Thursday, October 30, 2008

On taxes

So lets be clear about taxes. Why is paying taxes so wrong? We have a crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, disenfranchised youth who become criminals and eat up more tax money as criminals, and bankrupt cities. Personally I'm willing to go without and pay a little more to have a better quality of life. I'm willing to pay for children to get a top notch education so that they become great contributors and innovators in society. I think it's a good idea to fund public transportation, specifically high speed rail. And health care, I believe should be a right.

If we all prosper together won't we prosper as a nation? Does capitalism require that we live in a land of haves and have nots? Does wanting people to have what they deserve as humans, make me a bad person...a socialist?

One of the things I actually like about elections is that we get to see the naked insecurity rot by political philosophy, through disingenuous prose and media. A lot can be learned by paying attention to how a political campaign plays on emotions. This is especially true in the current election cycle. And unfortunately for them, it seems that the Republican Party has drastically underestimated the American voter's ability to free themselves from a knee-jerk emotional response to that of thoughtful consideration.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Keep up with the class!

I read today, that Senator John McCain is just now learning how to send email and use the internet. I can't begin to express how disturbing this is. Yes, I realize that this reeks of ageism, but it seems to me if you are going for the top job in the land, you should have the required skills. And in this generation the skills are not in stasis but a constant state of change.

We email on our computers, our phones, we keep digital diaries, we cross reference news articles with video feeds, and look each other up on Google. Accessing information is now a way of life. And while the value of much of the information that is being exchanged is in debate, it is considered a basic necessity to know how to do these things.

There is much to be learned from our senior citizens. We should value their knowledge and experience. But participating in society is increasingly dependent on technology. Considering someone for leadership who is not up to this now most basic task is simply tragic.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why I'm voting for Obama

Two years ago, I went to my state Democratic Convention. This was when there were still 8 candidates in the primary and they all wanted to make an impression, and most of them did.

I was yet to make up my mind at that time, so I tried to be somewhat objective. Bill Richardson was smart and obviously qualified, but I knew he had little chance. Hillary commanded the room and the moment she walked it. She was a force and I was impressed. And Barrack Obama was charismatic and eloquent, but I didn't get the same feeling I got with Hillary. So, I made my choice. I proudly wore my Hillary T-shirt, and put her name on my bumper. I'll admit, I was bitter when she didn't get the nomination. I really wanted her to be president.

I'll also admit that I did not immediately jump on the Obama band wagon. He had my vote, but I had no excitement for him as a candidate until the debates. What Barrack Obama failed to do for me during the primaries, he more than made up for in the debates and the campaign after. I saw a candidate who is thoughtful, methodical, and smart...real smart. And then I learned a little more about him as a person. Despite the Republican's every (wo)man approach, I feel much more of a connection with Barrack Obama's determined rise via an unpriviledged life. Despite his time as an Academic, he does not appear to be so far removed from the modest life that led him to this point.
As a writer, I've never cared for the phrase, a picture is worth a thousand words. In truth I prefer the words. But this picture says it all for me. The caption from this picture stated that Senator Obama said he had already had these shoes resoled once on this campaign, and that was all I needed to know; that despite his education, and experience, he is still sensible enough to know that problems have sensible solutions. It might be inconvenient to resole shoes, but it's sensible. And, beyond that it shows a sense of value that we seem to have lost in recent years. I believe we are more likely to replace things than to fix and reuse them as though we are a country of spoiled brats. Having a leader who will resole his shoes is a sober reminder that maybe we shouldn't want to be like Paris Hilton. Maybe we should want to be more like our grandparents who lived through the Depression, and WWII and learned to tap cleverness and ingenuity from those experiences. Personally, I would be very proud if my grand kids were amazed at what my generation accomplishes. I hope I can tell them, "we elected one of our nation's greatest presidents."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Distracted and enthralled at the same time...

I have expanded my information regime. I am a self described NPR junkie. I can generally tell time by what is playing on NPR. I have subconsciously memorized their format. I know when the music will play, when it's time for a promo, and I can identify the reporters by their voices. It use to be that NPR and a perusal of internet news would satisfy me, but no more. I have new information flirtations.

Perhaps I'll begin with my new favorite website, The Daily Beast. This website is the brain child of Tina Brown, former editor of the New Yorker. She has assembled the a brilliantly snarky staff who sifts through the news to create a daily Cheat Sheet of noteworthy news stories. Her contributors thus far have included Scott McClellan, with his take on W. the movie, former Project Runway super mom Laura Bennett, and host of literati and intelligentsia. It takes a bit of discipline to not spend most of my work day on this site.

My second new infatuation is The Rachael Maddow show. I knew of Rachael from Air America, and always appreciated her even tone and methodical approach to political news. On camera she represents everything that I believe women should be: smart, strong, clever and wise. Perhaps I connect with her show because she's the same age as I am and I appreciate the shared perspective. So little of what is on television geared towards women celebrates that we are actually intelligent creatures. So because of this, Rachael is now a daily necessity on my tube.

It's election season, and for the first time in a long time I am not a participant. In years past, I have worked on campaigns, registered voters, and helped to establish political party headquarters. But this year is different. This year I'm purposely on the sidelines, and surprisingly not utterly sick of hearing the blow by blow commentary. This is in fact a defining election of my lifetime, and for the moment I am cautiously optimistic that something amazing is about to happen. I think part of this optimism is perhaps the reinforcement I've gleaned from leaning media. And even though I know there is a pitfall in being told what one wants to hear, it still is nice to know that there are scores of people who think as I do and appreciate an informed perspective.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Not so gross Turkey Chili

My mom has a knack for really gross stories. She was a nurse for 30 years, and has no qualms about graphic descriptions of things one would rather not know about. Among these descriptions was her story about Chili.

According to my mom, chili came from the meat scraps left on the floor after cows were carved up. They added the chili to disguise the taste to the rotting meat, and the beans were used to make it stretch. It was primarily fed to prisoners or ranch hands. Appetizing no? Maybe not, but in keeping with the need to be frugal and efficient, here's a cheap recipe for turkey chili:

1 lb navy beans
1/2 lb pork or turkey bacon
1 lb ground turkey meat
3 table spoons California Chili
3 table spoons Chili
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1-1/2 table spoons Ground Cumin
1 -1/2 cups white wine
1 cup /can stewed tomatoes (optional)

Night Before slow cook navy beans. Be sure to rinse beans first, and sort out any bad beans. Be sure there is enough water for the beans to expand. Check the package for recommendations.

Cook chopped bacon, set aside. In a separate pan, brown turkey, add bacon and fat in the pan. Salt to taste. In a soup pot, combine meat, chili, garlic, and cumin until meat is coated. Add wine and allow it to reduce.
After wine has reduced by half add tomatoes and beans with all of the liquid. Combine, and taste for salt. Add additional wine and/or chicken stalk if additional liquid is required. Allow to simmer 20-45 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Total cost: About $9 (depending of the price of the wine)

Combine leftovers with white rice, lime and cilantro and Parmesan cheese in a tortilla for a great lunch burrito. If you wrap it with wax paper it heats up really well in a microwave.