Thursday, 25 September 2008

Stop the Stupid and Other Random Thoughts!

I am still not on the "downside" of this High Holiday nonsense, so unfortunately (or fortunately if you are so inclined!) I must continue with my abbreviated forms of postings. I am hopeful that the light is at the end of this tunnel and that I will return to my former self within a few short weeks. (The husband is also hopeful that the raging bitch that he has been living with for the last few weeks is on her way out the door!!) Both of the progeny are undoubtedly very grateful (say a few Modims boys!!) that they are way outside of the firing line this Yom Tov season. And so, I offer a few stop the stupids and a few random thoughts as we approach 5769!

1. Sarah Palin. If it wasn't so serious, the woman would be positively comical. It has been more than four weeks since her nomination, and the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee still has not faced down a real press conference. Her appearance last evening with Katie Couric was truly embarrassing. She could not come up with a single example of how John McCain has fought to control the nightmare that has become Wall Street. She visibly squirmed at Katie's questioning of how seeing Russia from her porch qualifies her in any way to speak to foreign policy issues. This woman could very well be the president of the United States within 4 years and they are protecting her like she is has the Colonel's secret recipe. There is now the very real possibility that we may see the postponement of the Vice-Presidential debate, due to her running mate's Hail Mary campaign suspension. The people need to hear from this woman. Enough already. Either she is ready or she is not, but it is time to find out. Stop the Stupid!!!

2. In the interest of equal time. Politicians of all stripes cannot seem to keep their mouths in check. Case in point, Senator Joe Biden, the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee. Yesterday, during an interview with the aforementioned Ms. Couric, Mr. Biden ranted about the lack of leadership that the Dumbass in the Oval was displaying during this economic crisis. Comparing the present with the past, Biden yelped, "In 1929 when the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt went on television and reassured the nation that things would be ok. He showed true leadership." Mr. Biden! Franklin Roosevelt wasn't the president in 1929, Herbert Hoover was. Not only that, there weren't a whole lot of televisions in US households in 1929, there were radios. OY!! So stupid!

3. Random thought! What is up with our passport pictures? Ever since 9/11, it is required to have a passport to travel outside of the country. My passport is coming due at the end of January, and since I would like to NOT be here during the worst that winter has to offer, I am making efforts to renew it now. I have mentioned the hideous nature of my passport picture before. I have literally had ticket agents and customs officials laugh at my photo. Truly!! Laugh out laugh and to my face. One poor woman at La Guardia was reduced to a quivering idiot and kept apologizing to me for her unprofessional behaviour. I have waited 5 long years to replace this nightmare of a portrait. So, it was with true excitement that I prepared to have my mugshot snapped. The husband and I prepared to go on Monday, but I found myself dozing off for 20 minutes in the afternoon and as such, my hair was in a state of flux. The husband, understanding my angst (it has been 5 years in the making) agreed to put off our excursion for 24 hours. The picture, while not anything I would submit to Vogue is marginally better than the image of Shrek's grandmother that has adorned my passport for the past half-decade. If Homeland Security or the RCMP honestly believes that this is a facially recognizable vision of me, then have at it!! Honestly, I think we all look as though we have a chronic constipation problem.

4. Random thought deux! How does one get a bruise on the sole of the foot? Not the ball, toe or heel, but the instep sole! I managed this "feat" (pun intended) this week. I have no idea how I did it, all I know is that it hurt like the fires of hell!! This gruesome looking yellowish purple mark spread hideously across the bottom of my right foot and caused me to limp for several days. I don't remember stepping on anything! I am getting old. Not only can I not recall hurting myself, but I am now hurting myself in places that were unknown to me before. Shit! The world is a cruel place.

5. John McCain owns 13 cars! Explain to me how he can in good conscience call Obama elitist? Enough said!!

6. Does anyone here in Canada still care that we go to the polls in 2 1/2 weeks? Seems very quiet! Harper is stepping all over his tongue in tightly controlled news conferences and nobody seems to care. (Average Canadians apparently don't care about the arts!! Who knew?) The best we can hope for is another Conservative minority, but I am truly scared that the worst is yet to come. This man doesn't have a hidden agenda. It is out there for the world to see and people are still going to vote for him because we are truly devoid of options. Smarten up Canada!! Get involved and realize that neo-cons are the wave of the past not the future.

A couple of moments for personal thought! Happy Birthday Dad!! I know that 70 is an age that you really wanted to come and go without much fanfare, but I can only hope that I have as much going for me at 70 as you do. You are a pistol and I wouldn't want you any other way!! Much love always.

May the year 5769 bring with it health, happiness, love, friendship and smarter people in power in both countries!!!! May we all have sweetness and good times in our lives always.

Shana Tova U'm'tukah!!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Going Squirrelly in Suburbia!


A clarification right off of the top. I am not an animal hater. I rarely hold much animosity for our furry friends. It is true that I am not a member of PETA, nor do I wish to be, but I think that I possess a mild understanding that we two-legged creatures are merely sharing this planet with the four-legged type. We have encroached on their natural habitats and thus, we need to be mindful of the fact that they need to survive as best they can in the face of such natural calamities as strip malls, highways and subdivisions. My World Wildlife membership notwithstanding, I need some help in controlling the squirrel population that has invaded my property.

I have complained mightily in this space before about the unavoidable landlord/tenant relationship that I have with the squirrel community of north Toronto. Allow me to refresh your collective memories. We live on a tree line. When the houses were built many years ago, the integrity of the tree line was maintained so as to add to the beauty of the neighbourhood. It worked. It was certainly a selling point for us when we bought the house. As a result, we have numerous species of forestry dotting our property, including two very large oaks on the front lawn and a bosc pear tree in the back. When we first moved into the house, we were accompanied by our two boys and a very large, rambunctious and goofy yellow labrador retriever. Yellow dog took it as his responsibility to keep our property rodent-free, and as such we were not bothered by such nuisances as mice, raccoons, skunks, chipmunks or squirrels. God forbid that a bushy-tailed invader should set a toenail on the lawn! Yellow dog would bark like a maniac and chase the unfortunate creatures out of the area!! But, all life ends and we lost Yellow dog a few years back. I think that the rodent community held an underground party celebrating Yellow dog's demise, because ever since, my property has been the fruit and nut buffet of the squirrel world. The pears barely ripen before they are yanked off of the branches, nibbled on and tossed into the pool. As bad as that is, however it cannot hold a candle to the mess that theses pests are making of my oak trees.

It is acorn season in the Great White North and the squirrels are in squirrel nirvana! On any given day, my front lawn looks like Hurricane Squirrel has hit it. Whole branches and clumps of leaves are strewn all over the front of the house. Acorn shells and whole nuts litter the driveway. It resembles the shell bowl that my grandfather used to keep next to the nutcracker. The man who mows the grass and keeps the lawn neat was just here and the grass is already cluttered with the remnants of the midday squirrel meal. Worse yet, is how brazen these creatures have become. On Saturday morning as I went to retrieve the paper, I counted 7 (yes 7!!!!) of the miserable beasts brunching on my front walk. It got so bad that I actually resorted to barking like a dog in order to scare them off. I need help!! (Serious psychological care couldn't hurt either, but that is for another post!) I have presented this problem to several friends and the solutions are not what you would call squirrel-friendly. A rabbi friend of mine actually suggested a shotgun. When I pointed out to him that this wasn't exactly in the spirit of Torah, he replied that this is what they would do in the west where he was raised!! Wonderful! Gunslinging rabbi seeks work as squirrel terminator!!

Look. I don't want them dead or injured, I just want them gone from here. Don't give me poison recipes or slingshot designs. I just want to find a humane way to ask them to relocate!! I put it out to you, readers! Any ideas how to rid myself of the squirrels? I am truly going nuts!!! Big and brand new Yellow dog may be on the horizon, right husband?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Election Trivial Bullshit Edition of Stop the Stupid!!

Again, I am extremely pressed for time, so I will try and give you a few little hits for this week's edition of Stop the Stupid.

1. In attempting to discover how my newly legal Younger Son might register to vote in the upcoming federal election, I sought out help from the Elections Canada website. Since the FAQs didn't adequately answer my question, I sought to send them an email. After surfing through several pages, I finally came upon the address. Here is the kicker!! When I attempted to access the email, I was greeted with the message that all email to Elections Canada has been disabled until after the election!!! Huh? Isn't this their function? To answer questions from a confused public? Please don't deluge me with e-mail as to how Younger Son can vote. I figured that out on my own, no thanks to the geniuses in the civil service whose job it is to sort out election issues!!! They must think that election time is prime time for their holidays!!! STUPID!!

2. Yesterday, CNN took a full three minute segment out of their election coverage, to discuss the fashion statement that is Sarah Palin's eyeglasses. It seems as though the world at large is struck dumb with admiration over the governor's choice of ocular aids. So much so that they are sold out everywhere and there is a two month waiting list!! Tell me, why is this relevant to the election? Hasn't it become ridiculously apparent that as a society we are focusing on the trivial and ignoring the fact that this woman has yet to deal with a true Q and A? The United States is facing real problems in real world areas, and yet the focus is on stupidity like "lipstick on a pig" and her glasses! Wake up folks. You are electing the next president and vice president, not the next American Idol!!

3. Opinion polls have become a nuisance. I think that we should all take my father's approach. He and my mother have been up to their ears in polling for almost two months now, due to the fact that there was supposed to be a by-election in their riding before the general took hold. He decided that polling had become intrusive and inaccurate and he wanted to add to that ridiculousness. Whomever called his home, no matter which candidate or party they represented all received the same answer. "Can we count on your vote on election day?" "Absolutely!!" was my dad's response. Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green all think that there are 2 sure votes coming from my parents. I think that this is a hoot. The husband and I have taken to responding in kind. If they call or come to the door, they all have our support. I love this new poll-skewing power I have discovered. It make the whole stupid process a bit more palatable.

4. How hysterically funny was the SNL skit lampooning Hillary and Sarah? I literally laughed until I peed. Tina Fey was brilliant and she nailed it. Then comes news from Republican pundits that they think that by casting Sarah as an "airhead" it was truly sexist. I consider myself a feminist and honestly I cannot figure out why this was sexist. Biting? Yes!! Satirical? Absolutely!! But, sexist? I think that the Republicans are using this as yet another red herring designed to to divert our attention from the real issues. Maybe if Ms. Palin would adequately answer some real and tough questions, instead of only being cast in scripted interviews, she might adequately put to rest the idea that she isn't prepared for the job. (Doubt it!) Pay attention folks!! The economy, health care, the war, energy are the real deal. Stop with the trivial bullshit. It is time to get serious. As Arianna Huffington stated "Sarah Palin is a Trojan Moose concealing 4 more years of Bush."


Shabbat Shalom to all who observe!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Thank God for Mad Men!!

There is so much bullshit going on in the world today. As I have repeatedly documented, the elections on both sides of the border have truly turned into theatre of the absurd. The economic crisis is gut-churning. The traffic congestions, health care issues and pollution messes have become front burner causes. It is enough to make any thinking person plan their escape to Fantasy Island. I have discovered a far better tonic and it comes fresh to my television every Sunday evening at 10:00 pm. I speak of course, of the wondrous little jewel from AMC called Mad Men.

If you have yet to join the ranks of the "Mad Meniacs", I need to plug this phenomenal gem of a show. Last July, as the husband and I sloshed through the sewage that was summer television, we desperately searched (it seemed in vain) for anything that wasn't geared toward the dumbasses of our society. The reality dross and the DVD experience had exhausted our intelligence to the point that we began an internet search for something (anything!!) with a modicum of smarts. I stumbled across the first 6 episodes of Mad Men and we proceeded to watch them in succession without a break. In short, we were hooked from Don Draper's first leering glance and we have been like crack addicts ever since. It is like watching Shakespeare in Kennedyesque clothing! The writing and episode constructions are nothing short of brilliant and the acting is tour de force. Jon Hamm (the cool and calculating Mr. Draper) is perfection and the supporting cast is unbelievable, from the smarmy office suck-up Pete, to the on the-edge Mrs. Cleaver-like wife, Betty. I love the spot on sets and costumes (I think that we had some of the Draper furniture in our home in 1965!) and the realistic portrayals of sexism, racism, anti-semitism, smoking, drinking, and parenting. I have heard the criticism that there is no action and that the stories are slow to unfold, but I think that those people don't appreciate the subtle brilliance that is this show. True! There is no Tony Soprano ready to whack the world. Instead, there is the brilliant Robert Morse's character dispensing the wisdoms of lily-white 1960's America while in his stocking feet! True! There are no chase scenes or cops and robbers. Instead, there is the underlying struggle between the sexes and discovering who really possesses the power. I am absolutely transfixed this season as I am watching the pieces of Don's world slowly crumble. I can't wait for the next episode.

Usually, when I enjoy a show this much, it is doomed. (See Studio 60!!) This time, I think both AMC and I are in for the long haul. Mad Men is nominated for 16 Emmys this weekend. If you haven't yet added this wonderful viewing experience to your weekly habits, I urge you to do so. Go purchase season 1 on DVD and play catch up. It is certainly worth your time. Tell them, Dawn sent you!!!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Friday, 12 September 2008

An Abbreviated Stop the Stupid!!

Sorry folks!

Circumstances are forcing me to post only a very short Stop the Stupid this week. It isn't that I have lost interest. Far from it! This election season is proving quite fruitful. The mass of stupidity is overwhelming. No, on the contrary. I just am quite pressed for time until after the holidays, so here is the best that I can do with limited resources.

1. I sat to watch ABC News last evening to gauge the very first one on one with Sarah Palin. As a Canadian, I rarely watch American nightly news, simply because the shit that is happening in Toronto takes more immediacy, then the re-hashed half an hour from the networks. But Charlie Gibson scored the first Q and A with the Governor of my neighbour to the north, so I was fascinated. I must admit, that my liberal bullshit detector has been on full alert since her nomination, but I was intrigued so I tuned in. I am still convinced that John McCain hit the jackpot with this woman. I disagree with her on every single issue, but she comes across witty, engaging and she certainly knows how to memorize the talking points. (OK! So maybe she doesn't know what the Bush doctrine is and maybe she still thinks that Georgia is one state north of Florida, but she is a quick study!) But, she lost me when discussing the possibility of nuclear arms. I don't think I can take another possible 8 years of any government official mispronouncing the word NUCLEAR!! Mrs. Palin! The word is NUCLEAR not NUCULAR!!! Please, you sound absolutely stupid and uneducated when you mispronounce such a fundamental word. I don't think that it is quaint or that it brings you closer to the masses. It is just stupid.

2. This week saw lots of pigs wearing cosmetics. Who knew? I didn't realize that our farm animals like to dress in drag. Give me a break. Who honestly out there believes that Barack Obama was calling Sarah Palin porcine when he used this common, if not kind of odd expression. To make matters that much more ridiculous, both Dick Cheney and John McCain himself have used this term recently when discussing the opponents policies.



Come on people. This is yet another distraction from the Republicans. They want you to worry about things like supposed sexism, media bias and Cindy's wardrobe, so that you will not focus on the real issues, like the war, economy and 4 more years of Bush policy. Please, my American friends. This is truly lipstick on a pig!!!

3. Not to be outdone, my countrymen have survived the first week of the politicking for our own federal election. So much is ridiculous, I hardly know where to start. How about Mr. Harper and Mr. Layton (as far apart on the political spectrum as two leaders could get) actually joining forces to keep the Green Party out of the televised debates. I am not really sure what they were afraid of. Dissatisfaction with the established party choices? NAH!!!! While it is true that the Greens have no shot whatsoever at forming the next government, they have met all the previously stated criteria for participation in the debates, including a newly minted sitting MP. The public backlash was intense even from within the Conservative and NDP ranks. Finally, the dreaded FLIP-FLOP! The Green leader will now be present for the debates. If nothing else has come of this, the manner in which televised debates are organized needs to be rethought. It needs to become part of the election rules and laws, as opposed to leaving it to the private television consortium that could be rampant with special interests. Thank goodness sanity prevailed over stupidity.

4. Stupid is the price of gas. Oil has dropped worldwide to just over one hundred dollars (US) a barrel, yet there is a disconnect between that and the price at the pumps. Last night gas in the GTA rose $0.13 a litre. HUH? Hurricane Ike hasn't even hit yet and we are faced with a 13 cent hike? WTF? Citizens on both sides of the border, I urge you to question your candidates about a coherent energy policy.

Shabbat Shalom to all who observe.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

My Work is Interfering With My Blogging!!

It just seems so patently unfair! Just when the North American political scene is heating up and offering so much material for me to discuss, (a puffin shitting on the shoulder of Liberal leader Stephane Dion is just too synergistic for words!) I have barely a minute to commit thought to keyboard. For example, I haven't been able to muse about how John McCain looks slightly leering when he watches Sarah Palin deliver her stump (or is it rump?) speech. Watch him next time. He is staring at her ass!! He tries not to, but his dirty old man-eyes are constantly shifting downward. I haven't been able to comment on the asinine reporter who asked Prime Minister Harper this Barbara Walteresque question on the campaign trail. "Mr. Harper, if you could be one vegetable, which one would you be?" Poor Stephen. He looked positively dumbfounded. He couldn't even come up with a pithy response like "Hey potato head!! We are meat eaters in Alberta!!!" I have many a thought on the exclusion of the Green Party from the national debate, but I cannot utter my disgust! No, my blogging has taken a direct hit due to the upcoming High Holidays. I am positively swamped with Jew music and projects for our services. I have been in this game for many years, but for some reason it always sneaks up on my like a stealth bomber. It doesn't matter if Rosh Hashana falls early in the fall or later, (as is the case this year) I am constantly feeling as though I am the slow kid in the race.

Rabbis and cantors are partners in the High Holiday experience. But, I have come to realize that this is not an equal partnership. Sorry, rabbis!!! You work hard and stress hard, but you have nothing on us. We cantors and soloists are the ones with the gut-churning, acne-inducing and hair-losing job!! Allow me to count the ways.

1. It is true that rabbis are responsible for sermonizing and it is also true that many High Holiday congregants judge their service-going experience on the rabbi's 20 minute oration. But, come on!! There should be no shortage of sermon ideas out there, given the majesty of the holidays, the political climate, the attempt to draw people back to Judaism, the social agenda of the speaker, Israel and her issues, or Jewish practice. Not only that, the net has opened up a sermon-sharing world with resources that are infinite. The cantor, on the other hand is charged with updating the service music on a yearly basis. They need to energize the worship experience with new melodies, all the while protecting the beloved tunes that the congregation just cannot do without. The hunt for new music often begins as soon as the holidays end so that they can be vetted, rehearsed, ripped to shreds, rehearsed some more, discarded because of poor response, resurrected, rehearsed again and finally polished for the day! A year long process that beats out the rabbi's month-long sermon writing.

2. The rabbi works in solitary confinement. His or her sermon preparations are done in isolation and other than sharing with a few trusted confidants, doesn't need to perform until opening night. The cantor's preparations are done in both private and public. He or she must perfect the piece individually and then attend various rehearsals with a litany of musicians, accompanists, and choirs in order to achieve the desired sound. In volunteer organizations such as mine, most of these rehearsals are held in the evenings or weekends extending my day far beyond the norm. (That said, I am eternally grateful for every single member of my choir, music staff and my director. They are exceptionally devoted people who do what they do for the love of it, and not the glory! Yes, I am sucking up!!! I NEED these people desperately!!!!!) Ok! I will give points to the rabbi because they still have to carry on the day to day job of being a rabbi, while still preparing for the holidays. Weddings, funerals and B'nai Mitzvah do not take vacations in September.

3. The rabbi has readers to spell him during the service. Honours are given to lay people to participate in the service, and the rabbi can sit back and take a breather for several minutes during the worship. Where are my breathers? Nobody can spell me. I would love to take a break or two, but I haven't yet found the congregant willing to come up and sing Avinu Malkeinu or Kol Nidre for me!!

4. Most prayer is sung. The rabbi basically becomes a member of the congregation during the T'fillah. I need to be physically strong, in shape and of massive voice or else the prayer falls flat! God forbid I sound like a frog! The rabbi can suffer from a slight cold and still deliver with vigour. Not so, the cantor. Trust me! It is nerve-wracking to sing to 1300 critics.

5. The cantor, by virtue of her constant participation in the service, becomes a de-facto stage manager. We keep the whole production together. I follow the list of honours, the order of the choir pieces, the added music, the anthems, the songleading, whether or not there are matches for the candles, the Torah settings, spotting the Hebrew readers etc. In short, the whole balagan falls on me to navigate. The rabbi is responsible for his/her sermon!

6. The cantor needs to deliver emotion, spirituality, and pizzazz all while looking out onto a sea of congregants expecting to be moved. Pressure cooker!!

So, please excuse me if my blogging becomes a bit more scattered over the next month. My work is interfering with my hobby. I will try and keep up as best as I can, but I think I need a ghost writer. Maybe I should ask the rabbi.

Disclaimer!!!

This post was not intended to paint any specific rabbi in a negative light. I love rabbis! I love my rabbi! i love working with my rabbi! I hope that when he reads this, we are still friends. I just wanted to illustrate how nuts my life has been and how much more nuts it will become in the upcoming weeks. NOT TO BE TAKEN PERSONALLY OR LITERALLY!!!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Election Apathy?

So it finally happened here in the Great White North. The writ was dropped! Sounds like the opening minutes of some strange Canadian sporting event, and I suppose one could view it in that manner. No, instead we Canadians like our American brethren,
will be headed to the polls this fall for a federal election. Excited? Enthusiasm? It is seeping from every pore in my body as I type these words. (I certainly hope that you all have learned to recognize my sarcastic tone!!) Personally, I couldn't give a rat's ass about this election. There are numerous reasons for my apathy.

1. I have learned to like the checks and balances of our minority government. Paralysis in government can be a good thing, especially when one fears the party in power.

2. We Canadians do not enjoy the regularity of fixed election dates. We should!! The current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper actually passed legislation when he first came into office guaranteeing us that we wouldn't have to go to the polls until October of 2009! Funny how the juices of political opportunity change when the smell of majority is near. Thus we are voting federally for the third time in six years. This is in addition to the municipal and provincial elections that we have had to endure over the past two years. Truly, I am voted out!!

3. Have you ever seen a more boring slate of candidates. While our cousins to the south are currently engaged in their "election for the ages", we staid and dull Canucks are fielding a group of white, middle aged XYers with nary a funny bone among the lot. The one party leader that possess the XX, is struggling just to get her face on network TV for the debates.

Rather than debate the issues, which will get much air play over the next 35 days, I thought that I would instead, demonstrate the radical differences in the way that Canadians and Americans advertise their parties. You guys have all the pizzazz. We look more like flat diet soda!!!

Here is a really nice John McCain ad!


Shows the GOP candidate in a nice light with his 96 year old mother. Cozy, warm and makes him look younger next to the old girl!

Now try this ad from the Canadian Tories!!



Note the Canadian flag flying high! The height of patriotism. Trouble is we are not generally an overtly patriotic lot. It takes a lot to get us to bleed both red and white. I especially like the image of Mr. Harper in a sweater vest. Who is he trying to be, Mr Rogers? Let's face it! This guy looks like a tight ass in his pressed Levis!! If this is the warmth that they are going for, they better accept the status quo minority that is staring them in the face.

Now from the Stephane Dion Liberals!!

AD!

Sorry for the link, but this is the only ad that the Liberals have so far released and they are so technically backwards, that embedding was impossible!!

Note the Canadian flag flying high! The height of patriotism. Deja vu? The Liberal party is trying to get us to go green!! Way to go, except that their leader is inarticulate in English!! Did any of you understand a word he said at the end of the ad? He could be selling a wonderful environmental policy, or reporting the hockey scores for all we know!! Certainly, not the apex of inspiration.

Finally we have Barack Obama!



What a hoot. Love the music. The images are hysterical and the message is clear. Not only is it smart, it is biting. I want Barack Obama to run for Prime Minister of Canada.

I have never missed a vote since I was legally able to cast the ballot and I don't intend to start now. But, surely these guys had better sharpen their messages, else I will be voting for the XX!! A distinct possibility.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Sarah Palin Edition of Stop the Stupid!!

Look what happened! I take a little vacation and all hell breaks loose south of the border. Honestly! You would have thought that the moshiach had arrived given all of the dust that has been kicked up over McCain's choice of the governor of Alaska as his running mate. While surprising in its curve ball approach to politics, you have to give the Republican nominee points for disrupting Senator Obama's news cycle. The Dems were coming off of an enormous high last Thursday. Their convention could not have gone better, and they walked away from Denver with the image of Barack and Hillary walking arm and arm off into the sunset. And then.....a cold wind blew in from the north! There has been so much coverage this week about the Republicans attempt to write their own history with the nomination of Ms. Palin, that everything else seems to have disappeared. So, here is my attempt to stop the stupidity surrounding Sarah Palin.

1. While the choice of the first woman to run on a Republican ticket is a tremendous accomplishment, (it only took them 88 years since suffrage to recognize over 50% of the population, and more than 20 years since Geraldine Ferrarro's nomination!!) I find it thoroughly demeaning to think that women will automatically vote for this ticket simply because of her presence. Certainly, she has energized the base of the party, but those women were going to vote Republican anyway. As to the blatant manipulation of attempting to draw in disaffected Hillary voters? I don't see it. Those women supported Senator Clinton because of her policies on universal health care, pro-choice, minimum wage increases and environmental concerns. In short, she is diametrically opposed to everything that Sarah Palin has built her career on!! Women never have and never will vote with one voice. To expect that they will en masse flock to Ms. Palin simply because she possesses the correct body parts is an affront to the intelligence of the woman voter!! I don't recall any pundit out there dissecting the effect of Barack Obama's or John McCain's "manhood" on the male vote. Let's get these idiots into the 21st century and stop stupidly trying to assess what women will do.

2. While I am on the subject of the media, I was astounded at the coverage. When I first heard the news of the possibility of her nomination, I was watching CNN from a motel room in Indianapolis. The rumour had still not been confirmed, but it was out there. John Roberts (or J.D as we Canadians still call him from his VJ days on CITY TV!!) actually had the gall in his first reporting on the governor, to tell the audience about her beauty pageant experience and show a 25 year old picture that made it appear as though she was topless!! Then CNN went a step further as to actually question her abilities, because it takes so much time to be the mother of a child with special needs!! Chris Matthews on MSNBC actually called her "that gal from Alaska"!! The Wall Street Journal actually has an in depth article about her fitness program! HUH? There have been musings about whether a mother of five might have the requisite amount of time to take on the second highest office in the USA!! Barack Obama has publicly stated that one of his biggest regrets in this campaign is that he has only seen his daughters for about ten days in the last year!! I don't hear any media-types questioning his abilities as a father or how it might impact him if he is elected!! Not only that, but if I hear one more commentary on how attractive she is, I might walk through a plate glass window!!! Didn't we get through all of this misogyny shit when Hillary was running? Didn't these assholes learn anything about covering a woman politician? I happen to disagree with Sarah Palin on almost every issue that is out there today, but the fact that she is a woman, wife or mother has absolutely no bearing on her abilities to do the job. Grow up, people! This is more than stupid. It is positively insulting!!

3. How disingenuous is it for the McCain campaign to blame the press for all of their woes concerning the Palin pick? This was a decision that was extremely different, certainly not on anyone's radar and never properly vetted!! How else is the media supposed to react when they have been given absolutely zero information to work with? John McCain has enjoyed one of the coziest relationships with the press in recent political history. They have fallen all over themselves to make him look like the "maverick" candidate for the last 8 years. Now that he is actually running and has chosen an out of the box running mate, the press is finally doing their due-diligence. Whenever politicians run into trouble, they play the blame the media card. Give me a break!! This guys use and manipulate the press into willing accomplices for their own purposes and then have the nerve to blame them when things are looking a bit bleak? Stupid and manipulative!!

4. While I happen to agree with the premise that Ms. Palin's daughter and her impending pregnancy is a private family issue, I think that it is okay to question the governor on her policies and ideas. I find it interesting that while her 17 year old daughter is 5 months pregnant and Ms. Palin and her husband have stepped up with both emotional and physical help, many young girls are not blessed with the same kind of familial support. The Washington Post published this little item on Wednesday.
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."
Nice? Governor Palin, not all young single mothers have the same opportunities that you are affording your own daughter. They need help. This is the height of hypocrisy and stupidity!!

4. So while we are at it, let's look at Sarah Palin's stances on other issues. She is a fierce opponent of a woman's right to choose. (unless of course that choice is for a 17 year old to keep an unplanned pregnancy!!) She is a member of the group Feminists For Life, a group dedicated with ending reproductive rights. She obviously does not support gay marriage. She supports increased domestic oil drilling and is a lifelong member of the NRA!! She would like to eliminate access to family planning education, (glass houses-anyone?) and domestic partnership benefits. She wants to control what kids learn about sex in school and she is advocate of intelligent design. She gets her health care fully paid for by the state of Alaska, yet opposes any sort of universal health care policy for the approximately 42 million uninsured in America. John McCain, and now by extension Ms. Palin, has opposed every single education support program to help needy kids go to college. She says that she is against earmarks and pet projects, but in fact in her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly 750 million dollars in federal spending. The highest per capita in the nation. Only those of moderate views who vote for this obviously right-wing conservative can be called stupid.

5. While in Wasilla, she was a member of the fundamentalist Assembly of God church that has obviously shaped her views. Check out her address to the church from this past June!
Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
OY!! So the Iraq war is now a crusade? Onward Christian soldiers, defeat the infidel!!! OMG!! Save the woman from her stupid self!!

6. Just in case my "landsmen" out there haven't taken the hint, this is not a woman who is great for Our People. She has absolutely no record to speak of on Israel and her fundamentalist roots should be of concern.

An illustration of that gap came just two weeks ago, when Palin’s church, the Wasilla Bible Church, gave its pulpit over to a figure viewed with deep hostility by many Jewish organizations: David Brickner, the executive director of Jews for Jesus.

Palin’s pastor, Larry Kroon, introduced Brickner on Aug. 17, according to a transcript of the sermon on the church’s website.

“He’s a leader of Jews for Jesus, a ministry that is out on the leading edge in a pressing, demanding area of witnessing and evangelism,” Kroon said.

Brickner then explained that Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jewish.

“The Jewish community, in particular, has a difficult time understanding this reality,” he said.
Brickner’s mission has drawn wide criticism from the organized Jewish community, and the Anti-Defamation League accused them in a report of “targeting Jews for conversion with subterfuge and deception.”

Brickner also described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.

"Judgment is very real and we see it played out on the pages of the newspapers and on the television. It's very real. When [Brickner's son] was in Jerusalem he was there to witness some of that judgment, some of that conflict, when a Palestinian from East Jerusalem took a bulldozer and went plowing through a score of cars, killing numbers of people. Judgment — you can't miss it."
This does not sound like someone who is willing and ready to reach out to my people in an equal and unbiased fashion. Cause for concern? Not stupid--SCARY!!

7. Why is it that Republicans can get away with hate-mongering when nobody else can? Listening to Romney and Huckabee last night espouse hateful remarks about gay marriage made me nauseous. I know that this is a fringe of the party, but it is played to with constant regularity. STOP!! Homophobia is the new racism and it is sickening!!

I am willing to play along. I watched this very accomplished woman speak last night, and I was impressed. She is smart, funny, opinionated to a fault (but then again-aren't we all?) and obviously dedicated to family. But, we need to look beyond the crass and obvious game that the McCain campaign is playing. This woman will be one step away from the Oval Office. Remember, the old fart is 72 and has a history of melanoma!! I realize that very few people vote for the number 2 on the ticket, but this is no ordinary election. I also realize that my American friends will tell me that this is none of my business, insofar that I cannot vote. But, you all need to understand that the USA has an enormous reach and everything that is done there affects the rest of the world. We are tied together, whether we like it or not. So, for the sake of the planet--I beg you.

Obama/Biden '08!!

P.S I promise to discuss the Canadian election next week!!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

The past few days have been very strange indeed! I had planned a couple of short posts about the myriad of changes that have been taking place in our household, but it seems I got caught up in the vortex that was the GUCI reunion. As such, I haven't been able to concentrate on ANYTHING of substance since we walked back into reality, and believe me I really needed to pay attention. I have massive amounts of preparation to do to get ready for the holidays, but instead I am nursing a camp voice. You all remember how that sounds? Sort of a cross between Demi Moore and Yosemite Sam! The thing is, I don't really care all that much. The longer it lasts, the longer last weekend stays with me. (My choir director and rabbi may have other ideas, so I guess I should start taking the remedies a bit more seriously!) Not only that, the other women that I am working with for my concert may not look too favourably on their alto sounding like Kermit the Frog.

I barely had a chance to breathe after walking through the door, when less than 12 hours later, we moved Younger Son into his university dorm. Having been through this situation once before, I thought I was prepared for all of the mixed emotions. Excitement, pride, terror, nausea! (And that was from Mom!) Son, he acted like a pro. Of course, he did! They know that this is the natural order of things and move on into the world like they own it. (or at least will soon!) The difference this time from the last, is that this is the LAST! The husband and I are now officially empty nesters. Oh sure, they will come home often, (usually to raid my fridge and pantry and do their laundry free of charge!) but a new norm has landed in our laps like a massive pigeon dropping!! At camp last week, an old friend asked us what does one do as empty nesters after "doing it" in every room gets old. I looked him straight in the eye and answered: "Anything we want, as long as it is legal, affordable and doesn't hurt anybody!!" The truth is, as much as I miss them and their noise, commotion and odours, we had our children young so that we could enjoy ourselves on this end while we were still relatively non-creaky enough to experience all that life has to offer. That doesn't mean that dropping him off and saying goodbye wasn't painful. I am telling you, I had physical pain. (The husband believes that some of that was from the effects of the camp food!) Then I came home and saw the tornado he left in his room. Some things will never change.

Finally, I need to give a very big shout out to my Older Son today. 21 years ago on this very day, the boy ripped me to shreds inside and out, put me through a labour that really defined the word, and surprised us all with an extra digit on his right hand!! (We have often joked about how he should have been a major league pitcher. Imagine the possibilities of his split-fingered pitch!! Awesome!) I should have realized right then and there that this was not going to be some ordinary kid, and believe me he didn't disappoint. His birth was the emotional high of a very difficult week, and he has continued to be that emotional high for the past 21 years. Oh sure!! He can be trying, exasperating, frustratingly stubborn, sarcastic as hell and at times emotionally cloistered. (What do you want--he is a man!!) But, he is also brilliantly funny, sweet-natured, loving, fiercely independent, and extraordinarily talented. I have done my shared of screaming at him over the years, (in the name of full disclosure, he has screamed back just as loudly) but I hope he knows how proud I am of the man he has become and how I envy the possibilities he has before him. Go get 'em, pal!! Happy 21st!