Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for September 8th, 2008

Another report on Palin from a fellow Wasilla resident

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The full post is here, and it begins:

Ryan Quinn is a writer whose work has appeared in Outsports.com, XC Skier Magazine, and The Anchorage Daily News. He is a former college athlete and NCAA Division I National Champion, and came out to his teammates at the University of Utah during his sophomore year of college. He is often called upon to speak on panels discussing identity and social barriers in sports and culture. He was born and raised in Alaska, and now lives in New York City.

To my fellow Americans:

I’m an Alaskan. I grew up in Wasilla. Sarah Palin was my mayor. She wanted to ban books at the library where my parents taught me how to read. There have been many interesting pieces of journalism introducing my gun toting, mooseburger-eating former neighbors (I now live in Manhattan) to the rest of the country, and most have focused on how proud Alaskans are of their governor making the surprise leap to the big leagues.

Sarah Palin’s story is compelling, but it is one that could happen only in Alaska, where the politics and the economy are simple and where it’s not difficult to spend a lifetime sheltered from the complexities and diversity of the outside world. I love my home state; I wouldn’t trade my childhood there with anyone. And I hope the Palin intrigue will translate into a boost in tourism that will further enrich the state’s $5 billion budget surplus, so that when Gov. Palin returns to Juneau in November she can continue to serve Alaska’s interests with relative ease.

But as reporters roam the streets where I grew up, chatting with my ecstatic neighbors, I feel compelled to offer another view, as an American, by pointing out that John McCain has demonstrated an alarming lapse of judgment by choosing Sarah Palin as his party’s VP candidate. Choosing a running mate was his first and only concrete test of judgment in the campaign process. Here’s why he failed.

My fellow Alaskans have vouched for Palin as a charming, interesting person. I can add to that that she is perfectly friendly. But now she is running for the highest office and so it must be noted that Sarah Palin the Friendly Neighbor is different from Sarah Palin the Executive. The latter is a woman with intense agendas guided by a narrow set of culturally conservative and extreme religious values. She believes that abstinence should be the only form of sex education taught to teenagers; she believes that creationism should be taught alongside science in our schools; she is against a woman’s right to choose even in the cases of incest and rape; and her church believes gay and lesbian Americans can and, one assumes, should be corrected by prayer (“pray away the gay” is their cheery slogan).

When she was mayor of my hometown, these extreme views came off as petty and irrelevant to people like me who did not share them. There seemed little cause for alarm. Most Alaskans are happy to live and let live; we don’t think of ourselves as Republican or Democrat. Besides, as mayor, it’s not like she had the power to wiretap our phones, amend our constitution, or send us to war.

But she did try to use her power to ban books. Wasilla’s popular public librarian rightly objected, and the community rightly backed the librarian. The books were never banned, though Mrs. Palin did fire the librarian for not agreeing with her political views, then rescinded the firing after it was clear she’d made an unpopular decision. Sarah Palin’s behavior is revealing: in a state as isolated as Alaska, in a town as small as Wasilla, books are vital to the culture and to the education of its residents. The small town values I learned growing up included attending story hour at the public library. Those values most certainly did not include trying to ban books that the mayor’s church friends didn’t think other people should read.

It will be interesting to see what effect Gov. Palin’s penchant for reform will have on the McCain campaign. Will she put one of Cindy McCain’s private jets on eBay? Maybe one of the McCain’s seven houses? It certainly hasn’t meant she’ll answer any questions from voters or the press. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Daily life

Anomalous sensitivity

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As I see every criticism of Sarah Palin labeled a “smear,” I wonder at the response: the party of Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hanity, Bill O’Reilly—who knew that they were such tender flowers?

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 3:03 pm

Posted in GOP

Lifehacker reviews OpenOffice 3.0

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Or, as they call it now, OpenOffice.org 3.0. Take a look at the review. It’s a free software package, and some Later On readers like it a lot.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Daily life, Software

Cute ad for Minnesotans

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Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Roasted Brussels sprouts

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There are various recipes, but I’m making this one from the Barefoot Contessa:

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

I’ll probably include a cut-up red onion in the roasting. This will be good with watching a movie—a healthful substitute for popcorn (itself healthful save that I use lots o’ butter).

UPDATE: Extremely tasty—and easy. The first two bowls of it I had with Parmesan sprinkled over it, the last bowl plain.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 2:39 pm

Those who live in glass houses

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AP: “John McCain and Sarah Palin criticized Democrat Barack Obama over the amount of money he has requested for his home state of Illinois, even though Alaska under Palin’s leadership has asked Washington for 10 times more money per citizen for pet projects.”

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Daily life

I want, don’t you?

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UPDATE: Well, maybe not.

Luckily my car is a 1996 model: it makes the cut.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

CEOs who fail should forfeit big payoffs

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Mary Kane of the Washington Independent on the Fannie & Freddie rescue:

So far it looks like shareholders, employees and, of course, taxpayers are the big losers in the unprecedented Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac government bailout just announced over the weekend.

But some people are going to come out of this mess just fine, The New York Times says. And guess who that might be?

Departing chief executives Daniel Mudd at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Richard Syron could leave with lucrative pay packages totaling milions of dollars. All this despite the fact that the companies they headed failed so spectacularly the government had to step in.

From The Times:

Under the terms of his employment contract, Daniel H. Mudd, the departing head of Fannie Mae, stands to collect $9.3 million in severance pay, retirement benefits and deferred compensation, provided his dismissal is deemed to be “without cause,” according to an analysis by the consulting firm James F. Reda & Associates. Mr. Mudd has already taken home $12.4 million in cash compensation and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2004, according to an analysis by Equilar, an executive pay research firm.

Richard F. Syron, the departing chief executive of Freddie Mac, could receive an exit package of at least $14.1 million, largely because of a clause added to his employment contract in mid-July as his company’s troubles deepened. He has taken home $17.1 million in pay and stock option gains since becoming chief executive in 2003.

It’s nice to know that Syron, in the midst of a meltdown of his company that threatened the stability of the housing market and of the U.S. economy itself, took the time to redo his contract to ensure he would be enriched should Freddie Mac fail. It’s so inspring to have someone at the top looking out solely for himself while mortgage rates were going up and millions of Americans faced losing their homes.

That little tactic, in and of itself, should give the government more cause to step in and say: No way. We own the place now – and we no longer have to put up big salaries for no-talent executives to enjoy cushy retirements while everyone else pays for their mistakes.

Here’s hoping the government makes an example of these two — and quickly — before top executives at all those failing banks get the same idea and start rewriting their own employment contracts.

Socialism for the wealthy. No others need apply.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:34 am

The top wired colleges

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PC magazine has an interesting multi-page article on the top wired colleges. They look at a variety of criteria, and the full article is worth reading if you’re contemplating college. Here’s a chart (which really requires the article for full understanding). Click to enlarge:

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:22 am

Attacks from the Right

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Some on the Right are very unhappy with the idea of Sarah Palin as VP candidate (and probably even unhappier with the idea of her being president). It seems to reflect poorly on John McCain’s judgment and his “Country First” slogan. Via Firedoglake, these comments, all from people definitely on the Right:

Dr. Laura:

I’m stunned – couldn’t the Republican Party find one competent female with adult children to run for Vice President with McCain?   I realize his advisors probably didn’t want a “mature” woman, as the Democrats keep harping on his age.  But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?

David Frum:

If it were your decision, and you were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Charles Krauthammer:

Palin is not ready.

Powertools:

…some argue instead (or alternatively) that Sarah Palin’s credentials are adequate. These arguments are mostly laughable.

The American Conservative:

If Palin gets elected, John Hagee wins again.

Mike Murphy:

You know what’s really the worst thing about it? The greatness of McCain is no cynicism, and this is cynical.

Peggy Noonan:

The most qualified? No! I think they went for this – excuse me – political bullshit about narratives.

Lyda Green (R-AK):

“She’s not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?” said Green, a Republican from Palin’s hometown of Wasilla. “Look at what she’s done to this state. What would she do to the nation?”

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:16 am

Posted in Election, GOP

The Palin emails

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Not a smear, but again an interesting fact with implications for questions if Palin should ever have a press conference. From Mother Jones:

The Palin administration won’t release hundreds of emails from her office, claiming they cover confidential policy matters. Then why do the subject lines refer to a political foe, a journalist, and non-policy topics?

In June, Andrée McLeod, a self-described independent government watchdog in Alaska, sent an open records act request to the office of Governor Sarah Palin. She requested copies of all the emails that had been sent and received by Ivy Frye and Frank Bailey, two top aides to Palin, from February through April of this year. McLeod, a 53-year-old registered Republican [emphasis added – LG] who has held various jobs in state government, suspected that Frye and Bailey had engaged in political activity during official business hours in that period by participating in a Palin-backed effort to oust the state chairman of the Alaska Republican party, Randy Ruedrich. (Bailey has been in the national news of late for refusing to cooperate with investigators probing whether Palin fired Alaska’s public safety commission because he did not dismiss a state trooper who had gone through an ugly divorce with Palin’s sister.)

In response to her request, McLeod received four large boxes of emails. This batch of documents did not contain any proof that Frye and Bailey had worked on government time to boot out Ruedrich. But there was other information she found troubling. Several of the emails suggested to her that Palin’s office had used its influence to reward a Fairbanks surveyor who was a Palin fundraiser with a state job. In early August, McLeod filed a complaint with the state attorney general against Palin, Bailey, and other Palin aides, claiming they had violated ethics and hiring laws. Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential candidate, told the Alaska Daily News that “there were no favors done for anybody.”

But more intriguing than any email correspondence contained in the four boxes was what was not released: about 1100 emails. Palin’s office provided McLeod with a 78-page list (PDF) cataloging the emails it was withholding. Many of them had been written by Palin or sent to her. Palin’s office claimed most of the undisclosed emails were exempt from release because they were covered by the “executive” or “deliberative process” privileges that protect communications between Palin and her aides about policy matters. But the subject lines of some of the withheld emails suggest they were not related to policy matters. Several refer to one of Palin’s political foes, others to a well-known Alaskan journalist. Moreover, some of the withhold emails were CC’ed to Todd Palin, the governor’s husband. Todd Palin—a.k.a. the First Dude—holds no official state position (though he has been a close and influential adviser for Governor Palin). The fact that Palin and her aides shared these emails with a citizen outside the government undercuts the claim that they must be protected under executive privilege. McLeod asks, “What is Sarah Palin hiding?”

The list of still-secret emails includes a series of messages that circulated on February 1, 2008, among Palin, Bailey, Frye, and Todd Palin “re Andrew Halcro.” A former Republican, Halcro ran as an independent against Palin for governor in 2006, collecting only 9 percent of the vote. Since then he has been a blogger who often criticizes Palin. There is no telling what the emails said about Halcro. But in a July blog posting, Halcro asked, “why in the world is Todd Palin getting copied on emails [about me] that his wife’s administration is classifying as confidential….These emails should be released to the public….after all Todd Palin has no standing to claim executive privilege. By including him in the email loop, the Palin administration has arguably breached any claim of executive privilege.” And McLeod wonders, “What do emails about Andrew Halcro have to do with policy deliberations?” …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:11 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP

Salt as you go

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Interesting post at The Kitchn [sic]: when making a recipe, salt as you go, not at the end. (OTOH this same writer stored her tomatoes in the refrigerator…)

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 11:06 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

OMG: Relying on Oliver North?! Are they insane?

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ThinkProgress:

For weeks, the U.S. military has denied charges that its Aug. 22 attack on Azizabad, Afghanistan killed scores of civilians, despite the fact that Afghan witnesses, the United Nations, and other human rights and international officials all say roughly 90 villagers were killed. Yesterday, the military reversed course and requested an investigation into the strike in light of “emerging evidence.” Part of that evidence is cellphone images showing “at least 11 dead children,” according to the New York Times.

As Firedoglake points out, the Times of London revealed that the U.S. had been relying on accounts from an embedded journalist: Fox News’s Oliver North:

The US military said that its findings were corroborated by an independent journalist embedded with the US force. He was named as the Fox News correspondent Oliver North, who came to prominence in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair, when he was an army colonel.

Relying on North for a “fair and balanced” view is a major mistake. Even leaving aside his past as a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal under President Reagan, North routinely makes biased and unsourced claims:

– “There is no such thing as an Islamic moderate.” [LINK]

– “Every terrorist out there is hoping John Kerry Is the next president of the United States.” [LINK]

– Politicians who raise the issue of Abu Ghraib “have blood on their hands.” [LINK]

– Abuse of Iraqi prisoners is “the kind of thing that you might find on any college campus.” [LINK]

Dismissing accounts about the attack from witnesses, such as a village doctor who “said he counted 50 to 60 bodies of civilians, most of them women and children,” the U.S. military repeatedly “accused the villagers of spreading Taliban propaganda.”

Today, Human Rights Watch warned that by continuing air strikes and killing civilians, the U.S. risked a public backlash in Afghanistan. Seeming to codify the report, Azizabad’s district chief told the Times, “If they continue like this, they will lose the people’s confidence in the government and the coalition forces.”

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 10:55 am

Palin’s ignorance on big issues

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Josh Marshall:

Just more evidence. Over the weekend Gov. Palin said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.”

Only they’re not even taxpayer funded. It’s only the government takeover, which Sen. McCain supports, that could change that.

I understand that the TV networks and the big papers feel like they’re not allowed to criticize Gov. Palin. But we’re in the middle of a housing and credit crisis and she doesn’t even know what Fannie and Freddie are. It’s an embarrassing level of ignorance that would sink a candidate for house or senate.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 10:52 am

Posted in GOP

Fannie & Freddie crisis explained

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Paul Krugman has a very good column today explaining the issues regarding the takeover of Frannie and Freddie. Worth reading. In his blog, he notes:

I wish people wouldn’t say that Fannie and Freddie have been “nationalized.” I mean, it’s basically accurate, but it conveys the wrong impression.

The fact is that Fannie Mae was originally a government agency; it was privatized in 1968, not for any good economic reason, but to move its debt off the federal balance sheet (and Freddie was created 2 years later as a competitor.) Private ownership of Fannie and Freddie never made any real sense, and was always a crisis waiting to happen.

So what we’re really seeing now is deprivatization. It’s not something like the UK government seizing the steel mills; it’s more like firing Blackwater and giving responsibility for diplomatic security back to the Marines.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 10:30 am

Learning more about Palin

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We clearly need to know much more about the person who may become president of the US. For example, Republican state Rep. Mike Hawker said last week, “[Palin’s] administration had the appearance of paying absolutely no attention to any of the rest of the unglamorous side of government, whether it be dealing with human services, public services, highways, all the routine aspects.”

So it’s not just liberals and progressives who have doubts about her capacity for the job—it includes Republicans. Even John McCain apparently doesn’t think she’s capable of facing a press conference and is keeping her hidden until an interview with Charles Gibson. (John McCain himself is unwilling to face a press conference, in fact. The Republican candidates are wimps.) About Charles Gibson, read this post, which includes:

It just so happens that only one network journalist got an exclusive sit-down interview with John McCain during the Republican convention, and that too was ABC’s John Gibson. McCain appeared to enjoy the discussion — he claimed that Palin opposed earmarks, Palin’s physical proximity to Russia amounts to foreign-policy experience, Obama believes Iran is a “tiny problem,” and one of Palin’s “primary responsibilities” as governor is “national security.” All of these claims are demonstrably false, but Gibson didn’t challenge McCain on any of them.

It’s not too big a surprise, then, that Gibson will be rewarded for his deference.

It’s also interesting that Gibson will travel to Alaska for the interview(s). It reminded me of then-Gov. George W. Bush’s demand to Tim Russert that he’d appear on “Meet the Press,” but only if Russert traveled to Texas for the interview.

And we do know that Palin lies—frequently. For example, read this post, which includes:

The McCain campaign … prefers to repeat bogus claims, even after they’ve been proven false. The McCain gang is willing to gamble that voters either won’t hear the truth or that the truth simply doesn’t matter anymore.

Take McCain’s new TV ad, unveiled this morning. Whether this is an actual ad that will be aired or just another video press release intended for media consumption is unclear. Either way, the ad, characterizing John McCain and Sarah Palin as two peas in a pod, claims, “The original mavericks. He fights pork barrel spending; she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere.”

To support its claim about Palin having “stopped” the Bridge to Nowhere, the ad cites an article from December in the Anchorage Daily News. When one actually looks at the article, one sees that the Daily News piece doesn’t support the claim.

In our reality, Palin supported the bridge project, and campaigned on a pledge to build it. The bridge was scrapped, not by Palin, but when an embarrassed Congress stopped the project. Even then, Palin took the money and spent it on other Alaskan transportation projects. Unless the McCain campaign is prepared to change the meaning of the word “stopped,” the ad’s claim is obviously not true.

But stepping back, it’s not just the ad. McCain and Palin have repeated the same claim, over and over again, in a variety of settings, after it was exposed as a lie.

As Hilzoy explained over the weekend, after Palin once again claimed to have rejected the Bridge to Nowhere, “She is not just telling lies; she’s telling lies that have been exposed as lies, and that have gotten a lot of attention. Assuming she does not actually want to lose, she must assume that her audience either doesn’t know that she’s lying, or doesn’t care. In either case, it’s deeply cynical, and deeply insulting. I just hope she isn’t right.”

The LA Times has a good article, too. It begins:

Three years ago, when a Democratic state legislator tried to get bipartisan support for investigating charges of unethical conduct by a senior Republican official, only one member of the GOP answered the call: Sarah Palin.

Palin pursued the allegations — as well as ethics charges against another top GOP official — so vigorously that both had to leave office.

The public acclaim that followed helped propel her into the governor’s office a year later with promises of reform and a more open, accountable government that would stand up to entrenched interests, including the big oil companies.

Yet a strange thing happened on the ethics issue once Palin became governor: She appeared to lose interest in completing the task of legislating comprehensive reform, some who supported the cleanup say.

The ethics bill she offered was so incomplete that its supporters had to undertake a significant rewrite. Moreover, when it came to building support for the bill, politicians in both parties say the new governor was often unaccountably absent from the fray.

And the seeming paradox of the ethics reform fight — the combination of bold, even courageous readiness to take on a tough issue, coupled with a tendency to drift away from the nitty-gritty follow-through — appears to be a recurrent theme of her record. Some lawmakers were so perplexed by her absence from a recent debate over sending oil rebate checks to Alaskans, for example, that they sported buttons at the state Capitol reading “Where’s Sarah?”

… Her administration has not been marked by the transparency she promised: She invoked executive privilege in refusing to disclose information about one ethics case, and last week she moved to hobble a legislative inquiry into her role in the firing of a state public safety official.

Several legislators also say the governor’s office is not a place for open debate: Palin does not tolerate much dissent, they say, sometimes cutting off relations with those deemed unhelpful or critical.

And she shows only marginal interest in crafting policy proposals and getting them passed, these critics say.

“Her ethics proposal had to be beefed up substantially with very basic additions,” said state Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat who tried to get the governor’s attention on ethics and other issues.

It lacked such long-needed provisions as language making legislators subject to prosecution for bribery if they exchanged votes for campaign contributions. To Gara and to some others, including Republicans who have often supported the governor, their experience on the ethics bill has proven disconcertingly similar to their experience with Palin on other issues.

“When it comes to the real work of crafting policy, she’s often not there,” Gara said. He acknowledged her broad accomplishments, but added: “I don’t know if she’s disinterested in details or not comfortable with them, but the bottom line is: She is not truly a hands-on governor.”

During the recent debate over how much of the state’s annual oil royalties to rebate to the state’s citizens in the form of individual checks — a highly sensitive issue in Alaska — Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature said Palin took little part in the final stages of the discussion. …

Continue reading.

Note that there are no smears in this post—just uncomfortable facts about Palin’s suitability for VP.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 10:20 am

Posted in GOP

Organizing your home

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Dustin Wax has some good tips on getting organized. He prefaces the tips with this observation:

The modern home is far bigger than the home of just 30 years ago – and far more cluttered! How can that happen? Basically, our demand for stuff is outstripping our ability to buy space – no wonder self-storage is one of the leading growth industries in the United States.

Questions about runaway consumerism aside, what all this excess stuff means for most of us is more time spent maintaining our living spaces to keep some semblance of order in our lives. Most of us don’t want to spend our evenings and weekends – and more for work-at-home types – knee-deep in clutter, never sure where anything is, and constantly stepping over all those things that, for one reason or another, we just had to have.

We fight a constant battle against clutter around Chez Dustin. Besides my partner and I, there are her three children, all under 13. Plus, her brother and his two kids have been staying with us while he sorts out some family matters, forcing our usual border-skirmishes against clutter to escalate into an all-out war.

That’s why I asked you, our readers, to share some of your tips in one of the contests in the Great Big Summer Giveaway. I had a blast going through your tips, tricks, and advice for keeping the home organized, and today, I’m going to present the cream of the crop.

Read the tips.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 9:30 am

Posted in Daily life

The Right’s control of the mainstream media

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Glenn Greenwald discusses the hold the Right has on the mainstream media in this column.

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 9:27 am

Posted in GOP, Media

Discussion of Clay Shirky talk

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Earlier I blogged a talk by Clay Shirky (this morning I had to use IE Tab to view it, BTW). Here’s an interesting discussion of the points he raised (and don’t miss Tim Reilly’s comment, either—scroll down at the link).

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 9:13 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Socialist Palin mentor

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Very interesting. A commenter recently said that he would not vote for the “socialist” for president—presumably the Socialist ticket of Brian Moore for president and Stewart Alexander for vice-president. But Palin’s mentor certainly seems Socialist (i.e., believing that the state should own and operate the major industries). From a Newsweek article:

To the extent Palin has a governing philosophy, it was shaped by her political mentor, former governor Wally Hickel. The 89-year-old Hickel is a member of the Alaska Independence Party, which espouses, among other things, greater autonomy or even separation from the United States. (Husband Todd Palin is not a member of the party now, but he was registered as an AIP voter at different periods of his life totaling seven years. Sarah has never been a member but attended a party conference in her hometown of Wasilla.) Hickel advocates an “economy of the commons,” which would place the state’s vast energy and mineral wealth in the hands of the state government and its citizens.

Seems very much like socialism to me. Maybe if they did get all that money they would stop asking for Federal handouts. (Alaska leads the nation in getting Federal pork per capita.)

Written by Leisureguy

8 September 2008 at 9:01 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

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