Tuesday, September 30, 2008


You can vote today! And if you haven't registered, you can register and vote and be done with it. The Obama campaign says vote early if you can . . .

Also, watch out for the issue on those PAYDAY loans--the quick cash businesses that are everywhere now. If you vote YES, you are voting against them. If you vote NO, you are voting for them. Be sure to read the language carefully.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hey, wasn't it the McCain/Bush folks who wanted us to dump Social Security and privatize it--you know, put it into the stock market? Imagine what that would look like today . . .


A spokesman for Mattel announced today that media references to McCain's wife as Barbie have caused sales of the popular doll to fall by 23%. The addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket has increased sales of brown haired Barbies by 33%.


97% of the 350 businessmen who own tanning parlors say they were thrilled by the addition of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket. 92% of these men already knew that Sarah Palin has her own personal tanning bed in the governor's mansion in Alaska. 62% of the men who believe in a tanner American say John McCain's melanoma could hurt their business by as much as 25%, but that the tanning Sarah could improve business by up to 50%.


36% of the 700 women polled who are between the ages of 42 and 65 define themselves as "sensitive souls." 50% of these sensitive souls are unable to watch John McCain for more than 6 minutes without breaking into hives. Procter and Gamble has recently released a new product which has been tested extensively on 1000 bald mice and is said, when applied to the skin, to cleanse 97% of all bad vibes. The toxic removal cloths, available in handy wipe containers, are said to protect 79% of all sensitive souls.


65% of 570 women polled who were under the age of 29 believe that the country is ready for a women president. 33% of 623 women over the age of 48 agreed. 47% of the women in the latter group believed that the future woman president must dress in navy, tan, or black. She should never wear purple, yellow or turquoise outfits like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


55% of all freckled white men under 5'3" and over 50 years old say they are voting for McCain. 33% of these freckled little men say they are undecided. 42% of these men have a college degree and will vote for Obama. They will also get checked for skin cancer once a year and wear sunscreen and hats when they go to the beach.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Emergency Telegram from John McCain

This was in my mail today. I keep getting these requests for money. I don't understand. I thought John McCain wasn't allowed to take private gifts, now that he's accepting public funding. Does anyone know if this is really legit?????

Dear Friend,

I have never been one to mince words, so I'll get right to the point. If you are at all concerned about the prospect of Democrats taking control of the federal government, I need your help and I need it right now.

With the election less than six weeks away, we must reach a critical funding goal in the next 15 days to keep our campaigns on track and get our message to the voters--or we risk losing ground to the massive fundraising of the Democrats.

To stay competitive and ultimately to win this election we must raise $21.5 million in the next 5 days . . .

That is why I am reaching out to you today and asking you to support our campaign by rushing an Emergency Contribution of $5,000, 2500 . . .

Make your check out to McCain Palin Victory 2008


Friday, September 26, 2008

Map of the U.S. by Jimmy

Congratulations Jimmy!

Congratulations to Jimmy for passing his CS prelim at Berkeley. Hurray!!!! Jimmy has poems forthcoming in Gargoyle, too.

Sarah explains the bailout

"That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in . . ." Palin began, before meandering off in fruitless pursuit of coherence.

But I'll let the governor speak for herself:

" . . . where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh -- it's got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

“I have come to the conclusions that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.”

Charles de Gaulle

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.' 'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it half an hour a day. Why, sometimes, I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.'

Just a Community Organizer

Yes. That's a pretty good description of what a Peace Corps worker is. And I know it's just politics, but I am still so offended by Palin's and Giuliani's sarcastic comments . . .

Monday, September 22, 2008


How can I ask this question? How can I explain to you what happened?

1. I need help. I borrowed 700 billion bucks of your money. I lost it all in Vegas. Would you give me some more, please? No?
Let me try again.

2. Dear, dear Friends. I know you will understand. I know you trusted me. But I have to say something . . . About that loan you gave me of 700 billion bucks . . . I lost it all. In Vegas. Don't worry. If you give me 700 billion more, you can get it back again.

(Okay, I admit. I have to be honest now. It wasn't ALL spent at the craps tables. I spent $100 billion on room service.)

3. Does anyone want to shoot me?

4. Don't you love the parable of the prodigal son?

(And oh yeah. I still need some help with that fun we are having over in Iraq. How much was that per day? I like to forget.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why study philosophy, religion, poetry, art, dance, music?

When I went to college, I didn’t know anyone who majored in business. None of my friends asked, why are you studying that? Meaning, how will you ever get a job if you major in music or art of English or . . . Now so many of my friends' kids study business. They're all about the job after. And when they ask the question--what were you thinking? I have no answer. But I do know I am really happy I didn't worry about it. And I don’t know when it all came down to a question of dollars and cents. Maybe we were still in the hippy era, still believing in peace and love and happy evers and ... All of us worrying about silly questions like the meaning of life. Jeepers. Were we nuts?

Whatever it was, I loved all the impractical subjects, esp. philo and religion. I know it’s not going to ever "pay off." But it was just so much fun. Like having a tea party in the mind. I miss it . . .

Just thinking for the sake of thinking. I still love to think about Descartes saying, je pense, donc je suis. (I think therefore I am. Cogito ergo sum.) Which has become transformed in so many New Age best sellers: how I think, wish, or pray determines who, how, what I am (and sometimes you, too, oddly enough) or become.

It’s fun to play with, to say-- I don’t think like a blonde, even if I am one. But then again, can one see one’s own mind? (Or can you really say, it’s not me. It’s just my thoughts that are the problem? Is there a divide?)

Which reminds me of the French philosopher Michaux Henri ( not to be mistaken for the poet Henri Michaux), who wrote about thinking about thinking about thinking. After a while, you can lose track of where the thinker is—it’s as if the I becomes lost in the center of a Russian doll. According to Keirkegaard, there is no greater loss than the loss of the self. No one will notice when it happens. Or care, as Camus suggests, which is really creepy- his ability to make a reader feel as if life is an absurdity, and you have no meaning at all. But I think it was Hegel who suggested there is no I anyhow, really. Rather, all that actually exists is thought which moves through time in a dialectical manner. Theses, antithesis, syntheses. I don’t recall if God was in the theses or the antitheses, but I am pretty certain God was just another thought.

But Kant suggested one might act as if there is a God (though he preferred to talk about reason, pure reason, which made no sense to me at all. He was a really odd duck, and so was Aristotle—all I really remember about him is that he preferred shellfish to women.), which reminds me of Pascal. I never cared for the Pascalian wager, myself, but I love, LOVE the story of Blaise Pascal’s vision, which so changed his life, he felt a deep despair when it ended. If only it could have gone on forever, he thought. He tried his best to keep it in his mind and even sewed a note in the lining of his coat with the single word, fire, to remind of the time he spent in heaven. Like St. Teresa, he longed for the other world, the one that is so much brighter than this one-- which is like some dim shadow in comparison, which brings me back to Plato. (As the feminist theologians say, everything moves in a circle. And the Buddhists say so, too.) The Buddhists teacher, Kornfield writes, it is impossible to hold onto moments of vision and bliss, no matter how intense they are. It is a little like trying to write in water. Whatever the I is, it changes so slowly we hardly notice (unless one is like Keats and feels his life slipping away even as he composes his famous lines and letters), and so quickly we will think we have barely been here when it’s all over. Of course, death is key to every religion. As Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita, the strangest thing about man is that he can see death happening all around him, and still think it will never happen to him.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Do you ever think people are just like-- so irritating?

I was taking a nice nap until you came along.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not Just the Bush Doctrine

I can not believe that anyone can argue about whether or not Sarah Palin should know what the Bush doctrine is. Not only should she know the Bush Doctrine, she should also know the the Clinton Doctrine (used in support of our intervening in Bosnia), the Kirkpatrick Doctrine (the doctrine of the U.S. ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick --in the 1980s --which justified the support of creepy anti-communist dictatorships during the Cold War), the Reagan Doctrine (which justified support of the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, the Contras in Nicaragua), the Carter Doctrine (aimed at keeping the Soviets out of the Persian Gulf, at justifying our presence in the Persian Gulf ) . . . all the way back to the Monroe Doctrine. It is, after all, relevant to the job. We need a candidate who understands what we are doing, what we have done in the past, why and when and how, not one who believes we are in Iraq because God put us there. (That's not a God I'd want to believe in.)

And besides, it's fascinating stuff to read about. I get all of my facts mixed up, all my dates and deals. My black Mondays and Tuesdays and Fridays. But then, I'm not running for office. (Why is it that so many people want a candidate who is as uninformed and uneducated as we are? Why are we afraid of those who actually have some expertise? ) The one candidate who knows all his facts I am sure, though, is the one who is a professor of constitutional law. No doubt about that.

McCain, the Problem

This video will make you want to pray.

What I do not understand is--why is this not the central issue of this election? Whether one is Christian, Buddhist, atheist, humanist, pro-life, pro-choice, pro-polar bear, anti-polar bear, red state, blue state, green state, pink state, rich, poor, old, young . . .


God, the Problem

Friends often ask -- how can anyone be Christian? They are usually referring to the Bush-Christians. I find it hard to believe, too. How can anyone be a Bush-Christian? A Palin Christian? But I like to think about things, whether I agree with them or not.

As a former student of religion and philosophy, I still look up some of the great theologians of our time. I want to see what they have or had to say. One such man is Gordon Kaufman who gave a talk on his book, God, the Problem, at my college when I was 20. He talked then of how religions can become truly inhumane --the more fundamentalist usually = the less humanitarian. Below is an excerpt of him writing about the environment.

"So it is not really evident that God (as Christians have traditionally understood God) provides a solution to what is a major problem for men and women today: the ecological crisis.

This is a different kind of issue than Christians (or any other humans) have ever faced; and continuing to worship and serve this traditionally conceived God may even get in the way of our seeing clearly the depths and importance of this crisis. For now it is not a matter of finding a way to live with or overcome despair or meaninglessness or guilt or sinfulness, or other human suffering -- those profound problems of human subjectivity. It is a matter of the objective conditions that make life possible: we are destroying them, and it is we who must find a way to set them right.

This is not, of course, a specifically Christian or theistic problem: it is a problem in which all humans are implicated, and we are all called to do our part in its solution. So the central religious issue today confronting humankind is of a different order than ever before. And we may no longer claim that Christians have a corner on the solution to it; nor do Buddhists, or Jews, or the adherents of any other religion. What is now required is a reordering of the whole of human life around the globe in an ecologically responsible manner -- something heretofore never contemplated by any of our great religious traditions. All of humankind must learn to work together on this issue, or it will simply not be taken care of. We may not, of course, be able to solve this problem at all; we may already be past the point of no return."


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Remembering Black Tuesday . . .

I wonder how our candidates will best frame our economic woes.

I keep thinking about how, after Black Tuesday and all, Herbert Hoover promised that prosperity is just around the corner. But it was Roosevelt who first made good use of the radio, that amazing, new technical accomplishment . . .

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

(I always get black Monday and black Tuesday mixed up. Argh.)

Change in 2008? I hope so.


Preachers and Politicians

When I was in college, I studied a lot or religion and philosophy. I will never forget the day -in my senior year--when one of the students stood up and started talking on and on. (I think we were discussing William James at the time.) The professor asked him to take his seat, and the student refused. I know God, he said. You have to listen to me. God is telling me what to say-do-think . . .

The professor put his arm around him and led him out the room. The student, I later learned, had to spend some time in a mental institution. I asked about this event later, and the professor laughed. He said it's not an uncommon event to have someone become deluded in this way. To think that God is telling him what to do or say. That he knows what God wants and means, that you don't. It happens to preachers and politicians, too. To those who want the microphone most.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A line from the Koran and from Li-Young Lee

In times like these, religion is so closely linked to politics. The Muslim religion seems particularly scary.

In college, when I studied religion, I remember thinking that the Muslim religion was beautiful. At least what little I learned of it. But now, years later, I recall only one line from the Koran, which I scribbled in my notes. I love this line:

"Because you are within his workings, God is closer to you than the vein in your neck."

Which reminds me of a line from a Li-Young Lee love poem:

"My tongue remembers your wounded flavor.
The vein in my neck
adores you."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sometimes it seems as if news comes in too fast, too fast. I am reminded of that William Stafford poem (which I can't put my finger on) when he writes something like:

The world will end . . . And I’ll be going to the bathroom or something. And miss it . . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

from Conversations at the Beauty Parlor

I don't know what you're talking about with corporations. Like they have rights? I don't know. I am not up on this shit.

But I do know one thing, Honey. As a black woman? I don't have the same rights or, like, opportunities. People don't get it. They think I'm just playing the race card.

But take Sarah Palin. If that lady were me. If she were a black woman from Nowhere, Ohio instead of No Place, Alaska . . . And If she had a pregnant daughter at 17? And five little kids of her own? Shit.

They'd say she was ghetto trash. Nobody would give her a chance.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

But She Lies,

a friend tells me after listening to Sarah Palin say again that she didn't support the Bridge to Nowhere . . .
She lies and lies! How do politicians get away with it?

The politician knows he or she must be whatever we want him/her to be. He or she must give speeches then that are not really speeches, but only the idea of speeches. They have no content, but they have the idea of content. An ideal speech is based not on words but on a study of how the words are felt (not heard). And gestures. Yes, it is as much an unspoken language, a manner of speaking, suggesting, meaning to mean . . . . Sometimes one will raise his or her hand or voice to distract the eye. A woman might touch her blouse her skirt or look down, just so. Other times she might laugh for a moment, and shift her glance to the side to deflect from the lie she knows she is saying, but it's no problem. Because she knows they are touched by her almost words. And what the politician likes most is to touch a devotee, a follower. To touch with their almost-words, their hands, their very being . . . Then a kind of power is sucked into their skins, into the very fibers of their beings. It is a feeling they can never have enough of. It overtakes them, forever and always. In this way they can keep talking and talking, and yes, lying.

Let's Just Be Rhinoceri

What is with all this anti-intellectual sentiment lately? Honestly, do we prefer to be led by idiots?

I hear it all the time. Even my daughter, attending closing ceremonies in the Peace Corps was told it's best not to get a PhD. Esp. not to go to a university like Harvard. Or Yale. Oh, God forbid if you go to the best universities in this country.

(I am not saying that simply attending these universities is enough . . . After all, there are a few legacies . . . )

But people do seem to ask -- why seek out the best education? ( Why bother to rise to the top of your law school class? Esp. if you want to lead this country? ) I mean, honestly, why challenge yourself to be a real thinker? Better to be one of "the people."

Better to be like the rhinos in Ionesco's play Rhinoceros - a play about the birth of Nazi-ism, fascism, nationalism . . . in which everyone is taken over by the urge to become a rhino . . . It's an amazing play and film-- and unforgettable.

Oh, let's just be rhinoceri . . .

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Politician Is a Human? (Or does he have Alzheimer's?)

No, the politician is not a human. The politician knows the people don't want him (or her) to be a human either. Then they might think about human things.

They might wonder or worry. How tired he (or she) looks!
How old!
How pale.
Maybe he is low on B vitamins.
Maybe has has low blood pressure.
Maybe he just needs a drink. An Advil.
A blood test.

A colonoscopy.
A prostate exam. Or a pelvic.
A test for Alzheimer's . . .

(The people think, couldn't they at least check for the Alzheimer's gene?
But then they remember Reagan. That most popular of all presidents.
Esp. years later . . .
Who remembers the Iran-Contra affair, the mining of the Nicaraguan harbor,
the invasion of Grenada . . .

Who needs memory? )

Hurray for the Pumpkin Pie

Politicians are another race, another breed. They aren't even human really. It's true. Scientists are studying them, and the evidence is in.

For one, it can be demonstrated in the way they talk. They talk and talk. They talk constantly, but they never talk as everyday humans do. They only pretend to. This is their secret. This is their game. To master a way of speaking that is familiar, that reminds people of themselves—of their small lives, complete with barbecues and hockey games and laughter and sweet little puppies and kittens and babies. Lots of babies. Yes, to remind them of their lives in their safe little Norman Rockwell towns in their tidy little Norman Rockwell homes with their smiling Norman Rockwell children. The lives they never had but imagined they did. Along with the pumpkin pie and ice cream. Who can best promise the life they never lived? And promise it will stay that way. That no one will take their babies away. Or their pumpkin pies.

Change? No, the politicians know that deep down the people don't want change. They just want more pies.

Some even want to go back to the good old days, to the ideals and the moral fortitude of those founding fathers, way back when, once upon a time. Founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson. And his slave mistress, Sally.

And yes, she kept the baby.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pro-Life Nations and Alpha Males

Who do you think is smarter? People or rats? my high school biology teacher asked us once. Then she added she voted for the rats. Why? She said she had read somewhere that rats stop reproducing when their population becomes too excessive. Imagine if people could only do that!

"World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. It’s a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. Almost all the resources—remember that "living space" is a resource—are used up. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush."


Pro-Life Nation?

El Salvador is the ultimate Pro-Life Nation. When people talk of being pro-choice, I think of the situation there. It's a deeply religious country.

In El Salvador women often see birth control as a a sin, too. In the town where my daughter works, where there is no running water, limited electricity, rampant poverty, women have huge families. This, I suppose, is God's plan. ? Teen pregnancy is a huge problem. Often no one says who the father is . . . The father, after all, is not responsible.

El Salvador is a macho country. Men are the bosses. Women have their babies. No choice about it.

In El Salvador abortion is a serious crime. If you have an abortion, you could end up in prison. For as long as 30 years.

In El Salvador there are no exceptions — rape, incest, life of the mother — A pregnancy can not be terminated legally. As Jack Hitt wrote in his article, Pro-Life Nation:

"El Salvador has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal."

An OB-GYN doctor is required by law to report a client if she sees any evidence that the woman has undergone an abortion. Doctor-client confidentiality? No, sorry. This is a pro-life nation.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

About Sarah Palin

I seem to be missing something, my 91 year old mother said on the phone this AM.
It seems most of the excitement is about her babies.

Yep, she has lots of babies, even a genetically challenged baby. (Is that the politically correct way to describe it?).

My mother, a dairy farmer paused. Then commented in her typical style.
Even the heifers can do that.
We had a five-legged calf once.
We kept it, too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Football Season in Poland, Ohio

So it’s football season again in Poland, Ohio. The insanity has begun. Every day I walk the dogs through the woods and past this football field where young boys charge around, and their parents sit up in the bleachers and scream. (For crying out loud, I want to say, Get a life.) To make matters worse, there’s always this big-assed coach, yelling. I mean, this man loves to yell. I swear there’s some kind of coaching disease that miserable middle-aged men catch, and they go berserk. It's as if they have rabies and can barely contain the urge to bite someone. Really. Someone should lock them up. Or come to the games with a big bag of rotten tomatoes. The other day this coach was making the boys stop the practice and line up. He was really steamed.

How many times do I have to tell you? he yelled.
How you gonna play ball if you don’t know how to line up?
You call that a line?
You call that a g.d. line?
How many of you boys know what a line is?
Look at you boys. When I say a line, I mean a line. You hear me?
And where’s Johnny Z gone. Has anyone seen Johnny Z?
He’s taking a leak in the woods? Again?
He’s taking a leak in the woods when I say line up?
You think you’re going to be taking a leak in the woods during a real football game?
You think you’re going to be taking a leak whenever you want to, like Johnny here?
You think real football players take leaks?

I am reminded of my daughter's high school cross-country coach. (Maybe we all have our coaching stories.)

You think you can skip practice just because you have the flu?
You think any college coach is going to put up with your shenanigans?
You think just because your knee hurts, you can't race?
You think you know your body better than I do?