the adventures of ernie bufflo

things magical and mundane


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I am not Trayvon. But I AM the woman in the elevator.

The whole country seems to be unsettled now that the trial is over and George Zimmerman has received zero punishment for the undisputed fact that he provoked a fight with and then shot and killed an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin. All I keep thinking is imagining myself in his parents’ shoes, my baby killed and getting no justice. But the truth is, despite all the folks saying “We are Trayvon,” I’m not, and my babies *aren’t either. We are *unlikely to be perceived as threats based on our race. We *are unlikely to be held to a higher standard of suspicion. We *likely won’t be required to moderate our clothes or behavior or whereabouts in order to make others feel safe and thus ensure our own safety.

And Questlove has written a great piece about what it feels like to be like Trayvon, to be black and male in this country, to constantly be worrying about how others perceptions of his danger level affect his own safety. And I think we should all read it, and I think we should all think hard about the way racism and segregation affect our own day to day lives, and the fact that a lot of us live in neighborhoods where seeing a black man walk down our street would be so unusual as to be perceived as a threat. My friend Kyran, for example, has been asking some great questions about the intersection of economic and racial injustice in our communities.

But at the same time, the central story Questlove tells, about how hurt he felt by a woman who lived in his building clearly perceiving him as a threat when she was alone with him on an elevator, well, I am that woman, and I can’t say I blame her. If Questlove wants us to all walk in his size 14 shoes, then he needs to know a thing or two about that woman’s high heels, about what it means to be a woman in rape culture.

We are told over and over again that rape is something that happens to girls who aren’t vigilant enough. Who walk down the wrong streets at the wrong time in the wrong company. Who have too much to drink. Who wear the wrong clothes. Who send out mixed signals. You are constantly on your guard or you “get raped,” a phrase that has always bothered me because it’s like “got milk?” As if I went and picked it up at the store or had some say in the matter.

I’m not often alone in public these days, but I chronicled lots of harassment and intimidation from the days when I used to be, which you can find under my Bus Stories tab. It was daily, and the general message I got was: to be female, alone, in public is to be at risk.

When I am alone in an isolated place, my keys are between my fingers in case I need to use them as a weapon, and I have my phone out and ready to dial 911 if I need to. I would certainly be wary to be on an elevator with a strange man of any race, because an elevator is an isolated place. And this vigilance is exhausting and numbing, and there were days I have come home and literally cried because one more man yelled something ugly and intimidating at me as he drove past.

To be a woman in public is ALSO to be told you “aren’t shit,” as Questlove says he’s learned. It’s to be told you are an object for the taking, a message made clear not just by words shouted out of moving cars like “HEY SUGARTITS,” but also in the looks, and in the ways people talk about those unvigilant girls who get themselves raped.

I think, somewhere, there’s a place where Questlove and that woman in the elevator have something in common: patriarchy tells them both they ain’t shit. They both have varying levels of privilege, him as a man, and her as a white woman. It’s only in taking down the patriarchy that they can both feel safe in public.

*Words changed slightly from original post in response to comments and in an effort to make clear that I am attempting to recognize the privilege afforded to women perceived as white in this country. I don’t want to leap to the assumption that we are never seen as threatening by others, simply recognizing the fact that we usually aren’t.

**Traffic and comments keep rolling in on this post, and while I’m really happy with the attention it’s received, I’m also busy chasing 16 month old twins, and don’t have time to reply to every comment. I would also urge you to check out this beautifully-written, painful post that’s another take on the woman in the elevator. The comments and responses to this post have been thought-provoking and inspiring. I’d say a great step toward dismantling the system I believe hurts both the “woman in the elevator” and Questlove is to think about our fears, confront and examine them. I believe there are reasonable steps toward self-preservation, but there are also walls and barriers that separate us from one another. I need to focus more on reaching out.


Was Fort Hood Massacre a Terrorist Act?

In the wake of what everyone agrees was a horrible tragedy at Fort Hood, there has been sort of a battle of interpretation going on between those who were quick to label it an act of terrorism because the perpetrator is a Muslim and those who urged caution, seeing it as a horrific act of workplace violence which may or may not have a religious or terroristic motivation.  The juxtaposition of the treatment of the Fort Hood story, in which the perpetrator had an Arabic name, and the Orlando office shooting, in which the perpetrator did not stand out ethnically or religiously, was striking.  We are more than OK assuming the Orlando shooter was just a guy who snapped in hard times, but we were less willing to believe that a Muslim American could “snap” without any additional religious or political motivation.  In particular, I would recommend this piece by Eboo Patel, a Muslim American active in interfaith causes.  I agree with Patel’s idea that murder is not a value in any major religion. Murderers are not Muslims or Christians, they are murderers.

However, now that more information is coming to light, the “terrorism” debate is heating up.  It is being reported that Hasan had tried to contact Al Qaeda and the CIA may have known about this months ago, which raises some serious questions about whether or not they reported this info to the military, and what actions could have been taken to prevent this tragedy.  Though I have seen at least one blogger at The New Republic call the reporter who broke the Al Qaeda story’s credibility into question, so I’m not quite ready to accept this as total fact yet.  There was much speculation and misinformation when the story initially broke, and the speculation and misinformation continues in the aftermath.  There is, however, some indication that Hasan was affiliated with more radical views of Islam.

Still, even if Hasan were a religious extremist, is the Fort Hood Massacre terrorism? Continue reading


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does racism have anything to do with it?

Image via Think Progress.

Yesterday, I wrote about what I believe is willful ignorance on the part of some of the loudest and most visible opponents of President Obama and his agenda.  I asked why so many people choose to believe the most terrible things, things which could be disproven by means of a simple internet search.  I wondered why people who have heard the truth explained to them over and over again still refuse to believe it.  Then Jimmy Carter went and offered an explanation: racism.  And the whole country flipped out.

In an interview, former president Carter said,

I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American…And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.

And you know what? I agree with him. Continue reading


You go, Claire McCaskill!

So the town hall “let’s go get yelled at by crazies” gauntlet continues for members of congress.  Sen. Claire McCaskill had one yesterday, and this is her take: Picture 1 Really, Sen. McCaskill?  Because I think you sounded juuuuussst right:

When a crowd is acting like a bunch of unruly elementary schoolers, the correct approach is to talk to them like they’re one count-to-three away from losing recess.  I remember in elementary school, they had a system for dealing with us when we got too loud in the cafeteria.  They had the letters R-A-M-S (our mascot) hanging on the wall.  If we got too loud, one of the monitors would go remove a letter.  If we lost all the letters in one lunch period, we weren’t allowed to talk the rest of the lunch period.  This happened VERY rarely.  But then again, maybe we elementary schoolers were better behaved than the teabagging health care reform opponents who only want to shut down debate, because they have no actual ideas to contribute to the discussion.

Anyway, don’t feel bad, Sen. McCaskill.   You struck exactly the right tone.  You go on with your bad self.


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don’t let the door hitcha on your way out

So, almost a month after her crazy pre-Fourth-of-July “Declaration of Independence,” Sarah Palin is no longer governor of Alaska, having handed over power to the Lt. Gov. who was sworn in yesterday after Palin, apparently wearing the hide of a one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater that she hunted aerially, gave a pouty and trademarkedly random farewell speech that many pundits have compared to a poorly given high school commencement address.

Despite the fact that Palin thinks it’s OBVIOUS why she resigned, we still don’t really know why.  My best impression given what she’s said?  The press is mean and she can’t take it.  And she wouldn’t be able to do anything in her second half of a term, anyway, even without the mean mean press, because she’s under the impression that “lame ducks” can’t accomplish anything at all, ever.

Now, people who know me, and they know how much I love this state, some still are choosing not to hear why I made the decision to chart a new course to advance the state. And it should be so obvious to you. (indicating heckler) It is because I love Alaska this much, sir (at heckler) that I feel it is my duty to avoid the unproductive, typical, politics as usual, lame duck session in one’s last year in office. How does that benefit you? No, with this decision now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, for truth. And I have never felt like you need a title to do that.

I’m reminded again of Dahlia Lithwick’s Slate piece about Palin’s communication style. She appears to REALLY think that she’s made herself perfectly clear and anyone who doesn’t understand why she does what she does is just being dense on purpose. Lithwick wrote:

If you think of Palin as someone who never felt herself to be fully heard or understood, not truly politically realized in the eyes of the American public, her rage toward the country, the media, and those of us who fail to love and understand her is easier to comprehend. Think of an American visiting France who believes that if he just speaks louder, he will be speaking French. Palin has done everything in her power to explain herself to us, and still we fail to appreciate what she is all about. I’d be frustrated, too, if I thought I was offering up straight talk and nobody was getting the message. Especially if I held a degree in communications…because she believes she has been crystal clear all along, she’s come to resent us, too. The enduring political lesson of Sarah Palin may simply be that for most of her political career she’s been lost in translation, without fully appreciating that only in translation was she ever, briefly found.

So, no one really knows why Sarah Palin quit being governor, and no one, apparently not even Palin herself, knows what she is going to do next.  Given the fact she has reiterated multiple times now that she “doesn’t need a title” to effect change, I’m thinking maybe she’s done with elected office?  Not that she could WIN elected office anyway.

Though Palin has a small but very enthusiastic fan base, she (and those who see her as the future of the GOP) seems to misunderstand that in order to win a GOP nomination, she cannot rely solely on white evangelicals.  The Wall Street wing of the party basically hates her, perhaps because they’ve always stood for smarts and economics, two things that Palin can’t count on as strong suits.  At least one GOP strategist has called her “another Huckabee,” but in reality, she’s LESS than a Huckabee, as in a recent Washington Post poll, Huckabee outstrips Palin in support from white evangelicals, 2-1.  Imagine if Huckabee and Palin were both in the running for the nomination.  Together they’d split the social conservative wing, and a third person would likely win the nomination, probably someone like Mitt Romney.

So, if you ask me, Palin may very well continue to be a player in terms of the sheer attention that she gets.  She’ll definitely have a book, and maybe her own TV talk show, just like Huckabee.  She’ll probably raise money for the party and support candiates with similar views.  But I doubt she’ll ever win a nomination for national office, and even if she did, there’s no way she’d actually win that office.  Statistically, the more America gets to know about her, the more Palin’s favorability wanes, as was the case in Alaska as well.

So, while I love to make fun of her, particularly because I think she’s a not-particularly-intelligent whiner, you probably won’t be hearing from me as much on the subject of Sarah Palin.  All she really is, when it comes down to it, is an attention whore.  And when people like me write about her, and better yet, give her someone to point to as part of the evil evil liberal, elitist media, we are giving her exactly what she wants.  So, farewell Sarah Palin.  Don’t let the door hitcha on your way out. *wink*


bufflo roams back home

a pic from our trip: a weed near Red Rocks in CO.

a pic from our trip: a weed near Red Rocks in CO.

So, I’m back from a week spent in Colorado with family, and I’m catching up on all the things I’ve missed out on during what was probably a much needed break from the internets and news.  Seriously, my Google Reader had “1000+” items in it when I got on for the first time this morning since Tuesday (besides a little BlackBerry powered browsing while sitting in airports).  And since I’m motoring through it, I figured I’d put a few of the hits right here.  Sorta like a less-timely Bufflo Tips.  I will probably be blogging more about my trip later, but for now, enjoy some linkylinkys.

First up: I love Jenny Lewis’ video for her song See Fernando.  She’s definitely a girl crush of mine.  If someone would PLEASE teach me how to embed non-YouTube videos on WordPress, it would be much appreciated.  In the meantime, you have to watch this 60’s spy-thriller music video here.

Next, check out the trailer for No Impact Man (and Family)’s documentary!  I’ve loved following their journey on the blog and look forward to seeing the film.

  • We have been out of town for a week.  Duh.  We were staying with family who probably had every toiletry that I could possibly need and thus could have preventing me from needing to pack any.  We didn’t check any bags.  We were gone less than a week.  I overpacked.  It’s chronic.  I should have read this post, from one of my fave bloggers, Decorno.
  • Journalism great Walter Cronkite died this week, and Glenn Greenwald points out that most of the journalists marking his passing and running retrospectives are nowhere NEAR the journalist Cronkite was, and are opposed to doing the kind of reporting he did.  Greenwald writes:

    Cronkite’s best moment was when he did exactly that which the modern journalist today insists they must not ever do — directly contradict claims from government and military officials and suggest that such claims should not be believed. These days, our leading media outlets won’t even use words that are disapproved of by the Government.

  • I used to respect John McCain, even if I didn’t always agree with him, until he ran such a despicable campaign for the presidency and chose an idiot to be his running mate.  Now, he’s losing even more points from me because he’s blocking nominees to the Department of the Interior because he wants a copper mine to be allowed in a national forest.
  • Via Jezebel, I never thought Charlie Brown could be creepy.  Turns out he can.
  • Nate Silver notes that Sarah Palin really *isn’t* all that much of a fundraiser.
  • Meanwhile, in my absence, Palin decided to try to string a few coherent sentences together (a huge undertaking from the Queen of Fragments, though I’m guessing this piece was heavily edited by someone with at least a bare-bones knowledge of basic grammar) in opposition to cap and trade in the Washington Post.  Alex Koppelman of Salon’s War Room blog summarized the op ed thusly:

    While the piece is certainly more coherent than her resignation announcement or some of her past interviews, the article makes numerous unsubstantiated claims and reads like a greatest hits list of Republican talking points on the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill currently working its way through Congress.

    The entire piece refuting Palin’s points is worth a read if you haven’t seen it yet. I like this part: “She does not rely on any scientific evidence to back up any of the bold statements she makes in the piece.” BECUZ SARAH PALIN DON’T NEED UR FANCY BOOK LERNIN’.  ALSO, SY-ENCE IS FUR ATHEEISTS.  Another good reaction to the Palin op ed can be found at The Daily Beast, written by Edward Markey, of Waxman-Markey fame.  I think I’ll trust the chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee over a less-than-one-term governor with a degree in communications that apparently failed to give her a basic grasp of Standard English any day.

  • Ezra Klein says Palin probably didn’t write it.  She signed her name to it.  He’s probably right.  He also writes:

    The term “global warming” is absent. So is “climate change.” It’s a bit like an op-ed that attacks firefighters for pointing pressurized water cannons at everything but never mentions fires, or a column that condemns surgeons for sticking sharp things into people but never mentions illness.

  • Conor Clark at The Daily Dish says “Palin’s op-ed displays an ignorance for the subject so profound it’s almost gutsy. Almost.”
  • Obama nominated a Surgeon General who isn’t Sanjay Gupta and who seems to be an all-around awesome lady.  Apparently some haters think she’s too fat to be Surgeon General, 4rlz.  Frances Kissling of Salon’s Broadsheet addresses those haters.
  • Meanwhile Ezra Klein has a sensical piece about why we as a society should worry about obesity.
  • So, a bunch of “Blue Dogs” are threatening to derail health reform.  Nate Silver points out that this could hurt them in the end, as their districts have higher rates of uninsurance than most.  He writes:

    Mike Ross of the Arkansas 4th, where almost 22 percent of the population is uninsured? This is a bill designed to help districts like his. And the same goes for most of the other Blue Dogs. A lot of the time, these guys are stuck in a tough spot between their party and their constituents. Here, those interests are mostly aligned.

  • Yay for good news when it comes to SAVING THE ANTIBIOTICS.
  • And finally, check out this piece on How Outlet Malls Rip Us Off, and maybe next time you head to the outlets, take a smart phone so you can check reference prices online and find out what retail price REALLY is.


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More Focus on “The Family”

C Street Band

I wasn’t intending to do any blogging today or this week, but I like to watch the video from the most recent Rachel Maddow Show on my lunch break, and when I saw that she was covering The Family again, I knew I had to do a post.  You can see my previous post on the subject here.  You can watch the video clip I’m discussing here (I would embed it but MSNBC isn’t playing nice with WordPress).  All quotes from The Rachel Maddow Show taken from this transcript.

In the wake of the Sanford and Ensign sex scandals, the C Street house/Bible Study/group looms large, as does The Family, the organization behind it.

One of the more interesting bits was clips of sermons from the leader of The Family from original reporting by Andrea Mitchell.  In one of the clips, the leader of The Family, Douglas Coe, says:

DOUGLAS COE, “THE FAMILY” LEADER: I‘ve seen pictures of the young men in the Red Guard. They would bring in this young man‘s mother. He would take an ax and cut her head off. They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of their father, mother, brother, sister, and their own life. That was a covenant, a pledge. That‘s what Jesus said.
COE: Jesus said, you have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself. Hitler, that was a demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people.
COE: One of the things [Jesus] said is “If any man comes to me, and does not hate his father, mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can‘t be a disciple.” So I don‘t care what other qualifications you have, if you don‘t do that, you can‘t be a disciple of Christ.

So basically this guy sees a lot of parallels between following Jesus and being a member of the Red Guard or Nazi Party? I’m already terrified.

During the show, Rachel also interviewed Jeff Sharlet of Harper’s Magazine, who infiltrated The Family and lived at C Street before writing a book on The Family.  Here’s one of the things Sharlet said about The Family:

They believe in something called “biblical capitalism,” and biblical capitalism is the way they‘re going to bring the gospel to the already powerful. Where the money goes they believe God goes.

“Biblical Capitalism? Wonder how they’d square that with this vision of the early church, from the Book of Acts:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:45-47

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Acts 4:32-35

Nevermind their downright unbiblical fetishization of capitalism, according to Sharlet, the group has been involved in shady dealings with brutal dictators:

SHARLET: Well, you know, we heard in that clip, we heard Coe talking about Mao‘s China and so on. And we also hear him again and again using the model of Hitler as an ideal of strength. And I‘ve heard him—this is really boilerplate sermon for Doug Coe.

It‘s not that he‘s a neo Nazi of some sort. It‘s that they fetishize strength. They look for the leader who they believe is chosen by God. Evidence is his power, his wealth, and his willingness to align himself with their version of American power.

The dictator Suharto in Indonesia was one such. They organized meetings for him with American defense contractors, with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the secretary of defense, and most notably, since Indonesia is a major oil producing company with American oil executives, who described their meetings in memos of Congress as great moments of spiritual honesty between themselves and the dictator.

Finally, Maddow asks Sharlet, if, since religion is a private matter in this country (ha! Yeah, the Values Voters and people who are convinced Obama is somehow a secret Muslim, as if that disqualified him from office, really believe in religion as a private matter.), if he believes the members of Congress who are affiliated with C Street and the Family should disclose their involvement in the group. Sharlet responds:

I think when you have—when you have members of Congress who are looking to a particular religious group for a sense of authority, which is explicitly antidemocratic, that explicitly fetishizes strength and dictatorial power, if they want to do that, that it‘s their choice. But I think they owe it to their constituents to say, “Here is why I have chosen to leave the mainstreams of American religion and affiliate myself with this sect that is so unorthodox and so really brutal in its theology.”

I bolded the parts above because, based on everything I know of Jesus, I feel quite confident in saying that the theology of this group is NOT “Christian.” It is extremist, it is unorthodox, and true Christians should point out groups like this and say, THEY DO NOT REPRESENT US, OUR GOSPEL, OR OUR GOD.

Personally, I do think these men, Sens. Ensign and Coburn and Gov. Sanford, should be asked some really hard questions about their involvement with this group, and whether or not they feel its views conform to biblical orthodoxy and the teachings of Jesus Christ.


taking Palin at face value doesn’t help her cause

So, Sarah Palin resigned almost a week ago in a rambling, babbling speech punctuated with the honking of waterfowl in front of a hastily gathered group of mostly local news reporters.  In the week that followed, pundits and bloggers have been going nuts analyzing Palin’s resignation and trying to figure out WHY.  Palin doesn’t understand why anyone would be wondering about underlying reasons or scandals.  Wearing her waders, she told ABC News “You know why they’re confused? I guess they cannot take something nowadays at face value”.

OK.  So, here’s what she said (emphasis mine):

Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt. The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I’ve been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations….

“The state has wasted thousands of hours of your time and shelled out some two million of your dollars to respond to ‘opposition research’ — that’s money not going to fund teachers or troopers or safer roads…. Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn’t cost them a dime so they’re not going to stop draining public resources — spending other peoples’ money in their game.

“It’s pretty insane — my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with this instead of progressing our state now.”

Let’s take this apart one point at a time, shall we?

  • Palin seems to suggest that most of the ethics complaints are filed against her by “political operatives” and enemies.  I’ll let Salon’s Joan Walsh take this one (emphasis mine):

    All but one of them were filed by her constituents in Alaska. That one exception was a complaint by a DC watchdog group about her $150,000 clothing gift from RNC. It was ultimately dismissed, but it dealt with an unclear area of campaign-finance law…Four of the complaints were filed by a Republican former ally of Palin’s, Andree McLeod, who turned on her because she felt Palin was cutting ethical corners, hiring cronies and using a private email account to conduct public business outside the realm of public records. Many of the complaints predated her vice presidential nomination. And at least one of the complaints was clearly justified; Palin had to pay back about $8,000 in travel expenses for her children. Another is still pending: A seemingly reasonable complaint about Palin charging the state per diem when she’s living in her own house in Wasilla rather than the governor’s mansion.

    If you’d like to read a complete listing of the ethics investigations, the Anchorage Daily News has compiled a list.  As you can see, only one complaint was filed by a political operative, and many were quite serious, the opposite of “frivolous.”  Even in some of the cases in which Palin was found to have done nothing wrong, other actions were taken.  The list mentions one member of her administration who was ordered to undergo ethics training because of “troubling emails.”

  • Now about those hours wasted and dollars spent.  Where does Palin get this “millions of dollars” total?  David Murrow, a Palin spokesperson, acknowledged to a Plum Line reporter

    that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints — based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor’s office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing.

    Greg Sargeant continued:

    The ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn’t drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.

    So once again we return to the total cost of the ethics investigation, as tallied by the Anchorage Daily News: $296,000. And where do the bulk of these charges come from? Again from the Anchorage Daily News:

    The bulk of the expenses — $187,797 — appear to stem from Troopergate, the messy case involving Palin’s former brother-in-law, a state trooper, who got on the wrong side with Palin and her family. Palin herself initiated at least a part of the ethics case to counter a legislative investigation into the same matter.

    And when they report that Palin initiated part of the case “to counter a legislative investigation” what they mean is, she tried to have the investigation moved to the jurisdiction of people she had the power to fire if they returned a verdict she wasn’t happy with. Palin, as Talking Points Memo notes, “has the power to fire the personnel board’s members, the independence of its judgments is hardly beyond reproach.”

  • And now for Palin’s argument that the burden of these investigations is so crippling that she and her staff can do little else.  As Talking Points Memo reported, at the time of her announcement, there were only 3 ethics investigations still pending against Palin, hardly an overwhelming number.  And none of those three is as serious as the Troopergate investigation, which she managed to weather while remaining governor AND campaigning for the Vice Presidency.  I just don’t buy that she can’t keep doing her job in the face of the remaining cases.  If they really are as frivolous as she claims, they’ll be dismissed as quickly as the others have been.

So.  Palin is wrong about who is bringing the ethics complaints against her, she is wrong about their level of seriousness, she is wrong about how much they are costing the state, and she is most likely wrong about how crippling they are of her ability to do her job as governor, the job she promised to do for at least one full term.  Moreover, she is using the very ethics reform she champions as one of her crowning achievements as an excuse for being a quitter.  Steve Benen points out that there is more than a little irony in this, and that perhaps instead of quitting, Palin could use her immediate knowledge both of what it takes to pass ethics reform and of the flaws in the current ethics law, to improve the law:

To hear Palin tell it, her opponents are now using her own achievement against her — exploiting the law to waste taxpayer money, bankrupt the state’s governor, and paralyze state government. Doesn’t that suggest there’s something wrong with the new ethics laws? If the measures were written in such a way as to make it easy and cost-free for anyone to cripple the state’s political process, then don’t the reform laws need reforming? Indeed, even putting Palin aside, won’t all future Alaskan governors have to deal with the same problem? It sounds like Palin has firsthand experience in identifying the flaws in her own law. If she weren’t quitting, and letting her own flawed ethics rules force her from office, maybe she could work on improving the system and helping the state.


Sarah Palin is right about one thing?

XXFactor writer Emily Bazelon thinks “Sarah Palin is right about one thing.”  Bazelon believes that Palin may be correct in that she would not be able to accomplish much as governor in her final year and a half in office.  Bazelon writes:

I’m starting to see the unvarnished point. Given what a target of controversy she’s become, what legislative agenda could she push through?…It’s a funny sort of toppling: I resign because of the damage my detractors are doing to me, even though I did nothing wrong and I am still tough as nails.

I think this gives Palin not nearly enough credit for her strained relationship with the Alaskan legislatures and other government officials. Prior to being tapped as McCain’s VP pick, Palin achieved most of her successes in Alaska through bipartisanship. Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small brought this up in his piece on “Five Reasons Alaskans Think Palin Quit.” He quotes Harry Crawford, an Anchorage Democrat:

With Sarah, we were able to do things that we’d been trying to do for 25 years. Everything she can point to in terms of achievements was done with nearly uniform Democrats votes and just a smattering of Republican votes.

And then Sarah went and bit the hand that fed her all the little victories she highlighted on her resume as she ran for VP by running a dirty, nasty, hateful campaign that culminated in people shouting threats against Obama at her rallies. She accused a sitting Senator of “palling around with terrorists.” Perhaps she expected never to come back to Alaska, but she couldn’t have expected to come back and have everything be hunky dory after she led one of the most despicable campaigns in years. If Palin isn’t able to accomplish anything as governor, it’s her own damn fault.


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murderers and humanity

I’m still thinking about and processing the violent, terrorist acts committed against George Tiller and yesterday at the National Holocaust Museum.  I’ve been

This image is what so profoundly affected me at the National Holocaust Museum.

This image is what so profoundly affected me at the National Holocaust Museum.

 to the Holocaust Museum twice, and both times, it profoundly affected me.  I remember sitting on the floor in a room filled with Holocaust victims’ shoes, sobbing.  This room is toward the end of the museum, and yet it moved me more than anything else in the museum.  Perhaps because of the idea of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.  Perhaps because it just engaged all my senses.  I could even SMELL the shoes.  Visiting that museum  gave me both a profound sense of the evil humans are capable of perpetrating on one another, but also of the indomitability of the human spirit.  You can try to take away someone’s humanity.  Treat them like animals.  Attempt to eradicate them.  But you can’t control someone’s spirit.  You can’t take away their faith.  

 

In the wake of horrible tragedies, it is easy to see the perpetrators as not human.  I’m guilty of it.  I am a pacifist, generally, but in the wake of something awful that one human has done to another, I know what it is to want vengeance, to want an eye for an eye, though I rationally know that this “leaves the whole world blind.”  I know, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder.”  While it may be easier to simply dismiss these hate-filled killers as somehow less than human, it just isn’t right.  The Nazis, in all their horrific violence, were still humans.  Scott Roeder is a human.  James von Brunn, hateful as his prejudices are to me, is a human.  Someone loved them.  These killers were someone’s babies.  How did they get from there to where they are now?  I don’t know, but it’s worth exploring.  People may hate, and people may have prejudices, but a variety of factors contribute to making a hateful person into a murderer, a terrorist. Continue reading

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