The Convention Schedule

I’ve been avoiding writing this post because I just don’t know how I feel about it. There are a couple of issues. Let me just tell you part of the story.

As I left Denver for the last time, just blocks from the PUMA Den on my way to Littleton, where I was staying, I got stopped by a middle aged black woman who saw my Hillary shirt and asked me what we were going to do. In the course of the conversation, the woman revealed herself to be a delegate (I won’t name the state to protect her identity) and she gave me her copy of the delegate schedule. The schedule is a list of all of the events and parties, and, stupidly enough, the people paying for many of them. You won’t believe how many times AT&T is listed when you see it. FISA anyone?

That’s all good and well, but it’s not the entire story. She also insisted that “Hillary had to do it!” She kept insisting on that. When I asked her what she meant by “it,” she told me a wild tale involving the murder of Gwatney, and the death of Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and how Hillary Clinton was afraid for Chelsea’s life, which is why she gave the speech and agreed to the convention stunt. Now, this is where I’ve been avoiding posting this. Because it sounds crazy. And I don’t actually believe it. I found the deaths suspicious, especially Gwatney’s, I admit that, but at the end of the day, I know it’s only improbable suspicion. I know I’m prone to it, just like everyone else in this nation is after 8 years of this administration.

At the same time, I felt I had to tell the story for a couple of reasons. For one, I love a wacky tale, I really do. The wackier the better. That’s why I love Weeds. Every time Nancy and her crew end another show, I’m asking myself, “Now how are they gonna get out of that?” And this experience really did seem Twilight Zone weird. Also, I felt I could hardly use her info without at least reporting on her too. But I do want to make it clear that I’m just reporting what she said, and I lend her no credibility in doing so.

Aside: I also got interviewed for a documentary right after that. The guy seemed pretty nice, but I guess we’ll find out when the documentary, currently called Carlson Hanks Learns to Vote, comes out. He said he’d e-mail me when it did. I’ll post here as soon as I know. I think I made a good case for PUMA, for not being able to vote for Obama, and how and why PUMAs don’t resent anyone else for voting how they want. That was one of the questions, how I felt about black voters and young voters and their passion this year, etc. I wish I had thought of it at the time, because he was getting a little bit into persuasive territory, but I should have pointed out that appeals to popularity are logical fallacies.

Anyway, back to that document, I’ve looked at it, and it’s pretty interesting. It’s not top secret or anything, but it was meant for delegates only, as I understand it. The first few pages are missing, so it starts off with Tuesday night. I’ve highlighted a few things that I thought were interesting, like the multiple parties for the New Democratic Coalition (yes, they celebrated kicking people like me out), and several of the corporate party sponsors, as well as the part that shows that Nancy Pelosi was at a tea party until just before she stepped on the stage after the roll call vote. The thing was so choreographed she didn’t even have to show up at her own Convention for the roll call, even though she was the presiding officer, and had to call it. She just waited until it was time for her to pull her yea and nay maneuver. This was a coup, people, an internal, bloodless coup. Beyond that, I don’t know yet of what value this document might be, but I’m posting it here in case any of you want to take a look for yourself. It’s a shame we didn’t have this document early on. We could have organized our protests more effectively.

dnc-doc1 (PDF)

Good Girl Gone Bad

Shifting gears here, I wanted to talk about Obama’s acceptance speech, as all I’ve seen from the blogroll list are accounts of people who didn’t watch, but read the speech. I watched, and I had a decidedly different take on the overall feel and the impact in the moment, as opposed to analysis of the words themselves.

Valentine’s Day in 1998 I took a dose of crystal meth, not knowing I was actually taking crystal meth. I was told it was “speed,” so I thought it was like a peptab that you might buy legally. I was high for three days, and by the end, I was fairly certain I was going crazy and should check myself into a mental ward at a local hospital. Luckily, before I could get there, a good friend of mine stopped by and asked me several questions about what I had taken, which allowed us to identify it for what it was. Then he took care of me until it was over. It was, without a doubt, one of the scariest experiences of my life, and taught me so much about the nature of truly addictive drugs and how they’ve impacted my family.

To go a little further back in time before we flash forward, you have to understand what happened to my sister. You read about her in Dreams From Our Mothers. In addition to all of the other (sometimes self-caused) hardships she’s had to face in her life, she also had a very serious crack addiction for several years. Our family was torn apart by this addiction, and her four children suffered mightily. I was always angry with her for her poor choices, and resented that she did not care for her children in the manner in which I approved. I get now that, even though I was technically right, I was also a judgmental jerk, and I learned that during this crystal meth experience.

I had only taken one dose, but the first day that I was sober I felt an actual physical tug coming from my abdominal area, and I had to exert some serious control in order not to rush out and try to find more. I’ve been a social drinker all my adult life, went through an acid phase briefly in my 18th year, and had occasionally smoked pot, but nothing had prepared me for that tug. It was, for a while, like the entirety of me. I couldn’t feel my body or my brains, and this center was calling me powerfully. The fight was exhausting. It did not return the second day, and I have not felt it since. But in coping with the aftermath of it all, I realized that that is probably what my sister faced with her addiction every day. And I felt a compassion for her that I had never felt before.

I tell you this story because it is the only experience that I’ve had, as I reach back in my mind, that even remotely resembled what watching Obama’s acceptance speech was like. I felt the tug, the rhetorical tug of my roots, which had been until lately solidly Democratic. Republicans like to talk about Reagan as a strength, but the truth is that his two administrations created some serious Democratic monsters. The trajectory of the Republican Party has so naturally followed from his legacy that people like me, who grew up under Reagan, would not even consider voting for them unless something HUGE happened, like this year, which has been like having the curtain pulled back to reveal that Democrats are no different than Republicans now.

But I digress. I didn’t catch the entire show of the final night at the DNC, but I did catch about three hours, including Obama’s speech. I also made sure my daughter watched it, because she is a (14 year old) Obama supporter, and because it was history in the making. She needed to see that, and so did I. I felt compassion during much of it, in addition to that tug. I felt compassion for my brothers and sisters who are delighted, however ignorantly, that America finally has a black man running for top office. I was always bothered by the fact that I couldn’t celebrate with them, as we share similar values about what diversity means. I felt I understood how that drug worked on them, and I felt myself soften just a little bit, even though nothing changed for me intellectually speaking.

When Obama started speaking, I felt that same tug tighten up. I wanted to “come back home” for a few minutes. I admit that I did. About midway through his speech, though, I began to feel a bit like a girl feels when she has allowed herself to be felt up by a boy she just met that day–which is to say, a bit thrilled, a bit dirty, and bit unsure of myself. I began to feel like Obama was coming across as a very slick operator; very much like I feel when I’m at a bar and some guy I wouldn’t normally be interested in makes a pass and is funny while doing it, but who I know is all game in the end. At that point, this song popped into my head, and it remains how I feel about that acceptance speech:

The Convention Feel From the Outside

I said I would write about the Convention, so here we are. I wish so much I hadn’t broken my camera, so I could show you how crazy and intoxicating it all was, and so I could remind myself with visuals. I’m getting old. I’ve got a few posts planned for this, but I’m going to save my favorite for later today, and take a chance to catch up on the general feel.

When I arrived on Tuesday the town was already buzzing, but wasn’t packed. The population intensity grew by the hour, and by Wednesday midday the 16th Street Mall was wall-to-wall people. Now, I’ve never been to a Convention, so if some of y’all have, please chime in here and tell me if some of this stuff is normal. On Tuesday it seemed like most of the out-of-towners were young kids and traditional Midwestern Democrats. You can spot these guys a mile away because they were inevitably white, a little pudgy and pasty, and wearing O-gear. O-gear was everywhere. By Wednesday, the streets were lined with tables, where people were selling everything from Obama T-shirts (Burritos for Obama was my favorite. It really does just say it all.) to, I kid you not, velvet paintings. There was also one booth with original outsider art, which I really find fascinating.

The most puzzling thing, and the thing that I want to know whether or not is normal, is that there were apocalyptic preachers and evangelical street theater activists on every single corner of the 16th Street Mall (a really long stretch of street that is closed down to everything but free buses and pedestrian traffic). I know Colorado Springs is SoCon (social conservative) Central, but still, these were some ragtag bunches. Crazy, sometimes dirty and smelling people just ranting with huge homemade signs, passing out hastily copied literature that ended up crooked on the page. I felt like I had stepped into another universe.

And people staring at me did not help that feeling at all, and they did. Not at first, though. When I arrived people were as friendly as could be, and wanted to know if I was there for the Convention. Once I put the button on, that’s when things got tricky. The button being the PUMA button I’d bought from the PUMA Den. I also slapped a We’re Not Coming Home, Howard sticker on the back of my laptop screen, which got me plenty of looks from people in places like Starbucks.

But the best part was the PUMA Den, without a doubt. I have been isolated here in New Albany, and as a Hillary Clinton supporter, it’s hard to know who you can talk to. That applies to everywhere as I’ve experienced it. But I could relax, which I did, for the first time in months at the PUMA den. Meeting the group was amazing. And apparently, the cops assigned to keep an eye on us where mostly Clinton supporters anyway. They gave us no trouble as far as I know.

There’s a ton of stuff going on with PUMA, including Lori and her husband (I can’t believe I forgot his name–hey I looked up that speech!), who are making the documentary The Audacity of Democracy (I missed the screening because I was late getting to Denver). Also, a book will be forthcoming from a Texas woman whose name also escapes me. If you saw the video where the woman takes the Texas caucus records from the building, only to be later harrassed by the woman who gave them to her, that’s her. She was awesome, and so funny. I read the first few pages of  a chapter, and she’s on to something. Incredible work going on.

It was also great to meet wonderful people like RD and Murphy and Sheri Tag, who are all amazing women. Murphy’s mother is also AMAZING! She organized that PUMA Den like General Patton preparing for Operation Torch. LadyBoomer was also there, as were anti-fish and goanderson, who were both amazing support after the demoralizing roll call. So many more…I suspect over 200 PUMAs where there, but I’d like to get official number from PUMApac if they are available.

All in all, I made many contacts, and offered my card to a few folks, so I have hopes that alliances can be built and people will stay in touch.

Irony Threshhold Met

Dan Gerstein to Obama: Just Be Yourself. We’re officially into Gore territory, except I knew Al Gore, and Obama is no Al Gore.

Digby shows her anti-feminist credentials (again) by saying this about potential Palin voters: To me the single best way to discredit Sarah Palin among female voters, is to attack her as a heartless extremist who would let the polar bears drown rather than admit that global warming exists. So according to Digby, the best way to get to female voters is to exploit any emotional vulnerabilities they may have. Why Digby, why don’t you just slip me some Rohypnal, strap on a dildo, and have at it. I mean, we’re at that part of the date, right?

But she wasn’t through. She goes on to write this jaw-dropper:

In truth, she doesn’t really have enough experience, but a lot of the criticism I’m seeing could easily be read as both sexist and elitist. Barack doesn’t have a ton of experience either, but his qualifications are made manifest by his ivy league education, cosmopolitan background, urban connections and endorsements from other powerful people.

Oh my fucking god, I never knew what a classist piece of work she was. I knew she was a kool aide drinker, and an anti-feminist, but a classist? So now it’s all ivy league qualifications are okay, right? No resentment about that privilege that she showed toward Bush and even some democratic politicians in the early days. City folk, well, they’re just better equipped to lead the country, even though Barack Obama is the definition of Island provincial. And nepotism is apparently a new Democratic value. Man, how times have changed.

I’ve had enough for now. I’m a little swept up, and need more decompression time. I’ll be back in the morning, if not later tonight. Welcome new P&L readers! (the stats are way up) This is an open thread.

UPDATE: I had to update for this, because it demonstrates how freaking weird this primary season is; really, like no other. Go check out this obvious hit piece on Palin, wherein “historians” allegedly “review” Palin’s credentials. Then read this update to the article, wherein they received McCain’s rebuttal, and they printed it!

Update: After reading this article, the McCain campaign issued the following statement: “The authors quote four scholars attacking Gov. Palin’s fitness for the office of Vice President. Among them, David Kennedy is a maxed out Obama donor, Joel Goldstein is also an Obama donor, and Doris Kearns Goodwin has donated exclusively to Democrats this cycle. Finally, Matthew Dallek is a former speech writer for Dick Gephardt. This is not a story about scholars questioning Governor Palin‘s credentials so much as partisan Democrats who would find a reason to disqualify or discount any nominee put forward by Senator McCain.”

Have you ever seen anything like that before?

The Specter of Roe v Wade, Part IV

Oh my word, it’s starting already, even in the PUMAsphere! Some Democrats are so trained in their politics of fear–just like some Republicans–that they are actually trying to convince other PUMAs that Palin favors, OMG!, FORCED PREGNANCY! I don’t know what’s up with the author of that piece, who I know to generally be smarter than that. Palin, who is staunchly pro-life, (so much so that she herself refused to abort a child she knew had Down Syndrome) is not in favor of forced pregnancy, and that kind of rhetoric is desperate and irresponsible, not to mention pretty thoughtless.

As I outlined in The Specter of Roe v Wade Parts I, II, and III, elected Democrats and the pro-choice groups supposedly designed to protect your right to choose are not at all concerned that the right will be taken away, and they have worked to allow more and more restrictions on abortion along with Republicans. Don’t look to Democrats to protect you, they won’t, because they can’t. Abortion is established law that most Americans want to maintain, even if they are okay with some restrictions on it. (Hell, I’m a liberal feminist, and I’m okay with some restrictions on it.) Until that changes, your right to choose will be protected. As one self-identifying conservative commenter at The Reclusive Leftist wrote:

There are two nuclear issues in American politics, and they are The Right to Bear Arms and Abortion rights. They are the only two issues that cause one side, or the other, to actually go out and riot in the streets. You can twiddle with them a little (partial birth bans, assault rifle bans) but there is no way that Conservatives will EVER be able to make abortion illegal, and no way for the Liberals to EVER confiscate a private citizen’s guns.

I think that’s true, and I’m done with a rhetoric that tries to scare me into voting on someone else’s criteria. And I’m ready for a serious post-partisan approach that doesn’t rely on demonizing the troops on the other side. This is an approach that Obama talks about, but cannot deliver on, because the base is so insistant on maintaining assumptions sold to them by party sheisters and media liars. I live in a very Red state, Indiana (my vote for McCain WILL Count), and I know a ton of Republicans. They are generally more respectful and more articulate than your average Democratic voter, even if I disagree with them on some policy issues and values issues. They are ready, if this comment, also by a self-identifying conservative, is any proof:

Shinhao Li says:

Hi,

I’m one of the dreaded Instapundit readers who followed the link over. The Republican base is absolutely ablaze after Palin, and in this spirit of enthusiasm, I thought I’d try my hand at bipartisan diplomacy.

I’d would write a one-world-kumbaya fluff piece on why we should all vote for McCain-Palin, but no one is stupid enough to fall for that. If absolute choice over abortion is a must for you, there’s no way in good conscience that I can ask you to vote for McCain. Your interests are better served with Obama.

Debating abortion is a perilous topic, so I won’t try. But if you are willing to consider something less that totally unrestricted abortion, you might find the Republican side surprisingly hospitable. After all, we have Giuliani and Thompson, both pro-choice. One the other hand, we have Palin. But most Republicans, including myself, are somewhere in between. Somehow, the rights of the pregnant woman and the fetus both need to be recognized. I don’t know the answer.

Bolding mine. Did you see that? It’s called respect for the other side, and a lack of arrogance. This Republican doesn’t know the answer, but knows that we’ve got to compromise if we want to move past the gridlock and abuse of the abortion issue. S/he also realizes that most voters want some form of abortion to be legal, even if they’re okay with restricting it.

I agree with this assessment, but I only recently came to it myself. Writing the Specter series really opened my eyes to what the Democratic leadership was about with this issue. After I wrote it, I felt taken advantage of and abused by party elders. Then, while teaching my Fundamentals of English class, I assigned from the textbook an essay by Anna Quindlen, a mainstream liberal political writer, titled Abortion Is Way Too Complex To Feel One Way About, and it solidified the change in my thinking on abortion. I wish I could find a link to it to post here, but I can’t. If you can find it, I suggest reading it. It displayed a kind of intellectual consistency that I only admired at the time, but have come to adopt since then, and in the face of all that has happened this campaign season.

Regarding abortion and the pro-life position, I think the fight against sexism, and the fight for equal opportunity and protection do much more to further the cause of protecting a woman’s right to choose than just stupidly fighting with religious conservatives within the Republican Party. As we kill sexism, we will open up the world to better ways of thinking, and that will, I think, lead to a natural evaluation of abortion as a necessary medical service worth protecting. Furthermore, I don’t believe we can win the abortion-on-demand argument, and I think we’re losing a valuable opportunity to use Republican abortion legislation as leverage to achieve a funded mandate for sex education, as well as greater access to birth control for poor women, where it is needed most. As that last commenter said, some Republicans are open to compromise on anything but a demand for unrestricted abortion. I think we should take them up on it.

Links in this series: Part I, Part II, Part III

Voting Options and More

I have so much I want to talk about, and have for the whole week. I know I need to write about the Convention experience, and I will, I promise, make that happen this holiday weekend. I’m still trying to process most of it, and the facts on the ground keep changing in the meantime, adding to the list of things I need to process. Time and space currently seem to be moving at a clipped rate. I know that’s not possible, that it’s all perception, but I do feel a bit overwhelmed from it.

This morning I’ve been checking out the PUMAsphere for reaction to the Palin announcement. It’s everywhere, of course. And I’m pretty surprised at the reaction. Not many people are in the space I’m in. Dr. Socks at the Reclusive Leftist, still insists she can’t vote for any Republican, ever. Katiebird at The Confluence isn’t there yet, but she’s warning that the haka from the Progressive Dude Nation (H/t to Gale, comment #21 in the Dr. Socks linked post) is making it hard.

All due respect to them, because they do deserve it, but I don’t understand this mindset, even though I used to be of it. Those new eyes and ears, along with serious analysis of the long term history of the Democratic Party have left me with one conclusion: The Democratic Party hasn’t been what I thought it was. The people who’ve said for years that the Parties are the same are right. It didn’t used to be that way, and it’s never been true for the voters, but the leaderships of both parties are as corrupt and nakedly ambitious as they come. Those are not my values, but they are my choices. I see that clearly now.

Let me state for the record that I don’t see disaffected Hillary supporters as a monolith in any way. I do think it’s a group largely made up of women who were paying attention to the sexism of the primary season, which continues to this day with the left’s reaction to Sarah Palin, and their male feminist sympathizers. People who have been trained during the backlash to minimize or discount sexism in the culture don’t have the same perspective those of us who always refused to ignore sexism do.

Because this loose confederation is largely comprised of women, its greatest weaknesses are those of women-namely, caring what other people think. Men, by and large, don’t do that. They do what they want, or think is right, or whatever their rationale for their actions, but they rarely make a decision based on what someone else will think of them. Women do. I know, I am one, and I’ve done it myself. Recognizing that, and actively fighting against that inclination in myself is part of why I write as forcefully as I do, and why I can make the decision to support the McCain/Palin ticket as immediately and as fearlessly as I do, knowing full well that I don’t agree with many Republican values-and knowing full well that I will get harassed for making that choice.

The reasons women care what people think are more complex than I’ve spelled it out there, and have to do with cultural judgment and ridicule that men generally don’t have to deal with, but we’re just concerned with the facts, not the reasons behind them, in this post.

My choice isn’t based on what anyone else thinks about me, it’s based on what I perceive as the facts on the ground, and pragmatic concerns with them. And the facts on the ground are that I was wrong, that political parties are not monoliths, that what concerns me and drives me to participate are the abuses of power wrought by factions, and that reform is needed everywhere, not just in the Democratic Party. My driving political principle as a Democrat was preservation of choice, which applies to much more than just abortion. It was an instinctively defensive position. As a newly registered Independent, I think my driving principle may become access.

But, people own their own votes and they may have different reasons for voting. For those that do care what other people think, who maybe are stung by the false charge of racism, or who feel left out of the celebration for lack of an AA candidate with character (I kinda do), perhaps a look at Cynthia McKinney is in order. She is, as many of us are, to the left of the Democratic Party. No one currently holding elective office has the war opposition record she does, not even Kucinich. She’s a natural choice for those who still maintain the mindset of truly progressive values, and think the defense of those values is the most important strategy to pursue. I don’t personally agree with it, but I was recently in that place myself, so I can hardly judge it. As I said in my last post, my priorities are already reshuffling themselves based on my new perspective. I’ll post more about that later. But Cynthia McKinney would be an intellectually consistent choice to make, while providing quite a shield against the inevitable racist charge emanating from the new Progressive Dude Nation.

Other choices disaffected Hillary Supporters (DHS from here on out) have are to join the new efforts to reform the Democratic Party from the inside, which Darraugh Murphy, founder of PUMApac is spearheading. Bob Barr may appeal to the more conservatively-inclined among us (and there are a few). Nader may be a choice the ultra-progs among us make. Whatever your choice, I think it’s imperative the core goals of the overall PUMA movement, that loose confederation, should be what guides us as we vote in November, and Murphy articulated those perfectly in her most recent untitled post:

1. No Obama for President
2. No more Howard or the other Architects of this FIASCO at the DNC
3. Support Good Guy Dems

Beyond that, you don’t owe anybody else anything. You own your vote. Just use it this November.

Morning Thoughts

You know, one of the most thunderous applause moments during the DNC was when some idiot (I forget which one) made the comment that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result. I’d heard Obama spout this little piece of e-mail-from-your-aunt kind of wisdom from the campaign trail, and I always hated that kind of thing. People, your e-mail humor is not funny to the rest of us, okay? It’s like your dreams; we just don’t give a shit, so shut up about them already. Anyway, I always like to note the irony as I meander through this life, so I do think it’s pretty funny that this little meme actually perfectly explains my choice this year–the McCain/Palin ticket.

For two presidential elections now, and for several preceding the Clinton administration, it has been quite painful as a liberal to watch as Democrats have gotten excited about their candidate and instilled so much useless hope in people, and then failed to deliver on that promise when their picks crumbled near the end. I am tired of being disappointed, and of out-of-touch Leadership telling me to just trust them as they continue to fail in everything.

The Democrats fucked up royally by sitting on their 2006 win for 2 years. They have done nothing but agree to everything Bush wanted and failed to fight serious policy fights. They also haven’t done anything that they promised to do during their 2006 “revolution.” They thought the Republican brand was damaged beyond repair and they had plenty of time, but they miscalculated, as they did in 1980, ’84, ’88, 2000, and ’04. Guess what? I’m not insane, so I’m not voting for Dems this year, because they continue to fail me. I no longer expect anything different from them. I’ll come home when they act like Democrats again. (For instructions in how to do this: see both Clintons during the Convention) Until then, I’m pursuing whatever else I can get out of the political process, since no one is directly representing me this year.

This new freedom is amazing, too. I feel I have new ears, I can authentically hear how Democrats and liberals sound in the media. They sound like apologists and whiners, btw. The Stevensonian faction, anyway. Anglachel, who articulated the Truman vs Stevensonian difference in the Democratic Party, recently lamented that this argument had been misinterpreted and that all she wanted was for both factions to realize they needed each other. But here’s my thinking on that subject: When’s the last time the Truman faction tried to take over the party by kicking out the Stevensonian faction? Never. Working class folks don’t roll that way–people with excessive privilege do.

Anyway, I feel a bit freed from my bridle these days. I am free to consider anything politically now, and I’m not stuck in old Democratic ways of thinking. My priorities are already re-arranging themselves based on a clarity that I’ve never experienced before. This election, for whatever reason(s), will be truly transformative.

Another thing that occurs to me this morning, with my new eyes and ears, is what a fucking sham the Iraq issue is. I oppose the war and always have. But I don’t think for a minute that Obama is going to do anything different with it. He keeps talking about his 16 month plan (which he stole from Hillary), but here’s the real deal on Iraq: We already have an agreement to be out by 2011. Obama is not going to expedite that, he’ll just stall his constituencies for another few months, explaining away his former statement (like he always does). Hillary might have, but neither Obama or McCain will. McCain is on record saying he’ll support that 2011 time line, while Obama says what he always says–whatever you want to hear–and then goes along in agreement with other do-nothing Dems, while explaining that he has to do this for whatever personally ambitious reason. He’s an opportunitst, and he will never be what you want him to be. He will never deliver like you want him to. His record has been very clear about this: campaign this way; govern this other way.