Tag Archives: election

Weird Barack Obama art

Growing up in a Catholic household the 1960s, my husband says that most of the living rooms he visited as a child had pictures of Jesus and JFK hanging on the wall.

As a child of the 1970s, I don’t remember any presidential administration that inspired that kind of iconic reproduction. Things have changed. The stream of Barack Obama faces printed on clothing and hats since early summer festivals this year has been steady to overflowing, many using design elements that intentionally evoke Bob Marley, Che Guevara, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. Apparently, we like wearing our new leader, putting forward our faith in his abilities.

Meanwhile, weird art has been emerging from all corners of the Internet, putting forward its own agenda:
A lot of pundits claim that voters have unrealistic, Jesus (or Fabio)-like expectations of our new President. On first view, this illustration seems to underscore that idea. It was actually intended to poke fun at Obama supporters in Portland, Oregon this past May.
This one comes from Dan Lacey, Painter of Pancakes, who mostly paints political and celebrity figures with pancakes on their heads, although he also has some of famous figures donning jock straps, carrots and “Minnesota” toast” on their noggins. If you poke around his site, you’ll find that there are a couple of other nude Obama with unicorn paintings, including a revision of this one with a leaner president-elect.
An Indiana man who calls himself the “Taco Werewolf” created a series of “Obama Taco Underwear” paintings. Over the summer, when he finished his shifts at a Mexican restaurant, Mr. Werewolf would nosh on free tacos in his underwear and watch Obama speeches, which filled him with such inspiration he was moved to make these paintings.
Last but not least, here’s a camptastic one (pointed out to me by my mom), from local artist Paul Richmond. It is available as a Giclee Print on Etsy.

More pieces, strange and mainsteam, have been dutifully catalogued on a couple of blogs: the Art of Obama and The Obama Art Report.

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Sarah Palin comedy

So, the Internet is abuzz with responses to last night’s big speeches, which frankly, made me sad. Tons of personal and partisan attacks – even disparaging “community organizing” – a bedrock of our democracy? Ugh. I’m tired.

I take some shelter in funny. And some things are funny because they ring true.

From the Momosphere: No Minivan,

Accidentally funny: Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy’s unintentional open mic conversation.

And, of course, perspective, courtesy of Jon Stewart:

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Palin in Comparison: This pander wasn’t for me

I watched Sarah Palin speak to the country for the first time on Friday and cringed. As she gave her shout-outs to Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton, it seemed like the most transparent, calculated pander in modern memory. And the very idea that the Republicans believe that Hillary supporters would be easily persuaded to vote for an anti-choice, anti-science, pro-gun, pro-fur, anti-polar bear candidate because they’re feeling shafted by the Democratic party made me think that the GOP’s gone completely nuts.

But then, not so much.

Politico Joe Trippi suggested (hat tip to Queen of Spain for the link on Twitter) that this isn’t as much about pandering to politically disenfranchised women as it originally appeared. I agree. What I believe it really could be about is disconcerting.

In the 2004 election, Ohio was so finely divided, the exit polls made it look like it was going to go blue. (Conspiracy theories about vote manipulation aside, I simply thought the whole thing was unjust. Having to wait more than two hours to vote on a workday in a culture that is still largely paid by the hour strikes me as utterly unconstitutional, but I digress.)

One thing that really brought the evangelicals of Ohio out to the polls that year was a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage – they came out in those rural, red parts of the state where the voting experience is a breeze, unlike our congested blue cities. That law, incidentally, is essentially unenforceable, and has gone nowhere – making it seem, in hindsight, like a shallow yet cunning device, with its true purpose being solely to get that population out to the polls to push Bush over to a narrow victory.

Debates about experience issues aside, everything about Sarah Palin’s personal story, including today’s news about her daughter, makes me think me that she could be this election cycle’s gay marriage ban. She’s the anti-choice argument personified – someone that will bring evangelicals, who weren’t really feeling McCain fever, out to vote.

News sources say that McCain’s campaign already knew about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and felt it shouldn’t effect her mother’s electability. Karl Rove’s general dispicable-ness in campaigning is what has made me jaded enough to believe this – but I’m starting to think that all of these complicated, personal factors that look crazy enough on the surface to be missteps of the vetting process are actually quite calculated. If that’s so – Republican strategists have sunk to new, grotesque levels, showing a willingness to subject the lives of a pregnant teen, her future child and a Down’s syndrome infant to the extremely harsh light of a presidential election just to get their guy elected. That possibility hurts my heart – the Christianity I was raised with was never so ruthless.

Please, convince me I’m crazy. No one, not even a Republican strategist, would sink that low, right?

Update, 9:41 pm: Lo and behold, here’s a story about evangelicals praising the Palins for their personification of “pro-life values.”

This post is part of the Momocrats‘ meme about Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin today.

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Race and gender and guilt, oh my!

“You must have an overdeveloped sense of guilt,” I remember a guy telling me over coffee in college. “I can see why you’d be a feminist and everything, but I don’t understand why you care so much about racism. It doesn’t affect you.”

But it did, I insisted. Even if I couldn’t explain exactly why, I believed in bumper sticker slogans like “no one is free when others are oppressed,” and the simple message of the poetic parable, “First they came...” Moreover, I passionately loved every possibility that the broad strokes of the Constitution painted, a document that made me cry when I read it aloud (I preferred this to, say, auto bingo on road trips). My work-study job was as a student coordinator for a campus organization that saw issues of race, gender, class and sexuality as inextricably linked.

In my personal undergraduate studies of American history and literature, I saw those issues as inextricably linked as well. And after learning as much of the history of non-European races in the U.S. as I could absorb over my first three years of college, I spent my last year considering my own ethnicity in an undergraduate thesis about white identity in America.

I came to believe that one of the roots of racism was the very fact that the dominant, white, Protestant culture didn’t see itself as “ethnic,” despite the fact that, barring Native Americans, most of us came from someplace else. Or lots of places. If you don’t comprehend, let alone appreciate, the diversity within your own bloodline, it’s that much easier to write off the characteristics of the people you perceive as different from you.

You need only read the history of how our railways were built to see, in a less black and white way, how effectively our differences have been exploited for generations, just as you need only listen to American music to see how those differences have enriched us. I came to think of identity as a wheel inside of me – sometimes my female-ness informed my responses and actions in the world, sometimes my white Ohioan-ness, my age, my Golden Rule-obsessed upbringing, or my confusing socio-economic class. But they were all spokes connected to the same center.

So obviously, I read Barack Obama’s speech yesterday, and cried. I am glad he is willing to appeal to our better nature, trust in our intelligence and speak to us frankly in his own words. His interpretation of the Constitution and his vision for America are inspiring. I’m thrilled that he’s promoting unity by embracing the complexity of our population’s make-up instead of trying to melting pot us into soylent green. And I’m glad he smote some of his supporters by reminding them not to distort the readily distortable, because honestly, too many of his supporters have acted intensely overbearing, smug and sexist in his name.

For all that people criticize Hillary for her past and the people around her, they don’t give her due respect for the major thing she has to offer – an epic passion for policy. She and her husband have held idea retreats for wonks for years and years, and no matter how cautious or caustic her campaign might be, that wonkiness ought to have brought her more respect. Truthfully, I have not found her campaign that offensive after seeing past tactics like swiftboating and push polling. (And boy I am glad that the video of Obama’s minister is up for discussion now and not rolling 24 hours a day for the first time in late October.)

But in the wake of this, the broadcast news coverage has been terrible, as it has been of this whole Democratic Primary. What do they do with a stark, candid speech that should serve to elevate the level of discussion about race in America? The same thing they’ve been doing throughout this process – talking about odds and image instead of anything of substance. Even 60 Minutes let me down. I say elect Obama president and let Hillary’s wonks wrestle the airwaves away from the moronic armchair quarterbacks on television (unless they’re working in his administration) so that we can start using our great tools of communication more effectively for once. We’d all be better off.

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I’ve seen a lot of concern and frustration about yesterday’s primary in the blogosphere today. But I’m much more optimistic, and glad my state got to participate in the democratic process.

I have more to say, but this week is crazy.

Here is an interview a former colleague of mine did on the BBC last night about who she voted for and why. Zoe’s Dad posted about his voting experience as well.

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Watching, waiting, donut

The first news I heard after sitting down and comparing policy to policy on the two Democratic candidates’ web sites was this: The governor gave my mom a non-partisan donut at the polling place this morning.

Dan looked out the window at the freezing rain and said “this looks like a day that Hillary can win.” We drove past a park where all of the footbridges had been swallowed by water. The rivers are swelling.

Declan helped me press the buttons, just as I used to with mom when I was little. Dan chided us that it wasn’t legal.

Yo, talking heads on television – Ohio hates it when you try and tell it what to do.

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This is me getting tweaked about lead paint and blog primary coverage

I just read this story over at Daily Kos, and I was really grateful that someone took the time to actually go through some of the legislative records of Clinton and Obama, particularly to see, in fact, whether Obama is the lightweight that he is made out to be. I am relieved to know more about what he’s gotten done. Especially since I still don’t know who I am voting for on Tuesday.

However, author Grassroots Mom might as well have pinched my sciatic nerve with tweezers as made her argument that Obama is more visionary because he initiated legislation against lead paint in toys, while Hillary introduced some to help give tax incentives to landlords to fund the clean-up of lead paint in older houses.

I’m not disputing or advocating for Obama’s visionary-ness, but this particular argument for it upset me, because it includes some dangerous assumptions. Plus, I just think it’s terribly important to broaden awareness about this issue, and this gives me an opportunity to do so.

Toxic toys are shocking by nature, and should absolutely be legislated out of our homes because of the dangers they pose. But they pose a fraction of the threat to children that lead paint in older homes (specifically any home built before 1978) does.

I know because I have had the unfortunate need to speak to more than one public health official in recent years about this. I can tell you that they are glad that the public is up in arms over toys with lead-based paint and that measures are being taken to do more safety screening of imported goods. But they wish that issue could be leveraged into greater awareness of the larger risks that exist all around us.

Of the children that they encounter who have elevated lead levels in their blood or lead poisoning, the overwhelming majority are still getting sick from older homes. And they aren’t just the homes in the inner city by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the worst cases exist in suburbs and historic neighborhoods with beautiful older houses where windows have never been upgraded, or proper clean-up has never been done. (Lead dust is much finer and heavier than other dust, and does not come up with an ordinary vacuum.)

Because I love you and I don’t want your, or anyone’s, children to get sick (and I don’t want to see other parents wracked with the guilt and fear the way I was because of the things I didn’t know), I wrote more about this important environmental issue here on Blog Action Day last fall. At some point, I will write more about our family’s experience.

Incidentally, like Clinton, Barack Obama does have a strong stance on lead paint and abatement standards in homes.

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Hillary folded the map wrong

This little piece of social satire has me mesmerized:

Hillary is mom jeans

Keep clicking.

I think that it may be one of the most insightful things about our cultural view of Hillary out there. (Particularly the nature of biases against her.)

And here’s the not quite as mesmerizing, but still sort of on-point Obama site:

Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle.

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Political stumping

As of now, I am not stumping for anything or anyone, but I am definitely feeling stumped.

For example… how is it that I learned more about Hillary Clinton’s policies during her informal interview with David Letterman (who, as much as I love him, is a mediocre interviewer at best) last week than I did in the entire segment on 60 Minutes with Katie Couric on Sunday night? Why was Barack Obama asked all about his campaign, his future, his family, while Clinton was mostly asked, in not very subtle terms, to please cry about Barack Obama and her apparent perfectionist of a father?

And why, as primary elections plow on, does every newscast I watch seem to paint Clinton as some kind of strange svengali cuckquean? It’s to the point that I, who really wasn’t a big fan of hers, have begun to 1) feel sorry for her and 2) feel that the media is even more ghoulishly, lip-smackingly sexist than I thought.

I remain undecided on the Clinton vs. Obama question, though. Assuming the Ohio primary does still matter, I’m at a loss about who to vote for. And that is rare.

As far as Hillary is concerned, I am not a fan of her war and anti-terrorism decisions, or the middling, poll-driven behavior that her husband was also so prone to. That said, I feel the Constitution has been gutted and skewered for the past eight years, with real “activist” anti-science appointments throughout the court system and trounced civil liberties. Hillary could hit the ground running and begin restore many things more quickly. And I prefer her health care and family policies. Being a member of a self-employed household, health care cuts closest to the bone for me.

On the other hand, I can’t deny that Obama seems to embody a spirit of Democratic renewal for all kinds of American people. The fact that he is pulling so many who may have felt disenfranchised out to the polls is already a vital contribution to the country’s political future. He is damn inspiring, complex, interesting and someone who, because of his lack of baggage, I wouldn’t have to hold my nose to vote for. I don’t know that he could have the immediate impact that Hillary could, but when you think about some of those vaunted, fallen political leaders of the 1960s – the ability to orate well and inspire can ripple through generations.

I am open to persuasion.

P.S. Since Edwards left the race, they have been struggling with this question over at MOMocrats too.

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