Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailing Out

H.L. Mencken once defined a Puritan as a person who lived his life in fear that someone, somewhere, was having a good time. A minor modification makes the statement true for all Americans, who spend an inordinate amount of time worrying that someone, somewhere, is getting over. There’s no better explanation for the failure of the economic disaster recovery bill in the House of Representatives.

The bill had flaws, as would anything whipped up in less than a week that was intended to address something as badly broken as our financial markets. It was still generally considered to be the adult thing to do, even if it meant holding one’s nose to vote for it. Reasoned, knowledgeable voices from both sides of the political spectrum agreed something had to be done, and the Paulson-Dodd-Frank plan was less offensive than any alternative likely to appear on such short notice.

Congressmen facing tough re-election campaigns walked away from their leadership’s entreaties in droves, regardless of party affiliation, though the Republican droves were proportionately twice as large as those of the Democrats. Constituents didn’t want to hear how these pinstripe suit, power suspender wearing Wall Street fat cats were going to benefit from the plan, even with the provisions for compensation reduction and taxpayer protection. They wanted an reckoning. Never mind there will be plenty of time after we keep the boat from sinking to apportion blame for who left the portholes open. The People want these guys dead, their wives raped, their children auctioned into slavery, and their pets sold to Chinese restaurants.

This is a not uncommon American reaction. Pick a social program, any social program. All it takes is Fox News to find one person in a thousand gaming the system, and there will he a hue and cry to dismantle the whole operation, no matter how many people It helps, or how good the return on our investment might be. No rational person will argue that anyone who takes unfair advantage of these programs should not be prosecuted and face serious consequences. Our national predisposition for zero tolerance provides a willingness to let nine hundred ninety-nine children to go without proper nutrition or health care because one lowlife on welfare took more than her fair share.

The entertaining irony is that no one enjoys getting over more than Americans. Maybe that’s why so many of us are worry about someone else pulling a fast one; we spend so much time thinking of doing it ourselves. Take this test: the next time someone complains about a welfare cheat or stock manipulator, ask if he claims every dollar on his taxes. Or skipped out on jury duty. Bought a hot television.

Here’s a scenario. You’re in a bar. A man comes into selling watches for twenty cents on the dollar. If you buy the watch and it works, you feel good because you got a deal. You know the watch was stolen, but it’s a victimless crime, right? The rightful owner was insured, no one hurt. Except insurance companies don’t lose money on stuff like that; they pass it along to their policyholders in the form of increased premiums, so you paid more for that watch than you think.

Scenario Two: Same bar, same guy. Except this time the watch is a knockoff and you’re the one getting screwed. Now you’re pissed, though the difference is a simple matter of whose ox got gored.

People often complain about how hard it is to know what’s the right thing to do. Doing the right thing is often hard, but it’s rarely hard to know what it is. Often what’s right isn’t in our selfish short-term interest; we pretend it’s tough so we can find an excuse for a more palatable decision. Nay-voting congressmen and are all over the airwaves today, rationalizing their decision not to do the adult thing, when it’s more clear by the hour it came down to re-election. This is how we define leadership in America.

Our capacity to rationalize ourselves into self-delusion is formidable. The other reason given for defeating the bill was, “It’s Socialism.” We hear that one all the time, too. The mere mention of a government health plan provokes “It’s Socialism” cries that roll across the landscape like thunder. Socialism is the third leg of the unholy trinity that would damn us all to hell if left unchecked, along with gay marriage and abortion. Yet the largest, most successful, and most popular government program ever created, an entitlement virtually all agree must be defended to the last dying breath, is so close to unadulterated socialism it carries the name: Social Security.

And there are those who wonder why there is no consistency in American politics.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ooh, Shiny

The United States Mint has stopped printing buffalo head gold coins. People are hoarding gold. This is the most intelligence defying act since Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president. Granted, intelligence is defied on an almost daily basis lately, but this is bad. People have been talked into hoarding gold because it is alleged to be the standard of financial systems throughout history; the only thing of true, undeniable value.


Gold is valuable because it always has been. Since the earliest recorded days of what passed for civilization, gold has been the material by which wealth has been measured. Tombs were encrusted with it. Untold hundreds of thousands have died in its search, either killed in the quest, or by those questing for it.

What is it about gold that has made it so valuable? Great medicinal power? Physical strength? Is it an aphrodisiac? (No; the wealth it implies is the aphrodisiac.) Gold became valuable to ignorant people no more than three steps removed from apes because it is shiny, and easy to make pretty jewelry with. Period. The practical uses of today's gold were undreamed of in those days. They collected it, paid dearly for it, killed and conquered for it. Because it was shiny.

Want more proof? Even today, when (most of us) will readily agree the earth is round and rotates around the sun, it is a rule of thumb for a man to spend three months' salary on an engagement diamond. The true value of this diamond is nil. Industrial diamonds have some utilitarian value, but they're not used for jewelry. Jewelry diamonds are expensive because they're shiny. They would be of more genuine use if they had remained in their previous form; at least you can heat your house with coal.

For all the talk the current crisis has inspired about what is truly valuable, few are talking about the only three things that have inherent value. Not gold, silver, or even platinum. Not uranium, stocks, or bonds. Not derivatives or real estate. In the end, those are no more valuable than tulip bulbs. The three things that have inherent value in this, and, for us, any other world, are edible food, breathable air, and potable water. That's it.

Ask someone in Somalia if he'd rather have an ounce of gold or a bushel of corn. All other measures of wealth are eventually evaluated by how well they can provide the only three we really need. Wall Street masters of the universe will die in minutes if they can't get a breath of air, no matter how much money they made on their stock options.

Much of the current crisis is due to mankind's inability to remember what is truly valuable. If we don't get a handle on our greed, we may have this lesson proven to us sooner, and more unpleasantly, than we'd like.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Only Constant is Change

Time has a way of altering the meaning of words and phrases. “Naughty” was once a much stronger term than it is now. In my musty, dusty, vaguely remembered teen days, referring to someone as a “vicious beast” would definitely be an insult. (Using those two words in conjunction seems a reach, even for the Seventies, but neither had a good connotation.) Now my daughter calls someone—me, one time—a “vicious beast” and it’s high praise.

“Bitch” meant female dog, period, until common usage made it a derogatory term for a woman. Yet to jazz musicians of my vintage, “bitch” was about the highest compliment one player could give another, second only to “monster,” which could also safely be called a pejorative under other circumstances.

This brings us to today’s lesson: “too big to fail.” When originally concocted, this term’s common usage meant a company had grown large enough, and diverse enough, that it couldn’t fail. No matter how bad one aspect of its business got, other, more successful pieces would keep it afloat. General Electric is be one example; General Motors another. (Companies with “General” in their titles were looking to achieve this status, generally speaking.)

“Too big to fail” has been evolving in meaning over time toward the definition it clearly assumed last week, with the government coming to the assistance of AIG. “Too big to fail” is now no outdated; the new term should be “to big to be allowed to fail.” Facing these new facts, the federal government probably can’t be faulted for looking for ways to prop some of these giants up. On the other hand, it might be nice to utilize some of the existing anti-trust laws—or create some new ones—so no companies can become so big we have to worry about the whole economy going down with them in the future.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Qualified No

The McCain campaign got a bump when it started limiting his exposure to the media and sent Sarah Palin to the annex of Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location, away from any potentially embarrassing questions. Maybe they should lock the whole campaign down, since its surrogates can’t seem to keep their feet off their molars, either.

McCain’s economic advisors have a special gift for this. Phil Gramm famously declared this “nation of whiners” was undergoing only a “mental” recession. Just the other day Douglas Holtz-Eakin gave McCain credit for creating the Blackberry, which isn’t even an American invention. (It’s only fair to note the McCain campaign dismissed the comment and walked away from it immediately.)

Then there’s Carly Fiorina.

Submitting to an interview for St. Louis radio station KTRS yesterday, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO was asked if she thought Gov. Palin had the experience to run HP.

“"No, I don't," said Fiorina. "But that's not what she's running for. Running a corporation is a different set of things."

Carly, a contestant for this year’s Yassir Arafat Award for Never Missing an Opportunity to Miss an Opportunity, then appeared with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC to compound the error.

MITCHELL: You were asked whether Sarah Palin has the experience to run a major company ... and you said, "No, I don't, but you know what? That's not what she's running for."

FIORINA: “Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation. I don't think Barack Obama could run a major corporation. I don't think Joe Biden could run a major corporation. But on the other hand, running a major corporation is not the same as being President or Vice President of the United States. It is a fallacy to suggest that the country is like a company. So, of course, to run a business you have to have a lifetime of experience in business. But that's not what John McCain, Barack Obama, Sarah Palin or Joe Biden are doing.”

The author of the Slate piece, Christopher Beam, goes on to say, “Her answer is completely natural and nondamning if you look at the entire paragraph. (Although you could take issue with the ‘fallacy’ line, since George W. Bush did suggest that business experience matters.)”

Beam misses the point. What’s damning is Fiorina’s hubris. While her Wikipedia article has received the Sarah Palin Good Housekeeping Sanitizing treatment, her tenure at HP was beneficial for anyone but her. She walked away with a $21 million severance after being asked to leave by the board. Dismissing someone with that kind of package can be interpreted less as recognition of a job well done—if so, why was she shown the door?—than as a bribe never to return. Palin, McCain, Obama, and Biden may or may not be qualified t run HP; Fiorina certainly wasn’t.

Beam also misses the validity of her “fallacy” comment. There is little comparison between running a major corporation and running the country. The president’s job is infinitely harder. A CEO’s toughest decision may be to decide how many people will lose their jobs; presidents are routinely asked to decide how many people will lose their lives. Her implication that running a company may be the more difficult job isn’t just a conceit; it’s distasteful. A successful president could sit in a CEO’s chair, hire a few niche-specific experts, and run the show as a vacation.

The truth is, all the talk about which candidate is qualified to be president is a straw man; no one is truly qualified to be president until he’s been doing it for a while. The current occupier of the billet has been there over seven years, and he still can’t do it. The best we can hope for is someone with an understanding of the terrible responsibilities of the position, and skills that can be adapted to its performance.

That is the crux of the criticism of McCain’s appointment of Palin as running mate. It’s not that she’s unqualified; we just haven’t had a chance to see if she appreciates the magnitude of the job; her comments to Charles Gibson imply she does not, or she would have at least pondered it before accepting. Nor have we had a chance to see if she has a skill set that can be adapted to doing it right. A year ago Obama was not my choice for president, for exactly that reason. I hadn’t seen him around enough to have a feel for how he’d respond to things. He’s been on the news every day since, so many of my concerns have been addressed. Sarah Palin is well short of that threshold. (In the interests of full disclosure, it should be noted Joe Biden was my original choice for president.)

One thing’s for sure: Carly Fiorina would almost certainly have a key role in a McCain administration. That should be enough to give even Sarah Palin second thoughts.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The System's Broke, Now So Are You

Yesterday Lehman Brothers went underwater faster than Galveston. Merrill Lynch was helicoptered to safety at the last minute. AIG is stalled on the railroad tracks, hoping the engineer of the oncoming train isn’t text messaging anyone. All of us are riding the tiger, and we might as well wait until he gets tired; he’ll eat us if we jump off at the wrong time. (Thus ends the strained metaphor section of today’s essay.)

Free market, laissez-faire capitalism is at the heart of the American economic myth, and the country has profited from it We’re in the process of being reminded the free market ain’t free, and it’s not just those who reach for the brass ring and miss who get ground up in the wheels of its machinery.

Unfettered capitalism is based largely on the premise of self-regulating markets, and the idea of balancing risk against rewards. Theoretically, it works. We’re seeing it work now, as bubbles in housing and credit positions have burst more or less simultaneously, creating havoc across the economy. In theory, those who made mistakes are being punished financially, and those who were prudent will be rewarded. That’s not how it works in practice.

This is not the place to debate just desserts for those whose greed brought us to this place, nor to argue who should, or should not, get bailed out by the government. All we can do is to make the best of an increasingly bad situation and devise workable plans to see to it such events don’t happen again.

Which means regulation. Public policy has stripped away layers of regulation since Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981. Much of this was necessary. Government regulations created a culture of featherbedding, where no business in selected sectors—commercial airlines, telecommunications, interstate shipping—could go broke, thanks to what amounted to government price fixing. Everyone paid for that, except the shareholders of the protected industries.

The freewheeling, devil-take-the-hindmost attitude that replaced it has swung the pendulum of business too far the other way. It’s never good to see a business go bust, though some deserve to. Our current situation has evolved into a caricature of laissez-faire, where those with the most to gain had little to lose, and those who stood to benefit least may lose most.

Tax laws were made more lenient for brokers of certain investments, because their income depended to a large extent on commissions, never mind they were building their fortunes with other people’s money. Their risk was they wouldn’t get rich; their reward could be to become obscenely rich. Exorbitant bonuses were paid to executives who built short-term profits on dubious strategies, such as buying securities based on mortgages unlikely to be paid. These, and others, have been swept up in the debris of the bursting bubble, but they’ve already cashed in. Their investments will suffer, but a $10 million (or more) nest egg can take a substantial hit before its owner becomes middle class, even by John McCain’s definition.

Those who will be hurt most are those who had the least to gain. People who were in the market hoping for no more than a relaxing retirement, or to send a child to college are seeing those possibilities move farther away every time they open a newspaper. Adding insult to injury, the tightening of credit makes it harder for their kids to get student loans; the potential of getting money out of their houses diminishes with the value of the house.

These are the people who never stood to become millionaires, but who are paying the greatest real price. The nebulous “market” true capitalists reflexively genuflect before has no mechanism of concern for these people; they don’t matter. The excessive regulation of an overlarge government can be blamed for a lot of things, but we forget the uses and benefits of government at our peril. It seems America has to learn the dangers of capitalism run amuck every eighty years or so. Let’s do what we can to make it a little easier on our grandchildren.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Executive Experience

Enough with family values and small town values and pigs with lipstick. Until Sarah Palin answers actual questions about her positions and philosophies,
her record is all there is to go on; let’s look at it.

Two terms as mayor of a town with less than 10,000 inhabitants
Twenty months as governor of a 47th most populous state, with a budget that ranks 38th in the nation.

It has been pointed out she has more executive experience than both Democratic nominees combined. No argument. Let’s examine the relevance of that argument.

Wasilla, Alaska, has, by the best figures I could find, 9,780 inhabitants. Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania—my home town—has 12,159, so it can reasonably be argued that I have a similar small town upbringing. Gov. Palin and I are both college graduates; she graduated from the University of Idaho (current enrollment 11,636); my alma mater is Indiana University of Pennsylvania, with a current enrollment of approximately14,000. Granted, it’s been quite a whole since either of us was a student, but the rough comparison still holds. Our demographic backgrounds are not so dissimilar to prevent either of us from sharing basic small-town sensibilities.

Gov. Palin bases much of her qualification derived from small town values, which she seems to think are universal. Lower Burrell and Wasilla are similar in size, but there do appear to be some differences in values. The most recent available figures for registered sex offenders shows Wasilla with one per every 133 residents; Lower Burrell has one per every 4,110. For comparison purposes, Washington DC has 1,030 residents for every registered sex offender. If you drop something on a Wasilla street, leave it there.

The most recent data I could find—2002, during then-Mayor Palin’s tenure—shows 68 city employees in Wasilla. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under the chairmanship of Joe Biden, has approximately 280 staff members. Granted, Biden has people to actually make sure things get done. So does the mayor. (Alaska has approximately 15,000 state employees.) Mayor is considered to be a part-time job in Wasilla, which can reasonably be argued diminishes the intensity of the executive experience.

Her mayoral experience is a straw man; no one would argue Don Kinosz’s experience as Mayor of Lower Burrell qualifies him to run the world’s leading democracy in turbulent times. Governor of Alaska is more relevant experience. Aside from this sentence, we will leave aside Karl Rove’s August assertion that, should Obama select Virginia governor Tim Kaine as his running mate, it would prove Obama’s willingness to place politics ahead of country, due to Kaine’s lack of experience as Virginia governor, though he has governed a state with over eleven times the population of Governor Palin and a budget over three-and-a-half times that of Alaska’s, for only forty-one fewer days.

One point jumps out from the above comparison. Virginia has eleven times the people, yet spends less than four times as much to run the state. Given that Alaska has great expanses of empty land that make many economies of scale impractical, it’s still costing three times as much per capita to run Alaska than it does to keep Virginia operational. Alaska ranks second in the nation in federal aid, and has the third highest unemployment rate. It passes out subsidies of $3200 per eligible citizen from its oil revenues. How this fits with the conservative mantra of less government remains to be seen.

A reasonable person could argue she’s only been in office twenty months. Hardly time for her policies to take effect. True, but Republicans can’t logically have it both ways. (Not that they don’t try.) If her twenty months of experience is enough to qualify her to hold the missile codes, then it’s enough to measure her performance.

This is where the essential disconnect occurs in the “executive experience” argument; the term “successful executive experience” would carry much more water. No president has ever had more executive experience than George W. Bush did when elected in 2000. Little of it could be called successful up to that point, so it should not be a surprise to see his executive decisions afterward lead to several calamities. Gubernatorial experience is no indicator of a successful presidency. Reagan and Clinton were governors; so was Jimmy Carter.

A senator’s lack of “executive experience” is also hardly a disqualifier. Senators have rarely been elected in the past sixty years. The two who were, Truman and Kennedy, did all right. Lyndon Johnson was a senator when elected vice-president. His presidency is generally considered to be a failure because of Vietnam, but Johnson is woefully shortchanged when it comes to passing out credit for civil rights advances in the Sixties.

Then there’s Eisenhower, the most recent war hero to become president. As impressive as his military resume was, it was his diplomatic skills that got him the job of Supreme Allied Commander, and it was those skills that allowed him to hold together the world’s greatest and most fractious alliance. Eisenhower’s executive experience was earned under fire, literally.

Governors have no equivalent experience; their most important decisions are managerial. Education, infrastructure, budgets. All important; none are life and death. Comparing a governor’s executive experience to what’s needed to be president is like comparing a football coach to a general.

Sarah Palin’s executive experience in Alaska is inconsequential when compared the world experience of the Democratic ticket. Asking her to step in on a moment’s notice to run what is probably the world’s most important nation would be like bringing a pitcher out of the minor leagues to pitch the seventh game of the World Series. The rookie might do all right, but no one’s going to bet their house payment on it.

(Figures cited above were obtained from the web sites of the institutions, US Census data, and www.city-data.com )

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, Puh-leese

Barack Obama is taking a lot of heat for allegedly referring to Sarah Palin when he made a comment about "putting lipstick on a pig" yesterday. It seems like a stretch, since he, and other politicians—mostly Republicans—have used the phrase many times in other circumstances. If the Republicans really want to take umbrage at a sexist remark, here are the

5. Put some rouge on that ho.
4. Put some eyeliner on that bitch.
3. Put some mascara on that skank.
2. Put some exfoliating cleanser on that skirt.
1. Put some trollop-ey makeup on that cunt.

Sorry. I got carried away. John McCain already used that last one when referring to his own wife. Wouldn't want the Republicans to whine about plagiarism.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Marketing Savvy

Times are tough for American automakers. While some of the blame can laid at the feet of the economy and unions who haven’t figured out the Fifties are over, management must carry the greatest burden. Short-sighted negations with the unions, and a refusal to anticipate a need for anything smaller than SUVs and trucks have led the Big Three into dire financial straits.

Their public relations and marketing don’t kick any ass, either.

Here’s an actual example, ripped from the headlines. No one will argue that GM should have to tolerate what is essentially employee fraud. To come down on employees for too liberally interpreting the employee discount within a week of making GM employee discounts available to everyone is surreal, especially considering GM—along with Ford and Chrysler—is likely to come to the federal government, hats in hand, to ask for some kind of public assistance. This kind of thing will not generate a sympathetic hearing.

Never mind about NAFTA; maybe it’s time for more of the American auto industry to be placed into the hands of people who actually know how to run a car company at a profit, while still paying American workers decent wages and benefits. Honda and Toyota come to mind.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Taking the Pledge

Remember the controversy over whether the Pledge of Allegiance should have the words "under God" in it? It was a big deal a few years ago, conservatives launching daily tirades because losing those two words would corrupt the values the Pledge was supposed to uphold. Turns out they were worried about the wrong two words. Events of the past several years have made it clear "under God" doesn't matter much one way or the other in the grand scheme of what we pledge allegiance to; the only words in the Pledge are the two that are most often forgotten today.

For all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mighty Like a Whale

John McCain’s acceptance speech last night once again showed the Republicans’ bizarre concepts of consistency. Last night McCain said this about workers whose jobs moved overseas:

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.

This sounds suspiciously like the party of less government—who wants to keeps government’s filthy hands out of your pockets—coming up with another unnecessary government program. Wouldn’t it be better, and cheaper, to make it advantageous for companies to keep jobs with a “decent wage” here in the first place, and penalize those who ship those jobs overseas? Not to seem like a Neanderthal on the topic of globalization, but isn’t it in our national interest to keep at least some good, working class jobs here?

This is not just a socio-economic issue; national security is also at stake. The recent spike in oil prices produced a swell of comments about the possible consequences to globalization if transportation prices made it unfeasible to continue to transport raw materials and finished goods overseas. A war could do the same, depending on its location and scope. It is in this country’s national security interest to keep many of these jobs handy, lest we have crucial goods and services made unavailable at a time when they may be needed most.

The ultimate irony—as pointed out by Joe Klein in Time magazine online—is that John McCain has become the “standard-bearer of a failed ideology — ironically, a belief in 'me first' before country.” McCain leverages his history of personal service and sacrifice in the name of a party whose idea of “service” is to support the troops in Iraq by shopping, and thinks of “sacrifice” as not playing golf. It demeans him, and it’s sad, to hear promises of tax cuts draw greater cheers than mentions of country.

Make no mistake: Republicans are definitely the party of “me first.” Democrats are not immune to the charge, but “Republican” has become virtually synonymous with “conservative,” and Twenty-first Century conservatives are interested in conserving little aside from what’s theirs already. John McCain deserves better, as do the rest of us.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Believe Half of What You Read and None of What You Hear

Twenty-four hour cable “news” has evolved into little more than a rotating series of “experts” discussing the same two or three stories all day. And all night. And all day tomorrow, unless something more interesting comes up. Like a crotch shot of Britney Spears getting out of her car to go to family court. Or O.J. Simpson shoplifting a Ka-Bar knife.

Since there aren’t enough plausibly impartial experts to go around, political insiders have to be brought in for their “analysis.” It’s understood these folks are drinking the Kool-Aid, but since they’re being “interviewed” by “journalists” such as Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity, there is at least a perception these “insiders” might actually have an opinion to offer, instead of parroting their respective philosophy’s talking points. Why else have them on, if not to provide a little insight to voters hoping to make a reasonably informed decision? (As the more astute among you may have noted, the high volume of quotation marks in this piece indicate my “high” opinion of the process.)

Alas, this is not true. (Your sense of disappointment is palpable, as is mine.) Check out the transcript of what two high-ranking Republican strategists had to say at the Republican convention when they thought the mikes were off. MSNBC knows what Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy really think, yet it provides them with a forum to pass off Republican misdirection as “insight.” This is even more despicable than Noonan and Murphy lying to the audience. MSNBC knows they’re doing it, and still provides the forum.

I try not to pay any attention to Internet rumors until I can see them verified by at least one “respectable,” traditional source. There’s too much crap on the blogsphere to take much of it seriously. Even I can write what I want and pass it off as fact, and those of you who have read this blog since it started know what a semi-informed asshole I can be. MSNBC is the offspring of a respected news organization that brought us Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Tim Russert, and many others. To see it so willfully complicit in such deception casts doubt on the entire operation’s journalistic credentials.

Not that I’m excusing Fox. They just never had any journalistic credentials to begin with.

(To see the vidoe and a longer transcript, click here.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin Comparison

When questioned about my short, yet undistinguished military career, I readily admit that I spent three years in an Army band at Ft. McPherson, GA during the height of the Cold War. During that time not a single Soviet military musical unit penetrated as far as Savannah. I’m damn proud of that, and claim at least as much credit as Sarah Palin deserves for protecting us from the imminent invasion across the Bering Strait.

* * *

It’s only a matter of time before YouTube has a video titled, “Governator: The Sarah Palin Chronicles.” We already have pictures of her with weapons.

* * *

I agree with the Republicans: families should be off-limits. That includes the entire family. Don’t whine about the media hounding the pregnant daughter, then hold up the son who’s on his way to Iraq. Either neither can be used as a reflection on their mother’s character, or both. No cherry picking. (Thanks to a caller into NPR for pointing this out.)

* * *

All this talk about McCain’s courage is true. By choosing Palin as his running mate, he’s given die-hard conservatives and one-issue “we want a woman” voters a reason not to want him to complete his term. The man must have them like grapefruit.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Question for Our Readers

The following is from today’s “White House Watch” blog on washingtonpost.com:

Mark Memmott and Jill Lawrence blog for USA Today that 64 percent of those surveyed in the latest USA Today/Gallup say they are "very" or "somewhat concerned" that McCain "would pursue policies that are too similar to what George W. Bush has pursued."

This strongly implies that at least 64 percent of Americans harbor reservations about George Bush’s policies, or they would not be “very” or “somewhat concerned” whether McCain would continue them. If this sizeable majority were pleased with Bush policies, the word phrase would have been “Very or somewhat enthusiastic,” or “very or somewhat hopeful.”

So, given that a preponderance of the American people believe George Bush’s policies are something to be avoided, and are “concerned” McCain would continue these policies, why are the election poll numbers so close?

If anyone has an reasonable explanation for this other than racism, I’d love to hear it.

Sarah Palin's Family...

…will not be discussed here, now or in the future. Opinions Governor Palin has that will affect other Americans are fair game.

One question comes to mind: will conservatives now feel the need to un-demonize pregnant, unwed, teens like they un-demonized drug addicts when Rush Limbaugh turned out to be one?