Mrs Morrison's Hotel

The 100% personal official blog for Patricia Kennealy Morrison, author, Celtic priestess, retired rock critic, wife of Jim

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I was, wait, sorry, that's "David Copperfield". Anyway, I was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island, went to school in upstate NY and came straight back to Manhattan to live. Never lived anywhere else. Never wanted to. Got a job as a rock journalist, in the course of which I met and married a rock star (yeah, yeah, conflict of interest, who cares). Became a priestess in a Celtic Pagan tradition, and (based on sheer longevity) one of the most senior Witches around. Began writing my Keltiad series. Wrote a memoir of my time with my beloved consort (Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison). See Favorite Books below for a big announcement...The Rennie Stride Mysteries. "There is no trick or cunning, no art or recipe, by which you can have in your writing that which you do not possess in yourself." ---Walt Whitman (Also @ and

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Joyous Samhain To You All

My favorite holiday...I will spend it quietly at home as usual, with Jim, and with anyone else who wants to stop by from the other side. The house is already taking on that Samhain feeling: charged, almost heavy, very alive and happy.

I will make hash for everybody, with cheddar cheese from upstate NY, and a scone or apple turnover, and apple cider: the classic menu, though some years I do pork chops. And a votive candle in the window, to be lighted at sunset and burn until dawn, or until it burns itself out.

So a Happy New Year to everybody, may it be full of joy, health and prosperity, and may you have the comfort of the presence of your beloved dead this night. I love you all.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

New York City: The New Ozarks

I see where the New York City Council has cravenly and spinelessly rolled over and given our tiny dictator, Mikey Bloomberg, the extension on term limits he wanted. Oh, it applies to Council members too, so can we say "self-serving", boys and girls? Yes, I think we can.

There's a bit of a history: after 9/11, Il Duce Giuliani thought he was indispensable and couldn't be replaced while we were in such difficult straits, so he floated the suggestion that he should be allowed to stay in office and/or be put up for a third term. We said NO.

When doing away with term limits was put to a referendum here, we voted NO. Twice.

So Bloomie decides to do an end run and get the City Council to declare the referendum...the WILL OF VOTERS...void, and all this because he thinks he's the only Chosen One to guide NYC through the vast economic morass he and his fat-cat rich-boy pals have put us in.

And the City Council president, one Christine Quinn, both shallow and broad (like the support she claims for the term extension), just slutted right up and went along with it. Because it benefits her too. Just wish she were from my district so I could vote and agitate against her.

They're just a bunch of power-hungry, arrogant, dictatorial Soviet-style apparatchiks who think they can run the gulag to suit their own interests. It's a real Nazi-style arrogation of the people's power...hey, Bloomberg, what's next? Gonna send the tanks into Greenpoint?

I'm utterly disgusted by this, and I just hope enough of my fellow New Yorkers are too. So next election, let's make sure the deck drips with the guts of the unconscionable. Vote the bastards out!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig, Prada on a Moose

Oh, it's just too easy, she's not even making it a challenge for me anymore...

Sarah "Mrs. Hockey Mom" Palin has been treated to a $150,000 shopping spree by the Republican National Committee: clothes for her AND HER FAMILY, plus makeup and hairstyling.

Well, I guess when all you've got in your wardrobe is lumberjack shirts, and you're not really members of the shoe-wearing classes to start with, you're glad and grateful if someone offers you a sartorial handout. However illegal it might actually be.

What I wonder is, is this what Joe and Jane Sixpack want to see their hard-earned campaign contributions spent on? Isn't it all more like something out of the court of Caligula? Oh yeah, I hear Nero tuning his fiddle in the wings even now...

The average Sixpack family probably doesn't make $150,000 in five years of hard work. And here they have to look at their heroine strutting around changing designer duds three or four times a day.

Maybe she thinks she just has to grab it while she can: take a few little souvenirs back to "Real Small-town America" with her when her sorry ass and Neanderthal family go trucking back to the tundra. She'll need something nice to wear at those book-burning discussions and those investigatory hearings.

Funny how she did all her clothes shopping in Unreal Big-City America; I guess those little small-town boutiques just don't cut it with the high-fashion look.

I do hope that as big a deal is made of this as was made of John Edwards' 400-buck campaign-funded haircut (which he reimbursed the campaign for). Let's not hold our breath waiting to see if Dress-up Caribou Barbie pays back the $150,000, as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Here's what I gave the troops...and the troops gave me a standing ovation...first one ever, according to the profs....

Communications Day, St. Bonaventure University

17 October 2008

Keynote Speech

Patricia Kennealy Morrison, DTJ

Before I get started, I’d like to thank the usual suspects: Dean Lee Coppola and the faculty and staff of the Dr. Russell Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for the tremendous honor of asking me to speak here today; President Sister Margaret Carney, for not minding too much that this crazy longhaired hippie chick keeps on coming back here; and Bonaventure itself, for BEING itself, for me back then, and for me now.

I’m a writer, not a public speaker or a teacher or lecturer. So please cut me some slack for having to mostly read this, just to make sure my train of thought ends up in the right station at the end, without going too much off the rails. It’s a lot easier when I’m writing … But it’s good to be pushed out of the comfort zone every now and then. I think.

The last time I was here for Press Day, as we called it —back when we rode dinosaurs to class, in the snow, uphill, both ways—it was May 1965, and it was blazing hot, and it took place in Hickey. This is much nicer.

Anyway. Communications Day. You guys are here because you’re interested in a journalism or mass communications career, which is an honorable estate, though not beloved of many. I’ll be using the words “journalism” or “journalist”, because that’s how I was trained, and because saying “journalism and/or mass communications” just takes too long. But consider it all-inclusive.

The deep inner purpose of being a journalism major is not necessarily to become a journalist. No, the deep inner purpose of being a journalism major is to get your eyes opened. Which can be the most painful surgery you will ever undergo. Because after that you have no excuses. That’s what a j-degree gives you: 20/20 vision. And the mission, if you choose to accept it, of 20/20 outrage.

And outrage is maybe the most useful professional tool you’ll ever have at your disposal. I’ll get back to that later.

First, I want to talk a little about what I learned as a journalism major here 45 years ago. I arrived at Bona’s in September 1963, 17 years old, my first time away from home. I’d written all my life, and I was looking for something very specific: a small college, a beautiful setting and a personal training.

I got all that here. It wasn’t even a proper j-school then, just a major, a department. We had a classroom, with a rickety wooden table like a newspaper copy desk. There was an office for the Bona Venture on the second floor of Butler Gym. A Quonset hut printshop out behind De La Roche. As for cool technology, we had a linotype machine and an AP ticker. That was it.

There were about 50 j-majors all told, a dozen per class. Mostly guys, because in
those days Bonaventure was mostly guys. In my freshman class of 400 there were 40 women, and of those about five or six were journalism majors.

So I got the personal attention I wanted. The professors—all two of them— knew my name. I wasn’t just a number in a seating chart. And I wasn’t just a “coed” to them, either, in the sexist way that girls were to some of the other profs. I was a journalism student, and therefore a potential future journalist. That’s how they saw me, and that’s how they taught me.

And the one who taught me what I needed to learn was of course Dr. Russell Jandoli, for whom this school is named. I knew him from practically my first day on campus, through the Bona Venture and the Press Club and from just being around him, learning not only from him but from the fellow students he was teaching just as he was teaching me.

Dr. Jandoli was an extraordinary man, but the most extraordinary thing about him was how ‘ordinary’, in the best sense, he was. He wasn’t a prima donna or a diva. He wasn’t full of himself. He wasn’t a posturing gasbag who thought he was the journalism god’s gift to students.

No, he was a professional, and a good one; he was a human being, and a fine one. The truth of that can be seen in the spirit of this school that he founded, and in the students he trained, and in what he gave to the ones who could learn from him most and best.

Because of what he taught me, I have been able to make a living by my writing skills my whole life. Except for a weekend gig as a go-go dancer my senior year of college, I’ve never had a job in my life that wasn’t somehow about writing. Talent, if I may say so, I brought to the table myself. But the skills to use that talent…that’s what I learned here.

What I was given here. For starters, I was given two years of Latin, the single best writing tool there is. If you know Latin, you know the bones of speech: you can make your own language, figure out the meaning of new words. Plus, once you’re familiar with the construction of the Latin paragraph, once you’re a friend of the ablative absolute, you will never go unarmed in the great battles of words and wits.

I was given reading here. For the first and only time in my life, all I had to do was sit around and read. I spent more time in the library stacks than I did in the Burton. And what I found in those stacks intoxicated me more than any beer social ever did.

I was given newswriting and feature-writing and proofreading and editing skills here. I learned not only how to construct a story but how to prune away what wasn’t necessary, so that the story could live. Those were the tools I came here to get, the tools I knew I’d need. There hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t used them.

Because it’s not just journalism. If you leave this place and never do anything more journalistic again than read a newspaper, you can still deploy that training in any field you choose. If you have your head in the right place, you’ll leave j-school equipped with, if you’ll forgive the inelegance, a built-in bullshit detector. And there’s no career on this earth, or any other, where THAT won’t be useful to you.

And those are the powerful gifts that the journalism fairy godparents will leave beside your professional cradle. It’s up to you to take them and do something with them.

As an author, I get a lot of mail from young people asking me how they can be a writer, what should they do, how can they get started. And my answer is always the same: if you have to ASK, then you’re NOT a writer and you never will be. A real writer doesn’t ask. A real writer writes. If you’re a real writer, you go to your typewriter, or these days your laptop, as a lover goes to the beloved, as a surfer goes to the big waves. You can’t stay away. You don’t need to be told. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are.

How it manifests itself is your choice. I never had any desire to be a newspaper reporter, for instance—it seemed too much like, you know, real work. But I loved feature writing, so I figured that was where I’d end up, at a magazine of some sort.

A magazine of a very specific sort, as it turned out. A rock and roll magazine called Jazz & Pop. I saw an issue on a newsstand, right after graduation, and I knew instantly that THIS was what I wanted to do: to write about the amazing music that
was both a cause and an effect of the times.

Communication. Music that had gone almost overnight from “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” to “The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind”, and from there to “Newspaper taxis appear on the shore, waiting to take you away.” Music that could be listened to just as music, if all you wanted was a rockin’ good time; but music that was also art—a deliberate representation of the human condition. And my generation took it all in.

So I joined Jazz & Pop—a 64-page, 4-color slick monthly, published by 4 women for a readership some 90% male, so we must have been doing quite a lot right. I started as editorial assistant in early1968, and by the end of that year I had been promoted to editor in chief. The ONLY woman editor in chief of a national counterculture magazine, at age 22, and one of the first female rock critics ever, a Founding Mother of the genre.

Best. Job. In the world. I got to write about the music I loved, and about the musicians who created it. I got to meet everyone I ever wanted to meet, from the Beatles right on down. I got to write about the political climate of the day, and how rock affected that and reflected that. I even got to throw journalistic ethics to the wind and marry one of my sources, though back then we didn’t consider that sort of thing a problem.

It’s very different now, of course. These days you don’t let a source buy you a cup of coffee, much less take him home with you. But we had a kind of innocence. We were passionate and involved, and we really did believe that music and the new politics and the counterculture together could change the world. And they should have.

Before you start snickering, consider that to a very significant extent we did change the world. We messed up a lot, sure, but we also got a lot done: civil rights for minorities and women, an unjust war stopped, the beginnings of the Green movement. Small example: when I got out of college, it was legal for jobs to be advertised as M or F. Meaning male or female. And all the M jobs were cool and promotable, and all the F jobs involved typing.

We changed that. We changed music and art and literature and clothes and politics. And a lot more too. And then we sat back, because we thought we’d done what was needed and now other people could take over. But the wrong people took over, and by the time we realized what was happening, it was too late. You think you’re mad at the Sixties? Well, the Sixties are mad at you!

I am a boomer, a dowager boomer, among the vanguard of my kind; and as such I rule. We all rule. And we will continue to rule until the last one of us is dead. After that, it’ll be up to you guys. And If I could wish one thing for you, give you one gift like a hippie fairy godmother, I wouldn’t give you peace or love or any of that crap. I would give you something harder to come by, more valuable by far: the gift of outrage.

See? Told you we’d get back to that.

It’s outrage that gets things done, in the world and in people’s lives. It’s outrage that got Rosa Parks into that seat on the bus, that got Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy and Bob Dylan moving down their roads.

It’s outrage that changes everything, and it’s outrage that wannabe communicators have got to cultivate. It’s not anger, though it can be angry when it needs to be. No, genuine outrage is a positive force, powerful mojo, supremely good fu. It’s eternally creative and renewable, like the hot spot that makes the Hawaiian Islands. If you treat it right, it will serve you long and faithfully. And you’re the ones on whom, ultimately, it all depends.

Because you’re the watchdogs. You’re the whistleblowers. You’re the guardians to set the beacons of Gondor alight. So I want to see outrage in your generation the way I saw it in my own. I want to see righteous anger. I want to see subversive wrath, directed with purpose and with heart against the enemy. I want to see balanced judgment and rational opinions, people standing up for something they believe in, not just suckups agreeing with the prof in hopes of getting a good grade, or going along with the crowd because they’re too lazy to think for themselves.

And I really hope I live to see all that.

Because if you don’t have educated, reasoned opinions, and if you aren’t willing to put them out there and not give a flaming toss about what people might THINK, then you’re just a cipher. And your fate will be as the fate of ciphers, and you will get what ciphers get. Which is, basically, nothing.

Your generation is amazing. You have tremendous abilities; you have resources and technologies that nobody ever had before. You also have some not so groovy qualities: you’re too wrapped up in yourselves, a lot of the time, to see what’s going on outside; you can be far too enamored of gossipy celebrotrash; most of you don’t read anywhere NEAR enough, and when you write, it’s that stupid textspeak. And, frankly, your music sucks. That is all going to have to change. As it will…

But you’re certainly not the only ones at fault. As a journalist by training and by trade, I am furious with and ashamed of my profession for letting so much slip in the past two decades. For giving a free pass to the worst. For attacking the best for petty sins and offenses and for letting the true sinners and offenders get away with murder. (Often literally.)

With few exceptions, journalism has prostituted itself, has taken a long slow slide into lowest common denominator country. John Peter Zenger and H.L. Mencken are spinning in their graves, and if you don’t know who they were, then shame on you and go find out. And then regain that passion for truth and integrity. Modern journalism has been complicit in political crimes and in bed with political criminals, and must be held responsible equally with them. You go out there and change that.

The founders of this country knew the critical importance of a questioning, intelligent, free press, a press that holds feet to the fire and takes no prisoners. No fear, no favoritism. Most of today’s press seems to have forgotten how to do that. But don’t you forget it.

A century and a half ago and about five hundred miles from here, it was famously said that a newspaper’s duty is to print the news and raise hell. Today, the blogosphere has taken over that role, because newspapers and other media have abdicated the responsibility. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reclaim it.

If you’re REAL communicators, then by the Lord Harry, COMMUNICATE! Don’t just preach to the choir, but to anyone who will listen—and, much more importantly, to those who won’t. You can’t let the bastards walk. It’s your sacred duty to nail them to the wall. To turn over the rocks the worms are hiding under and to say Look! There they are! Come on, let’s GET ’em!

And it’s great if you do this as a journalist or a TV reporter or any kind of communications professional. But it’s no less great if you do it privately, as a citizen, as a parent, as a person talking to friends. If you don’t have the power to change the minds and hearts of millions, then change the minds and hearts of dozens. Or even of just one or two. Because then those ones and twos and dozens will maybe find it in their power to go out and change a few minds and hearts themselves. That’s the way change and truth come among us. That’s the job. That’s YOUR job.

And if you get it out there, really get it out there, and do your job so that it does make a difference, then I’ve done my job, and the rest of my generation too: the artists and the writers, the singers and the musicians and the poets, the ones who spoke truth to power and the ones who refused to tell convenient fictions just because it was what people wanted to hear. Your duty, as a communicator, as a citizen, as a soul, is telling people what they DON’T want to hear, what they NEED to hear. And you’re the only ones who can tell them.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about. Get outraged. Stay outraged. Use outrage. Because outrage—is life.

Thank you for listening, and God bless.

© 2008, Patricia Kennealy Morrison

Monday, October 20, 2008

Well, I'm Back

But I didn't even tell you I was gone...

Went up to St. Bonaventure University, my demi-alma mater (I was there only 2 years, graduated from another college), as the invited keynote speaker for Communications Day, the Dr. Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication annual day of workshops/speaker/awards for high school students who are considering becoming j-majors (as I still call ourselves..."j-and-mass-comm majors" is just too darn long).

I had a blast. Almost 300 kids from 17 schools showed up; Lee Coppola, the dean of the school, said it was their biggest turnout ever, though I doubt I was the cause. But I certainly enjoyed the results. I gave my speech, which I will reprint in the next post in all my hubristic vanity assuming you'll all be eager to read it (you don't have to...), and talked to a bunch of the kids after, and hung with the j-school faculty for various lunches and dinners. Lee and Pulitzer winner Professor John Hanchette were lordly (and cute) seniors when I was a lowly freshman, and I looked up to them as, well, you know, gods. Or at least demigods. It was great fun reminiscing and reacquainting...

Thank you all sooooo much, Lee and Carole and Kathy and Breea and Denny and Patrick and Hanch and Chris and Fr. Basil and Sue and all the rest of the j-school professors and staff, who made it so easy and so incredibly much fun for me. You are the absolute best.

The weekend I had planned for r&r, so on Saturday, I went to the Museum of the Seneca Nation in Salamanca, a town completely on the Seneca Reservation, and out for lunch with Kathy Boser (one of three), who works for the j-school, and Kathy Boser (the second of three, but I knew her first so let's call her 1.0, the one who was actually a classmate of mine and to one of whose cousins the first-mentioned KB is married), and a Bona grad of senior vintage even to myself, a lovely woman called Mary Hamilton, who lived in the East Village from 1968-73, IIRC, and thus our habitancies overlapped and undoubtedly our paths occasionally crossed all unbeknownst to us...

A wonderful chilly, windy day of glorious sunshine, blue sky and blazing autumnal foliage. I had been most concerned that the leaves would tumble on down before I got to see them, but in Cattaraugus County and in Erie County on the drive down Thursday from the Buffalo airport (they put me on JetBlue, my first time, and it was terrific), they had held on nobly until I could get there, and I was grateful.

Saturday and Sunday nights I spent at the grooviest b&b, Just crashed on Saturday night, because I was so tired (plus Carole had to work on her tenure application...just do it!). Gallets is a Victorian farmhouse filled with the possessions and furniture and stuff of the Gallets family of Allegany NY (into which family yet another Boser has married, a dashing lad named Gary Boser, of my and Kathy Boser 1.0's generation). Glorious.

Now I have a lot of stuff, as y'all know, and can see a tiny part of in the pics, but I live a life of Amish simplicity compared to this lot's: stuff EVERYwhere. The stuff had stuff of its own: the entire attic was a family museum, with great-grandma's lace skirt and a great-uncle's gold watch and photos and clippings and clothes and jewelry and all sorts. Dizzyingly wonderful. In my room there was a big, high-headboarded bed that had belonged to Great-great-grandpa Jacob...the whole house was glorious old Victorian wallpaper and waxed oak furniture and pocket doors and fine old carpets...just fantastic, and if you're ever out that way you must stay there.

On Sunday, Carole, her husband Steve and our friend Laurie all drove up and down Allegany County (just east of Cattauragus) for Allegany Artisans Day, an open-house day for the many artists and craftsmen who operate out of their own rural homes: we visited artists in glass, ceramics, painting, pottery, Celtic woodcarving (lovely, but really pricey), and even a knitting blacksmith (he knits wool, not iron). Nothing that really spoke to me, and all, I thought, kind of overpriced. Beautiful things. Just not to my taste.

Then we drove up to Letchworth State Park, where the mighty Genesee River has carved a gorge that some call the Grand Canyon of the East. Hyperbole, to be sure, but still a splendid and beautiful place, with a magnificent waterfall in which we saw a rainbow! Arcing from its base in the mist to a vanishing point high above the trees, all in the mist rising up from the falls in their massive rocky gorge. Most Tolkienesque.

We then had dinner at the beautiful Glen Iris Inn, once the home of Victorian Mr. Letchworth, delicious meal in a High Victorian room. After the consuming of hot fudge sundaes to go out in glory, we drove back to Olean, where I met the Pack, dog companions of Malinalda, and was overwhelmed by furriness and petmepetmenopetME! What a bunch of cutie woofwoofs! Not forgetting teh kittehs, who were also adorable.

Came home today by bus, to see the scenery, but trip ruined by a weird and unsafe bus driver who freaked everyone out and about whom I shall be complaining to ShortLine Bus Company tomorrow: he spent most of his time on a cell phone (NO handset) or inexplicably slowing down to a crawl and almost pulling over or writing while driving...very, very worrisome.

But he still couldn't kill my buzz. I had a wonderful time, and I thank everyone who helped to make it so. You da best!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Vent Your Spleen, My Children!

Here's a link to a page of email (and other) addresses for bigtime media:

Send 'em hell!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Laudamus Mauriniam Doudiam! Palinam Delenda Est!

From the NYTimes:

October 12, 2008

Are We Rome? Tu Betchus!


With modernity crumbling, our thoughts turn to antiquity.

The decline and fall of the American Empire echoes the experience of the Romans, who also tumbled into the trap of becoming overleveraged empire hussies.

As our sand-castle economy washes away under the tide of bad gambles and debts, this most self-indulgent society lurches toward stoicism (even bankrupt Iceland gives us the cold shoulder and turns to a solvent superpower). It's going to require more than giving up constant infusions of stocks, Starbucks and Botox.

As Seneca, the Roman Stoic who advised treating the body "somewhat strictly," wrote in a letter: "Avoid whatever is approved of by the mob, and things that are the gift of chance. Whenever circumstance brings some welcome thing your way, stop in suspicion and alarm ...They are snares. ... we think these things are ours when in fact it is we who are caught. That track leads to precipices; life on that giddy level ends in a fall."

The study of Latin and Greek, with illuminations on morality, philosophy, mob rule and chariot races, reached a nadir in the greedy '80s and '90s, when it seemed irrelevant for kids who yearned to be investment bankers and high-tech millionaires. But now we've learned the hard way that greed is bad — avaritia mala est — and the classics have staged a comeback. Amo Latinam, so I was happy to see last week's Times story about the soaring enrollment for Latin classes in New York.

In high school, I translated swatches of Julius Caesar's "The Battle for Gaul" from Latin to English while nibbling cheese crackers. To boost the felicitous new trend toward Latin, I enlisted Gary D. Farney, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University, to translate (loosely and creatively) from English to Latin "The Battle of Gall," my take below on why the hyperventilating Republicans are not veni, vidi, vici-ing.

Bellum Gallium

Manes Julii Caesaris paucis diebus aderant — "O, most bloody sight!" — cum Ioannes McCainus, mavericus et veteranus captivusque Belli Francoindosinini, et Sara Palina, barracuda borealis, qui sneerare amant Baracum Obamam causa oratorii, pillorant ut demagogi veri, Africanum-Americanum senatorem Terrae Lincolni, ad Republicanas rallias.

Rabidi subcanes candidati, pretendant "no orator as Brutis is," ut "stir men's blood" et disturbant mentes populi ad "a sudden flood of mutiny," ut Wilhelmus Shakespearus scripsit.

Cum Quirites Americani ad rallias Republicanas audiunt nomen Baraci Husseini Obamae, clamant "Mortem!" "Amator terroris!" "Socialiste!" "Bomba Obamam!" "Obama est Arabus!" "Caput excidi!" tempus sit rabble-rouseribus desistere "Smear Talk Express," ut Stephanus Colbertus dixit. Obama demonatus est tamquam Musulmanus-Manchurianus candidatus — civis "collo-cerviciliaris" ad ralliam Floridianam Palinae exhabet mascum Obamae ut Luciferis.

Obama non queretur high-tech lynching. Sed secreto-serventes agentes nervosissmi sunt.

Vix quisque audivit nomen "Palinae" ante lunibus paucis. Surgivit ex suo tanning bed ad silvas in Terram Eskimorum, rogans quis sit traitorosus, ominosus, scurrilosus, periculosus amator LXs terroris criminalisque Chicagoani? Tu betchus!

"Caeca ambitio Obamana," novum rumorem Palina McCainusque dixit. "Cum utilis, Obama laborat cum amatore terroris Wilhelmo Ayro. Cum putatus, perjuravit." McCainianus bossus maximus Francus Keatinx vocat Obamam, "plebeium," et ut iuvenum snifferendum cocaini minimi ("a little blow.")

Cum Primus Dudus, spousus Palinanus, culpari attemptaret "Centurionem-Gate," judices Terrae Santae Elvorumque castigat gubernatricem Palinam de abusu auctoritatis per familiam revengendum.

Tamen Sara et Ioannes bury Obama, not praise him. Maverici, ut capiunt auxilium de friga-domina, hench-femina, Cynthia McCaina Birrabaronessa, (quae culpat Obamam periculandi suum filum in Babylonia), brazen-iter distractant mentes populares de minimissimis IV 0 I K.ibus, deminutione "Motorum Omnium," et Depressione Magna II.0. Omnes de Georgio Busio Secundo colossale goofballo. "V" (because there's no W. in Latin) etiam duxit per disastrum ad gymnasium.

Gubernatrix (prope Russia) Palina, spectans candidaciam MMXII, post multam educationem cum Kissingro et post multam parodiam de Sabbatis Nocte Vivo atque de Tina Feia, ferociter vituperat Obamam, ut supralupocidit (aerial shooting of wolves) in Hyperborea.

Vilmingtoni, in Ohionem, McCain's Mean Girl (Ferox Puella) defendit se gladiatricem politicam esse: "Pauci dicant, O Jupiter, te negativam esse. Non, negativa non sum, sed verissima." Talk about lipsticka in porcam! Quasi Leeus Atwater de oppugnatione Busii Primi ad Dukakem: "non negativus, sed comparativus."

From Mr. David Johnson of Carbondale, Illinois: For those whose Latin is a bit rusty, here's a translation, whose fidelity to Dowd's original is not much greater than hers to proper Latin usage. Yes, of course it's better in the original.


Shades of Julius Caesar--"O most bloody sight!" John McCain, maverick, veteran, and Indochine prisoner of war, together with Sara Palin, the boreal barricuda, love to sneer at Barack Obama for his oratory. But at Republican rallies they attacked the African-American senator from the Land of Lincoln like true demagogues.

The candidates, raving attack-dogs (with apologies to our canine readers) pretend that they are "no orator as Brutus is", as they "stir men's blood" and rouse the minds of the people to "a sudden flood of mutiny," as Shakespeare wrote.

When American citizens at Republican rallies hear the name of Barack Hussein Obama, and shout out "Death!" "Terrorist-lover!" "Communist!" [surely no one in the mob would be so moderate as to yell "Socialist", especially in French--ed.] "Bomba Obama!" "Obama is an Arab!" and "Off with his head!", it's time for the rabble-rousers to stop the "Smear Talk Express", as Stephen Colbert has called it. Obama is demonized as an Islamo-Manchurian candidate--at a Florida Palin rally a citizen in a cervical collar (really? But what the hell else would collo-cerviciliaris mean?--ed.] held up a mask of Obama as the devil.

Obama does not complain about this high-tech lynching. But the secret service agents are rather nervous.

Hardly anyone had heard the name "Palin" a few months ago. She arose from her tanning bed deep in the forests of Eskimo Land, and asked who this traitorous, ominous, scurrilous, dangerous lover of the 60's, terror, and the Chicago mob was. You betcha!

"The blind ambition of Obama," runs the new story by Palin and McCain. "When it's useful, Obama works with the terrorist William Ayers. When he's asked about it, he lies." McCain party boss Frank Keating calls Obama a guy from the hood and notes that as a young man he sniffed a little blow.

When the First Dude, Palin's spouse, tried to attack Trooper-Gate, the judges of the Land of Santa and the Elves castigated Governor Palin for her abuse of power in pursuit of revenge for her family.

But Sara and John come to bury Obama, not to praise him. The mavericks, with the help of their ice-maiden henchwoman, Cynthia McCain, Baroness de Beer (who blames Obama for endangering her son in Iraq), brazenly distract the minds of…

Here the excellent translation of Mr. David M. Johnson of Carbondale, Illinois, abruptly leaves off. Perhaps someone stabbed him in the Forum. Or the back. Let's hope not.

I'll try to fill in the rest…without resorting to my Latin dictionary!

…the populace from the tiniest 401k's, the loss of General Motors and the Great Depression 2.0. All because George Bush Second, the colossal goofball, V. (because there's no W in Latin), took even these to school by means of disaster.

Governor (near Russia) Palin, looking to the candidacy of 2012, after much coaching from Kissinger and after many parodies on Saturday Night Live by Tina Fey, fiercely blames Obama, while she aerially shoots wolves in Hyperborea (far North).

At Wilmington, in Ohio, McCain's Mean Girl defended her gladiatorial politics thusly: "A few say, O God, that I'm negative. No, I'm not negative, but the most truthful." Talk about lipstick on a pig! Just as Lee Atwater attacked Dukakis on behalf of Bush the First: "not negative, but comparative."

Not my most elegant translation job, but you get the idea. Maybe someone out there can clean it up for me.

Maurinia Doudia, o puella sapientia!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Truth AND Consequences

From the NYTimes:

October 11, 2008

The Mask Slips


The lesson for Americans suffused with anxiety and dread over the crackup of the financial markets is that the way you vote matters, that there are real-world consequences when you go into a voting booth and cast that ballot.

For the nitwits who vote for the man or woman they’d most like to have over for dinner, or hang out at a barbecue with, I suggest you take a look at how well your 401(k) is doing, or how easy it will be to meet the mortgage this month, or whether the college fund you’ve been trying to build for your kids is as robust as you’d like it to be.

Voters in the George W. Bush era gave the Republican Party nearly complete control of the federal government. Now the financial markets are in turmoil, top government and corporate leaders are on the verge of panic and scholars are dusting off treatises that analyzed the causes of the Great Depression.

Mr. Bush was never viewed as a policy or intellectual heavyweight. But he seemed like a nicer guy to a lot of voters than Al Gore.

It’s not just the economy. While the United States has been fighting a useless and irresponsible war in Iraq, Afghanistan — the home base of the terrorists who struck us on 9/11 — has been allowed to fall into a state of chaos. Osama bin Laden is still at large. New Orleans is still on its knees. And so on.

Voting has consequences.

I don’t for a moment think that the Democratic Party has been free of egregious problems. But there are two things I find remarkable about the G.O.P., and especially its more conservative wing, which is now about all there is.

The first is how wrong conservative Republicans have been on so many profoundly important matters for so many years. The second is how the G.O.P. has nevertheless been able to persuade so many voters of modest means that its wrongheaded, favor-the-rich, country-be-damned approach was not only good for working Americans, but was the patriotic way to go.

Remember voodoo economics? That was the derisive term George H.W. Bush used for Ronald Reagan’s fantasy that he could simultaneously increase defense spending, cut taxes and balance the budget. After Reagan became president (with Mr. Bush as his vice president) the budget deficit — surprise, surprise — soared.

In a moment of unusual candor, Reagan’s own chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Martin Feldstein, gave three reasons for the growth of the deficit: the president’s tax cuts, the increased defense spending and the interest on the expanding national debt.

These were the self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives who were behaving so profligately. The budget was balanced and a surplus realized under Bill Clinton, but soon the “fiscal conservatives” were back in the driver’s seat. “Deficits don’t matter,” said Dick Cheney, and the wildest, most reckless of economic rides was on.

Americans, including the Joe Sixpacks, soccer moms and hockey moms, were repeatedly told that the benefits lavished on the highfliers would trickle down to them. Someday.

Just as they were wrong about trickle down, conservative Republican politicians and their closest buddies in the commentariat have been wrong on one important national issue after another, from Social Security (conservatives opposed it from the start and have been trying to undermine it ever since) to Medicare (Ronald Reagan saw it as the first wave of socialism) to the environment, energy policy and global warming.

When the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to the discoverers of the link between chlorofluorocarbons and ozone depletion, Tom DeLay, a Republican who would go on to wield enormous power as majority leader in the House, mocked the award as the “Nobel Appeasement Prize.”

Mr. Reagan, the ultimate political hero of so many Republicans, opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In response to the historic Brown v. Board of Education school-desegregation ruling, William F. Buckley, the ultimate intellectual hero of so many Republicans, asserted that whites, being superior, were well within their rights to discriminate against blacks.

“The White community is so entitled,” he wrote, “because, for the time being, it is the advanced race...” He would later repudiate that sentiment, but only after it was clear that his racist view was harmful to himself.

The G.O.P. has done a great job masking the terrible consequences of much that it has stood for over the decades. Now the mask has slipped. As we survey the wreckage of the American economy and the real-life suffering associated with the financial crackup of 2008, it would be well for voters to draw upon the lessons of history and think more seriously about the consequences of the ballots they may cast in the future.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting Ugly Out There

It continues to amaze me how McCain and his bimbo continually claim the moral high ground for themselves when they're neck-deep in a cesspool of their own creating. Can they really be that pig-ignorant about the consequences of their hate-mongering? Or are they Just That Desperate to win?

From the Huffington Post:

Earlier on Friday, Barack Obama had criticized John McCain recent campaign appearance saying it was "easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division."

"I think that folks are looking for something different," he said. "But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious."

In responding to this charge, Rogers attempted to deliberate simplify and obscure some of the rhetoric that has recently come from McCain supporters. Videos taken of people heading into McCain-Palin rallies have shown individuals who label Barack Obama as a terrorist, a communist and a threat to the well-being of the country. At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin on Thursday, several attendees urged the Republican nominee to attack his opponent on the Ayers issue and Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who McCain himself has said should be off limits.

The rabid nature of the scene has startled longtime political observers and even former associates of McCain himself.

John Weaver, the Senator's former top strategist, has said McCain is making a tactical mistake by letting abusive hecklers have their voices heard during his forums. David Gergen, a longtime Washington strategist, has warned that the rhetoric from these attendees could "lead to some violence."

Veteran Republican Congressman Ray LaHood criticized Sarah Palin in particular, saying her rhetoric did not "befit the office she's running for."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney denounced the recent campaign stops as dangerous and expressed alarm that the top of the Republican ticket would not protest the crowd's language.

"Sen. John McCain, Gov. Sarah Palin and the leadership of the Republican party have a fundamental moral responsibility to denounce the violent rhetoric that has pervaded recent McCain and Palin political rallies. When rally attendees shout out such attacks as "terrorist" or "kill him" about Sen. Barack Obama, when they are cheered on by crowds incited by McCain-Palin rhetoric -- it is chilling that McCain and Palin do nothing to object."

Veteran reporter Dan Balz has opined that "McCain's tactics are over the line, with no restraint in sight, and threaten to provoke reactions among partisans on both sides that will continue to escalate."

And Frank Schaeffer penned a solemn and critical column (first published in the Baltimore Sun) personally addressed to McCain himself: "If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence."

McCain, through Rogers' statement, is gambling that the voices of caution don't matter as much as the sentiments of the people. But he is also implicitly arguing that even the vilest rhetoric sent Obama's way is fair game when chalked up to concerns about the Illinois Democrat's past associations and judgments. And he's acknowledging that he won't lift a finger to dissuade the raging tempers.

The McCainRaisers and Palinistas are egged on by their leaders, who encourage the "Hussein" and "traitor" catcalls. Who do nothing to stop people yelling "Kill him!" Who appeal to the very lowest and stupidest hicks among us to be no better, indeed, worse, than their nastiest fears and fantasies.

And then they accuse OBAMA of lying and dividing? I think not, my friends. And I guarantee that afterwards, when we're all watching the inauguration of President Obama, they will wonder where it was they went so very, very wrong.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Hockey Puck of Pook's Hill

From the New York Times:

October 6, 2008

Kiplin’ vs. Palin



Repeat after me: pigs can’t fly. Repeat after me: if you don’t work you die. Repeat after me: fire will certainly burn.

Perhaps these truths seem self-evident. But let’s face it, the whole Wall Street debacle, with its cost of some $700 billion to generations of Americans, was based on the fathomless human ability to disregard facts and believe in cloud-cuckoo-land.

Risk no longer existed. The penniless could afford a $200,000 house. Real estate prices could only rise. Securities full of toxic loans would prove benign. Debt was desirable, leverage lovely, greed great. Two and two made five. The moon was a balloon and streets were lined with gold.

How could it happen? That outraged question springs now to everyone’s lips. But from Dutch tulips to Californian dotcoms, great heists have happened and will again. No flight from reality is as sweet as the illusion that money grows on trees.

A friend wrote suggesting I take a look at Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings,” in the light of current events. Written in 1919, when Kipling was 53, in an England drained by the Great War, which had taken the life of his teenage son, the poem makes sobering reading.

A copybook was a school exercise book used to practice handwriting. At the tops of pages, proverbs and sayings (like “Stick to the Devil You Know”) appeared in exemplary script to be copied down the page by pupils. The truisms were called “copybook headings.”

The poem begins:

“As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.”

And what are the qualities of these “Gods of the Copybook Headings?”
The fourth verse sets them out.

“With the hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.”

The seventh verse reads:

“In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul:
But though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: ‘If you don’t work you die.’ ”

Truth, in short, confronts delusion and utopia.

Kipling is not much in fashion these days, other than for his children’s books. For a politically correct age, he speaks too bluntly of the world’s — and empire’s — cruel ironies. But his vivid evocation of war’s horror, man’s hypocrisy, illusion’s price and power’s passing make him important in this pivotal American moment.

As it happens — life’s ironies — I was reading Kipling after watching the vice-presidential debate, or more precisely Sarah Palin, the winking “Main-Streeter” from Wasilla. And the words of hers that rang in my ears were:

“One thing that Americans do at this time, also, though, is let’s commit ourselves just everyday American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say ‘Never Again.’ Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those managing our money and loaning us these dollars.”


I’m sorry, Governor Palin, words matter. Life has its solemn lessons. “Never Again” is a hallowed phrase. It’s applicable not to the loss of a mortgage, but to the Holocaust and genocide.

According verbal equivalency to a $60,000 loan and six million murdered Jews, or 800,000 slaughtered Rwandans, is grotesque. Perhaps Palin didn’t mean it, but that’s no less serious. The world’s gravity escapes her.

Not Kipling, who wrote in “Epitaphs of the War” (1914-1918):

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

I wonder, after the lying and the dead of the Bush Administration, in the midst of the wars, in the face of 760,000 lost jobs, is Palin’s offer of a “little bit of reality from Wasilla Main Street” enough?

“The Gods of the Copybook Headings” ends:

“As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

Palin, Mainstreeter that she is, loves to drop her g’s, so she’d no doubt call the poet Kiplin’. She might have asked, with that wink, to call him “Rud.”

That’s cutesy politics. But pigs still don’t have wings. The world’s still a
dangerous place. It’s time for copybook realists in the White House.

Brilliant. I love Kipling, as some of you know, and it gladdens my heart to see his incisive, glorious, luminous words used to trounce the mushmouthed Palin, with her sentence constructions that skitter like a moose on an oil slick and her Borg-like repetitions of whatever she’s memorized and only half-understands and her cheeseball winkin’ and twinklin’ and smilin’. We’re lucky she doesn’t use her forefinger to bore dimples in her pudgy little face just in case we didn’t get her point (lack thereof, rather).
But yeah. Rud’s right.

From a blogger, I forgot to note down where. But how wonderful!:

I spend half of each month in the mountains of western North Carolina. While there, this weekend, I happened to have a conversation with my neighbors. They're regular folks. They're mountain people who have a huge garden and don't buy things on credit. They had voted for George W. Bush in the past two elections and they had been supporters of Jesse Helms. Our conversation turned to the election. My neighbor and his wife said that they were both voting for Obama. His wife said that Mrs. Palin frightened her, that she was insulted by the Governor's con and that after these past eight years she can now see through such people. They both commented on how McCain was 'probably crazy'. My neighbor's wife said that people like that think that they can fool regular folks. The next day I took my daughter up to Asheville High School to see Obama. We couldn't find a parking space. The tide of people seemed unbelievable to me. Estimates stood at more than 25,000 'regular folks' standing side by side in a stadium of a school that in the 1950s and 60s had been segregated. Black. White. Hispanic. All sorts of folks. Even as Mr. Obama spoke, the crowds still came, walking in thick cues down the hill. I told my eight year old daughter that this weekend she lived history. Palin and McCain are fooling very few.
— Dave, New York City

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mooselina, Queen of the Borg Parrots

Some give Sarah Palin a pass rather than expose failings

By Richard Cohen
New York Daily News
Tuesday, October 7th 2008

Reading William Kristol's column in The New York Times, I discover that Sarah Palin and I have something in common. Kristol, who was once Dan Quayle's chief of staff and therefore, shall we say, has a Mister Rogers approach to certain politicians, got Palin on the phone and reported Monday that she does not "have a very high opinion of the mainstream media." This is where we are in agreement. On account of Palin, neither do I.

In the debate, she mischaracterized Barack Obama's tax plan and his offer to meet with foreign adversaries. She found whole new powers for the vice president by misreading the Constitution, if she ever read it at all. She called one moment for the federal government to virtually disappear and a moment later lamented the lack of its oversight of the financial markets. She asserted that she "may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you [Biden] want to hear" because, apparently, the rules don't apply to her on account of her being a soccer mom. Fer sure.

Not enough? Okay. Palin also said that she "and others in the legislature" called for the State of Alaska to divest itself of investments in companies that do business with Sudan. But, as the indefatigable truth hunter at The Washington Post found out, the divestiture effort was not led by Palin. In fact, her administration opposed the initiative and Palin herself came around to it only after the bill had died.

In spite of it all, much of the media saw a credible performance. I could quote the hosannas of some of my colleagues, but I spare them the infamy that will surely follow them to their graves. (The debate's moderator, Gwen Ifill, used the occasion to catch up on some sleep.) Many of them judged Palin simply as a performer and inferred that this would go over well in homes with aboveground swimming pools.

A perfect example is The Wall Street Journal, a paper whose (conservative) editorial page has been absolutely fixated on a strict (Scalian) reading of the Constitution. Did it wonder what in the world Palin meant by the authority she found in the Constitution to increase the role of "the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate"? What? Oh, never mind. The Journal chivalrously never brought up the matter. Palin is excused from knowing the limits of the office she seeks.

In effect, columnists, bloggers, talk-show hosts and digital lamplighters everywhere have adopted the ethic of the political consultant: what works, works. It did not matter what Palin said. It only mattered how she said it - all those doggones, references to her working-class status (net worth in excess of $2million), promiscuous use of the word "maverick," repeated mentions of "greed and corruption on Wall Street" (Who? Be specific. Give examples. Didn't anyone here go to school?) and, of course, that manic good cheer.

Can you imagine the reaction of the press corps if Hillary Clinton had given the audience a hi-ya-sailor wink? Can you imagine the feverish blogging across the political spectrum if Clinton had claimed credit for stopping a bridge that, in fact, had set her heart aflutter? What if she showed she didn't know squat about the Constitution, if she could not tell Katie Couric what newspapers or magazines she reads or if she claimed intimacy with foreign relations based on sighting Russia through binoculars?

Ah, but the scorn, approbation and ridicule that would have descended on Clinton - I can just imagine The Journal editorial - have been spared Palin. Much of the mainstream media, grading on a curve suitable for a parrot - "greed and corruption, greed and corruption, greed and corruption" - gave her a passing grade or better. I agree with Palin. It's the mainstream media that flunked.

Brilliant. Well done, sir!

Mavericks Run Alone

What a cool lady! And what a great family history...hey, I'd be pissed off too...more than I am, I mean.

It's a great word and McBane and the Moose Tart have no right to it...

October 5, 2008
The New York Times

Who You Callin' a Maverick?


There's that word again: maverick. In Thursday's vice-presidential debate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican candidate, used it to describe herself and her running mate, Senator John McCain, no fewer than six times, at one point calling him "the consummate maverick."

But to those who know the history of the word, applying it to Mr. McCain is a bit of a stretch — and to one Texas family in particular it is even a bit offensive.

"I'm just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick," said Terrellita Maverick, 82, a San Antonio native who proudly carries the name of a family that has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants.

In the 1800s, Samuel Augustus Maverick went to Texas and became known for not branding his cattle. He was more interested in keeping track of the land he owned than the livestock on it, Ms. Maverick said; unbranded cattle, then, were called "Maverick's." The name came to mean anyone who didn't bear another's brand.

Sam Maverick's grandson, Fontaine Maury Maverick, was a two-term congressman and a mayor of San Antonio who lost his mayoral re-election bid when conservatives labeled him a Communist. He served in the Roosevelt administration on the Smaller War Plants Corporation and is best known for another coinage. He came up with the term "gobbledygook" in frustration at the convoluted language of bureaucrats.

This Maverick's son, Maury Jr., was a firebrand civil libertarian and lawyer who defended draft resisters, atheists and others scorned by society. He served in the Texas Legislature during the McCarthy era and wrote fiery columns for The San Antonio Express-News. His final column, published on Feb. 2, 2003, just after he died at 82, was an attack on the coming war in Iraq.

Terrellita Maverick, sister of Maury Jr., is a member emeritus of the board of the San Antonio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Considering the family's long history of association with liberalism and progressive ideals, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Maverick insists that John McCain, who has voted so often with his party, "is in no way a maverick, in uppercase or lowercase."

"It's just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he's not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, 'Oh, my God, he said it again.' "

"He's a Republican," she said. "He's branded."

Branded good and hard.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The No-Brainer

From Bob Cesca, in yesterday's Huffington Post:

Mike Judge, the creator of King of the Hill and Beavis & Butthead, once told a story on Letterman about how, one day, his Joe Six-pack next-door neighbor was inexplicably removing the back windshield from a 1978 Chevy Nova. So Judge walked out to the parking lot of his apartment building and asked the neighbor, "What are you doing?" And the neighbor gleefully answered, "Huh-huh-huh! Huh-huh! Now it's like a truck!"

In the freakishly hamfisted world of Sarah Palin, Mike Judge's neighbor is qualified to be vice president of the United States.

Yesterday, Palin said the following to talk radio wingnut Hugh Hewitt:

"Oh, I think they're just not used to someone coming in from the outside saying you know what? It's time that a normal Joe Six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency, and I think that that's kind of taken some people off guard, and they're out of sorts, and they're ticked off about it."
There's so much awfulness in this quote, it's difficult to know where to begin. Out of sorts? Ticked off? Oh you betcha.

For the last eight dark years we've had a president who continues to be framed as a Joe Six-pack type. And it's been a disaster. No-one, at this point, is disputing the toxicity of the Bush presidency.

Here's the difference, though, between President Bush's Joe Six-pack persona and Sarah Palin's. For better or worse, George Bush -- and I can't believe I'm writing this -- had attained a respectable level of schooling while also coming from a family deeply rooted in American politics. In other words, be it the fake Crawford "ranch" and his cowboy drag, George W. Bush is mostly pretending. He's "Joe Six-pack" insofar as he's running away from his silver-spooned, cheerleading, Skull & Bones background. That doesn't mean he's any less ignorant. He's still a disconnected, incompetent nothing. But at least he possesses something resembling the heft required of the office. And it's worth noting for the sake of context that he initially ran for president as the "guy you want to have a beer with" in 1999 and 2000 -- a time of relative peace and prosperity. Bored Americans figured, Whatever. Might as well.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is, by all indications, a bonafide hooplehead -- so dangerously out of her depth and so delusional -- perhaps blinded by ambition -- that she is in total denial about the real-world ramifications of her ineptitude. Instead, she's excusing her embarrassing television interviews and farcical candidacy as an historical breakthrough for "normal Joe Six-pack Americans."

Of course this is great news for the 27 percent who think Bushie is still doing a heckuva job. And I guess it's good news for anyone who wants to be president but doesn't want to go through all of that hard work and fancy book-learnin' to get there. But if there's one thing the history of this decade has taught us, it's that for the foreseeable future we should vigorously ignore the 27-percent-Bushies at all hazards -- or at least we shouldn't be encouraging them, as the McCain-Palin ticket appears to be doing.

Normal Joe Six-pack Americans, she says.

We learned the other night that Sarah Palin reads every periodical in existence. "All of 'em," she said. So she must know that we're engaged in two wars, while a third war is heating up with nuclear Pakistan, and a fourth with a potentially nuclear Iran. We're drowning in one of the worst financial meltdowns since the Great Depression. We have an energy crisis. A climate crisis. A Medicare crisis. A healthcare crisis. Crumbling infrastructure. Increasingly frequent natural disasters. And what about that guy who apparently rears his head over Alaska all the time like that weird Sunshine baby on the Teletubbies -- President Bush calls him Pooty Poot. What about him?

Compound all of this with the fact that Senator McCain is 72-years-old and then ask anyone who will listen: Do we really want a "normal Joe Six-pack American" sitting in the Oval Office in January tasked with managing these problems?

No wonder everyone is ticked off. And Senator McCain, knowing all of this (as well as the average heights of Koreans apparently), acquiesced to the far-right by selecting Sarah Palin anyway, just prior to launching a general election campaign centered on the ridiculously incongruous theme of "Country First."

If John McCain was really interested in putting country first, he would ask Sarah Palin to step off.

Palin herself appears to be, as I said, too ambitious to voluntarily step off, so it really comes down to McCain. What'll it be, Senator? For the good of the country as well as its increasingly buffoonish reputation, you have to do this. Of course you won't, but it's worth a shot. Just putting country first here. By the way, I bet with this economic meltdown, Mitt's looking awfully good about now, eh?

In a greater sense, Sarah Palin, in her ungainly scramble to justify her total lack of quality, is inadvertently revealing a startling lack of patriotism. The vice presidency is chiefly about being ready and able to take over the office of the presidency. Subsequently, the presidency is a position of enormous historical and national importance, requiring the very best America has to offer -- especially now. Idealistically, it's a position of merit and a title of great honor. Not necessarily the grandiose, kingly role envisioned by founders like John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, but heretofore an office of significant prestige. So by suggesting that just any "normal Joe Six-pack American" can do it not only insults and diminishes the office, but it also insults and diminishes Sarah Palin.

Of course Sarah Palin probably doesn't realize that by implying that just any ignorant hoople can be vice president, she's not only suggesting that she herself is an ignorant hoople but, most importantly, that she can be easily replaced by any ignorant hoople plucked by the mullet out of any random monster truck rally. In other words, it's a frivolous position open to anyone who can read a teleprompter without choking on his or her own tongue.

I mean, is she seriously advocating for equal job opportunities for Joe Six-pack? It's about time, she seems to have said, that normal Joe Six-pack Americans were in control of our most important and most complicated jobs. Joe Six-pack presidents. Joe Six-pack astronauts. Joe Six-pack police detectives. Joe Six-pack surgeons.

Imagine being wheeled into surgery for a triple bypass and just before they push the anesthesia, you see Sarah Palin walk into the operating theater with a hatchet. A nurse offers her some sterile gloves and she blurts out, "Thanks, but no thanks! Oh I love doin' amputations!"

Scary. But it's about time, right?

The presidency, as we've learned the hard way, matters. An incompetent chief executive, no matter how he or she has been packaged, tends to breed disaster. There was a time when we could rest assured knowing that, even if the president wasn't all there, he was surrounded by competent people who could grab the wheel if he blacked out. But those who are supporting the Republican ticket based on superficial appeal need to ask themselves: since when has the word "competent" been used to describe the current batch of operatives surrounding John McCain and Sarah Palin? These are the same handlers who came up with the laughable "Alaska is right next to Russia" line. Put it another way, the man who first coined that line was Steve Doocy.

In the real world -- a world in which America needs serious people making our most serious decisions -- Alaska's proximity to Russia has less to do with national security experience than a '78 Nova without its back windshield has to do with a truck. It's just not. Likewise, Joe Six-pack, while qualified for many decent jobs (governor of Alaska, too, I guess), is simply not qualified for our highest national office. Sorry, Joe! And sorry, Sarah. You're just not up for this, regardless of what you've tricked yourself into believing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Airspace Between The Ears

Today's fun story:

NORAD: Sarah Palin has no role in guarding U.S. airspace despite claims in Katie Couric interview


WASHINGTON - When Russian bombers approach American airspace and U.S. Air Force fighters are scrambled, Sarah Palin's phone doesn't ring.

The Alaska governor has no command authority over the guardians of U.S. airspace despite her recent suggestion otherwise.

"She doesn't have any role in that process," Air Force Maj. Allen Herritage, spokesman for the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Daily News.

"The authority to launch and respond to a Russian incursion lies with the Alaska NORAD Region commander" - Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, he said.

Palin said last week that her foreign policy experience includes facing the Russians.

"It's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia, as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America - where do they go? It's Alaska," Palin told CBS' Katie Couric.

"It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation," she said.

Moscow's bombers have skirted Alaskan airspace 20 times, thugh they have not violated it, during Palin's governorship, officials said.

When F-15 and F-22 interceptors scrambled from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage in response, John McCain's running mate was not speed-dialed with the news.

"The commander does not call the governor," Herritage said.

Steven Biegun, a McCain foreign policy adviser, said Palin is informed of the fly-bys by her National Guard commander.

The Alaska Air Guard, which Palin oversees, performs airspace-watching missions only under NORAD command, and does not fly interception sorties.

Palin did get an annual Air Force briefing in February.

"She asked a lot of questions and seemed generally curious," recalled Herritage, who was there. "She was very interested in Russian long-range aviation."

I'll bet she was. Probably worried that the Russkis would cut in on her aerial wolf-and-moose-shooting...