September 28, 2008

My Palin prediction

And I am not exactly ready to bet the retirement fund on this, just so you know, nor actually any real money. After all, gambling is immoral, right? :) But after watching the floundering of Sarah Palin, as well as the chorus of voices calling for her to tell the world she has to "spend more time with her family," I am predicting that the VP debate this Thursday will not take place. I read somewhere that internal McCain higher-ups are completely appalled with Palin's inability to manage the issues in interviews, mock debates, and mock press conferences.

McCain is in a bind. He obviously didn't vet her, and didn't even choose her on his own. He took a flier on an untested and unprepared candidate to appease the religious right and that gamble is weighing on his campaign like an albatross. If he fires her, he risks losing the right and that would doom his campaign. But if he keeps her, he risks losing the rest of the country and dooming his campaign. I would not be surprised if Palin invokes some family emergency (with an infant child and pregnant daughter that would not be either unreasonable or difficult to do) and bowing out. It cannot look like McCain pushed her out, though I suspect that is certainly a possibility.

More likely, I think is that McCain looks at his chances in November and thinks he is a long shot as it is. Booting Palin doesn't actually help him either, and he may decide that he should just stick with her. But I am going to be surprised if they don't pull some kind of stunt to delay the debate until..., well, maybe December.

When your VP candidate is such a joke that SNL can pull direct quotes (lengthy ones too) in a "parody" of your interview with Couric, you are in trouble. It is one thing to mock mannerisms or speech patterns, but when your entire candidacy IS the joke--that isn't good.

September 27, 2008

RIP, Paul Newman

Very sad news this morning that the great Paul Newman passed away. I have always admired him as an actor, citizen, and human being. He will be missed.

On torture

Some good news from the debate, as Melissa Rogers notes was John McCain's rejection of torture. :
"MCCAIN: . . . . [W]e've got to -- to make sure that we have people who are trained interrogators so that we don't ever torture a prisoner ever again.

LEHRER: Two minutes, Senator Obama.
OBAMA: . . . . I give Senator McCain great credit on the torture issue, for having identified that as something that undermines our long-term security -- because of those things, we, I think, are going to have a lot of work to do in the next administration to restore that sense that America is that shining beacon on a hill."
As I noted on Melissa's blog, the one problem with this is the implication that the problem was the interrogator's training, and not the moral bankruptcy of our civilian leadership. I know McCain doesn't want to call Bush out on this--at least partially because there are many parts of his base that approve of torture--but that was a bit of sleight of hand, and I wish Obama would have made that point. Also, he could have pointed out (though he was trying to be conciliatory) that McCain had also helped Bush retain the right to authorize torture through the CIA.

A very interesting quote on the bailout

H/t to SOF for this quote from the Archbishop of York:
"'the President of the United States recently announced a $700 billion bailout plans for banks and financial institutions. One of the ironies about this financial crisis is that it makes action on poverty look utterly achievable. It would cost $5 billion to save six million children's lives. World leaders could find 140 times that amount for the banking system in a week. How can they now tell us that action for the poorest on the planet is too expensive?'"

I was struck by the amount last night when Obama mentioned again how much we have spent in Iraq. Imagine if we had a President so dedicated to eradicating poverty as he was to pursuing his own personal demons in the middle-east? Imagine if we had Congressional leaders who were less consumed by ideological nonsense and devoted to making the world a little better place?

September 26, 2008

Trypod update

Just a quick note. L brought little Trypod over this evening so we could see him. He has grown tremendously since bounding around here chasing Abbie, and despite his most recent operation, moves incredibly well and is a very happy kitten. I will try and post some photos tomorrow. But thanks for all who contributed and all the good thoughts. I know he is just a kitten in a world gone crazy, but he is our little friend and we are so very glad he is doing well.

Good night to all of my other friends.

The Debate

I can't watch for more than a few moments. When McCain turns dickish, I just have to leave the room. That means every time he speaks. "What Senator Obama doesn't understand..." or "that is dangerous talk."

Yeah, like joking about bombing Iran wasn't.

I am biased. My mind has been made up since Bush authorized torture and then defended it. The Republicans have lost the moral authority to lead, and I will not vote for another one until they clean house. I am biased.

But I think Obama has passed the "Presidential" threshold. McCain, from what I saw, landed a few soft shots on Obama's sub-committee, but the rest of his stuff was more lies, and more defense of Bush policies. Except he doesn't claim they are Bush policies.


I especially liked when he named his "partner." Though I am pretty sure he didn't actually name her, nor note that her proximity to Russia made her a foreign policy guru.


Oh. My. God. She is In. Over. Her. Head.

Just watch. If you dare. Here she talks about the economic bailout and even looking at her notes, she has no understanding of the economy. Rod Dreher (I will find the link later) compared her to a college student who tries to take an exam after not preparing. I think she is like the college student who tried to cram two years of information in a couple hours. Either way, she only knows vague talking points.

It is really sad to watch. But she isn't getting better. And I am not the only one who thinks so. H/t to one of my yoga friends for this story noting that conservative commentator Kathleen Parker has called on Palin to step down. Silly Kathleen. Sarah doesn't "blink" and I am pretty sure stepping down would qualify.

But if you are losing the Parkers and the Drehers, you are losing the Conservative enthusiasm you were brought in for.

McCain as leader

And it looks horrible. Not only did he pull what is clearly a political stunt by fake suspending his campaign (you really didn't think that meant that he stopped campaigning, did you?), but he clearly inserted himself into this mess to blow it up worse. He is starting to remind me of his idol, Teddy Roosevelt in that he seems to want to be the "bride at every wedding, or the corpse at every funeral."

What is more, as you read through this story, you constantly see McCain refusing to take a side. So he blew up negotiations, and now is circling looking to see which plan looks like it might work, so he can take credit for it. Or, alternatively, which plan he can use as a weapon against Obama. This isn't leadership. This is political grandstanding at a very bad time.

Country first? I think not.

September 25, 2008

Suspending the blog

Not really, but that is the joke going around after McCain's gambit. Many think it is a pure political trick aimed at protecting Sarah Palin from dominating the news.

And she is not very good. And she still hasn't faced up to scary reporters--but is prepared to face up to Putin?

McCain thinks so little of this country that he is willing to put a person one heartbeat away from the President who is not prepared to answer questions from the media. Prepared to back up the President, but not prepared to answer any meaningful questions.

Her candidacy is an insult to women for sure, and an insult to America.

September 24, 2008

Back update and a couple of news items

The back is feeling better, finally. Still not exactly ready to go jogging as I have some pain in the leg and a slight amount of numbness in the last two toes on that leg. I have learned a little anatomy along the way, and know that my problem originates in the L4 and L5 area and most likely a herniated or bulging disk that is pressing on the S1 nerve. Or something.

The PT people have been pretty spectacularly good. Little scary at times as I have been hooked up to electrodes and placed on a traction machine, but all of their treatment has helped tremendously. I think it will still be some time before that disk returns to something approaching normal, and even then, as my therapist noted yesterday, I will have to be "on my game" in how I lift and how I tend to my core strength.


The news is still about the bailout, but it appears that strange bedfellows has a chance to pull together conservative Republicans and Democrats in challenging this blank check. If you want some humor regarding the bailout, Jon Stewart last night had a clip of some news person explaining how much 700 billion was in McDonald's apple pies. He also noted that our still President explained the banking crisis as a "house of cards." Nice.

And the Nation's Christopher Hayes has this amazingly funny satire. Yes, our top economic advisors are now similar to those poor Nigerian refugees that need our help.


Because the subject is never far from my mind, I note this from one of Sully's readers:
"I just finished reading 'The Dark Side' and one of the things that struck me the most was the fact that so many of the people involved in condoning and justifying torture in the administration were devout Christians. And yet few if any of these people, up to and including the Christian-in-Chief, seem to have had any hesitation or misgivings about these practices.

Correct me if I am wrong; but these are the same people who claim that the example of this 1st Century Pacifist who was himself tortured to death is the guiding lite in their lives. I don't get it."
I made this point before when I suggested that Mel Gibson might remake his film to reflect this inconsistency.


Speaking of Christian conservatives, this story from the Christian Post is just too funny. (Tony beat me to the story, but said I could still blog about it.) Lifeway bookstores pulled an edition of Gospel Today Magazine becaus the front cover featured five women pastors and conservative evangelicals worried exposure to female pastor might lead to dancing and voting Democratic.

Ok, I made that last part up, but it is just too funny to watch the gymnastics. Female pastors? Hell no, but no problem if those same women were nominated (by a Republican only) to the Veep spot.
Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also weighed in the topic of women serving in leadership roles in his recent commentary on women and the election.

He rejected misunderstandings that the denomination wants women to be "subservient" to men, citing the SBC's confession of faith that states woman and man are "equal worth before God."

But he drew from teachings in the New Testament to support the Southern Baptist position on women pastors. In 1 Timothy 2:12, "the Apostle Paul instructs that 'a woman is not to usurp authority over the man,'" explained Land.

"Most Southern Baptists have understood this to mean that women are not to be pastors of local churches, since the pastoral office is a position of authority," he said.

Although the denomination doesn't agree with women serving as pastors, said Land, it does not oppose women serving in leadership roles in public service, such as the vice presidency.
Yeah, oddly that requirement that women not usurp authority over men doesn't apply to Sarah Palin. Todd will still be the boss of her, so that is ok.

Ok. Whatever. This "up is down" thing is kind of funny to watch. Since unwed pregnant teenagers have become a good thing (in certain families), I am now waiting for an affair to become a sign of good Christian faith. Oh wait.

September 23, 2008

Palin's lies

Sully has a list of 12 documented Palin lies. Doesn't even include the other bad governance tactics--using secrecy, cronyism, and vindictive firing to force allegiance.

Nothing new here with Palin. In fact, we have a pretty good idea what this type of governance at the federal level can do to a country.

Our battered economy

I haven't posted since Saturday. I guess I have not had much to say (those who know me say otherwise).

Partly, I have been watching this economic nightmare, as have, I am sure, most of you. My initial response was relief that the government was going to step in. I truly feared, with faith-based policies like we have seen in the past, some kind of Hooverian "the market will work itself out" response. I am pleasantly gratified that Bush recognizes the gravity of the situation. He still isn't willing to acknowledge his own participation in that situation, but after 8 years, I have come to expect that.

I am also gratified that Congress is at least talking about challenging the "blank check" portion of this bailout. As Paul Krugman noted, the rhetoric over the weekend resembled very closely how this administration approached the war in Iraq: "just trust us, or you will die." That is wearing thin.

This morning's NYTimes suggests that Democrats (and even some Republicans) are standing up. Harry Reid said that Senate Dems were ready to move quickly, but
“We’ll respond with the urgency of action that this situation demands, but after eight years of fiscal dereliction of duty, it’s time for accountability.

It is my hope that the outcome of this will be more than a restructuring of our banking system, but a fundamental shift from blaming government for all our ills. Reagan's charge that government was "the problem" is the juvenile rantings of the Republican party--kind of like the kid who blames all his problems on his parents or teachers. Grownups can (usually) see nuance and realize the benefits and potential of government to provide reasonable regulation and oversight. This attack on government fundamentally forgets our basic American political philosophy--that we ARE the government.

But Republicans will continue to be a problem, I am sure. Read the NY Times story and tell me that Mitch McConnell is not an idiot. The same people who gutted our regulations and proclaimed the magical genius of the free market are now demanding a blank check for the government and no questions.

Time for a change. Hell, long past time.

September 20, 2008

McCain wanted to do the same thing to the healthcare that he and Gramm did to banking

And let's face it, this is so much more interesting and relevant than lipstick on a pig or a pitbull. McCain has now become the scourge of Wall Street, but not that long ago, he was trumpeting the positives from deregulating the banking industry, and promising to do the same for healthcare. Here, from a poorly worded blog post from Yglesias:
"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

Will the American people buy that he is the guy to fix all this mess when he and Gramm helped create it, and bragged about doing so?

This, it seems to me, will become one of those political philosophical discussions for this election. And McCain has already jumped off the ship. How does one argue for de-regulating when Republicans themselves are pushing a half-trillion dollar bail out of the last great deregulated industry? That, and how does the Republican party continue the mantra of "government as the problem" when they are now dependent on government to keep our economy from tanking?

September 19, 2008

Maybe even Republicans like government today--or they should

But they might want to stop the irresponsible and destructive political dialogue of bashing everything government does. And they should stop listening to people like Phil Gramm. About anything.

Bush Urges Congress to Enact Rescue Package - "
In remarkably grim language for a president known for his economic optimism, Bush defended the federal government's 'targeted measures' in recent weeks to shore up collapsing credit markets, but said there is now an 'urgent need' for even broader government intervention."

But when McCain economic advisor (and rumored Treasury Sec) was in the Senate, he did everything he could to gut regulations on lenders, all in the name of free enterprise. But when that unfettered chaos leads to massive internal bleeding in our economy, now we are forced to step in. "Moral hazzard" has very little meaning when the hazzard is complete economic collapse.

I like what Bush has done here. I really do. I don't understand why he bailed out Bears Stearns and not Lehman, but I think part of that was not having a plan in place. But they have reacted positively to stop the bleeding and shore up these institutions. What bugs the crap out of me is that this could have been avoided with oversight, but the same Republican mantra of "cut taxes" went along with "deregulation." McCain bragged about deregulating business, though now he wants to reform Wall Street. His VP candidate wants to reform, well, everything, but wants to reform Wall Street so we can "get government out of our economy." As if that isn't what started this all.

And before conservatives jump me for blaming Republicans completely for this mess, I do think they should take a huge hit on this, but I also think that toward the end of the Clinton admin, Rubin led the way on deregulating a lot of this. He deserves some of this blame.

Today is a good reminder that government isn't our enemy, and Republicans should stop saying that. It can't solve everything, but we better hope it can do something here or all of the "my wealth is my wealth" won't mean anything.

Speaking of that, the Daily Show was pretty amazing last night. If you didn't see it, I suggest you watch the interview with Tony Blair, though I thought it was one of the more uncomfortable interviews I have seen in a while. Stewart really went after him, and Blair looked uneasy, at least to me. He reminds me that for Bush and Blair, the war has to have been right. It just has to.

But I also enjoyed the rest of the show, especially this take on Sean Hannity's "interview" of Sarah Palin. We learn that admitting that the economy is bad, according to Hannity, is unpatriotic and undermines our national security.

But my favorite was Palin's talking points on Obama's "unfair attack on the verbiage"--you know when McCain claimed that the "fundamentals" of the economy referred to the workers. Of course. That is how everyone refers to the workers. Because we are idiots. See how Jon mimics the Alaska governor
I think on this election, sean, the candidates, what they say, their verbiage, I think that should be off limits. you know that what we say, or you should know, sean, we don't mean it.

Palin is not impressive. Not even close. And the fact that John McCain decided to put the country in the hands of a candidate who says that Alaska provides 20% of America's energy and continually lies about her record--suggests that John McCain really did sell his soul to the devil.

September 18, 2008

Sarah Palin, anointed by God--sigh

From an email circulating that suggests that Palin is from God:
"We quickly learned that Sarah is a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian, attends church, and has been a ministry worker.

Sarah is that standard God has raised up to stop the flood. She has the anointing. You can tell by how the dogs are already viciously attacking her. But they will not be successful. She knows the One she serves and will not be intimidated.

Back in the 1980s, I sensed that Israel's little-known Benjamin Netanyahu was chosen by God for an important end-time role. I still believe that. I now have that same sense about Sarah Palin..."

on White Privilege

Not quite racism, but the passive equivalent perhaps, where being white gets you a pass on certain things?:
"For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because 'every family has challenges,' even as black and Latino families with similar 'challenges' are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a 'fuckin’ redneck,' like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll 'kick their fuckin' ass,' and talk about how you like to 'shoot shit' for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug."

There is more. Important to note that the issues that he raises about Palin are not necessarily bad. Her hunting and gun appreciation, or even her circuitous route to her college education don't say much of anything, one way or another. Nothing wrong with liking to hunt, and as my Starbucks reading group noted yesterday, some people take a while to find their way in college. That would describe me too.

But the issue is how those same issues would be seen if Palin were liberal and black. Her husband isn't running for office, but his membership in the AIP, if they were black, would raise questions about their patriotism. Michelle Obama said something about being truly proud of her country for the first time, and the right went apoplectic. Before her speech in Denver, the talking heads all agreed she had to "prove her patriotism." Sarah and Todd have no such need. Some of that is liberal v. conservative, but some of that can be argued to be "white privilege."

September 16, 2008

Fun with graphs

My friend L (fundraising going well for little Trypod, btw, and thanks to all who have pledged and/or sent good thoughts) pointed me to this clever blog. This one really tickled me.


I had a professor in grad school who turned out to be a pathological liar. He lied about everything. And, as explained to me by someone at the time, while everyone may lie at times, a pathological liar lies not only when they "have" to but even when they don't. They lie about things that are not worth lying about, in other words.

I hate to say it, but Sarah Palin is starting to sound like one of those liars. She continues to lie about the Bridge even when everyone notes that she is lying. And now, there is no reason to lie about the teleprompter at the convention. No reason at all.

Something seriously wrong with that picture.

Christianity and Morality

I read this post on torture and Christianity the other day:
"57% of white evangelicals in the South believe that torture is often or sometimes justified. Another 16% believe that it can be justified in rare occasions. Only 22% believe that it is never justified. This is surprising because only 48% of the general population believe that torture can be justified."
Further, noted the author, when pressed, 44% admitted that they based their moral decision on torture not on their faith, but on their own personal experience and "common sense."

I think this speaks to a troubling trend I see in conservative Christian circles. The emphasis on the personal relationship with God has superseded the church as moral voice. The assumption is that those in relationship with God will automatically have a much better chance of making good moral choices, so the church often doesn't address those moral issues. But, as we see here, a large percentage of these compartmentalize their morality and address certain issues outside the faith.

In the comments several also pointed to another troubling trend. One commentator differentiated between individual and government action. Completely wrong for an individual to torture, but this commentator could not get past the OT God endorsing war and even genocide. The morality of terrorist actions, then, were viewed through the individual lens, but the morality of our government actions (war, torture, rendition) was seen through the government lens. Handy little silos of moral decision-making.

I have thought for sometime that many Christians pick and choose between the Old and New Testaments depending on the type of God they want. If they want a kind, gentle shepherd, they turn to the New, but when they need a God who smites, the Old comes in very handy.

Perhaps it is just me, but that seems to be how we get conservatives who are very moral in their own lives. They don't drink, cheat on their spouse, steal, and would never murder or torture anyone. They were horrified by Clinton's own personal sins, but see in everything George Bush has done the OT God exerting his ordained governments to destroy evil.

September 15, 2008

Catching up on some detailed examinations of Palin's past

And two things jump out.

First, this Wa Po look at Palin's reign as mayor:
"Palin's replacements included a public works director who lacked engineering experience but was married to a top aide to a former Republican governor, and she made a former state GOP lawyer city attorney, according to the Daily News. Langill, the former councilwoman, said the new hires fit Palin's management style.

'Sarah always did and still does surround herself with people she gets along well with,' she said. 'They protect her, and that's what she needs. She has surrounded herself with people who would not allow others to disagree with Sarah. Either you were in favor of everything Sarah was doing or had a black mark by your name.'"

And this from the New York Times
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.

Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.

When Ms. Palin had to cut her first state budget, she avoided the legion of frustrated legislators and mayors. Instead, she huddled with her budget director and her husband, Todd, an oil field worker who is not a state employee, and vetoed millions of dollars of legislative projects.

Please tell me that doesn't remind you of someone. Add to that the vindictive style of governing (firing people who are disloyal) and her administration in Wasilla charging rape victims for their rape kits, and firing the local librarian for not banning books (or that is the inference), and you have the picture of how she would govern as President. It isn't pretty.

September 14, 2008

Some Sunday thoughts

Good morning, everyone. The rain has lifted here in Norman, and I am again struck by how easily depressed I can get when I don't see the sun. I am thinking of those in Houston and the Texas and Louisiana coast who are without power this morning.

Thanks for everyone's nice wishes about Trypod. We are not the only ones trying to raise money for his operation, but as of this morning, the fund is up to $480. If you would like to pitch in 10 bucks or so, you can do so here. A much better way to spend your money, I would add, than giving to some politician!


I am in a mildly better mood this morning. SOF nicely did a Starbucks run. Normally we both go, but my back is often so stiff in the morning that I feel every bump. So not only is she mowing the lawn and doing all the heavy lifting, but she runs to Starbucks. I think she might be fond of me to put up with so much!

Anyway, that slight improvement in mood has pushed me toward the funny and irreverant this morning. I saw this yesterday, but set it aside. Anonymous Liberal (one of my regular reads) posted a take on Palin's interview on domestic policy. Seems clear that she has even less understanding of how our domestic policy operates than she does our foreign policy. That is some scary stuff. No offense to her. I am sure she could learn, but it is clear she has started the learning curve two months before possibly taking the second highest post in the land, with the hightest likelihood of any recent VP to become President.

BTW, I think we all gave Charlie Gibson too little credit. From what I have seen, he actually asked some difficult questions. Could have done better, but he at least asked them. But after watching the interview, AL thought Gibson should have responded like the teacher in Billy Madison:
"Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."
Unfortunately, Palin is not funny, but scary. Evidently my posting has attracted at least two Repubs or conservatives, and an emailer, who think that I am being unfair with Palin. I don't think so, but then again, I think someone this close to being President needs more scrutiny than McCain has given us. You can compare her to Obama all you want, but we have seen Barack pretty steadily for the last several years, and we watched him being vetted by an angry Hillary Clinton. We actually know more about his economic policies than John McCain's (his latest is a promise that he will "cut everyone's taxes" when even Alan Greenspan says that his economic plan is unsustainable, and one of his advisors admits the next Pres will have to raise some taxes). Palin has, so far, demonstrated only the ability to look good and repeat some relatively funny lines. Oh, and she lies like a conservative Evangelical. (I am reclaiming that term, Ubub)

Frank Rich notes today that Palin's own acceptance speech is creepy. First, she connects herself to a 20th-century vp (Truman) who was not unique for coming from a small town, but for taking office after the death of the top man. Second, she quoted from, though did not name, a right-wing columnist, Westbrook Pegler, when she spoke of how "we grow good people in our small towns."
Palin, who lies with ease about her own record, misrepresented Pegler’s too. He decreed America was “done for” after Truman won a full term in 1948. For his part, Truman regarded the columnist as a “guttersnipe,” and with good reason. Pegler was a rabid Joe McCarthyite who loathed F.D.R. and Ike and tirelessly advanced the theory that American Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe (“geese,” he called them) were all likely Communists.

Meanwhile, McCain and Palin continue to lie about her opposition to the Bridge, her world travels, her earmarks, and even inflating the crowd size of their rallies. Some of those are small, but many are large, and given the McCain camp's assertion that this election won't be about issues, and that they will continue to say what ever they want, regardless of the "media filter," their dedication to say whatever they think will work regardless of the truth is apparent.

As several writers have noted, this speaks to McCain's discussion about honor and patriotism. His continual lying is in complete denial of honor, and would get him in trouble if he were still in the military. He may have been honorable at one time, but no longer.


And now for something completely different, this wonderful bit of comedy from the Wittenburg Door, entitled "Mark Driscoll kicks his own ass." Mark Driscoll invites people on stage to punch him. "When none of the five took a swing, Driscoll had them escorted from the building and proceeded to hit himself five times."
The rest of the session followed the same general tone, with Driscoll ridiculing insulated coffee cups, haiku and dental floss as feminine while extolling athletic cups, tobacco spit and broken load-bearing bones as being “essential for a pastor.”

The blogosphere heated up quickly in the wake of Driscoll’s talk. At, one post read, “This is the only thing that will turn back the tide of the Church’s decline in America. Until more guys step up and start punching themselves in the face, people will continue to leave the Church.”
I also like the part about combining scripture study with "Muy Thai Stick Fighting."
It was great for a few weeks, until my worship pastor lost an eye. I had to make a tough call then and there: no more Muy Thai Stick Fighting at Kiona Community without protective face gear. I still think it might have been a spiritual compromise.”
Just brilliant.

And on that note, I hope you all have a good Sunday. Peace. And no Stick Fighting today. . .

September 13, 2008

Need a little help

I don't normally ask for money here. But this is a little closer to the heart. Regular readers here know that last month we house-sat a little kitten named Trypod. He really took over our house and put some kind of voodoo spell on us all.

Well, due to some complications, they are going to have to amputate that damaged leg, and our friend L is trying to raise a little money to help with the costs. As I said, the little guy became part of our little family. If any of you want to pitch in a few bucks to help with this surgery, you can do so here. And we would all appreciate it.

September 12, 2008

The Morality of the Right

I really wonder if some conservative Christians have not so internalized their own sense of "us v. the World" where "the world" is filled with Sin and "us" is filled with "sinner" but people dedicated to Jesus who don't commit the big sins. I know they realize they are sinners and flawed, but there is a sense that their sins are not a big deal, whereas the sins of, for example, Bill Clinton, are.

That view (which I fear I have not explained very well) has led to moral and deeply religious people endorsing or excusing torture. What is more, they seem to have no evaluation period--no "lessons learned" exercise after the last 8 years. So they really have not evaluated how they were duped by Bush into voting nearly lock step for him as he tortured and lied to us. That seems to be continuing with McCain and Palin. Palin and McCain can't even get through a day without lying, and the conservative Christian camp seems to have forgotten even their beloved 10 Commandments. I am pretty sure one of those says no to lying.

Palin continues to lie about her opposition to the "Bridge to Nowhere" and McCain has lied recently that Palin never accepted any earmarks as Governor. Jake Tapper has a list that might suggest that is an out and out lie. And here are more:

In a very Machiavellian world view, I can see how this might work. Perception and branding are everything, so spin is more valued than any concern for the truth. But the conservative Christians who support this don't believe that. Or they didn't. Perhaps they do now. I wonder if they realize just how much this undercuts their credibility as a moral voice.

McCain blames Obama for tone

I missed this even though I watched it:
"McCain was asked about disparaging remarks that his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, made about Obama’s work as a community organizer—an experience Obama later called the best education he had ever received. McCain responded by blaming Obama for the negative timbre of the campaign.
“The tone of this ... whole campaign would have been very different if Senator Obama had accepted my request for us to appear in town hall meetings all over America, the same way Jack Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had agreed to do so,” McCain said."
See? McCain wouldn't be running one of the most despicable campaigns in recent memory if Obama hadn't made him. As one of the commentators at HuffPo put it, kind of like the school bully saying, "I am sorry I have to take your lunch money, but you shouldn't have brought it to school."

Meanwhile, I fear that the response from the faithful if they ever hear that Palin is clueless about foreign policy will be something along the lines of, "who cares? I didn't know what that was, either, and I absolutely want someone as dumb as me running the country. Who are those people with knowledge fooling?"


James Fallows explains why Palin's ignorance disqualifies her

"What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the 'Bush Doctrine' exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years."
She has had no interest in the subject. And she wants us to believe that she is ready to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

Friday, the Palin edition

Nope. Didn't watch her interview with Charlie Gibson. Don't really like either person.

From what I read, she handled the God question pretty well on Iraq--quoting Abraham Lincoln. I am not sure I believe her, since that approach is completely opposite to the Bush Christianist take on God and America. But perhaps her statement reflects at least an understanding of how extreme that approach is to many Americans.

She, evidently, saber-rattled on Russia, which makes me just cringe. Where are those troops coming from, there Governor? But the weirdest part was when Gibson asked her if she agreed with the "Bush Doctrine." It seems clear that she doesn't know what that is. The fundamental switch in foreign policy under this administration, and she is clueless.

Please don't tell me she is prepared to be a foreign policy leader. I know she claims that she is because she just knows she is. More leading from the gut. That has worked so very well.

And, like Bush, btw, there are some really bizarre takes on public policy. McClatchy reports that under Palin's mayoral rule, the town of Wasilla charged rape victims for the cost of their exam. The town's decision forced a change in state law to ban such a practice.


September 11, 2008


The day snuck up on me. Today, on Talk of the Nation, the question was if we talk about the day too much or not enough. I would say it depends who you talk to. Republicans seem to wave that bloody shirt more than anyone. The rest of us talk about it in much more muted terms--about tragedy and fear, and impact.

I have had a running thought in my head about what I would do if I ever got the chance to meet and really talk to Bush. What would I say? What would I not say? Lately, the thought is that I would ask him why he decided to allow Karl Rove and other Republicans to politicize 9-11, and why he did it himself. Of all the things this administration has done, I think that is the one that seems so unforgivable--to take a national tragedy and turn it into political fodder and a weapon against other Americans. I am not sure I will ever understand that.

Speaking of Bush, I had another famous-person dream last night. I was hanging out with family and ran into Neil Young. He kept singing "Let's Impeach the President" much to the annoyance of nearby family (not sure who the family was, but they were related). Toward the end of the dream, he was going to help me write a song, but that never happened. Dammit.


Some evidence that the media is souring on McCain and starting to actually call him on his lies. According to several observers, McCain's willingness to lie is more egregious than any in recent memory. Joe Klein certainly thinks McCain has stooped into slime territory. Josh Marshall echoes that
All politicians stretch the truth, massage it into the best fit with their message. But, let's face it, John McCain is running a campaign almost entirely based on straight up lies. Not just exaggerations or half truths but the sort of straight up, up-is-down mind-blowers we've become so accustomed to from the current occupants of the White House.
That does seem to be the lesson learned from Bush's years. When someone points out you lied, just keep lying. Never back down, even when you are clearly and demonstrably lying.

Whatever honor McCain had serving his country, he has sold to Karl Rove to be the next President. "Heck of a job."


One other thing that is very disturbing and seemed to go under the radar for most Americans was the very strong police response to protests during the conventions. Understandable that they are concerned about security during such events, but the responses to leftist protests seem over the top. Check out this photographic journalist's report from the conventions. The pictures are pretty impressive. And disturbing.

September 10, 2008

Southern Baptists theology written on Etch-A-Sketch

Sad, but true:
The SBC president, who appointed that committee, would later say, "The wife should not be burdened with the necessity of working outside the home."

When he was chairman of the SBC's Council on Family Life in 2003, he said, "Particular attention should be given to the specific roles established in the Scripture for the husband and the wife in the areas of provision and management. The husband should be vocationally focused and able to provide for his family."

Now SBC leaders are reinterpreting their statement.

None does so more dishonestly that a seminary professor who wrote last week that "the Baptist Faith and Message does not address the question of women in secular leadership, only spiritual leadership."
Up is down, right is wrong, pre-marital pregos is great, Palin is a reformer, and God only dislikes pushy women who take charge in their house. Or a church. But they can rule a country. No problem.

Jeesh. And these are the people lecturing us on moral absolutes?

Wednesday morning

After a very tough day on Monday, I feel better these last few days than I have in over a month. I have been putting ice on the back routinely, and think that is accomplishing what taking some NSAIDs would do, without the additional stomach problems. Still a ways to go, as my right leg is not working as it should, but the pain is much less. Last two mornings I have been able to sleep later instead of waking around 5 in pain.

And I don't have a lot of time this morning, as I have to get going on some work. But saw a few things during the coffee/reading that might interest some.

Tomasky suggests that McCain and Palin have learned the lessons of the Bush administration and decided to "take them up a notch." Bush learned that the press didn't fact check, but merely passed on lies in a dutiful fashion. McCain has learned that lesson and he and his Alaska counterpart are lying on a daily basis. The Bridge to Nowhere nonsense continues, even though it has been refuted. Lately, the McCain camp is saying that Obama wanted to teach kindergartners explicit sex techniques. Nope. But until the press actually factchecks, we only have McCain and Palin's own internal morality to count on. I know she is a Bible believing Christian, but so far, that only means that the religious right loves her, no matter how badly she lies, or how juvenile and mean-spirited she is. WWJD? Lie his ass off, evidently.

Tony takes on the contradictions between the right's theology and their political stances.

And finally, this from a, er, Pennsylvania friend about the politics of racial resentment. I think he has a lot of good points--especially that the Republicans are playing to working class white resentments about "elites." We have discussed that here at the blog many times, but it is worth reminding how utterly ridiculous it is to suggest that voting for someone "like us" is a good idea. This "dumbing down" of the Presidency is ridiculous, and of course, we are living with the results after the last 8 years. That people want to spin the dial for 4 more with this same approach just makes no sense.

September 8, 2008

The Old 97's must have been thinking of Inhofe

When they wrote the song, "Let the Idiot Speak." The man, as this short piece shows is so unbelievably ridiculous that he makes me embarrassed to share a state with him. If you haven't heard, he said that it is relevant to ask if Obama really loves his country, all, you should know, because according to Inhofe, Obama is opposed to wearing a lapel pin. Moron. And inaccurate. But mostly moron.

Speaking of that, Governor Palin slipped in a very cheap shot at Michelle Obama when she noted that she had "always been proud of her country." Yeah, that just means that you aren't paying attention. If you looked at our history of racial injustice and didn't feel a little shame, then you need to seek help. If you looked at the poverty exposed by Katrina and didn't feel ashamed, you need to open your eyes. And if you didn't feel a little shame when Bush admitted that the United States of America now tortures prisoners, then you need to reexamine shame. And pride. And patriotism.

The thing is, I know she didn't write that line. The racist wing of the party did. They are constantly trying to portray the Obamas as other worldly and non-American. I would tell them to be ashamed, but the shame emotion was long eradicated from the right wing of the party.

As Jim Inhofe demonstrates every time he opens his mouth.

September 7, 2008

Sunday morning

A bit discouraged this morning. The back is better, I guess, but incrementally so. Over the last month or so, I think I have slept through the night once. My sympathy for those who live with chronic pain increases every day.

Ok, enough complaining.

Reading through the blogs this morning, I ran across this from conservative David Frum who, by the way, famously took credit for the phrase "axis of evil" as a speechwriter for W, so is hardly a common source for me to quote. But he is unsettled by the process of selecting Sarah Palin as much as many liberals. Here he answers an email and explains that he believes that executive decision making is incredibly important, and requires a specific skill set--a set that he sees no proof that Palin has:
"Worse, from my point of view, is the assumption that because she is a conservative Christian that she therefore has intelligent conservative views on every other subject, from what to do with Fannie Mae to what to do about Iran. That's a greater leap of faith than I can make."
He also compares her to Bush in how she appeals to Christian conservatives and notes, I think with regret, that Bush has lacked the leadership skills necessary to be a good President.

It is this approach to knowledge that bothers me more than anything--as I have said before. And this is not a new issue for me. I remember in my early college days, when I was still more comfortable in the church setting, I still resisted the assumption that a Christian was inherently more moral or competent than a non-believer. But some around me in the church, would automatically hire someone, or rent a spare room, or trust a Christian with important business solely on that identification rather than turn to a reliable and vetted non-believer (or perhaps a believer who didn't advertise it). Perhaps I knew too many in the church who I didn't trust, like the guy in BSU who could quote chapter and verse, but also liked to play dirty in our sports games, and who I never trusted behind my back.

None of this is to say that being Christian disqualifies either. I don't mean that. Just as I knew Christians I wouldn't trust with anything, I knew many I trusted with my life. But a person's beliefs about salvation and the after-life don't say anything about their ability to govern or make good fiscal or policy decisions. Christian conservatives seem willing to turn over the entire store to someone who sees the world as they do, regardless of if they have the expertise or experience to make those decisions. In the case of Palin, she not only seems to buy the creationist argument, but also has hinted that the Iraq war is not a geopolitical conflict of interests and different identities, but is a simplistic "good v. evil" contest.

On that note, I found this interview on the role of expertise:
"The attitude that anyone's opinion on any topic is equally valuable could spread, and there are some indications, such as widespread vaccine scares, that suggest it is happening. A world in which there is said to be no difference between those who know what they are talking about and those who don't is not one that anyone who thinks about it wants. Such a society would be like one's worst nightmare, exhibiting many of the characteristics of the most vile epochs of human history."
I am afraid that the Republicans are playing to just such a constituency that believes their opinion on cell division and historical complexity is equal to any expert.


Finally, this morning, saw this "quote of the day" from the DMN Religion blog. This entry from friend of the blog, Gordon Atkinson, aka the Real Live Preacher:
"'I am considered by many to be a liberal minister, which is the kiss of death for any Baptist preacher with ambition. Fortunately for me I have none in this regard. However, I'm always amused by my reputation, because I am so careful about this sacred calling and the scriptures from which all sermons are born. I have no tricks. I don't tell stories that are not my own. I never do anything but read the text and try to encourage my congregation to wrestle with its meaning, just as I have the week before. That's all I am called to do. I don't have the right to do anything more than that.'

September 6, 2008


Nothing seems to make one of my Republican friend's head asplode more than the suggestion that McCain is Bush 3. Not so, he declares. Sure, he may have hired the exact same neo-con advisors who thought invading Iraq would be easy. And sure, he is appealing to the same anti-intellectual religious crowd who cared more about gays marrying than torture. But he is a mavrick, goddamnit.


From Sara, this comparison between John Bush McCain and George Bush is quite striking.
"I know some of you have been left behind in the changing economy and it often seems your government hasn't even noticed. Government assistance for unemployed workers was designed for the economy of the 1950s. That's going to change on my watch. My opponent promises to bring back old jobs by wishing away the global economy. We're going to help workers who've lost a job that won't come back, find a new one that won't go away.

We will prepare them for the jobs of today. We will use our community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities. For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage."--from John McCain's Nomination Acceptance Speech 2008

"America's growing economy is also a changing economy. As technology transforms the way almost every job is done, America becomes more productive, and workers need new skills. Much of our job growth will be found in high-skilled fields like health care and biotechnology. So we must respond by helping more Americans gain the skills to find good jobs in our new economy... we must ensure that older students and adults can gain the skills they need to find work now. Many of the fastest growing occupations require strong math and science preparation, and training beyond the high school level. So tonight, I propose a series of measures called Jobs for the 21st Century... I propose increasing our support for America's fine community colleges, so they can... train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. By all these actions, we'll help more and more Americans to join in the growing prosperity of our country. Job training is important, and so is job creation."--from George W. Bush's 2004 State of the Union speech

Jon Stewart has some clips of those similarities.

Sure glad they are different people. If we keep repeating the "mavrick" lie enough, will people believe it?

This is a small one, but the lies really start to mount

And I am wondering why it doesn't matter more that Palin and McCain repeat lies like her selling the luxury plane on Ebay for a profit when they actually sold the plane through a broker for a loss.

As many have noted, Bush and Rove seemed to have read Orwell (well, no one thinks Bush read Orwell) as a manual rather than a warning. Their willingness to repeat demonstrable lies over and over again with absolutely no shame really should be one of their legacies. That McCain and Palin seem to have gone to school on that tactic should be of great concern.

And let me also note, for the record here, the insanity of religious conservatives supporting this kind of behavior. When I left the Republican Party and the Baptist church, I heard from many that I was leaving a foundational approach to truth, where there was "one truth" and instead becoming a moral relativist where "truth was my opinion." I think you can see the disconnect there.

I know politics are politics, and politicians will often spin and spin and spin. (Funny aside, according to one report from the forthcoming Woodward book, John McCain got so angry at the Bush admin for their constant spin. I think he has gotten over that--perhaps as he has decided to listen to all the same advisors who got us into this mess in the first place). I know politicians can't be counted on to be openly honest, but the Bush people seem to have so lowered the bar that they don't even have to try any more.

I am hopeful that one positive thing out of this last week is that McCain has lost the edge he had with the press, and am hoping that they will (gasp) fact-check these bastards more often.


September 5, 2008


This week has been extra long--which is odd for a short week. Perhaps it was avoiding the RNC Convention as much as I could, yet trying to keep up with what happened.

And the back has been a problem. This week, the therapist wondered if there wasn't some kind of herniated disk involved in the sciatic pain. I didn't want to hear that, but doing a little reading suggests that I am in good company. Today's treatment added the traction table to my experience. Hooked up to electrical impulses before, then strapped down on a table and stretched out. Before the traction, one of the techs said to the guy helping me, "did you have the talk with him about traction?"

That was ominous. But the treatment was really pretty cool, consisting of two velcro belts--one around my ribs and one around my hips as I lay on top of a two part table. Then they hooked a cable up to the hip belt and towed me out of the room. No, not quite. They alternated half my body weight and a quarter of my body weight for about 12 minutes. They actually gave me a "kill switch" in case it became too uncomfortable or started to pull me in two. Ok, I made up that last part. It was mildly uncomfortable at first, mostly because of the tightness of the belts, but the traction itself felt pretty good. The therapist said I might have grown an inch or so during the treatment. Maybe I should have started that earlier in life....

This has not been a fun month, I must say. I have very gradually improved, but still feel far away from where I want to be. I think this weekend will be interesting to see how the traction helps. Next week, I have two more sessions scheduled, and then we will see what happens after that.

But for this weekend, I would like to watch a little football and do a little relaxing. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Westmoreland says he was clueless in making 'uppity' comment

Westmoreland says that he grew up around Atlanta, was born in 1950 and never heard the term "uppity" used as a racial warning. I think either this man is too dumb to run for office, or is a complete liar. Or both.

Elegy for a Maverick

Dionne's column this morning is on point:
"The Republican crowd here has gleefully played into the worst stereotypes of their party as a privileged class resistant to change.

When Rudy Giuliani referred to Barack Obama's past as a 'community organizer' Wednesday, the crowd broke into ugly, patronizing laughter. These, presumably, are people who never needed a neighborhood advocate. Imagine if Democrats ever reacted that way to someone who worked as an entrepreneur or a church leader."

I avoided the speech last night, as I have avoided the convention as a whole. And I am sure I am not the only one who is glad to see both conventions behind us. If only we could say the same thing about the election!

September 4, 2008

Kind of funny

But also perhaps Republicans might want to look a little closer at Lynn Westmoreland's "uppity" comment to understand why their outreach to black voters has failed , most starkly when they hosted a reception for black participants only to have no black delegates.

If Westmoreland was from somewhere other than the south, he might be forgiven for thinking that he could use the word "uppity" without it being a racial slur. But he is from Georgia. He knows what that word means.

As Ubub noted in an email, perhaps this is preferable to the coded racism that we often see from the Republicans. Better to be openly racist, perhaps.

I didn't watch Palin's speech. I am sorry, but I can't watch the Republicans right now. Perhaps sometime in the future, I can stomach it. But several have noted one thing that was not there was much attention to truth. Palin continues to lie about her opposition to the "Bridge to nowhere" even though she ran her gubernatorial campaign in support of that Bridge. Finally, even the AP calls her on that, among other lies.

As many have noted, Palin seems to have incorporated the Bush approach to truth--which is keep telling your lies without shame in the hope that your base will believe them. Just keep lying. Palin seems to have learned that lesson well.

In addition, as Bruce, at Mainstream Baptist notes, community organizers are deeply offended at how dismissive Palin was toward community organizers.

All of this just reinforces what I argued the other night. This is the Rove playbook--run a divisive campaign aimed at getting your base active and screw the rest of the country. Bush has served (and badly at that) only half the country and has had very little concern for those of us who voted against him. That was made most literally true when his Hud Secretary turned down grants to someone after finding out the person voted for Kerry, and learning that Monica Goodling filtered interviewees based on their love and adoration for the President.

If Obama does nothing else, I would like him to show that the President is the President of all of us. Palin has learned the opposite lesson, and McCain has demonstrated that same disdain for those of us who question him. That isn't leadership.

New language--Palinguage

A primer of sorts: My favorite item:
"Black teen pregnancies? A 'crisis' in black America.

White teen pregnancies? A 'blessed event.'"

Palin and Special Needs Children

She claimed in her speech to be an advocate but slashed funding for special needs education.

Palin as unreformer

TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Palin As Reformer? Not Quite...

Speechless. Just speechless.

This guy is big on the 10 Commandments (can't remember them, of course) but evidently not beyond racism. Openly.

Why Susan Eisenhower matters

Or part B to Tuesday's post on ID and knowledge. And thanks to everyone for not jumping on the fact that I mistakenly had Eisenhower's name as "Sarah." I know you all saw it, but decided to be nice to a guy too lazy to google her name. You are all too kind.

But back to the topic at hand. This concept of replacing knowledge with "belief" and "feeling" is all too common these days. I was musing the other night (that is right, I muse) about all the disasters we have experienced under Bush. Not that all of them are his fault, mind you, but just thinking through these bad occurrences. I wonder how many of them, since Bush was in charge, are assumed to be "acts of God" by religious conservatives? How many assume that God called Bush so "who are we" to question that calling?

I have run into this, and even blogged about it before. While Hurricane Katrina was clearly an natural occurrence, the NOLA disaster was man made. Completely. And by no means does all the blame lie at Bush's feet. Only the last few issues, but there is blame to spread on reducing the marshlands, not funding the levies to keep up with their maintenance, and of course the level of local political corruption that undermined all of that. Bush responded horribly, and had turned FEMA into a joke and a political chit, but the damage to NOLA was deep and longstanding.

Yet, everyone I talked to from the conservative side saw this only as an "act of God" and no one was to blame. Same with many of the other disasters. The bridge collapse in St. Paul. Clearly a human creation, but people talked about it as random. Same with the mortgage crisis, and as far as I know, the problems in Iraq.

When details and facts are secondary to belief and feeling, that is how we approach these issues. You notice that we have done nothing to shore up those bridges, right? Andrew Rice (running for Senate here in Oklahoma--send him money!) repeated just recently that there are bridges in Oklahoma that he drives over campaigning (and of course, locals do all the time) where you can see through the bridge as you drive over it. And that is not by design. But if we run a "faith" based government, then God will decide when those bridges fail.

So why does Susan Eisenhower matter? I saw her last night on Colbert and was struck again by her intelligence and bearing. She is not only the granddaughter of the President who led the "Greatest Generation" and won World War II, but she is an expert on Russia and the Near East. She understands foreign policy and that understanding led her to leave the Republican party of her family. Not an easy task--something I can understand.

And you would think that a person of that stature and experience would carry some weight. But in the Sarah Palin constituency, her expertise is a bad thing. Instead of saying, "hey this person understands Russia and she is more comfortable with Obama than McCain" people are most likely to simply dismiss her. They prefer Palin because she is more "like them." They like how they "feel" with Palin.

The religious right has been trained and taught for generations to distrust experts and academics. Not just to approach them skeptically and critically, but to distrust and dismiss their expertise. Unless, of course, they agree with conservative Christianity on some point.

It puzzles me to no end that we would turn over policy decisions to people who base their decisions on what they believe, but we did it for the last 8 years. Say what you will about Bill Clinton (and I have much to say), he relied on a lot of experts to determine many policy decisions. He politicized some decisions, no doubt, but some were heavily informed by some non-partisan expert approach. Bush has completely removed those. He makes every decision, famously, by his "gut" and by what he believes. And that "belief" overpowers any rational discussion.

That isn't faith. Don't try to tell me it is. It is irrational and destructive policy. And the same people who would never turn over their financial well-being to a financial analyst with no background in finances, and who made decisions purely from his gut--have turned our national security over to someone who does exactly that. And with the pick of Sarah Palin, conservatives are primed to do that again. National security? God will take care of that. We need to stop abortion.


Jon Stewart on Republican inconsistency

And it really is genius. Give it a watch.

September 3, 2008

Key points from that last link on Palin

Because I forgot to include them in the original post. Sarah Palin - Note from Anne KilkennyHer take on Palin's attributes:
•political maverick: not at all
•gutsy: absolutely!
•open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at
explaining actions.
•has a developed philosophy of public policy: no
•”a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores
and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.
•fiscal conservative: not by my definition!
•pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city
without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built
streets to early 20th century standards.
•pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on
•pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city
government in Wasilla’s history.
Several points there, but the one that jumps out at me is her lack of transparency. Elsewhere in the email, she also points to her vindictive firing. Both are features of the Bush administration and I am unsure why we would want more of that.

Sarah Palin from someone who knows her

H/Tip to Ubub for this. Worth the read.

Wednesday afternoon

Or whatever. PT didn't go quite as well today as I had hoped, but I think this is just a long process. Frustrating, but part of it, I guess.


After class, I have glanced at the news and a couple of interesting notes on the blogs. I wonder if the cool weather outside is sign of hell freezing over, because Dr. Laura is furious about how Palin is managing family and politics. Just not what I would have expected. So many conservatives have just switched how they evaluate women and family that I expected all of them to.

And Byron York (not a liberal) echoes what many of us liberals have asked:
“If the Obamas had a 17 year-old daughter who was unmarried and pregnant by a tough-talking black kid, my guess is if that they all appeared onstage at a Democratic convention and the delegates were cheering wildly, a number of conservatives might be discussing the issue of dysfunctional black families.”
Instead, we are getting lectures about Palin's superior family skills, and the superiority of conservative Christians on family. Even when the women put their professional life ahead of their family. If a liberal does that, she is selfish and secular. If a conservative does it, she is self-less and deeply pious.


All signs point to the McCain camp blaming all their troubles on the "liberal media" and even spreading stories about the Palins to drum up sympathy among conservatives and disaffected Dems. Perhaps the definition of cynicism, but I have come to expect that from this crop of Repubs. Joe Klein pushes back, and points out just how bizarre this is for someone like McCain who used to enjoy the full support of the media, or what Chris Matthews called "his base."


Tony has a good post on Palin's theology that is worth reading (of course, all his posts are worth reading!).
Many parts of this impromptu speech given at her church is problematic but this one on Iraq is unconscionable. America's unilateral invasion of Iraq is a "task from God?"

This reminds me of a conversation I had with an older gentleman outside of the annual camp meeting in our community last week. He and were exchanging idle pleasantries as we talked about our families. He asked how many siblings I had and I should not have remarked that I have a brother serving in Iraq. He then went on a diatribe about how this is God's war and how the terrorists want to kill us all and that we should be thankful for President Bush and that he has the "cajones" to take it to the terrorists. Whatever.

This blurring of faith and policy is exactly what last night's post was about, and this is a good example. In Faith World, Bush isn't a bumbling, incompetent torture enabler who compares liberals to the VC, but the hand of God.


Some Christians are questioning this, and even someone who worked for Jerry Falwell (good God, are those locusts?). See Steven Waldman's warning for Christian conservatives
Mark DeMoss, former chief of staff to Jerry Falwell and now a leading Christian public relations executive, is hoping that Palin turns out well but has been shocked and worried by the reflexive Christian embrace of her.

"Too many evangelicals and religious conservative are too preoccupied with values and faith and pay no attention to competence. We don't apply this approach to anything else in life, including choosing a pastor." Imagine, he said, if a church was searching for a pastor and the leadership was brought a candidate with great values but little experience. "They've been a pastor for two years at a church with 150 people but he shares our values, so we hired him to be pastor of our 5,000 person church? It wouldn't happen! We don't say, 'He shares our values, so let's hire him.' That's absurd. Yet we apply that to choosing presidents. It blows my mind."


Josh Marshall has a great open mike conversation between Peggy Noonan, Mike Murphy, and Chuck Todd. Too bad the media can't be this honest on the air:
Chuck Todd: Mike Murphy, lots of free advice, we'll see if Steve Schmidt and the boys were watching. We'll find out on your blackberry. Tonight voters will get their chance to hear from Sarah Palin and she will get the chance to show voters she's the right woman for the job Up next, one man who's already convinced and he'll us why Gov. Jon Huntsman.


(cut away)

Peggy Noonan: Yeah.

Mike Murphy: You know, because I come out of the blue swing state governor world: Engler, Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush. I mean, these guys -- this is how you win a Texas race, just run it up. And it's not gonna work. And --

PN: It's over.

MM: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.

CT: I also think the Palin pick is insulting to Kay Bailey Hutchinson, too.

PN: Saw Kay this morning.

CT: Yeah, she's never looked comfortable about this --

MM: They're all bummed out.

CT: Yeah, I mean is she really the most qualified woman they could have turned to?

PN: The most qualified? No! I think they went for this -- excuse me-- political bullshit about narratives --

CT: Yeah they went to a narrative.

MM: I totally agree.

PN: Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and it's not what they're good at, they blow it.

MM: You know what's really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.

CT: This is cynical, and as you called it, gimmicky.

MM: Yeah.


Sullivan returns to the Bush/Torture meme and has a great explanation why Bush describes McCain's torture, but doesn't actually call it torture in his ass-holish speech last night (my descriptor, but what else you you call someone who equates the VC with liberals angry at Bush's policies?).
The reason he put it this way, I infer, is that if he describes what was done to McCain as torture, he has incriminated himself for war crimes.
I repeat: The reason he put it this way is that if he describes what was done to McCain as torture, he has incriminated himself for war crimes.

Wednesday morning, RNC version

I am not watching. No way. Sorry, but my anger and rage is enough as it is. :) Watching George Bush is enough to make me spew obscenities. Watching people applaud him? Forget about it.

Reading through the blogs this morning, a couple of interesting notes. Sullivan, who has been a watch-guard on torture, notes that both Bush and Thompson describe John McCain's POW ordeal without mentioning torture. Of course, for Bush he can't, because the techniques that McCain experienced are not torture under his definition. That is really stunning to me. Still. I still remember telling SOF that torture would force evangelicals away from Bush in droves. I don't think I have ever been so wrong, or so surprised to be so wrong.

Of course, both are speaking to the same group of people who applauded Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani for embracing torture. Republicans, your base is fucking scary. Sorry.

Then just read at Yglesias that Bush said this:
If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain’s resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry Left never will.”
Sigh. People angry about George Bush's policies are the same as Vietnamese Communists. Bush is so unbelievable it makes your head spin. Dishonest to the core and lacking even basic morality, I still wonder what conservative evangelicals saw see in him. What a thug. Sorry, but it is hard to describe this man's lack of character. Thugish, dishonest, stupid, and mean. Wow, what a poster child for the Gospel! Heck uv a job there, religious right! You have just made your heartfelt faith synonymous with this guy. More like a mob boss than the Jesus I know.

But to the topic of the week, Sarah Palin. Turns out that as Governor Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms. Part of why it is hard for me to take the pro-life people seriously. If you really want to preserve life, you don't fight contraceptives for teens, and you sure as hell don't cut funding for homes that help teen girls bring their pregnancies to term. Let's see if I have her take on this:

1) abstinence only sex education with no instruction on how to safely protect from either STDs or pregnancy outside abstinence.

2) if teenager gets pregnant--no abortion

3) and no state resources to help that pregnant girl bring that pregnancy to term


And as the vetting continues, we find out all sorts of things about her past. When she ran for mayor (part of her executive experience, you know) she did so in a very small town, where locals there remember her injecting national politics into what had always been a non-partisan, and mostly congenial race. She made abortion and gun rights part of her race in a tiny town, and when she won election, she ran with an iron fist--firing people disloyal to her, and not allowing her staff to even speak to reporters.
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.
My way or the highway. And boy do I love the conservatives who think that we should have less government, but enough to censor the books at the library. Wow, where has traditional conservatism gone?

(I was thinking about that in conversation with Ubub last night and remembered that Barry Goldwater lost patience with this crowd. BARRY GOLDWATER! And he was crazy! )

Those are all deeply relevant to this discussion about her governing approach. And then there is her crazy pastor. I am really curious how this will play given that conservatives still like to throw Reverend Wright in my face. Just two weeks ago, Sarah Palin sat in church during this:
Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."
Palin was in church that day, Kroon said, though he cautioned against attributing Brickner’s views to her.
Does that reflect Palin's views? I have no idea. But the same scrutiny that followed Obama better be applied here.

Then there is this nice video the Governor sent to the Alaska Independence Party. Here she welcomes their convention and speaks about how much she shares their approach to defending the Alaska constitution. While it does appear that Sarah Palin was not a member, her husband certainly was. The founder of the AIP had some very strong words about America.
The founder of the Alaska Independence Party -- a group that has been courted over the years by Sarah Palin, and one her husband was a member of for roughly seven years -- once professed his "hatred for the American government" and cursed the American flag as a "damn flag."
Does Sarah Palin share those views? I doubt it. But her husband was a member of the party until recently, and I think it is fair to ask her about both these issues. Don't you? Since Obama has been linked to William Ayers, isn't it fair to wonder if Sarah Palin objected to the AIP's denigration of America. Does she actually love this country? Perhaps she needs to prove her patriotism in her speech tonight. My friend D was laughing about the AIP--"a group that loves America so much they want to stop being a part of it!"

Oh wait. Not only is she white, but she is conservative. As Jon Stewart joked last week, "everyone knows Republicans love this country. They just hate half the people in it."

A note about Palin's family. I really appreciate that Obama responded so well to this. He has to, and it was a good thing. But I also want to note that McCain and Palin made her family, including her infant with Down's syndrome and teenage pregnant daughter--political pawns. We are supposed to vote for her because, in part, her family values and her willingness to bring that baby to term and support her pregnant daughter. They made family just another political commodity, much as they have done to faith. Well done.

And let's just play a little party game. Imagine any of these scandals attached to Obama and tell me how Richard Land and James Dobson would respond. This will be fun. We can turn it into a drinking game. Or take anything that Dobson and Land have recently said about feminism and replace the word "Palin" with the word "Hillary" and watch their heads asplode.


September 2, 2008

Why Palin's views on ID matter

I have a friend who says that the Religious right's control of the GOP is a myth and a conspiracy theory. That is much harder for me to swallow when I read that John McCain chose someone who the religious right absolutely loves and has been lobbying for for months. Richard Land, James Dobson and the entire Council for National Policy crowd loves this pick. Or that those same religious conservatives were threatening a revolt if McCain chose a moderate.

Steves asked a perfectly reasonable question about addressing ID questions that come up in class, and Palin has clearly presented her answer in this kind of "first amendment context." But I think Palin's response also speaks to broader problems in our political dialogue and the relationship between church and state and knowledge and faith--and even this election. I just read about McCain hiring the same slime merchant who slimed him kind of cemented it. Add that to the Palin VP choice, and you see McCain is returning to the Bush playbook. He is appealing to the same religious base who has, in my opinion, ruined the Republican party. He is appealing to people like Dobson and Richard Land who cared little for torture issues, but everything about abortion and gays. Cared little if the economy struggled, but wanted to make sure that gay people weren't marrying. Cared nothing about programs to clean up the environment, but wanted to make sure that sex ed included no instructions about sex--just abstinence. No teaching kids how to use condoms correctly. That is the base that Palin brings in to play. And I have no clue why Republicans who watched the last 8 years would want to revisit that. In other words, anyone who makes James Dobson happy, should make the Republican party rationals nervous.

Palin's response to the ID question made evolution and science something you have opinions about. How do you feel about evolution? We might as well ask people's opinion on gravity. "Do you feel that gravity is a force or is it something else?" Yet that is where religious conservatives come at science and knowledge. And it isn't just science. Just last week, had a conversation with a very conservative religious person about our history. They had an email about our "godly heritage" and knew for a fact that our country was "founded on Biblical principles." How do they know? This is a smart person, don't get me wrong, but has not read a history book since college, if then. We are a Godly nation because that "feels right" and has to be true. The details of history are irrelevant, and people like me who study the past are wrong. Just as my zoology neighbors are wrong about evolution. Sure, they study it every day of their lives in their labs and experiments. But Sarah Palin and her constituency can tell them they are welcome to their "opinion," but they don't "believe" in evolution.

This has infiltrated so many of our policies. As polar bears swim for their lives in the warming arctic ocean, the people making policy decisions about climate change simply ignored those experts who warned them of global catastrophe. Why? Because of some version of "faith based politics." Sarah Palin doesn't "believe" that global warming is man made. I am not doubting her intelligence, but has she read the studies? Has she looked at the evidence and the models? Or does she simply "not believe" it to be true? How important is her "belief" here? Why do "beliefs" trump studies and scientific models, which might be flawed, but at least are out of the realm of pure "instinct" or what we want to be true. Facts and data should matter, even if what they tell us is limited.

Abstinence only became the law of the land, practically, and has been shown to fail in study after study. Rational people would stop that, but those who base their policies on what they "feel" and "believe" don't. And they haven't. Palin herself advocates abstinence only even though she has a very personal example of it not working. What is worse, many of those taught in abstinence only classes are exposed to stds and dangerous situations. They aren't better off. It actually endangers kids.

This, by the way, is not a shot at their intelligence. I have no doubt that Sarah Palin is a very smart lady. My problem is not with their smarts, but how they understand knowledge. Here in Oklahoma, the same religious legislator who said that gay people were a bigger threat than terrorism, pushed a bill through our state house (governor vetoed it) that might (depending on how it was interpreted) made it illegal for teachers to count a student wrong for answering according to their heart felt beliefs. Can't force a student to learn evolution, if their belief says otherwise. I honestly wonder if there will be a day when I have to somehow address historical concerns that God created the constitution, and if I dissent, I run into trouble. If I challenge basic ideas about American Exceptionalism I would run afoul of those who "believe" that God created our nation. My historical knowledge against their religious "beliefs." In a discussion about religion and theology, we are all in the same boat. But when studying history or science, their beliefs are not terribly relevant.

McCain could have reinvented the Republican party and brought back in the Sarah Eisenhowers, but he chose to bring in the Sarah Palins. He could have pushed the religious radicals out of the party and taken so many from the center (the old Republicans and conservative Democrats) that Obama would have had to run far left to even have a chance, and then he would have aced himself out of the race. The McCain who ran in 2000 had the credibility to openly reject the politics of the far right. But he chose to go to Falwell and beg his forgiveness. He then started his run for the far right, cementing that with the nomination of Sarah Palin. He didn't have to do this. But he chose to do this. And if he wins, the people who took the Republicans to the disaster that was the Bush presidency are right back in it. And those of us who watched with horror, are wondering again, where the rational Republicans are? Karl Rove told Bush after 2000 that the middle didn't matter. All that mattered was the base. Which might be fine for winning an election by a slim margin, but as we have seen, it sucks for governing. One of McCain's campaign people said that issues didn't matter. We are in two wars, facing huge economic issues, but McCain doesn't think that issues matter. It is all about what people "feel" about their candidates. So we can count on the same people who savaged McCain in South Carolina, to savage Obama on the orders of John McCain.

That is why this all matters to me.

Richard Land is dishonest

Hardly news, I understand. H/t to Bruce at Mainstream Baptists for this story from Christianity Today where Republican operative SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission director Land gave an interview glowing about the Palin pick:
My wife says to her Sarah Palin is what the feminists’ movement was all about. You can have a family and a husband and a career, that you can do it all. My wife has a Ph.D. in psychology, she’s in private practice as a psychotherapist.
I find these questions about ‘how can she take care of her children and be vice president’ sexist. Nobody asked that question to any of the male candidates. That’s a family decision. As long as she and her husband are comfortable with it and they seem to have done a wonderful job with the children they have, it’s nobody’s business.
I agree. I just don't remember such inclusive language about Hillary Clinton who, by all accounts, also did a fine job of raising Chelsea. I guess that just doesn't count.
Let me answer a question you haven’t asked me. I had two secular reporters ask me, ‘Dr. Land, you as a Southern Baptist believe that women are not to be pastors of churches and women are not to be head of the home. Wouldn’t it mean that if Sarah Palin were elected vice president, her husband would tell her what to do? And I said, ‘If you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an asinine question, but I’ll answer it.’ Mrs. Thatcher said that her husband was head of her home and she ran the country. Queen Elizabeth said that Prince Phillip was head of the home and she was head of the country. If Mrs. Thatcher had been an American, I would’ve enthusiastically supported her for president of the United States.
The only restrictions we find in Scripture are, that for whatever reason women are not to be in charge of a marriage and women are not to be in charge of a church. That has nothing to do with governor, or senator or the House of Representatives, or president, or vice president.
Ok. Got it. That seems like blockheaded theology, but whatever. Land is openly about electing Republicans, not about speaking truth to power. And that should be patently obvious with this response. What is more amazing, to me, is that Palin gets absolutely no criticism for exposing her teenage daughter, or infant son to national attention.

Palin pro birth control?

Or she seemed to be in 2006:
"Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she's a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life.

'I believe in the strength and the power of women, and the potential of every human life,' she said."

I don't have a problem with any of that. Kind of wonder why she would support abstinence only sex ed with that belief?