Friday, May 23, 2008

Your Friday afternoon smile

I'm sure we'll all be sorta busy this weekend, so here's something to get you off on the right foot. Don't pretend that fun things aren't still fun ....

This great cartoon is from xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. What more could you ask for?

Coke? Pepsi? McCain? Bush?

Much like the Coke-Pepsi Challenge, it's really better just to swear off the Republicans, along with the soda. They're all bad for your health. But that doesn't mean you should miss out on taking the challenge here.

If you're in the Towson, Maryland, area next week, you may be interested in this message I received today from
Thousands of undecided voters who live near you don't yet realize just how much John McCain is like President Bush.

So, on Wednesday, May 28th, MoveOn members in Towson are asking people on the street to take The Bush-McCain Challenge. It works like the old Pepsi-Coke Challenge—we'll set up a sidewalk table and ask passersby to guess whether a quote or position is Bush's or McCain's. It's surprisingly hard to tell the difference!

Polling shows voters will reject John McCain if they realize how similar he is to George Bush. The Bush-Challenge is a persuasive way to make this point.

Next Wednesday, at more than 300 events around the country, we'll let people see the facts for themselves: McCain is just as bad as Bush, if not worse. A good turnout at this event may also attract local media attention, which will help even more people find out about The Bush-McCain Challenge.

Find out where the challenge is being held in your neighborhood.

Equal marriage = equal rights

It is a simple truth that when you belong to a group in society that has full rights, protections, and opportunities, it is difficult -- if not impossible -- to fully understand what life is like without those rights, protections, and opportunities. I mean, I know that as a white, college-educated, U.S. citizen, I have a lot of things going for me. I don't like to think that I take any of them for granted, but in reality, I probably do, if only because I can't really imagine what it's like not to have them.

Such is the case with equal rights for the LGBT population in this country. I have wonderful dear friends who have known me and Unnamed Partner throughout our entire 10-year relationship, and who clearly think of us as "married" in every sense of the word. But when Unnamed Partner is unemployed and without health insurance, I am helpless to provide it, as my employer doesn't offer domestic partnership benefits. This sometimes comes as a shock to my well-meaning friends. As does the fact that I work for a state University system, and if we were married, Unnamed Partner would be able to take advantage of tuition remission and work toward a degree. Everyone I work with has taken advantage of this benefit. Too bad I can't.

Imagine, too, if we had children. Because guess what: we're just like everyone else. Sometimes relationships work out, sometimes they don't. That just got a little more complicated, too, as a court here in Maryland ruled this week to take away all visitation rights from a lesbian ex-partner who had helped raised the couple's daughter. She was listed on the child's school records -- the other partner had crossed off the word "Father" and put her name and contact information. She had years' worth of Mother's Day cards from the daughter. Yet according to the court, this woman had no more rights than a nanny or au pair. She is now unable to see her daughter at all. From the Washington Blade:
“This is a disastrous opinion that will very negatively impact non-biological, non-legal parents, especially many who are in same-sex couples,” said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland.

In its opinion, the high court acknowledges the lesbian, identified in court records as Margaret K., is a “de facto” parent because she helped raise the child during the time she was partnered with Janice M.

However, the judges say the Baltimore County Circuit Court “erred in granting visitation” to Margaret on the grounds that she was a “de facto” parent without first finding that Janice was an “unfit parent” or that other “exceptional circumstances” existed to justify the decision.
In other words, unless she can prove her ex-partner is an unfit parent, this woman cannot see the child she helped raise. What kind of a choice is that? Without equal marriage rights, we will always be forced to make these kinds of choices.

Marriage has nothing to do with religious beliefs and everything to do with civil rights.

Parsley, rage, xenophobia, and time

Yes, "time." As in air time, of which this story has received very little in the MSM. However, from the MotherJones article, McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam, we have this:
Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

Parsley, who refers to himself as a "Christocrat," is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, the grassroots organization he founded, the Center for Moral Clarity, called for prosecuting people who commit adultery. In January, he compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. In the past Parsley's church has been accused of engaging in pro-Republican partisan activities in violation of its tax-exempt status.
So, how does Parsley really feel about Islam? In his own words:
I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.
Some McCain loyalists argue that no candidate can be held responsible for what all of their supporters say. True enough, Clinton, Obama, and all the others have all had their share of supporter-foot-in-mouth disease. But Parsley is not just another supporter -- just as Reverend Wright was not just another supporter of Obama. Reverend Parsley has had a long relationship with McCain, and McCain has described him publicly as “one of the truly great leaders in America,” “a moral compass,” and a “spiritual guide.”

McCain was one of the first to demand that Barack Obama denounce the Rev. Wright. Now McCain has been forced to do the same with Rev. Parsley and Ref. Hagee. The difference? Are you getting tired of hearing about Parsley? No? Of course not, because it has not been covered day and night by every major news outlet, the way the Rev. Wright story was covered.

Personally, I don't think Obama holds any of the same views espoused by Rev. Wright. I think he sat in that church for 20 years as a future political candidate, gathering a reputation in a popular African American church. I doubt McCain holds the outrageous views of Hagee and Parsley, either. He is a politician first and foremost, and I think he's trolling for votes wherever he can find them. It's a shame that he's trolling amongst the bottom feeders, but even more shameful is the fact that the press is giving this story such little attention.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday poetry break

Hectic day today (vacation? what vacation?). If I don't get a chance to post anything else, at least I need to catch up on my poetry breaks. From today's edition of The Writer's Almanac:

"I shall keep singing!"

I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes—
Each-with a Robin's expectation—
I—with my Redbreast—
And my Rhymes—
Late—when I take my place in summer—
But—I shall bring a fuller tune—
Vespers—are sweeter than Matins-Signor—
Morning—only the seed of Noon—

— Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things younger than John McCain

As we wait for the results to come in from Oregon and Kentucky, you might like to stroll on over to a blog called Things Younger than John McCain. It does kind of put things into perspective. Now, of course, with age comes wisdom. Of that there is no doubt. However, with parents who are only 10 years older than Senator McCain, I also know that with age comes a few other things -- in terms of health, technology, and culture.

I mean, my parents are very smart people. They have college degrees -- my father has a Masters in Economics from the University of Chicago. No dummy there. (His thesis was reviewed by Kate Turabian, and all she questioned was the use of one semi colon. What?!)

But here's the thing: they write out emails by hand and have my brother go on line and send them. They constantly put the phone receiver down off the hook, so that it's busy for days (their physician even called me once to make sure everything was o.k.). They have a cell phone, which they keep plugged in in the kitchen. It rings sometimes, and they stare at it. They sit at the breakfast table and read the newspaper for hours, and then eat lunch at 4 pm. They take naps.

I love them more than life itself. But dear god, I would not want them in the White House.

They have seen so much in their lifetimes: they grew up during the Depression, my father fought in WWII, they served in the Foreign Service in exotic and rural places. I don't knock them for not knowing how to operate the DVD player we got them several years ago. They just can't keep up with all the new technology that is constantly coming at them. And there are just so many things younger than my parents (and younger than John McCain):
  • Penicillin
  • minimum wage
  • the Lincoln Tunnel
  • Scrabble
  • area codes
  • nylon
  • the Slinky
  • Alaska
  • the Polio vaccine
  • Helvetica (the font)
  • ballpoint pen
None of this really has to do with being a good president. I'm just sayin'

Monday, May 19, 2008

McCain Watch Bonus!

Please take a moment to watch this great new video from Brave New Films, "The Real McCain 2." And then, please forward, repost, whatever you can do to help inform the American public.

McCain Watch: The anti-lobbyist candidate's lobbying campaign staffers quitting in droves

One of the things John McCain most likes to say is that lobbyists are bad. Bad, bad, bad. So it must kind of suck for him to watch this keep happening:
McCain's national finance co-chair resigns

WASHINGTON (AP) — John McCain's national finance co-chairman has stepped down, the latest casualty of a presidential campaign eager to cauterize damage caused by its ties to lobbyists.

Former Texas Rep. Thomas G. Loeffler, one of McCain's key fundraisers, resigned in the wake of a new McCain policy on conflicts of interest that required campaign volunteers to disclose their lobbying connections

"Mr. Loeffler has resigned from his position with the campaign," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Sunday.

Loeffler, who runs the lobbying shop The Loeffler Group, is the highest profile departure from McCain's inner circle since a summer 2007 shake-up cost McCain his campaign manager and chief strategist.

Among Loeffler's clients is the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent company of plane manufacturer Airbus. Northrop Grumman Corp. and EADS won a lucrative contract to provide air refueling tankers for the Air Force. McCain helped scuttle an earlier contract in 2004 that would have gone to a competitor, Boeing Co.
This seems to be sort of a trend with the McCain campaign:

McCain advisers Doug Goodyear, who was to run the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., and Doug Davenport, a regional campaign director for the Mid-Atlantic states, also resigned this month. Both worked for DCI Group, a consulting firm hired to improve the image of Myanmar's military junta.

When the policy was announced last week, McCain fired energy policy adviser Eric Burgeson, who represents energy companies as a lobbyist.

The campaign also asked Craig Shirley to resign from McCain's Virginia leadership team because he was behind an independent group that has been criticizing Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama on the Internet. McCain's new policy also states that no one with a campaign title or position may participate in so-called 527 groups, which can raise unlimited amounts of money for television ads not controlled by campaigns.

I mean, the irony alert is on high. This is what McCain recently said on the campaign trail in New Orleans:
This practice is not only bad in itself, revealing a disregard of the common good. The abuses of lobbying and earmark spending are also symptomatic of even larger problems in Washington, like the broken windows of buildings in a badly governed city. When we attack these abuses with aggressive reform, we are signaling an entirely new attitude, a higher and better standard in how we conduct the people's business.
Dude, you're surrounded by broken windows ....

Clinton should fight for the Democratic nomination, as well as for anything else that's on the plate

Yes, I'm back from vacation and I'm all fired up again about the democratic primary. I pretty much avoided watching the news all week, just trying to stay current with the natural disasters in Myanmar and China, equal marriage legislation in California, and the weather forecast for Cape Cod. But yesterday I had a lot of time to read the newspapers , and I'm really starting to get annoyed (again) at the way Hillary Clinton is being treated by the Democratic Party.

Here's the thing: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are very close in this contest in both total votes and delegates. Yes, she's behind. But she's close. Very close. In fact, after winning several early large contests with his stadium style rhetoric, Obama hasn't continued his pace, but has instead basically maintained the same lead, not really gaining much more.

So why should she drop out? It's not unprecedented that a candidate should take this contest all the way to the convention. In fact, one of Obama's earliest supporters, Sen. Ted Kennedy, did just this in 1980, when he tried to get Jimmy Carter's delegates released at the convention in Madison Square Garden so that he (Kennedy) would get the nomination.

No, what's unprecedented is that this time it's a woman who is challenging the authority. So when Hillary Clinton stands up and says "I'm in this for everyone who's ever been down and kept fighting," it rings true for every woman who has ever worked hard only to be shut out. Oh, it's usually quite subtle, the shutting out. When I was a kid, we didn't have organized sports for girls, so for this tomboy it just became "sorry, you can't play." In the working world it's much more subtle, with women simply not being considered for certain opportunities, and then being offered less salary for the same positions.

And before you say, "yeah, and see what happened in 1980 -- we elected Ronald Reagan!" Please remember our state of affairs in 1980. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter had horrible approval ratings, inflation was through the roof, hostages had been taken in Iran, and along came the Hollywood Actor Playing the Part of President, Ronald Reagan.

Add to this the fact that Kennedy never really supported Carter once he became the presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton has vowed many times to support the democratic candidate for president, whomever it may be.

Hillary Clinton is an incredibly smart and dedicated woman. She has worked diligently to be where she is today. She deserves a fair shot at the presidential nomination. To suggest she simply "drop out" because she's behind is to diminish all that she has done, and to diminish how far we have come as women in American society. If you doubt that she has done more than Barack Obama and has the more substantive knowledge of politics and world affairs, please read the front page story from yesterday's New York Times, The Story of Obama, Written by Obama, which examines the story behind his two best-selling books. The books deserve a close look, because that's just about all we have to go by if we want to understand who Obama is. Unfortunately, in his effort to tell a good story Obama uses devices such as composite characters and changing the chronology of events to better suit the story.
“The book is so literary,” said Arnold Rampersad, a professor of English at Stanford University who teaches autobiography and is the author of a recent biography of Ralph Ellison. “It is so full of clever tricks — inventions for literary effect — that I was taken aback, even astonished. But make no mistake, these are simply the tricks that art trades in, and out of these tricks is supposed to come our realization of truth.”
It has worked out well for the Junior Senator from Illinois.
“Barack is worth millions now,” Mr. Osnos said. “It’s almost all based on these two books, two books not based on a job of prodigious research or risking one’s life as a reporter in Iraq. He has written about himself. Being able to take your own life story and turn it into this incredibly lucrative franchise, it’s a stunning fact.”
I'm sorry if you think she's being "divisive" and not working for "the good of the party." He's only ahead by a small margin, and he's not the better candidate. I've spent my entire life watching my mother put the needs and wants of others before her own. Just once I'd like to see her take the last brownie on the plate. But she won't. We won't. Because women are taught to compromise and to take care of others.

Take the brownie, Hillary. You deserve it.