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.

land of the free, home of the…educated?

John Adams, Founding Father and education advocate.  Image licensed under Creative Commons.
John Adams, Founding Father and education advocate. Image licensed under Creative Commons.

I’m reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams, and one thing that has struck me again and again is how strongly Adams believed that education was essential to the success of the American system.  As a younger man writing about what he thought a government should be, Adams wrote:

Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.

Later, after the Revolution had ended and he began advocating for the type of government that would be instituted for the United States in its wake, Adams wrote:

Knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation, instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.

Even at the end of the 1700s, Adams understood that the best way to lift people out of poverty was through education.  And Adams also fully believed that educated people not bogged down by poverty made the best citizens, able to be engaged with and participatory in our truly revolutionary system of democracy.

Over the years that followed, we sometimes lost our way.  Sometimes we were eager to say that there was nothing we could do to overcome poverty, because there was nothing we could do about poor people’s intelligence– it was just genetics, you see.  Maybe the best we could hope for was to give them welfare and other government assistance and hope for the best, but we’d always have poor people, and it was just a fact. Continue reading “land of the free, home of the…educated?”

Obama’s National Security Speech

Yep, President Obama and Dark Lord…I mean…Former Vice President Cheney went head to head today to speak about

Image by newscom/upi via talkingpointsmemo.com
Image by newscom/upi via talkingpointsmemo.com

national security.  I already took a look at Cheney’s speech, and now I’m checking out Obama’s.

I can’t help but feel that this:

For the first time since 2002, we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

is a dig at the previous administration’s decision to get bogged down in a war in Iraq, which did not attack us on 9/11 nor have connections to those who did until after we invaded their country, distracting that administration from the necessary conflicts in Afghanistan-spilling-into-Pakistan.

This:

We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world.

is also a nod to the previous 8 years whose diplomacy manual seemed to be “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.” Despite all the handwringing that talking or shaking hands with people with whom we disagree is making us less safe, diplomacy is a smart and essential national security strategy, and it makes us safer.

But this:

I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.

is where we get to the good stuff. Cheney recently misquoted his own Oath of Office saying he swore to protect and defend the American people, rather than the Constitution of the United States.  This, I believe, belies a fundamental misunderstanding on Cheney’s part about our democracy and our leaders’ role in it: their job is not first and foremost to protect us from outside threats, but to protect our system from threats, both from within, by those seeking to compromise our laws and freedoms for the sake of safety, and from without, by those seeking to compromise our safety perhaps because of how they feel about our laws and freedoms.  You can’t compromise the system in order to keep it safe. Continue reading “Obama’s National Security Speech”

Dick Cheney said about what I expected

So, Cheney gave a big national security speech today (I’d probably characterize it more as a Torture Apologism

Photo via pvera @ Flickr.
Photo via pvera @ Flickr.

Speech). He summarizes most of the Bush years and then says:

So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort.

ONLY those two conclusions are possible? Must we think the Bush administration EITHER did everything right or everything wrong? Or can we not look and see that in some areas, they were right, such as centralizing intelligence gathering and going to war in Afghanistan, but wrong in deciding to get sidetracked in Iraq, lie to the American public and the UN, spy on Americans, and torture detainees?  I mean, I minored in history, and the way we tend to judge history is to look at successes as well as failures in the life or administration of a figure.  For example, FDR is known for many successes, but Japanese Internment was a definite FAIL. Continue reading “Dick Cheney said about what I expected”

A picture is worth 100 days

Did you know there’s an official White House Flickr page? THERE IS! I’ve been checking it out and thought I’d share some of my favorites.

One of my favorite blogs during the campaign was Yes We Can Hold Babies. Maybe they shoulda kept it up because of great material like this:

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.

This is perhaps the most high-powered and stylish chat I’ve ever seen.  Wish I could hang out with both of them!

Seriously, this could be an outtake from Vogue.  Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, via Flickr
Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy, via Flickr.

Seriously, that could be an outtake from Vogue.

I know this is mushy and silly and not all that intelligent, but I love that we have a First Family that clearly loves the crap outta each other.  It’s adorable that the President and First Lady can’t get enough of each other, and I hope that Jon and I are the same way, even after two kids and a decade or more.

Even the people around them cant stop smiling! Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.

And how adorable is this?

Looks like the tables are turned!  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, via Flickr.

There’s about a bajillion more photos in the stream.  Check them out!

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