90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Sarah Palin
Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov., Sarah Palin, shakes hands with supporters at the conclusion of a campaign unity rally in O'Fallon, Mo., Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shakes hands with supporters at the conclusion of a campaign unity rally in O'Fallon, Mo., Sunday, Aug. 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Live from St. Paul, Minnesota, and Day Three of the Republican National Convention.

Who would’ve thunk it. John McCain’s big week has been nearly overwhelmed by a 44-year-old mother of five, moose-guttin’ governor of Alaska.

Alaska Magazine calls Sarah Palin “America’s Hottest Governor.” John McCain calls her ready to be a heartbeat from the presidency.

Here in St. Paul this week she’s been called Evita, Joan of Arc, heroic reformer, inspired choice, reckless choice, insult to the electorate, and salvation of the GOP ticket. Tonight she speaks.

This hour, On Point: John McCain’s high stakes gamble — Governor Sarah Palin.

You can join the conversation. What do you make of the Alaska governor? Her politics, her record, her family values, her readiness to step in if John McCain checks out? Is this your choice to break the glass ceiling?

Guests:

Peter Wallsten, reporter for the Los Angeles Times covering the conventions. He’s been raising tough questions about how Governor Palin was vetted by the McCain team.

Sen. Lyda Green, Alaska State Senate President. A Republican from Sarah Palin’s hometown district, she and the governor have not seen eye-to-eye on many issues.

Kellyanne Conway, Republican pollster and co-author of “What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live.”

Ruth Marcus, columnist for The Washington Post. You can read her recent columns here, including Sunday’s, “A Heartbeat Away From Cynicism,” in which she argues that McCain’s pick of Palin undermines his maverick credentials.

Beverly Gage, professor of 20th-century political history at Yale University.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Joe B.

    The Palin choice makes absolutely no sense to me. If McCain wanted a conservative female vice president, why couldn’t he have chosen Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Elizabeth Dole who have far more experience? The Palin choice was an act of desperation on McCain’s part.

  • Paul H.

    From the Saturday editorial in the Daily News-Miner in Fairbanks:

    “Sen. John McCain’s selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate was a stunning decision that should make Alaskans proud, even while we wonder about the actual merits of the choice…. Alaskans and Americans must ask, though, whether she should become vice president and, more importantly, be placed first in line to become president.

    In fact, as the governor herself acknowledged in her acceptance speech, she never set out to be involved in public affairs. She has never publicly demonstrated the kind of interest, much less expertise, in federal issues and foreign affairs that should mark a candidate for the second-highest office in the land. Republicans rightfully have criticized the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, for his lack of experience, but Palin is a neophyte in comparison; how will Republicans reconcile the criticism of Obama with the obligatory cheering for Palin?

    Most people would acknowledge that, regardless of her charm and good intentions, Palin is not ready for the top job. McCain seems to have put his political interests ahead of the nation’s when he created the possibility that she might fill it.”

    And from the editorial in the Anchorage Daily News:

    “It’s stunning that someone with so little national and international experience might be heartbeat away from the presidency.

    Gov. Palin is a classic Alaska story. She is an example of the opportunity our state offers to those with talent, initiative and determination…

    “McCain picked Palin despite a recent blemish on her ethically pure resume. While she was governor, members of her family and staff tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired from the Alaska State Troopers. Her public safety commissioner would not do so; she forced him out, supposedly for other reasons. While she runs for vice-president, the Legislature has an investigator on the case.

    For all those advantages, Palin joins the ticket with one huge weakness: She’s a total beginner on national and international issues.

    Gov. Palin will have to spend the next two months convincing Americans that she’s ready to be a heartbeat away from the presidency…. “

  • J Anna OCallaghan

    The comment about pro-choice families aborting any teenage daughter’s pregnancy was infuriating to me. I am strongly pro-choice, but if my teenage daughter became pregnant, I would support her in any decision she made, including helping her to raise the baby, if that is what she chose. I would be happy to have a grandchild! That is the point of pro-CHOICE….you make a choice, not that you necessarily choose abortion.

  • Javin Leonard

    For the current guest to assume that just being a democrate would mean a fetus would be aborted is a horribly distorted judgement and only seems to have been made to be divisive.

  • Frances

    Mark Warner dropped out of the presidential race siting that raising teenagers came first. Palin is very simple minded to think that raising this downs syndrome baby is going to mesh with a life in Washington. Family aside, Palin is barely able to be Governor of Alaska let alone Vice President.

  • Jeff

    The explosive support for Palin – among American republicans – has nothing to do with her experience, or lack thereof.

    She is the kind of person that these voters would like to have coffee and donuts with in their church.

    Kind of like how GW Bush’s base of support – the first time around – voted for him because they said he’s the kind of guy they wanted to sit down with and have a beer. His experience was irrelevant.

    But we all saw how that turned out, in terms of using that criteria to elect a president.

  • Michael B

    Did this air already? The comments by J Anna and Javin sound like this has already been aired.

  • joseph truelove

    this is a slight deviation but follows the thread a-bit.i have always wondered why the christian right have seemingly always been pro-life but have also been in support of the death penalty,which seems to be hypocritical,in the biblical context. to be fair though why are the liberal left generally pro-choice but against the death penalty?

  • Maja Rater

    Pro-life? Well from conception to birth and then to Hell with the children.!!

    The Republican party would not quit before they removed the entitlement in the Social Security Act to children abandoned by parents (Welfare reform). They constantly brag about it.

    They cut the funding for the child support enforcement program at the state level making sure that parents are not forced to support their children as the law demands.
    Over $110 billion dollars are owed to children by parents in court ordered child support. And my bet is that they won’t quit before the Survivor Benefits are removed as well from the Social Security Act which protects children when parents die (privatization of Social Security). The so-called pro-lifers are as phony as they come–except for Rep Henry Hyde who worked very hard to federalize child support enforcement to no avail as his republican colleagues would have nothing of it.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    The Palin choice makes absolutely no sense to me.

    What are you talking about? It makes perfect sense! Palin is a personable, attractive, woman whose selection stole the thunder from the Democrats (post-DNC-convention polls showed Obama getting the smallest post-convention “bounce” in recent history). By selecting Palin McCain cements his hitherto wavering right-wing, attracts buzz, creates excitement, banishes his stodgy image, and may possibly attract disgruntled Hillary supporters!

    The fact that she’s unlikely to be a good President in the event that the elderly McCain needs someone to fill his shoes is really irrelevant, since the first order of business for McCain is to get elected, otherwise her credentials don’t matter. From a political perspective her selection was brilliant.

  • Frederic C.

    BIG MISTAKE OR BAIT AND SWITCH?

  • Mark

    Check out the Anchorage Daily News’ look at Governor Palin’s record:

    http://www.adn.com/opinion/story/514086.html

  • jeff

    Gallop has Obama ahead of McCain 49% (Obama) to 43% (McCain)

    If the election was held today he would win.
    Of course we have 2 more months to go…

    Peter is right that this is a brilliant choice for the base and all the distraction it is bringing to the political arena.

    However McCain lost his chance now to use the experience argument against Obama.

    The other thing that is brilliant is that the Democrats can’t use it on her because it gives the Republicans the fuel to ignite the issue again.

  • Wm von Brethorst

    About Mr. McCain, he is too old, out of touch with people (except “his base”) and will lead us down a path to brown shirted police forcing people out of their homes and into the church of “their” choice so that we all can support the real elitists, the overly wealthy, radical evangelistic right. Just take a good look at the faces in the RNC hall…I have never seen so many white faces anywhere except maybe a hitler youth rally! Where is the diversity of this country represented? where is the value of dissent when the police at the RNC attack and lock up your NPR/PBS journalists? I thought only China did this. People wake up-we are about to be sold to the masters for a few pennies. Remember, these people (republicans) have the military behind them, and those who would hive up freedoms for safety (or security) deserve neither (Benjamin Franklin)

  • Jeff Roberts

    I am a Christian from the state of New York (at least it’s not as bad as in New York City), and I am troubled. I love John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin: she’s exactly the kind of leader this society needs. But I’m hearing over and over that McCain’s first choice, the choice he had his heart set on, was Joe Lieberman. If this is true, how can I, in my heart of hearts, trust that John McCain will truly listen to her, take her counsel, and not just send her off to attend funerals once the election is over? If in his heart he wanted Joe Lieberman, how can I know what else is really in his heart, and how can I trust him?

    J. Roberts

  • Frederic C.

    I REPEAT

    CAMPAIGN AUTO-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE INITIATED.

    PLEASE EVACUATE CAMPAIGN IMMEDIATELY.

    WALK DON’T RUN TO THE NEAREST SECESSIONIST LEANING STATE (TEXAS)

    CORE PHILOSOPHY MELTDOWN IMMINENT!

    CORE PHILOSOPHY MELTDOWN IMMINENT!

    CORE PHILOSOPHY MELTDOWN IMMINENT!

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    About Mr. McCain, he is too old, out of touch with people (except “his base”) and will lead us down a path to brown shirted police forcing people out of their homes and into the church of “their” choice so that we all can support the real elitists, the overly wealthy, radical evangelistic right. Just take a good look at the faces in the RNC hall…I have never seen so many white faces anywhere except maybe a hitler youth rally!

    This is hyperbolic. Take a breath, get a grip.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    I am a Christian from the state of New York (at least it’s not as bad as in New York City), and I am troubled. I love John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin: she’s exactly the kind of leader this society needs. But I’m hearing over and over that McCain’s first choice, the choice he had his heart set on, was Joe Lieberman. If this is true, how can I, in my heart of hearts, trust that John McCain will truly listen to her, take her counsel, and not just send her off to attend funerals once the election is over? If in his heart he wanted Joe Lieberman, how can I know what else is really in his heart, and how can I trust him?

    1. Don’t cross-post.

    2. Who cares if he sends her off to state funerals? He’ll have a cabinet to get advice from. (Maybe Joe L will be in it) Ms Palin’s job is to become President if something happens to McCain. And that’s scary enough for me.

  • Gloria E

    The Republican pollster said she treated Chelsea Clinton like a Fabrage(sp?) egg…what about McCain’s joke about the Clinton daughter.

    Plus, I hear more about Palen’s daughter in the righteous indignation from the McCain campaign more than the press in the last 24 hours.

    There is so much more…

  • David Essing

    I wish Mr. Ashbrook had brought the same level of scrutiny to Mr. Obama as he is currently bringing to Ms. Palin. It’s a real shame and very sad.

  • matt

    McCain campaign initiated the media-information release about the teenage pregnancy. Then they complained it has been a focus of coverage.

    conservatives want to talk about issues. So is McCain’s story from ancient years ago an issue or just a story like the teenage daughter? Was Kerry’s swift boat crap a story or an issue – What about the Dean scream? We all know politics is about stories and emotions and rarely about issues, and this has previously been exploited to the N’th degree by conservatives in the past elections.

    what comes around goes around! ride the merry-go-round, reap what you sow!

  • Walter Regan

    Just a point of interest. The latest polls in Alaska show that Palin’s popularity rate is 64%. Still high (wouldn’t George Bush love to be at 64%) but not 80 or 90 percent. Most reports I’ve read say that the Troopergate scandal has really cut into her support.

  • Susan

    Being able to gut a moose is hardly a qualification for being able to run a country. She is absolutely frightening. Just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she has anything in common with me or most other American woman. A Hillary replacement? Not close. She couldn’t wipe Hillary’s windows. She may not believe in abortion, but she has no problem destroying non-human life such wildlife as she supports arial hunts and the destruction of ANWR. She is a trophy hunter too–kill for the fun of it. We don’t need a conservative Christian who spits out babies like there’s no tomorrow when unwanted children sit in foster care and orphanages. I don’t want a rugged individualist. I want a compassionate spiritual person who supports all life and has the good sense to walk her talk. She preaches abstinance as better than sex ed in schools, winds up with a pregnant teenager and do you really think this little girl wants to be married at 17? Palin is a monster. I’m so glad McCain selected her. She will do much to help him lose the election. Maybe then our country can recover.

  • Larry in Nyack

    I think Palin and McCain are inappropriate to build a new energy program for this country.

    She has five children as if NOT knowing that the 2 1/2 times increase in HER family population is not the problem in the USA!

    McCain doesn’t seem to have a clue that each of the 310 million Americans has to cut back the size of their future families AND decrease energy usage so that the next generation of children will have some petroleum left. and be free of foreign oil.

  • Alden Griffith in Wellelsley, MA

    I’m having a hard time understanding why it’s important for a candidate to “be like me”. Personally, I don’t want a candidate to be like me – I want him/her to be super-human and capable of the MOST important job in the entire world. This person should be utterly exceptional.

  • David Essing

    Feminists love seeing women in power – BUT only so long as as they’re liberal. As one of the guests said, “sometimes women too can be sexist.” Exactly.

  • David Essing

    Alden,

    “Personally, I don’t want a candidate to be like me – I want him/her to be super-human and capable of the MOST important job in the entire world.”

    This would explain why so many people are gaga about Obama – because they want some superhuman person to arrive and save humanity, making the fish more numerous in the sea, and turning water into wine, and the like. He – like Ms. Palin, and like you – is just human. Only she has more experience; and she’s not at the top of the ticket.

  • Jim Hill

    The Republican Convention,
    From An Old White Guy’s Perspective
    First I have to say, and not to impune her in any way, but, I was shocked, yet not fully surprised, by the blatently pandering and crassly political VP choice of John McCain, Sarah Palin.
    I am a middle aged, working class, non-voting, white male. I don’t participate in local or national elections, so if you don’t agree with me, don’t worry, I won’t be voting agaist you, but I, ironically enough, have an inordinate interest in, and ardently follow politics, locally and nationaly. I just enjoy the debate. I admire that people can come together in pursuit of larger purposes. That said, I believe that makes me a bit more impartial than the average political devotee. And as such it seems to me the Republicans so far are more lackluster than the Democrats were at their party last week. The Democrats in Denver seemed more alive, more fervered, more polished in their presentation and with much more dynamic speakers. So far, the tempo could change tonight. We’ll see how McCain’s stunt of a VP nominee does shortly. Thanks!

  • John Boynton

    Perhaps I am alone in my feelings. Let’s rise above the Palin issue for a moment. I feel as though the US is standing at the edge of a precipice. Our debt, medical industry, energy needs, social security system, world standing, untoward dependence upon our weapons industry for revenues, housing industry, a war with no markers for loss or gain, people who hate us for our outragesous approach to other culturs and who have access to serious military might, lobbying outrages in Washington, rampant greed in our financial sector, out of control government spending (and most of the projects employ good people),and an infrastructure that is buckling from abuse and misuse are just some of the issues at bay.

    Meanwhile, I am listening to Kellyanne Conway tell me that my vote should be based upon “Who do I like?” and “Is that person like me?” I cannot believe that Kellyanne is so full of hubris to believe that someone like me, like her, like the rest of the common working men and women in our country, could possibly have the skills to succeed as President or Vice President of this country. It is tragic that women of her seeming wit should reveal such shallowness, denigrate our education system by positing such shallow criteria on our political decision making process, and position likeability ahead of an ability to learn and draw together the best minds and interests in the world to inform, to learn, to listen!!!!, to address the problems that face our nation with equity and vision. I certainly do not have what it takes to be President. I am not stupid. I simply know my limitations. I don’t want a friend of Kellyanne’s either.

    We have just ended 8 years with a “buddy” in the White House. Can we not elect a President and Vice President not based simply on “experience” and one-liners but on their proven ability to synthesize broadly divergent issues and make decisions that help restore our shattered image in the world and get us back on track to fulfill our broken promises at home?

  • David Essing

    John,

    No, you are not alone. What you are looking for, however, just won’t and can’t happen. Anyone who sits behind the desk in the oval office will be human, all-too-human. No superman or superwoman is going to walk on water, and into the oval office, and solve all our problems.

    You wrote: “Can we not elect a President and Vice President not based simply on “experience” and one-liners but on their proven ability to synthesize broadly divergent issues and make decisions that help restore our shattered image in the world and get us back on track to fulfill our broken promises at home?”

    The only two candidates who remotely approximate this are Biden and McCain. Obama and Palin do not have a proven ability like you describe.

  • SWhaley

    Sarah Palin accepted the vice-presidential offer knowing that her 17-year-old, unmarried daughter was coping with an unplanned pregnancy. Gov. Palin also accepted this honor after recently giving birth to her son with down syndrome, a condition that is fraught with life-long medical, emotional and educational complications. No one chooses these things to happen to them, but once the reality occurred Sarah Palin chose to go ahead with her personal ambition for higher office rather than providing the kind of parental support both of her children will need. Being governor of a sparsely populated, wealthy state like Alaska might be possible, in my opinion, but taking on the more than full time duties of vice president, does not seem realistic or fair to her family, or to us, the citizenry. In addition, it seems extraordinarily cruel to expose her vulnerable 17-year old daughter to the media scrutiny she will continue to receive. Bristol is a teen, needing continued parenting herself–she did not make this choice for continued embarrassment. Marrying her high school lover will not erase the ongoing difficulties her daughter will face. Emotional pornography will always appeal to some people, regardless of political party or nationality for that matter. Her mother could have helped Bristol prevent this, at least.

  • David Essing

    SWhaley,

    Ms. Palin does have a husband. Don’t you think men are just as capable of caring for a child? I’m just asking. Maybe you don’t.

    In my opinion, the press – and not Ms. Palin – are to blame for the focus on Bristol and the “emotional pornography.”

  • Lux Interior

    “the press – and not Ms. Palin – are to blame”

    So much for the party of personal responsibility.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    Can we not elect a President and Vice President not based simply on “experience” and one-liners but on their proven ability to synthesize broadly divergent issues and make decisions that help restore our shattered image in the world and get us back on track to fulfill our broken promises at home?

    In a word: no.

    The qualifications for getting elected are totally different from the qualifications to actually hold office. It’s a bit like advertising for a secretary who can type 60 WPM and answer the phone, and oh-by-the-way, she has to arrive at the interview by parachute, wearing roller skates.

    Your fellow voters are the ones who demand that candidates be exciting and be willing to grovel to enough rich donors to win whatever office was their stepping stone to the Presidency, and be willing to endure lurid media scrutiny and mud-slinging from the other party and al the other stuff that goes into being a political candidate in the US. Any relationship between these traits and the sort of broad knowledge of domestic and foreign policy, good judegement, and experience in exercising that judgement in a national office, that it takes to be a good President are purely concidental.

    Choosing a President should be a sober and careful process requiring attention and consideration. But the voters see it as a big rave of some kind and don’t take their responsibilities seriously. As H.L. Mencken said, “A national political campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in.

    To get better politicians we need better citizens.

  • Frederic C.

    SPEECH WELL READ. WELL DONE PAMELA SMART. I MEAN SARAH PALIN.

  • Alden Griffith in Wellesley, MA

    David,

    I am not expecting Barack Obama to save Humanity or turn water into wine. I am not that naive, and that was not my point. What I am suggesting is that being an average “hockey mom” – or average anything – should not be necessarily an asset on the world stage. I’m sure leaders of other aggressive nations (e.g. Russia) would be more than excited to confront an average American. Regardless of whether Sarah Palin is exceptional or not, qualified or not, experienced or not – please explain how proclaiming that being AVERAGE is a good credential for the most powerful job in the world. That alone is my question and bewilderment.

  • Jim Hill

    I Don’t Care. But If I Did ….
    The Republicans did what they had to do and stepped it up,,, Mike and Rudy found the buttons and finally moved the painfully distracted, self aware, leave it to beaver crowd…and Sarah Palin; compelling, regardless of political circumstance, in her improbable story; delivered a solid and stirring populist arguement, however lacking in substance it may have been. The Republicans, in disregard of most practical arguements, seem bent on promoting an emotional plea hoping to conteract the Democrats equally compelling emotional, shared destiny, sort of mission.
    Game On!

  • Confused!

    I’m confused! Both parties keep talking about cutting taxes… I’ve been empoyed for over 30 years and I can’t remember any significant increase in my paycheck based on taxes. Any dollar increase will always be counteracted with some increase in expense. Cut taxes, raise SS. Cut taxes, raise oil prices. You get the idea…

    It also seems odd that I haven’t heard anyone ask this question. Once America is no longer dependend on foreign oil, how do we know it will be cheaper for Americans. Corn is going up… Beef is going up… Produce is going up… All domestically produced. Once there are big profits to be made, Americans will pay the price… Always….

    Think about that one…

  • http://www.pnart.com Peter Nelson

    The Associated Press had a report yesterday on just how far to the religious right Ms Palin is. It’s amazing that a national politician would say these things, but . . .

    Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told ministry students at her former church that the United States sent troops to fight in the Iraq war on a “task that is from God.”

    “That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”

    “Palin told graduating students of the church’s School of Ministry, “What I need to do is strike a deal with you guys.” As they preached the love of Jesus throughout Alaska, she said, she’d work to implement God’s will from the governor’s office, including creating jobs by building a pipeline to bring North Slope natural gas to North American markets.”

    In an address last June, the Republican vice presidential candidate also urged ministry students to pray for a plan to build a $30 billion natural gas pipeline in the state, calling it “God’s will.”

    (quoted sections are copyrighted by the Associated Press)

    The whole article may be found here . . .

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cvn_palin_iraq_war

    When Mike Hukabee was running last spring we could laugh at his jokes and enjoy his affability because we all knew he didn’t stand a chance of actually winning. I’m sure if Ms Palin had been forced to take part in a primary she, too, wouldn’t have made it far. But VP’s are chosen in smoke-filled-rooms and this is what you get.

  • dj

    I don’t understand. Economy was supposed to be the main issue this year. In the criticisms of Palin that I read and hear everywhere, the omnipresent issue is that she has no experience where foreign policy is concerned, which is true. But what does she bring on the all-important topic of the economy? Wasn’t that why McCain was expected to pick Romney? Now we have a ticket of total economic incompetence. Can that really swim? Why don’t the Democrats jump on that?

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    But what does she bring on the all-important topic of the economy? Wasn’t that why McCain was expected to pick Romney? Now we have a ticket of total economic incompetence. Can that really swim?

    I’m not sure why you think that Romney would have been a major asset, economics-wise. When he was governor of Massachusetts we didn’t do anything spectacular here compared to other states with similar economies. Furthermore, he left the state with a huge deficit!

    Palin is a no-op on economics because Alaska’s economy is so incredibly different from other states’ that you can’t really make any comparison.

    Neither party has a strong economic story. Obama’s chief economic advisor is Laura Tyson who is about as good as they get in that role. Besides her many academic credits, she was also the head of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and the economy during that periosd was excellent and the envy of most other nations. So that’s good, but the problem is that Obama (and Hillary!) disavowed many of Bill Clinton’s greatest achievements, including trade policy.

    McCain has a better trade position but the rest of his (Bush) policies are a trainwreck as the empirical data of recent years makes clear.

    Why don’t the Democrats jump on that?

    Partly for the reasons I just said, but also because McCain and Palin present the Democrats with what the military calls a “target rich environment”. There are so many things they can go after that I’m sure their heads are spinning trying to decide! In any case they’re not going to waste their ad money while the RNC convention is in progress.

  • David Johnson

    What line from Palin’s speech questioned Obama’s patriotism? What’s he talking about?

  • Trevor Augustino

    A speech to nowhere other than the failed policies of the last eight years. Lets build America up instead of tearing her people down.

  • jeff

    The economic issues facing this country are huge. In some areas such as Detroit you have near depression conditions. In Cincinnati 40% of the children registered for public school are homeless.

    I find it ironic that the Republican Party is holding its convention in Minneapolis where the I-35W Bridge collapsed.

    This country is need of a huge investment in our infrastructure.
    All across the country this is an issue. You want to create jobs good paying jobs this is one way to move forward. We need to revamp the energy grid, which is not been modernized to deal with the growth of our country or the development of alternative sources of energy generation.
    Of course the issue is money. How and where does it come from?
    The traditional way is taxes and bonds.

    The question I have is what kind of nation do we want to live in?
    What kind of community do we want to live in?
    What is good for the common good of the whole nation and how do we confront this?
    The Republicans has told us that big government is bad, that taxes are bad.
    My feelings are that it’s not taxes, it’s how they are spent, witness the last 8 years.

    Investment in the country’s infrastructure is a no brainier to me.
    I think we need a kind of Marshall plan, oh no I said it big government.
    We need to create jobs and this is a good way to help people and communities.
    The Republicans are using culture, fear, and rhetoric to avoid the issues.

    What kind of country do we want to live in?

  • Christopher

    Re: “Press to blame”

    We hear a great deal from so-called conservatives and corporatists that they love their country. They like to tell us all about their great love and loyalty to America. And they repeat it, over and over: I love my country.

    But when it comes to their country in action, to those things that make America the country it is, they become very uncomfortable.

    We say, “Let’s build a bridge; let’s hire some more teachers and police officers; let’s develop the space program,” and they say “Sorry, times are tough, we have to cut taxes.”

    When the press questions the judgment and integrity of a Republican politician, they cry that the “elite” and “liberal” media is out to destroy her.

    I fear our country is slowly losing the ability to govern itself. Government by the people requires a dynamic, healthy, substantial political discourse.

    The fascistic twinge rising to the surface is replacing politics with a carnival of shifting and emotion-provoking forms: the sheen is impenetrable, but the content is always changing.

    It is a trick of popular culture that what I’m saying makes me sound like one of the tinfoil hatted: but keep in mind, the sitting president revoked habeas corpus, the basis of our liberty.

    Once that happened, in my view, the conversation drew very near to an end. You don’t talk to a power that refuses to grant you hearing.

  • Morgan

    “It’s stunning that someone with so little national and international experience might be heartbeat away from the presidency.”

    Referring to Palin or Obama?

    Once again, most of the country is distracted as we face financial Armageddon. Currently, the national debt sits at 9 trillion. With 300 million people, that works out to 30K per person. Now tack on the unfunded liabilities (SS, Medicaid, etc.) and that debt balloons to 54 trillion, or 180K per person. Conservatively, about half the population has the means to pay even a modest debt, so let’s double that to 360K per person. In no scenario, will this debt be paid. Either we default or we significantly cut social outlays.

    Forget about oil, health care, and the war in Iraq, this issue trumps them all; and after watching both conventions, the amount of discussion I’ve heard on this topic is zero.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    Investment in the country’s infrastructure is a no brainier to me.
    I think we need a kind of Marshall plan, oh no I said it big government.
    We need to create jobs and this is a good way to help people and communities.

    We certainly need more infrastructure investment – here in Massachusetts one recent estimate said that 1/3 of our bridges are in serious need of repair and some my need to be shut – thanks to the neglect under the Riomney administration.

    But it’s not clear that this helps the overall economy. On paper it looks great – infrastructure provides jobs, and supports businesses that make everything from cement to steel to heavy equipment . . .

    . . . but during the long Japanese recession (some say depression) of 1991-2004 infrastructure investment was a cornerstone of the Japanese government’s efforts to fight the downturn and it had no effect whatsoever. Billions of yen were spent on bridges, roads, rail-transport and other projects. They spent so much money that Japanese government borrowing reached 130% of GDP – the highest in the industrialized world. And yet during that time the economy continued to slide. From 1989 to 1992 the Nikkei went from 40,000 to 15,000. But by 2001 it was down to 12,000. And employment by Japan’s vaunted salarymen also slid, even though construction workers did well. So all that infrastructure spending didn’t trickle down (or up) to the rest of the economy. And now Japanese taxpayers are saddled with huge debt.

    So while I’m all in favor of infrastructure spending, I don’t think it will be of much help in the larger economy.

    I fear our country is slowly losing the ability to govern itself. Government by the people requires a dynamic, healthy, substantial political discourse.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, I think this reflects a conscious decision by voters about how seriously they want to engage with the issues, history, the Constitution, etc. The average American spends ober 4 hours a day watching TV. If you could get to turn off the TV for even a half hour to read a good daily newspaper or weekly news magazine (I like The Economist) we’d be way ahead.

    But we can’t. As a gardener I know that to grow a plant you need to plant it in the right soil. I don’t think US culture has what it takes to grow an active, engaged electorate needed for good government.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    Either we default or we significantly cut social outlays.

    Forget about oil, health care, and the war in Iraq, this issue trumps them all; and after watching both conventions, the amount of discussion I’ve heard on this topic is zero.

    I agree completely, and I think this reflects what I’ve talked about, above, that US voters are just too ignorant of basic economics to engage on this problem.

    The London School of Economics has a wonderful lecture series by top researchers all available as free MP3′s (see http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/publicLecturesAndEvents.htm)
    Some of them are a bit academic and technical but anyone with a college education should be able to follow them – and the Powerpoints are also there. And one thing that becomes painfully clear from much of the research is how poor most people’s grasp of money and economics is! It’s scary!

    WRT default – For the first time in 38 years of reading the business press – Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, etc, I only started seeing discussions of this in the last month or two. The idea used to be inconceivable. It’s still unlikely but now it’s conceivable.

    A more likely scenario is the “monetization” of the debt. In short, let inflation run so high that the government can discharge its obligations in cheaper money. This is the one I’m most worried about and so are others – earlier this year T.I.P. yields actually went negative.

  • David Johnson

    At what pont does the national debt cause us to fall into this “financial Armageddon” to actually take place? $15, 20, 25 trillion? Or when it hits a certain percentage of the GNP? Or is it when the pace in which we are paying that debt drops to a certain level?

    We are always being reminded that the Nationl Debt is at historic highs(which is always the case, the debt has risen every year since at least 1950). We never hear how our GNP is at historic highs (also risen every year since 1950, currently at $14 trillion). We are never told how or when the National Debt will be end of us all.

  • Cari Goldstein

    I was insulted by comments on the program on both Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Two guests on the program commented that if Sarah Palin were a pro-choice democrat she would have aborted her baby. I think it is extremely important to point out that being pro-choice does NOT mean someone would have an abortion. It means they believe in the CHOICE! I know many women, myself included, who would not personally make that choice, but believe that every woman should have the right to make her own choice based on her own circumstances.

  • Morgan

    “At what point does the national debt cause us to fall into this financial Armageddon?”

    It’s already happening and the evidence can be seen in commodity prices, and I’m not just talking about oil and corn. As one commentator above noted, a key strategy to dealing with our debt is monetization. Let me explain:

    The treasury sells debt to primary dealers at regular intervals. In the end, the big buyers include the foreign central banks and the Fed. So far so good. The problem occurs when the Fed monetizes the debt, which means that it basically prints money to buy the bonds. This printing expands the money supply, which in turn devalues the currency.

    Furthermore, because there is so much outstanding debt, there is a need to keep interest rates low to reduce the cost of further borrowing needed to service that debt. Low rates tend to devalue the dollar relative to other higher yielding currencies, which forces investors to protect their wealth by converting that currency into a hard asset such as gold and oil. This is why commodity prices have been surging over the last year. Economists from the Austrian school refer to this as “crack-up boom inflation”.

    The boys in the Fed know all this, which is why on March 23, 2006, they stopped reporting M3, which is the broadest measure of money supply and a true predictor of inflation. This was highly controversial in financial circles, but didn’t even make the evening news.

    With all of the talk of taxes at these conventions, there’s no talk of the most insidious and regressive tax of all, inflation. And that tax is being felt the most by the poorest on most vulnerable amongst us.

    But we haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till the boomers show up at the trough en mass.

    The bottom line is that we will not be able to borrow our way to prosperity. As a country, we need to place the highest priority on drastically reducing spending.

  • Frederic C.

    REWARD

    LOST

    REPUBLICAN VALUES

    LAST SEEN WITH DWIGHT EISENHOWER

    IF YOU HAVE SEEN THEM PLEASE KEEP THEM CALM BY READING THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.

    RESPONDS TO THE WORD, “BULLY,” JUST CLEAR YOUR THROAT AND SAY, “BULLY GOOD!”

    CALL JOHN MCCAIN DAY OR NIGHT

    REWARD THANK YOU

  • Frederic C.

    btw -we Dems. need to show that we can play “containment,” too. b/c; the more things change &c.

  • Erica Byrd

    While I am not surprised with McCain’s VP choice, I AM surprise to hear so many people making comments that Palin’s personal life should be off limits.

    Should we make a decision that will impact a minimum of the next 4 years based ONLY on what we know about her past 20 months of public service in remote Alaska? There is not much to go on and I am disgusted by what I DO know.

    However, since these candidates have the ability to put into effect changes that will impact my personal life and rights, I feel that we should have the right to inspect them closely – including their daily lives, actions, and values. They will bring them to Washington and create legislation that we will be expected to abide – personal life or not!

    Did any of the Republicans ever consider she might have to be president? She has not impressed me with an understanding of foreign policy, domestic policy, or economic strategy. What does that leave? Our individual rights.

    Would someone please tell her that drilling in Alaska will not sustain our national energy consumption through her grandchild’s 25th birthday? It would create more jobs for Alaskans. That isn’t really country first, though. There is nothing to scrutinize about Palin since it all bubbles up to the surface effortlessly.

    The only thing that surprises me is that McCain didn’t choose a young African American woman in an attempt to steal all of the votes since he obviously feels we cannot think past the apparent.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    At what pont does the national debt cause us to fall into this “financial Armageddon” to actually take place?

    What makes you think that’s how it works? The whole thing doesn’t just implode with a loud noise and lots of smoke and dust.

    Instead what happens is this:

    The amount of your taxes that go to servicing the debt goes up and up, so you’re paying more and more taxes with less and less money available to actually fund stuff we want.

    Ever larger portions of our debt are held overseas, including by nations who are not our friends, such as Russia and the PRC.

    The more dependent we are on getting foreign, not necessarily friendly, nations to fund our government, the more this constrains our own geopolitical options.

    The enormous volume of Treasuries that must be issued/bought to continually refinance this debt crowds out other commercial paper, raising the interest rates that private companies have to pay. Apologists for deficit spending have said that this isn’t a problem because US Treasuries are only a small percentage of total worldwide debt instruments. But other economists have pointed out that in high-quality debt (AAA-rated paper) US Treasuries are much larger percentage, so this has a trickle-down effect.

    So think of our huge debt level, not as a bomb that will explode, but as “sand in the gears” that will slow down and impede all sorts of good things. Current debt-as-a-%-of GDP has been fairly level at just under 40% of GDP for a few years, but the GAO says it will be going up dramatically in the next few years.

  • http://www.pnArt.com Peter Nelson

    Furthermore, because there is so much outstanding debt, there is a need to keep interest rates low to reduce the cost of further borrowing needed to service that debt.

    Just a clarification to your otherwise good post – most Treasuries sold to big investors are sold at auction. It’s just the little guys like me that offer noncompetitive bids. This means that the US Treasury does not have the luxury of setting the interest rates. Instead the Treasury has so much money they need to fund. For example in the July 20-year TIPS auction they needed to fund $6 billion. In the August 10 year note acution they needed to raise $17 billion. So the rates are set by bid, not by fiat. As a result, if buyers expect higher inflation, a weaker dollar or if the Treasury simply needs to raise more money, rates will go up and you and I will pay for it in our taxes.

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 29, 2014
The U.S. Senate is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP)

The “Do-Nothing” Congress just days before August recess. We’ll look at the causes and costs to the country of D.C. paralysis.

Jul 29, 2014
This April 28, 2010 file photo, shows the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. Colstrip figures to be a target in recently released draft rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that call for reducing Montana emissions 21 percent from recent levels by 2030. (AP)

A new sci-fi history looks back on climate change from the year 2393.

RECENT
SHOWS
Jul 28, 2014
U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker watches as wounded American soldiers arrive at an American hospital near the front during World War I. (AP Photo)

Marking the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One. We’ll look at lessons learned and our uneasy peace right now.

 
Jul 28, 2014
This June 4, 2014 photo shows a Walgreens retail store in Boston. Walgreen Co. _ which bills itself as “America’s premier pharmacy” _ is among many companies considering combining operations with foreign businesses to trim their tax bills. (AP)

American companies bailing out on America. They call it inversion. Is it desertion?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
This 15-Year-Old Caller Is Really Disappointed With Congress
Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

In which a 15-year-old caller from Nashville expertly and elegantly analyzes our bickering, mostly ineffective 113th Congress.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: July 25, 2014
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Why the key to web victory is often taking a break and looking around, and more pie for your viewing (not eating) pleasure.

More »
Comment
 
The Art Of The American Pie: Recipes
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

In the odd chance that our pie hour this week made you hungry — how could it not, right? — we asked our piemaking guests for some of their favorite pie recipes. Enjoy!

More »
Comment