30 October 2008

The Mate Says: Please Vote For Obama

The Mate wrote the following, and asked me to post it here:

For the past eight years, this country has slaughtered, displaced, and wounded hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Our country is mired in debt that will affect our ability to care effectively for our citizens now and in the future. Although I do blame both Democrats and Republicans (Congress authorized the war and controls the purse strings), the rot came from the top down.

Bush and Cheney pushed through an unnecessary war and pushed for unbelievable spending increases and tax cuts. Ironically, the wealthiest who voted for Bush and thought they were getting a good deal will likely find their net worth severely punished for their efforts. Between plummeting stock and home prices, their bottom line will be worse than it was eight years ago. Those of modest means or lower will suffer even more as job layoffs continue and food prices soar.

Remember the message of Everyman*: Charity in all its forms is the key to salvation. Now, even if you have doubts about the hereafter, the moral message is clear and relevant. People are suffering, and contributions of money, clothes, and time are the best you can do in trying times.

As for John McCain, experience does not outweigh poor judgment. It is clear from how he has waged his campaign through poor choices that his presidency would not be much different. He wants to continue the unwinnable war in Iraq, extend the tax cuts to the wealthy, and continue to surround himself with unqualified people who think contributions should be spent on Louis Vuitton bags for seven-year-olds.

Barack Obama, though certainly not perfect, is clear-headed, inspiring, and has the intellect to deal with the problems we are facing. I am impressed with Hillary Clinton pulling out all the stops to campaign for him, especially in Florida, and I hope Hillary supporters can become as passionate in convincing those who are still undecided.

Obama's campaign, from the people he has surrounded himself with, to grass roots organization, and his response to issues that have come up along the way shows that he will be a fantastic leader. Don't let fear-mongering, single issues, or misinformation cloud your judgment.

Please vote for Obama.

*Everyman is a Morality Play written in the late fifteenth century. You can read it here, or go here to buy a copy of The Mate's video version. Full disclosure: I produced the video.

Beyond Offensive

I thought we were beyond this kind of race and class-based politics. But as reported in a New York Times article today, a reporter interviewed a woman at a McCain rally, and she suggested that people who support Obama's policies are all about handouts for people who are too lazy to earn a living.
“A lot of people on the other side just want free money,” said Susan Emrich, at a McCain-Palin rally in Hershey on Tuesday. ... Ms. Emrich would like to attend another rally later that day in nearby Shippensburg, but can’t. “I have to work,” she explains. “I’m a Republican.”

Remember when Republican politicians demonized "welfare queens"? Wikipedia says* Ronald Reagan popularized the term during the 1976 presidential election in a reference to the South Side of Chicago, with its primarily African-American population. He and other Republicans of that era were evoking the fiction of black women having child after child so they could keep getting public assistance.

The reality? The majority of people on welfare are -- and were -- white women with one or two children, who usually spend less than two years on the dole before going back to work.

And by the way... access to truly affordable, flexible, high quality childcare so women with children could attend school or go to work would reduce the need for welfare and would also improve living conditions for large numbers of middle class families.

*The article cites Susan Douglas's 2005 book, The Mommy Myth, as the source for the information.

22 October 2008

Alaskine Rose

The McCain campaign spent $150,000 to clothe Gov. Palin in September. It calls to mind the excesses of Evita as played by Madonna:
I came from the people, they need to adore me
So Christian Dior me from my head to my toes
I need to be dazzling, I want to be Rainbow High
They must have excitement, and so must I

Or Imelda Marcos with her hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Mostly, it just boggles the mind.

16 October 2008

I assumed it was photoshopped ...

... but the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, among others, published it. Full size here.

Attempting Levity

Duet for Two Lungs: "Tell Me Again Why it was So Important to Climb that Flight of Stairs."

That's pretty much been the state of things since the first cold of the semester and the onset of the season of drifting, dusty, mildewed leaves ratcheted my asthma up a few notches.

But with the benefit of several prescriptions and nearly every OTC known to RiteAid, I set off today for my first run in ten days. I managed to complete my three-mile loop and even made it up all the hills.

And then I flagged down one of the helicopters monitoring traffic on the Cross-Bronx Expressway and got a lift from the sidewalk to my fifth-floor walkup.

McCain Doesn't Think Much of Women

During the final presidential debate last night, I muttered imprecations at the computer at various points.

Asked about his running mate's qualifications to be president, Sen. McCain said, "Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she's a role model to women and other -- and reformers all over America."

First off there's the issue of the syntax. "Americans" know that Palin "is a role model to women." McCain not include "women" when he thinks of "Americans." The people he considers his constituents are the male members of society; women are an afterthought.

At any rate: Sorry, Senator, I do not see Gov. Palin as a role model. I do not see a former beauty pageant contestant and journalism major who can't name a newspaper she reads as a role model. As a college professor, I'm very aware of the potential for abuses of power in heirarchical institutions, and I do not see as a role model someone who abuses her position to attempt to get people fired. As an environmentalist, I do not see as a role model someone who has five children, flies airplanes and drives snowmobiles for sport, and doesn't believe that humans have impacted climate change, as a role model. (Remember Zero Population Growth?)

McCain didn't, by the way, answer the question. He didn't say that he thinks Palin is qualified to be president. He said, "She'll be my partner."

But it was Sen. McCain's sneer as he uttered the phrase "health for the mother" that got me really yelling bad things. (Fortunately, I didn't wake The Offspring.)

Bob Schieffer asked Obama and McCain to explain their positions on abortion. Obama discussed the issue in terms of seeking "common ground" by attempting to prevent unwanted pregnancies and provide real support for women with unplanned pregnancies. He added, "Nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation." (Folks, birth control fails, even when used by married couples.) In response to McCain's statement that he had failed to vote in favor of a ban on "partial-birth abortion," he said:
I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception. And I attempted, as many have in the past, [to] includ[e] that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.

McCain's response was an outrage.
Just again, the example of the eloquence of Senator Obama. He's health for the mother. You know, that's been stretched by the pro-abortion movement in America
to mean almost anything. That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote, "health."
He sneered when he said that. John McCain sneered at the idea that a woman's health is of importance.

The world has changed a lot since John McCain was born 72 years ago. The roles of men and women have undergone widespread shifts.

When McCain was born, women could be excluded from serving on juries. The minimum wage only applied to men. Waitresses weren't allowed to work at night.

When McCain graduated from college, it was legal to pay a woman less than a man for the identical job. In fact, employers didn't even have to hire women. Laws in many states prohibited married couples from using birth control. Yes, abortion was illegal. It was legal for a man to rape a woman ... if he was married to her. A woman could get fired from her job if she got pregnant. Bosses groped their employees, and worse, but the term "sexual harrassment" hadn't been invented. Many of the nation's elite colleges and universities accepted only male students.

Society has changed, but John McCain has not. His patronizing, exclusionary comments indicate his profound disrespect for women's rights and women's contributions to society.

15 October 2008


Me: Cheney is being treated for arrhythmia again.

The Mate: He has a heart?

07 October 2008

Joe Six-Pack

I've been wondering what, exactly, Sarah Palin means by "Joe Six-Pack." Somebody who drinks a whole six-pack at a sitting? Somebody with really defined abs? So I went to urban dictionary, and this is what it says:
Average American moron, IQ 60, drinking beer, watching baseball and CNN, and believe [sic] everything his President says.

So that's how Palin is presenting herself in detailing her qualifications to be vice president. Uh-oh.

Letter to the New York Times

In the article "Campaigns Shift to Attack Modes on Eve of Debate," Adam Nagourney suggests that the Obama and McCain campaigns are engaging in similar kinds of tactics.

This is not, in fact, the case: Palin is smearing Obama with innuendo in her claims of his association with Bill Ayers, ignoring the parts of the Times article on their acquaintance that refute such claims.

The Obama campaign's advertising referring to McCain as one of the "Keating Five" involved in a 1989 ethics scandal, on the other hand, is fact; the investigators concluded that he had exercised poor judgment in his role in the scandal. As a candidate for president, his ability to exercise good judgment is, well, crucial.

Your writers should make clear the distinction between the smear tactics of the McCain campaign and the legitimate attacks of the Obama campain, rather than hiding behind supposed "objectivity" in making it look as though both campaigns are up to the same kinds of tactics. McCain's people won't like it? Doesn't change your responsibility to the truth.

Heide Estes

03 October 2008

Joe Biden Cried Last Night. Or, Things Have Changed

Last night, Gwen Ifill asked Biden and Palin to talk about their respective "Achilles' Heels," noting that "conventional wisdom" has it that Palin lacks experience, while Biden lacks discipline.
In response, Palin mentioned her experience as governor of the "huge state" of Alaska (with a population of under 700,000, just a bit bigger than Washington, DC) and then moved quickly to her experience as the mother of a son about to be deployed to Iraq and another with "special needs." (What happened to the three daughters?)

Biden responded that after 35 years in the Senate, "People can judge who I am." He talked some more about his record, and then added:

Look, I understand what it's like to be a single parent. When my wife and daughter died and my two sons were gravely injured, I understand what it's like as a parent to wonder what it's like if your kid's going to make it.... But the notion that somehow, because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand.

He choked up. He blinked away tears. He moved on. To me, that shows more profoundly than McCain's choice of a completely inexperienced woman as a running mate, that my parents' generation changed America. (Thanks, Mom and Dad.)

It's not 1972, and Joe Biden is not Ed Muskie. Responding to attacks on his wife, Muskie choked up during a speech. The press reported that he cried, and his already faltering presidential bid was derailed among claims that he was too emotional to serve.

While Palin uttered platitudes, Joe Biden showed himself as a man of emotional as well as intellectual depth. To me, the debate felt like an adult conversation between Biden and Ifill, with Palin refusing to answer questions and instead pleading with Americans, "look at me!"

If you're looking for a full transcript and/or video of the debate, the New York Times has them here.

02 October 2008

Sarah Palin v the Polar Bear

Tim Downing of the Guardian wonders who will better succeed given current global realities. An excerpt:
Impact of climate change
Polar bear: Length of hunting season has diminished, birth rates have fallen and it now has insufficient fat reserves.
Palin: None observed.
The rest of the article is here.