Sunday, August 31, 2008

Require Women to be Paid As Much As Men?

John McCain opposed a law legislating equal pay for women as their male counterparts. Ditto Sarah Palin. What is with American conservatism? Is this an instance of GOP bigotry liberals love to complain about.

Women get paid less than men for a variety of reasons, and discrimination is an important, although not only, factor. Studies have routinely showed that women who demand raises, for example, are perceived in a less favorable light than male counterparts. And no unbiased observer can deny the existence of old-boy networks.

The challenge with legislating equal pay for equal work comes down to what constitutes equal work. The whole idea comes from a manufacturing age, when equal work simply could be construed to be equal number of hours, and job functions. However, the age we live in does not lend itself to such analysis.

As an environmental consultant, I make a lot more than some of my peers. And a lot less than some others. Is it because I'm brown? A foreigner? Good looking? Ugly? Or just plain because I'm smarter/dumber or more/less hard-working than my peers? How is a law going to distinguish discrimination from true performance-based pay?

The Palin Alternative

For someone as opinionated as me, I've had a hard time figuring out where I come out on presidential contender John McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for the second spot. It's one of those improbable hail mary's that you can never judge when the ball's in the air. Nevertheless, if only for my friend S., I will try ...

My first instincts were that this was a weak choice. Yes, Palin's a woman, and in a change election, an outsider helps. I believe it was Newt Gingrich who pointed out that McCain picking an old white guy might be suicide at a time people wanted to be exploring the possibilities of racial and gender transformations. But her resume is thin, with just 20 months as governor, and a mayor of a small town before that.

The case against Palin has been fairly well laid out in the MSM. It takes out the experience argument, even more important because that was McCain's selling point, and a 72-year old man with questionable health. It's unlikely substantial number of Hillary Democrats will defect, given Palin's opposition to reproductive rights, and especially after a fairly rousing call for unity by Hill and Bill at the convention.

Just don't be too quick to write Palin off. First, I think the "woman" angle has been oversold, and another important aspect largely ignored. She's blue-collar as they come. While McCain's alternatives are right white men, Palin comes from a much more modest background than even Obama. Todd and Sarah Palin had to elope because they couldn't afford a marriage. Todd was a commercial fisherman, and works on an oil rig. Member of United Steelworkers. (Who'd have thought the GOP would have a leader with union roots!) She worked on the PTA, slogged those nasty city council meetings.

She's a proven reformer. She took on corruption in the oil and gas business. Knocked out powerful Republicans who misused the public trust. In a party tainted by scandal, that's a powerful image for a leader. And she's passionate about wasteful spending. She killed the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" and auctioned the governor's plane on eBay!

She's invigorated conservatives. In the day her nomination was announced, the McCain campaign received six times it's previous daily fundraising record! And it allows McCain to be truely maverick without having to look over his shoulder.

The talk of her lack of experience is valid. But she does have more executive experience than McCain, Obama and Biden combined. The reality is senators do not have to make particularly tough individual decisions, and sail under the radar by largely agreeing with the party line. Palin, by taking on the Republican establishment, could be the real change candidate.

Of course, like everything else, the challenge is selling this line. This is why Mitt Romney is not the VP candidate. In an economy that will stink for a while, Romney knows more about the complex world of global finance than the three contestant senators. But selling a rich white Mormon with a genuine insincerity might have been more than the McCain ad gurus could manage.

So Palin could be an interesting choice. She certainly could fail spectacularly, but I think McCain made the right choice. The reality is that with more Dems than Republicans, a conventional candidate would have sounded the deathknell for McCain. The challenge now is marketing Palin as an evangelical to the social right, but at the same time, as a reform-minded bureaucrat to the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC: Day Two Speeches

I need to go to bed, so this will be short ...

Good speech by Hillary - just what the base was looking for. Paint the distinction between the parties' philosophy, attack Bush-McCain, talk about the favorite Democratic talking points. Oh, and while you're at it, get maximal publicity for yourself - anyone notice how she walked around the podium after she finished for maximal exposure. Best line: "Did you do it just for me, or for that woman who has cancer, ..."

I thought the best speech of the night was Mark Warner. He reminds me why I would have supported the Democrats if he ran for President. He's a centrist, and rather than focus on the liberal bashing of American corporations, he focuses on building creating the right environment for new businesses. Best line: None I can think of now, but his story about Lebanon, VA was fantastic!

Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas was bland! Thank heavens for the Dems she wasn't pick as the Veep candidate. She had a few good punch lines, but her delivery was flat, and she didn't seem particularly passionate (I must confess I heard her on the radio, which in some ways in a great way to judge speakers). Best line: "McCain is for some renewable enery - renewing Bush's failed energy policies"

Bob Casey, Jr did well as did the Montana Governor. A former secretary of energy, Frederico Pena was good in presenting Denver as a model of green energy for the country. But there's still too much time between the good speeches, and it's been a challenge to try to keep watching ... like the Oscars without the awards or the celebrities!!

Pelosi Alert!

The WSJ quotes Madame Speaker on natural gas:
I believe in natural gas as a clean, cheap alternative to fossil fuels... [Natural gas] is cheap, abundant and clean compared to fossil fuels.

Can someone tell Ms. Pelosi that nat gas is a fossil fuel?

DNC: Green Hotel Plan Flops!

The New York Sun reports:
The Democrats have embarked on a highly visible effort to make their convention the "greenest" ever, focusing on everything from expanded recycling to more creative programs like encouraging Denver restaurants to offer "lean 'n' green" meals made with healthful, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. But not all of their environmentally friendly initiatives have gone as planned. Take the hotel card keys, for example. Instead of the traditional plastic cards, the Sheraton in downtown handed guests Visa-sponsored swipe cards "made from sustainably-harvested wood." The plan lasted all of a few hours. By Saturday night, enough guests had reported problems getting into their rooms with the wooden cards that the front desk clerks had abandoned them and switched back to the plastic cards. A clerk said they were now handing out one of each and suggested that the wooden one could kept as a souvenir.

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC: Carville's Take

On CNN, James Carville looks just as frustrated as me ...
If this party has a message, I sure haven't heard it.

Yawn! Yawn! I'm no Democrat, but I am always engaged by good political discourse ... but this is a real snoozefest!!

DNC: Teddy Kennedy

It was quite something to see a 76-year old veteran pol recovering from cancer come up and give a speech with as much vigor as he did. Although it's more hope, hope ... at this rate, I'm not going to be able to survive the next few days of TV watching!

Meanwhile, Drudge reports that NYT will cite sources that the Kennedy tribute was to take the focus off the Clintons. Interesting!

DNC: Yawn So Far

So far I haven't been impressed with the convention. From what I've seen, there's been a ridiculous amount of dead time, and not that much in between to get you fired up. Jesse Jackson, Jr seems to be wanting to ape Obama, coming out with one of those speeches where you want to grab him and say, what the heck do you want to do on any of the issues!! David Gergen correctly pointed about that the first 2 hours have been breathtakingly short on specifics!

I'm a little shocked by the nonsensical hero worship, including Caroline Kennedy talking about Ted Kennedy being inspired by Obama! Ted Kennedy is a liberal icon who has achieved so much in life, and the notion that he would be inspired by an amateur like Barack is ... well, ludicrous!

Back to Blogging!

After a long hiatus, and for the first time since my move, I'm back to blogging. Been meaning to do this for a while, and what better time than during the Democratic National Convention!! I'll be blogging live through what I watch of the conventions, although I don't know that I'll spend all my evenings watching the bland infomercials both parties put on.