Friday, October 31, 2008

Financing Campaigns

McCain is once again criticizing Barack Obama for not taking taxpayer financed campaigning with its accompanying government limitations. He repeated it again after Obama put out his great half hour infomercial. How unfair that Obama would have money for that, that Obama would spend so much money to win this election or so goes the Republican whine.

Obama is running on the support of people people like my family who have given more money than we ever have to any candidate. We have given money when we could have spent it on pleasures for ourselves. We did it because we thought it was too important to hold back. This is true of many families across this nation. The call has gone out that if we want to make a change, we have to do it.

When we gave that money to the Obama campaign, we wanted it to be for things like the infomercial and as many ads and campaign events as he can afford. When this election is over, we want Obama's campaign to be like this old saying:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming ... WOW! What a ride!”

The Republicans have made accusations that the election is being bought. If it is, it's from people all around this country. We gave it for him to use; and if he ended up with a lot left over, we'd be disappointed. Spend it all and if we lose, let it not be because any of us held back. This is a time to put it all out there and hope it's enough.

The Republicans, surprisingly enough, have found fault with Obama for not accepting taxpayer money for this election. But what is he running on if not taxpayer money? Money freely given because of belief in the cause.

The kind of campaign Obama has run, sticking to the issues, pointing out where McCain has been wrong but not going into the mud, that has proven to us that our money has been well spent.

If there is anything frustrating, it is that we are also funding John McCain's even though we don't believe in anything he or Palin stand for. Now that's the real thing to question.

I thought the infomercial was great. I was fortunate enough to watch it with Parapluie. Farm Boss had a business trip planned for California which gave the two of us a chance to get together for an overnighter, time to watch female oriented movies. We had fun and got in watching the infomercial while we did.

Obama's program didn't give new information (other than that he has read to his girls every single Harry Potter book); but it brought up the problems our country is facing. Maybe for someone who is undecided or hasn't been paying attention, it will have reassured them about what Obama is running to do.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Religion and Gay Marriage

Sarah Palin is the most far right, religious candidate, in my lifetime, to have a chance to be president. This impacts many of her viewpoints for instance her desire, as she told James Dobson in a publicized interview, to see a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. None of this letting the states decide.

Why is banning gay marriage so important to christianists? To start, they do not see homosexuality as natural. To them it's a sin. The very idea that people might live normal lives, have marriages, children, be monogamous and also homosexual is an offense. It scares them and they then try to scare everybody else. What is the problem here? Do they think homosexuality is catching? Probably.

Palin and those like her are apparently happier to have gays being promiscuous and having no family life. Actually, that's not true. She thinks they can come to her church, be prayed over and turn heterosexual. It then is their choice if they don't marry someone of the opposite sex and hence not unfair at all.

Unlike abortion which isn't only about religion, the banning of gay marriage is totally about religion. Fear tactics of something happening like Sodom and Gomorrah are used to terrify heterosexual people into making laws to limit the freedoms of those unlike themselves. Do this or god will zap Los Angeles this time-- and what if he misses and gets your city?

In my opinion, in humans we see three reasons people are homosexual or engage in sex with those of their same sex.

The first is from birth. Homosexuality is a natural occurrence in nature in all animals and we are animals. This ruins the theory of those who see homosexuality as about sin. How can an animal sin? Homosexuality can be from birth and totally natural.

Then I think there is no denying that some turn to homosexuality because of early abuse, sexual experiences before they were ready for them. This can lead to a revulsion in the opposite sex and a desire for their own. This probably can be changed through prayer or even counseling if the person so desires; but if they are happy as they are, then why do that. It's all in what works for their lives today.

Then there is the last kind which the Apostle Paul made the most out of when he was writing Romans 1. Out of a decadent lifestyle, out of promiscuity, out of seeing sexuality as all about what feels good (or seems to), some might go in and out of homosexual relationships. There are those who will have sex with anybody and anything. Watch out sheep!

Promiscuity (characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, esp. having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis) is, in my opinion, not good for anybody. What happened in Sodom and Gomorrah was rape and abuse. Homosexuals should no more defend that kind of behavior than heterosexuals. I also believe children should be protected from sex until they reach adulthood. That men boy love society that is in the homosexual political movement, should be tossed into the garbage with all pedophiles.

Back to the issue. Homosexuals, who are happy as they are, who want to be monogamous (at least serially like heterosexuals), who want families, should have the right and be respected in their choice. This is the foundation of stable communities. There is only one reason they are not and it's religion. It's not about safety or order in society. It's religion!

I know it might not seem like it makes sense to some, since I'm not gay and none of my kids are, but the right for gays to have a marriages like heterosexuals is a very big issue for me. I am hoping California votes down Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage. I was very disappointed when Oregonians voted to ban gay marriage. Oregon. What the heck was that all about where we normally respect the rights of the individual?

From the government's position, two people coming together sexually to form a family is a legal, business contract, not a religious one. The government does not require a religious celebration to make a marriage count; so let's recognize fairness for all of our sakes. From the government's perspective, call all future such contracts (hetero or homo)--civil unions.

Churches should not be forced to allow those marriages in their denominations if they believe it's a sin. Let churches decide which are marriages under their concept of god. The government end of it should not be a religious one.

To me, this is for the kids growing up. It upsets me that some who experience true love don't fit someone else's religious norms and thus are denied openly forming families. This is wrong. For government to recognize gay marriage does NOT hurt heterosexual marriages. The fear, that it does, means religion has stepped over its bounds, something it does a lot-- lately and through history.

[After I wrote this, I thought of two more things I should have added but it was already auto posted. One if there are those who read here who are homosexual, feel free to correct anything I got wrong.

The other is something I personally believe, but not sure it would fit above. I think some people are not born homosexual, weren't abused, haven't lived decadently but they meet a soul mate and that person is of their sex. Because of my belief in reincarnation, which I know all don't believe, I think such souls might meet, and sexually come together again because their soul connection matters more than the sex of the other person. That is definitely personal opinion though as I don't know it.]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Freedoms Republicans offer

Today's Republicans run for office on the concept that they are the party of freedom. I heard it Tuesday again from Palin and McCain. Democrats want to take away your freedoms. As a life-long Democrat, I find the accusation amazing, but it's what they say. So I tried to think what freedoms Republicans offer, or would like to offer, that Democrats would take away. I did come up with a few.

The freedom to pay oil companies as much money as they can squeeze out of the customers. No negotiating for lower prices, no discouraging of monopolies because it's freedom to have them charging these prices (insert pharmaceutical where appropriate).

The freedom to have aging parents live with grown children (or in poor houses) as the socialist program Social Security disappears.

The freedom to not go to doctors or buy prescriptions because we can't afford it. Thanks to the Republicans, the share the wealth programs of Medicare and Medicaid would finally be gone.

The freedom to try and find a back alley for abortions.

The freedom to hide gay relationships and not openly live together with the rights of all families.

The freedom to not watch the entertainment of our choice-- sex is bad. Nipple slips are very bad. Violence, especially in war movies, is good. Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver are even better.

The freedom to not pay taxes.

The freedom for those in the middle or lower economic levels to have their grown children not be able to afford more education or find good paying jobs and hence join the military in order to eventually get that education and to move out of the parental home-- this benefit reverses itself when the parents get old.

The freedom to have those same children fight wars overseas to protect corporate interests spread democracy.

The freedom of small government. Well it might be bigger, as it has grown under recent Republican control but it will benefit a different group as in corporations like Halliburton with no-bid contracts. This enables a private army of mercenaries (Blackwater) to rise up on American soil-- which could be handy for Republicans of the future in case the need for spreading democracy comes to the homeland.

The freedom to breathe bad air and drink polluted water because regulations cost too much.

The freedom to ignore science where it comes to anything that costs businesses money. Along with this goes the freedom to build anywhere someone wants, construct roads, dams, drill oil wells, whatever without having to look at possible environmental (a socialist word) damage.

The freedom to pay for private (grades one through twelve) schooling with a stipend given by the government called vouchers (whether we paid taxes or not but it can't be socialism since it's being done by Republicans) and hence the end of quality public education. This is good because public education has been too liberal.

The freedom to not go to college, except for the rich, as colleges lose socialist, government funding and scholarships based on need are definitely socialism. Anyway, colleges are hotbeds for teaching citizens things that confuse their fragile minds.

The freedom to ridicule anyone with an education as an elitist. If you can spell, you are one. You can see where destroying public education helps with this.

hmmmmm what am I missing? Can anyone think of more freedoms Republicans offer that Democrats deny? And any Republicans still reading here, please feel free to come up with a reverse one about the freedoms Democrats would take away-- if you can...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joe the Plumber?

This breaks the plan I had set in my mind to write more about religion right away, but I couldn't believe it today. Joe the Plumber is the next foreign affairs expert to defend and endorse the McCain administration! Are you kidding me?!

From Sarah Palin who is clueless about anything beyond Alaska's borders, and most of what is there, and now we are hearing from Joe the Plumber as the advocate for how wise a McCain administration would be. This cannot be real, can it?

So Joe gets serious news coverage when he declares Obama would lead to destruction of Israel. This is the next Republican star? This is getting weirder and weirder. The Republican party definitely does not believe in experience. I almost feel sad about it. It's like the destruction of a political philosophy that had some merit but has now reduced itself to soundbites and the person who would be fun at the barbecue for the next leader.

When did Republicans decide they want the guy/gal next door to be their president? A desirable attribute in a leader running for president is they know as much as you know? Why not use a lottery instead of an election?

Separation of church and state

Basically I never like writing about religion and the candidates. Part of it is in knowing religion is something in which many people find comfort. My own beliefs are not mainstream. I have written about them and won't go more into it except as it relates to politics. To be honst, I could more easily vote for an atheist than a religious zealot. That doesn't mean I would not vote for a religious person, but it would be with a caveat.

I think someone's spirituality should show up in their actions. I trust how I see people treat others, how they live their lives more than pious words. When I vote, it's never going to be on how close someone claims they are to god. In fact, that might be a deal breaker. I have known too many people who use religious jargon to gain power.

We are in the war in Iraq at least partly because GW Bush convinced himself and others that he could receive guidance and advice from his father in heaven therefore had no need to discuss diplomatic or war strategies with his father on earth. He has said god told him to run for president. Many people believed him, and it reassured them where it came to voting-- if god wants him, how can I say otherwise. Maybe he even believed himself.

Because of how the religious right is operating today in America, to write about an election, I can't avoid the subject of separation of church and state. Religion is one of those issues that can fall under character, temperament or issues unless it's all fraud when religion becomes a mask, a subterfuge.

I said I wouldn't vote for a zealot, but what about ordinary, everyday religious types? If they don't try to tell me it's why they should be elected, if they don't preach to me in every speech, if they aren't determined to foist their religion onto me, if their religion provides them community, security and stability, then it would not prejudice my vote.

To some voters, their view of religion in candidates would be the exact opposite of mine. They want to know the candidate's beliefs about god. They want that person's religious beliefs to fit comfortably with their own. While I might overlook religion, they would demand it. Some of this is from fear of what god might do to them if they elect the wrong person.

People like James Dobson foster this fear. Here is a letter he sent to his followers: What will happen in four years if Barack Obama is elected president. Naturally, the letter has made the email circuits. My daughter said when she got it, she sent back this question-- what no meteor strikes?

[Dobson makes a good case for a flat tax rate with no deductions for anything or at least making sure that any group like his are considered political action, not religions.]

If any presidential candidate was not openly Judeo-Christian, could they be elected today in the United States? I doubt it. Does this make sense? Not to me.

For the 2008 presidential election, we have four candidates who all claim to be Christians. Other than Joe Biden (practicing Catholic so does he have accountability for the pedophile priests? just kidding... kind of), the other three all have wacky pastors in their backgrounds one way or another.

Although McCain does not (that I know of) attend a fundamentalist church, he did request the endorsement of zealots who believe god brings bad things like terrorist attacks (and this wasn't just Jeremiah Wright but also Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell) or hurricanes to punish the wicked (John Hagee). I should add that the bad things strike innocent people not the wicked. Does god have bad aim?

With the current candidates, Sarah Palin is the religious zealot. Worth reading: Is Palin a Christian Nationalist? In reading anything about her religious beliefs, she sounds like someone who believes in a theocracy. She thinks she got the governorship because of a witch doctor's anointing; and if she ends up President Vice President, she will feel it was god's gift to her-- and the country, of course.

From the media coverage, you might get the impression that Christians are united behind one candidate and that's Palin, but the ones who most want Palin are what I call christianists-- a form of the Christian religion with little adherence to what Jesus actually taught. They get their religious ideas at least partly from an early fundamentalist, the Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the Letters of the Apostles to early Christians to explain what Jesus really meant.

[Paul had been a fundamentalist Jew, had a cathartic, religious experience on the road to Damascus that converted him to Christianity. He then set about changing the free form of Jesus's teachings from it's what is in your heart that matters most into something with rules, consequences and basically preparing it for a new church to take over power. I don't put down Paul for what he did. This is how he saw life and what he truly believed as he expounded on many things like women not teaching in the church, females wearing head coverings because Eve got fooled by the serpent and not Adam, and on and on with equal illogic which could lead to a book more than a blog.]

Whether people such as Dobson or Agee are Christians or christianists, I obviously cannot say for sure (but could hazard a guess), there are Christians who do favor Obama. Some of them have formed a group called Matthew 25 which takes marching orders from the Gospels, not the letters of the apostles.

To be honest, given my own views of religion today, you won't see me mentioning one of the pluses for Obama is that he's an ardent Christian, which I do believe he is. I give him credit however, that he seems to know the Bible and understands the heart of Christ's teaching, but I'd rather not hear sermons from politicians.

Repeating where I came in, I don't want any of these candidates to tell me I should vote for them because of the church they attend-- or don't.

The founding fathers, who knew something about religious persecution, had it right-- separation of church and state. That doesn't mean banning religion. It means not letting it be a reason for selecting leaders. It's way too easy to defraud with pious words followed by anything but ethical deeds.

Because it's such an important issue with many ramifications for citizens in our country, because I have a LOT of ideas on it, this is the first of three blogs on the subject of religion in politics. Coming soon will be the political ramifications of religion on two issues-- homosexuality and abortion.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The problem with the Republican party and McCain

As a break from my writing about politics, I had said I'd like to share now and then views from others. The following is something my daughter wrote in an email and shared with me. I might add I agree with all she says.

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As a bit of a disclaimer, I'm a life long Democrat, but I consider myself an Oregon Democrat and I think that is a little bit different. Oregon has a long tradition of voting more the person and less the party. We are a relatively liberal state (depending on the issues) that often voted Republican. Our best governor in recent history was a
Republican. We've had many good Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle - good people that I respected regardless of their party affiliation. I may not have always agreed with them on every issue, but I knew they voted on their principles and had logical reasons for their positions.

It has been many years, though, since I have felt that I could vote for a Republican candidate. What happened to the true conservatives that took care of the environment, believed in responsible (not necessarily small) government and minding their own business when it came to personal issues?

I am dismayed by the Republican Party's rejection of intellectuals and education. This is not only my view. Read David Brooks and Christopher Buckley (son of William F. Buckley Jr.) just to name a couple. I feel that the Republican party has been hijacked by the neo-conservatives who want to use the U.S. military to shape the world to their view and the Religious Right. Using their agenda of fear and
"God, guns, and gays" they have grabbed a lot of power and consolidated huge amounts of money in the pockets of a few.

I have watched with dismay as the mantras that all taxes and all government are bad have gutted our school system, our libraries, public safety, and our infrastructure. As our schools have declined, roads and bridges disintegrated, and libraries closed, businesses have left our state or decided not to come. How can they get good employees to move here when we rank 49th in the country for number of school nurses (just to name one recent statistic)? Foreign businesses are moving their factories out and taking good paying jobs with them. How is this good for business or pro-business?

John McCain says that he stands separate from the Republican Party that has gotten us where we are now, maybe that was once even true. But his nomination of Sarah Palin for Vice-President says otherwise now. She stands firmly in both the neo-conservative and Religious Right camps. Just the thought of her as President sends chills down my spine. As a woman, I am insulted by her pick. There were many intelligent women who would have made good Vice-Presidents (Kay Bailey Hutchison, Olympia Snow, Christy Todd Whitman, etc.) but they would not have satisfied the Religious Right because they were too moderate and believe in individual choice and minding their own business.

Palin says she stands for cleaning up government, but after only 22 months as governor she is already embroiled in abuse of power investigations and possible wrong doing in per diem billing. They say this is only about politics, but these
investigations were started before she was even on the national radar. She completely lacks intellectual curiosity. I am tired of our national leaders sounding like B Western actors. I want someone who can speak intelligently about all the issues, not just the ones on the script. I could go on about this for hours. I feel very strongly that she is a horrible choice for our country. If John McCain really believes in putting country first, why did he put her on the ticket?

John McCain said that he thought this election was going to be about personality and character. I wanted to disagree with him and focus on the issues, but after some thought, I think he's right. Character does matter. I didn't like Bill Clinton when he originally ran (I voted for anyone else in the primary) because I thought he lacked good character and look how that all ended up. And I am not impressed by John McCain's character. I'll just skip, in the interest of good manners, the personal stuff about his marriages, but suffice it to say that he has not been any more of an exemplary family man than was Bill. I will, however, discuss my feelings about other aspects of his character.

John McCain, by his own admission, says he makes snap decisions, gut decisions, and then has to live the consequences of those choices. Well, that might be fine if you are only making decisions for yourself, but when you are President of the United States of America we all have to live with the consequences of your decisions. We've had "shoot from the hip" and "I've looked into his soul and feel I know the man" for the past 8 years and I'd like something different.

John McCain came from a privileged background as the son and grandson of admirals. He was a legacy into the Naval Academy, but instead of making the most of his good fortune, he squandered it. He has bragged, on more than one occasion, that he graduated at the bottom of his class, as if that is something of which to be proud. And that goes back to what I said earlier about the rejection of education and intellect.

Whatever his personal feelings are, he has let his campaign run a very nasty race. You can say that both sides are horrible, but a non partisan analysis of the ad campaigns of both candidates noted that 100% of John McCain ads in the last two months were negative as compared with 30% of Barack Obama's. And when Obama supporters or the media came out with things like Bristol Palin's pregnancy, Obama and Biden leaped all over them and denounced that tack at once.

When John Lewis compared the negative tone of the McCain campaign to the civil rights issues of the 60s, the Obama campaign came out immediately that day renouncing that stand. It took a negative backlash from the public before John McCain began reining in his supporters and he still hasn't done anything about
his running mate. (You know, she said recently that from the podium she
couldn't hear the comments like "Kill him". I might believe her if I hadn't heard her respond at one rally to similar cries "Wow, you guys really get it." I didn't read this on the internet, I heard it myself on the radio.) Presidential campaigns always get a little nasty, but this one has been pretty bad, and it takes a lot of gall to say your opponent's campaign is running a dirty race while yours is robo-calling and saying he pals around with terrorists. I also can't believe that John McCain would use this kind of tactics when they were used against him in 2000 by the Bush campaign. I think that it says something about his character.

I feel it is one thing to try to make your opponents' platform look bad and your own to look good. That's campaigning, I'm not crazy about it but I understand. But it quite something else to out and out lie about what your opponent plans to do. I feel that one of the things that has really bothered me about the Republican brand in recent years is their tactic of saying the same thing again and again regardless of its truth (like the "Bridge to Nowhere" schtick). It's like they believe that if they say it often enough we will be stupid enough to eventually believe it. I'm seeing a lot of that coming from the McCain campaign and I'm tired of it.

I feel that John McCain lacks the good character that I would like to have in my candidate for President. I'm sure we will never agree on all the issues, but as I said earlier, sometimes the heart of the person matters just as much.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why Obama is the right leader for today


We, who support his candidacy, talk of Barack Obama's focus, his ability to look to the long range goals and find ways to move toward them. This was on the news the other day and it shows this is nothing new for Obama: Obama in 1991.



It is all very well to say something just to get elected. Often it means that person will not fulfill any of the promises; but what about someone who has a clear sense of what it takes to move ahead as a culture and carries it with them for years? How about someone who takes the positions, learns the things, meets the people, that will be required to accomplish those goals?

People say Obama is too young and too inexperienced but history shows it has often been young men who bring about great change whether it's in music, science or politics. Alexander the Great was not much out of his childhood when he conquered the world. In terms of life experience, Obama has many things going for him that will serve him in good stead.

Obama is a man for the times and what he has done and offers is why he might be able to accomplish what someone else could not. People with focus stand apart from the average person who is driven by this or that wind. Age isn't the issue. There are things that matter more and some could be in their oh say 70s and still not have that kind of strength of purpose.

By his campaign, Obama has shown us what kind of administration he will have if he is elected president. He is intelligent, well organized, chooses people who can move toward the goals he has laid out. He is a man capable of inspiring others to do more than they had ever done before.

This election is not just voting against someone who is wrong, someone who will work against our nation and the world's best interest, but it is a chance to vote for someone who has the skills, the temperament and the inner sense of self to do what needs doing without distractions.

Obama's skills include being trained in the Constitution-- something of particular value given how Bush and Cheney have done all they can to undo many constitutional rights.

As a Commander-in-Chief, he brings strength and a good mind-- Obama talking to Patraeus. Obama wisely didn't attempt to put the general down but did have a meaningful discourse as they discussed the problem from both of their perspectives.

Obama has worked as a neighborhood organizer and despite Palin not comprehending what that means, it means he has worked with people on the ground level. He understands real problems and how to work with people, not from needing dictatorial powers but from motivating people to do what will in the end work best.

His benefits to us as a president will include his stable and supportive home life, something you can't underestimate in the pressure cooker of the White House.

Obama chose a wife who is his equal and that means he values strong women. Men who don't value strong women choose women they can control . Obama chose a woman he could go to for wisdom-- a woman who would tell him when he was wrong. He is a man who is strong enough to listen without being threatened.

Obama's time in state legislature, and then the United States Senate, have taught him about passing laws, about working with the opposing party. He talks about the need to compromise and he knows what that means. A president is not a dictator-- not yet.

There has been much talk about how governors are superior to legislators for getting things done in Washington. That would depend on the governor, but basically a president has to work with the Congress and with other countries. To be someone who has learned how this works is a major plus.

When Obama came into his maturity, coming from two ethnic groups, he had to decide for himself what were his core values. He had experienced a lot in his growing up years-- some of it pretty tough with his father deserting the family. I have known personally men like him, who had their own parents not be there for them, but they decided they'd be different and they did so when they became parents. Obama was fortunate to have such loving grandparents who could step in and become surrogates, who brought him up so well.

I read how his white grandfather (who incidentally you can see he looks a lot like) took him to spend time with the poet, Frank Marshall Davis. Davis was a socialist, perhaps even a communist, but he also was a black and Obama's grandfather wanted him to know men of his father's race, to experience other ideas.

We see this trend to explore ideas in all of Obama's life, his curiosity, his willingness to learn, and they all helped to form the man he is today with a core set of principles which will stand him in good stead as he has to face not only the opposition party but his own (although I have read that a lot of the new Democrats coming into the Congress are more blue dog and conservative than the ones in the past. Good because, despite what Republicans are saying now, I agree with them. It's never good for one set of ideas to dominate with no room for thinking where they lead or what is best. We saw how well that didn't work these last 8 years with McCain supporting the president 90% of the time while he now says he disagreed with his ideas. Say what!).

Obama isn't someone who talks in terms of just winning or victory. He understands that you have to know what you are winning and over and over he talks about us being one nation and our need to see each other that way. He has even said he's a citizen of the world which has upset some Republicans who think they only live in the United States, not on the earth.

Obama has shown he respects different kinds of ideas but he has firmly established ones of his own. He is able to talk to others about their ideas. He has something the rest of us have to work hard to attain-- the ability to not take things personally, to explore differences without needing to insult or divide. His campaign has been one of the finest for staying with issues of any I have seen in my many years.

Obama understands the need for physical exercise to work out the emotional stresses. The press gives him a bad time for working out when he will be facing a debate or on his European trip. Someone who understands that even a president has to stay balanced, spiritually, emotionally and physically, that is someone who can go the distance. It's part of what helps him keep his equanimity.

The ideas Obama has committed himself to working toward are also part of why him and why now. We need him today. Some say let him wait. He can grow and get more mature. But our country can't afford to wait. This country needs his kind of leadership now! We can't afford more George Bushes and heaven forbid even worse. We can't afford those who think god will intervene and fix anything or smite a people for what someone else did. We can't afford those who misunderstand what even Christianity is. If you ever heard the speech Obama gave about the Old Testament, which some are saying shows he isn't truly Christian, what it shows instead is that he gets it!

If you haven't already voted, if you are undecided, go to the Obama site and read his positions on various issues. Think long and hard about what you are doing this time. There is no time to vote selfishly. We have to vote for what the country needs. Who knows whether we will get such a chance again!

Here is one more YouTube. An important one given how they have been reinterpreting Obama's discussion with Joe the plumber. Hearing it all, hearing how Obama responded to him, how he explained his ideas even understanding they disagreed, it says a lot about Barack Hussein Obama, more than my words can say: Joe the Plumber and Obama's discussion.

Friday, October 24, 2008

McCain on foreign affairs


When Joe Biden once again earned his reputation for speaking off the cuff and not thinking how his words might be taken, he said the young Obama presidency would likely face some type of world test, manufactured or real in its first term. John McCain knew just what to do with those words-- morph them into something they were not and use them to his own advantage. Choose me. I know how to handle it all.

Due to being a POW (what does that teach you about fighting a war or tactical strategies?), having walked through a Baghdad bazaar and said how safe it was (ignoring his need to wear a bulletproof vest, ignoring gunship helicopters overhead, ignoring that those in his party bragged how they could buy a rug for $5. You think the merchants liked that price?), and because McCain was so right about Iraq and how easy that war would be, we should pick him as the next war president. Assuming we have forgotten he was actually wrong and assuming we want a next war, what about foreign affairs? You know the kind where you don't bomb bomb bomb Iran.

Foreign affairs isn't just about tactics and strategies for fighting wars (actually those are generally done by generals). It's also about getting along with our neighbors. It's about communication skills. How effective can someone be who sees even their own country as them against us? Can McCain help us deal with other world governments? He has a reputation for getting furious at anyone who doesn't agree with him. How's that going to work with diplomacy? How will other leaders see him? Will they even want to work with him?

We already know how the rest of the world sees Obama. They like the idea of the United States choosing him. Won't that make his ability to work with them easier? And I don't mean terrorists. Terrorists aren't running world governments. Ahmadinejad may sound like one, but he was voted into office and his first term as president expires in 2009 when he will have to run again. Actually the religious leaders determine most of Iran's major policies and currently that would be Khamenei.

The accusation that Obama would sit down with terrorists is more about a political gotcha at home than any possibility of it happening. What Obama said is he would engage in talks with leaders of unfriendly countries. This doesn't mean give away our country to them.

Recently, we haven't had a president capable of doing more than photo-ops after the negotiating was done. With Obama, that could be different. Isn't the ability to focus, as he has shown he can do throughout his lifetime, going to be a help in any negotiating? What about McCain's inability to focus?

Likely we could excuse his not remembering about Czechoslovakia no longer having that name or even mixing up the Sunnis and Shiites. That does tell you, however, that he, like Bush, feels no need to understand the history of any other people-- probably barely knows his own if it isn't the date of a war; but what is this all about? McCain meant his gaffe about not meeting with the Spanish leader. It's a little hard to understand why he would offend an ally of the United States, a country that has every right to expect we would treat them with respect. But McCain's staff says he meant what he said that he would not meet with Spain's leader. '

It boggles the mind. He won't meet with the Spanish leader because why again?

McCain's whole emphasis is not on his ability to work with other countries. He has trashed Europe's system of government, acted as though Arabs are inferior beings and after that, he expects to sit down and talk to any of them? No wonder he said he would not. The average age of European leaders is 55 which might also make communication more difficult for a cold war thinker (and if you don't think McCain has a Cold War mentality, you haven't been paying attention to how he operates) who is not only much older but more set in his ways-- and wants it his way or no way.

None of that matters to McCain because he wants to be a war president. He seems to see solutions in terms of wars. He might have done it with Russia too if he had been president when Georgia was attacked. We are all Georgians? What did that mean? McCain believes in wars but not in paying for them. This is where we came in, isn't it?

Some think logic is why he wouldn't authorize an attack on Iran. We are already militarily stretched too thin. We can't afford another war when we aren't paying for the ones we have. There is no proof that McCain operates from facts or logic. His slapdash way of picking Palin proves that he jumps without thinking.

Where it comes to war, for all we know, with all his talk of we must have victory, he is still fighting the Vietnam War. If the American people don't get this now, they will if he gets in a position of power. His running mate won't see a problem with it either. She operates off her concept of religious dogma.

For those who say he wouldn't start another war. All he has to do is attack and the war will be on if it's Iran. It sounds crazy. It makes no sense. Neither did what he said about Spain.

Egrets, geese and ducks in the photo all have to get along in the same pond. Our world pond is a lot smaller than it once was. McCain says he's the experienced one. What have his experiences taught him and how will they impact his choices if he gets to be president? Can we afford McCain's kind of thinking, his loose cannon temperament; or do we need what Obama offers-- even temperament, good judgment, skilled organizational abilities, respected abroad, and someone able to focus to get along both in our own pond as well as the world's?

After the divisiveness that McCain and Palin have been sowing at home, their ability to work effectively even here will be questionable-- let alone overseas.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What it costs to look like middle America

By now anybody reading this blog already knows about Sarah Palin's wardrobe costs. The Republicans who still support that ticket are going-- hey no big deal. Of course, it was when it was John Edward's $400 haircut which he paid for himself (maybe); but where it comes to Sarah Palin looking good, spare no expense-- $150,000 is a reasonable charge for looking like Joe the plumber's wife, right!

Do you realize that since she isn't going to keep the clothes-- at least that's what they said once this came out-- what we have is a woman made up and dressed to look a certain way but who is wearing a mask. In short, a fraud. To look like middle America, she had to go to high end department stores and get herself fixed up to the tune of $150,000? You are kidding me. I wish.

Some tax experts are saying she will have to pay taxes on the clothing anyway as even if she donates it, the clothing was purchased for her use. Even if it was a rental, there is a value, but it's not really that big a deal to me whatever the case but more that the far right would show so much hypocrisy with their we-are-all-for-the-working-class while they are anything but.

Palin is given words to say that she doesn't understand, can't expound on (unless they are part of her religious dogma and even then I would hazard a guess she doesn't really understand. She just follows the dogma), and that's what Republicans might just elect as our next president if something happens to John McCain.

What makes me find this humorous (I have to laugh now because if this woman should end up our next Vice President, I won't be laughing at all), is the hypocrisy involved and how it works. Why does it work? Is it that easy to fool people?

There has been considerable defense of Sarah Palin not being ill-equipped to be president. Of course, she has the intelligence to be president. Except she doesn't have a clue what Vice Presidents even do. It says president of the Senate. How was I supposed to know that didn't mean in charge of it? If they had paid that $150,000 for tutoring, that would have made sense.

David Brooks went into Sarah Palin's lack of experience with some thoughtful commentary: David Brooks. Over and over we hear Republicans who want to see a Republican as president saying not this one, not this time and a lot of it is this woman. A woman that apparently the women in say Appalachia have embraced as one of their own. This world just gets weirder and weirder. I feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole. Could it get more bizarre?

Why did McCain pick her? Why did he go for letting her be dressed up like an expensive Barbie doll? What makes those Republicans who think they want an average person running things, like the idea of this woman wearing designer dresses that cost more than they make in a year paid for by their donations to the Republican party?

Remember when McCain ran the ad comparing Obama's charisma to that of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton? Who knew back then that whatever McCain says is the opposite of what he means. In reality, he did want a Britney or Paris on the ticket with him and he got one. You didn't think it was cheap to dress one of those did you?

The argument has been used by Republicans that Obama has had no experience (in DC) and therefore was not qualified to run the country. That was until the Republicans decided experience was actually unneeded if it's one of their own with charisma.

Charisma is bad unless it's in your own party?

The photo was taken yesterday while the pigs sheep were rooting through the grass for acorns-- nature's freebies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Theoretically fall should be my favorite season

Warning, whine coming:

If your birthday is in the fall, it is supposed to be your favorite season. If your daughter's birthday is in the fall, it should be multiplied; and if you add one grandson's birthday, well how can it not be your favorite season?

How about because it means winter is coming and the days are growing shorter? How about if it means wearing more sweaters and heavier clothing? What about there is no logical reason? I mean I love fall colors, even prefer wearing them or winter to spring and summer colors, but where it comes to fall itself, I do the best I can to feel positive and get through it. This year it hasn't been making it easy.

It began with a fall (not the seasonal kind) while out helping Farm Boss move some wallboard. The sheets were long ones and much heavier than I am used to lifting. We had done maybe ten or so. I was lifting my half and backing up to slide it onto the slowly growing pile. I felt the back of my boot connect with something very solid and immovable-- turned out it was a pile of lumber.

Why was that there? I thought going down. Not good that this is a concrete floor, came next. Once I was flat out, I thought-- no broken bones. I can sit up. Why was that pile of lumber there? Glare at Farm Boss but the real problem was me. I hadn't scoped out what was around me. Nothing broken was the good news. Pulled back muscles were the bad news. Two weeks later into... fall.. and my back still hurt.

Stretch it out. Do more of the same thing (in short unload the rest of the panels), exercise, says Farm Boss. It isn't a big deal.

Wait, I say, was it a big deal when you hurt your shoulder two or three years ago?

That was different.... It always is.

Fall was off to a typical start. Next came something I haven't had for years-- salmonella. I think it came from some bad crab cakes and led to gastro something or other. Whatever it was, it was not good. Worse, whenever I upset my intestinal system that way, it takes mine awhile to get itself back in balance.

At that point, my back hurt and my abdomen. Is this old age? Shouldn't it all be better by now? Are you feeling sorry for me yet?

Add to it this fall political scene where every time I turned on the news I heard some hateful person spewing out fear or anger at my candidate and me for supporting him.

It was clear that there was only one thing to do-- comfort food. Cooking is one of my simple pleasures. Not gourmet style but just simple cooking. Pour a glass of wine, put on some music and put together something tasty.

Blackberries were over for the season, but the apples were ripening nicely on the tree. There are a lot of yummy healthy desserts you can make with apples. First I made an apple pie... actually two, just to see how it would go. Then an apple cobbler. Good but not the equal of the pies. I plan these cooking forays carefully so that Farm boss can take all but one piece each into work for those who work there. Apple pie isn't all that easy to transport and I began to remember another apple dessert very fondly.

When I was growing up, my mom made apple turnovers. They were so good. I more or less gave them up at the age where I needed to be slim. Do I care about being slim anymore? Not that much especially when mental health is at stake.

I never really had learned to make them. How hard could it be? My mom's always looked so beautiful and held together well. There were no recipes in my favorite cookbooks; so it was innovation time. It's one of those things where you know that if you put the ingredients together, they will be delicious even if they don't look great-- but looking great was one of my goals.

The whole process of making turnovers is pleasurable starting with going out to the trees to find some perfect apples. These are not sprayed trees; but that's healthier in my opinion. Careful coring and watching for the worm holes means no problem with worms-- even though my dad used to always say that a worm inside of fruit is the same as the fruit. Yeah right.

Bragging just a little, I am pretty good at pie dough. I know to make it flaky requires a light touch. Because I was making quite a few doughs, I decided to find out if more water would make it easier to hold them together. Yes, it did. It did because it made it tougher. So learned something and definitely not doing it again. Back to light touch.

To add to the ways to make fall better this year, there has been going out to the nature refuge and watching the birds. On Sunday, there were more geese than I had yet seen. The flocks coming in would descend rapidly and then look for a parking place rather like I feel when in Portland.

I have been enjoying working with my camera with both sky and land photographs. The birds, the fire in the fireplace, me, other people, you name it and I have been taking pictures of it.

One of my main pleasures through fall and winter are frequent fires in the fireplace. Right now it's especially good as the heat feels great on my back; so does watching the flames to my spirit.

As my final mental health tip for making the most of fall, I am watching lightweight movies on DVD, like the latest Indiana Jones. Not the greatest of them but it was an evening of not thinking (other than Harrison Ford sure looks a lot older. He's my age. What does that make me?). Other recent choices have been seeing the last two Shreks again, comedies, other kid movies, yep, they are the ticket for a few laughs and not thinking.

Despite all of that, my blood pressure was higher than it should be, but that apparently was not so much due to the nasty election but instead to the nasty fall when I began taking Ibuprofen to help my back. I had learned last spring that Ibuprofen raises some women's bp. When I stopped it, even though the election and bad news is not over, the numbers went back to more or less normal.

It has been a harder than normal fall with this election and how much meanness it has brought out. I still have hopes that it will end on a positive note. Naturally that means when Obama is elected president. I also hope his grandmother is going to be okay; but if not, that he gets the time with her that he needs.

More election stuff coming in future blogs. Boy will I be looking forward to the time when there is no more of it to write about! There are so many things to think about that are much more fun and better for the blood pressure. I will not be giving up my favorite lightweight or heartwarming movies though (I think The Notebook is on for tonight). I need those until after the Solstice when the days begin to grow longer.

Update even before I published this: I forgot another help for my mood during this election season-- The Daily Show. Laughing. Yes, that's good medicine. Catch this series of clips if you don't regularly get to see Jon Stewart. There are three and you just click on one after the other as he explains what being a real American means, what it's like in Wasilla, and provides a test to help you know if you are a real American. Clue: if you were watching Daily Show, you are not-- What the Pfot!. Yes, it's funny but probably not to Michelle Bachman. If you don't know who she is, definitely watch all three of these videos.

Geese, heron and egret photos taken at William L. Finley Wildlife Refuge.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blog Problems

Sylvia, who has been writing The View from Over the Hill, lost access to her blog. The old blog is still there for visitors to see but she cannot post anything new. After two days of trying to get it to work, find out what happened, she realized her only alternative is to create a new blog. Her first post will be about the problem.

So from The View from Over the Hill, you can now find Sylvia at Sylvia from Over the Hill. Bookmark the new one.

To a blog writer, someone who puts so much into what she is creating, this is a rough emotional jolt. I have had some problems with mine before and well understand how she feels; so please do visit her at the new blog and say hi.

Hitting Racism Head-on

People are very insulted if you imply that they are voting based on racism (believe me, I know this from personal experience). To even suggest it is to end a lot of conversations. I try to be careful but I hear the code words, the things they suggest that they would deny are racist. These are the things they find as reasons to vote instead of the reason they cannot name.

I thought this article by Kristof did a good job on what is at stake here and why racism can be a factor even without someone being a conscious bigot-- Racism without Racists.

A union man, AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka, also addresses the racism that so many are finding as a reason, an unspoken reason, for not supporting Barack Obama. They don't know why, or can't admit to themselves that they feel fear at the very thought of him as president. It's not about his issues, which might even be ones with which they agree, but something else, something they won't or can't admit.

Incidentally, I would not suggest that everyone who votes for McCain is doing so for racist reasons. I am well aware that there are issues that someone could not like about Obama's positions and vote against him for those reasons. The ideal is that we don't see either of them racially but instead look at their character and temperament for leadership.

A lot of McCain advisers, including Palin, want to make Reverend Wright an issue in these waning days of the campaign. McCain has said no before, that religion should stay out of it, but it's in it so many ways already that I suspect Wright already is and might become increasingly a big issue for some (while ignoring Palin's own fringe religious positions).

Wright is an easy target to use against Obama because he was closer to him than to Ayers or Rezko, more ground they can actually use. Wright condemned this country as having done wrong. We all know we are an exceptional people and can't really have done anything wrong. For Palin to hit on this is hypocritical given her connection to the Alaskan Secessionist Party, whose founder also said bad things about what the United States has done. Hypocrisy is not bigotry though.

This election is not just about voting against someone-- although McCain has given plenty of reasons to do that. It is about knowing what we are voting for. It's about voting for ideas that can change this country into what it had promised to be and recently has lost track. If we keep going as we have been, we know where we are heading-- a debtor nation who has lost its potential, who brags to its own how wonderful it is, but can't fool the world. Worse it will have left its middle class behind, turned its workers into a serf class, in its rush to assure billions for a few.

Anyway back to racism, watch this YouTube. This guy gets it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama knew it was coming all along

Moderator, Bob Schieffer, asked Wednesday night about the tenor of the campaigns. How do you feel about the fairness of your own campaign? McCain ignored the question where it came to his responsibility and used it as a way to again reproach Obama.

This summer, Obama had predicted what the other side would say; and when he did, they put him down for it. They said he was interjecting the race card. He wasn't doing that. He was saying what was going to happen.

Sunday when Colin Powell endorsed Obama, immediately the right wing jumped on him. It's all about race. Clearly they had no respect for Powell's patriotism, his wisdom, his experience. It was all about race to them. They would have said he was a wise man if he had been submissive and gone along. He did not. He said what he thought and laid out why. He also knew what was coming and said if his endorsement had been about race, he'd have done it a long time ago.

The ones who jumped on Powell ignored that other Republicans, including Christopher Buckley, have also endorsed Obama, many newspapers have endorsed him, who had supported Republicans always; but no, where it came to Powell, Rush Limbaugh immediately yelped it had to be race. It does but it's his racism, not Powell's.

The accusations we are hearing are wild and crazy, sneakily sent out through anonymous emails or robotic phone calls. They work on those who are already afraid of the 'other'.

I read on one of the right wing newspapers that there are now two lawsuits trying to prove that Obama was not born in the United States. If you have been hearing that, and you are one of those who fears the 'other', here is what Factcheck said about it: He was born in the USA. The accusations we are hearing have worked before and McCain is hoping they will again.

Funny how the McCain crew apparently has forgotten what Obama predicted, hope the voters have, or maybe it was all they have to use. It didn't take a psychic, given the last eight years, but it does prove McCain is lying when he says he's not Bush. He is so very Bush.

McCain told Obama that if he wanted to run against bush, he should have run 4 years ago. It was a silly thing to say but the right thought how clever. Maybe if they don't think he's like Bush, they should ask him why he didn't run himself four years ago. Why did he endorse and campaign for Bush in 2004?

You know the answer. He expected a payoff this year, and he's gotten it with Karl Rove sending his minions to help McCain. You can see their fingerprints all over McCain's campaign. The only one who has run a different kind of campaign has been Obama.

What I think is interesting is do people think they can basically sell their souls to win and then have it be anything but a soulless administration? Bush did and we know how that worked out.

If we don't want more of the Rovian tactics, this is the year to make it stop working.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

If it's not about issues, what is it about?

Christopher Hitchens, as he endorsed Barack Obama for president, wrote an article-- Christopher Hitchens in Slate where he said what I have been thinking. This election, it's not so much about the issues. It's more character and temperament.

When I knew I would be writing pretty much every day for the month ahead of our election, I planned to briefly cover the character of both (and their running mates) and then hit on their differences in the issues.

My intentions changed as the campaigns more clearly took form. I watched the news, read newspaper and magazine articles and it soon became clear that this time the issues, much as they matter to me, are taking a backseat. If someone says they will lower taxes but you can't trust anything else they say, why would you believe them on that?

I believe that this presidential election is about character. Can we trust what these people say they will do? Then, even if they want to do something, do they have the temperament to make it happen? A president, unless he acquires the powers of a dictator, can't run things by himself. Even if they have good intentions, what are their capabilities for bringing change to a government that has become caught up in greed and power struggles?

The man who I have faith in for his character and temperament is Barack Obama. I think he can get it done, that he will stand up and fight for what he believes is right. I won't and don't agree with him on all issues but do on most of them.

It is not like I have no issues that matter to me. Becoming energy self-sufficient, developing new sources of energy, creating and encouraging jobs that give families decent livings, working out a health care plan for us all that keeps costs down, teaching people that they can't keep borrowing to fund their lifestyles, a viable education system that benefits all levels of society, balancing the federal budget, improving our infrastructure, not fighting wars overseas without a security reason that we can clearly see, cutting waste in government.

There are other issues that Obama does not see as I do, but matter to me, and I'd like to see happen. For instance, I'd like to see gays have the right to marry. This is a matter of fairness. I don't say all churches should have to recognize their marriages, that's religion, but marriage itself is a government recognized contract between two people who come together sexually to form a family unit. Why should gays be denied that? Call them all contract licenses and do what is right for the future generations.

I would like to see abortion limited to the first four months of a pregnancy when it is purely the mother's preference, another month or so when it is about birth defects and after that, only danger to the life of the mother would allow an abortion. The idea of partial birth abortion is no different than infanticide to me; but I want women to have that first part of their pregnancy to have the choice, and it is one of my bedrock issues.

(Incidentally, they claim that Obama liked the idea of infanticide and voted against a bill in Illinois that would have banned it. As is usually the case with what 'they' claim, what Obama said is he voted against a bill that would have limited abortions unfairly. There were already laws on the book to protect a baby born alive.)

I also would like military, assault rifles banned. I believe in the right to go armed, in increased concealed weapon permits, in responsible gun ownership, and don't want anybody taking my guns.

I would like to see our national parks strengthened and in some cases enlarged. I think the environment should be a priority. Earth is our mother and through caring for the earth, we insure our own survival. This isn't about protecting every possible variant of a squirrel, but commonsense protection of animals and habitat. It's not just a physical cause but emotional and spiritual.

On global warming, I think we need more research on what we might have to do to protect our cities along the coasts and what about the possibility of massive storms inland? Are we prepared for what might be coming? It makes sense to me to limit carbon emissions, do what we can do, but this may be something we can't stop. Be prepared.

I would like to see our country buckle down and face the reality that the government can't keep borrowing even to fund good programs. We have to be frugal as a people and as a government, start paying down our debt, have good trade policies that are fair but recognize this is a world market. I don't want freebies. I want chances.

There are issues that matter to me and some of them are on Obama's list; some not, but it's his character that makes me believe he will do something about changing the direction of this country. I think he can stand up against the Nancy Pelosis and the left wing of the Congress when they want things without paying. He has said we have to be more responsible economically. I believe he means it.

It wouldn't matter much to me what John McCain said about any issues. If you think it does to you, please read this article from Rolling Stone. Anybody who plans to vote for that man needs to know who he is: Make-Believe Maverick.

Frankly, I think that McCain is a Jekyll and Hyde. If you saw him at the Al Smith Dinner, he was funny and charming-- so by the way was Obama. The next day McCain was out there with robo calls implying Obama is a terrorist wantabe. McCain seems to change into different people, and that is not the kind of person to put in the White House.

This election is about character. When all that McCain can dig up about Obama is an old relationship with Ayers, a pastor who was over the top, a businessman who wanted to befriend Obama for power, and none of these people impacted Obama's policy positions today, nowhere was he charged with ethical violations; then I think it's good he worked with and knew them. Having a leader in the White House who is naive won't serve us well in this day and age.

Obama has come through a lot, and I have more trust in his judgment for the fact that he has. I won't like everything he does. That's life. I hope that we, who support him will support him if he is elected to do what is right and understand this is no time for revenge. It's a time for moving ahead, for facing changes that the world forces upon us, and a time for justice.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Socialism

Despite the accusations that have been hurled and will be hurled in these last days of the election, Obama is not promoting socialism.He wouldn't dare as it's been a bad word to many people-- even if most probably don't even know what it is. The fear of it causes Republicans to vote in a knee-jerk reaction to prevent it.

Socialism is from American Heritage Dictionary: "An economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity. There are many varieties of socialism. Some socialists tolerate capitalism, as long as the government maintains the dominant influence over the economy; others insist on an abolition of private enterprise. All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists."

On that basis, the United States has had some of it already in a lot of different areas that Republicans generally promote, and it didn't begin with the recent vote to more or less take over the banks (only temporarily according to GW Bush).

What is our farming program? We pay people to not grow crops based on government subsidies. The government pays for certain crop practices but not others. Ranchers receive almost no subsidies while those who grow crops can receive many kinds accompanied by the myriad of rules that follow.

On Bill Maher last night Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont was on the panel. Sanders proudly calls himself a democratic socialist but runs as an Independent. He gets elected in Vermont because the independent folks there don't fear the word. Today all you have to do is say certain words and people get in a tizzy.

Here is what Sanders wrote about the recent bailout: [Billions for payouts! Who pays?]. I know, you who fear socialism right next to lack of godliness will be terrified by the very idea that who can pay should pay. That would be unfair and worse, leads to socialism.

For some, the fear of socialism is that it is a stage on the way to communism. If the government can control monopolies, if it can tell you what to grow and when, if it can balance out your banks, if it can buy up home mortgages to let people stay in their homes, how long before they say they own it all and you have communism? (but don't forget McCain and Bush just favored the socialist bailout of the banks)

Ronald Reagan didn't like Social Security, most extreme righties don't even today. Reagan saw Medicare as-- well here's what he said in 1961: “Write those letters now. Call your friends, and tell them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day…we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”

I am not sure how he figured the average person would afford to live out those sunset years, but it's clear that to him, true freedom means the ability to die of an illness because you don't have the money for a doctor.

(Reagan saw fear of socialism in anything the government did except maybe Iran-Contra which resulted in many Reagan administration members being indicted and may have been a factor in our increased drug trafficking in this country because the Contras dealt drugs to pay for their weapons. The same network to take them arms evidently also transported drugs-- or so some claim. It's not legally been proven, but we did have a flood of drugs from that time forward.)

If I understand this right, to Reagan having the government involved in supporting wars secretly is one of its purpose but programs for its own poor is not? It appears that when the government does something that benefits the ordinary people and the poor, that's socialism but if it benefits the rich, it's free enterprise. Free enterprise for banks on their way up and socialism as soon as they have milked out everything they can get.

Many countries in Europe have democratic socialism and they do have their problems with paying for it. There has to be a balance in what we ask one person to do in helping another. Any programs for large numbers of people are going to have problems. We don't live a frontier lifestyle anymore. We do have people, who through no fault of their own, need help. Is it socialism when the government has programs to help them?

To the far Right, Medicare and Social Security limit our freedom, Welfare and Medicaid are likewise bad. For some even public education is something to be destroyed. Pay for your own, you freeloading parents! True freedom means what exactly? The Bobbie McGee song-- nothing left to lose?

Or is government being involved in our lives okay when it blocks our right to decide to die on our own terms, which mood altering substances we can ingest, whether we carry to term a pregnancy, who we can marry, whether we pay to have sex or seduce someone into it, and which banks make out like bandits. Programs that help the elderly and poor are not good. They are socialism. I think I get it!

(This is the last bounty from our garden before we let the sheep in to eat it all down. Hard freezes are on their way.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

My heart goes where the wild goose goes

October 12th, I was out at William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge with the nip of fall just barely showing on the trees. As Farm Boss and I walked along the trail, we could hear the geese calling. I wanted to ask them, Where are you going? Can I come? I will follow.

The closer we got, the louder they were. Hundreds of geese, maybe thousands, some making a deep whooping sound and the others more like when you hear when a flock goes overhead.

I must go where the wild goose goes.
My heart knows what the wild goose knows,
Wild goose, brother goose, which is best?
A wanderin' fool or a heart at rest?

Tonight I heard the wild goose cry,
Wingin' north in the lonely sky.
Tried to sleep, it weren't no use,
'Cause I am a brother to the old wild goose,

It's not like I need to go with them but there is a thrill in hearing and seeing them that makes me think about it. I have often heard flocks overhead with that thrilling sound of a thousand birds calling to each other. Going north, heading south or just circling the valley, the sound of wild geese always calls to me.

A young man along the bank said he had identified Lesser Canada Geese, Cackling Geese and Great Basin, the latter two are also Canada Geese.

Woman was kind and true to me.
She thinks she loves me, the more fool she.
She's got a love that ain't no use,

To love a brother o
f the old wild goose.

The cabin is warm and the snow is deep,
I got a woman who lies asleep.
She'll wake at tom
orrow's dawn,
She'll find, poor critter, that her man is gone.

Poor critter? Well it's a wonderful song to sing and hearing it makes me feel like taking off on an adventure. Shall I go south with the geese? Not this year but maybe some year.

The geese were excited, stirred up. I would watch them lift off from the pond. A few would head upward; then when nobody followed, they'd drop back onto the water. Some would go east and some west. Were these geese resting up for further migration or are they the ones that spend the winter here?

More lifted off as though, yes, now, let's go now. Come on... When not enough followed, they would again settle back on the water. After a few of false starts and building energy, they all lifted off. Wow!

The sound of their wings as they took off, I swear it was like a nature climax for the ecstasy you could feel as their flocks rose, building in power and purpose as they set their patterns for flight. The whoosh of a thousand wings or more, it was power and excitement. Describing it goes beyond words.

Does one bird decide, yes now? Do some of them get enthused by those young ones soaring and landing? How is the decision made that now-- we will go now?

Finley Refuge is only open for hiking until November 1. Then they close most of the trails until April 1 so the birds have it all, leaving a few small blinds where human visitors can watch but not be intrusive. It's a wonderful gift to be someplace like that and hear those sounds because the hearing is as much the power as the vision.

Lyrics: Cry of the Wild Goose, written by Terry Gilkyson, and sung most famously by Frankie Laine. Photos from Finley October 12, 2008

If you haven't seen Winged Migration, definitely rent it. I had bought the soundtrack too just because the music, the sounds were so stirring. It gives a small taste of what it's like to be out at a nature preserve with those big flocks: Nick Cave-- To be by your side

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Last debate this year

Despite thinking I would not, I did watch the last presidential debate. I knew it wouldn't change my mind. I suspect it didn't change anyone's mind. If you skipped it, there wasn't much you missed.

John McCain is still pouting that he didn't get ten town halls with Barack Obama. If he had, he said the campaign would have remained more civil. That doesn't make any sense to me, and I doubt it did to Obama but he didn't use it to attack McCain for being immature.

Goaded into it ahead of the debate, McCain brought up Ayers and ACORN which is what Obama clearly wanted as it gave him a chance to give the answers he has given so many times other places but maybe there would be some watching who wouldn't have watched him elsewhere. He has said he worked with Ayers. His connection to him was through education, a reputable committee who has helped Chicago's education system and he named who else was on that committee. He repeated that what Ayers did was despicable. He does not consort with terrorists as has been implied by Palin. He didn't bring up her close connection (sleeps with it) to the secessionist Alaskan group.

Obama did not attack McCain about his own praise of ACORN at one of their meetings only two years ago where McCain basically said all Americans should care as much as those people did about helping others. Now ACORN is being made the scapegoat if Obama wins because of them submitting paid registrations that clearly won't qualify for voting rights but did earn whoever collected them money.

Obama's answers had already been heard probably at least by anyone who does not carry around a Curious George stuffed monkey with Obama's name on it. I would have to assume McCain has not bothered to watch the videos of the kind of people who are attending those rallies. If he was, I don't think he'd have said he was so proud of his fans. Some of them have behaved in ways that won't help this country or themselves even if they think they are clever and are patting each other on the back for how clever.

There were times Obama could have attacked but he let it go as not worth it. One that comes to my mind was when they were asked if their Vice Presidential picks were good choices. McCain defended his pick ignoring everything that is negative, repeating all the false statements about her; and then saying yes, Joe Biden would be okay as president but he's been wrong about a lot and cited Gulf War I.

Well maybe Biden was and maybe he was not. Were there ways to resolve that without going to war? Might an administration that was better at diplomacy ahead of time, let Hussein know what would happen if he entered a neighboring country? I don't know the details of Biden's objection to authorization for that war; so can't say more about it but it was a perfect time for Obama to bring up issues about Palin's lack of knowledge, but he didn't do it.

It is possible that Obama really will have the ability to bring together the two parties when it is time to govern. If he doesn't feel a need to go for the gotchas, I don't think that's about lack of strength but more deciding where it matters enough to do it. Someone who can think ahead of time goes beyond the moment to where something leads. Clearly those arguments didn't lead to where he needed to go.

Watching the debate, I kept wondering why McCain kept referring to autism instead of Down's Syndrome when he was saying how much Palin knows about having a disabled baby. Claiming she is an expert based on having a four month old baby doesn't make sense. She hasn't begun to learn what that means from her own experiences. She might have done work with this cause previously, maybe the family has a history of such children (I don't know) but the fact she has a four month old baby certainly does not make her an expert even on Downs and from where did the autism come?

McCain showed his slim connection to reality when he discussed the campaigns and how they have been run and blamed Obama for what John Lewis said, thought he should have apologized for Lewis going too far. This was quite a disconnect to reality.You have a campaign that has people yelling out kill him and you think that Lewis saying what he did went too far? McCain never acknowledged that his fans were out of line and claimed he always stops them. He did twice but the rest of the time he and Palin appear to not hear what they don't want to hear. Palin has never rebuked any of them but nodded like yes, that's right.

There is no comparison to the difference in how these two campaigns have been run. There have been no threats on McCain's life at an Obama rally. Obama has never called him a liar. Obama has not stirred up emotions with suggestions that McCain is a traitor for picking a vice president who was connected to a group who wants to secede from this nation. When at Obama rallies, people even booed at McCain's name, something that is pretty mild in comparison to what we have heard coming from those McCain/Palin rallies, Obama has put out his hands and said we don't need that.

Obama doesn't go for the kill, but we are talking about our own country and people here who think they are being loyal to it. Some will never come around, but a need to get gotchas probably won't serve the next president well even if it might satisfy viewers of the debate who want some payback-- on both sides.

Hopefully all the viewers, who are still open to making a choice, saw the ideas and temperament from Obama that will persuade them of what I believe-- Obama is the right choice for our next president.