Monthly Archives: September 2008

Panic mode: Palin can’t even tell us what news she reads

Panic: a sudden overpowering terror, often affecting many people at once.

We thought Katie Couric’s interview with Sarah Palin about the proximity of Russia was scary. Try this part of the interview on for size.  The woman can’t even name a single newspaper or magazine that she reads! This should bring us all to a state of panic. What if McCain/Palin are elected?? What if he dies????

Here’s part of the transcript, but you should watch the whole thing.

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

She could at least have answered the Anchorage Daily News and Newsweek…

OK. maybe the Wasilla Gazette and the church newsletter.

Putting down a pet: Fritz 1991-2008 RIP

“Put down”: a euphemism for euthanize, “mercy” kill.

Pet: an animal kept for amusement or companionship; one who’s especially loved or cherished.

Fritz, our elegant tuxedo cat, came to us from a local organization of cat lovers who foster feral animals until homes are found for them.  He was six weeks old, beautiful and skittish.

At the time, our youngest son, Wylie, was 9 and effectively an only child because his brother and sister were off at college.  He was the one who domesticated Fritz, and for a long time was the only one Fritz would allow to pick him up.

Wylie not only could pick him up, but as the cat reached full size he wore him draped around his neck like a mink, used him as a fifteen pound free-weight for overhead lifts, and spun him on the oak floor like in spin-the-bottle. Fritz loved it.

Here he is last winter on Wylie’s head. Can’t find any mink pix right now.

He had some quirks. He drank by scooping the water out of his dish and licking it from his paw. I quickly learned I couldn’t leave fresh flowers arranged in a low bowl because he’d knock the flowers out as he pawed out the water. And of course he left splattered water everywhere. He also scooped his food out of his bowl onto the floor. You could say he was something of a slob.

When we lived out in the country Fritz exercised his hunting skills on a daily basis. As B. Kliban wrote:

Love to eat them mousies,
Mousies what I love to eat.
Bite they little heads off.
Nibble on they tiny feet.”

But he was a picky hunter. When he caught a vole, instead of eating it, he would deliver it to us intact (dead).  One afternoon he must have found a whole vole family because he brought us three of them. Wylie, in an act of macabre whimsy, arranged them on his dad’s computer – one peering over the top of the monitor, one looking up at it, and one on the keyboard – with a sign: “Fritz’s Action Figures.”

When Wylie went off to college, my ex and I separated, I bought a house closer to town and brought Fritz with me.  Gradually we became good friends – at least at night. During the day he pretended he didn’t know me, unless he was hungry, wanted to go out, or felt like talking.  He was an excellent conversationalist, with a full vocabulary of different sounds, which we traded back and forth. When you live alone, it’s much more seemly to talk to a cat than to yourself (though I confess to doing both).

At night though, he transformed into Loverboy. His favorite place to sleep was on my face or curled up in the crook of my neck. Sweet as this was, it usually triggered my asthma so I’d have to move him over to his side of the bed.

My doctor always rolled his eyes when I told him I was still wheezy. “Are you going to shut your bedroom door so the cat can’t come in?” he’d ask. He knew it was a silly question – you don’t kick a family member out of your bed!

Ten days ago, Wylie moved back home to regroup financially after an expensive three years trying to break into the film industry in LA.  Fritz was so happy to have him back. But he clearly was slowing down. In fact a couple of days ago he stopped eating and his conversations were more like complaints. He didn’t want to walk more than a few feet. When Wylie put him in the cat carrier (normally a two-person job) to take him to the emergency vet he just lay there.

A 17-year-old cat is a very old cat. The vet said he was cold and so dehydrated it would take a couple of days in hospital on IV fluids and heat just to bring him up to normal – and then we’d still have to deal with whatever was wrong. $1500 for starters.

We conferred and decided that it was time to say goodby to Fritz.  We were ushered into the “Comfort Room” – complete with chintz sofa, flowers, soothing black and white photos of misty landscapes on the wall.  Fritz snuggled between us on the sofa, unfazed, unpurring, seemingly peaceful with whatever lay ahead while Wylie and I wept and stroked him.

A few minutes later, the doctor came in and gave him the injection – and Fritz left.

Even though it was midnight by the time we got home, we buried him in the yard by his favorite sunning spot.

Dear sweet Fritz.  Rest in peace.

Paul Newman passes on: another fine Unitarian

Paul Newman lived in my home town of Westport, Connecticut. I’m told he was a member of the Unitarian church I grew up in, though I left the east coast so long ago I never encountered him there.   But I do remember going to see a play at the high school about 20 years ago when I was home visiting my parents. I was in the lobby during intermission and turned around to find myself eyeball to very blue eyeball with the man himself.  Whoa!

Newman and his wife, Joanne Woodward, were huge supporters of the drama department at Staples High School – my alma mater – they were among the wealthy Westporters who donated a buttload of money to help create a dynamite theatre department at the school.

The new high school theater is AMAZING. My class got a tour of it when we were back for a reunion in August.   A professional-grade theater plus a black-box theatre. At a public high school!

Westport loved Paul Newman. Many charitable organizations loved Paul Newman. The Democratic party loved Paul Newman. His wife, Joanne Woodward, certainly did – they were married for a long long time. My sympathy goes out to his wife and his kids.

From Popular to Pitiable: Palin’s pathetic Couric interview

Popular: widely liked or appreciated.

Pitiable: arousing or deserving of compassion, lamentable.

Pathetic: pertaining to, expressing or arousing pity; distressing and inadequate.

Palin’s ratings are plummeting as the public gets to see more of her. Well, we’re not seeing a lot more, since she’s only granted interviews to Charlie Gibson and now Katie Couric (four weeks since her nomination announcement!).

What I’ve seen of the Couric interview(s?) is a disaster. Palin is inarticulate, weasely, and seems incapable of actually answering a question.  My personal response to her vacillates from horror, to amusement, to disbelief, to WTF?, and now even to pity.

WHAT was the McCain campaign thinking (drinking?) when they chose her for VP?  Were they so cynical about the smarts of the American people to think we wouldn’t notice her critical failings?  Did the Republicans just make her a pawn in their political game? If this is the case, I feel sorry for her.

However, Palin has had presidential aspirations since she was elected mayor of Wasilla (wish I could find that cite), so to be offered a crack at the VP slot by an old duffer (with a 30% chance of dying in office) played right into her ambitions. Even so,  if she had even an ounce of self-knowledge, she would have recognized that she was not yet ready and said, “Thanks but no thanks…. ask me again in four years after I’ve done a lot more traveling, reading, governing, learning, thinking.”

But she jumped at the chance, “Didn’t even blink!”  Sarah the Unready.  So I say, “Honey, you chose this bed. Now sleep in it.

Here are a couple of transcript tidbits from the Couric interview. Tell me if you understood what she was saying:

Proximity to Alaska:

COURIC: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land– boundary that we have with– Canada. It– it’s funny that a comment like that was– kind of made to– cari– I don’t know, you know? Reporters–

COURIC: Mock?

PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.

PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our– our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They’re in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia–

COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We– we do– it’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is– from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to– to our state.

Bailout and Health Care

COURIC: Why isn’t it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries? … Instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy– Oh, it’s got to be about job creation too. So health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions.

Prevaricate: Paulson edition

Vocabulary review time. We may have to review these words more often than I’d like:

Prevaricate:v. to stray from or evade the truth

Paulson: megalomaniac ex Goldman Sachs CEO, now Chancellor of the Exchequer (known in the US as Secretary of the Treasury).

Henry Paulson wants Congress to rubber stamp his three-page Wall Street bailout plan. It includes this paragraph that couldn’t be clearer:

Sec. 8. Review. Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

In other words: I AM KING.   But when questioned he realizes we don’t really like that kind of language in the US of A. Now he says:


P.S. Palin, Obama and the Jungian Shadow. Deepak Chopra part 2

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about Deepak Chopra’s important essay on Palin, Obama and the Jungian Shadow archetype. Because he got such a huge response to that essay, he went further last week.

How could the mentality of a small-town mayor morph into a potential President making global decisions? To explain her meteoric rise, I offered the idea that each of us harbors a shadow, a place where our hidden impulses live. By appealing to fear, resentment, hostility to change, suspicion of “the other,” and similar dark impulses, the Republicans have been the shadow’s party for a long time. Sarah Palin put a smiling face on feelings that normally we feel ashamed of.

The shadow is irrational; it thrives on gut emotions. (A recent Fox News poll ran with the headline, “In their gut, independents choose McCain.”) Bringing the 2008 campaign down to the gut level means bringing it down to the level of the shadow. Instead of listening to an intelligent, persuasive, charismatic man with one African-American parent, people get to say, “I just don’t like blacks. They’re scary; they’re not like me. It’s a gut thing.” Only it’s not. It’s a shadow thing that each of us, not just the right wing, must deal with. Reacting to Palin with fear, confusion, panic, and lashing out also comes from the shadow.

-snip-

The Democrats were triggered by Palin because they fear losing and that fear runs deep. The bogeymen that frighten us the most come from a primitive level; they stir a sense of childish helplessness. But your mature self, like Obama’s campaign organization, is coherent and knows how to carry out its purpose. Realize that American politics has been dominated by shadow issues for decades, so it’s only natural they still have claws and teeth. But their game has gotten old and tired. If you are able to see past the appeal to fear and resentment, have trust that other people can, too.

The bottom line is that the 2008 election isn’t about change versus experience or a noble candidate who may lose to one who plays dirty. This election is about consciousness. Since the Reagan revolution, consciousness has been sleepy and dull in politics; ideals have been tarnished by cynicism; inner decay has sapped the party in power of its original purpose, leaving only a pointless morass of defensiveness that expresses itself in negativity. If the majority of the electorate wakes up and feels inspired to turn the page, that will happen. Obama has sounded the call; few people missed the message. Now it’s a matter of dealing with a phase of fear and resistance before we discover if stuck consciousness is ready to move ahead.

I sure hope his optimism about the majority of the electorate waking up isn’t misplaced.

Priceless: baby boy bands

Priceless: adj. of inestimable worth, invaluable; highly amusing, absurd, or odd. [Break-time from politics.]

My grandsons are adorable and brilliant, as everyone’s grandkids are. Here they have put their Tinker-Toys to a new use- drum-kit and microphones.

I have video of their latest hit, “Doo, duh-duh dooo, I’m talkin’ to you,” but I have to admit the kid below has a rendition of “Hey Jude” that’s more worth your time and attention. And he isn’t even an English speaker:

Paulson and the Politics of Fear

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has been on the fearpath since Thursday when he warned Congress and the country that the world as we know it would end if Congress didn’t immediately authorize $700 Billion (of taxpayer dollars).

Naomi Klein wrote the book Shock Doctrine last year to describe the way that governments use major disasters to grab power or property from the public while everyone is in the grip of fear, loss or grief. Examples from the New York Times review of the book:

“The Shock Doctrine” is Klein’s ambitious look at the economic history of the last 50 years and the rise of free-market fundamentalism around the world. “Disaster capitalism,” as she calls it, is a violent system that sometimes requires terror to do its job. Like Pol Pot proclaiming that Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge was in Year Zero, extreme capitalism loves a blank slate, often finding its opening after crises or “shocks.” For example, Klein argues, the Asian crisis of 1997 paved the way for the International Monetary Fund to establish programs in the region and for a sell-off of many state-owned enterprises to Western banks and multinationals. The 2004 tsunami enabled the government of Sri Lanka to force the fishermen off beachfront property so it could be sold to hotel developers. The destruction of 9/11 allowed George W. Bush to launch a war aimed at producing a free-market Iraq.

Paulson cautioned lawmakers against letting the plan get bogged down in a debate over unnecessary additions. As one blogger noted “Unnecessary additions” – things like accountability, transparency, making sure that the crisis does not happen again, and making sure that it solves the underlying problem. But many questions arise:

1. Did Paulson pull that $700 billion number from his butt? Exactly where would the money be spent and what would it accomplish there? Is this amount just for starters? Others say the number is more like a TRILLION.  How much is a trillion? Ronald Reagan said:

I’ve been trying … to think of a way to illustrate how big a trillion is. The best that I could come up with is that if you had a stack of $1000 bills in your hand only four inches high you would be a millionaire. A trillion dollars would be a stack of $1000-dollar bills 67 miles high.

Since most of us have never seen a bill larger than $100, that stack would be 670 miles high.

2. Did this three-page Paulson Wall Street bailout plan just materialize out of thin air, or — far far scarier — is it something the Bush administration has been scheming about for months – waiting for the right moment, like they did with attacking Iraq (see Shock Doctrine, above)? From Roll Call:

White House Dispatches Team to Push Economic Bill

The White House today is drumming up extraordinary pressure on Congress to approve its plan to enact a $700 billion mortgage bailout fund, suggesting the markets cannot wait much longer and dispatching Vice President Cheney and other top officials up Pennsylvania Avenue to jawbone lawmakers. ……

[White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony] Fratto said it would be “unthinkable” for Congress not to pass legislation this week, asserting the result would be a “very, very serious situation” for the U.S. economy…….

Fratto insisted that the plan was not slapped together and had been drawn up as a contingency over previous months and weeks by administration officials. He acknowledged lawmakers were getting only days to peruse it, but he said this should be enough.

This afternoon Terry Gross interviewed Gretchen Morgenson, business columnist for the New York Times (a must listen to…) who said that she suspected things have sucked for well over a year, and the Bush administration knew it but kept telling us these problems were “contained to the subprime market”. Her question was, “Why should we believe them now??”

3. Who is Henry Paulson, anyway, and does he have a dog in the fight? Silly you for wondering if a Bush appointee could have a conflict of interest… For starters he was the CEO of Goldman Sachs, and is very much from and of the Wall Street culture – and will no doubt return there when Bush leaves office, so he’s not going to want to bite the hand that feeds.  And how about this juicy tidbit?

Paulson Debt Plan May Benefit Mostly Goldman, Morgan By Jody Shenn

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley may be among the biggest beneficiaries of the $700 billion U.S. plan to buy assets from financial companies while many banks see limited aid, according to Bank of America Corp.

…Its benefits, in its current form, will be largely limited to investment banks and other banks that have aggressively written down the value of their holdings and have already recognized the attendant capital impairment,” Jeffrey Rosenberg, Bank of America’s head of credit strategy research, wrote in a report dated yesterday, without identifying particular banks.

4. If this is all so horrible and if we’re going to be on the hook for the bailout, why can’t we hear Paulson’s briefing? As Markos said today:

So Treasury gets congressional leaders into a room, and gives them a briefing so horrifying, that they all immediately age 20 years and come out with white hair and immediately get to work pissing away $700 billion to Wall Street.

They’re terrified, we’re told! It was horrible!

So why not slap that presentation online? Why not share this with the American people?

This isn’t Iraq, where you can pretend that the information is “top secret” and must be protected lest disclosure amount to a security breach.

In this case, we’re probably talking financial projections, maybe an excel sheet or two.

So put it online so the rest of the country can see what supposedly has our fearless leaders in a panic.

More tomorrow.

Poor poor McCain: only 13 cars, 8 homes, 1 jet

Click to enlarge: And he claims Obama is elite??

Post-Its: paper capers

Do you need a break from the depressing news of the day? Take a Post-It break with me.

The Post-it note was invented by 3M‘s Art Fry using a unique low-tackadhesive developed by a colleague, Spencer Silver. Originally it was a 3″ square piece of canary yellow paper with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents, furniture, and so forth. The charm of Post-it notes is that they can be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue.  They’re now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and styles.

For fun and sheer amazement, check out Eepybird’s experiment with sticky notes: what you can do with Post-Its if you’re really bored.