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Democratic Convention Part II: The Party With Heart

Part II: In Praise Of Democrats

Before I say one more word about the Democratic convention, anyone who missed Bill Clinton’s speech last night should run right over to You Tube and watch it now. It is well worth the 49 minutes—this guy can talk, remember?—and he reminds you that there’s still hope in the realm of electoral politics. More on Bill later.


Show Don’t Tell is the first—possibly the only—rule of creative writing. You don’t introduce your main character with, “Jane was prone to daydreaming out in nature.” Rather, you say something like, “Jane ambled down the lilac-lined driveway on her way to pick up the mail as she’d been asked to do, when a cluster of just-bloomed orange tiger lilies beckoned her. She stood admiring them so long that she forgot to do the errand and went back empty-handed.”

This writing metaphor came to me because, at their convention, Messrs. Romney, Ryan, and other Republicans told us, in a mountain of phony verbiage, what caring concerned people they are, while the  Democrats showed their care and concern via a long line of speakers whose lives have been improved by President Obama’s policies. Who knew?

Lily Ledbetter told of the injustice that was never made right for her, but won’t be inflicted on our daughters and granddaughters because President Obama signed her namesake, The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as his first piece of legislation. Ledbetter was one in the parade of strong, righteous women who addressed the convention. There was Nancy Keenan, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League-Pro-Choice America (NARAL); Sandra Fluke, whom Rush Limbaugh called a slut for demanding insurance-covered contraception; and Stacey Lihn, whose baby daughter needed three heart surgeries within the first few years of her life, the cost of which would have maxed out her insured care, until Obama’s health bill made such caps illegal. Said Lihn:

“Like so many moms with sick children, I shed tears and I could breathe easier knowing we have that net below us to catch us if we fall… Zoe’s third open-heart surgery will happen either next year or the year after. If Mitt Romneybecomes president and Obamacare is repealed, there’s a good chance she’ll hit her lifetime cap.”

Stacey Lihn, husband Caleb, and Zoe

There was also a visitation from Sister Simone, a Catholic nun who called Republicanism “Politics masquerading as values.”  This I take exception to: organized religion doesn’t have the exclusive franchise on values. Politics are about who has power and who does not; who has money and who does not; who will eat and who will not. If that’s not defining values, I don’t know what is.

The issues of contraception and birth control were front and center, more than they’ve ever been before, a hard-hitting response to the crap Republicans have been throwing around since the primaries. I give the Dems a lot of credit; in fact, I’m ecstatic  that they seem to have grown a pair. (You know what I’m saying…didn’t you just love Clinton’s similar allusion to “brass?” )

One thing that bothers me, though, about the contraception/abortion debate is the absence of any comparison to policy on Viagra and similar drugs. They’re covered by insurance to “treat” “erectile dysfunction” (gimme a break!) without a single iota of controversial discussion.  You don’t hear men being grilled about their “ED”, they’re simply believed when they say they have it. Men aren’t treated like children who can’t make their own decisions. Nobody even dares to point out that fewer erections are a normal part of aging. Nobody accuses men of wanting others to pay for their pleasure. I’ve heard absolutely zero controversy about these drugs that’ve been flagrantly misused for recreational sex since Day One of their appearance in pharmacies. I even knew a guy who stocked up on them just to sell them at a profit, and I’m sure he wasn’t the only one. I’m not saying I’m against Viagra use; but it does make me furious how different men’s and women’s sexuality gets treated. It’s the double standard for geezers!  I know…this should probably be a separate blog. I just had to say something…okay, moving right along:

The Party With Heart

The ultimate tear jerk material, or so I thought, came on Tuesday night with a video tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy. Naturally, there was not a dry eye in the house—or, I’ll bet, in the homes of people like me who watched those gut-wrenching memories and remembered a time when we had a more functional government.

At one point the Kennedy footage evoked simultaneous tears and laughter, in a segment of the debate between Teddy and Mitt Romney in their opposing campaigns for Senate. Kennedy: “I’m pro-choice, he’s multiple choice.” He ended a recitation of Romney’s ever-spinning opinion changes with “If we give him two more weeks he may vote for me!”

Google Image

Did I say “ultimate” tear jerk material? Sorry, Teddy, I mean no disrespect to your memory, but Bill Clinton topped you this time, on Wednesday. I can hardly begin to convey the genuine emotions, sharp intelligence and wit, exquisite logic, and the pure inspiration coming from Bill Clinton. Going through the Republican charges against Obama, Clinton spelled out a rebuttal to each, piece by piece. He laid out what they’d said, then insisted we all “Look at what’s really happening,” and he told the truth concerning the budget, the deficit, education, health care, just about every issue that matters. He predicted what a Romney administration would mean to different groups of people, including children with disabilities like autism and Downs Syndrome, and he ended with a firm, utterly believable insistence that “We can’t let it happen!” He brought the audience to their feet, tugging on their hearts until he managed to rekindle the spirit of hope. Bill Clinton has been called The Comeback Kid. He’s the kid who’s got the brass to say “America always comes back,” in a way that makes you believe it’s possible.

At the end of Clinton’s speech Barack Obama came onto the stage and they embraced, a visual linkage of one administration to the other. Clinton’s old rallying song, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” played, then switched to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” the  perfect song for Obama and his struggle against the obstructionist Republicans. Obama’s a great speaker, but I’m not sure he’ll top Clinton with his acceptance speech tonight. I’ll tell you what, though: Democrats and Independents, and maybe even a few Republicans, will be rooting for him.

Clinton, Obama embrace

A few media blurbs on Clinton’s speech:

Bill Clinton came in and beat up the other side.”–Christopher Hayes

“Extraordinary.”–Andrea Mitchell. 

“As a Democrat it doesn’t get any better than this.”—Ed Schultz

Part III: Media Coverage (Coming Soon)


Trendy Language

The trends that bug me the most are linguistic. Some years ago I began noticing the process by which a new word or phrase, or new usage for an old word or phrase, enters the public sphere and spreads – or, to use a trendy term, goes viral. I think we can safely assume that technological advances have something to do with the way linguistic trends catch fire and spread these days. Linguistic trendiness has always existed, but technology has hastened and heightened the process.

Click here to read more

True Madness

From Judith Warner’s excellent op-ed in the New York Times today:

“Stupak-Pitts passed not just because a group of Catholic bishops bore down on Democratic lawmakers. It passed because it could. Maybe because our cultural memory is short; because our fantasyland nostalgia for a world of stay-at-home moms and gray flannel dads is too great, because when push comes to shove, in tough times, there’s still a willingness to throw women under the bus.”

Militia Movement Report

militia posterThe Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)  recently released a report about the resurgence of the right-wing militia movement. This resurgence is undoubtedly connected to the backlash we’ve been seeing to the election of an African-American as President. Although people these days are way too polite to go around screaming, “Segregation Forever,” they’re still finding ways to say it without actually saying it. The militia movement has always been steeped in paranoia, and it’s boiling with rage against President Obama. They’ve become so brazen, in fact, that they carry full arsenals with them to health care reform meetings, standing gunmenaround outside and showing off their weaponry. A brag or a threat?

In 1994, SPLC warned the federal government that “the mixture of armed groups and those who hate is a recipe for disaster.” Six months later, 168 people were murdered in the Oklahoma City bombing. According to Morris Dees, founder of SPLC, we’re facing a similar situation today:

“Anti-government militias are just one part of an explosion of extremist rage in America — a backlash to Obama’s election and to the progress we’re making toward social justice and tolerance. These groups and their allies traffic in bizarre conspiracy theories — like the claim that Obama is not really a U.S. citizen and that he wants to euthanize senior citizens. The Department of Homeland Security has recently warned that right-wing extremists such as these militias currently pose the No. 1 threat of domestic terrorism. The fact is, we’re already seeing acts of terror. Six law enforcement officers have been murdered by extremists in recent months, and Obama has received more threats than any other president.”

You can see the full report on the Militia Movement here.

August 29th: Any militia men tempted to use this space for propaganda, I suggest you get your own blog. My space isn’t yours. I deleted the guy who wrote a comment three times as long as this post, and I will do the same to others like it.–MS




Maybe it was naive of me, but I was looking forward to this day, to watching the rituals of inaugurating our new president, this new president. Now that it’s here, the over-the-top media hoopla is annoying the hell outta me. With all their “How does it feeeeel?” and “What are your thoughts?” and “Did you ever think you’d see this day?” over and over and over, any genuine emotion is being diluted, if not completely drained. Or at least mine is: I can’t figure out how I feel underneath all the noise and stupidity.

Yes, stupidity. One CNN reporter was apparently befuddled: “WHY is this particular inauguration attracting so much attention?” he asked. “Is it just because of the black thing?” Just?! Besides, moron, in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re finally getting a decent president, one who’s smart, compassionate, and well-intentioned. A Democrat. Possibly a progressive. Not to mention, this comes after eight years of a brutal, corrupt, incompetent and brainless administration: The Nitwit and His Merry Gangsters.

I guess I could turn it all off–but then what will I say when someone asks me where I was? At least I don’t have to answer to the grandkids–they have their own where-were-you story and don’t need mine: their school is showing the inauguration at a special assembly. I just hope they, at their tender age of innocence, don’t become jaded by the media’s hyper hoopla. I hope they can see through to the real beauty of this day.

As Leonard Cohen put it, “Democracy is coming to the USA.”