Monthly Archives: September 2008

My Fair Lady

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As I have already written, the McCain campaign is doing its best to keep Palin (the “barracuda”) away from the media (the “piranhas”). With just five weeks left, the only ethical and respectful thing to do is to let us hear, in her own words, Palin answer some basic questions about the record she is so proudly hailing and the issues. I don’t really care about her family life, but I would like to know about her policies, worldview, and intelligence. And if she is a hockey mom and lipsticked pit bull, I would like to know what those are and how they are relevant to the presidency.

Over the past 18 months, we’ve learned a lot of about Barack Obama. Some things that have been written about him and his family have been both baseless and offensive, but there were also plenty of other questions about his trajectory and abilities that needed to be delved into. You may believe in the “change you can believe in” or not. You may not like his politics or think that his experience is adequate for the presidency, but at least now you have something to base your opinion on. You have a footing.

The same goes for John McCain who has been in the Congress in Washington, DC since the early 1980s, or Joe Biden who also has a long Congressional record. They have debated, appeared dozens of times in front of the “piranhas” in the media, and have shown themselves to the electorate. I think we deserve equal access to Sarah Palin. (Not even letting the press chat with Palin in flight contrasts heavily with this year’s nonstop images of the various other candidates and journalists freely mingling in air or McCain’s 2000 “Straight Talk Express”). I want to have an opinion of her that is based on more than just how she delivers one pre-fab speech or rumors about her Christian sharia-ism. The McCain camp can cry about the media frenzy around Palin, but didn’t they fully expect the frenzy after nominating the country’s most unknown governor for the vice-presidency?

I am not alone in begging for this election to be more than an Oscar performance about who can best memorize their lines or play a role. Today there were various articles questioning Palin’s seclusion and demanding transparency. The Chicago Tribune published an editorial, “Take the Wraps of Palin” asking for precisely that, while the Washington Post wrote “When Lies Become Truths“. The Post’s E.J. Dionne Jr. has written two back to back articles “Does the Truth Matter Anymore” and”Unready to Lead” and Tim Rutton in the Los Angeles Times came out with “The McCain Campaign is insisting on deference in the questioning of the vice presidential candidate“.

But my personal favorite was Maureen Dowd’sMy Fair Veep” where she compares Palin’s sequestered training to Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady:

For the first time in American history, we have a “My Fair Lady” moment, as teams of experts bustle around the most famous woman in politics, intensely coaching her for her big moment at the ball — her first unscripted interview here this week with ABC News’s Charlie Gibson.

If you were Charles Gibson, what questions would you have for Governor Palin? For the sake of the country, I hope Gibson asks better questions than the ones he asked Obama in the Democratic primary debate with Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia earlier this year. I don’t want to hear about American flag pins or the sex lives of anybody’s children. I just want to know that Palin is capable of stepping in as acting president and that the country where I was born and raised and the world in which I live will not be run by cynics and Carl Rovian spin doctors, even if my candidate does not win. Is that too much to ask?

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Ramadan Mubarak in Madrid

Ramadan in Madrid

Ramadan began last week and coincided with my girlfriend (who is Moroccan) being in Madrid. Believe it or not, it was loads of fun. Continue reading

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Filed under Friends / Family, Living la vida española

Courage to Meet the Press

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At the GOP Convention, we heard plenty about the hero John McCain, especially about his courage. Everytime someone praised his courage, I wondered what courage had to do with a modern presidency. I mean, is the presidency like a Hollywood movie — say Air Force One — where John McCain may be in mid air when his presidential 747 is taken over by terrorists and he, in true Harrison Ford style, subdues the bad guys and saves the day? Or maybe they want a Jack Bauer president, or a president, bar knuckled, on the front line and muddied in the trenches.

Maybe the heroism they are talking about is John McCain’s special breed of maverick heroism. The type where you don’t choose the running mate you really want (ie, Senator Lieberman), but rather the one who Carl Rove and Rush Limbaugh want. Or the courage to change all of your positions and cave into the extreme wing of your party’s demands, or to vote 90% of the time with your team’s president.

It’s Sunday and we’re in election season, that means it’s the day where the most important candidates and their surrogates appear on the political talk shows and answer tough questions about their policies and positions. John McCain, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden have spent the past year appearing on these programs so that the American people can develop an informed basis from which to judge them. For example, today Joe Biden is appearing on Meet the Press (his 42nd ever appearance on the show), Barack Obama on This Week, and John McCain on Face the Nation. Sarah Palin is not appearing on any of these shows. With just under two months until the general elections, Palin has yet to give an important interview to the press or participate in a serious debate. Looks like today everybody is ready for questions except for Palin.

After more than a year of this exhaustive get-to-know the candidates election season (where, for example, Obama has already participated in 20 televised debates), the American people should be treated with respect and be allowed to meet Sarah Palin, a person who could foreseeably become the acting President of the United States. You’d think that John McCain would have the courage to let his vice presidential choice meet the press and the voting public.

Hiding isn’t very brave.

UPDATE: McCain/Palin is not scared, but Palin will not do interviews until the press makes the pitbull hockey mom feel more comfortable: Continue reading

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

This Post is Not About the Elections

I think it’s time for a post that isn’t about the U.S. presidential elections. By doing so, I would probably even make my readers — who have been begging me to write about something else — a little happy.

While thinking of an alternative topic, I happened to run into my friend, Elio, at the gym. He led me to these two videos of him competing in the Spanish Wushu Championships. I used joke that the only reason I trained at the gym was so that one day I could beat someone up, and that when I was well buff and ready, Elio (who happens to be one of the nicest creatures on Earth) was going to be my first victim. Personally, I am no one to judge how good he is at Wushu, but after what I have seen, I think I am going to put my attempts at comedy next to my political blogging, temporarily at least, on the back burner.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family

The Hero Vows to Stand Up to Himself

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more cynical (say than Palin), McCain gives an even more shockingly cynical speech. His plea for bipartianship is marked by portraying Democrats as elitists (what Paul Krugman calls McCain’s “Resentment Strategy“). Next he vows to fight the elitists in Washington who are running the show, but here he forgets to mention that it is McCain himself and his Republican clan who are and have been running the show for the last eigh years in the presidency and the last twelve in Congress.

Then McCain defines himself as a maverick who believes in country before party, but this comes after he has just negotiated the official GOP platform where he has yielded on almost every position dear to him, thus giving in to his party’s most vested interests.

After telling us how much of a hero he was, still is, and how he, and no other person in the country, will fight for the country that saved him, he does not believe himself to be “blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.” Then what was the entire speech about, John?

Finally, our hero cries out, “Americans want us to stop yelling at each other.” Did he hear Rudy’s or Palin’s speeches? As the New York Times properly asks today in its editorial,

Americans have a right to ask which John McCain would be president. We hope Mr. McCain starts to answer that by halting the attacks on Mr. Obama’s patriotism and beginning a serious, civil debate.

Don’t count on it.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Mean, Arrogant, Spiteful, Cynical and Shocking

I am sorry to be focusing on the GOP V.P. choice, but I am frankly shocked and horrified. I just watched the video of Sarah Palin’s vanilla GOP Convention speech and it was mean-spirited, arrogant, spiteful, and cynical. She didn’t once mention what her ticket’s policies would be. It was nothing more than Obama slander, one-liners, and a call to vote for McCain for the sole reason that he is a “great man”.

This is what the country has turned into — a bad high school election speech. Thanks, John, for fighting for me. Great job.

Here’s a list (compiled by the AP) with some of the factual misstatements from the GOP Convention.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

From Cynicism to a Joke

Don’t take my word that the Palin choice is a sign of desperate cynicism. Listen to the Republican pundits, thinking they were off the air.

Furthermore, by selecting someone with almost no public record, no major interviews or debates or public exposure who lives sheltered from the rest of the country — in other words a complete unknown — the national conversation only naturally centers around discovering Palin and moves away from the issues and policy debate. McCain has turned the election into an even greater farce. The choice has simply cheapened the entire election even more than the 2000 contest, essentially rendering the U.S. presidency a joke.

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08

Life Happens?

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Of course, I don’t think the Republicans mean that life happens spontaneously. That would just be silly. Everyone knows life happens through creative design, a design that is created especially when you live where sex education is prohibited, don’t use contraceptives, and then get it on.

Go ahead, take the opium, sleep, dream . . . let life happen.

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Cynicism Galore

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Just when I had thought that the DNC Convention was a total load of dung, then the GOP came to the rescue with two statements that have left me shocked by the shere extent of their cynicism: first, the vice presidential candidacy of Governor Palin, and second that Bush would not be speaking at the GOP Convention (the president was too concerned — albeit a few years tardy — with the weather).

I suppose that after watching Hillary, Bill, and then Obama (i) highlight the historic importance of Obama’s candidacy and then (ii) detail how the Bush Administration has deteriorated the country, the McCain people scrambled to adjust their convention’s agenda. Pick a woman, hide Bush under the carpet, and avoid looking like what they are: old, white, and crusty.

Having met Palin only twice and interviewed her at the very last minute, McCain determined that, at such an important historic moment and after considering every other potential choice in a nation of close to 300,000 million inhabitants, Governor Palin was his perfect vice-maverick. First Lady, Laura Bush, rushed to praise Mrs. Palin. I am paraphrasing here, but Mrs. Bush thinks Palin is just precious. Laura knows her well; they’ve met a couple of times (in other words, twice). They sat at the same table last year. Now, that is some heavy vetting if you ask me.

Tom Brokaw, who has proven himself to be a more serious yet less likeable interrogator than Tim Russert, thankfully asked the serious questions to McCain Palin surrogate Tim Pawlenty: Continue reading

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Filed under Essays, Obama 08