The People’s Choice

Aretha Franklin singing like a boss.

OMG! News flash!

Conservatives are WORRIED! Distraught, I tell you.

Perhaps even SHOCKED, that they disagree with Obama’s cabinet picks and/or his policies. And somehow, once they wake up, that the 66,882,230 people who voted for Obama are not going to be happy.

According to the WashPost

“It is disturbing,” said Roger Clegg, a conservative…”The transition team as described to me was made up of nothing but people on the far left. Though Obama is more moderate, that makes you wonder what kind of advice the president is given, and what range of choices he’ll be given when it comes time to make appointments.”

Oh no! Nothing but people that disagree with the current failed policies of the Bush administration.

Note to Mr. Clegg: Your side LOST!

A few months into the Bush presidency–you know the election when Bush lost the popular vote* and then came in running the place like he had a frickin’ mandate– I saw my friend David at the local bar and grill.

David: You know, I never, ever got the hatred and bile that people had for Bill Clinton.
Me: There was alot of hate and bile.
David: Yeah, there was. But now I get it. I really can’t stand the “W.” I now know how the other side feels.

Reminder to the other side–this is what it feels like.

Except that this new Prez-elect actually thinks it’s important to listen and acknowledge differences. That this new Prez-elect understands that he is a member of our national government, that was founded in 1776–that it did just not pop out of his head. And that this Prez-elect is the leader of a movement that has been embraced by the majority of the American voters.

Like in a democracy.

‘Nuff said.

*BTW–50,456,002 people voted for G.W. Bush in 2000. That’s more than a half-million fewer than voted for Al Gore. See more.

Who Wasn’t On Stage With Obama and Should Have Been?

Family from the 50's in front of their TV.Steve Clemons is right to question the optics of President-elect Obama’s first presser. It’s not that the folks on the stage don’t have experience and know-how, but they are of the past. And the guy that I voted for said that we were no longer going to be shackled to the past. The same way of doing things.

Many folks on the stage are the guys who thought the tweaking of monetary policy and the cooling of inflation were the answer to long-term prosperity. The same guys who supported a President who during the dot-com bubble said that economic cycles don’t apply anymore. Remember irrational exuberance?

Well, the housing bubble replaced the dot-com bubble. But a quick view shows a commonality. Both bubbles were based on paper and pushing paper around to create the illusion of wealth. Especially for the people holding the paper.

We need to look at our economy and remember that we need to make things of *VALUE.* That’s why I am so excited about Prez-elect Obama’s green energy initiative. Creating new forms of energy is a thing of value. That’s what will make a strong economy. And some new thinking.

We Are The Change

Tonight marks the end of the baby-boom.

The baton is being passed to a new leader for whom flower power is not part of his memory. He will help lead us into the future. The one that we don’t know yet. But the one that we need to work on together.

Not Red States. Not Blue States. But the United States.

I am waiting for President-elect Obama’s speech. The speech that I never thought I would hear. But the one that I was hoping to hear. I have to be out of the house extra early tomorrow, but I am waiting up to see the start of our future.

What’s A Hero?

I was really mad at Hiro last week. I mean how could he kill his best friend without feeling and without regret? He did not hestitate. He took a sword and stabbed his friend–the one who loved him. To prove he is a “badass.” Just to save the world, and all.

I think it must be a huge burden to be a hero. To feel like you need to save the world. Or to know that the world will not survive without you. You are required to do really awful things, make extraordinary personal sacrifices. Not just once, but many times.

And as this election is winding down, I am thinking of the hero John McCain. People are mourning the disappearance of the “real” John McCain. The driver of the Straight Talk Express. The man willing to sacrifice his political career–even his presidential hopes–for the right thing. Like comprehensive immigration reform that almost killed his campaign. And everyone knows the incredible sacrifices that McCain made as a navy pilot in Viet Nam. People say that they would have voted for THAT McCain.

But I don’t think that is fair. John McCain had an uphill battle in an environment made for the Democratic nominee. And in order to be a hero, in order to serve his country and help steer the country in the right direction, he has made some tough decisions. Not without feeling. And likely not without regret. Just to save the world, and all.

McCain has the burden of the hero. I don’t think for one minute that it’s easy. Thanks Senator McCain.

A Rose By Any Name

Gravestone of Iraq war hero Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan in Arlington National Cemetery, with his grieving mother.General Colin Powell announced that he was going to vote for Barack Obama, and it’s all the twitter. Calling Obama “transformational” and his own Republican Party “narrower and narrower,” Powell lent the considerable heft of the former general, chair of the Joint Chiefs and Secretary of State to the candidate that some have said was too inexperienced and lacked judgement.

But this was not the most important thing he did on Meet the Press.

I think that the most important thing that he did was call out the members of his own party who find the practice of Islam a disqualification for the presidency.

I cringe every time someone denies that Barack Obama is Muslim. It goes like this.

“Obama is a Muslim”

“No, he’s not,” said like there is something wrong being Muslim.

Imagine saying there is something wrong with being Catholic, or Jewish. Or think about when you hear boys say, “You are such a girl” as if it’s an insult to be a girl–like their mother, like my mother or my sister. Making who people are synonymous with “you are bad” or “you are a dirty, filthy mother****in’ terrorist” is simply WRONG.

When General Powell told the story of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a twenty year old native of New Jersey who made the ultimate sacrifice of a soldier in Iraq, he reminded us of the best in Americans. And in doing so, called on us all to be the best Americans we can be.

So, we should all learn the name of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. He is a hero. An American hero. And we should all learn that we can be heroes, too.

Yes we can.

Interviews and Debates and Speeches, Oh My!

The ruby slippers as worn by Gov. Palin.Somebody needs to remind Alaska’s Governor Palin about the differences between an interview, a debate and a speech. Oh, well doggone it, I’ll do it.

Interview: This is a format in which a reporter asks questions and the interviewee answers them. The interviewee–in this case you, Gov. Palin–doesn’t get to choose the questions. That would be more like a town hall or Ask the WhiteHouse as hosted by the White House. Sometimes the questions might be a surprise and sometimes if you don’t answer the question or you try to “pivot,” the reporter tries to pin you down with a follow-up question. The reporter gets paid to get to new information. You shouldn’t be annoyed when they do their job and follow the structure of a standard interview rather than a Speech (see below).

Debate: Here is another one where the format is already known. In political debates, the first thing that happens is that there is alot of negotiations regarding whether the debators (the candidates) sit or stand, limits on time and engagement, and even topics. The campaigns also decide on debate moderators. All this happens weeks before your preparation begins. So, it’s important to know what the rules are in order to know what to expect, but since your team is part of making the rules, it’s easy enough to find out.

During the debate, what happens is the moderator asks some questions, and you respond to those questions. It’s perfectly okay to direct your response to the pre-scripted talking points that you wish to cover. Everyone does that. It is not so okay, however, to say “And I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people.” When you talk straight to the American people in an unfiltered way, that is called a Speech (see below) not a Debate.

Speech: This is when you get to say whatever you want, for as long as you want, to the audience that you want. You can take questions, or not. But remember, not every exchange when you speak to the public is a Speech. You have been doing mostly speeches, so dagnabbit, maybe you forgot what happens in other venues, see Interview and Debate above.

Last reminder Gov., you’re not in Wasilla anymore.

Hardest on the Ones We Love

Photo of spaghetti sauce cooking by Joey Rozier under a Creative Commons licence.In high school, my friend Jenny was mortifyingly embarrassed of her mom. Jenny would yell if her mom spoke to me. “Nobody cares what you say!” She would bad mouth her mother to me–her stupidities, her clothes, her hair.

I always thought this odd. Jenny’s mom was nice to me, and always let Jenny take the car. She wasn’t rude or dirty or inappropriate (we didn’t use the word inappropriate back in those days, but she wasn’t). But Jenny knew her mom as a stupid old woman. Who reflected poorly on her.

Progressives who think Obama “lost” Friday’s debate remind me of Jenny. Familiarity makes them overly-sensitive to any potential misstep–not aggressive enough, should have hit harder, McCain didn’t implode so if Obama didn’t hit it out of the park he did poorly.

Here’s the thing, Obama has run a very good campaign so far. And his campaign knows that he doesn’t have to convince his supporters. He needs to work on the undecideds. The people who have just tuned into the election process.

Newly engaged undecideds and independents see the candidates freshly. They are checking out and evaluating the men that they are seeing now. And trying them on for President. That’s who Obama is trying to win over.

Those of us who have been engaged from Iowa see different candidates. I hope Jenny made up with her mom.

Rocking The Podium Live from New York

And what do I think about this?

Frickin’ hilarious.

Addicted to Palin

Okay. I said it. It’s the first step. I admit that I have a problem.

I have been thinking about Sarah Palin, reading about Sarah Palin, watching video about Sarah Palin, following convention coverage about Sarah Palin, wrestling with my feelings about Sarah Palin, and trying to figure out what I think about this polarizing newly minted political rockstar.

I can’t get her out of my mind, because I am having a hard time making a decision about her and what to think about her.

There is no doubt in my mind that Sarah Palin is qualified to be Vice President.

The qualifications for the vice presidency are the same as those for the presidency. The vice president must be a native-born American of at least 35 years of age who has resided in the United States for at least 14 years. — Encarta

This means that I, too, am qualified to be Vice President–or President for that matter.

In my obsessive reading, some folks are saying that they have alot in common with Gov. Palin, and since they do NOT think that they are qualified for the job, therefore SHE isn’t qualified. Others are happy to have somebody who is “just like me,” who will understand and respond to their needs. Next I find myself thinking about why I believe that Brack Obama is qualified to be President.

This gets me thinking about serendipity and timing. Before Obama became a 2008 Presidential candidate, I was wishing that he would wait until the next round. But sometimes circumstances thrust you into a position and you have to grab for the ring. It might not be presented again. And I think that I need to apply that same standard to Palin.

But what about her family?, I was thinking. How could Palin be a mother to babies, young children and teens while being Vice President?

What wrong thinking.

I always thought that I tried hard not to judge other parents and their decisions–whether mom should work or stay home, what role does dad play, is quality time better than quantity time, prudes versus permissives, milk versus ice tea? In our family the mom went back to work when the babies were 9 and 8 weeks old–and still nursed both until they were two. The dad worked part time for the first few years and did main duty. The mom took a new job that entailed alot of domestic travel 4 months before the youngest was born–and she dragged the baby from coast to coast. His first hotel was in Boston at 10 weeks. Good mom? Bad mom? Sometimes. Okay, I think Palin is a fine parent. Her kids look happy (and gorgeous!) and I bet they will survive her parenting and become productive adults. As I pray my kids will survive my own parenting.

But what does parenting have to do with being a “heartbeat away from the Presidency” anyway? Nothing. But the heartbeat away from the Presidency thing is pretty important.

So, I think that Palin is qualified enough. And I think that, as Obama has forcefully and genuinely said, her family needs to be off limits. So that leads me to where I should have been from the beginning–what do I think about her as a potential president, because that’s the job she is going for?

I definitely think that she is a shrewd and formidable politician. She has worked hard and appears to spit nails and bring down the hammer on foes. Her rise to the governor’s mansion in Juneau is something to be respected and admired. Politics is a tough game, and a young upstart from a small town making it to the top of the heap in Alaska is nothing to shake a stick at. Go Sarah Barracuda!

So now I am returning to her convention speech–what tells me most about who she is and what kind of president she might be, because that’s all we got. And this is the source that makes me most uncomfortable about Sarah Palin, and a McCain-Palin presidency.

The speech–well delivered by a confident, accessible, smiling candidate–helped to draw a clear distinction between the choice we have in November. And it isn’t about Palin, specifically, but about what her ticket stands for.

Change for them means making a U-turn and going back to the 50’s. The speech was very backwards looking, to the “good ole days” of some idyllic and perhaps mythical small town America. Where people are homogeneous (but not homos), where nostalgia and the familiar trump intellectual curiosity, and where we need to run back to the cocoon rather than boldly face the challenges of health care, the environment, education and globalization.

Backwards to when diplomacy means that the U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A. (chant it with me like its 1980) plays nuclear games of chicken with our enemies, and globalization means that everyone oversees wants an American car and the imports from Japan are cheesy.

Where small towns are filled with honest, sincere dignified people who are somehow immune to a failing economy, the mortgage crisis, and the false prospect that cutting taxes for the wealthiest will make us all better off, even if that leaves state coffers empty without money for infrastructure projects and public safety (can you say levies?) and with gimmicks to improve education.

When the natural resources of this great planet were seen as infinite, and frontier settlers were the masters, taking whatever they wanted and moving on when the land was depleted or destroyed because it was their right. In contrast to the people already in this country that the settlers displaced. People who were stewards for the land, the water, the air, the animals and plants.

I watched Gov. Palin’s speech–and within the context of the Republican Convention–felt like she saw the best times were behind us. Simpler times. Times that needed to be protected from the future.

And her reiteration of wedge issues in the guise of small town values–guns, abortion, creationism–sets up the old “us against them” no-compromise zone. I appreciated Sen. McCain talking about reaching out across differences to make changes during his acceptance speech, but he really didn’t advocate anything new. And, if his running mate and others making speeches have their way (as they did with his choice for VP), his calls for pragmatic compromise to resolve tough issues will likely disappear.

I used to work in an academic environment with decisions made by “consensus.” What that meant in practice was that anyone could stop an idea by crapping on it. It was a huge challenge to get anything done, make change, see things in a new way, innovate or invent. It was status quo all the time, because there was always someone who knew they could stop change and keep their fiefdoms intact.

So it’s really not about Sarah Palin, who is truly a remarkable person on many levels. I don’t need to think about her, although she helped me to reconcile some ideas that were vexing me.

It’s about the fact that on most issues I absolutely and fundamentally disagree with Sarah Palin and her running mate. And all the distractions that have been fed up by the 24/7 news personalities and Democratic and Republican spinmeisters are just that. Distractions.

So yes, I have been thinking alot about Sarah Palin. And I think that now, I am on the road to recovery.

Bouncing After the Convention

My favorite part of the convention:

Where did they FIND this guy? Give that person a raise, and put Barney Smith first! What a regular guy. Did a more natural job than many of the professional pols.

I wrote this poem for one of my McCain supporting friends, whose kids have been known to chant Obama around the house.

Your Continued Wrongness

YOU said that Dems (Hillary supporters esp.) should be pissed
cuz your folks keep ginning up that Hill was dissed.
Guess you didn’t see your guy McCain was hissed,
and that your other guy, W, won’t be missed.

Another dull speech by our guy Kerry,
didn’t stop the convention hall from making merry.
And the hatchet by both Hill and Bill was burried,
all the precurssor to the 40 states that Barack will carry!

Yo yo yo, and wait till tonite when in his speech,
Barack Obama will rise up to meet,
another man who wouldn’t take his assigned seat
45 years ago even tho the mountaintop he did not reach.

And when the conventions are all done,
and this election is fully run,
Barack Obama will have won.
Mark my words, your daughters will rejoice, Son.

Yeah, not too good, but it’s been what I’ve been thinking about. And it rhymes.