Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writing letters

What could be more fun than using Ron Kim’s city e-mail address to sign him up for every known pornography and spam site on the world-wide Web? Well, writing the city’s Public Safety commissioner a letter explaining why many rational thinkers among the public aren’t behind his ill-fated push for a new, monolithic police station.

Earlier this month, Kim implored residents to chime in with their thoughts about the police station, in a move that could have initially been viewed as an uncharacteristic moment of consensus building for the shoot-first-ask-questions-later brand of politics he typically enjoys.

So this humble scribe took some time this week to shoot the good commissioner a message of explanation for why the general public isn’t on board with his new public safety facility. Maybe seeing it in words might give him an idea why many view his politically motivated project as a looming disaster for taxpayers:

“As you may or may not know, we’ve never really seen eye-to-eye, absent several uncomfortable run-ins on the street. So I’ll be short and to the point in this missive: Saratoga Springs does not need 45,000-square-feet of law enforcement building. Even the entire goddamn expanse of Saratoga County doesn’t need this much space to ensure their ability to protect the public’s safety. This is why I and many of other residents will vociferously fight any proposal of this magnitude –even if it only costs a pair of surplus cop cruisers and a free ride on the police horse.

“Let’s break it down: 30,000-square-feet of police station will more than quadruple the space the cops use now. Such a station will be on the size and magnitude of one now in use by the Schenectady City Police; perhaps even larger. Having this much space seems a bit superfluous unless you, as the czar of our city’s public safety, are envisioning Schenectady-like crime in the coming year. I’m thinking that you don’t, or aren’t saying so publically at this point.

“Next we have 15,000-square-feet for the city’s court administration, another remarkably large jump in space. While you may dupe some voters into thinking this is the only court our miscreants appear in, I’m not nearly as gullible. Most significant felonies are transferred to the county level, meaning the space you propose to build will go toward arraigning drunks, parking offenders, a growing number of family court cases and other lesser crimes appearing before a city magistrate.

"Expanding the halls of justice to prepare for more of these cases insinuates the anticipation that more of these so-called crimes will soon be finding their way into the third floor of city hall, possibly due to an expanding and more militant police force hitting the streets. I am extremely uncomfortable with this notion. Let's also not forget the cost of maintaining a structure that dwarfs the larger houses of worship around the city. Ask some of the local clergy what it costs to heat and power some of these structures and you'll understand why they're passing around the collection tin a bit more often these days. And think: they don't have a bunch of rowdy miscreants and coffee-swilling cops rolling through their halls on a daily basis. The cost of repairs alone on such a structure could rise into the tens of thousands of dollars.

“The bottom line, Mr. Kim, is that we do not live in New York City, nor Schenectady or Albany for that matter. While there is certainly crime in the Spa City –something that is inevitable in any population –there isn’t nearly enough to precipitate the dreadfully oversized public safety facility you propose to build. Maybe if you tried simply doubling the size of the station, I and other voters of my ilk would be a bit more interested in hearing your case. But your undying insistence that the city build a justice center the size of a Wal-Mart supercenter really makes me wonder what city you live in and where you find the justification for saddling such a fiscal burden on the middle and lower class taxpayers.

“Politics is a nasty game, Mr. Kim, especially when it puts the desires of the politically motivated before the needs of the voters. I don’t claim to know all the inner workings of city government, but I do know this goddamn public safety building has nothing to do with providing sanctity for the residents you purportedly serve. This is about a vote grab among the city’s Police Benevolent Association, which wants far more station than the community needs. After all, their endorsement makes a mighty nice feather in the cap of someone running for re-election or dare I say higher office.

“So do the working class a favor and come back with something realistic. It’s not only cost that is a concern. It’s the size and what you’re already-too-large department plans on doing with the added space. For once in your career, do what is right for the city, not your political cronies. Come back with a new station that suits everyone properly. I eagerly await your response.”

Naturally, there has been no response either from Kim or Mayor Scott Johnson, who was the other government official contacted via e-mail. No surprises there. But what is a surprise is the fact that the City Council appears to be moving forward towards Kim’s endgame without acknowledging any of the aforementioned concerns. In fact, they’ve recently postured to issue a ‘request for proposal’ from private developers, asking for plans to build the 30,000-square-foot station and adjoining 15,000-square-foot courthouse. They also unanimously included a “token” $3 million line-item in the capital budget as a good faith measure for the project moving forward. Yikes.

Still no answer about what the council will do with the old police station. Still no answer about the estimated impact of adding 45,000-square-feet of public building space to the city’s load of tax-funded facilities. Still no answer about how big they plan to grow the police department once the mighty castle is built. Some might say answering these questions now would be putting the cart before the horse. Others might find a bit of solace in know exactly the debacle the council is arranging here to appeal to a small, but powerful city union.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today NYS is facing a loss of 40,000 jobs and 3 billion in revenue that will trickle down to you and me sooner than later. Meanwhile, the City is getting ready to advertise a RFP to build a fortress for its police that regardless of the knowledge that the projected first costs (10- 14 million dollars) represents only 5% of it total costs in equipment and people maintenance over 20 years. I guess public tantrums and tirades work after all.

A sought after developer for the city property, will soften the first costs but not the rest or the 95% resident tax payments. What will we do with the vacated space? To quote one cavalier Commissioner, "We'll fill it up!"

No one has ever determined the required size of a Public Safety Department (or any other for that matter) for a city of our size. The County Sheriff maintains its jurisdiction (paid for in part by resident County taxes) over our Greenfield and Wilton neighbors yet it is the very vocal city employees who live there that are loudest in their demand for a new facility.

The greenest or LEED certified building is the smallest and most efficient solution and one that utilizes our existing building.

Have we spent the last three years demanding a building that potentially more than doubles the potential size of a department that may very well be sufficiently sized but ineptly managed? Has anyone paid attention to the financial news? It's like Detroit building SUV's when the price of oil was rising and the demand was falling away. Who pays these pipers?

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to have woken up in some bizarre parallel universe. I find a Republican Mayor fighting for a Rec center and a waterfront park while the progressive democratic Public safety head wants to bankrupt the city with some kind of FORT KIM.

I must have mistakenly believed that Democrats were for parks and republicans were pro police. But not in crime ridden Saratoga were our progressive Public Safety Commissioner wants a fortified bunker {no doubt to hold off a counterattack by the McTygue boys} a swat truck {McTygue has been linked to al Qaeda you know} a flame thrower and a boat for Kim’s Navy. I remember when our local police were a community department with close links to the citizens but it sounds more like Kim wants a private militia perhaps to guard NIXUM’S new headquarters that Ron and Val are planning. I swear if this was South America I’d think Kim was planning a coup.

Somebody wake me up when this is over. 2010 can’t come fast enough.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Finance Commissioner plans to cut 4 million from the budget. Now is the time to get rid of the Community Underveloper and question the need for the proposed size of Fort Apache.

Some in our present Public Safety Department believe that the proposed Malta chip manufacturing plant will so impact this community's ability to handle the traffic (adding more illegal trucks downtown) and add to the woes of SSPDBlue that they have to be rough and ready for this impending population storm. The County Sheriff and the State Police will serve the people who are coming (if they are coming). This planned model is nothing more than self absorbed and self-centered financial disaster - and the Chip Plant is nothing more than a land deal that we're fast becoming part of.

The Finance Commissioner's presentation on the 7th coming on the heals of recent State announcements will need to be just as sobering. Eighteen holding cells and a Pilate room may simply be too extravagant for this Town.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us begin by speaking to bizarro world; think of the field of dreams line: "if you build it, they will come".

In that bizarro world, 'Kim commish' has seen the future; Saratoga will become the new crime capital of upstate shortly, as overextended people are foreclosed upon in droves and have to survive on the mean streets. Union avenue lined with 'will work for food'ers', panhandlers fighting over the best spaces on broadway, offering tourists a chance to be squegeed; and/or horse-squatting on the paper-mache equines: "of course, i'll get off so you can take a polaroid, sir. Most people offer me a dollar for keeping your photo-op clean, however..."

Hmmm.... FYI I got dibs on the mirrored one- always enjoy a good acid flashback while waiting for the next mark.

What is yet to be revealed is what will occupy the vacated old police station: Wal-mart has expressed interest in placing their new specialty store's: Wal-Pawn and Wal-Bail. The rest of the sq. feet will be the northern branch of DiCarlo's.

Against this backdrop, it truly can be opined that 'Kim impossible" is not thinking of enough square footage for his new LE palace, and therefore should be impeached for lack of vision.

In the real world, he should seize the one campaign vision inspired by Ghandi: he should go on a hunger strike and live in one of the obsolete cells until his lips crack from lack of sustenance.

To quote bizarro world's Chairman Mao's red book:

"This is a time whose idea has come."

Side note: can someone introduce a resolution that all commissioners disclose their current presciption medications? this would explain quite a bit...

OK: back to field of dreams: how 'bout a petition against the use of public funds? Something along the lines of: "if you waste our money, we will leave."

Of course, that will lead to the loss of tax base and increase of lawlessness that only a visionary like Mahatma Kim obviously foresees.

Glad to help cut through the clutter as always.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Kim read Jim Kunstler's novel about the coming storm, where starved backyard redneck militias will be prowling the region, looking for food and fuel.

Kim, being the good public servant he is, believes the city must protect itself from these armed hoodlumns. The only answer is for us to stand our very own army.

He will announce a conscript/draft plan in his State of the City speech. Yes, he IS running for mayor. It is believed that he will call for 2,000 soldiers.

That, people, will require a giant armory-like fortress to house and train these cadets.

So, all of you that have been claiming that this fortress is meant to house the NXIVM world headquarters are wrong. That will be a distinct and seperate project, most likely located on the site of the present day Holiday Inn.

Mr Kim is simply doing what is best for us citizens.

He truly is a wonderful man. And a lawyer too!

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, wait, I know the answer! The SSPD can build in the Luther Forest Tecnology Campus and Saratoga Springs can pay for the County Water Plan! AMD won't be coming after today's wonderful news from the FEDS.
Contact Information:

For more information about Luther Forest Technology Campus please contact:

Take notice of the addresses -- They aren't located in Malta?

Michael Relyea, Esq.
Luther Forest Technology Campus
28 Clinton Street
Saratoga Springs, NY
12866-2191 USA
1-800-587-0945 (in US)
fax: 518-587-5855

Jon M. Dawes, Jr.
Vice President
Luther Forest Technology Campus
28 Clinton Street
Saratoga Springs, NY
12866-2191 USA
1-800-587-0945 (in US)
fax: 518-587-5855

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's start with the time it took to complete the steps on the building that the city wishes to vacate. Months late, although they promised business owners it would only be 6 weeks and be completed before racing season.

The granite for the steps, that came from a quarry in Vermont instead of looking at local suppliers, cost $60,000. $50,000 for concrete, $45,000 for brass railings and $50,000 for a radiant heat system. There is a waste of taxpayer money.

And why not look at vacant buildings in and around Saratoga itself that could be retro-fitted to serve as a new public safety facility? There are several buildings that could serve the purpose. That would save money, time, and use existing structures. But no - they need to build a brand new structure. What a waste.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you common folk are all overlooking a basic fact here:

We MUST build a palace worthy of Vanguard, if this city is to be the world headquaters of nxivm.

Does it make sense now?

Good now let's set a more appropriate budget of $35 million for this.

Any questions, call 5 Wells Street. Ask for Eileen or Thilo.

3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kim as mayor? kill me now!

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essentially says - well sort of

Maybe as mayor Kim will sort of figure out it is essential to manage costs. Or will he increase his city salary to sort of compensate for the time he will be away from his lawyer practice.

Perhaps the essential action is to sort of vote him out of any post he seeks.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


"The greenest or LEED certified building is the smallest and most efficient solution and one that utilizes our existing building."

Great fucking point. Are you reading this Ron Kim?!? Take that to your campaign next fall. Of course, utilizing the old facility wouldn't make any sense. We need new buildings, new spaces and new government positions to fill them. After all, I think Lew Benton needs another patronage job.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So do we!

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Post Star...

"FORT EDWARD — Washington County’s budget could increase by $3 million next year, according to figures presented to the Board of Supervisors by Budget Officer Gayle Hall this afternoon.

That projected spending increase — which is based on budget requests submitted by county departments — has some members of the Board of Supervisors concerned that a double-digit increase in the property tax levy is unavoidable."

Saratoga County and Saratoga Springs are facing the same price increases that these folks are.
Even more so, when you consider all of the new toys that we have been buying.
With the exception of Kim, It appears most of the council members realize the party is over with.

I think Johnson is giving Kim all the rope he needs to hang himself with.

With the election a little more than a year away Johnson is going to start letting the voters and the economy do the dirty work for him.

As for the police, I would think in this economic climate that they would be more concerned about keeping their jobs, keeping their hefty retirement package, and other costly benefits rather than worry about these proposed fancy new digs.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHY did i vote for a KIMmissioner who is the HOLY GRAYLE of NOT-voting? Does anyone but me remember-

Number 1-
When his FIRST big PS bluidling plan was voted down in City Hall, he stormed out of the meeeting with about a bazillion ccops and firemen who came to cheer for him.

Number 2-
At the end of the Publibs Hearing above City Hall in the Music Hall,
some man started yelling at the Mayor about bugdet stuff and the Mayor can not get money for a Safety Building IF the budget vote has no PS money. This man was angry and the Mayor said he was wrong and told him to sit down. KIMmission Ron wanted the man to speak until Ron got his money. But the rest of the councel disagreed.

As Mayor Johnson said the Hearing was closed, King Kim stormed off the stage into the back somewhere. The Mayor moved to ajourn and all FOUR at teh table voted to ajourn. KIMee instantly came back to the table to grab his stuf and run away.

HE can vote "NO."
HE can vote "ABSTANE."

But MY VOTE means NOTHING if the PERSON I VOTE FOR runs out of meetings to NOT VOTE.

So mmany votes end up 3 to 2 that KIM temper tantrems can leave a lot of 2 to 2 votes.

People fought and DIED so i can vote. But Ron Kim runs away like a rude child.

In other countries like England you can vote to recall a bad politcian and throw him out. Too bad we can not do that.

He is being payed by my tax money to show up and vote. Period.

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's Incertus...

"Sunday, September 21, 2008
I'd like to know who this is
so that at some undetermined point in the future, I can reward this Congressperson with a campaign contribution.

I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers....

I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family.

Via Atrios. And first thing Monday, call your Representative and your Senators, no matter whether they're members of your party or not, and tell them that to give a blank check to the most incompetent Presidency in history when they only have 4 months left in office is not only wrong, it ought to be criminal. Emailing is fine, but calling is more effective--shows more of a commitment.
Posted by Brian at 1:35 PM 0 comments"

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was it Wayne or was it Garth who mouthed these immortal words:

"I think I'm gonna hurl!"

WHoever it was; he accurately expresses my sentiments on this issue.

Kim's an idiot. Plain and simple.

Even more amzing is the fact that he's still smarter than most of his fellow Keehn nazis.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam Aldrich's letter to the editor gives me hope that this country is turning the corner.

I think we are on the precipice of electing a great leader at pivotal time in our history

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam Aldrich's letter was the rantings of a country club republican who believes that tax cuts for anyone are bad and kowtowing to international bullies and the UN is good foriegn policy. While I don't agree with much of what the current administration has done lately, I work for my money, I should keep it and the only thing the UN is doing is taking up valuable real estate and should be moved to Venezuela. Mr. Aldrich and the rest of the Rockefeller family have made it more expensive to live and work in New York. Their kind of thinking is not what we need in Washington. However, I'm not sure any of the current crop of candidates are the solution either.

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:53 Sam Aldrich's letter was measured and would hardly be considered a rant. Yet, for one who has worked for "his money" and wishes only to keep it, you share little with Mr. Aldrich's uncle. Sam lived here a good deal of his life and added to the fabric of this community however distant you choose to portray yourself from his "family".
Pity, that you have no idea how courageous a letter his was and how thought provoking.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

point of information, horatio::
could someone re-post sam aldrich's letter in toto without comment? thanks 2 all bloggers.

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratogian Letter: McCain's judgment has failed the nation

I am a lifelong Republican, and I normally keep my political convictions to myself, unless I am running for office, which I have done twice in my life. This year, I cannot keep still.

I believe John McCain is an American hero, whose sacrifice and character I respect, but whose judgment has failed us in several ways:

1. I believe that McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for vice president is catastrophic.

Her beliefs regarding Roe v. Wade would overthrow 30 years of American law regarding safe abortions during the first trimester of an unwanted pregnancy. The foolishness of her policy, not to supply teenage girls enough education to prevent their own pregnancy, is being vividly demonstrated by her own daughter.

By risking what is now both the law and almost universal practice in this country, which we will be doing if we elect her, is a prospect I find intolerable. Further, I am appalled at her efforts to censor library books. McCain's decision to pick her as his vice president demonstrates a lack of judgment.

2. Sen. McCain avoided voting eight times for bills which were intended to develop renewable energy resources. I am convinced that he must take a strong stand on this matter, and by not doing so, he has exhibited poor judgement. Offshore drilling is not a viable solution, in my judgement.

3. McCain has stated he sees no reasons for stronger regulations of our financial industries. This need is now being universally recognized, and clearly, his judgement was at fault.

By contrast, Obama has demonstrated, over a grueling primary campaign, many attributes I look for in a president: toughness, guile, intelligence, effective eloquence, remarkable ability to use modern technology, and the classiness first to overwhelm Hillary Clinton and then welcome her support. Moreover, his support for Roe v. Wade is clear and unambiguous.

My wife and I have five sons, four daughters and 17 grandchildren. For their sake, I cannot vote for our national Republican ticket this year. We need leaders who have good judgment, superior intelligence, integrity, cool heads and advisers who have the same. My wife and I have decided to vote for Obama-Biden, and urge our fellow citizens to do the same.

Alexander ("Sam") Aldrich
Saratoga Springs

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:53 AM said...

"However, I'm not sure any of the current crop of candidates are the solution either."

Well buddy, it's time we all starting thinking a little harder on who we want leading this country because in the last two elections we fucked things up pretty good by electing a person who lacks courage, character, and common sense.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know that simply pasting an email address onto a web site or blog, like this:

... will result in it being picked up by spambots, searcing for additions to porn site databases?

It's true.

Just trying to help...

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:07 Maybe you and Richard Werth should get on the carpet so Johnson can spend our money on a beach where people will never swim.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:07 – Isn’t it amazing that Schylerville’s municipal offices have been able to move into their new quarters at the renovated high school without any one of their elected officials demanding more expensive (and irresponsible) construction?
The Federal (State and municipal) government(s) is landlord to millions of square feet of historic office space that is renovated from time to time, not to mention that their new uses for the existing space is much “greener” than any other option one could build in its place.
Comparing the (open space) cost of “the beach” with (the exponential revenue funding required for) “the fortress” is like comparing grapes to watermelons. Maybe we should be looking at grapes to oranges? You think?
And you never know, you might like to stroll down to the beach some day, with your kids and grandkids or just with your fishing pole or kayak and try to fiqure out how you are going to pay your taxes.

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This will all get fixed when Ron is Mayor and Val and Roger are Supervisors.

You just wait and see.

8:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rolling Stone:

Sarah Palin is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the modern United States. As a representative of our political system, she’s a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers like Karl Rove. But more than that, she is a horrifying symbol of how little we ask for in return for the total surrender of our political power. Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Out of curiosity, Shot, was that written by Matt Taibbi?

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, he wrote it.

From Scholars and Rogues...
"Matt Taibbi is perhaps the premier political writer of his generation. He made his bones with Mark Ames at Russia’s legendary expat rag The eXile before moving on to The Beast and New York Press. He now writes for Rolling Stone and will soon release his fourth book, ‘The Great Derangement.’ He’s also covering the ‘08 campaign in a special RS diary entitled “Year of the Rat.” His caustic wit often compared to Hunter Thompson, he’s called Mitt Romney “a poll-chasing stuffed suit with a Max Headroom hairdo,” Tom Tancredo a “vengeful midget,” President Bush “a retarded Christian AA version of Woodrow Wilson” and gets Fred Thompson confused with Joe Don Baker."

While I was reading it I favorably likened it to some of your writings, such as the description, “she’s a new low in reptilian villainy, the ultimate cynical masterwork of puppeteers".

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Open Left....

“NOW They Weep
by: Paul Rosenberg
Wed Oct 08, 2008 at 05:16
(H/T Kos.) Mark Steyn at NRO gets email:
Well I have gone outside and pulled up my Mcain/Palin sign. This election is over. I will vote for Mcain but I know that come Nov. 5 Obama will be our president-elect.
I feel sorry for Sarah Palin. A once promising career will be permanently connected to the landside loss of John McCain.
I weep for my children and their families.
9/11. Enron. Katrina. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. 4180 US troops and up to 1.2 million Iraqi civilians dead. The biggest financial meltdown since Herbert Hoover. Attacking decorated veterans while defending a deserter.
And NOW they weep? Because they can't have another four years of the same?
These people are sick, sick, sick.
Kos is right:
If the lack of hate mail in recent days is any indication, their spirit really is broken. Now's the time for us to press the advantage and crush their movement for a generation or more.
The question isn't whether we get complacent. No one around these parts is getting complacent. The question is whether we take full advantage of what is shaping up to be a rout and truly press our advantage. Our enemy is on the retreat. We can't let them get away and regroup. It's time to crush them. Throw those anvils and
make more Republicans "weep".
It was 70 years since the last time they were totally in charge. This time, let's make it forever.”

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Huffington Post...

"David Brooks: Sarah Palin "Represents A Fatal Cancer To The Republican Party"
RSS stumble digg reddit news trust

Huffington Post | Danny Shea | October 8, 2008 02:09 PM
Read More: David Brooks, David Brooks Barack Obama, David Brooks Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin, Politics News
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David Brooks spoke frankly about the presidential and vice presidential candidates Monday afternoon, calling Sarah Palin a "fatal cancer to the Republican party" but describing John McCain and Barack Obama as "the two best candidates we've had in a long time."

In an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg at New York's Le Cirque restaurant to unveil that magazine's redesign, Brooks decried Palin's anti-intellectualism and compared her to President Bush in that regard:

[Sarah Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the Republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he'd rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn't think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.

Brooks praised Palin's natural political talent, but said she is "absolutely not" ready to be president or vice president. He explained, "The more I follow politicians, the more I think experience matters, the ability to have a template of things in your mind that you can refer to on the spot, because believe me, once in office there's no time to think or make decisions."

The New York Times columnist also said that the "great virtue" of Palin's counterpart, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, is that he is anything but a "yes man."

"[Biden] can't not say what he thinks," Brooks remarked. "There's no internal monitor, and for Barack Obama, that's tremendously important to have a vice president who will be that way. Our current president doesn't have anybody like that."

Brooks also spent time praising Obama's intellect and skills in social perception, telling two stories of his interactions with Obama that left him "dazzled":

Obama has the great intellect. I was interviewing Obama a couple years ago, and I'm getting nowhere with the interview, it's late in the night, he's on the phone, walking off the Senate floor, he's cranky. Out of the blue I say, 'Ever read a guy named Reinhold Niebuhr?' And he says, 'Yeah.' So i say, 'What did Niebuhr mean to you?' For the next 20 minutes, he gave me a perfect description of Reinhold Niebuhr's thought, which is a very subtle thought process based on the idea that you have to use power while it corrupts you. And I was dazzled, I felt the tingle up my knee as Chris Matthews would say.

And the other thing that does separate Obama from just a pure intellectual: he has tremendous powers of social perception. And this is why he's a politician, not an academic. A couple of years ago, I was writing columns attacking the Republican congress for spending too much money. And I throw in a few sentences attacking the Democrats to make myself feel better. And one morning I get an email from Obama saying, 'David, if you wanna attack us, fine, but you're only throwing in those sentences to make yourself feel better.' And it was a perfect description of what was going through my mind. And everybody who knows Obama all have these stories to tell about his capacity for social perception.

Brooks predicted an Obama victory by nine points, and said that although he found Obama to be "a very mediocre senator," he was is surrounded by what Brooks called "by far the most impressive people in the Democratic party."

"He's phenomenally good at surrounding himself with a team," Brooks said. "I disagree with them on most issues, but I am given a lot of comfort by the fact that the people he's chosen are exactly the people I think most of us would want to choose if we were in his shoes. So again, I have doubts about him just because he was such a mediocre senator, but his" capacity to pick staff is impressive."

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kind of like the staff that Val surrounds herself with!

8:57 AM  

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