Monday, January 28, 2008

A Motherhood Muse

Being the mother of two children, I have my ups and downs. (Yes, I know -- even if I weren't the mother of two children, I'd have ups and downs, but I had to start this out somehow!) The jury is still out on how well I mother my children... my idea is that I will be judged based on how much therapy my kids need to pay for later.

My son is nearing 11 years old, and is beginning to run into more and more complex problems in his life. The fifth grade soap opera is in full bloom in his classroom, he's trying to figure out how to appropriately choose friends and girlfriends, and he's occasionally coming home horrified at one thing or another that he saw someone else do in school (I'm still at a point where I'm rejoicing over the fact that he's properly horrified). He's in a period of growth in his life where he's trying to figure out if it's more fun to be a teenager or a little kid, vacillating back and forth between 'tude and childlike sweetness (complete with baby talk, which is almost more irritating than the attitude!). 

My daughter is 9 and she's mature beyond her years. Trying to draw her out into conversation isn't always easy, but it's always worth it. She has a tender heart, is generally a thoughtful person, is artistic and creative, and is a high achiever in school. She's also very sloppy in her personal space (I recently told her that she can't possibly expect me to tuck her in at night if my feet can't find her bedroom floor). 

They are both so drastically different from one another that I'm certain my parenting style can't possibly suit them both -- and perhaps doesn't suit either one of them. This has drawn out new (and old) worries in me that my therapy-based judgment will be very harsh indeed someday. What happens if I'm just not sensitive enough to their needs? What happens if they completely misunderstand something that I say or do and take that all the way with them to adulthood? What happens if I actually say or do something wrong and they take THAT with them to adulthood?

Occasionally my lack of perfection as a parent is so glaringly obvious that I want to crawl into a hole and give up. No, really. I mean it. Any hole will do, spiders and all - and I really really really hate spiders. And usually my lack of perfection as a parent is prefaced by some other lack of perfection in my everyday life... which makes it just insult piled on injury... not only am I a screw up in my own life, but now it's going to affect my kids, too! Why can't I just be great and wonderful? It's what I really want, after all... my kids to look back on their childhood and say, "Oh, gosh. Wasn't Mom just wonderful? Wouldn't it be great if all kids could have parents as great as ours?? Too bad Mom and Dad can't be EVERYBODY'S Mom and Dad!!"

And, of course, the reality is that I'm going to do the very best I can and still make a ton of mistakes so that my kids, like me, will look back at their childhood and say, "I'm never going to do that to my kids -- because that really hurt me." And I will, like my mother before me, say, "Yup. I messed that one up. Sorry 'bout that." And hopefully we will all move on with life (without expensive therapy), loving each other in spite of our mistakes. 

So for right now, with my kids still being 9 and 10, I will enjoy the hugs and kisses and the "I'm so glad you're my mommy" speeches while they last. I will try not to delude myself that they will continue indefinitely into the future. I will try to constantly maintain solid lines of communication with my kids, regardless of the problems they are facing at the moment. I will try to remember my own human imperfections when trying to help them with theirs. And I will do my darnedest to maintain a healthy marriage in order to provide them with the security so important in all growing up experiences. 

Beyond that, I'm just going to try to keep getting to know them better for who they are. 'Cuz they're pretty great people.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where's the Prozac when I need it???

Well, politics can certainly be depressing, can't it? I guess that's why so many people decide to keep out of it... Thompson is out of the race. And just when I had finally decided that he was probably the only real conservative running, too!! 

I just cannot get behind Mitt Romney. I don't think anybody should trust that guy (even if he's in their direct line of vision). Even the New York Times has commented on how Mitt Romney has changed his position from liberal to conservative on pretty much every issue since he was governor of Massachusetts. He's a "say what it takes to win" guy. Yuck.

Huckabee is a smooth debater when it comes to religious topics, but I'm not convinced he has the necessary knowledge to run the country (unless he's financially running it into the ground). He loves to appear compassionate, and it appears that he would love to spend my money very "compassionately." That coupled with the fact that he's a FORMER minister... I don't know. I just don't feel right about him. (I know, I know... it's not very rational to say that I don't feel right about somebody and that's why I don't support him - but it is what it is.) So... YUCK.

McCain is typically the one with an R after his name among a group of people with D after their names, working on some project or another. It was recently pointed out to me that McCain was in a similar situation during the S & L scandal of the late 80s. He and four Democrats were referred to as the "Keating 5" because they had profited from the scandal and had asked the chief investigator to back off the investigation. Ironically, it was after his own bad behavior that McCain decided that campaign finance reform was needed and he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people to silence their free speech ever since. Eeeewwww!! YUCK.

And that brings me to Giuliani. He's not gaining much traction -- and he's not exactly a conservative (which may be stating things far too mildly). And he also has ties to criminals in New York. The only thing that he has going for him is that he understands the terrorist threat to the United States and the rest of the world. So, generally, he's a YUCK. 

Ron Paul -- well, I find it admirable that the man is tenacious enough to still be on stage with the others in debate. He routinely gets ten percent or less of the vote in each and every state. That's not enough on which to build a candidacy (for which I find myself truly grateful). As I've stated many times before, the man is close to certifiable when it comes to foreign policy. Not exactly who I would like to see leading the free world.

What is one to do with this group? Close my eyes and point??

Then when we go to the Democrat side, we have Hillary (recently endorsed by the New York Times - what a surprise!!). Shrill and mean, she is the ultimate example of what NOT to marry for every young man in the United States of America. Of course, it could be argued that the man she married is a large part of what shaped who she is today... But regardless, she's a scary creature.

Barack Obama... bless him, he does his best to keep the campaign decent (which is not easy to do when you're battling the Clinton machine). He truly appears to want change in the rhetoric and the ability for Republicans and Democrats to work together (on his agenda, of course). He could probably pull it off to some extent, too. 

And John Edwards... my, my, my. I wouldn't want him in charge of my local beauty shop, much less in charge of the good old USA. I actually shudder when I think of him going to court and representing people... I really think that he's in this to try and get the Vice Presidency this round, because even he cannot think that he's a serious contender for the Presidential ticket. 

Oy. Given this pool of people, I'm just not sure that I'm cut out to follow politics at all!! It's really a case of "no news is good news" no matter how you look at the phrase. We've reached a point where I cannot fathom a pretty outcome to the election. Sliced every which way, the outcome is (at best) mildly scary and (at worst) the beginning of the end. And yes, I'm purposely being melodramatic here. Just for the fun of it.

I can sum up the current crop with one word: YUCK.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tolerating Tolerance For Tolerance's Sake

There's always a lot of talk about "tolerance." Liberals accuse conservatives of being "intolerant," conservatives accuse liberals of tolerating everything... and the conversation pretty much goes downhill from there.

But what is this "tolerance?" What does it mean and what are we supposed to do with it? Nobody wants to be thought of as an intolerant bigot... that's just not a fun label. And so we're supposed to sugar coat the truth about lifestyle choices, about abortion, about Islam, etc... so that we will appear to be "tolerant." 

Both liberal and conservative leaning politicos have their limits of what they will and will not tolerate, so this argument that one party is more tolerant than the other is ridiculous. We've come to the point in our political discussions where the only certainties are that liberals and conservatives don't tolerate one another. 

Seriously, though, general conservative thought does not tolerate abortion on demand, living a homosexual lifestyle (although there are some homosexuals who identify themselves as politically conservative), intrusive government, and high taxes. (And no, telling me that outlawing the killing of children based on their location at the time is "government intrusion" does not convince me that I should be pro-choice. That would be like saying that laws should be written to allow the killing of people if they're located in our home - otherwise we've got a government intruding on "freedom of association.")

So clearly, conservatives are an intolerant bunch. 

However, liberal thought will not tolerate intolerance. This gets dizzyingly funny, actually -- because their unwillingness to tolerate intolerance should make them disgusted with themselves... since they're being intolerant. 

I had a discussion at one point with someone who thought that it was wrong for me to say that homosexuality was wrong. The long and short of it was that this person thought I was being judgmental because I was judging an activity as "wrong" and, therefore, I was wrong to do so. I looked at this person and said, "Well, doesn't that make you wrong, then? If you're going to judge me as being wrong for judging something as being wrong -- aren't you condemned by your own system of beliefs?"

People have a sense of right and wrong -- it's not possible for us to tolerate everything, nor should we. It's up to us to use sound judgment (yes, we have to judge...) and discernment when making decisions as to what we will and will not tolerate. 

I find it telling that liberals will (generally) not fully embrace many of the things that they profess to tolerate. Abortion? It's a sad necessity... Homosexuality? Well, they appear to embrace the idea as long as nobody is facing the truth about the health risks and typical behaviors associated with the lifestyle. Islam? It's a peaceful religion and if we only installed more foot baths, the Muslims would love us and ask to become American citizens... (Yes, I know that the Bush administration has also called it a peaceful religion... drives me crazy.) Christianity? NO... Christians are intolerant and cannot be tolerated!!!! 

Okay - so I can tolerate homosexuals. I really can. That doesn't mean that I agree with their choice of lifestyle... but I can deal with the fact that they're there and that they choose to live that way. I can even just let them live out their lives as they see fit without trying to interfere. Islam? I can tolerate people practicing a religion that I find to be worthless, as long as they're not rabidly trying to force me to practice it with them. It's the "cut off their heads" variety I cannot tolerate. And abortion? Well, it's currently a fact of life and I can tolerate that. But I don't have to embrace it... 

One thing that I will not do, though, is tolerate tolerance for tolerance's sake. There's just no point.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Don't Call Me That!!

I believe in a woman's right to vote. I believe that women are created equal to men. I do not believe that women are the weaker sex. (Ever see a man with a cold?) I believe that if a woman is physically capable of doing a "man's job," she should be able to. But please, PLEASE... NEVER call me a feminist.

Susan B. Anthony herself wouldn't have anything to do with today's feminist movement as it appears to stand for three things:

• The right to abortion
• The view that men should be more like women
• The idea that there should be no true political discourse among women.

The idea that a woman must have the right to kill her offspring in order to be truly free is ludicrous. I just don't even know what else to say to this because it goes against all common sense. Abortion is an act of violence, not just against the baby, but against the woman as well. Adding to this the fact that many women who have abortions do so under direct pressure from the man who impregnated them should reasonably require a true "feminist" to dislike the process immensely.

Men are wired differently from women. It is this different wiring which makes men and women able to compliment one another so well. I don't want my husband to be more feminized and have, in fact, worked hard to ensure that I'm encouraging his manliness. There is just nothing remotely sexy about a wimpy, controllable man. This said, I also am perfectly willing to give my opinion about anything and everything to the man I love. I rely heavily on his love and respect for me in terms of influencing his decision-making. But, frankly, if I were able to simply make his decisions, I would lose much of the respect I hold for him. 

And lastly, Susan B. Anthony fought hard for women to attain the right to vote. I imagine that she would have envisioned women participating in public discourse, engaging in healthy debate, and thoughtfully considering their options before going to the voting booth. This happens in our society, but I don't see it among those who are self-described feminists. 

I see a lack of common sense prevalent among the feminists of today. To see a "feminist" championing Islam sounds ludicrous, considering how Islam views women. But you will see this on college campuses around the country. To see a feminist championing a "woman's right to choose" abortion, regardless of whether she's being pressured into the notion by a man is crazy. But the right to abortion appears to trump sound reasoning. To see a feminist disparage another woman on the basis of her political leanings doesn't sound very female-friendly. But you see it all the time among feminists. 

So I believe women are equal to (but not the same as) men. But DON'T call me a feminist.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dignified Living or Death With Dignity?

I had a conversation the other day about the Death with Dignity law in Oregon. This person basically said to me, "I am totally with you on valuing the life of the unborn innocents. But if somebody is sick and they have just had enough and they want to be done, what's the big deal? Sometimes dying is just a lot easier than going on living." Well, YEAH. Sometimes it is. 

Words mean things. "Dignity" means "the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect." I don't know about  you, but when I see someone like Joni Erickson Tada or Christopher Reeve, living his or her life to the fullest though paralyzed from the neck down, I see great living dignity. They are completely worthy of honor and respect. When I see somebody who struggles through pain and adversity and yet spends their last days enjoying the company of their loved ones, I see dignity. When I see somebody who struggles with depression and despair - even thoughts of death, only to ask for help and pull out of the darkness, I see dignity. When I see a person in the hospital with no visitors and no family, suffering from a debilitating disease... and they take the opportunity to use what's left of their life to be an inspiration to the nursing staff, I see dignity. 

But when a person looks at their life and says, "I'm sick. I'm tired of being sick. This life is not even fun anymore. It's painful, I'm costing my family money, and I'm worried that all I am is a burden. Please, doctor. Give me some lethal medication so that I might die," I don't see where a society should honor and respect that. Not only do I not see dignity, I see a dangerous slippery slope that could easily lead us back to Nazi Germany. 

"Oh, stop with the theatrical Nazi talk," you say. Yes, I will give you that. Invoking Nazi Germany is well overdone. But don't let me lose you here!! Please... keep reading.

First of all, we need to establish that there is a clear difference between requesting "no resuscitation" and taking a lethal dose of pills. There is also a clear difference between not resuscitating and not feeding. I am not suggesting that it is the responsibility of medical personnel and/or patients themselves to artificially extend anyone's life. I also want to be clear that feeding someone is not artificially extending a person's life any more than feeding your baby is doing the same.

What happens when a person becomes less important than the family's wishes? The case of Terri Schaivo comes to mind. Terri Schiavo was clearly not in a mental condition that would allow her to have a self sustaining life. Terri's husband wanted her to die, Terri's parents wanted her to live. Yes, it's really that simple. Going into the legal arguments of the case would make things more complicated, but we're not dealing with legalities here - we're dealing with morality and the idea of dignity. Terri's husband claimed that Terri would not have wanted to live that way, Terri's parents claimed that she would have valued life at any stage and in her then-current condition. Terri was starved to death by court order. Is there dignity in that?

I once had a widow over to my home for dinner whom I did not know very well. Over dinner, she began to talk about her experience with her late husband. Apparently, he had brain cancer which was taking away his ability to "be himself." She explained to me that her husband wasn't even acting like himself anymore... it was like he was a different person entirely, mean and abusive. So they stopped feeding him. This is how he died. I was floored - and I remember thinking at the time, "She just told me that she killed her husband." 

In Oregon's Death With Dignity law, financial considerations are a perfectly viable reason for requesting the lethal medication. How far a jump do we have to make to say that a government-run health care plan might also consider finances in making decisions on whether a patient should live or die? Does it seem like too far a jump? Why? It has been done before... and from there spawned the Holocaust. 

Perhaps our society has vilified the Nazis so much and so effectively that we have painted them in our minds as the devil himself, an evil untouchable by common humanity. Never forget that the Nazis were human beings just like us; imperfect people capable of coming down on the side of evil. To think that we are somehow better than they is an arrogance that will disable our ability to learn the most valuable lesson available from that time in history: that human beings are capable of anything.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Value of Life

In January of 2006, I read of the death of Nixzmary Brown. I remember reading of her death and then reading about her "life," and crying at my computer. It was around this time that I began, as my husband called it, "shopping for children online." ( 

Nixzmary Brown was only seven years old when she died, weighing 36 pounds. Her small body was in various stages of healing and brokenness, giving evidence of ongoing beatings. Her stepfather is currently on trial for second degree murder, her mother's trial to follow. The facts of the case, as I read them, are heinous. The treatment she received while alive was unconscionable. 

The stepfather's defense attorney, Jeffrey T. Schwartz, is using the defense of putting the victim on trial, saying that Nixzmary was a force of destruction who terrorized her younger siblings. Nixzmary's final act of rebellion (which earned for her the death sentence administered to her by her own parents) was to sneak a yogurt. (Need I remind you that she was a seven year old girl weighing 36 pounds? Undoubtedly she was hungry.) Mr. Schwartz said to the jury, "It's easy to say, 'Aw, he killed the kid and beat her because of yogurt.' Many of us don't have yogurt problems. But when you're poor and you can't afford unlimited amounts of food and you have six children, you have to make sure that everyone gets what they're entitled to get, so that you can ensure that everyone stays healthy." Never mind that beating a child until they're dead certainly isn't ensuring that "everyone stays healthy." I guess a defense attorney is just that - a defense attorney. And once he gets to court he has to say something. And how does one defend the indefensible? 

Both Nixzmary's stepfather and mother are charged with "depraved indifference" to her life. I would suggest that this charge is putting it mildly... but it has me thinking.  

The United States Supreme Court recently heard a case on the death penalty in the good state of Kentucky. The challenge was to Kentucky's method, saying that the three drug concoction they use is possibly cruel and unusual punishment because if the inmate was in pain you wouldn't be able to tell. (Included in the concoction is a drug that induces paralysis.) The New York Times editorial board wrote opinion pieces on the evils of the death penalty, boldly calling for an end to the practice altogether -- presumably feeling great compassion for the inmates on death row. 

I would like to point out that this same editorial board is equally bold in their indignation over the "Partial Birth Abortion Ban." (Which doesn't, in fact, ban late term abortions but simply specifies where the fetus must be located if it's going to be killed.) And equally bold in calling for the death of Terri Schiavo, cloaked in calling for the "sanctity and privacy of family life." Can there be a sanctity of family life without first having a sanctity of life? When you put the cart before the horse, there's no chance of steering it -- if you want to get anywhere at all, you have to just hope it's pointed downhill and close your eyes and ride.

This leads me to the point that in our culture we don't truly place a high value on life. We simply feel compassion for the lives that we consider valuable. And there is an enormous difference. Clearly the editorial board feels that the lives of inmates are very valuable - so much so that they fight (with their writings) to rid the United States of America of the death penalty once and for all. But equally clearly the editorial board does not feel that the lives of the unborn are valuable as they fight for women to retain the right to kill them at will. And the lives of the infirm are also of dubious value. (Dubious because it appears that the value of that life differs depending on circumstances.)

I place a high value on life. This includes all life - including the old, the infirm, the unborn, adults and children, all races, all creeds, all sexual orientations, all human life. It is this value for life, ironically, that leads me to support the death penalty (preferably with a few tweaks and changes to the current system). The death penalty accomplishes two important things: One, it provides a healthy deterrent to some who might otherwise premeditate a serious crime. And two, it offers society an extra measure of safety in that the person who committed the crime(s) deserving of the death penalty will not be let out to commit the crimes again. Supporting the death penalty is, in my view, erring on the side of life. When people get all wrapped up in arguing over an inmate's right to live, we often forget those who have already died because of them and those who could die again once that inmate is paroled... or has escaped. 

It is my view that the United States could easily be charged with "depraved indifference" to life. According to the Guttmacher Institute (a division of Planned Parenthood) 24% of all pregnancies are ended with abortion. In 2002, 1.29 million abortions took place - and from 1973 to 2002 more than 42 million reported legal abortions occurred. Each year, two out of every 100 women aged 15-44 have an abortion; 48% of them have had at least one previous abortion. 

In 1998, the state of Oregon's "death with dignity" law went into effect. Between 1998 and 2005, 246 Oregon patients used this law to hasten their deaths. To comply with the law, physicians are asked to complete a follow-up questionnaire after the patient's death from any cause. Each physician is asked to confirm whether the patient took the prescribed lethal medications. If the patient took the medications, the doctor is asked to report insurance status and enrollment in hospice as well as why the patient requested a prescription (including concerns about the financial impact of the illness, loss of autonomy, decreasing ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable, being a burden, loss of control of bodily functions, uncontrollable pain, and loss of dignity). 

Does any of this seem backwards to anybody besides me? Focusing on "death with dignity" rather than living out one's life with dignity? How can a person end one's own life with dignity? Isn't it much more dignified to live to the fullest possible until one cannot live any longer? Should we really choose as a society to dignify (according to the dictionary: make something seem worthy and impressive) a person's choice to end their own life because they fear being a burden on someone? Or because they fear the financial repercussions of living? Or because they cannot do all the things that they felt made their life enjoyable? Where is the dignity in thinking that way?

Should we as a society be championing any activity that we, on the other hand, hope is "safe, legal, and rare?" How does it make sense to say that anything should be an important and sacred right that should happen rarely? Rights are things that we should be able to embrace fully. If an idea or an action cannot be fully embraced, then one needs to question whether it should really be considered a right. Should any activity that makes the whole of society say, "Tsk, tsk... that's just so sad. I'm so sorry that so-and-so needed to make that choice," be considered a right? Both the right to kill and the right to "die with dignity" are ideas of this nature - and I think that people need to seriously consider them along with all their implications. 

Just as we would never look at Nixzmary Brown's parents and say, "Tsk, tsk... that's just so sad. I'm so sorry that they needed to make that choice to save the rest of their family..." I believe that we should never look at the choice of abortion, "death with dignity," or the Terri Schaivos of this country and say the same. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michigan Is In

So the Michigan ballots are in - and the results are interesting...

Romney trounced McCain 39% to 30%. This is not overly surprising since Romney's father was the governor of Michigan and Romney was raised in Michigan -- I think that gave him some leverage in the state. And, of course, there's the fact that McCain was bluntly honest with the Michigan people and said that we need to face facts: there are some jobs that have left the country that aren't coming back. Romney, acting slightly offended by this rhetoric, totally disagreed and said that he, as president, is going to fight for every job! Oy...(eyes rolling to heaven here). I see this as one more time when Romney is saying whatever he thinks the voters want to hear in order to gain the power he's looking for. (The 80's tune "Tell Me Lies" is playing over and over again in my head.)

I think that with Huckabee having won Iowa, and McCain having won New Hampshire, and Romney having won Michigan, we just need a new winner in South Carolina. I really think it would be a hoot if Thompson were able to pull off a win there and then Giuliani managed a win in Florida. Let's really shake things up and get the mainstream media scratching their heads. 

So far, I think my favorite candidate is Thompson. In looking at his record, he seems to be a true conservative, which I appreciate. Now, I'm fully willing to admit that he could be my favorite because I haven't heard him talk enough yet. I would love to see something big shake up in South Carolina in his favor so that I could hear a little more from him. 

Ron Paul finished off Michigan with 6% of the Republican vote. Less scary than 10%, but still a little weird. 

I also think it quite interesting that Hillary managed to get 55% of the Michigan vote. What's so interesting is not that she got so much of the state to vote for her, but that she got so little, considering that she was the only viable candidate on the ballot. See, Michigan moved up its primary against the wishes of the Democrat party, so the Democrats "punished" Michigan, and Obama and Edwards had their names taken off the ballot. (Off the wall question: If Michigan had done as the Democrat party wanted, should they have been rewarded by having only Edwards removed?) So people could go to the primary and vote for either Hillary or Hillary. I think that Kuchinich may have been on the ballot as well, but that's barely even worth mentioning. 40% of Michigan primary voters went so far as to go to the polls and register a vote of "uncommitted" rather than cast a vote in Hillary Clinton's favor. I would love to hear a journalist ask her about that phenomenon and see her body language immediately following the question! 

One other side note: I think it's interesting to watch how much influence the mainstream media still has over how people think. The MSM used to consistently report negatively on Iraq, and polls showed that Iraq was the number one concern of people going into the voting season. But Iraq has calmed down, negative reporting has subsided (any reporting at all has subsided, actually), and the MSM has really ramped up reporting on the "bad economy" and the "possible coming recession." Sound the alarm!! Now the people are polled and the number one issue is the economy! If it were only Michigan polls we were talking about, I would see this differently. But the polling is nation wide. 

And here's the trip. The economy hasn't drastically changed in the last month or two - just the reporting on it. I know that people are struggling. I know that the housing thing is a problem - all over the U.S. But this has been going on for a long time... 

Anyway... I'm always careful about reading the news. There's an agenda in everything -- the important thing for me is to figure out what the agenda is and try to get around it and find out what the news actually is. It's a great challenge...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Democrats, Gender and Race - Oh my!

Once again reading the New York Times, I find myself completely befuddled. I really thought that popular Democrat opinion was that Republicans were racist and sexist and Democrats were the "big tent" people. But now it appears that Democrats, when there's a contest to be won, are equally distrusting of one another. 

Yes, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are tussling with one another over race and gender issues and the politics of personal destruction. What a hoot...

So, for anyone who doesn't know recent history: Senator Obama is the product of an African father and a white American mother. And there has actually been talk in the media that while Obama has black skin, he may not be black enough to be really, truly black. The LA Times had an op-ed piece (written by a black author) in March of 2007 which suggested that Obama is a "Magic Negro," a term used to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education "who has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist." The article states that, "Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him." (Realize, please, that in order for Obama to technically be a "Magic Negro" he would actually have to be running for the office of Vice President in an effort to help a white Presidential nominee, not running for President.) 

Then, in a recent Debate, Hillary Clinton suggested that her opponents (Obama and Edwards) are a lot of talk on change but with no action. She then went on to say, "Making change is not about what you believe, it's not about a speech you make - it is about working hard... ...what we need is somebody who can deliver change. We don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered..." Hillary Clinton also made a reference to Martin Luther King's beliefs in regards to change saying, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." Well, garsh!! It was a mistake to let that one slip out... suggesting that Martin Luther King's beliefs weren't enough, and that he needed the help of Lyndon Johnson in order to effect change was probably not the best political move she could have made, though the meat of her statement may be somewhat true. After all, there is a Martin Luther King day, and not a Lyndon Johnson day for which my children get to stay home from school. 

Now the Clinton camp is accusing the Obama camp of injecting race into the contest by supposedly distorting the remarks that Clinton wishes she hadn't made. Obama, of course, is accusing Clinton of injecting race into the contest as well and it boils down to "Ya-huh!" "Nu-uh!" "Ya-huh!" "Nu-uh!" Then, the supporters of both sides feel "apprehension" according to the NYT article -- because they view this moment as "divisive for Democrats." 

Obama made a speech at a black church in Vegas in which he said, "We're on the brink or cusp of doing something important; we can make history. I  know everybody is focused on racial history. That's not what I'm talking about. We can make history by being, the first time in a very long time, a grass-roots movement of people of all colors." Oookaaaay - I need to point out here that Obama is still talking about making supposed racial history here, since he's focused on a "first time in a long time grass-roots movement of people of all colors." He's also full of HOOEY, since the conservative movement has people of all colors and is a grass-roots movement. The only difference is that the black people in the conservative movement are criticized by their Democrat counterparts as being "sell-outs" and "Uncle Toms." 

But it's not all about race... oh, no. Hillary has definitely been playing the gender card as well. Welling up with tears over the heartache of it all, saying in her speech to a black church in South Carolina, "I never thought we would see the day when an African-American and a woman were competing for the presidency of the United States." ...Well, that's true, I suppose. She's thought her whole life that she would see a woman competing for the presidency. It just threw a wrench in her plans that a black man thought to compete for it the same election cycle. And just for the record, I don't think that Hillary is racist, or that she is upset that there's a black man running for the presidency. I think she's upset that there's somebody running against her with an equally valid card in his pocket to play. In 2004, Hillary really thought that she was the next inevitable president because of the ace in her pocket. She certainly didn't expect to get to 2008 and find that another ace would appear and threaten her position as The Candidate of Historical Importance. 

And then Obama is quoted in the article as saying something so fundamentally true it bears repeating: "I think they (the Clinton campaign) have decided to run a relentlessly negative campaign, and I don't think anybody who's watching would deny that. I gather that she's determined that instead of trying to sell herself on why she would be the best president, she's trying to convince folks that I wouldn't be a good one." 

So after reading about all this, I have decided one thing. Race and gender politics are all a game. And as far as the Democrats are concerned, the game is all about winning -- so play the race and gender cards no matter whom you are running against. But mark my words, when the race and/or gender cards come out after the primaries, the Republicans will be the ones painted as racist, sexist homophobes throughout the campaign... no matter who starts the negative race/gender talk -- and probably whether talk of homosexuals enters the contest on the campaign trail or not. 

Sunday, January 13, 2008


So I was reading the New York Times today (this is another form of torture that I regularly inflict on myself). They had an article on there about the state of Michigan and the voters there. You know, what they're looking for in a candidate -- towards whom they are gravitating, etc... And I was struck by the people they chose to quote for this article. Either America is in worse shape than I thought it was, or the people in Michigan are not very bright (no, I don't think this is the case - I have relatives in Michigan... sorry guys!), or the New York Times is trying to promote a specific agenda with this particular article. (Say it isn't so!!!)

Ah, but I'm afraid so it is. Monica Davey, reporting for the NYT from Standish, Michigan, talked a lot about the people there and what dire straits they are in. The people in Michigan relied heavily on the automobile industry for their economy and a lot of people have lost their jobs there. I am not denying this as fact or stating that they are not facing some difficult times. I'm sure that there is some serious nail-biting going on in some households across that state. But the article was written as if there is nothing that the people themselves can do to make their lives better... and that the government needed to step in and help. 

And I quote, "As they looked to Tuesday's primary, nearly all of about two dozen people interviewed here in recent days said they were relieved to see the presidential candidates finally speaking of the financial issues that worried them every day. But many said they were also deeply skeptical of all the new economic promises: the sudden release of candidates' revitalization packages, talk of retraining programs, television commercials pledging help."

Well, thank goodness they're skeptical anyway! But why are they wanting these things to be done for them? The candidates came up with some revitalization package for Michigan? Presidential candidates? And they are talking about retraining programs? Heavens to Betsy... there are retraining programs all over the place already!! Community College is a program for retraining. The Tech schools are retraining programs. The workforce itself is a great program for retraining. What are these people waiting and hoping for, someone to tell them what they should be training for? 

The article talked about how people used to read the foreclosure notices in the newspaper for gossip (nice, huh?), but now that the section has "grown to several pages," they can no longer "bear to look." (I guess even gossip has its limits). 

I live in North Carolina. The area here is somewhat depressed... NC used to rely heavily on textiles, but those jobs went overseas. Mooresville, NC was very hard hit and people were wondering what to do several years ago. Well, the city planners got together and offered tax incentives for businesses to move into the area and they attracted large business headquarters, which helped the area immensely. Suddenly, there were jobs and even so many jobs that there were people moving into the area again. And then the fact that people moved into the area made more businesses look at the area as a "growing area" and more business came. The only unfortunate side effect to all of this is that the roadways have not kept up with growth and traffic is horrendous. 

We now live further out than Mooresville -- and don't have to deal with the traffic (YES!!), but I was very impressed with the "can-do" attitude of the city planners of Mooresville. 

I also met a gentleman in Statesville who used to work in textiles... and then one day he found that he didn't have a job in that industry anymore. Instead of folding up and crying, he decided to look around to see what was needed -- and he found that building in the area was flourishing and there was a shortage of tile and stone stores. So he decided to sell that instead. 

I guess the point of my rant today is that people can be creative and rise above troubles. But when we look to government to be the calm for our storm, we're bound to make things worse for ourselves instead of better. Not only can government not get it right, but we've also once again managed to convince ourselves that WE can't get it right, either. And next time, instead of rising up and using our own ingenuity to solve a problem, we're going to assume that how we got it wrong last time was just by electing the wrong person or the wrong party. Unfortunately, there is no political party who can get it right when it comes to fixing our woes. Government inevitably makes a monumental red-tape mess out of everything it touches, regardless of whether the plan was hatched by a Republican or a Democrat (No Child Left Behind, anyone?). We need to step up to the plate and be ready to take responsibility for ourselves -- no matter if we live in Michigan or North Carolina. 

Friday, January 11, 2008

January 10th Debate - South Carolina

It's really interesting to see how differently the debates are run state by state. In New Hampshire, special attention was paid to Romney and I would say that he had, by far, the most debate time. He was even, after having all that time, given "last word." In South Carolina, it wasn't so. 

A lot of the debate was the same old stuff, but there were some new elements added and these are the things that I will talk about today. 

Huckabee managed to redeem himself a bit in my opinion this debate. The religion questions are where he always shines. The moderator (there were four journalist moderators, and I don't even know all their names much less remember who asked what) talked to Huckabee about some article or ad that the Baptist convention had put into a paper (I think it was the New York Times?). It talked about wives submitting to their husbands, and the moderator was asking about these kinds of views in light of electability. Huckabee did such a great job of answering this. He started out by saying how he thought it was interesting that religion is off limits until he gets asked all the questions about religion (totally true), but then went on to say that since the moderator brought it up he would answer. He then said that anybody who knows his wife knows that there's no way that she's just going to let Mike Huckabee do whatever he wants to do, so submission is not like that. He then went on to talk about that passage in the Bible and said how it tells us to submit to one another, the wife submitting to the husband and the husband to the wife. He said that the biblical view of marriage isn't that each side gives 50%, it's that each side gives 100%, and that this particular passage is directing us how to have a successful marriage and how to truly love each other. This answer, I thought, was perfectly done - and I ended up happy that they posed the question.

I would tell you how many times in the debate that Reagan was invoked, but I don't think that I even now how to count that high. Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan, Reagan. Now, I'm a pretty big fan of the man -- but if these people can't figure out how to be conservatives for real instead of invoking the name of past success and popularity in order to get elected then I don't think I want to have anything to do with any of them. I think that they all must have licked their fingers and stuck them to the wind, finding that many people in South Carolina still admire the Reagan record or something because there wasn't this much Reagan talk in New Hampshire.

The moderators asked each candidate about the recent fiasco with Iran and the speedboats... asking them if they agreed with the pacifist-like decision made by the commanders on the boats not to take defensive action. Each candidate, in turn, stated that they trust the commanders to make decisions like this. We got the same statement from everybody that we have the finest military in the world, the best trained, etc... and that the commanders are there just to make these types of decisions... yada yada. Some of the men sounded very sincere (Fred Thompson being the one who spoke most emphatically on this, I thought), but they all said it. Until they got to Ron Paul. Ron Paul got the question and then started to rant and rave about "all this talk about going to war with Iran" and how the government is looking for any excuse. He went on like this for quite a while until the moderator said, "Congressman, what exactly are you responding to? All these other candidates said that they supported the pacifist decision made by the commanders." Mr. Paul (who, apparently has some hearing problems judging from this and past debates) said, "What? I can't hear you. You're going to need to speak up." And the moderator repeated his phrase to which Mr. Paul said, "Well, I didn't hear any of that. But..." and he went on to rant some more. His response to all this actually drew laughter from the crowd and I felt a bit sorry for the congressman until I remembered that he probably couldn't hear their laughter anyway.

Both Romney and Huckabee are trying to blame their state courts for all the negatives in their records, which annoys me quite a LOT. The moderator questioned Romney on his state's health care plan (which he touts frequently as wonderful) and the fact that the plan covers abortion services. Romney said that he has a perfect pro-life record, and that the fact that HIS health care plan that HE is taking credit for covers abortion is because the courts ordered it. Huckabee blames some of his tax hikes on the state court in Arkansas, saying that the state court ordered his administration to improve education (or something to that effect), then he turned around and tried to take credit for improving education. But which is it? Does he deserve credit for education improvement but not blame for a tax hike then? And why doesn't anybody pose to these goobers the idea that there is a separation of powers here and that the court doesn't have legislative power? Why is nobody questioning the leadership skills of the men who are willing to hand over their executive powers to a state court? I find this to be somewhat troubling about both of them. 

I got a good chuckle out of the fact that Giuliani is trying to claim that he is the mostest truest conservative available... Okay, he didn't say "mostest" or "truest." But he did try to claim that he was the most conservative. Of course, he then had to try and explain away his "sanctuary city" record... He said that New York City did report every illegal immigrant who had committed a crime, but he thought it was important that illegal immigrants felt safe to report crimes so he wouldn't allow law enforcement to report illegals who had not committed a crime. Huh? If they're illegals, haven't they all committed a crime? But perhaps Rudy is just talking about committing violent crime... 

See, I think this is important. The fact that we are all talking about illegal immigration in these terms is not good... If they're here illegally, they have already broken our laws. I know that it has been argued that their lives are so bad and they're just trying to do better for their families, etc... and that might be true. But that's like saying that the guy who is living on the street and freezing -- so he goes into a building and steals a coat isn't REALLY breaking the law. Well, he is. He's still stealing from that store - and the fact that he was really darned cold doesn't make it less of a crime. And if you want it to be less of a crime, then you have to rewrite the law. But if you rewrite the law, then you will have all kinds of people stealing coats and saying, "Yes, but I was really cold so I didn't break the law. The law says that if you're REALLY REALLY cold, it's okay to take the coat." Our attitude towards illegal immigration has had the same effect on the issue as rewriting the law would. It's not really looked at as illegal anymore. So they come in droves. 

Do I sound like I lack compassion? Hmmm... well, I suppose I could sound that way. But who is feeling compassion for the people who are living in horrendous conditions elsewhere and are waiting their turn to get here? Who is feeling compassion for the people who want so badly to live here but the government says, "No, you can't come. You don't have a corporate sponsor." I knew a family from Korea who was here for a period of three years, having been transferred here by his company. They loved it here and wanted to stay. The husband tried for over a year to find a different job who would corporately sponsor them to stay and couldn't find one. So they couldn't stay. They left last spring to go back to Korea for a year and then on to China for three more years. They didn't want to go. I have compassion for them, too - but I wouldn't conceive of telling them to just stay here illegally!

So those are the highlights of the South Carolina debate. Overall, I have a frustration with the candidates for all their "we need to..." statements. Romney is going to fix the housing crisis. McCain is going to go into the community colleges and somehow help people get better jobs. It's frustrating that the only person decrying this kind of thing is Ron Paul because he, while being right on these issues, ends up hurting that cause more than helping it with his other stances. 

Watch the debate for yourself on YouTube.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Yet Another Political Rant

OKAY!!! The New Hampshire primary results are in! The Democrats of New Hampshire decided that Hillary should be the nominee by a less than three point lead over Barack Obama. Senator McCain took it with a five and a half point lead over Romney. 

So the race across the country is wide open. Except, of course, for people like Duncan Hunter who got .51% of the vote in New Hampshire. Hunter hasn't received that much needed bump from the press - and so his voice is completely lost. Not only has he not received a bump, he's been dissed. He was not invited to participate in the debates in New Hampshire, which may seem like a crying shame -- but at the same time, even when he's there he is not afforded the opportunity to answer many questions so one has to question what the point is in inviting him in the first place.

(Full disclosure: Hillary Rodham Clinton cannot possibly do anything at this point that I would consider sincere.) Hillary's crying moment appeared to pay off. Good for her. I suppose it's nice for her Democrat following to know that her eyes do, in fact, leak fluid. It's also good to know that she can go on a public crying jag and then pull that gender card out of her pocket when somebody calls her on her theatrics. Maureen Dowd (with whom I have extreme disagreement on almost every other subject) wrote a beautiful opinion piece that was published in the New York Times. She, too, is very cynical about Hillary's sincerity. And who wouldn't be? I have half a belief that even those who follow her faithfully know that she's insincere... they just happen to admire it about her because they view it as a good way to get things done.

The Clintons both are interesting people to watch when they think they're losing. They seriously start to lose it -- and it's kind of entertaining. Bill Clinton, in particular, went on a rant against Obama and against the press when Hillary was down in the polls. He actually flipped his lid at a questioner during a "support Hillary" rally in NH.

I'm interested in knowing if Richardson is going to go on after this. He managed to achieve a whopping 4% of the vote in NH -- I'm wondering if he has aspirations to be the Vice President. I have to laugh even at that after watching him speak. I can't imagine any of the current front runners choosing him or his style. 

I know that I've not really mentioned Edwards in all this. The reason for that is twofold, really. One, I have difficulty in thinking about him without feeling like I need a hot shower with LOTS of soap. And two, I really think he's pretty inconsequential (except maybe in terms of being chosen for Vice President in the case of an Obama win). 

The Democrat race seems to be closing up more than the Republican one... I'm grateful that the Republican field is still so wide open. I think that it's a good and healthy thing for more of the country to have a voice in the primary election process. It's wonderful that the candidates are given more time to say things and contradict themselves. It's imperative that people get to see their true colors before they are up against a Democrat and it all comes crashing down. 

It's difficult for me, too, to deal with the fact that Ron Paul has a consistent 10%. The fact that 10% of the people who care enough to vote in the primaries would support his ideas on foreign policy frightens me not a little, but a lot. Are the people supporting him all eighteen years old? I just don't get it.

And these are my political thoughts for today. I'm all out. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And I Sat Through the Democrat Debate, Too

Yes, I'm truly a glutton for punishment. Not only did I sit through the entire Republican debate, I decided that wasn't penance enough. I needed to know what the Democrats were saying, too. 

I have to say, I think it's a bit of a chuckle that Richardson is still in it. Does he have a following? Bill Richardson came in fourth place in Iowa... but with 2% of the vote. I suppose that if I look back not too far, some of our former Presidents did about as well. Bill Clinton comes to mind... maybe Richardson's hoping for something like that?

The debate format was good - it was interesting. And the moderator managed to ask some pointed questions about important topics. He opened up the debate by asking about nuclear terrorism, which was a whopper of a start. He said that Osama bin Laden thinks it his religious duty to get nuclear weapons and wanted to know how the candidates will deal with the issue.

Barack Obama stands by a previous statement that we should go into Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda if we have "actionable intelligence" whether Pakistan agrees or not. The moderator asked him if that wasn't then agreeing with the Bush doctrine of preemption, but Obama says no. Barack Obama said that we need to be working on pushing through a nuclear proliferation treaty as well -- and that we need to find all the floating nukes out there.

Edwards said that if he knew where Osama bin Laden was, he would get him. Period. Of course, he said, "Git 'im. Period," all while blinking very rapidly. But it's all the same thing. Edwards said that what we're doing now we should be doing for the short term. But we shouldn't be doing it for the long term because it doesn't work for the long term. He then went on to say that what we need to do for the long term is eliminate nuclear weapons from the world. Yes, this is really his big idea for the long term. Of course, nobody brought up the fact that if we rid the WORLD of nuclear weapons, this also means we get rid of ours. And then the BAD GUYS can always make some more. This is like telling the American people they need to give up their guns for their own safety... meanwhile, the criminals are all armed and the law abiding citizens are more defenseless than ever. Which, I guess, is another Democrat position. But I digress...

Bill Richardson answered the same question by saying that he would use... (drum roll here) DIPLOMACY. He says that the last thing we need in the Muslim world is another action like Iraq which is going to "inflame" the Muslim world. He says that a president must have a foreign policy with "principles" and "realism." I don't know about you, but I think that everybody has "principles." The question is whether one operates off of good, healthy principles or bad, destructive ones. Unfortunately, Mr. Richardson pretty much leaves us in the dark as to his. Except for his "principle" firm belief in his own diplomatic skills. He moves on a bit to say that with Musharraf, we have the worst of all worlds - and then describes what a bad, bad leader Musharraf is. (I don't have disagreement with the fact that Musharraf is not a nice guy, by the way.) But Richardson's solution? "What I would specifically do as President is I would ask Musharraf to step aside." Oh... I'm sorry. I should have called for a drum roll right before that bright idea. While we're at it, we should ask Putin to step aside as well because he's been kind of naughty, too. :-) In all reality, I have a terribly difficult time taking Richardson seriously. Does it show? Really, if I have to hear ONE MORE TIME how he went head to head with the Koreans and got back the remains of our soldiers, I just might lose whatever meal I most recently ate. 

Clinton agreed that nuclear terrorism is the most direct threat to the United States. She then goes on to say that they took action on this about ten years ago, sending missiles in to try to target bin Laden and his cronies at a meeting where "actionable intelligence" suggested he might be. She says they were not taken out at the time (duh). And then she goes on to say that we have to be very conscious of the consequences. She also claims that bin Laden has regrouped and Al Qaeda is functioning because we did not commit enough troops to aggressively go after him in Afghanistan when we had a chance. She then calls for more NATO troops. She said, too, that she would work very hard to get Musharraf to share the security of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the US and Great Britain. She also called Afghanistan the "forgotten front line in the war against terrorism... because the Bush administration has walked away." The problem with this statement is that I was just watching a briefing with a general from Afghanistan on C-Span this afternoon. I didn't see much, but from what I saw, they are claiming that things there are going well.  But Al Qaeda has moved into Pakistan, and the Pakistani government will not allow the United States to go in. If the Pakistani government won't even allow our troops to cross their border, how likely is Hillary Clinton or Bill Richardson to get Musharraf to go along with their plans? Richardson thinks he can just politely ask Musharraf to "step aside." Arrogance, anyone? Hillary thinks that she can get Musharraf to go along with having the United States and Great Britain keep watch over their nukes. Really??

On to domestic policy!! Social Security, health care... 

Basically, there was agreement all around that the Bush tax cuts for the "wealthiest Americans" needed to go. 

And there was a lot of talk about "change." Argument about who knows more about change than another person -- who just talks about it, and who can actually implement change. There was a very fun exchange between Edwards and Hillary about change. Edwards accused Hillary of attacking the people calling for change because she's the status quo... and she wasn't very happy about that accusation at all. 

Regarding health care, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards both think that the government needs to mandate health care for all Americans. Obama believes that the government needs to require that children be covered, but that adults should be able to choose for themselves. Of course, he says that he believes that people will choose health care and that's why he doesn't need a mandate in his plan. So by this, one could reasonably assume that Obama thinks that adults will choose health care for themselves because it's the smart thing to do -- but that they won't get health care for their children unless the government forces them to. What kind of people does he think we are? The complete absence of "liberty" and "freedom" as concepts in this debate staggers me.

I guess that would be one of the main reasons why I don't vote for Democrats as a rule. I don't find that they stand for freedom and liberty. 

I wish I could say differently for the Republican party, but I'm wondering about them, too. I've yet to see the results of the N.H. primary... 

Well, that's all for tonight. More later.

Monday, January 7, 2008

January 5th was another debate - for both Republicans and Democrats. This time, in New Hampshire.  My analysis follows:

Huckabee, for the most part, did not do well. He was criticized for his comment contained in an article that the Bush administration has an "arrogant bunker mentality" foreign policy, and he failed to explain himself in a way that was satisfying. In the article, he spends the first two paragraphs criticizing the Bush administration, but in the rest of the article he basically goes on to say that his foreign policy will be similar except in regards to communication. At least, that's what I got from it. In January 5th's debate, he tried to spin it - and not very successfully - to say that his criticism was aimed mainly at Rumsfeld for not sending in enough troops to get the job done right in Iraq the first time. This drew sharp criticism from his opponents (and rightfully so, it just sounded dumb). He also jumped on the opportunity to decry America's "health care crisis" as a "health crisis" again. Saying that our health care system is really a disease care system is not going to sound like an answer or a plan to what many Americans consider to be an enormous problem. How do you fix the fact that Americans don't take proper care of themselves? It's not government's job to fix that.

Romney received some much deserved criticism for his flip flopping and pandering - for his ever changing views and his refusal to answer questions. The criticism came from both McCain and from Thompson. I must confess I enjoyed this aspect of the debate very much as I can't stand Romney for these very reasons. Romney claimed himself to be an agent of change and McCain jumped in and said (paraphrased), "You and I don't agree on much, but we can agree on that. You're definitely the candidate for change!" And Thompson quoted Romney on something and Romney defended himself by saying that Thompson got that quote from AP and Romney was misquoted in the AP. Thompson said (paraphrased), "Well, when you change your position every week I guess you're bound to be misquoted from time to time." 

Romney also expressed great pride (again) in his accomplishments in solving the "health care crisis" in Massachusetts. It's important here to remember that his method of "solving" the so-called "health care crisis" was to mandate that everybody in the state had to have health insurance. People below a certain income level had insurance provided to them by the state, and people above a certain income level (three times poverty level in the state, whatever that is) were required to get insurance through their employer or purchase it on their own. If they choose not to obtain insurance, they face fines and penalties. Thompson asked Romney what penalties people face if they don't obtain insurance and Romney dodged. Thompson persisted and Romney, with an irritated air, said that he would answer the question - but then distracted and dodged again. He never answered. Romney said that he, as president, would not mandate health insurance at the national level, but he would withhold certain federal funds from states that wouldn't implement a plan to insure everyone in the state. 

Romney spoke with conviction and passion on many issues, interrupting anybody and everybody to get his two cents in. The problems I have with Romney are twofold. One, his conviction and passion can be seen on display at other times, in other elections, on the opposite side of almost every issue. And two, he's a liberal who claims to be a conservative and thinks that if he just says enough times that he's conservative I'm going to believe him. 

Ron Paul... ah, where to begin? I saw Ron Paul on the Glenn Beck show and he spoke clearly and concisely about his thoughts and beliefs. I ended up thinking that I didn't want him as a president, but that the people of Texas are probably well served by having him in Congress. But in a debate setting, Paul appears much less reasonable, clear, and concise. He comes off as whiny more often than not, and has trouble answering any question without flipping his lid about Iraq or the value of the dollar, sometimes including both complaints in one answer. He, I believe, very sincerely wants the U.S. to strictly adhere to the Constitution, but he seems to forget that the Constitution does give the federal government the authority to provide for the defense of the country. Paul's position is that the United States is attacked by the terrorists because we "occupy" their countries and we need to pull out of the middle east entirely (including embassies, because this is "occupation" according to Ron Paul). Thus, in every debate, he ends up sounding coherent only every other sentence and ends up looking to me like a certifiable whack job.

McCain -- I must confess I have trouble articulating what McCain's stances appear to be since he puts me to sleep every time he speaks. He claims to be an authority on immigration policy because he comes from a border state. He promotes amnesty, but says it's not amnesty if there's a fine. He talks about people paying a fine and going to the back of the line for citizenship, but he also talks about allowing them to stay in the country while they're waiting "in the back of the line." From what I could tell (while I was able to keep from snoozing), it's a lot of talk about nothing. McCain also claims to be an authority on foreign policy -- this due both to his tenure in the Senate and to the fact that he is a war vet. McCain stands behind the Bush doctrine of preemptive action 100% and did not waffle from this under direct questioning. He appears to be pretty unapologetic about it. 

Giuliani criticized Paul's lack of understanding about the nature of the threat of radical Islam. He was careful to articulate that Islam is a wonderful religion (as they all are careful to do), but he was very vocal (as was Romney, actually) about the fact that the terrorists' attack on us had nothing to do with us being in the Middle East and has everything to do with them hating us because of what we are (or are not, as the case may be). Paul argued that they are attacking us and not Canada and gave that as evidence for his view that it's all because we're over there. Giuliani did a good job in citing the fact that there were attacks in Bali, London, and Spain as well as attacks on Muslims in ME countries. On the threat of terrorism, Giuliani seems to have a fairly good grasp. Unfortunately, he's not running on much more than that. 

Thompson got some decent air time in the debate. He talked about letting the market do its work with health care. He said, "We've got the best health care in the world. It costs more than it should. We can go either one of two ways. We can let the government take it over and it will lower costs... we will also sacrifice care, which nobody wants to do and we're not going to do in this country. Or we can make the markets work more efficiently." He then went on to describe, loosely, how to accomplish this. Thompson also was very clear on the issue of mandated health insurance. "Let's be honest with the people. If you lower costs, more people who want insurance will be able to afford it. But we're probably never going to achieve total coverage. A good number of the people who are uninsured can afford it and choose not to do so." At this point, the moderator interrupted and talked to Romney again and said something about mandates -- then saying that he knew Romney backed away from mandates on the national level. Romney said, "Oh, no. I like mandates." Thompson interrupted with, "I beg your pardon? I didn't think you were going to admit that! You like mandates!" Romney said, "Let me tell you what kind of mandates I like, Fred." Thompson rejoined with, "The ones you come up with."

Thompson also was gutsy enough to take on the issue of Social Security. He stated that some changes need to be made in what we are promising to people because the government cannot sustain the promises currently made. He was clear that he would not lower the benefits of those currently receiving and relying on their Social Security, but he would change what the government is promising to the people in my generation. 

The only people I can see who are not trying (yet) to get away with a lot of political doublespeak are Ron Paul and Fred Thompson. Ron Paul is fighting on principle and I don't expect to see him try to talk his way out of his own views. If all I were looking for was someone who would stand on principle, he would be my guy. Unfortunately, the principles he's standing on (at least some of them) are insane and so I cannot support him. Thompson, too, appears to be standing on principle. So far, I think that he needs to keep standing and talk louder. Then we'll see where we're at.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A political rant

Well, the Iowa caucus has come and gone... the moment we've all been waiting for has arrived and we know who came out on top. I always look at an election year as a sport -- it's kind of like the Iowa caucus is the kickoff to the season, ending up with a big Super Bowl in November. Election years are exciting at my house... 

In football, being the girl that I am, I used to hope for a win for the team with the best looking uniform in each game. This was, I suppose, mostly because I didn't understand the game of football at the time and spent half the game sleeping on my husband's lap. I now better understand the game of football and throughout the seasons will look for the personality I can find in each team to decide whom I like and dislike (still a chick way of doing things, I know). 

But back to politics -- I am no longer judging candidates based on what they say in their sound bite moments. I am interested in delving deeper and looking for the personality and sincerity of each candidate. Some I didn't really even bother with because they don't have a snowball's chance of getting anywhere, but for the most part I tried to research each candidate so that I could have an idea of whether or not their sound bite comments were at all sincere.

All that said, I'm very happy to see that Huckabee trounced Romney in Iowa. I have faith again in the American people's ability to see through slime. Granted, Romney came in second --- but he spent millions of dollars in negative ad campaigning in Iowa, which usually translates into a win. Fred Thompson coming in third is interesting, too. I'm looking forward to the game next Tuesday to see what happens there. 

I'm also glad to see that Hillary was (barely) put into third place in Iowa. This shows me that Democrats, too, are looking for something other than the usual sludge this year. This thrills me to the core! I really don't have a whole lot of admiration for any of the Democrat candidates for various reasons, but the fact that Obama took Iowa (putting Edwards in second and Clinton in third) is the only way that the Democrats could possibly restore my willingness to believe that they're not just nuts. I really love that Hillary Clinton came in just BEHIND the ambulance chaser (29.8 percent to 29.4 percent).

So obviously I vote Republican as a general rule, and my following the activities of the Democrats is more for entertainment purposes than anything else. My general view of politics and government is that the government has gotten so big it's out of control, and politics have gotten so small they're out of control. I don't think that it's even possible to fix the big government problem. There are too many people in the United States who are used to voting themselves some more "stuff" to make that happen. But I do think that the political atmosphere could be improved, and I think that a win for Obama and Huckabee has a delicious aroma.

Why do I vote Republican? Well, I'm a social conservative for one thing. I am anti-abortion (not anti-choice, thank you very much). I also don't consider myself "pro-life" because I am for the government imposing the death penalty for the most grievous offenses. I believe that homosexuals are people too, and they deserve respect and love just like any other people in the world. But I don't think that they need to be redefining the institution of marriage and/or getting any other special kind of treatment. I believe that people are born with different abilities and gifts, and that it is our responsibility to use those abilities and gifts wisely, thereby bettering our own lives. I don't think that any skin color delivers better abilities and gifts than any other. I strongly oppose gun control, and I think that if people cannot learn to control their own behavior the killing will continue with or without guns. Blaming someone's evil intentions on an inanimate object is just stupid. I believe in good vs. evil in the world. I cannot understand how anybody can possibly argue otherwise if they read any news at all. 

I also vote Republican because I don't want to be taxed to death. Now, this is a gray area because lately I am thinking that the Republicans want an entitlement mentality throughout the US just as much as the Democrats, but the Republicans appear to want to spend, spend, spend without taxing -- and the Democrats want to tax and spend. Neither works for me. But rather than throw away my vote on an independent candidate who thinks fiscally like I think, I figure it's better to try and reform Republican thinking back to what it used to be. 

I also vote Republican because I think that our national defense is important. I have the utmost respect for our military members and feel very grateful to them for the great sacrifices they make on behalf of me and my family and our country. Some pay the ultimate price, and that is a great sacrifice indeed. But ALL pay the price of being apart from those they love in order to be in a place they don't love -- all for the sake of the people and land they love -- and even for the sake of the people they don't know and who don't appreciate their sacrifice at all. Our military is incredible. I do not see a respect for our military on the Democrat side of the aisle (except in the case of Joe Lieberman). I will grant that it's possible there is a larger measure of respect for the military than I see, but if that's the case the respectful members of the Democrat party are not very outspoken. Oh - and saying, "I do TOO respect the military!! I respect them enough to bring them home!!" doesn't count. 

Okay. So I can get behind Mike Huckabee (even though he's a former Baptist minister, ha ha). And I can get behind Fred Thompson. I would vote for McCain in a pinch, but I sincerely hope I won't have to. And I won't vote for Mitt Romney at all. I think he's a slimebag who will say whatever it takes to get what he wants. My lack of willingness to vote for him has NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with his religion. Give me a conservative Mormon with some integrity and I'll get behind him 100%. I'd rather see a Democrat in the White House than Romney. At least the Republicans in the House and Senate will fight a Democrat. They won't fight a Romney. 

So... looking forward to Tuesday!! Can't wait to see what happens next!! And all the garbage that's spouted in the meantime should be interesting, too. :-) Listen for the Clinton spin on Iowa. Should be good...