Finally back from a long week

I’m finally back from my ten-day “vacation”. Although I did take vacation days from work to attend the Democratic National Convention, it didn’t really feel like a vacation. Conventions are, by their very nature, thoroughly hectic. At least the two days in Breckenridge and one day in Boulder helped me unwind a little bit. One negative of the trip was that I hardly ever had Internet access (would you believe I don’t even own a laptop?), so I only had time to blog some initial impressions of Denver, thoughts on the musical talent, and those ridiculous abortion protesters. I suppose I’ll try to flesh out the rest of the experience now.

As expected, I saw all sorts of celebrities at the convention, including nearly every talking head from the news shows. I also saw every correspondent from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at one point or another. And I mention it as an after-thought because it’s a given, but I saw pretty much every famous Democratic politician. And just in the hotel lobby I ran into James Carville, Howard Dean, and Jimmy Carter. In terms of non-politician celebrities, Anne Hathaway was there, and my mom’s lawyer’s son even got a picture with her, but I didn’t see her. Drat.

The convention itself was really good, and everyone was impressed with pretty much all aspects of it. Hillary and Bill Clinton did what they had to do with aplomb, and there was very little lingering resentment from the Obama crowd. I was on the convention floor when Hillary put Obama’s nomination up for acclamation and the roar coming from the delegates was tremendous. Biden’s speech was very heart-touching and had everyone in our sky box crying. Then, of course, Obama’s speech on Thursday, in front of some 80,000 supporters, was amazing. The fireworks capped it off less subtly in case anyone watching it at home didn’t get it. Some Republicans prayed for rain but obviously God is feeling kind of spiteful at them right now, because He delivered unto them instead a hurricane during their own convention. Hehe. Payback’s a bitch.

The worst of the protesting that I saw was nevertheless still peaceful, and consisted of a big stand-off between protesters and riot police. The police won. From the limited amount of news coverage I was able to see, there were some arrests at other protests, but nothing too serious. I gather the protesting at the Republican convention (or what’s left of it, anyway) is going to be a bit more emphatic.

Everyone agreed with Obama’s choice of Biden as VP, while everyone was simply left in shock at the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP. The most common sentiment was “What in the hell was he thinking?!” Amongst other problems, she’s connected to the crooked Ted “Tubes” Stevens, is staunchly anti-abortion even in cases of incestuous rape, supports teaching creationism in schools, has no experience to speak of, and only met McCain once before he chose her. And this latest revelation, that her unmarried teen daughter is pregnant, won’t exactly have conservatives rushing to the polls to vote for her. If McCain really thinks that nominating a staunchly anti-abortion woman will woo over the rabid feminists that mainly make up the Hillary Clinton hold-outs, he’s even stupider than we thought.

Then, after the convention, our brief sojourn to Breckenridge was nice, relaxing, and scenic. We happened to be in town during their annual Rubber Ducky Race, which is actually slightly more amusing than it sounds. They have a stream running through the entire town, the bottom of which is fenced off for the event. Then, people buy or sponsor ducks and they are floated down the river in heats of many dozen each. The first duck that makes it to the fence wins. Granted, the event is kind of aimed at kids, but seeing those duckies getting caught in the eddies behind rocks as eager little kids look on is hysterical.

Oh yeah, and Boulder was very hippie. We went to the Pearl Street Mall, which was full of all sorts of interesting characters, attended a local fair which had some great local musicians, and ate dinner at an amazing teahouse that was imported piece-by-piece from Tajikistan of all places. I’ve never been to a Tajikistani teahouse before, but let me announce here and now that they are amazing.

So that about covers it. A good time was had by all. The convention went off smoothly, the parties were fun, and I got to see all sorts of famous people (again). Hell, I even got into the CNN Grill on Wednesday night, which was proclaimed to be the most exclusive ticket in all of the western hemisphere on that night. Here’s to the 2012 convention, and may we be nominating Barack Obama again then!

10 Responses to “Finally back from a long week”

  1. drinian Says:

    Funny, I haven’t heard anyone think so positively on Biden, who is very much the safe, middle-of-the road insider, or so negatively on Palin (at least before the pregnancy question came up).

    Personally, I thought she was an interesting choice, a staunchly anti-corruption reformer who turned in the leader of the state GOP for performing party business on the state’s time. And, ironically enough, I suspect teenage pregnancy (and attempting to cover it up) is something that many social conservatives are familiar with in their own communities.

    I suppose that as a Dem you would assume the choice was to try and win over Clinton fans; to be honest, that never occurred to me. The ideologies are too different. There’s enough people in the country that she has advantages among other demographic groups.

    Not to derail everything else I’ve said, but I’ve never understood why “even in the case of incestous rape” is a good edge case for abortion bans. I would find known birth defects to be a better one, but if one is against aborting healthy fetuses to begin with, I don’t know why their origin would make a difference; there’s no logical distinction to make between that and other reasons for unwanted pregnancy. This is, of course, perhaps why many conservative churches are strong supporters of adoption programs.

  2. Cyde Weys Says:

    Biden’s more than middle-of-the-road, he’s actually a very good pick. He shores up a lot of the supposed weaknesses in Obama’s candidacy, and if you listen to some of his speeches (like this one at the DNC), you’ll see that he’s very good at what he does. He was also one of the stand-outs in the Democratic primary debates, so Palin is going to have a rough time.

    The problem with Palin is that she’s not staunchly anti-corruption. For instance, she was the director of Ted Stevens’ 527 — an “outside” group that can raise and spend unlimited funds outside of the fundraising limitations. Another thing I forgot to mention in the blog post was how she tried to use her position as governor to fire her former brother-in-law (a state trooper) out of spite, and when the Police Chief refused to go along, she fired him. And this isn’t even her first firing scandal. I would definitely call that corruption and abuse of power.

    There are many cases to made for abortion in the case of incest of rape. You should talk to my mother — she was a social worker before she got into politics. But let me go over some of the reasons briefly.

    First, you’re right, birth defects are a good reason for abortion. Being pro-choice of course means that it’s the mother’s choice (no one is advocating forcing abortion on anyone), but there are many genetic disorders that basically disqualify an individual from ever being anything but a drag on society and requiring care their entire adult life. In these circumstances it really is best to abort and just try again in a few months.

    The health of the mother is another good reason for abortion, for obvious reasons. The mother can try to have more babies later if she wants, or use another technique like finding a surrogate mother if it’s not safe, none of which can happen is she’s dead.

    Now as for incest, incest is a societal taboo mainly because of genetic reasons. A long time ago, society realized that products of incest were worse off than normal babies, even if they were clueless about recessive genes. Humans, like many other animals, have a built-in anti-incest instinct for this very reason. The case for aborting the product of incest is stronger than for any random abortion between unrelated people.

    Now in the case of rape, what you really have to consider are the feelings of the woman. Being raped is an incredibly personal crime, fraught with mental violation and anguish. The last thing many rape victims would want to do is to have to raise the result of that. The baby would remind them of that every day, and they’d never to be able to treat it like a proper mother should. It doesn’t give the baby a fair shot at life, and it’s simply not ethical to force someone to continue enduring such trauma against their will. Imagine all of the resentment a rape victim has against their attacker, and how easily it can transfer to the product of that rape. I can see at least some reasoning for denying abortion in the case of a woman who was having consensual sex — after all, she should know the consequences — but not when the sex was forced upon her.

    There’s another reason for abortion in the case of rape: as a society, we should not be rewarding rapists. Rape is a reproductive strategy that absolutely should not be rewarded, lest we have more of it in the future.

  3. drinian Says:

    I still don’t think you’re looking at this from the perspective of a pro-life person, though, which is what I was getting at, and is certainly the point of view for many within the Republican Party. If one is of the opinion that any viable embryo is as good as a human being, the feelings of the mother are going to count for a lot less. So it’s a poor place to start criticism of a pro-life candidate, and I think she’s being, at the least, logically consistent.

  4. Rich Says:

    I disagree with your argument of logical consistency. Sarah Palin favors the death penalty, so clearly she does not agree with the statement “any viable embryo is as good as a human being.” She thinks all embryos deserve life, but not all human beings.

    I would bring up her positions on war and torture as well, but she doesn’t have any.

  5. drinian Says:

    Bringing the death penalty into the discussion exposes the irony of most stridently pro-choice/anti-death-penalty folks as well. I was trying to narrow the discussion down as much as possible so it wouldn’t blow up.

  6. Ed Says:

    “…every famous Democratic politician.” I´m sure you meant Democrat politician here, ehehhe.

    As a “devout” atheist, I only consider proper to use the word god in a scornful way, ehehe I liked your rainy joke.

    Regarding abortion, common sense, even among most politicians is that politics and abortion should not mix. As things go, in my country we had this discussion, regarding how to legislate on this matter about 10 years ago. Unable to reach any meaningful conclusion, the politicians devised a referendum and the questions were put to the people. Unfortunately it was held on a Sunday and it was a holiday on Monday. It was June, the weather was perfect, most people decided to skip it and headed for the beach instead. The referendum was void. Nine years later, there was another referendum over the same subject, which was also void due to low turnout. The point is, this subject creates a lot of discussion in the intellectual circles but is ignored by most people who just don’t care either way. They don’t want to know about it until they, themselves, personally, have to deal with such a situation.

  7. Rich Says:

    Well another take then: Why allow abortions when the mother is going to die? That embryo is just as valid a human life as the mother. It appears that god is deciding to take the mother and not the embryo unless humans interfere.

    I guess the question becomes: Why is the mother somehow rated more valuable a human life than the embryo if the basis of pro-life is that both are equally good human beings. Certainly saving the child is likely the greater savings in terms of life-years, if that is indeed what we are trying to maximize here.

    I would argue that maximizing life years is not the most important thing here, and that economic, psycological, and social impacts in aggregate on those directly and indirectly involved also need to be taken into account. And so I assign different values where pro-lifers claim you cannot.

  8. Cyde Weys Says:

    I’m not sure I see a contradiction between being pro-choice and being anti-death penalty. One of the main rationales in being anti-death penalty is that innocent people are frequently executed, and it’s impossible to overturn a conviction and set someone free if they are dead. The fear of killing someone who was, in fact, innocent is what motivates a lot of opposition to the death penalty (including mine). I don’t see a contradiction between this and being pro-choice.

    Now one of the main arguments advanced by the pro-lifers, on the other hand, is that every life is sacred, and that humans have no right to terminate an embryo that will (perhaps) grow up into a human. The contradiction here with being pro-death-penalty is a lot more obvious. Though it isn’t even the biggest contradiction I see. The biggest contradiction I see is that pro-lifers (who are usually conservatives) frequently don’t care about what happens to the babies after they are born at all. Look at the persistent refusal to provide universal health care, for instance. Bush even vetoed a bill to improve health care for children whose parents couldn’t afford it. If you’re so insistent on having all of these extra unwanted babies in the world, you need to take care of them as well.

  9. Ed Says:

    Hi Cyde, sorry but with all this talk about abortions I actually forgot to congratulate you on your trip to the convention and how glad we are to know that it all went so well.
    Also nice is to see senator Obama doing so well in the polls now.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/629/629/7360265.stm

  10. drinian Says:

    Funny, several of the most stridently pro-life families I know have adopted one or more children.

    For that matter, McCain has an adopted child, from Bangladesh.

    I’m certainly not going to suggest that the death penalty is a good thing and that pro-choice advocates should be for it, but, given our current level of medical technology, the only difference between a premature baby and a late-term aborted fetus is how the folks responsible choose to treat it, in much the same way that the only difference between life in prison and Death Row is how a judge and jury decide. The idea of saving innocent life most certainly does apply in the same way.