Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey, it's Friday, and we're on the cusp of a three day weekend! There was a guy in our local paper who pointed out that Labor Day was originally founded as a response to pressure by the labor unions (specifically, the Central Labor Union of New York City in 1882). There have been several blog posts on our paper's web site recently about how awful labor unions are, so this guy was advocating the idea that all of these anti-union people should demonstrate the strength of their viewpoint by just going to work on Monday, in spite of the holiday (I guess sending their children to work, giving up their insurance, and working 80+ hours a week without a pay raise would also show solidarity with the anti-union view).
Ooookay- in reality I understand that unions have suffered problems in terms of corruption and malfeasance, but I still think that they have a role to play in protecting the rights of workers and making sure that they are treated fairly. I'm not really into the idea of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and I don't believe that this is a case of a few bad apples spoiling the whole bunch. In fact, I really don't understand why so many people seem against unions these days, in an era of skyrocketing CEO salaries, international job outsourcing, benefit and salary reduction, etc.. I know there have been cases of union leadership getting out of control, but unions have also helped to secure a standard of living for middle class Americans in this country that probably would have never occurred without them. (I know you guys don't need to hear me spin yarns again of how my grandfather's union helped to pass lifesaving safety regulations in the iron ore mines and fought to get the miners decent wages and benefits...)
Anyway, all of this to say- enjoy your Labor Day! Labor Day is a celebration of American workers, and they're at the core of one of the most powerful economies in the world (even when we're in a slowdown, we're still an extraordinarily powerful force).

In other news, I watched Barack Obama's speech last night at the convention (transcript here), and I was pretty impressed. I thought he did a good job of better defining himself as a person, giving some concrete examples of plans that he wishes to implement, and pointing out many of the areas where things have wrong over the last eight years and where America needs rebuilding. Mostly, though, I was just impressed by Obama's ability to communicate directly, simply, and intelligently with his audience. He's clearly an articulate man of tremendous acumen, who's able to speak about issues in a clear language that just about everyone can understand.

While I have to admit that I've persistently had some reservations about Obama's level of experience, another part of me responds to the fact that he appears to be incredibly smart, level headed, and seems to have the poise and personality to make an incredibly effective leader. Maybe we don't want someone in office who has simply been worn down into conformity by 20 years inside the beltway. Maybe we want someone who has all of the raw tools (smarts, wisdom, personal presence, etc.) to carry out the job of president, but someone who's fresh and new enough to approach the job in a bit of a different way.

At any rate, I think Obama gave an excellent speech that most commentators would have to admit was impressive, even if they didn't agree with all of the content.

Huh. John McCain just picked his running mate, and it's Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. That's really interesting. I don't know too much about her. I doubt that McCain picked her because she's a woman, but it's interesting that he picked a woman in the wake of Obama's decision not to include Hillary Clinton as a VP candidate on his ticket. Certainly makes the McCain ticket more interesting, anyway (although, frankly, there are some conservative women out there who make Karl Rove and George W. look like peace-loving hippies- Anne Coulter, I'm looking in your direction). I'm going to have to learn more about Palin...


Anonymous said...

For Labor Day at the Palka house, I dress up like Eugene V. Debs (a.k.a "Santa Gene"), and hand out "Solidarity Cards" to the neighborhood tots.

My wife celebrates Labor Day by delivering babies.

Thank you. You've been a great crowd.

The League said...

If I know one thing about Sarah Palin:

She is carbon-based and over the age of 35.

Anonymous said...

I represent a bunch of union workers in Freeport, Texas. Good men they are, the lot of 'em.

Sarah Palin = Governor MILF


The League said...

Are we allowed to go down that road? I wasn't sure who was going to break the seal on that one...

Meredith said...

She's beautiful, a mother of FIVE, has a son in Iraq and is a Governor..I could go on, but won't because I am probably the lone Republican voice commenting on your Blog, Steanso. But I love this pick. Wrote today about it on my own blog. She rocks. Watch out, Obama camp....

The League said...

Mere, I think the big thing for me is I just don't know her yet. I had never heard her name before this morning.

For good or ill, I already knew of Biden (not my favorite VP pick ever, just FYI). Should McCain be unable to fulfill his duties (hey, stuff happens), all of us are going to be doing some reading to know who this person would be who would be next in line to lead the free world.

If McCain stays healthy, I am sure she could break Senate ties and sort-of-administer NASA with the best of them.

J.S. said...

Well, she's ratted out a bunch of her fellow Republicans for ethics violations, so I have to like that. On the down side, she apparently supports drilling in the ANWAR and thinks we ought to kill more polar bears (she has voiced opinions about wanting to take them off the endagered species list).
On the whole, I think her record is fairly short, so it's difficult to know what to think of her. I think McCain mostly went for a pick that didn't have a super long political record that could be scrutinized. He certainly didn't pick her in order to lock up votes in a key swing state.
Still, good for the Republicans for putting a woman on their ticket. Also, congrats for putting a former runner up for Miss Alaska on the ticket. Oh yes, Ryan, the Governor MILF barrier has been broken. (I know I'm going to catch flack for this, but hey- the Republicans were the ones who sought out a former beauty queen to put on the ticket! Sure, Hillary had a Law Degree from Yale and tons of public policy experience, but this lady is a former sportscaster who hunts moose!)

Anonymous said...

That would be GILF, LLT.

And at that I give you:

No, I'm not joking. It's a real site up and running.

Let the Tina Fey comparisons begin.

And Mrs. Steans, be sure to make your sons explain the acronym to you.


The League said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The League said...

Apparently Palin's husband is also a man's man of sorts who has won some cross-country wilderness race 4 times. And he once fought a Wendigo to a standstill.*

I'm not sure what it says about politics that you have to risk accusations of inexperience in order for the vetting process to declare you clean enough to run. But it ain't good.

I would just throw this out there:
I'm not sure the GOP can attack Obama's experience level any more if this is the person they want to put up as being one heart beat away from the presidency. The ages and experience levels hit a certain spot on the Experience Venn Diagram. Curious to see how this plays out.

I watched her speech today, and she wasn't bad. It was light on specifics, as it should have been, but for someone suddenly thrust into her position, my hat is off.

Also, I admit I pulled that YouTube URL from the site. It's Craig Ferguson of The Late, Late Show talking about Governor Palin.

*I may have made that last part up

J.S. said...

Yeah, I would say that the Republicans have just opened themselves up to a very viable avenue of criticism in an area that was previously one of their best avenues of attack- inexperience. With someone of McCain's age running for president, we actually need a VP who is ready to step into the presidential role at a moment's notice to lead the country. This lady has less than two years in office at her governor role, and her experience and education seem pretty weak.
On the whole, I think that this pick was extremely reactionary (responding to Obama's change message and the popularity of Hillary as a female candidate). I think McCain would have been much smarter to just stick to his guns by picking someone who was more of a known quantity- a Romney or Giuliani or someone else who's been more tested. When you put McCain and Palin side by side with Obama and Biden, in my mind McCain and Palin just don't seem as impressive.

Meredith said...

Well I think the whole "Damned if you do, Damned if you don't" thing comes into play here. If McCain chose Giuliani or Romney then he's picking yet another rich, white guy to help run the country. If he picks a woman, he's being reactionary. Not sure he could have won with ANY pick he made. I am not sure many liberals would have praised McCain's pick, no matter who the candidate. I think she is a great choice.....time will see how she proves herself, though, in debates and such. No matter your political stance, suffice it to say this race is a VERY interesting one and will make history no matter who wins in November.

Anonymous said...

The real irony with the Palin pick is this: for months now, the McCain campaign has been bashing Obama for his "dangerous" lack of experience. With the nomination of Palin, their previous efforts are now exposed: they didn't mean a word of their "experience" criticism against Obama. Remember--this was the fundamental premise of McCain's critique of Obama. And now we can see that it was altogether fabricated. Just noise designed to tarnish him. Not the most honest approach one could envision.

And we've now learned that McCain met Palin exactly twice before selecting her as his running mate...and that his true preference was Joe Lieberman, but the conservatives in the GOP wouldn't give him the green light because of Lieberman's pro-choice views. That doesn't sound like a maverick in action to me. That sounds like a man who tried to be a maverick, was rebuffed, and as a second effort, picked, or perhaps more precisely, guessed at someone neither he nor the country knows. McCain is a good man who honorably served his country in uniform. It wasn't so long ago that his presidential campaign was in such shambles that he was flying coach and carrying his own bags. He deserves heaps of credit for his tenacity and distinguished service. But enough of this maverick crap. He's made a calculated decision forced by his prior inability to convince conservatives in his own party to trust him. And for what? So he can laud his prospective vice president's socially conservative views when his views, however obfuscated, are what the story should be? Again, it's a question of political honesty. Does the man mean what he says or not?


J.S. said...

And I think this pick is, unfortunately, another example of the Republicans just not getting it. They obviously wanted to capitalize on the excitement of a female candidate, and they probably hoped to pick up some voters who formerly supported H. Clinton, but they treated the female candidate issue as though all female candidates are interchangeable and fungible. Hillary Clinton's education and experience put her light years beyond the qualifications that Palin holds, and the ideological differences between the two women make crossover votes from alineated Clinton supporters unlikely.

I think Meredith is correct to some extent in her "damned if you do, damned if you don't" analysis, but I think the GOP would have done better to put a more well known conservative commodity on the ticket that the GOP base could rally around. I think that once the rest of America saw the confidence that was building with a strong, experienced ticket, they might have drawn more support from people who were unsure about Obama. Instead, I think McCain has added a new level of uncertainty (and inexpreience) to his ticket, and I don't think that's a smart direction for him right now. He'll still put up a good fight, but with this pick he's just not playing to his strengths.