September, 2008:

Reinstalling Windows XP

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I spend a fair amount of my time helping many people with their personal computers (mostly laptops, but desktops as well). A friend of ours noted that I had my own Computer Ministry a while ago. Lois liked the term and printed T-Shirts labeled Pastor Pedhazur, with the names of many in my flock. 🙂

Among the many people I help are our cul-de-sac neighbors (I support the mom, dad and teenage daughter) with whom we’ve been good friends for 18+ years.

The Dad’s current laptop is a Dell E1405. It’s a nice small-to-midsize laptop running XP. When he bought it, it came with 1GB of RAM (two 512MB sticks) and an 80GB disk (with only 55GB of usable space, we’ll get to why in a bit).

It ran well for a while, but started giving him a bunch of trouble when his teenage daughter used it a few times (possibly before she got her own Dell for Christmas, or possibly because it was simply more convenient one day for whatever reason). Being a teenager, she visited sites she shouldn’t have, installed stuff (wittingly or otherwise), and the machine was infected with a number of viruses and spyware programs.

I used to fix their machines in their house, and chat with them while I was working away. There were many days (mostly on weekends) where I’d be there for upwards of five hours. I didn’t mind, because (like I said above), we’re good friends. But, I tend to play poker mostly on weekends now, so when they have a problem, I tend to pick up their machines (or they drop them off) and I work on them in my house.

So, a month ago I picked up his machine and spent the day cleaning off all of the viruses. That went reasonably smoothly. I also deleted the daughter’s account (with their permission), now that she definitely has her own full-time laptop (yes, I previously had to clean hers as well, but she’s kept it pretty clean since then).

Even though the cleansing went well, I noticed the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) a number of times. In fact, I could provoke it at will (if waiting a full hour each time counts as at will). It felt like a bad memory chip, since it failed in the same way every time, but I couldn’t be sure.

I have a dozen or so utility CDs which I can boot off that have various tools on them to help me with my ministry. I pulled out one that had a variety of memory tests, booted from it, and let it run for a few hours. No joy, I couldn’t provoke any failures. Then I pulled one of the RAM chips out, and ran the one-hour program, and indeed, it still failed.

I then swapped the memory chips, and reran the program, and it ran to completion. I also moved that chip to the secondary slot, and it continued to work, so it appeared that neither slot was bad either! Aha, had to be a bad RAM chip, right? Perhaps, we’ll find out in a minute or two… 😉

As an aside, Dell puts the second slot under the keyboard, and the machinations you have to go through to get to that slot are nerve-wracking and unwieldy. Of course, now that I’ve swapped chips for him numerous times, I’m a daredevil at doing it and can swap the chips in my sleep… 🙂

He could have run on 512MB, but that’s not a lot of headroom for Windows XP. Instead, the next day, we ordered two 1GB modules. The following weekend I took the machine again, and put in the memory modules. I reran the long program, and it failed at the one hour mark, again… 🙁

I pulled one chip, reran the program, and it worked, so it appeared that perhaps one of the slots was bad (or flaky), but at least he was back to 1GB of memory, not a total loss. I returned the machine to him.

A week later, I called to ask how it was running. Sheepishly, he admitted that it was crashing a ton, but that it came back each time (in fact, it auto-rebooted), and he was limping along, able to check his email, etc., but not really use the machine for extended periods. Clearly, he felt badly imposing, but I felt badly that he didn’t!

We were leaving for VA that day, so I told him I’d check it out when we returned, which was a few days ago.

My plan was to reinstall Windows XP from scratch to be sure that it wasn’t a deep software corruption on his system. If a fresh install still showed regular crashes, then he had to have some kind of hardware problem.

I picked up the machine on Friday morning. I have a number of ways that I back machines up (mine and others) depending on the situation. For ultra-safety and complete backups, I tend to use a commercial program called EZ Gig II (it’s a custom Linux distro with some sort of packaging of a dd-like program, though not exactly that). The program came with an external disk drive kit that I bought a while ago, and I’ve been very satisfied with it. There are many free programs that accomplish the same thing.

However, I didn’t want to use that program for this task, because it creates a blob that can’t access individual files. You can restore the entire disk to another partition, but not copy over one file that you just forgot you’d need, etc. Still, I wanted a full backup, and I didn’t want to just copy all of the files.

I pulled out another of my trusty utility disks. This one is the BartPE CD, an excellent collection of Windows utilities on a bootable CD. The advantage of this over a Linux bootable CD is that you are really running Windows, so all disk activity is virtually guaranteed to work with NTFS filesystems, including writing. Don’t flame me, Linux has gotten really good at this too (with NTFS-3g in particular), and I do use it, reliably, but BartPE comes with a specific utility which I really wanted to use for this specific task!

That utility is DriveImage XML. This is very cool software, that works exactly as advertised. There are two reasons why I use EZ Gig II more frequently than this. EZ Gig is way faster and EZ Gig will allow me to store multiple images of the same drive on the same target (backup) drive. DriveImage XML is slower, and doesn’t let me name the backups, so it’s less flexible.

That said, it has a feature that makes it way better than EZ Gig for the task I needed, which is that it stores a map of the data it backed up in a separate XML file, and every file (or directory, etc.) can be restored (or rather extracted) separately.

So, I booted the Bart PE CD and ran DriveImage XML and backed up the drive to an external hard drive. I was now ready to reinstall Windows XP. For years, no one has been better than these folks at keeping every bit of stuff that came with any PC they purchased. It took them 30 seconds to find the original CDs and manual.

But, I mentioned above that the disk had 55 usable GB on it. That’s because it had a hidden restore partition on it as well. I found the key combination to boot off of it from the manual (actually, the online manual at Dell’s site, since it was easier to search that). When I booted the machine, I pressed Ctrl-F11 and was presented with the Recovery Menu.

I chose a full reinstall. The machine chugged along, and a litte bit later, it was like new from the factory (bloatware too), including Microsoft Office which they had paid for separately. Cool.

I immediately deleted all of the bloatware and proceeded to bring the system back up-to-date with Windows Update. Here, I made a very critical error! Early on, I allowed Windows XP SP3 to be installed by Windows Update. While it completed correctly, after it was installed, other critical updates could not proceed (including updates to IE 7). I’m guessing that the system was simply in an inconsistent state.

I was tempted to start all over, and reinstall XP from the recovery partition again. Then I decided to try something I’ve been aware of, but have never attempted. I picked a Restore Point from the Help and Support menu in Windows, and picked the restore point that was automatically set before SP3 was installed. In effect, I was rolling back the SP3 install.

That worked, and I was left with only one program that I had previously deleted to delete again. I then forced a new save, so that I could roll back again (without needing to delete this extra program), just in case.

I then performed all of the updates in XP, each time skipping SP3. Only when SP3 was the only update left did I allow it to install. Perfect. I then ran the program that always provoked the memory error (this time with 2GB of RAM back in the sytem!). It ran flawlessly. I did a bunch of other things, and never got the BSOD! Joy!

So, it turns out that it was indeed a deep software problem, and reinstalling Windows fixed it. He’s now got a very nice sytem, with a nice memory upgrade, clean of anyone elses stuff (family and malware included).

After getting it running, I put in the Bart PE CD again (this time not booting from it, just inserting it while logged in), and ran DriveImage XML again. I was able to pull over all of his files (Documents, Settings, etc.) and check what programs were installed as well.

He’s up and running now and I returned the machine to him yesterday afternoon. I had the machine in my possession for roughly 26 hours, but it was side-by-side with mine, and I worked on Friday, played poker on Saturday, etc., without losing a beat on my own stuff. Pretty good result all around! 🙂

Incontrovertible Logic

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In my last post, I said that tomorrow I would take apart the Sally Quinn article line by line. It turns out that tomorrow has come a little early today. 🙂

Instead of literally line-by-line, I’ll quote her a paragraph at a time, to make my cut-and-paste work slightly less tedious.

Palin’s Pregnancy Problem

That’s the title folks. OK, Quinn has framed the entire discussion of whether she’s fit to be the VP in terms of her teen-age daughter’s pregnancy. No hyperbole here.

My first reaction was shock. Then anger. John McCain chose a running mate simply because she is a woman and one who appealed to the Republican’s conservative evangelical base. Now, with news that Palin’s 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant, McCain’s pick may not even find support among “family values” voters.

OK, Quinn professes to know exactly why McCain picked Palin. After all, to quote her directly, it was simply because she is a woman. I’ll give her one piece of big credit, at least she didn’t say that he picked her simply because she is a woman, and would therefore win him the Clinton Democrats…

But, uh oh, he screwed it up, because evangelicals will punish Palin (and by extension, McCain) for being a real person, with real-life issues to deal with. Just because you believe in “family values”, doesn’t mean you believe you can (or want to!) control every aspect of your children’s lives. Show me an evangelical with children, and we won’t have to argue that point.

As an aside, one would hope (and should assume) that when evangelicals come to know Palin, even if they honestly believe that she personally erred in how she raised her children, they would forgive her her sins, for everything else that she believes in, which they do as well. Forgiveness is a pretty fundamental tenet, no?

It has happened before, of course. Geraldine Ferraro was chosen as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 1984 because she was a woman, but that was 24 years ago. I thought we were past this. Apparently not. McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate is a cynical and calculated move. It is a choice made to try to win an election. It is a political gimmick. And it’s very high risk. I find it insulting to women, to the Republican party, and to the country.

Well, I don’t have anything new to say here. Clearly, she knows exactly why McCain chose Palin. No wiggle room here. It’s a gimmick. That said, why would he take such a risk on a gimmick? Why would he do it knowing the pregnancy issue would come out a few days later? Why would he do it when it might enrage pro-choice women? Why pick someone who would both turn off the base and the supposedly available Clinton women at the same time?

Answer, he wouldn’t. It’s a big risk, Quinn is certainly right about that, but she’s wrong about the reasons for the choice, or the risk. When Obama picked Biden, McCain no longer had to take any risks. He could have done one of two things, easily:

  1. Choose someone with tremendous credentials in the financial world (Mitt Romney comes to mind), mirroring his supposed weakness on the economy with Obama’s on foreign policy
  2. Pick someone who directly (and uncontroversially) plays to the base (perhaps Huckabee, but there are likely less controversial choices)

He couldn’t have been attacked for being weak in making an economic choice, or the argument would boomerang on Obama for needing Biden.

And yet, he chose boldly. Quinn disguises her contempt for Palin as a candidate by claiming that McCain was pandering to evangelicals, rather than to women (or more specifically, Clinton women!). And yet, the disguise is thinly veiled, as she leads the last sentence above with I find it insulting to women.

This is nothing against Palin. From what little we know about her, she seems to be a bright, attractive, impressive person. She certainly has been successful in her 44 years. But is she ready to be president?

Huh? Wait! Thankfully, it’s nothing against Palin. Whew. For a minute there, I thought Quinn had an axe to grind. Nope. Instead, there are only two things at play here:

  1. Quinn knows exactly why McCain picked Palin, and she doesn’t like the reason. It doesn’t matter whether he picked the right person for the wrong reason. If he had the wrong reason (and there’s no doubt in Quinn’s mind that McCain is nefarious in his choice), then it simply doesn’t matter whether she would be a good choice or not.
  2. But is she ready to be president? Whoa. What? Quinn isn’t as cock-sure that Palin isn’t ready to president? No need to slow down the attack until we at least have some evidence that she isn’t. Of course, there’s no doubt that Obama is ready. After all, he’s a man!

And now we learn the 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. She and the father of the child plan to marry. This may be a hard one for the Republican conservative family-values crowd to swallow. Of course, this can happen in any family. But it must certainly raise the question among the evangelical base about whether Sarah Palin has been enough of a hands-on mother.

Thankfully, she softened this horror of a situation, with Of course, this can happen in any family. Whew. For a second, I thought it could only happen in Alaska. It’s pretty cold up there in the winter, so there’s not much else to do ya know. A more vigilant mother would have nipped that in the bud, and evangelicals won’t let her get away with that kind of parenting. No need to check her credentials on how she’s governed, just see whether she’s turned out a bad apple or not.

It’s certainly good for Democrats that Presidents aren’t judged on how their brothers turn out, right? 😉

Sheesh. Is she running for mother-of-the-year or VP? Oh wait, Quinn thinks evangelicals can’t tell the difference. Dogma is dogma. Perhaps, if we whip them up a bit more, we can get them to burn Palin at the stake. What do you think? Are you with me?

McCain claims he knew about the pregnancy, and was not at all concerned. Why not? Not only do we have a woman with five children, including an infant with special needs, but a woman whose 17-year-old child will need her even more in the coming months. Not to mention the grandchild. This would inevitably be an enormous distraction for a new vice president (or president) in a time of global turmoil. Not only in terms of her job, but from a media standpoint as well.

Wow. This would be better broken up into sentences, but let’s just go for the whole chunk. First, obviously, McCain is lying (he’s a well-known liar!). Using loaded words like claims he knew don’t even pretend to allow for the fact that, indeed, he knew.

One of her children is a special needs child. Can you believe that Trig survived the entire evening without his mother holding him? It was appalling that he was left alone in the corner all night, with no one to love him, but hey, McCain needs to win an election, and by golly, Palin will sacrifice Trig to the cause.

But wait, soon her 17-year-old daughter will need her even more. I wonder what her soon-to-be husband’s view of that will be? Everyone loves an in-your-face mother-in-law, no? You single moms out there without a support system, unable to count on your mother for full-time nurturing, better give up now. You simply can’t make it. Quinn has spoken!

Of course, under any circumstances, Sarah Palin needs to take direct day-to-day responsibility for raising the coming grandchild. What grandmother doesn’t have that responsibility?

Still, none of the above really matters. Quinn nails the real problem when she correctly notes that the media runs the country. After all, it will be an enormous distractionfrom a media standpoint as well. Well, we certainly wouldn’t want that!

Quinn is certainly correct in one assumption. If Palin were to indeed become the VP, the elite media in this country would be more interested in asking her work-life balance questions, and how it is that she can live with herself being a derelict mom, rather than discussing all the global turmoil.

McCain’s cynical choice has created a dilemma for many women. For still-angry Hillary Clinton voters, they will have to decide if they want to vote against their concscience and political interests by voting to elect a Republican woman who’s even more conservative than McCain.

This is simply laugh-out-loud funny. First, he chose her to appeal to the evangelicals, but, he’s so cynical that he simultaneously chose her to appeal to still-angy Hillary Clinton voters. The answer is simple. They won’t, and McCain never thought they would. If his target audience was still-angy Clinton voters, he would have been better off choosing Lieberman. Who cares if his base would have stayed home. He’s cynical enough not to care…

Evangelical women also will have to decide if they will vote against their conscience by voting to put the mother of young children in a job outside the home that will demand so much of her time and energy.

This is the first point that isn’t completely nonsensical. It’s possible that some evangelicals (not just women) will prefer not to see a woman as VP. What is unlikely to matter is whether her daughter is pregnant or not, or whether she has a special needs child. Quinn purposely muddies the water with that argument. Still, it’s true that there are those (including a number of evangelicals) who simply believe a woman’s place is in the home, not at work, VP or otherwise. One has to wonder whether Quinn is among those people, given all of her arguments in support of Palin being a poor choice…

Southern Baptist leaders like Richard Land and Al Mohler have praised McCain’s choice. But these are the same men who support this statement from the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message:

“A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.”

Sorry for the two paragraph quote, they are obviously connected. This is a continuation of the previous point, and is not necessarily off base. That said, it’s wildly disingenuous of her to claim that Palin could have been a great choice to evangelicals, but for the pregnant daughter, and then trot out the above dogma, which would disqualify her whether her daughter was pregnant or not.

I’m agreeing that some evangelicals will have trouble voting for her (even though she’s not the top of the ticket), but Quinn frames it in a particularly egregious and disingenuous way, trying to inflame, not inform. I’d go so far as to say that her target for that quote is Independents, who she wants to scare by sharing the Southern Baptist dogma!

Palin’s lack of experience and her family situation are both valid and vital considerations here, especially when she will be running with a 72-year-old presidential candidate who has suffered four bouts of a deadly cancer.

Her family situation is now a vital consideration. If she were to become President, there’s little doubt that she would ignore the country’s immediate needs to wipe up that spill on the kitchen floor. Seriously, how would she choose between them?

I truly hate to stoop to the moral relativism that is the norm in today’s politics, so I use this as an example, not to equate the two, but wasn’t the country a little more at risk when Bill Clinton was playing hanky panky in the oval office? Perhaps that wasn’t a distraction. It certainly wasn’t vital.

And by the way, how can McCain call Barack Obama unqualified, inexperienced, not ready from Day One, not able to be commander in chief, and then put someone like Palin in a position that is a heartbeat away from the pesidency?

So, Obama is the President on day one, but she’s a hearbeat away, and it’s exactly the same thing. Still, since Quinn also said she doesn’t believe Palin is ready to be president (she doesn’t capitalize it, so I’ll respect her choice), does she therefore agree with McCain that Obama isn’t either?

Where would you rather have the inexperience in the ticket, on top, or bottom? At least Palin would have a heartbeat of time to learn on the job, without the arrogance of being the man (both literally, and figuratively) in the relationship between the Prez and the Veep.

I don’t blame Palin for accepting the position. How could she or anyone turn down such an opportunity? I was once in a similar position. After four years of reporting at the Washington Post, I was chosen by CBS to be the first network anchorwoman in America, to co-anchor their Morning News. I had never been on TV a day in my life. I was 32. There were women at CBS who were much more qualified than I was and certainly other men. They chose me because they wanted a woman. I didn’t even want the job, but I didn’t feel I could turn it down. Of course it was a disaster. I lasted four months. I wasn’t ready for Network TV. Palin isn’t ready to be leader of the free world.

Finally, the Truth. First, the lesser of the two. Up front, Quinn asks whether Palin is ready. Thankfully, by this point, she’s convinced herself that Palin isn’t ready to lead the free world. At least we don’t have to worry about that dilemma any longer.

What does this boil down to? Quinn failed miserably when she was called to higher service, and therefore, Palin (and quite possibly no other woman either) will ever be able to achieve more as a result. Poor little Quinn knew in heart that she wasn’t up to the task, but just couldn’t resist the fruit of the forbidden tree. She paid the penalty, and by golly, so will Palin.

Still, her logic defies reason. They wanted a woman, but there were women at CBS who were much more qualified than I was. So, once again, some cynical man at CBS had a nefarious reason for picking the underqualified Quinn to support his evil mission to achieve higher ratings. Why oh why, would they pass over a more qualified woman to snag Sally Quinn? I’m sincerely hoping that it wasn’t McCain who was running the News division at CBS at the time, or Quinn may indeed be correct about his judgment…

The calculation on the part of the McCain people is clear. Palin’s candidacy could draw some of the 18-million Hillary Clinton voters who are not happy she lost and who want to vote for a woman on a national ticket. Palin is not of Washington and that will be appealing to some. Most importantly for McCain, Palin is decidedly anti-abortion and that will keep the Republican base under control and appeal to some evangelicals who might be considering Obama. She has a son who is headed to Iraq.

Wow, the kitchen sink. Again mixing how she is the perfect person to appeal to everyone. Now Quinn takes it a step further. Palin will keep the Replublican base under control. Cool, Palin must indeed be super woman (small caps). She better start cracking the whip now. Oh yeah, she has a son headed to Iraq, pick her, quick, pick her, before he goes.

The fact that McCain served isn’t enough for him, he needs to lean on the fact that her son enlisted. But wait! You say that McCain himself has a son that served in Iraq, so he definitely doesn’t need Palin’s creds there, right? Apparently not. We need to sympathize that a mommy is worrying about her son in Iraq, to truly understand how committed these war mongers are…

Those are positives for a McCain-Palin ticket, but what about the negatives?

Haha. With positives like that, who needs negatives? I guess Quinn does, just for balance… 😉

She has no national political experience, especially in the area of foreign policy. That fact that she is not of Washington also will be difficult for her. Barbara Bush once told me that her husband had been a congressman, UN ambassador, ambassador to China, and head of the CIA and they thought they were prepared for the vice presidency (under President Reagan). But she said nothing can prepare you for the criticism and scrutiny of being in the White House. Sarah Palin is not prepared for that.

Yes, she seemed completely unprepared last night for all the criticism that’s being leveled against her…

Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is the mother of five children, one of them a four-month-old with Down Syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make? I’m the mother of only one child, a special needs child who is grown now. I know how much of my time and energy I devoted to his care. He always had to be my first priority. Of course women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I’ve done both. Yes, other women in public office have children. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has five children, but she didn’t get heavily involved in politics until they were older. A mother’s role is different from a father’s.

I dealt with this issue squarely in my previous post. I’ll just repeat that it’s so nice that Quinn puts everyone else in her own shoes. She seems incapable of putting herself in others’ shoes. No wonder she didn’t last in her big break on TV… No one else gets credit for anything that Quinn couldn’t accomplish on her own.

Additionally, she closes the above with A mother’s role is different from a father’s. Indeed. However, what happens when there isn’t a mother in the picture? Joe Biden lived through a tragic ordeal when his wife and daughter died in a car accident. As a single parent, was he irresponsible for continuing his political career? Obviously not! I wonder whether Quinn understands that…

These are dangerous and trying times for the entire world. This is no time to to play gender politics. The stakes are too high. And given McCain’s age and history of health issues, the stakes for choosing a qualified vice presidential candidate have never been higher.

Agreed. So, stop playing gender politics. All of Quinn’s reasons (except for the experience one, which is a red herring because of Obama’s lack of experience) have to do with the fact that Palin is a woman. Don’t blame McCain for seeing beyond Palin’s gender, when Quinn, a woman, can’t, due to her own past failings…

Maybe this will work. Maybe McCain will win with Sarah Palin as his running mate. But if he does, it will be for all the wrong reasons.

And, let’s not forget, it won’t mean that his judgment was good. He will have gotten lucky. I predict that Sally Quinn will become the number one poker player in the world, since she can see into the mind and soul of men, and know exactly what they are thinking and why. It’s a very special talent, that could be better put to use at the poker tables, than in a respected newspaper…

Monkey Tail Politics

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I haven’t been posting too actively lately. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, and not because I haven’t had the time to say it. Mostly, it’s been because I’ve had a ton to say, and whenever I waited (for whatever reason) a bit to say it, it felt too trivial to post after the fact.

Next week, we have four concerts on consecutive nights, so there will be steady blogging, for sure. Therefore, I’ll take this opportunity (hopefully, in a timely fashion), to share a few thoughts on Sarah Palin as John McCain’s choice for VP.

I could likely type for the next few hours (literally) and not scratch the surface of all the thoughts I have on everything that’s swirling around this choice. I’ll try really hard to boil it down to a few points. For your sake, I hope I achieve that goal. 😉

If you know me, then you know that I’m still a 6-year-old at heart (seriously). So, I’ll start by summarizing what this pick has done to many (dare I say most?) Democrats:

Oh the monkey wrapped his tail around the flagpole, to see his…

The alternative image I have is that of a Whirling Dervish, but I really didn’t want to insult Whirling Dervishes the world over.

Basically, many Democrats/Liberals (and some Republicans/Conservatives) have fallen into a number of obvious traps in their responses to the announcement of Sarah Palin (that’s Governor Palin to you!) as the Republican nominee for VP.

She’s been attacked so many times (in so few days) on so many issues, it would take me the aforementioned hours just to document the various attacks, let alone analyze the meaningful ones. So, I’ll restrict myself to a very few broad categories of attacks.

  1. McCain picked her only because she’s a woman, thinking he can pick up disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters
  2. She should have declined, because she won’t be able to be a good mother and good VP at the same time
  3. She has no foreign policy experience (some knock all of her experience) and McCain is not likely to make it through to the end of his term

To reiterate, many more attacks on many more levels, but for this post, we’ll stick to the above.

Starting with #1 above. Because there was/is a perception out there that some meaningful number of disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters might be in play, McCain pandered (that’s the essence of the charge) to them (all women?) by hurriedly, foolishly, unvettingly (sorry, I know that’s not a word) and irresponsibly picking Sarah Palin.

The irresponsible part comes in under the guise of questioning McCain’s judgment, in the first crucial decision that he’s had to make in this race. How do they weasel out of that charge if/when she acquits herself? Will they be forced to recognize his bold/visionary choice, or is that simply impossible, even though they were obviously caught by surprise and reacted before they knew much about her…

Let’s analyze this a bit. There were 18 million Clinton supporters. They weren’t all women, and they weren’t all located together, in one giant swing state. Most polls show that the majority of them have strongly committed to Obama (is anyone surprised?). Those numbers have (and should have!) swelled after both Clinton’s spoke at last week’s DNC. The catharsis was complete.

For one minor example, Hillary Clinton carried NY State in the primary. Therefore, it’s logical to assume that some reasonable number of the 18 million supporters are in this very large state. Does anyone think McCain has the slightest shot of carrying NY come November? Even if a goodly number of Clinton’s supporters vote for him? I don’t think so either…

Next, for some people (not just women), the right to choose is so critical (no, I’m not suggesting they don’t care about other issues) that they would never consider voting for anyone who is staunchly pro-life. Presumably, a reasonable percentage of Clinton’s supporters fall into this camp (also probably more heavily weighted toward her female backers). So, when McCain chooses a staunch pro-life advocate, do his critics really believe he is stupid enough to believe that a pro-choice woman will vote for him just because he picked a woman, especially one who is so outspoken on the issue?

Believing that is insulting all around. It insults McCain’s intelligence (specifically, my point above). It insults his integrity (implying that he would be willing to endanger the country and sell his principles, for the hope that women would be fooled into voting for him just because he selected a woman). It insults Palin, because it requires the assumption that she is a bad pick, without any facts (at the time that the accusations started rolling).

It also insults the insulters, because it makes otherwise (often) intelligent people make very stupid statements (and assumptions), in a rush to be on the record, and to sway the electorate toward their candidate. The fact that many of these insulters are theoretically journalists, and quite a number of them prominent women (Sally Quinn, Maureen Dowd, Campbell Brown), just demeans them all the more…

#2 will be quicker. I’ll give one example for now. Sally Quinn wrote a lengthy, and nearly 100% nonsensical article. I would enjoy taking it apart, line by line, but I will save that for tomorrow (hopefully), just for my own personal enjoyment. It’s hard to choose one specific line, but for now, I’ll stick with this one:

Her first priority has to be her children.

Wow, really? I saw Sally Quinn interviewed last night on TV. Clearly, she wanted to make sure that this line wasn’t taken out of context (heaven forbid!). So, she wanted to make it clear that she fully supports working mothers (how wonderful). She even said she’s friends with many of them (how quaint, to associate yourself with real working moms…).

However, she draws the line at VP. You can’t effectively raise your family and take care of the nation’s business. Period. One rung below (one additional heartbeat from the Presidency) is fine (since she specifically calls out Nancy Pelosi as having five children as well). Thankfully, Nancy had the good sense to wait before entering politics. If Nancy got a call at 3am from one of her children or grandchildren (who cares how old they are?), she could obviously ignore them for the benefit of country. Hoo rah!

Is this really a position that prominent women want to espouse publicly? I’ll have more to say on this a little later on.

#3, she’s inexperienced, in particular when it comes to foreign policy. Another silly trap. Do they really want to get into an argument on this, when their candidate’s leading personal weakness is lack of experience, in particular on foreign policy? They think that they can Jujitsu the matter, by claiming that McCain ceded his lead on this issue by picking Palin. So, are they admitting that McCain is eminently more qualified to lead us internationally, but that’s he introduced a potential risk shoud he pass on prematurely?

OK, I’ve gone on long enough. Let’s take each of these issue and deal with them from a realistic point of view, not the insulting one.

#1 is easy, and obvious. McCain had much bigger problems with the Republican Base than worrying about picking off a handful of Clinton supporters. It’s well known that many people in the Republican party don’t think he’s conservative enough. Would a meaningful number of them vote for Obama? Not a chance (just like a meaningful number of Clinton supporters won’t vote for McCain!). But, would a meaningful number of them stay home on election day? Perhaps. It’s happened before.

So, he picked Sarah Palin to appeal to the base. She has a proven record on many of the issues dear to conservatives. I find it ironic that the other obvious choices (all men) would not have bolstered the support of the base as completely as Palin has and will. It has little to do with the fact that she’s a woman, and everything to do with her beliefs and accomplishments to date.

#2 is easy as well. It’s not only ironic, but actually moronic (is that more irony?) 😉 that women who feel that choice is the defining issue of our time (at least with regard to women’s rights), are thrilled to be on the record as claiming that Palin doesn’t have the choice to be VP when she has children to attend to.

Where to begin? Does she have the choice to be a bad mother if she wants to? Is it possible that her husband is a great father who can devote himself to the children, so that even if she chooses to be more of a VP than a mom, the kids won’t suffer? Is it possible that they have an additional support structure (paid for, or supplemented with relatives and friends) who could/would pitch in and help with the family?

No, it’s simply not possible. It’s perfectly acceptable for a woman to choose to kill her unborn child, purely for the purpose of pursuing a career (come now, don’t say that’s never the reason for an abortion!), but it’s an outrage for her to want to serve her country, at the highest level, if other women deem that she’s not capable of handling her motherly duties at the same time.

Man (or should that be Woman), this is one of the biggest loser arguments in the history of arguments…

#3 is no slam dunk, on either side of the argument. The fact that it’s murky should have Democrats avoiding it, but dive in they must. So, Obama claims to want to avoid all politics as usual, and wants to bring populism back to Washington. He disclaims the old guard. That is, until he realizes that he’s being effectively pegged as a foreign policy neophyte.

At that point, he actually does a mature thing, and appoints a Washington insider to the ticket. That insider brings with him a wealth of foreign policy experience. Good for Obama. It’s hardly what he was selling up front, but I applaud his ability to recognize a weakness, and correct it.

That said, it’s a direct admission that he indeed does lack the foreign policy credentials to have chosen a fresher face as his running mate. While we can all be glad that he will enjoy Biden’s counsel, in the end, it is Obama who would be the President, and we have no guarantees that once elected, he will accept Biden’s advice. After all, Biden voted for the war that Obama claims he never would have. What if Biden advises him that a future war is in our best interests?

More importantly, Palin is being knocked on foreign policy because she might become President (after all, people might disagree with McCain’s stances on the issues, but they’re not going to successfully argue that he’s ill-prepared from an experience point of view). If that’s a reasonable argument, then shouldn’t we be looking at Biden from the perspective of what if Obama passes away prematurely, and Biden ascends to the Presidency?

In that case, exactly what kind of change will Biden bring to Washington? After all, Obama is being swept in on the basis of one word, change, and whatever it means to each person who hears it! Obama can’t (and won’t, and would be foolish to) define it. Change, for the sake of change, isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Attacking Sarah Palin on the issues would have been the correct strategy on the part of her detractors. She stands in stark contrast to their beliefs, so basing the bashing on the issues should have been trivially easy (and the smart ones, like Biden himself, are doing just that). Picking on the themes that have been the highlight of this post was incredibly stupid. It accomlished exactly one thing, to galvanize the base even further in support of McCain/Palin. If you didn’t notice that at the RNC last night, you didn’t watch…