Thursday, February 21, 2008

Not a Fluke

Starbuck is doing that yoga-pose in front of the fire again, so apparently that works for her. Too lazy to take a picture and upload it for proof. Sue me.

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I enjoyed the Texas debate tonight. We all know I'm no huge fan of Senator Clinton, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: we could do worse. What a relief to know the days of the Bush era are truly numbered and regardless of how the nomination process turns out, the next president is going to be confident, articulate and on the right side of the issues. (No, I don't think McCain has a prayer, and for the record, based on its content so far, I think this New York Times story is about the most ridiculous and transparent thing I have ever seen and I am tremendously disappointed in their decision to run with it. If they have more, they'd better show their hand right quick.)

I remain impressed with Obama. He could have made an attempt to seal the deal tonight, to put nails in the coffin Clinton's campaign has built for her, but he wouldn't kick her when she was down. When she tried to play hardball and go negative, you could feel the audience cringing. After he neatly dispatched her accusations of plagiarism by reminding her that Deval Patrick is his national campaign co-chair and that Patrick encouraged him to use the phrase in question, she doubled down and said, "I just think if you're going to give speeches, your words ought to be your own." At which point she was hissed by the audience.

She also dug herself a hole with her spin that Obama's healthcare plan leaves 15 million people uninsured. That actually taps in to my own dissatisfaction with his plan: studies show that even if healthcare insurance is "affordable," people who live paycheck to paycheck and are generally healthy aren't likely to pay for what they don't perceive that they need. Making healthcare "affordable" won't really address the big problem, but neither will Clinton's plan to assess fines on poor people for not having insurance. The answer is genuine universal healthcare. Free healthcare. For everyone. But neither of them are ready to go there so we have to pick from what we've got, and while neither plan is perfect, at least Obama isn't going to penalize poor people.

I don't understand how people can see the two of them up there side by side and come away with the impression that Obama is somehow substantially vaguer on policy and specific solutions. They seem equally competent to me in this regard; the question, then, is who is best equipped to implement the changes needed? And I'm sorry, but I think unfortunately for her, Hillary comes laden with baggage -- not all of it her fault, but some, for sure -- that Obama doesn't have. I think he will have superior success with identical proposals because he hasn't been engaged in partisan trench warfare for the last sixteen years; he has spent that time making change while she made enemies.


Educator-To-Be said...

When and why did you give up your singing career?

My mother trained for a singing career, but she realized she did not have the talent to succeed by the time she reached her late twenties. She says she wished someone had told her this before she was forced to figure it out for herself. It would have saved her a lot of time and trouble and heartache. She did use her love for music to become a music teacher, though.

You don't seem to have adapted to realities as well as my mother. You have a huge chip on your shoulder against the world. It comes across in everything you write.

It is sad, really.


Jeff said...

Wow, who the hell was that?

Anyway, I pretty much agree with your post.

Zachary K. Hubbard said...

When I cast my vote to support a candidate, I do so knowing that their voting record is in line with my values.

I'd imagine that most of us as Americans are outraged with the war and occupation as much as we feel betrayed by the infringements that have taken place on our civil liberties over the course of the past seven years.

The Bush administration has been awful for us as a nation, but several key members of the Democratic party have been accomplices in their wrongdoing.

Obama has voted time and time again to fund the war and voted in favor of PATRIOT Act II (He was not a member of congress at the federal level for PATRIOT Act I). Further, in March of 2007 he voted to cast sanctions against Iran, enabling the Bush administration's buildup for their next war.

Hillary has been equally as bad. She has been in the Senate longer so it isn't fair to compare records dating back to before Obama claimed his chair as Senator of Illinois.

Between the two, Hillary has also voted more frequently in line with the Bush administration -- but that is only because Barack has abstained from voting several times on politically risky legislation.

Is that a telling sign of how he might behave as the leader of a nation? Ducking issues that are important to the people in favor of keeping his corporate sponsorship appeased?

Leaders should have courage and integrity and I don't see it demonstrated in the voting records of either of the two candidates we have left to choose from for the Democratic party.

Its a shame. We're at a tipping point as a nation and we need excellent leadership more than ever. Unfortunately, the great majority of us let the same media who sold us the Iraq War sell us our presidential candidates.

And my point in this -- I didn't enjoy the debate.

DJRainDog said...

Amy: Whaaaaat?! You clearly have no idea whereof you speak. If anyone I know does NOT have a chip on his shoulder against the world, it's Andy; he's done a pretty fine job of rolling with the punches while adapting to the circumstances thrown at him and trying to find the right path for himself. And his singing career isn't given-up-on; it's just on hold for a bit and taking a different direction. Furthermore, his extended hiatus has NOTHING to do with insufficient talent. I am a professional musician in New York, and from what little I've heard, I can say confidently that Andy can blow the majority of my colleagues (and frankly, me, as well) out of the water without trying very hard at all. Pipes? He has them. I wonder why you've adopted such a shrill and judgmental tone here; as someone who's also been a teacher of music, it makes me think you might not be the sort of person I want teaching our youth.

More ON-topic: Zachary, I didn't see the debate (I deliberately don't have a TV), but you make some excellent points. I don't see Clinton or Obama as strong enough leaders for this country at this time; they simply don't have the spine necessary to do what needs to be done. Andy, I'm sad to say it, but I think you've misjudged the American people; more than 50% of them elected the evil ass-hat who currently lives in the White House. And remembering where I grew up, I must tell you that I believe there are still enough Americans who will vote against a man based on the color of his skin that if it comes down to Obama vs. McCain in November (and it probably will), come January, we will have yet another old white guy in the old White House. You're right, Zachary, the media have sold us down the river once again. Maybe it is they, rather than the politicians, that I should want guillotined.

Andy said...

DJ and Zachary: You both make good points. Look, I don't think Obama is some magical, messianic figure who is going to be sworn in and suddenly the country will be fixed. Especially considering the monumental problems Bush is going to leave behind! And I'm under no illusions that Obama's charm and pragmatism is going to be enough to just melt away the partisan rancor in Washington and that Democrats will lay down with the Republicans. I do think he is going to respond to that partisanship in a vastly different way than his immediate predecessor and his competitor: if you watch Obama in the debates when Hillary gets shrill, you see him just shake his head and then he calmly says, "No..." and then explains, very simply, without spin, what his case is. I believe what he WILL do is abandon the kind of language we are used to hearing from Bush and Pelosi et al. And I think he will succeed in making it harder for Congress to play these stupid word games (Freedom Fries?) because he's going to come before the American people and give us some straight talk.

And I think, based on the poll numbers from the primaries and caucuses thus far, it's pretty clear that, no, these aren't going to be "the same Americans" 50% of whom voted for Bush, twice. Bush/Gore and Bush/Kerry were the epitome of the "politics as usual" that Obama and his supporters are so sick of; a lot of Americans simply thought it wasn't worth voting, because, like you, they weren't convinced one would really be any better than the other. (I think in retrospect, this country would be a lot better off had Gore been President the first four years, because then we never would have had Bush for the 2nd four.) But if you look at the turnout in the primaries, the Democrats are on average drawing twice as many voters as Republicans, even in solidly red states. Look at your home state of Virginia, land of Senator "Macaca" and some of the most virulent anti-gay laws anywhere in the nation, home of one of the secessionist Episcopal dioceses. In the primary, more than 623,000 people turned out to vote just for Obama. The total in Virginia of ALL votes cast for the Republican candidates is 481,000. These kinds of numbers are true all across the board: we are seeing record turnout for primaries and caucuses. Part of the reason it took so long to declare the winner in New Mexico was that the state ran out of ballots. No, it's not the same Americans who elected Bush. Obama is drawing back the disgusted and disaffected, because after 28 years of solid partisan nonsense, we are finally seeing someone that we believe is giving us straight talk.

Zachary: as far as Obama's votes go, it sounds like you are at least in part referring to his "present" votes in the Illinois senate. A lot of these bills weren't just "controversial," they were deliberate "gotcha" attempts by Republicans, pre-election tactics where they go out and say, "Look, Senator X voted against the Don't Kill Puppies Act!" They give these bills stupid names (the Patriot Act!) to mask the horrible things they do. On the famous abortion bill in Illinois, Obama was counseled BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD to vote "present." He's not a coward, he's SAVVY.

And for other bills in Congress, like the Patriot Act, that he supported, I don't think you're paying attention to the way Congress works. They attach all kinds of things to these bills. If the Republicans want something passed that they know will never get a majority, they just attach it to a bill that HAS to be passed. And I believe Obama continued to vote to fund the war because he knew cutting off the money wasn't actually going to end this war, it was just going to deny the troops the equipment and support they need. The way to bring them home is not to just stop paying, it's to get to work and figure out how to bring them home. I think he's consistently made the wise choices here.