November 23, 2008

c u later

hey, folks--
I'll be out of pocket for about a week.
Some friends offered to drive, so I'm off to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. I think I must be out of my mind but I'm gonna do it anyway: heading north just at the time when the first snows begin to fly in that area isn't my brightest idea. Given that it's Missouri, that could well mean freezing rain covered by snow. :(
Still, it's a chance to visit friends I left behind-- so, too good a chance to pass up.

So, will see you all when I get back. Meanwhile, there's hot-and-sour-soup in the fridge along with some Mongolian Beef with Noodles. And lemonade. And, some steeping tea in the cabinet. Help yourselves -- just, please, don't spill on the rug, ok?


I just garnered yet another label: ‘Fiscal Conservative’. Who’da thunk?

Allow me to digress for a moment. First of all, I consider myself to be pretty moderate. I perceive the policies and other stuff I agree with to be in line with plain, old common sense.
Things like:
Educating everyone equally—assuming we want an egalitarian nation that allows people to 1] live lives that aren’t filled with quiet [or not-so-quiet] desperation and 2] actually contribute to the greater good.
And, what's more, I'm willing to pay for this quality education for all. I believe it will more than pay for itself in the long run. To that end, I've never voted against a tax that would help the schools and our teachers.

Allowing other people to live their own lives without a lot of interference from me [or the government or anyone else, for that matter.] That includes GLBT’s, people [including women and the sick and the elderly] who want control of their own bodies, people who disagree with you and/or me and/or even the most “socially conservative” among us.
If people don’t scratch up my karma, I promise not to run over their dogma.

Including immigrants in our population IN our population. Not placing them on the fringes and threatening to deport them if they step out of line by asking to have their humanity acknowledged.

Living a personal life that is, by and large, pretty frugal. Don’t get me wrong—I live pretty comfortably, too. I don’t deny myself anything I actually need. I don’t even deny myself most of those things I want. But I’m not a huge consumer of high-end goods. I don’t shop as a panacea for boredom, buying anything that catches my momentary interest to bring home and add to a growing pile of stuff I’ll never use.

And, on a related issue, protecting the environment—even if the humans living in the same region as an endangered species or wetland or natural wonder or forest or coastline are inconvenienced. We are, after all, PART of the environment —not its Lord and Master— an acknowledgment we ignore at our own peril.
I think that that truism is becoming more and more stark as time goes on.

Apparently, though, from what I’ve been reading, these views put me to the far-left-of-left—almost a Commie-Pinko-Librul.
But, this morning, I heard a piece on the radio that coupled the word “moral” with the little passion play we all witnessed this week of multimillionaires carrying their tin cups to Washington D.C. in their private jets.
The idea that this was an immoral act seemed to be a novel one to the talking heads on that [NPR] radio show. I wonder what those deep-thinkers get paid. If they’da asked me, I coulda told em that that was a profoundly immoral act.
Just as what AIG and the other banking institutions have been doing with the $300 billion they've received is immoral.

And, at last, Congress earned my seal of approval when it spanked the hands of the Big 3 and sent them to bed without supper. At least Congress learned from its latest mistakes.

[fwiw, I do believe we should bail out the Big 3—but on terms and with well-thought-out conditions. Multi-million dollar salaries, bonuses and private jets not included.]
If that makes me a Fiscal Conservative, I guess it’s a label I can live with.

My point here is this:
FINALLY our pundits and politicians are waking up to the fact that morality doesn’t consist of going to church, keeping your pants zipped when appropriate, wrapping yourself in the Flag and brandishing the Cross at election-time and trying to force everyone out there to agree with your own narrow views. There are broader, more inclusive views that are moral—and it’s time Congress realized it.
And, one more thought on the matter:
If I read, just one more time, that these tolerant viewpoints are held exclusively by the young, I'm going to vomit or scream or both.
I'm almost 61 years old, for God's sake! And I'm sick to death of being labeled Conservative and/or a Bible Thumper on that criterion alone!
I've held these views ever since I learned to think for myself—which was a while ago— like, ummm, high school, for what it's worth.

November 22, 2008

A Fresh Idea for the Conservatives

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria writes:
As conservatives survey the damage they have done to the Republican Party, they have fixed upon one comforting notion. John McCain lost the election, according to many of them, because he supported the surge in Iraq.
The fact is that had the surge failed, McCain would have lost. It succeeded, and he lost. The logical conclusion is that the surge was irrelevant to McCain's fate -- that there were broader reasons for the resounding Republican loss.
The Republican Party's social program is out of tune with an increasingly young, diverse and tolerant electorate.
As the conservative writer David Frum points out, "College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with the Democrats -- but that their values are under threat from Republicans." [emphasis added]
Click here for the complete text.
Just as, once upon a time, men wanted to keep women uneducated in order to be able to rule unhindered, so, now, Republicans would like to keep the masses uneducated for the same reason.

Sorry-- it's too late --that ship has sailed thanks to FDR's GI Bill and other Progressive policies. They're just going to have to suck it up and get used to the idea that, along the way, the electorate learned how to think. So they're going to have to come up with other ideas to get what they want from the rest of us.
They could do worse than to simply start telling us the truth.

November 20, 2008

Gawd, She's Good!
Michelle Bachman has now gone on TV to deny saying what she said on national TV two weeks ago.
In fact, she is now calling the fact that she accused the Democrats in Congress of being unamerican an "urban legend."

Excuse me, but I was watching Rachel Maddow when Maddow incredulously ask her to clarify her statement and Bachmann repeated what she had just said a second time.

And now, suddenly, she is claiming that the quote is an urban legend.
This takes a certain talent. Say something on national television, then go back on TV and deny that you said it. Amazing.
**wandering away from the keyboard shaking head in disbelief**

November 19, 2008

Drawing the Fangs

Obama Is Killing the GOP With Kindness -- Jacob Heilbrunn
Where Bush sought to polarize, Obama is taking the opposite approach. He wants to embrace the opposition. . . .
Click here for the complete text.
I'm going to inject a little religion here---sorrrrreeee---but, not being a government or religious institution, I'm not required to divorce religion and politics.
If I remember my New Testament correctly, in the verse following the passage where the Christ Soul tells us to turn the other cheek, he goes on to say, 'You will heap coals of fire upon his head.'

I've always read that to mean: 'Be good to those who are mean to you not in order to turn into a doormat but for a very pragmatic reason: he'll feel guilty and stop doing what he's been doing.'
Seems like pretty sound reasoning, to me.

November 16, 2008

Jimmy Kimmel, via U.S. News: "Obama held the first news conference today as president-elect. Some veteran White House reporters were a little bit confused because he didn't make up any words and almost everything he said made sense."

The Loss of Truth -- The Loss of Trust

George Packer -- The New Yorker -- November 7, 2008

[T]his has been the era of the permanent campaign, with the line between running for election and running the country practically erased. Bush took Karl Rove into the White House, turned policy into an arm of politics, and governed the same way he campaigned: treat the press as an out-of-favor interest group, control the message at all cost, repeat it incessantly regardless of changing facts, admit no mistakes, show no uncertainty, reward loyalists, and ignore critics or else, if necessary, destroy them. This approach to what’s known as strategic communications won Bush two elections; it also helped destroy his Presidency. Campaigning and governing are not the same. They are closer to being opposites.

In Iraq, Paul Bremer had a strategic-communications adviser named Dan Senor, who had come out of the world of Republican political operatives (a world he returned to after his year in Baghdad). Senor controlled the message coming out of the Republican Palace with all the determination of an Ari Fleischer. The message was: Iraq is on the road to democracy. Meanwhile, outside the Green Zone, the country was going up in flames. As a result, by May of 2004 no one believed what was coming out of Senor’s daily briefings. They had turned into the Iraq equivalent of the Five O’Clock Follies in Saigon.

It was worse than a simple breakdown of trust. The problem with strategic communications is that the White House that lives by it slowly becomes incapable of dealing with reality. When bad news comes, the impulse is to deny it, and that impulse turns into a mental habit. Eventually, those in power are the last to figure out the truth (in this sense, Katrina was a direct result of the kind of mentality that had already led to disaster in Iraq). The Administration can’t answer the arguments of its critics because it has long since stopped listening to them. It finds itself increasingly isolated, not just from potential supporters, but from the truth.
Click here for the complete text.

November 15, 2008

Jones vs. Schiavo -- Britain vs. US -- Sanity vs. Hysteria

The story of a 13 year old British girl who is refusing a heart transplant because she'd already been through enough pain reminds me that when you're looking for the right answer, humility may be as essential as wisdom.

Hannah Jones's leukemia was diagnosed when she was four; she later developed heart disease, and has endured chemotherapy and nearly a dozen operations. This past summer, when doctors told her that without a heart transplant she'd be dead in six months, she refused to go through with it.
She was not asserting a right to die; she was suggesting that she had a right to live on her own terms. . . .
Hannah's parents decided that they needed to respect their daughter's wishes.
her father Andrew told reporters. "My wife and I agreed that whatever Hannah wanted, we would support her."
But one doctor, concerned that she might be driven by fear or confusion, notified children's protective services of the case - which is how the Joneses found themselves fighting to retain custody of their child.
Later still, The social worker was convinced, and this week the lawyers were as well; the court lifted the order and Hannah may continue to refuse the treatment.
Compare this story to the circus surrounding Terri Schiavo in Florida a few years ago.
Tell me again---who is "Right to Life" and who is humane?
Click here for the complete text.

November 10, 2008

Bring on the Puppy and the Rookie


I walked over to the White House Tuesday night and leaned against the fence. How can such a lovely house make so many of its inhabitants nuts?

There was no U-Haul in the driveway. I don't know if W. was inside talking to the portraits on the wall. Or if the portraits can vanish from their frames, as at Hogwarts Academy, to escape if W. is pestering them about his legacy.

The Obama girls, with their oodles of charm, will soon be moving in with their goldendoodle or some other fetching puppy, and they seem like the kind of kids who could have fun there, prowling around with their history-loving father.

I had been amazed during the campaign - not by the covert racism about Barack Obama and not by Hillary Clinton's subtext when she insisted to superdelegates: "He can't win."

But I had been astonished by the overt willingness of some people who didn't mind being quoted by name in The New York Times saying vile stuff, that a President Obama would turn the Rose Garden into a watermelon patch, that he'd have barbeques on the front lawn, that he'd make the White House the Black House.

Actually, the elegant and disciplined Obama, who is not descended from the central African-American experience but who has nonetheless embraced it and been embraced by it, has the chance to make the White House pristine again.

I grew up here, and I love all the monuments filled with the capital's ghosts. I hate the thought that terrorists might target them again.

But the monuments have lost their luminescence in recent years.

How could the White House be classy when the Clintons were turning it into Motel 1600 for fund-raising, when Bill Clinton was using it for trysts with an intern and when he plunked a seven-seat hot tub with two Moto-Massager jets on the lawn?

How could the White House be inspiring when W. and Cheney were inside making torture and domestic spying legal, fooling Americans by cooking up warped evidence for war and scheming how to further enrich their buddies in the oil and gas industry?

How could the Lincoln Memorial - "With malice toward none; with charity for all" - be as moving if the black neighborhoods of a charming American city were left to drown while the president mountain-biked?

How can the National Archives, home of the Constitution, be as momentous if the president and vice president spend their days redacting the Constitution?

How can the black marble V of the Vietnam Memorial have power when those in power repeat the mistake of Vietnam?

How can the Capitol, where my dad proudly worked for so many years, hold its allure when the occupants have spent their days - and years - bickering and scoring petty political points instead of stopping White House chicanery and taking on risky big issues?

How can the F.D.R. Memorial along the Tidal Basin be an uplifting trip to the past when the bronze statue of five stooped men in a bread line and the words of F.D.R.'s second inaugural - "I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad and ill-nourished" - evokes the depressing present?

Obama may be in over his head. Or he may be heading for his own monument one day.

His somber speech in the dark Chicago night was stark and simple and showed that he sees what he's up against. There was a heaviness in his demeanor, as if he already had taken on the isolation and "splendid misery," as Jefferson called it, of the office he'd won only moments before. Americans all over the place were jumping for joy, including the block I had been on in front of the White House, where they were singing: "Na, na, na, na. Hey, hey, hey. Goodbye."

In the midst of such a phenomenal, fizzy victory overcoming so many doubts and crazy attacks and even his own middle name, Obama stood alone.

He rejected the Democratic kumbaya moment of having your broad coalition on stage with you, as he talked about how everyone would have to pull together and "resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."

He professed "humility," but we'd heard that before from W., and look what happened there.

Promising to also be president for those who opposed him, Obama quoted Lincoln, his political idol and the man who ended slavery: "We are not enemies, but friends - though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection."

There have been many awful mistakes made in this country. But now we have another chance.

As we start fresh with a constitutional law professor and senator from the Land of Lincoln, the Lincoln Memorial might be getting its gleam back.

I may have to celebrate by going over there and climbing up into Abe's lap.
It's a $50 fine. But it'd be worth it.
One of the lovely things about our country: every few years we get another chance. It's rare, though, that we get one as profound as this one.

November 8, 2008

Please stop by, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on 'Share Your Vision' to register your priorities for the new administration.
How often are our opinions sought by our government? So, let's take the chance that this isn't a stunt but that it really is an opportunity for us to participate in our Democratic Republic.

By the way-- I can't tell you how freeing it felt when I registered at the site.
Over the course of the last 8 years, I've signed hundreds of petitions and felt at least a slight concern about giving my government my name and address. This time that feeling was absent. How amazing is that? =)

November 6, 2008

I'm still needing to pinch myself to be sure it's not all a dream. And, I'm seeing the same sentiment all over blogsville [except in isolated pockets-- but I generally try to stay away from vipers --so I don't see too many of those].
If this is a dream, may none of us wake up.
Well, I take that back. We all will need to wake up come late January. There will be lots of work to do and we'll all need to pitch in.

Obama & team will do the heavy lifting, but they'll need us to remind the masses that this will take time and include pain [though not as much as we've experienced over the last 8 years, I would guess.]
Still, we will all need to remember that he inherited a huge mess and will need time to get us out of the woods -- and WE need to not turn on him in 2012.

For now, though, we can hit the snooze button but-- isn't it lovely to wake up in the morning and not want to do that?

November 5, 2008

God bless us every one.

November 4, 2008

This, via email, from my cousin who lives in Virginia:
'They caught someone in Virginia circulating material informing Dems to vote Nov 5--but decided to do nothing to him!!!
Guess they thought the average person would know it was a joke. Seems like a lot of folks are BELOW average, however!'
And my response to him:
If that had been a Dem telling Reps to vote on the 5th, they'd be screaming and, bank on it, the powers-that-be wouldn't be treating it like a joke.

November 3, 2008

Barack Obama’s grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86.

All of our hearts and thoughts go out to Barack and his family. It's sad that she won't see the grandson she helped raise enter the White House. Nevertheless, she must have been so proud.

November 1, 2008

A Losing Strategy

I’ve been saying for weeks, now, that the Rethuglican Party seems to have a plan — I think they want to lose this election.
Here’s my evidence:
McCain is the perfect sacrificial lamb. He was a long shot in any case and will never again be in a position to run for president.
The people who ran against him during the primaries are all still available to run again, later— although many of them are, currently, becoming anathema [far right wingnuts] to the public at large. Still, they may be able to make a comeback in Congress in the future.

Until the Republican convention, McCain ran a pretty good campaign. For a while, he looked like he might lose— so, he superglued himself to that chair on Face the Nation and brought himself back from the brink.
Then, the moment he secured the nomination, he began committing gaffe after gaffe after gaffe.
After repeatedly dinging Obama as inexperienced, McCain chose, as running mate, a far-right wingnut caricature who had no experience and who was so stupid that she positioned herself for and worked to secure the appointment during the current anti-establishment climate.
Palin has repeatedly shown that she should not be let loose near an open mike without a script and a chaperone [who does that remind you of?] And she has been allowed to just continue blithely putting her foot in her mouth:
When asked about the Bush Doctrine, she showed herself to be ignorant of just what that was.
When asked what magazines she has read, she responded to the question with a blank look and said: "All of them".
She demonstrated a total ignorance of what the job of Vice President consists of.
Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live—and allowed herself to be ridiculed.
She also was pranked by two Canadian humorists and had no idea it was happening.

I believe that McCain, who could have chosen many women who were actually fit to be vice president, passed them over because they were fit. By not considering them, he left them untarnished by this failed election— leaving them free to run again, later.
My guess is that Palin will return to Alaska after the election is over — and sink from sight without leaving even a ripple on the surface.
McCain, himself, looked like a racist during the first two debates. He looked senile during the second. During all three, he looked like a man who had a very tenuous control over his temper. This is a person I don’t want with his finger on the nuclear button.

Speaking of war: McCain has gone on record as stating he would be happy to stay in Iraq for 100 years. He said it at a time when the American population had long been saying they recognized that they had been lied into the war and were ready and past ready to get out of Iraq.

After saying that the economy was sound, McCain panicked and canceled the 2nd debate to "rush back to Washington" after which he appeared on Katie Couric's show. Then he appeared at the debate after all.
Simultaneously, he opened himself up to ridicule on David Letterman's show.

McCain spoke of abortion and demeaned the idea of the "life and health of the mother" by placing air-quotes around it. Selling out half of the population [and the half that is more likely to vote—especially when it comes to health issues] is not a winning strategy.

McCain said, of nuclear power, that Obama "waffles" by bringing up concerns about the environment, safety and "blah, blah, blah". This is a method of effective public speaking and selling his point?

And McCain has changed his message daily during the last 3 or 4 weeks. He hasn't seemed to be able to make up his mind how to run his campaign -- even during this, the 11th hour.
Meanwhile, his entire campaign is imploding.
There has been no October surprise against the Democrats.
If the RNC had dug, given their ability to sniff out scandal even where none exists [see Elizabeth Dole's campaign, the numerous allegations by McCain's campaign that Obama is a Socialist, 'pals around' with terrorists, stressing Obama's name, etc. etc. etc.], I have to wonder, why not?

Many Republicans, from Colin Powell to Bush’s own press secretary, Scott McClellan, have endorsed Obama in recent weeks. I may be reaching here, but I have to wonder— did they receive their marching orders from the RNC?

All the finger-pointing and mud-slinging within a losing campaign usually begin after the election is over. This time, it started a couple of weeks beforehand. Why?

As the campaign winds down, prominent Republicans are publicly coming out and stating that Palin is not ready for prime time.
Lawrence Eagleburger, who briefly served as Secretary of State under Bush 41 stated that Palin could, given time, become 'adequate' though she would not be likely to become a 'genius at the job.' He soon came out and tried to pedal back from his statement— but he did not do so all that effectively.

The weekend before the election, Cheney [an extremely tarnished brand name] came out and endorsed McCain.
The talking heads are asking, "Why didn't he endorse McCain months ago?"
If he had done so, it would've been old news by now. By endorsing him 3 days before the election, there is no time for the shock wave to die down.

Maybe these are the October Surprises—in reverse. Can Eagleburger's anti-endorsement, the finger-pointing and Cheney's endorsement help ensure an Obama win?
I think the RNC may be positioning itself to jettison the far right wingnuts whose votes it was very happy to exploit right up until they took over the party. Now, they have become an embarrassment and a liability.
So, the RNC wants to lessen the influence of the far right. What better way than to put one of their own at the top of the ticket and let her fall flat on her face?
Fwiw, I think McCain is in on the joke— and Palin is not. If they’d chosen someone who wasn’t an airhead, the whole plan might not have worked. I imagine there must be some anti-abortionists who aren't fools. But, none of them were tapped. Why not?

I believe the RNC is positioning itself to grab all the marbles [again] in 2012. It is virtually certain to lose the White House and both Houses of Congress this Tuesday.
In 4 years, the American public [well known for its fickleness] is likely to turn on the Democrats because they haven’t managed to repair every bit of the damage done by BushCo.
I think the RNC doesn’t want to be in control over the next 4 years— because it’s easier to seize power than it is to repair a broken country.
This looks, to me, suspiciously like a Rovian Playbook designed to throw the current election to the Dems. May I please be proven wrong in my assessment.