You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2008.

Some will point to Sarah Palin’s accomplishments as mayor of Wasilla, and governor of Alaska and her success is clearing out corruption as her major qualification for national office.  Hopefully, the American people are ready for someone to lead the charge.   (Go get ‘em, Sarah!)

But I’m looking most forward to what Palin will bring to this campaign precisely because she is a mom.

Every mom knows deep down that if our children behaved like the professional American politician, we’d be dusting backsides.  (Fragile self-esteem be damned!)   I think it might be high time for someone to dust some political backsides.  And I suspect that Gov. Palin just may be the one to do it.

  • Moms know when you’re lying.
  • Moms know when you’re really hurt and when you just started screaming because you knew the cameras were on.
  • Moms know you know how not to whine.
  • Moms know when you talk nice, but mean nasty.
  • Moms know everyone else is doing it, and moms don’t care.
  • Moms know what’s really under the rug and how it got there.
  • Moms have eyes in the backs of their heads
  • Moms just know.

The Dems have been talking down to moms for years; it’s second nature to them now.

It’s only a matter of time before they step in it, and get reminded – It’s really not smart to mess with Mom.

Should be an interesting campaign to watch.

And I expect she’ll be an outstanding Vice-President –

and an outstanding President, when she gets her turn.

– Cyndy Shearer (wife of RedHatRob)


“I would rather live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” – William F. Buckley

It didn’t take 15 minutes after John McCain’s announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate before she was being denounced as “lacking experience.” This provoked guffaws of course, especially when the issued is raised from the campaign of Barack Obama, who is less than four years into his first term as a United States Senator.

There are two kinds of experience in elected office, and they are radically different. On the one hand, are those who are elected as legislators. On the other are those who are elected as executives. It is a mistake to lump them together.

I would value much more highly any presidential candidate’s experience as an elected executive – city mayor, county mayor, governor – than any candidate’s experience as a legislator. The experience of a legislator is vastly different. A legislator acts officially only when his legislative body is in session. He (or she) usually has the leisure of time to ponder positions, background papers, and briefings with a great deal of advance notice before actually having to make a decision, take a position or cast a vote. Not so an elected executive. They must make hundreds of important decisions on a daily, weekly, monthly basis – and they rarely if ever have the luxury of time.

In fact, Sarah Palin is perhaps the BEST qualified of the four (Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin) to assume the duties of the presidency.

And don’t even get me started about how small Wasilla is… or the fact that Alaska has a population considerably less than a million. Have you looked up the census figures on Delaware? Delaware has three counties and ONE congressman. Being elected to the US Senate from Delaware is not much tougher than being elected to the state legislature in many other states.

Delaware has 1,954 square miles making it the 49th smallest state. Anyone know how big Alaska is? Class? That’s right, Ferris. 656,525 square miles. Or roughly 335 times larger than Delaware.

Any other questions?

– Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)

Some of our best presidents have moved up from the office of Governor.

Look over this list of “modern” presidents (since Lincoln)

1860 Lincoln – Congressman from Illinois (he had served one term 1846-1848)
1868 Grant – General of the Army
1876 Hayes – Governor of Ohio
1880 Garfield – Congressman from Ohio (the only sitting congressman ever elected President)
1881 Arthur – Collector of the Port of New York (administrator of the Customs House)
1888 Harrison – Senator from Indiana
1892 Cleveland – Governor of New York
1896 McKinley – Governor of Ohio
1904 Roosevelt – Governor of New York
1908 Taft – Secretary of War
1912 Wilson – Governor of New Jersey
1920 Harding – Senator from Ohio (first sitting Senator ever elected President)
1924 Coolidge – Governor of Massachusetts
1928 Hoover – Commerce Secretary
1932 Roosevelt – Governor of New York
1948 Truman – Vice-President, Senator from Missouri
1952 Eisenhower – General of the Army
1960 Kennedy – Senator from Massachusetts
1964 Johnson – Senator from Texas
1968 Nixon – Vice-President, Senator from California
1976 Carter – Governor of Georgia
1980 Reagan – Governor of California
1988 Bush – Vice-President, Congressman from Texas
1992 Clinton – Governor of Arkansas
2000 Bush – Governor of Texas

Before we go judging Sarah Palin’s resume too harshly, it’s worth remembering a governor chosen vice-president a century ago.

A governor who had served less than two years of his first term when he was placed on the ticket as Vice-President.

He had reputation as a maverick with an explosive temper. As a state legislator, he had once threatened his committee members with a broken chair leg. His private life had caused raised eyebrows as well. When his wife died shortly after the birth of their first child, he abandoned his infant daughter to the care of relatives and fled town – not returning for almost three years.

He was only 41, and when he was unexpectedly elevated to the presidency the press and pundits of the day ranged from skeptical to scathing. He was dubbed “His Accidency.”

Nonetheless, Theodore Roosevelt went on to prove the critics wrong and proved quite successful as President. He remains the only US President to have won both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Which one of these looks more like Teddy to you?

– Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)


I am a sucker for pop-up books. I confess. My wife, children, and everyone who’s worked for Greenleaf Press over the years can confirm this.

I find them fascinating. They are intricate solutions to design challenges – little machines made out of paper that magically transform from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional as you turn the pages.

I have finally found what I think is the ultimate high-brow pop-up book. After all, it invokes The British Museum on the cover! The Ancient Egypt Pop-Up Book in association with The British Museum.

And it really is wonderful.

There is a marvelous pop-up Egyptian boat.

Complete with a shaduff on-shore, showing how the Egyptians raised water from the Nile for irrigation.

There is the warrior-Pharaoh Rameses II in his fighting chariot at the battle of Kadesh.

There is a wonderful 3-D depiction of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri

Also included is a 3-D representation of Tut’s gold death-mask, and underneath, cleverly folded, is his mummified head.

The Ancient Egypt pop-up book is $29.95, available directly from Greenleaf Press.

Incidentally, in the background is a wonderful fold-out depiction of life in Ancient Rome, including views of the Senate, the colosseum, and daily life in a Roman villa.

The entire connected scene folds out to four feet long.

Rome: A Fold-Out History of the Ancient Civilization is $17.95, directly from Greenleaf Press.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher
Greenleaf Press

Obama Ex Machina.lores

cartoon by Pansy

– Rob Shearer

UPDATE: Several people have emailed me to complain that they don’t “get” the cartoon (aside from the Clinton pun on wench/winch). A “Deus ex machina” is a device from the plays of the ancient Greeks. They invented drama. Several of their playwrights were fond of resolving impossibly complicated situations by “flying in” a god at the very end who tidied up all the loose ends. The actor playing the god was lowered in over the top of the scenery using a winch, called in Greek, a “machina.” Hence, the phrase: “deus ex machina.”

Aristotle (the world’s first drama critic, among other things) was very critical of the playwrights who used this device. He likened it to cheating and insisted that plot complications should be resolved realistically in a way that was internally consistent with the action of the rest of the play and the characters.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

After the Olympics comes:

cartoon by Pansy

cartoon by Pansy

Hey Rocky! Watch this!

– Rob

Received today. Buckley is quite possibly, the funniest political satirist currently writing. P.J. O’Rourke might be his equal in the non-fiction essay, but for side-splitting laughs that skewer the political class in general and the politically correct in particular, you cannot beat Buckley. His first novel, The White House Mess, back in 1986 had me laughing out loud. Thank You for Smoking brutally savaged the world of Washington lobbyists. Boomsday, published last year, took on the impending conflict between the boomers and the gen-x & millennial generations.

Supreme Courtship is just plain fun. Imagine a frustrated, unpopular middle-of-the-road president who is so frustrated when the Senate rejects one of his Supreme Court nominees (because he wrote a less-than-enthusiastic review of To Kill a Mockingbird in his elementary school newspaper) that he sends up Judge Judy as his next nominee. Only imagine Judge Judy recast as a Texas drawling not-to-be messed with steel magnolia. The confirmation hearings alone are golden.

Sample lines:

The President had evolved into the sworn enemy of the majority of the United States Congress, whose members understand that their main job, their highest calling, their truest democratic function, is to take money from other states and funnel it to their own. What greater homage to the Founding Fathers and the men who froze at Valley Forge could there be than a civic center in Tulsa paid for by the taxpayers of Massachusetts?

Senator Dexter Mitchell despised President Vandercamp because he had vetoed S. 322, a bill Mitchell had sponsored that would have required every helicopter rotor blade in the U.S. military to be made in his home state of Connecticut.

“Judge,” Senator Shimmerman began, “I wonder if perhaps you might tell the committee a little about your judicial philosophy.”

“Basically, do your best to keep an orderly courtroom. Make sure everyone abides by the rules. Punish the wicked and acquit the innocent. That’s about it. Want to fast-forward to Roe v. Wade?”

If you’re the slightest bit interested (and irreverent) about politics and politicians, you will love this book – and probably be laughing out loud at more than one passage.

And if Buckley hasn’t already started on a movie script and pitched the part of Judge Pepper Cartwright to Dolly Parton, he’s crazy. I had Dolly in mind about two pages into the book!

– Rob Shearer

Fair Warning: Buckley has no qualms about accurately transcribing the colorful vocabulary of some of his characters. I tend to mentally block and skip the “f” & “s” words, but not everyone can.

Makes me long for the days of Ronaldus Magnus, when this really was part of the Republican platform.

Hat tip to Neal Boortz, via Jack Lewis for the following bit of comedy from the BBC Comedy series, Yes, Prime Minister. The series ran from 1986 to 1988, and was reportedly, the favorite TV show of Margaret Thatcher.

– Rob Shearer, Director
Schaeffer Study Center

Next summer will be the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I was 14 that summer, and was glued to the TV listening to Walter Cronkite describe what had happened, and what was about to happen.

It was a staggering scientific and engineering accomplishment. There is now an excellent children’s/young adult book that captures the excitement of that historic July day from forty years ago.

The subtitle of the book accurately sums up the focus of the text: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon.

The book opens, not with shots of the astronauts on the moon, but rather with pictures of hundreds of people gathered to watch the grainy black & white TV pictures beamed back live from the moon. There is a shot of several dozen workers at Grumman (who built the Lunar Lander) crowded around a TV. There is a shot of thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Central Park watching an outdoor TV screen. There is a crowd in Milan, Italy watching a TV on the sidewalk of a café – and there are the anxious faces of the team at mission control watching the coverage as well.

After a brief background on Kennedy’s announcement of the goal, the book begins a detailed account of the landing attempt and the six challenges (most unexpected) faced by the crew. The first challenge was an overloaded computer began failing and sounding alarms. The second challenge was that the landing area was littered with boulders and Armstrong had to fly the Lander past it to a safer spot. But there was very little margin in the fuel supply. In simulations, he had always landed with over 2 minutes reserve left. On the real landing attempt, the flight controllers called out the 120 second warning, then the 60 second warning, then the 30 second warning. Armstrong finally got the Lander down with only 18 seconds of fuel left in reserve. I won’t give away the other problems, but suffice it to say , that there was a lot of fancy footwork going on in Mission Control that was not reported at the time!

This is a great book for any kids who have an interest in the space program and the history of Apollo. The 80 pages are laid out with full page photography on every page – and a very engaging text.

Reading level is 5th/6th grade and up. Team Moon is a hardback, 80 pages, full color. The price is $19.95, direct from Greenleaf Press

– Rob Shearer
Publisher, Greenleaf Press

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing is one of those wonderful stories that is so delightful, one’s first reaction is to wonder if it were really true. It has wonderful elements of Americana and New York City history: The Brooklyn Bridge, P.T. Barnum, the Circus, and a publicity stunt to promote the safety of the new bridge and, oh, by the way, get some free front-page publicity for the Circus.

The Bridge was one of the wonders of the Industrial Revolution. Begun just after the Civil War, in 1869, it took fourteen years to build. The bridge joins downtown Manhattan with downtown Brooklyn. The two towers, at 275 feet above the water, dwarfed anything else in the New York skyline when they were built. The were the equivalent of a 25 story building – at a time when the tallest buildings in Manhattan were only five stories tall.

New Yorkers had watched the construction of the bridge for fourteen years. There was some skepticism about whether the bridge could possible stand, with its woven wire cables carrying a thousand-foot long stretch of roadway a hundred feet above the water. Who wanted to go a hundred feet up in the air on a bridge that might fall? Other bridges had fallen. How could anyone know that this one could be trusted? A hundred feet up in the air? That was twice as high as the roof of the tallest building in the city!

Phineas T. Barnum saw the opening of the bridge – and the skepticism of New Yorkers – as a great opportunity for some publicity for his circus.

When Barnum’s circus came to New York in April of 1884, the Circus parade up Broadway was led by the star of the show – Jumbo, the elephant. After the parade passed City Hall, it continued on towards the new bridge.

One after another,
The elephants press onward,
Silently trusting the wood planks and steel.
Five, six, then seven were crossing.
Ten, eleven – and still there were more!

How many elephants could the bridge hold?

This is fun book. The author of the text has done her research well. The illustrator, too, has studied the setting and the times and captures the feel of New York in the 1880’s – an era when new things were possible.

Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing
is a hardback, 32 pages, full color throughout. The price is $16.00, available directly from Greenleaf Press.

– Rob Shearer
Publisher, Greenleaf Press