Sarah Palin’s interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson

Yesterday’s episode of 20/20 featured part two of Charles Gibson’s interview with Sarah Palin. The second part of the interview was the first time I’d actually heard her speak for a significant amount of time. I will first present just what she said, and then comment on it.

1. Palin said that the economy was weak, and that what she’d change to improve things are: reduce taxes, cut the use of earmark spending, and increase the oversight on quasi-governmental agencies such as Fannie Mae and all government agencies to find where things can be made more efficient (at least, that’s what I assume she meant by “find efficiencies”…unless she was saying “find deficiencies”…but I don’t think I’d mishear that many times…).

2. She gave words of praise for Hillary Clinton.

3. She denied that she ever asked for books to be banned. She said that the conversation she had with a local librarian was about what to do if someone were to request a book be banned.

4. She denied that she had anything to do with the firing of a state trooper and said she welcomes the investigation into the matter.

5. Palin asserted that it was her “personal opinion” that abortion is wrong except in the case of the mother’s life being in danger. Likewise she said that it was her personal opinion that Roe v. Wade be repealed. She said it was an important choice for women, and that regardless of one’s beliefs, everyone “can agree on” the need for there to be less abortions and greater highlighting of the other options available to women considering abortion.

6. She said she was for citizens having semi-automatic weapons. She pointed to guns being a part of the Alaskan culture as a part of hunting, and that this was part of her world-view. She also argued that outlawing guns wouldn’t stop the people “who would pull the trigger” from getting and using guns. She affirmed that she is a life-long member of the National Rifle Association.

7. When asked how she felt about homosexuality, she said that she doesn’t judge and that she doesn’t know anything about whether it is a choice or a trait one is born with.

8. Her energy focus is on gaining independence from foreign oil by increasing production of the oil resources available in the US.

9. As far as stem cell research, she said she thought it was wrong to create a human embryo, then destroy it, and pointed to new research that uses adult stem cells.

Now, for my reactions to these items.

1. When asked why the GOP keeps saying that Obama would raise taxes, Palin responded that it was because when given the chance to lower them, he didn’t. This is not a strong argument. Furthermore, reducing taxes cuts government services, and the people who get the short end of the stick are invariably those who are less well-equipped to handle the shortfall. Even if the wealthy don’t care about the poor on a human level, they should care about them on the level of their own peace of mind: when things are hard, many of those struggling turn to crime, of which the rich can become the victims. I agree with trying to find ways to make all agencies run efficiently–but I have to wonder what would get labeled as “inefficient”. Would services for the poor be axed as “inefficient”?

2. Obviously, the flowery language for Hillary is a tactic to get her supporters. If HRC were her opponent, the mud would be flying.

3. I haven’t really read much about the book banning thing, so I won’t comment on it.

4. Ditto for Troopergate.

5. Her answer to the question of abortion was very interesting to me in that she talked about it being a “woman’s choice”. While she didn’t explicitly say that she would work to overturn Roe v. Wade by talking in terms of her “personal opinion”, I have to take the evasion to mean that she doesn’t believe a woman should be able to choose to have an abortion. While I do think that in cases outside of rape, incest, and danger to the mother, it would be good to have recourse to something other than abortion, ultimately, that some women choose to have them doesn’t mean I have to. Their choice does not affect anyone but themselves and immediate family. Palin also talked about promoting a “culture of life”. I found this ironic given that she supports guns, whose purpose is to kill, injure, and at the very least, frighten.

6. Speaking of guns, I found it very interesting to think about how guns are a part of one’s local “culture”. It may well be that when Alaskans hear the word “gun”, they think of hunting and of sport, not of crime and accidental deaths, which is what I think about as a member of Detroit’s culture. So how can we craft laws to reconcile these local differences? Honestly, I don’t think we can. And while I do agree that restricting semi-automatic weapons won’t stop criminals from acquiring and using them, I think we need to answer this question: would stricter laws at least cause an appreciable decrease in gun violence? I think that they would, because I think that right now anybody can go out and get a gun by some means or other, whereas stricter laws might be just enough to make it too much of a hassle for the average, petty thug to deal with.

7. I think Palin avoided the deeper meaning in answering the question about how she felt about homosexuality. It’s all well and good that she doesn’t judge and doesn’t know whether it’s a choice or a biological thing, but when issues like gay marriage come up, you can’t just say those things and make the question go away. The point of evading questions is deceiving voters.

8. I found it interesting that Palin talks about making government efficient in order to save money and make government smaller, but didn’t say anything about dealing with the energy crunch by becoming more efficient in how we use energy. She says she’s stood up to big oil, that she and McCain are mavericks, that you can look to the GOP for change, yet their main strategy in the oil crisis is to bring in more oil. That’s not change! Change would be demanding that the Big Three hurry up and make all their vehicles more fuel efficient. It would be putting a priority on new energy technologies, not the same old systems that got us into this mess in the first place. Remember, this is not the first oil crisis the US has faced.

9. Lastly, stem cell research. This argument about it being wrong to create an embryo then destroy it doesn’t hold water if she isn’t going to also oppose all in-vitro fertilization. The embryos that would be used in stem cell research are those that are created for in-vitro as extras, or as a ‘margin of error’, so to speak. Those that aren’t implanted into the client get destroyed regardless of whether their stem cells are used or not. So, without being against in-vitro, being against embryonic stem cell research is hypocritical.

Well, that’s it for me. What were your reactions, O World?

Bush’s Satellite Address

I admit, I haven’t been as attentive to the Republican National Convention as I should be. Partly I was put-off by how they seemed to be blowing Hurricane Gustav out of proportion. Hindsight may be 20/20, but I definitely got the feeling that they wouldn’t have minded if the storm had been as bad as Katrina so they could swoop in like Heroes this time around. So far I’ve only seen George W. Bush’s message to the Convention.

I found it interesting that the crowd went wild at his “angry left” not breaking the resolve of John McCain remark. I thought to myself, who’s trying to break his resolve? Well, I don’t know about everyone in the angry left. This left-leaner just doesn’t want him to win. There is a time and place for everything, and McCain’s survival in the POW camp is certainly impressive. But is this the time or the place for it? How can you call using the nation’s Armed Forces to fight an unnecessary, deceitful war that is damaging the reputation of the United States and making people hate us, “supporting out troops”? I’ll admit that immediately after 9/11 I felt very strongly that we should go to war with the attackers. But Iraq had nothing to do with those attacks, and fighting an unconventional enemy with conventional warfare hasn’t worked. I say it hasn’t worked, because if all foreign troops were to pull out of Iraq tomorrow, all Heck would break loose. The poo hit the fan when the US invaded Iraq, staying there is just keeping the fan from spinning and spreading said poo all over the place. But one day, it will have to. Might as well be sooner rather than later.

Got a little off topic there. Back to W’s words.

Another interesting remark was that McCain would invest in new energy technologies and allow offshore drilling. Yeah, about that. Why would people make the change to new energy technologies if they can still get the same old stuff they’re used to and that their automobiles and such already run on? Let’s face it: “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”. If the need isn’t great, the inventions won’t move forward as much as they could, and the US will fall behind other nations in innovation. Even if we do allow offshore drilling, the oil will someday run out because it isn’t infinite. Not going full-speed ahead in the quest for new, more efficient energy sources and the technology to harvest it is a bit like watching an anvil about to fall on your head and deciding to casually stroll out of its path rather than run.

Well, I did agree with one thing Mr. President said: I am hopeful about this country’s future, but it’s not because McCain is going to save us. From the standpoint of History, the human condition has always been on a pendulum swinging between pretty good and rather poo-ey. At least here in Michigan, things have been poo-ey for a good while, so I’m hoping it’s time for the pendulum to swing in the other direction.

Palin’s Baby Mama Drama

Further proof is coming out that McCain’s VP pick, Alaska’s Sarah Palin, was nothing more than a move to try to get Hillary Clinton’s supporters who are wavering in regards to supporting Obama. Even when all I knew about her was that I’d never heard of her, it made a very bad impression on me that McCain was making this gambit. Then I learned she was super duper conservative. *Cringe*. Then I learned about the ongoing abuse of power investigation against her. *Mayor Kwame, anyone?* Now this: her 17 year-old daughter is pregnant. *Conservative abstinence-only education at work, folks!* The question is, should it matter? I heard some very good points on local radio station FM 98 WJLB around this issue.

One listener thought that it was just a reflection of something that’s going on and has been going on in American life today: young girls getting pregnant. My problem with that is, if someone presents themselves as conservative, I assume premarital sex and pregnancy are huge no-no’s for them. So why is this going on in their family? Were they not as instructive as they should have been in indoctrinating their young in their core beliefs? And if they did do everything they could as parents to raise their children “correctly” and failed, why do they still cling to these ideas that are proven time and again, to be counterproductive to sustaining their beliefs? Definition of insanity, anyone? Another point someone brought up was that if it were a young child of Obama’s in this situation, it would just be more fodder for people’s conscious and subconscious racism. I.e. “Pregnant black teenager? It’s to be expected”. Granted, there is still some degree of stigma to teenage pregnancy, regardless of race–otherwise this wouldn’t be in the news.

Lastly, and most importantly, there’s the issue of McCain not doing his homework before picking a candidate for his VP. Are we really to believe that a man of his beliefs would’ve picked her had he known all this stuff about her? I doubt it. What kind of tactician would he make in a war he says he’ll stick out, even if it takes a century?

I hope people don’t fall prey to this trap. Don’t vote for McCain just to put a woman in the Vice Presidency. I’m a woman, and consider myself a long-time feminist (I was reading books about how the cosmetics industry exploits women when I was barely in middle school!), and I don’t think it’s worth it. Keep in mind that whatever woman is first to get in the White House has to be twice as good as any previous President to be considered half as good. If some less than impressive woman makes it, she’ll make it even harder for another woman to reach the White House. Let us not make rash decisions in a haste to make history! This nation is barely some 232 years old. That’s nothing! There is still plenty of time to elect a suitable woman to that high office.

My Wanderings during HRC’s Speech

Okay, down to the business of a real post. So I’ve just watched TV coverage of the Democratic National Convention, mainly Hillary Clinton’s speech. I’ll leave the analysis to the pundits. I want to focus on the thoughts that strayed into my mind as I watched, in no particular order:

1. I hope they’re going to recycle all those signs.
2. Bill Clinton sure seemed proud of his daughter and wife. Aww!
3. Maybe it was just the angle, but Michelle Obama’s eyebrows seemed arched to the point of angry-looking.
4. What if she runs for President against Hillary in 2012? Imagine all the cat fight jokes they’d make on Saturday Night Live!
5. I always find it interesting when people at patriotic events bring up slavery.

That last one, it made me think of my Naturalization Ceremony. For those of you who got lost, ended up at this blog and are confused (“What, you weren’t natural before?”), I’ll explain. Time for a short civics lesson. *Ahem*

A bunch of people wanted to make tea for a really, really large crowd at a rowdy Guitar Hero tournament in Boston in 1773—-

Wait, that’s not it.

When an immigrant comes to the United States, after 5 years of living here, they can apply to become US citizens themselves (for a price, of course). After their application is processed, they are fingerprinted to make sure they’re not criminals. Once that’s cleared, they go in for an interview and test of American History, Government, and basic ability in the English Language. The next step upon passing that, is to swear allegiance to the United States at the Oath Ceremony, in the presence of a Court.

The reason HRC’s mentioning of Harriet Tubman reminded me of this, was because of something the Judge presiding over my Naturalization Ceremony said. Granted, I don’t remember exactly what conclusion she came to, but I’ll try. Let me build this image in your mind:

I’m sitting in Detroit’s Cobo Hall this past mid-July with nearly 999 other immigrants and our friends and families, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Each of us has received two patriotic books: The Citizen’s Almanac and a copy of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. We also got an American flag keychain (with “Made In China” on the back). I wondered how this ceremony would go in the midst of all this patriotic fervor.

So the Honorable Judge Hood (yes, that really was her name! Where’s DJ Khaled? Hu~ooood!) gets up there and says she was asking her interns what she should say to the New Americans. One of them suggested taking it back to “good old American values, Ben Franklin and such”. And this is where the Judge surprised me. She said, “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk to them about a time when women couldn’t vote and black people only counted as three fifths of a person.” I was like, whoa, did she really just say that in the middle of all this ‘America the Beautiful’ sentimentality?! She went on to talk about this discrepancy, and how to come to a resolution. I couldn’t help but wish I could broadcast her words to people who think it impossible for this country to ever live up to its written doctrine of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, when its foundation stones are red with the blood of expelled and exploited peoples. So yes, she said, her ancestors were brought here against their will. But there was a fight, rights were won. It was a slow, and as yet incomplete fight, but we must continue to fight on, to make this country be what it professed to be at its inception.

I too feel this way about the contradictions in the United States’ past and its future. So while I still find it interesting when people on the national stage are willing to go ahead and talk about the skeletons ‘in our closet’ that walk among us, I see, and they see, that they don’t contradict the purpose of these nationalistic gatherings when they do. As far as I can see, this country, this “experiment”, has yet to be actually carried out. And in hopes that it will be, I will try to pay more attention to politics, I will definitely go vote, and I will start voicing my concerns directly to my congresspeople. So it is with a hope for a disciplined approach to patriotism that I added that Chinese-made American flag key chain to my keys.

So, that’s a bit of what I was thinking as I listened to Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight. What random, yet telling, thoughts floated through your mind, O World?