Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack O'Bama Is Irish

Recommended by my sweet, 10-yr-old, Obama-supporting FIG (Freckly Irish Girl):

My favorite verse (starting at the 3:24 mark):

Now, you Hillary supporters, don't you vote for McCain,
And a VP needs brains, so forget about Palin.
With Cheney and Bush, they are all ignorama.
There's no one as Irish as Barack O'Bama!

The Huckupchuck's Electoral Endorsements

President: The clear choice for The Huckupchuck is the Obama/Biden ticket. In my mind, there is just no comparison about what is in the best interests of our country and U.S. citizens not only as it relates to domestic policy, but also as it relates to our reputation abroad. I just came back from a lecture with the Honduran Minister of Culture who pointed out that 76% of Latin Americans are more reassured by the prospect of an Obama presidency than a McCain presidency, even though many Latin American policymakers think that McCain probably knows more about the region than Obama. But my enthusiastic, unreserved, and unconditional support for Obama/Biden is no surprise. As for local races, here are some of my thoughts:

U.S. Senate: John Kennedy not only is a turncoat; he's not even a convincing turncoat. His whole campaign has been one big dud. I mean, he can't even do the conservative fear/smearmongering all that well. There is a reason why Landrieu is no longer even close to being a GOP pickup opportunity. And it's because Kennedy is such a horrible candidate. Frankly, I don't even know what Kennedy's true positions on the issues are. With Landrieu, though I sometimes don't like what I get from her, I can't say that I'm ever surprised by her. She's pretty clear on where she stands on issues. And I can at least live with that. So, The Huckupchuck gives a clear, unequivocal, though not fully enthusiastic endorsement for Landrieu in the U.S. Senate race.

Orleans Parish District Attorney: I have serious reservations about both candidates; but I tend to lean towards Cannizzaro over Capitelli. I have to say that it bothers me to no end that I almost without fail see yard signs for both of these guys next to yard signs for McCain/Palin in front of pretty big uptown mansions. And although, as Mrs. Huckupchuck often tells me, party identification in local races is much less relevant than the national races, it still disturbs me that folks who embrace a clear conservative ideology (and make no bones about expressing such preferences) also seem to feel pretty comfortable embracing either of the two DA candidates who claim to be Democrats. But I guess we need to have one of them. And though I supported Jason Williams in the primaries, and though Williams has endorsed Capitelli, I have had some direct, positive experiences with Cannizzaro that pulls me towards him as the lesser of two candidates neither of whom I consider ideal.

Louisiana Congressional District 1: For the first time in a loooooong time, Congressional District 1 has a real shot at a Democrat. From what I have seen from the Harlan campaign, he is about as good a Democrat as Congressional District 1 is ever likely to get. Of course, I'm not so keen on his social conservatism; but being a social conservative is simply a sine-qua-non for that district. And Harlan's social conservatism is not the angry kind. As for Scalise, he's just pure conservative Christianist Republicanism. Anyone would be better than Scalise (except, perhaps, for Tim Burns). And Harlan is not just an alternative; but the most acceptable alternative. So, The Huckupchuck gives a clear endorsement to Jim Harlan.

Louisiana Congressional District 2 (Democratic Party Second Primary Election): My district. A reliably Democratic district. And this year, the Democratic candidate choices in this Second Primary Runoff election (Helena Moreno and William Jefferson) are not only just weak, but also mostly unacceptable. I cannot and will not, as a matter of principle and conscience, endorse or vote for William Jefferson. True that he is technically innocent until proven guilty in a court of law; but I've been convinced in the court of my own opinion long ago that he's guilty, if not of criminal behavior under the law (which I think he is, anyway), then of being among the worst of the corrupt cynics in Congress. So, that leaves me giving my reluctant endorsement to Helena Moreno in this primary. As much as I think Helena Moreno is a Republican disingenuously wrapped in the clothing of a Democrat just for the sake of being elected in a Democratic district, she at least appears to be ethically above reproach. The general election is another thing altogether. And, regardless of who wins the Democratic Party nomination, I have to admit that I'm considering breaking party discipline and seriously looking at the other candidates. I'll have more to say about this after Nov. 4; and I think you might be quite surprised to hear what it is I have to say.

As for the rest of the races, I have nothing to say nor any endorsements to make.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Wisdom of Our Elders

Two octogenarian women, and life-long friends, start to blogging and the result is ... well ... you just have to read it to believe it. Here's a sample:

I cannot believe this is even close. How did America get so far off track that a week out from this election many still think it is too close to call?

It was either a few years ago or a few months ago… at my age it all blends together. But I remember it was all over the news and on the cover of all the magazines. One of those new ”starlets”… Paris or Brittney or Lindsey or Chutney or something like that - one of those starlets got caught getting out of a car without her under garments. That’s right. Photographers all around and her hoo-ha was out there for everyone and God to see because she forgot to put on a pair of panties.

I know you all know what I am talking about. It was all over the news. Scandalous they said. Out of control. She needs help. What is the world coming to? EVERYONE was shocked and EVERYONE was talking about it. How could she? What kind of a role model is she for young girls? I know you all remember it. If my scattered brain can remember it, I know you can. People didn’t have to be told how the cow ate the cabbage on that one. We all knew it instinctively.

Well imagine my shock and surprise today when I came across this little item. The latest polls show that only 55% of Americans think that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President. 55%! FIFTY FIVE PERCENT! This about the woman whose best qualification for the job to date is that she can see Russia from her house. So what exactly does Sarah Palin have to do before the other 45% of this country is shocked enough to realize that she is a “whack job”? Please Lord don’t tell me she has to show her hoo-ha in public.

If, in fact, you are reading this blog and think that Sarah Palin is actually qualified to run the country… well I suggest you check and see if your panties are on because the joke just may be on you.
I worship the wisdom of our elders! You go girls!

[H/T: Andrew Sullivan]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Times-Picayune Endorses Obama

Here's what I think is the most relevant part of the endorsement:

But on balance, we believe that Sen. Obama's qualities as a leader equip him better to be the next president.

Running a campaign is similar to running an administration. It requires that the leader set the tone; that he manage a complex organization; that he chart a nimble course in the face of changing circumstances; that he choose subordinates judiciously; that he exercise good judgment under pressure. An effective campaign is the prelude to a well-run office.

Sen. Obama has acquitted himself superbly, masterminding a marathon run with focus, discipline and a knack for assembling a talented team. He communicates across lines of age, class and ethnicity. He listens and he learns. His ability to beat the Clintons, past masters of electoral politics, showed tough leadership and organizational qualities.

A president must navigate by an inner compass. Mr. Obama's steadiness and his ability to weather political storms bespeak self-confidence and a sureness of purpose. We are riding out a tempest, and he is, quite simply, even-keeled. He possesses expertise that should endear him to the New Orleans area.
I couldn't agree more. And I reiterate my completely anti-intuitive and exclusively gut-based, wishful-thinking prediction of a Louisiana shocker on November 4 with Louisiana's 9 electoral votes going to Obama at the end of the day.

The Bloom is Off the Rose

Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose appears to be in a sad downward spiral. For some, this is not surprising. Rose has been seen around Lusher school lately, during times when kids are in transit, looking disheveled and raising eyebrows with beer bottle a cup of what looked like beer and cigarettes in hand. This is tragic. Such a talented writer succumbing to his demons.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

LA Congressional District 2 Candidate Forum

The Stone Center for Latin American Studies at Tulane University, Puentes New Orleans, and the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations LAVotes Campaign are co-sponsoring a Candidate Forum for Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 from 7:00-9:00pm at the Qatar Ballroom in the Lavin Bernick Center of Tulane University.

All six of the remaining candidates in this race were invited to this forum. Four of the six candidates have confirmed their participation: Helena Moreno (D), Joseph Cao (R), Jerry Jacobs (I), Gregory Kahn (L).

The forum will be a two-part moderated event. During the first part, a moderator from one of the sponsoring organizations will pose a series of questions (probably 5-6) to the candidates, each of whom will be allowed 3 minutes to respond. During the second part, select questions submitted by audience members to the moderator before the start of the event will be posed to the candidates. The forum will concentrate on issues of importance to the local Latino community. It is free and open to the public. Please plan to come to Tulane University this Tuesday and be a part of this event. And to the NOLAblogger community, bring your computers and live-blog the event!

If anyone has any questions about the event, just drop me an email or leave them in the comments section. I hope to see you at the Forum.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Palin the Well-Dressed: Let Them Eat Cake

Apparently, since McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate less than three months ago, the RNC has spent a whopping $150,000 just to keep Palin well-dressed and well-coiffed. Let me put this into some perspective for you. In less than three months, the amount that the RNC has spent on Sarah Palin's fashion accessorizing could almost buy my 2800 square foot house outright. As for me, I had to take out a 30 year mortgage. Also, over that same time frame, my household has spent probably in the range of $300 on clothing, shoes, makeup, and visits to the barber/hairstylist -- and I'm talking about 4 people combined, 3 of whom are fashionable females.

This is supposed to be the campaign/party that eschews "celebrity," embraces Joe Sixpack the Plumber, and claims to exercise some kind of fiscal restraint and responsibility? Puh-lease!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Question for Conservatives

To my conservative friends, relatives, and blog visitors, I have this nagging two part question that I would like for you to answer directly and honestly:

Part 1: Is Obama a terrorist?

Part 2: If not, is McCain trying to paint Obama as one?

They're simple "Yes/No" questions. So please, if you would, answer them accordingly. And after you do so, then you can add whatever qualifiers you want. I just want a clear, unobfuscated, simple, honest answer.

And, in exchange, I promise to answer honestly any simple "Yes/No" questions you migth want to pose to me.

Gutterball McCain

I've been thinking more on McCain's desperate attempts to smear/fear his way into the White House. And the more I think on this the more I imagine that my friends and relatives who are decent conservatives must be simply mortified and embarrassed by the McCain tactics. If you want a good take on the final coup de grace in this despicable gutterball campaign strategy, just read this and this.

They'll go into the voting booths and pull the lever for McCain for honorable reasons; but they'll be doing so in the full knowledge that McCain's victory, if he gets it, is wrapped up not in the honorable reasons, but in the dishonorable ones. And they'll have to live with themselves if that comes to pass. Feh!

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Even though Powell's endorsement is not all that surprising, what one can't help but admire is the measured, rational, and humane explanation Powell gives for his decision. It is a reflection of all that is good and pure about America and what can be great, instead of base, about its politics. What Powell laments is the loss of principled and human decency in the politics of what has become the modern GOP.

Contrast Powell's words, which should impress anyone, liberal and conservative alike, with this comment by a rabid rightwing blogger who, in responding to a posting by The Atlantic's Ross Douthat, another sane and humane conservative blogger, who offered up a mild criticism of conservatives in their irrational defense of the unpreparedness of Sarah Palin for the Presidency, not to mention her despicable gutterball tactics, wrote:

I have found some of my fellow conservative bloggers to lack the degree of intellectual suppleness with which I might enjoy interacting more. But -- what's his [Ross Douthat's] tactical point? It's two weeks and goal. Does he want to send Sarah Palin out to Professor Henry Higgins? She isn't going to pick up that masters from the Woodrow Wilson School between now and Election Day, and it would hardly matter if she did, would it?

She needs to pick up rocks, mud and pointed sticks. And do her worst with 'em. Because, Ross, that's what we're down to. And I ain't spinning you no silk here.
Colin Powell wants a modicum of decency. And the rabid rightwing wants blood at all costs, even if it destroys respectable conservatism in the process.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Politics on the Sleeve

Lately, I've been wondering about something. Over the past three or four weeks, I've been wearing every now and then my Barack Obama T-Shirts or buttons. I've noticed that the only people in my town who seem to wear their politics on their sleeves, literally, are Obama supporters. I have seen a couple of McCain/Palin bumper stickers, but I haven't seen any McCain/Palin buttons or T-shirts around. So, I began to think ... is there something about Democrats that propels them to broadcast their political preferences in such public ways? Or do I feel comfortable doing this because I believe that I am in Obama-friendly territory? Or is it just a personality thing? The fact is that it gives me satisfaction and pride to project my political preferences during election time. It is, in fact, my little contribution to the Obama campaign. I don't feel anything untoward about it at all. Neither does my wife. Nor do my liberal friends. And even my conservative family and friends don't seem to be put out or bothered by it. Why aren't there any McCain/Palin advocates out there doing the same thing?

Now, New Orleans is, of course, a Democratic stronghold; but it is not exclusively so. After all, New Orleans is in Louisiana, which is a pretty conservative state for the most part. And liberal Democratic politics in New Orleans is a far cry from the the liberalism of the East and West Coasts. Furthermore, there are places I go in the suburbs, just 5-10 minutes down the road from where I live, that are about as conservative as they come. So it's not like I feel I am completely in Obama-friendly territory every where I go. Yet, even still, I don't think simply being in a conservative GOP stronghold would prevent me from wearing my Obama T-shirt. I've thought about it and I'm certain that I'd wear such political advertisements pretty much anywhere in the U.S. So what propels me to wear my politics on my sleeves? And why don't I see passionate conservatives doing likewise?

Is it that conservatives fear for their safety? Do conservatives consider such displays of preference to be tacky or uncouth? Or is it just the nature of conservative behavior to be reserved and private about such things?

I find it curious and puzzling.

I'd love to hear from anyone else who has noticed this phenomenon and has pondered the reasons for it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Reaction

I personally thought Obama won this clearly. He was smooth, convincing, composed, and knowledgable. McCain seemed desperate and petty. But I've checked out some conservative blogs and the folks there are living in a fantasy world. They think (for the third time, no less!) that McCain won this debate. And yet almost every survey of focus groups (even the FoxNews focus group) gave the debate to Obama. What kind of ozone layer do these people live in? Just goes to show you that we see what we want to see in these debates. I guess McCain spoke to his narrow base looking for something to cheer; and Obama appealed to folks like me who are already sold on his policies and his delivery style, which he provided in abundance tonight.

Best reaction to the debate, though, came from Mrs. Huckupchuck who said that McCain's performance can be summed up accordingly: "Grasping and Gasping" -- meaning Grasping at straws and gasping for air. I think that pretty much captures it in a nutshell.

We'll see what the next few days' polling reveals, but I'm going out on a limb and declaring: "McCain is toast."

In fact, I'll go one further: I think McCain is so toasted that I predict a Louisiana upset for Obama on election day. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reggie Bush is Real

You know, I haven't exactly been the kind of die-hard Reggie Bush fan as many have been; but I do have to say that anyone who puts up these numbers over a six week period has got to be doing something right. 8 TDs in six games, spread out fairly evenly over rushing TDs (2), receiving TDs (3), and return TDs (3), is pretty damn impressive, no matter how you slice it up.

I know Jeffrey can always find that trip up, that dropped pass, that fumble, etc., to try to suppress the real accomplishments of Bush this season; but that only gets you so far. I'd say that Reggie Bush is delivering this year in ways that just don't merit the criticism. One doesn't need to be a Reggie Bush fan to acknowledge this. What say you, Jeffrey? Care to give at least a grudging compliment to the Who Dats' Black and Gold #25?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bicentennial of Latino Journalism in the US

Is being celebrated this Wednesday at the New Orleans Museum of Art, first with a press event at 11:30am. Later on that afternoon, from 5-7pm, at the same place (NOMA), there will be a reception in honor of El Misisipi, the first Spanish-language Latino newspaper published in the United States. Come out and join the celebration!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Democrats = Nazis

The rightwing fear-smear machine, via conservative blogger John Hawkins, goes there:

When I called this the most dangerous time for America since WW2, I was dead serious. Barack Obama with a large Democrat majority in Congress, an adoring media, and a big crisis to work will be nearly as dangerous to this country's future trying to "help" as Nazi Germany was trying to kill us. That's no exaggeration. They literally may be able to do damage that our country will NEVER recover from...

Why Todd Palin Is Important

This morning, The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan referenced Harper's Scott Horton’s puzzlement over the Palin email hacker incident. This sentence in Horton's piece caught my attention:

The hacker also helped establish a motive for the illegal conduct: Palin regularly involved her husband in official business, and it’s easy to understand why she did not want to leave behind evidence of her husband’s involvement.
Let me explain why I sat a bit more upright in my chair this morning when I read that sentence. I have often had conversations with my in-laws, who are people that Andrew Sullivan would identify as Christianist, as indeed they are. As such, they are biblical literalists and fundamentalists who I imagine support Palin for all the obvious reasons. [UPDATE: I should also say that my in-laws are wonderful people. I am very fond of them and they are extremely generous and good-hearted folks.] But I also remember having had a conversation with my in-laws one time about the proper relationship between husband and wife. For them, the biblical mandate that wives should submit themselves to the authority of their husbands was serious business. Here's what Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians (5:22-24):
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
That made me wonder, knowing what we know about Sarah Palin’s Christianism, whether or not she and Todd ascribe to the same basic philosophy and theology. Since we apparently can’t ask them this, I think we simply have to assume that they do. And Horton’s comment about Sarah Palin using private emails to involve her husband in official business seems to confirm this assumption. What this means, though, outside of the fact that Sarah Palin was engaging in illegal activity, is that it is all the more imperative that we find out what we can, not only about Sarah Palin, but also about Todd Palin.

And though it is not the custom of secular American democracy to view spouses of candidates in this way, we are not really dealing with a candidate who embraces the values of secular American democracy.

So, please, let's find out who this Todd Palin is. One disturbing thing we do know about Todd Palin is that he belonged to the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party. Here's what one of the founders of the Alaskan Independence Party, Joe Vogler, had to say about America (at about 1:42-1:50 in the audio clip):
The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American Government, and I won't be buried under their damned flag.
And here's Sarah Palin addressing the Alaskan Independence Party Convention:

It is fair to wonder if Sarah Palin's Christianist submission to her husband might have anything to do with this. And it is also fair to wonder if Todd Palin's biblical authority over his wife might have more bearing on Sarah Palin's potential behavior and role as Vice President. My feeling is that Todd Palin is probably more important to understanding Sarah Palin, and what she is likely to do as Vice-President, than anyone has let on to date.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

McCain/Palin Supporters, Part II

The anger, misinformation, and outright smears are legion.

It is so absurd it is almost cartoonish. It might even be humorous for its absurdity if it weren't so sad in its reality.

And McCain is encouraging such reactions, not attempting to mitigate them.

I believe that we will look back on this electoral campaign, and this particular moment in the election period, and be embarrassed for the GOP and for conservatism. What the GOP has done to itself is almost too painful to watch.

McCain/Palin Supporters

How can any decent person tolerate and support a campaign that encourages and sells this message?

What will the GOP and these people do if Obama is elected in November? If people really believe this about Obama, what will be their patriotic duty in November should Obama be President? Accept that a "terrorist" is leading their country? Does this give the "war on terror" a new meaning? What would you do if you really thought someone was a terrorist with friends who try to kill your family? It is utterly despicable and completely irresponsible. Look at the viciousness and anger of these folks, whipped up into a frenzy by the narrative now being promoted officially by McCain. The closest I have ever seen of this kind of frenzied anger are old news reels of anti-desegregationist rallies of the 50s. The potential outcome of this strategy is terrifying, truly terrifying.

[H/T Andrew Sullivan]

Some More Gutterballing

From Cindy McCain:

“The day that Senator Obama decided to cast a vote to not fund my son while he was serving sent a cold chill through my body, let me tell you,” Mrs. McCain said. “I would suggest that Senator Obama change shoes with me for just one day.”
Ummm ... let's remember, Mrs. McCain, that Obama was the only candidate in this election that said that your son shouldn't be risking his life in an unnecessary war in Iraq. If you're worried about your son's safety, I suggest you have a frank discussion the next time you and your hubby have a chance to chat about the war that he supported and which your son is now thrust into. I find it funny that a "cold chill" wasn't sent through your body the moment your husband voted to authorize war in the first place, because that's when the real danger to your son's life was born. I guarantee you, Mrs. McCain, that more parents of soldiers were "chilled" that day, than on any other. And what was Obama doing on that "chilly" day? Arguing against sending your son into harm's way. And that's not even considering that the vote Mrs. McCain is referring to is the ONLY vote Obama cast against funding for troops, and ONLY because the measure didn't include a timeline for withdrawal that would have warmed the hearts of most parents of soldiers.

And at the very event where Cindy McCain spewed such nonsense, we get Lehigh County Republican Bill Platt "warming up" the crowd for McCain by referring twice to "Barack Hussein Obama":

You want to know why this matters? Watch this:

If you think Bill Platt isn't consciously and purposefully referring to Obama as "Barack Hussein Obama" with the specific intent of tapping into this grossly ignorant and racist segment of the population with the intent of winning this population's support, then you are being wilfully blind and naive. This is not some GOP hack at some local event spouting off at the mouth. No, siree! This is happening at events orchestrated by the McCain campaign where McCain is being introduced! And if you don't think the introductory remarks by these "crowd warmers" aren't carefully crafted, reviewed, and sanctioned by the McCain campaign, then your blindness and naivete is approaching ostrich territory (i.e. head in the sand). And though the McCain campaign repudiated this tactic by Bill Platt, I don't believe for a moment the sincerity of their rejection. It comes after the damage is done, and it happens repeatedly at events like this. It's like: "Oopsie! Sorry about that! Uncalled for." (wink, wink).

But then there's the icing on the cake. McCain's campaign has released a statement from a person named John M. Murtagh that takes the Obama/Ayers connection to a whole new level. In essence, the McCain campaign is propagating the idea that Obama is a terrorist killer by association. Here's how this smear ends: "Barack Obama's friend tried to kill my family." How does one try to unpack this despicable and reprehensible smear? Where is McCain's dignity and honor?

I said it before and I'll say it again: It's unconscionable for any decent person to support the McCain/Palin ticket.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What would the McCain Campaign Do ...

with this statement from Sarah Palin:

“They [U.S. soldiers] are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan.”
Probably something like this ...

They'd send some gutterball smearmongering flunky (probably the VP candidate herself, ironically) out to bark:
Look what she's sayin' now! She's callin' Afghanistan "our neighboring country." Can you believe it?!?! You betcha! Now, ya wanna know which countries are "neighboring" Afghanistan? Try Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Iran! Makes ya wonder, don't it, (wink, wink) if Palin doesn't actually think she's livin' in one of these stalwarts of democracy (wink, wink)! Perhaps she's engagin' in a bit of wishful thinkin', though, and feels envious of the kind of "neighbors" Afghanistan really has and would like to be one of them terrorist-harborin', terrorist-lovin' "neighbors."
I really hope that reasonable Americans are horrified at what the McCain campaign has become. What kind of major political party in America in this day and age sends its VP-candidate around to rallies to stoke up the kind of rabid hate -- reminiscent of lynch-mobs of the past -- that would result in one of the rally-goer's reacting to this incendiary hate language about Barack Obama by shouting out: "Kill him!" It's absolutely shocking and astonishing that it would not only come to this, but actually be tolerated by and propagated by the GOP.

Sarah Palin might think she's just taking the gloves off; but what this incompetent joke of a national leader seems to fail to realize is that she's also pulling the noose out and dangling it tantalizingly in front of the noses of some very angry, unstable, and hate-filled people.

It's unconscionable for any decent person to support the McCain/Palin ticket.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Racist Underlings in the McCain/Palin Campaign and the Virginia GOP

Read this and try not to get too angry.

Where's the color-blind conservative outcry over this? And the dude who wrote the piece is part of the McCain Leadership Team in Virginia?!?

VOTE this November! And VOTE for Obama/Biden.

McCain Can't Gutterball This ...

I hope this story makes the rounds of viral emails. So many anti-Obama smear emails that are patently untrue get circulated among the rightwing hater crowds. Let's counter with something admirable about Obama. Here's the story in full from Leisha Camden's blog:

Mary lacked money to fly home to Norway – he saved her love

ÅSGÅRDSTRAND (VG): Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.

At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.

-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.

-I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?

Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.

-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.

She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.

-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.

She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes:

‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator.’

The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

This week VG met her and her husband in the café that she runs with her friend Lisbeth Tollefsrud in Åsgårdstrand.

-It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president, says Mary delightedly.

She has already voted for Obama. She recently donated 100 dollars to his campaign.

She often tells the story from Miami airport, both when race issues are raised and when the conversation turns to the presidential elections.

-I sincerely hope the Americans will see reason and understand that Obama means change, says Mary.
Visit Leisha Camden's blog where you can get some more context and see a picture of Mary holding what appears to be Barack Obama's letter to her parents that's mentioned in the article. The comments section to Leisha Camden's blog posting also discusses the authenticity of the story and some translation matters. Of course, I can't vouch for the story's authenticity, but it sounds believable to me. A simple act of kindness that Obama never mentions nor brags on. Contrast that untouted act of kindness to Sarah Palin's running around and implying that Obama is some kind of terrorist sympathizer.

I'll take Barack Obama's brand of Christian kindness and charity over Sarah Palin's fundagelical smear and fearmongering any day of the week.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Gutterballing Obama

Yep. I knew it. It's all they have left. If they can't beat Obama on the issues, then all they can do is go after the man in the most seedy ways possible.

My prediction: backfire.

People are just sick and tired of gutterball politics. When folks are in economic pain, they want empathy, not bullying. McCain's going to show us all how, when times are tough, all he can do is name-call and drive the knife in deeper on subjects completely unrelated and irrelevant to my worries.

The problem for McCain, though, is that we've already been through all the dirt they plan to rehash, and we've made our minds up about them as well.

Obama needs to be ready to respond forcefully and strongly, but to keep his eye on what people are really tuning into. When times get tough for people, they're not going to worry about Ayers or Rezko or Wright -- they're going to want to know how the candidates will help ease their pain and address their worries with concrete plans and policies.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bailout Blues

For what it's worth, I'm opposed to the bailout plan (I refuse to call it a "rescue" plan) that just passed the Congress and was signed into law. I opposed the original plan, too. This whole bailout is based on fear and scaring the middle/lower classes, it privileges the wealthy, it has avoided any kind of public scrutiny and deliberation, it was rammed down our throats, and it just makes it all the more difficult in the end for my children to live without the burden of a crushing national debt hanging over their heads. I say let Wall Street and Main Street take whatever lumps we've got coming.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The VP Question

You know, I just had a revelation. Now that the VP debate is over, the whole debate about the VP is over. From now on out, this race is about McCain and Obama. In my mind, the VP issue is settled, and there's probably nothing that will happen between now and the election that would change that. I think that in most people's minds, the VP issue is settled, and Palin falls out on the short end of the stick. But I suspect we are beyond her. As the month of October campaigning gets heated up, we're going to hear and see and focus much, much more on Obama and McCain. And I'm actually looking forward to that. The Palin phenomenon is now spent. McCain's Palin gambit is played out, and it has come up short. There's nothing more McCain can do, except to go gutterball negative on Obama, to win this thing. My impression is that this election is Obama's to lose. As long as Obama doesn't commit any major mistakes or makes any major gaffes, he's got the election won.

Palin Survives

And that could be a blessing in disguise for the Democrats and a curse on the McCain campaign. Palin didn't crash and burn, but in terms of knowledge and ideas and sincere thoughtfulness, she was canned and hollow. Because Sarah Palin didn't embarrass herself, that's a victory for her; but she obviously had nothing but schooled answers. She rarely answered the questions asked and went back almost too regularly to talking points. She never seemed to have an original thought. But no matter, she didn't melt on stage, and so she lives for another day. And now we get to see her perform (hopefully!) more regularly in front of the American people in more unscripted interviews and press conferences, where she'll have to demonstrate her knowledge chops, which are still really very thin. If McCain shelters her from any press conferences from now until November, the American people will notice and will assume the worst for it.

Biden, for his part, came across as very knowledgable, almost too knowledgable. I think Biden won the debate on the issues, but Sarah Palin held up well on the stage. Palin did much better than I expected. I didn't expect much from her, and she exceeded what I did expect of her. Biden didn't put his foot in his mouth, as I feared he might, and did better than I expected, too. In fact, Biden came across as humble, committed, secure, and thoughtful. When he spoke, it was clear that we were getting Joe Biden and not DNC talking points. And I have to say that Joe Biden connected on a human level in ways that he hasn't done in the past. He showed empathy and emotion and graciousness.

Will this change the course of the election? I don't believe so.

Palin the Post Turtle

This piece of political humor is making the internet/email/blog rounds:

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, who's hand was caught in the gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Palin and her bid.

The old rancher said, "Well, ya know, Palin is a Post Turtle."

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a 'post turtle' was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a 'post turtle.'"

The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain. "You know she didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, and she doesn't know what to do while she's up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with."
Heh! If you want a visual image of Palin, the Post Turtle, click here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

McCain's Favorite Movie?

Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata!

A movie about one of Mexico's most famous peasant revolutionaries whose mission in life was to have land taken from greedy landowners, land that they stole from the largely indigenous peasantry, and then to have this land given back to the indigenous peasantry by government fiat.

Property expropriation, wealth redistribution, class warfare on the side of the peasant workers, and anti-capitalist revolution -- all in Mexico!

Frankly, I love the movie, too!

But somehow I don't think it's gonna sit well with the conservative base!

Palin the Incompetent

Awful. Just jaw-droppingly awful. I was utterly and thoroughly embarrassed for Palin. Watch, and cringe:

Watch CBS Videos Online

To all my friends and readers who are good conservatives, I expect you all live up to your reputations and values and to hold people accountable for their own failings, instead of trying to point fingers at anyone else.

Face the fact: The only person responsible for this disaster of a performance is Sarah Palin.

Even IF Palin has a decent showing tomorrow, how can anyone deny the serious problem here? Hiding this gross incompetence and hoping for a few random passable performances is not the kind of deception of the American people that we should ever tolerate. Head in the sand is the only way. Watch the entire Couric interview from start to finish and tell me if anyone should think a passable performance tomorrow in a scripted debate format SHOULD be reason to give her a pass to being a heartbeat away from the Presidency. Maybe most Americans who only see her Convention address and a passable debate performance might get a favorable impression of her; but one can't deny the fact that the ONLY times she's been unscripted and subject even to basic softball questions of knowledge, she is utterly incompetent. Frankly, I'd MUCH rather have my conservative brother as VP than Palin. She couldn't even think about the Kelo Decision or the Hamden Decision or the Lawrence decision, three SCOTUS cases that I've just come up with off the top of my head as I write this which she probably would disagree with. Imagine: I, a LIBERAL who has absolutely no backgroud in constitutional law, am able to come up with three SCOTUS decisions that a CONSERVATIVE would likely disagree with.

I don't care what anyone says about experience and smarts, there is just no comparison between Obama and Palin in terms of thoughtfulness, knowledge, and competency. In fact, I would argue that a major part of "experience and smarts" requires at least a basic ability and competency in handling one's self much, much better than this in uncomfortable situations. Heck, even some of my Freshman students who come to class woefully unprepared know how to handle such situations better.

To all conservative employers out there: If Palin showed up in front of your desk for an interview and answered ANY question you asked in this kind of way, would you hire her, regardless of her "experience"? Think of it another way: If you showed up to a shareholder meeting and asked the company VP or CEO a question so fundamental to the job that elicited this kind of ignorant response, what would you think about the future of that company?

Seriously, folks, we're talking about the future of our country here, not some likability contest.

I have NEVER seen a competent professional in ANY career perform so awfully in this way.

The RISK of having Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency, and the RISK of having as President Sen. McCain, who would pick such a person as Palin as his Number 2, is much, much, much more dangerous to the future of this country than an Obama/Biden administration.

I just don't see how any truly honest person who really cares about the well-being of this country wouldn't arrive at this conclusion, no matter how much one might like the McCain/Palin team as individual people on a gut personal level or agree with some of their positions.

Palin/Biden Debate Advice

OK. So the VP debate is staring us in the face. Here's how I see it.

(1) This is Sarah Palin's absolute last chance at any sort of redemption. Frankly, I think the damage she's already done to herself with her atrocious softball interviews, coupled with the damage inflicted on her by the sexist handling of her by the McCain campaign, is probably unfixable at this point; but she can at least resuscitate herself to "likable enough" again. But having one decent showing is not going to be enough to remove the stigma that on balance she's simply grossly unprepared and unqualified to be anywhere near the White House at this point.

(2) Joe Biden needs to focus his responses on McCain and try to ignore engaging Sarah Palin directly. He should let Gwen Ifill do her job. Also, Biden needs to keep his comments brief and to the point. He needs to control his penchant for bloviating. If anything, the only thing he should do to engage Sarah Palin is to try to redirect his answers via follow-up questions for Gwen Ifill to then handle. (i.e. If he's asked about NATO, for instance, Biden should give his specific answer and then end by asking something like: This is what the Obama/Biden administration will do; but I'm just not sure what the McCain campaign thinks about how something like Radovan Karadzic's war crimes trial will impact NATO members' alliances." And then let Gwen Ifill ask Palin: "Well what does the McCain campaign think about this?") And then we could watch Palin crash and burn. Biden should frame his answers in such a way that will make Sarah Palin hang herself.

That's my rushed two cents on giving some debate advice. Let's see how it Palins out. (Oops! I mean "pans" out!) ;-)