Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bipartisanship: How Do You Spell It, With a P or a T?

I have just watched the most blatant piece of political fraud I have ever seen: the September 24 speech to the nation of George W. Bush explaining the current financial crisis. First the President pretended to explain the origins of the crisis, making sure, of course, to characterize everything as having descended from the outside, that the crisis just somehow “happened.” There was all this money that came into the system from abroad (it must have been them “furriners” again), he explained. Then somehow with all this money, there was more money for loans, and the loans were given to irresponsible people who shouldn’t have been given them. And with no real oversight being employed to keep risks within bounds, somehow the nasty housing market somehow began to fall, and all these securities somehow lost value.

And that, boys and girls, is how we got into this terrible crisis.

Notice. No one was responsible. Certainly not the Bush administration, nor Alan Greenspan, nor the Republican Party, with their historic ties to Wall Street (the Bush family fortune, not incidentally, derived mostly from Wall Street bankers who engaged in some pretty sordid deals with Nazi Germany); and most decidedly not former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson, our current Secretary of the Treasury, who is authoring all these bailouts for his cronies. And of course, as my son recently pointed out to me, it certainly could not have been John McCain’s crony and chief economic adviser, Phil Gramm, who as head of the Senate Banking Committee, led the enactment of the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to disable the depression-era Glass Steigal Act (passed to curb just the kind of excesses that we have today and which essentially had compartmentalized financial institutions, separating banking, insurance and brokerage activities, so that the kind of chicanery that led to the current meltdown could not have taken place). Nor could it have been Senator McCain himself, who has been the chief Congressional voice of the last 20 years arguing for more and more deregulation—deregulation which, like Gramm-Leach-Bliley, bears heavy responsibility for the Wall St. excesses that caused the crisis.

No. The President simply made it sound as if it all just happened. It was a kind of 9/11 folks, a bolt out of the blue. Or more appropriately, a kind of Katrina: A natural disaster of finance. And we all know how irresponsible Mother Nature can be.

In response to this wicked disaster, the great bipartisan Republican party and its leaders—Bush and now McCain—call for the political establishment to put aside its traditional antagonisms, get together and hammer out a solution “for the good of the country.” And John McCain, to indicate his TOTAL lack of political self-interest and partisanship, announces on major networks that he is suspending his campaigning and heading to Washington to lead the bipartisan effort to pass the administration’s plan. Indeed, so great was the crisis, he intoned earlier in the day, that he wanted to call off the first, and highly anticipated debate with Barack Obama, about, guess what? domestic affairs.

Now isn’t this interesting. Suddenly, with his campaign in deep doo doo because of the financial crisis, to solve which the American people rightly judge he hasn’t a clue, McCain asks for suspension of that campaign, suspension of the debate wherein he would be totally outclassed by his opponent, and for a joining of forces to “save the country.” Nevermind that many economists and many members of his own party have raised serious doubts about whether the Bush-Paulson $700 billion bailout plan a) is even necessary or b) would even solve the underlying problem.

Ah no. This is a crisis. The sky is falling, and the American people, if they want to avoid an even greater shock (read Naomi Klein on the “Shock Doctrine”) must come together. Bipartisanship must save the day. We must all do whatever it takes to save the economy.

But wait. These are Republicans preaching this sermon; Republicans who fight like the rabid, absolutely uncompromising dogs they are when they have the upper hand in an issue—such as the crisis over 9/11 and defending the country—but who now, seeing themselves about to be buried by the greatest crisis since the Depression, are suddenly all about bipartisanship? Have you noticed that? Where is their vaunted bipartisanship when it comes to Global Warming? Where is their precious bipartisanship when it comes to child welfare, or people losing their homes, or healthcare?

It is to laugh. It is to realize that this is not real bipartisanshiP, with a “p”. This is bipartisanshiT, with a “t”. And what that means is that, in reality, bipartisanshit is the essence of this kind of bipartisanship, a public ploy meant to demonstrate, in spite of all the evidence, that McCain’s passion is for country first, and politics second.

In short, this is a classic Karl Rovian bait and switch. Make the most blatantly political move possible, and convince the public that it’s not political but selfless service, loyalty, bipartisanship. Put your opponent in an impossible position, and call it bipartisanship.

What it needs to be called, however, is what it really is: bipartisanshiT. With a very big “T”. And I can only hope that the American people maintain their outrage, and their assessment of where the blame truly lies—with the party and the administration that, for the past eight years, indeed for the past twenty-five years starting with Ronald Reagan, has succeeded in driving this nation into the biggest economic and moral shit pile in its history.

Lawrence DiStasi

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Inexperience" Code

You’ve all heard it endlessly by now, the Republican attack on Barack Obama which maintains that he has no experience in running a government or a business, and thus is too inexperienced to be President. Now aside from the inanity of this argument, especially when considering the opposite argument employed for Sarah Palin—CEO of Alaska, with a population (around 600,000) smaller than most cities, and Mayor of Wasilla, with a population (6,000) smaller than most colleges—there is a coded message here that is necessary for Americans to understand.

“Inexperience,” when applied to Barack Obama, is code for “race.”

Let me explain with an example. Prior to World War II, the United States Navy was desperately searching for boats to supplement its vastly under-equipped Navy. It began to inspect fishing boats, among them the large purse seiners used by hundreds of Sicilian fishermen along the west coast. The Navy would eventually requisition hundreds of such boats and outfit them as mine sweepers, but before it did, it considered whether it would, like England, induct not just the boats but their crews as well. A February 1939 memo from Admiral Hepburn, commandant of the 12th Naval District, summarizes the Navy’s findings, including its assessment of the Sicilian fishermen it might wish to induct. Here is part of what it said:

“The majority of Italians are not good seamen, good fishermen, nor good navigators. They are not over-intelligent, do not know the Rules of the Road, and, in general, appear to have the characteristics of big, overgrown children….” (see my “Fish Story,” in Lawrence DiStasi, UNA STORIA SEGRETA [2001], for more details.)

Based on such assessments, the Navy decided that it would requisition the boats alright, but not these “child-like” Sicilians, a group that was, at that very time, presiding over the most efficient and opulent sardine fishing industry the world has ever seen.

This type of more subtle racism has been thoroughly analyzed by David A.J. Richards in his 1999 book, “Italian American: The Racializing of an Ethnic Group.” In that book, Richards argued that phrases like “big, overgrown children” really represent a judgment that a group is developmentally inferior, even genetically incomplete. This means that its members never quite reach the full mental and moral development that would make them truly adult, i.e. truly human. African Americans, Native Americans, and, in their turn, many immigrant groups like Italians and Latin Americans have been judged in exactly this way.

Now we come back to the code for Obama. The term “inexperienced,” I would maintain, when applied to Obama, means not just that he has never been a CEO. It cuts deeper, cuts to a place that most Americans understand, if not consciously, then subliminally. And what it is meant to signify is that this man, Harvard-educated or not, U.S. Senator or not, lacks the full development that one finds most ideally in white people—Sarah Palin, for instance. No matter what he does, no matter how eloquently he can speak, therefore, he can never quite rise to the level of full humanity signified by whiteness. That’s because as a black man, by (America’s) definition, he is lacking in those adult qualities of mind and morality that America must have in its president.

Of course, not John McCain nor Sarah Palin nor even the vicious conservative shock jocks could say this outright. That would be racism, and so toxic is this label that even Obama’s comment about not being the right “type” elicited a “reverse racism” accusation from the outraged McCain. No, the Republican slime machine is too canny for that. So it uses code. This year the code word is “inexperienced.” During the Reagan campaign, it was “welfare queens.” George H.W. Bush employed the now-infamous Willie Horton commercial, suggesting that his opponent, Michael Dukakis, would free black rapists. And our dear George, G.W., not only spread racial slurs in the Carolinas to sink McCain’s surging campaign for the nomination (McCain was said to have a black child), but then employed several techniques to disenfranchise mostly black urban voters in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere in order to steal one, and probably two elections. These slimy tactics are still going on, the latest being the Republican ploy of requiring all voters to display photo IDs allegedly to “ensure against election fraud” (though hardly a single case of election fraud has ever been demonstrated in states with these requirements, like Indiana.) But in reality the tactic is meant to discourage as many inner-city black voters (who almost universally vote Democratic) as possible from attempting to vote. More generally, it is no secret that the Republican Party’s southern strategy—to incite the racial animosity and fear still prevalent in southern and Midwestern states—has been the key to its ability to win elections since Nixon first employed it in 1968.

So count on it. You will hear the “inexperienced” slur against Obama repeatedly, daily, without letup. And to the increasingly fearful white populace of the heartland it will signify what it has always signified: in the United States of America, a black man simply does not have the mental, moral, or emotional heft to be fully human, much less to be the highest official in the land.

Lawrence DiStasi

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bailouts and Killing Debt

The economic news of late has not been good. First we had the collapse of Bear Stearns, with a government bailout to keep it vaguely afloat. Then mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together hold a majority of home mortgage loans, were about to go under until the Fed promised to take them over, at the risk of perhaps $200 billion to the taxpayer. This week another huge investment bank, Lehman Brothers, declared bankruptcy, and though the Feds refused to bail it out, or Merrill Lynch (the world’s largest brokerage teetered on the brink until the Bank of America bought it at a firesale) either, when it came to AIG, the largest insurance company in the world, the Feds blinked. AIG said it needed $40 billion, then $70 billion to keep from bankruptcy, alarm bells went off worldwide, and yesterday, the Fed finally announced that it would bail out this giant as well—to the tune of $85 billion dollars.

As the understatement of the year, Andrew Laperriere, managing director in Washington for International Strategy & Investment Group, took the cake:

“This is starting to get expensive,” said Laperriere.

Indeed. It’s also starting to get sickening. Because we are now seeing the full extent of the mismanagement, sheer chicanery and theft at the highest levels of the economy promoted and abetted by the Bush Administration and its cronies. In brief, while recent legislation has made it almost impossible for average Americans to find relief from economic ruin in bankruptcy, the largest banks and corporations not only can take refuge in bankruptcy proceedings, but many of the biggest crooks get bailed out by the federal government—i.e. U.S. taxpayers. Our money, in short, is being used to bail out the snake-oil salesmen who gave us subprime lending, and securitizing of mortgages in order to walk off with billions in profits, while the housing bubble they promoted disintegrates before our very eyes.

Here’s how Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration, described the mess recently (Counterpunch, Sept. 16, 2008):

"In the 21st century, the US economy has been kept going by debt expansion, not by real income growth. Economists have hyped US productivity growth, but there is no sign that increased productivity has raised family incomes, an indication that there is a problem with the productivity statistics. With consumers overloaded with debt and the value of their most important asset—housing--falling, the American consumer will not be leading a recovery.
A country that had intelligent leaders would recognize its dire straits, stop its gratuitous wars, and slash its massive military budget, which exceeds that of the rest of the world combined. But a country whose foreign policy goal is world hegemony will continue on the path to destruction until the rest of the world ceases to finance its existence.
Most Americans, including the presidential candidates and the media, are unaware that the US government today, now at this minute, is unable to finance its day-to-day operations and must rely on foreigners to purchase its bonds. The government pays the interest to foreigners by selling more bonds, and when the bonds come due, the government redeems the bonds by selling new bonds. The day the foreigners do not buy is the day the American people and their government are brought to reality."

Now we have a report by Bloomberg (Sept. 17) illustrating just what that reality might mean, not just in the near term, but into the next presidency. The report opens with this statement:

“The casualties of continuing tumult on Wall Street will include campaign promises of the next U.S. president, whether it's John McCain or Barack Obama. The federal government has committed hundreds of billions of dollars this year to stimulate the economy, rescue failing Bear Stearns and American International Group Inc., and take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It may extend hundreds of billions more to buy distressed mortgage debt, prop up Detroit automakers and stave off recession. Those expenses, on top of a 2009 budget deficit projected to approach $500 billion, will make it hard for Obama to find money for universal health care, clean energy and early education, or for McCain to enact $3.3 trillion in promised tax cuts over eight years."

In other words, not only has George W. Bush ruined the nation with unnecessary wars, a monstrous military budget, deregulation to the point of national bankruptcy, and tax cuts for the wealthy that transformed a $10 trillion surplus left from the Clinton administration into a mammoth national debt that will extend into the lives of our grandchildren, he has also made certain that the next president will not be able to repair the damage or offer help to millions of average Americans because the U.S. government’s debts will be so huge that nothing but debt service will be possible. Though he and the Republican zealots who run his administration may not have consciously planned all this, they will thus have fulfilled one of the aims of conservatives–-i.e., Grover Norquist’s vow “to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” The government referred to, of course, is the government which cares for the mass of Americans, not the one which provides corporate welfare to its cash-rich, bonanza-seeking cronies.

The astonishing part of all this is that in the presidential race now entering its final phase, there are still millions of Americans, and perhaps even a majority, who plan to vote another deregulating, tax-cutting, debt-raising Republican fraud into office. It is at this point that part of me wishes to emulate the Roman emperor Claudius, at least as portrayed in “I Claudius,” who, early in the reign of one of the truly bestial emperors like Caligula, utters his agreement to ‘let all the evil hatch out.’ Before things can get better, he implies, all the evil and stupidity of which Romans are capable must be allowed to run its course. At this stage of the corruption of our Republic into Empire, of the degradation of informed citizens into a ship of fools, something similar may be necessary here—assuming, of course, that some shell of a nation will be left to survive.

Lawrence DiStasi

Friday, September 12, 2008


Though I couldn’t bring myself to watch the entire interview, I did see a tiny segment of Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin’s interview with Charles Gibson last night. And it finally struck me: all those grins, all those talking points glibly delivered, all that salesman-like addressing of the interviewer by his first name, “Charlie,” all raise one question.

Is this a real flesh-and-blood woman, or a robot?

Think about it. She has this piled up hair, all in place. She dresses in perfectly fitted suits (not Hillary-type feminist pantsuits either) that fit her perfectly. She has this perfect smile and this near-perfect delivery of her perfectly crafted lines. I mean if the Republicans had designed a candidate to their exacting specifications—hockey mom with five kids, small town mayor, governor of the most Republican state in the Union, rabid supporter of the NRA, Christian Fundamentalist in the most extreme segment of the most extreme end-times sect in the nation, pro-lifer who not only talks the talk but walked the walk to bear a child she knew would emerge with Down’s Syndrome—they couldn’t have come up with a better model. She even talks about the Iraq war as divinely inspired. And while she was at it, last night, suggested that in order to assure Georgia’s entry into NATO, it would be worth risking a war with Russia.

I mean, is there no doubt in the woman? Not a tic or a pause to reflect on what her blithely optimistic words might mean? It seems not. Robots have no doubts. Robots do not reflect. Robots simply move straight ahead to their programmed ends. God wants war—we go straight ahead. God wants my firstborn to serve in that war (apparently with a little help from a drug bust to be fixed by enlisting)—praise be. God gifts me a child with Down’s Syndrome—have it and be thankful. No doubts. Not a worry line in sight.

It’s something that has kept gnawing at me since that convention night when she gave her speech. All I could think of was that Down’s baby. The dominant impression was that he, like the rest of the family, only moreso, was on display. He kept being handed back and forth, first to Cindy McCain, then to the 8-year-old daughter, then another daughter, then the father, then on stage to Mom for a few seconds, then back and forth and to and fro. An exhibit—a human exhibit to prove his pro-life Mother’s humanity. Only that humanity was nowhere on display, then, or since. I mean having a child with Down’s cannot be a picnic. One knows the difficulties that are coming. The heartache. The constant questioning of the decision. But none of that ever seems at issue with Sarah Palin. Her smooth brow remains smooth, her smile fixed, her cheeks rosy, her upbeat aggressive confidence ever undimmed. Is there a heart there to ache at all?

This is why the robot answer comes to mind. A robot doesn’t have heartache. A robot doesn’t fret about the future. A robot simply rolls straight to the target. All systems go, like a drone swooping to launch its rockets into a suspected enemy hideout. And if there happen to be a few collaterals damaged, no problem. We’ll just tinker with the targeting system and do better next time.

What is most alarming about all this is that, increasingly, it appears that our politicians are all becoming more robotic. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the prototype—the original robot who gloried in his past role as the Terminator. A killing machine. Perfect candidate to be governor, where he became known as the Governator. McCain too; since the Convention repeating without letup the same lines, the same expressions, the same fake emotions. A robot. It almost seems to come with the political territory these days: you want to win public office, you become a robot.

The trouble is, these robots get into office and make decisions that affect our lives. Reading about Bush and his robotic response to 9/11 makes the blood run cold. He wanted blood. The man had to prove how tough he was, and his programmers, Cheney et al, knew just which buttons to push to get him to “man up” and agree to the most cruel and inhuman measures. Kill the bastards. That was really the program the CIA initially came up with: we’re going to go into Afghanistan and kill ‘em all; there’ll be flies walking across their eyeballs. Nevermind trials; nevermind habeas corpus; never mind Geneva; nevermind the law; just kill ‘em. And the cold eyes of the robot president sparkled with anticipation, his robotic response being the one all robots employ: “do whatever it takes.”

Robots. The entire nation, more often than not, seems robotized. Seems to WANT to be robotized. Robots that don’t feel. Robots that don’t worry or have fears. Robots who live their lives out on computer screens or TV screens where robots like Sarah Palin look perfectly cool for the perfectly scripted parts they play. And if there are some malcontents who yearn for the days when real humans displayed real concerns about real human problems, why never fear. The luddites you will have always with you—until, of course, the robotic End Times sort out the us’s from the them’s, once and for all.

Lawrence DiStasi

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Pit Bull

I am meditating on violence this morning, the violence endemic to the United States--especially after enduring the acceptance speech of Sarah Palin, the VP choice of John McCain at last night’s Republican Convention. What a white devil she is turning out to be; a mocking devil cloaking herself in her wonderful, Christian, family-based American values. All of which might have worked save for a few lapses, the main one being the quote whereby she characterizes herself as a “hockey mom,” and how she defines that update of the once-influential “soccer mom.” Here’s how she did it:

“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?” She asked, pausing with her white-devil, mocking grin, and then giving the punchline: “Lipstick.” And she smiled again. Ho ho.

Naturally, that hall full of desperate Republicans eager to cheer every line, went wild over this one. We’ve got a winner, they were cheering, we’ve got a tough one. No foreigners or journalists or liberals are going to push our Sarah around!

But let’s look carefully at this self-characterization, one of the most alarming things I’ve ever heard from a political figure. This aspirant for the Vice Presidency, this person who could be one stroke by an aging McCain away from the Presidency, compares herself to a PIT BULL. That is, this allegedly Brady Bunch mom compares herself to the most aggressive, vicious, killing machine ever bred by dog fanciers. No, not dog fanciers, fanciers of illegal dog-fights. You know, those lovely little matches where two dogs are dumped into a ring and urged to tear each other apart to satisfy the blood lust of adoring dog-fight fans. And pit bulls have been bred specifically for this, for their “gameness,” which is to say, for their insane aggressiveness and refusal to quit even when mortally wounded and bleeding to death. All of which Americans nominally condemn, for it wasn’t all that long ago that football star Michael Vick was arrested and jailed for raising just these fighting dogs on his estate. Pilloried for his association with such cruelty. Forced to forfeit a brilliant career.

Of course, Michael Vick is a black man. Sarah Palin, by contrast, is a lily-white, “pro-life” super-woman. So from her, the comparison to a pit bull is funny. Haha. But is it? Consider. This Republican convention has already made clear that, with its adoption of the McCain demand for “victory in Iraq” (nevermind that an occupation, by its very nature, cannot end in “victory”), and its criticism of Democrats for “not once mentioning the word “victory,” these people have portrayed themselves as the quintessential, jingoistic American killers D.H. Lawrence long ago wrote about (see his "Studies in Classic American Literature"). They have made clear that they embody that long tradition in America, which has made not baseball but killing the national pastime. Thus, when, at their convention, they have chanted after every red meat line, “USA! USA!” like some hysterical crowd of American supporters at the Olympics, they are not just being embarrassing, jingoistic yahoos. They are harking back to the entire history of this country, conceived in liberty, perhaps, but steeped in violence and killing even earlier—first, against its original inhabitants, hunted down and exterminated and penned into reservations; second against its imported slaves, where the mere act of keeping and trading in slaves requires the constant threat of violence and death, as does keeping the “freed” slaves powerless, exploited, and trapped in ghettos until this very day; and third and throughout, against the environment itself, the land itself, which from the first has been denuded of its forests, plundered for its riches, plowed, leveled, and flattened in every corner of this continent, and now, in Alaska. And the position of Palin to drill for oil in one of the last wildlife preserves in Anwr is just the latest manifestation of this environmental violence, of which we were constantly reminded by that other bloodlust chant of the Republicans last night, “Drill, baby, Drill.”

So just think about what we have here: a woman—casting herself as this compassionate nurturing mother, so compassionate for life that she opted to bear her Down’s Syndrome fifth child—whose chief metaphor to characterize herself is the pit bull. So that she seems not only to be saying that she’s vicious and relentless and willing to fight to the death; she’s also saying she LIKES blood, enjoys blood sport, thrives on the vicious tearing to pieces of her adversaries—and by extension everyone in the world who might think to oppose the US of A. Because she has compared herself to an animal that loves to kill. And her hunting background—hunting from the safety of an airplane where no life form has a chance—perhaps confirms this.

Is this what we want in the White House? Yet another vice president who’s an avowed killer, (our current one having shot his best friend in the face), another Cheney to turn the White House into the center and source of unbridled horror, including the torturing and killing of anyone who MIGHT be an adversary? Nevermind the law? Nevermind sparing the innocent? Nevermind sissy negotiations?

It seems. Because Palin mocked Obama last night as someone who would “want to read terrorists their rights;” omitting, of course, the important point, that it is detainees whose innocence or guilt has never been even considered, much less proven, who deserve the rights of habeas corpus. Because that’s what the Republican chant about “victory,” McCain’s victory, really means: Full spectrum dominance over the entire world, law and/or innocence be damned. Anyone who resists such U.S. dominance, any nation that refuses to bow down to United States demands for its resources or its fealty, that nation will be threatened and attacked and nothing will do but victory. And victory means precisely that: giving up, bowing down, agreeing that the United States, the victor, and its victorious corporations (especially those run by the likes of Cheney and company) is dominant over that nation and calls the shots.

All of which comes to this: if you like pit bulls—and Sarah Palin seems to—if you’re proud of the American history that honors enslavement and violence and extermination and exploitation, then the McCain-Palin team are your guys.

And that brings to mind what the Republicans might do this season: instead of the elephant as their symbol, perhaps they ought to be honest and change it to a snarling, slavering, blood-spattered pit bull, rampant. That would be ‘straight talk’ indeed.

Lawrence DiStasi

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Republican Hypocrites

Don’t you just love the Republicans? Here we have the party of pure selfishness and self-enrichment and every man for himself (they characterize it as self-reliance), the party that gave us the Reagan years of “trickle-down” economics (where just about everything trickled UP), the party that has saddled us and the world with privatization (i.e., the crippling of every government program save corporate welfare), the party that presided over the greatest destruction via neglect of a large American city in history—and they are now preaching the gospel of togetherness, of “Country first,” of “we must devote all our efforts to helping the unfortunate victims of Hurricane Gustav.” Suddenly, all these Gucci-clad conventioneers eager to indulge in caviar and fine wine at fat corporation parties, have found the religion of restraint, of “we’re all in this together.” For it would be unseemly to be seen scarfing up fancy hors d’oeuvres while New Orleanians were once again drowning in their impoverished soup. So nominee McCain announces he might not ever make it to the convention—but rather might have to pipe in his acceptance speech from ground zero, with ‘the people.’ And George W. Bush makes a show of rolling up his shirtsleeves and posing with emergency managers in Texas—allowing all Republicans to breathe a sigh of relief that they won’t, after all, have to pretend to cheer him after he inevitably reminds America of his last hurricane fiasco.

And we, the American public, are supposed to buy it. ‘See,’ we’re supposed to opine, ‘Republicans are big-hearted Americans after all, concerned over their fellow men, and even women. Even dark skinned ones.’ That first storm, that Katrina, was just an aberration. Like Iraq. Like torture. Like the greatest debt in American history.

And who knows, it might work. Just as that other massive hypocrisy of this convention season—the selection of a woman, no less, to be McCain’s vice-presidential running mate—might work to paper over the years of Republican contempt for women’s rights. Why just look—the party of macho really does have its gentler side. And what a feminine side it is, she is. A beauty queen. A gun-toting Alaskan mama. A mother of five—including one she insisted on birthing despite the negative of Down’s Syndrome. A woman who challenges the establishment at the same time she caters to Big Oil, a no-nonsense, pro-life Palin’ woman who isn’t afraid to thumb her nose at environmentalists (much less those over-population fear-mongers), and campaigns for oil drilling in the Anwar wildlife refuge. Wildlife hell, is her motto: I hunt and fish and will have no truck with polar bears as an endangered species. Or, most of all, sex education in the schools. Abstinence is the only teaching we need. Teach your young ones abstinence, and all will be well.

Except, of course, when it’s one of OUR young ones. Isn’t this always the Republican way? It’s always, with Republicans, “You people”—you ghetto people, you welfare moms, you oversexed over-proliferating dark-skinned peoples. But when it comes to “our” people, our good Christian people, why then it’s a different story. We’re human, after all. No one’s perfect, say our preachers. And surely not little 17-year-old Bristol, 5 months pregnant and unmarried, yes, but isn’t she a woman after all? A natural, human woman? Human like us all, after all. And determined to keep the baby. And marry the baby’s father. What’s the problem?

The problem is your bottomless hypocrisy. The problem is your abstinence-only program masquerading as sex education. Which, as your own daughter proves, is no program at all. The problem is that here, in the United States in the 21st Century, we can’t risk a vice-President so retrograde, so out of touch, so hypocritical that she can’t even see a problem when it hits her own family. That’s the problem. The only question being this: can enough Americans summon enough common sense, enough outrage to send this party of hypocrites packing, once and for all?

Lawrence DiStasi