Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Don’t Vote

In Politics on October 30, 2008 at 5:29 pm

And here is a sequel that I couldn’t get on YouTube, so you have to click on this link to get it: The Don’t Vote video.


Faith Priorities For This Election

In Politics, Religion on October 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm

I can’t say it as well as Jim Wallis says it in his God’s Politics blog post, “My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ For This Election,” but here are my own. These are my non-negotiables.

1. The candidate has to be pro-choice and pro-life. This may sound like a cop-out, but hear me out. I want a candidate who is pro-life in all its forms: for unborn fetuses and the prospective mothers, against the death penalty, temperate about war, and concerned about each person’s quality of life. But he or she also needs to recognize that what each person does is between him or her and his or her God and it is not for us to judge or stand in the way of that relationship.

2. As I said above, I want a candidate who will use diplomacy before a show of might. Who will talk softly while carrying a big stick. Senator McCain emphasized the big stick in the second presidential debate, but it’s understood that the U.S. has that; what it needs more of is the soft talking.

3. I want a candidate who fights for the the unfortunates and against the those who are greedy and self-seeking. Who believes in the common good. Who recognizes that one of the roles of government is to pool together all our resources in order to take care of all our countrymen and -women.

4. The candidate has to be a proponent of women’s equality in all phases and sectors of life. A corollary to this is a concern for children and families, which means that the candidate must seek ways to make work more equitable, flexible and rewarding, to supply adequate child care programs for all children, to curb and punish violence in the home, to offer affordable educational opportunities to all people (from whatever class and whatever age), to protect and expand the Family Medical Leave Act, to fight for maternity and paternity leave (ideally paid), and to provide health care for all.

5. The candidate has to care and pass measures to protect our environment. These means policies that explore green ways to provide energy as well as to take up the mantle of the sacred trust that is ours: responsible stewardship of the planet and all that is on it.

6. This is related to #2, but I want a candidate who seeks to work cooperatively with all nations, to not seek only what is good for America, to not wage wars for fiancial gain, but based on justice and human values and to join the planet in fighting global warming and for other environmental concerns.

7. I want to see compassion in my candidate, a caring and respect for all people regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion and social class. I want a candidate who is willing and eager to work and act locally and globally.

8. The candidate must work to rehabilitate America’s stature in the world and among its own citizens. To do that he must have impeccable character and sensitivity toward others.

9. The ideal candidate must also have humility and a willingness to listen to his opponents as well as his advisors.

10. And finally, the candidate must have wisdom and spiritual maturity.

If a candidate fits all these requirements then I believe he or she will be in line with Christ’s mandates to His followers, whether or not he or she is a Christian. I believe in a technical separation of church and state, but not a separation of values and actions. And I believe that a nation led by such a president can be an agent for good in this world. God will be able to work wonders such as we haven’t seen in this country in a long time. I truly believe that.

Election Jitters

In Politics on October 26, 2008 at 12:01 am

I am having the election jitters. My husband can’t relate because he’s not a citizen, although he recognizes that what happens in American politics will affect him as much as the next person living here. But he can’t vote, and therefore doesn’t feel the same pressure I do to “make a difference.” I’ve been asked numerous times to donate time to the Obama campaign, and for one reason or another I have declined to participate. But I’ve donated more money than I ever have before because I feel I must be doing something besides voting. If Obama loses, I’ll probably kick myself for not doing more.

I found this post the other day by Larry David (creator of Seinfeld) which sums up how I feel right now (except for the part about impotence). Click here: “Waiting For Nov. 4th.”

See also Richard Lewis’ “And Larry David Thinks He’s Frightened?”

And Albert Brooks: “Not To Worry.”

[All posted on The Huffington Post.]

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to vote early or wait until election day. The last time I voted in a presidential election I waited for hours to vote. It wasn’t that boring, because I love to eavesdrop. But it didn’t exactly help the jitters I had then, too. One man told me that he was going to vote for Bush just because his brother dared him to. What an idiot! Just to win a bet. Sounds like a compulsive gambler to me.

I would hope that more people would vote for their preferred candidate for more solid reasons than that. I don’t mind that much if someone votes for McCain if they have well-informed reasons for doing so. But what drives me crazy are the ones who say they’re voting for McCain because Obama is an Arab. Or because he’s a terrorist (some think the two are synonymous. More idiots!) Or because they think his economic policy is socialism. (Try explaining Social Security and corporate welfare.)

Whenever I hear or read a claim that one or the other side makes, I check to get an unbiased view of what was said. I would recommend that all voters do the same, or check some other type of non-partisan source. Don’t just take your candidate’s word for it. They all lie to some extent. And if anyone out there thinks that his or her candidate is going to be able to keep all his campaign promises, get real.

Now is not the time for me to quit smoking…

The Homeless Vote

In Politics on October 25, 2008 at 7:10 pm

The homeless are the dispossessed in America. More than any racial or ethnic group, they are shut out from activities that most of us take for granted. One of the things they don’t have, obviously, is an address. Some use homeless shelters’ addresses or post office boxes as mailing addresses, but these are not always accepted as legitimate addresses. And you need an address to vote. So what is a homeless person who wants to vote to do?

The homeless are ignored in the voting process for many reasons. One is the perception that most people who live on the streets are mentally ill. While it is true that a lot of them are (the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates that 25-30% are mentally ill), there are many more who are not. The mentally ill are disregarded even more than the homeless. It is assumed that the mentally ill not only do not care about voting, but that they are not competent to do so. But there are many kinds of mental illnesses, and not all of them are incapacitating, especially if they are being treated with medication.

It is as if we see homeless people as subhuman. They could not possibly be interested in who is President or in local issues and campaigns. Granted, they do have different priorities, but if it seems that they are not interested in voting, it could be because we who are not homeless don’t want to get close enough to find out what they think or want or need. We treat them as pariahs. We don’t want to get close enough to find out anything about them, let alone if they are politically savvy. We suspect that they’re not anyway, and we may be right. Without ready access to newspapers, radios, television sets and computers, how are they going to learn what is going on in the campaigns? it would take one-on-one conversations in order to answer their questions about and sharpen their interest in the political process. And that’s just too close for comfort.

I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that it is morally wrong for them to be ignored and shut out of the political process just because they are homeless.  We need to start recognizing our common humanity. Who becomes President will affect their plight. Not because either of the candidates has promised aid for the homeless, but because one is more committed to those who have little than the other is. McCain is for spending freezes, which will certainly affect the homeless, many of whom receive Social Security of one kind or another. It will also undoubtedly affect the budgets of homeless shelters. My presumption is that the homeless would vote for Obama, but even if they wanted McCain, they still have the right to vote. All they need is the opportunity.

If the truth be told, many of us are at risk for becoming homeless. If we lose our jobs, we only qualify for unemployment insurance for a short amount of time. And unemployment benefits will not pay all of our bills, so we may face foreclosures and repossessions. Without enough money to pay for rent, and with long lines waiting for government-subsidized housing (not to mention cuts in that housing), we may find ourselves without a home. I think this is a fear that lies in the back of the minds of many middle-class and lower-class people.

It’s not pleasant to think that we ourselves may become homeless. But it could happen. At the very least we could be forced to cut back drastically on things like food, utilities and housing. In fact, this is already happening in millions of homes around the country. Many people are floundering. We need to be sensitive to the needs of those who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. Because the truth is, that could someday be our plight as well. If it did happen to us, wouldn’t we want someone to care about us?

Sarah Palin’s New Clothes

In Politics on October 23, 2008 at 1:38 pm

“I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I just found out on the news last night that the Republican campaign has paid for new clothes for Palin and her family to the tune of $150,000. (Here’s an article about it.) When I heard that I couldn’t help but think of Thoreau’s famous saying above.

Sure, she looks good. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, isn’t it? And to someone like me, who spent maybe $500 on new clothes in the past two years, it’s fashion gluttony. Granted, I don’t shop at Nieman Marcus or Saks and I agree that it makes more sense to buy quality than quantity, but it appears that Palin is doing both. (Note: this tab is just for clothes; that’s not counting her hairdos and makeup.)

Supposedly, the clothes are going to be donated to charity after the election. In my opinion, that’s just to appease those who would criticize her for spending the money–especially when it’s Republican donors’ money!

And, by the way, one of her new items is a scarf with the slogan “Vote” on it and what appears to be Democratic donkeys. (They sure as heck aren’t elephants!) Oops!

Not A Christian Nation

In Politics, Religion on October 20, 2008 at 6:22 pm

I am sick and tired of hearing and reading that America is a Christian nation. It isn’t now and never has been. That is not to say that Christianity hasn’t played a part in the founding of this nation. But even back among the Puritans and Pilgrims, we fell short of God’s commandments. And we still do to this day.

The truth is that few Christians live up to the tenets of their faith. They focus on the tangential aspects instead of the main exhortations, which are to love our neighbor as ourselves and our God with all our heart. We try to be God instead of follow Him. We’re much more comfortable judging and second-guessing God as to how he sees His children. We can’t be bothered putting ourselves out there to help those in need. We act as if all one must do to be a Christian is follow the rules. (Of course we get to choose which rules to follow.)

For this to be a Christian nation, we would have to follow Jesus’s admonitions in all that we do. That means giving to the poor, sharing our wealth, keeping the peace, loving our enemies, acknowledging our myriad sins, confession and repentance and making amends. It would also mean doing as much as we can with the gifts we have been given, not piling up our treasures on earth and seeking the common good instead of focusing on ourspecial interests. How many of us truly live up to these principles?

“What Would Jesus Do?” has become a secular catch-phrase, but it is still one that we should take seriously as Christians. If Jesus wouldn’t do it, neither should we. It’s that simple.

I’m a Pessimist

In Politics on October 20, 2008 at 5:54 pm

I’m so afraid that McCain is going to win this election. My fear partly comes from the experience of the last two presidential campaigns. During those I so hoped for my candidate to win, in both my hopes were dashed. But my fear comes from a more insidious place: I am a confirmed pessimist.

I don’t believe that most people are able to vote rationally. I believe that most people are ruled by their emotions. I believe that most people are ultimately racist. I believe that most people are greedy and want to identify themselves with the upper class in this society, even if they don’t belong there according to their actual incomes. I don’t believe that the majority in this country really cares about helping those in need. And I do believe that people are much more likely to believe the worst about a person, rather than the best–much like myself.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so pessimistic about human nature: because I see its worst aspects in me. Oh, I’m open-minded when it comes to my own beliefs! I’m willing to believe the best about those whose beliefs correspond with my own, but not about those whose don’t. So that’s why I don’t expect true open-mindedness from the electorate. We basically vote not just our consciences, but according to our particular world views.

I want to believe that all people are considered equal, that this is not a nation of haves and have nots, that human beings are essentially unselfish, but I see nothing but evidence to the contrary. Prejudice runs rampant, those who have don’t want to share it with those who don’t, and people act–and vote–out of their own desires instead of the needs of others.

If McCain is elected, I will be vindicated–as a confirmed pessimist.


In Politics on October 20, 2008 at 5:12 pm

McCain’s rhetoric is overblown and exaggerated, but I fear that many people will take what he says at face value. He calls Obama’s policies “socialism,” Obama himself a terrorist’s pal, a voter registration organization with ties to Obama as the perpetrator of the the biggest fraud in voter registration history, “maybe destroying the fabric of democracy”. Unfortunately, most people are too lazy or ignorant to look up the facts. They’d rather believe that Obama is lying, another thing McCain keeps on accusing him of.

The truth is, McCain has done his share of things that could be seen as wrong, but the Obama campaign so far has been circumspect about not using similar tactics to tarnish McCain’s name. That may change in these last couple of weeks before the election. Maybe Obama should take off the kid gloves and really give it to the McCain campaign. I realize that he doesn’t want to stoop to McCain’s level, but he probably needs to fight back to some extent. As long as he refrains from exaggerating the way McCain does, I think it would be a fair exchange.

In the third presidential debate, McCain accused Obama of spending an unprecedented amount of money on negative ads. That could be because Obama has an unprecedented amount of money to spend on ads in general, due to his success in fundraising. But then McCain actually tries to make it a bad thing that Obama was able to raise all that money, even though McCain would probably kill for as much money for his own campaign.

McCain and Palin are good at negative spin, because they’re not afraid to exaggerate the claims they make against Obama, even if they step over the boundary into out-and-out lying. Mostly they just use outrageous language. They provide names for Obama and his activities that are geared to generate the most heat among their followers. And then try to disavow any responsibility for having done so. They are disingenous and unscrupulous in their use of words. And that, I think, is what really could destroy the fabric of democracy.

Hate-Mongering in the McCain Campaign

In Politics on October 13, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I was thinking today that it has been forty years since the seminal year 1968–and barely anyone is talking about it. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated in that year, acts which reverberated around the world and heightened civil rights and anti-war tensions in the U.S.  So it has been forty years since a national political figure was assassinated in this country. The reason I was thinking about this was because of the hate-mongering that has been going on in the McCain-Palin campaign for the past couple of weeks.

Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon, in her October 11th post on (see “John McCain’s Dishonorable Campaign“) cites the worries of even some McCain supporters that his campaign tactics are engendering a climate of violence. I worry about that, too. It may be extreme to think that Obama could be the target of an assassin’s bullet, but no one expected that in the ’60s either.

I think it is irresponsible as well as morally repugnant for McCain and Palin to be stirring up such sentiments. The FBI has been investigating death threats against Obama for months now.  So far the official line is that there have been no credible threats, but the mere utterance of the words: “That n*****, if he gets elected, I’ll assassinate him myself” is alarming. If we’ve learned anything from the shootings at Virginia Tech last year, and others like them, it is that we should take such threats seriously.

It’s not that McCain and Palin are advocating violence, but they are doing nothing to quell it. In fact, it seems to be a tactic that they’re using to stir up anti-Obama sentiment at their rallies. My question is, why are they spending so much energy doing so, instead of talking about what they would do for our country if they were elected. Is it because they don’t really have anything to tell us?

Pit Bull Palin

In Politics on October 5, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Sarah Palin is turning out to be the “pit bull with lipstick.” The McCain camp has turned her loose to do as much damage as she can. She was civil during the vice-presidential debate, but now that she’s out on the campaign trail she’s ready to rumble.

‘”Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain’s ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.’ (From an October 5th Associated Press analysis by Douglass K. Daniel.)

She also went on to imply that Obama is unpatriotic because he doesn’t see America the way that Republicans (although she uses the word “we” as if it’s all of “us” against Obama) do: “This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

How effective are Palin’s attacks? Among the converted, they probably just reinforce feelings they already have. But what about the undecided voters? Will Palin’s attacks push them over the boundary into McCain-land? I’m hoping that attack campaigns turn people off more than change their minds. I don’t know how much the Swift Boat campaign actually hurt Kerry, for instance, but the fact is, he lost. He was never in as good a shape as Obama, however.

The weird thing about campaigns is that the candidates mainly preach to the choir. At rallies and fund-raisers, the attendees are already on their side. Personally, I’m appalled at McCain’s choice of running mate. But some people love the heck out of her. What kills me is that people act like she has so much executive experience when she hasn’t even been a governor for two years yet! Forget the city council and mayor of a very small town, which impress me not at all. And she’s hardly an energy expert. She just knows about the issues that hit Alaska, issues that may not even apply to the rest of the States.

If I were her, I’d be uneasy about the role she has been assigned in the McCain campaign. But then she’s “Sarah Barracuda.” She’s used to being in the limelight. She probably sees her role as something she was born and bred to do.

Much like a pit bull.