Friday, February 29, 2008

Words in a Vacuum

I write because I must. It’s a kind of compulsion. I live alone in self imposed isolation and the few visitors I get do not share my political passions. I have no problem with views contrary to my own. I welcome them. The most interesting conversations do not come out of complete agreement. It takes a little friction to stimulate a rousing…….pretty much anything. I have always learned most from those who disagree with me. It is in disagreement that we hone our thinking skills. It thrills me to hear a Bravo! from Sitenoise. But Sitenoise has also been one of my harshest critics. And in conversation with Sitenoise, I have learned to curb my tendency to fling four letter words around.

K Mckierman left a very thoughtful comment about my use of the B word in reference to Hilary Clinton. I was a passionate supporter of Senator Clinton until the evening of the South Carolina Primary and have talked quite a bit about the evolution of my support for Obama. I did not change my mind solely because of Obama’s oratorical prowess. Part of the reason I changed my mind was the way Senator Clinton behaved when she lost a race. It embarrassed me that she did not thank her supporters and congratulate her opponent. This behavior has become a habit with her, and makes her look like a poor loser, a bad sport, and unkind to those who worked for her as volunteers. It is perhaps unfair that we expect so much of a female candidate, but we do. I know Democratic men who say they simply cannot vote for her. Not because she’s a woman, but because she is divisive and they think the Republicans can use that visceral dislike so many independents and conservative Democrats feel for Senator Clinton to defeat her. I want a Democrat to win more than I want a woman President. But what has really excited me is the activism of young people in support of Obama. They will inherit the reigns of power. Without their involvement we have no future.

And as for ohplease, I’ll stick with my comments about Ralph Nader. If you, ohplease, were taking over where Ralph left off, I’d be more interested in listening. Ralph Nader is old. He is older than John McCain, who I think is too old to be President. Why do we have a retirement age? It’s because, after roughly fifty years of working really hard, we are old at sixty-five. I admired Ralph Nader when he and I were young. We are both old now. I’m not saying Ralph Nader should shut up and go away. He should keep his issues alive through his writing and his organization. He should stay out of Presidential politics as a candidate. His involvement in that process has tarnished his reputation and therefore his message, which is important and should be heard.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Problem With Hillary Clinton

Last night watching the debate on MSNBC between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, I realized that part of my problem (and I extrapolate that, if it’s my problem, It might be someone else’s) with Senator Clinton is that her tendency to scold reminds me of my mother. Now most people will say, when asked, if they liked or loved their mother, “My mother was/is great. I love my mother.” But if you then say, “Would you like to live with your mother?” these same mother loving people, male or female will say, “Well….No.”

My mother was a nightmare from beginning to end. But to the hundreds of women she mentored and inspired she was mythic, and since she and I had a difficult relationship, to those women, I must be the nightmare. Such a wonderful, interesting, strong, activist, feminist woman. Her daughter must be such an ass not to revere her mother. And, of course, that was part of the problem throughout our lives. I did revere my mother. I also feared her. And I never lived up to her expectations. I always let her down by not following exactly in her footsteps, the respectful distance she required of a subject and with head slightly bowed. It was never safe to be in too close a proximity to her. Her scold was always shaming and even into my fifties she treated me like a willful, bad child. So, when I see Hillary shaking her finger, holding a mailer sent out by the Obama Campaign with Clinton’s support for NAFTA as it’s message, she shakes her finger and shouts, “Shame on you, Barack Obama!” And I cringe.

I am her demographic, and I hate to tell the media this, but she lost my support after North Carolina. So, who is left? I might not have loved everything Bill did when he was President, but I did love Bill. I loved Hillary for tackling Health care as First Lady. Bravo! I was prepared to be a fan for life, but she failed. Let me repeat that. She failed. It was her lack of judgement and leadership that made that a certainty. She shunned help from the wise old men in the Democratic Party. She was bush-waked by a smart and viscous ad campaign by the lobbyists for the Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industries. And she should be better prepared now. She says she’s been there, vetted, tested, she’s prepared for what the Right will throw at her, but she’s making the same kind of rookie mistakes. Not being prepared to campaign past Super Tuesday is rookie stuff. Move over Hillary, your time has past. It feels a little like a Matricide, but I’m older than she is. And my mother died years ago. Strange that I would take up the pen, so to speak, after my mother lost the sword.

Hillary Clinton was a very interesting First Lady, and aside from her hawkish support for the Iraq war, a pretty good Senator. Maybe there’s a Cabinet position in her future, but I don’t believe it is her destiny to be our first female President. Her organization is top down. The genius and power of Barack’s organization is it’s bottom up approach. It is Democracy in action. It is inspiring. Senator Clinton’s lowest moments are when she mocks the Obama supporters. It’s not a winning strategy. Do not mock hope. Idealism should never be discouraged. And young people will inherit the mess your generation made, so let them get on with it. Please, Senator Clinton, call it off.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Last Debate

Number twenty, but whose counting? Sad to say, I am. And with every debate I grow to like Hillary less. Sorry, Hillary. But I swear I can hear the echo of men across American saying, “Hillary, you’re a bitch!,” and I’m terrified no matter what you do or how smart you are, those men are not going to vote for you. That means in a general election we lose again. I can’t bear it. Please Senator Clinton, withdraw and get with the program of putting a history making Democrat in the White House. You’ve already lived there.

OK, I took notes, so here goes. Senator Clinton got the first question, and she chewed Brian Williams out for picking on her (my characterization about that exchange) and that’s the moment men across the land started groaning, and reaching for the remote control. Is this sexist, misogynistic? Probably, but it sounded like scolding, “Shame, shame on you!” It sounds like nagging. “Why do I always have to go first. I always go first, you never…….” Even to my ears. And I’m a woman. I heard my mother’s voice and I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it then, back in the day my mother was criticizing me, and I don’’t like it now out of the mouth of the woman who would be my President. You give her what you think she wants and she attacks you. Do I remember what the question was? No. I’d have to go back to my notes.

Oh hell, I think I’ll wing it. If it’s possible to drive the Democratic Party into a ditch, tonight’s debate is a good start. Barack Obama did have the best line of the night when Hillary was giving him a hard time about voting with her to fund the war once the war was going. He said “It’s one thing to help your friend pull the bus out of the ditch, but you helped drive the bus into the ditch.” Don’t quote me on that quote, since I’m not reading from my notes. But the big news tonight was Russert’s questioning Clinton about wanting to withdraw a vote, and she finally admitted that she would like a do-over on that vote. It came close to saying “I was wrong.” But I want to hear her say it, “That vote was a mistake. I shouldn’t have voted that way and I apologize.” No more parsing words.

Barack Obama was charming, smart, well informed and always graceful on every question, every rebuttal. He does not lose anything. But we are tired of this primary race. We really have chosen our candidate and now all this petty bickering about the details of each other’s health care plans. Bla, bla, bla. I’d rather read it on your web site. Don’t bore us into a stuporous coma now, we just got fired up.

It's Going To Be A Bumpy Ride

Hillary has become shrill again. The Republicans are doing research on just how racist they can go and not be accused of racism. The press is chasing the hounds on the pretty young Lobbyist and the grizzled old war horse story, not so much to perv on the sex angle, but to uncover the quid pro quo. So hang on to your hats folks.

The last (you promise?) Democratic Debate is tonight. If Hillary doesn’t stun us all with a gracious and charming concession tonight, I would like to hibernate until the evening of the Primaries in Texas and Ohio, Vermont and where else is it? I’m getting whiplash from Hillary’s mood changes. Put the gun down and back away from the ledge.

And if, by some magic slight-of-hand, it’s Hillary v McCain in the general election, I don’t want to watch the spectacle of two hawks on National Defense policy spending the next ten months duking it out for who’s the toughest. Defense is one thing, aggression is another all together.

Please, please, please, let it be Barack. Since he didn’t vote for the Iraq War Resolution, he and McCain will really have something substantive to say to each other in debates about this particular war in this particular time. Let’s get on with it. It will certainly be fascinating to see just how racist, racist enough is. How do you fight someone who won’t crawl in the gutter with you? I’m pretty sure Carl Rove’s got some pretty good ideas. Looking for sex tapes, are you, Carl?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ralph Nader!!!??? Not Again!!!!

What the hell just happened? I feel like I woke up in a time warp. Ralph Nader has just announced on Meet the Press this morning that he is running for President again!!!??? Did he learn nothing? Did we learn nothing? Is there anyone left in America who doesn’t know that we would not have had eight years of George W. Bush if Nader hadn’t run in the past two Presidential races? What does Nader want? Jesus, isn’t he older than McCain? Does he need a fame fix? Will somebody get the hook.

Once upon a time, Ralph Nader was a hero of the consumer. He was champion for the working class. Now he’s an old man long past retirement age. He should let the young turks, whoever they are, move into the spotlight as leaders of a movement that belongs within the umbrella of the Democratic Party, if the intention is to make change that will make consumer products safer, keep jobs here at home, rebuild infrastructure, go green in all new building and remodeling, and so on. Yes. Ralph, Bravo. Now get off the stage and and give the youngsters a chance to screw things up. You’ve had your chance and you did it most effectively. I owe the loss of my civil rights to you. Thanks Ralph, Goodbye.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

So, Let's Get Real, Girl!

I remember some speech Hillary Clinton gave somewhere that got a lot of sound-bite coverage by the pundits ( all male and white guys and old by most standards). She said “…..I’m Your Girl!!!!!!” And I cringed. My mother would roll over in her grave to hear a woman running for anything, dogcatcher to President, call herself a girl. She used to get pissed off at me calling eighteen year old women girls. So, now Hillary “Our Girl” Clinton want’s to “Get Real” about who is qualified and experienced enough to be President. OK, Let’s.

Hillary became a woman with a political record first time on the public stage, but what we knew about her was limited to her experience as the wife of an obscure Governor of Arkansas running for President. Then she was a First Lady, the first big thing she tackled was Health Care. I had high hopes and cheered her on. But she did it in great secrecy and alienated even Democrats from Congress because she didn’t want anybody’s input but her own. It got us nowhere, maybe even set us back a ways. She got defeated first time out. What did she learn? I’m not sure. She seems to be stubborn and secretive about finances and documents that should be public record. She stonewalled every investigation and created such bad will that she is universally seen as divisive and polarizing. When she got elected to the Senate she cast the most important vote of her life the wrong way, and though she admits that if she knew than what she knows now she would have voted differently. Well, that means her vote was a mistake, though she will not admit that, nor will she apologize for that vote. This doesn’t make her look smart, or strong, it makes her look wrong and stubborn about being wrong. She is the wrong woman at the right time. Happily we have a very talented, intelligent, experienced and inspiring African American man, who is not so polarizing and divisive, to vote for. He has broad appeal among all demographics and it is widening, while hers is narrowing.

So let’s get real, Hillary. Barack Obama seems better able to win in states as far apart as Wisconsin and South Carolina, Minnesota and Georgia, Maine and Utah, Idaho and Louisiana, I could go on, but you get my drift. In states that are considered swing states, Barack has broad appeal and most liberal Republicans could happily vote for him. The same cannot be said for you, Hillary. Hell, I know male Democrats who say they couldn’t vote for you—they’d rather stay home. Is that real enough? At this point I don’t care if this bias against you is sexism or not. I don’t want John McCain and the Republican agenda stripping me of more of my civil rights and starting more wars. So Hillary, I’d like you to step aside and fall in line. Is that real enough?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

John, You Old Dog

Not to slander dogs, but….. Not you too, John. John “The Straight Talk Express” McCain had a too cozy relationship with a 40 year old lobbyist named Vivki(sic) Iseman, that is now breaking news. His senior advisers “had to keep her away from him to protect him from himself.” What I want to know is, whose going to protect us from him? So far the story seems to be old news as far as the facts of a philandering John is concerned. The big news is the possible quid pro quo. Did he do favors for her with her clients? If that part of the story turns out to be true, John McCain is probably finished. Even if this only turns out to be about infidelity it might hurt him with female “values” voters, and would make anything he has to say in the future about the “sanctity” of marriage completely laughable. Or should marriage now be defined as between a man and a woman and his mistress? What is the religious right going to think about all this? I’d bet money the Democratic candidates don't go near it. And it does, sadly, once again, remind us of Bill. Speaking of old dogs.

Hillary Needs To Learn The Art of Losng

I understand that nobody likes to lose. It’s almost Un-American. But something that is very distinctly American is sportsmanship, or in this case, sportswomanship. Hillary needs a lesson. Let me tell you how it’s done, Senator Clinton. Here goes.

Once the networks have called the vote as having gone in your opponents favor, you go to whatever venue is scheduled, and before whatever audience you have, say, “I’d like to thank the people who worked so hard on my behalf (in Wisconsin, for instance)—the volunteers who made calls and walked door to door (in the freezing cold, or snow, or whatever it is, wherever it is) to get out the vote. Thank You. And I offer my congratulations to Senator Obama for his victory in, “Wisconsin, Washington, Hawaii, (wherever).” Take a graceful moment to do this obvious thing. Then make your uninspired stump speech.

If someone in her campaign is telling her this little nicety isn’t necessary or important, they are doing her a disservice. If they are telling her to disparage his inspirational speaking style, they are wrong. If they are telling her to make light of Senator Obama’s message of hope and change, this, too, is a mistake. We desperately need hope. It’s about all we have left. And as for change, Senator Clinton, get ready. Change is coming.

Chris Matthews is a Thug

I’ve given up watching Chris Matthews’ show Hardball on MSNBC. But I do still watch Keith Olbermann, and I prefer watching MSNBC’s coverage of the various primaries and that, sadly for both me and Mr. Olbermann means a nearly toxic dose of Matthews. There are many reasons I don’t like Chris Matthews, not the least among them is all the fake macho symbolism—the name of the show, Hardball, screams “tough guy,” the graphics and sounds are too much, over the top, unnecessary, and an assault on the eyes and ears., and his little features like “The Big Number,” push some revulsion button in me I can’t quite identify. But what I hate most about Chris Matthews is the way he attacks and dismisses his guests. He’s even rude to guests he likes, often talking over than, not quite letting them answer a question before he jumps in with his own version, his own answer to his own question. Why does such a bore have his own one hour, prime time news show? And why is Pat Buchannon still a guest on anybody’s show? I’d expect to see Pat Buchannon on Fox, but what’s he doing on MSNBC night after night?

Last night during the post-primary coverage a State Senator from Texas (I think) came on the show to talk about his support for Senator Obama. I was barely paying attention, until I heard Chris Matthews say, “What are Senator Obama’s legislative achievements!!!??” The poor guy talking about his support for Obama started over, sticking to his point, which had nothing to do with Obama’s legislative record, and more to do with Senator Obama as a candidate, as someone who inspires and motivates, and with only a couple of words out of his mouth, Chris slammed him, stopped him again and said, “Sir, You have to give me Senator Obama’s specific legislative accomplishments!!!!!” He was barely under control. The anger and intolerance were not under control. Maybe Mr. Matthews had some prior contact with this unfortunate person, but his question was too aggressive, too angry. And what was the point? O’Rielly plays gotcha politics. Rush plays gotcha politics. I don’t watch MSNBC for that. Thank god Keith Olbermann was there to remind Chris Matthews that they weren’t doing Hardball, they were doing election coverage. But it was the last straw for me. I will not watch Chris Matthews again.

But here’s a thought for MSNBC. Since we seem to be ready for an African American President, Maybe we’re ready for an African American Prime Time News Pundit. I nominate Eugene Robinson.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bad Couple of Days

Yesterday toward evening the dog died. Then, about an hour later the sewer backed up and came bubbling up the drain in the solarium and flooded the bathroom floor. It was too much to deal with in one day. Today the guys from Joe's AAA came to rooter-out the sewer line. There goes my delinquent tax money. Today I clean up the mess, wash Geeky's bedding. I have to scrub all the floors. But I'm listening to the news while I scrub on hands and knees. I'll be back

Monday, February 18, 2008

Geeky Died Today

I knew last night would be my last with my dog Geeky. Since he lost the ability to walk a couple of days ago, I had to pick him up off his dog bed and was surprised again at how light he had become. Down from his prime of sixty pounds to a feathery forty. He didn't struggle as I carried him across the room to my bed. I placed him in his space on his side of the bed, put a puppy training pad under him so his leaking bladder didn't soak into the bedding, and to keep him as dry as possible, and we went to bed for the last time together. A friend called this morning and woke us up. She called to ask if Geeky survived the night, and at the sound of his name being said by me to someone else, he lifted his head, looked at me and wagged his tail. And in that moment I knew I had to call the House Call Vet to let Geeky go. When I got off the phone I started sobbing. I got up, walked around the bed and took Geeky in my arms for the last time and carried him back to his bed. I nuzzled his face with mine. He tried to lick me on the cheek and wagged his tail again. Most of the day he slept with the sun shining on him from the solarium. A friend of mine from New York is in town dealing with a family death and called to ask if she could come visit me to take a break from the family drama of death in her life and to be with me during my little drama; letting go of Geeky. She was here when the Vet came. I held Geeky's head in my lap and stroked his face and neck while his Vet gave him a tranquillizer shot to relax him. And when the shot began to relax him he looked up at me again, then let go and drifted off. My young friend helped the Vet carry Geeky's body to his van to take Geeky to be cremated. It's always strange to me that in death our weight seems so heavy. It was only three months ago that my twenty year old cat, Rianna died. I will be very alone tonight. Geeky, I miss you already. Thanks dear for sharing your life with me.

A Letter to Howard Dean

Dear Howard Dean,
I was a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton until the evening of the South Carolina Democratic Primary. I am Senator Clinton's demographic. I am female, a feminist, over sixty, disabled and living on Social Security Disability, and very dependent on Medicare, and Medicare part D—the prescription drug plan. I am poor. I have many years of college credits but no degree. I’m a life-long Democrat and have voted in every election. I’m an activist. I have always volunteered for the Presidential candidate of my choice. I am very fond of the Clintons. And so, going into the South Carolina Primary I was rooting for her. But several things happened that night that changed my mind. The first was the stunningly beautiful speech given by Senator Barack Obama. I sat in my bed and watched that speech with tears streaming down my face. I have never heard a more inspiring speech given by any politician in my lifetime. The next was the demographic breakdown of the vote in South Carolina. I expected the African American vote to go his way, that was no surprise. But the broad support he got from every demographic was stunning. But most importantly, it was the high turnout of young people who really changed my mind. For the first time since the 1960’s, when I came of age, young people are getting involved in electoral politics. And this fact alone is reason enough to support Barack Obama. These young people are our future. It will be their country, their government to run. The problems that have been created by the Bush Administration will be theirs to solve, theirs to pay for. It has worried me for thirty years or more that young people have grown disinterested and disaffected by politics. They have not been voting, and that is very bad news for America. So to see this candidate inspire and energize young voters is very good news for the Democratic Party, but most importantly it is very good news for America.

And then, after the South Carolina Primary, Senator Clinton did not stay and thank her supporters, the hard working people who went door to door, made phone calls on her behalf, the voters who volunteered for her. She did not give a nice concession speech congratulating her opponent. Instead she moved on to Tennessee and gave a pretty mundane stump speech. Yes, in a pretty off hand way, she did congratulate Senator Obama, but it was a couple of sentences in a stump speech. I though it was rude to all concerned, and made her look petty and like a bad sport. Since that night I have been a volunteer for Senator Obama. I wrote a letter to the Editor of my local paper. I made phone calls for Senator Obama. And despite that fact that amy contribution of money creates a choice of what I have to give up (medicine, food, delaying further the payment of property taxes) I sent Senator Obama a very small contribution.

I live in a state where my vote in the General Election has never counted. Utah is the reddest of red states. Mormons are Republicans. They do what they are told. Mitt Romney won 85% of the Republican Primary vote here. And not all the Republicans who live in Utah are Mormon. So I’m well aware that a plea for Party unity from an old woman in Utah probably won’t mean a lot to you. We Democrats in Utah are pretty much ignored by everybody. But I make this plea to you not as a resident of Utah, but as a citizen of The United States. Please understand that if this Primary election is brokered by Super Delegates and the actual popular vote, the real delegate count is not honored, you will kill the hopes and discourage the activism of millions of young people. This would be a catastrophe for the Democratic Party and for America.

There is something that Senator Clinton could do to make her a hero to these young voters, and would elevate her to a status as States-person extraordinaire. If she could step aside as a candidate, and throw all her mighty intellect and political power behind Barack Obama, nothing could stop us from regaining the White House, and we could govern with a unified Party and without the divisiveness we experienced during the Clinton years. Senator Clinton would be a great Secretary of Health and Human Services. Former President Clinton would be a great roving Ambassador for peace and good will around the world. Former Vice President Al Gore would be the perfect person to tackle the challenges we face in changing our economy from a petroleum based economy to a green economy. And John Edwards would be my choice to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Please try to appeal to Senator Clinton to make this sacrifice of personal political ambition for the good of her Nation. We need her. She has the brains and experience to help us regain our reputation as a great Nation again, but this is not her time to be President. Her time is past. We Boomers need to move over, and give our advise and assistance to the next generation of leaders.

I thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I would appreciate it if you would forward this letter to Senator Clinton.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

The new message from both McCain and the Clintons seems to be, “don’t get your hopes up,” and “I may not speak as well as Senator Obama, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have good ideas.” And I’m here to tell you they are cynical and stupid messages to be sending to people who hunger for hope and intelligent discourse.

Yesterday a friend of mine, who is a retired History Professor and knows the things that interest me, sent me an email with a book review from New York Times. The book is called, The Age of American Unreason, by Susan Jacoby. I have been complaining about the dumbing down of all discourse, the generalized decline in the level of public conversation, or in the case of news pundits, commentary, and it’s driving me a little mad. I’ve attributed much of this public stupidity to nearly eight years of listening to President Bush mangle the language every time he speaks. But, of course, it goes much deeper, and started much earlier. How else can you explain all those grown men standing behind their podiums and raising their hands when asked to “Raise your hand if you don’t believe in the theory of evolution.” Apparently the schools have gotten a lot worse since I attended. This is the stuff of junior high biology, isn’t it? Have we stopped teaching biology as well as civics?

But in Senator Clinton’s case, to claim she can’t give a great speech is nonsense. It’s politically shortsighted and stupid to assert. But the “don’t get your hopes up” message is cynical and makes us, the Democratic base, justifiably furious. Senator Clinton should not cry, except in private. She should not claim she’s being picked-on and her feelings are hurt, and she should not ever say this process is unfair. She has a very well know brand name, and a well oiled political machine. She personifies the term “Washington insider.” She has a husband who is, at least among the Democratic base, well liked and respected, so claiming that things aren’t fair is a little disingenuous. But saying Senator Obama offers us false hope is vile, and will come back to bite her.

We, as Democrats, are going to need the passionate young people who are so inspired by Barack Obama. They are the future of our Party and of our Country. Without their enthusiasm and energy we have no future. They are our children. They are our grandchildren. And they sound a lot smarter than their elders right now. Maybe we should listen to what they have to say. Maybe we can all learn something new. Maybe we, too, can learn to speak a little smarter.

Death Is Stalking Geeky

I am watching my old dog Geeky slowly die. He has been my companion for ten years. He was a young dog when he came my way. Maybe three or four years old. Certainly not a puppy. I fostered him through Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as a companion to my old dog, Lucy, who was slowing down and seemed to need some doggy companionship. I wasn’t sold on Geeky at first, but Lucy loved him instantly, and since my reason for getting him was to perk her up, we kept him. He had been abandoned twice, surviving on the streets until he got picked up and then rescued and placed in foster care. He looked pretty rough at first, scruffy dull coat, skinny. And his manners were not all one would have wanted in a dog, but Lucy liked him, and so I committed to training him. Geeky is a Pointer, Chocolate Lab. mix. With a good diet and daily training his coat became shiny and he learned to sit and stay, he learned down, off, and no. With one exception he became the perfect companion. He never learned to heel. He was strong, and on leash, he could nearly pull me off my feet. So walking Geeky was always difficult. Lucy, a black Lab, Chow mix, on the other hand learned to heel with such ease and consistency I could always walk her off-leash, and so give Geeky my full attention. Still walking with Geeky was difficult. Then everything went to hell in our lives. And so I stopped paying attention to the dogs, because I discovered my mother had vascular dementia.

I had to go to Santa Barbara and move her back to Salt Lake so I could take care of her. She was incontinent. I was her only family. So I had no one to help me. My mother liked to run away, naked preferably. She groped every man who came within groping distance. She fought me when I tried to bathe her, and she fought me every time I changed her diapers. It was like dealing with a strong, mean adult toddler. She took things out of the fridge and hid them in the strangest places, like between the cushions of the couch, and under my pillow. She hid kitchen utensils. Sometimes she hid her turds. It took all my time and all my attention. It eventually drove me crazy. I started hallucinating a couple of weeks before I found a place to take her for awhile.

The day she left for her first stay in a nursing home, I called 911 on myself. When the operator said, “What is the nature of your emergency?” I said, “I’m not sure if this is an emergency or not, but I’ve been hallucinating for a couple of weeks.” The operator said, “Yes, that is an emergency. Please stay on the line.” Within minutes there was an ambulance in front of my house. I spent two weeks in the Psych Ward at the University Hospital. And all during that time, friends and neighbors took care of Lucy and Geeky. And in all that time, Geeky stayed under my bed. He would come out to eat, he would go out once a day to pee and poop, but the rest of the time he stayed under my bed.

Lucy died within a year. She got chronic, and then acute hip dysplasia. She couldn’t climb the stairs to my bedroom, so I took to sleeping on her dog-bed with her, downstairs. My mother came home to live with me again because she kept running away from the nursing home and getting hurt in the process. She also stole something from a male patient’s room, and he beat her up. I felt so guilty when I picked her up. She looked like she’d been run over. Black eyes, bruises everywhere, her nose looked broken. I felt like such a failure. I could protect no one. Not even my dogs. And Lucy was in terrible pain.

So on the day I decided to put Lucy down, my mother was standing over us, as the House Call Vet gave Lucy her last shot, and while I held Lucy in my arms as her life slipped away, my mother was bouncing up and down saying, Whee, Whee, Whee, as if we were on a ride at an amusement park. Geeky hid under my bed. My mother groped the Veterinarian as we carried Lucy’s corpse to his van to take her for cremation.

And then I watched helplessly as my mother lost every last bit of the human identity she had, until nothing was left but meanness. When all other language meaningful gesture left, what remained was the flipping of the one fingered salute, and the words, “Fuck off!” and a lunatic grin, as she shuffled off down the hall, endlessly pacing. Eventually she was unable to chew and swallow. She went into Hospice care on her birthday, December 23rd and slipped into what looked like a waking sleep, unfocused open eyes, but absolutely vacant, heart still beating. She died about 3 A. M. on Christmas morning, a little over two years ago.

Now it’s Geeky’s turn. He probably has cancer, or maybe it’s just hard living and old age. The Vet says he wouldn’t survive anesthesia to do a surgery and find out what is killing Geeky, and pain medication seems to ease his pain. Over time I have increased his dose, and now, today I started giving him a half a seditive. He loses weight, despite my cooking for him. He gets chicken and brown rice, steak, ground beef, ground turkey, sweet potato. He likes Beggin Strips and small Milk Bones, but he will no longer eat his kibble and continues to lose weight and strength. He sleeps a lot. Sometimes he struggles for breath, but he seems to be comforted by my presence. He sleeps on my bed at night, but hasn’t the strength to jump up there anymore, so I lift him. He has taught me to respond to his woofs for food, for company and attention and now he woofs in pain, looking at the wall, or nothing. He likes me at my computer during the day. His bed is right beside me while I write. Geeky’s is the only real physical contact I have with another living creature. I stroke him, and calm myself in soothing him. I’ll be lucky if he makes it to Spring.

There was a time during my mother’s long dying, her loss of identity, memory, smell, taste, everything that made her human and alive, when I was terribly depressed. I lived moment by moment trying to keep her safe, fed, clean, and I slipped deeper and deeper into depression. There were days when, once the chores were done, I locked us (me, Geeky and my mother) in my bedroom. I turned my computer on, pulled up a blank page and sat my mother at the keyboard. She would pretend to type for hours, and I could drift into the cottony sleep of depression. My mother was no longer anyone I had ever known, except for the meanness and profanity. I felt pity for her, but knew if would make little difference to her where she was, who she was around. I was just the person who wiped her ass and fed her. If it were not for my love for Geeky and my responsibility to care for him, I would have simply killed myself. It is Geeky I owe my life to, and it is to Geeky’s final days and dying that I now give my full attention.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Oh No He Didn't!!!!!

Did I hear that right? Barack Obama saying something life, “I understand, that periodically Senator Clinton gets down, and feels the need to attack………!!!!!
Is this code for Hillary’s got PMS? Every man I ever lived with said something similar to or about me when they thought I was mad for no good reason. Be careful there Senator Obama. You don’t want the mighty big backlash that just might set off women all over the country who are experiencing PMS right now. Back away from the microphone, smile and change the subject.


There has been a shooting a day lately in schools around the country. Is this what our gun laws have given us? I know men for whom the only important Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is the Second Amendment. Passionate members of the NRA, Republicans, hunters and sportsmen, is it your desire that all students should carry firearms to school so they can protect themselves from other students who carry guns to school? Should we have shoot-outs in every school in America? Guns blazing from every classroom? Where do these kids get their guns? I really am curious to hear from you. What is the solution to the very real and serious problem of gun violence?

Hillary Clinton: Missing In Action

Senator Clinton, WHERE WERE YOU? You were in the DC area, as were your opponents. They voted. Why didn’t you? If you are not willing to stand up for the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, then you do not deserve to sit in the Senate and pretend to represent the good people of New York, let alone serve as our President. If it is legal for our government to spy on all of us for no good reason with the cooperation of the Telecommunications Industry, then let the games begin. It is in the Courts that legal liability should be decided. By not voting you have made it easier for Bush to strip us of our Legal Rights. Shame on you.

I have tried, since hearing that you did not cast your vote yesterday, to understand what might have motivated your decision to be missing in action. Could it be that you have accepted large contributions from the Telecommunications Industries? Are you a large shareholder? Do you want to keep these extraordinary powers in the Executive Branch of our Government because you think you will soon inhabit the White House? Well, think again. If you keep behaving so recklessly with our liberties, we will not vote for you, even if you do manage to get more Super Delegate votes, and gain the Nomination. It’s beginning to look like you and McCain are closer on a lot of issues than you’d led us to believe. Whether or not you are running a political campaign and are busy, whether or not you are tired, whether or not you are in Hawaii, we don’t care. You must vote on issues of Legal and Constitutional importance. This is your job. This is your responsibility. You owe it to the people you represent. If you do not understand this, withdraw now and let us elect a Democrat to be our next President of the United States.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Keeping the Fear Alive

Thank you Mr. President, you have given You Tube another clip of the Fear Monger’s Refrain. It is straight from the Rove playbook, so old and worn out. You insult us all with your cheap scare tactics. Don’t you remember the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Maybe you can get Laura to read it to you tonight? You aren’t doing the country any favors, if what you really want to do is protect us. If what you have done is legal, why do we need legislation protecting the Telecom Companies? If you believe your own rhetoric, do what you, with your high moral and ethical standards, need to do to keep us safe. Then stand back and let us sort it out through the courts. If it’s all on the up and up, then where’s the problem? Go to Africa. Dance with the people there. We love to see you having a good time half way around the world. We feel safer then. Take a trip with Condi. Just leave us alone. We’ll sort it out.

Mitt Endorses McCain

For what it’s worth, and I doubt it’s worth much, Mitt Romney has endorsed John McCain today. Big whoop-de-do!

Mitt Romney is the current Patron Saint of Utah. He got at least 85% of the Republican primary vote here. Mormons are nothing if not obedient. They do what their Bishop tells them to. But they might have a hard time transferring their support for one of their own, to a man like McCain, with the same kind of religious fervor. Mitt is just the kind of guy Mormons love to love. He’s so clean-cut, so wholesome, so handsome, and he stands for virtually nothing but making piles of money. He is their kind of guy. But McCain isn’t. So what’s a Mormon to do? Stay home come the general election, is my guess. Unless he’s John’s VP.

McCain scares me. I admire his strong survival instinct. That he managed to merely stay alive long enough to be released from a Vietcong Prisoner of War Camp after the war was over says a lot about his will to live. But it is not possible that this long and terribly traumatic experience left him psychically whole and mentally healthy. I’ve always believed that John McCain suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome. And I’m more convinced than ever that his support for the war in Iraq is a stand-in for refighting the war in Vietnam. He was so damaged by his experiences as a prisoner of war, that he can’t let go. His status as a war hero is secure, but he is too wounded and too old to lead this nation as it’s President. And he will lose his maverick status if he kowtows to the right -wing ideologues who want to continue running the country into the ground, sucking money out of the pockets of working people and stuffing their own pockets with tax cuts for billionaires, riches for the war machinery, the arms dealers, Halliburton and it’s subsidiaries, Blackwater, and the oil industry. And now, as of today, it seems John McCain is a flip-flopper on the issue of torture!!!??? The only issue we in the center and even those of us on the far left, agreed with him on, prior to today. Now John MCCain has lost his soul.

Maybe Mitt will be his running-mate and he will be able to take Utah, Arizona (maybe), Texas if they can prevent hispanic voters from voting. Let the campaign begin.

Changing Demographics

I am the Hillary Clinton demographic in every way. The only problem for Hillary is that I’m not supporting her anymore, and I’m not alone.

Demographically speaking, I’m over sixty, poor, without a college degree, a feminist, female, sort of white. Health Care is a huge issue for me. Maintaining solvency in the the Social Security system is also a huge issue. The erosion of Civil Liberties is another big issue for me. But here is where we part company. Her vote for the Iraq invasion is something that has been a problem for me since the day she made that vote. Her vote against the Levin Amendment is another problem. He ties to big corporate interests is another problem, and now her unwillingness to simply state that her vote was wrong, a mistake, and to apologize for that vote is another problem and begins to make her look stubborn and simply unwilling to do the right thing. So, I worry that as President she will be unwilling to acknowledge mistakes and take corrective measures. This has been the kind of leadership we’ve suffered through during the Bush years, and I want a change from that kind of political blundering.

Then there is the Primary race. Even with the reservations I stated earlier, I was supporting her candidacy until the night of the South Carolina Primary. It was then that I saw two things that changed my mind, and caused me to switch my support from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama. The first was the demographics of that South Carolina race. Barack Obama had deep support among the African American community—that was expected. What was not expected was his support among white voters of every demographic—especially young voters, first time voters. I have complained to my young friends over the years that nothing will change until they begin to vote in large numbers. It is an event that has the potential to take back power from special interests—mainly big corporate interests, the lobbyists, the political cronies, and power brokers, and put it back in the hands of voters. It will only happen when we the people get off our super-sized asses and get ourselves to the poles. Elections in the past thirty or forty years have been decided by a slim majority of a slim slice of committed diehard old voters. Young people grew cynical and disaffected and then just disinterested. I heard things like. “How can my one vote make any difference?” And, “They’re all a bunch of crooks and ego maniacs anyway.” So election cycle after election cycle, the percentage of people actually going to the poles grew smaller and smaller.

And throughout that time span the news media grew more and more right wing. So that in order to be “fair and balanced” every political story was presented as if there was no correct position, and all sides were equally valid. And so coverage of big news stories became increasingly skewed to the right, lessening the coverage given to those issues that were seen as “left wing.” And populist was called “socialist.” Over time these ideas became accepted wisdom—The Truth. During this seismic shift in the political landscape, politicians on the left moved to the center, and then to the right. It was at the end of this shift that George W. Bush came on the scene, touted as the “Compassionate Conservative.” And under his leadership we have moved terrifyingly toward fascism, surrendering our civil rights one after another.

If during the G.W.Bush’s reign (I can’t call it anything else) Hillary Clinton had pushed back, fought for what was right, not just expedient and politic, she would now be a more viable candidate. She is wounded by casting votes to make herself more acceptable to a right-of- center electorate, and in so doing made herself less acceptable to voters in the center and on the left. And I am one of those voters.

Then, the night of her stunning defeat in South Carolina, she moved on to Tennessee to give a stump speech. She did not stick around to thank supporters and to congratulate her victorious rival. It looked petty and small. It looked like Hillary was a poor loser, a bad sport. And we are nothing if not sports fans who like to see losers act like “good sports.”

So, that night I went online and found Barack Obama’s web site. I contributed money (a paltry $10.00), I wrote a letter to the editor of my favorite local newspaper and I started writing a political blog. I volunteered to make phone calls for Senator Obama during the Super Tuesday races (Utah was one of the states voting during that primary season). I have always participated in the political process. I am a passionate political animal. Now I proudly display my Barack Obama yard sign, my twenty two year old car sits in my driveway wearing it’s Barack Obama bumper sticker, and anyone in my neighborhood who wanted to join me in proudly announcing to the street my support for Senator Obama got my help in getting signs and hammering them in the frozen ground. And I, Hillary’s perfect demographic, am not alone. I’m waiting for the news media to catch-up to the shift in demographics. I’m not alone. There are millions of us changing our minds, as I write.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Senator Clinton, Wake up!

Hillary Clinton is losing this Primary race because she’s unwilling to be honest and authentic, and after her trouncing in South Carolina, and now after the Chesapeake Primaries, she’s unwilling to be a gracious loser, which makes her look small, brittle, stubborn, and wrong. If she were a man I would say she was exhibiting poor sportsmanship. But she’s looking very petty, and ungracious is not the worst of it. It looks like mighty Hillary Clinton, a woman I would like to admire, is merely small spirited. I would like to be inspired by her, instead I’m embarrassed by her. At the very least you publicly congratulate your victorious opponent, and, ideally, you also thank the people who volunteered to work for you. But Hillary Clinton was in Texas giving a stump speech. She should have used that opportunity to concede. Instead she looked waxen and masked. Smile on the mouth, panic in the eyes. And said nothing congratulatory or generous. Her “all hat and no cowboy” joke was too rehearsed, a cheap and easy shot. Save it for the general election when you are campaigning for Barack Obama. I’d rather have you run the Department of Health and Human Services. I rather have Barack Obama speaking for me. Representing my country to the rest of the world. I’d rather have the next generation and the one after that engaged and idealistic, energized and voting.

And as for you, Senator John McCain, beware hope, it will defeat fear every time. And you are peddling fear.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Judgement: Senator Hillary Clinton's Achieles Heel

Hillary Clinton has got to stop trying to explain and rationalize her vote on authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and giving George W. Bush the green light to take us to war. I remember what it felt like at the time. I remember tears starting to flow as I paced around my house saying over and over, “Oh my God. No. We’re going to war with Iraq???!!!” I’ve heard Rachel Maddow say something similar. I have a male friend who used to be a History Professor, and he knew in that moment what her vote meant. Why did we know what her vote meant? How can she say she didn’t know what it meant?

I have listened to her over and over offer up rationalization and justification for a vote that anointed George W. Bush as The War President. Her great grandchildren will be paying for it. We will all be paying for it for generations. I know the political reason for the vote. She couldn’t afford to look weak as a potential Commander in Chief. It was cynical and not in the country’s best interest. And she was in a better position than almost anyone to know that.

Barbara Boxer knew it. Ted Kennedy knew it. So did twenty seven other Democrats and one Republican. What information did they have that you did not Senator Clinton? Did they actually take the time to read the intelligence reports? Did they put principle above ambition? There were other Democrats who voted yea and later apologized to us, admitted that it was the wrong vote. A mistake. And they have moved on to vote against the blank check, the lack of oversight or accountability. Senator Clinton has also given the same kind of justification and rationalization for not supporting the Levin Amendment. It will not do to continue this awkward distortion of her real reason for what’s beginning to seem mere stubbornness. It is now too late to say, “I was wrong.” It is not politically expedient, at this point, to start telling the truth about that vote. Sadly it’s the only way she can redeem her reputation as a person of principal. It’s time to gracefully withdraw and throw all her energy into the campaign for Barack Obama. It’s time for real change.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lou Dobbs Is An Immigrant

I’m female, seen by almost everybody who knows me as white. I’m over sixty, disabled, and living in poverty. I am very liberal. I was raised by a pioneering feminist and political activist. I have many years of college under my belt, but I have no degree. And since I skipped my senior year of high school to attend the University of Utah a year early, I have no high school diploma. I’m basically a very well-educated high school drop out. And I am descended from the Choctaw.

My blood line has been watered down by immigrant white men from the British Isles. The whole “illegal immigrant” hysteria pisses me off more than I can say. Every time I hear some nut-job on the right, whine about “illegals,” I scream obscenities at the television. Every brown person living on this continent whose family line leads back ten generations or more is a Native “American.” The rest of you are all immigrants. You, Lou Dobbs, are an immigrant. My people did not invite your ancestors. And relatives of ours go back 13,000 years on this continent. You have such short memories, you white guys, you think two hundred and fifty years is an eternity. It’s the blink of an eye. Soon, we will all be a little browner. It will be helpful in dealing with the ecological nightmare we are facing, thanks to you immigrant white guys and your rape, pillage, and plunder ethos. Greed and ruthless shortsightedness is your Achilles heel.

I did not think I would live long enough to see a political season such as this. Republicans booing their presumptive nominee for President at CPAC this week at their annual meeting when he mentioned his plan for dealing with the problem of illegal immigration. Apparently these booing Republicans, immigrants every one, want to ship all the brown peoples from South of the border, who do the real labor—low wage, no benefits, the kind of work that makes you sweat, and takes more skill that any of you want to admit, back to their country of origin. Well I got news for you, this is their country of origin. This is their continent. They belong here. This is home.

But I have to admit, I do love the sight of you squabbling over every little thing we, the “legal” and I might add, voting part of the population have hated about the eight years of “conservatism,” under your guy, George W. Bush. You, at CPAC, represent the very bums we want to through out. The harder John McCain tries to please you, to cozy up to you, the worse he’s going to look to the rest of us. So keep it up. It only helps my tribe.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Republicans

First they had John, Rudy, Mike, Mitt, and Ron. Am I leaving anybody out? I probably am. If so forgive me. I tried to remember you, but you were just so damned forgettable. If I left you out, don’t hold it against me. All you old white guys look alike to me.

I remember the early debates for how moronic all those guys seemed to me. Ron Paul stands out as the only one among the bunch with a mind of his own and the courage to express it. I’m not the sort of citizen who wants to do away with government entirely, so he seems like a fringe candidate, but I am heartened to see the support he has among young voters on the right. I like the idea that anyone, or any ideas, energize and engage young people in the electoral process. I don’t care who they vote for. But once they feel that small sense of power that casting your vote gives you for just that moment, I think they will be back to vote again. That’s a good thing for democracy.

Until yesterday morning, here in Utah, there were three “mainstream” candidates still in the race on the Republican side. Ron Paul was always considered a “fringe” candidate, and so he has been left out of the conversation and news coverage. It’s a pity. His participation in the conversation made it so much more interesting. Now he is relegated to footnote status.

Then in a stunningly disconnected and oddly intense speech Mitt Romney withdrew from the race (I have to quote this loosely since I don’t have a photographic memory) “And so, my fellow Americans……in this time of war, for the good of the country, I will step aside and ……..bla bla bla. My brain short circuited there for a second. It was a speech at CPAC, full of red-meat Republicans. Republicans who are still supporting a senseless, economically ruinous war, still rabid to keep their big tax breaks (welfare for the rich), anti gay, anti abortion, anti help for the poorest among us. Anti public school, since they can afford sending their kids to good private schools and will continue to whether or not we improve the public schools. Strange that Mitt Romney, a man who reinvented himself to run in a national election, seemed to be the darling of CPAC. When John McCain came to the podium to speak he was booed, even after the crowed had been asked not to boo—so much for Republican unity and polite behavior when covered by national news media. I’m quite happy to have McCain the Republican nominee. Whichever of the two Democrats running wins the nomination, they will make him look like the bad tempered, ill informed buffoon he has become, in any debate. It will be easy to piss him off, and it will be easy to discredit his support for the Bush/Chenney war and his desire to continue it for ….what did he say? A HUNDRED YEARS!!!! The only way we can continue the two wars we’re already fighting, and start new wars of aggression and occupation, is to reinstate the draft., and raise taxes on everyone. Our military is tapped out. We have sent our National Guard overseas in such numbers as to make us less safe at home. And in so doing, we have made service in our National Guard less attractive to millions of young Americans who want to serve our country at home, but now would be likely to be sent to fight in Iraq. All of this is bad news for America. But good news for the Democrats in this election season.

Monday, February 4, 2008


This is an exciting political season. And I’m an old political animal, passionately engaged and paying close attention. My plan was to vote for Hillary. I’m a life-long democrat, and a sixty three years old . I’m female. I’m a feminist, and I’m volunteering for Barack Obama. I don’t have children or grandchildren influencing this decision. I came to it slowly and it took the behavior of both candidates after the South Carolina Primary to galvanize me to take action and actively support Senator Obama. I have written a letter to the editor of my favorite local news paper. I write a daily political blog and I am calling folks on the phone, asking for their support but most importantly urging them to vote. Really the most important thing in a democracy is the right to vote. Give up that right, leave it to someone else to make the most important decision of you life, and you get the government you deserve. What’s worse, you’re stuck with it for at least four years. And very often that mistake can last eight years. And look what can happen in just eight years.

I love the Clintons. The Clinton years were some of the best of my life. But the rancor and divisiveness during the Clinton years was exhausting. It was the press and the very far right-wing side of the Republican party that kept the engine of vitriol cranking out mud to be slung everywhere. And Bill didn’t help much with his licentiousness and his inappropriate choice of on-the- side partners. So Hillary as our nominee will churn up all that hatred again. It is tiresome and boring. I do not want to go through that again. And as we all know, with the 24 hour cable news cycle, a rumor seems to be as good as the truth. Say it long enough and a lot of people are going to take it as the truth just because everybody’s saying it.

My second problem with Hillary is her vote on the resolution for the Iraq War. I have listened to every debate on both sides of the aisle and I have heard her tortured rationalizations for her vote several times. If the Clintons learned nothing else from their experiences in the White House, the one thing they should have learned is that we Americans can forgive a lot of bad behavior and wrong votes, but we can’t abide a liar. But if once the lie has been told we are pretty quick to forgive once an apology has been given. We seem to like to forgive. John Edwards knows us pretty well. He was quick to say he was wrong on that vote and he apologized for that vote. ‘Nuff said. On to other subjects. But Hillary keeps explaining as if that changes anything. We need an apology. That’s the bottom line.

Then there was the Primary in South Carolina. There were three things about that Primary that made me change my mind:
First there was the stunningly beautiful speech Senator Obama gave that night. It was so moving I sat on my bed as I watched and sobbed. I’m a tough old bird and it isn’t all that easy to move me to tears. But Barack can do it. He inspired me to write a letter to the editor of my local paper. A first for me. The second thing about that Primary was Senator Clinton’s boorish behavior toward Senator Obama. She didn’t have the courtesy to go to South Carolina, face her disappointed supporters, and deliver a graceful concession speech. She was campaigning in Tennessee (I think that’s where she was) and gave a graceless stump speech. Yes she did say “congratulations”, but that was about it. And unlike Senator Obama, who almost never uses the personal pronoun “I”, her stump speech was full of “I”. “I have the experience” “I will be ready from day one.” We yearn to be a united country again. We do not want anymore politics of polarization and divisiveness. We are sick of huge egos and it isn’t all about you. It’s all about us. But the final thing that made me volunteer to work for the Obama campaign was the demographics of that vote in South Carolina. I knew that the large African American population in South Carolina would give Barack a slight edge, but what I was unprepared for was the vote by young people. I have watched young people turn away from participation in electoral politics over the decades and worried about the fact that the old farts are choosing the leaders who will set policy and direction for a Nation that will soon be in the hands of those disaffected young people. It made me hopeful once again that we will be able to keep this country a democracy. It makes me proud of all of you young people. And so I join you to support the new leader of your generation. Yes we can.

Dear Hillary Clinton

Dear Hillary Clinton,
I have always admired you and your husband. I voted for Bill both times. Those were the best years of my life. For the first time, with a growing economy and a rising stock market, I was able to invest a little and watch my investment grow. I had hope that this path we were on would carry us on to another eight years of peace and prosperity under the leadership of Al Gore. And that we would be able to tackle the urgent problem of global warming under his administration. But one of the things that happened along that difficult path was divisiveness within the Democratic party. What stands out in my memory of the Primary season, and the campaign after the Primary was an absence of enthusiastic support for Vice President Gore’s candidacy by you and the former President Clinton. If you and Bill had whole-heartedly stumped for Al Gore, if you and Bill had called in all the favors, cashed out all your political chips, he could have won.

Within the first year of the G.W. Bush Presidency I cashed out my dwindling portfolio of stocks and hunkered down for what has been the most painful and depressing period in our Nation’s history during my lifetime. If Al Gore had won decisively, we would not have spent the last nearly eight years in a ruinous war of aggression, scared by the fear-mongers, made poorer by tax breaks for the richest among us and benefits cuts for the poorest among us: poor children, the disabled and the elderly living on small social security checks and medicare. Why didn’t you put the welfare of our Nation above the petty little problems you had with Vice president Gore? I have been wondering about this for almost eight very painful years. It seems like very small thinking to punish a nation for disagreements and disappointments that really amount to personal pettiness. We all had a right to be angry with President Bill Clinton when he risked so much to satisfy his hunger for a little strange sex with a young White House intern who will always be famous now for the dress she saved, for the words your husband uttered in front of this Nation, and those words now stand to remind us all that he lied to us. He lied to us over something most of us didn’t really care about. It wasn’t the sex. It was the lying. It was the standing there and saying “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” that fractured our country and polarized us even more. It gave traction to the Christian fundamentalists. It angered and galvanized the religious right-wing of both parties, so that people across this land voted against their own self-interest to protest what they thought was sinful and dishonest behavior by your husband. This put Vice President Gore in a tough spot, and I think you and Bill were petty not to understand his dilemma, not to get behind him, and help in whatever way you could to make his Presidency a reality. Frankly my dear, none of us gives a damn if Al’s disapproval pissed you off. It was up to you to rise above it, and to do whatever it took, even if that was entirely behind the scenes, to help him win the ‘02 election. This past eight years is what pettiness has given us. Now I’m asking you to do something that will require giving up your own personal ambition to be the first female American President, so we can have the first African American President.

I am 63 and female. I’m a feminist. I would love to see a woman President in my lifetime. I was a supporter of yours until the night the South Carolina Primary was decided in Senator Obama’s favor. I watched the results come in on CNN and was thrilled by the large turnout of young people. I listened to his victory speech and sat on the edge of my bed with tears streaming down my face because not once in his entire speech did he use the personal pronoun “I”, and I found myself whispering “Yes we can,” along with him, as I sat alone in my small house watching what I believe will be the seminal moment in our country’s history. But the real reason I switched my support that night from you to Barack Obama was your behavior after that Primary. I’ve known all along that Barack is an orator, a brilliant and inspirational speaker, but the absence of a gracious concession speech from you was heart-breaking. It was a real low-point in your campaign. I watched you in, where was it, Tennessee? Your speech was just a stump speech, just another stop along the way to Super- Tuesday. I listened to you say over and over “I can do this, I will be ready on day one, I, I, I.” It was graceless, it was rude. And in the end it was alienating.

I have watched in horror over the decades as young people have become cynical and disaffected by the political process. Fewer and fewer even registering to vote. They have tuned-out and stopped paying attention to anything politicians have to say. They believe you are all liars. But Barack has touched something in their collective consciousness that has ignited a flame of hope. Please, let’s keep that flame of hope alive. So in the spirit of unity, I’m begging you to do the right thing for our country. I’m asking you to go before the Nation and give a speech stating your support for Barack Obama. I’m asking you to step aside and throw all your mighty political power, all your connections, all your drive and passion into a unified campaign to make Barack Obama our next President of the United States. Please Senator Clinton, make history now. Make history in a way that will forever make you a hero with the young people who so passionately want change now. Help Barack end the war in Iraq. Help him unite a country that has not been this divided since the days of Richard Nixon and the waning days of the Vietnam War. Please help him restore trust and solvency and hope and integrity and generosity and a spirit of enthusiasm to this fractured land. We so need your help. We can not heal our tarnished reputation around the world without you help. But now, in this day in this time, we need a great and inspirational orator to speak for us. To make us proud of who we are, to give hope to other nations that we are not the bullies and thugs they see us as today. Please help us heal our Nation. Please support Barack Obama now. With your help, we can do all of this. Yes we can.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

How Do We See Ourselves?

Identity is a complex process of often painful evolution. But we have developed an identity, as a culture, a nation in a world of other nations, as bullies and thugs. That is a big part of the Bush Legacy. Thank you Carl Rove, Thank you Vice President Chenney. Thank you Donald Rumsfeld. I could go on and on with the kudos, but if you’ve been paying the slightest attention over the past seven years, you know the cast of characters. Second raters, one and all. Mean and greedy. It’s hard for me to believe that these people all had reasonable credentials—good schools, a history of public service, business, law. What happened along the way that made them all so cynical and mean and greedy? What’s in it for them besides wealth? Is wealth enough of an incentive to work so hard to wreck a country?

We have a chance right now to stop this on-coming train-wreck. We are speeding toward a fascist dictatorship, willing to wage wars of aggression, willing to occupy other countries just like an old fashioned Colonial Empire. Is that how we want to see ourselves? Our decisions, our personal, private choices about this upcoming Presidential Primary are critical right now. If we choose not to vote we give up all our power as a people, as a nation, we are lost. If we vote mindlessly, out of habit for the party of our parents, we have abdicated our responsibility to think for ourselves. If we don’t listen to the debates on both sides of the aisle, we can’t vote intelligently. Do not let your Church or Parent or Spouse or cable news pundit tell you what to think about the important issues of this election season. Think for yourself, make your own decision, and then vote. For God’s sake VOTE. That is what Democracy is all about. If you don’t vote, do not doubt that someday you will loose the right to vote. And this will be a Democracy no more.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Redemptive Power of Apology

In last night’s Democratic debate between Senator Obama and Senator Clinton (hardly a debate, more a very civilized and elegant discussion), the only thing that I can’t get out of my mind was the briar patch Hillary got into over her vote to give President Bush the authorization to declare war on Iraq. I remember the debates about that authorization. I remember her justification then, and it still doesn’t fly. When she cast her vote, I said aloud to myself, “Oh my God, we’re going to war!” I paced around my house saying it over and over. I’m not half as smart as Hillary Clinton, so how is it I knew we were going to march right into Baghdad? We all knew it. If we knew the consequences of that vote why didn’t she? Many of her colleagues read the classified intelligence reports on WMD, and Enriched Uranium, Terrorist ties to Bin Laden and voted “NO”. If no other Democrat had voted against the Authorization for War, we might buy her rational for that vote. But that wasn’t the case. It was a mistake. It was the biggest vote of her life. And we deserve to hear her say she’s sorry. Now, sadly, it may be too late.

Did Hillary Clinton learn nothing from the scandal surrounding her husband’s relationship with Monica? We are a forgiving people, and if a public figure confesses to making a mistake, especially a very public mistake, we are are pretty quick to forgive and forget. The reason the Lewinsky scandal still sticks in our collective craw, is the sentence, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” We don't like lying. I’m not Catholic, but it’s a pretty universal bit of wisdom that confession is good for the soul. None of us is perfect. Once Bill apologized, came clean with us, we were quick to forgive. His reputation and place in our hearts is secure. He has been rehabilitated, and we love him still. We all make mistakes. But it’s the trying to explain it away and rationalize a mistake, without ever admitting that what you did was a mistake, now that really pisses us off. It's often not the sinning that makes us so mad, it's the lying about it. It's the justifications we don't like.

John Edwards admitted his mistake, apologized and moved on. His lack of viability in this race has nothing to do with his vote on Iraq or his populist message. It is the super-star status of his rivals that is the problem for him. But super-star or not, we are waiting for Hillary to say, “I made a mistake to vote yes on that authorization, and not saying so early on, in the wake of how it all turned out, has just compounded the mistake.” Now we want interest on that political debt.