Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Morning After

After the news reports of the failure of President Bush's bailout plan to be passed, the news reports are all over the place reporting losses of over $1 Trillion on Wall Street, a British millionaire jumping in front of a train, and John McCain's derailed campaign after his premature boast of flying into D.C. to bring his Republican colleagues on board to make the bailout happen.

And the morning after, my son got up as usual to get ready for high school, my husband paid a few bills, showered and left for work. My daughters woke up, dressed, ate breakfast and ran to the bus stop to play with friends before first grade. I talked to the other bus-stop mom. My younger daughter watched her PBS Kids morning show and I drank a latte.

The sky did not fall, the "sucker" didn't go down overnight, we are still in our home, and there was breakfast on the table.

While this is the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, lessons and regulations in place from FDR made it possible for most Americans to still have their savings, still eat, and still go to school. There are definitely middle class and lower income Americans struggling to feed their families and fill up the gas tank, but this was the case before September 15th. That is the point, rash judgements never pan out.

The Republican Party, quick to not want government intervention, came to the government to give them a blank check for $700 Billion to bail out their overwhelmingly Republican CEOs on Wall Street. Then something happened. Blame is flying around faster than the softballs did this summer. It isn't the Democratic Party that upheld the vote, they brought their votes to the table, howbeit it somewhat reluctantly, but they brought the changes they felt needed to be in place to address the crisis. The Republicans got upset and didn't vote, they are worried more about re-election than what learned economists say is a potential financial tsunami.

Where do we go the morning after? Clearly something has to be done and that is the point. It was to be a bipartisan effort because this happened under the watch of a Republican president who was big on letting the markets do their thing. The markets should correct themselves but have shown that without regulation, they are like a bunch of 4-year-olds let loose in a candy store.

The remainder of 2008 will be critical. There has to be oversight. CEO salaries and bonuses must be reigned in. The ones who benefitted from the mortgage bubble must also be the ones to pay for the mortgage meltdown. In my book, that would be the brokers that cohersed some buyers into subprime loans that gave the broker higher commissions. Yes, some homeowners took a bigger bite of the pie and are feeling the repercussions of listening to the high-pressure sales tactics of the used-car-salesman tactics of the mortgage brokers. But it isn't Main Street that stands to walk away with millions even with the bailout.

Warren Buffet, who made his billions by buying up companies, has infused money into the market. What does he know? It will come back up and the buy low will eventually turn to sell high and his portfolio will get even fatter. Fine, that is how markets are supposed to work, but on the taxpayers dime? No, the taxpayer should profit from this deal. What about forgiving the loan for the bedraggled homeowners? Or the student loans of the graduate students who haven't been able to find employment in their field in years? Or turning back the capitalized interest on those loans back to the original amount of the loan? Or redressing bankruptcy rules to benefit Main Street that has gone bankrupt due to the skyrocketing health care costs?

It's a fire sale yet the ones who started the fire are standing there looting the remains. That is the part that has people at my local coffeeshop upset. My little suburb is filled with "at-home moms" with masters degrees that can't find meaningful work. They all rationalize that they want to be there for their children and involve themselves in volunteer work, but the reality is that the professional jobs, particularly in industries like marketing/advertising/communications dried up back in 2003 and 2005. This "economic crisis" isn't news to those on Main Street. It is just a "crisis" because some millionaire can't buy another boat or give his wife a $300,000 outfit.

So, the morning after, the sun is shining, the neighbors still got in their cars to drive to work, the homes were still standing, and the kids are still in school. Perhaps it is the calm before the storm. Or perhaps it is just wisdom kicking in that says after Rosh Hashanah, the Congress will return, sit down like logical, smart, elected officials to craft legislation that is bi-partisan with true constraints, true benchmarks, and clear oversight to benefit the entire economy and not just the select few at the top. The President will not get on TV with one of his "scare tactic" messages and the media will stop sensationalizing the whole thing for ratings.

There is hope in the morning after. Perhaps this is when we need the wisdom of Solomon.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The President's $700 Billion bailout bail did not pass the house as just reported by CNN.

The republican leaders are not there for President Bush on this bill. "There is no juice to get it done." The democratic leaders came on CNN Sunday to report that they reached an agreement on paper and CNN spent all day Sunday talking about the bill, yet, the real story is on the floor.

The congressmen and congresswomen have listened to Main Street. I know I contacted my elected officials in Missouri to register my stance against bailing out Wall Street. I know the economic market is uncertain right now, but the reality is that the majority of us, the real people, have been living through "the worse economic times since the Great Depression" for some time now.

Missouri has unemployment higher than the national average. The National Black MBA Association just had their conference in Washington D.C. My fellow business people reported that there was a gluttony of marketing MBAs seeking jobs that are just not there. I earned my MBA from the University of Iowa and I felt the hit to my industry in 2003. Real people have know about the crisis for some time.

What can be done? Clearly the bill needs to be passed in some form. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Harry Reid, Secretary Treasurer Henry Paulson, and all the rest of the crew need to stop making a rush and really think about how the bill will benefit all of America. There has to be a guarantee that the taxpayers will be protected. It can not be a bill without real oversight. It has to have real limits on the CEOs who walk away with millions. We want oversight so there isn't corruption.

I am watching closely and know that I don't want to hand my four-year-old daughter a tax burden, beyond the $3 Trillion debt due to the illegal war.

There can be a move beyond this. This did not happen overnight. It goes back to Reagonomics. The middle class has been chipped away more and more. Greed and risk were the twin criminals in this. It was not just Wall Street, I give that. People used their homes as piggy banks and took advantage of unrealistically low interest rates - courtesy of Alan Greenspan - to take out "equity" in their homes that was inflated. They bought cars, upgraded to "mega mansions" and took luxury vacations. Some just opened more credit cards and bought that long-wanted Prada handbag or Jimmy Choo pumps. It was a rollercoaster ride that came to an end.

The elected officials also have some blame to this. They received financing from the lobbyists or the CEOs who made lots of money on Wall Street.

We have investments in 401(k)s and retirement accounts. Baby boomers stand to lose. We stand to lose. It is not a win-win situation, it is a lose-lose situation. Something must be done and some of that rests with us.

The jobs are not there yet some consumers have still shopped as if there were a major piggybank standing by.

The democrats are taking it to another vote without letting Jewish members go home for Rosh Hashanah that begins at sundown. There are anxious times there. The democrats delivered their votes and are hoping the republicans deliver so it will look like a bi-partisan agreement. The other option is that they can just go home for the holidays and start over.

One thing I know as a person is that when you make rash decisions in a hurry, you never make the right decisions.


Bullies never stop. They pick and pick and pick until either they have destroyed their prey or their prey has turned and eliminated them. Bullies are really fearful and to mask and cover up their fear, they constantly, unrelentingly attack their prey. Bullies use their words to taunt and haunt their prey more than they use their fists. Bullies create a false reality in that the prey is deserving of their emotional, psychological, and in some cases, sexual abuse. Bullies create an atmosphere of heart-pounding fear and brow-sweating anxiety. Bullies are evil.

Bullies come in many forms. We are more accustomed to the big kid on the playground who pushes around the new guy or the skinny kid. Girls bully with their cliques and taunts of the girl without the designer clothes. Bullies are everywhere and they are a plague.

Husbands bully wives who stay home by threatening to kick them out, reprimanding them for forgetting to hang up a towel even though they spent eight straight hours cleaning up, constantly accusing them of some infraction, talking over them so they are left defenseless. Trophy wives bully their husbands through constant lust for the designer goods that the husband can't always afford. Bosses bully employees by the threat of firing, withholding benefits, and coercing them to vote a certain way. Governments bully citizens through surveillance, intimidation, and widespread financial panic.

Drug, alcohol, food, and sex addicts are bullies who push their families to the brink through their addictive behavior. Addicts are out-of-control and the imbalance caused by their dependence on some chemical makes them horrible to live with and often leaves their family defenseless against their unrelenting barrage of attacks.

"A blustering browbeating person; especially one habitually cruel to others who are weaker. To treat abusively. To affect by means of force or coercion. To use browbeating language or behavior. INTIMIDATE. " Webster's New Explorer Encyclopedic Dictionary.

Sarah Palin is bullying her pregnant teenage daughter to marry an young man who admittedly is a "red-neck" and "doesn't want kids."

Henry Paulson, President Bush, et al is bullying the American people and congress to bail out Wall Street without regard to Main Street, even with the supposed deal that is to be signed Monday and Wednesday.

Wal*Mart is bullying the employees to vote Republican because if they vote Democrat they will lose their jobs

Shell, BP, Exxon, et.al are bullying the car driver through exorbitant gas prices

We face it every day in some form or another. It makes us collectively fearful and anxious. It makes us exhausted. It makes us rage. The bullies won't stop, we must stop the bully. One voice, two voices, three voices, just like in the school yard when the victim gets up, dusts off his jeans, and stares the bully down. He punches back and even though the bully hits him to the ground again, he gets back up and stares him down and takes the offensive. Bullies thrive on intimidation and when the intimidation is gone, they reveal their true character.

Bullies must be stopped. Turn around face off. They will back down. The victim may be bruised in the process, but in the end, will have a new release of life. The bully may even reform. Or they can keep pushing until the victim faces them off in a way that leaves them both maimed, destroyed, or dead.

Word-to-the-wise for bullies...just back off, it isn't Godly and it isn't worth it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

To President Bush

So where have you been, President Bush?

Last evening you came on national television to once again scare the American people.

We are tired of the fear mongering.

Didn't you know the economy has already failed? Didn't you realize that when you sent out those "economic stimulus checks" this past spring? Weren't you watching the falling housing prices that actually started back in 2006? Didn't you watch the increasing real estate inventory increase to 14 months in places like Florida? Weren't you paying attention to record high gas prices, record high milk prices, record high cereal prices? The economy has already failed, it is just now a "crisis" because your rich, Wall Street friends are finally feeling the consequences of their greed.

Last I heard, you were a believer. Have you ever read in the Bible about the sin of greed? Do you remember the story about the rich young ruler and the eye of the camel? Or what about Lazarus? Does any of it ring a bell? There is nothing wrong with having wealth, there is something wrong with having wealth at the expense of everyone else, and that's what happened with the collapse of Bear Stearns, Freddie & Fannie, AIG, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch. How can CEOs walk away with millions when their very companies were ruined? Is that how this is supposed to work? And now you want me to bankrupt not only the rest of my life but the lives of my children and future grandchildren so your friends can have more millions? And you want me to give Henry Paulson the right to tax me to death to pay for his $700 BILLION bailout without me asking what he is doing with the money? President Bush, this is not the way to treat the people in this country. This is on top of the $3 TRILLION debt we have because of your illegal war. Never mind the loss of lives. And I have news for you President Bush, jobs have already been lost, didn't you know we are in 6.1% unemployment, 6.4% unemployment in my state of Missouri, and over 11% African American unemployment? We have been in recession since 2001, we are now in a depression because of your leadership and I am not happy.

So, what do we do now? First, tell the truth to the American people and STOP TRYING TO SCARE EVERYONE! We want oversight, we want oversight, and we do not want to pay the CEOs. Where is the bailout for Main Street or me? If I am irresponsible for my financial behavior, I am responsible for the consequences. I have to bite the bullet and just cut back, not put my debt on someone else. I am frustrated. Ok, I understand that this is serious and I agree with Senator Barack Obama that we haven't seen something like this in my 44 years of life, I get that, what I don't get is you coming on trying to scare us more.

We want full disclosure. As a fellow MBA graduate, I expect full disclosure. You and Congress owe us this much before you take this HUGE RISK. The market is part risk, why not let these companies fail, they took a risk and the market responded. If you are going to bail anyone out, try bailing out the people with the bad mortgages, the small businesses that actually create jobs and not the corporations that have slashed over 600,000 jobs just this year. Come on, we are not that stupid.

Where have you been? This did not happen on September 15th. Look at history, the handwriting was on the wall two years ago. Actually, five years ago! This is because of Wall Street and the CEOs and the lobbyists bullying D.C. to deregulate the markets and let them run hog wild with "other people's money." Regulation is to make sure they don't destroy the economy, but guess what? They did and most of their money is on offshore accounts and you worry about Senator Barack Obama raising their taxes! Their taxes need to be raised so they can pay for the mess that happened under your watch. Our backs, the backs of the American people can not bear this one! Not this time.

Please listen to the bipartisan efforts to structure something that doesn't forget Main Street. No more pillaging everyday people because of your rich, country club friends. Let them remember that they can't take it with them and they can actually use their own money to bail out their other rich friends. It is time to speak the truth to the American people, stop the scare tactic and remember the least of these.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thoughs on the Economic Crisis

"We are where we are now." Senator Hillary Clinton has summed up the economic crisis quite nicely. "Everyone has to take responsibility, but the bulk of the responsibility rests with this administration." The Republicans have taken away the rules, plundered the economy for their gain, and the result is that greed finally caught up to them and the country. Now, they are coming hat-in-hand and demand-in-mouth for a $700B bailout with Henry Paulson as the financial czar. No how, no way!

I watched the news every day since September 15th and thought about how we ended up here. I thought about the prosperity of the Clinton years and the recessions of the Bush II years. My musings sent me outside to look up and down my middle-class street. I saw more Obama yard signs than McCain yard signs, however, the lone McCain yard sign baffled me.

The houses on my street are quaint, not mega mansions, well, except for one on the end of the block and they have a McCain yard sign. I expected that from them, but not from the little bungalow across the street. It has a postage stamp yard, two bedrooms, a detached one-car garage and is on the "other-side-of-the-tracks" of Kirkwood. I know it is a rental. There is a new family there from the young couple that was renting it earlier this year. So, they are renting, probably can't afford the high real estate and taxes of this West County suburb, and they are voting for John McCain?

I pondered this as I also pondered how close the polls are when it is clear that Senator Obama is the more intelligent, most ready, better equipped to handle this economic mess, and ready to bring real change to the country. Is it race? Is it just stupidity? What is it? I pondered this for a moment and then thought surely this "greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression" will send people scurrying for the ballot box and Senator Obama. I'm seeing more "white, working class women" volunteering in our Des Peres campaign office. They get it, the press is starting to get it. We have to do something.

Can we say the entire blame rests on the current administration? About 90%. They pushed for deregulation, they let market forces run wild, it was a bunch of rich, white, frat boys playing funny money. Greed always comes before a fall and right now, we are in the fall. Yet, I would say 10% of it rests with us, the American people.

Despite the third recession, people still gve into the marketing messages and bought clothes, toys, computers, and other things they didn't need beyond the essentials. Yes, the gas prices have been higher than normal, yet in my little town, the restaurants and coffee shops are still doing a thriving business. I'm still seeing people shop at the malls and come out with Nordstrom and Macy's bags. Is it just the wealthy of my suburb that are shopping? Or is it the proverbial "keeping up with the Joneses" at all costs?

I told our children this would be a lean Christmas. Part of my statement was related to the economy but also related to the Hurricanes and real people hurting in other parts of the world. I also got really tired of picking up yet another toy, doll, computer game, and crayon. My kids don't need any more games, gadgets, or gifts. Maybe that is the lesson, the collective lesson, think about what we need versus all the wants.

We are so close to the election of the century in my opinion and there is so much at stake, nationally and in my home state of Missouri. The economic bailout will haunt my future grandchildren because of greed. The Republicans are trying to scare, still, white working class Americans into believing Senator Obama will "raise your taxes." It is not part of his plan to do that unless they make $250,000 or more. The vast majority of citizens stand to have a better quality of life under the Democrats. I don't make that much money, neither do most of the people on my street, neither does the "white, working class" family crammed into the tiny bungalow on my street.

The elected officials can't forget Main Street in their quest to save Wall Street. The bottom line is that we are each responsible for our choices. My husband and I have those discussions as we manage on one income. We don't want to pay the debt of my fellow MBAs on Wall Street who speculated. One of the things of investing is that you take the risks with the rewards. They want to privatize the reward through CEO golden parachutes and socialize the risk through bailouts and burdens on workers. There have been so many layoffs this year, over 600,000, that people are simply stunned.

The suits on Wall Street shouldn't walk away with billions that was suddenly available to bail them out but not available to offer early childhood education to help mothers balance work and family, to offer health care to all Americans, to offer a real living wage to families, to fix the bridges, to repair the roads, to put Apple iMacs in every urban library the way they are in every school in Kirkwood, Missouri. There is a lot that $700 Billion can do to help the economy of normal people. What about rebuilding New Orleans, about Galvanston, about the people displaced from the hurricanes? What about military benefits? There is more at stake than a bunch of rich people with bruised egos, double talk, and sugar-coated lies.

I don't believe anything Bush, Cheney, Paulson, Graham, or Greenspan have to say, they got us in this mess, let them sell some of their houses, their cars, put in their millions and the millions of their cronies to fix this, not my future grandchildren. Bush calls it a "robust plan to deal with a serious problem." Robust? For Wall Street and unquestioned power to Henry Paulson, yes. There is no blank check for the investment bankers like Paulson that got us in this mess. I know people are employed by this industry, into the millions, that would lose jobs. I want oversight of the Treasury Department, Paulson to step down, a bi-partisan safeguard to watch our money, and the right to see the books, question the spending, and fire anyone who messes it up. They don't get a big check for laying off regular people and squandering our money. A blank check, no way!

Greed. There is a price to pay for it. The payment has to be from the ones who made the mess. It was not the ordinary people who were duped by mortgage brokers that destroyed the economy. The speculators. They need to accept the market punishment. I thought the Republicans didn't like big government, but now they do, hypocrites to me. We are not that stupid.

Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches anyone?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Announcing The Launch Of The Voter Suppression Wiki - Learn, Report, Act

Announcing The Launch Of The Voter Suppression Wiki - Learn, Report, Act

Posted using ShareThis

Still Time to Dream

I told my son that I was so proud of him for following his dreams. He is 22 1/2 years old and has always wanted to put his voice to music/rap. I am not keen on his choice of genre, but it is his dream. That's the point, it was his dream and he had something to say. And he didn't let anyone sway him. He made connections with people who had a studio and worked out studio time, he found someone who was a writer along with his own lyrics, he developed the sound trac and he drew the artwork on his CDs. He is also an entrepreneur and born salesman, he is selling his CDs through grassroots efforts. It is a beginning and it is his dream.

I told him "don't bankrupt your future to pay for the past." He said, "wow, that's deep mama." It came through my thoughts of my mother's life and dreams and the fact that next month, she would've been gone 40 years. I am exactly the same age as my mother was a month before she passed away. It is pivotal to me as I think about the things she wanted to do but sexism, racism, religion, discrimination, expectations, regrets, family, health and a lot of other obstacles shattered her dreams like glass falling from the skyscrapers in Houston. There was so much she took to the grave.

As the calendar turns and the days slip away, I've been thinking a lot about my dreams.

Thoughts about dreams had me examining my own life. I remember exploring options of what I wanted to be when I was growing up. My dad always supported my writing and read every story I ever wrote, yet he never told me being a writer was a career option. There was one day I told him I wanted to be a lawyer (he had his law degree) and he told me I didn't have temperament. I will never know because I didn't pursue it. I thought about being a "child psychologist" because it sounded like something profound to answer. In reality, back in the late 70s and early 80s of my teen years, I didn't know what I wanted to be, I just knew college was in my future and that I loved to write.

My father was more practical than dreaming when he told me to get my secretarial degree. I told him I didn't want to be anyone's secretary. He told me it would be something for me to fall back on. I went to technical school before I went to college. I chose college in the same town where he lived and often wondered what would've happened if I had gone away to school.

There was a moment when I stopped and realized twenty-six years has slipped by, twenty-six years since I was a high-school graduate. The years tumbled like clothes in my son's closet. Where did it all go? I thought about it as I watch my young men (almost 23 and newly 20) navigate their path along this life journey. One always talked about being a writer, artist, rapper and is on the quest to realize his dream, the other always talked about living in Australia, while in Japan, he is living his dream of world travel. The years when they were little flash before my eyes and I want to turn back the clock to my youth with the wisdom of my forties.

There was a fork-in-the-road decision for me to either bankrupt my future because of the past or embrace the experiences on the road I'd traveled. I decided to do the latter.

Forgetting the past is sometimes easier said than done. There probably isn't a person alive who doesn't have a regret about a decision they made or a sadness about an opportunity they missed. It is probably human to muse about one's live as one reaches the so-called "middle age." I get notices from AARP and reminders to make sure my life-insurance is up-to-date. The beaches on the front of a lot of those postcards promising leisure in retirement have gone the way of the Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Merrill Lynch financial woes, there might not be a beachfront in my near future, but there is still possibility, and that is what makes me smile.

My eldest sister will be sixty this year. She redefined herself and is living richly. She earned her Ph.D and is a cultural anthropologist at a major university. Every time I talk with her, I smile at the thought of who she is. She is 16 years my senior and I have so much more to learn. One big lesson she taught me was to be true to myself and forget the naysayers, to go for my dream, there is only one life and live it fully, make no enemies and make no apologizes for choosing what is best for my peace.

I realized that while I have accomplished a lot in my life (I earned my MBA with my sons in tow) there are still things I want to do. I have made a promise to myself to just go for it, the dream. I am redefining myself every day and gave myself permission to be ok with it even if it goes against the mainstream.

Life is a wonderful gift. There are places I want to visit, coffees I want to drink, cookies I want to taste, art I want to see. Even as I think about my mother and her promise, I realize the most precious legacy she gave me is the knowledge that there is still time to dream.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Reality Is

I thought I was just about finished with my comments on the whole McCain/Palin ticket, yet, there is more to say.

Sunday, September 14, 2008 rocked the financial world of the United States to its core. It took Alan Greenspan to come out and say this was the worse he had seen it. It was reminded of the Great Depression, also under a Republican president also. I watched the news on CNN as Lehman Brothers employees, many stopping by in their khaki shorts and flip flops, to unpack their offices, their jobs gone with the wind. The investment bankers played Monopoly and lost. It was sad to see and I thought about some of my classmates at the University of Iowa when I was working on my MBA back in 1998.

The numbers are bad. 6.1% national unemployment. 6.4% Missouri unemployment. 11% black unemployment. The middle class, in the words of Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden, "I don't care what you call it, the middle class is dying." What has caused this?

Let's see, trillion dollar tax cuts that benefited the wealthy class - like those Wall Street CEOs and investment bankers at Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. Let's see, AIG is on the verge of collapse and the Chinese won't come in to save it. Let's see, 1% of the population controlling and owning 23.4% of the nation's income. Let's see, six years of deregulation of the financial markets. Let's see, the highest foreclosure rate since the Great Depression. Let's see, gas over $4 a gallon.

The Republican candidate is clueless about the economy. He doesn't know how many houses he owns and basically has lives off his heiress mistress-turned-wife. The tax cut that Senator Barack Obama proposes is for 95% - that's ninety-five-per-cent - of the U.S. population. It is only those making over $250,000 that will be taxes under an Obama/Biden administration. It is necessary to point this out, it is not the lie that the Republicans keep trying to get poor, white, uneducated Americans to believe.

The reality sits when I look outside my house. My new neighbor, across the street, renting a small two-bedroom house in a middle-class neighborhood, has a John McCain sign out front. Clueless in that they are voting against their economic best interests. We've been stabbed and left to bleed under President Bush, the bloodletting will be even worse under two people who admit to being clueless about the economy.

In the midst of the nation's economic crisis, John McCain had the nerve to say the economy is fundamentally strong. In the words of Senator Barack Obama, "what economy are you talking about?" It is not the economy that has us stretching a chicken breast to feed a family of five. It is not the economy that has a box of cereal pushing $5. It is not the economy that costs $89 to fill up the gas tank.

Senator John McCain, on his CNN interview talked about the American worker being strong. I have news for him, it wasn't the American worker that destroyed the economy. Americans, black, white, Hispanic, have all wanted to work and do work hard. It wasn't the American worker that destroyed Wall Street or camped out in all-minority neighborhoods to push, lie, and bully borrowers into subprime loans so the broker could get a commission. It wasn't the American worker that sent the jobs overseas in favor of cheap international labor. It wasn't the American worker the destroyed companies and walked out with fat CEO golden parachutes. It wasn't the American worker that engaged in an illegal war that has bankrupted the country and saddled my children with debt.

It is coming down to this, would Americans vote for the black guy who had the education and the vision to get us out of this economic mess of the last eight years of the right-wing fundamental, neo-con hijacking of the Republican Party and America. Or would they let their prejudices guide them and end up in the worse economic times?

Time for a reality check.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Precisely The Point

Originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com and passed on to me via my membership in the ObamaMamas support group. This is precisely the point. I don't know Sarah Palin personally. I'm sure she could be a very capable elected official, she is just not ready to be that close to the White House.

Is It Sexist To Want The Person Flying The Plane To Be A Pilot?

By Kathleen Reardon


Who's Flying The Plane?

With all this talk about Sarah Palin redefining feminism and people who don’t support her candidacy being sexist, I think we could use a little clarification.

Women’s progress at work and in government is critically important. We are not, after all, living in the Dark Ages. But, and this is a VERY IMPORTANT BUT, consider the following scenario.

You’re about to board a plane and a flight attendant says, "Today as part of our responsiveness to customers program you may choose Mr. Jones here as co-pilot. He will fly the airplane should something go wrong with the pilot, who isn’t at his best today. Mr. Jones has been a pilot for twenty years and has an impeccable record. He is, however, a man. Because you support the advancement of women in the workplace, we also have a woman here who is willing to fly your plane. She is not a pilot but she didn’t blink when asked to do this and for the past week a team of experts has been talking to her a lot about how to fly.

Who would you choose? If you chose Pilot Jones, would that be sexist? Or would you simply not be a complete idiot?

Apply this to Sarah Palin. She has not spent time in Washington as a senator or a congresswoman. She has spent most of her life in Alaska. From her interview with Charlie Gibson, it is clear that she is proud of not blinking about making decisions that affect millions of lives. And she is uninformed about the workings of the U.S. government.

Personally I’d have nothing against Sarah running for a seat in the House or Senate. It’s a reasonable next step. And were she blocked from this path because of her gender, disparaged and demeaned in the press, I’d be miffed for sure. That would be sexist.

But just because I’d like to go to NASA and tell them that by November I want to be an astronaut, doesn’t mean they should hand over the space shuttle.

There is far too much at stake to put someone completely inexperienced in the ways of Washington and the world so close to the presidency. There’s no excuse for it, really. John McCain should know that. That’s not sexist; it’s simply common sense."

Thought I'd share the link with you all. Huffington Post has some great writes. Please go buzz the story up if you like. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-reardon/is-it-sexist-to-want-the_b_126021.html

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sarah Palin Is Dangerous

It is no secret that I am an ardant supporter of Senator Barack Obama for the President of the United States. I knew he was the one in 2004 when he gave his speech to the Democratic National Convention. There was a certain charisma about him (the Republicans call this elitist, uppity, or exotic) that would cross racial, ethnic, religious, and even gender differences to bring about the change we need in America.

I, like others, watched with pride as he accepted the Democratic Nomination for President. I felt my father's spirit surrounding me and the great cloud of witnesses of my ancestors cheering on this country. It felt as if, in that moment, we would live up to our creed. I remembered the white men and white women I've met in the past year in my Kirkwood community who are working tirelessly to bring about change in this country. It is the reason why I know that Governor Sarah Palin is a danger to this country, to the lower 48 where the rest of us live.

One of my Mocha Mom sisters and friends forwarded an email to me with this article from an Alaska newspaper. It is telling. This is not what we need in the White House. And while yes, technically, Sarah Palin is a VP candidate, there is a very real chance she could be President given John McCain's advanced age, health issues, and the stresses that come with the job. She would be a heatbeat away from the highest office in the land and that is dangerous.

Alaskans Speak (In A Frightened Whisper): Palin Is “Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean”September 5, 2008 by Charley James

“So Sambo beat the bitch!”This is how Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin described Barack Obama’s win over Hillary Clinton to political colleagues in a restaurant a few days after Obama locked up the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

According to Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov. Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when the subject of the Democrat’s primary battle came up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates joined in appreciatively.“It was kind of disgusting,” Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said in a phone interview after admitting that she is frightened of being discovered telling folks in the “lower 48” about life near the North Pole.Then, almost with a sigh, she added, “But that’s just Alaska.”

Racial and ethnic slurs may be “just Alaska” and, clearly, they are common, everyday chatter for Palin.Besides insulting Obama with a Step-N’-Fetch-It, “darkie musical” swipe, people who know her say she refers regularly to Alaska’s Aboriginal people as “Arctic Arabs” – how efficient, lumping two apparently undesirable groups into one ugly description – as well as the more colourful “mukluks” along with the totally unimaginative “f**king Eskimo’s,” according to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed for this article.But being openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg.

According to Alaskans interviewed for this article, she is also vindictive and mean. We’re talking Rove mean and Nixon vindictive.No wonder the vast sea of white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it’s in their genetic code. So much for McCain’s pledge of a “high road” campaign; Palin is incapable of being part of one.

Tough Getting People Who Know Her to Talk

It’s not easy getting people in the 49th state to speak critically about Palin – especially people in Wasilla, where she was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a recording told me that “all circuits are busy” or numbers just wouldn’t ring. I should think a state that’s been made richer than God by oil could afford telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.On a more practical level, many people in Alaska, and particularly Wasilla, are reluctant to speak or be quoted by name because they’re afraid of her as well as the state Republican Party machine. Apparently, the power elite are as mean as the winters.

“The GOP is kind of like organized crime up here,” an insurance agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family, explained. “It’s corrupt and arrogant. They’re all rich because they do private sweetheart deals with the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And they will, if they have to.”“Once Palin became mayor,” he continued, “She became part of that inner circle.”Like most other people interviewed, he didn’t want his name used out of fear of retribution. Maybe it the long winter nights where you don’t see the sun for months that makes people feel as if they’re under constant danger from “the authorities.”

As I interviewed residents it began sounding as if living in Alaska controlled by the state Republican Party is like living in the old Soviet Union: See nothing that’s happening, say nothing offensive, and the political commissars leave you alone. But speak out and you get disappeared into a gulag north of the Arctic Circle for who-knows-how-long.Alright, that’s an exaggeration brought on by my getting too little sleep and building too much anger as I worked this article.

But there’s ample evidence of Palin’s vindictive willingness to destroy people she sees as opponents. Just ask the Wasilla town administrator she hired before firing him because he rebelled against the way Palin demanded he do his job, or the town librarian who refused to hold the book burning Walpurgisnach Mayor Palin demanded.Ironically, Palin was pushed into hiring the administrator by the party poobahs who helped get her elected after she got herself into trouble over a number of precipitous firings which gave rise to a recall campaign.“People who fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her enemies list to this day,” states Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla resident and one of the few Alaskans willing to speak on-the-record, for attribution, about Palin. In fact, Kilkenny actually circulated an e-mail letter about Palin that was verified and printed by The Nation.

For good measure, Palin booted the Wasilla police chief from office because, she told a local newspaper, he “intimidated” her.Running on Extreme Fringe Evangelical ViewsSarah Palin drew early attention from state GOP apparatchiks when, during her first mayoral campaign, she ran on an anti-abortion platform. Norma lly, political parties do not get involved in Alaskan municipal elections because they are nonpartisan. But once word of her extreme fringe evangelical views made its way to Juneau, the state capitol, state Republicans tossed some money behind her campaign.Once in office, Palin set out to build a machine that chewed up anyone who got in her way.

The good, Godly Christian turns out to be anything but.“She’s doesn’t like different opinions and she refuses to compromise,” Kilkenny notes. “When she was mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t hers. Worse, ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits but on the basis of who proposed them.”Sound familiar? Palin may well be Dick Cheney’s reincarnate.Something else has a familiar Republican ring to it: Her tax policies, and a “refund surpluses but borrow for the future” attitude.According to Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau, Palin reduced progressive property taxes for businesses while mayor and increased a regressive sales tax which even hits necessities such as food.

The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech actually benefited large corporate property owners far more than they benefited residents. Indeed, Kilkenny in sists that many Wasilla home owners actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for the shortfall. Two other Wasillian’s with whom I spoke said property taxes on their modest, three bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.To an outsider, it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time she moved away to become governor – especially since nothing was spent on things such as improving the city’s infrastructure or building a much-needed sewage treatment plant.

So what did Mayor Palin spend the taxpayer’s money on, if not fixing streets and scrubbing sewage?For starters, she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a matter of fact.Then Palin spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of taxpayer money for a sports complex that she shoved through even though the city did not own clear title to the land; now, seven years later, the matter is still in litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to at least half of the original estimated price of the facility.She also worked hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond proposal for roads that could have been built without borrowing.

Anchorage may not be the center of the financial universe but, like good Republicans everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan bankers and bond dealers.For good measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots.

Sarah Barracuda

En route to the governor’s igloo, Palin managed to land what Anne Kilkenny says is the plumb political appointment in the state: Chair of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC), a $122,400 per year patronage slot with no real authority to do anything other than hold meetings. She took the job despite having no background in energy issues and, as it turned out, not liking the work.“She hated the job,” an OGCC staff member who is not authorized to speak with the news media told me. “She hated the hours and she hated what little work there was to do. But she couldn’t figure out a way to get out of the thing without offending Gov. Murkowski” and the state Republican Party regulars, some of whom were pissed off they didn’t get appointed.But ever the opportunist, Palin quickly concocted a way.

First, she waged a campaign with the local news media claiming that the position was overpaid and should be abolished – despite the fact that she lobbied Murkowski hard to get it. Then, mounting what she saw as a white horse, Palin raised a cloud of dust by resigning from the OGCC and riding away with an undeserved reputation as a “reformer.”But when a loca l reporter dared to suggest that the reformer Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her fired.“She came at me like I was trying to steal her kids,” said the targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company in Anchorage.

“I heard she had a wild temper and vicious mean streak but it’s nothing like you can imagine until she turns it on you.”Not surprising since some of her high school classmates still openly call her “Sarah Barracuda,” Kilkenny insists.Still, as a Republican Party hack Palin managed to get herself elected running under the false flag of a “reformer.”And what did she bring to the job? No legislative experience other than a city council of a village of 5,000 people, which is smaller than some high schools in Chicago. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; after all, she needed to hire a city administrator to run Wasilla. No executive experience, except for almost being recalled as mayor. A philosophy of setting public policy based on one word: No.And what has she done since winning the job?

According to Kilkenny, nothing. Well, nothing other than suggesting the state’s multi-multi-million dollar, oil-generated surplus be distributed to residents and finance future state needs by borrowing money. Gee, doesn’t that sound precisely what George Bush did with the surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton in 2001 and we all know in what great shape Bush’s economic policies left the nation.It may explain why, when asked by reporters, including me, what she thought about Palin being picked to be McCain’s running mate, her mother-in-law replied with a sardonic, “What has Sarah done to qualify her to be vice president?”

Of course, when the woman – said by many I spoke with to be well-respected in Wasilla – was running to succeed Palin as mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her, so that may explain the family tension.As Governor, Palin gave the legislature no direction and budget guidelines, according to the chair of a legislative committee. But then she staged a huge grandstand play of line-item vetoing countless projects, calling them pork. “They were restored because of public outcry and legislative action,” the aide said. “She vetoed them mostly because she had no idea what they were or why they were important.”But it was enough to get the McCain, who is mostly unobservant of the world around him anyway, to think Palin has a reputation as being “anti-pork”.In fact, Juneau observers note that Palin kept her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork ladled out by indicted Sen. Ted Stevens.

She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be politically unwise to keep supporting it, these same insiders assert. Then, Palin fell back on her old habits and20publicly humiliated him for pork-barrel politics.As for being “ready on day one” to be commander in chief, despite the repeated public claims she’s made, the Alaska National Guard commander said that, “she has made no command decisions, other than sending some troops to help fight a few brush fires and march in parades at county fairs.”

“Sambo Beat the Bitch”“Palin is a conniving, manipulative, a**hole,” someone who thinks these are positive traits in a governor told me, summing up Palin’s tenure in Alaska state and local politics.“She’s a bigot, a racist, and a liar,” is the more blunt assessment of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two years ago and is now a businessman in Idaho.

This originally appeared on huffingtonpost.com and was emailed to the blogger. It is important to get the word out about Sarah Palin and the very real danger she poses to the great many Americans if she and John McCain are elected to office.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So What Do You Think Of All This?

After I spent the weekend casually talking politics and nursing a 23-year-old injury from a car accident, I asked a new friend what she thought of Sarah Palin. It was interesting to me to ask her because I am black, she is white, we are both mothers, we both live in the suburbs, we both stay home, we are both have daughters in elementary school, we both have a younger daughter who stays home, we both want change. Lori and I are planning to have coffee so I just asked her, "What do you think of all this?" Her answer was both interesting in her passion and informative of perhaps what other women think. She gave her permission for me to share her response, it is telling.

"I think that she's a mess."

I'm a horrible feminist, I don't follow the whole mold that a woman- a mother- shouldn't be held to a different standard than fathers. They should be! Even the best father's aren't mothers. There is no relationship in the world as important as the relationship between a child and it's mother. (I am supportive of gay men adopting or single fathers, but I do think that those children need a 'maternal' figure. And aunt or a grandma to help fill that void.. but I'm not sure it's fill-able. )
This woman is very ambitious, and I respect that, but you don't have five kids and then take on a job like Vice President. Her son is going to Iraq. Her daughter is pregnant. Her baby has Downs Syndrome. Mom to Mom.. it sounds like she has a full plate.
I personally think that when you have children.. you need to think of them over just about anything else. You brought them here. You have to help them navigate now. Three days after her baby son was born with a disability that will require lots of intervention she went back to work. Seriously? This is something she's proud of? I'm appalled.
I also really am fearful of the clip where on July 31st of this year she's on video asking what the actual job of the VP is. This makes me feel like it's another Bush appointment, where the appointee is not qualified for the job. Like Fema. It is scary when McCain is older and has had health issues in the past.
I think she's probably a nice woman who makes a good Gov. but she's not ready for prime time.
But like I said.. I'm not a feminist. and some women see her as an important milestone. I see Nancy Pelosi as that milestone. She is third in line for the presidency? Why is that not a broken glass ceiling? I think we underestimate that significance.
I also think Palin's appointment really damages some of the value of Biden's amazing debating power. Since ridiculously, any ferocity he shows in the debate will be woman bashing. (So much for equal rights, huh?) And that's a bummer cause he's sooo good at that.
Anyway, I'll climb off my soap box and save some for Coffee!"

I love Lori's response and her honesty. The Republicans think they can pull the wool over our eyes. Jack and Jill Politics speculates they are trying to pull an Alito on us (remember what they did with the Meir almost appointment to the Supreme Court and then allowed Bush to slip in an ultra-conservative, ultra right-wing judge). It had me wondering what they were really up to. Perhaps John McCain really doesn't want to be President or perhaps he just likes a pretty woman. Governor Palin has all of us wondering what is going on. As a mother, I wonder what she was thinking with her child and then putting her daughter out on front street. I work with teenage girls and know they fall into "group think" and pleasing their parents and really don't want to be embarrassed, talk about national humiliation for Bristol!

I have a daughter with a major illness that in part has been the reason I've been at home all her life. She is not as intense as a child with Down's Syndrome, but we have had our share of hospital stays, doctor's visits, and managing her diet due to her eosinophilic gastroenteritis. It is not an easy job to be a mom or a working mom and I've been both.

CNN is now interviewing the different pundits who keep giving the party line about Palin. I have my Masters of Business Administration and I've been through more rigorous interviews than what appears to be the quick pick of Sarah Palin. She is a heart-beat away from the Presidency and to me and a lot of people I've talked to, she just isn't ready. Now, the Republicans are doing their best to present the "ordinary hockey mom" as worthy of this highest office. She has been sequestered to get a crash course on foreign policy and what the job of the VP entails. She was on CNN early this morning doing her walk-through of the stage and podium with the older, male coaches behind her. Is this the image of a woman ready to lead the country? I wonder what other people think about this.

Sarah Palin gives her speech tonight. She has to appear presidential and lose her cute appeal. She has to speak to the Republican audience as an Evangelical, Assembly-of-God, stand-behind-your-man, no-sex-education audience of chauvinists. The party she seeks to be the second-in-charge is heavily white male dominated. Yes, she can shoot a major weapon and is a member of the NRA, but she has to really make her case. She has to ease the concerns of a country at near economic ruin with an unpopular war and sheer exhaustion of the last eight years of the message of fear.

The questions become beyond Sarah Palin. Should there just be one religion in America? This is the stance of the Republican Party and the far-right champions like Bill Bennett, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Pat Buchanan and the rest of the neo-cons that have been the school-yard bully to the rest of the nation. I've watched CNN, MSNBC, and the rest of the corporate-owned media to a song-and-dance primarily in favor of the right. The networks talk to the Republican pundits who say that Sarah Palin's daughter and her situation is a "private family matter" and won't even mention her Alaskan pastor who said anyone who disagreed with the war or the president was going to hell. Since when?

We can't be single issue voters. If my four-year-old daughter or soon-to-be seven-year-old daughter came to me in ten years and announced they were pregnant, I wouldn't put them on the national stage as poster children of family values. I would seek to shelter them, love them, counsel them, and guide them in making a decision that is right for them. Sarah Palin has put her daughter and her real-life "baby-daddy" out in the national media as evidence of how great a neo-con she is that she even had a Down Syndrome son and is even forcing her daughter to marry a self-proclaimed "redneck" who "doesn't want kids." Is that what we want for the rest of the country, are these the family values we want for everyone?

The same party that is supporting Bristol Palin is also the same party in 1992 that spoke forcefully against single mothers (remember Dan Quale and his attack on the fictional Murphy Brown's pregnancy). There have always been single mothers of every race and economic status. There have always been teenagers having sex, regardless of race or economic status. If we continue to not equip them, there will be more Bristol's who have tried to hide their pregnancy and whose sexual exploits are for the world to see.

Babies cost money. I can't imagine how this young girl's life will be impacted by the economic impact of her child. There won't be a senior prom unless her mom babysits, how can she do that and be the Vice President? College is still possible for Bristol, but can she do that as a married woman with a young child to a potential husband who isn't interested in higher education? What about the rest of the country? There are young girls who are trying their best to juggle high school and parenthood, many fail and drop out. The economic impact is felt regardless of race, religion, and economic status.

There are things that bother me about Sarah Palin beyond her home life. I agree that this is a private family matter, however, shouldn't that be the same standard for the Democrats? Senator Barack Obama was raked over the coals for his choice of pastor, yet Sarah Palin has been given a pass for her choice. Michelle Obama was wrongly, negatively, and crudely called a "baby mama" when Bristol Palin actually will be one. Where is the press on the calling of the double standard of the religious right? Where is the truth?

I work with a group of teen girls. I am also a Christian with a real-life, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. I cherish HIS love and the grace I receive from HIM daily. I know that I have made mistakes and will continue to do so as long as I have breath. I know that I am not above a transgression but I also know that I have an advocate in Jesus Christ. In knowing this, I know that no person is perfect. I remember being a teenage girl and the thrill of the first love. There were times in that Lake Michigan community that I thought the sun rose and set on a certain 17-year-old boy. My who world of 17 seemed entwined with his forever. Today, at 44, I have no idea where that young man is, I can't imagine being forced to marry him to save face for my pastor-father. My dad taught us family values and that it is important to have children in the security of a marital relationship. He supported us and educated us. He never told us about birth control but then I came of age in a different time than the kids today. Today, I told the teen girls I mentor about all the birth control and STD prevention methods available, beyond just telling them to not do it. Teenagers in the heat of passion are not always going to pull away and say no, it is hard for some adults to do that. It is better to equip them. Bristol's pregnancy and the abstinence-only education scares me because it shows she didn't use birth control and didn't use protection. What if her consequence wasn't pregnancy but a STD. What is she contracted HIV like Marvelene Brown did her first time of having sex without protection? It makes me wonder what they were thinking about and what message they are sending.

The message I want to hear is about the economy, health care, education, this war. It is not enough to just pick a woman and hope that I will choose her. There is a change in the air and November will show it. I just hope the young woman caught in the fray of all this will get the counseling she will need. It all makes me wonder.

Monday, September 1, 2008

So They Picked A Woman

Well, it is now old news that Senator John McCain chose Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. The secretive selection was leaked just before his planned news conference on Friday, August 29th. I said the same thing the rest of the country said, "what?" and "who?"

On Saturday, August 30th and Sunday, August 31st, this bit of news was masked with the news of Hurricane Gustav and the Republican National Convention being truncated so it wouldn't appear that they were having a "party" at the expense of New Orleans. In the midst of all of this, more and more news has come out about the unvetted candidate. It is both an insult and a joke that she could stand up to scrutiny, perhaps this is why she was slipped in under the radar.

Today, September 1st, I've read everything from her teenage daughter being pregnant with rumors that Palin's youngest son is actually her grandson. The questions fly about this far-right wing, Evangelical Christian, conservative Republican woman. Is it a case of "do as I say and not as I do" and that she wants these "family values" to be the values of the rest of America? For me, the answer is no.

Now, I was not a fan of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's negative campaign against Democratic Party Nominee Senator Barack Obama. Her historic run as a woman was shadowed by the ever-present stereotypes of race that really made me not like what she was up to in her excessively long campaign. Senator Clinton, like a lot of feminists, really didn't focus much on the needs or lives of women of color. Her position was one of privilege, white privilege to be specific, and didn't address the real needs of America beyond her "18 million cracks." Even in her negative campaign, Hillary Clinton restored my faith in her by proclaiming that the role call be ended and Senator Barack Obama be nominated through acclamation. She finally put her own desires aside for the greater good of the party and the country. She showed herself to be the seasoned professional, lawyer, and stateswoman that she is. Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton.

The Republican Party thought they could slip in a suburban, white woman and that the rest of America would fall in line since she wasn't "black." It is actually an insult to the white feminists that Sarah Palin could be a heart-beat away from the red phone. There is a resonate belief that the women who read Working Mother magazine are smarter than the pandering and downright sexism displayed by John McCain's choice.

Mainstream Media has never been friendly, for the most part, to people of color and certainly did their job on Barack and Michelle Obama, yet even they have to admit that the Republicans messed up on this one. The Nielsen ratings will be off-the-charts for CNN, MSNBC, and all the other news stations that were starving for the next hot news after the historic Democratic National Convention. The cable news channels will milk the Palin and the disaster-to-the-date of Hurricane Gustav. It makes me wonder if our politics and the issues surrounding the economy, education, health care, and the war have been reduced to 30-second soundbites. Have we collectively lost our critical thinking skills?

In the end, the media will wear everyone out with all the Palin news and comparisons. The pundits will talk and talk and talk. My local coffee shop was abuzz about the news on Saturday morning and I can just imagine what the talk entailed when Hurricane Gustav happened.

The country is better than the barbie-job John McCain tried to pull out-of-his-hat. I have to believe that thinking people will realize we are in deep trouble as a nation and while it would be great to have a woman in the White House, they messed up with this one. It takes more than just the same parts to make her appealing to the rest of us.