astute observation

A friend of ours was getting her political discourse on and watched this interview in preparation.

Her reaction to it:

She was reminding me of {name removed to protect the nice-but-stupid}. The reason I say that is that she seems like she is totally in over her head, but she can BS enough to look good to people who are as stupid as she is.

That struck me as the most astute observation I’ve heard yet from someone I know personally. Sarah Palin may be able to pull the wool over some or even most of the voting public’s eyes, but that stuff around seven minutes into the interview sure won’t fly as soon as she’s called upon to represent the U.S. in anything international.

I mean, I know she’s evil. Outlawing abortion, pork barrel spending, blurring the separation of church and state, and book bannings: those are all things that I expect from politicians whose positions conflict with my own. From her policy standpoint, clearly, I think she’d be bad for the country. I can sort of accept that those kinds of candidates exist.

But based on her statements in the interview above, where she’s flying solo in response to questions and challenges posed to her instead of charming her supporters and belittling her opponents in prepared statements with no opportunity for spontaneous dialog, it’s clear to me that Sarah Palin is simply unprepared to lead the nation. Matt Damon seems to think so, too:

What exactly did the McCain camp expect her to come up with when the time comes to show what she knows? We know she got elected to govern Alaska because pretty much everyone else in Alaskan government was corrupt and Alaska desperately looked to the least familiar face in the game. And it was pretty. And maybe that and some hockey mom tactics was enough for Alaska. But we as a nation really need more than that.

I am dreading having to explain to my coworkers how she could even be considered for the job.

Senator Jim Inhofe — what a slimeball

He thinks if you can't see it, you won't believe it
He thinks if you can't see it, you won't believe it.
Attention Oklahomans:

Please vote this guy out of office. He is insulting you. Here’s a quote from a Tulsa newspaper from him about the decision voters will have to make:

“Do you really want to have a guy as commander in chief of this country when you can question whether or not he really loves his country?” he asked.

“That’s the big question.”

Aroo? Barack Obama’s love for his country is questionable? The article continues:

After he was asked for an explanation on why voters should question Obama’s love for his country, Inhofe issued a written statement on Friday to clarify his earlier comments.

“Let me be clear,” he said.

“I am not questioning Sen. Obama’s patriotism, but you have to question why at times he seems so obviously opposed to public displays of patriotism and national pride, like wearing an American flag lapel pin.”

Inhofe said Americans can show pride in their country in different ways but suggested all should be straightforward.

OK, let me get this straight. Senator Inhofe would have you believe the following:

  1. Patriotism and love of country are two separate issues.
  2. Not indulging in public displays of patriotism and national pride casts doubt upon one’s love of country (though not one’s patriotism, right Senator?).
  3. All ways of showing pride in ones country should be straightforward.

That’s a pretty hefty load. I’m willing to let the first point slide by as a politician’s attempt to wiggle out of a statement he shouldn’t have made. But the other two are unforgivable. Senator Inhofe wants you, his electorate, to be able to judge who is patriotic and who is not with simple, obvious, visual clues.

So you don’t have to trouble yourself with any sort of subtle truth. Oklahomans, I hope you feel insulted. But that’s not all! Perusing the Senator’s entry on Wikipedia, I came across these gems:

  • He thinks global warming is a hoax perpetrated by The Weather Channel so as to attract greater numbers of viewers.
  • He thinks the separation of church and state as a founding principle of the United States is an even bigger hoax than Global Warming.
  • He suggested that the U.S. earned the 9/11 attacks as punishment from God for not sticking up for Israel more.
  • He is proud that no one in his family has ever been divorced or involved in any kind of homosexual relationship.

Actually, on that last point there, it is pretty cool that no one in his family has ever been divorced. Not many families can say that and I hope it is a testament to the spouses’ commitments to each other. But to be proud of not ever having had a homosexual relationship in the family is like being proud that no one in your family has ever had blue eyes.

So please, good citizens of OKlahoma, realize what this scumbag really thinks of you — and the majority of U.S. citizens — and help him get a new job.

Cripes, just say what you mean!

Hot off the presses from http://www.knbc.com/politics/17024705/detail.html?rss=la&psp=news:

SACRAMENTO — Anti-gay marriage groups say California Attorney General Jerry Brown is twisting their words.

Supporters of a ballot measure that would ban gay marriage want to amend the state Constitution to say “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

But last week, Brown’s office changed Proposition 8’s ballot title and summary to say the measure seeks to “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Project Marriage coalition spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns says her group plans to sue to get the language changed back.

Uh, why? I don’t mind putting words in her mouth. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that she’s worried that might seem discriminatory. Or hateful. Or — and this is a rough one — less likely to get voted in.

Doesn’t the fact that saying what you mean on the ballot decreases the chances it’ll pass point toward something that’s bad for the voting public? And does Project Marriage think that they can successfully sue to euphemize their ballot without appearing to deceive the very voters they want to woo? What does that say about their regard for the voting public?

My problem with that is completely in addition to and beyond the usual argumentation:

  • It undermines marriage!
  • There are serious consequences!
  • Such as undermining marriage!
  • …which has…uh…serious consequences!

Anyone against same-sex marriage (you can call it anything you like – same-sex marriage, gay marriage, homosexual matrimony, whatever — the terminology in this regard is unimportant) reading this, please listen up. I’m trying to help you — especially if you live in California — by pointing out how you are being Animal Farmed out of legitimacy. The Protect Marriage coalition doesn’t think you’re capable of noticing that “only between a man and woman is valid or recognized” means the same as “eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.”

Oh, speaking of legitimacy: please explain to me again how anyone’s heterosexual marriage gets undermined when two men or two women tie the knot?

I know two things:

  1. Same-sex marriage has zero effect on my own marriage.
  2. Same-sex marriage, legal throughout the country, would be a tremendous boost in pride for me as a citizen. It would mean that we treat people fairly by offering all the same financial benefits and a shot at being happy together.

Organizations like “Protect Marriage” really get my dander up because “Marriage” is not under attack and does not need protection — except from those who would seek to use it as a tool of bigotry.

Obama in Berlin

Sarah and I were just watching Barack Obama’s speech. Nice work — not Earth-shatteringly good (didn’t move me out of my chair), but pretty good.

I am a little perturbed at the German TV commentator’s reactions to it. One dude said (and I’m paraphrasing here…no TiVo in my brain…yet):

We were expecting something like a rock concert, sure didn’t get that…

May I ask why? I know they were remarking upon the relative youth of the crowd gathered to hear him speak (one guy guessed an average age of about 25). Do you think that was the reason they thought they were going to get something other than what Obama delivered? Were the German commentators expecting a rock concert atmosphere by virtue of the attendees? Should the attendees feel offended? I think I’d be (am?) miffed that the TV commentators thought a youngish crowd to hear a politician speak would bring a rock-n-roll atmosphere with them. I mean, they attended to listen to Obama — they knew what they were in for. Why were the German newsfolk suprised?

This kind of reminds me of the taste left in my mouth after reading about a potentially really offensive headline over at PapaScott.de a while back. It’s not so much that it’s outright offensive — just oddly wrong and out-of-place, like they’re using words they don’t quite understand or just told a joke they don’t really get.

How newsworthy is the media itself?

Tim Russert died recently. He hosted a news/politics show on an American TV network, a show that I’ve admittedly never watched, and he apparently died rather unexpectedly. Sounds sad, like it would be for anyone with a personal connection to him. But I have some honest questions: why have there been three segments on Larry King Live about this? How is it relevant to CNN International’s web or television viewing audience? I don’t get it.

I don’t watch a lot of German TV. In fact, I don’t watch a lot of any TV*, which is included in our cable package as part of our rent (and we pay into the GEZ just like we’re supposed to). But I can’t shake the impression that other cultures wouldn’t flood television or other information sources talking about the death of a person with a similar role.

I mean, do Germans even know the names of their nightly newscasters if you stop them on the street and ask? Maybe they do (but I sure don’t). But I really wonder if this is a particularly American phenomenon. Maybe I’m losing touch with my own roots the longer we live over here, or maybe the limited TV exposure (thanks Mom and Dad) at home growing up didn’t foster a perceived personal connection to the voices and faces in the glowing box. Is this perceived personal connection, or the implication of its existence, a symptom of something very unsettling in modern popular American culture?

I guess what I’m asking is:

  • Have kids grown up with so much television exposure that there is a personal connection to media personalities? Of course it’s a one-way street, so how sick is that? I’m guessing television watching hasn’t decreased at all since the time my skull was still soft, so what are the implications for today’s kids?

  • Is it important for Pfizer, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKlineBeechWellcome and the like that you are fully aware of the Tim Russert tragedy so that you can ask your doctor* about their exciting new product lines designed to keep you — and your other TV-family members — safe from circulatory system problems?

Now that I’m complaining about the media coverage on the media coverage, it feels like I’m part of the problem, and I’m getting a little woozy from looking into that infinite series of mirrors.

Time to head out to the ol’ ballpark. Stay tuned.