Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin and why you sometimes see me, fingers in ears, eyes shut tight, shouting, "Nah nah nah, I can't hear you!!"

Who is this Sarah Palin? And why do I keep wanting to call her Nancy or Cathy? Yeah, she totally looks like a Cathy to me. But that is neither here nor there. My plan today is to round up some information on this person of whom I've never before this week heard even the slightest mention. And to explain to those who know me why sometimes I'm like, "Let's learn everything about this issue; come on, it'll be fun," and others I'm like, "Lalalalala! I don't wanna know! Shut up shut up shut up! Lalalalala!". Please add links to other interesting information about Palin and why she was chosen in the comments, if you find it!

Where to start? I have quite a few go-to sites (as it turns out). If I want the liberal, not-on-tv view, I go to Washington Monthly or Kevin Drum (now on Mother Jones). If I want the "we're so in the middle, we make up opposing viewpoints to stories that don't really have them" view, I go to CNN. For someone shouting an echo of how I feel about something at an unreasonable volume, Countdown with Keith Olbermann. (I'm really looking forward to Rachel Maddow's new show - I think it might be "someone echoing how I feel about something at a reasonable volume".) For the Oregon connection, The Oregonian. For the full backstory that will make me feel like it's impossible to hate anyone and to totally understand who they are as a person, the New Yorker. Usually I would consider The New York Times and Washington Post good sources of factual information. And of course, for the Crazy, I have to turn to Fox News. Oh, or a Bill Kristol op-ed in The New York Times.

But what that leaves out is a real sense of what's going on in a real conservative's head. Generally speaking, I avoid trying to do that anyway. I hate to admit it, but I'm only a sort of political person. In the same way that I overempathize with characters on tv, how George's antics on Seinfeld make me feel personally ashamed and nauseated, reading someone's passionate opinions that are in direct contradiction with my own and knowing that I can do nothing to convince them they're wrong also makes me feel sick. I feel depressed, despondent, angry and yes, a little nauseated. We are each largely powerless to enact real change in the world on our own. It's why we form communities of like-minded people. Barack Obama isn't where he is today because he, as one man, had some great ideas. He's there because he had some great ideas that appealed to communities of people who acted cooperatively and collectively to push him to the forefront as the spokesman for their beliefs. I know this, but I get bogged down in the details, the individuals. I know I can't persuade an anti-abortionist that their point of view doesn't make for good policy and is, in fact, in contradiction with both science and the ethical standards of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart that good people who only want a better world can be so closed-minded and, well, so wrong. And then I realize that if one person is making that point of view known on a national level, they represent a community and then I feel totally, completely powerless. And I can't sleep at night. So a lot of the time, I tune out politics entirely, because it's just too draining to pay attention.

That said, I will try to keep my head out of the sand through this, even though the stuff Pete was reading aloud last night was already turning my stomach.

I think I'll start with CNN. They've been driving me nuts lately with their "it's not real journalism if you don't provide two opposing viewpoints, so make something up!" style of reporting. As predicted, they offer two opposing commentaries. Although as Pete pointed out, the craziest right wing thing they could find (apparently) was "She's okay, guys," while the left wing piece is literally titled, "Is McCain out of his mind?" Their article on her biography begins with what I think is a perfect summary of the differences between the McCain and Obama campaigns thus far. McCain's people say what they would like to be true and Obama's people state the facts in simple sentences.
The McCain campaign calls her a "tough executive who has demonstrated" readiness to be president. The Republican National Committee calls her a "conservative star with the talent, energy and family support necessary to carry out common sense policies."

But the Obama campaign calls her a candidate with "the thinnest foreign policy experience in history" who is "currently under investigation in her own state." And one of the Senate's top Democrats, Charles Schumer, said that although she is "a fine person, her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling."
So here are facts I have gleaned from CNN. She's...
  • 44
  • not just the governor of Alaska, she's the first female governor of Alaska
  • the mother of 5 children, including one heading to Iraq
  • been "a beauty queen, high school basketball star and TV sportscaster."
  • the ex-mayor of Wasilla, AK
  • been involved in the politics of oil
  • under investigation for having the safety commissioner fired because he wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in-law
  • anti-abortion
  • pro-gun, a hunter and a lifetime member of the NRA
  • nicknamed "Barracuda" from her basketball days (not because she's a huge Heart fan, sadly)
  • "outside the beltway"
Here are the buzzwords I've gleaned from CNN
  • Game-changer
  • Maverick
  • Hail-Mary pass
I like this Rollins quote, too. It's like the second sentence and the last two are completely unrelated. Actually, the last two sentences are themselves completely unrelated, except in Rollins head. Pete liked that his ace in the hole is, "she plays the flute." Well, touche!
She is blunt, outspoken and charming. And don't assume she can't stand toe-to-toe with Joe Biden. She is a great debater. And she was runner-up for the Miss Alaska title, won Miss Congeniality in that contest and plays the flute.
Rollins believes she'll appeal to women because, you know, she's got ovaries or something. I agree with Tina and Dale's comments to my post yesterday: the idea that she'll draw away Hillary supporters from the Democratic fold is laughable. And it shows how intensely sexist we still are as a culture. But I think Sam Bee summed it up best on the Daily Show last night.

Okay, I'm not even going to look at the iReports because they'll just make me angry. Where to next? Let's go to the Washington Monthly. At least there someone will be willing to say what we're all thinking: This is a totally irresponsible choice. Holy cats, there's a lot of it. Maybe a summary would be better.
  • Here is what the Right is thinking. They're, um, not impressed. She's unqualified, she's not ready to lead anyone should McCain die and they don't want to vote for her.
  • And here are what Alaskans think. They think she's unqualified, she's not even a good governor of Alaska, she doesn't really understand the job and she oversimplifies complex issues.
  • And here is a summary of how totally nuts this choice is.
  • Not only did she very likely fire someone for not firing her ex-brother-in-law, she appears to be caught on tape lying about it. She also "then replaced him with a guy facing a credible sexual harassment accusation, and who was out of the job two weeks later." There's also a link to a WaPo story about "just how embarrassing this scandal is for" her. I can't decide what my favorite part is, though. The part where we're informed that the word "impeach" has been thrown around up north or the part where the author (Steve Benen) suggests that she might not be on the ticket come November. I agree with Pete, though, on that count: it would be just as big a train wreck.
  • Washington Monthly also agrees with Tina and Dale: women just aren't this shallow/stupid. WM keeps talking about how cynical a choice this is, and the more I read, the more I agree with that assessment. It's not just cynical about how women choose a leader, it's cynical about Americans in general. McCain might as well start handing out buttons that say, "Fuck you, Morons. McCain '08."
  • A classic quote from McCain's people. "Hey guys, don't worry: doctors assure us McCain's got at least four more years in him." Also, they admit that she isn't ready to lead.
  • This choice may be explained by the fact that McCain had only ever spoken to her twice before offering her the VP spot.
  • Clearly, Karl Rove was not consulted about the VP pick. This is a great quote from earlier this month where he basically describes all the reasons Palin is a poor choice in talking about why Tim Kaine, governor of Virginia, would be a bad choice for Obama. Hilarious!
  • If you only read one of these, read this one. It's a short, amusing list of items pertaining to Palin and McCain. McCain fun fact: he's 23 years older than Alaska.
  • Evidently, living in a state that borders another country is the same as foreign policy experience. Oh Fox News, it wouldn't be as funny if you weren't so damn proud of yourself.
  • She claims she was against the Bridge to Nowhere, but that might not be the whole story. In fact, she supported the project and kept the money.
Okay, maybe let's move on. Actually, this has gotten crazy long already, so I'm going to post it and then start a new entry with further links as I find them. So far the evidence leads me to believe that my assessment from yesterday remains the only plausible explanation.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ferret Redux

Someone has posted a comment on my post from last year about the Ferret Fancier program on OPB. I had totally forgotten about that thing. I went to YouTube to relive the glory and remembered why it made me so mean when everyone else thought it was purely hilarious: the dreaded tardwillies. I think you will agree, it's the most tardwilly inducing thing ever. Also, totally hilarious.


Okay, so here is my theory about McCain's bizarre choice: when he and Obama were the clear candidates, they sat down in a secret meeting and decided that Obama should clearly be the next president. "I will do everything in my power to make myself completely unpalatable," McCain says, his eyes tearful with pride, protecting his nation once again.
"I wish it didn't have to come to this, Old Friend," Obama says. "I wish this nation wasn't filled with idiots who will vote for any damn thing Fox News tells them to." McCain shakes his head.
"You know, I love this country more than anything. I would - and will - give my soul for it." Obama tries to interject, to console the brave warrior, but McCain raises his hand. "No, it's true. I just don't understand how people vote. I mean, if you truly love this country, wouldn't you want it run by experts?"
Obama smiles wryly. "Damn that Andrew Jackson... You know, it's been all downhill since he won on his "Isn't illiteracy cute? Ha ha!" ticket. Old Hickory indeed. But how will you do it, John? I mean, you've managed to look pretty forgetful and old these last few weeks, but you're no Bush. And even if you were, Americans keep electing that guy!"
"Yeah, what is up with that?" Both McCain and Obama are silent for a moment, scratching their heads in earnest thought. Then McCain continues: "It's quite simple, really. I'll be completely inconsistent in the positions I hold. I'll make bizarre claims and generally act like an old goat. When given a host of viable VP candidates, I'll choose some no-name, right wing wacko out of left field."
"What, like Miss Congeniality, Sarah Palin?" Obama jokes.
"Hey - that's not a bad idea. She's hot - and you know how I like the ladies - she's nuts, and she's totally inexperienced. She'll scare away the moderates, ire the sexists and get everyone else so hot under the collar they can't make it out the door to vote!"
"I don't know, it could be risky."
"But it's worth it, Friend! America is worth it!"
"You're doing a great thing, John. A great thing." They embrace and weep gentle tears of patriotic sacrifice.

Also, everyone should participate in Pete's LOLVP contest. I think it should be either VP, so look for those awesome "Wherz mah bukit??" Joe Biden pictures. Oh Internets, is there anything you can't turn into a meaningless meme?

EDIT: I fixed the spelling and punctuation errors. (Helps to have an editor for a husband!) I don't know why spell check wasn't underlining things before. And now it's underlining "wasn't." Truly, technology is a marvel. (I bet I just misspelled "marvel.")