Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Post-Election Wrap Part III

And now, some thoughts on Mr. Obama.

First of all, let me quickly move through the whole 'first Black president' thing. I feel like a bunch of us are patting ourselves on the back, busting with pride because 'look what we did' over here. Hmmm. Of course it's a milestone, for him and the country, but truthfully, when you look into the details of how all that happened, it isn't the exponential leap for mankind that some would purport. Lots and lots of people voted for him (and against him) based on race, and that's really the truth. So while most of his supporters would like to beat the drum of 'transcending race' with this candidate, we really didn't. The racial aspect drove certain behaviors that resulted in his election -- 98% of Blacks voted for him (which alone wouldn't get him elected), but add that to an adequate percentage of Whites who voted for him because he is not George W. Bush, and that definitely provided enough votes to put him in office.

Another thing -- and something no one seems to want to talk about -- Obama is as much White as he is Black, and perhaps a bit more. It appears that the only Black influence on him may have been in the form of sperm, since he is the product of a Black father who did not hang around for long and a White mother who was a bit of a free spirit, disappearing from time to time, while his White grandparents raised him (mostly). Obama does not share the typical Black experience in America -- he grew up mostly in Hawaii, not an inner-city ghetto; he attended prestigious schools (Columbia, Harvard, etc.). So while we can talk about the color of his skin, neither his DNA nor his life experience even remotely resembles 99% of the Black population in America. And yes, he's just as much White as he is Black, but it's a lot less sexy to look at it that way. I felt the same way about Halle Berry being the first Black actress to win an Oscar -- people went out of their way to ignore the fact that she was raised by a mother who is whiter than snow.

One other thing his supporters would have us all believe is that Obama brought out voters in unprecedented numbers, in droves never seen before. In reality, only 1% more of the population voted than in 2004, something like 62% to 61%. So while, yes, that's more, it's not like it was a monumental increase. It didn't even break a record. So in historic context, it wasn't that big of a deal really.

And then there were the 55 million people who voted against him -- I don't have statistics on this, but I would bet that at least some of them voted not for John McCain, but against the Black guy, so again, race played a role. And isn't that just the way things go in the world? So while some would like to put on airs and act like we did something special in this election, I don't really think that's the truth, and I doubt many thinking people are buying that premise.

My next thought on Obama is that we truly don't know who he is. First, the press never vetted him. He was given an unprecedented free ride by the media during most of the campaign. So in the past, we've been able to rely on the press causing any and everything about a candidate to surface and be examined, but not this time. They simply wouldn't do it. It was like a conspiracy to grease the skids on putting their man in office, and no matter what legitimate question about Obama's past came up, it was quickly buried by the mainstream media and the person raising the question was immediately attacked.

And in addition to the ongoing question mark in the press, we saw several different Obamas. In the primaries, he ran to the Left and beat out Hillary Clinton to get his party's nomination. As soon as he hit the general election against McCain, he suddenly moved center and tried to sound like a moderate in all his stump speeches. And looking back, if one does review his voting record in both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, he was the most liberal-voting Senator on record. So past actions indicate a hard Leftist, while stump speeches portrayed a moderate. And since the press was on no mission for the truth about this, we still have no idea what we'll get in a real live President from Mr. Obama. It's a total crapshoot. Hard to believe over 60 million people were willing to go with a crapshoot on this, but that's just more proof that other factors like race and Bush hatred played a major role in his election.

And here's something that really bothered me about the Obama phenomenon, and not so much him, but in the behavior of some of his followers. The whole 'he's our messiah' thing was just too much. People turned him into some fantasy saviour superhero of the world, pinning all sorts of hopes and dreams on him, assigning all sorts of super powers to this one man, a politician. The looney end of the spectrum got out of control with it, and we started to see some really OTP things -- children chanting, songs being sung, art being created, Obama depicted as Jesus -- and the thing that came to mind for me, the only other time I recall seeing that sort of behavior and response -- was in the era of Hitler and the Nazis. *shiver* There was an Obama fever in the left-leaning part of the population that resulted in the same types of behaviors and displays I've read about in history books from Nazi Germany in the 1940s. And I find that VERY disturbing. We'd all like to think we are so different from them, that we learned from that; that it could never happen again. But the hard Left behavior during this election helped me to see how all that happened in the past and, if left unchecked, could happen again. And I find that extremely unsettling for all of us.

Adding one cultural note -- I will say this about the race factor -- though this is not a huge milestone to me personally, it probably truly is for the African American community. And if Obama's election has enabled African Americans to see their lives differently, to truly believe they've broken through a barrier now, then I find value in that. If his election has moved us past a view in the Black public mindset that this is a racist country in which a Black person cannot hope to get ahead, then that's valuable to the culture. I would say to those people -- see, regardless of what you thought, the only force really holding you back was yourself -- but they would have never believed that until now (and many still won't). And so it is probably a very big deal for that sector of society, and if it helps to move them forward in any way, it has value to us all. I think it will be difficult now for them to legitimately claim or truly believe that America is a racist country, since it took the votes of a many non-Blacks to put Obama in office.

And so...he is...headed for office.

Even though he wasn't 'my guy' in this election, in general, I find Obama to be likeable, and I do have admiration for him in certain regards. I very much like the idea of a young Black guy in office, vs. the typical old white guy...I really do. It feels fresh. And I love the idea of having young children living in the White House -- it has a feeling of new beginnings to it. I am, however, very concerned about Obama's lack of experience -- he really, truly doesn't have any, no matter what they may argue. He's spent most of his career either administering social programs or running for office. I feel that he has good intentions (who doesn't?) but he just doesn't know what he doesn't know, and the rest of us will have to suffer for that. And then there are the policies he touted during the election which I cannot agree with -- his tax policies, his views on abortion, his naivety on national security -- we seem to be polar opposites on the things that really matter. So while I like the 'idea' of Obama and admire certain things about him, I can't get past his liberal voting record and the policies he embraced during the campaign. My only hope is that, like most other politicians, he won't make good on any of his promises while in office and will be forced to move to the center on most everything, since that's where the majority of the country lies.

And so, in January, we start anew with a fresh administration. I am hopeful that he will do the right thing, but I am fearful of his naivete and of the vicious Democrat political dogs in power on the Hill -- Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and others -- who have a robust liberal agenda and are prepared to try to shove a lot of policy change down the throats of most of us who sit in the middle. I do hope Obama has a spine and can battle those two. My fear is that he neither has the will nor the inclination to do it, but we'll go into it hoping for the best. He seems to be a rather pragmatic guy, not an idealogue, so the bodes well for him listening to a lot of differing opinions and thinking things through. So we'll hope for the best.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Election Wrap-Up - Part II

I've had a hard time gathering my thoughts on the Presidential election this year. There are many, and they continue to evolve as the post-election dust settles, so it's hard to distill them into something succint and meaningful, but I'll try. Here goes.

Sarah Palin. To begin with, I am amazed that the mere mention of her name can send some people into an immediate rage. For someone who's been in the national psyche for only about 120 days now, it's fascinating to me that she can evoke that sort of reaction. Half the country's been in the grip of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) for the last five years; suddenly they've switched gears into PDS (Palin Derangement Syndrome), and it only took her about 30 days to accomplish that. Definite proof that she is a force to contend with. Well done, I say.

Let's see.....Sarah Palin. First of all, regardless of how badly the press wants us to believe it, this is not a stupid woman. She couldn't possibly be. This is a woman who has raised/is raising 5 children (a daunting feat in itself), including a special needs child. And while doing that, she's managed to become the governor of the largest state in the union, all on her own. She did not ride the coattails of any man to get there -- not a husband, not a father, nobody. She also did not come from money, power, celebrity or any other form of societal influence. Her rise is an amazing feat, and (one would think) especially in Alaska -- likely not the most progressive of thinkers in terms of the role of a woman in society, so it was probably even harder to crash through the glass ceiling there. Imagine how many men she had to outsmart, outthink, outplay to get where she is today. Well done again, I say. And no, regardless of what you may think of her, this is NOT a stupid woman. As a career woman, climbing my way through a man's world, I recognize this and can fully appreciate it.

I understand the media's crusade to paint her as incompetent -- they wouldn't do that if they didn't fear her so much. They understand that she is a force, and one that threatens the hard Left, so she must be destroyed. Got it. But what I don't understand is the hate, the absolutely vile and shameless reaction -- from the so-called 'feminists' -- to her very presence. Why so much anger and hate? Why the vulgar reaction? Why aren't they able to respect her accomplishments but respectfully disagree with her views? As women, they should have respect for what she's done, the climb she's achieved, yet be able to state calm disagreement with her views. Instead, they go back to Junior High behavior and resort to the lowest of attacks -- on her looks, her clothes, her accent, her family. I've never seen so many 'adults' instantaneously melt into such childish, playground behavior with the name-calling and rumor-mongering and attempts at personal destruction, all because they don't agree with her views. Wow. And all this from the "party of tolerance", as they would have us believe. Yes, tolerant, but only as long as you don't disagree with them. Hypocrites, all, and this has 'outed' them on it.

I've never been both so proud and so embarrassed by the behavior of women, all at once. Proud that a more traditional woman like Sarah Palin can legitimately rise to the top, and embarrassed at the behavior of women who spat on her and threw the equivalent of temper tantrums over it. In my opinion, these so-called "progressive" woman have set women in general back by twenty years with that reaction and behavior. Can we really be taken seriously now? Debatable. Despite all contention to the contrary, women aren't really "for women". Apparently, we're only "for women" who think like we do. Find one that doesn't, and she's matter what she's accomplished. Or so it goes with the hard Left women's constituency in this country. If you're not hard and you're not Left, you're not legitimate.

As for Sarah Palin as a candidate -- I admire her. I actually agree with many of her views. Oh go ahead, denigrate me for it. Let me apologize if I've offended you with my values and convictions. But I do believe in smaller government, personal accountability, low taxes, free markets, strong national security and the value of life. Yes, the value of life. And isn't that last item really the crux of it all? Isn't that where all the hate came from? Her views on life? Oh sure, they'll say they don't like Sarah Palin because she's stupid, she tried to ban books, she's a religious zealot, she's practiced witchcraft, she speaks in tongues and on and on (none of which is true, by the way), but isn't their real issue with her that she wouldn't abort her Downs Syndrome baby, and that she values the sanctity of life? Let's just get it out there -- the real elephant in the room. And ooh -- how awful -- someone who believes that each life is precious and that each child has something to offer to the world. What a horrid woman! Well, sorry folks, but I admire her views on that and her willingness to stand up and say that. I feel very, very strongly that someone has to be for the babies, for the innocent lives. We can call it a 'choice'; we can call it 'reproductive rights' or whatever other label people want to put on it to spare themselves the ugliness. But it doesn't change what it is -- one of the most horrible and vile actions ever concocted by the human race, and I cannot support it. Like I said, go ahead, call me names, attack my intelligence, my looks, my family, whatever. But the truth is that I am a modern woman, successful, educated, intelligent and energetic -- and I believe in life. So go ahead, shun me, call me stupid, eject me from the 'feminist' club. I can deal with it. But guess what -- I don't think I'm the only one out here. The ugly little secret is that there are quite a few educated, intelligent, successful women who do believe in the value of life. But they want to keep a lid on us....which is why they hated Sarah Palin so much, because she represented their biggest threat -- a woman who made it without giving up her values and convictions. Yes, ladies, it can be done.

Do I think Sarah Palin was ready to be President? No. But she might have been ready to be Vice President, basically a nothing job unless #1 goes down. It actually would have been a great learning experience for her, to watch the Presidential sausage-making from the front lines, assuming John McCain had a healthy 4-8 years in office. Palin has proven to be a fast study. I don't think it'd be long before she'd picked up enough savvy in the VP position to be competent in the top job, should it come to that. And I don't think we've seen that last of her. She'll be back. In her final days of the campaign, she was giving a speech and raising $1M a stop. $1M a stop! There's some power associated with that, ladies and gentleman. This is not a woman who will simply disappear.

For me, Sarah Palin is the first female political figure on a national level that I can really relate to. Good or bad, she looks the most like me. Most of the others have been so far Left or just so angry and bitter, I couldn't relate to them, especially not as women. But something about her struck a chord -- and not just with me, but apparently with 55 million other people -- because of her authenticity and her sense of 'normalness'. It was one of those rare cases when "one of us" rose above it all. And let's face it -- she's the person the founding fathers had in mind when they put a representative government in place over 200 years ago. Their intention was for regular people to govern us, not monarchs, career politicians or elitists. As William F. Buckley said, he would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the Boston phone book than by the entire staff of academicians at Harvard. Well, Sarah Palin is one of those people, one of us, and in these tumultuous times full of career politicians, that seems like a refreshing change. I mean, look at the state of things -- how much worse could she do, really?

I do know this -- the media, the hard Left, feminists, Hollywood and half the country had a knee jerk reaction to Sarah Palin. She's a lightning rod. There's almost no one who doesn't have a strong opinion about her (and after only 120 days, which is fascinating). And I also realize this -- if they don't like Sarah Palin....they wouldn't like me either. It's an odd feeling to think that at least half the country would hate your guts if you were to ever be put in a national spotlight like that. On the other hand, I don't think I'll lose any sleep over it. Being liked is highly overrated.

And there will have to be a Part III on Mr. Obama...yet to come.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not Part II -- Yet

I've been trying to find some time to gather my thoughts and post Election Wrap Part II, and life has been way too busy for that lately, but I do have time for a quick post about other things.

I just returned from New York City. Two days, business trip. It's amazing -- sometimes that city can be completely annoying and sometimes it's fabulous. This trip? Fabulous, absolutely. I had a ball, despite actually getting some productive business done.

There was just something about New York this week. Not sure what it was. It was unseasonably cold out, but the people of the city were unseasonably warm and friendly, and that so added to the enjoyment of the city.

I spent two days and a night there. Arrived at the office on Tuesday around noon -- 5th Ave address, next to the original Saks, across the street from Rockefeller Center -- could the location be any sweeter? Answer: No.

I met colleagues, worked all afternoon, broke for a coffee around 4pm and headed over to the corner Starbucks which was brimming over with other busy worker bees also taking a coffee break. A swirling mass of black wool coated New Yorkers queuing up for coffee and pastries, no doubt being repeated at every Starbucks in Manhattan at the very same moment.

After work, we walked to a lovely Italian restaurant somewhere near 3rd Ave & 50th. Belissimo! The later it got, the more the locals dropped in, so we knew it was a find.

After dinner, I took a cab back to my hotel at Broadway and W 44th, where I ascended 49 floors to look out at Gotham glistening below me. It was a sight, a feeling, a moment to be caressed, to be standing there above it all, just gazing at it, like I owned it; it was mine. At least for the night, from the 49th floor, it was. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

Next morning, I got up and walked to work, like a New Yorker. At lunch, we walked through the frigid weather to one of a zillion fabulous neighborhood deli's and had Japanese Udon soup. Delicious. And the best part? I finished work early, my boss caught an early flight, and I was left to my own devices to explore the City until 9pm, when my flight took off.

Not one to toss away an opportunity like that, I quickly pranced over to Park Ave & 50th and checked my luggage with the bell captain at the Waldorf Astoria so I could stalk the shops of Manhattan properly. Fifth, Park, Madison...I made a beeline through them all, ogling the store windows, taking it all in. Stopped by Rockefeller Center to see them working on the tree -- it's not lit yet, but soon. Hit Saks on 5th and came out with a lovely bottle of Coco Chanel I've been pining for (I could buy that in Dallas or in Boca Raton, but there's something more glamorous about buying Chanel at Saks on Fifth ave, isn't there?)

I walked through the busy streets, people hurrying home from work, traffic tying up, cabbies to and fro, just taking in the city. Twinkling lights, Christmas decorations, bells being rung on the streets, chestnuts roasted and sold on corners -- I loved it -- a small window of time for just the two of us -- me and the City -- and I couldn't help but feel a bit of Carrie Bradshaw all the while.

Ironically, as the plane took off from La Guardia and circled over Manhattan, I got to watch the city twinkle from much higher than 49 floors...and what was on the airplane TV? Sex and the City.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Election Wrap-Up - Part I

Number one: I'm glad it's over.

Number two: My guy didn't win.

Number three: Even though my guy didn't win, we have a new President, and he will be my President, even though I didn't vote for him. So no real bitterness here, but I do have some lingering thoughts:

1. John McCain. I say this without a historian's context, but I'm fairly confident that there has probably never been a candidate more qualified to be President than John McCain. He served valiantly in a very unpopular war, ending up in a POW camp in Vietnam for five long years, where he was repeatedly tortured. He had his arms broken multiple times (which is why to this day he cannot raise his arms above his shoulders). When they tried to force him to divulge the names of other soldiers, he broke down and gave them names -- the names of the starting line of a professional football team. When he was offered the chance to be released from the camp early -- before others who had been there longer than him -- he turned it down and remained captive for another three long years. This is indeed an honorable man, a man with uncommon valour, a man who clearly loves his country and his fellow Americans more than himself.

McCain went on to serve for 30+ years in the U.S. House and Senate. Is he old? Yep. But the man has history under his belt -- he was there during the Reagan years, for God's sake....the Cold War....when the wall fell...and for every administration and every major foreign policy challenge since. He has always served proudly and always stood for something larger than himself.

I'll say it again -- I believe there has probably never been a candidate more qualified to be President than John McCain. Then why didn't he win? Unfortunately, the most qualified of candidates can be poor campaigners; they can often be less exciting and less charismatic than those less qualified (he was) and, in his defense, he had some pretty big hills to climb -- the unpopularity of his party, the timing of the souring economy, the phenomenon of Obamamania everywhere, including the press. There were just too many things working against him. And it's a shame, because nobody deserved the office more than John McCain.

2. Joe Biden. To me, Joe Biden is the forgotten man in this election. Biden has been in the Senate, in the same job for 35 years. He represents the state of Delaware -- a group of nice folks, I'm sure -- but certainly not a major state or impactive constituency. Joe's just been elected and re-elected over and over and over again, and he's been in the same job all this time because he simply can't do anything else. He's a blowhard, a bore and a Beltway joke. When Obama selected him, most of us chuckled (and groaned). And if anything was proven about any of the candidates in this election, it is what a complete idiot Joe Biden really is. Though the press would like for us to believe the dummy VP candidate was Sarah Palin, in reality it was Joe Biden. You just didn't hear about it because he's such a yawner. And for someone who's been around as long as he has, he sure doesn't know much. He gifted us with a gaffe a day on the campaign trail. He had his foot in his mouth more often than he didn't. In fact, in his televised debate with Sarah Palin, he came off as a golden-tongued debator (a master-debator, perhaps?), at least until minutes afterwards, when the pundits pointed out that despite all his eloquence and bravado, most of his answers were wrong. And not just slightly wrong, but ridiculously wrong. Big ones, like foreign policy questions. Even Palin got those right. So if there's anyone to really fear in all this, it's Joe Biden. The man is a walking stooge. He has a huge ego, a massive temper and bad hair plugs. Ugh. Pray very hard that it's never HIS finger on 'the button'.

And ole Joe clearly backs this notion of playing Robin Hood -- taking from the rich to give to the poor -- yet when his own records of charitable contributions are reviewed, it's clear he doesn't buy his own bull -- he's given almost nothing -- nada -- to charity over the past how many years. So not only is he an idiot, he's a hypocrite. He's all for giving YOUR money away, just not HIS. So much for 'change' in Washington. Nice pick, Mr. Obama.

Part II with my thoughts on both Obama and Palin coming soon.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pure Garbage

I've been purposely not shopping. Trying to keep the budget in line, trying to work with what's already in my closet, trying to forego the fall fashion scene. But this past weekend, I hit my limit. When I couldn't find anything decent to wear, I broke down and decided to go do a little shopping.

Not a major outing, mostly a search for some casual tops to wear with jeans, a few long sleeves to take me through light fall days, because what's currently in my closet is either sleeveless (tanks, strappies, sleeveless tees) or turtleneck sweaters. Nothing in between, except for the tops that have gotten too short and wide after 10 washings.

What is it about casual tops? They never become too long and narrow to wear, always too short and wide. And I am a tall lady, so this is particularly annoying. How does that happen, anyway? Why does everything shrink in that same direction so suddenly? One day it's fine, and the next, the shrinkage fairy has struck. Suddenly, something that fit last week is now too wide for my torso, and too short to touch the top of my jeans. I don't get that.

So anyway, I went out to do a little shopping, and you know what? I couldn't find a damn thing to buy. I have never seen so much trash in my life. Things that are just awful! Bad design, cheap fabric, awful fit, poor quality. Everywhere.

I thought...I'm in the wrong shops....the good stuff must be at a higher price point. Time to upgrade! So I did, and it simply got worse. It was just more bad stuff, with higher price tags.

Who are these buyers? What are they thinking? Who do they think they're dressing with this crap?

I spent an entire afternoon in one of the top shopping plazas in town, and I came away with nothing. NOTHING, I tell you!

Dallas, we have a problem.