November 2008


There’s buzz about (of all things) Sarah’s glasses.  I’m catching up on the rumour she doesn’t actually need to wear glasses, that they are a prop to make her appear less high school prom queen and more educated political authority.

Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say she needs them. She is, after all, in her forties. I began wearing reading glasses in my early forties, just a couple of years after I started staring at computer screens on a daily basis. So let’s just say she needs them.

Sarah’s glasses have become famous. Women all across the globe are after a pair. Where is Sarah’s optician? You know, the one who wrote the prescription? My daughter’s mother-in-law works for a company that sells glasses and nothing else. It’s part of a pretty popular chain of eyeglass franchise stores.

She manages one of these franchises in a rather busy shopping mall in a large California city. Part of her income is based on commission. According to her, any style of eyewear which becomes popular overnight (as Sarah’s glasses have), is a coup for the store/doctor who originally made them. It’s instant success for the store and all the employees.

One would think this person/people would have come out of the woodwork by now to grab their share of pie and the notariety it would bring their shop/store/private practice.

That got me thinking. That’s a pretty valid human trait. Hollywood stars make brands famous by wearing them. Clothing, jewelry, cosmetic companies clamour for famous people to wear their items. Even plastic surgeons make a name for themselves by being able to say they worked on – oh wait – maybe not so much the plastic surgeons, but I’m sure you’re following the groove I’m tracking through this particular puddle of political mud.

It’s the kind of status-advertising that takes an unknown and makes them rich and famous overnight. So then – where are the people responsible for Sarah’s glasses? Why aren’t they coming forward to grab their share of the goodies?

While we’re at it, where is the nurse who took care of Trig? Surely she’s got a paid interview in the offing? Or the doctor who managed to deliver a premature baby with DS who is so healthy that four months on he can accompany his mom on a busy, national campaign tour? Couldn’t this doctor’s practice use a shot of good publicity?  One would think the hospital in charge of Sarah and Trig’s care would be singing their own praises from rooftops to secure funds for their (obviously) excellent maternity ward. Are Alaskan hospitals so well-endowed they don’t need any private donations?

Where are the builders and roofers who built the now nationally recognizable Palin House? Talk about free advertising… News crews have been inside and outside filming every inch of the Wasilla home. Even Matt Lauer was there. Some poor construction guy in Snowblow Alaska is turning down an awful lot of free publicity. Why?

I’m from the old school where to catch the crook one follows the money. Only problem here is, there’s a total lack of normal money trail. Nobody seems to be profitting from Sarah’s sudden rise to fame. Not the doctor who wrote her eyeglass script, not the shop that made the much-in-demand frames. Not the wonderful folks who built her house. Not the amazing doctors, staff and hospital who delivered her baby. Not the shoe-store where she buys her snow boots.

You know the one person who did step forward? The owner of the second-hand clothing store in Wasilla where Sarah claimed to have bought all her clothes once her RNC shopping spree was disclosed. That’s it! One shop owner from Wasilla who came to Sarah’s rescue in response to Clothes Gate. No small business in Anchorage. No outfit in Juneau. No contractor’s company. No doctor whose private practice could use a boost. No DS support group to say what a comfort it is to have the Palins as members.

Nothing.

In an era where millionaires are made by one national figure backing their product/service on television, one would think a throng of business people would be hitching their wagons to Sarah’s coattails. So where are these people? Anyone? Anybody?

What, exactly, are we hiding Sarah – and why?

Someone’s asked about Sarah’s glasses (if she needs to wear them) on Celtic Diva’s blog. I’ll link any info she may get for us.

POST HOC OBSERVATION: I feel so silly even mentioning this but… did anyone else notice that when Sarah was pardoning the turkey at Triple D she had to lower the script to arm’s length in order to read it? Wouldn’t the whole point of wearing glasses be to not need to alter the distance of what you’re reading? I know, I know, I think too much 🙂

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By the time the VP debate came around, the Palin buzz was all about her flubbed interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric. The international punchline for any joke told was “I can see Russia from my house!” followed by “Newsapers? What newspapers?”

What disturbed me was not so much that this woman (claiming to have the knowledge and integrity to hold the second highest office in my homeland) was lacking in political expertise, it was the small statements she made which demonstrated how easily she could look straight into a camera and – lie. Full stop.

From Huffington Post
Politico 29 August 2008

In an interview just a month ago, she dissed the job, saying it didn’t seem “productive.”
In fact, she said she didn’t know what the vice president does.

Larry Kudlow of CNBC’s “Kudlow & Co.” asked her about the possibility of becoming McCain’s ticket mate.

Palin replied: “As for that VP talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.”

In subsequent interviews she told her audience “Oh that was just a joke! Of course I know what a Vice President does! The Vice President runs the Senate which is good because we can just get right in there and get things done and policies made… and then literally dismissed the subject by waving her hand and talking about something else.

To Katie Couric’s question about which newspapers she might be reading, Sarah Palin hesitated for a moment, then came back with the retort “Well I can’t think of any off the top of my head but I’ll find some and get back to ya!”

In several subsequent interviews she told her audience how unfair it had been of Ms. Couric to throw her that question (Oh I know she’s just out there doing her job but…) quoting the reporter as having said “What do you read up there in Alaska?” Palin explained her momentary confusion was because the question had …made it seem like people in Alaska don’t have the same newspapers the rest of the states do – and how typical it was for people to judge Alaskans in that way – different from the lower 48. It wasn’t enough to misquote Katie Couric, she was compelled to misdirect the entire original question completely.

So people like me started paying attention. Really close attention. And at the end of the day no one with whom I was conversing could understand why the press was treating her with such soft kid gloves. This was the woman about to inherit the nuclear launch codes meant to keep the country safe and she couldn’t even pronounce nuclear.

Some of us speculated that had Sarah’s name been Ralph, no one would have let her (or him) get away with one single inconsistency, much less the blatant lies that issued from this woman’s lips. Here’s a quite disturbing reality – there are so many ‘white lies’ told when Sarah Palin steps in front of a camera that I’ve been researching a list and don’t expect to have it ready until the Christmas Holidays. Maybe the inauguration.

But put the porkies aside. It is the ease with which she spouts them that has my hackles up. It is the ease with which she puts another person’s ethics, integrity and job on the line just to save face which disturbs me the most. I was married to someone who could never be wrong. I know from personal experience how dangerous that outlook on life can be to the people around you.

Look – we get it – anyone can get caught off-guard in an interview, and certainly anyone not accustomed to having their life slid under a microscopic lens for all the world to see, examine and pull apart. But to casually toss a fellow human under the proverbial bus without hesitation, just to cover your own soundbyte gaffes – that’s not the person I want with a hand on the red button.

We all thought she was someone who would say “Oh gosh, you know, I don’t know the answer to that – but I’m learning all the time and I promise to keep learning from and listening to the people who do have the answers so I can catch up and be the Vice President you people need me to be.”

I would have backed that Sarah Palin even if we didn’t agree on abortion rights because at that point in time, I still didn’t trust this fella called ‘Barack Obama’.

I’ve gone right to sleep but it’s so warm and humid this week the bedding has that slightly damp feeling when you slip into the covers. My hair is tacked in a bun on the very top of my head so it doesn’t stick to my neck and choke me when I turn. The A/C has been on all evening, but still it’s quite muggy. Might as well be having hot flashes. At least they don’t last all night.

Funny things trigger dreams. Or maybe nothing at all. Coincidence? I dunno. But I’m thinking it’s the muggy dampness of my bed combined with the horrible movie I fell asleep watching that triggered the dream I had last night:

My spouse and I are at this party. Some unidentifiable friends house. There’s a big lounge, lots of people milling about to our right. We are standing in a foyer by the front door. On the other side is another lounge with more people milling about.

Suddenly the front door (which was already standing open) burst open and two men rush past us and begin slashing people to the right and left of us. Spouse whips out his cell and dials triple-0. I can hear him arguing with someone on the other end. I ask if an ambulance is on it’s way. He says he doesn’t think so, and I realize he is on talk-radio. The DJ’s voice can be heard behind me as if coming from a radio in another room. He’s asking spouse the question “so tell us what happened in your own words.”

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I think and whip out my cell (which is odd because I don’t own one…) and dial 9-1-1. A voice comes on and tells me I need to know the exact number before I can dial. I tell the operator I need ambulances, that there’s men (who now seem to be gone – where did they go?) slashing people with knives and we need help! HELP!

The operator calmly tells me, again, that I need to know the correct number before I can place a call. (sigh) “Fine” I say through gritted teeth, “then give me the correct number.” Silence. Then finally, “well I can’t do that. I’m not that sort of operator.” I hear spouse shouting ‘OK SEND FIVE AMBULANCES WE’LL WAIT HERE!” and I hang up. (Wait – do you ‘hang up’ a cell or ‘click-off”?).

Now spouse and I and about three or four other people (none of whom appear capable of speech) are sitting at a kitchen table, still in the foyer, staring at a table covered with dirty dishes. Did we just eat? All around us people are bleeding and groaning. The clock is ticking away and we’re waiting for the ambulances. We’re very uncomfortable.

Finally an ambulance arrives. Two Blue Nurses (Blue Care Australia is a service that cares for people in their homes) emerge from the back of the ambulance, which also appears to double as a limo. Both women appear to be in their 80’s. One is so frail that as she gets to the front door she tips over like a Weeble and falls flat on her face. The other one waddles over (she’s actually waddling, just like a goose) and straightens the other nurse. The two start talking about washing their hands before getting started. They ask for a sink and spouse points to the kitchen. The two are ever-so-slowly waddling off, discussing which handsoap they each prefer and I just lose it.

Though screaming at the top of my lungs so hard my throat hurts, I can’t hear any sound. So I scream harder. ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE! CAN’T YOU SEE THE…” I can actually feel myself pushing through the haze of sleep and the words “BLOOD AND GUTS… DO SOMETHING!” come streaming from my lips like an ice cold water balloon jettisoned from a three-story building and carefully aimed at spouse’s head causing him to jump out of a sound sleep and off the bed. I know I’m out of the fog now because I distinctly hear cussing.

‘CRAP!” is what I heard. Then, I guess realizing I was having a nightmare, spouse held me until I was fully back to sleep.

But that’s not really the weird bit. I have incredibly bizarre dreams a few times a year. This is the weird bit. This is our complete, uneditted conversation, the first words spoken to each other since the middle of the night screaming-mimis. It was during morning coffee:

Him “So – remember yesterday afternoon when I took a piece of glass out of your foot?”
Me “Yup.”
Him “Remember how that old fable goes about the rabbit and the lion and the thorn?”
Me “uh-huh”
Him “You owe me.”

Me “Huh?”

Several minutes later he added “Oh and about your nightmare; The thing that really scared me was knowing I’d eaten your homemade pizza too!”

So I’m following the 2008 US Presidential election from my perch in Queensland. We’re a year away from having held our own national election, upending the seat of power for the Liberal party and its leader, John Howard. (John Howard had held the office of Prime Minister for eleven years, and had actually been in Washington DC during the 9/11 attacks.)

While US politics were choosing presidential candidates, we were all still getting used to the new regime. I’m told the Labor Party’s previous reign was a financial disaster for the country, so pretty much the folks who remembered what it was like during that period had been relatively nervous about the party being in power again. It’s fair to mention, though, these same nervous nellies put the Labor Party back into power in an unprecedented landslide win, as the overwhelming majority of Australians blamed John Howard personally and the Liberal Party collectively for being (hold onto your hats) “a friend to George W Bush”.

Our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (‘Kevi’ as he’s called) had the good sense to name Julia Gulliard as his Deputy. (That’s comparable to Vice President.) During his first month in office, as Kevi left the country on business, it was all over the news how for the first time Australia had a female at the helm. Ok, admittedly, those headlines confused me. What does that make the Queen? Hullo? Anyone out there? *tap*tap*tap*

At the same point in time, on the other side of the globe, Hillary and Barack were in heated debate duking it out in the Democratic bid for President.

When Hillary lost, like many, many others, I could not get my head around The Barack Hussein Obama platform. What did we know about this guy anyway? His place of birth was not clear. His religious affiliations were not clear.  His political experience was… what again? He’d literally emerged from obscurity like Superman from a phonebooth only none of us were buying his cape and tights.

Obama – Osama – not his fault what his parents named him but (I’m ashamed to admit this, now) it made me uneasy. I remember telling my spouse that America would never elect someone with a name resembling Osama Bin Laden and/or Saddam Hussein. I was even rather smug about it.

Chatting long distance with a few friends, it was clear a few of the Democratic Hillary supporters I knew were about to jump ship and vote Republican. I would have joined them, had I been there but then…

…along came Sarah Palin, and something just wasn’t right.

Call it maternal instinct. Call it outrage that Hillary was out and this unknown was getting all the glory that Hillary and all the women before her had worked so hard to achieve. Call it jealousy, immaturity, stubbornness, anything you like. But something wasn’t right. And it niggled at me like a leech caught in my sock on a hiking trip through Lamington Falls.

It was a perfectly awful feeling. Like opening the door to the refrigeratgor and having an acrid smell waft up your nostrils, and then not being able to find the source. It was the feeling you get when you first realize your child isn’t answering your call and you hear the voices of both panic and reason arguing inside your head.

Listening to Sarah Palin’s very first public address, even though she was standing next to John McCain, a man I greatly admired, found my gut twisting as it does when something is just… wrong.

It was most unsettling, and yet – here’s how the universe works:

At this exact point in time, I’d injured my knee. My doctor told me to stay off my feet until he sorted  out tests and a specialist exam. Twenty years ago that would have meant getting out the basket of yarn and knitting needles and plopping in front of the telly for a week or two. But it’s not twenty years ago it’s 2008, and vegging today means only one thing… google!

I started reading Alaskan newspapers and blogs. I looked up public records of when Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla. I looked up voting records of her win as Governor. I joined a Sarah Palin chat thread made up of other people, Ozzies and Americans who, like me, also wanted to know the truth behind the woman people were calling Caribou Barbie. We all had open minds. We were all willing to go in either direction.

I listened to Alaskan citizens talk about their governor and just made this huge effort to educate myself. I really did want to calm the bickering voices in my head with logical, reasonable answers.

But for every step forward I took in trying to get to know the positive side of Sarah Palin, I’d be dropkicked ten yards back by some invisible bloke with cleats shouting ‘can’t go there’ just before the shoe made contact with my face.

By the third week in September I was covered with cleatmarks and pissing mad.

This part of Australian politics is just clear as mud to me: There are several parties here. The  two largest are Liberal and Labor. Next come the Independents (National Party)  followed by the Greens and Family First. The titles are self-explanatory. Here’s what isn’t:

 

Bits of parliament sessions are  televised both live, during the week, and in recap at week’s end. You constantly hear the phrase “Mr Speaker, the Opposition would like us to believe…” But there is no actual ‘opposition party’. The opposition referred to in parliament discussions or by the press is simply whatever party is not in office at the time.

 

There are actual, existing ‘opposition parties’ in other countries. There was once an actual opposition party in the US. But in Australia, we call whichever not-in-power-party voicing a concern, complaint or offering a different idea to those whose hands firmly grasp Australia’s helm – the opposition.

 

Needless to say, attempting to follow a parliament session is like trying to watch a football game with no less than five teams on the field, but only one is in uniform. The rest are all in jeans and tees or business suits or well you get the picture. Unless you know the names and faces of the players and with which teams they are each associated, it’s a bit of a struggle to keep up.

 

FOOTNOTE: And you won’t see this in the US Senate House I bet: It was determined this past year that our working mothers of parliament can breastfeed their bubs during session. I am so proud to have lived long enough to watch the old boys club up in arms and squirming over one of their peers breastfeeding on the job.

 

Hey, it’s only fair. I mean if the men can pick their noses whilst the camera is rolling…

This is my tenth November in Australia. I’m a California transplant.  There are some American traditions I brought with me, like not standing quietly in queues and correctly pushing my shopping trolley down the LEFT SIDE of the aisle (in spite of the chaos it may cause when turning a corner).  I was unjustly called ‘A Loud American’ so many times in my first year here I just decided – what the Hell. You people want loud and abrasive – you got it. It’s now a skill in which I am well-trained.

My favourite tradition is Thanksgiving. I love to spend all day in the kitchen cooking. Truly. Back in the states my kids and I would spend the week baking pies and cheesecakes and luscious desserts. Then on the day we’d have a huge bird dressed and ready for the oven by 9am. It would slowly cook all day sending out wave after wave of the most wonderful aroma. I don’t think anything ever smells better than a turkey in the oven. Someone should make a perfume…

My first year downunder, I bought a frozen bird at the local market. I don’t know why, exactly, but I hadn’t noticed during the purchase that it had no legs or wings. I think, because it was so completely unconscionable that anyone would sell a turkey without legs or wings. I mean who would do that? Oh. Silly Ozzies. Mybad.

Turkey is a game bird here mostly. There are some turkey farms, but Ozzies prefer chickens so turkey is rarely on the menu. And they have a gamey flavour, unlike the domesticated birds back in the US. You can order a turkey (with all it’s bits still attached) from some butchers, and we found one the second year. It was (and still is) a shock, however, to pay between $60 and $80 (AUD) for birds we used to pay between $10 and $30 or get for free as a Christmas bonus from my boss.

My second holiday here, we by-passed the Thanksgiving bird and saved our money for a big Christmas bird. I was up at dawn, dressed the bird and had it in the oven by 9am. By 10am it was declared the hottest recorded Christmas Day in Australia at 46.6c (116f) and everyone was mad at me for having the oven going. *sigh*

The following year we began a new tradition. We moved the cooking of the Christmas bird to the end of November (guaranteed to be the cooler month) and called it “Thanksgiving: A Week Late And In the Wrong Country!”

Every year at least one person in my circle of family and friends back in the states will ask “so, do you have Thanksgiving in Australia?” and every year I try politely to point out that there are no American Indians here, or pilgrims for that matter. Inevitably, someone will point out that Australia was built on the backs of British prisoners, just like America, so I shouldn’t be so uppity.

One year a bearded dragon lizard met me coming home from the shops. It inspired the following photo, which I now pass along to explain why we don’t have Thanksgiving downunder:

 thanksgivinglizard-2478

To my dear friend in West Virginia who once wrote back and asked “How on earth did you get that lizard to sit still long enough to put the little hat on?” let me just say again – “I love you!” and *cough*photoshop*cough*

Happy Thanksgiving America!

This just tickled me:  
focusonfamily1

This article appeared in the Colorado Independent on the 17th of November, 2008. It tells how this particular ministry, Focus on the Family, poured so much funding into the passing of California’s Prop 8 (banning same sex marriage) that it now faces laying off at least 20% (more) of it’s employees. It reportedly spent almost $625,000 in cash and other support. One of the ministries more affluent benefactors added an additional $450,000.

The article, on the one hand, explains how the current financial disposition of the ministry is a direct result of it’s dedication to the preservation of the legal definition of marriage remaining between a heterosexual couple. (I’m sure they meant to rake in the kudos by showing they were prepared to go bankrupt to fight this battle.) But on the other hand, there’s the perspective of those who see it as a huge misplacement of funds and question the expenditure and subsequent lay-offs as a betrayal to the ministries congregation. 

Some of us just saw the irony. Gay marriage will be a fact of life one day, just as inter-racial marriage is now a social norm,  when only fifty years ago, in my grandfather’s day, it was unthinkable.

The facet of this article that gave me the giggle, however, had nothing to do with story content. It was the e-zine’s page layout that slapped the huge grin on my face.

Observe: Mr. James Dobson, founder and president of Focus On Family, is seated directly to the left of the opening copy. Directly to the right is this advert from GayCupid.com

gaycupid

About ten minutes after finding this little political treasure, the GayCupid.com ad had been replaced by a religious jewelry ad. At first, I thought the editors had spotted the gaffe and corrected it. Well I was wrong. The ad is in a cycle which periodically reappears.  So evidently, not even the good Mr. Dobson has noticed how ridiculous he looks bragging to the world about his out-of-state coup while sharing copy space with his very sexy coup-ettes.

*Ministry Jobs lost due to zealous expenditure – 202
*Ministry money spent to prevent gay marriage in California – $625,000
*Ministry article appearing next to Gay Singles Advert – PRICELESS!

If this isn’t karma, I don’t know what is – and it just keeps looping back to bite FOF in the ass 🙂

Mr. Dobson the sound you hear rushing past your head is the fast-growing tide of morally educated, compassionate human beings who genuinely believe all people are entitled to happiness, speeding forward in a re-energized effort to plow through the narrow-minded doors which you and people like you keep tossing in our path.

You cannot stop the human race from growing up anymore than you can wave your arms at an oncoming tsunami and make it change direction. You’re better off stepping to one side and letting life be what it is.

Original article can be found here

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