Gabby, Gabby, Gabby!

If this didn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you have no heart:

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords delivered the Pledge of Allegiance on Thursday night at the DNC

Counting Down: Only Eight Days to Go

Things Are Getting Crazy All Over The Place

A Breakdown of Discipline

Love the Boots & Suit, Governor
Love the Boots & Red Suit, Governor

It seems that the McCain camp is imploding. Says on aide an the campaign in general: “The lack of discipline . . . is unreal” (Politico). Unnamed sources within the camp are turning on Sarah P., saying things such as, “She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said a McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.” One aide has described her as “going rogue” (cnn.com).

Whoa. The election isn’t even over yet, and already they are shooting arrows at each other. And the governor?

Seems she’s only taking advice from that maverick from “The View,” Elizabeth Hasselbeck. The two women decided to keep up the rant on the RNC’s clothes fiasco, pointing out that the governator was back to wearing her own clothes and accessories and labeling the fixation on her wardrobe “sexist,” even when Palin’s handlers had clearly sent the message that the wardrobe topic was, um, off-topic.

And, well governor, actually, no. It’s not sexist. It’s justified criticism at largesse in a time in which real Americans, as the governor likes to call them, are thinking about real issues, you know, bills, mortage payments, health care, 401k’s losing half of their value overnight? Things like that. If John McCain had spent the same amount of money, it would still be an issue, believe me. 

Neo Nazis Take a Road Trip

The very thing that so many people have been worried about has had its first on-the-books attempt. At least it was a half-baked attempt by a couple of supposed neo-nazis with the brain power of Beavis and Butthead. The ATF reports that there is no evidence at this early stage of the investigation that the two men,  Daniel Cowart, 18, and Paul Schlesselman, 20, had ever taken the plan beyond the talking stage. The two met on the Internet. Both are in custody.

Now That’s A Holiday Bonus

“NBC Nightly News” reported tonight that three of the big Wall Street firms involved in the big rescue have set aside money to pay their traders and bankers year-end bonuses . . . yes, I said bonuses. These employees, who normally earn between $80 to $600k annually, depend on these bonuses to make their really big money. The bonuses keep the best employees from jumping ship. I like bonuses. I used to get a Holiday bonus at the newspaper eons ago. It equalled one week’s pay. I thought that was a really great bonus. That being said, let me clarify what these companies are calling bonuses.

Goldman Sachs has set aside $6.8 billion, for an average of $210,000 per employee in bonuses; of course, bonuses would be higher for their bigger earners. Morgan Stanley has set aside only $6.4 billion, for an average of $138,700 per employee; they are being a bit more frugal. Merrill Lynch has set aside $6.7 billion, for an average of $110,000 per employee, which is slightly higher than last year’s bonuses, but that’s because they laid of 3,000 employees recently.

Now, the average American earns $45,000 annually. That figure also comes from the news report. I’m not sure where they got that figure, probably from the IRS. But there is something terribly wrong when the average salary doesn’t begin to come close to the average bonus being proposed on Wall Street, especially since the average American is paying for these bonuses.

Of course, these companies are saying that nothing is set in stone and that the bonuses have yet to be distributed. But these are the same ilk of people as the AIG personnel who went on a junket one week after their bailout and had personalized spa treaments.

I am reminded of the Ronald Reagan quote: The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” If the government helps us out any more on Wall Street, these people are going to end 2008 feeling great, and real Americans are going to need a lifetime supply of antacids.

Getting Closer to that Senate Sixty

Alasksa Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of lying about receiving free gifts from a contractor and convicted on seven corruption charges. The longest-serving Republican Senator who is running for re-election has undoubetedly hurt his political career. But the good news is that the Democrats have probably picked up one more seat towards the sixty-seat majority needed to be filibuster proof.

The 84-year-old senator faces up to five years in prison.

Battleground States No More?

Well, it seems that Obama’s Virginia lead is really a lead. Polls (Washington Post, CNN) are anywhere from 6 to 14 points ahead. Still, I am not counting my chickens and all of that. Other key battleground states that appear to be going blue include Colorado, New Hampshire, and New Mexico.

The Senator will be in Norfolk tomorrow night. I don’t know if I’m ready for another huge crowd, but I’m going to try. Virginia is too important to become complacent. It’s supposed to be a chilly fall night under the stars. I asked for fall, didn’t I? I’ll report back tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

More later. Peace.

The New American Dream: Barack Obama’s Speech to the DNC

I watched the Democratic National Convention last week with a sense of nostalgia. I hadn’t seen the Dems this pumped since Clinton/Gore. For the first time in a long time, the party actually pulled it off: Hillary and Bill got on board; Kerry delivered the speech he should have delivered four years ago; Al Gore was polished, but he should have paused just a bit more. But Biden, Biden delivered big time for Barack Obama and set the stage for the Thursday night speech that ran 42 minutes and left this full-time cynic actually willing to believe again. More people tuned in to watch this man speak than watched the opening of the Olympics, and that alone should tell you something. The first outdoor acceptance speech since JFK was predicted to be light on substance and heavy on political rhetoric, in other words, dream-filled and abstract.

Obama’s speech was packed with proposed policy details, specifically the country’s current economic crisis. It was bold and liberal and unifying. His speech contained strong statements such as this: “We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe.” I actually got chills. Remarkable. In a less effective speaker’s hands, the words would not have had such a dramatic effect.

The man is a born orator, the kind this country hasn’t seen since JFK. He knows how to reach beyond rhetoric and touch the hearts of the common man and woman who are aching to hear something that will give them something to cling to. Like this: “America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this . . . We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.”

I know that I want to be part of a better country than the American of these last eight years. I know that I do not want another four years of the same, no matter how honorable McCain is as a person. We need more than a man who is respected by many people because of his past deeds but who believes that America is on the right track. And Obama was clearly aware of this difference by targeting McCain’s policies in his speech, but never attacking the man himself.

And for those who still want to believe in some type of American Dream, hold on to this:

“You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

“We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

……….

“And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”

The American Dream may have been lost for a while. We may have forgotten how to dream because we were so busy just trying to make do in this harsh reality that has been our lives–the lives in which milk costs $6 a gallon and bread almost $2 a loaf; health insurance is a luxury for many, and dental insurance is completely out of reach. City public schools have classroom sizes of up to 40. A college education without assistance for most families is not possible. The infant mortality rate for the U.S. still ranks with some third world countries. Some of our warriors are on their third tour of duty in Iraq. Foreclosures on homes continue to rise, as do the number of bankruptcies. Families in which both parents work, forcing more latchkey children, continue to become the necessity, not the exception. Three years after Katrina, we still have people who have not been helped. So tell me, is it any wonder that our dreams have taken a back seat? The have-nots far outnumber the haves, yet those who continue to live with platinum parachutes and bypass paying taxes through loopholes don’t have to wonder about the price of gas, bread, or milk, and health insurance is hardly a concern.

Yet the intrepid doers still hold on. We still put out our flags on Memorial Day and the 4th of July because something in us continues to believe in this country of ours. And with luck, perhaps more people than ever will exercise their right to vote this November, instead of taking that right for granted. I don’t care if they are voting because they don’t want a black man as president or a woman as vice president. At least they are participating in the process, and that is their right, whether or not I agree with their choice.

But dammit, at least they have that right, and with any luck, maybe they’ll have a taste of a new American Dream, or at least a remembrance of the old one. We deserve that. We all deserve that. It is not too much to hope for. I refuse to believe that.