Welcome back, me.

4 11 2009

I apologize for my long absence. Not that I ever had an abundance of regular readers, but for those of you now joining us, I’m just another left-wing, hippie, atheist, arm-chair-philosophizing, pseudointellectual blogger. Now that that’s out of the way, I’m just chiming in to say how disappointed I am with Virginia. After nearly a decade of strong, mindful, and beneficial democratic leadership from Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, you just switched gears and voted in this lunatic, McDonnell. Have you HEARD of his thoughts about homosexuality and the role of government in people’s personal lives?

Sure, this was an “academic paper” he wrote decades earlier, but tell me this, who in their right fucking mind would EVER make a statement that contraceptives should be banned for married couples? What. The. Fuck. Just bring on the babies, am I right??

Anyone who even fathoms such a thought as reasonable, intellectual, practical, OR ideal crosses the threshold from religious right to apeshit nutbag. I mean.. it just makes me crazy.

I don’t usually get this ranty on here, but… it just makes me crazy. That’s all I can say about that.
And Maine, what the fuck is wrong with you?

 

The pundits are saying this is a warning to Democrats at the least and a foreshadow of 2012 at worst. One year into a new regime and we’re calling two governors races a national referendum? Let’s tone down the doomsaying a little bit and focus on the here and the now. mmkay?





Disappointment Department

9 02 2009

So as it turns out, the stimulus is really just a premature appropriations bill that will be fully made up of deficit spending instead of being any other budget bill that is actually supposed to fall in line with the taxes we’ve raised. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in favor of a lot of the things being done in the “stimulus” bill, I just have issue with the fact it’s not going to stimulate anything. Sure, we can hire a few tens of thousands of trained and certified laborers for the construction and renovation projects. Hell, in a few years, it could stimulate technical schools and trade schools that train such construction workers, landscapers, electricians, plumbers, and so forth.  But as it is right now, the jobs being created are pretty trade specific, and won’t really be of much use to the thousands of m manufacturers, insurance agents, salespeople, retailers, restaurant owners, truck drivers, and so on who have recently lost jobs.

Our economy, our country, our infrastructure, and our workforce are not in a position to create easy jobs that will put people to work doing something useful. Sure, there was a time when churning up a ton of factories to produce tanks, guns, uniforms, and bullets worked. That sort of initiative, even if popular enough to start, would not be very effective. And to what ends? Do we need tanks or bullets? Even if we did, how many people would be employed compared to how many robots would be produced by other robots in robot making plants that might hire a few hundred more workers? See, there is no easy way to create jobs that people can do that would be of any use.

We could pay people sub-minimum wage to plant flowers and trees and clean up streets and other beautification projects, harkening back to China’s grim self destructive era. Millions dying of starvation aside, would this even be something unemployed bankers and car makers would do? Would you go from your 100K/year job as an investment manager to 4/hour to plant trees along the highway?

There really aren’t any quick nor easy ways out of this. In fact, there is no way out, but through. The only way we will recover is to lower our expectations of recovery. We were living in a bubble, and that level of prosperity is just simply not sustainable. We need to know that a recession of multiple years is ahead, and when we come out of it, we’ll be stronger, steadier, if a little poorer for it.

Think of this as a big reset button.





America’s Honeymoon With Barack Hussein Obama

20 01 2009

Oh, how sweet it is: the feeling of relief, victory, and joy that Barack Hussein Obama has been sworn in and is finishing his first day as President of the United States of America. Today was the big day, complete with a little bit of word fumbling over the vows, I mean, oath of office. It even concludes with an elegant dance. The media loves him; the steadfast Democrats love him; even the middle-ground, cynical, and typically uninterested in politics moderates love him.

And so we begin our honeymoon with the President. No, we still have to go to work and be unhappy about most of the same things we were unhappy about yesterday. The plus side is that this is a three month honeymoon. Yes, that blissful feeling as you start the next chapter in your life with your new President.

Then comes crunch time. This is when the shininess of your new President starts to fade, and with it go all the moderates who jumped on board. There will be a time, and it will come upon you sooner than you think, when the media will be more critical – and probably compensate for their Obama-love by being unfairly critical, and all your coworkers and friends who usually don’t care even a little bit about politics will shout angrily that their lives are still the same. Yes, lots of people have vastly exaggerated expectations of Barack Obama and what can be accomplished in just a few months.

It is unfortunate, but preventable. The first step is to take a step back and realize that Barack Hussein Obama, 44th President of the United States of America, is a man. He is also a politician. While I am very optimistic about the next four or even eight years, I also reserve a degree of skepticism and pragmatism. No, I am not a doubter, cynical, or pessimistic. I simply wish to remind you that even the most powerful man in the country, free world, or perhaps entire world is ultimately a man, and he is limited by the impositions of politics and the gravity of the issues of the day.

The second step, and this applies only to those who started caring about politics in the last two years and are over 20 years old. Ask yourself why you love politics. Is it because the last two years have been wildly exciting? If so, know now that things will be less exciting for a while. This doesn’t mean you cant still love politics, but just do so knowing what non-campaign season is like.

The third step to solidifying your loving relationship with your new President, and The Nation itself, is to contribute. It’s not a one sided deal. Long gone are the days when concerned or even mildly interested citizens wrote to their mayors, Congressmen, and Presidents. This can change. Write letters, voice your concerns, approvals, disapprovals, and words of appreciation when applicable. I certainly make no guarantee that you will get a response, or even have your letter read by the intended recipient. I do say that it will make you feel good about yourself and your place in the national community.

Step four, I suppose, is an extension of letter writing activism. Volunteer for community service. If you ever find yourself discontent for the shape your life is in, volunteering is a great way to not only put it in perspective and gain an appreciation for what you do have, but the sense of accomplishment will be worth more to you than any federal stimulus package – unless you just really, really need money. In which case, good luck to you. And hey, I’m not judging.

Step five: relax. America’s not going anywhere. For all the woes we have, just be patient and know better times are a-comin’. Every misstep that falters America’s stride has been viewed by those living those troubled days as perilous turmoil. You’re here, I’m here, we’re all here. We’ve made it this far. Know that whatever the troubles are now, it’s not over. It just takes time. Just be patient, do your part, flash a smile, be optimistic (but realistic), and enjoy the rest of your time with President Barack Obama. The honeymoon is sweet, sure, but the next four years are going to be fantastic.





Symphony Etiquette. Oh What Happened to You?

11 01 2009

I had the “pleasure” tonight of going out to the symphony to hear one of my favorite pieces of music. I’m sad to say, there were quite a few additional parts I wasn’t expecting nor apperciating. In order of most annoying to bearably annoying, here we go for tonight’s list.

Number one. If you have a stuffed up nose, blow it or breathe through your mouth. It’s not that hard to figure out especially when you’re WHISTLING THROUGH YOUR NOSE. To make it worse, if you very intentionally have to sharply inhale through your nose to clear it every few minutes, it should be even more obvious, and that makes you an even more annoying and inconsiderate ass.

Number two. If you need to cough, cough. But if you’re hacking up a lung, then leave for a few moments. Especially if you’re in an ASILE seat, miss aisle-sitting-lung-ejector-lady. You even had a bottle of water on which you loudly screwed and unscrewed the cap during the performance though drinking it apparently did nothing for your cough.

Number three. Don’t talk. That should be obvious.

Number four. Just because I don’t react when you abruptly scoot your fat elbow to the armrest doesn’t give you license to drape your coat halfway on my knee or slide said elbow off the armrest into my seat.





5 11 2008

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. 

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

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This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.





Vote, Even If It’s For the “Wrong Reasons”

23 10 2008

Ever heard someone say that stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to vote? Or say that people who don’t know the politicians shouldn’t vote? Or even something as simple as saying that someone or some people are voting for the wrong reasons? It’s actually been shown that people, if undecided, unaffiliated, and uninformed on the candidates, will simply vote for whoever looks better, or whomever’s name they recognize first if it’s a list?

On the other side, we’ve all heard it, if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain when things go wrong. It’s your civic duty to vote, and so forth. So where do people go who simply don’t know or don’t care or simply wish to straight ticket vote without regard to what their votes mean?

There are a number of people out there, I’ll call them “elitists,” not because they are, well, actually, yes, because tehy are. There are these “elitists” out there who think you shouldn’t vote, or even shouldn’t be allowed to vote if you are uninformed, indifferent, or a straight ticket voter. We all know the types: your neighbor who straight ticket votes every time and doesn’t follow politics, the people in some other town who vote because fear propaganda worked, your friend who got sucked into one candidate’s slogan and refuses to consider anything else, and all the rest. Should they really not be allowed to vote? The implication is that voting would exclusively be performed by those who are informed and deeply consider the issues, candidates, and policies. I suppose that would make campaigning easy: it would be a, I’m sad to say, small group to target. It would, however, for better or for worse, make the dream of hegemony come true.

Are elections not but the sum of all the influences on the electorate in the preceding months? So how can it be that some of those reasons are incorrect? There is a part of me, to be sure, that wishes some people wouldn’t vote. But that is entirely my selfish, biased partisanship, and nothing more. Everyone, everyone is entitled to vote for whatever reasons might move him or her. Every citizen is entitled to have his or her voice heard when crunch time rolls around no matter what motivates him or her to participate.

Think about it. A piece of every dollar you spend on gasoline goes to lobbyists who will serve their businesses interests in Washington, on Wall Street, and even in each American’s television set. A fraction of every medical bill you pay goes to groups that market drugs straight to the consumers on television. A bit of each purchase you make goes to at least one if not many interest groups that will attempt to influence your Congressperson. A sliver, or perhaps quite a bit more of your loan payments, whether it was a car, a credit card, or your tuition contributed to the push for deregulation that ended up crippling our economy. Not to belabor this but I have one more. Every time you watch television and see advertisements on FOX, or CNN, or MSNBC or whatever you watch, part of that goes to partisan and biased news reporting that will invoke fear and distrust and partisanship that will continually perpetuate itself.

So we are all responsible for why we vote the way we vote. Sure, some of us take the time to step outside our own visceral reactions and contemplate more. Some of us research the issues and maybe even change our minds. Some of us blog and attempt to reach out to others, often with our own partisan agenda. If you convinced someone to vote for your candidate of choice for the wrong reasons, would you still tell him/her not to vote? Maybe. But probably not. Why should it not be the same for the other side?

The right to vote is simply that. It’s everyone’s opportunity to push a button for whatever reasons they have. If inspired by brilliance or by fear, it’s nothing more than the net result of all the money we spend every blasted second on advertising, marketing, spinning, and campaigning. It’s the net product of all the minutes we spend talking politics around water coolers, canvassing door to door, and blogging politics.

Now, if you’re one of the “elitists,” I do apologize if this entry offended you. That was a bit of misplaced sarcasm, and really this would read just as well without it. Still, I feel like I should leave it in because this is one of those things that troubles me a great deal.





Something Positive in Politics!

11 10 2008

In this time of troubled economic stability and a worldwide panic, it has been hard for most Americans to think about much else. People’s investments, college funds, pensions, savings accounts, and more have taken deep hits. It’s also been shown that more people are confident about Senator Obama’s ability to stabilize the stock market and clean up wall street, and all the other political rhetoric they both use. As such, it has been pretty imparitive that the McCain camp either distract people from the economy to present his stronger qualities, or convince people other issues need more attention. Both pathways of attack have been used, and both have seen limited success.

I apologize in advance because this will be a dry statement of my opinions on this topic without much humor, wit, or sarcasm.

The Palin half of the ticket has been launching some pretty inappropriate attacks that have only been fueled further by FOX news. After calling Obama friends with domestic terrorists, she was called out on it, and only defended it by repeating it. Pretty pathetic, right? It is insulting that that’s how low of an opinion she has about our collective intelligence. But it worked on so many people it just amazes me. With the aid of FOX news, namely, Sean Hannity, it was the Ayers “scandal” was perpetuated and repeated and now some people believe that Obama must be buddy buddy best friends with him and other domestic terrorists who hate America and went to WAR with America.

Is this really how far we’ve come? We’re going to be as petty as we can and treat the highest office in the nation, and dare I say, world with this sort of immature contempt?

The effects of this spread fast. Friday, the 10th of October, a man at a McCain town hall style event got up and made a couple stupid coy jokes and said he was scared to bring his daughter up under an Obama presidency. I mean, seriously, is this best political discourse some people can come up with? Another woman later on just laid it out and said it. She said… that she’s a racist. Basically. Faulting Obama and his campaign for being an ARAB, McCain cut her off and defended Mr. Obama from the second distressingly ignorant insult-in-the-form-of-a-question of the day. People in the audience demanded McCain show no mercy, and when he said he would remain respectful, the assholes actually got pissed off. Are they supporting their candidate, or just reveling in the opportunity to hate and spout off whatever uneducated garbage comes to mind?

I have to say, despite the lower level of commitment to clean and fair campaigning for the last few months, McCain showed some true guts today. Getting booed at his own fucking rally, he defended his opponent and defended clean and respectful politics. I liked that. A lot. It doesn’t excuse him for not always playing fair, but at least he drew a clear line where he would venture no further into the dark slanderous campaign path. It certainly doesn’t make up for all the ridiculous stunts some of the more outspoken and hostile groups have pulled, in their own names though, not under Mr. Mccain’s banner.

So I say again, Good for you, Mr. McCain. It took some real character to take on your own booing audience for a good cause. You said you were commited to a clean campaign in the beginning, and that’s how it should remain. It speaks better of both parties when both commit to it, and it demonstrates America’s good grace and our values and virtues. It’s frankly, rather embarrassing to see smear tactics.