Maine Writer

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My blogs are dedicated to the issues I care about. Thank you to all who take the time to read something I've written.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The New York Times - Palin's ABC Interview Visibly Scripted

Gov. Palin’s Worldview - The New York Times Editorial Published September 12, 2008

"...the first televised interviews she has done since she joined the Republican ticket was so visibly scripted and lacking in awareness."

As we watched Sarah Palin on TV the last couple of days, we kept wondering what on earth John McCain was thinking.

If he seriously thought this first-term governor — with less than two years in office — was qualified to be president, if necessary, at such a dangerous time, it raises profound questions about his judgment. If the choice was, as we suspect, a tactical move, then it was shockingly irresponsible.

It was bad enough that Ms. Palin’s performance in the first televised interviews she has done since she joined the Republican ticket was so visibly scripted and lacking in awareness.

What made it so much worse is the strategy for which the Republicans have made Ms. Palin the frontwoman: win the White House not on ideas, but by denigrating experience, judgment and qualifications.

The idea that Americans want leaders who have none of those things — who are so blindly certain of what Ms. Palin calls “the mission” that they won’t even pause for reflection — shows a contempt for voters and raises frightening questions about how Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin plan to run this country.

One of the many bizarre moments in the questioning by ABC News’s Charles Gibson was when Ms. Palin, the governor of Alaska, excused her lack of international experience by sneering that Americans don’t want “somebody’s big fat résumé maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment where, yes, they’ve had opportunities to meet heads of state.”

We know we were all supposed to think of Joe Biden. But it sure sounded like a good description of Mr. McCain. Those decades of experience earned the Arizona senator the admiration of people in both parties. They are why he was our preferred candidate in the Republican primaries.

The interviews made clear why Americans should worry about Ms. Palin’s thin résumé and lack of experience. Consider her befuddlement when Mr. Gibson referred to President Bush’s “doctrine” and her remark about having insight into Russia because she can see it from her state.

But that is not what troubled us most about her remarks — and, remember, if they were scripted, that just means that they reflect Mr. McCain’s views all the more closely. Rather, it was the sense that thoughtfulness, knowledge and experience are handicaps for a president in a world populated by Al Qaeda terrorists, a rising China, epidemics of AIDS, poverty and fratricidal war in the developing world and deep economic distress at home.

Ms. Palin talked repeatedly about never blinking. When Mr. McCain asked her to run for vice president? “You have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission,” she said, that “you can’t blink.”

Fighting terrorism? “We must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.”

Her answers about why she had told her church that President Bush’s failed policy in Iraq was “God’s plan” did nothing to dispel our concerns about her confusion between faith and policy. Her claim that she was quoting a completely unrelated comment by Lincoln was absurd.

This nation has suffered through eight years of an ill-prepared and unblinkingly obstinate president. One who didn’t pause to think before he started a disastrous war of choice in Iraq. One who blithely looked the other way as the Taliban and Al Qaeda regrouped in Afghanistan. One who obstinately cut taxes and undercut all efforts at regulation, unleashing today’s profound economic crisis.

In a dangerous world, Americans need a president who knows that real strength requires serious thought and preparation.
More Article


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maine's Governor John Baldacci Has More Experience than Governor Palin - So Does Senator Susan Collins - Comments from Colby College in Maine

Palin has less experience than Maine's Governor John Baldacci or our Maine city mayors - An Opinion Editorial from Maine's Kennebec Journal

By L. Sandy Maisel Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel 09/12/2008

Mr. Maisel is a professor at Colby College in Waterville, Maine

Didn't Sarah Palin give a great speech at the Republican convention? Aren't those stories about her daughter's pregnancy unfair? Hasn't she energized the Republicans? Isn't she charismatic, articulate, fearless? Won't she be a great running mate for John McCain? Won't she be a great vice president?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And absolutely not.

There's the problem.

The press has done an appalling job in covering Palin's nomination. McCain's choice -- far from being the act of a political maverick -- reveals crass political calculation and a frightening lack of judgment.

McCain's pick may be brilliant politically. But if it is, his success will come at the nation's peril.

Palin's nomination highlights the difficulty that politicians and journalists have in covering the campaigns of candidates who are personally attractive but whose performance does not match their appeal.

In an age of negative campaigning, but one in which candidate after candidate cries "Foul" in response to any criticism, how can a candidate expose legitimate flaws in an opponent without being charged with waging a personal, negative campaign?

Tom Allen faces that problem in running against Senator Susan Collins.

Collins is well liked, for good reasons. Her office has done terrific service for many citizens, as her ads point out.

But her record is not without flaws. Allen seems hesitant to take those on directly -- and he has asked independent groups campaigning against her, on her record, to cease their criticisms, because he does not believe such groups should be the ones to frame the campaign in Maine.

But Congressman Allen faces a dilemma. Since the Portland Press Herald, irresponsibly in my view, closed its Washington bureau, no one is left to give an objective assessment of the work in Washington done by our representatives and senators. Our electoral choice is thus compromised.

The case of Palin is parallel, only worse. Asked whether Palin was qualified to be president, McCain responded that the nation seems to love her, and they relate to her.

Is that a qualification to be a heartbeat away from the presidency?

McCain and the Republicans tout Governor Palin's experience. It is as if we were living the Hans Christian Andersen folk tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes."

She has no experiences that qualify her for this job. But it appears no one will say that directly to McCain. The media have allowed Republican spin on woefully inadequate experience to go unchallenged.

She was mayor of Wasilla, a town smaller than Waterville or Augusta, Maine. Does that qualify her to be president?

Think Paul LePage (owner of a Maine bread company) or Roger Katz -- with charisma.

Wait, at least LePage really runs a business and meets a payroll, far more experience than Palin has.

She is governor -- as McCain asserts daily -- of the nation's largest state. By size, not population. Alaska's population is about half of Maine's.

Think of Maine's Governor John Baldacci -- with charisma.

Only our governor has confronted much more difficult problems than has Palin. While other governors have had to pare programs and worry about the state of the economy, as the prices of gas and oil have risen, Alaska has benefited -- and Palin has been able to appear the hero.

She returned money to her citizens, because she has not had to worry about the Alaska state's budget. She knows one side of the energy problem. But there is no Palin program on conservation. She talks about alternative fuels, but her energy program in Alaska did not mention them.

In two years, there has not been a Palin education program, and Alaska's schools are among the worst in the nation. More than 100,000 Alaskans are without health insurance. She has not addressed the problem. The rate of teen pregnancy in Alaska is among the highest in the nation. She has opposed programs to deal with that.

When questioned about her national security credentials, McCain mentions that Alaska is next to Russia and that she has commanded the Alaska National Guard. McCain must know that when the National Guard is pressed into federal service, she cedes command-and-control authority. She has never made one decision with national security implications. Some interviewer should look McCain in the eye and say, "That doesn't pass the smell test!"

Palin got her first passport last year. She has not led overseas trade missions, as Governor Baldacci has. She is unprepared in every way for the international aspects of the job she seeks.

McCain should be faulted lack of judgment. It was not the inspired choice of a maverick, but a dangerous, politically calculated decision.

We deserve a better choice. Not a nicer person; a better choice.

L. Sandy Maisel is director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sexy Voices Soliciting Votes - Campaign Commercials

“I think the McCain folks realize if they can get this thing down in the mud, drag Obama into the mud, that’s where they have the best advantage to win,” said Matthew Dowd....(The New York Times 9/13/08)- see article below blog.

There's no end to the complaining about misleading messages in campaign commercials. Nevertheless, campaign ads continue to be the iconic images of each election. Whether it's the horrible lies about Senator John Kerry's Viet Nam War experience being tainted or the end-of-days imaging of a mushroom cloud in President Lyndon Johnson's commercial aired during the 1960's, there are simply no ethical benchmarks to measure the effectiveness of campaign commercials. They should be put before an ethics review board (ERB), just like other research projects. Unfortunately, the extraordinary money behind these contrived messages simply overrides reasonableness and good practice.

As low as these ads can go, the one I heard supporting Senator John McCain, using a voice over by a very soft spoken sexy lady, hits the rock bottom of the rotten barrel. This sex kitten voice over is the kind of seduction a person might pay bucks to hear on a 1-900 pornographic call made by a consenting adult; but please spare the well meaning voting public the double entendre in McCain's campaign ad.

For those delusional minions who swoon about Governor Sarah Palin and consider her as competent to be commander in chief; or those who overlook Sentor John McCain's reckless choice of Palin made for political gain - pleases listen up. Senator John McCain will not deliver. There won't be a sex kitten in every bedroom after this year's Presidential election - regardless of what the soft sex voice implies.

Rather, we need messaging to educate and lift the campaign rhetoric to inspirational levels.

Black voters are inspired when they see one of their own race, someone who would not be seated at most drug store soda counters 45 years ago, running for President of the United States. Likewise, this image inspires me to vote for him, the embodiment of the American dream.

But, lately, sexism has over taken racism as a campaign distraction.

Have you noticed how Cindy McCain wears deculte dresses when she stands behind Governor Sarah Palin? (It's like a take off from "The Music Man" - "Right Here in River City!") Mrs. McCain is a beautiful woman. It cheapens her classy image to wear such demeaning garments. Moreover, it's a double standard when Senator Hilary Clinton is criticized for the myriad of colored pants suits she wears, but not one word is mentioned about Mrs. Cindy McCain's revealing dresses. Say it ain't so - will people really vote based upon the subliminal sexual imagry? You betcha'!

So, what does Senator Barack Obama need to do to win against this sexual inuendo?

Are there enough reasonable people who will rise up against this low level of rotten campaign advertising, driven by sex and sexism?

Maybe, but maybe not. In retribution, given the nature of these low life ads, perhaps Senator Obama could use a very sexy man in his commercials - the kind of fellow every woman would love to invite to dinner. Would someone please suggest this tactic to Senator Obama? Although he's striving for truth, which he sometimes skirts as well as any politician, he might also look for a very sexy man to deliver his truthfulness.

By the way, Obama is nearly as good looking a man as the sexy voiced kitten is seductive.

In other words, it's okay with me if Senator Obama does more of his own voice overs, because he's pretty sexy just the way he is.

But, will Obama's message of change penetrate through the devious distractions and misguided imagery thrown at him in this year's election?

God willing Obama is our next President of the United States, maybe he will finally make campaign finance reform and ethics in campaign ads a public policy issue.

Check The New York Times article of September 13, 2008:

Harsh advertisements and negative attacks are a staple of presidential campaigns, but Senator John McCain has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth in attacking Senator Barack Obama’s record and positions.

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Check Point: Ad on Sex Education Distorts Obama Policy (September 11, 2008)

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Mr. Obama has also been accused of distortions, but this week Mr. McCain has found himself under particularly heavy fire for a pair of headline-grabbing attacks. First the McCain campaign twisted Mr. Obama’s words to suggest that he had compared Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, to a pig after Mr. Obama said, in questioning Mr. McCain’s claim to be the change agent in the race, “You can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig.” (Mr. McCain once used the same expression to describe Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health plan.)

Then he falsely claimed that Mr. Obama supported “comprehensive sex education” for kindergartners (he supported teaching them to be alert for inappropriate advances from adults).

Those attacks followed weeks in which Mr. McCain repeatedly, and incorrectly, asserted that Mr. Obama would raise taxes on the middle class, even though analysts say he would cut taxes on the middle class more than Mr. McCain would, and misrepresented Mr. Obama’s positions on energy and health care.

A McCain advertisement called “Fact Check” was itself found to be “less than honest” by, a nonpartisan group. The group complained that the McCain campaign had cited its work debunking various Internet rumors about Ms. Palin and implied in the advertisement that the rumors had originated with Mr. Obama.

In an interview Friday on the NY1 cable news channel, a McCain supporter, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, called “ridiculous” the implication that Mr. Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment was a reference to Ms. Palin, whom he also defended as coming under unfair attack.

“The last month, for sure,” said Don Sipple, a Republican advertising strategist, “I think the predominance of liberty taken with truth and the facts has been more McCain than Obama.”

Indeed, in recent days, Mr. McCain has been increasingly called out by news organizations, editorial boards and independent analysts like The group, which does not judge whether one candidate is more misleading than another, has cried foul on Mr. McCain more than twice as often since the start of the political conventions as it has on Mr. Obama.

A McCain spokesman, Brian Rogers, said the campaign had evidence for all its claims. “We stand fully by everything that’s in our ads,” Mr. Rogers said, “and everything that we’ve been saying we provide detailed backup for — everything. And if you and the Obama campaign want to disagree, that’s your call.”

Mr. McCain came into the race promoting himself as a truth teller and has long publicly deplored the kinds of negative tactics that helped sink his candidacy in the Republican primaries in 2000. But his strategy now reflects a calculation advisers made this summer — over the strenuous objections of some longtime hands who helped him build his “Straight Talk” image — to shift the campaign more toward disqualifying Mr. Obama in the eyes of voters.

“I think the McCain folks realize if they can get this thing down in the mud, drag Obama into the mud, that’s where they have the best advantage to win,” said Matthew Dowd, who worked with many top McCain campaign advisers when he was President Bush’s chief strategist in the 2004 campaign, but who has since had a falling out with the White House. “If they stay up at 10,000 feet, they don’t.”

For all the criticism, the offensive seems to be having an impact. It has been widely credited by strategists in both parties with rejuvenating Mr. McCain’s campaign and putting Mr. Obama on the defensive since it began early this summer.

Some who have criticized Mr. McCain have accused him of blatant untruths and of failing to correct himself when errors were pointed out.

On Friday on “The View,” generally friendly territory for politicians, one co-host, Joy Behar, criticized his new advertisements. “We know that those two ads are untrue,” Ms. Behar said. “They are lies. And yet you, at the end of it, say, ‘I approve these messages.’ Do you really approve them?”

“Actually they are not lies,” Mr. McCain said crisply, “and have you seen some of the ads that are running against me?”

Mr. Obama’s hands have not always been clean in this regard. He was called out earlier for saying, incorrectly, that Mr. McCain supported a “hundred-year war” in Iraq after Mr. McCain said in January that he would be fine with a hypothetical 100-year American presence in Iraq, as long as Americans were not being injured or killed there.

More recently, Mr. Obama has been criticized for advertisements that have distorted Mr. McCain’s record on schools financing and incorrectly accused him of not supporting loan guarantees for the auto industry — a hot topic in Michigan. He has also taken Mr. McCain’s repeated comments that American economy is “fundamentally sound” out of context, leaving out the fact that Mr. McCain almost always adds at the same time that he understands that times are tough and “people are hurting.”

But sensing an opening in the mounting criticism of Mr. McCain, the Obama campaign released a withering statement after Mr. McCain’s appearance on “The View.”

“In running the sleaziest campaign since South Carolina in 2000 and standing by completely debunked lies on national television, it’s clear that John McCain would rather lose his integrity than lose an election,” Hari Sevugan, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said in a statement.

At an event in Dover, N.H., a voter asked Mr. Obama when he would start “fighting back.” Mr. Obama, who began his own confrontational advertising campaign Friday, said, “Our ads have been pretty tough, but I just have a different philosophy that I’m going to respond with the truth.”

“I’m not going to start making up lies about John McCain,” Mr. Obama said.

The McCain advertisements are devised to draw the interest of bloggers and cable news producers — but not necessarily always intended for wide, actual use on television stations — to shift the terms of the debate by questioning Mr. Obama’s character and qualifications.

Mr. Sipple, the Republican strategist, voiced concern that Mr. McCain’s approach could backfire. “Any campaign that is taking liberty with the truth and does it in a serial manner will end up paying for it in the end,” he said. “But it’s very unbecoming to a political figure like John McCain whose flag was planted long ago in ground that was about ‘straight talk’ and integrity.”

The campaign has also been selective in its portrayal of Mr. McCain’s running mate, Ms. Palin. The campaign’s efforts to portray her as the bane of federal earmark spending was complicated by evidence that she had sought a great deal of federal money both as governor of Alaska and as mayor of Wasilla.

Ms. Palin has often told audiences about pulling the plug on the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, an expensive federal project to build a bridge to a sparsely populated Alaskan island that became a symbol of wasteful federal spending. “I told Congress, ‘Thanks but no thanks’ for that Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska,” she said this week in Virginia.

But her position was more like “please” before it became “no thanks.” Ms. Palin supported the bridge project while running for governor, and abandoned it after it became a national scandal and Congress said the state could keep the money for other projects. As a mayor and governor, she hired lobbyists to request millions in federal spending for Alaska. In an ABC News interview on Friday with Charles Gibson, Ms. Palin largely stuck to her version of the events.

Disputed characterizations are not uncommon on the trail. At a campaign stop this week in Missouri, Mr. McCain said that Mr. Obama’s plan would “force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.”

Jonathan B. Oberlander, who teaches health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that Mr. Obama’s plan would not force families into a government-run system. “I would say this is an inaccurate and false characterization of the Obama plan,” he said. “I don’t use those words lightly.”

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Dover, N.H.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A World View Many Americans Ignore

Obama win preferred in world poll

People outside the US would prefer Barack Obama to become US president ahead of John McCain, a BBC World Service poll suggests.

Democrat Mr Obama was favoured by a four-to-one margin across the 22,500 people polled in 22 countries.

In 17 countries, the most common view was that US relations with the rest of the world would improve under Mr Obama.

If Republican Mr McCain were elected, the most common view was that relations would remain about the same.

The poll was conducted before the Democratic and Republican parties held their conventions and before the headline-grabbing nomination of Sarah Palin as Mr McCain's running mate.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says the results could therefore be a reflection of the greater media focus on Mr Obama as he competed for the presidential candidacy against Hillary Clinton.

The margin of those in favour of Mr Obama winning November's US election ranged from 9% in India to 82% in Kenya, which is the birthplace of the Illinois senator's father.

On average 49% preferred Mr Obama to 12% in favour of Mr McCain. Nearly four in 10 of those polled did not take a view.

On average 46% thought US relations with the world would improve with Mr Obama in the White House, 22% that ties would stay the same, while seven per cent expected relations to worsen.

Only 20% thought ties would get better if Mr McCain were in the Oval Office.

The expectation that a McCain presidency would improve US relations with the world was the most common view, by a modest margin, only in China, India and Nigeria.

But across the board, the largest number - 37% - thought relations under a president McCain would stay the same, while 16% expected them to deteriorate.

In no country did most people think that a McCain presidency would worsen relations.

Oddly, in Turkey more people thought US relations would worsen with an Obama presidency than under Mr McCain, even though most Turks polled preferred Mr Obama to win.

In Egypt, Lebanon, Russia and Singapore, the predominant expectation was that relations would remain the same if Mr Obama won the election.

The countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve ties were US Nato allies - Canada (69%), Italy (64%), France (62%), Germany (61%), and the UK (54%) - as well as Australia (62%), along with Kenya (87%) and Nigeria (71%).

When asked whether the election as president of the African-American Mr Obama would "fundamentally change" their perception of the US, 46% said it would while 27% said it would not.


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The US public was polled separately and Americans also believed an Obama presidency would improve US ties with the world more than a McCain presidency.

Forty-six per cent of Americans expected relations to get better if Mr Obama were elected and 30% if Mr McCain won the White House.

A similar poll conducted for BBC World Service ahead of the 2004 US presidential election found most countries would have preferred to see Democratic nominee John Kerry beat the incumbent George W Bush.

At the time, the Philippines, Nigeria and Poland were among the few countries to favour Mr Bush's re-election. All three now favour Mr Obama over Mr McCain.

In total 22,531 citizens were polled in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the UAE and the UK. A parallel survey was conducted with 1,000 US adults.

Polling firm GlobeScan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes carried out the survey between July and August.

Story from BBC NEWS


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Who is the New John McCain? Blog Response from Don in Madawaska, Maine

Hi Juliana, (September 3, 2008)

I've been a registered Independent since I first registered to vote over 40 years ago.

Two years ago I would have voted for McCain over anybody else. But that John McCain is AWOL. This new McCain is Bush-lite. It is really quite an odd thing to witness - a principled and honorable man publicly and shamelessly selling his soul for power.

This new McCain has made what I think is a most cynical political choice in selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate. As if women are simple-minded and single-mindedly sexists.
It is also quite an irresponsible choice, given his age and his health. This is not something the John McCain of only a few months ago would have done. It's very sad, disappointing and disillusioning.

It is also quite disturbing that tough questions concerning Palin's qualifications will not be addressed. This, too, is incredibly cynical and, at the very least, anti-American.
And all this while declaring war on Michelle Obama. It is beyond hypocrital.

And it also demonstrates a disturbing lack of respect for the first amendment that the new McCain seems to answer all questions by spouting talking point after talking point.
And it does not bode very well for a free press in this country that we are so easily cowered and manipulated by political operatives.

I am trying to watch the Republican National Convention on TV but I keep switching back and forth between it and America's Got Talent because I cannot bear the hypocrisy of the GOP speakers promising to balance the budget and blaming the Democrats for the deficit. They are promising affordable health care and now they're also Green, of all things. The crowd is eating it up. What's wrong with those people? Where have they been for the past 8 years? So, I'm switching back and forth because I just cannot take the bs in bigger doses. America's Got Talent is really stupid but at least the freaks are sincere.

It's almost as if the GOP has absolutely no sense of irony.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Haiti - Americans Must Act and Care About What Happens to Haitians

See one comment below:

The Jerusalem Post is headlining the tragedy of floods caused by Hurricane Hanna in Haiti. Where is the American mainstream media on this story? They're no doubt watching election polls.

Dateline Jerusalem Post and Associated Press September 6, 2008

"Floods caused by tropical storm Hanna claim 529 lives in Haiti
By Jerusalem POST STAFF AND Associated Press

Death tolls reached 529 in Haiti, as more bodies were discovered on Saturday when Hurricane Hanna flood waters continued to recede.

Hanna weakened to become a tropical storm after hitting Haiti.

UN peacekeeping troops began handing out food and water to famished Haitians on Friday after the first shipload of aid sailed into a crumbling port on the outskirts of this flooded city, where tens of thousands were stranded in the wake of Tropical Storm Hanna.

But the respite was expected to be brief. Hurricane Ike, a dangerous Category 3 storm, was forecast to pass just north of Haiti on Sunday. Even if Haiti avoided a direct hit, Ike was almost certain to bring rain to the fertile Artibonite Valley, whose rivers funnel into Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city, and the surrounding flood plain.

On Friday, the European Union promised US$2.85 million to provide storm victims with food, water, shelter, basic medical care and household equipment."

Americans are so consumed with news about us, the "US", and are therefore media-oblivious to the enormous tragedy happening to people living poverty in our hemisphere.

Now Hurricane Ike is likewise going to affect these same desperate Haitian people.

Can Americans do as least as much as the European Union, by reaching out to these afflicted Haitian people with money, health care and emergency food?

Hopefully, America will quickly rise above our political angst right now, to care for the poor vulnerable people in a suffering Haitian population.

And, we must pray for them to have the strength to endure.

Response from John in Salem New Hampshire:
Dear Julie,
You might want to check the Catholic Relief Services web-site for what CRS and its partners are doing in Haiti and elsewhere.
Peace in the Lord Jesus,
John, SJ

Thanks to John, I found this helpful information from:

"With more than 50 years of experience in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services is now one of the largest U.S. humanitarian organizations working in the country. Our annual budget of about $20 million makes the Haiti program CRS' largest country program in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Serving some 200,000 of the poorest and most marginalized Haitians, our projects provide assistance with health and nutrition, education, water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS, agriculture, peacebuilding and migration."

Labels: Haiti, hurricane


Friday, September 05, 2008

Change - A Clarion Call for Who?

This year's presidential election may be one of those times when Americans must decide if they really want change. There couldn't be a clearer or more visual choice for Americans to make, if we're really intent on change.

Looking retrospectively at the concept of change, it's easy to see when it happens, what the key catalysts were, the clarions for the causes where change meaningfully occurs.

It's "a day that goes down in infamy" clarion call of Franklin Roosevelt or "the torch has passed to a new generation" of John F. Kennedy, and, of course, "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King. It's easy to see it in retrospect - you can point right to it - "that's change". In the Bible, it's the angels who set the stage for change. They arrive just before something unbelievable happens - like the nativity or meeting the Apostles in the tomb of Jesus after the Crucifixion and a new religion is formed.

But, when so few Americans today understand history, or can even define what they mean by change, it's completely impossible to transcend these pivotal moments of the past into a sense of future. We need a clarion call for the future.

I believe Sarah Palin became that clarion call for the Republican Party. Think of her unqualified candidacy what you will, as I have, but she's now the angel of change for the Republicans. Unfortunately, her clarion call is one of regression. "Let's change. We need to become more like me!," she seems to screech to me in her hammering speeches (she doesn't give interviews yet, so we don't really know what her real voice sounds like). Is that change? Well, for the millions of people who think Sarah Palin is just like them, they must want change to be like vanilla ice cream - predictable and refreshing.

Democrats, obviously, have their clarion call in Barack Obama. He represents youth, intellect, a face for the world to look at and say, "he looks a lot like me", because, after all, most people on the earth do, look a lot like him.

So, when American voters go into that polling box on November 4th, 2008, they will enter a very low profile cubicle which hardly stands up to a day of intense in-and-out traffic. Nevertheless, by the stroke of a simple pencil, an act performed in a humble square stand up box, they will collectively create a profound statement about change.

And the clarion choices for change are:

(1) A vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, who, like the Old Testament Sarah, wife of Abraham, gave birth to a son in her old age, and will bring new life to the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln; or

(2) A Presedential candidate Barack Obama who, when elected, will lead our idealistic American nation into being an energizing change agent for the world - because, he looks a lot like all of us to the entire world. He represents the fullfillment of The American Dream.

Well, Americans don't vote, or much care, for what the world thinks. It's a problem we need to change, because the world simply isn't about "us" in the US anymore. Rather, Americans must learn to become universal change agents, supporting a world of peace and prosperity, consistent with our core American values supporting freedom, love of God and self worth.

Meaningful change, however, always begins with the the youth. This year's primary election rallied hundreds of thousands of young people who actually registered to vote. Of all the socio-economic demographic groups in any generation, it's the youth of their time who absolutely "get it", when it comes to change.

And, I believe, Barack Obama looks a lot like them.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Friends Send Comments - John in Salem New Hampshire

Never before have I received more comments than the ones in response to Governor Sarah Palin's pick by Senator John McCain to be his unqualified vice-presidential nominee. (Check blog "Palin is a Karl Rove Trick")

Indeed, I qualify Ms. Palin's choice for Vice President.

It's my blog and that's how I really feel.

Some friends, however, don't agree with my zealous outrage.

John in Salem New Hampshire had several thoughtful comments he permits me to post here:

September 3, 2008:
Dear Julie,
You really are rather harsh in calling her (Palin) a Karl Rove creation. No, I think that she is a John McCain choice. He is not a big fan of Rove, nor Rove of McCain. McCain admits that he often makes quick choices and then lives with the consequences. That is refreshing for neither George W. Bush nor Ronald Regan would admit that they were ever wrong, let alone want to bear the consequences of their mistakes.
You are right in saying that she is quite under qualified to step in if McCain should die in office. On the other hand, she is not some bimbo or Barbie Doll. She is what she is, a one-term governor of a rural, but rich, state, a mother of five and a wife, and a reformer in the McCain mold. As the Europeans say, anything is an improvement over Bush/Cheney.

September 4, 2008:
Dear Julie,
Given the church that she (Palin) attends and one of her statements, she probably is a creationist. That is sad, but as long as she doesn't foist that view on others, she is not dangerous. I don't think that McCain would take that position. As far as her being a secessionist, the reports that I have read say that it was her husband who was part of such a group, not her. Surely you wouldn't want a woman to be tarred by her husband's mistakes, would you?
Right now, I may find myself in the same position that I did four years ago, which is that there is no one that I can support for president. Do we kill a million unborn or do we kill 100,000+ Iraquis, let the poor go hungry and the uninsured die early, and reward greed and lies? What is the lesser of two evils? As an American, I an insulted by the choices that I have. We have a Republican party that is sold to the business and military industrial powers, and we have a Democratic Party that is sold to business interests, to certain unions, and to post-modern morality. Where are the Eisenhower, Scranton and Rockefeller Republicans? Where are the Jimmy Carter, Bobby Kennedy and George Meany Democrats? I wish that I were in Pennsylvania where at least I could vote for Bob Casey, Jr. for senator (actually not for another four years).
Peace, John

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Duty of the Free Press - Patriotism

John McCain whined all over the media today about the harsh treatment he says his unqualified vice presidential running mate is receiving. This candidate is a sympathetic figure who is intent on running on stereotypes rather than on the merits of her experience.

Is this the media's fault?

I believe it is the media's moral obligation to uncover all there is to know about Ms. Palin because this is exactly the same and equal treatment all other candidates received, especially Hilary Clinton. So, Ms. Palin, if you want to be equal to all other women, then stand up and take the heat like a Mrs. Clinton.

In countries less free with rampant censorship of the press, journalists find places to hide out for the sake of getting to the truth. Think of the French Resistance during World War II and other brave journalists who risked their reputations and lives for the sake of truth. We need journalists to ask Ms. Palin the right questions.

My two questions are these. (1) Did Ms. Palin engage in supporting a secessionist movement in Alaska? and (2) Is Ms. Palin a creationist - person who believe God created the world in 7 days?

Can somebody in the free press please tell me how to get Ms. Palin to answer those two questions?

If Hilary Clinton had participated in a secessionist sect as First Lady of Arkansas, would it be something the media would investigate? If Hilary Clinton were a creationist, would she be drilled about her views? Hell, yes!

So, forget about sexism. We're talking about equality here.

It's the responsibility of all the media, including all bloggers, liberals, conservatives, independents, socialists and creationists, too,- to ask the tough questions. Most important, it's John McCain's job to stop whining but, instead, tell us why he should be president of the United States and how qualified he believes Ms. Palin is to take over his job in the event of his death while in office.

A leader of patriotic intentions should care enough about America to leave a competent succession plan for the country he loves.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Independent Voter - Responds from New Jersey - Giving Thoughtful Consideration

To Julie from Al, Esq., in New Jersey:

I am registered with one of the two big parties, but I think I vote
independently. I think I am one of those independents, who are mentioned in
the media as being important to the outcome of elections.

I was concerned about Obama's lack of experience. I wondered
whether he just made a good calculated guess in saying he was against the
Iraq war at the outset or really wise. I analogized his taking that
position to the doctor who writes "boy" in his chart when he sees his
pregnant patient but tells her it will be a girl. Then when the baby boy is
born and the patient questions the doctor, the doctor says, "I didn't say it
would be a girl; I said it would be a boy. I even wrote that in my chart."
If it was a girl, the patient would happily say, "My doctor said it would be
a girl!" If the war had been swift and successful, would it have mattered
what Obama had said early on?

Then this past summer Obama came out against releasing oil from the
reserves when both McCain and Clinton said oil should be released to deal
with the oil prices. I began to think that Obama is a wise man and the
position he took on the Iraq was not a lucky guess.

I watched his entire speech (actually the re-run at 2:00 am because I
had fallen asleep on the couch waiting for the speech to come) and thought
he did a superlative job in all ways. I pretty much decided that I will
vote for Obama, barring something crazy (I am still an independent).

I don't think the political pundits know anything. 50 out of 50 (not 38
or 42 out of 50 . . . all 50) said that Dewey would beat Harry Truman. The
Chicago Tribune even printed the results that way after the voting was
fairly complete. But Harry won handily. It was not a result of sitting
back and waiting for the election. It was the result of campaigning
tirelessly, giving 10-12 speeches a day to everyday people.

That's what Obama has to do. His thoughtfulness, wisdom, clear thinking,
forward thinking, apparent leadership ability, ability to inspire, etc. will
shine through.

My biggest problem is with the notion of national "guaranteed" health
care. It is too complex a matter for the federal government to mandate to
all. I am very concerned about the cost. I wish it were otherwise, but if
everyone has a "right" to health care, is it the Chevy version or the
Cadillac version? Everyone thinks its the Cadillac to which they would be
entitled. But Cadillacs are very expensive.

I like Obama. I am concerned about the Democratic party. Not that I
like the Republican party either. I like the good candidates. Not the
parties, I guess.

No pollsters have asked me yet what I think about the candidates.



Monday, September 01, 2008

Winning Elections by Not Making News

Let's get the real issue into the news!

Today's CNN web page (Sept. 1) runs a startling news story about how Senator Barack Obama received no bump out of the hugely successful Democratic National Convention in Denver CO. This astounding fact was backed up by a CNN poll of about 897 people with a margin of error or about 3 percent.

Obviously, I was flabbergasted by this fact, as I hope everyone who kindly reads this blog is, as well.

What could cause such a phenomenon? By most all accounts, Senator Obama's acceptance speech in Denver's Invesco Mile High Field received high marks. Likewise, his choice of Senator Joe Biden to be his competent and experienced Vice-Presidential running mate is getting equally high marks. All good news, but apparently not good enough.

Political differences notwithstanding, I submit the way to win this year's Presidential election is to make no news at all.

If the 897 people in the CNN poll are right, the race for the White House is again "neck and neck", despite Senator Barack Obama doing everything right.

Is it possible many of those in the massive television audience who watched the Senator's acceptance speech were really tuned in to watch him fail?

Is it possible it was not the historic moment, rallied by Senator Obama, who spoke about patriotism, using the word "America" compulsively counted XXX number of times?

Rather, this lack of "bounce" suggests, to me, many viewers were led to watch because they were driven by bigotry, looking for a mistake, something to hang their opposition hats on, other than their own racism.

Let's stop this conversation for the sake of not making news. If Senator John McCains' 72 year age is not an issue because it's simply "old" news; if Senator John McCain's history of repeat episodes of melanoma are no longer issues because, apparently, some think he will escape the fatal statistics associated with this cancer; if the choice of Governor Palin who leads a state with a population of less than 700,000 people and cuts taxes because, in oil rich Alaska, she can; and if succession to the role of Commander-in-Chief is not a newsworthy issue - therefore, and therein - I respectfully submit - to win an election in 2008 the candidate must make no news at all. Because, news presents facts which clearly threaten people who cannot make informed decisions outside of ideology.

If Senator Barack Obama must be perfect to maintain a voter lead while Senator John McCain maintains his base by making mistakes, then we should just get the news stories out of the way of ideology. Let's save every body's time and oodles of money by simply marking off the calender until November 4th.

On the other hand, thoughtful people, like you reading this blog, obviously believe in debating unfiltered information and the evaluation of a candidate based upon performance.

Let's ask our colleagues who don't share our views to explain their reticence about Senator Obama's candidacy, based upon facts? They can't.

I'll bet the reason is bigotry. It's a brutal conclusion.

Therefore, I suggest Senator Obama should simply stop making news. It's a safer road less traveled, but one seemingly at work for John McCain who languishes in the bushes, while Senator Obama rides heroically into the sunset, praised but saddled with the weight of bigotry.

If we are to look back on the 2008 presidential election, without a Supreme Court intervention (please God!), and say - "Senator Obama did everything right", but still came up short -then I say, it will be a victory for bigotry.

This sad news simply can't prevail.

G. K. Chesterton said "It's not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong".

Let's get the bigotry concept into the news; and standby to see who can accept Chesterton's challenge.