was correct, even when they didn't have evidence to support their claims.

Example: Dick Cheney's assertion that the U.S. would be "greeted as liberators" in Iraq.

Now comes Sarah Palin with her own brand of no-nothingness. Palin's exudes bravado and confidence, but it's a superficial pose.

As almost every thinking person knows by now, Palin is enormously uneducated on matters foreign and domestic. She displays a remarkable lack of knowledge, training or understanding of almost every significant political or policy issue of the era—as demonstrated her failure to name a single Supreme Court case she disagreed with other than Roe v. Wade.

Now comes Palin's profound misunderstanding of science, as people much smarter than Sarah Palin have pointed out here and here.

Oklahoma Writer Tony Hillerman Dead at 83

Native Oklahoman Tony Hillerman, author of many popular novels featuring Joe Leaphorn, Jim Chee and the Navajo tribal police, has died. Press reports today say that Hillerman died of pulmonary failure at age 83.

Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma, and was educated at the University of Oklahoma.

GOP Woes Continue: Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens Convicted on All Charges

It's going from bad to worse for Republican candidates. The bad news today is the conviction of Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the U.S. Senate.

Here's the lead on the Stevens conviction from the the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON—Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been convicted of lying about free home renovations and other gifts he received from a wealthy oil contractor…. Stevens was found guilty on all seven counts of making statements on Senate financial documents.
Stevens is running for re-election in Alaska, so the verdict may spell the end of his political career. And it can't be good news for the other prominent Alaska Republican, Gov. Sarah Palin, who has supported Stevens in the past.

UPDATE: A loyal Republican, Sen. Stevens has proudly endorsed his fellow Alaska Republican, Sarah Palin.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alaska's Leading Newspaper Endorses Obama

John McCain keeps saying that Sarah Palin is America's most popular governor. If that was once true, it seems unlikely now.

Many thoughtful Alaskans have sized up their governor in recent weeks—and they don't see her as presidential material. Here's the editorial judgment of Alaska's largest and most important newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News:
Gov. Palin's nomination clearly alters the landscape for Alaskans as we survey this race for the presidency -- but it does not overwhelm all other judgment. The election, after all is said and done, is not about Sarah Palin, and our sober view is that her running mate, Sen. John McCain, is the wrong choice for president at this critical time for our nation.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, brings far more promise to the office. In a time of grave economic crisis, he displays thoughtful analysis, enlists wise counsel and operates with a cool, steady hand. The same cannot be said of Sen. McCain.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Palin Latest: Her Immigration Position Baffles GOP Supporters

At this point, few Americans seriously believe that Sarah Palin has a deep understanding of the nation's most serious political issues.

Still, many of her most ardent supporters were dismayed to learn that Palin supports a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Speaking to Univision, the governor was asked to clarify her position on citizenship for illegals.

Here's the question and Palin's answer:

Q: To clarify, so you support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?

A: I do because I understand why people would want to be in America. To seek the safety and prosperity, the opportunities, the health that is here. It is so important that yes, people follow the rules so that people can be treated equally and fairly in this country.

Oops! This is NOT right-wing orthodoxy. Palin may be—Yikes!—soft on immigration!

Here's conservative commentator Daniel Larison writing on the American Conservative website:
I have given up trying to understand what Palinites see in their favorite candidate. If this does not drive home how malleable and unacquainted with the relevant policy options she is, I’m not sure what would.

Former Bush Aide Supports Obama

The Republican defections continue. Here's an AP report on the latest Bush acolyte to turn his back on the McCain-Palin ticket:
Scott McClellan, President Bush's former press secretary, says he is backing Barack Obama for president.

Poll: Obama Ahead in (Yes!) Montana

Democrat Barack Obama is looking strong in the usually Red State of Montana.

Here's the lead of the AP report out today:
HELENA, Mont. (AP) A new poll shows that Democrat Barack Obama could be edging ahead of Republican John McCain in Montana.

Obama is at 44 percent and John McCain is at 40 percent in the Montana State University-Billings poll released Thursday. The poll reverses others from earlier in the fall that showed McCain with a lead in the state.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Poll: Palin Pick Fails to Sway Younger Voters

John McCain likes to shoot from the hip. He's a "maverick," after all, a politician full of surprises.

But McCain's surprise choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate hasn't won over the skeptics, including a number of prominent conservative commentators. Palin has also failed to win over younger voters, according to a new poll.

Here's a summary of the poll results from AFP:

The choice by Republican presidential candidate John McCain of 44-year-old Sarah Palin as his running mate failed to woo young voters and even turned some of them off McCain, a Harvard University pollster said Wednesday.

"During the vice presidential selection process, I took a lot of phone calls from reporters, pundits and campaign people who thought the Palin pick was going to re-energize the youth vote and get young people to take a second look at McCain," John Della Volpe, director of polling at Harvard's Institute of Politics, told reporters.

"We now have data that indicate that the choice of Palin didn't help and probably hurt the Republican ticket," he said, as he presented the findings of a poll on young voters' attitudes.

Palin Latest: Governor's Halo Loses Its Shine

Sarah Palin's clothing $150,000 bill is hurting her image as a regular, small-town hockey mom, much to the chagrin of all those small-town Republicans.

The New York Times sized up Palin's clothing problem today with this spot-on assessment:
Sarah Palin's wardrobe joined the ranks of symbolic political excess on Wednesday, alongside John McCain's multiple houses and John Edward's $400 haircut, as Republicans expressed fear that weeks of tailoring Ms. Palin as an average “hockey mom” would fray amid revelations that the Republican Party outfitted her with expensive clothing from high-end stores.

Some Republican Donors Upset Over Gov. Palin's Expensive Clothes

Sarah Palin's shopping spree isn't going down well with some Republican big-wigs. One of them wants his money back.

Here's part of a report we saw, posted today on Politico.
The Republican National Committee’s $150,000 investment in Sarah Palin’s wardrobe has prompted some teeth gnashing among the party’s big donors about its political sensibility and a feisty debate among campaign finance specialists about its legality.

“As a Republican Eagle and a maxed-out contributor to McCain’s general campaign, I’d like my money back – he can still have my vote,” complained one irate donor on Tuesday.

“I’m not one who says a candidate shouldn’t wear fine clothes,” he added. “I’d just like to think they were successful enough in the private sector to have afforded their wardrobe with their own money, not the party’s or the campaign’s, which is really our money as contributors.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

GOP Spending Big on Gov. Palin's Wardrobe

The Republicans have been relentless in accusing Barack Obama and his wife Michelle of elitism. Why these snotty Democrats think they are better than the rest of us, the GOP likes to say.

The charge seems based mostly on Obama's eloquence and the fact that he was smart enough to succeed at Ivy League schools.

But Republicans have their own elitism problem. John McCain married the richest woman in Arizona and has seven or eight houses and 13 cars. (Obama, it turns out, has one car—one!)

Now we get the Palin elitism problem, the money spent to keep the governor lookin' good. Here's part of the report, published on Politico:
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

Rumors and Lies: More GOP Spin about Obama

Don't believe everything you read. That's good advice, especially in an election year. 

So AT was distressed (but not surprised) today to receive an e-mail today regarding the dining habits of Michelle Obama. As the Right-wing websites and radio talkers have it, the oh-so-snotty Michelle was staying at New York's Waldorf-Astoria (of course) where she ran up a bill of more than $400 on lobster and caviar (of course).

Good story if you are interested in bashing the "elite" Obamas. It just happens to be false. 

Here's the retraction from the New York Post's "Page Six," where the original story appeared:
The source who told us last week about Michelle Obama getting lobster and caviar delivered to her room at the Waldorf-Astoria must have been under the influence of a mind-altering drug. She was not even staying at the Waldorf. We regret the mistake, and our former source is going to regret it too. 
Oops! Unfortunately for the Post, facts matter. That's not the case on talk radio and on the right-wing blogs, which remain largely fact- and evidence-free. 

It's so much easier to smear the opposition when you can make things up. 

Read the retraction for yourself here. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

McCain Campaign Giving Up on Colorado

More bad news for the McCain-Palin campaign from
While Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado are still officially listed as McCain target states, two top strategists and advisers tell CNN that the situation in those states looks increasingly bleak. Iowa and New Mexico always have been viewed as difficult races, but the similar assessment of Colorado reflects a dramatic shift for a campaign that had long counted on the state.

"Gone," was the word one top McCain insider used to describe those three states.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell on the Direction of the GOP

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking on Meet the Press earlier today about the direction of the Republican Party:
It has moved more to the right than I would like to see it…. Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower.

'Rolling Stone' Rates the Cable News Guys

Recent reading: AT doesn't spend too much time with Rolling Stone these days, but we do enjoy the magazine's political coverage from time to time.

That's why we picked up the current issue, which features a cover story on John McCain called "Make Believe Maverick." We haven't had a chance to read it, but the story promises to be a highly critical article.

We did have a chance to read RS's story on the highs and lows of cable news, including its winners and sinners.

Some winners: Rachel Maddow, the rising star at MSNBC, who has brought a new intelligence that network.

Jeffery Toobin, the CNN lawyer who's now covering politics. On McCain's acceptance speech: "I found it shockingly bad." Says RS: But what did you really think, Jeff?"

Some losers: Lou Dobbs, CNN's "dubiously reborn…populist warrior," a "business blowhard" and "egomaniac."

Sean Hannity, soft-headed Fox News bully "without the showmanship" of O'Reilly's bully act.

Colin Powell on Sarah Palin

Colin Powell, speaking on Meet the Press today, has this to say about vice presidential pick Sarah Palin.
Now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.
Good point, general. Lots of Americans agree.

Breaking: Powell Endorses Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a long-time Republican, today endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president.

Powell made his endorsement on NBC's Meet the Press. Some highlights:
He [Obama] has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure.

Obama displayed a steadiness. Showed intellectual vigor. He has a definitive way of doing business that will do us well.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Palin Problem: Voters Go South on Sarah

No matter how much John McCain and the Republicans try, they haven't been able to save Sarah Palin from herself. 

A review of Palin's polling numbers shows that the Alaska governor is losing steam among the voters. In a New York Times poll taken September 12, Palin's positive/negative rating was 40/30. A month later, the poll shows Palin with higher negatives, a positive/negative rating of 32/41.

What's going on? A Huffington Post writer put it succinctly:
The more voters learn about Sarah Palin, the more wary they become. Once the focus of post-convention Republican euphoria, the Alaska governor is now viewed as a serious liability to the McCain campaign. 

Obama Draws 100,000 to Missouri Rally

Barack Obama has no realistic chance of winning Oklahoma, but his chances in neighboring Missouri are good—and getting better. 

An Obama rally in St. Louis today drew some 100,000 people to the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Missouri polls show the Illinois Democrat with a slight lead in the state. 

Speaking about the huge crowd, Obama said, "What a magnificent sight. All I can say is, wow!"

In the world of Right-wing fantasy, however, all of these Obama supporters are surely non-pro-America people (as Sarah Palin would have it; see earlier posts), probably socialists and maybe traitors (as Sean Hannity and John McCain would claim). 

Fear—that's what the Right is selling these days. It's the same line they've been peddling for years, but this time it may not work. 

McCain's Environmental Record: Not Exactly Conservative

Sen. John McCain has boasted about his environmental record, where he claims to a "long-standing commitment to conserving America's nature resources and promoting environmental stewardship." 

Sounds good. But the talk doesn't match McCain's record, as one environmental group has noticed. Their headline this week:
League of Conservation Voters Gives McCain 'O Percent' Environmental Rating 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Obama Derangement Syndrome: Radio Talker Grant Imagines the Imperial Obama Flag

Talk about idiotic, wing-nutty Talk Radio nonsense:

Conservative New York blabber Bob Grant's ignorance was on full display this week when he slammed Barack Obama for some peculiar flags behind the senator at a speech in Toledo.

Grant told his listeners that the flags distorted the actual Stars and Stripes and included a big O, a sure sign of hubris on the part of the oh-so-snooty Obama.

Of course. Obama is such an arrogant ass that he would make up his own imperial flag.

Except for the fact that the speech was in Toledo, which is in Ohio, which is why the flags behind Obama were not distorted U.S. flags honoring Emperor Obama, as Grant assumed, but the official flag of the Great State of Ohio.

Like we said: Idiotic, wing-nutty Talk Radio nonsense.

Palin Latest: Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan Dumps Sarah Palin

Conservative defections continue regarding Gov. Sarah Palin. Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush (remember "a thousand points of light"?), has weighed in with a verdict on Palin and her, ah, talents.

Noonan is not impressed. Not at all. Read it and weep:
[W]e have seen Mrs. Palin on the national stage for seven weeks now, and there is little sign that she has the tools, the equipment, the knowledge or the philosophical grounding one hopes for, and expects, in a holder of high office. She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? For seven weeks I've listened to her, trying to understand if she is Bushian or Reaganite—a spender, to speak briefly, whose political decisions seem untethered to a political philosophy, and whose foreign policy is shaped by a certain emotionalism, or a conservative whose principles are rooted in philosophy, and whose foreign policy leans more toward what might be called romantic realism, and that is speak truth, know America, be America, move diplomatically, respect public opinion, and move within an awareness and appreciation of reality.

But it's unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn't think aloud. She just . . . says things.

Whoa, sister. This is a no-holds-barred indictment of Palin and her fuzzy political philosophy. More importantly, it's an indictment of John McCain and his decision to select a vice presidential candidate wholly unsuited for the job.

Worse, perhaps, is the unqualified embrace of Palin in places like, well, Oklahoma. While conservative writers and thinkers are jettisoning Palin daily, here in the Heartland, she's still the cat's meow.

Being a hockey mom, a hunter, beauty queen and some sort of "normal" conservative, Sarah Palin is one of us, the logic goes, so we should support her.

This is foolish, we think, because it assumes that "a person like us" will be a good and wise leader. That seems unlikely. We really like the clerk at the neighborhood QuikTrip; he seems to be a regular guy. But he's highly unlikely to be much of a political leader.

Isn't it better to put our faith in extraordinary people, men and women of talent, accomplishment and skill? John McCain, Joe Biden and Barack Obama can pass this test. Sarah Palin can't.

Biden Pounces on Palin's Gaffe

As AltTulsa noted in our previous post (see below), Sarah Palin joined the Patriot Police today when she praised North Carolina as a pro-America state. 

Her vice presidential counterpart Sen. Joe Biden has now struck back: 
I, like your senators and governor, have been all over this great land. I've never been to a state, I've never been to a state that hasn't sent its sons and daughter to serve and die for this country. 

Folks, it doesn't matter where you live, we all love this country…. We all love this country. 
What? You mean Godless heathens in some Blue State somewhere can be patriots? Yes, Sarah, they can. In fact, they can be just as patriotic as you. 

Palin's Brand of Patriotism: Some States Hate America

Sarah Palin was speaking in North Carolina this week, rallying Republicans to vote for John McCain. Here's one of the things she said, as reported by the Washington Post:
Palin also made a point of mentioning that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country, of which North Carolina is one. 
This is rich. Palin, married to a former member of a secessionist party, suddenly knows where the "real" Americans are. 

Why they're in North Carolina, unless it goes for Obama (in which case they weren't "real" Americans after all). 

As for all those so-called Blue States, they must be chock full of self-loathing anti-Americans, people who hate their country so much they'd vote for a Democrat!

In Palin's head, apparently, there are two kinds of citizens: "real" Americans and "Godless heathens" who hate God, the flag, Mom, babies and apple pie. 

To Palin and many on the Right, no "real" American can raise questions about, say, mistakes in U.S. policy or inequality and injustice in America. Why such questions are downright communistic.

Advice from Sarah Palin to everyone who lives in a non-pro-America state: Shut up and start thinking (so to speak) like me.  

MCain Flip-flop No. 74: New Respect for Bill Clinton

John McCain advertises himself as a "straight talker." But the record shows otherwise, something the public is finally beginning to notice. 

Let's take McCain's attitude toward former President Bill Clinton. Talking last night to David Letterman, McCain defended his vice presidential selection of Sarah Palin with these words: 
In all due respect, one of the people I admired most was an obscure governor of a southern state called Arkansas, and he turned our to be a fairly successful president.
Oh really? McCain "admired" Clinton? That's not how we remember it. Here's a little reminder of McCain's 1999 "admiration" for President Clinton: 
I am persuaded that the president has violated his oath of office by committing perjury and by obstructing justice, and that by doing do he has forfeited his office.
Not surprisingly, McCain voted to impeach Clinton in 1999. Today, he "admires" the former president and uses him as an example of someone who can rise from obscurity to success in Washington. 

Never mind that Clinton went from Arkansas to Georgetown University where he was an undergraduate, then to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, back to Washignton as a U.S. Senate aide, and then to Yale for a law graduate—all before he was governor or president! 

Sarah Palin's credentials: Five colleges in six years, PTA president, mayor of a town of 7,000, and governor of a state that's substantially smaller in population than San Antonio.

You make the call! 

(Hat tip to John Dickerson of Slate.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Palin-Speak: Mangling the Language

Grassroots folks out here on the southern plains just love Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. She's one of us, they say. She's a mom. We can relate to her. She even talks like us.

Or maybe not. In fact, Palin's use of the English language is, well, troubling. No, it's worse than that. Like the verbally challenged George W. Bush, Palin has a difficult time working out a simple, clear and coherent sentence when she's not reading a script.

As writer James Wood notes in this week's New Yorker, Palin has a "peculiar habit of speaking only a half sentence and then moving on to another for spoliation, that strange, ghostly drifting through the haziest phrases, as if she were cruelly condemned to search endlessly for her linguistic home."

An example cited by Wood from her debate with Sen. Joe Biden: "I do take issue with some of the principle there with that redistribution of wealth principle that seems to be espoused by you."

And we're supposed to take this person as a serious candidate for vice president?

But the best example, a classic of Republican no-nothingness, is this gem from Palin's interview with the oh-so-tough (ha!) Sean Hannity. Asked about John McCain's comment that the fundamentals of the economy are sound, Palin said this:
Well, it was an unfair attack on the verbage that Senator McCain chose to use, because the fundamentals, as he was having to explain afterwards, he means our workforce, he means the ingenuity of the American people. And of course that is strong, and that is the foundation of our economy. So that was an unfair attack there, again, based on verbage that John McCain used.
Aside from her non-word, "verbage," what does this mean? And how is it that a public official and nominally educated person (five colleges, was it?) can't think or speak clearly? Or sensibly?

She can read a speech reasonably well on television (and wink), but there's no evidence whatsoever—none!—that she has ever thought seriously about the major issues of the day. She is profoundly ill-informed and undereducated on almost every topic important beyond energy, where she has at least a superficial purchase on one issue.

Grassroots appeal or not, Sarah Palin has no business being anywhere near the White House.

Conservative Frum Blows Another Story

Political blogging is all about debate and discussion. You take a stand or make an argument and put it on the Internet. Some readers agree, some don't. That's politics.

But it is important to have at least an occasional acquaintance with the facts. Facts, after all, are important, at least for those of us in the actual world.

Not so much, perhaps, for David Frum, conservative pundit, former Bush speechwriter, and author of the famous Bush phrase, "axis of evil," a reference to U.S. enemies like Iran and North Korea.

But in an apparent rush this week, Frum attacked MSNBC's Keith Olbermann by calling him out on a nasty John McCain-Nazi reference.

Just one tiny problem: Olbermann didn't make any such statement. The statement cited by Frum was made on a humor website called 23/6.

Frum goofed—and he has (to his credit) removed the posting. But it's more egg on Frum's conservative face.

Read all about the erroneous Frum flap here.

The George W. Bush Legacy: A Republican National Train Wreck

Recent reading: The New Yorker published its politics issue this week and the magazine has a number of cogent things to say. 

Here's a sample devoted to the president's record
The incumbent Administration has distinguished itself for the ages. The Presidency of George W. Bush is the worst since Reconstruction, so there is no mystery about why the Republican Party—which has held dominion over the executive branch of the federal government for the past eight years and the legislative branch for most of eight years—has little desire to defend its record, foreign or domestic.

During the Bush Administration, the national debt, now approaching ten trillion dollars, has nearly doubled…. Private-sector job creation has been a sixth of what it was under President Clinton. Five million people have fallen into poverty. The number of Americans without health insurance has grown by seven million, while average premiums have nearly doubled. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fightin' Commies in Tulsa: Sally Bell is Ready

She's only running for Tulsa County Commissioner, but Republican Sally Bell is still hoppin' mad about the Reds and their threat to the United States.

Never mind that Wal-Mart is overflowing with consumer goods made in Red China, never mind that the Soviet Union is long gone, never mind that Fidel is an old and very ill man, Sally and her fellow warriors are still spoilin' for a Big Fight.

We're talking about Bell's long-time membership (since 1964!) in the John Birch Society, a Cold War relic that planned to fight the Red Tide to the last man, woman and child. Why to hear the Birchers tell it, there were plenty of Reds right here in the good ole U.S.A, just waitin' till we let down our guard and they could take over the churches, the schools, the media, and even the gov'ment without firin' a shot.

That woulda been somethin' terrible, but with Sally and her Birch friends on the job it never happened. Weren't no Reds ever gonna get a toehold in Oklahoma, no sir, no way.

Having won the battle and the war, most Birchers have gone the way of the dodo, but not Sally. She told the Tulsa World this week that she's still fightin' for good ole 'Merican values.

"I believe that George Bush [!] is an internationalist and that he does believe in a global world [say what?], and I'm protective of our sovereignty," Bell told the newspaper.

She also said she agreed with the Birchers' website statement that "it is Bush Administration policy to merge with Mexico and Canada and actually abolish both borders."

Back in the reality-based world, most Democrats and Republicans don't think so. Nor do most Independents. Not even Ralph Nader. Unlike Bell, all of them are waiting for a some evidence, some actual statement from Bush, Cheney, Rice or some other high administration authority that supports the merger of these three nations. Don't hold your breath.

As for Sally Bell, none of this warrants public confidence. Instead, it indicates a rigidity of ideology and a wrong-headed gullibility that Tulsa County voters ought to reject outright.

Bell wants us to think she's a leader. But a public person with views this cockeyed has something less than a firm grip on the real world.

Conservative Defections Continue: Christopher Buckey Endorses Obama

In case you haven't noticed, the Republican intelligentsia has been running from the McCain-Palin ticket for some weeks. This response stems in part from McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, a selection that hasn't gone over well with thinking Republicans.

The latest GOP defection is a big one. Christopher Buckley, son of the late conservative icon and National Review founder William F. Buckley, has endorsed Barack Obama. Hard to believe, we know, but it's a fact.

Needless to say, Buckley's decision hasn't been a popular on the Right. From what we've read, he's been drummed out of the movement. Some conservatives are dumping their subscriptions to National Review.

Here's some of Buckley's response:

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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anchorage Paper Blasts Palin's 'Orwellian' Investigation Response

Sarah Palin may be popular in her home state, but the Anchorage Daily News is having none of it.

The newspaper has looked at Gov. Palin's response to the Troopergate investigation released Friday night, an investigation that found that the governor did indeed violate state ethics rules.

Here's part of the paper's unsparing critique of Palin and her response to the investigation, a response that was worthy of George Orwell's infamous "doublespeak."

Sarah Palin's reaction to the Legislature's Troopergate report is an embarrassment to Alaskans and the nation.

She claims the report "vindicates" her. She said that the investigation found "no unlawful or unethical activity on my part."

Her response is either astoundingly ignorant or downright Orwellian.

Page 8, Finding Number One of the report says: "I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."

In plain English, she did something "unlawful." She broke the state ethics law.

Perhaps Gov. Palin has been too busy to actually read the Troopergate report. Perhaps she is relying on briefings from McCain campaign spinmeisters.

That's the charitable interpretation.

Because if she had actually read it, she couldn't claim "vindication" with a straight face.

Palin asserted that the report found "there was no abuse of authority at all in trying to get Officer Wooten fired."

In fact, the report concluded that "impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired."

Palin's response is the kind of political "big lie" that George Orwell warned against. War is peace. Black is white. Up is down.

As McCain Fades, New Poll Puts Obama Far Ahead

A new poll out from CBS News/New York Times puts Sen. Barack Obama far ahead of Sen. John McCain—a whopping 14-point margin, 53 percent for Obama to 39 percent to McCain.

Here is a summary of the poll, courtesy of the Times:
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is entering the third and final presidential debate Wednesday with a wide lead over Republican rival John McCain nationally, a new CBS News/New York Times poll shows.

The Obama-Biden ticket now leads the McCain-Palin ticket 53 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, a 14-point margin. One week ago, prior to the Town Hall debate that uncommitted voters saw as a win for Obama, that margin was just three points.

Among independents who are likely voters - a group that has swung back and forth between McCain and Obama over the course of the campaign - the Democratic ticket now leads by 18 points. McCain led among independents last week.

McCain's campaign strategy may be hurting hurt him: Twenty-one percent of voters say their opinion of the Republican has changed for the worse in the last few weeks. The top two reasons cited for the change of heart are McCain's attacks on Obama and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate….

Palin Supporter Screams 'Kill Him'

Gov. Sarah Palin spoke earlier today in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Not surprisingly, the Republican crowd was fired up, ready to attack Barack Obama and the Democrats.

Unfortunately, the GOP discourse recently has been somewhat less than civil. Or, to put it more accurately, it's been highly inflammatory.

As the Right sees it, Obama is not simply a well-meaning but wrong-headed opponent. Oh no. He's a secret terrorist with evil intentions who is set on handing the nation over to Islamic terrorists. Or somebody.

Here's how that logic plays itself out, taken from today's Scranton Times-Tribune:
Chris Hackett addressed the increasingly feisty crowd as they await the arrival of Gov. Palin.

Each time the Republican candidate for the seat in the 10th Congressional District mentioned Barack Obama the crowd booed loudly.

One man screamed "kill him!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain Turns on George W. Bush

AT's nomination for Political Headline of the Day, found at the Los Angeles Times:
McCain, out of bogeymen, blasts Bush

Sunday, October 12, 2008

GOP Leaders Increasingly Concerned About McCain's Sinking Campaign

With the presidential election less than a month away, the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin is falling behind, a big worry for GOP leaders across the country.

It didn't help Friday that a bipartisan legislative investigation of Gov. Palin's so-called Troopergate scandal found that Palin violated state ethics rules. Contrary to the campaign hype, Palin is less a political maverick than a thin-skinned politician, settling personal scores by abusing the power of her office.

The New York Times interviewed a number of Republican leaders for todays' edition and found some worried politicians. Here's a sample:
Tommy Thompson, a Republican who is a former governor of Wisconsin, said it would be difficult for Mr. McCain to win in his state but not impossible, particularly if he campaigned in conservative Democratic parts of the state. Asked if he was happy with Mr. McCain’s campaign, Mr. Thompson replied, “No,” and he added, “I don’t know who is.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain-Palin Attacks Backfire: Candidate Booed When He Defends Obama

If you play with fire, you're likely to get burned.

Just ask John McCain, whose campaign went decidedly negative this week, insinuating that Barack Obama is a terrorist sympathizer who hates America.

Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh love this line of attack, since they think that everyone to the left of Jesse Helms is a closet socialist ready to surrender America to radical mullahs. And their mindless listeners actually fall for such nonsense.

But these charges bit McCain in the butt today, when some of his more zealous supporters accused Obama of being "a traitor," "a terrorist," and (of course) "an Arab." The charges were so over-the top that McCain himself was forced to defend Obama, as the following Huffington Post report describes:

John McCain was booed by his own supporters during a rally on Friday after he described Barack Obama as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."

McCain was responding to a town hall attendee who claimed he was concerned about raising a child under a president who "cohorts with domestic terrorists such as [Bill] Ayers." Despite the fact that McCain and his campaign have repeatedly used Ayers to hammer Obama in recent days, the Arizona Senator tried to calm the man.

Palin Latest: Panel Finds Abuse of Power

Good ole Sarah Palin—the "maverick" gift that keeps on giving.

Here's a relevant part of the legislative report released today by a (yes!) bipartisan committee:

Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides

The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.

Breaking: Alaska Investigation Names Palin

She claims she did nothing wrong and has nothing to hide, but Sarah Palin's Troopergate problem just got a whole lot worse.

Breaking tonight: A bipartisan legislative report just released in Alaska has concluded that Gov. Palin abused the power of her office. She violated the public trust.

This is a good one, Sooner fans. Palin has issued a string of public statements recently in which she defends herself, statements that now look wrong.

Our crystal ball is often cloudy, but we suspect that you can stick a fork in Sarah Palin as a viable political candidate. She's done.

McCain-Palin's Very, Very, Very Bad Week

It's been a tough few days for John McCain and Sarah Palin. The Republican duo is slipping in the polls and their desperation is showing.

From the national accounts we've seen, the outlandish, negative GOP mud-slinging machine is backfiring. Many independent and even some conservative voters are deserting the McCain-Palin ticket, turned off by its high-octane attacks and hyperbolic partisanship.

Where to start?

First, there's Palin's demagoguery, claiming this week that Barack Obama "sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She was talking, of course, about William Ayers, a confessed bomber and Sixties radical who has had a past and brief association with Obama.

But to hear her tell it, Obama and Ayers are the best of friends. Worse, they supposedly share an ideology of violence and revolution, a claim never substantiated by a single shed of evidence.

Palin's suggestions are erroneous and morally wrong. What's more, they incite people in anti-social and anti-democratic ways. Not surprisingly, Palin's charges led a supporter in Florida to shout "Kill him!" at a GOP rally this week. Elsewhere, overzealous GOP supporters called Obama a "traitor," another bogus charge unsupported by evidence.

But Palin keep feeding red meat to the right-wing carnivores of her party: "This is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America," Palin claims, her paranoia showing with every wag of her tongue.

But there's nothing to this vacuous statement expect an implication that somehow Obama is scary and different and evil and not to be trusted. It's the politics of fear and it's beneath John McCain and his campaign to make such charges.

But Palin—and now McCain himself—continue to spout such nonsense, ever more desperate to enflame the voters.

As the New York Times wrote in an editorial this week, McCain and Palin "have been running one of the most appalling campaigns we can remember."

No wonder they keep losing public support.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The McCain Meltdown Continues: Who Is He Today?

The McCain campaign is increasingly desperate to get some traction with voters. Their latest four-step plan: 1. Avoid the issues. 2. Scare the voters. 3. Throw mud at Obama. 4. Hope that something sticks.

The plan hasn't been working. In fact, it's an insult to voters and observers, as the following passage shows. The writer, commenting on this week's debate, is E. J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post:

A few days ago, McCain, pressing his effort to paint Obama as a strange and mysterious figure, asked: "Who is the real Barack Obama?"

Last night's debate raised a different question: Who is the real John McCain? Is he the man who used to tout himself as a problem-solver, or is he the desperate candidate who lurches from attack to attack?

The first McCain showed up last night, insisting that our "situation today cries out for bipartisanship." But is that the McCain who would govern? Is that the McCain who is authorizing all those attack ads? Is that the McCain we'll see tomorrow, and the day after?

McCain's Housing Proposal Confounds, Well, Just About Everybody

John McCain and his advisers think his new housing plan is a winner. But they appear to be in a minority.

McCain's surprise housing announcement at the debate Tuesday night is not winning hearts and minds. In fact, it's looking more and more like a loser.

But judge for yourself. Here's a report on McCain's dud from Politico:
John McCain’s surprise policy offering Tuesday night to have the government buy bad mortgages is bold, sweeping and, well, a bit perplexing to nearly everyone.

From economic experts to political pundits, from liberals to conservatives, the proposal has been greeted with a collective sense of puzzlement that is raising questions not only about the substance of the plan, but of the seeming hastiness surrounding its rollout.

The few details available about McCain’s American Homeownership Resurgence Plan give the impression the plan is “half-baked,” according to Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“If you’re launching a major new initiative, usually you blitz the cable networks and really try to penetrate the public consciousness. I didn’t see that today,” he said Wednesday.

McCain's Attack Ads Backfire on His Campaign

Our nomination for Political Headline of the Day, an unsurprising result of the McCain-Palin attack machine:
Palin/McCain's Nastiness Driving Up Unfavorables

Patraeus Speaks: Talk to U.S. Enemies

John McCain has done his best to portray Barack Obama as soft on terrorism. Obama, McCain claims, wants to talk to America's enemies without preconditions, which is practically the same thing as surrendering the nation to Middle Eastern loonies.

Well, not exactly.

In fact, General Petraeus, our top man in Iraq, believes more or less the same thing. Here's a report on this development, courtesy of our friends at Talking Points Memo.

In an interview that aired on CBS last night, John McCain, when asked which three living people he'd like to have dinner with most, promptly chose General Petraeus. McCain frequently hails Petraeus as an "American hero."

McCain, however, might not enjoy that dinner so much if he heard Petraeus' views on one of the leading foreign policy differences he has with Barack Obama.

In a case of comically awful timing, Petraeus yesterday gave a talk at the Heritage Foundation in which he more or less echoed Barack Obama's views on negotiating with hostile foreign leaders -- views that McCain has repeatedly subjected to criticism and ridicule.

Asked by a questioner specifically about the disagreement on this topic that McCain and Obama had at Tuesday night's debate, Petraeus demurred a bit, but said: "I do think you have to talk to enemies."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What McCain Failed to Mention Last Night


That's the number of times Sen. John McCain mentioned vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin at last night's presidential debate in Nashville. 

Debate Verdict: McCain Good, Obama Better

Here's the judgment of conservative Stephen Hayes, writing in the conservative Weekly Standard
John McCain had a very strong debate tonight. It's too bad for him that it cam on a night when Barack Obama was nearly flawless. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

McCain's Split Financial Personality

At tonight's debate, John McCain twisted himself into this financial knot. Here's how CNN summed up McCain's dilemma:
Does John McCain recommend a spending freeze to help stabilize the economy, or want the government to purchase bad mortgages from struggling homeowners? Well, according to his answers during Tuesday night’s debate, both.

Palin Latest: State To Review Governor's Tax Payments

Thank goodness for Sarah Palin, whose conduct as Alaska governor is hardly the record the conservatives would like the public to believe.

Let's take those per diem payments she charged to the state for nights she stayed at her own home. It now turns out that she didn't pay taxes on that income, which may be a problem.

Here's part on an the AP report on the governor's latest problem:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's practice of charging the state when she stays in her home must be reviewed to determine if she should pay taxes on the payments, state Finance Director Kim Garnero said Tuesday.

Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, released two years' worth of tax returns last week that did not list the per diem payments she received since becoming Alaska governor in December 2006. She collected nearly $17,000 during that period for 312 nights spent in her Wasilla home about an hour's drive from Anchorage, according to state travel records.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Palin Plays the Patriotic Card, but Forgets the 'First Dude'

From the campaign trail: The GOP Patriot Police are at work again, looking for any whiff of critical thinking, a sure sign of anti-Americanism and a stepping stone to full-bore socialism.

That would explain this report from Talking Point Memo, where Josh Marshall found Sarah Palin channeling the inane charges of Talk Radio:
Sarah Palin is accusing Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists." But isn't her husband a former member of a political party which has treason against the United States as its central tenet?

Answer: yes.

Conservative Writers Dump on Palin

Sarah Palin exceeded expectations at last week's vice presidential debates, though that's not saying much. After her dismal interview on CBS, Palin could hardly go any lower in the expectations game.

But the debate didn't win over many of the conservative intelligentsia. These folks are looking for a smart and thoughtful conservative. As almost everyone knows by now, that's not Sarah Palin.

Here's a sample of some of the fallout on Palin:

David Brooks on CBS’s Face the Nation: “I don’t think she’s qualified to be President… I prefer someone who’s read a few more books.”

Peggy Noonan on NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think she showed that she is a women of great and natural competence about the show business of politics. … There are questions about other areas. … Would Lincoln say, ‘I represent the backwoods types?’”

Kathleen Parker on CNN’s Reliable Sources: “I do think we gave her a pass up front. And when I say ‘we,’ I’m just talking about people associated with the more conservative side.”

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fred Kaplan, writing at Slate, gets to the essence of Sarah Palin in the debate last night: 
Palin proved that she can speak in complete sentences, but not that she understands anything about foreign policy. 
Read Kaplan's complete deconstruction of Palin's comments here

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin Postmortem, Pt. 2: The Voters Weigh In

The Washington Post hosted an on-line forum following the vice-presidential debate tonight, and the results are not necessarily good for Sarah Palin. Some voters liked her performance, but many more questioned her vague and non-responsive answers.

Here's a quick sample from the Post, with their cities identified in boldface:
Los Angeles: I have the feeling that a lot of people made up their minds in the past ten days, to the detriment of the McCain campaign. Palin didn't go down in flames, but her performance was still like a caricature of herself. She showed she can spew talking points, but not that she can think on her feet. Biden wins.

Liberty, Mo.: Who was Gov. Palin trying to attract through her references to Ronald Reagan? What do you make of her interpretation (flexibility) of the vice president's role? I am not a Palin supporter. I didn't hear much substance in her remarks this evening.

Santa Rosa, Calif.: She's got moxie and confidence in spades -- I'll give her that -- but otherwise seems mostly bluster and bluff and not a lot of real substance based on lengthy experience. One thing I noted that was good: She looked directly at the camera as though addressing each of us. It appears Bidden picked up on this and followed suit -- good move.

Boston: Palin said nothing concrete. She couldn't produce any evidence and avoided answering questions that she struggled with. I think Biden won the debate hands down.

Palin Postmortem: Pull String, Repeat Cliches

The vice presidential debate just ended and the verdicts are rolling in. Naturally, the partisans are split their opinions, with the Democrats rating Joe Biden as the winner and the Republicans putting Sarah Palin on top.

On Fox News (surprise!) Palin was gangbusters. The Fox folks even produced a focus group that went heavily (but not completely) for Palin.

Over a CBS, a more scientific "instant" survey came to an opposite conclusion, finding that most viewers rated Biden as the clear winner over Palin, but including a high number of undecided voters.

Thus far, the best description of Palin's performance we've seen comes from one of our favorite blogs, Daily Kos. Here's their quick summary:
Palin was like one of those dolls where you pull the string, and some pre-recorded message comes out. Pull string, "They hate our freedoms!" Pull string, "Obama will raise taxes!" Pull string, "Drill, baby, drill!" It was tiresome and, frankly, a little boring.

Breaking: As Obama Surges, McCain Pulls Out of Michigan

News from Politico
John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play. 

Palin Latest: Her Numbers Keep Dropping

It's Veep Debate Day, of course, so we only have a few hours to wait until Sarah Palin and Joe Biden square off in St. Louis. 

We have no idea how this might turn out for either candidate, but we do know that Palin's public statements in recent days haven't inspired confidence.

She turned out to be clueless about the Supreme Court, unable to name a single case other than Roe v. Wade, the controversial abortion case. 

She gave a vague answer about what news sources she relies on, failing to name a single newspaper, magazine or even a cable news show. It would seem like a no-brainer to mention the Anchorage Daily News, which is the largest paper in her state, and she didn't even do that.

No big surprise then to see this headline on the web today: 
60% see Palin "lacking the experience to be an effective president"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oklahoma Senators Split on Bailout Vote

Oklahoma's U.S. senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, cancelled each other's votes tonight on the $700 million financial bailout bill.

Coburn voted with the majority (and John McCain and Barack Obama), which passed the bill.

Inhofe, who is facing reelection next month, voted against the bill, the better to find political cover with his conservative base.

Inhofe needs all the help he can get. From all appearances, Inhofe has no new policies to advance and nothing much to say. His campaign consists mostly of attack ads on his Democratic opponent, State Sen. Andrew Rice.

Even Inhofe's ads strain credibility. Most of them feature a "scary" photo of Rice as a shaggy-haired teenager, as if that makes Rice a despicable person.

Earth to Inhofe: Have you looked at any Oklahoma teenagers lately? Turns out a lot of them are "scary" and have shaggy hair. Fortunately for Andrew Rice, a lot of those teenagers can vote.