About Me

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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Doing the Lord's Work II: Door-to-Door Visitation

This morning I went out to visit voters door-to-door for Donnie Lewis who is running for Oklahoma House District 101.
Donnie Lewis
Donnie has a great campaign narrative. He is 25 year old, an elementary school teacher, and an Iraq War vet. He is running against an incumbent in a conservative district, but it is also populated by Tinker Air Force Base soldiers and workers, so I am really hoping that he can win the election.

Door-to-door campaigning is much more fun for me than phone banking. I really enjoy talking to people. When you see people face to face, they tend to be very polite, even rather happy to seem someone actively involved in campaigning.

I was with my friend, Jesse Isbell, a fellow union member, and the families we visited had union ties. That made it even easier.

Politics can be quite enjoyable if you are willing to take the plunge. We only have 10 days till the election. Many elections are won and lost in the last week, so I encourage you to get off the sidelines and get in the game.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doing the Lord's Work

Phone Banking
Last night, I did a couple of hours of phone banking for Dana Orwig, who is running for the Oklahoma state legislature. This was a part of the Oklahoma City-American of Federation of Teachers' effort to elect public school friendly legislators. I belong to the OKC-AFT, Local 2309.
Dana Orwig for OK House, District 87
Phone banking is one of the least popular yet most effective forms of volunteer campaigning. What I was doing was calling fellow AFT members to identify them as pro-Dana, negative or undecided. This is one of the easiest forms of phone banking, made all the more easy because Dana has been a very hard working candidate. Many of those I contacted have met Dana personally and plan to vote for her. A couple have been active in her campaign.

Still, you contact the occasional "grump" who doesn't want to talk, or lets you know that it is NOYDB who they are voting for. You wish these folks would give you credit for being an active citizen, but there is nothing you can do about them.

I'm not trying to brag on myself (okay, maybe just a little), but I do wonder why more of us don't do something to show we are serious about this thing we call citizenship.

I don't know how many Americans do volunteer work in campaigns. Someone, somewhere must know the percentage, but I guess that it must be less than 5% who do.

I'm of a religious frame of mind, so when I tell those I am working with that we are "Doing the Lord's work." And by that I mean that anything that we do in the cause of justice for all must be advancing us towards that day when we realize "justice for all" as being something more than words mumbled when we do the Pledge of Allegiance.

With all the campaigns going on, there is far more need than there are workers to do them. So, I'd encourage everyone to "Do the Lord's Work" in whatever capacity suits you.

No matter what you do, You'll feel like you're a "Real American."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Powell Endorses Obama

This is a major development. First, it absolutely ends the "pals around with terrorist" slime that Palin has been slinging around. Second, it vettes Obama in the one area McCain has had a slight advantage: foreign policy. Third, it insures that Obama will be able to hold on to the headlines for the next 3 or 4 days. This is time that McCain desperately needs to shift the momentum of the race. Finally, it trumps the Lieberman endorsement of McCain. Lieberman has no standing in the Democratic Party since he went Independent. I fully expect him to be dismissed from the Democratic caucus if the Democrats fall short of getting to the magic 60 in the election (or if they can get it without him). Powell, on the other hand, is still respected by many moderate Republicans and most Independents. We could see the "Obamamentum" become a tsunami. At least, I hope so.
CNN story

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How Low Can They Go?

In the Sewer?
from Politico

Cindy McCain lawyer invokes Obama drug use

John Dowd, Cindy McCain's attorney, complained in a letter to New York Times executive editor Bill Keller earlier this month that the paper had scrutinized the GOP nominee's wife but not investigated matters surrounding Barack Obama including his youthful drug use.

"You have not tried to find Barack Obama's drug dealer that he wrote about in his book, Dreams of My Father," Dowd wrote in a two-page letter sent to Keller while the paper was reporting a piece about Cindy McCain.

The McCain campaign released the missive late Friday night in response to that story, to be published in the paper's Saturday edition. It's the first time anybody so closely associated with McCain has raised the issue.

A common tactic of trying to deflect your own guilt is to try to push attention to someone else. That way you don't have to deal with the wrong you have done.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rest in Peace, Jake

Jake before his illness
It's a sad day for our house. I had have my cat, my friend, Jake euthanized. I brought Jake into our marriage from my former household. I got him about a year before I met Cat, and we have had him all during the 6 plus years we have been a couple.

Jake was an alpha male, but a considerate one. When Jeremy, my twenty-five year old Persian mix, started declining, Jake always let Jeremy get to the food bowl first, but he insisted being next.

Cat and I noticed that Jake limping around the house. Just a little at first, but it became worse each month. He had developed a shoulder tumor that evently crippled him. It finally got to the place where he had to be helped to get to his food and get to the litter box. Finally, I knew keeping him alive was cruelty, so I did the right thing by him and had his life mercifully ended.

A few weeks ago, Cat and I adopted another cat we call "Dakota" from the city shelter. Like Jeremey, he is a gray, Persian mix. Life goes on, but it's good to remember all the things that bring us joy along the way.

Goodbye, my gentle friend.

Halloween Won't Be Very Good This Year

Obama/Biden Go 4-4

So much for whipping Obama's, er, tukas.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Much Are We At Risk for a New McCain Stunt

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com has unveiled this new McCain Stunt Alert Level system ...

Economists Say "Obama Has Better Grasp of Economics"

In a telling survey, the journal The Economist, survey 142 members of the Bureau of Economic Research, America’s premier association of applied academic economics, on their analysis of the proposed economic policies and overall grasp of economic principles.
The detailed responses are bad news for Mr McCain (the full data are available here). Eighty per cent of respondents and no fewer than 71% of those who do not cleave to either main party say Mr Obama has a better grasp of economics. Even among Republicans Mr Obama has the edge: 46% versus 23% say Mr Obama has the better grasp of the subject. “I take McCain’s word on this one,” comments James Harrigan at the University of Virginia, a reference to Mr McCain’s infamous confession that he does not know as much about economics as he should. In fairness, Mr McCain’s lower grade may in part reflect greater candour about his weaknesses. Mr Obama’s more tightly managed image leaves fewer opportunities for such unvarnished introspection.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCain rids his campaign of a racist

From Fox News-[Yes, I do read Fox News]

Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign has ousted a prominent Virginia GOP figure who wrote a newspaper column mocking a potential Barack Obama administration.

A McCain spokeswoman said Bobby May was dropped this week from his job as McCain's Buchanan County campaign chairman.

May wrote in his column, "The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama," that if the Democratic senator were elected he would hire rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black and change the national anthem to the "Black National Anthem." [see my Oct. 6 post: "Virginia GOP Leader Writes Anti-Obama Racist Screed "]
The column originally appeared in The Voice, a local newspaper.

May has worked on dozens of state Republican campaigns.

I give Sen. McCain credit for doing the right thing here. Perhaps we can conduct the last 3 weeks of this campaign on the issues, not on ad hominem attacks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is the Anger Seen at McCain/Palin Rallies Racist?

When John McCain and Sarah Palin began their personally attacks against Obama, they unleashed a torrent of invective that surprised even them. They have tried, not always successfully, to reign in their audiences.

My question is how much of the visceral invective at these events is motivated by racism and the fear of having America's first black president elected in a little over 3 weeks. I bring in evidence the following photoshopped picture which appeared on the right wing online message board "The Free Republic."
Caption: Shoeshine Boy
The picture appears among the subscribers reaction to a discussion on the possibility of McCain getting some post in an Obama administration. The picture is accompanied with the text, "Back at ya, Obama. Palin has a job for you as well when she is in the white house:". The poster goes by the name "spodefly," and while his posting privileges seem to have been revoked, The Free Republic has yet to take down this piece of racist garbage as of this writing.

Other postings on the web site a full of lies and smears that seem to be creeping into McCain and Palin's rhetoric and advertisements.

I do not believe that Sen. John McCain or Sarah Palin are racists, but they bear some responsibility for feeding the hatred of racists who support them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Let's See Them Put Lipstick on This

Note: The legislative committee was made up of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A legislative committee investigating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found she unlawfully abused her authority in firing the state's public safety commissioner.

The investigative report concludes that a family grudge wasn't the sole reason for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan but says it likely was a contributing factor.

I think this sinks the McCain campaign.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Frank Keating Tries to Slime Obama

Frank Keating never should have been governor of Oklahoma for one term let alone two. He would have never won in 1994 if there had not been a strong third party candidate in the race who took away votes from traditionally Democratic southeastern Oklahoma. The Murrah Bombing kept him in office for another term. Once out of office, he has been floundering around to get back in. Bush turned him down as a possible Attorney General when it was revealed Keating had been given a $250,000 "scholarship" from a donor who wanted to promote a scheme to drug prisoners.

Later his wife and son were defeated in their Republican primaries when they ran for Congress and the Oklahoma legislature respectively.

Keating now is a flunkie for the McCain campaign. Recently, he reflected McCain desperate attempt to tear down Obama's character with the following interview with Dennis Miller, comedian and conservative radio talk show host:
"He ought to admit, ‘You know, I've got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I'm back at the center,'" Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. "I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn't done that."

"Man of the street"? Frank, don't talk in codes to us. Go ahead and admit that you want to remind us that Barack is black.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Who is Concerned Most About the Middle Class?

According to the New York Times, in the 3 debates held thus far, Obama and Biden have used the phrase "middle class" a total of 21 times. McCain/Palin have used it twice.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Keating Five Now and Then

John McCain may now try to claim being officially reprimanded for his part in the infamous "Keating Five" was motivated by politics, but he didn't always think this way. Here is what McCain has said in the past about his actions and judgement:

I created the appearance of impropriety so it was my -- I was guilty, and therefore did not represent the people of my state in the manner which they expected of me. [CNN, Larry King, 10/12/02]

The biggest mistake that I made in my life was attending a meeting with four other senators and four regulators because of the appearance of impropriety, and it is something that will always be a mark on my record, and something that people will judge me for the rest of my life. [GOP Presidential Primary Debate, 1/7/00]

Despite my recovery, the Keating Five experience was not one that I have walked away from as easily as I have other bad times. Twelve years after its conclusion, I still wince thinking about it and find that if I do not repress the memory, its recollection still provokes a vague but real feeling that I had lost something very important, something that was sacrificed in the pursuit of gratifying ambitions, my own and others', and that I might never possess again as assuredly as I once had. [McCain, Worth the Fighting For Page 204]

Daily Kos

Virginia GOP Leader Writes Anti-Obama Racist Screed

One test of character involves how one behaves when the going gets tough. By that measure, Bobby May, the McCain campaign chair in Buchanan County, Virginia and correspondence secretary for the Buchanan County Republican Party, has failed his test of character. Virginia may quite possibly gives its 13 Electoral Votes the Democratic nominee for president for the first time since 1964. May reacted to this possibility by publishing the following racist commentary in The Voice, a local newspaper:
"FREEDOM OF RELIGION: Mandatory Black Liberation Theology classes taught in all churches - raise taxes to pay for this mandate. Put Rev. Jeremiah Wright in charge...."

"DRUG CRISIS: Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base...."

"2ND AMENDMENT: Under Obama will only apply to gang-bangers, illegal aliens,
Islamo-Fascist terrorists, and Senator Jim Webb’s aide...."

"FOREIGN RELATIONS: Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative, and let Bill Clinton handle all other "foreign relations" ... As long as Hillary doesn't find out...!"

"THE WHITE HOUSE: Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.” Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint for the job plus spray-paint forgraffiti...."

"THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, most of it to Africa so the Obama family there can skim off enough for them to free their goats and live the American Dream...."

"NATIONAL ANTHEM: Change to the "Black National Anthem" by James Weldon Johnson...."

"US CURRENCY: Update photos to reflect US diversity; include pictures of "great Americans" such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, and
Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (Obama's new Secretary of the Treasury - 50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination)...."

"US FLAG: Replace 50 stars with a star and crescent logo; red stripes changed to green to represent Obama’s tree-hugging radical environmentalism and his lack of experience. Flag lapel pins, having become a substitute for “real patriotism,” will henceforth be banned...."

There are times when attacking someone else's character, reveals more about your own lack of character. I hope that Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin take a lesson from this. They should at the very least condemn and censure Mr. May for this vile attack.
Source: TPM: Cafe Talk

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Poll Finds VP Debate Moves Voters Toward Obama/Biden

WASHINGTON — Undecided voters who watched Thursday's vice presidential debate really like Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin but they're not certain she's ready to lead the country, according to the findings of a new Ipsos/McClatchy online poll.

If they had to vote immediately after watching the debate between Republican Palin and the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, 52 percent of the 456 undecided voters who were surveyed would vote the Obama/Biden ticket, the poll found.

It also found that Palin's performance in the debate did nothing to clinch undecided votes for her running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain. Before the debate, those same undecided voters were leaning 56 percent to 44 percent for McCain. The day after the debate, the numbers tilted 52 percent to 48 percent for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.
McClatchy Newspapers: "Poll: Palin more likeable, but Obama/Biden gets the votes" by Erika Bolstad

Election Trains

from The Daily Kos

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Palin Lied About McCain's Position on Bankruptcy Policy

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Sarah Palin's main strategy was to stick to her set of "talking points" even when they had no relevance to the questions she was asked. It's a common, if deplorable, tactic that allows the responder to stay off areas where she doesn't have a clue.

It can get you into trouble, though, if your attempt to turn the discussion gets you caught in a lie, which is what happened when the topic turned to federal bankruptcy laws. Biden stated that he believed that homeowners facing foreclosures on their first homes should have the right to petition for relief from the principals they owe. He stated:
"[W]e should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you're paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe," said Biden. "That would keep people in their homes, actually help banks by keeping it from going under.

"But John McCain, as I understand it," he continued, "I'm not sure of this, but I believe John McCain and the governor don't support that. There are ways to help people now. And there -- ways that we're offering are not being supported by -- by the Bush administration nor do I believe by John McCain and Governor Palin."

PBS' Gwen Ifill turned to Palin and asked, "Governor Palin, is that so?"

"That is not so," said Palin, "but because that's just a quick answer."

The Alaska governor then quickly changed the subject to energy. (source: ABC News)

So, Governor Palin, in her haste to get away from a topic she was either unpreped to answer or just didn't want to answer, made a false statement about her campaigns position. When ABC asked the McCain campaign if the governor was right, they had to that Palin "misstated" McCain's position.

Occasionally, I would be caught in a position where I didn't want to get blamed for something I did. I would say whatever parents would want to hear to get me ought of trouble. Later, when the truth came out, my mother's term for my "misstatement" was "Lying."

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Biden's Best Moment in the Debate

Palin tried to protray herself as somehow more in touch with average working families than Biden. His response really turned the debate in his favor.

David McKiernan v. George McClellan

I will comment on the Biden-Palin debate later, but I was interested in one thing Gov. Palin said. I know it was a minor gaffe, but it was still amusing. She called the NATO Commander in Afghanistan, General McClellan. He is in fact, General David McKiernan.

Just so there will be no confusion between the two generals, I have included their pictures.
General David D. McKiernan
General George B. McClellan
Let us hope that Gen. McKiernan has more success in Afghanistan than Gen. McClellan had with the Army of the Potomac.

Barack Obama: Job Loss is Un-American

It's time we had a president who has walked a picket line.

Vote Obama/Biden Nov. 4.