Category Archives: Politics

>Election Day


photo of Jasper Johns 3 Flags, 1959


>A few words on Joe

…Cam the Commentator
…Cam the daughter
…Cam the wife
…Cam the sister
…Cam the mother
…Cam the friend
…Cam the mother
…Cam the salesman’s daughter
…Cam the banker’s daughter
…Cam the worker
…Cam the IT Program Manager
…Cam the taxpayer
…Cam the thinker
…Cam the hard worker
…Cam the concerned citizen
…Cam the home improvement generalist (including plumbing)
…Cam the art appreciator
…Cam the movie fan
…Cam the feminist
…Cam the tuition paying parent
…Cam the gardener
…Cam the community volunteer
…Cam the reader
…Cam the writer
…Cam the Hoosier
…Cam the savings account owner
…Cam the homeowner
…Cam the commuter
…Cam the observer
…Cam the lousy housekeeper
…Cam the business analyst
…Cam the programmer
…Cam the amateur photographer
…Cam the traveler
…Cam the (small ‘d’) democrat
…Cam the foodie
…Cam the farmer’s market patron
…Cam the thoughtful
…Cam the politically aware
…Cam the multifaceted, won’t be pegged by an occupation, campaign spin weary, everyday AMERICAN ….. AND I VOTE!

Don’t tell me that you represent me, John McCain, if you think that we can be defined by only our professions. Don’t treat me with disdain and pretend that I am naive — or worse — stupid if I support your opponent.

Oh, by the way, I’ve been meaning to tell you for weeks. The word is ‘pundit’, not ‘pun-dent’.

>Just ONE question

>Only two questions about global poverty have been asked in the history of modern presidential debates.

It’s a shocking figure and in 2008, at the next Presidential debate on October 7, we need debate moderator Tom Brokaw to ask John McCain and Barack Obama Just ONE question on their plans to fight global poverty.

I just took action with the ONE Campaign and you can too. Please consider adding your name to the petition here.

Since this blog is supposedly about books — though I haven’t written much about books in recent months — I’ll refer you to a previous post here if you’re interested in books on issues about global poverty and efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.

>Spend two minutes ….

>…and listen to Obama’s Economic Plan Ad (“A Plan to Change”)


Read the full plan here.

>Some Words You Should Know

>What do the following 921 words have in common?

A, able, about, Abqaiq, abuses, accept, accolade, accomplish, achieve, achievement, across, actual, actually, add, administration, admire, admit, adversity, advocate, afraid, after, again, against, ago, agree, Alaska, all, allies, alone, already, also, alternative, although, always, am, America, American, Americans, Americas, among, an, ancestry, and, another, answer, any, appear, April, Arabia, are, aren’t, army, as, ask, assure, at, authored, average, away, baby, back, bad, banners, basic, be, beautiful, became, been, before, began, believe, belonged, better, between, Biden, big, bigger, billion, bitterly, bless, both, boy, brave, break, bridge, bring, Bristol, broke, brokers, brought, budget, build, built, burden, business, but, buttons, by, caliber, call, came, campaign, can, candidate, cannot, can’t, captives, careers, carrier, carry, catastrophic, Caucasus, cause, cell, certain, certitude, chairman, chairmen, challenge, champion, change, character, chef, chief, children, choice, chosen, chuck, citizens, city, clashing, clean, clear, clearly, cling, cloud, coal, columns, come, comfortable, commander, commentators, commercial, commitment, committee, common, community, company, compassion, competing, competition, confidence, confident, confront, Congress, consider, control, convictions, could, council, count, country, courage, create, crowd, crucial, culture, current, cut, dad, dangerous, dangers, daughter, day, deal, death, decades, deeds, defeat, defend, Defense, delay, delegates, deliveries, democratic, dependence, dependent, deploy, despite, determination, devoted, didn’t, dignity, directly, discovery, divide, do, does, doesn’t, dollar, done, do-nothing, don’t, door, down, dramatic, draw, drilling, drive, driving, each, earmark, earth, easy, eBay, economic, economy, education, either, eldest, elect, election, elementary, elite, end, energy, enlisted, entire, entrenched, equally, Eskimo, establishment, ethics, European, even, every, everything, evil, exactly, except, excuse, executive, expect, experience, experts, explain, extra, face, facility, fact, factories, fades, fairness, faith, family, far, farm, farmer, farther, fear, feelings, fellow, few, fields, fierce, fifth, fight, fighting, filled, finally, find, fine, first, fisherman, five, flash, focus, followed, followers, food, for, forced, foreign, forfeit, forget, forty, forward, fought, found, four, San Francisco, friend, from, fuel, gal, game, gas, gentlemen, geothermal, gifted, girls, give, go, goal, God, goes, going, good, good-ol, got, govern, government, governor, grace, graver, great, greatest, Greek, grew, grin, groups, grow, guards, guess, gulf, guns, guts, guy, habber-dasher, had, half, hallway, Hanoi, hard, harm, Harry, has, hauled, have, having, he, He, healing, hear, heard, heart, heath, heather, heating, hedge, Hell, help, her, herd, here, high, higher, high-flown, him, himself, his, His, history, hockey, home, hometown, honesty, honorable, honored, hope, hour, house, how, hundreds, hurricane, husband, I, idealism, if, I’m, imported, in, income, increase, independence, infantry, inflict, infrastructure, ingenuity, inside, insisted, inspire, integrity, interest, interests, interrogations, intimidate, into, investments, involves, Iran, Iraq, is, isn’t, it, I’ve, January, jet, jobs, John, join, journey, joys, Juneau, just, Kasey, keep, kids, kind, kind-hearted, knew, know, knows, ladies, laid, Lancaster, landmark, large, last, lately, later, lavishes, law, lay, lead, leader, leader, leadership, learned, leave, led, lesser, lesson, let, lieutenant, life, lifelong, lifetime, lights, like, listening, little, littlest, living, lobbyists, long, look, lose, lost, lot, lots, love, luxury, machine, made, major, majority, make, man, many, massive, mate, matter, maverick, may, maybe, mayor, McCain, me, means, measure, media, meet, member, memoirs, memorials, men, mercy, message, met, Mexico, Michigan, might, millions, mind, mingle, Minnesota, miss, missions, Missouri, Moe, mom, money, monopoly, more, most, mother, move, Mr., much, muddle, my, myself, name, named, nation, natural, nearly, necessary, needs, nephew, network, never, news, next, night, nightmare, no, nomination, nominee, north, not, nothing, noticed, now, nowhere, nuclear, Obama, observed, of, off, office, Ohio, oil, old, on, once, one, only, opened, operator, opinion, opponent, opportunity, opposition, or, order, organizer, other, our, ourselves, out, oval, over, overcome, overlooked, owe, own, package, pain, parents, parties, party, passed, past, path, pattern, pay, paychecks, payroll, Pennsylvania, people, perfectly, perhaps, permanent, Persian, personal, petroleum, pin-hole, pipeline, Piper, place, plan, planet, plans, plant, pledge, plot, political, politicians, politics, pollsters, possible, power, powerful, powerless, powers, praise, prayer, preconditions, prefer, presidency, president, presidential, prices, primary, print, prisoner, private-sector, privilege, problem, produce, producing, production, profile, project, promises, promising, promote, proof, prospect, protected, proud, PTA, public, pull, pundits, put, al-Qaeda, quickly, quite, quo, quote, racer, raise, ran, rather, read, readily, realize, really, reason, recalls, record, reduce, reform, refused, Reid, relentless, religion, reporters, request, reserve, resolve, resources, responsibilities, return, revenue, rhetoric, rid, right, roar, run, running, Russia, said, Sally, same, Saudi, say, schools, Scranton, seals, season, section, security, see, seek, seem, seen, self-dealing, self-designed, Senate, Senator, sent, September, servants, serve, service, serving, share, sheer, shook, short, should, shuffled, shut, side, sight, signed, simple, since, sincerity, single, sister, sits, six-by-four, slope, small, small-town, snow, so, solar, solve, some, someone, sometimes, son, sort, sought, sources, speak, speaker, special, special-needs, specific, speech, speechmaking, spending, spends, spirit, squalor, squarely, stadium, stakes, stand, standing, starting, state, station, status, steel, step, still, stirringly, stood, story, strategic, strength, strike, strong, struck, studio, Styrofoam, sudden, suffered, summed, summoned, suppliers, supplies, support, supposed, sure, surplus, survival, suspended, take, talking, talks, tax, taxes, taxpayers, tend, terrorist, than, thank, thanks, that, the, their, them, there, these, they, they’re, thing, this, those, though, thought, threat, three, through, throw, thumbs, time, to, today, Todd, told, Tom, tomorrow, tonight, too, took, top, torturous, tough, toward, town, Track, treasury, Trig, troops, true, Truman, trying, turn, turning, two, typical, under, uniform, Union, united, unlikely, unqualified, up, upright, ups, us, use, using, usual, valves, Venezuela, very, veto, vetoing, vice, victory, Virginia, vital, voters, walk, want, wanted, wanting, wants, war, was, Washington, wasteful, waters, way, we, we, weapon, week, welcomed, welcoming, well, went, were, were, we’re, west, we’ve, what, when, where, wherever, which, while, white, who, whoever, who’ll, who’s, whose, why, will, Willow, wind, winning, wisdom, with, within, without, woman, women, won, won’t, word, wore, work, workers, working, works, world, worried, would, writer, wrote, year, you, young, your, you’re, Yupik

Like LIPSTICK, the above words are apparently off-limits since they were included at least one time in Sarah Palin’s convention speech.

Maybe we should limit the talk of both campaigns to the following subjects and not worry as much about specific word choice as about the substance of the candidates’ stances:

Some other topics may be undertaken with extreme caution: CHARACTER, HONESTY, HYPOCRISY, INTEGRITY, TRUTH, SPIN. In these cases, it is better to let your words and actions about the issues speak for themselves.

News Flash John McCain and the Republicans: this election IS about the issues!

Bulletin to Barack and the Democrats: Keep it focused on the issues! Palin is NOT the issue.

>Post Convention Ramblings….

>I’m stealing this …. with attribution:
The McCain-Mooseburger ticket. I don’t always agree with his snarky comments, but Bill Maher always makes me laugh.

Both Sides invoked Truman:
Sarah Palin talked about the Missouri Habadasher. Joe Biden quoted Harry S Truman this week, too: “when someone said ‘Give ’em hell, Harry’, he said ‘I’m not going to give ’em hell, I’m going to tell the truth and they will think it is hell!’ “. See the clip here beginning at timestamp 2:52. (found posted by Kay In Maine at White Noise Insanity). Truman, a Democrat, was selected as VP as a compromise and was not considered very experienced or qualified for the job during a time of war. Who knew that he would have to make the decision to drop the atom bomb or appoint four Supreme Court justices?

Witty, biting snark attacks
How many times do we need to hear the lipstick joke? A soccer mom, but tougher? Do they really think that “Soccer Mom” or “Hockey Mom” is a voting category? Perhaps I don’t know what I’m talking about because I never felt that as a mother of a Cross-Country/Track athlete that I was part of some sort of monolithic voting block or special interest group. But maybe that was because I have hay fever and rarely stayed for the entire meet. At least Palin’s pit bull comments were in a nicer spirit than the other snarky remarks made by her and the also-rans on Wednesday night. Am I so biased that I didn’t notice that same tone while watching the Democratic convention?

Deriding community organizers? What happened to Bush 41’s 1000 points of light? Weren’t they community organizers? I think someone who advocates for others — people out of work, people without health care, people living in substandard housing, people who look to others to help them find resources to help themselves — these community organizers are the people who work in the trenches throughout our country. It isn’t the same experience as building a hockey rink for your town, but it isn’t unimportant. It isn’t a shallow job. It isn’t something that one does for fame or fortune or because it is a posh job. It’s damn hard work, regardless of what your cause is. For the Republicans to scoff at this type of work, especially when so much of it is done by faith-based organizations (like the organization Obama worked for) is hypocrisy and, derogatory to those without ready access to the same avenues of power that many in some classes of society have.

A sound bite adding to the rhetoric from the Dems’: “My friend John and George Bush are joined at the hip. And we need a hip replacement.” – Joe Biden

Witty? Certainly. But I hope that Biden followed it up with facts. It’s funny to watch the pundits and comedians poke fun at the politicians. But I don’t want an entertainer in the Oval Office — or someone who is intent on belittling the opponent in order to grab the headline. How can we not demand that our candidates behave civilly? It doesn’t make them folksy and just like me or Average Joe Citizen. It makes them petty. And mean. It’s the kind of behavior that I would repremand my child for.

I agree with Obama’s statement: this election — as is every election — is too important for the candidates to waste time making trivial, bickering snipes at each other. If you know about an objective analysis of issues discussed in each speech, leave the link in the comments.

About that jet: “That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay,” she told cheering Republican delegates at their convention last week. True, but she left out that it never sold on eBay. And so state staffers had to broker a deal with a buyer” It has been reported that it was sold at a loss to the Alaskan government.

This link cuts through some of the rhetoric from Wednesday night.

For a humorous twist on fact checking comments by the right wing, including their new folk hero. Watch this clip from Jon Stewart.

Sexism in News Coverage
I will agree with the Republicans that some of the reporting has been sexist. But, I don’t think that it is because Sarah Palin is a Republican. Asking about her experience is legitimate; to suggest that it is sexist is cynical, political, empty speech. And it’s political bullshit to suggest that people in the Senate have NO experience and that they are all lazy ‘do-nothings. How convenient to overlook the fact that the Democrats have had the majority for only 2 years and to ignore that it is a slim majority.

Is asking about whether her kids are too young for her to be VP sexist? It isn’t sexist that we ask female candidates. It is sexist that we don’t ask men. What is more sexist than the question is the societal expectation and social norm that women should be the primary caregivers. It isn’t just the press that thinks this.

A better question would be: “How does she do it?” not “How can she do it?”. Although I know many men who co-parent or are the primary caregiver, and I know that men are impacted as well by work/family balance issues, when I look at the women I work with — across all levels of education & skills — it seems like it is the women who continue to bear most of the responsibility for raising their families and keeping things running smoothly in the home. I know many people struggling with the balancing act that do want to know how she manages these issues, rather than imposing the view that she can’t govern because of her children.

What I think is an even more subtle form of sexism — or maybe it is anti-feminism — are the photos of Sarah Palin’s shoes. Did you notice these photos posted in the few days following the announcement of her candidacy?

Although it appears to have been taken down, there was one photo — maybe a crop of the photo with her & McCain’s feet — that only showed her shoes. I immediately wondered if it wasn’t to stress that she dressed like a conservative lady, the antithesis of Hillary’s pantsuits. How ridiculous!

I almost expected to see Podiatrists for Palin signs!

Why would I care about what shoes any of them are wearing?

Conventional Propaganda
Political conventions are carefully crafted shows — the Greek-revival columns reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of King’s I Have A Dream Speech; the 9/11 footage (which I’m glad that I missed); the personal bios of the candidates and their wives (ahem one for Cindy, not for Todd?) — and, whether you agree with them or not, they are meant to be exploitative, to create an image, an ambiance, a brand, a visceral reaction. That is the nature of propaganda. The conventioneers — teary-eyed one moment, enthusiasticlly smiling and applauding the next — make for good television. Neither party passed up the chance for a multi-day infomercial.

Don’t let either party get away with thinking that the American public is so stupid that they will only go for the sound bite. If you haven’t yet made up your mind on the facts, make an informed decision in the next 60 days by reading the candidates’ stances on the substantive issues on their individual websites:, Read about those issues from other sources, too; not just the sources that you typically agree with.

It’s no secret to readers of this blog which candidate I support. If you are going to vote — whether for Obama or McCain — make an informed decision. And if you’re not going to vote and you’re eligible to do so, don’t complain about the next occupants of the White House to me!

>To the f*ckwit who stole the Obama campaign sign in my yard:

>You can venture 45 feet up my driveway and then scamper like a mountain goat 15 feet down a steep ravine to steal my sign, but you CAN’T STEAL MY VOTE OR SILENCE MY VOICE!

I know that it isn’t very kind of me, but right now I really hope that you ran into the poison ivy! May that 3-week miserably itchy rash remind you that what you did was wrong in a country where one of our basic rights is FREE SPEECH. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that just like some of the present leaders in Washington. I’ll defend your right to your political positions, but you do not have a right to trespass on my property in an attempt to silence mine.

BTW — just like the previous 4 signs that have been taken from my property — I’ll replace it. Each time I do I make another campaign contribution. So I guess I shouldn’t call you an asshole; instead, I should call you a campaign contribution stimulus package!

>Red City -> Blue City

>2004 RED

2008 BLUE

Visual evidence of change in political contribution patterns in one metro area.
Map grabbed from Huffington Post.

See campaign contributions in your area here

>Presidential Reading Recommendations

>In today’s New York Times, several authors were asked to recommend books to the 3 current Presidential contenders. Michael Pollan’s recommendations are pertinent to anyone concerned about the environment and justice issues:

I would urge the three presidential candidates to read — or reread — two books from the 1970s that could help them confront the deepening (and now deeply intertwined) problem of our food and energy economies. Long before either climate change or the obesity epidemic were on the national scope, Wendell Berry’s “Unsettling of America” made the case for a way of life and a kind of agriculture that might have averted both — and could still make an important contribution to solving these problems. In “Diet for a Small Planet,” Frances Moore Lappé shone a light on the wastefulness and environmental costs of meat-eating, predicting that humanity’s growing appetite for meat would lead to hunger for the world’s poor. Together these two visionary writers — who fell out of favor during the cheap-food and cheap-energy years that began in the ’80s and are just now coming to a calamitous close — still have much to say about the way out of our current predicament.

As a lover of literature, I enjoyed Gary Wills recommendations the most. Can one ever go wrong with Samuel Johnson, regardless of the era or political crisis of the day? (See page two of the article).

You can read the entire article — including recommendations from a diverse group of writers such as Junot Diaz, Barbara Kingsolver, Scott Turow, John Irving, Steven Pinker, and a most succinct response from Gore Vidal — here.

Cross-posted at EcoJustice08.

>Like Making Sausages

>There is an old adage that politics is like making sausages: best not to watch. As clever as that saying is, and perhaps despite the frequent truthfulness of it, I couldn’t help but think today, as I watched the DNC’s Rules Committee’s proceedings, that it didn’t apply. It was good to watch, to see our democratic process at work. I am not a political activist or a party insider, so I found today’s televised proceedings interesting and informative. I was glad that I had a chance to see the process at work. There are some that will disagree with me — and healthy debate is part of a healthy democracy and should always be encouraged — but I think that, while I only partially agree with the final outcomes, the right actions were taken.

Perhaps I’m more of a rules stickler than I like to let on, but I think that it is important that we have rules in place before a process occurs in order to govern it. You shouldn’t make it up as you go along. Without rules, there is chaos. Still, the decision made last year to not seat the delegates elected by the voters of Florida and Michigan was not the correct one. Especially in the case of Florida, where the Florida Democratic Party was forced to an earlier date by a legislative act by the Republican-dominated legislature, the “punishment” of Florida Democrats was not just ill-advised, and ultimately ineffectual, but it was morally wrong of the DNC to take away the voice of Democrats in the state. I am disappointed that I never heard any of the committee indicate that they were wrong in making that decision, although I suppose, the fact that there was a hearing is an acknowledgment that there was a wrong that needed a remedy. At one point today — and I do not recall who said it — it was mentioned that it wasn’t thought that the refusal to seat the delegations would matter. This should not have been part of the consideration in last year’s ruling; every election is important and the party shouldn’t have assumed that there would be a presumptive nominee by Super Tuesday. To think that, even though it has been the reality in past elections, is truly to discount the importance of voters in a majority of the states in the Union.

That said, there are rules in the Democratic National Party to allow 1/2 votes of delegates, which is what the DNC Rules Committee agreed to do: apportion delegates based on the vote, as recommended by the Florida Democratic Party. As to the argument of ‘let every vote count’, they were counted. Primaries are NOT an election of a candidate, but an election of delegates to the nominating convention. It is not about the candidate that gets the most votes; it is about the candidate that gets the most delegates. This is precisely why they cannot consider those who might have stayed away from the polls; they didn’t exercise their right to vote and therefore there is nothing to count. You cannot assume the will of the non-existent voter. They didn’t vote; they were not a ‘voter’ in this primary election. Those who think that the votes in Florida have not been counted perhaps should go back and review a high school civics textbook.

As for Michigan, the circumstances were a bit different, but I think the fundamental principal is the same. I am glad that the Michigan delegates will be seated and in keeping with the Democratic Party’s rules, it is appropriate to seat them at 1/2 vote. What I think was incorrect in the decision today was that they allocated any votes to Senator Obama. While it is reasonable to assume that supporters of Senator Clinton would not have voted ‘Uncommitted’ when Clinton was on the ballot, one cannot assume that the other votes were for Obama. There were several other candidates on the ballot at the time of the Michigan primary. One can no more ascertain the mind of the voter selecting ‘Uncommitted’ than one can assume what someone who didn’t show up at the poll might have voted if they thought their state primary was more than just a beauty contest. I think it would have been best if they had reinstated the delegates and let Clinton have her delegates based on the percentage of votes that she received. The uncommitted delegates should have then been allowed to make a determination in the same manner as the so-called super delegates. It isn’t the ideal situation, but it is a better way than trying to guess for whom those votes were intended.

What I do think the Rules Committee did correct today, as flawed as the proposals were, was to accept the proposals of each state’s committee. In the end, it is up to the states’ committees to have their delegates to the nominating convention, so it is appropriate that their proposals, worked out within their organization, be agreed to by the national committee. It is the right thing to do, despite the fact that, in the case of Michigan, the methodology for determining the distribution of delegates was flawed. As Alice Huffman, a member of the Rules Committee stated, (after her proposal for seating the Florida delegates at 100% failed), the decision, while not ideal, was the next best thing. She was heckled by some in the crowd, including one person who yelled that it was lipstick on a pig. I could write at length about a feminist take on that comment but will save it for another time.

Ms Huffman, in commenting that it is not a perfect world, is correct. The essence of politics is compromise. It has to be, especially in a diverse party like the Democratic Party. We all should be heard; there shouldn’t be assumptions about what might have happened if things had been different; concessions need to be made. That’s what it’s about. It is like making sausages: kind of unseemly, and in an ideal world sausages wouldn’t be so high in the bad kind of fats, but you don’t get such a bad tasting product in the end.