Friday, October 31, 2008


Yes, we are really good Jews. Instead of going to temple for Shabbat, we went trick-or-treating on a pagan holiday! Yeah baby! Happy Shabballoween to you, too, Tribe Members!

Bambina "Tinkerbell" (and we) had an awesome time. First, we went out with our neighbors who also have little kids. This meant that we started out at 5:15, a ludicrously early time for anyone with kids over the age of 6, but parfait for those of us with une petite fille who is punch drunk with fatigue--and therefore borderline uncontrollable--by 6:30. Not cranky, mind you. I literally (well, figuratively) mean drunk, like silly and loopy.

We went from our neighborhood to Gram and Pop's neighborhood for additional trick or treating. Gram--Oscar winning costume designer that she is--did in fact create Bambina's wished-for oven, microwave and window costumes. Bambina could not have been more delighted. How cool are YOUR grandparents, huh? Some day Bambina will tell her friends, "My Pop loved me so much he dressed up as a double oven--and in his own neighborhood even!"

This year was so much fun because Bambina really now gets it: You dress up as something that makes you feel wonderful. Then you knock on doors and people give you tons of candy. In the dictionary, that is the definition of "fun," if I'm not mistaken. She also really actually enjoys hanging out with the boys across the street. She was just running around like a crazy person with these boys from house to house, and only wanted me to come to the door with her when we reached that obligatory house in the neighborhood where that guy goes balls-out for Halloween. You know, giant spiders, weird sounds, those animatronic witch/corpse bride thingies that activate when you walk by. I know she's scared when she says very loudly and unprompted, "That skeleton not scary to me." Riiight.

So here are some pics, with the usual no-face Bambina. I do this for a reason I may or may not have mentioned previously. But since it's Halloween and you need a little grown-up scare, let me tell you why. I routinely google Bambina and her friends just to make sure they have not popped up on anything public. I have done this ever since (long-time readers may remember) acquaintances from our China trip posted photos of our family on their public website, with our full names and Bambina's adoption information. Their boundaries are obviously far lower than ours, so they perplexedly removed it when I asked them to, not understanding why we wouldn't want to share our joy with the world. So I did my usual googling (post-drama with this family) and found our friend's daughter on a random website dedicated to people with her name. What the people of this site had done was literally lift this little girl's photo from that family's public site and then re-post it on their own--with her full name attached. Now I don't know about you, but the thought of random people taking my daughter's photo and putting it on some website for anyone to see--and I mean anyone, be they a pedophile or what--just makes my blood run cold. So it's not that I don't want YOU to see Bambina. It's just that once I put her photo up here I lose control over what anyone else does with it, and that freaks me out in ways I can't even bring myself to contemplate. So until she's, let's say in college, you will not see her face on this blog. No offense. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Strategy of the Day!

Here is a new feature of SSHaggis for your enjoyment until November 4th:

Strange Bedfellows

Andrew Sullivan's campaign sign of the day:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bambina's BFFs

Bambina often tells me about her day at school looong after the day has ended. In perhaps a painful prelude to her adolescence, I ask her how preschool was, she says "good," and then 5 hours later I get the whole megillah.

So tonight over dinner she said in a very serious manner, "Mama, I have to tell you something that happened at school today." I got nervous watching her obviously working herself up to tell me The News. She seemed a bit upset and then said, "Today at school Ezra told everyone that he was my best friend! But I didn't give him permission to be my best friend! I am not friends with boys, Mama! He's not my best friend!" [cue Mama's palpable relief that this was the major issue weighing on her child's mind].

I foolishly began by saying, "Well that was sweet of Ezra to say!" She gave me the "whose side are you ON?" look, so I took a different tack. "Sweet Girl, okay, a few things here. First and foremost: you do not have to be best friends with Ezra, okay? Just because he says it's so does not make it so. I repeat: you do not have to be best friends with Ezra. OK?" [cue Bambina's palpable relief that some--ick--boy cannot just decide you guys are BFFs and that's that]. Okay. "Second. That was actually a very nice thing for Ezra to say. Because it's a nice thing that he likes you enough that he wants to be your best friend, just like you like Sophia and Allie and Shiri, right? So Ezra is a nice boy for saying that." {Ezra is actually a totally lovely kid with whom Bambina actually does play a lot and talk about a lot--and bonus: I LOVE his mother}. She conceded that, fine, it was a nice sentiment to express. So: "Third. When someone is nice to us and is our friend, we do not say or do mean things to them, and we try not to hurt their feelings. So we're not going to say to Ezra that he can't be our Best Friend; that would hurt his feelings. If he presses it, you can either tell him that you are only BFFs with girls or that it is fine for him to be your BFF, but that you also want to have other BFFs too." Bambina: "But Mama! I am NOT friends with boys! I only play with them! Playing with is not being friends!"

I felt like I was conversing with a commitment-phobic ex-boyfriend. We can date, but not be "dating." We are "exclusive" until he meets someone else. We love each other but he's not "in love." Like, Oh yeah Ezra: a few rounds up the climbing wall and now you want to label us?! So now we've got to be defined? Pulling out the ol' "So what is it that we're doing here?" question just 8 weeks into preschool?! Bambina don't play dat. She was not havin' it at all. So who knows what she's going to say to poor, sweet, adorable Ezra tomorrow when he tries to all BFF her again during circle time. This is one of those teachable moments--for me--wherein I learn that I cannot script my daughter's life interactions, even at the age of 4 1/2.

Oh--did I mention she's 4 1/2? Because she has mentioned it. About 4 1/2 million times. She's 4 1/2. Which, if you aren't aware, makes her older than her classmates who have the heartbreaking misfortune to be "just 4." We had a little come-to-jesus moment last week when we had to break it to her that you don't get a party for being "a-half" anything. No cake, no party, no friends over for funny hats and party games. Her next come-to-jesus will be when she finally, substantively understands that being a half-year older does NOT catch you up to your older classmates. Time bends for no one, not even a 4 1/2 year old.

The Infomercial NOT starring Chuck Norris

Watched the Obama infomercial tonight. In fact, I told Bambina that she needed to be asleep by 8 so I could watch it. She asked if she could watch it too. I gave her points for effort, but said that bedtime rituals are the one area this year in which I prefer "more of the same" to any kind of change. She dutifully drifted off at 7:45, not the least of which because she was up at 6:30am today, all bright eyed and bushy-tailed, and then was draggin' her wagon by 3pm.

So. The Infomercial. I approached my viewership of said presentation with a sizeable quantity of apprehension. Oh dear God, please don't let him overreach with 6 days to go. Do not use Greek columns. Do not do a 30-minute biography, as inspiring as I find it to be. Do NOT delay the World Series (not an issue; game time = 8:40). Do not let Joe make any "Hidin' the Biden" dirty jokes. Just get in, get out, and get elected, for land sakes.

Obama obviously reads my diary. The focus of the infomercial was not Obama, but voters. It was a series of short vignettes featuring "average Americans" (from swing states) struggling with jobs, health care, retirement savings. After each vignette Obama spoke about his policy proposals to fix the problems outlined in the vignettes. It was actually pretty well done, in my opinion. Which is the opinion of a person 100% not the target demographic for the show; so who the heck knows how it went down in "real America" where perhaps people were just pissed that they were missing Two and a Half Men or something.

In any case, I walked away from the broadcast a fully committed supporter of Obama--and the proud owner of a state-of-the-art Juiceman juicer! Three easy payments, baby. Now THAT is change you can believe in.

You Can Vote However You Like

Courtesy of The Moderate Voice, a cute--and timely-video from the kids at Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy: You Can Vote However You Like!

Ladies in their Eighties

Hat tip to The Moderate Voice for this link. Oh my lord these ladies are funny:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Very Superstitious

I'm getting superstitious about the election, and it's making me not want to blog about it in case I tempt the Fates or anger the leprechauns or whatever. Especially after listening about voter suppression on NPR, where the specter of voter disenfranchisement was made real. The GOP is making much of ACORN and the false voter registrations turned in by lazy workers (John McCain said in the debate that they were perpetrating the "worst fraud" in American history), but according to all of the studies and experts who follow our electoral process, the actual incidence of voter fraud is--and always has been--extremely low. Rather, voter suppression has been more the rule in America. Either by outright voter roll purging of eligible voters or by more oblique methods, such as having 4 or more hour waits to vote in poor areas of the country(four hours; think about that), or by organizations sending out fliers telling Democrats to vote on November 5th. So it appears that the real danger this year is not massive voter fraud (since Mickey Mouse cannot, in fact, vote even if he is on the rolls; nor can thousands of people across the country credibly-and in unison-get 54 fake IDs under the names of the Dallas starting lineup and go from polling place to polling place voting); the real danger is voter disenfranchisement, as some states (New Jersey, Ohio, etc) have been purging qualified voters from their lists. But you can be sure that if Obama wins, the Right--having already successfully ginned up the Voter Fraud Myth--will attribute it to that rather than to their candidate being perhaps the worst since Bob Dole thought it was HIS turn to be President.

Anyhoo. Like I said, I'm getting nervous, so posts on politics will be getting thin. Because, as you know, what I say on this blog has the power to change an entire nation's future. ;) Riiight.

So let's talk Bambina The Contrarian. She loves John McCain. Says she's voting for him because she loves mean people. So we got her a John McCain fridge magnet to go with our Obama one. Then I gave her, as a special gift, my old Bush magnet that had his "I believe the human being and fish can coexist peacefully" quote. She's pretty delighted. She also "loves the Yankees!" This is breaking the BBDD's heart, but he's seeing the humor in it. You know. As long as she doesn't Bring One Home, right? So pretty much everything we like she finds it humorous to like the opposite. On a good day, I call it independent thinking. On days where all I'm getting is pushback worthy of Russert, I call it Time For a Time Out.

But it's a dilemma, letting her have her own opinions and interests, even though it probably shouldn't be. Yesterday her swim teacher told me that she has "the best form" he's ever seen in a kid her age, that she straight-leg kicks almost innately, and that blah blah, I'm not sure of the swimming terminology. Point being, he thinks she could be a fantastic swimmer, tiny wee person that she is. Her take? No EFFING WAY MAMA. Well, more like, "Mama, I don't want to go in the pool ever again, okay?!" So here we have a situation where my kid might be talented at something she completely hates. Do we encourage her to do it more or let her be as a hater? I did tell her that she needed to continue swim lessons till she wasn't afraid of the water and until I could know that she would be able to not drown in a body of water. She accepted that, thankfully. But the evil wheels of stage parenthood were turning in my head when he said she was "a natural," even though I added, "Yeah, except for the whining for a full day before we get here, and the terror-stricken wailing as you get her in the water, right?" Point being, I have stage mother tendencies, which frightens me more than a McCain-Palin Administration.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do Not Ignore This Warning

I've often wondered how gay people can be Republicans. I now wonder the same about my fellow Jews. A recent letter from the Pennsylvania Republican Party to Jewish voters falsely states that Barack Obama trained "members of Acorn to commit voter registration fraud." And then it Goes There. It likens a vote for Obama to the "tragic mistake" of our "ancestors" who ignored the "warning signs in the 1930's and 1940's."

Hellooo? For real? Alleging that a vote for Obama is a vote for Hitler? Not to mention making the implication that those who perished back in "the 1930's and 1940's" somehow "ignored" something obvious? Pardon me for saying that being forced to wear a yellow star and losing your livelihood (among the many other things I won't even begin to enumerate here that led to the Holocaust) were hardly situations being "ignored" by Jews at the time. But beyond that--who the F approved this letter? And--the larger question--what Jew would want to belong to a party that finds this an appropriate use of Holocaust history?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Looks Like I'm Not an A**hole

Shocker. The Ashley Todd-Big-Black-Obama-Supporter-Attacked-and-Maimed-Me story is a lie. But we already knew that.

What we did not already know was that the Communications Director of the Pennsylvania McCain campaign was pushing a more incendiary version of the story to the media, before the facts or details had been established by the police. And, to double-down on the race-baiting, Sarah Palin CALLED THIS WOMAN, and thereby--like a fucking rank amateur--injected herself and the campaign into what could have been a very ugly, nationally-disastrous incident had it been true. You betcha she's dangerous.

I've said all along that McCain is running a completely inept campaign with a sprinkle of pure evil. I have now decided that it's the inverse: he is running a completely evil campaign with a sprinkle of ineptitude.

In this country, with our history (that I don't need to remind you is not ancient, but rather only 40-50 years ago), to get involved in any way with promoting this story of a big black man attacking, sexually assaulting, and disfiguring a white woman on behalf of a black candidate for office, when the facts of that "attack" had yet to be established and confirmed is beyond stupid. It is criminally insane. It is beyond criminally insane, actually. It is irresponsible in a way that most decidedly does not put Country First. Might I add that I'm giving them a pass by just saying it's criminally insane and irresponsible. If I didn't feel compelled to believe better of him and his employees (you know, the people he "associates with"), I'd have to wonder if they didn't just imagine they'd found their desperately-desired October Surprise when they heard this "terrible" news...

I don't think John McCain is a racist. But I do think his campaign (and therefore he, as in "I'm John McCain and I approved this message") is okay with exploiting any racism that might exist for his own benefit. Why else--with 11 days to go, and so much ground to make up--would you involve your campaign in an issue like this?

A Key Endorsement for McCain-Palin

B or BS?

That's the headline of this article detailing the alleged politically-motivated attack on a John McCain supporter.

I will happily eat my words--with full on grovelling--if this attack took place as the alleged victim said it did. But for now I have to go out on a limb and call bullshit on it. She said that she was mugged at an ATM, and when the attacker saw the McCain bumpersticker on her car, he (a large black man, of course) carved a 'B' into her face in anger.

Here's my issue, beyond even Michelle Malkin's doubts regarding the actual injury and the woman's subsequent statements to police, and refusal to go for medical help (a person I NEVER quote on this site): as flippant as it sounds, anyone supporting Obama would have carved an 'O' not a B. Nobody who supports Obama feels all intergalactically and spiritually connected to the letter B. It's all about the O. That would be like all those people who loved George W. Bush back in the day walking around making "G" signs with their fingers. Nope; it was all about the W. Nobody cared about the G, and nobody cares about the B.

Like I said, if it did happen as she said it did, then I'm an asshole and I'll take my lumps. But if not, it either didn't happen at all or--you read it here first--she was, in fact, attacked, by a supporter of Bob Barr.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Take Me Off Your List, My Friend.

I received a letter from Sarah Palin last week. The BBDD received one from John McCain yesterday. Both thanking us for being such dedicated supporters, and asking for assistance to beat back the torrent of attacks from the "Obama Democrats."

If you haven't clued in yet, I'm clearly not a supporter of McCain-Palin. Full disclosure. But once again I just have to speak to the rank amateur performance of the McCain campaign in the area of campaign fundamentals. Like mailing lists. I recognize that mix-ups occur all the time, or that sometimes your name ends up on a list because you donated to something in memory of someone whether you support that cause or not. I get that. But we are REGISTERED DEMOCRATS. We have FEC-available records showing that we (okay, me) are rather dedicated donors to Democratic candidates. We have never given money to a Republican candidate in our lives. Not because we vote party line, but just because we haven't seen one we want to vote for yet in the states in which we've lived. ;)

So how did we each get a letter from the campaign thanking us for past support that never occurred, and exhorting us to defeat the very man we both pray will win? It's pretty funny. For me. But it shouldn't be to the McCain campaign. It's a major breakdown in the very nuts and bolts of the campaign, to be spending money mailing to people who laugh at your letters...and who clearly, if any type of suppression list had been used (it's direct marketing inside baseball, but in general that is the way organizations ensure you don't get multiple mailings, or that you meet the specific demographics they're looking to target, such as suppressing all males under 35 years old, etc.), would have been bounced HARD from your final mailing list.

I say, keep 'em coming, Senator McCain! Feel free to spend as much as you'd like to on cultivating my support. ;)

I Wonder How Pro-America Small Towns Feel About...

the fact that the RNC has spent $150,000 on Sarah Palin's outfits since September. Plus a couple hundred on baby stuff and about $4,000 on menswear for Todd Palin. And not at your local Walmart, either, folks. At Neiman Marcus ($75,000), Bloomingdales and Barneys, to name a few.

Nothing wrong with making the VP candidate look the part--to the tune of $150K. Just don't pretend you're all "just folks" and less "elitist" than me while doing it.

Bambina Bon Mots, Part 876

Bambina has been on fire lately.

Yesterday we were discussing baby names. We'd had some drama in the AM because our social worker called to finalize our home study before sending it to Homeland Security (so we can get FBI fingerprints and then, finally, our approval to bring Baby Sister home). She kept talking with me during the call even though I made it clear that "Mama is on the phone." (This is my pet peeve, talking to an adult and constantly having the sentence interrupted by a kid in the background. Bambina attempts to do it every day [sometimes successfully], believe me; which means it's not a capital offense. But I just think that at some point you have to draw the line; and for us growing up, an adult on the phone was my opportunity to shut my cakehole or face the consequences). So the BBDD, working from home, banished her to the couch while I went into a room and closed the door (ie, you can be near Mama if you behave; if you don't know how to act appropriately, you have to go be alone till you do). So when I came out and saw the big tears rolling down the face I talked to her about how its important that the social worker finished that big pile of paper, just like we did for her, so that the second China calls, we can start packing our suitcases to go bring Baby Sister home, and wouldn't we be sad if China called and we couldn't go because we didn't finish our big pile of paper? She got it, because she has been waaay psyched to be a big sister for about a year now and keeps asking if Baby Sister has been born yet (Answer: We don't know, but let's wonder together! I'm sure she's in her Chinese mother's tummy already; do you think she's still in there or already out and with her nannies in the big room?) Anyway, this led to a discussion later in the afternoon about what we are going to name her. I offered her some of our ideas, all of which received a quick, "I don't like that." When I asked what her thoughts were she immediately said, "Petunia!" Oh. "Petunia like the flower?" "Yes!" Okay, what about a middle name, the one that will come before her Chinese name (we have a two-middle-name policy in my family, a tradition I never want to lose. So we do a first name/middle name/Chinese name/last name thing; also because we don't want the girls to lose their Chinese names as if they didn't exist as people until we named them or something). Her answer? In all earnestness, not as a joke: "Stinkyfeet." So, wherever you are in the universe, dear daughter, your big sister can't wait to meet you. And call you Petunia Stinkyfeet.

Pop told me yesterday that when he and Bambina were out recently, she asked him to stop singing along with the Wilburys CD in the car. "I don't like when you sing." He asked her, "since when have you not liked me singing along with the Wilburys?" (something they've done as long as Bambina has known about the Wilburys). Her answer: "Since July 1st!"

Our long-lost friend Mike D was in town for business, so we had him over for dinner. He brought Bambina a book about the Emperor's New Clothes. We read and read that story even though she didn't quite understand the thrust of it. What she did get was that the Emperor called one of his minions a "dunderhead." So now her insult of choice is, rather amusingly in public, "You are a dunderhead!" Which makes us look like we are not only raising a rude kid, but one skilled in the art of Shakespearean Insult.

And finally, Bambina and her cousin H did potty together while we were at my sister's house in DC, during which they apparently agreed that pottying together with another girl is okay. And maybe, by special dispensation, even two girls and one pre-approved boy. "But, Mama, if 89 people are watching, that's not going to work for me."

Me neither.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Doing the Right Thing

I've had a raging migraine all day that at long last will not relent, so I'm going to bed right now to hopefully sleep it off. Before I do, I want to link to a wonderful piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates on Barack Obama's grandparents, lauding ordinary people for doing the right thing. It's appropriate as Obama flies to Hawaii to see his ailing grandmother, and poignant in that she may not live to see what November 4th holds for the grandson she helped raise. What struck me--and what may strike you--is how much he looks like his grandfather, especially in the eyes and face shape. It's perhaps more striking because of his grandfather's young age in the photo. In any case, this is a nice piece on doing the right thing.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Powell Doctrine

Colin Powell's doctrine outlines eight questions that must be answered in the affirmative before the United States should commit its military to war. A short version is encapsulated in his "Pottery Barn Rule:" You break it, you own it.

Well, as much as the Right wants to say he's endorsed Obama "because he's Black," consider what he said were his reasons for the endorsement (boldface mine):

I know both of these individuals very well. I’ve known John for 25 years, as your set-up said, and I’ve gotten to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past 2 years. Both of them are distinguished Americans who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think, would be a good president. I have said to Mr. McCain that I admire all he has done. I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years it has moved more to the right than I would like to see it, but that’s a choice the party makes.

And I’ve said to Mr. Obama, you have to pass a test of ‘do you have enough experience?’ And do you bring the judgment to the table that would give us confidence that you would be a good president. And I’ve watched them over the past two years frankly, and I’ve had this conversation with them. I have especially watched over the last 6 or 7 weeks as both of them have really taken a final exam with respect to this economic crisis that we’re in and coming out of the conventions.

And I must say that I’ve gotten a good measure of both, and in the case of Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we were having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem.

And that concerned me, sensing that he did not have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She’s a very distinguished woman, and she’s to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President.

And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

On the Obama side, I watched Mr. Obama, and I watched him during this 7-week period. And he displayed a steadiness, an intellectual curiosity, a depth of knowledge, and an approach to looking at problems like this and picking a Vice President that I think is ready to be president on day one, and also in, not just jumping in and changing every day, but show intellectual vigor. I think that he has a definitive way of doing business that would serve us well.

I also believe that on the Republican side, over the last 7 weeks the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower. Mr. Obama at the same time has given us some more broader inclusive reach into the needs and aspirations of our people. He’s crossing lines-- ethnic lines, racial lines, generational lines. He’s thinking about all villages have values, all towns have values, not just small towns have values. And I’ve also been disappointed frankly by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign has, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says he’s a washed out terrorist—well, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship, that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, now Mr. Obama is tainted. What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings, and I think that’s inappropriate.

Now I understand what politics is all about, I know how you can go after one another. And that’s good. But I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrower. It’s not what the American people are looking for.

And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign and they trouble me.

And the party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has indicated a further rightward shift. I would have difficulty with two more conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, but that’s what we would be looking at in a McCain administration. I’m also troubled by…what members of the party say, and is permitted to be said, such things as, ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, 'He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.'

But the really right answer is, 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer’s 'No, that’s not America.'

Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture, at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave, and as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, purple heart, bronze star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death, he was 20 years old, and then at the very top of the headstone, it didn’t have a Christian cross, it didn’t have a Star of David, it had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Ushad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11. And he waited until he could go serve his country, and he gave his life.

Now we have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know, but I’m troubled about the fact that within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

So when I look at all of this and I think back to my army career, we’ve got two individuals. Either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time? And I’ve come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities, as well as his substance, he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president being an exceptional president, I think he is a transformational figure, he is a new generation, coming onto the world stage, the American stage. And for that reason, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

Rush, George Will? It's not because Obama and Powell are black. It's because Powell is--and always has been--a member of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. As much as his reputation was tarnished by his role in the Iraq War, Powell has not once come under fire for "playing the race card" or for racial demagoguery of any kind. He has always been widely respected on all sides of the aisle. But as soon as he endorses Obama, all of a sudden it has to be about race? It has to be "a black thing?"

If you read his statement, it's clearly more of a Palin thing. An intolerance among Party leadership thing. A battle for the soul of the Republic Party thing. This is a man who sees his party drifting ever-rightward, where actual Republican members of Congress in 2008 are actually calling for investigations into "anti-" and "pro-America" members. Where a Democrat can be breezily called a "socialist" even though not one person hurling the epithet can competently offer an actual definition of the word (or, more darkly, perhaps they can, which adds to the dishonesty). Where, as Powell says, the word "Muslim" can be made synonymous with "terrorist" in ways that previously were used against other out-groups in this and other countries. Where a Vice-Presidential candidate can, without censure from her campaign or party, deem areas of the United States not "pro-America," by virtue of their support for another candidate.

So Powell's endorsement is actually in line with his Pottery Barn rule, in the sense that John McCain, by pandering to the Uber-Right in his selection of Sarah Palin and his dedication to appointing anti-choice judges (later statement eschewing litmus tests notwithstanding), has broken the Republican Party. And now he gets to own it, which means that the more moderate members have nowhere to go but out.

That said, I don't necessarily think the endorsement--or any endorsement for that matter--truly makes a difference. But it ought to be a huge, fat, ringing wake-up call to "real" Republicans. You can be for NObama; that's fair enough if you don't agree with his policies. But you are for McCain-Palin at your own risk, policies be damned. Or as Bill Buckley used to say: "I've spent my life trying to separate the Right from the kooks." John McCain has empowered the kooks, and you are beyond naive (or in total denial) if you think they won't be empowered in his administration after bringing him to power.

Home Sweet Home Again

Road trips are great. Homecomings are better.

La Familia Haggis has returned to HQ, and it feels good y'all.

What a trip! First of all, the thing we did last of all was attend GiGi's 90th Birthday party. Let me tell you a little bit about GiGi. GiGi rocks. GiGi was country when country wasn't cool. By which I mean that she took vitamins before they were invented, wore sunscreen when everyone else was coppertoning, never smoked even when everyone else did, owned businesses before the majority of women did so, and all around has been a woman before her time, every time. She loves her kids, her grandkids and her great-grandkids. She is a nudge in all the best ways. She knows from fun, she knows from good food, and she knows what you're up to even before you do. She's a one-of-a-kind lady. And damn if she doesn't look great to boot.

Happy Birthday, GiGi! Keep 'em comin'!

Before that we spent an awesome time in DC with family and friends...and our old dry cleaner. Let's call her Miss Lee. She was our neighborhood dry cleaner in DC. A lovely lady who had doted on Bambina from the day we brought her home. As you recall we left DC in a bit of rush, so we never got to stop in and say goodbye. I made sure to send her a holiday card (one of those obnoxious Here Are Photos Of My Kid cards. I don't apologize.) explaining that we had moved. She got the card but must not have totally understood what I wrote, because just a short while ago our good friends went in and their daughter saw Bambina's photo on the wall and said, "Hey, that's my friend!" Okay. For a year and a half, this poor lady has thought that she must have done something to make us not like her. Luckily, our friends filled her in and mentioned that we'd be in town, so after seeing my mom and sister and nieces, we HAD to see Miss Lee. She was so lovely to Bambina, and so sweet, so I just felt terrible that she'd thought we'd just dissed her. As you can imagine, Bambina has literally ZERO memory of sweet Miss Lee, being that she was 2 years old during their last encounter. So the reunion was more her trying to get to the playground across the street while Miss Lee tried in vain to hug her. So I did lots of Miss Lee hugging instead. Especially when she handed us two shirts and a tie that we'd forgotten in our drama to pick up...18 months ago.

While I visited Sister J (word!) one day (after it became clear that we could not put Bambina in the car for one more ride), BBDD and Bambina went to the National Zoo. Where they saw lots of animals. Tortoises in particular. One large tortoise on top of a smaller tortoise, to be specific. One large tortoise on top of a smaller tortoise, while moving back and forth, to be more specific. One large tortoise on top of a smaller tortoise, while moving back and forth, while making unholy grunting noises, to be mortifyingly specific. The BBDD tells the story better, being that he was there to explain that the larger tortoise was "keeping the smaller one warm," but you get my point at what my child unwittingly witnessed. Or, as the BBDD said, "I looked closer and hadn't realized that tortoises had those body parts. And certainly not so large."

We stayed with my Mum most of the time, but decided to do a couple of nights in a hotel just to give Bambina a real vacation time, like, woo hoo! Free continental breakfast! Oh dear god. This was a nice hotel, but I completely overestimated my ability, from a germophobic perspective, to sit on a toilet not my own. It was a completely fun time, but I would be lying if I said I didn't immediately launder everything that had touched anything in the hotel, as soon as we got back to my Mum's house. And you KNOW I didn't let even my shoes touch that comforter...

We stopped at a McDonalds on the drive home (go ahead and judge but my kid eats it and miraculously drinks milk as long as it's in that little bottle from McD's, so you can kiss my lilywhite!). Regardless, mad props to the BBDD, striking a blow for feminism everywhere. At the drive-thru when we ordered the Happy Meal, the lady asked, "Would you like a boy or a girl toy?" He and I looked at each other like, what? He asked, "What are the choices?" She replied, "Boy or Girl."
Him: "But what are the toys?"
Her: "Boy or girl toys."
Him: "Yes. But what are those toys? What are the choices of toys for boys or girls?"
Her: "Barbie for girls, Hot Wheels for boys."
Him: "We'll take the Hot Wheels."

Bambina has a Hot Wheels collection, a parking garage, and a bigfoot tire-shaped car caddy for all her vehicles. She, perhaps more than we, was irritated that they only offered cars to boys. I was so proud! Her final pronouncement: "That not nice!" We used the drive-thru situation to introduce the concept of "challenging the premise" (to not necessarily accept an either/or or a yes/no that someone else offers you), a lesson that will serve her well in life, but will absolutely ruin any chances of us maintaining any sort of discipline over the next decade...

So, we're home. I'd say, "Where the heart is," which is true. But little pieces of my heart are still in DC, Maryland and New Jersey. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cho The Plumber

Another Day, A Little More Hate

Another Palin rally, another video of racist "Christians." I'd yawn if it weren't so effing scary. But thank God, as one guy says, that Sarah Palin is "filled with the Holy Spirit." Because only someone filled with the love of Jesus would appeal to truly frightening people like this, right? Christians should demand their good name back from Sarah Palin and her friendlies. In the meantime, fellow tribe members: this is what you're voting for.

Oops He Did It Again

Another big oopsie for the McCain campaign. Turns out that the much-discussed "Joe the Plumber" from last night's debate who would suffer so terribly under the Obama tax plan? A relative of Charles Keating. I shit you not.

Now THAT is some seriously, outstandingly, amazingly, awesomely bad research work on the part of the McCain campaign. But tell us something we don't already know, right?

UPDATE: Okay, so it turns out it's not the right Charles Keating. My bad. In my defense, the site I linked to is traditionally a Rightie kind of site, so I was rather sure that if they had the story it wasn't "Kos"-type info. Hope that makes my commenter feel better that I did consider the source before posting. :)

Also, for what it's worth:
"In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama's tax plan wouldn't affect him right now, because he doesn't make $250,000. "But I hope someday I'll make that," he said.

"If you believed (Obama), I'd be receiving his tax cuts," Wurzelbacher said. "But I don't look at it that way. He'd still be hurting others."

As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn't been contacted by the Republican campaign.

So he's not actually purchasing the Newell Plumbing Company and he's not actually making--or about to make--more than $250,000 a year either individually or as a small business (the Newell Plumbing Company currently makes about $100,000). So why the false question? I'm not trying to attack the guy; my initial post was about the ineptitude of the McCain campaign, not about Joe The Plumber. It's just so curious that someone would make up a whole story in a rope line that can easily be proven false...and from someone who currently WOULD benefit from the Obama tax plan! Weird.

The Trip So Far

Not much access to the 'net, so the trip recap will probably have to come when we're all back home. That said, Bambina is having a good time but is frazzled. Out of her schedule, sleeping in different beds, relatively little downtime. She actually said to us on the metro as we were proposing another activity: "Okay, but can I nap first?" When your child, who has not napped or indicated a need to nap in almost 2 years, specifically requests a nap, you know you've overscheduled her. So we're ratcheting down the meet-and-greets and just taking her to the zoo where she can look at the monkeys instead of being asked to perform like one for our friends. :) There are only so many times and ways in one day that you can ask your 4 year-old to "say hello to..." and "say thank you to..." people who hold very little meaning to her but who are all cooing over her nonetheless, before she has every right to protest. It went like this: "But when can we go to a playground?" Message received. So we met friends at playgrounds instead of restaurants, in their homes instead of restaurants. Places where we could speak like adults but that didn't require her to sit still and behave for 90 full minutes beyond her ability to do so. After all, it's fun for us but it has got to be excruciating boredom for her. And in the end, it ain't a real family vacation if the whole family ain't having fun. So no more social obligations for the rest of the trip. Just kiddie fun.

Here are a couple of pics from the trip:
Dan Zanes Rocks the Hizzy

Dan Zanes Brings Bubbles!

George Washington Is Pissed: That Looks Nothing Like Me!

Finally, a playground!

Looking Presidential

...if "eye rolling" meets that definition.

The Final Debate

This was both John McCain’s best debate performance and Barack Obama’s worst. McCain was on the offense and fiery. Obama was a bit flat and what some call “professorial” in his responses. I was not loving what he was doing. Having said that, apparently the Undecideds were loving it just fine, giving the debate by a wide margin to Obama.

My thoughts right off the bat include the declaration that, like or dislike either man or his policies, neither is stupid. When they were haggling over who voted for the Colombian Free Trade agreement and Obama countered with, “..and that’s why I voted for the Peruvian Free Trade agreement,” I was immediately struck by the fact that I was not aware of either agreement, nor could I—on penalty of death—enumerate for you any aspect of any detail about them. And, unless you are a Hill staffer on the appropriate committee, I’m betting you can’t either. So let’s give these guys their due: they both have command of startlingly small details and nuances of issues we don’t even know are issues. The information both must be able to retain to speak remotely competently on these issues is staggering. (I’ll leave the issues of Sunni and Shia, Spain’s role in NATO, al Qaeda in Iran--and the fact that Sarah Palin's son has Down Syndrome not autism--out of it, for the benefit of McCain). Which leads to my next point: the President of the United States OUGHT to know all this stuff that we don’t. Does that make me an elitist? If so, I’ll gladly wear that badge. I have friends with whom I can drink beer. I have “mom” friends who love their kids, special needs or not. I don’t need to elect my friend.

Having said all that, I was freaking out on Obama for the first 30 minutes of the debate as Mac-n-Cheese took the offense and seemed to take him off-guard. Had McCain done that earlier on in the campaign instead of picking Palin as a gimmick, then suspending his campaign as a gimmick, then lurching from economic idea to economic idea as the crisis hit, then losing his complete credibility as he attempted to say how qualified Palin is for the job of POTUS, he might be ahead in the polls right now. Had the debate ended after half an hour, McCain would have had the “game changer” (a phrase that must be burned at the stake after this election) he so desperately was looking for. The turning point was Ayers and Lewis. McCain expressed his clearly faux dismay that John Lewis had made disparaging remarks about him and his rallies. He wanted Obama to repudiate Lewis’ remarks. Which Obama—and Lewis himself—already had the moment they became public. He then brought up Ayers. Those trend lines on the focus groups just went south all the way. Then Obama came back with how we can sit here and talk about how our feelings are hurt or we can spend the next 3 weeks talking about what matters to the American people. That's when Obama seemed to find his footing, and when McCain seemed to lose the plot in terms of his purpose in this debate.

They Ayers obsession is a mistake. The polls show it, the facts show it. Everybody in Chicago interested in improving public education--Democrat and Republican--has served with Bill Ayers at some point. He's been funded by the Annenbergs, major supporters of Reagan and McCain himself. He's on the faculty at the U of Chicago. So literally thousands of students have "palled around" with Ayers by McCain's definition. But McCain keeps going there, hoping to make something out of nothing. My favorite characterization of McCain's obsession with the Ayers thing comes from Wonkette: "You know how many figs John McCain gives about Bill Ayers? Not two of them, my friends! That is why he is honor-bound to discuss at length in tomorrow night’s debate how the hippie terrorist and Barack Obama were giving each other handjobs back in the 60s."

The Ayers line of attack is a mistake. To win, McCain has to convince people that Obama is risky and unsafe. The sad fact for John McCain in these debates and throughout the political theatrics of his campaign, is that Obama has managed to appear LESS RISKY than John McCain. Think about that. McCain's whole brand--before he destroyed it--was all about service and honor and you-can-sleep-soundly-knowing-my-steady-hand-is-at-the-tiller. That was precisely who John McCain was in the eyes of voters. Think about what he has had to do to himself --and I might add to the potential safety of our country (Palin.Palin.Palin)--to have now a majority of Americans see him as the less steady choice for President. I've personally never seen him as a safe choice in the least. But for those independents who did, his fall from grace has been profound; and this debate did nothing to reverse that.

If you watched on CNN you had a split screen for the entire debate, which was very informative and telling, as you could see each candidate speak while seeing the other's reaction. David Gergen called McCain's performance in the latter half of the debate, "an exercise in anger management" that was painful to watch, and I think that is what it comes down to for a lot of people. "Ready to lead" involves more than years on the job, more than medals on your uniform. It encompasses a whole set of tangibles and intangibles that tell someone watching you (whether in a job interview or in a presidential debate) whether you have the right combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and judgment to do the job before you. If you did not see the split screen debate you must; the visuals on screen are really something to behold, in terms of what they say about temperament and balance as well as policy.

In any case, you can now look forward to the Right attempting to deligitimize this election, by tying Obama to the ACORN fraud (photos of John McCain standing proudly with them a couple of years ago notwithstanding), to Ayers again, to anything that will allow them to whip up their minions into a frenzy. A word on ACORN: voter registration fraud is a truly serious offense. But there is a difference between voter registration fraud and voter fraud, which occurs when a person attempts to actually vote based on a fraudulent registration. My prediction is that we can all look forward to the Repugs, seeing the election falling from their grasp, start finding ways to deligitimize the results.

Once again, check ahead to make sure you are registered. For real.

Monday, October 13, 2008

E For Victory

After an awesome couple of days in NYC and NJ, we are now at my mom's house. Using dial-up to access the internet. It's like stepping back in time, I tell you. But in all good ways. I haven't slept in my parents' place since I had that Angelina dream about my Dad a couple of weeks/months after he died (or, was it the time I woke up and thought it was morning but it turned out to be the exact time on the clock that he had died?), so it's actually really lovely to be here again. Even though the place has lost the Crazy Scotsman look it used to sport (e.g., massive clutter, nail clippers in the pocket of the lazyboy chair, clipboards with recipes attached all over the place), and even though this place in Del Boca Vista has never been my home, it feels like coming home nonetheless simply because this was the last place I was with my Dad before he died in the hospital. My mom has kept the "Dad stuff" that matters and mercifully heaved the exceedingly large quantities of stuff that doesn't. So now it's a totally cute Grandma apartment, full of kids' toys and play kitchens and whatnot. And it's also still the place I remember him reading to Bambina and taking her on leaf-collecting walks. So it's really happiness-inducing to be here.

We did NYC yesterday. Took a horse and carriage ride through Central Park, played on the Big Piano at FAO Schwarz, went to the bathroom at Bergdorf Goodman, rode the subway, ate bialys from Kossar's, and blew our credit limit at Economy Candy. Bambina had her portrait painted by one of those guys sitting around Central Park. He only used black oil paint and various brushes, and he did a pretty decent job. There was a wedding going on at The Plaza Hotel which had moved outside; a photographer was taking a picture of the groom serving the bride a cone from an ice cream truck. We walked by and my first thought was, "Oh that's so sweet!" Then I looked at the picture being taken: a groom handing an ice cream cone out a truck window, over which was written, "Mister Softee." Not exactly the most auspicious beginning to marital relations. But that's going to be one hell of a photo!

We then hung out with our almost 90 years-young GiGi in Jersey, eating every meal at various diners and just relaxing and chatting with her. Then today we visited BB's grave for the first time, which was nice. In Jewish tradition you leave a small rock or stone at the grave to show you were there. Bambina brought along her stinky stuffed sheep, Stephan, who also "wants to leave a rock." So she and I went rock searching while the BBDD and GiGi chatted with BB. She found some of that "onion grass" (it's long grassy stuff that smells like onions when you pick it), and because BB did not like his vegetables, she put them on his grave because vegetables are good for him. It was pretty sweet, even though she really does not get the concept of death. She gets that he is gone and that his headstone says his body is there but that his soul is with God. Whatever that means. Nonetheless, she felt good that she left him some greens.

On the way to DC, we stopped off at my old haunt, Johns Hopkins Hospital, to meet up with my wonderful old nurse, Nancy. I had joked that I was going in for "my victory lap," but to be honest I was a bit wobbly for a few minutes there. My only experiences at that hospital involved me being sick, scared, and sick of being scared. I spent 3 days a week there getting various blood products, feeling sick as a dog, tired as all hell, and watching my blood counts drop on a weekly basis. I got all kinds of bad news in that building: that I was going to miss my friend C's baby shower, that epogen was not helping my blood counts, that I was not going to have a 35th birthday party with friends after all, and that I was really really fucked if I didn't get a transplant, like, tomorrow. So for whatever ludicrous reason I somehow thought I'd just walk in there doing my Rocky dance and no harm done. Weeeel. I forgot that in order to feel the victory in having overcome something, your brain has to take you back to the stuff you overcame. And I hadn't quite prepared myself to have the dread and fear and angst come flooding back to me as soon as I stepped through the revolving doors. But there they were. So I was back-footed for about a minute as I talked myself down from my bad nostalgia, back to present day E-ville, where I am not wearing a mask, I am not imminently going to die, I am not going to miss another damn birthday or baby shower of people I love. Fought back some tears. Pulled my shit together and walked in smiling. It was great seeing Nancy, who had never seen my full face without a mask, and great standing in that building on my own two feet, with pink cheeks and a smile. But as we drove away I said to the BBDD, "It was so great to see her! Let's never go back there again, okay?" From my mouth to God's ears, y'all.

So tomorrow is the Old Neighborhood and old friends. Places, again, I haven't seen since leaving in a cloud of fear and illness. It's going to be fun. Right after I give myself that moment to acknowledge--and be okay with the fact--that it wasn't always so good. What the hell. That's still a victory lap. Isn't it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Road Trip Begins

La familia Haggis is on vacation. Which means that blog posts will occur when and as access to the intertubes becomes available. Having said that, you can be certain I will be online for the last debate on Wednesday night.

We're road tripping since I'm still not allowed on airplanes, flying germ incubators that they are. So it's all the open road, baby! We started out yesterday in Rhode Island for the Dan Zanes and Friends show. You'll recall that DZ is Bambina's hero, second only to his former musical partner Barbara. Well, I must make it official: Dan Zanes is the Bruce Springsteen of kids shows. This man performed HARD for 90 minutes. No intermission, only fun and participatory chatting, and always serious rocking. I know Bruce does 4 hours, but think about a 4 year-old's attention span; 90 minutes is taking them to their absolute limit, even for something they are loving. And loving it they were. We had front-row seats and, like that needlepoint cushion advises, we danced and sang like nobody was looking. I may--possibly--have been having more fun than Bambina, but that may only be because I know air guitar and she doesn't. ;)

Bambina is so funny at these shows. The first 15 minutes she just sits there. The other kids are up and dancing, but she is in rapt attention looking at the stage, watching Elena play the violin, Dan play the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo. She couldn't take her eyes off them. Finally I said, "Okay, I'm getting up and dancing!" She rolled her eyes at me, and finally consented to having the BBDD hold her while he was dancing. From there it was Game On, and she completely got into the singing and dancing. It's almost like she thinks it's disrespectful to sing along, to mar in any way Dan's delivery of his music. Then when I told her that she could shout the lyrics as loud as she wanted to, she completely got into it. They also, as if by magic, played all three of her favorite songs, so she was out of her little tree with glee.

Now, I tell you the story of me getting up and dancing without her permission because I see that it will mirror our mother-daughter relationship for the rest of our lives. On the way there I said, "I am so totally getting up and dancing; I can't wait!" Bambina said very earnestly, "Mama. ONLY if Dan says it's okay. Okay?" I assured her that I would wait for the good word and added, "Don't worry, my love, Mama won't embarrass you." {Foreshadowing....} It was very clear for the first 15 minutes of the show that she was just waiting for me to completely embarrass her. So when I jumped up and danced (Dan DID say, "I hope everybody is on their feet!"), her suspicions were confirmed. Eye rolling ensued. Then, happily, she got into it and forgot about me being a complete embarrassment to her sense of decorum at only the most important show of her young life. As she napped (or more accurately, collapsed) in the car after the show I laughed with the BBDD that I had just fired the shot across the bow of what our relationship was going to be. She was going to beg me to not wear that, say that, do that; and I was going to resist, honor her wishes, give it my best, but then I'd just get too exuberant and do it anyway.

My Dad always embarrassed me. He would wear ridiculous outfits that I was sure would lose me every friend I had. He would say ludicrous things, tell lame jokes, and generally just not be in keeping with the image I was trying to project as a young adult. At the time I was mortified by him, almost 24/7, made marginally better only by the fact that my friends seemed to find him charming and hilarious. But still! Why that shirt, for god's sake. Mom? Why did he wear that?! OMG!

Looking back, I realize the value in having a parent embarrass you in all the right ways. He forced me to be more authentically myself than I was trying to be, because how can you pretend you're A if you're clearly a product of B (and more B than A yourself)? (And, the corollary: how do you learn that your parents are not you, and you are not them? That another person's actions don't necessarily reflect on you)? How can you be successful in life if you are constantly trying to be someone you are not? How do you develop the character to see people for more than their clothes and their jokes? How do you learn that the world ain't gonna fall in line and blow sunshine at you just because you demand it? And, most importantly, how do you develop the character to love and value your family no matter what anyone else thinks? Yes, I felt embarrassed by his exuberance. But I survived and thrived as a direct result of that embarrassing exuberance, surrounded by friends whose parents went along with whatever they demanded. My Dad was right: He always answered my "embarrassment" charge with, "Hey, if I'm not embarrassing you I'm not doing my job."

So yesterday marked the first day of our Road Trip, and the first day I took up the mantle of being the "embarrassing parent." It's a job I take seriously, a job I will undertake with devotion, and a job--if I do it correctly--I hope Bambina will one day inherit herself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Buckley For Obama

Never thought I'd see the day: Christopher Buckley is voting for Obama.

Pentecostal Palin

Here's an article shedding light on why the McCain campaign is doubling down on Ayers but going easy on the Rev. Wright: Sarah Palin has some pastor troubles of her own. The article contains a video of her being blessed by a visiting minister who prays over her to protect her from witchcraft. It does not show, unfortunately, the part where he says that "the Israelites" control the economy and that more Christians should be represented. Here's the article:

And here's the video:

I don't know about you, but should McCain win, I'm praying every damn day for his life and health. And what the hell, I'll also pray that he be protected from both witchcraft and "the Israelites."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Desperation 101

Evidence that the McCain campaign is in full-on desperation meltdown to the point that they are behaving in a truly unpatriotic--and actually rather scary--way:

Item 1: A public statement that the campaign will run 100% attack ads from here till November.

Item 2: Bringing up the Bill Ayers thing months after it's been out there and investigated ad nauseam. Forgetting to mention that the board both Obama and Ayers served on contained several Republicans--and it was for the Annenberg Challenge. You know Annenberg. A major donor to John McCain. So is he saying his major donor also "pals around with terrorists?"

Item 3: Sarah Palin stoking the fury at rallies where the mention of Obama's name provokes cries of "Treason!" and "Kill him!" This scary little video shows what we're dealing with here, with people who truly, genuinely buy the notion that Obama might be a terrorist. Based, you know, on his name and "bloodlines." Jewish supporters of McCain: these are your bedfellows. If it doesn't scare you, it damn sure ought to. Much was made of Obama's rallies, being called hitlerian because so many people came out and we are all supposedly under the sway of the Obamessiah. Major difference between the rallies? One side's rallies foment anger, prejudice and accusations of "treason" against a fellow American. And it's ugly. As Joe Biden said of Sarah Palin's "treason" and "kill him!" rallies, "The idea that a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop mid-sentence and turn and condemn that -- it's just a slippery slope, it's a place that we shouldn't be going."

Item 4: The potential FIRST LADY is now attacking the Democratic candidate! When in the history of modern American politics has the woman hoping to become First Lady EVER attacked the opposition candidate? Cindy McCain taking Obama to task for cutting funding for "my son" who serves "in harm's way." How it "sent a cold shiver through her body." I wonder if she got the same cold shiver on those occasions when her husband voted against similar bills? When is this appropriate, for the person who will have a 100% ceremonial position in the next administration, to be throwing red meat at the rallies? This is so sad--and angering--I can't even discuss it. It's a breach of tradition--and a poorly-conceived one at that.

But there is hope, folks, on October 15th. That's the next debate. Obama said to Charlie Gibson, and Biden repeated it again today at a rally: If McCain has something to say about me he needs to say it to my face. This is first-rate politics (in the classic and best sense of the word), folks. It's forcing McCain's hand. You want to run ads on TV and speak at rallies where you call me a terrorist's pal, you want to say I'm a traitor? Well, don't hide behind those surrogates, don't hide behind YOUR WIFE. Say it on national TV: "I, John McCain, think you are a terrorist sympathizer." Because you either have the courage of your convictions or you are a old, has-been hack throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping it sticks so you can complete your presidential power grab. You either have the courage to call Obama out on national TV and lose your already-crumbling reputation for being a man of honesty and fair play, or you don't, and you lose your already-crumbling reputation for being a man of courage. Either way, McCain loses. All he can do is keep running ads that don't mention his donor's role in the Ayers thing, and hope his base is too ignorant to care. Which, based on the video above, is unfortunately a rather likely outcome.

And a final note, my personal rant, on the McCain charge that Obama is "the most liberal senator" as if that's a bad thing. Folks, if the past eight years is what Conservatism has to offer, I'm pretty damn psyched and proud to be a fat headed liberal. I'll put 8 years of Clinton up against 8 years of GW Bush any day of the week--on foreign policy AND economics. I'm liberal and I'm proud of it, and even McCain, with his obsession for finding nasty things to say about people, can't change that. After the past two terms, "conservative," not "liberal," ought to be the dirty word.

UPDATE: Here's another, worse video of more McCain-Palin supporters (in PA) yelling that Obama is a "communist, socialist, terrorist" and calling his supporters "commie faggots." Niiice. What a Grand Old Party!

Hullabaloo states it perfectly: We are entering a turbulent period in our country. Validating a bogus accusation that your political rival is a terrorist in our current environment is the most irresponsible thing I've seen a campaign do in many a year. They know they are very likely going to lose this election. And McCain certainly knows that the main reason he is losing is because of the dramatic failures of fellow failed Republican George W. Bush. But even knowing that his candidacy was always very likely doomed is not stopping him from releasing this poison into the bloodstream of the body politic, a poison which will be with us for a long time to come. I guess that's what McCain means when he says that Americans should fight for a cause greater than themselves. That cause, evidently, is him.

John McPenguin

H/T to Oliver Willis.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Amen for Goggles

That's a link to a new feature in Google, whereby you can set up a "double check" on yourself between particular hours to ensure you really, really want to send that email. I simply cannot say how much better the world would be if I had had this feature back in the day. Because, let's face it, there is nothing you need to be saying at 2am that can't wait till the cold, hard light of day...especially if you're mad or tired or buzzed. Too late for me, but just in time for you, you crazy kids!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Debate. Again. (I watch so you don't have to).

This time it's the Town Hall format. McCain began by making a dig at Obama: "Senator Obama, it's nice to be at a town hall meeting with you." Which is the ongoing bee in his bonnet, that Obama wouldn't sign on to engage in a format that benefited John McCain.

Okay, McCain is good at this. Obama needs to warm up. They are discussing the economy, of course. McCain is claiming that "Obama and his cronies" are responsible for the economic mess. Obama starts getting traction by saying, "you don't want to hear politicians point fingers," and then started giving a real answer.

I honestly don't know how this is going to play out. I think McCain will take it, because this is his format, just as Obama would take any format that involved inspiring oratory. I'm not going to blog on each question because so far they have all been essentially the same question, a la: "What is the bailout, what's in it to help me?, and why should we trust you?"

The big question is whether McCain will go all William Ayers, and then whether Obama will go all Keating Five on McCain in return. Stay tuned.

McCain just asked Brokaw to repeat the "three priorities" he listed in a question. Oops. It doesn't look good if you can't keep three items straight. He's looking at his notes. A lot.

"What sacrifices will the American people have to make?"
McCain: Need to eliminate some programs. Says he saved $8 million on a tanker deal for the defense department. Says something about Obama wanting an overhead projector for the debate. I know I'm biased, but McCain has no ability to deliver a cut in a gracious way; he just sounds nasty. Obama has gotten in some digs of his own, but his delivery is far less ugly.

McCain is repeating the lie that Obama wants to raise taxes, as if he is going to raise them on the average American. Now he's saying Obama's tax policy will hurt small business. He's touting his $5000 health care tax credit.

Here's the question on Medicare and Medicaid. Brokaw wants a date for Congress to reform these programs.
Obama is going to take on entitlements in his first term. Segues back to tax policy to address what he says are McCain's misrepresentations of his policy.

McCain says it's not hard to reform social security at all. He doesn't say how, however. Now, for Medicare: a commission. Now he's repeating the lie that Obama's voted "94 times" to raise taxes. Everyone and their fucking mother knows that is not true. It's just not true. How can this man repeat lies like this with no shame?!! Integrity my ass.

On to the environment...Long talks by each candidate. Now a ridiculous question from Tom Brokaw, one of those Either/Or questions that require the candidate to accept the premise of the question.

On delivery: McCain loves his "my friends." Obama loves his, "aaand..." Palin loves her "also," and Biden loves his "let me repeat that."

Now a question on health care. While Obama is answering, McCain is walking forward and making some kind of hand gesture out in to the audience. Quite weird behavior.
McCain's answer: He says to put health records online. I say we start with yours, John! Make it public already! :) Now he's touting his five grand proposal. I'm not the person to blog about this impartially, me being a person who would be uninsurable in the McCain Health Insurance World. I've been without health care and with a pre-existing condition, so you will not see me at any time supporting "the market" solely controlling health insurance. Hells naw!

Military experience question/how can America be peacemakers with economic constraints. "We don't have time for on the job training, my friends," is the gist of his answer. Obama turns the "I don't understand" jab around to say he doesn't understand why we invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. We don't have the resources or the allies to do what we need to do.

What is the Obama Doctrine? What is the McCain Doctrine for intervening militarily where our national security is not at stake? Obama: Who would not have intervened in the Holocaust? It's our moral obligation, but recognize that we can't be all things to all people or be everywhere, which is why we need to have the leadership to bring allies into the fold to do the work where we can't. McCain says he will bring our troops home with victory. "Again, I know those situations. I've been in them all my life...I won't take them lightly."

A really tough question about unilateral action in Pakistan, ignoring its sovereignty.
Obama will send non-military aid, and yes, he will take out bin-Ladin and al-qaeda if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to do so. Now McCain says that Obama has just said he'd "attack Pakistan." That's hardly the same thing. McCain is flatlining on his answer to help the people of Pakistan turn against the "cruel Taliban." The rest is a youtube video. McCain says "the point is that I know how to handle these crises." Obama requests a rebuttal and uses it to smash McCain. McCain's rebuttal tries to smash Obama. Comes back to his military record. I think a lot of "old folk" will think Obama was disrespectful of McCain because he brought up "bomb bomb Iran."

Question about Afghanistan and how to reorganize our military strategy there. Oh! It's the battle of the Generals! Obama quotes General McKiernan. McCain quotes General Petraeus.

Again, I just don't know how this is playing out. I'm so disgusted by McCain that I can't tell if I think he's not doing as well as expected simply because I don't like him. Maybe one of you independent/undecideds can help me out.

Question about Russia now. McCain is so good on this issue. He's really good. I don't agree with his policies, but he's good on this topic in terms of delivery. Obama is respectable in this question. Are they the Evil Empire? Obama: They have undertook evil acts and they have nationalistic tendencies that should concern us. McCain: Maybe.

Would you commit US troops to protect Israel from Iran, or would you wait for the United Nations security council to approve?
McCain: Obviously we'd protect them. Iran is acquiring nukes; it's a problem. Now he's bringing up the "without preconditions" thing about Obama. Wants to impose sanctions, teaming with allies to "abridge their behavior." Um, Senator McCain? THAT'S CALLED DIPLOMACY!! Obama: unacceptable for Iran to have nukes.

Last question. From New Hampshire. A good one! "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" I won't do the answers justice, I fear. Obama is answering instead (taking a page from Palin) what he DOES know: American dream, his humble beginnings, single mother, grandparents raising him, still got to go to the best schools and that is the story of America. Good choice because it has turned into his closing statement. McCain doesn't know what we all don't know: what is going to happen in the world. Knows what it's like to...all metaphors for his prison time. Finishes with Country First.

Alex Castellanos on CNN just had the comment on the night: "I learned tonight that McCain wants to buy everyone a house, and Obama wants to give everyone free healthcare, which is remarkable for a nation that's broke."

Apparently, which I missed, McCain called Obama "that one." And apparently that is bad. I didn't catch it, and believe me, as you have no doubt figured out, I'm all over any error McCain makes. ;) I didn't pick up on it. But that may just be because it's clear that these men don't like each other, so a "that one" accompanied by a sneer is not necessarily outrageous coming from the head of a campaign that implies Obama is a terrorist. Your mileage, however, may vary.
UPDATE: Wow. Just saw a recap. I DID totally miss that whole exchange! I must have been peeing at the time. Wow! McCain sounds like my mum circa 1979 referring to me as she was recounting my misdeeds of the day to my father when he came home: "and guess who got a note sent home from school saying she talks too much and runs the risk of getting an Unsatisfactory in Conduct? That one." Oh, JohnnyJohnnyJohnny. Does derision come naturally to you? As Palin would say, "God bless 'im."

Okay, now to the CNN focus group. Here's where I get pissed at stupid Americans. They are upset that they didn't hear enough details to answer their questions. Okay. MORONS. The candidates have outlined their positions. Potentially you own a computer? Potentially you can find a website? GO AND READ THE FUCKING CANDIDATES' WEBSITES TO GET YOUR FUCKING DETAILS!!! Or, you could just keep complaining that the candidates didn't answer YOUR specific question in the format of a wide-ranging 90-minute debate. Give me a break. If you don't know the details of their plans by now, then you have not done YOUR due diligence as a voter in this democratic society. At this point, if you don't know who you will vote for, you either don't like either candidate (fair enough, darlings!) or you are waiting for Barry or JohnnyMac to come knock on your door and spoon feed you precisely the answer you're looking for. News flash: they won't. Do YOUR job as an American voter and stop blaming the candidates for not being specific on a TV show.

UPDATE UPDATE: CNN, which I usually can't stand, has decided not to cover the "spin room" at the debate site. These are the rooms where the campaign hacks try to turn a disastrous performance into a post-debate coverage victory. I always hate the spin room coverage, wondering why any TV channels bother. Well, I always have the uncontrollable urge to kiss Anderson Cooper, but when he said "we're not going to do it, because it's frankly just not worth it" I almost licked the TV screen in gratitude. Call me, Anderson!

Monday, October 06, 2008

It Was a Very Good Day

Today was a good day, from the picayune to the profound.

To the former, I finally got my front tooth fixed. Chemo is bad for one’s teeth and my front one didn’t escape unscathed, in that the corner broke off a little while back. Dental appointments being what they are these days, I waited a good month for my day in the chair, which I had to cancel because of a ragingly awful migraine. So my second day in the chair came today, until which time I had been attending weddings, meeting moms and conducting business looking like a hillbilly. When I remarked to the BBDD that I looked like I was from "Pennsyltucky" he said, "Yeah. Or Scotland." Har har. So, I now feel whole again, dentally speaking. Yay!

I also found the time to exercise today, which is no small feat, and which gave me a chance to mentally ponder my alkheits for Yom Kippur. (YK is the Jewish day of atonement; the holiest day of the year, this Thursday. Alkheit is what you say when you are reciting your sins of the past year.) Happily, it also gave me time to think about the attendant Teshuvah (Repentance; literally "to return"). I kind of welled up as I was walking around the track, recalling how last year I couldn't bring myself to give God a damn thing, much less any statement of my own wrongdoing.

Then! We picked Bambina up at preschool where she presented me with a homemade card that read, “Mama, I’m sorry I hit you. Love, Bambina.” She had “addressed” it by putting our last name and house number on the back, in that cute backward scrawl native to preschoolers. For whatever reason, I once again welled up. You’ll recall the recent Veruca Salt-inspired incident in which Bambina found herself on the business end of my displeasure. That day rattled me a little, to be honest, because it was so out of character for her to have done. And then I worried that I’d overreacted by yelling at her, fireman-carrying her to her room as she wailed, and then telling her she was not welcome to rejoin us until she sat down and thought about how that kind of behavior was never going to happen again. And then today. Happiness because I see that she got it. She internalized the gravity of what she’d done. She felt regret, which I absolutely wanted her to feel. And so, this week we’ll write our “sins” on pieces of paper and then we’ll throw them away to symbolically say goodbye to our failures past, a) because that’s what we do, and b) because now that she’s felt the regret I want her to let it go and be free from it. Not from the lesson learned, but from the regret of having done it.

Then! Bambina’s first swim lesson with Nathan! Awesome, wonderful, lovely Nathan. Is that my child smiling in the water? Is that my child actually kicking her legs behind a floaty barbell? Is that my kid not actually in tears but singing in the pool? Again, a little bit of welling up took place, seeing my kid start to conquer her worst fear, build her self-confidence, and (dare I say it?) grow up a little right before my eyes.

And finally, it’s been great seeing Bambina be excited about her new little cousin who came into the world last week. He won’t be named until his bris, so for now she calls him Baby Haggis as if it’s his real name. The entire pregnancy she was kind of like, “whatever,” on the theory that there was no actual baby that she could discern. Just Aunt J with a tummy, which—as you can all clearly see—looks NOTHING like a baby. No eyes, no hair, no toes. Not a baby. Just a tummy. But you all go on with your make-believe game! But now it has all clicked for her. As soon as she saw the photos she accepted that he was real, and it has been a hootenanny ever since. We made the baby a figurine at one of those plaster painting kid places. She picked a boy doing a karate kick “for the baby’s room.” Then yesterday she bought him a gift. I was showing her teething rings and whatnot, but she adamantly settled on a Fisher Price neighing horse flashlight toy. No amount of telling her that a 9 day-old baby will have very little use for a neighing horse flashlight toy could dissuade her from this toy. So, Baby Haggis, welcome to the world! And your special welcome gift is….drumroll…a lovely neighing horse flashlight!…

Yep. It’s been a great day.

Famous Person is So Smart

Oh my lord, you have to see this over at Wonkette. It's a McCain online ad touting Sarah Palin's fantastic performance in the VP debate. It has a money quote. The quote offered by..."Famous Person." Seriously, y'all. This is the caliber of campaign we're watching. Basic, basic stuff done poorly. And, as one commenter said, which goes to hypocrisy: "I thought the McCain campaign hated 'famous people'..."

Make Believe Maverick

A devastating article in Rolling Stone debunking the "maverick/country first/honorable politician" myths about John McCain. Based on his votes, his own words in his books, and the statements of his Republican colleagues. A frightening must-read. Especially if you have bought into the myth.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Attacking the Attacker

John McCain on the lack of vision and unreadiness of John McCain:

H/T to

Wo Bu Hui Jiang Zhongwen*

*I Don't Speak Chinese

Taking a small break from politics, today's post will be a pure rant. Okay.

As you know, I'm taking a Chinese class at the same time that Bambina is in her kiddie Chinese class. Language instruction for kids is vastly different than that for adults. For instance, in the kid's class they are learning via songs about lao hu's (tigers) and rabbits and colors and numbers, and learning only the actual Chinese characters. In adult classes we use pinyin, which is the romanization of Chinese characters, such as "lao hu." It puts the Chinese characters into English lettering so we can understand it and be able to use a Chinese-English dictionary. Pinyin makes the language accessible, especially to adults who are so entrenched in their own language that they need that pinyin "bridge" between the two. The most difficult element of the Chinese language for Western speakers is the use of tones. Chinese has four tones: flat, rising, falling, and falling-rising. Using a particular tone changes the meaning of the word. Ma with one tone means horse. With another it means mama. With another it means you are asking a question. They are not "learned" by native Chinese speakers because they are simply an innate part of language acquisition from infancy (a lame comparison might be the fact that no one taught you specifically to raise your voice at the end of a question; you just do it. Or that you know if you say "Huh" (as in "Huh...that's interesting"), that that has a different meaning than "Huh?!?" (as in WTF?!) Nobody teaches you that, you just know it because that's how it has always been said to you.

With me so far?

Okay. So this class is 45 minutes long, once a week. Which means that anyone who wants to really learn Chinese needs to be engaging in other activities to supplement what we're getting in class, because no one is coming out of 20 weeks of one-day classes with any real knowledge of such a complex language. Well, there is a woman in our class who is apparently deeply dissatisfied with the course. Why? Because she is not learning the same things as her kids in the kiddie class, and how can she support their learning if she isn't getting the same stuff?

Well, here's why: the kiddie teacher, Wang Laoshi (Teacher Wang) specifically told us not to "review" the Chinese with the kids because we will no doubt get the tones all wrong and mess up their learning! Kids acquire languages far easier and faster than do adults, and because we are so entrenched in English, while they are still acquiring much of its nuance, even English-speaking kids can pick up the tonal aspects of Chinese with very little effort or thought. And in this teacher's experience, any "help" the kids get from English-speaking parents is, at this point, counterproductive. As we get better, we can help them. But while we are still figuring out how not to call our moms horses, best to leave the lao hu songs to the teacher. Fine with me.

But not with Angry Mom. Angry Mom is deeply confused in our adult class. She says its because the teacher is not very good and not reinforcing the kiddie lessons. My unbiased opinion is that she's confused for the following reasons:

1. She missed the first class, preferring to stay in the kid's class for that session.
2. She showed up at the second class with no pen or paper. I xeroxed all my notes for her and gave her appropriate writing implements.
3. She showed up at the third class without the notes I'd given her and then seemed frustrated that she couldn't follow along.
4. She does not review her notes during the week before the next class.
5. She can't get over the fact that she really wants a list of "vocabulary words" to study rather than going with the teacher's method, which is more of an immersion approach.
6. She is lazy and feels entitled to learn Chinese with little effort.

Okay, maybe I'm being mean on the "lazy" part. But who shows up to a class with no materials, not having looked at anything in the past 7 days--and then has the balls to say that the teacher sucks?!! And our teacher is the sweetest lady who just has to be freakin' tearing her hair out listening to us destroy her beautiful language. She's patient but she's also throwing us in at the deep end with the understanding that it will all become clear to us soon enough.

For mine and the BBDD's part, we're going with it. I'm just along for the ride, seeing what I can learn in the time we have. But I'm also supplementing with podcasts, fridge magnets with chinese words and phrases, a dictionary/grammar guide. In other words, I feel motivated to learn. Angry Mom seems to think that showing up is enough and she'll magically acquire knowledge of Chinese with little effort. And let's be honest. If there is one language that requires some effort, it's Chinese. You can't phone it in and think you're going to learn anything.

So why am I ranting? Because Angry Mom now wants the class to email the headmaster of the school to express our dissatisfaction with the teaching. BBDD told her that the teacher seemed open to our suggestions, so why not simply ask her to incorporate colors and numbers into our ongoing lessons? I mentioned that, in fairness to the teacher, she did ask in our first class what approach we preferred, and the class as a whole agreed that we preferred immersion. I also mentioned that the goal for most of the adults in the class is to be able to speak basic Chinese: ask a question, understand a question, say your name, how are you, thank you, engage in small talk a la "do you have family? what are your hobbies? where are you from?" Knowing a song about a tiger with two tails is not going to help me when I'm standing in Guangzhou with my new baby looking for some hydrocortisone cream in a store. I want to be able to ask "How much is this?" etc.

In class, I can tell she's nervous, but rather than just trying to say something when the teacher asks her a question, she says, "I'm not speaking yet; I'm going to listen for a little while longer." I recognize that am looking like the love child of Arnold Horshack and Tracy Flick in class as I raise my hand all the time, but that's because I want to mangle it in front of the teacher so I don't mangle it alone at home and think I've done it right. I'm not embarrassed to suck at Chinese because it's not like I'm in a class for Not Drooling While Eating, and doing poorly. It's okay to suck at Chinese. At least that's what I tell myself... So I tried to say that after class in a humorous way, but Angry Mom is not having any of it. Her needs are not being met and someone must pay.

It's so annoying and so "ugly American." Rather than being open to the experience of learning this language in the way native speakers have determined over years of teaching is the most effective, she's hung up on the fact that she's lost and confused. Hellooooo?! It's effing Chinese! You're SUPPOSED to be confused! It's SUPPOSED to be hard! You're SUPPOSED to feel inadequate! And yes, you are SUPPOSED to feel like your kids are smarter than you! I understand that different people do learn in different ways. So it seems to me that if this approach is not working for her, Angry Mom should research other alternatives or speak directly to the teacher, rather than clotheslining the teacher behind her back to the headmaster. It's the conflict-orientation that's bothering me, and just this accompanying sense of entitlement, that things just should not be this hard.

So I've decided to really go full-on Tracy Flick on Angry Mom. I'm writing some emails of my own to the headmaster, telling him what a fabulous teacher we have, what a fabulous class we have, and how delighted we all are with our learning.

Oh--and that's the last time I'm sharing my notes. :)