Sunday, August 31, 2008

6 Things the Palin Pick Says About John McCain

From Saturday's Politico...and exactly what I was thinking, though I probably wouldn't have said as well!

Jim VandeHei, John F. Harris Sat Aug 30, 9:57 AM ET

The selection of a running mate is among the most consequential, most defining decisions a presidential nominee can make. John McCain’s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says a lot about his decison-making — and some of it is downright breathtaking.

We knew McCain is a politician who relishes improvisation, and likes to go with his gut. But it is remarkable that someone who has repeatedly emphasized experience in this campaign named an inexperienced governor he barely knew to be his No. 2. Whatever you think of the pick, here are six things it tells us about McCain:

1. He’s desperate. Let’s stop pretending this race is as close as national polling suggests. The truth is McCain is essentially tied or trailing in every swing state that matters — and too close for comfort in several states like Indiana and Montana the GOP usually wins pretty easily in presidential races. On top of that, voters seem very inclined to elect Democrats in general this election — and very sick of the Bush years.

McCain could easily lose in an electoral landslide. That is the private view of Democrats and Republicans alike.

McCain’s pick shows he is not pretending. Politicians, even “mavericks” like McCain, play it safe when they think they are winning — or see an easy path to winning. They roll the dice only when they know that the risks of conventionality are greater than the risks of boldness.

The Republican brand is a mess. McCain is reasonably concluding that it won’t work to replicate George W. Bush and Karl Rove’s electoral formula, based around national security and a big advantage among Y chromosomes, from 2004.

“She’s a fresh new face in a party that’s dying for one — the antidote to boring white men,” a campaign official said.

Palin, the logic goes, will prompt voters to give him a second look — especially women who have watched Democrats reject Hillary Rodham Clinton for Barack Obama.

The risks of a backlash from choosing someone so unknown and so untested are obvious. In one swift stroke, McCain demolished what had been one of his main arguments against Obama.

“I think we’re going to have to examine our tag line, ‘dangerously inexperienced,’” a top McCain official said wryly.

2. He’s willing to gamble — bigtime. Let’s face it: This is not the pick of a self-confident candidate. It is the political equivalent of a trick play or, as some Democrats called it, a Hail Mary pass in football. McCain talks incessantly about experience, and then goes and selects a woman he hardly knows, who hardly knows foreign policy and who can hardly be seen as instantly ready for the presidency.

He is smart enough to know it could work, at least politically. Many Republicans see this pick as a brilliant stroke because it will be difficult for Democrats to run hard against a woman in the wake of the Hillary Clinton drama. Will this push those disgruntled Hillary voters McCain’s way? Perhaps. But this is hardly aimed at them: It is directed at the huge bloc of independent women — especially those who do not see abortion as a make-or-break issue — who could decide this election.

McCain has a history of taking dares. Palin represents his biggest one yet.

3. He’s worried about the political implications of his age. Like a driver overcorrecting out of a swerve, he chooses someone who is two years younger than the youthful Obama, and 28 years younger than he is. (He turned 72 Friday.) The father-daughter comparison was inevitable when they appeared next to each other.

4. He’s not worried about the actuarial implications of his age. He thinks he’s in fine fettle, and Palin wouldn’t be performing the only constitutional duty of a vice president, which is standing by in case a president dies or becomes incapacitated. If he was really concerned about an inexperienced person sitting in the Oval Office we would be writing about vice presidential nominee Mitt Romney or Tom Ridge or Condoleezza Rice.

There is no plausible way that McCain could say that he picked Palin, who was only elected governor in 2006 and whose most extended public service was as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (population 8,471), because she was ready to be president on Day One.

Nor can McCain argue that he was looking for someone he could trust as a close adviser. Most people know the staff at the local Starbucks better than McCain knows Palin. They met for the first time last February at a National Governors Association meeting in Washington. Then, they spoke again — by phone — on Sunday while she was at the Alaska state fair and he was at home in Arizona.

McCain has made a mockery out of his campaign's longtime contention that Barack Obama is too dangerously inexperienced to be commander in chief. Now, the Democratic ticket boasts 40 years of national experience (four years for Obama and 36 years for Joseph Biden of Delaware), while the Republican ticket has 26 (McCain’s four yeasr in the House and 22 in the Senate.)

The McCain campaign has made a calculation that most voters don’t really care about the national experience or credentials of a vice president, and that Palin’s ebullient personality and reputation as a refomer who took on cesspool politics in Alaska matters more.

5. He’s worried about his conservative base. If he had room to maneuver, there were lots of people McCain could have selected who would have represented a break from Washington politics as usual. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman comes to mind (and it certainly came to McCain’s throughout the process). He had no such room. GOP stalwarts were furious over trial balloons about the possibility of choosing a supporter of abortion rights, including the possibility that he would reach out to his friend.

Palin is an ardent opponent of abortion who was previously scheduled to keynote the Republican National Coalition for Life's "Life of the Party" event in the Twin Cities this week.

“She’s really a perfect selection,” said Darla St. Martin, the Co-Director of the National Right to Life Committee. It is no secret McCain wanted to shake things up in this race — and he realized he was limited to a shake-up conservatives could stomach.

6. At the end of the day, McCain is still McCain. People may find him a refreshing maverick, or an erratic egotist. In either event, he marches to his own beat.

On the upside, his team did manage to play to the media’s love of drama, fanning speculation about his possible choices and maximizing coverage of the decision.

On the potential downside, the drama was evidently entirely genuine. The fact that McCain only spoke with Palin about the vice presidency for the first time on Sunday, and that he was seriously considering Lieberman until days ago, suggests just how hectic and improvisational his process was.

In the end, this selection gives him a chance to reclaim the mantle of a different kind of politician intent on changing Washington. He once had a legitimate claim to this: after all, he took on his own party over campaign finance reform and immigration. He jeopardized this claim in recent months by embracing ideas he once opposed (Bush tax cuts) and ideas that appeared politically motivated (gas tax holiday).

Spontaneity, with a touch of impulsiveness, is one of the traits that attract some of McCain’s admirers. Whether it’s a good calling card for a potential president will depend on the reaction in coming days to what looks for the moment like the most daring vice presidential selection in generations.

Mike Allen contributed to this report.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

OK, You Were a POW. Now Shut Up Already!

Everybody knows John McCain served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War, was shot down, captured, and was a prisoner of war for over five years. That experience, as challenging as it must have been, does not automatically qualify one to be the president of the United States...or does it?

Raising his POW experience to Jay Leno to justify not remembering how many houses he owns:
Could I just mention to you Jay, that in a moment of seriousness, I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a kitchen table, I didn’t have a table, I didn’t have a chair.

Raising his POW experience to justify his love of the song Take a Chance on Me by Abba:
A lot of my taste in music stopped about the time I impacted a surface to air missile with my own airplane, McCain said to Walter Issacson at the Aspen Institute. (In fact, Abba began recording years after he was shot down.)

Raising his POW experience to justify his opposition to universal health care:
I did have a period of time where I didn’t have very good health care, I had it from another government. Look, I know what it’s like not to have health care, McCain said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Raising his POW experience to attack political opponents:
Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum. Now, my friends, I wasn’t there. I was tied up at the time, McCain said during a primary debate.

Former president Jimmy Carter was bewildered by McCain's performance at the Saddleback Presidential Forum hosted by pastor and author Rick Warren in Lake Forest, Calif., earlier this month.

Carter said that whether he was asked about religion, domestic or foreign affairs, every answer came back to McCain's 5½ years as a POW. "John McCain was able to weave in his experience in a Vietnam prison camp, no matter what the question was," Carter said. "It's much better than talking about how he's changed his total character between being a senator, a kind of a maverick … and his acquiescence in the last few months with every kind of lobbyist pressure that the right-wing Republicans have presented."

Yeah, the John McCain I remember pre-2001, the 2001-2007 McCain, and the 2008 campaign McCain are very different Johns. And I must agree with Carter's assessment.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Heroine Del Martin Rests in Peace

Pioneering lesbian rights activist Del Martin, who married her lifelong partner in June on the first day that same-sex couples here gained that right, has died. She was 87.

Martin died at a San Francisco hospital Wednesday morning with her wife (and partner in life for many decades), Phyllis Lyon, by her side.

Along with six other women, Martin and Lyon founded a San Francisco social club for lesbians in 1955. Under their leadership, that group evolved into the nation's first lesbian advocacy organization.

The couple were married at San Francisco City Hall on June 16. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who officiated the wedding, singled them out to be the first gay couple to legally exchange vows in the city, in recognition of their activism.

The two were among the two dozen couples who served as plaintiffs in the lawsuits that led the state Supreme Court to overturn California's ban on gay marriage in May.
San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom looks on as Del Martin, left, places a ring on her partner Phyllis Lyon, right, on their wedding day, June 16, 2008.

While it seems so terribly sad that she has died just two months after their wedding, consolation exists in the many decades they had already shared together. Let us all pray the love Del has for Phyllis, and Phyllis' spirit as a pioneering activist for all our rights, wipes away some of the tears and sorrow and allows Phyllis to continue on the rest of her days with us.

God bless you Del and Phyllis. Well, you had over 50 years together. God has been blessing you both for a long, long time. This isn't an end to that.

peace & love
peace & love
peace & love

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quotes on Homosexuality

The next time someone asks you, "Hey, howdja get to be a homosexual anyway?" tell them, "Homosexuals are chosen first on talent, then interview... then the swimsuit and evening gown competition pretty much gets rid of the rest of them." ~Karen Williams

"god made only a few gifted people, the rest are heterosexuals" -unknown

Why can't they have gay people in the army? Personally, I think they are just afraid of a thousand guys with M16s going, "Who'd you call a faggot?" ~John Stewart

It always seemed to me a bit pointless to disapprove of homosexuality. It's like disapproving of rain. ~Francis Maude

When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one. ~Epitaph of Leonard P. Matlovich, 1988

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? ~Ernest Gaines

"Why do we have to recycle the old conflicts so many times: first we fight about slavery, then segregation, then gender, and now sexual orientation, while gender identity is in the wings waiting? Why can't people look at the phrase 'liberty and justice for all' and simply accept that 'all' means 'all.' " - Anonymous

"The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." -Lynn Lavner

If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in queer to work: "Hello. Can't work today, still queer." ~Robin Tyler

Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality. -James Baldwin

There's this illusion that homosexuals have sex and heterosexuals fall in love. That's completely untrue. Everybody wants to be loved. ~Boy George

Soldiers who are not afraid of guns, bombs, capture, torture, or death say they are afraid of homosexuals. Clearly we should not be used as soldiers we should be used as weapons. ~Letter to the Editor, The Advocate

You could move. ~Abigail Van Buren of "Dear Abby," in response to a reader who complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and wanted to know what he could do to improve the quality of the neighborhood.

More Fun SPAM Messages

necati kupczyk sent: McCain Chooses Paris Hilton to be Running Mate
Not after her video response to his attack ad he didn't!

niyazi batchelder
sent: Paris Hilton Donates Income To Children's Hospital From Mini-Me Sex Tape
She had sex with him too?? Not that I did! But, his ex-girlfriend did and the tape got out...

Milap olasanski sent: Paris Hilton To Operate New Atom Smasher
Paris is really getting around, isn't she??

raimond ahmedd
added this: Paris Hilton Returned By Aliens
Was she ever gone?

This from Hesam valentine seems almost believable: Britney heartbroken as Diana's Butler beds Winehouse

alvin gil sent: Satisfy all big cock lovers with Penis Enlarge Patch
There's a patch for just about everything now, isn't there?

vilceanu schuetter
adds this bit of weirdness: Britney Spears Gives Foreskin Museum Amazing Gift
Some things are better left unknown, don't you think?

Coda steinfort's message was something I've long wanted to know: Britney Spears Confession: 'I'm the Father of Anna Nicole Smith's Baby!'
Now I can sleep at night. It also marks the first time I have any real interest in lesbian sex.

And if that wasn't Britney enough, champ perreault adds this: Bald Britney Spears Says Shaved Head Goes Well With Shaved Vagina
It's the symmetry, you know.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Absolutely Beautiful

Poem credited to Jack Benny in a letter to his wife, Mary, telling her about the roses he had been sending her each year:

Each year he sent her roses,
and the note would always say,
I love you even more this year,
than last year on this day.
My love for you will always grow,
with every passing year.'

She knew this was the last time
that the roses would appear.
She thought, he ordered roses
in advance before this day.
Her loving husband did not know,
that he would pass away.

He always liked to do things early,
way before the time.
Then, if he got too busy,
everything would work out fine.
She trimmed the stems and
placed them in a very special vase.

Then, sat the vase beside
the portrait of his smiling face.
She would sit for hours,
In her husband's favorite chair.
While staring at his picture,
and the roses sitting there.

A year went by, and it was
to live without her mate.
With loneliness and solitude,
that had become her fate.

Then, the very hour,
The doorbell rang, and there
were roses sitting by her door.

She brought the roses in,
and then just looked at them in shock.
Then, went to get the telephone,
to call the florist shop.

The owner answered, and she asked him,
if he would explain, Why would someone would
do this to her, causing her such pain?

'I know your husband passed away,
more than a year ago,'
The owner said,
'I knew you'd call, and you would want to know.

The flowers you received today,
were paid for in advance.
Your husband always planned ahead,
he left nothing to chance.

There is a standing order,
that I have on file down here,
And he has paid, well in advance,
you'll get them every year.

There also is another thing,
that I think you should know,
He wrote a special little card...he did this years
ago. Then, should ever I find out that he's no longer here,
that's the card that should be sent to you the following year.'

She thanked him and hung up the phone, her tears now flowing hard.
Her fingers shaking,
as she slowly reached to get the card.

Inside the card, she saw that he
had written her a note.
Then, as she stared in total silence,

this is what he wrote...

'Hello my love, I know it's been a year
since I've been gone.
I hope it hasn't been too hard for you to
I know it must be lonely,
and the pain is very real.
Or if it was the other way,
I know how I would feel.

The love we shared made everything
so beautiful in life.
I loved you more than words can say,
you were the perfect wife.
You were my friend and lover,
you fulfilled my every need.
I know it's only been a year,
but please try not to grieve.
I want you to be happy,
even when you shed your tears.

That is why the roses will be sent to you for years.
When you get these roses,
think of all the happiness that we had together,
and how both of us were blessed.

I have always loved you and
I know I always will.
But, my love, you must go on,
you have some living still.

Please...try to find happiness,
while living out your days.
I know it is not easy,
but I hope you find some ways.

The roses will come every year,
and they will only stop,
When your door's not answered,
when the florist stops to knock.

He will come five times that day,
in case you have gone out.
But after his last visit,
he will know without a doubt!
To take the roses to the place,
where I've instructed him
and place the roses where we are,
together once again.

If that doesn't bring a tear to your eyes or lump in your throat, I don't know what will.

I found this here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Exotic Candidate Is The One With Eight Houses

This from Bob Cesca in the Huffington Post:

"It is possible," Gore Vidal once wrote, "for any citizen with time to spare, and a canny eye, to work out what is actually going on, but for the many there is not time, and the network news is the only news even though it may not be news at all but only a series of flashing fictions."

The barbecue media script for this election, a work of unabridged fiction and co-written by the modern Rove Republicans, has crow-barred Senator Obama into the incongruous frame of the exotic effete elitist, irrespective of the fact that, on all counts, he's absolutely none of those things. It's the same script that's been wheeled out during the last several presidential elections -- designed as a way of sculpting reality into a neatly packaged prime time dramatic narrative that both reinforces and exploits fear-based stereotypes.

This week, for example, Cokie Roberts and Michael Crowley, along with a creepy monster squad of Republican stalkers, have been trying to peg Senator Obama's vacation in Hawaii as proof that the script is accurate. Hawaii, they say, is only for exotic elitists. Senator Obama is in Hawaii. Therefore, Senator Obama is an exotic elitist. See how that works?

Never mind that this Hawaii-is-exotic-and-elitist gripe came from a not-elitist millionaire with the not-exotic name "Cokie." This Cokie phenomenon is a solid example of the script's paradoxical, fictitious awfulness. Despite similar griping from the McBush Republicans, the truth is that Senator McCain is far and away the more elitist and exotic of the two candidates. Fact. No bias here.

Let's start with Hawaii and do the list.

Senator McCain met and fell in love with his current wife, Cindy Hensley, while on vacation in... exotic and elitist Hawaii. He was 42, she was 24. He was still married to his first wife at the time, who was disabled as the result of a car accident, by the way. The whole scene -- Hawaii, cheating on a disabled wife with a super-rich beer heiress -- is just about as exotic and elitist as it gets according to the standards of the script.

So... Cokie?

For the sake of contrast, Senator Obama and Mrs. Obama's biography as a couple is about as ordinary and traditional as Americana itself. No weird cheating or ugly divorces. No trophy heiress nearly half his age. Just an ordinary American love story. How the barbecue media and far-right talk radio has managed to spin the Obamas as the African-American version of Mickey & Mallory is one of the most wicked examples of dishonesty from this dark ride -- worthy of the most backwards of Karl Rove's non-reality-based conspiracies against the truth.

Cindy McCain's beer distributorship pulls in upwards of $300 million annually. Hardly relatable to the middle and working class families who are losing their homes to foreclosure -- one of many consequences of the last 30 years of the Republican war on the middle class. So it's not a stretch to suggest that being married to a woman whose family business is worth a quarter of a billion dollars is -- what's the word? -- unusual? Atypical? Irregular? How about exotic?

Such cash allows for certain not-elitist and not-exotic perks. A private jet for example. According to Mrs. McCain, getting around Arizona is hard work so thank goodness the McCains have their own jet. Just like you and me and the Obamas, right? But maybe it's unfair to badger the McCains about their personal jet airplane. How else are they going to travel around to their eight houses (this one, for example). Walk? Drive a car? That's just silly talk. Senator McCain would totally ruin his not-elitist and not-exotic $520 Italian shoes engaging in such an effort. Then what would he wear while he's hosting SNL or visiting the set of a movie he's appearing in? Jelly shoes from Payless? Yeah right. Try installing Senator McCain's lifts inside of those hideous things.

The only truly "ordinary" thing about Senator McCain is that his first name is "John" (there are just over 5 million guys named "John" in the United States, so they win this one). He's also white. Really, really white. Like, squishy subterranean cave dweller white.

Yet irrespective of what white, upper-class Republicans or Mark Penn or Very Serious Mark Halperin or Pat Buchanan might think, Senator Obama quite literally looks like 21st Century America. Mixed-culture, mixed-heritage, middle class roots. Senator Obama, in terms of his racial composition and family history, has more in common with average Americans than just about any modern Republican presidential nominee.

The only way he's not is if somehow we've been transported into an episode of Leave It To Beaver -- or if by "America" the Republicans and the barbecue media mean to suggest "Kentucky." Even with that as a qualification, half of Senator Obama's racial composition is rooted in rural Kansas. His parents were divorced. He barely knew his biological father.

Now, Cokie, drive down (or have your driver take you) to the nearest Wal-Mart. Line up 100 people and ask them whether they can relate to a man who owns eight houses and whose wife is a gazillionaire, or if they can relate to a man who represents the American melting pot -- a man who just recently paid off his student loans -- a man who was raised by a single mother -- a man who is (shock horror!) still happily married to his only wife. Then drive back (or have your driver take you) down to ABC's Newseum studio this Sunday and look directly into the This Week cameras tell us that Senator Obama is the more exotic or elitist of the two candidates.

And that goes for you, too, Buchanan. (Pat Buchanan has recently been engaging in some concern-trolling by wondering aloud, "Why can't Senator Obama close the deal?" This is one of Buchanan's more subversive race-baiting tricks. The answer he's begging is very likely his favorite lamentation about the senator: "Because he's too exotic.")

The modern Republicans have hijacked the label "real American" and stapled it onto the foreheads of a platoon of phonies. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, John Sidney McCain, Rush Limbaugh. Hell, even the poster boy for this hillbilly dark ride, Larry the Cable Guy, is a fraud in redneck drag. And the very serious barbecue media has accepted this trickery as reality because it fits perfectly into their antiquated election year narrative.

Throughout the course of this seemingly interminable election cycle, it's been well-documented by various blogotubers that the key to winning this election will be to fight the barbecue media's script -- to debunk the "series of flashing fictions." I would suggest that reversing this "exotic elitist" frame is, to borrow a familiar phrase, a central front in the war on the barbecue media. In the case of Senator Obama, reality is on our side. It's simply a matter of repeating the reality until the script is slowly immolated and the truth rises to the surface. And in the process, perhaps the barbecue media will begin to realize that the modern liberal movement has more in common with "average Americans" than any fraud or flimflam artist the Republicans have dropped onto the stage.

I find it odd that Americans can't seem to see through the misinformation spread by Cokie Roberts and the other talking heads. Sure, John McCain was a POW. That and his name, are where his credibility as an average guy end. Otherwise, like current poster boy for infidelity John Edwards, McCain also had an affair with another woman, and that woman is now his wife. Obama has just one house (like most people, if theirs hasn't been lost to foreclosure), and only recently was able to pay off the last of his student loans. OK, he lived a couple years in Indonesia as a child. A lot of army brats live overseas for a couple years of their lives as well and no one ever complains about that.

I also cannot fathom why the media believes Obama's visit to his grandmother is so elitist. Is it because she lives in Hawaii? She's always lived there! Lots of people live there. Is it expensive to go there? Yes. But since his grandmother can't fly out, he has no choice but to fly there to see her.

Maybe Cokie and Co. should do their jobs and report the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY of a story (that's called "reporting") and let the public decide, instead of deciding for us how we should interpret the story by hiding or omitting certain facts.

As Dragnet's Joe Friday always said: Just the facts, ma'am.