September 7, 2008

Not This Time, Not This Year

When I think about the presidential race I am reminded of old Kung Fu flicks, a story of a two masters. Two masters, an elder, and the apprentice. Let’s say these two masters are going out on a journey of challenges and were given a chance to take one companion along to assist them, someone who could possibly complete it for them. One of them have chosen and apprentice and the other an elder.

The master, who chose the apprentice, has chosen someone with lesser years and even lesser knowledge which makes it a teacher-student relationship. It is unlikely that the teacher will ever agree with anything the student says and would rarely seek advice from the student because of the nature of the relationship, it’s antagonistic—and intimidating. By choosing the student the master reinforces his power position as master. The student is expected to be patient and learn from the teacher, but the student pushes because they are eager. It is likely the teacher will only consult the student after a decision is made and would do so as a test, to see how the student’s education is going; the student is beholden to the master. By choosing someone younger the master enhances his physical strength. He does not want someone of his years who may not be able to complete the journey. This master is John McCain. He has chosen to preserve the future of the Republican Party by choosing Sarah Palin; she is the fearless apprentice eager to carry the mantle of the republicans into the future. But in choosing her McCain weakens his position, neutralizing the main argument he used against Obama, it shows the arrogance of McCain, daring the country to challenge this choice. John McCain has chosen someone who can only serve him and the Republican Party, because she has not developed the bonafide or the knowledge base to go it alone, but when her education is complete she is in a position to run for the presidency giving her an advantage over anyone candidate that comes along she will be become a master.

The other master has chosen an elder-someone who could have taught him, the elder was a master once himself. Applying the same theory, when people go to an elder they usually go for advice. It is a relationship built from respect and modesty, although the elder is in service to the master, this relationship is more balanced. It is unlikely that there would be a situation the elder is not familiar with, if given a task the elder need not be given instructions, his skills are equal to that of the master but his knowledge surpasses. In choosing the elder this master reinforces his base of knowledge and his expediency—he is able cover more ground. He has chosen someone who can function independently. Surely this pair will have disagreements but this master is more likely to consult the elder prior to making a decision and information from the elder will be weighted heavily in the solution. In choosing this person the master is showing that he is fearless and determined to complete the challenge. While exposing his vulnerability he has chosen based on the one thing no one can attest to, that they know everything, it is the weakness of all mankind. This master is Barack Obama. In choosing Joe Biden, Obama shows he is willing to listen, and take into consideration the opinion of others. He is also showing respect for the mission by choosing someone who is wise. Someone whom he knows will be beholden to the American people. Instead of choosing someone who can be the future of the Democratic Party he chose a president for the future of America, what he is saying is the future of the Democratic Party is now.

I am one who wants to know why after having five months to make a decision on a running mate did John McCain chose to introduce this novice to the country with such little time for us to get to know her. If this was going to be the choice, why didn’t he announce her earlier? The Obama campaign had his veters out there the next Sunday on Meet the Press answering questions. John McCain says he wants transparency but he is not running a transparent campaign. Stephen Colbert reported Sarah Palin was recommended to the Republican Party by some kid who started a “draft Sarah Palin” page. I am one who wants to hear from John McCain why he made this choice and how he came to this decision. I believe in making this choice John McCain has ignored all the evidence that shows that most of America is not to the right but square in the middle on issues. To chose someone who does not represent that lends to the argument that we must examine the ideology of Governor Palin and the real record of John McCain. The fact is that people want a sensible solution that will be beneficial to the majority of Americans, it may not be fair to everyone but where there is no fairness you should be able to find justice. The majority of the people do want some government run programs, they want efficient government. Most Americans want common sense solutions that allow people to be themselves while understanding that we are linked as a nation and we will rise or fall as such.

When it comes to the republican convention, the imagery that I had while watching the convention were disturbing, and emphasized why we need to heal this country. I thought of cigars, and fat-cats, golf, and backroom deals, and old traditions. As an African American other images that came to mind I’m sure was different than a lot of people, and sometimes I can’t understand why people don’t get that. In a nutshell white Americans look back at history and see something rosy, some black Americans look back at history and see a little slavery not that we don’t love the country but that part of history is just a fact. So when you see a scene like the one at the convention you wonder how far we have really come. Anyway, what I also saw were old white men, fawning over Sarah Palin. They were saying Sarah was “hot”, and they had clips of her high heels, clearing exploiting her gender, so I see a lot of sexism going on in the Republican Party. The problem with that is they are the party of morals.

The way the media is now, with all the coverage of Sarah Palin I’m afraid that once again we are seeing the marketing of something, the marketing of Sarah Palin. It reminds me of the marketing of the Iraq war. There is no more reporting. The cable channels have turned into something like televised talk radio, just commentary and little facts; they are operating from a stand point of swaying opinion and not providing information. You have establishments like FOX News which is clearly leaning towards one party which is the Republican Party; the Republican candidates are promoted heavily there. They are also functioning as the research department of the Republican Party. When the Democrats put up a candidate FOX goes out and get all the information about the candidate and they are able to put that information out, slanting it and influencing voters and in some cases guiding the rest of the media because the news channels all pick up stories from each other these days, the Rev. Wright controversy was such and example. It’s a weird time, exciting because of the politics, but scary because of the media. I am concerned the media is more influential now than ever and I don’t think people are picking up on just how influential and dangerous the media is. The punditry on MSNBC laughable, they do have radicals on like Pat Buchanan who worked for Nixon, how long ago was that? He is one promoting the old style politics and even older ideas. CNN is unsure what type of channel they are going to be, but I suspect they are slanted towards the Republicans. The media is heavily involved in the way people make decisions about these candidates and I am afraid it favors one side; I doubt we will ever get the real facts about Governor Palin and John McCain.

As far as her speech at the republican convention I thought she “delivered” and I stressed delivered a good speech. I feel a good speech has to evoke conviction, I did not feel any conviction, or passion coming from Sarah. I did not see wisdom only strength in Sarah, vice-President “Pit-bull”, someone condescending, and a little self righteous. Her and Rudy Giuliani’s comment about community organizing was very insulting to people in the country who work on behalf of their community trying to make it a better place, the impact of this might show its head on election day. You couldn’t get more of an impression of her from that first speech, and all her subsequent speeches have been a repeat of the convention speech, she has not answered any questions. What we know is she is a former beauty contestant, PTA member, city council member, mayor of a population of about five to seven thousand of which she received about sixteen hundred votes, and now governor. There are rumors questioning her integrity, honesty, and fundamentalist views. She is under investigation for abuse of power, she is accused of lying about her pregnancy, trying to ban books from the town library, her teenage daughter is pregnant and she thinks abstinence only education is best, and she has a special needs child. It is also been said when she was mayor, the town was run by an administrator appointed by party leaders and the town was left millions of dollars in dept. Sarah worked part time—makes sense since the town is small and not a bad deal for a mother. This gave her time to work with her husband fishing and tend to her children. Her experience in no way matches that of Obama (a Constitutional Law Professor, Civil Rights Attorney, State Senator, Author, US Senator, and yes—a community organizer, which may be his greatest success because he has been able organize the Democratic Party and most of the country), and should not be compared to his but to that of Joe Biden. The main standard that should be used when assessing Sarah is the standards set forth by the Republican Party.

Other than cries of sexism, we have no answers from Governor Palin or the Republican Party regarding her political and social views or in defense of her record which she talks about on the campaign trail or the rumors swirling around her. The statement about her daughter is the only one she has made other than her stump speeches. I didn’t like the deception in it either, the way she covered up her daughter and had her holding the baby during the initial introduction. One of the main questions I have about Sarah is the fact that she has five kids and the attention it has brought to their lives. As a mother that concerns me and I don’t like when anyone tells me that I shouldn’t look at that, I don’t think that’s fair because then I have to disregard my experience when judging Sarah Palin. As a concerned individual who loves this country I want to make sure the best person gets into the job, this is a job interview. This woman is applying to be our Vice President and we have nothing to go on but the word of John McCain. If she wants to be the Vice President, which is a very high powered position, before we give a person that power we need to know what we are getting. We’ve already seen what can happen when we don’t have the right person in that office. She is coming as a novice, and we have very little time to find out who she is, what she stands for, what direction she thinks the country should go, and how she would govern if given the opportunity. We are asking question because we have never seen her before.

When someone is a mother, and I am one, I don’t know how you couldn’t put family first. It’s not that she’s mother however, it’s all that’s going on in her life. People will say what about the dad, but during the convention, that dad held that baby for about two minutes. If she had adult children, or fewer children, maybe I would feel different. Also one of her children is about to have a baby, that’s a red flag. It’s not like her daughter is of age and having a baby, it’s not a reflection of the child, but it is a reflection of the parents. Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton are twenty five years old and people were asking about their parents? Was Palin too busy as governor that she did not have time for her children and now we have to ask ourselves do we take this woman away from her family by promoting her? Is that the kind of employer we want to be? Maybe we are able to see something about Sarah Palin's family that she can’t see for her self.

Five children, a special needs child, a pregnant teen, a son going to Iraq, very little experience in world politics, and now you are going to being in line to govern one of the largest military and economy in the world, second to a seventy year old. That’s a lot on someone plates. As the people who are making this decision about Sarah we have to take these actions into consideration because they are all we know of her. We also have a right to say we feel this person has too much on their plate; they have too much going on. We have a right to make that judgment; we are the American people the ones to decide who gets the job. No one should tell us how to make the decision, and it’s the same for Obama. When Obama's children went on television people made comments, if we had determined that his girls were brats it would have affected the way I felt about Obama. But we learned after getting whatever information we did and determined, yes they are beautiful children and all the talk went away.

For Governor Palin to hold her daughter up as an example and says she supports her daughters “decision” to have the baby she put her daughters pregnancy on the table. She is announcing that her daughter made a decision that fits into a policy that she believes. Because of Governor Palin’s religious beliefs and their possible impact on her policy we should ask questions. This is a woman who doesn’t believe in sexual education in schools, and rumored to have tried to ban books from a library. All this says she doesn’t believe in information. We have to ask questions, like what about abstinence? Did your daughter plan to have a baby and is this something she discussed with her? If she didn’t, with this new information has Governor Palin changed any of her views? The past two administrations are clear examples of why we need to know more about the candidates, is there going to be a scandal that is going to embarrass us later. Governors Palin’s answers to these questions will influence my decision about her, this is a personal issue but these are people who want to govern the most intimate decision in the lives of women from Washington DC, so if they want to do that, before we give them that much power, we have every right to examine them thoroughly, so these are all relevant questions.

I picked up on two policy issues at the republican convention, one was education and the other was the Iraqi war. The republicans talked about a choice based education system.

A choice based education plan is a plan for failure. It means that schools, even new charter schools will have the potential to become failures again. When politicians talk about failing schools they just don’t realize how silly they sound. The schools are primarily failing because of politicians. The school system is stagnant by bureaucracy.

It often takes about fifty memos and twice as many people to accomplish one thing. This is the richest country in the world, our schools should not be failing, and the fact that politicians hold that up as a reason for choice is shameful. A choice/voucher program is putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Should our school systems continue to be failures, we need to clean up and fix the broken systems. We do this by holding people accountable and putting people with integrity and the best interest of our children into the position of teachers and administrators. Rewarding teachers with a fair salary for the important job they do. One thing for sure our children should have a quality education, they shouldn’t be scrimping for supplies, and they should be able to get two decent meals at school.

The republicans also advocated continuing the Iraq war to victory but did not outline what that victory looked like or how they might achieve that. My opinion on Iraq is bring in NATO and instead of ridiculing the United Nations all the time lets be of service to them. Let’s show respect for other nations and their sovereignty and we do this by working through and cooperating with the United Nations. We could have committed our troops as UN troops. We criticize the UN but we can transform it, we must be an example to the rest of the world, as Obama’s visit showed, they are waiting for America to lead. I agree that we should provide financial assistance to the Iraqi as well as job opportunities for Americans and Iraqis in Iraq. Not for Corporations, but for non-profit organizations, using our outreach programs like Americorp, or Peace corps, we should send our peace ambassadors not our military to assist the Iraqis. This is how we should approach the Iraqis, we have to give the Iraqis the freedom to pull themselves back to dignity, and anything else would create a sense of false pride. Whether or not the surge worked is a moot argument because we simply should not have been there.

To me the fact that John McCain was a POW and tortured in a military camp is enough to exclude him from the presidency. I see that the same as someone who may have been in a mental facility. We know that people who have been though such traumatic experience could very well snap or have developed some hidden aggressions. We know that he has a very bad temper. We would not put someone who has been through extensive mental punishment into the presidency as we should not put someone who has been through these severe forms of torture in the presidency. We also know that he made certain statements while in captivity, it bothers me that someone who did that should be elevated to the position of the presidency. We should examine that part of his biography, because he puts it out there. The fact that he throws it out there all the time is also a reason to worry. He uses the POW story as a crutch, a wedge, and a bludgeon, how many ways are you going to use this one story. He is running as if the country owes him the presidency because he was a POW, but we have already rewarded him by electing him to congress and giving him twenty six years, we should not however give him the presidency. John McCain sees this as a plus I see it as a minus.

The most appalling thing about John McCain is the fact that he votes against veterans, the scandal of Walter Reed Hospital, and his stance on torture--which he is for. The fact that it took Obama going to congress to expose the conditions at the Walter Reed Veterans Medical Center while John McCain sat in congress all that time is just another reason why John McCain should not be president. After touting his POW experience as reason why he has character to be president I was surprised to learn of John McCain’s consistent voting against increasing military salaries and veterans benefits. He wants to allocate funds based on service time, and I guess if you were a POW you should get to be president. He is for torture, I am wondering if he wants to be able to do to someone what they did to him.

John McCain said “we went to Washington to change it and Washington changed us”. So he agreed he was changed by Washington. With all his declaration of independence from George Bush and Washington it doesn’t erase the twenty-six years he has been there. Where was his leadership all this time, bringing the country together and working across the aisle? How come he hasn’t gotten more done, how come he hasn’t gotten rid of the earmark. He wants to do that now, but he’s been there for years, he has had the opportunity. That’s when his leadership should have come out and it didn’t, he has been a mediocre member of congress, not an outstanding member and became a “celebrity” member of congress when he started running for president in 2000. Why didn’t he call for investigations into his own party when they were abusing power and leaking CIA information, and awarding no-bid contracts to their friends? Not only has he agreed with the policies but he agreed with the conduct of the Bush administration. Now he wants to say he is a maverick and he is about change but where is the proof? I don’t see what he has contributed significantly outside of his military experience.

2004 is the year John McCain and even Hillary Clinton should have run. If John McCain wanted to prove he was a maverick he should have run against George Bush in 2004. That’s when he should have showed us what he was made of, that’s when he should have taken on his own party, when it counted---not after thousands of people have died and our country is divided and falling apart structurally. He could have laid out a plan to end the war, to open up government, stop the bleeding economy. In 2004 the country was begging for direction and leadership, our children are dying, prices were rising, and bridges were falling down. We knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, and it was possible the administration had lied to the country in order to go to war. Democrats had called for investigation after investigation to advance the conversation and get to the truth about the war but were stonewalled by the Republican congress. Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich were out there and the media and the opposition made them out to be crazy.

I don’t think Hillary Clinton should have been president either this time around. The simple reason, she voted with George Bush, for the war, was enough for me. Coming out of the white house after eight years, I feel she should have known more and did better on that vote and that’s why her argument of experience did not work. I understand that they were under pressure during the lead up to the war but they should have made a better case to the American people, these were people that we looked to for leadership. I don’t think anyone who voted for the war should be president in 2008, maybe in 2004 when it didn’t matter whether you voted for it just that you end it. Hillary was held accountable for voting for the war that is why she is not the Democratic nominee; in 2004 she might have gotten it. Joe Lieberman’s, bid for re-election was one the first signs that things were about to change when he lost his democratic primary for re-election having to run as an independent. All the seats that are turning are Democrats holding people accountable. The Republicans do not believe in holding their members accountable.

If John McCain had run against George Bush in 2004, that would have been a bolder move and truly standing up to his party and putting country first, but John McCain remained silent and supported the re-election of George Bush. It seems like for eight years John McCain put George bush first and his dream of the presidency first, and now he says he want to put country first. Where has he been the past eight years?

In this entire malarkey one person rose above the “noise and static”, the only respected voice was Barack Obama, risking backlash not from the obvious enemies, those who declare their hatred for Americans, but from those who claim to love America. People who weren’t waving the flag and condoning everything George Bush did was basically shut out of the conversation and chastised as unpatriotic and un-American. They were saying “IF YOU’RE NOT WITH US, YOU’RE AGAINST US”. It was under those conditions that Obama spoke out against the war.

This is an election about taking our country back, and I see John McCain has finally gotten that message because he is now copying the change message of his opponent, but unfortunately it’s too late for John McCain this is not “change you can Xerox”. We are not going to accept that argument, because I don’t think John McCain has behaved any differently than George Bush and now its time to hold John McCain accountable.

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