Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Swing and a Miss 

I would suspect that just about any high school senior running for student body president could handle him or herself in an interview better than Sarah Palin:
COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.
Is she purposely trying to sabotage the McCain campaign? This is hardly a "gotcha" line of questioning.

Even if she had never picked up a newspaper in her life, you would think she'd have the presence of mind to answer along these lines, "Well, Katie, in Alaska we're a long way from the major media centers, but I read the Anchorage Daily News, of course, and the Juneau Empire when I'm in the state capitol. I also try to keep up with the major national newspapers -- the New York Times, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, for example, on the internet. The job of being governor keeps me so busy that its hard to get the time to read as many magazines as I would like -- many times I have to just pick up what's available in the airport to read on a flight."

That a person running for Vice President can't even come up with a BS answer to a softball question like Couric's is pathetic and more than a little scary. Could it be that Palin has no idea of the names of any newspapers?

Exception for Contraception 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Jeffrey R. Lewis sees the signs that the Bush administration is preparing for another war -- this time against contraception:
The administration has proposed a new set of regulations that it says will protect doctors, nurses and health care workers who object to abortion from having to participate in providing care they find objectionable. The new conscience clause will require health care agencies and clinics to certify that they will not discriminate against individuals or organizations that refuse to offer — or even provide referrals to — family planning services that disagree on personal, moral and religious grounds.

If workers or organizations declare that the pill, intrauterine device (IUD) or emergency contraception are contrary to their beliefs, they can deliberately withhold both services and information from patients. The proposed regulation affects any hospital, clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy that receives federal funding, directly or indirectly, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[emphasis mine]
I would find this less objectionable if the health care provider was required to post those procedures and prescriptions that they would not provide or address.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Excuse Me for Thinking 

This is the attitude that creates a constituency for George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.

James Lileks:
My interest in these machines [steam engines] is mostly aesthetic, to sound all academic and/or high-falutin’ – it’s fascinating to learn how they work, but I’m drawn to the way they look and why, and what that said about the era.
So this is what it has come to. Any display of intellectual curiosity has to be apologized for lest one appear to be an elite intellectual.

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would have said about that?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Laugh of the Day 

Always good to end the work week with a smile on your face.

Peter Robinson in Forbes Magazine:
How is the outsider doing? Throughout the campaign, Sarah Palin has remained poised and articulate. As far as I am aware, she has committed not a single gaffe. Speaking with Charles Gibson of ABC during the first of the two major interviews she has so far given, she sometimes appeared tense. Even then, she made no mistakes. (Her much-discussed reply to Gibson when he asked if she agreed with the Bush doctrine--"In what respect, Charlie?"--proved perfectly legitimate. The Bush doctrine can be defined a half-dozen ways.) Speaking with Sean Hannity of Fox News six days later, in her second major interview, Palin proved completely at ease. In just under a week, she had mastered the interview format.[emphasis mine]
This guy is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and he thinks Palin is doing just fine with her interviews? And I thought it was the conservatives who complained about "ivory tower" mentality.

Killer Katie 

Having seen the Couric-Palin interview(s), I was a bit surprised at how well Couric handled the questioning.

James Fallows saw the same thing:
Couric deserves better ratings for the CBS news based on the steely relentlessness of her questions. Unlike Charlie Gibson, and unlike Joe Biden in a (possible!) future debate, she has no background complications of the older white man bullying the younger, attractive woman. She was a professional woman who has clearly earned her position grilling someone whose bona fides she cleared doubted.

And Couric displayed one brilliant technique I recommend to all future questioners. When Palin ducked a question about financial-bailout provisions, saying that "John McCain and I" had not yet reached a decision, Couric asked the deadly question: "So what are the pros and cons?" There is no way to fake your way around that. As Palin showed.

Tell Me More . . . 

Sadly No! traces the disillusion of Palin cheerleader Kathleen Parker.

Sarah Palin 


And Yikes! again.

In the words of Tim Calhoun, "I have little experience in a courtroom, but I did once work in a food court."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Has McCain Jumped the Shark? 

James Fallows:
Now, maybe I am misjudging my fellow citizens. Maybe most people will say: Yes, it's perfectly understandable that John McCain, having traveled constantly for years on the campaign trail, suddenly can't make it down to Mississippi on Friday. We respect him all the more! But I don't think this is some mass-vs-elite type question. This involves basic "dog ate my homework" appearances that anyone can understand.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Debate or not Debate 

Backing out of the debate a little over 48 hours before it's scheduled to begin? Another example of McCain's impulsive instincts.

Moreover, he has time for a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative, but not to communicate with the American people?

No, McCain's afraid of getting clobbered while his poll numbers are already heading south.

Unless the real reason is to get Palin off the hook.

Military Values 

"[O]ne could make a fairly solid historical case for the assertion that the first real commander of the 7th Cavalry, Major General George Armstrong Custer, was one of the last real "warriors" in the United States Army."
Robert Bateman, an officer in the 7th Cavalry, on why we should stop using the word "warrior" to describe our soldiers.

A commenter to Bateman's post illustrates the troublesome nature of this confusion by juxtaposing the old an new version of the "Soldier's Creed":
OLD SOLDIERS CREED (pre-Nov. 2003):

I am an American Soldier.
I am a member of the United States Army -- a protector of the greatest nation on earth.
Because I am proud of the uniform I wear, I will always act in ways creditable to the military service and the nation it is sworn to guard.
I am proud of my own organization. I will do all I can to make it the finest unit in the Army.
I will be loyal to those under whom I serve. I will do my full part to carry out orders and instructions given to me or my unit.
As a soldier, I realize that I am a member of a time-honored profession--that I am doing my share to keep alive the principles of freedom for which my country stands.
No matter what the situation I am in, I will never do anything, for pleasure, profit, or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform, my unit, or my country.
I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my Army comrades from actions disgraceful to themselves and to the uniform.
I am proud of my country and its flag.
I will try to make the people of this nation proud of the service I represent, for I am an American Soldier.


I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

It's not the Crime; it's the Cover-up 

Troopergate - an Alaskan attorney examines the bumbling legal cover-up.

The Devil's in the Detail 

Exactly who gets bailed out?

I thought the idea was to prevent the collapse of corporations that hold a critical position within their industry and the American economy.

Now, I wonder whether this might be a sweetheart deal for, in the words of a Bush administration spokesman, "successful banks and investment companies."

Let's not rush this until we're sure.

Five-Step Program 

Eric Muller's five stages of reaction to the Palin nomination:
1. Astonishment.
2. Perverse joy.
3. Disbelief.
4. Anger.
5. Abject terror.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More of the Same 

John McCain:
Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Trivial but curious:
HANNITY: One last question that I didn't ask you: Did you watch Tina Fey on "Saturday Night Live"?

PALIN: I watched with the volume all the way down and I thought it was hilarious, she was spot on.

HANNITY: Do you think you could play her one day?

PALIN: Oh absolutely. It was hilarious. Again, I didn't hear a word she said, but the visual was spot on.

She is watching Saturday Night Live and the skit is about her, so she watches it without any sound?

Who would do that?
HANNITY: Has anyone ever said that before? There's a similarity...

PALIN: They've been saying that for years up in Alaska. In fact, I dressed up as Tina Fey once for Halloween. We've been doing that before Tina Fey's being doing that.
How do you dress up like Tina Fey?

Perfectly Clear 

Sarah Palin, in response to a town hall meeting question about her specific foreign policy skills:
"Well, I think because I am a Washington outsider that opponents are going to be looking for a whole lot of things that they can criticize and they can kind of beat the candidate here who chose me as his partner to kinda tear down the ticket. . . But as for foreign policy, you know I think that I am prepared, and I know that on January 20th if we are so blessed as to be sworn into office as your president and vice president, certainly we'll be ready. I'll be ready. I have that confidence. I have that readiness and if you want specifics with specific policy or countries, go ahead. You can ask me. You can play stump the candidate if you want to. But we are ready to serve."
OK, I am now greatly reassured.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bizarro World 

This is absolutely pathetic.

Apparently McCain thinks we are all loco.

It's not the Internet, but . . . 

John McCain helped create the Blackberry

OK, but isn't the Blackberry the product of a Canadian company?

Tina Fey is Sexist 

McCain advisor Carly Fiorina on the SNL skit:
"[T]he portrait [on "SNL"] was very dismissive of the substance of Sarah Palin, and so, in that sense, they were defining Hillary Clinton as very substantive and Sarah Palin as totally superficial," Fiorina argued. "I think that continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme and yes, I would say, sexist, in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance."
I'm not sure how you get sexist out of the skit, but to the McCain campaign that doesn't matter -- just throw out the codewords, that's the point.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just the Facts, Ma'am 

Fifty-two fact checks on McCain claims.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Second Verse, Same as the First! 

Sounds like McCain-Palin are ready to pick up where Bush-Cheney left off:
Gov. Sarah Palin is being asked by a local Republican activist to release more than 1,100 e-mails she withheld from a public records request, including 40 that were copied to her husband, Todd.

Palin had claimed executive privilege for documents copied to her husband, who is not a state employee, in responding to an open records request in June made by Andrée McLeod, an activist in Anchorage. The administrative appeal filed yesterday by McLeod's attorney, Donald C. Mitchell, argued that by copying Todd Palin on sensitive state correspondence, the governor and her aides shattered the privilege rightly afforded elected officials.
And does this sound familiar?
Palin also routinely does government business from a Yahoo address, gov.sarah@yahoo.com, rather than her secure official state e-mail address, according to documents already made public.

In a Nutshell 

Understanding the McCain-Palin campaign:
"The overall strategy seems to be to run around and tell everybody that everybody is offended, and get them to believe it before they quite realize what they're offended about."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Abused Media Syndrome 

James Fallows wonders why the press is treating Sarah Palin in a different manner than they treated Hillary Clinton:
Twice in the last six months we've had the spectacle of a candidate clinging to a provably false personal narrative. Each tale was meant to show something admirable and significant about the candidate's character. But in each case the press had the goods to show that the tale was too tall to be believed.

One, of course, was Hillary Clinton's "hail of bullets" account of her arrival at the airport in Bosnia.

The other is Sarah Palin's "thanks but no thanks" claim to have opposed funding for the "bridge to nowhere."

In Senator Clinton's case, the more often she repeated the story, the more relentlessly the press said the story was not true. All parts of the press did this: right, left, middle. They didn't say that there was a "controversy" about her story. They said it was false. And eventually she bowed to the inevitable and stopped telling the story any more.

In Governor Palin's case, the more often she has repeated the story, the more abashed the press has seemed about pointing out its falsity. The accurate version would be more like: "I said 'Yes, please!' until the Congress said 'Sorry, no.'" As best I can tell (from my distance in China), the right-wing press has played no part in this truth-squadding. The mainstream press has seemed to treat it as a "controversy" rather than a falsehood. And there is no evidence of Palin hesitating to use the story again and again.

There can't be any difference in gender or race bias in treatment of these two cases: they both both involve successful, married white female politicians. There is no essential difference in the falseness of their claims, though there was a greater comic potential in the film footage of Sen. Clinton's "harrowing" arrival. The major remaining difference is that one case involves a Democrat (though the more conservative of the primary-campaign finalists) and one a Republican.
It seems the press is like an abused spouse: "Maybe if I'm just nicer to him, he'll stop hitting me."

A Prisoner Once Again 

Of Rove and his henchmen.

Andrew Sullivan:
For me, this surreal moment - like the entire surrealism of the past ten days - is not really about Sarah Palin or Barack Obama or pigs or fish or lipstick. It's about John McCain. The one thing I always thought I knew about him is that he is a decent and honest person. When he knows, as every sane person must, that Obama did not in any conceivable sense mean that Sarah Palin is a pig, what did he do? Did he come out and say so and end this charade? Or did he acquiesce in and thereby enable the mindless Rovianism that is now the core feature of his campaign?
This time of his own choosing

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's All Relative 

Over a Peer Review, Mr. G provides Democrats with some solace should McCain win:
And lets be honest, from a democrat point of view, there could be much worse options than John McCain. Certainly, if you can handle 8 years of W, you can handle just 4 of McCain.

Everyday People 

The McCain campaign strives to portray Barak and Michelle Obama as an elitists -- a couple who are out of touch with the average person.

And yet I doubt that Michelle's convention attire reached the level of Cindy McCain's haute coture:
Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000
Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500
Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000
Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000
Shoes, designer unknown: $600
Grand total of nearly $300,000.

Or, to put it in terms ordinary people can relate to, almost seven years of earnings for the average Florida household.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Dilemma 

I received the following email from a community college instructor:
Let me tell you how angry I got listening to McCain's empty promises, especially when he said community colleges should help solve the employment problems in our country. With the severe budget cuts to community colleges in Florida during the past few years thanks to Republicans, I'd like to know how we are going to do MORE to help train people for jobs.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Night on the Town 

Florida Congressman John Mica (R) apparently was not happy about being caught leaving a party hosted by Tom DeLay:

Via FlaBlog


You knew it was coming:
Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Model to Follow 

James Fallows: Sarah Palin's nomination is more analogous to that of Clarence Thomas rather than to Dan Quayle's.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Works Every Time 

From a McCain spokesperson:
Sen. McCain believes the correct policy for educating young children on this subject is to promote abstinence as the only safe and responsible alternative. To do otherwise is to send a mixed signal to children that, on the one hand they should not be sexually active, but on the other here is the way to go about it. As any parent knows, ambiguity and equivocation leads to problems when it comes to teaching children right from wrong.

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