Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

tuesday, continued

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Here’s why he’s paid to do this and I’m not: Andrew Sullivan’s sermon on why Obama should win tomorrow.


Saturday, November 1st, 2008

The election is finally coming – Tuesday next week. Unfortunately I won’t be able to vote – my citizenship ceremony is two weeks later, on the 19th, but that of course doesn’t mean I don’t have strong opinions. Plus this is my website so I can say what I like (your opinions may vary) This is going to be something of a screed and a brain dump – brace yourself.

So without further ado, here are my thoughts. First: why the Republicans in general, and the Bush Republicans specifically, must lose:

The way Bush “won” the election in 2000
Bush’s general absence from the White House until September 11, 2001
Secrecy around Cheney’s energy policies
Turning down the Kyoto treaty
The information blackout from the Government in the first few days after 9/11
I have to give some credit for the way the Afghanistan venture started – it wasn’t too immediate, and the initial results were very promising. But clearly that has all gone awry – drug production and smuggling is out of control and the Taliban are resurgent
Iraq: the falsified evidence, complete lack of follow-up planning, the looting, torture of prisoners, lack of understanding of the Sunni-Shiite issue, power vacuum, the maltreatment of prisoners: in general a complete disaster
Vilification of anyone who disagreed with the war as being unpatriotic
Expanded presidential powers, including the over-use of executive signing statements which mean that the President doesn’t have to abide by new laws he has just signed
Allowing Rumsfeld to stay in charge
The tax cuts, which were so lopsided in favor of the rich
Allowing the party to become the party of bigotry, homophobia, anti-non-Christian, anti-science
The economic collapse
The deficit
Lack of investment in education and infrastructure
Contempt for habeas corpus and international standards of treatment of prisoners and endorsement of torture
Cronyism and the valuing of ideology over competence: the nomination of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court, and Heckuvajob Brownie during Hurrican Katrina
I could go on…

And why McCain specifically should lose:
This is difficult, because until about 6 months ago I really liked McCain. I thought he was horribly treated in the primaries of 2000 when Bush beat him. And he seemed a reasonable, likable kind of person. But since winning the party’s endorsement he seems to have turned his back on all of that. He seems to have abandoned almost all of his principles in favor of doing anything to get elected. He has hired the people who slimed him in 2000, and is engaged in (or at least not discouraging) very similar treatment of Obama: the allegations of being un-American, un-Christian, anti-family, socialist etc. In fact he seems to have allowed himself to get swept up in this tidal wave of power grabbing at almost any cost. I know that for a while I hoped that once he was elected he would return to the genial, intelligent, questioning, collaborative person he seemed to be as a Senator. However I can’t help feeling that if he allows himself to be manipulated so extremely, what’s going to happen during his Presidency? And this has expressed itself most in his selection of Sarah Palin for his Vice Presidential candidate. It turned out that he had met her maybe twice before the nomination (which again shows how he was swayed by others – he abdicated his most important campaign staffing decision). While I’m sure she is personable, she clearly wasn’t vetted, which is why the revelations about her personal life kept spilling out. The things which worried me most were her evangelical leanings – the infamous “casting out of witches” video, implying that us being in Iraq is God’s work, being allied to pastors who believe in the end times, and that Alaska will be a haven for the “saved”, creationism (of course), abstinence education, and her association with the Jews for Jesus movement. Then there’s the fact that as a small town mayor she inherited a clean balance sheet and left the town millions in debt. This despite charging rape victims for rape recovery kits. And her association with the Alaska Independence Party, which her husband was a member of for seven years, and which worked with Iran to have the USA denounced at the United Nations. And she calls Obama anti-American and says that he has radical associations. And another thing: since McCain won his primary, he has frequently said things which are either stretches of the truth, or completely untrue. For example yesterday his campaign manager said that he knows McCain is about to win a huge upset. When there is no polling data suggesting this, it’s hard to believe that it’s true or that you are not being lied to.

Phew, so now that’s out of the way.

Now, why Obama should win:
First, and most obvious, he seems to stand for everything in opposition to what was written above. That could be enough, but I want more than just kicking the bums out.
He is a genius orator and writer. This was maligned by the Republicans earlier in the campaign, but I think it really counts for something.
He knows how to work within the system. His rise through the minefield of Chicago and Illinois politics was very smartly handled – he knew how to meet the right people and how to influence and impress them.
He has pulled together a lot of very smart people. He has developed think tanks to address the major issues, and seems to rely on evidence rather than just ideology.
He has pulled himself up from a situation where his father was essentially absent all his life, his mother drifted around the world, and he was raised by his grandparents with not much money. He excelled through university and used his education and intelligence to get on in life.
He has run an amazing campaign, with an amazingly dedicated leadership and staff. He has relied on many tools for organizing, making it feel like a grassroots campaign in which everyone has a stake.
He has proven his smarts with the way he has spoken and acted internationally and at home.
Through the long, long primaries, and since, he and his campaign have kept their focus. They defeated Hillary and Bill Clinton, for goodness’ sake! A relative unknown pulled the Democratic Party along. As Peggy Noonan very eloquently wrote a couple of days ago, “He took down a political machine without raising his voice”

I look forward to him building up this country again by giving us all a voice.


Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Update to that bizarre picture I linked to earlier. Firstly, McCain was indeed not wearing a flag pin – with all the fuss the Republicans were making about Obama not wearing one earlier in the campaign, how come it’s OK now for McCain not to wear one?

Also, the AmericaBlog ran a caption/photoshop contest for people to update the pic. Here’s my total favorite – apart from it being funny, it’s a neat metaphor (I’m sure you could have worked that out for yourself). Click the image to embiggenate:

Evolution to Obama

Evolution to Obama

almost done

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Well the last presidential debate was last night, and by various measures the debates have been good for Obama. The instant polls from various news outlets, particularly CNN and CBS, showed strong support for Obama’s performance. In fact you could say that at this point the following image sums things up:

It’s from Reuters: “US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008.”

UPDATE: Just a minor detail but it looks like only Obama is wearing a flag pin. Does that say anything about being there for the country?

obama zen

Monday, October 13th, 2008

A well-thought article in the Times from Andrew Sullivan on Obama’s calm and political judo, and how these things have helped him. My favorite paragraph:

Obama rarely directly attacks. He subtly baits. His most brilliant rope-a-dope of the entire campaign was against Bill Clinton in the spring. In a newspaper interview, Obama cited Ronald Reagan as the last transformational president. He didn’t mention Clinton. The former president was offended by being implicitly dissed, took the bait and unleashed a series of unwise public scoffs at the young Democrat, culminating in a dismissal of Obama as another Jesse Jackson. Suddenly, black Democrats abandoned Clinton’s wife, and the Clintons’ base collapsed. Obama merely stepped out of the way as the Clintons self-destructed. He didn’t just end their campaign; he helped to bury their reputation.

Not to mention “He does his thing, raises masses of money, keeps his staff in perfect order and focuses on issues and themes.” There’s quite a contrast in this race at the moment.

and another thing

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

A few months ago there was a furore because Michelle Obama said something to the effect that for the first time she was proud of her country. Now there’s a very minor issue being raised about VP nominee Palin’s association with the Alaska Independence Party and the fact that the AIP worked with Iran to denounce the USA at at UN meeting, and that Palin’s husband joined the AIP the following year. I don’t mean to point fingers at the nominees specifically here, but there does seem to be something of a double-standard: for some reason your patriotism is pretty much unquestionable if you’re a Republican, but fair game if you’re a Democrat – any ideas why?

rage and anger

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Hmm, not a pleasant way of making your case. Obama says regularly that he understands that this is part of being in politics, and that he has been called worse things on the basketball court, but I have to say that no matter what your policies are, or party affiliation is, if you are a candidate who is running on such a negative message, you’ve lost me.


Friday, October 3rd, 2008

It was the vice presidential debate last night, and I listened to some on the radio. The first third I thought Palin did very well, and Biden didn’t really know how to counter. The balance seemed to shift later on, as Palin’s responses got more repetitive, and I think Biden kind of got into the swing of it, and had more chances for gravity and to display his experience. Your interpretation may be different of course, although snap polls seem fairly strong in Biden’s favor at the moment, especially among independents. There was potential for interesting moments – both these candidates have shown themselves to be gaffe-prone, but I think that this excerpt from the transcript is quite something:

Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced [sic] your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education and I’m glad you did. I know education you are passionate about with your wife being a teacher for 30 years, and god bless her. Her reward is in heaven, right? I say, too, with education, America needs to be putting a lot more focus on that and our schools have got to be really ramped up in terms of the funding that they are deserving. Teachers needed to be paid more. I come from a house full of school teachers. My grandma was, my dad who is in the audience today, he’s a schoolteacher, had been for many years. My brother, who I think is the best schoolteacher in the year, and here’s a shout-out to all those third graders at Gladys Wood Elementary School, you get extra credit for watching the debate

I’ve also read some chat about Palin using cue-cards, which isn’t a bad thing, but it might be if you don’t have one for the question:

Sarah Palin debate tactic flowchart

Sarah Palin debate tactic flowchart


Saturday, September 6th, 2008

If it’s good enough for an unknown from Alaska, it’s good enough for me. Here is the news.

palin puzzle

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Last week John McCain nominated Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential choice, and lots of people are quite perplexed about why he did so. On one hand she seems to appeal to the Republican base – she seems to be very definite on issues like gun control (or lack thereof), abortion (or complete ban thereof), a son about to serve in Iraq (although the same is true of the son of Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden) and general evangelicalness (she supported Pat Buchanan in 1996, although that won’t help their campaign with Jewish voters).

However, she’s very inexperienced – less than two years of a geographically enormous state with a population of only 600,000, and that after a few years as mayor of a town of 7,000 people. She doesn’t seem to have much recorded opinion on international affairs (although a Fox News pundit and now Cindy McCain says that with Alaska being right next to Russia she does have some exposure to international matters – as the Daily Show retorted, Alaska is near the North Pole so she must also know Santa) and there seem to be some questions around the firing of some of her senior officials. It’s worth reading this short article from Newsweek on her biography for details.

But the biggest thing is that it just seems like such an odd choice. There are so many other good potential candidates, and pulling a barely-tested, barely-vetted running mate who by all accounts McCain had only met once or twice in person just seems like such a strange thing to do. Perhaps he thinks that it will win him the election by appealing to women voters, but it seems just, frankly, flippant.