Why I am Voting for Barack Obama

Although regular readers of this blog know that I have favored Obama for reelection as opposed to Romney, I have never painted a coherent picture as to why, but only given glimpses of my reasoning here and there.  Not that I think I will sway anyone at this point.  It is likely that all of you have decided what you will do, including not vote.  (One reader voted for me, which was heart warming, but I’m trying to see if I can shift the vote to Obama somehow, like they do in conventions).  I do want to put down some thoughts, for possible future reference if nothing elseAfter that I plan on shutting up until Nov 9, the Friday following the election.   I am about as sick of all this as you probably are.

The Short Version:

I began to describe my reasons for supporting Barack Obama and the piece began to look like a booklet, not a post.  So, though this is not short (you might want to grab a beverage before continuing), it is the shortened impressionistic version:

English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Republicans have consistently painted Obama’s term with every ugly color they could find.   On the more absurd side has been coloring the president as un-American by birth or in spirit or both and dabbing on the reddish hue of a socialist.  No matter that Warren Buffet, who has made his huge fortune thanks to capitalism, is a staunch supporter.  The Republicans also blame him for the slow recovery we have had from a recession which the Bush team left at the White House door step when they left.

To evaluate the president’s performance one must understand this was not just another recession, but the worst since the Depression.  No other had to repair a collapsed housing market, with millions of mortgages going under water, a market which is only beginning to come back now.  The Republicans continue to blame the president for trillion dollar deficits each year but a 2011 study in the NY Times described the primary sources of  those deficits as  “the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.”

The same Republicans who now act holier-than-thou regarding fiscal responsibility went along with billions in unbudgeted spending by Bush and we are still paying for that while the recession has sharply reduced government income also prompting greater deficits.   Add to this the Republican congressional resistance to anything Obama has proposed, even if they had proposed similar things before.  Factor in their refusal to consider raising taxes along with budget cuts – a combination most economists and financial types think necessary if we are really going to confront our budget problems – and most of their criticisms are misleading at best, lies at worst.

Under an Obama administration an economic collapse was averted and, while there is plenty that might be criticized, we are still a float and the economy is slowly on the mend.   And, yes, despite the Republican talking point to the contrary, the 800 billion stimulus did work according to a large majority of studies.  Of course, the amount of national debt remains a huge problem dead ahead, but it is not as if Romney/Ryan have the answer, despite the pretense of having a detailed plan.   Again, their plan does not include tax hikes, so it lacks a basis in reality according to most serious opinion on the issue, including some figures on the right, though not on the far right of course.  At least Obama begins with a sense of reality, despite his vagaries.

I would sum up Obama’s domestic performance as decent amidst awful conditions, which makes decent relatively good.   His performance in foreign policy was even better I think, but that is debatable.  In any event, Mitt Romney’s foreign policy isn’t much different as he articulated in the third debate.  Those willing to give Obama a fair shake would have to admit that all in all, he’s done a fair job, which is why moderate Republican Collin Powell is endorsing him once again – not because he’s also black as Romney surrogate John Sununu has suggested.   Sununu being one of many Republicans whom I find disgusting.  Donald Trump would be another.

Whatever his short-comings as president, Obama is a student of history and I believe he can learn from his mistakes, such as remaining aloof from the nitty gritty of congressional politics.   Prior to the last election he was often criticized for his inexperience, both as an executive and in foreign policy.   Now he has four years of experience in both arenas, as president no less, something I think he will build upon.  In comparison, Mitt Romney is a rookie.

Which reminds me that I am not only voting for Barack Obama, but against Mitt Romney.  I have paid close attention to him over these past seven months as indicated in several of my 60 posts, and I still do not know who Mitt Romney is.  NO, REALLY!  The frequent chameleon-like portrayal is not a caricature but a crystal clear image of Mitt’s positions and stances which swirl around like an old lava lamp.  It all just keeps changing in front of our eyes.  I love that one comment of his to a reporter who questioned him about a previous statement.  Romney said:  “I’m not familiar precisely with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”

I do think he has some impressive accomplishments and if president, he might add more, but I can not predict what they would be.  At their convention his wife Ann assured us in her speech that if Mitt was elected “he will not fail.”  And I thought, fail to do what?   He says if he is elected he will create 12 million new jobs, but many economists predict that is the amount of new jobs that will be created no matter who is president.

More often Romney simply asserts that in every area he will do better than Obama.  He is slipperier than a greased pig when it comes to what and how, but apparently he thinks the Obama brand has become so tainted (with tons of help from Mitt’s cronies of course) that it only takes a relentless effort to portray himself, Mitt, as the Un-Obama to win the day.

The following Romney comment said behind closed doors regarding those who do not pay federal income tax is enough for me not to vote for him.  “There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

But putting all that aside, even judging by the lowest denominator, I’d vote for Barack Obama preferring the devil I know to the etch-a-sketch one I don’t.  This is especially so as I believe the one thing we can depend upon in a Romney presidency is more conservative nominees to the supreme court which already tilts in that direction.  At least a couple of judges seem likely to retire over the next four years.

Do you really want our Supreme Court to become more conservative than it is now and to remain that way possibly for decades?

I don’t, a final reason why I will vote for Barack Obama.

Polling an Undecided

While watching both a baseball pennant series’ final and a pro-football game at a local sports bar Monday night instead of the third presidential debate, it occurred to me that I should take my own poll of undecideds to see what insights I might garner.

Logo, ESPN Monday Night Football

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obviously, both campaigns are trying whatever they think might blow more swing voters their way in last ditch efforts.   Team Obama, for example, has come up with a shiny new little booklet with pretty pictures to show that they really do have a plan to improve everything in the next four years.  This to combat the Romney team’s claim that they don’t.   The numbers don’t seem to quite add up, but Romney’s numbers don’t, either.  My guess is that nobody trusts anyone’s so-called facts at this point anyway.   Not that this phenomenon is exactly brand new.  As Winston Churchill once said:  “The only statistics I believe in are the ones I make up myself.”

At this point, for swing voters, it is all about last minute impressions.  A number of liberal commentators, and the not so liberal Andrew Sullivan, have concluded  Obama routed Romney Monday.   I’m convinced they have no sense how little that might help  his chances, even if in some sense they are right.  They seem to equate winning the debate with winning over undecideds, which may not be the case at all.   In my previous post I described one undecided, Wendy, who had her balance tipped in the opposite direction, towards Romney.   Of course, that is only one, but why couldn’t there be many Wendys out there?

Let’s return to that sports bar Monday night where I  hatched my plan to do my own poll.   In addition to my desire to understand was the thought that if I conducted my poll  in bars I might be able to deduct part of my bar tabs as research expenses on my taxes.

That’s how the bartender, who we will call Bob, became my first respondent.  When asked if he was likely to vote, he said he was, and that he was undecided.  Perfect.   I went on to ask if he leaned one way or another and he said:  ” I don’t really like Obama, but I can’t vote for a Mormon.”

Why?   “Do you know much about Mormons?    Below the surface, they are into some strange sh_t, man.”….and Bob just shook his head while walking to pour a drink for another customer.  He then looked back and said:

“I might just vote for my dad.  He’s a good man.”

Bob doesn’t seem totally sold on voting for his father, so he remains an undecided, except for the fact he is clearly leaning away from Romney, leaving the choices Obama, his father or someone else, or just not voting.  I do not have a clue what he will  do at this point.  I’ll ask him after Nov 6.

Liberals tend to have too much faith in reason.  Wendy, mentioned in my previous post, is an indication that you can “win” a debate and still lose voters.   My guess in her case is that it was primarily Obama’s sarcasm at times which swayed her the other way, just as she probably did not care for Joe Biden’s derisive giggles while Ryan spoke in the VP debates.  I believe undecideds are more swayed by likeable or unlikeable impressions than specific facts, especially in this age of “post-truth politics.”

Bob adds another dimension to that,  the possibility that a number of undecideds are sufficiently idiosyncratic when it comes to voting for a president that one can’t predict what they might do or what might sway them.

Bob has prompted me to end my poll, as the task of understanding the range of undecideds now seems mind boggling.   If  the other pollsters turn out to be significantly wrong here and there on election day, I’ll think of Bob.


P. S. – I imagine that most of you are sick of hearing about this election just as I am in writing about it.  Just in case it matters to someone besides me,  in next Tuesday’s post I will lay out the reasons I will vote for Obama and not Romney.   Then I plan to take a break until Nov 9th, the Friday after the election.   Finally, after all this time, energy and money spent to just pick  the captain of our leaking ship (and his congressional crew), we’ll begin to see if much can be done to save it.

As Wendy Goes so Goes the Nation?

Instead of watching the presidential debate last night, I opted to watch the Giants clobber the Cardinals in baseball (for my foreign readers) and the Bears win a defensive battle over the Lions (in American “football”).   I like sports when the games feel meaningful, i. e. they have high stakes, which is why I don’t get interested in pro-baseball or pro-basketball until the playoffs.   Two many games, each with too little meaning.  As far as I’m concerned the regular seasons are just a very long sorting process to see who really counts.   I’d rather watch curling if the two teams are battling for a gold medal.

I’m drawn to the competition of the presidential race even though I deplore its nature.  Unlike sports, though, while  watching this game, it is not clear who is winning overall, or  even in the case of the debate last night.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Seal of the President of the United States  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Political pundits and pollsters have analyzed the campaigns to death, but nobody knows for sure who will win.   Nate Silver, who seems the most sophisticated of the poll watchers (he is linked in my Blogroll to the left),  gives Obama a 70% winning chance  today, so I’m glad my money is on the president.  But I don’t feel completely confident.

This morning cable pundits and columnists have post mortemed the debate aplenty, with all sorts of analyses as to who won and by how much.   The predominant reaction seems to be that Obama won the debate, though most Romney backers seem to think otherwise.  The consensus there was Romney did what he needed to do to maintain the momentum that began by winning the first debate.  Rather than appearing unreasonably pugnacious on topics like the Benghazi tragedy, he spent more time saying “me too, but better” to Obama’s policies.    To his defenders, he “looked presidential” and that “he can handle the role.”

To Ron Reagan on MSNBC, Romney’s comments were so “banal” that if “he wore a sash and a tiara he could run for Miss America.”   However valid Reagan’s points may have been, that sarcastically over the top characterization detracts from his criticisms.   At least for me and I think there are many like me. Obama was sarcastically dismissive a time or two as well.

In recent posts I have dwelt on the “undecided’s, those swing voters who seem to go back and forth like a pendulum.  If enough of them swing the same way in the right states on election day, Romney might surprise Nate Silver and me by winning.   It is with them in mind, that I’m not so sure Obama won the debate.   At least he didn’t win over Wendy,  a previous undecided who now leans towards Romney.

Wendy has been used as an example “undecided” on FOX.  She is an articulate, likeable woman with four children, seeming to me in her 30s.  In announcing her post-debate swing towards Romney she said:    “He just has an idea of what the economy needs…. nothing has gotten better.  Everything’s gotten worse.”  Catching my attention even more was her saying:   “Obama came across as a bully.”

I would not say “bully” but to me Obama was too often dismissive to the point of condescentional overkill.   In response to a Romney criticism, the president said:   “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” Obama said. “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed.”

That comment has gone viral and zealous Obama backers probably love it, but they aren’t the much coveted swing voters, one of whom has just swung towards Romney.   While Obama had a big lead in the polls  with women voters, the gap has narrowed significantly in recent weeks. Perhaps this is an expression that even more than reproductive rights, equal pay and the like, many women are concerned with the sluggish economy and how a candidate comports himself.   Handling the economy is the one issue in which Romney regularly rates higher in the polls.   Handling oneself as a gentleman (or as a good father) counts especially with women as far as I can tell.

If many undecided’s  cast their ballots while imagining a sarcastic, bullying Obama and a laughing hyena running mate, especially women but men, too………?    Well, I don’t like to think about it.

Libya: A Political Moment that Shouldn’t Be

The general consensus of media pundits is that Obama won Tuesday’s debate, albeit narrowly.   Again we are  talking about rhetoric and style with only a tangential relationship to substance, i. e. Obama is judged to have thrust and parried a bit better than Romney, and much better than in the first debate where he barely lifted his sword.

English: map of Libya with Shabiat Banghazi hi...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a sports fan, I have to say I’m a little excited about the rubber match to be fought this Monday over the issues of foreign policy.  But as a citizen, when I regain my sanity and see clearly the chasm between the pretense and reality, I think I belong in a rubber room.   All of us do who find the race exciting, like playing fantasy football.  Except it is more our version of the Hunger Games.

The problem with making the Monday debate really interesting is that by most accounts, Romney’s foreign policy is not much different than Obama’s.  The primary difference is his asserting he will just handle it all better.  And in the process his strategy will be to show how Obama has come up short.

As the patron saint of Wisconsin, Vince Lombardi, put it decades ago:  “Winning is not everything; it’s the only thing.”  True of football back then in Green Bay;  even more true of this presidential election.  This morning I heard Chuck Todd, an MSNBC analyst, articulate what we all know.  “This campaign is ugly and over the next 18 days it will become uglier.”

It is against this backdrop that the issue of the four American deaths in Libya has become a powerful campaign tool for the Republicans, probably viewed by some fundamentalists as a gift from God.    I flicked to FOX news several times yesterday and almost every time they were talking about Libya and what the Obama administration  knew when and what they did about it and what they covered up.

Ambassador Chris Stevens father said several days ago that it would be “horrendous” if the death of his son and three other Americans would become politicized.   Sorry Mr. Stevens, but this presidential campaign is being fought as if it were to the death, and the death of your son is like blood in the water to Republican sharks.   For them, he and the three others make wonderful symbols to contradict the Obama claim that al Queda has been steadily weakened and to show that the Obama team has not done enough to aid the development of democracies in Egypt and Libya (never mind that some other Republicans argue we should have strongly backed Mubarak our long time ally, and a few argue that it was even wrong to help topple Gaddafi as well, who had been our ally of sorts for awhile).

Granted the Obama administration hasn’t handled the news about the Benghazi killings well and their earlier stances about a spontaneous demonstration  seem wishful thinking, some cherry picking between different reports.   But let’s remember the situation in Benghazi is chaotic (it took three weeks for the FBI to feel it was safe enough to go investigate the consulate) while both campaigns have war rooms looking for every weakness in the “enemy” that they can turn to strategic advantage.   The Obama administration was not eager to reveal anything the Republicans could use.  Do you think it would have gone down any differently if the roles had been reversed?

Let’s also remember that Republicans like  Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz, who feigned outrage at the lack of security have voted several times to reduce the state department’s budget over the years, especially in the area of foreign security.   They remind me of the police prefect in that ancient movie Casablanca who was” shocked” to discover gambling taking place at Rick’s casino while someone discreetly hands him his winnings for the day.  Though in this case the hypocrisy is not humorous but galling.

What happened and why regarding those deaths in Libya is complex and will take time to sort out, but in the meantime Republicans will make it very simple for all of us:  the Obama administration has its head in the sand regarding al Queda and should have protected those Americans, an example of Obama policy failure writ large.  (FOX is more than willing to “help” in the sorting with a special investigative report this evening).

Kathleen Parker, somewhat right of center and one of my favorite columnists,  offers a much more balanced picture in a recent Washington Post editorial in which she gets to the heart of the real story in Libya:  “Stevens went to Benghazi knowing the risks and died in the service of his country, the people of Libya and the greater good. It is tragic, but it is war.”  

For now that’s the important point, not to rush to judgement on blame, but how brave our foreign service people can be  in chaotic, dangerous situations.  They see interacting with the local populace as vital to their work.   As such, to be so well protected as is our embassy in Iraq makes the foreign service people feel “incarcerated” as characterized by Daniel Server, a former diplomat.  In regards to Ambassador Stevens he has said:  “For our diplomats to do things right, it requires taking risks.  And Chris Stevens did things right.”

The bravery and commitment of Ambassador Chris Stevens,  computer expert Sean Smith and security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods is what should be focused upon, but don’t expect to see the tragedy play out that way Monday night.  If you are going to bother to watch.  I’m not.


Those who want to delve more deeply into the complexity of the Benghazi attack should find interest in an article by Dan Murphy in the Christian Science Monitor Getting in on the Benghazi Blame Game.

Pre-Debate Pondering the Undecided’s

I’ll be curious to see how the debate goes tonight, especially since this will be in a town meeting format with the audience asking most of the questions, though moderator Candy Crowley will have the questions beforehand and select the ones to be used, and provide some follow-ups.

English: Pictography of Alfred E. Neuman used ...

Alfred E. Neuman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hope you understand these debates are not about substance but style and rhetoric.  And, given the town meeting venue, how and where each candidate moves takes on importance.  Romney won the first debate because his debate performance was much better.  A point made by a number of pundits is that the Obama team had spent months trying to make Romney seem “unacceptable”, and that changed for many that night.   Romney looked like he’d make a good president.  And Obama was caught flat footed when  Mitt tacked sharply to the center saying things he had never said before (well, not for a long time at least).

I have heard various suggestions from cable pundits of what pose each candidate should strike tonight if they want to win, including one focus group suggestion that the winning pose is that of  “a good husband.”  David Frum mirrors that in a recent post when he suggests Mitt Romney work on his appearing “empathetic.”  You know, the opposite of the “I don’t care about the 47%” attitude.

I keep thinking about the undecided’s, and wonder what varieties they come in.   I have no idea what might tip each balance, either in this debate or on election day.  Since my last post I have  heard a poll estimates undecided’s as 12% rather than 5%.   Could the undecided’s actually be growing in number?  The numbers might be increasing from people who are not really undecided.   Instead, they have just decided they are sick of it all.   I know one reader who finds both camps  so disgusting that, as far as I know, he may decide not to vote.  How many undecided’s will make that decision?

Adding to the difficulty in understanding the undecided’s is what Nate Silver (a pollster’s pollster) calls  “the confusing polling landscape” in an Oct 14 post:   Even some of the decided’s seem to be deciding differently since the first debate, as Silver’s projected Nov 6 estimate of Obama’s winning the presidency is down to 63.3%, a big drop from the 80+% of a few weeks ago.

This past weekend I watched Melissa Harris-Perry, a cable political chat show on MSNBC that devoted a  segment to the issue of the “undecided’s”.    I was struck by what seemed likely futile attempts of most of the participants, especially Melissa, to make substance points for selecting Obama, as if that would sway any undecided voters at this point.

In an email she has probably not gotten around to read, I pointed to a recent Pew poll in which 48% of voters don’t even seem to know that Obama is a Christian, including 17% who thinks he’s a Muslim.  If nearly 50% of voters don’t know that much yet, how much swing can reason bring?

Also, what may sound reasonable is often wrong.  Or the poll is.  Another recent Pew poll cited in a column by Matt Miller indicates that older voters favor Romney over Obama 58% to 37%.    Say what?  Liberal commentators and Dem operatives have cemented the impression we old folks are a slam dunk for them, that the threat of a change in Medicare to a voucher system would turn us into gray panthers.  But that poll suggests many of us  are jumping ship instead?  Maybe we are not the one-issue segment the Dems think.   Or maybe some of us would like to actually see how the Obama team will save Medicare as opposed to how Romney will disfigure it.   Or maybe, being old, some of us got confused (not my fault, nobody asked me).  Or maybe anything….who knows?

When I start feeling very confused by it all I think of Ohio.  Unless there are some major surprises in voting elsewhere, it seems that as Ohio goes, so goes the nation.   The Republicans haven’t won a presidency without Ohio in their corner, and Obama has held a solid lead there for weeks in all the polls I’ve seen, though it seems more wobbly now.    Many Ohioans, employed in car-related businesses, benefited from the saving of GM and Chrysler and the state’s unemployment is around 7.2%, much lower than the national average.

No wonder both candidates (or their VP surrogates) seem to be visiting the state every other day, which after the election may prompt yet another round of debate about doing away with the Electoral College, so the rest of our votes would count as much as those in Ohio.

If Ohio winds up going for Romney, not only will I likely feel the need to avoid several people I’ve made wagers with, I will really be surprised.  And then, while I don’t want to do it, I’d encourage someone else to write a book maybe titled:  Who Were the Undecided’s and How Did They Decide the 2012 Presidential Election?

Laughin’ Joe and the Kid

I saw only the first one-third of the debate last night because I had a meeting to attend.  I taped the program, but will not bother to watch the rest.  I saw enough, and I have a pretty good idea of what I missed by watching some post debate coverage on both MSNBC and FOX, and from reading  several editorials today.

It seems that if you favored Biden and the Democrats, you liked his feisty  ways.  If you favored Ryan and the Republicans, you saw a”grinning, grimacing, condescending Joe,” as Carl Rove put it on FOX.  Chris Wallace said it was the most “openly, disrespectful” performance he had ever seen in a VP debate.   In contrast, someone on MSNBC called it a “superb performance” by Joe, maybe Chris Matthews, who gleefully added:  “This was a Joe Biden night.”

I imagine Biden did energize the Democrat base who have probably upped their orders on anti-depressants since Obama’s mail-it-in effort in the first debate, but I also imagine Republicans believe Ryan held his own – held serve, so to speak, for Romney in next week’s debate.

So, fine, both VP candidates found approval from their bases while dissed by the other side, but it is the undecided’s that interest me at this point, as indicated in my previous post.  I ponder:  Who are they and what are they waiting for?  How much swing do these swing voters have and will only a slight breeze be required to  push them in one direction or the other on Nov 6?  Or will they feel little wind at all and just stay at home or waft to the movies?

As with the last debate, Frank Luntz had a focus group of undecided’s on FOX, but unlike the other group, this time they seemed to end up decidely undecided.

As a piece in Newsmax.com stated:  “Some of the 26 interviewed by Luntz said they were put off by what they described as Vice President Joe Biden’s “condescending” and “disrespectful” attitude towards the younger Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

Others in the group said they didn’t understand why Ryan couldn’t be more specific about how GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney intends to implement his “five-point” plan to get the economy back on track.”

In the end, the swing voters seemed to feel little wind in either direction. Another focus group of undecided voters on CNN split their votes evenly: 1/3 Biden, 1/3rd Ryan, 1/3rd Undecided. While that group seemed to feel small gusts in both directions, it still seems that Frank Luntz summarized the undecideds in general when he said: “We’re going to have to wait until next week’s debate [Oct. 16] to see when the undecided decide.

“One added thought. Though supportive of much what Joe Biden said, and not put off by his 82 interruptions as tallied by FOX (he needed to make up for Obama’s ennui), I was one of those put off by his frequent imitation of chuckles the clown.

I liked Biden better just listening to him on the radio en route to my meeting. One Democrat suggested those smirks and Cheshire cat grins were Joe showing outrage at the falsehoods spun by Ryan. I’d say most of us would think that is an odd way to show outrage. A serious demeanor and intense stare would have been less off putting to those capricious swing voters.

But, as we so often hear, Joe’s gonna’ be Joe.   And, all told, I doubt this debate will be much remembered by anyone by election day.

Harnessing The Power of Boobs

(As you might suspect, drilling down through the spin and downright lies prevalent in our political system in relationship to our economy can get awfully tiresome.   I had that feeling last May when I wrote this post and, since I’ve had a number of new readers since them, I thought it worth repeating.  As they do with re-runs on television, I like to think of it as an “encore performance.”) 


Politics are not central to our lives.   But boobs are.

Danica Patrick at the 2007 Red Dress Collectio...

Danica Patrick at the 2007 Red Dress Collection for the Heart Truth campaign (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not much interested in politics right now because the hugely expensive food fight for president is already in full swing and will drag on for months.   Both sides craft tiresome attack ads aimed at demeaning the other, and I guess they pick up some votes that way, but their main impact is to make most of us sick of it all.  It’s been theorized that the far right likes it that way;  the sicker we are of politics the more likely things will remain the same and the richer the rich will get.

Fine.  I’ll think about that another day.  Today I’d rather sit in my deck chair in the sun and think about boobs.   I must admit, I often give boobs a cursory glance,  but lately they have pressed themselves against my consciousness more than usual.  Over the past two days, I got into an emailing dispute with a friend as to who invented the bra, and I’ll tell you it was neither a guy named Titzlinger nor Brassier, as some people think.  Also, Playboy sent me a free peak:  “Celebrate Mammorial Day.”  Thanks, Hugh.

But what really got me to thinking about boobs  was my seeing in my Huffington Post infected version of AOL a head shot photo of Kristen Stewart under the title:  News and Commentary.  I just happened to have seen an interview with her, so I know she starred  in the Twilight movies and now is in a movie about Snow White.   However, all of that is secondary to Kristen’s boobs.

The heading read:  “Kristen Stewart Almost Bares Sideboob.”

“Almost”?  Just how much bare boob equates with “almost”, especially from the side?   Well, you have to click to see that photo.  Huff Post intersperses numerous teases of this type, and they must think our response is so Pavlovian at this point that the promise of an “almost” little peek at the boob skin of  one of the latest “it girls” rings the bell.   Now that is harnessing the power of boobs.

I often wonder if these teases are primarily to attract men, of if women are interested to see just how racy the so-called “stars” are getting and whether the look would work for them?

I’m happy to report  I did not click to see what “almost” was, not out of any kind of fundamentalist virtue, but from often feeling like, well a boob, clicking disappointing teases before.   Even boob power has its limits.  Remember the story of the boy who called “wolf?”

Still, to understand American life, including politics,  it helps to understand the stupendous significance of boobs.   If a Martian landed and wanted a short course on how we humans operate, especially in this country, I would have to include “boobs” as a central factor.  I’m amazed by the power that those relatively little, largely fatty objects have upon our lives.  And, that’s irrespective of the bigger, better, bionic boobs, which frankly I’m not all that keen about.   If God wanted ’em packed with silicone, he/she/it would have made them that way.  In this matter, I’m old school.

Think of the number of Congressmen who have had their careers busted by boobs.   And remember the “ward robe malfunction” at the Super Bowl of several years ago.   You can’t remember the teams that played, right, but you remember Janet Jackson.  Oh, and the outrage on the right.  How could the network  let this happen?  The power of a just a little bit of boob.

What strikes me is the extent to which young women both employ their boobs to advantage, while also acting as if they are no big deal.   Younger women casually talk about their boobs, even move them around in public to get comfy,  when years ago this was taboo.  It was unseemly for women to touch their breasts in public, or even to adjust bra straps.  Or even refer to them by name.

Another difference is women used to complain that men would often  stare at their boobs in conversation, rather than look them in the eyes.    This was tied to the  feminist complaint about women being treated as  sex objects.   I don’t hear either complaint anymore.  I can see why, given the long lines at the offices of cosmetic surgeons and clothing styles that accentuate cleavage.  The thinking seems to be:  “You boys want to see boobs.  Well take a gander, as long as you do it discreetly and don’t creep me out.  And you are boys.  Not you gramps.”

Harnessing the power of boobs.

Today’s women seem to have finally taken ownership of their breasts, and have parlayed their value.   For some reason most of them now seem to agree with men:  Their boobs are a major selling point.   I must say, growing up in a much more Puritan world,  I feel a bit prudish about the changes and  I prefer women to be more demure.

Though I know little about her, I can see why Danica Patrick might be a role model for many a young woman, in that she has forged a place for herself in  a macho male sport, while not averse to exploiting her female body power in other venues.  What seems noteworthy is she is careful about how she harnesses that body power.  In today’s sexed up world, she seems almost demure.

I’m happy to report that from my cursory search she has held the “almost” line when it comes to full nudity, seeming to understand the importance of leaving something to the imagination.   Also, while there is much speculation regarding a number of cosmetic touch ups, if so,  she seems to have drawn the line just short of making them obvious.

While obviously not shy of including T & A in her repertoire, Patrick has developed other, much stronger cards to play, so her future does not  depend on harnessing the power of any part of her body.   That seems role model material to me.

You go GoDaddy girl!


Related Material:   A strip tease artist discusses her craft.

“Utterly Inadequate”

Official photographic portrait of US President...

( Wikipedia)

That was how Tom Brokaw summed up President Obama’s performance at the debate, and that seemed to capture much of the public reaction, especially from the staunchest of Obama supporters.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...


Political wit Bill Maher, who has donated one million dollars to an Obama Super PAC,  sounded liked he might want his money back in several tweets, including  “i cant believe I’m saying this but Obama DOES look like he needs a teleprompter.”   In the end he proclaimed Romney the winner of the debate.

Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, who undoubtedly remains convinced he is a hard hitting interviewer, but to me has morphed over time into a cheer captain for the Obama team, was almost apoplectic over the Obama performance.   “Where was Obama?” he yelled.  “He looked like he was enduring the debate.”  The President often stared down and sometimes grimaced while Romney focused his eyes and his zingers on him.

Of course, pundits have mentioned that challengers of a President have usually won the first televised debate, and we know how that worked out for John Kerry, for example.  Recently the pollsters have generally been tossing dirt over Romney’s chances like his campaign is already dead, so how is the President supposed to get up for the challenge?  Maybe being the leader of the free world has taken a little out of Obama lately, and he just couldn’t get past the feeling of having to endure an obvious etch-a-sketch loser like Mitt Romney.   Any athlete knows you don’t want to play a weak team because it doesn’t pump up the competitive juices.

Tied to that is the coaching Obama got or didn’t get for the debate.   Apparently, they did not want him to come off as too aggressive at or dismissive of Romney  (no mention of the 47% or Bain).  That succeeded.  He came off as blah instead.   But certainly they did not coach him to often look down nor to grimace.   He seemed to come up with those techniques on his own.

O. K., so most agree Obama’s performance was “inadequate”, but let’s remember one thing.  We are talking about ONE NINETY MINUTE PERFORMANCE.   Given all there is by which to judge the two candidates, this really shouldn’t mean that much.  Or should it?  Apparently it did to several members of a focus group of 24  “undecideds” who discussed their reactions to the debate on Fox TV.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that after months and months of us being inundated with political blitz, they could find 24 undecideds.   I’ve been assuming what few there are must be in a coma or lost somewhere, like in the Amazon basin.  But pollsters say I’m wrong, estimating that 5% of likely voters are still undecided.  Anyway, pollster Frank Luntz gathered 24 of them, 13 of whom had voted for Obama in the last election.  By the end of the debate, though, a big majority of the group either seemed to favor Romney, or at least hadn’t decided.   Obama didn’t seem to pick up a vote.  One guy had become very decided, saying he would vote for Romney because he showed a better “grasp of the facts”.

What facts?  There are millions of related facts and Romney chose some and was crisp and sharp in selling them.   Given more time and attention (as numerous commentators have done in postmortems), those “facts” reveal more holes than Swiss cheese.  But for whatever reasons, Obama failed to bite into them, barely even a nibble.

O. K. then.   The Emmy for best Presidential performance in a TV debate goes to Mitt Romney.   Now that the West Wing is no longer on the air, the competition is slim.   What I wonder about is how many swing voters are as impressionable as that Luntz focus group?   Many did not seem to realize that acting more presidential than the President for 90 minutes, by appearing more energized and in better command of the facts, is not equivalent to being the President and doing presidential things, especially when many of the so-called facts are essentially fictions.

This focus group of “undecideds” did make me wonder whether many of those swing voters come election day will vote  as whimsically as me choosing sweet and sour pork on a Chinese menu over beef and broccoli.  I don’t know why.  Broccoli just seems less appealing at the moment.

One thing for sure about that debate is that Mitt Romney acted like the guy who wants the presidency more.   This is partially because Barack Obama already is the President.  He already has the bone that Romney wants.   The problem in debating might be that Obama has come to believe that he has already won.

Given the capriciousness of some American voters, though, the race may not be a done deal, especially if between now and Nov 6, Mitt adds to his collection of my imaginary Emmy’s.

The Thrilla in Manila….er, Denver

Tomorrow night Barack Obama and Mitt Romney square off in their first of three debates. It is being played up like a heavy weight battle reminding me of one of the most famous, that won by Ali over Frazier in Manilla back in 1975, their third and last fight .   Both candidates have been in training camps verbally sparring with mock opponents, and the pundits have speculated on who needs the win more (Romney) and who has the most to lose (Obama), etc., etc.

Viewers might want to do some of their own fight preparation and, since the first half of the Wednesday debate deals with the economy, you might want to read a Monday column by Robert Samuelson:  The truth deficit from both campaigns.

As Samuelson points out:  “What defines this campaign, in part, is a yawning gap between the political rhetoric and the country’s budget problems.”  You know, such as the imminent fiscal cliff and the fact that neither side has devised a multi-year budget plan that really tackles the problem of our burgeoning national debt (I know, the Ryan plan supposedly does, but even in theory (dubious theory at that), it doesn’t balance the budget until, oh, about 28 years from now at best.  Maybe just in time for my 95th birthday.

The chart below projects our downward trajectory of  S. S. and Medicare debt if we do nothing to alter its course:

Medicare & Social Security Deficits Chart

The big unaddressed issue is that too many of us are beginning to retire and fall apart at about the same time.  As Samuelson puts it:  “As you know, the great driver here is the retirement of baby boomers. Between 2011 and 2025, the number of retirees on Social Security will grow by nearly 50 percent to 66 million people; Medicare experiences a similar rise. The resulting spending surge perpetuates huge budget deficits.”  (emphasis added)

Now I will be interested to see if host Jim Lehrer will come up with a question that prompts either candidate to address this issue.   Without tackling that and what it suggests about the need for both budget cuts and increased taxes (and not just on the richest among us), I envision the first half of the debate with both candidates playing rope-a-dope, only seeming to be fighting a real fight.

Oh, they will argue over the  issue of jobs, of course, but who really knows what either could get accomplished in that area given likely continued gridlock in Congress?   Since the economy is slowly picking up, that will produce more jobs in itself, regardless of who is President.   At least that seems a frequent prediction of late (the “fiscal cliff” might have a say about that, though)

Included in the second half of the debate will be the topic of government, and here I hope Jim Lehrer asks this question prompted by Matt Miller in a column:   “….ask the candidates if they are in favor of restoring majority rule in this country. In other words, ask them if they would urge the Senate to scrap the filibuster – and if not, how do they expect to get anything done?”

I will be surprised if either the burgeoning baby-boomer-budget-issue or that of the filibuster are even raised by Lehrer, but they should be since the former is our greatest budget challenge and the latter seems crucial to returning Congress to being a functioning body.

If either point is brought up, I will stop channel surfing and actually pay attention.