East coast, left coast, and “wonderful little pockets” in between

According to Sarah Palin,

We believe that the best of America is in the small towns that we get to visit, and in the wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard-working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation.

You know what? I’m tired of this your-America versus our-America bullshit. Every single citizen is part of the real America–part of the dichotomy between rich and poor, left and right, liberal and conservative, creative and analytical, educated and ignorant, entertained and bored, thoughtful and thoughtless.

Intentionally, superficially divisive politics fit into the latter category.

The real America is also the economic centers of the country. The farms, the factories, the skyscrapers, the theaters, the film backlots, the offices, the aerospace compounds, the retail centers, the universities, the tourist attractions. Cities are just as American as small towns. Small towns are just as American as cities. People are not more American because of their job, their background, their lack of education, or their residence in a swing state.

As Sarah Vowell said on The Daily Show the other day, if New York was American enough for the terrorists, it’s American enough for the rest of us.

I hope that after this election the nonsense about them versus us stops. Because every time politicians stoke that fire (every two years, just often enough to make it a permaflame) instead of focusing on the legitimate disagreements between their ideas, we all lose. Can’t we just have a civil discussion about how really bright minds come up with completely opposite ideas?

Stop pandering and realize that we all contribute. Some a lot more than others. But we’re all still citizens and every single vote should count.

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What about the issues?

So the blogoshere and FoxNewsForRepublicans are abuzz with silliness about Sarah Palin’s Newsweek cover. Some are upset that she wasn’t airbrushed to within an inch of recognizability. Um…two things. First, airbrushing the humanity out of women’s faces is part of the problem with the way we, in this country, judge a woman first by her exterior and almost never by her ideas. Second, other persons of political importance have had exactly the same angle and zoom, and have looked just as flawless as she does, and nobody made a stink. How sexist that FoxNews thinks this cover is nasty, just because she’s a woman and presumably valuable for her looks. The cover pictures her face, and we’re not obligated to beautify it–every human face is beautiful the way it is. Sarah Palin’s face on this cover lovely and it’s not the point, because her politics are the point. Get over the fact that we should white glove her but manhandle the three other major political figures of the American presidential race. She gets the same treatment–respectful, full frontal magnifying glass. Airbrushing is reprehensible enough for fashion models and celebrities. She’s not in this game for her face. She’s in this game for her mind. Can we finally have a picture of that, please?

(Wouldn’t that be awesome? Have medical science design a way to measure a person’s intelligence, fairness, logic, goodness, and fundamental worthiness? Then election and marriage and hiring and friendship decisions would be much easier.)

Here’s a blog about the zoom-y cover nonsense. The first response, about a plastic surgeon judging her face is positively offensive. When are we allowed to look like ourselves? Baby photos are Photoshopped for magazines, toddlers are tarted up in full makeup for Little Miss Pedophile contests, teens are mocked for their appearance, and the rest of the country carves themselves to get self esteem.

On a similar note, I was searching the phrase “Sarah Palin is a hater” because after seeing a few clips of her speeches I marvel at how toxic and acerbic her tone is. “Who is the real Barack Obama?” Ah, excuse, me, Madam Governor, but isn’t that the pot calling the kettle an outsider? If his daughter or Joe Biden’s daughter was pregnant we’d be having a different election. If his religion or Joe Biden’s religion was as extreme, we’d be having a different election. If he or Joe Biden had been found by a bipartisan committee to have abused power, we would have a different election. Barack Obama has given hundreds, nay thousands, of interviews. And he has several flaws. But we know about them. Who is the real Barack Obama? Who is the real Sarah Pain? She can’t even name what media she relies upon for her information, let alone give a clear answer (I’m not going to answer that , and will instead answer the question I prepared…I read everything put in front of me…I’ll get back to you on that…it doesn’t matter what I believe about global warming, we just need to fix it). Obama’s Christian pastor said some really eye opening things, and Obama left his Christian church. (Had to repeat that qualifer because there are still people who think he’s Muslim. Not that I would care. Religion or not, I care how people think, not which brand of god they buy.) Palin’s pastor has said some really eye opening things and nobody calls her on it. Seriously, people. When is the superficial lovefest about this woman going to end, and when do we get to hear what she really believes? After the election? She doesn’t believe in global warming or evolution or birth control or government oversight, (until just recently, when it became clear that unbridled capitalism really kind of sucks for the innocent). She believes The Lord is at work in things like gas pipelines and wars (take a look at this article). She believes that rape and incest victims should be forced to have the children conceived in those violent acts, and she believes her daughter is the only one who should get to choose what to do with her own body.

Anyway, I found this blog, which led me to this New Yorker article. Funny, I guess, if it weren’t so scary.

Makes me want to go back to teaching critical thinking, because a good percentage of this country needs some of that skill.

(Speaking of, I heard a fantastic program on NPR yesterday that included a lengthy discussion of Harlem’s efforts to lift children out of the cycle of poverty. An interesting bit, early on in This American Life‘s piece, noted that job training and welfare programs are failing because some Americans aren’t missing one skill, something teachable that, once fixed, will enable them to work. They’re missing dozens of skils, including motivation, financial knowledge, and basic critical thinking. If we give kids positive, enriching environments that teach them to think broadly about problems, we create a future of universal success. Critical thinking might also help us end the cycle of getting the government we deserve, because we might, collectively, vote in our best interests, not in our narrowest interests.)

activist judges

So if a court, especially the Supreme Court, makes a ruling you disagree with, it’s activism? It’s legislating from the bench? Just because you disagree? Ever consider that those judges are professional legal scholars and you aren’t, and it’s their job to decide if what we do is legal? If a majority of Americans come together and vote for a law that goes against the Constitution, against everything the country was founded upon (say, for instance, Jim Crow separate but equal, or modern, homophobic separate but equal), then it’s the Court’s fault when they strike down that law? By judging a law unconstitutional, the judiciary does not create laws. They are not legislating. They are judging. It’s their job. And if you don’t like what they decide, you can’t just raise the specter of out of control judges by saying they are legislating. It’s simply not true. Declaring a law unconstitutional says that the people are simply not allowed to make the law they made. It’s judges’ job to decide if what we do is legal.

But if you say that’s activist judges at work, whatever. I mean, I’ve disagreed with the Court’s findings before, and will again. But I don’t consider their decisions activism. I consider their logic flawed and their opinions wrongheaded. But I know they vote exactly the way we could have predicted them to, since their logic is usually the same throughout their career, and their wrongheadedness consistent. That’s why Presidents choose the justices they do.

It seems more than a little ignorant to say that voters can pass laws in favor of slavery, or bigotry, or inequality and expect that Justices will uphold those laws.

btw, Prop 8 has nothing to do with religious freedom. Prop 8 amends the California State Constitution to take away a right that all Californians have. It uses the will of the many to exclude a few. And that’s unAmerican. Not religious or free. That’s ignorant hatred of people who are different than you are. There is no separate set of rules for the majority or for the minority. We all get the same treatment. That’s the point.

Here’s a little secret. If you open your mind to new ideas, it’s not as though your brains will fall out of your head, or that your old opinions will go away. Consider the new ideas. And if you don’t like them, discard them. But for heaven’s sake, just try the ideas out for a little while. You might be surprised at what you find.

Slaughterhouse morsels

Well, years after Fast Food Nation exposed the rampant practice of misleading and hiring illegal immigrants for slaughterhouse work, the government noticed. And busted several slaughterhouses.

Now it seems the latter group has found this convenient replacement source of abusable labor. Nothing like hiring children to butcher your meat (or win your gymnastics medals).

Please, y’all, reconsider eating the flesh of critters. Each burger includes a healthy helping of fecal matter, it’s bad for your heart, it can give you colon cancer, and the industry producing it abuses its workers, suppliers, and animals. They’re feeding dead cows to chickens, and chicken crap to cows. Why not just save a step and feed us all downer cows and SARS birds?

If you don’t get your antibiotic, hormone, fecal bacteria special burger from a slaughterhouse, and aren’t a particularly good hunter, make sure you have the government gun down animals who don’t have any measured effect on what you want to hunt.

Where’s that absentee ballot when you need it?

Excuse me, Mr. Giuliani, sir?

About your speech:

Interviewing 101 includes the aphorism that you talk about what makes you good, not what makes the other guy bad. And aren’t you arguing this election is a job interview?

Maybe bitter and spiteful is why nobody voted for you in the primaries. Just a guess, watching the convention keynote speech wherein you were particularly venomous.

I think the American people, in general, figure that the GOP has to prove that they’re not just entitled politicians who have demolished, over the past 14 years, our economy, our international standing, and our Constitution. Maybe bilious speeches make sense for a likeminded audience, but hope for the future just sells better than sniping at people who, like you, want to make this a better place to live, work, and succeed.

I know you’ve done some lovely things in your life. But yesterday you just came off as mean.

And mean is icky.

GOP, if you’re all mean and nasty, keep it up. If you’re not monolithically bilious, please change your tone. This could be a really great opportunity to talk about issues and priorities. Please commence.

Confounding politics

Just when you think you’ve got a few things figured out, the presidential race gets weird:

McCain says that “In the Twenty-First Century, nations don’t invade other nations.” Great point. Quick: someone tell the Iraqis. They might have running water and electricity again soon, and all their dead civilians (except the ones Saddam Hussein murdered) will be coming back to life any day now.

Maybe he meant nations shouldn’t invade other nations to squelch democracy. But they still really ought to consider invading to force democracy down a nation’s throat. That’s a great political platform. Someone should tell the right about it.

Deployed troops overwhelmingly support Obama, if sending cold, hard cash counts for anything. Maybe they’re sick of cramming democracy into the unwilling and incapable. Or they’re hoping we don’t have to go to war with the rest of the world in the first few months of another hawkish administration.

Interesting breakdown of electoral college math by Karl Rove at PoliPundit.com. Would love to not hear about Florida this year…

Okay. Enough politics. We now return you to your regularly scheduled mid-life parenting meltdown.