Catching up by revising a half-completed entry I started a month ago:

Some things happened since I last wrote. Obama won. That was awesome. Paloma was born. That was awesomer. Okay, both were really really awesome.

So, the birth was pretty crazy, as these things tend to be. It was really really painful, and then Isa got the epidural and it wasn’t  painful at all. She napped  and ate ice chips, and I did work and watched a 12-inning Red Sox game. We were quite calm about the whole C-section thing, but  being in there was pretty nuts. You put on your hair net and mask and walk in, and there she is, drugged up, a sheet blocking most of her body from view. And there are all these monitor beeping and doctors running around, and things being injected and blood everywhere, and I’m trying to come up with something mundane to tell her to get her mind off things. When the baby was born, I couldn’t help but glance over the other side of the sheet, which wasn’t a good idea. By the time the brought her over for me to hold, all the breathing into the mask and watching Isa’s heart monitor and trying to interpret the doctors’ moves was a bit much, added on top a 10-minute old baby I didn’t feel confident holding. I got lightheaded and had to leave the room. Meanwhile Isa was busy drifting off and losing most of her blood, and the doctors had to get a little creative.

But in the end we had our baby, and she was a beaut. We got to stay at the hospital awhile to recover and learn a few tricks. It turns out that babies are pretty easy, you just feed them, burp them, and change their diapers. Maybe try to play with them a little, but it doesn’t have much effect for the first few weeks. Giving a bath is probably the hardest  thing.

They all say how it turns your life upside down, and I guess it did, but it’s not so earth-shattering when you’re expecting it. I got in plenty of carousing, world-traveling and dining out. Now I’m into the phase of staying in with baby and changing diapers. So what? She’s really cute. She has fat cheeks and blue eyes and a lot of hair. She likes to look up at lights and make grunting noises at night. She has an extensive wardrobe.

Almost three months in, she’s progressing well, lifting her head when she’s on her stomach, smiling, grasping at things. Soon, maybe tonight, we’ll move her to her own room to sleep, the first time we’ve slept without her for nearly a year. But she’s getting to big for her cradle, sticking her arm and leg into it.  The first of a million letting-go phases, to be sure.

This whole child-rearing thing is an exercise in letting go. Watching each early phase whiz by, enjoying it, and then letting it go. Letting go of your fear that you’ll do the wrong thing, let her get sick, raise her incorrectly. You get handed something so perfect and pristine, you want to hold onto it and keep it the same forever, but you can’t. That’s the beauty of it.

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In the words of the woman who could be our next president:

This economic crisis seems complicated, but the big picture’s really not. It’s really just America maxing out its credit and going bankrupt, isn’t it?

I don’t think there’s any way out of this. I imagine it stems from the fact that 90 percent of people (or so) haven’t seen their incomes rise in the last 10 years, but we’ve been pushed to spend as usual, to prop up the economy.  So we kept spending and spending until the bills started coming due, and then it was, whoops, we can’t pay it. Because we haven’t gotten a raise in 10 years.

So now we’ve basically spent all our future earnings for the next 10 years, and we’re going to have to relearn how to live without credit, because I don’t think it’s coming back. It’s going to be a long, slow climb back into solvency, and by the time we get there America might not be the most powerful country in the world anymore.

As far as the bailout plan goes, it doesn’t sound like a great idea. I mean, how is buying up all the bad debt, and letting those companies going with business as usual while taxpayers drown, how is that any better than taking over the failing banks and selling off their assets? People keep talking about how the alternative is “apocalyptic.” Maybe so, but I need to have what this apocalypse could look like. In what way would it be an apocalypse  for people outside of Wall Street?  Would it be anarchy, blood in the streets? Or just blood on Wall Street and a long recession? I don’t see us getting out of the long recession part of the deal.

I wonder what would have happened if Al Gore had won those 537 votes. Would we still be staring at the next Great Depression? Maybe there would have  been a problem with the mortgage industry. But we might have acted sooner to regulate the market, we might have gotten better wages for the middle class so they wouldn’t have to use their houses as their ATMs, and we might not have piled on massive debt on top of whatever we’ll take on as a result of this disaster.

It’s amazing how quickly you can run a country into the ground if you really set your mind to it.

I spent last week watching the Democratic convention. I was nervous the first two days, when one lame speaker after another took the podium, people who have no idea how to give a good speech. But hearing from the military people who have lost faith in Bush on the third day was great. And all the prime speeches were very good. Dennis Kucinich riled them up like a righteous lunatic. And if you didn’t hear John Kerry’s surprisingly good speech, here it is:

One thing that always bugs me is that people always say that Obama hasn’t explained what “change” he’s promising and that it’s all been vague promises. What they really mean is that he hasn’t gotten it on TV. He’s had very detailed plans on all the issues for months. I don’t know what people are expecting–a half-hour infomercial for people too lazy to go to his site? He could have spent all his speeches explaining his policies, but I am sure not a word would have made it into the nightly newscasts, because that’s not “news.”

I’ve been trying to understand the details of Obama’s plan, and I like it.
Here’s a great summary of his economic plan.

While they killed several trees trying to sum up Obama’s plan (perhaps a reason why people don’t exactly understand what he’s proposing, McCain’s plan can be summed in five words: “Cut taxes for the rich.”

So how about Obama?

He clearly doesn’t have much experience in Washington. But how much experience do you need? Is there really a great benefit to having experienced the ways of Washington over the last 20 years? Maybe you’d be naive, maybe you’d try to get too much done or trust people too much. But he’d basically have the same amount of Washington experience that Clinton, Reagan, Bush, Carter, and whatever other governors had. Do I think Obama’s missed out on some skill set that they gained from being governor? Not really. Running a presidential campaign is just as challenging. It takes just as much leadership and planning, as the recently leaked memos from Clinton’s campaign show. Obama’s managed to build an amazing network, put all the right people in place, make the choices that need to be made, and put himself in good position to win, all without selling out on his commitment to “a different kind of politics.”

No, he’s not blowing McCain away. But who would really expect that from a candidate who is so unknown to the country, who is black, and who is facing the one candidate that can elicit sympathies from both sides of the aisle? Combined with going up against a much more cutthroat party that will do whatever it takes to win, –abandon any principle, destroy any lives–with an entrenched echo chamber of media outlets that are either in the right wing’s pocket or too afraid to speak the truth to their lies…I think he’s doing fine to be where he is.

And he is offering a new type of politics. As new as you can get, anyway, and still have a chance to win. He’s staying positive while fighting back. He gives thoughtful answers, not just soundbites. And as anyone that goes to his website knows, he does have an actual plan to solve or alleviate some of the problems that the current administration has gotten us into. He’s an incrementalist, which is probably what he would need to be to get anything done–nobody’s going to walk in and get health care done in week one.

What’s most important is that he listens. He listens to various points of view and stakes out a position based on his best judgment and the information available. He doesn’t focus on only what’s going to score points or how he can stay in office; he seems to genuinely want to make the country better.

Of course, I’m drawn to him because he’s a Democrat and not a Republican. It can be hard to avoid that Pavlovian response of supporting your party no matter who the candidate is. But there is good reason to support the Democratic candidate. The Republican machine has proven over the past several years to be utterly without principle, unconcerned with the effect of policy on the country, willing to break laws and corrupt itself in the interest of holding onto power, nothing more. The Democrats have been certainly hapless, but at least it looks like they have things they want to accomplish. Yes, there are hypocrisies and crass political calculations, but at least there’s something behind it, some goal. You can see this echoed in the ads that McCain and Obama put out. McCain tries to persuade you that Obama’s not ready to lead because he’s a “celebrity”, without giving any explanation why. Obama criticizes McCain’s actual policies and tells you about what he plans to do. McCain’s promises are complete something-for-nothing fantasies in the tradition of W. He says he’ll pay for everything from the savings we make by someday getting out of Iraq! In 100 years or so, of course. Obama’s plans don’t completely add up, but they are at least in the sphere of reality.

So, that’s why I’m in favor of Obama, without really getting into why McCain is a total sham, an unhinged warmonger who will accelerate the U.S.’s descent from world leadership into oblivion. Obama gives us a fighting chance to reverse course.

First he was just a jackass, running ads telling people how life “must be nice” for Obama the “celebrity”, who was raised by a single mother and had to work for his success, unlike the admiral’s son who threw away his education, and dumped his wife when she was badly injured for a new multimillionaire trophy  wife.

Now he’s just getting scary. Sounds like he wants to push us  to war any chance he can get. If he’s leading us into war with Russia, in defense of a country his top advisor was paid to represent, what can we possibly look forward to when he becomes president? I thought anyone would pale in comparison to Bush, but these days he’s not looking any better…

Okay, you asked for it…