Vote and Hope

I’ve been in transit today and have yet to see any footage of the Stewart/Colbert rallies, but I did see a figure of 200,000 on The Mall. Regardless of what happens Tuesday, this gives me hope.

In transit, I’ve started listening to Ted Kennedy’s memoir True Compass. This gives me hope, too:

(Keep in mind, Kennedy had been undergoing aggressive treatment for brain cancer, and, then, when preparing for his convention appearance, suffered a kidney stone attack).

Make It Stop

My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.
– Governor of the 50th State, for whom English is her first and only language, I believe, and who, despite never having released her medical records, has no known history of stroke or brain injury, and whom 40% of Americans believed to have been qualified to be President of the United State

23 Hours Later: No Obama Love From Fox News

Just scanned the front pages of some major news organizations: 11/5/08 10PM ESTCNN shows how African-Americans are inspired by Obama’s win.
MSNBC.comMSNBC pictures a President-elect in command, but asks the tough question of how he’ll confront America’s tough challenges.
BBC NewsBBC News has a slideshow of the winning ticket and positive reaction from around the world, and offers links analyzing the monumental occasion from several angles.
Fox News 23 hours laterFox News, on the other hand, decided some time in the past 24 hours that visitors to their website didn’t want to see any photo reminders of the biggest story of the last 7 years and one of the biggest of their lifetimes. Instead, they focus on the nailbiter of a Senate race in Minnesota, emphasizing the the Republican Coleman “leads” the Democrat Franken, despite the fact that the current calculated lead is 0.01% of the total vote, state law requires a recount, and no news organization has called the race. The first Obama headline begins, “Obama failed…” The fourth headline refers to a Michelle Obama “style mishap”. The main headline section concludes with a story on Sarah Palin’s future plans.

In America, Anything Is Possible…

* As long as you’re not gay.

I have not yet read much reaction on the passage of California’s Proposition 8 or of the bans of same-sex marriage in other states or of the Arkansas ban of unmarried couples adopting. I first wanted to get my initial reactions out of the way, and then I am curious as to what part of my outrage is inappropriate or misplaced.

I heard Barack Obama say last night that, “In America, anything is possible,” and I heard a lot of people echo the cavalier notion that anyone can now, more than ever, be whatever they want to be in the United States of America. While I recognize–and rejoice at–the elevation of a black man to our nation’s highest office, the pinnacle in breaking down racial barriers, my suspicion is that gay people must be having a horrific time coming to terms with the realization that Americans also voted, on November 4, 2008, to put up new barriers to essential rights that were not previously explicit. Furthermore, gays cannot be whatever they want to be; they cannot legally be spouses to those they love with all their hearts. They cannot be loving parents, according to their fellow citizens. Their families are inferior.

Why do I care so much? I am not gay, and I don’t really have a lot of gay friends. Of course, I don’t have a lot of friends, period. So why do I care? Why do I take this slight so personally?

I may not be G, B, L, or T, but I am Different, different enough from your average straight guy that, at the age of 32 and for the past many years, I’ve been having one lousy time finding a partner to spend the rest of my life with, despite all the warts and all the bile, being a fairly decent guy, all things considered. However, supposing miracles do happen, and do I find this amazing woman who is out there, I can legally marry her. Assuming I find a woman who wants to marry me, the courts will be more than happy to sanction it.

Meanwhile, there are millions of Americans who have found the partners of their dreams. But the law states–and in many cases, validated by one’s own community–that marriage to their partners is invalid, that somehow it would be impure or simply wrong.

As a moral issue, I find it unconscionable.

“But the Bible says it’s wrong”. So if that is your interpretation, you should not enter into a gay marriage. We clearly cannot legislate everything that is forbid in the Bible. Everyone, I should hope, is aware of some of the absurd laws we would have to enact if were to take literal directives from the Holy Book and legislate them.

“Simply put, marriage is the union between one man and one woman. I’m not a bigot. They can have civil unions”. Everyone, I should hope, is aware of some word or words in the English language for which the meanings have changed over time. I don’t have a handy example. But etymologists spend their lives studying these words. So the definition of marriage will change. Two consenting adults will form a union that they wish the government and its citizens to recognize as a familial unit. Usually it will be one man and one woman. On occasion, it could be two women…or two men…or man and someone who does not want to identify with any gender. (Not man and dog, Rick Santorum). Not really a huge change. No one will insist that you approve of their marriage as a matter of personal opinion. Lots of married couples probably don’t belong together for lots of reasons. But are laws to prevent some consenting adults from marrying really necessary?

Anyway, the exit polls in California show that young people overwhelming were against the proposition banning gay marriage, and national polls have mirrored this sentiment. Sometime in the next 50 years, gay marriage will be a legal option in all 50 states, I am fairly certain. But it’s sad and it’s ironic to hear one group of people rightfully celebrate a dramatic milestone in their fight for equality while, at the same time, another group gets a collective slap in the face from its country, essentially told that their equality isn’t the cards for another 5 or 15 or 50 years.

I realize that most people with progressive values are not choosing today of all days to view the glass as half empty. I am different than most. So be it.

ADDENDUM Again, I don’t meant to gloss over the big picture of Obama’s win. I’ll let Colin Powell speak to that.

4 Years Later

Are we better off now than we were four years ago? Of course not, and I realize few people are, and that’s not a question I ask with regard to the 2008 election or to my life. I mention the question because I figured I probably had more intelligent things to say four years ago on the subject of the presidential election than I do at present. I think most of what I think and feel is best expressed via the words and videos of others, and that’s why I link to the blogs and videos of others more than I come up with any original thoughts.

While Republican pollsters are saying they cannot see a scenario under which McCain wins, I will not feel relieved until the election is called. Even then, pessimist that I am, I probably will still have a sick taste in my mouth from the millions of Americans who will have voted for McCain-Palin with the idea in their heads that Obama is an anti-American, socialist, terrorist-sympathizer. I think millions of people had some legitimate intellectual reasons for despising George W. Bush. But even the left-wing hatred of Bush did not boil over into regular death threats, and I can see that becoming the norm with Obama. Even now, at the cusp of a great, positive historical moment, I can’t help but fear how ugly things may become.

Anyway, I meant to revisit my thoughts of four years ago, so here does it…

It is finally here. Ever since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to recount the Florida votes in 2000, I’ve been anxious for this 2004 election, like millions of others. I don’t know what to think now. Some factors have broken Kerry’s way–the huge turnout possibilities, the narrowing of most swing states, the lack of any good news for Bush. But I wake up to hear that Ohio is going to be an absolute mess because of these challengers that will be allowed into voting precincts that were first barred by lower courts and then allowed by higher courts and then still allowed after John Paul Stevens refused to intercede at 2AM.

Friggin Ohio…

Four years ago, I stayed up until 5AM watching the coverage. I watched a lot of TV coverage of the post-2000-election events. I became so invested in that race and have not lost interest four years later.

Bush being president has added weight to any depression I have felt. I find most of his policies and views repugnant. Let me try to list these gripes here, now and forever, for the record:
– Bush has been horrible for the environment. I like what Al Franken has said, that the “Clear Skies” act has only succeeded in clearing the sky of birds. He made no aggressive moves to raise fuel economy standards. He has not been aggressive in clamping down on greenhouse gas emissions. He has refused to accept the overwhelming scientific evidence that there is global warming.

Another four years wasted on this front. John McCain is NOT Bush on this issue, to McCain’s credit.

– Tax policy. Just ridiculous. I understand that there is a legitimate opinion about how the tax distribution should be, but I’m on the side that firmly believes the wealthy can bear higher tax rates than the middle class and lower class. I don’t buy the trickle-down theories. And I do believe the government needs sufficient revenues to cover many fundamental social programs.

Four years later, you’ve got million of McCain voters and idiotic “undecideds” who don’t understand that all of your income will not suddenly be taxed at a higher rate if you earn over $250,000 under Obama. The graduated tax system we’ve had for a hundred years is suddenly socialism, even though neither McCain nor any of the other front-runners proposed a flat-tax. Most people crying socialism have no friggin clue what they are talking about.

– Iraq. Arrogant, unapologetic, stubborn, stupid.

Even if one takes the over-simplistic view that the “surge” worked, that doesn’t make the above untrue with regard to the first four years of the war.

– Social security. Privatization would be a disaster. For a party that believes in individual responsibility, it seems hypocritical to suggest that the government should help them invest in the stock market.

At least that idea died. There’s still a massive problem, but, frankly, Medicare needs to be fixed first. And then social security could be mostly fixed if they raised the damn income cap. Dems should throw a raising of the SS cap into some massive other bill. It will be a bitter bill for conservatives to swallow, but it would be good to get that albatross out of the way before 2012.

– Healthcare. The closer we get to universal healthcare, the better. A civilized society should take great care to ensure that its members have access to the best healthcare possible. Libertarians believe in survival of the fittest, basically, and Republicans believe that corporations can manage all of it.

This is the one issue I care about more than any other. To those who don’t want the government involved in health care, I really must offer the sincerest, “F-you”. Seriously, as long as America can’ adequately take care of its sick, we’re not a great country. For me to say that doesn’t make me unpatriotic; it makes me aspire to living in a greater than nation than we have right now.

– Minimum wage. Basic philosophical differences. Either let the market take care of itself or ensure that people can get as close to getting over poverty as possible. I go for the latter.

Elections DO matter. Electing a wave of Dems into Congress in 2006 finally got the minimum wage raised. It’s about fundamental decency toward your fellow human beings. You could let the market take care of healthcare, too, if you didn’t mind seeing millions of people die needlessly.

– Religion inserted into governing. I don’t want to live in a Christian nation. I want to live in a nation that truly doesn’t care what your spiritual beliefs are. From the motto on our money to abortion, religion should have no role in the government.

This is probably the one area where I think Obama doesn’t help much on an issue I care about. The night he joined Rick Warren for that discussion on faith was the night I almost decided I wanted nothing to do with this election.

And look where Obama’s much-professed Christian faith has gotten him. Millions of stupid Christan Yahoos still think he’s a Muslim. Meanwhile, McCain never goes to church, and no one says a word. When faith and politics intersect, it’s a clusterf*ck.

– Abortion. If the government wants to define a human life as beginning before its birth, than life certificates ought to be filed as soon as conception is confirmed. If life is SO precious that women cannot choose whether or not to deliver the life growing inside of them, then the government ought to make sure that every life in the country has adequate food and shelter and love. Can it do that? Do Bush’s policies promote such a policy? Quite the opposite. His policies lead to more poverty, to more sickness, to more general unhappiness. Not to mention all of the people he murdered while governor of Texas. Or the 100,000 dead in Iraq as a result of the war. Make sure every person who has been born has been considered precious before worrying about those who haven’t been born yet.

And yet, still, millions of pro-lifers whose brains haven’t matured past the fetal stage will consider no other issue than abortion when marking their ballots. They will vote against their own economic interests. They will vote for a poorer healthcare system for their children, weaker environmental standards for their children, a more anti-American world for their children, and less opportunity for their children rather than consider a candidate who publicly states that he wants to work towards there being future abortions while still protecting a woman’s right to choose what do with her body. Yes, I think to be a one-issue voter like this is flat-out idiotic. Demonstrate that you’re voting for McCain because he is “pro-life” throughout the spectrum of the life experience, and you’ve got yourself a legitimate argument. The last time I checked, McCain was a war-hawk who supports the death penalty and backs a healthcare policy that would severely curtail the options available to those with catastrophic illnesses. I’m sorry, but you are not voting for the “pro-life” candidate.

– Basic intelligence. I just think it’s important that the leader of the free world be wise. I don’t know why this isn’t important to most people. It seems so basic. I’d like a president who truly understands most of the issues before him, who is curious about the world. By numerous accounts, Bush is not such a person.

By most accounts, McCain is far more intelligent than George W. Bush. Unfortunately, his running mate, Governor Palin of Alaska, is not. In fact, all of the evidence out there suggests that Bush is intellectually superior to Palin. How scary is that?

[Later that evening] I am not optimistic because Kerry MUST win Ohio, and then, assuming Bush takes Florida, there’s a scenario by which the final result is 269-269, if Kerry gets Minnesota and Iowa and Bush gets Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico (I’m making very crude estimates based on county-by-county tallies). So Kerry has got to win Ohio AND one of the ones that are leaning Bush, and I’m assuming that Kerry will get New Hampshire and Hawaii.

Friggin Ohio…

Burr beat Bowles. Sh*t.

And the Republicans think the exit polls are underestimating the Bush vote nationwide.

Bush almost certainly has Florida.

I think Cuyahoga County in Ohio can give Kerry the win there. But then, he still needs another state IN ADDITION to Iowa, New Hampshire, and Minnesota. Wisconsin or New Mexico MUST go to Kerry.

And most of the toss-up Senate races have gone to the Republicans.

And 10 states are banning gay marriage.

in 2008, Prop-8 better go down in California. If Obama wins but Prop-8 passes, it’s still a sad day for America on balance.

James Carville just said it’s basically over, so it must be over. This is devastating. I think I ought to try to get to sleep. I don’t know what happens next. I can’t stand the other side. There’s so little common ground.

This is bleak.

And it sure has been devastating, to have had eight years of George W. Bush in charge. It has been a bleak eight years, indeed.

48 hours from now, bleakness dissipates at long last, and hope emerges…

A Closing Argument

It’s from way back on July 1, but I just heard it for the first time. I’m not sure if I know anyone who needs this argument made to them, but maybe someone reading this does.

AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka: