Thursday, December 31, 2009

Palin #2 on Bestseller List

After setting a record five weeks as a political book at the top of USA Today’s bestseller list, Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue has shown its popularity and staying power by remaining the #2 book sold last week. Only Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol beat Going Rogue in sales the week ending December 27, 2009.

When Palin broke the record last week for most weeks at #1 for a 2009 book, USA Today managed a mention of it noting the book was "going strong".
Palin, going strong: Sarah Palin's memoir, Going Rogue, is the first and only book of 2009 to remain at No. 1 on the list for five consecutive weeks. Three other titles —Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, Glenn Beck's Common Sense and Stephenie Meyer's New Moon — held the No. 1 spot for four straight weeks earlier this year.

Congratulations, Governor Palin!

Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope got as high as the #2 spot, but never got to #1. The Audacity of Hope was on the top 150 list for 96 weeks.

[Interesting that Glenn Beck has three books in the top 50: #14 Arguing with Idiots, #40 The Christmas Sweater, and #49 Glenn Beck's Common Sense.]

Americans Favor Waterboarding as Danger Grows

According to a new Rasmussen poll:
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of U.S. voters say waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques should be used to gain information from the terrorist who attempted to bomb an airliner on Christmas Day.
Men and younger voters favor the more aggressive techniques more than women and older voters.

Apparently politically correct, kid gloves Miranda treatment for terrorists is losing support as dangers of attack ramp up. To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, knowing you or your family may be blown up on an airline trip concentrates the mind wonderfully.

H/T Jennifer Rubin

Saturday, December 26, 2009

But Was He Read His Miranda Rights?

Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. He detonated a device as the airplane was preparing to land in Detroit. Muttalab claimed he was acting on behalf of al-Qaida and was told to "detonate the plane over U.S. soil" . [emphasis added]

The Lockerbie bombing was to be done over international waters to make it almost impossible to solve the crime. But, this time the detonation was to be over U.S. soil. Maybe because of Miranda rights?
"The man was being questioned Friday evening. An intelligence official said he was being held and treated in an Ann Arbor, Mich., hospital."
[emphasis added]
Under Obama administration rules one can bet any "questioning" will be mild and not lead too far. Or heads will roll as the questioning perpetrators are brought to justice for overstepping the civil rights of Nigerian terrorists.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joy to the World!

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Luke 2: 1-20

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going Rogue Sets 5 Week Record as #1

Craig Wilson of USA Today must be grinding his teeth. Going Rogue has now been #1 on their 150 bestseller list for 5 weeks. It tied with Colin Powell's 1995 autobiography two weeks ago for being the best selling political autobiography/memoir of all time, and passed the Powell book last week.

Wilson manages a few lines for Palin's record setting accomplishment, and sandwiches the news between noting President Obama's tumbled sales (neither of his two books is on the current bestseller list) and noting that Senator Edward Kennedy's Compass is now number 30 on the list (down from a high of #2 on the September 24th list).

It's a little like sandwiching news of Michael Phelps' record setting 8 Olympic gold medals between news of a fairly popular swimmer who never finished first (neither of President Obama's books made #1 on USA Today's bestseller list) and the second place winner in one of the events where Phelps took the gold.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Congressman Clearer on Moral Issues than Evangelical Leaders

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich) has a clearer sense of moral implications of the Senate health care bill than evangelical leaders such as David Neff (editor of Christianity Today), Brian McLaren (Emerging Church movement), Joel Hunter (pastor of a Florida megachurch), and Ron Sider (Evangelicals for Social Action).

These and other evangelical bright lights signed a statement of strong support for the current Senate bill. They applauded the bill as protecting life “at all stages” and prohibiting federal funding of abortion and ensuring “conscience protections”.

Astoundingly they believe that the current health system is “an unjust healthcare system that for too long has cost too much while delivering too little.” Maybe “unjust” in not covering everyone. But unjust in “delivering too little”. Hadn’t heard that before. How many Americans are fleeing to other countries for medical care because they get too little of it here?

Strange for these leaders to assert too little care when 58% of Americans rate the quality of US health care as good or excellent. An astounding 81% rate their own health care as good or excellent. Hmm. Maybe these evangelical leaders are in the 20% who have had bad luck with their doctors and medical care.

The Gallup Poll indicated that 69% of Americans say their own health care coverage is good or excellent. And 62% are satisfied with their health care costs. So much for paying too much and getting too little. Are these evangelical leaders that out of touch with most Americans?

As to conscience protections, apparently Rep. Stupak's conscience doesn’t count–-nor does his expertise at understanding legislative language. Stupak found lots of problems in the bill that the evangelicals leaders missed.

Rep. Stupak called the Senate version “unacceptable”. He said the Senate version “indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage”.

Too bad the evangelical leaders didn’t bother to consult with Stupak before wading into political waters and moral issues obviously above their pay grade.

UPDATE: In an interview with Greta Van Susteren, Rep. Stupak points out that Senator Nelson's language in the Senate bill "recognizes abortion as a benefit . . . underneath the federal plan", requires at least one plan to provide abortion coverage, and requires every person enrolled in the exchange plan to pay $1 per month for reproductive rights which includes abortion coverage.
No, no. The bill's amendment, besides firewall, does a number of things that's a dramatic break from current policy. The Stupak amendment keeps current policy, which says no federal funding for abortion and no federal funding for insurance policies that have abortion as a benefit.

What the Nelson language does, besides the firewall, it, number one, recognize abortion as a benefit in the federal -- as a benefit underneath the federal plan. Number two, it says that at least one plan -- could be nine out of ten plans, but at least one plan must have abortion coverage. Number three, ever[y] enrollee in the exchange (INAUDIBLE) OPM, the Office of Personnel Management, they call it -- would have to pay $1 per month for reproductive rights, which would include abortion coverage. So the Nelson amendment deviates many ways from current law and from the Stupak amendment.
[emphasis added]
H/T The Weekly Standard

It's the Little Things That Count

Last year Dave Krupa gave his fourth graders the assignment of writing to the winning presidential candidate. When Barack Obama won, Allyson Walz asked if she could write to Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin instead because Allyson was inspired that a woman ran for high office.
“'We watched her on TV and I liked how she was a girl and kind of proved that girls can do whatever they want,' Allyson said.

“'Ally really liked Hillary (Clinton), too,' said Kelly Walz, Allyson’s mom. 'Both women have done a lot for women, being women in power positions.'"
Krupa agreed to let Allyson write to Palin. The rest of the class wrote to President-elect Obama.

On February 2, 2009, Allyson got a letter back from Governor Sarah Palin.

None of the other kids got a response.

And this isn't a fluke. Last Christmas at the Alaska governor's open house, Palin took special time in the three hour greeting line of more than 3,300 people to talk to children.
"'Thanks for coming over. Merry Christmas to you,' Palin said again and again to the stream of people over three hours.

"Palin, wearing a velvet kuspuk, paid especially close attention to children, crouching to greet them at eye level, holding up the line to ask them questions."

Sarah Palin is a class act.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Palin--Still #1 for 4th Week

Going Rogue is still #1 on USA Today's 150 bestseller list. This is the fourth week it has been #1 in sales among all books.

After gaining last week's #1 spot, USA Today indicated that only Colin Powell's 1995 autobiography had also managed that feat.

It looks like Sarah Palin has set the new gold standard in political autobiographies/memoirs.

Congratulations, Governor Palin!

Jobs - Big Losers and Winners by 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has done a study of the 10 industries with the largest projected employment decline by 2018 and those with the biggest employment growth by 2018.

Some interesting big losers are newspapers (-24.8%), government postal workers (-13%), and gasoline stations (-8.9%).

Two interesting big winners are employment services (+19.1%) and local government (+8.4%). Well, local government is not that big a surprise, but the exclusions are--not in education and hospitals. Hospitals is especially intriguing since health care is a big winner overall taking four of the top ten “employment growth” positions.

Industries to avoid:

of Jobs
Lost -- Decline - Industry

-159,000 -10.2% -- Department stores
-146,000 -33.7% -- Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing
-101,000 -18.6% -- Motor vehicle parts manufacturing
-98,000 -13.0% --- Postal service
-95,000 -16.0% --- Printing and related support activities
-89,000 -57.0% --- Cut and sew apparel manufacturing
-81,000 -24.8% --- Newspaper publishers
-76,000 -23.2% --- Support activities for mining
-75,000 -8.9% ---- Gasoline stations
-73,000 ------ ---- Wired telecommunications carriers

Industries with major growth:

of Jobs
Gained - Growth - Industry

835,000 - +82.8% - Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
772,000 - +34.1% - Offices of physicians
656,000 - +45.3% - Computer systems design and related services
607,000 - +40.7% - Other general merchandise stores
600,000 - +19.1% - Employment services
487,000 -- +8.4% - Local government, excluding education and hospitals
441,000 - +46.1% - Home health care services
431,000 - +73.8% - Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities
394,000 - +24.4% - Nursing care facilities
343,000 -- +7.5% - Full-service restaurants

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sarah Palin No. 1 Three Weeks in a Row

Sarah Palin already has a triple and the ball looks to be heading out of the park in a bookselling grand slam homerun.

This is Palin's third week as number one on USA Today's 150 top sellers.

As noted last week, Going Rogue was only the 9th book to have repeated at the #1 spot in 2009. Repeating a third time? USA Today doesn't tell us how often that has happened this year or how often it has happened any year with a nonfiction book.

Oh, and the spoof of Going Rogue that USA Today plugged last week? Didn't even make the list. Not even #150.

UPDATE: USA Today notes that Going Rogue holding the #1 spot on its best-seller list three weeks in a row has only one peer in political memoirs: General Colin Powell's My American Journey: An Autobiography published in 1995.

In the same article USA Today claims that the spoof (Going Rouge) of Palin's autobiography was 12th on the list of Amazon's BIOGRAPHY best sellers. Perhaps it was at the hour USA Today checked on it. But, right now, it's not even in the top 100 in biographies and memoirs. So, if it was at #12, it dropped precipitously less than a day after USA Today's article was published.

CBS and Tomato and Shoe Throwers

"NEW YORK (CBS) Maybe [Joe Nowit] should have practiced with a target before attempting to pelt [President Obama] with tomatoes at a [campaign visit] in Minnesota . . . .”
First we have the shoe thrower, Muntazer al-Zaidi, who spends about nine months of not very nice time in an Iraqi jail for throwing his shoes at President George W. Bush. Interestingly, the tables are turned, and he gets a shoe thrown at him in Paris, but the second thrower is much smarter. The Paris thrower faces no jail time having had the smarts both to throw the shoe in France and at somebody who approves of the tactic.

Then we have Jeremy Paul Olson who hits a police commander in the face with a tomato meant for Sarah Palin. Olson now faces assault charges (on a police officer, no less), disorderly conduct, and was dumb enough to carry an alternate ID which may result in further charges.

Worse yet we have CBS jocularly opining that all might have been well if only Olson has practiced his throw.
“NEW YORK (CBS) Maybe Jeremy Olson should have practiced with a target before attempting to pelt Sarah Palin with tomatoes at a book signing in Minnesota Dec. 7.”
Presumably CBS will be saying the same about the first person who throws a tomato (or a shoe) at President Obama.

Apparently Muntazer didn’t learn anything from his trip to jail. One hopes Jeremy will do better. For CBS, there’s really no hope.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

You Think It's Bad Here - News from the Netherlands

NIS News Bulletin is an English-language Dutch news service. Below is an assortment of headlines and opening lines from some of their recent articles. Some of them are funny and some are sobering. Click on the links to read the full article.

Nov. 21, 2009 - Government Therapists Order Prostitutes for Psychopaths - A clinic where disturbed criminals, most of them murderers, are locked up, hires prostitutes for them. These visit the closed government institution for 105 euros per 'treatment.'

Nov. 26, 2009 - Working Unattractive due to Inactivity Subsidies - It is relatively unattractive in the Netherlands to start working more or to take a job from a position of unemployment. This is specifically due to the disappearance of subsidies and allowances for such groups, concludes the Central Planning Bureau (CPB).

Nov. 27, 2009 - Dutch more Worried about their Culture than Economy - The Dutch are more worried about their culture than about the economy. They are also much more worried about ordinary crime than about terrorism, according to a survey by the National Anti-terrorism Coordinator (NCTB) for the Government Information Service (RVD).

December 2, 2009 - Lower House Backs Jobs for 'Government Journalists' - A majority in the Lower House will support a plan to give newspapers and news magazines 60 'government journalists.' When parliament has formally voted, the measure can start immediately.

December 3, 2009 - PvdA Repeats: Dutch Must Leave Uruzgan [Afghanistan] - The government Labour (PvdA) party repeated yesterday that the Netherlands must get out of Uruzgan after the present mission ends. The new US strategy for Afghanistan announced by President Barack Obama changes nothing regarding this position.

December 8, 2009 - Amsterdam Wants to Legalise Cannabis-Growing - Mayor Cohen van Amsterdam is urging the cabinet to legalise cannabis-growing under state supervision.

Because sales of cannabis via 'coffee shops' are permitted, but the supply of cannabis to the coffee shops is not, it is mostly criminal gangs that supply the shops. Therefore, government-controlled cultivation could take the wind out of the sales of organised crime, Cohen argues in a letter to Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst.

December 9, 2009 - School 'Too Diverse' for Christmas Tree - The Haagsche Hogeschool college will not put up a Christmas tree this year because it does not want to cause provocation to immigrant students. The tree is too closely linked with Christianity, according to the school management.

December 9, 2009 - PvdA Leadership Overruled by Local Muslims - Labour (PvdA) has been made to look a fool by local party members in Amsterdam choosing an unknown Muslim as their leader for the local elections.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Date which Will Live in Infamy

President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

audio here

(December 8, 1941)
To the Congress of the United States:

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Palin Knocks It Out of the Park at the Gridiron Dinner

Greta Van Susteren has posted the following text of Governor Palin's speech at the Gridiron Dinner last night. Thanks, Greta!

Brigadier General Anthony J. Tata has written that Palin has a "wicked sense of humor" (oh, and is ready to lead and be president). Well, this speech shows some of that sense of humor. And we know from her convention speech how good she is at delivering punch lines. So, sit back and enjoy Sarah's humor.

Good evening. It’s great to be in Washington and I am loving the weather.

I braved the elements and went out for a jog! Or, as Newsweek calls it, a cover-shoot.

It’s a privilege to be here tonight at the Washington DC Barnes & Noble.

Tonight, I'll be reading excerpts from my new book.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it?

“Going Rogue”

Yukon wasn’t sure if I’d go with that title and somebody suggested I follow the East Coast selfhelp trend and go with, “How To Look Like A Million Bucks…For Only 150 Grand.”

Todd liked, “The Audacity of North Slope.”

Hey, I considered not having a title at all.

I’ve said it before, but you Beltway types just don’t seem to get it. You don’t need a title to make an impact.

But anyway, let’s get started.

I’ll begin my first reading on Page 209.

It was pitch black when we touched down in Arizona late on August 27, 2008. The next morning we drove to John McCain’s ranch in Sedona. John was waiting on the porch. Before he can say a word, I tell him, I'm quoting now.

I know why I’m here, and I’m ready. But, I'm worried.

The cost of credit protection for the largest U.S. banks is rising precipitously. Have you given any thought to the run on the entities in the parallel banking system? Do you realize the vulnerability created when these institutions borrow short term in liquid markets to invest long term in illiquid assets?

John said, “you betcha!”

I thought, “you betcha?” Who talks that way?

Well, sometimes you just have to trust your instincts. When you don’t, you end up in places like this.

Who would have guessed that I’d be palling around with this group?

At least now I can put a face to all the newspapers I read.

It is good to be here and in front of this audience of leading journalists and intellectuals. Or, as I call it, a death panel.

To be honest, I had some serious reservations about coming to visit your cozy little club. The Gridiron still hasn’t offered membership to anyone from my hometown paper in Wasilla, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley Frontiersman.

And my dad thought it was just a plain bad idea to leave the book tour for some football game.

He might have a point!

I’ve been touring this great, great land of ours over the last few weeks. I have to say, the view is much better from inside the bus, than under it!

But really, I am thrilled to be with you. And I’d like to thank the Gridiron for the invitation and Dick Cooper for his introduction.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, this has to be the most extraordinary collection of people who have gathered to viciously attack me since the last corporate gathering at CBS.

Despite what you have read, or more likely, despite what you have written, I do feel a real bond with all of you. I studied journalism, earned a communications degree and for a time only wanted to be a journalist. I was even a television sportscaster back home.

I’m guessing some of you probably got your start the exact same way… once there was television.

Let me get back to the book.

I know that many of you are still upset because I wouldn’t play that silly Washington game. You know, the one where all of you read a book in its entirety, from the first page of the index to the last.

But think about it, because you actually had to read the whole book in the vein hope of finding your name, you now know all about Denali, mom, dad, ungulate eyeballs, slaying salmon on the Nushagak and Ugashik near Alegnigak, where we make AGOOTAK and moose chili!

You’re welcome.

Still, I want to do something very special for this audience of Washington elite. So, I’ll read from the index--which I chose not to include in the hardback.

Would you believe me if I said I didn’t include it because we wanted to save trees?

Under A we have…

Alaska, media not understanding. Pages 1-432.

Under B…

Biased media. Pages 1-432

And under C…

Conservative media. See acknowledgments.

I’ll stop there.

I know this can be a long night, and as I understand it, we’re going to break with a Gridiron tradition. Normally, the Democrat speaker would deliver a speech after me. But instead, John McCain’s campaign staff asked if they could use that time for a rebuttal.

A lot has been made of a few campaign relationships. The closeness. The warm fuzzy feelings. John and I both agree all those staffers should just move past it. It’s history. Let’s just say, if I ever need a bald campaign manager, it appears all I’m left with is James Carville.

I don’t want to say that I’ve burned a bridge, but I know all about cancelling a bridge to nowhere.

That Democrat speaker I referred to is, of course, the one-and-only Barney Frank.

And I’m the controversial one?

Barney, the nation owes you and the government a debt. A huge, historic, unbelievable debt.

But, it’s good to be here with you, Mr. Chairman.

Because by Chairman, I don’t just mean the House Financial Services Committee. As far as I can tell, Barney’s also the Chair of AIG, CITI, and the Bank of America.

I don’t want to say that the U.S. Government is taking over the role of the private sector, but I have to admit, on the flight here, thumbing through a magazine and looking at a photo of President Obama with the President of China, the person next to me pointed at it and said, “Hu’s a communist.”

I thought they were asking a question.

Still, when I see this administration in action, I can’t help think of what might have been.

I could be the Vice President overseeing the signing of bailout checks. And Joe Biden would be on the road, selling his new book, Going Rogaine.

Speaking of books….

Did I mention mine?

“Going Rogue”

Makes a great stocking stuffer. Available now at a bookstore near you.

Hey, I have to pay for my campaign vetting bill somehow.

Really, the response has been great. So I’ll close by reading a final passage.

Page 403:

I’ve been asked a lot lately, “Where are you going next?’

Good question!

Wherever I go I know that, as with anyone in the public eye, I’ll continue to have my share of disagreements with those in the media. Maybe even more than my share. It will come as no surprise that I don’t think I was always treated fairly, or equally.

But despite that, I respect the media very much. It’s important. A free press allows for vigorous debate! And that debate is absolutely vital for our democracy.

So as hard as it can sometimes be, we must all look past personal grievances. We must move beyond petty politics. And we must allow these incredibly talented and hard-working women and men to ask the hard questions and hold us, and our government, accountable.

Because their mission is as true as the sun rising over the Talkeetna and Susitna Mountains.

Okay – so none of that is actually in the book. Not a word.

But I do believe it!

And I believe we live in a beautiful country blessed with so many different people who want the best for their children, families and for our great nation. I’m so proud to be an American.

And that is what I’ll be talking about when I travel to, really where I’m headed.

No better place than here to announce where I’m going. I’m going to Iowa!

I’ll be there tomorrow from noon to 3:00 pm at the Barnes & Noble on Sergeant Road in Sioux City.

Come early. Long lines are expected.

Thank you everyone. God Bless the U.S.A!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Review of Sarah Palin's Going Rogue

Going Rogue: An American Life
by Sarah Palin
HarperCollins, 413 pp., $28.99 ($14.50 at

Audio Version: abridged, read by the author, 8 hours, 7 CDs, $29.99 ($17.54 at

The first thing that stands out about this political autobiography is how well it flows.

The hardest reading for me was the first six pages which are written in somewhat lyrical prose. I’m more an ideas/action reader (a failing, I admit), and so I had to push my way through that. I knew that Governor Palin had Lynn Vincent helping her on the book. (p. 410) The first six page section was the only part of the book I had questions on as to primary authorship. That is until I heard the audio version of the book read by Palin. The phrasing not only flowed naturally from Palin but picked up speed and interest for me (lyrical, poetry-challenged reader that I am) as she spoke. This book presents Sarah Palin in her own voice.

There are other brief lyrical descriptions in the book (Sarah Palin loves nature), but the rest of the book’s 400 pages are written in the fast-paced, mostly upbeat, humor-sprinkled style of Palin's speeches that drew tens of thousands to hear her during the presidential campaign.

Going Rogue covers major events of Palin’s personal and political life, but isn’t a “Making of the President” fact-filled treatment. It's very personal in tone. Thus, the reader doesn’t just read about Palin’s life, but sees it in selected flashes through her eyes.

Going Rogue is divided into six chapters and an epilogue.

The first chapter covers Palin’s life up until her entry into politics. The reader gets to know Palin’s background, family and husband Todd’s family and Yupik Eskimo heritage.

The second chapter describes Palin's first election to the Wasilla city council, two terms as mayor, campaign for lieutenant governor, chairmanship of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and decision to resign from that position to effectively combat corruption within the commission.

In the third chapter Palin takes the reader through her election as the first woman governor and youngest governor of Alaska. Palin describes major accomplishments of her administration until being tapped as the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Major accomplishments included Palin pushing the state legislature to enact a tough ethics reform bill. She shepherded through a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline bill (AGIA--Alaska Gasline Inducement Act) resulting in the “largest private-sector energy project in North American history”. Palin also crafted a new tax/incentive system (ACES–Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share) increasing Alaska's share of profits from the sale of state oil resources and also encouraging new exploration and development. Finally, Palin’s conservative fiscal philosophy led to pruning the state budget of unnecessary and sometimes pork-ridden appropriations and tripling the state savings account. All this in less than two years as governor.

The third chapter also presents the Palins’ personal challenge in learning that their son Trig would be born with Down syndrome. Palin traces some of her questions, thinking and growing love for Trig and for all special needs children and their families. This would culminate in Sarah Palin’s declaration in her convention speech,
“To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you have sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House.” (p. 241)
The fourth chapter is the one most readers will buy the book for–-Palin’s account of her vice-presidential run. As only the second woman in U. S. history to be nominated as a major party’s VP candidate, Palin has given a historic account of the unique pressures and slings and arrows that women candidates face that men do not. On top of that is the additional layer of bias and hatred directed at Palin and, unconscionably, her family by some of the press as well as political opponents. All of this is treated in a fast-paced manner which tends to underplay its personal impact on Palin.

The chapter has some surprises. Some have contended this is primarily a political payback book, but Palin begins the chapter with some high praise for Campaign Manager Steve Schmidt (p. 212-216)--one of her supposed main payback targets.

A second surprise is the attention Palin paid to the people doing even very small jobs for the campaign. She noticed and appreciated people doing the day-to-day grunt work. As we all know, but too infrequently consciously recognize, day-to-day life runs smoothly or semi-smoothly only because lots of different people do their part. This is a refreshing change from the usual “big player” take on political life.

The fourth chapter also deals with the expected vice-presidential campaign issues: admiration for John McCain, political issues stressed in the campaign, the rock star size crowds Palin drew, the $150,000 campaign clothing expenditure and "going rogue" controversies, and the Katie Couric interview.

As to the Couric interview, Palin details some of the badgering, condescension and selective editing of the interview. The badgering and condescension claims are substantiated in part by some of the snippets CBS itself aired. Even in the highly edited version, Couric does re-ask questions after Palin has answered them. And Couric is caught on camera using the surprisingly unprofessional form of phrasing usually used only by parents with their children: “I’m just going to ask you one more time . . . .” Still, Palin owns up to mistakes in the interview:
“But I should not have let my irritation show. Doing so was disrespectful to viewers who had tuned in to the interview to decide how to cast their votes.” (p. 276)
It was a poor interview performance, but it’s clear both from Going Rogue’s phrasing and recent interviews how much Palin has grown over the last year in her ability to handle tough questions as well as the gotcha questions. Under grueling pressure Palin has matured personally and politically in the space of a year.

Chapter five describes Palin’s return to Alaska and last eight months as governor. It’s not a pretty story. Personal and political attacks continued. Attacks on Palin’s children, especially Bristol and Trig, continued. Frivolous ethics complaints and information requests proliferated. The press treated ridiculous ethics complaints (e. g., wearing a jacket with a logo on it) as serious news. Since Alaska ethics legislation did not provide for state funds and legal counsel to defend the governor against complaints, frivolous or not, the result was a half million dollars of personal legal debt for the Palin family.

The impact on state government was just as bad. The complaints and cascade of information requests tied up thousands of hours of state time and wasted $2 million of state money.
“These relentless time-sinks shook my staff’s confidence and forced us to question our every decision. Instead of concerning ourselves with legislation and problem solving, my staff had to worry, Will we get in trouble if I answer that reporter’s question? Will she get hit with another complaint if we speak out on an issue? I had to wonder, Will I be punished for wearing these clogs, or this label on my jeans today?” (p. 355)
So, Palin says she decided to go against standard political wisdom for her own political future and do what was best for Alaska. She resigned and turned the governorship over to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell.
“How would a lame-duck session benefit Alaskans? How would millions more in FOIAs and ethics complaints and lawsuits benefit Alaskans? I prayed hard because I knew that if I resigned, it might very well end any future political career.

But then I thought, This is what’s wrong with our political system. Too many politicians only consider their next career move. They don’t put the people they are serving first.

In the end, I decided, politically speaking, if I die, I die. I had to do the right thing.” (p. 377)
Palin's faith is key to understanding her ability to grow and even flourish despite crushing political and personal attacks from the press and political opponents.
"I had to stop walking for a second. I rarely stop. I sat down on the grass and prayed, 'God, thank You. Thank You for Your faithfulness . . . always seeing us through . . . I don't know if this chapter is ending or just beginning, but You do, so I hand it all over to You again. Thanks for letting me do that.' Then I thanked our Lord for every single thing we'd been through that year. I believed there was a purpose in it all." (p. 399)
This is apparently why, instead of crushing Palin and her family and sending them to some deep political and personal bunker, unbridled criticism and opposition have resulted in a book selling over a million copies in its first two weeks, a book tour with thousands of fans/supporters eager to meet a smiling, upbeat Palin at every stop, and an almost "stop the presses" attitude when Palin speaks (Hong Kong), writes on political issues (Facebook) or endorses political candidates (NY 23rd District).

The last chapter of Going Rogue presents a short summary of Palin’s conservative, common sense political philosophy. One of the more illuminating sections deals with her agreement with Thomas Sowell’s thesis in Conflict of Visions. In just five paragraphs Palin explains the core of Sowell’s contention that a deep difference of view on the perfectibility of human nature underlies the “unconstrained” political vision of liberals and the “constrained” view held by conservatives. (p. 385-386) This evidences Palin’s ability to communicate complex political and philosophical ideas in clear, concise terms understandable to average, non-political junkie Americans. It has a Reaganesque feel.

Going Rogue offers an intriguing portrait of one of the two most popular political figures of our time. Only Barack Obama has generated as much excitement, and we know where he ended up.

As an aside, I’ve heard one commentator say that Piper is the favored child because she’s mentioned so often in Going Rogue. I guess the same person would think Trig is the second favorite. People who say that seem to have forgotten what family life is like when there are kids of quite different ages. My extended family has kids from 7 to 26. We spend about 90% of our time talking about and taking pictures of the 7 and 9 year olds. It’s not that we love them more. There’s just a lot more to comment on in the lives of little kids who change almost from day to day and are much more likely to provide “cute” or “interesting” moments to share. Additionally, being the center of shared anecdotes and candid photo sessions is accepted a lot better by kids prior to their teenage and young adult years. Privacy concerns weigh as kids get older.

UPDATE: A review in the New York Times by Stanley Fish is the best literary review of Going Rogue I've read. Actually, it's the best review of any book I've read in a very long time. It uses the old gold standard of: structure, style and content. And it's extremely insightful to boot.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Oregonian Fails to Explore Why Oregon Fails on College Debt

Oregon college students graduate with significantly more debt than Washington and California students. This pattern has not changed since 2006. Why does Oregon do significantly worse than its two neighbors?

The percentage of Oregon students who graduate with debt is also higher in Oregon. In 2008 61% of college graduates had debt compared with 58% in Washington and 48% in California. Why are Oregon and Washington percentages so much higher than California's?

The Oregonian has a story noting Oregon's student debt problem but neglects to compare the data with California and Washington. So, the Oregonian never really explores the "why" of Oregon's high student debt rate.

The Oregonian also ignores the 800-pound gorilla in the room--soaring college costs. The same organization that puts out the debt report the Oregonian relies on links to Measuring Up 2008: The National Report Card on Higher Education which includes the following chart.

Hmm. There has been a whopping 439% increase in college tuition and fees since the early 1980's. This raise far outstrips every other major family need. In fact college tuition/fees costs have risen 75% more than even health care costs (a meager 251% increase in comparison).

Why are higher education tuition and fees rates through the roof? How can these costs be brought down? No help here from the Oregonian.

The Oregonian's only acknowledgment of this tuition/fee cost problem comes in a five word phrase with no specific content:
"Oregon doubled the funding for state grants for college students in 2008-09 with the intent of lowering the student debt load for graduates. Since then, state funding has fallen and record numbers of students have applied for aid, causing the state to turn down some eligible students and reduce grants to others.

"At the same time, tuition has gone up significantly. Many campuses have increased financial aid to ease the impact on low-income students."
[emphasis added]
The Oregonian has become a news aggregator. It doesn't pursue stories deeper than the reports it links to and doesn't even do a particularly good job of thinking about the meaning of the data in those reports.

Sarah Palin No. 1 Two Weeks in a Row

USA Today reports that Sarah Palin's Going Rogue: An American Life is number 1 again. It's only the 9th book this year to repeat at that spot.

Palin has sold a million copies of her autobiography in two weeks. The only political autobiography to beat it was Bill Clinton's My Life which sold a million copies in eight days.

USA Today gives a boost to a spoof of Going Rogue coming out this week. Even with USA Today's free publicity, I bet the spoof doesn't make USA Today's top 150 list. But, then USA Today is having its own problems with a circulation drop of 393,000 (-17.15%) in the last year.

Amazon has audio versions available of Going Rogue. There's an Audible download for $15.74 and a CD package for $17.54.

Sarah Palin is the reader. She does a very good job. When I read the first six pages in the hard copy, I thought they were slow moving. But, they pick up both speed and interest when she reads them.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

47,000 Newspaper Jobs Lost in Last Two Years

Former Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger estimates newspaper job losses at 47,000 in the last two years. This includes buyouts as well as layoffs.

Steiger, currently editor-in-chief of ProPublica, says the areas hardest hit are investigative and foreign reporting because they are "among the most expensive types of coverage."

The financial problem, according to Steiger, flows from newspapers being "ignored" by most Americans--especially those under age 40. Even those who like the newspaper product ("college graduates over the age of 40") don't think it necessary.

Newspapers are not the only media source suffering.
"Moreover, while the details are different, much is similar at network television news and at the serious magazines."
Steiger thinks good journalism is the key and needs to adjust to the "Internet revolution". The mode (e.g., newspaper) is not important.
"So the answer is not to reverse the [Internet] revolution. You couldn’t if you tried.

"Nor is it to save newspapers. As major studies by the Knight Commission on Information Needs of Communities and Columbia University have wisely concluded, the goal should be to extend the benefits of the revolution more broadly and to assure the continuation of journalism."
What Steiger doesn't address is the success of investigative and foreign reporting avenues such as cable television news, radio and books. Why have these managed to hold their own or grow despite the Internet revolution?

More and more people have come to believe that traditional press outlets are biased and care little about accuracy. Those outlets are rightly deemed worthless and ignored.

Investigative reporting and foreign reporting are valuable. There is a willingness to pay for them as can be seen by cable television news audience increases and book sales increases.

Though the need to adapt to new forms does bring problems, it's not the main problem. Lack of confidence in the content is the real problem for newspapers, network television news and "serious" magazines.

H/T Editor & Publisher