We all created Sarah Palin

sarahpalin1210

In August, 2008, John McCain was looking for a quick fix to turn his campaign around. He saw Barack Obama was black, Hilary Clinton was a woman and a woman almost beat the black man to the brass ring. But, in his assessment, Hilary was too much of a man to be a woman candidate, which is why she lost.

“If I can install a woman that was a woman, then I can scoop up the female vote, get the conservative males to vote for her… I mean me, and whoosh, right into the White House.”

The plan didn’t work for a lot of reasons, but not because that reasoning was flawed. It was the objective, superficial observation of a reality that is fast becoming what America is. John McCain hit it dead on, only he was probably four years too early.

Smart and thoughtful is out; quick and single-focused is in. Newspapers with their page after page of boring news are out; Twitter with its fast-paced, unconfirmed news bytes is in. And when you need sales, dip into quick, cheap stereotypes to sell stuff, like JC Penney and their Beware of the Dog House Web site. Because it looks like gender stereotypes are back on their way in again.

There’s a reason Mad Men is so popular. We’re seeing an increase of hot, young “conservative” women who espouse traditional-gender value roles, a large pool of emasculated momma’s boys who fantasize about living the playboy life of Don Draper and an even larger pool of older white Americans who see their country’s history rapidly fading away. The election of a black president was all the proof they needed to see a country driving itself over a cliff.

And along comes a plain-speakin’ women who looks hot in red, has five kids, a powerful job but doesn’t think or read too deeply. She’s just the right mix of hot and stupid for men to swoon and the right mix of mom and powerful executive for women to admire.

She engages us by using Facebook and Twitter (even though she slammed bloggers a mere year ago), she “wrote” a book and gets her op-eds published in the Washington Post.

Sarah Palin may be what Americans want in 2012; a quick, easy fix for what ails us. Not too strong, not too deep, nothing that makes us think a whole lot or work too hard. With that, I have every confidence Sarah Palin will deliver.

Palin 2012. When stuff just gets too complicated.

Never confuse ‘clear thought’ with crap

Last Saturday, Mark Lilla, a professor of humanities at Columbia University, wrote an article in the WSJ titled The Perils of ‘Populist Chic’, What the rise of Sarah Palin and populism means for the conservative intellectual tradition. It was well-thought out and objectively argued. In short, it explains why presidential candidates need to go bowling and drinking beer, why smart girls get teased in math class and why nobody like a know-it-all. Kinda.

Anyway, I tell you this so that you are intriqued enough to read the article and draw your own conclusions, but also to introduce Mr. Peter Noel Murray, Ph.D who wrote a letter to the editor, saying, among other things:

Prof. Lilla proves that highly educated minds can be small and prejudiced when he describes Gov. Sarah Palin as “ignorant” and “provincial.” What this Columbia professor really means is that she isn’t Ivy League educated and isn’t from New York City.

Well, I’m just a mutt that grew up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul and graduated with a BA in English from the public university, the University of Minnesota and even I think Sarah Palin is ignorant and provincial. Moreover, I think she is rather stupid in that she does not show a capacity to learn as evidenced by her more recent interviews (still reading the keywords off the notecards!) Furthermore, she exhibits distain for others around her and appears incapable of empathy. 

But mostly, she is stupid. No, really she is.

The president should be really smart, almost geeky smart. The fact that we have a smart president-elect who is also a great orator and empath is a giant plus. Let’s stop “mocking him” through sneers, jokes and sarcastic asides. After all, he did what Sarah Palin and John McCain could not.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

No party for old men

It is sad what the Democrats are doing to Joe Lieberman. The only “sin” Sen. Lieberman committed was having opinions that did not quite align themselves with the new leadership. 

I looked up the Senator Oath of Office. It reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

There is no mention of party loyalty, no mention of suspending personal beliefs and opinions when taking the oath, no mention of “with us or against us.”  To paraphrase from several Obama speeches, there is no Democratic Senate or Republican Senate, there is the Senate of the United States of America.

I want my senators to think for themselves. I want my senators to take risks. I want my senators to have the freedom to have liberal opinions on social reform, but conservative views on national defense. I want a healthy, authentic discussion of ideas in the US Senate. That was the mandate we gave Barack Obama, not a mandate to further divide the country with the “victor” handing out spoils of war. 

Joe Lieberman knew the risks he was taking, but I think at some level — perhaps naively, perhaps with more hope than was pragmatic — that this election cycle held two candidates, each had the ability, political capital and personal stones to rise above partisan government and lead a country. That he chose to back John McCain who eventually did not prevail is incidental to the academic argument.

President-elect Obama needs to show strong leadership with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He need to put a face of cooperation, but firm leadership, on the “New Democratic Party.” All three are at a crossroads at this very moment, with Joe Lieberman being the turtle in the road.

If you have not yet read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, read it now. Focus on the turtle. The question remains; will the Democratic Party be the truck driver that swerves to try to hit the turtle for sport or Tom Joad who shelters the turtle in his jacket. (Spoiler: the turtle prevails, despite setbacks…)

These are the tests that determine the character of a man. I hope Obama passes.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

Brought to you by some upstanding, God-fearing Christians

Put up before Halloween and remains in the front of the house.
Put up before Halloween and remains in the front of the house.
The family down the street flies the flag every day, even puts a light on it at night and takes it in during the rain. At Christmas time, they decorate their house with a large Nativity star, a manger set and a large sign that reads “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

It makes me sad that they chose to put up a ghost in a sheet, with a large sign that reads “BOObama” to show their displeasure with Barack Obama. While their intent might have been merely to illustrate the “scariness” of Mr. Obama’s political policies, the ghost is just a tad more than racist. I will think better of them and choose to believe that they might just be merely ignorant of this nations’ cultural history.

Showing support for your candidate is always ok. Tearing down the other candidate just doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.

105 feet… so close, yet…

The letter of the law, but not the spirit.
The letter of the law, but not the spirit.

This was outside my polling place in Ohio. Notice that the McCain/Palin sign is as close as the law allows. Clearly, the letter of the law is being invoked, but not the spirit. I’m pretty certain that an over-eager supporter put this there, but this really is not helping put your candidate in the best light.

Joe Mamma?

First, just watch the video. All the way to the end.

I know Alaska is part of these United States, but how ignorant of racism is Sarah Palin? It is almost as surreal to watch as John McCain singing “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” to a Beach Boys tune! Before she can lead America, she needs to understand that Real America is made up of many different cultures. And what works as a long-standing line to a “knock-knock type” joke by African Americans is used as a slam by whites to demonstrate how ignorant and inarticulate Blacks are.

For those of us who perhaps did not grow up in the ’60s-’70s when Black culture was taking hold, the joke goes something like this:

“Hey man, Joe was looking for you.”
“Joe who?”
“Joe mama!”

Or alternatively,
Hey man, I was getting it on with Joe last night”
“Yeah? Joe who?”
“Joe mama!”

The sign was not cute, adorable or in any way clever. It was racist. By not really knowing that, Sarah Palin has once again demonstrated her inability to learn and lead.

A conundrum of massive proportion

My paper shredder just crapped out on me. In this economy, I can’t afford to buy a new one. But, in this economy, I can’t afford to have my identity stolen either.

Barack and John, these are the kinds of things that we “Joe the Dog” living on “Main Street” have to worry about. And while we are talking paper shredding, please quit mailing me stuff. I got the Internet, I know what your positions are on issues. I got it, I got it.

But, if you could swing a paper shredder, send it on over. You already know my address and since I live in Ohio, a paper shredder for me means a vote for you!

Do they talk american?

Here’s a tip when running for President of the United States of America: Pay attention in English class.

From an email on October 18, 2008 from the McCain/Palin camp, they write:

Help John McCain and Sarah Palin win in November!

With less than 18 days until Election Day our volunteer activities are in full swing. With your help here in Ohio John McCain and Sarah Palin will win on November 4th. To sign up for volunteer shifts at your local campaign office please click here!

What they meant to write was: “With fewer than 18 days until Election Day…” in addition to the comma after the dependent clause.. (…Election Day, for those who need a nudge.)

Guess The Elements of Style is one more thing Palin doesn’t read. These are the people we want in charge of reforming education in America? Perhaps what is really needed is just a federal mandate to lower the bar for everyone. Then, we can all look smart.

The problem of typos in the McCain camp is systemic. Take a look at his education issue page (just the last paragraph will do ya!) Is the world moving too fast that they can’t take a few extra seconds to proof their published material? Or, are they really that ignorant? Perhaps Peggy Noonan is right.

Stay in school, kids. Or, maybe just drop out now and get your name on a ballot somewhere. You’re probably already qualified!

The $5,000 health insurance question

I am a self-employed dog who buys his own health insurance. I’ve been listening to all these pundits and political candidates talking about government “getting out of the way” so individuals can buy their own health insurance. “Let the free market do it’s thing” is the cry from most of them.

I have come to the very firm conclusion that those who advocate most strongly for individuals buying their own plan have never actually had to buy health insurance for themselves or their family. If they had, they would be too aghast and shocked to get any punditry out.

Here are the “facts” of getting your own health insurance:

Free Market Economy
If there is a big pot of money out there to get for the asking, health insurance companies will belly up to the bar and stick their snouts in it. If every American family was given $5,000 to buy their own health insurance, that same insurance will now be $5,000 more expensive to get. They really don’t want to sell individual plans because there is no economy of scale. Individuals call the insurance office whereas employer-based plans get calls get pushed to the company HR department.

Your BMI will never be good enough
Neither will your lifestyle, health history or FICO Score. In Ohio, if you have driven or ridden on a 2-wheel motorized vehicle in the past 24 months or have a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license, your premiums are automatically adjusted 20% higher. Left to its own devices, health insurance companies will only insure healthy, low-risk people who can afford to pay the premiums. Insurance companies are pro-profit organizations whose only goal is to collect more in premiums than they pay out in claims.

What you NEED insurance for, they won’t cover
Really, don’t get cancer or a heart-attack. Don’t have a genetic disease or any respiratory condition. All of these will be excluded from coverage. You can’t even buy coverage for a pre-existing condition; nobody will sell it to you for any price.

Your rates will go up regardless of activity
Year to year, your rates will go up about 12%-30% each year if you don’t use the plan; more if you do. You are forced to shop deals every year like cell phone plans. Every company will entice new buyers (well, the healthy ones) into a policy while jacking up the rates on their existing customers. I don’t know why they do this as it makes more sense that costs would be lower to care for customers you have than to find and convince customers you don’t.

So, McCain and Palin, the $5,000 for Americans to buy their own insurance is just crap and campaign talk. Just for grins, I went out to a few places and priced out Palin’s family, not mentioning the minor-aged pregnancy and the Down’s syndrome child. For a PPO plan with a $2,500 deductible and 20% co-pay plans were at $800-$1,106 a month, depending on whether you wanted a Blue Cross class or a no-name brand. That is $9,600-$13,272 a year NOT including the doctor visit costs or the deductible of $2,500 you will pay before benefits kick in. Forget about the no-deductible plans; they just don’t have them.

$5,000 isn’t so much money any more. In fact, it is almost nothing when buying health insurance.

Helping Americans with health insurance costs is not the answer. Helping Americans get health care that they need is. The difference is not inconsequential. When the Federal Government makes assistance money available to help pay for things like drugs, education and health care, the only thing that happens is the cost of these things goes up.

We should all understand that public health, education and welfare affects us all. When individuals are increasingly delaying medical care because they can’t afford to go to the doctor, eventually we all pay in higher public health costs. The same goes for education, but that is an entirely different post.

When we agree that what affects me affects you, we will start moving forward together as a healthy nation with a strong infrastructure. The richest country in the world should not have its citizens wondering how close to bankruptcy a heart attack or accident will bring them.

Plain talk Palin email

Well, not really plain talk, but we’ll translate.

I received this email from Sarah Palin…. well, not from her personally, but from the Palin-McCain Campaign. I’ve attached it as a PDF file for you to read, but here are some highlights.

1. She encourages me to vote TODAY because you can vote early in Ohio. I read this to be:

Vote for me BEFORE you see my performance in the debates tonight. You can’t change your mind after you vote.

2. Does the GOP now support unions:

As the mother of five and the wife of a proud union member, I understand what it takes in these difficult economic times…

3. Oh, wait, in the next paragraph, she says:

By promoting small businesses, keeping taxes low and fighting for good jobs for all Americans, we will work each and every day to improve our economy

Ok, but do small businesses now have to hire only union labor which drives their labor costs up? Do we get tax credits for hiring union members? I’m really, really confused.

4. New voters? Oh my God, what is that all about?

Barack Obama’s campaign has already proven they will stop at nothing to win this election, and they’re already flooding the polls with new voters…

Maybe only wrinkled up old people should be allowed to vote??

Tonight is going to be interesting!

Put the smart guys in charge, please

Susan Suess Kennedy wrote an article recently for the Huffington Post examining why Americans have such a disdain for smart people. A popular terms among the non-intellectuals and shallow thinkers is “elistism.” The undereducated white guys chant this, along with “drill baby, drill” (which I don’t really get as a mantra, but ok..) Here’s the puppy take on all this.

Way back in the good ol’ days of air travel (pre-1996 or thereabouts) getting on a plane was something that you did because you had really important business. You knew the rules (or got to know the rules quickly) ticket prices were high, but so was the expectation of flyer sophistication and service from the airlines.

At some point, the airlines thought it was a good idea to let anyone fly. They deserved to fly to see grandma, visit the new baby, etc. Ticket prices plummeted and the airports were suddenly overrun by people who really didn’t have a clue where they were going, what they were doing and had expectations of service that was far in excess of the price they paid for their ticket. The airline employees suddenly felt like a “babysitter” when they were hired as a trained air traffic professional. Things got surly and the service and profits plummeted straight to the bottom. In addition, the airlines and airports were so overrun with volume that it was easy for nineteen people to slip into planes on 9/11.

The same thing happened with the housing market. Days were the only people who were allowed to buy a home were those who could actually afford it. They saved their money, they worked hard and smart and they had at least 5%-10% down on a home. They bought a home that might have been a little lived-in, was probably too small and in an area that was not exactly their first choice. And buying that first home was tough as bankers made you sweat the details of employment history, credit history and cash. The money was real and it was hard-earned.

Then, along came a generation of people who deserved to be in a home, regardless of their credit history or income. The question was not whether or not it made sense to buy a home; the question was how do we bend the rules to get you in a home. And so we put a lot of people in houses that they did not work for, they couldn’t afford to buy and more importantly, couldn’t afford to maintain. In addition, we sent a message to all the home owners who did work hard for their homes that their work was just not that valuable. And now, as these $0-down, sub-prime folks are abandoning their homes in record numbers, they are kicking more dirt into the faces of the hard-working folks in the form of lower home values, higher property taxes and an economy in shambles.

The same thing happened with a college education. A time was only the really smart people who tested high on the ACT or SAT, had a solid GPA and could write a coherent paper got accepted into college. Paying for it was another matter, but if you were really smart, you either found a way or were given a way.

Now, colleges are more interested in being in the food service and housing businesses than the business of education. Most colleges will take any student who applies, but require they stay in student housing for their freshman and sophomore years. Their cafeterias are now stocked with branded food items from Chik Fil A, Burger King, KFC, etc. in addition to gourmet lunches and dinners. The dorms are lavish apartments starting at $3,000+ a semester, per student, sleeping four per unit. And every student there believes they deserve a college degree, regardless of how hard they work or the quality of their work.

And we get to the US Elections. On the one side, we have someone who is really smart and is a deep thinker. On the other side, we have a candidate who shoots from the hip, deserves to be President because he served his country for decades and it is “his turn.” Moreover, he has paired up with an “average hockey mom” and journalism major who doesn’t read newspapers, speaks plainly but incoherently and identifies well with the Bubba vote who is able to fly to Vegas for less than $100, lives in a house he can’t really afford, went to a college where he majored in drinking and works at a job for a company that really doesn’t produce anything of value. But, by God, she deserves to be VP!

Despite her dreadful interview performances with Charlie Rose and Katie Couric, Palin could win the debates tomorrow because she appeals to a growing audience that has become dumber and dumber, but more deserving. We have abdicated our need to know facts for sound bytes and slogans to chant. “Drill, baby, drill!”, “U-S-A, U-S-A” and statements like “We are all Georgians”, “Make the Wall Street fat-cats pay” and the oft-used “Main Street vs Wall Street.” We don’t know what these mean, we don’t really examine why they have meaning or even if they do, but they have a nice cadence and chanting them in a large crowd makes us feel a part of something.

We need smart people to start leading this country. We need to quit giving the masses what they want because they feel they “deserve” it. We don’t really have to look very far to see what happens to industries that succumb to the pressures of market expansion at any cost. Eventually, the industry dives to the bottom and crashes. Air travel, housing, education, credit cards, and soon to be the executive branch of the United States.

The office of President and Vice-president of the United States of America should be the hardest job to get in this country. The people who eventually get elected to fill these top jobs should be the best and the brightest, not the ones who can drink beer best with us or who can shoot a moose the best. We need to advance the country forward, technologically, politically, ethically and societally for the next generation of the best and the brightest, not drive the standards down to allow more people to participate. To borrow a phrase from TheLadders.com, if everybody plays, nobody wins.

It’s time to make being smart a thing of value again. We don’t need presidential and vice-presidential candidates mocking community participation, academic accomplishment, reasoned arguments and hard work as elitism. We need leaders who appreciate the value of human smarts and recognize that there is more power in a pen than a sword. Human smarts is the ultimate infrastructure of any society. When that is damaged and devalued, the society will eventually crumble, united or not.

After-post: If you have a chance and have read this far, perhaps you will read one more article by Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writer’s Group.

And this says more of the same, but a far better post than mine. Thank you, Deanie Mills.

Stop the madness, Palin

When you fall off the moose, the best thing to do it get right back on? NO!!! You lie there and play dead. Please, Palin, play dead….

Pizza, cheesesteak.. what’s the difference in Philadelphia. Gotcha, voters! Hollering a question across an area? He was right there in front of her, bending into her ear.

You can reach more people with a blog than a bullhorn

Last night, I met Kealan on http://election.twitter.com. We have not spoken, I know nothing about her, but she said something during the debates that I thought was interesting and I wanted to be a part of the next really sage thing she says, whenever that is. So, I’m following her on Twitter.

I saw she tweeted again this morning. Nothing of consequence to me, but what the heck, maybe her blog had something on it. Sure enough, it was a post-debate post titled 3 miles in the snow, uphill both ways. That got my attention right away because, while I knew it was going to be a GenY rant against old people, the title was so clever that I knew the rest of the post was going to be good. It was.

GenY may not be out in the street protesting the rapid decline of this country, but they are online with a vengeance. And, apparently, they do care and they get it. They understand that respect is the root of peace, that you can reach more people quicker and deeper with a Twitter account and a blog than you can with a bullhorn and a flag and that party and company affiliation doesn’t matter as much as not being obtuse and condescending.

And, not only are they watching as things are going on, but they are recording it, playing it back, digesting it and analyzing it. They are predicting the death of spin and revisionist history.

And yeah, mom and dad, they have been listening to you. If not, how would they know to use a phrase like “3 miles in the snow, uphill both ways” in the correct context?

I just can’t wait to see what Phil DeFranco is going to video about the debates. Please hurry, Phil. We dogs need our fix.