Friday, October 31, 2008

Comment I Posted To Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias on the changing attitude toward "redistribution of wealth."

A theory about the shift in attitudes toward “redistribution of wealth.”

Mikhail Bakhtin, in his book “Rabelais and his World” referred to obscenity’s role in everyday discussion by saying that the pejoratives became dissociated from their actual meaning, and became a whole phrase on its own; basically, it became an expression rather than an actual phrase, rooted in the meanings of the word.

I think that’s what happens to talking points: a phrase in the language becomes something ideological, and therefore the words get uprooted from their meaning. Between April and October, McCain has taken the phrase “redistributing the wealth” and turned it into a euphemism for socialism–itself, in the US, a euphemism for dictatorial oppression and big government. So the question is heard by the listener, and it means something completely different now than it did five months ago, if you subscribe to McCain’s euphemism.

I don’t think attitudes have changed. I think McCain has shifted how we use language.

(Another example of this: McCain is firmly against the ideologically charged “regulation” but in favor of the ideologically neutral “oversight.”)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Economics: Response to Paul Krugman

I was reading an old article by Paul Krugman (the NYTimes Economist who won the Nobel Prize this year) which was his rebuke to the Austrian Theory on the inevitability of recessions after investment booms. The Article was written in 1998 in response to the Asian Market meltdown, and basically says that commentators who were blaming the freezing of the Asian Market on the Asian bubble bursting in the 1980s are just jumping to false conclusions.

Here's the point on which he faults the necessity of a recession after an investment boom:

"Here's the problem: As a matter of simple arithmetic, total spending in the economy is necessarily equal to total income (every sale is also a purchase, and vice versa). So if people decide to spend less on investment goods, doesn't that mean that they must be deciding to spend more on consumption goods—implying that an investment slump should always be accompanied by a corresponding consumption boom? And if so why should there be a rise in unemployment?" (emphasis mine).

So my question is, is he correct in his assertion that spending = income? Does his assumption mean that people who take their income from wages and save it in a bank get siphoned back into the investment market?

I think I disagree with his assertion that recessions are absolutely avoidable in the wake of a stock-bubble bursting, but I agree with his criticism of people who use the Austrian Theory to make an argument for the futility of government intervention are also incorrect. I mean, the reason in my mind that a stock-bubble bursting tends to lead to a recession because of the damage in consumer confidence, and the increased need for savings.

I mean, say the investment bubble bursts and loans become harder to secure. People's first impulses will (or ought to be) that they need to save more, because of all the uncertainty they see around them. So, while from a pure economics standpoint, I agree with Krugman that there's no reason why production capacity and consumption capacity would be affected by investments tumbling (although companies that rely on debt spending will be damaged), I don't think I agree with him that the rest of the market can be insulated from an investment collapse; certainly not one on the scale of what we're seeing now.

I mean, I guess I should cut Krugman some slack because he was responding to the Asian market bursting rather than the current financial tsunami, but since he was making a generalized claim, I think it's fair.

I'd also like to point out that Paul Krugman has won a Nobel Prize in Economics. I have read Freakonomics. I do not claim to be any sort of an authority.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Open Letter To The Conservative Minds

Hello to the Conservative Minds of America;

Hello to Christopher Buckley--(loved Thank You for Smoking!), hello to Kathleen Parker, hello to Andrew Sullivan, hello to David Frum and David Brooks. I'm addressing this to you because in recent weeks, a divide has come between you and the Republican Party. The real source of this break is Sarah Palin, and some of you have observed that the Republican Party has left you, rather than you having left it.

The news this week, written in the Times and in your blogs and all over the media-sphere, is that you all have broken with McCain-Palin '08, and for that you are the target of your party's vitriol and attack. Conservative minded papers are breaking with McCain-Palin 08, turning Democrat for the first time since 1964. So the question remains: where now for you all?

Many triumphant liberals have taken it that you have endorsed Obama-Biden. Some of you have. Some of you have said that you're not going to vote. I certainly haven't heard anyone endorsing Bob Barr, but that's not surprising--after all, you're smart conservatives and a "Libertarian" who voted for the PATRIOT Act is no more appealing to you than the current McCain Palin ticket. But the question remains: where now for you all?

It's interesting that the date 1964 is the last time the Republican Party has been torn apart like this. Admittedly, I wasn't alive them, but from my reading of history, it appears that that was the date that "conservative" Republicans seemed to take the ball from "moderate" Republicans, as they were labelled in those days. That was when Barry Goldwater took the nomination, over Governor Rockefeller's brigades (note that there was a Romney in that primary too, as pointless as that trivium is). When Reagan won in 1980, George Will wrote:

It took 16 years to count the votes [of the 1964 election], and Goldwater won.

But Barry Goldwater was a libertarian on social issues, after all, he said:

When you say "radical right" today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.

We've got a party that, on certain issues, falls to the right of Barry Goldwater. We've got a problem, and you all know that. The step to the right that Barry Goldwater started, and the step to the right again that Ronald Reagan took, is becoming a step too far. But you all know that, that's why I'm writing you this email.

I'm just begging one thing of you: don't let the Party leave you.

You all are the brightest of the Conservative movement, the ones who give it brains and sophistication. A party which hates the elite is deliberately dumbing itself down as fast as it can, so that it can't provide any meaningful solutions, or counterbalance to the Democrats. That's why they need you, even if they don't know it yet.

You can't give up. The fate of the country needs you.

The Democratic Party needs you, just as much as the Republican Party needs you, and almost as much as the American Public needs you (as much as they'll scream that they don't). You see, intellectual rigor improves everybody. When Democrats are right, they'll be able to prove it in a field of difficult discussion. When they are wrong, they won't be able to get by while being wrong. And the same should work vice versa. Constructive criticism is the most important social function that we can exercise as citizens. I have full faith that you won't stop. But right now, just criticism isn't enough.

Bill Kristol created this Sarah Palin monster. The fringe of the Republican Party is very good at getting attention; for their allies, they appeal to the base instincts of fear and greed and get them excited. For their enemies, they also appear to fear: fear of what their opponents could become in power. Sarah Palin gets a large share of attention because her insane, nativist rants against the "other" are far more 'interesting' than intelligent discussion on the merits and drawbacks of nationalizing the banking system. Not just to the huddled masses who she's playing to, but even to us intelligent people: we may agree or disagree with various policies, but Palin hits us right where we hurt: a vision of what politics could be if we don't fight this right now.

So what are you going to do, Conservative Minds? Might I make a suggestion? Find the anti-Palin. Go out there, look at Conservatives. Find someone you respect. And put them forward. We've noticed Barack Obama's quiet and calm demeanor. He launched himself into the public eye in the Primary by being loud and eloquent. But some Republicans out there might be quiet and calm all the time. They're not going to get much face time. Start making their names known.

Who do you look up to in the Republican Party? Do you see any rising stars? I've heard a few names thrown around; Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, for instance; or older figures like Senator Olympia Snowe. Get them involved. Contact them for statements. Light a fire under their ass, and make them take back the party.

The Republican Party can't keep moving right forever. If they lose more and more people, there won't be a Republican Party. The next time the Republican Party has a Presidential Primary, they're going to need someone to do what Barack Obama did for us in the Democratic Party: to show us a respectable future, a future that we as party members can be proud of.

And Barack Obama's creation as a figure on the national stage is not an accident. Somebody noticed him, among all the other freshmen senators, and decided to make him keynote the 2004 Democratic Convention. That's when I first heard him. And when he said that night that there aren't Red States and Blue States, but rather these United States, I knew that I had a future in the Democratic Party that wasn't Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, both of whom I dislike and would prefer not to be represented by. In fact, I didn't self-identify as Democrat until Barack Obama had won the primary. It might be hard for you all to call yourselves Republican until you have another Ronald Reagan to make you proud to be Republicans (or for Mr. Sullivan, another Margaret Thatcher).

It's going to be difficult. Many people are going to want to style themselves as the second-coming. If McCain-Palin loses, Palin's career will most likely be over; it's rare for a defeated VP candidate to make a convincing Presidential candidate later on, especially since if this election plays out the way it looks like it's going now, she's going to wind up shouldering the blame. Every Conservative who has turned against McCain Palin has been vocal about citing her selection as a turning point in their lack of support, and if part of the core of conservatism blames her, it'll be easy to see her negative effect on the election. So she'll be out.

Who's going to represent you in 2012?

What are you going to do about 2010? Where are the Congressmen to send back to Congress? Every few weeks we hear about abuse of power and sexual misconduct from Congressmen. They continue to cater to President Bush's agenda. They don't represent the future of the Republican Party. Who will?

That's your challenge for the next several years. These issues are too important for you all to withdraw, to say that the Republican Party has left you behind, and to just sit back and wait until someone does come along. It's up to you to construct the party of the Big Tent once more.


Guy Yedwab

P.S. Just don't remake your party too well. I still want liberals to run the country!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Conversationalism + 2008: Humor: Response to Andrew Sullivan

(You can read the post I was responding to here)

As one of these newly emerging youth voters, and also am a huge fan of shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I'd like to expand a little about what you said when you said "The next generation is deadly serious about this country but they also manage to have fun with it. That's the Millennials' real message, it seems to me." It's something a little more serious than fun: it's humor. See, one of the cores of humor is perspective: in order for things like irony or sarcasm to work, the joke implicitly creates perspective towards the truth. If you can remember the terrible rip-snorting fun that was the 2006 Press Correspondent's Dinner with Stephen Colbert, you'll know that it was funny (or really not funny, depending on your perspective) precisely because of the truth that was imbedded in every joke.

I'd like to point out that both Barack Obama and John McCain were frequent guests on the Daily Show (McCain was at one point--and may still be--the most frequent guest of the Daily Show). They both share an ability to laugh at themselves, to poke fun, to show a little bit of perspective. As the campaign marched forward, I was afraid John McCain had lost it completely, but at that dinner recently he showed himself able to. And how did he appear at that dinner? A lot more in touch with the truth than he has been lately. Comedy requires that self-awareness that you and I both look for in a candidate, and it also means a candidate has to give up their self-importance a little in order to make a self-effacing joke. After all, Stephen Colbert's Press Correspondent's dinner was far more effective than if Jon Stewart had done it because Colbert made himself an image of mockery, and then included Bush and others into that mockery. Note that Nancy Pelosi has, on a couple occasions, warned Congressmen not to appear on the Colbert Report lest they get a mocking that they can't recover from.

I want a candidate who'll have a sense of humor. I mean, I wouldn't choose humor over healthcare, but at the same time, the ability to laugh and joke and break the ice, to see oneself clearly and have perspective on the world around us, to be able to burst self-importance and relax the walls a bit--that ability gives me a lot of faith in their ability to pass healthcare. And in this pompous age of ideology, vitriol, and hatred from both parties toward each other, maybe the future of both parties needs to have a lot more humor. Like Reagan deftly joking about his age, Bill Clinton's ability to connect with people (he hasn't seemed very funny lately, though). Even Nixon's memorable "Checkers" joke separated him from a pact of less worthy candidates. I'm not saying Nixon was a great candidate, but if you look at the way that Nixon and Mao were joking around together, you'll see why it was that it took Nixon to go to China.

Of course, in 2008, there is a limit to the sense of humor I'll take. As someone who wanted McCain to be a different candidate than he turned out to be, I feel pretty "punk'd."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conversationalism + 2008: Libertarianism + Socialism

My brother, being a dedicated Libertarian, turned me on to the economic principles and political philosophy of libertarianism. Other guides for me steered me towards socialism, and its wellsprings in the economic hardships of Europe during the Industrial Revolution. Recently, I have been thinking about the two of them, and about my upcoming ambition to enter the realm of politics and start putting my money where my mouth is. Which philosophy should I use to guide me?

Well, of course, that's silly. What libertarianism has taught me, if I had to put it into one sentence, is that too much government can do terrible ills to society. And what socialism has taught me, in one sentence, is that too little government can do terrible ills to society. Libertarians, for instance, tend to focus on how much government the money spends, and on our debt. Socialists focus on the economic hardships of the poor. But let's put those two major doubts together: why is one of the most expensive governments of the last few decades completely failing to address the economic hardships of the people? We have one of the largest governments, and one of the most unresponsive we've ever had.

A libertarian is angry right now because we're wasting tax dollars that could be better spent. Socialists are angry because the people who need our tax dollars aren't getting them. A libertarian hates oil subsidies because it's unnecessary interference in the market; socialists hate it because it makes the rich richer with money taken from the poor and the middle class. A libertarian opposes the War in Iraq because of the budgetary toll, and because of the interventionist role it gives America. A socialist opposes the war because it hurts the people at the bottom while enriching businesses.

If libertarians want a smaller government, and socialists want a more effective government, they both should have aim in 2008: tackling corruption and out-of-control abuses of power in Congress and the White House. The same aim. They should be united, because both of their ideals are being compromised.

The government can be shrunk while still increasing the benefits to the people who need them the most. For instance, the ridiculous incentives for ethanol fuel that sparked food riots all over the world are a waste of our taxpayer money, and only drive up the price of fuel. Another way that libertarians and socialists can unite to achieve both their aims.

Will they disagree on certain issues? Perhaps. Libertarians appear to be against health plans in general, whereas it is one of the issues at the core of the socialist movement. But if a productive conversation is to be made, people of both philosophies should stop seeing themselves as mortal enemies and seeing where they are united.

I feel myself in both camps. I want the government to reach out and make education better, but I don't think we need do be hugely in debt to do it. The real issue is not how much we spend on education, but rather how much each dollar is buying.

What if the President put together a team to assess the buying power of each US Governmental dollar? What if Department of Education aid was compared with, for instance, DonorsChoose? The DonorsChoose website allows the private sphere to see what they're buying, to assess what they think are necessary expenditures. Increased spending should mean a system of evaluating the impact of that dollar.

When Libertarians want to cut funding to ineffective programs, Socialists shouldn't oppose them; they should save their battles for the parts of this government that are actually doing good. And if Libertarians have a better way to tackle the problems Socialists want to tackle, let them hear it. If you have a health care plan that will get many more Americans insured without a large governmental involvement, put it on the table.

On many charts and graphs of political sentiment, "Libertarian" and "Socialist" are considered to be 'polar opposites,' from the inane simplification that the goal of Socialists is to create a large government. Socialists are not totalitarians; true, larger governments tend to be the byproduct of a socialist-leaning government. But then again, larger governments also tend to be the byproduct of many libertarian governments.

Take a prime example: President Bill Clinton. Under his administration, we started paying off the National Debt, we made the welfare system more efficient. But he also proposed a health care plan for America. Budgetary concerns and social concerns were equally on his mind, as they should be on the mind of any president. Was he helped by the tech boom? Perhaps. But I would like to contrast his presidency with that of Governor Grey Davis of California, whose state unarguably reaped the windfall of the Silicon Valley boom. But what did he do with that windfall? He felt compelled to spend it, on measures (good as they may have sounded) that were later rolled back when the boom came back. Ever since then, the deficit has been growing in California, culminating in California's emergency request to Treasurer Henry Paulsen for $4 Billion. Why? Because he never considered the fiscal impact of his plans; he never attempted to make sure that he was spending within his means. Libertarians clearly were not on his mind, and socialism suffered.

That's what I have to say. I have libertarian instincts within me, and socialist instincts. Were I to be in some sort of elected office (as I hope one day to be), I would have to listen to both sets of instincts. "Deregulation" as an overarching philosophy is misguided, but so is irrational regulation--No Child Left Behind showed what irrational regulation can do to a system, whereas the current financial crisis shows what irrational deregulation can do to a system. The point is to have both tools in the pocket, and understand how they operate.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Conversationalism + 2008: Palin And The End of the Line

I take the injunction of the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer and it must be. I have to say it.

Required reading for the post.

Sarah Palin and John McCain have officially embarked on a campaign of discrimination.

Now, I'm not saying it's necessarily a racist campaign; Sarah Palin's remark that Obama "doesn't see America the way we do" could be equally anti-Democrat, anti-Elitist, anti-black, anti-Liberal, etc. The point, however, is that Sarah Palin is claiming to have a monopoly on America.

I want to talk about one of the most crucial point of the Vice Presidential Debate for me. In terms of our culture, and our cultural dialogue, there was a clear choice that was presented at one point. Ifill asked the two about how to turn around the partisanship in Washington.

Here's Joe Biden:

Mike Mansfield, a former leader of the Senate, said to me one day -- he -- I made a criticism of Jesse Helms. He said, "What would you do if I told you Jesse Helms and Dot Helms had adopted a child who had braces and was in real need?" I said, "I'd feel like a jerk."

He said, "Joe, understand one thing. Everyone's sent here for a reason, because there's something in them that their folks like. Don't question their motive."

Here's Sarah Palin:

But the policies and the proposals have got to speak for themselves, also. And, again, voters on November 4th are going to have that choice to either support a ticket that supports policies that create jobs.

You do that by lowering taxes on American workers and on our businesses. And you build up infrastructure, and you rein in government spending, and you make our -- our nation energy independent.

Or you support a ticket that supports policies that will kill jobs by increasing taxes. And that's what the track record shows, is a desire to increase taxes, increase spending, a trillion-dollar spending proposal that's on the table. That's going to hurt our country, and saying no to energy independence. Clear choices on November 4th.

In other words, in terms of bipartisanship, Biden says we shouldn't slander each other's motives, and Sarah Palin says you should pick the party that isn't out to "kill jobs," "hurt the country," and "say no to energy independence."

This is ludicrous.

So, a few days later, seeing that the polls still aren't backing her ridiculous brand of folksy anti-elitism, she has decided to kick it into gear, and make the heart of their campaign an attempt to question Barack Obama's motives. Because yes, clearly, a Hawaiian born Christian who was a civil rights lawyer, a professor, and has been two years in the Senate, doesn't see America the way 'the rest of us' do. He sees it the way terrorists do. Oh, and by the way: nobody has spoken as much about the exceptionalism of America as Barack Obama--it's the heart of his Yes We Can campaign. I wish he'd truck that out.

But this is unacceptable. Whatever McCain or Palin are trying to do, this is an unacceptable move in the campaign. I cannot repeat this enough. This is unacceptable.

I wanted McCain to be the end of the Republican Party as partisan hackery. I wanted him to show that two parties could both decide to stand a little taller and live up to America a little better. Where has McCain gone?

This is unacceptable.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Conversationalism + 2008: Ebert

Required Reading.

One of my theater teachers from South Africa led the class in a discussion recently about authority, and roleplaying in society. We were discussing the plays Accidental Death of an Anarchist (by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo) and The Inspector General (by Gogol). Both of the plays feature, as their primary vehicle, a poor "outsider" (Fo's "maniac" or "fool" and Gogol's scoundrel) who manage to play the role of a respected figure of authority, with hilarious byproducts.

This got us talking about authority, and how people play at authority, which naturally got us speaking about the current election. After all, what have people been talking about (especially in terms of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, whose experiences each are under scrutiny), but "whether they seem presidential." And the conversation came to the way that pundits in America talk about these debates. After all, before and after each debate, they come up with expectation criteria. I remember that Hilary Clinton, before the Democratic Convention, was basically being judged on one thing: whether she could really sell her endorsement of Barack Obama. Before the first presidential debate, it was, "Can Barack Obama seem presidential and informed about foreign policy?" Before the Pennsylvania primaries, it was, "Can Obama shake the tag of elitist?" We're grading our politicians not on their platforms or our belief in their ability to perform, but on their performance. We often use that word.

We Americans were rather disgusted by the mode of the media, but our professor respectfully disagreed. He said, "One of the amazing things about American politics is that the theater is considered part of the game. You talk about it. You're aware of it."

Ebert's review, linked at the top of this post, is one of the most sublime examples I've seen of it. He openly disavows any sort of political import of his post, and yet manages to hugely undercut Sarah Palin in the article. But how often have I seen the same logic at work? Sarah Palin has been lauded for, if not making any coherent points about policy, sounding as though she makes coherent points.

And yet the polls (according to CNN, CBS, and even FOX) show that the viewers backed Biden. Perhaps our professor is right, and we're reaching a point in which the average voter becomes aware of the theatrics of the entire affair, and thus is able to examine how it works.

I hope that this is indeed the trend, because it'll make smarter, more critical voters.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Conversationalism + 2008: Conversations About Race

Required Reading. For this post, and for Life.

That gentleman is the Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. I mean, if we're talking about the "blue-collar white man" that allegedly hasn't been out to back Obama in the polls, this is the guy.

But I don't want to talk politics. I want to talk conversation.

Back in the Primary Season, Barack Obama was called to respond to a scandal brewing over Reverend Wright. And he did. But he did something more profound than disavowing Reverend Wright. He talked about our relationship to race in this country.

He summed up his speech in this part of the text, I think:

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle - as we did in the OJ trial - or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. ...

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time."

He was calling on this nation to begin a dialogue, a true conversation about race. That's kind of my gig, and I was thrilled when I saw it. I was going to write something about it, but time slipped away and I let it fall.

And then nothing happened.

There was no discussion of race. We had blundered through a few minor but painful racial gaffes (Geraldine Ferraro, for instance). And at the end of the day, we went back to pretending that there was nothing different about Barack Obama, and that nobody was going to treat him any differently. And that race would not be an issue in this election. For the most part, it won't be. We have advanced a long way, and from the electoral maps I'm seeing right now, it seems fairly likely that Obama will still win.

But the question remains: what about our racial dialogue?

Although the speech I posted at the beginning from the AFL-CIO chief was mostly a stump speech for Obama, I have to tease out two major, major points he made.

  • We Cannot Stand By While Racism Happens
  • Getting Involved Doesn't Mean Accusing People Of Racism; It Means Engaging Them
That's a fantastic basis for the beginning to our conversation about race.

I'm very proud of our country tonight. I'm very proud that we have a man who can make that speech. He is winning no easy medals by bringing up a topic that most people have a much easier time avoiding.

More, America. We need more discussion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 + Government Reform: Justice

It is clear that in the last eight years, our country has gone on the wrong track. One of the ways in which it has worst offended is in our system of Justice. After all, Justice is one of the things we hold dearest to our hearts: The Statue of Liberty, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence; if you can tie all of these (and other) American governmental bedrocks together, it's under the banner of justice.

War crimes have happened. A close examination of the facts leading up to the Abu Ghirab scandal, the extraordinary rendition scandal, the CIA "black sites" scandal, and other scandals besides--as well as the official line (now abandoned) within the White House that we operate outside of the Geneva Conventions all culminate to make that point.

How do we address justice? That debate is raging right now.

Andrew Sullivan is correct when he says that any attempt to prosecute former members of the Bush Administration will have severe blowback. It's as though Newt Gingrich, by pressing for impeachment of Clinton, bought President Bush all the amnesty he needs. Almost every single member of the Bush Administration has been liked to one crime or another, and as President Bush likes to say: the members of his Administration are ultimately his responsibility. They serve at the pleasure of the President. So why the blank check?

The answer is that our own political system is too tied up in itself to effectively prosecute itself. If Barack Obama sets up a satisfactory Special Prosecutor, like Prosecuter Fitzgerald who handled the Scooter Libby trial, then perhaps some sort of justice can be approximated. But it is highly unlikely that this will really get to the roots of the problem: as in the Scooter Libby trial, the ax-men may get caught, but the people who enabled them will go scot free.

But it cannot be acceptible that the people who authorized torture are allowed to go free. It cannot be acceptible that the callous dismissal of human lives be allowed to go unpunished. It cannot be acceptible that the trammeling over the US Constitution be ignored. Because if we don't address these ills, it will be worse than a lost opportunity of justice: we will forever communicate that these things are acceptible. Suppose the next President authorizes torture for foreign civillians on our custody, or secretly sets up renditions within the United States. Will they be able to argue that they are merely following a precedent set by President George W. Bush? One of the arguments I have heard in Bush's defense is to cite the losses of civil liberties in previous administrations--as though whatever we have done now pales in comparison to those heady days. But it does not.

The challenge for the incoming president will be to restore the image of Justice in the United States, and in the world.

2008: Sarah Palin

Just a brief post here. I thought I'd play a little game. Sarah Palin is a vice presidential candidate, and, well, I've kind of harbored a little bit of a desire to run for office later in my life. But I'm worried. Would I be qualified? Would I be the sort of person that John McCain could turn to for advice?

I have no experience in public office. I am still studying for an undergraduate degree in college (studying Drama and Theater Production). My best executive experience was directing a play last year (on a budget of $300, and with a cast of 7 and a crew of 6). So, clearly, my credentials are not quite as good as Sarah Palin's.

But then I thought further. And I realized that I am more qualified than Sarah Palin in several fields.

  • Foreign Policy Experience: I was born as a passport holder. I travelled to Israel every year--and stopped in plenty of European countries every year! That means my family lives in Israel--and they're neighbors with Syria and Lebanon. So I keep an eye on Syria and Lebanon, which means that I guess I'm pretty qualified in their affairs.
  • Knowledge of Law: Sarah Palin could name one Supreme Court Case: Roe v. Wade. I can name Roe v. Wade, but I can also name the more accurately applicable Supreme Court Case (Casey v. Planned Parenthood) which changed Roe v. Wade's absolute protection of abortion into a more qualified one. How about the Dredd Scott case, which ruled that African-Americans were not human beings under the law, and couldn't sue--and that property transported over state lines remains the property of the owner, regardless of law? Or how about Plessy v. Fergussen, which ruled that "separate but equal" was the prevailing standard, and Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned it? What about Marbury v. Madison, which established Judicial Review? Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, which ruled that the Cherokee Nation had the rights to their land--but was overturned informally by Andrew Jackson's "You've made your decision, now let you enforce it?" Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree. I'm clearly qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice, at this rate. John McCain: make me your Harriet Myers.
  • Following of the News: Sarah Palin was unable to name any newspapers or magazines she follows current events in. Here's mine:
    --Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish
    Michael J Totten's blog
    --Google News' roundup (which includes the major newspapers, AP, Reuters, the major networks, etc.)
    --The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Bugle (three major satirical news programs; the latter from overseas)
    --BoingBoing (a technology / libertarian blog)
    --Slashdot (news for geeks)
    --15 or so Art Blogs
    --Prague Post/Prague Daily Monitor (I'm in Prague right now)
    --The official updates of Representatives Carolyn Maloney and John Campbell (my two representatives)
    --Lawrence Lessig's blog
    --Creative Commons' blog
    --SCOTUS Blog (updates on the Supreme Court)
That's about it. Clearly, from my resume, you can see that I'm as qualified to be the Vice Presidential candidate. Also, I can bring in the Jewish vote, the young vote, and the purely hypothetical vote, because I'd never accept a position as your running mate.