Friday, February 29, 2008

Who are we, the Hillary Democrats?

We are an alliance, of people of all ages and backgrounds, who have fought, are fighting and will fight, against racism, sexism, and any “ism” that limits opportunities for any American.

To be honest, we’re a little confused, that after our digging in and battling against those evils, someone lectures us by saying, “My God, you’re divisive. My goodness gracious, you must be from the ‘old politics’” -- of standing up for what is right, instead of making sure we’re in a group hug with these right wing demagogues. These are the same people who wanted to get rid of social security, and lied about it, claiming that Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted to do the exact same thing. And now, they’re going to surrender and join together.

We Clinton supporters believe in working with our adversaries to create positive change, wherever that’s possible. But we also believe in confronting those adversaries, when they want to slash important programs even as they run up huge deficits, sending us back to before Franklin Roosevelt to the 1920s, a time of starving children, nonexistent health care, 16 hour workdays, and abandoned senior citizens in poor houses.

We understand that changes may take a while. The first time national health care was proposed, the idea was dismissed as crazy radical politics, just like social security, eight hour workdays, child labor laws, even the idea of spending federal money on some nonsensical idea called the Internet.

All of these dreams have come true. And every time we work for complete health coverage in this country, more and more people from every background realize that we must do it. Now, thanks to efforts like Senator Clinton’s, people are gradually coming around. Businesses are begging for some system that provides insurance, but doesn’t bleed their companies dry.

Our families, all across this country, cry out for health coverage, because they want do whatever they can to take care of Grandma and Grandpa, but not at the expense of cancelling their children’s future.

And by the way, we’re proud of any wear and tear you might see on our faces. We earned those marks, fighting for a better America.

We won’t be lectured about “bringing people together,” because we’ve tried that route already. When a new President, in the wake of the most vicious attacks on America, told us our country was about to be attacked again, we could have been divisive. Say, make a speech in a state legislature somewhere.

But Senator Clinton actually chose the route that Senator Obama is advocating now. In the spirit of unity, she decided, maybe we should all join together, instead of making political points. Maybe we should reach out across the aisle in the spirit of unity. Any President, in time of crisis, should be able to depend on our support.

The fact is, we didn’t know that the Administration we were trusting had invented the crisis, that this President planned to attack Iraq before he ever took office, and that the top secret briefings we got, had been prepared by Dr. Seuss.

You can’t have it both ways. Tell us to unite, and then attack us for doing so.

A large majority of Americans supported this President when the Iraq wore began, because they too believed in reaching out in unity, and they believed that our President wouldn't go to war without good reason. Hundreds of thousands of men and women are in harm’s way right now because after a divisive election, and the murderous crimes of 9/11, we took our President seriously.

That’s unity. That’s coming together. And we’re all paying the price.

Senator Obama says the difference is, he’ll be “right from day one.” He’ll have “good ideas” instead of the previous “bad ideas.” That’s just not true. Because I checked the Constitution. It still says, to qualify to run for president, you have to be a “human being.”

That means, every president will make mistakes. But with the wisdom of experience, domestically and internationally, Senator Hillary Clinton will steer this great country to peace, prosperity, and greater opportunity for all Americans. How do we know she can do this? Because someone named Clinton accomplished the very same things in the 1990’s, and Hillary helped make it happen.

That’s who we are. We're the people who believe in results. We believe in Democratic principles. And we know that Senator Hillary Clinton will deliver those results for every American.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Barack is the BOmb!!!

Hi there, Obama fans!

So nice to see so many of you here!

Just a few messages before you go back to your chat rooms.

Just for the teens and twenty somethings, hey, we’re all really flattered that you’ve decided to pay attention to what’s going on outside your laptop. What a relief that politics are cool! Please enjoy the whole ride. If for some reason, you don’t lock up the nomination, thanks for visiting the Democratic Party!

If, as expected Barack (Oooh! He’s so dreeeeamy!) captures the nomination, don’t forget to take a moment to stop calling Hillary every #@$!%-ed up name you can think of. First off, you really have no idea who she is! Just that she’s not Barack!! And second, guess whose help you’re gonna need to win the general campaign? No, not Lily Allen…nope, Hillary supporters! How f-ed up is that! OMG!!

Also, kids, if you do win the general election (fingers crossed!), thanks for visiting the political arena. Drive home safely. Now that you’ve elected a cool President, you can go back to ignoring matters that might involve conflict, and avoiding or ignoring people who disagree with you. ‘Cause they’re sooo negative!

If you’re a Governor of a State, or a Senator or Representative, who decided to go with Obama because your daughter or son told you to, that is just so sweet I don’t know where to begin. Thanks!

Listen, while we have a moment, could you give us your child’s opinion on health care, our relationship with China, our fiscal policy, how to deal with the two Koreas, how to extricate ourselves from Iraq and do the least possible damage, and a short list of Supreme Court nominees? Thanks! And good luck on that Trig quiz! Those are tough.

And finally, if you’re one of those supercool folks who’s joined the Obama campaign, because all of us are going to come together and solve all our problems, could you tell me, when we unite together, including people who didn’t vote for Obama (right…losers!), what are we going to do together?

Since it’s not about race, and it’s not about age, and it’s not about red states and blue states, and it's not about Barack, who is it about? And when he says, “Our time has come,” whose time is it?

That’d be awesome to know. Also, just for my own information—I hate missing the big news stories—when did the Republican Party announce their surrender?

Anyway, no worries. I’m sure everything’ll be just fine from now on.

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America's Fantastic Health Care System!!

I don’t see why people complain about our health care system. In fact, I visited my doctor when I had a cold last month. Excellent doctor. Looked down my throat, wrote me a prescription. 3 minutes! And the insurance company contacted me within a few weeks. Here's their note:

Loveycare Patronize Plan


Proglotid transfarcial hemolic procedure 4,894,316.76

Ancillary services 31,558.16

Total 4,925,874.92

Provider discount 4,107,084.07

Loveycare payment 818,741.00

Amount due provider 49.95


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Personal Obama Drama

I’ve noticed that, this year more than ever, when we discuss politics, nobody is listening. Or, at least, we’re not hearing each other. I’ve argued, debated and discussed; I’ve overheard conversations in offices, the locker room and in restaurants.

In all that time, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Really? I didn’t know that?” or “Where can I find out more about that?” or, “Gee, well, I was planning to vote this way, but now I might vote that way.”

We seem to make up our minds, and we’re done thinking. We may want to convince others, but there’s very little persuasion going on.

When John Edwards left the race, I found myself supporting Hillary Clinton. The more I’ve mentioned that to people, the more they’ve tried to help me see the error of my ways, so that I might support Barack Obama.

But that’s not going to happen.

And now I know why. Not because of the policy positions or talents of these candidates. It’s for personal reasons.

So far in my life, I haven’t been married. I don’t have any children. Which means, I don’t have any daughters.

So, even though I have the reflex to, at this age in my life, say to my teen-age daughter, “Hold on here! Who is this ‘Ralph’ person you’re going out with? What do we know about his guy?”, I’ve never had the opportunity to actually give that speech.

Barack Obama’s candidacy gives me that opportunity. I let my glasses slide down the bridge of my nose, look over my newspaper and say, “Barack Obama? Already you’re going to the prom with this guy? How do you know him? What does he want from you? Do we know the chaperones? And what time will you be home?”

However, I can read tea leaves about as well as anyone. I figure Senator Obama’s going to win. And somehow, I’ll resume my normal life during his administration, rather than sitting and waiting in my rocking chair on the front porch, waiting to give someone a good talking-to.

What I learned about the Oscars from the writers strike.

Five short blocks from my home, the biggest stars in the world are staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, getting ready for Oscar night. You can tell because Doheny Drive, a nice little street that runs north-south through Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, comes to a stop-dead crawl, passing through that one block between Third Street and Burton way.

If it’s not foreign filmmakers creeping gingerly from the safety of the driveway, trying to remember to drive on the right, it’s two block long SUV limos, swinging their backsides all the way past the other direction of traffic to the left curb, hoping to angle their whales to squeeze past the parked cars on the right corner of the street, and have the tugboat cars guide them to the open sea.

So, I’ve got the Academy Awards on the brain.

In Friday’s Los Angeles Times, we learned that Gilbert Cates, the Oscar telecast’s producer, had planned a different kind of show, in case the WGA strike continued:

“At one point, it looked as if the writers strike -- and the high-profile actors who would refuse to cross picket lines -- would force Cates and his team to go with his "Plan B" for the ceremony. Instead of swanning starlets and a tuxedoed George Clooney, viewers would have seen three-plus hours of film montages of old opening monologues and award-winning foreign films, among other subjects. Now only a fraction of that work will make this year's broadcast. The rest goes into the film academy's vaults for future shows.”

That’s right. You’d be watching film montages from old telecasts of the Academy Awards.

Fortunately, the Writers Guild signed a deal, and Jon Stewart and all the movie stars will be on hand for the most important day of the year for people who like to watch other people walk on carpeting.

But, the “Plan B” idea got me thinking.

First of all, if this wonderful archive exists, why not put together the great Oscar moments into a show? Not another documentary explaining a million details about how they made produced those shows, but pieces of all the monologues that Johnny Carson, Bob Hope and other great hosts have done, interspersed with the great acceptance speeches.

How many millions of us would watch that? If anyone doesn’t want to see it, I’ll watch twice to make up for your absence.

The other thing that occurred to me was, if you really wanted a “Plan B” for this year, why not get permission from the Producers, and show, say, twenty minute clips from each of the Best Picture nominees, ten minutes from each Best Actor and Best Actress nominees, and five from each nominated Supporting Actor and Actress?

Which is when I realized—that’s the last thing “the Industry” wants. On most Oscar telecasts, which run about 41 hours, you see a total of about 15-20 minutes of actual movie footage, including those farewells to stars who’ve died over the last year.

Here’s the establishment of Hollywood-- the studios, the producers, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, joining together to honor the work they’ve chosen as the best of the year, and the last thing they want is for anyone to see it.

In fact, to keep the huge audiences they want, they’ll show us costumes and jewelry, shoes and limos, action stars and willowy starlets, anything to avoid telling us that these artistic achievements are sometimes painful to watch, and require our complete attention.

After all, the people gathered together Sunday night are the same people who produce film after film about men with a couple days beard growth, racing against somebody evil (is it Russians, Arabs, drug dealers or computer whizzes this year?) and blowing up stuff while grabbing freakishly proportioned women, who happened to forget to finish getting dressed today. Those are the movies they trust us to show up for. Not the nominees.

I suppose that’s what frustrates me most about the fact that there’ll be at least 24 hours of air time, between E! and Monday’s talk shows, and the ABC pre-game show all devoted to the red carpet, plenty of applauding and smiling, but precious little time involving the content and meaning of movies.

Let me just conclude by mentioning, for the umpteenth time… folks, don’t try to shorten the show by shortening the speeches. Shorten the show by eliminating the walking. Come back from commercial with Tom Hanks or Jessica Alba, or whoever’s presenting the next award, at the podium. We know who they are. You don’t have to announce that they’re in movies and then show us that they can walk. If that’s the issue, just set up a website featuring overdressed movie stars on treadmills. Folks will see the fashions, we’ll see that the stars can walk, but in the meantime, the Oscars will have saved hours of time.

We’d rather have the winners go ahead and give their speeches, the one chance in their lives to talk to the whole planet, telling us about the rarest of all things—how they came to be a part of a movie that will outlive all of us.

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's Hillary

When John Edwards dropped out of the 2008 Presidential race, I was left with a choice to make, and misgivings about either choice.

Like friends who’ve just found religion, my Obama friends have chatted me up, e-mailed me, phoned me and tried to help me see the light.

If I say his resumé’s thin, I’m being a racist. If I suggest he voted “present” a lot of times, and in an attempt to insulate himself from attacks, he hasn’t taken a specific position on much at all, I’m a bitter throwback to the negative politics of the past.

If I point out that he opposed the Iraq war from the relative comfort of the Illinois State Legislature, I’m a cynic.

If I suggest that he looks perfect because he hasn’t brokered deals to pass national legislation, or taken stands that could jeopardize his Senate seat, I’m ignoring how electable he is.

And in general, if I’m thinking of voting for Hillary, I’m ignoring her flaws, and apparently, even more importantly, her husband’s flaws, the flaws of the past eight years. In short, I’m forgetting about all the baggage Hillary brings to the table.

If I want Hillary, I'm simply not listening to what they're telling me.

These friends of mine are not faddists; these are people, some of whom read, research, think, participate in, and care about, the politics of this country. And the others believe they have happened upon something hopeful and exciting for our country. So I consider their input valuable.

And I’m voting for Hillary Clinton.

No President gets to deliver on every promise, but I believe that from her battles scars and trials Hillary has emerged with a valuable pragmatism. When she takes office, she’ll know which goals to tackle first, and how to twist arms and strike bargains to move programs forward.

On policy, I believe her health care approach is distilled from experience, including the formidable task of confronting a “no way, no day” attitude from Republican legislators. Her work on behalf of children goes back to before Bill’s entry into politics.

And on Iraq, I understand the complexities of making a decision while America is commemorating the first anniversary of 9/11, while examining classified intelligence documents that later turn out to be some neocon’s fantasy, and while a President is pushing for a vote before a mid-term election, instead of letting this important decision be made outside of politics.

There you are—and certainly, if you want to, you can announce that you believe the President, Vice President, Departments of State, Defense, FBI, CIA and National Security Agency are all wrong and you are right. Years later, you’d be vindicated, but for now, you’d be undermining yourself and your party. Or you can push to amend the bill, and get reassurances that this bill will help push talks for greater inspections. But in the final analysis you can take a look around, realize that you are in the minority, the bill’s going to pass with or without you, bite the bullet and decide to support your country in spite of your reservations.

I didn’t believe in the Iraq war from day one. But I was watching on television, far away from the action, like Senator Obama. It’s a little different making the call, as Senator Clinton did, when so many departments and agencies are showing you “clear evidence”, because objections have been hidden from you, and the train’s leaving the station with or without you.

By the way, Senator Obama’s rhetoric may cost him if he’s the nominee.

After repeatedly telling us that “Senator Clinton was for the war before she was against it,” he’ll be trying to secure the votes of millions of his countrymen who were also for the war before they were against it. That includes tens of millions who now regret the war but oppose abandoning the mission.

Actually, when it comes to experience, in my judgment, Ms. Clinton is barely experienced enough. Mr. Obama might very well represent the future of leadership in this country. He’s already inspiring and mobilizing millions of people. But as of today, I’m not ready to let him run the show.

I appreciate that you’ve seen the light, and I respect that.

For my friends who are new to politics, welcome. Just so you understand, I AM listening to you. I'm just disagreeing.