Flashes of lightning lit the sky as I was driving home from the beach last evening in light sprinkles that shortly turned into big rain, the kind that really nourishes the soil. About midnight, the lightning was joined by rolling, clapping thunder, and when it finally departed, and Koko stopped her anxious panting, we went outside and the bright moon was high.
It was still up, hanging over the mountains, caressed by white and gray and black clouds alike as they raced north, when Koko and I went walking this morning, keeping a close eye on a canopy of floating black that promised to bring rain, but never did deliver.
Sarah Palin, with the fortunate assist of a collaborator, delivered a 432-page memoir, entitled “Going Rogue: An American Life,” just four months after ditching the tiresome duties of the Alaska governorship. The book, with a first printing of 1.5 million, quickly moved to the number one spot on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. According to the Associated Press:
Palin herself has said that "Going Rogue" will give her a chance to express herself "unfiltered," a bold brand for a public figure who has likened herself to a pit bull with lipstick and once alleged that Obama was "palling around with terrorists." Palin's collaborator, Lynn Vincent, has her own history of attacking the left. She is the co-author of "Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party."
Hmmm. Seems like that last title is just crying out for a GOP sequel, perhaps titled “Hiking in Appalachia: A Philanderer's Life.”
There’s nothing like a book tour to get Palin out before the public on her terms as she begins positioning herself for not just the number two spot on the GOP ticket, but the presidency itself in 2012, with supporters touting her “traditional American values.”
Meanwhile, our current American values — serious clampdown on in-the-street dissent — were expressed when two men were arrested for — gasp — the heinous crime of using Twitter during the recent G20 protests in Pittsburgh. Here’s where we’re at in America now folks, according to a report in the UK Telegraph:
Elliot Madison, 41, and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, both from New York, face charges of hindering prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing criminal instruments.
Police say they found the two men sitting in front of computers, wearing headphones and using maps and scanners. They are said to have been using Twitter to inform protesters on the ground of police movements.
To paraphrase song lyrics by Primal Scream: “One man’s Tweeter is another’s terrorist.”
As gothamist observed:
And yet real Twitter threats like Lindsay Lohan and Courtney Love remain at large.
On a more serious note, the casualties keep mounting in Afghanistan, where 100,000 international troops from 42 nations are already stationed and Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants 30,000 to 40,000 more.
According to his confidential report to Defense Secretary Gates, the general also wants to “gain the support of the people,” and notes we’re not doing that right now:
Pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect. In addition, we run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us military; but we can defeat ourselves.
As the Washington Post reported, McChrystal is advocating for “a comprehensive nation-building endeavor,” replete with reforming local government and the justice system, ramping up the reconstruction effort and eliminating corruption.
Gee, that sounds great. Do you suppose it would be possible to do that in the U.S., too?
And how much deeper into the hole will the U.S. slide while we're busy shoring up Afghanistan?
Moving closer to home, we’re starting to get a picture, bit by bit, of how the paring down of the state’s work force will affect our lives, the economy and the environment. We’ve got parents scrambling to find cheap babysitters while the teachers are furloughed for 17 days. We’ve got Gov. Lingle robbing Peter to pay Paul as she guts state invasive species control work to restore some funding for ag inspectors, the loss of which could threaten farming and the economy. And most recently, we learn the state’s Clean Water Branch will be losing four of its 10 staff members under the layoff plan. This could affect both environmental and human health.
As Sen. Gary Hooser noted in response to the ag inspector layoffs:
“Yet what the governor is proposing will have a direct and devastating impact on local farmers and businesses, and will cost our state millions of dollars in the long run.”
And as Keren Gundersen observed in respect to cutting invasive species control funding:
What we protect today we will have tomorrow,” she said.
So is anybody really looking at what the short- and long-term costs of some of these proposed budget cuts will be? Could it be that when viewed in their totality, they aren’t a savings at all, but actually a new cost that is being incurred, with payment deferred, but still due at some point down the line?
In short, are we just digging ourselves into a deeper hole?