September 2nd, 2008

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The High Road!

I thank Joan for the wonderful icon she created!!   McCain is TOAST!!  

Here is Bob Herbert on the Democrats.  To me, it is clear that they are taking the high road, and the outcome of this election is becoming more clear even as we all hold off on the celebration that will erupt on November 4th.

Op-Ed Columnist

Head for the High Road

Published: September 1, 2008

The Democrats need to be careful about the intensity of their criticism of Sarah Palin.

She may look like an easy target, an appalling lightweight who will send serious voters scurrying to the more substantive Obama-Biden ticket. And the temptation to get on her case probably became greater with Ms. Palin’s disclosure Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

But the Democrats should not push this stuff too far. Ms. Palin is a lot more appealing personally than the often testy guy at the top of her ticket. And the inescapable reality is that there are millions of voters who identify with her, and may be quick to resent attacks that they perceive as bullying or overkill.

Here’s the deal: Palin is the latest G.O.P. distraction. She’s meant to shift attention away from the real issue of this campaign — the awful state of the nation after eight years of Republican rule. The Republicans are brilliant at distractions. Willie Horton was a distraction. The chatter about gays, guns and God has been a long-running distraction. And we all remember the Swift-boat campaign.

If you want a real issue, forget all of the above and revisit Monday’s front page of The New York Times. Hundreds of families are being forced out of their homes each month in Louisville, Ky., because of mortgage foreclosures. With record numbers of poor and homeless students, the public schools are struggling.

The crisis has only been made worse by fiscal difficulties facing the schools. Higher energy and other costs, combined with a $43 million cut in state aid, have left the school system in a sorry state.

The reason this should be high on the presidential campaign agendas is that the problems in Louisville are widespread. As Sam Dillon of The Times reported: “As 50 million children return to classes across the nation, crippling increases in the price of fuel and food, coupled with the economic downturn, have left schools from California to Florida to Maine cutting costs.”

Even as these districts are cutting back, wrote Mr. Dillon, “the number of poor and homeless children is rising.”

That is the kind of substantive issue the Democrats should be focused on: how to educate America’s children and improve the quality of their lives; how to bring health care to those going without; how to put America back to work.

To their credit, Senators Obama and Biden seem unwilling to jump aboard the bash-Ms.-Palin bandwagon. Both have been exceedingly mild in their comments about the Alaska governor.

Last week’s Democratic convention dramatically illustrated the most effective approach available to the party. The convention built in intensity night by night with featured speakers who focused powerfully on substantive matters.

Bill Clinton may be wildly unpredictable, but last Wednesday he was magnificent, laying out the challenges that will face the next administration.


“Our nation is in trouble on two fronts. The American dream is under siege at home, and America’s leadership in the world has been weakened. Middle-class and low-income Americans are hurting — with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a very big spike in the cost of food, utilities and gasoline.

“And our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation, by a perilous dependence on imported oil, by a refusal to lead on global warming, by a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders, by a severely burdened military, by a backsliding on global nonproliferation and arms control agreements, and by a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe.”

Respectful criticism of Sarah Palin is fine. But the great issues of this campaign loom like giant redwoods over the pathetic weeds of politics as usual and the myriad distractions that have turned one presidential election after another into a national embarrassment.

Seventy-two years ago, in his renomination acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia (before more than 100,000 people gathered in Franklin Field), Franklin D. Roosevelt rose above the boiler-plate rhetoric of political speeches and spoke of his generation’s “rendezvous with destiny.”

He warned of the perils to the nation of economic inequality. “Liberty,” he said, “requires opportunity to make a living, a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.”

Roosevelt’s words echo across the decades because they resonate with the very meaning of America, a meaning that is so much deeper than what our politics have become. “We are fighting,” he told his audience, “to save a great and precious form of government, for ourselves and for the world.”

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Jon Carroll

Jon Carroll:

You may have missed this story. I almost missed it myself, but it so enraged me that I poked around to see if it could be true. It is. Argh.

Happened last week. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, said that the Democratic vice presidential nominee better not try to take Communion at a Catholic church in Denver, where he was accepting his party's nomination. The Democratic Party platform strongly supports a woman's right to choose, as does Biden himself, although he is said to be personally against abortion.

"I certainly presume his goodwill and integrity," said the archbishop, "and I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for Communion if he supports a false 'right' to abortion."

The day before the archbishop made that statement, Biden had "presented himself" at his parish church in Wilmington, Del., and taken Communion without any difficulties - just as he has done most Sundays for more than 20 years. Millions of Catholics who disagree with one or more of the church's teachings also take Communion, which is a reaffirmation of their faith and their bond with God.

Chaput's remarks were not, sad to say, unprecedented. But the timing of them with the convention was plainly grandstanding. He had to inject his church - which, of course, gets numerous tax benefits for being holy - into national politics by reminding Catholics that Joe Biden is, or should be, anathema to all true believers. And why did he do that? Because he could.

Despite my name - John Carroll was the first bishop of the United States, and there are all sorts of Catholic John Carrolls running around - I was not raised a Catholic and am not one now. I believe in good old religious tolerance, however, and am no particular fan of the best-selling militant atheism that has taken certain segments of the country by storm recently - people, I assume, who feel lonely because they are not leading Purpose-Driven Lives and will soon be Left Behind. Joke.

I believe that religion can be and in many cases is a force for good in the community. But along with religion you get hierarchy (except for, say, the Quakers), and hierarchy means priests and mullahs and cardinals and swamis and who knows what all. Of course they are going to tell people what to think; that is their job.

The question is: What happens when the follower does not think what the boss holy man wants him to think? And the more elaborate the hierarchy, the stronger the inclination of the leaders to invent thought crimes and then enforce sanctions against them. And a few turns of the wheel and a couple of bad decisions, and hello, here's the Spanish Inquisition.

It is worst for the fervent believer. For someone who really does find a spiritual link to the ineffable through an organized religion - through, say, the Catholic Church - then the denial of a sacred ritual is like a blow to the heart. It is not something that should be done lightly or with an eye toward headlines. And yet, here we have this Chaput guy singling out one person who happens to be, oh yes, a Democratic politician running for national office.

It is hard to be a Roman Catholic in America today. The church is run by a man who lives half a world away who was, in earlier times, a member of Hitler Youth. Kind of hard to take someone like that seriously as the Supreme Moral Authority. And yet, somehow, it works out, and the church moves along, doing the tasks of the Lord, or a lord, or of a very nice person.

The church-and-state thing is tricky. What with the power of the evangelical right in the previous election, with many preachers supporting one candidate from the pulpit, the line just got blurrier. There is some thinking in the land that there ought not to be a line at all. I know a lot of people who are scared of Christians now, and I know that there are a lot of Christians who have been told to be afraid of non-believers.

All of that is one thing. But Joe Biden is a man of faith; he was raised in an Irish Catholic family and he never left the church. In matters of public policy rather than faith, however, he has chosen to go his own way - as indeed have the majority of American Catholics. To threaten a man's faith because of how he votes is medieval; it's disgusting. I really hope it never, ever comes up again.


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Numbers -

The population of
Alaska is around 685,000.  The population of Chicago alone is 9.7 million.

Who has experience with governing a large number of people?

A senator from Illinois or the governor of Alaska?

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(no subject)

This was a comment on ginahelen's blog.  I couldn't resist borrowing it. 

I keep wondering why they won't say who the father is.  Hmmm!

Commentary I saw on another LJ community

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Pork -

Why does Alaska get more pork per person than any other state?

Palin's pork requests confound reformer image

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


(09-02) 15:03 PDT ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) --

John McCain touts Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a force in the his battle against earmarks and entrenched power brokers, but under her leadership the state this year asked for almost $300 per person in requests for pet projects from one of McCain's top adversaries: indicted Sen. Ted Stevens.

That's more than any other state received, per person, from Congress for the current budget year, and runs counter to the reformer image that Palin and the McCain campaign are pushing. Other states got just $34 worth of local projects per person this year, on average, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington-based watchdog group.

Palin actually reduced the state government's requests for special projects this year to 31 earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 person, in the wake of President Bush's demand for a cutback in earmarks.

The state government's earmark requests to Congress in her first year in office exceeded $550 million, more than $800 per resident. But there's only so much Palin could do with state bureaucrats used to a free-flowing spigot of federal dollars from Washington.

"I have championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress," Palin said in her vice presidential campaign trail debut last week.

Palin's current request to Stevens, "would still put Alaska No. 1," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks closely.

The McCain campaign said Tuesday that Palin realized that Alaska was too reliant on earmarks and ordered state officials to cut back on their requests. It also said Obama requested nearly $1 billion in earmarks over three years for Illinois — a state with nearly 20 times the population of Alaska.

"We cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks," Palin told state legislators in January.

Budget watchdogs allied with McCain have annually railed against Stevens, Alaska's senior senator, and his state's addiction to earmarks, those locally popular pet projects added to the federal budget by senators and House members. McCain and Stevens are not friends, and the two men have openly clashed on the Senate floor over earmarks.

In addition Palin's requests on behalf of the state government this year, 124 public and private entities in Alaska have asked Stevens for earmarks this year.

In her earlier political career as mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a private lobbyist to help the tiny town secure earmarks from Stevens, entering Washington's "pay to play" culture in which lobbyists, campaign contributions and lawmakers are intertwined.

The town obtained 14 earmarks, totaling $27 million between 2000-2003, according to data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, another watchdog group.

Federal lobbying records show that Wasilla hired the firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh in 2000 to arrange "funding of city projects." The signature on the registration form is that of Steven W. Silver, a former top aide to Stevens, who chaired the Senate Appropriations Committee on and off between 1997 and 2005.

The firm initially was paid $24,000 a year, an amount that increased to $36,000 in 2001. The firm has continued to work for the town government since Palin left as mayor in 2002. Silver gave $2,000 to Stevens' Northern Lights political action committee in 1999, according to federal records.

Stevens was indicted in July for failing to disclose $250,000 in gifts from VECO Corp., an Alaskan oil services company.

At the same time, Palin's campaign trail braggadocio last week that she told Washington "'thanks but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere" didn't tell the whole story.

In fact, Palin was for the infamous $398 million bridge — to connect the town of Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport on it — before she was against it, speaking in favor of it during her 2006 race for governor.

Alaska has become so accustomed to largess flowing from Congress through Stevens that most of Palin's earmark requests this year — such as studies of Alaskan fisheries, grants to combat drug trafficking, and rural airport upgrades — simply keep ongoing programs going. Among her requests was $150,000 to pay the travel bills of state and fisheries industry representatives on the boards that implement North Pacific fisheries agreements.

"They've definitely become addicted to earmarks," said Ellis, of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "And Gov. Palin has continued in at least some form that addiction."

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another must - read -

The book Crossing the Rubicon, The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil arrived on Friday and I am slowly making my way through it.  It is by Michael C. Ruppert, an admirable soul.

This book is brutal as to what is going on, has gone on, as to the corruption, and we knew it and learned it during Iran-Contra and then sort of forgot.

Pick it up.  Read ten pages a day.  Weep.  Admire those who expose, those who speak.

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Navigation -

Many of us have succumbed to GPS navigational systems as a way to augment looking for moss on trees, but now, there is a new aid, if you are in the country that is.

Cows align themselves in a north-south direction, well, overall, percentage wise, north-south, so if you are in need of a compass needle, note which way the cattle point, and travel on with an increased chance of being right.  

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Maureen Dowd -

Op-Ed Columnist

Life of Her Party

Published: September 2, 2008


For many years, reality was out of vogue with Republicans. They ignored the reality of Iraq and Katrina, of Pakistan and Osama bin Laden.

When confronted with their colossal carelessness around the globe and here at home, their mantra was, as Rummy put it, “Stuff happens.”

Now reality, in all its messy, crazy, funky glory, has flooded the party, in the comely, crackling form of Sarah Palin.

Unable to stop the onslaught of wild soap opera storylines erupting from the Palin family and the Alaska wilderness, McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt offered caterwauling reporters a new mantra: “Life happens.”

Indeed, it does. Only four days into her reign as John McCain’s “soul mate,” or “Trophy Vice,” as some bloggers are calling her, on the ticket known as “Maverick Squared,” Palin, the governor of Alaska, has already accrued two gates (Troopergate and Broken-watergate), a lawyer (for Troopergate), a future son-in-law named Levi (a high school ice hockey player, described by New York magazine as “sex on skates”), and a National Enquirer headline about the “Teen Prego Crisis” with 17-year-old daughter Bristol.

It seems like a long time since Vice President Dan Quayle denounced Murphy Brown for having a baby out of wedlock, bemoaning a “poverty of values.” It also seems like a long time — and another McCain ago — that Republicans supporting W. smeared the old John McCain by spreading rumors that he had fathered an illegitimate black child.

This week, the anti-abortion forces celebrated the news of Bristol’s pregnancy, using it as further proof that their beloved Governor Palin — who will no more support sex education than polar bears — was committed to the cause.

Since John McCain played craps first and sent the vetters to Alaska afterward, Republicans have been defending Governor Palin by saying that, while she has no foreign policy experience — except, as Cindy McCain pointed out, that “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia” — she has a lot of domestic policy experience as a supercharged P.T.A. and hockey mom.

As more and more titillating details spill out about the Palins, Republicans riposte by simply arguing that things like Todd’s old D.U.I. arrest or Sarah’s messy family vengeance story will just let them relate better to average Americans — unlike the lofty Obamas.

“If this doesn’t resonate with every woman in America, I’ll eat my hat,” Bill Noll, an Alaska delegate whose daughter got pregnant at a young age and kept the baby, told The Times’s Ashley Parker.

Even as they push Sarah Barricuda as the glamorous but tough hunting and fishing mom who can juggle it all — she’s the only nominee, as Fred Thompson bragged in his convention speech, “who knows how to properly field dress a moose” — they rant at reporters who wonder how she will juggle it all and question some of her judgments.

At a Washington, Pa., rally on Saturday, as her two other daughters stood with her, Ms. Palin left Bristol baby-sitting Trig, who has Down syndrome. “Then we have our daughter Bristol,” the new conservative Republican star said. “She’s on the bus with the newborn. ... It’s his naptime, so he is with his big sister on the bus. But we thank them for being here.”

And this while Bristol was still absorbing the shocking news that she was about to turn into tabloid road kill — and oh, yeah, she’s getting married sooner rather than later.

When you make a gimmicky pick of an unknown, without proper vetting, there’s bound to be a sticky press conference sooner or later. I watched it happen with Ferraro and Quayle, and I watched Mondale and Poppy Bush curdle with embarrassment but plow through.

The political unknowns, of course, want that tantalizing brass ring, so they’re not always completely forthcoming about their skeletons, if they’re lucky enough to be ineptly vetted. This is ironic, since the nominee who gets blindsided with these crises — Did McCain really know that this Palin reality show was about to pop and swallow his convention — is presenting them to voters as the most trustworthy people to inherit the nuclear codes.

Because Ferraro grabbed at the chance, without revealing to Mondale’s incompetent vetting team how damaging some of her husband’s financial imbroglios could be, she went from being a female icon to part of the reason it’s taken a quarter-century for another party to take a chance on a woman.

When McCain gets in trouble, he pulls out the P.O.W. card. Now Republicans are pulling out the sexist card.

Hillary cried sexism to cover up her incompetent management of her campaign, and now Republicans have picked up that trick. But when you use sexism as an across-the-board shield for any legitimate question, you only hurt women. And that’s just another splash of reality.