Tag Archives: politics

Freelance scare campaign for McCain

My mother found this sheet, tucked into a white envelope on her front door a couple of days ago. She lives in one of Columbus’ more affluent suburbs (Bexley) and has an Obama sign in her front yard.

There’s nothing particularly new about the ugliness the flier contains, although it is kind of stunning to see so many paranoid lies that have been long since debunked collected on one white sheet of paper. Whoever left it clearly had no intention of speaking to her, only to send a bullying message which suggests, in the opinion of some anonymous coward, that her open support for the Democratic candidate impugns her patriotism.

There is no doubt that things can get really ugly in Ohio during presidential campaigns – especially in counties like this one, which is generally a slightly blue shade of purple. Small incidents like this just tell me that after eight years of divisive leadership from a president for whom no amount of legal bullying, menacing and damning of people with another point of view ever made him say “enough,” and even with a Republican candidate who finally just started to, we still have a long, long way to go.

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Bruce Springsteen reminded me that I’m patriotic

I haven’t done a lot of jumping up and down and screaming at concerts in my adult life. Dancing? Yes. Yelling and applauding appreciatively? Absolutely. Taking notes to review the show for the paper? Check. But jumping up and down like a 14-year-old, waving my arms, mentally projecting look at me, in the striped shirt, I’m from Jersey! That’s something I reserve for a Bruce Springsteen show.

Thankfully, the free show he did to campaign for Obama and registration/early voting in Ohio yesterday was acoustic, and most of us spent our time in the mellow, perfect sunlight yelling for the candidate (who was elsewhere) as much as for the Boss. Before he closed his set, he spoke a few words about his vision of America, of Obama’s and what he hears from nations outside of ours today.

I am a sap for the Constitution. I am a sap for Woody Guthrie and American literature and the Asbury Park boardwalk and muy macho guys like Springsteen who are tough with a gentle spirit and a soft underbelly, so the words he said made me cry. They reminded me of my patriotism — of what I believe patriotism is in America. So I thought I’d share it. It sure beats the nasty turn in the rhetoric this week.

None of the videos that I found of Ohio’s show had the complete speech, so I’m lifting this from his appearance in Philly, where he gave virtually the same remarks. He starts speaking just before the one-minute mark:


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Small moments in democracy

Yesterday, we hung out in the parking lot of an urban carryout, looking at the side wall of a restaurant called “Chicken Gem’s.” During the years we lived in this Ohio State campus-area zip code, I don’t know exactly how many times I drove through and saw this exact lot in the Weinland Park neighborhood filled with police cars, investigating some neighborhood crime.

It was the official unveiling of this mural, featuring the brushstrokes of more than 40 adults and kids from the neighborhood (at the corner of 11th & 4th):
A friend got in touch with us Saturday afternoon, in need of a free PA for the event, and wondering if we knew how to procure one. Dan still has enough equipment left over from the club, that, with the help of another friend, he was able to cobble one together.

“Clean up the neighborhood, clean it good! Clean your room, too,” a group of kids told the crowd, in between Sunday school songs and a song they made up about Obama. There was a table of chicken wings, mac & cheese and peas & peanuts for anyone who came by to see what the fuss was about.
The organizers of the mural spoke, along with Max Kennedy (the ninth of RFK’s 11 children), who was there to pump up the crowd. Another local man offered a prayer for the neighborhood, for people involved in “bad things” that he said had happened just the night before.
Here’s the group portrait. There’s more about the event posted on Barack Obama’s Ohio campaign blog, tied to his “Plan for Urban Prosperity.”
“If you lose hope, you lose the vitality that keeps life moving. You lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today, I still have a dream.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (The quote on the mural.)

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Oh no! ‘The Secret’ made me a selfish bee-yotch!

On our one quiet, powerless night after the storm, we rushed around the house in the evening, digging out candles, flashlights and radios. (This thing really bit Ohio on the butt – we’re used to sirens during extreme weather out here, and there weren’t any – just hours of insane winds and a “high wind advisory” if you happened to look at the local weather.) It took at least two hours after our power went out to even find a mention of the weather on the radio.

I listened to firemen tell local talk radio hosts that they had well over 100 power lines down that they hadn’t yet been able to get to, even with every truck and ambulance out on the streets. Then locals called and complained about mulch fires, transformer explosions and, naturally, lost power. Various city and power company officials broke in to say it may be a week before some people have electricity. Cringing over the possibility of facing my week’s deadlines at crammed local cafés instead of in my comfortable home, and wondering if I had enough non-perishable food in the house, I shut the thing off.

The absolute quiet was kind of nice as I climbed into bed early with Declan and got him to sleep. I lay there, not really wanting to risk stirring him with a flashlight, tired, but not quite ready for sleep, so I grabbed my iPod and scanned its contents. There, in my audiobooks, was that cultural phenomenon, The Secret. A friend of mine had sent me the link to the movie repeatedly, then asked if I had watched it or if I was thinking of getting the book to read. I didn’t and I hadn’t. Then she gave me access to her audio copy so that I could have it. I tried to listen to it a year ago, but wasn’t in the mood for self-help, and so it sat, in my iTunes, eventually transferring to my iPod. I gorge on enough pop culture phenomena to not want to miss out on a Oprah prophecy like this on, so I figured I would get to it eventually. I popped in the earbuds on Sunday night and hit play.

If you don’t already know “The Secret,” it is basically that if you simply learn to *expect* the universe to give you everything that you need or desire, it will. Somehow, the author tries to convince you, your anticipatory energy effects the universe and what you get from it. Therefore, if you just think you’ll be wealthy or famous or self-fulfilled or, I don’t know — an iridescent-skinned dancer who cries tears of diamonds — you will.

I lay there Sunday night, listening to the various “evidence” that The Secret works for about 2 chapters, growing drowsier by the minute. In my sleep haze, I suspended disbelief long enough to think “okay, then, the power is coming back on in the morning BECAUSE I SAID SO” and “furthermore, I am going to stop worrying so much about money,” laughed at myself and then fell asleep before 10 o’clock.

Lo and behold, my electricity came on at daybreak, with the beeping of cordless phones, lights and the whirring of the upstairs fan. More than half the city wasn’t so lucky, and there are quite a few even still without power. Then my husband started talking happily about some possible gigs he’s interested in doing, which has been a challenge for him to figure out, just a little over a year after losing his business of nearly 20 years. Then my mom, who was told she wouldn’t have power for two more days, gave us a windfall of frozen food and wouldn’t take any of it back when her power came on.

HOLY CRAP, I started thinking. Say this Secret business did work for me and here I was, not “projecting positive energy” for the hospital down the street to get its power back, or for help for the people who suffered damage from Hurricane Ike, or to end the world’s various wars, or cure the sick or anything honorable. I used my power to avoid inconvenience. I am a selfish BEE-YOTCH!

And so, just in case I really am tapped into some “frequency of the universe” that will make it do my bidding, here are a few of the things that I officially declare will happen that are completely in my self-interest, but plenty of other people’s as well:

1. The easiest & most direct one: Barack Obama will be my President. He will win Ohio. Voting in Columbus and Cleveland will go smoothly this time. Our sense of faith in democracy will begin to be restored.

2. U.S. citizens are going to suddenly be overwhelmed with the urgent and fundamental realization that our greatest strength comes in the form of compassion for people. They will be inspired to not only help the victims of Hurricane Ike, but to completely reevaluate poverty in our country in the face of the current economic crisis. Oh, and internationally…? We’ll realize that nourishing fear of our might doesn’t yield respect. Fear is not respect.

3. Somebody somewhere is currently creating a clean, easy-to-implement green technology that allows cars and electrical systems to run on a resource that’s as renewable as, say, human waste. the whole world will employ it easily and work quickly to undo the harmful effects of global warming so that Earth doesn’t end up like Venus.

What else shall we demand of the universe?

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September 11

The first tower opened the year that I was born, near enough to Manhattan’s bridges and tunnels for my father to traverse them daily. I only went inside of the World Trade Center a handful of times, but I looked to the twin towers constantly. When they came into view from one of the New Jersey freeways, it meant an adventure was close at hand – always a day inside of one or more of the museums, maybe a stop at FAO Schwartz if I was lucky.

The first time I boarded a plane in Columbus, bound for the LaGuardia airport without an adult, it was my 10th birthday. From that point on, my little brother and I made that trip about three times a year to see our father. Divorce had moved us to Ohio with our mom. I always asked my dad if he could book our flight there at nighttime so that I could look for the city. The hammock of skyline bounded by the Empire State building and the towers helped me pick it out. In all of the awkwardness and emotion of a family split, there was comfort in its glimmer.

We got at least one Manhattan adventure on every trip that kept growing in scope — more Broadway, more restaurants, more celebrity-gazing. (Thanks for waving to me when I was 11, and looked at you wide-eyed in Central Park, William Hurt. It was sweet. And frankly, Sean Penn, you kind of scared me.) As a kid, I never imagined that I wouldn’t live there in my adult life.

Seven years ago this morning, I remember turning on the television, seeing both towers still standing, but burning, and wondering what strange apocalyptic movie VH1 was strangely airing that I had never heard of. I realized the same scene was on every channel. Then I had the body memory of standing on the top floor of Tower Two on a spring day so windy that the outdoor observation deck was closed. The building swayed, and over and over, my knees felt weak. I called my dad, thankfully home and safe in Connecticut, who was processing the scene himself, then getting off the phone to talk to my stepmother, who had just arrived in Grand Central station, safe, but stranded in the chaos of the island for the day as everything shut down, as we all watched in shock as the two towers crumbled.

We were safe, and after I waited for news of colleagues, as well as college and childhood friends for several days, I found out that they were safe too. But my dad and my stepmother talked of the empty cars left at the train stations that week, and the heartsickness that pervaded the entire region for months, the heartsickness that’s clearly still there as I’m watching the children of victims, teenagers who must have been so tenderly young when it happened, place flowers on memorials this morning.

Two months before that day, the company that I worked for decided to shut its Columbus office. I could come work in Los Angeles, they said. How about Atlanta? Then one man called and said “would you be interested in coming to New York?” And Dan and I talked about it seriously. Married less than a year, maybe we could move to Hoboken. Maybe I could move there for a few months alone while he tried to sell his business. But moving for a dot-com didn’t seem very wise, finding a place to live with our beloved dog in or around Manhattan didn’t seem feasible, and shutting down in my husband’s night club seemed like it would leave a cultural wound in Columbus. I imagined in an office 13-ish blocks away, and felt selfishly grateful to instead be at a distance of 477 well-worn miles.

But for all of the hours I spent weepy and confused and frightened and on the phone or watching the horrible-ness and heartbreak and tragedy of it all on television that day, there’s one memory that stands out in my mind most of all. My mother called me to remind me that it was my grandmother’s birthday. I called her close to evening.

“Well, whoever thought I wanted this for my birthday was a real shithead,” my grandmother told me. She wasn’t that salty-tongued most of the time, but you know, sometimes events call for it. “They should take it back.”

In two more days, she would be facing the two-year anniversary of my grandfather‘s death – a man she spent 61+ years head over heels in love with, parented five children with, laughed with and adored. He went into the hospital on the eve of her birthday, then clung dearly to life until he was more than a day clear of it, willfully fighting (if you ask any of his children or grandkids) to leave September 11th with no significance other than it being Grandma’s birthday. He died just a couple of hours after she kissed him goodnight and we all left our hospital vigil, in the early morning hours of September 13.

She had lived through the great depression and World War II. The state of the world shifting, friends and loved ones living in danger of violence — these were not the new experiences for her that they were for me. And September 13 was the day that she received the deepest scar on her heart.

We lost her in 2004, a year before my son was born. Her simple assessment of that day reminded me of how fragile we can be, how quickly scarred and how, reluctantly and painfully or just because we have to, we learn to adapt.

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Because motherhood has made me a nerd…

This video was going around the geekosphere a few weeks ago, but it’s appropriate today, since they’ve officially hit the switch on the Large Hadron Collider. I understand (because I have to be told) that the science in the rap is good for anyone who wants to try and understand what it is exactly that the LHC does.


The site that answers the question, “Has the Large Hadron Collider Destroyed the World Yet?” has been getting all the play, but the live-blogging of the opening events at Cosmic Variance is more informative.

In other nerd news, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait put out a great digest of Barack Obama’s science policy that I think you should read. This is one critical area that Hillary Clinton covered well during the primaries, that I felt Obama did not. I’m happy to see that he’s adopted most of what I liked about her platform, and then some. Yay!

P.S. Yo, America – let’s call a moratorium on thinking about, discussing or otherwise considering animals wearing make-up, okay? All of these euphemisms are making the presidential election seem like a Fellini film.

P.P.S. John McCain, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I mean, really.

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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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Little known facts

Just as I was coming down from this week of emotional Democratic Convention watching, today’s crazy Republican V.P. choice was announced.

Little is known about Sarah Palin by most folks in the country. So microblogging platform Twitter has overflowed with a contagious case of “Little Known Facts” about her, a mini-meme that spiraling out of control. They are proliferating by the moment: check them out.

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The fideicommissum of my achoo

I’ve been prone since Friday afternoon, when a nasty summer cold walloped me into bed. I missed a birthday party, a couple of nice days and a dog festival, but I saw a lot of television. I watched Olympic synchronized swimming and the movie Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus. I think the synchronized swimming was the more surreal of the two.

Obama picking Joe Biden was slightly surreal, but only because I had a fever when I got the text message. In reality, I find this decision so logical it borders on Vulcan, and I say that with confidence now that I’m so well hydrated. And I’m not the only person who has thought about the virtuous connections between Obama and Spock.

Really, yay for Joe Biden. For at least two years, he’s been one of the only politicians I could listen to talk about Iraq without pulling my hair out. And I’m an Ohio voter who went for Hillary (head vote) over Obama (heart vote) in the primary. Put that one on your cafeteria lunch tray, punditface.

Today I’m dry coughing so horribly, I think tumbleweeds might come shooting out of my mouth. And my son just told me that he wants to be the solar system for Halloween, which means I probably need to take a sewing class or three.

This week I have a couple of little deadlines, but right now, most of my job involves looking for more work, which always feels like a lot more work than working does. I should be more unnerved about this than I am. I have a couple of prospects out there that feel like long shots, and yet, I feel like Tony from West Side Story singing “Something’s Coming.” I think I know better than to let Riff and Bernardo fight at the rumble, but I guess there’s no guarantee I won’t be shot down on the tennis court.

Phew. I’ll leave you with this parting thought:

“Your love is like 1000 caucasian carnivores playing mumblety peg with an eggplant. ”

Courtesy of the Surrealist Compliment Generator , which I have been drawn back to every seven months since I first found it in 1997 or so. It restores my sense of balance.

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