I’m Just Not Impressed

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Archive for October 2008

We the People…

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I have to confess that parts of the Obama mega-ad made me cry last night, especially the clip when he was talking about how “all of you have someone in your family who came to America to follow a dream of a better life; maybe they worked in a coal mine, maybe they got hurt” etc. It got me thinking about my grandfather and how he should have died in a rig fire in the Texas oil fields in the late 30s, years before my mother was even born, and how he stayed in Oklahoma because my grandmother refused to leave the family farm when all of his family lived The Grapes of Wrath and caravaned to California to escape the dustbowl.  I remember playing all over what was left of that farm as a child – running through the pasture, riding the occasional calf, playing in “Lucky Rock Creek”, so dubbed my my mother and uncle as children because they found a stash of Lucky Strike cigarette packets there.

So, while I found most of the ad to be somewhat bland and predictable – a nice summation of the campaign and well designed to raise confidence in Obama for the undecideds and to enforce the desire to vote in decided voters – that part really got to me.   As in seriously fighting back sobs and I’m not sure why.  Part of it, I’m sure, is the fact that while I’ve lived on the east coast for twelve years now, I grew up in that mid-western milieu that John McCain romances and Obama was playing too last night.  Born in the Missouri Ozarks, raised in central Illinois, family trips to Oklahoma every year until my mid-teens, visits to my step-mom’s family farm in a tiny Missouri community first populated by her ancestors, detours to Kansas to see the unquestionably small town where my mother grew up.

My mother was the first woman in her family to go to college.  I may be a lawyer, but I don’t come from a family of doctors and lawyers.  I come from oil workers and traveling salesmen and Air Force Sergeants and dairy farmers and homemakers and college dropouts.  I’m the only person in my generation to go to grad school of any type.  I’m the only one to have moved east.  My biological cousins are fundamentalist Christians to the core, as were my grandparents.  I don’t come from John McCain’s elite.  I come from allegedly “real” America.  I am not less of an American because I wanted to follow my dreams of a career.  I am not less of an American because I went to the best school I could get into and afford.  I am not less of an American because I followed a job and in time found one I love.  I am not less of an American because I choose to live near and work in a city.  I am not less of an American because I believe in the words of our Declaration of Independence, that “all [people] are created equal” or the promise of our Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I memorized those words as an eighth grader at Parkside Junior High School in Normal, Illinois and they are the words that led me to be a lawyer a decade later.  Those are words that I believe in.

Written by emandink

October 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Hand in glove…

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So, I just found out about Write to Marry Day while reading Shakesville, which is a blog I clearly should have been reading for ages, but there you go.

Anyway.  Gay marriage.  Some might wonder why a woman in a monogamous heterosexual marriage even cares that much about the right of women to marry other women and men to marry other men.  After all, I can do what I want to do, clearly.

But, of course, nothing ever is, nor should it be that simple.  First off, marriage – I never thought I would get married.  Well, yes, when I was little I’m sure I did, but I don’t really remember having the stereotypical little-girl-fluffy-white-dress sort of fantasies that supposedly all little wannabe princesses have as wee bairns.  From a pretty early age I figured I would be the happy old maiden aunt who could be really awesomely cool with my step-siblings kids and then could go off to my fantastic artsy loft apartment with my fantastic artsy friends.  I was about 15 I think when women started appearing in the relationship part of those fantasies with almost the same regularity as men.  So, wonderful marriage to a man aside, I also know that but for the chance of meeting him before I met a wonderful woman, I could be directly affected.

But I still partake of and engage in and have oodles of heterosexual privilege, regardless of which onscreen personalities make me short of breath and there is something that smacks of simple platitudes for someone so publicly heterosexual to try to empathize with the situation of couples who have wanted what I have for decades.

Which brings me to another thought, which is about the term “marriage” itself.  Now there is a train of thought – which I’ve flirted with from time to time myself – which is the idea of “why not just civil unions?”   And in theory, I could support the idea of marriage as a solely religious term and civil union as the term for what we now think of as a civil marriage ceremony but for the fact is that words have power and meaning beyond what the dictionary definition might be.

“Marriage” as a concept in U.S. culture is loaded with social meaning that transcends the religious meaning for many people. I understand that the religious aspect of being “joined before god” is very important to many religions and that the concept of mated partnership is a vital part of many world religions. And while the concept of marriage may have begun as a religious ceremony (something which I doubt, personally, but I don’t have enough background in ancient cultures to really know for sure), as soon as it became something recognized and enforced by the state, it ceased to be something purely religious.

The importance of my marriage – of being joined to my husband as family, with all of the legal and social recognitions – is not remotely lessened to me because the ceremony was performed by a justice of the peace in a secular castle. My commitment to my husband of 11 years is not less because we do not believe that we were joined by “god”.

I’m completely fine with marriage meaning different things to different people – and goodness knows, I completely understand why some people do not want to be married/otherwise-legally-unioned because of what the term means to them. But I don’t want to cede the term “marriage” to bigots.

I remember a rousing debate engagement twelve years ago when we announced our engagement in an on line community that my husband and I frequented at the time in which someone I had considered something of a good friend had an extraordinarily difficult time understanding why I would want to enter into a legally binding socially endorsed relationship like a marriage, particularly at my then relatively tender age.

It’s because marriage has meaning.  A marriage becomes something larger than just the individuals involved.  And there is absolutely no justification I can think of for why any adult who wants to should not be able to marry any other adult who wishes to enter into that relationship.

I can think of a multitude of legal reasons why not acknowledging same sex marriages is a violation of the U.S. Constitution – starting with the Equal Protection and Full Faith and Credit clauses.  But really, what it comes down to is basic human rights – the right of people to love whomever they love and to freely enter into whatever relationships meet their needs.

Written by emandink

October 29, 2008 at 9:01 pm

This town isn’t big enough for the both of us.

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You know, it feels like just a few weeks ago that I was writing about what the heck the McCain-Palin campaign means by small town values.

Now it seems that not only are small towns (again…this means what?) the sole bastion of American morality, but in fact, in the bizarro world inhabited by John McCain and Sarah Palin and their cronies, somehow despite being at least five generations removed from “the old country” to the point where I can identify only the vaguest of non-American nationality, I am not truly an American by virtue of living in an area with more than, let’s say roughly, 5,000 people.

Hell, I don’t even live in a real state.  Which I suppose can be explained by the fact that Virginia is technically called a Commonwealth, however, those pesky income taxes that don’t go to the feds or to my local county seem to still go to Richmond to help support “real” Virginia. 

The McCain campaign is stooping to this bizarre Orwellian mantra of “All citizens are Americans but some citizens are more American than others” and I have an idea why:  Obama’s life completely belies the standard Republican narrative of the American dream.  Here we have a hard working, essentially self-made son of an immigrant and a woman from Kansas for god’s sake.  But the immigrant father was a dark skinned African man.  The mother was white and not particularly religious.  And the son had the audacity to go to the best schools that would accept him and to excel, to break down barriers, to find Jesus, to work to make the world a better place for black people in this country and to be a Democrat.  And really, it’s those last that are the real issue here.  Let’s be honest.

So, since they can’t harp on the self made American dream – which usually ties in nice and tight with the old-fashioned conservative values mantra – they’re looking for a different hook.  The tried and true “some of y’all just aren’t American enough for the rest of us” is not new.  But it is odd to see it trotted out in such force, not just by media surrogates, but by the candidates themselves.  In some ways this is another example of McCain campaigning like Bush, the original “uniter, not a divider.”

This campaign strategy has the odd effect of both being grotesquely offensive and almost relieving – I’m not entirely sure I want to live in Sarah Palin’s America.  But I don’t really appreciate her and McCain thinking they get to decide who really belongs here either.

Written by emandink

October 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Where the Schoolhouse Ends.

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Plans to blog the debate last night were derailed – apologies to anyone who stopped by for live action coverage.

There were three things that stood out at me last night.  The first was that while McCain clearly had some massive coaching from his staff on actually trying to show a modicum of respect to Obama, he really didn’t succeed.  It wasn’t a bad performance – he was definitely smoother than he’s been before, but I actually came away from this one feeling strongly not so much that Obama had won, but that McCain had lost.
His “WA WA my feelings are hurt because you didn’t denounce Lewis as a reverse racist for daring to call Sarah and I out on the fact that we are tacitly encouraging racism and xenophobia, even as we pretend we are against it” was laughable.  Seriously Senator – if you have called out everything you thought was inappropriate about your campaign, then you’re fine with your running mate implying Obama is a terrorist. Good to know.

Second, I thought that it was telling that McCain was criticizing Obama for class warfare, when he evidently doesn’t believe that it is possible that a plumber (named Joe or otherwise) could possibly make $250,000 or more a year. McCain kept harping on the idea that this plumber (read, uneducated, blue collar laborer) would have his taxes raised under Obama’s plan – never addressing his actual income, and implying that gee, if a plumber will have his taxes raised, then what might happen to you, nurse, or you teacher, or you tradesman. How fucking offensive that evidently McCain doesn’t believe – and doesn’t want the American people to believe – that a plumber might be able to make as much as a lawyer or a banker or a politician. If a plumber makes more than the east coast liberal elite, then his whole narrative is blown to bits.

My big issue with the debate – the one that really stuck with me and made me both laugh and want to throw things at the tv was McCain’s education proposal.  McCain, the man whose convention was all about “small town values” and small towns being real America and city dwellers being over-educated elitists, used Washington, DC, New York City and New Orleans as his education examples.  He referred repeatedly to wanting to give every American the sort of choice that the Obamas and the McCains have in terms of where to send their suburban dwelling children.  However, having “school choice” presumes that there are multiple schools to choose from.  So, in an urban area with multiple public schools at a given grade level in the same district and a bumper crop of private and perochial schools to choose from, school choice – be it charters, vouchers, open attendance systems can work.

But what about those “real Americans” in medium and small towns and rural areas?   Just because a school is surrounded by corn fields and small town values, it doesn’t mean that property values and taxes are high enough to maintain high quality schools across the board.  What choice is there but to go to an underfunded consolidated school, if the only other options are 30 miles away and not much better?  I sure didn’t have a whole lot of school choice when I was in high school – it was the cash-starved public school, the Catholic school, the Baptist school or the university lab school (which tended to wildly occilate in quality every few years).  And that was a lot of choice compared to elsewhere in farm country. Poor kids, kids with parents who don’t give a shit about their education, kids who graduate without knowing how to read, kids who need ESOL programs are not limited to urban areas. 

Vouchers do jack for these kids; or for the thousands of kids who don’t win the voucher/charter lottery.  Playing checkers with kids’ education and moving them around the board doesn’t change the fact that the board is warped to begin with.

Written by emandink

October 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Live from Nashville…POTUS scrum part 2

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Alas, I am on about a 4-5 minute time delay tonight, which is going to make timestamping a little difficult.
First impressions – Obama looks boring and has caved to the flag-pin mafia.  McCain is well served by a podium and needs a tie that looks like it was made in this millennium.

As for the actual debate…

…Wow.  It took McCain all of 5 words to get to energy independence.  Which is somehow going to bail out retirees?  He’s managing to stuff half the republican platform into one answer.

I sort of wish I was watching CNN with its independent Ohio voters.

Gee…McCain is not going to appoint Tom Brokaw to be Treasury Secretary…there’s a newsflash.  But, the head of eBay?  I guess it has Palin’s endorsement.  I’m surprised he didn’t try to attack Warren Buffet – he did take some of Obama’s wind there, I suppose.

And now Tom’s testy.  You will answer questions the way I want you to, gentlemen.

Aw…McCain “suspended” his campaign.
Would reasonably informed people really have never heard of Freddie and Fannie? Really?  Am I just too entrenched in DC?
He is really hitting the buzzwords, eh?

Obama is actually hitting back at the FM attacks.  Finally.

And McCain just totally dodged the question of whether it is going to get worse before it gets better.

I’m wondering whether this fixation on Bush really going to serve Obama as well as he wants it to.
I’m hoping the meme about Obama actually being the most liberal senator falls flat.  And, that’s what planetarium projectors cost, dumbass.

This is all starting to run together.  Please, let McCain disintegrate in some spectacular manner.  PLEASE!!!


“Some of you might remember 9-11″…nice one.  Shopping doesn’t equal leadership?  Damn.  I’ve been doing it wrong.

Wow.  Well, at least McCain is familiar with some Supreme Court jurisprudence…but Obama’s tax cuts like nailing a jellyfish to a wall…not quite porn, sorry.

How the hell does McCain plan to actually pay for all of his platform without raising taxes on anyone at all?  Obama is being rational – if we can’t afford it, we don’t cut.  And the people who can best afford it, pay more.  Why is this so hard to understand?

…the straight talk express lost a wheel.  Good one.  And now we get the real deal from Obama.  If only people will listen…

Oh god, please do not say that we should privatize social security…well, actually, please do.  Damn.  Evidently the solution to social security is to exhume Ronald Reagan?  And to distort our opponent’s record.

Tom, just give it up.  They are never going to follow the rules.

So…McCain is against safe nuclear power?  He wants the regular old unsafe nuclear power?  My brain cannot parse…

Oh snap!  Obama pwns McCain on the congressional energy record.  “Drill baby drill” is not the answer…I wish he’d said that instead of just implying it.

TOM – Give it up.
JOHN – Stop it with the “my friends” crap.  Just stop.
BARAK – The smug amused look cracks me up, but I suspect it is not working on the undecideds.

Ah, healthcare.  Obama says what I expect him to say…he’s going a little more on offense today, but is not blowing me out of the water.

McCain wants online health records to reduce “errors as they call them”…what?  Are the trial attorneys backing him or something.  It’s called malpractice and can be a question of life or death.
I think he is baldface lying about Obama’s supposed fees, but I have to fact check it.
I’m sure Obama will be personally hunting down every U.S. resident with no healthcare.


Woah…was that a little dig at Arizona’s healthcare regulations?  And here’s Tom interrupting Obama again.  And…McCain buts in “But before we leave that, did we hear the size of the fine?”  Wow.  And, Brokaw lets him get away with it.  But, you know that liberal media, skewering the republicans.

America is the greatest force for good in the world…we keep the peace by shedding blood?  Good golly…lets all slit our wrists!  Evidently Obama was wrong about Russia by agreeing with almost every diplomatic leader?

Obama admits that he doesn’t understand…the GOP cuts tape here.  Too bad, because it’s a good overall answer.  At least he hasn’t agreed with him yet.

Ooh, we’re back to Doctrines…thanks to that Palin interview, it’s the new thing.  All the cool kids are doing it.
Can’t Angelina Jolie just take care of Darfur?
I have to admit, I just got totally lost on the Obama Doctrine.
The McCain Doctrine is…Cool Hand Luke?  I’ve heard “peacemaker” too many times and now I have Simon & Garfunkel’s “Benediction” going through my head.  It’s kind of discordant given the circumstance.  And, thus meaning I have no idea about the McCain doctrine either.

So, what is McCain going to say about Obama’s answer…ah, he’s going to harp on that whole being open about attacking Pakistan…which is different from Sarah Palin how?

Uh…what support of the people in Iraq?  It would have been great if we’d actually DONE that, but we’ve not been fighting Saddam for the past how many years?  Who are the insurgents if not “the people”?  Despite his early hopes, not only was the war not quick, but we were not greeted as liberators.  John, no amount of wishful thinking and nasty rhetoric changes the fact that you were wrong.

…”As I have acted responsibly throughout my military career”…what?  What?  Dude, you haven’t been in the military in 30 years and when you were, you FAILED.  FAILED.  Really, it’s not that impressive.

Wow.  He just acknowledged that Obama actually is right about something.  McCain is obsessed with this surge.

And, McCain just trotted out the “looked into Putin’s eyes and saw K.G.B.”  Dude, you said that already.

“Part of the job of the commander in chief is keeping all of you safe” – nice line.  Nice acknowledgement of the fact that the job is about safety and security, not ego.

Does Russia even really qualify as an empire right now?

And, now we move to Israel…and McCain gets touchy feely with the Navy guy. 
“Of course we would not wait for the security counsel.”  What would the Israelis do?  And we’re back to the meeting with Iran thing.
Am I the only one who thinks that while absolutely tragic, the destruction of Israel is not the same as the Nazi holocaust?  (Godwin took a lot longer this time, though.)  Genocide, yes.  So is Darfur.

Obama, however, never seemed to quite answer the question.

“What don’t you know and how might you learn it?”  This would be the Achilles heel question.
I am not sure that talking about the diminishing of the American Dream is really a winner.  I like the “it’s not what you expect, but what you don’t that takes us your time”.

And McCain dodges by not actually talking about himself.  “What I don’t know is what none of us know and what is essentially unknowable.”  But everything else – I know it all.  There is nothing I don’t know.  And he brings it around to the country first slogan.

And the candidates block the teleprompter.  That may be the best part of the whole debate. 

And we have schmooze.  Good night and good luck and all that.

Written by emandink

October 8, 2008 at 1:22 am

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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Live from suburban St. Louis…it’s the 2008 Vice Presidential debate

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8:58 – I think the last time I was remotely interested in a veep debate as anything other than background was in 1984.  Aside from the obvious, there’s really no comparison.

MSNBC is being weird about their coverage, so for tivo purposes, we’re watching CNN.

9:01 – here we go…

9:03 – CNN ticker is interesting…looks like Palin is taking her facial cues from her running mate

Gee, it took all of 2 seconds for Palin to talk about being a soccer mom.  You betcha.

9:06 – good look to Biden with “People in the senate”…but the attack doesn’t seem to go over well…

9:08 – economy = workforce?  Did she really just wink?  Who the hell sent her out there with her hair in her eyes?

9:09 – go Gwen, but if you really think you are going to keep them on topic, you are in for a loooong night.

Darn right it was the predator lenders…she is doing better than I’d have expected – there is a lot of debate left to be played…

I wonder if her hair is so firmly behind her ears to try to show she couldn’t be wearing a wire?

9:12 – The undecideds don’t like the practical answer from Biden.

9:13 – Interesting use of first name, Sarah. Good press on 400+ tax increase votes, there.  She is obsessed with the taxes.

9:14 – she’s already going after Gwen Ifel.  She may not answer the questions the way that doesn’t fit with her canned soundbite.  She’s going to say the word TAXES as many times as she can. :P

9:15 – Biden on taxes – middle class tax cuts – this is for you, not corporate America.

9:17 – “redistribution of wealth” = socialism for Palin.  She’s middle class?  That house of theirs would be 2.5 million here.  Ooh, free market regulation worked so well with the banking and mortgage industry.  $5000 credit is nothing if you’re buying healthcare on the open market.  Have they looked at a hospital bill recently.

9:20 – the voter reaction ticker is irking me.

9:22 – Not paying taxes is not patriotic?

9:23 – She is starting to fall apart…bless her heart.

9:24 – To be fair, both of them are pretty much ignoring Gwen.

9:26 – I cannot even follow her and we’re what, 27 minutes in?  We have John McCain to thank for what?  A toxic mess on main street is affecting wall street?  Is she really trying to blame average Americans?   I think she means the other way around.

9:29 – Why is she back on energy?  Independent Ohio voters are not happy…but she brought it around to oil drilling – good save.

9:30 – Sooo…as the only Arctic state, climate is changing and I’m not going to think about the causes (because heaven’s forfend we acknowledge human responsibilities)…we need to reduce carbon emissions by increasing oil production?  Maybe patriotic oil has no carbon emissions…kind of like how eating standing up has no calories.

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Written by emandink

October 3, 2008 at 1:02 am

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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Watch this space…

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I have every intention of blogging the debate tonight.  It might be slightly time-delayed, because of family stuff and I’m guessing that there will also be several instances of “run that back a little, did she really say that?”

In the meantime, fine yourself a good debate drinking game or, if you’d like to avoid a massive hangover, try some bingo.

Written by emandink

October 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Election 2008, Politics

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