Tuesday, November 11, 2008

For Veteran's Day

I found this gem, from Whitman's Leaves of Grass:


The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d Sabbath,
On the pavement here—and there beyond, it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.


Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the silvery round moon;
Beautiful over the house tops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent moon.


I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key’d bugles;
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
As with voices and with tears.


I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring;
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.


For the son is brought with the father;
In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell;
Two veterans, son and father, dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.


Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive;
And the day-light o’er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.


In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin’d;
(’Tis some mother’s large, transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)


O strong dead-march, you please me!
O moon immense, with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans, passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.


The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music;
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

Never forget.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Once A Starbucks Republican...

Now a Scoop Jackson Democrat. Read on, this is good:

The Democrats are on the right track. They got their problems, and the biggest ones have names like Pelosi and Boxer, but all in all their approach fits my political persuasion. We need to start thinking about public policy again, something that Barack Obama has preached. It isn't about big government or small government, but good government. I think Mike Bloomberg said it best during the financial crisis when he said the question is not do we bailout companies or do we not, but which ones and why.

So why not be an independent? Because it isn't practical. I will continue to vote for Republicans when I see fit, but we are a two party country. The way I see it is that you are either on one side or the other.

Why Scoop Jackson Democrat? Senator Jackson was from Washington State. He was a fiscally responsible, pro national defense, anti-communist social justice crusader who cared deeply about protecting the environment. In other words... my kind of Democrat. The emergence of Obama and other politicians like Jim Webb, Jon Tester, Steny Hoyer, Harold Ford, and many of the pro-gun, fiscally conservative moderates in the Democratic Party, has replaced what was once the Nelson Rockefeller wing of the Repbulican Party. The loss of Congressman Chris Shays was symbolic somewhat... he was the last of a dying bread within the GOP.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Obama has won the Presidency!

OK, it's not quite official yet, but he just won Ohio, and he's got 200 electoral votes. McCain's got no real chance, at this point.

More to come.

UPDATE: Victory. Obama has won it. 338-153.

McCain has conceded, and was a class act.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Case for Barack Obama (Or At Least, Why I'm Voting For Him)

This isn't really a secret at this point, but I am voting for Obama tomorrow. I guess this is the official endorsement. I put this off to the end for a variety of reasons, mainly due to a lack of time, but I'm not worried about it being too close to Election Day to influence any votes, as it's clear most here have made up their minds already, and I don't suspect I'll be changing them. No big deal. In effect, this is the answer to the question, "Why are you voting for this guy?"

First off, let's get some preliminaries out of the way. I'm a moderate liberal Democrat, who generally comes from the center-Left, DLC/hawkish end of the Party. I'm pro-life, I think the MoveOn-Kos wing of the party has too much influence, and while I've disagreed with most of his policies, I don't have a pathological contempt for Bush.

Ok, so why Obama? To put it bluntly, I think on most of the core issues that are facing the country right now, I think Obama is best equipped to deal with those issues, meaning he has the policy vision, and temperament to lead. I like the guy. What I saw him in 2004, and in the early days of this campaign, I see in him now. He's got skills. You may not agree with Obama's economic and fiscal policies, but he has been pretty consistent throughout on the key issues, and not just on the economic crisis. McCain on the other hand, has been all over the place. McCain is not Bush, and I do agree that the Dems have used the McCain as Bush meme a bit too much, but with the exception of earmark reform and talks about a spending freeze, he really hasn't clearly laid out how his economic approach will be different than the standard GOP platform. If you're for that platform, that's fine, but a lot of us Dems see things differently. On the recent economic crisis, McCain has been all over the place. First he said everything was fine, the he recognized the crisis, then he was against the bailout, then for it. He suspends his campaign, and tries to postpone the debate, in what has to be called one of the most ill-executed moves in a while. He tries to paint Obama as being on the sidelines, but Obama always argued that one could deal with the crisis and run the campaign. At the meeting with Bush, Obama was engaged, but McCain didn't say much. McCain suspended his campaign, but sat back in the meeting, and when it came time to actually do what he suspended his campaign to do, he didn't get it done. Surely, the bill eventually passed, but it was a more bloated one. What's my point here? While Obama was consistent on the issue, McCain shifted positions several times on this, and then tried to paint Obama has the big spender, while voting for the bill that he once opposed, not mention adding another $300,000 plan to buy bad mortgages. Again, mileage is your own, but I think Obama showed real leadership.

What about foreign policy, you may ask. Let's be clear. I, for all intents and purposes am a supporter of the Iraq war. Obama, for all intents and purposes isn't. I wish he was as I am on this, but he's not. I have noticed though, and I'm not the only one to notice this, that Obama has always left wiggle room on his support for ending the war. He has always resisted the more aggresive pullout approach from the MoveOn crew. In fact, although Obama does get a lot of support from the anti-war faction, if they're looking for a Carteresque dove, they're deluding themselves. Obama has always been on target about Afghanistan, and contrary to McCain's distortions, he has it right on Pakistan.

To be fair, McCain has consistently supported the surge, and did so when it wasn't popular. He has my utmost respect for that. If this election were just about Iraq, or if I genuinely felt that Obama would somehow surrender to terror, things would be different. Obama was wrong on the surge, and he has yet to openly admit that, but he has acknowledged its success, for the most part. On Israel, I'll say again that if I doubted for a second that Obama wasn't committed to Israel, I couldn't vote for him. As to Iran, he did prevaricate on preconditions, but I think he has come around to an acceptable position.

The McCain camp continues to bring up Obama's supposed vote to defund the troops. Obama dealt with this in the first debate, but the charge keeps coming up. The issue at hand was not funding the troops, but timetables. Obama voted for the timetables troop-funding bill, and McCain voted against it, because of tmetables. The non-timetables troop-funding bill Obama voted against, was because of timetables. I suspect Obama voted against it, knowing it would pass either way. I suspect he was trying to make a political statement, and made the same mistake Kerry made in 2004. Honestly, I would've voted against it, because I don't really support artificial timetables, but let's be clear: The issue at hand was timetables, not troop funding. Obama has a consistent record of voting to fund the war, despite his opposition to it, much to the chagrin of many anti-war Lefties.

On the Russia-Georgia conflict, overall I thought Obama handled himself fairly well, with the exception of one pernicious gaffe, which fortunately he has not repeated.

There is of course the question of experience, or rather Obama's lack thereof. compared to McCain. McCain has an impressive record, and is a veteran on the battlefield, and in Congress. He is a man of honor, and sacrificed immensely for his country. Obama doesn't have that resume. He just doesn't, and there's no getting around that, but I believe he does have the temperament, policy vision, and judgment on the key issues, moreso than McCain. Heck, maybe it's just that I agree with Obama more, but I don't think so.

Let me say though, that both these candidates have their flaws. Obama is hardly perfect, and has some issues. I am concerned about the possibility of an unfettered Democratic majority in Congress. The Pelosi-Reid era hasn't exactly lived up to its expectations, and while I don't doubt his sincere belief in bipartisanship, he doesn't have the record that McCain has. McCain has a clear record of bipartisanship, not to mention opposing his own Party, and Bush. Obama doesn't have that much of a legislative record, but he does have good relations with many Republicans (and not just the ones endorsing him), and he has worked with Republicans in the State Senate, as well as the U.S. Senate. He was President of the Harvard Law Review, let's not forget. My concern, to the extent that I am concerned, isn't that Obama won't work with Republicans, but whether he will be able to oppose his own party when necessary. Say what you want about Sarah Palin, she has opposed her own party. The thing is, I'm not really sure about her record of working with Democrats, though. McCain to his credit, has done both. Obama has resisted many of the impulses of MoveOn.org, and he did defy the Party leadership and campaign for Lieberman in 2006. Yeah, it's thin I know, but I'm willing to gamble. After all, how Left can Obama really go, with Blue Dogs in the House, and many Red-state Dems in the Senate?

Again, I'm concerned about the card check bill, and the possibility of the Fairness Doctrine coming back, but I'm willing to take the risk.

As to the negativity of the campaign, I freely cede that neither candidate has been pure. The Obama campaign has put out some questionable ads, and a few that were pretty sleazy. As I see it though, most of Obama's ads have been policy-based, while McCain's ads have been straight-negative for the last three months, and many were just straight up personal attacks. Obama has never questioned McCain's patriotism, or belittled his military service (at least not intentionally). The McCain crew and his supporters have gone personal on everything, and I may be the only one who feels this way, but in last few months, it's been over the top. True, many Obama supporters, and in certain instances Obama himself have brought up the race card, but it seems that they've gone after Obama on everything but race ("palling around with terrorists," real America vs. fake America, Obama is a liar, Obama is a socialist, etc), and it's gone beyond the pale, in my book. I will not lay that blame for the lunatic conspiracies (Obama as Muslim invader, phony birth certificate, Bill Ayers as ghostwriter of Obama's book, Obama's logo, etc) on the McCain campaign, but McCain and Palin have launched some beyond the pale attacks, and frankly it's beneath a man of McCain's character.

This is running long, so I'll wrap this up. As for Obama's alliances, at the end of the day, they don't bother me that much. He did flip on public financing, as I said before, that's the one typical politician move I cannot defend. At the end of the day, though, despite his weaknesses, I believe he is the man we need right now. He is not however, the Messiah. Many of his supporters are drunk with hero worship, but in the end, he's just a man, a mere mortal. If you're expecting him to heal the breaches of the universe, prepare to be disappointed. He may be running as a new kind of politician, but he's still a politician. He's run an impressive and historic campaign, but he's made mistakes.

I was technically undecided up until late September, although to be honest, I've leaned Obama's way most of the time. I've seriously considered backing McCain many times, and I think what took me so long was that I still contend that the choice is between two decent, patriotic men. I say one more time that McCain is an honorable and decent man, and despite my issues with his campaign, he still has my respect. As for Sarah Palin, my view of her has diminished over the last couple of months, but she still seems a decent person, and she does have a record.

Many will justify their votes against Obama because of the pro-Obama bias in the press, and the press has made quite the fool of itself this election cycle, but to borrow a phrase, you punish the press for its failures, not the candidate(s).

If Obama wins, he will be the first black President. As an American, and as a black man, that is a great thing for me, but that's not the reason I'm voting for him. The fact that he's made it this far is proof that the barrier has been torn down, and if Obama loses, it won't be because America is a racist country. It won't be because America didn't want a black man to be President, rather they didn't want this particular black man, for a variety of reasons. Will racism be out there? Surely, but I think most Americans won't stoop to that. Sue me, I'm an optimist.

And that's what I want to end this on. If Obama wins, this republic will survive. Yes, it will. If McCain wins, this republic will survive. If Obama loses, I'll be disappointed, but I'll get over it. If he wins, I won't gloat (although I fear others might).

And that's it. Go vote, if you haven't already.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Crazy Right-Wing Anti-Obama Conspiracy Roundup, 11/2/08

I'm not sure if it's desperation or just plain insanity, but just when you thought the anti-Obama conspiracies couldn't get any more farfetched, comes this one that suggests that Obama's book Dreams from My Father was ghostwritten by Bill Ayers, and an actual attempt to prove it (HT: Althouse):

Now, we see this about "Dr Peter Millican, a philosophy don at Hertford College, Oxford, [who] has devised a computer software program that can detect when works are by the same author by comparing favourite words and phrases." He's been contacted by "Robert Fox, a California businessman and brother-in-law of Chris Cannon, a Republican congressman from Utah" about running the test on Obama's book and Ayers's.

There's more:

Millican took a preliminary look and found the charges “very implausible”. A deal was agreed for more detailed research but when Millican said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned.

Millican said: “I thought it was extremely unlikely that we would get a positive result. It is the sort of thing where people make claims after seeing a few crude similarities and go overboard on them.” He said Fox gave him the impression that Cannon had got “cold feet about it being seen to be funded by the Republicans”.

Uhm hmm. In a word, bogus. Ann also points to another meme that actually manages to out-wingnut this one. At first glance, I thought Zombietime was doing a parody, but he and many of his commenters are quite serious, and worked themselves into a frenzy. It's funny and tragic at the same time.

On a lighter, less insane note, McCain was on SNL last night. He was really good.

"When people say how excited they are about this election, I can now say, 'Maybe for you. But I lost my home.'"

Former Obama speechwriter Wendy Button has had with the Democratic Party, and is endorsing McCain:

I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.

I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.

You know what? I'm for Obama, but I know how Wendy Button feels, to an extent. I've criticized the way the McCain camp and the GOP have conducted themselves as of late, but my Party, at the end of the day hasn't been much better. My view of Sarah Palin has diminished in last few weeks, but the level of contempt, and the lunatic wave of attacks on her by the press and the far-left is a disturbing thing. The Joe the Plumber narrative is not one I've really bought in to, but the way this guy was attacked by the press was just bizzare, and has only made him more of an issue.

Oh yeah, and Obama still refuses to admit he was wrong on the surge. Just sayin.'

HT: Simon

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thoughts on Wealth Spreading

I found this interesting, from Michael Kinsley in Time:

Seven years ago, as Brokaw pointed out, McCain himself was sounding redistributionist, complaining about President Bush's tax cuts. Campaigning against Bush in 2000, he said that "when you ... reach a certain level of comfort, there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more." Obama has said no more than this, except to set the "level of comfort" at $250,000, which is pretty comfortable. McCain is free to argue that Obama will raise taxes on people making less than $250,000. My bet is that whoever wins the election will be forced to. But his apparent belief that the very expression "spread the wealth" puts Obama beyond the pale is so out of touch that it's almost touching. It belongs on the golf courses of Arizona, not on the campaign trail.

Uh huh. For the record, let's look back to what McCain actually said when he voted against the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003:

In 2001, just days before Bush's first tax cut passed, McCain lamented on ABC's "This Week" that, "I'd like to see much more of this tax cut shared by working Americans. . . . I think it still devotes too much of it to the wealthiest Americans."

And this:

Most of the economists view this as primarily benefiting wealthier Americans," McCain said on CNBC at the time. "There's a theory, I think, that's prevalent -- it was true in the 2001 tax cuts -- that if you give it to the wealthy people, then they will then, you know, create jobs, et cetera. The interesting thing to me is that most economists will tell you that it's the middle-income Americans that have been keeping the economy afloat."

Now look, people change their minds all the time, and it's clear that McCain has changed his mind on the Bush tax cuts. The debate on tax policy is one we still ought to have, but what vexes me is that Obama has basically made the same argument McCain did at the time, against the Bush tax cuts, and he's being called a socialist for it.