Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Does Sarah Palin secretly support Obama?

First, here's how we're doing with the Trans Community Supports Obama campaign:

Goal Thermometer

Now, on to my current thoughts:

I don't really want to pick on Sarah Palin, perhaps because there are times she seems to be somewhat defenseless. While I would not criticize her for being a woman, or being "qualified" to be President (the proper age and a natural-born citizen - something John McCain actually isn't!), and I think it's nasty to harp on her so-called lack of "foreign policy experience" as a so-called qualification, when the last President to be elected who wasn't a Governor or Vice President was then-Senator John F. Kennedy. Obviously, foreign policy expericnce wasn't important when people elected either George W. Bush (all right, he was technically appointed by the Supreme Court as part of a bloodless coup) or Bill Clinton.

Anyway, all that aside, I saw a Katy Couric television interview of Governor Palin, and here is a Q&A from the interview transcript that intrigued me (emphasis added):

Couric: When President Bush ran for office, he opposed nation-building. But he has spent, as you know, much of his presidency promoting democracy around the world. What lessons have you learned from Iraq? And how specifically will you try to spread democracy throughout the world?

Palin: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread democracy for those who desire freedom, independence, tolerance, respect for equality. That is the whole goal here in fighting terrorism also. It's not just to keep the people safe, but to be able to usher in democratic values and ideals around this, around the world.

Whoa! Avowed "social conservative" Sarah Palin is actually calling for us tio spread democracy to bring freedom, independence, tolerance and respect for equality?

Is this the same Sarah Palin who called for a referendum to change the Alaska constitution tom deny same-sex partner benefits? (while she did veto a law that would strip the rights after the state supreme court held that same-sex partners are entitled to insurance benefits, she did so because she took good advice that the law would be unconstitutional. However, she wants to change Alaska's constitution to take away equal rights.

Is this the same Sarah Palin who opposes same sex marriage?

Is this the same Sarah Palin who opposes women's reproductive health rights?

Is this the same Sarah Palin who supports freedom and equality only for people who share her narrow religious beliefs? who thjinks the Iraq war is God's war against Islam? Who thinks the Iraq war is a fight against Al Qaeda? Who cut financing for a shelter for young unwed mothers?

If Sarah Palin really meant what she said, she means she is voting for Barack Obama! Because she and Senator McCain don't support freedom, respect, or tolerance for people who don;t fit their narrow view of who is entitled to freedom, respect, or tolerance.

On the other hand, she obviously means those words in the usual conservative Republican Orwellian Newspeak way:

Let's translate what she really meant to say:

(Not the real quote - biut translated into American English from Newspeak):
Palin: Specifically, we will make every effort possible to help spread [democracy] Conservative capitalistic Western American Culture for those who desire [freedom] to lose their cultural heritage, [independence] the loss of independence and an enforced alliance with the United States, [tolerance] enforcement of Traditionalist Christianist or similar fundamentalist-type Values, [respect for equality] and tolerance of inequality for those who don't agree or who are different.

All the more reason to make that donation to the Obama campaign - have you given yet? It's still not too late!

Here's the link again.

A day late? It isn’t too late! ACT NOW!

Before I start with my thoughts, let’s start with the link I want you to go to:

The Transgender Community and Allies Support Obama page

Now, on to why you should go to the link:

There’s that old complaint, “A day late and a dollar short.”

Yesterday was the day for a big push to get trans donations for the Obama campaign, and as much as I wanted to, what with the stock market crash, crazy things at work, and Rosh Hashannah (my sweetie being Jewish, even if I am not), I just never got around to doing my bit for the campaign.

Well, here I am, it’s Tuesday September 30, 2008 – and TODAY is the last day of the quarter – so we can make those donations count even today.

Readers of my occasional thoughts here know that I am supporting Barack Obama for President. I am one of those Hillary Holdouts in the sisterhood who, when my candidate made her speech at the Democratic convention, finally came around to support Barack.

But I already pointed out here in my blog that Barack was actually better on the repeal of the Defense Against Marriage Act than Hillary. And compared with the “social conservative” platform offered by the McCain/Palin ticket, there is no doubt but that Barack Obama is the best candidate on LGBT issues, even if he isn’t quite “there” yet on marriage.

Right off the bat, he supports the trans-inclusive version of ENDA. Of course, what I want is a real Civil Rights Act – but give us Barack Obama in the presidency, 60+ senators and a reasonably good majority in the House, and we might be able to get there.

So, what am I asking?

If you have some spare change, use that link and give something to the Obama cause.

But don’t worry if you don’t have the money – the Obama campaign needs our time and efforts as well. My forte is stuffing envelopes, but others with the talent can go door-to-door getting voters registered (in New York, until October 10th), manage a phone bank, write letters to the editor, blog, etc. . . .

If you can give, do it today. If you can’t give today, do it tomorrow – we have until November 4th to get the job done.

If you do give – feel free to post a comment to this blog entry if you like (unless you want to be anonymous). For that matter, feel free to post a comment to any of my blog entries.

There you go – I may be a day late, but it isn’t too late!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

McCain: Ignorance is Strength

It’s bad enough that Senator John McCain made a fighter-pilot “snap decision” without a great deal of thought in choosing Alaska Governor Sarah “Barracuda” Palin to be his vice president.

But John McCain has recently unveiled a sadly deceptive “attack ad” on the Obama record on education that makes it seem as if the McCain campaign is campaigning to keep our children ignorant in order to better protect sexual predators! In the McCain world of “social conservatism” it appears that the campaign slogan is now an Orwellian Ignorance is Strength.

This is a chilling reminder that the United States today has become uncomfortably more dystopian in a 1984 way, and that McCain and his sidekick Palin want to bring us more of the same.

McCain’s attack ad centers on a comprehensive sex education bill (referred to as Barack Obama's only accomplishment on education) that Barack Obama voted for in committee. This bill would have provided age-appropriate sex education to children in kindergarten - enough to allow them to know when a sexual predator has touched them inappropriately.

McCain's education attack ad is found on his campaign website here:

In the ad, we're told that this means "children are learning about sex before learning to read."

But we know that the “sex education” for kindergarten in the bill was designed to protect kids from pedophiles. The bill that McCain cynically attacks was supported by a coalition of education and public health organizations, including the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Education Association, according to the New York Times:

John McCain should know that the bill would only have given kindergarteners enough information to help them protect themselves against being touched in the wrong places. If he approved the ad, which he did, he is presumed to know that. Ignorance is no excuse here.

Either he is lying, or he believes that a policy of keeping children ignorant to help protect pedophiles is a good thing!

Senator McCain appeared on The View on ABC yesterday, where I saw him stand by this ad, calling it “true” when challenged by Joy Behar. Is this what we want in a President? We already know that McCain and Palin don't support sex education in the schools, supporting "abstinence only" education that leads to teen pregnancy - and also opposing abortion - a double whammy against young women in America that McCain also confirmed during his View interview.

It only confirms the Orwellian slogan Ignorance is Strength will be the centerpiece of a McCain administration. We may as well unveil this as a new slogan for McCain:

McCain/Palin: Country First - Ignorance is Strength

It isn't just sex education and women's reproductive rights and health where McCain and Palin share the bedrock belief that Ignorance is Strength - the theme seems to permeate their campaign. The worst thing is that while Sarah Palin might be a "true believer" in Creationist nonsense, McCain seems to be quite willing to cynically use the ignorance of the bloc of American voters who really believe the world was created in six 24-hour days some 6,000 years ago, just to get elected. After all, even though it took some cheating (Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004) to put George W. Bush "over the top," reliance on this bloc of voters got Bush awfully close to actually winning rather than the bloodless coup d'etat we got. (Oops, I shouldn't be putting it quite that way, but that's essentially what really happened, if one looks carefully.)

McCain’s continuing support for this ad seems to prove that the Hero *IS* a Zero.

Now that we see that Ignorance is Strength fits the McCain Campaign, let’s take a look at the other two slogans from 1984, while we’re at it:

McCain/Palin: Country First - War is Peace

This seems to have been the Bush Doctrine in a nutshell – preemptively attack other countries for no legitimate reason, so we can fight “over there” instead of “at home.” McCain supports the illegitimate invasion and occupation of Iraq. He assumes that the war was right – in his ignorance, he doesn’t seem to understand that Iraq was not behind the events of 9/11 – it doesn’t matter that “the surge is working” when there should never have been a war in the first place. His running mate Sarah Palin is under the same delusion – is this what we need in the White House? We’ve been suffering from this idiocy since 2003, and it’s time for a real change - Obama/Biden, rather than the illusion of "change" that McCain/Palin would bring.

McCain/Palin: Country First - Slavery is Freedom

McCain and Palin’s “social conservatism” is ultimately all about the patriarchal thing: making women into babymaking slaves who have no reproductive choice even if they’ve been raped.

Their anti-human rights position for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people continues the national shame where some Americans have more rights than others – and transgender people have fewer rights than anyone else.

Whoopi Goldberg reacted on The View to McCain’s ignorant or cynical promise to appoint the kind of strict constructionist judges who would interpret the Constitution the “way the Founding Fathers intended” – does McCain think we should return to slavery? Incredibly, John McCain smiled goofily and didn’t even bother to deny it. (While I don’t envision a return of African Americans to hereditary involuntary servitude, I do see the nightmare of a Supreme court with a couple more social conservatives joining with Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito in rolling back civil rights to match the obstructive court interpretations from the 1870’s to 1890’s and even up to 1953. I have already seen what happens when those four are joined by Kennedy. Add one or two more like them, and we will be seeing judicial regression for the next thirty years.)

Shame on you, John McCain, shame on you! Whether you're an outright liar counting on the ignorance of the people, or you're ignorant yourself, you don't belong in the Oval Office.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin a Book Banner? McCain a Faulty Vetter?

My last entry in this group focuses on Sarah Palin and the issue of censorship in libraries. At the outset, I have to tell you that I am on the local chapter board of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the chair of the Bill of Rights Day Essay contest run by the chapter. Last year, one of our essay topics was on the issue of banned and challenged books.

Now, with that as prologue, let’s look at the situation with Sarah Palin and the Wasilla library. First, we see Time magazine relying on an interview with John Stein, who was Sarah Palin’s predecessor as mayor of Wasilla, and who she beat twice in mayoral elections (perhaps not the best primary source for this, BTW):

Stein [n.b. John Stein, former Wasilla, AK mayor beaten twice by Ms. Palin] says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. "She asked the library how she could go about banning books," he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. "The librarian was aghast." That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn't be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving "full support" to the mayor.

I saw a variation on the story in the New York Times (September 3, 2008):

Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.

Ann Kilkenny, a Democrat who said she attended every City Council meeting in Ms. Palin’s first year in office, said Ms. Palin brought up the idea of banning some books at one meeting. "They were somehow morally or socially objectionable to her," Ms. Kilkenny said.

The librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, pledged to "resist all efforts at censorship," Ms. Kilkenny recalled. Ms. Palin fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course after residents made a strong show of support. Ms. Emmons, who left her job and Wasilla a couple of years later, declined to comment for this article.

In 1996, Ms. Palin suggested to the local paper, The Frontiersman, that the conversations about banning books were "rhetorical."

Ms. Emmons was not the only employee to leave.

I doubt we'll see a completely unbiased source for this story - but at least we have corroboration from multiple quotes, including the following contemporaneous 1996 quote from the librarian (or so I believe).
I searched the web and found numerous variations on the same general censorship story – and a reference to that elusive article in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman from December 1996 – I believe that the following might be a reference to and partial quotation of the original source, which is not on-line:
[N.B. Mary Ellen Emmons is a Past President of the Alaska Library Association, and was the Wasilla Public Library director. I believe she is now known as Mary Ellen Baker.]

Palin Asked City Librarian About Censoring Books, Insisted It Was ‘Rhetorical.’

In 1996, according to the Frontiersman, Wasilla’s library director Mary Ellen Emmons said Palin asked her outright if she could live with censorship of library books. Emmons said, "This is different than a normal book-selection procedure or a book-challenge policy...She was asking me how I would deal with her saying a book can’t be in the library." Palin said in response, "Many issues were discussed, both rhetorical and realistic in nature." [Frontiersman, 12/18/96]

I don’t know if that is an accurate quote from the article, or even if it’s pure propaganda. What I do know is that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and that the country should hear more from Mary Ellen Baker (formerly known as Mary Ellen Emmons), the brave librarian who stood up to the specter of unjust censorship (or so it would appear from all the reports).

The issue about book challenging or banning also adds a question as to the adequacy of the "vetting" done by the McCain camp prior to springing the choice of Sarah Palin onto the public. Is she another mistake like Thomas Eagleton, Dan Quayle or George W. Bush?

From the Huffington Post:
Sam Stein

On Saturday, a Democrat tasked with opposition research contacted the Huffington Post with this piece of information: as of this weekend, the McCain campaign had not gone through old newspaper articles from the Valley Frontiersman, Palin's hometown newspaper.

How does he know? The paper's (massive) archives are not online. And when he went to research past content, he was told he was the first to inquire.

"No one else had requested access before," said the source. "It's unbelievable. We were the only people to do that, which means the McCain camp didn't."

The Frontiersman did not immediately confirm the revelation.

And there is no indication from the Democratic source that anything nefarious or problematic will be found in the archives. But officials with the paper did not recall inquiries by the McCain campaign.

"I cannot confirm that information at this time," said publisher Kari Sleight. "I am not aware of the McCain campaign researching our archives, but archive requests do not usually go through me."

If true, the failure of the Arizona Republican to access the newspaper clippings becomes another in a growing list of revelations that calls into question just how and why he made his decision to choose Palin. A rudimentary clip search, such as this, is presidential politics 101 as campaigns not only look for the majority of background information on any high-level appointee, but also try to prepare themselves from future attacks.

Well, the source here on the background check situation is the Huffington Post, which even I would consider to be somewhat "liberal media." Though most of the news media in the United States is not at all "liberal" – that’s a canard. The news media in the United States has developed into something much more chillingly right wing than it ever has been – so-called "liberal" media bends over backward to give space to "opposing views" and hems and haws about everything else. Conservative media makes no real attempt at fairness. Fox News, the New York Post and Washington Times are ultra right-wing. Even the New York Times is to the right of center these days – which explains why it went out of its way to libel me in a news article in November 2006, violating its own stylebook in the process.

There are two bottom lines to the Palin library censorship scandal – first, the issue has to be fully and fairly explored, as it goes to Sarah Palin’s core qualifications and fitness for office; and second, the question of whether John McCain’s people flubbed their background check – if true, this amplifies the sort of hair-trigger fighter-pilot knee-jerk decision-making that is great for shooting down enemy planes, but not a great qualification for the "leader of the free world" who gets to carry that nuclear football, or rather, has it nearby at all times. That is pretty much the same sort of irritating quickdraw judgmentalism lost McCain the Republican nomination in 2000, and perhaps should be yet another reason to deny him the presidency in 2008.

Then again, I’ve already professed my choice is Barack Obama. And gentle reader, I’m admitting that I am not necessarily being any more "fair and balanced" than the FOX News channel. (Actually, I *am* fairer and better balanced than that Bill O’Reilly and his "All Spin Zone" and the other denizens of FOX.

Sara Palin's Hypocrisy on Teen Pregnancy

On September 1, 2008, James C. Dobson, the founder and chief demagogue of (Out of) Focus on the Family issued the following statement:

"In the 32-year history of Focus on the Family, we have offered prayer, counseling and resource assistance to tens of thousands of parents and children in the same situation the Palins are now facing. We have always encouraged the parents to love and support their children and always advised the girls to see their pregnancies through, even though there will of course be challenges along the way.

That is what the Palins are doing, and they should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances."Being a Christian does not mean you're perfect. Nor does it mean your children are perfect. But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord. I've been the beneficiary of that forgiveness and restoration in my own life countless times, as I'm sure the Palins have.

"The media are already trying to spin this as evidence Gov. Palin is a 'hypocrite,' but all it really means is that she and her family are human. They are in my prayers and those of millions of Americans."

Well, while I will discount the last paragraph (Sarah Palin is a hypocrite, if one looks at what she says and what she does when she slashes funding for caring for pregnant teens in her state, that isn't what Dobson is dealing with), I largely agree with the so called "Doctor" Dobson here, at least when it comes to his reaching out to comfort people who fit into his narrow view of "pro-life, pro-family." He and his organization don't really care about anyone whose life or family doesn't meet his narrow and bigoted view of whose life is important and what makes a family. But if we limit ourselves to the sort of people who fit his constituency, I can't disagree with him.

His organization’s counseling doesn’t allow for any reproductive chopice other than going forward with the pregnancy. On the other hand, in the Palin situation, I am sure (or at least hopeful) that Bristol Palin should allowed to make her own reproductive choice, including having her baby. As to marrying the young man who got her pregnant, that should be their mutual choice. (I’ve seen reports that he may not be as willing to be getting married as she is, but that’s personal and private, and between them.)

But what’s the real issue – it isn’t Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, it’s teen pregnancy and teen unwed mothers and the role of education and government that are legitimate issues in the campaign.

Sarah Palin's "social conservatism" and her strange superstitious "religion" help make her a strong opponent of women’s reproductive rights except for the obligation to have a baby if one gets pregnant, whether by plan, by accident, or out of ignorance.

Sarah Palin opposes sex education in the schools. She recently line-item vetoed help for pregnant teens in trouble with nowhere else to turn. Don't believe it? See the Washington Post coverage: Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms By Paul Kane

ST. PAUL -- Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee who revealed Monday that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, earlier this year used her line-item veto to slash funding for a state program benefiting teen mothers in need of a place to live.

After the legislature passed a spending bill in April, Palin went through the measure reducing and eliminating funds for programs she opposed.

Inking her initials on the legislation -- "SP" -- Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million. Covenant House is a mix of programs and shelters for troubled youths, including Passage House, which is a transitional home for teenage mothers.

According to Passage House's web site, its purpose is to provide "young mothers a place to live with their babies for up to eighteen months while they gain the necessary skills and resources to change their lives" and help teen moms "become productive, successful, independent adults who create and provide a stable environment for themselves and their families."

Apparently Governor Palin only believes in the oppressive side of the "right to life." While Sarah Palin may be supportive of her own daughter, not all teen girls who are pregnant and actually choose to have their babies have family support, or support from private sources.

Governor Palin may think it’s a good idea to cut the state budget to save taxpayers money – but relying on private charity does not make for a level playing field. Relying on religious charities, especially with the Bush version of "faith-based initiative," gives us an ugly hybrid – using goverment taxpayer funds to support discriminatory practices by religious bigots.

Seeing Sarah Palin speak during C-Span’s coverage of the Republican convention, and seeing her family, could have given me some "feel-good" feelings if it weren’t for her opposition to things that I hold near and dear, like the fact that I should have the same rights as everyone else. After all, she’s not entirely bad, is she?

If (Out of) Focus on the Family wasn’t rabidly anti-gay and anti-trans, I’d feel better about the positive things they do for people who fit their constiruency. For now, it’s enough for me to acknowledge that even the most evil Christianist demagogues aren’t all bad. James Dobson and Sarah Palin might be members of the lunatic fringe on the issue of marriage rights and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, but I have to acknowledge that they’re not 100% pure evil on every issue.

After all, according to a recent controversial movie on the subject, even Adolph Hitler apparently liked small animals and children.

Barack Obama and the Compromise with Evil

I thought Barack Obama gave a pretty good speech when he accepted the Democratic nomination for President last week.

That is, I thought it was pretty good up to the point where he started to speak about "our sense of common purpose" with the enemies of freedom in the Neo-Con and Christianist right wing that represents the core of the Republican party.

Here are the dangerous words from Barack Obama’s nomination acceptance speech, with my comments inserted in the place of the pauses for applause:

"America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices. And Democrats, as well as Republicans, will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and politics of the past, for part of what has been lost these past eight years can't just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that's what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country."

(APPLAUSE: The Republican party is in the thrall of Religious and other "social" conservatives who have no respect for the rights of women, particularly women’s reproductive rights, unless the sole expression of those "rights" is to "choose to have babies." The Republican party and its standardbearers in this presidential election, John S. McCain and Sarah "Barracuda" Palin, are both sufficiently "social conservative" enough to oppose the quite sensible Roe v. Wade decision, to oppose any sex education oher than "abstinence only" education that leads ignorant teens into accidental pregnancies. The "social conservatives" in Congress have passed barbaric laws that curtail women’s reproductive rights. Seeking "compromise" on this vital issue is a weakness. But now that the applause has died down, back to Senator Obama . . . )

"The -- the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals."

(APPLAUSE: Hmmm. I won’t argue too much on the Second Amendment – just this year, the Supreme Court has spoken, quite unconstitutionally and somewhat irrationally, on the subject (at least IMO, but they're the ultimate arbiters of "what the Constitution really means", and I'm not), divorcing the right to bear arms from its attendant constitutional responsibility and purpose – that of providing for a well-organized militia.

I’d like to see Washington D.C. pass a law that requires those who are licensed to have guns also take mandatory militia training and help patrol the streets of the City, and see what the Supremes think about that. But that isn't presidential campaign stuff - the nation itself, as a result of the Second Amendment, really is a bit gun-crazy, unlike the civilized folks over in Europe, who don't need to see too much news to view most Americans as ignorant cowboys, anyway. So, let's see what sort of "compromise" is out there . . . and now back to Barack for the scariest "compromise" item . . . )

"I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in a hospital and to live lives free of discrimination."

(APPLAUSE: This raised my ire just as much as the idea of compromise on women’s reproductive rights. The idea that we should play politics with basic human rights that should be beyond the "right" of the oppressive majority to impose on the oppressed minority by a so-called "democratic majority vote" sickens me, especially when it comes from the very people who should be the strongest allies of the poor, the weak, and the oppressed. When will friends like Barack realize that we should be entitled to the same rights as his parents? When will friends like Barack realize that we are getting tired of beign oppressed? When will friends like Barack get ready to take us seriously?

I’d like to see Barack Obama supporting a full civil rights law for LGBT people, and not the sad caricature of an employment non-discrimination act that Rep. Barney Frank (D. Mass.)keeps watering down because he wants to pass something, anything, in the spirit of compromise on civil rights. It’s not just about repealing the Defense Against Marriage Act (something Barack Obama does support, and the one point where he had a better position than Hillary Rodham Clinton, the person who really should have been the Democrat’s presidential candidate . . . )

I’d like Barack to reverse the October 2002 change in Social Security regulations that leaves transitioning transsexuals and non-op transsexuals in limbo, without proper identification documentation.

I’d like to see Barack reverse "don’t ask, don’t tell" and I’d like to see immigration rules for gay and trans people be put on a par with the rules for straights. I’d like to see the bizarre rules banning people with AIDS from entering the country lifted. I’d like to make sure that tax dollars are not spent to support religious discrimination in the providing of social services and medical care. The applause has died down again, time to see what Barack has to say next . . . )

"You know, passions may fly on immigration, but I don't know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers."

(It would have been nicer if Barack had mentioned the separation of people in same-sex relationships here, too. There wasn’t a pause for applause here – but the immigration issue is more like the Second Amendment issue – one that might well be amenable to compromise, but not with the hard-core white supremacist right wingers. It isn’t just about Mexicans "taking American Jobs" by crossing the border. American businesses these days steal American jobs by using the current version of NAFTA to exploit cheap Mexican labor.

It seems like Republicans support NAFTA so that jobs can be exported to Mexico, and Democrats (these days) seem to oppose it. I think that NAFTA needs fixing – there should be a level playing field on the issue of minimum wage (in equivalent currencies among the trade partners, which would not free-float against each other, ultimately leading to a common currency), worker’s rights, and other sisues, so that it will not be any more advantageous to locate an industrial plant in Michigan, or Tennessee, or Sonora, or Manitoba. If we were to improve NAFTA to bring the standard of living for Mexicans, Canadians and Americans to equivalent standards, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for a Metal Curtain on America’s border with Mexico.

An improved NAFTA could also bring along other friendly nations in our hemisphere, and perhaps we could encourage South American nations to form a SAFTA - with a view toward eventually entering into a hemispheric treaty and an economic union that would go beyond the borders of the United States. Such ideas aren’t forthcoming from any of the candidates – Democrat or Republican. Let's let Barack sum up this segment of his speech . . . )

"But this, too, is part of America's promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.

I know there are those who dismiss such beliefs as happy talk. They claim that our insistence on something larger, something firmer, and more honest in our public life is just a Trojan horse for higher taxes and the abandonment of traditional values.

And that's to be expected, because if you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters."

(APPLAUSE --- Despite these qualms and misgivings, and since Hillary Clinton isn’t running any more and she's also supporting him, I will support Obama for President. Even if he isn’t perfect, he represents the best available hope for keeping the darkness and oppression of "social conservatism" at bay.

Postscript: Listening to Sarah Palin this evening, I realize that if it weren’t for the scary "social conservatism" aspect of the McCain/Palin ticket, the part that makes them totally wrong for the country, they wouldn't seem terribly different from the Obama/Biden ticket. This explains why Americans "in the middle" often seem to have such a problem identifying the better candidate - they aren't hurt by oppressive "Social conservative" Republican policies, so they're more likely to be unaware of it, or perhaps they don't care. (Hard core Republican conservatives either don't care or they're the types who aren't terribly different from their Islamic fundamentalist jihadist counterparts - ready to stome people like me in stadiums.)

Both sides are pushing for winning against terrorism (though Obama actually understands that it’s Osama bin Ladin and Al Qaeda who are the enemy, not the people of Iraq), both sides want America to be energy independent (though Democrats appear to be divided on the oxymoronic "clean coal", and Republicans add more nuclear and oil drilling to the mix), both sides are "patriotic" (though the Republican version of patriotism is a scary sort of McCarthyite, jingoist, Orwellian thing, while Democrats know that one really doesn’t have to wear a flag pin to be patriotic).

The rhetoric of "Bush's Third Term" or "Hero, Not Zero" doesn't impress me. My choice is based on what's Right for America, or at the very least, to stave off the people I know are Wrong for America. I don't need scare tactics to be afraid of McCain/Palin. I already know what they think of me, and what they're likely to do to my people.