October 31, 2008

Man, democracy is hard!--Part 2

Today, I spent a few hours "phone banking" for Senate Candidate Andrew Rice. What an interesting experience, but not easy. Calling around Oklahoma to registered Democrats, and in my case, mostly older women. First actual person I spoke to hung up on me immediately. That didn't exactly fill me with glee.

I am sympathetic, of course. I really don't like the constant barrage of phone calls. With that in mind, I did what I could to be very brief, and very, very, very polite. Out of each page of numbers (guessing about 10 per page) I seemed to average a hangup per page. Or, at least, a rejection. Those were kind of funny. Like the one who told me that she "didn't do stuff like that on the phone." What? Answer a question? Or the one call where the husband answered, listened to my spiel of who I was and why I was calling, turned me over to his wife, who listened to who I was and why I was calling, and then said, "No thank you!" (rather rudely) and hung up. I thought, "exactly who did you think I was?"

But there were several others that were quite interesting. Several wanted to chat a little, and I suspect they might have been a little lonely. One was a 91 year old man who told me he had voted since he was 21. He couldn't hear very well, but was quite nice. I had a few Rice supporters which made the calling a lot easier.

But then there were those who really hadn't thought about the Senate race at all. Really undecided. I then remember just how weird that is for me. I am rarely undecided! :) And, as everyone on the blog knows, I am a pretty active political watcher. I read widely and keep up with the issues. I know who the major players are, and even some of the minor ones. (Which, btw, made the Mike Gravel campaign all that more puzzling!) So when I meet undecided voters, I am just puzzled. Reminds me of the hilarious David Sedaris bit on undecided voters:
"To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked."

I am glad I put in a little time, and will hope that Rice wins. But it was not easy, and I have a lot of compassion for those who do that kind of calling for a living.

Anyway. Happy Halloween, and Happy Democracy. I hope, anyway.

Man, democracy is hard!

A few of us exchange emails about the election, and sometimes they get a little heated. Yesterday was one of those days. We are all stressed out, and I am certainly easily angered. This morning, I turned on email to find a nice email of conciliation.

Spoke to a friend of mine at school and he related that he is a comfort/stress eater, and his diet has just been terrible this last few months. The same guy is a huge OU Football fan and noted that it was hard to really care about the OU/TX game this year (Texas won, btw) with the economy and election. He said his diet would begin next Wednesday. Unless McCain wins, then he was just going to start eating Malomars till the end. :)

It isn't just me, of course. Anglican posted something yesterday about the percentage of Texans who believe that Obama is a Muslim, and got a little pushback. He posted this inspirational plea for reconciliation this morning--one that should be read by all Americans.

This last 16 years feels incredibly partisan and divided. Here is hoping that there is some reconciliation in the next administration that changes that.

October 28, 2008


I intended to write a lengthy response to Dobson's fear-mongering letter about Obama (H/t to Carlos). You know, how his letter about possible bad things happening under Obama (gays and abortions for everyone, oh no!), but zip, zilch, nada about the actual real bad things perpetrated on our nation by Dobson pal Bush. Nothing about torture from the Focus on the Family (motto: if it happens to others, we don't care, and it shows) nor concern about actual invasion of privacy or undermining of our constitution.

But then I just ran out of energy to write about James Dobson-a man I have absolutely no respect for. He should be ashamed, but when God herself whispers in your ear, no need for shame.


This electoral map as quilt (h/t M and SOF) is funny and clever. The part about Alaska is great, as is the line about "just about done loving Coldplay."

Me too. I liked their first couple albums ok, and listened to them a lot. But Chris Martin really bugs me now. I really don't like singers who act out what they are singing, and watching him dance makes me fear an epileptic seizure. Either his or mine.



Oh, and Ted Stevens guilty on all counts? Shocking. He seems like such a nice guy.

October 26, 2008

Bad weeks

Bad weeks in some perspective.

I had a slightly bad week in that I found out that the department had to cancel one of my sections. I felt a bit discouraged.

But then I got home and spoke to SOF. On her way into work, she passed a worker on a cherry picker. She made eye contact with the man as he seemed to be concerned about her coming too close to the machine. Seconds later, she heard the cherry picker fall where she had been, but more importantly that worker was killed.

On Wednesday, I met a friend and asked how he was doing, only to hear that a person he grew up with had recently killed someone.

Today, we walked the dogs and met a man we have talked with numerous times over the years as he has walked his dog. He knows the names of our dogs and has been wonderful to talk to over this time. Today, we learned that his wife passed away last month. We cried on the sidewalk together.


October 25, 2008

More Palin--and her attack on science

Sarah Palin wants more funding for disabled children, but not funding for science. She said:
You've heard about some of these pet projects they really don't make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not.

One scientist is not amused.
I am appalled.

This idiot woman, this blind, shortsighted ignoramus, this pretentious clod, mocks basic research and the international research community. You damn well better believe that there is research going on in animal models — what does she expect, that scientists should mutagenize human mothers and chop up baby brains for this work? — and countries like France and Germany and England and Canada and China and India and others are all respected participants in these efforts.

Yes, scientists work on fruit flies. Some of the most powerful tools in genetics and molecular biology are available in fruit flies, and these are animals that are particularly amenable to experimentation. Molecular genetics has revealed that humans share key molecules, the basic developmental toolkit, with all other animals, thanks to our shared evolutionary heritage (something else the wackaloon from Wasilla denies), and that we can use these other organisms to probe the fundamental mechanisms that underlie core processes in the formation of the nervous system — precisely the phenomena Palin claims are so important.

This is where the Republican party has ended up: supporting an ignorant buffoon who believes in the End Times and speaking in tongues while deriding some of the best and most successful strategies for scientific research. In this next election, we've got to choose between the 21st century rationalism and Dark Age inanity. It ought to be an easy choice.

Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says - CNN.com

Interesting. Perhaps this kind of infighting is understandable this stage in the game, but perhaps we can set aside the nonsense that this woman was properly vetted.
"A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

'She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,' said this McCain adviser. 'She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else."
Lot of buzz from people that think Palin is setting herself up to be the new leader of the Republican party. If she is, I suspect she will be the leader of the James Dobson wing and little more.

October 24, 2008

Greenspan loses faith in free market?

I know people who see the free market as a natural law, like gravity. They are so convinced that its mechanisms work, that they say the only thing that can undermine them is government regulation. Greenspan admits that he believed that the self-interest of those involved in an industry would manage better control than a regulatory agency. But maybe not now:
"But on Thursday, almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton mortgage lending.

“Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself included, are in a state of shocked disbelief,” he told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."

This doesn't seem like rocket science to me. I too celebrate the power of the market. But I have also compared it to the power of a wild tiger--powerful and innovative, but also potentially destructive. Perhaps this is a harbinger of a fundamental change in philosophy to a place where Grover Norquist and Newt Gingrich find themselves on the fringes of conservatism. We can only hope.

Oh, and just remembered that Scott McClellan endorsed Obama yesterday. Hard core Republicans will ignore him and Powell, but what about those in the middle?

October 22, 2008

One of those weeks, I guess

I have not blogged much of late. Partly that has been due to stress and grading. My father has had some health problems of late and that has concerned me. I think he is doing much better, but last week was tough. Tougher on him and my mom than me, but not easy for us.

Today, I received confirmation that one of my spring classes will be cancelled. One of the risks of being adjunct, perhaps, but nonetheless frustrating. I would have little problem if that cancelation was dictated by economics, but it appears to be more about a political environment that wants to reduce the number of adjunct instructors. Odd really, because some of that antagonism comes from people who are tenured. They see adjuncts as exploited and want to eliminate that exploitation, but the result is not more tenure track lines, but just different levels of exploitation. And when you are one of those people who doesn't feel exploited, but likes the freedom that adjunct teaching gives you, then it is frustrating. And adjunct instructors also often allow tenure track professors reduced loads to work on publications and research projects.

Academia is a weird little world. I guess that is the best way to put it. Today I am frustrated, but not devastated. But that is one of the reasons I have not been terribly present.


October 19, 2008

And another conservative endorses Obama

As Bunch notes John McCain countered Colin Powell with the endorsement of a Mexican-American soap star. Good for her. But right wing radio personality Michael Smerconish just endorsed Obama and not because he likes his tax policy, but because he thinks Obama is more right on the war on terror.

Oh, and just saw on the blogs that Pat Buchanan said that Powell endorsed Obama because they are both black. Not that race is a problem with the Republican party, of course. I am told that about every week that racism is not a problem any more, and certainly not a problem more associated with the Repubs than the Dems. The fact that we have nominated the first African American candidate for President is irrelevant. Also irrelevant is the Republican nominee cheering on hatred of Obama in the most cynical campaign I have ever seen. That is just politics. You know, the lady from Alaska reminding everyone that we "don't really know much about Obama" when, as Jon Stewart pointed out the other day, Joe the fricking Plumber has answered more questions than Sarah Palin.

Nope. John McCain is perfectly willing to undo whatever racial reconciliation we have made. He is willing to do whatever it takes, evidently, because that is the right wing way--the way of the religious right and the neo-con. Ends justify the means, and if that means inciting racial hatred, then that is what we will do. Just as Jesus did.

Oh wait....

Sunday and I am back online

And back avoiding grading. Don't judge me. :)

Actually, spent part of last night and this morning repairing my Imac (Mary and Anglican can stop smirking at this point, btw). Turned out to be a pretty easy fix and with TimeMachine, all my data is nicely backed up on a local drive. But an annoyance, nonetheless.

And the grading, my god the grading. Not that bad, actually, but it is very hard to force myself to get to it.

So while I am avoiding, I see that Colin Powell endorsed Obama this morning. Powell doesn't have quite the reputation he once had (thank you, George Bush) but it is still a rather striking endorsement. Game changer? I doubt it, but not helpful for the McCain camp. From what I read, he answered the whole "muslim smear" better than anyone. First, noting it isn't true, then asking "so what if he is?" Here, he speaks outside the morning show set, and is quite compelling:

The Minnesota rep he mentions is Michelle Balkman who called for an investigation into the unamerican activities of other congresspersons. That worked so very well the first time. Good God, have any of these Republicans read any history? Or did they simply see McCarthy as a good idea?

One bit of good news, in that the Obama campaign has raised a phenomenally huge $150 million in September. And added some 600,000 plus new donors, with an average donation of ~80 dollars. Unbelievable. Truly stunning and suggests that he is reaching a chord in people where they not only are tired of McCain's racist tactics and just deplorable acts by his supporters. Or this? Good God. McCain is not like this, but he and Palin have contributed to this kind of racism.

But perhaps people are turning against this kind of hatred, and are voting with their money in big numbers and that bodes well for Democrats this fall.

Let's hope.

October 17, 2008

Palin thinks only parts of America are patriotic

"Palin also made a point of mentioning that she loved to visit the 'pro-America' areas of the country, of which North Carolina is one. No word on which states she views as unpatriotic."
She also thanks God for higher poll numbers. Because God is on her side, and not Obama's--duh!

This woman makes my head hurt.

Happy Birthday to SOF!

Yep, it is her Birthday today and we have a lot of plans to do very boring stuff together. Boring by other people's standards, not ours. Lunch at Pepe Delgados, and perhaps a little light shopping at Lowes. :)

Actually, we are headed to some good friends for dinner tonight and good company. But in the meantime, if you want to wish her a Happy Birthday, you can do so here or at her blog.

October 16, 2008

GOP feeding hate and fear

I had a post working on the debate, and even talking about McCain doing reasonably well (except for the eye-rolling--very presidential, right?). But then I see that the Virginia GOP is sending out fliers that have the phrase "America must look evil in the face" over a face that looks like Obama.

As Sullivan said, "How does any decent person remain a Republican with this kind of crap?"


October 15, 2008

White House approved waterboarding in writing

CIA Tactics Endorsed In Secret Memos - washingtonpost.com: "The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public."

Ah, the South

In interviews here in the Deep South and in Virginia, white voters made it clear that they remain deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama — with his politics, his personality and his biracial background. Being the son of a white mother and a black father has come to symbolize Mr. Obama’s larger mysteries for many voters. When asked about his background, a substantial number of people interviewed said they believed his racial heritage was unclear, giving them another reason to vote against him.

“He’s neither-nor,” said Ricky Thompson, a pipe fitter who works at a factory north of Mobile, while standing in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store just north of here. “He’s other. It’s in the Bible. Come as one. Don’t create other breeds.”
What breed is "dumb-ass?"

October 14, 2008

Pandora's little box of racism

And the man and woman opening that box are none other than John McCain and Sarah Palin. Yeah, old news. But remember that last Friday we were talking in somewhat glowing terms about how the Senator had finally stepped up and shushed one of his idiot supporters who said that Obama was an "Arab." Remember that?

Well, today, Another Day, Another Palin Rally saw more of the same:
"At today's Palin rally in Pennsylvania a supporter yelled 'Kill him!' when Sarah Palin a speaker mentioned Barack Obama. Yesterday, at a joint McCain-Palin rally in Virginia, another supporter was moved to shout 'Obama bin Laden' as Palin spoke."
Yes I am sure someone will say these are isolated events, but they are isolated events that keep happening. And Sarah Palin says nothing. NOTHING. The Christian Right's choice has no problem (apparently) with her racist supporters. She told Rushbo
“I’ve got nothing to lose in this,” Ms. Palin said. “And I think America has everything to gain by understanding the differences, the contrasts here between Obama and McCain.”
Her morality is just stellar, isn't it? She has no problem throwing a lit match into a pile of kerosine she and her running mate just poured on America's race relations. That is her morality.

Guys, I really want to respect religious conservatives. I really do. But this makes it very hard. Very hard.

As for Palin, she may not be an idiot. Idiots don't normally ascend to the Governor's palace (well, perhaps once in Texas) but she is of average intellect. Nothing wrong with that, except she has above average ambition, and below average ethics and morals. Other than that, she is a damn peach!

As for McCain, I think we all know what is driving him. And it isn't "Country First." It is "McCain first, burning wreckage be damned." Nice.


Couple of conservatives have jumped ship and found themselves on the angry end of the right. Christopher Buckley (yeah the son of NR founder William F. Buckley) said that he could not vote for McCain and was endorsing Reagan. He found himself out in the proverbial cold (though the NRO denies he was fired).
So, I have been effectively fatwahed (is that how you spell it?) by the conservative movement, and the magazine that my father founded must now distance itself from me. But then, conservatives have always had a bit of trouble with the concept of diversity. The GOP likes to say it's a big-tent. Looks more like a yurt to me.
Rich Lowry says that Buckley is over-stating this, and to be very honest, I have never liked this Buckley. Like his father, I have found them to be not nearly as smart as they think they are. But I think it is funny that he has switched gears and suggested that the last few years have been a disaster
While I regret this development, I am not in mourning, for I no longer have any clear idea what, exactly, the modern conservative movement stands for. Eight years of "conservative" government has brought us a doubled national debt, ruinous expansion of entitlement programs, bridges to nowhere, poster boy Jack Abramoff and an ill-premised, ill-waged war conducted by politicians of breathtaking arrogance. As a sideshow, it brought us a truly obscene attempt at federal intervention in the Terry Schiavo case.

So, to paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan: I haven't left the Republican Party. It left me.
Hard to argue with that.

And most interesting to me is still Kathleen Parker who suggested that McCain drop Palin from the ticket only to get thousands of angry emails. Here, she is on the Colbert Report and you can tell that she is still rather amazed at the vitriol of the right. I think it is cute that she and Buckley are surprised at that. Where the hell have they been?

I have never liked Parker, but man is she right on this. Makes fun of Palin's new look; makes fun of her ability to speak in complete sentences; and notes that she lost speeches due to her column; and that one of her nicer detractors suggested that her mother should have aborted her. Welcome to Bush/Rove/Cheney/Limbagh/O'Reilly/Hannity/Newt's world.

Her best line? That Palin "doesn't know what she doesn't know." In other words, she doesn't even realize how badly informed she is, which makes her doubly dangerous, and more like Bush than we would ever like to believe. Her response to Limbaugh suggests that very fact.


Ok, because I need just a little humor, I have to end with some Fafblog, which is a one of my historic favorites, but not for everyone. Ubub and I spent a lot of time during the 2004 election perusing the adventures of Giblets and Fafnir. This one is like their old brilliance, but be warned, the end of the post has some very funny labels that are not for everyone--especially not those concerned with the f-word. Here, Giblets brilliantly parodies the right's attack on Obama
who is Barack Obama? "Oh well Giblets Barack Obama is the junior senator from Illinois who is running for president on some moderate health care and tax reform plans and a foreign policy which is actually very similar to John McCain's," you say because you are irritating and stupid and I hate you. Yes yes but who is Barack Obama, really? "Well he was born in Hawaii to Ann Dunham and Barack Obama, Sr. and spent part of his childhood in Indonesia and was a community organizer and a law professor before running for the Illinois state senate." Okay okay but who is Barack Obama, really, while I am playing scary music and flashing this terrifyingly desaturated image of Barack Obama in a turban across your television screen? "Oh my god I have no idea, who is this mysteriously radical mystery radical!" Giblets is glad you asked!

The whole thing is funny. And the labels are hilarious and offensive.

October 11, 2008

John Lewis--George Wallace v. Bill Ayers

And by extension, John McCain and Sarah Palin:
"George Wallace never threw a bomb," Lewis noted. "He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama."

Lewis's sharp words may be dismissed as those of a partisan Democrat in a campaign season. But the former head of SNCC and hero of Selma is somebody who McCain has lavished praise upon over the years, including admiring him in a book on courage and bravery and repeatedly invoking Lewis's name in public appearances.

Saturday and a riddle

We spent today driving down to Lawton to watch OU lose to Texas with some friends. Even though our team lost, the time was well-spent and we enjoyed the day.

Now, here is the riddle (and then I am going to light the chiminea). Last night, while watching a rerun of Frasier, I saw an ad for Obama. Why in the hell is Obama spending money in Oklahoma? I don't think I have seen ads like that here before. Does their internal polling suggest even more problems for McCain? Or is this to help downstream candidates.

I am open to explanations.

October 10, 2008

Looks like McCain steps up

And good for him and about damn time:
"And then later, again, someone dangled a great big piece of low-hanging fruit in front of McCain: "I'm scared to bring up my child in a world where Barack Obama is president."

McCain replies, 'Well, I don't want him to be president, either. I wouldn't be running if I did. But,' and he pauses for emphasis, 'you don't have to be scared to have him be President of the United States.' A round of boos."
Reminds me of when Palin started her run by crediting Hillary's work for women and that phrase was booed out of future versions of the speech. Let's hope that McCain sticks to this.

I want to give him credit. But the credit is for doing now what he should have done the first time that shit happened. He shouldn't have had to read critical columns or see his poll numbers flag to do the right thing. Better late than never, but don't expect a damn parade.

McCain's thuggery

This has become one of the most dispicable campaign's in recent memory. Lee Atwater's ghost is watching over this race--the Lee Atwater before his conversion. The guy who used racism to savage Dukakis, and trained Karl Rove and the Roaches that follow to take our political dialogue into the gutter. Yeah, and Dick Morris, and the Raging Cajun and the rest of them.

But this guy running McCain's campaign, and in fact, McCain himself, should feel shame so deep it should make them weep. Here we are, in 2008, so far from our Civil Right's horrors of the past--so much so that we have an African American candidate who is credible and likable. And McCain and Schmidt and Palin are willing to flush that for a slight bump in the polls. They appear to be willing to risk a race war in this country for a chance at victory in November. I am sure you have all seen the videos circulating. Palin saying that Obama "pals around with terrorists" and McCain stressing that we don't know the real Obama (that is even funnier when Palin says it and we all think, "hey, we know him better than we know YOU"). Angry mobs at their rallies shouting "terrorist" and "traitor" when Obama's name comes up. Loud cheers when shills mention Obama's middle name. People yelling "kill him" referencing Bill Ayers or Obama--who knows? McCain blinks but does nothing. Palin--the supposed annointed one, chosen by God to be in this race--eggs on the crowd. Neither of them stop and point out that they disagree with Obama's ideas, respect him as a good American. Because that is what Michelle Obama said about McCain just the other night.

Nope. The War Hero and the Bible Queen egg on racism that makes me cringe. This is more than just bad, it is playing with serious shit. As Ta-Nehisi Coates
points out, we have seen this before when religious leaders like Falwell and others savaged MLK as a communist and danger to America--then expressed suprise when someone shot him.
"Falwell was not alone. These men didn't kill Martin Luther King, but they contributed to an atmosphere of nationalism, white supremacy and cheap unreflective patriotism that ultimately got a lot of people killed."

Joe Klein agrees:
"Watch the tape of the guy screaming, 'He's a terrorist!' McCain seems to shudder at that, he rolls his eyes... and I thought for a moment he'd admonish the man. But he didn't. And now he's selling the Ayres non-story full-time. Yes, yes, it's all he has. True enough: he no longer has his honor. But we are on the edge of some real serious craziness here and it would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower. But McCain hasn't done the right thing all year. His campaign is appalling, as the New York Times editorial board said today--and more, it is a national disgrace."

And once again, as hell freezes over, Kathleen Parker calls this for what it is:
"The truth is, Obama should have avoided Ayers, and his denouncement of Wright was tardy. But this is a dangerous game. The McCain campaign knows that Obama isn't a Muslim or a terrorist, but they're willing to help a certain kind of voter think he is. Just the way certain South Carolinians in 2000 were allowed to think that McCain's adopted daughter from Bangladesh was his illegitimate black child. But words can have more serious consequences than lost votes and we've already had a glimpse of the Palin effect."

Even Christopher Buckley has lost faith in McCain:
"John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?"
Buckley is endorsing Obama for President. Wow.

And Buckley isn't the only one.

I will continue to have hope. But Palin and McCain owe us a great apology that words alone will not accomplish. Tearing at the very fabric of our national identity for political power is unforgivable.

And it isn't even Halloween

But as Tony notes, it is not too early to start worrying about, or profiting off the War on Christmas.

I have a lot of disagreements with the religious conservatives in this country. But this is one that just absolutely befuddles me. It is about the dumbest thing I can imagine and a really horrible way to approach what is supposed to be a time of peace and good will.

October 9, 2008

Friedman makes sense

On two points--patriotism, and taxes.
Op-Ed Columnist - Palin’s Kind of Patriotism - NYTimes.com: "I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”"

I hadn't heard the Holmes' quote. Good one. As I have said many times, I am tired of the right wing mantra that all taxes are evil and that our government is evil. Our government is "us" and our taxes (though all are not proposed nor spent wisely) are how we live with each other in something approaching a civilized community.

David Brooks on Sarah Palin and the Republican party

And it isn't very flattering:
"[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices."

I am with Coates on this one

When we agree Campbell Brown, something is up. She has always struck me as one of the lightweight pretty journalists who presented the spin. When she is questioning the race-baiting tactics of John McCain, that suggests a pretty radical shift in the media narrative from just four years ago. Can any of you imagine national reporters questioning anything Bush did then? I can't.

October 8, 2008

Heh--"'maverick' seems synonymous with coward"

Daily Kos: State of the Nation:
"Yeah, she's firing up the wingnut base. Who cares. The wingnut base is the easiest group of people on the planet to fire up. They get fired up when they think gays might steal their marriages. They get fired up when they have to press 'one' for English. They get fired up when some black guy gets all uppity and runs for president. They get fired up when their sub-sub-sub-version of Christianity isn't the dominant religious ideal of the nation. Holding Sarah Palin in front of them is like teasing a dog through a fence, but that's about it."

Just weird: McCain says "My fellow Prisoners" but not telling a POW story

Talking Points Memo | Losing It?

Make-Believe Maverick : Rolling Stone

I am not completely sold, but a very lengthy and eye-opening profile of McCain that suggests he has much more in common with the current President than we ever thought. His fellow POW's don't all think he is that great, either. John Dramesi, someone who was brutally tortured for trying to escape, and never uttered a word to his captors, is not a fan. Relating a story where the married McCain was looking forward to a cushy post in Rio for the women he could get:
Dramesi, who went on to serve as chief war planner for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and commander of a wing of the Strategic Air Command, was not surprised. "McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

October 7, 2008

Not sure Cindy knows the definition of "dirtiest"

Or at least, she doesn't know her husband hired the same people who savaged him in 2000.

Oh, and the debate. I didn't watch. Had class tonight and just didn't feel up to 90 minutes of "my friends." Read a few live blogs, and heard that McCain referred to Obama as "that one." Nice.

Wow. Alaskan Secessionist party wackier than we thought

Their founder ranted in front of the UN against the US, in a speech sponsored by Iran. Just imagine if Obama was connected to a group like that.

But Palin can get away with suggesting that Obama is "palling around with terrorists."

Her glee at using this kind of slander and lies makes me wonder if she isn't some kind of awful person. As many bloggers have noted, McCain and Palin are stoking up rallies and then surprised at the racist and xenophobic outbursts. Dana Milbank reports that one rally included her supporters turning on reporters and shouting racist epithets at an African American sound man.

The Democratic nominee for President has a lot of security because there are a lot of nutjobs out there. From what I heard, he has more security than Bush because there are more threats lodged against him. Now the Republican candidates are stoking that anger and actually encouraging it. I am not saying they want something bad to happen to Obama, but they are perfectly willing to rally the racists if that will help them get elected. That is stunningly irresponsible.

But Palin and McCain's patriotism is unassailable. Fine. Perhaps we should at least note that they have absolutely no moral courage.

October 6, 2008

And "their heart closes down"

Damn. Berkeley Breathed is ending Opus. I have a personal connection to the penguin from Bloom County. I remember seeing him speak during college. I read every Bloom County strip. I bought the books. I have two stuffed Opus, er, figures. One I gave to SOF. I won't read the last strip. I can't. I won't.

I think I do grief badly. Perhaps you need no more proof than the fact that I teared up hearing that Opus would be no more. If I grieve an imaginary penguin, what do you think I do with losing people or animals close to me?

This day has been sad and melancholy. I am prone to that. I know it. The weather grows a little cooler; the days a little shorter; and my mood darkens. I have felt that today with an intensity that I don't enjoy, but have become familiar with. Don't get me wrong. It is not clinical. I am not stopped from doing my work, or connecting to SOF or my friends. I am not bedridden.

I am just sad.

Listening to the interview on NPR on the way home from the store, I found myself tearing up. Discussing his new children's book, Breathed said that he wants children to know that sometimes adults are sad for a good reason, but sometimes "their heart closes down" and they are closed to new experiences and new relationships.

I understand that. I haven't done that, but I understand that. There are times I am jealous of those who seem to be able to box their emotions into some inaccessible space and forge ahead. I have never been one of those people. I really don't think it is healthy. But sometimes it seems like it would make life a little easier. After losing a very sweet dog last year, I feared I would harden. She represented so much for me about what was good--that losing her was harder than it, perhaps, should have been. But her loss was connected to so many other losses--friendships, relationships, dreams, etc.

I have no pithy answers to my own grief. I know that I have pledged to not close down my heart nor lock myself away from other people. And I hope to keep that pledge and make myself available and vulnerable to those around me.

But for me, Opus will live on forever in a world where irreverent humor meets childhood innocence. If that is denial, then it is the one I am willing to live with.

More on Projection

Talking Points Memo | Back to the DSM-IV

Check out the video of McCain getting "touchy" and "angry" when his policies and decisions are questioned. Also check out how the Des Moines paper characterizes his interview.

Is this textbook projection?

Because it seems delusional:
"'My opponent's touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who's already authored two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. It's as if somehow the usual rules don't apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that,' - John McCain, today."

McCain camp to go negative

Because even after Sarah Palin managed to wink her way through a debate instead of collapsing in tears, the polls aren't going in McCain's direction. Of course, he doesn't have to go negative. But he will, and he will do it gladly, as we saw Palin on the stump referring to Obama as "palling around with terrorists." As many have noted, that seems purposefully vague to invoke modern terrorism, rather than one white guy from the time Obama was 8 who Obama has renounced for that behavior. Oh, and that white guy is now an Education professor.

The thing is, that this is one of those "glass house" kind of situation. McCain has plenty of associations in his past and present that are troubling. One, that I raised earlier this year (Ubub will back me up) is that while the right wants to tar and feather Obama for knowing William Ayers, no one mentions that a common stop for right wing politicians is G. Gordon Liddy. When I suggested that to Ubub and Anglican, I was speculating, but now we have some evidence that McCain has appeared with Liddy and even had a fundraiser at his home. On Liddy's radio show, just last November
Liddy greeted him as “an old friend,” and McCain sounded like one. “I’m proud of you, I’m proud of your family,” he gushed. “It’s always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great.”
Liddy, as far as I know, remains unrepentant for the laws he broke during Watergate, and admitted in one of his books that he had made plans to kill a journalist believing that was Nixon's wish. So, why is that not a problem for McCain? Perhaps it will be.

But even more troubling, I think, for McCain is his Keating connection, which Ben Smith points out is not "guilt by association," but rather "guilt by guilt." The issue isn't that McCain knew Keating, but that McCain assisted Keating in his wrong doing, and that McCain's current approach to economic regulation is shockingly similar to what he did back then.

October 5, 2008

Back to why I don't like Sarah Palin

Sorry. I know we are already tired of her. But she is still out there and still threatening to take over the Vice Presidency (which she still doesn't understand, btw). She said in her interview with Katie Couric that Dick Cheney's biggest mistake was his hunting accident. Evidently she doesn't sweat torture either. On Fox, the day after the debate, she said that as VP, she would make sure that the executive branch "does its job." What that means, I have no idea, and I don't think she does either.

I have been in an email conversation about Palin with a conservative friend. He has reservations about her as well, but has accused me and others of unfairly disparaging the Governor for lacking intellectual curiosity. I am not sure why that is such an insult, but it sure seems true with the woman who would be Veep. She doesn't know about the conversation about Roe, about Hamas, or about the Bush Doctrine. And she has no clue that Dick Cheney might have fundamentally changed the Veep role for the worse.

But it isn't her conservative stances (or lack thereof) that bother me the most. It is how she acts. While playing to the pious religious folk, she acts more like Mae West than Lottie Moon. Watching her wink and flirt during the debate, I wondered if she was putting on an act or if this was what her boss wanted. The NRO's Rich Lowry suggested it worked for him
I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.
Nice, huh? Bad enough that the religious right backing this candidate rightly worry about the over-sexualized nature of our culture, but then back someone who single-handedly is trying to turn the Vice Presidency into a beauty contest--complete with a flirting candidate. Oh, but she is pro-life, so that is all that matters?

I could handle the flirting and the winking. But, as the Slate blogger notes, she is not a nice person:
"it isn't her conservatism that rankles, but her bile. (Today, for example, she accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country'' because he happened to serve on a charity board on education reform with a '60s radical whose views he has denounced. According to the New York Times story Palin was referencing—and deliberately misrepresenting—"[t]he two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of [William] Ayers, whom he has called 'somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.' "
All that Jesus stuff comes in handy when you are preaching at the Wasilla Pentacostal church, or speaking to a canned audience of men like Richard Land, but it evidently isn't handy when you are asked to speak about your opponent. This one thing sums up why I have grown to loathe the Bush and Palin's of the world, and lose respect for the religious people who back them. They use their faith to get support and fundraising, and then govern or campaign in a manner that would make Machiavelli blush. The ends, after all, justify the means. Being Christian means you get certain people's votes, but it certainly doesn't ask you to speak honestly or respectfully about Barack Obama. Nope. You get to call him a terrorist and Unamerican.


October 4, 2008

A Saturday Palin-free post. At least until that title it was. Damn.

Our pond pump broke last week. Well, to be fair, I think it broke last month, but I discovered it last Saturday while waiting for a friend to take me to the OU/TCU game. Our first instinct was to just bag it until next Spring when we intend to install a liner so we can have fish. But then we realized just how much we enjoyed the waterfall during the autumn months. These can be some of the most pleasant in Oklahoma, and we like to sit out back with the dogs, chiminea fire, and a few beers--listening to music and the gentle waterfall.

So yesterday, SOF and I hit the road to beautiful and scenic (it was nice) Shawnee, Oklahoma. Turns out they have one of the largest outdoor (or indoor, for that matter) pond stores in the nation. A very nice man spent several hours with us showing various approaches to ponds and discussing what might work for us. Turns out that one of the impediments for having fish is adequate biological filtration. Putting fish in there, along with a lot of decaying oragnic material can lead to toxic levels of amonia (and other things I can't remember). If we decide to move forward next spring, we will have to decide on how to manage that.

But in the meantime, we learned more about using pond pumps. Turns out I handled my previous pump exactly wrong, though intuitively correct for me. I reduced the flow going into the pump, where that model wants the flow reduction on the outgoing side to increase head pressure. I thought that would make the pump work harder, but counter intuitively, it actually would have worked better and with less electrical current. Who knew? Perhaps my old pump would be more than a dead weight now. Or not.

We ended up purchasing a used magnetic drive pump (no, I don't know what that means) to get us working again for the fall. And it works beautifully. Check it out here:

As you see, Abbie approves. It is nice to have it back.


October 3, 2008

Palin's debate flow chart

Circulating on the internets this morning. H/t to my friend Mary. And it is just too damn funny. Actually, it would be funnier if it weren't so true.

The morning after

And my view of the debate has not changed. Palin did well enough to keep her on the ticket, but did not demonstrate any fundamental curiosity or understanding of complex issues. Not one. She showed she can be briefed and coached in a debate. She showed she can memorize some talking points, but she has yet to fundamentally explain a complex issue. That may be true of many people, but those people aren't running for the Veep spot with the oldest Presidential candidate. Someone described her like a sugar high. You are intrigued with her at the beginning, and then start to quickly tire of her as you frantically look through your cupboards for a little protein.

Or, as Noam Scheiber put it:
"My completely impressionistic take on Palin's performance tonight is that it mirrorred her campaign performance so far (if not quite as dramatically): When Palin started off, you thought, "Wow, she seems so fresh--so human and easy to relate to. How can we compete with that?" Then, as the debate wore on, you thought, "Hmm, okay, she still seems human, but not quite what I'm looking for in a vice president." And, by the end, as the vacuous answers piled up, it was more like, "Good God, keep this woman away from the Oval Office." Which is the story of the last month, too."
Sheiber also quoted one of her more nonsensical and talking points-ridden answer. As if, you might say, she is playing madlibs with disparate talking points about Israel
But, man, ask the woman to grapple with a substantive question and you worry she's going to hurt herself. My favorite Palin response of the night:

IFILL: What has this administration done right or wrong -- this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- what have they done? And is a two-state solution the solution?

PALIN: A two-state solution is the solution. And Secretary Rice, having recently met with leaders on one side or the other there, also, still in these waning days of the Bush administration, trying to forge that peace, and that needs to be done, and that will be top of an agenda item, also, under a McCain-Palin administration.

Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East. We have got to assure them that we will never allow a second Holocaust, despite, again, warnings from Iran and any other country that would seek to destroy Israel, that that is what they would like to see.

We will support Israel. A two-state solution, building our embassy, also, in Jerusalem, those things that we look forward to being able to accomplish, with this peace-seeking nation, and they have a track record of being able to forge these peace agreements.

They succeeded with Jordan. They succeeded with Egypt. I'm sure that we're going to see more success there, also.

It's got to be a commitment of the United States of America, though. And I can promise you, in a McCain-Palin administration, that commitment is there to work with our friends in Israel.
She should never be in the oval office except on a tour. Like me. Like most of you. This Republican bullshit that says we should elect a normal regular "hockey mom" (even if she is that) is unbelievably destructive and irresponsible as we face economic catastrophe, climate change and a war on terror. Neither of those three things, I might add, can Sarah Palin explain, or address, in any kind of complexity. This is not the time for make-believe candidates.

October 2, 2008


Am I wrong, or does Sarah Palin pronounce it the same way?

Oh, and her favorite word is "also."

And I don't like her. And I still don't see anything that suggests that she knows anything close to enough to govern.


Sigh. Mavericks.

She is not an idiot. But she isn't far from it.


"Doggone it?" WTF? Is it too much to ask that our national candidates could speak English. Maybe?


And she is "thankful" that the Constitution has duties for the VP. Also.



"Work with Ya. "



We will do with the VP what is best for the country. Whether it is legal or not.


I think she is completely blather. Blather. Also. Blather.


Is she really an oil and gas regulator?

World View? American Exceptionalism. We are unapologetically better than anyone else.


I am starting to hate her. Ya.


Reform. Maverick. Blah. Blah.


Did I say Maverick? Also? Also. Ya. Doggone it. Ya. Blah, blah, blah, maverick, blah, blah, reform, blah, blah. Also.


Oh, and Palin called the commander in Afghanistan "McClellan. didn't she?


Up there. In Alaska.



Forgot "folks." Evidently there are a lot of "folks" in Alaska.


Oh god. The problem with those interviews was the evil media filter. It wasn't Palin. It was Katie Couric.

"fight for our freedoms also." Jeebus. She could be in charge of the bombs.


I found this video at Ta-Nehisi Coates and completely understand why an African American writer would be so excited to see this. Many will disagree with the pro-union rhetoric, and even the political conclusions. But watch this and marvel that in 2008, with all the race-baiting and BS we have seen, that a white union leader speaks so eloquently against racism.

October 1, 2008

A very interesting take on Palin

That, I think most Repubs and many Democrats have missed. From a Coates reader email:
"For many Gen X women like myself (and Palin is Gen X) the primary sexist experience is: 'Those men gave the job to that clueless chick instead of me, because the boss thinks she's hot and/or will be a yes-man with no ideas of her own.'

If, for some Boomer women, Obama's win over Hillary represents the guy they lost the promotion to, Palin's selection plays the same role for Gen X women. We've seen it: first the incompetent yet babelicious woman is promoted over her head, then the boss orders the attention of the entire team/department/etc. to focus on ensuring that 'we' shield her from 'mistakes' (or worse, we get blamed for her mistakes). Palin reminds us of when we got screwed by this sort of bullshit. And it shows in voters' response to her."

Tony posted several of the latest Palin stories and noted how the Evangelical Outpost just continues to gush over Palin's approach to the public square, while retaining her identity as a "lady." While I am sure many evangelical women will do the gymnastics necessary to celebrate Palin (even for the same virtues they savaged Clinton), I think many women, period, will distrust her because of her apparent popularity because of her looks.