Friday, 5 September 2008

A tale of two speeches [updated]

You've got to hand it to Sarah Palin -- that was a great speech. It's got the whole world talking, and with good reason:

It's easy to forget that this [Obama] is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform - not even in the state senate. This is a man who can give an entire speech about the wars America is fighting, and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign. But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed ... when the roar of the crowd fades away ... when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot - what exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger ... take more of your money ... give you more orders from Washington ... and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.

Read it in full here, or watch it (again) here.

So that's one Palin speech, a great speech -- a speech that has gone around the world -- and boy, doesn't she come across well. Hannah Strange in London's Times sums up reactions:

Conservatives are swooning, liberals terrified - that's how I would sum up the media reaction to Sarah Palin's big moment in St Paul last night. Never mind that she told a fair few porkies - both about her own record and Barack Obama's - the young governor of Alaska issued a rallying cry to the conservative Republican base that will go down in the annals of the culture wars as one of the most energising opening salvos of recent times

See the rest of Strange's piece for a round-up of reactions. Here's another recent Palin speech however that might innoculate you from all the swooning [hat tip Noodle Food]. If Palin's speech last night made my eyes slightly moist (yes, I confess; how rare it is to see such forthrightness) then this speech made my skin crawl. It's Palin talking a few months ago to the Assembly of God church by which she says she was "saved." (From what exactly she was "saved" is never quite clear.)

She says repeatedly, like a point for the audience to remember, "that God's Will be done." She says that people, you and I, "can't do any good unless their heart is right with God"! She says that U.S. soldiers in Iraq, all of them, are "on a task that is from God." Se says "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." This is worrying stuff. But then in part two of the video the pastor says quite seriously -- and Palin is on stage for this, smiling through it all -- that "God wants Alaska to be a refuge for people from the 'lower 48' during the Last Days, and this church must be ready to receive them." Wow. Just, wow.

PZ MYers at Pharyngula calls it "a terrifying video ... going on and on in front of her Assembly of God church, talking about the war in Iraq as "a task that is from God", promising the congregants the gift of prophecy, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus … it ought to make any rational human being ill."

I'd like to hear how you react. Watch both parts of the latter speech here.

UPDATE 1: Just to head off an obvious objection: If it's okay to criticise Obama for his choice of guru -- and I believe it is -- then so it's okay to criticise Palin's. If Jeremiah Wright is fair game, then so too is Pastor Ed Kalnins of the Wassila Assembly of God, where she was baptized at the age of 12 and which she attended most of her adult life until 2002 when she left for Juneau -- maintaining, in her own words "a friendship with [this] special, special place." Nico Pitney and Sam Stein reckon "A review of recorded sermons by Ed Kalnins, the senior pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God since 1999, offers a provocative and, for some, eyebrow-raising sketch of Palin's longtime spiritual home."

Pastor Kalnins has also preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell; questioned whether people who voted for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 would be accepted to heaven; charged that the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq were part of a war "contending for your faith;" and said that Jesus "operated from that position of war mode."

How do you feel now?

UPDATE 2: "Christians and other mystics sometimes argue that religion makes people moral. I disagree: morality is a practical science which can only be understood by rational consideration, not emotionalism ... One particularly despicable influence of religion was out on display when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate." Read on here.

UPDATE 3: I said above that "if it's okay to criticise Obama for his choice of guru -- and I believe it is -- then so it's okay to criticise Palin's." Nick Provenzo reckons there's a significant difference between McCain plumping for Palin, pastor and pentacostalism and Obama defending Wright:

While Obama has his own religious demons to contend with (such as his bigoted and raving anti-American ex-pastor whose sermons Obama was all too willing to sit though), Obama's religious background serves to discredit him, while McCain's recent moves are intended as a pragmatic effort to strengthen his chances of winning in November.

UPDATE 4: You saw all those signs at the Republican National Conventions: "Country First," "Service," "Sacrifice." Myrhaf saw them too: "When you put service first," he notes, "then freedom comes second at best." This is the real tragedy, he says:

[At this conference] we watched the beginning of the end of freedom in America, brought to us by well-meaning Republicans who have not the slightest idea that their perverted hierarchy of values will lead to destruction of individual rights. They were all good people we saw on TV tonight. Good, solid Americans.
Their ignorance of economics and philosophy will be the end of the country they love.
If the Democrat Party is a mad farce, the Republican Party is a tragedy. In striving to serve the land they love, America, they will end up destroying it.

The real difference between Obama and McCain? "McCain wants Americans to sacrifice to country; Obama wants Americans to sacrifice to the whole world." But they do both demand your sacrifice.


  1. That's hilarious. Imagine that grown adults can spout this sort of nonsense (Do they really believe it or is it meant for an audience of hicks and retards?). Next thing they'll be telling you that the fairies will form an army for god armed with weapons of love and kill every naughty person in an orgy of holy torture and rightous ritual slaughter.

    You really have to laugh at the god is on our side smugness of these nut-job lunatics. Trouble is the US is soaked in it. No matter whether you get the Obamarites or the McCains, religious lunacy prevails. No-one seems to have the guts to stand up to it.

    I'm starting to wonder whether Peikoff was right in his analysis after all.

    Oh well. thanks for the entertainment.


  2. Well, yes....
    And no. I'm not religious at all but neither am I especially anti-religion and the effect of watching pastors such as Wright and Palin's is one of mild amusement, no more than that.
    Because they have very little real power.
    I'd venture to say that stuff-all public policy is influenced by their ranting and the vast majority of people in the U.S. seem to be able to live quietly decent lives whatever their religious beliefs.
    Far more worrying is the influence Marxist ideology has had on organisations such as the teacher's unions, to name just one important area.
    And far more damaging, by a country mile.

  3. fairies will form an army for god armed with weapons of love and kill every naughty person in an orgy of holy torture and rightous ritual slaughter.

    Nope - not fairies - lefties.

    and it's only happened - what 4 or 5 times in the last century?

    But - you know - re-elect Helen and it will happen again - here!

  4. Sometimes commenters say the darndest things. I have to admit, this one gave me pause:

    "Anyway, how does being mentally retarded make you stupid..."

    Mastery of the English language isn't what it once was, if it ever was.

  5. Palin never wrote that speech, GW Bushs’ speechwriter penned it.
    More than 40% of Americans believe in the rapture – that is that Jesus is going to come down to earth in the next 50 years and save those that have converted. (you can even get insurance for those that are unlucky enough to survive)
    Creationists such as Palin are just pandering to the masses, telling em what they want to hear. Whats scary is that a good chunk of Americans think the world is going to end in the not too distant future, and policies by fundamentalists in the Republicans that represent that kind of ideology spells out some serious consequences down the track for the rest of humanity – like dropping a couple of nukes on Iran.
    Richard Dawkins for president! (If he could get US citizenship)

  6. And dropping a couple of nukes on Iran would be a bad thing? ;-)

  7. Well the markets don't like it - she is being partially blamed for the 344 points shaved off the DOW last night.

  8. Robert Winefield5 Sep 2008, 14:23:00

    I'm going to make an objection here:

    From the article you quoted from the rational mind site:

    "how should we judge a parent who chooses a lifetime of suffering on their own child"

    "One particularly despicable influence of religion was out on display when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential candidate. One of Governor’s Palin’s qualifications for the presidential ticket is that she gave birth to a baby with Down syndrome in April."

    I see. So the Down's syndrome child should be aborted period.

    And anyone who chooses to allow them a chance to live even a stunted life is a monster?

    Down's syndrome kids are not vegetables. They see, hear but probably don't fully comprehend. They are susceptible to certain congenital disorders, but they aren't racked with pain and the symptoms vary. Not only that, science is creeping ever closer to gene therapies that may help treat them.

    So is the fact that these kids are slower, have lower life expectancy and are in need of more TLC enough reason to condemn someone as evil for not aborting them?

    Is religious dogma the only reason people choose to keep such children?

    Ugh! The only thing as obscene than someone who puts their religion before their humanity is the person who puts their atheism before theirs.

    I'm an atheist, but I'm not religious about it.

    As far as I'm concerned, if the DS' caregivers are willing to look after him, there is nothing evil in their actions. Likewise, if they choose not to commit their life, I won't condemn them for aborting the pregnancy.

  9. "Well the markets don't like it - she is being partially blamed for the 344 points shaved off the DOW last night."
    And for hurricane Ike and an outbreak of influenza in Seattle.....

  10. Just saying KG...and the Dems have suddenly pulled in 10 million in donations since her speech - a one day record. A bit of a coincidence with the DOW tanking last night.

    The markets don't like it. I thought they would. Curiouser and curiouser.

  11. Ruth, I'm sure you're right--I was just polking fun at lefties, albeit clumsily.

  12. Dems have suddenly pulled in 10 million in donations since her speech

    Ruth, you got it wrong. It was $10 million donations to the Republicans not to the Democrats. It was reported in the VOA (Voice of America) news last night on Triangle TV at 10 pm.

  13. Well I think they got it wrong. Reuters said Dems raised 10 mill. Given the slump in the markets I would suggest that would be the case.

    The only MSM link I have is

  14. Ruth said:
    "Well the markets don't like it - she is being partially blamed for the 344 points shaved off the DOW last night."

    Ah, Ruth - I think the fact that the US Labor Department came out with data yesterday showing the number of people staying on US jobless rolls continuing to rise might be a better explanatory variable than any hypothesised Palin factor. The markets are now very concerned about economic growth as a result of yesterday's data.

    But your/media's thesis probably makes better headlines.


  15. We are quite aware of that data Julian.That's why I said 'partially'. The data alone does not explain such a huge slump, however.

    Like many of your 'libertarian' kind you under-estimate the power of banks and big oil, and assume you know what they want.

    Ferocious conservative govt and endless war draining the economy is not it.

  16. Ruth, your/media's assertion was that the "Palin factor" partially contributed to the drop of the Dow. I am just pointing at that there are other factors that are more likely to be causal at play here. Factors which have strong statistical correlations with market performance.

    It is not possible to infer that Palin's speech was causal in yesterday's drop in the Dow. For all we know - the market may have liked it but that was crowded out by other factors. I really don't know (nor care) since your assertion of causality is somewhat difficult to prove in any statistical model.

    "The data alone does not explain such a huge slump"

    What do the data show?


  17. KG

    "...they have very little real power"

    On the contrary, their ideas are extremely extremely influential. that is their power. You should never under-estimate that.

    You and I may be amused by the idiocy of the religious (as well as their lunacy, intellectual dishonesty, hypocracy and vacuous immorality) BUT it should never be forgotten that there are a LOT of them and that they have a vast capability to commit criminal acts. They can and do create a great deal of harm and suffering in this world. Laugh at their stupid ideology by all means but never underestimate its capability and power.


    PS ditto for collectivists and socialists of all brands and colours- left or right, red or blue.

  18. the drunken watchman6 Sep 2008, 07:24:00

    does that mean we should head north to Alaska after Palin nukes Iran?

    by the way, anyone know if Obama is a creationist?

  19. Obama is a creationist?

    Yes, he is a religious person. All religious followers believe in imaginary friends, ie, those friends who created everything in the universe.

  20. Palin is a creationist and anti-abortionist as well.

    This sucks as at least she was fiscally conservative unlike most of the other idiots.

  21. by the way, anyone know if Obama is a creationist?

    No, he's a weatherman urban terrorist.


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