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."