Three Days later, Obama’s victory speech is still amazing

How amazing? It nearly brought me to tears again, that’s how amazing. Now I get to look at it with a new eye. A comment I left in response to another person’s comment, seemed to sum up my feelings. Here is that comment (edited a bit to make sense contextually).

I just watched “the speech” one more time. And I was struck by the following passages:

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

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

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

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

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

And this:

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

It is this very attitude that sold me on President Obama way back in January. The singular thought that if we as Democrats were able to win the White House, that it was our obligation to remember that as President, you are not the leader of the red states or blue states, but the United States (I know – his words).

The feeling of irrelevancy that the Bush administration forced me into, was the worst effect of his Presidency. So bad that I don’t wish it on Republicans. Assigning the status of irrelevant to half the country, is not good for us as a nation, and is among the many reasons we find ourselves in the situation we’re in.

With all that – Obama has so many hopes riding on his Presidency. He has lesser room for failure than any President has every had. But he has something else no other President since JFK can claim – he’s captured the imagination of people that have never felt part of anything ever before. It’s that passion that he must take advantage of if we are to succeed at this stated mission.

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President elect Barack Obama

Up until the moment where it was announced that Barack Obama would become the 44th President of the United States, I remained doubtful. I remember 2000 and 2004 all too well. I told Grace not to put the champagne back until we know for sure – it’s the sports fan’s superstitious  streak that got me. I remain thoroughly amazed and impressed with America as we seemingly got this one right. I quickly wiped a tear from my eye and Iooked forward to a day where my country can return to form and begin to fulfill on the promise that we’ve put aside for eight long years.

Yesterday I volunteered and it allowed me to see people passionately go about their civic duty. It was satisfying to see so many people look past our candidates race and his Muslim sounding last name, to make an inspired choice. A choice that is all about fixing what’s wrong than it is about keeping things the same. It shows that this country is ready for the woman, muslim, jewish, hispanic, asian, or other candidate. It is the example that we all needed to show what is possible.

I have no doubt that there will be times that President Obama will disappoint me. It will be those times that I remember that he is there because he has the daunting responsibility of ruling to a divided country, but that it was this divided country that made him President. It was this very point that made me an Obama supporter – that after eight years of a  administration  that ignored half of the country, it was time to have a President that respected all opinions, regardless of whether or not he agreed.

Change starts today – Voting information

After almost two years of talking, now the candidates get to sit back and hear what we have to say. I’ll be so glad to not see another political commercial for awhile.  

Here’s some election information. Be prepared to wait – I’ve heard first hand of some long waits especially in swing states. Going midday, if you can, is recommended but if you can’t, bring something to pass the time, your iPod, a book, a newspaper, etc.  If the weather is poor in your area, then bring an umbrella or wear a poncho.

As Michael Penn stated in song “The line is long but worth the ride”.

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Election 2008 Voting Information

Today, November 4th, is Election Day! Remember to vote—not just for Barack Obama, but for Congressional, state, and local candidates as well.

Where and when do I vote?

Find your polling place, voting times, and other important information by checking out these sites and the hotline below. These resources are good, but not perfect. To be doubly sure, you can also contact  your local elections office.

What should I do before I go?

  • After you’ve entered your address on either  Vote For Change  or  Vote411, read the voting instructions and special rules for your state.
  • Voting ID laws vary from state to state, but if you have ID, bring it.
  • Check out all the voting myths and misinformation to look out for:  http://truth.voteforchange.com/

What if something goes wrong?

  • Not on the voter list? Make sure you’re at the right polling place, then demand a provisional ballot.
  • If you’re voting on an electronic machine with a paper record, verify that the record is accurate.
  • Need legal help? Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
  • If you encounter a problem, try to videotape the situation and submit it to  VideoTheVote.org

Want to do more?

  • Text all of your friends: “Vote Obama today! Pass it on!”
  • Volunteer at your local Obama office. Find an office  here  or  here.

Now, everybody go vote!!!

Not Spencer: Michael Penn Exclusive song – The Count of Pennsylvania

The Not Spencer political series is being extended by one for a special contribution by one of the best singer songwriters of our generation, Michael Penn.  Michael has provided the following song: “The Count of Pennsylvania”, exclusively to A Rubber Door. I think you’ll find the song a worthy end.

Michael and I have talked all through this election – all the way back to the very early primary days and here we are a day before we finally get to have our voice. You have one more day to make a difference – call your friends – volunteer to make calls – write something on your blog. Any or all of the above will help put an end to 8 years of mediocrity and start to recover from the damage done to our economy, our world standing, and the fabric of this country: the citizens of this great country.

When you get into the booth tomorrow – pull the lever for Barack Obama and Joe Biden and as Michael states: “Get in on the landslide”

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the-count-of-pennsylvania (right click and "Save As" to save an MP3 to your computer)

The Count of Pennsylvania

by Michael Penn

The Count of Pennsylvania never left the commonwealth
he loiters in the alley like a shadow of his former self
cast against the brick and mortar
through smoke from pipes and stacks
one more for the listmakers
a statistician’s artifact
a victim of amphetamines,
of cogs and things that let off steam
a market for a cold machine that left him in-between
the customers and soldiers you divide
but it’s rising up, a high tide
stretching out so far and wide
the line is long but worth the ride
so get in on the landslide
get in on the landslide

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Michael Penn’s best of can be found here: Palms & Runes, Tarot And Tea: A Michael Penn Collection
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Links to the rest of the Not Spencer 2008 campaign series can be found here.

Not Spencer: Socialism? No. Social Responsibility.

The final Not Spencer post comes from my beautiful wife Kristen. I like to take credit for her turn to the Democratic dark side (no pun intended), but she’s a woman of discerning taste and Ivy League intelligence. The turn was inevitable.

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It has been a long road through this Presidential Election season. There are many ways to slice and dice the positions of the candidates, but the socialism controversy exposes a fundamental difference between the two:   As a society, are we to act as our brother’s keeper, or is it every man for himself?

McCain’s latest ads say a vote for him is a vote for “keeping what is [mine].”   That’s the attitude that got us into this mess.   Looking out for number one is the reason so many Americans have no healthcare coverage, owe money on predatory loans, and can’t make enough money to keep their families afloat.   The free market ways of McCain and Bush and their cronies have been a proven disaster.  

When McCain raises the specter of socialism while lying about tax increases you can supposedly expect under an Obama administration, he’s stoking people’s fear of a welfare state.   Most people in this country aren’t looking for a handout, though.   They’re just looking for a fair shake.  

Right now, the system is set up to enrich people at the top, and destroy the middle class.   Too many people need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet these days.   It didn’t used to be that way.   The promise of America, the dream of working hard and saving money and achieving something, if not for you then for your kids, seems to be dying.   There are no opportunities to get ahead.   And even when the big wigs fail, they fail up to bigger positions, larger bonuses, and government bailouts that they use to enrich themselves further.

McCain’s tax ideas once again trust corporate America and the free market system to take care of those deemed worthy.   This is no way to move forward.  

For the average person, this basically boils down to a tax debate.   I’ve never been a big fan of taxes.   If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have said that I shouldn’t have to pay them.   After all, I wasn’t putting kids through school or using social programs.   Why put in for someone else’s benefit?

As I have gotten older with more responsibilities, I’m starting to appreciate the importance of taxes and the role they play in allowing our society to continue functioning.   They pave roads, build schools, help take care of the elderly, pay cops, and basically maintain the fabric of civilization.   So fairly assessed taxes, when used for the right reasons, make America work.

The biggest lesson of the last eight years is that you can’t entrust the well-being of citizens to a misplaced faith in corporate responsibility.   This is the folly of McCain’s economic policy.   Now that we are starting to see the full extent of the tax fraud that is perpetrated by those in Washington who would spend our taxes on unnecessary wars, building bridges to nowhere, and bailing out corrupt robber barons, I’m more convinced than ever that the taxes themselves are not evil.   The real evil is that so few of those funds end up helping citizens in meaningful ways.    

We need to shore up the institutions that built this country and support our families. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to pay a fair amount of taxes based on your income.   Those who are successful should not be penalized, but they should put in their fair share.   And all of our monies should be spent in ways that provide opportunities for all citizens to lay claim to their piece of the American dream.  

Barack Obama’s tax plan and domestic policy outlook is the only option for the middle class to have any hope of making progress.   By cutting taxes for people under the $250,000 mark and investing that money in the infrastructure of our nation, the well-being of its people, the education of our youth, and the development of a responsible energy economy, we will regain our position as a global leader and innovator.  

“What’s mine is mine” may be a fundamental Republican mantra, but it’s no way to build thriving communities.   I believe in the concept of the greater good.   I believe in good public schools and easy access to higher education.   I believe in providing some sort of assistance for people who are having a hard time.   I believe in hope and the power of those much maligned community organizers.

I’m voting for Barack Obama on November 4th.   And if you really care about this country’s future, you will too.

Kristen is a recovering Republican from the McCainiac’s home state of Arizona.    Her guilty pleasure is singing “Raising McCain” ironically while sending money to Obama.  

Not Spencer: Wasilly Season

Not Spencer took an unscheduled day off yesterday due to the Phillies World Series win (it tickles me to say that.   I’ll probably randomly sprinkle that in to conversation for the next 6 months.) It’s back today with a gift from a gifted writer and person whose blog, Church of the Big Sky, is a constant inspiration and goal to me.

Now that I’ve made Merujo blush, here’s her post.

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“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone. She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.” – anonymous McCain advisor commenting on Sarah Palin to CNN.com

I started writing this piece for Spencer probably a dozen times, and each effort up until now has ended up in the recycling bin. A good friend of mine likes to remind me that I tend to lose my thread when I write or speak about politics. I get emotional, and rational logic tends to get the old heave-ho. This year, though, I can’t blame myself. Not this time. I can’t blame any of us for being emotional about the choice we need to make. In just a few days, we have the opportunity to change the ugly, damaging trajectory of this nation’s future.

We have the opportunity to bring America back to a position of sanity and decency and reason.

We’ve been hovering on the brink of hell for eight long, dark, miserable years. So, yeah, I think we can all get a little emotional. And I’m going to warn you here, I’m taking the gloves off.

For me, a vote in this election comes down to a judgment call. But it’s not my judgment I’m worried about. It’s not your judgment I’m worried about. And it’s not Barack Obama’s judgment I’m worried about. It’s John McCain’s judgment that worries me. It worries me a great deal. Especially as the polls tighten in these last days before we vote. I just don’t want to see someone come to power that will not only continue the lunacy of the Bush regime, but, quite possibly, expand it.

Instead, I want a president in the White House who demonstrates prudent behavior. A president who thinks about the nation as a whole, thinks about the nation as it fits into this rapidly shrinking world, and is willing to represent and lead and defend all of us – not just those who fit into a small, increasingly paranoid pigeonhole on the far right.

We need, plainly, a president with good judgment. Someone who will make important decisions with calmness and with the council of great minds in a bipartisan cabinet. Someone who can engage us, congress, our allies and our enemies with grace and without invoking fear or encouraging ignorance.

We don’t need a man in the Oval Office who makes snap decisions under the guise of being a “maverick.” Not one that sings “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and lets himself be filmed doing it. Not one known in DC circles to have an anger management problem. Not one who uses a gimmick candidate like Sarah Palin to try to lure in the rightest of the right wing.

That gimmick has failed. When prominent members of the Republican Party publicly endorse the Democratic candidate for president, citing Sarah Palin as a key reason for their defection, you know you have a problem.

I believe John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin was the death knell for his campaign – and deservedly so. It was a decision either tremendously ill-conceived and poorly researched or simply a demonstration of utter contempt for the American people, an underestimation of the intelligence of our electorate, and an overestimation of the perceived desire of American women to see a female candidate on the ticket.

As an American woman, I actually find it offensive that the McCain campaign believed they could harness both the fundamentalist Christian vote and the post-Hillary female vote by identifying Palin as a running mate. Would it be great to see a woman in the White House? Sure it would. Absolutely. But only the right woman – someone with credible experience dealing with the weasel patrol in Washington, someone who is ready to hold her own with world leaders, and someone who can separate personal religious beliefs from leadership for a diverse nation. Even if I were a Republican, Sarah Palin would not represent me.

Contrary to what some elements of the Republican Party may believe, the United States is not exclusively a nation of evangelical Christians. Ours is a nation of many peoples, many faiths, and many lifestyles; I see Sarah Palin in the White House as a very bad thing for people who do not share her fundamentalist Christian religious mores. Let’s just say I don’t anticipate seeing any “Wiccans for McCain” bumper stickers any time soon.

Are there people who think Palin is an acceptable candidate for the vice presidency? Certainly there are. Shockingly, there are a lot of them. That scares the bejeezus out of me. Do I think the majority of her supporters – most of whom who had no idea who she was before August 29th this year – are using common sense in rallying to her side? Honestly, no. But in desperate times – when everyday people are being crushed by fuel prices, failed banks, foreclosed mortgages – desperate people will cleave tightly to those they *think* understand and represent them.

Problem is, these good people are being sold a bill of goods. What they don’t seem to know, despite the folksy “guys and gals/common woman” rhetoric, is that Sarah Palin isn’t just like them. Yeah, she’s a mom. Yeah, she’s a working woman, a hunter, a wife, a church-goin’ gal. (Many women are.) But unless your family’s personal wealth clocks in at the million dollar mark, my friends, you are not playing in Sarah Palin’s league. It’s all smoke and mirrors – Barnum and Bailey on an epic level. It’s all an illusion to draw in disenfranchised conservatives – the fearful, the undereducated, the insular, the poor and the paranoid, and yes, sometimes the xenophobic and the ignorant   – who are seeking someone to blame.

If you haven’t seen it yet, watch the video Spencer posted of the scary, name-calling crowds at a recent Palin rally. It’s distressing to watch the crowd – belligerent, uninformed – one racist even holding a stuffed monkey labeled with Obama’s name. The mood changes from “party faithful” to “mob” pretty quickly in difficult times. They grasp at catchphrases like “Country First” and believe that the Republicans will keep them safe and restore their measure of prosperity. They hear Palin raise them up as being pro-America Americans and use words like patriotism and socialism without really knowing what they mean. And they do it all without recognizing it’s the party she represents – the twisted smoking wreckage of the GOP – that has laid waste to this country for eight years and is largely responsible for their current predicament.

Does Sarah Palin represent you? Try taking my easy 10-Question Palin Judgment Compatibility Quiz:

1.      Have you ever tried to coerce a librarian into identifying books that should be banned?
2.      Do you believe that God ordains the building of oil pipelines?
3.      Do you think it’s a good idea to get on a plane and fly 3000 miles after your water breaks in the 7th month of a high-risk pregnancy?
4.      Do you think traumatized rape victims should have to pay for their own forensic rape evidence kits?
5.      Do you have a knocked-up teenage daughter and still think abstinence-only sex education is the right way to go?
6.      Have you ever been videotaped being blessed against all forms of witchcraft and enemies bearing serpents?
7.      Have you ever faced an enemy bearing a serpent?
8.      Do you think the United States constitution should be amended just to serve the gay marriage paranoia of the Christian right?
9.      Do you read newspapers? Any newspaper? Buehler? Buehler?
10.      If you can see another country from your living room, does that make you an expert on it?

Oh – and on that last point – you think you know all about Russia, Governor Palin, because you can see the country from your living room? Hey, guess what? I was educated as a Soviet scholar, lived in both the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, and, when I worked for the American Embassy, I could – literally – see the Russian White House across the street from my living room. And, despite spending a decade and a half of my life studying, living in, and working in Russia, I still don’t know the country half as well as I’d like. And yet, if I am judged against the Sarah Palin international leadership sniff test, I think I’m qualified to be John McCain’s secretary of state!

Look, I don’t doubt that Sarah Palin is ambitious and politically savvy in her own small pond. The size of the cojones on that Estee Lauder’ed Alaskan pit bull is not in question. And I don’t doubt she knows how to handle herself in front of the cameras. (Hey, if I had a hard-fought, six-year, five-college bachelors degree in sports journalism and the career goal to appear on SportsCenter, I’d know which camera to address, too.)

But putting on a good face for a crowd isn’t enough. The person one heartbeat, one cancer diagnosis, one breath away from the presidency of the United States should be much smarter than the average bear. And I don’t think Sarah Palin is that. Joe Biden has his own warts and problems, too, but he’s not delusional.

A few years ago – heck, a few months ago – I thought better of John McCain. But the Palin choice has made me think he’s eaten some bad mushrooms and taken a ride on the crazy train. Whatever the reason for his horribly poor vice presidential decision, I sure as hell don’t want him representing me or my country.

Please, don’t let John McCain’s poor judgment further derail this nation’s future.

Choose wisely. Choose hope. Choose reason. Choose smart.

Choose Barack Obama.

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Please return tomorrow for the final Not Spencer post.