Paul Newman

Paul Newman has long been one of my very favorite actors. While other may say The Sting  or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid are their favorite movies, I have always love Absence of Malice which I think is one of the great political movies.  I also like that potboiler Exodus in which he was very miscast even though he was half Jewish.  I’ve even seen what he called “the worst movie ever made,” The Silver Chalice.  It was, as I recall, pretty bad.

Growing up, I loved the fact that my father went to the same college as Paul Newman – Kenyon College in Ohio.  I have memories of trying to convince my father that he should go to a reunion and take my sister and me so we could maybe meet Mr. Newman.  I also remember him in a Nation magazine ad and seeing his name as a supporter.  I think my first hint that we shared a political viewpoint was when I heard that he was a Gene McCarthy delegate to the Democratic Convention in 1968.

I’m looking forward to seeing lots of Paul Newman movies over the next few weeks and months.

More on Polls and other election stuff

After posting “reading the tea leaves”, I was checking out AlterNet and ran across several interesting posts.  First was an interesting piece by Joshua Holland about why polls drive us crazy.

Holland points out that the daily tracking polls and other national polls, while interesting, don’t mirror how the election will be won or lost.  He argues that one has to look at the individual states – particularly the swing states.

Remember that we don’t vote for president in the United States – we vote state by state for electors who vote for the president.  As I write, [September 20] new polls who Obama up by 9 points in Michigan, 5 points in Pennsylvania and a couple of points in Ohio – all crucial swing states.

He also points out a lot of experts are looking at who can get the voters to the polls on November 4 rather than who is leading in the polls.  So you combine all the new registered voters including new citizens and the new registrants under 35 and get them to the polls and that may be the election.  A lot of the under 35’s don’t have landlines and aren’t polled. 

And what is an election with out some fun?  This link has some great stuff.  I think my favorites are the Obama/Lion King one by Jon Stewart and the McCain debating McCain one.  Several of the videos are very serious, however, including the one by doctors about the possible state of John McCain’s health.

A few other random thoughts for the day:  When will we get to see Sarah Palin’s  (and Todd Palin’s) tax returns?  Will anyone mention the Keating Five to John McCain?  And since when does thinking about an issue before making a decision as Obama is doing about the Bush-Paulson-Bernanke bail-out proposal a bad thing?  Finally, can the Red Sox clinch a playoff spot tonight?

Reading the Tea Leaves

 So we are getting to nail biting time in the election and I’m busy studying polls and looking at everyone’s electoral maps.   This week alone we have the revelation the by a slim margin – maybe the margin of the actual election? – more people would rather watch a football game with Obama than with McCain by 50% to 47%.  This morning the Intrade market quotes are Obama 51.5 – McCain 47.3 This is very close to the football poll.  What exactly does that say about us anyway?  The same pollsters did the football poll also found by a larger margin 55% to 44% would prefer to have Obama as their child’s teacher. 

This morning about 5 am when I was unable to sleep, I entered The Fix’s “Pick Your President” contest.  I can’t embed the link to my map because WordPress doesn’t do Flash, but I will try to describe my electoral vote picks.  Remember they were made at 5 am on a Saturday morning.  The Fix’s picks as of September 9 totaled Obama 289  – McCain 249.  He included Ohio to put Obama over the magic 270.  The explanation was that the total was 269 and they decided to add Ohio.  The strange, to my mind, thing is that they have New Hampshire going for McCain.

The average from all of us kooks who have submitted maps as of this morning is Obama 286 – McCain 252. But my map is Obama 314  – McCain 223.  I added in Montana because I liked the speech Governor Brian Schweitzer gave at the Democratic Convention.  He’s the ultimate rancher regular guy turned Governor.  (Maybe what Sarah Palin could be when she grows up? Nah!)  Plus, they just elected Jon Tester to the Senate.  I added Virginia because I think that everyone is underestimating Mark Warner’s coattails.  And I threw in New Hampshire.  Montana is really a long shot – but if it goes for Obama, my changes of winning the Pick Your President Contest go up.

It will be interesting to see the polls in the next few days given the implosion by the McCain-Palin ticket this week.

“Lipstick on a Pig”

Is using this saying sexist?  Slate Magazine has two interesting takes on the subject.  First “the Explainer” talks about the origins of the saying.  There have been variations on the theme for many years.  Ann Richards used it against both Bushes, for example.

And there is video of John McCain using it specifically against Hillary Clinton’s health care plan.

I don’t think of the term, given its history in American politics as being particularly sexist.  It simply means trying to dress something up so people might be fooled into thinking it is something new.  I think McCain was using it as a dig at a health care proposal and Obama was using it to talk about Republican policies generally.  It should be noted that he was speaking in a rural area of Virgina where most of his listener probably got the reference and the humor. In neither case was it used against anyone specific.

Tough Election and Tough Pennant Race

First, the Red Sox.  I haven’t said much for a while, but for the most part they are playing great.  Dustin and Coco are on a tear and inspite of injuries and no consistancy with their pitching (maybe I’ll I exempt Lester), they are hanging in there.  Although they’ve caught up with Tampa Bay, I think its the wild card.

And McCain is tied now with Obama.  I’m trying not to loose too much hope even as all those around me are beginning to panic.  For one thing, I’m not sure what the polls do about all the voters without land lines and it is also my understanding (I might be wrong about this) that many polls target people who voted in the last election.  I think that the voter registration numbers show that there will be a lot of first time voters.  The election will depend on voter turnout.  I keep thinking about Iowa and the kids that turned out even though it was winter break.

A large part of the McCain bounce is clearly due to Sarah Palin.  The Obama campaign needs to get its own message out while trying to debunk the out and out lies from the other side.  The swift boating has begun.  My hope is that when Sarah Palin finally has to meet the press one on one she will be exposed and the bounce will end.  Jack Shafer has posted an interesting list of questions for Charles Gibson – or any journalist worth their salt to ask.

Rachel Maddow had a great quote about Sarah Palin which went something like this:  When you go to Republican rallies with Sarah Palin you feel two things the electricity from the conservative Republican base and the drip drip of the investigations that are going on and you know what happens when electricity meets water.”  I hope she is right.

Sexism, feminism and the election

Ever since Hilliary Clinton became a serious candidate for President and the media, bloggers, and the Obama campaign discussed her, the debate about which remarks were sexist raged on.  Now with Sarah Palin’s nomination for Republican VP, it continues.

I’m old enough to remember the early days of the women’s movement.  I remember the moment at an obscure and long forgotten SDS meeting in D.C. (maybe at GW(?) when women were expected to leave the meeting to make sandwiches.  Some of us refused.  The men were shocked. It was out of those days that the women’s movement was born.  I have worked for the equal rights amendment, was a delegate to the International Women’s Conference in Houston, TX in 1977, served on and worked for Commissions for Women and am a proud “founding Mother” of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.  Even with that experience, i still have difficulty figuring out what is sexist and what is just political.

While I was driving around doing errands today, I caught most of a story on NPR about the protests at the Miss American pagent in 1968. and was struck by the interview with the Miss American who was turning over her crown that year.

Looking back on the events of 1968, however, Snodgrass says she now has a better understanding of what the women’s liberation movement was actually about.

“I see that I have reaped some of the benefits of what they were trying to say,” Snodgrass says. “I think it was a poor choice to try to say it in that way. But I can get a charge card myself. I don’t have to have a husband sign for that.”

So does Sarah Palin  also understand that she is where she is because of women like me who were in the trenches?  Women who worked hard to make sure that she and her daughter have the choice to have a child or not?  And here I’m not just talking about abortion but also about bith control.  Does she understand that she is Governor of Alaska because of a long line of feminists going back before the Civil War?

So what is sexist and what is fair game? I have no doubt that how Sarah Palin chooses to raise her family and be governor (or heaven forbid, Vice President), at the same time will be hers and her husband, Todd’s.  Bringing that into electoral politics is sexist.  But looking into how she handled earmarks, lobbied for federal funds, whether she fired the head libraian when she was Mayor, and whether she abused her power as Governor as all fair game and would be so even if she were mail. 

Palin speaks about Hillary’s “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” as if all those women should vote for her because she is a women and many of them are also women.  What she fails to understand is that many of those women, particularly of my generation, fought to allow women choices.  Palin would take away choice.  Choice whether or not it is right to have a child, choice as to what we want to read, choice as to  how we each want to live our lives.  This is not feminism.

Thoughts on the election and values

What are values anyway?  Aren’t they beliefs that we hold as principles which guide our lives?  Like equal justice and fair play?  Like freedom to make individual choices under law?  Like the right to privacy?

I think Barak Obama is right when he says that we should look at the politics of the McCain /Palin ticket not their personal lives.  And yet I have these nagging thoughts that keep circling around my head.  Sarah Palin does not seem to believe either in abortion or birth control which is her right, but everyone can’t afford to support a 17 year old daughter and her 18 year old husband to be.  And she also doesn’t believe in housing for pregnant teens since she vetoed state funding for the Covenant Transitional House in Alaska.  So, Sarah, what exactly is a poor young woman whose family either cannot or will not support her supposed to do?  Is being a teen mother for the privileged?  And all the Republicans who seem to excuse Bristol (who obviously did not follow the rule of abstinence) by saying, “well these things happen” only excusing young women who are white and middle class?  Sarah Palin would also condemn the young woman who made the difficult choice to have an abortion.

I can’t help wondering what would happen if if the situation were reversed – if the Obamas’ had a teenaged daughter who was pregnant by some kid who was only interested in basketball or hanging out on a street corner in Chicago.  Wouldn’t the Republicans be all over him, condemming this example of black irresponsibility and lack of morals? It seems to me that the so-called family values of the Republicans and Christian right are flexible when it comes to one of theirs, but not so flexible when it comes to people outside the group.

Ellen Goodman has some interesting thoughts about all this in her column in the Boston Globe today.

I shifted into high dudgeon over the Sexism in the Media, Part II, the blogcreeps and cablescum sneering at her beauty queen bio and her working-mom credentials. Then came the news that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant. Immediately, the “family values” folks who have fashioned a political wedge out of moral judgments began insisting that anyone who remarked on this baby bump was an insensitive invader of privacy.

What did James Dobson of Focus on the Family say? This teen pregnancy showed that “she and her family are human.” Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council praised Bristol for “choosing life in the midst of a difficult situation.”

Meanwhile Obama himself, the son of an 18-year-old mother, said strongly that “People’s families are off-limits and people’s children are especially off-limits.” Well, OK. But let’s not forget that it’s the right wing that made social issues into a political issue. The right wing decided that pregnancy was not a matter of private decision-making but a harsh and unrelenting political battle

The bottom line:  I think what Sarah and Todd Palin do with their daughter – which to me looks like exploiting her – is up to them.  But they need to learn to respect those who might make a different choice and to support those families and young women (and men) also.  The two people I feel the most sorry for in this entire business are Bristol Palin and Levi Johnson.

Sarah Palin and the Republican Convention


John McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as running mate shows how desperate he is to distract attention from the fact that he is a cranky old man with nothing to offer but more of the same. Palin is a blatant pander for the women’s vote. He must think we have the collective IQ of a Tampax.

So begin Katha Pollit’s comments on Sarah Palin and the Vice Presidency.

And today’s revelations include a pregnant 17 year old unmarried daughter (was this technically statutory rape?) and a the fact that she has finally decided to hire a private attorney to represent her in the troopergate investigations, something she probably should have done a while ago.  Is this a Thomas Eagleton vice-presidential pick in the making?

It never ceases to amaze me that the family values republicans are the ones who are who have sex with minors, have affairs both heterosexual and homosexual, and possibly even killed an intern to cover-up an affair.  On the other hand, the democrats will always have Bill Clinton.

Now although, thank goodness, Gustav was not a bad as he could have been, we are facing two more hurricanes in a week.  Hanna and Irving are approaching.  Will John McCain give his acceptance speech even if a hurricane is hitting Florida?  If John McCain not having to speak a plus or minus?  I don’t know.