Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A good weekend, a bad day, and a religious experience:

First, the good weekend: CNN polls scored the debate 51-38 in favor of Obama. Obama did not score a knockout, but he did get some good licks in, including the best shot of the night. Also, today's issue of USA Today had some very encouraging numbers for the junior Senator from Illinois. And that's not even counting what I noticed last night on RealClearPolitics, with North Carolina joining Virginia in the very slightly BLUE category. Even if that doesn't hold, that forces McCain and the RNC to use critical resources that are even more necessary in Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. Excellent weekend for us Democrats.

I don't think I have to explain how today was a bad day. If you have CNN, you pretty well know that the Dow and the S&P tanked today. I'm not sold on the bailout. However, things don't look pretty, and something has to be done. If that's a bailout or a payback scenario, so be it, but in the coming years, the absolute number ONE priority for this nation must be getting out of debt. The National Debt is approaching $10 TRILLION. That's pretty scary. To put that into perspective, last year's GDP was $13.81 trillion, which leaves us with a debt hovering around 70% of our annual GDP and rising. This is a national security issue, a human rights issue, an economic issue, and more. Hell, it touches on pretty much every single priority we have and need to have, and over the last eight years, the only thing that's happened is its growth. I want the United States of America to exist for the generations to come, but the national debt has become an existential problem. This deeply troubles me.

On a lighter note, I'm finally posting a video of the religious experience I had this weekend. This pretty well covers it. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some scenarios to consider:

All of the states for which I have changed the alignment are within the margin of error. It is worth noting that, in Florida, Obama has narrowed McCain's lead from 5% to 2.8% in less than one week, and his lead in Colorado, Michigan, and other key states have expanded again.

Let's examine four possible scenarios I consider well within the realm of possibility.

Scenario 1 has Obama 273, McCain 265, and merely requires that Obama keep all of his current holdings.

Scenario 2 has Obama 298, McCain 240, and requires that Obama keep all of his current holdings except for Maryland (could substitute Maryland for Colorado, which would be more likely and be +1 Obama compared to this) AND take Ohio and North Carolina, though North Carolina could be substituted with Virginia for a -2 Obama and +2 McCain. This is not quite a landslide, but a significant defeat and probably the end of McCain's career in politics.

Scenario 3 is about as optimistic as you'll ever find me with Obama winning 320 Electoral Votes to McCain's 218. This requires Obama to maintain his current holdings and gain Ohio and Florida. While this would not qualify as a textbook definition of a landslide, well, a 102 point win in a 538 point contest isn't anything to laugh at. This would almost certainly end McCain's career in politics, if not in deed, then by every practical measure.

Finally is my Nightmare Scenario, which has Senator Obama tied with Senator McCain at 269 Electoral Votes each. This would require simply Obama losing Colorado's 9 Electoral Votes and gaining Nevada's 5 Electoral Votes. This would give McCain the win for the reasons outlined in my previous response, unless more states' House delegations go blue. The political fallout for the loser would be unknown, but the fallout for this nation if McCain wins would be grave. While the odds of Obama losing Colorado drop daily, I included this scenario to show exactly how little it would take to turn this election cycle into a nightmare. Two little changes, one positive, one negative, can lead to a disastrous outcome.

Now, instead of music, I think I'll close this post with some humor to lessen the blow of my last comment, and to remind us of some freedoms we've lost. Enjoy.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, September 18, 2008

270 or bust:

I had meant to do a number of posts in the last week, but realizing I was not in the proper frame of mind to do so, I opted to be silent and not expose my folly. This, however, is something I found interesting and did not fully understand until last night, and with that understanding comes a troubled mind. It seems that with a tie or a plurality, which is not very likely given our current two-party system, it does go to the newly elected House of Representatives to decide who becomes the next president. The last time this happened was after the 1824 Presidential elections, and when that happened, the rules as stated in the Twelfth Amendment make for a rather byzantine process.

True, it would go to the House of Representatives, which you would think would be good news for Obama with a blue Congress. However, you would be wrong, because each state gets only one vote, and if the Congressional delegation is evenly split, that state is considered to be abstaining. According to the political prediction markets and current polling data, Senator Obama currently has 22 states plus DC, which would give him 273 electoral votes and a win. After exhaustive effort, I found that I could not determine the breakdown of the 50 states' House delegations at any point before the sun turns into a cold, hard cinder, or at least before I put a heavy object through my monitor out of frustration. However, let's work with the numbers I do have. That means 28 states for McCain, and 22 states for Obama, which means that if the Electoral Vote is split 269-269, we're probably looking at President McCain.

I wrote this post because we need to do everything we can to encourage people to vote in this, the single most important election of the last half century. It is my fervent belief, after exhaustive research of both major candidates and those who fell during the primaries, that Senator Obama and Senator Biden are our best, and perhaps last, hope to restore the freedoms we once enjoyed in this great nation. I'm ready for November 4. Are you?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reflections on 9/11/01: Seven Years Later

The seventh anniversary will occur tomorrow, and in all that time, we've learned the wrong lessons. A large part of me wants to be angry, but I just can't manage it right now. Either way, I can do nothing about it alone.

On September 11, 2001, 2,974, excluding the 19 hijackers and the 24 people still missing, lost their lives. Many more are suffering, physically and/or emotionally, as a result of these attacks. I truly do not wish to seem like I'm making light of this horror. However, during Hurricane Katrina, 1,836 people lost their lives with 705 people still missing, and that's not counting those who lost their lives due to increased crime rates, preexisting medical conditions exacerbated by the extreme heat and stress, and those who took their own lives. During Pearl Harbor, 2,402 people died, and over 1,200 were wounded. The impact to our naval assets in the Pacific was even greater. Finally, 168 people died at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, when it was bombed; 800+ were injured.

These are all large numbers, each with a terrible toll in lives lost and hearts broken. However, let's take some more numbers from one of the years since then, 2005. If you want to check these figures, here's the link. The numbers are: 652,091; 559,312; 143,579; 130,933; 117,809; 75,119; 71,599; 63,001; 43,901; 34,136; 32,637; 27,530; 24,902; 19,544; 18,124; and 433,800. I will combine the number of missing in the terrorist acts, act of war, and natural disaster listed in the previous paragraph, while excluding the 19 hijackers, to arrive at a combined figure of 8,109 dead in those catastrophes. 8,109 is a terrible number, a terrible toll in lives taken. Let's look at that long list of other numbers, though. Those are the number of dead in 2005 of the following causes in the order they are shown above: diseases of the heart; cancers; cerebrovascular diseases; chronic lower respiratory diseases; accidents; diabetes mellitus; Alzheimer's disease; influenza and pneumonia; nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis; septicemia; suicide; chronic liver disease and cirrhosis; primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease; Parkinson's disease; homicide; and all other causes. This brings a total of 2,448,017 people who died in the United States in 2005. That amounts to the combined toll of these tragedies dying every 1,741 minutes, or if you want to look at 9/11, that's one 9/11 every 643.7 minutes, give or take. Think about that.

After Oklahoma City, the terrorists didn't win. After Pearl Harbor, another nation-state did not win. After Katrina, to be brutally honest, nobody won. However, after the September 11, 2008 terrorist attacks, the terrorists won. They didn't win by destroying several buildings in New York City, or by crashing an airplane into the Pentagon, or by crashing an airplane into a field in Pennsylvania. Buildings can be rebuilt. Lives, while the pain lasts for all those who lost someone in that attack, go on. No, the lasting victories for the terrorists occurred in Congress, in the White House, and in the other halls of power in our government. The lasting victories occurred when people were taken off the streets and subjected to "extraordinary rendition" or "enhanced interrogation" or had their communications illegally intercepted, or whenever an innocent has their name wrongfully placed on a "terrorist watch list" with no notification or recourse. The terrorists' lasting victories occur every time a police officer decides to use excessive or unnecessary force. But most importantly, the terrorists' lasting victories occur every time one of our freedoms, the selfsame freedoms many of our ancestors and other loved ones fought and died for, is abridged in the name of "national security." We have friendly neighbors to our north and south. We need not fear them, and in fact, we should love them as we do ourselves. No, the most likely way our nation will be destroyed is from within, and such is not a new state of affairs.

I love this nation. I love its most noble ideals. I love its people. Hell, I even love the backwater I'm from. How, then, must it hurt to see this nation succumbing to a cancer within? I want people to hurt, and I want them to be angry, and I want to see PEACEFUL protests not unlike what we've seen with Critical Mass. But most importantly, I want to see that spirit of protest carried into each polling place in the United States of America. For those who have done well, to those who have defended our rights and fulfilled the duties of their office responsibly, reward them with your support. However, for those who have abridged our freedoms for their own ends, for those who have not been good stewards of the nation with whose future they have been entrusted, show them your wrath by voting for someone who WILL listen and protect our freedoms. Show them your wrath by telling them "NO MORE! DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!" No more.

I said earlier that I'm not angry, and it's true. I'm not angry. The anger is gone. All that's left is a bone-weariness and sorrow for what we've lost, for what we've allowed ourselves to lose. We screwed up as a people, either directly through our actions, or indirectly by voting the wrong people in and standing silent. It is time for us to correct our mistakes, through peaceful means. We are a nation of laws and of respect for differing opinions. We are a nation of respecting others' right to peacefully express their opinions. It is through these means, and these means alone, that lasting, positive change can occur.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton once said the following at a speech in 1866: "A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power." In that sense, we are in desperate need of reform. I am no revolutionary. I am merely someone who is starving for reform.

I will close this post with a moment of Zen from one of my favorite musicians, Moby. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Post 300: The wisdom of Earl Warren and the sad realization of an irony

It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of those liberties which make the defense of the nation worthwhile.

It is those words upon which I reflect tonight. I spoke to a mindless Republican drone earlier today who said that I supported Senator Obama because I'm a Democrat. The simple truth is the reverse: I became a Democrat long after I became a supporter of Senator Obama and, in large part, as a direct result of his integrity and leadership.

After months of exhaustive research, I voted for Senator Obama on January 29, although, in accordance with DNC and RNC rules and through compromise, that vote was not counted until February 5 of this year. However, I did not first self-identify as a Democrat until some time last week. In the end, I realized that the Republican Party in its current incarnation is an utter betrayal of many, if not most, of this nation's highest ideals. They are an embodiment of Chief Justice Warren's aforementioned irony. As a result, I could no longer continue to commit treason against my conscience or betray this country or its future by aligning with the GOP, as libertarians are often wont to do in the absence of a Libertarian Party candidate.

It's a cop-out and an abdication of one's responsibility to think rationally to say that I only support Senator Obama because I'm a Democrat. It presupposes the wrong question and the wrong answer. The question is not, "Why do I support Obama?" The answer is not "Because I'm a Democrat." The correct question is, "Why did I become a Democrat?" I voted for Bob Dole in 1996, and I voted for Bush the Dumber in 2000 and 2004. This party switch was in no way easy for me, and in fact, was a very long time in coming. With my earlier conservative roots, I still favor shrinking and localizing government and making it more responsive to the people. The GOP is no longer that party, but even if it were, it would not have been enough for me to stay. I still remember asking a nice older lady why she was a conservative when I was a young adult and a staunch conservative, and she said, "Because I love freedom." In the many years since, that has stayed with me, and that is ultimately why I can no longer align myself with what had been my ideological home for so long when I was younger.

These days, it is the Democrats who favor and enact smaller, more responsive government. These days, it is the Democrats who fight for freedom and the rights and advancement of the average person. These days, it is the Democrats who are the last defenders of the Constitution of the United States of America. As a result, it is with the Democratic Party my loyalties must lie if I am to remain true to my country and to myself. The Democratic Party talks with pride about being a "big tent". As a civil libertarian, I feel at home here. Ideologically, I finally feel at peace with my own nature in a way I never did when I aligned myself with the GOP, even before they became too extreme. It feels nice. It feels warm, and I have never felt so free.

For those who would vote for McCain/Palin, I feel the need to caution you that, should the path set forth by Bush be continued or even more grossly perverted by Senator McCain and Governor Palin, we could easily become a police state, and those ideals for which our ancestors fought will have been for naught. If you love the America you grew up in, the America we all want to be passed on to the coming generations, the only real choice is a vote for Senators Obama and Biden on November 4. Our children and our future deserve nothing less.