Friday, September 26, 2008

The Relevance of Personal Sacrifice

Count me among those who believed McCain was "the least repulsive Democrat running." But the last few weeks have really solidified for me that McCain is actually going to be a better president than I would have expected and a clearly superior choice to Obama.

I recognize that not everyone is going to read into this the same way that I did, but I thought McCain's temporary suspension of his campaign was admirable. I don't believe that there was nothing McCain could have done. The man is powerful enough that he's got quite a bit of political capital. If he's willing to spend it to get a bailout done, that's good. If he's willing to do it at the expense of his campaign, that's precisely the person I want to lead us through the crisis.

I also thought that he was being attacked unfairly by the post-debate pundits. I think that most informed people understand by now that the bank and insurance company failures can be traced to the subprime housing crisis, a Democrat idea become law through a sometimes complicit Republican minority. Many attacked McCain for failing to point this out or assign blame, but think about that. Had he done so, he would have undermined his credibility in the Senate as a bipartisan negotiator. Again, he passed up the political points he could have made during a debate - a format and topic that was supposed to favor him! - in service of a greater goal.

I don't know if my impression is just confirmation bias, since I was always going to vote for Obama's opponent. Other people aren't going to draw the same conclusions from these actions. But I see the man, and I know his history of personal sacrifice for the public good, and even though I disagree with him on so much, I can't help but trust him.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Despicable lies? Does he really want to play that game?

Here's the transcript of Obama's new ad responding to the Gianna Jessen ad with some fact-checking interspersed: (transcript via Michelle)
[V]otes taken out of context accusing Obama of letting infants die. . .
Out of context? This isn't some last-minute amendment tacked on to an omnibus budget bill. The sole reason for the bill was to close the loophole in existing Illinois state law that permitted doctors to withhold lifesaving or comfort care from infants born alive during an abortion procedure. And only 9 people voted against it . . . including Obama. Looks like the other legislators understood the context all right.
It’s a despicable lie.

So what you're saying, Senator, is that lying as bad? Interesting. . .

Even the bill’s Republican sponsor said it’s untrue. Obama’s always supported medical care to protect infants.

Except, of course, Obama doesn't define "infant" as "born-alive fetus" but "wanted born-alive fetus."

Oh, so we're talking about McCain now? That's interesting, because that's not actually a McCain ad you're talking about, is it?

He’s running on a platform to ban abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

No he isn't. McCain supports abortion for rape and incest. You're thinking of Palin here, who is not actually at the top of the ticket. I know you get confused about that sometimes.

Sleazy ads.

Oh yes. (Yours.)

Anti-the choice to let "born-alive fetuses" die!

That’s John McCain.
From the beginning of the ad.

I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message

John McCain’s Attacks: “the sleaziest ads ever”, “truly vile”

That's right kids! Lying is bad, John McCain is sleazy, and Barack can prove it by countering an attack McCain didn't make.

Come to think of it, John, maybe you should!

Colorado . . . hmmm.

If Colorado is the new Florida (and God help us if we end up with another Florida-2000 situation), then isn't this bad news for Republicans?

By the time Western voters get out of work and head to the polls, the race usually seems decided. I see a lot more potential for media interference with Western voter turnout when calling the Eastern races. If the battleground is Colorado, then what happens if one side has 3 hours to prepare the battleground before the other side arrives for the fight?

The method of delivery.

At the Corner this morning:
Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere remains a hot topic in the presidential campaign. Fans and foes of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin continue to debate whether or not she supported the much-lampooned proposal for a link between Ketchikan and Gravina Island — population 50. This PowerPoint presentation offers relevant facts on this issue.
I'm thrilled with Palin, but I have questions about the maneuvering behind the Bridge to Nowhere. Even so, I can't think of anything I'd rather click LESS than a powerpoint show.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

This was pretty gross.

I know, redundant title for a post re: Alan Colmes.

You don't shoot rapid fire questions at a woman with cerebral palsy who is trying to take a half second to gather her thoughts.

Alan tries to claim that the bills Obama voted against wouldn't apply to Jessen because infants were protected if they had a "reasonable likelihood of sustained survival." I know what Jessen was going to say - because of the cerebral palsy, SHE did not have a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival. She very unreasonably lived (here in the states where life is a miracle, we call that "beating the odds"). As such, she is right, Alan is wrong - the laws Obama refused to amend would have allowed her to be legally killed.

Obviously Alan is in an untenable position here. He can disagree as a matter of policy, but isn't rude enough to tell the girl to her face that she should have died. But isn't that the basis for the left's support of abortion? That the loss of unwanted fetuses is acceptable for the greater good of protecting a woman's bodily integrity?

My life got a lot easier when I realized that shame didn't indicate a difficult position, it indicated an incorrect position.

But look at what Alan actually said and apparently believes: It should be ok to refrain from giving care to babies (that's what we call fetuses that are born alive) without:

Reasonable likelihood of sustained survival.


That's civil case standard. Failure to use "reasonable care" gets you civilly sued. It's not enough for criminal liability anywhere, ever.

But "reasonable" is enough to let the baby die?

And note that it's reasonable in the eye of one paid abortion provider who is likely facing civil liability for "unreasonably" delivering a live infant during an abortion procedure. (Note: "Wrongful life" is an actionable claim in some states, just like "wrongful death"!!)

At least in a civil case, you get the community standard for reasonableness - twelve people decide. If you're a baby, your judge, jury, and executioner is a physician on the hook for substantial increase in malpractice premiums who can save himself by quietly snuffing out your life. And in a civil case, you have lawyers. The born-alive fetus (baby) has no advocate in the abortion clinic.

As a practical matter, I'd bet that this still occurs even with the laws in place. The stakes are too high for the physician and the way to save themselves too simple and easy. But that's why the law is important - you need big teeth to shift the incentives in the other direction.

Obama would let the doctor decide "reasonableness" on the spot. Then he would let the abortionist strangle the innocent, or cut her throat.

Do you trust him with your kid?

I read the SIECUS Guidelines so you don't have to!

Obama thinks it should have been legal for me to stab my baby girl in the head and kill her while I was giving birth to her, so long as she came out feet first.

He also thinks that her kindergarten teacher should tell her:
• A boy/man has nipples, a penis, a scrotum, and testicles.
• A girl/woman has breasts, nipples, a vulva, a clitoris, a vagina, a uterus, and ovaries.
• Both boys and girls have body parts that feel good when touched.
SIECUS guidelines, page 25 (NOTE: All quotes below are from the age 5-8 category)
• Men and women have specific cells in their bodies (sperm cells and egg cells) that enable them to reproduce.
• Vaginal intercourse – when a penis is placed inside a vagina – is the most common way for a sperm and egg to join.
• Babies usually come out of a woman’s body through an opening called a vagina.
page 26-27.
• Human beings can love people of the same gender and people of another gender.
• Some people are homosexual, which means they can be attracted to and fall in love with someone of the same gender.
page 29.
• Many people live in lifetime committed relationships, even though they may not be legally married.
• Two people of the same gender can live in loving, lifetime committed relationships.
page 38-39.

• Most children are curious about their bodies.
• Bodies can feel good when touched.
page 51.
• Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation.
• Some boys and girls masturbate and others do not.
• Masturbation should be done in a private place.
page 51-52.
• People often kiss, hug, touch, and engage in other sexual behaviors with one another to show caring and to feel good.
page 52.
• There are many types of sexually transmitted diseases.
• People who do not engage in certain behaviors do not get STDs.
• The most common ways for a person to get an STD is to participate in sexual behavior or share a needle with another person who is already infected with an STD.
page 63.

This is just for the real young kiddies. The material for the older ones is shocking. The SEICUS guys apparently have quite the hard-on (sorry) for masturbation in particular. In later grades they learn that masturbation, homosexuality, and unmarried cohabitation is ok, that they can decide that religious teachings aren't personally "relevant," and that the Internet can enhance your sex life (seriously).

This is the man who wants government involved full-time in your child's life through universal pre-K and a lack of ways for people (particularly poor people) to opt out of public schooling. These are not simply academic concerns.

So I honestly to pose the question - Do you trust him with your kid?

I need to know who not to trust with my kid.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is new to me.

Before Andrew Sullivan's Palin-induced freakout, I had never thought, nor had it ever occurred to me that certain (or ANY) parts of the gay male subculture had a deep-seated loathing for women and children. Since then, people online plus random non-political junkie coworkers (!) have told me that this is the case.

I have no idea whether that's true.

But I have to wonder every time I see Sullivan refer to Trig Palin as a prop. Whatever the circumstances, when you see a mother with her baby in her arms and that strikes you as odd, abnormal, improper, political, or calculating, there is something deeply wrong with you.

What else can explain it?

This (to me) is a HUGE BIG DEAL.

hence the use of CAPS.

I've seen, but opted out of the "I am Sarah Palin" meme because I'm not Sarah Palin. If anyone, I'm Barack Obama - someone who follows the rules, who seeks success by playing the game brilliantly, but definitely playing the game (see, e.g., "Chicago Machine Politics, law firm partnership track). I'm just sayin' - it takes a certain kind of person to go to a graduate school to learn nothing of use but to learn "how to think like." Perfecting the world comes through perfecting the self.

It trickles down, you see.

That's bad in a President though. You can't assume that the interests of the person are going to align with the interests of the country. Especially when:

Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

. . .

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

He's already proven himself willing to jeopardize the nation's foreign interests to political expediency! Forget whether you disagree with Bush's foreign policy. What about the interest America has in being able to trust its allies not to try to renegotiate everything every four years? Or in expecting other countries to be able to believe our promises?

If there is a good explanation for this, I would really like to know.

Pre-adolescent Worldview of the Obama following

Pretentious blog title aside, I'm just riffing here on a few things that occurred to me lately.

My mom's stock answer growing up was "life isn't fair," which for a kid so invested with the idea of her own brilliance was devastating. "Life isn't fair" isn't something you can reason your way around. At least not when you're 10.

When I was in middle school, my best friend was OBSESSED with the idea of becoming a Navy SEAL. Her dad, who passed away when she was very young, was in the Navy I think. Her sister was the brain, she was the tomboy (although both were brilliant), and I think she may have been trying to be the son her dad never left behind. She was desperately upset at the idea that women couldn't (can't) be SEALs. "First woman SEAL" is her "Where will they be?" caption in our eighth grade yearbook. We were practically faint with excitement when the ban on women in combat was partially lifted (I wanted to be a government assassin.) We read way too many Robert Ludlum novels.

But then we went to high school and she freaked out with hormones - slipping grades, dabbling in alcohol and drugs, boy after unsuitable boy. Lots of people, myself included, wondered how such a great girl would so willingly throw her prospects out the window. Six months later, mine hit. Catastrophically. And I wondered no more.

I think about her whenever I hear of the argument for gender segregation in the military, like this one at the Corner this morning.

When I look back at how fervently we believed, how much our own self-worth was tied up in the idea of life being fair, as in EQUAL, I almost can't recall the feeling of uncomplicated faith in our rightness and righteousness. There is such a beauty and wonder about the way children - even the girls - dream about their future.

But I think we were wrong then, because we don't live in the kind of world where an uncomplicated faith can be sustained. Children can look at the shining ideal of "equality" see it as more than a value, but as a means, end, and entire belief system unto itself. Only children can honestly believe that men and women are the same. When they become men and women, they know better.

There's been a lot written about the Democrats in politics or Hollywood that root for Obama because their children do. Their worshipful treatment, his Messiah-like image, all of it has a kind of childlike wonder, bright and full with their dreams. Should he lose, there are very, very many people who are going to be distraught in a way they would not for other political candidates or races.

What do they expect to achieve with him though? Other than "hope" and "change" and "a new political discourse"? This is the real world, and real life isn't fair. It won't let us choose the purest of candidates and follow wherever he may lead us and trust that he will not lead us astray. What does Obama stand for? The only real political record we can look to is his lockstep vote with Democratic Party leadership and 100% record of voting against the unborn. It isn't fair that these are choices we have to deal with. Life isn't fair. I have yet to have a conversation with an Obama supporter that can tell me anything about what concrete actions they expect Obama to take in office. Their obligation to the world stops at their support.

The Utopia children dream of is simple and pure and uncomplicated. It's also arbitrary and uninformed and rote. The world of adults is harder. It's dirty and unexpected and infinitely complicated. But it's better.

I hope my old friend is happy, even though she isn't a SEAL. And even though I'm more June Cleaver than La Femme Nikita, I'm happier this way too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

life intrudes

My kiddo had to go to the hospital over the weekend for some nasty creeping crud. Luckily, we're all on the mend.

Back in a few days . . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Campaign Strategy Advice

Dear Mr. Axelrod:

You're probably wondering why, at the crucial time when America at large starts to pay attention to elections, everything McCain touches is turning to gold. And you're wondering why everything Obama touches explodes in his face. I can tell you why that is.

McCain is a good man.

Obama is not. He is losing because deserves to lose.

You're welcome. That will be $20 for .1 hour of my time.


Testing what's really important.

All of this to do about the so-called Bush Doctrine is telling us more about Charles Gibson than Sarah Palin. "How do you define the Bush Doctrine" isn't a foreign-policy pop-quiz gotcha, it's a media buzzword question. Bush hasn't come out and said "Here it is: My Doctrine!" The only people are defining it are columnists. No wonder Charlie (ha) was so affronted.

Implicit message: It's not enough to be familiar with and have opinions on your foreign policy positions. You have have to be familiar with and have opinions on the media's foreign policy positions.

And, of course, the fact that media doesn't know its own foreign policy position is immaterial.

Why should Charlie know what he's talking about? It's not like he's running for vice president!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11: Why do they hate us?

In looking at Keith Olbermann's deranged "special comment," I just realized why the left hates us so much.

They think the Republicans stole 9/11 from them, and they're mad because they think 9/11 is theirs.

Remember watching tv in the following weeks and seeing the abject pain in everyone's eyes. The news anchors were shell-shocked, as one would expect. They were right there when it happened. I remember bawling at Howard Ludnick of Cantor Fitzgerald telling about the loss of nearly 700 employees, and Jon Stewart's perfect tearful fuck-you to the terrorists.

And I was hurt too. I didn't move from my couch for over a week. I won't ever be the same, for better and for worse. We are all American, so it happened to me.

But not like it happened to them.

After 9/11, the whole world was American. But who bore the most direct losses? As much as those of us in flyover country decry how the left-wing media is concentrated in the coastal monopolies, the heart of the coastal elite was worst hit in the attack. From the uper-wealthy Democratic financial services guys to the overwhelmingly Democratic media to the Democratic leaning union fire, police, and port authority officers - their side of the political divide got hit worse than ours did.

And now it's eating Olbermann alive that the Republicans "hijacked" it and made it the foundation of their will to lead.

He thinks we're exploiting the event that belongs to him. Because how can anyone in the Midwest who didn't know anyone personally killed have any idea what Keith Olbermann or Anderson Cooper or their producers and camera people went through that day. Their whole lives must have been turned upside down - physical reminders greeted them at work, at home, at play. They have memories of friends they'll never see again.

He doesn't believe us when the red states say: "We are all American" yet use his pain to advance policies he disagrees with. We've taken something from him that didn't belong to us and used it against him. The way that the right suspects the left of using faux-environmentalism to kill business (because the left thinks business oppresses us), the left suspects the right of using faux-patriotism to kill civil liberties (because the right thinks that overly permissive society oppresses us). And there are enough wackos on both sides to confirm the worst suspicions of the other.

In the seven intervening years, the lines have been drawn. The two sides no longer listen to the others. So when I see Olbermann then:
I would never doubt the sincerity of your pain.
And Olbermann now:
You shed your phony crocodile opportunistic tears over 9/11.
I don't think simple hypocrisy can explain the extent of the sheer unhinged outrage. Because the 9/11 video was pretty innocuous. I went back and looked at what prompted his first statement, Fox's John Gibson mocking Jon Stewart's 9/11 response, and it's disgusting. I never thought I would say this, but Olbermann was right to bring it up. He's wrong now, but for too long he's been sitting and stewing and watching the right take his pain and use it against him. No wonder he accuses us of "hijacking" - he thinks we are doing what the terrorists did to him.

The right gets it wrong when they say the left is ignoring 9/11. I think they're consumed by it. Look how possessive Olbermann is and how angry that it's been stolen. Look how angry he is that the Republicans are trying to "terrify" him. How dare they, he says, when he was already more terrified than they can ever imagine. The right thinks that the left has abandoned 9/11 and tries to shoulder the responsibility alone. The left sees us stealing what is theirs, and it is driving them crazy.

I bet that quite a bit of the left feels this way. This hit them where they live. And I think the elites and media tastemakers had a big impact in causing this wingnuttery to reach critical mass. If the media can build a frenzy about Britney Spears, I doubt they would be any less effective in building frenzy when they are actually being sincere. Hence, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, my crazy ex-friends, etc.

They doubt our sincerity. While it's certainly tempting to tell the left to fuck right off while we skip to the presidency with another 51% win, that's not the right course. Olbermann is probably beyond hope. But looking toward the future, I think the best option to help everyone is to expect better from the Republican party. If Republicans expect to be believed that the protection of America is our highest and most pure driving interest, we should act like we are pursuing a higher calling. We're not.

As much as we want conservative principles embodies in our laws and leaders, wouldn't it be better if we could do it without alienating 49% of our countrymen?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thinking like a lawyer.

They always tell you that the purpose of law school is to "think like a lawyer." They do that to justify the fact that they generally don't teach you any laws, and even if they want to the legislature can just rewrite the rules any time they want to. But it's true, that you do think like a lawyer when you get out of law school.

Thinking like a lawyer entails: 1) being afraid to step outside the front door for fear of getting sued, 2) spending more time arguing about risk and cost rather than moving your tailfeather when, for example, a car is skidding toward you on an icy street, and 3) having uncomfortably intimate dreams about Supreme Court justices. You know you're thinking like a lawyer when the most disturbing parts of those dreams are that they focus on the judges who aren't on your side of the great ideological divide.

So I am going to take refuge in the fact that I "think like a lawyer" to justify that when I read this:
I have the most precious [tech support] case number now, and even though I only have four days of free phone support left, the case number ensures my case can grin on forever like Jarndyce and Jarndyce. It may even survive me. I may bequeath it to my heirs.
My gut reaction was: "Don't joke about that! The legal fees would eat up the cost of the messed up product!"
And upon realizing how ridiculous that is, reflexively thinking: "For reals - probate is complicated!!" And then going off on a mental trip about how one would actually go about probating a technical support case number. I couldn't stop myself from going there even while the nonlawyer chunk of brain was busy trying to revel in the Bleak House love.

The post-law school working world quickly disabuses you of the notion that you're any value to anyone when you think like a lawyer. It is, unfortunately, not as good at instructing you quite how . . .

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Just another example of the "New" politics

Obama thinks that the fact that he's running a campaign qualifies him for president. Since that's his argument, it's fair game to examine Obama's campaign-management skills a little more closely than might otherwise be warranted. We already know he can't control his employees. It's also been an open secret that he can't even control his own website. But as we devolve into the mudslinging characteristic of the pre-election frenzy, let's take a look at how "The One" polices his own:

Here we have one of Obama's supporters "GE" creating a community on Obama's official website: "Alaskans Against Palin." Hmm, that seems a little negative for the "new" politics, but fair is fair.

I wonder which part of Alaska "GE" is from?

Athens, GA. Is that near Wasilla?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The apology heard 'round the world. . .

. . . and yet. She says that Palin did a good job in her speech, but insists "you can't do it all." Obama, apparently, can. I look forward to a more detailed explanation.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Taranto is the highlight of my weekday.

From Best of the Web Today from, appropriately enough, today:
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit, a Democrat who supports Barack Obama, pleaded guilty to perjury yesterday, "ending an almost eight-month saga that will result in his expulsion from office," Bloomberg reports:
Kilpatrick, 38, a Democrat and in his second term as mayor, admitted to lying on the witness stand last year when he said he didn't have an extramarital affair. Admitting to a felony means the mayor will automatically be removed from his post.
"I lied under oath," Mayor Kilpatrick said in court in Detroit today. "I did so with the intent to mislead the court and jury."
Prosecutors said he has 14 days to leave office.

But Kilpatrick is not without his defenders:

"This has been a witch hunt from the start," said Byron Frazier, 34, wearing a T-shirt with Kilpatrick's image on it outside the courthouse. "I've supported the mayor from the start and will continue to support him."

What does this Byron Frazier do for a living? Wait for it:

Frazier is a community organizer in Detroit.


The Cro-magnon Energy Plan

Offshore windfarms on the Outer Contintental shelf? Um, that's not going to work. You might be able to imagine that you can see the shelf from Cape Cod. Outrageous!

In all seriousness, why can we put acres of windfarms out in the ocean but not oil rigs? Are there any objective studies that we can use to compare the enviromental impacts of both? Probably not, since the "environment" is such a squishy thing to measure (unless you want to divvy it up into carbon credits to parcel out for sale). But I can't imagine that there are no costs to sea-borne windpower - what about the migratory patterns of birds and sea life (do plants migrate)?

I was going to try making a joke about putting windmills on the oil derricks, but it was too lame to print. Like CFL levels of lame. Seriously though, how can one even fathom the idea that we'll be saved by a windmill, a windmill - the sad sickly descendant of this squat happy guy. Our future depends on a technology ninth century technology? It's like a steampunk nightmare, only without the steam.

And oil? We'll soon be coming up on 200 years since the 'modern' age of petroleum refining. Even with the advances in refining and energy production, it's still the same old factory stacks belching out energy and rancid smoke of the nineteenth century. And besides: oil, coal, natural gas - we're "making" energy by lighting shit on fire. That's neanderthal-level science. Come on humanity, we can do better than that!

Oil plants and windmills and clever turbines built into cleverer dams . . . I can imagine the actual facility, the gears and wheels. But I can't seem to draw the line between these ancient technologies and the future - the future! - and it's great shining promise to humanity. I can't.

The energy debates - the drill, baby, drill - it all bores me. I want to know about nuclear power, I want to know about what's happening at the edge of science. Forget wind, let's burn all the oil that's left, all of it in one big roaring blaze. Throw it in the Large Hadron Collider, if that's what it takes to advance humanity to the next big leap in human achievement.

In the meantime, I'm selling carbon credits. Drop me a line if you'd like to sponsor a patch of my inappropriately delicious desert lawn.

UPDATE: I guess some people's idea of a lame joke is someone else's good idea!

My letter to Sally Quinn

. . . or how I learned to stop using the spell check and love the legalese. (Sorry)

I found this post from Sally Quinn via the Anchoress. Her attacks seemed so grossly and outrageously unfair that I felt compelled to respond.

[ETA: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks for giving me a read. Even though I haven't been blogging here long, I intend to continue. So if you're interested in what I have to say, there will be much more to come.]

Ms. Quinn:

I'm a conservative Catholic, so you may regard me as someone even more strange and foreign to you as the the evangelicals and Southern Baptists you want to hear from. Goodness knows you've got issues enough with the Catholics these days.

Don't think we Catholics don't hear our own fair share of horrified "feminist" flutterings at our daring to have faith in an institution that has served mankind for thousands of years but fails to conform to the politically correct hegemony of the last thirty.

There are more parts of Catholic belief than the requirement that priests be men. In all facets of life in and out of the church, women have a distinct and valued relationship with God. Men and women are not "better" or "worse." My faith fulfills me. Why would I care about not being a priest? I have my own role.

I have never felt less-than as a Catholic woman. Every role has its own challenges, rewards, and sacrifices. We all face the challenges of sometimes not getting what we want for seemingly arbitrary reasons. Our job is to learn to accept the things we cannot change with good cheer and seek God's plan within whatever limitations exist. Not everything is a fight, and I certainly don't want to fight with God.

I have never felt the need to look at another's share in church life and compare it unfavorably with my own. I have no doubt that the majority women of evangelical and Southern Baptists faiths feel the same way. The purpose of a church is to worship together, not to one-up each other. It is not a competition between the sexes. It is not church leaders versus everyone else. Women in conservative churches are not slaves plotting to overthrow their masters. Everyone has his or her own role.

Christianity is a community, not a cult. Tell your friends!

So to answer to your questions, which I am assuming you've asked in good faith:

1) A woman has no right to be a Catholic priest. No one has the "right" to be a Catholic priest. That calling is not open to women. Many others, co-equal in dignity, are.

2) As a general proposition, Catholic husbands and Catholic wives have different roles within the marriage and different relationships with the children.

3) Sarah Palin has a responsibility to God and her family. She also has responsibilities to her country and to keep her promises. Fathers have responsibilities toward God and their families as well. Sarah Palin has accepted the task and given her word to serve as a public official. If she and her family feel that their needs can be met despite her decision to serve the public, then that is between her and her family. Many men are primary caregivers by choice or otherwise and they do just fine. If Todd Palin has agreed to do so in support of the larger goal, then he owes it to his family to live up to his own word.

This position could also benefit her family as well. Perhaps Ms. Palin feels that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can serve a much greater goal, to be an example to the world (and her daughters) of how to a woman of faith conducts herself on a world stage.

Presumably, the governorship has given the Palin family a test-run of the practical considerations. At any rate, I don't presume to have the knowledge to judge what the requirements of her family are. That's personal. Neither you, nor I, nor the public has any means with which to judge what the Palins, rightly or wrongly, have chosen to embark on. We simply don't have the information necessary to know. There's a reason for that: IT'S NOT OUR BUSINESS.

4) You ask what I think of Sarah Palin's priorities as a woman with five children, still breastfeeding, one pregnant, and who's made (what you have decided) is a "risky" decision to fly to Alaska to have a child and then go to work days later. What do I think of that? I think it's ADMIRABLE. I think it's INSPIRING. I think that her family is going to sacrifice mightily, but they see some purpose and perhaps reward in following this path. It's a high risk with a chance of great reward. Some people are more risk-averse. Others make history.

5) You ask whether I believe her first priority will be as a mother or as a governor or vice president. I think that her first priority is, obviously, to God. This is clearly a woman who feels that she's been blessed with an opportunity larger than herself. She has actually already proven herself willing to sacrifice a child on behalf of her country through her encouragement of her oldest son. Presumably, she thinks that the good is worth the risk. I would expect that the good she feels she can do as VP will outweigh the costs to her children and family.

6) You ask what I think about her judgment in accepting the role of vice-presidency while her family situation was chaotic. We don't have the information to judge whether her family can handle it or if they wanted to. We don't know the costs and we don't know the benefit that she is seeking. As to her judgment, time will tell, I suppose. It would obviously not be good judgment to think that there would be no costs to her family or her relationship to her children. I don't think there is any indication whatsoever that she hasn't considered that.

But this is a judgment question insofar as it presumes that she has improperly calculated the costs and benefits. It's a judgment question insofar as it presumes that family obligations are the immovable object that all else must accommodate. Her religion does not require that this be so. The fact that she has conservative beliefs does not mean that this is a judgment call she's made. If she has chosen her course in spite of the costs, then that is a values question. Should she value her children's comfort, privacy, and happiness less than her official duties, that would not disqualify her for office. This unstated implication in your questioning of her choices is what's causing the right to cry sexism. The value a parent places on their children ought not be part of the job interview.

As to the judgment aspect, I don't think there's any way for us to say that the older members of the family, including the eldest daughter, don't have their own opinions that they've made known. I can't imagine being a pregnant seventeen year old girl and having the weight of my parents' hopes and dreams and the potential course of history hinging on a moment of poor judgment. The guilt would eat me alive. I don't think we can say that her decision, on its face, is evidence of poor judgment. If she proves to be a bad mother, well, then that is between her and her family and God.

So those are your questions, but I don't think those are your concerns. I think you're wondering whether she's taken on too much. You're wondering whether she has any idea what she's getting into and what's going to happen to the country if she realizes that her do-it-all Supermom plan isn't going to work. From what I can tell from your last column, I'd bet that you and I both have had the experience of planning a tour-de-force return to the workplace after having our first and only babies, only to find that while our skills remained sharp our desires were gone? And it comes back, after awhile, and you get used to the new normal of being separated from your kid during the day and of trying to make the evening hours as "quality" as possible, (whatever that means). I work as an attorney in a major metropolitan area and I've got a baby at home. Most of my friends are female attorneys. Unlike the male attorneys we know, whose wives care for their new babies, the families of women attorneys seem to be more dependent on their incomes. So we're sad, but we go back to work, and yes, we cut corners in our jobs, especially during the first few years of our babies' lives, because it's really hard to bring yourself to care about work under the circumstances.

I think you're concerned about what's going to happen if Sarah Palin tries to cut corners in her job. After all, she has a baby at home, and one who's going to require a different kind of care than most parents have to deal with. Still, I'm not concerned about the choice she's made for the following reasons:

1) She's done this before and knows the demands of her family. She's a woman with five children, and anyone whose spent time around large families know that you can love your children equally, but where everything is strange and foreign with your first precious snowflake, by the time you hit kids number three and four you've got a better understanding of what to do and how rugged and adaptable kids really are. She's also got a good understanding of the way their family works and the extent to which her husband, parents, and extended family will be able to provide for her children in ways that her job prevents her from doing. The fact that her youngest has Downs suggests that he's going to need more care, but does not necessarily require that she personally be the one to give it. She's also had four months to get used to his care and learn about his condition - his need for additional care is not going to prove overly shocking while she's in office. She is going to have access to doctors, nurses, nannies, and tutors, not to mention cooks, maids, and drivers (yes, yes, leaving the speech aside). If she only sees Trig for a bedtime story most nights, it's not like he's going to starve to death.

2) I think your concerns also assume that if there came a time when she had to choose between her family and her job, that you believe she would choose her family. I think the reason you make that assumption is because of your own experience and your understanding of what's required of evangelical women in relation to their family. I don't think that is an assumption that can be made. For one thing, the assumption that the evangelical belief limits her to cooking and cleaning is too narrow. I'd bet that her family is viewing this as a shared family endeavor and that all are on board and willing to share her burdens. So long as someone is providing the love and care to her children, her duties to them can be discharged.

The main problem with this concern is that it presupposes an incredible amount of naivete about the burdens of the office. Sarah Palin is cute, but she's a political animal. She's been working to raise her national profile ever since she's been elected governor. I think everyone, including her, was surprised that she rose this far this fast. I do not believe she hasn't given serious clear-eyed thought to the burdens and costs. But given that she's been savvy enough to politic and sell herself to, at the very least, McCain, I have trouble believing she would be that naive.

3) We all have to worry about what happens if, after all, she can't reconcile her obligations to her family and her obligations to the job. There may come a point for Sarah Palin, that she just can't do both. You're concerned that she'll give the job short shrift. I don't think it's a given that the job is what she'll necessarily choose to sacrifice. But this isn't a concern limited to Palin. What if something happens to the Obama girls, or McCain's? What if the president or vice president commits a criminal act, or suffers mental health, or criminal [mean to say "addiction" -ed] issues? We can only hope that whoever is president or VP will have the integrity to step down if they ever reach that point. That's not something that's limited to Sarah Palin. As I've laid it out above, I don't think that situation is as likely as you seem to think. But moreover, I've seen no reason to doubt her integrity.

Sally - may I call you Sally now? We're practically friends now - after both conventions, it looks like this election is going to degenerate, as so many do, into an all-out culture war. It's fair for you to raise questions, but the vitriol coming your way stems from the assumptions underlying your concerns (the naivete, the lack of integrity, the simple-minded understanding of the role of formal religion). It's particularly galling to be called to account for one's faith to, of all people, the founder of "On Faith"! But I hope that you are able to get some answers to your questions and examine your own assumptions before making judgments about people. I've no doubt that I've misunderstood some critical point of yours, and hope that you'll let me know so I can examine mine.

Thanks for your time,
A. DePaul

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Peace and purpose.

The opposition response seems tepid. I've no doubt that the leftists, the media, and the Obama campaign are working on what to do about Sarah. I have (of course) lots more to say, but I think I'll just take one night to bask in the afterglow of the vindication of my hopes. Time enough tomorrow for the hard work to make them reality.


Good speech. For all it was hyped as a win it-or-lose it night, she was great, but not earth shatteringly so. She is a gifted politician. I think she struck the right balance between talking about herself, McCain, and Obama, with just a wee bit of Biden (through the Delaware comments). [ETA: Not Delaware, Scranton. I think it was Rudy who mentioned DE.] At first I thought she was going to overdo the folksy small-town talk, but it was a good fit within her overall theme of reinforcing the differences between the tickets. Worst part of the speech - the foreign policy pop quiz (Caucasus, Venezuela, blah blah). Best part - she went on the offensive! The bit about the Obama-Georgia-UN Security Counsel gaffe was great!!

As for the commentary, I watch PBS (Cox Cable sucks). Jim Lehrer seemed pretty neutral. David Brooks was much better tonight. Either he genuinely thinks she did a good job or he's smart enough to anticipate the backlash against the media and distance himself from the Palin lynching. Peniel Joseph's commentary was interesting, even though I disagree with him for the most part.

I'd never paid any attention to Mark Sheilds before this convention, but I stand by my original impression that he seems like a pissy little bitch, and not a very clever one at that. Gwen Ifill looked like she was drugged at the end - take a nap, Gwen! - and I think her bitter tone when talking about the Obama attacks are going to be indicative of the overall media reaction. That faux-hurt clucking over poor Barack's feelings is not, I don't think, going to play well overall.

B+ for Sarah
C- for Jim Lehrer and Co.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Now I'm angry.

NBC and CBS didn't even AIR Fred's whole speech? Despicable.

Bias on!

Why does tag 'Obama' as a misspelling? 'Palin,' also gets tagged, which I get because her name hasn't been used much until recently. But it gets 'McCain' right, presumably because it's a fairly common proper name. 'Obama,' if not more common, is certainly more used. And it doesn't tag Biden - that I don't get at all. But which party does favor?

Let's check . . . no misspelling tag for 'Bush.' I smell a Rove-ian plot!!!!!!!!!!

How irritating is Fred Thompson. . .

. . . for not giving speeches like this in his own run:

To deal with these challenges the Democrats present a history-making nominee for president. History-making in that he is the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president. Apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history-making, Democrat-controlled Congress. History-making because it's the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation's history.

Lol. I also particularly liked this part:
Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases. They tell you they are not going to tax your family. No, they're just going to tax "businesses." So unless you buy something from a "business," like groceries or clothes or gasoline . . . or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small "business," don't worry . . . it's not going to affect you.
As for the other speakers,

Bachmann: Irritating.
Laura Bush: Very good.
Bush: Classy.
Lieberman: Surprisingly effective.

I really liked Lieberman's point about bipartisanship. If your goal is to be post-partisan, to heal the country of its divisiveness, why would you vote for the candidate who is ranked the #1 most extreme liberal over the candidate who regularly goes against big ticket conservative positions (climate change and immigration), who approached a Democrat to be on his ticket in 2004 and seriously considered adding one to his in 2008? I don't think bipartisanship is necessarily a virtue, but Obama would have us believe it is. Who is he kidding about being "bipartisan" here? I have yet to actually hear an answer about this from an Obama supporter, but I truly would like to know.

I watched on PBS, which was great because the talking heads were kept to a minimum. It was funny watching David Brooks make everything into a backhanded compliment. Way better than Mark Shields, who was a really nasty piece of work. [ETA: I'm not the only one who thinks so.]

Finally - I got to talk to Hugh Hewitt on the air today! Now I have something in common with Lileks! Yay for me.

Apparently the Palin children aren't the only lefty targets.

The need to attack children is just another symptom of a diseased and morally bankrupt political philosophy. Note that this extends to physical attacks.
A little later, a busload of Cub Scouts were en route to the convention, where they were to present the colors to open the convention. A group of protesters--liberals, Obama supporters, or whatever--blocked the road, surrounded the bus, and attacked it, rocking the bus back and forth, denting and scratching the sides, and generally terrifying the children trapped inside. The left-wing protesters attacked a number of buses in the same way, but there is something especially despicable about attacking a group of Cub Scouts.
Hint to protestors: when you have to resort to harming children to make your point, it makes you look desperate.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Who makes the case? Judge DePaul makes a ruling.

I'm a litigation attorney, and that frames the way I generally approach political issues. In politics, though, the one-on-one debate isn't as effective as an adversarial legal argument because there isn't a judge there to call bullshit and make you actually argue the same point as your opponents. In this new bloggingheads, Cohen and Loury (indirectly) tackle the question of how to attack the Palin pick. I'm going to judge who's got the better advice for the Obama campaign.

COHEN: "This is someone who is obviously unqualified."
Lawyering Practice Tip: Anytime I submit something to a court, I ALWAYS make sure to remove any hint of the word "obvious." It's argumentative, and the argument is: "You should just know." The corrolary is: "Therefore I should not have to engage in the substantive facts." The argument that things are obvious is always a loser. The unwillingness to engage in the facts undercuts Cohen's critiques right out of the gate, as it's not obvious to me that, based on criteria set by me or criteria set by the Obama campaign, that Palin isn't qualified.

They talk about the Palin stating in response to a press inquiry in 2007 that she hadn't given much thought to Iraq because she's been focused on her governorship.
COHEN: "It had the virtue of being an honest answer. . . rather than get some moronic version of the party line. . . That's the problem with it that it's an honest answer. . . You don't really have a view of the war the country is involved in."
LOURY: That answer is unremarkable for a governor of a small state who wasn't running for president.
Both men discuss their firm belief that it was an honest answer. Both take great pains to point out that Palin is remarkable (so as not to condescend), yet neither addresses the possibility that it's a politically calculated act. It looks like Palin had just won her governor's race with 45% of the vote vs. 44% to her opponent. Neither addresses the possibility that Palin could have been purposefully treading lightly so as not to lose a slim majority (approval ratings don't last forever and Iraq incites the crazies). Cohen asserts that you can prove she doesn't care about Iraq by contrasting her answer to an affirmative answer on a climate question. Palin was the chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission, which seems like it would make it more difficult to demur on a climate question. Neither man fully explores the assumptions underlying their arguments, but Loury at least mentions the context.
(slim) ADVANTAGE: Loury.

During this part of the discussion, there was also this.
COHEN: She was not one of these people who thinks there are human sources of climate change. She didn't say I hadn't thought about it very much, but it was obvious. . .
Again with the obvious, plus most judges don't care for assholes.

Loury argues that Democrats shouldn't try to attack her on qualification grounds because it reinforces the Republican culture war theme that casts Democrats as arugula-eating metropolitan snobs. I think he's right, conservatives are always bitching about that. Cohen responds by saying that you can tell this is the case because Dobson and Limbaugh are all over the Palin pick "like stink on shit." He ignores the fact that lots of people listen to and agree with Dobson and Limbaugh. Plus, it's gross.

Loury points out that people are invested in Palin the way people are invested in Obama.
LOURY (paraphrase): Republicans just defined their own niche - fundamentalist pro-life red America red-blooded American girl. She embodies the hopes and dreams of a derogated social group. There are probably comparable numbers of people who will be voting for Obama for the same reasons.
Interestingly, unlike almost all other Democratic analysis I've seen, Loury RIGHTLY gets that Palin is not an appeal to women, but to conservatives!

This is, I think, the most significant part of this debate:
COHEN: When he picked Biden I thought ok, when he was making this decision, somewhere pretty high up on this list in things he wanted from a vp is confidence that the person could do the job as president. . . When I think about what was on McCain's list in making the decision I don't see that it could have been anywhere on this list that she has the qualifications to do the job.
(So much for not condescending.)
LOURY: I have to object. I think its a nonsequitur. 'Obama choice made for decisions that are credible, weighing the well-being of the country high. The McCain reasons for choosing are dishonorable and weigh the choice based on more dishonorable purely partisan motives.' I don't think there's any difference between these campaigns in what they'll do to win. Obama's decision not to participate in public funding was a serious shift. The motivations were "what does it take to win."
Cohen shows a total inability to understand his Republican opponents. (I read a blog recently that theorized that Obama supporters seem not only to want to prove he's a better candidate, but that he's a better person. I wish I could remember who wrote that!) His "McCain is putting the country at risk" argument is not going to convince anyone that doesn't come preloaded with a hefty set of assumptions. It requires you to ignore any tactical political advantage in Biden, but I can think of several (he can attack without dirtying Obama's hands while retaining his regular Joe likeability for the most part, he brings, if not gravitas, then staidness to the ticket. He fills the holes in Obama's resume where people have concerns - they may think that a 28 year Senator isn't about to advise his young friend to be too radical.) These are not assumptions that voters just tuning in are likely to have.

They then discuss a point raised elsewhere (I think first by Begala), that Obama's experience is off the table because 18 million voters thought he had enough, whereas only 1 person has ever expressed confidence in Palin. I don't really understand this point, as Palin obviously hasn't gotten the chance to have the nation vote on her. Does that mean if she ends up as veep they will never question her suitability in the veep role?

OVERALL ARGUMENT: Cohen seems to be saying that she's unqualified and McCain is risking the country unduly by picking her. His whole argument on her qualifications is a condescending assumption that she doesn't think about Iraq and a refusal to deal with the substantive facts of Obama's resume (because he feels that the judgment of Democratic primary voters should suffice). Loury seems to be saying that attacks on qualifications raise questions about Obama and his own criteria for being president which is a losing battle because Obama may be more qualified but he is, after all, running for the top of the ticket. He also points out that separate from the double-standard argument this kind of attack seems to raise, it reinforces a theme prevalent on the right that there is a culture war and that the Democrats don't understand or care about them. He's right about this too.

THE WINNER (In a surprise upset!): REPUBLICANS!
Loury has convinced me that the best way to go after Palin is on the substance of her policies. In a head-to-head, conservative principles are better than modern liberal principles.

So we win.

Good for Obama!

I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits, and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.
I don't think Obama is sexist, despite the virulent misogyny of his supporters. It just goes to show you that you that just because really awfulpeople hold a certain view, it doesn't mean that everyone who holds the view is awful. [Come to think of it, this has come up recently.]
Let's watch and see if the media remembers this fact next time any high-profile evangelist says something awful.

But in the meantime: thank you, Barack.