Sunday, September 28, 2008

They've Broken Her Spirit

I'm not likely to ever fancy myself a fan of Sarah Palin, but I am starting to feel sorry for her. She did not, initially, come across as a complete imbecile. A few short weeks in the national spotlight, however, and she's not the perky "everywoman's woman" anymore.

She is an unquestionably easy target for anyone who's moderately informed, but she is an elected executive and I don't imagine that the people of Alaska would elect an utter fool. A lack of major population centers does not, of itself, lead voters to be pig ignorant. (As a Montanan born and raised, I take issue with the idea that rural=bumpkin.) If Palin is actually as stupid as she's looked lately, she would not be a functioning member of society. I mean really. No way am I ever going to cast a vote for her, but she's a human being and I'd like to see her treated as one.

I've been thinking for awhile that McCain did Palin a major (and perhaps shameful) disservice by dumping her into the national spotlight. No real preparation, no chance of actual success, and a career pretty much toilitized if they don't go all the way. Sarah Palin is no Geraldine Ferraro, obviously, but I don't think it's fair to make her suffer through the public drubbing she's getting.

What's an obvious conclusion to draw from Palin's declining performance and general aura of incompotence since we first met her at the Republican convention? An article from The New Republic speculates that the McCain campaign has broken her. I tend to suspect that they've got it exactly right.

If I were an evangelical, I'd be pissed. McCain has brought the "culture war" front and center with a punching bag. Setting evangelicals everywhere up for public ridicule. Now, we just have to wait and see how many McCain supporters are going to put up with this.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hooray for Pirates!

Lest we forget the value of religion in society today, I would like to point out the stellar example of Pastafarians in Arkansas. Truly the best possible response to the lunacy that is Westboro Baptist "Church". Brilliant. Just brilliant. Thank you, Arkansas Pastafarians.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Decade of Decadence

A lot of us, myself included, poked fun at Nader during his presidential run because of our perception of him as an old crank. He may well be an old crank, but he had it right while others had it wrong, at least with regard to scandalous banking.

Alert reader Jon sent me this article which is worth a moment (or two!) of your time. For those of you who aren't link-clickers, Nader rather eerily described the events we've been watching unfold. The final paragraph of the piece suggests a scheme for keeping regulators accountable, and I'd love to know if that ever came to pass. If these goons managed to do this much damage in spite of that, well, they are even less scrupulous than I thought.

Nader was wrong about one thing back in 1999, though. He thought we'd look back and wonder how we could have all been so asleep through this disastrous deregulation. Hardly anybody is wondering. We're just busily believing President Panic that we need to cough up lots of money to make it all better. This, my friends, is what happens when "regular" people refuse to take any interest whatsoever in yucky old politics. No government oversight, except by people we label as cranks and then ignore. Is coughing up $700 billion really less distasteful than paying attention every now and then?

My feelings on this bailout are the same as yesterday. Many thanks to my bro for pointing me to the perfect (tasteless, crass, morbid) picture to help me summarize:


Posted on Natuba

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Of Homesteads and Houses

Due to my desire to procrastinate on the housework, I'd like to take a moment to make a wild historical comparison between irresponsibly regulated financial institutions and irresponsible railroad expansion. I'd love to hear your perspective, dear reader, as to whether or not my comparison is valid.

Back in the olden days, we here in the US were looking to populate the continent from coast to coast. The Homestead Act helped achieve this goal, and homesteaders claimed lands (often from indigenous peoples) at a tremendous rate. When railroads got to be big, more of the countryside became reachable than ever before. (Huzzah! USA! USA! USA!) But, the railroads needed refueling and water stations all along the way in order to operate. How do we give more people a chance to farm, industry an opportunity to expand, and make our country great? Hmmm...

The Homestead Act. Originally signed into law by Abe Lincoln, it could be "improved" upon to convince people to move to the real hinterlands. All of the best arable farmland was taken, but there was dry land that needed train tracks through it to get us from coast to coast. As a result, you could get as much as 640 acres of land (as opposed to 160 acres for a regular homesteader) as a bonus for taking a risk on this new kind of farming. Procedures for farming (read:destroying) semi-arid land were developed and demonstrated to wide-eyed dreamers. My great-grandfather was one of those, and he had the misfortune to see an impressive example of what was possible in a very wet year. He, and and many, many others headed west.

Montana's population more than tripled in less than 20 years as a result of this expansion of the Homestead Act. For some very good perspective on this, I recommend this article. Go ahead and read it-this page will be waiting for you when you get back.


Fascinating, eh? The unusually rainy years came to an end when my grandfather was born. People lost their homes. They starved. Gramps told stories of families too poor to afford a stamp to write to family back east for help. Sixty thousand people left Montana in the 1920s. What began as a seemingly reasonable plan to achieve something great failed dramatically. Real people suffered in earnest, and the railroads carried on.

It's ridiculous to compare homesteaders to people who borrow beyond their means, but I think the legislative and regulatory situations are very similar. In an attempt to stimulate growth, we relaxed regulation on major industry and incented lots and lots of people to take major risks to bolster that growth. Whether it's railroads or the housing industry, Americans have invested heavily. In the case of the dry land homesteaders, they simply failed and moved on to deal with the effects of poverty and disappointed dreams for generations. Today's honyocker (a term used to describe those short-lived dryland homesteaders) has too much house that's been foreclosed AND gets to pay for a loan (and interest on that loan) back to the people who sold it to them in the first place. At least this time people aren't starving to death and the costs are being shared. Small consolation.

One of the figures I've heard floating around is that this bailout is the equivalent of $10,000 for each household in the nation. Me, I'd rather have the $10k myself. The investment bankers can go build railroads.

Investment Banking Wall of Shame

With all of the house cleaning/unpacking that needs doing here at Steingruebl World Enterprises, I've had a lot of time to listen to radio coverage of this whole "save the planet by throwing money at investment bankers" mess. It is an understatement to say that I'm angry. Livid. The de-regulators, the greedy investors, the greedy bankers, the irresponsible mortgage peddlers and the overreaching mortgage acquirers. Why is this my problem? How is stuffing the front end of this ridiculous gravy train going to help the rest of us? Yeah, I'm mad.

Let's start with the de-regulators. The initial goal was to make money cheaper so that more people could afford to buy their own homes. Admirable, I suppose. But did we need to make it so easy as to encourage irresponsible borrowing? Not likely. Astute readers will recognize a lot of the names in this fabulous article about our deregulating deregulators.

Next, I would like to point out a few CEOs who, along with their impressive salaries, should be held personally and publically responsible for some of this. I've linked to articles with pictures of each of these goofballs. Not just the guys currently in charge, but also their predecessors who ran their companies into the ground before bailing. Feel free to memorize each of their faces so you can shun them if you get the chance.

Stan O'Neal, Merrill Lynch CEO emeritus
John Thain, Merrill Lynch
Martin Sullivan, AIG CEO emeritus
Robert Willumstad, AIG (refuses his golden parachute)
Dick Fuld, Lehman Brothers
James Cayne, Bear Stearns CEO emeritus
Alan Schwartz, Bear Stearns

And, a shout out to mortgage brokers. Fannie and Freddy, Countrywide, and others. For shame. All the creeps making money off lending more than they knew people could reasonably afford. Just because there is no risk to you doesn't mean it's right. A guy from Countrywide pre-approved us for a ginormous mortgage several years ago, but it looked too financially risky so we stayed renting. A talk with another, independent, mortgage broker confirmed the wisdom of our choice. Not everyone was lending irresponsibly. It's not an excuse. Shame on you.

Finally, I would like to stamp my foot and point my finger at people who who borrowed and bought beyond their means. You knew how much money you made. You knew the terms of your mortgage. You bankrupted yourself and blighted your neighborhood. The fact that "everyone was doing it" is no excuse. Not everyone was doing it. Some of us have showed restraint and for our trouble we get to live with your mess. Once you're done feeling like a victim in this $700 billion crisis, go ahead and feel a little personal responsibility.

I would like to point out that all of this crazy cheap money lying around is largely to blame for the cost of housing. If massive mortgages weren't so readily available, so many people wouldn't be paying so much for so many houses. (Duh!) Now that prices are artificially high and money isn't cheap (or even available) we're in a mess. It's not just these junky securities that need a write-down in value, it's everyone's houses. We're not as rich as we think we are. And because nobody has done anything Wrong, we're all poorer. Capitalism isn't necessarily a synonym for social irresponsibility, we just manage to interpret it that way. Ironically, we let the unscrupulous prosper and then socialize the risk. And the results.

So there you have it. My finger-pointing on the mess for which I'm going to spend the rest of my life (as will my descendents) paying. Not amused.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Clean Your Bathrooms, People

I'm not exactly a paragon of housewifery and sparkly bathrooms, but I do have standards. But, when I swipe a wall with a damp cloth, I expect both towel and wall to stay their original color. How on earth does one render every square inch of a bathroom that dirty? I'm pretty sure I don't want to know.

Tuesday was supposed to be my day to get all kinds of things unpacked and put away. Instead, I spent it scrubbing the downstairs bathroom. Every last inch of it. It's going to take a few months of regular cleaning to get the last of the soap scum. I'm hoping that the Mr. Clean magic erasers will get the strange color out of the grout by the sink. I mean, really, how much face powder does one countertop really need?

So yes, I'm judgmental. The previous tenants of this place didn't clean. At all, apparently. The landlady did a bang-up job of mucking things out, but there is room for further improvement. I'm looking forward to unpacking and getting all settled in. I'll be cleaning as I go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Hi everyone!

We did it! We moved! The new house is lovely, if chaotic. The old house has waaaaay too many things that didn't sell in the garage sale. I'm glad that we have a few weeks left to get everything moved out/cleaned up. because honestly, I'm worn out.

Elise was sick for moving day, and has been pretty miserably congested all weekend. Today, however, she was feeling very well. All of that energy was a little hard for the grownups to take, but Beaker seemed to benefit from the competition. The two of them were zany and loud all day today. I'm hoping to get Elise outside a LOT tomorrow. Beaker too, maybe.

The concept of yesterday's garage sale was a little tricky for Elise to handle. Of course, she never plays with her baby toys anymore, but that doesn't mean she wants to get rid of 'em. Tricky stuff. Especially for the child of a couple of terminal pack-rats. We talked it over, and she was willing to let a few things go without a fight with the knowledge that we'd take the proceeds to get something more suitable for a big girl. It seemed reasonable at the time.

Those who know me well know that I have a real problem with Disney. And that I'm not too thrilled about Barbie dolls. Those who are familiar with the concept of foreshadowing now have a very good idea as to the toy Elise chose. If you guessed "Cinderella Barbie," you're a winner! And your prize is to keep track of the @#$% glass slippers, tiara and scepter that fall off all over the place. Mwahahahahaha. I'm hoping the princess craze will be short-lived. But I'm not holding my breath as I don't care to turn as blue as Cinderella's sparkly dress.

We're still waiting for the tooth fairy here. Elise's loose tooth refuses to fall out, in spite of the fact that its replacement is already completely through. Ugh. She has yet to figure out just how squeamish wiggly teeth make me, which I think is a good thing. More updates as we have 'em.

Anyway, we're well. We're tired. We'll take some pictures someday, and might even post 'em! Hopefully, things will come together quickly now and I'll be back in the swing of my virtual life again soon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You've Got to Be Kidding

I promise that this will not turn into an all politics, all the time blog. Really. But golly, I take a day away from the interwebs to pack and I return only to learn that a nominee for Vice President thinks she's the current VP. In other words, she's not cooperating with a government investigation because she doesn't wanna, so there.

Can this possibly be real?! I had mostly discounted Obama's "more of the same" catchphrase as simply that-a catchphrase. But it's starting to ring a little too true. Theramin style. And it scares the bejeebus out of me.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Cotton-Poly Blends Unite

It's a little hard to believe that an ignoramus in Florida can get national attention for being a cranky old man. And yet, in today's world he can. Of course, I'm doing my part to spread this mess around. But the guy is so comical and therefore an easy target. "Obama Half-Breed Muslin" indeed, you old coot.

Or at least easier than all of the quiet bigots who honestly believe they couldn't possibly be one of those horrible people who's a racist. There was a fascinating piece on NPR the other day which talked about people's experience with issues of race and their bearing on their election choices. By the end, I was disheartened that we are generally all so deluded. But, I also noticed that the participants were more aware of their bias as a result of their discussion.

I think that it's time to finally put to rest the notion of color-blindness as a virtue. People notice different skin colors. The key is to aware of your response to race, and do something productive with it. Many others have said this more eloquently than I, but seeing this doofus in action reminds me that we all have our own inner dufus. It's probably time to get in touch. A knee-jerk vote (regardless of the recipient thereof) is not in anyone's interest.

What's your inner dufus saying these days? And what crazed sign will it put out on your front lawn?

Beyond the Palin

Nothing says "successful marketing ploy" like a VP candidate that nobody can stop talking about. It's so reassuring to see that stupidity can still overshadow any attempt at thoughtful public discourse. Stay classy, John McCain. Way to serve.

We decided that watching some cage fighting on TV last night would be more relaxing than watching Charlie Gibson's interview of Sarah Palin. It turns out we were right. At least based on my bloodpressure after watching this clip.

I'm sure at this point that my readers from Montana are wondering why Palin qualified for a spot on the Republican ticket but Judy Martz didn't.

Disgracefully ignorant. I haven't mustered a donation for Obama yet, but I think now may be the time. My other action item for this week has been to join the ACLU's Constitution Voter campaign. Take a look and see if you're a Constitution Voter too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hooray for Dr. Rabitz

I am officially no longer negligent with regard to my child's dental care. We went yesterday, Elise was a reluctant star, and all is right with the world.

Those bottom front big-kid teeth are pushing right up through, and I expect that the Tooth Fairy is going to be very busy very soon. The surprise of the day was that her top front teeth are on the way in as well. If she still has her baby teeth up there by Halloween I will be surprised. Wow!

In spite of the fact that Elise is a better tooth grower than I was, her jaw is small and the good doctor (who wears a hat with Bugs Bunny on it, given his name and all) quietly mentioned early orthodontia. As some of my faithful readers are aware, Elise still sucks her thumb in times of stress and when she's falling asleep. Dr. Rabitz gave her a very serious talk about stopping. As in, "I want you to go home and tonight, do not suck your thumb. Not even a little bit. And if you can do that, you can have TWO prizes the next time you come here." Ever the negotiator, Elise said she could probably do that for one night for a prize, but that's about it. The good doctor clarified his position by saying, "No-do not suck your thumb again at all."

From there, Elise got very quiet and a bit squirrely. She does this when she's upset and doesn't know what to do about it. We talked about the thumb issue when we got out to the parking lot, and reached the understanding that "no more, not ever" sounded pretty scary but that she will try her very best to see just how little thumb-sucking she can do. According to her teachers, she talked about thumb sucking quite a lot at school and attempted to do her rest time without it. As of this writing, I've heard her stir in her bed some but it hasn't been followed by the usual slurping sounds. Hooray! I hope it sticks.

Other bonuses from the day were that Elise got her very own new toothbrush to bring home (Spongebob Squarepants), a prize (a miniature butterfly shaped slinky), her picture on the "no cavities" wall, and her name in a drawing for a new bike (open to anyone who has a cavity-free checkup.)

The staff did a great job of explaining everything they were going to do before they did it, and it was amazing to watch the play of emotions across Elise's face. When we came to the parts that scared her most, I thought she was going to cut and run, or at the very least shriek like a mortally wounded banshee. But she didn't. In all of the worry about the thumb-sucking, we didn't really get a chance to celebrate the fact that she lived through something that has terrified her since she first heard the word "dentist." What a brave kid. We are so proud of her!

Finally, you will all be pleased to note that Dr. Rabitz informed me that our precious bodily fluids have remained unsullied since our move to San Jose. That's right, we're part of that lucky 30% of California WITHOUT FLUORIDE IN THE WATER. So now we don't have to wait for it to rain so that we can have drinking water, and we can stop giving Elise that grain alcohol at bedtime. (We saw Dr. Strangelove on TV Monday night.) Good grief. On the plus side, we are now the proud posessors of a year's supply of fluoride tablets.

Feel free to offer congratulations to our big kid in the comments. :) And stay tuned for news on this very, very wiggly tooth!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Moving Update

Today, Elise and I hauled a few more things to the new house and bummed around in the yard. Since the recent hot spell seems to be over, it was downright pleasant both inside and out. That $3 wading pool was a great investment.

Elise's bedroom is really starting to come together. We got her a canopy just like her friend Rista's, and she is enamored of it. I think she could spend the rest of her natural life playing under it, and we haven't even got the bed in there yet. Yay! It's going to be the world's best kid room. Or close to it, anyway.

In spite of the slightly odd shape of the master bedroom, we've got the furniture figured out and it's going to be awesome.

Of course, I also discovered that we have a pantry moth infestation. I'm at a loss as to how to clean all of the various crevices in the pantry (and I think also in the oversized cupboard in the 1st floor bathroom), so I'm mostly just littering the joint with sticky traps equipped with girly-moth pheremones. Hopefully, I'll nail a reasonable portion of the adults before we start moving in with food and the problem will go away on its own. Anybody out there have advice?

The neighbor's house can only be described as decrepit, and she seems to purposely be allowing pigeons to roost. I don't understand it. I do, however, note that the damn things are on my roof as well, and seem pretty content about it too. I'm dreaming of a hawk windsock or perhaps an owl or some other form of pigeon scaring device that won't also scare away the itty bitty fluffy gray birds that live in the orange tree. Again, I could use some advice.

There are ants all around the foundation and hornets nesting above the back door, but I know exactly what to do for them. Mwahahahahahaha.

Oh, and because we now have vast counter space at our disposal, I finally get to set up the item I've been coveting ever since my friend Raeghan told me about hers. Kitchen fish! The little aquarium I got to serve as a night light for Elise when she was a baby (it's too bright for that) now sits in the corner of our new counter, just below a little window. It's going to be awesome.

Only 9 more days to go! The house isn't nearly messy enough, and I'm going to be spending the rest of this week packing like a fiend.

Tomorrow was going to be a big push, but I was able to get Elise into the dentist mid-morning so at least the first half of the day will be a bit of a wash. On the plus side, we can see the new tooth that's growing in, and the wiggly tooth is now so loose that I get the heebie-jeebies just looking at it. And Elise is talking a little differently because of it, which I am just loving. She has a little wooden box that will be just perfect as a tooth-fairy mailbox, and she's anxiously awaiting the chance to put it to use. I'm thinking of how to make a miniature, sparkly note from the tooth fairy to put in there. Especially now that I packed all of the crapft supplies...

Okay, that's really it. I need to sleep! Will post more "exciting" moving details as they become available.

Not Amused

I was going to try to ignore Sarah Palin. And, I still maintain that we all should. But that appears to be impossible, so I'd like to share a few items that I think are essential for any voter who might be temporarily insane enough to consider casting a vote for a ticket that includes this person.

First, there are plenty of letters purportedly by Wasilla residents. Check out Snopes for help sorting the wheat from the chaff. After you're done there and maybe feeling a little humor impaired, head for Palinfacts. If she can make up stuff in her convention speech, you should at least get to play along.

What with the sun rising in the east and all, I found the Washington Post piece about Palin's family politics particularly informative. I will also point out that Britney Spears was widely criticized for not putting her kid in a carseat, but small-town values Palin got to fire the only person who warned her about the same thing. And that's the least worrying of the "oversights" detailed in the article. No wonder they won't let her give real interviews.

I tend to steer clear of leftist media for the same reason I steer clear of the rightists because of the proud disavowal of objectivity. It hurts my brain. So, take what you will from this Mother Jones article. Cheney gets away with this crap because he's downright scary. I defy anyone to let Palin get away with it just because she's a girl.

And, just in case you aren't utterly sick of every government scandal being known as some sort of "gate" (I want more attention to fences. I hear they make for good neighbors...), Troopergate is coming to a political theater near you. Unless the investigation is quietly derailed. We just report the news-you decide.

Because I am an uppity elitist and, like, value education and thinking and stuff, I will now point out that George W. makes Sarah P look like a Rhodes Scholar. Snark snark snark. I'm not impressed, but somebody out there please explain to me why I should be and I'll attempt to mend my ways.

Just in case anyone stumbles across this blog while googling for the Painted Pitbull, I'd like to point out that I'm not anti-Palin. I'm just anti-SARAH Palin. If you must give your support to a Palin, go for the one with the best qualifications:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

This is Why I Can't Get to Bed at a Decent Hour

The internet, it's just so much fun!

C'mon-you know you're dancing too.

Impending Visit

We've been noticing an odd gap in the lower part of Elise's smile over the past week or so. Every time I see that space and the way her teeth are bunching together on the far side of said gap I cringe. We've been told since she was very little that we needed to get to the dentist by her 3rd birthday, but somehow I've managed to put it off. A long time. At first, it was because the very mention of going to the dentist would lead (literally) to wailing and gnashing of teeth. Lately, though, it's been laziness. Sheer laziness. It feels good to admit that. Now maybe I'll get off my duff and make an appointment with the pediatric dentist all of my friends (and their kids) love.

Near as we can tell, all of those migrating teeth are due to at least one new one growing in. At least one tooth is very wiggly and will be falling out in the next few weeks I'm sure. I want to get that dental appointment made soon so that we can figure out if this is "normal" or the result of mommy's neglect. Isn't not-quite-five a little young for losing teeth? I just can't remember. Mom, Dad, when did the Tooth Fairy start leaving me those Susan B Anthony dollars?

So, now the entire universe knows my panic that my kid will be toothless as a result of my ineptitude. Regardless, we're expecting a visit from the Tooth Fairy sometime soon. More on this story as it develops...


Nothing says "we have arrived" quite like inviting your best friend over to play in your backyard. I know I've been boasting about our new place a lot these days, but these are exciting times for us so please bear with me.

Sometimes, I forget that CA has seasons. It doesn't snow here in San Jose. It doesn't ever get particularly cold, either. Very confusing. When we first got here, I was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to discover that nobody sells kites in September. We get some nice, sustained winds around this time of year. In the spring, it's more gusty. But, kites are for spring so they are stocked accordingly.

Yesterday, we went looking for a wading pool. It's been unseasonably hot here for the past week or so, and we thought Elise would like to do some splashing about. Well, it's been "fall" for the past month or so. If you didn't have a place for a kiddie pool or a sprinkler back in January when the stores were selling such things, you're out of luck. We tried our luck at Toys R Us, and didn't even find a section of clearance summer stuff. Really?! But it stays warm here until well into November! Finally, Andy found a section with a few boxes of kiddie pools. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that one of the few remaining pools in the store cost a whopping $3. Including tax. Score!

So, we bought that sucker and took it to our new yard. Elise wasn't sure at first, but I cleverly started filling it before the whole thing was inflated and forbade her to climb in until I was done. Nothing like pent-up demand to overcome apprehension over something new. (Well, new to us since the last time she ~really~ played in a wading pool was in Job's former back yard in Chicago 2 years ago. Yes, we are delinquent parents.) Oh, the joy! Oh the fun! I called up my friend Danielle to see if she wanted to bring her daughter over to play too. They live a block away (albeit across a busy street), so we can do things like this now.

Not much in this universe is more fun than watching like-minded four-year-olds play. The shrieking, the giggling, the running, the arbitrary rule making, the co-operating, the arguing and making up, the more giggling. For a long while, we wondered if Elise was getting all of the socialization she needed since she can be sooooo shy around other kids and (still) generally prefers to play on her own. And then we met Rista. United by a common love of Dora, dancing, running and being silly, these two are the best of friends. When they meet up, they take one another by the hand and head off on adventures. Just like that. A thing of beauty.

So, the grownups sat in the shade and chatted while the girls ran and splashed and giggled and otherwise carried on. A beautiful day in any season.

Friday, September 5, 2008

When life gives you a lemon tree...

...make lemonade!

We did last night, and it was tasty. I had no idea such juicy lemons existed anywhere.

Of course, it's not all sunshine and happiness. We've been having a hard time leaving this new house when it's time to go back to our "old house." Elise has these loud, shrieking tantrums complete with writhing on the ground. Given that we have central AC here and not there and it's going to be 99 today and 98 tomorrow, we may just avoid the place during the day this weekend. So many problems solved at once! (Note to self:acquire more fans before next summer...)

Once we get our ladder moved over, we'll be able to harvest some of the oranges from the orange tree and make orange juice for breakfast. Yum!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Culture Wars

I've been wasting a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what's going on with the McCain*Palin ticket. After a flurry of stupidity from both Democrats and Republicans, I think I've got a handle on this thing.

It's the culture war. Stupid.

Listening to the various convention speakers tonight, I thought they started with sane (if Republican) speakers and ended up in wingnut land. That ex-mayor of NYC has his very own version of reality. The speakers went from professional to folksy. I think Giuliani was a deliberate set-up for Palin. An unknown, they wanted to make sure that no matter how she performed she'd look good. She has a great, folksy delivery. She also has an interesting grasp of reality.

I think that the down-hominess will get the social conservatives to pipe up again. And if anyone argues with the folksy "wisdom" of homespun "facts" they are a misogynist. While we're at it, nobody has a moral compass like the the good "Christians" who revile homosexual human beings, ban library books, give their kids sub-par sex education, and are too cool for school when it comes to biology class. I hate this crap with a passion, and can't believe I live in a country where this circus not only takes place but is also taken seriously. Dude, at this rate we're all going to be envious of Malaysia.

Because we have two gigantic political parties that try to unite bizarre constituencies in order to get votes where they need 'em, it is possible to watch the convention of your party of choice with your own personal bias and never hear a word with which you disagree. It's all about the subtext. Every interested constituency has its own code words and phrases that kinda blend in. It's easier for me to spot the looney when I watch the Republicans.

For me (and my personal bias) Palin is about the most horrifying VP candidate imaginable in this election. Obama came to wide attention because of his insistence on cooperation in service of common interest. Palin is a star because she calls bullshit on that and tells the (in my opinion) frightened and small that they can turn back even our limited social discourse until it is "safe" and devoid of substance. This us v them nonsense is a distractor from intelligent debate and virtually guarantees ill-conceived social and foreign policy regardless of who "wins" the presidency.

I'm sick of it. While it is clearly fun for an awful(ly) big group of people to treat public policy as a competitive team sport, it's stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. My temptation is to crawl under a rock and hide, but that doesn't accomplish anything. Wars are depressing. And our nation's ongoing culture war is really getting to me. Do I have to join in to keep the "other side" from "winning?" Dunno. Yuck.