Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween in Hancock

(Please scroll down for the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge.)

Hancock loves Halloween. Almost every kid is accompanied by a parent or both parents. Some Moms dress up too... no fathers that I saw dressed up, but plenty of fathers were out with their kids, which I thought was great. I think I probably had about 70 kids come to the door. All cute and sweet. Photos leave a lot to be desired, but I thought you might enjoy them anyway.

Some parents dress up too...

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 37

This is week 37 of the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works.

Ok... got distracted by Halloween.... twice.... lots of adorable trick or treaters here. I have no idea what I wrote. Think I got all the words in. I hope so. Trick or treaters are still coming in dribs and drabs and I have company as well, so I'm a touch distracted. As always I left it until the last minute completely forgetting to factor Halloween into the equation. Yikes. I'm to blame for next week's words. Week after, I'll use up what's left from donations from Melli and Chatty. As always, I'm looking forward to reading all the creative brilliance that's out there. You are all just awesome.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: squeaky toy, perpendicular, olives, shanty, howling at the moon, soul, bow and arrow, uniform, statistics, praying mantis Mini Challenge: glamour, rocking chair, cormorant, objective, symbolism

My ten-word offering for this week:

Rover Drover Party’s Over, dog among dogs, stood howling at the moon, his favorite squeaky toy – a huge plastic praying mantis - at his feet. Although his estate was not palatial – was in fact a mere shanty with barely perpendicular walls of decidedly un-uniform size, he had a good life. His human, Bart, was a poor but honest pizza delivery man, a kind soul with a generous heart and a peculiar gift for statistics. Among other things, he could tell you the number and percentage of olives used per pizza and the percentage of each kind of pizza he delivered. Tonight he had changed from his pizza shirt into his hunting uniform – mufti and a bow and arrow. This was the one aspect of his human’s life that Rover Dover did not approve of… Hunting was anathema to him. Luckily, Bart had no talent for actually killing anything, could barely shoot and never realized that his dog’s moon song was not a celebration of their adventure so much as an early warning to his fellow creatures to make themselves scarce.

And here's my mini challenge:

It was hard to think that the crone-like old woman sitting in the rocking chair looking as much like a hungry cormorant as anything else, had once been a symbol of glamour and beauty. Although not the most objective observer, the symbolism of this decline was not lost on Hannah Smith, who had always known her mother’s beauty to be only skin deep – or not even that – simply a mass illusion to those who chose not to see the meanness of spirit that even make-up, fancy clothing and jewels could not mask to anyone who looked carefully.

And the mega challenge:

Actress Amanda Bunting was furious. She was a star, an important person, a woman of glamour and prestige… and this place, this, this… place was virtually a shanty, not the 5-star hotel she had been promised. Who ever heard of perpendicular blinds in a 5-star hotel?? “Hideous,” she screamed, “get me the manager.” And I hate the color. Didn’t my agent tell you that I could bear nothing in olive green? And what’s with all this nature crap? I hate nature. Bad enough the painting of the wolf howling at the moon, but a cormorant and a praying mantis!!! Who picked this hell hole? Whoever they are they’re fired. Oh, and I hate rocking chairs too. Make it go away. It’s all about symbolism, she ranted on. The objective of this whole trip is to enhance my image, not make me look like some deer loving, bow and arrow toting nature girl. Get me out of here now and into some posh suite with staff in uniforms. Check the statistics and find out where the five most popular actresses stay when they’re in town. Go! Now! Or you're all fired. You're all fired anyway." And then as though another person had taken over her body she turned to the small dog which had sat quietly on her side and simpered in as baby-talky a voice as opposite the shrew who had just been ranting as possible… "Pooky pup, my little squeaky toy, come to mama… You are my heart and soul you little sweetums boy… Here’s your toy baby… fetch… ooo mama loves you”

This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: oodles of noodles, Empire State Building, turmoil, aluminum foil, naval lint, posh, pixie, termite, gander, tendonitis

“Take a gander at this,” Mavis bellowed, elbowing Lois violently in the ribs. They were standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and what with Lois having a fear of heights, she resented even more than usual, Mavis’ tendency toward violent expressions of her excitement. “What!” she snapped, expecting some ridiculous observation about termites or posh frocks as Mavis called anything she thought she couldn’t afford. Lois gritted her teeth remembering long tedious conversations about everything from the virtues of Oodles of Noodles as opposed to Cup O Soup, to the uses of aluminum foil. And they had once discussed - at great, great length - whether or not there really was such as thing as naval lint. Trying to control her inner turmoil Lois stood poised for another nightmare conversation and wished she was anywhere but here with Mavis, kind, irritating Mavis who would do anything for anyone, who was kind to the core, and who was beyond a doubt the most boring and infuriating person Lois had ever met. Yet Lois loved her in spite of this and that was why, despite sore feet and severe tendonitis she had agreed to an “adventure” in the big city. “Mavis, dear, I’m so tired. Can’t we go somewhere and have a cup of coffee or something?” “Lois, quick!” The elbow was there again. “What IS it, damn it?” Lois snapped, her tiredness getting the better of her. “Just LOOK, would you, before it goes away?” “Before WHAT goes away?” “The pixie!” Mavis all but shrieked. “The pixie?” Lois rolled her eyes to heaven. Even for Mavis, this was a bit much. But then she turned and there, as real as the ache in her bones, was a tiny winged being, hopping on one foot and doing what Lois imagined was the fairy version of swearing. Without thinking, Lois whispered gently, “May we help you?” “Don’t talk to it,” Mavis whispered nervously. “But it’s hurt…” “Can we help you small being?” she asked again. She had decided on small being because stare as she might she could not determine whether the wee creature was male or female. The creature stopped hopping at that and looked at her intensely. “Kind of you to ask… Not many of your kind would, you know.” “My kind?” “Humans, don’t ya know,” “Oh, yes, I see. Well, I would imagine the opportunity doesn’t come up very often, though, “ Lois felt a need to defend her species. “Well, I suppose you’re right about that,” the creature agreed. “But still it was a generous gesture.” “Well, you seemed like you were in pain.” “Indeed I was. Sprained my wing, don’t ya know.” “Not really. I don’t know much about wings. How did you wind up on the Empire State Building? “Wind tunnel,” the creature replied. “Then I lost my bearings. You are quite kind. I think I must reward you.” “Oh, no, that’s not really necessary.” Mavis was nudging her in the ribs again. She was just starting to say something when the pixie her gave a quick wink and a little smile. “Ouch!” Mavis shrieked. “She won’t do that again,” the creature laughed and was gone. “Thanks,” Lois smiled. It was the perfect gift. “Let’s have that cup of coffee, Mavis.”


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: France, cold weather, backhoe, light and shadow, Humane society, ambivalent, “Happy Birthday, Sarah Jane,” Martians, Thanksgiving Day Parade, green eyes

Mini Challenge: she’ll be comin' round the mountain when she comes, pumpkin pie, yellow jacket, short-changed, life after 50

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Maybe My Last Politican Rant

Less than a week now and all the votes will be cast. Barring unforseen circumstances, this will probably be my last political post until election day or afterwards.

I do have to say one last thing about the nature of this campaign. I know there have been worse campaigns in American history but not lately. I don't agree with the McCain Palin philosophy of life but that isn't my biggest problem with their campaign. It's that they haven't run a campaign on the basis of their differences. They have campaigned on slander and hate and lies. Some of those lies, alas, are sticking in part because people are easily swayed by fear and by ways to rationalize racism. What gives me hope about this country is that they haven't stuck as much as they might have. Still, my next door neighbor said to me yesterday that she doesn't like McCain, but she's anxious that Obama has hung out with terrorists. Makes me want to scream. Makes me want to cry. If Obama wins, for some people the lies that have been thrown will continue to stick to him. For many, the "us and them" idea of America will continue to simmer. In a time of crisis, when the nation needs to pull together, Obama has campaigned on his ideas and hopes for all Americans. McCain has campaigned on smear tactics and distortions of the truth, and the idea that some of us love this country more than others. I don't expect anybody's mind to be changed at this point in time, but this ugliness has troubled me more than almost anything else. The fact that it has had so much traction is sad and troubling. The fact that it has not taken hold as the GOP hoped it would, gives me hope that America has crossed a bridge. I hope so.

Some things I'd like to see for the future in this country:

* I think it's time to eliminate the Electoral College. Stupid system in the current century.

* I'd like to see a return - I don't know how it can happen - to a news media that is impartial, informed and researches and reports with reason and impartiality. I think that the state of our news media is one of the greatest dangers that democracy faces. The fact that a non-story, like ACORN has gotten so much traction, while the greater threat of caging and disenfranchising voters gets much less significant coverage, though it is in fact the significant threat. A media which has acted in many ways as a mouth piece for gossip and slander is a danger to us all.

* I'd like to see an end to using hate, fear mongering and deceitl to manipulate people.

* I'd like to see a restoration of the law, the constitution and America's ethical compass.

* I'd like to see criminal trials for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and others who have done devastating harm here and abroad and broken dozens of ethical and constitutional laws to do so.

That's my rant for the day.

Here's an interview that Barack Obama did with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. For anyone who is interested, here's a good interview with Charlie Gibson too in which he talks about how he hopes to run a bi-partisan administration to cope with the problems of the nation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Virtually Obsessed


I've been kind of scarce the past day or so and I thought I'd just say "hi," and explain that in order to cope with my demented election obsession, I have adopted a Virtual Village and am spending time obsessing about that. They are well on their way to self sufficiency at the moment so hopefully I will return shortly. I'm still obsessing about politics but this seems to be keeping me from exploding and that's always a good thing.

It has been very cold here. Yesterday morning I took this picture of show on the mountains. Can you believe it? This morning there was snow on my back porch. Didn't get around to photographing it, though.

Anyway, I'll probably be back tomorrow. Not sure if I'll be ranting about life or politics but I think I'll be back. Meanwhile, I hope those in cold climates are staying warm and those in warm climates are staying cool.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Autism's Friend in Name Only:
The Fruit Fly Controversy

My friend Linda, whose young son has been diagnosed with autism, asked me to write something about the questionable nature of Sarah Palin's alleged support for families coping with autism and other disabilities. In a recent speech - her first major policy address - Mrs. Palin apparently dismissed some of the most promising research in the field of autism (work with fruit flies) as "wasteful earmark spending." As with her research into what the job of Vice President might entail, what a precondition is, or a host of other topics, Mrs. Palin apparently hasn't bothered to learn much about her pet cause of helping families struggling with disabilities either. Glibness may be entertaining in the short term, but glibness, especially when there is little or no substance behind it, has the potential for disaster in the long run. My own knowledge on the subject autism research is decidedly lacking, but here is a wonderfully concise explanation for how far off the mark Mrs. Palin's speech was.

Families who think Mrs. Palin and Mr. McCain will be their allies might want to think twice. It seems like another thing they share with Mr. Bush is an complete absence of understanding of the meaning of words like compassion and empathy.

Check out Linda's These are the Days blog for more information on autism and this subject.

A Song for Monday

My friend Kim sent this to me this morning in my email and it's such a gloomy, cold, gray day here today, that I thought a little music might be just the thing. Hope you enjoy the song even if you're not an Obama fan.

Just in case you missed it, don't forget to check out the Obama/Biden tax calculator and see how much you'll save if/when they are elected.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One Single Impression: Gift

This week's prompt for One Single Impression was "gift." It's been a while since I participated. Too immersed in politics and feeling irritable. I have a longer poem cooking in my head but I'm too distracted to finish it at the moment. Mixed bag here, not sure there are any gifts. You can click on them to make them larger and easier to read.

I really can't wait
Surely it will be a gift
When all votes are cast
When election day has passed
And a choice - for good or ill - is made

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Six Random Things about Me

I got tagged for a meme by PeppyLady and since I haven't done one in a long time and since it seemed like it might be a way to stop obsessing about politics for a wee while, I thought I'd go with it.

Here are the rules (I'm ignoring #s 4 & 5):

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Yikes... Now I have to think of something to say. Hmmmm... Ok... This is hard....

Random Thing # 1: I love rocks. When I still lived in NYC and when I was still able to leave the house, my therapist's office was right across the street from a place called Astro Minerals. They had a back room where you could get some pretty cool rocks for almost no money. And because I visited them every week and often talked other people into buying stuff, they were very fond of me and gave me really good deals. Best deal ever. My amythyst geode which I got at cost. I have dragged its gorgeous tonnage from New York to Arizona to Lake Huntington, NY to Narrowsburg, NY (up a flight of stairs) to Callicoon and now to its and my own (I hope) final resting place here in Hancock. I made a collage of some of my rocks. It didn't come out very good but it did take me almost all day. Agh. It's huge. If you click on it, you can see it in all it's enormosity. (I know enormosity is not a word, but I think it ought to be.)

Random Thing #2: I have a half written children's book that I'd really like to finish. It's called AMANDA AND THE COOKIE WITCH and is aimed at pre-teen girls. I also have a couple of books for younger children that star Charlie and Sadie, my Cindy's dogs and their magic hole. So far they have visited China and Hawaii. I have a visit to Africa half finished and about two sentences of a visit to Australia. I need inspiration. I need ambition. I need an agent. If anyone has a daughter that age or is just a glutton for punishment, I'd love some thoughts on whether I'm on target for that age group.

Random Thing #3: I love books, but I recently decided to give away a great many of my books to the local school library. So far, Mrs. Law, the delightful librarian from the school, has taken about six boxes. I gave her all my parents art and nature books, all my Hermann Hesse, the Ring trilogy and a host of other items. In the next round, I will probably give her my Harry Potter's, though my inner child is kind of pissed about that. I'm not likely to read most of my books again and I'm not physically able to care for them properly. It just seems right that they should be in available to the young (or old) and curious. It's interesting what books I can't let go of. Chaucer, PG Wodehouse, most of my poetry books and much (but not all) of the more esoteric things. I was really thrilled that Mrs. Law was open to pretty much everything I had to offer. Cool.

Random Thing #4: My really, really kind friends, Nate and Dan are going to give me some new furniture. Nate's sister is giving them furniture so they are giving their furniture to me. My current decor is a not very comfortable sofa that I found on the porch when I moved into my apartment in Callicoon, an oversized end table that somebody else didn't want and an oversized chair (that I still love) from my old days in NYC. I desperately want a new TV. Even if I shouldn't, if I can possibly swing it, I REALLY want a flat-screen TV. I'm going to put it into my center bookshelf. I had a 22 year old TV which needed 30 minutes to warm up before the picture came on and flickered oddly and wasn't very good. Nate and Dan again came to my rescue with something the neighbors were getting rid of. It's old too but not as old and more importantly, it works. So I'm very lucky. Still, I REALLY want a digital, flat screen TV.... and maybe to move up from 20 inches to 26. Wouldn't that be awesome! We will see. I'm hoping that the prices will go down significantly in January or February. Of course the economy may kill my dream, but maybe not. I'll just keep dreaming it.

Random Thing #5: I was a music major when I started college. Major on the clarinet, minor on the piano. I flunked out of music in part because I was too shy to have anyone hear me play (some musician). What I did get out of my time as a music major was discovering that I'm not a tenor but a soprano. I sang with the New York Choral Society at one time... lasted through the concert with Peter Paul and Mary at Carnegie Hall before my self doubt again conquered the joy of being part of something so delightful. I was lucky enough to have a piano for most of my life until I moved to Arizona. Now I am without one. I miss it.

Random Thing #6: Six of my favorite movies (probably) are Babette's Feast, A Passage to India, The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Poet's Society, The Majestic, and Sense and Sensibility. And bunch of my favorite books are: Harry Potter Series, PG Wodehouse's Jeeves books, A Hundred Years of Solitude, Mother Night (well all of Vonnegut), Jane Austin's books, Cry the Beloved Country, Herman Hesse's books, Chopra, Louise Haye, Immanuel's Book, ok... it's a long, long list... that's more than enough.

So... this is way more than anybody needs or wants to know, but I figured if I was going to share, I might as well share for real and not tell you six things you have probably already figured out about me. So that's my meme entry and I'm not looking back. (eeek.) I'm refuse to tag anyone, but if anyone feels like tagging yourself, please let me know so I can visit and read. Which reminds me of a seventh random thing about me. I'm an awful visitor. It's not because I don't care. I'm just not very well organized so there are two or three people whose blogs I have set up in my side-bar and my head and I visit them all the time and others whose blogs are wonderful who I don't. It's not because I don't care. I'm just badly organized and easily distracted.

Very Cool: Obama Tax Calculator

Isn't this nifty?

For more information on the Obama tax cuts, you can check here.

Friday, October 24, 2008


(Please scroll down for the Saturday Wordzzle Challenge.)

I've been listening to a lot more news than I usually subject myself to and I hadn't heard this story. Or I had heard the thing about voters being tricked into registering as Republicans, but not the McCain connection. Hmmm. There goes that liberal media again, favoring the Democrats.

Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 36

This is week 36 of the Saturday Wordzzle challenge. Anyone new to the process can refer back here to find out how it works. Thanks to Chatty, Melli and my friend Shannon for this week's words. I still have some left over from all of you, but I was too lazy to dig them out so I just made up a bunch of my own for next week. I don't know if I'm just weary from thinking about politics, but I'm having a harder and harder time every week squeezing these things out of my brain. As always, I look forward to the many brilliant things that the rest of you have come up with. Oh... I'm going to add a picture this week. My friend Shannon's build-a-bear critter, Kia. I posted Kia small, but if you click on her picture, you can see her full glory. She's really cute.

The words for this week's ten word challenge were: build-a-bear workshop, man bites dog, opulent, disparaging, lipstick stain, preponderance, smoky quartz, clothes pin, meticulous, falling leaves

Mini Challenge: moisturizing, pickles, seat belt, flip-flop, Chicago

Here's my ten-word offering for this week:

Margaret Louise Horowitz, who was an extremely meticulous child, looked in horror at Kia, her build-a-bear workshop cheetah and was mortified to see her stuffed friend’s opulently decorated blouse smeared with a hideous lipstick stain. “Mother,” she exclaimed, with a disparaging look in her mother’s direction, “you have been kissing Kia again and you have ruined her beautiful smoky quartz colored shirt with the falling leaves made out of rhinestones. How could you?” “Margaret, beloved child,” Mrs. Horowitz, replied, rolling her eyes, “the idea of me kissing your stuffed toys is about as likely as a man bites dog scenario. That lipstick is your grandmother’s shade, not mine. Now stop fussing and find me some clothes pins, so I can hang this silly shirt up after it runs though the washing machine and we can restore Kia to her former sartorial splendor.”

And here's my mini challenge:

Ella Sanderson buckled her seat belt and checked her map. Though she was not looking forward to the drive to Chicago, where she hoped that the new moisturizing lotion she had invented using pickles and sour cream would put her on the road to riches. This, she thought, is so much better than my inflatable flip flops. They won’t laugh at me this time.

And the mega challenge:

With the onset of autumn’s falling leaves, Martha thought sadly that it was time to put her flip-flops away and begin to prepare for the chilly days of winter which lay ahead. Much as she loved the opulent colors of the season, she did not look forward to Chicago’s bitter winter, a season during which no amount of moisturizing lotion kept her skin from becoming a ravaged dry desert and no amount of layers kept her warm. If she had her druthers, she and Sam would return to the warmer climes and memories of her beloved North Carolina where it got neither too cold or too hot. She smiled thinking of how, despite the mock disparaging looks of his father, as a child, Kevin, had called the sharp mountain curves clothes pin turns instead of hair pin. It actually made just about as much sense. Buckle your seat belt she would say and he would laugh uproariously. Kevin had been such a happy child, who would laugh at just about anything, from a silly man bite’s dog joke Sam had played with Pickles, their dog, to the delights of creating his own meticulously dressed build-a-bear workshop teddy bear. When he had left for college, he had insisted that she put a big lipstick stain on Freddie Teddy’s worn collar so he would always have his mother’s kiss to comfort him on darker days. Quickly touching the smoky quartz heart at her throat, the last gift Kevin had given her, it seemed impossible to her that he was gone. He had been so vital, so full of life. She was grateful that the preponderance of her memories were of Kevin laughing, grateful that he had had a happy life. Remembering her lost son, she longed more deeply for happier times and for days when her husband’s smile was as bright as his son’s. She thought a trip home might heal her husband’s broken heart as she knew it would her own. Perhaps the coming of winter would persuade Sam too, that they were meant for warmer climes.

This week's vanity wordzzle used the words: sortie, moonstruck, dandelion, sprinkler system, broccoli, birds feeder, tuxedo, Montana, midnight

Broccoli, the handsome tuxedo cat who shared Martina Montez’ home stared hungrily at the bird feeder which was swarming with tasty morsels just outside his reach. Martina, for her part, was trying to figure out the instructions so she could set the elaborate new underground sprinkler system which she had just had installed to run for two hours starting at midnight. The instructions made no sense to her and she wondered what had possessed her to invest in a sprinkler system for a lawn which was mostly dandelions, anyway. Nothing was going right today. She was a failure at everything. Love, motherhood, and now even painting. She had been trying for hours - no, for days and weeks - to capture the memory of her first sortie into the Montana wilderness and the moonstruck feeling of being under that big dark sky with the wind and the wild flowers and the wild creatures lurking, almost, but not quite, visible in the moonlight. There had been one magical moment when she had felt totally connected to the universe and she wanted desperately to get it on canvas. But how was she to do that with an absent husband, angry children and a sprinkler system that made no sense. Life stunk. But then, like a gift from heaven, sweet, wicked old Broccoli sidled up to her, and after rubbing himself gently against her leg a few times, looked her straight in the eye made her a speech full of such passionate intensity, that she knew it would all be ok. The children would still love her, Harry would probably return home with flowers and a sheepish grin, and the painting, the painting too would find its way from her heart to the canvas. Thanks Brocc. You’re a gift from God.


Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: squeaky toy, perpendicular, olives, shanty, howling at the moon, soul, bow and arrow, uniform, statistics, praying mantis

Mini Challenge: glamour, rocking chair, cormorant, objective, symbolism

Thanks for playing. For those who are new, here are some guidelines to make the process more fun.

Enjoy! See you next week.


Think Twice Before Voting for McCain

Ok, I was thinking this morning about - what else - politics and decided that I'd share a list of reasons (above and beyond policy matters) why I think people should think twice (at least) about voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin. This is a quickly gathered list and incomplete list, but I hope there is some food for thought here.

Sarah Palin. More important than Mrs. Palin's fundamental lack of experience is her lack of gravitas and intellectual curiosity. You should be concerned when someone running for such a high office can't accurately tell a third grader what the job entails. You should be concerned when she thinks that preparation and preconditions are the same thing. You should be concerned when someone a heart-beat away from the presidency can't answer a question about the Republican platform on abortion and birth control with any specifics and instead launches into a bunch of gobbeldy gook about standing on strong planks. You should be concerned that someone that fundamentally ignorant, even though she's clever and pretty, is a heart-beat away from the presidency. You should be concerned that someone who thinks and speaks in terms of good Americans (those who agree with her) and bad Americans might take high office and might become the President of all the people. Mr. McCain is not young. He has had cancer multiple times. Mrs. Palin very well could become president.

Judgment. First, despite a claim of putting country first, he chose an ill-equipped running mate as kind of political gimmick. It's hard to tell most of the time who's the head of the ticket. In addition, Mr. McCain - with and through his surrogates - has run a campaign of slurs and slander with very little substance and a great many lies repeated over and over. The only time he has put a reign on hate speech and character assassination was when confronted with it face to face. In that instance he had little choice but to correct it the kind of confusion his campaign has encouraged. The highest paid staffer in the McCain campaign is Mrs. Palin's make-up artist (just read that this morning). In addition, Mr. McCain has shown a penchant for quick inaccurate pronouncements on subjects from international affairs to the economy. He may be able to backpeddle as a candidate, but as a president, such actions could have international ramifications.

Moral Relativism. Mr. McCain's campaign is being run by the same people who savaged him and his wife in 2000. This alone says something sad about his character. The very heart of the Palin/McCain campaign has been to focus on Senator Obama's brief working relationship with a teacher who did something terrible when Obama was 8. Although the Obama campaign has stayed above this kind of ugly and nonsensical politics, it is worth noting that Mr. McCain has over the years and very recently rubbed extremely cosy elbows with G. Gordon Liddy, one of the Watergate criminals, and a man who currently advises is listeners on how best to kill Federal Agents. Mr. McCain could praised him on air. This no more makes McCain a terrorist than knowing Mr. Ayers makes Mr. Obama a terrorist. Mr. McCain has a penchant for rationalizing his own bad behavior because things didn't go his way. Asked in the debate about the smear tactics, he explained that they were justified because Senator Obama didn't agree to town hall meetings. Huh? What else will he justify? Is this how he was able to rationalize his part in allowing Mr. Bush and Cheney to repeatedly violate the US Constittution?

Temperament. Mr. McCain is a shoot-first ask questions later kind of personality. With the weight of world peace in the balance, I question whether that's who we want in a position of great power. Repeatedly during his campaign. Mr. McCain has tended to blurt out the first thing that comes into his head and then back-peddle until he found something that was better. That will not fly well in volatile international relations.

Military views/experience. Mr. McCain seems to believe that his years as a POW make him a military expert. Clearly it takes a level of courage to survive what he survived, but it hardly makes him a military expert. In fact, I think his Vietnam experience makes Mr. McCain - already prone to voilent, military solutions - less willing to negotiate and willing to let many more young men and women die to satisfy his need to have a victory in Iraq that he didn't get in Vietnam. I don't know that we can have a victory from the unjustified invasion of another nation. In addition, Mr. McCain is very fond of saber rattling. I'm not sure how he will fight all the wars he wants to get into. Our economy is in ruins and our military is already stretched to the breaking point. I actually think there is as much or more danger of Mr. Biden's projected "test" with Mr. McCain than with Mr. Obama. I don't think Mr. McCain is up to the job. Just walking around saying "I know how to do that," doesn't make it so. I have yet to hear Mr. McCain explain what he means with that statement. I have to wonder what army Mr. McCain plans to use to wage his wars. The one we have is profoundly overextended at the moment. The nation's failing economy also impacts our failing military's ability to recover from it's misuse at the hands of the present administration. On how many fronts does Mr. McCain expect our exhausted troops to defund us?

Lies. Both Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin seem quite comfortable telling lies. We have had 8 years of that and it has proven to be disastrous for the country on many levels. Name some lies, you ask? "And I just said no to that bridge to nowhere." Although the Troopergate panel found the following: "Unlawfully Abused Her Authority," Mrs. Palin responded that she was grateful to have been cleared of all wrongdoing. I couldn't find the quote, but it was surreal, as is much of what she says. Then there's the campaign's repeated insistence that "Obama is going to raise your taxes." Patently untrue. "Acorn is a threat to the fabric of democracy." Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists." The chill that ran down Cindy McCain's spine only ran down it when Mr. Obama voted down the same bill that her husband voted down in another form.

Hate speech and divisive language. Mrs. Palin has been the mouthpiece for this, but Mr. McCain has not backed away from it. The claim that Mr. Obama "doesn't think like we do" and "pals around with terrorists." The implication that McCain supporters are Pro-American and that the rest of us are not... Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin seem to operate on the concept that those who disagree with them are less patriotic than they are. Again we have had 8 years of patriotism weighed on the basis of agreement with an inept, dishonest president. We don't need 8 more years of division.

Stupid claims. Living in Alaska gives one foreign policy experience. "She needed clothes," as an explanation of $150,000 spent spiffing Mrs. Palin up. The poor and the Democrats are to blame for the current financial crisis.

The Environment:

And a little humor to end a serious discussion:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Relative Expenses

Relative spending.

Someone sent me an interesting article by Gary Kambia from Salon in my email this morning. It was a bit long in getting to it's point, but it's point is pretty telling. Bob the Banker, alleged author of the piece is outraged because he makes $280,000/year and will be a victim of Obama's socialism. He then goes on to break down the cost to him. This is STUNNING in how insignificant it is. By the way... according to the article, the source of these numbers is an interview with Gerald Prante, an ecnomist at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. Here's an excerpt from the article.

The numbers don't lie. So here they are.*

So, as I said, I make $280,000 annually after business expenses. I'm married and filing jointly. Under Obama, my itemized deductions would actually increase slightly — I'd get $49,420 in itemized deductions, while under McCain I'd get $48,975. But my personal exemptions would increase slightly under McCain — he'd give me $6,911, whereas I'd only get $6,132 from Obama.

That leaves my taxable income at $213, 766 under Obama, $213,433 under McCain. Now we have to factor in the bracket cutoff, which for 2009 is $208,850. Anything below that figure for married couples filing jointly is taxed at the fourth tier, 28 percent. Any income above it, until you get up to near $400,000, is taxed at the fifth tier. And this is where the raving income-redistribution scheme of Barack Robespierre Obama kicks in.

As you can see, my taxable income is about $5,000 higher than the cutoff. McCain is going to tax that $5,000 at the current rate, which is 33 percent. But Obama's crazed plan calls for raising that rate to — get ready for it — 35 percent.

And here's what this means. Under McCain, my total tax bill would be $48,254. Under Obama, it would be $48,511.

That's a difference of $257. I'll say it again: Two hundred and fifty-seven dollars.

That's not two hundred and fifty-seven dollars I, or America, can afford.

So the right is outraged that someone earning $280,000 might have to cough up an extra $257.00/year... and the rest of us will pay less. Amazing.

On another front...

If we want to look at some of the financial inconsistencies in this country, here's another one that impacts lots of people. I hope that if/when Senator Obama wins, some of these numbers will come under review also. Most of you know that I'm disabled and get a very small SSD allowance. Out of that money, I pay $93 and change each month towards Medicare Part B. And I'm profoundly grateful to have SSD and to get Medicare. I'm luckier than most people in this country. My poverty is pretty genteel. But I got curious about the rates though because my stipend - about $14,000/year is low enough that initially the government waived the $93 fee. Then they decided last year that I get $8 too much each month and re-instated the $93 fee. As I said, I'm grateful to get the insurance so I'm not complaining really. But in the course of a conversation with someone I looked up the rate breakdown. These are the figures for last year. I find the way the fees breakdown across the economic horizon nothing short of insane.

Math is not my strong suit (to put it mildly), but by my calculations, those at the 80,000 end of the equation in my $93.50 category are paying less than 2% of their income towards Medicare versus my 8%. The low end of the $80-100,000 category pays 1.5% of their yearly income and the upper end pays about 1.25%. Moving to level three, the bottom level folks pay 1.5% and the upper level folks pay 1%... Level 4, the bottom rung pays about 1.15% of their total income and the top end pay less than 1% (.085 or some such thing). Those at the bottom of the top range pay under 1% (.097% approximately). For someone with $500,000 in annual income the percentage is about .004%...

In this system, someone making $200,000 - or even $750,000 pays only $814 more/year for insurance than someone with a yearly income of $14,000. Doesn't that seem a little nuts? Surely we can come up with more categories and a somewhat more balanced fee system than this.

So those are just some random money thoughts for the day.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hate Speech vs Peace Speech

When I posted Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama the other day, I mentioned my distaste for the tenor of Mr. McCain's campaign and I used the phrase "hate speech." Dr. John, in a comment, asked me three questions: "what is hate speech," "Is it only hate speech if it's directed at your candidate and not hate speech when directed at the other party," and is calling something hate speech a form of hate speech. I left a response in the comments section, but I've been thinking that this is an important topic and maybe worth trying to discuss at more length.

So, in answer to Dr. John's questions:

I would define hate speech as language and statements designed to feed the fear and divisive feelings in a community or society. Such statements as "he's not like us," particularly coupled with the suggestion that "he hangs around with terrorists," have little purpose other than to stir up fear and the worst aspects of human nature. Declaring that some Americans (McCain voters and small town residents apparently) are pro-America and the rest of us are somehow anti-American is as ugly and incendiary as it is untrue. Such language, such statements have little or no purpose other than to rouse crowds to your side by stirring their meanest passions.

Hate speech is hate speech no matter who it is directed at. I have not heard hate speech come from the Obama campaign. They have not implied that Mrs. Palin or Mr. McCain are unpatriotic, they have not made comments about the people they hang out with, nor have they ever implied that those who are voting for Mr. McCain are lesser Americans or unpatriotic. Are hateful things said by voters in crowds on both sides? Yes. The world has an abundance of nasty people in it. The difference is what the campaigns themselves are doing. Mrs. Palin in particular has stirred and encouraged these feelings by the nature of the campaign she is running. And other than one moment when he was face to face with someone spewing nonsense, Mr. McCain has done little to discourage it.

When Congressman Lewis - a black senator, not part of the Obama campaign - illadvisedly compared the danger of this to the tenor of George Wallace, Mr. Obama and his campaign both immediately stepped up and decried the comparison. Mr. Lewis also apologized. Mr. McCain has not done the same. Given the opportunity of a bully pulpit during the last debate, he chose instead to say how great his supporters are. And most of them probably are. Given the opportunity to tell those among his supporters who are confused that hate and bigotry are not the way, Mr. McCain chose to remain silent. Lighting a fire in the woods and doing nothing to bank it, is a good way to start a forest fire. Sewing the seeds of us and them, pro and anti-American in a time when people are angry and looking for a place to vent their fear is inviting trouble.

I would draw a distinction between hateful statements and hate speech... at least what I mean by it. I think many of us make hateful statements from time to time in the heat of passion. Hate speech in my definition is a conscious and consistent effort to appeal to and fan the flames of the worst in us.

Obviously I don't think that calling something hate speech is itself hate speech or I wouldn't be doing so. If I was meeting hate for hate, that would be hate speech, but I'm not.

I'm believe that the kind of language and comments Mrs. Palin is making fan the flames of distrust and hate which I think is both wrong, ugly, and socially irresponsible. Language has power. I think it is the job of every citizen and every thinking human being to speak up in the face of such things. Had more Germans spoken up sooner in Nazi Germany, perhaps things would not have gone so far. Had the citizens of Rwanda said "no more" as racial hatred was spewed with increasing venom, perhaps the Rwandan holocaust would not have taken place. I don't think America is on the brink of a holocaust, nor am I comparing Mrs. Palin to the Nazis, but we are in a perilous time, the kind of time when toxic speech seems to have extra potency. It is at such times that people are most prone to put their better angels on the shelf and fall prey to "us and them" thinking.

I disagree with pretty much everything about the McCain/Palin ticket, but I don't think they are out to ruin the country. I don't think they are un-American for their beliefs. I don't want to demonize them and likewise don't want them to demonize me for my beliefs, to say or imply that I am less of an American than they are, or to call my candidate names. These are seeds being planted in the soil of our psyche. They will still be there if Mr. Obama wins. At a time when this country needs most to pull together, poisoning the well. Absurd over the top statements like Mr. McCain's suggestion that Acorn (and by his inference Mr. Obama) is perpetrating "one of the greatest frauds of voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy in this country" feed fear and distrust. Mr. McCain has supported Acorn himself. He knows quite well that they are no danger to Democracy. This is fear-mongering and planting the seeds for people to distrust the results of the election should Obama win. This is ugly in it's blatant dishonesty but also in it's disingenuous pouring of poison onto the results of the election and potentially the future presidency. That's one of the reasons I think it is important to discourage it.

So that's what I have to say about hate speech. I probably have a lot more to say but that's where I'm leaving it.

On the other side of the coin from hate speech is the wonderful twice annual Blog Blast for Peace hosted by Mimi at Mimi Writes. Twice a year Mimi asks all of us in the blogosphere to post a banner and add our words and energy to create a massive international prayer for peace. The next event is on November 6th. I hope many, many, many, many of us will put our thoughts to peace and love and post a Dona Nobis Pacem post on the November 6th (two weeks from tomorrow). We can use words to divide or to unite. I know I don't always succeed in using them to unite, but that is my goal. I hope you will all join in on November 6th and share your highest vision for this nation and the world. My banner is at the head of this post and will reappear on the 6th. Please click on the icon below to find out how to get and create your own banner and to sign on for the big day.

Peace be with you, with all of us, now and always.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Truth About Acorn

I think this speaks for itself.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Important Information for All Voters

I received something in my email this evening which I initially thought must be a hoax, but apparently it isn't. You can check out this link at for details.

So what is the warning? This applies to Republicans and Democrats.

Apparently, some states have a category or box for those who wish to vote a "straight ticket." What is not made clear is that in some states, although the ballot doesn't indicate it - the Snopes report cites North Carolina - the office of President is distinct from the straight ticket category. In other words, if, as a voter in North Carolina you vote "Straight Ticket" and think you have voted for the President, you are mistaken. You have only voted for all other offices. The vote for president must be cast separately. You must mark, click, whatever your presidential choice AND straight ticket. This apparently varies from state to state. I don't remember ever seeing a straight ticket option on the New York ballots, but it may be there.

I really think we need major election reform in this country. Such things simply should not be possible in this day and age. We really should be able to trust that our vote will be counted.

Addendum to original post: My niece Diana lives in North Carolina. She said that the ballot is in fact set up this way. She voted yesterday and said that in her district, at least, the ballot is clearly marked. They have paper ballots and you can double check and correct your ballot if you make a mistake. I was glad to hear that.

Unbecoming a Democracy

Is this what our democracy is turning into? This video isn't very good, but it tells its tale. The people screaming are McCain supporters heckling and protesting the votes of early voters in Fayetteville, North Carolina... allegedly because it was a Sunday. Given the prevalence of McCain/Palin signs I would have thought this would be illegal electioneering so close to the polling place. In any case, it's pretty ugly and disgraceful.

I also noticed a report that at least six voters in West Virginia have reported that their votes flipped to the opposing candidate. Everyone should be as vigilant as possible at the polls.

In Celebration of My Niece Cynthia

I realized that most of the pictures of Cindy I had downloaded onto the computer
were zapped when it crashed a while back. This is one I stole from her blog. It's
one of my favorite pictures of her with Annika and Trevor.

Today is the birthday of my beautiful niece Cindy. Cindy is my sister’s middle child. Cindy is kindness incarnate. I started to say that she’s sweet – and she is – but not in a vapid or saccharine way. She’s witty and smart and creative and inherited her own mother’s gift for parenting. She has two brilliant and incredible children: Annika and Trevor. They are awesome… like their mother.

Cindy has been generous to me. When I first got sick, she offered me refuge in her home in Arizona. It didn’t work out so well in the end, but I did get the great thrill of experiencing my great niece’s first year of life and I have some happy memories of Starbucks mocha frappuchinos on our Friday morning grocery shopping outings, of sitting in the dark, listening to music and watching one of Arizona’s amazing lightning shows, of practicing my driving skills in an empty parking lot while Cindy was mega pregnant, of meeting her many wonderful friends, of stamping parties and reading Harry Potter. And I have a memory of Cindy knocking on my door on the morning of September 11th, saying, “Aunt Kathie, I think something terrible has happened.”

Cindy has been through some hard times in her life, starting with losing her mother 18 days before her 16th birthday and on to other difficulties in more recent days. She has a remarkable strength and a determination to find and expand on life’s positives. She is a keeper of records and photos, the one among my sister’s children most interested in holding our memories. She artisitic and funny and loving. She is a remarkable friend who has drawn an incredible number of truly wonderful people into her life.

For some reason – I think I was sick or in some one of my life dramas at the time – I didn’t write Cindy’s birth poem until her first birthday. I can be kind of compulsive about things sometimes and I think that probably because I didn’t have it written within days of her birth, I went into “I failed” mode and it took me a year to work through it and come through with her much deserved, if inadequate poem.


Cynthia Ellen, fair lady of one

How fast the time's gone since your life was begun

You're singing and talking with so much to say

Your smiles and your gentleness brighten a day

Your walking's unsteady -- but still, it's a start

And you truly have captured this old auntly heart

I wish now, as always, that your life will hold

Limitless happiness to make you quite bold

In living and loving and dreaming new dreams

Of the joys and the beauty with which the world teems

I wish I had power (instead of bad rhyme)

To give to you magic; but magic's not mine

It lies in your smile, in the love you can give

In seeking and dreaming as long as you live

I hope that time treats you with gentle concern

That you prosper and grow and continue to learn

That your life is quite full of good people and true

And that you remain always wonderful you.

- I Love You, Aunt Kathie

Cynthia, beloved niece, I admire your wisdom and your generosity of spirit, your imaginative and inspired parenting and your goodness. On this your (number of your choosing) birthday, I wish you love and peaceful contentment. I wish you inspiration and appreciation. I wish you abundance and the house, the work and creative expression, in sum, - the life of your dreams. May your sorrows from now on be only memories and your joys continue to multiply.

I Love You. Happy Birthday!