September 3rd, 2008

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The GOP!


I think the NY Times says it really well.

Candidate McCain’s Big Decision


Published: September 2, 2008

More often than not, the role of a vice president is a minor one, unless some tragedy occurs. But a presidential nominee’s choice of a running mate is vitally important. It is his first executive decision and offers an important insight into how that nominee would lead the nation.

If John McCain wants voters to conclude, as he argues, that he has more independence and experience and better judgment than Barack Obama, he made a bad start by choosing Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

Mr. McCain’s supporters are valiantly trying to argue that the selection was a bold stroke that shows their candidate is a risk-taking maverick who — we can believe — will change Washington. (Mr. Obama’s call for change — now “the change we need” — has become all the rage in St. Paul.)

To us, it says the opposite. Mr. McCain’s snap choice of Ms. Palin reflects his impulsive streak: a wild play that he made after conservative activists warned him that he would face an all-out revolt in the party if he chose who he really wanted — Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.

Why Mr. McCain would want to pander to right-wing activists — who helped George W. Bush kill off his candidacy in the 2000 primaries in a particularly ugly way — is baffling. Frankly, they have no place to go. Mr. McCain would have a lot more success demonstrating his independence, and his courage, if he stood up to them the way he did in 2000.

As far as we can tell, Mr. McCain and his aides did almost no due diligence before choosing Ms. Palin, raising serious questions about his management skills. The fact that Ms. Palin’s 17-year-old daughter is pregnant is irrelevant to her candidacy. There are, however, very serious questions about her political past and her ideology.

If Mr. McCain wanted to break with his party’s past and choose the Republicans’ first female vice presidential candidate, there are a number of politicians out there with far greater experience and stature than Ms. Palin, who has been in Alaska’s Statehouse for less than two years.

Before she was elected governor, she was mayor of a tiny Anchorage suburb, where her greatest accomplishment was raising the sales tax to build a hockey rink. According to Time magazine, she also sought to have books banned from the local library and threatened to fire the librarian.

For Mr. McCain to go on claiming that Mr. Obama has too little experience to be president after almost three years in the United States Senate is laughable now that he has announced that someone with no national or foreign policy experience is qualified to replace him, if necessary.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who has been one of Mr. McCain’s most loyal friends, said Tuesday that he was certain that Ms. Palin would take the right positions on issues like Iraq, Russia’s invasion of Georgia and Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. That seemed based largely on his repeated assertion that Ms. Palin would be tended by Mr. McCain’s foreign policy advisers. That was not much of an endorsement.

Some of the things Ms. Palin has had to say in the recent past about foreign policy are especially worrisome. In a speech last June to her former church in Wasilla, Ms. Palin said the war in Iraq was “a task that is from God.” Mr. Bush made similar claims as he rejected all sound mortal advice on how to conduct the war.

Mr. McCain, Mr. Graham and others also claim that Ms. Palin is a fearless reformer who is committed to fighting waste, fraud and earmarks. Ms. Palin did show courage taking on some of the Alaska Republican Party’s most sleazy politicians. But she also was an eager recipient of earmarked money as a mayor and governor.

Mayor Palin gathered up $27 million in subsidies from Washington, $15 million of it for a railroad from her town to the ski resort hometown of Senator Ted Stevens, now under indictment for failing to report gifts.

The Republicans are presenting Ms. Palin as a crusader against Mr. Stevens’s infamous “Bridge to Nowhere.” The record says otherwise; she initially supported Mr. Stevens’s boondoggle, diverting the money to other projects when the bridge became a political disaster. In her speech to the Wasilla Assembly of God in June, Ms. Palin said it was “God’s will” that the federal government contribute to a $30 billion gas pipeline she wants built in Alaska.

Mr. McCain will make his acceptance speech on Thursday, and Ms. Palin will speak on Wednesday. Those two appearances will go a long way to forming voters’ views of this Republican ticket.

As Senator Graham noted, Mr. McCain has to reach out beyond the party’s loyal base. “We’re going to have to win this thing,” he said. “This is not our race to lose.”

Mr. McCain’s hurdles are substantial. To start, he has to overcome Mr. Bush’s record of failures. (The president addressed the convention Tuesday night and now, McCain strategists fervently hope, will retire quietly to the Rose Garden.) That record includes the disastrous war in Iraq, a ballooning deficit, the mortgage crisis — and the list goes on.

To address those many problems, this country needs a leader with sound judgment and strong leadership skills. Choosing Ms. Palin raises serious questions about Mr. McCain’s qualifications.



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The Presidency -



Zebulen posted this thoughtful article by Sam Harris and I bring it over here.


Opinion

Palin: average isn't good enough

 
She's not qualified to be president, and in picking her, McCain shows that he has little respect for the presidency.
By Sam Harris
September 3, 2008

So let us ask the question that should be on the mind of every thinking person in the world at this moment: If John McCain becomes the 44th president of the United States, what are the odds that a blood clot or falling object will make Sarah Palin the 45th?

The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office. Needless to say, the Reaper's scything only grows more insistent thereafter. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain's medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.
 
As many people have noted, placing Palin on the ticket has made these final months of the already overlong 2008 campaign much more interesting. Is Palin remotely qualified to be president of the United States? No. But that's precisely what is so interesting. McCain not only has thrown all sensible concerns about good governance aside merely to pander to a sliver of female and masses of conservative Christian voters, he has turned this period of American history into an episode of high-stakes reality television: Don't look now, but our cousin Sarah just became leader of the free world! Tune in next week and watch her get sassy with Pakistan!

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the "Who would you like to have a beer with?" poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages -- and loses -- both necessary and unnecessary wars.
McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him. He has so little respect for the average American voter that he thinks this reckless and cynical ploy will work.

And it might. Palin's nomination has clearly excited Christian conservatives, and it may entice a few million gender-obsessed fans of Hillary Clinton to vote entirely on the basis of chromosomes. Throw in a few million more average Americans who will just love how the nice lady smiles, and 2009 could be a very interesting year.




barack obama

Sheryl Crow -


She sang this song at the Democratic convention before Barack came on. She says the song is inspired by the words of the Dalai Lama.


If you feel you wanna fight me
There's a chain around your mind
When something is holding you tightly
What is real is so hard to find

Losing babies to genocide
Oh where's the meaning in that plight
Can't you see that we've really bought into
Every word they proclaimed and every lie, oh

If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts
If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts

Someone's feeding on your anger
Someone's been whispering in your ear
You've seen his face before
You've been played before
These aren't the words you need to hear

Through the dawn of darkness blindly
You have blood upon your hands
All the world will treat you kindly
But only the heart can understand, oh understand
[ Find more Lyrics at www.mp3lyrics.org/hxia ]

If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts
Children of Abraham lay down your fears, swallow your
Tears and look to your heart

If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts
Children of Abraham lay down your fears, swallow your
Tears and look to your heart

Every man is his own prophet
Oh every prophet just a man
I say all the women stand up, say yes to themselves
Teach your children best you can

Let every man bow to the best in himself
We're not killing any more
We're the wisest ones, everybody listen
'Cause you can't fight this
feeling any more, oh anymore

If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts
Children of Abraham lay down your fears, swallow your
Tears and look to your heart

If we could only get out of our heads, out of our heads
And into our hearts
Children of Abraham lay down your fears, swallow your
Tears and look to your heart



Here is her performance at the convention.






barack obama

Thomas Friedman

Thomas Friedman is really clear. There is only candidate. McCain has completely sold out to big oil. Papananook informs me that the Permaent Fund Dividend pays each man, woman, and child in Alaska $1000.00 per year. I see the amount varies year to year, but it may be a partial explanation for the expansive feeling around having children in Alaska as evidenced by the Palin family.

Check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund

So, each Alaskan, no matter what their age gets a little bonus prize each year from big oil. I'm starting to see why McCain chose someone from Alaska, and why a little thing like a pregnant 17 year old won't stand in the way. Big Oil!! Once again, it's back to that.


Op-Ed Columnist

And Then There Was One

Published: September 2, 2008
As we emerge from Labor Day, college students are gathering back on campuses not only to start the fall semester, but also, in some cases, to vote for the first time in a presidential election. There is no bigger issue on campuses these days than environment/energy. Going into this election, I thought that — for the first time — we would have a choice between two “green” candidates. That view is no longer operative — and college students (and everyone else) need to understand that.
With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.
Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.
So please, students, when McCain comes to your campus and flashes a few posters of wind turbines and solar panels, ask him why he has been AWOL when it came to Congress supporting these new technologies.
“Back in June, the Republican Party had a round-up,” said Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club. “One of the unbranded cattle — a wizened old maverick name John McCain — finally got roped. Then they branded him with a big ‘Lazy O’ — George Bush’s brand, where the O stands for oil. No more maverick.
“One of McCain’s last independent policies putting him at odds with Bush was his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” added Pope, “yet he has now picked a running mate who has opposed holding big oil accountable and been dismissive of alternative energy while focusing her work on more oil drilling in a wildlife refuge and off of our coasts. While the northern edge of her state literally falls into the rising Arctic Ocean, Sarah Palin says, ‘The jury is still out on global warming.’ She’s the one hanging the jury — and John McCain is going to let her.”
Indeed, Palin’s much ballyhooed confrontations with the oil industry have all been about who should get more of the windfall profits, not how to end our addiction.
Barack Obama should be doing more to promote his green agenda, but at least he had the courage, in the heat of a Democratic primary, not to pander to voters by calling for a lifting of the gasoline tax. And while he has come out for a limited expansion of offshore drilling, he has refrained from misleading voters that this is in any way a solution to our energy problems.
I am not against a limited expansion of off-shore drilling now. But it is a complete sideshow. By constantly pounding into voters that his energy focus is to “drill, drill, drill,” McCain is diverting attention from what should be one of the central issues in this election: who has the better plan to promote massive innovation around clean power technologies and energy efficiency.
Why? Because renewable energy technologies — what I call “E.T.” — are going to constitute the next great global industry. They will rival and probably surpass “I.T.” — information technology. The country that spawns the most E.T. companies will enjoy more economic power, strategic advantage and rising standards of living. We need to make sure that is America. Big oil and OPEC want to make sure it is not.
Palin’s nomination for vice president and her desire to allow drilling in the Alaskan wilderness “reminded me of a lunch I had three and half years ago with one of the Russian trade attachés,” global trade consultant Edward Goldberg said to me. “After much wine, this gentleman told me that his country was very pleased that the Bush administration wanted to drill in the Alaskan wilderness. In his opinion, the amount of product one could actually derive from there was negligible in terms of needs. However, it signified that the Bush administration was not planning to do anything to create alternative energy, which of course would threaten the economic growth of Russia.”
So, college students, don’t let anyone tell you that on the issue of green, this election is not important. It is vitally important, and the alternatives could not be more black and white.
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moon sliver -



There is the most wonderful little moon sliver tonight.  

I had time with Zach today and we had the best time.   We do have fun.   We sat under a tree that sang to us with its leaves, and we made helicopters, planes, turtles, and whales with bristle blocks.  Then, the tide came in and the water sang to us,  and we saw four jellyfish as we strolled along the water and sand of the bay.

On the way home, we listened to Republican talks.  Why don't they say anything, just words unanchored to anything.  How different than the sea anchored to its tides, and the leaves to its tree, and the birds to their beach.  There must be relevance and connection when one speaks.  There must be truth and love.  





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from Common Dreams - vis Papananook -

Arctic Melting Shows Global Warming Serious

by David Ljunggren

OTTAWA - The incredibly rapid rate at which Canada's Arctic ice shelves are disappearing is an early indicator of the "very substantial changes" that global warming will impose on all mankind, a top scientist said on Wednesday.

[An undated photo from the Center for Northern Studies shows the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf disintegrating. The incredibly rapid rate at which Canada's Arctic ice shelves are disappearing is an early indicator of the "very substantial changes" that global warming will impose on all mankind, a top scientist said on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Denis Sarrazin/Center for Northern Studies/Handout)]An undated photo from the Center for Northern Studies shows the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf disintegrating. The incredibly rapid rate at which Canada's Arctic ice shelves are disappearing is an early indicator of the "very substantial changes" that global warming will impose on all mankind, a top scientist said on Wednesday. (REUTERS/Denis Sarrazin/Center for Northern Studies/Handout)
Researchers announced late on Tuesday that the five ice shelves along Ellesmere Island in the Far North, which are more than 4,000 years old, had shrunk by 23 percent this summer alone.

The largest shelf is disintegrating and one of the smaller shelves, covering 19 square miles (55 square km), broke away entirely last month.

"Climate models indicate that the greatest changes, the most severe changes, will happen earliest in the highest northern latitudes," said Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec.

"This will be the starting point for more substantial changes throughout the rest of the planet.... Our indicators are showing us exactly what the climate models predict," he told Reuters in an interview.

Global warming is forecast to generate more damaging weather extremes such as hurricanes, cyclones and floods.

Vincent, who has visited the ice shelves along Ellesmere Island every year for the past 10 years, said the impact of higher temperatures this year was "staggering".

His team had estimated that the shelves would lose eight square miles this summer. The true figure was 83 square miles.

"What was extraordinary was just the vast quantity of open water ... you could see open water to the horizon in an area that is typically ice-covered throughout the season," he said.

The Markham Ice Shelf split away from Ellesmere Island in early August. Two large chunks totalling 47 square miles have broken off the nearby Serson Ice Shelf, reducing it in size by 60 percent.

The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, at 155 square miles the largest of the remaining four shelves, is disintegrating.

"Clearly the long-term viability of that ice shelf is now actually short-term," said Vincent.

The peak temperature the team recorded was 67.5 degrees Fahrenheit (19.7 degrees Celsius), far above the average of 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

Vincent said he had no doubt that global warming was caused in part by human activity.

"I think we're at a point where it is not stoppable but it can be slowed down. And if you think about the magnitude of effects on our society, then we really need to buy ourselves more time to get ready for some very substantial changes that are ahead," he said.

Ellesmere Island was once home to a single enormous ice shelf totalling around 3,500 square miles. All that is left today are the four much smaller shelves that together cover little more than 300 square miles.

Scientists say the shelves, which contain unique microscopic ecosystems that have not yet been studied, will not be replaced because they took so long to form.

"More and more, we're realizing that it is microscopic life that really dominates the biodiversity of planet Earth ... we really need to understand what that biodiversity is," said Vincent.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson