Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Signed This

Check out this bail out proposal, and maybe even sign it if you like it:

From U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

My Political and Economic Feelings Last Week

By the way, I am thrilled about how I feel post-debate because this was a little bit of how I was feeling last week:

Let there be hope.

How It Went Last Night: Part Two (The Debate)

As for the debate, it is funny because the economy is said to be Obama's strong area, but I thought he really picked up speed after a while in the foreign policy discussions. By the end, I felt he was smokin'! I almost was sorry to see it end.

Of course I don't agree with everything on either side, but Obama did exactly the thing that makes me want him to be president: he gave a highly intelligent and cogent presentation that didn't rely on knocking down his opponent with criticism but instead on peeling back the layers of complex issues and looking at each thoughtfully and carefully.

Listening to a little of the post-debate talk this morning on NPR on my way to work, it seemed folks felt neither candidate came out significantly more strongly than the others, though I know there was a lot of commentary in newsmedia this morning, much of which said Obama led just by a hair. I was surprised more folks didn't see the same thing I did about how he really gained some momentum in the last half of the debate.

I admit I got a little annoyed with one of the commentators this morning who said that Obama didn't show "the fire"...the willingness to attack his opponent that "his supporters want to see." What?!? I am among his supporters, and it is hard to believe that I am the only one who wants a president who will attack ideas (not people) in a calm, and reasoned manner.

Last night a commentator on CNN characterized it as "intellectual generosity." The commentator was using the term as a negative, saying that such intellectual generosity doesn't win elections. However, as a voter, I see such intellectual generosity as a tremendous asset in a president. It seems to me that "intellectual generosity" is a good sign of being able to consider and weigh information from all sides of an argument, and to make determinations based on reason rather than theoretical ideology.

I don't dislike "dirty politics" simply because it is awful to see opponents attack one another. I dislike dirty politics because I think it highlights a character flaw that is significant when selecting national leaders. That is, the inability to be reasoned participants in the political process and to reach out for common ground. If there is one thing a president needs to be, it is reasoned and able to mobilize a wide range of people.

Oh, and by the way, I am absolutely *horrified* about McCain's "spending freeze" option he said he thinks worthy of consideration. That is, the spending freeze on everything except the military and veteran's benefits (and then he sort of murmured something about other entitlement programs...thank heavens there was some measure of logic there). Did I hear that correctly?! Do we really want a guy for president for whom such a thought has even crossed his mind? Um, military state?

...Especially with the economy in the state it is in when more and more folks are going to need help to be well enough to keep the economy going...

That really came out of nowhere because I have to believe that Obama would have been able to list out dozens of important programs and the people impacted who would be in deep trouble if this happened. Not to mention that entitlement programs (that is, as I understand it, programs which are legal obligations of our country for eligible entities...the government's bills, you could say) are among some of our larger expenditures. But you can't just say, "oh forget them! Let's seriously cut them out." Not only because it wouldn't be legal, but because it wouldn't be moral or ethical when you actually consider, oh, just for example: foster children, who otherwise have nothing.

One of my only regrets about the debate is that Obama didn't have much to say about that.

But you know, it really seemed the way McCain said it, like he just pulled it out of the air. And that is one more thing that freaks me out about the guy as a candidate for the U.S. presidency. His impulsive nature seems to outrun his ability to reason when under pressure. Unfortunately, his impulsivity leads him only to those things he knows well: the military, for example. That doesn't leave much room for hope for those of us who are working poor or struggling middle class.

Perhaps McCain's own statement was enough said.

On a final note, as well as I thought Obama did, why oh why is Obama continuing to let "off shore drilling" be characterized as a "bridge" or interim option by McCain? Why oh why is "off shore drilling" even still on the table for either candidate? That is crap! I am telling you: just look at the science.

How It Went Last Night

I really, really enjoyed getting out and watching the debates. It was so much less lonely than watching them just by myself or with G. Politics is so much more fun when in a group. It was great fun to hear the laughter, groaning, or "what did he just say?!" type comments rush through the crowd.

It was a smallish crowd, but a crowd nonetheless. Maybe 18 or 20 other folks. The restaurant was not very conducive to mingling, however. There was the U-shaped bar that was very large and took up most of the room, and then several booths on one side (the far side from the door). When I arrived, all but one of the booths were filled with small groups of folks who had come together. The booth side of the bar (again, that would be the far side of the bar) was also filled with people who appeared to be present in pairs or small groups. Near the arched part of the "U" there were four or five folks standing and chatting, and after I sat down they went over to one of the booths. I would have had to "pardon me" my way through them to get to the other side of the bar. That wasn't very motivating because what would I have actually done once over there? Everyone seemed to have arrived there with people they knew, and were sitting and in conversation with one another. I couldn't even tell who was actually there for the party and who was just there as a patron of the bar.

I couldn't think of a comfortable way to break into conversation. It just didn't have a real "party" atmosphere, with folks mingling. I kept thinking of less shy people in my family and circle of friends, and wondering if they would have thought of a way to break through despite the lack of mingling. I hate being shy!

Anyway, I sat down on the side of the bar with open seats, next to a couple (the only people sitting on that side). They left about a half hour after the debate started. Apparently they were just patrons of the bar, not attendees of the event. A couple of guys sat down behind me and seemed to be watching the debate, but at some point before the end they changed over to the sports channel, so I am not sure they were there for the party either.

I took out my laptop only to find the battery was dead (I had wanted to charge it for an hour ahead of time, but had locked myself out of church just an hour before-- long story-- and that developed into its own issue, so I wasn't able to get to an outlet on time). I had brought along my electrical cord, but couldn't spot a place to plug it in. I ordered a drink and an appetizer and tried to sit sort of leaned back in my chair so it was obvious I was open for conversation. But people remained seated pretty much the whole party through. When the debate ended, I was hopeful that folks would start chatting and mingling, but if it happened, it wasn't during the time I was there. I stayed for a little while, but it was late and I was getting really, lots of folks got up and left.

I bet if the restaurant had provided a simple appetizer or two to party attendees, and circulated among the crowd with those, that would have really helped to make it more of a "party" atmosphere and therefore a good mingling atmosphere. Perhaps they would have had to close off the bar except to those attendees in that case, but that would have actually been better too because then there wouldn't have been the question of who was there for what reason. I certainly would have had an easier time overcoming my shyness if I knew that everyone was there for the party like I was.

In the future, I would want to come early so that I hopefully don't get seated out of where the party is going on. I definitely think I would bring my laptop, and maybe wear a campaign button (which no one seemed to be wearing last night?). Those seem like good visible signals of who is attending for the party. And now that I have an idea of what to expect, maybe I can think ahead of time about some good icebreakers to use with the people who will surely be sitting around me since I will be on the correct side of the bar LOL. Good icebreaker suggestions are certainly welcome!

Friday, September 26, 2008

My First "Debate" Party

I am going to watch the U.S. presidential candidate debates tonight. In fact, I am attending a "debate" party at a local restaurant. I'm actually really nervous. I have no idea what to expect, but I felt motivated to go since I need to start getting out and about in my new city and making friends outside of work.

I'll bring my laptop. The invitation says to do so. My laptop has been having "issues" lately, but if it is functional, I will blog while I am there. If nothing else, this will make the social aspect a little less awkward. Don't worry though ;-). My laptop is a notebook convertible, so I will keep it flat like a notebook and keep my eyes up and scanning the crowd so I am open for conversation opportunities.

I'll let you know what I think of the debates, and how the crowd is!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why I Am NOT Anti-Adoption: Part One

So a while back I posted a placeholder on this blog, with this title. I was writing an essay for the blog on why I am not anti-adoption, and I expected I would be posting it within days.

What I found is that there was soooooo much ground to cover that I was writing something of a dissertation. I started to feel like I had to address all possible arguments against adoption in order to make my post worthy of a read. It was almost as if I was responding to multi-page anti-adoption websites all in one swoop. This was overwhelming because I started this project during the busiest month of the year at work. Then because I was trying to cover such a wide range of issues, my post slowly became unreadable...certainly unreadable in a blog format.

So here is my second try at approaching this topic. I am going to do this in parts, and this first post will be very brief and cover only one of the reasons I support adoption reform but am not anti-adoption. I am posting in this manner on the premise that I will come back every now and then when I have time and post again on this topic, covering additional reasons.

Reason #1 I Am Pro-Adoption Reform But Not Anti-Adoption

There have been different people arguing against adoption throughout history. Often these arguments, made by different groups at different times, are in direct contrast to one another. For example, a little less than 100 years ago, one of the most active, largest, and most vocal groups working against adoption were proponents of the notion of "eugenics." The most common modern anti-adoption advocate would be completely disgusted by the notion of "eugenics" and instead argue that adoption is evil because the separation between mother and child is harmful to that child.

Let's set aside for this post the question of whether it is ever in the best interests of a child to be separated from his or her mother, what should happen to a child once that separation occurs (for example, guardianships instead of adoption), and so forth. And let's just address this singular argument in isolation so that we can work through all of this logically. We can address the other questions later.

The most fundamental question, if one is going to assert that adoption is harmful because separation from a mother is harmful, is whether adoption is the source of that separation, or the result.

Some will argue this is a question of the chicken or the egg, and will cite adoption as the coercive or convincing factor in the separations, at least in private, domestic infant adoptions. I will address that in another post.

First, I will argue that it is a logical fallacy that adoption is a separation.

Death of parent, termination of parental rights, or relinquishment of parental rights is the separation of mother and child. Legally.

Sometimes this legal separation is in fact a marker of an already existing physical separation. For example, in the case of abandonment. Another example would be in the case of long term foster care, which I will talk about more in another post.

Interestingly, notice that I did not specify in the above explanation the biological relationship of parent and child. Because in fact, adoptive parents can die, can lose their kids by court-ordered termination of rights just as any other parent, and can also relinquish their rights just as any other parent.

Adoption, legally, is when an individual or couple accept the legal role of parenthood of a child for whom they don't have that prior legal commitment. That is, when an individual or couple commit to permanently and irrevocably (to the extent that any parenthood is irrevocable) raising a child.

Notice that I did not say that it is "when an individual or couple accept the legal role of parenthood of a child with whom they are not biologically related." It is important to remember that kinship adoptions are not uncommon. In a kinship adoption, there is a biological relationship between the adoptive parents and child.

Notice I also specified that there was not a prior legal commitment. In some cases, for example in foster or kinship cases, a child may already be parented on a day-to-day basis by the adopting individual or couple. Another example of that would be the case of female same-sex relationships in which the parent who did not give birth has no legal rights or responsibilities for a child until she adopts the child in what is called a "second parent adoption." This is the all-too-forgotten scenario among anti-adoption advocates.

My point is this. If the evil is the separation between mother and child, and I certainly agree with the notion that the separation between mother and child is a trauma that should not be written off, then it is in fact the termination or relinquishment of parental rights (or the death of parents) that is the evil to work against. And I will take it one step further. Since termination and relinquishment are often markers of a pre-existing separation between mother and child, the most effective work would be in prevention of the separations that occur before a termination or relinquishment.

This is why it is natural for me to be an advocate for reform on issues that impact adoption. Because frequently, for instance, child protective and foster care regulations can impact the number of children who are taken into foster or kinship care and under what conditions, and how well-supported reunification of the family is. It seems a given to me that a person with compassion and integrity would want to work against unecessary trauma in the life of a growing child.

But the argument that separation between mother and child is harmful as a reason to be anti-adoption involves an acceptance that adoption is the separation. I thus can't be anti-adoption based on that argument.

Now again, I recognize that some see the relinquishment of parental rights and adoption as two inseperable entities because they frequently occur in separate but tandem legal proceedings and some believe adoption to be a coercive tool to lead parents into relinquishment. I will write about that in a future post. There is still value in first being clear about what adoption is and is not.

Edited 1/28/09 to say that I've added the second post to this series (finally!). Please read the second post here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another Interesting Documentary

During lunch today, I watched another Instant Netflix documentary G. said she watched last night. It was called "Kicking It." It was about a Homeless World Cup. It too has an associated website:

Montessori Homeschooling Updates and Blog Recommendation

I've been meaning to post this for some time. It is such an *amazing* resource, I just have to share:

I am hoping on Thursday of next week to start the kids' homeschool. There is so much to do to get ready! We need to rearrange bedrooms because we're converting one bedroom into our classroom. This is a much bigger project than it sounds because one of the bedrooms is still being used for unpacking. We need to finish up that unpacking. I also need to build some shelves I bought at Staples, and I need to get some art supplies for the art shelf. After that, it will be fairly simple for a little bit. I have a lot of lessons we have used in the past that I will be putting back out, but I suspect on Thursday and Friday I will introduce just one or two lessons per day, focus on "grace and courtesy," and likely have a shortened work period. The following week will get crazy, though, because I think the kids will need me to step it up a notch if I am going to keep up with their interests. I will need to work on preparing more lessons, or buying them.

After a couple weeks of settling in, I'd like to get some of the "Montessori throughout the home" straightened out. For example, we have a built-in set of drawers in the dining room that we have been planning to use for place settings. These are accessible to the children, and they can easily begin setting the table for meals. But so far, we haven't gotten that organized.

The other thing on my mind is scheduling. I'd like to have three hours of homeschooling time per day. Because M. does the Montessori Center on Wednesdays in the afternoon, we have been scheduling his therapy appointments in the afternoons, so that we can switch the kids nap schedule to mid-morning. This presents two major challenges. First, it interferes with Sunday School. I am thinking at this point that G. and the kids will attend the other UU church in town because they have an earlier worship option. This was actually our original plan, and in many ways better because they have Spirit Play for young kids (a Montessori model Sunday School), but now G. and the kids have attachments in the church I am serving, so it is hard.

The second big challenge is that I have difficulty waking up in the morning. A LOT of difficulty. But if we are going to maintain this schedule, I will need to begin work at 7am. My trouble with waking up isn't something I can "just get over." I can manage for a couple days at one time, but then it is over. My problem seems to be in relationship with my neurological issues, and I have battled it for many, many years. I've even had to quit a job over it. I kept oversleeping, and I knew I needed to quit while I was ahead because I was falling apart. It is that bad, bad enough that I lost income. If this was something I could cure myself of just by proper planning and determination, I would have done it long ago. So the question is, how can this work? I am not sure yet. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Born Into Brothels

I just watched a documentary on instant Netflix called "Born Into Brothels." It is about a photography education project for children born into the red light district of Calcuta. I recommend it. I didn't think I'd be able to make it through, that it would be too sad. It was sad, but also hopeful in some ways, and important in many more.

See also:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wow! Palin=Bush?

I haven't watched all of the RNC speeches yet, but I just watched Palin's speech. Her world view was reminding me so much of Bush, and then I started thinking about their histories as governors, her denial of the human role in environmental destruction, her attribution of the war as God's will...the list goes on. WTF?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


And in case anyone is tempted to buy the argument that "veterans joke," and that is why a candidate for President of the United States can sing "Bomb Iran" as a joke...let's just remind ourselves of McCain's record.

Come On!

I just don't get it. I am trying to understand. Really trying. But I just don't know how a reasonable person could vote for someone who does something like this, who thinks war is a joke. This clip has been out for a long time, yet somehow folks aren't terrified of the idea of him being President?

Call me dense, but I just don't get it.

And then he says he's proud of it?

And then the most intelligent, thinking defense he can offer is "get a life"?

Monday, September 1, 2008

According to MoveOn

I had read all this before, but seeing it in a list like this is just freaking me out. I want a facts check! It is so hard to believe that McCain, who I believed to be fairly intelligent, has actually made this choice. I feel like he is trying to "commit political suicide" or something. I just am so confused.

Who is Sarah Palin?
  • She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.
  • She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.
  • She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She does not bring an alternative perspective to the table on McCain's energy policy.
  • She sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
  • How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

Also, I have got to say that I am so very, very glad McCain has his attention fully focused on the hurricane situation. Score for sanity! As I understand it, during Katrina, he was celebrating President Bush's birthday with him. I am glad he is now setting a different standard. But I guess I am a little confused by this too. I mean, even though he is not yet president, it's unclear how much time he'll even spend at the convention, if any at all. I think touring the Gulf Coast emergency response systems is highly important for the candidates, but also, calling people to action, which is what Obama's campaign is planning to do. I guess I just worry that this has been used as a convenient opportunity for political spin and exploitation of a bad situation in order to overshadow conversations about things like Palin. I really hope this was an attentive and compassionate move, rather than a 100% self-serving (I recognize it is politics) and calculated one for the political reason that McCain feared he couldn't beat what happened at the DNC especially with the anxiety his VP choice has created.