vendredi 31 octobre 2008

And the winner is....


Colten Obama, hands down!


I know this prospect scares many people, so what could be better than a Brock O'Bama Halloween mask?
Trick or treat?

Here is a breakdown compiled by amazon of the number of McCain masks sold versus the number of Obama masks: Supporters of either candidate can buy rubber masks of each to wear for Halloween. So far, 57 percent of the masks Amazon has sold have been Obama masks, versus 43 percent for McCain masks.

Here's how good masks have been historically at predicting winners:



For some of you - not many I hope - that might be kind of scary. BOO!!!!!

Harry's Bar (address: sank roo dan oo) in Paris always does a straw poll. The poll has been conducted for every election since 1924, except during World War II, and has been wrong only twice--when Jimmy Carter got elected in 1976 (over Gerald Ford) and in 2004, when George W. Bush was re-elected. In the voting this year, limited to Americans who present their passports, Obama led McCain 187 to 137, as of Oct. 29.
I was there in 2004, when we at Harry's bar chose Kerry over Bush. Bush's victory literally stunned the French. And being French, this sense of shock was followed by a Gallic shrug that meant "whatever." I got the feeling then that the French had finally given up on trying to understand America and Americans. Indeed, all of Europe pretty much turned away from us in shame. Wrote us off.

Let's hope we give them something to give a "thumbs up" about this time. Samuel Legitimus, a French stage director, said that by electing Obama, "maybe the U.S. can show the world how to really live as a multiethnic country." That's the reality, folks. We live in a global world. And whether you like it or not, that means we're all in this together and we're all mixed up and blended. We need to figure out how to live together. Hate, fear and greed are not going to get us there. The only way to blow us all apart again is to blow up the world. Who wants that? Not COLTEN OBAMA!

The Ghost of Ebenezer McScrooge


That's McScrooge alright!

I must say, I'm proud of my twin sister Cathy. In the Republican state of Texas, the state that is responsible for the rise of George Bush, she caucused for Obama and is voting for Obama. It looks like she is the only one in her beautiful house on Lake Austin who will be doing so, and perhaps the only one on her street of Dell millionaires. Go Cathy! Yesterday I sent her Francis Fukuyama's excellent endorsement of Obama, which I will post here. He is an incredibly brilliant political theorist who studied under Allan Bloom, has written some excellent books (including The End of History and Trust), and is credited with being one of the thinkers behind the post-modern neo-con movement. And he's voting for Obama, for simple but compelling reasons. I asked Cathy to send his endorsement to her husband Bob, who responded by sending her a scare and greed piece about how Democrats are responsible for the HUGE cost of basic social security, which threatens to eat us alive. Be afraid!
So I sent her this in reply. I call it Today's Heartfelt Rant:

Dear Cathy,
47 million Americans (including a lot of children) have no health care. That is a disgrace in a nation as wealthy as ours. If the French can provide universal health care, then so can we. John McCain wants to "privatize" all of America, and as part of that plan give everyone 5,000 dollars for healthcare that will cost them at least 12,000 dollars a year. How is our sister Carolyn going to come up with the extra 7,000 dollars needed to pay for health insurance? I'll tell you the answer: she's not. She won't be able to. And don't tell her to work harder. She works her butt off.

Social Security spending is the least of our country's worries. You know how much the war in Iraq costs our country every month? Well, it's way more than 2 billion dollars. A month! In fact, it is costing 10 billion dollars and month and there is no end in sight (see information clearinghouse: http://tinyurl.com/3c7fg3). The war was supposed to last a few weeks, remember? That was five and a half years ago! Donald Rumsfeld is gone but not that monthly bill and the mounting body count. And we the taxpayers just had to pay 700 billion dollars to bail out Wall Street, in part because of the disastrous economic policies of the Bush years. That would have paid for a lot of health care. Bush. Don't get me started. He came into office with a budget surplus and is leaving our economy in a shambles. He reminds me of a spoiled frat boy who trashes a place and, as he's leaving, says "Just use the deposit. If that's not enough, call my banker. He'll pay for the repairs."

I personally make enough money to pay my bills and have no problem accepting that my ability to be a big earner is partly due to where I started in life, which was much better off than many people. I have worked hard, sure, but it is not just hard work that got me where I am today.

If people don't want to share their toys or help to pay for the things that benefit all of society or should benefit all of society -- such as roads and other infrastructure, education, basic health care, basic retirement entitlements -- then I don't want to hear them complaining about potholes, higher insurance premiums (because those who can't afford healthcare go to emergency rooms for treatment and that costs all of us in one way or another), lousy public schools and criminality. You get what you pay for, and some of us are in a position to pay a little more. I am proud to be in that position. Most people who are not as well off as I am would love to be in that position.

That's the way I see things.

Love,
Peggy

P.S. I'm not directing this at you, of course. I think it is time for people to understand that the only way a Republican can get elected this time around is to lie, scare people and appeal to their most selfish instincts.

Speaking of scary shit, watch this: http://tinyurl.com/6j99hy

lundi 27 octobre 2008

Sarah Palin, last seen hitching a ride back home



















The Anchorage Daily news endorsement of.... Obama!
"The unqualified endorsement of Sen. Obama by a seasoned, respected soldier and diplomat like Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican icon, should reassure all Americans that the Democratic candidate will pass muster as commander in chief.

On a matter of parochial interest, Sen. Obama opposes the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but so does Sen. McCain. We think both are wrong, and hope a President Obama can be convinced to support environmentally responsible development of that resource.

Gov. Palin has shown the country why she has been so successful in her young political career. Passionate, charismatic and indefatigable, she draws huge crowds and sows excitement in her wake. She has made it clear she's a force to be reckoned with, and you can be sure politicians and political professionals across the country have taken note. Her future, in Alaska and on the national stage, seems certain to be played out in the limelight.

Yet despite her formidable gifts, few who have worked closely with the governor would argue she is truly ready to assume command of the most important, powerful nation on earth. To step in and juggle the demands of an economic meltdown, two deadly wars and a deteriorating climate crisis would stretch the governor beyond her range. Like picking Sen. McCain for president, putting her one 72-year-old heartbeat from the leadership of the free world is just too risky at this time."

As a parting gift for Sarah, a complementary transition wardrobe item. Remember, the $150,000 worth of designer clothing goes to charity.

vendredi 24 octobre 2008

Next to endorse Obama: The Terminator?


Arnold is definitely looking to the left here...

Seeing the New York Times endorse Obama, which it did yesterday (read the excellent article here: http://tinyurl.com/59shwz) is not much of a surprise. The Times tends to be left of center (indeed, it is widely regarded by the lunatic fringe on the right to be the spiritual and historical root of all liberal media evil), and even some of its more conservative opinion columnists (David Brooks) have been more pro-Obama than their past politics might suggest.

But recent Obama endorsements are really telling. Christopher Buckley, a wonderful humorist and political writer who is the son of William F. Buckley, founder of the National Review and one of the greatest and most entertaining conservative intellectuals of the 20th century, wrote a funny and intelligent endorsement of Obama on the dailybeast.com, and then offered to resign from the NR - a resignation that was swiftly accepted, as he wryly noted. Then came Ken Adelman, followed by Colin Powell and former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

It is also noteworthy that Barry Goldwater's own granddaughter came out in support of Obama, although her uncle quickly set the record straight: not all Goldwaters are voting for Obama (you can read both on huffingtonpost.com). I guess the Goldwaters are in for a lively Thanksgiving dinner! The WSJ reports that Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke also favors an Obama victory on November 4.

Moving beyond the United States, we see that if the rest of the world had its way, McCain would get about 25% of the vote, tops: http://tinyurl.com/4xtxua
And if he were running in France, he'd get no more than 5%.

Any day now, exepct to hear that McCain's own chief campaign strategist is urging people to vote Obama. Wouldn't that be a hoot? You betcha!

And how's this for a story of noisy desperation? Ashley Todd, a McCain staffer in Pennsylvania, cut the letter "B" into her own cheek (ouch!), gave herself a black eye (double ouch!!), and then, adding insult to (self) injury, tried to pass off this act of self-mutilation as the work of a black mugger. Apparently he was an Obama supporter who initially intended only to walk away with the 60 dollars in cash he had taken from her, but who then beat her up and carved a B on her face when he saw the McCain/Palin sticker on her car. The fact that she refused medical treatment and that the attack (near an ATM machine) allegedly took place out of security camera range aroused suspicion, but what really sealed her fate was that the "B" carved into her face was backwards -- as if it had been done while looking into a mirror. Oops! You can read all about it on my friend Steve Huff's true crime report, as the story breaks (http://truecrimereport.com).

jeudi 23 octobre 2008

It ain't a beauty contest



France's Ségolène Royal: She lost to Sarkozy, but nobody ever wondered if she was up to the job of President.

First of all, let me say that I don’t give a hoot about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, hair-do or make-up, but I would like to know how much she’s spending on those French manicures. Just kidding! But did you know that what we call a French manicure is called a California Manicure in France? I guess nobody wants to claim ownership of those hideous-looking things. What does that tell you?

I find all this discussion of Sarah Palin’s "hotness" rather funny, frankly. Is it really surprising that the Republican Party would never accept a female candidate for high office unless she passed the Rush Limbaugh–John McCain "hotness" test? Nobody cares about her qualifications; they just decided a gal was needed to run as Head Stewardess to McCain's Captain in the Cockpit. She just needed to be hot in the quintessentially American way: Big hair, big make-up, big shoes, big French nails. Not to mention big white Chiclets for teeth and a perma-tan.

Somehow, I am sure the French are not drooling over our newest Poupée Barbie. And she would never have made it out of the starting gate in French politics. Like it or not, the French system actually prepares its politicians for fitness to perform in public life and determine public policy. Most of its politicians and top-level civil servants have been groomed at the elite Ecole Normale d’Administration (maybe I’ll write a post about this some day). In other words, regardless of their political views, they receive a solid grounding in government, history, diplomacy and all sorts of vital things like that. The contrast with Palin, who asked in late July what the Vice President actually did and doesn't seem to have understood the answer, could not be more total. However, she apparently can see Russia from her indoor home tanning salon.


Ségolène Royal was the first woman to make it past the first round in a French presidential election – there are two rounds, and the first one includes candidates who run the gamut politically from far left to far right. She lost in the second round to current president Nicolas Sarkozy last year. Y’all know him. He’s married to Carla Bruni, ex-top model, chanteuse de charme and more, touted as the new Jackie-O.

Sexism may have played a role in Mme. Royal's defeat, but nobody would ever seriously claim that she lacks the credentials or training for high office. Her political career bagan in the mid-80's, and she has been everything from municipal counselor to deputé (like a member of the house of reps). She has also served in the cabinets of several Socialist prime ministers (environment, education, etc.), and even gave birth to her fourth child while holding a ministerial portfolio. Did I mention that she lived with but never married the father of her four children, François Hollande? And that this did not raise eyebrows in France, although their break-up after she lost to Sarkozy got some attention. But it is also true that politicians in France are not asked where they stand on abortion or gay marriage. It is a private matter. I'd better stop now. I'm starting to get nostalgic for French politics.

She is also a very attractive 55-year old woman. She doesn’t have big hair; she doesn’t wear a lot of make-up. She dresses well, in an understated way. She has imperfect teeth behind a broad grin. But the main thing she has going for her, besides having spent a couple of decades preparing herself before seeking the highest office in the land, is intelligence. She knows how to string a sentence together, she finishes her vowels and - gosh darn it - she has a grasp of the issues. Is that hot? You betcha!

mardi 21 octobre 2008

That Sarah Palin is one unreal Alaskan


The issues in this election are so clear-cut that a 5-year old can explain them.

By SETH KANTNER
GUEST COLUMNIST

I'm sitting on my bearskin chair beside the woodstove, in Kotzebue, Alaska, 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, while outside the ocean begins to freeze over. Inside I have about 49 things piling up to say to you, America.

I'm an Alaskan -- born in an igloo, enjoy whale muktuk, all that -- and in case you aren't sick of our state by now, I'll start off with an apology for one of our residents: Sarah Palin.

We Alaskans are not generally so magazine-pretty like her, nor are we so confrontational and vapid. Most of us don't have those peachy cheeks -- we have sunburn, windburn and frostbite. Our fingernails are dirty from actually gutting moose, not yakking about it. Our hands are chapped from picking thousands of salmon out of nets, not holding one up for the camera.

Having said that, here in Alaska we are accustomed to getting jobs we're not qualified to fill. In our far-flung villages and towns we have big money surrounded by big wilderness; the combination causes warped career opportunities. Sort of an Edge of Nowhere phenomenon -- cousin to the Bridge to Nowhere one.

For example, in the village closest to the wilderness homestead where I was raised, I remember standing in my friend's cabin when his dad got a call on the CB radio: "People are writing you in for mayor."

"Nope!" my friend's dad transmitted. "Tell 'em no, I ain't doing that." He spit in a can, peered out the door at his Honda generator -- idling rough -- an extension cord running up the hill and under his door, to power the rerun of "Dukes of Hazzard" he was watching.

If he'd lived in Wasilla 25 years later, he could have responded, "Call Sarah, she'll want it."

Similar stories abound. Jimmy: who got the dogcatcher job by telling the interviewer, "I can shoot a shotgun, .30-06, .308 " Or my friend Ian, who this summer worked with computers -- until he was named CEO of a $45 million corporation.

Tougher in Alaska? Not necessarily. Here most anyone can be dogcatcher, city planner, governor, with little or no experience. That's one beauty of our state -- although, often the only thing keeping it all working is the lubrication provided by obscene amounts of money.

Sitting on this worn-to-the-hide bearskin chair of mine, scribbling, I pause to glance at a month-old newspaper before I stuff it in the stove. Lo! There's yet another photo of Gov. Palin; she's sitting in a glass office in Anchorage, with a bearskin, too, draped across the back of her expensive couch. Sarah's wearing heels. The bear's wearing a fake head with a plastic snarl. In the foreground on a glass table crouches something with pincers -- a taxidermied king crab!

I'll have to show this photo to my Eskimo friends I grew up with. We simply never contemplated such wanton unAlaskanness. Why not eat the damn thing? We ate this bear I'm sitting on, including the paws and jaw and fat -- some of which we ate raw, while some got rendered for piecrusts.

Out beyond my window, the slush ice is thickening. In the west lie the Bering Straits. Yes, Vladimir Putin and Moscow are over there somewhere -- a little closer than London. Plenty of us reside hundreds of miles closer to Russia than Palin ever did down in the big-cities of Wasilla or Juneau. In the past 40 years, Russians have motored across a handful of times, Russian Eskimos, in homemade boats. One that I know stayed and married. She's an Eskimo dancer and ivory carver, very capable and beautiful, in a real way. And, I guess like the rest of us now, an overnight foreign policy expert.

By now the world knows our Gov. Palin is an expert at swishing around in color-coordinated this and that, with her makeup, fake Minnesota accent, and her mooseburger and mean-spirited commentary. We can only hope people realize she's a pretty unreal Alaskan, one who is simply skimming the gravy off our hard-earned Alaskan mystique to mix with her varnished nonsense.
(And yes, some Alaskans do sell varnished moose turds, also.)

In the Arctic, where global warming is melting our world regardless of Palin's lone charge against reality, her alleged appeal leaves many of us cold. With our long winters and tough trails, we still value a beaver hat and common sense more than high heels and clip-on hairdos. We simply don't want another leader less intelligent than we are.

Eight years with the cowboy and copilot Halliburton at the helm has been hard on our land. Too much polluting, an unnecessary war draining our economy and both men too cool for global warming. We can't afford to turn now to a beauty contestant and an old guy who's acting like he's run the Iditarod too many times without winning. (Beating his dogs, he's so desperate to win.)

Come on, people. Our ice is melting. Your jobs are turning to dust. Everyone's bank statements are on the verge of being firestarter. Your heating oil is $4 a gallon, ours is $8.

John McCain's answers to those problems? Heck, I honestly don't know what he stands for this week. Talk about a shifting ice floe. But his running mate, we've heard her answers: She's already sued the polar bears, now she's chanting, "Drill, baby, drill!"

Wake up, folks. Sarah Palin is America's bridge to nowhere. Get off it.

From up here in the Arctic -- not left or right but north of the campaign trail -- the reality is clear and cold: When John McCain chose Sarah Palin, he wrote America out of his will. It's time for us to write him out of our future.

Seth Kantner was born and raised in the Arctic and is a commercial fisherman in Alaska's northernmost salmon fishery. He is the author of "Shopping for Porcupine" and the best-selling novel "Ordinary Wolves."

© 1998-2008 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/383843_alaska19.html

lundi 20 octobre 2008

John McCain goes in for a little facial yoga


John McCain emits one final grimace in the third debate

We've all been caught by the camera in a less than flattering moment. I probably lead in this category, which is why I have become adept at hunting down and destroying bad photos featuring one of my many unfortunate grimaces. But I'm not running for President of the United States.

This picture is downright scary, as was the "moving parts" version of it at the end of the third debate. It would make a good model for the inevitable John McCain Halloween masks, although I suppose it's too late. Those were made in a Chinese factory last summer and shipped to America for retail distribution by mid-September.

There is a facial yoga exercise that looks a little bit like this. You stick your tongue out as far as you can and hold it for a count of ten. Maybe McCain was just trying to show us that he is hip and now, and that he is working on that anger management problem by embracing holistic techniques.

vendredi 17 octobre 2008

The beat goes on...


Richard Jenkins of Six Feet Under fame, in Tom McCarthy's understated masterpiece The Visitor.

Did anyone besides me see and love The Station Agent? It was the first film that Tom McCarthy wrote and directed, a quirky little story about a midget (played by the inimitable Peter Dinklage, who was recently in another under-rated film called In Bruges), with a passion for trains. He inherits an abandoned train depot and decides to retire there and live alone. That's pretty much it, plot-wise. Yet big quiet things happen as three unlikely protagonists come together as perfect strangers, much as they might if they just happened to be waiting for a train, carrying a whole load of baggage but trying nonetheless to connect. There is simply no way to do justice to this movie by outlining its main events. Just see it.

And rent The Visitor while you're at it. Richard Jenkins, who didn't do much talking in Six Feet Under, is pretty spare with words here as well. Yet he manages to convey the quiet resignation of a man whose depression, while it may have been triggered by his wife's death, in fact extends far beyond that event to encompass a general dissatisfaction with a comfortable, predictable and deeply lonely life as a university economics professor. His dedication to teaching and research apparently entails using white-out annually to change the last digit or two of the year on the otherwise unchanged course syllabus he endlessly recycles. In a short but telling scene that precedes an even shorter one, in which we see the Professor silently whiting out the 6 in 2006, a student comes to his office to deliver a late paper. To the student's dismay and incomprehension, the Professor refuses to accept it. He's not being cold, really, just unfeeling. He's numb. In his parting shot, the student notes that the Professor has yet to hand out the course syllabus. Talk about late, dude!
Into this life bursts a couple, two illegal immigrants who are squatting in the small walk-up the Professor keeps in New York City. You get the feeling that he hasn't spent much time there since the death of his wife. Indeed, he agrees reluctantly to attend a conference in the city so that he can deliver a paper he has co-written (but in reality only co-signed) for some kind of global economy and development conference at NYU. In an ironic twist, abstraction meets reality. From thinking global in the afternoon, our Professor suddenly finds himself confronted with the results of globalization in the flesh and in a position to act local. Against the backdrop of the Twin Towers and 9/11 no less.
What happens thereafter manages to be both predictable and surprising.
I won't say more.
Just see it. And then tell me you don't want to pick up a set of African drums and sit in the subway or on a park bench all day and just give in to the beat.

jeudi 16 octobre 2008

McCain's disdain originates in Karl Rove's nasty brain


McCain's disdain is often all too plain. Here, it is directed at George W. Bush.


And here is Karl Rove, aka Porky Pig, thumbing his porcine nose at the liberal media.

Wow. Forget about how badly John McCain did last night on the issues. What bugs me the most is how he just keeps repeating himself from one debate to the next. I am so glad this exercise is over; I don't think I could bear to hear him yet again make the absurd claim that Obama wants to tax people who make 42,000 dollars a year.

I felt sorrow, pity and frustration listening to him. But at least I listened to him, which is more than I can say for him. I get the feeling the old fart just doesn't listen to anyone. This reminds me of the email I received from someone who had the misfortune of spending time with McCain and his wife at a vacation resort. Apparently, when McCain wasn't telling women (including his wife) that they were too fat to be eating dessert, he was expounding on the physical superiority of Asian women over corn-fed American gals and getting overly physical with the Thai wife of one horrified fellow vacationer. He came to the dinner table every night with passages from Faulkner marked in a book he was reading, and proceeded to read aloud to his fellow diners. Nobody was allowed to talk during this nightly performance.

And another thing. Those facial expressions. Such contempt, anger and disdain for his opponent. And hence for a large chunk of the American populace. Can you imagine McCain seated at a table during a G7 meeting, rolling his eyes whenever Angela Merkel makes a comment? Or grimacing and sticking his tongue out when Nicolas Sarkozy calls for greater global oversight of financial institutions and capital markets? Or being heard to let out a sigh when Gordon Brown expresses his view on global supervision? Please! Get this man out of the public arena.

And one last thing. I believe that the age gap between the two candidates will be decisive this year. I further believe that the demographic divides between the baby boomers, the pre-baby boomers and the post-baby boomers, as well within the baby boom generation, will happily favor Obama. In other words, the oldest of the baby boomers (who are now around 60) look in one direction and see a young member of their cohort (Obama). If they look in the other direction, they see an old man who was born before the end of WWII (based on his current age McCain was born in 1936, making him nearly as old as my mom). It is a no-brainer. At 60, today's first boomers see themselves as still young and vital. After all, 60 is the new 50 and some would even say it is the new 40. And if you are 50 in your brain, your heart and your body, then Obama doesn't look so young and inexperienced. But McCain sure looks old and out of touch. He's the guy you don't want to become and are determined never to become.
Thank you, baby boom. If all goes well, we won't have to bear John McCain's grumpy and manic grimaces for the next four years. He'll retire to Arizona, where he belongs, and grimace at all those old retired people down there. But he better watch out. They might grimace right back at the old coot.

Obviously, I don't mean this as a rant against old people in general. I like people of all ages; but I do dislike grimacing sourpusses of all ages who think that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, who see change as just one more thing to fear, and who think Bill O'Reilly is a bright young man and Sarah Palin a terrific gal.

And by the way: Check out the NY Times article on who Joe the Plumber really is. Oops! No wonder he seems embarrassed by McCain's shout-out. Whoa! Karl Rove, you're slipping. Don't you have people to do a little homework before you clear a spin point?

The Body Politic


Why is this issue still on the table?

First of all, I am as pro-life as the next gal and also staunchly pro-choice. However, I refuse to allow people who want to tell me what to do with my body and my life to usurp the term "pro-life," implying as it does that I and others who defend the right of an individual to choose are somehow anti-life. Sorry, but no. I am pro-life, too.

It has always astonished me, however, to note that those who are opposed to abortion are generally also opposed to sex education, the use of contraceptives and financial and social assistance to the women they would force to bring a baby into the world and the foetus they are calling a person and forcing to be born. In fact, I think it is important to look at all the premises underlying their position.

The premise of the first part of their argument is that life begins at conception. Unfortunately, the premise of the second part of their argument is that it apparently ends at birth.

Passionate concern for the unborn + total indifference for the born = Not really pro-life at all, but definitely anti-choice.

Frankly, I would like to see this divisive issue taken off the American political table once and for all. It is clear that overturning Roe v. Wade is about as likely as revoking the right to bear arms. It is just not going to happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to accept the fatality of both in American life and just move on? Maybe those who are against guns (I personally abhor guns, but I realize our gun culture is deeply and historically ingrained) could focus exclusively on making gun ownership more difficult and safer for the accidental victims of someone else's need to own one. And those who are opposed to abortion could focus exclusively on making sure that girls who find themselves in the family way have someone to turn to as they face this difficult situation. Adoption could be actively promoted and made much simpler. Abortion, if this option is chosen, could be done as early as possible. After all, China and Guatemala are no longer viable sources of adoptable babies for Americans.

Obama answered the question last night as well, as compassionately and as pragmatically as it can possibly be answered. I am proud of him for owning the pro-choice position. In contrast, McCain decided to channel Sarah Palin and started babbling about partial live births.

Here is what Obama said:
"This is an issue that—look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to—to reconcile the two views. But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby." Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances."

McCain, who went first, used the question as an opportunity to attack Obama:
"Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the judiciary committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that. … Then there was another bill before the Senate judiciary committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really—one of the bad procedures, a terrible. … I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro-abortion movement in America. … It was clear-cut votes that Sen. Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America."

As a reminder, and in case you had forgotten, this is the Maverick who reaches across the aisle and brings people together on issues.

With all due respect, Senator McMaverick, I believe that mainstream America wants to just move on move on and talk about the things that matter to Americans as a people: the economy, ending the war in Iraq, energy, jobs, education... Mainstream America knows this is an issue that divides us and that will never be resolved to anyone's satisfaction politically. Mainstream America knows that public policy on this issue needs to be pragmatic and not polemical. Mainstream America knows that if we let people choose to own guns or not, then we need to allow people to choose parenthood and not impose it as a punishment for bad judgement or lack of self-control.

Mainstream America knows that if we don't solve the immediate problems that face our nation--as opposed to pontificating on private matters that face men and women--then it is no use forcing women to bring babies into the world or forcing gun nuts to put their weapons down. Where once there was life, there will be only desolation.

Guest blog: Fragment G to Joe the Plumber


Hey Joe, where are you going with that plunger in your hand?

Hey Joe, last night we heard a lot about you and your dilemma. Sounds like things are starting to look pretty good for you, though, and you are wondering which of these candidates can help you the most. Yes, America has some problems right now. Much of the former middle class is struggling, healthcare costs are out of control; education and educational opportunities are suffering; the financial markets are collapsing, and so is our infrastructure. But I’m delighted to hear that things are looking up for you and your personal economy. I’m glad to hear you are earnestly considering which of these candidates is best for you. But I’m saddened to hear that you think it might be John McCain.

I want you and every other undecided voter out there to think about what JFK said:

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.

This IS a great country. It truly is the land of opportunity. Despite its serious problems, some of them listed above, our nation is a great one and we are lucky to live in it. I am very proud of this nation. I would not seek to live elsewhere. I feel lucky to have been born here, to have the opportunity to live here, to make my living here. America has been very, very good to me.

I find it increasingly difficult to take seriously people who wrap themselves in our flag, call themselves patriotic, chant “USA,USA,” and then moan about paying too much in taxes and the need to get government off our backs. You can’t have it both ways.

America is our host. America embraces us. America gives us strong soil to nurture our crops. America gives us a home and a place to raise our family. And now some people who call themselves patriots want to go cheap on her—just when she needs us most.

Hey America, they’re saying, thanks for the opportunity, thanks for giving me everything I needed, and by the way, sorry to here about YOUR problems. Good luck with them!

America is in trouble. America is in debt. We ARE America. We are in trouble. We are in debt. Instead of bitching about how much it is costing us as individuals, how about if we all pitch in and come to the aid of the great nation which has done so much for so many.

How about if we all do our part?

Hey Joe. I paid my taxes yesterday. The good news is that I can’t believe a poor boy like me, who started with so little, has done so well. Thank you, America! The bad news is that I know I will have to pay more next year. I can’t wait. Thank you, America!

mercredi 15 octobre 2008

We've all come to look for America


As Emily Dickinson wrote, there is no frigate like a book...


The silent desolation of Fourth Beach, on the Olympic Peninsula


Paraphrasing Cicero, a bus without books is like a body without a soul.


Whoever this guy is, he is angry about everything from 8 years of Bush to a child-beating plumber associated with the eery nearby community of Seabrook (founded by visitors from another planet in 2004)to State employees who pick on the disabled. And don't even get him started on those whale-eating Japanese.



This Douglas fir is 400 years old. If only trees could talk; imagine the stories it would tell.

Weekends were made for Ocean Shores






Actually, Ocean Shores is a totally tacky place that Pat Boone tried to turn into a destination resort back in the 1960's. The restaurants are hideously bad. And if you think the local IGA will serve as your workaround, think again. It has a HUGE frozen food section and not much else.

But Ocean Shores has one thing going for it: a little piece of the Pacific Coast. Long, flat beaches, the kind Neko and her people love. Here are some photos of Neko and one of many friends she made on the beach.

Ain't she sweet?


My sweet ride, parked at Fourth Beach, on the road to Forks, Washington

I have never been interested in cars or understood why some people are. For me, their appeal has always been utilitarian. This may not be surprising in and of itself; after all, I am not a man. I used to laugh when I would see couples on the sidewalks of Paris: she, peering intently into a shop window; he,staring at the fancy car parked on the street in front of the shop window. And never the twain shall meet.

What makes my indifference odd is that I should have the car business in my blood. My grandfather owned a Ford dealership, Westside Ford in West Seattle, back in the days when the Big 3 had little competition from Japanese or Western European automakers. His son-in-law, my dad, worked for him and dreamt of escape. My uncle, Grandpa's only son, worked for him and did escape, tragically by blowing his brains out with a shotgun. That's another story, but one of the more poignant details is that he decided to end his life in the little office on the used car lot my grandfather also owned. I was nineteen; I still don't really know why Uncle Jerry killed himself and it is not an easy subject to broach at family gatherings. Maybe that's why I have an aversion to cars.

I rode a bicycle throughout my undergraduate and graduate school days, or took the bus, or hitched a ride with someone, or walked. I finally bought a car when I got a real job working for a biotech start-up -- a brand new Toyota something or other that I paid 5,200 dollars for. Then I left the country and lived for the next 25 years in places where car ownership is both optional and extravagent. I took the bus, I took the métro, I took cabs, I walked.

And then I returned to America and realized within seconds that I would have to drive again. It was only later that I figured out this would mean acquiring my own vehicle. How does it feel to get behind the wheel of a vehicle with a manual transmission after not driving for two and a half decades? Well, what they say about bicycles also applies to cars. One never forgets. But it is a scary feeling: your brain is saying what the hell are you are doing and your body is doing it, whatever it is. Driving. Parallel parking as if you did it every day. But then I had to retake the test, which is another story altogether, with its own little humiliations and triumphs.

In all these years of driving and not driving, only one car has ever caught my fancy and made me want it. The Austin Mini Cooper (the "S" s'il vous plaît). So when our neighbor Matt put a for sale sign on his, it was nearly a done deal. The price was right; the car is in impeccable condition (a 2002 with only 24,000 miles on it -- thank you, Matt); and I have always wanted the Mini to be the car that gets me from here to there. I got my first taste of the notion that motorized motion could be exhilarating when we bought a scooter a couple of years ago. I was still in denial about the absolute necessity of car ownership in America. But driving that scooter was a blast. Well, let me tell you. Driving a Mini is even more of a blast.

vendredi 10 octobre 2008

Parachute doré


Alain Souchon does it again.
I was just reading Le Monde and came across an article about French pop singer and songwriter Alain Souchon. You have probably never heard of him, unless you live in France or some other French-speaking land. He's typical of French stars, at least those who came on the scene before the advent of the reality show version of "the star-making machinery behind the popular song." His songs are popular, but they are highly personal and often about things that really matter. Check out Foule Sentimentale. Even if you don't understand the words, you'll appreciate the haunting tune. Or so I hope. Is it possible to separate that song from its lyrics? Is it possible to appreciate the tune without listening to the words?
I don't know. But Alain Souchon has just written a song called Parachute doré (Golden parachute), and you can download it for free from his official website or see/hear it here: http://tinyurl.com/3wteov

You can probably guess that this song is well-timed given the planetary meltdown of the stock markets, the collapse of the banking system, and news that AIG executives, after begging for and getting an 85 billion dollar bailout from the government, spent a week at a ritzy spa, for another half million of our money. Alain Souchon's latest song is about the world we live in, with all its faults.

"Il y a des gens, on leur dit vous avez une boîte avec plein d'employés, vous organisez (...) et le gars, le chef, il sait pas. La boîte, elle coule, et là, on lui donne des millions et des millions. Il s'en va sous les tropiques. Mange des noix de coco avec des top-models. Nage dans l'eau transparente. Ça, ça s'appelle un parachute doré, c'est extra, vous merdez complètement et on vous donne plein d'argent!"


"J'ai creusé, creusé la dette, au lieu de me creuser la tête. Un jour, les cours ont chuté et moi... parachuté !"

Ah, I'll let you wonder what he's saying for awhile, then translate. But listen to the song as well. Note how sweet the voice is, how detached and ironic the singer is. Ironic but not cynical; without illusions, but not resigned. Thank you, Alain Souchon... c'est déjà ça!

jeudi 9 octobre 2008

Prix Nobel discerné à J.M.G. Le Clézio


"Les vrais héros ne savent pas qu'ils sont des héros."

L'académie suédoise vient d’annoncer que le Prix Nobel de la littérature 2008 est attribué à J.M.G. Le Clézio, écrivain français que je suis en train d’écouter à la radio via l’Internet. Il a été interviewé ce matin sur France Inter, avant l'annonce. Et il y a de la musique : Le Boléro de Ravel.

Il est beau, Le Clézio, il est bon, il écrit bien, et il s'exprime à vive voix doucement mais avec des mots très durs.

Bizarrement, hier je regardais ma bibliothèque pour préparer un entretien lundi prochain sur mes goûts littéraires. (C'est une autre histoire.) J'ai retrouvé un livre de lui, un recueil de nouvelles (Printemps et autres saisons). J'avais un peu oublié cet auteur. Puis, ce matin j'apprends qu'il n'est pas oublié par les autres.

Je me dis que j'ai de la chance, car je connais l'œuvre des 3 derniers lauréats : J.M. Coetzee, Doris Lessing et, cette année, J.M.G. Le Clézio. Et en plus, j'ai visité le musée Nobel (le Nobelmuseet) à Stockholm. Si vous vous retrouvez un jour en Suède, il ne faut pas rater ça!

mercredi 8 octobre 2008

Who won - Guest blog






Thanks to Maurice Carroll, who was asked this question by Le Monde. He is the Director of Quinnipiac University Polling

Who won the second debate, John McCain or Barack Obama?

"There were really two debates: the first one was about the economy, a topic that plays to Obama's favor, and the second was about foreign policy, an area in which McCain is in his comfort zone. So this second debate was comparable to the first, where the performances of the two candidates balance each other out. Barack Obama and John McCain both reiterated their respective key phrases and drove their message home regardless of the questions asked. From a stylistic perspective, Barack Obama is a more polished and formal speaker. John McCain is at ease in this type of format, where the audience participates, even though he has a slight limp that is visible when he moves around the stage. During the first debate, the conditions were less favorable for McCain, who was coming off failed negotiations on the financial bailout and threatened to postpone. So there was no real surprise."

I think that this is a dry and factual account of the content of the debate, but Carroll cuts McCain way too much slack in terms of style. He was certainly not comfortable on this stage and, although he has been credited with great comfort in a town hall meeting format, this was not on display last night. He wanted to appear sprightly, but he looked more manic. He spent too much time scribbling notes and then jumping out of his chair. He seemed out of breath at times. He called Obama "That one,"* and must have spat out the words "My friends" a hundred times. He sounded and looked like a full commission salesman at the end of a slow month. And in this economy, that is a really bad job to be doing.

*Remember the wizard on Mr Science: Trizzle trazzle trozzle trome/Time for this one to go home.

Save the kittens!



As you watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vtHwWReGU0) and after you register to vote -- if you haven't already -- remember what God does to kittens if you vote Republican. Even if you don't believe in God.

Think about how good Obama looked last night: stately, proud, kind, relaxed and wearing a suit that actually fit him.

Think about how, um, bad John McCain looked: stumpy, grumpy, about to bust out of his girdle or body cast or whatever he's wearing under that suit. The suit looked too small; his tie was too wide; he has way more than his fair share of acorns stashed away in that left cheek of his.

And what about the ladies? Michelle O in a simple, warm red dress and Cindy M in a cold blue nember. Michelle with a big smile on her face; Cindy remaining two steps behind her man at all times. Anxious to get away from these little people. Ewwww! How many limp handshakes does a girl gotta give before she can just get in that limo and drive away?

Can't change dicks in the middle of a screw?



My correspondents in Europe are wondering who won last night's debate. They would have to have stayed up until 3 am to watch it. They probably were awake at 3 am, but desperately trying to rid their brains of black thoughts about the collapse of global capital markets. The last thing they needed to see was to see John McCain. When he smiled, he looked strained and uncomfortable. He looked like he was wearing a body girdle that was too tight. In fact, I swear he is wearing a girdle or an extremely tight bulletproof vest. Whatever it is, it's choking him. On television, he looked pinched and pasty and small and out of his league. Every time the camera caught him, he was either prowling around the stage like a tiger ready to pounce or scribbling things frantically on reams of paper that seemed to spill off of the small desk next to his chair. Too bad he didn't write down the name of the young black woman who asked him a question; it would have looked better had he remembered her name (it was Ingrid).

But they would have been reassured by Obama, who was incredibly relaxed and upbeat. Physically, the contrast with his opponent Dick Nixon -- oops, I mean John McCain --was striking. Obama, tall and lanky and graceful. McCain, more like a pitbull, without the lipstick. Obama was presidential; McCain was not. Obama looked like he could lead a nation; McCain looked like he could have a heart attack any minute. Interestingly, he did not mention his running mate once last night. Well, that stands to reason. McCain + heart attack = President Palin. I don't think anyone, even the Joe Sixpacks and Hockey Moms out there (big shout-out to all of you) who are voting Republican in spite of it all, really want to see that happen. They just won't admit it, and they have a tremendous capacity for denial.

I haven't read what the analysts and opinionators are saying about last night's debate, but I'm sure they have all commented on McCain's odd remarks to Tom Brokaw, who I guess would not be Treasury Secretary in a McCain administration. No way! But what really struck me was what happened after the debate ended: the candidates' wives came onto the stage -- Michelle Obama from the audience, where she was sitting during the debate with the regular folks, and Cindy McCain from the shadows. She looked every inch the Stepford Wife, impassive, fake smile, two steps behind her husband, frail. She looked like she needed to be on life support. And like she wanted to get the hell out of there, fast. That's what the McCains did. They shook a few hands and were gone. The Obamas lingered with the crowd, shaking hands, posing for photos and actually speaking to people. They looked like they were having fun. Meanwhile, in the back of Cindy's stretch limo, John was wiggling out of his girdle and telling Cindy he would take her to dinner but only if she promised not to have any dessert. You know what they say: you can never be too rich or too thin. Cindy is pushing the envelope on that one. And Tricky John is makin' sure of that.

When Nixon ran for re-election, I was in high school. One day, somebody wrote a poem on the blackboard of my history class and we all had to sit there until the perp came forward or was denounced by a classmate. I don't remember how the story ended, but I have never forgotten the poem:

Vote for Nixon in seventy-two
'Cuz you can't change Dicks in the middle of a screw.

What's different in 2008 is that we are getting rid of the Dick who has been more or less secretly running our country for the past eight years. What luck! And we don't have to put another one in the White House. We can turn the page, not on the economy, as Tricky John would like, but on eight years of panic, fear and greed. Let's do it!

mardi 7 octobre 2008

Twist and Shout



By now, everyone has seen this picture. It's great though, innit? Apparently, for Johnny McCain and Sarah Palin, the fact that the US economy is tottering on the brink of disaster is far less scary than the prospect of Barack Obama in the White House. At least, that is what they are hoping a majority of Americans are stupid enough to believe. But who can blame for trying? Shock and Awe abroad; Fear and Panic at home. It has worked for eight years; why not see if it will fly for another four at least?

I'm going to try and help the A-team instill fear. What makes Obama scary is his name: it sounds so un-American, so swarthy, so Middle Eastern or is it Far Eastern? Whatever. If only he would change it to O'Bama. Then people might think he's Irish. But even if he were Irish, he would probably have ties to the IRA. You know, those evil terrorists. Enough said. Brick O'Bama of Derry.

Speaking of which, what about his leftist ties?. After suggesting in the first debate that Obama was so far to the left the he had a hard time reaching that far across the aisle, McCain has now got his winkin' pitbull with lipstick on the attack. She may get her facts wrong at every photo op, but Palin just keeps hammerin' away. You gotta love a gal with no shame whatsoever. She stoops to conquer. She's a long way from Wasilla, but I reckon now that she has had a taste of the limelight she ain't never going back. Ooh! I scared myself! Wait, I was supposed to be scared at the prospect of an Obama presidency, not at the thought of Sarah Palin winkin' and not blinkin' in my face for years to come.

Okay, don't be scared about this next thing. At least, turn the page until we can find a way to tie it to Obama: the subprime crisis. First it spread to the banks and then to the credit markets in general, creating this terible thing called a credit crunch. The crunch has now spread to Europe. Remember how in Q1, or was it Q2, the US economy performed better than expected? That was in part because our weak dollar made US exports to Europe and elsewhere really cheap. Well, forget about that now. It's over. Apparently, nobody has any more money for anything and they can't borrow either. So all the money has suddenly gone away. And banks won't lend a dime to anyone--least of all their peers in the industry. Can't trust those fuckers. They could go all insolvent on us any minute. Even the commercial paper market basically just stopped functioning. The Fed (and its main man Ben Bernanke, a scary dude judging just by his name alone) had to step in and start buying commercial paper. It's like the whole damn system is constipated.

We should all be scared, very scared, about this. And if some 72-year old man with a chip on his shoulder comes up to you, accompanied by a woman who looks like every 72-year old man's idea of the perfect daughter-in-law/mistress, just say no. Do not talk to these people. They are brain-snatchers. They will suck out the contents of your brain and replace it with mud and bullshit.

lundi 6 octobre 2008

Is there a place in hell for idiots and liars?


Pictured: A real Maverick. Will it too spin its wheels in a desperate attempt to speed away from all that bad newsflow on the economy?


Sarah's latest demonstration that she has nothing but contempt for women, whom she sees as stupid.

It happened at that rally in California, folks. Sarah misquoted Clinton appointee Madeleine Albright in an attempt to pander to women voters. Will someone please tell her that (a) we may be gals, but we know how to read and fact check and (b) anyone smart enough to be intrigued by something Madeleine Albright might have said is also smart enough to understand Albright's explanation of how she was misquoted. See it all for yourself:
http://tinyurl.com/533cek

I have a prediction: Tina Fey is going to be very busy in the next four weeks. And for that, I am almost grateful to Sarah Palin.


Update: A Real Maverick Speaks Out.

Here's what one of Samuel Maverick's descendents had to say about John McCain's use of the word maverick to describe himself. It's from an op-ed piece in the NY Times by John Schwartz that you can read here: http://tinyurl.com/4qbsg4


Considering the family’s long history of association with liberalism and progressive ideals, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Maverick insists that John McCain, who has voted so often with his party, “is in no way a maverick, in uppercase or lowercase.”

“It’s just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he’s not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, ‘Oh, my God, he said it again.’ ”

“He’s a Republican,” she said. “He’s branded.”

The World According to Le Monde





View from abroad

The coverage offered by Le Monde of American politics, especially around elections, has always been nothing short of spectacular. Below, my quick and dirty translation of Le Monde's wrap-up of the issues being reported by a broad spectrum of the US press. Not just the New York Times, but also the San Jose Mercury News. I don't read the latter, and I don't always have time to read everything in the former. But I am thankful for Le Monde, which reads and digests the newsflow from my country better than any other source available to me. The smart-ass parenthetical remarks are mine; Le Monde would never stoop so low. As for me, I stoop to conquer.


Now that Congress has passed Paulson's bailout plan in "bipartisan" fashion, the race between Republicans and Democrats for control of the White House has resumed with a vengeance. With just four weeks to go, the most recent polls show that Obama's lead is widening (see RealClearPolitics). If the election were held today, the Dem would get 273 electoral votes - which is three more than he needs to get into the White House. And this comes from none other than former Bush advisor Karl Rove. (Translator's note: You can bet that Karl Rove has his Rolodex out right now and is "spinning" it furiously, because that's what he does. Spin, baby, spin.)

Nine US states that traditionally vote Republican in presidential elections could tilt in favor of Barack Obama on November 4, according to Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny (The New York Times). The "maverick" campaign is spinning its wheels - John McCain has given up in Michigan - and getting radical. Sarah Palin has accused Obama of "palling around" with "terrorists" - Bill Ayers, a former Weather Underground militant who now teaches in Chicago, according to the San Jose Mercury News (Translator's note: Sarah doesn't talk one way in San Jose and another way in San Francisco -- she skips San Francisco altogether).

The financial crisis and the current economic situation are at the center of this campaign (Translator's note: where they should be!), which gives the Democrats a considerable boost. The Los Angeles Times quotes McCain advisor Greg Strimple, who says that the Republicans want to turn the page on the financial crisis and go back to talking about the agressively leftist voting record of Senator Obama and the risk that this represents for Americans. (Translator's note: If only it were that simple to get rid of the financial crisis - poof poof - and just get back to talking about the real issue: that leftist threat hovering over our poor American heads.)

More and more US publications are making their endorsements, like The New Yorker, which notes that "Obama would make a better president" after "eight years of Republican disaster." (Translator's note: Has it been eight years already? How time flies!)

Just as voter registration deadlines approach - on Monday in many states - the number of registered democrats has increased considerably, according to the Washington Post. And the Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) states that 13.2 million have registered in Texas.
The number of voters removed due to death or change of address is not known. The Chicago Tribune reports that a Federal law encouraging the creation of state-by-state databases is being contested in a number of jurisdictions. "There is a court hearing campaign going on undeneath the presidential campaign" according to the paper, in particular in places where the race is tight.

Voting has begun in states that authorize early voting by mail. This is the case in Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and in California, where nearly a third of the 16 million registered voters have asked for permission to use this process, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Translator's note: They're afraid the Republicans will try to do what they did in Florida back in 2000 - i.e., discourage voters from going to the polls in certain heavily Democratic counties by setting up police roadblocks. That's right, folks. Your tax dollars at work. Keeping those dangerous leftists off our roads and out of our polling places. Whew! I feel safer, don't you?)

vendredi 3 octobre 2008

There you go again: the CD




Sarah Palin, channeling Ronald Reagan

I was going to write this as a question and answer post, but since I was not sequestered for an entire week with Republican strategists and prep people, I had no time to write out my talking points. Otherwise, I would have come armed with a set of pat answers in reply to a different set of questions. This strategy works well when your audience is in a coma.

But I digress. Last night's much awaited debate has already been dissected by the pundits. I hope it will serve as a turning point in this election campaign, in the sense that we can all just forget about lightweight Sarah Palin and move on to a serious discussion of who is going to lead us out of the mess that eight years of Bush has gotten us into, at home and abroad. At home, our economy is a trainwreck. Not a trainwreck in the making; a trainwreck that has already happened. Our economy has lost jobs every month in the last nine, and unemployment is at 6.1 percent, which is high for the US. It would be even higher if so many of our potential young entrants to the job market weren't being trained for battle and then shipped to Iraq. So much for higher taxes being the cause of job losses, Sarah. Nice try!

Abroad, our image is in tatters. You don't have to believe me; I just lived abroad for 22 years. What could I possibly know about how the rest of the world views America? Let's just say that the day after 9/11, America garnered a huge amount of goodwill from its allies; within 18 months, George Bush and his neo-conservative strategists (where are they now?) had totally blown it. Not content to just blow it, they then proceeded to obliterate it. The US will need YEARS to recover, no matter who is president.

It took me a few minutes to figure out who Sarah Palin was striving so hard to imitate last night. But after the second or third "you betcha" and "gosh darn it," punctuated with winks (did you know that winking is what liars do?), a hazy and frightening image from the past began to come into view. It was not one I wanted to see. It was that amiable moron whose election coincided with my departure from the United States. When Sarah said "There you go again, pointing backwards," there could be no doubt that she was made of pure Teflon. She was even coiffed to remind the old folks in the Midwest of the late Ronald Reagan. Seriously, check out their respective hairstyles. As a reminder, Reagan used that line to great effect against Jimmy Carter. And then went on to preside over the economic policies and mindset that have done so much to get us where we are today: in a big fucking mess, shouting across a huge political divide.

In case there was any doubt about who she was channeling, Palin even trotted out a quotation that is widely attributed to Reagan, likening the United States to a shining city on a hill. Did she know, or care, that the author of this quotation is in fact John Winthrop, who was himself making a biblical reference (to the words of Jesus)? And that he wrote this in, like, 1630? That is, 1630 A.D. -- before America was America? Before our forefathers raped and pillaged the native population in their quest for resources, riches and Westward expansion? Oh, there I go again, pointing backwards. Sorry!

Okay, so Sarah Palin did not spontaneously combust on stage, which her handlers and fans undoubtedly see as a victory of sorts. Whatever. Her Teflon grin, faux folksy manner and memorized talking points will not win over people who are in touch, but they sure won't bother those who are out of touch and who already love her. However, to those who believe that authenticity matters, I suggest thinking about two minor but telling details that prove, if proof were needed, that Sarah Palin is a complete and utter phony. Not only that, but she's a heartless bitch. There. I said it.

She began by asking (off-mic - wink wink) if she could call Senator Biden "Joe," to get that folksy thing going. But then she failed to do so except once, when she wanted to use the Ronald Reagan line. She began that sentence with "Say it ain't so, Joe," a line she would have used even had Hillary been her opponent. Totally fake. Then, after she tried her ninth or tenth variation on the "I'm just a mom" theme, and Biden replied with what I think was the answer that gave him the victory in this pseudo-debate, instead of expressing the slightest bit of human emotion, Palin launched into yet another canned speech about McCain being a maverick. Any human heart would have been touched by Biden's moment of real emotion. The man lost his wife and daughter in a car accident, and nearly lost his two sons. His reference to it was entirely relevant. Her blithe and callous decision to ignore it was cold. Or maybe she simply did not hear it. After all, she spent most of the time Biden was talking either jotting down her next talking point on the list she came on stage with or rifling through her index cards.

For a maverick and Washington outsider, she sure seemed to know a thing or two about Politricks. Ronald Reagan would have been so proud. I can hear him now, saying "where's the rest of me?"