Monthly Archives: January 2008

Pulling The Trigger

(I seem to be using gun metaphors quite a bit lately) Perhaps a more accurate title would have been “pressed the button.”

Yesterday, after a meeting in Springfield, I went to vote.  Yup, Edwards decision to drop out finally freed me to pick between two excellent candidates, instead of three.  In the end, I picked Barack Obama.  The deciding factor for me was his stint as a constitutional law professor.  I’m convinced that neither the economy nor the war on terra will matter much if we don’t protect ourselves from those that would seek to gain or keep power by invading our privacy.

I hung on to the hope that Edwards would somehow be able to continue his campaign, even though it was clear that he wasn’t going to be the nominee.  I wanted the issue of workers rights to continue to receive national attention.

The saddest day of my entire life as a U.S. citizen wasn’t 9/11, or JFK’s assassination, or the Oklahoma City bombing.  It was our Government’s criminal indifference to those people stranded in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.  No one besides John Edwards is talking about it.  I can tell  you that after a year of campaigning, I haven’t heard Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton say that their administrations would never again let that happen.

So, tonight I head to an Obama meeting, where presumably I’ll be told what I can do to help.

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Obama, Ezra Klein, and Me

Weird. I sat watching the SOTU last evening, (ALL evening, it felt like) and I made two observations to a friend of mine watching with me. One, the television coverage seemed well directed. Just at the moment POTUS brought forward a subject, there, on my screen, was a key player that subject concerned. Actually, it was quite nice. Then I remarked that it was a little unsettling to watch half of the chamber standing to applaud, while the other half stayed seated, looking, if not openly hostile, at least mildly irritated. It seems Obama had this on his mind as well.

Ezra Klein, once again, summed up the feeling I’ve had that has stopped me from going to vote already, as is my habit. I detest long lines, so I vote early, if not often. Ezra says “The Republicans are not just going to go away.” Damn skippy. Obama is selling this image of a great uniter, but, really, he hasn’t even unified his own Party. He still may, but that might be attributed to Democrats “falling in line” after the Primaries. So, my question is, what evidence to we have that he has this particular ability? Will we see Republican endorsements if he is our nominee?

I think the Convention is going to be a hoot, as they say ’round these parts. Thats probably a good thing, a public airing of our differences as Democrats is beneficial to voters.

So, today I remain firmly undecided. I’m thinking about attending an Obama meeting on Thursday, perhaps what I learn there will nudge me into the believer’s camp.

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Conspiracy, or Long Term Business Plan?

The title is a slightly paraphrased line from the movie, “Uncounted, The New Math of American Elections.

Last night, a group of us watched this movie together, and afterward we had a lively discussion about the voting process in this country. I’ll admit, I don’t really want to face the fact that it is not just possible, but quite probable that our vote, the most precious right we have as citizens, is susceptible to electronic fraud. I think many people, including journalists, are wary of being lumped into the lunatic fringe for even daring to suggest that a massive conspiracy to suppress, undercount, or even change our vote existed in 2000 and 2004. How demoralizing is it to think about how many fought and died to give the citizenry this power, only to see it stripped away with a few lines of computer code?  So, by and large, this possibility is seldom reported by the MSM.

All I can say is, go see the movie, decide for yourself. If you were arguing this case in a courtroom, you could credibly point to a preponderance of circumstantial evidence where more direct evidence may not exist.

The Belcourt Theatre will offer two shows on Monday, Feb 4th, at 6:30 and 9:00 pm, and there is Q&A with filmmaker David Earnhardt.

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Listening For Change

I woke up last night around 11:30 or so, and decided to stay up and watch some news. I can’t tell why I decided to tune to Hannity and Colmes (I thought I had an S-chip that prohibited it) but boy am I glad I did. They were interviewing Dr. Frank Luntz, who is arguably the smartest guy on the planet on the subject of polls, focus groups, and political language. Love him or hate him, (mostly, I’ve learned to fear him) he has had an enormous impact on modern politics. I Tivo-ed it, and found myself scribbling notes on this exchange:

Hannity: “is this change vs experience debate different in a Primary than in a General Election?”

Luntz: “Yes. Because the Democrat’s vision for change is very futuristic, it involves healthcare, and getting our troops out of Iraq. having less waste in Government. On the republican side, its about going back to Ronald Reagan, rather than forward.”

Hannity: To some extent I guess, Republicans brought alot of this on themselves, by abandoning some of their core principles, they haven’t built that fence, they have been spending more than they are taking in, and have been seen as Democrat-Lite for a long long time. Is there any indication at all that they have gotten the message, that they have to go back to their conservative roots? (emphasis mine)

Luntz: Bluntly? No. (This caught both me and Hannity off guard. I laughed so loud I scared the dog and woke up the kids, but I swear I rewound it several times to see that look on Hannity’s face)

Luntz goes on to explain that the Democrats have an advantage in the Fall, because Independents are shifting over to the Democratic party right now. which prompted this from our boy:

Hannity: “So, do Independents want their taxes up, do they want Retreat and Defeat™ in Iraq? Do they really want socialized medicine, and Govt-based healthcare?”

Luntz: “Well, what they want is accountability, but they aren’t getting it from the Republicans. “

Hannity: “Don’t they want specificity? Universal Healthcare might make a good bumper sticker, or be an effective slogan, but do they really think the Government is capable of providing it?”

**************The Money Shot*******************

Luntz: What they see, is that they are not capable of providing it. At the end of the week, they don’t have enough money for the things they need. They need help from the Government, and they see the Republicans as having a tin ear to them.

Powerful stuff, that. Dr. Luntz credits his success to his ability to listen to voters. If he is a partisan, most people will tell you he aligns himself with Republicans. But last night’s exchange between Hannity and Luntz was a perfect example of what I believe is a problem with politicians on both sides, though I would argue that it is epidemic on the Right side of the aisle. There he was, a man with the answers, a man with an impressive track record with respect to defining the voter’s mood, telling Hannity what he knows. Instead of listening, Hannity instinctively tried to spin the info into a partisan argument, and Luntz was having none of it.

I’ve been saying for quite some time that though the war was undoubtedly a factor that affected the Mid Terms, I believe it was the Republican response to Katrina that ultimately tipped the scales. This happened in our own backyard, and to people that clearly did not possess the means to help themselves, and the administration ate, sang, and shopped while New Orleans drowned. Even now, there is little evidence that compassion played any role at all in the administration’s late response, and I have yet to see a Republican candidate bring it up as an example of something we would never see from their White House. That doesn’t just strike me as tone deaf, it strikes me as completely deaf.

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Saturday

On Saturday, my friends and I will attend the funeral and do our best to honor her memory by truly enjoying life and all that comes with it.  I couldn’t think of much to say to my friend’s wife, except that.  I told her that she should spend the day near the people she loves, and doing whatever makes her happiest.  Eat ice cream.  Play video games with her kids.  Watch her favorite movie.  Whatever.  By then she will have had several days of wondering and crying and even blaming, all the things grieving people need to do.  But I can’t help thinking that once people have gathered to pay respects, and the obligatory words have all been uttered, it is time to celebrate the fact that we are alive, and healthy, and loved.  Everything else is icing on the cake.  The young lady we are mourning may have been better served to remember those things.

I was close to writing a very involved post about the details of this tragedy, and perhaps even segue to a rant about the unrealistic expectations young people have about marriage and relationships, and fairy tales we tell our daughters in particular.  But in the end I decided that right now, I’m too angry, and that will be clear in my writing.

Quite a few of you dropped me a note yesterday, and I wanted to acknowledge and thank you.

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Heartache

Last weekend, my best friend and his girlfriend were married.  The night before the ceremony, (which I assume is traditional) the rehearsal dinner took place.  I arrived at the church on time and was introduced to extended family and friends, and, after going through the steps several times, we all went to eat together.  I was seated next to the Bridesmaid.  She was young, 25, I think, and I found her to be pleasant and funny and completely happy to be taking part in this event for her best friend.  We talked a little, mostly (I thought) joking about the inevitable 7th yr itch that supposedly strikes all marriages.  (She and her husband were in year 7 of their marriage, though they had been dating for almost 9 years.)  Before the rest of us were finished with dinner, she packed a to go box to take to her husband.

The wedding came off perfectly, and the reception afterwards was fun. The bridesmaid sat at our table and seemed to enjoy the music and food.   Sometime after the toast, she hugged the bride and left with her husband.

Around 4:00 pm the next day, she placed a gun in her mouth and took her own life.

At 25 yrs old.

Perhaps in the coming days I will have something to say as to why this bright young girl made this decision.  For now, I think I will just make myself available for my friends should they need anything.  I’m a little numb.

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