Not Spencer: Hope vs. Fear in a Steel Cage Match For the Title

Today’s Not Spencer post is from  Cynicsgirl  from Suburban  Masquerade.  She did want to title this post using the following lyric from a Michael Penn song:  “I can’t hope for crying”, but then realized her thoughts were more angry, than sad.

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I remember the exact moment when I became disillusioned with the political process.  

It was November 1972.  Richard Nixon won the presidential election — by a landslide.   I was just 13 years old, but I knew that was wrong.   See, at St. Aloysius Elementary School, we students had held our own (mock) election.   Young, uncorrupted, naive, all of us — the girls, in their shapeless navy jumpers and peter-pan-collared white blouses, and the boys, in their clip-on ties and double-knit pants — cast our votes for President of the United States.   We had elected George McGovern.  

Eight years later, I’m old enough to actually vote…and along comes the Moral Majority.   (And I’m in the minority.)

As the years pass, politics seems to get dirtier.  Clinton is impeached for lying about blowjobs (which I think is icky-gross, but his own damn business.)     The Powers That Be manipulate the masses with fear, blur the separation of church and state, and question the patriotism of anyone who dares suggest that the emperor is unclothed.  

This country re-elected George W. Bush for chrissakes. How does that happen?     How Does That F*cking Happen?

One may gather that I’m a tad cynical about the political process.  

But then — something surprises me; something strong enough to make me cause an embarrassing scene at a family get-together; something I haven’t felt since…well…since I’ve legally been able to vote.

Hope.

I was just as suspicious of Barack Obama as I have been of any other politician – at first.   But I watch him closely as he navigates the primary, wins the nomination, and campaigns for president.   And I become more and more impressed.   While I would likely vote for a Democrat for president regardless (because I am an evil liberal – although technically an Independent until this past primary season) what impresses me about Obama is his obvious intelligence, his poise, and his attempts to focus his campaign on the substance of the issues.      

And he is a class act.   As superficial as that may sound, after eight years of the Good Ole Boy, the U.S.A. needs its leader to be someone who can inspire respect throughout the world, not have citizens of every other industrialized nation in the world rolling their eyes in disbelief.

John McCain lost my respect when he chose his running mate.   Whether Palin was his choice or was a calculation foisted on him (or something in between) his acceptance of her as his running mate shows a serious lack of judgment.   A blatant “I will ignore what is best for this country in a desperate attempt to win the presidency.”    

Still, Obama gives me hope.   The polls are promising. But I can’t let myself be optimistic.   Because ignorance keeps slapping me in the face.    

Two days ago, I received an e-mail from a retired gentleman who lives in the Southeast.     He’s a distant cousin with whom I’ve corresponded from time to time over the years while researching genealogy — and I’ve found him to be a personable and mentally sharp fellow.   Expecting a genealogy query of some sort, I was shocked to open his e-mail and find a call-to-action, full of half-truths, such as:   “…In addition to the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayres, Barack Obama has formed unsavory alliances with some of the most dangerous social misfits of modern times…” And this:   “With a liberal democratic congress, a liberal democratic president, liberal Supreme Court appointments, and no filibuster, we will rapidly become a socialist country.   When all of the illegal immigrants are declared eligible to vote, who do you think they will vote for in the next election? We must now make a decision between SOCIALISM or FREEDOM?”     (Oops, he forgot to take out the “?” after “freedom”, didn’t he?)

The e-mailed contained a link to USA Wake Up.org which he claimed opened his eyes.   What I saw there sickened me, especially considering my friend’s espousal.   (Went back right now for quotes, but that part of the site is currently disabled.)   It was a page of illogical fear-mongering fiction with the phrase “Socialist Barak Hussein Obama” repeated innumerable times.

Even more disheartening were the “Reply All” responses I received the next day.  One called Obama a “socialist fanatic” Another:   I know H—-   would not have said what he said unless he was sure of his facts and I stand with him.   I am an Independent Voter (unlike Bill Oreilly or Retired General Powell whom profess to be  an Independent/Republican, but we can tell otherwise).”  There was: “Vote the Bible.”    And: ” I am scared for the USA if Obama is elected. It is shame money and political parties elect our President.”  As well as: ” Thank God  there are  still a few of us AMERICANS who believe in FREEDOM.   For all others, if they are tired of living free, speaking free, working, walking, talking, shopping and practicing religious freedom, go ahead and vote for Obama.”   (Though somebody should tell them that in proper Palinese it would be “livin’   workin’ walkin’ talkin’ shoppin’ and practicin’.   You betcha.)   (Is it wrong of me to want a vice-presidential candidate to pronounce their “g”s?  Is it? )

How did our country get to this point of Us vs. Them?   Why is someone we disagree with not only wrong, but also Satan’s spawn?  

That’s that scares me.   Not socialism.   Not Obama’s middle name.   People who hate without cause or reason scare me.   People who justify their choices by demonizing the alternative scare me.  

And the political machine that would pull out the Giant Wrench of Fear from their toolbox to fix a broken campaign — that scares me the most. Because I’m afraid it will work.   Again.

I made a reference to “an embarrassing scene” earlier.   There are a few “core” Republicans in my life that I happen to love in spite of their political leanings.   They have their Right-to-Life beliefs, and I respect their right to believe as they wish (though I believe in Choice.)   And they have their giant bank accounts, and I suppose it is within their rights to want to keep those full of giant amounts of $$.  

The point is I don’t expect everyone to have the same belief system that I do.  Or to have as skimpy a bank account.   But I do expect a discussion of politics to be based on fact. And if, in the Year of Our Lord 2008, one can say (with a straight face) that G.W. Bush is a good president, quip about the “hotness” and “breath-of-fresh-air-ness” of Sarah Palin, and insult the injury by mocking Barack Obama’s ears…well, I am going to get pissed.   And shout a bit. Even if it embarrasses the in-laws.

If your fundamental beliefs align with that of the Republican party…feel free to vote that way, my friend.  But along with your vote for McCain, you will have to make peace with casting a vote for Vice-President as Novelty…a vote for Campaigns Based on Fear and Hate…a vote for Truthiness over Truth.  

Or, vote for Obama.   And make me believe in the political process again.

Cynicsgirl is a card-carrying member of the evil media,  although she has  secret aspirations of one day becoming both a  gadfly  and  a bon vivant.   She resides in the Eastern Suburbs of Philadelphia  (okay, it’s New Jersey)  with previous guest-blogger Radiocynic and their two nutritionally-deprived daughters.

Not Spencer: The Fight For Our Future

Today’s Not Spencer post is from the 49%er.   Next week the ladies take over with posts from Merujo, Suburban Masquerade, and my wife Senorapants.

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The Fight For Our Future

In my lifetime, there have only been a few elections that I actually remember. I only really became politically aware when Bill Clinton took office in 1992.   History will show that Clinton’s time in office saw peace and prosperity.   He left this country with an economic surplus.   Yet, Republicans are still trying to blame him for terrorism and our economic slide over the last eight years.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Since the year 2000, the United States has seen the government attempt to wire-tap citizens and even try to suspend the writs of habeas corpus to people who were deemed enemy combatants of the United States.   After eight years of George W. Bush, this election will not only determine the direction of the country – it might also determine the fate of democracy itself.

The only thing I am truly sure of is how this election proves that we are, in many ways, a nation divided.

Because of this, I decided that I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.   There was never any way I was going to vote for John McCain.   With Sarah Palin in the mix, I am actually afraid when consider how close this race is heading into November.

Americans are facing a deal-breaking choice in 2008.   We can either elect Barack Obama   – who stands for tolerance, intelligence, education and patience in a world gone absolutely berserk financially and politically.   Or, we can elect a candidate (McCain) who has chosen the most polished of all political sewer pickles (Palin is that sewer pickle) to get flushed down the pipe in my lifetime.

To me, this race is about electing Barack Obama and Joe Biden because they are the right men for the job.   It is also about stopping John McCain and Sarah Palin dead in their tracks.

Why?

John McCain and Sarah Palin are frauds.

That’s why.

First of all, Sarah Palin is the most ridiculous choice for a vice-president anyone has ever seen…ever.   She is the product of a political jack-off machine that preys on the complete stupidity of a large segment of the public.   The worst part is that John McCain didn’t even pick her himself.

On paper, Palin wouldn’t even be allowed to wash my car.   Her only qualifications are being mayor of a town about as large and socially tolerant/diverse as the 700-level of the now paved-over Veterans Stadium.   She is a political attack-dog who sets herself up as Eva Braun standing by her man – who in this case is a snowmobile-racing “himbo” secessionist.   Her convention speech slurred the criticisms of George W. Bush with war-cries about the liberal-media conspiracy.     She belongs to a church whose pastor, Ed Kalnins, claims that such criticisms “come from hell” and wondered aloud if anyone who voted for John Kerry could be saved.   He also believes that Alaska will be a “refuge state” for Christians in the last days, which he speaks of as if they will occur if Palin slips in the next poll.

Palin has been caught on tape spewing the same right-wing, vomit-inducing bullshit about the Iraq War being “God’s will”.     Her church also seeks to convert Jews and “cure” homosexuals.

Read that again.
I’ll wait.

Now, let’s examine John McCain.
After Sarah Palin?

Sure.
Let’s face it, he has become the under-card on his own ticket, at this point.

As a senator, McCain put himself first when he allowed someone else to choose Sarah Palin to be the VP nominee.   No one was putting “Country First” when she was chosen for this ticket.

Between McCain and Obama, McCain is the true elitist, having spent most of his life getting special treatment as the son of a career Navy man and the grandson of a respected admiral.   At Annapolis, he was a terrible student who graduated second from the bottom of his class.   He has crashed more planes….let’s just say he has destroyed more military hardware than a Michael Bay film. McCain’s record as a pilot is actually worse than George W. Bush’s was as an Air Force reservist.

McCain is a dangerous hawk with an even bigger “Daddy” complex than George W. Bush. McCain’s recent remarks have heightened tensions with Iran. In April 2007, when a voter asked him about his policy toward Tehran, McCain sang, “Bomb bomb bomb” Iran. This was meant to rally the GOP base, but it also strained relations with Iran, whose foreign minister condemned McCain’s “jokes about genocide” as a testament to his “disturbed state of mind” and “warmongering approach to foreign policy.”

This election has come down to me protecting my son from war.   McCain stated that he would stay in Iraq for 100 years if that were what it takes to win the war and defeat terrorism.

Really?

Well, that means that my son might have to be a soldier serving in a war because McCain and “vice-president Moose-Burger” can’t negotiate peace.

Because McCain is either going to be infirmed or interred before the end of his first term.

We all know it.

Now more than ever, it is about stopping the people who will not hesitate to sacrifice their own children (Palin), and anyone else’s for the sake of “God’s will”.

I am sure that John McCain doesn’t consider his five years as a P.O.W.   “God’s will”.

In this election, the Republicans even co-opted, and subsequently watered-down, Obama’s promise of “change”.   They couldn’t compete with the promise of change.   So, they flooded the market with it.   “Change” is everywhere, now.   As a stock, its worth would be plummeting.

So, why is this election so close?

Because, many Americans like their leaders to be like them. They want a fat, barely literate and totally disoriented shame-fest running their country.   They like their leaders mean and unwavering, even when all the facts point to them being wrong.   And even when being wrong means that they are gambling with the lives of America’s young.

This kind of thinking got Americans to turn a blind eye while George W. Bush stole two elections, right out from under us.

The most telling moment of this campaign season was George W. Bush’s absence from the Republican National Convention.   Thanks to a well-timed hurricane, Bush was excused.   He addressed the booze-addled flock via satellite and his name was never mentioned again.   With his approval ratings, the GOP didn’t need the stink of loser that follows that recovering-alcoholic-fucktard wherever he goes.

So, George was out.

Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

George W. Bush.
John McCain.
Sarah Palin.

Even Republicans are ashamed of these three, at this point.

Is this the best we can do?

For me, the only light in this forest is Barack Obama.   So, he is the only real choice.   He stands for a dream realized after eight years of a torturous national nightmare.   The only thing that will make me happier than watching Bush be let out the side door of the White House is watching Obama take the oath of president and finally sticking it to the bible-thumping, gravy-train riding shitheads that Bush so smugly referred to as “his base”.

This election is not so much about embracing the promise of good over an impending evil – it’s about good’s triumph over bedrock stupidity.   When Obama wins, we could finally see the nation engage in intelligent discourse with other sovereign nations as it works towards peace in our time.   We have the chance to see the leader of this country be a man of respect and sincere adulation wherever he goes.   We have a chance to save our endangered environment and protect this planet for future generations.   We have a chance to silence the religious throng who insist on challenging Roe V. Wade, year after year. We have a chance to elect a highly qualified candidate and show the most racist people in this country that open-minded people mean business and we are not going to bow to the lowest elements of a tired misanthropy. We have a chance to see Wall Street be made to conform to regulations that eradicate the kind of greed that has destroyed our economy while shipping our jobs overseas.   Hopefully, this will also mean the wealthiest residents of this country will start paying their fair share of taxes.

In short, we can rescue the once great reputation of this nation from the gutter that George W. Bush and his henchman pitched it into during their eight years in power.   We can finally derail the gravy train that Bush so smugly referred to as “his base”.

I am voting for Obama to protect this country from further constitutional abuse. A McCain presidency will be a third term of George W. Bush.   Going a step further, Sarah Palin is an unqualified, mean-spirited and brutally inept tyrant.   If Palin is allowed to walk the halls of The White House on any other business than being part of a tour group, she will usher in a new generation of religious-fueled intolerance.

Mostly, it’s about America moving forward and trying to heal while the people of this country reclaim what has been lost over the last eight years.

What have we lost?

What do you lose when your when your president talks about suspending the writs of habeas corpus and the government allows wire-tapping – while the same president takes three days to react as New Orleans drowns in the wake of Hurricane Katrina?

What do you lose when your country is anchored to a costly, seemingly endless war in the face of a struggling economy that needs to be bailed out to the tune of over one trillion dollars?

What do you lose when the world sees your leaders, the supposed leaders of the greatest democracy in history, act so inept and stubborn – seemingly devoid of decency or common-sense?

What do you lose?
You lose precious time.

And, if you wait too long, you live to see the greatness of this country continue to erode until the country itself is almost unrecognizable.

Can Obama make a difference?

I will tell you when he gets there.

And people, he needs to get there.

Please vote on November 4th.

The 49%er is plotting a desktop revolt from the Philadelphia suburbs.

Not Spencer: McCain or Obama = Not the most important political decision of our era

Today we hear from Jack – erstwhile co-worker of mine and prolific commenter – he’s a great person to argue with – he’ll certainly school you.  Tomorrow we’ll be hearing from the 49 Percenter (he may have to change the name of his blog after November 4th)

As we approach the conclusion of this election cycle and we debate who is best to lead, who has the vision for change that is needed in this country, who has the experience to led us. All of this clouds for me the single biggest flaw in modern American politics, and an issue I will simply never let go.

The most important issue = How we select our leader.

Enter The Electoral College

More than any politician or political movement this compromise from our founding fathers completely represses voting and fairness in the modern age. Do not get me wrong when it was framed and first put into place it was valid; but for god sakes we have put liquid cheese in a can that we can spray on crackers, you think we would update our election system in say the last 150 years.

Under the Electoral College system, we do not vote for the president, but for a slate of electors, who actually elect the president. Who are the electors? Well that depends on what state you are from. Also they do need to agree with our popular vote results; which has happened 158 times since the founding of the system.

Why Do We Have the Electoral College?

A long time ago we were composed of only 13 states that did not trust each other very much and were suspicious of a central national government. We had no coherent and structured communication system across thousands of miles of land up and down the Atlantic Ocean. We also did not yet have political parties; in fact many Americans felt that political parties could be actually rather evil. State power not Federal power was the philosophy of the day; yet we needed a system that everyone could agree on and would provide an elected head official of our federal government.

Since 1800′s there have been over 700 attempts to amend the Electoral College system none have succeeded. Why? To change the Constitution both the House and the Senate must pass the amendment with at least two-thirds majority.

So Why Does it Still Exist?

We are not in fact a democracy; we are a republic. Democracy is when decisions are made from majority vote; we have a Representative Republic kind of like in Star Wars. You know that thing the Jedi protected but was actually really corrupt and became the Empire.

Also if you can get a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate to abolish the Electoral College then legislatures in 38 of 50 states still must ratify the change to the Constitution.

For me it boils down to this. Both entrenched political parties love this system; it basically suppresses the rise of a third political party and keeps their power absolute.

Why? Because a third party will never be able to gain the majority of the vote in multiple states and/or in sufficient volume to unseat the existing parties. And if they do make enough of a dent it will most likely simply prevent both of the existing parties to get to the magic 270 Electoral College votes needed to win. What happens if we do not get to 270 well a two party controlled House of Reps gets to pick our next president and vice president of the US. I hope you paid attention to your state races people.

Sure third party’s have had influence in modern elections…Perot certainly made it easier for Clinton to beat Bush Sr; and Nader may have actually cost Gore (whom won the popular vote) the Whitehouse. But with the Electoral College in place the two parties are left in an environment in which they can truly not have to compromise. Most disgusting is that the Democrats despite having a candidate whom the majority of Americans voted for president (500,000 more) could not find the political will to end the system that did not elect him. The Democratic party chooses to play the hand that keeps it in a power position and not worry about the people they supposedly represent. For the humanist party this is simply unbelievable and for me unforgivable.

Since 1900, only three third party candidates have taken Electoral College votes Wallace in 1968 took 46 votes; before that we have to go back to Storm Thurmond in 1948; and than to LaFollette in 1924

In many other democracies around the world a collation government must be formed that allows for groups to compromise on views and better meet the will of the public.

A two legged stool does not stand up; unless it is propped up against a wall. In this case a wall of lies and corruption and power.

My Top Reasons for Wanting to Abolish the Electoral College

  1. Unless you live in Maine or Nebraska The candidate winning the most popular votes in a state gets all of the votes in that state. Thus if you voted for Bush (not Kerry) in PA your vote did not count. Unless you lived in Minnesota or Washington DC a vote for Mondale never counted as Regan took every other state in this country in 1984.
  2. The Electoral College is based on old population data and does not move with the current actual population. Its clear today that based on current population density some states should gain electoral votes (e.g. Texas, Florida) and some should lose (e.g. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio).
  3. Swing states like California, Texas, Florida, New York all have too much power focusing candidates to their benefit or detriment on only a handful of states; when is the last time since Regan has a Republican tried to do anything in California how about a Democrat in Texas?
  4. Smaller states like sparse Wyoming are over represented as they need to get the minimum of three votes; this means Florida and California get under represented
  5. Ron Paul supports the Electoral College (just kidding, he does support it thou)

    If you support change, well this is the thing to change. With the Electoral College gone; third parties will have more influence on politics and allow for more sensible polices that better represent the full will of the people. Without this change, no real lasting change will ever really ever occur. America was to be a free nation with fairly elected officals.

    One Person One Vote…End the Electoral College

    Jack is a Pennsylvania resident for the last 20 years, and is actually involved in local and state politics. While not an elected official himself; he thinks he will run for local office at sometime in his life. Jack is a moderate; and has been both a Registered Republican and a Registered Independent over the years.

    A transformational weekend

    This past weekend we volunteered for Philadelphia Cares, an event that brings people together to clean up city schools and parks. We were sent to the Mastery Charter School in West Philadelphia. This school was so well run, so clean, we really weren’t needed. It gave me faith in public schools again. As we went through the school, I was in an English classroom where I saw a sign that read the following:

    I Love Islam

    I wondered how this sign would play in South Carolina. Of course I wondered why would this sign be any different than seeing a cross in a public school. The difference is because we’ve defined Islam as being bad or evil. Think about how an Islamic American child must feel being in this country, and hated. Then I saw Colin Powell endorse Barack Obama this weekend.

    Powell put to words things that were in my mind. When that awful woman said to John McCain that Barack Obama was Ay-rab the thing that struck me wasn’t what she said, but John McCain’s response to it. Obama wasn’t an “Ay-rab”, he was a decent family man – implying that a Muslim person couldn’t possibly be a decent family man. I picked up on this. Colin Powell picked up on it too and responded very eloquently. He also commented on the Palin nomination and the overall tone of the campaign. Only two more weeks to go and it seems like the world is waking up.

    Looking forward to tomorrow’s continuation of the Not Spencer series with Jack on Wednesday and the 49 Percenter on Thursday.

    Not Spencer: My Evolution on Presidential Politics

    Today’s Not Spencer submission is from fellow blogger Howard Hall.   Unlike his regular blog, Nonbreakingspace.com, today he gets to speak in more than a Haiku.

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    There was a time when I supported John McCain. I even voted for him in the Republican primary. But that was eight years ago. Both John McCain and I have changed quite a bit in the interim. Or maybe we both just discovered who we really are.

    As for me, I’ve long since changed my voter affiliation to independent, even though most of my core ideas have remained the same. I guess I just realized how poorly the Republican reality matched my ideas.

    For years I took for granted the rightwing assertions of rampant tax-and-spend liberals. But then I started to wonder why conservative heroes like Ronald Reagan and, more recently, George W. Bush were such prolific contributors to the national debt — while a Democrat named Bill Clinton has been the only president in my lifetime to balance a federal budget. So when Barack Obama suggests returning to Clinton-style fiscal policy, I see a higher likelihood of competence and fiscal responsibility in him than I do in his opponent, who pledges to emulate the policies of the current administration.

    Coming from a working class family, I have always paid attention to issues that affect working class people. And these are issues that Obama seems to care more about than McCain. Several analyses have concluded that working people will see greater tax relief from an Obama administration. This doesn’t even take into account McCain’s resurrection of a Bush initiative to treat employer-based health care as taxable income, which strangely, sounds like a tax increase.

    And on the topic of health care, I also happen to agree with a Wall Street Journal opinion piece calling Obama’s proposal better than what McCain has to offer.

    While my choice for this election is broadly based on issues, I believe that one much-maligned item on Barack Obama’s resumé also plays a role: his experience as a community organizer.

    When Sarah Palin joked in her acceptance speech about community organizing, and went on to say the world “doesn’t just need an organizer,” it was clear to me she had no concept of what she was criticizing. For generations, community organizers of all stripes have been the best, if not only, way to kickstart meaningful reform and educate regular people about their rights and responsibilities. After eight years of a President who told us to go shopping while he immersed us deeper into war, there are few qualities we need more in a leader than those possessed and practiced by a community organizer. And judging from a campaign that’s registered unprecedented numbers of new voters, it’s clear Barack Obama still knows a thing or two about community organizing.

    Which brings me to one last idea my conservative parents have ingrained in me: real change has to come from the people. This year I’m choosing a candidate who not only talks about grassroots change, but also knows how to cultivate it.

    Howard Hall
    nonbreakingspace.com