Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Sex in the City" PS

Post Script to my review below. A piece of synchronicity.

As we were watching the movie on DVD late at night, I was sitting to my wife's left on the couch. Our two-year-old daughter was sitting to her right, because the little %^&* wouldn't go to sleep so we let her sit up with us.

At one point in the flick, I can't recall which - but it made a point about couples having to keep their passion alive through all the day-to-day stuff.

So I siddled up close to my lady and kissed her passionately.

If I were still a smoker, that's when I'd have leaned back and lit up.

So I looked over, and there on the other side of her was a blond, curly-headed angel with her face turned up, eyes closed, lips puckered up, waiting to be kissed.

So of course, I had to lean across my wife and kiss her too.

Then I started to laugh. Doesn't that say it all about what happens to love among the grown-ups?

Some of you know exactly what I mean.

As for the rest of you, be patient. With any luck, you will.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Sex in the City" and Auntie Mame

We watched the movie "Sex in the City" last night, from Netflix.

My wife has followed the series throughout, and I've watched it from time to time with her to fill me in on the backstory.

I'm not outraged by it, as some conservatives are. But by and large, I just don't feel any connection to these people and their problems, trials and tribulations. They just don't seem like my kind of people, living the kind of life me and my friends live.

Of course, that's precisely the attraction the series must have had for some folks. Those of us who don't have the finances covered to the point they don't have to worry about paying for those up-scale New York apartments and lunches in tony restaurants, can concentrate on relationship issues to the exclusion of all else, and drop everything to get together with their buds whenever.

Would be nice if we could all be secure enough to concentrate on the art of living.

So at the end, Carrie marries Mr. Big. She's 40, and you don't get the idea they'll have children, and that's probably a good thing. Carrie is a perfectly sweet honorary aunt to Charlotte's lovely adopted Chinese daughter, which is a part-time job. "Parent" is not something you can switch on and off, and frankly, Carrie and Big stike me as being a bit too self-absorbed to make room in their life for kids.

Charlotte is happily married and finally gets pregnant after being an adoptive mother for five years.

I have got to mention that adoption as a "priming the pump" phenomenon is well-known, though little understood, but many adoption agencies specifically screen childless couples who they think are motivated by this.

Miranda and Steve have a bad patch when Steve, frustrated by lack of noogie, confesses to a one-night stand.

Even Dear Abbie used to say, if you slip, don't make that mistake again, bury it quietly and don't burden your partner with your guilt.

Miranda puts him through hell for six months before she takes him back. Serves him right perhaps - but there's a kid involved who has to go through this too, and there is zero time in the movie devoted to his perspective.

Smoking Samantha finds that monogamy is not for her, and dumps the much younger hunk who stuck with her through her chemo.

"You just compared him to chemo!" Charlotte observes.

Samantha frankly confesses that she's much more into "me", than "us."

Good for Samantha, at least she didn't pretend. Some women should not try to settle down, and men should not try to domesticate such.

Of course, she's 50, and though fabulous still, how long is that going to last? Samantha is going to grow old very lonely, one suspects. Though perhaps as another honorary aunt to Charlotte's (now) two girls, she'll be a super and much-adored source of worldly wisdom for them as they grow into young women.

How Charlotte is going to feel about this when they start to bloom...

At any rate, I rather enjoyed the movie as light entertainment. Something was nagging at my memory though, and I only realized what this morning.

It was Auntie Mame.

Auntie Mame was a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis. It was fiction, though strongly based on his freewheeling aunt Marion Tanner.

It was made into a movie with Rosalind Russel in 1958, then into a Broadway musical with a fabulous score, and filmed with Lucille Ball in 1974.

Camille Paglia said of it, "Auntie Mame is the American Alice in Wonderland. It is also, incidentally, one of the most important books in my life. Its witty Wildean phrases ring in my mind, and its flamboyant characters still enamor me. Like Tennessee Williams, Patrick Dennis caught the boldness, vitality, and iridescent theatricality of modern American personality. In Mame's mercurial metamorphoses we see American optimism and self-invention writ large."

That indeed we do. Some years back I got the chance to read it, and it's what she said alright. There is real affection in it for the unconventional auntie who eats life like there was no tomorrow.

What Camille doesn't seem to see however, is there's a real pissed-off kid in the story too.

Auntie Mame didn't choose to have kids, but got two dumped on her by the death of her brother. And while she's often a fun aunt, she's also an irresponsible flibertygibbet who just can't seem to freakin' grow up when that awsome responsibility gets dumped in her lap.

And incidentally, I've read that the real Marion Tanner did not like her fictional counterpart one bit.

I wonder, is this America? Bold, optimistic, self-inventing - and not really very responsible about our children's future?

I mean hey, what did future generations ever do for us?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freddie Mac deserves a kick in the Fannie

Note: This appeared as an op-ed in the weekend issue of the Valley City Times-Record.

I'm so excited about getting a chance to help bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG and SOB!

I can't wait to see my dividend checks. Once they're all on their feet and profitable again, I think I'm going to retire and move to Florida.

What's that you say? No dividends?

Well never mind then.

A great deal of nonsense has been written about the collapse of the largest sub-prime mortgage lenders and insurer.

Fortunately, there's been a fair amount of sense written too.

Unfortunately, neither of the presidential candidates are reading it – or are choosing to ignore it.

For one thing, it's not a “failure of the free market.” There is nothing “free market” about subsidizing failure.

For another, it's not even criminal. Pretty much all of what happened was perfectly legal and a result of deliberate policy duly enacted by congress from the highest motives.

Neither was it unforeseen. Among others, Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman and Chris Cox, current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission both warned for some time the situation with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Once upon a time, John McCain did too, but he seems to have forgotten that and is now calling for Cox's job, blaming the whole mess on Cox and the rampant greed of Wall Street.

But the fact is, it's less a matter of rampant greed than rampant stupidity.

Many people more knowledgeable about economics than I have explained this, but the underlying reasons are not hard to understand.

The fact is, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are dying because they are mistakes of nature that were never meant to live.

Fannie and Freddie are hybrid monsters, part corporation and part government agency. When they are making money, they're private. When they're hemorrhaging money, they're public. It's been called, “the privatization of profit and the socialization of loss.”

These are, how shall we say? Not the optimum conditions for encouraging good business judgment.

Fannie and Freddie are the major holders of “sub-prime” mortgages, by deliberate policy.

Apparently the diversity commissars have determined that we shall never have a “diverse” society until the demographics of every diverse group in America are exactly the same. Hence the mandating of extending home loans, on terms Donald Trump couldn't get, to "underserved" populations.

“Sub-prime” is code for “probably can't pay it back.”

“Underserved” is code for... you know darned well what it's code for. And the pity of it all is, African-American economists Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are tearing their hair with frustration trying to point out that with this kind of “help,” minorities hardly need enemies.

Worse, though set up by the government, with implicit government guarantees against failure, Fannie and Freddie are allowed to make massive contributions to political candidates. Giving them, in effect, a license to buy congress.

Does anyone else see how seriously weird this is?

McCain could point out one of Obama's advisors is Franklin Raines, multi-millionaire former head of Fannie Mae.

Obama could point out one of McCain's economic advisors is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office, who stonewalled attempts by Cox to bring some kind of accountability to the office.

Republicans could point out a bill to more strictly regulate Fannie and Freddie passed the Senate Banking Committee in 2005, but was defeated by a Democratic congress on strict party-line vote.

And Democrats could point out it's a Republican president who is trying to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on life-support, at a price approaching a trillion dollars and essentially socializing Wall Street, instead of taking the monsters out behind the barn and killing them with an ax.

So now they're fighting about who's to blame for this mess, and who should be trusted to fix it. But whoever wins, we know who's going to lose.

America. You and me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin's emails revealed!

OK, go here http://gawker.com/5051193/sarah-palins-personal-emails

And I'll even throw in Troopergate, go to Mother jones here:


Back now?

OK, anyone notice something?

There's nothing there. The Gawker stuff is a lot of really innocuous private email correspondence and family photos, amounting to...?

Yet Gawker is displaying them with an air of breathless suspense, "See this! It proves she's rotten to the core!"

And by the way, somebody got them by hacking into her personal email account.

(Hey I just realized something. These people really are scum.)

Mother Jones is on a bit better footing - but not much.

What they've done is ignore an obvious and simple explanation in favor of a convoluted one.

Sarah Palin fired a guy. She first offered him a face-saving sideways shuffle, and when he wouldn't go for it, she apparantly allowed him a face-saving "resignation." The first time she had to go on record about it, she tried hard not to say in public, "I fired the guy because he was insubordinate, incompetent and couldn't bring himself to get rid of a state trooper who drank on the job, threatened to kill people and illegally discharged firearms from a vehicle."

This is very thin stuff. However it is worth going to the site, because you do get to see that pic of Smoking-hot Sarah in a skirt leaning against a motorcycle, in front of a log cabin no less!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Why we "cling" to our guns and religion

OK, I suppose it shows how little interest I've had in this election, until Smoking-hot Sarah entered the race, but it's just now occured to me what bothers me about an Obamagaff made a political eternity ago (or several weeks in normal-people time).

That one about how we in "flyover country" (not his formulation) "cling to our guns and religion."

Something about it was bothering me in a way I couldn't quite define until now.

It's this, you only "cling" to something someone is trying to take away from you.

The remark itself presupposes that guns should be taken away from people, and religion evicted from the public sphere. Specifically, small-town America kind of people.

This of course, is not a new issue. I could go into why guns are part of the fabric of life in western small-town America: hunting and fishing are very popular hereabouts, guns are actual tools for farmers, rural people often live quite far from even the fastest response time for law enforcement, etc.

But I won't.

The reason we "cling" to our guns, or (for those of us who may not actually have any at home) our right to have guns, is that we don't trust you.

Yes you. All of you right-thinking, "progressive," "compassionate," "liberals" who are "always on the right side of social issues" (George Clooney.)

Your motives, so you say, are the best. I actually have my doubts, but I'll concede for the sake of charity.

Your methods are totalitarian. And you regard us, people who don't think like you, as in the way of what you regard as "progress."

The first you may dismiss as my opinion. The second you cannot, because you say so yourselves at any opportunity.

And I'm not going by the rhetoric of politicians, but personal conversations with any number of left ideologues who are not politicians, and thus far more honest in their publicly expressed opinions.

And as to religion, well I don't personally have an opinion on religious dogma I'd stick a finger in a match for, but more and more it is bothering me that the expression of the sincere beliefs of good people who are my friends and neighbors, are being restricted and mocked in the public sphere.

The reasons my neighbors "cling" to their religion, are their own. I don't know them, because I don't share them, but I can speculate.

1) Culture, the continuity with the past that lead to what we are - which assumes that we are by-and-large happy with what we are.

Whatever I may, or may not believe, I like being part of Judeo-Christian culture.

"Honor the stranger that is within thy gates, for once you were slaves in the land of Egypt."

"Whither thou goest, I will go. Whither thou lodgest, I will lodge. And thy people will be my people, and thy god, my god."

"Do any here condemn thee? Then neither do I. Go thy way and sin no more."

These are the thoughts that shaped the ethics and customs of my people. You could certainly do worse - and many have.

2) Morality. I may have problems with ethics that are handed down unquestioned from On High, but the fact is, (with apologies to my Objectivist friends) I haven't found a satisfactory philosophical basis for ethics that is not centered in religion either.

I've seen atheist individualists go into the most amazing (and amusing) intellectual contortions to justify, not bad behavior, but good behavior that they know deep inside to be right!

I'm not saying that someone won't eventually come up with such, but how much you want to bet it'll be intellectually accessible to the vast majority of folks who aren't philosophers?

3) Existential pain. We're going to die. Every last one of us. And the one thing that separates us from the animals is that we know this, even when we're not in mortal danger. We know this, on some level, at every waking moment from the time we first realize our mortality.

We're going to leave all the people we love, and worse, some of them are going to leave us first.

Not everyone can live with this, without the belief that it'll be made right somewhere in the hereafter.

Is this belief a myth, crutch for those who can't look reality in the face?

So what do you call someone who goes around kicking crutches out from under people; a fearless seeker of the Truth, or a bloody sadist?

And more and more these days, I've had my nose rubbed in the observation* that, "When men no longer believe in God, they do not believe in nothing - they believe in anything."

Can anyone doubt this when confronted by academics who "cling to" Marxism, and the religion of Statism, after all the experience of the 20th century?

Or just listen to the New Age babble of the "progressive" non-traditional churches.

This is what you would substitute for what you so plainly regard as our irrational superstition?

The answer from the heartland, is "No!"

And in case you don't hear it, or are not willing to listen, well that's another reason we "cling to" our guns.

*Attributed to Chesterton, though apparantly no one can find it in the corpus of his published works.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where were you?

It is said every generation has their own defining moment, the moment they ask each other about, “Where were you when you heard...?”

For the baby boom generation it was, “Where were you when you heard President Kennedy had been shot?”

For their parents generation it was, “Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?”

And for this generation of young adults, it is, “Where were you on 9/11 when you heard about the Twin Towers?”

I was in my apartment in Warsaw, Poland with my wife. We were expecting the birth of our first child in two weeks.

We were watching something on TV I can't recall, when my sister-in-law called and said, “Turn to CNN right now!”

We changed the channel and saw the first tower smoking.

Of course I thought terrorism, but I told myself, “It could be an accident,” because I remembered that in 1945, a B-25 bomber had crashed into the Empire State Building.

Then we saw the second plane hit the other tower.

“It's terrorism,” I said.

That's when I knew my son was not going to grow up in a world at “the end of history.”

That's when I stopped joking about it and determined we would name him “George Washington Browne.”

And that's when the idea came into my mind that I should return to America and get serious about studying journalism.

Where were you on 9/11/2001?

* See http://history1900s.about.com/od/1940s/a/empirecrash.htm

Monday, September 08, 2008

Revolution on film, part 2: The Singing Revolution

“One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.”

Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

What do you get when one of the smallest nations in the world is completely absorbed into the biggest, most ruthless empire in the world, and tries to get its independence back with only song for weapons?

Not to mention that the occupying power has colonized the tiny country to the point that they now amount to forty percent of the population.


What do you get when obscure indie film makers with limited funds, and word-of-mouth publicity, make a documentary about a country not one in a hundred Americans could find on a map, and a musical score that is entirely a capella choral singing in a language not one American in a thousand has even heard?

Possibly the best documentary film ever made.

Here: http://www.singingrevolution.com/cgi-local/content.cgi?pg=1

you may request that it be brought to your area.

I just saw it in a beautifully restored theater, vintage 1926 in Fargo. I also saw the aftermath of the The Singing Revolution in Estonia in the early 90s, shortly after independence.

This is not just a stunning video experience, but a video textbook on how a successful revolution against overwhelming odds is managed.

The lesson I saw in The Singing Revolution was, "many strategies - one goal."

The Estonian resistance was run on many competing fronts. From the radicals, lead by people like Mart Laar (a friend of a friend, and a staunch Milton Friedmanite, I'm dying to meet him), to moderates who the radicals scared to death, to members of the Estonian Communist Party who "worked within the system."

But what motivated them all was independence for Estonia - and when the opportunity presented itself, they seized it and voted for independence unanimously.

What brought them together, year after year, was the national song festival, attended by from 20,000 to 30,000 people every four years.

First co-opted by the Soviets and made to sing endless verses of "The International" and "Hymn of the Soviet Union," they spontaneously began to sing their own songs in their own tongue, most notably "Estonia, land of my fathers, land that I love" which became the unofficial national anthem of the nation that lived only in their hearts.

The film is a documentary of immense historical importance - and keeps you glued to your seat with white-knuckled suspense.

When fighting was breaking out down south in Vilnius, Lithuania (I have friends who were there) and the hard-line Communists were staging the coup in Moscow that brought Boris Yeltsin to the attention of the world, a column of Soviet tanks headed for the Estonian TV tower to stop broadcasts by the newly proclaimed government of Free Estonia.

Two Estonian cops prepared to defend the tower by themselves.

Even Horatius had two comrades by his side at the bridge!

How they planned to defend the tower, was to activate the fire extinguishing system, flooding the tower with freon gas, displacing the oxygen and killing everyone inside - including themselves.

And what does it say about a system that would design and put in place a fire-extinguishing system that would deliberately extinguish all life within the structure?

A system which held the equipment in the building more valuable than the lives.

And against all odds, all hope, they won. The Soviets backed down, and in Moscow Boris Yeltsin declared that Russia was seceding from the Soviet Union!

As the film ends, the credits roll and the singing swells the air. And if you can leave the theater without tears filling your eyes, you have my pity, because you have no soul.

And the thought that went through my head as I left the theater was, "Screw you and Realpolitik Pat Buchanan, if we let this nation die, ours doesn't deserve to live."

Go see it, ask it be brought to your area. Buy the DVD when it comes out. (They're holding back until they make their money back on the theatrical release.)

Tell everyone about it, buy it for presents. Never forget what they did - someday your own freedom may depend on it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Revolution on film, part 1: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Note: Tomorrow I'm going to Fargo (an hour's drive) to see "The Singing Revolution," about the non-violent struggle for independence in Estonia.

I'm eager to see it, because for one I've been to Estonia, shortly after independence and liked it very much.

For another, I'm interested because you wouldn't have expected a non-violent revolution to prevail against the Soviet Union, and I want to see what the conditions and process were like.

And, I'd like to share their joy at their independence while it lasts.

The omens are... not as good as they might be. The people of the Baltic states have always lived with the realization that a hiccup of history could wipe their nation and culture out - forever.

Anyone remember the Lusatians? Or that the original Prussians were a Slavic people, exterminated by the Teutonic Knights and ancestors of the present-day "Prussians"?

At any rate, I've been thinking about revolution lately. How it's portrayed in art, and how it's viewed by people in the middle of revolutionary conditions - and by romantic idiots from afar.

And, full disclosure, because I recently had an exchange with a friend and comrade, who is the real thing in an honest-to-god police state, about our mutual disgust with pompous phonies in America and western Europe who fancy themselves "revolutionaries" rebelling against the "fascist police state" of America.

We recently rented "The Wind that Shakes the Barley," from Netflix, and followed it up with the entire set of "John Adams."

TWTSTB is about the Irish revolution, and subsequent civil war. The title is from a hauntingly beautiful (and sappily sentimental that's the Irish contradiction) song of rebellion.*

The Irish actor Cillian Murphy, from "Batman Begins" and "Sin City," plays Damien, an Irishman about to leave Ireland to go to England to seek work. He has a brother Teddy, who is committed to the struggle for Irish independence.

Damien is playing hurley with friends when a squad of English soldiers arrives at a run and reminds them that gatherings of more than a certain number of people are illegal under martial law - including games.

They make the men assume the position against a farmyard wall, strip and give their names. One man, scarsely more than a boy, defiantly gives his name in the Irish.

The soldiers take exception and get rough. The boy throws a punch at the sergeant, so they take him into a chicken coop, tie him to a post, and beat him to death.

Damien later exclaims in despair, why did he die? Because he wouldn't give his name in English.

Then at the train station, he sees soldiers beat the locomotive engineer and a conductor because they're striking and won't move the train with soldiers on board.

The next scene we see is Damien taking the oath of the IRA.

I don't want to give any more spoilers than necessary, because I'd really like to recommend this movie, but the sequence goes:

The rebellion escalates. We see men training - seriously. As in boot camp seriously, not hanging around parlours and talking revolution.

Undertaking actions: men with pistols surprise police in their station and warn them "If any more prisoners "fall down the stairs" you will be shot."

Then they do shoot some English officers.

Damien and Teddy fight together and are arrested. Teddy endures torture without talking. They escape together and grow into experienced revolutionary soldiers.

Then they have to shoot one of their own.

A blameless and somewhat simple young man, is coerced into talking by threats against his mother. They take him and the enemy who called the Black and Tans on him into the country. Damien, a life-long friend of his, has to shoot him with a pistol.

The logic of this is inescapable. In a real revolution you have to, have to, execute informers, whateve reasons they may have had, or the coercion they may have suffered.

And someone had to do it up close and personal, without the luxury of a firing squad, because bullets are a precious commodity.

The boy says, "Don't bury me with him," nodding his head at the enemy.

Damien says, "I hope this Ireland we're fighting for is worth it," and pulls the trigger.

And then he tells his girlfriend/comrade how he had to tell the boy's mother, his life-long neighbor, what happened to her child.

As the revolution gains momentum, we see conflict between the fighters, and the political officers building a parallel state with law courts - and socialist ideas of redistribution.

Then they win, and the civil war begins.

To this day, the two major political parties of Ireland, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, are composed of descendants of men who fought on opposite sides of the Irish Civil War.

And what was the war fought over?

Whether the Irish Free State, which required, albeit reluctantly, an oath of allegiance to the British King, was the legitimate government of Ireland.

Understand, nobody liked the idea of the oath. Forming the Irish Free State, Saorstát Éireann, was a question of taking what they could get at the time - and it was quite a lot. They had complete independence in pretty much everything, with only a face-saving gesture for England of remaining nominal subjects of King George in a British "dominion."

In the fullness of time, they got rid of that too, without another war, and became Éire.

But in the meantime, they killed each other about it.

By this time one of the brothers has "lost his soul," and the film lets you make up your mind about which one it is.

So was this Ireland they fought for worth it?


That's the question every revolutionary has to answer. That and, was there any other way to get it without the terrible price?

*The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(tune: think slow like a dirge, speeding up in the first line of the first verse, the second lines of verses 2&3, and the first line of verse 4.)

I sat within the valley green, I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove the two between, the old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen, and shook the golden barley

'Twas hard though awful words to frame, to break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame, of foreign chains around us
And so I said the mountain glen, I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold united men, while soft winds shook the barley

While sad I kissed away her tears, my fond arms round her flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears, from out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side, in life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died, while soft winds shook the barley

But blood for blood without remorse, I've taken at Oolart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay-cold corpse, where I full soon may follow
As round her grave I wandered drear, noon night and morning early
With breaking heart whenere I hear, the wind that shakes the barley

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Note: A slightly different version of this appeared as an op-ed in the Valley City Times-Register.

When I heard Obama had chosen Joe Biden as his running mate, the thought that popped into my mind was, "He's given away the election."

When I read about Sarah Palin, my thought was, "The canny old bastard has cinched the election."

A week is a lo-o-o-ong time in an election cycle, but the furious, no-class, foaming-at-the-mouth reaction of the Looney Left convinces me they sense terrible danger to their cause.

George Bush has always struck me as the big guy who takes the punches and kicks of the mob and shrugs it off.

This babe fights back. My God how she fights back.


For the first time in this election cycle, I'm not bored with the whole thing.

Politically, I'm a registered Cynic and thus strictly impartial. I despise both parties impartially. I despise Republicans for betraying their principles and Democrats for living up to theirs.

Then McCain went and nominated Sarah Palin for his VP candidate and suddenly it's interesting. Now it's chiasmus.

For those of you who missed my presentation on linguistic humor at the museum last Thursday, chiasmus (ki-AS-mus) is a term in rhetoric. It's Greek and it means “criss-cross.”

Chiasmus can be on the word, syllable or even the concept level.

A sublime example is Winston Churchill's condemnation, “You were given a choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor, you will have war.”

See the criss-cross? War-dishonor/dishonor-war.

From the sublime word to the syllabic ridiculous, “I'd rather have a free bottle in front of me, than a pre-frontal lobotomy.”

But I digress.

What we have in the two party tickets is:
inexperienced-experienced/experienced-inexperienced. Chiasmus!

Barack Obama has served less than one term in the senate, most of which he has essentially spent running for president. He's voted “present” 130 times, which I believe is a record of some sort.

Before that he served eight years in the Illinois state senate.

Joe Biden was elected to the senate in 1972, at the constitutional minimum age of 30 and has been there ever since. If that's not a record, it's up there on a short list.

McCain was elected to congress (first in the House of Representatives) in 1982, so Biden has ten years on him. Probably doesn't matter though, after 10 to 20 years in congress you're probably as pickled in Potomac tidewater brine as you're going to get. And there's that career as a Naval officer beforehand too.

And now, there's Sarah Palin. Not quite through one term as governor of a geographically large but underpopulated state, and before that 10 years as a small-town city councilperson and mayor.

Folks, before McCain picked her, I'd never even heard of Sarah Palin.

This must be inspiring to small town city councilpersons everywhere.

As is to be expected, people are arguing back-and-forth on this.

Democrats say Palin administered a city little larger than the Mall of America and governed a state with a population smaller than many of our major cities. Just a little larger than North Dakota in fact.

Republicans say Palin is actually the only candidate on either ticket with actual experience as an executive, as opposed to legislator, and, she's been a businesswoman as well.

There's McCain military experience of course, but that's a different thing. Military officers give orders, they don't persuade, cajole, and make compromises with subordinates. And military experience at that level has little or nothing to do with controlling costs, maximizing profits, making payroll and all that business-related stuff.

And here is why I'm absolutely gobsmacked. I've thought all along that Obama was going to win, for a number of reasons, chief among them that an awful lot of Americans just want to show the world we are so over that racist thing.

I also thought he'd repeat the Carter story and be a one-term president – if the Republicans had an even marginally Reaganesque figure to run next time.

I also thought that even if McCain were elected, he'd be a one-term president, for reasons of age.

Yes, I know Reagan was pretty old too. But Reagan didn't spend five-and-a-half years being worked over by the North Vietnamese every day, and we've all seen how that job ages a man.

So, McCain wins, Palin runs next time. After four years of on-the-job training.

Obama wins by a narrow margin, who are the Republicans going to run against him four years from now?

Ladies and gentlemen, from the great state of Way-the-heckout, I give you the next-to-next President of the United States!


UPDATE: From Dick Morris,

"But the Fox News poll of Sept. 8-9 indicates a deeper reality of Palin's popularity. On the question of which of the four candidates best understands what day-to-day life is like in America, Palin finished first, with 33 percent. (Obama drew 32 percent, McCain 17 percent and Biden 10 percent.)"


VP beats P candidate
P beats VP

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mountain sculpture

Over the Labor Day weekend I took the family to South Dakota to see the the Crazy Horse memorial and Mt. Rushmore.

I told my wife, "You've got to see the American art form of mountain sculpture."

So new we've seen two of them, now we only need Stone Mountain, Georgia.

We started Friday afternoon and stayed in a motel that night. We made it to the KOA at Custer, SD, set up the tent and caught the Crazy Horse tour, ate at the Laughing Water restaurant (delicious buffalo stew - and they didn't price gouge even though they could have.) Then we caught the evening Lakota dance show and laser light show against the mountain.

Monika was blown away, and so was I.

I saw it 21 years ago, when the mountain didn't have any shape that even suggested a human figure.

Now it has a face, and I have to say if they never did another lick of work on it, it would still be impressive.

Next day we took in Mt. Rushmore - and I've got to say it was a bit anti-climactic after Cray Horse.

And of course, what kind of libertarian would I be if I failed to mention that Crazy Horse is being constructed entirely through private funds?

The family of the crazy Polack that started the project has actually turned down offer of millions of dollars from the fed, just to keep their independence.

We drove back a different route through the Black Hills, the first 100 miles took about a third of the trip.

No regrets. My wife said, "You have my permission to get a job in the mountains."