Sarah Palin and other bumbling gifts from well meaning males

When I was all of fourteen I received my first gift of jewelry from a male admirer–a bracelet that looked like an expansion watchband from a man’s watch. It was ugly. It was masculine. It was totally unfashionable and inappropriate. All of my friends were getting friendship rings from Woolworth’s and I wanted a friendship ring too. So I told him I wasn’t ready to go steady–as if I knew what that was–and gave the thing back. Yes, he had poor taste in jewelry, and for me that was a deal-breaker, but he wasn’t any worse than all the other 14-year-old boys, and in some ways he was much more interesting. We connected again in our senior year, then lost touch after graduation. Until the twenty year reunion. I arrived in my Mazda hatchback, and he arrived in his Mazda light truck. Maybe I should have taken that bracelet after all.

Now we have a presumptive nominee of the Republican party, John McCain, who is offering us a female vice presidential candidate as his running mate. Everyone is busy digging up the usual bad news that accompanies a candidate newly in the public eye, but is she really any less qualified than say, Dan Quayle or Spiro T. Agnew?

While no one really believes that women will vote for a presidential candidate based strictly on identity politics, nominating a woman is obviously meant to appeal to the woman vote. How sweet. He notices us, even if this Sarah Palin candidate is supposed to be a religion dominionist, whatever that is, and anti-abortion (but is that just for herself or does she want it enshrined in law for those who don’t share her religion?) and oh, dear there’s the polar bear thing. I like polar bears. And she’s in bed with oil. Drill, drill, drill. Still, McCain is courting us. He’s trying. In his own special, bumbling way. Sarah Palin is that slightly inappropriate gift that shows McCain believes we are important. Should we just smile, say “thank you” and accept the homage? Or will Palin’s flaws be a deal-breaker?

What about the other brand? The word in the Democratic party circles from the nominee is that women voters are supposed to “get over it” (even if only half the voters chose Hillary) and that women are supposed to fall in with zombified lockstep just because Hillary has now endorsed the Democratic nominee. It’s not just a matter of the Democratic candidate not courting female voters. There is more than a suggestion that the recent campaign against Hillary Clinton was knowingly, cynically, and intentionally sexist.

There aren’t any good choices in this election, at least for women voters.

Whetever else happens, there’s one thing we can always count on. Get ready for more negative campaigning.

Posted in Election 2008. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Sarah Palin and other bumbling gifts from well meaning males

If you could find the Free Speech Zone, what would you say?

The Free speech zone at the 2008 Denver convention was a lot harder to get to than I thought. As I was crossing a street, a guy in plain clothes with a coiled wire stuck in his ear asked me where I was going. Did I look lost? As a matter of fact, I had just heard about something called “tent city” where there was a lot of free speech going on.

I found out later there was a huge event going near Confluence Park, but this guy directed me the other direction, up a dead end sidewalk. Three wheeled bicycle taxis, the kind they have in New Delhi, were carrying passengers with plastic identification credential cards hung around their necks. Everyone else was walking.

After twenty minutes or so, I arrived at a very controlled entrance. Only the people with the credentials were getting past that point.

A conversation with another security person directed me further along the sidewalk. Turn at Seventh street and go to Auraria, he said.

After another twenty minutes or so of walking, I found myself alone in the middle of nowhere, and there it was. The cage.

Only a 360 degree view made possible by the miracle of YouTube can do it justice:

I checked the speaker’s schedule, and by some streak of luck, it was my turn to speak. (Yes, it’s full size in case you want to download it and zoom in to read…. J. Stalin’s topic: “This is awesome”; A. Hitler’s topic: “I agree completely.” )

My words of wisdom, spoken across the empty, unbroken expanses of concrete? “El corazon tiene razones que no tienen razon.”

The silence was deafening.

Separation of church and state: Keep atheists out of religion

I was intrigued to see the following sign near the state capitol building in Denver:
I like the idea of separation of church and state. Our current President has injected way too much of his personal religion into the government, not to mention funding them with public monies. And the newest batch of presidential candidates are falling all over themselves trying to pander to various religious, and especially evangelical groups. I say let’s put religion back where it belongs–in churches.

So when I looked up this organization I was expecting to find something high minded that I could agree with. Instead I found an organization that apparently exists to try to discredit religion, especially Christianity. Case in point: a few months before the convention, this sign in Denver had read “Imagine no religion”.

Going a little bit further, if you look at their little quiz called “What Do You Really Know about the Bible”, you will find an interpretation of Christianity that is a caricature of real churches and real Christians. For instance, here is question number 2, along with the supposed answer:

2. What is the penalty for working on the Sabbath?
Answer: A

1. You will be stoned to death. –Isn’t this an excessively violent punishment from a supposedly “Good Book?” What is the harm in working on the Sabbath? It seems the only harm is to the ego of the Sovereign, who demands respect with no respect to human needs.

“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whoseoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:2) For the chilling application of this law, see Numbers 15:32-36, where a man who picked up sticks on the sabbath was stoned, “and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.”

Anyone who can nap in the back of a church for six weeks or so should be able to see the problem with that answer. First of all, like most of the website’s other answers this one is conveniently from the Old Testament. The last time I checked, people who followed the Old Testament were called Jews, not Christians.

Second, it completely ignores the quarrels Jesus and his disciples had with the Jewish authorities over this very question of doing work on the sabbath. After all, they were known to gather grain to eat on the sabbath and Jesus was once accused of healing on the sabbath.  Jesus wasted no time in telling off these religious leaders and calling them hypocrites. But maybe that wouldn’t fit in with the narrative the “Freedom from religion” website has decided to put out with whatever ax they are trying to grind.

What a disappointment. The type of tolerance they ask for themselves is not something they are willing to extend to anyone else. Do yourself a favor. If you want to know about science, go to a college campus. If you want to know about religion, stay away from this bunch. Their idea of “separation” of church and state starts with the destruction of church.

Whining: Sarah Palin is out of touch

Don’t talk about fairness, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin advises Hillary.

“…when I hear a statement like that coming from any woman candidate with any kind of a perceived whine about that excess criticism or a sharper microscope put on her that doesn’t do us any good.

Women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. I don’t think it bodes well for her because a statement like that, again fair or unfair it is a reality, and I think it’s a given.”

In other words, says Palin, don’t mention the double standard, don’t point out misogyny, don’t rock the boat, don’t try to set healthy boundaries. Just work harder and be a good sheep.


When Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, did he worry about a “perceived whine”? When a certain radio personality referred to a women’s basketball team as prostitutes did Marc Morial of the National Urban League worry about a “perceived whine” when he responded, “It’s important that we stand with the women of Rutgers who are deeply hurt by the highly insensitive comments of Don Imus.” Would we have ever had an Emancipation proclamation if Abraham Lincoln had said, “whether slavery is fair or unfair, it’s a reality, it’s a given.”

Governor Palin is out of touch.

Maybe being governmor has given Sarah Palin a different perspective on things. Maybe living in a governor’s mansion, she doesn’t get dissed a lot. Or maybe she is just so cute, with winning beauty contests and all, that she can just bat her eyelashes and guys forget to be crude to her. Not every woman is lucky enough to be born beautiful or rich or even smart, and time and age can take away all of those advantages.

Hillary Clinton is not out of touch. True, she is richer than most of us, and lives a privileged life compared to most of us, but that doesn’t stop her from staying in touch with what American women are thinking and experiencing. Before Hillary decided to make an issue about the way her campaign was being represented, she did something I bet Sarah Palin never thought of. She asked ordinary women what they thought. And when the democratic leadership was writing a platform that was supposed to include a statement condemning hate speech against women, she got in touch with her mailing list again and asked them what they thought.

So when Hillary stands up and speaks out against the hatred, the gender-based attacks, and the just plain vulgar and crude anatomical remarks that have been the hallmark of the campaign against her, she is not just speaking for herself. She is speaking for all of us.

The character and integrity Hillary Clinton has shown in speaking out is something that can never be taken away from her.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Free Speech Zone cage thingy at the Denver convention

Following a rumor about a free speech cage at a place called “tent city” I went looking for some interesting anarchists or something equally colorful I could listen to so my Denver Convention experience would be complete. I didn’t find my anarchists, but after a twenty minute walk that led to a closed-off section of a six lane highway, I did find the official free speech zone–surrounded by a cage.

IN this video you can see a small platform with a microphone inside the cage. In front of the platform is a rather intriguing speakers schedule.

Posted in Free speech. Comments Off on Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Free Speech Zone cage thingy at the Denver convention

What a free speech zone looks like in Denver this week

Free Speech.

Does free speech means you can say whatever you want as long as it’s away from anyone who might be disturbed by the content of the message? I don’t think so. The whole idea of free speech is to have your message out where people can hear it.

Here’s where today’s march for Hillary supporters was shunted to.

This is what a marching permit gives you in Denver this week–at least for Hillary supporters. Down an alley and into this bit of sidewalk. A huge parking lot separates the marchers from anyone who might inadvertently catch a glimpse of a Hillary rally sign.

This is what Democracy looks like.

UPDATE: For video of the cages, barbed wire, stun guns, etc. prepared for protesters, here is the link. My favorite, after a 40 minute walk I find the actual “Free speech zone and test the live mic. And here is the YouTube I made of the occasion for posterity.

New math and old math

Anyone who has chuckled over the various versions of the “you have two cows” political system paradigm will enjoy this math paradigm.

Teaching Math in 1950:A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?…..

Teaching Math in 1960:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:

A logger exchanges a set “L” of lumber for a set “M” of money. The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.” The set “C,” the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set “M.” Represent the set “C” as subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” of profits?

Teaching Math in 1980:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.


Teaching Math in 2010:

El hachero vende un camion cargado de lena por $100. Su gasto de produccion es……..

Of course the temptation is always to personalize something like this, and I have to admit that I did learn math with the 1970’s system. That’s actually pretty close–hee, hee, it’s a great parody.  Now that I am myself a teacher, must also admit that I use the 2010 method with my students.  Pero mis estudiantes son los madres de los que estudian matematica. Their children speak perfectly fluent English and often help their parents translate.

(via Arul John‘s joke pages )

Why Barack Obama should tap Hillary for VP–and why she should accept

The Pumas over at had a minor squabble today as some of them tried to make “Nobama” the official creed of the website.  In other words, they don’t want Hillary to accept the Vice Presidency and they won’t vote for Obama even if Hillary is on the ticket.

The Hillary supporters are understandably alienated from the Democratic party. Their candidate was attacked primarily for being female, not for any policy positions or leadership qualities she does or doesn’t have.  She “threw the kitchen sink” at Obama?  What’s that about?  Now the Obama campaign says McCain that he is throwing “everything” at Obama.  Why is the “kitchen” reference being dropped now?  And when Barack and Hillary met at Unity New Hampshire for their joint speech, all Obama could talk about was how she “could do it in heels” as if she were some sort of mysterious monster who didn’t have feet like the rest of us.  I don’t remember seeing her in heels, quite frankly.  And she looks shorter up close than on stage. If she had heels on she would probably look a bit taller.

Even now the party regulars are talking about Hillary’s “historical candidacy”, not her capable candidacy and whether or not she actually got a majority of the popular vote.  While the differences between male and female in the political arena are not obvious to me, at every turn, the Obama campaign pulled out something about her that was distinctly female, not global that everyone could relate to, as if to say, see?… she’s not like us.  If you would turn that around and start making constant racial references about, say, shining shoes or eating watermelon or fried chicken or even just easier suntanning, I bet there would be a very quick public recognition of unfairness, but using female stereotyping doesn’t seem to register on the public psyche.

The gender war extended to informal talking points as well.  The whisper campaign in Chicago was “a candidate needs to be strong”.  Even now the street people lurch around downtown muttering about politics, apparently unaware that the primary season is over, and saying “men are stronger than women”, therefore you have to vote for the man.  Of course, when a woman does appear to be strong or comes right out and says “I am a fighter”, then she is not seen as a proper female, and she starts to lose the educated white males, who don’t think women or anyone else should turn to fighting instead of diplomacy.

Okay, you get the idea.  Everything thrown at Hillary was gender based.  Not just the B-word in the songs played at official functions and worse all over the Obama official website.  Not just the crude anatomical remarks in the blogs.  But also the organized talking points and twists of phrasing and emotionally loaded content worked into comments and campaign speeches. And as for Hillary’s supporters, well, they don’t have valid interests, like the mortgage crisis or health care or social security or anything, they’re just having emotional storms.   It’s all about stuff like catharsis.  Silly hysterical women.  How quickly the DNC accepts that type of argument.

So what are the choices that Hillary’s supporters now have?

1. Keep trying to get Hillary the nomination.  After all, the convention is not over, the vote was close, and neither Hillary nor Barack has enough votes to win without the superdelegates.  I say go for it.  The process was put in place for a reason.  They should follow it.

We already have one president who doesn’t think he should follow the rules in everything from reporting for military service to writing “signing statements” about which parts of every new law he doesn’t intend to follow. We don’t need another president who ignores the law and ends up with approval ratings in the dungeon.

If Hillary had not dropped out of the race when she did, she would have been able to continue to collect contributions through August, and pay down considerably more of her campaign debt.   She did drop out, and for the benefit of the Democratic party, not for her own benefit. The party has not helped her and has marginalized those who supported her, whose interests she represented. You see the talking points all over the blogs: “you lost, get over it”.  The Democratic leadership considers Hillary’s supporter to be losers, not voters. The message the DNC gives them is not “your interests are important and will be represented by us in some way” but “you are not important.”  When that happens, voters go looking for someone who says they are important and who will represent their interests.

In the likely event that Hillary does not get the nomination, the followers will then have new choices.

1) Hold their noses and vote for Obama.

2) Write in Hillary’s name, possibly invalidating their ballots.

3) Vote for McCain.

4) Vote for a third party candidate, like Nader, Barr, or McKinney, thus helping McCain win but in way that shows dissatisfaction with the Democrats rather than satisfaction with the Republicans.

5)  Forget about the presidential race and work to elect candidates to the congress who will stop voting with Bush and who will bring back peace and prosperity. Politics is local.

Quite frankly , I think there is room under the Puma umbrella for all of the above positions. But I don’t think the Pumas should write off the idea of Hillary as vice president until the moment  Obama actually names someone else, if he does.

Usually the arguments for Hillary as Vice President are advanced along lines of winning the general election.  Swing states. Electoral votes.  Hillary won these states, they say, and Obama can win them with Hillary on the ticket.  Okay that’s important, but I want to go beyond the math.

What would an Obama/Clinton ticket be able to accomplish for the country?  What would the next four years look like?  First of all, whether you are a true believer Koolaid drinker or an empty suiter Clintonista, you have to admit that Obama can deliver a speech. Imagine the next four years with stunning rhetoric and even more stunning delivery.  And vision.  Not to mention hope, change, and audacity.

Now, everyone pretty much admits that Hillary is a tireless policy wonk.  3AM and all that. Also that she knows how to meet endlessly with foreign leaders and people who can help her legislative agenda.  She’s hardly a noob with either domestic or foreign policy. Now, imagine Hillary explaining things to Obama’s speechwriters.  Oooh! I like this more and more. Obama can be like Ronald Reagan and sit in the oval office like teflon while Hillary and the minions keep everything running smoothly.

But here is the real reason Hillary should be VP.  It’s no secret that Hillary wanted Obama as her VP when she was the frontrunner.  She could have run an attack machine like McCain is running now, but she pulled her punches.   She said he didn’t have “experience”.  Now you can’t get over having an evil character, but you can get over not having experience, just by getting some experience–as a VP under an experienced president.  So Obama could have gotten his experience under her, if indeed he is capable of working under any woman, and that would have moved his career along.

Instead, Obama (and Axelrod) mounted a campaign that tore apart the Democratic party, painted the Clintons as racists, when I believe they are not, and possibly damaged Hillary’s career.  Even more important is the gender based attack they used.  This type of attack invalidates the career and character of every woman in America.  It cannot be allowed to stand.  It cannot be allowed to win.  Many women would rather see McCain win that see a malicious and evilly misogynist campaign like this succeed.  It must fail.

Either that, or Obama and Axelrod must build the party back up with Hillary–and the voters she represents–as part of the process.  It’s the pottery barn argument. Obama and Axelrod have set back women’s issues in this country considerably but not irrevokably.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if David Axelrod could use his considerable public relations skill to restore the Clinton presidency to the place in history it deserves, and reverse the damage the Obama campaign has done to Hillary, to the Democratic party, and to American women everywhere?

The FBI wants to interview your neighbors and work-mates

Are your neighbors starting to look at you funny?   Do strangers seek you out and chat you up for no particular reason? When you sit down in the company cafeteria, does everyone suddenly get up and leave?

Maybe you’re not really paranoid. Maybe the FBI has been asking everyone about you because you are the subject of a “preliminary terrorism investigation“. The guidelines for who can be investigated are in the process of being reviewed before they are finalized next week.

…the new policy would let agents open preliminary terrorism investigations after mining public records and intelligence to build a profile of traits that, taken together, were deemed suspicious….(F)actors that could trigger an inquiry would include travel to regions of the world known for terrorist activity and access to weapons or military training, along with the person’s race or ethnicity.

A group of senators has asked for more time for the public to study the rules before they are implemented.  Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

said the guidelines would let the FBI use “a variety of intrusive investigative techniques” with no evidence of possible wrongdoing. The techniques could include: long-term FBI surveillance, interviewing neighbors and work-mates, recruiting informants and searching commercial databases for information on people “all without any basis for suspicion.”

Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and  Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who are members of the Senate Judiciary committee, also asked for the guidelines to be delayed.

Somehow you can just know the Americans being spied on aren’t going to be blue-eyed Rebublican Buddhists.  Good for Senators Leahy, Specter, Durbin, Feingold, Kennedy, and Whitehouse.  Where are the rest the senators?

Posted in Conspiracies, Free speech, Homeland Security. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on The FBI wants to interview your neighbors and work-mates

Puma Fest: Hillary supporters to march on Denver Tuesday—er, Monday

Pumas are packing their suitcases and their laptops and hitting the road for Denver. The big event is Tuesday Monday night–a march to Cheesman Park with a candlelight vigil.

August 18, 1920–The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified.

August 26, 1920–Ratification of Nineteenth Amendment is certified.

August 25, 2008–Denver: “We are the ones no one was expecting.”

Did you remember to pack your white candles, Pumas?