Obama FTW

20 10 2012

Action vs. anecdote is how I’d summarize the latest presidential debate. Obama FTW.
The President was also a helluva a lot more respectful and restrained with Candy Crowley than Mitt Romney. I have to wonder if Ann Romney gets a word in edgewise.

On the glass ceiling
I loved how the President rightly reframed the Lilly Ledbetter Act as not a women’s issue but a family issue and therefore a national issue. Women are not a special interest group, thank you very much.

Romney’s return was to say, “I had more women on my cabinet than any other governor.”

Jobs after college
Again, Obama reframed job creation as an imperative for our nation not just individuals. He congratulated the student in the audience on his good fortune to be in college then steered the conversation toward educational opportunities for all, including community colleges which play a critical role in getting people back to work faster. In doing that, he kept the conversation from veering into entitlement land (woe is me, I can’t find a job) and showed he understands that education drives the economy.

Gov. Romney, in contrast, promised the young man a job in 2014 knowing not the student’s work ethic, self-marketing skills or the relevance of his major.

I think it’s telling that on major policy issues from the women’s rights to job creation, Romney used anecdotes from his life rather than programs he created to show his “populism”.

Having women on your cabinet, for example, is like John Tedesco saying he isn’t racist because he had a Latina girlfriend. Romney said he challenged his staff to find women for his cabinet, when they initially returned an all-male roster.

Romney should have already had a short list of female leaders (or a short list of leaders for his cabinet which included women) cultivated through years of corporate and government relationships as well as from running a corporation (which should have had an inclusive talent development policy). Red flag.

Tax credits
Romney’s economic plan scares the bejeezus out of me.
Did you catch his deflection of the tax credits question?

The woman in the audience explicitly asked if Romney would sunset middle class tax credits, including the mortgage interest, education, charity and child tax credits. Romney replied, without mentioning said credits, he would eliminate taxes on middle class America’s (those making $200,000 or less. I must be impoverished) savings accounts and capital gains.

So first, you have to be doing well enough to save money from your $200,000 annual income to avoid being taxed on it. But if you want to catch a break on buying a home, having a child, going back to school or otherwise contributing to your community and our economy, suck it.

Gah. Now I’m too riled for sleep.

Plugged into Pandora in Korea

1 10 2012

yay new music! i couldn’t find a US web proxy server that loaded fast enough to stream music. GlobalPandora is ~$2.34/month, loads quickly and supports Javascript.

i’m tough-loving my Walkmen station today and discovering/loving Cold War Kids.
Dance Yourself Clean sounds exactly like Hang Me Up to Dry.
what’s the line between flattery and plagiarism?

Side saddle in Siem Reap

1 10 2012

How do they do it, Cambodian women riding side saddle? They carefreely drape their legs over the side of the bike gripping neither bike nor boyfriend.

I took one moto-taxi ride and vowed never again.

It was all I could do to keep from hugging my driver round his waist. Instead, I rested my hands on his shoulders and tried not to think about my brains plastering the pavement in Phnom Penh.

Oh Cambodia.
I’m so grateful to have had the chance to see you, if only for a week.

What is it about SE Asia? Maybe it’s that people here have so much less than we do that puts our problems in proper perspective; or perhaps the sweltering weather makes any effort toward appearance utterly useless; or it could be that riding a rusty bike down a dusty road gives childlike pleasure.

I thought one week would be plenty of time to see the ancient ruins. Noooo. Four days was barely enough to see the major temples of Angkor Wat. Two days in Phnom Penh were too brief, though long enough to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek, one of Cambodia’s largest killing field. Still there is more to see in these two towns as well as the rest of the countryside, including the Mekong delta and the Sihanoukville beach town. Alas.

Visiting Phnom Penh
What struck me about the devastation of the Pol Pot regime was how much education was a factor in effectively oppressing Cambodians. First, Pol Pot killed professors, teachers and the educated. Next, he closed down schools. Imagine if this educated, creative class were alive in Cambodia today. They would be elder statespeople in their 60s, in leadership positions, contributing to their communities and their country. And they would have had families and passed down their ideas and opinions. Instead, these critical thinkers were killed, and psychologists speculate ~80% of the country continues to suffer from depression.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum tells stories.
Roughly 3,000,000 Cambodians died under Pol Pot’s regime, and that number is hard to wrap your head around. I mean, how many people fit in Kenan Stadium, 60,000? How many people were in your graduating class, 300? How can you begin to think about 3,000,000 million people? Tuol Sleng focuses on the individual people who were brought to the high school-turned detention center and never seen again by their families.

I was struck by the museum staff’s efforts to return the museum to its original purpose of education. The high school-turned-detention center lacks educational programs for citizens and visitors, and I left thinking, “if Jim Goodnight or Jim Goodmon visited this museum, surely, they’d make a personal gift of $10,000.” Imagine the technology a donation this small could buy…

I am grateful to have experienced Cambodia.

Visiting Bayon was amazing with its egofantastic “Buddha” (King Jayavarman VII) faces.

Eating dinner in open-air restaurants showed me at last why SE Asian beer fails at beer fests–it only tastes good in sweltering weather with 90% humidity.

Looking tuk-tuk drivers and touts in the eyes, and saying “no thank you,” I realized, was far superior to the Korean brush-off.

And getting a three-dollar haircut in Phnom Penh was a fail, but giving blood at the Angkor  Children’s Hospital, supported by our USAID, was a definite win.