Will the “historical” candidate have a “historical” cabinet?

no-girls-sign-200pxLast night I turned on the television long enough to hear McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s victory speech.  And of course between speeches the pundits had a little time to fill.  “A historic candidate”, they said about Obama.  Changing channels, “…historic…”  Changing channels again, “..historic…”.  Well, at least they all agree.

Today the pundits are asking who will be on the staff of the executive branch. Good question. Currently the the United States ranks 69th in the world with regard to women in government.

Surely the new president who says he wants to unite people will have an inclusive staff? Doesn’t look like it. Obama’s people say there “aren’t enough qualified women” and call the idea “stupid”.

After the last Democratic Primary was over and it was clear Senator Clinton was not going to get the Democratic nomination, myself, and a small group of Clinton supporters met with Senator McCain.I personally explained to Senator McCain that women comprise well over half of the population, yet you will not see a single picture of a woman on paper currency. Women are underrepresented in every branch of government and there has never been a female president or vice president. I personally asked Senator McCain to choose a woman for the Vice Presidential slot and to increase the number of women in the cabinet and on the Supreme Court. Senator McCain listened respectfully to my request. Little did I know then that he heard me and the millions of women of this country who have gone unrepresented in the Executive branch of government for far too long.

When I made similar requests of the Obama campaign, I was laughed at by the canvassers outside my home, told there weren’t enough qualified women by a member of his Finance Committee, and asked by a member of a policy committee why I was making such a stupid request.

But that’s just the finance and policy staff, right? Obama himself really stands for fairness, doesn’t he?  Maybe not.

Obama’s female staffers, on average, make just 83 cents to the dollar his male staffers make.

Ooops.  And it looks like Vice President Elect Biden’s pay practices are even worse. Despite the fact that Biden employs 27 women and only 14 men, very few of the women and men share common titles.  The one job where there is overlap is staff assistants.  These are traditionally entry level low-wage jobs in congressional offices.

So how do Biden’s salaries stack up?

The average male staff assistant in Biden’s office (based on the most recent salary figures) made $39,162 in the time period.

The average woman in that position made $21,323.

McCain’s promise:

By the end of my first term, I promise you will see a dramatic increase in the presence of women in every part of the government. You have my word on it.


For those of us who don’t have a trust fund, this could be a looooong four years.
(Thanks to Madamab at The Confluence)

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

The Pumas over at pumapac.org 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?

Fifteen minutes of fame for the Camel’s Nose, and a prayer on the Arab side of The Wall

I have finally gotten discovered by The Bigtime.

PRI’s The World has linked to me in their August 5, 2008 edition, having discovered me through no less than Reuters. The piece that caught their attention was Obama weasels on Palestine.

Sooner or later, bloggers discover other blogs creating links to them. A lot of the sites that link to me are bogus, only printing the first line of any piece I write, and sometimes even crediting the writing to someone else. They put up a few ads and use my content to make money. These websites don’t last very long.

Other sites that link to me are real people, not electronically generated content. They’re interested in what I say. That’s not always as nice as it sounds. A while back, before all the media fuss about Barack Obama’s church, I visited the church and wrote some opinions about whether it was racist. I say it is. Unfortunately some of the bloggers who link to that piece are looking for something to bolster their adherence to some ideology or another, rather than engage in systematic thinking. Others are looking for someone to link to them in exchange for a link, in order to symbiotically increase the google mojo of both our sites. That’s fine with me. Still other bloggers that link to me are just ordinary people like myself, some international.

The ordinary people thrill me, yes, that’s what life is made of and I love to taste it. But the mainstream media attention is very heady. Getting the attention of MSM means my ideas get wider currency.

The premise of my blog is that one person CAN make difference, just by reaching out, by being tolerant, and enjoying other people for their differences. That’s why my mission statement says “let’s just eat.” In the Arab culture, when you eat with someone, you accept them and shelter them unconditionally, for three days and one third, according to custom. I want that type of acceptance to become contagious.

In particular, every so often I write something about Palestinian independence. King Abdullah has been taking about it all year and says that yes, it can happen this year. I believe him. When I visited the mosque of Omar in Jerusalem, a spot that many cultures have considered to be the navel of the universe, my guide told me there was one spot in the surrounding courtyard where a prayer has a thousand times more influence than in any other geographical location. It’s on the Arab side of the same wall where Obama put his prayer on a piece of paper. I sent up a prayer there for peace and tried to visualize all my Palestinian friends going about their lives without the specter of war.

Of course, prayer by itself isn’t enough. You have to do something to manifest the vision as well, so I told my guide about it. And now I’m blogging about it. I’m trying to blog about it in a very concrete way, in the American way of writing paragraphs with topic sentences and reasons and examples, so other people can start to visualize it as well. And if my sense of history is faulty, they can fill in their own blanks and start to create their own vision.

Palestine the nation. Now.

It’s ours if we want it.

Posted in Jerusalem, Middle East, Obama, Palestine. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Fifteen minutes of fame for the Camel’s Nose, and a prayer on the Arab side of The Wall

View of an Obama presidency from the gutter

MySpace has sent me an email reminding me that today is the birthday of one of my “friends”, a certain  Barack Obama.  So for the Senator’s birthday I will relate a local Obama story.

Last week I paused in the dash to finish all the end of semester paperwork and took a stroll in the neighborhood around my school.  In front of a local day care center, a drunk was shouting about all the people he was going to kill.  That was different.

I made my way to the Radio Shack where my last unfortunate visit had yielded a fawning sales clerk who told me how wonderful it was that someone female would take an interest in technology.  As I restrained homicidal impulses, he read the back of several router packages to me.  Was he amazed that I could read as well?  No, if he was reading to me, he probably thought I couldn’t read.  Never mind, I found a very lovely router for $60 less online through my favorite website, techbargains.com. Maybe reading is such a mystical art, and maybe technology for women is such a novelty, but I sure do know how to accessorize.  The little green lights of the router match my modem perfectly. This visit was even worse.  I had developed a sudden compulsion to look at thumb drives, which were behind the counter.  The lone sales clerk had the volume of a demo stereo cranked to max and I was clearly in the way.  Radio Shack is always so unpleasant.

Returning to the school with a bag of fast food, I settled into the break room and tried to follow the Spanish conversation of the staff.  I had just missed a drunk who showed up at the school.  The same one who had been shouting at the day care center.  “When are you going to give me some food?” he had demanded from the staff.  “Never,” was the answer.

Just wait til Obama is president, the drunk said.  There won’t be any more white people, and you will have to go back to Mexico.

En vino veritas? Is this something going around on the streets or just some drunken raving?  Last winter there was a rumor in the Hispanic community that if Obama won all the blacks were going to riot.  So they didn’t want to vote for him.  In retrospect, after Al Sharptons’s comments about Denver, maybe it’s not so far fetched, but the answer I gave at the time was easy.  It wasn’t that long ago that Chicago elected a black mayor, Harold Washington, and there was no riot.  Just Chicago business as usual.  But what is the expectation on the street?

Posted in Election 2008, Obama. Tags: , . Comments Off on View of an Obama presidency from the gutter

Why Jesse Jackson is after Obama’s nads

So Jesse Jackson Sr. really said he was after Obama’s nads. While wearing a microphone and getting ready to tape the O’Reilly show on Fox Channel. And surprise, surprise, surprise, the mic was turned on and an old media hand like Jackson didn’t even notice it and didn’t even watch what he was saying in front of one of the country’s most notorious conservative pundits.

Who cares.

Oh and just maybe, maybe, maybe, he said something bad about faith-based initiatives, and about Obama’s father’s day speech telling black men to take care of their children, and maybe hint, hint, hint, he even said the n-word.

That Fox teaser tape is cut up so weirdly who knows what’s really on it or what the context was. And we have one that’s even worse than the one we released, says Fox, tease, tease. But Jesse did apologize, and Obama accepted the apology. And Reverend Jackson’s son, Jesse Jackson Jr., issued a surprisingly strong statement that he was outraged etc. Not surprising. Relations within the Jackson family have been strained since the Rev. Jackson admitted to having an out of wedlock child a few years ago. And how can he be a real father involved in the child’s life when he is already in a marriage relationship? Perhaps Obama’s comments about black fathers taking care of their children struck a nerve.

But we have already seen so many stories of power, politics, money and betrayal.

Who cares.

Senator Chris Dodd offers Amendment to FISA HR6304 with Six Cosponsors–but not Barack Obama

If you check the summary page for H.R. 6304 , the FISA Amendments Bill of 2008, on the Library of Congress’ Thomas site, and go to the amendments page, you will see a number of amendments that have been introduced to the bill.  Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)  introduced one of them,  S.AMDT.5064. Sen. Dodd has been working on an amendment that would take retroactive immunity out of the FISA bill, but the text apparently is not yet available.

The amendment has 9 cosponsors:

Sen Feingold, Russell D. [WI] – 6/26/2008
Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] – 6/26/2008
Sen Reid, Harry [NV] – 6/26/2008
Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] – 6/26/2008
Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] – 6/26/2008
Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] – 6/26/2008
Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 6/26/2008

Last week, in response to an email I sent the senator’s office asking for a copy of his FISA position, Sen. Barack Obama sent me an email saying:

However, I am disappointed that this bill, if signed into law, will grant an unprecedented level of immunity for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the President’s warrantless wiretapping program, and I will work with my colleagues to remove this provision.

…but Sen Obama’s name is not on this amendment as a cosponsor.

What’s with that?

FISA rebellion on Obama’s own blog

Barack Obama’s own website is now the host to a group opposing the FISA bill, HR 6304, which would legalize wiretapping and searches of homes, offices, and personal information without a warrant .

Started on June 27 (last Friday) the group is growing astronomically and now boasts 9,937 members.

One comment from David from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania says it all:

I am reluctantly diverting all the money I had earmarked for the Obama campaign in order to address a more urgent matter: stopping the FISA bill…..Sorry Barack my money has to go to correct the deeply unpatriotic mess you are creating to get elected.

Posted in Government. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on FISA rebellion on Obama’s own blog