Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just Imagine

Pass this on to any of your friends who remain unconvinced that health care reform is not necessary.

Thanks for stopping by. Still traveling so still sporadic posts, but come back soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I'll be traveling so my posts for the next 2 weeks will be sporadic. Check out some of my previous posts on Judge Sotomayor, Dick and Liz Cheney, and other subjects of interest listed down the side.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Jeffery Beauregard Sessions III, Again

The irony of Senator Sessions being the Minority Leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the confirmation hearings on Judge Sotomayor is breathtaking. Unfortunately, Mr. Sessions does not understand irony any better than he understands the word empathy, although in his pronouncements yesterday in the opening day of the hearings, he found it necessary to instruct Ms. Sotomayor and everyone else present, on the definition, in the dictionary according to Sessions, of empathy. [emphasis added]

"I feel we've reached a fork in the road, I think, and there are stark differences. I want to be clear. I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who is not fully committed to fairness and impartiality toward every person who appears before them."

"And I will not vote for, and no senator should vote for, an individual nominated by any president who believes it is acceptable for a judge to allow their personal background, gender, prejudices or sympathies to sway their decision in favor of or against parties before the court."

"In my view such a philosophy is disqualified. Such an approach to judging means that the umpire calling the game is not neutral, but instead feels empowered to favor one team over another. Call it empathy, call it prejudice, or call it sympathy, but whatever it is, it's not law. In truth it's more akin to politics, and politics has no place in the courtroom."

"... That is, of course, the logical flaw in the empathy standard. Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another."

Ah, where to begin.

Empathy. As a counselor, one of the first things we are taught is the importance of empathy. Without it, we are told, that connection with our client cannot happen. Studies have shown that it is the relationship between counselor and client - that process of active listening - more than any technique or theoretical training, that provides the atmosphere that enables change.

As counselors, we do not tell our clients what to do. We do not advise, suggest, nor do we soothe or comfort. It is not for me to approve nor disapprove of the choices my client makes, but rather to provide a safe place for the client to explore his or her own feelings about those choices, re-write the story if necessary, and try out different options for the future - or the past. It isn't about me and my values. It isn't about what I think is right and wrong. It isn't about what I feel or think. It is about what the client needs, and wants, and their values and ideas. Empathy is placing myself in their shoes, letting go of my own ego and imagining myself in their life, understanding their pain. Not experiencing their pain: understanding.

I may not understand the experience, but we've all experienced pain, hurt, and anger so can relate to feelings.
That is empathy. Finding the common experience, something with which to relate.

Prejudices? We all have them whether we are willing to admit to it or not. I am saddened that now that we have an African-American president, it appears that racism and prejudice seem to be permissible to bring into the open in a way it hasn't been in over 30 years.

Prejudice is judging someone based on their membership in a group. Hating someone because they are a member of a religion, ethnic group, race, political party, social group, or any kind of group. Assigning characteristics to an individual commonly associated with the group to which they belong which may or may not be true. For example; gay men molest little boys (false), democrats are pro abortion (false), republicans are anti abortion (false), Gypsies steal (false), people from the south are all racist (false), all Catholics are Christian (true), all Christians believe the Bible is the literal word of God (false) and all Christians believe the same thing (false).

Racism is a unique prejudice that believes that all people of a race different than one's own are inferior. Interestingly, many racists are also devout Christians, or express deep religiosity in some other religion and as such, are less concerned with science. If they were, they would understand that there is no real genetic difference between races, and in fact, there is only about 1% genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees. So, it makes just as much sense to judge others on the color of their skin as it does to judge them on the color of their eyes, or hair, or their height (although I guess we do that, too).

And sympathy? Many, many people mistake sympathy for empathy. We all hate sympathy - or at least being the recipient of sympathy unless you enjoy being the victim. Sympathy is cloying, patronizing, and implies that you need someone to take care of you - that you are needy and dependent. We can feel sympathy for someone who has experienced serious illness or tragedy, but we also expect that over time they will move on and need less and less of our support and begin to recover from their dependency. There is always a point when sympathy becomes frustrating and debilitating and turns into a negative for at least one of the parties involved.

Empathy? It is always positive. We don't feel the pain, the tragedy, the anger. We understand it. We recognize it but we don't internalize it because to do so would be to minimize our ability to help, encourage victimhood, and weaken ourselves and cause burnout. Empathy is simply a way to connect with each other, to acknowledge how we are alike rather than emphasizing how we are different.

So the use of empathy in law, in politics? I don't see how anyone can govern effectively or rule wisely without it. One of the main problems in Washington today - and for a long time now - is the total disconnect from the real world. Our politicians and judges have no real contact with real people outside the beltway and without empathy, make decisions based on what is best for them and their insular world, rather than what is best for the country and the majority of the people, so yes, empathy is mandatory.

And the role of Mr. Sessions in all of this? Here's where we come to irony. From the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:

Irony -
1: a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning —called also Socratic irony

2 a
: the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b: a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c: an ironic expression or utterance

3 a
(1): incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2): an event or result marked by such incongruity b: incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play —called also dramatic irony, tragic irony

Mr. Sessions last sat before this very committee, before many of these same members as a supplicant for a judgeship in his own right. Not a Supreme Court judgeship, just a federal one, for which he was (very rightly) rejected. Losing out on that dream, he went into politics and now sits in judgement of Judge Sotomayor. The cause of his rejection? Racism. What he chooses to focus on in his interrogations of Judge Sotomayor? Racism. Why? Because she said that her experience as a Latina woman gave her the life experience to empathize with those before her. To understand the lives of those whose rulings came before her and that this worldview enabled her to have the perspective to look at the law with an understanding of its real world effects. Every Republican on the Committee yesterday referenced her "Wise Latina woman" comment in their opening remarks and intends to question her about it. You will note, not one of them, nor the mainstream media, has seen fit to quote the entire context of that remark. Fortunately, the Democratic Senators have and will see to that.

Chairmanships in the House and Senate are gained by seniority. Mr. Sessions was not next in line for his. When Arlen Spector move across the aisle to become a Democrat, it opened up the spot for Minority Chair of the Judicial Committee. Knowing full well the (racist) history of Mr. Sessions, knowing the points they had decided to use to attack Ms. Sotomayor (even knowing she would be confirmed regardless), the Republican leadership jumped Mr. Sessions to the head of the line and named him to the position. Why? That's an interesting question. So far, all the strategy devised by the Republicans so far has failed, so it will be interesting as this confirmation process moves forward to see how this one plays out.

To find out more about Jeff Sessions own history with the Judiciary Committee and his failed bid for a judicial nomination, go here.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sean Hannity Fakes the News, Again

Why do progressives call it Faux News? Sean Hannity has a remarkable facility for creative editing, showing passionate outrage over something President Obama has said, getting his viewers worked up by something that was said, but neglecting to include what pre- or succeeded what Sean shows us.

Has he done this once or twice? No. This is business as usual for Faux News, and for Mr. Hannity. Media Matters, a media watchdog group that follows Fox and other media outlets and posts discrepancies whenever found, has put together the following clip to demonstrate a few examples of what happens when you selectively edit a video clip, add a dollop of outrage, a smidge of passion, and end up with an audience believing that they have a President who has done something he hasn't, is someone he isn't, and wants things he doesn't.

What does Hannity and Faux News want? Whatever their boss Rupert Murdoch wants. What does Rupert want? Power. How do you get power? Money. How do you get money? By owning most of the media in a market. How do you own most of the media? By owning the politicians. How do you own most of the politicians? By owning the media. How do you own the media? By owning the politicians. How do you own the politicians? Money. How do you make money? By owning the politicians. By owning the media. By controlling the message. By manipulating the markets.

Does anyone honestly believe that Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, et. al., really believe everything they say? Rush Limbaugh? Or do they believe in their multi-million dollar paychecks. Eeny-meeny-miny-mo. Hmmm. Decisions, decisions.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Sarah Palin Matters & How the MSM Fell Down on the Job

I've written more about Sarah Palin in the past couple of days than in the past year, leaving it for the most part to the truly excellent Alaska bloggers who have it covered. I've written recently, because of a couple of areas that I haven't seen covered in the way that I would like to see written about and because there's just so much to say.

Like many writers, I've had many people wonder over the months since the election why I cared about her at all. I have been asked, repeatedly, why she mattered. The election was over, the GOP lost, she's an idiot, no one would ever elect her to dog-catcher, so why pay attention to her ever again? People asked me why, not living in Alaska, I cared what she did?

She does matter. Perhaps now more than ever. Her poll numbers are rising. Donations to SarahPac are rising. Ethics charges continue and despite what she says, her resignation changes nothing as far as staff hours or state dollars spent on dealing with them. What does change, is that she can travel, gather in speaking fees, write her book (or rather, have it written for her) and pose for as many pretty pictures as she wants and not have to disclose a dime. She retains an enormous popularity despite (or because of) the recent attacks on her.

It's interesting that one of the reasons that she resigned is because of the mainstream media, yet, she has made herself available to them to an incredible extent since her Friday resignation. She has invited the networks to Dillingham for interviews, taking reporters out fishing and giving one on one's to TV and print reporters - some of whom she had threatened to sue the day before if they dared to report that there were rumors about her. When asked about her comments calling Hillary a whiner last summer in reference to media attacks, she immediately became defensive, stating that her case was completely different since the attacks on her were accusations that had been proven wrong whereas Hillary was just whining about normal, reasonable criticism that she should expect as a part of the process. hmmm.

So, why does it matter? Andrew Sullivan has written an excellent post today exploring this issue far better than I could ever do, stating something I have tried to say for a long time. The supposed 'liberal media elite,' or mainstream media, doesn't do its job. They don't ask the questions they should be asking. They simply report what they are told. They serve as stenographers to power, repeat what they are told, and when given an opportunity to interview someone, are careful to ask softball questions (to use a sports metaphor so beloved of Ms. Palin) in order to not offend and perhaps lose future access.

In his post, Sullivan says that:

"McCain knew full well that Palin was unqualified to be commander-in-chief at this period of time; and he knew there was no way she could ever learn enough to do the job. So his decision to pick her was pure cynicism and irresponsibility. The MSM knew full well that there were very serious questions about this unknown person's background, lies, mental stability, and secrecy - but they were so terrified of being called biased they refused to do the proper vetting. "

He also says that not only McCain and the press are to blame, but the entire GOP for selecting someone everyone knew was not only unqualified for the job, but dangerous to this country. He quotes Richard Cohen who says:

"Naming Palin to the GOP ticket -- a top-down choice by McCain -- was the most reckless decision any national politician has made in the longest time, and while it certainly says something about McCain, it says even more about his party. It has lost its mind."

This post explains why Sarah Palin matters and why it is important to stay on top of the media and demand that they begin to ask the right questions and that we as consumers expect that journalists begin to demand it of them.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Bill O'Reilly Slimes Again. Al Franken Comes Out the Winner

Last week I had the privilege, along with other MoveOn members, of signing this Thank You card to (then) Senator-Elect Al Franken after the Supreme Court of Minnesota ruled unanimously that he had won the election to the Senate of the United States.

Congratulations, Senator Franken!
Good luck in Washington.

We're standing with you as you
fight for health care, clean energy,
and a fair economy.

Bill O'Reilly, like many talk show hosts, returned this week from vacation to the news that not only had Al Franken been determined the winner, but had received a concession call from the loser, Norm Coleman. This call ensured that the process was well & truly over and that Coleman would not pursue his previously stated intention of taking his fight to the United States Supreme Court.

O'Reilly, ever gracious and fair, said of Franken on his show in another slimy excuse to plug his book:

"In a sad day for America, Al Franken is now a U.S. Senator. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled he won the election by about 300 votes. Franken is a blatantly dishonest individual, a far-left zealot who is not qualified to hold any office, a man who trafficked in hate on his failed Air America radio program. If you want proof, check out Page 96 in my book Culture Warrior. With people like Franken on the Hill, this country is in deep trouble."

If you don't understand the history between these 2 men - and believe me, there is definitely history - Fox News took Al Franken to court charging copyright infringement on their copyrighted slogan "Fair and balanced" and his use of a photograph of Bill O'Reilly on the cover of his satirical book, "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

Now, in the words of the judge hearing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin, "Of course, it is ironic that a media company that should be fighting for the First Amendment is trying to undermine it."

But, be that as it may, Fox's attorneys tried bravely to prove that Franken's book cover with it's cover of O'Reilly and it's book title incorporating the words "Fair and Balanced" somehow "blurred the line" and would confuse people and imply that both O'Reilly and Fox were endorsing Franken's book. Right.

Of course, Fox thinks we're all idiots and don't understand satire, or irony. The judge was right on when he asked:

"Do you think that the reasonable consumer, seeing the word `lies' over Mr. O'Reilly's face would believe Mr. O'Reilly is endorsing this book?"

One of the attorneys said that people not associated with Fox networks also appeared on the cover, the cover did not state that the book was a parody or satire (duh) so it was "ambiguous" to which the judge rightly replied:

"The president and the vice president are also on the cover. Is someone going to consider that they are affiliated with Fox?"

Although, this all occurred in 2003 and since then, I think the answer to that question would be completely different, don't you?

In his ruling, the judge said:

"Calling the motion "wholly without merit, both factually and legally," the judge, Denny Chin of United States District Court, said that a person would have to be "completely dense" not to realize the cover was a joke, and that trademark protection for the phrase "Fair and Balanced" was unrealistic because the words are so commonly used."

But I digress.

In any case, In a later case filed against O'Reilly, and the reason why some of us use the word falafel when referencing him, a deposition reports him referring to Fox News, his boss Roger Ailes, and Al Franken in a way that is frankly [no pun intended] hilarious today. [click on photo to enlarge]

So, let's review. Al Franken is dishonest. A far-left zealot. Not qualified. He trafficked in hate. Hmmm. And, " day, he's going to get a knock on the door and life as he's known it will change forever."

Well, let's see. Fox News' lawsuit against Al Franken was literally laughed out of court. Did I mention that the courtroom laughed each time the Fox attorneys attempted to make one of their arguments?

Dishonest. Has Bill O'Reilly ever presented actual evidence? For anything? I didn't think so.

A far-left zealot? Actually, if you go look at any literature about candidate Franken, you'll find that he is actually fairly moderate. Progressive, but not as far left as some might wish. Minnesota isn't going to elect a far-left zealot. Now, if you'd like to see a zealot...

Not qualified? What many might not realize, is that Al Franken holds a degree in Political Science from Harvard. Cum Laude. So he was a comedian and a satirist? Do you know how on top of current affairs you have to be to be a political satirist? And, he worked hard to prepare to run for the Senate. He studied and since the election, has worked as hard to stay informed and in touch as if he were already on the job.

George W. has a Harvard education you say? Can you say legacy admit? Good ole George got into Harvard because of his family. Because that's what rich, Eastern upper-class families do. He maintained a C-average, partied his way through school, was a member of Skull & Bones (a secret, invitation only club whose members make up the the top tiers of power in Washington and Wall Street), and had the family money to buy his way through term papers and exams. No one was going to flunk a legacy admit and the money this potential alum was going to bring in or that his family had already brought in. Franken? He was a regular guy from Minnesota who got into Harvard the hard way. On merit. And had to stay in the hard way. By doing the work. So, not qualified? I don't think so.

Trafficked in hate? Which show has hate as its trademark?

And that knock on the door? Knock, knock, knock. "Mr. Franken? Guess what? The Supreme Court of Minnesota has just ruled that you are the next Senator from the State of Minnesota." Yeah, like that's something to fear.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Douthat Apologist Piece on Palin

Evidence that Palin has supporters still. Her apologists are reaching, but reach they do. In his New York Times piece of July 5, 2009, Ross Douthat claims that it's all about class.

Discussing her reasons for leaving her governorship with less than 2 years left to her term, Ross says that:

"...In a recent Pew Poll, 44 percent of Americans regarded Palin unfavorably. But slightly more had a favorable impression of her. That number included 46 percent of independents, and 48 percent of Americans without a college education."

"That last statistic is a crucial one. Palin’s popularity has as much to do with class as it does with ideology. In this sense, she really is the perfect foil for Barack Obama. Our president represents the meritocratic ideal — that anyone, from any background, can grow up to attend Columbia and Harvard Law School and become a great American success story. But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard..."

Here's that subtle racism again. It isn't about class. Or even gender. Sarah Palin likes to present herself as a 'hockey mom' and her family as blue collar. She's created photo-ops in the past couple of days of herself in waders in a skif at the family set net site 'picking fish' as she perpetuates the image of a hard-working American woman. She even asked Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC how she could be seen as a Diva if she had dirt under her fingernails? But success is about real hard work done daily, weekly, and without quitting.

She expounds on the millions spent by the state of Alaska on fighting the 15 ethics charges that "she won" and the $500,000 she and Todd owe in legal bills fighting those charges. She neglects to mention that the states actual dollar costs are approximately $300,000 as reported today in the Alaska Daily News and the 80% of her and her staff's time she says is spent responding to the ethics charges and media attacks are personal choices she has made in how she apportions her time.

Sarah Palin does not mention that most of the actual dollars spent are for the charges made in the "Troopergate" case which found that she did abuse her office (it was the Personnel Board, appointed by her, who later found in her favor after she filed a request for another [costly] investigation), and the legal bills are mostly also a result of that investigation and the ethics charges and lawsuits still pending. Not mentioned either is the fact that while a settlement is not technically a finding of fault, she did agree to repay the state almost $10,000 in travel expenses for costs incurred by her children accompanying her on state business. The result of an ethics complaint.

Sarah Palin still does not understand that the people of Alaska elected her governor, not her entire family and that she governs by law, not fiat. Just because she says it's so, does not make it so - regardless of how many times we saw George W do it on the tv machine.

Sorry for the tangent, but it was all in aid of saying that she may act low class, but her finances are certainly not. Her home is valued at over $1 million. She just signed a book deal worth between $7 and $11 million. When she is no longer governor, she has no brakes on how much she can earn or what she can do to earn it. No ethics watchdogs looking over shoulder (not that they do so now).

What Douthat is trying to accomplish in his editorial, is to claim that Palin's appeal is to the 'real' American; those without a college education, the blue-collar, hockey mom average American.

Douthat says:

"...Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith..."

But only if you parade them on the national stage, engage your daughter's ex-fiance in the tabloid press, and misunderstand satire and try to use the late-night comedy hour to get your name back on the front page. Most people understand that if someone says something bad about you or yours, the best way to make it worse, is to respond in kind or with something worse. Your religion is mocked only if there is video out there of you having an exorcism performed on yourself to remove the witches. Most of America thinks that's a little odd. When you slam your opponent's pastor, you can't cry foul then if they question some of your faith's odder practices.

"...All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class..."

No, none of this had to do with ordinary partisan politics. It had everything to do with a woman who knew virtually nothing about history, politics, world affairs, or public opinion. It had everything to do with partisan politics that are so distorted that the minority party to which this woman aligns herself has no connection with the people they claim to serve, their sole reason for being is to win seats. Never mind what they do with them, their sole goal is to gain power for the sake of power. This had everything to do with a woman who is incapable of self-reflection and surrounded herself with people too afraid of losing their seat on the gravy train and a possible shot at a White House office to say anything but Yes.

The difference isn't class or gender. Yes, anyone may still grow up to be president, although it grows harder and harder every cycle. Our government becomes more and more a club of millionaires holding office as legacy candidates just as their places at Ivy League colleges were legacy admits. This makes Obama's win more remarkable, but although on the face of it he and Palin have a similar resume, he worked hard. He released his record (including his full medical record). He prepared himself. He not only answered questions completely, he understood the question. Obama understood history, he understood politics, he understood foreign affairs, he understood public opinion, and when he stumbled, he took responsibility and held himself accountable.

Responsibility and accountability. Radical concepts that are unfamiliar to Sarah Palin. She has cast herself as victim, has insulted every sitting governor not running for another term, and cannot understand that quitting to move to something is quite different than quitting to move away from something (her stated reasons).

No, Mr. Douthat, it's not about class at all. E for effort, but try again.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Sarah Palin Attacks 1st Amendment

There are a number of Alaskan bloggers writing about Sarah Palin and a number of non-Alaskans who write about her as well, but she's the topic of the moment and one I've followed since she burst on the national scene.

Many people have questioned my continuing interest in her, particularly after the election, saying "She lost, get over her." Unfortunately, she remains extremely popular, has a large and growing base, a PAC that is well-organized and raises a lot of money and is well-placed to monitor the blogs to attack anyone who works against her, and her Alaska Fund Trust, set up to fund her legal bills, has money pouring in - even after the announcement of her resignation. No one knows what her plans are, although everyone agrees that her stated reasons for resigning come nowhere near the real reasons for leaving office.

The word-salad of her resignation speech, given at her home in the presence - oddly enough - of husband Todd and daughter Piper, but not daughters Willow or Bristol, or son Trigg or grandson Tripp - verged on the incoherent and was clearly written by Sarah herself. Despite her statement that this had "been in the works for months," Todd had reportedly had to leave his fishing boat unexpectedly to attend this press conference and Sarah's father stated that he had no idea this was going to happen. Definitely odd not to mention something so major to your immediate family if it's been "in the works" for months.

The transcript of the speech, posted on the official website, contains weird capitalizations, disconnected and rambling streams of consciousness, and obvious notes to self, as well as numerous exclamation points as if to remind herself of what was important.

Oddest and most remarkable to me? The point that has kept me following Sarah Palin throughout? Her incredible ignorance of the concept of truth. And, her complete ignorance of the Constitution. She loves to wave the flag, to be photographed wrapped in it or waving it, and she loves to cite the Constitution, but has no conception of what it actually is or what it means.

Every speech references it, every speech references the troops, Alaska, her family, and whatever else she thinks is necessary to score political points and make herself look good. She poses for photographs in Runners World not realizing how inappropriate they are for a woman in her position, not realizing how offended people will be at the use she puts the flag to in those photographs, but instead is concerned only with how well she appears physically and how many votes she might gain - never mind how many she might lose.

After her speech, rumors that have been swirling for months got louder. Bloggers that have been discussing many issues, including some that Sarah discussed in her speech, got calls from mainstream media and requests for interviews and Shannyn Moore, a radio talk show host, blogger, and regular Huffington Post contributor, appeared (as she does on a regular basis) on MSNBC to discuss the whole situation with David Schuster. In a post Shannyn described threats of legal action for reporting on some of these rumors in her blog and discussing them on MSNBC.

In her resignation speech, Sarah Palin reference the Constitution twice. She said, "We’re protectors of our Constitution – federalists protect states’ rights as mandated in 10th amendment." And later, "We need those who will respect our Constitution ..." referring to bottom-up government rather than top-down government but combing it with some mixed metaphor of calling an audible and passing the ball. Weird.

But the true irony? Let's take a couple of sections of Sarah's speech and look at them.

"...the State has wasted thousands of hours of your time and shelled out some two million of your dollars to respond to “opposition research” – that’s money not going to fund teachers or troopers – or safer roads. And this political absurdity, the “politics of personal destruction” …"
In a press release dated May 21, 2009, the Governor's Office announced signing the operating budget for fiscal year 2010 at $8.7 billion. Two million is barely a ripple in that, not to mention that there is an ethics committee whose sole function is to deal with ethics complaints. And, if Sarah had a better understanding of the truth, ethics law, and Freedom of Information Act rules, there would be likely little need for citizens to file ethics complaints to find out information she should be providing to them as a matter of routine.

"I've never believed that I, nor anyone else, needs a title to do this - to make a difference... to help people. So I choose, for my State and my family, more "freedom" to progress, all the way around... so that Alaska may progress... I will not seek re-election as Governor."
No, probably not, but people seek higher office because it has been demonstrated, over and over again, that the higher the office you hold, the more you are able to accomplish.

"And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old “politics as usual.” I promised that four years ago – and I meant it."
And because I'm a maverick, and go my own way, the only way to prevent Alaska from having a "lame duck" governor who "milks it" is to quit. How stupid can she be? Can you say circular thinking? I'm governor. I'm only going to have one term, therefore the moment I decide that - even if it's the day after I'm sworn in - I have to quit. Dumb. What if she decides to run for re-election? And loses? Does she quit the day after the election? Or what if she wins? Does she still quit the next day? After all, she won and immediately becomes a lame duck, because after all, she can't run again.

This woman does not know how to think beyond the end of her nose. How on earth did she get a college degree from an actual college? Her family isn't rich so they couldn't buy her one. They didn't have on-line degrees to buy back then. Really puzzling.

"My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas, those who sacrifice themselves in war for our freedom and security… we can ALL learn from our selfless Troops… they’re bold, they don’t give up, they take a stand and know that life is short so they choose to not waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than self... and to build up their families, their states, our country. These Troops and their important missions – those are truly the worthy causes in this world and should be the public priority with time and resources and not this local / superficial wasteful political bloodsport.

May we all learn from them!" [emphasis added]
This is a kicker. Her decision was fortified by visiting the troops because they don't give up so she comes home and quits! Yeah. That makes sense.

Then, after Shannon appears on MSNBC Sarah tweets on her Twitter account the next day a link to a letter written by her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, which, by the way, states on page 3 that "this is to provide notice to Ms. Moore..." and also references the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post as they reported on the story, that they have defamed Sarah Palin and this is actionable. Pretty big, fancy words, don't you think?

What is even more interesting, is that this letter was not sent to Shannyn Moore. It was forwarded to her. It was actually emailed by Meghan Stapleton, head of SarahPac, to her entire email media list. hmmmm. I guess Sarah really did need a way to knock Jacko off the front page after all.

But as a true fan of the Constitution and especially the 1st Amendment, I love the fact that some attorneys will do anything for money. Including writing letters for clients that include threatening lawsuits that they know will never be filed, or if filed, laughed out of court. What's in it for Mr. Van Flein? National media attention of course. I'm sure Mr. Van Flein has GOP stars in his eyes. Or maybe FOX News legal analyst stars in his eyes - after all, how did Greta Van Susteran get started? Remember OJ?

Of course, good attorneys will actually give you good advise. They'll tell you when something you want to do is a really bad idea. But, Sarah Palin has probably had reasonably good luck in Wasilla sending out threatening letters to people who probably don't make very much money and depend on someone in her circle of friends for their job, so her threats have probably worked very well in the past. Maybe as governor, with all her high school buddies as department heads and cabinet members, they've worked pretty well, too. The only problem for Sarah Palin, is that it just won't work anymore and it certainly won't work in the rest of the country.

Sarah is a government official, still. It is totally inappropriate as a government official, especially as a governor (heaven forbid she ever made it to VP or President) to attack your constituents. Their complaints are part of the job. People aren't going to like you. They aren't going to like everything you do. They're going to disagree. They're going to write letters to the editor, and blog. The other party is going to campaign against you and opinion writers are going to write editorials opposing you and your policies.

Tabloids are going to be out looking for dirt, and sleazy journalists are going to make stuff up - sort of like, oh, "hanging out with terrorists" kind of stuff, or, "not really an American" or "secretly a Muslim or a Fascist" kind of thing that is kind of inflammatory. Or, like your buddy Joe the Plumber said 2 weeks ago referring to Senator Dodd, "How come nobody has strung him up yet?" He actually said that 3 times in one speech, and funnily enough, nobody said a word against him. I sort of thought it sounded like inciting violence - or even assassination - against a government official - but then, that's just me. Sometimes speech is a crime - inciting violence, shouting "Fire" in a movie theater - but frequently, it's only enforced against certain people.

Sarah Palin wants her free speech rights enforced and people like Shannyn Moore sued to protect her rights, not understanding that freedom of speech is designed to protect journalists (Shannon, the New York Times, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, et al), from government (Sarah Palin), not the other way around. You can't defame (or libel) a public figure unless you what you are saying is false (Shannyon was reporting rumors). By the way, has anyone watched Glenn Beck? Bill O'Reilly? Sean Hannity? Any of Sarah Palin's campaign speeches? Want to try that libel part again?

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Top 10 Reasons Sarah Palin Quit

I love lists. This is from David Weinberger, Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center.

  1. Put on red campaign suit, had an unstoppable urge to call a press conference, and, well, had to announce something.

  2. Part of careful plan to capture the White House by convincing Americans she's the leading incoherent, out-of-control Republican.

  3. She can see crazy from her backyard.

  4. That'll show the world McCain made a great choice in picking her! Yeah!

  5. Only way to exorcise those awful chain-rattling Ghosts of Machine-Gunned Moose Past.

  6. Bridge to Nowhere, meet Leaper.

  7. Michael Jackson so needed to be knocked out of first place on Twitter.

  8. You don't understand? You'll have to wait for Mark Sanford's next press conference.

  9. Face it: Alaska's a dump. [Hey, these are her reasons, not mine!]

  10. Desperate bid to be mocked by Tina Fey one last time.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pop Singer Arrested as Political Prisoner in Iran

One of the political prisoners currently held in Iran after the recent protests. Hossein Zaman, an Iranian pop singer who was previously a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and has received little attention as a singer outside of Iran. This video is from 2007 and is called "Parandeh" which means "bird" in Farsi. Zaman is evidently identified as a long-term reformer within Iran and thus a target for arrest after the recent demonstrations.

Thanks for stopping by. Sorry for the long absences. Life seems to have a habit of happening a lot lately. Come back again soon.