Friday, February 29, 2008

My Brownie leader stole cookie money

Mea Culpas are obviously required here. I must confess at the age of seven my Brownie troup leader either lost or misappropriated funds from the Girl Scout cookie sale.

I only bring this up because it is obviously a black mark against Barack Obama that his church was audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Opps.

I must admit when asked to run for a low level political position I said no because of some of my more age appropriate behavior (and decade appropriate - if you can remember the 60's you didn't do them) in my college days. It had not occurred to me that the behavior of people I knew would be called into question as to my fitness to serve and country commissioner.

This is beginning to sound an awful lot like the McCarthy hearings which my mother made me watch: "History in the making." Not ever wanting to run for office after watching that debacle - not the proudest of moments for the United States - I never screened my acquaintances as appropriate for my future political aspirations.

I admit I never found out about my Brownie leader until much later. Had I known at seven I have a real picture of the discussion with my mother. "I'm not going to the meeting." "Why ever not?" "I just feel she is not an appropriate role model for my formative years, Mom."

I was often accused of having a smart mouth and I doubt that dialog would have helped. I did stop going to my Girl Scout troop meetings when in high school. I was the only Democrat in the group and it was just really uncomfortable to attend as my mother was Democratic Precinct leader and very pro J.F.Kennedy. One of those girls in the troop had a child out of wedlock after being raped. Does that count against me? Or should I say I stopped going because she was not a good example? Must I denounce and reject her and our former affiliation as members of the same scout group?

And if Obama is to be condemned for belonging to a church that filed its taxes wrong what about Hillary being married to a unfaithful husband that lied about it.

I really do think I could bring something to public office but no way am I even going there. I wonder how many other able and talented leaders are out there which are being excluded not just because of youthful transgressions but the transgressions of friends and organizations?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is this our last chance for a woman president?

Now that my tax preparation is over I can get back to paying attention to the political races. We seem to have sunk from the silly season to the dirty season in the few days it has taken me to gather up my expenditure records and order them for my CPA.

Strange things have been happening. McCain says he had no idea who was introducing him. Or what the loose cannon was going to say. That would not be the politic thing to do. It is my understanding that everyone that speaks for a candidate is thoroughly vetted and told expliciatly what they can and cannot say. So he said what they told him to say so John could look grand with his apology? Maybe.

And frankly how involved is a candidate with his middle name? He didn't have an option at the time. Here here are a lot of Jesus's and even a few Jesus Cristo's but I am not about to assume they are willing to die on the cross. And New Mexico was the land of hippy communes so we have a plethora of Stars, Moons, Crystals. Have their parents ruined any chance they have of running for president in the future? My middle name is Marie. Would I be associated with the French Marie Antonette should I chose to run for public office?

But the one slimy campaign tactic which upsets me the most of late is that this is our one and only chance to elect a woman as president. And if we do not vote Hillary in now we will never get another chance to vote for a woman. This seems to be forwarded through many Hillary supporters as why all us women should support her and not Obama. Sorry but I just don't buy that. Not voting for Hillary does not mean I am against having a woman as president. Just this woman at this time.

I don't like that we are getting two for one. I think the world has changed a great deal since Bill held the office. And I believe too much of her energy would be taken up by shooing Bill out of the room. Hillary also has a few of the negatives I don't like to see in a woman in power - be it CEO or President. She can be shrill and domineering. There are times the derogative word Fishwife springs to mind.

And I wanted a woman as president because I thought they would bring a greater sense of humanity and compromise to the office. I do not see either of those qualities in Hillary. Especially since she is willing to let her campaign play the sex card. And she let Bill play the race card. She just does not reflect my values. Or the values I would like to see in a President of this country.

Monday, February 25, 2008

There has to be a better system

The weather has won and I have given up on the thought of getting over the mountain to get paint to work on the studio. My alternative is taxes. My CPA wants my records by March 1.

Artists in my experience are seldom organized but I because of my head injury may be worse. And this year with the building of the studio is horrendous. I know because it took me all morning to just assemble all the receipts and files and past records on the folding desk in the studio.

I am probably my CPA's worst nightmare this year. I am on Social Security Disability, I have income from a rental unit which this year I did a major redo on, the art business with mega loses this year, and the studio built in part from withdrawing retirement funds. It is all way beyond me doing my own taxes even with all the new computer programs out there. So I pay someone to do it for me even though my net income this year is probably well below $25,000. So why do taxes have to be this difficult?

And why are none of the current candidates talking of an easier and simpler way? Except Ron Paul if he is still even running. Ralph Nader announced he was yet again running (is he being paid by the Republicans to pull votes away from the Democrats) because there are not issues being addressed. YES. Everyone seems to be addressing character assassination and not what the electorate really wants addressed.

There is the Tax Code and the unfair taxes on the middle class. And not a single candidate since Bill Richardson bowed out has addressed the abuse of the west with taking our water and energy and using us as a dumping ground for spent nuclear fuel. He was also the last person to mention ending no child left behind which has resulted in a 40% drop out rate in our state.

And have you noticed they are for comprehensive immigration reform and no border security when in a state with a heavy Hispanic vote but for enforcing our laws when addressing those that want us to be a nation of laws for all applied equally?

How about equal taxation? Fair taxes. Easy taxes. Wasn't this what started the Revolutionary War? Maybe it is time for another.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We are electing an attitude

In the early 1970's I worked for a United States Senator in Washington, D.C. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life and the most educational.

Senator Charles Goodall of New York was appointed to fill the remaining term of Senator Robert Kennedy. He got the office and the staff that Kennedy had built. They were a dedicated and intelligent group of youth who and followed Kennedy's lead for change. Had he lived and been elected president they would no doubt have been on his presidential staff.

In those years leading up to the embarrassment of having a leader of our country resign because of crimes against the country I had two examples of what is good and what is bad in government. Goodall listened to his staff and Nixon dictated to his staff.

There is no way any one person can know every aspect of every issue facing a state as large as New York or Illinois or Texas let alone the United States of America. There are those that would argue we have become so large and diverse we would function better as a federation of nation states. The only way to attempt to do what is best for this country is to listen to trusted advisers that have at heart the good of the citizens of this country. To do that you need to have an open mind and an ability to inspire, not rule.

Our present president wants to rule. It is his way or the highway. He listens to only those few advisers he refuses to replace regardless of the advise they give him. And I am not that sure if at the moment he listens to them. We do not need another eight years of someone that is so damn sure they are right that they argue with everyone about everything.

Now more than ever in the history of this country the leader needs to listen. Listen to the woes of the citizens, listen to the division in our country and the world, listen to other world leaders, listen to scientists and educators, and come to a decision about the direction to be taken and inspire the congress and the people of this nation to follow him or her.

We need someone that can build consensus, rally the various factions to work together, and open dialog with the enemies created by G.W.Bush. The days of leaders like Teddy Roosevelt is gone. There is no San Juan hill to be charged up. We need leaders with a predisposition to listen and negotiate and change if necessary or change the opinions of the electorate if that is necessary. We need leaders that can pick staff and advisers for their intelligence and knowledge; not for their ability to click their heels and salute.

The primary process is meant to be difficult and prolonged. some say it be nice if we could all vote in a national primary on one day, but would we have learned enough about those running in that short time? Our primary system stresses our candidates so we get to see how they behave under pressure. How their staffs behave under pressure. How well everyone works as a team. If you cannot make nice with your opponent how can you negotiate with a potential enemy to avoid a war. Bombing them, with words or weapons, is the easy choice. Reducing everything to a one liner like Flip Flopper is taking the easy way out. We want and need someone this time around that cannot only talk and inspire, but listen and find common ground.

We are not seeking a Republican or Democrat, woman or man, white or black. We are seeking a leader with the right attitude; one that is well aware they do not know everything.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just Mean-spirited

My brother and I had a lot to learn as children about Good Sportsmanship. We fought like cats and dogs regardless of the result of the game. Dad would rush in and tear up the source of the fight be it a Monopoly game or Scrabble board. "If you cannot lose with grace," he would say, "then either don't play or learn not to lose." I chose the former with my brother who was the world's worst winner. He gloated. He was just a mean-spirited person.

I arrived at that decision after a childhood of watching him. He narrated his Ping Pong games like a sports caster, never lost with grace, never congratulated you on a game well played, or acknowledged your victory. He always gloated over his wins, and would rub in his opponent's mistakes for days. Maybe that is why politics make me cringe. And why I can no longer embrace Mrs. Clinton.

Yes, I have blogged here about how Obama has given me hope again but I felt that regardless of which Democratic candidate won I could fall behind the party as opposition to John McCain and another eight devastating years under a Republican administration. But I have to say that I find Hilary just plain mean-spirited. She did not last night, as tradition dictates, come to the mike and acknowledge her opponent's victory. And her negative ads are every bit as bad as we can expect from the Republicans in the campaign for the Presidency. This leads to not only the polarization of our country into Red states and Blue states but into those for and those against the Clinton machine.

But what does this mean-spiritedness say about our country? Nothing good. More of the same as another mean-spirited politician; G.W. Bush. If I was the leader of another country I certainly would not want to play with the United States just like I never wanted to play with my brother. We used to be good sports. What has happened to us? Do we want to win so bad we cannot be nice? Or do we see this behavior on the part of our leaders and follow their example?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Political Roller Coaster

Been watching the political pundits dissecting the latest moves in the very complicated political process we have here in the United States. I was reminded that I began this series of political blogs to attempt to explain the politics in America to my blogland friends in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. And in the process I have learned more than I think on retrospect I wanted to know.

I have discovered for instance that there is nothing democratic about the primary process. There are attempts on the part of both parties to make it look more democratic but it really has not gone that far from the old smoked filled rooms of the 1800's except that they are not allowed to smoke anymore.

The puppeteers in the back rooms are almost visible in the Republican campaign. McCain starts using Bush's words and phrases and he comes from behind, Romney challenges with non-Bush policies and gets asked to step out of the race if he wants to position himself with the party in 2012. I even wonder if Huckabee is being asked to stay in and fight to make it look like the registered Republicans might have once had a choice . And as McCain heads to Texas to be endorsed by the senior Bush as the anointed successor you wonder why they even bothered to put on the show. And didn't the pundits say just a few months ago that being endorsed by any Bush would be the kiss of death?

Not meaning to pick on the Republicans only because I doubt there is any more democracy in the Democratic primary process though they made a more convincing show of things. But it is fairly clear they have lost control. Right about now they were suppose to be crowning another Clinton but the people actually got out and voted. Democrats across the nation are turning out for primaries and caucuses and are joined where allowed by independents. Hilary is clearly pissed. Someone in some room at some time told her she was a shoe in and now some of the rats (the super delegates) are fleeing the ship.

All this reminds me of standing in line to ride a roller coaster. My sister and I used to be junkies. You get off the roller coaster and immediately rush around to get in line again. The ride is under five minutes and the line can be that or 10 times that. You get more time to study the line than the ride. Everyone starts out really giddy. Lots of chatter and laughter and kidding around in line. And the closer you get to the front the quieter it gets.

If you have taken the ride before you know what is coming. You know you survived. You liked it well enough you are here again. And yet . . . there is this sense of anxiety. Is this the time the cars jump the track? The track collapses under the weight of too many trips by too many people? The drive mechanism jams and you are left suspended upside down in one of the loops.

Will the whole political process come to a bone shattering halt in mid loop? Have the men behind the scenes lost control and will they try to regain it. Or has something unique happened for once in my lifetime and the people will actually get a say in how it goes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Return to Hope

I was channel hopping last night. I was really watching CBS with NCIS but I was also interesting in American Idol in small doses and wanted to catch the results of the Beltway Primaries. In one of my hops I caught part of Barack Obama's speech on hope.

It quite frankly brought tears to my eyes for a whole wealth of complicated reasons. First, it has been entirely too long since I had any hope that the United States could be saved from the path it has been led down. Hope was first fostered in my during the Kennedy years and was totally decimated by his cruel death. Let's face it there was nothing inspiring about Nixon unless you were in league with the dark side.

The Clinton years re-kindled some of that Kennedy era hope but Bush totally trashed it. Bush was not just the death of hope but the death of the middle class dream and our country as a shining example of hope. And it was the death of public speaking; replaced by the five second sound bite generally trashing someone else that does not agree with him.

So when I chanced upon Obama's address last night I lingered. I remembered when I first saw him deliver the nominating speech at the Democratic convention. And I was spell bound by his message of hope for not merely the young people of this country but all of us who have lost hope. I was so enticed with what he was saying that after they cut away to McCain I went to CNN's website and watched Obama there.

Up to this point I really did not have a dog in this hunt. I wanted a Democrat over all else and I really did not care which democrat it was quite frankly. And when it got down to Hilary and Barack I found myself split. Part of me really wanted to vote for a woman for president but she kept failing to totally enfold me into her camp. Just when I thought I could rally around her she would act shrill or peevish or send Bill out to do the dirty work. And while she is capable of public speaking she always seems a bit over rehearsed.

Maybe last night I just wanted to believe in something or someone so bad that I was going to fall for the first image thrust before me but I think not. It was a good speech and quite well delivered. I am thrilled this morning that he leads in delegates. But I am very scared the political machines of Clinton and McCain will again crush this fragile flower of hope. That would be so sad.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Am I being forced to support religion?

First let me say I live in an area where there is no television reception by any other means than satellite. And I basically have choice of two providers: Dish or DirecTV. So there is no such thing as free television for me. Just to get local news (local being 3 hours from here) I have to pay for television. And the way I see it I pay twice: Once with the subscription fee and once by all the commercials I am subjected to.

That bothers me to begin with but there seems to be nothing I can do about it. I don't even have good radio reception. I have been, however, more upset with the packages I am forced to pay for. In order to get Turner Classic movies which I do watch I have to get seven ESPN channels I never watch. In order to get the Discovery channels I am forced to get all the kid channels which as a senior citizen with no kids are totally not me. I think there should be a "Woman's Package" or even a "Senior Woman's Package" that has all the history and discovery channels and Lifetime and all the old movie channels like TNT and Hallmark, but no sports and no Disney channels. My complaints and pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

But the most recent turn of events has made me look seriously at subscribing to satellite television at all: Religious channels. Yes, some will say just don't watch them. The same thing I do with kids and sports channels. But I basically believe in kids and sports. I do not believe in these religions (now up to 9 on my programing package). And yet some portion of the money I send to DirecTV every month is going to these religions to support their broadcasting of their beliefs which I do not believe in. I looked at changing my package and even cut some costs but the cheaper package actually has more religious programing.

Is this a violation of my freedom of religion of my choice? Or a violation of separation of church and state? I am currently considering deleting television from my life entirely and getting all my news from the Internet.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

It's not over until it's over

In the state of New Mexico due to the heavy turn out for our Democratic Caucus all the votes are not even totally counted yet. Hillary and Barack are currently running at 48% each. They are almost as close nationally. Hillary went into Super Tuesday 60 delegates ahead and Obama narrowed that margin.

While on the Republican front McCain may be announcing he has the Republican nomination wrapped up but he is also in a position where he may be forced to talk Huckabee into being his running mate.

Hillary and Barack essentially battled to a draw with several more state primaries ahead; several of which Barack is leading in the polls. It is basically too early for any candidate for President of the United States to crow. But I was struck last night about the differences in the two parties process for the primaries.

One: The Democratic caucuses and primaries relied on paper ballots so that there would be a physical proof of how the people voted and allow for a paper count. The Republicans on the other hand chose to continue to rely on the paperless computerized voting machines that the previous elections have proven can be manipulated with a cell phone in the hands of a hacker within 30 feet of the machine. And there is no paper trail. So do we really know that McCain won? He is the candidate most espousing the "Bush Views."

Two: The Democrats allow for a splitting of the delegates roughly along the popular vote for each state while the Republicans are winner take all. Win that state by one vote and you get all their delegates. Even if this works perfectly (and there is no cheating at the polling places) this means the Republicans are wanting to please only those states with the most delegates. Like Bush the Republican nominee will be the president of only a small group of the citizens of the United States.

I am however encouraged after yesterday by two things: We the people voted in record numbers. This was especially true of the Democrats. And among the Republicans of the Evangelicals that turned out to vote for Huckabee. The other thing I found encouraging, oddly enough, was the exit poll.

I had never been involved in one of these before. They have a selection process for which precincts are so polled. And they ask more than just, "who did you vote for?" I found taking the "short survey" helped me to see my own reasons for how I voted. And watching ABC and CNN last night where the results of this poll were used in various ways I was able to see that it is through this poll many voting in minority (or even the majority) will have a voice for the direction of the campaigns as they move forward.

It is not over by a long shot. Next big voting day is February 9th with more primaries. Some primaries are as late as April. McCain may have it sewn up before the nominating convention for the Republicans but it does not look like the Democrats will have a clue. And that is good. It means more of our voices will have to hard, more of our opinions considered if they want our votes in the general election November 2008. If they don't there is always going Independent.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday 2008

Yes, I know it is Mardi Gras. I am planning to wear a costume and my beads to the Democratic Caucus site this afternoon. The big thing for me today is that it is Super Tuesday and my one chance to cast a ballot I know will be counted.

While Super Tuesday is the closest thing the United States has to a national primary only 24 states will be having a primary or caucus today. New Mexico has had a Democratic caucus only since 2004. I voted in the first. My candidate won the caucus and the nomination. Still in my community it was a fascinating process.

There was (and I am told still will be) a ballot box like they show you in all the replays of Iraq elections. And in 2004 we had 1/4 page ballots that had been printed off quickly. I have been told they are more formal about that this year, and that several people who have already withdrawn from the race will still have their names on it like favorite son and Governor of our state - Bill Richardson, and Senator John Edwards. If I knew the outcome of this primary I might just vote for one of them as a statement that because of our broken political system the good guys lost.

But enough sour grapes. This is the one part of the entire 2008 Presidential election process when I am sure my vote will be counted. I know it was not counted in the general election of 2004 because to be sure there was a paper trail I cast an absentee ballot to avoid using a computerized voting machine with no back up systems. The absentee ballots were never counted because of the spread in the electronic votes which could never be recounted. We are one of the states where it is considered vast voting irregularities (spin-doctoring for cheating) occurred.

The Democratic caucus results will be few this year and representing probably the southern part of our state because the northern part is under a continued Winter Storm Warning. Rio Arriba County had five feet of snow yesterday with more falling today. They are one of the heavily Democratic counties that in the Presidential election of 2004 some 75% of those voting supposedly did not cast a vote for president. Lucky Bush.

Getting out into the designated voting site in nearby Angel Fire may not be easy because snow is coming down at a furious rate but I will make every attempt to do so. I will be watching to see if the Republican run county gets out the snow plows to make it possible for us Democrats to cast a vote.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Sad State of Affairs

I have been searching my memory for where my cynicism in the political process began. Probably with the Warren Commission Report. I had visited the plaza in Dallas where President John F. Kennedy's life was ended. I had stood there and stared up at the Texas Book Depository window where Oswald had aimed his rifle and I knew as a hunter I would have taken the shot before the car bearing the President turned UNLESS I had been told to wait until the car was equal distance between me and another shooter.

Watergate only strengthened my belief that the people of the United States did not count. I was living in Washington, D.C at the time and working for various Senators and organizations trying to end the war in Vietnam. I had my telephone bugged. I left the capital and vanished into the New Mexico high country and withdrew from political participation while I watched the Watergate hearings. Could the political process redeem itself? No, because Nixon resigned, Ford pardoned him and people were allowed to believe he was their hero still.

Then came hanging chads, the Supreme Court shortcutting the election process, the Presidential "election" of 2004 with major vote discrepancies and no paper trail. I have absolutely no faith that the votes I cast are ever honestly counted. I have no faith that whomever I finally decide to vote for in the Democratic Caucus this Tuesday will not be bought and paid for by the time they reach the White House - or if they will even be sworn in if the majority of the citizens of the United States cast votes for them.

I am afraid that G.W. Bush will in fact cancel the election because of security reasons and continue to destroy the United States for another two years under marshal law (as if we have not been really close to that the last six years.

And I know I am not the only person with this lack of faith in politics or this fear of the supporters of an egomaniac. What to do? Continue to vote and see if our votes are counted? Continue to voice our opinions and see if anyone actually pays attention? Or rise up and reclaim our country? Or move and become an expat?

I will vote this Tuesday in the Democratic Caucus here in New Mexico but I have not faith in my vote being counted or it making a difference. That is a sad state of affairs.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A kinder and gentler political season ahead?

I watched the most recent Democratic debate between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama and was pleased that it was not the bitter slug-fest of the Republican event the day before. Does this mean a more civil political season ahead? Or will the Republicans again resort to the soap commercial tactics of the Bush campaigns with their spin lines like flip flopper?

I would certainly hope not. It paints a bad picture of the United States political process around the world and turns off all potential voters. Not that they are not already turned off by the illegal operations of the Republicans in the last two elections.

If our politicians can strike a higher note with a civil debate the least we can do is demand a fair and uncontested election process even if that means allowing United Nations poll watchers. We would all feel better if there was a paper trail, no hanging chads, no Supreme Court intervention, and no disputed results. How about we all behave like adults?

Let's ban cellphones and all electronic devices within 100 feet of our polling places. No computer polling machines without a paper trail for verification of the results. And my personal favorite: No television commercials within the last week of the campaign. Let's all have a week of commercial silence in which we can consider all the information we have already garnered about the candidates.