December 31, 2008

haiku wednesday - goodbye 2008 edition

This week's words are

As 2008 leaves, I wish it a hearty farewell and welcome 2009, which many of us hope will bring change. Not just spare change, though some people that used to dole it out yesterday are today asking for it (like certain banks). I hope bone is enjoying retirement and thomg is enjoying being the 3WW czar now. I think there was another change in management that was pretty significant in 2008-9, but it slips my mind right now. Maybe some African country like Kenya? Oh well. Whatever. Haiku time!

a candle's glimmer
I wish it still burned as bright
Joan, your passion shone

(I feel it's important here to note that all my haiku are unrelated. The two below do not have any connection whatsoever to the one above.)

hope's glimmer stomped out
your wish: keep them closeted!
religious passion

I peer through the blinds
glimmer of your bedroom light
a wish of passion

December 30, 2008

The Vermont Farm

Here's the view from the road past my parents' house in Vermont (the house is just out of frame to the right). What you can't see is just up to the left there's a nice sledding hill and a pond (frozen over right now). We got a few inches of fresh snow and a lot of wind last night, so all our bootprints have been wiped away. It really is beautiful here.

December 26, 2008

A Very Southwest Christmas

I have been a fan of Southwest Airlines for many years despite the fact that they originated in Texas.

On Christmas morning we left home at 8:40 a.m. for Oakland Airport. Our flight was a few minutes delayed, but no big deal. I was surprised how many people were traveling on Christmas day, and how everyone still seemed relatively jovial. Maybe because they were on their way to see loved ones, or perhaps escaping from too many loved ones.

Four of us were traveling--one purchase ticket and three frequent flier awards--and I had checked in early enough to get in the "A" boarding group. So things were good. Our transfer in Albuquerque went smoothly, though the 9 year old nearly left his backpack in the terminal because his nose was buried so deep in "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." Our flight from Albuquerque (I love that word for some reason) to Hartford made a stop in Baltimore... something I hadn't known when I booked it, but it wouldn't have mattered.

But here's the point of my post: Although the flight attendants and gate staff were friendly and helpful and cheerful the whole day, it was this stopover in Baltimore that was special. Since we'd arrived 20 minutes early, we stayed on and had nearly half an hour before they boarded the rest of the folks. I told the boys to go look at the cockpit, thinking they'd take a quick peek and then get shooed back to our seats.

Instead, Captain Michael returned from somewhere and invited them into the cockpit. Ethan (the 12 year old) sat in the co-pilot's chair, and Sam (the 9 year old) stood behind and watched. Fifteen or so minutes later, the boys returned looking like they'd just met Santa Claus in person and had sat in his sleigh. Ethan had not only got to change an indicator light bulb that was out (any union reps in the audience please disregard that last note) but he programmed the autopilot for our flight. The captain of course oversaw every move he made, and the proof was in the actual landing at Hartford an hour or so later, but still.

And we thought it was over. But shortly after takeoff, the pilot announced the flight plan and said, "Of course, thanks to Ethan and Sam for helping us set up our flight today." Then Lynn, the lovely and talented flight attendant who worked our section of the cabin from Albuquerque to Hartford, delivered two small bags. At first they looked like paper lunch bags. But the captain had cleverly used (clean) airsick bags to make up some goodie packs for the boys. Nothing special, but each boy got a pack of peanuts, a bag of pretzels, a Southwest luggage tag, and a pack of Southwest cards.

I can not wait until Southwest opens up routes to Minneapolis and Charlotte. When they do, I won't have any reason to fly any other airline. Certainly not US Airways, who charge you a dollar on the flight for a cup of coffee. Talk about no frills.

Anyway, it turned into my best flight in many years, thanks to Lynn and captain Michael and co-pilot Dave. And it happened on Christmas day.

December 24, 2008

haiku wednesday - Christmas Eve edition

This week's words are

Happy holidays to all my friends and even everyone else. For your listening pleasure, here is a bit of Christmas Cheer in song. Sorry these are kinda weak... I'm in a hurry to get packed for our trip.

"please, God" they whisper
close eyes, bitter test of faith
field goal miracle

whisper a sled prayer
faith in snowstorm miracle
his sled sits idle

"like a miracle"
her lips whisper to my ear
"you were good, too, Faith"

December 23, 2008

Ten on Tuesday: Resolutions!

This is not an official 10 on Tuesday post but follows up last year's T10 about new year's resolutions. It comes in two parts: First, a report card on how I did against last year's resolutions. Second, a bunch of new resolutions in the greatest tradition of election year promises. Also, a question to all my friends: What are your resolutions for 2009?

Last year's resolutions:

  1. Vote. For this I get an A-plus because I voted the right way. Unfortunately, much of California voted the wrong way.
  2. Write. For this I get a B-plus because I did write some, and composed the Unlucky 26... but I did not write three short stories like I said I would. I did, however, write two.
  3. Submit. A solid C on this one. I submitted one story to a contest (no luck) and another to a different contest (honorable mention). But that was about it.
  4. Call and write family more often. Um. Maybe a solid D. I didn't quite fail, but close.
  5. Stretch. A on this. I now stretch and warm up pretty well before soccer and workouts. Not that it's done much good.
  6. Get trained for scouting. A-plus. Not only did I get trained, but I volunteered as a uniformed leader for both Cub and Boy Scouts. Not that I have the time.
  7. Revise. Solid B. I have worked hard on Andie's Gold (nee Gold Miner's Daughter), and it's much improved. But it still needs work in the later chapters.
  8. Submit. B-minus. GMD/Andie's Gold have been sent out, but only recently and only to a handful of agents.
  9. Tell people I care about them. I think maybe B-plus on this. I've been lots better, but I'm still pretty reserved in this area.
  10. Carpe diem. I give myself an A-minus on this. Although my writing goals suffered, my day job flourished and I took on several challenges I might have let pass in the past.
Not bad. No total failures. A few good successes.

Now, a few resolutions for the upcoming year:
  1. Do something proactive with the Unlucky 26. Agents, small publishers, or self publish. Not sure yet, but something will be done.
  2. Be more proactive with Andie's Gold. (Assuming none of the outstanding queries bear fruit.) I have faith that this book should be published, and I just need to find the right combination.
  3. Continue to write. I did pretty well until work got crazy; work will continue to be insane throughout 2009, but I should be able to continue writing at least as much as this year, hopefully more.
  4. Don't skip the gym. It's so easy to say "today is too busy," but the days that I go I feel so much more energized. When I don't go, I start getting down on myself. It helps that I now have a buddy who goes to the same gym.
  5. Be realistic about my time. This fall, I had too many obligations. I need to scale back something to retain my sanity.
  6. Reprise #4 of last year: Write and call family more often. Um, yeah. That's a resolution like for every year of my life.
How about you? What resolutions do you have this year? Which ones did you break last year or fail to break?

December 18, 2008

Fully illustrated Unlucky 26

Dear friends,

I have completed a draft of a formatted, fully illustrated version of my Unlucky 26. As our dear friend Church Lady (bless hear heart) pointed out, it can use some polishing. If you are willing to (or interested in) seeing a PDF of the draft, please let me know by email at dudleypj at I'll send you a link and password.

In accordance with the majority opinion, I will not be self publishing at this time. But I do think I will create a private POD project of this and print some copies for my own enjoyment and use while I pursue real publication. (Any publishers or agents interested in seeing it, also please let me know at the above address.)

prop 8... the musical!

December 17, 2008

haiku wednesday - December 17, 2008

This week's words are

Once more, 7 of 17 syllables accounted for. But it's all good. I love a challenge.

I neglect to act
jealous of their fame, I yearn
still I hesitate

hesitate and lose
did I neglect to tell you?
jealous that I won

hesitate, jealous
you think they neglect your needs
while she has their love

December 15, 2008

penny wise and pound foolish

Things are tough all over these days. Foreclosures at record highs. Unemployment soaring. Dire projections for holiday retail with consumer confidence in the toilet. It's so bad that people are now throwing shoes at heads of state. (Where do I sign up for that? Is it like a dunk tank or something?)

So I get that companies need to cut expenses. I get that. But come on.

First, I read about the NFL laying off 150 of its 1,100 workers. First, who knew that the NFL employed 1,100 people that weren't players or coaches? Second, assume the average salary of those laid off is $100,000. That's a pretty generous assumption since it's rare that the highly paid management get laid off in these situations. But let's say that's the case. The league has revenues of $6.5 billion. 150 fewer employees at $100,000 a pop amounts to a savings of about $15 million. So the league, under pressure from the severe economic hardship around them, dumps 150 employees for the enormous savings of 0.2% of revenue. By the way, $4.5 billion of that $6.5 billion goes to player salaries. What's next? Because of the economy, will the NFL start charging for coffee in business meetings? Speaking of charging for coffee...

A few years ago, many airlines stopped serving meals on board for "free." Your $500 round trip fare no longer entitled you to having food provided, even on long trips. OK, whatever, I can see how serving hot meals may actually be a pretty big expense and a huge pain in the ass. Then many airlines even stopped handing out peanuts, ending a tradition dating back to 1904, when Orville threw a handful of peanuts at Wilbur after losing the coin flip to see who would make the first flight. Recently, many airlines have begun charging for luggage... some only charge for checked bags if you have more than one, others have begun charging for even one checked bag. Who came up with this stroke of genius is unknown. I bet it's made gate-checks amusing for the airline staff as more people try to carry on their luggage.

Today, though, I discovered that US Air has not only done all those things, but they've come up with the most ingenious cost-cutting, revenue-producing move of all: charging for drinks! I'm not talking about the $4 for beer, $5 for wine (which on US Air is now $7 each). I'm talking about what used to be "complimentary soft drinks and coffee." Now soft drinks are $2. And a cup of coffee is $1. A dollar for a cup of coffee. On the airplane. Stop the madness!

If they served 10,000 free cups of coffee a day, let's say their cost of serving it is maybe $5,000. Now, instead of losing that $5,000 a day, they're earning $10,000 a day. Heck, quadruple that and say they're making a $60,000 daily bump on their books. Over 365 days, that's $2.2 million. And the soda... For simplicity, let's assume that's $2.8 million a year, amounting to $5 million a year difference on the books. Compare to their revenues of $11.7 billion and net income in 2007 of $427 million.

Let me ask you: How much is free soda and coffee worth?

Yeah, I'll think four or five times before picking US Air for my business travel. I can't wait until Southwest reaches Minneapolis and Charlotte.

December 10, 2008

haiku wednesday - December 10, 2008

This week's words are

I love the word vague. Always have. Not sure why. Maybe because it's only an o's tail different from vogue. Which is one letter different from rogue. Which means something sort of like maverick.

shatter peace, kill truth
something vague about his war
who's the enemy?

"answer hazy"? vague.
shatter the magic eight ball!
enemy inside

coffee enemy?
oh! gross. shatter my groove, dude.
be more vague next time

December 9, 2008

It's time to take sides. You must now decide.

Facebook is apparently the great promoter of democracy. Our friend from Down Under, a bona fide Published Author, demands I come out on my blog and let you, the unwashed masses, decide.

Should I self-publish, or should I not?

Hold on, before you rush to stock up on Spaghettios and canned beans to survive the End of the World, let me give the context. I'm not thinking of self-publishing a novel. No, I hope one day to get my novels out the real way. (I am waiting for the offers to roll in, but some other smart guy has told me I need to send out queries first. Huh.)

I am, instead, considering self publishing The Unlucky Children of Marrow Moor, an Illustrated Compendium of Cautionary Tales. I am currently in the process of illustrating each story.

So, what do you think? Should I turn to the dark side and fly solo (solo as in "alone," not solo as in the Harrison Ford character), or can someone explain how the hell I sell something like this to an agent or publisher?

Lest we forget, our exalted guiding light, His Evilness, self published. Not that I pretend to approach even a pale mockery of a sham of a shadow of his greatness.

December 2, 2008

wellcome, peple with bad speling!

Inspired by OxyJen's recent mention of some celebrity's hair, and lacking anything more interesting to say, I decided it was time to revisit the ol' blog stats!

First of all, this is my 612th post, though my stats say 611 because like some newbie I overwrote one with another when trying to post anew last week. Oh, whatever. Anyway, I can't think of anything else I've done 612 times except necessary biological functions. But probably I'm just not thinking hard enough.

To search strings: My hits are way up this week thanks to a guest appearance by Hayden Christensen in the last post's title. Judging from Google Zeitgeist, he may be joined by the Georgia Senate, Santa Claus, or Sean Avery soon. One wonders why Plaxico Burress is not in the hot 100 right now. Maybe because you can't escape the frikkin' story no matter where you go.

Anyway. Why am I welcoming bad spellers today? Because they are the searchers who stumble here and happen to stick around! According to Google Analytics, I get the most first hits with any permutation of "corner kick" or "hayden christensen." But those are people just passing through when they see I don't really have any photos of Hayden Christensen's hair in pornographic situations. No, the people that stuck around for several minutes (probably because they have to sound out all the words to figure out they didn't find what they were seeking) searched for

  • movie charcters (2.5 pages per visit, and nearly 2 minutes on site average!)
  • www star wors (2 pages per visit, and over 2 minutes on site!)
  • pete dudley (oh, wait, that's spelled properly... but, like a mute pirate, it's missing an aarrh)
Other search phrases that raise one eyebrow for how the hell my site got selected, and another for why the hell someone is searching for them:
  • "i can't imagine mastering the skills"
  • 3ww (american terrorist)
  • charlie the tuna ringtone
  • corner kick foreclosed
  • favorite luke and laura moment
  • hiding a report card
  • jar full of pennies
  • list of celebrity brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners
  • poem the pully
  • son cannot join swim team because speedo
  • you suck spam
And finally, the linky love (top referring blog friends). Click on them because they are worth reading.
  • Paca over in Hawaii! A highly educated camelid.
  • Sarah who is contemplating fleeing to Canada. (Wait until spring, I say.)
  • Janey over across the pond! (Maybe we'll get to meet you on our trip in April?)
  • Robin on the east coast, coming through with clicks even during a hiatus.
  • Gene, living his own kind of insanity. (You'll be happy to know the wall is still standing.)
  • all those agents looking for reasons to reject
  • And honorable mention to Freddy's Cafe, Lissa, Tiff, WrittenWyrdd, and Chris. Merry, Blogless, Fairy Hedgehog, JimK, and J@na all get a mention, if only because I love you guys. But if you want links, you gotta put up the clicks, baby.

November 26, 2008

Huckle Cat, marijuana, and Nano--but no Hayden Christensen

Good buddy Gene who has chronicled his personal DIY Insanity through what seems to me a complete home rebuild, has slapped me with a tag. A "seven random or weird book facts" meme. Simple, except for tagging seven other people.

  1. When I was little, I could not get enough Richard Scarry. I must have had every book with Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm. I would sit with them for hours and hours. I think I finally moved on to chapter books when I was about fourteen. (When my older son was born, we discovered there are videos. Sweet.)
  2. I knew I wanted to write way back in elementary school. My fifth grade teacher had a gold star program where we would get a star for each Newberry book we read or for each book we made and wrote. She taught us how to stitch the paper, add cardboard covers and binding tape. I made at least a dozen such books, mostly fiction. Stories included
    A Trip to Las Vegas, books 1 and 2 (autobiographical)
    The Purple and Green Cat and Other Stories (short fiction)
    Forced Journals (eponymous)
    Tom in Disneyland (fiction)
    More Stories About Tom (short fiction)
  3. When I was in elementary school, my brother was in high school. In the mid 70s. He had this really cool book... I think it might have been Vernes' "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," but I can't recall. He had taken an x-acto knife and cut out the middle of most of the pages, making a secret hiding place inside. I liked to open this book and look at the little pipe and smell the cool dried plants he kept in there. I thought maybe he'd get mad if I said anything, so I kept quiet. It was so cool, but I could never bring myself to cut up the pages of any book, even for a secret hiding place. Of course, I never had any need for a secret hiding place. But my brother's book idea, and its contents, made it into a short story I had published in The First Line a couple of years ago.
  4. I don't read very fast. I don't move my lips or anything, but it takes me a long time to read a book. I could scoot through, but I tend instead to be deliberate about the words, sounding them out in my head, hearing the flow of the language as much as absorbing the story. I think that helps with retention, but it makes it hard to finish some books. I think it's also the reason that I don't like some books that other people gush over. If prose seems stilted, arrogant, or self-congratulatory, or if it's just clumsy, I put the book down.
  5. I love to read aloud to my boys. I read all seven Harry Potter volumes as well as five of the Narnia books to them, and countless others. There was a time I could recite half the Berenstein Bears books without looking at the pages.
  6. I have written four novels in the past four years. The most recent, a YA adventure story that takes place during the gold rush, is good enough for publication. I haven't secured representation yet, mostly because I haven't sent out many queries.
  7. My second job out of college, when I was 23 years old, was running a tech pubs group at a software startup. Over three years I ran a team that produced comprehensive documentation for a PC operating system (PC/GEOS for you old tyme Geoworks fans) comprising about 5,000 pages over seven volumes. I think I still have a copy, in the original shrink wrap, but I can't find it now.
And now the people to be tagged:
J@na (if she's still blogging)
Janey (if she's not too sick)
Sarah (if she hasn't moved to Canada... oh wait, they have internet there, don't they)
Robin (because I can't tag anyone without tagging Robin too)
Paca (there's bound to be a cookbook reference there)
Blogless (because we need something funny and new from da Troll)
Maria (my own writing mama)
And I'd have tagged Lily, too, but her blog is invitation only and since it's invitation only it doesn't show up in my feed reader which means it doesn't really exist in my universe. Sorry, Lily!

haiku wednesday - November 26th, 2008

This week's words are

How could I go nearly a month without haiku wednesday? Maybe it was such a complete, thorough failure with NaNoWriMo that I inadvertently made it NoNoHaiKu as well. Or maybe it was just work, which has been overwhelmingly busy but terribly interesting.

Plymouth Fury chokes
gas price goes down; so does guilt
thankful it still runs

despite your fury
I feel no guilt in her bed
thankful it's over

mom's fury, no guilt
just thankful she don't call cops
I'm outta here, man

November 21, 2008

out da way FOOL

because it never, ever, ever gets old

Test from my new blackberry

because I didn't have anything interesting to take a picture of at the moment

November 18, 2008

First the Worst, Second the Best

We had 80 degree weather for the end-of-season tournament for my under-10 boys soccer team. We had a terrific team, going undefeated in the first eight games (5-0-3) before losing to a team that played dirty but still deserved to win the game. My boys lost their focus and were so concerned about their unblemished record that they forgot all the things they'd learned throughout the year. So we finished the regular season 5-1-3 and the third seed in the tournament.

Our tournament had two groups of three teams each, and group play comprised three games. The top team in each group would advance to the championship, and the second in each group would advance to the consolation. We had a tough road ahead with a rematch against the team that beat us, a match against a top team we had not faced, and another match against a middling team we had not yet faced. And I was worried that we had lost our focus and reverted to typical 9-year-old style (imagine the Peanuts characters in their Halloween costumes, with a soccer ball at their feet). Bunch ball.

But I needn't have worried. Our boys came out on fire and dominated the first game, 4:1. In the rematch against the team that had beaten us, we played hard and could have won but for an unfortunate own goal; we still earned a tie, 2:2. What was great was that not one single player yelled at the boy who scored the own goal. Instead, they rallied and played even harder. It all came down to our third game--win and get the championship, or lose and go home. We came out smoking again and dominated, winning 3:1.

The championship game didn't go so well because our boys were tired (we have only 2 subs on the roster where most teams have 4, so four games in two days is tough). Still, it was a great game, and I am so phenomenally proud of the team for making it to the championship game. Even a 2:0 loss to a very deserving champion felt like a win to me. Plus, we got these really nifty trophies for coming second.

I was going to retire from coaching, but I think I may try my hand at U12 next year after all.

November 12, 2008

imagine, if you will...

Imagine a boy, four years old.  He plays with Tonka trucks in the dirt, creating vast imaginary cities and digging great imaginary canyons.

Imagine the boy five years later, nine years old, swinging at a fastball and slapping it over the shortstop's head to score the winning run on opening day of little league.

Imagine this boy at twelve, his friends teasing him about Cindy Lou having a secret crush on him.  He doesn't understand why he hates the teasing.  He just wants to hang out with his friends.

Imagine this boy at fifteen, discovering he has a deep crush on someone in his science class.  He can't wait to see this classmate, to pass notes and sit close while examining the petri dish or reading the digital scale.  He checks his breath before class, thinks about this person at night in the dark alone in his bed.

Imagine this boy at nineteen, intoxicated by the new blood he's found at college.  He's moved on from high school crushes and has new infatuations, new loves.  He understands his immaturity, his need to spread his wings.  He falls into bed as often as he can.  He learns to become a man--what it is to have his heart broken, and to break another's heart.  And he matures from the experience.

Imagine this man at twenty eight, now with the same lover for five years and certain it's true and forever.  He still gets a thrill pulling into the driveway after a long day at work, enjoys lying in bed together on a lazy Saturday morning, grocery shopping together and driving through the countryside.

Now imagine that this man's love is another man.

You already knew what to expect at the end of my monolog, didn't you?  You already knew, from reading my previous posts, that I was going to drop the gay thing on you, and you're rolling your eyes thinking, "C'mon, Pete, you telegraphed that from the word Tonka."

Now imagine the boy in this story is your own son.

And now think about what your yes vote on Prop 8 accomplished.

We need to work HARDER to protect marriage

I have, one might say, finally seen the light.  In order to protect the sanctity, the integrity, of marriage, we need to protect it all the way.

Marriage only between a man and a woman?  Yes.  But marriage--for the good of the family, for the strength of our very society built upon the family unit as its foundation--must be returned to the purity that it once enjoyed.

Because a marriage will grow weak if the husband and wife are separated for long periods, people who are likely to live in different places for more than two consecutive weeks within a twelve month time should be ineligible to marry.  This would rule out incarcerated convicts, fishermen, husbands who take frequent long business trips, and anyone in the military.

Because anyone who has failed at marriage once is likely to recidivate, divorcees should be ineligible to marry (again).

Because marriage must originate from a place of purity, anyone who has had premarital sex should be ineligible to marry.  This would eliminate nearly everyone who attended college and everyone over the age of twelve in Arkansas.

Because the tradition of the female as the home-based caregiver is critical to the continuing health of the family unit, any woman with a job should be ineligible to marry.  Furthermore, any woman who has ever held a job is likely to suffer internal conflict after giving up the job, and that would only lead to resentment.  Thus, any woman who has ever worked should be ineligible to marry.

Because marriage as a state-recognized institution is primarily for the encouragement of family units, any person who is likely to use birth control after the wedding should be ineligible to marry.  (Difficult perhaps to enforce, so it should instead be illegal for married couples to use any form of birth control.)  Furthermore, any individual professing a desire to go through life without procreating should be ineligible to marry.

Because people who were abused or molested as children have a higher statistical probability of engaging in similar activities, and because such activities endanger the family unit, anyone who has ever been abused or molested or raped should be ineligible to marry.

Children require a solid, fully functional, two-parent (mom and dad) family to grow into proper, society-supporting adults.  Thus, any child of a single parent household (through no fault of his or her own) must be deemed unlikely to be able to sustain a proper relationship and therefore must be ineligible to marry.

Who will help write this new, much more robust and vigorous Protection of Marriage amendment to the California constitution?  I am certain I could get enough signatures to put it on the ballot.  Anyone who voted YES on Prop 8 would be compelled by the sanctity of traditional marriage and the need to protect the health of the proper family unite to vote YES on this proposition, too.  Anyone want to take a stab at the language?

By the way, do people who "see the light" understand that what they're seeing is the perfect integration of the entire rainbow?

November 7, 2008

A brighter day

A friend's post about happy people at Home Depot brought to mind a post I wrote just prior to the 2004 elections about human events causing global changes.

During George Bush's first term, the brightness of the visible dark side of the moon increased, which means that light reflected from Earth increased. Ergo, light reaching Earth from the sun decreased, which meant the Earth literally got darker after 15 years of increasing brightness (Reagan and Clinton). Unfortunately, 23 seconds of googling failed to yield the figures for 2004 through 2008. I'm guessing the Earth continued to get darker in Bush's second term.

Now, though, I am anticipating a reversal with the election of Obama. We've already noticed happy people at Home Depot (which therefore refutes the "global warming" "theory" since clearly they're ice skating in Hell today). And happy people all over. The world is getting happier already, just two days after the election.

Don't believe the world was impacted by the election? Check out the initial analysis by the global consciousness project, The election was as impactful to the global consciousness as the September 11th attacks were.

Personally, I'm planning on buying stock in sun screen manufacturers. It's gonna get brighter down here on planet Earth over the next eight years.

Bush devil image lifted from this place via google image search. Chart lifted from the Global Consciousness Project page linked to in the text.

November 5, 2008

Election thoughts, and then I'm done

One last set of thoughts on the election.

First, thanks to all of you who dropped by to read my drivel and add some intelligence through the comments. Now, my random thoughts:

  • Both speeches last night were brilliant, and perfect for the attitude that needs to be in place to begin making progress against all the troubles facing the country.
  • Where the hell was that John McCain during the last four months? Gracious, articulate, moderate, charming, courageous.
  • Obama can't accomplish squat without Congress, and I hope to hell that Congress takes a truly inclusive, eyes-open approach to solving our nation's problems. I do not have high expectations on that count, though. Politicians being who and what they are, I expect they're already intoxicated by their huge majority and trying to figure out just how much they can ram down everyone else's throat and just how thoroughly they can consolidate power for the next X years.
  • Hopefully not lost from Obama's speech: a sincere and dramatic appeal for people to reach out and help each other. Neighbors need to know each other. Parents need to act like parents, not children. People need to watch out for one another, offer a helping hand instead of a bitter epithet. Anyone who thinks government will solve all society's problems without the cooperation, work, and sacrifice of individuals in our communities is in for a lifetime of disappointment and frustration.
  • Is he ready to lead? Holy smokes, Obama was PRESIDENTIAL in his acceptance. Not only is he ready, but he's a natural. I hope the Obama we see on stage is the same as the real Obama behind closed doors. If so, we chose wisely.
  • Oh, wait... is Bush still in office?
And now I'm done (I think) with political posts for a while. Which is a good thing because I don't have any time to think about politics any more.

NaNoWriMo update: I've fallen way behind and am thinking of dropping the effort. Got some good ideas and even a pretty good opening, but there's just no time this year for writing.

November 4, 2008

Vote! Or don't!

Make sure you go out and vote today.

Unless you're planning on voting for McCain, or for California's Prop 8. In that case, stay home and do not vote.

November 3, 2008

Teaching my kids to exercise their first amendment rights

Rally against prop 8

Prop H8: Because some Americans are less equal than others.

October 31, 2008

The Bible as a voting guide

Many social conservatives point to the Bible for their guidance. Now, I'm no Bible scholar, but I've learned a few things through the years by listening to talk radio and reading letters to the editor. The Bible tells these people why gays are to be feared, hated, and beaten to death. The Bible tells them why war (crusades) should be waged against Muslims, especially Arab Muslims living in or near the Holy Land. The Bible tells them why it's important to use bombs to kill doctors who perform abortions (because life is sacred). The Bible tells them that evolution is not true, and their own family trees provide secular proof on that count. The Bible tells them many things.

But there are two things I understand the Bible says that I don't see these people clinging to. Or maybe I'm misinterpreting.

But I tell you not to resist an evildoer. On the contrary, whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well.
Now, I'm not saying that we should offer up Los Angeles to Osama bin Laden so he can slap us there, too. Well, OK, maybe LA but definitely not San Francisco or Seattle. I think what this is trying to say is that moral superiority manifests as courage, not as fear. Inclusion is an act of courage. Tolerance is an act of courage. Discrimination and exclusion are acts of fear.

But perhaps these people get confused by the mention of the right cheek and the "other" cheek. McCain was getting slapped pretty bad in the polls, and maybe he was returning to the bible in the debate when he pointed out "that one" (the one on the Left). Maybe he was trying to present the left cheek to be slapped instead of him for a while. He certainly seems to be doing a lot of slapping of cheeks.

(Hey, you sniggering in the back. I'm not talking about butt cheeks, so you can stop fantasizing about Palin presenting you with her "other cheek." Sheesh.)

Then there's the whole socialism thing gone rogue this week. What's up with that? Don't the conservatives know that they should not hoard their wealth but spread it around?
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Just look at what's happened to Greenspan. Oh, wait, it says pierced with sorrows, not pierced with arrows. But I guess it's equally valid for him. Anyway, the way I read this, anyone who uses the Bible to guide their social conscience should actually be promoting the virtues of socialism. Don't fall into the traps laid by love of money; spread the wealth around and you will avoid being pierced with many sorrows.

As a final thought this morning as we head into the last weekend of the free world as we know it, here are the two ways we appear to view the world:

TGIF. Four more days! Four more days!

October 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008

I think this makes it official. I am insane.

Two weeks ago I had my first "one on one" meeting with my boss (silly me, I wore my converse hi-tops and Kurt Rambis goggles, but that wasn't what he meant). We have a huge task coming up next year, and I said I was excited about it, even though I didn't really know how to accomplish it. My boss noted at that time that I was, in his word, "insane." I couldn't really argue. I took it as a compliment.

Now I've signed up for my fifth tour of duty with NaNoWriMo. As if huge workload at Day Job, family and house, coaching soccer and playing soccer, cub scouts, boy scouts, and the occasional six hours of sleep didn't keep me busy enough. I haven't even submitted my current novel, Gold Miner's Daughter, anywhere for ages. (Note to self: send that sucker out!)

Any of you out there also playing NaNo this year? My user ID is "pjd" (wow, how ironic is that?), and my profile page is here. Let me know if you buddy me so I can buddy you back.

October 28, 2008

Three dollars... really?

Since I took note when gas here rose above $4 a gallon, I am officially taking note that it's dropped to about $3 a gallon here. I simply don't understand.

Oh, and because I haven't said it in a long while: 4,188 and counting. Though it appears the surge is working because US military deaths in Iraq currently stand at about 280 for this year; simple extrapolation would put the year's total at under 400, which is less than half the annual average for 2004 through 2007.

October 27, 2008

spreading the wealth around

One of my pre-election pasttimes is to click on a few of the links in my daily Washington Post political round-up email. Today was particularly good, with both liberal (The New Yorker) and wacko (The National Review) links. And every one of them (except this one about getting people to vote, which is interesting and should be read) centered on the idea of Obama as a [gasp] socialist.

Why? Because Obama told JoeSam the Tax EvaderPlumber that "when you spread the wealth around, everyone benefits." This sent the Republicans into an apoplectic, eye-bulging, spittle spewing fit of screeching, not unlike the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the rabble demand that a young woman is a witch. Which is sort of like Salem in the 1600s and Washington in the 1950s.

And why shouldn't they scream? After all, Joe just wants to keep his own wealth for himself. He's no rich guy. He's just like all of us. Mike the Dock Worker and Ralph the Garbage Dude and Tiny the Enforcer and Molly the Nurse and Bill the Software Tycoon and Warren the Investor and Andy the IC Engineer and Jack the Lobbyist and Bill the College ProfessorDomestic Terrorist. Every one of us has a job and wants to keep our hard-earned money out of the greedy hands of people like fire fighters, policemen, librarians, and teachers. You know, people paid out of the government welfare system of taxes, living on the state dole. Having our wealth redistributed to them.

I know, I know, that's not what worries Republicans. They're worried that if you start giving poor people money, they'll only want more. And of course, all poor people are poor because they're lazy and stupid and don't want to work. If only we would stop giving them handouts and instead let Joe keep his wealth, there wouldn't be any more poor people. They'd all see how good Joe has it and get off their lazy, fat, stupid asses and move to India or Mexico so they could get honest, outsourced jobs.

It's funny that Palin recently extolled the virtues of Alaska's system, in which all Alaskans collectively own the resources and benefit from their use by oil and pipeline companies. (To the tune of a government check of over $3,000 per household.) Sounds an awful lot like communism to me, Governor. You must have learned a lot by watching the Russians from your back porch.

Personally, I think this country could benefit from a little better redistribution of wealth. I don't see it as an evil thing at all, especially if the view is "a hand up, not a handout." I am well aware that there are many people who are up to date on their cable TV bills but behind in their rent and not providing decent breakfast for their kids. But there are far, far more that are working multiple jobs to try to stay off the dole, to try to lift themselves out of poverty.

But fundamentally, I'm not sure why Republicans are so scared of a few socialist-leaning programs. It's a blind, irrational fear. We can have free enterprise and nationalized health insurance. We can have job creation and anti-poverty programs like workforce development, individual development accounts, child care subsidies. We can still have obscenely wealthy people and use a little of their obscene wealth to end up with fewer poor people. It's really possible.

Oh, and a parting shot at McCain's campaign and the far right: You're running out of labels. Arab Muslim, anti-American, terrorist-lover, baby killer, promoter of kindergarten sex, tax-and-spend liberal, socialist. It's pathetic. You are not the America I want to be. I want America to have the attitude that "when you spread the wealth around, everyone benefits." Not that the best way to a better society is through fear-mongering and witch hunts. I really like having "everyone benefits" as the driver for the "spread the wealth around." This, my friends, is known as "enlightened self interest." When the community is strong, the opportunity grows. Many big time capitalists (see Bill the Software Tycoon and Warren the Investor) understand this and take it upon themselves to redistribute their own wealth. Socialist? Witch? Whatever. McCain, you have been marginalized to the point where all you can do is throw names in the hopes of making the ignorant fearful, and it's a sad thing to watch. If you should succeed in winning, I hope you run the country with more grace and nobility than you're running your campaign. (Oh, wait, did I say nobility? Does that make me a monarchist?)

October 22, 2008

haiku wednesday - October 22, 2008

This week's words are

thomg, who has a blog called "surface tension," has revived Three Word Wednesday. I am a big fan of ThomG's very short and well written 3WW posts, and I'm thrilled he's got it going again. 3WW may be the only "writing" I do in 2009 as work looks to be wildly busy (in a good way). By the way, since says "difference" can have two or three syllables, I'm picking the two syllable version. (In the same sense that American can have two or four syllables, as in "Proud to be a real mur-kin, not some liberal pinko.")

PS: It's worth noting that all my haiku come from a place of fiction primarily. So that last one below? NOT my personal view. Quite the opposite.

you said, "no difference"
now you can suffer alone
my heart does not ache

suffer through math class
is "difference" add or subtract?
my eyes ache, head burns

you ache to fit in?
your difference makes me retch, fag
you'll suffer in hell

October 20, 2008

why are they so scared?

Over the weekend, my wife acquired a half dozen "No on 8" signs. We have never put a political sign in our yard before, but when we saw a "Yes on 8" sign in a yard up our street recently, we could not hold back any longer.

California's proposition 8, if you aren't aware, would amend California's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman. It is not about the sanctity of marriage; at its core, it is about codifying discrimination. It is about fear and bigotry. It is about denying a certain minority population from enjoying the rights and freedoms afforded to the mainstream. In short, it exists to outlaw homosexual marriage.

The family with the "Yes on 8" sign recently moved to California from Oregon and intend to leave California after two years. But while they're here, they are taking a stand. My assumption is that they are part of the Mormon Church's coordinated support of prop 8 since they have a BYU sticker on their car. (NO. I'm not suggesting they moved here just for this proposition. That would be absurd.)

My family had a spirited discussion of this proposition last night. My mother-in-law described a TV ad that is run on channels she watches (I mostly stick to football and soccer, which means I see a lot of beer ads). In this ad, a little girl comes home from school with a book about two boy frog princes that get married, and she proudly squeals to her very concerned mom, "I can marry a princess!"

The implication is, of course, that without this constitutional amendment, our schoolteachers will be legally obligated to turn our children gay.

First, the proposition does not impact school curriculum, free speech, censorship of ideas, or the widely accepted ethic of teachers not to impose personal ideology, religion, lifestyle, or politics on other people's children. The proposition simply outlaws gay marriage. Teachers will still be free to present the same book. Whether they do or not will still be based on all the same criteria they use currently. The ad implies that this amendment would give parents legal backing to ban such books. Not true.

Second, this ad clearly demonstrates that this proposition is not about the sanctity of marriage. It's about the terror that someone could turn your child into a homosexual.

I have known or know now about 20 openly gay men and women, many of whom have been in long-term, committed, exclusive relationships for longer than many of the heterosexual marriages I've seen fall apart. Not a one of them "chose a gay lifestyle." It's who they are, just like "bald white guy" is who I am. There's no choice about it. No one taught them to be gay. No one taught me to be bald.

Why are these people so scared? When my first son was born, a coworker of a friend had a baby daughter at the same time. Someone remarked, "Oh, they can grow up and get married!" Another friend leaned to me and whispered, "Hold on, we don't even know if he's straight yet." That really made me think. And she was right--we didn't know. And I'm not sure when a child knows. But right then I realized it would not matter to me. I want both my boys to grow up happy, successful, honest, generous, compassionate, and intelligent. They should have the right to pick their own partner and make a public commitment to that partner.

I keep imagining that little girl in the commercial. What if she's homosexual? And what if her mom has voted for a law that aggressively discriminates against her? How could a parent support a law that would reduce her own child's possibility for happiness? Are people so motivated by their own prejudice and fear that they would harm their children's happiness?

Equality for all. If you're in California and are eligible to vote, I urge you to make sure you vote NO on proposition 8. Don't let the bigots codify discrimination.

October 16, 2008

the debates are over...

Ha! That title was just to fool you into thinking there'd be something political here again. Nope. I am taking a break from life (the real world) and politics (the hateful slime pit of despair) to answer a challenge from the lovely and talented Janey. (See the answer to #7 below.)

Rules (cuz we all gotta have rules):
*Tagged bloggers post answers on their blogs & replace questions as they wish.
*Tagged bloggers state who they were tagged by & cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by.

1. What do you do before bedtime?
Lately, after the kids are safely tucked in for the night, I've been washing dishes, talking to Maria about her job, planning cub scout outings and soccer lineups, and logging in to deal with work emails. Sometimes, like last night, I get to watch TV (the Daily Show and one of the most boring soccer games I've seen in a while, the US vs Trinidad & Tobago).

2. What is your favorite sound?
My younger son's still-munchkin voice on the phone. They sound so different on the phone. Beyond that, I'd say a gust of wind through mountain pines, the purr of a kitten, or the rumble of thunder and clatter of rain in a desert storm. (No, Jane, I did not copy you... I am reading your answers after writing my own!)

3. What were your childhood fears?
As a kid, I was always deathly afraid of embarrassment. In first grade, the teacher asked what Saint Patrick was famous for. I shouted out, "He invented potatoes!" Everyone laughed at me, and I'm still planning my revenge. (Of course, none of them knew the correct answer, but as the first to get it wrong I received the brunt of the derisive mocking.) I also had this creepy sensation of being trailed by a ghostly presence whenever I was alone in the house. That terrified me sometimes so much that I would walk with my back against the wall so nothing could sneak up on me.

4. What place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back?
You mean besides Disneyland? And the Crazy Horse 2 strip club in Vegas? OK, seriously: I would say "my youth," but I've already forgotten much of it, so that violates the question. I think Paris might be the best answer to this question. I'm generally not a person who likes the French, France, or French things. Not because of the whole surrender monkey thing but because... I don't know why. But I was in Paris only three or four days for a business trip many years ago, and I'd love to see more of it now that I'm older, be able to hang out a while.

5. What has made you unhappy these days?
Having no time to write or visit blogs that I enjoy. I've failed to keep up with friends because work and kid activities take all my time. Those are fulfilling, don't get me wrong. But I miss writing, and I miss my writing groups, and I miss my online friends.

6. What websites do you visit daily?
See #5. No longer visiting sites daily besides email and my feed reader to see all the posts I can't find time to visit.

7. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Um. Female. Irish. A mom. Who writes. And blogs. Beyond that, I'd have to guess that she's mostly generous and a reliable friend to those she likes, and she likes a lot of people. A happy woman who is equally comfortable in a "kiss the cook" apron or behind the wheel of a formula one race car, she wanted to be an old west sheriff as a child. When she was suffering from oxygen deprivation on her third ascent of Everest, she kept her mind sharp by counting to infinity. Twice. She celebrated her 1986 third place Iditarod finish with eighteen months in a hippie nudist colony in California where, through online chat rooms, she helped the government of Kenya solve many problems. When she is not baking snickerdoodles or performing as a clown at birthday parties, she likes to recite the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy backwards.

8. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
Now that I've got it unstuck, I refuse to let it stick again. Since it's football season, it was probably that damned USC fight song. (This is the only song you knoooooowww, it's boring and it's sloooooowwww, etc.)

9. What’s your favorite item of clothing?
I'd have to say it's either my Cal hat or my soccer cleats. Maybe the cleats since when I'm wearing them I know I'm enjoying a fun activity. Other than that, I prefer not to wear clothing. Frequently for the same reason as the cleats.

10. What is your dream for the future?
The one that involves winning the lottery, or the real one? I am a simple person who enjoys life. My dream for the future involves healthy and successful children all grown up and happy in their lives. It involves long stretches of quiet time at a mountain cabin on a lake, with brief and noisy and brightly lit excursions to exciting places. It involves quality time with fictional characters, both those already created by others and those waiting to be created in my imagination and written down. And probably a winning lottery ticket, since we're dreaming. With maybe a cameo by the Swedish Bikini Team.

Wait, that's it? Just those questions? OK, well, I see the rules allow me to add new ones or change the ones above, but now it's time to get back to work and get the kids up and off to school.

I have no idea who's been tagged by this yet. I am so disconnected from the blogger world right now that I don't feel comfortable cold-cocking anyone with a tag. If you want to be tagged... you are! Boom!

October 13, 2008

GOP speak with forked tongue

The Washington Post reports that the chairman of the GOP in Virginia, Jeffrey Frederick, says that Barak Obama is "simply not ready to lead." (See the last line of the article.) The implication in this statement is that some day Obama will be ready to lead.

But Frederick believes what makes Obama not ready to lead right now is that he has, in the past, associated with an unsavory character. So... if it's his past associations that make him unready, exactly what will make him ready?

If this test is applied to every person whose name is on a ballot, then we have a nation full of people unready to lead. (This may be true anyway, but you get my point.) Pretty soon, FOX News will be 24x7 of Six Degrees of bin Laden, proving that every Democrat is a terrorist by association.

Some people say they're sickened by hypocrisy and lies on both sides. Sure, OK. If you're not then you're either blindly biased or not paying attention. But one side is serving up half-cooked chicken while the other side is serving arsenic and nuclear waste cocktails spiced with e.coli. Both make you sick, but one makes you sicker.

October 10, 2008

What's wrong with troopergate

OK, so now we know that Sarah Palin is clearly in line with the Bush Doctrine, even if she doesn't have a clue what it is.

Welcome to the newest episode in presidential politics, troopergate!

The Republican party is so good at Bush Doctrine tactics that they even use them in the campaign itself.  Yesterday, the McCain campaign released their own report on the topic, clearly saying--and thereby proving--that the investigation had been tainted by partisan politics.  (The "proof" was pretty much self creating because they never said which party infused the situation with partisan politics.)  Score one for pre-emptive diplomacy.

This whole situation has me disappointed with the McCain/Palin ticket, though.  Not because Sarah Palin let her redneck, stalker husband use her power to settle his personal vendetta.  Not because she's an amoral, self-serving nitwit.  Not because McCain picked her on a whim, which is presumably how he'll handle every major decision (remember he canceled half the Republican convention when the hurricanes hit a different part of the country, and he canceled his entire campaign when the totally unforeseen financial crisis hit).  After all, he's a maverick, and mavericks shoot first and ask later.  Boom!  The Bush Doctrine at its finest.

No, I am disappointed for two reasons.

First, if McCain had any balls at all, he'd declare everyone involved in investigating Palin "enemy combatants" and disappear them to Guantanamo Bay.  Why not?  It's not that big a step from firing someone you don't like to entirely destroying them.

Second, the whole Alaska thing is bush league.  (Not Bush league.  Bush is a real pro at this stuff.)  McCain could take some lessons from guys like Somoza, Pinochet, and others.  Todd Palin is a small time thug in a small time town in a B movie.  By picking Palin, McCain shows that he has no imagination.  That's not kicking ass.  That's playground bully.

I find it distressing that our top candidates are nothing better than what you might find in Empire Falls.  The whole world is paying attention to four people, and one of them is nothing more than a caricature, a punchline.  I'm beginning to think McCain picked her not because she's a woman but because he knew that he needed something--anything--that he could look better than.

October 4, 2008

Where's Peter Been?

Working, mostly. Our giving campaign continues to go strong, well ahead of where we were this time last year. It remains to be seen how and whether the interesting Wachovia news has any effect. Even more interesting to me personally is that I was selected for the promotion to the manager job of my group. Vice President and Manager of Community Support Programs. Pretty cool. VP. And I didn't even have to debate anyone, by golly, also. Sarah Palin's got nothing on me... sure she can see Russia from her house. But I lived in Berkeley for four years, and that's way closer to communists than she's ever been.

Off to coach soccer now. We're short players today, so we may get our first loss of the year. We're currently 1-0-3 (three ties and one win). Nine year olds are so much fun to coach.

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.