As if we are America

Our country is made better by what we give. Our day is made better by what we do. Life is made better by what we understand. We do not fully know why.

But there is a veneer over us. Leaders are seldom candidates, governments seldom bring our future, politicians fail.

So then, if Palin is President and eye-to-eye with bin Laden, will it make a difference that she is Wasilla’s reformer? Why elect her noise? If Obama is President and sweets himself to foreign friends, will it make a difference to our pocket? Why elect his shine? If McCain is alive, why another circus?

We are diverted, immigrants in our own land, toiling streets of carnival media. But please quit joining what isn’t you. Neither Party pleases us and no Independent can bring more than a party so what can we do? Let’s not look to lies. Let’s not vote against ourselves. Yes, write those letters and annoy your inlaws and stop cranky hate. Wake and sleep and think and care.

August 29, 2008
The Perfect Stranger
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON–Barack Obama is an immensely talented man whose talents have been largely devoted to crafting, and chronicling, his own life. Not things. Not ideas. Not institutions. But himself.

Nothing wrong or even terribly odd about that, except that he is laying claim to the job of crafting the coming history of the United States. A leap of such audacity is odd. The air of unease at the Democratic convention this week was not just a result of the Clinton psychodrama. The deeper anxiety was that the party was nominating a man of many gifts but precious few accomplishments — bearing even fewer witnesses.

When John Kerry was introduced at his convention four years ago, an honor guard of a dozen mates from his Vietnam days surrounded him on the podium attesting to his character and readiness to lead. Such personal testimonials are the norm. The roster of fellow soldiers or fellow senators who could from personal experience vouch for John McCain is rather long. At a less partisan date in the calendar, that roster might even include Democrats Russ Feingold and Edward Kennedy, with whom John McCain has worked to fashion important legislation.

Eerily missing at the Democratic convention this year were people of stature who were seriously involved at some point in Obama’s life standing up to say: I know Barack Obama. I’ve been with Barack Obama. We’ve toiled/endured together. You can trust him. I do.

Hillary Clinton could have said something like that. She and Obama had, after all, engaged in a historic, utterly compelling contest for the nomination. During her convention speech, you kept waiting for her to offer just one line of testimony: I have come to know this man, to admire this man, to see his character, his courage, his wisdom, his judgment. Whatever. Anything.

Instead, nothing. She of course endorsed him. But the endorsement was entirely programmatic: We’re all Democrats. He’s a Democrat. He believes what you believe. So we must elect him — I am currently unavailable — to get Democratic things done. God bless America.

Clinton’s withholding the “I’ve come to know this man” was vindictive and supremely self-serving — but jarring, too, because you realize that if she didn’t do it, no one else would. Not because of any inherent deficiency in Obama’s character. But simply as a reflection of a young life with a biography remarkably thin by the standard of presidential candidates.

Who was there to speak about the real Barack Obama? His wife. She could tell you about Barack the father, the husband, the family man in a winning and perfectly sincere way. But that only takes you so far. It doesn’t take you to the public man, the national leader.

Who is to testify to that? Hillary’s husband on night three did aver that Obama is “ready to lead.” However, he offered not a shred of evidence, let alone personal experience with Obama. And although he pulled it off charmingly, everyone knew that, having been suggesting precisely the opposite for months, he meant not a word of it.

Obama’s vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, naturally advertised his patron’s virtues, such as the fact that he had “reached across party lines to … keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.” But securing loose nukes is as bipartisan as motherhood and as uncontroversial as apple pie. The measure was so minimal that it passed by voice vote and received near zero media coverage.

Thought experiment. Assume John McCain had retired from politics. Would he have testified to Obama’s political courage in reaching across the aisle to work with him on ethics reform, a collaboration Obama boasted about in the Saddleback debate? “In fact,” reports the Annenberg Political Fact Check, “the two worked together for barely a week, after which McCain accused Obama of ‘partisan posturing'” — and launched a volcanic missive charging him with double cross.

So where are the colleagues? The buddies? The political or spiritual soul mates? His most important spiritual adviser and mentor was Jeremiah Wright. But he’s out. Then there’s William Ayers, with whom he served on a board. He’s out. Where are the others?

The oddity of this convention is that its central figure is the ultimate self-made man, a dazzling mysterious Gatsby. The palpable apprehension is that the anointed is a stranger — a deeply engaging, elegant, brilliant stranger with whom the Democrats had a torrid affair. Having slowly woken up, they see the ring and wonder who exactly they married last night.
Copyright 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

Normalizing Surveillance

In order to be a real leader you have to serve those you lead but do those who lead us serve us?

Do leaders of government and public servants conspire instead for private gain or hide poor policy?

I would have to say, “Of course!”

Palin’s Predators

Improving relations between humans is no simple task.

Improving relations between humans and bears is no simple task. It’s dangerous, folks are often hurt, especially as development encroaches.

Yet there are serious efforts and dedicated pioneers, for instance, as one man remembers:

cute polar bear cub thumbSometime during that afternoon I sprawled, belly down, on the kitchen floor.

One of the cubs climbed aboard, crawled up my back, and began to sniff and lick and paw at my neck and head. After a few minutes, he discovered my right ear. Grabbing hold, he began to chew and suck on it, much like (I guessed) he would suckle his mother’s teat.

Suddenly the cub began to purr. The purrs were like that of a cat, except deeper, more rumbling. It was something I’d never imagined a bear might do.

I lay there quietly, breathing in the purrs and the tickling of my ears, and felt as content, even peaceful, as I’d been in a long time.

But many believe that this new frontier to understand and sustain wildlife, to perhaps prevent extinction, is unimportant, and distracting. Sarah Palin has famously said today’s environmentalism is opportunistic, a field where specialists manipulate funding rather than science, a treachery of private agenda using public budgets she will fight to remove.

Thus, Sarah Palin claims to be protecting the environment by adhering to rules and removing fraud. But these claims are dubious at best. What has she done?

Her policies and appointments during her tenure as Governor and before show that she’s fought the old guard merely to become the vanguard of a new ‘domination politics’ in Alaska.

Palin says “Alaskans want hope and opportunity, leaders with vision. They don’t want leaders and candidates who are looking at everything as doom and gloom.”

With her kitchen optimism, she invigorates Alaskans. As old players are tarnished, new decision makers appear, but who are these new captains? A few are local. A few are global. A few are Party and D.C. wonks. Generally, these are replicate men and women, wanting power and prize as her combatants, but along with her, they are stubbornly parading family and freedom – a trick of trumpets that hides the elite and lures loyal followers to ignore who is winning the great favors. This is called politics and business.

Sarah Palin, rifle hunterYes, Sarah Palin is ordinary commerce and old politics. At bottom, studying current Alaska will reveal Wall Street in a bear rug. Nothing important here.

Evidence of her stumbling will continue. Americans may or may not avoid the spin. As time passes, relations with corporate capital and industrial project executives will appear that are far beyond her tiny reform and fungelical principles.

A small sample is her famed and infamous stand against listing the polar bear as an endangered species. Yes, she has changed boards and committees but research is baring more white than merely polar bears on ice floes. She may have only introduced another imperial conquest.

Here’s insight from the Anchorage Press where she confidently re-arranged Alaska’s decision making. Though a small sample, as they say in the Arctic, it’s the tip of an iceberg.

After The Times went out of business in 1992, I stopped being a regular at Board of Game meetings. Even as my attendance has lagged, my involvement in Alaska’s wildlife politics has increased substantially.

The first Board of Game I covered was immeasurably more balanced, moderate, and independent than the one we’ve got today. Its members included a federal wildlife researcher, a filmmaker, an outdoors columnist, a hunting guide, and leaders in the Native community. Their attitudes toward wildlife covered just about the entire spectrum, which provoked lively discussions.

But there was no group think, no larger agenda as there seems to be today, with a board that is dominated by men aligned with the Alaska Outdoor Council, a politically connected group of mostly white, male, urban sport hunters, who are fervent predator-control advocates.

Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears during summers are unreliable, Palin said. It’s her opportunity that only the White House agrees.

They’ve espoused a management system that in recent years has served an ever-narrower slice of Alaska’s population and, at every turn, has increased opportunities for recreational hunters and trappers to kill predators.

Under Governor Sarah Palin the current board would be entirely white, urban, and male, except for an uproar after appointments she made this past winter.

Palin backtracked and added one Native voice with rural roots to the panel. But there’s not a whisper of hope that it might include a non-Native who thinks outside the AOC box, someone who’s more of a wildlife watcher or naturalist or independent wildlife scientist than a hunter or trapper.

Across Alaska, Sarah Palin introduced and held open the door to her new cadre, declaring their purpose was to sweep away inefficient programs, dust away embedded agenda, remove professional malingerers, and bring new prosperity but her housekeeping is almost entirely sheltering big business and often radical proponents of the so-called free market.

“Unfortunately, people vote more for what they don’t want than what they do want,” says Ivan Moore, an Alaska pollster.

A local Alaskan has said, “I own a home in Sarah Palin’s hometown and lived there during her rise to power. I am amazed by the ease by which people like Palin can espouse distrust in government while simultaneously expand its grasp.

Palin was part of a movement that included her, Scott Ogan, Vic Kohring and the gang that told us government is bad, unless it is feeding our pet interests. The movement adopted its own lexicon which made things like public schools (renamed government schools) sound sinister and intruding.

Most importantly, the playbook involved the ‘divide and conquer’ approach. Government was responsible for all ills of society. The Palinistas were the true believers who would, in their great benevolence, build a great society where anyone who wasn’t like ‘us’ would be penalized.

John McCain seems to have picked up on this divide and conquer approach. His playbook to win the presidency is to appeal to our lesser dem ons and tell us the cause of all of our problems are the unorthodox (liberal leaning thinkers) among us and that government is what is holding us down. He’s recruited our woman Sarah to be his cheerleader in this cause.

She will be a great help to him in this strategy. She is of the ‘if you are not for us, you are against us’ school and will appeal to the part of our nation that believes we can change society by teaching creationism, ending a woman’s right to choose and defining good government as that which promotes the self-interest of a select few.

Another superb comment:

This Sarah Palin must truly be a noble soul, right? She’s going to prioritize the sanctity of life. She’s going to live up to her reputation as a crusader for “family values”. She must be absolutely inexhaustible. As governor of a state of such crucial importance to the rest of the nation, she must call upon her extensive education and experience to look out for the interests of all US citizens, and not just the tens of thousands who elected her to office. And that’s not all. Now she’s agreed to take on a bigger role of service to our country. She’s willing to accept the nomination to be our Vice President. Why is that? Well, as of the beginning of this month she didn’t even know. In her own words “I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?”

Stumbling with science, economics and social administration, not many other national leaders bring as many quaint omissions of urbane wisdom as Sarah Palin. Her candidate questionnaire for the Alaska 2006 gubernatorial race tells us her depth:

11. Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

Palin: “Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.”

A comment at DailyKoss about Palin’s naive answer said, “Reminds me of the story of Ma Ferguson, first woman governor of Texas (1925). She is often credited with the saying: ‘If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.'”

The headlines say we mustn’t worry about mundane Tweed-favored Alaskan arrangements. We are at war. Sabers rattle in hidden caves. Oil oligarchs haunt our garage and only our power and virtue can repel these dreads.

So in a manner most excellent as if Victoria comforts our retreating Empire, Cindy McCain tells George Stephanopoulos, “[R]emember, Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. It’s not as if she doesn’t understand what’s at stake here.”

Cindy Hensely McCain speaks to remind us that our foreign policy challenges are along the frigid coasts of the Czars. This Sarah did know as a child. Why then would Sarah falter in the heady halls of statesmanship and intellect? Pip, pip, pass the bubbly.

Oh America, my friends, let’s talk, don’t you see? Sarah Palin comes across so strong. She will assuage our nerves, rake our sloth, invoke our initiative, keep our conscience, bond our medical records, and, oh yes, look, from the highest hill in Fairbanks you can see, she will fill our gas tanks for a few months or a year….

Wasilla is the new wow!

But something is very wrong with this nomination! Sophistication is missing. Competence is missing. The steel and compassion and restraint of diplomacy is missing. Pure hard study and grasp is missing.

Palin’s father recently bought t-shirts hawked at the State Fair, the event of the year just down the highway from Governor Sarah Palin’s town of Wasilla: “Alaska: The Coldest State with the Hottest Governor”. Tonight the Fair closes, the booths are broken home, and TIME reports that there have got to be 500 people packed into a beer-soaked clapboard called the Sluice Box listening to honky-tonk.

“Here’s to the girl from the great Northwest,” he sings, “with tits as hard as a hornet’s nest.”

The crowd whistles its new prowess and approval.

Will Americans approve McCain-Palin?

As the days go by, citizens and journalists and legal watchdogs of our social weal will ask if Palin’s fjord diplomacy is adequate foreign policy and will study Palin’s appointments of government and commercial predators in Alaska.

High School, 1982, Sarah PalinThere may be other predators too.

Global predators with billions ready to engineer resources none of us will enjoy except to purchase.

Political predators that rearrange budgets no less tax drawn than scientists and green research.

Religious predators that gild new pulpits along the oh so persecuted remote.

A question more important than Sarah Palin, or the strength of political stumping and electoral sloganeering, is whether McCain and these Republicans are predators too. Are both Sarah and we their scent of blood?

Embryonic Palin

Palin, unknown, Palin ready to spank AmericaSarah Palin is a member of Feminists for Life and “Pro-Choice” is being co-opted.

Feminists for Life say that pioneer feminists of the 1960s and 1970s are selfish, diabolical creatures who never wanted women to have the choice to bear a child.

But that’s wrong.

Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life are ardently campaigning for the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

They tell women and families, “No woman should ever have to choose between having a child and a career. Abortion is a reflection that society has failed women. Women deserve better choices, practical alternatives and resources.”

Choices and ‘practical alternatives’ such as

  1. “single parenthood”
  2. “food stamps”
  3. “temporary assistance to the needy”
  4. “adoption”.

Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life are saying feminism is all about having choices, thus they choose to be cunning.

And many are alarmed that the McCain-Palin administration will also seek to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut, thus preventing the use of contraceptives by married couples in the belief that the birth control pill is abortion. The official Republican Party platform now calls for a ban on all embryonic stem cell research, public or private, derived from existing cell lines or not, further than Bush’s 2001 edicts. More on Palin-McCain on abortion here.

Interesting comments!

Has no one else noticed that Governor Palin was in her mid 40’s when she chose to have another child? Surely she is learned enough to know that the risk of bearing a Downs child is very high at that age. My guess is that she put her anti-abortion politics ahead of her family and went ahead with what was almost certainly an accidental pregnancy, to avoid losing her right wing support. Her lack of commitment to being a new mom is obvious by her immediate refusal to be a real mother, and return to politics.

Sarah Palin had her fifth child, a pre-mature baby with Down Syndrome, on April 18, 2008. What does this “pro-life” “hockey mom” do next? Two days later, she returned to work! Just what every newborn wants in a mom, especially one who is a month early, underweight, with complications. Not happy with getting out of the same room as this tender child, she decides less than five months later to get out of the state and embark on a grueling national campaign for the White House. Bye, mommy!

“She can choose single parenthood and use food stamps or temporary assistance to needy families.” This line caught my eye because some of the wingnut trolls in the comment sections of the Washington Post are complaining about Obama’s mother using food stamps while putting herself through college. They are apparently unaware that this is a good pro-life choice to make. How funny and sad.

You’re missing the point. Ruth’s article isn’t about promoting or debating the merits of choice, although she might support a woman’s right to choose. It’s about how Serrin Foster and Feminists for Life merely pay lip service to a feminism based on broader choices for women.

In light of the fact that Palin belongs to this organization, it raises questions about what kind of feminist she is.

And the best comment of all.

[If Sarah Palin and Feminists for Life say] “She can choose single parenthood and use food stamps or temporary assistance to needy families. She can choose adoption. Or, college-age women can pressure school campuses to offer child care and family housing so that they never, ever, have to choose between a pregnancy and an education.”

She’s obviously a Pro-Life Socialist. 🙂

Can a Republican be a Socialist? Yes, if we say that socialism is costly government and more costly government, then Republicans cost us the very, very most of all.

“Sarah Palin for Vice President, since she will lead the Republican Party’s march to Socialism.

“Her state government ranks Number 1 in spending per capita.

“The State has taken into its hands a good bit of the means of production, owning $28 billion in assets, as well as $36 billion in a ‘Permanent Fund’.

“They return this hoard to the People, in the form of annual checks. In 2007 it was $1,654 for every man, woman and child, of all races, colors, creeds, sexual orientations, disability, genders, and views on evolution. Free money!

“And where does all this dough come from, you might ask? The answer is, the state government taxes the bejeezus out of its oil production.”


News FlashPalin on Plane With McCain to Flood Plain

McCain made plans to travel to a threatened area of the Gulf Coast on Sunday, accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Aides report McCain may deliver his acceptance speech from the devastation zone if the storm hits the U.S. coast with the ferocity feared by forecasters.

This is wrong. Yet McCain pulpits,

“The great God, that he could spare — at a minimum — the loss that might result from this natural disaster. So my friends, as we enjoy this great rally, we will keep them in our thoughts and our hearts and our prayers.”

Officials of the convention, the Republican Party, the White House and the McCain campaign were all scrambling this weekend to rewrite more than a year of planning… but none for NOLA.

So let’s pour some water where it belongs! Here’s Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central take.

John McCain Chooses a Running Mate

Sarah Palin may be the ideological opposite of Hillary Clinton, but she’s her gynecological twin.

Mad, Mad McPalin

Mad John is Beyond the Palin DromeWasilla high school teammates called her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her fierce competitiveness, a fitting nom de guerre as Rageboy wishes for the McCain-Palin production of Mad John, Beyond Palin Drome.

A colleague from Alaska says, “Sarah is an unorthodox political original, I’ll give her that. [Try any]…crap with her, she’ll find a way to knock them back on their asses. I’ve been knocked on my ass a few times by her, and I can vouch for that.”

The most pro-gun candidate in the country, here are some of Barracuda Palin’s “thought processes” on issues of national relevance:

“I am a lifetime member of the NRA, I support our Constitutional right to bear arms and am a proponent of gun safety programs for Alaska’s youth…. I have always strongly supported the personal use of fish and game by Alaskans. I grew up hunting and fishing in Alaska, and I am proud to raise my children with this same uniquely Alaskan heritage. … Anti-hunting groups who oppose hunting and fishing rights will be the winners if we allow them to pit us against ourselves…. As an Alaskan with strong beliefs on this issue, I am confident in my ability to build consensus among diverse user groups and reconcile the many competing interests….”

“I am pro-life and I believe that marriage should only be between and man and a woman.”

May McPalin“As Mayor and CEO of the booming city of Wasilla, my team invited investment and encouraged business growth by eliminating small business inventory taxes, eliminated personal property taxes, reduced real property tax mill levies every year I was in office, reduced fees, and built the infrastructure our businesses needed to grow and prosper.”

“I respect our military personnel and understand the importance of Alaska’s National Guard. As I watched our military men and women being deployed I recognized how important it is for their families to know how much Alaska and America support them.”

“I support flexibility in government regulations that allow competition in health care that is needed, and is proven to be good for the consumer, which will drive down health care costs and reduce the need for government subsidies. I also support patients in their rightful demands to have access to full medical billing information.”

I very much doubt her health policy statements are more than repeating the RNC plank. Whether “competition in health care” is “proven to be good for the consumer” is a major social issue requiring the most sophisticated policy planning of our time.

Sarah Palin is in the midst of a global-scale battle between gold and salmon in Southwest Alaska. The Pebble Mine is a proposal to build one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world, and her efforts to loosen oversight of mine pollution rules reveal a dedicated campaign to invigorate Alaska’s resource industries while diluting the influence of both scientists and activists.

“I believe in protecting Alaska’s environment through fair enforcement of our environmental laws.”

But she was found to have overstepped while opposing Alaska’s Clean Water Initiative designed to protect Bristol Bay from mining – the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery.

Capitalizing raw materials, particularly ANWR oil, offshore drilling, pipelines, forestry, mega-mines and power plants are major new initiatives. Palin’s stance on heavy industry “is totally pro-development”.

Often not mentioning intense capital formation within Alaska’s oilfields or for new pipelines, Palin looks to walk a fine edge saying, “Having a clean record on environmental regulation is critical to getting ANWR open and maintaining our fisheries, mining, timber, and tourism industries.”

“Perhaps it was God who put these two great resources right next to each other,” said the chief executive of a foreign consortium that wants to mine the copper and gold deposit. “Just to see what people would do with them.”

“I am a conservative Republican, a firm believer in free market capitalism. A free market system allows all parties to compete, which ensures the best and most competitive project emerges, and ensures a fair, democratic process.”

Among several critics of her jingoist ‘free market’ plank, the Native community in Alaska is first to respond to the effects of price and service shortfall and her reliance on the magic of the free market. [link]

Palin meets with Alaska Native leadersIn the same company, Palin came across as flat, which is mildly surprising, since her husband is part Yupik and she repeatedly invoked her husband’s grandmother, Lena Andree, a former Bristol Bay Native Corp. Elder of the Year.

Palin’s talk about the Alaska Constitution didn’t resonate with a Native crowd, perhaps because of the 55 delegates who drafted it, in 1955, only one was an Alaska Native, at a time when Alaska Natives composed 30 to 40 percent of the population.

Palin’s message about getting government out of the way so that communities could choose their own paths may have been a miscalculation.

Alaska Natives don’t necessarily see that they have influence in an unfettered marketplace, said Carl Shepro, an Alaskan political science professor. “What they need is an equitable distribution of goods and services, and that’s not going to happen in bush Alaska if you leave it up to the marketplace.

Note: The campaign logo above was designed in May 2008.

Prayer Note: For a system that “allows all parties to compete” shall this please one day become a system, and a system that includes all its parts, not without salmon, not with poverty, not capped only by wealth.

Note: I double checked. The quote does state that Sarah Palin supports “the personal us
e of fish and game”, but we must presume only if “between a man and a woman”.

Palin, the hockey puck

She describes herself as a “hockey mom“.

McCain drove the selection process and, from the outset, was determined to make a bold, transformative pick that would help him win the White House in the worst political environment for Republicans in decades.

Stephan Hayes, a writer among the caffeinated crew at Weekly Standard, reports in How Palin Got Picked that “McCain’s selection of Palin ended a long and gut-wrenching selection process driven by the senator’s desire to do something unconventional.”

Was Rush Limbaugh an insider when he said on February 26, 2008,

“Will John McCain choose Gov Sarah Palin as his VP?

“Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is the youngest to take that office, suggested as a VP for McCain. Mother of four, she is a ‘babe’, you have to notice.”

“So would having Palin’s name on the ticket be enough to reconcile McCain and Limbaugh?” asked The Weekly Standard the very same day, while adding “Let us assure Rush–we noticed. A Draft Palin for VP campaign began in March.

Alaska Magazine, Sarah PalinThe cover of Alaska Magazine, February 2008:
When a reporter and photographers from Vogue magazine came to Alaska in December to do a story on her, Palin was sure she disappointed them.

“In the interview you could tell that the writer was trying to get me to focus on the gender and appearance issues, but I kept talking about energy and national security, and not relying on foreign sources of energy,” Palin said. “Finally, she stopped me and said, ‘I know that’s what you want to talk about, but this is a women’s fashion magazine.’ I don’t know about fashion. It’s bunny boots and fleece and The North Face. So I tried to talk about that, but it’s just not the way I’m wired.”

Sarah Palin, fashion and furThis picture seems to have been clipped from Alaska’s annual Little Norway Festival, celebrating Vikings since 1958.

Born in 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho, Sarah Palin graduated from the University of Idaho in journalism after attending 5 colleges in 6 years. She is the 11th governor of Alaska and is the youngest as well as the only female to hold that office.

“She comes from the same kind of stock as most North Idaho folks do. She would have made a dandy politician in North Idaho … because of her values, which I’m sure she got from her father.”

“Chuck Heath [Sarah’s father] spent his youth hunting, fishing and playing sports before starting his career as a middle school science teacher, said childhood friend and former Idaho state Sen. Kermit Kiebert.” [link]

The Children’s Defense Fund Action Council rated McCain as America’s worst Senator for children, failing to support these bills affecting children:

  1. Increase minimum wage (H.R. 2)
  2. Increase funding for children with disabilities (S. Con. Res. 21)
  3. Protect children from unsafe medications (S. 1082)
  4. 2008 Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 21)
  5. SCHIP Reauthorization (H.R. 976)
  6. College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669)
  7. SCHIP (H.R. 976 – motion to concur)
  8. DREAM Act (S. 2205)
  9. Funding child health and education (H.R. 3043)
  10. Improving Head Start programs (H.R. 1429)

As if children might matter, evangelical Republicans such as Huckabee and the same theocratic wing of the party as Sarah Palin, strive to repeal Roe v. Wade. And some are alarmed that the McCain-Palin administration will also seek to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut, thus preventing the use of contraceptives by married couples in the belief that the birth control pill is abortion.

I’m beginning to pale on Palin, but this is an ‘out-of-nowhere’ selection for VP candidacy.

I hope I’ve collected information and provided insight, bent to Barrack I admit. Palin’s nomination is a curious thing, perhaps malfeasance or Alzheimer’s. More than one columnist believes this nomination is Manifestly Unserious and fails a reasonable test to fulfill the requirements of the office.

McCain doesn’t really know Palin, but that’s still frightening. Knowledge and understanding of all the foreign policy crises to which McCain is always referring — al Qaeda, Islamo-facists, Iran, Russia, Georgia — that stuff doesn’t really matter if one stands up to the special interests at the Wasilla PTA [link]

Sarah Palin on the podiumBut not to worry.

Charlie Black, one of McCain’s top advisers, reassures us when he says McCain won’t die and Sarah has time to learn:

“She’s going to learn national security at the foot of the master for the next four years, and most doctors think that he’ll be around at least that long.” [link]

Other posts about Sarah Palin are:
Governor-elect Palin – appointments and relations in Alaska politics
Palpable befuddlement – noticing that America is on fire
Confounded Palin Pundits – coming up to breathe among many
McMoose in downtown Wasilla – reactions in Alaska and elsewhere
Sarah Palin’s Bridge to Pork – hiring D.C. lobbyists for Wasilla!?
Alaska 50% United – some say Alaska’s men will vote
Silly Sarah – photoshopped in 2007, they said “She’s a female George W. Bush.”

Governor-elect Palin

Governor Palin fishingState Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Palin’s hometown of Wasilla, said she thought it was a joke when someone called her at 6 a.m. to give her the news.

“She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?”

“Look at what she’s done to this state. What would she do to the nation?” [link]

As Governor-elect Sarah Palin said her staff would be appointed “to look under the hood of state government and tell her what they think needs fixing”. Her Chief of Staff was Mike Tibbles who has moved over to become Ted Stevens’ campaign manager [link]. Here’s a “look at what she’s done to this state” with samples of her decisions as Governor-elect and Governor:

  1. She re-organized law enforcement into “blue shirts” and “brown shirts” – Alaska State Troopers who patrol towns and cities and provide police protection, and Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection who safeguard fish and wildlife.
  2. To lead the state’s Administrative departments, she appointed the treasurer of Chugach Electric Association.
  3. Appointed a real estate lawyer to lead the Department of Community & Economic Development,
  4. an elementary school principal as chief of the Department of Education,
  5. and for the Department of Environmental Conservation, she appointed a VP of Usibelli Coal and a VP of Sealaska Corp to ensure “representation for two of Alaska’s prime industries, mining and fisheries”.
  6. It’s known that she seeks to liberalize wildlife management rules to permit culling from aircraft, but not well known that her chief of the Department of Fish & Game is against Native and rural ‘preferences’ for subsistence hunting and fishing.
  7. Governor Palin’s appointment for leading Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services is a nurse practitioner, “president of the Anchorage Republican Women’s Club, which raised thousands of dollars for Palin’s campaign”.
  8. The Department of Law is led by the former executive director for the Alaska Board of Game.
  9. Palin was “apparently reaching out to another person with experience in serving as a small town mayor” by appointing the first Alaska Native woman elected mayor of Nome to lead the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
  10. There’s a froth of appointments and firings over oil and pipelines. Too much for this post.

    Although it’s noteworthy that she appointed an executive of a corporation formed to develop the Arctic Slope as chief of Alaska’s Department of Revenue.

  11. And Chuck Kopp becames the top cop in Alaska heading the Department of Public Safety.

Source, Alaska Pride, November 2006.

The State of Alaska website had posted other 2006 appointments including Alaska’s longtime Executive Director of Catholic Social Services as Health and Social Services Commissioner, 30-year board member with the National Bank of Alaska as Community & Economic Development Commissioner, and a local attorney and part-time history professor as Alaska’s Attorney General to provide a “fresh perspective” and a “strict interpretation” of Alaska’s Constitution. [cache version]

Palpable befuddlement

thumb - Gov. Sarah Palin McCain only met Palin once. [link]

Karl Rove, “She’s the mayor of, I think, the second largest city in Alaska before she ran for governor.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “Gov. Palin took on Ted Stevens. If she can take him on, she can take on the Russians.”

“It’s not that Sarah Palin is inexperienced. It’s that this is gross political misconduct.” [column]

“…the possibility that Obama might win Alaska did not worry Palin.” [link]

Local Alaskans criticize Palin, July. “The bloom is definitely falling off the rose in Alaska, and the Palin honeymoon may be finally wearing off.” [blog]

Sarah Palin's parents, Chuck and Sally HeathPalin’s parents surprised, pleased and proud.

“On a one to 100 scale, it’s about 101,” Sally Heath said. Arriving back at home in the early morning hours… “It was a total surprise,” Chuck Heath said.

Palin’s staff had no idea.
Palin’s press secretary, Bill McAllister, said he didn’t find out about the VP position until after 5:30 a.m. today. [August 29]

“This is like hiring a carpenter who is good with a saw to be the person to operate on your tumor.” [comment]

Oops. Pentecostal upbringing and relations with Israel? [column] Palin supported anti-Semitic Pat Buchanan for president [link]. (Thanks Polly)

Column upon column of reactions at Huffington Post. [link]

Supportive local: “Finally an honest politician Alaska can be proud of rises to national level. I will give her all my support. Alaskans must unite to help Governor Palin with everything she needs in the coming months. I for one am ready to man the phones, process mail, babysit, clean her house, anything she needs.”

Supportive local: “There’s no better person to identify with Alaskans and every day Americans.”

Wasilla High School principal Dwight Probasco … plans to make T-shirts. [link]

Supportive: “Some of the things she did was to put the state’s airplane up for sale on eBay. Governor, You’re No Dan Quayle.” But Sarah Palin fibs about selling the jet on eBay.

More Republican ‘support’:

The McCain campaign has reveled in its down-to-earth appeal, knowing the middle-class is key to any general election. It paints Obama as the out-of-touch celebrity, McCain as the humble war hero.

But, with the recent attention given to McCain’s definition of rich, his ignorance of the palaces he keeps, and the transformation of his Straight-Talk Express to the No-Talk Jet, the appeal’s been tarnished.

Palin’s the perfect spit-shine; She fishes. She hunts. She started her career as a sportswriter. Her eldest son Track enlisted in the army on September 11, 2007, and, in a perfect media moment, will be deployed to Iraq on September 11, 2008. Her husband is a champion snowmobile racer, and is often referred to in Alaska as First Dude.

Lastly, as an added bonus for those who are worried that McCain would lose the evangelical flock, Palin is a conservative Christian who opposes abortion. In short, for all her inexperience, Palin brings some formidable qualities to the table.

A Republican’s concise and crippling look at The Maverick’s other options. [link]

Confounded Palin Pundits

McCain PalinOpinion is on fire. It’s an utter free-for-all as everybody tries to figure out McCain and his tactics, dig up insight about Sarah Palin, or dirt, or search for her husband’s contact with other women.

Facts are few. There’s not a long record. Alaska politics is smaller than San Diego, listing or not listing polar bears.

She’s not a ‘reformer’ merely because of two or three legislative bills. She’s not a ‘muckraker’ because scandals were all over Alaska prior to her swearing in. She doesn’t seem to be a ‘humanitarian’ offering zero support for native programs. She’s not a ‘maverick’ because bargaining extra cash from oil companies is a tradition in Alaska. She’s not a ‘commander’ with only a tiny state guard, regardless miles of coastline near dreaded Russia. She’s not rated highly either, dropping to 67% in a fully Republican state where it seems that 80% can be seen as low.

She’s canned her Christian tho’ and will gather hardwired defenders. Perhaps her sincerity will energize believers, and might lift the crowd away from some of its hate, a task becoming important and necessary.

Sarah Palin, Alaska GuardAnother Alaskan, Shannyn Moore has written an article that seriously questions some aspects of Governor Palin’s judgment and posted this picture of Sarah Palin behind a .50 caliber machine gun, “doing her Michael Dukakis impression last year”.

I just don’t get it. This is a new form of politics to me.

Maybe mall mining and television imprints are powerful, but I’m thinking the decision might be pure numbers.

I mean, the campaign has rented a mainframe and crunched the electorate in the red states and realized they could squeak through if they can succeed in firing up the ‘loyalists’ to get out to the polls. This decision must be pure political engineering.

McMoose in downtown Wasilla

McMooseFrom Alaska’s MudFlats blog:

“Before her meteoric rise to political success as governor, just two short years ago Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla.

“I had a good chuckle at’s claim that she had been the mayor of “Wasilla City”. It is not a city. Just Wasilla.

“Wasilla is the heart of the Alaska “Bible belt”.

“Sarah was raised amongst the tribe that believes creationism should be taught in our public schools, homosexuality is a sin, and life begins at conception.

“She’s a gun-toting, hang ‘em high conservative.

“Remember…this is where her approval ratings come from. [currently 67% in a fully red state]

Wasilla downtown saloon“… a picture of lovely downtown Wasilla, for those of you unfamiliar with the area.

“Behind the Mug-Shot Saloon … is a little strip mall. There are street signs in Wasilla with bullet holes in them.

“Wasilla has a population of about 5500 people, and 1979 occupied housing units. This is where your potential Vice President was two short years ago.

“Can you imagine her negotiating a nuclear non-proliferation treaty? Discussing foreign policy? Understanding non-Alaskan issues? Frankly, I don’t even know if she’s ever been out of the country.

“She may ‘get’ Alaska, but there are only a half a million people here.”

“Don’t get me wrong….I love Alaska with all my heart. I’m just saying.”

Another Alaskan says, “Obama is Churchill compared to Palin“.

The Governor of Alaska can afford to paint in broad strokes. Alaska’s issues tend to be big and wide, like the state. Even so, Governor Palin has made some expected rookie missteps: the firing of our top cop amidst a scandal surrounding a rogue state trooper who Palin’s ex-brother-in-law is the latest. Sarah is still learning her chops. She is the former mayor of Wasilla, an entirely pleasant patch of near wilderness between Anchorage and Fairbanks. She walked out of the woods to become governor.

Here’s another first person report from Wasilla: Sarah Palin was my mayor

Today, [after] Sarah Palin’s leadership, Wasilla has become the picture of exurban sprawl: an explosion in the housing stock, tons of new highway expansion, tons of new big box stores and fast food franchises, and absolutely 0 sustainability. Combined with a lack of zoning, and a predilection for building open-pit gravel mines all over the place, and Wasilla could be the poster-town for bad municipal leadership.

Wasilla, like a lot of Alaska, is defined by its remoteness. It is a 45 mile drive from Anchorage, yet functions primarily as a bedroom community.

Alaska town grew under Palin’s tenure, Associated Press, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Sarah Palin, Wasilla City HallWasilla is the type of frontier town where people are comfortable driving around in full- and super-sized pickups.

Many times, these trucks are hauling trailers loaded with camouflaged four-wheelers as they prepare to go fall moose hunting or boats for salmon fishing on many of the nearby rivers and creeks.

But the town still has a frontier feel about it; residents can even stop in the Mug Shot Saloon for a cold one.

But the city’s rapid growth combined with Alaska’s short construction season means news buildings went up fast. These are sturdy, practical buildings meant more to endure the winter than please the eye.

To be honest, with boxy, basic and unadorned structures and unattractive strip malls, Wasilla doesn’t handsome up much.

With growth has come national retailers. In the last decade, the city has attracted numerous big-box stores including Target, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Home Depot, Lowe’s, a Super Wal-Mart, and now a Costco is being built.

With each ingredient on sale in Wasilla, here’s Sarah Palin’s Recipe for Middle East Peace.

Sarah Palin’s Bridge to Pork

Sarah Palin stumps that she returns pork, but she seems to be a pork professional.

In fact, Palin has always been a pork-crazed maniac, the kind of straw man McCain loves to bash on the stump.

This year Alaska received nearly $100 million more in pork than any other state ($379,669,715). According to the Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, Palin employs the lobbying firm Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates to seek earmarks for the state of Alaska.

You think the vetters missed that when they were looking into her past? If so they also missed this:

According to that same Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, Palin paid the lobbying firm of Hoffman Silver Gilman & Blasco to lobby on behalf of the City of Wasilla while she was mayor – an office she won in 1996 by collecting 617 votes – and according to Citizens Against Government Waste, in 2000 the City of Wasilla received

  1. a $1 million transportation earmark for the Wasilla Intermodal Facility for bus and bus related facilities while
  2. Wasilla’s Life Quest Community Mental Health Center gobbled up a $500,000 earmark, same amount as the town’s emergency shelter, although less than
  3. the $600,000 earmark for the Wasilla city bus facility. Meanwhile Wasilla received
  4. a $1 million earmark for the Wasilla Regional Dispatch Center,
  5. a $1.5 million earmark for water and sewer improvements, and
  6. a $2.6 million transportation earmark for an alternative route project.

And back then only 5,000 people lived there.

Now that’s pork.

Did Palin Really Fight The “Bridge To Nowhere”?

Alaska 50% United

Alaska Anonymous was at the coffee shop in Kodiak today:

A young Sarah Palin“I saw a gentleman say some negative things about her as governor and every single woman in the place…and I mean every single one of them verbally lambasted him or gave him dirty looks.

“Not sure how this will play outside of Alaska but it looks like McCain’s got the woman’s/mom vote here.

“I was just about to jump in with my opinion, but when I saw what happened to him discretion became the better part of valor, and I grabbed my coffee and left.”

Silly Sarah

She has more experience catching fish than dealing with foreign policy or national affairs.

Talk about a rocketing ascent.

Of course she is bright and clear-minded but not strong enough to refuse being pandered by cynical old men. No, I don’t mean Chris Locke.

Searching local blogs in Alaska, I found this anonymous comment:

“Her creds are perfect: a slave to whatever the party tells her she must say to get elected. A little light on the skids intellectually. Anti abortion Pro Jesus PRo Guns Pro Oil and , oh yeah, nobody else wanted the job.

She’s a female George W. Bush.”

POTUS impressed

This is anything but thinking about the dead:

In his memoir of his year in Baghdad as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer recalled that President Bush once told him that the leader of a new Iraqi government had to be “someone who’s willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq.”

Bremer noted that Bush made this point three times in the course of a single conversation and further insisted that the president of Iraq’s first interim government should be Ghazi al-Yawar, an obscure Sunni Arab businessman, because Bush “had been favorably impressed with his open thanks to the Coalition.”

small plans ahead

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

ee cummings

The real surge

Linda McQuaig talks about inequality and elitism in the US presidential election:

A fundamental problem in the last few decades – both in Canada and the United States – has been the relentless campaign waged by the financial elite to overturn postwar social and economic policies that provided significant gains for the middle and lower classes in the decades following World War II.

The campaign has been phenomenally successful. As a result, the poor have lost ground, while the middle class have barely held their own or made small advances – by working longer hours or having two-income families.

Only the rich have thrived.

Boot ’em out

The addiction to the arrogant religion of game theory is over. Now is the time. Profiteering will give way to our prosperity. Now is the time. Our civility returns.

McCrowds for the camera

But when it comes down to it, the line at Invesco is 3 miles long. Obama will have 75,000 people cheering tonight.

McCain is trying to counter that with 10,000 people in Ohio tomorrow to announce his VP pick. Only one problem. They can’t even get 10,000:

Tickets are still available for Sen. John McCain’s Friday, Aug. 29, rally at Wright State University’s Nutter Center in Fairborn. – Dayton Daily News

They’re giving away free tickets in several states and plan to bus in supporters.

Wheeled feedback

SPEED-VEST is a bicycle safety deviceThis is a superb, if challenging, product already at the prototype stage.

I first thought, “Impossible”, but no.

Quote: “The SPEED-VEST is a bicycle safety device and advocacy tool which displays the wearer’s current speed on their back in easy-to-read lighted numerals. It improves rider conspicuity while legitimizing bicycle speeds on the roadway. Originally conceived by Brady Clark and engineered by Mykle Hansen.”

Advocacy tool? Conspicuity? But combined with tiny cameras and flash drives, an entire traffic ‘event’ can be recorded.


About time

We can say goodbye to centuries too.

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

“I have a dream”, Martin Luther King. Forty five years ago today. Complete text, audio recording and video here.

Gossip for change

Maybe, just hopefully, this article is a sign of things to come, when as Jon Stewart says, media will get out of the spin room and write real info: writes a story on hotel hedonism, the world’s worst hotel guests.

1. Amy Winehouse
2. Salvador Dali
3. Britney Spears
4. Axl Rose
5. Mariah Carey
6. Russell Crowe
7. Naomi Campbell
8. George Schultz
9. Mikhail Prokhorov
10. Brandon Davis
11. Nicole Kidman
12. Michael Jackson
13. Johnny Depp
14. 1998 U.S. Men's Hockey team
15. Keith Moon

Very interesting. A story that is both yuicky and enlightening.

Cloud in the ear

BlueAnt Wireless’ new V1 – the first voice-controlled Bluetooth headset.

Sidestep buttons.

Control functions with phrases like “pair me,” “call home,” “call favorite,” “call Goog-411,” and “accept or ignore call.”

It’s beginning!

Soon, voice commands will pipe to the Cloud and through VPN to home/office. I set up a few workshops on this subject in ’84 so I’m glad to see it arrive – proposing tiny in-the-ear radio that were still illegal in the USA at the time.

Now everybody can be prompted, not just media and candidates and quarterbacks.

Next? Retina Monitors in 3D?

And he’s running for the Presidency??

FuturePundit posted this:

Before you die of old age you will spend about the last 15 years of your life getting dumber

That’s living for ya.

They call it a ‘terminal decline phase’. Excuuuse me?

Your ability to compare figures will go before your spatial ability which in turn will go before your verbal ability. But it is all down, down, down until your whole body crashes.

The start of the decline is different for various cognitive abilities.

  1. Perceptual speed, which measures how quickly people can compare figures, begins declining nearly 15 years before death.
  2. Spatial ability starts declining nearly eight years before death.
  3. And verbal ability starts declining about six-and-a-half years before death.

Airbrushed Election War

TIME published a short article based on an insider to Russian politics:

Russia’s leaders see a big distinction between the U.S. and Europe, and will be careful to make that clear. “We know there is a huge difference between the E.U. and the U.S.,” he says. “We know that the Bush administration is working for the election of John McCain. The real order to kill South Ossetians came from Dick Cheney. If Obama [becomes] President and investigates how the Iraq war started, Dick Cheney would be imprisoned. The Neocons believe Obama is a weak politician and they will stop him by any means.

The main idea is to create imitations of the Cold War between Russia and the West… We know that [to show Obama up] Neocons will carry out another provocation against Russia probably in Ukraine and we are ready for this.

“Russia’s interests coincide closely with the E.U. The E.U. is not interested in civil war in Ukraine… Russia will be very careful and not touch the pipelines because they influence many countries. Russia will be quite moderate on this issue. The most important issue is protecting human life, not pipelines. Pipeline politics is the tactic of the Neocons.”

That events in Georgia are timed for our election is being picked up by media in Europe as well:

Georgian crisis is US ploy
Putin says conflict planned to create neo-cold war climate that would boost John McCain.