The Beginning of Hope or the End of It

31 10 2008

“Right now, in America, we are living in the center of a potential paradigm shift. A definite, burgeoning movement. A time of Hope. With the upcoming elections, we could redefine America’s standing in the world by enacting foreign policy that is based on the universal understanding that we are all interconnected. That the rape of an eight-year-old-girl in Congo is akin to the rape of an eight-year-old girl in Chicago or Phoenix. We use the words and slogans “Never again” and “Not on our watch”, but right now thousands are being displaced, raped, murdered in Eastern DRC.”

There are policies that Barack Obama and I do not see eye to eye on. I have serious reservations about a few of his decisions, and I continue to hold a political torch for Hillary Clinton.

However.

I believe that Barack Obama will do more for the people of Congo than John McCain will.

I believe that Barack Obama will do more for women’s rights in the U.S. than John McCain will.

I believe that an administration under Barack Obama will listen to issues of the poorest American people more than under John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will show more diplomacy, both at home and abroad, than John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will support scientific research more than John McCain.

I believe that Barack Obama will inspire other leaders better than John McCain.

For all these reasons, I believe that Barack Obama will make a better U.S. president than John McCain.

I will be stepping into the gym of my local high school this Tuesday at 6 am, where I will state my name, show some ID, and make a few choices that will change the course of history for my country and the world. The biggest assholes in the history of America will be the people who, on Wednesday, wake up and realize that they were registered to vote and just didn’t.

 
Read the Article by Eve Ensler at HuffingtonPost

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Re-Affirmative Action

26 09 2008

“No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

In an article in The National Review, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has called on Sarah Palin to give up her seat at the political table and to drop out of the race. It cites her flawed interviews, panic-driven press moments (what few there have been) and her lack of experience in economic matters, which have become rather important recently, if you hadn’t heard – what with the biggest bank failure in American history this week:

“Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.”

No sh*t, Sherlock. Congratulations – you’ve just caught up to where the rest of us were a month ago. It only took one Wikipedia article to convey her major strengths and weaknesses, but you just had to rally around the skirt. Did you rally around Palin? No. You rallied around her skirt. Well, for better or worse, she’s your man, so don’t get a jelly belly now. There are plenty of arguments to make for the McCain-Palin ticket. Here’s one: It is monumental that a woman would be in the position to serve in the office of the highest executive – no BS, that’s a really big deal even if it IS only symbolic. Symbols are what inspire the rest of us when we’re just getting to the age of reason. No six, seven, or eight year old will remember the specifics of the McCain-Palin administration. What they will remember is that the vice president was a woman. That she exists in that capacity will prove not that a woman can be a president, but that there is no reason why a woman can’t be a president – a far greater lesson.

Those of us who have already reached the age of reason, however, have facts to contend with. Palin’s views are enough to disqualify her from my short list of feminist leaders, but those views aren’t why some people are calling for her to step down:

“Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.”

What’s worse is that the recommended course of action is fueled by the old “take one for the team” mentality. This is always a convenient line of logic for sexists looking to get rid of a girl on the team. In doing so it totally undermines those qualities for which Palin has be lauded ever since stepping into the national spotlight. Mainly, her toughness and committment to her career:

“Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

Oh really?

Tell that to every anti-feminist who has ever criticised women in general because they reportedly lack the capacity to have a family AND a career.

Tell that to every mother who encourages her child to miss school or blow off schoolwork in order to focus on learning a trade because their school districts aren’t worth a damn thing.

Tell that to any mother who is also a stripper, or any other socially queer occupation, in order to make ends meet.

Tell that to any mother who has chosen adoption for her child, not because it was in the best interest of the mother, but because it was in the best interest of the child.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers who leave their children in early-bird and after-school programs so their kids don’t have to be latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers with latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those employers who reprimand and fire working moms for their lack of punctuality instead of giving them flexible schedules.

Tell that to the critics of mothers who go back to school in order to get a job that pays a salary that could help her child go to college someday, and in the process has little energy to spend with her young child every night.

Tell that to the moms who leave toxic, low paying work environments in order to preserve their self-respect, which her children pick up on, only to be without a job and broke for weeks or months on end.

Tell that to the moms who stay at toxic, low paying work environments in order to gather a paycheck that makes ends meet.

Tell that to the pregnant woman who cannot afford to go to the doctor, but does anyway to ensure her baby’s health, and consequently runs up debt which the state later pays off for her.

Tell that to the mother who cannot afford to go to the doctor for cancer screenings, thereby putting her family in danger of being without a mother.

The fact is, many people criticize mothers who put family first. It is a constant battle to defend one’s choices against one’s critics. The fact remains, they are our choices to make and we do the best we can with the resources available to us.

Sarah Palin has every right to run in this race. We cannot blame her for being elected, because she could not do it without our votes. Anyone can run, not just anyone can win. If you’re really furious at her presence on the ticket, don’t vote for her ticket. It’s as simple as that.

Sarah Palin shouldn’t drop out of the race any more than John McCain should. She is totally wrong for this country’s leadership, but she has every right to run as the Vice Presidential candidate. Sarah Palin may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but she isn’t stupid. She is one of 50 people in the entire United States who was elected to run an entire state. Stupid people are not elected to high executive offices. Sheepish people who do exactly as their told by their backers are elected to high executive offices, but they need a few functioning brain cells. She was elected to city councilwoman, then mayor, and then governor. This woman knows how to schmooze, throw fundraisers, and make promises she’ll never keep.

I’m not saying that she’s done her jobs well, or that she should have been picked as John McCain’s runningmate, but saying she should drop out of the race for the country’s sake because her half of the ticket isn’t polling well is almost as sexist as her getting the on the ticket in the first place. She’s a politician – she has bad days; bad hair days, bad gaffe days, bad speech days, bad interview days, etc. She may be as bad as George W. Bush – or worse. The mistake we made with him, however, was laughing and cringing at his idiotic remarks during his first term in office, dismissing him as stupid. He served two full terms, led our country into two wars without blinking, and took an economy from surplus to debt. In fact, we had so much surplus that what to do with it was a major portion of the presidential debates in 2000:

Interviewer: “Let’s suppose that the projected surpluses in your tax plan fail to materialize in full or in part. What part of your tax package gets dropped first?”

Bush: “I refuse to accept the premise that surpluses are going to decline if I’m the president. I think they’re going to increase, because my plan will increase productivity by cutting marginal rates.”

The signs were there when Bush-Cheney ran in 2000. The signs are there for McCain-Palin in 2008. Asking her to step down because of news media hiccups, even if she is as dumb as she seems, is ridiculous. It’s like if an all male construction crew was forced to hire a champion female bodybuilder with no construction experience, and then a month later fired her because she had no training.

Our country needs an architect, not another construction crew.





Palin Protest Power, part 2

15 09 2008

Part of what I like about this election year is that the issues we face as a country and the candidates we’ve chosen to lead us are generating a lot of enthusiasm. As someone who grew up during a time when grunge was all the rage we could muster for a world resembling a heart shaped box, the outpouring of political support I’ve witnessed this year is not just remarkable, it’s revolutionary. Anyone paying attention over the last eighteen months expected that so much enthusiasm would create a tumultous political environment. What we did not expect was the huge democratic swell of support, not just for the national election but for local events as well. Opportunities to voice our concerns are important because they allow for a constructive, lawful way to speak truth to power. It’s the difference between a rally and a riot. This weekend’s rally in Anchorage, Alaska was the latest installment in a series of concientious individuals hellbent on being heard about how they want their country to be led for the next four years.

“When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep!”

All this isn’t just about Sarah Palin, conservative pitbull. Reports that Palin was involved in attempted book-banning while a councilwoman, prior to being mayor of Wasilla, has created quite a stir in the library community. And if there’s one thing you don’t want to do it’s piss off the librarians. Add to this that book-banning is just about the most grievous offense possible in the mind of a librarian, and McCain has a bit of a problem. He picked a runningmate who has pissed of librarians across the country, but especially in his vice president’s home state. These are people who are skilled in the arts of research, fact finding, organizing, and sharing information. These are people who work for lower wages at local libraries because they are so passionate about maintaining a path for an educated public. These are people who have endured budget cuts and reduced staffing for years under the failed policies of the Bush adminstration. These are people who, as a group, overwhelmingly vote for Democrats – and now you’ve pissed them off.

It doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin didn’t successfully ban the book, My Daddy’s Roommate, from local library shelves. It doesn’t matter how many books she tried to ban. It doesn’t matter whether or not there was an anti-gay theme for the books she tried to ban. It doesn’t doesn’t matter how direct Sarah Palin was about whether or not to ban any books. The future vice president, and likely the future president soon after, should not be anywhere near a book-banning scandal. Especially not someone who was a Journalism major with a Policial Science minor. It’s just not one of those issues that leaves much to the imagination – there’s no “other side” to banning books. Librarians use judgement and discretion when purchasing and cataloging items for their library. You will not find The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex in the Children’s Room or Young Adult section at your local library. However, you may find it in the non-fiction section. It probably is just a few aisles down from The Vindication of the Rights of Woman and The Bible.





Palin Power Protest, part 1

15 09 2008

Merrill Lynch Rally grrrls at Anchorage

Rally grrrls at Anchorage

There are so few times in life when a feeling of helplessness transforms into focused power, especially for a national cause. Too often people are left throwing their hands up in the air and shaking their heads in frustration, not sure who to call or contact to voice their concerns.

Voting is an important right, but the drawback is that most choices in politics are not voted into existance by the general public. Writing letters and making phonecalls are constructive but it is debatable whether or not they are productive. Who do we call? Who do we write to? I know I wasn’t one of the people who called up the FCC or CBS to complain about Janet Jackson’s superbowl halftime wardrobe malfunction. Hell, if I knew then what the consequences would be for the ridiculous exercise in anti-woman censorship that followed, and has led to so much radio and TV censorship since, then I would have called up in support of Janet Jackson’s nipple.

But that’s just it – who to call? Most people don’t have the phone number or email address of people who can actually have an effect on our world in that way. Having a voice is almost useless if you’re talking to yourself.

Which is why I was so pleased to read about the ‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ rally this weekend:

Around 1500 people gathered to protest against Sarah Palin. 1500 people showing up to a rally in Alaska is the equivalent of 18,000 people in New Jersey. So, imagine filling the entire PNC Bank Arts Center (including lawn seats) to full capacity in protest of a single politician and you’d have the equivalent of the protest on the lawn of the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend.

I first saw the article on Huffington Post. This is one of my favorite parts, because it’s just too deliciously bitter and Limbaugh-like:

“One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. “Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally ‘a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots,’ and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.”

Eddie Burke with brilliant(?) sign

Eddie Burke with brilliant(?) sign

“Socialist, baby-killing maggots.” Wow, that’s great. The thing is, maggots are necrotic – they only feed on things that are dead. So, “baby-killing maggot” is a bit of a contradiction, and an ironic one at that.

As for maggots being socialists: they don’t have division of labor, communication between individuals, and an ability to solve complex problems like ants do – in that way they are arguably more capitalistic in nature. “Capitalist, Enron-feeding maggots“, now that would be an insult.