Archive for September, 2008

Sarah Palin, Bulletproof

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 28, 2008 by mb007bpd

*Note: This is a repost of a column I originally published after Sarah Palin’s speech at the RNC.  I’ve tweaked it a little, updated it slightly, so here’s the “final draft.”

Sarah Palin, Bulletproof

These past few weeks have been nothing short of insane.  The media has relentlessly called into question every iota of Sarah Palin’s character, and has spun her family into some sort of Jerry Springer nightmare.  Rumors and allegations of every stripe have been slung towards her, out of the deepest mud from the deepest bowels of media Hades.  Decency is no more.

The night of the RNC was the night to turn that all back around.  To stem the tide of allegations, the storm of misconceptions, the onslaught of accusations.  That was the night to tell the American people Sarah’s side of the story, to show to them that she is ready to serve them in one of the highest offices of public service in the land.  That night, Sarah had to allow the entire country into the mind of Sarah Palin, to see her life, her ambitions, her plans for the future.  And that night, Sarah showed us one quality of hers that stood above all others.  She showed that she is absolutely bulletproof.

Bulletproof is a concept of contradiction: absolute strength through imperfection.  It is idea that words and the people who speak them are imperfect, but together, exude an eternal quality that transcends conflicts and generations.  I was inspired to visit the Lincoln Memorial this past winter.  As I walked into the breathtaking colossus, I noticed the massive presence of Lincoln, staring fervently ahead, intimidating but welcoming.  I was surprised to discover that on each side of him in the memorial, words were etched into the stone walls.  On one side, the Gettysburg Address; on the other, his second inaugural address.  I read each word slowly and comprehensively, trying to grasp some meaning from them, hoping that they would impart some sort of wise revelation.  They were chiseled into marble for a reason.  After parsing through each line, it dawned on me: these words weren’t delicately conceived at the end of a writer’s fountain pen, but were more beautiful than any author could have written.  They held gravity, they held weight.  They had the ability to resonate with every American.  Lincoln was imperfect.  His words were imperfect.  But together, they were bulletproof.

This brings me back to Sarah.  Her words resonated with the average (to paraphrase Senator Obama) bitter, gun-totin’, religion-clingin’ small-town folks: the real Americans.  She spoke as an average American to her fellow average Americans, down-to-earth and sincere.  She was neither magical nor flawless; she was straightforward and human.  She looked towards the future while remembering the past.   She criticized her opponents with grace.  Such synergy has defined her life.  She is a “hockey mom” looking out for her childrens’ future and a governor looking out for the Nation’s.  She is a dynamic political outsider who has gotten more done in a few years than people who have spent decades festering in public office.  Unlike politics-as-usual, she has delivered on her promises.  It is rare for politics to attract good people who stay that way.  She is a breath of fresh air in a smoke-filled room.  Most importantly of all, she has finessed the art of being a true public servant.  This was truly encapsulated in one particular line of her speech:

I’m not a member of the permanent political establishment. And I’ve learned quickly, these past few days, that if you’re not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion – I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.

She wants to serve her country from the perspective of the people that make her country great: hardworking, bread-and-butter Americans.  She’s your child’s friend’s mom in the parent club, she’s the new neighbor who just moved in with her family down the street, she’s the friend you stop to chat with for a few minutes in the grocery store.  She isn’t perfect, nor does she claim to be.  And, as we saw these difficult past few weeks, her imperfection makes her absolutely bulletproof.  

Debate No. 1 Verdict

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 26, 2008 by mb007bpd

I wasn’t able to liveblog the debate, but I was glad that I got a chance to watch it. My verdict:

Nobody brought up ANY new points or plans. Lots of “well I agree with Senator ______” which gets a little old after awhile.  The entire ordeal was simply a face-off over records. Many attempts at “gotcha” back and forth, but few actually stuck.  Jim Lehrer did a decent job; tried to corral subjects back to original intent, but unnerving and tedious at times.

The good: Obama’s tone, phrasing. McCain’s explanation of the issues.

The bad: Obama’s pausing, conviction. McCain’s speaking style, backtracking.

The verdict: McCain. Better handling of the issues, more deft speaking style, not quite the folksy grasp of Obama but made up with substance.

Impotence Strikes Again!

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 26, 2008 by mb007bpd

No, this isn’t a Viagra ad, but it seems like everyone’s favorite international organization needs a little blue pill or two.

Important info:

Western diplomats said the resolution would reaffirm three rounds of earlier U.N. sanctions to make clear that the process has not been dropped and that the council wants Iran to comply.

The United States, Britain and France have been pressing for a new round of sanctions to step up pressure against Iran for its continuing refusal to suspend uranium enrichment as a prelude to talks on its nuclear program. But Russia and China objected to new sanctions.

The proposed new resolution appears to be a compromiseno new sanctions but a tough statement to Iran that Security Council resolutions are legally binding and must be carried out.

Russia on Tuesday had scuttled high-level talks on imposing new sanctions on Iran that had been set for Thursday between the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany, the key players in seeking an agreement with Iran. Even sanctions opponent China had agreed to the meeting.

This Russia?  The one that has been kissing the boots of another terrorism-supporting country?  

And speaking of boots, Ahmadinejad must be quaking in his right now.

Could these two events be somehow…*gasp* connected?

Putin made the nuclear offer after Russia this week delayed talks with the United States and other powers on fears Iran is developing nuclear weapons, concerns critics say have been exacerbated by civilian nuclear technology provided by Moscow.

Surprise!  And in case anyone was wondering whose side the AFP was on… 
Russia’s relations with the United States are in a deep chill, most recently over the brief war in Georgia last month — a conflict where Chavez was one of the few world leaders to support Moscow.

During that war, Washington angered Moscow by holding naval exercises near its Black Sea coast. And when the war ended, the United States used warships to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia.

No mention of how Moscow engaged in shady arms deals with South Ossetia and essentially firebombed a sovereign nation like Georgia.  

But who needs facts when you have the AFP?  Or strength when you have the UN?

I guess Mark Steyn was right.

Fashion, Smashion

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 17, 2008 by mb007bpd

Barack Obama wears a $1500 Hartmarx suit for his DNC speech (which the media made a point of saying was union-made,) after bragging about having five suits that he wears constantly.

His online store offers Obama-themed clothing made by high-end designers like Diane von Furstenburg and Marc Jacobs.  He also has had an entire fashion line devoted to him by Donatella Versace.  

Fashion icon” Michelle Obama has bragged about wearing a sensible, $148 White House Black Market dress on The View.  However, she wore a $900 blue Maria Pinto dress for her speech at the DNC (the price of that dress was much more difficult to find,) as well as another Maria Pinto dress with a ~$1000 Azzedine Alaïa belt for her husband’s speech.  Not to mention:

 

In an effort to forge a relationship with the potential first lady, the fashion industry gathered Tuesday evening at an official meet-and-greet with her at an Obama fund-raiser in a Chelsea art gallery.

Vogue editors Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley were there. Designers Calvin Klein and Zac Posen, as well as locally bred Tory Burch and Ralph Rucci, came to gush and awe and probably secretly take down her measurements so they could send her a tailored surprise via overnight FedEx.

One can only wonder how many thousands of dollars that “tailored suprise” cost. 

 

Now, Sarah Palin wears a stunning, tasteful, $2500 Valentino jacket to her speech at the Republican National Convention, and the NY Post says (italic emphasis added):

Insiders tell Page Six Palin has a secretive circle of stylists who dress her for events. For her big speech in St. Paul, where she accepted the GOP’s vice-presidential nod, this fashion-conscious team encouraged the Alaska governor to splurge on a $2,500 jacket from Saks Fifth Avenue designed by Valentino Garavani.

Cindy McCain wore an equally stunning $3000 Oscar de la Renta suit for her speech two nights before, and was mocked because her outfit might have cost $300,000, including jewelry (the “$280,000 earrings” value was based on vague estimates and whether or not it they were real.)  Notice how Michelle Obama’s jewelry never made it into the tabulations.

Who gets the flak?

You guessed it.

Imagine if Sarah had just worn some pitiful Gap jacket to the speech.  The entire fashion community would be decrying this rough, mannish, tasteless, backwoods woman.  They would spit sweeping assumptions that conservative, American women have no sense of style or fashion, and designers would be issuing unwarranted “fashion tips” for this pitiful “hockey mom.”  And I bet you could expect fashionistas smugly asserting “lipstick on a pig” far before Barack Obama did. 

An insight into the minds of liberal, “cultured” types: 

Barack and Michelle Obama: FASHION ICONS! (in their clothes made by “local Chicago designers”) 

Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain: Pretentious elitists. (in their dastardly Oscar de la Renta and Valentino!)

It appears that the media and fashion industry make a lethally unchic combination.

Earmark, Smearmark

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 15, 2008 by mb007bpd

One of the main reasons why I have always supported Sarah Palin is her tough stance when it comes to earmark spending.  It is irrefutable that she has drastically cut such spending while Governor of Alaska.  McCain has never requested a single earmark as Senator, while Sens. Obama and Biden have requested over one billion dollars worth (link thanks to HotAir commenter Chakra Hammer.)

Alaska is a unique state.

According to an October 1998 report by the United States Bureau of Land Management, approximately 65% of Alaska is owned and managed by the U.S. federal government as public lands, including a multitude of national forestsnational parks, and national wildlife refuges. Of these, the Bureau of Land Management manages 87 million acres (350,000 km²), or 23.8% of the state. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Of the remaining land area, the State of Alaska owns 24.5%; another 10% is managed by 13 regional and dozens of local Native corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Various private interests own the remaining land, totaling less than 1%

Federal spending on Alaska is highest because the federal government owns 381,160 square miles of Alaska, which is appx. 2/3 of the state.  That is an area larger than the state of Texas.  Why is this important?  Check out this comment by Spiritof1776 at Hot Air:

I hope the McCain campaign is smart enough to define this, but I’m not very hopeful. It really isn’t complicated, and she can make the case better then him but I’m sure defense it not what they want her doing.

Alaska is a state where the (vast, I believe) majority of the land is federally owned. Combined with the fact that Alaska is prohibited by the federal government to develop it’s natural resources, it is a state that is necessarily more dependent on federal dollars.

That is one of the most powerful messages that Palin was emphasizing previous to her addition on the ticket: namely that Alaska should be free to develop it’s resources so it could be more self-sufficient and get off the federal teat. That is a message that everyone can understand. But I think the McCain camp is more interested in her as a reformist and so I suspect that message is going to get lost if she doesn’t preach it herself.

Palin as just an anti-corruption reformer minimizes the scope of her vision. She really is more far-seeing then that.

Now, read this comment by cthulhu on the same thread:

It might be helpful also to stress the distinction between Federal funds and earmarks. Normally, the Feds appropriate funds towards a program, and the operators of that program decide how the funds are spent — e.g. the Air Force gets funding for 100 new jets….and they put it out to bid.

An earmark is when a legislator interferes with the management of a program. For example, if the appropriation said, “Get 100 new jets. From Boeing. For $137.2M each.”

Alaska could have $453M of program funds without a single earmark. It’s not like the Feds have no interests in the state — they own 2/3 of it directly.

But when legislators earmark funds for specific spending, rather than for programs, it raises the question of whether they want the program to succeed or whether they want the directed spending to succeed.

How does this all tie back to Palin?  Check out another comment from Spiritof1776:

She said “The abuse of earmarks, it’s un-American, it’s undemocratic, and it’s not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop.”

ABC interpreted that to be: In an interview with ABC News on Friday, Gov. Palin herself suggested she no longer seeks earmarks for her state. But that is NOT what she said. She said abuse will stop.

And here we reach the essence of the argument.  Gov. Palin has been a fierce opponent of profligate earmark spending, especially when it has been used for the wrong reasons.  The difference between earmarks and pork-barrel spending is the intention.  Earmarks are mere appropriations, while pork-barrel spending is appropriations done for favors, votes, or other questionable means.  It is obvious that the type of spending that Gov. Palin has slashed and seeks to slash in Washington is pork-barrel spending.  She and McCain have also argued for more transparency when it comes to government spending of all kinds, and, as Governor, she initiated the Alaska State Division of Finance Checkbook Online, which allows everyone to see every project over $1000 that the state has spent money on.  Now, to be fair, both McCain and Obama co-sponsored the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which created a national database of federal spending, found at www.usaspending.gov and www.federalspending.gov.  Curiously enough, on Obama’s Senate website, there is nothing about McCain in relation to the bill, even though the link that he provides links you to a Library of Congress page which states that Obama and McCain sponsored the bill on the same day, 4/6/2006.  Another interesting fact: despite the fact that the bill passed unanimously, two senators placed “secret holds” on the bill: Senator Ted Stevens (longest-serving Republican) and Senator Robert Byrd (longest-serving Democrat).  Looks like they need some turnover in the Senate, and not the apple kind.

The administration of federal money to the states is usually done for federal projects, i.e, roads, highways, infrastructure, land maintenance.  This leads me to:

“The Bridge To Nowhere”

A follow-up comment from cthulhu at Hot Air:

Oh, yeah — I forgot — and that distinction between Federal funds and earmarks is exactly what happened with the Bridge to Nowhere.

There was a bill regarding Federal funding of highways — “spend $XXX on highways”. So far, so good. And highway projects are typically some percentage Federal and some percentage State. But Stevens had put in an earmark saying, “spend $XXX on highways, including $400M on the Bridge to Nowhere”.

Palin responded by saying, “we’ll spend anything the Feds want to send us for the purpose of building and maintaining useful highways, but the cost/benefit on that bridge is embarrassing — not a dime of State money will go toward that project.”

That’s why all the news at the time — before she was a nominee for vice-president — said that she’d killed the Bridge to Nowhere. Without the State money, it would have to be 100% Federal…and the amount earmarked wasn’t enough to pay for the whole thing.

That mirrors what Palin said when she effectively killed the bridge project:

Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here. But we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.

Therefore, her comment from her speech at the RNC was correct:

“I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere”

Some have tried to smear her on the fact that the state kept part of the money allocated for the bridge, however, in a state that is 65%+ federally-owned-and-managed…

Isn’t that the essence of fiscal conservatism?  The Federal Government is obviously too inept to use the money themselves, so give it back to the states.  Palin is right on this issue.  The states are more apt and able to manage that money, and put it to use where it belongs.

P.S. Needless to say, that is one of the best Hot Air comment posts of the year.  It does everything comments should do: inform, entertain, and start debate.

Shame On You, Barack Obama

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 14, 2008 by mb007bpd

Pretty much self-explanatory.

As of this writing, there are 239,007 Youtube views, and it’s still on YouTube and the Obama campaign website

The fact that Obama has not issued a public, personal apology for this  is absolutely stunning.  When his Ad Team (or whatever he calls them…”Ministry of Probamaganda”) was making this ad, didn’t one person wonder why McCain “can’t send an e-mail”?  Didn’t one person think that since he can’t raise his arms over his head, that he might have some sort of physical impairment?   

Of course not.  Because blind allegiance has a funny way of blinding truth.

In the iconic words of Hillary Clinton,

Shame on you, Barack Obama!

Seven Years Later

Posted in Bulletproof Diction on September 11, 2008 by mb007bpd

Seven years later, and it still feels like yesterday.

The images of that morning will be forever seared into our memories.

Never has this generation seen such fear, such horror, such bravery, and such courage.

We must remember both the good and the evil from that day. 

We must never forget that radical Islam attacked us on that day, and we must continue to fight the encroachment of such an evil ideology on all fronts.   

We must never forget our ability as Americans to come together as we did in the hours, and days, and weeks following that September morning. 

Seven years have passed, but the memories still remain.  The families who lost loved ones that day are reminded every day of that fateful day.  Those of us who pause once per year cannot forget those who pause as they awaken from their beds every morning, as they see that empty place at the dinner table every evening.  We must always keep them in our prayers.

I would like to end with a quote by President Bush, something that he spoke poignantly today at the dedication of the remarkable memorial at the Pentagon, “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose.”  We will never forget.