Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alas and Alack! Woe is We!!!

Who, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is minding the store?

Hie thee to The Washington Post’s website for insight regarding oversight and hindsight.

The article is titled “Regulator Let IndyMac Bank Falsify Report,” and subtitled “Agency Didn't Enforce Its Rules, Inquiry Finds.”  In it you will find, DGR(s), the amazing journey of one Darrel Dochowa, federal regulator, who

“…approved a plan by IndyMac Bank to exaggerate its financial health in a May federal filing, allowing the California company to avoid regulatory restrictions only two months before it collapsed, a federal inquiry has found.”

and who has been disciplined prior to this current “scandal”

It is the second time Dochow has been removed from a position as a senior thrift regulator. He was demoted in the early 1990s after federal investigators found that he had delayed and impeded proper regulation of Charles Keating's failed Lincoln Savings and Loan.

and who

…has been reassigned to work in Washington on "special projects" and as head of human resources, pending completion of the inquiry, according to a memo sent to OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision] staff yesterday.

So, we find, to force another metaphor, a guy who some 15 years ago was demoted for inadequate oversight, worked his way back into uppermanagement’s good graces, and screwed the pooch again—not to mention contributing to the world wide pooch screwing—and is reassigned to D.C.:

Dochow has been reassigned to work in Washington on "special projects" and as head of human resources, pending completion of the inquiry, according to a memo sent to OTS staff yesterday.

The question one asks is “Why?”  Then the question becomes “Why is this guy still on the public payroll?” Finally one wonders “Who’s in charge?”  Followed hard upon by “Why is that person still in charge?”

(BTW, the “Keating” brouhaha is linked to the Savings and Loan mess of the Bush I administration.  This has been going on for a long time.)

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it’s becoming more and more difficult to

Trust, let alone verify.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Munie and Joe Show

Folk heroes, Dear Gentle Reader(s), arise in the most unexpected places, but, in afterthought, in the most predictable times.

Take, for instance, Joe the Plumber and Muntader al-Zaidi.

In retrospect, Good Ol’ Joe’s rise to folk hero (albeit amongst a minority of American voters) was predictable.  All that was needed was a candidate answering  a serious question seriously and at some length.  Then the video of the exchange is “managed” in such a way that what was said is edited to seem to say something actually not said (following me?).  Pass this on to a national audience via a Presidential Debate, and Voila!, a hero is born.

Munie’s rise is quite similar:  television crews, question and answers unscripted (it is hoped), a person of some controversy, a person with some distaste for the questionee and with some gumption, and Viola!, the Arab world has its own version of Joe.

There, perhaps, end the similarities.  Joe has pretty much faded from the news cycles, his 15 minutes well used up.  Munie might last a bit longer.  His constituency is larger than Joe’s; Joe only had the base of the Republican Party, but Munie seems to have the population of the Arab speaking world behind him.

Messers. Bush an Maliki should have taken that wise advice from The Gipper regarding their audience at that news conference:

Trust, W, but verify.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

When does Private become Public?

Steve Lopez, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is an excellent columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and today he deals with the ramifications of Prop 8 as felt by a woman caught in the moral conundrum du jour.

It seems Margie Christoffersen, at the behest of her Mormon church, donated $100 to support Proposition 8, which is an attempt to remove the right to marry for “same-sex” couples from the state constitution.  In the aftermath of the passage of the proposition, Christoffersen’s donation became public knowledge.

Mayhem ensued at her workplace, a very popular restaurant within the gay community of L.A.

Christoffersen is distraught.  Business is down.

One of her gay employees defends her on the basis that the check was a personal one and that the restaurant shouldn’t be targeted.  “You can express yourself as a citizen.  Not everyone has to believe the same things.”


On the other hand, Christoffersen has been working at the restaurant for over twenty years; it was founded by her mother.  Money flows into Christoffersen’s checkbook directly from the restaurant, which has a large gay clientele.

Is it then to be understood that we gays must willingly contribute to a checkbook which will, in turn, be used to support policies which discriminate against us? 

No thanks.

Christoffersen’s “private” donation became public knowledge.  She should’ve had the foresight to anticipate that her donation might come back to cause just as much discomfort to herself as it might to her loyal customers.

Christoffersen sheep-like followed the dictates of her religious leaders; no thought, just obedience. 

Perhaps it’s time she did a little soul searching and questioning of certain practices of the Mormon church. 

Perhaps it’s time she thought about the wisdom of learning to

Trust, but verify.

(By the way, when “The Soloist” opens in the spring, remember that the movie was inspired by columns written by Steve Lopez.)

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Not Much of a Shift

Breaking News from the White House!!!!!

The New York Times, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has sent out an email alert telling us that the White House is considering using TARP funds for the auto industry bailout:

TARP is the Troubled Assets Relief Program, the official name of the Treasury’s financial rescue program, originally intended to assist banks. Referring to the carmakers, the White House statement said, “A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy,” and added, “It would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time.”

Yeah.  Right.

Of course, the White House (aka Pres Bush) has resisted using TARP for Detroit.  Resisted until, that is, the Republican Senators voted to refuse a separate, relatively cheap ($15 billion v $700 billion) auto bailout after their attempt to bust the United Auto Workers union clout.

Faced with the bankruptcy of General Motors in the final weeks of his administration, Mr. Bush suddenly took the high ground. 

Desperately saving face had more to do with the White House’s decision than did allowing the Republican Senators’ effort to “further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time.”

Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is OK by the auto workers.  And the rest of the economy.

Trust, but verify.

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A Teensy Hopeful Sign, but Still a Sign

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Dear Gentle Reader(s), the occupation of Iraq continues.  The bombings continue.  The misery continues.  There is, mirabile dictu, another indication that the Iraqis are one more step closer to bidding our forces adieu.

The newsletter for the United States Central Command reports that, on December 3, 2008, “The Iraqi Air Force conducted its first rotary-wing night mission since 2003 in the skies over Baghdad.”

Iraqi pilots have been in training for months. 

Let’s get their forces trained and our forces out.

Check it out, DGR(s).  And sign up for the Command’s email distribution.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

At last—some Muslim protests!

Last week, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the question was where are the Muslim protests against the murderous thugs acting in the name of Islam.  Today there are reports available of some mass protests in India.


There needs to be more.

Let’s hear it from the Shi’a and Sunni scholars en masse.

Otherwise…they do their religion a disservice bordering on blasphemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

At last, the reason for W’s doggedness (or at least it should be)

President Bush, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has been making the rounds lately giving speeches and “exit interviews.”  A salient point made by many who opine on the content of these outings has been his nimble footwork in avoiding any semblance of responsibility, or irresponsibility, for the Iraqi invasion of 2003.

One might wonder at the president’s steadfastness in his own defense; an answer might be found in the psychological depths of a video which has just come to this writer’s attention.  It can be found at Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish.  It’s titled “The GOP’s ‘Yes We Can.’”  It was made during the recent presidential campaign, although it wasn’t widely distributed.

In it a young man who states he is an Iraqi veteran takes issue with Mr. Obama’s use of the word “mistake” when referring to the invasion and subsequent occupation.

Basically the speaker holds that there was no mistake made because the Iraqi people are better off now than they were pre-invasion.  The Iraqis are regular folks who want the same things as American citizens, so it was not a mistake to take steps to give them the qualities of life enjoyed by other people.  The dead and the wounded were not victims of a mistake.

It’s powerful, if not cynically exploitive.

The narrator cannot deal with his dead buddies and war injuries having been the product of a mistake.  His personal stake in the war and its aftermath and its costs is so great that he must believe there was no mistake.

And that “personal stake” which is held by so many veterans and families of veterans is probably the single most substantive reason Mr. Bush cannot, will not, and for the sake of his political devotees should not admit to a mistake.  He cannot ever say he and his Administration made a mistake which cost so very much in blood and treasure.

While others might comment on his misadventure, Mr. Bush can do no less than put up a brave front.  Just as in the face of such testimonials those who opposed and oppose still the revisionist rationale for this war can do no less than to point out the fact that this war had no basis.  It was a mistake of the most heinous proportions.

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Again, cui bono? Update

One looks at the news reports, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of protests against the actions of the Islamic fundamental militants in Mombai and sees throngs of Indian citizens marching in the streets. One sees the organization suspected of sending out these murderers from Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Toiba, deny involvement. (And that disclaimer is roundly rejected by experts on Islamic militants.)

What one doesn’t see is a picture of thousands of Muslims world-wide taking to the streets in protest against murderous thugs who are killing randomly in the name of their religion. What one doesn’t see is a report of a Muslim religious leader using the Friday prayers to preach against this kind of murder, against this kind of blasphemy.

One can read of a Muslim religious leader who preaches to incite the Lashkar-e-Toiba—his name is Hafiz Mohammed Saeed.

If the Muslim umma is unhappy with the way the “west” seems to regard their religion, perhaps it’s time for their non-violent leaders to take to the pulpit (or whatever it’s called) and denounce in no uncertain terms that their religion does not promise Paradise for murderers, not even for suicidal murderers. Perhaps it’s time for the societies to spread the word that they will not tolerate murder as part of their religious heritage.

Who profits from the silence of these holy men and the millions of silent adherents?

So far, only murderers.

Trust, but verify.

Update 9:42 a.m.

There is some reaction from Mumbai Muslims. Here is a video link available from Al Jazeera English: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n_CLsozSDw&eurl=http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2008/12/2008123440767485.html&feature=player_embedded

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Um…Tom, a revisionist?

A conundrum, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  A conundrum.

Today, over at The New York Times, Tom Friedman writes a somewhat hopeful column about an Iraqi step towards judicial independence which he sees, with several caveats, as indicative of U.S. possible success in that poor country.

Friedman’s take is gladdening in several ways, so what, you might ask, is the conundrum?  It’s this sentence: 

“It’s a reminder of the most important reason for the Iraq war: to try to collaborate with Iraqis to build progressive politics and rule of law in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, a region that stands out for its lack of consensual politics and independent judiciaries.”

Really?  Secretary of State Powell argued for an independent Iraqi judiciary and the United Nations went along with it?  National Security Advisor Rice spoke of an independent Iraqi judiciary being capable, soon, of producing a mushroom cloud?  President Bush swaggered “Bring ‘em on!” at some black robed jurists?  Neo-cons arguing for “progressive politics” in Iraq?

Dare one ask what happened to weapons of mass destruction?

Revisionism, when not referring to an arcane Marxist theory, is used these days to indicate some people are trying to re-write history to reflect a different perspective than the prevailing perspective.  One wonders if Friedman is slipping into a revisionist mode.  One hopes not.

If, indeed, there is evidence the Bush Administration truly believed that war with the Baathist government in Baghdad was dictated by a necessity to establish progressive politics, rule of law, and independent judiciary in Iraq, then it should be re-stated, and the time and place of the first such statement should be made available for verification.

If there is no such evidence, then we all need to remember the dangers of revisionist thinking—it could cost us dearly.  And Mr. Friedman needs to be a little more careful.

Trust, but verify.  And perhaps exercise the memory when reading political and or religious tracts.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai “Terrorists”

Isn’t it time, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that the world’s press, as well as everyone else, stop using any form of “terrorist” in describing the murderous atrocities which are being inflicted upon hapless citizenry?

For instance, this afternoon, The New York Times, reporting on the atrocious bombings and subsequent fighting in Mumbai, uses “terrorist” in the first paragraph, but it isn’t until the 6th paragraph in which the possible culprits are identified:  Islamist or Hindi extremists both have been active in India in recent months.

If these killers are working at the behest of some religious leader, then that leader’s religion must be held accountable for not controlling its extremist adherents.

Terrorist is no longer sufficient, if the murderer is killing in the name of a deity.

Murder in the name of God is not terror; it is blasphemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcomed News

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Here, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is a choice bit of information:  There are Iraqi soldiers are being trained in bomb disposal by U.S. forces.  Check out the Centcom web site.  (Actually you could get the Centcom email.  Good things are happening.)

What with today’s news about another 3 bombings in Baghdad, at a cost of some 18 lives, one applauds this news.  Whatever we can do to assist the Iraqis in their continuing bombing crisis is well worth the effort and expense.

Let’s get these people trained so we can get out of Dodge!

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

While they’re at it…

…wouldn’t it be nice, Dear Gentle Reader(s), if the Republican party would re-assess their fiscal mantra of “lower taxes, smaller government” as well as their policy positions since they’re in the midst of debate about the party’s shortcomings which caused the recent electoral defeat?

There simply isn’t the logical rationale to insist on lower or smaller anything if the other side isn’t insisting on higher or bigger. 

If the Republicans rephrased their slogan just a little, it might make more sense to voters who were non-red mead partisans.

For instance, doesn’t just about everyone who understands the necessity of government and taxes agree that government should be only as large/small as is absolutely necessary; or that taxes should be as high/low as possible to pay for the necessary government?

Some people sneer at the mention of a “social contract.”  “Has anyone ever seen this so-called contract?”  Well, no.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  It most certainly does, and all of us who participate in the particular social contract governed by the United States Constitution have a responsibility to honor that contract.

So, perhaps the Republican mantra should be “lowest possible taxes, smallest possible government.” 

That would be mantra for which just about everyone with common sense could vote Yes.

There is no charge for this advice, Republicans.

Even then, though, DGR(s), it will still be necessary to

Trust, but verify.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who woulda thunk it?




This atrocity, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is being offered for sale at this web site

It’s being offered as an ‘"Original Christmas Cross" yard decoration.’

Who wouldn’t want a burning cross in the front yard or on the front porch?


Trust these people, if you must, but really verify!

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Monday, November 17, 2008

What does “victory” mean again?

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the vicissitudes of language are many.

Remember Senator McCain’s oft-repeated slogan of “victory” in Iraq?  One wonders what he meant. 

Today The New York Times reports of housecleaning in Iraq’s government.  It isn’t what you’d usually expect for housecleaning.

Get this; it’s from a piece titled “Iraq Quietly Dismisses Its Anticorruption Officials”:

BAGHDAD — The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing oversight officials who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here.

Nice, eh wot?  They’re getting rid of the good guys.  Yea, Victory!!!

The Status of Forces Agreement, now before the Iraqi parliament, states the U.S. will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.  While this agreement was being negotiated, the U.S. knew the Maliki government was dismantling the anti-corruption offices.  We’re leaving a “notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy” in place. 

So we preemptively invaded Iraq to depose a tyrant, and what will we be leaving in his place?  What will this “victory” accomplish?

The next time the American public votes into office, a guy, or gal, with whom they feel comfortable enough to “have a beer with,” one hopes that there will be time to think and

Trust, but verify.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bearing false witness? Piffle! How about embracing it?

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), there are people of “good will” who are so blinkered by ignorance that they do not realize how their good will has been compromised.

An excellent case in point can be found in the pages of The New York Times in a column by Jesse McKinley and Kirk Johnson entitled “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage.” Let’s take a few minutes for you, DGR(s), to go to the site and read the column. One will wait. OK.

One name appears often in the column, Frank Schubert. Look at the campaign he led,

“We bet the campaign on education,” Mr. Schubert said.

Education. Not Gays and Lesbians. Not civil rights. Not church and state separation. They used a video of children attending the wedding of their Lesbian teacher, even though the parents of the children had given permission. They used a lie about the California Education Code, refuted by the State Superintendent of Education.

They knew they would lose if they misshaped the argument.

“We could not have this as a battle between people of faith and the gays,” Mr. Schubert said. “That was a losing formula.”

Schubert has an interesting side story:

For his part, Mr. Schubert said he is neither anti-gay — his sister is a lesbian — nor happy that some same-sex couples’ marriages are now in question. But, he said, he has no regrets about his campaign.

“They had a lot going for them,” Mr. Schubert said of his opponents. “And they couldn’t get it done.”

Schubert just told his sister that any loving, committed relationship in which she might enter will never be equal to the one he shares with his spouse. She is not equal to him under the laws of California. And she certainly is not equal to him in the eyes of the “Creator” of the Mormon church (but that goes without saying).

Lies and hubris, not possibly knowing the nuances of creation, relying on lore and myth to set the criteria for treatment of his sister, what a wonderful example he set for Christianists.

Why on earth would anyone trust this man? Verification is certainly necessary in dealing with anyone associated with religious organizations (don’t forget, the Mormon involvement was urged by the “Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco”).

And be sure to verify this posting by reading the original column.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Fiscal Responsibility! At Last!

Contrary to certain misinformed Conventional Wisdom, Dear Gentle Reader(s), liberals and progressives do not enjoy raising taxes.  We see the necessity to fund certain programs which bring benefit to the entire spectrum of the body politic.  Sound tax policies is indispensable to a capitalistic society. 

Therein, though, lies the problem.  Just what constitutes "sound tax policies?"  The recent tax situation in California goes a long way to proving that the tax policy of "borrow and spend" advocated the Republican party in California is, ahem, bankrupt, as Governor Schwarzenegger has finally come to realize.

As California struggles with its fiscal problems, it's good to remember a couple of steps along the way which were taken, and which, in retrospect, were most assuredly mistakes.

First, Governor Gray Davis was recalled primarily on the issue of the vehicle license fee, which he re-instated (remember, the tax had been lowered with the proviso that it would be re-instated if necessary).  Governor Schwarzenegger's first major action after he assumed the office was to remove the car tax, to the cost of some 4 billion dollars. 

As reported in The Los Angeles Times, "Schwarzenegger initially covered the cost and "balanced" the budget by talking voters into borrowing $15 billion. All that money is gone and we're still paying off the loan."

Recently the governor called for a tax hike of some 4 billion dollars. 

Think of it:  Schwarzenegger "cut" a tax, and borrowed $15 billion.  The state treasury is still paying off the loan, and the state is short that $4 billion plus interest, plus, plus, plus.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has finally come to his fiscal senses and tossed the Republican mantra of borrow and spend.  It isn't good policy.  Hopefully the California Republicans will follow suit and some fiscal sanity will come to the state.

Raising taxes to keep up with spending hurts, but borrowing to keep up with spending hurts more--except those who are in the lending business. 

Campaign donations, anyone?

Trust, but verify those final costs.

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Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Glimpse of the Source

        Here we have the obligatory "moral principle" and "exclusive union between a man and a woman" argument on the social issue du jour.  You've heard it.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: How to Survive Media Bias

     Um...Yawn...more RNC, but personalized...a little bit.

Now, DGR(s), there you have it.  Sometimes the Muckroom, as one is sometimes wont to call it, is informative, sometimes merely infuriating.  It is, though, a resource widely available to scout out the competition. 

Know your enemy.

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Alas and Alack

Andrew Sullivan calls them "Christianists."  His purpose, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is undoubtedly to connect the extremism of some Christians with the extremism of some Moslems.  It seems appropriate; they are both dangerous in their own ways.

The Christianists, though, might have a little surprise.  The man for whom the movement is named, was not nearly so un-Christian as they, and won't they be surprised to discover, upon their deaths, that Jesus will turn his back on them because they followed the teachings of mere mortals who were more concerned with enriching their own "brand" of the religion for their own lust for power and lucre.

The Bible is such a convenient excuse for Christianist bad behavior, even if its provenance is suspect.  Who cares about authority and authenticity? 

Christianism--R.I.P. (Roast in Pain)

Trust, but verify (and if they did, they might be a little more humble).

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Sunday, November 2, 2008


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A conundrum, one thinks. 

Dear Gentle Reader(s), perhaps you can help to explain a disconnect for me which occurs often in the political discourse these days.

John McCain's experience as a naval pilot and prisoner of war is often touted as appropriate experience for occupying the Presidential Office.

Just what about McCain's naval piloting is indicative of this trust afforded by his supporters?  He lost 4 planes, arguably 3 to hot-dogging.  What experience does hot-dogging give to a man?  Deliberation?  Caution?  Only if he changes his behavior, and where did that third crash come from?  His first two losses were "gimmes"?  Do we want a Commander-in-Chief who takes "hot-dogging" chances? 

While McCain exemplified some strength of character during portions of his incarceration, he also spent some dark moments "cooperating" with his captors.  Some of his fellow POWs have some guarded things to say about his behavior.  There is an interesting web site, which obviously is anti-McCain, and which pre-dates McCain's 2008 campaign, that has some unkind thoughts about the "heroic" status of post-Vietnam prisoner McCain:

On June 4, 1969, a U.S. wire service story headlined "PW Songbird Is Pilot Son of Admiral," reported one of McCain's radio broadcasts: "Hanoi has aired a broadcast in which the pilot son of the United States commander in the Pacific, Adm. John McCain, purportedly admits to having bombed civilian targets in North Vietnam and praises medical treatment he has received since being taken prisoner.

"The broadcast was beamed to American servicemen in South Vietnam as a part of a propaganda series attempting to counter charges by U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird that American prisoners are being mistreated in North Vietnam."

There we have it, DGR(s).  Here is a widely touted war hero who is running for the Oval Office significantly on the strength of his Naval career and his POW status, but whose record in both those areas is questionable.

So why does everyone tip toe around these issues?

Do we really want an impulsive person in charge?

Trust, but verify.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Family Goldwater

Perhaps, Dear Gentle Reader(s), this is a tempest in a teapot, but of, at least, generational interest is the flap between members of the family of Barry Goldwater.

It seems a grand daughter has written for the election of Senator Obama, and a son has reacted negatively to his niece's piece.  The pieces stand for themselves, and I leave them to you, DGR(s).  

There is an element of the current Republican party which is both 1) a legacy of Senator Goldwater's to the GOP, and which is 2) reprehensible.

It is, of course, the nefarious Southern Strategy--the attempt to exploit the mid-20th century American racism to the benefit of the RNC (albeit to the detriment of the country).

Granddaughter CC could well recognize this stain on the good name of the Republican party; son Barry, Jr., probably can't see it, and most certainly would reject its association with his father if he could see it.

Young eyes and older eyes; 2nd generation and 3rd generation; what is the Republican party to do?

What are we to do?

Trust, but verify, one supposes.


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Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's ubiquitous, alas.

The Palm Springs Public Library, Dear Gentle Reader(s), recently sponsored a panel discussion about issues in the upcoming election.  A little review of the second hour of the proceedings indicates that the Democratic speakers are still polite enough to silence themselves when interrupted rudely and that Republican speakers (at least on the local level) are ill-informed on some issues and alarmingly naive on others. 

What to do?

The most glaring problem arose in the discussion about immigration reform.  The Republicans took the bait and ran with it.  Finally, though, this caused some consternation:  "They're not allowed to inspect more than 1 truck in 3 because of NAFTA!"  That's a fib.  Perhaps an outright lie, except that it was spoken in the self-generated heat of the moment, and perhaps the speaker didn't really know it wasn't true.  But, Dear(s), the Constitution and its subsequent laws are not suicide pacts.

Here's a quote from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, given to a House committee, dated March 13, 2007:

All commercial truck cross-border traffic must stop at a designated border crossing. As required by statute and regulation, each truck will be processed at the border, using automated systems to assist in determining whether the cargo, truck, and driver are admissible and whether any of the elements pose a security, immigration, agriculture, or smuggling risk.

That means all trucks must stop and be inspected, not 1, all.

Another moment which gave pause came when the Republican woman, responding to an inquiry as to why the name Hussein has been used at some McCain campaign venues, said that those people scared her to death. 

Let's see.  History tells us of JOHN Wilkes Booth, JOHN Hinckley, so, does JOHN McCain also scare her?  Perhaps he should.

There is one sign of hope from the Republicans, they both indicated that Congress should be fired.  One wonders if they are true to their word and are willing to "fire" our representative, Mrs. Mary Bono Mack.  If so, from their lips to...

Republican partisans this year are not doing well in selling their message. 

The rest of us should trust, but verify.

No on 8.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Message to Sarah?

For your amusement, Dear Gentle Reader(s), here's a picture of a British bus advertisement.


Trust, but verify!

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Senator McCain, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has recently taken to reminding voters that he was sitting in a fighter plane on an aircraft carrier when the Cuban Missile Crisis was unfolding, and that the fact that he was there, in that place, at that time, counts for "experience" as opposed to Senator Obama's lack of that experience.

One might question just how much experience applicable to Presidential considerations Mr. McCain gained.  When one remembers that he piloted at least three aircraft into crash situations, the fact of his flying days does not reassure vis a vis experience, does it?

The question facing voters in 13 days is whether Senator Obama's judgement trumps Senator McCain's experience.  Being there does not necessarily give one the experience which translates into wisdom or sound judgement.

Remember, too, that "W" had fighter pilot "experience" in the 1960s. 

And we know how that experience paid off.

Trust, but verify.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Right-Wing-Nut-Punditry in a dither?

Well, Dear Gentle Reader(s), if not in a dither, certainly at times dithering.

Over at The Atlantic's web site, Ross Douthat has a post in which he discusses the Palin-not-ready-for-Prime-Time brouhaha which is enveloping the rightwingnut pundits lately.

Frankly, it is hard to care what these folks say about Palin, but this snippet from Douthat's post is indicative of something--maybe:

I agree with the Palin-skeptics that she has not turned out to be an asset for McCain - for a variety of reasons, the media's unfair treatment of her included, but in large part because of her difficulties appearing prepared for high office during her interactions with the press, and because the campaign has decided to use her almost exclusively as an attack dog on the stump.

Let's take the phrase "her difficulties appearing prepared for high office."  Now, let's substitute the adjective being for the adjective appearing.  See?  Douthat's problem, "in large part" is that Palin doesn't appear to be prepared; he isn't at all concerned that she isn't prepared.

What does that say about 1) McCain for offering; 2) Palin for accepting; 3) Douthat for not paying attention to the needs of the office?

These folks don't care what happens to the country, as long as their tax cuts remain in place. 

New mantra, DGR(s): Capitalism good; greed bad.

Perhaps Palin will turn out to be some sort of Bodica for the Repugs, but not this election cycle.  Douthat knows that.  One hopes.

Trust, but perhaps not these people, DGR(s); and certainly verify.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Amorphous Fight Club

Dear Gentle Reader(s), here's the conclusion to the latest stump speech delivered by Senator McCain, as partially heard on NPR and provided at Mother Jones' web site:

I know what hopelessness feels like. It's an enemy who defeats your will. I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again. I'm an American. And I choose to fight. Don't give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight. Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what's right for America. Fight to clean up the mess of corruption, infighting and selfishness in Washington. Fight to get our economy out of the ditch and back in the lead. Fight for the ideals and character of a free people. Fight for our children's future. Fight for justice and opportunity for all. Stand up to defend our country from its enemies. Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight. America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history.

Excellent words, eh wot?

The problem with them is that they are practically irrelevant.  They, in today's political and financial contexts, are amorphous. 

First of all, while having been a prisoner of war has certainly earned the Senator a debt from his country, it is not a debt that demands the presidency.

Second, the question of whom or what is unstated and certainly unanswered.  Whom is it we are fighting?  What, exactly, is the goal?  What is the strategy?  What are the tactics?

Presidential candidates are able only to make amorphous promises.  They have no power.  They are not prescient.  But they certainly can take present situations and make educated guesses about what might be the situation against what is to be fought.  The good Senator has not done that.

McCain comes from a long line of warriors.  He knows the warrior talk.  His war battle experiences do not contain evidence of his knowledge of the warrior walk which is needed for Commander-in-Chief.

Trust, but verify.


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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vote No on Prop 8

That's it, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  If you live in California, please vote NO on Prop 8.  If you know someone who lives and votes in California, please ask them the vote NO on Prop 8.

Thank you.

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Yesterday, Dear Gentle Reader(s), Senator McCain made an attempt to temper the mob-like atmosphere which has been creeping into the tenor of his campaign rallies since Governor Palin has been raising the Ayers issue.

Now, we all know that campaigns have often relied on the phenomena of October Surprise to give a last minute boost to their candidates' efforts.  Since the McCain campaign's attempts to question the patriotism of Senator Obama have resoundingly failed with virtually everyone other than the most die-hard reptilian thinkers of the Republican evangelical base, one wonders if the Senator's sudden "defense" of the leading candidate is his attempt to "surprise" everyone with a bit of temperance.  He has, after all, been under some scrutiny with the "elite" wing of the Republican party.  They have written harshly of McCain's veep choice; and they have written harshly of some of the specific attacks on Obama's character.  McCain might have sensed a need for his own rehabilitation.

Is the campaign hoping for an "Aw, Gee.  See?  I told you he was a good guy" response?  If so, is there enough time in the 23 days left before the national election date for a turn around?  Some states have already begun voting.  Absentee ballots arrived in California this week. 

Or is the McCain campaign attempt at moderation based on November 5?  Regardless of the outcome of the election, you must remember, DGR(s), McCain has to return to work in Washington, D.C.  He will either be President-elect or a ranking member of the United States Senate.  He will have to engage with fellow Senators and Congresspersons and members of the bureaucracy.  Could this realization have played some part in "cooling it?"

Senator Obama's campaign has played nicer; it's good to see Senator McCain's finally get with the game.

If someone is going to vilify someone else, trust, but verify.  (And tread very lightly, K-5er.)

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National Coming Out Day

Come out.

Come out.

Wherever you are.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Is the Hero shedding clothes?

Andrew Sullivan, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has for several weeks been virtually rabid about his opposition to Senator McCain's presidential hopes.  That rabitidy has even surpassed his disdain (not nearly a strong enough word) for Senator Clinton. Quite often, though, he pulls his punches, and one begins to wonder why.

Today, in a discussion about McCain's famous temper, Sullivan writes, "I'm not judging the man, whose passions are real and whose service to his country should be honored;" and that raises the question, how long does a man get to wear the mantle of "hero" while at the same time taking some questionable steps in the service of his country?

Take, DGR(s), a quick jaunt over to Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain.  It will be instructive, if not just a little reminiscent of 2004's swift-boating of Senator Kerry.

At VVAJMcC you will read of the 4 planes McCain lost while piloting and one lost during an accident prior to take-off.  You will also read of McCain's capture and subsequent captivity. 

The final paragraphs of the site, though, are the most telling for the purposes of our little post today:

For 23 combat missions (an estimated 20 hours over enemy territory), the U.S. Navy awarded McCain a Silver Star, a Legion of Merit for Valor, a Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Stars, two Commendation medals plus two Purple Hearts and a dozen service medals.

"McCain had roughly 20 hours in combat," explains Bill Bell, a veteran of Vietnam and former chief of the U.S. Office for POW/MIA Affairs -- the first official U.S. representative in Vietnam since the 1973 fall of Saigon. "Since McCain got 28 medals," Bell continues, "that equals out to about a medal-and-a-half for each hour he spent in combat. There were infantry guys -- grunts on the ground -- who had more than 7,000 hours in combat and I can tell you that there were times and situations where I'm sure a prison cell would have looked pretty good to them by comparison. The question really is how many guys got that number of medals for not being shot down."

For years, McCain has been an unchecked master at manipulating an overly friendly and biased news media. The former POW turned Congressman, turned U.S. Senator, has managed to gloss over his failures as a pilot and collaborations with the enemy by exaggerating his military service and lying about his feats of heroism.

McCain has sprouted a halo and wings to become America's POW-hero presidential candidate.

These vets, DGR(s), do not regard the senator as much of a hero.

Nonetheless, the good senator did serve; he was shot down; he did undergo years of imprisonment and torture; he does have physical impairments because of treatment during his incarceration.  We must remember that.

He also, Dear, Dear Gentle Reader(s), asked the Republican party to nominate Sarah Palin for the office of Vice President of the United States.  We must remember that.

Perhaps the Senator's hero couture should be replaced by something not quite so transparent.  Or, perhaps, honored as a relic.

Andrew, you have our permission to stop the redundant references to the good senator's service.

Trust, but verify.


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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Muckroom Follies 10.04.08 --K-Pa Lashes Herself w/Wet Noodle

Kathleen Parker, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is one of several right wing pundits who, just last week, called for Gov Palin to exit the Republican ticket.  It was an example of courage and insight and patriotism; and it got her excoriated by the Repug base.

This week K-Pa used Palin's Fargo monologue (aka Vice Presidential Debate) to prostrate herself before the base and to beg forgiveness--a little.

Parker uses terms like "excellent night," and "the affable, tough, determined pit-bull-hockey mom presented to the GOP convention was back with a jaw-jutting, happy-warrior vengeance."

Before jumping to the conclusion, however, DGR(s), that she has re-converted to Palin submission, K-Pa also snuck in a "too cute by half," and the suggestion that if you ask some non-Repug-base person about the pit-bull-hockey-mom, "you're gonna hear some fear in that person's voice, also. Betcha!"

Parker ended her column with this:

  "The debate format clearly worked better for her because she could control her message and keep pounding well-rehearsed talking points. Does that mean she's ready to lead the free world should circumstances warrant?"

DGR(s), I'd say no.

So, to Parker's credit she managed to do two things:  1) she made an attempt to dampen the fury of the blinkered base (it may not have worked; if you go to the site and read some comments, you'll find many are still seething); and 2) she managed to keep her integrity intact with the strong implication that Palin is not ready to be trusted with the nuclear button--and by extension, neither is Senator McCain.

Parker did penance, but it was a mild penance.  She gets points.  Some.  At least her patriotism is intact.

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

1960s Turn, Turn, Turn Becomes 2008s Spin, Spin, Spin

As The Byrds sang in the 1960s, Dear Gentle Reader(s), "There is a season;" and that season is upon us.  This time, however, it is a Spin, Spin, Spin season.

As an example, we might take The Gray Lady's self-flagellating decision to include right wing punditry in its op-ed pages.  Today, she presents "How McCain Wins" by that spinmeister William Kristol. The title is self-explanatory; the content would be risible, were it not for the gravity of the situation should McCain actually (heavens forfend!) win.

A paragraph for your contemplation:

McCain’s impetuous decision to return to Washington was right. The agreement announced early Sunday morning is better than Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s original proposal, and better than the deal the Democrats claimed was close on Thursday. Assuming the legislation passes soon, and assuming it reassures financial markets, McCain will be able to take some credit.

Now, doubtless the good senator will "take" credit, which will very likely be "given" to him in any circumstance by right wing pundits and sycophants, but whether or not he has earned any will always be subject for discussion, and, in any event, his decision to return and "suspend," already a virtual fib, doesn't pass the smell test for commendation.

Since not one word of the impending House Republican caucus "revolt" had been disseminated, it will always appear that Senator McCain's decision to go to Washington last Wednesday was based on the perception he could make points by seeming to lead the charge for quick passage of the rescue/bailout plan as of Wednesday morning.

Imagine the good senator's chagrin to arrive in D.C. and discover the impending revolt.  What to do?  Well, DGR(s), he did what he should've done--he sat in on the ill-advised photo-op on Thursday and said virtually nothing.  He added nothing to the debacle nor to the resulting debate.  On Friday he declared victory, packed up his campaign staff, and went on to Mississippi to a bit of a fruitless endeavor at the debate in Oxford.

Kristol discusses none of this.  His paragraph is one of ignoring the facts.  The first Paulson plan was defeated by a Democratic leadership and by them, and Republican senate leadership, amended.  That first amended plan was rejected by House Republicans; the ensuing negotiations produced an amorphous nod to the House Republicans, and the final plan will be debated today.  It remains to be seen if enough House Republican votes will be garnered to pass the bill (the Democratic majority is insisting that there be a bi-partisan buy-in).  In all of this back and forth, though, notice how much of a role McCain played--little to none.

Write on Billy Boy.  Spin on, Dick Cheney acolyte.  But know that your spin season is known.

Trust, but verify, Dear Gentle Reader(s).


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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Oh, Really?

Sometimes it might be beneficial, Dear Gentle Reader(s), to take a moment to look at some of the cliches people bandy in their discussions.

For instance, in defending the choice of Governor Palin for the Vice Presidential nomination, one Stephen F Hayward is referenced in a Los Angeles Times story discussing "Founding Fathers."  The LAT story maintains:

Stephen F. Hayward took up that argument last week in the Weekly Standard, arguing that the Founding Fathers had envisioned "regular citizens" rising to leadership, in part because they possessed a "self-knowledge" and core beliefs that made them natural leaders.

It might be profitable to remember, DGR(s) that the Founders limited voting primarily to white male property owners.  The 1789 writers of the Constitution had a different concept of "regular citizens" than do we.  Sarah Palin would not have qualified.  Perhaps the Republicans ought not to discuss the Founding Fathers' concept of "regular citizens" in today's political realities.

The cliche is often a good tool for making a point in a discussion.  The cliche is often a sign of weakness for making a point in a discussion.  Always it is the responsibility of the person hearing the cliche to make the distinction between good and weak.

Trust, but verify.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

United States Department of No!

Kings of old, Dear Gentle Reader(s), had fools; the Vatican has Devil's Advocates; the United States should raise the concept of naysayers to cabinet level.  Presidential policies should be forced to pass the "smell test" before implementation; the Secretary of No should be forced, under threat of incarceration, to present an honest case for "No!" to every other cabinet level or administration bureaucratic proposal; and those honest No! arguments should be made public.

Look at the recent catastrophes which might have been prevented had there been a loud, Constitutionally mandated, naysayer.  Since 1960, we've had the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam involvement and escalation, Savings and Loan debacle, Higgeldy-Piggeldy de-regulation, and the Iraqi invasion.  That covers both political parties, as well as the loss of much blood and treasure.

There's always been some argument, one hopes, before these disastrous policies were implemented, but they were behind closed doors, for the most part, in the various administrations.  The opposition political party doesn't count (obviously).

An immediate benefit to Secretary No! would be the necessity of a very strong "yes" position.  If the proponent is aware of an impending strong opponent, solutions will contain more comprehensive thinking, and that will be to the good.

Imagine if a cabinet-level cadre of researchers had been turned loose on the debate about Mr. Hussein's weapons of mass destruction with the explicit instructions of the Constitution to refute the allegations that those weapons existed in reality in 2002. 


What has taken so long for us to see the wisdom of saying "No!"?

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Niggling Pessimism

Do not, Dear Gentle Reader(s), quote me, but memory seems to contain a moment in none of the presidential debates in 2000 in which Al Gore looks at George W Bush and the expression on his face says something akin to:  "What on earth am I doing debating this clown?"

And here we are, in 2008, with John McCain imploding on so many fronts, and Sarah Palin losing conservative support on a daily, if not hourly basis; yet, there's this drip, drip, drip of 2000 which just won't quit. 

Polls indicate a statistical dead heat.

Why is it that the race is still close? 

Has our education system so failed us?

What is happening?

Trust, but verify...and if one verifies, a vote to put McCain-Palin into office in 2009 is just inconceivable, isn't it?


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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Education of Richard Shelby

Senator Shelby, Dear Gentle Reader(s) was first elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1986; he switched parties in 1994 when the Republicans took control of congress with the Contract with America--remember that one?

Today, one wonders if Mr. Shelby is having some regrets...or if he's planning another switch, having shown his propensity to read the political winds. 

Shelby has come out against the lack of oversight written into Treasury Secretary Paulson's plan to "save" the economy.

Section 8 of the act, as written at this moment, prohibits oversight by courts or Congress.  That's hard to swallow.  Even for Mr. Shelby.

After nearly 8 years of "trust me" from this Republican administration, they want to have Congress issue a blank check for nearly 1,000,000,000,000 dollars without oversight?


Even a turncoat Democrat recognizes the absurdity of that one.

Welcome back, Senator.

Trust, but for God's sake, verify!!!!!


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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Red Buttons and Black Robes

As Cathy might say, Dear Gentle Reader(s), "Aaaaagh!"

Today's The New York Times lead on line editorial carries this headline:  "The Candidates and the Court."  It concerns the likely imminent change in the make up of the United States Supreme Court. 

The discussion centers on Senators Obama and McCain, with the bias of the editorial, to this biased eye, in favor of Mr. Obama, because of his stated inclination to "pick moderate justices, who would probably not take the court back onto a distinctly liberal path, but also would be unlikely to create an unbreakable conservative bloc."  Mr. McCain, according to the Times, "has promised the right wing of the Republican Party that he would put only archconservatives on the Supreme Court."

 No contest, eh wot?

The Times doesn't go into the vice presidential candidates.  Perhaps someone should.  It's been pretty much established that no one wants Governor Palin's finger on the red button, but what about her position on Supreme Court nominees?  James Dobson's ilk?

Goodbye Roe v Wade; hello back alley abortions, again.

Looking a little peaked, there, habeas corpus.

Welcome back tommy guns.  We've missed ya.

Sarah Palin one heart-beat from the presidency?

Forget Palin's foreign policy inexperience, how about her verifiable social experiences and decisions?

Um...what, DGR(s), was McCain thinking?

Trust, but, for the sake of the health of the Union, verify.


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Friday, September 19, 2008

This is the bridge to nowhere; this is the road to the bridge to nowhere...

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), this is a wonderful day for sniggering and snorting and giggling and guffawing.  The Los Angeles Times carries a front page article on a construction site in Alaska.  One's eyes do roll!


There it is.  It's designed to connect to the canceled ("I told Congress, Thanks, but no thanks.") bridge to nowhere.  Construction began in June, 2007.  The bridge project was canceled in September, 2007.  Work on the road continued. 

The mayor of a nearby town has this to say,

On a clear day recently, Mayor Weinstein flew over Gravina Island, looking down on the nearly completed road. "When Sarah Palin goes on national television and says: 'I told Congress, "Thanks but no thanks," ' it's not true," he said. "The implication is we didn't take the money. But we did."
The mayor said he was considering posting a sign on the road for the rest of the world to see. He said it would read: "Built Under Gov. Sarah Palin, Paid for With Federal Earmarks."


Is the Governor being truthful?  If she fudges on an issue such as this, what else is getting, um, fudged?

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sexism or slow recognition?

Much, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has been made about sexism regarding the treatment of Governor Palin by the mainstream media as well as by the blogosphere.  If one thinks about it, Republican pundits and whiners might have a point when they assert that no one would think of asking Senator Biden if he  has the time to be Vice President, given his extended family.  Shouldn't his family come first, before his political ambitions?  After all, if we have developed a society free of gender bias, shouldn't the same questions about raising family apply to candidates of either sex? 

Theoretically, yes.

Could it be though that what is happening is that the society has not yet caught up with certain configurations of the nuclear family which are particularly late 20th and early 21st century phenomena?

Governor Palin and her husband, Todd, seem to have built the sort of family where the responsibilities have been well divided according to the aspirations of each of the partners.  She wants to be political; he wants to run snow races.  She wins elections; he wins races.  The children seem to be thriving.  What's the problem?

The problem could well be that the primary bread winner has been the governor, and the general society has not yet caught on to the fact that the female, the child bearer, can well be the primary bread winner and have a successful nuclear family.  If the husband has evolved beyond the stereotype of the male-as-final-arbiter and bread winner, isn't that all to the good of society?  To each his own strengths.  Finding a complementary partner to one's strengths is the great challenge of the 21st century.  The Palins seem to have accomplished this. 

It's a giant step forward in the development of a gender-blind society.  We will all benefit from it.  As soon as we understand the accomplishment of the Palin family, the scales will fall from our eyes, and the family/sexist questions will never again be asked.

Congratulations to the Palins.

Now, if they could only rid themselves of the burdens of an evangelical religious background (it's easy, just ask any recovering Catholic--free advice given here), and the buy-in of the Republican Party's winning strategies of the culture wars in which we've been involved since the Southern Strategy, and the insane blinkered NRA interpretation of the 2nd amendment, we'd have a cracker jack couple whom we could emulate.

Trust, but verify.

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