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.  

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: 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

Not Spencer: Making A Case To Moderates: Embrace Your Intellect; Support Obama-Biden

In light of tomorrow’s debate, frequent commenter RadioCynic: a radio announcer, musician, blogger, Michael Penn and Aimee Mann fan is chiming in with his electoral thoughts.

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Big thanks to Spencer for this opportunity, as I never have the time to blog regularly, yet remain incapable of shutting up.

I’d like to speak to moderates and undecideds.   My qualification to do so might be that I spent much of my life considering myself a left-leaning moderate – always a “trying to see both sides”, mediating, conflict-avoidant type.   Although – no big surprise – the intolerant, unreasonable or embarrassing qualities of many conservatives have gradually pushed me far further into liberalism.

In choosing a political candidate, there are two overriding, almost equally important factors – a candidate’s stand on actual issues, and the voter’s visceral reaction to the candidate’s persona.

Please, do research the issues.   Politically-neutral websites like votehelp.org – a little flawed, but one of the easiest – are great for cutting through spin and seeing actual stands, along with showing voting records on specific issues important to you.   One can also find out if a candidate has mixed feelings or a mixed record on certain issues, which for many moderates is the “right” answer!   (Further bearing out my moderate credentials, the votehelp.org quiz has shown me 62% in agreement with some guy named John McCain … while 95% with Barack Obama.)   See how you compare.

But even more overwhelming in this election is our need to restore intelligence and reasoned thought to our executive branch, and through that, begin to repair the damages to the world’s perception of the US.   While I still give President Bush the benefit of the doubt that he couldn’t possibly be as dumb as he seems, I’m still no less flabbergasted that our country could have possibly (well, barely) elected him twice.   My only reservation about Senator Obama, which was his relative lack of experience, is outweighed by his consistent personification of just the intelligence and reasoned thought that we need to restore respect to the leadership of our country.

I first started realizing my drift to the left during the Reagan era.   (Yeah, I’m old…   Just consider it “wisdom” or something and go with it.)   Despite his “great communicator” moniker, I always found him just plain hokey, fake and condescendingly folksy…   Not necessarily dumb, but a bit of an empty vessel, one of the first to “communicate” mainly through cutesy sound bites.   Hmmm, yes… folksy… and in touch with “Joe Six-Pack”, perhaps.   The predecessor to similar “qualities” in Senator McCain and Governor Palin.   They might take that as a complement, but it’s not really meant that way.   (I’ll avoid talking in detail about Sarah Palin, lest I have no chance of maintaining the approximate 1000 words that Spencer asked for.     Darn right that we’re bein’ very blessed to be not goin’ there, since, y’know, it’d be a heckuva discussion, you betcha.   Aaargh.)

But just really quickly… as a public service to help us prevent repeating mistakes of the past, I may have developed a three-part litmus test to instantly and easily identify a dumb politician.       And though research is ongoing, I suspect it may just work for instantly recognizing dumb people in general:

1.      Consistently uses the pronunciations “Eye-raq” and “Eye-ran”.
2.      Consistently and somewhat jingoistically uses the term “America” in place of “United States of America” (ignoring the other 24 countries in North/Central/South America to infer that we’re the only one that counts.)
3.      One word, which could likely encompass the whole test in and of itself – “nucular”.

When, by the way, did intelligence and “elitism” become such a bad thing?   (I’m conveniently ignoring the classism portion of the definition here — I myself don’t necessarily have the education, or certainly the economic wherewithal to qualify.)   But shouldn’t we all be striving to be “elite”, at least when it comes to intelligence and good taste, rather than purposefully dumbing everything down?   I don’t want my president to be “Joe-six-pack-hockey-mom-bowler” that I want to have a freakin’ beer with.   (You know what, I don’t even drink beer, okay?   Maybe I might want a candidate I can drink a good vodka, a great cup of strong coffee or even a fine elitist red wine with.   So sue me.)   Bottom line, no matter what, I want a president who is WAY smarter than me.

But nothing has gone further to ensure my liberal lean than the closed-minded, entitled, mean-spirited and oft-bigoted writings and quotations of some of the scions of the far right, like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Rick Santorum.

So it was good ol’ Mr. Santorum that removed my last shred of doubt that I’d be supporting Senator Obama.   This past August, Mr. Santorum wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer, lambasting Senator Obama’s “untethered values”.   What he managed to do throughout his entire haughty, holier-than-thou, far-right article, was point out to me that Senator Obama’s values are so very close to my own.

“…in a 2004 interview … Chicago Sun-Times’ religion reporter Cathleen Falsani … asked the candidate, ‘What is sin?’   Obama’s response: ‘Being out of alignment with my values.’   ‘My values’!   I know many supporters see him as some kind of messiah, but what about God’s values?…”

Seems Mr. Santorum never considered the abstract concept that a religious person’s own values might be based on striving to match their concept of what God’s values might be, which by the way, most reasonable humans wouldn’t presume to know with certainty.

“… Another insight into Obama came when … asked about marriage.   ‘I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,’ he said.   ‘As a Christian, for me as a Christian, it’s also a sacred union.’   Sounds good, but wait. Obama opposes a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman.   He opposes similar attempts at the state level.   He has pledged to support judges that would redefine marriage from the bench.   Obama recently wrote a homosexual-rights group that ‘equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle …That’s why we have to repeal laws like the Defense of Marriage Act.   That’s why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws.’ … “

Yep, that one sounds good to me, too.   Gay people’s marriages have never diminished my own heterosexual marriage one bit, and it can be left to religious institutions to decide if they want to religiously “sanctify” them or not.

And the kicker was about abortion – admittedly such a sensitive topic to so many people.   I personally strongly support a woman’s right to choose (as does Senator Obama,) but I truly respect the opposing viewpoint, and most importantly, I hold a concept that Senator Obama summed up perfectly for me (again presented with disdain by Mr. Santorum.) –

” … Obama was asked at what point a baby gains human rights.   His answer: ‘That question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.’   The most debated moral issue of our time, and he feigns doubt before an audience of evangelical Christians …”

Welp, yeah.   But not “feigning” doubt.   It’s admitting honest doubt on a moral question that NO ONE on either side of this issue truly knows the answer to.   Straightforward honesty.   Because it IS above all of our pay grade, and wow, what a great answer.

Such intelligence, wit and honesty, and indeed even a willingness to admit when one does not have an answer, certainly appeals to my moderate “seeing both sides” tendencies.

So join us, fellow moderates (or um, y’know, liberals who used to be moderates.)   Get the facts, embrace your intellect, and support Senator Obama.   It’s never been more important.

– “radiocynic” is a Philadelphia radio announcer and musician, residing in an annoyingly reddish section of the very blue state of New Jersey. –

The “Not Spencer” series will continue tomorrow with a post from the other Howard of nonbreakingspace.com fame.