Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a giant step backward for women

I vowed to myself I would NOT write anything more about Sarah Palin and her candidacy. But I have been thinking about what it means for women to have this particular woman as the first major party nominee. I don't see anything positive about it. Forget the interivews, forget the sound bites, forget the right wing radio appearances. Think about what it means about how women are seen in politics and, in fact, in the corridors of power. I don't think those women who support her are really interested in what this means for the women's movement, or for how women are viewed in general. Yes, I know. They don't care.

  • What does it say when a woman candidate has to be protected from the media because she's not "ready"?
  • What does it say when the big worry about the debate is that she will be asked questions that are "tough"?
  • What does it say when the buzz is all about her readiness to be the president?

Don't get me wrong. I want a woman in the White House. I want to be able to hear talking heads and journalists and pundits say and write, "In her State of the Union address the president . . ." blah, blah, blah. But I don't want any woman's presidency ~ or vice presidency ~ to be clouded by charges of "unprepared" or "inept" or "just like a woman." I know that last is a loaded comment. What's wrong with being a woman? Absolutely nothing, except if you are trying to do it in a "man's" world and it becomes a pejorative label and a monumental put-down. Do I think Hillary could have done it? Yes, but it would have been tough, and she would have had to fight every inch until she could convince those boys she was smarter than they are. I don't think Palin is smarter than they are, although that it not to say that someday she might be. But this is not the day.

I think McCain has done women a huge disservice by choosing Palin. He has not chosen a woman with experience, knowledge of the process, with gravitas. He has done her a disservice, too. He is promoting her to pander to the conservative base. She is a living, breathing example of what men think about women; cute but brainless. Coy but clueless. Good legs but nothing upstairs. Why was he willing to subject her to what he must have know would be intense scrutiny, probing questions, and intense ridicule? What kind man is he to push her out in front to take that kind on heat? She is a lamb to the slaughter.

She is not the woman I want to see on the national stage at this time, and not because she is a conservative. It's because she lives up to every single stereotype of a woman.

As I have said earlier, Joe Biden is in a bad spot. Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

ain't science grand?

In today's mail I received, unsolicited, unordered, and unexpected, a new blood glucose monitor. For those of you not hip to this little device it's what I use to test my blood glucose levels five or six times a day. A tiny drop of blood and I know if I've eaten too much hot fudge sundae (I wish!) or need a carb hit. The monitor gives me a glucose reading, I program that into my insulin pump (below), tell the pump how may carbs I'm about to eat, and it then tells me how much insulin I need (or don't need). If my blood sugar is high or low, the pump tells me how much I need to get back on track. This is what it looks like with a nice blood glucose reading of 104.

Now this new monitor arrives ~ wireless radio frequency or RF operated ~ and announces that from now on IT will tell the pump what my blood sugar level is. What? My monitor, my pump and I have always had an honest relationship. I would NEVER lie to either of them. Actually, it's hard to lie to the monitor; it tests the blood and tells me the truth about either my sins (high) or my good behavior (normal). But now this new monitor completely bypasses human intervention and goes directly to the pump with the glucose numbers. It's called a "partner device" ~ sounds to woo-woo for me. But I set it up and it actually works. Here it is with the reading it sent to the pump. Amazing.

The next generation of pumps/meters is supposedly going to do it all for me; test blood, relay info to pump AND deliver insulin as I need it. It will deliver a steady drip of insulin as it does now but will also "sense" when I need more to offset meals. The blood reading will be relayed to the pump and then the pump figures the amount of insulin needed to bring the glucose count into normal range.I won't need to figure in my carb count and take enough insulin to deal with it. I will test after a meal, the meter gets the number, emails it to the pump and it takes care of things for me. I AM planning to live long enough to use one of these.

Monday, September 29, 2008

the SNL thing

I am not a regular viewer of SNL ~ I'm always sound asleep by the time it comes on. But I did see this "interview" with Katie Couric and Sarah Palin. I laughed out loud more than once. What was really so funny ~ and sad ~ was that Palin's exact words were used. And these were puff ball questions! Tina Fey is a genius.

Someone was quoted as saying Sarah Palin makes GWB look like an intellectual.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

the next debate

I watched the Obama-McCain debate on Friday night with only mild interest. I assumed both would do well and would behave in a gentlemanly manner. Or at least I thought they would. Although I don't think either hit it out of the park, I was frankly insulted by McCain's condescending attitude and his refusal to even acknowledge Obama's presence by looking at him. I was also impressed by Obama's command of his topics and his erect, calm, forceful (but not too forceful) manner. A few zingers here and there but otherwise a draw.

Now we come to the next debate between Biden and Palin. This one could be interesting. I don't think Biden will "take her on" because that's not his style; he's charming, funny, really smart, and basically a nice guy. But I do think differences should be drawn. My opinion about her remains unchanged. I have see the three interviews and the few sound bites she has given. I remain unimpressed. I still think that her gender has everything to do with her having been chosen, not her skills and abilities. And her gender and those missing skills also have everything to do with the tricky nature of these debates.

"Many have commented on Joe Biden’s dilemma for Thursday’s debate. Assuming Sarah Palin reveals her unpreparedness – a safe assumption – Biden risks looking vicious if he attacks and patronizing if he doesn’t. This wouldn’t be a problem if Palin were at least minimally qualified, and it mightn’t be a problem if she were an unqualified man. But how to debate a likeable-but-unqualified woman in front of millions of undecided voters is a genuine dilemma."
Daily Kos
Breaking through the Fourth Wall
(emphasis mine, of course!)

Remember this dynamic duo and their debate in 1988? I don't remember anyone fretting about how Lloyd Bentsen was going to deal with Quayle's thin resumé, about how he was going to have to be nice and deferential and not hurt Quayle's feelings. We may have said "Dan who?" and snickered a bit, but in comparison to Palin, he was a world-class statesman with 12 years of legislative experience in the US Congress. For your amusement and enjoyment, browse through this and substitute "she" for "he", "her" for "him" and Palin for Quayle. The word on the Sunday talking head circuit is that expectations for her are so low she's bound to exceed them. She may win by just showing up. There's much chatter about how Biden should behave towards her. Again, if "she" were a "he" we would not be having this conversation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

so long, butch

Thursday, September 25, 2008

this man gives me hope

I must confess that I was, until last night, a Hillary Hanger-on. I was still having trouble letting go of her candidacy. But after watching this I jumped whole heartedly onto the Barak Bandwagon. His press conference about the (a) economic situation and the (b) proposed cancellation of Friday's debate was brilliant. Everything about him ~ grasp of issues, temperament, body language, attention to questions and willingness to answer in complete sentences (wouldn't THAT be a nice change!), the tone of his voice, his reassuring manner ~ won me over. This man is presidential.

The contrast between the guy who's in ~ as seen in last night's address to the nation ~ and this guy who wants to get in was stark. No more doubts.

POSTSCRIPT: Just saw this photo.

"Who is that guy and what's he doing in my seat?"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

this guy gives me gas

buddy, can you spare a million?

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion USD. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gramm, lobbyist for UBS, who (God willing) will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a former U.S. congressional leader and the architect of the PALIN / McCain Financial Doctrine, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. As such, you can be assured that this transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully,

Minister of Treasury Paulson

Thanks to Babz for this clever little item.

Monday, September 22, 2008

listen to your teacher

It is reported in this morning's New York Times that the McCain campaign is dispatching the VP pick to New York for a meeting with Henry Kissinger ~ aka Henry the K ~ to beef up her "foreign policy" experience. She will also "speak with" Presidents Uribe of Colombia, Kazar of Afghanistan and others. These meetings should do wonders for her resumé and lay to rest any doubts voters may have about her familiarity with foreign affairs. So listen up, Sarah, and take notes; there will be an oral exam on October 2.

Last night's interviews on 60 Minutes with the two presidential candidates yielded one interesting tidbit only; Joe Biden has been interviewed 87 times since his being named to the Democratic ticket. When McCain was asked about Palin's measley 2 appearances, he dropped his voice (and his eyes) and muttered something about "soon, when she's ready." It's this "ready" thing again. See above paragraph.

Welcome to Autumn.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

sign of the times

While the Patient is swooning over the latest wiffel ball interview by Sean Hannity with Sarah Palin (on Fox, his fav), I thought it was time to get caught up on the blog. I am so in love with the idea of my Smartie car that I haven't wanted to move on. In fact, I have seen one here in town (a white convertible) and saw another yesterday in the CostCo lot (black). But it's time.

Last Saturday I went with Babz and Ali to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen's latest. Sort of a "grown-ups grow up" kind of story. Barcelona looks as beautiful as I remember it. Woody Allen is as neurotic as I remember him. Film is very talky, characters obsessive. Patricia Clarkson is marvelous, as usual. And it's refreshing to see Javier Bardem in a role where he doesn't kill anyone. After the film we three adjourned to Ali's house for a wonderful dinner of ingredients that had all come from her garden ~ except, of course, the wine. We had agreed at the time of meeting that we would NOT talk about politics. However, as the fruit of the vine flowed a bit, we ventured into those murky waters. A thorough airing of points of view was good for the soul.

On Tuesday I enjoyed the luxury of a massage. It got me all ready to make a trip into San Francisco on Wednesday to visit the Asian Art Museum to view the astonishing display of the Ming Collection. It was cool and foggy to start, warm and bright by the time I started for home. The Ming show included objects on loan from various museums in China. But most were gifts to the museum from Avery Brundage, a misogynist of the first water but a man with a brilliant eye for Asian art. This was my first trip to the museum which used to be the old San Francisco Public Library. It was closed down and remodeled into this gorgeous museum by the Italian architect Gae Aulenti. She also did the remarkable remodel of the Museé d'Orsay in Paris. From a shabby, unused, dilapidated train station it was transformed into a stunning, light-filled space in which the créme-de-la-créme of French Impressionist art has found a congenial home. In the Asian, she kept the beautiful ceilings intact, has again brought light flooding into the building. It was a real pleasure to wander through the various exhibitions. The Ming collection on display is not large but it is exquisite.

Caitlin arrived for a few days' visit on Thursday. She is here to be in a wedding in Sacramento tonight. She'll be here until Monday. Also in Thursday I paid my annual visit to my Ob/Gyn. All is as it should be. Good for another year.

During the past few days I have watched the 4-disc set of Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time." This 4-volume novel is one to be savored; it's to be strolled through, not raced. I thought the BBC did its usual excellent job of translating a novel onto the screen. The drawback is that much of "Dance" is the hero's interior monologue and that is almost impossible to reproduce. But it was very enjoyable; good casting and great art direction.

That brings us to Saturday. Tomorrow begins Autumn, according to the calendar, but the weather here in the valley remains warm and lovely. Cait and I had a long walk this morning and I would have sworn it was mid-summer. Yes, the nights are cooler as are the early mornings, but it warms up nicely by 10 AM.

Time flies.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

in my shopping cart

On Wednesday I went in to the Sacramento dealership for the smartfortwo® car and placed my order for this snappy model called "the passion." Red exterior, red interior, sound system upgrade. Total tariff: under 15k. By the time I get it ~ 12 to 14 months ~ I'll probably be too old to drive. I can only hope that there will be cancellations along the way and my name, like cream, will rise to the top. Meanwhile, this is my latest pin-up boy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

gertrude stein speaks

I watched and listened carefully to Charlie Gibson's interview with putative VP Palin. Even he was driven to ask for clarification, to comment on the "blizzard of words" that said nothing and answered none of his questions (that were probably vetted by the RNC before the program). And he's easy. There was nothing to indicate that she would be able to answer the heartbeat call. I was not relieved of my anxieties. I remain convinced that "there is no there there".

Blessings on the 9/11 victims.

Later: I watched the interview again on rebroadcast via streaming. Yep, I'm still convinced. Even more so after listening c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


First, there would be no discussion of "lipstick on a pig" if one of the candidates had not asked, "What's the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom?" (This doesn't say much for hockey moms but they don't seem to mind.)

Second, McCain has used this phrase at least three times. But that was BEFORE Palin entered the race. Again, nobody seems to mind.

And finally, there should be absolutely NO difference how a political argument is framed whether the candidates are male or female. "Lipstick on a pig" is a time-honored phrase no matter who's running.

Monday, September 08, 2008

"the diving bell and the butterfly"

Many of my acquaintance have raved about this movie. It finally made its way to the top of the Flix® list and I watched it this afternoon. Yes, it's a gorgeous film, a tribute to the indomitable force of the human spirit. Only two tissues. Don't miss it.

the pain of family

I watched this little gem yesterday afternoon. The father (Jeff Daniels) was so unlikable I almost quit, but realized that's just who he is - puffed up beyond belief, self-absorbed, distant, disconnected, pathetic. Laura Linney is excellent as his blossoming wife. Very good movie. I recommend it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

did I hear him right?

Rick Davis, McCain campaign manager (yes, the same Rick Davis who said the campaign is about personalities, not issues), was interviewed on this morning's Fox News with Chris Wallace. When asked why Gov. Palin was not being interviewed along with the other candidates, he explained it this way. "When the campaign feels she's ready she'll be available for interviews. But she'll do them on the terms and conditions the campaign decides." She won't subject herself to any tough questions from reporters "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

Ready? Tough questions? Deference? What's going on here? Does Joe Biden get this sort of pass?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

this old house

This sprawling brick house in the countryside outside Pittsburgh is where we spent the Labor Day weekend with the Patient's sister, Judy, and brother-in-law, Dwight, and their younger son, his other sister, Jane, his niece and her husband. Eight in all. The original house was built in the 1920's by Dwight's father and is where he was raised. It is a big, comfortable house with rooms meandering off here and there, up and down. Even with eight of us there was still plenty of elbow room. Judy is a fabulous cook with, unfortunately for her, a tiny kitchen. Nonetheless she and Jane turned out wonderful meals eaten around a big dining table that accommodated us all.

We drove from Columbus on Saturday; it's about a 3 1/2 hr. trip. I have never been to Pittsburgh and the first sight of it took my breath away. It sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio. From the west, you drive through the Fort Pitt Tunnel out into the brilliant sunshine and there, spread before you, is the glittering city surrounded by blue water. Wow-za! There are bridges everywhere, two giant sports stadiums (the Pirates and the Steelers), old brick houses next to steel and glass high rises. There are also two "incline" trolley systems - like funiculars or cable cars - to take passengers from the "lower" city up to Mount Washington.

On Sunday the two sisters and I went on a shopping trip so I could find some battery-operated paper lanterns to hang on umbrella ribs and from trees in the garden. I saw them on Judy's front deck and decided I just HAD to have some. We were successful in our hunt and I came away with a dozen, some for here, some for the beach. When they arrive I will put up a picture of them. After that little score we drove down to the waterfront in Pittsburgh called The Strip.

Great ethnic markets, bakeries, a really good kitchen equipment store (think Sur La Table), restaurants.

Then it was back home for a big family dinner out on the decks. We were joined by Judy's oldest son and his wife. The big announcement was that they are expecting their first child in February. Much cheering and delight. We sat in the cool of the evening telling family stories, talking about politics (9 to 1 was the line-up!), child-bearing (of course), enjoying the fellowship. This is a family group - youngest was 25, oldest was 74 - who truly enjoy being together.

Monday morning we returned to Pittsburgh to get ready to fly back to California on Wednesday. It was a very good visit on all accounts. And we'll do it again next year, God willing.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


This was his big moment, his chance to invigorate his followers to stand and deliver. He missed it. Cindy, too. Standard fare, nothing compelling or exciting or innovative. I thought he'd do much better. Even the talking heads are let down.

*My original headline was "boring" but I've decided "bland" is better.

if she were a he

I don't write about politics in this blog but I have been galvanized into action by this latest weirdness on the part of the Republicans. I have just returned from visiting the Patient's family in Ohio and Pennsylvania where I was the only voice of sanity amid committed conservatives. As much as I love them, it was tough!

Much ink and hot air has been swirling around about McCain's surprising choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Has her treatment by the media - left and right - been a bit over the top? Has it ever! Has it been sexist? I don't think so. Is her family off limits? Not until she puts her foot down. Does "experience" count? Yes. Is she ready to "take over" should something befall the president? Hardly. Should a woman spend more time caring for her children and less time climbing the political ladder? What a stupid question. That's what Dads are for. I, for one, am sick of it all. However, for the sake of argument, what if Sarah Palin were, in fact, Bobby Everyman?

When the announcement of McCain's choice for VP was made, the right went wild! A new face! A breath of fresh air! A perfect youthful compliment to McCain's age. A bold stroke that will confound the left! Then, after a pause to catch its collective breath, they asked, "Who is Bobby Everyman?"

Mr. Everyman has a very short resumé. He was the mayor of a town of 9,000 (seven times smaller than my own) and the governor of Alaska for 18 months, a state of 670,000 that would get lost in San Diego County. His "executive experience", about which much has been made, is limited to those two political positions. He has no legislative experience either, if that matters. Despite his assurances to the contrary, he has managed to bring big federal bucks into the state through earmarking (which he says he does not support) for projects of benefit to both his mayoral town ($27 million) and the state ($279 million). Much has been made by other Republican second-runners like Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee, of his "accomplishments" and "exercise of state powers." When looked at closely, most are between exaggerations and outright whoppers.

People are of course interested in Mr. Everyman's family; he has five kids, including a new baby and a 17-year old baby who's going to have a baby with her 18-year old baby boyfriend. Are these things important? Only in so far as they are a reflection of his "family values" and "cultural choices." Nothing more. Does every American family have these issues to deal with? Not that I'm aware of. Should his family be talked about? No, unless he trots them out at every possible photo op. Should he then cry "foul"? No, he's the one who opened them up to scrutiny by parading them around. If you say that your family is "off limits" there is a way to make it so.

In considering Mr. Everyman for the #2 spot, after extensive vetting, including talking to members of the governor's office, he would have been deemed too inexperienced for the job. Instead, he would have been named the keynote speaker at the convention (as was Obama in 2004 for the Democrats where he was "introduced" to the nation) with the idea that by the next election he would be a known quantity with four more years of "executive" experience and would then be ready to take the reins for the Republicans. If she were a he.

I have heard Cindi McCain say that the coverage of Gov. Palin is sexist. I disagree. I think the most sexist thing that has happened is that her husband chose Ms. Palin only because she is a woman. And to get the disgruntled Hillary-ites to vote for him. Sarah Palin is not Hilliary, not by a long shot. If women supported Hillary ONLY because she is a woman, they may be lost to the Democrats unless and until they realize that a vote for Palin will shoot them in the foot. If, however, they voted for Hillary because of her politics, her message, her policies, and because she was the standard bearer of the Democratic party, there is no way they can shift to Palin. If you are a believer in the policies that matter the most to women ~ choice, equality, health care, education (sex and otherwise), the environment, the economy ~ you do not want Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

That's my argument and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

it explains everything . . .

Rush out and rent "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." It explains everything about the current political situation. It's amazing how right on it is.

from the atlanta airport . . .

Waiting for seat assignments for the flight to Sacramento and home sweet home. It's been a wonderful week but I'm ready to be back in my own bed. And much has happened that I will try to sort out and comment on after I've had enough sleep!