September 26, 2008

newfound McCain respect

I liked McCain tonight when he said that corporate and Washington greed needed to be beaten down. And I thought McCain was (mostly) articulate, thoughtful, and pretty good at pronouncing Russian names except the once when he sounded drunk. Not that he was, of course.

He did OK for the first 80% of the debate, I thought. I disagree with most of his policy fundamentals, but at least he didn't seem like the doddering, old, out-of-touch fool I had expected. Until the last 20%, when he kept his jaw flapping in childish, thinly veiled attempts at knockout punches even when he'd run over time and both Lehrer and Obama were trying to speak.

He kept winding up for knockout swings but kept whiffing while his opponent looked on in stoic but possibly amused attentiveness.

I can see why white, semi-educated people like McCain's "kick ass" attitude. Talking about Russia, he definitely had the kick ass mojo going, but one wondered exactly how America, with its $700 billion bailout pending and all our troops failing to find bin Laden in Iraq, will go about kicking Russia's ass with one foot while kicking Iran's ass with another while kicking both Iraq's and Afghanistan's asses with the one that is firmly planted in our mouths.

Nice to see he didn't feel much like kicking Packistan's ass, though. Cuz, ya know, he's been there and seen the terrain. He changed Musharraf's diapers once, I think he said.

My favorite McCain moment was when he said, and I quote, "Iran has a lousy government. Therefore they have a lousy economy." OK, OK, I know the converse is not necessarily always true (A => B does not necessarily mean that B => A). But still, it was great timing given that he was only hours before sitting in Washington failing to save America from its lousy economy.

Other moments:

  • I had to scratch my head when McCain called nukes in Iran an "existential threat to Israel." When I look it up now, I see that meaning #1 is "of or pertaining to existence." So I guess he was right. Though I've never heard the word used that way.
  • McCain said Obama didn't know the difference between strategy and tactic. After listing to the debate rage on, I had to conclude that Obama did know the difference and that it was McCain who had them mixed up. Maybe he meant that Obama didn't know the meaning of "strategery." In which case he may be correct.
In the end, I came away less unimpressed with McCain than I was this morning. I still think trickle down economics and kick-ass diplomacy are wrong, and he's clearly in that camp. Obama made their differences on economic policy patently obvious, and he all but asked the American people to think. Think, goddammit, think for once. Trickle down economics does not work. Since Reagan came to power, the gap between the richest and the poorest in our country has grown consistently wider.

I was thrilled that the entire debate seemed truly focused on issues. A lot of it was fluff--both candidates retreated into stumptalk from time to time--but a lot of it was pretty meaty, too, and both gave some good, thoughtful answers showing they knew a thing or two.

But the trick is this: No matter what you do, you can't dodge the fact that McCain is part of the machine. He's been around for four terms. He's an old, white guy. He is in line with most of Bush's fundamental tenets if not specific policy items. And America needs something new.

seemed like a good idea at the time

And that, dear friends, is the new de facto motto of the Republican Party. I could be talking about the Iraq war. Or maybe the TIPS database. Or perhaps big tax cuts for the wealthiest 1%. Or going quail hunting. But today I'm talking about the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. How quickly they turn. Now the people who loved the Palin selection for its potential impact in the polls are realizing that Palin is all sizzle and no steak. She's best when she's on TV with the sound turned off. They're now calling for her to quit. She's been in the job what, three weeks? It didn't take long for the people interested in real issues and real qualifications to draw a new conclusion.

Hell of a way to run a country. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Get rid of Saddam Houssein, we'll be greeted as liberating heroes. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Mission accomplished. Oops.

I find it hard to believe that anyone who has been paying any attention at all--and here I have to disclose that I only pay the barest minimum of attention--could possibly see McCain's potential presidency as anything beyond a sort of a sad joke. He rushed back to Washington to save the country from financial crisis. Then he said almost nothing during the negotiations that devolved into a shouting match. Not much quality leadership from him on that one. But at least he kicks ass, right?

Unfortunately, the US is still full of bigots, and race is playing a huge role in this campaign. Everyone keeps asking, "Is Obama ready?" Shouldn't they also be asking, "Is McCain ready?" Judging from his recent actions, I'd say "no." In fact, I think that Obama is far more ready. Maybe "ready" is a euphemism for "capable." And, like Rush Limbaugh, much of racist, white America thinks black men don't make good quarterbacks. Or perhaps the question isn't really, whether Obama is ready for the Presidency--he most definitely is--but rather whether white America is ready to allow Negro League politicians into the majors.

If it has proved anything, the selection of Sarah Palin has shown that many Republicans still think of Obama as the token black man in a white man's game. McCain selected a token woman as if to say, "Two can play that game." She's out of her depth. She's patently unqualified for the position. There are only two explanations: First, that McCain chose her for the sole reason that he could get a bump in the polls. (Seemed like a good idea at the time!) Or, second, that he actually believes she's qualified. And that is far scarier because it means he's truly out to lunch.

I can't wait to see the two side by side tonight in the debate. Even though a lot of what they say will be politicking, at least it won't be filtered through the liberal and conservative editorial lenses by which we all get our daily news. I hope to hear some vigorous discussion about Iraq, Afghanistan, immigration, and the economy. Straight from the candidates. With opportunity for rebuttal. And that's really the only way we should get it.

September 24, 2008

McCain: Running for President

The most astute label I've seen in the political news today is that of "running mate" for Sarah Palin.

A hurricane hits the gulf coast.  Pretty bad disaster.  McCain cancels half the Republican convention.  (How much do you want to bet that if it was an earthquake in Hollywood, the Republican convention would have gone on as planned, possibly even adding a few parties?)

A financial crisis hits the country.  Pretty bad disaster.  McCain calls for a cancellation of his debate with Obama to solve the crisis.  

I recently heard someone say McCain "kicks ass."  More like hauls ass.  Every time there's a crisis, he cancels everything that he's committed to.  How can a guy who's always running away run a country?  Certainly there are times to cancel things.  An entire American city destroyed by flooding?  Yeah, probably canceling your vacation would be a good idea.  Two buildings destroyed in terrorist attacks?  Yeah, maybe cancel your reading to an elementary school class.

A financial crisis that many experts had predicted for years?  Holy crap!  What a surprise!  A real shock!  We didn't see this coming!  But... but... but... even though we helped create it, and we didn't see it coming, we can fix it if we just... cancel the debate!

McCain is running, all right.  Running from the issues.  Running from discussion.  Running from Obama.  His only desperate hope of winning is to keep the American people afraid and ignorant.

Reagan was a true kick-ass Republican at a time when kicking ass could still accomplish something.  Bush and his inner circle were truly adept at misinformation and fearmongering.  McCain wants to be kick-ass but it comes off phony, and besides kick-ass is not what the country needs right now.  And he's a lousy liar, to boot.  He's a clumsy and less believable version of George W. Bush.  He's like John Kerry, only older, and he voted against Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

The one thing the electorate wants to see is a debate between the candidates.  Finally see them side by side, answering the same questions, going head to head.  (OK, we also want to see a Biden-Palin debate.  I think it'll be a lot like if Jim Lehrer was a house guest on Big Brother.  I wonder if they could have the debate in the hot tub?  That would probably favor Palin.)

By the way, a $700 billion bailout sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it?  But we've spent nearly that on destroying and then failing to rebuild Iraq.  I'm just sayin', is all.

September 12, 2008

playing bridge

A bridge to the future

or a bridge to nowhere?

I'm not the first to use this juxtaposition of phrases. One clearly represents Obama: Real change, a desire to rejoin the world to try to raise up all people and peoples, a focus on issues like health care and the economy and energy independence and education. The other clearly represents McCain: More of what Bush and the neocons have given us for eight years. The only difference between McCain and Bush is that McCain is far older entering his first presidential race and therefore more likely to die while in office. And the only difference between Cheney and Palin is that Palin chooses to shoot wolves while Cheney chooses to shoot fellow Republicans. (I'll take Cheney any day.)

In the last four weeks, I have lost what little respect I ever held for John McCain. He has become a puppet of the RNC right wing and has entirely lost his moral compass. The baldfaced lies and twisting of fact that are coming from his campaign are the domain of a desperate man whose grasp on reality is slipping. The Republican ticket smears mud in the hopes that the American population will be distracted from what really matters and how we got into this dreadful economic position and no-end-in-sight, no-discernible value war in Iraq.

Then there's the outright hypocrisy from Palin and McCain that simply leaves me bewildered. She voted for the bridge to nowhere before she voted against it. She has more experience than the green Obama, but he's a "Washington insider."

You know, I actually heard that a teacher in our local school was very excited that the Republicans "made history" by nominating the first ever woman vice president. Um. Does no one remember Geraldine Ferraro?

I hope to the FSM that the American people have grown tired of politics as usual and the cynical shit-flinging that McCain is doing. I don't have much faith in the American people, though. They voted Bush a second term. They still pay $200 to watch petulant spoiled brats play baseball for $6 million a year. They can be easily duped by people with no scruples. I've come to believe that Palin is such a person. And I am sad for John McCain, who appears to be losing his faculties in his old age.

September 10, 2008

haiku wednesday - September 10, 2008

Bone, the originator of Three Word Wednesday, has decided to stop picking words. So today I have no haiku. But it's not because I can't pick my own damn three words and write some haiku for it. I might even write a random word picker script or something in the future.

No, it has more to do with being simply too busy. I find it funny when bloggers apologize for "not blogging in a while." What I feel bad about is "not visiting all your blogs in a while." I'm sure no one really cares whether I post something or not. Like the haiku at the top of this page says, I'm just one more voice among millions.

I can't believe I haven't even had time to visit all the voice recordings from this most recent round.

Mostly it's work. My job (at least the busy portion of it at this moment) is to run a charitable giving campaign for over 160,000 employees across 80 business lines in all 50 states. We have a team of three people to run this campaign. Last year we generated over $28 million in pledges, and I am hoping that number will top $30 million this year. Not bad for a single company. Last week I flew to LA to present at a senior leaders meeting; yesterday I did the same in San Francisco, then held a conference call with over 600 attendees to talk about campaign policies an best practice. Today we present (via phone) to more than 150 United Ways around the country. Did I mention that I personally design, build, and maintain the web site and database used by our 65,000 donors?

Yeah, it's a busy time. Not to mention the cub scouts, boy scouts, and soccer coaching. So what do I do when I get overwhelmed like this? Tell myself to enjoy it. Like an earthquake.

So, no haiku this morning. I'd apologize, but really we all know we blog for ourselves first and for others second. So I'd be apologizing to myself, and then I'd have to feel sorry for myself, and then I'd feel bad about bringing myself down, and that's just a vicious cycle.

OK, one haiku:
gray sky, bleary eyes
fuchsia glow on horizon
sunset or sunrise?

September 5, 2008

another quake in the east bay

It was downgraded from 4.2 to 4.0 after a few minutes, but we just had another quake.  We think it was centered about a half mile from a friend's house nearby, and only about four miles from our house.

It was the typical WHUMP that shook the whole house, as if a sperm whale had just fallen from 50,000 feet onto our driveway.  Immediately, I blurted out, "That's an earthquake!" as if either of my boys needed clarification.  My older son, pale as a polar bear watching "An Inconvenient Truth," shouted wide-eyed, "What do we do?"  I had no idea.  Run outside?  Duck and cover?  Run screaming in circles?  He demanded again, "What do we do?"

It was then, about four seconds after the initial WHUMP, that I felt the gently rolling wave sway the concrete slab beneath my feet.  It actually was kind of a pleasant sensation, like a hammock or cradle really, and I knew the quake was over.  So I put my hands out, smiled, and replied, "Enjoy it."

September 4, 2008

Watch the author read Robin's story!

Robin wrote it. I read it. You enjoy it.

September 3, 2008

haiku wednesday - September 3, 2008

This week's words are

Off on a business trip shortly. I apologize to all my online friends that I've been too busy to visit your blogs for the past couple of weeks. Haven't even had time to blog myself or even keep up with your comments here. Some things have gone awry, and my hiatus will last another couple of weeks. Blame the season.

home from hiatus
ripped drapes, glass shards, all awry
sure, cat, blame the dog

dress awry, cheeks flushed
blame the heat, we know better
nooner hiatus

project plan awry
oh, snap! blame Tim while he's gone
he's on hiatus