Archive for May 2010

Memorial Day

I was out in my vineyard doing some work when a formation of five vintage World War II airplanes flew over low. I snapped to attention and held my salute as they went by with a few tears in my eyes. It was as if the pages of time had been turned back. Thank you my fallen comrades. Life is bitter sweet when one ponders on what others have paid for this beautiful day in my vineyard.

This is Your Last Wakeup Call

There were two news items that, although seemed unrelated, were oh so related.  I turned on C-SPAN radio and a commentator was asking what was the reason why the two parties could not compromise on anything.  The other item was the picture that appeared in the paper showing a boat towing a dead dolphin back in to shore to see if the oil spill had killed it.  The picture answered the question.  One side fundamentally has it wrong and we are headed to our demise.  How do you compromise with that?

The unbridled free market brought us the crash of the world economy and possibly the largest environmental catastrophe the world has ever seen.  From lead paint in our children’s toys to tainted meat, without restraint, the free market will kill us.  Make no mistake, the free market will eventually bring us alternate energy when oil finally almost kills us, but then it will be too late. Let us not forget the Savings and Loans and Enron debacles.  The market was trying to correct after the disaster on Wall Street, but that correction would have left us all devastated, hence the bailouts. Yes we bailed out the car companies, but to leave us without an industrial base to be philosophically correct would have been madness for our future. Unless we, as responsible adults, decide how we want the market to operate and where we want it to take us, we will be brought to our knees.  The conservatives (and many Democrats) just can’t accept this and if we continue to compromise with their positions, we will doom ourselves to a few very rich, and the poor.

Clearly Congress is bought and paid for by the corporations.  We really are the United States of Corporations.  They will only act when we are facing dire straits and then quickly forget the lesson.  So like the crisis we faced in the Great Depression we have turned to our President who promised us change only to find him hiding behind Congress.  Franklin D. Roosevelt understood he was not there to compromise with failure, “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.” Can you imagine Obama saying, “Bring it on”? At least George Bush had the courage of his very wrong convictions.  Oh, Obama has given us great speeches about change and then compromised away any real change and continued us down the road to ruin.  Recently a Republican Candidate in Utah was caught plagiarizing Obama’s 2004 address to the Democratic Convention.  It ought to give you pause that either party could use the speech to its ends.  There was no there there in the speech.  Like his Presidency, the details of real change are lacking, left to us to guess what that change is.

For the past 18 months the nation has been embroiled in a Health Care Bill.  The President was MIA as the fight for a real alternative and a public option, which is the only real change, went down without a peep out of him.  He was interested in passing Health Care Reform, but did not understand that without him fighting for real change, it is meaningless.   Once again on the Banking Reform Bill, it leaves the real villain, banks too large to fail and hidden derivatives trading, in place.  So once again where was this President on what is the minimum for real change?  Hiding behind a bill he thinks will get passed, not one that addresses the fundamental problems.  The same can be said about the Energy Bill languishing in Congress.  His change was to work with the other side to find solutions for America.  Sounds good, but the other side’s solution have brought us to the precipice and he continues to think taking baby steps away from the edge while the whole cliff crumbles is progress.

Now we are facing without a doubt, the largest environmental crisis the world has faced and he spends his time at fundraisers in Hollywood and giving North Carolina’s basketball team a Presidential pat on the back.  What that tells me is that his whole team is deficient.  They have failed to recognize that this is one of those pivotal moments in history when reality is for all to behold.  Here is the end result of laissez-faire government.  Here is what conservative political philosophy leads us to.  Now we need a leader who understands that America is losing something that is a part of our soul.  Climate change doesn’t scare anyone because they can’t see it like they can see this oil spill.  I have listened to the moron talking heads explaining that this risk could not have been foreseen or the engineering is too complicated and I just laugh.  Maybe it is just too complicated for them.  Rachel Maddow showed us that back in 1979 they had a similar blowout in 100’ of water and they tried the same techniques, all of which failed.  We come a long way baby.

So here it is Mr. President.  There are no more excuses.  The private sector has to be controlled.  Government has to be smart enough to understand the risks, understand if there is a viable mitigation plan, and make sure that these companies are investing in fail-safe equipment.  We have to be able to say no, the devastation would just not be worth it.  Now you need to take charge of this thing and if necessary suspend laws.  Bring all the best minds to bear and chair this group.  Start building a long-term solution and lead it.  No more compromise.  No more balanced approach to failure.  Oh god I hate to say it, YOU NEED TO BE THE DECIDER.   It is time to change the path of this country and make government effective again.  If you don’t seize this opportunity, it will be your last.  The one thing we all miss about George Bush was he was not afraid to lead even if it was in the wrong direction.  Now the path is clear and it is time to step up and tell the nation where we are going.  I would hate to think that your legacy as the first black President is that you were seen as an Uncle Tom to a failed conservative philosophy, compromising to nowhere.  Please, you can be one of our greatest Presidents, but you have to step up and lead.

An Ending

Today is a monumental day in her life.  After over 30 years of teaching high school English she is walking out the door.  I am usually cautioned against quoting or mentioning her in my blog because she is a very private person, but I think today is special and I will be forgiven.  I know she leaves with many mixed emotions.  Teaching today is not what it was when she started.  I know that most people have no idea how hard and pressure filled it is.  These people who spend day after day isolated in a classroom with 30 or 40 kids, some of them scary, are very special and most of us have no appreciation for the intensity of their jobs or what they accomplish.

I know that what she did was very special and more important she really made a difference in so many kid’s lives.  Every now and then she would get a letter from the California University system that one of her students had nominated her for the best teacher he/she ever had.  And then just recently one of her ex-students told her that she was the reason she had become a teacher.  Then she would pick up the paper and read that teachers are the problem in our school system and we need to hold them accountable.  She would meet with parents who would rush up to her to thank her for being their kid’s teacher and what she accomplished with them, and then a parent would write some sarcastic note about how much work she was giving or make some other special demand for her special child.  She was always concerned that some outrageous claim by a student or a parent could destroy her career.  Always being on the defensive is very hard.

So leaving is a mixed blessing.  It was what defined her and where she excelled in giving a gift that so many of us just wish our life would add up to.  She is leaving so many friends there that she feels a special bond to because they alone know what they faced, and it is that bond that allowed them to overcome challenges most of us would have walked away from.  But the pressures continue to build with more and more testing, cuts in their budgets, larger classes, scapegoating teachers for the failure of parents, and more and more troubled kids dumped on the school system in hopes that teachers can solve their problems.  So today she is finally walking away after affecting so many lives.  Not many people will care or ever understand her contribution to making this world of ours a better place.  But I do and some of her students do and I think that is all she really cares about.

One last thought on this momentous day.  She received a note from a student a few days ago that thanked her for everything she did.  The student apologized for not turning in a major assignment, but didn’t think he/she would be alive at the end of the semester so it didn’t really matter.  But he/she loved her class and the way he/she was treated and some how got through it.  It made the difference in his/her life in that fragile time.   Oh trust me on this; she will be so missed.  A beautiful person has just left the building and although there are still many wonderful people there, it won’t be the same.

Now I had better go tidy up the house, because she is now going to be home full time to monitor my activities and I am going to have to clean up my act.  I am a very lucky man.

The End of an Idol and Two Jacks

Since news has become entertainment and entertainment news, I thought what the heck.  The demise of these shows, two ending, and one maybe losing its engine, were worth a few comments.  These are American Idol, 24, and Lost.  I must admit I watched all of them fairly faithfully and will miss all the characters.

Lets start with American Idol.  We have seen some wonderful talent on this show and it has been a marvel to see people so young have these amazing gifts.  But getting through the continuous hype was almost more than one could bear with the false suspense and dragging out the obvious to make room for endless commercials.  For me the saving grace was the talent and Simon Cowell.  Simon did something that is rare in these days and that was he gave brutally honest criticism that was usually right on the mark.  He told people who just didn’t have it the truth and he told those that did what they needed to know about themselves to get better.  He wasn’t there to win a popularity contest and our President could learn from him.  Some of the most telling moments in the show were to see how the contestant would react to his criticism.   Hard as it could be, listening and learning was the only path forward and we saw egos and immaturity in play.  That is what made the show interesting.  With Simon gone, the hype is all that is left with judges more self-serving than helpful.  Sound like our cast of political representatives?

24 has been one of my favorite shows for its pure suspense and entertainment value.  In order to watch it one has to suspend their disbelief and recognize that it is a comic book.  That apparently is lost on some politicians who think this show offered a model for America’s way forward.  But like the whole history of the show, the ending and its lessons were a jumble of contradictions.  The whole show was pinned on the premise that if you are right, the ends justify the means.  Define right.  Jack Bauer is the one guy who sees the truth and the system is always getting in his way from him saving the world.  So Jack is justified in violating every law and moral precept in his quest to right the wrong.  It is a fun fantasy we all have about punching that moronic boss or slapping down some irritating jerk.  I always fantasized about mounting a rocket launcher on my car to enforce civility in traffic.  But it is a fantasy and of course the unintended consequences are worse than the initial transgression.

The fatal flaw in all this was played out in the finale.  In becoming the savior of the world, he also became the problem.   How is that logic any different from a Muslim or any other religious conservative’s belief that their right supersedes your right?  In employing any means to your end, you become what it is that you protest and revile. So the story was a fun fantasy, but the very same thinking is what brought us Columbine and other atrocities to “right wrongs”.  Somewhere in there our values get lost in our attempt to protect our values.

And finally Lost, the other Jack.   At first I thought the end was satisfying and then I realized that it left me empty.  In a short sentence, they went for the crowd pleaser, not the real human tragic experience.  Everyone lives (dies) happily ever after.  That outcome would have been okay if this show had not exposed us to the flawed characters we came to love.  The show was interesting not because of the science fiction or the bizarre, but because the characters themselves were us.  The plot was simply a mechanism to display the real story of human character and the possibility for redemption.  That is what drove this story and happily ever after just didn’t cut it.  Life really is about living in the moment and we were to believe that the only moment in these people’s lives that counted was the island?  Maybe for some, as some can never let go of their war experiences.  But some of the characters definitely escaped the island and lived out lives.  Were those lives inconsequential after the island?  I don’t buy it.  Sawyer was still an angry man and Kate was forever a narcissist.  Well maybe narcissist is not the right word, but she never thought ahead and was like Sawyer, impulsive with her own self interest considered first.  Now in the after life all this is resolved?

So I found this ending lacking any meaning or depth.  Don’t worry, it will all work out?  How come Benjamin was not reunited with his daughter?  Maybe he was in transition zone before the white light.  If that is the case, why go into the white light? But the ending denied the reality of life and death in giving us a simple happier ever after and in doing that did not stay consistent with the stories real underlying strength, the complexity and grays of our human experience.  How would this have played out if Kate or Sawyer had found real love after the island?  Then the island would have been a transition for them, but not the culmination of their life.  I am sorry but I wanted an ending that left me more exposed to the contradictions of life and ourselves.  Instead I got Sleeping Beauty waking up with a kiss from her Prince Charming.  Nice, but what happens when they get old and the prince leaves his underwear on the floor or snores?  Life and death just isn’t that simple and that is what makes it so interesting.

Responsible Party

We keep talking as though the oil spill in Louisiana is some economic event that can be compensated by a few dollars or we talk euphemistically about the “clean up” as though this is just something that with some elbow grease we can erase.  It is neither.  It is a catastrophic event that will wreck lives, their way of life, and the environmental damage may be irreparable.  This is slowly starting to dawn on some Louisianans like the ever shriller Bobby Jindal who is realizing his political neck is on the line.  It is still apparently not dawning on the President as we may be seeing his Katrina moment.

The oil spill in Louisiana is a national calamity and yet the Administration is treating it much as George Bush treated Katrina in its early stages, an exercise in spin control instead of a call for national action.  One has to wonder how you could be so out of touch with reality.  One can understand their cluelessness about the problem since we have turned our government into a permit issuing institution for fast tracking oil exploration instead of a scientific and technological institution for understanding the risks of employing this technology and making sure there are proper safeguards.  As Admiral Allen, Chief of the Coast Guard and leading the response, said yesterday to the question of why we don’t take it over, “And replace BP with what?”

This in fact is the crux of the issue and no doubt another missed opportunity to show how the Jindals, Palins, Becks, Buchanans, Reagans, Bushs, and conservative Republicans in general have dismantled and disparaged government to the point of being nothing more than a tool for corporations.  This along with the Wall Street fiasco should tell you everything you need to know about getting government out of our lives.  As ex-Governor Elliot Spitzer said yesterday, they have succeed in socializing the risk and privatizing the profits.  Well they were successful and oil is a gushing and the banking system is a mess.

But the real failure of leadership is once again sitting in the oval office.  Here is a chance to step up, point out the obvious and then assemble a team of national experts from all the oil companies and solve this problem.  Forget about all the legalize about responsible party.  The goal is to stop the oil flow first.  Instead our President has been asleep at the wheel and slow to understand the national urgency of this problem.  Right now Jindal and Palin are accusing him of being in big oil’s pocket for his lack of action.  That should tell you something both about hypocrisy and a failure of leadership.

But probably the biggest lesson here is my original point.  We continue to talk about the economic impact and we are missing the larger picture.  Dollars and cents don’t even begin to describe the damage.  It is like that MasterCard commercial:  Cost of the loss of oil, $100 billion.  Cost of the loss of life, natural and human, destruction of the gulf ecosystem, and loss of generations of family businesses, priceless.  If someone destroyed the Mona Lisa, we could talk about it in terms of dollars, but the loss of the art on our soul cannot be measured.  That is what is happening in the gulf and we still talk as though this can be fixed.  It can’t and the damage will be irreparable.  This is what the drill baby drill morons have wrought and it is time we point it out.  Where the hell are you President Obama?  Oh, busy issuing additional permits for deep water drilling because we can’t be rash can we?  When are you going to get a clue?  What a disappointment. BP may be the responsible party for paying damages, but who is the responsible party for leading the nation?  Wait a minute, let me check the latest political poll.

Laughing Out Loud – You Got What You Asked For

We are hearing cries and demands for the Federal Government to take over the oil spill response. Who are you kidding? The government neither has the expertise or the equipment to accomplish this. At the demand of Republicans and many sad Democrats, all this was turned over to the industry. We have this activity that can cause catastrophic damage to our country and we let the market place regulate itself. Now the government is helpless to do anything about it. It is beyond belief when I listen to Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan demand government action when they were the leaders of smaller government and drill baby drill.

Maybe now some of you, “Get government out of our lives” idiots will understand that we gave away our ability to protect ourselves. Government should have not only been regulating them, but deep into their business and technology to understand the risk, and to understand what our options are in the case of a blowout at these depths. If the technology was not sufficient to respond, then they should have prevented any drilling. But you guys want government out of the market place. Hope you like petroleum marinated oysters and a dead Louisiana Coast.

This is watch out what you wish for. Demanding that Obama Administration take over is understandable, but since you stripped them of their ability to even understand the technology being employed what the hell do expect them to do. As Admiral Allen said today as the White House Press Conference when pressed why the White House isn’t stepping in and replacing BP, “Fine replace BP with what?”  Welcome to future you have worked so hard for and why listening to morons like Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan is a disaster waiting to happen.  You are now reaping what you have sowed.  You have socialized the risk and privatized the profit and now the risk is coming home.  This is the direction the country has move in the last 30 years.  Like it?

A Wakeup Call

It would seem that nothing changes and we learn nothing.  Here is just a short reminder of the issues that just won’t go away if we refuse to do something different to solve them:

  • The American Academy of Science recently concluded, ““Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”  But we have a climate bill languishing in the Senate and our talking heads still give deference to deniers as though they are walking on eggshells.  Once again the mindless and ignorant are controlling the debate in our ever backwards country.  It amazes me how people who have so little understanding of science and the scientific method become leading critics of science.  (Are They Paying Attention)
  • North Korea, with out a doubt, sunk a South Korean ship with a torpedo in an effort to affect internal North Korean politics.  This should really frighten you.  I spent several years flying in South Korea way back in the 70s and things have not changed much.  A war there would be a disaster and the world is unprepared for a conflict on that level.  North Korea is a concentration camp and a hell on earth.  The fact that the rest of the world lets this monstrosity continue is a shame on all of us. (Korean Tensions Grow)
  • Bobby Jindal and other morons from Louisiana are demanding more action out of BP and the federal government to control the oil spill.  Why morons?  These are the drill baby drill cheer leaders who wanted to turn back stimulus money and are afraid of big government, but are now screaming for big government and big corporations to come solve a problem of their own making.  Did they cause the oil spill?  No, but they set up an environment where it was inevitable while denying the risks.  Now they want someone else to bail them out.  Government is only bad until you need it.  I wonder if Louisiana with their almost total dependence on the oil economy will understand that the bill for that dependence is the loss of everything that made them a unique culture?  (Louisiana Officials Threaten Action)
  • It appears that a study of how large corporations are contributing has seen a major shift to Republicans.  Apparently the large corporations and Wall Street are angry at President Obama for his half hearted attempts to control Wall Street and level the playing field for regular Americans.  One would think that President Obama would finally understand that there is no moderate way here.  You accomplish little and they want to destroy you anyway.  Will he ever wake up to the epic fight we are in for our souls?  Doesn’t look like it.  (Old Enemies)

It seems to me that people are really frustrated and angry at the current state of affairs, but then they continue to take the easy way out, which just extends the current state of affairs.  The ex-HP executive that is trying to unseat Barbra Boxer is blaming everything bad that has happened on her.  Are conservatives really that stupid?  Do they think that 12-years of a Republican pro-business Congress and 8-years of a Republican President had nothing to do with the problems we face?  If anything they should be mad at Democrats for accommodating them.  But Americans apparently can’t quite get the cause and effect thing sorted out in their minds and will vote Republican next go around “to cut taxes, get government out of our lives, and let the market place solve our problems” while putting the people and Corporations who caused our problems back in the drivers seat.

I wonder how bad it really has to get before the light dawns?  The answers to the problems we face are simple and straightforward.  Problem is, we don’t have anyone with enough guts to fight for them.  I miss FDR.  At least he understood the fight.  In his famous 1936 Madison Square Garden Speech he said:

For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace‹business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me‹and I welcome their hatred.” Click here and you can listen to the speech.  Sadly it could be given today without any changes.  Madison Square Garden Speech

Well Franklin got it.  Will Obama ever wake up or is he just part of the problem?

A Constant State of Amazement

Well it is a lovely morning in late May in Camino where we had another frost.  I have never seen weather like this before and the grape crop could be badly damaged.  It looks like late March in the vineyard, not late May.  My wife was at the local farmer’s market yesterday where one of the local smart asses commented sarcastically about global warming and she gently pointed out to him that this was climate change. The raising temperatures in some areas change our overall weather patterns.   He said well whatever, but it was not affecting him.  She pointed out that most of the fruit farmers up here are facing major damage.  They believe what they want to believe that is convenient to their selfish world view.

Meanwhile the local paper recorded that over 100,000 teachers are going to be laid off next year across the nation.  But not to worry, we have new Texas school books that have reinterpreted history so we can sit at home and spin our own fictional account of the world.  Oh,  did I mention they want to deny the Enlightenment and bring religion back into government?  That ought to help us solve the grave crises we face.  With a lack of understanding of history or reality, we will be well equipped to tackle the problems we face.  Sarah Palin come to mind?  Oh, and did I mention that the two Republican candidates for Governor are both chanting we will run government like a business.  Where have we heard that before?  At least as well as Enron, BP, or Wall Street. Yep, they made lots of money, but the resulting damage was catastrophic.  All and all a fun Sunday morning in Camino.  The inmates have taken over the asylum.

In Tom Friedman’s column this Sunday morning (Bumper to Bumper)  he had a great quote from Winston Churchill  which seems so apropos this morning:  “You can always trust the Americans. In the end, they will do the right thing, after they have eliminated all the other possibilities.” Right now we seem to be in the process of eliminating all other possibilities in our flights of fantasy about our reality and our history.  I think this morning I will just do what everyone else seems to be doing and participate in a little escapism.  Lost comes on at nine this evening and I am focused on what becomes of Jack, Kate, Sawyer, et. al.  It makes life so much simpler.

Nominations for States I will Never Visit Again

I can’t decide whether Kentucky gets the honor this week for their primary election of Rand Paul or Texas for their attempt to rewrite history to satisfy their religious conservatives and dumb down their students. I think I have to go with Texas as the most backwards place in the country right now.  And I thought we had reached a low point in Arizona.  Just how far we can regress never ceases to amaze me.

Logical Conclusions

Rand Paul got into a little hot water when his libertarian beliefs were tested to their logical conclusions on Rachel Maddow’s show the other evening (MSNBC).   I found it painful to watch.  Libertarian beliefs have a place in early 1700 and 1800 prairie life, but little relevance in our highly interconnected and interdependent economy and society that has evolved today.  Basically Libertarians believe that liberty is everything and government has little role in their lives. “Libertarianism encompasses all or most of the following: strong support of individual civil liberties, social tolerance, and private property; belief in the positive powers of the free market; and an espousal of constitutionally limited and greatly reduced government. To put it succinctly, the libertarian believes in the freedom of individuals to pursue their lives as they see fit, as long as they cause no harm to others, with minimal governmental interference” (

It has an appeal to all of us in that we would all like the freedom to do what we please with little interference by government.  Rand’s Father, Ron Paul, has made some great arguments that government has no business trying to nation build in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Many libertarians want to see government get out of the drug business and let people make their own choices.  I am sympathetic to both of these points of view, but not on philosophical grounds, but on practical ones.  Our present policies are ineffective and waste our treasury accomplishing nothing.  But agreeing with a policy stand of a particular group is very different from buying into the political philosophy.

Rand got in trouble because his belief in personal choice lead him to the conclusion that government has no business telling businesses who they can serve.  If they received public funds, he had no problem, but if not, there should be no government interference.  So that would say that Macy’s could decide it did not like Jews and would not sell to them.  He justifies this using the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.  People can think what they like, can voice it, and according to Libertarian belief, should be free from government interference to act upon it.  What he is saying is that while government should protect minority rights in any interaction with government, private interactions should be governed by the beliefs of private individuals.  So Woolworth’s could deny blacks seating at the lunch counter.

But Libertarian beliefs want to see government out of our lives.  Do away with public education, environmental regulation, government interference with the market place, taxes, social security, Medicare, and on and on.  The devil is in the details.  I have a friend who is a staunch conservative, but was appalled that his neighbor could erect something on his property could impact his property values.  Oh those pesky zoning regulations except of course when they protect our rights.  So for the simple minded, getting government out of our lives seems like a good thing, until we take it to its logical conclusion.  There is that pesky disaster in the gulf that is Libertarian philosophy run amuck.  Then there is that unregulated market place that almost destroyed the world economy.  We used to have some of the most polluted rivers and streams in the world and then we regulated businesses through the EPA.  No public education?  What that really says is screw the poor.  What Rachel showed us in a moment of clarity was the logical extension of putting this philosophy to work and its logical conclusion. She also showed how little many people think about the meaning of a particular philosophy or understand how they benefit from the present system they want to chuck.

Libertarian philosophy is like so much of conservative Republican thought.  At its very basis is the justification of selfishness.  “I have got mine and I have no obligation to the greater society because they are all lazy and would have theirs if they worked hard like I did.”  There is no recognition of the basic unfairness of life.  “I should have the freedom to do whatever I want to and government should not interfere with that freedom.”  Except that we are all interconnected and some of us have more advantages than others.  That what I may choose to do may profoundly affect your quality of life.  Libertarianism as a political philosophy ignores these realities and is why like most dogmatic beliefs, it is just another dead end.  The world is grey and anything that makes it black and white should give you pause for concern.

Note:  In the Sacramento Bee there was an article about the Republican primary and how the candidates have turned right to appeal to the base.  One conservative interviewed considers herself “a real conservative”, because she opposes abortion and believes government should live within its means.  I found this funny because she thinks government should be involved in your most personal decisions, certainly not a libertarian.  But who doesn’t think government should live within their means?  The primary difference is that I think most things they do are important and we should raise taxes to pay for them.  She doesn’t think government is worth her investment.  Just who is more responsible here?