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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Funny. But sad.

I’m watching Jon Stewart on my laptop and he just described Sarah
Palin’s knowledge of North American as, “Us, gay us up there and the
burrito guys down there.” Which I thought was pretty darn funny.

And speaking as ‘gay America,’ what’s with the actually voting in favour of
prop 8? It took me a couple of days to figure that out, because I confess it did not seriously occur to me that it would pass, so I didn’t take the effort to find out the results. Vote in the
black dude but keep oppressing the gay people. Baby steps, I guess.

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I have New Yorker magazines all over, strategically-placed in the bathroom, by my bed, in the car, in my backpack. I had a bath this evening and read the bathroom one, which turns out to be one of the more recent. It has a David Sedaris column. I love Sedaris. He holds the same opinion as I do on the undecided voters in the American election, only he’s funnier about it. This is what he writes:

“I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want to lot of attention?

To them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down th aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it besides my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

He then goes on and write about how his mother made him vote for her when he was 11 years old, which also kind of resonated with me because in the election we just had, I marked the X, but it was Asher who told me who to vote for. There we were, behind the little ballot box and I still hadn’t made up my mind, so I asked him, “Liberal or Green?” and he said, “Liberal,” so I put an X next to the Liberal’s name.

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Speaking of Asher, we got him a computer, putting out family total at 5 – two desktops and three laptops. This is not something I ever imagined. I did imagine maybe have 2 computers, one for the kids and one for the parents. Clueless.

We have the old desktop and the new desktop (pretty much side-by-side), J’s laptop, my laptop and Asher’s laptop. Asher’s is little and cute and he loves it so much he refers to it as his baby.

Asher has a graphomotor disorder. Basically, he can’t write. He has an awkward grip and this weird, uneven scrawl. And he’s slow as all get-out. They teach typing at school and, even at the age of 9, he touch-types faster than he writes. We are hoping this will reduce his frustration level. The new challenge? Not losing the laptop at school.

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Okay, I confess, I haven’t figure out how to embed youtube videos, but I just have to pass this one on:

It’s John McCain, on Meet the Press. Go watch. I’ll wait.

Okay, now really, how can anyone vote for him? Of course, lots of people forget stuff. I forget stuff all the time – names of common household items, descriptive words I’m sure begin with a “D,” fiddle lessons, doctor’s appointments, whether I met that guy before. But the thing is, I’m not running for President of the whole damn United States of America. And people who want to be President shouldn’t forget a list of just five names while being interviewed on TV. Just no. Vote for the other dude.

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Snow. Snow happened here before Halloween. Real snow. It was a bit surreal. The dog found it just perfect for a wee lie-down. At 11 pm, when I was trying to get everything turned off to go to bed.

Even with that, I didn’t expect snow snow this morning. And yet, there it was. Big scramble for boots, mitts, hats. The kids had eaten dinner and were out by 7:15. Except Maya. She’s post-snow excitment. Jasper isn’t. Even after the kids left, he’d go out and snowplow around, come in and thaw all over the wood floor, and then head back out again. Oh, the fun.

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Hope

The American election is coming up very soon. I was a good girl and voted in our wildly-exciting Canadian one, doing my bit to try to unseat the Conservatives. It didn’t work. I didn’t really care. I would have liked pretty much any of the other party to form the government, but since the Conservatives didn’t get a majority (their power is therefore limited), I don’t really care.

When I realized that I didn’t care too much about the Canadian election was about the same time that I realized I do care about the American one, even more than I want to. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if the Republicans actually get power (or steal it, like they did 8 years ago), I will cry. Really cry. Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said it best when he told the Americans, “Living next to you is like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” It feels like their election matters more to Canada than ours did.

Ages ago, when Hilary and Barack were battling it out, I was for Hilary in a vague kind of way. I didn’t pay much attention. I just wanted the woman to win, and I thought she deserved it because of her greater experience. But Barack won, so I contentedly shifted my allegiance to him because any Democrate is better than any Republican in my mind.

Then the Republicans picked McCain and I got more vested in Obama, because the idea of a guy who happily abandoned every single principal he appears to have ever held in order to be president is a guy you really don’t want to be president.

Palin really pushed it over the top as far as fear of Republicans go. Although she is vastly, vastly amusing, the idea of her actually having some power gives me the shivers.

But here’s what really did it for me: I finally watched Barack Obama give a speech. I’ve read tons about him and what he does and says, but I since we tend to read more than watch TV news, I hadn’t really seen a lot of him.

It was a speech given only a week or two ago, while the Republicans are trying to stir up latent racism and suggest their opponent is a terrorist. Obama, to my surprise, talked about unity and how everyone, Republicans and Democrats, want what is best for their country. His speech was (dare I say it?) downright inspiring. I realized – oh shit, he’s not just the not-bad guy, he’s actually a good guy. And he’s ahead in the polls. And he might actually win.

So I’ve gotten my hopes up, which I kind of hate. And yet, there it is.

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Politics. It’s oh-so-much fun to be a Canadian these days, because we not only can amuse ourselves with the American election, but we have one of our very own going on too.

There four candidates running in our riding. A Conservative one, a Liberal one, an NDP and a Green. There might be more. I’m always surprised when I get the ballot to see the Communist party or something on there, but basically, there’s those four.

Maya asked me who I was going to vote for. I told her, “Well, I hate the Conservatives, so not him. The Conservatives actually are the most supportive of Jewish causes, but since they are evil in every other regard, they are definitely out. But he’s the sitting MP and likely to win. I’m probably closest in philosophy to the NDP, but they are rabidly anti-Israel and anti-Jew lately, so that rules them out. I’m probably closer to the Greens than the Liberals, but the Greens have no hope of winning. So if the Liberal shows any possibility of beating the Conservative, I’ll likely vote Liberal to do what I can to unseat the Conservative. But if it looks like the Conservative has it all tied up, I’ll vote Green, just to shore up their support.”

She said, “Did you get the binder dividers I need for school?” I’d clearly lost her long before. She, no doubt, expected a one-word answer.

Voting in Canada is further confused by the fact that you are, in essence, voting for two people at once. By voting for the Conservative candidate in your riding, you are also voting for the leader of that party, because the party that gets the most candidates elected forms the government. So a lot of people face the dilemma of really liking the local candidate for one party, but hating that party’s leader, or visa versa. It’s a complicated choice.

The Americans, by contrast, seem to have it pretty easy. Vote Obama or vote McCain. Better yet, those two parties are light-years apart in policy, which should make it even easier in my view. So I was amazed when I popped over to one of my favourite mommy blogs, Notes from the Trenches, the other day. The blogger, Chris, who I find to be funny and articulate and the possessor of a remarkably clean house despite having 7 children living in it, admitted that she hadn’t a clue which party to vote for. Nobody excites her. The post has almost 200 comments on it, most saying they feel exactly the same way. As a Canadian, I was really surprised. I had no idea there were Americans out there with that problem.

I can understand feeling like they are all just lying politicians, although I still think that the possibility of America actually having a black guy in the white house is still kind of exciting. But I can’t get not knowing who to vote for in that election, because the two parties are so utterly different. One is anti-reproductive rights, the other pro-choice; one hates gay people, the other sometimes even lets them get married; one thinks every citizen deserves affordable health care, the other, well, doesn’t; one wants to tax the richest citizens to provide things like health care, the other likes to give tax cuts to the richest. The choice just seems so easy.

It would seem to me that it all comes down to deal-breakers. Most women I know have very strong opinions on reproductive rights, for example. Either they believe that they have absolute say over their own bodies or they believe life begins at conception and abortion is murder. Either way, abortion is pretty much a deal-breaker. Gay rights is a deal-breaker for my gay friends. So how can the American choice between Republican and Democrat be so difficult?

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These past few days, I have been watching American politics with great interest. Things got really fun when Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate. I find her very bizarre and cannot believe that she actually has a good chance of becoming the next vice-president. But then, both times Bush was elected I felt like we were living in the twilight zone, so I supposed it isn’t really a stretch to think that Americans will vote for an old guy and a woman who named her first child ‘Track’.

For a couple of days, I allowed myself to think that this wacky choice did not matter much, because look at the roll Obama is on and of course the Democrates will win this time. But then a friend who is a journalist in the States kicked the chair out from under me, reminding me that Obama still has that huge strike against him. He’s black. I’d have dismissed that if I hadn’t recently heard an interview on the radio with a few ‘ordinary Americans’ praising Obama for appearing to be a very smart, reasonable guy. But they still wouldn’t vote for him because, and I quote, “He’s a coloured.” Okay, then.

But that’s just a side rant. What’s really pissing me off the past couple of days is the emphasis on Palin’s choice to continue her pregnancy once she discovered that her latest child, with the equally unfortunate name of Trig, had Down Syndrome. There seems to be the assumption that, were she not so rabidly anti-abortion, of course she would have aborted the baby.

This makes me crazy on several levels. On one level, it suggests Down Syndrome is a truly awful thing, that the only thing stopping Palin from drop-kicking the baby from her uterus upon this discovery were her Christian beliefs, because … ew, retarded baby. It negates the possibility that she, or anyone else, can just decide that Down Syndrome isn’t a big deal and a Down Syndrome baby can actually be a wanted baby.

The narrative seems to be framed like this: Well, thank goodness she holds these good, Christian, anti-abortion beliefs, or this sweet little ‘special’ baby wouldn’t be here today and we must impose this lack of choice on everyone else so that other sweet little special babies like this will be born too.

And then there’s the whole notion that people who are pro-choice are actually pro-abortion, like they think that all pregnancies should end in abortion. Like, if it were up to them, Palin would have been forced to abort her fifth child.

But that’s not the point at all. The point is that the pregnant woman must be allowed to chose what happens in her pregnancy. Beyond the occasional eugenics wing-nut, you won’t find anyone who is pro-choice who disagrees with Palin’s choice. Because it was her choice.

I am as rabidly pro-choice as Palin appears to be anti-choice (my blog, my terms). My last pregnancy, as I’ve mentioned before, was a, um, surprise. A failure in birth control technology. We had pretty much decided that two kids was good and then pregnancy number three happened. And I was already 35, which is when more prenatal screening for birth defects is recommended, as the odds of a problem are higher. According to the anti-choice narrative, this is where I should have run right out and gotten an abortion. But that wasn’t my choice. I decided to have the baby. I wanted the baby, even if she was born with problems.

I had no screening with the first two, beyond the standard ultrasound, and chose to have no screening with the third either. She may have been a surprise, but for me she was already here and I wanted her, no matter how she came out. I decided that I didn’t fear Down Syndrome because, well, she will be who she will be. (I was convinced she was a she.)

I didn’t do this because I am anti-abortion. I was just anti-me-having-an-abortion-at-that-moment. I would never, ever presume to put myself in the shoes of another woman and dictate how she would feel or what she would do. I’ve accompanied a friend to an abortion clinic and waited so I could drive her home afterwards. It wasn’t a happy occasion, and my friend wasn’t happy to have an abortion, but she did not want to be pregnant at that point, and I remember sitting in the clean, professional, safe clinic waiting room, so relieved that this choice was available – not as relieved as my friend was, though.

We are lucky, my friend and I, to live in a society were she was allowed to chose to end an unwanted pregnancy and I was allowed to chose to continue my surprise one without any screening, even if my chances of having a child with Downs was increased. And we just might be lucky to not be living in the United States, where in a few months a woman who would like to take that choice away from American women might be one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

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