Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

wrestling with girls

My son, John wrestled in high school in the heavyweight division. He never experienced something that many of the guys in the smaller weight classes did - wrestling against a girl. One of the coolest things about high school wrestling in California is that anyone can participate and if need be, the rules are adjusted. John's team had a blind wrestler. The rules were adjusted so both wrestlers had to maintain hand contact with one another at all times. There was a wrestler with one leg. Both wrestlers began on the mat. Girls can wrestle as well and compete against boys. There are no changes in the rules. There were some girls who were very, very good. BTW, the photo is of Jazy Green, a high school wrestler from Santa Monica who competes at 103 pounds.

As you can guess, wrestling is an intimate contact sport and hands and body parts often touch in places and ways that under other circumstances would be very inappropriate. You could tell when a boy was wrestling a girl for the first time. As the match began, he would have a tentative look on his face, unsure where to put his hands. For a few seconds the girl had an enormous advantage. After the first time she threw him, he got down to wrestling and didn't worry about where to place his hands. After all, the rules were the same regardless of whether the opponent was male or female. If the girl is upset about having some strange boy touching her anywhere and everywhere, she shouldn't be wrestling.

I've been thinking about that as an analogy to Sarah Palin. So far, the press and the Obama campaign have seemed hesitant, unsure as to where they can place their "hands." They are acting as if the rules are different since she is a woman. And the McCain camp is pushing for a change in the rules as they ask for deference from the press corps and refuse to have Palin give a press conference. They are trying to institutionalize that momentary advantage and claim that any attacks against her are sexist. The reality is exactly the opposite. Campbell Brown got it right when she accused McCain of sexism. If Palin is going to compete at this level, she has to play by the same rules as the boys. That means she is subject to all of the same questions and critiques. If she can't answer the questions, then she ought to get off the mat.


As our economy implodes we have seen the results of the deregulation of the financial sector begun under Reagan. McCain is arguing for the same irresponsible behavior regarding healthcare.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

stupid things

I've done some pretty stupid things in my day. I'm sure my wife would refuse to share them but if forced, she could come up with a formidable list. This past week I did a whopper. We moved.

Now that doesn't sound like much but we had a wedding a month ago and I took time off to help pull that all together. We have a construction project at the church in a community where construction is always an exercise in frustration and more frustration. So in the midst of that, we purchased a condo... 35 miles away because that was the closest we could afford that we felt like we could live in. Because of everything going on, I only took off a day or two to get ready for the move and none afterwards (you're beginning to sense the stupid part right?). And my spouse's colleagues were on vacation so she had to work some extra hours. Then on Thursday at 3:10, I awakened to a kidney stone attack... which didn't pass until Monday. Of course, the Uhaul and everything else was reserved for Saturday.

So we moved our stuff (well... 98% of it) but we haven't had time to get settled in. We have only two chairs that are accessible in the new house, no television, no internet, no telephone, no place of respite. After a long day's work and a beautiful but still 35 mile commute, we're too tired to work on things and don't have much time anyway until we have to get up for the next day of work.

There is a good part too. Our beds are made. We have a vision of what might be... hopefully some day soon. And, we're homeowners in an area of the world we have come to love.

Still, moving without adequate time to prepare and to unpack is just plain stupid.

candidates on the economy

both candidates have responded to the economic mess with ads.

First Obama's

now McCain's

Here is a reader's response to both ads from Andrew Sullivan's blog.

Let me get this straight ... Obama's ad is two minutes in which he outlines, in broad strokes, his economic plan and points us to a site where we can read the plan in full. McCain's ad is 30 seconds of tough rhetoric without a word that says what he would do except "reform Wall Street" because he's "taken on tougher guys than this before".

And it's Obama's plan that's all talk?

Seems like Andrew's reader got it right. McCain is just macho posturing while at least Obama is giving broad strokes of what he would propose we do.

nuff said

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Moving Day

Today we're moving to Buellton ad joining the ranks of the commuters to Santa Barbara/Goleta

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Abstinence Only

Now that the McCain campaign is making such a big deal about sex education, it is important to think about it in a rational way. Al Franken likes to say that abstinence only education works... until it doesn't.

Well, here's the proof...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Why I'm More Afraid

One of the big reasons supporters are citing for John McCain is that he will be a better commander in chief and will keep us safer in the future. I don't think that is true. Indeed, I am afraid if John McCain becomes president that we will be less safe not more so.

here are a few reasons why I think that...

1. He presents himself as being truly unaware of the complexities of the world today. We all saw the news clip with Liebermann correcting him regarding the role of Iran in terrorism.

2. The most frightening piece of that is that he doesn't seem to see the difference between state actors and non-state actors and speaks as if they can be dealt with, excuse me, attacked in the same way. They cannot.

3. His hot temper just isn't the kind of temperament I want in a person who commands the military or especially one who has his finger on the button.

4. he has given up any moral ground that he held before. Read these words from Rabbi Rami Shapiro's blog, Toto, speaking about the Republican Convention... but the comment certainly reflects McCain's current stance
Rather than referencing John McCain’s war record as a sign that he would keep us out of war, rather than pointing to his brutal torture as proof that he would stop America’s use of torture; speaker after speaker glorified war and rumors of war. Rather than use the moral high ground to be moral, they used it to excuse the immoral.

5. He consistently paints the world in black and white, good and evil, us and them. It may play to his base but the real world just isn't that simple.

6. He seems ignorant of cultural and religious differences that are critical for dealing in constructive ways with the Islamic world, a world that is extremely diverse.

I don't believe that John McCain can build the coalitions that are required to work against non-state actors. I don't believe he trusts the power of our example over the example of our power. I don't believe he is able to get past a Cold War type understanding of the world.

sad but true

I'm not thrilled that Obama is running negative ads... but given the lies coming from the McCain camp, it is necessary to get the truth out there.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Truth and Lies

Now politicians often stretch facts or take their opponent's comments out of context for their own ends. Obama has done this. Anyone who heard McCain's comment that middle class begins at $5 million knows he was actually saying that he didn't want to raise taxes on anyone and that he wasn't really saying at income was the dividing line between middle class and wealthy. Still Obama has used that figure in his speeches.

But that isn't what I want to point out. At the RNC, there was almost no real policy discussion (compared with a little at the DNC) but there was a lot of outright lies regarding records. Here is an article from the Associated Press that points out some of the lies told from the podium at the RNC.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her credentials to be vice president. In some cases, the reproach and the praise stretched the truth.

Some examples:

PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."

THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."

PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."

THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."

THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.

Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.

He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.

THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.

THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."

THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."

THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.

And Palin is being portrayed as a fiscal conservative who cut pork and reduced the budget in Waslla and in Alaska... again not true

In fiscal 2003—the last fiscal year Palin approved the budget—the bonded long-term debt was $18,635,000. In fiscal 1996—the year before Palin took control of the budget—there was no general obligation debt. [Wasilla Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2003, Table 10]

I'm checking for the figures in Alaska, but I understand that similar changes took place in the state under her governorship.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Jon Stewart

After watching John McCain's speech last night, Cheryl said, let's watch Jon Stewart. I love Jon Stewart.