Archive for October, 2008

Reason #5: We’re with Margaret and Helen

October 31, 2008

There are so many, many reasons to vote for Barack Obama.

One  is that your vote puts you in company that truly showcases the glorious diversity that is the United States of America.  When Ronald Reagan’s Chief of Staff endorses Obama—as he just did–then you know we are in the midst of something really remarkable happening in this country.

Even professional athletes, a group not usually politically outspoken, is lining up for Obama.  How about Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Charles Barkley, and Michael Jordan himself?

From the people on your block, down the street, across town, two towns over, to people several states over, to people who might have never voted Democrat before, this election has already changed things in this country.  All the big-name endorsements aside, what’s been most exciting to us is the infectious combination of hope and energy so evident among regular folks in the USA–folks like yours truly, hockey moms for Obama.

(Wait. Did you not click on hockey moms for Obama?  Here, try again: this is the hockey moms’ version of Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina Sarah Palin.)

In this election, we feel exhilarated to be part of a real groundswell of change.  From young kids like the Ron Clark Academy kids rocking the vote to grandmothers Margaret and Helen rocking the blogosphere, we’re in good company.

Still not sure who to vote for?  Have we not convinced you yet?  Then absolutely check out Margaret and Helen’s post: If You Are Undecided, You’re Not Paying Attention.

Then, pay attention and vote (for Obama)!

Reason #6: Social Responsibility Isn’t Socialism

October 30, 2008

While I’ve written a bit on this before, I just have to return to the idea of wealth. Who has it and wants to keep it, who doesn’t have it and wants to taste just a morsel of the pie of life.

Perhaps it is the minivan I see almost daily at my daughter’s school that has a large “No Socialism, Vote McCain” painted on it by hand.

Perhaps I’m thinking about this a lot because last night I was subjected to the latest Palin ranting, “Barack Obama is going to redistribute your wealth.” Then, of course, she linked this redistribution to taxes (click here for a nice break-down of the two candidates’ positions, complete with a cast of characters).

Whatever the reason, this wealth redistribution stuff, which is being uttered a lot in the waning days of the campaign, strikes me as offensive on many, many levels. However, let’s just examine two points:

1. This doesn’t make sense! All of these claims of socialism and redistribution are sensationalistic ploys. As Obama has said, time and time again, he defines “wealthy” as those making $250,000 or more per year. So do I. I just firmly believe that those who are doing pretty well financially, who can make their mortgage payments and have food on the table every night, have a social and moral responsibility to help out those who aren’t in this state. I have had countless advantages in life – a stable family, a great education, good physical and mental health, and a solid support network of friends, to mention just a few – and I’m not making $250,000 per year even with these advantages! Imagine those who haven’t had the half of this.

Its just a big lottery of life, and we need to take care of those who didn’t get the lucky numbers. That’s why Obama’s idea of wealth and taxes, which would work toward closing the gap between the haves and the have nots, doesn’t offend me or incite fear as it does in the Republician ticket. It’s the socially responsible thing to do.

2. This brings me to my second point – the recent comments about “wealth distribution” really irk me on creepier, more insidious level. This is because it seems that McCain and Palin are trying to shift our value system as a society. It appears they are trying to strip us of our empathy towards others.

I’m not the only one with this view. Here are a few takes on that line you’ve probably heard about how a society will be judged by how it treats its poor…

From Confucius:
In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.
From James Baldwin (an African American writer):
Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.
From Jean-Paul Sartre:
When the rich wage war it is the poor who die.

And, one of my favorite’s from that little powerhouse of a nun, Mother Teresa:

At the end of our lives, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless and you took me in.’

Herein lies what really scares me about the position the Republicans are taking toward wealth – they can’t picture themselves as hungry, naked, or homeless. Even today, in an economic crisis that is scaring the bejezus out of many folks, they insist that we don’t need to consider those less fortunate. And that, to me, just seems wrong.

– Colleen, mother of three from Boulder, Colorado, who hopes she can become proud of how our country treats those occupying the lowest rungs of the economic totem pole.

Reason #7: Justice

October 30, 2008

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

–Langston Hughes

I love my country.  I’m proud to be an American, and proud of our contributions to democracy throughout the world.  We are not perfect – far from it; we have denied justice to our own for centuries.  Yet in spite of our failures, I see in our form of government and the good hearts of our people the world’s best chance to reach the goal of equality and justice for all.  Our example, with all its flaws, has been a light to oppressed people throughout the world.

Such a role demands that our nation and its leaders uphold the principles of justice on which our country was founded.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case during the past two presidential terms.  From the invasion of Iraq to invasions of our privacy in the name of “homeland security,” our actions have changed our reputation from that of just nation to arrogant one.  It has cost us much of the world’s trust.

Some Americans are fine with this shift in our world role, preferring to define it in terms of military might.  I find it incredibly sad.  I want our country to be respected again, and deserving of the friendship of our allies.  I want us to be the kind of leader that will guide the world to peace rather than destruction.

To regain our reputation, we have to renew our commitment to justice.  The Bush administration’s position on torture, its lengthy confinement of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo without trial, and its efforts to increase surveillance of American citizens seems to say that security and justice cannot coexist.  That’s a dangerous attitude, one that John McCain’s record and behavior have done little to dispel.  (For a comparison of McCain and Bush’s platforms on human rights and civil liberties, click here.)

Barack Obama’s personal commitment to justice is clear.  He understands from his work in civil rights how justice is denied to many Americans.  He recognizes the importance of continued vigilance on social justice issues. I’m voting for Barack Obama because I see in him the hope that America can again become a beacon of justice, for all Americans, and for people around the world.

–Margie, mother of two who blogs at Third Mom

Reason #8: Modern Day Suffragettes

October 29, 2008

First click here, view this, and customize it and send it to your friends (this is seriously hilarious).

Then see below:


‘Nuff said. Vote Obama!

– Jane, a mother of two from Boulder who has MapQuested her way to the polls already.

– Joanna, a modern day suffragette who is campaigning mighty hard in Florida.

Colleen, mother of three from Boulder who plans to take her kids to the polls on Tuesday just to give them a little civic education.

Reason #9: He’s Even Better Live…

October 27, 2008

It’s one thing to watch Obama speak on TV or read his words in articles and blogs. It’s quite another to see him in person.

My friend Alicia has connections, so we were admitted into the small grassy plot immediately in front of the podium in Denver’s Civic Center Park Sunday morning. Obama has a relaxed yet commanding presence, even standing in front of a crowd of over 100,000 people that stretched all the way up the capitol steps on the other side of the park.

First of all, his occasional jokes add levity to the grave concern we all feel about this election, rather than contribute to the hail of lowbrow insults being lobbed by the McCain camp. He said, “McCain even called me a socialist, and then he claimed that my economic policies were just like George Bush’s…. seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!” Then he neatly segued, “Well, I can put up with nine more days of attacks from the McCain campaign, but you can’t afford to put up with four more years of failed policies.”

Secondly, Obama’s skill as a teacher lends a unique element to his speeches. This is what I want, indeed crave, in a president. I want an intelligent president who is knowledgeable enough on the issues to actually be able to explain what they mean–as Clinton was able to do–rather than fill speech lines with bluster and obfuscation–as you-know-who is only capable of doing.

I also greatly appreciate his acknowledgment that government policy cannot succeed in making the changes to education and health care that the country needs, but that individuals must be responsible and do their own part. This sense of a national community working together toward collective goals and holding the government accountable inspired what I thought was his best line of the day: “We need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up, not wait for it to be done from the top down.”

And finally, Obama’s appeal to think beyond ourselves to the next generations moved me to tears (OK, I am a bit hormonal right now…). It was something about the way he talked about parents who sacrifice so their children can go to college, and how they shouldn’t have to choose between paying their monthly bills and paying for their children’s healthcare. Even though my grandmother went to university, after the death of my grandfather in WWII she worked two jobs as a single mother of three throughout the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. She was always a model of frugality and generosity to me, and the thought of her then made me feel proud.

There was also that undercurrent at the rally that made me feel linked to those around me in witnessing an historic moment and silently promising to think about things in a new way. Being pregnant, I was tempted to chalk it up those hormones I previously alluded to, but I welcomed these emotions–what else inspires us to do better by our fellow human beings in the short lives we live?

Oh, and one more thing: When Obama first began his speech and the crowd started chanting, “Yes we can!” Obama immediately added, “Si se puede!” Music to the ears of Colorado Latinos, labor unions and workers (who were out in force publicizing their opinion on the ballot initiatives), and those of us who work in Latin America–a tribute to the late great Cesar Chavez who fought for the democratic rights of all workers and all people.

SI SE PUEDE!!

– Carol C., soon-to-be mother who lives in Boulder but imagines herself more a part of the global community than just a US citizen.


Reason #10: He’s Hip to Anthropology

October 26, 2008

Why is America so consistently dense to other cultures?

This (paraphrased) question was posed to Barack Obama by a former student of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  The forum?  Not a college campus, but a foreign policy discussion in New Hampshire in November 2007.

Obama answered the question in a refreshingly serious take on why anthropology might be important for foreign policy:

In a lengthy answer, Obama suggested that part of the problem is that this generation’s best and brightest were working overseas for Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong and not for the government. But then the fledgling Illinois senator offered an observation about understanding non-Western cultures that transcended the particulars of the question and spoke to a larger foreign policy perspective.

“You can’t wait to do some of this work until there is a crisis,” he said. “This is a chronic problem in Washington. It has to do with our 30-second attention span. You want to get to know a country and figure out what are the interests and who are the players. You can’t parachute in. Iraq is a classic example, and Iran now may be another example, where we are entirely isolated from these countries and have no idea what’s going on. We don’t have good intelligence on them. And we’re basically making a series of decisions in the blind. And that is dangerous for us.”

His mother, Ann Dunham, had an MA in anthropology from the University of Hawai’i, and when he was a young boy they lived in Indonesia where she did her research.

Obama told his NH audience that he was “hip to Margaret Mead.”

So, what might it mean for a US President to be hip to anthropology?

In the present, it might mean a newly rethought use of anthropology in US foreign policy.  Following highly controversial participation of anthropologists in Vietnam War intelligence (as part of Project Camelot), the US Army has recently begun working with anthropologists in the Middle East as part of their Human Terrain Team.

Anthropologists are highly critical of this program, but some argue for a real need for ethnographic voices in US intelligence and security operations–such as Jeff Bristol, a former army soldier and current anthropology student.  At any rate, discussions between anthropologists and representatives of the US intelligence community are now taking place with increasing frequency.

Where do we stand on this?

Hockey Moms for Obama skate locally, but think globally: we absolutely support the use of anthropology in better understanding the world.  We don’t, however, support putting anthropological knowledge to use against people during wartime.

When Barack Obama says he’s hip to Margaret Mead in reference, we presume, to this quote:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

We interpret this to mean that he believes in the power of the people, and that as instilled in him by his anthropologist mother, sees the value in all cultures (as opposed to the views, for example, of US Rep. Michelle Bachman that “not all cultures are equal”).  We believe he sees the value of anthropology in potentially redirecting the narrow, imperial, and at times xenophobic direction US foreign policy has taken under G.W. Bush.  Obama’s critique of Bush Doctrine is loud and clear.

So, here’s to a revitalized American built not on fear of the world, or being “dense to other cultures,” but to knowing, appreciating, and cooperating with our neighbors around the world.  And, here’s to some Anthropology 101 in the highest office of our country, to a humane US foreign policy premised on the idea that all cultures are created equal.

–Carole, mother of two and card carrying member of the Anthropologists for Obama club, Gunbarrel, Colorado

Reasons #11-16: Hockey Moms for Obama

October 26, 2008

Hockey Moms for Obama—40 Reasons to Vote for Barack Obama:

11. He’s NOT Out Shopping….

12. Hope

13. Dinosaurs, God, and Science in Schools

14. Race and the American Dream

15. He’s Got His Priorities in Order

16. Health Care is a Right

And, for your viewing pleasure, because we just can’t resist: check out these videos:

Obama-McCain Breakdance Showdown

Waaaaasup! Guys for Obama

School House Rock for Obama

and

the Old-Time Celebs video by the Jewish Alliance for Change.  Enjoy!

Reason #11: He’s NOT out Shopping…

October 25, 2008

When Sarah Palin was nominated to be McCain’s Vice President she did what any smart, busy woman would logically do. She went shopping.

Let me repeat that, she didn’t spend her time reading, studying, debating, heck, thinking about what this meant in her life (as well as if, honestly, she really belonged in this role). She went shopping.

$150,000+ worth, on the Republican National Party’s tab.

Yeah, yeah, now that this has been exposed, Palin and the RNC are saying it will go to charity at the end of the campaign. There even seem to be some lost receipts, after this shocking tab came out stores can’t find their records

Other Disturbing Facts:

Sarah’s make up artist is earning more than McCain’s foreign policy advisor.

She’s in good company with Cindy McCain who spent $300,000 on a “party ensemble” (what is that even?).

The First Dude is taking on a new look, and even baby Trig got a $295 pram. Is she moving from Alaska to rural England or something?

Heck, Palin can’t even perform on Saturday Night Live without haggling over her wardrobe!

Folks, this is ridiculous.

The most disturbing aspect is that this seems to be a grand ploy to get us to stop thinking about the issues on this campaign and concentrate on Sarah’s latest fashion sense, haircut, and new snaz.

Even if she only spent a few hundred thousand dollars to raise millions, (’cause, let’s remember, she’s a “regular gal“). this is emblematic of a disconnect in values and, on a more sinister level, indicative of what they think of us, the people. This seems to be a grand ploy to get us to stop thinking about the issues on this campaign and concentrate on Sarah’s new look. They think we’ll buy this miracle make-over and forget about the issues.

Well, I’m insulted.

And finally, gals, as Chris Matthews so aptly says, this is the attempt to “remake” the Hockey Mom. Which, as we must recall, is the very identity which Palin is touting!

Well true hockey moms are smart, sassy, and they don’t need a make-over.

Let’s vote Obama. And keep our wardrobes, which are mighty fine just as is, intact.

– Colleen, a mama in Boulder who likes to shop with the best of ’em, but favors consignment stores and has the best fashion consultants a gal could dream of, good friends and a snazzy husband.

Reason #12: Hope

October 24, 2008

We’re with them (see above!): with Obama we see hope.

We see the chance to turn around this country, to rebuild the economy, to reconnect across divides that separate us in this country, and to together reach out to the rest of the world, beginning with new strategies to bring our soldiers home and end war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We see hope, and once again, we’re thrilled to see so many conservative Republicans–including not just Colin Powell, but most recently a member of McCain’s own advisory team, President Bush’s former press secretary, and a Republican candidate for Congress in Oregon–endorse Obama.  When you have a candidate who truly brings people together across partisan and other divides like this, then you have not only change, but hope.

(I wonder who Condi Rice is voting for……..?)

Here’s to our two young friends above.  Their faces say it as loudly as their shirts do: Obama means hope for our future.

–Carole, mother of two and eternal optimist, Gunbarrel, Colorado

Reason #13: Dinosaurs, God, and Science in Schools

October 23, 2008

Our nation is going down. Down in science. The puck is whizzing past us while we stand around with our sticks in the air. It’s ugly.

McCain is supposedly “waffling” on whether Creationism (and/or Intelligent Design, which, per Molly our scientist here , is “equally problematic, just wrapped up in a little cloak”) and Evolution should be taught, side by side, in our schools (though he has certainly come out strong for Creationism in the past). And we all know where Palin stands on this issue. How can you “waffle” on this?

Here are a few reasons we view “waffling” as problematic:

1. There is a significant difference between McCain and Obama on this issue. One guy doesn’t know what he thinks. The other believes that Creationism has no place in our schools. Obama states, “I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

The question is whether or not Creationism/Intelligent Design should be treated as an equal to Evolution. Science is driven by hypotheses. Creationism and Intelligent Design are devoid of hypotheses. Evolution, on the other hand, has a number of hypotheses that have been tested – through time – by numerous scientists.

Can you believe we have Presidential candidates who actually want to introduce “non-science” in the classroom. Oh yeah, global warming isn’t really happening anyway, right?!!

This is not only sad for the future of science, but sad for our children. Those little hockey playing buggers. What are we teaching them – that critical thought doesn’t matter?!

2. This approach is dangerous – perilous even – as our country slips behind in the standings in science. We’re behind Europe and Asia. Science and technology have had a place in our country for a long time. Think model T. Think of the computer. Think of that very essential element in any hockey game – the Zamboni. If this trend continues, we won’t be making new Zambonis in this country. We’ll be depending on inventors from elsewhere.

3. Furthermore, this approach to science – giving religion a place in our schools – completely denies the separation of church and state, which requires that the government not endorse one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. Certainly, we can all believe what we’d like, but teaching religion in the schools isolates some beliefs while embracing others.

So challenge your kids to reach new levels of science. Vote Obama.

– Molly, an evolutionary biologist who always wanted to ride atop a Zamboni and is fired up about the dismal decline of science in our country, and Colleen, who didn’t do so well in her science classes but does understand that humans didn’t have pet dinosaurs