Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin in the Blogosphere

The web is crackling with rumors and speculation this evening about the circumstances surrounding the birth of Trig Palin, the fifth child of Alaska governor Sarah Palin, named on Friday to be John McCain’s running mate.

Some of the speculation is based on news stories published in the Alaska press around the time of Trig’s birth. This much is not rumor: Governor Palin’s pregnancy came as a complete surprise when she announced it because she was already seven months pregnant and did not appear to be pregnant (Anchorage Daily News, March 6, 2008). In April, when she was eight months pregnant, Palin was at an energy conference in Texas where she was scheduled to speak. According to her own account, reported in Alaska newspapers, at about 4 am on the morning she was scheduled to speak she began to leak amniotic fluid. Nevertheless, she gave the speech several hours later then headed for the airport after consulting her Alaska physician who told her it was safe to fly. The flight from Dallas to Anchorage required a change of planes and she arrived approximately 8 hours later in Anchorage (Fairbanks News-Miner, April 22, 2008). According to Palin, one reason she flew home was her desire that the baby be born in Alaska. Upon arriving in Anchorage she traveled about 45 minutes to a hospital near Wasilla where the 6 pound, 2 ounce baby boy was born early on the morning following the Governor’s departure from Texas.

The medical advice Palin received, that it was safe to fly home, is highly questionable. Almost any OB/GYN will tell you that once fluid starts to leak, a pregnant mother needs to get to a hospital as soon as possible. There is a risk of infection and delay can place mother and baby in danger. While the judgment of the doctor, and Palin herself, has been called into question, what’s buzzing around the Internet is far more bizarre. It’s the rumor that the child is not Palin’s, but her 16 year old daughter’s. The reason Palin had to get back to Alaska, according to this speculation, was that Palin needed to be near or with her daughter for the alleged cover-up to work.

The circumstantial evidence is hardly enough to come to a conclusion, but it is curious that a 44 year old mother of four would delay seeking medical attention, board a long flight to Alaska, put herself and her baby at risk for the vanity of having the child born in Alaska. Typically, the time that elapses from the leaking or breaking of amniotic fluid (Palin’s story about whether her water “broke” was revised after the event) to birth is shorter for women who have had previous children. Indeed, many airlines have policies against women flying in such a condition, though Alaska Airlines, on which Palin appears to have flown, leaves it up to the judgment of the passenger.

It has also been floating in the blogosphere that Palin’s 16 year old daughter had, in the four to five months prior to Trig’s birth, been on leave from her Anchorage high school with mononucleosis. I have not seen a contemporaneous Alaska newspaper report to this effect, however.

The story would seem to be too bizarre to be true, but for the very odd, and undisputed accounts of the Governor’s travel back to Alaska from Texas, and her ability to keep news of her pregnancy a complete secret into the seventh month. But, again, this could all be wild speculation. If that’s the case, I am sorry for repeating it. But at the very least, a legitimate question is Governor Palin’s judgment in risking her own health and that of her unborn baby by delaying medical attention once she noticed, in Dallas, that she was leaking amniotic fluid. But this would have no bearing on her candidacy.

If this story is true, however, and that’s big “if,” look, obviously, for Palin to be dropped from the ticket. If it is true, and it breaks before the convention, McCain will not be the nominee since the blow to his claims of judgment will be destroyed. The convention would be thrown wide open. Who would want to accept the GOP nomination under this scenario? Probably no one except Mitt Romney. He’s so desperate to be noticed he’d throw himself under the bus for the party.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Who?

All over America today, from Presque Isle, Maine to Elko, Nevada, from Cozad, Nebraska to Raton, New Mexico you could hear the sound of small town mayors and city managers weighing their vice-presidential and even presidential prospects. Yes, those chief executives who deploy the snow plows and sanders, command legions of sewer workers, hire and fire park and rec directors, and preside over pancake breakfasts at the old Grange now know they are just 18 months of experience running a state of 650,000 people from being serious presidential timber. At least according to John McCain.

Each of our would-be Commanders in Chief just made their first crucial national security decision. Barack Obama concluded that should he be unable to serve, or were to die in office, he would put the country and the US military in the hands of a six-term Senator and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a man widely respected on both sides of the aisle. McCain, who is after all 72 and a four time cancer survivor which makes his choice more than academic, chose a person who before her year and a half as governor of the tiny state of Alaska (pop. 650,000) was mayor of a town of 6,000 people.

In his acceptance speech in Denver last night, Obama said if John McCain wants to debate who has the judgment and temperament to be Commander in Chief he would welcome that debate. Incredibly, he won it and he didn't even have to fire a shot. He just let John McCain shoot himself in the foot. Goodness, even Dick Cheney has better aim than that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A World Gone Mad

The other day, in the wake of the war that erupted between Russia and Georgia, both President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said something rather astonishing. They said that in the 21st century it was simply unacceptable that one country would invade another sovereign nation and occupy it.

Wow. Somehow the invasion and bloody occupation of Iraq must have slipped their minds.

Honestly, can you believe these people? Do they have no sense or shame at all?

Now, this isn’t a justification for Russia’s actions in Georgia (hopefully the President realized this was a country south of Russia and not a state south of South Carolina), but it really does make you wonder if Bush and Rice (a) think anyone is listening to them anymore or (b) think people are too stupid to see the obvious flaws in the logic. At the very least, couldn’t they phrase their comments in such a way so that they don’t look so stupid? At least the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations had the sense to say that such invasions have no place in the 21st century….in Europe.

More doublespeak came from our new attorney general who, in deciding no one would be prosecuted for the blatant use of political litmus tests in the hiring and firing of U.S, attorneys (i.e. only right wing ideologues faithful to the GOP need apply and, by the way, no lesbians), actually said, conveniently for the Administration, that not every violation of the law is a crime. Glad we’re clear on that. And torture isn’t torture if we redefine torture either.

If you watched Bush interviewed during the Olympics by Bob Costas what you saw was a man so smug and cocksure of himself, you had to wonder whether his arrogance is inversely proportional to his poll numbers. By now the litany of Bush’s grotesque and stupendous failings is so long it can make you crazy just to think about it.

One that somehow vanished in the news cycle last week is contained in a new book by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Ron Suskind. The Bush Administration, and Suskind makes it clear it had to have been Bush or his boss, Dick Cheney, ordered, in writing, that the CIA forge a document that turned up in Iraq, a document over the signature of a former Iraqi intelligence chief now comfortably retired with $5 million of CIA money, that links Saddam Hussein to Al Queda. They were so desperate to prove the case for war when no WMD were found, they stooped to this. I'm sorry, but if you;re going to send thousands of young men and woman to die in combat, then you ought to at least have the decency to make an honest case.

So, let us now remember why it was that the Republican-controlled Congress impeached Bill Clinton and we had a Senate trial, the first since Andrew Johnson’s. You mean to tell me that lying about...well, you the type of high crime or misdemeanor the framers considered an impeachable offense and sending thousands to die on the basis of lies and misinformation is not? I wouldn't put that question to Bush's attorney general.

The world has been turned inside out. In Bush World black is white, up is down, and two plus two equals five. It makes me sick.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bush in China

There’s no doubt that China’s human rights record is abysmal. But isn’t there more than a little irony in President Bush of all people going to the Olympic Games in Beijing and taking China to task on human rights?

I am sure the President doesn’t get it: that secret prisons, torture of terror suspects, and images of Iraqi prisoners with hoods over their heads and wired to batteries, or being stripped naked and sexually humiliated, doesn’t exactly enhance his moral authority on the issue. You see, this is one of the real costs the United States is paying for eight years of madness. We’ve lost any moral high ground we once held.

Yet, when an American politician (Barack Obama) is welcomed in Europe by enormous, enthusiastic crowds, the Republicans see this as a negative. Being loathed by Europeans is turned into a positive because those Europeans they’re so…so..well, un-American. There was a time when the image of an American leader being revered by foreigners was a source of pride and patriotism. It meant the world held us in high regard, that our values were both desirable and desired, and that we inspired hope in others. Somehow that’s all been turned on its head. Now, to be adored or celebrated abroad is to be Paris Hilton or Britney Spears.

How low can we go? Ask President Bush.