Saturday, March 22, 2008

See? Linus was right. There really is an Easter Beagle.

I've been giving lot's of thought to the Blog Against Theocracy stuff and was trying to work out a clever way to work Margaret Atwood's seminal work on the issue; The Handmaid's Tale into a post, when it occured to me I should just let Ms. Atwood speak for herself. Here's an interview she did with PBS in three parts.

(For the record on the theocracy issue: I'm against it.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hail to the King, baby.


The doors opened at 7:30 a.m. with seating first come/ first serve in a venue that holds between 12-13k people. The last political rally I'd been to in this city - Kerry in 04 - had about 20,000 people in attendance, so I was a little nervous about getting into the event because this city is pretty enthusiastic for Democrats.

We got there about 6:30 a.m. and were probably about half-way in the line when all was said and done.

(Sorry this pic is blurry, it was dawn.)

(This line snaked clear around the Rose Garden for about four blocks.)

(This guy was shouting at everybody even though most of us probably agreed with him.)

I was pretty happy that there seemed to be good security with everybody who entered the Coliseum having to do so through metal detectors. I also saw bomb sniffing dogs check the floor before the event.

Once we got inside we found pretty good seats above and behind the stage. It had taken so long to get inside that we didn't have to wait too long for the event to start.

(There is nobody on the stage so don't bother squinting.)

Congressman Earl Blumenauer gave a pretty good introductory speech that started to get the crowd going and then, after a short wait, they dimmed the house lights and showed the "Yes We Can" video on the jumbitron. As you might imagine; the crowd started chanting along with the video which was pretty cool.

Then the secret service guys came out and Obama and surprise guest Bill Richardson quickly jumped up on the stage. As the announcer asked us to welcome Richardson the crowd went absolutely nuts. I assume it's because he just came out for Obama today.

(That empty section of seats in front of them is the press section.)

(Richardson and Obama seemed to genuinely like each other. They hugged at least twice.)

Richardson gave a great, somewhat low-key speech which was basically a description of why he decided to endorse Obama. My favorite part was a little anecdotal story he told at the end of the speech where Obama had a chance to throw Richardson under a bus during one of the Democratic debates when Richardson hadn't heard a question, but instead helped him out.

Then the Man himself started talking and it was tough to hear the first part because the crowd was so loud and excited and responsive.

I'm not going to go through all the details of Obama's speech except to say this: I was wrong about Obama. My biggest concerns about him before this election sound very much like the criticisms thrown at him by the Clinton campaign; that he's a lightweight and he's too much of a moderate/ conservative for my tastes.

The guy gave a boilerplate, fire and brimstone democratic speech. He promised to end the war, support labor, support science, find a health care solution, close Guantanamo and help the poor. There was absolutely nothing in his speech that could have been confused with the words and promises of George W Bush, John McCain or Ronald Reagan. The closest he came to mentioning Hillary Clinton was an allusion to the 3 a.m. phone call commercial and how he would respond. I'm convinced he's a democrat, but more importantly he's a progressive.

I left the coliseum convinced that he's the right person for the job and this point in history. My daughter wants to volunteer for the campaign. I think I just may join her.

It's so beneficial for me to be away from those children in junior high and to be with people of my own mature growth.

While our oldest daughter was still breakdancing In Utero, Mrs. Wormer and I took a trip to Washington D.C. for the inauguration of one William Jefferson Clinton.

At the age of fourteen this year is the first year she's really gotten interested in politics. As is fitting for the you-tube generation, she was immediately drawn to the campaign of Barack Obama. The "Yes We Can" video was the sale but, to be fair she is concerned about a number of issues including the environment and the war.

Earlier this week my daughter, Mrs. Wormer and I watched the "More Perfect Union" speech together and when it was finished my daughter asked me if we could go see Obama speak live when he was in town. I said told her it would be no problem and that dad would "make it happen." The next day they announced he would be here today. Grrrr. I had to call in a bunch of favors at work but I was able to make that happen.

So today my daughter and I (Mrs. Wormer couldn't get out of work) got up at 5:00 a.m. and went down to the Memorial Coliseum to stand in line for 3 hours and see the man we hope will be the next president of the United States speak. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. I 'm a pretty proud dad.

I took a bunch of pictures and will do a mini-report when I get home from work tonight, but suffice it to say that for me today was a pretty damn good day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is he always this funny, or only on days when he's wanted for murder?

One could read President Bush's remarks defending the Iraq war yesterday or one could watch the following video to get the same effect.

(I'd take the video if I were you.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's "FUBAR?"

Today is the 5 year-anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by U.S. led coalition forces. This occasion is being marked by hundreds of bloggers across the net as they show their solidarity in a commitment that the United States should withdraw from Iraq. If you have some time today I'd encourage you to check the Iraq War Blogswarm blogroll linked above and read some of the other very moving and sometimes very personal stories about the war.

For those of us who were against this war since well before it began this has been a pretty frustrating five years. We marched, we wrote letters and we voted. None of that seemed to help. In fact: it seems like things have just gotten worse.

If you're like me the last five years have made you feel a bit powerless. But we don't have to feel that way. Here's a couple of modest suggestions to things we can do today to make things a little bit better all by our lonesome.

The first is to visit and consider participating in the Any Soldier program. Effectively it's a care package deal but more. Men and women serving in Afghanistan or Iraq post lists of items they're running short on - everything from socks to DVDs to alleviate the periods of boredom - and civilians stateside fulfil those wishes. Maybe we can't bring these guys home today but we can at least make their lives a little bit better.

My second suggestion is something a little more personal and something I feel strongly about, but hesitate to bring up. When matched against the gravity of the thousands of lives lost in the war in Iraq it just doesn't seem that important. Still...

Five years ago we lost a lot of stuff when President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. We lost lives, treasure and our sense of national identity as a nation founded on universal principles of human rights. We lost much of the goodwill America had built up at the end of the twentieth century in fighting for these principles. We lost our moral stature as a nation.

We also lost our flag. I'm not sure how this happened or how it was even possible, but the people that supported this war were able to turn our flag into a bumper sticker. They were able to re-brand the flag belonging to all of us as a symbol supporting George W. Bush and his ridiculous decision to start a war in Iraq. They took it from us.

I want it back. So today I'm getting out my own flag out of mothballs, which I haven't flown since 2002, and hanging it in front of my house. I'm also embedding the flag on my page and am encouraging anyone who feels the same way and hasn't done so already to do the same thing.

Our flag was never theirs to take and it's been in their hands much longer than they deserved. Let's take the damn thing back.

When two hunters go after the same prey, they usually end up shooting each other in the back. And we don't want to shoot each other in the back.

I haven't commented much lately on the Presidential race. It used to be pretty much all I wrote about here.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I'm just as sick of the whole thing as the rest of you are. I've spent almost my entire life as a political junkie and I still can't wait for this to end.

Then there's my firm conviction that the whole thing will sort itself out on it's own. That conviction is waning the longer this drags out, btw.

That being said; I'd like to make two quick observations.

Obama's speech today on the Wright flap and race was Lincolnesque. I do not use that description lightly. Here's a snippet- Here's the whole damn speech--

Text of the whole thing can be found at the NYT website.

The other is a short, semantic observation. If you check the dictionary the antonym of the word "hope" is not "pragmatism."

Some people seem to have lost sight of that simple reality.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Little girls shouldn't look for four leaf clovers.

Democratic congressman just never seem to get it. Various elected democrats includingPatrick Leahy and Dianne Feinstein have criticized John McCain for his campaign stop in Iraq this week.

Anytime McCain wants to highlight Iraq he's welcome to. Not only does it confirm his horrible judgement in supporting the war but it demonstrates he clearly doesn't meet the magical "Commander In Chief Threshold" that we've recently heard so much about. A Republican that thinks standing on George W. Bush's stellar record in Iraq is a positive is clearly living in la-la land.

A McCain visit to Iraq with toady Joe Lieberman in tow is a net plus to the Democratic candidate. We shouldn't be bitching about it. We should be encouraging more of the same.