Archive for October, 2008


Community Organizing

This piece from the Dailly Show is great. I looked up the guy that says that being a community organizer prepares you for being a used car salesman, reble leader in a civil war, or drug dealer. Yes, this guy really said that. His name is Matthew Vadum from the Capial Research Center which lists on its website its mission as: “Capital Research Center (CRC) was established in 1984 to study non-profit organizations, with a special focus on reviving the American traditions of charity, philanthropy, and voluntarism.” Let’s disappoint this f@%#er.

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Barack TV

Did anyone expect this 30 minute spot not to be well done? The only thing I would have suggested is that he talk about his healthcare plan after the woman explains that she takes twelve prescriptions. He did address healthcare, just later on.

People, I want to live in the country he is talking about. I want to believe that the hard times illustrated by the families that are showcased are just that that, hard times that we are going to get past. I want to believe that this is my country, people willing to work hard to improve their lives. I want to believe that there are more people who have hope than people who fear. I want to believe that the anger and rage I have seen on the news recently reflects the smallest segment of our society, nowhere near the majority.

I do believe. Amid my worries and doubts, I still believe. I believe that people can see that their self interest is tied to the interest of their fellow man. I believe that we are willing to discuss issues rather than yell out in rage. I believe that we can come together and compromise to find the best answers to the challenges we face.

I believe that we can bring forth our better nature to bring about a better future.

I am an idealist. I recognize that because I also feel I am a realist. We must reach for that ideal even though we will never realize it. It is in the striving that we achieve real results.

This is the pivotal moment. It is the moment when we choose if we want a future where we address our challenges together and achieve success or we choose a future dictated by the fear and hatred of the past.

I want to believe.

Don’t let me down America.


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Fear and nausea

I didn’t want to believe the story that came out yesterday about the two neo-nazis.  I read it online yesterday and wanted it to go away, but it was on the news and it was on NPR this morning.  I watched video of people in Iowa talk about how Obama was a terrorist and “the blacks would take over”.  The friend I debate with at the office is all but foaming at the mouth as it appears that Obama is going to win the election.  He rubbed his white wrist as he said his policies would favor certain people to make up for the past. 


I want to throw up. 


I am afraid that all the people that are so fearful add fuel to those that are so full of hate.  In my heart I really believe that the percentage of these people are small.  You look at the crowds yelling and hooting and hollering after Sarah Palin says that Barack pals around with terrorist and you see old and white.  That simply is no longer the face of America. 


If we want to talk policy, fine.  I can see that the Republicans offer another point of view.  I don’t agree with it in all accounts, but we can discuss that.  We can find common ground.


Fear and hate.  You can’t discuss.  You can’t talk people out of that and you can’t find common ground.  There is no logic to such fear and hate, it is visceral. 


The media has glossed over much of the hate speak.  It has been mocked on SNL and the late night talk shows.  Laughing at it has its value, no one wants to be the butt of the joke.  Yet how can we really conquer this?  Do you ignore it, shove it in the closet and hope that it withers away?  Or, do you shine the light of day on it and hope it burns away in the harsh scrutiny? 


I don’t want to believe my country is so backwards.


Yet, I still feel like I’m going to be sick.



Biden interview in Florida

He may be a gaffe machine, but he handled this crazy interview very well. He asked Barbara West if one of her questions was a joke. I love that. In 5 minutes he answers all the McCain Camps talking points.

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The scary thing is…

The thing that scares me now is the presumptive tone the media has taken on regarding the campaign.  They have all but written off McCain and are talking about how Sarah Palin has her eye on 2012.  (Really!?!)  But, they have written McCain off before and been wrong.  I still think about Florida in 2000.  We never really know what is going to happen on election day.


Or during early voting for that matter.  Early voting started here last Monday and I have yet to vote.  I am so anxious to do so.  I cannot wait to vote and have my voter registration card handy.  But, I called the election office last week to confirm what I already knew.  All voting equipment used during early voting is touch screen, on election day it is ballots and optical scan equipment.  So I am torn.  I do not trust the touch screen equipment.  There is no physical evidence t hat my vote will be counted.  I will be able to prove I voted by the stamp on my registration card, but how do I know my vote really got in the count?  There is no reassuring pen to paper, no happy bubbles to color in by my candidate.  There is no satisfying feeling of feeding your ballot into the counter and noting that you are voter number 317 that day.  Still, I just don’t know if I can wait.  I don’t want anything to happen to keep me from voting on Election Day.  I don’t my presence to cause the lines to be so long that someone else turns away a week from Tuesday.


I want my vote to count even if my state will still be red.  I want to at least be part of the “popular vote”. 


The not ready for primetime player

It is just too easy to make fun and point out the flaws in Sarah Palin.  I must seriously be a bleeding heart because I feel sorry for John McCain.  I really don’t think he wanted to pick her as his running mate.  But, he did.  It has to be one of the worst decisions in his campaign and speaks loud and clear about his decision making process – rash and partisan and easily swayed by those he surrounds himself with.  That’s scary.  No thank you, I don’t want that in the White House.  Still, I feel sorry for him.  I just can’t help it.  The once viral and feisty 71 year old has become the cranky old man at 72.  It feels like watching your kindly granddad deteriorate into the increasing feeble man tottering around the house muttering “god damn it!” under his breath.


Then there is Sarah.  Sarah, who dreams of being the first VP in charge of the Senate.  The $150,000 worth of clothes from Neiman’s and Saks is funny.  I get it.  I totally understand why she would need clothes for the campaign trail.  I will even go so far as to say I understand why Todd needed some clothes too.  I mean they can’t run around in their snow boots in Florida.  Still, $150,000?  Really?  Neiman’s and Saks?  Yeah, sure it is easy to spend a load of cash in those stores, but does that really fit the image they were trying to sell? 


The thing is, Sarah really is that small town hockey mom.  The RNC and the McCain campaign took her and gave her handlers from the campaign – not from Alaska.  They prepped her.  They restyled her hair.  They gave her scripts and talking points.  They bought her a new wardrobe in fashion that wouldn’t look shabby next to Cindy McCain. 


It’s Pygmalion goes to Washington.


All the handling and all the damage control they have to do whenever she opens her mouth make it glaringly obvious that she is simply not ready for prime time.  It also points out just how twisted the logic is.  Choose a woman to pull in Hillary supporters and so you can tout that you have a woman running.  Then totally undermine the historic nature of choosing a woman to run on the Republican ticket by choosing someone completely unprepared.  Then ask your Eliza Doolittle to understand all the policy positions, but not bother to be sure she understands the job description in the constitution.  Take her and make sure she is coiffed and clothed like the upper tax bracket folks, but ask her to never lose her cockney accent so she can communicate to the lower tax brackets. 


Are people really buying this?


Yes, we can…but will we?

The American people, it would appear, are on the verge of electing the self-avowed candidate of change.  They are tired of the way Washington has been run and scared for their futures.  They are prepared to seek a different path.  And not without good reason.  The environment is fouled, the economy is in the dumper and the price of energy is, well, unaffordable.


We have taken the  first step.  We have become engaged, informed and involved.  And yet that is most certainly not enough.  Barack Obama cannot save us.  No one man can.     


We have long decried the power plays of President Bush.  We have complained that he had too much power to follow his own agenda, ignore Congress and the will of the people.  It would take pages to list his excesses.  We have shouted from our collective rooftops the fact that this is supposed to be a system of checks and balances; that no man should have such absolute control.


And now we wait for one man to save us.  He cannot.  We must save ourselves.  I try not to be the pessimist, but I wonder if we will.  An example:


A decade ago, business as usual changed in American manufacturing.  Leveraged buyouts, mergers, competitive pressure from overseas and greed were some of the factors that brought about that change.   Almost overnight American workers were admonished to produce more with less.  For less.


To be fair, it was necessary.  It was necessary because we had made unwise trade agreements but nevertheless, it was necessary if we were to compete.  In my workplace, we were told, “get on the train or be left behind”.  Most did, but you could draw a line separating the people who could not or would not adapt from the ones who did.  That line was around 50 years of age.  Some people were just too old and too inflexible to change.  They got left behind.  They were forced into retirement, fired or quit.  They simply could not make the shift to a new work paradigm.   If we are to thrive as a nation, we cannot afford that kind of reaction.  If we are to survive as a people, a world, we cannot afford that kind of reaction.


The world is changing, one way or another.  We are in a perfect storm of change.  The economy, the environment and the emergence of India and China guarantee it.  We cannot now stand idly and wait for the President, or the “other guy” to fix things.  We must make hard decisions – unpopular decisions – and do our part.



Another example:  There are still people who do not believe in global warming.  Not only do they not believe it is man-made, they don’t believe it at all.  When I pressed some friends on the subject, their reasons became clear:  They simply did not want to change the way they did things.  Believing in global warming would force them to change.  The conversation grew animated and my friend’s wife told me that she DID NOT want to turn the water off while brushing her teeth – there was such a thing as comfort.


Please believe me, these are normally reasonable people.


We must lay aside our good for the greater good, on a larger scale still.  Every state (and their leaders) do what is good for themselves, but not what is good for the nation.  Or even the world. 


Third example:  A dozen states in the U.S. grow corn, much of it for ethanol and all of that is subsidized by the government.  Ethanol is a boondoggle.  It takes more energy to produce it and move it than it creates.  This is a fairly well known fact among the energy aware.  And still we produce corn for fuel.  We do it because it is good for the economies of states like Ohio.  But it’s bad for America.  Will Ohio admit that and do what is good for America?  How about what is good for the world?  An unanticipated consequence of using corn for fuel instead of food is the fact that nations on the other side of the world increase destruction of forests so they can produce the food that we are not. 

Producing ethanol (which is not profitable anyway) is causing rain forest to be lost. 


Think about that for a minute.  Producing ethanol is causing rainforest to be lost.


We have spent the last 2 decades driving inefficient vehicles because we felt the need for the status symbol.  There really is no other reason for most people to drive an SUV.  We waste what belongs to us and excuse it by saying “I paid for it” or “We don’t want to alter our comfort level”, all the time destroying the only world we have.  We are not only the only animal on the planet that creates trash, we are the only one messing our nest.


But there is hope.  In fact, all kinds of hope.   We are also the only animal who can reason out this problem and take action.  The question is, are we going to wait and see if Barack Obama will save us or are we going to do it ourselves?