Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Schwartzeneger Plan and It's Implications

In California, Gov. Schwartzeneger is contemplating forcing state employees to take a de facto pay cut, by requiring them to take a certain amount of pay without leave. Laying off employees is also being considered. I understand that there are shortfalls, but I wonder how state employees of California feel about them taking the hit because others made bad economic decisions.

I'm sure this will also come to Utah. The past several years, with budget surpluses and a booming economy, our legislature has cut taxes, primarily to the well to do, but not entirely, also reducing the sales tax on food. When revenues are down, does the legislature restore the old tax structure, or do they decide to put the burden of the economic downturn upon Utah's public employees?

Let me get this out of the way first, and it is a perception I get from talking to so many conservative legislators over the years, that they consider public employees as inherently lazy, with bureaucracies that are top-heavy and inefficient, with plenty of fat that can be cut if they can be prodded through accross the board budget cuts.

I have spent some time around those in state government, and I can say unequivocably, that this perception is grossly exaggerated. My wife worked for the state for some time, and found herself overwhelmed with a caseload she couldn't possibly handle, and when there was a failure to meet all the impossible legislatively mandated requirements, that were inadequately funded, the blame never fell upon the legislature, but upon "those evil bureaucrats."

My wife works for the state, and so my position is biased. I'll admit that. But putting the full burden of budget shortfalls upon state employees, who are only trying to do their jobs the best they can seems short-sighted. Also consider, that state employees who are laid off, will take their accrued leave with them, creating a short-term cash-flow problem, increase the cost of their unemployment insurance, as well as further exacerbate our economic problems by increasing the unemployment rate and causing fewer people to be able to spend money to buy cars, houses, appliances, etc.

Utah legislators would be wise, to find solutions to their budget woes short of layoffs or reductions in the effective pay to their employees, many of whom have made sacrifices to remain in their jobs when better opportunities were available to them. Many came to believe strongly in the efficacy of the services they were providing and felt a considerable degree of job satisfaction in serving the public and making a difference in their lives.

Anyway, something to consider.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Change I'm Having Trouble Believing In

The Rick Warren inaugural invitation is a real slap at those who supported Obama as a principled yet pragmatic leader. Certainly, his willingness to put people in his cabinet who may have divergent opinions has showed that pragmatic side. However, inaugurations carry powerful symbols that can't be ignored. Rick Warren's lack of respect for homosexuals and non-believers should disqualify him from giving him such a forum.

So what is the change we were supposed to believe in? Was it merely competent government? Or was it a fundamental change in direction and change in the ways things are to be done. More than anything, will Obama use the bully-pulpit to speak out against intolerance? Or will he continue to give a forum to those who wish to use the apparatus of the state to harm those they demonize?

We'll all survive a prayer from this wingnut. Since there is no God, I'm pretty sure whatever Rick Warren says in his prayer will not be given any divine traction. But enabling intolerance isn't respecting a diversity of opinion. Some opinions aren't worthy of respect. Do I respect the way muslims treat women? No. Do I respect the way Mormons treated people of African descent for the majority of their history? No I don't. And I don't respect many of the viewpoints of Rick Warren and am troubled that this man will have a prominent seat at an inaugural that was supposed to represent a change in direction for our country.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Congrats to Secretary Rice

I come from a long line of renaissance men. My father was a politician and a musician. How impressive is it for our first black secretary of state, to perform classical music before a British Monarch? Pretty significant when you think about it. Condi Rice found herself in a very difficult situation, surrounded by a boatload of alpha males who were supremely sure of themselves such as Rumself, Cheney and Powell, and ultimately she outlived all of them in relevance.

I actually have a fair amount of respect for Condi Rice. Do I agree with all her decisions and whether she had the backbone to say "George, I don't think the evidence warrants our invasion." Yeah, Condi Rice has faults, as do most of us. But she also had the courage to "reset the assumptions" regarding American policies in Iraq and ultimately send Rumsfeld into historical malignancy.

Admittedly, Condi is a mixed bag, as are most of us mere mortals. But I was moved by how she was moved by Obama's election. Her performance before a foreign queen, displaying her skills not in diplompacy, but in the arts, speaks well for her. And I honor her in this post, by acknowledging that despite her checkered record, she can still uplift in the realm of the arts.

Nice job, Condi.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gratitude and Thanksgiving

Being ungrateful to those who have benefitted you is to me one of the greatest inujustices you can engage in as an individual. As an atheist, I don't atrtibute bad things, nor good things to this supernatural hand. But I do recognize that my life has been positively benefitted by many individuals. Gratitude for those individuals should not be a once a year thing, but since it is Thanksgiving (or atleast it was a half hour ago), I feel I should say something about those who have benefitted me during the year.

First of all, I am grateful to be employed. In our current economic environment, being unemployed does not sound like a place I want to be. I'm glad that my employers have looked at my job performance and found me worthy of further service and compensation.

Second, I deeply appreciate my family. I have three wonderful daughters and a wife who is educated and informed. Both my wife and myself have masters degrees and I am grateful for the standard it sets for my daughters. I value education and I wish my daughters to also value it.

Third, I appreciate my country, for rejecting the fear and supernaturalism of the Republican message espoused be John McCain. I also am grateful for the rational, evidence/competence based paradigm our future President espouses.

Fourth, I appreciate those who serve in our military, who have been put in a very difficult situation, fighting a war in mesopotamia that we never should have fought.

Fifth, I appreciate all those who have defended our country in the past. From my ancestor Samuel Boynton who fought the British at Lexington and Concord, to the 2nd Maine at Little Round Top, to the Marines who stormed Fallujah in the second battle for the city, I honor those who have fought and died for our country and express gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

Sixth, I also express gratitude for the many religiously devout members of my old ward who invested their time and energy to make me a better person. Though I have rejected their faith-based beliefs, I have never disavowed the scope of their positive influence upon my life.

Seventh, I express gratitude for the freedom I have to express my opinions, whether they are popular or not. And I appreciate all those who have challenged what I have written for it has made me think better. One of the great diffences between the religious paradigm and the scientific one, is that challenging the status quo in one realm is heresy, while in the other realm, it is an essential part of the dynamic.

Eighth, I appreciate the fact that I am so spoiled with physical comforts and time to think, that I am granted the ability to pontificate upon the ideas that I hold dear.

Ninth, I appreciate that I still have a mind to engage in worthwhile dialogue. My mother died far too early from the effects of alzheimers. It yet still may get me, depending on how the genes and environment things work out. But given her fate, I value every year where I am capable of meaningful dialogue.

Tenth- I value everything I've learned that makes my life interesting and meaningful. Whether it is geologic information that makes rock formations come to life, or biological insights that unite me as a member of a great and diverse family of animals, plants, microbes and other organisms, I appreciate all I've been able to learn and how it has given me perspective.

And to those who occasionally read my blog, I am thankful for you. Your insights and wisdom have been invaluable, even when you have been wrong.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dealing With Bush's Misdeeds

One of my basic concerns, is that the Obama adminstration will engage this subject through the prism of political pragmatism, rather than a sincere belief in the rule of law. The Bush administration has thumbed it's nose at some of the most basic American principles regarding torture, habeas corpus, wiretaps, you name it. Also, this President and his henchmen have solicited legal opinions from their legal counsel from both within their administration as well as the supposedly objective Justice Department that have eviscerated our nation's most basic freedoms.

Personally, I believe David Addington is a man so worthless that he should be spending his golden years cleaning trash along the stretch between Wendover and Lakepoint. John Yoo should be stripped of any licensure with the Bar and should spend the rest of his days making license plates somewhere appropriate. These men prostituted themselves to the worst abuses of executive power and they did so willingly. These men in their own ways are war criminals for their justification for acts that our founders would have shuddered from. These guys are the tip of the iceberg. (Suggested reading, "The Dark Side" by Jane Mayer)

We as a country have lost so much standing to the rest of the world, that it is essential that those responsible, including the decider, moron in cheif, be held accountable for their unlawful acts. To do otherwise is to say that the enforcement of our laws is dependent upon who breaks them. It says that the ideals we have tried to import don't apply to those who would import them. It leaves us with no moral authority in the world.

On the basis of the precedents set by the Nuremberg trials, George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and his legal counsels, including Alberto Gonzalez, David Addington, and John Yoo are in fact war criminals. Will the world consider us hypocrites if we don't treat them as such? I think they should. They may be satisfied with the fact that we've changed course, but ultimately, our message to the world should be that "no one is above the law", not even the President. When a President picks and chooses which laws he will enforce, and subjugates those laws to his own perogative, George W. Bush is not only an incompetent President, but a criminal who abused the power of his position to subvert the law and redefine it in his own terms. And his doing this has created a great constitutional challenge to to our laws. Can the President do this with impugnity?

Admittedly, I have total disregard for George W. Bush. I think he offered the greatest challenge to constitutional government our nation has faced. Any Senate and Congress that understood their role within our constitutional framework would have impeached him and sent a clear message that ultimately, we are governed by laws, not people.

But now, the question is, whether we just move on and consider the Bush experience as an abberation to be buried, or a precedent to be undone through the legitimate legal framework our founders envisioned. As an attorney, I sincerely hope that Barack Obama understands the depth and breadth of what is at stake, and prosecutes those who violated our laws. If he fails to do so, on what basis do we imprison petty thiefs who break into our cars to feed their families, while those who deliberately urinate on our constitution go scott free willingly accepting fellowships at the "American Enterprise Institution."

This may sound strident and shrill to certain ears, but when you get pulled over and ticketed on a technicality, don't cry to me. The laws that apply to you, are only for you and me, not those who work in behalf of the highest levels of the executive branch.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Red/Blue Schizofrenia

Ok, I live in a red state but vote decidedly blue. I graduated from a red school and wear red atheistically and would never be caught wearing a blue shirt unless it was a dress shirt or pants. So I wrote this poem in hopes everyone will know where I stand.

The Red and the Blue

I vote for blue and root for red,
I’m sure I will until I’m dead,
A moderate liberal is my creed,
A Utah Man it’s red I bleed,

I take on those who offer myths,
I think of cougar fans as stiffs,
No honor code I drink merlot,
Just like some cougar fans I know,

I hang with people zoobies scorn,
Like liberals, gays and lowly born,
Admit I must I still break bread,
With those in blue instead of red,

My mother, brother, sister too,
Attended school, that school of blue,
And even some have voted red,
Didn’t they hear a word I’ve said?,

And love them still though pity most,
These folk I love amidst such a host,
Long-suffering often's been my fate,
Voting blue in this red state,

But lift my chin cause who’d a guessed,
An Obama win and the BCS,
Have made it spring in this dreary fall,
Destroying the Y- THAT SAYS IT ALL

Congratulations Utes and Obama
You’ve made my year

Utah 48 BYU 24
Obama 365 McCain 173

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Reagan Paradigm Shattered to Pieces

"Government isn't the solution, government is the problem." That was the message Ronald Reaqan gave us, and his followers for three decades have pushed de-regulation and allowing as much freedom as possible in the private sector. And the results? Like an intersection without stop signs or stop lights, we've found ourselves with our critical intersections full of crushed cars, frantic paramedics and economic gridlock resulting from this series of disasters.

And where do the incompetent business people, who for years have decried government intervention into their realm, look for help? The government! OUR GOVERNMENT! Financial institutions make decisions that assume one possible scenario where they can be profitable. When that scenario doesn't pan out, is it the government's responsibility to bail them out? I am on the record as saying no. The candidate I supported, along with his opponent acquiesced and said it was ok to bail them out because the scope of the influence of these incompetents was too sevier to let them go down in flames. I'm swallowing my basic instincts and saying ok, I don't want my opposition to be responsible for our economy go from severely bad, to catastrophic.

Now, enter the people whose incompetence makes AIG executives look like Nobel Laureates. AUTO INDUSTRY EXECS. These first class, high paid, corrupt, incomparably incompetent dufuses now want the government to bail them out because they were dumber than a screen door in a submarine. That evil government, that has prodded the unwilling to save lives with seatbelts, airbags and some basic concerns for fuel efficiency, are now going to be asked to bail them out because government was right about what they should have provided, and because they didn't provide it, they are now bordering and chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Reagan where is thy wisdom, when government is more inspired than the private sector? Why is it that your favored class now comes to those evil bureaucrats seeking favors without condition? Should we impose true market conditions upon you? Or will you just blame the UAW for your faults? Oh yeah, their the guys. For the record, let's compare your salaries/benefits/stock options to those execs who work for Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, etc. Let's truly examine where the disparity exists.

My father, as a patriotic American made a good faith effort through the eighties and nineties to buy American. However, he got really tired of having to buy new transmissions every other year, or have to have fuel pumps fail every 18 months. Getting stranded in Montana in January finally sealed the deal. He's been driving Toyotas ever since.

What sealed the deal for me was when my mother called me at her work because she couldn't figure out how to change a flat tire on her Chevy Suburban. The jack they had assigned to her vehicle would only fit under her vehicle when the tires where inflated. So I took my Toyota Celica jack and raised the suburban high enough to get the suburban jack underneath the vehicle enough so I could change her tire. The carelessness and incompetence of GM made an unmistakable impact upon me regarding the thinking of those who worked in Detroit. Do I want to bail out these idiots? Not until they can demonstrate to me that they deserve to be bailed out. Nothing I have read from Consumer Reports has indicated that they deserve our consideration.

The failures of the auto industry and the financial industry are complex with multiple variables. But government was not the major factor in their failures. Unmitigated capitalism was the failure. This isn't about ideology, but a manifesto for economic realism. The failures of corporate governance as well as government oversight are well documented. But the answer is not to further remove governmental controls, but to make them more rational and meaningful.

The paradigm that set my generation upon a negative view of government accentuated by Reagan, was fatally flawed. Reagan was no prophet in fact he was a false prophet. He was a radical ideologue who had no real understanding of economics. Where we are now, is a repudiation of his shattered legacy. When a liberal like me is a lone individual concerned about government taking equity interests in financial institutions, I can only conclude that conservatism is philosophically incoherent, inconsistent, and ultimately irrelevant.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on Bi-Partisanship

Admittedly, I have mixed emotions on Barack Obama's tendency to invite Repubblicans into his administration, looking for the best and brightest, emulating both Kennedy and Lincoln in certain aspects of his proposed administration.

It is true, that we want people who are qualified for their jobs who have the expertise necessary to succeed in the objectives that I hope President Obama clearly articulates to his cabinet. Admittedly, many people who worked within both the Bush and Clinton administrations found themselves under different regimes with different guidance. I can relate to that. I also spent my time working in government, and was required to take, and defend actions, that I did not necessarily agree with. That comes with government service. I am hopeful that those who serve President Obama, regardless what misteps they may have been required to defend in the Bush Administration see the light and take a new, and more moral course regarding rights under our constititution.

Chief among these is John Brennan, someone whom I perceive is well-meaning and highly intelligent, who has defended some of Bush's worst offenses. He is now Obama's primary intelligence source. Is this man flawless? Absolutely not. Check out Glenn Greenwald's expose on him at

The question is, is can those who supported the worst of Bush use their experience and skills to acheive Obama's goals and objectives and turn away from the practices of what I would consider to be the worst administration in American history.

Also, consider the possibility of keeping on for a time, Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Admittedly, I endorsed his taking over DOD from Rumsfeld. I have always viewed Gates as a pragmatist and a realist. I am not peacenik, and have always rendered my scorn at Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld for their lack of realism. Pursuing American interests is not the same as unilaterally pissing off our allies to make a statement. Bush and his cadre were hotheads, morons and nincompoops. They misused our military, but having made commitments in Iraq and Afganistan, I was willing to give administrators a certain degree of latitude so long as they gave me evidence they were worthy of that latitude.

I know I sound like I am rambling. There is a part of me that wants to clean house. However, there is a part of me that understands that our President needs fulfill his role as a uniter. Obama has a unique mandate to bring disparate views to government and make decisions based upon serious dialogue rather than strict adherence to an incoherent and inconsistent ideology that was espoused by the neocons.

I'm willing to give Obama a couple of years to see what he will do with his administration. I actually am encouraged that he is willing to put people with disparate opinions in that adminstration of his. So long as he articulates to subordinates that once the decision has been made, they must support and implement those decisions, I'm willing to give him enough rope to either pull us out of the shithole Bush has placed us in, or wrap it around our necks.

But, unlike most Republicans, if I perceive our necks are being constricted, I will speak out. I'm giving a degree of perogative, not a blank check. Most Republicans gave Bush a blank check for essentially six years, with disastorous consequences for our Republic. The Democrats that I believe in believe that government can be effective, if it is rational, transparent, and open to new ideas. Reagan was wrong when he declared that "government is the problem." "Bad government is the problem." Republicans have proven the latter dictum. Bush's incompetent administration of government doesn't mean that government is inherently ineffective, only that government dominated by those who disdain government action usually make governmental actiion in our behalf worthy of disdain.

****Corrected per a good suggestion from David Miller

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Thoughts

Every Veteran's Day, I make it a point at some point to watch "Saving Private Ryan." For some reason to me, the end of the movie, with an elderly James Francis Ryan looking over the grave of Captain Miller, who died trying to preserve Private Ryan's is very moving, as is Captain Miller's last words to Private Ryan, "earn this."

There seems some universality to this message that is hard to lose sight of, and that is that Private Ryan represents all of us Americans. We should seek to earn what our brave soldiers have provided for us by being the best citizens possible. What entails being a good citizen? I suppose alot of things. One thing I don't believe being a good citizen, is being a rubber stamp for any ideology or party. I believe the least we can do, despite our busy schedules is to take seriously our role as the "deciders" when it comes to elections. It means, we have no excuse not to know who our elected officials are and what they are doing. Is it easy? Heck no. But it is a heck of alot easier than dislodging the Wehrmacht's 352nd Division from their stout defences on Omaha beach.

Part of being a good citizen is understanding basic civics and American history. I think a real appreciation for our country, warts and all, comes from understanding where we have been, what mistakes we have made, and what progress we have made correcting those mistakes. When we say we are proud to be an American, there should be some tangible, authentic reason for that pride, not base tribal and national identity like we are just as likely to have to our alma mater's football team.

Part of being a good citizen also entails having the tolerance to find good in imperfect Americans, but the courage to challenge imperfect ideas that may have wide followings among Americans. Courage also applies to a willingness on our part to discard our own ideas when careful scrutiny shows their fatal flaws.

Being a good citizen also entails a sincere attempt at being law abiding. I'm not implying that anyone who has broken the law, from jaywalking through more serious offences cannot be a good citizen. All of us our flawed, but a desire to be law abiding, being honest with our taxes, and helpful to our fellow Americans is something we all should aspire to do.

Now, let me touch the sensitive subject of military service. Admittedly, I come from a long line of civilians, my grandfather barely missing out on World War I, my father barely missing Korea, and I being too young for Vietnam. I have to go back to the American Revolution where my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather Samuel Boynton fought the British to find a direct ancestor. (Of interest, an even farther back ancestor, Edmund Beaufort, was blamed for the loss of the hundred years war in the 1400's). But I've toyed with the idea of some sort of mandatory military or civilian service. One reason for this, has been a propensity of individuals with no personal stake in a war, seeming to promulgate such wars. Most of my close relatives openly supported the Iraq war, but their sons and daughters served LDS missions, not our overstretched military. I like President Obama's idea of providing education assistance for public service.

A few years ago, while visiting the Gettysburgh battlefield, I remember looking down from Little Round Top to the Devil's Den (See picture at top of this blog) and was moved at what transpired there. General Sickles blundered by sending his Corp into a vulnerable salient, that ultimately, and accidentally saved the day on Gettysburgh's second day of battle. The bloody fighting in that salient gave just enough time for other troops to arrive at the spot I was standing upon at Little Round Top and prevent the Confederates from turning the Union left flank. After the battle, Sickle's old Corp., was so battered and weakened, it had to be merged with another corp. The troops in Sickle's corp didn't ask to go into that vulnerable salient and ultimately lose the bulk of their comrades in arms. But they did their duty. Some times we disagree with the decisions made as far as whether to go into battle, or whether the battle should have been fought the way it was. But in the end, we should never lose sight of the sacrifices of the men and women who did their best, regardless of the circumstances.

To the Veterans out there, I salute you all and say thank you. For those who have lost loved ones serving our country, a thank you sounds inadequate. What I can offer you and the loved ones you lost, is my most sincere attempts at being a good citizen who has earned their sacrifice. I may never get there because your loss is too heavy and my own faults too many. But in the end, that is all any of us non-Veteran citizens have to offer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rachel Maddow, One Formidable Talking Head

After watching nearly a decade where the talking heads that dominated our news were people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter, along came the liberal answer. Rachel Maddow and Keith Obermann represent formidable answers to the neocon talking points. And their ratings have consistengly increased relative to the Fox News propagandists. Now admittedly, you could argue that Maddow and Olbermann are mere propagandists. However, I find it interesting that both welcome conservative viewpoints. Rachel Maddow's relationship with Pat Buchanon is particularly interesting. But you have to admit, openning up your dialogue to the man who talked openly about the cultural war our nation faced is quite compelling.

Admittedly, I like both of them, but maybe it is because they reinforce things I have been thinking for years. But Maddow in particular seems especially formidable. The "bull shit detection kit" advocated by the venerable Carl Sagan seems to be firmly within her arsenal. And though she uses satire and a touch of sarcasm to make her point, the point is well-spoken and hard to argue with.

There was a day in this country, when liberal voices were muted and isolated. That day is past. The Comedy Central team of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, added to the formidable two-some of Olbermann and Maddow on MSNBC makes a liberal viewpoint available to the general public. And if their viewpoints are questionable, go ahead and question. They seem open to the challenge. Do you really think Hannity's and Limbaugh's screeners will allow a liberal viewpoint past them?

I think not.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Nightmare is Over and I See A Vision of Hope

I woke up today with a fright. Somehow, McCain would win, and this election would represent American retrenchment and pessimism. But ultimately, our nation opted for hope, and a sense we still can as a country right the ship. And as I write this, with tears in my eyes that I am incapable of suppressing, I think, what a message we as a nation we sent to the people of the world, that we truly are a United States of America. That a bi-racial fellow with African DNA coursing through his bloodstream, should ascend to the highest office in a nation that once enslaved someone with his level of melanin, shows just how far we have come as a country.

This is a great moment in American history, one that historians 100 years from now will reference with great import. We have been witnesses to this historic moment. We are fortunate to be here at this time, where the greatness of our ideologies aligned with the with our nation's realities. To see white men, white women and minorities all give a plurality to Obama. This is monumental, and though Utah voted for McCain, I stand proud of my two Obama bumperstickers, and the middle fingers I've endured.

One thing I'd like to say about John McCain. The gracious statesman that was John McCain reappeared tonight in his concession speech. The call for unity and support showed McCain as he is, not as what his political consultants wanted him to be. The Rovian disunity campaign showed the ugly underbelly of neocon malice, but it undermined McCain and he stands as a tragic figure, embracing those who destroyed him, to gain the power that eluded him before. I hope McCain will regain his bearings and continue to contribute to our body politic in meaningful ways.

As the dark clouds of our recent cold front descended upon our valleys, I recalled vividly the dark clouds of the paat eight years. I nervously watched the results come in, but in the end, with tears in my eyes, I feel a sense of hope, optimism, and pride in our great nation.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Cross-roads Defining Who We Are

This election truly is a cross-roads. Americans seem to sense it, and I believe that the number of people who vote will be off the charts from what we saw in 2004. One candidate speaks of hope, and opportunity. One candidate talks about fear and guilt by association. One candidate seems to be able to articulate specifics, one rhetoric atleast two decades old. One candidate calls upon Americans to stand up, one calls upon us to retrench to failed philosophies that have led us into the abyss we are in.

I wrote a personal essay after the 1994 election, where I stated, "America hungers for a positive voice, a hopeful voice, and we somehow failed to give it in 94, but what is troubling, is the extent to which Republicans won on such a negative voice." That negative voice dominated our discourse for over a decade, and even created it's own propaganda ministry to further it. It took prolonged warfare, economic collapse, and a new type of Democratic leader to awaken Americans out of the dark, regressive slumber of conservatism.

Barack Obama tries to let conservatives off the hook by going after Bush and his neocon chronies, but never attacking Republicans as a group. I understand the wisdom of doing that if you are to govern effectively as President. But as someone who will not be governing, I'm willing to throw a few grenades into the Republican mindset, and emphatically state, that the problems we have today were your making, not mine. I keep hearing Republicans talk about the need for accountability and personal responsibility, but it was you who gave this incompetent President a blank check, not me. I doubted the wisdom of the Bush doctrine of attacking a country on the basis of what they might do to us in the future. You did not. When I expressed those concerns, my patriotism was questioned by many of you. My love of country was dependent upon slavish agreement with bad policies that you supported blindly.

Ok, enough of my rant. This election will tell us whether we as a nation look forward to address our challenges or look backward to scapegoats. Barack Obama to his credit looks for solutions and keeps an open mind. Myself, I'm still coming around because I see plenty of scapegoats and many of them are my neighbors and people I care about. I'm trying to look forward, but am haunted by failures of policies that I spoke against for the last eight years. Like John McCain, I see scapegoats and am struggling to move beyond them. But it is a different set of scapegoats. I see the Republican party as the scapegoat, and he sees immaterial people who have been effectively out of power as the scapegoat. One of us lives in the real world, and one does not. John McCain is living in a dream world and should not be trusted with the mantle of Presidency of our Republic.

Ok, I feel much better.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Speaking Unity vrs. Fearmongering

Perhaps the most telling part of the campaign for President this year is the contrast between Obama's emphasis for hope, and the McCain campaign's continuing Bush Doctrine 2.5 of demonizing the enemy. Attacking what a candidate says is really fair game. And that isn't necessarily preying on people's fears. However, when you try to raise questions about someone's love of our country, their patriotism, their past associations, question their devotion to their religion, their family, or any other related item, it shows that a candidate has no ideas, only complaints.

Our country is at a cross-roads. The precipitous decline of our Republic under a Republican President is traumatic for all Americans. After the events of 9/11, most of us Americans, including Democrats put our country first and our party affiliation second. And we paid a price by allowing an out of control executive to seize powers and set precedents that were unhealthy for our Republic. And rather than unite us, this President took us to war against a country that hadn't attacked us, under false pretenses. And when people questioned this dangerous precedent, they were labelled as unpatriotic and smeared by the best propaganda network money can buy.

It isn't any wonder, that when these tactics are used now, they only seem to resonate with those who are innately fearful themselves. FDR, when our nation faced even more dangerous crises reassured the country by saying, "there is nothing to fear but fear itself." Obama takes a similar stand, that hope, combined with carefully crafted policies can turn things around.

We as a nation, can descend into despond, and we can find plenty of demons to be fearful of. We can find scapegoats galore, both internal and external that we can blame our decline upon. Fear can drive us to retrench from our role as a force of optimism and ideas in this ever changing world. But we can also decide, that we are not done yet. The promise our founders gave us, is but a shadow of what we can be in the next hundred years as a force for good in our world. Part of taking that role, is to admit our miscues, and to rebuild bridges and trust with other nations and their citizens. Obama is the only one who can do that who currently has a chance of winning.

And to us Democrats, should Obama win, let's vow to never give him the blank check Republicans and some Democrats gave his predecessor. Let's ensure that he conducts his government competently and with the transparency and oversight any effective government must have to succeed. Our role as citizens doesn't end after November 4. Our contribution to this Republic must be constant and vigilant. So whoever wins, you can be sure I won't be silent. Even being called unpatriotic didn't shut me up before. And it won't work any time soon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Message to Barack Obama

It's time to end the Bush ads. The only people who have not seen those adds are living on an island and don't vote. In a previous post, I argued that now was the time to go positive. I still believe that. The only risk Obama has of losing is that he doesn't adequately convey the reasons people should vote for him, not against McCain.

Obama has run a great campaign, and McCain has been inept on many levels. But if Obama doesn't finish strong, he could still lose this race. A strong finish is about reasons to vote for Obama, and not against McCain.

Again, let me say this as emphatically as I can. DUMP THE EFFING BUSH ADS!!!! They served their purpose, but now the American people need a reason to vote for change, not against Bush. Obama can seal the deal with the right message at the right time. Now is that time. There are multiple messages that can be conveyed positively. One of those is the ability to embrace and inspire conservatives to support him. Run with this asset. Declaw those who will swipe at you this last week.

Obama's politicos have pushed the Bush ad four days too long. Now is the time to send a message of unity and leadership through carefully and professionally crafted commercials. Get your act together Obama campaign, and our Republic has a fighting chance.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Nation Needs Leadership, Not Ideology

But let me condition this phrase. Hitler showed leadership as did Mussolini in addressing the problems their countries were faced with. But I don't sense Obama in the same light. He asks reasonable questions and proposes reasonable solutions. He doesn't seek scapegoats, but is willing to look for solutions.

Our nation seems to crave reason after blindly following dogma for eight years. Obama is smart enough to understand that though we made a mistake by invading Iraq, we must somehow make our exit of Iraq within our national interest. He understands, that our real problem is Al Qaeda and it's resurgence in Afganistan and the unruly parts of Pakistan. He's examined the situation, not on the basis of liberal or conservative ideology, but on the basis of American national interest.

Now, admittedly, I am the rare liberal who agreed with the idea of the surge. I never thougth the "light footprint" idea of Rumseld/Casey would work. I disagreed with the invasion of Iraq, but my biggest complaint was the inept adminstration of reconstruction in Iraq. De-baathification and the dissolution of the Iraqi army were critically bad decisions that seemed to be made by subordinates of the President, not by the President himself, which shows you just how passive and weak the President was in determining the most important policies of his adminstration.

George W. Bush wasn't a decider, he was a tragically inept third party to others who controlled his administration. George W. Bush substituted the perception for control for the absence of control. That kind of institutional incoherency seems to be the antithesis of what Barack Obama is all about.

John McCain is a noble American who means well but has surrendered his morals for political pragmatism, only to find that what he thought was pragmatic, was merely dogmatic. He is a tragic figure, one whom I used to respect, and now pity more than despise. Obama has been the unflappable leader while McCain has showed himself as an erratic politician. I mourn the loss of the 2000 McCain. Our nation desperately needed him. But McCain out of what he considered political pragmatism supported that which in his heart caused him grief. And now, he looks into the abyss of his surrender of principle and common sense and tries to convince us it never happened.

McCain could have shown us leadership and wisdom, but he decided upon a safer course, but one that was disastorous to our national intersts. The cool and collected Sen. Obama will likely win the Presidency simply because he appears like a leader. And leadership is what our nation needs.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Limits of Guilt By Association

I've served on my share of boards and commitees that have sought to acheive a positive end in our society. Ultimately, I admit, that my concern is the cause I'm enlisted in, not the background of the individuals I serve with. I'm not going to do BCI check on everyone I serve with. If I hear rumors that someone on the committee had previously done something questionable, particularly decades ago, I'm certainly willing to measure the value of the cause with my association of some cohort who had made some bad decisions decades ago.

The attack against Barack Obama regarding William Ayers is so ridiculous, I sit here puzzled. It's like George Bush's declaration to George Tenet regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, "is that all you got?" Though various associations, I have worked with and even been related to people who are listed as sexual predators. Did I approve of their actions? No I did not. But I was associated with them, and I still value my relationship with them.

I don't limit my associations to perfect people. If I did, I know I'd be hanging with liars. The Bill Ayers thing really disturbs me because we associate with people all the time, some we know have a shaky past, some we don't, but most of us, are willing to overlook past mistakes, and admittedly I fit that mold. The attacks against Barack Obama regarding Bill Ayers and ACORN seem to be born by desperation, rather than by principle.

Many of us liberals want to focus on the relationship of the Palin family to the secessionist Alaskan party. Most of that deals with a desire for fair play. But you know, I've got friends and relatives who don't see it, who are blatant racists. I try to influence them the best I can, but I care for them never the less. Guilt by association has become far too commonplace in our political dialogue, and neither party is innocent, but the Republican party is particularly guilty of this nefarious sin.

Let's listen to what politicians list as their priorities, and whether they jive with ours. If after they are elected and they lose sight of those objectives, let's call them on it. But this guilt by association thing has got to stop if we are to value each other as Americans, warts and all. Demonizing people we disagree with drags us down to their level. I feel a deep profound disappointment in the McCain campaign in their guilt by association tactics. I sincerely wonder how anyone who values our constitution can then go vote for John McCain who has expressed such a willingness to disrespect it.

Barack Obama- The Manchurian Candidate

Ok, let me digest this. Barack Obama is being endorsed by Colin Powell, Scott McClellan, the entire Goldwater family, the former Republican Governor of Massachusetts who endorsed Flip Romney, Christopher Buckley, etal. Alright, let it go from stomach, to intestines and colon and wonder, "what in the hell is going on here?" Is it possible, that Obama was a neocon plant, who just happened to be black, and talked liberal talking points? Did the neocon faction find someone who would do their bidding while talking about such silly notions as "middle class tax relief?"

I'm confused and as Nancy Workman would say, "discombobulated." I hate to admit that because I know the readers of my blog expect certainty. But hey, I am uncertain. People who have so graciously forwarded conservative motives now seem to have regrets and wish to make amends. Is this real? IRL, I was demonized for opposing the stuff that conservatives are now disavowing. Do I now have fellow demons to cohort with?

Dudes, I am confused. I don't know what Republicans stand for any more, so I don't know how to oppose them. I know that the base, that John McCain and his running mate have appealed to, are as deluded as Jewish Nazis, but damn, how could someone anticipate the neocon movement to dissipate into irrelavance as fast as the "boxers" or the "order of the garter?" Yeah, I'm discombobulated. I will trust to fate, that the American people will realize, that what they voted for in 2000, 2002, and 2004 served them about as well joining the bottom end of some delusional multi-level marketing scheme. I hope, they are wise enough to know "they've been had." But I doubt it here in Utah. Most Utahns seem to relish their subservience to malice. However, they usually misinterpret "that malice". But I could be wrong.

But anyway, I'll plug away, in my usual role as the tilter of windmills who ultimately get shreddedby the blade.

Friday, October 24, 2008

So McCain Now Disavows George W. Bush

So now I've read that McCain is critical of the lame duck President. His deficits, signing statements, warrantless eavesdropping, etc. WHERE HAS HE BEEN FOR THE LAST SEVEN YEARS!!!! Did it take him looking into the abyss of electoral defeat before he saw what so many of us have worried about for years? Who is John McCain? I mean really? And I thought Flip Romney, the conservative former liberal Governor of Massachusetts was perplexing.

If the Republican party base wanted change, they would have picked someone like Ron Paul. But in the primary, without mentioning George W. Bush, all the candidates (except Paul) all parroted his policies and foreign policy outlook. It seemed to them, that all was needed was better marketing. Mitt, with his flawless hair and corporate demeanor could repackage the failed Bush policies? Right? Well it didn't happen. Huckaby, with his evangelical views and a slight bit of folksy populism, could repackage 80% of the Bush agenda, right? Naw, didn't happen.

So McCain, trying to out-conservative his conservative rivals became the defacto spokesperson for the neocon world view. Well, when that worldview shows it's weak, and disgusting head and the implications of what has transpired the past nearly eight years, what is McCain to think? "Maybe I should have spoke up?" Hey, I hold alot of Democrats guilty for their failure to do so as well. But McCain is in a special place. He proudly supported George W. Bush, after some reservations about his tax cuts (probably while his feelings were still hurt because of being Roved over in 2000).

But I have to be honest, that I never thought it would get to this, that a so-called Maverik would declaw himself, and then want to regrow them for the last two weeks before the election. The claws are gone, and your credibility is in shambles. You've picked an undereducated, under-qualified running mate who has done nothing but bring out the worst, in your already mentally ahakey base. I don't know what to think about John McCain at this point. In 2000, I was an admirer of him. In 2008, I vascillate between pity and scorn. He is almost like a Shakespearean tragic figure like a McBeth or King Lear.

Truly perplexing time we are living in. Atleast Greenspan apologized. When will George W. Bush and John McCain?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Time To Go Positive

In the rough and tumble world of politics, alot of groundwork is taken by candidates to undermine the other candidate and to create a sense of fear about supporting them. I have watched too many politicos who seem oblivious to the idea, that in the last two weeks, people want to believe in a candidate, not just disbelieve in one. It is a matter of timing, and Democratic politicos (consultants) tend to misread voters and take desperate acts when they should be focusing on the positive.

A classic case of this was Wayne Owen's campaign in 1992. The political consultants that surrounded him wanted him to go after Robert Bennett and try to tie him to watergate. These well-paid, yet incompetent nincompoops turned a small margin for Bennett into a solid victory for a bald-headed do nothing Senator. I still after a decade and a half feel a certain disdain for the politicos who so badly misplayed their hand.

My opinion, not as a political consultant, but a person involved in politics for a long time, says that now is the time for Barack Obama to turn positive. It is time for him to focus less on McCain and on the vision he hopes to lead this country. It has been a rough and tumble campaign, with alot of divisive discontent among Americans. Now is the time for a leader to emerge, to try to unify our country as best they can. Someone to recognize the basic goodness of most Americans.

Now is the time to inspire hope by Obama, and not fear in McCain and Palin. It is time for those who wish to govern, to establish their bona fides by acting like a leader now. Americans are desperately hungry for this. Turn off all commercials that could be construed as negative and that even mention McCain and Palin. To Obama, talk about your vision, your goals and your commitment to the rule of law, to economic fairness and to a desire to strengthen our country and regain the moral high ground that has been surrendered by eight years of George W. Bush.

This election, should no longer be about John McCain. Don't mention him. It is time for Barack Obama to show himself as the leader who will enter office with confidence, competence and a clear set of goals and objectives. Americans are starving for such a vision. In the environment of such a projection, any attacks on Rev. Wright will fall on deaf ears. Americans are desperate for a unifying leader, not more scapegoats for our failings as a nation and culture.

My message to Obama- LEAD!!!! Our nation desperately needs leadership and vision. It has lacked it for eight long years and now is the time to show McCain as a divider, not a uniter. But it is time for Obama to speak to his vision, not against McCains. It is time to reassure us about an Obama administration, not scare us about a McCain/Palin administration. Now is the time to wear the mantle of the position you hope to hold, not worry about your opponent.

Admittedly, Obama's politicos may or may not follow what I have to say, but I am confident from the many political wars I've fought in the past, that the advice is sound.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts On Powell and Zakaria

The two most prominent opinion leaders to come out and endorse a presidential candidate are of course, Colin Powell, and Fareed Zakaria. Both endorsements are important but in different ways. Admittedly, Zakaria is a moderate/liberal with a realist bent on foreign policy. He has been a critic of the Bush Administration's unilateralism regarding Iraq (though he supported United Nations action to overthrow Saddam's regime). He was one of the first to point out the dangers of de-Baathification and the disbanding of the Iraqi army. He recognized early and often, that Gen. Shinsecki's estimate for how many allied forces would be needed for Iraq reconstruction was far more sound than the Wolfowitz pie in the sky nonsense. However, Zakaria has a certain independent streak when he talks about liberty, vrs democracy and how it is likely to evolve in from country to country. A big believer in private property, free trade, the rule of law, etc., he sees democracy evolving out of liberty, not liberty evolving from democracy. Obviously, someone who is a deep thinker, but also someone with an independent streak, the fact that he endorsed anyone for President is a bit of a surprise to me. Clearly he understands how important this election is and what it will mean to America's relationship with the rest of the world. In that regard, his endorsement of Obama makes sense.

As for Colin Powell, I knew it would take only a mili-second before conservative propagandists would try to spin this as a racially based decision. But everything I've read about Colin Powell suggests that this is an extraordinary break with those he broke bread with for most of his career. "The Powell Doctrine" is still studied as a formidable foreign policy paradigm, one that would have given the administration of George W. Bush a far greater chance of success, than the Rumsfeldian/Wolfowitz approach. Having been used to further their aims, he has never spoken out against that, though some of his closest confidants have. Powell is someone who measure his words and his actions carefully. Powell's endorsement by itself sends a strong message, but the reasoned justification for the endorsement was a very powerful and relevant statement as to where we are, and what we need as a country. Powell's calling out of Republicans for the demonization of muslims showed Powell to be an American in it's truest sense, not in it's limited neocon version.

All in all, an extraordinary weekend. In addition, newspapers that have never endorsed a Democratic candidate for President have done so, without remorse or a look backwards. These are extraordinary events in a troubled time.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Distributing Bowen Lawn Signs

This morning, I spent a great deal of time distributing Morgan Bowen lawn signs in my native Tooele. As I went from sight to sight, I was amazed to find zero signs from Rob Bishop. Bishop isn't running a campaign, because he thinks his position is a calling, not something he actually needs to run for. He actually may be right. I have total disdain for Rep. Bishop, but I am in the minority, because I have actually tracked his actions/inactions and have taken note. A vote for Rob Bishop makes as much sense as installing a screen door in a submarine. Much of my contempt for Utahns stems from their blind and idiotic support from a guy who has accomplished nothing other than slavishly supporting an extremely inept President. Utah voters in the first Congressional district are an embarrassment to our Republic. Finding an informed voter in Davis County is like trying to find a Christian Ayatollah. And it doesn't get much better in the newer sub-divisions in my native Tooele.

I'm still trying to find out the basis of the stupidity I'm surrounded by, but I'm still trying to figure it out. But religion seems to be the strongest influence for stupidity over reason. But I could be wrong.

Just saying.


"Don't you know about them?" One of the greatest lines in a great movie, "Twelve Angry Men." A classic case of guilt by association. Someone is guilty because, "he's one of them." In "Twelve Angry Men" such a thought is so un-American that it alienates the guy who held it. But in our culture today, such thoughts and words resonate, and influence votes. That is how far our republic has declined. That is how far the Rovian world view of wedge strategies has worked into the manichaean world view of good vrs evil. Our populace, seeming to be less American, and more Taliban over time, might still elect McCain despite how inept and catastrophic has been his Republican would be predecessor.

When you are losing your shirt, your retirement, and the roof over your head, your fear of "them" might just take second stage. But it also might give you a scapegoat for your own bad actions. It was "them" who took out bad loans and destabilized our finacial system. It wasn't me and my over-reaching ambition, it was "them" getting mortgages they shouldn't have.

We need a "them". It certainly beats a careful examination of our own decisions. It is certainly easier to find a scapegoat for our problems than to admit our own bad decisions. Republicans who have had effective control over government for nearly a decade, want to divert attention to their own mismanagement by looking for a "them" to blame things on. It is an act of blatant intellectual dishonesty, and a window into the soul of a soul-less group of people whom we never should have given a modicum of authority to.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why McCain May Still Win

I hate to tell you this, but the American people, may not be ready for a black, well-spoken, intellectual, President. Admittedly, the economic crises we are facing is making some who would otherwise never even consider an Obama vote second-guess. But in the end, Americans in general are uneducated, and risk averse. My prediction, is that many people of a conservative nature, who out of desperation have leaned towards Obama during the last three weeks, will drift back towards McCain, simply because, that is what they know. Many Americans claim they want change, but when ultimately, they have to vote on it, they will chicken out.

If McCain wins, pundits will wonder how a candidate can win every debate, run a superior campaign, and ultimately lose. Ultimately, it will show more about the American people and their ideosyncracies than it will about any other factor. Let's face the facts, most Americans believe in a world that is less than 10,000 years old, still believe that Adam and Eve were the progenitors of all humans and have great reservations about science as a means of discovering truth relative to revelation as documented in scripture.

As a country, we are only as good as our citizens are. We cannot expect reasonable voting patterns, when reason is eschewed for myth and superstition in most aspects of American lives. How people think will determine how people vote. Appealing to reason in this country is like trying to look at a nebula with a microscope. For those of us liberals who look at polls and think, just maybe, reason may prevail, I still wonder, can it really. Maybe I'm a pessimist. Perhaps I've been conditioned by having been on the losing side so many times in this blindly conservative state.

But part of what I've learned, is that many Americans would rather suffer, than learn from their mistakes. If Obama wins, it will be closer than rational people will suspect, but I still think McCain, despite his erratic and angry demeanor, may still carry the day. And what it will say about America, is that they are no longer reliable as an ally, and formidable as a foe. For they have abandoned the real world, and are living in a mythical fairy land. And though their weapons are formidable, their dogma is but a shallow shell of contradictions and platitudes. The world still holds out hope that someon with the capacity to reason such as Obama may prevail in the world's only superpower. I also share that hope. But my confidence in the American voter, isn't all that great. Most Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 and think Iraq had stockpiles of WMD. These people will vote in November. Obama's election as President would be an absolute miracle.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate Thoughts- It's all About Barack

What struck me was just how much this debate was about Obama, and not about McCain. Admittedly, I am an Obama supporter and I see there were missed opportunities that Obama missed. But McCain still seems angry, and takes too much stock in stoking fears about Obama, than building confidence in him as our next President. It was almost like Obama was running for re-election and McCain was asking people to reconsider.

Another thought, in all three debates, Obama looked more Presidential. Though this was McCain's strongest debate, he still didn't look as Presidential as Obama. This was still about attacking Obama and creating doubts about him, not confidence in McCain. Obama was the cool collected one. He's the guy who can negotiate with the heads of other countries and not lose his cool, yet remain firm in defending America's interests. That is what Obama projects. Americans need reassurance. They don't need someone with issues who appear angry and distracted.

I know Republicans will do their best to say McCain won this debate, but the fact is, though it was McCain's best debate, Barack still won. He was the one who talked about what he would do, and though he contrasted himself with McCain, he didn't appear to detest McCain.

After this debate, I cannot imagine a scenario whereby John McCain becomes President. Obama is the better candidate and I believe he will be the better President.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To Arrogance With Ease

One thing my years of being involved politically has taught me, is just how easily an elected official can go from being driven by a desire to serve, to the type of entitlement attitude that comes with arrogance. Most of the politicians I have met, on both sides of the aisle, have began their campaigns with a desire to serve the greater public good. Some may have pet issues or interests, i.e. education, board of realtors, labor unions, public employees, etc., but most really do appear to have the best interests of their constituents in mind.
Now jump a couple of elections into the future, particular for those public officials who appear invulnerable to an electoral challenge, a few things often happens to them.

1- Lobbyists representing special interests have convinced them of their importance and have rewarded them for their access to them.

2- The lack of a realistic electoral challenge leaves them the impression that they can do what they want without repercussions.

3- Because so many are deferential to them, failure of someone to show adequate deference is considered disrespectful to the position they hold.

Admittedly, this doesn’t happen to all elected officials. But it does happen often. The psychological rewards for being treated as important becomes an intoxicating drug for some in politics. Many don’t realize the addiction until they inexplicably lose an election and find themselves suffering the terrible withdrawal of returning to irrelevance. Even those who retire, often feel the loss of status like the loss of a loved one. As hard as many have tried to remain grounded, I’ve seen some of the best of them succumb to the feelings of entitlement.

When I watched the exchange between Morgan Bowen and Rob Bishop regarding donations made to Rob Bishop by Energy Solutions, it occurred to me just how far Rob Bishop had fallen with such ease into the realms of arrogance. It was quite magnanimous of Rob Bishop to atleast grace the rest of us with his presence at a debate of sorts, but he let us all know in no uncertain terms, that he is on Energy Solution’s payroll, and he is proud of it. And he knows he will win re-election, because he is Rob Bishop and a Republican.

Rob Bishop not only drank the koolaid, he ran out of koolaid and found something truly intoxicating. And the people of his district, wearing a certain beer-goggles of their own, don’t mind the slurred speech, because it is speech they understand and resonates with them.

Thoughts on Bailouts

Isn't it interesting that pro-capitalist conservatives have pushed for governmental intervention into our capital markets. Even going so far as to the federal government take equity interests in major financial institutions. I have been concerned for years that so many individuals and corporations were basing their decisions upon best case scenarios regarding the future values of collateral and the income of those whom they lended to. If those assumptions didn't hold true, what would be the result? Some financial institutions hedged their bets and acted prudently. However others sought maximization of profits disregarding the risks. And though the government allowed such actions, they did so under pressure from the lobbyists from these organizations. But ultimately, this failure was a failure of corporate governance. Boards of directors have a responsibility to those they represent, to not only maximize profits, but to mitigate risks. Many of these boards batted .500, and though that works in baseball, it doesn't in finance.

And now we find ourselves with a federal government being asked to intrude itself as equity partners in financial institutions. As partners, they should have a role in corporate governance and you could feasibly see members of the board from the federal government, all while federal regulators, serving a different function examine their books and making recommendations to minimize risks. I know in credit unions, regulators evaluate credit unions using a 'CAMEL' rating. These stand for Capital, Assets, "Management", of which management includes the role of the board. So now, you may have federal regulators regulating board members who may be members of the federal government. Say what?

Honestly, I am still digesting what has happened during the past couple of weeks. I am an old school financial institution junkie. I take great pride in the role my own financial institution has played in economic growth for small and medium sized businesses. I view the federal role as a regulator, not as an equity partner. Admittedly the model for many other countries is a federal/private partnership in the financial markets. This isn't the United State's tradition, despite some important and often times useful regulations and oversight.

I have my concerns about where we are going, not because of ideology, but because of workability. This may all turn out fine. But this is an awkward and paradigm changing process for the federal government. The federal government, treated as the scapegoat under Ronald Reagan, is now asked to be the white knight. To say this change in policy and outlook is monumental is to be an understatement.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sarah Palin Abused the Powers of Her Office

Atleast that is what we hear from a bi-partisan, 10 Republican to 4 Democrat commission called to investigate the matter. Now why is this important? Employees of any state government potentially face severe pressure. Should a state audit of a prominent Republican (or Democrat depending on the state) legislator show a failure to adequately report income, or possession of taxable property, could they use their power to exempt themselves from those audit results? Could elected officials use their office to use the apparatus of the state to damage a state employee with whom they have a grudge? These issues have been dealt with quite adeptly by most state governments by providing certain protections to state employees. In the case of firing the Public Safety Commissioner in Alaska, he was an appointed person, serving at will. However in the case of Sarah Palin and her husband who seemed to be most willing to use her wife's position as a means of attacking someone he had animosity with, his brother-in-law, lobbying to fire such an individual using his wife's status as governor, not because of anything he did on the job, but because of matters personal to the Palin family, there are serious ethical questions regarding her role in the firing of the Public Safety Commissioner.

Sarah Palin was certainly willing to fire others who didn't carry her personal water so-to-speak, including a librarian in Wasilla. But as Governor, I sense she never thought that anyone would challenge her in this large but remote state. But that was before she became a national figure. Palin has showed herself as someone with far greater ethical challenges than someone who engaged in illegal activities decades ago (such as William Ayers who has worked with people from both political parties). These activities are current and relevant. They indicate an immature mind, that is unable to separate her family's interests from those of her elected office. It shows a tendency to view her office as something to further her future, rather than a responsibility to be taken seriously to serve her constituents with fairness and resolve. So on what basis does Sarah Palin now attack Barack Obama? Those who have worked with him suggest he is an honest and forthright individual. And Sarah Palin? There is a credibilty gap wider than airline miles one can accumulate flying between San Francisco and Guam. Is Steve Urquart, my friend, still convinced that she is the savior to the Republican ticket? I'm viewing her as an ankle bracelet with a fair amount of lead.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Illuminating Road Rage Incident

Driving home from work, I was in the fast lane hoping that the guy in front of me just might speed up a bit when someone in a white Suburban passed me on the right, assuming that I had power over the slow-poke ahead of me, who ultimately made a left turn into Lakepoint. He pulled in front of me with perhaps ten feet to spare. He then proceeded to give me "the finger." As it ends up, I found myself at a red light right next to this finger-waving nincompoop. I watched him say in great and clear lip synch, "Obama Sucks!" and he proceeded to flip me off again, this time with two hands. Oh yeah, I have two Obama bumper stickers on my car. In my lack of wisdom, I should have anticipated road rage from some demented nutjob who probably sincerely believes Obama is a terrorist, a Manchurian candidate or the antichrist, or whatever.

I sense great anger, anxiety and fear coming from people about the possibility of having a President with the middle name Hussein (notwithstanding our long-standing positive relationship with King Hussein of Jordan). I sense fear that someone other than a devout right-wing Christian just might have the power of the executive. But I was surprised that this numbnuts acted the way he did. I haven't acted aggressively to anyone with a McCain/Palin bumper sticker. They may be dumber than a post, but that is their prerogative. To the dude in the white Suburban, take a chill pill, though I was driving alone, I might have been driving my kids somewhere. I don't mind you risking my life (I have oodles of life insurance), but keep in mind, I might be with others in my car. So get a grip, take a sedative and pull yourself together. I'm not your mortal enemy because I have two Obama bumperstickers on my car.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Getting the Public Involved and Educated?

David Miller sort of posed a question similar to this to me, and I've been thinking about it, but I'm struggling with solutions. The political blogosphere has the ability for frank and honest discussions between those who care about issues, coming from both sides of those issues. But what do we do about those who decide to vote out of public duty, but don't do their homework on what the people they elect actually do and have actually done? Our nation will only be as good as our average voter, and honestly (I know I'll be accused of being elitist), I don't have alot of faith in the average voter.

Most of the people I ride the bus with, don't understand the electoral college, the separation of powers doctrine, who the last five President's were, or even who their State Senator is. Many of them do vote, however, some of them Democrats, more of them Republicans. On what basis do they vote? I haven't been able to get my hand around this. Is it name recognition? Who has the most and prettiest signs? Do they know the candidate personally and think well of them? Is party affiliation the driving force? I'm sure the reasons are all over the board.

I think one thing that would help, is the insistence upon a civics course in order to graduate from High School. I would also encourage high schools to allow clubs associated with political or issue/based affiliations. Perhaps each high school can have it's own political blog and allow for posts and discussions with perhaps some moderation from a faculty member. Maybe it is happening already? I'm staring at my 30 year reunion coming in a couple of years, so I'm not in touch with the younger crowd. But my experience has taught me, that someone engaged in political discussion in high school, tends to remain engaged and interested and is more likely to read the paper or watch the news.

And what about the rest of the electorate. How do we get them engaged, not only in voting, but discussing openly the important issues of our day? IRL, I have never shied away from political discussions (even though I've been chastised a few time) in public. I've even been willing to take a position opposite my own, if it will cause discussion. But I am often perceived as a weird outlier, someone who gets caught up in politics too easily. I can almost hear them say, "ol Obi, there he goes again."

i apologize for the rambling. But I am open to suggestions in how to get Americans engaged in their own governance. Good government rarely comes hand-in-hand from an ill-informed electorate. But I don't know what to do to raise the bar for that electorate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Politics of Hope- Presidential Thoughts

As John McCain and his resume deficient running mate seem to go deeper and deeper into their smear campaign, I've been thinking how refreshing a message of hope might be as politicians search for scapegoats for the problems facing us. I'm reminded of the 1932 campaign, where the dour, and angry, Herbert Hoover, seemed to get over-run by events. FDR, his opponent, didn't exactly play his hand as far as policy issues and what he proposed to accomplish. However, he did project confidence and hope. I believe a message of hope, is needed here in the country. Certainly, FDR wasn't the first or last to talk about hope. Reagan was perfectly willing to do it as well. But what this race has gone down to, is "guilt by association" and questioning one's motives. Can we all agree on a couple of things.

John McCain wants our country to do well
Barack Obama wants our country to do well
Unless the evidence solidly contradicts it, John McCain should be taken at his word
Unless the evidence solidly contradicts it, Barack Obama should be taken at his word

More than anything, what our country needs is leadership. Aspects of leadership that I want in a President:

Projection of hope and confidence
An understanding of the most vital isses
The ability to ask hard questions of subordinates
A vision of where America needs to go (even if the how-tos haven't been worked out)
A willingness to recognize, that as President, his constituency is ALL Americans
A clear understanding of the separation of powers and the roles of the executive, legislative and judicial branches
Someone who will ensure we have a strong military
Someone who will be judicious in the use of this military so it can remain so
Someone who can build alliances, not alienate them
Someone who other nations will want to be allied with
A basic understanding of the role of regulators
An understanding of the distinction between their administration, and their re-election campaign

I know it is a long list, and I'm sure others could offer additional sound things to look for. Based upon these criteria, I feel much more comfortable voting for Obama than I do McCain. Others may see it differently. But the McCain campaign now seems to be more about Obama, than it is about McCain. McCain isn't projecting hope, he's telling us not to trust Obama when he projects it. The power of positive thinking will not end the crises we are facing. However, true leadership is about inspiring our nation to come together and overcome the obstacles we are facing. Not projecting worse case scenarios should "the other guy" get elected. The McCain campaign has resorted to the politics of fear, and maybe that is just a projection of the fear they have that the election may be lost. Fear still plays a role with my own thinking, I admit. If elected, I'd be scared shitless of a McCain heart attack or stroke. But I am willing to extend some hope, that if elected, McCain can rediscover his independent streak. It's a faint hope, but it is there.

But in the end, our candidates can either project hope, or fear. Even if it is a naive hope, it beats the quagmire of fear. For fear is paralyzing. Fear causes one to search for scapegoats, not solutions. Fear can easily disintegrate into paranoia, finding enemies where they don't exist, and losing trust in allies you have a history with. And in the search for scapegoats that fear inspires, who knows what "them" are to wear that label? And pretty soon, we are again, the "Disunited States of America" where your standing as a citizen is subject to whether you fit within that "them" group or not. In the words of Aragorn from "The Two Towers", "there's always hope."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Opportunity Cost of $700 Billion

As the talk continues of the federal government bailing out $700 billion for bad loans, we should also step back and ask ourselves what is the long-term cost of this, both publicly and privately. The federal government is currently racking up impressive deficits and therefore borrowing heavily from the private sector capital markets. Where will the $700 billion come from? The capital markets. Capital which could go to productive businesses will instead go to poorly managed ones. Even as someone who believes in some reasonable governmental interventions into the private sector, this one doesn't make any sense at all for our country. It makes alot of sense for the executives of failing or floundering financial institutions who gambled with everyone's money and guessed wrong.

$700 billion is alot of money, money that could rebuild our infrastructure, reinvest in newer more productive manufacturing equipment, could provide feed money to green industries, and dare I say it, be used for off-shore oil platforms. The opportunity cost of 5% of our country's GDP being spent cleaning up the work of incompetents is like repainting the Titanic even as the lower decks are flooding. And the cynical, fear-monguering Republican hierarchy does what they do best, tell the American people "if Congress doesn't give us unprecedented power, lack of oversight, and the freedom to do what we want, the economy will unravel." So let me get this straight, Republican advocates for deregulation who helped create this mess, tell us "we now need more power, even less oversight, or we'll blame our bad decisions on Democrats."

I'm hopeful that the American people aren't so stupid as to fall for this. However, I've had my hopes dashed quite regularly before.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Surprise- Trib Reports Budget Shortfalls Reported for Utah

With Utah experiencing unprecedented prosperity during the last six years, the legislature in it's wisdom decided to significantly reduce taxes. Now that the economy has turned south, well, I guess it was inevitable that budget shortfalls would occur. And during this period of prosperity, how much was put into a rainy day fund? My guess is probably far too little.

This creates quite a challenge for conservative lawmakers, because, first of all, they won't admit they made a mistake by voting for the tax decreases during an election year, so they will look to other options. Many critical services (they say education will be held harmless) will likely take a serious hit. And that is just for this particular year. Next January, when a new crop (most likely, the same crop) of legislators meet in January, they will also have to decide additional budget cuts based upon projections just as gloomy as the ones that predicts the budget shortfall for this year.

This Republican legislature, which already helped pay for their tax cuts by retro-actively cutting the benefits of state employees at retirement, will probably also look at these employees as the ones who will take the hit for their fiscal mismanagement. That is just my guess based upon what they've done in the past.

All in all, I'd say that Utah is in trouble. We are one of the last states to be hit, but we'll have to wait to see if we will be one of the hardest hit. But like Bush's doctrine regarding going into Iraq, where best case scenarios become the basis of future action, this legislature has acted on the basis of projections of future revenue growth that in a historical framework were outliers, and not typical. They went too far with their tax cuts, and have endangered the funding of many state services. And will the public hold them accountable? Based upon past performance of Utah's electorate, I'm not holding my breath.

Don't Worry, God Will Provide

It is an interesting time at my day job. My southern baptist secretary has said in the past, that a woman should never hold the position of President, because God has not ordained women to lead. I've been reluctant to ask her about Sarah Palin, one actuarially likely ruler of the free world should McCain gain election in November. Her opposition to Hillary was based upon "biblical principles", but I haven't heard whether those principles apply to the recently elected Governor of Alaska.

I suspect there may be a paradigm shift going on with my fine secretary. A devout Christian, who believes firmly in an inerrant Bible, may be able to overcome her gender, and like Ruth through her humility and prayer guide our nation to further the Christian cause.

And as far as the large number of pressing issues facing the next administration, don't worry, with a devout Christian in the second spot, God will provide. God will bless us all for our electing a believer, not a deceiver. God will bless us because we didn't allow eight years of failure determine our future. After all, Moses floundered in the desert for forty years, as a test of our fortitude. And yet God provided. Manna from heaven, like lost manufacturng jobs, will certainly come if a true believer ascends to national prominence. This economic crisis is the result of us falling from grace. Once a true believer is in place whispering spiritual wisdom into the ears of an aging, pliable, former maverik, our nation shall gain a powerful ally, God the father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, manifest with single purpose to turn our nation into a Christian nation, a nation that will throttle rival mythologies. A nation that will act with a righteous fatalism, and do all it can to bring forth armegeddon and bring about the second coming.

Oh, if I were a true believer, I'd put away the concerns about gender. Perhaps Paul overstated his case against women, perhaps when the chips are down, God has a special surprise for all of us, that a woman shall lead us to salvation, to a nation ready to welcome his second coming, to a nation willing to destroy Satan's adversaries to mark the way for his return. Notice should got out to atheists, homosexuals, feminists (unless saved by grace), intellectuals, mormons, and other non-believers, that the time has come, and Sarah Palin, with the grace of God, shall lead us to that terrible, yet wonderful time, where righteousness (as we define it) shall prevail, and wickedness (as we define it) shall utter it's last breath.

Ok, now why is there a green pod next to me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tiny Flying Vertebrates

While in Hawaii, I took a little cruise to the Captain Cook memorial to do a little snorkeling. On the way, I got to see some flying fish, tiny little fish whose ray-fins have been elongated to allow flight for a certain period in the air. I had never seen these fish before, but was amazed as I watched one fish fly seven feet in the air, and change directions slightly mid-air. Most impressive. When I got home, I also had the experience of watching one of my most favorite vertebrate flyers, the hummingbird. I have purposely planted flowers that bloom in the early fall, that provide nectar to hummers as they fly south. Usually, my yard is dominated early by black-chins, who are displaced in mid to late July by the more aggressive broad-tails. However, the broad-tails head south quickly with the first cold spell, and I usually see migrants such as a few rufous, black-chins and an occasional calliope. The calliope's are the smallest of these, but are extremely accrobatic. Amazing creatures, I was blessed to see on tonight as I barbecued hamburgers for my family, feeding from one of my salvia lemmonii plants.

Evolution is a wonderful thing. The fins, that evolved in such a way that allows a flying fish to escape predators by flying for 50-100 yards have evolved into wings that move so fast with the hummingbirds, we are powerless to see the details of their feathers. Ultimately, those fins evolved into limbs that allowed vertebrates to walk on land, grasp prey, and in our case, evolve an opposable thumb and be able to create complex tools, including the computer upon which I am typing.

These flying vertebrates are indeed impressive. Even those who have created wings with tools, not just flew with fins in all their adaptations.

Thoughts on the Mortgage Crisis

On my trip to Hawaii, I had the opportunity of having a barley based beverage with the CEO of a major financial institution, the institution I work with. As we discussed the financial crisis, we felt a certain pride that our institution, though facing challenges, wasn't losing asset values and is still profitable. Over the years, we've lost alot of business to the various purveyors of creative financing that qualified people who should have qualified for a modest $130,000 home, but got into a $300,000 home instead. The whole basis for these loans was a paradigm that was sustainable under one set of assumptions. The assumptions were that the income of the individual getting the mortgage would increase, and that the value of the house would increase, creating instant equity that would give the borrower flexibility to refinance, or even perhaps, move to an even more impressive home.

Well, the assumptions behind this paradigm, just like the assumptions regarding the continual rise of stock prices in the 1920's that drove people to borrow money to put into the stock market, proved to be wrong. And these people made the wrong decisions and those companies which bought these mortgages as investments made bad decisions. And the instability created by these decisions is creating waves in our financial markets and panic among investors. And unfortunately, it is creating an environment where the government somehow feels the need to bail people out of their bad decisions.

People, and institutions overbuilt in the residential market, driven by tax incentives, and by a drive for easy profits and quick equity. Risks were assumed, but they were assumed ignorantly, on the basis of the future looking exactly like the past. This is symptom of a people who have no knowledge of history or basic finance. And our government bailing out those who hadn't learned the lessons of history only reinforces the idea, that you can essentially speculate with other's money. And the other's our us, the U.S. taxpayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comments on Palin's Interview with Charlie Gibson

First of all, she obviously didn't know what "the Bush Doctrine" meant. She tirelously reverted to the same talking points and showed no ability to intellectually discuss any issue of any import.

Governor Palin, if a light-weight like Charlie Gibson can make you look weak and uninformed, you are unqualified to be a heart-beat away from the Presidency. Your media background may have served you well as someone who can talk the talk, but it is clear to me, after Gibson's interview, that you can't think the think. And it has nothing to do with your gender. It has to do with your education and mindset.

BTW, I may be incommunicado for a while. My laptop is experiencing battery problems and I have decided not to bring it with me to my trip to Hawaii. I will be on the big Island from tomorrow night through Thursday. I don't know if the resort I stay in will have free internet access (though I believe they should), but even so, I plan to golf, scuba, and sightsee a heck of alot more than comment on politics. If I don't respond to your comments on any post, it isn't because I don't care, it is because I am otherwise engaged.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

American Governance 101- Impacts on American Society

David Miller has during the past year highlighted many of the opinions expressed in "The Federalist Papers". Clearly one of the things that influenced the design of our American political system was a desire to create checks and balances on power. Checking the power of executives or monarchs was not a new concept. The English from the time of King John when the Magna Carta was signed (under durress), English monarchs had subjected themselves to some sort of constraint from barons, earls, and other landed gentry. Edward I, while trying bring Wales under his thumb while also trying to further English interests in France and Scotland, found he needed money, and the only way to raise the kind of money needed was to convene those who could provide him the money. Edward III, fighting an expensive war against France (the hundred years war), also needed to raise money, and this monarchical need for money led to the rise of power among what was evolving and English legislative branch of government.

Though the United States rebelled against the English monarch George III, it did so out of a lack of representation within the growing legislative structure in Great Britain. When our nation was founded, many of the concepts of English polity were adopted, however, being even more fearful of executive power, the United States ultimately adopted means by which to further reign in an overreaching executive. Courts, another institution much developed by the English provided the other pillar of balance, ensuring that government abides by it's own laws, while judiciating the laws that are adopted.

Mirrors of this three-pronged series of checks and balances exist all throughout American society, both in government, civic organizations and in business. A corporation has stockholders who elect a board of directors which act as a legislative branch. They hire a CEO and management team that acts as the executive. They usually have a body that also acts as a sort of judicial body that ensures that corporate by-laws, generally accepted accounting principles, and sound internal controls are maintained. Audit committees, outside auditors, internal auditors and other mechanisms are created to ensure that management follows the rules that the legislative branch (board of directors) approve.

This basic organization has many benefits. For one thing, when it operates properly, opportunities for corruption are limited. However, when boards become rubber stamps for management (the executive branch), and the judicial processes of oversight from auditors are lax, corruption is more likely. Also, inefficiencies can be created when people forget which hat they are wearing. A board member should not interfering unnecessarily with the day to day operations of a business any more than a city councilman should be directing city employees daily tasks.

One of the hallmarks of the American system of checks and balances is accountability. When all those who serve within the three-pronged sets of checks and balances do so with integrity, independence and a knowledge of what their role entails, decisions are made with the best available information, and decisions are communicated and implemented in a way that allows the organization to progress.

In my life time, I have had to wear various hats in each of the three branches of governance. Each of these roles creates unique challenges. Working within the legislative branch, the challenge is to ask the right questions of the executive so the decisions made by this branch are as good as possible. A major challenge within the executive role is how to respond quickly and flexibly to a changing environment when constrained by the dictates of the legislative branch. A major challenge of serving in the judicial role is having the courage to challenge the executive when they are violating legislative mandate, or challenging the legislative branch when they have decided to violate higher laws and policies (i.e. pass a policy that is in violation of GAAP or federal statute).

All in all, the American governance model handed down to us by our founders is a remarkable model. When the model works well, it means people understand their role and perform it well. We should evaluate candidates on how well they understand their role and execute it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We should be fair to Sarah Palin

To do otherwise, would be an insult to her. To treat her with kid-gloves because she is a hockey-mom with lipstick? That is one neutered pit bull. Since we know so little about her, I think careful scrutiny is in order. Did she really seek to ban books her and her evangelical Christian brothers and sisters had issues with? If so, let's discuss what that means. As mayor and governor, did she capriciously fire appointees because she valued their dogma and loyalty more than their competence? Fair question. Competent executives value competent subordinates, not yes men and women. If her "executive experience" counts for anything, we should scrutinize the decisions she has made and on what basis she evaluated her staff. Fair questions of any executives, particularly those who have held executive positions for such a short time, over such a small number of individuals.

Kneedeep pointed out to me that Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined. That may be true, but I value competence far more than experience. Good executives ask tough and insightful questions of subordinates. Good executives seek divergent views. Colin Powell once said, "if you hire a yes man, one of you is redundant." Early returns from Alaska suggest that Palin wanted loyalty more than competence or diversity of opinion. Palin was an ideological right-wing autocrat who seeked to impose her own warped views upon the citizens of Alaska. I'm willing to entertain evidence to the contrary, but like most people, I know only fragments of what her little experience tells us about her.

One thing that dawned on me, in retrospect, was that without giving my IRL information out, that I, Obi wan liberali, have more executive experience than Joseph Biden, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Sarah Palin combined. Though I haven't been a governor for just over a year, and a mayor of a small city, when looking back at the number of FTE's that report to me, and the timeframes that I have managed them, I could make a solid argument that I have more executive experience than all of the candidates combined. Of course, it is true that I have more executive experience than Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy combined before they assumed the Presidency.

Obi wan for President.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thoughts On Palin's Speech

She may be underqualified, she may be a banner of books at her local library, she may be a radical evangelical Christian who implores prayers to enable pipelines to provide gas to Alaska citizens. She may be the mother of a daughter who became pregnant, something not important to me, but something that seems unimportant to those who would find it important if it was the child of a Democratic candidate. She may have less executive experience than a two term mayor of my home town of Tooele. But, she makes an effective attack dog. And let's face it, Republicans love attack dogs.

Now admittedly, she fared well given how ineffective those who preceded her had been. The sarcasm level was a bit over the top, but she tried to reinforce the current myth of John McCain as a maverik, when in fact he has appeased the worst authoritarian conservative nationalists in order to gain the nomination. She showed herself to be an effective and articulator of Republican talking points, while also appearing to show a measure of independence. That a John McCain running mate would bad-mouth the same lobbyists who have dominated and financed John McCain's campaign seems a little hypocritical. Is she running against John McCain and his mentor W, or is she just trying to separate McCain from Bush in ways that are rhetorical rather than real. Is she a breath of fresh air, or is she a vacuum for reason?

Notwithstanding, she if an effective spokesperson for the evils of conservative authoritarianism. I doubt John McCain will be as effective at promoting that agenda.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Joe Leiberman's Speach- I Just Lost Dinner

What in habeaus corpus maximus was Al Gore thinking, in selecting such a war-mongering, two-faced traitor as Joe Leiberman as his Vice Presidential nominee. After watching his speach at the RNC, I have to wonder, do the people of Connecticut feel like Amway representatives at the bottom of the downline? His slavish support for Sarah Pallin, a person he doesn't know from a hole in the wall, showed just what a tool he was for the McCain camp, and totally uncredible, despite his experience in the U.S. Senate.

Leiberman seems to be completely unpeturbed about George W. Bush's most egregious law-breaking and John McCain's slavish support for that erosion of our Constitution. Leiberman seems to suppport any military action against any enemy of Israel, even when such actions are against the interest of the United States. What little respect I held for Leiberman prior to tonight's speech is pretty much gone.

Leiberman has sold his soul, and pretends that he is riding the middle. With our Constitution hanging by a thread, Leiberman has taken up the "Order of the Scissors" and is willing to cut away, and market it as bi-partisan expediency. At the time, I thought Ned Lamont's campaign against Leiberman was misplaced. In retrospect, the citizens of Connecticut should be embarrassed to have elected a man of this low caliber. But I give them some solace, that I too was fooled by him. I too have sought the middle ground at times with authoritarian conservatives. However, I was grounded by a basic understanding of what our country was about, Leiberman does not appear to me to be so grounded. Good bye Leiberman. I hope you got a good deal on your soul.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Conservative Counter-insurgency Movement

You see it in forms both subtle and pervasive. Republicans and their lock-step supporters within certain law enforcement agencies, treating dissidents as insurgents. Organizations that pose a threat to the status quo, are targeted and any means necessary are used to marginalize and weaken them.

What we have seen as conservative attitudes have become ever more strident, is systematic infiltration of organizations that conservatives find threatening, whether they are gun-control advocates, vegetarians, peace activists or even garden-variety environmentalists. Even forms of civil disobedience are portrayed as "terrorist activities", lumping basic protesting with exploding IED's near an Iraqi eheckpoint. The treatment of protesters in St. Paul Minnesota illustrates the lines of thinking of law enforcement towards those who seek to express their point of views through protest.

The Cheney pre-emption doctrine has now been applied to American citizens. Police raids of houses that contain people who disagree with Republicans in St. Paul illustrates how close we have become to a police state. Where the government can conduct surveillance on us, without reasonable oversight, the very mechanisms that Nixon wanted to utilize with his plumbers are surpassed with speed and zeal. Where law enforcement and conservative activists purposely infiltrate groups they are threatened by, you get a sense of just how radical and totalitarian the movement has become.

It just seems in looking at the big picture, that with so many conservatives viewing politics through the lense of manichaean absolutism, that any means must be deployed to prevent undesirable ends. Armageddon is imminent, and all must take up arms in whatever way possible, to ensure this nation sides with Jesus. All I can say is, I'm glad the Republicans didn't hold their convention here. For all I know, I would have needed a new door.