Death happens in sets of threes. And political careers of Republican conservative politicians appear to be no exception. First we have Nevada Senator John Ensign’s admission of an extramarital affair that turned into something out of a soap opera, with the Senator’s aides accusing the husband of his former mistress of extortion by demanding a substantial cash payout. In order to end his nightmare, Mr. Ensign laid his adultery on the table for the world to see.
Second, we have South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford who figuratively and courageously told his constituents to go to hell as he boldly went by his lonesome where no politician has ever gone before, at least while in office and without his entourage, to have a tryst with his mistress way, way, way south of the border in Argentina over the Father’s Day weekend.
And now we have our third. On the eve of Independence Day, traditionally a time when media attention is at a low point, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, with no fanfare, no pre-prepared remarks, and not much of an audience to witness the event, made an announcement that she would be stepping down as Governor. The lipstick wearing doppelganger for a pit bull is calling it quits after just thirty two months in office. And ever since the Republican National Convention when the Republican nominee Alaska Senator John McCain shrewdly bypassed all the politically qualified candidates to the wind and went with his gut to select the charismatic thrilla from Wasilla to be his vice presidential running mate, Ms. Palin’s attention has been on anything but being Governor.
To be fair, the past year has not been kind to Ms. Palin and her family. When she skyrocketed onto the national political stage, it was quickly made painfully obvious that Ms. Palin was not ready for the national spotlight. While it should be noted that no one is immune from making gaffs, Ms. Palin became a walking talking gaff machine. All attempts to keep her from media scrutiny backfired. The only thing she was allowed to say was her convention speech with the well worn and overused line that lipstick was the only distinguishing characteristic between a pit bull and a hockey mom. And when she did manage to break communication silence, the results were less than stellar. The interviews with CBS’s Katie Couric and ABC’s Charlie Gibson were not her shining moments of intellect or political sophistication, And Saturday Night Live comedian Tina Fey used Ms. Palin’s public appearances as inspiration for some of the best comedy on that show in years.
After the election, Ms. Palin’s appears in the news under headlines more suitable for the attention hounds of Hollywood than for a politician of vision. Ms. Palin has allowed herself to fall into heated public battles with Levi Johnston, the father of her grandson, and with late night television comedian David Letterman who crossed the line with a less than entertaining joke mocking her daughter’s appetite for sex. Ms. Palin has accepted two high profile speaking engagements only to bail out and then, on the flip side, she’s passed on Republican dinner invitations only to agree to appear at the last minute but refusing to take a high profile role by declining to give a speech. Even her creator Mr. McCain refuses to give her any thing resembling a political endorsement these days. And Ms. Palin has confessed to becoming increasingly unhappy with the unflattering media scrutiny regarding her battles with her state legislature and all of the ethics complaints filed against her.
Now all of this, and much, much more, would drive anyone to want a timeout to lick their wounds. But politicians, especially the kind that want the national attention of a national office, don’t want to just ride off into the sunset and fade away from existence.
But the timing of Ms. Palin’s retirement announcement only leads to more suspicion. To announce the step down on the Friday before the Independence Day holiday weekend will simply lead to more scrutiny. It leaves her with less than three years as Governor on her resume which is not a very strong argument to run for any national political office. This shoots a huge hole in all of her talk about looking like a pit bull. She doesn’t have the tenacity to run Alaska, how in the world will she convince the people that she has the resolve to run the presidency? It is interesting that the Alaskan Governor quits her job free of scandal and while she was still extremely popular in Republican circles. But South Carolina Mark Sanford, neck deep in scandal and more revolting than Michael Vick, at least for the moment, decides it’s in the best interest of his constituents that he stays in office. Go figure!
During the press conference Ms. Palin used another metaphor and presented herself as a point guard exhausted by the full court press attacking her on the national level. Ms. Palin said that she has driven through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket, and now finds it necessary to pass the ball so that her team can win. Ms. Palin admitted that some are going to question the timing. But after much prayer and consideration she said she asked the people who meant the most to her, her kids. She posed the question whether or not she should be a positive influence and fight for all our children’s futures from outside the Governor’s office? She said it was four yeses and one hell yeah. That one probably came from Bristol tired of being an easy lightning rod for her mother’s controversies.
If the basket in her analogy is indeed a life outside of government then Ms. Palin would probably have a much easier time than staying on as Governor. There is little doubt that her charisma and charm could work wonders as a fund raiser or as a political lobbyist. But if her plan was to for a higher profile political office then her strategy leaves much to be desired. A good basketball player knows when to pass the ball, but they never simply quit in the middle of the game.
David Letterman has the nerve to say something stupid about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her family.
When Arizona Senator John McCain picked Ms. Palin as his running mate in his bid for the White House, Mr. McCain opened a Pandora’s Box of all kinds of political repercussions that continue to reverberate on a national scale. Personally, I find it difficult to believe that Mr. McCain thought that Ms. Palin was the most qualified individual to entrust the governance of the nation should something dreadful happened and Mr. McCain was no longer capable of serving as President. One of the things that Mr. Letterman said about the Alaska Governor was that she had to purchase makeup for her slutty stewardess look. Cheap for a laugh or two for sure, but I’m sure it was that slutty stewardess appearance that gave Ms. Palin the edge over far more qualified potential running mates.
For whatever reason, whether you agree with her motives or not, Ms. Palin put her family in front of the world during the Republican National Convention for the entire world to see as a prime example of an average American family. Since then we’ve learned that Bristol Palin was an unwed teen mother and the father to be was a self described redneck with more testosterone than sense. The young couple talked a good game about how they planned to wed. But it was pretty obvious that Bristol and her beau, Levi Johnston, had as much true love for each other as Mr. McCain and Barack Obama during a presidential debate. Personally speaking the teen mother became a reminder of how poorly Ms. Palin’s view, opinion, and policy on issues of pregnancy and women’s reproductive rights manifest in practical applications.
The Republican Party’s effort for the White House became a godsend for comedians every where. But Mr. Letterman made the ridicule of the Republican Party a personal vendetta after Mr. McCain ducked out an appearance on Mr. Letterman’s late night show in order to make an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Katie Coruic. Mr. McCain’s transgression against Mr. Letterman was further aggravated because Mr. McCain claimed he had to cancel at the last minute to run back to Washington, D.C. for urgent national business. The gloves came off that night and that Republican Party has been paying ever since. And while the majority of the so called Republican Party leadership has proven to be feeding Mr. Letterman a great deal of material to work with, hardly anybody has proven to be more reliable for a laugh than Sarah Palin and her family.
The jokes got out of hand the other night when Mr. Letterman made the suggestion that Ms. Palin’s daughter got knocked up during a visit to a baseball game. I don’t remember the joke. I must say it wasn’t nearly as funny as the slutty stewardess reference. In fact, it was down right tasteless. But that’s nothing unusual for one of Mr. Letterman’s monologue. Mr. Letterman says he was making a reference to Ms. Palin’s eighteen year old daughter Bristol. But it was her fourteen year old daughter Willow who attended the baseball game and the Palin’s are now trying to make the suggestion that Mr. Letterman is some kind of borderline pedophile. Truly the Palins should leave comedy to the professionals. But without a doubt, there appears to be a very public brouhaha in the making between Mr. Letterman and the Palin family. And the news media looks more than ready to incite this conflict.
For all her supposed political savvy I really don’t think Ms. Palin and the Palin family is playing this right. Yes Mr. Letterman’s joke may have been offensive. I’m sure if I was a public figure I would take the same, if not more, offense at any tasteless reference to any members of my family. But Mr. Letterman just handed an opportunity for reconciliation with the Republican Party to Ms. Palin on a silver platter. Mr. Letterman invited Ms. Palin onto his show. They could bury the hatchet on national television. Instead, Ms. Palin counters with her own brand of comedy with the suggestion that Willow wouldn’t be safe in Mr. Letterman’s presence. For all of his uncouthness it should be pretty obvious that Mr. Letterman is no danger to anyone let alone somebody’s underage daughter.
However, where Mr. Letterman has the potential to be very dangerous could be to political fortunes. Just ask John McCain. No one would make the suggestion that Mr. McCain lost his presidential aspirations because of what happened between him and Mr. Letterman. But it should be pretty obvious that it didn’t help to be ridiculed so regularly. I’m no politician and I wouldn’t presume that I know enough about politics to advise anyone who has the political smarts to become a Governor of one of only fifty states. However, I can’t help but think that a good politician would work hard to make friends in the highest of places. If I was a politically savvy politician, I would think that driving a wedge in a potential relationship between me and somebody like David Letterman could not be helpful for my future political ambitions.
I was listening to a now forgotten political pundit describing the Republican National Convention. Of particular note was when the crowd started chanting the refrain drill baby drill in response to the GOPAC Chairman Michael Steele’s speech. The political pundit said that the current price of energy has spawned serious pushes towards alternative fuels. There’s more talk about developing wind and solar energy. There’s talk about developing more all electric cars. All of this talk is being fueled by the high cost of oil that makes alternative fuels that much more attractive.
The political pundit compared the mindset of the drill baby drill crowd, with its focus on keeping the drill for more oil anywhere we can find it status quo, to the mindset of anyone who resist change. The total focus on more drilling while we are on the cusp of new energy technologies was compared to people who would embrace the old technology of IBM Selectric typewriters when the Pentium personal computers were in the early stages of development. We could develop computers to replace typewriters and try to make the business environment more efficient. But why would we develop such technology when we already have the proven technology of typewriters? Type baby type!
Currently, Americans consume something like twenty millions barrels of oil per day. According to the Energy Information Administration, a subdivision of the Department of Energy that produces official energy related statistics, and the National Petroleum Council, it is believed that about sixty billion barrels of undiscovered but recoverable oil reserves exist off the outer continental shelf. Of this sixty billion barrels, nearly a third of it is in areas where drilling has been banned, leaving more than forty billion barrels of oil in areas that are currently open to leasing and development. The problem with these oil reserves is that it might not be economically feasible to recover the oil with the current standards of oil drilling technology.
However, by lifting the current ban on drilling, it would be expected that by 2025 oil resources from these parts of the outer continental shelf could increase United States crude oil production by more than one million barrels per day. But production would not start in any measure before 2017. In an article published by Kyriacos Zygourakis in EV World that quotes David Kirsch, an oil analyst at PFC Energy, if the most promising areas off of the Florida and California coastlines were opened for drilling, their peak output could be as little as a quarter million barrels per day. These production numbers would hardly make a dent in our consumption numbers. The net result would literally be pennies on the gallon.
Add the fact that refineries are already operating at near capacity, and the infrastructure to deliver oil would need considerable investment as well, the idea that we can simply drill our way back to cheaper oil prices is a fallacy. And the more we use exorbitant, but nevertheless limited, funds to fuel our oil addiction the fewer funds we will have for the development of alternative energy resources.
Drill baby drill is a mantra of people with severely limited vision for the future. It is a chorus from people who resist change and the development of most things new. Drill baby drill is coded language for keeping the status quo exactly the way it is. These people do not want the uncertainty of a reality but the comfort of having a secured belief in what’s around the corner, even though the reality of what is around the corner is very, very different.
No matter how much or how many facts these people hear about what is happening and how the world is changing, no matter how much science and education is devoted to the study of issues, there is an adherence to the familiar. Science can be refuted. All you have to do is find a scientist who is all too willing to sell his or her shingle to the highest bidder and suddenly you have the makings of a scientific debate and can claim that the science in inconclusive. Deceive baby deceive!
This is the stereotypical mindset of the Pacific Islanders we associate with B class movies and programs who would grab the white woman who visits their island along with the professor. The islanders would worship Gork the volcano god. The professor would try to tell the islanders the science about volcanoes and lava and magma. But the islanders would hear nothing of this modern world witchcraft and would stick with their single minded, superstitious focus to please the volcano god with the greatest sacrifice they can find, the white woman. Once the white woman is thrown into the volcano Gork will stop his rumbling and the island would be spared his wrath. No offense to the white woman or the professor, but Gork baby Gork!
It is nothing but smoke and mirrors to think that all the drilling in the world is going to pull gasoline prices back down to a point where Dodge Vipers and Lincoln Navigators will become attractive again to the commoners. Such excesses are a thing of the past. The future belongs in the hands of those who are more likely to kick old habits to the curb and embrace new ideas. Without such forward thinking the majority of us would probably be stuck on the myth that the world is flat and there are a couple of big garage door on either size of the horizon that swallows the sun at night and releases it in the morning. The idea of such ignorant thinking in the twenty first century is ludicrous at best. And yet, so many of us believe that all we have to do is drill our way out of our current situation. Stuck baby stuck.
On Tuesday, September 9th, I caught the tail end of a discussion monitored by John Roberts between Paul Begala, former political aid to President Bill Clinton, and Alex Castellanos, a former consultant to Mitt Romney’s campaign for the presidency. Mr. Roberts was standing in front of the two men who were appearing together, side by side on a giant floor to ceiling television monitor.
Mr. Roberts asked Mr. Begala how come Senator Barack Obama cannot make it more clear to people that Governor Sarah Palin is actually misleading the public over the significance of her involvement in stopping the bridge to nowhere. Mr. Begala charges that it is because the press refuses to do its job. Mr. Begala said, “It is the media’s job, when a politician flat out lies on this bridge to nowhere, to call her on it. Or this matter of earmarks where she’s attacking Barack Obama for having earmarks when she was the Mayor of little Wasilla, Alaska, six thousand people, she hired a lobbyist who was connected to Jack Abramoff, who is a criminal, and they brought home twenty seven million dollars in earmarks. She carried home so much pork home she got triganosis. But we in the media are letting her tell lies about her record.”
When Mr. Begala finished Mr. Roberts pointed to Mr. Castellanos, “Okay, we’re going to let Alex respond to that. Flat out lies Alex?”
Mr. Castellanos replied, “Let’s be a little gentle. Look. Every elected official in this country works under the system we have which is we try to get a little bit of your tax money back. You just don’t want to leave it all in Washington. The amazing thing about Sarah Palin is that when she became Governor she actually stood up and said no. And she made changes and she took a strong stand. That is rare and that never happens.”
There was more back and forth between Mr. Begala and Mr. Castellanos when Mr. Roberts broke in with, “We still have fifty six days to talk about this back and forth…”
Mr. Begala interrupted, “You see this is the problem. We have this false debate when we ought to have the agreed upon facts.”
The camera switched over to Kiran Chetry at the anchor desk who told people if they wanted to check the accuracy of the candidates’ statements they could go to a couple of websites. In other words, don’t expect any fact checking from the people at CNN. The network is doing its best to keep the political race close and as competitive as possible despite facts like a vice presidential candidate is lying about her record and is blatantly hypocritical about earmarks. As her supporter Mr. Castellanos himself said, this is the political environment we find ourselves operating in these days. A little gentleness would be appreciated. When it comes to earmarks, Ms. Palin should not be throwing rocks in her glass house.
On Friday morning, the former Mayor of New York, New York, Ed Koch made an appearance on CNN and he was asked his opinion on Sarah Palin. The Mayor said that the woman bothered him because, among other things, she used her political office to try and have books banned from the library in Wasilla. When the librarian refused, Ms. Palin tried to have the librarian fired. Right after he said that, Ms. Chetry challenged him and said that CNN found proof that it never happened. Mr. Koch argued that he didn’t know where they got their proof but there is evidence to show that Ms. Palin tried to have books banned and people fired. Ms. Chetry repeated that CNN is on record and have proven beyond a doubt that Ms. Palin never did that. The two went back and forth until the network had to cut for commercial. Mr. Koch was thanked for his appearance.
When they program continued, Ms. Chetry wanted to make the network’s position clear. The network had proof that books were never banned from the library and no librarian was ever fired for not removing books from the library. Ms. Palin did try to use her position to remove books and fire librarians, but since she was unsuccessful the actual events never happened. Ms. Chetry apologized for any misunderstanding. If this is news reporting then it must be its darkest hour.
CNN was once billing itself as the most trusted name in news. CNN is probably still using that tag line. However, now the network appears to be doing its best to blur the lines between facts and reality. Whether someone in politics tried to do something or not is not important. If they weren’t successful then it didn’t happen. No one who is concerned about their reputation for honesty would claim such a narrow and rather asinine interpretation of actual events. Yet CNN appears to be ready to stoke controversy for the next fifty odd days or so in order to keep people tuned in. But if you want to know actual facts, you have to go elsewhere.
It should not be a political candidate’s job to prove that his or her opponent is lying. It is the responsibility of the press to assure that the candidates stay truthful. When a political candidate lies about his or her record it isn’t the job of the other candidate to root the untruths out. The more our trusted news sources do to generate controversy the more the public is misled. The majority of the people won’t check other sources.
If the news programs don’t report the facts then many people will go without factual reports. When news anchors defend deviant behaviors then they increase public support for deviants. Phony debates and the blurring of facts are good for increasing the number of viewers but do nothing to educate people who need education in order to vote for what many people consider the most important job in the world. In that respect, no one should be so quick to blur the lines of reality in order to increase ratings and therefore the value of the network.
We might have fifty odd or X number of days to figure out who is the best to run the country. But the misinformation being supported now will be the foundation for people’s decision making in the voting booth in November. With the stakes so high, a series of global crises that could lead to world wide catastrophes, we need to be doing everything we can to assure that all the facts are laid out as soon as possible so that people can better exercise their judgment.
So many people have said that Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is somebody with so much executive experience, along with her two time stint as the vetoing Mayor of Wasilla, she will be ready to replace a would be President John McCain any moment it’s necessary come day one. However, Ms. Palin just isn’t ready for an in depth interview with a reporter on day one. Today is the twelfth day since Mr. McCain announced his greatest political stratagem, or depending on perspective his greatest act of political lunacy, Ms. Palin as his vice presidential running mate. And to date, she’s been protected from the media as if the reporters were more like the proverbial pit bulls instead of the lipstick wearing hockey mom.
One of the biggest problems I had with this lame duck George Bush presidency was its lack of candor with the American people. How many times has the American public had to settle for the President telling reporters that he flat out isn’t going to answer questions or talk about issues that were affecting the American public?
Mr. President will you tell us who is behind your energy policy?
I’ve decided that I’m not going to talk about that.
Mr. President will you tell the American people why you gave Blackwater Security a billion dollar no bid contract to protect the refineries in Louisiana after hurricane Katrina?
I sincerely hope you’re not going to hold your breath while you’re waiting for me to answer.
Mr. President will you explain why you continue to give Exxon/Mobile a three billion dollar tax cut after one of their most profitable quarters but give the American people only three hundred dollars?
This interview’s over!
But now we are supposed to believe that this woman who is so courageous that she can stand up to all those big nasty Republican politicians that were forcing the Gravina Island Bridge on those poor people in Alaska, but she doesn’t have the bold initiative to stand before news reporters and talk about her personal beliefs and philosophies and why she is the best person to serve as a Republican vice President. What happened to all that talk about being ready day one? I’ve seen people on the news give interviews right at the moment something happened or some choice is made. Not many people have the luxury of saying, I’m running for public office but you can’t ask me questions about me for the next couple of weeks. But I’m ready on day one!
And when the reporters do get to ask what Americans want to know, the Republican Party will make sure its down with the softest of kid gloves and the gentlest of softball questions. Hey boys and girls! Say hello to Sarah Palin! Let’s give her a big hand for coming to the Romper Room Reporting Network! She’s the Governor and Mayor with so much executive experience that she’s ready to run our big old government on day one even though it’s taken her two weeks to prepare for our little show and tell segment! So Sarah could you please tell the boys and girls out in TV land what makes you so smart and why that big black man who wants to be the President is such a meanie wienie?
Given the fact that this woman, and all the people who support her, wants to be the back up study just in case the President goes down for the count, the American public needs to know who she is and where she comes from and what’s her thought process. Personally, I think you can look at the woman’s record to see how she handled her executive authority. We can see her delivery in her acceptance speech to see how easily she manipulates facts to suit her agenda. We can see first hand the lack of success of her abstinence only sex education program right in her own home with the pregnancy of her seventeen year old daughter but her refusal to readjust or try anything different that might be successful. We can see how the newest, brightest, start in the Republican galaxy secludes herself from the public as evidence of her inability to withstand scrutiny or to be ready at a moments notice. It’s just an interview. What would she do if she had to run the country?
We’ve already had eight years of a President who views the world through rose colored glasses. We don’t need such limited and thoughtless leadership one more day than absolutely necessary. When George Bush and his cronies pack that moving van and leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue the last thing I want to see pulling up is someone who will make me actually wish Mr. Bush would come back. Giving Ms. Palin time to figure out where exactly Washington D.C. is on the national map doesn’t instill me with a lot of confidence in her preparedness.
Shortly after Senator Joe Biden was named Barack Obama’s vice presidential pick Mr. Biden went his own separate way to drum up support for the Democratic team. Mr. Biden did it without reciting his acceptance speech over and over and over again. Mr. Biden did his campaigning without a script at all. On the other hand, Sarah Palin goes to school to learn what it means to be the Vice President. Which one looks the most ready come day one?
The axis of the Earth itself is in trouble. All the spin being directed towards making Republican presidential hopeful Arizona Senator John McCain’s selection of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate has the potential to interfere with the world’s rotation. The entire world is being turned upside down. Political pundits are actually saying that the Governor’s executive experience of twenty months in Alaska is more important than Democratic presidential hopeful Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s four years of experience in the Untied States Senate. Somebody actually said it is a rarity for United States Senators to become President. It is so rare it only happened for fifteen out of the forty three men who became President with such notables as John F. Kennedy and Harry S. Truman.
The other day on his appearance on This Week with George Sephanopoulos South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham poured it on thick to convince people that Ms. Palin is a fighter against corruption and wasteful spending and will take her reputation for fiscal responsibility to the vice presidential office. In Mr. Graham’s own words, “…she had the courage to say we’re not going to do it ‘cause it’s not the right signal we want to send to everybody else in Alaska. She took on the Republican Party chairman and called him unethical. She took on the attorney general who eventually resigned because he was doing things that were inappropriate. I’m in politics. I voted against the bridge to nowhere. I was one of fourteen. Scared the heck out of me because I know what was going to come my way. I can’t imagine being the Governor of this state and telling the people who were able to secure the bridge we’re not going to do it.”
This is the prime example people want to give of evidence of Ms. Palin’s fiscal responsibility, her crusade against the bridge to nowhere. The Gravina Island Bridge, dubbed the bridge to nowhere, was a proposed bridge to cross the Tongass Narrows. The bridge was designed to be tall enough to accommodate ship traffic. The bridge was to replace the ferry that connected Ketchikan, Alaska to the Ketchikan International Airport on Gravina Island. People using the ferry had to wait as long as thirty minutes for a ferry and the charge was six dollars per vehicle per trip. The bridge was projected to cost nearly four hundred million dollars. Alaskan congressional delegates Representative Don Young and Senator Ted Stevens were the bridge’s biggest advocates and helped push for federal funding. The project became a symbol for pork barrel spending.
In October of 2005, one month after hurricane Katrina, Mr. Stevens became the subject of much criticism when he opposed diverting the funds for the Gravina Island Bridge to help aid recovery from hurricane Katrina. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma offered an amendment to the Senate’s appropriation bill to transfer over two hundred million dollars to fund the reconstruction of a bridge in hurricane ravaged Louisiana.
Congress later dropped the specific allocation for the bridge. However, there was no change in the amount of federal funds appropriated to the state of Alaska. In August 2007, the Alaskan Department of Transportation made a recommendation to cancel the bridge. In October of 2007, Ms. Palin, who once supported the bridge, cancelled the project. The money was never returned to the federal government. Although the bridge was defeated and Ms. Palin officially ended the project as Governor, it was hardly an act of outstanding courage.
A lot of people are putting their political credibility on the line to sell the American public on Ms. Palin’s leadership credentials and political ethics. But since she was revealed as Mr. McCain’s vice presidential pick, with each and every passing day she is becoming a harder pig to sell. Using her office as Governor to influence the termination of her former brother-in-law’s firing as an Alaskan state trooper, trying to hide her unwed, seventeen year old daughter Bristol’s five month pregnancy in order to sell people on her belief that abstinence only sex education works, and now that the cat’s out of the proverbial bag, she’s arranging a shotgun wedding for Bristol and the baby’s father. There are some real family values being tested on this choice.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who think that Ms. Palin is a nice person. But this isn’t a Goldie Hawn movie where we can be assured that the woman’s incompetence will work itself out before the ending credits roll. This isn’t a cast call for the sequel to Private Benjamin called Vice-President Benjamin. This is real life. The country is in serious trouble with global wars, the global economy, a resurgent Russia that is more than ready to go toe to toe with the United States, an injured economy, and much more waiting for the next President and his administration.
We need to see the selection of Ms. Palin for what it is: An indication of how superficial Mr. McCain is with his choices for important positions within his cabinet. Three years after Katrina we should remember the potential for disaster when Michael Brown was made the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The people of New Orleans, Louisiana paid a serious price before the correction could be made. The presidency and the vice presidency isn’t anything to be taken so lightly. I don’t care how hard people spin this one Ms. Palin is not someone that we can be comfortable in the Vice President’s seat. And the manifestation of such poor judgment should call into question Mr. McCain’s ability to lead this country as well.
The following is a transcript from part of the August 31, 2008 broadcast of This Week with George Stephanopoulos with guest, the less than honorable Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
George Stephanopoulos: I want to show everybody what you said about Senator McCain’s criteria for Vice President back in May. Take a look.
Lindsey Graham (on tape): He’ll pick a vice presidential nominee that he thinks will help the country if something happened to him, someone who will lead the country if something happened to him…
George Stephanopoulos: Is that the criteria Senator McCain used, someone who could lead the country if something happened to him?
Lindsey Graham: I think what he was looking for is a partner to tell a story about what he wants to do in Washington. The idea of Washington being broken is accepted by most Americans. The Congress is at 12% approval rating. Who are the 12% and what do they like? John has a reputation of being a guy pushing the institution called Congress. And Senator…excuse me…Governor Palin, what she’s done in Alaska is what we would hope to do in Washington. That’s why he picked her.
George Stephanopoulos: But is she ready to serve on day one? It sounds like you’re shifting the criteria.
Lindsey Graham: I think so. I think so. Compared to Barak Obama absolutely. She has done things that Barack Obama would never dream of. To go in her state and say I’m not going to build a bridge to nowhere. A 400 million dollar appropriation that was passed by brute force in the Congress between two senior members of the congressional delegation, very powerful figures in Washington and for her to say to the citizens of Alaska, we’re not going to do this cause this is not necessary it’s wasteful. Take on your own Republican…
George Stephanopoulos: But Senator, she turned against that only she campaigned for it in her 2006 race and turned against it in 2007 only after it became a national joke.
Lindsey Graham: Well, the point is that she had the courage to say we’re not going to do it ’cause it’s not the right signal we want to send to everybody else in Alaska. She took on the Republican Party chairman and called him unethical. She took on the attorney general who eventually resigned because he was doing things that were inappropriate. I’m in politics. I voted against the bridge to nowhere. I was one of 14. Scared the heck out of me because I knew what was going to come my way. I can’t imagine being the Governor of this state and telling the people who were able to secure the bridge we’re not going to do it.
George Stephanopoulos: But what national security experience does she have?
Lindsey Graham: She’s been a Governor. She’s been in charge of the National Guard. More than Obama. What has he done? What has he done? What has Senator Obama done in terms of managing a war? The only time he’s been involved in war is was when he voted in Iraq. He voted to cut off funding to people in the war. He opposed the surge. Said it wouldn’t work. That it would make things worse. His judgment when it comes to matters of war have been terrible. She’s tough. She’s talented. She’s ready to lead.
George Stephanopoulos: But Senator, Karl Rove and other Republicans when Governor Tim Cain was being considered said that the National Guard experience is irrelevant. That’s what President Bush said about Governor Clinton back in 1992. What do you say to this Republican delegate from Mobile, Alabama, Todd Burkhalter? He says this, “We’re in a global war. We’re in a global economy. So it is less than honest if someone says that this woman is qualified to lead America right now.”
Lindsey Graham: I would say that compared to Senator Obama she is qualified beyond belief to change the culture in Washington that is…
George Stephanopoulos: But that’s the argument that you’ve been using against Senator Obama.
Lindsey Graham: The argument I’ve been using…
George Stephanopoulos: So how does she meet the standard that John McCain is setting?
Lindsey Graham: When you look at her resume of being a Governor versus his resume of being a Senator, he’s been gone more than he’s been there. She’s been in office since 2006. She’s vetoed budgets that were excessive. She has given money back to the people of Alaska by tax cuts. She’s reformed institutions that have been incredibly broken. She’s been bold. She’s been a leader. She’s put her own political career at risk. And Senator Obama’s been gone more than he’s been here. And he’s never challenged his own party to do anything different. So John McCain is trying to tell the American people, ‘I got it. You think your government is broken? So do I. I picked somebody that knows how to fix broken governments. I picked somebody that will stand up to powerful people in her own backyard and together we’re going to change this place.’ Joe Biden is a wonderful man but there’s not a change bone in his body when it comes to budgets and spending.
George Stephanopoulos: But he does have more national security experience.
Lindsey Graham: He has more national security experience but experience and judgment need to come together. He voted against the first gulf war. He opposed the surge. He wanted to petition Iraq. I think Governor Palin has the characteristics of a leader that can take over on a moments notice. But the most qualified person to be commander in chief of all four is John McCain.
George Stephanopoulos: So Senator McCain wins and, god forbid, tragedy strikes, you’d feel confident safe and assure, a year from now.
Lindsey Graham: I would dread the day Senator Obama takes the oath to become commander-in-chief.
George Stephanopoulos: That’s not what I asked.
Lindsey Graham: Well, let me tell you, here’s my choices. My choice is to elect him, Barack Obama, who got it incredibly wrong in Iraq, who would sit down with Ahmadinejad and change the whole dynamic of the Middle East by empowering a nut and sending every wrong signal to extremists and moderates. His judgment has been terrible. Proven to be terrible. I would be proud to call her my President. I think she can step in and fill the agenda domestically and internationally that John McCain wants to set for the country. Compared to Barack Obama I think she’d make one hell of a commander-in-chief.
George Stephanopoulos: Our next guess is Senator John Kerry. I want to show you a bit of what he said at the Democratic National Convention. Take a look.
John Kerry (on tape): Senator McCain who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target has morphed into candidate McCain who has used the same Rove tactics, the same Rove staff, the same old politics of fear and smear…
George Stephanopoulos: Your response?
Lindsey Graham: I don’t know what he’s talking about. Who have we feared or smeared? We’ve run ads questioning whether or not Barack Obama is a celebrity or a leader. We’re putting questions out there about Senator Obama. What has he actually done? He’s been in the Senate since 2006, he’s been gone more than he’s been there, he’s never reached across the aisle to do one hard thing, and when it came to Iraq he went 2 and a 1/2 years without visiting the country, never sat down and talked to General Petraeus about how the surge is going, declared the surge a failure, never got engaged at all, went to Iraq because we made him go, shamed him into going, comes back and says the surge still hasn’t worked and I wouldn’t have changed my vote. So what we’ve tried to do is expose the guy for the calculating politician that he is. And Governor Palin, whether you think she’s a good choice or not, I can tell you she’s got a resume of taking on hard issues and standing up to tough people. If you could take on Ted Stevens and that crowd in Alaska then you can take on the Russians.
George Stephanopoulos: Senator Graham than you very much.
Lindsey Graham: Thank you.
I really could not believe what I was hearing. I know the good Senator from South Carolina is only doing his best to support his friend and colleague Senator John McCain with his decision to select Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. But goddamn! If someone can’t see that Mr. Graham’s responses in this interview was thick with bias and utter contempt, they must truly be pretty thick themselves.
Mr. Graham asked who did he fear and who did he smear. Well, for starters, off the top of my head, I would have to say Senator Obama. Mr. Graham talks about how much he will dread the day Mr. Obama takes the oath for President. That smells a lot like the stench of the fear of a coward. And when it comes to smear, all the comments about Mr. Obama being gone more than he’s been present in the Senate would qualify. Without supplying any facts or any numbers Mr. Graham will call to question Mr. Obama’s attendance. The man is running for the presidency after all. How does it compare to Mr. McCain’s attendance since he started his campaign for the presidency?
According to the Washington Post dot COM website, Mr. Obama does have one of the worst voting records in the United States Senate for the 110th Congress. Mr. Obama missed two hundred ninety votes with an absentee record of forty five point five percent. He has in fact been present more times than he has been absent. But if absenteeism was an Olympic event, Mr. Obama would only get the bronze medal. Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, who suffered a brain hemorrhage on December 13, 2006, and spent several months in recovery, has a worse record. It should be understandable considering what he went through. Mr. Johnson missed three hundred eleven votes with an absentee rate of forty eight point seven percent. But that only entitles Mr. Johnson for second place. The top honors for most votes missed goes to Mr. Graham’s good friend absentee king Mr. McCain who has missed four hundred seven votes making his absentee rate a substantial sixty three point eight percent. Mr. McCain’s has missed nearly two out of every three votes in the Senate. Mr. Graham is a politician so it is pointless to say that he should get his facts straight. Surely this must fall in the smear category. Please click here to verify these numbers for yourself.
The idea that the twenty month old Governor of Alaska has more experience that a four year old United States Congressional Senator (Mr. Obama has been a U.S. Senator since 2004 and not since 2006 as Mr. Graham contends) is bold faced ridiculousness at its very worst. Ms. Palin vetoed a budget that is fiscally the size of a city like Birmingham, Alabama and that gives her presidential experience? Please! The next thing we know Mr. Graham will say that because she tried to fire her sister’s Alaskan state trooper husband she has experience going after terrorist. Mr. Graham would have more credibility selling the public on the notion that Mr. Obama is indeed a Muslim hate monger.
Mr. Graham obviously doesn’t think much of his job as Senator. Mr. Graham believes that Senators don’t run the National Guard so they are incapable of obtaining military experience. Mr. Graham also believes that Senators don’t veto budgets so they can’t have any national fiscal experience. With the criteria that Mr. Graham list in his diatribe against Mr. Obama the leader of Boy Scout troop number whatever would have more experience. Maybe the people of South Carolina should rethink who they send to represent them in the United States Senate. Obviously Mr. Graham thinks any yahoo from Wasilla, Alaska could do a better job.
An hour after Sarah Palin was selected as John McCain’s running mate for the presidential nomination, I asked my friend at work how she felt about it. Since I’ve been at this current job, she’s the only person I really look forward to seeing at the office. We have sat and discussed issues pertaining to the black community in depth.
We both hate the fact that there are so many high profile black men going after white women after they have dumped the black women who have helped them. However, she didn’t see a problem with high profile black women going after white men. There are so few good black men for those high profile black women anyway. We disagreed about that issue. Why should high profile black women be given a pass to date outside the race when black men shouldn’t is pretty hypocritical.
We’re not talking about black people who just so happen to develop a relationship with non-blacks. So spare me the questions and comments about black people separating themselves. What we’re referring to are the black people who feel that there is no point in dating their own. We’re talking about black people who only date non-blacks or feel that a relationship with black people runs contrary to their interest.
We both feel that the black community needs help. She feels that black men should step up to the plate. She’s a single mother who hasn’t seen her child’s father in years. Most of her friends are single black mothers as well with children and absentee fathers. I asked her what did she see in her sperm donor. Her eyes roll back into her head as she briefly reminisces and replies with a smile on her face that the man was fine. I’ll ask was he responsible. She turned kind of sheepish and said no. So I asked her that because she made an irresponsible choice, black men are now her problem. She responded that it’s a given that black men are absent in their children’s lives. I’ll reply that it’s a given that some black men are absent in their children’s lives, but aren’t their white men absent from their children’s lives? Not like black men. Based on what? All my black girl friends are single mothers. All my brothers are active in their children’s lives. But y’all had the same upbringing so that doesn’t count. Whatever…
Anyway, an hour after it was announced I went to my friend’s desk to discuss the development. She was literally dancing in her seat. She was pressing the keys with the flair of a person who was either on illegal substances or are just on a natural high. Nevertheless, I asked if she had heard the news. Are you kidding? I am so happy. She’s got my vote! It’s a woman! She’s against abortions. It’s on! It’s on! It’s on! What about the black community and eight more years of this mess we’re in? I don’t care! What about continuing this war on terror? I don’t care! What about any other issues in this political race? I don’t care! I don’t care! I don’t care! I wanted to cry I felt so deflated. I wished her good luck and walked away.
This woman said she cared about the black community. She always said that the black community is front and center in her life. But it became painfully obvious that the black community takes second place to the female community and the community of unborn babies.
I actually thought that only idiots would be persuaded by Senator John McCain’s selection of Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. There has been so much talk about Senator Barack Obama’s inexperience from his Republican opponent. So many people talk about the first time senator having the hubris to run for President. But then the Republican who would be President picks the first time Governor from the least populated state, the former Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska with a population of less than six thousand according to the city’s last estimate, a woman who is now under investigation for trying to have her brother-in-law fired as an Alaskan state trooper as retribution for divorcing her sister in a bitter divorce and a nasty custody fight over their children, as the best choice to replace him if he is ever incapable of serving as President. This is his best choice? Talk about playing the female card or maybe the ovary card.
One of the most important decisions for the next person who will be President is the choice for who will lead the country if something were to happen to the President. Senator Obama selected Senator Joe Biden. I’m not happy about the pick. From the perspective of someone who truly cares for the black community there are much better choices. I think Governor Bill Richardson would have been a nice choice. But say what I will about Mr. Biden who could lead the country if necessary.
However, Governor Palin is not someone that is ready to lead the country if Mr. McCain is ever incapacitated. She’s probably a nice woman. I know she is family oriented. I know she’s willing to put her career on the line to avenge her sister against her former brother-in-law. She is definitely family oriented. And I can just see Ms. Palin using her experience as commander of the Alaskan National Guard to command the most powerful military force on the planet. “That state trooper that divorced my sister? Nuke’em!” If she was a man we would be questioning Mr. McCain’s sanity. But because she could do a stint as Buffy the Trooper Slayer people are actually talking about Mr. McCain’s shrewdness and boldness. If he just wanted to prove his boldness selecting Queen Latifah would’ve been an even bolder choice.
The choice of the vice presidential candidate should say a lot about the man who would be President. A Condoleezza Rice would have been a much stronger choice. Kay Baily Hutchinson would have been a better choice. I don’t care for either one but at least they have some real national political experience and isn’t just a bold choice. But unfortunately, a lot of people don’t care about those things. However, the approval of such a choice says a lot about who we are and what our priorities are. I don’t know how many people are sold on this choice. I do know at least one person who’s intensely happy about the choice and to me that’s way too many.
Labor Day is just a handful of weeks away. Earlier this year, when gas was predicted to go to four dollars a gallon by Memorial Day, I made the prediction that it would easily hit four and a half by Labor Day. Predicting the future has never been my strong suit. Just yesterday I saw the price of a gallon of gas less than three dollars and forty cents. And I wonder how I could’ve been so wrong.
In the past, the price of oil would go up if there was even the slightest, unsubstantiated threat of an altercation involving an oil producing nation. I remember the price of a gallon of gas increasing a dime because there was talk of pirates harassing an oil freighter off the coast of Africa. However, in the past week or two, Russia attacked Georgia and has damaged a significantly pipeline controlled by British Petroleum. The pipeline was shut down which should have been a significant impact to an already tight oil market. And yet, the price of oil continued to plummet.
The threat of a storm in the Gulf of Mexico could send gas up significantly. Last year, a hurricane in the gulf could raise the price of gasoline at least a nickel overnight. In the past couple of weeks there have been significant storms in the gulf. Cristobal and Dolly formed in the gulf in the past month and the price of gasoline has continued to plummet.
The price of gasoline has fallen almost seventy cents in the past few weeks despite what has happened in the past few weeks. And on my way to work tomorrow, when I look at the price of gasoline as I past the station, I would not be surprised to see that it has fallen even further.
There are a number of factors that go into the price of a gallon of gasoline or the price of a barrel of oil. It is more than just the how many storms in the gulf or how many pipelines are stopped in countries at war. Even though there is a long history of these types of events impacting the price of energy commodities by sending them into the stratosphere, the bottom line is how much somebody is willing to turn the thumb screws and make astounding sums of money off of the pain of others.
The public has responded to higher energy prices by driving less, buying more fuel efficient cars, cutting back on unnecessary expenses, and paying more attention to the energy policy of the country. It has become a political issue for us to determine who is the best candidate to lead us into the future. A lot of people who claim to have our natural environment as a top priority are ready to throw that bitch to the curb when given the choice between nature and oil.
We have a choice on offshore drilling. We can better guarantee ourselves pristine beaches or we can risk a spill that can tarnish the environment for years to come. All that talk about accidents on rigs being a thing of the past is the same talk we heard when we decided to open Alaska up to oil drilling. It was virtually impossible for an oil related accident causing significant damage to Alaska’s environment. But one drunken tanker captain later and the previously unknown tanker Exxon Valdez became a household phrase. And contrary to propaganda that shows men in hazmat suits scrubbing rocks with a toothbrush and giving oil soaked birds bubble baths, Alaska has yet to recover from the damage to Prince William Sound.
If we are ready to sacrifice our coastlines to drilling why not put a nuclear reactor in everybody’s backyard. If we can take a chance on an oil spill we might as well be willing to take a chance on a Three Mile Island meltdown.
The fact that oil refineries are already operating at maximum capacity and have to be expanded or more refineries need to be built as well falls on deaf ears. The fact that it would be at least ten years before anyone would see a drop of oil is totally ignored. And whenever all that extra oil starts coming out of those offshore rigs, every drop will go on the global market and go up for bid just like every drop does so now. The only thing offshore drilling will do is make more money for the oil companies that are already making money hand over fist. I guess with all that extra dough they have available at the moment they can afford to buy all the propaganda they need to make this thing a national issue. And in typical American fashion we fall for what sounds like the easiest and most immediate solution without getting all the facts. We will simply believe what the most propaganda tells us.
The high price of oil and gasoline has actually gotten most of us thinking about conservation and saving energy and saving money. That’s a good thing. But the same conditions that have driven us to conserve and to curb our wasteful ways have also made us so irrational that we think that all we have to do is sacrifice our coast to the oil company gods and we’ll save another ten cents per gallon at the pump. In the meantime, somebody in some room somewhere will continue pulling the real strings on how much we’re going to pay for oil and gas.
With gas prices falling we will eventually forget about four dollar gasoline. We’ll think we’re getting a relative bargain when gas gets back to three and a quarter. We’ll go back to excessive energy usage and leave the alternative energy programs for the future. Just like our future tax burden where we continue our deficit spending today so our children can pay for tomorrow, we will extract every drop of oil out of the ground now so our children can figure out energy alternatives. We have a lot of faith in our children.
Energy prices are a funny thing. We don’t know why they go up and we don’t know why they go down. All we know is that we will pay whatever we are told to pay. We really don’t have much of a choice. Unless we make the choice to continue to conserve no matter how low the price goes we will continue to always fall victim to somebody somewhere pulling the strings on gas prices and making astounding profits. But then again, I could be wrong.
I just barely remember the energy crises of the seventies. I remember sitting in long lines and queuing up to a gas pump. I remember hearing my parents and the news talk about the gasoline shortages and the effect it has on prices. I remember seeing gas stations with signs on the pumps saying that gas is limited to five gallons per customer. I remember President Jimmy Carter trying to calm the nation’s collective anxiety by saying that we are all in this together.
Back in the seventies, we could point to the oil producing nations who made a collective decision to show gas gulping nations, the United States specifically, how vulnerable they are. A new sheriff was in town and if people wanted to play then people had to pay. Oil spigots that were running at full tilt were being regularly turned off or only partially opened. There wasn’t enough oil to go around. In the first crisis, gasoline that was originally selling in the lower thirty cent range doubled in a relatively short time. When the second crisis hit, the price of a gallon of gas jumped even higher. Gas pumps weren’t designed for to charge the unheard of price of more than a dollar a gallon and for a while we were buying gasoline in liters in order to charge the higher fees. We all were being squeezed and we were being squeezed and we all were feeling pressure.
Today we have another energy crisis. Seven years ago when the Middle East was relatively stable and the value of the dollar was much stronger in the global currency market, oil was trading at something like twenty dollars a barrel. Now, oil is trading at five times that price. We have endured a five hundred percent jump in wholesale oil prices in just seven short years. That’s the kind of thing you just have to endure when you put greedy and self serving men who made and who plan to make their living on oil in the White House. The price of gas is knocking on four dollars’ door in many places around the nation. In other places the price of gas has bust through the door and haven’t looked back. Oil companies are making tens of billions of dollars in net profits and oil executives are earning grand lottery sized bonuses that rival the gross domestic product of many countries around the world. In this energy crisis, we are not in this together. The price of fuel is driving up the price of everything. While most Americans are feeling the extra burden of fuel prices, food prices, utility prices, etcetera, some Americans are doing extremely well
Earlier this week, President George Bush made the claim that one of the ways we can get our hands around this energy crisis is to open Alaska to oil exploration and drilling. Alaska is sitting on top of a multi billion barrel oil reserve that makes the oil company executives drool like Pavlov’s dog with an extraordinary salivary gland. Opening up the Alaskan wilderness would make gas cheaper and solve all of our problems. It would send a message to the oil producing countries that we are serious about this energy situation. By sacrificing Alaska we won’t have to make any changes to our living habits. We can continue buying our Escalades, Escapades, Expeditions, Hummers and Vipers. We don’t have to do anything and we can be happy knowing we have given the oil companies access to America’s last oil reserves.
The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough oil to buy. Unlike the seventies, you can take your Dodge Ram 1500 Supercrew 4X4 with the dual fuel tanks down to the local gas stations and buy as many gallons of fuel until your heart is content and your wallet is exhausted. There is no fuel shortage. The reason oil is costing so much is that there are people who are investing in oil speculation. With the dollar plummeting against other world currencies and real estate no longer being the rock solid safe investment it used to be, people with money to invest is buying up oil in order to make money and consequently keeping it from flowing freely in the two player market of suppliers and demanders. The oil market is now a three player game of suppliers, investors, and demanders. How else can we explain oil companies making their billion dollar windfalls when the rest of the country is struggling?
And perish the thought of expecting an oil company showing more environmental responsibility than absolutely necessary. No matter what environmental regulations are set the oil companies will hire a ton of lawyers, lobbyist, and environmental engineers willing to sell their souls to the highest bidder to find or create the legal loopholes to do as little as possible. Exxon/Mobile is still fighting against any further responsibility for the Valdez spill that decimated Prince William Sound. How dare the Alaskan public hold them responsible for hiring an alcoholic captain with an oil laden tanker to navigate through an environmentally sensitive area! Lord knows big oil has never given the public any reason to doubt their desire to do the right thing if an accident occurs.
Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska to the oil companies and expecting the price of energy to drop would be like opening up a chicken coop to foxes and expecting the price of chicken eggs to drop. All it would do is give a handful of people that much more oil to hoard and that much more money to make. The price of oil won’t change with the addition of more oil sources because we are not having an oil shortage. Besides, it would be years, maybe even decades, before we would see a drop of this extra oil come to market. The only message this country would be sending to the other oil producing countries would be that we refuse to make the changes to curb our gluttony for petroleum. The traditional market of supply and demand is not at play here. Don’t believe everything a fox who continues to have close ties to people in the oil business tells you.