Archive for June, 2008

An Eye for an Eye

The Supreme Court recently ruled that the death penalty cannot be applied to cases of the rape of a child. This has produced an outcry of opposition from among others, Barack Obama. I think Obama has missed the mark on this one. You see, there is that pesky LINE as in where do we draw the LINE?

Admittedly, I oppose the death penalty altogether. Its deterrent value is questionable and it licenses the state to commit the very act that it is punishing. Of course, that is the death penalty as it applies to murder convictions. While I disagree with it, at least in the application of punishing the crime of deliberate premeditated murder, we have some objective yardstick. In the case of child rape, I see an incredibly slippery slope.

If we apply the death penalty to child rape, what do we tell:
The man whose 80 year old grandmother has been raped?
The engaged woman who was saving her virginity (yes, old fashioned but it still happens) for her future husband and has been raped?
The young woman who is now pregnant with the child of her rapist?
The man who has been raped?

Do we tell all these people that their trauma is somehow less than that of a child?  You answer, “childhood is precious and special. There must be different standards applied there.”

So do we now apply the death penalty to:
Those who physically abuse children (which would put a lot of parents on death row)?
Creators and consumers of child pornography?
Employers who violate child labor laws?

Where do we draw the line? Our national obsession with the welfare of children is somewhat hypocritical in light of our professed disdain of but secret titillation with the likes of Jamie Lynn Spears and Miley Cyrus.

I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision. If we must have the death penalty, it must be reserved for the most narrowly defined set of crimes. Otherwise, in the name of so called decency, we are on the slippery slope to a terrorist state.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 27, 2008 at 11:04 am 10 comments

McCain Goes for the “Youth” Vote

I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Last Friday evening, in The McCain Update, an e-mail newsletter sent out to supporters, McCain provided a link sure to interest those young video game enthusiasts who, left to their own devices, might vote for Obama.

Right there on John’s campaign web site was Pork Invaders. I kid you not. Pork Invaders, in which you use your keyboard to move your “veto” gun back and forth and fire at a brigade of little pigs (no, I’m not making this up). If you manage to move from one level to the next, you are rewarded a snippet of anti-Obama propaganda concerning how much “pork” Obama has pushed through Senate legislation.

John’s game of course is patterned after Space Invaders. Space Invaders, folks, was invented in 1978. Wow, sure shows just how “hip” John is. Now I’m just waiting for John to show his youth appeal by writing campaign ditties to be sung to the melodies of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits. Does it get any cooler than this?

To those who feel they just don’t get enough excitement from my blog, I provide for you below a link to Pork Invaders. Fire away!

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 23, 2008 at 12:31 pm 7 comments

The Campaign Finance Flip Flop

There is only one thing that bothers me about the recent Obama flip flop on campaign finance. He started his statement to his supporters by saying that he would be foregoing more than $80 million in funding by opting out of public financing. Why on Earth did he say that and why did his handlers let him say that? The $80 mil he is “foregoing” is a drop in the bucket compared to what he has and what he will continue to raise. Why he felt he needed to frame this in the context of sacrifice is beyond me.

That said, the idea that this flip flop makes him a typical pol is ridiculous. A typical pol, works within the current system and plays it for all it’s worth. McCain will stick with public financing and let the 527’s do the dirty work for him in the traditional fashion. Rather than being a typical pol, Obama is going outside the established system and is really running a campaign “of the people”.  As other pundits have noted, Obama’s approach makes him beholden to no one. He has millions of small contributors, none of whom alone can unduly influence his policies. For that matter, his flip flop is not of the gargantuan proportions that McCain supporters would have you believe. Almost from the minute that Obama signed the “pledge” he started hedging, indicating that he would only accept public financing if he was assured that the playing field with McCain would be fair. He has obviously figured out that a fair fight this year means he needs all the money he can get. It’s a very sensible decision.

I guess the other thing that puzzles me is if public campaign funding is provided by tax payer dollars, why wouldn’t conservatives be overjoyed that their tax money is not going towards Obama’s campaign?

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm 5 comments

What to Expect from First Lady Cindy McCain

The Cindy McCain cookie scandal got me thinking about what we might expect from Cindy during her days in the White House. So let’s fast forward to September of 2017 to see the highlights of her reign as First Lady.

April, 2009 — When a fire breaks out in the White House, Cindy risks life and limb to save precious presidential portraits. With Chuck Norris waiting on the South Lawn, Cindy valiantly tosses portraits of Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and both Bush’s out the window as Norris catches them below. Portraits of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton perish in the blaze. [1]

June, 2010 — Cindy bans all alcoholic beverages from the White House, claiming to be the first First Lady to do so. She is henceforth nicknamed “Soda Cindy”. [2]

May, 2011 — Defying all reproductive expectations, Cindy gives birth to a baby, whom she names Ruth. She subsequently demands that Nestle name a candy bar after her daughter. [3]

June, 2012 – November, 2012 — No longer able to tell Sunnis from Shia, Iran from Iraq, or R Kelly from Jay-Z, President McCain is prescribed prolonged bed rest. From behind the scenes, Cindy gives combat orders to the generals in all the countries with which we are at war: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Vietnam (again) and Switzerland (McCain — “It’s time we kicked those fence-sitters asses.”) John recovers in time for the November election which he wins in a landslide sympathy vote against Hillary Clinton. [4]

June, 2015 — In another stroke of originality, Cindy begins serving afternoon tea on the South Lawn to honor the fallen soldiers in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Vietnam, Switzerland and England (McCain declares war on England in 2013 based on old grudges he’d held onto since the Revolutionary War days.) [5]

September, 2017 — President McCain’s failed attempt to change the Constitution, allowing him a third term, sends Cindy into despondency. However, shortly after leaving the White House, Cindy announces her various addictions to the public and is instrumental in the founding of the Cindy McCain Clinic, the first, so she says, rehab facility ever named after a First Lady. [6]

When asked to summarize her years in the White House, Mrs. McCain said, “I think I was quite productive. I certainly didn’t spend my time sitting around baking cookies, even though I had many original recipes from which to choose.”

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 19, 2008 at 1:03 pm 9 comments

A Death in the Family

Watching MSNBC Friday afternoon and evening was like sitting in the living room of a family in mourning. Understandably so. Moderator of “Meet the Press”, host of MSNBC’s “The Tim Russert Show” and NBC Washington Bureau Chief, Tim Russert had collapsed while preparing for Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press.” He died soon thereafter.

It was hard to watch the MSNBC coverage because this was no obligatory tribute. There was a genuine sense of loss. It was heartbreaking to watch Andrea Mitchell choke up as she recalled how Russert was the only one besides her own father who would affectionately call her “Mitch”. Throughout the afternoon and evening’s coverage the predominant message was what a high bar Russert had set for his NBC peers and the news industry in general. He set a high standard for how to conduct oneself personally and professionally.

However, I think he also set a high standard on how to die. Tim Russert died doing the work he loved to do. He had a genuine passion for his work and in this most unusual political season, he was like a kid in a candy store. He was at the top of his game, most recently (back in May) declaring Barack Obama the Democratic nominee before it was officially so, yet by his pronouncement, making it so for anyone who was following the race. If Russert said it was over then surely it was.

So we take from the sad news of Tim Russert’s passing a lesson on how to live and how to die. Enjoy every minute of life right up until the end if you possibly can. By staying on top of your game every day of your life you guarantee that when your time comes, you go out on top. That’s what Tim Russert did.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 13, 2008 at 10:58 pm 2 comments

Ageism, Racism and Sexism

It seems as though in this election season we have hit the trifecta of “ism’s”. There have been accusations of racism where Obama is concerned, sexism where Clinton is concerned and most recently ageism where McCain is concerned. The mistake we make is lumping these three together. I see them as distinctly different.

In a class by itself is racism. The racist often has no acquaintances of the “opposite” race. His or her racist beliefs are grounded in stereotypes, what they’ve seen on TV or some extrapolation from the behavior of a select few to the larger group. Barack Obama’s candidacy shows how little racism relates to reality. He does not match negative stereotypes of African Americans. He is more like the so-called average white person than many of the white folks who discount him based on race. Racism, especially in the context of this presidential election comes up utterly absurd.

Sexism is a different animal entirely. This is not to say that sexism is defensible. It is not. However most males have had a woman in their lives. Men form their attitudes about women not only based on stereotype but very much based on behavior of role models. How did their mother behave towards them? How did their father treat their mother? How do they get along with their wife, daughter or sister? Mike Barnicle, columnist for the Boston Herald, has himself in hot water because he said several months ago that Hillary reminds every man of his first wife at probate court. Was this a nice thing to say? Certainly not. But it stems from Hillary’s then shrill manner reminding Barnicle of women he knows. The ways in which men and women relate cut deep into the male psyche. Hillary Clinton’s candidacy was an emotional trigger for many men. The women in our lives have behaved in ways that serve as context for Clinton’s behavior. This form of sexism is based on behavioral experience and cannot be accurately compared to racism based on total ignorance. (It should be added that there are other forms of sexism that do compare with racism. Assumptions about women’s mental and physical capacity, or what role they should play in life are equally offensive and irrational as racist assumptions. But much of the so called sexism suffered by Hillary related to behavior and how that behavior fit into the context of how men relate to the women in their lives.)

Now we come to ageism, a whole other bag of fish. To say, based on a number, that any random individual is incapable of being a good presidential candidate is absurd. The trick with applying the age issue to McCain is that it fits. It is not ageism, it is the accurate recognition of the role age plays in McCain’s candidacy. We can put aside the fact that he shuffles when he walks and that he doesn’t cut the most convincing presidential figure. Heck, FDR was in a wheelchair. Where McCain’s age seems to play a more relevant role is in his beliefs. The man is stuck back in the 60’s. How he can make occupation of Iraq equivalent to occupation of Japan or Germany shows that he does not understand the current situation. He is applying old models to new circumstances and he does not see the mismatch. He is rightfully “confused” between Sunni and Shia because he does not recognize that the Iraq instability is not the old Korea/Germany model of communism/socialism. It is not a social problem, it is a religious problem. McCain does not get it.

Does this mean that any candidate of McCain’s age would be similarly unable to move into the 21st century? Of course not. Being old does not mean you can’t stay current. However, in McCain’s case I think it does. For McCain, his age, where he has been and what he has seen have limited his ability to be effective.

So, while we acknowledge and examine ageism, racism and sexism in this presidential race, let us not oversimplify the matter. They are not the same phenomenon, neither in their root causes nor in their application to the various candidates.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 13, 2008 at 1:13 pm 12 comments

“18 Million Cracks”

I’ve been hard pressed to say anything positive about Senator Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Last Saturday, she just about redeemed herself by conceding the nomination to Barack Obama with perhaps greater eloquence than she ever used in her own defense. Gone were the complex and sometimes absurd calculations on why she was the better nominee. Gone were the poorly chosen words which made you doubt her ethical standards (“he’s not a Muslim, as far as I know”, “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California”). This concession speech hit all the right notes while appropriately taking pride in the barriers that her campaign had busted down.

There was one passage in the speech that was particularly moving because it spoke to all the women voters who felt disenfranchised by Hillary’s defeat.

“Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it. And the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time. That has always been the history of progress in America.”

Some may forget that Barack Obama is not the first African American to knock on the door of presidential opportunity. His predecessors include the improbable Al Sharpton, and the more probable Jesse Jackson and Carol Moseley Braun. Each of these candidates made the prospect of a black president more palpable to our country and made Obama’s candidacy that much easier to obtain. It can also be said that Braun, Shirley Chisolm, Lenora Fulani and Elizabeth Dole, each in their own way paved the road for Hillary.

The bottom line is that history is not always made in bold strokes but rather is made through slow gradations of color. Hillary Clinton has made the prospect of a female United States President that much more likely. Now the time has come for women to recognize how much closer they are to their goal, and support Barack Obama before John McCain sends the womens movement back to the dark ages.

Rutherford Political Blogger Alliance

June 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm 6 comments

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