Politics

Girlyman at Birchmere

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Last night was our 13th time seeing Girlyman live. The last time we saw them was the only time we took no guests. Last night, we set a new record (previously 19 at Highline Ballroom). Including us, we purchased 26 tickets for last night’s show. Two of our expected guests missed their flight in Chicago, so only 24 of us showed up. That worked out, since we sat at two tables for 12, right up against the stage.

Since I’ve written about Girlyman endlessly, I’ll make this one very short (ha, you say!). Last night was the last show on their East Coast CD Release Tour. I think they played 11 out of 12 consecutive nights. Given that, the change of weather, the various colder northern states they played in (we saw them on the opening night of this tour, in Norfolk, CT, and it was 40 degrees that night), it wasn’t a surprise that both Ty and Nate had pretty bad colds. 🙁

DorisMuramatsu TyGreenstein NateBorofsky

The show was still generally excellent, as excusing a slightly sub-par performance was easy to do. The crowd gave them rousing ovations for every song. The banter was top notch, so their brains weren’t foggy, it was just their throats that were froggy. 😉

They played a long and well-balanced set (songs from the new album, but also songs from the early ones). They were on stage for roughly 100 minutes, including the encore.

I don’t begrudge Girlyman their political views, but Nate couldn’t resist taking a shot at the Bush Years when introducing the song True Enough (a somewhat tongue-in-cheek homage to Obama). I’m just curious as to when Obama supporters will start owning this nation’s problems. It’s so easy to only blame the past, and I’m sure it’s fun. Until you own the problem, you can’t and won’t fix it. Time to follow your most favorite advocacy group, and Move On!

Opening for Girlyman on this tour (with the exception of Joe’s Pub) was Po’ Girl. They were very good at Infinity Hall when we saw them on September 30th. That night, they played a 30 minute set. Last night, they were better, in fact, significantly better. They played a 45 minute set, and while they repeated a few songs (two or three I think), there were a number of new (to us) ones in the mix, and they were all really good.

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While we knew what to expect, none of our guests did. I was overwhelmed (in the most positive sense) by the spontaneous reaction of all of those around me to how awesome they thought Po’ Girl was. The two couples sitting immediately near me both went out and bought a Po’ Girl CD (one during intermission, they couldn’t wait to get their hands on it) and the other one after the show. I think others in our group also bought CDs (both Po’ Girl and Girlyman) after the show.

Everyone thanked us after the show and told us how much they enjoyed it. I’m sure that the entire experience delivered that feeling. The food was excellent (as it always is at the Birchmere), and a number of people commented to me how surprised they were at that (clearly first timers there).

More than half of our party saw Girlyman before (at least once), so they could factor the colds out and still know how awesome Girlyman is (and can be), but I felt a little bad for the first timers, who didn’t quite get to experience the real magic of Girlyman, even though it was still a really good show!

A bunch of shots of a portion of our our gang:

Birchmere11 Birchmere1 Birchmere2 Birchmere3 Birchmere5 Birchmere6 Birchmere7 Birchmere8 Birchmere9

We Should All Be Ashamed

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I didn’t have quite the same reaction as most people did (and still do) regarding the AIG bonuses. Having worked on Wall Street for 16 years, I thought I had a different perspective than most, but still, I understood where the populist anger was coming from.

Unfortunately, it’s fueled by politicians, purely for political gain, in ways that remind me of the Salem Witch Trials.

I woke up this morning to find an Op-Ed piece in the NY Times, written by someone I worked with for a few years when I was at UBS. I have come across very few people in my life who were more honorable, hard-working, smart, self-effacing, fiscally conservative (that’s a wild understatement) as well as being an all-around nice guy.

I read the piece with great interest. Here is a link to the full letter. I implore you to read it carefully, all the way through, because I think it captures much of what is wrong in this current postmortem blame game:

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

Immediately after reading it aloud to Lois, I sent off the following note to Jake:

I just read your letter in the OpEd in the NY Times. Both Lois and I were so moved. It’s one of the most powerful and well written letters we have ever read. It is also obviously devastatingly accurate.

I believe we would feel that way even if we didn’t know you personally, and know what an honorable (and smart) person you are, but it’s all the more powerful knowing the writer, and therefore having zero doubt as to the veracity of the claims.

We wish you and your family the best in everything that lies ahead for you!

Only after Eliot Spitzer resigned as Governor did people have the courage to speak out about his unsavory abuse of power when he was Attorney General. Andrew Cuomo and Richard Blumenthal are currently too powerful for most to question their ethics as well.

I believe that in time, they too will be seen for the political opportunists that they are, rather than crusaders for the people that they wish to be seen as.

I Fully Support President Obama

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I voted for John McCain, so did Lois (or so she told me).

Each of us admitted to the other, that even though we knew in advance that we were voting for McCain, we hesitated in the voting booth, and wanted to vote for Obama. Not because we believed the rhetoric, and certainly not because we wanted to vote for the obvious winner.

We each wanted to vote for Obama because we long(ed) for an America where it would not be unusual for a Black person (yes, including a Black woman), a Hispanic, a woman, an Asian, etc., to be our nation’s leader.

I don’t know why Lois still pulled the lever for McCain, but I know why I did. If I had voted for Obama, it would have been a vote for Affirmative Action (a form of reverse discrimination) and I am really against all forms of discrimination, even reverse ones.

Update: a friend of mine emailed me to ask if I really thought that many people were voting for Affirmative Action by voting for Obama. My resounding reply was No. I meant that remark to apply personally, to me only. I wasn’t on the same wavelength with Obama ideologically, so I wouldn’t naturally have voted for him (just like I wouldn’t have voted for Hillary Clinton). But, I was still tempted to vote for him, purely for Affirmative Action reasons, and in the end, I couldn’t justify that.

Even though I voted my conscience, I am at peace with Obama’s victory, and even happy that it was a crushing one (another nail-biter like 2000 would have been devastating to the national psyche in my opinion). As I’ve written before, McCain deserved to lose, almost regardless of who his opponent was. At least his opponent qualified for marking this as a truly historic moment in the US, and one that we don’t need to wait 100 years to realize was such a moment!

Perhaps the single biggest frustration that Lois and I have had with uber-Liberals for the past eight years is that we believe that a majority of them deeply wanted the country to go downhill, for two reasons:

  1. So that they could be right (OK, I should have said: correct) 😉
  2. So that they could guarantee a Democrat in this election (anyone but Kerry would have crushed Bush in 2004!)

We don’t want or expect people to be polyanna about our situation, but we also don’t expect a constant chicken little attitude either. Bush bashing was not constructive. Obama bashing will not be constructive.

I implore everyone (Republicans, Independents and Democrats who didn’t vote for Obama and LazyFolk™ who should have but didn’t vote!) to rally behind our new President as if they were his most fervent supporter.

It’s time for us to prove that the slogan Country First is not just another Madison Avenue creation, but something that we truly believe. Let’s lift each other up in every way that we can. We have enormous challenges ahead, and we should not use the fact that we are in the midst of a slide to blame either side.

To the Bush bashers I say this: It’s Over, now Get Over It!

Obama will not fix all of our ills overnight, or even quickly, even if he is perfect. So, don’t get defensive and start looking backwards to blame Bush for how bad a mess he left, as an excuse for why it isn’t better yet. We face difficult times. Let’s look forward and try to make a better life for everyone, rather than be stuck in the rear view mirror, and guarantee another round of flame throwing.

If you need to take a moment to gloat, go for it, I won’t hold it against you. But then, let’s get to work!

I sincerely hope that Obama is the President for the next eight years, not four. I hope he’s the greatest President we ever had (but hopefully not will ever have, for obvious reasons), and that I can proudly vote for him in 2012. He didn’t earn my vote during his campaign, but he has four years to earn it the next time around, and I’m pulling for him to do it!

Colin Powell is So Bold

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Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama. I didn’t see the interview on TV, nor have I read the full transcript, though I’ve seen a bunch of quotes on both TV and on the net. I wanted to write about my first impressions the next day, but got distracted. Today, Maureen Dowd wrote another of her holier-than-thou missives in The NY Times, and it reminded me to get my thoughts out.

First, how unbelievably bold and brave of Colin Powell to endorse Obama two weeks before a practically inevitable victory. If he could only have waited until the day after, so he could be really sure, it would even have been better. I know, I know, better late than never…

Next, while I have enormous respect (or had, at least) for General Powell, that doesn’t negate the fact that his personal judgement hasn’t been exactly spot-on in the past two decades!

First, he strenuously objected to finishing the job in Iraq in 1991, and Bush senior acquiesced to him. It’s possible (perhaps even likely) that none of the current mess (not just the obviously flawed Iraq war!) would ever have come to pass if Powell had not been so insistent back then.

He was then instrumental in shifting sentiment against Iraq when he presented the case for WMD at the U.N. People trusted Powell, and Bush junior was given the power to attack. One of two things have to be correct here:

  1. Powell believed every word that he said.
  2. Powell knowingly exaggerated to make the administration’s case.

If #1 is correct, then Powell should be as vilified by the people (Maureen Dowd included) who are so quick to praise him now. After all, they bristle at the thought that Bush/Chaney could have really believed there was a real threat of WMD at the time. It would appear that when you agree with them, you’re a genius. When you disagree, you’re an evil fool. If there was a single person who was most responsible for us going into the Iraq War, it’s Powell.

If #2 is correct, shame on him, and shame on him for ever opening his mouth in public again.

Obviously, I believe #1 is correct, and that he honorably presented the facts as the entire administration believed them to be at the time. Rewriting history to suit one’s needs is another sad fact of life in general, not just political life.

On to a few of the observations made by Dowd:

But what sent him over the edge and made him realize he had to speak out was when he opened his New Yorker three weeks ago and saw a picture of a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in Iraq. On the headstone were engraved his name, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, his awards — the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star — and a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.

Wow, convenient timing. I am sure that every day before that he was this close to endorsing Obama, but for this last straw. Was there no way for Powell to speak on behalf of American Muslims, indeed Muslims the world over, for the past few years, without endorsing either candidate? No, apparently not. Obama is somehow qualified to be President, because others are painting Muslims as bad, and hinting that Obama is one of them. Wow again.

In a gratifying “have you no sense of decency, Sir and Madam?” moment, Colin Powell went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and talked about Khan, and the unseemly ways John McCain and Palin have been polarizing the country to try to get elected. It was a tonic to hear someone push back so clearly on ugly innuendo.

Of course it was gratifying. It gratifies Maureen Dowd when a Republican (is he still?) pushes back so clearly on ugly innuendo. Woe betide the Democrat who might point out that the Obama campaign, and the various 527 outfits like MoveOn.org do equally insiduous things, innuendo and all.

Let me be clear: I think that Dowd (and others) are 100% correct when they bemoan the ugliness that is the Republican attack machine against Obama. I have written about that in the past. It disgusts me thoroughly. But, the Democratic machine is just as ugly (in every single way) as the Republican machine, but that never raises the ire of someone like Dowd, unless it’s Hillary’s campaign doing it against Obama.

In other words, it’s only ugly when it’s against your candidate, not becuase the tactic itself is just plain ugly, no matter who uses it.

No wait, I spoke too soon. In the very next paragraph, Dowd indeed calls out the Obama campaign!

Even the Obama campaign has shied away from Muslims. The candidate has gone to synagogues but no mosques, and the campaign was embarrassed when it turned out that two young women in headscarves had not been allowed to stand behind Obama during a speech in Detroit because aides did not want them in the TV shot.

Ah, close, but no cigar. The Obama campaign shied away, but the McCain campaign uses ugly innuendo. Oh well, at least she tried to throw a bone toward fairness.

She closes her piece with the following quote from Powell:

“Experience is helpful,” he says, “but it is judgment that matters.”

Correct. Unfortunately, Powell lacks judgment himself, so we’re back to square one…

Selling the Presidency

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Yesterday, The NY Times had an article discussing the size of the ad budgets of both campaigns. Regardless of the statistics provided in that article, it crystalized for me something I had been feeling for a long while, but couldn’t articulate, even to myself.

The purpose of ads is to sell something to us. It is not meant to educate us, even though marketers would love to spin it that way.

Unfortunately, the Presidency shouldn’t be sold, it should be earned. While I can rationalize the need for smaller elections to use ads, when many of us haven’t even heard a candidate’s name before, let alone their position on an issue, that simply isn’t (or shouldn’t be!) the case for the Presidential candidates.

These days, they get nearly unlimited air time, ink in major newspapers, too many blog posts, etc. Then, even if you missed any of that, it’s all available to watch again, 24/7, on YouTube, etc. Therefore, it’s not fair to say that they need a targeted way to get their message out.

Like it or not, the spin-meisters are getting paid to influence us, in tried and true ways, affecting even those of us who believe we are immune to advertising. Obama is Miller-Lite and McCain is Bud-Light (yes, they spell lite differently, because someone studied the effect on our psychies!). This is just very sad to me.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive or negative ad, it’s just wrong. Madison Avenue puts out negative ads as well:

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?

Translation:

This is your wallet. This is your wallet after my opponent becomes President. Any questions?

Here’s what I would like to see, as completely ridiculous as the idea is.

For the Presidency only (if it works, we can consider extending it to other high-profile races), permit zero ads, from anyone! That means no 527 ads, no party ads, no campaign ads, none, period. No issue ads either.

Second, no candidate should be permitted to point out the negatives of the other. We have plenty of places to read that kind of reporting, even if we don’t want it. Candidates should be forced to talk only about what they will do as President. Don’t draw the contrast, leave that one task to my personal brain.

If a candidate says anything about his opponent (positive or negative) at a rally, it should simply never be run on TV (network or cable). Tell me what you will do for me, not what the other guy won’t do for me!

Obviously, this will never happen. At least now you know how I would like it to be…

We Get What We Deserve

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This is a collection of random (but thematically related) thoughts, so it’s likely to ramble on for a while.

We get what we deserve! This sounds harsh, especially given that sometimes bad things happen to good people, but it’s still true, even if we can’t understand why those things happen. It’s even more true collectively, to groups of people (including entire societies) than it is to individuals (even though it’s still true there as well).

This is a distant cousin to the old adage: Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it! They’re not identical, because we always get what we deserve, even when we didn’t wish for anything, or got the opposite of our wish…

The point of this post is to explain why Barack Obama will definitely be our next President, and why we all deserve that to be the case, like it or not.

So, without further ado, here are some things that some prominent politicians have gotten (or are about to get), that they fully deserve(d), and that we as citizens, have gotten and deserved.

Nixon deserved to be thrown out (perhaps my least controversial comment).

The country was appalled, and over-reacted, selecting a complete Washington outsider, in electing Jimmy Carter. We got exactly what we deserved, namely the worst President in modern history (for me, that even includes George W. Bush, though at least grant me that aside from Bush, there’s no close second!). Could no one see it coming? Did we need a candidate who lusted in his heart? Really? How quaint and revelatory…

In my opinion, he’s also by far the worst ex-President that we’ve had in recent memory. I would forgive his behavior, if I thought he had Alzheimer’s, but unfortunately, he’s just continuing to show his true colors. And no, it doesn’t matter that he personally does “good works” by building houses (though I applaud that mightily). You simply can’t trade a good deed against an evil one and hope to be even. It just doesn’t work that way.

George H.W. Bush was pretty popular after the first Gulf War. As the economy started to deteriorate in the last year of his Presidency, he thought he could ignore it and coast on his past laurels. He got exactly what he deserved, and lost.

We got Bill Clinton (with the added bonus of Hillary), and fully deserved that too! No signs (neon or otherwise!) of his indiscretions. It was all lies and swift boating (even though that term hadn’t been coined yet). If you read this column regularly, then you know that I actually think Clinton was a very effective President (which makes him a good one), but that was through no fault of his own.

Largely because of the mess of a co-President in Hillary (Health Care-Gate), Republicans swept Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years! The Clintons deserved that. Only because Bill Clinton is at heart a pragmatist (which I give him enormous credit for) and he had other distractions to amuse himself with (which I give him no credit for), did he end up being an effective President, by accomplishing a fair amount in conjunction with Congressional Republicans.

Given that, you’d think that Al Gore would have been a shoe-in to win the Presidency in 2000. Unfortunately, because of Clinton’s dalliances, enough people in the country wanted a change, any change (sound eerily familiar to the current situation?). Worse, Gore decided to distance himself from Clinton, trying to win over some of those change-wanters, but in the process, probably lost just enough staunch Clinton supporters to lose the election (there are an absolutely astonishing number of people who still pine for the good old Clinton days, but that’s a topic for another post).

Gore deserved to lose and the country deserved to get George W. Bush.

Bush inherited a post-Internet-bubble recession, then got socked with 9/11. Did we deserve to get attacked on 9/11? Many people say so, even here in the US. Did Bush reverse his entire No Nation Building rhetoric from that moment on? Absolutely. Does he deserve his current popularity ratings as a result? Absolutely.

So, why did he win re-election in 2004? Because so many Democrats were so sick of Bush, that they just had to pick the most opposite candidate that they possibly could. I’m not sure there was a worse candidate available at the time than John Kerry. Even he barely lost, and should have won. Still, when you over-react, and don’t behave rationally, you get what you deserve. All of the Bush-bashing liberals, got exactly what they deserved, another Bush term.

I believe that any of the other top primary candidates in 2004 (other than perhaps Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich) would have easily beaten Bush had they been the nominee of their party. Personally, I was surprised that the Democrats didn’t go more heartily for Gephardt. He would have crushed Bush in my opinion.

Did Bush understand the serendipity of his re-election? Did he understand the magnitude of the hatred many had for him (even people who voted for him!)? No. He made some cosmetic changes (anyone still remember Rumsfeld?) but basically stayed the same course. The result? A sweeping reversal in Congress in 2006. Did Bush deserve that? Sure! Did the Republican Congress deserve to be kicked in the butt? Sure!

Did we deserve to get a do-nothing Congress, with a lower approval rating than the President (can you even believe that?!?)? Yes! We allowed Bush to stay the course, by putting in a bunch of Bush-haters, who wasted more time arguing about impeachment, than putting together hard-nosed bills that the President would have had a hard time vetoing. Even if he did, if they were well-thought-out bills, enough Republicans would have been forced to vote with the Democrats to over-ride any veto.

For all of their anti-Bush rhetoric, whenever it counted most, Congress voted with him, including on this current Bailout bill. We deserve them, and they deserved to have Bush as their leader!

Many Republicans were sick of Bush as well. Not in the same way that Democrats are, but sick is sick, and they over-reacted in their way, and overwhelmingly nominated the most unlikely of the group of candidates, John McCain. They deserve what they got, as the Democrats deserved what they got in Kerry in 2004.

What happened to the front-runners? Let’s pick on one only, Rudy Guiliani. He ran possibly the most arrogant campaign in the history of Presidential politics, sitting on the sidelines until he was anointed in Florida. Oops, it didn’t work out that way, and he deserved exactly what he got.

On the other side, Hillary had analogous (but differently manifested) hubris to Rudy. She too thought that she was the chosen one, and didn’t have to worry about caucus states and grass roots efforts. Yet, without those efforts, she blew through one of the largest war chests in history. What was she spending all that money on? She was blind-sided by the coming Obama storm, and deserved to be.

Rather than rehashing all of the ins and outs of the Democratic primary battles, and the various accusations of racial politics, I’ll simply say that both Obama and Clinton deserved what they got in their bitter battle. He couldn’t put her away, time and time again. She couldn’t sustain her comeback enough to overcome his early lead, but couldn’t put the good of their party ahead of her personal ambitions (like Mitt Romney did, even though he was crushing Huckabee for second at the time he bowed out).

Largely because of Clinton fighting to the bitter end, McCain resurged in the polls. He didn’t need to attack Obama, Clinton and her supporters were doing a fine job. McCain got to spend very little money, and continued to gather momentum.

Obama could have chosen Clinton as his running mate, and this race would likely have been over a long time ago. No, he couldn’t bring himself to do it, for many reasons. He got exactly what he deserved as a result, a much tougher, uglier battle than he expected. Still, by the Democratic Convention, it appeared that all would be forgiven (mostly) within the party itself, and Obama would be fully supported.

McCain decided that he had to gamble on his VP pick (did he really need to? probably not given Obama’s pick in Biden, but he decided he should!). If he wins the election (still an extremely remote possibility), his pick will have been brilliant, whether you like Sarah Palin or not. However, since it seems extremely likely that McCain will lose, and possibly by a very large margin, he will have gotten exactly what he deserved for choosing Palin.

For two candidates who both claimed to be different, reformers, wanting to shake up Washington, set a bi-partisan tone, this is every bit the nasty, disgusting, hate-filled campaign on both sides that every other Presidential election devolves into. It’s not working for either side, and both candidates deserve to be unmasked for the hypocrites that they are. For one of them, it won’t matter (unless you consider losing a Presidential election as mattering), 😉 but for the other one, he will be damaged (in terms of credibility) as the new President, already having been seen for what he really is, rather than for his lofty rhetoric…

So, why is the gap widening between Obama and McCain? Not because of the ads. McCain is shooting himself in the heart (rather than just the foot), in showing zero leadership nor consistency on the critical issues of our time. He’s in full-blown panic, throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

Obama is being what he always is. Cagey, shifty, uncommitted, not responsible for any of his past actions or our current problems. Still promising change, for the sake of change. When your opponent is disintegrating all on his own, you need not do any more than be patient.

Our next President will be Barack Obama, and we will deserve him, exactly as we have deserved every President we got at the time we elected him (in this case, to me, another Jimmy Carter). I pray that his Presidency will be less disastrous, but I’m not hopeful of that. He too will have both houses of Congress to splash around in the pool with. As I discussed in an ancient post, he will be the puppet of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

I will be voting for John McCain, even though I have little respect for his current campaign. For me, it will at least be a tiny check-and-balance against a growing Democratic Congressional majority. He will be like Bill Clinton, as he has proven time and time again that he can compromise with the Democrats (more so than practically any other Republican in recent history!). So, if Congress sends him reasonable bills, he will be sure to sign them into law (as Clinton did in the second half of the 90’s). But, if they send him ridiculous bills, I am equally sure that he will veto them.

The Democrats (led by Reid, Pelosi, and soon Obama), badly want to finish off the class warfare that they can’t seem to get away from. If they implement their plans (which perhaps they will be slowed down in doing because of the current financial meltdown), they will destroy this economy beyond repair. They claim to not want job growth (like Bush delivered for six years until Democrats took hold of Congress!). They want high paying, high quality job growth only. Good for them, we all want that. But, taxing corporations and rich people (who create these types of jobs) is not the way to go. Unfortunately, we’re all about learn that lesson together…

Welcome our new President. We will (unfortunately) most richly deserve him.

No Shame Left In Politics

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To be honest, there’s really little shame left in the country (world?) in general, but in politics, it’s effectively non-existent.

I could write all day about this topic, or have a post-a-day for a very long time. Instead, I’ll cram it in to this one post.

First, John McCain. Two recent giant disappointments. I was appalled when people called it a stunt that he suspended his campaign to return to Washington to work on the bailout bill. In the end, they were correct, even if that wasn’t his intention all along. While he returned to Washington for the weekend after the debate, he did not stick around (or work hard enough) to get it passed the following week. Clearly, it wasn’t his most important priority.

The second McCain disappointment is even more appalling though. One of his most often repeated stump speeches is how he will veto any bill that includes pork in it. Further, he claims he will name names, and make the sponsors of the pork famous. Well, as urgent as the bailout supposedly was/is, it is loaded with pork, and McCain voted yes. Of course he couldn’t have vetoed it, but he could have shown the courage to say that regardless of how important the bill was, he could not in good conscience vote for it as long as it represented politics-as-usual.

Next, Congress in general (both sides of the aisle), but Democrats in particular. The sub-prime mess is a direct outgrowth of the desire of Democrats to give away housing to those who can’t afford it. It gets really complicated after that generalization. I may write a long post on that some day as well (I was on the inside on Wall Street in the 80’s, supporting the mortgage business, and I invested in a sub-prime lending technology company as a VC), but this isn’t that post.

Clip after clip shows clearly that both the Bush Administration, and specifically John McCain (in addition to other House and Senate Republicans), were calling for more regulation and better oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Democrats (specifically Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd and Charles Schumer) consistently defended Fannie and Freddie, and continued to praise the people we now know were clearly defrauding the public (through accounting shenanigans and other wrong-doing).

Those Democratic leaders simply won’t apologize for being wrong (I’m not suggesting they knew the extent of the wrong-doing, just say you made a mistake!). Worse, they continue to blame Bush and the Republicans for their desire to deregulate. That’s a heinous lie (blatantly obvious from watching any of the testimony from 2003 onwards!), and is beyond shameless.

The Republicans may not be worse, but they have no reason to consider themselves above the fray. Saying stupid things, whether for political gain or not (and whether they work or not) is simply shameless. When the bailout bill was defeated in the House the first time around, Congressman Eric Cantor held up the text of Nancy Pelosi’s speech, and chided her for giving a partisan speech and turning just enough Republicans off to cause the vote to fail.

There’s simply no good way to spin that. First, if true, shame on the Republicans for allowing a speech to change their vote. You should be voting your conscience, not your ego. Second, if it’s not true, then he shouldn’t have said it, just to give Republicans cover, and attempt to embarrass Pelosi. Third, Pelosi was stupid to inject partisanship into something that clearly required Republican support.

Most important in that first failed bailout vote was the lack of Democratic support, and the complete lack of honesty associated with the reasoning behind it. Aside from the fact that the Democrats control both houses, and could have passed the bill without a single Republican vote, all the Democrats needed was for the 12 Democrats who sit on Barney Frank’s committee (who voted no) to have voted yes, for it to have passed!

Folks, here’s the head of the House Financial Services committee, and one of the top supporters of Fannie and Freddie, cheerleading the bill, and his own committee members (I’m speaking specifically of the Democrats!) vote against it. These are the people who should be most familiar with the issues and the reasons why the bill needed to be passed. Yet, in the face of this, Barney Frank has no trouble playing to the cameras and offering to speak to any Republican whose feelings were hurt by Pelosi’s speech. Incredible!

Lastly (on the Congressional side), we have reports that Pelosi specifically absolved Democrats (in advance!) from voting against the bill, because they were in tight re-election campaigns, and needed to say they voted against the bill. Either the bill is that important, and couldn’t afford to fail (for the good of the entire country!), or, re-electing Democrats is much more important, and it’s OK if the country goes into a depression in order for that to happen. Again, shameless!

Finally, Barack Obama. I don’t ascribe any ill-will to Obama in regards to his love of this country and his desire to lead it honorably. That said, he’s exactly like every other politician (McCain included) who not only will do anything to get elected (there’s zero change there folks!), but he’s also every bit as calculated, for many years, to get to be the President.

I don’t believe that because he associated with William Ayers and his wife that he condones domestic terrorism. I do believe that he knowingly associated with them in order to further his own political agenda.

I don’t believe that because he was a member of Reverend Wright’s church that he beleives the heinous things that Reverend Wright regularly spewed. I do believe that Obama wanted the street cred that came with being a member of that particular church in order to further his political ambitions. I do believe that he well knew exactly what Reverend Wright was preaching (regardless of his claims to the contrary).

His ties to Tony Rezko are blatantly obvious. It’s not that Rezko is a convicted criminal that should matter. It’s that Obama directly engaged in dealings with him that personally benefited Obama!

To all of the above (and a million more examples), I say that they are all shameless. They care not a lick about any of us. They care about power, control, wealth, and most important, their own egos. There isn’t one of them that is different, regardless of whether they call themselves a Democrat or Republican.

Shame on all of them!

Richard Lewis at Tarrytown Music Hall

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I’ve been a long-time fan of Richard Lewis. In addition to loving his standup act, both Lois and I were fans of Anything But Love for its entire run. Last night was the first time that either of us has seen him perform live.

He had an unannounced opening act (which I’ll cover later). Richard came out at 8:56pm.

Before leaving our house, I tweeted the following:

Heading to see Richard Lewis. Really hoping he doesn’t do too much political humor. I’ll catch enough of that on the tape of the debate…

For the most part, that worked out. Richard was totally himself, and hysterical, from the moment he came on stage. His schtick last night was a cross between Woody Allen (self deprecation, leaning towards self loathing) and Buddy Hackett (jokes about what happens to your body as you get older).

At times he rambled incoherently, seemlingly losing the thread of his story. Somehow, he always found a way to tie the meandering back to the original point, and seemed to bring the audience along with him, earning the full laugh when it seemed he’d lose it.

Amazingly, he’s 61 years old. He always seemed so youthful in everything he’d done over the years, that I didn’t realize he was older than me. Most of his stories (they weren’t jokes and they weren’t really routines either) centered around that fact, and around his now three-year-old marriage.

He’s extremely foul-mouthed, which wasn’t a surprise, but was a little nerve-wracking for me, since Lois can easily shut down completely in the presence of such humor. Even though he cursed constantly, and 70% of his stuff was about sex, drugs or alcohol, he seemed to be making Lois laugh a good deal, so I was able to relax and enjoy myself as well. I don’t mind foul language a bit, but I do think that comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, who seem to be able to avoid cursing for an entire show, are cleverer for it, on some levels.

Go back and reread my tweet from above, where I was truly hoping for no political humor. Unfortunately, my wish didn’t come to pass. I didn’t really expect it to, so I wasn’t shocked.

About 60% of the way through the show, he apologized for bringing up politics. He seemed to be suggesting in his apology that he wouldn’t talk about it much, or with any particular slant or vitriol.

Unfortunately, as with most angry liberals (which is different than a normal liberal), he couldn’t help himself, and he got sucked deeper into it as he went along. Different than my utter distaste for this kind of stuff when it happens at a musical concert (where it’s 100% the artist’s ego to lecture an audience that came to hear music), in comedy, it’s somewhat expected, even if it’s biased or slanted entirely in one direction. After all, they are commentators on the state of society, no?

He took only one shot at Sarah Palin, and if you took it from a purely comedic point of view, it was reasonably clever and amusing. That’s how I chose to take it, because he didn’t harp on it, or get off track with it. He actually didn’t say much about McCain at all, possibly not even one line (but I wouldn’t swear to that).

He did what all angry liberals do, he went nuts over President Bush. You would think that there was a good chance that Bush would be the next President, that we need to live in the past. While directionally, I understand the hatred and vitriol completely, beyond two or three humorous bits, it devolved (as it always does) into a silly (angry) rant, that allowed Lewis to get his frustrations off his chest, but was hardly funny, interesting, or likely to sway anyone in the upcoming election.

Roughly half of the audience soaked up every single anti-Bush rant. The other half was silent throughout. Even after the show was over, I heard anti-Bush / pro-Obama people make the same observation to each other. Lewis likely noticed it wasn’t going over as well as his other stuff, but of course, he couldn’t pull up from the nose dive. It’s like therapy for angry liberals.

He only said a few things about Obama. Obviously, there’s no record to tout. Clearly, no jokes permitted, because you might turn a single voter against him. So, what else can you say? Essentially, that he’ll be a breath of fresh air after Bush, purely because he’s smart. Won’t it be nice to have a smart person in the White House? Yup, it would be. Now if that person also could accomplish anything that wouldn’t flush us further down the drain, that would be great too…

Finally, he was spent on that subject (perhaps 10 minutes, which wasn’t that great a percentage of the time he was on stage, but was a very long stretch of practically zero laughs). He returned to normal funny stories, and won back the crowd, including us. We laughed a good bit at the end of show. I am grateful he didn’t end with the political stuff, which might have left a sour taste in my mouth. Instead, I just felt sorry for him. His life has been incredible (from the outside), in terms of money, fame, women, etc. On the inside, he’s been a long-time drunk, a sex addict, in therapy, and basically miserable and compensating for much of his life.

If he can blame Bush for all of his failings, perhaps he can find some comfort in that. More power to him.

He left the stage at 10:01, exactly 65 minutes. It was a nice length, and mostly funny. I enjoyed the show.

The show was called for 8pm. Tarrytown Music Hall doesn’t seem to ever start on time. The house lights don’t dim by starting time, and people hang around on the sidewalk outside, catching up with friends, past the starting time. It’s not a great way to run a place, even though we like the place acoustically and it’s wildly convenient to our house.

At around 8:10pm, they introduced the unannounced opening act, a comedian named Melvin George. Melvin didn’t curse once the entire show. The crowd loved him from the minute he opened his mouth, until the very last bit. His theme is that he’s not cool (hence his site’s name: notcool1.com).

While he achieved a few genuine belly laughs, he was able to keep the audience constantly chuckling. He delivers insightful commentary, couched in self deprecation (remember, he’s not cool), in an upbeat style, with great pacing. He’s also a good dancer (you’ll have to see the routine to get that one).

His closing routine, which involved pitching the audience on buying a CD of the performance they just watched (last night’s show is already available at this link), was hysterical. Aside from being a great idea (selling the CD), he was able to keep us laughing for five solid minutes, while focusing on a way to make some additional money from that very show. Well done Melvin! He was on stage for roughly 35 minutes.

When the show was over, we walked one block back to our car (we were lucky to find a great parking spot). I reached into my pocket, and my car key was missing (I had the house keys). I have a pair of shorts that have very shallow pockets, and on occasion, when I sit in a deep chair (like in a hotel), my car key slips out. I always find it quickly. It’s never fallen out of a real pants pocket before last night.

Given how close we were to home, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if we couldn’t have found the key, but it certainly wouldn’t have been a pleasant way to end the evening. We walked back to the theater and went straight to our seats. Thankfully, the key was obviously sitting on the floor, right under my seat. By the time we reached the front door of the theater, they were locking it down, so if we had parked a bit further, we might not have gotten back in.

When we got home, we watched the entire debate on the DVR, knowing we wouldn’t bother this morning, once we’d heard the pundits’ spin. Both candidates spouted their respective talking points the entire night. Nothing really learned, and neither really faltered. Onward…

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…