Politics and Government

Madonna, the Super Bowl, and American Patriotism

Madonna-super-bowl-592x356

I saw this tweet today, and it got me thinking about national pride and patriotism.

I was about to reply that I liked the halftime show, but then I stopped myself. That wasn't the part of the tweet to which I really wanted to respond.

I do hope that the rest of the world judges America by that halftime show. Think about all of the elements that were in it. A powerful, self-made woman has forged a decades-long career as an artist who has constantly pushed the boundaries of tolerance and censorship. She bared her body and danced in a way that is forbidden in many parts of the world, and even punishable by death. She shared the stage with women and men of different races and, presumably, different sexual orientations and religions. Think about how much our own country has changed. Can you imagine Madonna performing the Super Bowl halftime show thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago? I can't. She wasn't ready for it then, and it wasn't ready for her. The rest of the world watches what the United States does. Others take their cues from us, for better or for worse. For the most part, though, things are better here than elsewhere, and things are better now than they have been in the past.

It is election season and, even though we are only in the primaries, partisan politics are ugly already. Each side considers itself to be the true patriots, the true Americans, but both are wrong. Patriotism is a "devoted love, support, and defense of one's country," not one's political party. There are flaws in our system. Our country has its troubles but, if you are true patriot, you love it, you support it, and you defend it. That doesn't mean you have to accept the status quo, but you do need to acknowledge the things that are great about America. Our country was founded on the principles of individualism and equality. That is what has afforded you the right to express your opinion about a middle-aged white lady and fat black man singing on a stage halfway through an inexplicably popular sporting event. And I support that.


Tookie Williams Deserves to Die

Tookie This was originally published by Clark Schpiell Productions, November 5, 2005. Tookie Williams was executed, in accordance with his death sentence, on December 13, 2005.

Unless Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants him clemency, Stanley "Tookie" Williams will be executed on December 13, 2005 for the four brutal murders for which he was convicted in 1979. I say, let him fry. Or, more accurately, let him drift into a peaceful sleep as lethal drugs course through his veins or poisonous gas invades his respiratory system.

In 1971, Stanley "Tookie" Williams co-founded a street gang in Los Angeles that later came to be know as the Crips. He was 17 years old. Though Williams and Raymond Washington claim to have started the gang as a stand against the random violence in their neighborhood, within a year of inception, the Crips were involved in 29 homicides in Los Angeles. The Crips became one of the most prevalent and violent street gangs in Los Angeles before spreading throughout the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico.

Arguments for his clemency center around Williams' deeds during his time on death row. He has worked to try to decrease the influence of gangs, particularly with school-age children. He has even written a series of children's books subtitled, "Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence." I don't want to downplay the positive impact on society that Williams has made. I don't doubt that he has been transformed and rehabilitated, but unless his service to the greater good has included a way to revive the dead, I don't believe that there is anything that Williams could accomplish that would atone for his crimes.

Continue reading "Tookie Williams Deserves to Die" »


Conservative Things

Conservativethings This was originally published by Clark Schpiell Productions, November 24, 2003.

My mother was what some would call a bleeding heart liberal when I was growing up. And why wouldn't she have been? She was a young (very young) single mother of two trying to live and work in an expensive suburb of Southern California because that's where most of our extended family lived. Were we poor? Probably not, but we certainly brought down the annual household income for the area.

Over the years, and as our incomes have increased substantially, both my mother and I have found conservative ideas creeping into our political beliefs. I had no idea this was happening to her. I kept my status as a registered Republican a secret from my family for fear of starting a long, drawn out discussion in which my age would be the eventual determination of my ability to reason.

Continue reading "Conservative Things" »


Is Chia Obama racist?

Chiaobama I was listening to the John and Ken Show on KFI AM 640 on Monday. They were talking to Joseph Pedott, founder of the Chia Pets company and creator of Chia Obama. He was so earnest in his description of how he conceived the idea of Chia Obama. He wanted to honor the President with something respectful that represented the hope the President was bringing to the nation (a year ago, when Pedott first had the idea).

Pedott carefully chose every word and phrase in the television commercial and on the Chia Obama packaging so that each sent an uplifting, patriotic message without being political. Pedott took the product to Walgreen's, with which he had a long-standing business relationship. They were thrilled with the product and tested it in the Chicago and Tampa markets, debuting it on a Saturday. Each day the Chia Obama was on the shelves, sales increased 50% over the day before. Walgreens told Pedott they wanted to go nationwide with the product. Pedott shelled out the bucks and ordered 500,000 units. That Friday, Walgreens pulled the plug because there were some complaints about the product being racist.

"Since when is an Afro racist?" asked Pedott. He added that owners can trim Chia Obama's "hair" to any length they want. When Pedott gave one to President Obama, the President liked it. Even Jesse Jackson didn't think it was racist. Jesse Jackson, dudes.

My question is the same as Pedott's: How can an Afro be racist? Obama wore an Afro when he was younger. If he let his hair grow out now, he could have one again. (How awesome would that be?) Recently, I heard a news story about the inventor of a line of black Barbies who was criticized for making their hair too "white." The creator is black herself and said her favorite thing about playing with Barbies when she was a girl was playing with their long hair.

Right now, the only place you can buy Chia Obama in stores is at Fred Meyer in Seattle and Portland. You can also buy Chia Obama online at www.ChiaObama.com or on Amazon. Even better, you can win a Chia Obama right here.

WIN IT

To enter to win a Chia Obama, leave a comment on this post telling me if you think Chia Obama is racist or not.

To get a second entry, tweet this "RT @PeevedMichelle Can hair be racist? (Enter to win a Chia Obama!) http://bit.ly/3FMN2o" AND post a second comment letting me know you tweeted it.

Contest closes Black Friday (11/27) at Midnight Pacific. I will choose a winner randomly from those who comment.


The AIG Bonus "Scandal"

Getting mad at AIG is like getting mad at your small child for eating the entire candy bar your father-in-law gave her. Maybe you should focus your outrage on the person who gave your kid the candy bar with no instruction about how to consume it.

AIG asked for money. The government gave AIG money. AIG is spending the money. That's pretty much all there is to the story. If you're pissed about how AIG is spending the money, you should be pissed at the government for not putting any restrictions on AIG when the government handed over the money.


Vote

Votebutton A coworker lives in the same city I do, so I asked him which city council candidates he was voting for, since I know one of them. He said that he was exercising his right not to vote. He didn't want to register to vote because he didn't want to get called for jury duty.

First of all, you don't have the right not to vote. You have the right to vote and the freedom to choose not to. I feel like everyone who is eligible to vote should at least be registered to vote to honor the people who fought to secure that right for us. You do have freedom and free will and you don't have to vote if you don't want to, but to cite jury duty as the reason for not voting is just so ridiculous* that I can't believe this person, who I otherwise respect, even said such a thing.

Voting and serving on a jury are the two simplest ways that the average American can serve his or her country and to opt out of both for your own convenience is simply unpatriotic.

 

*In California, they also use DMV records for the jury pool, so not voting just to get out of jury duty won't work. Plus, our company pays for up to 13 days of jury service.


Prop 8 is Religious Persecution

Prop8bt3 California Proposition 8 would add language to the state's constitution that revokes the right of same-sex couples to marry and does not recognize same-sex marriages as legal unions. I am voting no on Prop 8.

This morning, I was talking about this to my husband and it seemed so clear to me that Prop 8 isn't about homosexuality or even equality, it is about religious persecution. I am not saying that homosexuality is part of anyone's religious beliefs, but the idea that homosexuality is wrong is part of the belief system of the main religion in the United States: Christianity. Proposition 8, by banning same-sex marriage, is forcing this religious belief onto anyone who does not share it. There is no other reason for this proposition.

Like I said on Twitter this week, if you are against gay marriage, don't marry a gay.


Presidential Election 2008: Is it over yet?

A couple weeks ago, I said:

I place almost as much importance on how a political campaign is run as I do on the substance of the candidate's platform. I admire a clever campaign strategy and I find a campaign misstep to be unforgivable.

Since then, I have realized that is not true. I place MORE importance on campaign strategy than I do on the candidate's platform. I want the President and the Vice-President of the United States to be articulate, charismatic geniuses. I want each to have integrity, impeccable judgment and a flawless history of kind behavior toward others. With all of those qualities, I almost don't care what the candidate's platform is because I trust that sort of person to make the right decision in any given situation. The more life experience the candidate has, the better, because the candidate has been exposed to a larger variety of situations, which helps to inform future decisions.

Campaign missteps and a failure to recover in a strong manner from attacks by the other side is a sign that the candidate is lacking some of the qualities I desire, usually genius and impeccable judgment. Not one of the four candidates in this race meets all of my criteria.

Obama is a charismatic orator, but he is not articulate when his words are unscripted. His comments about how certain segments of the population cling to religion and guns allude to an unkind, intolerant streak within him. His condescension toward Hillary Clinton throughout their race, his renouncement of his church when it was politically expedient, and his comments about his white grandmother showed a lack of integrity. While I feel that he likely does not have a flawless history of kindness, I do believe that he is fundamentally a good person and I believe he has a genius-level intellect.

Biden is less well-known to me. However, the limited exposure I have had leads me to believe that he is smart, but not a genius, and that he often exhibits poor judgment. I have heard clips on the radio from an interview wherein he lied about his educational background and, when confronted, corrected himself not with the truth but with another lie, which shows a lack of integrity. Though I can't cite a specific act, I think that Biden's aggressive manner sometimes precludes kindness toward others.

McCain clearly has integrity but does not always have impeccable judgment. He has displayed a genius-level intellect but he is not charismatic. I feel that McCain is more articulate than Obama because McCain's unscripted dialogue is much closer to the level of his scripted dialogue than Obama's. As with Obama, I don't know enough about McCain's past to attest to a flawless history of kindness toward others, but I have seen no evidence that would contradict that and I believe that he is inherently a good person.

Palin is not an intellectual genius nor is she articulate, but she is charismatic. Whether or not she has done anything illegal in the cases of the firing of certain state employees, I believe that her actions showed a lack of integrity and a lack of judgment. As with Biden, I think that her aggressive manner sometimes precludes kindness toward others so I wouldn't be surprised to hear of unkind past acts.

I want a candidate who is smarter than I am, has more life experience than I do, and is a better person than I am. Based on all of that, McCain is the best choice of candidate for me. Though I don't agree with McCain on all of the issues, I trust him to make a decision that he believes is right and good for the people. In that, I think I weight integrity a little more heavily than impeccable judgment. A person can have very shrewd judgment, but with a lack of integrity, the resulting decision isn't necessarily good for anyone else but that person.

The choice of running mate for the Presidential candidates is irrelevant to me. I can't decide who I want for President based on who will be Vice President. It is unlikely that the Vice President will need to serve as President. Though I do think that Biden is more qualified to step in than Palin, I don't think that Obama is more qualified than McCain to have the job in the first place.

At least that's how I feel right now. In a different race, with a candidate who had the same ideas as me about issues, maybe I would feel differently and use different criteria to make my decision.


Political Campaign Strategy

I noticed today, while listening to talk radio on the way to work, that I place almost as much importance on how a political campaign is run as I do on the substance of the candidate's platform. I admire a clever campaign strategy and I find a campaign misstep to be unforgivable. I think the reason that I place so much importance on strategy is that I want a candidate to be smarter than I am, and I am pretty damn smart. If a candidate makes an amateurish mistake, particularly one that I think I would not have made, I can't get past it. It seems indicative of the types of mistakes the candidate will make in office. Even if I agree fully with a candidate's platform, if the candidate can't support it with an analytical mind and complex strategic planning, I don't have faith that the candidate will be successful in office.


Obama, McCain and I on Abortion

In the Saddleback Civil Forum this week, Pastor Rick Warren asked this question of presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain:

At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?

John McCain's Answer:

At the moment of conception.

Barack Obama's Answer:

Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. But let me just speak more generally about the issue of abortion because this is something obviously the country wrestles with. One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is there is a moral and ethical content to this issue. So I think that anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue I think is not paying attention. So that would be point number one. But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade and come to that conclusion not because I'm pro abortion, but because ultimately I don't think women make these decisions casually. They wrestle with these things in profound ways. In consultation with their pastors or spouses or their doctors and their family members. And so for me, the goal right now should be -- and this is where I think we can find common ground and by the way I have now inserted this into the democrat party platform is how do we reduce the number of abortions because the fact is that although we've had a president who is opposed to abortions over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down.

My Answer:

When the fetus is viable outside the womb with a greater than 50% chance of survival.

My Opinion:

I don't agree with McCain's answer and Obama never answered the question asked. I think it was a fair question (with the exception of the use of the word "baby") and Obama evaded it with a political run-around.


2008 Presidential Election

I am voting for John McCain and it isn't because I am registered as a Republican. I don't have any party loyalty. I would register as an independent but I like to vote in the Republican primaries.

If Hillary Clinton had won the Democrat nomination, I likely would have voted for her for president, first, because she is a woman, second, because she is sort of moderate, so voting for her wouldn't have caused me too much cognitive dissonance. It would have been nice to finally have the first female president and there isn't anything about John McCain that would entice me to vote for him over her. Too bad she didn't win.

I didn't know much about Obama when the campaigning started, primarily because I don't give a crap what Oprah thinks about politics or social issues, so I never watched the episodes with Obama as a guest. The more I learned about him throughout his fight with Hillary for the nomination, the more I disliked him. I think he is condescending and judgmental but, so am I, so that wouldn't have necessarily ruled him out.

What ruled out Obama for me is that he thinks I am rich and that I can and should foot the bill for every poor person living in this country, including the ones who are here illegally. He is basically a socialist and his naivete when it comes to both foreign and domestic policy is alarming. I fear for our country's economy and foreign relations during his term. In January, I called the primaries for Obama and McCain. In May, I called the general election for Obama. We'll see if I am right on that one.

As John and Ken on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles have said, this is Obama's race to win or lose. John McCain is the default option for anyone who doesn't want to vote for Obama.


Which candidate are you planning to vote for and why? If you are still undecided, what are you looking for to help you make a decision?


Federal Income Tax

I think federal taxes would be so much more palatable if everyone paid the same percentage of their personal income with no deductions allowed and no tax breaks for anything. I would gladly fork over 10% or 20% of my salary if I didn't have to deal with receipts and mortgage interest statements and deductible expenses.