Archive for September, 2008

To blink or not to blink

The latest, of course, is Sarah Palin’s joint interview with John McCain.  Um, no, that doesn’t seem at all paternalistic.  In the wake of comments from some of the party’s biggest champions that Palin should step aside, the McCain-Palin machine decides to give it a go together.  Allowing Katie Couric to interview them together can fairly be described as a hail mary.  He cannot make her sound more competent, he cannot make her sound smarter, he can really only make her look younger, prettier and more energetic than he.  To me, he sounded glib, tired and insulted that people still want to know what she thinks.  I don’t understand the camp’s thinking that they can change her answer to a question on Pakistan — she apparently stated, yes, troops should go there — into Gotcha! journalism.  I mean, yeah, gotcha!  You said it!  And now McCain states that because she was asked this question in a pizza parlor it (a) doesn’t count and (b) is the opposite of what she meant.  Maybe she should have just said that she accidentally blinked when the question was asked, but that it will never happen again.

I keep hearing that people say she’s smarter than we think and maybe that’s true. I just haven’t seen any evidence of that.


French connection

Like many Madisonians — though interestingly enough, no one I know — I take the bus to work in the morning and home in the early evening. From time to time, I drive, but most days, I bus. I do this for three main reasons: (1) it’s far cheaper than driving; (2) it’s far less sweaty than biking; and (3) I get to read. It’s where most of my reading gets done. Anyway, usually the bus experience is uneventful. Sometimes it’s annoying — like when the guy called me rude when I told him I was getting off at the same stop as he so he could stop trying to walk over me. Sometimes it’s super cute — like when these six or so kids get on with this guy who clearly runs his own day care and they sing The Wheels on the Bus or when the Preschool of the Arts kids are on and ask each other if they have vaginas. Sometimes it’s scary — like when my bus plowed into an oncoming car the other day, essentially totaling the car. Mostly, though, it’s pretty much a way to get from one place to another and enjoy ten pages or so of whatever book I’m reading. Today was a little different.

This morning, a fellow rider got on at the same stop as I and he had some trouble paying his fare. I thought he was just searching for his bus pass in his wallet, but it turns out he was probably more likely searching for words. I sat down — next to a totally disinterested, denim-clad butt — and watched as the scene played out. The bus driver kept telling the guy — who was probably mid to late 30s, very dark-skinned, and carrying a laptop-like bag and a lunch box-y thing — that the fare was $1.50 and that the bus couldn’t make change. The bus driver was driving the route at this point and even making other stops. The driver told the guy that it was ok this time, he could ride for a dollar, but the next time the fare would be $1.50. The guy clearly didn’t get what he was saying and continued to stand there, look like he needed help and hold on to his second dollar. Finally, the driver told him to sit down and the guy did. He sat down in the closest seat, which happened to be next to a middle aged woman with blonde hair who was traveling with several different sized bags. I thought it looked a little uncomfortable because they both had so much gear between them, but I was wrong. The woman took out her wallet — more of a South American-sewn pouch-type thing sold in the many stores that sell such things on State — and showed him two quarters and explained that this is what he needed. She then proceeded to take his dollar and give him four quarters. She asked him if he spoke English, and he said a little, but his face said he was clearly not comfortable with the language. They immediately began speaking French to one another. Yes, that’s right: French. Now, Madison may be a smallish town, but we do have a pretty major university in our midst, so this is certainly not the first time my humble self has heard a non-English tongue on my bus. In addition to the ubiquitous Spanish, I’ve heard several Asian languages bandied about and others I couldn’t tell you what they were. But this was the first time I have ever heard two strangers meeting on the near west side of Madison on a bus and finding that it would be best if they were to converse in French. I couldn’t hear much because of the noise of the bus, but I could hear that the woman was clearly fluent, she spoke seamlessly. And I could see that the man seemed not at all surprised by this — like, of course Wisconsinites all speak French — and asked her several questions. They made jokes that made their faces light up and when it came time to get off the bus, they got off together to head to the Union to try to get him a bus pass (I provided them with the info that he could probably buy one there — hope I didn’t mislead). While they were getting off, a young woman came up who must have heard some of what was going on and offered to take him to the union. They all three went off together, laughing as they walked down the street.

It was really kinda something.

Palin madness

I thought I would be satisfied reducing my thoughts on this much-loved subject to a few comments left on my prior post.  I was wrong.  There seems to be no sating my interest in this story.  So, let’s have at it.

When it was first leaked that Sarah Palin was McCain’s choice for the vice-presidency, I admit I said, “Who?”  And now, just a few days later, I have read more articles on Sarah Palin than I have ever read on McCain, Obama or Biden.  Probably even more than putting the latter three altogether.  I’m not exactly proud of this feat, but it is the truth.  A VP candidate from Alaska with only 20 months of experience as governor, years more as mayor of a 9,000 peeped town, and five children in this modern age.  I mean, it makes one want to read a thing or two about who this lady is.  And then throw in that her 17-year old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant and I challenge even the most reasoned among us not to do some google searching.

So, this is what I’ve learned.  Sarah was runner-up to being Miss Alaska, instead having to walk away from the pageant earning only the Miss Congeniality award; she went to the University of Idaho; she married Todd Palin when she was about a month preggers with Track; Track has joined the army; she had four other kids, including one named Trig with Down Syndrome, and one named Bristol who’s about to have a baby of her own; she was mayor of her hometown (having moved there when she was a few months old) for many years and said-town has a population of about 9,000; she hired a lobbying firm that led the town to millions and millions of bucks in federal earmarks; she supported that bridge until Congress only half funded it; she is super prolife; her pastor or reverend or whatever he is is *&^$#*&^%#@ crazy and somehow has gotten away with painting Jesus as a war-monger and risking his tax-exempt status by telling his flock that they would be hell-bound were they to vote Kerry/Edwards; she may have fired a man who refused to fire her ex-brother-in-law; she fired the police chief and the head librarian of Wasilla when she became mayor, citing as a reason their lack of loyalty to her; she is running for vice president of the United States.

I guess more than worrying about Sarah Palin, this makes me worry about McCain.  I know the pundits all say this was his reaction to hearing that he could not put Lieberman on his ticket, but it has to be more than that.  Doesn’t it?  Is he that brash?  It also seems to have placated the Christian conservative base that we all love to talk about.  But are they that simple-minded that the addition of Palin has satisfied them?  Maybe.  I guess we’ll see.

After all this, the election is just two months away.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.      

September 2008

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