Friday, September 26, 2008

How Can One Gender Have So Many Ups and So Many Downs In One Election Cycle?

Sarah Palin: The Wheels Come Off Sarah Palin's Not So Straight Talk Express

There's a little corner of myself that weeps for Sarah Palin. None of this is fair. But I don't weep for her candidacy - at least - not like that.

Come out and play, Pitbull Palin. Show them your teeth. Gnash them, fight back. But you won't do that. You'll live up to the least flattering view of women in politics: you got here 'cause you're pretty and novel, like a pitbull in lipstick, and everyone wants to see one of those while at the carnival.

What's Wrong With America Today?

Ann Coulter.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Belated Independence Day

I can't believe I missed the actual date, but this past Tuesday marked the fourth anniversary of when I made the best decision of my life: I blew off law school and flew to West Virginia because it was important.

It's still important.

For anyone out there feeling helpless at the politics of the day, feeling hopeless that things can change, empower yourself. You're free. You can change your life, your setting, and maybe the world. Eventually.

I relish my campaign experience. I dwell on it, from it, within it. It reminds me that I own my life. That sounds stupid - moreso to anyone who has forgotton or who hasn't yet learned she owns hers too.

Mountaineers are always free.

Brilliant! 'Innovative Heel Wedgies Fixer'

A fix for a totally annoying problem.

Conditional Girl Crush: Rachel Maddow

I watched my first Rachel Maddow show last night. It's not surprising she has her own show as even when she was part of MSNBC's roundtable whatevers on the endlessly super Tuesday's back in the winter and spring, she had a way of being the most captivating person in a sea of the usual babble.

She's erudite. She's savvy. She's got a good ear for politics. She can spar with Uncle Pat like nobody's business. She hits the right pitch between Comedy Central snark and "I'm thiiiis close to being MSM so really, heed my words." She talks fast and well. She's a she.

So did I love her show. Yes and no.

For one thing, I'm jealous of her seemingly meteoric rise from Air American to primetime host (albeit on MSNBC, but still. They have at least 2x the viewership as I have readership these days. Maybe 2 and a half). As I near a milestone birthday, I'm engaging in that sort of self-assessment navel-gazing that makes for crappy blog posts and that hopefully ends promptly upon said milestone birthday. I have a new mortgage. She has a new TV show. And she wasn't even into politics at 19. I was. What's the opposite of schadenfreude, as Amber would say? But that's not the real love qualifier.

The real qualifier is that I don't want to be the D equivalent of a Fox News viewer.

There can be no mistaking Maddow's left-leanings. Then again, why I can't I just chalk it up to being right - as in correct - when she slams McCain and Bush for their stumbles, gaffes, violations, and unholy wars of both real and public-relations varieties? Hell, I feel like those are things that deserve to be torn apart on television.

I guess the qualification for my Maddow-madness can be likened to my reasons for eschewing Berkeley: I don't want to hang out solely with people who agree with me or with whom I agree. I just don't. At least not in a knee-jerky, let's sit around and pat-each-other-on-the-back kind of way. I need more balance. Somehow, it feels like that comes more from Jon Stewart than Rachel Maddow.

I think I miss Tim Russert.

(p.s. I linked to her official page above, but it seems kinda outdated. Get on that Rachel! Try the MSNBC version for the current tv show.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Swear To God, If You Take This Bait, Obama . . . .

It's your John Kerry moment. Are you going be like John Kerry or are you going to FIGHT.

Because this is stupid. It's stupider than when you, Obama, cancelled your appearance on the SNL opener because of Ike. Like you were going to be able to do anything that night about it anway.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. What is wrong with us.

Girl Crush!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh, The Awesome AP-ness of it all:

Most loaded lede ever?

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Less than a week after balking at the Alaska Legislature's investigation into her alleged abuse of power, Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday indicated she will cooperate with a separate probe run by people she can fire.

A Glorious Bit On Rejection And Editing

From The Kenyon Review:

And dickering with photographers, battling in general on behalf of the serial comma, making a stand on behalf of saddle-stitching against the evil tide of perfect-bound publications, halving the number of witticisms in any piece of prose, reading galleys backwards to catch any stupid line breaks or egregious typos, battling on behalf of the semicolon, throwing away all business cards that say PROFESSIONAL WRITER, trying to read over-the-transom submissions within a week of their arrival, deleting the word unique on general principle and sending anonymous hate mail to anyone who writes the words fairly unique, snarling at writers who write We must or We should or, God help us all, the word shan’t, searching with mounting desperation for a scrap or shard or snippet of humor in this bruised and blessed world, reminding male writers that it’s OK to acknowledge that there are other people on the planet, halving the number of times any writer says me or I, checking page numbers maniacally, throwing away cover letters, checking the budget twice a day, and trying to read not most but all of your direct competitors, on the off-chance that there might be something delicious to steal.

And then away to lunch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One, Not So Much A Lonely Number

So, someone take all this into account and tell me how ANYONE buys ANYTHING McCain/Palin sell:

Barack Obama is taking liberties and likening himself to Christ! The gall! The sheer un-Christian-ness of it all. Or should we say anti-Christ(ian-ness)? Look at his confidence - arrogance, we say. Awful!

Oh, no wait, it's cool now, look, we have a One of our own:

And she's, like, way super confident too. Except that's great. Because believing you can do it means you're just as able to do it as if you were actually able to do it. See! She didn't hesitate a bit, Charlie. And really, why would she. Humility is for suckers. What? It's a Christian value? Whatever. It's overrated.

If you think about it, it's a bit of a sexist flip-flop. Normally, a confident man is a confident man while a confident woman is an arrogant bitch. Here, however, the confident man is the anti-Christ, while the confident woman is imbued with a sense of god-like justice and purpose. Amen. See, we're totally progressing. If you had any doubt about how far we've come in America, all you need to do is think back to last night's Emmy Awards when Heidi Klum's tuxedo was ripped from her while she screamed. Someone pass me a Virginia Slim.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rebecca Cohn Goes To Law School, Misunderstands Elle Woods, Loses Election for 1L Rep

Wow, really? I hadn't heard former Assemblywoman and San Jose Magazine cover model Rebecca Cohn was now a UCD 1L. Good for her? (You know I don't think law school is necessarily the best choice for anyone, but if it's what she wants, then I say, bravo for returning and pursuing your dream, Ms. Cohn.)

Except Cohn needed more than Torts to fill her days: she wanted to be a 1L rep. Her campaign included old yard signs, law school letters of rec from other legislators, and a platform plank about using her legislative connections to help 1Ls get paying summer gigs. That would be cool, actually, given that so many 1Ls spend their first summer broke as a joke with nothing to look forward to aside from finding their 2L summer gig. Shiver.

Things got ugly, however, when old rumors surrounding her cover model shoot surfaced. Apparently.

She lost.

And then she said something that violates one of my basic movie-speak rules: she got a character and film completely wrong. Just like the Chron's film critic, though he refused to admit it. She said:
"Elections at the university level are like a Reese Witherspoon movie," she told the Mercury News. "It's about being young and Greek, the Barbie and Ken of the class or something."
No. Unless you mean like the beginning of her movie. Actually, there were no elections in that movie. Do you mean Election? Or do you mean Legally Blonde. Either way, you're totally wrong. None of her movies see the Ken or Barbie being rewarded. Witherspoon's roles are increasingly incorrectly incorporated into political debate and now this situation. Get it right. Homegirl does good work for the sisterhood (Cruel Intentions aside, probably).


(h/t MMK)

Oopsie: I said she used letters of rec from law school - I was incorrect. They were letters of rec for the race itself. Cringggggeee.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It Would Be Great If This Stopped People From Running For Office By Saying They Are Good In Business

Frankly, she's totally right and probably unfairly condemned by the McCain campaign for her truthful statement that Plain, McCain, Biden, and Obama probably would suck in the CEO chair.

Yanking her GOP talking head credentials, however, sends the message that those with skills in business are going to be good executives in public office and vice versa. That's simply not so. Campaign slogans along the lines of "Candidate X . . . A Businessman, not a politician," have long irked the bejesus out of me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not How It Works: Calling Out Sarah Palin Doesn't Make You Sexist

Remember that old Twighlight Zone episode when there are a group of newspaper reporters looking at an airplane but each one sees a different tail number? Yeah, it's kind of like that.

Apparently, the message the GOP needs you to understand is that highlighting a person's shortcomins is inherently sexist. Sarah Palin deserves as much leadership credit - and credit generally - because both are capable of giving live-birth and producing milk for off-spring. Praise isn't an entitlement, it is earned. As is scorn. Of which McCain and the GOP deserve much.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Train Crash Claims The Life Of Promising CMC Student

With a heavy heart, a link to this from the CMC website. Senior Atul Vyas was killed in Friday's Metrolink train crash. Peace to you, Atul, and to your family and friends. (More here.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

But There's Always . . . .

Military cannot rescue ship's crew from Hurricane Ike -
'I've decided not to evacuate,' said iReporter Matteu Erchull on Galveston Island. 'We have a lot of faith in the seawall, and we have boards on the windows. Most people on the island live on second or third stories, so they don't have to worry about the water so much.'

However, Erchull started having second thoughts as the sea surged in.

'There's a lot of concern, actually, because we were getting all gung-ho about staying here, and just now I've taken all my electronics and [I'm] putting them on top of the refrigerator,' he said.

'There's water on my door. It's like you're all ready for it until you start to see it yourself.

'The window of opportunity for us to leave is still available, and I wouldn't be surprised if I heed that warning in the next hour.'
Looks like he's sticking it out though.

Godspeed, Gulf coast

This sounds bad:
'All neighborhoods ... and possibly entire coastal communities ... will be inundated during the peak storm tide,' the weather service warned. 'Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single-family one- or two-story homes will face certain death.'

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

'Palin strategy a lot like Schwarzenegger's'

Yet another reason to be afraid, be very afraid.

Would One Solution Be: Be Less Of A Mom?

This is a bit old now, but since the work/life balance question seems to be popular with Sarah "Totally Inane Candidate" Palin on the GOP ticket.

Concerns seem to fall evenly between whether her having time to devote to her job is paramount, or whether her having time to devote to ensuring her other daughters don't get pregnant too is paramount. The motherhood theme, however, is paramount, period.

Why can't she just be the secondary parent? That word, "secondary," sounds awfully pejorative in this context. I can't come up with a better one, however, to describe the traditional male role in families. We've moved a bit away from it (in this great time when both parents work full time because they can't afford anything and they still can't afford anything), but generally, there's a parent who spends more time parenting and one that spends more time working.

Why the hell can't Todd Palin take a break from snow-machinin' and look after the kids?

Who gives a shit what happens to her kids, for that matter. Chelsea came out fine and her parents were way more messed up. If the Palin kids don't have the seeds of getting-it-togeter-iveness already, then it's probably too late.

The questions themselves are fair to ask, however, especially when the GOP strategy seems to be: SARAH PALIN IS A DEVOTED WIFE AND MOTHER TO FIVE CHILDREN INCLUDING ONE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND ONE WHO, HEEDING GOD'S WORD ABOUT NO ABORTIONS, IS KNOCKED UP AFTER MISSING HIS NO-PREMARITAL SEX WORDS, but now you better effing stop talking about her beeing a wife and mother with special needs kids and a pregnant teen because you're a sexist, sexist, lipstick-free bastard.

The questions are also fair because honest discussions about work/life balance and how we define work and value what's being defined are important.

Of course, they have f*ck-all to do with who should be elected President.

Barack Obama should be elected president because I haven't seen three news articles and on-air pieces per day describing and debunking any lies (see eg: Airplane sold on Ebay, Bridge to Nowhere, etc).

The World Didn't End!

CERN turned on its new collider and we're still here, hooray! Totally safe! Wait, what?
If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did today was turn on an engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until late fall.
So we could still disappear in a puff of logic? Bummer. The article notes, however, that the CERN scientists are amused at the common man's concerns which come, they claim, from science fiction, not fact.

I believe them. What the hell do we know about colliders? I know nothing. Physicists welcome to comment, however.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why We're Pissed

The best explanation yet:
I think what Ms. Warner is dancing around, but not saying outright, is that for a certain kind of feminist, Palin is a symbol for everything we hoped was not true in the world anymore. We hoped that we didn't have to hide our ambition or pretend that our goals were effortlessly achieved ("I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office," the Governor has said.) We hoped that we could be mothers without having our motherhood be our defining characteristic, as it seems to be for Palin. We hoped that we did not have to be perfect beauty queens to get to where we wanted to be in life, that our looks, good or bad, wouldn't matter. Whether or not you think it's appropriate to comment on Palin's appearance, the fact of her attractiveness exists, and is being used to her advantage by Republican sloganeers ("the hottest Governor in the coldest state," et. al).

Keith Olbermann called Sarah Palin "Tracy Flick" after her speech on Wednesday, and I think that's not a perfect parallel. Tracy, while completely ruthless (as Palin has shown herself to be so far with that nasty community organizer comment), never hid her ambition behind a polished veneer — it was as plain as the bows in her hair. No, I think the correct high school stereotype is of the homecoming queen. For many of us looking back at high school, we can now feel a smug superiority towards the homecoming queen. Sure, she was pretty and popular in high school, catering to the whims of boys and cheering on their hockey games, but what happened to her after high school? Often, she popped out some kids and ended up toiling in some not particularly impressive job. We can look back and say, we might have been ambitious nerds in high school, but it ultimately paid off. What's infuriating, and perhaps rage-inducing, about Palin, is that she has always embodied that perfectly pleasing female archetype, playing by the boys' game with her big guns and moose-murdering, and that she keeps being rewarded for it. Our schadenfreude for the homecoming queen's mediocrity has turned into white hot anger at her continued dominance.
With the exception of more slight Flick-misunderstanding, this nails it.

Yet We're Still Covering Her. The One Question We Won't Answer Is: Why?

Sarah Palin won't take questions.

So all media should pull their people until there's something to cover.

But that won't happen.

To Sermon, With Or Without Love

Amber asks what one does when a Sunday church sermon takes a turn for the uncomfortable? She gets many, many comments in response.

The closest I came to walking out of church because of something a priest said was back in 2004 when, at my hometown parish, located at the local Air Force base, a priest basically directed us to vote against John Kerry because of the abortion issue and that if we did not, we were baby killers, not really Catholic, and pretty much lying, hateful people. I paraphrase, but the message was there. I looked at my mom during some of his choicer bits, and she was looking right back at me - we'd both heard the same thing and had the same impulse to leave. As our church is very, very small, and, as a product of our shock, we sat, stunned, until the end of the homily.

I've heard plenty of things with which I disagree at church. Walking out, however, seems like storming out on Thanksgiving dinner with your family: sure, your family can piss you off like no one can, but are you really going to walk out the door and never look back? No. Because your family loves you and you love your family. (By the way, this same reasoning is what gives me short patience with non-practicing Catholics or people who claim to simply be not Catholic anymore. Unless you take steps to formally separate yourself or convert to another religion, I don't see how you can be fully separated from that part of your history and culture simply by ceasing to attend services. But I've been told that's weird thinking.)

At the same time, however, those who attend regular services usually know what they are getting. At my church, there's a rotating schedule of priests with a lot of pinch-hitters from the local community because the Air Force is cuttting its budget. Here in Sacramento, my parish has two regular priests and after nearly seven years of attending, I know the general tenor of each. When I was younger, back at the base, I would sometimes attend the Protestant services with my friends, which convened in the same space as our Catholic services (they simply, I kid you not, removed the Jesus figure from the cross at the front of the room. Presto!). They would rotate between two preachers: one Baptist, one Southern Baptist. Oh, there's a difference, kids. I would know what I was getting with either one.

So, no, I don't think Obama or Palin can absolve themselves fully of all responsibility when it comes to the sorts of sermons to which they listen. But, fairly, most churches have guest speakers and you can't control what gets said from the pulpit every week. And if you're a lifelong churchgoer, it's likely that you've been going to one church your whole life. Even if you have to wait out years of sermons from someone you like less, you'll probably stick it out because it's your church.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Sexist Bully And The Unserious Candidate

An insightful article about how Joe Biden might be able to avoid looking like a bully when he takes on all one of Sarah Palin's dimensions. This became a post-worth article here:
And as any college debater will tell you, it's far harder to beat a clumsy opponent than a good one.
This is true in the legal world as well. I'd rather go up against a seasoned attorney, expert in the particular forum, than a rookie moron grasping in the dark for her 1L civil procedure and 2L trial objections class cheat sheets anyday. No one wins when both sides and the hearing officer are struggling to maintain patience while the lackluster opponent is wasting time misunderstanding the difference between admissibility and relevance.

Whoa, was that a rant? I think it was. Anyway - Biden's challenge lies here:
But if you even hint that Sarah Palin may be opining on the Israel-Palestinian peace process with something Piper pulled off Wikipedia that morning, you will look like a snotty professor lecturing an undergrad. And if you look like a snotty professor, you will come across as a sexist bully.
And the media will help murder you if you do this, Biden, because they already feel like they can't do much more than hold up a microphone for an equal number of each side's talking points (fast forward to the 2:30 mark).

And in conclusion:
Caution: Sarah Palin is funny. And it's the kind of jeering Ann Coulter-funny that's assuredly going to irritate the heck out of you. She'll suggest you are a coward and unpatriotic and also (heh heh) that you are corrupt and dishonest. Keep your poker face. Poker face when she says you plan to raise taxes on the middle class. Poker face when she says she has plans to sell Barack Obama's next celebrity memoir on eBay and give all the money to special-needs children. Don't lunge (a la Lazio). Don't sigh (a la Gore). Don't roll your eyes (a la Where the Wild Things Are) or look longingly into the camera as if to plead "This is the best they could find for me?" Just nod sagely and refute logically. Get off a zinger if you can. ("You're nice enough Sarah" does not constitute a zinger.) But you are not going to beat her at the victim game, or the regular-folks game, or the humor game. You have to beat her on the fact that you are qualified to be a heartbeat from the presidency and that in 10 years she may be, as well.

Take a page from Campbell Brown's book and ask politely (and like you really want to know the answer and not just hear yourself say the question) what she learned while leading the Alaska National Guard into that war against Saskatchewan. But play to your strengths. Know stuff. Say it briefly. Don't accuse her of not knowing things. Just know more.

All Women Are Created Equal. But Don't Confuse That And Pretend We're All The Same.

A great post on why Sarah Palin is not a feminist.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Fight Stupid Rhetoric. Buy This Button Now.

Sarah Palin's sneering attacks (and she's repeating them) on community organizing insult those dedicated to improving their community in their country - on both sides of the aisle.

Want to show the world you're proud of your work? Buy a button, or ten.

Fun With Green Screens: The Google Giveth, The Google Taketh Away

I joked to my husband last night that we should take advantage of McCain delivering part of his speech against a photo of a school (and yeah, I thought it was a school, too, albeit a random image - perhaps a nod to Americana and our love of education as a policy talking point to compensate for not much education talk during the speech?). McCain was in front of the lawn, giving a nice green-screen background for those who like to have fun with photoshop.

Others noticed too. Apparently, the photo is now being described as one of North Hollywood's Walter Reed Middle School. Maybe they meant Walter Reed Medical Center but relied on a quick google search? Probably not, since a google image search gets you a page of the medical center.

Maybe they just wanted a school.

By the way, why is a multi-story waving flag or blue sky with fluttering flag a more worthy backdrop than columns? And who gives a poo anyway?

And how does the GOP get away with slamming Hollywood when they've got this guy? Or maybe this guy? How about this one?

We're Our Own Worst Enemy: Peggy Noonan Thinks Sarah Palin Is Woman Enough

And she thinks Senator Clinton and Speaker Pelosi just aren't woman enough - they are "grim, stentorian," "dazed and ad hoc."

I wonder if Noonan thinks, quietly, that Barack Obama isn't really black. After all, he is so well-spoken, accomplished, educated, and well-groomed. He's a bit dull. He has few flaws to accentuate his virtues. If he were just a bit blacker, he'd be a better candidate, wouldn't he?

Noonan finds Palin more motherly (five young kids vs. Hillary's sole, grown-up, always boring and so far not-demonstrably-fertile Chelsea), more vivid, and an American Mama who joins the board and heads the committee. Palin is the real woman. Hillary is the false woman like Barack is the false black.

Does it get any more insulting than this?

Wait, it does. Because Peggy Noonan is entirely full of shit. I didn't even sub out the "i" there, that's how full of shit she is.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

And While We're At It: Two Must-Sees

Since today's word is Inconsistency, here's The Daily Show, hitting one out of the ballpark:

And, lastly, something that better captures the McCain paradox than anything I could ever write. Given the option and the right dark alley, I've no doubt that McCain would happily beat the snot out of George Bush.

p.s. SK points to this. Relatedly, if McCain is Mav, is Palin Goose? Is Bush the Ice Man?

Potato, Potahto: Or What The GOP Did Not Teach Us About Consistency During Their Convenion

From John McCain's speech:
We’re dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.
Now contrast with Sarah Palin's:
Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America ... [Obama]'s worried that someone won't read them their rights?
And if you saw or heard the speech, you'll recall just how that line was delivered.

From John McCain's speech:
If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you’re disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself.
From Sarah Palin's:
This world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer. . . . .
I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.
And if you saw or heard the speech, you'll recall just how THOSE lines were delivered.

I think the worst part about what this campaign has become since McCain chose Palin is that I don't think, in his heart, McCain is like Palin. I think he's better than that. Or he was. She's likely the same sort of ruthless neocon that destroyed his best self in 2000 - the John McCain for which I'd have been tempted to cast my vote. Despite his someone clunky delivery and forced smile, I think John McCain believes his nobler urgings this evening. I think he believes in this country. I'm not sure he believes in himself anymore - or he doesn't believe he has the option.

I know it's the candidates' job to play nice and let others do the real opponent clubbing. The would-be-Veeps duke it out so Obama and McCain can stay somewhat clean. But there's clubbing and there's clubbing. Palin didn't just insult McCain, she insulted me.

She insulted every field organizer and activist upon which her party will rely. She insulted those who've helped elect her so far. She's elected the founding fathers she inaccurately, but with great faith, credited with crafting our pledge of allegiance.

Lord knows, I love a bitchy, no-nonsense woman. Bitches get stuff done. But you gotta be a bitch FOR something. And don't be an ignorant bitch, either. And, while we're at it, and to bring us back to this post's theme, don't be an inconsistent bitch - not with your party, not with the top of your ticket, not with yourself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin Has Just Put Your A** on Notice

Some speech, eh?

As one friend texted, she's the best Obama advertisment yet - and after he texted, he donated.

She was straight up insulting at times. Her speech was rich with biblical allusions and references to major campaign narratives but free of overt "Thanks, Hillary" moments.

And the GOP seemingly forever removed from its arsenal the notion of family values or the benefits of bearing children in wedlock as Sarah Palin obliquely dismissed her daughter's pregnancy: "Our family has the same ups and downs as any other ... the same challenges and the same joys."

Also, it appears Palin missed Fred Thompson's speech in which he informed us that things are actually going really well in America:

We do so while taking a different view of our country than that of the other party. Listening to them, you'd think that we were in the middle of a Great Depression -- (laughter) -- that we're down, disrespected, incapable of prevailing against challenges that face us. Now, we know that we have challenges. Always have, always will. But we also know that we live in the freest, strongest, most generous and prosperous nation in the history of the world and we're thankful for that. (Cheers, applause.)
Thompson didn't use the word "danger" once. Palin used the word and its relatives at least three times, telling us "this world of threats and dangers is not just a community, and it doesn't just need an organizer." World of threats and dangers? I thought we were cool!

She reserved especially vitriolic tones for her mentions of Obama's community organizing - one could almost see the words thrown from her mouth into the convention hall onto which the delegates could leap and tear apart.

It's easy to envision Sarah Palin in the woods, sight trained on big game, taking her shots with ease and glee. As at least one YouTube parody I saw today pointed out (I can't remember which or find it now), this lady went from the PTA to the governor's mansion pretty freaking fast. Underestimating her would be a mistake.

Judging her unqualified or unprepared for the office may or may not be a mistake.

Deciding her values fly in the face of mine and probably yours, liberal reader, that's totally fine and encouraged.

To Which Branch Does The VP Belong?

And do we really need one?

Some Things To Consider Re: Bristol

Is it okay to use Bristol as a talking point? Is it not okay? And why do we think it's okay to give AK so much sh*t generally?

It's possible, if not factual, that we're giving Palin and her family far more gender-biased, sexist commentary than HRC ever explicitly received. And we're certainly making more fun of Alaska than is really necessary. As one who loves West Virginia, I try not to saddle Alaska with oakie/redneck/frontierspeople diction in a bad way.

I do make fun of California too. In fact, I think I could mock pretty much any state, so that must make it okay to go after Alaska.

But on a more serious note, what of Bristol Palin? What of her situation?

I think the "No going after Bristol" blogger is more incorrect than the "She's fair game" blogger, but both have valid points.

The thing is, most of what I've seen isn't really going after Bristol personally. It goes after her mother for the choices she's (you can use "she" as the pronoun for either woman) made. There are good facts out there supporting that Alaska isn't necessarily an abstinence-only bastion of unsafe sexual practices and ignorance. And crap happens in every family. Having spent the summer strangely fixed on ABC Family's (let's not discuss ABC's definition of family-friendly programming in the 8pm hour, but whatevs) The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I have to say what I WANT to see is Sarah and/or Bristol Palin giving an Amy Juergens style address to the camera about why teens should talk with their parents about sex and maybe avoid these really, truly heavy problems facing the fictional Amy Juergens and the real Bristol Palin.

This is what is most negligent about the McCain campaign and RNC turning the pregnancy into some sort of perverse chastity symbol where chastity is remaining pure enough not to abort your fetus.

Celebrating Britol's choice (oh that word) to keep her baby does more to condone (oh THAT word) teen sex and pregnancy than Juno and Juergens and free condoms in high schools combined.

Bristol has nothing to be ashamed of, per se. But while she can later take pride in responsibly raising her child, no doubt with the loving support of a strong family, she should not be prideful right now.

Note that in nearly all articles, the situation is described as the disclosure that Sarah Palin's unmarried, teenage daughter is pregnant.

Her marital status isn't really the issue, is it? We don't generally condemn unwed mothers these days. The more relevant fact is she's a teenager. Girls shouldn't have little girls or little boys of their own. Not at 17. With no child, college is easier, starting a career is easier, exploring the world is easier. All those things are 100% possible even with a posse of children, but do we really think Bristol's life is easier now than it might have been had she made different decisions about 6 months or so ago?

This isn't about the morality of premarital sex or abortion. It's about helping our daughters, sisters, and friends make reasoned decisions - about preserving their choices. It's not about the choice to remain pregnant, it's about the choice to get pregnant in the first place.

And politically, it's about evaluating whether you want to elect a party that can't see the real issues here, even after supposedly having a corner on this issue-market since at least the point at which Dan Quayle went after Murphy Brown.

Talking about Bristol Palin is fair game, so long as we stick to a consistent, strategic playbook. The GOP isn't. So I'd advise you not vote for them.

An aside: Consider this and mull both HRC and Palin's candidacies and the narratives we've placed on them:

So where do women fit into Guyland? Peripherally, at best, Kimmel says, and when we're considered, we're in a double-bind. "[Young women] want to be smart and pretty, feminine and successful. Yet this leaves many of them feeling like they have to live up to two impossible standards…In a now famous study of the life of women on its campus, researchers at Duke heard a phrase that seemed to capture the core of this new femininity on campus: 'effortless perfection.' You can do it all, but you mustn't try too hard," or else you'll scare of those guys who are deeply afraid of an assertive woman, Kimmel says. "The appearance of effortless is the way young women reconcile such conflicting demands. 'I just happened to be beautiful and brilliant. I can't help it. Don't hold it against me.'" (This makes me think of Sarah Palin, who has continuously downplayed her success in the few days since she's been running for Vice President. Just today, Palin demurred, "I never really set out to be in public affairs, much less to run for this office." Because trying hard is icky! I digress.)
Actually, reading this again just in the time it took to post it this evening, I'm changing my mind on what can be drawn from it. This notion that "shucks, it's a calling, I never WANTED to be president, I haven't been gunning for success or working towards a goal because that would be wrong" is pervasive in American politics. Only in politics, however.

Is it a hold over from our British roots? There's a burning need not to take too much credit for one's accomplishments yet also a constant cultural emphasis on success, goal-setting and achieving, and winning-for-winning's-sake. We can't reconcile these opposing forces, which is probably why we have so many 24 hours news channels now. They lay the foundation for our love/hate relationship with hypocrisy.

I mean, look at it. Right there is a particularly ugly example. We're a country of dreams, of THE dream, dammit. But if you get caught achieving what you dreamt of, well, you better make sure you're not in a public profession when it occurs.

I think this applies to both sexes in politics. But women do start much younger.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Through The Looking Glass

Levi Johnston to join Palin family at convention.

For serious?

History Is Overrated Anyway

Pop quiz, readers: how long has the Pledge of Allegiance been around?

I'll cop to not knowing the Pledge's full history. I DID know, however, that references to God were added in the 1950s to both the Pledge and our currency.

Sarah Palin doesn't know anything about the Pledge's history, however.

Also, a side-by-side of Obama and Palin's resumes. While something things are snarkier than needed, considering the Reep's attacks have been nearly 100% focused on Obama's lack of experience, it's fair to come back at the Reeps now.

Oh Hastings, How You Continue To Fail Students

So, I heard today that Hastings now offers as one of its 1L elective statuory classes a new Legislation selection taught by Ethan J. Leib. His resume is impressive if you look at law school as a place to insulate students from knowing anything about how the non-law-world operates.

Hastings, of course, already had a professor teaching legislation who has - wait for it - actual experience working directly with a legislature. How insane is that!

People wonder why I'm daily thankful for my CMC education but not my Hastings education? This is why. CMC managed to unite intense academic study with practical experience to make sure we could go forth in the world and both understand AND live in it. Not so much with Hastings. All law schools really.

The final straw, however, comes from Prof. Leib's book,
Deliberative Democracy In America: A Proposal For A Popular Branch Of Government. I should've known from his class listings including "direct democracy" that this guy and I would not likely be besties:

We are taught in civics class that the Constitution provides for three basic branches of government: executive, judicial, and legislative. While the President and Congress as elected by popular vote are representative, can they really reflect accurately the will and sentiment of the populace? Or do money and power dominate everyday politics to the detriment of true self-governance? Is there a way to put "We the people" back into government? Ethan Leib thinks there is and offers this blueprint for a fourth branch of government as a way of giving the people a voice of their own.

While drawing on the rich theoretical literature about deliberative democracy, Leib concentrates on designing an institutional scheme for embedding deliberation in the practice of American democratic government. At the heart of his scheme is a process for the adjudication of issues of public policy by assemblies of randomly selected citizens convened to debate and vote on the issues, resulting in the enactment of laws subject both to judicial review and to possible veto by the executive and legislative branches. The "popular" branch would fulfill a purpose similar to the ballot initiative and referendum but avoid the shortcomings associated with those forms of direct democracy. Leib takes special pains to show how this new branch would be integrated with the already existing governmental and political institutions of our society, including administrative agencies and political parties, and would thus complement rather than supplant them.
No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no NO!

Wait, you want an group of people to come together and deliberate about pressing issues of public policy.


Sweet baby Jesus, how on earth does someone who comes up with this as a novel approach to solving our problems get tasked with teaching baby lawyers about legislation. Clearly he doesn't believe in it.

This offends me as a lawyer, a former law student, a student period, a thinking person, a First Branch Loyalist, and an American.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Yet, I Can Still Imagine Us Losing This Argument

McCain's VP selection is so ripe for mockery, but somehow, we've probably backed ourselves - or will soon allow ourselves to be backed - into a corner from which we can't attack Sarah Palin at all.

You know her kid's knocked up, right? Bristol Palin, 17, is 5 months pregnant. Abstinece only, y'all! It's so very Jamie Lynn Spears, isn't it? And they're getting married, which makes it all okay, right? Totttalllly. Guess Bristol didn't watch those stern warnings at the end of the Secret Life of The American Teenager, eh?

I worked with a woman from Alaska who had her first daughter at about 16. Her take on it was that's what you get for raising kids in a state where there are months with like 16 hours of daylight. How else are they supposed to fill the time. Or something.

Poor McCain thought he'd dodged bad company when Gustav kept the current Prez and Veep away. Bummer.

But, bravely, Sarah Palin chooses to celebrate her daughter's accomplishments:

"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," Palin and her husband, Todd, said in a statement.
WRONG ANSWER! Thankfully, the issue never came up in my household, but I'm almost positive that my parents' statement would not have involved the words "proud of."

Wouldn't a better statement have been something to the effect of we're sticking by our daughter and hope that through her mistakes, kids today can learn that they should wait so they aren't faced with this sort of responsibility at this age and p.s. she's grounded until her kid's old enough vote.

Frankly, I find the elder Palins' statement unrealistic and borderline insane. Don't turn this into a pro-life moment of celebration you morons! If you're old enough to have sex, you sure as hell better be old enough to have safer sex. Maybe the condom broke or she skipped her pill that day accidently, but I doubt it. There should be no high-fives in teen pregnancy.

Another article summarizes the Palins' response as: they welcomed the news that their daughter would keep her baby and soon marry. The news? I suppose since she's pregnant at 17, they must frequently get "news" from their daughter. She doesn't seek their counsel? Was this a group decision? Do you not need parental consent for a sub-18 marriage in Alaska? I don't think my parents would accept "news" like that. Bristol is certainly calling a lot of shots for a person who can't even vote yet.

Unfair semantics-based attack? Maybe, but c'mon, hasn't our party received nothing but shit for decades about harboring or encouraging rampant teen sex? I think we've earned our eye-rolling at this situation.

Want more eye-rolling? Here, as predicted just paragraphs ago:

Most staunch Republicans in St. Paul, hearing the news, tried to accentuate the positive: Palin's daughter is keeping the baby and getting married, a plus - the embodiment of family values, they said.

"I'm not a feminist, never have been, and I opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because it was bad law," said Jo Ellen Allen, a delegate from Newport Beach. "But women ought to be applauding her ... this happens to the best of families."

"As a delegate, and as a woman, I respect them even more now,' said Miryam Mora, 26, a GOP delegate from Los Angeles, whose reaction mirrored many others' inside Xcel Energy Center. "It's a family with real issues and real problems ... but it's an amazing family."

Seriously, y'all, how is this a pro-life/pro-choice issue? The options here aren't abort or birth, they're get pregnant or don't get pregnant. Shit happens in every family. That Bristol had sex doesn't make her evil, less worthy as a person, bad, or wrong. But it does raise good questions about the virtues of whatever sex-ed she was provided. Maybe a bit about her parenting (though again, save the comments about how this happens in great, involved families - I know it does, but then again, it also doesn't). But to let this become a pro-life flag-wave-athon is stupid and moves the debate nine-months forward in time from where it should focus.