Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Palin: Debating to Nowhere

The conservative media is criticizing the McCain campaign for not allowing Palin to simply be who she is. They apparently insist on pumping her up with facts so that she may appear capable in front of American voters during the upcoming vice presidential debate. What follows is my prescient telling of what the debate would be like if the McCain campaign followed the pundits' advice:

Gwen Ifill: Governor Palin, let me start with you. In your campaign pronouncements you take umbrage at the use of earmarks by citing the example of the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," yet it is clear that while governor of Alaska and mayor of Wasilla, you actively sought earmarks which were given by Congress to Alaska at a rate higher than any other state in the union. Could you comment on this apparent discrepancy.between what you are now saying and what you did while working on behalf of your home town and Alaska for the viewers?

Palin: It is easy to note from your question that you are a member of the elite American media who will look under rocks and try to see things that are not there. I will attempt to answer your question within that context hoping that the God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small towns USA will see through the attempt to assassinate my character. Now may I ask a question?

Ifill: Yes, please do.

Palin: When you say umbrage, what are you trying to say?

Ifill: Are you asking me what the word 'umbrage' means?

Palin: No, I understand perfectly well what the word 'umbrage' means. I am trying to understand how the word is being used by a member of the elite American media knowing that all God-fearing, gun-toting and humble people in small towns all around America want to know the same thing.

Ifill (long pause): You claim to be against earmarks as the vice presidential candidate. Yet, you were all for earmarks prior to Sen. McCain selecting you. Can you explain this apparent inconsistency?

Palin: Sure. As I have said so many times before, I rejected the Bridge to Nowhere. I put the Alaska governor's jet on e-bay. I know that may be difficult for members of the elite American media to understand, but God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small town America know what I am talking about.

Ifill: What is it that the people of small town America understand about your acts in Alaska?

Palin: What they understand, and what the elite American media fails to understand, is that the people of the United States, not just small town God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people, but people everywhere including mid-sized towns, large cities, the farmlands of America, the industrial centers, everywhere, from sea to shining sea, they take, eh, er, what was the word you used? Hombres?

Ifill: Umbrage.

Palin: Yes that's it. Umbrage. The people of the United States, not just small town God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people, but people everywhere including mid-sized towns, large cities, the farmlands of America, the industrial centers, everywhere, from sea to shining sea, they take umbrage at the attempts of the elite America media to castrate people like me who want to serve.

Ifill: Castrate? do you mean 'castigate?'

Palin: As President Reagan used to say. You remember President Reagan don't you? He was the leader off this great country. I was already in high school when he said this. It was about ten years after I started to listen to speeches of Senator Biden when I was in the second grade. President Reagan used to say, "There you go again." That's what he used to say and I will say it again to you and to the God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small town America.

Ifill: There I go again?

Palin: Yes. Using the big fancy words that no one seems to understand. Then you take any attempt to respond to those questions with the big fancy words and twist them around to make a big deal out of them. God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small town America know what you are doing. Middle sized towns too, big cities, the farmlands, the sea to shining sea.

Ifill: Are you asking me to use another word than 'castigate'?

Palin: Are you trying to castrate me with your questions? Well I can't be castrated. I am a woman, a pit bull with lipstick, a hockey mom with small town values that are so important to the God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small town America. I think these God-fearing, gun-toting, humble people of small town America will see what you are up to. They can see for their eyes that you haven't asked one question of the Senator yet, the Senator that I listened to when I was in second grade.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Quick Study? I Think Not.

Honesty in this campaign comes in small increments, one precious moment at a time, and should be treasured for what it is; the opportunity for insights. Laura Bush provided us with one of these rare moments when she declared that Sarah Palin was absolutely not ready to deal with matters of importance when considering candidates. “Of course she doesn’t have that,” said Bush this week when asked if the vice presidential pick had sufficient foreign policy experience. “You know, that’s not been her role. But I think she is a very quick study.” Let's talk about how quick of a study she is. For at least the last two weeks, Palin has been mocked for her statement that her foreign policy experience had been shaped by the fact that one can see Russia from Alaska. Given the opportunity to correct the mocking of this contention during an interview with Katie Couric, Palin made it abundantly clear that she hadn't learned from this earlier painful lesson. She claimed this time that she was qualified to deal with foreign policy because when Putin came to the United States, he flew over Alaska to get here. Honest to God, I am not making this stuff up.

I will quote Palin directly when asked about the bailout during the Couric interview.
" . . . where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh -- it's got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that."

All this insight from a person, if elected, only one heartbeat of a 72 year old guy with a history of recurrent malignant melanoma away from the presidency.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Panic Sets In; Don't Blink

Panic sets in. Looking at the ongoing presidential campaign through the prism of objectivity, it is obvious that John McCain is experiencing a momentary surge of panic, like a deer caught in the headlights, as the time for the first presidential debate approaches. I know that feeling well. It is akin to the feeling of the approaching bar exam as a young lawyer-hopefully-to-be. Its the feeling as I place a toe on the starting line of a foot race knowing that every one else in the field has run the upcoming distance faster. It is the thought of speaking before several hundred trial lawyer peers. Research indicates that most of us fear public speaking more than death. It is the sinking feeling during the final preparatory phase for playing an instrumental solo before an audience knowing that I'm going to fall flat on my kazoo because there is a difficult passage in the middle of the piece that I can't quite master. Speaking of sinking, it is the long putt on the final hole of a hotly contested match that I needs to be made in order, not to win, but to keep from losing. These are the fears that cause panic. The fear of losing, the fear of doubt, the fear of saying or doing something stupid that sets in and causes the "I just can't do this" feeling. All the political spin aside, this fear is the reason right here and now that has caused McCain to attempt to avoid at any cost the upcoming debate with Obama. Why would a guy who has publicly admitted that the economy is not his strong suit suddenly dart to Washington to help fix a situation that people with a hell of a lot more knowledge and background have been working at day and night for the past week? What hearing is scheduled for 9 PM this upcoming Friday?

I know, John, I know that you are slipping in the polls and Obama will perhaps be better during this upcoming debate than you, but get a grip. Take the sound bite advice that would undoubtedly be offered to you by your running mate. Don't blink. On this point Obama is dead on; A president always has more than one thing going on. There are only forty-plus days left in this campaign and the public needs to evaluate the two candidates. Nothing going on in Washington is more important.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

George Will

George Will, in my opinion, is one of the brightest persons in America. He is also very conservative which is to say there are a number of issues in which his opinions differ greatly from mine. Many times, if I want to determine what the conservative side to an issue really is (i.e. with the rhetoric and demeaning innuendoes aimed at anyone who disagrees removed), I can turn to his writings where his opinion and the forthright supporting reasoning is laid out clearly and succinctly. In his column yesterday in the Washington Post, he has done so with regard to the potential McCain presidency. A reader's comment following the article summarizes its essence. "Thank you, George. To continue the fairy-tail analogy, you are the boy who shouted:: 'The emperor has no clothes!'"

I take the liberty of reprinting that article in its entirety:

McCain Loses His Head

By George F. Will
Tuesday, September 23, 2008; A21

"The queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said without even looking around."

-- "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked the Wall Street Journal to editorialize that "McCain untethered" -- disconnected from knowledge and principle -- had made a "false and deeply unfair" attack on Cox that was "unpresidential" and demonstrated that McCain "doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does."

To read the Journal's details about the depths of McCain's shallowness on the subject of Cox's chairmanship, see "McCain's Scapegoat" (Sept. 19). Then consider McCain's characteristic accusation that Cox "has betrayed the public's trust."

Perhaps an old antagonism is involved in McCain's fact-free slander. His most conspicuous economic adviser is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who previously headed the Congressional Budget Office. There he was an impediment to conservatives, including then-Rep. Cox, who, as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, persistently tried and generally failed to enlist CBO support for "dynamic scoring" that would estimate the economic growth effects of proposed tax cuts.

In any case, McCain's smear -- that Cox "betrayed the public's trust" -- is a harbinger of a McCain presidency. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are "corrupt" or "betray the public's trust," two categories that seem to be exhaustive -- there are no other people. McCain's Manichaean worldview drove him to his signature legislative achievement, the McCain-Feingold law's restrictions on campaigning. Today, his campaign is creatively finding interstices in laws intended to restrict campaign giving and spending. (For details, see The Post of Sept. 17; and the New York Times of Sept. 19.)

By a Gresham's Law of political discourse, McCain's Queen of Hearts intervention in the opaque financial crisis overshadowed a solid conservative complaint from the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the RSC decried the improvised torrent of bailouts as a "dangerous and unmistakable precedent for the federal government both to be looked to and indeed relied upon to save private sector companies from the consequences of their poor economic decisions." This letter, listing just $650 billion of the perhaps more than $1 trillion in new federal exposures to risk, was sent while McCain's campaign, characteristically substituting vehemence for coherence, was airing an ad warning that Obama favors "massive government, billions in spending increases."

The political left always aims to expand the permeation of economic life by politics. Today, the efficient means to that end is government control of capital. So, is not McCain's party now conducting the most leftist administration in American history? The New Deal never acted so precipitously on such a scale. Treasury Secretary Paulson, asked about conservative complaints that his rescue program amounts to socialism, said, essentially: This is not socialism, this is necessary. That non sequitur might be politically necessary, but remember that government control of capital is government control of capitalism. Does McCain have qualms about this, or only quarrels?

On "60 Minutes" Sunday evening, McCain, saying "this may sound a little unusual," said that he would like to replace Cox with Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general of New York who is the son of former governor Mario Cuomo. McCain explained that Cuomo has "respect" and "prestige" and could "lend some bipartisanship." Conservatives have been warned.

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just Suck It Up

We need to apply the same restraints and thinking to big business that big business is willing to apply to the individual. From my viewpoint, the standard thinking among the fat cats is that the individual homeowner, investor, consumer (take your pick) is a person who ALWAYS has the moral obligation to do the right thing. In other words, the individual is to be held responsible to a higher standard than Wall Street whose average annual bonus is in the healthy seven figures. The right thing, in this context, is to suck it up if a mistake is made and suffer the consequences. If an individual had the temerity to attempt to get in on the tech stock craze several years back (a sure sign of greed when an individual thinks that they might make a quick buck or two if large corporations are doing it), when the bubble broke,the response was "Tough." You got what you deserved. The same thinking has been applied to those individuals who mortgaged their homes, or remortgaged them to capture the increased value of their homes. When the housing bubble burst, the little guy has to suck it up again while the big guys and entities most at fault for the dilemma sought and obtained federal bailouts for their approach, which was the same as the individual investor looking to improve his lot. Bankruptcy laws were changed to prevent individuals from discharging their debt on the rationale that it was immoral for such relief to be provided and people needed to be more responsible in their financial decisions. The current administration has always been about relieving the pain of running a big business. The corporations yell that lawsuits hurt the bottom line. No problem, get rid of them by making the words 'trial lawyer' the anti Christ, right alongside "liberals." and pass laws that immunize whole industries from the conduct that injures and kills and maims thousands and thousands of people. When the economy gets a little rough, corporations are given tax breaks and federal assistance in staggering amounts of cases in nonsensical fashion (e.g., Detroit auto companies and the business tax break involving vehicles only exceeding 6000 pounds in weight- a really idiotic idea if one is the least concerned about fuel conservation).

As Congress considers the hastily crafted attempt by the administration (the same thinkers responsible for the current dilemma) to give away 750 billion dollars of our taxpayers to relieve the pain, maybe it's just time to acknowledge and let Wall Street take some of their own medicine; Just suck it up, big guys

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Doctrine: Help Me Name It

The highlight of the Bush presidency occurred some time ago when he was asked (I forget by whom) what mistakes he had made as president and he said that he couldn't think of any. There has been a series of actions and reactions in the past six months which allow me to conclude that McCain will run his potential presidency based on this same fundamental principle that Bush has done so well with these past eights years. Excuse me, I had to hold my nose as I wrote the last seven words of the previous sentence. This fundamental principle is all-encompassing and ever-present in anything that is said and done by the candidate and his veep selection. Here goes; It is simple and direct. Never, Never, Never admit that you have been wrong, could be wrong or are wrong about any thought or action you have every taken in your life. I need to give only one example to characterize this tendency in McCain. Consider his most recent pronouncement regarding meeting with the prime minister of Spain that he discussed during a radio interview with a Hispanic station in Florida. The interviewer asked him if he would meeting with the Spanish leader. Anybody who listened to the broadcast could easily determine that McCain's response occurred simply because he misunderstood the question; pure and simple. He believed that the question concerned a leader in South America and answered the question in that context. Fine, no problem except that when he was criticized for not knowing that Spain wasn't in our hemisphere, he couldn't take the honest route and acknowledge his misunderstanding of the question. Instead, he confabulated a response right out of the Rovian-Bushian-Palian handbook of lies and deceits that would suggest that he didn't misunderstand the question and that he consciously meant to discuss a potential meeting with the Spaniard. Of course, this is a small point, but what it portends is what we have already seen, felt, experienced and suffered from these last eight years. It is false pride; one of the seven deadly sins and the guiding force of the last eight years of the current administration.

Because it appears from the latest polls on the impact of race on the presidential campaign that our enlightened electorate is going to give us McCain and Palin as our leaders for the next four years, I think it is appropriate at this time to formally recognize this doctrine and principle by giving it a name. There are several possibilities. The first that comes to mind is the Bush Doctrine, but that is already taken. Just ask Sarah Palin. The next is the McCain-Bush Doctrine. Nah, that sounds too ordinary. Let's try McSame. Bush shouldn't get all the credit and we won't want future candidates confused. All kinds of word play could be spun around the doctrine so named. By the end of the next four years, we could refer to the era as more of the McSame and everybody by then hopefully would understand what we're talking about. Personally I prefer the McPain Doctrine. It would be easy for students to remember and it would most closely resemble what we have in store for us the next four years.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Damned Lies

There are three kinds of lies, according to Mark Twain; lies, damned lies and statistics. I would like to spend a minute about 'damned lies.' The McCain campaign has gone off the deep end as far as I am concerned by foisting a deliberate pattern of deception and 'damned lies' on the public. I have said repeatedly over the past year that, above all else, McCain is a decent and honorable man. His family was a military family and his background in the military, including his stint at the US Naval Academy, provided the stuff of which integrity and honesty are made. As a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, I was drilled incessantly in the mantra; "We will not lie, steal; or cheat, nor tolerate among us those who do." Each service academy, including Annapolis, has an equivalent theme emphasizing the need for 100% complete and total honesty not only in oneself, but in those with which one is surrounded. I would strongly suspect that this inherent trait in McCain, hard wired as it must have been by his early life military tradition exposure, must be the reason that his positions stood out like a sore thumb at various times during his career in the Senate. Most simply put, his maverick image was grounded on that notion that as a man of principle and truth, he could be relied upon to do the right thing; an abolsute mandate in military actions, but apparently not so important for McCain in the political setting.

During the last week, the McCain campaign has unabashedly engaged in the active spreading of mistruths and falsehoods. An article in today's New York Times summarizes the last week's activity in this regard.

"It said that Barack Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for children in kindergarten (“dishonest” and “deceptive” said The Washington Post); that Mr. Obama used the colloquial expression “lipstick on a pig” to describe Sarah Palin (G.O.P. Senator Orrin Hatch labeled the charge “ridiculous”); that Ms. Palin never accepted earmarks as governor of Alaska; (this is patently false, she actually requested $450 million in earmarks as governor); that Mr. Obama will raise taxes on middle-class families (his plan would actually give a tax cut to 80 percent of Americans); that his health care plan will force families into a government-run health care plan; (a public health expert quoted in this paper called that “inaccurate and false”); that Ms. Palin told Congress “thanks, but no thanks” on the Bridge to Nowhere (she initially supported the bridge and kept the Congressional funds earmarked for the project); that Ms. Palin visited Ireland and Iraq (her airplane refueled in the former and never crossed the border into the latter). Now there are even reports that the McCain campaign fabricated crowd estimates for a recent rally in Virginia."

That's one week's work, friends, and how much more do we have to endure to understand that McCain is an ordinary politician who will do or say anything, including selling his soul, to win office?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Why Can't You See It My Way?

To say that this is an interesting time for Americans would be a gross understatement. The most interesting of all of the various thoughts that occupy our attention is the presidential race and the divisiveness that the race is causing among our society. I regularly play golf at two different clubs; one in Lakewood Ranch, Florida during the winter season and the other in Mt.Clemens, Michigan during the remainder of the year. The average golfer at both places could adequately be described as affluent, white (mostly), smart, well-informed and mainly of Republican bent. I have other friends outside of golfing buddies who share this same basic profile. Where I differ right now with most of these guys is in the area of preferred presidential candidate. I prefer Obama for several reasons. The most important reason which clearly overrides all others is that this country needs a change of direction away from the last eight years during which the moral underpinnings of our 'life stuff' (as embodied in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution) has been damaged badly. The strength of our nation has been, and should be, the fundamental rule of law as a guiding force. Most simply put, we are a nation of laws, not men. The rule of law established by the Constitution recognizes three separate, but equal branches of government. In this balanced arrangement, Congress is charged with the responsibility of making laws and the executive branch with the responsibility of carrying out the execution of these laws. If there is a question about the wisdom of the applicability of these laws, the judicial system is the referee. The past eight years our current president (He Who Shall Not Be Named) has issued 'signing statements' on all of the important legislation passed by Congress indicating quite often that he would not honor or interpret the law as passed with the same intent of Congress. In other words, the current presidency is operating on the government model as a nation of men, not law. Once that gap is breached, the dam spews forth and we have an emerging semi-monarchial spin or neo-fascist on our government which has resulted in our current state of affairs. Example, there are already well established regulatory controls over most of what has gone wrong in the country and the present executive branch, because of its opinion that governmental regulatory control is wrong, has simply ignored the laws and allowed the various economic interests to run amok in an unsupervised setting. That said, the first order of business of a new administration is to restore the order of law; a promise made by Obama, but one not seemingly even understood or recognized by McCain. Most certainly he has not mentioned anything about this during his campaign. Until the past few days, during his entire political career he has espoused the current anti-regulatory approach which has led to the current crises. Only two days ago he switched and rotated 180 degrees and now talks, populist-style, about the need to take control. Hello!

Now Let me get back to my golfing buddies. The first and most frequent lament I hear is that they are conservative and Democrats like to tax and spend, so therefore they will vote Republican. I keep my mouth shut when I hear this because I find it difficult to understand how a bright person could make such a statement when the current Republican administration has spent money like a drunken sailor and has taken a 4.5 billion dollar surplus (under the aegis of a Democratic president eight years ago) and run our nation deep into debt. In my mind, the equivalent acts at a personal level would be to have charged a credit card for every expenditure for the past eight years with no ability or intent to repay the ongoing and increasing debt. No credit card company would tolerate such misconduct in a private individual for as long as 60 days and the voting population should not tolerate such an approach in our president. Stated more generally, the 'conservative' thing is a myth and a hoax perpetrated on the public and well meaning people by leaders who know if they get their hands on the purse strings, they can protect the financial interests of the people who put them in office at the expense of doing what is right and correct. (A government of, by and FOR the peo-ple).

The second lament that I hear, and it does make me cringe, is that Obama is black. I don't think I need to go into specifics about how wrongheaded this is, except to say that most people I know do not have the intellectual capacity (and I am including myself among them) to have graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Law School while running the Harvard Law Review unless they have some legitimate brain power and intellect. This qualification doesn't make someone an elitist. It makes them smart enough to run a country, color or no color.

Why can't you see it my way?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rantings and Oil

Drill Baby Drill, the Republican mantra is based on a false promise that to drill on the Alaskan slope or in the Gulf closely adjacent to states that are concerned about environmental impacts will bring some immediate relief to four dollar plus per gallon gas prices. Rabid environmentalists, on the other hand (are they all Democrats? I don't know the answer to that question) object on the basis of despoiling the environment, rendering polar bears extinct or increasing the likelihood of oil spills washing up on the shores of Florida beaches ruining the tourism industry. We are told by various estimates that the impact of drilling immediately will take fifteen to twenty years to have its consequences felt. Various estimates as to the usefulness of using our domestic sources run from eventually supplying three percent of the country's needs to twenty percent.

I would like to take a step back and state the obvious with respect to the long term use of oil. Even if we project our estimates out to the year 2050 that date is still short sighted. My point is that it is abundantly obvious that at some point in time, not far away in terms of the history of the world, the oil supply will end. It might be 2060, 2075 or 2110. It doesn't matter but that at some point in time, during the lives of our grandchildren or great, great grandchildren (how long it takes really doesn't matter), life on this planet will be no longer be able to function in a oil-based manner. The current thinking on the part of all politicians in this regard is akin to how we have come to this difficult point in time of our current disastrous economic situation. Citizens and government like have managed fiscal affairs for a long time on a pay as you go basis and if you run short, borrow. Deficit financing has become the norm for governments at all levels; local, state and federal, i..e., the exact thinking equivalent that is being currently applied to oil. since the Savings and Loans Associations scandal of the 1980s where one of our current presidential candidates (ahem, he shall remain nameless) was issued a reprimand by his fellow members in Congress, through the tech bubble, the housing bubble and the irrresponsible lending practices of our financial empire we have experienced a profound short sightedness in all issues vitally important to the strength and continued vitality of our form of government.

A highly respected friend of mine has responded to several of my blogs in an agreeable manner pointing out that he is a conservative. (I have a tendency to agree with 'liberals' on any number of issues which has caused one other reader of my blogs to request that I remove his name from my mailing list because I was sounding like Keith Olbermann, a characterization for which I take great umbrage, but that is another story). My conservative friend has on several occasions agreed with me much to my delight. My point in bringing this up is that I find myself very curious about the meaning of conservatism and what is meant what someone says that she/he is a conservative. Does not the root word mean 'to conserve?' If the intent of a conservative is to conserve the form of government our forefathers intended in the late seventeen hundreds, why don't we go back to slavery and take away the right of women to participate in our governmental processes? Neo conservatives, as I understand it, would like us to go as far back as 1938 before the time that our Supreme Court started interpreting the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution in such a manner that allowed Congress to pass laws affecting matters of economic interest. The proponents of such thought, led by Clarence Thomas and Antonio Scalia of the Supreme Court believe it is appropriate for judges to only divine the intent of the framers in deciding issues. Any judge who does not do so it deemed an activist judge, unless, of course, a decision is rendered in an activist manner in favor of the Republican faithful.

But, I digress. The issue is how long do we wait before someone truly recognizes that no matter how long it takes for oil to run out that we need to prepare for that eventuality? I would argue that the time is now, not later, and that a major government effort must be undertaken if our country is going to survive. Yes, I said survive. This is not a Steven King doomsday scenario, although if we run out of oil without having made adequate alternative preparations, it will certainly resemble one. Is this liberal thinking or conservative? I don't know and I don't think it makes a difference. I do know that in the year 2040 it appears likely that people will not be able to move around our great country in the manner we do today unless we develop some long term sustainable energy plan that allows us to do so.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why Lie About It? We Are Not Morons

I am going to buy a pair of flip flops and attach them to my car so that as I drive around, everyone can see what a real set of flip flops is like and compare them to Palin's position on earmarks. For obvious reasons, McCain has taken a page out of the Rovian handbook by exclaiming constantly and fervently that Palin is against earmarks. She says as much deriding the "Bridge to Nowhere" as the central theme to her campaign to convince voters that she is one of them. The irony of this position, based on selling the lie, is that she doesn't need to lie about it. McCain didn't need to lie about it. This year, Palin, who has been governor for nearly 22 months, defended earmarking as a vital part of the legislative system. "The federal budget, in its various manifestations, is incredibly important to us, and congressional earmarks are one aspect of this relationship," she wrote in a newspaper column. The LA Times documented with particularity Palin's earmarking history. Here it is:

"In 2001, McCain's list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town -- one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion.

"McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin's tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

"Wasilla received $11.9 million in earmarks from 2000 to 2003. The results of this spending are very apparent today. (The town also benefited from $15 million in federal funds to promote regional rail transportation.)

"The community transit center is a landmark: a one-story, tile-fronted building with a drive-through garage. Its fleet of 10 buses provides service throughout the region. Mat-Su Community Transit Agency officials say the building was made possible with a combination of federal money and matching gifts from a private foundation.

"Taylor Griffin, a McCain campaign spokesman, said that when Palin became mayor in 1996, "she faced a system that was broken. Small towns like Wasilla in Alaska depended on earmarks to take care of basic needs. . . . That was something that Gov. Palin was alarmed about and was one of the formative experiences that led her toward the reform-oriented stance that she has taken as her career has progressed."

"Palin, he said, was "disgusted" that small towns like hers were dependent on earmarks.

"Public records paint a different picture:

"Wasilla had received few if any earmarks before Palin became mayor. She actively sought federal funds -- a campaign that began to pay off only after she hired a lobbyist with close ties to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who long controlled federal spending as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He made funneling money to Alaska his hallmark.

"Steven Silver was a former chief of staff for Stevens. After he was hired, Wasilla obtained funding for several projects in 2002, including an additional $600,000 in transportation funding.

"That year, a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, which combs federal spending measures to identify projects inserted by congressional members.

"When Palin spoke after McCain introduced her as his running mate at a rally in Ohio last week, she made fun of earmarking. She said she had rejected $223 million in federal funds for a bridge linking Ketchikan to an island with an airport and 50 residents, referring to it by its derogatory label: the "bridge to nowhere."

"In the nationally televised speech, she stood by McCain and said, "I've championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves."

"However, as a candidate for governor in 2006, Palin had backed funding for the bridge. After her election, she killed the much-ridiculed project when it became clear the state had other priorities. She said she would use the federal funds to fill those needs.

"This year she submitted to Congress a list of Alaska projects worth $197.8 million, including $2 million to research crab productivity in the Bering Sea and $7.4 million to improve runway lighting at eight Alaska airports. A spokesman said she cut the original list of 54 projects to 31.

"So while Sen. McCain was going after cutting earmarks in Washington," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, "Gov. Palin was going after getting earmarks.""

Appearing yesterday morning on the popular TV show, The View, McCain said categorically that Palin was always against earmarks. Later, a spokesman for him corrected the Senator. This is a variation of the bait and switch routine used by con artists. Say something wrong deliberately about a big issue to give people the wrong idea while the crowd is large and the cameras are running and then later use a minion to correct the statement in a manner that few will hear about.

Reading and thinking about the above, one can only reach one conclusion. It is idiotic for Palin to lie about her position on earmarks. It is wrong for McCain to lie about her position on earmarks. The fact is that she took advantage of Ted Steven's power to bring in large amounts of federal funds to her city and her state which would be both remarkable and commendable if only the Republican ticket decided not to lie about it, but both candidates are treating the public as stupid idiots in order to sell the campaign as one of change. They must think we are morons. This is the Achilles' heel of the ticket.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Passing Fancy

I have written in the past several days about my opinion as to how Sarah Palin will stand up to media scrutiny. She will. There are, however, other tests for demonstrating that someone is fit to run the country (Yes, the VP is only a heart beat away from the presidency, particularly if the prez is 72 years old with a history of recurrent melanoma). I have now watched the Gibson interview of Palin. Other than not obviously understanding the meaning of the 'Bush Doctrine', she did rather well in a rote, sort of memorized, response kind of way. The significance of the Bush Doctrine, that notion (military attack on a nation whom the spinmeisters make up stuff to support the basis for the attack) lies at the very heart of the need for change in the way our government conducts its affairs. To underscore this deficiency in Palin's understanding, during a deployment ceremony for her son Track and thousands of other soldiers heading to Iraq, Palin told them they would be fighting “the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.” This comment reiterated the initial connections the Bush administration once made, but no longer does, between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks. It was necessary for a senior McCain campaign aide to correct her statement and point out that Palin did not believe Saddam Hussein played a role in the attacks. I would argue that a demonstration of a basic level of understanding about why our country is embroiled in Iraq is an absolutely essential requirement in order to claim, as she does, that she is ready and fit to assume the mantle of the U.S. presidency. Fit maybe, but certainly not ready if the major campaign mantra is about change. If one is about change, one needs to know first what needs to be changed. To throw my two cents in on the current Republican manufactured offense at Obama's stealing of McCain's oft-used line about putting lipstick on a pig, I would add that calling a pig a dog doesn't make it a dog. If we don't hear about the change that McCain/Palin plan for the good of the country, all this hoopla about Palin will soon render her a passing fancy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now We Have To Wait

Now we have to wait. A woman by the name of Sarah Palin has literally rocked the political world in the last two weeks going from virtual anonymity to an awareness factor of greater than 90%. She joins Prince and Cher as easily identifiable by one name only as she has become an instant celebrity, a bad word in Republican politics until two weeks ago.. Say "Sarah" and everyone knows exactly who you are talking about. According to the most recent polls there has been a substantial movement toward the McCain ticket because off "Sarah" by women her age and younger. The lead of the Obama Biden ticket has evaporated due to the ground swell of fascination with this woman. So what are we waiting for? Both sides are waiting for her to fall. The Republicans hope to shield her as much as is practicable from the relentless prying eyes of the press so that she can avoid a major gaffe or two that will allow the Democrats to pounce on her as a demonstration of her inadequacy for the position of VP. the Democrats, of course, are waiting for those gaffes.

My prediction: It ain't going to happen. It's not going to happen for several reasons; First, "Sarah" is a terribly bright person and, teleprompter or not, she is capable of making a world class delivery of the "message" that has been scripted for her. Second, when and if she makes a bone-headed statement, she will be immediately excused by her fans (that what celebrities have is adoring fans long on forgiveness and short on forgetting) who will take offense at the media for attacking the poor dear. Note well that her first venture into the media interview arena is later this week by Charles Gibson, ABC's telejournalist. But the arrangements that have been made are set up on Sarah's own turf, in Alaska, with two days of ABC cameras following her around to capture the essence of her life. Gibson, if he follows form, will subject himself to the same restrictions that the Republicans want to impose on the Democrats. That ground rule appears to take the following form; You cannot criticise Sarah. Even though she can raise a topic by issuing a press release, it is inappropriate to follow up on the information that is released. As an example, consider the furor over her pregnant teenage daughter. Who brought this issue to the attention of the public? She blames Democrats because that is the Republican style and Republicans certainly know how to run a campaign.

All in all, one can only hope from either the Democratic or Republican perspective that the campaign settles into a meaty discussion regarding the issues and how each presidential candidate proposes dealing with these issues. It would certainly not be in the best interests of the people of America to decide who the next President of the United States will be on the basis of an American Idol-like popularity contest.

Finally, the Anchorage Daily News suggests a series of questions that Gibson ought to ask Sarah that pertain to her Alaskan provenance. One of these is " In spring of 2004, the Daily News reported that you cited family considerations in deciding not to try for the U.S. Senate: "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. senator?" What was different this time as you decided to run for vice president?" In speaking with several different women across the spectrum of political belief, the one concern that seems to most common is the concern about how she can manage her role as mother with that of VP? It is apparently off limits for a man to register such a concern, but it certainly a real and important question for which the country deserves an answer particularly when the "hockey mom" herself raises the issue.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I watched the Sunday Talk shows yesterday. I watched and listened to George Stephenopolous ask some tough questions of Barack Obama in a contentious manner, often interrupting the candidate in the middle of responding to an earlier question. I also watched and listened to Bob Schieffer interview McCain and lob him softballs. No tough questions there. If I had Schieffer's job, I would want to know why McCain allowed Palin to describe Obama's policy on terrorism as "He wants to read them their rights" much to the delight of the Republican crowd. Do Republicans, led by McCain, endorse waterboarding, the activities at Abu Ghraib, rendition, Guantanamo and the rest? The evening following Palin's statements McCain made great political hay, so to speak, by describing the torture he experienced at the hands of the North Vietnamese, a not a dry eye in the house-type moment. But what is the message here on a policy issue of manifest importance? A prime time TV interview less than four days after this apparent dichotomy in Republican policy certainly should have been explored. Another favorite Republican mantra is the liberalism of the mainstream media. Schieffer's failure to followup on this glaring and obvious differences between the two Republican candidates puts the lie to this claimed liberal bias. More importantly, the answer to the question lies at the heart of whether the politician McCain will continue to run the country in a manner inimical to the moral code upon which we were founded. The mixed message being given needs to be clairified.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Traffice Light is Red . . . and Blinking

Before I begin, I need to ask a question; Did any one notice that during the Republican convention that the name of He Who Would Be King was changed by apparent fiat to He Who Should Be Nameless? Sorry. Just had to throw that in. Now back to work.

During the course of my career the best way I could think of to describe to jurors about how standards were violated was to use the analogy of running a red traffic light while driving. Juries would hear my standard spiel about drug companies and physicians running red lights and causing harm to others. But, in order to violate a red light, one has to first recognize its existence. In that context, there was a moment during McCain's acceptance speech that burned a flashing red light in my brain. It was the "We are all Georgians" statement. This proclamation stood out like a sore thumb, or, rather, a red light because to me it registered exactly like the statement of He Who Should Be Nameless during one of his early State of the Union addresses when he spoke of the axis of evil which, of course, included Iraq. Shortly thereafter, the country was hunkered down in a war against Iraq fostered by a series of clever manipulations and lies which, in my opinion, justifies the impeachment of the Nameless One. It is obvious, from McCain's statement, that he has something in mind with respect to Georgia that is akin to our Iraq experience. This man needs to be thoroughly vetted on this issue and he needs to tell the country exactly what he intends to do about the situation before he can be voted into our highest office. Does he intend to repeat the failure of Iraq by flaming the fires of war with Russia? Just this week, the Nameless One has announced that we will give one billion dollars to Georgia. For what? It would be better given to our own State of Georgia to improve their roads and highways than to continue to feed the neo-cons desire to save the rest of the world from themselves. The red light is flashing. We can do something about it now. We can elect someone who does not have their finger on the trigger.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Lying Is Not Acceptable

"Has anyone noticed that Sarah Palin's central claim to political fame is a fraud? She represents herself as a fiscal conservative who abhors pork-barrel projects and said no thanks to the "Bridge to Nowhere" -- a $398 million span that would have linked Ketchikan, Alaska, to its airport across the Tongass Narrows. But as mayor of Wasilla (pop. 9,780), she hired a Washington lobbyist to bring home the bacon. And as a candidate for governor just two years ago, she supported both the Ketchikan bridge and the Congressional earmark that would have paid most of its cost." When the earmark money was received, as governor she accepted it but used it for purposes other than the bridge. The above question was asked by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, not exactly a flaming liberal media outlet. At this moment in time, my prediction is that the fraud will be the Achilles heel of her candidacy, which will carry over to McCain, as it should. For all the legitimate questions about Obama, including his lack of experience, one can say with 100% certainty that he has been fully vetted by his peers, the media and public opinion over the course of the last eighteen months. In the next 62 days leading up to the election, Palin must of necessity face the gauntlet and the answer to the question raised above has nowhere to go. It is one thing, expected, for a candidate to overstate qualifications, but it is quite another thing to lie about them. Palin has done both.

Change We Should Not Believe In

The change we need is the new mantra for McCain's campaign. So far he has failed to specify what, if any change, he would advocate separate and apart from the change Bush has wrought. Bush's main theme in 2000 was a claim for compassionate conservativeness, a nice sounding phrase which, it turns out, meant absolutely nothing. McCain seemed to get several things right as he wound his way through the primaries. He held promise as a green presidential candidate and it looked like a debate during the campaign proper would focus of the issue of how best to accomplish relief from our nation's oil addiction. All of that changed in a heart beat with his selection of Palin as his VP as the Republican party appears now to be committed to drilling in Alaska with the inferred promise that somehow the measly (in terms of percentage of oil necessary to provide independence from foreign oil sources) production out of Alaska will deal with the crisis. The result is that McCain who not only backs Bush policies 90% of the time has increased that percentage by becoming one of the big oil boys. I don't think that this is the kind of 'change' that the electorate has anticipated and , for one, I am sorely disappointed in McCain for taking this tack.

Monday, September 1, 2008

I Need Some Meat

Let's stick to the issues, cut through the crap and get to the red meat of the upcoming election. Consider the issue of experience, or the lack of it, first. It is contended by the Republicans that Obama's lack of experience is the reason he should not be elected. This lack of experience has to be placed in the proper perspective. Look at what the "experienced" politicians have done to the country. We are in a war on foreign soil because these experienced people lied to us and, as a result, we have lost our moral authority in the world and more than 90,000 Iraqi citizens have died, not to mention thousands of American soldiers. Our domestic policies have placed hundreds of thousands of American families in situations that have not been seen since the depression of the late 1920s. Their homes are being taken away via foreclosrue and their lack of health insurance means that the basics of decent health care are unavailable to them. Quite simply, experience is no indicator of success. I welcome what Sarah Palin can bring to the table in this campaign. At the very least, the issue of experience will, of necessity, be toned down and hopefully lead the way to reasoned discussions of where each team stands on the real issues of our times. There are real issues, and the positions of the two teams have real and legitimate differences. The challenge to McCain is to separate himself from the cloak of He who would Be King. Sometime in the last year I wrote that I would like to hear the candidates describe how they would handle the ever-burgeoning deficit created by the fact that the 10 billion dollars a month being spent on Iraq is literally being kept off the books by the Bush administration. How will the candidates deal with that? So far, no word from either of them and we have no inkling how that huge debt, which saddles each child in our country with a staggering amount of debt at the moment of birth, will be handled. McCain voted against Bush's permanent tax cuts. Now he has turned around and endorses this position. The problem is that he does not tell us why he has reversed his position. I would like to know why. I would also like to have assurances from the candidates that the taxing of our citizenry will be, at the very least, fair. Corporations are treated legally as citizens of the country. Citizens should pay the fair share of the country's tax burden, but many multibillion dollar international corporations unfairly pay little or no taxes by manipulation of accounting sheets and practices. The same with high end individuals who have been given devices and tactics unavailable to the little guy in return for campaign donations. I need the specifics as to how each candidate proposes to handle this critical concern. I need to know and understand why McCain wrote an immigration bill and now opposes that very same bill. There must be a reason byond simply pandering to the conservative base. Likewise, I need to know where Obama stands on this issue.

Bottom line; as long as the campaigns keep the focus on whether or not Obama is black or is wearing a flag lapel pin, or whether McCain cannot remember his seven houses, we miss the opportunity to seriously ponder one of the most exciting campaigns of our times. With the backdrop of a failed eight years, let's move on to the meat.