Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

And So The GOP Field Starts To Cure Like Cement

Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin at 2008 GOP convention. Photo from PBS Newshour photo stream in Flickr.

You know what I think? Well, I’m not sure, but:

Barack Obama is going to win.

Yeah, I know, it’s by far not a sure thing. And he might have done better if Sarah Palin had decided to toss her hunting cap into the ring and was nominated,because, really.

But she has given up, because she’s more free to seek and speak her mind that way. Good luck.

New Jersey’s governor is insisting that no means no,  like a college counselor advising incoming freshmen football players.

So the current crop of GOP hopefuls is what we’re probably stuck with. Sarah might, in a way, have strengthened the field by drawing off the crazies and maybe helping someone reasonable emerge. I really hope the GOP nominates someone I can live with as President, because he (or, horrors, she) might win. (The “horrors,” by the way, are not at the idea of a woman president, just a reaction to that particular possibility in the current GOP field.)

But, who will the GOP pick? Slow-talking, bad-dressing Rick? Slick, position-switching Mitt? Tall walking, smart talking, imaginative and slightly loony Ron?

The ecomomy sucks, the wars drag on, a federal budget deficit mounts, the gap between have and have not yawns wider as more are laid off into the economic void of despair—and yet, I think, Obama is going to win.

Because who is going to beat him?

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Life From On High When You Fear Falling

Bridge over I-5

Walking over I-5 in Seattle. Way, way over I-5.

I had my picture taken with a cutout of John Wayne in Vancouver, Canada. But I’m not John Wayne, not a he-man at all.

There’s plenty in this world I’m scared of. Wasps. Badly cooked tofu. Flat bike tires. Sarah Palin.

But, high up on my primordial fear list, right alongside “fear of flying,” is “fear of heights.”

I’m not paralyzed by it. When need be, I can climb a ladder. But I would prefer to avoid roller coasters. Why ratchet yourself way up in the air and then free-fall?

Fancy fish

Fancy fish at Seattle Aquarium.

Well, today I had to face my fear of heights. Audrey and I were in Seattle, and were on our own today as Nalena flew to a conference in Atlanta and Jon worked. We rode with Nalena downtown, where she caught a light rail train to the airport while we walked down to the Seattle Aquarium, which we visited courtesy of tickets she had downloaded for us.

We enjoyed watching the fishies and birds and sea mammals and the school kids and the lesser kids who sometimes strayed.

Then we spent some time at Pike Place Market and had nice fish sandwiches at Lowell’s. Walked for 30 minutes or so to the Seattle Art Museum outdoor sculpture display and got all cultured there.

Then, we had to return to Jon’s apartment. We could have hopped a bus or streetcar, but the day was getting warmer and sunnier and we were in the mood (despite my bum knee) to walk, so walk we did.

We didn’t know the route, but Jon had given us a map and we didn’t get lost. Did not realize, looking at the map, that the street which crosses I-5 crosses way, way, over I-5. You expect them to provide oxygen masks.  We feared passing airliners.  As in probably even up with the space needle top or higher high.  I am not wild about driving across bridges, but this was the second time in 2 days (the first was in Vancouver) where I found myself very high in the sky walking on an uppity bridge.  I could have touched the face of God or perhaps have trimmed His beard, if He wanted it trimmed.  It was high.

Space needle.

Our route back from the SAM to Jon's place took us by the Space Needle. That's Audrey in the grey hoodie.

As in, Joe didn’t care for it much. But, I did it.

That makes two primordial fears faced this week—we flew to Seattle (whew) and I walked way up in the air to cross I-5. Thank goodness Sarah Palin is in the Holy Land, cause the way things are going I’d think she was just around the corner.

Facebook trip galleries:  Vancouver and Seattle.

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Palin Video: Do We Feel Your Pain?

I find myself in an odd situation that I don’t often find myself in.

I substantially agree with Sarah Palin. She released a video statement today, in which she makes some very strong and valid points:

Political discourse is not to blame for the act of one deranged young man.

Trying to limit speech by law is a terrible idea.

Kudos, Sarah. We have some points we share. As you stated in your own video, in this country, we have elections to reflect the will of the people.

However, those are elections which you should never win if people watch your video and reflect on it. Yikes. While I agree with several of Palin’s main points, she also manages (surprise) to say things that ought not to have been said, and avoid saying things that needed saying. There are serious—dare I say crazy? I dare—flaws in what Sarah stated, too. What are those flaws?

She needs to own up to the language of violence she has used in the past. She’s criticizing the media for being critical of her, and she has a completely valid point in terms of cause and effect related to the shootings. But she totally ignores valid criticism of her past rhetorical tone. She is refusing to acknowledge that her own previous statements were, at best, tasteless in the light of the tragedy. If she wants a higher plane of discourse, owning up to her part in that lowered discourse would be a nice first step that she completely failed to take.

“Blood libel?” Sarah displays what appears to be an odd lack of historical sense, although I don’t believe her handlers are so ignorant that they didn’t know what they were doing. “Blood libel” is a reference to an anti-Semitic lie, that Jews drink the blood of Christian children, and particularly offensive since Rep. Giffords is Jewish. Sarah, you’re not the victim of a “blood libel.” The cynic in me thinks the line was thrown in to stir up Jewish passions so that you can pose as the victim of those “others” once again, but you’re no victim here. Giffords and the dead and other wounded are.

All right, I will own up to going a bit far in my previous blog post—although I wrote that post to blast you Sarah, for your previous rhetoric while carefully (I hope) not claiming you were to blame for the Arizona shootings. Still, there is an extreme line in that heat of the moment post that I wish now I had phrased differently. I called you “loony,” a pretty low, derogatory term. Such strong hyperbole is not political discourse at the highest plane.

But then again—“blood libel?” Man. Mama Grizzly is too smart to be crazy, but she can sure talk crazy.

Some links to commentary of Mrs. Palin’s video from Newsweek and The Washington Post.

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The Second Amendment and Little Christina

A 9-year-old girl named Christina will never live to be 10, shot dead for no reason other than she went with a neighbor to see the local Congresswomen’s constituent meeting one morning in Tuscon.

Six people are dead, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is fighting for her life with a bullet-dug tunnel through her brain, and a federal judge (appointed by a Republican president) is among the fatalities.

Yuck. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding Christina’s death particularly cruel, but the whole affair is sickening. Six lives snuffed out and many more injured in an eruption of unspeakable horror.

Once again, the bullets fly in America.

Iowa recently loosened its gun laws, and local sheriffs are required to issue permits for citizens to carry guns. The disturbed young man (a failed college student, something of no comfort to a college professor) who aimed his semiautomatic pistol at the head of an elected official had 20-round clips of ammo for said weapon—a bit excessive for personal defense against a lone criminal, one would think.

And Rep. Gifford’s support of the Second Amendment didn’t seem to do her much good when suddenly faced with a lone lunatic with a weapon. So much for an armed populace discouraging crime.


Sarah Palin Facebook image

From March 2010, Palin's infamous "gun sights" graphic on her Facebook page. Sure, "target" is an OK political term, but using rifle sight images, calling on supporters to "reload" and talking about firing a "salvo?" Ms. Palin's use of language is often vague and confusing, but her odd use of violent words and symbolism is disturbing, especially after the Jan. 8 shooting in Arizona.

The shooting also spotlights some recent extreme political rhetoric, particularly from the loony former mayor of Wasilla. Sarah Palin went way too far in her political bloviating last year when she used images of gunsights to target Representatives (including Giffords) who voted for Obama’s healthcare bill (see graphic from her Facebook page). Palin’s extremist rhetoric included calling on her supporters to “re-load” and talking of firing a “salvo.”

Sarah ought to be ashamed.

But, let’s not take that point too far. The rhetoric and reality of violence is no stranger to either end of the political spectrum.

Whatever else is true, let us Americans agree on this—as long as we have the vote, we have no business threatening or raising arms against our own governments “of the people, by the people.” The attack on Rep. Gifford was a shot fired at our democracy—the democracy that belongs to all of us, Sarah and I, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Tea Party members, Greens, etc.

It’s OK for the political debate to get loud and rancorous. It’s OK for a bit of shouting. It’s OK, even, for some extreme talk.

But the buck has to stop before the buckshot flies. And before anybody, left or right, suggests that buckshot or guns or violence is the solution to a public policy question. The government isn’t an invading force we must oppose, it’s us. Our democracy might not be as functional as I would like or as responsive as it should be, but it is ours.

The U.S. government is the world’s oldest working democratic republic. That is true largely because we have a silent compact with each other. The losers in elections will bide their time and try again in two years. We settled the argument some 145 years ago about whether the union can be dissolved by the states (it cannot), and since then have had no reasonable excuse for taking up arms against ourselves.

Even civil disobedience, justified when a young black woman sits in the wrong seat of a bus to highlight injustice, is, when it is ethical and effective, not violent.

What about our right to bear arms? I think the founders wrote the Second Amendment with a militia in mind. I don’t think Jared Loughner was carrying a minuteman rifle as a member of the Arizona National Guard. I don’t think the Second Amendment means that Iowa sheriff’s should be compelled to issue gun permits and I don’t think it means that reasonable limits on guns ought to be outright rejected.

Anyway, I hope we learn to exclude violence for our political discourse. Hear me, Sarah? But I also hope we get over the whole “guns don’t kill” attitude.

Yes, it took a nut named Jared, but it also took a gun, and a 20-round clip, too. Guns sure do maim and kill.

One irony of the Giffords shooting is that she was a gun rights supporter. May she recover, may friends and family comfort those who have lost loved ones.

And may we not have to lose many more Christinas before we can have a rational talk about guns and gun laws in this troubled country.

Jan. 10 note: “New York Times” editorial this morning sums up my feelings well.  I am not suggesting Sarah caused the Tuscon tragedy, but, on the other hand, I don’t think it’s OK to ignore the role that her rhetoric has had in poisoning our political atmosphere.


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Things That Go Bump in the Night …

Devil pumpkin

My Jack-o-lantern this year, a devilish pumpkin for a not-so-devilish day. I'm not worshiping Satan. I'm mocking him and turning him into a joke. The horns and ears, by the way, are tubers from the planters that Audrey's sister Paula gave us. Emptied and stored them today, and thought these were too good not to use with my pumpkin.

Tis the season of spooks and goblins. Time to list and face our primordial fears.

I’ve not always been “big” on Halloween. Sure, I enjoyed it as a kid. I was not one of those hoarders, stretch out for weeks kinds of kids—I was always a dump it out and stuff it in as fast as possible kind of guy. And chocolate and I have always been friends, so Halloween was an enjoyable evening, until the sugar crash came.

But, that was post trick or treating. Pre would often cause some anxiety. My mother was not a great planner, and we didn’t do anything to get costumes ready pre Halloween, so whatever I went out as was pretty spontaneous.

Still, I don’t mind home-made costumes, particularly in this artificial, everything comes prepackaged day and age. Like a home cooked meal, a “constructed” Halloween costume can be really good. Little Lizzie is going to be uber-cute—won’t say as what, but Amanda made it and it is sweet.

Dorothy. Were many Dorothys at Halloween on the Hill at MMU, but I think this was the cutest.

Nikayla and Tristan were part of a family plan this Halloween, a Wizard of Oz theme, which is a cute idea. Course, you can take cute too far.  There was one year that Audrey, all of the kids and I dressed up as a family of rabbits. Halloween was Saturday that year and we went to Saturday night Mass. In costume. Since we had six kids, it was a slightly racy reference, one that our oldest daughter, to her shame, could understand. She survived the trauma, however.

Anyway, I wasn’t planning to write a trip down memory lane. When I wrote the headline, my conception of this blog post was to list things that I think are scary. So there goes, Joe’s fear list for Halloween 2010:

  • Sarah Palin. Not a shock, I’m sure, but even Karl Rove says this potential President wanna be is not ready for prime time. He says she “lacks gravitas.” This from a man who masterminded the rise of one of America’s lightest presidents. A man in the junior Bush league thinks Palin lacks “gravitas?” That’s like Lady Gaga rejecting a politician for low public morals. I know, I’ve written before of my love for Sarah and shouldn’t waste more time on her—and it’s not really she who frightens me. It’s that she has millions of followers and is a potent political voice. Boo! Scary.
  • Gretchen Jones. Is it only women that I am scared of? I don’t’ think so, but another feminine name makes the list. To be fair, I’m not a Gretchen hater—I was not surprised that she made it to the finale of Project Runway. It’s not really Gretchen at all that’s scary. It’s that Mondo didn’t win. Really? The only designer whose clothes looked impossibly weird but well done at the same time? The granola designer beats Mr. Plaid and Polka Dots but somehow it still works? What is really scary is that Heidi backed down in the face of Michael Kors. Come on girl. You were right all along. (To my credit, I think, I wrote this paragraph before reading what the far hipper voices at Project Rungay had to say about the finale).
  • Horses. Sorry, Andria Pooley. Horses are big, they poop a lot, people wear hideous clothes around them and they are freaky mammals that should never come close to me. Would I be brave enough to try to ride one? Possibly. But for some reason, horses are like clowns. I know there are people who like clowns. I just don’t happen to be one. Horses are on my fear list.
  • Tristan as an adorable Toto, making friends at MMU.

    Bedbugs. They’ve been crawling all over me and biting me senseless. Fortunately, it’s all in my imagination—I have never seen an actual bed bug. But, I’m more afraid of bed bugs than terrorism. I’m not sure whether terrorists are really on the way. But, I’m close to being ready to panic and bring back DDT and kill all the eagles if the bed bugs can be kept away. (Not really, I’m speaking with more than a little hyperbole. But I am scared of bed bugs.)

  • Tans. We had HyVee Chinese tonight for supper, and the sweet young lady who rang up our purchase had a bronze glow about her. A glow that says “I visit the tanning salon so often that I set off Geiger counters.” I don’t know why or how a deep and deeply disturbing tan became the fashion among certain young ladies—particularly fair-haired young ladies who have skin that should best avoid UV rays—but they scare me. I have seen too many old people with skin that looks like bronzed alligator hide. Please, young women. A deep tan in Iowa in October says you’re working way too hard to be attractive. And, speaking for me, it’s not working. Relax a little. A pale skin never hurt anyone. But tans surely have. Scary.
  • Election day. It’s coming like a train on a greased track, and it feels like it will be a good night for Republicans. As a former Republican who occasionally has voted in the R column, that shouldn’t be so bad. But since the 1980s the GOP has moved so far to the right that it’s fallen in the hands of boobs and idiots who think Sarah Palin would make a good President. Or that George Bush would. I’ve slowly evolved into a an old curmudgeon Democrat—but I don’t think it’s all my fault. Where are the Gerald Fords or Robert Rays—moderate Republicans who act as if they can read and sometimes do? I don’t like being a straight party voter—the Democrats have some bad tendencies and we need a palatable alternative to counterbalance those bad tendencies. But, that alternative is not the modern GOP, which seems incapable of producing people who seem like they can govern. And yet, they’ll win back the House and maybe the Senate. Whatever Obama is going to accomplish, he probably already has. Yes, to me, it is frightening. Voting Republican in this era requires a deep sense of amnesia and a frightening narrow mindedness, and yet it’s the direction the political wind is blowing. Scary.
  • Taylor Swift. She doesn’t scare me personally, as far as I’ve paid any attention to her at all she doesn’t seem to be a particularly nasty young lady, certainly she is pretty sane compared to most of her contemporaries who are celebrities. It’s her singing that scares me. That love song about Romeo and Juliet? Didn’t they both commit suicide in the play? “It’s a love story,” but it doesn’t end with daddy saying go get a white dress. The characters in her songs seem trite and cliché—the band geek pines for a football star who dates a cheerleader. Sigh. I like many girl singers. I have a secret admiration for Katy Perry—no, not the “teen dream” sexy Katy Perry. But the sometimes offbeat, funny, “Waking Up in Vegas” or sings with Elmo Katy Perry. There’s a Pink picture in the MMU Times newsroom which was given to me by my daughter Theresa as a joke, but I really do like most Pink songs. One of may favorite singers of all time, however, is Sheryl Crow.  She uses her own life experience and vocal talents in songs that seems genuine and sound great.  But Taylor? Yikes. A slightly cleaner Miley Cyrus, and no, I don’t like Miley, either. Scary.
  • Blood. Especially my own, but other people’s, or animal’s, too. Don’t want to see it, don’t want to think about it, don’t want to talk about it. My most embarrassing high school moment was a 100+ student large format biology lecture when I was a sophomore. Sat in the front row (I was a straight A student in high school) and passed right out, plop onto the floor, during a lecture on coagulation. Not a dignified moment. (By the way, I am a fairly regular Red Cross blood donor. My own personal fears aren’t enough of an excuse.) I do not watch horror movies and didn’t enjoy “Sweeney Todd.” Blood=Scary.
  • People who hate Halloween. Particularly for rather lame semi-religious reasons. It’s a kids’ holiday, and it’s not that serious. It’s not a glorification of evil or the devil’s playground. Honestly, I think one reason a certain brand of conservative Christian hates Halloween is due to its Catholic roots as the evening before a very Catholic holy day. It’s called “Halloween” because it’s a corruption of “All Hallow’s Eve,” the day before what we now call “All Saints Day.” But, some Bible thumper will now point out, but it has Pagan origins. True, I agree. Yet, so does Christmas. We Christians rather conveniently co-oped something close to the Solstice festival to celebrate the birth of Christ, but really we don’t know what day Jesus was born and Dec. 25 is a date of convenience. Why does co-oping one Pagan day go without comment and the other raise so many hackles? Yes, there are aspects of Halloween that I can understand many not liking. It’s become too raunchy and too adult in our culture, and there are people of alternative belief structures who celebrate the original Pagan roots of Halloween more than the Catholic ones. So what? Don’t want to celebrate Halloween? Find by me, it’s a free country. Think that those who celebrate Halloween are promoting Satan? Bah, humbug. That’s scary.

Audrey's Jack-o-lantern. More traditional than mine, but there's something to be said for tradition. My potatoes won't shown when the candles are lit, and her's will look fine.


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Run, Sarah, Run!

The hero of Nashville. Not really my cup of tea, however ....

OK, I’ve decided to quit messing around and pretending to be a liberal Democrat. I’m going back to my political roots (in 1976 I was a Republican delegate to the Iowa state convention. Granted, I was a Ford delegate, not a Reagan one, but I wasn’t in the Muslim-Socialist Party then, either).

What tipped the scales? Sarah’s masterful performance at the Nashville Tea Party gathering.

What deep thought. What profound eloquence. What great analysis of where America needs to go.


Can’t do it. Can’t keep up the façade, even in the interest of parody. What I really meant to write was: What deep thought? What profound eloquence? What great analysis of where America needs to go? What do the nuts in Nashville see in this obviously empty, cheap, platitude machine? (Sarah, don’t come after me with a moose gun, I’m not calling you a cheap woman, I meant that you spout cheap platitudes.)

Self disclosure: I’m a son of Tennessee myself. Granted, with my formative years in California and Iowa, I’m not much of a representative of southern manhood, and I am from the mountainous area of east Tennessee which was infested with Union sentiment during the war between the states, but by birth, I am from “real” America, the southern heartland of all that is good and kind.

Not unfair for her to use notes, even ones Sharpied into her left paw. But in the same breath as she lashes out at Obama for using a telepromter? Umm. Sarah? Don't you sometimes use a teleprompter? Somehow, consistent thought doesn't seem to come from SP ...

But the crazy babe of Nashville? Why does anybody take Sarah Palin seriously? “We don’t need a law professor, we need a commander in chief?” You are aware, aren’t you, that the other President from Illinois, while not a law professor, was a relatively inexperienced lawyer who was a cheap political hack named Abraham Lincoln. (And yes, he was a Republican, but that label is pretty meaningless compared to what the GOP seems to stand for today.)

No, I’m not saying Obama is another Lincoln. I’m not saying he’s not, either—history has to make that kind of grand judgment and the jury is out right now. But when Lincoln was President he was almost universally vilified and unpopular, too.

I got to say, (yeah I know, it should be “I have to” or “I have got to,” I’m trying a Sarahey talkey informally babbley thingy) though, Lincoln was a great commander in chief. And a writer. And a lawyer. And so (a writer, lawyer and great commander in chief) is Barack Obama.

As a professor, the “we don’t need a law professor” line is not only a cheap shot, it highlights that Obama is a highly intelligent, well educated individual. Very unlike you, Sarah.

And as commander in chiefs go, I’ll take Barack Hussein Obama over the former mayor of Wasilla any day.

So why do I entitle this blog “run, Sarah, run?”

Can’t think of a sillier candidate for the Republicans or the True Americans or the Tea Party or the Neanderthal Ninnies Who Criticize Teleprompters While Scribbling Notes on Their Palms can nominate in 2012.

She makes Joe Biden look deep. She makes Mikey Mouse look deep. She makes Taylor Swift look deep. She makes random drunk people sleeping in the alleys of Chicago look deep.

I know. That’s hyperbole. She doesn’t make drunk people look deep.

But boy, how shallow, how unimaginative, how 1964 she sounds. Please, Sarah, from a former Republican and son of the South, heed my pleas.

Run. Run Sarah. Run hard. I’ll be part of the wall you run smack into.

Stewart did it even better:  http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-february-8-2010/amerigasm


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