Monthly Archives: August 2008

Palin: Pretty, premature, precipitate, precarious pick

Premature: adj. too hurried and impulsive, born after too short a gestation period

Precipitate or precipitous: adj. acting with excessive impulse; lacking due deliberation

Precarious: adj. dangerously lacking in security or stability

When it’s possible that your vice-president might, by circumstance, suddenly become President, you’d think that a wise presidential candidate would make a very careful choice of running mate. You would want him/ her not only to be knowledgeable of international affairs, but also to have a clean past which you would thoroughly investigate before making your choice.

Not John McCain.

His choice for VP proves his lack of judgment: it was a premature, precipitate and precarious pick. He has not only chosen someone with only 20 months of governing experience above the village level, he has chosen someone that he and his team never bothered to vet!

Oh, he sort of knew Sarah Palin was in a legal pickle over the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan but probably figured that it would get swept under the rug the way so many Republican scandals do.

What is mind-boggling is that nobody on his staff ever bothered to go to the newspaper in her home town of Wasilla and see what the locals were saying. The Valley Frontiersman has no online archive so the only way to do the research is on site. (The Anchorage Daily News already has plenty dirt.)

Three days AFTER picking Palin, McCain sends 8 staffers to Wasilla to check her out.

Even if they turn up NOTHING unsavory (they wish!) is this the way a President McCain would conduct the business of the United States? Act NOW, think LATER.

The implications are ominous.

Public speaking prowess: a liability for Obama??

Prowess: superior skill or ability

“I listened to part of his acceptance speech, but I don’t much care for him;
he speaks too well.”

That’s what one of my relatives said today of Obama’s speech. And she’s a Democrat.

He speaks too well.

What has America come to, that it’s a bad thing when someone as thoughtful and articulate as Obama “speaks too well”?   Have we become that cynical?

Many politicians can deliver an effective speech – even if they have shit for brains – IF they’ve got skillful speech-writers crafting their words.

But Obama is that rare bird who actually writes his own speeches.
You simply cannot write a speech like that without having a well-educated, orderly, creative AND rational mind. His powerful delivery is a plus…
but the ideas came first.

The man can actually think!

America desperately needs a leader with a well-educated, orderly, creative and rational mind – one who doesn’t depend on speech-writers to get the message right.

The job of President requires a person who thinks and expresses himself clearly.  We’ve had eight years of monumentally muddled thinking and garbled speaking.  McCain is another shoot-from-the-hip quipper, with a loose grip on his facts and his memory.


Presidential qualifications: the Palin Pick

John McCain has shown his true colors (lack of judgment): picking a person for his running mate who is in every way the embodiment of inexperience.

A vice-president is “one heartbeat away from the presidency.”  John McCain is not only 72 years old (today) and several-time cancer survivor, he has shown signs of senility.  The last person we need at the helm is a person with just 20 months of experience as Governor of a state with only 670,000 residents.

Before that she was mayor of Wasila, Alaska, a town with only 6,500 residents, where, as right-leaning pundit Ron Fournier says, “the biggest issue is controlling growth and the biggest annual worry is whether there will be enough snow for the Iditarod dog-mushing race.”

Did McCain pick Palin in a Hail Mary pass to attract Clinton supporters? Or evangelical pro-life creationists?

TrapperJohn at DailyKos notes:

Palin lacks any foreign policy experience, and is bereft of even the two core areas of policy expertise that governors are supposed to bring to a ticket — ag policy (Alaska doesn’t have much in the way of traditional agriculture) and urban affairs (the biggest city Anchorage is the 65th largest city in the US, behind such giants as Corpus Christi).

Palin describes herself as “just your average hockey mom.” And how, pray tell, does that experience qualify her for what could easily become the presidency???

We are still reeling from two terms of a cowboy/frat-boy president. God save us.

At some later date we’ll discuss the corrupt Republican Party in Alaska, of which she is a part (and has her own “Troopergate” scandal going). And the whole oil bidness.

Pandemonium! Barack rocks the house

Pandemonium: wild uproar and noise

When Barack Obama stepped out to speak to the immense crowd (84,000!) gathered at Invesco Field, the uproar went on and on and on and on. [Update: Nielsen reports that more than 38 million people watched the speech on TV – and that doesn’t count the smart viewers who watched on PBS or C-Span. This is more than watched the pagaent that opened the Olympics, more than watched the final “American Idol”- gack]

What a night this was for the Democrats and for Barack Obama.

First of all, he is like a buddha – open heart, big smile, unflappable. How can you not be drawn in by the warmth he exudes so naturally? (Biden too. In fact I can’t recall a more appealing double bill than Obama-Biden.)

Then there’s the matter of his intellect and vision.  WOW.  The speech was certainly one of the greatest I’ve ever heard.

You can find the text online in many places, but here are my favorite excepts (emphases mine):

Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach.

These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.

America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.

Now, I don’t believe that Sen. McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a health care plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement?

[That promise says] each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves — protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.

That’s the promise of America — the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

And Democrats, we must also admit that fulfilling America’s promise will require more than just money. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility from each of us to recover what John F. Kennedy called our “intellectual and moral strength.” Yes, government must lead on energy independence, but each of us must do our part to make our homes and businesses more efficient. Yes, we must provide more ladders to success for young men who fall into lives of crime and despair. But we must also admit that programs alone can’t replace parents; that government can’t turn off the television and make a child do her homework; that fathers must take more responsibility for providing the love and guidance their children need.

Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility — that’s the essence of America’s promise.

The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America — they have served the United States of America.

So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices, and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past. For part of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose — our sense of higher purpose. And that’s what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. [Preach it brother, preach it! This is ballsy talk!]

Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This, too, is part of America’s promise — the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan Horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values. And that’s to be expected. Because if you don’t have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare the voters. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Instead, it is that American spirit — that American promise — that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours — a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot. …


Proud! to be a Democrat…

Proud: feeling pleasurable satisfaction over an attribute or act by which one’s stature is measured.

I’ve watched as much of the Democratic National Convention as I could, given other pressing commitments. As screwed up as we can be as a party, we are so far ahead of the other brand in brains, integrity, wisdom, compassion, policy, ideas, etc etc that I find it hard to believe that any sane and sentient human being would vote for the other brand.

On Tuesday Hillary Clinton finally convinced me that she could be a strong leader – but we already have  a remarkable candidate. Gov. Schweitzer, Gov. Amy Klobucher and Rep Kucinich were terrific.

Last night the drama built and built as the states went through the roll call, declaring the number of delegates pledged to each candidate.  Of course Obama was way ahead, but they kept going until (strangely) New Mexico ceded their votes to the next state, Missouri, and Missouri ceded to Illinois…. and Illinois ceded to New York (a total of 282 delegates at stake by this time) and….

Hillary stepped forward for New York to move that the roll call be stopped and the convention move to accept Obama by acclamation.  Cheers, shouts, tears, roars.  And so the so-called “disunity” came to an end.  It was a great moment.

Later Senator John Kerry kicked butt the way we wished he had four years ago – what a terrific speech – comparing “Senator” McCain with “Candidate” McCain as prime examples of flip-flopping. Senator Joe Biden won my heart with his kind presence PLUS some great examples of where McCain was wrong and Obama was right. President Bill Clinton showed us why he is still the Big Dog,

I’ve been in tears a lot the past few days. Happy tears.  Tonight is the NEW Big Dog. Obama!

I will watch what I can stomach of the other brand’s convention next week. They’ve got their work cut out for them….

Piranha and prey: Maureen Dowd v. everyone else

Piranha: n. a tropical fish, known to be voraciously carnivorous, often attacking and destroying other living animals.

Prey: n. any creature hunted and caught for food; a victim

This poor woman needs a hug. At the very least.

Once upon a time Maureen Dowd had relatively progressive values. Maybe she still does. Who can tell? Once upon a time she could be funny. But now she specializes in venom, and even her friends are victim fodder.  Take the opening of this egregious column in today’s New York Times:

I’ve been to a lot of conventions, and there’s always something gratifyingly weird that happens [snip]. But this Democratic convention has a vibe so weird and jittery, so at odds with the early thrilling, fairy dust feel of the Obama revolution, that I had to consult Mike Murphy, the peppery Republican strategist and former McCain guru.

“What is that feeling in the air?” I asked him.

“Submerged hate,” he promptly replied.

?? And why would she ask a McCain operative to read the mood – and accept his interpretation (projection, anyone?) of it?

Then she goes on to foment discord by seeking every tidbit of Democratic dissatisfaction, every potential Achilles heel.  She talks to a Hillary nutcase from Vancouver, WA (my town) named Carol Anderson, who I’ve never heard of, and I’ve been active in the local party for a long time. She’s not a delegate.

Two takes from DailyKos state bloggers covering the convention:

MissLaura with New Hampshire: “I was with the New Hampshire delegation last night, and I can say that there was not one sign of disunity there despite the primary having been so heated. The same people who were in tears as Hillary Clinton began speaking and roaring with applause constantly throughout her speech were enthusiastically waving Obama signs and chanting his name throughout the entire evening.”

Goldy with Washington State: “A stunning lack of disunity… that was my immediate reaction watching the crowd respond to Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention.  No doubt there are Clinton delegates who remain unconvinced, and no doubt many will cast their ballot for Clinton come roll call, but if folks were expecting any drama tonight, they’ll just have to make due with the uplifting kind.”

Patriarch: Teddy Kennedy

Patriarch: n, the paternal leader of a family or tribe; an old and venerable man.

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Last night I allowed myself to be a rude guest. I was at a BBQ that ran from 5:30-8:30 – right smack in the middle of the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Denver – and I wanted to see Teddy Kennedy. The hostess kindly turned on the TV in the den so I could watch (and weep).

This is a guy who was supposed to be the little brother in his family. Then one by one the older more promising boys got blown away – one in war and two by separate assassin’s guns.  Unbearable tragedies, each one more poignant than the last.

Teddy is the last man standing. And what a guy.  He is adored by his family and by his constituents in Massachusetts (43 years their senator!).  Despite his patrician background he has always stood up for the less fortunate – minimum wage laws, workers rights, civil rights, health care access, even getting up from his sick bed last month to cast a crucial vote on an important Medicare bill.

My Republican brother-in-law flies chartered jets in the Boston area and often flies Teddy (and John Kerry). He wept when he heard about the brain tumor; he thinks he’s a prince among men and always votes for him (Kerry is a different story).  Ditto Teddy’s wife Vicky, who he says is smart enough to make a fine senator herself.

While I loved Michelle Obama, last night Teddy had my heart.

UPDATE: Just read in the NY Times that Teddy’s show was more amazing than anyone realized.  From that story:

His aides said that after Mr. Kennedy finally decided he was well enough to come to Denver over the weekend, they became alarmed when he arrived on Sunday after a long charter airplane flight, accompanied by family members, aides and doctors, and reported being in excruciating pain.

Their first concern was that the pain was somehow related to his cancer, or the chemotherapy and radiology he had undergone, and that it had been complicated by the long flight or the high altitude of the city. A visit to a local hospital Sunday night revealed it was kidney stones and was unrelated to his cancer.

Mr. Kennedy had no previous history of kidney stones, aides said.

One close associate, who demanded anonymity to discuss any element of Mr. Kennedy’s medical condition, disclosed that the senator had suffered an unspecified but serious setback in July after he flew to Washington in the midst of treatment to cast a vote on a Medicare bill.

Mr. Kennedy’s aides said he did make one concession to the kidney stones: the speech he gave was about 10 minutes, roughly half the length of an earlier draft.

Kidney stones are notoriously painful, and typically treated with morphine or other painkillers. (Aides would not say whether Mr. Kennedy had been given painkillers, or whether any stones had passed.)

Mr. Kennedy’s longtime associate Bob Shrum said that as soon as the senator became ill, he sent an even shorter three-sentence statement that Mr. Kennedy could read at the Pepsi Center. He said Mr. Kennedy, in informing him that he wanted to speak, had rejected that option.

“He said, ‘I’m not getting up to go over there and give a three-sentence speech,’ ” Mr. Shrum said.

As I said, what a guy!

Professional or Pretender? writing as a JOB

Professional: n, 1. one who is engaged in a particular occupation for pay;
2. one who has great skill or competence in a particular field

Pretender: n, one who simulates, claims or alleges falsely.

I get paid to write articles on health issues, newsletters, reports and the like. This makes me a professional by the first definition – although as a free-lance gig the work is spotty and the pay paltry.  While I enjoy these assignments when they’re DONE, they don’t engage my heart.

For years I said I would “Write a Book,” because that’s what writers are supposed to do. Unfortunately I have yet to focus on one topic long enough to spin it into a book, and furthermore I habitually hit the wall somewhere around 3000 words for a piece.

When I read Steven Pressfield‘s The War of Art, it became clear that in this area of my life – writing something lengthy about what I wanted to write about – I was a pretender, an amateur. I was not a Professional Writer.

He claims we all know how to be a professional in one area: our jobs – the ones we do successfully in our workaday lives.  He suggests we apply these qualities to our artistic aspirations:

1. We show up every day.

2. We show up every day no matter what, whether or not we feel like it.

3. We stay on the job all day. Our minds may wander but our bodies remain at the wheel till the whistle blows.

4. We’re committed over the long haul. We may change jobs, but until we hit the lottery we’ll be working.

5. The stakes are high and real. We’re feeding ourselves and our families.

6. We accept remuneration for our labor. We’re here for the money.

7. We do not over-identify with our jobs.  We may take pride in our work, but we recognize we are not our job descriptions. The amateur takes his work so seriously it can paralyze him.

8. We master the technique of our jobs.

9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.

10. We receive praise or blame in the real world. If you’re praised for your work by your best friend, that’s not real-world feedback. A friend won’t send you a rejection slip. The real world will.

Pressfield’s a hard-ass.  He wants those of us with creative aspirations to put up or shut up. The War of Art is really about Resistance as the implacable enemy of the artist. I wish Resistance were a P word, because I experience it every day (thanks Mom!) and it deserves a long post of its own. Read the book and you’ll see what I mean.

365 P Words has provided the self-discipline I’ve needed to get my ass into the chair to write every day. Knowing others are out there reading this helps too.  Who knows, my new-found commitment to writing what I want to write might lead to something…

What keeps YOU on the job?

Poison Pill for Planned Parenthood from the Bush administration

The Bush administration has it out for women (and the environment and the poor and our civil rights and our servicemen and and and and…). Their latest attack on the rights of women to have access to reproductive health care just came down (from the Washington Post):

The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience.”

The proposed regulation, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period*, was welcomed by conservative groups, abortion opponents and others as necessary to safeguard workers from being fired, disciplined or penalized in other ways. Women’s health advocates, family planning advocates, abortion rights activists and others, however, condemned the regulation, saying it could create sweeping obstacles to a variety of health services, including abortion, family planning, end-of-life care and possibly a wide range of scientific research.

What this means – if the public doesn’t make a big enough fuss – is that pharmacists, doctors, nurses and others don’t have to provide birth control pills, Plan B emergency contraception and other forms of contraception if they think it’s wrong, and explicitly allows workers to withhold information about such services and refuse to refer patients elsewhere.

Planned Parenthood is fighting this ruling and urges people to contact their congressperson, the Dept of HHS, newspapers, etc.  And of course Planned Parenthood will accept your contributions to their action fund so they can fight it.

I can imagine a time when a vegetarian grocery checker will refuse to check you out if there’s meat in your cart, a teacher will refuse to teach your child because he’s Muslim, a fundamentalist waiter will refuse to serve a couple because they’re gay…   What is WITH these people????

*The 30-day comment period means YOU – speak up!  Here’s the Dept of Health and Human Services comment site.  (No matter that it appears the comments are about the website; this is where you comment).

Privilege: presidential prerequisite?

Privilege: n. A special advantage, immunity right or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual or class of people. Such a right or advantage held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others.

Prerequisite: n. Required as a special condition of something

For the past 8 years we’ve suffered under a president from a profoundly privileged family. George W. Bush is so out of touch with the experience of the ordinary citizen I often wonder if it’s a pathological problem with him.

John McCain is privileged by marriage. Very privileged. So privileged that he has more homes than he can count! “I’ll have my staff get back to you on that,” he said, when asked how many he owned.  Could be he’s too embarrassed to answer, could be it’s soooo many he can’t keep track, or it could be his memory is worse than we already feared.

I’ll help him out here: he owns seven homes – for a total value of $13 million.

Obama hit him on it with a great new video: