My Laundry. Seriously. This Is About My Laundry. But It's Huge!

So, its 11:20pm and I just put the boys to bed (the frustrated son has a frustrated friend over) after agreeing that I am not sure all animals require sleep (I swear I heard they do), but I am confident human children in middle school require shitloads of sleep. They agreed to go to sleep because I used the word "shitloads".

I was then able to deal with the laundry. I had to empty the dryer to get the stuff from washer into the dryer. The dryer was full of white stuff; there were socks, t-shirts, dish towels, a couple rags, you know, little stuff that you have to get piece by piece requiring you bend over, with your bad back, 10 maybe 20 times to get it all out. WELL NOT THIS TIME BABY!

I reached in and did the typical gathering motion in an attempt to achieve the greatest mass of clothing in one grab. I. Did. It. One fucking well done, finessed, practiced maneuver. It was film worthy.

Sorry. No film. You're just gonna have to take my word for it.

She's brilliant, and we dismiss her at our peril

Rick Perlstein warns us about Sarah Palin's brilliance ala Nixon; cloth coats (parkas) and the rest. You need to read it, so expand your mind...

Enormously gratifying to see how many bloggers have found my book NIXONLAND illuminating of Sara Palin's speech last night, and of the Republicans' convention narrative generally. It really is textbook: Rudy Giuliani braying how Sara doesn't wear a mink coat, she wears a respectable Republican cloth parka; Sara herself, with a genial fury that frankly recalled for me Ronald Reagan at his most effective, pulling out all the stops for the pity-party strategy I describe in the book thusly:

[you] jab at a bunch of bastards who were piling on, kicking a man when he was down, a regular guy, just because they could do it and he couldn't fight back.... you inspire a strange sort of protective love among voters whose wounds of resentment grow alongside your performance of being wounded. Your enemies appear to die of their own hand, never of your own. Which makes you stronger.

It was, even more—Sara's the Veep pick, after all—Spiro Agnew: a whimpering foreign policy, a mulish obstructionism in domestic policy, and a pusillanimous pussyfooting on the critical issue of law and order.... The troglodylic leftists who dominate Congress...work themselves into a lather over an alleged shortage of nutriments in a child's box of Wheaties." They "cannot get exercised over that same child's constant exposure to a flood of hard-core pornography that could warp his moral outlook for a lifetime."

I watched the speech couch-bound and spellbound, at the home of a tall and taciturn prominent St. Paul radio personality, his gracious wife, and a staffer from a liberal magazine. I found that watching the speech with fellow liberals turned out to be more useful to me than watching it in the hall, for reasons I hope to explain later. I scribbled the most salient lines madly in my Moleskin. Forthwith, an annotation:

It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves. With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost - there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war. But the pollsters and pundits overlooked just one thing when they wrote him off. They overlooked the caliber of the man himself - the determination, resolve, and sheer guts of Senator John McCain. The voters knew better.

And so, in the the lingering afterglow of a staggeringly intense standing ovation, the keynote is struck: the media hates John McCain. That is because the media hates victory. The media, by association, also hates you. John McCain will protect you from them.

Sometimes even the greatest joys bring challenge.
And children with special needs inspire a special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

Richard Nixon always pulled out stories of cute children and animals at crucial moments. Trig, passed from hand to hand between Palins and McCains with the rhythmic regularity of a Bob Fosse routine, is Sarah Palin's Checkers: attack me, and you're really attacking him.

(A visual note: Liberty Bell projected in the background, then the Washington Monument.)

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.

Barack Obama is a lazy welfare cheat. Rudy Giuliani, speaking in front of a background of a Twin Towers-less Lower Manhattan skyline, warned voters not to buy in to the welfare cheat's affirmative action scam: "You've got to make this decision right. Who would you hire? On the one hand, you've got a man who has dedicated his life to the service of his country. He's been tested time and again by crisis. He's passed every test.... On the other hand, you have a resume from a gifted man with an Ivy League education. He worked as a community organizer, and immersed himself in Chicago machine politics.... This is not a personal attack....it's a statement of fact - Barack Obama has never led anything." Sarah kicks in on this theme later: "the author of two memoirs but not a single major law."

But who is the real welfare cheat? Alaska is a state that receives massively more federal dollars than it pays in to the system. And, later: "My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of 'personal discovery.' This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer"—he's a hippie, too!

We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

In case you didn't know, there sure are a lot of faggots in San Francisco.

(Visual note: Liberty Bell projected in the background, then the Washington Monument.)

Here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.

Hey now! Here's how I put it in NIXONLAND: "The 17-year-old blossomed when he realized himself no longer alone in his outsiderdom: the student body was run, socially, by a circle of swells who called themselves the Franklins, and the remainder of the student body, a historian noted, "seemed resigned to its exclusion." So this most unfraternal of youth organized the remnant into a fraternity of his own. Franklins were well-rounded, graceful, moved smoothly, talked slickly. Nixon's new club, the Orthogonians, was for the strivers, those not to the manor born, the commuter students like him. He persuaded his fellows that reveling in one's unpolish was a nobility of its own. Franklins were never photographed save in black-tie. Orthogonians wore shirtsleeves. "Beans, brains, and brawn" was their motto. He told them "Orthogonian"--basically, "at right angles"--meant "upright," "straight shooter."... He beat a Franklin for student body president. Looking back later, acquaintances marveled at the feat; this awkward skinny kid the the yearbook called "a rather quiet chap about campus," dour and brooding, who couldn't even win a girlfriend, who attracted enemies, who seemed, a law school classmate later marveled, "the man least likely to succeed in politics." They hadn't learned what Nixon was learning. Being hated by the right people was no impediment to political success. The unpolished, after all, were everywhere in the majority."

(Visual note: Mount Rushmore. Stony. Severe.)

While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay. I also drive myself to work. And I thought we could muddle through without the governor's personal chef—although I've got to admit that sometimes my kids sure miss her. I came to office promising to control spending—by request if possible and by veto if necessary.

In the Checkers speech, Nixon talked about his modest two-year-old Oldsmobile.

(Close up of the Liberty Bell.)

Thanks but no thanks on the Bridge to Nowhere.

Well, like Nixon, she lies.

This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign.

Translated from the original Nixonese: "In San Francisco a few weeks ago, I saw demonstrators carrying signs reading: "Lose in Vietnam, bring the boys home. Well, one of the strengths of our free society is that any American has a right to reach that conclusion and to advocate that point of view. But as President of the United States, I would be untrue to my oath of office if I allowed the policy of this Nation to be dictated by the minority who hold that point of view and who try to impose it on the Nation by mounting demonstrations in the street."

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... he's worried that someone won't read them their rights?

Interestingly, the transcript includes a question mark. She's not accusing—she's asking! Like when RN called Dean Acheson and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson "traitors to the high principles in which many of the nation’s Democrats believe." Democrats responded. Whatever do you mean?, Nixon said in wounded tones, claiming he’d been misunderstood—he wasn't accusing them of treason against, you know, the nation.

Then, they hand the cocker spaniel baby to the king. Apotheosis; cue curtain.

Look. There may be very little juice le[f]t in the Republican culture war narrative. But there might be just enough to win one more election. What Sarah Palin just did was squeeze the last drops with the rhetorical equivalent of an industrial-strength vise.

She's brilliant, and we dismiss her at our peril.

What Can You Get For $300,000?

$300,000 buys ...

... one and a half houses, given the national median home price of $206,500.

... a year's worth of health care for 750 people.

... the full array of back-to-school supplies and clothes for 500 kids.

... enough gas to drive cross-country 543 times.

... 365 round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., to Anchorage, Alaska. (John McCain should have splurged on at least one.)

... a three-course steak dinner (at Mat-su Resort) and a movie ticket (for the Mat-su Cinema) for every man, woman, and child in Wasilla, Alaska.

... enough money for three Troopergate investigations.

h/t vanity fair

They Look Pretty (rich)!

Laura Bush
Oscar de la Renta suit: $2,500
Stuart Weitzman heels: $325

Pearl stud earrings: $600–$1,500

Total: Between $3,425 and $4,325

Cindy McCain
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

Total: Between $299,100 and $313,100

So, who's elite now, bitches?!

She Was Born In A Small Town Not Far From The Russian Border

There's an interesting article at The Washington Independent about conservative populism you ought to check out. Michael Kazin points to a nerve-wracking potential end to this election. Here is my favorite (the worst?) part:

The populist hero was born on a small farm not far from the Canadian border. As a boy, he scraped together money by raising chickens and managing a grocery store. He then worked his way through an unprestigious law school, and enlisted in the Marines to fight for his country.

My doctrine, the young Republican senator liked to say, “is Americanism with its sleeves rolled up.” Given his background, he said he identified with “real people” from rural areas and small towns “who are the heart and soul and soil of America.” He vowed to defend them against “the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouth” who were “selling this nation out.”

The senator regularly presented himself as a man of strong faith. “Today,” he declared in 1950, “we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between Communistic atheism and Christianity…the chips are down – they are truly down.” His name was Joseph R. McCarthy.

Debunking Palin

Let's do some debunking.

1. As Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin sold on eBay, for a profit, the Governor's jet. No, she listed it on eBay, and then someone else sold it for her, at a loss.

2. As Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was against the Bridge to Nowhere. No, she was for it, took the money, and was then against it.

3. Sarah Palin is a mainstream Christian. No, she is a right-wingnut, believes the bible is literally true, and thinks her duty as Governor of Alaska is to do God's will.

4. Sarah Palin is a corrupt, smalltime, ignorant, smarmy, self-important, holier-than-thou, 44-year old grandmother-to-be who thinks living near Russia gives her foreign policy credentials. Yes. All true.

5. Sarah Palin was completely vetted. No, she wasn't.

Back To School Night

We had Back to School night Thursday. This is the night when I get to tell the parents of my students how I plan on running my classroom, what my expectations for their children--and them--will be, and answer questions.

My favorite part of my half-hour presentation (off the cuff, of course) is when I tell the parents I do not need them to volunteer in my classroom. I get some strange looks. Then I tell them it's because I was hired to do a job, and if I need their help, I should probably be fired so they can get a competent teacher in the classroom. Then I get even stranger looks. Then I remind them that they do not need me hanging out in their workplace, giving suggestions or volunteering. Then the looks turn to smiles, and the heads start to nod in agreement. It's my classroom (for now) and unless they have a problem with me, they should just let me run it the way I want (go ahead and tell me I'm wrong. But I'm not.)

I am serious about volunteers. The notion of volunteering has morphed into some meme that says "teachers can't do it alone. They need partners, and who better than the parents!", which is false. The partnership between families and schools is like the partnership between patients and doctors. Students (patients) follow the prescriptions of the teacher (doctor) in order to reach a desired goal. Yes, students (patients) must be actively engaged, but not engaged in doing my (or the doctor's) work; they need to be engaged in doing their work, like I am engaged in doing mine.

I find it insulting as a teacher, and scary as a parent, to think that teachers need parents to help. The only thing I need parents to do is raise their kids up right. If you want to donate a plant, or a refrigerator, or some field trip funds, great. Do it. You want to plan a Christmas party, no. This is a school, not your Christian living room.

So, I guess I tricked myself by posting the I Got Nuthin, cuz then I got the preceding!

I Got Nuthin

I am useless today (as opposed to other days). Got nothing but disgust for the election (go obama), rage against NCLB and how they are making my teaching less effective, and it is hot.

It's not that I have nothing to say, it' just that I got nuthin!


Republicans Don't Know What Walter Reed Hospital Even Looks Like!

Its true. That big mansion on the screen behind McCain last night? Walter Reed Jr. High in SoCal (I almost went there!).

Yep. The Republicans apparently wanted a picture of the hospital of the same name, but they left it to an intern, and they got the jr. high. You can't make this stuff up!

thanks c&l


Are you reading Mudflats? Well, if not, you should be. Go there now!

Republican National Convention: We Apologize

As far as I can tell from the speeches, the Republican Convention has been a self-repudiation of the last 8 years, an apology of sorts. And they want a do-over.


Sarah Palin's Hair

Just Google "Sarah Palin Pentecostal Hair"

Palin's Speech

She delivered her speech well. she did not write it. She barely understood it (phonetic spelling like "new-clear"). She put-down Obama and Biden (pompous bitch) who she's never met.

Oh, and the ovation she got before she started speaking? Did the audience know something about her we did not? What the hell was the ovation for? We were just meeting her!

Her pick is an insult. McCain is not a serious candidate. Yuck!

Gotta go teach. Lunch is over!

The DOW and Palin?

I am sure it is down 300 pts. because of something Obama did (not that Sarah Palin may become president).


Republicans Look Worried!!

By Alex Wong/Getty

Sam Harris Responds

Sam Harris sent me an email (you too?) yesterday telling me what I already knew about Palin. I appreciate the email from Sam because I agree with most of what he has written on religion, and he cracks me up. Well, he got some negative responses from this article.

So, here is his response:
Sam Harris: Sexist Pig and Liberal Shill

I've received more than the usual amount of criticism for my recent opinion piece on Sarah Palin, most of it alleging sexism and/or an unseemly infatuation with Barack Obama. For those who care, I'd like to briefly respond:

My alleged sexism: It is true that I used some hackneyed, gender-slanted language in the piece ("get sassy," "girl-next-door," etc.). This was deliberate. Clearly, I played this game at my peril. I can say that if Sarah Palin were a man of similar qualifications, I would have used equally slanted language to describe him. I might have called Mr. Palin a "frat-boy" or a "lumberjack." I would have invoked some silly macho phrasing like,"Watch Cousin Jim flip Putin the bird." My concern is not that Mrs. Palin is a woman. My concern is that she is a totally unqualified and poorly educated woman who was added to the Republican ticket as a token woman (and Creationist wacko). For what it's worth, the article was vetted by the two women closest to me (wife and mother) and by two female editors at the LA Times. If anything, the editing at the Times made the piece even more "sexist."

My alleged Obamamania: Many McCain supporters have written to say that (1) Obama is also unqualified (or even less qualified than Palin) and (2) I have shown myself to be a hypocrite by not objecting to Obama's religiosity. Briefly: My criticism of Palin should not be construed as uncritical acceptance of Obama. Needless to say, I find Obama's religious pandering repulsive. The suspicion that he is pandering, out of obvious necessity, and not quite as religious as he makes out, is somewhat comforting, however. But even if Obama were precisely as religious as he appears, he is not a Creationist, Rapture-Ready blockhead. Palin, by all appearances, seems to be one. This is a difference worth noting. Whatever you may think of his politics, Obama is very intelligent and reasonably well educated. Palin thinks the universe is 6000 years old. Unfortunately, I wrote my article before some of the most disturbing signs of her religious extremism came to light.

So, let me simply declare that I would be overjoyed to have a qualified woman in the White House. I would, likewise, be overjoyed to have a qualified African American in the White House. In fact, I would be overjoyed to have a qualified WASP man in the White House. I will be guardedly optimistic to have a very smart (and somewhat qualified) Barack Obama in the White House. And I would be frankly terrified to have a religious bumpkin like Sarah Palin in the White House. I think you should share this last conviction. Hence my latest opinion piece.


Alaska: A Different Country Altogether

Over at Lawyers, Guns and Money Davenoon has a great post about Alaska's self-identification. They are NOT America! Money quote:
But Alaska's unique geography and history have nourished a political culture that's clearly incomprehensible to most of the rest of the country, in part because it's premised on the deeply conflicted view that the rest of the country is a predatory force to whom we must, however, appeal for our own economic survival. The Alaskan Independence Party, obviously, tries to resolve the contradiction through the science fiction fantasy of Alaskan self-sufficiency -- a gesture that would make sense to your bog-standard adolescent or to men who sustain the market for inflatable fuck dolls, but should be laughable to everyone else.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Someday this will stop...
Paul's excellent piece on the President of Alaska hits on a few things that are worth keeping in mind, regardless of Palin's affiliation or non-affiliation with the AIP.

Culturally- and ideologically-speaking, there is a certain type of Anglo-Alaskan who regards the rest of the United States -- conventionally known, with a mixture of disdain and fear, as "Outside" or simply "South" -- as a foreign land to be held at arm's length. For social conservatives, Outside is a dangerous place, bloated with unwholesomeness; for libertarians, Outside is infested with bureaucrats and brownshirts who will confiscate your guns and fishing reels, tattoo your necks with barcodes, and swab your cheeks for DNA to be loaded into a database administered by the Federal Reserve, Illuminati, and the ZOG; and to populists (left and right), Outside is the Great Expropriator, the colonial overlord who permits non-Alaskan corporations to strip the mineral, timber, and piscine frontiers without fairly compensating those who live here.

It's a bizarre stew, and its not altogether unlike the right-leaning counter-cultural chafing we might find anywhere in the trans-Mississippi West. But Alaska's unique geography and history have nourished a political culture that's clearly incomprehensible to most of the rest of the country, in part because it's premised on the deeply conflicted view that the rest of the country is a predatory force to whom we must, however, appeal for our own economic survival. The Alaskan Independence Party, obviously, tries to resolve the contradiction through the science fiction fantasy of Alaskan self-sufficiency -- a gesture that would make sense to your bog-standard adolescent or to men who sustain the market for inflatable fuck dolls, but should be laughable to everyone else.

Other political figures -- Ted Stevens and Don Young being the most emblematic -- recognize and revel in the arrangement, justifying our dependence on federal largesse by insisting that Alaska's politically youthful status entitles us to virtually endless developmental aid. Never having been in a state whose favorite son or daughter has been recruited onto the presidential ticket, I obviously have no basis for comparison. But since Palin's nomination last week, her Alaskan supporters have been positively obsessed with the question of "How will this benefit Alaska?" Some have offered the inane rationale that an Alaskan in the White House will bring "respect" to the state. Others, realizing that both Don Young and Ted Stevens face possible defeat in November, are simply expecting that Vice President Palin would be able to keep the budgetary arteries open. No one, however, is making the case that a Palin Vice Presidency would be good for the United States, because that's an argument that would be more or less alien to mainstream Alaskan politics. Even advocates of accelerated drilling know that it's a ruse. More oil from Alaska will do nothing to drive down gas prices for the rest of the country, nor will it provide the United State with "energy independence." It would, however, amount to a massive public works program for Alaska and will provide new sources of revenue for state government. And as an added bonus, it will remind the polar bears who is the boss of whom.

Now obviously, local and state institutions are provincial by their very nature; and obviously, local and state politics are interdependent with larger governmental structures, national and international in scope. But it's safe to say that the circumstances of Alaskan politics are not conducive to the emergence of a broader national vision -- the sort of thing you'd expect from, say, a person nominated as the vice presidential candidate of a major party. Truth be told, I actually don't believe that Sarah Palin identifies with the extreme views of the Alaskan Independence Party, for the simple reason that her political career indicates that, all maverick pretensions aside, she seems perfectly comfortable with Alaska's permanent, remoral attachment to the rest of the nation. In this way, she's a pretty conventional Alaska Republican; if you happen to think this makes her an acceptable candidate for vice president, you're being played for a sucker.

Posted by davenoon at 12:02 PM


Vetting, By Robert Reich

Was Sarah Palin properly vetted? Well here's Bob on how the thing works...

Having been through the process of “vetting” prospective cabinet members, I can tell you it’s time-consuming, detailed, and thorough. I’d like to think the vetting of a vice presidential nominee would be more so – especially one whose odds of becoming president, should she be elected, are somewhat higher than that of the normal vice president.

Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton’s “vetting” team asked me and other prospective cabinet members for (1) our tax returns, going back at least five years, (2) our bank records, (3) a detailed listing of our assets, (4) the names and places of everywhere we had lived, and the names and phone numbers of neighbors whom they could call about us, (5) a description of every job we had ever had, every client we had ever served, and the names of employers and clients with whom they could check, (6) the names of our family members, their ages, their occupations (if any), (7) a description of any civil or criminal investigations or prosecutions in which we had been involved (8) and – perhaps most importantly – “anything we should ask you about, the answer to which might cause you or the administration any embarrassment.”

It didn’t stop there. Investigators checked our answers, interviewed our friends and neighbors and former employers, asked for more records if uncertain. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation did their own background checks. Staff members of the relevant congressional committees, representing both parties, looked over the files and added questions of their own.

It didn’t even stop there. I recall two large, three-ring black binders containing passages from books and articles I had written that might prove troubling to some of the Senators. My vetting team suggested I be prepared to answer questions about them.

The process took well over a month, not including the Senate confirmation hearing. I don’t recall doing anything during that interval except responding to questions from the vetting team, the FBI, and oversight committee staffers, both Republican and Democrat.

Do you believe Sarah Palin was put through anything remotely like this before John McCain decided she would be his vice presidential candidate, and possible President of the United States?

Academic Language: Good Idea.

I've gone off on Lucy Calkins, and for good reasons, not the least of which was the use of euphemisms instead of real academic language. I was taught (a shout out to my Teacher Education Program, whatever the hell it was) to use academic language with kids. I use it for a simple reason: If I must teach them a term for something, why not the accepted term? It has always seemed to me that we users of language ought to say what we mean, and use the most precise language we can to get our meaning across. We (I) may not always be successful, but we ought to shoot for precision and simplicity. Agreed? Good.

So, today the 2nd grade had a literacy meeting.

We were introduced to a new, comprehensive, state of the art (copyright 2002) spelling curriculum. The main goal was to use.....wait for it......here.......it........comes.........academic language! Yes, be explicit and use correct terminology, and you should start with the short vowels, moving towards the harder stuff like silent "e"s and stuff.

Can you believe it? I don't make this stuff up, and I am not dumbing it down. People spend hours, days, probably weeks and months thinking up evaluations teachers can do with students to see where their "weak" spot is. Is it dipthongs? Blends? Letter combinations (?)? Of course! It's all of those things. They don't even start to teach kids to read until 7 years old in Finland! Because kids, humans, are wired for language, and are ready to recieve it at about 7.

We can teach kindergartners to decode, and I say we should, since we can. But up until 2nd grade, these fundamentals are really all we need to focus on, and most kids start to get them right around 2nd grade.

If taught the fundamentals, and with practice, most kids get it, just at different rates, and with different degrees of success. Degrees of success are begun, affected, and influenced after the fundamentals are sound. If the fundamentals are the problem, then I say, you start to heavily anylize what kinds of mistakes the student is making; because only then--and I am talking about 2nd grade--is there a problem.

This overanalysis of student progress does not inform my instruction. Indeed, it impairs it. If I must now use a method and system that replicates what I already do, I will be forced to divert my attention from teaching to learning the new system. To what end? To the end that the district will have more data on MY TEACHING! It is not for the kids. Trust me. It is for me. Is that what you want? Or would you rather i do what I have been doing, which is what they are now advocating, like I said they always do (in that Lucy Calkins link above).








John McCain = Caligula

Richard Cohen puts it very nicely in this money quote:
It's a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse.
Republicans Rush In
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, September 2, 2008; A15
One of the great sights of American political life -- a YouTube moment if ever there was one -- was to see the doughboy face of Newt Gingrich as he extolled the virtues of Sarah Palin, a sitcom of a vice presidential choice and a disaster movie if she moves up to the presidency: "She's the first journalist ever to be nominated, I think, for the president or vice president, and she was a sportscaster on local television," Gingrich said on the "Today" show. "So she has a lot of interesting background. And she has a lot of experience. Remember that, when people worry about how inexperienced she is, for two years she's been in charge of the Alaska National Guard."

It's a pity Gingrich was not around when the Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known by his nickname Caligula, reputedly named Incitatus as a consul and a priest. Incitatus was his horse.

John McCain's selection of Palin, which I first viewed with horror, could now be seen in a different light. Based on various television interviews over the Labor Day weekend -- and a careful reading of the transcripts -- it is possible that this is McCain's attempt to make fools of his fellow Republicans. He has succeeded beyond all expectations.

Gingrich's point about Palin being commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard has been echoed throughout the GOP. In fact, even Cindy McCain pointed out -- rightly enough -- that Alaska is across the Bering Strait from Russia and so Palin, by deduction, has been on the front lines of the Cold War . . . had it not ended in 1989.

Still, you have to admit that in all that time, especially since Palin became governor about two years ago, no Russian invasion force has come across the strait, maybe because she was in charge of the Guard, maybe because she herself is a hunter and an athlete. The record is unclear because no high-ranking Russian appeared on any of the weekend talk shows to say how they had considered an invasion of Alaska and then backed off when Sarah Palin became commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. Who could blame them?

Just to show that he would not ask of others what he would not do himself, McCain came before Chris Wallace to sing Palin's praises. He said that he had "watched her record . . . for many, many years" which is, a prudent man might say, more years than she's had a record. McCain, as a fellow military man, did not mention Palin's tenure as the supreme commander of the entire Alaska National Guard, maybe because he thought it speaks for itself. If that's the case, he's right.

Probably the most depressing thing about Palin is not her selection but the defense of it. It has produced a parade of GOP spokesmen intent on spiking the needle on a polygraph. Looking right into the camera, they offer statement after statement that they hope the voters will swallow but that history will forget. The sum effect on the diligent news consumer is a feeling of consummate contempt for the intelligence of the American people -- a contempt that will be justified should Palin be the factor that makes McCain a winner in November.

One of the more heroic efforts at Palin worship came from the commentator-columnist William Kristol, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. He had to use the code word "traditional" three times in a single sentence to make his point: "It's a pretty amazing story of personal success, being at once a traditional woman who broke all of these traditional barriers, kind of the best of both worlds, if you believe in traditional values."

About the only Republican who seemed totally sincere about Palin was Grover G. Norquist, an anti-tax obsessive who once likened the argument that the estate tax affected only a very few people to the argument -- made by no one I can think of -- that the Holocaust also affected a relatively few people. "I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust," he said only five years ago. Norquist called the selection of the anti-tax Palin a "wise" choice.

In 1959, the novelist Terry Southern published "The Magic Christian," a darkly comic tale based on the premise that people will do anything for money. The choice of Palin proves that people will also do anything for political power -- including rising early on a holiday weekend to make fools of themselves.


Be Judgmental! It's Human!

I am now watching CNN or something. David Gergen doesn't want us to judge the Palins based on the fact that their 17 year old daughter is pregnant. Well, as much as I want to stay classy, I also want to stay honest. Please don't ask me not to be judgmental. We are all judgmental. I like to call it judgment, but you can call it judgmental, and characterize my judgment all you want.

I think if your teenage daughter gets pregnant, unintentionally, that says something about you and your family, at least in my judgment.

So, I say, go ahead and judge! Cause if you don't, you will get spun!

Palin, Pregnancy, and......WHAT?

So the ugly rumors surrounding the birth of her son seem to be settled with these photos:

But now we find out that Ms. Palin's 17 year old daughter is pregnant, and mom's stance on abortion would not allow her daughter to get an abortion even if she was raped!


Kinsley On The Whole Palin Thing

As usual, Mike Kinsley nails it. Palin's inexperience says an awful lot about McCain. Money quote:
In fact, it's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain—and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience—ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this very morning fully prepared to harp on Obama's alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn ("Experience? Feh! Who needs it?") or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.
No Experience NecessaryHow Sarah Palin made the GOP change its mind about presidential qualifications.
By Michael Kinsley
Posted Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008, at 10:36 AM ET

In a famous example of ideological flexibility, the American Communist Party changed its mind completely about Adolf Hitler in 1939, when he signed a deal with Stalin. Previously, they hadn't cared for him much. Suddenly, he looked pretty good. Then two years later, when Hitler ratted on the deal and invaded the Soviet Union, the Communists changed their minds again. Both times, it took only days.

But now, thanks to the Internet, the same kind of conversion can take place in hours or even minutes. And although it's hard to find many Communists around these days, we happen to have just the party for the job.

It seems like just yesterday that the Republican Party was complaining about Barack Obama's lack of foreign-policy "experience." As a matter of fact, as I write (on Friday, Aug. 29) it actually was just yesterday. Even now, the Republican National Committee's main anti-Obama website has the witty address www.notready08.com. The contrast in experience, especially foreign-policy experience, between McCain and Obama was supposed to be the central focus of McCain's campaign.

But that's so five minutes ago, before Sarah Palin. Already, conservative pundits are coming up with creative explanations for McCain's choice of a vice presidential running mate with essentially no foreign policy experience. First prize so far goes to Michael Barone, who notes on the U.S. News & World Report blog that, "Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II." I think we need to know what Sarah Palin has done, in her year and change as governor of Alaska, to protect the freedom of the Aleutian Islands, before deciding how many foreign policy experience credits she deserves on their account.

The official response to the question of experience emerged within hours and is only slightly more plausible: She may not have foreign policy experience, but -unlike Obama, Joe Biden or even John McCain-she has had executive experience. Why, before her stint as governor of Alaska, population 670,000, she was mayor of a town of 9,000. Remember when the Republicans mocked Bill Clinton for being governor of a "small state"? That would be Arkansas, population 2.8 million. As it happens, 670,000 is the population of metropolitan Little Rock.

The whole "experience" debate is silly. Under our system of government, there is only one job that gives you both executive and foreign policy experience, and that's the one McCain and Obama are running for. Nevertheless, it's a hardy perennial: If your opponent is a governor, you accuse him of lacking foreign policy experience. If he or she is a member of Congress, you say this person has never run anything. And if, by any chance, your opponent has done both, you say that he or she is a "professional politician." When Republicans aren't complaining about someone's lack of experience, they are calling for term limits.

That's why the important point about Palin's lack of experience isn't about Palin. It's about McCain. And the question is not how his choice of Palin might complicate his ability to use the "experience" issue, or whether he will have to drop experience as an issue. It's not even about the proper role of experience as an issue. In fact, it's not about experience at all. It's about honesty. The question should be whether McCain—and all the other Republicans who have been going on for months about Obama's dangerous lack of foreign policy experience—ever meant a word of it. And the answer is apparently not. Many conservative pundits woke up this very morning fully prepared to harp on Obama's alleged lack of experience for months more. Now they face the choice of either executing a Communist-style U-turn ("Experience? Feh! Who needs it?") or trying to keep a straight face while touting the importance of having been mayor of a town of 9,000 if you later find yourself president of a nation of 300 million.

We all know that modern political campaigns choose their issues from the cafeteria line, after market-testing them, and then having them professionally framed. Rarely, though, are we offered such a clear and unarguable example. How could anyone truly believe that Barack Obama's background and job history are inadequate experience for a president, and simultaneously believe that Sarah Palin's background and job history are perfectly adequate? It's possible to believe one or the other. But both? Simply not possible. John McCain has been—what's the word?—lying. And so have all the pundits who rushed to defend McCain's choice.

This is especially damning to McCain because his case for himself (besides not being Barack Obama, a standard under which many of us might qualify) has rested on his honor and integrity. The North Vietnamese couldn't break him, and neither could the Brahmins of his own party in the Senate. He was a maverick who always told it straight. So much for that.

Another Prediction: This One About Palin

Mark my words: Sarah Palin will not make it to the convention, and will be off the ticket. Too many controversies surrounding her. The Republican convention could end up looking like what everyone thought the Democratic convention was gonna end up looking like!

Got Hope?

Update: Looks like this prediction is going down in flames.

The Faster You Go, The Slower You Get

It's long (1 hour), but, as the title of this post suggests, you ought to slow down, and watch it. David Levy talks at the Google campus about "No Time To Think".

I think this notion of slowing down so we can think has serious implications in education. I'm going to have to revisit this. I am posting as I watch it.

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