September 4th, 2008

barack obama


I have spent a great deal of time on the phone with my two sons discussing the political situation.  Jeff and I spoke last night, and Chris and I spoke this morning, on his hour drive to work.

Chris watched the convention and was furious which is why I didn't watch.  I have to take some precautions around my health.

I heard from another friend whose mother is starting to believe the lies that arrive in her mailbox each day, the lies about Obama. 

I realize the mail must be targeted.  I have never received one.

I found myself thinking of Buddha under the bodhi tree.   We cannot let "these people" get to us, or they really will have won.  This is about more than the election.   This is about our souls.

When I saw the advertising that Palin used for governor, I realized oil money sponsored her even then.   When Alan suggested that Palin was another Cheney, I was startled, but I see now that he is right.   This woman wasn't a surprise announcement to those in the know.  She is a calculated oil-interest choice and they are using religion and the religious right to promote her and we are sickened by the hypocrisy that lies are used to promote in the name of religion, but look at history.

We are trying to change the dog eat dog mentality that has existed for most of historical time.    What Barack Obama is trying to do is bigger than huge.  Let's support him, and in that support, be like the Dalai Lama and  Thich Nhat Hanh in how they responded to what was done to their countries, Tibet and Vietnam.

This is about Mara.

Wikipedia has this to say about Mara.

In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the "death" of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

The early Buddhists, however, rather than seeing Mara as a demonic, virtually all-powerful Lord of Evil, regarded him as more of a nuisance. Many episodes concerning his interactions with the Buddha have a decidedly humorous air to them.

I know we feel we are being attacked,.  Lies are being told, and it is for each of us to recognize this is Mara, and we can work as hard as is possible to get Barack elected, knowing that Mara is busily trying to distract.   We cannot sink into hatred or division.   We must acknowledge, welcome, smile and work like hell to get Barack Obama in the White House while we each work night and day to keep our own sanity, spirituality, goodness, love, and soul.  

I have decided to take a mental health day and spend this day in meditation and prayer.  I think we each need to take care of our own physical, mental, and spiritual health, and in that healing, the healing of the world can repair.  It may not be what we want right now, and it is for us to stay involved while also knowing we can't be thrown off our own truth and beliefs in the power of love, the right of truth.

barack obama

My fast is over -

I built myself up to listen and watch part of Palin's speech.  What I don't understand is why she can attack so brutally and she can't be touched.   It seems it would be sexist to suggest that a woman should not go back to work three days after having a baby, since a man can do so.  Well, I personally think it would be lovely to have both parents at home, but it is my understanding that the baby lives in the mother, and so there is an attachment that deserves some honoring when the baby pops out.

I believe in equal pay and equal rights for women, and that women are certainly as qualified as men, but to say that we are physically the same
is to deny the obvious.   A woman who carries a baby inside of her is hormonally affected, hormonally changed.

I don't understand why it is hands off Palin when she is like the attack dog from hell.  It wasn't hands off Hillary.

I also heard that the Republicans printed out signs in Spanish and made them look like they were hand-done.  They wanted to hand them out to Latino looking people in the audience but couldn't find them.  They did find a few "plants" for the press to interview and the planting was obvious, but now Latinos seem to think Palin is their answer.  Don't they realize this woman is not going to work to get them maternity leave when they have their babies?  Why do people vote against their own best interests?  

It is sobering and it seems the recommended remedy is to breathe, stay calm and enjoy the movement of breath, in and out.

Be generous with your inner sea, and enrich it with oxygen, hope, rest, and peace.

barack obama

Who needs the aid?

So Bush is going to punish Moscow for invading Georgia even though it suspiciously looks like we drew them over the line.

We are going to pay for a 1 billion dollar economic recovery package in Georgia.  Supposedly it doesn't include military aid, but we have been helping the Georgian military modernize and so "U.S. officials have said it is likely that more military assistance will be forthcoming at some point to help the badly routed Georgian forces rebuild again."

Naturally Moscow is angry saying we started it which many would say we did. 

Why would we antagonize Russia right now and why are we helping another country with economic recovery when our own is in such sad shape?   Oh, right.   The election.   Silly me!!

Book Cover

Douglas Rushkoff

Hate Party

by Douglas Rushkoff

I felt a bit nauseous watching the Republican convention last night. I’m very much a give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt kind of guy, so I try to listen to the arguments people make even when they’re made in over-the-top or patronizing ways. Sometimes it’s good to distinguish between the rhetorical devices and the underlying substance. Even people who use manipulative language sometimes have an important point beneath their persuasion techniques (ads against smoking, for example).

I usually don’t feel uneasy when I put those filters on, but last night - during the Guiliani speech - I realized I was no longer filtering a speechwriter’s intentional manipulation; I was trying to look beyond real hate. These folks were gritting their teeth, shaking their fists, and smiling the way gladiators do when going into combat against barbarians. And this is the incumbent party. The ones currently in power.

What is it they hate? Guiliani and Palin both made it pretty clear: community organizing. Community organizing is energized from below. From the periphery. It is the direction and facilitation of mass energy towards productive and cooperative ends. It is about replacing conflict with collaboration. It is the opposite of war; it is peace.

Last night, the Republican Convention made it clear they prefer war. They see the world as a dangerous and terrible place. Like the fascist leaders satirized in Starship Troopers, they say they believe it is better to be on the offensive, taking the war to the people who might wish us harm than playing defense. It is better to be an international aggressor - a bulldog with lipstick - than led by the misguided notion that attacking people itself makes the world a more dangerous place.

In their attack on community organizing - a word combination they pretended they didn’t know what it meant - Giuliani and Palin revealed their refusal to acknowledge the kinds of bottom-up processes through which our society was built, and through which local communities can begin to assert some authority over their schools, environments, and economies. Without organized communities, you don’t get the reduction in centralized government the Republicans pretend to be arguing for. In their view, community organizing as, at best, equivalent to disruptive and unpredictable Al Qaeda activity.

But it actually goes deeper than this. Consider how Republicans have so far justified their choice of candidate: he is a “great man.” That America needs a “hero” in the White House to lead us in continued preemptive strikes against Bin Laden in Iraq (I know Bin Laden is not in Iraq, but Giuliani clearly implied he was). Only a leader with McCain’s war record and paternal qualifications can help Americans muster and maintain the tenacity necessary to “drill baby drill,” (even though this will have no influence on oil price or supply) and generate the requisite hate to “kill baby, kill.” As I explained in Coercion, having a parent figure on whom to transfer authority allows people to regress to a more childlike state. This not only allows them to feel safe; if gives them the freedom to express their rage. Make no mistake - that’s what we’re witnessing. And this rage - not America - is the greatest threat to humanity’s long-term chances for survival.

Republican party representatives are proud today that their convention has finally produced the “same level of energy and enthusiasm” as the DNC’s last week. And while it may have produced the same level of excitement, the excitement was of a very different character. It’s much easier to get people riled up but inviting them to hate a man - particularly one who they haven’t been allowed to hate for traditional reasons. Giuliani’s job - much like his job as mayor of NYC - was to give the Republicans in attendance permission to hate Obama and the potentially intelligent society he represents. It’s not about city vs. country or educated vs. military. It’s about thought vs. violence.

In the black and white world of those committed to war as an international relations strategy, voting “present” makes no sense - especially when the Illinois legislative process is willfully misrepresented. (Voting present is a way to preserve the bill without passing it in its current state. Far from an easy out, it is the hard path - requiring further negotiation to remove earmarks and other problems.) They would prefer the simple relief of a “yes or no” world, where the evil are punished and the good rewarded. For in such a world, we get to know who the enemy is and just hate them.

I don’t believe hate is the best way to motivate people to develop long-term solutions to problems. It is a tried and tested way to motivate them to short-term support of dangerous leaders. That much is certain. But if McCain and Palin are able to rouse the national hatred they will need to actually win this election, I fear they will have unleashed a force that they will be unable to control.
barack obama

and here's Gloria Steinem -

I think Gloria Steinem has earned the right to speak.

Palin: wrong woman, wrong message

Sarah Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Hillary Clinton. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
By Gloria Steinem
September 4, 2008
Here's the good news: Women have become so politically powerful that even the anti-feminist right wing -- the folks with a headlock on the Republican Party -- are trying to appease the gender gap with a first-ever female vice president. We owe this to women -- and to many men too -- who have picketed, gone on hunger strikes or confronted violence at the polls so women can vote. We owe it to Shirley Chisholm, who first took the "white-male-only" sign off the White House, and to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who hung in there through ridicule and misogyny to win 18 million votes.

But here is even better news: It won't work. This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need. Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.
Selecting Sarah Palin, who was touted all summer by Rush Limbaugh, is no way to attract most women, including die-hard Clinton supporters. Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton. Her down-home, divisive and deceptive speech did nothing to cosmeticize a Republican convention that has more than twice as many male delegates as female, a presidential candidate who is owned and operated by the right wing and a platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for -- and that Barack Obama's still does. To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, "Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs."

This is not to beat up on Palin. I defend her right to be wrong, even on issues that matter most to me. I regret that people say she can't do the job because she has children in need of care, especially if they wouldn't say the same about a father. I get no pleasure from imagining her in the spotlight on national and foreign policy issues about which she has zero background, with one month to learn to compete with Sen. Joe Biden's 37 years' experience.

Palin has been honest about what she doesn't know. When asked last month about the vice presidency, she said, "I still can't answer that question until someone answers for me: What is it exactly that the VP does every day?" When asked about Iraq, she said, "I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."
She was elected governor largely because the incumbent was unpopular, and she's won over Alaskans mostly by using unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Now she is being praised by McCain's campaign as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Perhaps McCain has opposed affirmative action for so long that he doesn't know it's about inviting more people to meet standards, not lowering them. Or perhaps McCain is following the Bush administration habit, as in the Justice Department, of putting a job candidate's views on "God, guns and gays" ahead of competence. The difference is that McCain is filling a job one 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency.

So let's be clear: The culprit is John McCain. He may have chosen Palin out of change-envy, or a belief that women can't tell the difference between form and content, but the main motive was to please right-wing ideologues; the same ones who nixed anyone who is now or ever has been a supporter of reproductive freedom. If that were not the case, McCain could have chosen a woman who knows what a vice president does and who has thought about Iraq; someone like Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison or Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine. McCain could have taken a baby step away from right-wing patriarchs who determine his actions, right down to opposing the Violence Against Women Act.

Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.

I don't doubt her sincerity. As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., she doesn't just support killing animals from helicopters, she does it herself. She doesn't just talk about increasing the use of fossil fuels but puts a coal-burning power plant in her own small town. She doesn't just echo McCain's pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child. She not only opposes reproductive freedom as a human right but implies that it dictates abortion, without saying that it also protects the right to have a child.

So far, the major new McCain supporter that Palin has attracted is James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Of course, for Dobson, "women are merely waiting for their husbands to assume leadership," so he may be voting for Palin's husband.

Being a hope-a-holic, however, I can see two long-term bipartisan gains from this contest.

Republicans may learn they can't appeal to right-wing patriarchs and most women at the same time. A loss in November could cause the centrist majority of Republicans to take back their party, which was the first to support the Equal Rights Amendment and should be the last to want to invite government into the wombs of women.

And American women, who suffer more because of having two full-time jobs than from any other single injustice, finally have support on a national stage from male leaders who know that women can't be equal outside the home until men are equal in it. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are campaigning on their belief that men should be, can be and want to be at home for their children.

This could be huge.

Gloria Steinem is an author, feminist organizer and co-founder of the Women's Media Center. She supported Hillary Clinton and is now supporting Barack Obama.

Book Cover

Trust the force -

I am receiving emails that life-long Republicans are turning away, whole families are turned off by Palin and McCain.   It seems between the two of them there is enough offense for even the most loyal.

Wow!!    That helps get us through this night where Mr. Nincompoop makes his speech.

As Jon Stewart says, by the logic of John McCain as to what he gained from POW camp, Guantanamo is a Leadership Training School.  Who knew?

Keep the faith.   We overcome!!