President’s Address / Republicans’ Town Hall

I was impressed by the President’s speech Wednesday night – he did stand up for the public option, presented the facts about what the health care legislation is proposing, and called out the Republican obstructionist tactics for what they were. Many of the Republicans seemed to be at a Town Hall (one of the kind they stage manage these days) and it wasn’t just the “You lie!” guy, Joe Wilson (who did wonders in fundraising for his Democratic opposition candidate, Rob Miller, with that infamous outburst).

President Obama laid out the case:

Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade — has led us to the breaking point.  Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.  These are not primarily people on welfare.  These are middle-class Americans.  Some can’t get insurance on the job.  Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer.  Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or too expensive to cover. 

Indeed, why is America, of all countries, so backward?:

We are the only democracy — the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardship for millions of its people.  There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.  In just a two-year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point.  And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage.  In other words, it can happen to anyone.

He told of some of the horrors:

One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about.  They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.  Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne.  By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer had more than doubled in size.  That is heart-breaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America. 

Our healthcare is expensive and inefficient:

Then there’s the problem of rising cost.  We spend one and a half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it.  This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages.  It’s why so many employers — especially small businesses — are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely.  It’s why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally — like our automakers — are at a huge disadvantage.  And it’s why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care. 

Then he dismisses the single-payer way too easily. Which is what we should have, and which is why it cracks me up when the teabaggers claim Obama and the other Democrats are flaming socialists. We wish they were socialists, like Bernie Sanders.

I like when he said “The time for games has passed.”  Unfortunately, the Republicans would prove him wrong before the night was over.

Then the President starts addressing the fear mongering:

Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan.  First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.  (Applause.)  Let me repeat this:  Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

Then he brings up what the legislation will do, like not allowing insurance companies to deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition, drop your coverage when your sick, or have a lifetime cap. Making sure the insurance covers routine checkups and preventative care.

Then the idea of having health insurance for those who don’t have it now. The insurance exchange, using the high number of customers to keep costs down, as large businesses and the government do, as Congress does for themselves. Here’s a thought – if those Republican congess people are so willing to let their constituents do without affordable insurance as they try to derail health care, would they be willing to do without it?  It is a government program.  Maybe they should show how much they’re against government programs by their families doing without.

Then the President says it will take awhile to get it off the ground and proposes offering low cost coverage now for those who can’t due to pre-existing conditions.  A proposal by Senator John McCain (and it was good to see he was willing to work with President Obama on it).  This is the McCain who existed before the Presidential election, when he veered off into the Republican nastiness because it was required of him. I may disagree with him on a lot of issues, but Senator McCain used to, and maybe now is again, be principled and reasonable.

Requiring everyone to carry insurance (and there is mention previously of help in the form of subsidies for those who need it).  Fair enough, unless we end up compromising everything away until it’s just welfare for the insurance companies.

Then he calls the right wing talk show hosts and Congress people out on their obstructionism:

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost.  The best example is the claim made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but by prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.  Now, such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible.  It is a lie, plain and simple. 
 
There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants.  This, too, is false.  The reforms — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. 
Ahh, here’s where Joe Wilson came in with the “You lie!” Now, while I happen to disagree with the President and think we should, in fact, provide health care for all, alas, that is not true, as has been noted by PolitiFact, the President is telling the truth.
 
Here is is from the legislation:

H.R. 3200: Sec 246 NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.

So, where did Congressman Wilson get his “facts” from? Well, PolitiFact notes there was a chain e-mail claiming “that page 50 of the House bill gives free health care to illegal immigrants.”

That page didn’t say that. Rather, it included a generic nondiscrimination clause that said insurers may not discriminate with regard to “personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.”

So it isn’t there, but Rep. Wilson and others are reading it into the bill.  Let’s think about this in a moment.

 

As the President points out, “consumers do better with choice and competition.”  Competition that doesn’t exist now in many areas.  Then he makes the case for public option:

But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Now, let me be clear.  Let me be clear.  It would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance.  No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance.  In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.

 
Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don’t like this idea.  They argue that these private companies can’t fairly compete with the government.  And they’d be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option.  But they won’t be.  I’ve insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.  But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits and excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers, and would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities. 
So President Obama does makes the case for a public option, but he leaves wiggle room (which does make me nervous, given that he was previously willing to back down).  He says that “the public option is only a means to that end — and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. “

 

Then he talks about Medicare and the fear mongering going around that when his suggestion is eliminating waste, calling out the Republicans on their hypocrisy:

So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut, especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past and just this year supported a budget that would essentially have turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program.  That will not happen on my watch.  I will protect Medicare. 

Our President sounds like he’s willing to fight:

But know this:  I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than to improve it. I won’t stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are.  If you misrepresent what’s in this plan, we will call you out. And I will not — and I will not accept the status quo as a solution.  Not this time.  Not now.

Wow, he remembered he won the election!  Now will his Democratic friends in Congress, especially the “Blue Dogs” remember they won theirs?  The American people really need them to take a stand for the people, for health care for all.

 

Now back to the Republican Town Hall side show.  It really wasn’t just Joe Wilson, even though many of his Republican colleagues said they were appalled as well. All though the President’s speech, Republicans were waving their copies of the legislation.  What was that all about?  Well, we all know the wing-nuts (and the Congress members and talk show hosts egging them on), say “Read the legislation!”, implying none of the rest of us, especially congressional Democrats, have read it.

 

What they really seem to be asking though, is “read into the legislation.”  Note the innocuous passage above that Joe Wilson and the sender of those e-mail use to claim that illegal aliens are covered with this legislation.  The “death panel” for grannies and Trig claim from including counseling on end of life options such as hospice care, something that former Governor Palin actually signed into action, before she was against “death panels”

 

So, read (into) the legislation.  Read into it whatever the fear mongers want you to believe.  Do away with meaningful health care reform that would guarantee your family affordable coverage and make sure you don’t face life threatening choices for your grannies and children because of the unwillingness of your insurance care to cover it.  One suggestion though – ask your Republican congress people to give up their government provided health insurance that guarantees their families will be secure.  Insist they join you in your war against the federal government (which is, by the way, all of us – liberal, conservative or whatever politics) by refusing their government paid for, and very good, health insurance.  Let’s see how fast they stick to the principal of letting them and their loved ones fall through the health care cracks that they’re trying to sell you.

Advertisements

Meet Me in St. Louis vs Republican Cynicism

So, even though the polls show it’s actually losing them votes, McCain, Palin and their allies continue with their vicious attacks.   Meanwhile, Barack continues to take the high ground, even though there’s plenty of mud he could sling back, and talks about the issues. 

Oddly enough (at least to the Republican nominees), the issues do seem to be what the American people want to hear about.  Witness this crowd that the police estimated to be 100,000 Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri. 

StLouisBarack

The latest has been the “Joe the Plumber” strategy, of claiming Obama is a socialist bent on radically redistributing wealth.  Interestingly enough, the good people of St. Louis seem to like the idea of a tax cut for those 95 % of American workers (and 98% of small businesses) making less than a quarter million a year.  People who make up most of the crowd, and I’m sure aren’t happy with their characterization by McCain of not paying their taxes (which the IRS most certainly asks them for each April 15, although less so if Obama gets in).

Meanwhile, I guess Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will want all these people investigated, claiming in this surreal MSNBC video that Obama’s friends and liberals in general are “anti-American” and the press should do a McCarthy era type investigation of anyone to the left in congress.

OK, I know the McCain/Palin campaign has brought out a lot nuts, but this woman is a U.S. Congresswoman?  The United States still being a democracy, the last time I checked? 

I’ve got news for Rep. Bachmann.  All those people in St. Louis, and around the country, who are coming to hear Obama; and all of us who are going to be voting for him on November – We Are the American People, too.

And . . .

We’re Voting for Real Change.

Yes, We Can!

Real Plumbers Are Voting for Barack

I admit, I was kind of amused to learn that “Joe the Plumber,” whom both John McCain and Barack Obama referenced numerous times during last night’s debate, is a real person.  However, there seems to be some question about Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher’s plumbing credentials according to the local plumbers’ union in Toledo.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade, Joe doesn’t have a plumbing license, and is not registered to work as a plumber in the state of Ohio “which means he’s not a plumber.”

Mr. Wulzerbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wulzerbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.

“When you have guys going out there with no training whatsoever, it’s a little disreputable to start with,” Mr. Joseph said. “We’re the real Joe the Plumber.”

Mr. Joseph said Mr. Wulzerbacher could only legally work in the townships, but not in any municipality in Lucas County or elsewhere in the country.

“This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America,” Mr. Joseph said.

The association has endorsed Barack Obama, according to Mr. Joseph.

McCain brought up Joe, out of his concern that Joe would need to pay taxes on his income of over $250,000 (putting him as earning over 95% of Americans, which would make him rich in my book, it not Mr. Seven Houses McCain’s) if he takes over the business from his boss.  Turns out Joe probably has nothing to worry about, as he apparently earned about $40,000 in 2006, and still seems to live in modest surroundings. However, Joe is still worried about the “socialism” of getting taxed on over a quarter million dollars should he take over his boss’ business (where he currently works as an under-payed, unlicensed, worker, who probably shouldn’t have been bringing attention to himself).

I’d tell Joe to get some training and join the union; but I’m sure he just considers making union wages as “socialism” and wants to hold onto his building his plumbing empire dream.

Joe (and those like him) is how the wealthy Republicans who really run things get in power.

I’m with the real plumbers, and voting for Barack!  Even though I’m going to win the lottery or make it as a famous stand up comedian (hey, I’m entitled to my American daydream, too).  I’ll willingly pay more taxes when I make more than $250k.

Anyone who wants to give that much or more to me to test my sincerity – Bring it on!

An Economic Plan vs Sowing Seeds of Hatred

One of the things that really impresses me about Barack Obama is how he just ignores the vicious attacks from the Republicans and continues talking about the issues that matter instead of responding in kind. 

Once again, I feel absolute despair if I focus on McCain and Palin’s thinly disguised racist and undisguised anti-liberal attacks, whipping up this time charges of treason.  On the other hand, I feel genuine hope for America when I look at Barack’s rallies.  I hear him talking about substantive plans for issues like the economy, education, and health care. I see positive, engaged crowds; ready to help Obama put his vision for a positive future for them and their families in action.

If I focus my energies on the fear and hatred being sown for the minority of the Republican base, I miss the fact that rallies are still going on around the country like this one in Philadelphia (photos courtesy of Barack Obama’s Flickr page):

MiniRally

One of four “mini-rallies” in different neighborhoods in Philly this Saturday!

I’d miss the crowd reactions, the hope he brings in places like Philadelphia:

PrayingMan

The enthusiasm in places like Toledo:

ToledoRally

More importantly, I’d miss hearing details of his economic plan.  Details from the Toledo Blade (full speech below):

Highlights of his plan include:

* A temporary tax credit of $3,000 for firms that create new jobs in the United States over the next two years.

* New legislation that would allow families to withdraw 15% of their retirement savings — up to a maximum of $10,000 — without facing a tax-penalty this year (including retroactively) and next year.

 A 90-day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners that are acting in good faith.

* Calling on the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to work to establish a facility to lend to state and municipal governments.

Mr. Obama’s plan also calls for temporarily eliminating taxes on unemployment insurance benefits; keeping all options on the table to help automakers deal with the financial crisis; having the Fed and Treasury prepare for guaranteeing a broader range of liabilities of the banking system; and instructing Treasury to help unfreeze markets for individual mortgages, student loans, car loans, loans for multi-family dwellings and credit card loans.

Notice two other important things from the video.  First, that he immediately silences any booing of McCain and Palin, insisting on civility (something sorely missing from McCain, Palin and their supporters these days).  Second, that, just like with education and calling for students and parents to make learning a priority, along with training more teachers and education improvements; he also calls for Americans to look at their own tendency to live beyond their means on credit, while also calling for accountability from the banks, credit card companies and others responsible for the economic crisis. 

Definitely guilty here, and have learned the hard way.

It’s the Economy (and it’s really scary. . .)

This election really coming down to the economy again, as it was for Clinton the first time.  It’s hard to lie about the economy to the American public, because people know what’s in their own wallet. I know I’ve been hurting for some time, as have many others.  Then there’s the failure of so many major financial institutions at rates not seen since the Great Depression.

Meanwhile, McCain is looking very out of touch, and  said the economy was fundamentally sound on Monday, even as Lehman Brothers went into bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch was sold.

So, what does he do Tuesday, but try to spin it (as noted in a NY Times editorial):

He said that by calling the economy fundamentally sound, what he really meant was that American workers are the best in the world. In the best Karl Rovian fashion, he implied that if you dispute his statement about the economy’s firm foundation, you are, in effect, insulting American workers. “I believe in American workers, and someone who disagrees with that — it’s fine,” he told NBC’s Matt Lauer.

Mmm, right, when we say you’re clueless about the economy, we’re attacking the American workers, Senator McCain?  Wait a second, I am an American worker, that’s why I’ve known for a long time the economy was unsound, long before Wall Street.  You can’t put lipstick on that bull, Senator.

As the Times went on to say:

In clarifying his comments, Mr. McCain lavished praise on workers, but ignored their problems. That is the real insult.

For decades, typical Americans have not been rewarded for their increasing productivity with comparably higher pay or better benefits. The disconnect between work and reward has been especially acute during the Bush years, as workers’ incomes fell while corporate profits, which flow to investors and company executives, ballooned. For workers, that is a fundamental flaw in today’s economy. It is grounded in policies like a chronically inadequate minimum wage and an increasingly unprogressive tax system, for which Mr. McCain offers no alternatives.

Barack really gets it, and his economic plan, was one of the issues in his plan that really impressed me back when I bookmarked his website when it was his exploratory committee’s.

As Robert Scheer notes in Truthdig about McCain:

He voted for abolishing all of the significant rules put in place at the time of the Great Depression designed to prevent a repeat. The two main bills accomplishing that, bills which McCain enthusiastically supported, were the Commodity Futures Modernization Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The Gramm is former Sen. Phil Gramm, who was chair of the Senate Banking Committee when he acted as chief sponsor of both pieces of legislation. The same Gramm that McCain picked to co-chair his presidential campaign.

On the other hand:

Barack Obama has been way ahead of McCain in grasping the severity of the problem and back in March offered a scorching criticism of the deregulation mania, in particular the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, which allowed the stockbrokers, insurance companies and banks to merge for the first time since the 1930s, ushering in this era of irresponsibility. But that was in the primaries, and now he has turned for advice to Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, who both served as treasury secretaries in the Clinton administration and talked the president into signing that wretched legislation.

 I’d be lying if I said the last part doesn’t concern me.  Even Obama seems to have trouble keeping the special interests out of the process.  He is recommending some (hopefully serious) regulation, however; and all McCain is offering is to form a national commission to ignore, err, study the problem.

All these mergers, buyouts and bailouts are putting the financial institutions and the U.S. taxpayers who are bailing them out, on real shaky ground.  As the New York Times noted:

During the Depression, Congress separated commercial banks, which take deposits and make loans, from investment banks, which underwrite and trade securities. The investment banks were allowed to do business with less oversight, while commercial banks operated with tighter supervision.

But after Congress repealed those Depression-era laws in 1999, commercial banks began muscling in on Wall Street’s turf. As the new competition whittled down profit margins, investment banks used more of their capital to trade securities and also began developing financial derivatives to fuel profits.

As Amy Goodman points out, this all came about because “President Clinton and his treasury secretary, Robert Rubin (now an Obama economic adviser), presided over the repeal in 1999 of the Glass-Steagall Act, passed after the 1929 start of the Great Depression to curb speculation that caused that calamity. The repeal was pushed through by former Republican Sen. Phil Gramm, one of McCain’s former top advisers.”

Those laws were passed for good reason during the Great Depression, now we’re back to where all that can happen again, aren’t we?  Yes, we have the FDIC now, which insures accounts up to $100,000.  Still, what happens when we have to actually have to use it at rates of bank failures approaching (or passing) Depression Era levels?  Along with all these other bailouts, and are already huge debt?  Can American declare bankruptcy?  Will we be auctioned off to the highest bidder?  China?  Saudia Arabia? 

OK, maybe my speculation is too far here, but, seriously, what happens?  We definitely need someone in there to turn this around.

Locally, WaMu (Washington Mutual) is looking for a buyer, and some people are getting jittery and taking their money out of the bank.  Actually, I took mine out and put it in a credit union several years ago over their $40 overdraft fees.  WaMu’s stock price closed at $2.01 Wednesday.  It turns out that was a 94% drop from where it had been one year earlier, of $35.96 a share.

Pretty scary. . .

Grassroots Organizing for Change

While I should have thought it over a bit and realized the event was a bad fit (and I probably wouldn’t follow through), I don’t regret going to Renton for the Canvassing for Change event Saturday morning.  I was inspired after a discouraging week, not so much by Howard Dean’s speech, as by the 400 or more people who crowded the room (and that was for the 1st shift). 

IMG_8624

I think Howard Dean is right, Obama is going to win this election by grassroots organizing.  That being said, I don’t know if I’m going to be one of the people knocking on doors.  I’m a shy person, and truly, even with someone to go with, I’m not sure if I could handle it or be at all articulate.  There’s a reason why I write.  It’s an easier form of communication for me (though sometimes I even get shy writing).

I was at first encouraged Saturday when they mentioned being able to canvass your own legislative district.  I found the 43rd was not represented, though, and it was just as while they brushed me off to come back during the break between speakers when I was trying to figure out what might be close.  The more I thought it over, the more I realized that it looked like the situation was that I would be getting my own packet to go out and knock on doors myself.  There didn’t seem to be pairing off, as most people had someone.  With a smaller event, maybe I would have asked.

I did have one friend who could have made the second shift (2–5pm), but that wouldn’t have worked out as I had long before committed to being at the Amnesty International table that night for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project Dinner (more tomorrow on that).  That was my other problem, and after the hour trip home (with a half hour wandering around Renton snapping photos, as I had just missed a bus), I realized I only had a couple hours to get ready for the dinner as it was.  Over scheduling, obviously, another problem for me.

After checking later on the King County Democrats website, I realized there would have been another problem, as it looks like all the Legislative Districts were outside Seattle, in south or east King County.  Which would make it rather difficult, as I’d have to figure out how to get to a neighborhood in another city by bus from Renton, then back from Seattle.  Do that without a computer to find that information, and then all the time that would take.  It was the 41st and 48th that were suggested to me as being closest (which may well be, without Seattle districts in the mix), but those were in Bellevue (so an hour back to Seattle, another hour to Bellevue, and probably another half hour wait or two).  So, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyways if I waited around for a packet. 

Then, there’s the idea of me, knocking on strangers doors and trying to convince them how to vote.  Would I have even followed through if I did get a packet?  No matter how much Barack inspires me, it’s pretty hard to go against my basic nature as an introvert. Believe me, I’m already beyond my comfort zone much of the time as it is, especially with my activism, and sometimes I think I should become a recluse. I know I would be happier.

Going out to Renton for the canvassing was a little crazy anyways (given the lengthy bus trip both ways, including waits).  I just so wanted to do something after the nastiness of the McCain attack ads.  I could have canvassed closer, either through the 43rd District Democrats or the new  Neighbor to Neighbor feature on Barack Obama’s website (informational video below).  I’m still not sure if I could do it, and definitely not by myself.

That being said, there are other things I can do, and the My Barack Obama feature, state pages (here’s Washington’s) and groups are helpful for finding those.  I’ve already written some postcards for Obama, and may do a shift at a Buttonpalooza or a voter registration drive.

Buttonpalooza?   Do I live an exciting life, or what? 

Well, life is going to get more exciting one way or another, whoever wins this election.  I’d just like it to be a positive excitement.  Let’s see, encouraging children to learn, creating more American jobs, tax breaks for working people and small businesses; vs cronyism, turning back the clock to the 19th century, and if John’s ticker doesn’t hold up, all White House cabinet positions held by Sarah’s old school chums from Wasilla.  Will that be fun, or what?!

Love the part about her friend who’s the head of the State Division of Agriculture, a former real estate agent, who now draws a $95,000 a year paycheck because of her qualification of “her childhood love of cows.”  Why do the words, “Heck of a job, Brownie” come to mind?

As noted in a previous blog, the time is getting short for people to register to vote or update their registration addresses, generally by the end of the month (and the vote caging continues).  Make sure you’re registered, and get all of your friends to register by checking Vote for Change:

http://www.voteforchange.com/

Then vote for change November 4th (or sooner for those who vote by mail).

Vote for real change (and if you live in Seattle, buy a copy of Real Change, the long running homeless newspaper)!

Attack Ads vs Education Reform

Oh, my.  Sorry I always come so late to just how nasty these McCain ads are getting.  I don’t watch much television.  What is even more shocking than the viciousness of them (and from McCain used to have some integrity, or appeared to), is how can they get away with them without losing almost all their voters?  Unless. . . Well, let’s face it. . . unless there really is that much latent bigotry In America; because there is a very racist subtext to al these ugly ads.The scary, elitist, black man, who may be Muslim, is now insulting our women and wants to teach our kindergarteners about sex.

It is shocking that ads like this one can run in the 21st Century:

A lot of lies and distortions, but, of course, the most disturbing one saved for the end, claiming he voted for legislation to teach sex education in kindergarten.  The Washington Post ran a Fact Checker article, and of course, the real story was very different.  It was about protecting children from molesters by teaching them about inappropriate touching. 

If we wanted to play it like the Republicans, we could ask “Why is John McCain pro-child molester?” Although we could ask, and should, why McCain would distort the part of a bill meant to help protect children from abuse with claims it was about teaching 5 year olds all the finer details about sex?  Mind you, I do think comprehensive sex education for teenagers is needed, as highlighted by Bristol (sorry, I don’t want to talk about it much, but it is true – this is what happens with abstinence only education), and the fact that, according to federal health officials, 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.

The McCain ad is wrong when it claims–in a voice dripping with sarcasm–that Obama’s “one accomplishment” in the education field was the sex education bill for kindergartners. While it is true that Obama supported the bill, he was not one of the sponsors. As far as kindergartners were concerned, the principal purpose of the bill was to make them aware of the risk of inappropriate touching and sexual predators. Other states, including California and Massachusetts, have passed similar legislation.

What else does the ad distort?  Well, the Education Week article actually was mostly positive of Obama. . .

Education Week bills itself as the “journal of record” for education professionals. In March last year, it ran a generally positive article about Obama, describing him as one of several Democratic candidates with a demonstrated interest in education policy. The article noted that Obama had gained considerable “grassroots experience” of education problems in Chicago as the member of a board of a school reform initiative known as the Annenberg Challenge. It went on to say that he had not made “a significant mark on education policy” in either the Illinois Senate or the U.S. Senate, but had pushed for the expansion of early childhood education.

So, instead of attacking Barack with lies, could McCain tell us what his education plan is?  Barack already has, and I’ll post it again. 

Obama is talking about preparing our kids for 21st Century jobs and emphasizing math and science so they don’t lose out on jobs to kids educated in India or China.  He’s talking about investing in early childhood education so all children will be prepared for school.  He’s talking about putting college within reach for everyone.  Fixing No Child Left Behind and fully funding it. Setting the high expectations for our students other countries do.  Encouraging them to study harder and aim higher. Encouraging innovation in schools.  Yes, improving public schools.  John McCain is against public schools, apparently, from his ad; and he’s calling Barack elitist?  The most recent technology in schools.  Recruiting and training new teachers.  The need for parental involvement.

What is McCain’s plan? 

Time for a Howl-In with Howard Dean

That’s it!  After the last two weeks of listening to insults, wedge (or wedgie) issues and swiftboating (not to mention voter suppression) by the Republicans so they can avoid discussing the real issues, I’m actually going to go canvassing this Saturday.  In Renton.  After a speech by (and maybe some good howling with) Howard Dean.  Canvassing, and I hate knocking on strangers’ doors and talking to them.

If you live near Seattle, and are fed up too, come and join us.

Details at: http://my.barackobama.com/page/event/detail/gs745w

This whole “lipstick on a pig” bit was the last straw (and they still want to pretend like they think Barack was insulting Palin when he was talking about McCain’s economic policy).  As Barack said, “Enough.”  Can we talk about the real issues, or is it that John McCain and Sarah Palin don’t have much of a plan to talk about?

Enough!  These are serious times, and we need serious solutions, not wedgies and swiftboating.  Where is the media in covering the candidates’ plans for the economy, education, healthcare, to end the war in Iraq?  The issues that should really matter when we vote for a President.

On the same day as the “lipstick on a pig” comment, Barack made this 36 minute speech on education:

So what’s the McCain/Palin plan for education?  Isn’t that what we should be talking about and comparing less than 60 days before the election?

Student Voter Suppression, Too!

So, they’re not just suppressing the poor and black vote this time.  Since Barack appeals to students, the Republicans are trying to stop them from voting with lies, too.

According to the New York Times:

Late last month, as a voter-registration drive by supporters of Senator Barack Obama was signing up thousands of students at Virginia Tech, the local registrar of elections issued two releases incorrectly suggesting a range of dire possibilities for students who registered to vote at their college.

The releases warned that such students could no longer be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, a statement the Internal Revenue Service says is incorrect, and could lose scholarships or coverage under their parents’ car and health insurance.

As I mentioned in my last post (just a few minutes ago), I think it’s really important for everyone to register and vote (and get everyone they know to register and vote) for Barack in this election.  It’s also important that we fight this “caging” and voter suppression by Republicans.

It says a lot about the Republicans that they apparently only think they can win by lies, sarcasm and deceit.  Currently we have the McCain/Palin camp acting like they’ve never heard the expression “You can put lipstick on a pig – it’s still a pig.” in their lives (even though it’s older than McCain, and he himself used it against Hillary).  Instead, we have Republicans like former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift (who started this round of “swift boating”) claim the expression, which Barack used referring to McCain, was meant as a sexist insult to Sarah.

Please!!!  Really, the expression does really apply to Senator McCain and Governor Palin.  No, I’m not referring to their appearances, which are very photogenic (poor Abe couldn’t run these days, though he’d even recognize that expression).  I’m referring to their record, their ethics, their vicious attacks; all meant to cover up the lack of any real plan to deal with the issues that concern the American public and affect real working class people.  Barack has a plan to deal with issues like the economy, education, health care, women’s rights, veteran’s concerns, ending the war in Iraq. . .  Where’s McCain’s? 

It does appear McCain and Palin would prefer to roll in the mud, rather than discuss the issues.

Who do you want in office for the next four years? 

Register.  Vote.  Fight voter suppression.

Fight the spin.  It seems like the whole point of this “lipstick on a pig”, of pretending Barack’s using that old expression against McCain was meant as an insult to Sarah, was meant to plant the seed that a black, elite, man was insulting a white, working class, woman.

I find that Republican spin very insulting to me – as a white, working class woman.  Like we’re supposed to be such bimbos we’ll vote on identity and not realize the McCain/Palin platform is neither supportive of the working class or women.

We’re not that dumb.  Guess you’re going to have to try to suppress the white, working class women vote, too!

Hope vs Cynicism: Register. Vote. Yes, We Can!

The Republican Vice Presidential candidate has filed an ethics complaint against herself.  What more can you say? 

Ever since the conventions I’ve been torn between the images of hope and unity from the Democrats (and especially of Obama’s acceptance speech detailing a better future to a multi-cultural crowd of over 84,000), and the meanness and cynicism of the mostly white and rich Republicans (especially Sarah’s nastiness toward Obama, and McCain’s speech offering nothing but trickle down economics, lies and playing on people’s fears).

I have to go with Hope, though, and I do believe Hope is going to win. If there is a silver lining to Sarah’s speech, it is this – that thousands of Democrats (more than 130,000 by the next afternoon) donated an estimated $10 million to Barack before McCain even took the stage.

Grassroots organizing is still going on as well.  I attended a salon for Obama at a friends’ house Sunday with about 20 others to help plan how we’re going to win this election.  Thousands of similar events, vote drives, house parties and more are going on around the country.  Yes, We Can!

Meanwhile, the ethics of Alaska’s supposed ethics reformer and VP Candidate Sarah Palin seem murkier and murkier.  According to Robert Perry of the Consortium News (reprinted in Truthout):

Moreover, on Tuesday, just one day before giving her widely acclaimed speech to the Republican National Convention, Palin took the unusual step of filing an ethics complaint against herself – to move the investigation to the state personnel board whose three members are appointed by the governor.

This was known by the mainstream news media before Palin’s speech, yet it “was rarely, if ever, mentioned by TV pundits filling hours of air time with chatter about her charisma, her moose hunting and her 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy.”

Then, this mornings Washington Post reports that:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has billed taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office, charging a “per diem” allowance intended to cover meals and incidental expenses while traveling on state business.

And this is Alaska’s ethics reformer!

Meanwhile, as Michelle Obama mentioned at a Women for Obama event in Albuquerque last week, time is getting short, especially for voter registration, which has to be done by the end of this month or early next month, depending on where you live.

This is an important election.  Register, and if you’re already registered, make sure all your address is up to date, then make sure your friends and family are registered (convincing any fence sitters to vote for Barack).

Information online (including deadlines):

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/vrachome

One slight inaccuracy on the website’s Washington state information.  They say Pierce is the only county still voting at the polls.  Actually, while we were supposed to be switched over to all mail voting by this year here in King County, they delayed it until after this election.  Most people are voting by mail even here, but there are a few of us hold outs going to the polling booth on November 4

When I vote, I always remember going in the polling booth (which looked huge to me at 4) with Mama back in Apalachin, New York when she voted for Robert Kennedy for New York State Senator in 1964.  Seems kind of appropriate that I’ll be casting what will probably be my last vote in an actual polling booth (soon to go into a museum?) for Barack Obama.

This moment has been a long time coming in so many ways.  If you’re thinking of not voting, listen to what some people had to risk to vote in 1964 in Mississippi

Should this not convince you, check the Truthout article on vote “caging” by the Republican party in Ohio (then make sure your voter registration address is up to date).  It’s the 21st century and this is still going on.

Vote.

Yes, We Can!