Socialism, Taxes, and Sarah Palin’s Wardrobe Malfunction

If It’s Friday, It Must Mean Leftovers Again!

About Your Hero Teddy Roosevelt, Senator McCain

Never let it be said that I like to go taking away people’s lollipops or anything like that, but I feel that it is my civic duty to point something out to the esteemed senator from Arizona since he has developed this affinity for the S word, you know, SOCIALIST. Senator McCain has said on numerous occasions that his hero is Teddy Roosevelt, even though he mangled TR’s most famous quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Teddy Roosevelt was a progressive who was known as a trust buster and believed in regulation. He was also the youngest president to take office at that time—only 42 years old. He was the first U.S. president to call for universal health care and national health insurance, and he was a strong conservationist. Roosevelt himself admits that he was often called a socialist:

Because of things I have done on behalf of justice to the workingman, I have often been called a Socialist. Usually I have not taken the trouble even to notice the epithet. … Moreover, I know that many American Socialists are high-minded and honorable citizens, who in reality are merely radical social reformers. They are opposed to the brutalities and industrial injustices which we see everywhere about us.

Roosevelt went on to make the distinction that many people who were called socialists were actually just people who were social reformers.

I find it interesting that this young man with such far-reaching ideas went on to become what many agree one of our better presidents, first as a Republican and then as a progressive who believed in graduated income tax. If you are interested in a really good read on what Teddy Roosevelt in a speech on New Nationalism in 1910 that is eerily reminiscent of what is going on today, go to this link:

It’s deja vu all over again.

“The Amendment Before the Senate is a Very Simple One”

This was John McCain speaking to the Senate in 1993 on the use of campaign funding for purchases of things such as clothing:  “It restricts the use of campaign funds for inherently personal purposes. The amendment would restrict individuals from using campaign funds for such things as home mortgage payments, clothing purchases  . . . and vacations or other trips that are non campaign in nature.”

Um, Senator, that was actually a pretty good proposal. What happened? Did the barracuda hypnotize you into believing that Needless Markup was a campaign stop?

So Senator McCain, any comment on $49,425.74 from Saks Fifth Avenue? Or how about that $75,062.63 shopping spree in early September? (wow, that’s a lot of black boots and a great leather coat) . . . Would you care to comment on $4,716.49 on hair and makeup expenditures in September? Or those September payments to Barney’s New York ($789.72) and Bloomingdale’s New York ($5,102.71). Actually, there is one line item to which I cannot take exception since I have been calling for the sprucing up of the Todder since day one, and that is the $4,902.45 that was spent in early September at Atelier, a high-class shopping destination for men. (I have noticed that Todders is wearing more suits and ties; good on you, Todders old boy).

But all of this shopping leaves me vicariously tired and more than a little envious, and, I have to say, quite puzzled. After all, if the campaign paid for this, does this mean that all of those wonderful people who sent in contributions to support the McCain campaign actually footed the bill for the outfitting of the Palin family? Hmmmm.

Do you think that those folks at home might be a little miffed by this news? After all, I know that if my little contributions to the Obama campaign had gone to buy the Senator a new pair of Ferragamo shoes instead of more yard signs, I might be just a wee bit put out, but then, I’m a Democrat and not a Republican, so maybe I really do think differently. Maybe Republican campaign contributors don’t mind that their money went towards buying one of the Palin daughters a Louis Vuitton purse, because, after all, isn’t that what all daughters on the campaign trail traveling illegally on the State of Alaska’s money are carrying? What do I know?

But, as a campaign spokeswoman said, all of the clothing will be donated to charity after the campaign. Um, okay. I cannot wait to see what happens when some underling comes to take away the clothes from the governator. That, my friends, will be worth the price of admission.

Sneaky, Sneaky, Sarah P.

I almost missed this on the interview that the governor and Senator McCain had on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. When pressed on the topic of terrorism, Governor Palin would not commit on whether or not bombing abortion clinics was domestic terrorism. She just kept repeating that what Bill Ayers did was domestic terrorism. She couched her answer very well by saying that anyone who threatens “innocent lives” is a terrorist, which is standard rhetoric for a pro-lifer. The threat to innocent lives in this case would be the actual abortion clinic. However, much to Palin’s chagrin, McCain did clarify quickly in a pass by saying that he did not condone bombing of anything, including abortion clinics.

Oooh, and don’t ask her if she’s a feminist either. I swear she twitched at that question. Why yes, she’s for equal rights, and all of that, dontcha know, but a feminist? She’s not a lesbian, gosh darn it, and she shaves her legs. What are you thinking, Mr. Brian Williams? Ahem.

What Qualifies as Experience?

In that same interview, John McCain brought up the Cuban Missile Crisis as proof that he has “been tested” on the world stage when it comes to dealing with international crises. During the CMC, McCain was a fighter pilot; his role? He was sitting in the cockpit of his jet on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise. He was awaiting orders. Now, I do not mean in any way to diminish his role as a fighter pilot; however, awaiting orders during the missile crisis while President Kennedy and his advisors were going toe-to-toe with Nikita Kruschev is hardly being directly involved in the negotiations to avert the crisis.

Maybe what McCain did learn from this crisis is that by being cool-headed and listening to your advisors, you can avert a national disaster and prevent a nuclear war. Maybe what Sarah Palin learned, in all of her vast reading is that it takes more than a nice suit and good shoes to have grace under fire. Kennedy, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, had to have the courage of his convictions in the CMC. He had to make decisions with little time, and he had to second guess his opponent. He also had to go against the advice of many of his senior advisors based on what amounted to a pretty good hunch.

I’m sorry, but I just simply do not feel good about trusting my future to a woman who truly believes in an America full of us and thems. Her hunches would be more frightening than a tempest in a teapot. And John McCain has been standing on his record as a POW for so long that he no longer sees reality clearly. The man is a demagogue. Together, Palin and McCain scare the bejeezus out of me. Truly.  Talk about being tested within a year to see how well they hold up in a crisis . . . now that’s a mortifying proposition.

More later. Peace.

Notes From the Road #2 (If I Were On the Road)

Fifteen Days and Counting

You Meet the Most Interesting People Sometimes

Yesterday I was working the phone banks at the Obama Campaign Headquarters, and I spoke with a 67-year-old woman who hasn’t voted since the Kennedy election. She told me that she hasn’t really wanted to participate in politics since then, but she decided that this election was too important not to participate. She also said that she thought that Barack Obama was the first candidate to come along since Kennedy to give her hope.

Most of the people on my calling list were over 65, and I was surprised by how many said that they were voting for Obama. Of course, several people hung up on me right away, which is always the case when you are making these kinds of calls, and then you have more people who screen now, so you leave the scripted message for the answering machine or voice mail, and hope that they listen to it. But with a lot of the elderly, you find that they are willing to talk to you because they do not get many telephone calls, so they are more generous with their time. Corey found himself on the phone with one gentleman for half an hour and ended up talking about FDR and Truman; he said that it was one of the most interesting telephone conversations that he has ever had. The gentleman was 88 years old.

One of the things that really impresses me about this campaign is how organized they are in Virginia. In Hampton Roads alone, they have over five headquarters; whereas the Kerry campaign had only one. The other thing that I think is really great is that these people are making sure that anyone who needs a ride to the polls is going to get one. Giant marker board already have lists of names and destinations. “Get out the vote” is alive and well in my town! How awesome is that. A Democrat hasn’t carried Virginia since Jimmy Carter. I’m not counting any chickens, that’s why I plan to volunteer as much as my back will let me these next two weeks.

Colin Powell Endorses Barack

He may be a Republican, but his endorsement carries weight. Former Secretary of State said in an interview on “Meet the Press” that he endorses Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president even though he has known John McCain for over 20 years and the junior Senator from Illinois for only two because he believes that Obama offers offers a better chance to repair “frayed” relations with countries around the world. Powell also said that he is “troubled” by McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his choice of Vice President and that he does not believe that she is ready to be Vice President.

Many believe that Powell’s endorsement will be especially helpful to Obama’s campaign in counteracting charges that he is not ready to be Commander in Chief, especially since Powell commands a great deal of respect as former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Bush I. Personally, I really liked what the General had to say about the comments accusing Obama of being a Muslim. In essence, Powell said, he’s not, but what if he were? As a country, we have to recognize that we are a country composed of people of many faiths, and just because someone is a Muslim, does not make them un-American or not patriotic. Powell then went on to relate the story of a mother grieving over her son’s grave at Arlington cemetery. The boy was 10 when 9-11 happened, and he waited until he was old enough to enlist so that he could serve his country. He happened to be Muslim.

Sarah P. on SNL

Never thought you’d hear me say this, but props to Sarah Palin for her appearance on Saturday Night Live. The governor actually did a good job in her cameo on the show Saturday. I think that it was a great idea to pair her with Alec Baldwin. Actually, I don’t know why I’m so surprised. Palin is a born performer; it obviously her milieu. She loves the spotlight and the cameras do love her. It’s just real people that she doesn’t do so well with . . .

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the youtube clip. I would post it here, but it’s such a long clip that it would eat up my allotted space.

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

I finally managed to nab an Obama/Biden yard sign. I’ll keep you posted on whether or not it stays in my yard. I’m surrounded by McCain/Palin signs. After a quick drive through the neighborhood, I’ve espied only three other Obama signs. While Democrats might carry the state, I doubt they’ll carry my neighborhood. They definitely won’t get my mother’s vote. She’s still one of the old guard who believes that he’s a terrorist, and there is no convincing her otherwise. One of the people Corey talked to on the phone yesterday told him that she was convinced that if Obama won the election that the White House would become the Black House. Fortunately, I didn’t talk to any people who responded in that way, and I’m not really sure what I would have done if I had. Bit my tongue I suppose since it wasn’t my telephone or my call, technically.

That is one of the problems with calling on behalf of someone. When you are representing someone else, there is a certain amount of decorum required. Even I, in my curmudgeonly ways know that, but it’s still an irksome position in which to find oneself when you would like nothing better than to start spewing facts and statistics.

However, facts and statistics are lost on the ignorant and closed-minded. I should know this after encountering it numerous times on my own. When an individual has already taken a stand based primarily on fear and ignorance, nothing can change that position, least of all logic. Fear is one of the greatest motivators known to humankind. It’s what drives terrorism, wars, cults, murders, and all kinds of violence, domestic and other. What we fear, we seek to destroy. Only those who choose to enlighten themselves, to take another path to rid themselves of their fears, are able to overcome fear without violence, whether that violence is internal or external.

Oddly enough, it was a stream of consciousness quote on “ER” for the character Abby that reminded me of some of this. The first part of the quote was from Job Chapter 3. In verse 25 Job says, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” But as Abby is leaving the ER, she has moved on, and the stream of consciousness has changed to Chapter 38, which is actually god’s response to Job:

“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
       or walked in the recesses of the deep?

 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
       Have you seen the gates deep shadows?

 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
       Tell me, if you know all this.”

Now, I really don’t know a lot of Bible verses. This just happens to be one with which I am familiar because it is beautifully poetic, and when I heard it, I knew that I remembered it from somewhere, so I Googled it. But as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, I am a believer in signs, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the hate and anger that has been bandied about on this campaign and what that means, and how the charges of anti-Americanism are being hurled so easily.

And all of this has reminded me of being a little girl with olive skin, newly back in this country and how hate was so easily thrown my way, and I had no idea as to why. So I ponder hate and racism and bigotry frequently lately, and I watch the clips of the rallies, and I worry about the lunatic fringe. And then I hear beautiful words such as “Have you comprehended the vast expanse of the earth?” and for a moment I feel peace and hope, and I pray that in the end, people will remember that we are all Americans, that a different name, and a different skin color is just that—different, nothing else. Not worth hating. Not something to be “greatly feared.”

Peace. More later.

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.