Monday, September 29, 2008

Up to my Eyeballs in $hi*

Hopefully one day I will back on this morning, laugh and remember it as "One of Those Things that Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time."

WARNING: The following post is a bit gross, but has a humorous ending.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Dude developed a serious diaper rash on Friday. I discovered it in the evening as I was getting him ready for bed. I did not look at it that closely as Jen and Sparky were visiting. In fact, I was a bit embarrassed because before I had a baby I thought that only people who were "dirty" had babies with diaper rash. I now know this to be very, VERY wrong.

Saturday morning the rash was still there and I noticed how loose the Dude's stool was. Thankfully he was going to my wonderful MIL's house for the day. If anyone could figure out the problem it my MIL. On Sunday, the rash appeared to be drying out but the not the non-stop pooping. In fact the loose stool was most definitely diarrhea by this point. The German and I agreed to see what happened in the morning before calling the doctor. We don't want to seem like hysterical parents who run to the doctor for every little thing (even if on the inside that is what we are like).

This morning, the Dude was very friendly while getting his breakfast bottle. In order to get some air on his poor little bottom, I decided to let him go commando while feeding him in his room. I just wrapped him in a towel. After eating he wanted down on the floor, so I let him crawl around while picking out his clothes for the day. POOP!

There was a distinctive sound, so I lifted the towel. He had managed a harder poop, with a runny chaser. He seemed happy with it. I left him on his bedroom floor for a minute so that I could go rinse out the towel in the bathroom. By the time I got back . . .

Oh - my - God. I had no idea that all of that could come out of a tiny baby. The diarrhea had come out the back and the Dude was crawling all over it. I first picked him up and cleaned him up a bit and then attempted to rescue my floor. I am very happy that we went for the cheap carpet in his room, as I have not seen a mess like that since I tried to feed my dog waffles when I was 7. I needed 4 towels and it is still not completely clean.

Needless to say, I took him to the doctor. My Ped is very friendly and I got an appointment for 8:30am. She gave a few scrips for some stuff to stuff him up (so to speak). When I made a joke about my carpet, she smiled.

Doctor: Yes, going diaper-less is good in theory, but done best when in a room with tiles.

Claire: [rather dryly] Yeah, I think I have learned that lesson now.

Although he is eating well and sleeping okay, I am still worried. Every time I go to change his diaper, he gives me this look like, "Really? Do you have to?" I cancelled my English lesson for this afternoon. Not only do I want to keep an eye on the Dude, but I smell a little weird.

Now, time to go read the directions on the carpet cleaner.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Healthy People Suck

J and Jen were there. Mausi sipped her tea and Adam cracked jokes. When I arrived in the train station some were already there. As time passed, the usual suspects began to show up. First the Heidelbergerin and then PapaScott. A Headbanger was there as well Snook. Things really started jamming once the stroller brigade brought up the rear.

The WEB Meet-up (Whiny Expat Blogger) was a lot of fun. In a very un-Bremen like turn of events, we were blessed with beautiful weather on Saturday. I gave an abbreviated tour of my fair city and the reservations for dinner actually worked out.

What always surprises me when I meet a new blogger is how completely normal everyone is. The German skeptical the first time he met another blogger but then pleasantly surprised. You see, for us Expats, blogging is not only a life line to our friends and family so far away, but it is also a connection to community in this sometimes odd country that we live in. For many, including myself, these meet-ups are an opportunity to forget about sticking out or fitting in and a time to just to be yourself.

Almost everyone, though, exceeded my expectations. I knew that Snook would be lovely, but she was so cute and nice, I wanted to bring her home. Diane and her husband are possibly one of the best looking couples I have ever seen. Dude, even their dog was adorable! The Headbanger, he was very impressive. He had this wonderful dry wit and a booming voice that should totally be doing commercials. And the mommies (here, here, and here)!! The Dude developed some serious diaper rash on Friday and they were so friendly and helpful. What impressed me even more was how their husbands took charge of the kids so that the moms could bond. Good husbands/fathers do that.

Sadly, I did not get to say goodbye at this morning's brunch. The Bremen marathon was held this morning. Because Bremen is oh so organized, there was almost no way for the German and I to get into town. (Who runs marathons anyway?? Damn over achievers.) By the time we accepted our fate and were going to do "Park and Ride," we noticed that we would be an hour late. By that time, we would have had to turn around and go home because if the Dude does not get his nap, then there is hell to pay later. Not only could I not say goodbye, but I did not have the opportunity to show off the Dude. Trust me, he's worth seeing.

I had such fun organizing and meeting everyone, it all almost feels anti-climatic now. Time to go back to our normal programming. However, there is the hope of next year and perhaps some mini meet-ups to come. Until then there are memories of a most moist weekend. (Wink, Wink, Adam.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Politics of Fear

One of the best things about working outside the home is the 45 minute drive. It is 45 minutes that I have all to myself. I dream up the plot for my novel or listen to an 80's CD and sing loudly. I really enjoy this time. The past few days I have been listening to talk radio (i.e. NDR Info, which is a bit like NPR). They have had some excellent reports about the financial crisis.

After a very interesting bit about Bush's national address, the German and I sat down and watched a little CNN. The U.S. Under Treasury Secretary (I think that was his title; where do they get these people??) argued that Bush did a good job of explaining to and convincing the American public about his $700 Billion bailout plan. I went back for a listen, and I heard something very different.

Fear mongering. In a dark tone, the president forecasted gloom and doom for the average American citizen. Furthermore, if congress does not pass his bill, things will get even worse. Give me the power, or else. Gee, George, 8 weeks ago the economy was sound. But I have the distinct feeling that I have heard this all before . . .

After Sept. 11, the American public was scared, and over the next year that did not get any better. Fox News posted "Terror Alert" watches in the corner of their screen. I even had a friend who put up plastic on her windows because she was convinced that there would be an anthrax attack. Amidst this fear, the Bush administration gathered all of its executive authority. It pushed through things like the Patriot Act. All in the name of calming your fears. And if you did not support them, then you were unpatriotic. Shame on you disbelievers, they said.

It turns out though, that the Bush Administration has not really made the world a safer place. Despite confirmation that WMDs never existed in Iraq and that before the war Al-quida was not even there, they still insist that the war was the right thing to do. Now when Congress, or any one else for that matter, tries to investigate, the Bush Administration protects itself with its "Executive Privilege."

Today, they are trying to do the same thing. By comparing the finance crisis to Sept. 11, the Bush Administration is once again trying to collect unprecedented power in the executive branch. But this time, they may not get away with it. This time it is not the pesky unpatriotic Democrats who are protesting, but the President's own party. Talks broke down this morning and it seems they finally realize that Bush does not have the ol' Republican ideal of fiscal responsibility at heart. Guess that $300 tax rebate for all Americans a few months ago was not such a good idea, huh?

McCain is playing on those same fears in order to get out of a debate. I do not understand this. If there is a vote, then certainly both candidates should be there. But, what can they add to this mess? Not much. Friday's debate is about foreign policy, something he is good idea. One would think that he would welcome the idea to talk about something else.

Me, I got my ballot yesterday. I am going to sit down, think clearly and vote. I am sure you can figure out how it will end. On the other hand, I do get a bit warm and fuzzy when I read Nader's name.

This weekend is all about the fun. The Whiny Expat Bloggers are in town, and I really hope that Bremen puts on its best face for them.

Bis dann!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Crawling


crawling
Originally uploaded by govt23

See. He is moving right along!

7 Months

My dearest Christopher,

It is hard to believe but yesterday you turned 7. 7 months that is. You just keep getting bigger and bigger and there is not much that I can do about it. You weigh in at 29 inches and almost 20 pounds. You have gotten so big that we finally packed away your bassinet and had to change your stroller from the shell/lying on your back thing (I am sure it has a name; I have no idea what) to your buggy seat. Now you can watch the world go by when we take our walks.




In the past few months you have learned many things. A few weeks ago, you started army crawling. The faster you get, the more afraid I am. Yesterday you got up on your hands and knees. It was exciting for a nanosecond as you immediately fell over. This morning you were happy as a clam in your play pen as I washed the breakfast dishes. I looked over my shoulder to check on you only to find you rocking back and forth on your hands and knees. As soon as you noticed that I was staring at you, you slid back to your tummy and grinned as if to say, "What? I'm not doin' nothin'!"

Your first tooth has been a bit of a bump in the road for your usual sunny personality. I have no idea where you get your positive attitude. Must be from your dad's side of the family.

Besides your physical development, there is also an emotional development taking place. Dude, I think we finally bonded. Two weeks ago you actually started to cry when I left for work. I think my heart broke just a little. You love to show your affection by rubbing your head up against me. Although very cute, I have no idea where you learned that as we do not have a dog.

I am sure there are lots more adventures in store and I cannot wait. Please be patient with me as I am pretty much making this motherhood thing up as I go along. Somehow though, we seem to be doing alright.

Much love,
Your Mom



Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Ghost of Elections Past

The other night I had a rather disturbing dream. In my dream I was lying in bed reading a magazine, when a voice came from the other side of the room. I could not understand what it was saying. Afraid to move, I called out, "What do you want?!" The voice whispered again, "It's the economy, stupid." I turned to the voice and there, sitting in the corner of my bedroom, was James Carville, in a rocking chair, laughing.

"James, what do you mean?!? Is all this asinine talk about bulldogs and lipstick over?"

"Almost," he said while smiling and fading in the distance.

When I woke up, Wall Street had gone to hell. You thought you had had a rough week. Let me see if I can get everything right.

1. The Government took over Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae.
2. Lehmann Brothers went bankrupt.
3. Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch.
4. The Government bailed out AIG.
5. Wachovia is in talks to buy Morgan Stanley.

For better or worse, these events are now shaping the Election of 2008. In my opinion, neither side is really handling it very well.

First, I think Obama is being a bit too smug. We know that the failed Repub policies are partly to blame for this, but finger pointing and the blame game is not going to win the election. Present us with a plan. If you really want to elevate yourself above politics as usual, then now is the time to do it.

Second . . . oh John, I think all of this is worse for you. After over 20 years of supporting deregulation, you are now witnessing the fruits of your labor. What struck me the most this week, was how McCain lambasted "greedy Wall Street types." Dude, when you give a kid the key to the candy store, he is going to gorge himself. In the free market, people go for the fast dollar and tend to think short term instead of long term. In what way are their actions surprising? It turns out that the free market does not always allocate goods efficiently, which is why regulations and oversight are important.

But then the shear gaul of the man . . . after supporting deregulation I am supposed to believe that he has suddenly seen the light? This is the same person and party who wanted to privatize social security and deregulate the insurance industry. Yeah, that would work out oh so well.

More and more, the German and I are convinced that the next president of the U.S., whom ever that may be, is screwed. Like Jimmy Carter screwed. There is no easy way out of this mess. With the economy struggling and people needing their government to help them, the country is also stuck in a protracted "war." The government is trillions (TRILLIONS!) of dollars in debt. That debt jumped this week after the bailouts.

Sadly this all could have been avoided. Take away the war in Iraq and go back 8 years and add regulations, and things may have turned out differently. But what is it they say about hind sight . . .

The sad thing is that we are all a bit to blame for the situation. There is a deep rooted credit culture in the U.S. "Buy now, pay later." It sounds great until the later comes and you have no money. I know. I was in the same boat. When I met the German I had $40,000 in college loans, $5000 in credit card debt, and about $5000 left to pay off my car. I was a 24-year-old grad student and $50,000 in debt. For me it seemed natural. Everyone I knew was in the same boat as me. But that ship was sinking.

Flashback to Christmas 2005. My dad and mom-squared had just built a really nice new house. We walked through their new neighborhood and marvelled at the building boom. As we then drove from Detroit to South Carolina, we saw more and more of the same. During our drive, a conversation went something like this:

Claire: Boy, I wonder if these people have fixed rate or variable mortgages.

German: I have read that most are variable mortgages. Almost anyone can buy a house in the U.S. Do you think we should?

Claire: I don't know. Interest rates are going up. Did you notice the balance on my student loans? It's going up!

German: Yeah, but your wages are not going up. And things seem to have gotten more expensive here.

Claire: Yeah, right! Dude, what happened to the price of milk??

[A Long Pause]

Claire: Are these people going to be able to pay their mortgages in a few years?

German: [long sigh] Probably not . . . You know what we should invest in? Gold. It is always a wise investment in hard economic times.

We are still kicking ourselves for not investing in gold. In case you think this is only a crisis that impacts Americans, several banks in Germany are on shaky footing. A few weeks ago Dresdner Bank was bought out. Turns out that they had also invested in shaky American mortgages. The German government has given over 300 Million Euro to Lehmann Brothers and the European Central Bank has given money to the FDIC.

The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, commented this week that it was disturbing how rich a few people got off the hard work of others. Where are those rich investment bankers now? Why aren't they helping out with the bailout and my German tax dollars are?

As I watch all of this spin seemingly out of control, I must admit that I am a bit happy that I live in Germany. I am also left wondering, where is it all going to end?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You're Excused

The Dude is a pretty laid back kind of guy. Sure he gets fussy when he is sleepy, but if you lay him down, then he usually rolls over and goes to sleep. And if you are too late with his food, he will throw a fit (that he gets from me BTW). Normally I can put him on the floor with a few toys for about 20 minutes at a time and I sit next to him and read or clean or surf the net or go to the bathroom.

The past two weeks though he has been . . . different. He fusses a bit more and will not calm down until I pick him up. I have toted him around the house a lot more the past few days. Feeding him lunch has been a bit of a struggle. And the dirty diapers . . . oh my God! Yesterday it went up his back and through is clothes, which has not happened in a very long time. Luckily I was on my way out the door for work. I gave the German a big smile and a kiss. "Have fun, sweetie!"

Then this morning as we were answering our emails (i.e. him in my lap and me typing with one hand) he bit down on my hand. There it was. A tooth. Okay so it is still under the skin a bit but it is definitely breaking through. And you know what . . . that sucker is sharp! No wonder babies fuss.

So my dear, you have an excuse on the fussiness this week. Just don't let it happen again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Want . . .

Although I am very excited that I will be back in the States in exactly 3 months, I am a bit nervous. I cannot imagine that flying with a 10 month old is going to be much fun. The worst part is the connections and layovers. From our house in Wildeshausen to my mom's in Summerville, it is going to take about 24 hours.

And then I saw this. Dude, where can I get one of those!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Adding to the Evidence that I might be a Bad Mom

The Dude has been giving me grief for about a week. Around 11:30 I usually give him his lunch and then put him down for a nap. For the past week, he usually screams his head off for about 15 minutes before he lets me feed him. The crying could be a result of tiredness so I am moving lunch and nap time up a bit.

In the mean time, I sing songs to keep him quite. Anything. Anything at all that pops into my head. For awhile KC and the Sunshine Band did the trick. Last week I was desperate to change the sound track and the first thing to pop into my head was Salt-n-Pepa. Lordy, the Dude loves "Push It." At first I thought it was just the song, but when I showed him the video on YouTube he giggled and started beating the desk.

Does this make me a bad parent? Am I promoting an unrealistic view of relationships? It sort of feels like that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel sing "Baby Got Back" to their baby. All I know is that it keeps him quite long enough for me to shove his lunch into his face.

Interesting note, the Dude did not care for "Shoop." Hit it.

I'm Tired

I'm tired of Dems fighting other Dems.

I'm tired of listening to Repubs believe their own lies.

I'm tired of no one listening when I predict things (i.e. the Repubs using the Dem rift to win an election, taxes going up, a housing market about to blow up).

I'm tired of Obama continuously sliding down the slippery moral slope because he feels that he has to.

I'm tired of the "dammed if you do, dammed if you don't" mentality of so many.

I'm sooo tired of all the bad news and negativity.

I was reading to the Dude last night. He has some of my childhood favorites on his bookshelf. Last night we had "One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish." When was the last time you read this book? It is so fabulous! The German calls it the "drug book," because most of it makes absolutely no sense. But the rhymes and vibrant pictures really appeal to the Dude. But on the inside was something that we grown-ups often forget.
From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things
are everywhere.
These things are fun
and fun is good.


I don't want to be tired anymore. There are so many things to be happy about. Notre Dame beat Michigan over the weekend. Grey's Anatomy returns in just a few weeks. I am going to visit my family in just a few months. And of course, Britney Spears finally got some good hair extensions. Yes, things are starting to look up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Know How it Is

Have you ever had one of those days when you woke up and you just knew? You knew that it was not going to be your day. You just knew that . . . ugh.

Ugh.

Ugh about my husband's snoring and the stomach cramps that kept me awake last night.

Ugh about my normally calm, well-natured son being a complete a$* hole this morning and screaming instead of eating.

Ugh about not doing the laundry over the weekend and now not having anything to wear to work.

Just ugh.

Then I read this , and I thought about how some other people are going to have an even ugh-ier day than I.

Then I watched this, and thought damn this guy could be president.



Then I watched Tina Fey, and it made me smile and the ugh go away.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sexual Politics

I was not going to blog about politics this week. Really, I was not. However, everytime I think I am out, they keep sucking me back in. Also, I have been contemplating more and more about sexism in politics.

What is "sexism?" How is it manifesting itself in this election? As this thought floated around my head, I came across this:

The McCain campaign quickly posted a mischievous video charging that the "lipstick on a pig" quote by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was a sexist reference to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. The spot is not a paid ad but a Web video, which campaigns produce cheaply and then encourage their supporters to distribute. The campaigns also hope the videos will get free airing in TV news coverage. Such videos are also a way to float arguments that might not pass the greater scrutiny that comes with a statement out of a candidate's mouth, or an ad airing on broadcast television. "READY TO LEAD? NO," says the lettering at the close of the ad. "READY TO SMEAR? YES." The McCain uses the quote and, in lettering, says "BARACK OBAMA ON: SARAH PALIN."


A top Obama aide e-mailed Politico to say it was "crazy" to insinuate that Obama was talking about Palin. "That expression is older than your grandfather and has nothing to do with her," the aide said. And the Obama campaign pointed out that McCain had used the same expression himself in October, drawing laughter when he cracked about the health care proposal by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Ill.): "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig."


So what did Obama really say:

On Tuesday, Obama mocked his rival John McCain's calls for change after more than 25 years as a US senator and eight years with a fellow Republican in the White House. "We've been talking about change when we were up in the polls and when we were down in the polls. The other side, suddenly, they're saying 'we're for change too.' Now think about it, these are the same folks that have been in charge for the last eight years. You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough."


So was he talking about Palin or was he talking about their sudden embrace of change? (Please note that I am still not sure what the Repubs are going to change.) If Obama's comment was taken out of context, then are the Repubs playing the gender card themselves? Do they think they can win by making the Dems out to be sexist? If Obama played the race card, wouldn't the Repubs rake him over the coals for it?

Apparently saying anything remotely directed at Gov. Palin which involves make-up, family or anything "feminine" is sexist. We had best all watch our language.

So what is sexism? Wikipedia says:

Sexism is a belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to or less valuable than the other.

For me sexism, is implying that someone cannot be VP because that person is a woman with small children. If it is okay for a man to be VP and have small children, then why can't it be a woman? Implying that someone's child is not their own is not sexist, it's just dumb. But then the McCain campaign put out a new ad. It is hideous. Yes, hideous. It depicts a pack of wolves and then a booming voice says that they are "going to get her." The ad wants you to believe that any lies circulating about the Governor of Alaska come from the Obama campaign. Whoa.

Why is this ad out there? Ad Hawk at Newsweek had something interesting to say:

It's clear what Team McCain is trying to achieve here. They want to portray Palin as the poor little victim of a looming Obama-media industrial complex that's "out to get her" just because she's a woman. They want to insulate their veep pick from any real opposition by equating valid journalistic inquiries and good hard politicking with the sort of anonymous smears that have spread online. They want to gin up sympathy for her among female swing voters who have faced improbable odds in their own lives. And they want Chris Matthews and Co. to deliver their message free of charge tonight on TV. They'll probably succeed on all counts. But that doesn't mean that "truth" has anything to do with it.


Whoa. For me, that is sexism.

BONUS: Can you spot the movie quote?

Changes

Anyone who has read this blog . . . well, ever . . . knows who I am going to vote for in November. However, I am a firm believer that if you are going to talk the talk, then you should walk the walk.

I try to encourage everyone to vote, no matter who they vote for. Thus, in the spirit of promoting democracy, I updated my links to the right of this page. There is a list of different websites that will help you get to know the candidates as well as facilitate voter registration and absentee ballots.

And before you say anything . . . they are listed alphabetically!

PS I am becoming a pro at this. I created the links while bouncing the Dude on my lap.

Monday, September 08, 2008

It'll Hurt You More

Some of the best news I got all week was hearing that my good blogger buddie, Jen, is expecting a wee one. After trying and a sad miscarriage, I have my fingers crossed that everything will work out for her. I am a bit worried as Jen has a tendency to freak out, for instance about childproofing. I remember this thinking, "Wow. She is on the ball. I have an infant and my house is not childproof.

The funny thing about protecting your children is that someone does not childproof the parents. When the Dude rolled off the bed I felt like a terrible parent. Isn't it my job to protect him? However, over the past few months I have learned a very important lesson. The biggest danger to our children is something we cannot protect them from . . . themselves.

I have been very protective of the Dude since his "incident." He continues to grow and explore so I think no permanent damage was done. A few weeks ago he was lying on his stomach the floor, cooing and trying to stick his stuffed bear into his mouth. The German came into the room and the Dude's face lit up. He kicked his legs and pushed himself up. Then with spectacular ease he headbutted the floor.

For a split second he looked at me and two things registered in his mind. First, damn that hurt. Second, I probably shouldn't have done that. Then . . . SCREAM. However, that split second look on his face was hysterical to me. I picked him up but was laughing the entire time. The Dude looked at me and then started laughing. Laughter through tears. The best medicine.

Well, something happened about a week ago. I think we might finally have to unpack that childproofing kit.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rock Your Vote

For my fellow ex-pats, I want you to get out and rock your vote!! I obviously have my own opinion about things, but no matter who you vote for, you should. Even though we live overseas, our voices still count.

Deadlines for abstee ballot requests are fast approaching. Therefore go to this website:

Overseas Vote Foundation

Find your state or fill out the federal form request. It is actually not that difficult. All you need is a printer, envelope and stamp. Come election day, don't be left out!!

Friday, September 05, 2008

You are on your Own

John McCain wrapped up the RNC convention with . . . well some called it rousing, but to me it looked tired and like more of the same. Here are some of the highlights.

“We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor. We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law and judges who dispense justice impartially and don’t legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities.”

When I heard this I wondered how on earth he can be for lower taxes but spending discipline. He has watched as the U.S. debt has climbed into the trillions. He voted for Bush supported policies 90% of the time. This is what I think when I read these words:
  • We believe in low taxes for the rich because we reward their hard work.
  • We believe in open markets so that jobs can be shipped overseas.
  • We believe in a strong defense that alienates our closest allies.
  • We believe in a culture of life, but won't help single mothers and children in poverty. Remember that is personal responsibility. You are on your own.
  • We believe in our rule of law even it over steps the constitution or violates human rights. Any judge who says differently is legislating from the bench.
  • We believe in our values and those who don't agree with us are unpatriotic and unamerican.
You cannot have it both ways, John.

You cannot "cut taxes" and increase military spending. That is not "spending discipline." What are you going to cut? Health care for children? Social Security? College loans?

You cannot tell people to stop yelling and to work together and then tell your party to fight.

You cannot claim Obama has no record and then tell me that a governor with two years experience is better qualified to be president.

You cannot claim to be an independent and then let the right-wing conservatives in your party do your dirty work for you.

You cannot herald change, but then offer me no concrete examples of what you are going to change.

You cannot have it both ways, John.

It seems that all my political blogging has upset my Grandpa. Dude, he called me Marie. He never does that. But his comment got me thinking. What IS the problem facing the U.S.? How would you solve it? I open the floor for comments and discussion.

I am sorry to say but you all are now on your own. I am working on a post about McCain-Feingold but other than that I am swearing off politics next week. Mommy needs a rest.

Also the Dude is going through a screaming phase. This week he discovered that he can scream. Now he spends about an hour every morning lying on the floor, smiling, playing with his toys while screaming his head off. It is charming, I tell ya'. He also has been spitting up a lot lately. It is 10am here, and I am about to change my shirt for the third time.

Here's hoping you weekend is full of happy things and no baby puke.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Teenage Pregnancy is OK

Well, it will get you an invite to sit in the VIP section of the RNC convention.


Dude, if you don't want people talking about your kids, stop using them as props to get elected. You cannot have it both ways. Also, if you want to be VP your going to have to learn to put up with a lot worse. You seem to be able to give as good as you get, though.

What were we talking about? Oh yeah:

Bureau of Labor Statistics:

"The unemployment rate rose to 5.7 percent, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend down in July (-51,000), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Employment continued to fall in construction, manufacturing, and several service-providing industries."

From the National Priorities Project :

"The Iraq War costs about $551,000,000,000, and continues to increase. This is about $4,681 per household, $1,721 per person and $341.4 million per day."

According to Palin, the job's not done yet, but "victory is in our sight." Wait, didn't Bush declare victory?

From the AFL-CIO:

"McCain voted with the Republicans in 2007 to stall a clean minimum wage increase for working families—before bowing to public pressure and voting to pass the final bill that included tax breaks for businesses."

From the Tax Policy Center:

"Both (i.e. McCain and Obama) plans would sharply increase the national debt. Including interest costs, Obama’s tax plan would boost the debt by $3.5 trillion by 2018. McCain’s plan would increase the debt by $5 trillion.

The Obama plan would reduce taxes for low- and moderate-income families, but raise them significantly for high-bracket taxpayers. By 2012, middle-income taxpayers would see their after-tax income rise by about 5 percent, or nearly $2,200 annually. Those in the top 1 percent would face a $19,000 average tax increase—a 1.5 percent reduction in after-tax income.

McCain would lift after-tax incomes an average of about 3 percent, or $1,400 annually, for middle-income taxpayers by 2012. But, in sharp contrast to Obama, he would cut taxes for those in the top 1% by more than $125,000, raising their after-tax income an average 9.5 percent. "

Gee, looks like Palin did not realize that McCain has not really been fighting for me all this time and, like I have said before, no matter who is president, your taxes are going to go up.

I was Glad to hear that she agrees with Obama about alternate fuels. And new pipelines, great! Her husband working with BP and her sister's sub-station are not a conflict of interest at all.

UPDATE:

Dude, don't just take my word for it. I have had enough politics for one day. I am going to go rock the Shannon Stopover. (Thanks for the tip Brendan!)

Fact Check

Palin has never ordered the Alaska National Guard to do Anything

Tat's very interesting Take: Drinkin' Beer with Hockey Mom

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hubris thy name is McCain

During my time on the net on Sunday and Monday, I ran across an NBC interview with McCain. In that interview he talked about the hurricane and the convention. Then his VP choice, Governor Palin, was questioned.

"Is this the best person to have just a heartbeat away from the presidency?"

"Absolutely. Governor Palin has held elected office longer than Senator Obama and has the experience necessary to be president."

Really? Well, I had to check that out for myself.

Governor Palin's Experience:
Wasilla City Council 1992 - 1996
Mayor Wasilla 1996 - 2002
Governor Alaska 2006 to present

She has held elected office for 12 years. In between those offices she served on several appointed commissions. Before that she was a sportscaster. Now, I am sure that Wasilla is a lovely city, but I am not sure that 10 years in a city of 7000 people is the experience needed to be president.

Senator Obama's Experience:
Illinois State Senate: 1997 - 2004
U.S. Senate: 2005 to present

That is 10 years of elected office experience. Before that Obama was a community organizer helping people who had been laid off due to factory closings. He was also a civil rights lawyer and taught constitutional law.

Hmm. If I were in HR at the White House, I know that I would probably prefer one resume to another. I cannot believe that McCain actually wants me to believe that she has more and better experience than Obama. Therefore, I have decided experience is a crappy argument and I am done with it. As I pointed out last week, Lincoln did not have that much experience either.

In the spirit of being fair, I took a look at the RNC convention speeches this morning. Fred Thompson reminded me of that old ad, "I may not be president but I play one on TV." For me, his speech signaled a return of the old Republican argument that only Republicans can protect the country and if you are not with them then you are against them, i.e. unpatriotic. Why does dissent make me unpatriotic? Didn't Jefferson say that dissent is the best form of patriotism? Just because I am a Democrat does not mean I do not love my country.

Then I read this in the Internet and I got pissed off:

Palin Reignites Culture Wars

Dude, I saw this coming. One reason that Obama has not brought up "culture" issues is because he knows that the Dems don't usually fare well with them. This election should not be about abortion, creationism, capital punishment or the gun lobby. However, by choosing Palin, McCain made sure that his conservative base got all rilled up. McCain is letting the conservative base and RNC do his dirty work while standing by and pretending to be the independent above it all.

What pisses me off the most is how the Dems played into the Repub hands. Instead of letting it alone and watching as McCain and Palin fall on their swords, the Dems got smug and tried to start scaring people. Only Karl Rove is good at being Karl Rove. I feel an Eminem song coming on, "Would the real Karl Rove please stand up? Please stand up?" Sorry, where was I? Putting a Conservative on the defensive is not good. They get wound up like Bill O'Riley and you cannot talk to people like that.

In 2004 I went to a symposium at the University of Oldenburg where a student asked me how in the world Americans could have reelected George Bush. I responded by pointing out that the Repubs like to talk about what I call "red herring issues." Take Ohio for example. Sure a lot of Ohio's sons and daughters were dying in Iraq, thousands had lost their jobs, federal support for important welfare programs had been cut, and the current administration was partly responsible for those things. However, by God almighty, gay couples should not be allowed to get married. By making the election about gay marriage instead of Iraq or the economy, the Repubs won a few key states. This reminds me of a song from the musical Chicago.

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em act with lots of flash in it
And the reaction will be passionate
Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bread and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?
What if your hinges all are rusting?
What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll never catch wise.


Certainly the Obama's over the top stage was a bit much when excepting the nomination. However, the Repubs distract the American public about what is important and they get away with it all the time.

I agree with Obama that Palin's 17 year old daughter is not a political issue. Bristol Palin got pregnant at 17 and is marrying her 18 year old boyfriend. I read this morning that Bristol's boyfriend is flying to the convention. Is the RNC trying to tell me that this is all okay? My mother spent my entire teenage years telling me not to get pregnant. The whole thing does prove one point that I have made for years. Teaching abstinence only in schools does not result in a decrease in teen sex in results in a decrease in SAFER sex among teenagers. Man, if it really is okay, then I should have had more sex in high school.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Déjà vu

As I watched Gustav heading towards Lousiana yesterday, I got a chill of déjà vu. However, as Mayor Nagin told people to “be scared” and get “the hell out,” I knew that things would be different. Surprisingly, Bush did the right thing yesterday by staying in Washington and going to FEMA to check on things. During his speech, the president was even a bit comforting.

I was going to send Bush props for finally getting it, but then I thought twice. We don’t cheer people for taking care of their kids, because that is what you are supposed to do. Nobody pats me on the back every time I feed Christopher or read to him. That is what I am supposed to do. Taking care of the country is what the president is supposed to do. Still, it is nice to see that he finally gets it.*

This September is also the 19th anniversary of the hurricane that I survived. On September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo landed on the South Carolina coast as a category 4 storm. Winds began to pick up around 6pm that night and shortly thereafter the rains came.

My parents herded my sister and I, as well as the family’s two dogs, into their back bedroom. My sister took the floor and I tried to sleep on the lounge chair. We propped up a tiny black and white battery operated TV. Until about 10:30pm we got the local news station, but then everything went fuzzy. As the wind whipped around the house, the sounds of trains rushing by filled my ears. We don’t live near train tracks. I learned later that this is what a tornado sounds like. Even though my dog was trembling and sitting on my head, I was not very scared.

Around midnight the wind stopped. Everything was quiet. My step-dad told me that it was the eye of the storm. Because the wind direction would change, my parents made us go into the living room. My dad walked around the house to make sure everything was okay. He would not let me go with him. About 20 minutes later the wind and rain returned. By that time I was so tired that I just went to sleep.

When the sun came out our house was still intact. Really, it did not seem like much had happened. Then we went outside. Our neighbors across the street used to have a big tree in their yard. I looked to my side and saw the tree sitting next to our house, next to the living room window where my entire family had been asleep. Although our neighborhood escaped a lot of damage, some house were completely demolished; collapsed like a house of cards.

Then, FEMA was criticized for the slow reaction time. It is nice to know that some things never change. All I remember thinking was how cool it was to be out of school for 2 weeks, even if it meant also living without electricity for two weeks.

*I was going to write something about the RNC convention schedule changes and McCain’s visit to Mississippi, but then I decided not to. Devastation and loss is not partisan, so I think it is better to just leave it.