Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Entering hostile territory

A few days ago I had an experience at Subway that I can only describe as jarring.

But before I get into it, I have to describe what I was wearing. Lately, I've grown out what can be generously described as scruffy hair - I haven't had a haircut since at least early July, and my hair is taking on its typical longish-hair curl mess that makes me look five again. I like to think that my head is starting to look like my brain thinks. Add to that a T-shirt my mom got me in Washington, D.C., which features a marijuana leaf superimposed on the White House, with the slogan, "Keep off the grass!" (Which I do, by the way.) I particularly enjoyed wearing it around Salt Lake City, where people asked me constantly what it meant. On Thursday, I paired that shirt with some green beach jams whose nondescript-plant pattern could be misconstrued as pot from a short distance. Keep that image in mind.

After heading to the park and riding my bike 11 miles down the trail (I'm slacking lately - wearing weed really saps your ambition), I walked into Subway. After a blonde girl greeted me, she and another woman immediately turned their heads back to the fully fatigued military man making nice with them. Real stud, too. Tall, thick, government-employed, everything I'm not. This guy's going to retire from his post right into the anchor slot of the evening news. The two women behind the counter can't stop flirting.

Blonde: "...So yeah, that's why I'm VOTING FOR JOHN McCAIN!"
Woman: "Of course!"
Blonde: "My favorite choice didn't make it, but McCain's the best that's left." (A true endorsement.)

Military Guy sits down with his food, and the women carry on as they turn to me.

Woman: "You know?"
Blonde: "My aunt used to work with Bill Clinton in Arkansas. She tried to run over him once."
Woman: "HA HA HA HA HA!!" [Looks at me as if it's weird that I find this weird.] "Right?"
Me: "Actually, my dad used to work on his campaign in 1992. They worked together at one point. I got to shake his hand too."
Blonde: "You did?"
Me: "Yeah. It was pretty cool for a kid, you know, to meet the future president."
Blonde: "He met a lot of people."
Me: "Still."
Blonde: "And you grew up, right?"
Me: "It was cool."
Blonde: "Hillary almost got it this time. But really, she had run before, right?"
Me: "Hmm?"
Blonde: "I mean, when Bill was president. She had time, because he was messing around."
Me: "Uhh...I'll have chicken breast on wheat..."

Remember how I said I had the pot leaf on my shirt, and the scraggly hair? I feel, at this point, if I even utter the name of...you know, that guy, the Change guy...I'm going to wind up in Guantanamo Bay with Harold and Kumar.

Once I had my sandwich and juice box (like I said, I'm five), I give the military guy a nod on my way out. He reciprocates, and (to my genuine surprise) does not beg me to join up. The last time I crossed paths with a military recruiter in an election year, they were screaming at me from a van in the street while I swept my front porch. Of course, that was in 1996, back when they had enthusiasm.

Even in Jeezus-lovin' Springfield, I've seen way more Obama bumper stickers and yard signs than their McCain equivalents. Indeed, the Subway incident was the first time I've found myself among an enthusiastic McCain throng (thought I'm not even sure I should include Military Guy in that - mostly, he smiled and nodded politely; for all I know, he's as ready for Change as anyone). But it did remind me that, in some dimensions, McCain really is the right old man for the presidency, and that I'm the radical for thinking differently. Kind of the way I felt living in Lafayette, LA at the height of the Bush years (where at least 22 of Bush's 27 percent still lives).

Still, I'm happy that this experience has been so rare I've felt a need to blog about it. I look forward to going to this Subway again in a few months and hear these people complaining about how this country's going down the tubes. That's when I'll know it isn't.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burning questions (and other thoughts)

-- Someone explain to me why John McCain can't debate on Friday night. Is it really because he has to rush to Capitol Hill to rescue our biggest financial institutions? Is that happening Friday night? After a high school football game, perhaps? Is the maverick going to crack open a few and stay up all night solving the problem, despite his lack of standing in any financial committee, admitting to not having read the Paulson plan and having not voted in the Senate since April? Did the legislative branch get together and say, "What we really need is that guy who says he knows little about the economy to inject politics into this process. Yeah, the one running on Bush's successful policies?"

I'm sorry, but McCain's huff to "put politics behind" in this time of crisis smacks of convenience, not to mention desperation. Kind of like the guy who calls his ex-girlfriend after a report of a car accident, "just to make sure it isn't you, and by the way, will you take me back?" If only I could think of some other example, preferably from politics - like, say, a deeply unpopular president with no verbal skills excused from a speech at the Republican convention so he can monitor Hurricane Gustav from hundreds of miles away. Or, perhaps, a vice presidential nominee so woefully unsuitable for the national stage that her current seclusion makes Dick Cheney look like a ray of Sunshine Law.

And why exactly does the financial meltdown preclude Sarah Palin from debating, anyway? Some are actually suggesting this, as if she's rearing to go, but dangit, there are some things more important than talking about the issues, and the governor of Alaska is somehow a pivotal player in the battle in Washington. Maybe they need to harness her direct line to God, you know, the one that blesses her with oil pipelines but not the slightest hint of intellectual curiosity. Divine deference, perhaps?

-- Is it just me, or did George W. Bush blame the financial crisis on the people in his speech last night? Yes, a lot of people took out loans and took on mortgages they couldn't ultimately afford, leading to a massive jump in foreclosures and the virtual collapse of the housing market. But shouldn't the lenders themselves shoulder some of the blame? After all, they did take advantage of deregulation to offer risky subprime loans that used to be against the law. A homeless person can't buy a Bentley, but that doesn't mean he won't try if some strip mall opens an "E-Z Bentley" joint that takes payment in food stamps. What's the worst that could happen? To paraphrase Barack Obama, "Bush talks about the 'ownership society.' What that means is, 'You got owned.'"
All hail unfettered capitalism!

-- Obama insists the debates are going forward as planned. Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney has reportedly offered to step in if McCain bails. That would be the coolest thing ever, except maybe for McCain facing what he doesn't want to face. Obama critics complain that he says "um" way too much when speaking off-the-cuff, and he does. As annoying as that can be, however, what he says in between is always measured, intelligent and decisive. Maybe we should try a president who actually thinks for once.

On a side note, I'm surprised so many people deride Obama for saying "uh," when it's a hugely common speech pattern. Don't we want people Just Like Us in the Oval Office, or that does that count only when the candidate isn't too smart?

--Has anyone else noticed that our presidential tickets hail from Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Panama and Idaho? And that they currently represent Illinois, Delaware, Arizona and Alaska? I can only imagine how this is playing out among southern rednecks. Heartland values, indeed.

-- Was yesterday Spam Wednesday? I was bombarded with mass e-mails from seemingly every activist group, charity, foundation, magazine, alumni association, credit bureau and blog ring I've ever heard of (and many more I haven't). If an e-mail went out with a CC in America yesterday, I got it. Might also explain this other message I received:

"Dear John,
By the time you read these lines, I'll be gone.
Love, Banks."

-- A woman on the radio just referred to "wacko Islamic terrorists" in a cheerful voice while talking about Paul McCartney's upcoming Israel concert. You know that show "Mad Men," the one about the ad executives in 1960 who drink at work, chain-smoke and treat women like pieces of meat? When a show like that is made about these times, "wacko Islamic terrorists" is going to be a defining phrase.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How I found out the Saints lost

After attending a festival, I walked into a sports bar. This was the very moment that Martin Gramatica missed the game-ending kick, and a thicket of jersey-clad Broncos fans whooped like they've never lost a Super Bowl 55-10. Also, the woman who served my food had on a Broncos jersey. When I went two weeks ago, my server and the bartender both had on Reggie Bush jerseys.

When your only NFL options are the Chiefs and the Rams, I guess you latch onto whoever you can.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today, on Self-Interest Theater

Shorter Tina Hervey: "Obama is behind by five or six points in Missouri. You Democrats might as well pack up and forget this state even exists."

So who is Tina Hervey? She's communications director for the Missouri Republican Party. And here you thought she was just an active and concerned citizen whose job didn't involve desperate partisan politics. Hah!

In our next episode, an oil executive calls for more drilling!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Internal memos

To: New Orleans Saints payroll department
From: Sean Payton, head coach
Cc: Tom Benson, Bobby Hebert

Date / time: Sept. 14, 2008 (Between 3rd and 4th quarters)

I have just heard word that our direct deposits have not come through for this past pay period. We have no reason to believe this is intentional, but until we receive prompt payment for services rendered we will absolutely lie still and die. Thank you.

--Sean

--------------------------------------------

To: New Orleans Saints payroll department
From: Clinton Portis, Washington Redskins
Cc: Sean Payton, Tom Benson, the Saints "defense"

I have just received word that the Saints' direct deposits have failed to come through this past week. This is obviously a clerical error, as it is THIS week for which they should not be paid for "services rendered." You gotta render some services first. Oh!

Love, Clinton

---------------------------------------------

To: New Orleans Saints payroll department
From: Barack Obama
Cc: All my fans and Tom Benson

My tax plan will offer relief to 95 percent of working Americans. I regret to say that it will not apply to the Saints secondary.

Change, Barack

-----------------------------------------------

To: New Orleans Saints payroll department (New Orleans, AK)
From: Sarah Palin
Cc: Track

Your defense played like girls in the fourth quarter. Lipstick.

---------------------------------------------------

ReplyTo: All
From: New Orleans Saints payroll department
Cc: God

Thank you for your correspondence. We will address them as soon as possible. After all, we have the highest payroll in the NFL and we must remain No. 1. Trust us. We know what we're doing.

Toodles,
Agnes

Friday, September 12, 2008

McCain must REALLY not want us watching him



Since everyone else is making the comparison between Sarah Palin and Miss South Carolina, I'll make up my own:

Charles Gibson: "Do you enjoy cycling, Ian?"

Me: [Long pause] "In what respect, Charlie?"

Charlie: "As in, the definition of cycling since bicycles were invented."

Me: "I like to go from one place to another. And that's the beauty of America, being able to have the opportunity to change where you are. There are a lot of places to be. California and the Alaska, such as."

Charlie: "By cycling, I mean, getting on a bicycle and pedaling until you pick up sufficient speed to ride without losing your balance."

Me: [Wags fist at indeterminate focal point] "Look, if I want to go somewhere, I have every right to do it any way I can."

Wow. She shouldn't have done that.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"We cannot kill our way to victory"

Joint Chiefs chairman Mike Mullen: Afghanistan not going well, needs new direction

Gen. David Petraeus: No such thing as "victory" in Iraq

As high as the possibility is that these words will be perversely twisted by stupid people as a reason to stay Dubya's course, I still appreciate the candor of our military brass. Hopefully, we aren't too battered as a nation to rectify our mistakes, or dumb enough to continue eight years of politically charged disaster.

The cost is simply too high in every possible sense.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sigh...

Last week on Identity-Driven Politics, Sarah Palin said the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was lipstick. This week on the program, Barack Obama accuses John McCain of trying to put "lipstick on a pig," referring to the GOP's attempt to put a sheen on the past eight years of failed policies. But because SARAH PALIN IS A WOMAN, it's seen as a slight against her gender and her delicate nature (self-described pitbullness notwithstanding). So now Obama's poll numbers are dropping.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Republicans are able to make the worst possible choices in every conceivable way and still spin them to their advantage. That may help them in the short term, but it won't ever, ever make them right. At least I hope not.

John McCain lost my respect a long time ago. Sarah Palin never had it. And if these two get in office, I might have negative respect for the American public.

Sorry to be so frustrated today. But with the country crumbling around us in seemingly every way, and as someone who has spent his entire adult life awash in the consequences of decisions he did not endorse, I cannot stand to see this most crucial (and should-be slam-dunk) of all elections go the wrong way because of some ironic sexism.

Don't stand for that, Barack Obama. Please.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Extreme hits a new extreme

I bought a new toothbrush yesterday. (Don't all the best blogs start like this?)

With such a wide variety of toothbrushes crowding the supermarket shelf, I knew I had to be choosy. As tail-end members of Generation X, my teeth lead a rockin' life filled with hardcore sports, bites of reality and dental-grinding cynicism. So what sort of dentifrice applicator would fit best in the pocket of my favorite flannel pullover?



YEAHHH! RAWK ON, store-brand Oral-B knockoff! This is the toothbrush used by those extreme punks from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Gary Cherone, too, I imagine. Strong enough for the X-Games, but font-balanced for an ad in Prevention magazine!

It's actually a decent toothbrush. But even if it weren't, anything that gives me yet another excuse to shout, "That's EXTREEEEEME!" on a daily basis is a winner in my book.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Me for Vee Pee

That does it. I'm throwing in my hat for vice president in 2016.

Why 2016? I'll be 36 then, thus making me eligible, and also because that's when the Democrats will need a running mate again. That is, if simple logic prevails and Barack Obama becomes president.

"But, Ian! GOP-leaning voters aren't mere simpletons driven by fear and a mob mentality. They have plenty of intellectual considerations factoring into their decision as well."

I would certainly hope so. But in all the time Sarah Palin has been John McCain's running mate, I have yet to hear a single concrete argument in her favor. Yes, we've all heard the supposed demographic benefits ("She's good because she brings in the religious right, women voters with no principles, the anti-moose vote, etc.") as well as the cult of personality ("She's a gun-totin', moose-eatin' mama of five who's also a hottie!"). But as far as what sort of official clout she brings to the table, or what singular aspect of her leadership qualifies her above every other Republican to balance the ticket, I haven't heard much.

"But she has executive exp--"

Yes, but even if that wasn't just an easy talking point parroted by five million Palin apologists every two seconds, it still raises the question, "Why her?" Lots of able Republicans have WAY more executive experience than Palin, and probably less baggage. Also, they don't have to be sequestered from the press until they learn to answer simple questions, a la Dan Quayle. So, as of today, I still wonder what exactly makes Sarah Palin not only a worthwhile addition to the GOP ticket, but also the best person to stand a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the highest office in the world.

Instead, this is what we're getting as answers. An admirable stab from Cajun Tiger:

She is very solid pro-life. She is the mother of 5 children. Her last child has Downs Syndrome. She was told before his birth he would have Downs and it was suggested she consider an abortion. Palin didn't even give it a thought for one second. (Good thing the government didn't force that on her, hey?)

Her oldest son is in the Army and is deploying to Iraq on Sept. 11, so she knows what it is like to have a child in the military serving in Iraq. (So does Joe Biden, whose son Beau is set to ship out in October.)

She is very pro-2nd amendment. She is a lifelong member of the NRA. She is an avid hunter. (No candidate is in favor of repealing the 2nd Amendment. Michael Moore is also in the NRA.)

She is very solid on drilling as she is a huge proponent of drilling in ANWR. Alaska has 20% of US energy reserves. (A standard GOP stance on ANWR. Makes the Palin pick seem all the more like a strategic energy grab.)

She is a reformer. She challenged a Rep governor who was involved in corruption and beat him. (She ran on a reactionary "I'm Not Him" platform, and is now under investigation herself.)

And one of my personal favorites. She was the president of her FCA chapter when she played basketball in school. (I'm surprised she hasn't talked more about this. It would really beef up the PTA angle that's virtually the cornerstone of her campaign.)

Even more interesting is this list from Conservatism With Heart:

First of all, Palin has 8 years of Executive experience as Mayor and Governor. Obama has none.

Second, she has 2 years of Military experience being in charge of Alaska's National Guard. Obama has none...

Third, she has a diverse background of experience as a professional journalist, city council woman, Mayor, Governor and Mother of 5.

Fourth, she has gotten a lot done and has an incredible record for only being a Governor for 2 years. She has vetoed 300 spending proposals and has an 80% approval rating in Alaska.

Fifth, she knows what she thinks and is very articulate, attractive, passionate, idealistic and courageous. She has shown enormous courage with her oldest son going off to serve in the military and her youngest son having downs syndrome.

Sixth, she is a very competent person with a compelling story.

Seventh, she should never be underestimated. She defeated the incumbent when she ran for Mayor and she defeated the incumbent Republican Governor in the primary before going on to defeat the Democrat in the general election.

If Palin's two years as governor of a state with a population smaller than Obama's district helps her among swing voters, fine. It's telling how supporters always have to follow it up with "Obama does not have this specific experience," but whatever. What really grabs me are the other "qualifications" listed here. College education? Parent? Articulate? Attractive? Compelling story? It's about time we had somebody like that in this election!

In the interest of tit for tat, I'm throwing my cap in the ring as the next Sarah Palin. Here's why the political arena - and you, the American public - should cheer for me:

-- Was co-editor in chief of high school newspaper
-- Overcame adversity, small stature and complete lack of skills to play football and run track
-- Articulateness led to stint as Stage Manager in 7th grade class performance of Our Town
-- Was a nominee for "best looking guy" in high school (didn't win due to corruption)
-- Shot a BB gun once in Arkansas
-- Made campaign posters for friends running for student council in high school
-- Is the son of two parents, as well as brother of two
-- Mother was involved in PTC in elementary school
-- Grandfather was in the Navy Seabees during World War II and was once stationed in the Aleutian Islands
-- Once knew a former POW
-- Also knew a kid with Down syndrome
-- Doesn't hate pregnant people

But enough about my life prior to college. There's more!

-- Has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in English
-- Has executive experience executing tasks given by executives
-- Has worked as a freelance reporter, sportswriter, editorialist, copy editor, newspaper designer and blogger. Also, sports videography, retail and fast food.
-- Sports numerous scars on head, chin, back and lips, some of which are the result of health care
-- Was once asked to pose for a charity calendar
-- Has no kids, but has dated across several states, countries and cultures
-- Has been to California, a state with a governor
-- Drove a Chevrolet for 6 1/2 years
-- Loves apple pie
-- Has compelling stories to tell that he tells often
-- Remembers where he was on 9/11
-- Despite a Type-III concussion in 2000, is still articulate

Do your duty, fellow Americans.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Empathy for the unsympathetic

Remind me not to turn on a Rudy Giuliani speech at 2 a.m. The neighbors hate it when I shout.

Rudy and Sarah Palin reminded me last night why I could never be a Republican. I almost feel sorry for conservatives, so intensely defined by what they hate that their beliefs often clash like inbred chromosomes. Really, who wants that version of the world to be reality?

Let's assume for a moment that everything the GOP currently touts is correct. Let's say that the only way to ensure peace is to start war, that an intelligent and rousing candidate beloved the world over is bad for the U.S., that Sarah Palin doesn't need experience because John McCain has it but hey she does have executive experience and all women will vote for her because she has babies, and that the way to get Americans excited is to accentuate the qualities that divide us, real or imagined, etc. etc.

How can anyone find this even remotely appealing? What about this sneering, divisive, hateful, condescending, smug, petulant, ignorant, anti-intellectual, win-at-all-costs attitude is supposed to make my heart swell with pride? Am I supposed to well up with tears of joy when "America's Mayor" uses "community organizer" as a punch line for laughs and jeers? Is my heart supposed to palpitate with euphoria when 17-year-old Bristol Palin takes the stage with her boyfriend, both doomed to an extremely premature marriage caused by societal pressures and lack of sex education? Am I supposed to enjoy the whiplash my brain feels when GOP leaders flip-flop between trashing "career politicians" and praising "experience" and back again whenever expedient? Am I supposed to look up to people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and Ann Coulter as paragons of success? Should I accept a parade of reduced civil liberties because, "I have nothing to hide?" Do I feel patriotic when I watch what I say? Would I find America less of a country if "under God" were not in the Pledge of Allegiance? Am I supposed to feel relief when I hear the latest Angry White Male repeat the same old Angry White Male ideas, with the assurance that they'll actually work this time? Is my entire outlook on life destined to be defined not by what I stand for, but what I despise? And, finally, should I celebrate a complete inability to adapt to new facts, ideas and ways of life in the face of an ever-shifting humanity? And will it be satisfying to ruin others who can?

In a way, the divisive attitude exhibited at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night has been effective; whereas before I was simply uplifted by Barack Obama's call to unite America and take it in a positive direction, I am now further grateful that my concepts of success and humanity clash sharply with those espoused by conservatives.

I've never been prouder not to be somebody.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yeah, let's hope, huh?

Heard this on The Weather Channel during early Gustav coverage:

"If we're lucky, the hurricane will bypass New Orleans and move toward southwest Louisiana."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stuff I noticed about the RNC tonight

The All-Star Speechifying lineup of George W. Bush, Fred Thompson and Joe Lieberman. What, did Dan Quayle have a dentist's appointment?

The crowd chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A!" and "Country first!" over a race between a guy from Arizona and a guy from Illinois.

Some overexcited blowhard in the crowd who screamed, "YEAHHH!" or "JAHNNN!" every five seconds.

The entire Bush family as guests of honor, except for Dubya, who had to be at the White House because of Hurricane Gustav or something.

Bush sounding surprisingly articulate in his video address, almost as if he's relieved about something.

Talk about how John McCain can't salute the flag, but no talk about how unpatriotic that makes him like that other guy.

Cheering for Sarah Palin like she's the Second Coming of Woman Jesus.

Delegates who dress like it's 1988, and whose faces suggest they've waited that long for this thing to get started.

Images of McCain and the flag projected upon a massive screen that puts the whole "elitist Greek column" jab to shame.

Another pretty Congresswoman who I'm sure was chosen for her extensive position papers.

A black guy a few rows back. Wow. They aren't even trying this time.

About as much focus on Barack Obama as the Democratic convention, and just as many calls for change.

Sarah Palin tries to seduce me...


...over to her side. (If I didn't already have two Alaska plates, maybe...)

Across the Internets, conservatives are abuzz over the pick of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate. She has everything the McCain camp was looking for: youth, fervent conservatism and ovaries. PTA? More like VP, eh? (I'm here all week.)

With all else that is going on this week - most notably Hurricane Gustav (my family got hit directly, but they're all OK) - I've nevertheless been continually fascinated by the Palin saga. It was intriguing in the beginning simply because it was such a left-field (right-field?) choice, made seemingly on impulse. But as reports surfaced of who exactly Palin was as a leader, and how it meant the McCain campaign was toast/a shoo-in, my interest changed from one of politics to one of psychology.

Trolling news articles, analyses and blogs, I've noticed that righty reactions to Palin followed an arc from "Huh?" to "Huh." to "Uh-huh!" Reading and watching pundits so quickly warm to Palin, I'm reminded of this old joke:

Saddam Hussein decided one afternoon to hunt geese. So he marches into his palace, grabs a rifle and takes his perch with Baghdad Bob at his side. A crowd forms, eagerly awaiting a show of their dear leader's hunting prowess. Soon enough, a choice V-formation flies across the sky, and Saddam fires away. But he misses every single shot. The dictator looks steamed. As a hush falls over the crowd, Baghdad Bob rises from the perch.

"It's a miracle!" he says. "Dead birds flying!"

Today's Republicans are dealing with a lot of dead birds flying. Here's a sample of common sentiments expressed by Palin apologists:

"Palin is a smart pick, because anyone who questions her experience will look like a hypocrite for not questioning Barack Obama's as well." That's a hell of an expensive method just to set up what amounts to a schoolyard burn. And how exactly does picking the Harriet Miers of running mates make McCain look any better in this regard? Governor of Alaska? Obama's district has more people than the entire state. And two years ago, he wasn't mayor of Oak Park.

"She draws in the religious right." On the rare occasion that someone describing Palin's value to the ticket gives a straight answer, they say she has mobilized a powerful voting bloc that could make the difference for McCain. They point to her stance on abortion (no) as a powerful political tool. Which means, in an election cycle driven by a yearning for unity and change, the GOP is not only using the same old politics, but embraces them with a fervor bordering on cynical.

"She draws in female voters angered over Hillary Clinton's loss." Same issue. If Palin's nomination were any more sexist, McCain would be calling her "Toots." The implication here is that women are emotionally unstable grudge-holders who will vote for any XX chromosome dangled in their direction, even if that person holds diametrically opposite beliefs to their own. But if that didn't even work for Hillary among Democrats - most of whom like her, they just like Obama better - then why would that work on a national scale?

"She has more executive experience than Obama, Biden and McCain combined." I don't even know what this means, just that I've heard it almost verbatim dozens of times already. "Executive experience" seems to be one of those vague definitions you put out there when your candidate has little else to stand on, kind of the way bare-bones DVDs highlight "scene selection" as a feature. But beyond that, we never hear if such experience was good experience, or how it would be relevant to the White House in 2009. After all, since 2001 we've had an MBA president, and look how that turned out. And does anyone realize that such a comment is an admission that McCain lacks what they consider a top criterion for the presidency?

"What matters is who's at the top of the ticket, not second." Yes, seriously, people are saying this. It's laughable on its face, but it's additionally ridiculous when you consider that Palin would back up a 72-year-old man with war trauma and a history of melanoma. It's as if the New York Jets rehired Joe Namath to start at quarterback, and grabbed some kid fresh from the high school field to be his backup. Hey, it's Broadway Joe we're talking about here! He's got the experience, right?

"She young, fresh, etc." Yes, but the news that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, for all else that implies, might change that on a dime. If you go by Palin's premise that life begins at conception, then she just became a grandmother. And in a cycle defined by Change, Grandpa and Grandma might be a pretty hard sell. I have to admit, of all the ways I thought the Palin move would backfire, I would never have guessed this one. That's thinking outside the box.

Still, I expect the Republican Party faithful to sing Sarah Palin's praises well past the boundary of rationality, at which point they'll unintentionally set up this exchange:

"You worship Obama as your cult leader!"
"Look who's talking, Palin partisan!"

Finally, I leave you with the latest contribution to the Straight Talk Express. Enjoy!