Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shortly: The Debate

First, true confessions. I didn't actually see the debate. I was busy with a birthday party and a concert. I saw parts of it, read parts of it, watched and listened to quite a bit of analysis of it. But I didn't see it start to finish. Which I really don't think should keep me from expressing an opinion about it.

After all, thousands of people call talk radio every day to discuss topics that they have no personal knowledge of. They complain about the derelict morality in a movie they haven't seen, disrespect religions about which they know nothing, and pontificate about the economy when their home budget is non-existent, a sieve through which their money pours into credit card payments.

So I see no reason why I can't join the multitudes and express myself on a topic of which I really don't have enough information to comment reliably.

McCain lost the part where he couldn't pronounce "
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." The President ought to be able to pronounce the name of the Iranian president.

McCain lost the part where he said, "I know the veterans. I know them well. And I know that they know that I'll take care of them. And I've been proud of their support and their recognition of my service to the veterans. And I love them. And I'll take care of them. And they know that I'll take care of them." Numerous pundits have pointed out the obvious here: Republicans in general and McCain in particular has been anything but friendly toward our veterans, continuously taking away vet healthcare funding.

Obama won the part where he stayed calm, focused and presidential. McCain lost the part where he made flip comments. Obama won the part where he actually attempted to look his opponent in the eye. McCain lost the part where he acted like a jerk and refused to look at or address Obama.

No, McCain didn't blow the campaign in one swell foop. But he did himself no favors last night.

Off to visit with a friend and eat apples. :-)


Friday, September 26, 2008

Helping the wealthy

Barrington High School got itself a lovely, state-of-the-art stadium, complete with $143,000 giant video display. How does this annoy me? Let me count the ways.

Screens. Everywhere we go, there are screens screaming at us, begging us to watch them. They must play siren songs or something as they irresistibly draw our eyes to them, away from our meal companions, away from the reality in front of us.

Yes, I admit it. I strictly limited screen time when my children were young. There is something about the gaping-mouthed, slack-jawed look of children parked in front of the tube that I find intensely annoying. I think it's the continuous out of body experience children who simply view the world have. I want my children to actively participate in and experience the world, not simply watch it go by, spectating life away. I want the same for myself. Stop distracting us from living, already!

Then there's the jumbotron cost of such pricey items. Barrington's big screen was apparently paid for by booster fundraising--none of your tax dollars are at work there. Yet it still feels obscene to me, knowing that schools 25 miles to the east are operating with 3 textbooks per classroom yet we (the middle class to the rich) feel so entitled to the best that we pass up the opportunity to purchase textbooks for those who need them to give our already satiated children too much.

Me? I'd like to ban boosterism. It allows non-educators to set standards for educational settings. Alternatively, I'd restructure the tax system so that each district receives exactly the same amount of education funding across the board. The children in Illinois would all have textbooks, though they might be a year or two out of date. Then, when the wealthier districts among us try to raise money privately to purchase the newest textbooks--or a big stadium--they'd have to tithe to a windfall fund that is meted out to all those districts unfortunate enough to have no booster/private funding.

Speaking of windfalls, I am so not on the bailout bandwagon. Clueless on such things, I am. But I know enough to pay attention to those wiser than me. And when 150 economists sign a petition opposing the plan, that gives me pause. (
There's a nice summary here of insightful thoughts regarding the bailout.)

Bush rushed us into a war. We should not rush into yet another expensive quagmire. And we should not condone throwing money at the rich. If we have money to give away, let's triple the amount the UN poverty summit has committed to helping the poor. Don't give more to those who have the most.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh shush

Look. I know I'm supposed to be writing. I like writing. It brings me great joy. It is a flow activity that makes me forget to eat, on occasion. But it's blog or exercise in my life right now. And, generally speaking, I'm choosing exercise.

But not today. Today, at 8:01am, I officially topped off with righteous indignation at conservatives who've suddenly embraced feminism, the absolute right to privacy in the issue of choice, and the Palin-McCain Lying, Manipulating Campaign.

There is little point in assessing Palin as a VP candidate at this point. It's all been said by pundits far savvier than I. And, while it would be easy fun to point out why she is woefully qualified, how much real fun can it be to shoot fish in a barrel? And, right now, nitpicking over every stupid thing Palin says feels counter productive, akin to having the same argument in a marriage over and over where you immediately tune out your partner because you've heard this one before.

Not that we ever do that, dear. :-) And not that I might not choose to nitpick in the future. But not today.

Palin, for better or worse,
is the partner of McCain's choosing. It is a choice that says volumes about what he believes are his substantive weaknesses that would be addressed by adding Palin to the ticket. It is a choice which leads us back to the more salient issue: John McCain.

John McCain is where the buck stops. He's the one who made this ridiculous choice. He's the source of the lies and manipulations. He's the one in charge. The one that wants to be in charge. The one we really ought to be focusing our righteous indignation on.

Let's call the Republicans and their chosen leaders out on the issues, even the issues of their own making and choosing. Look at their twisted take on elitism: education makes one incapable of understanding "real people", but money creates no such veil. The average Joe is more able to connect with a politician who has 12 cars and 7 houses than one who has a few degrees and one mortgage?

Or, horrors, let's look at substantive issues at stake in the campaign. The war. The economy. The potential replacements on the Supreme Court. Let's take the time to dissect the views, the records, and the stands Obama and McCain have taken on these issues, determine what they believe, then determine what WE believe and vote based on that.

Digressing to Palin for a minute to make this point. I am the mother of a special needs child. Republicans want me to feel understood by Palin, to feel a symbiotic connection with her because we are both mothers of special needs children. I am supposed to instinctively trust that another mother will do right by these children.

Um. Not so much. Republicans have a nasty record of not supporting legislation that funds programming, education or health care for this vulnerable group of citizens. Why in the world would I trust Sarah Palin or John McCain to help me secure my son's future because of some touchy-feely notion that "we mothers understand each other"?

Yes, we all have feelings. Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . . But I'm not voting based on my feelings. And I hope you don't, either. I hope your vote will not be swayed either by pretty words or pretty pictures. Determine which candidate's substantive positions and records most closely mirror your own opinions and values. And vote accordingly.

Rustily yours,